Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (July 27)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This weekly meme shares the upcoming books that I'm most excited about.

Bewitching by Alex Flinn
Kendra Hilferty, the witch who curses Kyle Kingsbury in Beastly, tells about her immortal existence—how she discovered she was a witch and the various ways she has used her powers to help people throughout the centuries. (Unfortunately her attempts have often backfired.) As it turns out, Kendra has actually had a hand in "Hansel and Gretel," "The Princess and the Pea," and "The Little Mermaid"—but these are not the fairy tales you think you know! Kendra’s reminiscences are wrapped around a real-time version of "Cinderella," except the “ugly” stepsister is the good guy. With dark twists, hilarious turns, and unexpected endings, Bewitching is a contemporary read for fairy-tale lovers, fantasy fans, and anyone looking for more Alex Flinn.

Published by HarperTeen
Release Date: February 14, 2012

Friday, July 22, 2011

Book Review: Paradise Rules by Jimmy Gleacher and Contest


It’s only a week into summer break and already seventeen-year-old Gates has . . .
a) Hustled millionaires on the golf course
b) Tried to stop his mother from having  a(nother) nervous breakdown
c) Promised to lose his virginity with his girlfriend, Mel . . . which would be great if he hadn’t already lost it to his forty-year-old godmother
d) Almost killed a man
Yeah, Gates has a lot of secrets, but he’s determined to keep his heart true. When he’s not swinging golf clubs like a pro, he reads pulp fiction to old folks at the retirement home. And despite his occasional slip-ups—drinking before noon and sneaking glimpses through his sexy godmother’s open negligees—Gates only has eyes for Mel. But she knows he’s hiding something, and she’s beginning to lose her patience.
Just as Gates is about to spill his shameful secrets, he gets tangled up in a golf club scandal that jeopardizes his dreams of a normal life. He’s never been a fighter, but this time he finally pushes back at the world—which could have been a breakthrough but turns into an epic fail. Probably because Gates fights back dirty. Now his life is on the verge of ruin, and he’s got no one to turn to for help.
Or so he thinks. Because what Gates is about to discover might hit him with the most amazing shock of his life. (From Goodreads)

Gates has one crazy chaotic life. He's got a mother who hasn't been present in his life since her "breakdown", and a godmother who is all sorts of vile. His girlfriend is worried that he doesn't find her beautiful, and the majority of his income comes from ripping people off during golf games. If that doesn't intrigue you I'm not sure what will.

I'm fairly certain that in Alicia I found my most hated character of 2011. Even as I'm writing this review I'm still thinking about how horrible she is! She's a well-developed character, but due to her lack of redeeming qualities, I have a feeling that every single person who reads this book will despise her. It's pretty clear in the synopsis of the book how she takes advantage of people. In the book her background as a psychologist has given her all the ammo that she needs to manipulate others to do as she pleases. Her impact on Gates is extremely negative, and will follow him for the rest of his life. Although, in a way it's because of all the emotional turmoil caused by her that Gates is able to grow as a character. He sees the person that he is around Alicia, and makes a conscious decision to move forward. 

There is a fair amount of swearing and discussions around/scenes involving sex, and since some readers tend to avoid that I did want to mention it in this review. Gleacher gave us a well-written YA story from the male perspective that was both funny and heartbreaking. He never shied away from the tough subjects, and I really appreciated the way the story unfolded because of that. The male point of view is a rarity in YA fiction, and I'm hoping to see more of it from Gleacher.

Paradise Rules
By Jimmy Gleacher
Published by Simon & Schuster
320 Pages
Received for Review
Rating: B

The publisher has been kind enough to offer two copies to give away (US only). So enter below by 7/30 at 11:59 EST to win.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (July 20)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This weekly meme shares the upcoming books that I'm most excited about.

*I'm not sure this is the final cover. Since it hasn't been added the author's site, consider it temporary. 

A Million Suns (Across the Universe 2) by Beth Revis

It’s been three months since Elder unplugged Amy, tearing her from her family and the life she always knew. Now, Eldest is dead and Orion awaits judgment for his murder as a frozen. Elder is finally free to enact his vision for the ship’s population—no more Phydus, no more lies.
But when Elder learns harrowing news about the ship, he and Amy are sent on a race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a puzzle that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier, all the while dealing with the romance that’s growing between them and the chaos that threatens to tear them apart.
Beth Revis wows us again with a brilliantly crafted mystery filled with action, suspense, romance, and deep philosophical questions. And this time it all boils down to one mind-bending conclusion: They have to get off this ship.

Published by Razorbill
Release Date: January 10, 2012

Monday, July 18, 2011

Book Review: Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter

Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short 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 . . . 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 and realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time. (From Goodreads)

Ally Carter clearly has a knack for writing book series. Not only does she continue to come up with interesting plots, but she delves deeper into each character as the books go on. This was really true of Kat, who has developed into a big of a heist-junkie since we last saw her. She doesn't think she needs any help to continue her vigilante thieving, and it's clearly going to get her in trouble. 
Hale is (still) a bit of a dreamboat. He clearly cares for Kat, and steps in when she gets herself into trouble. What really makes him a great romantic lead is that when he does attempt to help Kat, it never feels like he's rescuing a damsel in distress. Plus, their romance is developing quite nicely, but the ultimate question still remains. What is his first name? 

Kat has gotten herself into a bit of trouble in 
Uncommon Criminals. She's enlisted to steal back the Cleopatra Emerald by a woman who claims that it was stolen from her parents who discovered it. Well, I don't want to give away the plot, but all is not as it seems. Once again Carter has written a story that keeps me interested from start to finish, and involves a seemingly impossible heist. 

According to Carter's blog, it's likely that there will be at least two more books in this series. I'm confident that she'll continue to explore each of the characters without the story ever feeling sequel-ish (read: unnecessary). So, here's hoping the third book is released soon! 

Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society 2)

By Ally Carter
Published by Hyperion
298 Pages
Received for review
Rating: B

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (July 13)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This weekly meme shares the upcoming books that I'm most excited about

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

Published by Dutton
Release Date: September 29, 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (July 12)

What is teaser tuesday?
It's a meme hosted by Should Be Reading and here are the rules:
Grab your current read...
Open to a random page
Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on the page
Don't include spoilers.

In honor of the final Harry Potter movie being released, here's a teaser from the book: 

"When he straightened up again, there were six Harry Potters gasping and panting in front of him. 
Fred and George turned to each other and said together, "Wow--we're identical!"

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Page 51, by J.K. Rowling

Friday, July 8, 2011

Book Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: the world's most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.
Instead, it turns out to be her last.

Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

I'm going to be pretty concise with this review, because I'm afraid I'll give something away to anyone who hasn't read it. Sam Kingston is a mean girl. She and her friends torment others, flirt with their teachers, and generally make poor life choices. This didn't make it easy to like or relate to her. Things don't go as planned one night after a party, and Sam ends up dead...well, almost dead. She repeats the final day of her life tweaking things, and going down very different paths. It's rough, but it gives her a chance to look at the kind of person she really is.  

Like Hate List, this was another book I've picked up this summer that was both hard to read, and excellently done. There was something really engrossing about the way that Oliver told the story. Even though I didn't like Sam I had to know what was going to happen to her. I was torn between wanting her to find a way to live, and having her die after making her peace. I think that Oliver could have easily crossed the line from believable to cheesy, but she didn't. Sam's choices felt true to her character, and her growth over the course of the book was amazing. I'm not saying that my opinion of her completely changed by the last chapter, but I was able to appreciate the choices that she made. They really made the ending of the book all the more moving. 

Before I Fall
By Lauren Oliver
Published by HarperCollins
470 Pages
Rating: A

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (July 6)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This weekly meme shares the upcoming books that I'm most excited about.

Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep

My name is Gwen Frost, and I go to Mythos Academy — a school of myths, magic and warrior whiz kids, where even the lowliest geek knows how to chop off somebody's head with a sword and Logan Quinn, the hottest Spartan guy in school, also happens to be the deadliest.
But lately, things have been weird, even for Mythos. First, mean girl Jasmine Ashton was murdered in the Library of Antiquities. Then, someone stole the Bowl of Tears, a magical artifact that can be used to bring about the second Chaos War. You know, death, destruction and lots of other bad, bad things. Freaky stuff like this goes on all the time at Mythos, but I'm determined to find out who killed Jasmine and why—especially since I should have been the one who died. . .

Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation

Release Date: July 26, 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (July 5)

What is teaser tuesday?
It's a meme hosted by Should Be Reading and here are the rules:
Grab your current read...
Open to a random page
Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on the page
Don't include spoilers.

"But we weren't going anywhere. The headlights didn't show."

-Trapped, Page 3, by Michael Northrop

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Book Battle 2011: Round 2 Pick

Well, the time has come to announce the winner of the bracket that Melissa and I shared (Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress vs Out of My Mind). I'm just going to briefly share what I thought about both, and let you know the winner. If you're interested in checking out Melissa's post, you can find it here!

There was really no contest about which book was the winner, we both agreed that Out of My Mind beat out Prom Dress. The story was moving, the characters were believable, and most importantly I think that there's something in it that everyone can relate to. The story and the characters  were so compelling that I found myself tearing up during a couple of scenes. So, a big two thumbs up from me!

Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress was the first book that we read, and it was cute. Unfortunately, most of the characters fell flat for me. When I wanted to see more about Nic's family, I got drama at school. Portions just played into the fluffy YA novel cliches, and that was what really disappointed me. When chatting with Melissa about this I brought up my thought that it may have been that there were too many different stories, Nic's family drama, two guys competing for her, a looming fight with her best friend, and the mean girls. I believe that Ferraro would have been able to develop the characters while simultaneously expanding on one or two plot points. 

As always, check out The Shady Glade for more information on the book battle!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Book Review: Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

Violet Willoughby doesn't believe in ghosts. But they believe in her. After spending years participating in her mother's elaborate ruse as a fraudulent medium, Violet is about as skeptical as they come in all matters supernatural. Now that she is being visited by a very persistent ghost, one who suffered a violent death, Violet can no longer ignore her unique ability. She must figure out what this ghost is trying to communicate, and quickly because the killer is still on the loose.

Afraid of ruining her chance to escape her mother's scheming through an advantageous marriage, Violet must keep her ability secret. The only person who can help her is Colin, a friend she's known since childhood, and whom she has grown to love. He understands the true Violet, but helping her on this path means they might never be together. Can Violet find a way to help this ghost without ruining her own chance at a future free of lies? (From Goodreads)

I haven't read Harvey's Drake Chronicles, but I jumped at the to read her upcoming mystery/romance about spiritualists and ghosts. Violet is an accessory to a con run by her mother. She helps fool the wealthy into believing that her mother is a spiritualist, able to speak to the loved ones of the upper class citizens in England. Together with her mother, and their servants Colin and Marjorie, they head off to the estate of Lord Jasper to hold seances. While there, Violet comes to the realization that she has the ability to see ghosts, the real ones. This leads to a murder mystery that had me on the edge of my seat, and guessing right up until the big reveal. Not only that, but there were a couple of scenes that creeped me out (I read them at night, bad choice).

I don't expect every historical fiction novel, YA or not, to have complete historical accuracy. Harvey didn't live in Victorian England, but it's clear that she did he research. If you check out her blog she even has some photographs posted showing the fashions mentioned within the book. I'm not a qualified historical facts nitpicker, but nothing seemed out of place. I always appreciate when an author mentions upfront that they spent their time going over information about the setting in which they've chosen to place their characters.

Although I loved it, I can definitely see how some readers will wish that Violet had been a bit more developed, and the romance seemed to come about rather quickly. I personally didn't feel this way, because the mystery kept me in such suspense. Violet was battling between hating the way her mother conned the upper class as a means to raise their family in society, and still feeling some loyalty to the (negligent) woman.

All in all, it was an enjoyable historical mystery. I'm really hoping that Harvey decides to write a follow-up book so that we can see more of the characters.

Haunting Violet
By Alyxandra Harvey
Published by Walker Children's Books
352 Pages
Received for Review
Rating: A

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