Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

Wither ( The Chemical Garden Trilogy #1)
by Lauren Destefano

release date: March 22, 2011

description from goodreads:
Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant she trusts, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

My thoughts: Not much to explain here; the cover is AWESOME, the story sounds AWESOME. I want it, I need it, I can't wait to read it!!! What more can I say? :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Review: Torment

Torment by Lauren Kate

publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

release date: September 28, 2010

hardcover, 464 pages

sequel to Fallen (2009) (see my review here)

intended audience: Young adult


Warning! The following synopsis and review may contain spoilers for Fallen!
description from goodreads:
How many lives do you need to live before you find someone worth dying for? In the aftermath of what happened at Sword & Cross, Luce has been hidden away by her cursed angelic boyfriend, Daniel, in a new school filled with Nephilim, the offspring of fallen angels and humans. Daniel promises she will be safe here, protected from those who would kill her. At the school Luce discovers what the Shadows that have followed her all her life mean - and how to manipulate them to see into her other lives. Yet the more Luce learns about herself, the more she realizes that the past is her only key to unlocking her future...and that Daniel hasn't told her everything. What if his version of the past isn't actually the way things happened...what if Luce was really meant to be with someone else?

I loved this book. I was so excited to read it because I really enjoyed Fallen. And those gorgeous covers! This book had a lot to live up to and I was definitely not disappointed. I think I would even say that I liked this one better than the first!

As Luce and Daniel's story continues, she has been relocated to an exclusive school on the west coast called Shoreline. There are normal kids there, but there is also a very large population of Nephilim there and others who can protect Luce. This added a lot of interesting situations, because all of these descendants of angels have grown up hearing the "legendary" love story of Luce and Daniel and it puts Luce at an uncomfortable sort of celebrity status. She is not exactly sure why she is there and Daniel doesn't seem to be telling her anything. This causes a huge strain on their relationship as she just get frustrated and feels like she's being held captive and kept in the dark, and he gets frustrated that she doesn't let him protect her.

Luce kind of infuriated me in this one. Yes, I saw her side of it. She was left completely in the dark about what was going on and she tried to stand up for herself by leaving if she wanted to and try to take some power into her own hands, and that was commendable. On the other hand, I kept thinking, this angel who loves her and has been around for thousands of years is telling her to lay low for her own protection---why would she rebel against him like a petulant child? But maybe that's just the "motherly" way of thinking in me. They did a lot of fighting in this one, needless to say! But they also had a lot of very sweet intimate moments, too. Luce does a lot of looking into her own past once she learns how, and she begins to doubt her future with Daniel and remorse for the pain that their love has caused her countless families in her past lives.

There is so much going on in this one and it gets so exciting. You're constantly trying to guess who can be trusted and who will turn out to be on the side of evil! What I loved about this plot was that it completely blurred the line that separated the angels from the demons. The new characters are all great in this one, and I was so overjoyed that some of the awesome characters from the first book pop up in this one, too. Especially Arriane, who was a favorite of mine in the first, next to Penn---I almost wished Luce would mysteriously start being able to talk to ghosts so we could see more Penn!

All in all, a fantastic addition to this trilogy! There are still questions that need to be answered and it's going to be a long wait for the third book! It already sounds like it's going to be an exciting chase through 5000 years of Luce and Daniel's past!!

Visit the gorgeous website for this series here!
Visit Lauren Kate's website here!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Review: She Smells the Dead

She Smells the Dead by E.J. Stevens

publisher: Sacred Oaks Press

release date: September 9, 2010

paperback, 168 pages

intended audience: young adult

source: from au
thor for review


Description from goodreads:
It's the beginning of senior year and Yuki's psychic awareness of ghostly spirits is threatening to ruin her life. Her ability to sense spirits of the dead isn't glamorous like the ghost hunting on television.


The smell impressions are becoming stronger. Yuki is being visited in her dreams, and she suspects that her friend Calvin is involved in something strange. To make matters worse her crush on Garrett is going unrequited, Yuki's friend Emma is on a rampage against bee oppression, and annoying Calvin Miller mysteriously disappears.

Will Yuki be able to focus her powers in time to save the lost soul who is haunting her? Meanwhile, who will save Yuki from following the spirits into the light?

Review: This was a very quick fun read. I loved the quirkiness of this book. By first impression, meaning the goth girl gracing the cover and the spooky title, I thought I was going in for something dark and gruesome---because really, what sounds more gruesome than constantly smelling the dead. But I was so pleasantly surprised! The main character, Yuki is quirky and funny and pretty confident for someone who gets constant strange looks from her classmates and is rumored to be the school witch. I loved the little addition of the thoughts running through her head throughout the book.

This was a pretty complex story---lots of subplots going on here, all of them intriguing! Some I felt could have been fleshed out just a bit more, and the arc of the story shifted just a little so that a major plotline of the book could have been resolved by the end ( I have to assume there will be sequel since the story was leading up to a big event that didn't happen by the end of the book.) I did really enjoy how her power to smell the dead led her on a detective-style mystery! She doesn't actually smell the dead person (that would be gross!), but each ghost's scent is kind of a clue to who they were. One day she is bombarded by the awful smell of vinegar and that is the only clue she starts with on how to put this ghost to rest---the rest of the mystery solving is all up to her awesome Nancy Drew skills! Its also helps that her best friend is an expert reseacher---as well as a devout vegan whose mission in life is to make everyone else feel bad for eating meat and to free oppressed bees everywhere. She was a hoot---someone I would probably be terribly annoyed with in real life, but on paper she was funny and also a great supportive friend to Yuki, which I loved.

This was also a love story, and a very sweet one at that. You could tell from the beginning that Yuki, despite her alleged crush on a boy named Garrett, had some suppressed feeling for her longtime friend Calvin. It's cute the way they start out as an almost grade-school style crush where they are constantly teasing each other, and next thing your know they are kissing in his truck. I love how she constantly referred to him so formally as "Calvin Miller" in her head as she lectures him in her thoughts.

If there is in fact a sequel, I'll definitely be picking it up to find out what happens on Samhain!! In the meantime, I think I will actually miss being with these characters! I recommend this for a quick, fun read!

Visit the author's blog here!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

In My Mailbox {35}

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we all share what we got during the week!

Once again this week, I was super good and didn't purchase any books! (Not for lack of trying, but hubby derailed my plans to hit Half-Price Books today. Booo..) I did, however, get an awesome package from HarperCollins, and here's what goodies were hiding inside:

Pink by Lili Wilkinson
Illegal by Beth Restrepo
Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer
The Trust by Tom Dolby
See What I See by Gloria Whelan

Incredibly excited to get into all of these! Thank you so much, HarperTeen!!

What was in your mailbox this week? I wanna see! :)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Review: Girl, Stolen

Girl, Stolen by April Henry

publisher: Henry Holt & Company (Macmillan)

release date: September 28th, 2010

hardcover, 224 pages

intended audience: Young adult

source: Around the World Tours


description from Goodreads:
Sixteen year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of a car while her mom fills her prescription at the pharmacy. Before Cheyenne realizes what's happening, their car is being stolen--with her inside! Griffin hadn’t meant to kidnap Cheyenne, all he needed to do was steal a car for the others. But once Griffin's dad finds out that Cheyenne’s father is the president of a powerful corporation, everything changes—now there’s a reason to keep her. What Griffin doesn’t know is that Cheyenne is not only sick with pneumonia, she is blind. How will Cheyenne survive this nightmare, and if she does, at what price?

Review: This was such a fascinating read! It was thrilling and fast-paced, I literally gasped a few times! The story was told from alternating view points and sometimes this can be distracting, but here it really worked well. Both main characters were really well written. Cheyenne, who's blindness is fairly new (she wasn't born that way, she's been blind for three years) and I felt that was very authentically presented. From the author's notes and thank yous, you can see she really took the time to research this thoroughly and that definitely shows. It added depth to her character that she could still envision the world around her and had also developed the heightened senses that sometimes come with blindness. Cheyenne was very aware of her limitations, but pulled out all her other strengths to survive this ordeal.

I liked seeing the situation from Griffin's point of view as well. Yes, he steals the car and makes the bad choice to not let Cheyenne go immediately, but as soon as you get a glimpse at his reason for making these decisions, you can't help but be a little sympathetic to his situation. He is not at all what he seems to be at first, and once you get to know this character, you start to root for him to turn it around and do something heroic to make it right. I just wanted to see him get cut a little break.

Having such real and complex characters really added to the punch of this story---you really get wrapped up in the terror, the excitement, and the hope that everything turns out alright! Highly recommend this one!

Visit April Henry's website here!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hop & Follow Friday!!

It's Friday again and you know what that means!! It's time to hop around and make some new blog friends!! If it's your first visit to Stories & Sweeties, WELCOME!!! Please feel free to link in the comments so I can visit you, too! :)

First off, we have Follow Friday hosted by Parakjunkee's View! (click the logo to get there!)Here's her featured question of the week:
My question for you guys, what is your high fashion book? --- translation --- best book cover ever.

This is a tough one, but when someone mentions awesome book covers, these two are the first that come to mind right now for me. I just finished the second book, and I swear after I closed that last page, I just sat there staring at the gorgeous cover. Not to mention, Fallen was printed with that velvety soft coating they've been using on some book these day that i LOVE. Makes you want to keep the book with you all day and pet it like a lap dog. Here's hoping they print Torment in the same way.

Next up is the Book Blog Hop hosted by Crazy-for-Books! (click the logo to get there!)This week, she asks: When you write reviews, do you write them as you are reading or wait until you have read the entire book?

I take a few notes while reading sometimes, and if I find a particular quote that I want to mention in my review I scribble that down, but for the most part, I write the whole review after I finish. Sometimes I even wait a few days to let the book sink in fully and gather my thoughts and feelings about it.

Thanks for hopping by!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

Wake Unto Me
by Lisa Cach

releasing: March 31st, 3011 by Speak (Penguin)

description from goodreads:
A haunted castle, a handsome young man dead for four hundred years, one heck of a scary portrait of a witch, and a treasure hunt -- not to mention a princess for a roommate! -- all await 15 year old American girl Caitlyn Monahan when she earns a scholarship to a French boarding school.

There are secrets behind the stone walls of Chateau de la Fortune, buried for centuries along with the mystery of who killed Raphael, the charming ghost who visits Caitlyn at night. But as Caitlyn unearths the history of the castle, nothing scares her as badly as the secret she learns about herself, and the reason she was chosen to come to the Fortune School.

And nothing breaks her heart as badly as falling in love with a dead guy.

My thoughts: I've seen this cover around alot, but never bothered to read the synopsis. When I finally did (just today actually!) I thought "Woooow!" It sounds amazing!Creepy witches, charming ghosts, mysteries and a century old french castle...sounds right up my alley!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Review: Crave

Crave by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz

publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

release date: September 21, 2010

paperback, 256 pages

intended audience: Young adult

source: Book It Forward Tours


Shay has had a rare blood disorder since she was born. In fact, her mother married one of Shay’s doctors, Martin, who left his world-renowned leukemia research to try and figure out exactly what the disorder is and how to cure it. When she turns seventeen, Martin begins to give her new blood transfusions that make her feel the strongest she has ever felt. But she also has odd visions where she sees through the eyes of a vampire. At first, she thinks she must be imagining the visions, but when she begins to see Martin’s office in them, she knows she has to check it out. That’s when she finds Gabriel, a sexy, teenaged vampire, imprisoned in Martin’s office. The connection she has built with Gabriel compels her to set him free. But when he kidnaps her in an attempt at revenge on Martin, their lives become deeply intertwined. She doesn’t know the half of it.

Review:First off, really cool cover! I love the close up on his face, the sinister red sky, and that deep purple eye. Now I don't remember Gabriel having purple eyes, but I love it on the cover image. This was a fresh and very original spin on the YA vampire genre that has saturated the market. It was very fast-paced, and in the beginning had a touch of that "what it means to be alive" storyline to it that I tend to enjoy in any book.

Seventeen-year-old Shay has pretty much accepted that fact that her life is near an end. Having lived her whole life with a rare, seemingly untreatable blood disorder, she has given in to being "the Sick Girl". She is used to being treated like fragile glass by her friends and teachers and extremely protected by her mother. Then her stepfather/doctor starts giving her a new treatment that not only gives her more energy and strength than she has ever had, but also gives her strange visions during the transfusions where she seems to be experiencing the life of vampire. She chalks the visions up to a side-effect, but begins to crave the transfusions more and more often, as the strength each one gives her is short-lived. While she has the strength, though, she finally get to live like a normal teenager, and it's quite interesting to see the things she chooses to do with that opportunity. Though some of the decisions are bad, the choices she makes give her character flaws and realism.

The real action of the book begins when she finds out exactly where this mysteriously addictive blood is coming from! She finds the vampire, Gabriel, that she has been envisioning during her transfusions chained up in her stepfather's office! She helps him escape and the adventure begins and doesn't stop until the end of the book.

I loved how the vampires were given very human traits, they were almost imagined as regular humans with different eating habits. They are scientist, and consider their group to be family. They are shown to have some compassion, never actually killing the humans they feed off of, and only take very young orphans who will remember no other life to raise into "the family" and even then they to choose whether to become vampires or not when they are old enough. They made them out to be very human and not monsters, which worked perfectly for the plotline, or else why would you care that one of them were chained up and being forced to give his blood?

The plot twists and turns throughout and the romance is heart-pounding!
The ending is the only semi-negative I saw in this book. Although I know this story has more to come and would not have a resolution in this book, the ending was still a very abrupt and somewhat painful cliffhanger. I quite literally thought I might have been missing a few pages, I was so sure that it couldn't have ended so mid-action. But regardless, it will be a long wait for the next installment, and I will definitely be excited to read it!

Read the first chapter here!

Visit Melinda and Laura's website here!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sweetness on Sunday: Mocha Almond Fudge Cupcakes!

I know, it's been ages since I posted one of these! To be honest, its been ages since I've had an extra second for baking! But here, finally, we have the "sweeties" half of Stories & Sweeties!!

So, my favorite ice cream at Baskin Robbins is...Jamoca Almond Fudge, hands down, no contest!! So I thought to myself, can it be made into a cupcake?? I think so!! I was pretty happy with these! Especially the frosting which came out extra light and fluffy. I even have some leftover after making a dozen cupcakes...and it's all I can do not to take out the bowl and eat it with a spoon like mousse! :)
Mocha Almond Fudge Cupcakes
1-1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 extra strong brewed coffee (really strong if you like a nice strong mocha flavor!)
1/2 unsalted butter, softened
1/2 sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg

In a small bowl, combine first five ingredients (dry ingredients) and set aside. In a second small bowl, combine the milk and coffee and set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat together the butter, sugars, and egg with an electric mixer a few minutes until fluffy. Add in the dry ingredients and coffee mixture, alternating: dry/coffee/dry/coffee/dry. Scrape down sides of bowl and mix until completely combined and smooth.
Fill each cupcake liner 3/4 of the way. They rise quite a bit so no more than that! :)
Bake at 350○ for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely on a wire rack.

16 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
6 tbsp cocoa powder
6 tablespoons very hot water
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 powdered sugar
pinch of salt

In a double boiler (actually if you have a kitchen aid mixer, I just use the bowl from that over a 2-qt saucepan of shallow simmering water, and then I don't have to transfer the chocolate later on), start to melt the chocolate chips. Remove from heat and stir until chocolate chips are completely melted. Set aside and let the chocolate cool, maybe 15 minutes. In a small bowl or mug, combine the cocoa powder with the hot water until completely dissolved.
Put chocolate into a tabletop mixer, and add butter, powdered sugar, and salt. Mix for 3 minutes. Add cocoa/water mixture and beat on low speed for another 3 minutes to get this really light and fluffy.

I refrigerated this for about 15 minutes before topping off the cupcakes with it. Sprinkle with lots of finely chopped almonds and there you have it! Mocha Almond Fudgey goodness!!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

In My Mailbox {34}

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we all share what we got during the week!

Had a great book week! A couple books that I have really been excited to read came in my mailbox!!
For Review:
When Rose Wakes by Christopher Golden
Entangled by Cat Clarke
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

(Thanks to MTV Books, Quercus, and Random/Knopf!)

Torment by Lauren Kate (thanks, Mary!)

Nevermore by Kelly Creagh (thanks, I Heart Monster!)

Library check-out:
The Hollow by Jessica Verday

Link me to what you got, I wanna see! :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Review: Extraordinary

Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin

publisher: Penguin/NAL

released: September 7, 2010

hardcover, 393 pages

intended audience: Young adult

source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers


Description from back of book: (the goodreads description was way to spoilery!!)
Phoebe finds herself drawn to Mallory, the strange and secretive new kid in school, and the two girls become as close as sisters . . . until Mallory's magnetic older brother, Ryland, appears. Ryland has an immediate, exciting hold on Phoebe but a dangerous hold, for she begins to question her feelings about her best friend and, worse, about herself.

Soon she'll discover the shocking, fantastical truth about Ryland and Mallory, and about an age-old debt they expect Phoebe to pay. Will she be strong enough to resist? Will she be special enough to save herself?

Review: This book was enchanting. Beautifully written---Werlin is without a doubt, an extraordinary writer. Piece by piece, this book had a lot of ups and downs for me, but as a whole, I did really enjoy the journey.

The main character, Phoebe, was fascinating. She is a Rothchild, a family that throughout history has been influential and powerful. One moment I was inspired by her bravery and kindness, the next I was ready to throw the book across the room with frustration at her weakness! In the beginning of the story, she meets Mallory in the seventh grade and decides to leave behind her popular crowd to befriend this odd girl that everyone else is laughing at. I was so glad that the story started here, it really gave a sense of the girls' friendship, how it all began. They stay friends for years, ---the story jumps forward to the girls at seventh and they have become as clost as sisters. But from the beginning, where you get glimpses of "Mallory" talking with the faerie queen, you know there is more to Mallory than what she seems. Trying to discover what this mystery quest of hers was definitely had me quickly turning the pages.

Somewhere in the middle, I felt the story start to drag a little. There would moments of intrigue, and then moments of slowness. I did also get frustrated with Phoebe's weakness when it came to dealing with Ryland, Mallory's brother, who becomes Phoebe's boyfriend. She inexplicably lets him walk all over her. She would have flashes of integrity where she would almost stand up to him, and then she would crumble. I had a hard time with her lack of strength and self worth, but it was there for a reason and brought the story where it needed to go.

About a hundred pages to the end, this story took off like a shot for me. Once it was revealed what the faeries were really up to, it brought all those ups and downs I mentioned before together and completely redeemed the whole book for me (which is funny because I've read the opposite of that in some reviews! I've read some where people loved the whole book but the ending!). It was magical and exciting and Phoebe's brave and noble side showed its lovely face once more!

A great book about friendship, family, bravery and love, and finding the "extraordinary" in each of us!

Visit the author's website here!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

Museum of Thieves
by Lian Tanner

release date: September 28, 2010 from Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Welcome to the tyrannical city of Jewel, where impatience is a sin and boldness is a crime.

Goldie Roth has lived in Jewel all her life. Like every child in the city, she wears a silver guardchain and is forced to obey the dreaded Blessed Guardians. She has never done anything by herself and won’t be allowed out on the streets unchained until Separation Day.

When Separation Day is canceled, Goldie, who has always been both impatient and bold, runs away, risking not only her own life but also the lives of those she has left behind. In the chaos that follows, she is lured to the mysterious Museum of Dunt, where she meets the boy Toadspit and discovers terrible secrets. Only the cunning mind of a thief can understand the museum’s strange, shifting rooms. Fortunately, Goldie has a talent for thieving.

Which is just as well, because the leader of the Blessed Guardians has his own plans for the museum—plans that threaten the lives of everyone Goldie loves. And it will take a daring thief to stop him. . . .

Museum of Thieves is a thrilling tale of destiny and danger, and of a courageous girl who has never been allowed to grow up—until now.

My Thoughts: I just recently discovered this one at the Teens@Random website, and after reading the excerpt, I am so excited about this one. It sounds like a such a great adventure! And that awesome cover!! Reminds me a little of the cover artwork for The Time Travelers by Linda Buckley Archer, one of my favorite MG fiction series, so maybe that is what struck such a good chord with me with this one! Only a few weeks to wait!

Review: Radiance

Radiance by Alyson Noel

publisher: Square Fish

release date: August 31, 2010

paperback, 192 pages

intended audience: middle grade


description from goodreads:
Riley Bloom left her sister, Ever, in the world of the living and crossed the bridge into the afterlife—a place called Here, where time is always Now. Riley and her dog, Buttercup, have been reunited with her parents and are just settling into a nice, relaxing death when she's summoned before The Council. They let her in on a secret—the afterlife isn't just an eternity of leisure; Riley has to work. She's been assigned a job, Soul Catcher, and a teacher, Bodhi, a curious boy she can't quite figure out.

Riley, Bodhi, and Buttercup return to earth for her first assignment, a Radiant Boy who's been haunting a castle in England for centuries. Many Soul Catchers have tried to get him to cross the bridge and failed. But he's never met Riley...

Review: Really enjoyed this one!! This one is short but sweet, and the story is a wonderful mix of curiousity, hilarity, and creepiness! While I only read the first two books in the Immortal series (I liked them, I just never got around to reading the rest of them!), Riley was decidedly my favorite character. I loved her attachment to Ever, her curiousity and nosiness, her general little sister-ness. Cracked me up that she used her ghostly state of being to snoop on movie stars. So, I was incredibly excited to hear more of her own story.

Riley has crossed over the bridge to the Here and Now and is completely lost. She doesn't understand the school she is sent to, the other people there or why some of them are glowing, or the strange meeting she has with the Coucil of Angels. This part reminded me very much of a movie called "Defending Your Life" where they viewed glimpses of Riley's life to decide where to place her in the afterlife. She is put to work as a Soul Catcher because of her own resistance to cross the bridge at first, where she will go back to earth and urge other souls to cross over. She is also assigned a guide, a boy named Bodhi that she encountered earlier and can't help thinking of him as "dorky guy". They get off to a rocky start when he reveals that he can hear every insulting thing that she is thinking about him. Their dialogue is funny and witty as they continually snark at each other.

The creepiness comes in on her first assignment. The spirits they encounter are actually pretty frightening!

There are some good themes going on here. It's very much about finding your place in the world, not taking things for granted, not judging people by your first impression of them, being brave. Its was a wonderful little book and I definitely look forward to the sequels! Yes, there will be sequels!! :) As a matter of fact, there is an excerpt of the next book in the back of Radiance!
Grab this one if you get the chance!

Visit Alyson Noel's website here.
Or the Immortal Series website here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Review: Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June

Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June by Robin Benway

publisher: Razorbill

release date: August 3rd, 2010

hardcover, 282 pages

source: Traveling ARC Tours

intended audience: Young adult


description from Goodreads: Three sisters share a magical, unshakable bond in this witty high-concept novel from the critically acclaimed author of Audrey, Wait! Around the time of their parents’ divorce, sisters April, May, and June recover special powers from childhood—powers that come in handy navigating the hell that is high school. Powers that help them cope with the hardest year of their lives. But could they have a greater purpose?

April, the oldest and a bit of a worrier, can see the future. Middle-child May can literally disappear. And baby June reads minds—everyone’s but her own. When April gets a vision of disaster, the girls come together to save the day and reconcile their strained family. They realize that no matter what happens, powers or no powers, they’ll always have each other.

Because there’s one thing stronger than magic: sisterhood.

Review: This one was a fun summer read. It was funny, intriguing, and magical. The three girls have just gone through their parents divorce and been uprooted to a new town with their mother. The three girls simply could not be more different in personality, and they are constantly bickering. It seemed like everytime one of them said anything, another sister would be right there with a witty retort. It definitely made for a few out-loud laughs on my part. On their first day of high school, when they are all trying to get acclimated, each girl's powers reveals itself.

With the alternating point of view, you really get a good sense for each girls dilemma, and you really get to see how well each of the girls' powers suits them. April is the oldest and most responsible, and even though they are constantly bickering, she watched over here sisters like a mama hen, even more so when she can see into their immediate futures! She uses it to keep an eye on them and even to thwart June from skipping school!May (I keep wanting to spell her name "Mei", which is my daughter's name---and it constantly amazed me how alike this character and my daughter were!!) is a bit of a rebel, very sarcastic-witted, and doesn't really care what people think of her, she just wants to be herself. Her invisibility power defintely suited her and she used it often when she just wanted to be away from everyone. June, the baby, had some definite growing up to do. Her main goal was to become popular at this new school, and once she discovered she could read minds, she used it to secure her popularity. The story really takes off when April gets a vague vision of the sisters in trouble, involving the boy whose locker is next to hers and the mystery begins!

I did at one point find it a little odd and far-fetched that these sisters first discovered their powers when they were very young and then somehow forgot about them until their teen years. I mean, if you see your sister disappear into thin air, I would that think that its not something easily forgotten!

I liked the romance interwoven into this plot. The two older girls find some interesting love interests, and I especially like the story of May and her tutor! Very sweet stuff, made even more amusing by May's sharp humor.

While this one didn't absolutely wow me, I still really enjoyed this light, fun story! Worth a mention that their is a lot of swearing in this one and some heavy drinking. It didn't bother me, but just a head's up for others! :)

Visit Robin Benway's site here!

In My Mailbox {33}

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we all share what we got during the week!

Some fun stuff this week! Sacramento had another of their Friends of the Library warehouse booksales and I always come away happy from those! It always amazes me that even though most books that I find there are discarded library books, they are all in excellent condition! The Sac libraries puts all their labels on the outside plastic cover, so once I take the plastic off, the covers look new! I love it!
For review:
She Smells the Dead by E. J. Stevens
This one is getting great reviews so far and I can't wait to dig in!

Over the Moon by Diane Daniels

Aliens! That's a paranormal type you don't see often, so I am excited to read this one.

Echoes by Melinda Metz
Recently read Crave, which this author co-wrote, and loved it. Wanted more of her work!

Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough
Read this from the library last year. It came out on paperback this week with a new gorgeous cover so I grabbed a copy for my collection. :) It's shimmery.

So what did you get in your mailbox??

Friday, September 10, 2010

Review: Z

Z by Michael Thomas Ford

publisher: HarperTeen

release date: September 7, 2010

hardcover, 276 pages

intended audience: Young adult

My rating:

My son's rating:

Description from goodreads:

The First Rule of Torching: Cleanse with fire.

Josh is by far the best zombie Torcher around—at least, he is in his virtual-reality zombie-hunting game. Josh has quickly risen through the player ranks, relying on the skill, cunning, and agility of a real Torcher.

The Second Rule of Torching: Save all humans.

But luckily for Josh, zombies exist only in the virtual world. The real zombie war is now more than fifteen years in the past, and the battle to defeat the deadly epidemic that devastated his family—and millions of others—is the stuff of history lessons.

The Third Rule of Torching: You can't bring them back.

Charlie is the top-ranked player in the game. Since all the players are shrouded in anonymity, Josh never expects Charlie to be a girl—and he never expects the offer she makes him: to join the underground gaming league that takes the virtual-reality game off the screen and into the streets. Josh is thrilled. But the more involved he gets, the more he realizes that not everything is what it seems. Real blood is spilling, members of the team are disappearing, and the zombies in the game are acting strange. And then there's the matter of a mysterious drug called Z. . . .

Review: I did something alittle special with this one. When it first arrived in my mailbox, I took one look at the summary and knew exactly what to do: I handed it to my 16-year-old son. I planned to read it as well, of course, but I let him read it first. Why? It's a book about virtual reality games and zombies---this book had him written all over it. Plus, I thought it would be interesting to compare what I thought to what the opinion of someone that this type of book was actually geared toward. Here's what he had to say about it:

The book “Z” was a very enjoyable, intense story that made me scared, worried, and made me just about cry! The characters were funny, and had very believable personalities. My favorite was Charlie, the girl who recruited Josh into playing the game. She was a funny, witty, lovable, but still a kick-ass girl that in my opinion made the whole story better. The story itself was amazing, especially its epic ending.

Its worth mentioning also, that Zac is definitely what would be called a "reluctant reader". He is very picky about the things that catch his interest, but he loved this one!

I really enjoyed this one, and I have to admit I went in a little hesitantly because I am not much of a zombie person. The rotting, festering flesh, the wild, often gouged out eyeballs, the brain-eating, the moaning. Nope, not a big fan. The graphic descriptions that often come with zombie stories often just make my stomach roll. This, however, was a really good story. It takes place far into the future, after a real zombie virus has hit the world and been contained. The way the virus was explained was very in-depth---the author completely breaks down how and why something like this would have happened. I loved some of the world building, and the odd groups of people that came into play, especially the "Zooey" kids, who described as little happy little group of teens that dressed up like pandas, tigers, rabbits---it immediately made me think of the Tokyo Street Style. (Never heard of it? Look here or google "fruits tokyo street style".)

The characters were interesting, although not completely fleshed out as much as I would have liked. Tell me more about Charlie and Firecracker and Scrawl! I loved these characters and definitely wanted to know more. With these supporting characters, we got a few quick background details, just enough to feel for them, and that is all. The main character, Josh, was very believable. He starts out a little foolish and selfish when it comes to his obsession about the zombie games he plays. We get to see him make some very poor decisions, let things spin wildly out of control, and finally come to some very important realizations that help him grow as a person.

Z was a fast paced thrill ride, with lots of creepy action, a mysterious villian and zombies going up in flames! I recommend it to every teen out there who loves video games and Zs!

source: review copy provided by publisher

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Knight Angels 2: Book of Revenge

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

Knight Angels 2: Book of Revenge
by Abra Ebner

release date: September 2010 by Crimson Oak Publishing

Description from Goodreads
New characters, New world, but old enemies. Our four heros may have won the fight, but the battle has only just begun. When their pasts begin to resurface, and old ties join back together, chaos breaks loose.

Emotional baggage, begrudged enemies, and the bitterness that comes when the honeymoon of their friendship fades...

Will the love survive, or what is all just a game?

My thoughts: LOVED the first book. Can't wait for this story to continue. There's not much more to say---if you haven't read the first book, You MUST!!! So good! (you can see my full review here)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Review: Firelight

Firelight by Sophie Jordan

publisher: HarperTeen

release date: September 7th, 2010

hardcover, 336 pages

intended audience: Young adult

source: provided by publisher for review



A hidden truth. Mortal enemies. Doomed love.

Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki—a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.

Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away—if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.

Mythical powers and breathtaking romance ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide.

Review: As someone who's read fantasy stories all my life, I wondered where all the dragons had gone. Wondered when we would start seeing them pop up again in the YA fantasy genre. I love dragons, have always loved them! Usually we see them in fantasy as the supporting characters, or the beast who carries the hero off to his various victories. Sophie Jordan has given them the starring spotlight they deserve with the start of her Draki series.

This was an amazing read, and despite the fact that I would have loved to see the story delve more into the actual lore of the dragon and how the Draki came to be, it was beautifully written. I would love to see this one go to the big screen---the first scene alone would be more than worth it: the gorgeous sunrise, the main character, Jacinda's manifestation into her dragon form, two dragons forbidden flight through the skies, and finally the appearance of danger on the horizon. It would a breathtaking opening to a movie! But as a book, by the third page, my imagination was just soaring.

The family thread of this story had my emotions in a whirlwind. Each member of Jacinda's family had their own side of the story and I literally could not take a side. Jacinda was treated differently among the Draki tribe because she was the only fire-breather in 400 years. She was being matched with the leader of the tribe to make the tribe stronger and while she didn't hate him, they had been friends their whole lives, she resented being forced into it. So when she gets into trouble for breaking a "sacred tenet" and is about to be horribly punished (details aren't given on what that punishment entails until later in the story), her mother sneaks Jucinda and her sister away in the middle of the night. Jucinda's sister, Tamra, is ecstatic at this move. She never manifested and so she was treated like an outcast among the Draki tribe. I completely understood Jucinda's mother's actions and Tamra's eagerness to start fresh somewhere else. While Jucinda is a little relieved to not be under so much pressure and expectation as she was in the tribe, she cannot see how she can be herself anywhere else. She is even more devastated by the fact that her mother intentionally moves them to a dry hot desert, a place that she knows will kill off the Draki in Jucinda. Despite the danger it puts them in, she is not ready to let her Draki side die, it is part of who she is. While I can see each of their sides, the way each acts on her feelings is pretty extreme and not just a little selfish! It doesn't make the story bad, it adds conflict and they definitely have some room for emotional growth throughout the series! I flip-flopped between being sympathetic to and angry with all three of these characters in turn--it made for a good emotional read!

The love story was a very original take on the classic Romeo and Juliet theme: their families are enemies, or in this case, the hunter and the hunted. Will is at odds with his family's "business" of hunting dragons. Still, Jacinda takes a great risk in being around him despite the fact that she knows what he is. She is drawn to him because of their first mysterious meeting and I thought the whole dragon-thing made an excellent metaphor for falling in love for the first time. The whole idea that being near him made her Draki side come alive to the point that she would almost manifest into a dragon every time they kissed gave their relationship a lot of intensity. While I don't want to give too much away, I will say that I found the "big moment" where she opens up to him so incredibly...sweet. :)

Definitely get your hands on a copy of this one and enjoy!

Visit Sophie Jordan's website HERE.

Order Firelight:

Barnes and Noble
Book Depository

Sunday, September 5, 2010

In My Mailbox {32}

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we all share what we got during the week!

Ok, so lots of books this week. Here we go...
For Review:
Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June by Robin Benway (Traveling Arc Tours)
Torment by Lauren Kate (Book It Forward Tours)

For my collection:
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
What a gorgeous cover in person!!

Halo by Alexandra Adornetto
read already---review here.

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
read already---review here.

The Half-Price Books near me was having a Labor Day Sale!! Everything was an extra 20% off, so each of these was a total of 70% off!! If you live near one of these stores, get there this weekend!!
Dream Girl by Laura Mechling
Been wanting to read this one forever!!

A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
Read this last year and loved it. Glad to have my own copy now!

Eggs by Jerry Spinelli
Stargirl is one of my favorites, but somehow I've never read anything else by this author!

North of Beautiful by Justine Chen Headley
My daughter and I both want to read this one!

Kiss in Time by Alex Finn
Liked Beastly, so we'll see how I like this one!

Aries Rising by Bonnie Hearn Hill
always wanted to read this!

Small Eternities by Michael Lawrence
Found out this is a 2nd in a series---will have to seek out the 1st!)

Dream Spinners by Bonnie Dobkin
Never heard of this before, but it looks like an amazing story!

Lament by Maggie Stiefvater
does anything by Maggie need an explanation?? :)

Library Books:
Eternal Ones by Kristen Miller
Heard great things about this one!

My Invented Life by Lauren Bjorkman
saw this one on The Story Siren, sounded like a great read!
And thanks to my puppy, I will have to buy the library another copy of this. Grrrrr. He pulled it right off the shelf, too. It's a good thing he's so cute---it's saved his life a few times already.

Happy reading this week, everyone!

Friday, September 3, 2010

When Rose Wakes---More Details!!

When I first featured this book as my Waiting on Wednesday pick back in May, very little was released about it as far as a synopsis. Now, the fully juicy details are out and I want to read this one even more than before!! If you read this blog often, you know how much I love the fairy-tale related stuff!! This one looks like it's going to be amazing!

When Rose Wakes
by Christopher Golden

published by MTV/ Simon & Schuster
September 28th, 2010

Description from author's website:

Her terrifying dreams are nothing compared to the all-too-real nightmare that awaits. . . .

An enchanting tale by Christopher Golden about a teenager who wakes from a coma and slowly comes to realize that she is Sleeping Beauty of fairy tales.

Ever since sixteen-year-old Rose DuBois woke up from months in a coma with absolutely no memories, she's had to start from scratch. She knows she loves her two aunts who take care of her, and that they all used to live in France, but everything else from her life before is a blank.

Rose tries to push through the memory gaps and start her new life, attending high school and living in Boston with her aunts, who have seriously old world ideas. Especially when it comes to boys.

But despite their seemingly irrational fears and odd superstitions, they insist Rose not worry about the eerie dreams she's having, vivid nightmares that she comes to realize are strangely like the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. The evil witch, the friendly fairies, a curse that puts an entire town to sleep - Rose relives the frightening story every night. And when a mysterious raven-haired woman starts following her, Rose begins to wonder if she is the dormant princess. And now that she's awake, she's in terrible, terrible danger. . . .

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Drought

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

by Pam Bachorz

releasing January 11th, 2010 by Egmont USA

description from goodreads:
Ruby Prosser dreams of escaping the Congregation and the early-nineteenth century lifestyle that’s been practiced since the community was first enslaved.

She plots to escape the vicious Darwin West, his cruel Overseers, and the daily struggle to gather the life-prolonging Water that keeps the Congregants alive and gives Darwin his wealth and power. But if Ruby leaves, the Congregation will die without the secret ingredient that makes the Water special: her blood.
So she stays.

But when Ruby meets Ford, the new Overseer who seems barely older than herself, her desire for freedom is too strong. He’s sympathetic, irresistible, forbidden—and her only access to the modern world. Escape with Ford would be so simple, but can Ruby risk the terrible price, dooming the only world she’s
ever known?

My thoughts: I'm always game for a really cool cover. This one is so eerie and intense. Love it. The story sounds just as riveting, so I will definitely be checking this one out.

NEW Halo Trailer!

Halo by Alexandra Adornetto has a new trailer to celebrate its US release!! Take a look!

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY to HALO!! If you missed my review of this sweet story, take a look HERE.