7/29/12

Thirteen

Author: Kelley Armstrong
Pages: 480
Publisher:
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Summary (from Goodreads)The exciting, page-turning LAST episode of Kelley Armstrong's acclaimed, bestselling Women of the Otherworld series!
Savannah Levine, a young witch of remarkable power and a dangerous pedigree, staggers away from a bomb blast in New Orleans, glad that she's managed to rescue her half-brother Bryce from the supernatural revolutionaries who'd held him captive. But everyone and everything she holds dear is still at risk. The reveal movement has shaken the Otherworld to its core and the resulting chaos has thinned the boundaries between dimensions, allowing creatures of the deeper realms to break through and wreak havoc on supernaturals but also on innocent humans. 

Although she's been temporarily stripped her of her powers, Savannah knows she has a crucial part to play in this war of survival. In fact the fate of her loved ones--of Adam, the friend she hopes will become a lover; of Paige and Lucas, her guardians; of the werewolf Pack and Jaime Vegas; of a pregnant Hope; of her brothers Sean and Bryce--and of the human world rests on her shoulders. If she can find the way and the will to defend them. 

Only in the final battle will Savannah find out her true capacities, and what lovewill drive her to do. In 13, Kelley Armstrong brings her powerful and unique saga to a deeply satisfying end: thrilling, surprising and harrowing.

*** 
As a huge fan of Kelley's works, I knew Thirteen would be exactly what her fans have come to expect: perfection. And I was not disappointed. Since it's a new release I'm going to try and keep it as spoiler-free as possible. And honestly, it's really hard to write a review for a book this great. I loved every minute of it, and I couldn't tear myself away - I was flipping pages well into the night. I was extremely happy with the way things turned out - Kelley stayed true to the characters' personalities, and I'm glad for it. It was a satisfying end to an amazing series - one of my favourite series of all time.

I definitely recommend this entire series to anyone who enjoys paranormal fiction and romance.

7/27/12

Gimme a Call

Author: Sarah Mlynowski
Pages: 301
Publisher: Random House
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 


Summary (from Goodreads)
A new life is just a phone call away!

Devi's life isn't turning out at all like she wanted. She wasted the past three years going out with Bryan—cute, adorable, break-your-heart Bryan. Devi let her friendships fade, blew off studying, didn't join any clubs . . . and now that Bryan has broken up with her, she has nothing left.

Not even her stupid cell phone—she dropped it in the mall fountain. Now it only calls one number . . . hers. At age fourteen, three years ago!

Once Devi gets over the shock—and convinces her younger self that she isn't some wacko—she realizes that she's been given an awesome gift. She can tell herself all the right things to do . . . because she's already done all the wrong ones! Who better to take advice from than your future self?

Except . . .what if getting what you think you want changes everything?

***

My Summary: After being dumped by her boyfriend of four years, Devi realizes something: her life is in shambles. With no friends, an estranged sister and parents who hardly speak, Devi has nothing except her broken heart. And her phone.


But after accidentally dropping it in a mall fountain, Devi's phone appears to be on the fritz. It keeps calling the same number over and over: hers, four years earlier. Now with a connection to her past self, Devi plans her future - getting into the perfect college, keeping her friends, and most important of all: never dating the boy who took over her life.

My Thoughts: I picked this one up on a whim, and I am so glad I did! I've never read anything by this author, but that's definitely going to change (seeing as I couldn't put this book down until I was done). I loved Devi's character, and even Bryan's - they seemed like real people and were extremely easy to relate to. I loved that we got to see Devi in the past and present - it really helped the reader figure out her personality and why things happened they way they did. I loved that the author didn't ignore the bad things about messing with your life - and others -as well as highlighting the fact that sometimes things are better left the way they are. It also highlighted the way that some couples seem to burn all their bridges once they get together, and how balance is the key to a relationship.

Final Thoughts: All in all, Gimme a Call was a fun, cute read, and I definitely recommend it to everyone who enjoys contemporary lit and a little chick lit. 

7/26/12

Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink

Author: Stephanie Kate Strohm
Pages: 204
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: Paperback (ARC)
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads)A story of crushes, corsets, and conspiracy.


Libby Kelting had always felt herself born out of time. No wonder the historical romance-reading, Jane Austen-adaptation-watching, all-around history nerd jumped at the chance to intern at Camden Harbor, Maine’s Oldest Living History Museum. But at Camden Harbor Libby’s just plain out of place, no matter how cute she looks in a corset. Her cat-loving coworker wants her dead, the too-smart-for-his-own-good local reporter keeps pushing her buttons, her gorgeous sailor may be more shipwreck than dreamboat — plus Camden Harbor’s haunted. Over the course of one unforgettable summer, Libby learns that boys, like ghosts, aren’t always what they seem.

***

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

My Summary: Libby couldn't believe it when she landed her dream job at Camden Harbour. A whole summer, dressing up in gorgeous gowns and getting to know the local sailors? Count her in. But even Libby's Jane Austen/everything historical/romance obsessions might not be enough to get her through one of the strangest summers she's ever experienced - or the romantic obstacles on her way to happiness. 

My Thoughts: Pilgrims was one of those books that you can't believe you haven't read yet until you do. Libby was an awesome main character, and I bonded with her almost immediately. I loved the way the romance was done, and that the love interests weren't portrayed as these  perfect guys who could do no wrong. Yay for realism! 

Final Thoughts
I don't want to give too much away, so all I'll say  is this: Pilgrims was a hilarious, adorable read and I definitely recommend it for anyone looking for something fresh and unique this summer.
 

Enchanted

Author: Alethea Kontis
Pages: 305
Publisher: Harcourt
Format: Hardcover (ARC)
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars



Summary (from Goodreads)It isn't easy being the rather overlooked and unhappy youngest sibling to sisters named for the other six days of the week. Sunday’s only comfort is writing stories, although what she writes has a terrible tendency to come true.

When Sunday meets an enchanted frog who asks about her stories, the two become friends. Soon that friendship deepens into something magical. One night Sunday kisses her frog goodbye and leaves, not realizing that her love has transformed him back into Rumbold, the crown prince of Arilland—and a man Sunday’s family despises.

The prince returns to his castle, intent on making Sunday fall in love with him as the man he is, not the frog he was. But Sunday is not so easy to woo. How can she feel such a strange, strong attraction for this prince she barely knows? And what twisted secrets lie hidden in his past - and hers?

***

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

My Summary: Named (like her sisters) for a day of the week, Sunday knows what's always been expected of her - to be, like the poem says, "bonny and blithe and good and gay". Her only solace is writing - something she has to be careful with due to the uncanny way her stories tend to come true.

When Sunday meets a frog in the forest, they become fast friends. Finally, with someone to tell her stories to, Sunday spins tales about just about everything. But when her friendship with the frog deepens and she gives him the kiss he requested, her frog disappears.

Soon a mysterious prince is trying to make her fall in love with him, and though she knows he is despised by her family, Sunday can't help but feel a deep connection to the man....

My Thoughts: First off, can we all take a moment to gaze at that beautiful cover? Wow. Not gonna lie, it was probably the first thing that pulled me in. But the author kept me hooked, spinning a lovely retelling of one of the worlds most well-know fairy tales. I really enjoyed  reading about Sunday's world - I don't think I've ever read anything remotely similar. Love the references to the other fairy tales!

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys fairy tale retellings and romance.

The Girl in the Steel Corset

Author: Kady Cross
Pages: 473
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads)In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one... except the "thing" inside her.

When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch.

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her and says she's special, says she's one of them . The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets, against the wises of his band of misfits. And Finley thinks she might finally be a part of something, finally fit in-until a criminal mastermind known as Machinist threatens to tear the group apart...
***

My Summary: Finley Jayne has been fired from three jobs in as many months, all in light of strange events that seem to follow her wherever she goes. But it isn't her fault - whatever 'thing' is inside Finley takes control whenever she's in trouble, destroying any threat it sees in its way. 

After fleeing the home of her employer after being assaulted, Finley runs into - literally - Griffin King, who senses immediately that there is something strange about her. Unconscious, she's taken back to Griffin's house, where others like her - people with extraordinary gifts - live and train. Before long Finley is assisting the team in trying to locate a mysterious man called The Machinist - someone who is responsible for the death of her father and both of Griffin's parents. But can they get anything done when their  little band of misfits is torn - especially when the biggest threat may come from within?

My Thoughts: Oh, how I love a well-written Victorian mystery! Add to that the element of the paranormal, steam-punk, and a hint of romance, and you've got the perfect book for me. A friend recommended this series to me and I was a little hesitant, but after reading only the first few lines I knew I had to read the whole thing. I'm proud to say I finished this whole book within the span of eight hours - believe me when I say I could not put it down.

I adored the characters. All of them. I'd try to pick a favourite but I honestly can't. Each one is so well-developed, and they all mesh so well together that I know the story would not be what it was if even one of them was missing. The little hints of romance between the main two couples - and the potential love triangles - were really well done and didn't take away from the main premise of the story. The pacing of the novel was perfect, and the end... well, let's just say I'm running out to the bookstore tonight to pick up book 2.

Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, romance, mysteries, and steampunk. Fans of Cassandra Clare's Infernal Devices series will love it!

7/25/12

Simple Summer Giveaway!

And the winner is.... just kidding! Because not a lot of people entered, I've decided to extend the deadline for my little giveaway until August 7th! That means you guys have a few more weeks to enter if you haven't already (only a few seconds and you're entered for a chance to win the book of your choice from the book depository). Click the link below to lead you to the contest entry form!

7/24/12

Waking Storms

Author: Sarah Porter
Pages: 400

Publisher: Harcourt
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads)After parting ways with her troubled mermaid tribe, Luce just wants to live peacefully on her own. But her tranquility doesn’t last long: she receives news that the tribe is on the verge of collapse and desperately needs her leadership. The tribe’s cruel queen wants Luce dead. Dorian, the boy Luce broke mermaid law to save, is determined to make her pay for her part in the murder of his family. And while the mermaids cling to the idea that humans never suspect their existence, there are suddenly ominous signs to the contrary. But when Luce and Dorian meet, they start to wonder if love can overpower the hatred they know they should feel for each other. Can Luce fulfill her rightful role as queen of the mermaids without sacrificing her forbidden romance with Dorian?

***

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

My Summary: After leaving the mermaid group - whose only pleasure was found in killing innocent people - Luce is on her own. After attempting to separate herself from their actions and live her own life, Luce finds herself being pulled back. 

Life can only get worse for Luce as she struggles to keep her feelings for Dorian from making her do something drastic. But that's the worst of her problems: the queen wants her dead, and it seems as if the secret of the mermaids isn't quite as secret as everyone believed...

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed Lost Voices (the first installment of the series), but Waking Storms surpassed all of my expectations. Porter does an amazing job of re-introducing the reader to the story of Luce and the mermaids, as well as introducing the idea of a little romance.

Luce grows a lot over the course of the novel, turning into a very likable heroine. I can't say Dorian was my favourite character, but I liked the way he was written - he had his faults, but the reader understands where he's coming from. Nausicca was another great character - hope to see more of her in the next book!

Porter's descriptions of the mermaid songs were amazing as well - it made me wish such a thing actually existed! And the whole thing with the FBI... I can't wait to find out what they know (hopefully in the next book).

Final Thoughts: I'm definitely pre-ordering the next installment - can't wait to get my hands on it and find out what happens next! I recommend this to anyone who likes paranormal YA, romance, and of course mermaids.

7/19/12

Follow Friday!

Welcome to Follow Friday!

This week's question:

Someone gives you a gift card for two books of your choice. Which books will you buy?

Well, I know I'd definitely buy Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong (planning on ordering soon anyway). I'd probably also buy Wreck this Journal because I've had my eyes on it for a while but I always end up buying something else. I have a copy of Finish this Book by the same author and I'm having a lot of fun going through all the tasks.

What about you guys?

Note: I always follow back if you leave me a comment! I just don't leave a comment back (usually). Scout's honour!

7/14/12

Junk-Box Jewelry

Author: Sarah Drew
Pages: 112
Publisher: Zest Books
Format: Paperback (ARC)


Summary (from Goodreads)This beautifully illustrated guide shows teens how to create eye-catching jewelry out of found or recycled objects—at very little cost. Some fun projects include making pendants out of pebbles; sewing a stylish cuff using scraps of fabric; and fashioning a funky charm bracelet out of extra screws, washers, and other toolbox trinkets. The easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions are suitable for both beginner- and intermediate-level crafters. This book also provides bonus tips on the tools you need to get started, where to find materials, and how to make money from your jewelry.

***

I've always been a crafty person, so when I saw this book I knew it'd be one I'd enjoy. I'm always looking for new craft ideas, and this book was full of some really creative ones! There are a few things I know I'll be making right away - hello, Juliet tiara! - and some I'm planning on making later on. A lot of these projects only require minimal amounts of material and time, which makes them great for teens such as myself.

If you're a crafter like me or just looking for something fun and easy to start with, I definitely recommend you check out Junk-Box Jewelry

Uncommon Criminals

Author: Ally Carter
Pages: 298
Publisher: Hyperion 
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads)Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life life. Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners. 

There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long, and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous and that is simply… the emerald is cursed.

Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all she has her best friend—the gorgeous Hale—and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses, realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.

Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules.

***

My Summary
: Kat Bishop has been gone for a while. Six months after she and her crew pulled off the biggest heist of the century - robbing the Henley - she's off the grid, performing robin-hood type jobs and righting wrongs made by other thieves.
Kat has no inclination to return to the family business - until a mysterious woman approaches her, claiming something was taken from her family years ago, and she needs Kat's help to get it back: the Cleopatra Emerald. Now Kat must reunite with her team and pull off the one heist even her Uncle Eddie -the world's greatest thief - never managed to pull off. But could it be that Kat is in over her head this time?

My Thoughts: It's been over a year since I read Heist Society - the first book in this amazing series - but the moment I settled it to read Uncommon Criminals, it was as if no time had passed at all. Carter does such a great job re-introducing you to the characters and Kat's world that you never miss a beat. 

The plot was so intricate and yet so easy to follow - it kept me hooked from start to finish. I love the atmosphere that Carter creates within these books, and the chemistry between Kat and Hale is enough to satisfy any romance junkie like myself.  

Final Thoughts: I recommend this series to anyone who enjoys romance, adventure and action novels and is looking for something new and different to read - especially if you enjoyed Holly Black's Curse Workers series.

7/12/12

Follow Friday!

Welcome to Follow Friday! This week's question: 


What drove you to start blogging in the first place?

Funny story actually! I made a blog in early 2009 but I never really got into it - I let it sit for a while without ever really doing anything with it. Then one day I was scrolling through Goodreads and I saw someone's review of a book that wasn't out yet. I read a couple reviews and got really excited about the book - and the reviewer mentioned that she got the book from netgalley. I had never heard of it but I wanted to read the book, so I headed over to the website, made an account, and sent a request.



My request was accepted and I sped through the book. It was only after I finished reading that I realized what the purpose of netgalley was...



Feeling more than a little bit guilty, I wrote a review (my first ever!) and posted it on Goodreads. Then I remembered: I had a perfectly good blog, so why not post my review there? I liked that I got free books from netgalley, so why not keep it up?

Two years and more than 700 followers later, I'm glad I didn't stop after one review. 


How about you guys?

Try Not to Breathe

Author: Jennifer Hubbard
Pages: 272
Publisher: Viking
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Summary (from Goodreads)Ryan spends most of his time alone at the local waterfall because it’s the only thing that makes him feel alive. He’s sixteen, post-suicidal, and trying to figure out what to do with himself after a stint in a mental hospital. Then Nicki barges into his world, brimming with life and energy, and asking questions about Ryan’s depression that no one else has ever been brave enough—or cared enough—to ask. Ryan isn’t sure why he trusts Nicki with his darkest secrets, but that trust turns out to be the catalyst that he desperately needs to start living again. 

***

My Summary: Ever since his failed suicide attempt and a stint at a psychiatric hospital, Ryan's been spending most of his time at the waterfall near his house. He can't seem to move forward - to keep himself from falling back into his old habits.

Until he meets Nicki. She talks to him like she's known him for years, asking questions that nobody else dares to. And when she asks him to help her uncover the truth about the secrets in her past, Ryan realizes just how big a job that may be.


My Thoughts: I've always been a fan of contemporary YA, and it's novels like this one that restore my faith in the genre.
Try Not to Breathe was an emotional, realistic novel about the repercussions of a suicide attempt and life after what was supposed to be 'the end'. I cherished every minute of it, and I loved getting to know Ryan and Nicki. The supporting characters were very well-written, and I liked the way the romance was done - it didn't seem forced, and it happened at (what I thought) was a really good time. 

I also really liked the realism of the entire thing. Ryan and Nicki were not perfect, ideal people - far from it - and they were extremely easy to relate to. My heart ached for the guy as he struggled to deal with everything on his plate.


Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys contemporary YA and a little bit of romance. 

7/11/12

One Night That Changes Everything

Author: Lauren Barnholdt
Pages: 242
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Summary (from Goodreads)Eliza is in a full-blown panic. Her notebook has been stolen—the one that lists everything she wants but is afraid to go after. And the absolute worst person in the world has it: her ex-boyfriend, Cooper.

Like it’s not enough Cooper was lying to Eliza for their entire relationship, now he and his friends are blackmailing her. They’re giving her just one night to complete the most humiliating tasks on her list or they’ll post her secrets online—including the ones that aren’t just about her.

Eliza’s sure of only one thing: she isn’t going down without a fight. Cooper may have what’s left of her dignity, but she’s not the only one with something to hide …

***

My Summary: Ever since her father's failed job transfer, Eliza's kept a notebook detailing everything she wished she had the guts to do. Kissing her crush, sneaking into a club and dancing with a guy, doing karaoke at a coffee shop... it goes on and on. 

When her notebook is stolen, and the culprit is one of the members of a shady all-guys club at her high school, Eliza makes a deal: perform whatever tasks the boys choose from her notebook and she can have it back at the end of the night. If she refuses, they'll post it on the internet and destroy her life.

Now with the help of her best friends and her ex-boyfriend, Eliza must perform her given tasks and get her notebook back; little does she know that one night can change everything.

My Thoughts
: I've been a big fan of Lauren for a while now, but I never got around to reading One Night until a few days ago (the curse of the book hoarder - I buy a stack of books every time I visit the bookstore and end up not reading half of them for months). 


Once I picked it up, though, I couldn't put it down. Barnholdt writes such quirky, likable characters that I can't stop reading until I find out how it all plays out for them in the end. I love how realistic her characters always are - it makes the story so much more believable.

The plot was really unique. I really liked the idea of making Eliza face her fears (even if the jerks were trying to make her embarrass herself). There were some hilarious moments as well as some really touching ones, and I can't wait to get my hands on the prequel.

All in all, an all-around great read!


Final Thoughts
: I definitely recommend this novel if you're a fan of Lauren Barnholdt, and if you enjoy contemporary lit with a hint of romance. It was a fun summer read so don't wait too long to check it out!

7/9/12

The Blessed

Author: Tonya Hurley
Pages: 400
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: Paperback (ARC)
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Summary (from Goodreads)From the author of the "New York Times" bestselling ghostgirl series, the start to a captivating and haunting teen trilogy about three girls who become entangled with an enigmatic boy--a boy who believes he is a saint.What if martyrs and saints lived among us? And what if you were told you were one of them?
Meet Agnes, Cecilia, and Lucy. Three lost girls, each searching for something. But what they find is Beyond Belief.

***

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

My Summary: Agnes, Lucy, and Cecilia are three girls struggling to come to terms with all life has dealt them.  All seems hopeless... until the girls each find a bracelet, linking them to a boy who claims he is a living saint. As the three become more and more involved with this strange young man, they begin to question all that they know about saints, martyrs, and their faith. And as one of them begins to fall in love with him, the girls will discover just how entangled their fates have become.

My Thoughts: To put it simply, this book blew my mind. It was like nothing I've ever read before, and I'm not ashamed to admit I stayed up half the night reading. There's an element of suspense in the novel that keeps you hooked, and the author poses some questions that stay with you long after you've finished reading.

The novel itself is rich in spirituality and religious pretenses, but it never feels preachy - it's simply part of what makes the story so unique. I really loved the way the author developed the characters of Lucy, Cecilia, and Agnes, as well as the way the romance was written (I'm not going to give away who it's between, so I'll leave it at that).

Final Thoughts
: I definitely recommend you check out The Blessed if you're looking for something unique and refreshing - especially if you're a fan of paranormal romance and YA novels. I can't wait for the next installment!

7/7/12

Spell Bound

Author: Kelley Armstrong
Pages: 352
Publisher:
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars



Summary (from Goodreads)Kelley Armstrong returns with an exciting new follow-up to her national bestselling book Waking the Witch.

Savannah Levine is in terrible danger, and for once she's powerless to help herself. At the conclusion of Waking the Witch, Savannah swore that she would give up her powers if it would help a young girl. Little did she know that someone would take her up on that promise.

And now, witch-hunting assassins, necromancers, half-demons and rogue witches all seem to be after her. The threat is not just for Savannah; every member of the Otherworld might be at risk. While most of her fellow supernaturals are circling the wagons at a gathering of the council in Miami, Savannah is caught on the road, isolated from those who can protect her and unable to use her vast spell-casting talent, the thing she counts on most. In a story that will change the shape of the Otherworld forever, Spell Bound gathers Elena, Clay, Paige, Lucas, Jaime, Hope and others, who soon learn that the greatest threat to supernaturals just may come from within.

***
My Summary: Only hours after solving a huge case, Savannah realizes there is something very, very wrong with her - her powers have disappeared. And to make matters worse, she's almost certain she traded them so that a little girl could get her grandmother back. But no amount of self-sacrifice is going to help her when there's a crazed witch-hunter on her tail, trying to kill her every chance she can get. 

Even after ditching the hunter, Savannah can't seem to find a break; what begins with a visit to an old friend lands her smack dab in the middle of something huge - something that endangers the lives of every one of her friends and the entire future of the supernatural community.

My Thoughts: If you've ever read any of my other reviews of Kelley's books, you know she's probably my all-time-favourite paranormal author. I have read and adored every single one of her books and novellas, and Spell Bound was no exception! Savannah is an extremely likable character, and her narration was humourous and honest. The tension between her and Adam was enough to keep me on edge for the whole book - at one point I actually yelled "JUST RIP EACH OTHERS CLOTHES OFF ALREADY DAMMIT!" ... Don't judge. 

The plot was amazing, pulling you in and not letting go until the final page. And all the characters we know and love appear in this one! I probably would have loved it for that reason alone, and I'm not even going to deny it. I'm so glad I forced myself to wait this long to read Spell Bound, because Kelley's last novel Thirteen comes out in a few days and waiting would have been torture after this ending. I cannot wait until the release of the next book! 

Also (for any fans of Kelley's Darkest Powers series): the little mentions of some of the characters in that series made me all giddy and happy and I'm really hoping that the characters from DP are mentioned again or maybe even glimpsed or maybe we might get some info about the characters? That would be so awesome and I'm rambling and I've used the word 'and' way too many times in this sentence so I'm just going to stop now. 

Final Thoughts: If you've never checked out anything by Kelley Armstrong, I highly recommend you do because then we can still be friends. 

Kidding. Kind of.

7/6/12

Follow Friday!

I totally forgot it was Friday... Anyways, on with the show!


This week's question:

Ever pick up a book from a genre you usually don’t like and LOVE it? Tell us about it and why you picked it up in the first place.


Ok, I know I'm going to be judged for this, but I'll say it anyway...

The first book I picked up from another genre was The Host. And like everybody else on the planet, I only picked it up because it was written by Stephenie Meyer. There, I said it. Feel free to judge. 

But the thing was, I read it... and loved it. I'd never read anything even remotely similar, and it was like this huge surprise - finding out that there were these whole other genres with whole other books that were kick-ass and entertaining and awesome. From that time on, I wouldn't shy away from books people recommended from other genres (which probably explains why my TBR pile is taller than I am at this point). How about you guys?

7/5/12

Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls

Author: Mary Downing Hahn
Pages: 330
Publisher: Clarion Books
Format: Hardcover (ARC)
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads)Based on an actual crime in 1955, this YA novel is at once a mystery and a coming-of-age story. The brutal murder of two teenage girls on the last day of Nora Cunningham's junior year in high school throws Nora into turmoil. Her certainties, friendships, religion, her prudence, her resolve to find a boyfriend taller than she is - are shaken or cast off altogether. 

Most people in Elmgrove, Maryland, share the comforting conviction that Buddy Novak, who had every reason to want his ex-girlfriend dead, is responsible for the killings. Nora agrees at first, then begins to doubt Buddy's guilt, and finally comes to believe him innocent - the lone dissenting voice in Elmgrove.

Told from several different perspectives, including that of the murderer, Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls is a suspenseful page-turner with a powerful human drama at its core.

***

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

My Summary: Life in Elmgrove is quiet and uneventful. Nora knows what to expect from each day - there are never  any surprises. Elmgrove is a wholesome town filled with good people.

But nobody expected Mister Death. He lay in wait, preparing for the day when he would strike back at the girl who tormented him... and when the girls' bodies are uncovered in the park only hours after leaving for school, the town of Elmgrove is thrown into chaos. 

The entire town is sure the killer is Buddy - the heartbroken ex of one of the dead girls. But only Nora believes Buddy isn't the killer, and Mr. Death is still on the loose....

My Thoughts: Before Mister Death's, I had never read anything by Mary Downing Hahn - I plan on remedying this situation very soon. Hahn's writing pulled me in from the first page, and the way she portrayed life in Elmgrove in the mid-fifties kept me hooked. I easy identified with Nora - someone who was a little awkward and counted on her best friend, all the while struggling with her beliefs. The coming-of-age element of this novel was very well-written and really shows how difficult it was to grow up back in the day. The complexity of the main character's emotions made her seem all the more realistic and likable, and I'm sure anyone else who reads this novel will agree.

I loved the mystery element of the book. The way that Hahn portrays the killer (and writes from his point of view! I loved those parts!) is chilling to say the least. I was reminded of a question my law teacher once asked:  What does a killer look like to you?

The pacing was very well done - it never felt too rushed or too slow. Mrs. Hahn also did a great job developing the atmosphere of the town of Elmgrove - the fear of the citizens was tangible to the reader, which really added an extra layer to the book.

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a realistic YA mystery, contemporary literature, and historical fiction as well as coming of age novels. (And just look at that beautiful cover!).

7/4/12

Horseradish

Author: Lemony Snicket
Pages: 168
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: Hardcover


Summary (from Goodreads)Lemony Snicket's work is filled with bitter truths, like: 'It is always cruel to laugh at people, of course, although sometimes if they are wearing an ugly hat it is hard to control yourself.' Or: 'It is very easy to say that the important thing is to try your best, but if you are in real trouble the most important thing is not trying your best, but getting to safety.'
For all of life's ups and downs, its celebrations and its sorrows, here is a book to commemorate it all - especially for those not fully soothed by chicken soup. Witty and irreverent, Horseradish is a book with universal appeal, a delightful vehicle to introduce Snicket's uproariously unhappy observations to a crowd not yet familiar with the Baudelaires' misadventures.
***
My Thoughts: As a huge fan of Snicket and all his books (A Series of Unfortunate Events are among my all-time favourites) I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed them as well. This novel is basically a compilation of hilarious quotes from Snicket's series, separated into categories like Affairs of the Heart and Family. Having read his series already, I loved getting to re-read these little snippets of wisdom, and I think anyone else who enjoyed ASOUE will as well.

Suite Scarlett

Author: Maureen Johnson
Pages: 353
Publisher: Scholastic
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads)
Scarlett Martin has grown up in a most unusual way. Her family owns the Hopewell, a small hotel in the heart of New York City, and Scarlett lives there with her four siblings - Spencer, Lola, and Marlene.

When each of the Martins turns fifteen, they are expected to take over the care of a suite in the once elegant, now shabby Art Deco hotel. For Scarlett's fifteenth birthday, she gets both a room called the Empire Suite, and a permanent guest called Mrs. Amberson.



My Summary
: Living in New York her entire life, Scarlett thought she was used to (or at least prepared for) the oddities life could thrown her way. But on the morning of her fifteenth birthday, she gets a shock: not only is she inheriting a suite to care for in the hotel, but if her family can't get more guests into the hotel, they'll be forced to sell...

The arrival of the mysterious Mrs. Amberson changes things. Because she's Scarlett's guest, it falls to Scarlett to take care of anything Mrs. Amberson may need. She becomes her assistant - kick-starting one of the most eventful summers of her entire life.

My Thoughts: Oh Maureen Johnson, why must you write such awesome books? I swear there is nothing of yours I won't read.

Suite Scarlett was, in a word, hilarious. And entertaining. But that's two words, so.... Anyway. I loved the characters - Scarlett, Spencer, and Mrs. Amberson were great, and even the supporting characters were well-developed and realistic. Ms. Johnson definitely knows how to make you feel like you're right there with the characters - all the little descriptions of New York's quirks made me love this book even more. As usual, the pacing was perfect, and the relationships developed incredibly realistically.

Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend you check out Suite Scarlett and all of Maureen Johnson's other novels - especially if you're a fan of YA, contemporary lit, and romance. 

This is Not a Test

Author: Courtney Summers
Pages: 336
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Summary (from Goodreads)It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self.

To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, 
her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live.

But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. 

When everything is gone, what do 
you hold on to?


***

My Summary
: Nobody saw it coming - the end of the world. But the dead appeared, and Sloane's world was thrown into chaos. After escaping a crumbling community center and joining forces with a few of her fellow classmates, Sloane realizes that the fight for survival doesn't always happen between you and the enemy - sometimes the biggest threats to your life come from people who are on your side.

My Thoughts
: Along with every other fan of Courtney Summers, I have been eagerly awaiting this book for quite a while. Miss Summers definitely has a way with words - I was sucked in by the first few pages, and I couldn't put it down until I was done a few hours later. This book was so different from any other zombie book I've ever read - the author really managed to capture not only the emotional side of each character, but Sloane's struggle to deal with her past as well. I really found myself getting attached to the characters, and the atmosphere of the entire novel was perfect.

Final Thoughts
: I definitely recommend you get yourself a copy of This is Not a Test as soon as possible! It's a great read, and just the thing if you're looking for something new and refreshing.

7/2/12

Let Love Find You

Author: Johanna Lindsey
Pages: 368
Publisher: Gallery Books
Format: Paperback (ARC)
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads)Lady Amanda Locke has struck out miserably in her two Seasons on the marriage mart. Beautiful, titled, and charming – even if she does talk a bit too much, Amanda doesn’t understand why love eludes her. Even her father, the Duke of Norford, is so perplexed he is prepared to take drastic measures to ensure his daughter’s happiness. Now, as Amanda begins her third Season, she gets a little help from Cupid, a darkly handsome horse breeder whose knowledge of basic animal attraction has guided him in arranging more than a few successful matches between the young ladies and gentlemen of the ton. Hired by Amanda’s family, Devin Baldwin produces results for Amanda and soon she is happy to be courted by one of his clients, the dashing Viscount Altone. In order to secure Amanda’s match to a nobleman obsessed with horse racing, Devin must teach Amanda how to overcome her fear of horses. But as Devin shows her the joys of riding, hunting, and racing, will their own hearts run astray as Amanda finds herself falling in love with Cupid himself?

***

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

My Summary: Amanda Locke is looking for love - but after two Seasons of being on the market, she still hasn't managed to fall in love (or snag a husband!). When she meets Devin Baldwin, she dislikes him immediately. Unfortunately for her, he is soon hired by her parents to help her find a match.

He does his job well, but before Amanda can secure her position in the life of Viscount Altone, she must get over her fear of horse - and that's where Devin comes in. As a horse breeder, he'll help Amanda get over her fear of horses and win her man... but can she resist falling in love with him in the process?

My Thoughts: Another awesome romance read from Johanna Lindsey! Amanda and Devin were really likable, and the plot was paced perfectly. I loved the inclusion of characters from her other books in this one - it really helped to tie the series together well but wasn't a necessity for understanding what was going on in the novel. This book was very easy to read, and you can really feel the chemistry between Amanda and Devin - it developed very realistically, which made me like it a lot more; don't you hate insta-love? I know I do, so this was a refreshing change.  

Final Thoughts: I recommend this to anyone who is a fan of romance novels and anything to do with historical fiction. It's a great summer read, so check it out!

7/1/12

Flowers in the Attic

Author: V. C. Andrews
Pages: 411

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Summary (from Goodreads)
: Such wonderful children. Such a beautiful mother. Such a lovely house. Such endless terror!

It wasn't that she didn't love her children. She did. But there was a fortune at stake--a fortune that would assure their later happiness if she could keep the children a secret from her dying father.


So she and her mother hid her darlings away in an unused attic.


Just for a little while.


But the brutal days swelled into agonizing years. Now Cathy, Chris, and the twins wait in their cramped and helpless world, stirred by adult dreams, adult desires, served a meager sustenance by an angry, superstitious grandmother who knows that the Devil works in dark and devious ways. Sometimes he sends children to do his work--children who--one by one--must be destroyed....


***

My Summary: The Dollangangers always seemed like the perfect, ideal family - an extremely handsome father, a strikingly beautiful mother, and four perfect, doll-like children. But all that changes the day that Christopher Dollanganger gets into a car crash, leaving his children fatherless and his wife a widow at the age of 33.

With nowhere to go, the family is forced to beg the mercy of their mother's parents - strict, heartless people -  and wait for the day when their lives will change for the better. Locked in the attic by their cold-hearted grandmother, the four beautiful children grow up within the confines of the dusty old room in which their nightmares become reality.

My Thoughts: First off, I'd like to say a big thank-you to everyone who recommended this novel to me! I definitely wouldn't have found it myself, and it was a really amazing read.

This is not one of those books you read to feel happy and warm and fuzzy inside. There are things in this book that are a little disturbing, and the sexual content was definitely not for the faint-hearted. With that being said: this was an amazing read. I kid you not. I stayed up all night reading because I could not put it down without knowing what happened to Cathy, Chris, Cory, and Carrie. It was actually a little scary how strong my feelings for this book was - I could actually feel myself getting angry with certain characters and frustrated with others. 

The writing was lovely - V. C. Andrews definitely has a way with imagery. I could picture every corner of the attic perfectly. The story progressed very naturally, and although there are a few phrases that date the novel (it was written quite a while ago) they didn't take anything away from the story. 

Final Thoughts: I recommend this book to people who enjoy grittier, edgier contemporary literature (although I do recommend keeping it away from the less mature readers). If you're looking for a deal, I suggest checking out a used bookstore - I guarantee you'll find at least one copy in every store!