Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Hiatus!

Hey everyone! With Christmas and New Years fast approaching, I fear that I will be MIA for the next two weeks. I will try to pop in every now and then and leave comments, but I will not be putting up any posts for a short while. I hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday and a spectacular new year! I'll be back before you know it!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Book Review: Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter

After finishing the last page of Born at Midnight, I didn’t think about the story once the entire night. It was only when I sat down at my computer to write this review that I realized that while I enjoyed this book, the story left no lasting impression. The main character, Kylie, is a supernatural being that can see ghosts, but she is unwilling to admit that she is any different from any other 17 year old. Her parents are on the verge of a divorce and at the recommendation of Kylie’s therapist, she is shipped off to Shadow Falls Summer camp for troubled youth. While Shadow Falls is indeed a place for troubled teens, Kylie quickly learns that this is no ordinary camp. Surrounded by witches, fairies, vampires, shape shifters, and werewolves; Kylie must accept that she too is a descendant of the gods. The only other alternative is that she has a brain tumor. This premise is nothing new, but the story is entertaining nonetheless.

The most appealing aspect of this book is the characters. Kylie is a very likable protagonist who is on a journey of self-discovery. Learning to accept that there are things in her life that she cannot change is just one of the many hurdles that she must face. Her anger towards her parents and reluctance to admit that she is anything other than ordinary is understandable given her unique situation. Often times when characters are in these types of situations they come off as whiny or slow on the uptake, so it’s refreshing to have a protagonist that readers can empathize with. Kylie’s roommates Miranda and Della are quirky and fun and some of the more humorous scenes are when they are giving Kylie a crash course in what life can be like when you’re rooming with a witch and a vampire. There is even a perverted shape shifter that is sure to give more than one reader a chuckle.

The laughs stop however, when the plot begins to tread on familiar ground. Tell me, have you ever found yourself in a situation where you had to juggle the affections of three different men? No? Honestly, unless you’re a rock star, the likelihood of this happening is fairly slim. Kylie, however, constantly finds herself at the center of a lot of male attention. There is the handsome, emotionally available fairy that just wants to make it work, the sexy werewolf that tries to keep his distance, and the sleazy ex-boyfriend who just can’t take a hint. Kylie makes out with, agonizes over, and rejects all three of these men at least once in this novel. I’m all for love triangles and even the occasional love square, but this whole scenario was over the top.

Reading Born at Midnight was a little like watching a movie on cable. Chances are you’ve seen several movies just like it, but you continue to watch regardless because it’s entertaining. The problem with these types of movies is that once the credits start to roll, you get up and get on with your life, instantly forgetting what you just watched. Or in this case, what you’ve just read. This isn’t to say that this is a bad book. It just isn’t anything that fans of the genre haven’t read countless times before.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Sunday, December 19, 2010

In My Mailbox #3

 

In my mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. Every Sunday you post what books you've received that week, whether it was through the mail, at your local library, or purchased at the store. 



Books I Borrowed from the Library:
Summaries taken from Goodreads:

Now the law has finally caught up with Rose- for a crime she didn’t even commit. She’s in prison for the highest offense imaginable: the assassination of a monarch. She’ll need help from both Dimitri and Adrian to find the one living person who can stall her execution and force the Moroi elite to acknowledge a shocking new candidate for the royal throne: Vasilisa Dragomir. But the clock on Rose’s life is running out. Rose knows in her heart the world of the dead wants her back… and this time she is truly out of second chances. The big question is, when your life is about saving others, who will save you?

 

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the New York Times bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?  
 
 

 Things in Delilah Hannaford's life have a tendency to fall apart.She used to be a good student, but she can't seem to keep it together anymore. Her "boyfriend" isn't much of a boyfriend. And her mother refuses to discuss the fight that divided their family eight years ago. Falling apart, it seems, is a Hannaford tradition.

Over a summer of new friendships, unexpected romance, and moments that test the complex bonds between mothers and daughters, Delilah must face her family's painful past. Can even her most shattered relationships be pieced together again?






Received from Author for Review:

What would you do if the love of your life was murdered by a deranged killer? Would you become a vigilante and seek retribution and would this revenge affect those you care for in the afterlife? 
 
Through the lives of a demon, two Angels, and a mysterious teenage girl, a plethora of politically and socially relevant issues ranging from the roots of genocide and sex trafficking to child conscription and religious fundamentalism are addressed in this fantasy thriller. Life as well as the afterlife converge in this novel to explain certain peculiarities of the human condition.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Follow Friday and Book Blog Hop!

Hello everyone and welcome to my brand new book blog! Reading YA, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance is a passion of mine and on this blog I will post my reviews and hopefully discuss books with all of you! Happy hopping!


"What did you study in college, or are currently studying and did it lead to your current 9 to 5 or are you doing something totally different?"

 

My major in college was English. I'm currently working at a library in the Technical Services Department. I handle bibliographic records, place items on order in the catalog, process materials, and repair all items placed on the mending cart. Some day I hope to go back to school and obtain a Masters in Library Science! 

 

 

"What do you consider the most important in a story: the plot or the characters?"

I definitely prefer stories that are character driven. The characters have always been more important to me than the plot. No matter how amazing a story is, if the characters aren't likable or well developed then the story tends to lose its appeal and fall flat. Reading about a character's experiences, watching them learn and grow, and witnessing them experience love or loss are just some of the ways in which a character can reel you into a story, regardless of what the plot is about. Happy Hopping everyone!

 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Book Review: Falling Under by Gwen Hayes

While reading Falling Under I alternated between disliking it and not being able to put it down. The story is reminiscent of Jim Henson’s The Labyrinth in the sense that nothing is what it seems and that a young, innocent girl finds herself inexplicably caught between two worlds. Much like Sarah who journeys to the Labyrinth to challenge the Goblin King who wishes to possess her, Theia travels to Under only to become the fixation of Haden—a mysterious supernatural being that exists both in her reality and in her dreams. You can’t quite call what Theia and Haden feel for one another love, because quite frankly the two haven’t known each other long enough to develop that level of passion. Therefore, obsession is the only way to describe this fascination that they have with one another.

The story is rather straightforward in that it centers on a girl who lives under the close scrutiny of her overprotective father. In the years since moving to America from London Theia has had to live vicariously through her two best friends. Theia’s father has denied her what all teenage girls dream of experiencing as they get older, such as going to parties and dating boys. When she meets bad boy Haden, up becomes down and down becomes up and it takes all of Theia’s strength just to keep her footing while straddling the two worlds. For once there is no one else competing for the protagonist’s affections. Rather it is just a constant battle of wills between Theia and the strange boy that has suddenly become the center of her universe.

The portion of the story that I did not enjoy had to do with the melodrama between the two main characters. Haden makes every effort to seduce Theia, but refuses to allow them to touch, claiming that horrible things will happen should they ever have physical contact. Theia in return makes it her mission to touch him at every opportunity, as well as discover his true motives for being in her world instead of the dream world where he so obviously belongs. Imagine my disappointment when they to do finally touch and their heads don’t explode and the world doesn’t collapse in upon itself! Honestly, the whole scene was rather anticlimactic.

Falling Under is at its strongest when Theia is in Under. The creatures that live in this strange world are both disturbing and fascinating. The world itself is described in delicious detail allowing the imagination to run wild with the possibilities. Also, most of the suspense and intrigue came about when Theia was in Under, making these portions of the book far more interesting than when she is wallowing at home or at school. Another high point was seeing how the relationship between Theia and her father changed as the two steadily began to be more honest with one another. In the beginning Theia’s father is very one dimensional seeing as how we are lead to believe that he is an evil tyrant. However, as Theia and her father slowly open up to one another, the readers learn the circumstances behind Theia’s mother’s death and why it is so difficult for Theia’s father to talk about his late wife or show his only daughter affection. As a debut novel Falling Under succeeded in that it had an interesting premise and imaginative world building, but the rest of the story fell short of my expectations and left me feeling disappointed. 

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

Want to read another review of Falling Under? Go check out Book Kritik!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

In My Mailbox #2


In my mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. Every Sunday you post what books you've received that week, whether it was through the mail, at your local library, or purchased at the store.


 Won ARC on Goodreads Giveaways!

Summary taken from Goodreads:
Kylie Galen has had a lot of crap tossed in her lap. Her parents are getting a divorce. Her boyfriend broke up with her because she wouldn’t put out. Her grandmother died and now Kylie’s acquired a stalker. Unfortunately, she’s the only one who seems to be able to see the stalker and that gets her sent to a psychologist’s sofa. The kooky psychologist gets Kylie sent to Shadow Falls Camp. Kylie and her parents think it’s a camp for troubled teens. They thought wrong.
It’s a camp of supernaturals: vampires, werewolves, fairies, witches and shape shifters. And if she believes the camp leader, Kylie is one of them, too. 




That's it for this week! I just got the one book. Perhaps next week will be better :o)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Follow Friday and Book Blog Hop!

Hello everyone and welcome to my brand new book blog! Reading YA, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance is a passion of mine and on this blog I will post my reviews and hopefully discuss books with all of you! Happy hopping!


Do you have an under-noticed author that you think we should all know about?

 

An under-noticed author that definitely deserves more attention is Laura Whitcomb. She wrote one of my favorite YA novels: A Certain Slant of Light. It's a truly wonderful, moving tale full of suspense and romance sure to make you shed a tear or two by the end! 

 

Summary taken from Goodreads:

Helen is a disembodied spirit who "attaches" herself to humans in order to possess their bodies. Unable to remember the circumstances of her death, and with no idea why she's in this precarious state of limbo, she knows this much: she's been haunting the living world for 130 years. But when Helen inhabits the body of a high school teacher, everything changes. For though he remains quite unaware of her presence, a certain boy in his class is clearly able to see Helen. This realization, and Helen's subsequent introduction to him, rocks her world. Uncomfortable with the boundaries of her existence, Helen continues to test them and takes hair-raising risks -- often for love. Moved by her passions, she is stymied by limits placed on her that she doesn't yet understand and is unable to control.

 

 

    

 

 

Book Blog Hop Question:

"What is the thing you like most about reading book blogs?  Is it the reviews, author guest posts, articles, giveaways, or something else entirely?"

The two things I look forward to reading the most on other people's book blogs are memes and book reviews. Memes are a great way to meet fellow bloggers and get to know them better. Book reviews are a great way to discuss books, get ideas to read new books, and find other bloggers who share similar tastes in books!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Book Review: Matched by Ally Condie

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Matched and I am happy to say that I have every intention of purchasing a copy of this book for my very own. Admittedly, Matched didn’t hook me at first. The book started out rather slow and while I enjoyed learning about the dystopian society, I was wary of the direction that this story seemed to be heading. In the beginning, much of the focus is on the matching ceremony, the main character Cassia’s feelings about being matched to her best friend Xander and her shock and dismay when she discovers that she has not one, but two possible matches. Prior to reading Matched, I read a YA novel where the main focus of the story was on the complicated love lives of four desperate teenagers, hopelessly in love with one another but doomed to never be loved in return. Very little attention was given to the overarching plot and I didn’t want to read yet another YA novel where the main character agonizes over who she should choose to be with. Thankfully, this was not at all the case!

Matched takes place in the fictional town of Mapletree Borough. To be a resident, one must accept that every minute of every day is planned in advance. School, work, and recreational activities are all that the citizens know. Their lives are devoid of color, taste, creative outlets and most importantly the freedom to make choices. Even death is something that must be planned in advance and scheduled. Cassia, like many of the other residents, is just another cog in a well oiled machine. She is at an age where important decisions need to be made, such as what occupation she should be placed in and who she should be matched with. Cassia never could have imagined that she would be given two matches, or that one of her matches, Ky, would be an aberration who is forbidden to marry and should never have been entered into the sorting. How his name ended up in the data pool is just one of the many mysteries that arise throughout this compelling tale.

What drives this story is the evolution of Cassia’s character and her constant internal struggle between doing what Society expects of her and living a life free from oppression. After the death of her grandfather—the one person in Cassia’s life who encouraged her to be more than just another drone—the readers begin to see a gradual change in her behavior. She is no longer content to just simply follow the rules. She wants to create, experience love and speak the words that rage deep within her. Cassia does not outright make a stand, but rather she rebels against the system discreetly. Hiding precious artifacts, learning to write, or sharing an intimate moment with a boy she is forbidden to love are just some of the ways in which she asserts some semblance of control over a life that up until now was never entirely her own.

I was very pleased with how this novel turned out. There were many twists in the story that I was not expecting, as well as some shocking revelations that should have readers anxious to get their hands on the next book in the series. The romance between Cassia and Ky may have started out sweet and innocent, but over time the love and trust that develops between them becomes something worth breaking all of the rules for. This is not simply a story about a girl who is torn between the man she should love and the man that she is forbidden to love. Rather, it is a story about making choices and having to deal with the consequences of those choices.  

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Sunday, December 5, 2010

In My Mailbox #1



In my mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. Every Sunday you post what books you've received that week, whether it was through the mail, at your local library, or purchased at the store.


Won ARC on Goodreads Giveaways! 
 Summary taken from Goodreads:

Theia Alderson has always led a sheltered life in the small California town of Serendipity Falls. But when a devastatingly handsome boy appears in the halls of her school, Theia knows she's seen Haden before- not around town, but in her dreams. As the Haden of both the night and the day beckons her closer one moment and pushes her away the next, the only thing Theia knows for sure is that the incredible pull she feels towards him is stronger than her fear. And when she discovers what Haden truly is, Theia's not sure if she wants to resist him, even if the cost is her soul.




Books I Borrowed from the Library!
Summaries taken from Goodreads:

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.


Vampire predators run wild in this exciting steampunk adventure, the first in an alternate history trilogy that is already attracting attention. In 1870, monsters rise up and conquer the northern lands, As great cities are swallowed up by carnage and disease, landowners and other elite flee south to escape their blood-thirsty wrath. One hundred fifty years later, the great divide still exists; fangs on one side of the border, worried defenders on the other. This fragile equilibrium is threatened, then crumbles after a single young princess becomes almost hopelessly lost in the hostile territory. At first, she has only one defender: a mysterious Greyfriar who roams freely in dangerous vampire regions. A trade paperback original; buyer's choice.


Sailing aboard her father’s trade ship is all seventeen-year-old Camille Rowen has ever wanted. But as a girl of society in 1855 San Francisco, her future is set: marry a man she doesn’t love, or condemn herself and her father to poverty. On her final voyage before the wedding, the stormy arms of the Tasman Sea claim her father, and a terrible family secret is revealed. A secret intertwined with a fabled map, the mother Camille has long believed dead, and an ancient stone that wields a dangerous—and alluring—magic. The only person Camille can depend on is Oscar, a handsome young sailor whom she is undeniably drawn to. Torn between trusting her instincts and keeping her promises to her father, Camille embarks on a perilous quest into the Australian wilderness.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Busting the Newbie Blues!


Busting the Newbie Blues is hosted by Small Review. This event was created to put new YA book bloggers on the map! New bloggers can discuss and share their experiences with one another, as well as learn what it was like for established bloggers when they were newbies. On my blog I read and review more than just YA, but I think this event is a really great idea and I'm eager to join in!


Questionnaire:

New Bloggers:

Pick this questionnaire if you if you feel you're still getting your "blogging legs" and could use some advice and awareness brought to your blog, whether you're a brand new blogger or even if you've been blogging for over a year. 


  1. When did you start your blog? Three weeks ago!
  2. Why did you start your blog? I love to read and review books and I want to meet other bloggers who feel the same way and talk about books with them!  
  3. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far? Learning how to design and update my blog! I'm not very computer savvy and when I first started blogging I didn't even know how to upload a picture or create a link!
  4. What do you find most discouraging about being a new blogger? Never having enough time to do everything that I want to do. Updating my blog and meeting other bloggers is wonderful, but also time consuming. I want to be more involved in the blogging community, but I only have so much time to do everything that I want to do in a day and I dont always have access to a computer.
  5. What do you find most encouraging? How warm and friendly everyone is!
  6. What do you like best about the blogs you read? Have you tried to replicate this in your blog? I love blogs that have a lot of images and memes. I would like to start doing more memes, and maybe even start a meme of my own!
  7. What do you dislike about blogs you’ve read? Do you try to avoid this? I have yet to find anything I dislike, but then again, I've been blogging for less than a month.
  8. Any advice for other new bloggers? Don't be afriad to put yourself out there! Also, always be honest! If you don't like a book, don't be afraid to say so! 
  9. Anything else you’d like to share about your experience? Nope.
  10. Is there anything you’d like to tell us about your blog? I read and review YA, urban fantasy, and parnormal romance. Reading is my passion so expect me to post a lot of reviews!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Follow Friday and Book Blog Hop!

Hello everyone and welcome to my brand new book blog! This is my very first Follow Friday! Reading YA, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance is a passion of mine and on this blog I will post my reviews and hopefully discuss books with all of you! Happy hopping!


What do you do besides reading / reviewing as a hobby?

 

Between work, reading and reviewing, and making time to be with those I love, it's really hard to find time to do other stuff! I do, however, love to bake and I'm trying to learn how to cook. My favorite dessert to bake is cookies and this Christmas I plan to make at least four of five different batches of some of my more popular recipes! I find cooking to be much more difficult than baking because I have zero instinct when it comes to knowing what ingredients to use and what spices to add! I also enjoy crafts, but haven't had any time recently to make anything. For awhile though I was decorating picture frames :o)

"What very popular and hyped book in the blogosphere did you NOT enjoy and how did you feel about posting your review?"

I really did not enjoy Halo by Alexandra Adornetto! At 500 pages one would think that after the 100 page mark, something, ANYTHING, would have happened, but the only thing that I learned within the first 100 pages of this book was that for inexplicable reasons the main character is in love with a teenage boy that attends her school. I didn't write a review for Halo because I couldn't finish it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Book Review: 13 to Life by Shannon Delany


13 to Life is a very quick read that takes an awfully long time to get to the point of the story. If you’re curious as to what this book is about, honestly, very little happens in the span of 308 pages and more questions are raised than answered by the book’s end. For the most part, the focus of this story is on the love square between the main character Jessica Gilmansen, Pietr Rusakova the mysterious bad boy, Jessica’s best friend Sarah, and Jessica’s crush Derek. Jessica and Pietr meet very early on in the novel and are thrown together so often that one can’t help but wonder if the readers are supposed to believe that this all just a series of coincidences. Jessica becomes Pietr’s peer guide and they share almost all of their classes together, as well as ride the same bus. Jessica’s father has even hired Pietr to help manage their farm. The word ‘coincidence’ starts to lose all meaning when the two are paired together constantly. That being said, I did like both main characters and given their many encounters, their relationship evolved naturally.

The mystery surrounding the Rusakova family receives very little attention, and while the readers are given hints about their past from time to time, overall, not much is learned in this novel. I assume, given the cliff hanger ending, that more will be revealed in the next book. One thing that is made abundantly clear, however, is that Pietr is a werewolf. This is one of those cases where the readers are very much aware of the fact that a character is Other, but the main character hasn’t the foggiest idea that the boy she is crushing on has supernatural abilities. At one point she even jokes about the idea of Pietr being a werewolf, but then quickly dismisses it.

The love square reminds me a little too much of storylines that can be found in teen dramas on TV. Jessica has strong feelings for Derek, a popular jock at her school, but after having many encounters with Pietr, she starts to develop feelings for him as well. Jessica’s best friend Sarah also has feelings for Pietr and while Jessica encourages the two date, a little piece of her dies inside every time she sees them together. I never fully grasped the idea of forsaking your own happiness for the happiness of another. Self-sacrifice isn’t always the honorable thing to do, especially if it means lying to everyone around you. Pietr isn’t any better because he clearly has feelings for Jessica, but chooses to date Sarah for no reason other than that Jessica asked him to. There’s also something funky going on with Derek, but I’ve already spent too much time detailing the complicated love lives of these characters!

As werewolf books go, 13 to Life is definitely one of the weaker stories I’ve read. I hate to compare anything to Twilight, because Twilight shouldn’t be the standard by which all paranormal YA books are compared to, but the whole dynamic with the Rusakova family reminded me a little too much of the Cullens. While I have no plans to read the sequel to this book, should you find yourself wanting to read a story about werewolves, 13 to Life is worth a try, but there are much better werewolf stories to be found. 

Rating: 2/5 Stars

Monday, November 29, 2010

Book Review: The Madness of Lord Ian Mckenzie by Jennifer Ashley


What is great about The Madness of Lord Ian Mckenzie is that it has two protagonists that truly compliment one another. I never once doubted that Beth Ackerly was meant to be with Lord Ian Mckenzie. The two share a connection that is both romantic and touching to read. Each character in this book is well developed and given a generous amount of attention, allowing me to enjoy their many distinct personalities and quirks. While my favorite character is Ian, I loved the scenes that featured his man servant Curry and any one of his three brothers. The dynamic in this family is both humorous and heartbreaking. The brothers share so much love for one another but are divided, each nursing a wound that cannot heal. Beth Ackerly is a likable heroine with a wry sense of humor and a great deal of compassion for those around her. Her downfall is her curiosity and tendency to pry into matters that ought not to be disturbed.

The story focuses for the most part on Lord Ian Mckenzie, who is believed to be mad and a murderer. Ian was born with autism and as a young boy his strange behavior often made him a target for his father’s rages. Unable to blend in with others, Ian’s father forced him into an asylum where it was thought that his “sickness” could be cured. Fortunately, Ian’s eldest brother freed him from the asylum some years later, but even after Ian assumed his share of his family’s wealth and became widely known as brother to a Duke, he still found himself the subject of social ridicule. His perceived madness, coupled with his family’s reputation for scandal and the rumors that he is the prime suspect in a murder investigation forces Ian to have very little, if any contact with anyone outside of his family—that is, until he meets his beloved Beth. Ian, who has never desired anything other than to collect Ming bowls for his vast collection, makes it his mission to possess Beth for his own.

I don’t read historical romances very often, but when I do they are usually a joy to read. However, there is that saying that there can be too much of a good thing. In the case of The Madness of Lord Ian Mckenzie, sex is the one thing that there is too much of! I know that there will be those who disagree, but I need more than a marathon of sex to keep me interested and to kick start my libido. I would have preferred a little less sex and a lot more romance. Having Ian dive under Beth’s many petticoats at every available opportunity is fun and sexy to read at first, but gets old rather quickly. One scene that I loved in particular was in the beginning when the two first meet. Ian takes her hand in greeting, but refuses to let go during the entire exchange. He uses his thumb to trace the pattern on the back of her glove, filling her limbs with heat. The author writes, “He sat no closer than Mather did, but Beth’s awareness of him screamed at her. She could feel his hard knee against her skirts, the firm pressure of his thumb on her hand, the weight of his not-stare.” I much prefer scenes of this nature to the ones where they are naked and writhing. Seeing how the character’s relationship evolves is where the real romance can be found. Sex is just the icing on the cake.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Versatile Blogger Award!


Both Selena from The Enchanted Book and Book Kritik have awarded me with The Versatile Blogger Award! Thank you both so much for thinking of me!


Here are the rules:

1.  Share 7 things about yourself.
2.  Pass the award to 15 bloggers recently discovered.
3.  Notify the blogger recipients.
4.  Link to the blogger who gave the award.

7 things about me:

1. I only drink water, but will occasionally make an exception for a fruit smoothie. Yum!
2.  I'm 5 ft tall and am often mistaken for being much younger than I actually am!
3.  Reading is my passion, but I'm also a huge movie enthusiast!
4.  I have never traveled out of the country, but when I do I would like my first stop to be Japan!
5.  I've been in a committed relationship with my boyfriend for almost eleven years. We were high school sweethearts and were voted cutest couple our senior year.
6. I plan to go to Book Expo America next year and I'm super excited!
7.  Someday, when my life doesn't feel so hectic, I would like to write a YA book!

I know it says to give this award to 15 bloggers, but a lot of people seem to have already received this award! Here are the bloggers I gave the award to:



Brooke's Box of Books

Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My!

The Heart of Dreams

Supernatural Snark

Manga Maniac Cafe

Fangs, Wands, and Fairy Dust

Small Review 

My Need to Read

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Book Blog Hop

Hello everyone and welcome to my brand new book blog! Reading YA, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance is a passion of mine and on this blog I will post my reviews and hopefully discuss books with all of you! Happy hopping!

Book Blog Hop Question:

"What is your favorite book cover?"


When I went to ALA in Washington D.C. over the Summer I did not intend to pick up this book. I stood in line for another author, Lucy Christopher, and when I reached the little booth to purchase my copy of Stolen, the woman selling the books asked if I would like a free ARC of Plain Kate. The author, Erin Bow, was also signing, and while I didn’t recognize the title, I was drawn to the beautiful cover and gladly accepted. It took me two days to read this book and I can say with all honesty that it is my favorite book that I picked up on my trip. It is such a beautiful, moving story and the cover is so striking. I like the contrast between the ordered structure of the city landscape and the carefree pose of the girl on the rooftop. The blue scarf adds a splash of color to the hazy, gold backdrop and her drab, brown attire.

Most Anticipated Books of 2011

There are many books published in 2010 that I have yet to read that are sitting forlornly on my bookshelf, hopelessly neglected and yearning to be read. One who loves to read as much as I do is doomed to have a towering stack of books and no time to get through them all! Why is it for every one book I read, five more titles are vying for its empty spot? That is the curse of the avid reader. To make matters worse, I have a list of anticipated titles that will be released next year that I must add to my treasure trove of books!

Here is the list of books that I'm most excited to read in 2011. Once I get my hands on each one of these books, I will shamelessly move them to the front of the line, no doubt making the rest of my books feel dejected and suicidal.

What books are you most looking forward to reading next year? Share your thoughts in the comment section!




Shadowfever (Fever #5) by Karen Marie Moning

MacKayla Lane’s life is good. She has great friends, a decent job, and a car that breaks down only every other week or so. In other words, she’s your perfectly ordinary twenty-first-century woman. Or so she thinks…until something extraordinary happens.  

Shadowfever will answer all the questions fans have been dying to know in the final chapter of MacKayla Lane's shockingly suspenseful and deeply satisfying adventure.

 
Defiance (Strange Angels #4) by Lillith Saintcrow 


The heart-stopping fourth novel in New York Times bestselling author Lili St. Crow's Strange Angels series. 

Dru Anderson has what her grandmother called “the touch.” (Comes in handy when you’re traveling from town to town with your dad, hunting ghosts, suckers, wulfen, and the occasional zombie.) 



 Second Grave on the Left (Charley Davidson #2) by Darynda Jones

Charley Davidson: part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper.  

Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice.



 Demon Glass (Hex Hall #2) by Rachel Hawkins

Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.
 
That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.




 Hunt the Moon (Cassandra Palmer #5) by Karen Chance

  A contemporary dark fantasy revolving around a gutsy female protagonist with supernatural abilities that blends mystery and romance with hair-raising horror. 

Cassie Palmer is a powerful clairvoyant who is finding it difficult to escape her past. Orphaned at a young age and brought up by the undead, Cassie has the ability to communicate with the spirit realm 


 
The False Princess by Elis O'Neal

Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court.  But everything changes when it's revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection.  Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known.
 




Dreams of a Dark Warrior (Immortals After Dark # 11) by Kresley Cole

He vowed he’d come for her...

She awaits his return...

A gripping tale of a battle-maddened warrior driven by revenge and the Valkyrie temptress who haunts his dreams.




Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

This debut, the first novel in a trilogy, is achingly romantic, terrifying, and filled with blistering action.

When seventeen-year-old Ellie starts seeing reapers - monstrous creatures who devour humans and send their souls to Hell - she finds herself on the front lines of a supernatural war between archangels and the Fallen and faced with the possible destruction of her soul.



Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -the deliria- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Blog Hop

Hello everyone and welcome to my brand new book blog! It is only one week old! Reading YA, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance is a passion of mine and on this blog I will post my reviews and hopefully discuss books with all of you!

Book Blog Hop Question:


"Since Thanksgiving is coming up next week, let's use this week's Hop to share what we are most thankful for and what our holiday traditions are!"

I come from a very small family and every year for Thanksgiving my parent's neighbors invite us over to enjoy the holiday with them. I'm thankful that there are people in my life who welcome us into their home on the holidays, which can be quite lonely if you don't have many relatives. Now that I have moved out and I am living with my significant other, I'm happy that I can spend Thanksgiving with both his family and mine, as well as our good friends.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Review: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

It is rare for me to give a book five stars, because to me, a book can only achieve such a high rating if:

1. It is near perfect.
2. It affects me on a deep, emotional level.
3. I’m biased towards the author and/or series and I’m not capable of remaining objective.

There are books that I have loved unconditionally and books that I have loathed to ever read again, but despite how my tastes may differ from those who share my love for books, I must insist that if you’re a fan of paranormal romance or urban fantasy, you would be remiss not to read this book! I loved First Grave on the Right. I mean, I REALLY loved this book! It was perfection. Books like this are the reason why I fell in love with this genre to begin with.

First Grave on the Right seamlessly combines mystery/suspense, a romance that sizzles, and an infectious humor that kept me in stitches from beginning to end. The story focuses on Charley Davidson, private investigator and Grim Reaper extraordinaire. She is smart, sassy, and possesses a steadfast determination that has gotten her into trouble more often than not. She also has a penchant for naming her extraneous parts (and not so extraneous parts) with names that are sure to give you a chuckle. Armed with the ability to see dead people, Charley helps both the living and dead seek justice and find closure. It also doesn’t hurt that when she is in a bind, she has a quirky assistant, a sexy skip tracer, and a mysterious supernatural entity dubbed the “Big Bad” to help her whenever trouble is hot on her trail.

Encountering ghosts on a regular basis and helping them find their way to the other side is to be expected of the one and only Grim Reaper, but Charley never expected to experience an intense passion with a mysterious spirit that visits her only in her dreams. The spirit is described as being beautiful, but it is his slow seduction of Charley and the fleeting kisses and touches that they share that had me weak in the knees. I also enjoyed Charley’s love/hate relationship with the skip tracer, Garrett. Their flirtatious banter is amusing and I couldn’t help but root for the guy since he was so clearly smitten with her. Love triangles are a guilty pleasure of mine and I was pleased to discover that I liked both men and would be happy with whomever she ends up with.

I insist that everyone devour this book at the first available opportunity. It was truly a fantastic read. My only regret about winning it on Goodreads First Reads Giveaways is that now I will have to wait that much longer to get my hands on the sequel! If you’re looking to start the new year with a phenomenal paranormal romance, I suggest starting with this one! First Grave on the Right has an intriguing plot with plenty of twists and surprises that will keep you guessing, many memorable laugh out loud moments, and a romance that will entice even the most frigid of hearts.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Review: Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1) by Cassandra Clare

I know there are a lot of mixed feelings concerning Cassandra Claire’s writing, but I must admit that I found Clockwork Angel to be an engaging read. It had a bit of a rough start and it took awhile to get used to the writing, but I soon found that I couldn’t put the book down. At nearly five hundred pages, Clockwork Angel ended up taking me several days to finish, but with each day that passed I eagerly looked forward to the time when I could settle down and delve back into a world filled with Shadow Hunters, demons and automatons. Admittedly, the book ended up being too long and there were entire passages where characters would ramble on about their intentions and motivations to the point that I thought my eyeballs would bleed out, but I absolutely loved the world building, the interesting assortment of characters, and the Victorian England setting.

The story focuses for the most part on Tessa Gray, an American who sails to England to live with her brother after her Aunt Harriet dies from a sudden fever. Upon arriving, she is abducted by two nefarious characters referred to as the Dark Sisters who give her a crash course in what it means to be a Downworlder. Tessa grew up believing that the most excitement to be had could only be found in the pages of her beloved novels. Tessa, however, is a powerful shape shifter with the ability to retain the thoughts and memories of those whose form she has replicated. She learns that her brother has been abducted and that she was lured to England because a mysterious creature often referred to as the Magister covets her abilities. Tessa must cooperate with the Dark Sisters or she is sure to lose the only living relative she has left.

Will, a Shadow Hunter investigating the murder of a young girl, finds Tessa by chance when all evidence of foul play leads him to where she is being held captive. She is then brought back to the London Institute for Shadow Hunters where she discovers that there is an ongoing war between the Nephlim and the Downworlders who are determined to disturb the peace and endanger the lives of mundanes (humans). At the institute Tessa works along side the enclave in hope that they can help her save her brother and destroy the creature who will stop at nothing to posses her.

What I found most appealing about this book was the eccentric group of characters. Charlotte, the head of the London Institute and her husband Henry whose peculiar inventions always go awry are the surrogate parents of orphaned Will, Jem and Jessamine. This dysfunctional family can barely function as a unit, but it is clear that despite their vast differences in character they have a great deal of affection for one another. There is a love triangle of sorts between Will, Jem, and Tessa, but the real romance, or should I say bromance, is between the two young men.

I honestly really enjoyed this book and was sad to see it end. This is the first in a trilogy of prequels, so many of the questions raised in this book have yet to be answered. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy in a Victorian England setting, or who doesn’t mind that romance isn’t the primary focus of this tale. Rather, this story explores the idea of what it means to be human and the importance of family, even if those you surround yourself with aren’t bound to you by blood. Clockwork Angel also shows how destructive secrets can be and the damage it can wreak on your relationships and mental health. This book may have its fair share of flaws, but I think the good outweighs the bad and I’m happy to have read it.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Review: Mind Games (The Disillusionists Trilogy, #1) by Carolyn Crane

I enjoyed Mind Games. The premise of a group of Disillusionists using their abilities to “reboot” the bad guys is interesting and clever. The main character Justine Jones is a hypochondriac who struggles with a fear of vein star syndrome. When she meets a highcap (people with unique mental powers) named Packard who sees people’s psychological structures, she is given the opportunity to learn how to channel her fear into others, thereby allowing her to lead a normal life. Justine is reluctant to join Packard’s band of crime fighting disillusionists at first, because she questions whether of not it is ethical to disillusion people, even if said people are known criminals and murderers. Could forcing someone to live out their greatest fear be synonymous with torture? However, when Justine gets a taste of life free of crippling fear she is helpless to give in to Packard’s offer and join his crew. There is a catch of course. Living a life without fear and fighting bad guys isn’t all its cracked up to be.

Packard was my favorite character in this book. As the leader of the disillusionists, he is responsible for finding targets that are compatible with each person’s ability. Justine uses fear to secure her targets, while other disillusionists specialize in emotions such as anger, hopelessness, or greed. His reason for establishing this group of crime fighters is fascinating and his ability to manipulate makes him a dangerous player in a world filled with powerful highcaps. Packard’s relationship with Justine is enticing and the sexual tension between the two is palpable. Packard may toe the line between noble and devious, but how Justine can resist such a man is beyond me! Justine has two other love interests, one of which is her boyfriend Cubby and the other is a mysterious suitor that I won’t reveal. However, I found both of these men to be unattractive and unappealing. What she sees in either of them is baffling.

My only real complaint with Mind Games is that I guessed the identity of Packard’s nemesis. This disappointment, however, was short lived, because the author Carolyn Crane was kind enough to throw in a twist or two for my reading pleasure. I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on the next book and have already put in a request for my local library to order it! The great thing about reading a really good book is that it reminds you why you developed such a passion for reading. Lately I have been reading a lot of YA and as much as I have enjoyed it in the past, I think I’m going to go back to reading more adult urban fantasy. I find adult urban fantasy and paranormal romance to be much more satisfying and entertaining than many of the YA titles offered in this genre today.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Review: Hex Hall (Hex Hall, #1) by Rachel Hawkins

This was a fun, fast paced book, filled with humor and many memorable quotes that I read from cover to cover in a matter of hours. The main character Sophie is a sarcastic, self-deprecating witch, who was raised by her human mother and knows very little about her magical heritage or her warlock father. When a love spell goes horribly wrong, Sophie is sent to Hex (Hecate) Hall, a reform school for Prodigium (magical folk) where she learns the dangers and consequences of exposure to the human community and how to protect and defend herself from those who hunt the paranormal. Since, Sophie and her mother never stayed in one place for more than a few months, she has always found it difficult to bond with her human peers. Now that she lives with her own kind, as well as werewolves, shape shifters, and fairies, instead of finding comfort and acceptance, she finds that she is even more alone and alienated than ever. It doesn’t help that her only friend and roommate is a vampire suspected of murder, or that a group of dark witches want her to join their coven and aren’t too pleased when she refuses.

My only complaint with this novel is the lack of attention paid to secondary characters. Most of the focus is on Sophie, her roommate Jenna, her love interest Archer, and her nemesis Elody. What about the other students? Sophie has little if any interaction with the Fey, werewolves, and shape shifters that go to her school. Hex Hall encourages its students to intermingle with one another, which is how Sophie gets Jenna as a roommate. However, Jenna is the only character that isn’t a witch or warlock that plays a significant role in this book. Also, what happened to all the male characters? Almost all the characters introduced are female, including the teachers. Archer was the only male character that appeared frequently throughout the novel. Cal the groundskeeper had a very small role and Justin the werewolf disappeared after he was introduced briefly in the beginning! Despite this one flaw, I really enjoyed reading Hex Hall and have already put its sequel, Demonglass on my to read list.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan

Will Grayson, Will Grayson has shown me that love is like a swing set.

Well…

Not exactly. Imagine you’re on a swing. You’re gliding back and forth, your legs are pumping through the air, your hair is wild and it’s getting into your eyes and in your mouth. It’s an incredibly pleasant feeling, but you want something more. So, you pump your legs harder and the swing is rising higher and higher until all you can see is endless blue sky. It’s still not enough. This feeling. You want more. So, when you get as high as the swing will allow, you let go.

For one glorious moment you’re airborne and you’re soaring, arms spread wide like you have wings, and nothing in the world can compare to this singular moment. This rush. This burst of adrenalin.

Until you start to fall.

When you hit the ground it hurts. A lot. That’s love. Will Grayson, Will Grayson is about love. When you love someone, it isn’t just about the jump, or even the fall. It’s about the landing. When you take that first jump you don’t realize how much it’s going to hurt once you hit the ground. Love is having the courage to get back on that swing and jump again, even if doing so is painful.

This was an incredibly touching book. If you’re familiar with John Green’s or David Levithan’s writing, you will not be disappointed. I wasn’t.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Review: Werelove: Dusk Conspiracy (Volume 1) by Lakisha Spletzer

I try to be selective when it comes to the books that I read. I don’t relish giving negative reviews and if I feel that a book isn’t to my taste, I stop reading it. I gave Werelove: Dusk Conspiracy my best try. I read about halfway through the book before admitting defeat and acknowledging that I had no desire to reach the conclusion. There are several reasons why I chose not to finish it, which I will divulge, but I hope that my criticism will not discourage the author, who was kind enough to send me a copy of her novel. I should point out that I am not this book’s intended audience. As I have said before in one of my previous reviews, to write a YA fantasy that is appealing to both preteens and adults is quite a feat and I don’t expect all authors to succeed. I do however expect a certain level of maturity in the writing. Werelove succeeds in its creative blending of Werelore and science fiction, but lacks the sophistication in writing style that I am accustomed to in adult fantasy novels.

One of the main issues I had with this novel was the main character. I found Layla to be extremely unlikable. She is part werewolf, part werepanther and lives in a home that feels much like a prison. Her caretakers act as her wardens and they enforce her father’s rules which are to keep Layla isolated from her peers and focused on her school work. Making friends, attending social events, and dating are a rite of passage that every teenage girl should experience. Rather than fight for her freedom or demand her independence, Layla is content to play the role of the victim. She meekly accepts all of her father’s wishes and relies on others to fight her battles for her. One could argue that Layla is docile because she is forced to take a serum twice a week to subdue her dual natures, but the serum doesn’t excuse her tendency to whine about her circumstances, give up when life proves to be too difficult, or hide from those who wish to bully or push her around. I didn’t finish the book, so there is a possibility that Layla finds her strength later in the novel, but I disliked her so much that I wasn’t willing to stick around and find out.

Another issue I had with this book was the dialogue. The conversations between the characters felt unnatural and forced. I found myself often wondering “is this something a 17 year old girl would say?” or “is this how a grown man would speak to a teenage girl?” I also started questioning certain character’s actions and reactions to many of the events that took place. I was shocked when Layla’s age was revealed because I assumed, based on how she interacted with others, that she was younger. One scene in particular that I found very difficult to swallow was when Donil, Layla’s love interest, was trying to help her escape to safety. The dialogue between the two was meant to be flirty, but it came out creepy instead. Layla is on the ground with a broken ankle, terrified and unsure where to turn, and Donil is insisting through telepathy that Layla should “move that cute body out of harms way.” He kept saying ‘Beautiful do this, and Beautiful climb that.’ Why is he hitting on her when he should be focused on keeping her alive?

I should also mention that I am not a fan of multiple first person narratives. The story is told in the third person, but each chapter starts with a different point of view. My limit for first person narratives is three. Any more than three and I start to skim. This is a personal preference and not a criticism. While this book is not to my taste, others will appreciate the creativity that went into it. I’m always looking for books that take a popular theme, in this case werelore/werelove, and mold it something shiny and new. There aren’t too many books out there that explore the possibility of Werehybrids, nor are there many books that mix elements of science fiction and urban fantasy. The ideas in this book are strong but the execution needs improvement.

Rating: 2/5 Stars

Review: Sleepless by Cyn Balog

It used to be that if I didn’t like a book within the first fifty pages, I would stop reading and move on to the next one. It seems silly doesn’t it? I mean with some books it takes a hundred pages or more before the story really starts to pick up and things get interesting. However, there are still those books, such as Sleepless, where you try your hardest to give the book a shot, to not judge it too soon, but by the end you just wind up feeling as though the book was undeserving of your time and attention. As it was, I didn’t even make it through the whole story. I skimmed the last eighty pages, just to see how it ended. While the idea of Sleepless and sandmen is interesting, the plot was almost non-existent and the characters were irritating and unlikable.

At barely over 200 pages, we as readers learn little about the characters other than that they are impulsive, selfish, and at times violent. The story focuses on Julia, a girl in high school who recently lost her boyfriend in a car accident, and Eron, a sandman who has performed his duties for a hundred years and is ready to move onto the next phase of his life—to become human again. Certain humans who are near death are given the choice to move on to the afterlife or become a sandman, and once they have completed their service they are given a second chance at life. It is Eron’s job to train the next sandman (Julia’s recently departed boyfriend, Griffin) before he can fully transition to the next stage of his life. The one thing that both men have in common is that they are madly in love with Julia and neither is willing to let her go. That’s where the similarities end.

Griffin is a jerk who treated Julia like crud when he was alive (I love how this behavior is somehow justified when she claims that he toughened her up and gave her a thicker skin) and even worse as a sandman. You know that Griffin is truly a winner when he plots the murder of his best friend, simply because he was making advances towards his former girlfriend. As for Eron… well… he is just dull and annoying, and at times even a little bit creepy. Eron describes putting people to sleep as seducing his charges into slumber. Yuck. Helping someone sleep should not be confused as a sexual act, which is exactly what happens when Eron is trying to show Griffin how to perform his duties. As for plot, there really wasn’t much there. First Julie is in danger from Griffin’s best friend. Then Julie is in danger from Griffin. Eron has elected himself her personal hero and must protect her from both. Insert some false alarms and then throw in a little danger and wah lah, you have Sleepless!

Rating: 1/5 Stars