Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cover Madness Giveaway

As you've noticed lately there has been a wave of fabulous cover reveals that are just making us all giddy. To celebrate, me and Jenni at Alluring Reads (I consider her my little sister blog >.<) have decided to collect them and host a giveaway together, where you can chose one of these epic covers to pre-order for your shelf, and at the same time, say thank you to our wonderful followers! Let's see all the pretties (click on cover for Goodreads)!

Xpresso Weekly: Stacking the Shelves (10)

Xpresso Weekly is my edition of Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews featuring the books
I got this week, and I also mention blog news/happenings of the past week

This week at Xpresso Reads
I hope everyone is enjoying their summer! We had crap weather this week but the weekend is full of sun! :D So what did you miss this week? What about the TON of new covers that were revealed! I posted a bunch on Facebook, I'll just link you to the reveal album here, the new ones are on top it'll just be easier. Includes Requiem (Delirium, #3), Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky, #2), The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines, #3) & more! On the blog I had the Temptation blog tour that stopped by for my review, a guest post, and you can enter two fabulous giveaways. One includes a prize pack with copies of Speechless, Inside Out, and Temptation! As for future tours, you can look forward to the Ashen Winter blog tour that will be dropping by in October which I'm extremely excited for! All tour dates can be found on the sidebar.

This week's reviews:

Stacking the Shelves
As some of you can't or don't like to watch vlogs, the pictures are below! I got distracted and forgot to say a BIG thank you to Henrietta from Leisure Reads for the gifted book! 
And after I say bye, I come back for an encore >.<

Bloggers mentionned:
-Jenni from Alluring Reads
-Kara from Great Imaginations
-Henrietta from Leisure Reads

Click on covers or title links below for Goodreads
I got for review:

*Huge thank you to Random House Canada, Hachette Book Group Canada, HarperCollins Canada, Random House Children's Books, Macmillan Publishers, Bloomsbury UK, St. Martin's Press, and Deb Hanrahan for these review copies -making my week epic!*

I was gifted:
From the lovely Henrietta from Leisure Reads (Thanks so much, muffin!)

Hope you all had a fantastic week! 
Leave me a link to your book haul! :) 
Love your faces!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Review: Solstice by Donna Burgess

Solstice: A Novel of the Zombie Apocalypse
Donna Burgess
Release date: May 7th 2012
by E-Volve Books

On the eve of winter Solstice, a massive flash envelopes the Earth and then there is nothing. The sun no longer shines and civilization is plunged into unending darkness. Those exposed to the mysterious flash have changed—they have become bloodthirsty, cunning, and determined to devour anyone who is not infected. They are Ragers.

In Sweden, a group of uneasy travelers hears a broken broadcast. There is hope. Something called Sanctuary waits, but it is thousands of miles away, somewhere on the shores of the British Isles.

Meanwhile, in a London supermarket, a high school English teacher from the States finds himself stranded along with a handful of students on a senior trip. Outside, hoards of hungry Ragers await, ready to tear them limb from limb. Their only hope is to find Sanctuary.

Solstice is a tale of hope, terror, survival, and finding love at the end of the World.
*A copy was provided by Bewitching Book Tours for review purposes*

If it wasn't for the flaws in logic, this could've been a really great book. It's got intense scenes, a steady pace, and plenty of characters to keep you captivated, but it's hard to forget that nagging voice in your mind that tells you it doesn't make sense. Pushing that voice in a corner, I found I was able to enjoy the chilling story nonetheless.

Sure, talking zombies have been done in novels like Dearly, Departed and it works, but that's because we get a scientific explanation. Something has been done to give them a functioning brain in their undead state. It's much harder to suspend disbelief when we have a present day zombie apocalypse caused by a mysterious flash/storm that leaves the world filled with flesh eating monsters who walk around with would-be fatal injuries that don't seem to phase them. Yet, they speak. They speak with intelligence, luring and mocking its prey. One even runs away out of compassion or remorse for humans. At first I was expecting an explanation such as it being a freaky infection where they're actually still alive, turned into savage cannibals. But as the book moves along, we get more and more confirmation that these creatures are truly undead, thus should not have any brain function. It does not compute! Therefore, I suggest you to throw logic out the window, because the rest is actually pretty engrossing.

One thing that Solstice does not lack is in its characters. We get bombarded with quite a few character arcs to follow. I was a bit overwhelmed at first and it did take me a while to recall who was who when we switched to another POV. We eventually get to a point where a few of these people band together to give us only two POVs which is more manageable in a story so fast paced, leaving character building as a secondary thought - at least at first. So there we go, two POVs; two mismatched families who are fighting to survive this apocalypse. In a way we get two different stories inside the same world. I really enjoyed this style of telling; it's unnerving, with regular chapter cliffhangers that get you flying through to get back to where you left off, without really wanting to leave the story arc you're currently on. It's a great way to keep the reader enraptured. Between the two, I did favor the perspective with Tomas' family as I found the characters more compelling. I felt I cared more about their fate than I did the ones in Stu's story - which I thought was a bit all over the place, leaving me disjointed every time we got back to it.

With such a big cast, the plot is not incredibly character driven. I never felt truly invested in the characters, at least not until the last quarter where it becomes a bit more emotional. The fast pace makes up for this, though, with its constant feeling of doom in the air. This is also helped by the lack of sunlight, leading us into a very spine-chilling, gloomy setting. I'm not sure if the author plans on writing a sequel. If not the ending is bit disappointing as I feel nothing was really resolved or explained; it's all very unsettling. Overall as an author's first novel and as a rabid zombie fan, I did enjoy it. Yes it has flaws, but there's more than enough action and turbulence to keep you on your toes.

3 Hot Espressos

Donna Burgess lives with her husband, daughter, son, many cats and one goofy Golden Retriever in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. When she is not writing, she can be found on her longboard, behind a good book or on the soccer field. She is the president of E-Volve Books. She holds a B.A. in English and a B.A. in Journalism and is currently pursuing her M.F.A. in Creative Writing.

This post is a part of:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Review: Never Enough by Denise Jaden

Never Enough
Denise Jaden
Release date: July 10th 2012
by Simon Pulse

From the author of Losing Faith, a novel about two sisters and the eating disorder that threatens to destroy their family.

Loann’s always wanted to be popular and pretty like her sister, Claire. So when Claire’s ex-boyfriend starts flirting with her, Loann is willing to do whatever it takes to feel special… even if that means betraying her sister.

But as Loann slips inside Claire’s world, she discovers that everything is not as it seems. Claire’s quest for perfection is all-consuming, and comes at a dangerous price. As Claire increasingly withdraws from friends and family, Loann struggles to understand her and make amends. Can she heal their relationship —and her sister—before it’s too late?
*A copy was provided by Simon & Schuster Canada for review purposes*

I can't say that I know a whole lot about eating disorders, but this is not the first book I read in the matter so I know enough to realize it's a very misunderstood disease. It's a monster that takes over the body; an ugly, nasty monster that consumes it. Some people think they're simply being selfish, wanting attention, or completely mad to continue eating habits that have a negative affect on their health to the point of no return, or death. But this is a real mental illness. It takes over your senses and your mind when it comes to body image. Denise Jaden's Never Enough show us how eating disorders affect not only the person who's ill, but the whole family as we go into this from the sister's point of view.

Loann's always been in her sister's shadow: Her popular, pretty, talented sister. What she doesn't know is how much her sister is suffering, too. Getting into this novel I could feel compassion for Loann from the moment I met her. Low self esteem is a problem that everyone encounters at one point or other in our lives. Consequently, it'll be easy for a lot of readers to relate to her and understand how she feels. How she never seems to be good enough. Although shortsighted at times, it's refreshing how she doesn't become overly angsty because of these insecurities. In fact, she finds something she's passionate about and puts her energy into it. Meeting a cute boy who seems to understand her sure helps her attitude as well. Loann is our lone narrator throughout. As the novel begins it's primarily about her inner critic; her insecurities and lack of self worth. We get to know her on a personal level, building our connection with her. Soon, however, it changes into a story about the ones she loves: her friends and family. Which fits completely since she's such a caring, selfless person.

The family dynamics in Never Enough are compelling and accurately portrayed for what I consider to be an average family who's dealing with a serious, misconstrued illness. It constantly changes to reflect the discords and emotional turmoils they face. Some problems are rather cliché, like the absent father and overworked mother, but the emotional energy pouring out, from Loann and Claire's relationship in particular, is terribly moving.

Subtle at best, the romance is more like a slow ripening friendship. Maybe a bit strange at first, they develop a meaningful connection where they seem to become each other's support system. Marcus is a loner with a mysterious edge. You can tell he's carrying a lot of weight, himself, making him hesitant to confide in Loann. For being a supporting role, I love how seamlessly his character falls into place with a meaningful part in the story, adding yet another layer.

In a novel full of unvarnished emotions and ugly truths, Never Enough's focus on very real, very serious issues will easily get you sucked in. This is not a fun story, nor is it fluffy; it's solemn and it's rough. I highly recommend it for those who enjoys these types of weighty contemporary reads. 

4 Hot Espressos

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (42)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. 

My pick this week:
Paper Valentine
Brenna Yovanoff
Release date: January 8th, 2013
by Razorbill

PAPER VALENTINE, in which a girl haunted by the troubled ghost of her best friend finds herself sucked into a darkly mesmerizing string of murders, in which a serial killer who leaves a paper-heart 'valentine' on his victims' bodies draws ever closer.

More books by Brenna:

Isn't this cover so different? I love it it's so intriguing. Murder mysteries have always been my favorite kind of books. For years before I went into YA, it was all that I read. So yes, I must have this! :D I actually haven't read Brenna's The Space Between yet (nor the Replacement for that matter) but having seen the fantastic reviews for it she seems like a great author, making me even more excited to read this!

What future release are you excited for?
Link me up! :)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Temptation: Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

Temptation is a novel I very much enjoyed recently so I'm happy to have Karen over on the blog today for a quick guest post on the Amish culture. We've also got 2 fabulous giveaways going on. First, let's have a look at my review!

Karen Ann Hopkins
Series: Temptation, #1
Release date: June 26th, 2012
by Harlequin

Your heart misleads you.  That's what my friends and family say.  But I love Noah. And he loves me.  We met and fell in love in the sleepy farming community of Meadowview, while we rode our horses together through the grassy fields and in those moments in each other's arms. It should be  ROSE & NOAH forever, easy. But it won't be. Because he's Amish. And I'm not.
*A copy was provided by HarlequinTEEN for review purposes*

The Amish fascinate me. Really, they do. Their rules, their beliefs, their antifeminist ways; a lot of if it actually seems kind of ridiculous, but regardless if you consider them as a cult, or counterculture religion, I can't see anyone not being intrigued by their ways. This is a novel about love: Forbidden love. A love so authentic that I found myself at the mercy of a burning restlessness at thoughts of their relationship's imminent unraveling and collapse.

The relationship that Rose and Noah have is just as wonderful as it is frustrating. It's also genuine; how they deal with each other's different belief system is convincing. Told in a dual perspective, we not only get to see firsthand how they both feel about each other, we also get to understand how they reason their actions, both of them having two contrasting ways of life. This is especially important for Noah's character; I often felt frustrated towards him to tell you the truth, and I'm sure a lot will share this feeling. His antifeminist ways, his controlling nature, his selfish behaviour - in any other circumstances I would have loathed him. Loathed!. However, one can't blame someone for their beliefs due to a culture that is so different from our own. A lot of things that seem absurd to us are simply their way of life to them. The whole Amish culture, very foreign and old fashioned, can seem exaggerated towards certain aspects; even though I may not agree with how Amish woman are treated, I understand that that is how they are raised. Thus, I do not begrudge Noah for his upbringing. Besides, you can see that Noah is a truly nice, kind person who cares immensely for Rose. He's likeable. He's frustrating, but he's likeable. Funny, huh?

Rose is just a naive teenager who fell for the Amish boy. She's the girl next door - in the proverbial and literal sense. She's caring, sweet, naive at times, but what really wins me over is how she thinks for herself. No matter how emotional she becomes, she' s not blinded by love - at least not foolishly. She thinks of her own well being, giving a lot of thought to her final decision. Even though I don't completely agree that it was a smart decision, it's easy to understand with a connection that is so thoroughly felt between her and Noah. Their chemistry is palpable, their love unmistakable; a story of forbidden romance needs these elements to work, and I can assure you I was completely mesmerized by their requited love.

The romance is at the heart, but there are other aspects that make this novel compelling. The family dynamics between Rose and her brothers, Rose and her father, and the Amish community, are all beautifully captured. There is also a scene with a pained horse that I know will stick with me.

I came into this with no expectations and finished feeling completely satisfied. We do have the formulaic forbidden romance story, but the journey is wonderfully compelling, becoming highly emotional with an interesting ending. There will be a sequel, and I'm extremely curious to see how this will… work out.

4 Hot Espressos

Guest Post by Karen Ann Hopkins
Karen Ann Hopkins’ debut novel TEMPTATION (July 2012, Harlequin TEEN), focuses on an Amish community in America:

Overall, the Amish culture is mesmerizing on many levels. The fact that it's a growing culture, indicates that most of the children raised in these large families are choosing to remain in the culture they were born to, instead of opting out for a more convenient way of life. Seeing the buggies trekking up the road in front of my house is the most baffling of all. Although I, myself own seventeen horses and enjoy using them as recreational transportation, I can hardly imagine life without my SUV. And to think, there are generations of Amish people living out there who've never pressed the gas pedal before. Every day, I find new questions to ask my neighbors. Sometimes I get a straightforward answer and other times the randomness of an answer or complete avoidance of the question reminds me that I'll never fully understand the culture...and maybe that's one of the things that intrigues me the most about the Amish. 

A native of New York State, Karen Ann Hopkins now lives with her family on a farm in northern Kentucky, where her neighbors in all directions are members of a strict Amish community. Her unique perspective became the inspiration for the story of star-crossed lovers Rose and Noah. When she’s not homeschooling her kids, giving riding lessons or tending to a menagerie of horses, goats, peacocks, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs and cats, she is dreaming up her next romantic novel.

 This post is a part of:

Full tour schedule:
Monday, June 25th - Ravenous Reader
Tuesday, June 26th - Xpresso Reads
Wednesday, June 27th - Harlequin Blog
Friday, June 29th - Page Turners
Monday, June 2nd - Evie Bookish
Wednesday, July 4th - I Like These Books
Friday, July 6th - The Cozy Reader

Monday, June 25, 2012

Review: Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray

Falling for Hamlet
Michelle Ray
Release date: July 3rd, 2012 (Paperback)
by Poppy

Sometimes love can make you crazy.

Meet Ophelia, high school senior, daughter of the Danish king's most trusted adviser, and longtime girlfriend of Prince Hamlet. She lives a glamorous life and has a royal social circle, and her beautiful face is splashed across magazines and television screens. But it comes with a price--her life is ruled not only by Hamlet's fame and his overbearing royal family but also by the paparazzi who hound them wherever they go.

After the sudden and suspicious death of his father, the king, Hamlet spirals dangerously toward madness, and Ophelia finds herself torn, with no one to turn to. All Ophelia wants is to live a normal life. But when you date a prince, you have to play your part.
*A copy was provided by Hachette Book Group Canada for review purposes*

"Mistakes and miscommunications. Violent love and violent hate. Betrayals and desire. Our beginning, our middle, and our end."
-quoted from Falling for Hamlet 

First let me state that this is my first time experiencing Hamlet's story. Having gone to a French school, Shakespeare's work was not part of our curriculum, hence my unfamiliarity with it. In addition, I've never had the opportunity to see it as a play as there are no production where I live. So yes, Shakespeare… not my forte; but I'm happy to report that I quite enjoyed Falling for Hamlet. Obviously I can't comment on any comparison; the author's notes at the end are very interesting, however, and showcase what she's changed, added, and modernized. 

I'm not going to go into the study of Hamlet's character. Whole classes are taken up to discuss this. I actually spent a bit of time to Google Hamlet once I started it and found myself immersed by his madness and how this is actually left open to interpretation for the reader to decide what's real, and what isn't. How insane is he, really? I was obviously fascinated by his deeply complex characterization, but even moreso, how his madness seems to spread. This whole cast is really messed up! :D This can bring forth such a huge character study; like I said I won't start an essay about it. Let's just say that I have a shameless attraction to morbid tales like these. I love how incredibly tragic the characters' lives become. They're all so intense and dramatic; spiraling out of control. How can you look away? Michelle may not have created these characters, but she modernized their setting; made it fresh with some added material and extra twists that I'm confident fans of the original will enjoy.

The format - I loved it. We get the story in three different parts narrated by Ophilia: There's the story that she tells Zara during a TV talk show interview (think Oprah), there's her investigative interview, then there's the truth. The latter is our main story, the others being only short passages to begin and end each chapters. Glimpses of her interview on the Zara show set the perfect tone for what's to come. As for the investigation, it's fun and adds an extra punch to the story, but I didn't feel it was completely necessary. I will even admit to getting annoyed at the ridiculous accusations that are thrown regarding the smallest of details that are simply absurd. On the other hand it's amusing to see Ophilia's reactions to these.

I don't really have to go into the plot. I mean, I'm sure I was in a very small minority who aren't familiar with Hamlet. Michelle does modify it some while leaving the general story untouched (as stated in her notes). For instance, she begins the story before the King dies, she adds a lot of technology, and reworks how fast the media affects high profile lives with so much modern technology.

As a first experience, I can say it's a wonderfully perplexing and violent tale that while I can't compare to the original, I found myself incredibly enticed by this retelling. It's such a tragic story of love and loss, manipulation and fear. It's brilliant and thought provoking. If this is what one should expect from a modernized version of this tale, Michelle Ray nailed it. 

4 Hot Espressos

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fresh Batch (June 24th - 30th)

Exclusively titled for Xpresso Reads, Fresh Batch features the hottest releases of this upcoming week.

Flavor of the week:
Wicked Nights
Gena Showalter
Series: Angels of the Dark, #1
Release date: June 26th, 2012
by Harlequin

Leader of the most powerful army in the heavens, Zacharel has been deemed nearly too dangerous, too ruthless--and if he isn't careful, he'll lose his wings. But this warrior with a heart of ice will not be deterred from his missions at any cost...until a vulnerable human tempts him with a carnal pleasure he's never known before.

Accused of a crime she did not commit, Annabelle Miller has spent four years in an institution for the criminally insane. Demons track her every move, and their king will stop at nothing to have her. Zacharel is her only hope for survival, but is the brutal angel with a touch as hot as hell her salvation--or her ultimate damnation?

Wicked Nights book trailer:

Gena Showalter sold her first book at the age of 27 and now, four years later, is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thirteen books, with eleven more on the way in a thrilling blend of genres: breathtaking paranormal and contemporary romances, cutting edge young adult novels, and stunning urban fantasy. Her novels have appeared in Cosmopolitan Magazine, MTV, Seventeen Magazine, and have been translated in French, Italian and Korean. The critics have called her books "sizzling page-turners" and "utterly spellbinding stories", while Showalter herself has been called “a star on the rise”.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Xpresso Weekly: Stacking the Shelves (9)

Xpresso Weekly is my edition of Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews featuring the books
I got this week, and I also mention blog news/happenings of the past week

This week at Xpresso Reads:
Holy crap we're almost July already!! And the first day of summer has come and gone so now days are getting shorter again. Boourns. So yeah, this week... well I had the Cicada blog tour drop by for a fun interview and there's a couple giveaways in there. I also posted a new giveaway for my Canadian lovelies, you can win a copy of The Night Circus. International folks, my Summer Lovin giveaway is right here! Oh and a new tour has been scheduled for The Treachery of Beautiful Things which sounds fantastic! So make sure to drop by - tour dates on sidebar.

Now cover reveals. Wowzers. I have a whole slew of em that I shared throughout the week. So here goes: Cover Reveal x 4 was posted directly on the blog as well as the new paperback cover for The Weeping. Then up on Facebook I shared Everbound by Brodi Ashton, Blood-Kissed Sky by J.A. London, Boundless by Cynthia Hand, and Destroy Me by Tahereh Mafi.

Did you miss any reviews this week?

    Stacking the Shelves
    Well, I can now say I'm a regular vlogger. Who knew? I still feel pretty awkward on camera talking to a machine, so just don't mind me :) I'll also keep posting my pics as usual for those who can't/don't want to watch.

    Click on title links below for Goodreads
    I got for review:


    *Thanks so much to Harlequin Teen, Thomas Allen & Son, Hachette Book Group Canada and HarperCollins for the review copies*

    I bought:

    That's all, folks!
    What did you get this week?
    Link me up! :)