Sunday, September 30, 2012

Xpresso Weekly: Stacking the Shelves (23)

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 am definitely feeling the fall weather here! It has been very blah, over having my computer crash on me and losing everything (yeah, why no backup? million dollar question!), it has been a very long week. So what's up blog-wise? Well I had two blog tours stop by and they both have giveaways! You can win a copy of Alice in Zombieland and Stealing Parker. I also posted a few cover reveals on Facebook here.

Reviews on the blog this week:

New by Xpresso Design:

Stacking the Shelves

I received for review (Click on cover/title links for Goodreads):

*Thanks so much to Hachette Book Goup Canada, Tor Teen, Entangled Publishing, Disney-Hyperion, Raincoast Books, Kensington Teen, Month9Books, and St Martin's Press for these pretty pretties!*

I bought:
It's about time I continue this series! I found this for 5.99$. Although I kind of want to listen to the audio since Jesse was all sorts of amazing at narrating White Cat!

Have a fabulous Sunday!
Link me up to your book haul post! :) 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Review: Lucid by Adrienne Stoltz & Ron Bass

Adrienne Stoltz & Ron Bass
Publication date: October 2nd 2012
by Razorbill

What if you could dream your way into a different life? What if you could choose to live that life forever?

Sloane and Maggie have never met. Sloane is a straight-A student with a big and loving family. Maggie lives a glamorously independent life as an up-and-coming actress in New York. The two girls couldn't be more different--except for one thing. They share a secret that they can't tell a soul. At night, they dream that they're each other.

The deeper they're pulled into the promise of their own lives, the more their worlds begin to blur dangerously together. Before long, Sloane and Maggie can no longer tell which life is real and which is just a dream. They realize that eventually they will have to choose one life to wake up to, or risk spiraling into insanity. But that means giving up one world, one love, and one self, forever.
*A copy was provided by Penguin Canada for review purposes*

Ok ok.. I think I loved it. But I'm not sure. This was just very .... You know the movie Inception? Yeah, kinda like that. I'm so lost, yet I love it... I think.

For one thing, Lucid is a book that makes you think. You have to piece every single moment together to begin to understand what just happened. And this is what you will see yourself doing after you turn the last page. Then you will want to immediately read it again in a new light, so you can grasp the puzzling nature of the plot.

I'm not sure how many of you watched Momento!? But that movie, you're watching it with no idea what the frick is going on. You end it with no better idea of who killed his wife - at all. So you watch it again, hoping that after seeing the ending you will see things clearer. Lucid if kind of like that. Although not nearly as complex (I mean I watched Momento 4 times and I'm still not convinced I know who the killer is), it makes you think, it makes you relive every single event that happened in the book so you can grasp exactly what was happening to Sloane and Maggie. Being so intricate, you have to be ready to work on your own verdict on its conclusion. It's not a clean-cut ending, you have to dissect it and interpret it. I guarantee it's one that you will need to discuss with others who have also read it. This may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I relish in books that make me second guess things, and leave me with a need to decipher every page. These are the type of books that I get to remember for a long time.

Before this perplexing--and quite emotional--ending, we get a journey into the lives of two very different girls with a big secret - when they go to sleep at night, they dream of each other's day. From the first page, you'll be found wondering what exactly is happening to these girls. Is one of them schizophrenic? Is there a paranormal side to the book? Are they both real? If not, which life is real, and which one is just a dream? A very fascinating concept for sure. It boggled my mind over and over, then the more I thought about it, the more freaked out I became. However, this "situation" is only one part of this very deep, and incredibly touching novel.

Beautiful and heartbreaking; after everything is said and done, this novel is really about love. Real love, love that is raw, and natural, and all encompassing. A love that belongs to you and no one else. Both of these girls are searching for The One, and I loved how they would not settle for anything but, nor for the wrong reasons. They love themselves first. Their self respect is admirable, and the same can be said for the responsibilities they take on. I truly enjoyed both protagonists immensely, all the while constantly wondering if anything I was reading was even real; was either of these wonderful girls just a dream? A vision? A past life? Infinite theories aside, I found myself surprised by how deeply moving this book had become. There's love and joy and family, but there's also grief and fear and panic and dread that are all running running rampant in this plot. Then when their lives begin to collide, the panic they felt, I felt too. I didn't know what was real at all anymore. The identity crisis and confusion is complete insanity and, my word, I savoured it, and loved every second where another piece of my mind got blown to bits. Poof.

An incredibly unique reading experience that will leave your mind to mush, and your heart to pieces. Fans of movies such as Black Swan, Momento, and Inception will absolutely find their next fix inside Lucid.

5 Hot Espressos

Fresh Batch (September 30th - October 6th)

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

Flavor of the week:

Stealing Parker
Miranda Kenneally
Publication date: October 1st 2012
by Sourcebooks Fire

Red-hot author Miranda Kenneally hits one out of the park in this return to Catching Jordan's Hundred Oaks High.

After a scandal rocks their conservative small town, 17-year-old Parker Shelton goes overboard trying to prove that she won't turn out like her mother: a lesbian. The all-star third-baseman quits the softball team, drops 20 pounds and starts making out with guys--a lot. But hitting on the hot new assistant baseball coach might be taking it a step too far...especially when he starts flirting back.
You can win your very own copy and read my review here!

Growing up in Tennessee, Miranda Kenneally dreamed of becoming an Atlanta Brave, a country singer (cliché!), or a UN interpreter. Instead she writes, and works for the State Department in Washington, D.C., where George W. Bush once used her shoulder as an armrest. Miranda loves Twitter, Star Trek and her husband.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Review: The Suburban Strange

The Suburban Strange
Nathan Kotecki 
Publication date: October 2nd 2012
by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Shy Celia Balaustine is new to Suburban High, but a mysterious group of sophomores called the Rosary has befriended her. Friends aside, Celia soon discovers something is not quite right at Suburban. Girls at the school begin having near-fatal accidents on the eve of their sixteenth birthdays. Who is causing the accidents, and why? As Celia’s own birthday approaches, she is inexorably drawn into an underground conflict between good and evil—the Kind and the Unkind—that bubbles beneath Suburban High.
*A copy was provided by Thomas Allen & Son for review purposes*

Mysterious accidents the day before girls turn 16, a peculiar group of socialites, a unique paranormal aspect - The Suburban Strange was very promising. It started very intriguing too, with a very sophisticated, high-on-life feel that I found quite refreshing, though my excitement for it came to an quick halt when this high school clique started sounding like 100 year old teenagers, and the cultural references in the book were more persistent than door to door salesmen. Among other things.

A group of worldly teens spending their time in an underground indie bar scene creates a very sophisticated, hipster vibe in this book that I initially found very refreshing. We get teenagers who like to dress to the nines and act like they're older, more cultured than the average. I liked the attitudes and personalities that it brought out in the book. However, after a while, I'm not sure if it got progressively worse, or if I simply got over my initial enchantment with it, but it became a little too unnatural for me to picture actual teenagers talking and acting like this. I'm certain there must be some in the world that share these personalities, but I was put off by it come half way through. I was also disappointed that their strange behaviour was not linked to the mysterious happenings in the plot which is what I initially assumed. I was expecting them to really be 300 year old demons or vampires - anything but extreme hipsters who are simply just... weird kids.

Have any of you read The Awakening by Kate Chopin? I hadn't heard of it until this book. It's apparently a classic, and if the meh reviews on Goodreads hadn't put me off it, hearing about it 8271362153 times in this book would make it certain that I never want to hear about it ever again. I don't mind cultural references in a novel, in fact I often find them very enjoyable, Gilmore Girls is one of my all time favourite TV shows because of the infinite cultural references--among other things--, but when a conversation unnaturally halts so the protagonist can fangirl for the 3rd time about a book she just read, it becomes grating. Especially when combined with the already considerable music and art references scattered throughout.

Instead of focusing on these grandpa teens with a marketing agenda, I decided to let myself enjoy the plot which I found fairly interesting and unique. I liked how the paranormal aspect was woven into the plot. While it didn't go into great lengths, the Kind and Unkind mythology is a creative concept of good vs evil. There is one aspect of it that I found a bit obscure as I'm not sure of its purpose or relation to the plot: the fact that only girls who are virgins become a victim of this pre-birthday curse. Is it supposed to add relatable teenage dilemmas in the plot? I'm not quite sure but it felt very backwards 80s horror movie with no real significance. Then when it came time to the final twist--the big reveal--I realized just how predictable it all was. Even my two year old son knew who did it. And he thinks B comes first.

I was expecting a fun mystery with creepy happenings and an eerie school setting, instead I got a very slow paced read that was more an exposition on teenage social influences and common peer pressures than anything. I would only recommend this if you love books filled to the brim with very obscure indie music and art references, drab teenage "messages", and unusually sophisticated teenage characters.

2 Espressos

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Stealing Parker Tour Stop: Review & Giveaway

Stealing Parker
Miranda Kenneally
Publication date: October 1st 2012
by Sourcebooks Fire

Red-hot author Miranda Kenneally hits one out of the park in this return to Catching Jordan's Hundred Oaks High.

After a scandal rocks their conservative small town, 17-year-old Parker Shelton goes overboard trying to prove that she won't turn out like her mother: a lesbian. The all-star third-baseman quits the softball team, drops 20 pounds and starts making out with guys--a lot. But hitting on the hot new assistant baseball coach might be taking it a step too far...especially when he starts flirting back.
*A copy was provided by Miranda Kenneally for review purposes*

Catching Jordan was one of my favourite books of last year, so when I heard of another novel by Miranda I had really high hopes for it, especially after learning that it was a companion to Jordan - different characters but the same setting. I was happy to find another incredibly sweet, heartfelt romance in Stealing Parker, with characters that are just as charismatic, and a story that keeps you up for just one more chapter.

With Jordan, we were thrown into the word of Football, and now with Parker, it's baseball. Sports are a big player in Miranda's novels, and as someone who has never been much into sports, I was surprised by how much I enjoy it in books, or at least in Miranda's books. We get characters who develop deeply rooted friendships from being on sports teams together, this gives us a great mix of personalities, amusing banter, and all with a girl who can become one of the boys as much as any other. The characters are, as expected, a great part of this novel, we have Parker who is a very well rounded protagonist with a fun, down to earth attitude. She's incredibly smart, she's well spoken, but she has had a few issues since her mom left them. To prove she's not a lesbian like her mother, Parker becomes a bit… boy-friendly. Then enters Brian, baseball coach, completely gorgeous, but he's 6 years older. While it's not a huge difference, the age gap does put a damper on their relationship since they have to keep it in the down low. And like all things forbidden, it instantly draws you in; you can't help but feel a rush from the constant risk of being found out. But we can't forget the best friend now, can we? Drew is Parker's best and closest friend, he always has her back and will always be on her side, then you have to wonder: is there more to this friendship? And what about Corndog? (Yep. Corndog!) He seems to live to annoy, but we get glimpses of his (often hidden) charm. This is what I love about these books, you can never tell who the main character will end up with, and, likewise, who you're hoping she ends up with.

Romance is the heart and soul of Miranda's novels. I loved it in Catching Jordan, and she brings it to its fabulous glory again in Stealing Parker. Heart meltingly sweet and incredibly genuine, the romance is easily my favourite part of this novel. It gave me goosebumps, it made my heart flutter; it absolutely makes you feel every single emotion that you crave when reading about young love. I literally read the last 50 pages with my heart in my throat! It's become clear that Miranda is a romantic goddess mastermind of sorts.

Let's talk about religion for a moment. (Uh oh!) I'm not a very religious person, I grew up in a small town where religion was not a very big topic among our community, so it wasn't really a part of my upbringing. So when I met Parker with her very religiously devoted town, where people have church cliques, and some are shunned for religious reasons--in this case: her lesbian mother--I had difficulty related to that lifestyle. It isn't commonplace around these parts, making it feel very foreign or old-fashioned to me. It wasn't overbearing by any means, the letters to god were actually a great opportunity to get a glimpse inside Parker's most personal thoughts, but it was still simply hard for me to identify with her situation a little.

I'm certain you will laugh, and I guarantee you will swoon, Sealing Parker is a fantastic companion to Catching Jordan with its own set of wonderful characters, and even a cameo or two from our old beloved Jordan and Henry - who of course, leave a lasting impression.

4 Hot Espressos

This post is a part of the Home Run Blog Tour

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (54)

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:
Truth or Dare
Jacqueline Green
Release date: May 2013
by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Some say the seaside town of Echo Bay is cursed.

They may be right.

When a game of truth or dare spins out of control, three beautiful teen girls start receiving mysterious dares containing hints to dark secrets long buried. For artsy outcast Sydney Morgan; perfect, popular Caitlin “Angel” Thomas; and queen bee Tenley Reed, the truth is not an option. This is no party game—it’s do or die. And it’s their turn to play.

This sounds a bit like Nerve which I actually just read last week, but a problem I had was that it wasn't daring enough for me and from the sounds of this it will be a bit more my speed! Dark secrets? Who can resist? >.<

What did you pick this week?
Link me up! :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Alice in Zombieland Tour Stop

 Xpresso Reads √† la zombie today! YEAH!! I'm stoked to have Gena over for the Alice in Zombieland tour. She gives us tips on how to survive the zombocalypse, and you can win your very own copy of this pretty! First, let's have a look at my review!

Alice in Zombieland
Gena Showalter
Publication date: September 25th 2012
by Harlequin Teen

She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real….

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies….
*A copy was provided by Harlequin Teen for review purposes*


Alice in Wonderland with zombies? Not so much. Creative zombie ghosts lore (… you heard me. Zombie. Ghosts) with great humor and charming characters? Definitely!

Despite the title, Alice in Zombieland really has nothing much to do with Alice in Wonderland. There may be some scattered references, but it's really a unique story all on its own. While some may be disappointed, I wasn't terribly familiar with the specifics of the classic tale, so I found myself having a lot of fun with this non-retelling. Really, all I need are zombies. Wouldn't every fairy tale be much more interesting with zombies? I think so! :D

Charming, this book absolutely is! Which is funny to say for a zombie book. Alice leads this story with a tough, head held high attitude; she's feisty with a great sense of humor that I got a kick out of. Then we have her friend Kat who really completes the show. Spunky, wild, and lots of fun, Kat is a fabulous girl who I came to adore. She has a very attractive confidence and qualities that everyone would want in a best friend. Plus, she has secrets of her own that add depth to the story. And of course, we have boys; most prominently - Cole. The leader of the bad boys, Cole is sexy and fierce with a mysterious agenda of his own, and Alice hopes she won't regret putting her trust into him. His irksome attitude towards Ali motivates some pretty humoristic dialogue/banter between them; their opinions tend to clash more than harmonize. Let's just say, the tension between them is just as adorable as it is frustrating. While the romance isn't my favorite aspect of this novel--the constant back and forth between them can get a little exasperating--they do have great chemistry to work with.

Set at the perfect pace, the plot is centers around these zombies that are not your run of the mill zombies, these exist in the spirit world. While I love the traditional zombie, and at first I wasn't sure how I would enjoy this bizarre re-imagining, it's simply too creative to not have me fascinated by it all. I was a little confused with the specifics, however: Who can see them and who they can hurt exactly, is not made very clear. But we still have time to get into these details. Zombies: meet the Hazmats, a villainous company looking to experiment on your rotted ghost person! And their intentions? Duh duh duuuuuh! The Hazmats add a great mysterious edge to the plot which also opens up intriguing possibilities for its sequel. All of this adds up to a refreshingly unique little paranormal romance.

There is humor, there are zombies, there are witty characters, even the chapter titles are hilarious! What else do you need? Oh, and the sequel is called "Through the Zombie Glass". Win? Yes! Yes it does!

4 Hot Espressos

Guest Post by Gena Showalter
How to survive the Zombie Apocalypse

Quick and easy bullet points: study, pray and fight!

Need more?

First, hook up with the right team.  Every warrior needs back up, someone to watch their blind spots. And make sure you’re both stocked with the ingredients for Bloodlines.  If you don’t know what to buy… ouch!  (it’s a top secret recipe, so getting a shopping list is gonna prove difficult.  So, really, this might be the prefect time to start studying.) Also, weapons are just as important. You’ll need daggers, crossbows, halogen lights, zombie toxin antidote, and courage.  <-- yep, what you feel matters, since zombies have a taste for certain emotions.

On the nights you hunt, make sure to kill every zombie you see.  If you don’t, they’ll catch your scent and come after you. (This is definitely the perfect time to start praying.)  Remember that zombies feel no emotions or pain and they see you only as an all night dinner buffet. Fight with all your strength, trust your deepest instincts, and never back down.

If you do all of that, you’ll have this thing in the bag—along with a few zombie heads.

I'm all set, Gena! *sees zombie* ... *screams and runs away hysterically* >.<
Thanks so much for having me on your tour, and most of all - HAPPY RELEASE DAY! *throws confetti*

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”.

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