January 31, 2012

January RAK Wrap-Up

This was my 2nd time participating in RAK, hosted by Book Soulmates :)  I didn't get any RAKs this time, but it was nice sending books to people.  I got to clear out some bookshelf space and share some awesome books :)

I sent:
Sea by Heidi R. Kling to Erika @Rescue Reads
ARC of The Near Witch and signed ARC of Linger to Catie @Escape to Wonderland
Signed ARC of All These Things I've Done to Wanda @Books Are Magic

Not sure whether or not I can participate again in February, but I hope to :)

January 30, 2012

Review: Tempest by Julie Cross

Tempest (Tempest #1) by Julie Cross
Format: ARC, 334 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance
Published January 17th, 2012 by St. Martin's Griffin
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
Rating: 4 out of 5
Summary from Goodreads:

The year is 2009. Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun.

That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.

Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.

But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler. Recruit… or kill him.

Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.
Hooray for my FINALLY reading my first book of 2012!  I heard some mixed things about this one, so I was surprised by much I liked it :)  Looking at other people's reviews, it seems like a love-it-or-hate-it book... I'm glad to be part of the love-it group!

I really liked how it was written from a guy's POV, it's been a while since I've read one!  I thought the author did a pretty good job at writing in first person from the opposite sex.  Jackson was a great protagonist, he was relatable and really matured throughout the book.  He starts off as a typical, immature teenager and by the end he learns about self sacrifice and not taking things for granted.  And I liked how Jackson and Holly are technically in college, since most of the YA books I've read are based more in high school and the 15-18 age range.

While I thought the first half of the book was a bit on the slow side, it really got better for me once I became more attached to the characters.  Even though the entire book is pretty action packed, in the beginning you don't really know the characters that well, so it's kind of hard to 100% care about what is happening.  And for some reason in the beginning, although Jackson's journal entries helped to fill in some of the gaps, I felt like it was a bit unnecessary and kind of interrupted the flow of the story.

I thought the way time travelling is done in this book was unique, although a bit confusing at times.  Which is to be expected since I'm not a big science person, and I suppose if time travelling was simple we'd have figured it out already.  However, once I kind of ignored the technicality of all of it and focused on the story, I really loved it!  I don't read a whole lot of sci-fi, especially sci-fi with a lot of romance, but I'll definitely be on the lookout for now on!

Overall, I thought Tempest was a fantastic debut by Julie Cross, and I'll definitely be reading her future books!

Also check out an excerpt of the audiobook provided by the awesome people at Macmillan Audio! I really love the guy who does the voice for Jackson, he's exactly how Jackson sounded in my head!

January 28, 2012

In My Mailbox (18)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme started by Kristi from The Story Siren where bloggers can share what books they've received and what they're planning on reviewing.
This week I got 2 books, they're pretty awesome and I'm really excited to read them!  I've read the first in the series and loved it, so I'm excited to read the rest!

I won:
Ruling Passion (Drake Chronicles #1-3) by Alyxandra Harvey and
Bleeding Hearts (Drake Chronicles #4) by Alyxandra Harvey from Asher @Paranormal Indulgence and Bloomsbury USA

Sorry I didn't post a review this week guys :( If you were on of the lucky 3 people who saw my Tempest review today, then yays for you! For everyone else, I'm posting it on Monday since I like spacing out my posts and hate posting twice on the same day... I'm strange like that, thanks for putting up with my crazy!

What did you get in your mailbox this week? :D

January 24, 2012

2012 Debut Author Challenge

Yeah this post is really late... but I'm doing the 2012 Debut Author Challenge, hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren!

The Debut Author Challenge is where you try to read and review 12 books by debut authors :)  This will be my first year participating even though this is the 4th year for the challenge.

There's even a Goodreads page where you can see what everyone else is reading in for the challenge and you can update the debuts you've read this year :)

If you want more info, click here!  And you can sign up here!

My goal is to read at least 12 YA debuts... yeah I'm lame for only doing the minimum, but I'll try to read more than 12 :)

Here's some I'm hoping on reading:

Italicized titles means I've read and reviewed them!

Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Tempest by Julie Cross *Review*
Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
Undeadly by Michele Vail
When the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen
Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins
Illuminate by Aimee Agresti
Struck by Jennifer Bosworth
Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang
Crewel by Jennifer Albin
Venom by Fiona Paul

There are a ton of debut authors with books that already came out this month that I didn't include because I didn't want all of the books to be from January lol...  I probably won't be able to read all of these, but excited to see what the debut authors of 2012 bring :)

Are you participating in DAC?  What are some books by debut authors that you're looking forward to? :)  And since this is my first 2012 reading challenge, are there more I should participate in? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments :)

January 21, 2012

In My Mailbox (17)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme started by Kristi from The Story Siren where bloggers can share what books they've received and what they're planning on reviewing.
All of these books I got on Tuesday... which made Tuesday a euphoric day in April-land.

I won:
A Million Suns by Beth Revis from Megan @Amythest Daydreams and Secret of the Stars
ARC of The Savage Grace by Bree Despain from Egmont USA (FB page)
ARC of Tempest by Julie Cross from Amber @The Musings of ALMYBNENR
Delirium by Lauren Oliver from hosts of Best I've Read 2011 and HarperCollins

I bought:
Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer (and went to her signing! Which was super awesome! Squee, love her <3)


Sadly, I didn't get that many books this week. I got two and they were soooo good!

This week from Erika at Moonlight Book Reviews:

                                           What did you get in your mailbox this week? :)

January 20, 2012

Review: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1) by Maureen Johnson
Format: Hardcover, 372 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mystery
Published September 29, 2011 by Putnam Juvenile
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Summary from Goodreads:

The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Soon "Rippermania" takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn't notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.
This was one of those books that I really wanted to love, but didn't.  It was a good book, and I definitely enjoyed it, but I wish it had a bit more... oomph.  Something that could have changed it from an okay-good-read book to an OMGTHISISSOAMAZINGILOVEITTODEATH book.

I liked the whole Jack the Ripper mystery that went on throughout the book, it was one of the main reasons why I wanted to read the book in the first place.  I'm one of those geeks who can spend hours watching the History Channel so I really appreciated all the research that went into this book.  And it was a good mystery book that kept me second guessing at the clues the 'Ripper' would leave behind and what not.

What I enjoyed most from this book is the writing voice.  This was my first Maureen Johnson book (and definitely not my last) but I loved how much the characters and writing had Maureen's quirkiness that I've come to love from stalking following her on twitter.  Maureen is very clever and funny online, and her book is no different.  I kind of want to say it's eccentric, but it's mostly unique and very original.

The Name of the Star has a fantastic cast of characters who are all quirky and fun to read.  Although they made me laugh and I generally liked them as characters, I kind of wish they had more depth... or that we got to know them better... This was a mainly plot driven book in my opinion, which is great, but really love getting to know the characters in a book... and I felt like it didn't really happen with this book.

Overall, I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped, but I think this book is worth a read if you are a fan of Maureen's other books or Jack the Ripper-esque mysteries.  And because it ends on a little cliffhanger, I'm curious enough to read the next book in this series.  :)

January 17, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (3)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser is from Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton :)

"But a dozen feet away, the bird fell from the sky. Its bones shattered, and feathers scattered out, dry as dead leaves."

-Page 64
If I gave the context I may be spoiling it... but it's very dark and morbid. I like :)

January 14, 2012

In My Mailbox (16)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme started by Kristi from The Story Siren where bloggers can share what books they've received and what they're planning on reviewing.
After a couple weeks of empty mailboxes, I actually had a really good mail week this week :)

I won:
Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare from Rachael @Rachael Allen Writes
*The Fault in Our Stars by John Green from Rachel @Fiktshun
ARC of Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi from Rani @The Perks of Being a Bookseller
Radiance and Shimmer by Alyson Noel from Ann @Annabell's Book Nook

*I wanted to mention I technically didn't win The Fault in Our Stars from Rachel.  I don't know if I should go into details or not but she offered to get me a book even when she really didn't have to. She is seriously one of the nicest people ever, on top of being one of the best bloggers ever.  She's probably creeped out by how much I stalk her blog, but you should definitely check it out!

What did you get in your mailbox this week? :)

January 12, 2012

Review: How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
Format: Hardcover, 341 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary/Realistic Fiction
Published October 18, 2011 by Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
Rating 5+ out of 5
Summary from Goodreads:

Jill MacSweeny just wishes everything could go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she's been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends--everyone who wants to support her. And when her mom decides to adopt a baby, it feels like she's somehow trying to replace a lost family member with a new one.

Mandy Kalinowski understands what it's like to grow up unwanted--to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, one thing she's sure of is that she wants a better life for her baby. It's harder to be sure of herself. Will she ever find someone to care for her, too?

As their worlds change around them, Jill and Mandy must learn to both let go and hold on, and that nothing is as easy--or as difficult--as it seems.

Critically acclaimed author and National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr delivers a heart-wrenching story, told from dual perspectives, about the many roads that can lead us home.
If you don't know what the 5+ out of 5 rating means, that means it's probably one of my favorites of the year or of all time.  (I believe I stole the 5+ idea from the awesome Ficticious Delicious blog).  So yeah, I really really really loved this book.

First off, this book was NOTHING like what I expected.  SO MUCH better than what I expected.  So with the title, I went into this book thinking it would be about suicide.  After reading the synopsis, I thought it would be one of those typical teen pregnancy books.  This book was neither of these things.  This was a story of two very different teenage girls who both find love in family and their place in a world that frankly, sucks.

The story started off a little slow, but once I became more attached to the characters, I couldn't stop reading.  I literally read this 300 something page book in one sitting.  I know people say that all the time, but this NEVER happens to me.  I maybe got up once to pee/eat or something, but besides that I couldn't tear my eyes away from this book.

Jill lives in a typical middle class home with her mother, but her father's death has affected her life so much she's isolated herself from her friends and has grown slightly bitter about life.  Out of Jill and Mandy, Jill felt like the more relatable, rebellious teenage girl who grows up in a typical home.  Mandy lived with her mother and whatever boyfriend her mother would have at the time.  In the flashbacks, Mandy's mother made me SO MAD how she was always putting down Mandy, and always saying things like "Girls act like this... girls act like that...".  Once Mandy realizes she's pregnant, she decides that she wants to keep the baby and get away from her old life.  She is letting Jill's mother to adopt the baby, so until the baby is born, Mandy goes to live with Jill and her mother.  And that is where the book begins.

Admittedly, this is a very character-y book rather than plot-y, so I'm mostly talking about the characters. I really love the alternating POVs, both Mandy and Jill felt so real to me and although they both annoyed me a bit at first, I grew to love both of them.  These girls are so different and grew up in such different backgrounds, but I  definitely identified with both of them.  I felt their joy and I felt their pain.  Now that I think about it, it's a little weird.  But good weird, definitely good.  I can only imagine what reading would be like if I felt like this for every character I read.

Of the two girls, Mandy was my favorite.  Although I legitimately thought she was crazy at first, once I got to know about her and her background I realized how wrong I was.  Mandy was a truly sweet and strong character, I loved seeing her grow throughout the novel.  Even after everything she had been through, she still trusted people and didn't give up, and wanted a better future for her child than the one she knew she couldn't give it.

I was very satisfied with the ending.  It's crazy how much I wanted these non-existent people to be happy after all the grief they've experienced.  I loved how both Mandy and Jill come to terms with their struggles and eventually find peace and comfort.  I realize that my incompetence through this review makes this book sound really lame, but I just cannot express how awesome it is!

Sara Zarr writes a beautiful, raw, and poignant story in How to Save a Life, and I highly recommend this book to everyone!  Whether you're a guy or girl, young or not so young (maybe best for not too young), like contemp or not, like books or not, etc.  I dare you to try not to become emotionally attached to the story and it's characters.  This was my first Sara Zarr book, but now I know she is such a GENIUS writer I will be sure to read ANYTHING she writes now!

January 10, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday (2)

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and Bookish blog!
This week's topic is authors you wish would write another book.  Whether they're on hiatus, debut authors, or classic authors who you wish wrote another book before they died. :)

If it turns out any of these authors are still writings books, please let me know! :)

Top Ten Authors I Wish Would Write Another Book:

1.  J.K. Rowling
I know she has made enough money off Harry Potter to build a house out of money, cover the furniture in money, and swim in her swimming pool made out of money.  And she has technically worked on things like Pottermore, Beedle the Bard, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and other things.  I have this conspiracy theory where I think she is writing a new book with all her writing tweets.  Or I'm just a little optimistic.

*Edit* I've been informed that she is working on an adult book, and possibly a children's book in the future :)

2. Suzanne Collins
I once noticed her Gregor the Overlander books in the library in the kids section and got really excited, I may have to read them for myself someday.  But I'm crossing my fingers she'll write another YA book someday :)

3. Kristin Cashore

Yes, Bitterblue is coming out May 1st this year... which I am super excited for.  I've heard nothing but good things about it :)  But I'm really hoping she's planning on writing more books after The Seven Kingdoms series ends.

4. The Brontë Sisters

See, I even used the fancy ë for you guys.  Admittedly, I haven't read any of Anne's books, but I wanted to include her.  I really heart Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, so how cool would it be if they could rise from the dead and write more?  Especially Emily since Wuthering Heights was her only book I believe. #zombieauthors

5. Jane Austen

Yeah, lots of girly classic literature going on here... but how awesome would it be if she wrote more books? And yes, for all these classic authors, I admit I haven't read all their books... but when I do... I will be sad there are no more :(  Unless... #zombieauthors

6. John Steinbeck

For some reason a lot of people I know don't like him, but I've really enjoyed his works he's written that I've already read (The Pearl, Of Mice and Men, East of Eden).  (I'm literally the only person I know who enjoyed The Pearl).  He has a lot more stuff that he's written that I haven't read, but I really enjoyed East of Eden which he wrote towards the end of his life, so I'm just curious what else he could've written.

7. Mark Twain
So the only book I've read from him is Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and a couple short pieces/essays... but I think he is one of America's most hilarious authors, and I really like satire in general. :) I also would really like for him to rewrite the ending of Huck Finn... all I could think was, what the huck?! #cheesypuns #zombieauthors #promiseimdone

8. Cassandra Clare
This one is a little different.  Cassandra Clare definitely has plenty of books lined up for a good couple of years.  While I love The Mortal Instruments series, and I thought The Internal Devices was a cool spinoff, The Dark Artifices seems like... too much.  I would LOVE it if Clare wrote a new book outside of the shadowhunter world, as much as I will miss them.  I've read her short stories in anthologies like Geektastic and Zombies vs. Unicorns so I'm curious about what else she can do. :)

Sorry I could only come up with 8 :P If I think of more, I'll add them later!

January 9, 2012

In My Mailbox (15)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme started by Kristi from The Story Siren where bloggers can share what books they've received and what they're planning on reviewing.
Hey guys! It's been so long! I haven't written a post since last year! (haha bet you haven't heard that one yet :P )

Anyway, I was just tooo excited to wait till later to post this IMM. Because, I finally have enough things to make up an entire IMM! (and for no reason trying to show up April's IMM....)

Okay, so today in the mail today, I got:

Swag. Be jealous of my swag.

The Vanish and Firelight mini little poster looking things are postcards.

I got two book marks: Nightspell and a signed (?) bookmark of imaginary girls.

I got three stickers: One big one of Incarnate. A little one of Incarnate which says One Fleeting Life and A Firelight sticker.

I got tatoos from A Daughter of Smoke and Bones

To top it off, I got a hand made bracelet!

And that's only the swag. Book wise, my package came with:

An ARC copy of Shatter Me:
And Eragon and Eldest in paperback, like these:
Only without the box.

And I won all this at Dot Hutchinson blog Scattered Pages and would love to thank her for hosting the giveaway.

But that's not all I got. Over the break, or just a little before then, I got this poster in the mail.

Beautiful, isn't it? It also came with a Hunger Games bookmark that looks just like this:
 I got these from Lisa via twitter: (@Dizneeee) (her blog: Dizneeee's Wonderful World of Books) She saw my plea for one on my twitter account and sent it to me! She's like my fairy godmother and I love her for it!!!

Now I am finally done. Guess you can see why I was so excited to share all this with you guys.

So what's in your mailbox this week?


January 7, 2012

In My Mailbox (14)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme started by Kristi from The Story Siren where bloggers can share what books they've received and what they're planning on reviewing.
Hello 2012!  I'm sorry I haven't really been keeping up with IMM over the holidays, but honestly... I only got one book.  I try to do IMM posts with at least 2 books, but I decided to just go ahead and post it this week :P

Over the holidays I won:
ARC of The Death Cure by James Dashner from Julia @That Hapa Chick

What did you get in your mailbox this week? :)

January 6, 2012

Review: Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

Sweetly (Fairy Tale Retellings #2) by Jackson Pearce
Format: Hardcover, 312 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Supernatural
Published August 23, 2011 by Little Brown
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

My Rating: 5 out of 5
Goodreads Summary:

SWEETLY is a modernization of Hansel and Gretel and a companion book to SISTERS RED.

Twelve years ago, Gretchen, her twin sister, and her brother went looking for a witch in the forest. They found something. Maybe it was a witch, maybe a monster, they aren’t sure—they were running too fast to tell. Either way, Gretchen’s twin sister was never seen again.

Years later, after being thrown out of their house, Gretchen and Ansel find themselves in Live Oak, South Carolina, a place on the verge of becoming a ghost town. They move in with Sophia Kelly, a young and beautiful chocolatier owner who opens not only her home, but her heart to Gretchen and Ansel.

Yet the witch isn’t gone—it’s here, lurking in the forests of Live Oak, preying on Live Oak girls every year after Sophia Kelly’s infamous chocolate festival. But Gretchen is determined to stop running from witches in the forest, and start fighting back. Alongside Samuel Reynolds, a boy as quick with a gun as he is a sarcastic remark, Gretchen digs deeper into the mystery of not only what the witch is, but how it chooses its victims. Yet the further she investigates, the more she finds herself wondering who the real monster is, and if love can be as deadly as it is beautiful.
I believe I may have a new Jackson Pearce favorite.

Admittedly, she's only published 3 books (that I know of) but even though they're all fabulous in their own way, I really really really loved this one.  It's one of those rare books when I really had no idea where it would go, kept me second guessing, and the conclusion was 100% satisfying.

Sweetly is the second book in the Fairy Retelling series after Sisters Red.  Although there is a completely new protagonist and storyline, you see some familiar names and creatures from Sisters Red.  Pearce creates a world and story that you think you already know, and then changes it into something more beautiful than the original, and yet still recognizable.  And not gonna lie, the candy descriptions had me drooling lol.

Often with Young Adult books these days, I feel like the main focus on the book is the romance.  There is nothing wrong with this, in fact I ADORE books with romance and swoony boys (I'm a teenage girl, sue me).  But I thought it was very refreshing that in Sweetly the romance was a little off to the side, and the growth of Gretchen's character and self confidence was front and center.  Gretchen starts off as a meek girl who is controlled by her fear of the past and the unknown, to an independent, bold, and adventurous young woman.

What I loved most about Sweetly was how the author doesn't paint Sophie as an outright, evil villain; even though being a chocolatier, she falls in the "evil witch" role of this fairytale.  Throughout the book, I was always wondering whether she was genuinely sweet, or was it all an act.  I loved how she, and all the other characters, are all multi-dimensional and dynamic and change throughout the book.

I cannot really express how much I loved the ending without spoiling it... but I really loved it.  It was satisfying, but bittersweet.  I was a little sad to let these characters go, but to sum it up, the ending had everything I look for in an ending.  It also redefined my definition of happily ever after.

I am eagerly waiting for Jackson Pearce's future works, and she is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.  As a slightly irrelevant note, Jackson Pearce is also hilarious on Youtube and Twitter, and she is giving away an ARC of Purity when her video about the loneliest whale in the world reaches 5,000 views, so you should go check out her and her books :)

January 4, 2012

Cover Reveal: City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

You probably already know City of Lost Souls is the highly anticipated 5th book in The Mortal Instruments series.  It comes out May 8th and is being published by Margaret K. McEldery.

Even though I'm not much of a Jace fan (sorry, don't shoot me...  Karina is if that makes things better) I very much approve of cover Jace.  I'm glad they continued having two people on the cover to match City of Fallen Angels, I'm guessing the next book will have two people on it as well.  And I LOVE the grayish background, all the colors on the cover match! Matching colors make April happy :)

You can go to this link to see the original source of the cover reveal and even read the prologue of City of Lost Souls!  *hugs Simon*

 What do you think? Does it live up to the other covers in the series? Let us know in the comments :)