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.