Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's that time of the year...

...for people all around the world to make tons of lists of eeeeverything. They even make lists of their own lists! Well, I'll try to refrain myself from doing that. What I'm gonna do, is make 2 lists: one of the 10 awesomest books I read in 2011 (some were published before 2011) and one of the worst books I read in 2011. It seems only fitting if you gonna express your gratitude for the good ones, that you have the right to nag about the bad ones, too.
So here goes:


FAVES OF 2011
(books are not listed by preference)


1. A Song Of Ice And Fire series by George R.R.Martin
2. The Fever series by Karen Marie Moning
3. Halfway To The Grave by Jeaniene Frost
4. Wither by Lauren DeStefano
5. Where She Went by Gayle Forman
6. Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer
7. Daughter Of Smoke And Bone by Laini Taylor
8. Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
9. The Ivy series by Lauren Kunze&Rina Onur
10. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson




YOU JUST DIDN'T DO IT FOR ME, 2011 STYLE


1. Tris&Izzie by Matte Ivie Harrison
2. Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris
3. Hereafter by Tara Hudson
4. The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
5. The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab 
6. Flat-out Love by Jessica Park
7. Vicious Little Darlings by Katherine Easer
8. Possession by Elana Johnson
9. Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick
10. Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach


Of course there are a lot of other books I loved and loathed in 2011 which didn't make it to the lists.
During 2011 I read 125 book and I'm very proud of myself, albeit exhausted from the stress of having to read books for reviews and posting reviews three times a week. So, I thought that if I want to continue having a book blog, I have to take it way less seriously and just relax and enjoy reading. 
Of any kind! Not just YA! Guys, read all kinds of books. YAs are fine but it feels amazing to expand your reading horizons every now and then. You never know what you might discover!
And with these words of wisdom, I bid you farewell.


I wish you a very very happy New Year :)

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Watch the SIRENZ trailer!

It's true! Trailer of SIRENZ by Charlotte Bennardo & Natalie Zaman is out!


Enjoy :)


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Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!


Since it's the holidays, I'll be updating sporadically. Once a week, if that.
After new year's however, everything will get back to normal!

Happy holidays everyone :)

ps. Karen, I hope you like the photo :P

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

READING: Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Publication date: December 27th, 2011
Published by: Egmont USA
Source: NetGalley
Genre: YA Paranormal, Sci Fi, Little bit of everything
Rating: 4,5/5
Every other day, Kali D'Angelo is a normal sixteen-year-old girl. She goes to public high school. She attends pep rallies. She's human.

And then every day in between . . .She's something else entirely.

Though she still looks like herself, every twenty-four hours predatory instincts take over and Kali becomes a feared demon-hunter with the undeniable urge to hunt, trap, and kill zombies, hellhounds, and other supernatural creatures. Kali has no idea why she is the way she is, but she gives in to instinct anyway. Even though the government considers it environmental terrorism.

When Kali notices a mark on the lower back of a popular girl at school, she knows instantly that the girl is marked for death by one of these creatures. Kali has twenty-four hours to save her and, unfortunately, she'll have to do it as a human. With the help of a few new friends, Kali takes a risk that her human body might not survive. . .and learns the secrets of her mysterious condition in the process.

This is the first book I'm reading by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. I've heard great things about the Raised by Wolves series but I never picked it up. I'm so glad I requested Every Other Day from NetGalley though, because it truly was awesome!!

Every Other Day sucked me in from the very first word. It is so eloquently written and with a spot on combination of sarcasm and humor, that I immediately knew we had a winner.
I loved the story and how original it was. First, I liked the idea that paranormal entities were not only known by the populace, but they were also scientifically recognised and accepted. It says at one point that Darwin's evolutionary theory includes, apart from the species known to man today, Homo Mortis, basically dead beings. I liked how she made zombies and vampires who are always so special in other books, seem like "ordinary" beings living on this planet since the beginning of time. Fun fact: hellhounds-endengered species, no hunting allowed. Yeah. It was THAT cool!

I liked Kali's character a lot. She had a little bit of Buffy in her, thankfully without the obnoxious parts! She was feisty, determined and willing to risk her life for others' without having a hero complex. Huge fan of the every other day concept: one day she's this bad ass fighter/killer, and the other she's just a plain mortal.
Her friend Skylar was OK, but to be honest I liked her brothers more, even if they didn't have as much book time as Skylar had.

I think what Barnes did in Every Other Day, was really daring: she added a guy character, Zev, the alleged "love interest", who did not come in contact with the heroine once in the book. He was constantly in her head. And we're talking about a one time deal here, a stand alone novel. It's not like it'll be a series and Barnes will have plenty of books ahead of her to build the relationship between them. And not only that, but till the end, I was not really sure that what they had between them was indeed romance, and not just the natural need to rely on each other even telepathically, in order to assuage the gravity of their situation. Zev was a cold voice in Kali's head throughout the whole book and the surprising thing is that it didn't take away from their incredible connection. I really have to applaud Barnes for doing something like that, because it takes some serious guts.

If you love paranormal adventures with a twist-with several twists, actually- and appreciate awesome writing, then Every Other Day is for you.
Totally recommend it. Read it!

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

READING: Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Publication date: January 17th, 2012
Published by: HarperTeen
Genre: YA Paranormal, Angels
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 2,5/5
For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the raging forest fire from her visions and rescue the alluring and mysterious Christian Prescott from the blaze. But nothing could prepare her for the fateful decisions she would be forced to make that day, or the startling revelation that her purpose—the task she was put on earth to accomplish—is not as straightforward as she thought. Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend, Tucker, Clara struggles to make sense of what she was supposed to do the day of the fire. And, as she is drawn further into the world of part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: Someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.

I was not the biggest fan of the first book by Cynthia Hand, Unearthly. I liked it fine, but I was not crazy about it. Of course, I wouldn't miss a chance to read part 2, Hallowed, when I saw it on NetGalley. I don't know if it's the books' fault or mine though, because I think I enjoyed Hallowed even less than Unearthly.

I felt like Hallowed kinda lacked the innocence and playfulness Unearthly had. It seemed to me that it was more dark in a way and more fatalistic. Certainly glummer and more morose than its predecessor. Granted, the books are about the fight between the good angels and the bad, so one would think that as the story moves forward, books will get even darker and more ominous. Thing is though, there was no story evolving in Hallowed. Apart from one thing that was very important in Clara's life, there is nothing else going on to justify the creation of a whole book consisting of 416 pages! Obviously, Hand wanted to develop her characters and there was plenty of that in Hallowed. Everything that's in there has to do with Clara's relationship with either Tucker or Christian and how these relationships move forward or take a step back. We also take a peek at Clara's relationship with her mother, which I personally wasn't fond of, since Clara's mother is definitely not my favorite character.

The feeling I got while reading Hallowed is that Clara comes across as this very wise, learned, 80 year old woman. And she shouldn't have because she is 16! From the way she was written and her lines, I thought that she was a miserable girl that had to carry the whole world on her shoulders and she hated every minute of it. Naturally, seeing that she is a teen and wants nothing more than normal teenage-y stuff, like having boyfriend trouble, hanging out with friends and not doing her homework. What I got from Carla though, was that, even when she was with a boy and felt happy, she later felt regret for feeling happy because she had all these problems to solve and everyone depended on her to solve them. In other words, she had savior-syndrome. I think it was too much burden for a young girl to handle and eventually it cost the book its "frivolity", small amount of which is absolutely necessary in YA books.

I just wish there was more going on in Hallowed. That way the characters could get involved in action instead of sulking and brooding all the time, worrying about their dismal future. I'm not even gonna dwell on the triangle and who Clara ends up with blah blah. Clara's relationships with the boys is the whole book. If that's what you're into, then I absolutely recommend Hollowed.
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Thursday, December 1, 2011

READING: Working Stiff by Rachel Caine

Working Stiff by Rachel Caine

Publication date: August 2nd, 2011
Published by: Roc
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy, Crime
Rating: 4,5/5
Bryn Davis knows working at Fairview Mortuary isn't the most glamorous career choice, but at least it offers stable employment--until she discovers her bosses using a drug that resurrects the clientele as part of an extortion racket. Now, Bryn faces being terminated--literally, and with extreme prejudice.

Wit the help of corporate double-agent Patrick McCallister, Bryn has a chance to take down the bigger problem--pharmaceutical company Pharmadene, which treats death as the ultimate corporate loyalty program. She'd better do it fast, before she becomes a zombie slave--a real working stiff. She'd be better off dead...
Being a huge fan of Rachel Caine, I was really surprised(and dissapointed)at seeing Working Stiff having such low ratings. I shamefully admit that was the reason I avoided reading WS sooner. I didn't want to face the fact that Caine might actually have written something other than fantastic. Fortunately, I didn't have to, because Working Stiff was awesome!

OK I get it. Maybe not so many people want or need to know about the funeral home business. It's morbid and in generally not what you want to read on a nice, Sunday morning. But, to put simply, who cares? The story is not about the funeral home or how uncomfortable it makes you feel. It's about the characters and the semi-crime, semi-urban fantasy story behind it. 

One of the reasons I love Rachel Caine's books is their characters, and how she makes the reader care about them, no matter how bizarre or unrelatable they are. You are with them, you root for them every step of the way. You care enough to want to finish the book and find out what ultimately happened to them, how they ended up. I don't know how she does it, but my hat's certainly off to her. 

As for the story, it was original, interesting (funeral home included) and complex. That's why people didn't seem to like it, I suppose. I love complex stories, though. Aren't you guys bored of the same stuff being repeated over and over again? Don't you yearn for something different? If yes, go and pick up Working Stiff. You won't regret it.
And don't let the bad reviews out there mislead you :)

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Friday, November 25, 2011

READING: Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Publication date: December 6th, 2011
Published by: Entangled Publishing
Genre: YA Paranormal, Sci-Fi
Rating: 4/5
Starting over sucks.

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I’d pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring…. until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something…unexpected happens.

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon’s touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I’m getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.
If I don’t kill him first, that is.
Obsidian is the poster book for how a teen novel-enjoyable, not at all complicated, easy and simple-should be, in order to appeal to as many readers as possible. Whether that appealed to me personally or not, is a whole different matter.

Well to be honest, it did appeal to me. Kinda. OK it was good and I enjoyed it. But nothing was happening till 70% in! Zero action. I guess that has something to do with the fact that the paranormal element (vamp, were, faery, witch, octopus whatever) wasn't revealed until right about the middle of the book. I knew it before I picked up the book and I was still bored. Before all the "action", it was a typical contemp YA with school-hot boys-high school dance-drama. And it was all about Katy and Daemon. I know, duh. This normally wouldn't have bothered me much if I wasn't up to here in hot boys who are complete jerks whom female protagonists drool over even they repeatedly acknowledge their jerkiness, and in girls who go "I don't have a boyfriend and my love life sucks. I don't know why I'm invisible to boys. I'm told I have to die for curves, delicious lips and awesome hair. Oh well, I guess I'm too much of a plain Jane for guys to notice me". 
*cue barf*
ARE.YOU. FREAKING. KIDDING. ME.

Maybe I'm getting grumpy at my old age, but please. Don't create characters who are beautiful and make them act like ordinary, girls-next door so teens can relate to them. It's wrong. I know that a book is fiction and it doesn't really matter but I also know that personally, I can make the distinction between reality and fiction. Unfortunately, from what I've seen out there, there are a lot of people who can't. Stop misleading them further.

Rant aside, I loved the fact that Katy was a book blogger. It was the first time I read the words "Waiting On Wednesday" or "It's Monday, what are you reading?" in an actual book and I couldn't help but smile. I liked Dee, Daemon's sister, I think she was genuinely sweet and generally a good person.
Daemon is kinda hot. OK, a lot. Teenagers out there, beware-he'll break your heart!

Obsidian is another run of the mill YA book with a nice pace, and a somewhat original plot. Fun, easy to finish but not a lot of action in there. I think I'll read book #2 when it comes out, just to see where the story's headed. As long as its cover is not as hideous as Obsidian's.
(Come on, guys! What were you thinking??)
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

READING: Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Publication date: October 18th, 2011
Published by: Spencer Hill Press
Genre: YA Paranormal, Vampires
Rating: 3/5
The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi-pure-bloods-have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals-well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures.Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden.Unfortunately, she's crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn't her biggest problem--staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck.
Let me start off by saying that those of you who have already read Half-Blood must have noticed its eery similarity to another very well known book of the genre. Come on, don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about! Yes, Half-Blood is a great book. Yes, it has a nice romance and well built story. Yes, it has a very hot male character(or should I say hot male characters?) Half-Blood had all that and still couldn't reach Vampire Academy's (by Richelle Mead) potential, seeing as the former was almost identical to the latter.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about plagiarism. Nothing of the kind. I'm just saying that the story of Half-Blood is exactly the same as the story in VA. And I don't use the word "exactly" lightly. The whole mythology, the Moroi, the Dhampir guardians, their frowned upon intimate relations, Dhampirs' infertility, Strigoi and so much more was pictured the exact same way in Half-Blood, under different names of course. Granted, there are a few differences that thankfully are there to help us readers tell the books apart. But overall, it's undoubtedly a repetition of Vampire Academy's story. That's why I feel I don't have to "review" it, tell you my thoughts about the characters and the plot(ha!). If you know me, you know I love VA so you know what my thoughts are on the book(s).

I'm really sorry if I sound totally obnoxious referencing Vampire Academy so much. You know, before I read Half-Blood friends who had already read it warned me about the inevitable VA comparison. But I never expected for those two to be so alike! And I agree with what people say that there's no originality in art, especially in literature. Besides, expecting to read something truly original in the YA paranormal genre is utopic, to say the least. However, I draw the line in reading the same(almost verbatim "copied")story in two different books. And between you and me, Vampire Academy was way better. 

I mean no disrespect to Armentrout, on the contrary. I enjoyed her book and applaud her effort. It's obvious she can write and she can write very well. I just don't understand why she didn't choose to build a new paranormal world of her own, instead of borrowing one from another book. I don't know, I just feel she can do so much better. I enjoyed Half-Blood, no question about it, but in all fairness, probably because it made me want to read Vampire Academy again.
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

READING: Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber

Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber

Publication date: November 8th, 2011
Published by: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical YA, Paranormal Mystery
Rating: 3,5/5
New York City, 1882. Seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart's latest obsession is a painting of the handsome British Lord Denbury. Something in his striking blue eyes calls to her. As his incredibly life-like gaze seems to follow her, Natalie gets the uneasy feeling that details of the painting keep changing...

Jonathan Denbury's soul is trapped in the gilded painting by dark magic while his possessed body commits unspeakable crimes in the city slums. He must lure Natalie into the painting, for only together can they reverse the curse and free his damaged soul.
Darker Still couldn't have come at a worse time for me. I have tons of things on my mind and get easily distracted. So, admittedly I kinda struggled to finish it, it took me a while. That being said, I strongly believe that Darker Still is different from other YA because not only does it combine two genres (historical/paranormal), it's also written the way historical books are written, Jane Austen style, which is something you're either going to find innovative and intriguing or confusing and boring. I was both intrigued and bored.

I liked the characters. It didn't have a lot of them, only 3 major players and 2-3 who weren't important to the story. I liked Natalie. I liked her naivete, her shyness, which seemed real and believable throughout the book, even when she finally succumbs to Lord Denbury's charms. Lord Denbury was the obvious love interest, good looking and alluring. I just can't bring myself to call an 19 century lord "hot", sorry :)

Granted, the story Hieber chose to write isn't the most original, as the basic idea is inspired by Oscar Wilde's "The Picture Of Dorian Gray". Even though Darker Still isn't, understandably, as deep and existential as Dorian Gray was, it still made a good and entertaining read. It focused more on Natalie's and Lord Denbury's romance and how that came to be, rather than the paranormal part of the story and Denbury's malevolent half.
I would have liked more of that, I'm afraid. Not that I didn't enjoy the romance, quite the opposite. However, I think if the book was equal parts romance and actual plot/story, it would have a better flow and would be way easier to read and concentrate on. The flow of information and action was slow at times and that certainly didn't help to move the story forwards. I wanted more magic, more mythology and more bad guy scenes, which regretfully were very limited. Too bad, I kinda liked vicious Denbury!

If you like Victorian era type books and intricate but elegant writing, read Darker Still. Story-wise though, I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you.
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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

READING: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Publication date: November 15th, 2011
Published by: HarperCollins
Genre: YA Dystopian
Rating: 3,5/5
Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days. 
The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color. 
The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war-- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now. 
Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior. 

Again, another book I was expecting everything from and only got some. It not exactly left me disappointed but I was not thrilled, either.

First couple of pages in I was like "What the hell am I reading? What is this?" I didn't like the crossed out phrases at all. I thought they were completely unnecessary, pretentious and just plain bad. However, after a while I thought that maybe they were there to symbolize Juliette's gradual transformation from an almost savage being living in a filthy sanitarium, to someone who is loved and capable of loving back. So, if it was intentionally added by the author then I'm in the wrong. If not, well then I stand by my initial opinion and say again that I found it showy and this book didn't need anything showy in it.

The story itself was very powerful and intense. It was original, I'll give it that, and the ending shows that there's much more to the story, has a little twist there. Will I pick up the 2nd book? Sure, why not?
Adam, well. He was a hot/hero/to good to be true guy. Aren't they all? Nothing that distinctly awesome about Adam, don't get why all female readers swooned over him so.

All in all, Shatter Me was a good dystopian novel, as all dystopian novels are overall OK., because the genre is still relatively "new" in YA and not many writers have trampled all over it like with YA Paranormal. So, IMO dystopians can be exceptionally good or just good. Shatter Me was the latter. I hope next book will be the former.



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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

READING: Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Publication date: December 1st, 2011
Published by: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: YA Contemporary
Rating: 4/5
What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though-she leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys, and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university. But now there's a new guy in town who threatens her starting position... suddenly she's hoping he'll see her as more than just a teammate.

Catching Jordan reminded me so much of Friday Night Lights which is only one of my top 3 favorite shows ever, that I couldn't help but like it. Aside from that though, it's such an addictive read, that anyone who's a big sucker for contemporary romances will certainly love it.

Catching Jordan started really strong, describing the life of a high school senior quarterback. "Big deal", I hear you say. Well, this quarterback is a girl, and her name is Jordan. 
In the 1st half we see how Jordan struggles to balance everything that goes on in her life. Football, a father who-in her opinion-doesn't care about her hopes and dreams, the new guy,Ty, who might be the first thing to get her mind off football and her best friend since forever, Henry.
I liked how Kenneally didn't make everything appear all fine and dandy in Jordan's life. She is a female quarterback. It's unusual and a lot of people have a problem with unusual. This apparently comes as a shock to Jordan when she realises that college coaches don't take her seriously as a football player. Her dad had told her like a million times, but did she listen? I'm not implying that his behavior was awesome and Jordan was wrong all along, but she could have cut him some slack and understand that he is her dad and whatever he says, he always has her best interest at heart, instead of putting her ego first. So yeah, I didn't like how she talked about her dad, especially after he pulled in some huge favors for her friends.

Now about the romance part. Annoying thing in love triangles? Hello, we meet again. You know what I'm talking about, when girl meets guy and he is so hot and sweet she falls immediately head over heels but then suddenly she realises she loves another and hot guy #1 becomes a jerk. 
I hate that. Why? Because when I am introduced to a character whom my protagonist lusts, swoons and drools over and the writer spends page after page working up to the first kiss blah blah, I emotionally "invest" in him. I like him because he is a couple with my heroine. And since my heroine adores him, all the more reason for me to get attached to him. So you understand my frustration when the heroine, out of the blue, not only stops pining over him but also "invents" bad things about him and his behavior to make the other guy look good. 
I'm NO fan of that. Even though in this particular book, I liked both guys equally.

That being said, Catching Jordan is an undoubtedly enjoyable book. That's what I love about contemporary YA novels. You may not like some stuff in there but when you turn the last page, you wish you could turn back the time and read them again for the first time. Catching Jordan is definitely one of those books.
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Sunday, November 6, 2011

In My Mailbox (44)

::Thanks to the Story Siren for hosting IMM::




You Don't Have To Say You Love Me by Sarra Manning (GoodReads)
(Loooooved it! If you're in adult contemp. romance, pick it up ASAP!)


Ship Of Magic(Liveship Traders #1) by Robin Hobb (GoodReads)


The Mad Ship(Liveship Traders #2) by Robin Hobb (GoodReads)


Ship Of Destiny(Liveship Traders #3) by Robin Hobb (GoodReads)
(A huge thanks to my friend Evi for getting them for me :)
I promise, as soon as I finish Martin's books, I'll get right on them!)




What did you get in your mailbox?
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

READING: Burn Bright by Marianne De Pierres

Burn Bright by Marianne De Pierres

Publication date: March 1st, 2011
Published by: Random House Australia
Genre: YA Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Rating: 3/5
Into a world of wild secrets and deadly pleasures comes a girl whose innocence may be her greatest strength.

In Ixion music and party are our only beliefs. Darkness is our comfort. We have few rules but they are absolute . . .
Retra doesn’t want to go to Ixion, the island of ever-night, ever-youth and never-sleep. Retra is a Seal – sealed minds, sealed community. She doesn’t crave parties and pleasure, experience and freedom.
But her brother Joel left for Ixion two years ago, and Retra is determined to find him. Braving the intense pain of her obedience strip to escape the only home she’s ever known, Retra stows away on the barge that will take her to her brother.
When she can’t find Joel, Retra finds herself drawn deeper into the intoxicating world of Ixion. Come to me, whispers a voice in her head. Who are the Ripers, the mysterious guardians of Ixion? What are the Night Creatures Retra can see in the shadows? And what happens to those who grow too old for Ixion?
Retra will find that Ixion has its pleasures, but its secrets are deadly. Will friendship, and the creation of an eternal bond with a Riper, be enough to save her from the darkness?

Listen well, baby bats. Burn bright, but do not stray from the paths. Remember, when you live in a place of darkness you also live with creatures of the dark.

You gotta fight!
For your right!
To paaaaaaaaaaarty!


That is pretty much the concept of Burn Bright. The one I got from it, at least.
World in Burn Bright is not our own, so this is not a post apocalyptic-I was mowing my lawn when suddenly a terrible plague killed 2,75 gazillion people-world. It's completely fictional and contains a lot of "areas" one could have grown up in. The protagonist, Retra, is a Seal which basically means someone who is devoid of every pleasure in life, is very shy and doesn't have the right to express an opinion. On the other hand there is Ixion, where the sun never rises. A place where you don't have to sleep(only briefly)and you can party and indulge in pretty much anything you can think of all day. Retra, after enduring unbearable physiological and physical pain at home, risks her life to go to Ixion and reunite with her brother Joel who had run off to Ixion a while back.

So. Ixion- the party planet. At first I thought it was something new and original but then meh I don't know. I mean, an island you can party and have sex non stop? Granted, it sounds intriguing and I'm certainly not a prude, but how is this a solution to Retra's or Joel's problems, created by a dysfunctional environment? For not being allowed to look in a mirror because it was considered a sin to choking down "happy pills" everyday, it's kind of a long way. And I liked Retra in the first half because she refused to change. She felt free from her father's tyranny sure, but she didn't become a ho bag in a matter of hours.
Until of course, god-like Lenoir touched her thigh and she had an orgasm.
...
Then everything changed inside her and she decided to go with the flow and become like the other Ixion-ites, but slightly better since she was Lenoir's favorite.

I don't know what to tell you, I didn't connect with the story or the characters at all. Yes, the book had a nice gothic feel to it. While reading I kept imagining Ixion like a medieval Ibiza. With a bunch of churches and monsters lurking in the dark. Now, that's a pretty picture! But when it's all said and done, I am not sure the imagery alone is enough to make me like Burn Bright. I didn't get the romance between Retra and Lenoir, either. Story of Ruzalia was interesting, though. 
When people at Ixion stopped being young(it doesn't say how young or how old that is), rumor has it that they are withdrawn from Ixion. What does that entail exactly? Nobody knows. Ruzalia claims that the Ripers(Guardians of the Ixion youth) get rid of them once and for all. The Ripers claim otherwise. So Ruzalia and her followers live in a huge pirate - like boat, fight the Ripers and have built a whole new world where people who are withdrawn can go. Second book is supposeed to be Ruzalia-centered so I may give the series another chance.

Burn Bright was an OK book I guess. Nothing special for me and I struggled a little bit to finish it. It's worth a try for dystopian enthusiasts.

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

READING: The Ivy & Secrets by Lauren Kunze & Rina Onur

Ivy - Secrets by Lauren Kunze & Rina Onur

Publication dates: August 31st, 2010 - June 1st, 2011
Published by: Greenwillow Books
Genre: YA Contemporary
Ratings: 5/5 - 5/5


Congratulations! You have been admitted to the most prestigious university in the world. Now what are you going to do?
Callie Andrews may not have money or connections or the right clothes, and she may have way too many complications in her love life, what with
Gregory
the guy she loves to hate ...
Eva
the guy she'd love to forget ...
Clint
the guy she'd love to love ...
and Matt
the guy she really should love ...
all vying for her attention.
But she has three fantastic roommates (best friends or her worst nightmare?) and a wholesome California-girl reputation (oops) and brains and beauty and big, big dreams.
Will it be enough to help her survive freshman year at Harvard?

Reputation, Reputation, Reputation.

You're a student at the most prestigious university in the country, and you've been tapped for the most elite social club. You've made it!
Now Don't Blow It!

Callie Andrews triumphed during her first semester at Harvard: she made incomparable friends, found the perfect boyfriend, and received invitations to the most exclusive secret societies. But she may have ruined every-thing with one ill-fated night. Now she's keeping secrets from everyone, including-
Clint the upperclassman who's too good to be true
Vanessa the best friend turned backstabber
Gregory the guy who's a total(ly hot) mistake
and Lexi the social queen who wants to bring Callie down.

But Callie didn't get into Harvard by giving up, and she isn't about to now. Besides, she's not the only one with something to hide. . . .
Could I be any more in love with the Ivy series? 
The answer is: hells no!!!!!

After a series of OK books, I finally found something I was completely obsessed about and loved with all my heart. And that is the Ivy series.
My friend M. and I have had endless conversations about books that we read and them being either too YA or too adult. We had yet to find the much coveted in-between book, the one that has good parts of each of the genres.
In other words: college. 

First came Beautiful Disaster by Jamie MacGuire which I absolutely adored. Unlike BD though, Ivy doesn't only focus on two college students' unrequited love, which is by no means bad, but rather on describing college life and in this case, life at Harvard University. Both authors attended Harvard, and though they don't admit to the books being biographical, they acknowledge that "..they are realistic". The places, the dorms, the parties, classes, professors, all of it is real. Personally, Harvard college life took me by surprise. I had no idea things like that happened at such a prominent, Ivy league university. I thought Harvard students were with their heads inside a book all day.
Yeah, right!

As it is very well known, partying and debauchery in general, always lead to epic romances.
Or epic mistakes.
This series had both in excess. Each time you felt happy and relieved, something would happen to make it all bad and chaotic again.
There's no question books are written around Callie and how she, a poor california girl, is adjusting to a new life in the East coast and how she struggles to hang in there and not crumble under the pressure of exams, initiations, mean girls and of course love!
I liked all the characters in the series equally. Yes, even Alexis! She was something all right, but I liked her. There are a lot of characters in Ivy and Secrets and no one falls under the radar, goes unnoticed. Every one has a distinct voice and is memorable.
In all honesty though, I cannot decide who is best for Callie. I like Clint and Greg both! I loved Greg right from the start because he is hot(duh!)and snarky, but Clint…I mean, what's there not to like? The guy is perfect. And I don't mean, boring perfect, I mean the right amount of perfect. I'm telling you, I did not want to be on Callie's shoes at the end of Secrets. Seriously.
Speaking of, Secrets's ending? Huge, mind-blowing cliff hanger!!!

If you read contemporary fiction there is NO way you won't like the Ivy series. I got through both of the books so quickly, I kinda regret it now. I wish I would have taken my sweet time and savor them :( 
Ivy and Secrets made me wish I was back in college. Yes. With all the studying and everything. That's how much I loved these books!

Rivals, book 3 in the series, is coming out March 6th 2012 by Greenwillow. 

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Friday, October 28, 2011

READING: The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

Publication date: November 15th, 2011
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry
Source: Simon&Schuster Galley Grab
Genre: YA Dystopian
Rating: 4/5
In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she's spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It's there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she's never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.

Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can't be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country's only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.

The Pledge is Kimberly Derting's first try at the dystopian genre. I won't say the renowned "it could have been worse", because a)duh and b)it's kinda lame to say that, even if I have definitely said it more than once in the past. It was a very good first attempt, which would have been brilliant for me if not for the infamous *drumroll* insta-love.

Yeah. It was regrettably one of those. And what made it worse was that the heroine, Charlie, fell instantly in love with *drumroll #2* the bad guy. Well, add a lot of quotations in the word "bad" there, you know how these things are. Thing is, Charlie has an ability that she and her family must, under any circumstance, keep a secret because if the Queen or any of her officers found out, she would be executed. And she chooses to fall madly in love with a guy in the military plus let him *ahem* accidentally find out her secret which I repeat, will cost her life. I don't say don't fall in love with him, these things are kind of unavoidable and what's a YA book without a romance, but there were so many ways it could have played out and still be a great, believable love story between a girl with a secret and a man that's never meant to discover it.
When you have a secret, which if known would be fatal for you and probably for your family, you can't accept messages from the queen's guard pledging his eternal fealty to you and swearing up and down that he will protect you no matter what, having met him once! and feel your heart flutter and birds singing and rainbows doing whatever rainbows do. You just can't. It's so circa 2009!

Insta-freaking-can-you-please-stop-using-it-in-books-love aside, the world building in The Pledge was great. I liked the fact that it had a fantasy feel to it, like if you didn't know it was dystopian, it could have easily be a beautiful fantasy novel with Charlie and co. living in wooden shacks under a tree in the forest and so forth. Story was good too, which, again, could have easily belonged to a fantasy novel. Different dialects, hierarchy and casts, Queens, magic, epic stuff.

All in all, I'd urge you to consider reading The Pledge. If you're completely anti-instalove, you'll be a bit pissed for sure. But hopefully you'll find that good story telling makes up for it in the end.
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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

READING: Eve by Anna Carey

Eve by Anna Carey

Publication date: October 4th, 2011
Published by: HarperTeen
Genre: YA Dystopian
Rating: 2,5/5
The year is 2032, sixteen years after a deadly virus—and the vaccine intended to protect against it—wiped out most of the earth’s population. The night before eighteen-year-old Eve’s graduation from her all-girls school she discovers what really happens to new graduates, and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust...and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.

There are two things that seriously went wrong in this book:

1. Major plot holes and
2. Major character fail

The story is placed in the future when, after a deadly virus has eradicated most of earth's population, girls and boys were snatched at age 5 , each for different purposes. Eve, while her whole family has been infected and ultimately died, she does not. Why some people survived and others didn't? We don't know. What was the virus, how did it work and what caused it? We don't know. Who is this big bad, the King? We don't know.
Anyway, Eve is brought up in all-girls school where apparently there are taught from a very young age to be terrified of men and never ever trust them because they say that it was them that brought the plague upon the populace. Now, I can only assume the writer means that those men were politicians and people in high places in general. Why only men? This is 2032. I am assuming that before the plague, Eve's world was the same as ours. So, weren't there any women in power?
Personally, I never figured out if Eve's world before the plague was indeed the same as ours. There are some culture references which prove that it is (songs, movies, books). Also at one point Eve is air quoting and I couldn't help but wonder how a little girl who was brought up in an overly conservative environment where simple leisure tasks are forbidden know about air quotes? I'm really sorry if you think that I'm picking the book apart but these are legit questions to which I never got answers. 
There is also the matter of topography. Story takes place in America obviously and Eve expresses her desire to go to Califia where she can live her life freely. I guess (notice the word "guess"? That's because I never really found out) that Califia is California. Why Carey does not say California then? Every other place she mentions is real, like San Francisco, Golden Gate Bridge, Arizona. It just seemed so weird and unecessary to me. When you're making up a whole new world after a terrible catastrophe, a world that you or anyone else has never lived in, you must have some basic structure and stick with it throughout the whole book, otherwise it just falls apart.

Eve. I didn't like Eve's character at all. Wherever she went chaos ensued because of her. They only thing left, was to hear her say "Oopsie!" after people were killed because she made a stupid mistake. She didn't seem to know what situation she was in half of the time, she didn't understand its seriousness, and ended up hurting a lot of people not because she was a bad person, but because she was an idiot.
Also dear Eve, when someone tried to rape you and later you are asked if you like that someone, your answer should NEVER EVER be "I don't know".
For a girl who was raised to hate boys, she locked lips with them no problem (I don't care how hot Caleb was). Speaking of, the last scene in the book with her and Caleb was the most obscene scene I have ever read. It rendered what had happened up until that point purposeless and frankly I was royally pissed about it.

Granted, it was a very fast and easy read, you didn't want to put it down. That was not nearly enough, though. I wish Carey had paid more attention to details and wrote a more wholesome story with a better lead character.
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