12/30/12

Wanderlove

Author: Kristen Hubbard 
Pages: 338 
Publisher: Delacorte
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): It all begins with a stupid question: Are you a Global Vagabond? No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path. 

 Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward. But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.



My Summary: Bria thought her life was over when Toby - her boyfriend of two years - decided to end their relationship. Heartbroken and devastated, Bria doesn't see the point in attending art school without him and neglects to mail in her forms. 

Bria thinks the best way to get over Toby is to get away for a few weeks, so when her friends shoot down her Europe idea, Bria decides Central America would be a lovely alternative. She books herself a flight with a tour group, not realizing she's stuck herself with middle-aged tourists that don't even possess an ounce of adventure. 

A few days into her by-the-book tour, Bria's rescued by  a brother and sister backpacker duo who know Central America like the back of their hands. But can she ever escape from her past? Is she willing to forget it, or will she let it affect her future? 

My Thoughts: A couple of days ago I asked my Goodreads friends for book recommendations, and boy did you guys deliver! The minute I picked this one up I knew I was hooked. Bria was a great main character, as well as Starling and Rowan. I loved the dynamic of their relationships, as well as how they each develop as the story progresses.

This book ignited my sense of adventure. I've always had the travel bug, but after reading Wanderlove I'm itching to get away (and backpacking feels like a great way to go). Europe, anyone? 

The inclusion of the drawings really added that extra touch. I loved getting to see the world through Bria's eyes. Kristen Hubbard has a way with imagery - I could see the islands Bria was describing, feel the smells and the colours...  and I'm not the most imaginative of people.

Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend this to anyone who loves edgy contemporary literature, as well as anything to do with romance and travel. Fans of 13 Little Blue Envelopes will love it!

12/26/12

Days of Blood & Starlight

Author: Laini Taylor 
Pages: 517 
Publisher: Little, Brown 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

 This is not that world. 

 Art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it. 

 In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life. 

 While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope. But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?




Guys, any review I attempt to write for this book will not do it justice. No matter what. So I recommend you pick this up as soon as possible and dive right in. If you enjoyed the first installment - and I will be shocked if you didn't - you will adore this installment. It will break your heart into a million tiny little pieces and you will enjoy it. So please do me a favour and pick it up, okay?  

The Hallowed Ones

Author: Laura Bickle 
Pages: 320 
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 
Format: Paperback 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers can get a taste of the real world. But the real world comes to her in this dystopian tale with a philosophical bent. Rumors of massive unrest on the “Outside” abound. Something murderous is out there. 

Amish elders make a rule: No one goes outside, and no outsiders come in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man, she can’t leave him to die. She smuggles him into her family’s barn—at what cost to her community?



Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. 

My Summary: Katie is due to set out on her Rumspringa - the chance every amish teenager gets to experience the real world and decide whether or not to stay - when disaster strikes. The world outside is no longer a safe place (if it ever was) and the elders make a decision not to allow anyone in or out. But when Katie stumbles upon an injured stranger, she decides to take a chance and hides him in her family's barn. 

But by doing so, has she put her entire community at risk? Or worse?

My Thoughts: I definitely did not expect to enjoy this book as much as I did, but once I started reading I couldn't peel myself away from the pages. The author managed to perfectly combine genres I never dreamed would go well together - dystopia and ... is there a genre for tales of amish life? Does anybody know?  No?

I loved every aspect of this book. It was haunting and creepy and kept me guessing and I seriously need to re-read it as soon as possible because the wait for the second installment is going to kill me dead. 

Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys paranormal YA, romance, or dystopia and is looking for a refreshing, unique read for the new year. 

Will Sparrow's Road

Author: Karen Cushman 
Pages: 224 
Publisher: Clarion 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): In his thirteenth year, Will Sparrow, liar and thief, becomes a runaway. On the road, he encounters a series of con artists—a pickpocket, a tooth puller, a pig trainer, a conjurer—and learns that others are more adept than he at lying and thieving. Then he reluctantly joins a traveling troupe of "oddities," including a dwarf and a cat-faced girl, holding himself apart from the "monsters" and resolving to be on guard against further deceptions. At last Will is forced to understand that appearances are misleading and that he has been his own worst deceiver.



Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

My Summary: At the age of thirteen, Will Sparrow runs away from 'home' and sets out on his own adventure after his father sells him to an innkeeper for beer. Although he isn't the brightest or the quickest, Will is determined to make a better life for himself by doing what he can. Along the way he meets people who do what he aspires to: steal, cheat, and lie to keep themselves alive - and realizes that he isn't the thief he thought he was.

My Thoughts: I'm a huge fan of historical novels, especially when there's an adventure involved. And Will Sparrow's Road had all the elements that make up a great read. I loved the character growth and realization by Will that perhaps he isn't cut out for a life of crime in the real world. Poor Will had a hard life, but when he runs away he discovers that he hasn't had the worst of it. He learns to care about more than just himself, and even manages to make a few friends along the way.  

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to anyone looking for a well-written historical MG read.   

Extraordinary Rendition

Summary: When Ali Hussein, suspected terrorist and alleged banker for Al Qaeda, is finally transported from Guantanamo Bay to the US mainland to stand trial, many are stunned when Byron Carlos Johnson, a pre-eminent lawyer and son of a high-profile diplomat, volunteers to represent him. On principle, Johnson thought he was merely defending a man unjustly captured through rendition and water-boarded illegally. But Johnson soon learns that there is much more at stake than one man’s civil rights. Hussein’s intimate knowledge of key financial transactions could lead to the capture of—or the unabated funding of—the world’s most dangerous terror cells. This makes Hussein the target of corrupt US intelligence forces on one side, and ruthless international terrorists on the other, and puts Byron Carlos Johnson squarely in the crosshairs of both.



If this sounds right up your alley, you're in luck! Extraordinary Rendition is available for Kindle and Nook at a special discounted holiday price of $1.99!!! If you're interested, click the links below. For more info, click on the book cover and you'll be directed to the goodreads page. Don't wait, though - this awesome price is only available until the 7th of January. Merry (Belated) Christmas, everyone! 

For Kindle 

For Nook 

Enjoy!  

12/8/12

Status Update

Hey guys! I know I announced it on twitter, but in case you've been missing me lately: I'm taking a short break because of exams.


(This is me right now)

Sorry guys! It's the only way I'm going to pass. A big hug goes out to any authors waiting on a review - they'll be out soon, I promise! 

At this point I have three exams left to take: chemistry, calculus, and biology. I bombed wrote physics last night, and chem is in 2 days, meaning I gotta get my butt moving if I plan on maintaining my GPA. See you guys! I'll be back by the 19th, but if you need anything feel free to contact me by email. 

And remember: it's not you, it's me.

11/29/12

Follow Friday

Hey guys! Man, it feels like it's been ages. I haven't been very up-to-date with my memes since school started, but I had a few free minutes so I thought I'd jump back in this week.

Who is your to-die-for book crush? What do you think they look like?

Hmmm. This is a tough one, seeing as every guy in every single series seems to be perfect in one way or another (or all of them). Seriously, it's crazy how high some books set the bar for males. Can I get some awkward, bumbling klutzes please? Please? Just so I can look graceful in comparison? *puppy dog pout*.

Anyway, spiel over. My to-die-for book crush is probably Derek from the Darkest Powers series, and I can feel you guys judging me, but I refuse to reconsider. He's one of the most real male characters I've ever read, and I love the fact that he is both physically and emotionally far from perfect.

And here's a picture of Nicholas Braun because he's the closest thing to my mental picture:


You're very welcome. Happy Friday!

Beautiful Redemption

Author: K. Garcia & M. Stohl 
Pages: 464 
Publisher: Little, Brown 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Is death the end . . . or only the beginning? Ethan Wate always dreamed of leaving the stifling Southern town of Gatlin. But he never dreamt that finding love with Lena Duchannes would drive him away. Lena is a Caster girl whose supernatural powers unveiled a secretive and cursed side of Gatlin, so powerful it forced him to make a terrible sacrifice. Now Ethan must find a way to return to Lena - and Gatlin - as she vows to do whatever it takes to get him back. Even if it means trusting old enemies or risking their loved ones' lives. 



My Summary: The moment he stepped off that water tower, Ethan restored the Order of things between Light and Dark. But now that the sacrifice has been made, those left behind must live with what comes after: the grief. 

Or do they?

When Ethan realizes there might be a chance to return himself to the Mortal world and his old life, he sets out on a journey spanning two worlds. And with the help of Lena, Link, Macon, Amma, and everyone he loves in the Mortal world, Ethan might even be able to right a few century-old wrongs along the way. 

My Thoughts: As usual, I loved every minute of this book! Anything written by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl is gold in my books, and this installment was no exception. The writing was wonderful and flowed smoothly, transitioning from Ethan's point of view to Lena's seamlessly. There was never a part where I became disinterested and began hoping for the other narrator to appear - Ethan and Lena's narratives were evenly matched and kept me reading. 

I love the way that the writing makes you feel as if you're right there in Gatlin alongside the characters - the authors have definitely not lost their touch. 

Final Thoughts:  I'm not going to give away anything else;  all you guys need to know is that you should go out and get yourself a copy ASAP. It was definitely a satisfying conclusion to one of my favourite YA series. 

11/26/12

The Evolution of Mara Dyer

Author: Michelle Hodkin 
Pages: 544 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past. She can’t. She used to think her problems were all in her head. They aren’t. She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets. She’s wrong. In this gripping sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the truth evolves and choices prove deadly. What will become of Mara Dyer next?




My Summary: After everything she'd been through, Mara thought she could finally be happy... but she was wrong. The dead don't always stay dead, and as Mara soon learns, the dead sometimes want revenge. Haunted by visions of a boy only she can see - a boy who was supposed to have died in the building collapse that killed his sister Claire and Mara's friend Rachel - Mara isn't sure what's real and what isn't anymore. After one too many freak-outs, her parents decide it'd be best to have Mara committed... for her own good. But it's not Mara hurting herself, it's Jude... or is it?

My Thoughts: Oh man. I'd been waiting ages for book two of the Mara Dyer (not her real name) to come out for ages! I picked it up yesterday morning and drove straight home to drive right in.

Six hours later I was finished, and my mind was blown. Seriously, this is probably one of my favourite books of this year so far. I relished every page, being careful not to read too fast in case I missed an important detail. I adore books like this - books that mess with you and keep you on edge until long after you've flipped the last page. Mara's story continues in an epic and creepy fashion, making you question everything. I really loved the addition of the notes and dream-like sequences, and the fact that I had no idea what was going to happen next. I also got a few great laughs out of it - this book pokes fun at certain YA cliches while somehow managing to remain serious and enthralling. Everything was perfect - and I refuse to believe what happened in the ending was real. Absolutely refuse. 

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers and paranormal YA with a little bit of romance and a whole lot of edge. Lovers of Kelley Armstrong's Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising series will love it!

Scarlett Fever

Author: Maureen Johnson 
Pages: 332 
Publisher: Point 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Ever since Mrs. Amberson, the former-aspiring-actress-turned-agent, entered Scarlett Martin's life, nothing has been the same. She's still in charge of the Empire Suite in her family's hotel, but she's now also Mrs. Amberson's assistant, running around town for her star client, Chelsea - a Broadway star Scarlett's age with a knack for making her feel insignificant. Scarlett's also trying to juggle sophomore year classes, her lab partner who is being just a little TOO nice, and getting over the boy who broke her heart.




My Summary: A few months after Scarlett inherited the Empire Suite, she finds her life turned upside-down yet again: she's working as an assistant for Mrs. Amberson, catering to the every need of her new clients while trying to get over the boy who broke her heart. And when Spencer lands a role on a famous T.V. show and Lola rebels for the first time, things can only get weirder....

My Thoughts: I adored every minute of the second installment of Maureen Johnson's Scarlett trilogy! I might even go so far as to say I liked it better than the first. In this novel we see Scarlett attempt to get over Eric... 'try' being the key word. I loved seeing the contrasts between the male 'love interest' characters; Max is definitely winning my vote. 

Maureen's signature sarcastic humour carried over, and I really enjoyed reading the back-and-forth between Scarlett and Spencer. I am a little upset over the cliffhanger in this one - especially seeing as the third in the trilogy hasn't even really been announced yet - but I have faith in Maureen and I know she won't make us suffer for too much longer. I am a little sad over the lack of hilarious Mrs. Amberson moments in this one, but I'm sure we're bound to see a lot more of her and her antics in the next installment.

Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good contemporary lit novel, as well as any fans of Maureen's writing. Those looking for a lighthearted, fun novel will love it.

11/21/12

Perry's Killer Playlist

Author: Joe Schreiber 
Pages: 224 
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin 
Format: Hardcover (ARC) 
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): When Perry ends up in Venice on a European tour with his band Inchworm, he can’t resist a visit to Harry’s Bar, where Gobi told him she’d meet him someday. The last time he saw Gobi, five people were assassinated one crazy night in New York City. Well . . . Gobi shows up, and once again Perry is roped into a wild, nonstop thrill ride with a body count. Double crossings, kidnappings, CIA agents, arms dealers, boat chases in Venetian canals, and a shootout in the middle of a Santa Claus convention ensue.



Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

My Summary: Perry's life has been almost perfect since his wild night with exchange-student-turned-assassin Gobi. He has the perfect girlfriend, a happy family, and his band is starting to really take off. 

In fact, Inchworm is set to go on a European tour. Wandering around Venice, he makes a choice: he's going to visit the bar he and Gobi promised to meet at. What happens next leads Perry on another wild ride around Europe with the deadly assassin he may - or may not - still be in love with.

My Thoughts:  Another great read from Joe Schreiber! I didn't think I'd enjoy this installment as much as I did the first, but I was pleasantly surprised - Perry and Gobi's second adventure is just as fast-paced and action-packed as the first! 

Schreiber's books may be a little on the short side, but he definitely knows how to pack one heck of a story into those pages. I was so pumped to read Perry's Killer Playlist after scanning the summary and finding out it was set in Europe - there's something so incredibly badass about a gun battle staged in a Parisian cafe, mais non? 

And, like in the first installment, Schreiber begins every chapter with a song title (something this music hoarder really loved!).

Final Thoughts: I recommend this to readers who enjoy action-packed YA with a little romance thrown in - male readers will definitely enjoy it!

11/19/12

The Bronte Sisters: The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne

Author: Catherine Reef 
Pages: 240 
Publisher: Clarion 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): The Brontë sisters are among the most beloved writers of all time, best known for their classic nineteenth-century novels Jane Eyre (Charlotte), Wuthering Heights (Emily), and Agnes Grey (Anne). In this sometimes heartbreaking young adult biography, Catherine Reef explores the turbulent lives of these literary siblings and the oppressive times in which they lived. Brontë fans will also revel in the insights into their favorite novels, the plethora of poetry, and the outstanding collection of more than sixty black-and-white archival images. A powerful testimony to the life of the mind.



Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. 

This was an extremely informative and enjoyable read! Not many people know about the authors behind the beloved classics, and I had a great time learning about the lives of these three incredible authors. I really enjoyed studying the black and white photographs included in the novel - it made me feel like I really got to know Charlotte, Emily, and Anne - as well as all the quirky little stories about their lives. I liked the fact that the author does not sugarcoat any aspect of the girls' lives - she tells it like it is, not trying to make them seem like saints. Through Reef's descriptions, we learn just what the three Bronte sisters were like and what could have inspired their amazing literary works. 

It's definitely worth the read if you're a fan of any of the Bronte sisters' novels!

Plain Kate

Author: Erin Bow 
Pages: 314 
Publisher: Scholastic 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads)A knife-sharp debut novel that leaves its mark. Plain Kate lives in a world of superstitions and curses, where a song can heal a wound and a shadow can work deep magic. When Kate's village falls on hard times - crops fail, and even Kate's father falls victim to a deadly fever - the townspeople look for someone to blame, and their eyes fall on Kate.

Enter Linay, a stranger with a proposition: In exchange for her shadow, he'll give Kate the means to escape the town that seems set to burn her, and what's more, he'll grant her heart's wish. It's a chance for her to start over, to find a home, a family, a place to belong. But Kate soon realizes that she can't live shadowless forever -- and that Linay's designs are darker than she ever dreamed.



My Summary: Kate - Plain Kate, as she's known to those in her small town - was carving before she could walk. Raised by her father, a talented woodcarver, Kate knew that she'd be able to develop her talents and apprentice under her father when the time came.

But things never went as planned. Kate's father perished, leaving her alone and penniless in a town that despised her. With nowhere to go, Kate takes up residence in her fathers stall in the market square. She survives for years on nothing but her skill, undisturbed - until a mysterious stranger comes to town, offering her a wish in return for her shadow.   

My Thoughts: This book was everything I wanted it to be and more. Set in an unnamed country at a time when those suspected of witchcraft were still burned at the stake, Kate's story twists and turns in a way that keeps you glued to the pages. The hardships she faces make you wish you could reach into the book and help her - she was an innocent girl whose only crimes were trying to survive after the death of her father and practicing her art. 

I adored the characters. Taggle was, by far, the best talking cat I have ever had the pleasure to read about. Each had their own motivations and quirks, and despite their actions you could see they had good hearts. 

Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys paranormal YA and MG, and anyone who's looking for something unique and original.

The Book Thief

Author: Markus Zusak 
Pages: 552 
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf 
Format: Paperback 
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. By her brother's graveside, Liesel Meminger's life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Grave Digger's Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever there are books to be found. But these are dangerous times. When Liesel's foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel's world is both opened up and closed down.



My Summary: Liesel is a girl who has escaped death on more than one occasion. It is Germany in the middle of the second world war, and after the death of her brother, Liesel is taken to live with foster parents, who teach her - among other things - the power of words. As she becomes caught up in the world of books and words, the world around her begins to descend into chaos. 

My Thoughts: I was a little late with my discovery of  The Book Thief - I was one of a few kids who didn't have to read it in seventh grade - but I am immensely glad I let my friend convince me to take a chance on it. This was one of those novels that you know will change you - from the moment I started reading I knew there was something special about it. Zusak's characters were living, breathing people, and my heart ached for them. I could imagine every single facet of Himmel Street, and when Liesel stole books I felt like I was right there with her. 

And of course, like every good book has to, it broke my heart.

Final Thoughts: The Book Thief is definitely a modern classic, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a wonderful read. 

11/11/12

Origin

Author: Jessica Khoury 
Pages: 394 
Publisher: Razorbill 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home--and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life. Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia's origin--a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.



My Summary: Since the day she was born, Pia has been called 'perfect' by everyone she knows. The result of a successful genetic experiment, Pia is the first immortal human being ever to walk the Earth. But she is a secret to mankind, isolated in the Amazon rain forest in a secret compound run by scientists. 

Pia longs to see the outside world, but she's never gotten the chance. But when a new scientists comes to the compound and tells Pia about the ways out of Little Cam, things begin to spiral out of control. Pia must choose: true love, or the fulfillment of her dream.

My Thoughts: Origin was an incredibly refreshing read! I couldn't wait to jump in and get started, and when I did start I couldn't get myself to stop. Khoury works wonders with words, weaving an incredible setting seamlessly together with an amazing story. I loved every minute of Origin!

I loved the characters. Each had a personality of their own and played their own part in the story. My favourite was definitely Eio, but Uncle Antonio is a close second!

Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys sci-fi and fantasy, as well as romance.  

10/30/12

What Came from the Stars

Author: Gary D. Schmidt 
Pages: 304 
Publisher: Clarion 
Format: Hardcover (ARC) 
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): The Valorim are about to fall to a dark lord when they send a necklace containing their planet across the cosmos, hurtling past a trillion starsall the way into the lunchbox of Tommy Pepper, sixth grader, of Plymouth, Mass. Mourning his late mother, Tommy doesn't notice much about the chain he found, but soon he is drawing the twin suns and humming the music of a hanorah. As Tommy absorbs the art and language of the Valorim, their enemies target him. When a creature begins ransacking Plymouth in search of the chain, Tommy learns he must protect his family from villains far worse than he's ever imagined.



Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.


My Summary: While sitting in the cafeteria one day, Tommy receives an unexpected surprise. He doesn't know it yet, but the necklace that dropped into his lunchbox during lunch contains an entire planet. And while he may think nothing of it, their are powerful villains who will stop at nothing to get the chain back and make the planet of Valorim theirs at last.

My Thoughts: This book was a little bit of an oddity, but I still enjoyed it. As a fan of books and series like The Lord of the Rings, I enjoyed the complicated twists and narration style. Tommy and Patty's grief after their mother's death balances out the more sci-fi elements, making for a very balanced story - sci-fi, but with a definite human element.  

I really liked the fact that there was a glossary of terms included in the back. It made for a much easier reading experience - I'm glad I checked!  

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel if you are a fan of fantasy novels and sci-fi, and although it is being marketed as a MG novel, I'd recommend it for the older end of MG (even those who read YA already). Check it out for a read that is sure to keep you entertained. 

10/28/12

Who Could That Be At This Hour?

Author: Lemony Snicket 
Pages: 258 
Publisher: Egmont 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): In a fading town, far from anyone he knew or trusted, a young Lemony Snicket began his apprenticeship in an organization nobody knows about. He started by asking questions that shouldn't have been on his mind. Now he has written an account that should not be published, in four volumes that shouldn't be read. This is the first volume.





My Summary: Thirteen-year-old Lemony Snicket has just graduated from the school where he received his rather unorthodox education. As part of his graduation requirements, Snicket was told to chose a mentor to apprentice for. It is during this apprenticeship that he learns the consequences of asking all the wrong questions.

Dragged to a dilapidated town known as Stain'd by the Sea, Snicket and his mentor are hired to investigate the theft of a mysterious family heirloom. Snicket seems to have solved the mystery within a few hours... but even the most seemingly simple cases can shake the foundations of this tiny town.

My Thoughts: I'm still in a little bit of a state, as I've just finished reading this wonderful novel. But I'll try guys, I'll try.

This book encompassed everything I loved about A Series of Unfortunate Events! All the mystery, the intrigue, the shadows, the deceit, and atmosphere of VFD and the Baudelaires' woeful tale. From the time I was about seven I adored A Series of Unfortunate Events, so you could say this novel has been long-awaited. My expectations were this high [holds up hand to shoulder level] and Snicket (Handler) delivered on all of them! I adored this novel, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the second volume in the series.

I also adored the style of this novel. The amazing black and white and blue illustrations really added another level to the atmosphere, making it feel a lot more eerie and mysterious. I'll miss Brett's amazing illustrations, but Seth's are definitely on the same level.

Final Thoughts: If you loved A Series of Unfortunate Events, you should definitely check out Who Could That Be At This Hour?. If you've never read one of Snicket's books, get yourself to a library/bookstore as fast as your legs can carry you and GET THEM. 

The Book of Styling: An Insider's Guide to Creating Your Own Look

Author: Somer Flaherty 
Pages: 160 
Publisher: Zest Books 
Format: Paperback (ARC) 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): This guide explains the what’s, why’s, and how’s of styling; so whether you’re looking to update your wardrobe or curate your closet, this book has the answer. Accomplished stylist Somer Flaherty helps readers figure out what their look is (or ought to be), and how to tailor that look to their own particular body type. Also, for all of the future Rachel Zoe’s out there, Flaherty helps readers understand the skills that are necessary to style others, and to even turn styling into a real career.




The Book of Styling was a really fun read! As a self-proclaimed fashionista I didn't think I'd learn a lot, but boy was I wrong! I followed the tips in this book and re-vamped my closet, and I can say in all honesty that I've never been happier with the result. After learning all the little tips and tricks contained in this book, finding something to wear is a snap. If you guys haven't heard of "The Rule of Threes" I definitely recommend you check out The Book of Styling and take control of your out-of-control wardrobes!

10/25/12

The Circle

Author: M. Strandberg & S. Elfgren
Pages: 592
Publisher: Hammer
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Only together can they survive. Engelsfors. A beautiful name for a scrubby little town in Sweden where six girls have just started high school. They have nothing in common -- except they are all hunted by an ancient evil. The autumn semester has just started when a student is found dead in one of the school toilet cubicles. Everyone suspects suicide. Everyone except those that know the truth. One night, when a mysterious red moon fills the sky, the girls meet in the park. They don't know why or how they were brought there but they learn that they need each other in order to survive. They are told that they are witches. An ancient prophecy states that they are The Chosen Ones. From this day on, high school is a matter of life and death. They must learn how to work together despite their differences and they have to master the forces that have awakened within them. Time is running out. Something is hunting them and if they don't find it and defeat it, it will kill them.



My Summary: In a little town surrounded by trees, six teenaged girls begin to experience strange phenomena. Terrified and confused after the death of a fellow classmate, the six are drawn to an abandoned fairground on the night of a red moon. There they are told that they are witches - members of a "circle". Each has their own unique power, and it is their job to utilize their power and stop whatever is killing their friends.

But the girls don't take this warning seriously, choosing instead to ignore what they've been told. As a result, one of their own is brutally murdered by the mysterious evil.

Now, with one less member and only so much time left, these polar opposites must band together in order to control their abilities and destroy the evil haunting their town.

My Thoughts: The Circle was one of those novels that made me sit back and stare blankly into space after I finished. I loved every minute of it! The authors have truly hit the jackpot with the slow-to-build plot and their ability to mix both contemporary issues with the paranormal - each character was complex and real, and you really felt like you got to know each and every one. This novel was the perfect book for fall - a lot of horror and paranormal, set in a spooky small town. A winning recipe. I devoured it.

What I loved most was the insane twists and turns. Usually with paranormal books I can usually predict what is going to happen, but when it came to The Circle I was at a loss (in a good way!). It kept me up late into the night reading, but I regret nothing.


Final Thoughts: If you're looking for a great Autumn read or just love a good paranormal YA mystery, check out The Circle

Blink Once

Author: Cylin Busby
Pages: 304
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): West is a high school senior who has everything going for him – until an accident leaves him paralyzed. Strapped down in his hospital bed, moving in and out of consciousness, West is isolated and alone. Until he meets Olivia. Olivia is the girl next door – though not the typical girl next door. She is in the hospital room next to his, and before long, she’s sneaking into his room to talk with him. Only Olivia seems to know what he’s thinking, and even dreaming about. Yet certain questions haunt him: Why is Olivia in the hospital? And how is she connected to the terrible dreams he’s been having? But the biggest shock of all comes when West must face the possibility that the girl he’s fallen in love with – and who’s done more to aid his recovery than anyone else – may not even be alive.



My Summary: West thought he had the perfect life - an amazing girlfriend, great friends, an a competitive BMX biking career. That is, until the accident.

Now West is a vegetable -  completely paralyzed and unable to move. His future looks bleak in comparison to what he used to have... until he meets Olivia. Strange, intense, and mysterious, Olivia helps West on the path to recovery faster than any miracle drug ever could have. But what will happen to their relationship when West is released and things suddenly take a turn for the worst?

My Thoughts: I had no idea what to expect when I began reading Blink Once, but I'm so glad I took a chance on it and stepped out of my comfort zone.

This novel was one of those ones that grabs you and doesn't let go. From the moment I started, I couldn't put it down  - I absolutely had to know what happened with West and Olivia. They were both such complex characters, and I loved the way the author portrayed them both in such a great way.

Final Thoughts: I can't really say more without giving something away, but I'll leave you with this: if you love contemporary literature and YA, you need to get yourself a copy of Blink Once!

10/20/12

The Mark of Athena

Author: Rick Riordan
Pages: 608
Publisher: Hyperion
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Annabeth is terrified. Just when she’s about to be reunited with Percy—after six months of being apart, thanks to Hera—it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. As Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the Argo II, she can’t blame the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon masthead, Leo’s fantastical creation doesn’t appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace. And that’s only one of her worries. In her pocket Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving demand: Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge me. Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will send seven demigods on a quest to find—and close— the Doors of Death. What more does Athena want from her? Annabeth’s biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he’s now attached to Roman ways? Does he still need his old friends? As the daughter of the goddess of war and wisdom, Annabeth knows she was born to be a leader, but never again does she want to be without Seaweed Brain by her side. Narrated by four different demigods, The Mark of Athena is an unforgettable journey across land and sea to Rome, where important discoveries, surprising sacrifices, and unspeakable horrors await. Climb aboard the Argo II, if you dare. . . .  



My Summary: It seems as if Annabeth's prayers have finally been answered - they've located Percy, and are on their way to the Roman camp to retrieve him. While they're there, Annabeth and the others hope to solidify their rocky relationship with the rival camp and get their help fighting Gaea before it's too late.

But Gaea has other plans, and instead of creating peace between the camps, Annabeth and her friends accidentally start a war with Camp Jupiter. But that's the least of their worries - if they don't find Hazel's brother Nico before the First of July, he'll die.

Now with Percy and his group in tow, the demigods must find a way to get to Nico and stop Gaea's plan before it's too late - all while fighting against their would-be friends. But can they possibly succeed with the odds stacked against them?

My Thoughts: I just... wow. I finished a while ago, and yet I still can't seem to form completely coherent opinions about this one. Well, I can... kind of. IT WAS SO GOOD! I loved every minute of it - I even bought the ebook version so that I could read it when I wasn't home and had a few spare minutes between classes and such. Every aspect was absolutely wonderful. We got to see a lot of character growth and relationship strengthening, and we also got some revelations about the gods themselves. I, for one, was close to tears after that ending... I mean seriously, talk about a sucker-punch to the feelings! Thanks Mr. Riordan, that was just what I needed today.

Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend checking out the entire series, starting from The Lightning Thief. You will not regret it!


10/16/12

Beautiful Creatures Movie Trailer

If you haven't been to the movies in a while or just haven't heard, the trailer for Beautiful Creatures was just released the other day! I had no clue until a friend of mine mentioned it this morning, so for my fellow flighty / distracted bloggers, here it is:



Is anyone else freaking out? I'm so excited! Only a few more months!

For fellow fans of the series: let me know what you think so far!

10/9/12

Sons of the 613

Author: Michael Rubens
Pages: 320
Publisher: Clarion Books
Format: Hardcover (ARC)
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Isaac's parents have abandoned him for a trip to Italy in the final days before his bar mitzvah. And even worse, his hotheaded older brother, Josh, has been left in charge. An undefeated wrestler, MMA fighter, and bar brawler, Josh claims to be a "Son of the 613"—a man obedient to the six hundred and thirteen commandments in the Tanakh—and he has the tattoo to prove it. When Josh declares that there is more to becoming a man than memorization, the mad "quest" begins for Isaac. From jumping off cliffs and riding motorcycles, to standing-up to school bullies and surviving the potentially fatal Final Challenge, Josh puts Isaac through a punishing gauntlet that only an older brother could dream up. But when Isaac begins to fall for Josh's girlfriend, Leslie, the challenges escalate from bad to worse in this uproarious coming-of-age comedy.



Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

My Summary: Isaac and his brother Josh don't exactly see eye-to-eye on a lot of things. Ever since Josh became a "Son of the 613", things have been a little... weird, to say the least. And when their parents decide to go on a last minute trip to Italy - leaving Isaac in the care of his brother just days before his bar mitzvah - things take a turn for the worse. And when Josh notices his brother's feelings for his girlfriend, he decides that Isaac is in need of some 'training' before he can truly be called a man... and Isaac learns just what it means to cross a Son of the 613.


My Thoughts: This book was hilarious. Josh's 'training' of his brother (let's just call it torture for now) was totally reminiscent of Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid. I found myself chuckling just trying to imagine what Josh's next 'lesson' for Isaac would be.

Although the characters were quirky and fun, I had a little bit of trouble relating to the main character - of course, this could be due to the fact that I am not and never have been a thirteen year old boy. So no worries there! (My little brother snagged my copy after I was done with it, and he loved everything about the book. It has received the seal of approval).

I also really liked the way Rubens dealt with religion in this novel. A lot of books lately seem to dance around the idea of their main character having a belief or strong faith, and I feel as if the author handled it really well.

Final Thoughts: I recommend this to any boys (and girls) who enjoy YA. Isaac's story will definitely keep you laughing.

Girl of Nightmares

Author: Kendare Blake
Pages: 332
Publisher: Tor Teen
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.



My Summary: It's been almost six months since Anna disappeared into Hell, taking with her almost ever ounce of sanity Cas had left. Now he's seeing her everywhere, bleeding and tortured and dismembered. It's obvious that something is wrong with Anna, and Cas is determined to fix it, no matter who tells him to forget it and move on.

Soon Cas, Thomas, and Carmel are on a quest to find a mysterious group known as The Order of the Black Dagger - the makers of Cas's knife - and enlist their help to open a portal to Hell. But getting the Order's help just might mean the end of Cas's ghost-hunting days... along with releasing the horrible monster that Anna died to protect them from.

My Thoughts: This book... just... I can't even form completely coherent sentences at this point. I just finished reading Girl of Nightmares, and already I'm itching to grab Anna Dressed in Blood and start the series all over again. It was that good. Amazing, actually.

Although this novel was a tad different than its predecessor, I still loved every minute. Cas and the gang have grown since the first book, forming a tight-knit group. I really liked that the characters maintained their sense of individuality even when they were faced with the crisis of getting Anna out of Hell: they don't just follow blindly. Thomas and Carmel really shone as characters in this book. I'm a little disheartened that it was the last in the series... I totally wouldn't have minded another book. Just putting that out there.

And oh, the ending. It wasn't your typical fairy-tale ending with the rainbows and the flowers and the singing birds in the distance, but it was fitting. An awesome way to end an awesome series. This was one of those rare endings that just fits.

Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend  Girl of Nightmares to anyone who enjoyed the first book in the series, and I recommend the entire series to anyone who enjoys paranormal YA, adventure, and some edginess with their ghost stories.

10/8/12

Scorch

Author: Gina Damico
Pages: 332
Publisher: Graphia
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Sixteen-year-old Lex Bartleby is a teenage grim reaper with the bizarre ability to damn souls. That makes her pretty scary, even to fellow Grims. But after inadvertently transferring her ability to Zara, a murderous outlaw, Lex is a pariah in Croak, the little town she calls home. To escape the townspeople’s wrath, she and her friends embark on a wild road trip to DeMyse. Though this sparkling desert oasis is full of luxuries and amusements, it feels like a prison to Lex. Her best chance at escape would be to stop Zara once and for all—but how can she do that from DeMyse, where the Grims seem mysteriously oblivious to Zara’s killing spree?



My Summary: A few weeks after attending her twin sister's funeral, Lex is feeling a little off. After getting her Damning ability Culled by Zara, she's a bit of a pariah around Croak - the last place she thought she'd feel like an outsider. But things are getting crazy in Croak, and no matter what Lex seems to do, she can't seem to catch a break with the townspeople.

When things start to go south, Uncle Mort gathers all the Junior Grims and gets them to safety - away from Croak. But Zara is on their tail, and she won't stop until she gets what she's after: Lex.

My Thoughts: I've been waiting for this book to come out since I read the very last page of Croak. And now, having read it, I can say without any doubt: this series is freaking amazing. I adore everything about it - the hilarious dialogue, the amazingly well-developed characters (even minor ones!) and the hardcore plot twists.

I was a little worried about this installment, thinking that nothing could possibly compare to Croak, but fortunately I was wrong. Scorch delivers just as much of everything you loved about Croak - with a little more action and a few heart-stopping scenes thrown in. I loved every minute.

Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend this series to anyone who enjoys some humour with their paranormal YA, and anyone looking for an all-around amazing read.

10/7/12

Unspoken

Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Pages: 384
Publisher: Random House
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads)Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?



My Summary: Kami has lived in the quaint little town of Sorry-in-the-Vale her entire life. And for her entire life, Kami's been hearing a boy's voice in her head - a boy named Jared, whom everyone has named her imaginary friend. Kami doesn't care what anyone thinks about her or her connection to a boy she's never met, but it hasn't won her very many friends over the years - then again, neither has being a budding journalist, interviewing people and demanding to get to the bottom of things. Still, she likes her life the way it is.

But when the Lynburns come back to town, everything changes. Kami's imaginary friend isn't so imaginary after all, leaving her to wonder: what is the cause behind her and Jared's connection? And as she falls hard for the boy inside her head, she can't help but wonder: could he possibly be responsible for the mysterious deaths occurring in her cozy little town, or is he being framed?

Who is she without him? And what would she be to him if their connection were severed?

My Thoughts: I am currently in that state of shock you experience after finishing an amazing book, having your heart broken and dreams shattered, then running to the computer to make sure that it's not a stand-alone novel so you can put yourself back together and make yourself move on, trying to distract yourself until the next installment comes out.

You guys know what I mean, right? Of course you do. It's a reading thing.

I picked this novel up from the bookstore on my way home from work on a whim, and I am so glad I did. I finished it in less than 6 hours, stopping only to eat and execute normal body functions such as going to the washroom. Sarah Rees Brennan sucked me into the world of Kami and Jared and Sorry-in-the-Vale, and she did not let me go until she broken my heart. Kami and Jared are probably my favourite pairing in a YA novel over the past year. I loved the premise of their relationship: what happens when you know someone too well? Is it ever possible to be involved romantically? Especially with someone who can hear what you're thinking? I loved the tension of their relationship... which probably makes no sense to you if you haven't read the book yet.

Brennan created an amazing setting for this novel. I loved the way she described Kami's town, despite the sinister undertones. The flow of the story was perfect and never felt rushed, and the dialogue made me laugh out loud so many times I lost count. My favourite quote was probably:

(Kami): "I don't know what I'm supposed to do about a guy who only wants me for my mind."
(Holly): "I can honestly say that has never happened to me."

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys gothic literature, romance, and a good mystery. This was my first book of Sarah Rees Brennan's, but it definitely won't be the last!

10/6/12

Dead is a Killer Tune

Author: Marlene Perez
Pages: 204
Publisher: Graphia
Format: Paperback (ARC)
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): A diabolical pied piper comes to town in the the seventh installment of this hot paranormal mystery series. High school freshman Jessica Walsh is a virago, a woman warrior who must protect her hometown from danger. And in the unusual little town of Nightshade, California, trouble is always lurking. At Nightshade’s Battle of the Bands, Jess’s boyfriend Dominic and his band Side Effects May Vary are up against Hamlin, a band so popular that their fans follow them everywhere. Soon, Nightshade’s musicians are doing risky, illegal and even fatal things—and claiming that strange music they heard right before falling asleep told them to do it. Could a diabolical pied piper be sabotaging the Battle of the Bands? It’s up to Jessica and her friends track down the tuneful tyrant.



Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

My Summary
: Jessica Walsh is a virago - a female warrior responsible for keeping paranormal critters in check to keep the residents of her hometown safe from things that go bump in the night. Life as a virago isn't exactly ideal for Jess - a high school freshman - but she's managing as best as she can.

Until strange - er, stranger - things start happening to her boyfriend's band and their rivals. The boys behaviour seems to escalate daily, pitting them against each other in ruthless pranks with almost-fatal consequences. Jess knows there has to be something paranormal responsible, and as her town's protector, it's her job to save the bands - from each other and from themselves.

My Thoughts: Marlene Perez's books are amazing in the way that I will never not want to read them over and over again. They're light, quick reads with enough humour and action to keep any reader hooked. I really liked the way Jessica's character has matured since the last novel - I was disappointed when the series shifted from Daisy to Jess, but after a few books I think I may prefer Jess.

I really like the way the author makes sure to incorporate home life and school and all the little mundane parts of life into her books. Most novels (especially in the paranormal YA genre) tend to gloss over the details and make them seem unimportant, which really irks me. I mean seriously, these things make up who you are as a person - they shouldn't be ignored.

Final Thoughts: Marlene Perez's Dead Is series is perfect for anyone looking for a light, quirky read - especially fans of the paranormal genre.