Friday, August 31, 2012

Book Review: Entice by Jessica Shirvington

SUMMARY: Violet Eden is Grigori - part angel, part human. Her destiny is to protect humans from the vengeance of exiled angels. 

Knowing who to trust is key but, when Grigori reinforcements arrive, it becomes clear everyone is hiding something. Even Lincoln. The only thing Violet does know: Phoenix's hold over her is more dangerous than ever. 


The race to find the one thing that could tilt the balance of power brings them all to the sacred mountains of Jordan, where Violet's power will be pushed to the extreme. And the ultimate betrayal exposed.



OPINION:

This series falls under the "book crack" category. Despite the problems with them, despite the fact that they are so frustrating and even overdramatic at times, there is something so addicting about them. They are so hard to put down, and also leave me feeling satisfied. Admittedly, I do feel like they are too hormone/lust driven, and rely too much on jealousy for the main momentum behind the character's choices. Still, I love the angel lore Shirvington has pulled into these, and particularly in Entice, the depths of everything that is shown, and the new characters we meet.

Despite how they get on my nerves a little too often, I love the cast. With some new characters introduced this time, each with a strong personality of their own, and some interesting abilities thrown into the mix, readers get to see not only more of the Grigori world but who Violet is as well. Her character continues to grow, even with some faults and kick backs of her own still happening, making her very relatable. She continues to be headstrong, and determined to take care of herself, even at the expense of herself. There is something so likeable about Violet, even when she's making me want to hit her a little. Then there's a new boy named Spence, who is quite possibly my favorite character, with his wit and charm and trouble-making ways, second only to Phoenix, the brooding, basically bad guy who I still hold out hope isn't all bad.

While I did feel like the "big twist" with this one was obvious, the build up to it and the ways it happened are well executed and thought out, lack of secret aside. There are some great elements pulled into this one, and Shirvington does a fabulous job of keeping her angels and exiles in a more gray category, rather than purely good or purely bad. Shirvington keeps the pacing up in this installment, having several story lines weaving throughout, and tying many of them up despite the cliffhanger ending. One of my favorite elements of this book, apart from the intricacies to some of the plot details, is the specifics of Violet's power we get to see, particularly in the way she's forced to expand and hone her skills. Add in the easy to fall into writing with a great flow to it, and Entice hits the spot.

Details:
Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review 
Reading level: Ages 13 and up 
Hardcover: 464 pages 
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire 
Publication Date: September 4, 2012

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Meet Wes from Embers & Echoes + Contest


 Out this week is Embers and Echoes, the second book in Karsten Knight's Wildefire series, and to celebrate, I've got a little sneak peak at the book, and more importantly, at a brand new character who shoes up in this installment! His name is Wes, and he's definitely Boy Closet material. So as if the amazing plot, already awesome character, ohmygodWHAT ending of Wildefire, and the stunning writing weren't enough to run out and grab Embers and Echoes, there's this guy:


The suited man slapped the prisoner’s face lightly. “Oye, amigo,” the man said to Wes. “All I want to know is why you were snooping around Mrs. Vanderbilt’s boat like a little bloodhound before we caught you.”

“Mrs. Vanderbilt’s boat?” Wes said with mock surprise. “Shit, I thought I’d climbed aboard a Disney cruise.”

His interrogator actually laughed. “You’re a funny man, stranger.” He slipped on a pair of brass knuckles he’d taken from his pocket. “It almost pains me to have to knock some seriousness into you.”

He turned fast and slammed his armored fist into Wes’s stomach. With a spasm of pain the boy’s body convulsed upward into a macaroni shape before gravity ironed him back out into a straight line.
“Okay, okay...but first...” Wes wheezed between breaths. “Just...answer me...one question.”

The man leaned closer so he could hear the boy.

Wes cocked his head upward. “How long...did it take you...to grow...that mustache?”



That's the first time Ash gets to meet Wes... and also a pretty darn good display of just the kind of guy he is. I mean, what's a little interrogation without some humor, even if it means getting punched more?

Embers and Echoes is on shelves now, so trust me when I say you do not want to miss this one. 

Want more of Karsten? Find him on twitter or his website, and you can find out all the details about Embers and Echoes on Goodreads.

You can find out all the blog tour details and meet Lucy here, and for those of you wanting even more of these characters, meet Aurora and Thorne, and tomorrow you can get a look at Ash and oh so sexy Wes together here.


To celebrate Karsten's release, we've got 2 sets of his books up for grabs! Enter below, but please only enter once - this form is the same on the blogs participating in his release celebration. US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Author Guest Post: Gretchen McNeil

Dropping in today is Gretchen McNeil, author of Possess and the upcoming thriller Ten, to talk about what exactly makes something scary.



What is scary?

Is it a giant spider lurking under you bed, just waiting for you to crawl in before it silently creeps out into the darkness of your room to envelope you in it's deadly web?

Is it a waking up to find yourself buried alive in a close, black coffin, utterly sightless in the dark, the only sound a muted thud of shovelful after shovelful of dirt as it's tossed onto your living tomb?

Is it a darkened stretch of forest you must walk through that seems to breathe with living creatures that dart and flutter just out of sight?

Is it getting a flat tire on a deserted mountain road, where the nearest structure for fifty miles is a dilapidated farmhouse that appears to have no phone, cable or electricity lines, just a trickle of smoke rising from a toppling brick chimney?

So many different levels of scary. The things we fear most come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from the physical – like spiders and sharks – to the esoteric – like claustrophobia and paranoia – to the otherworldly – like demons and vampires and witches (oh my!).

When I wrote POSSESS, I chose something that I actually found terrifying – demonic possession – and tried to convey that terror to readers who might not have the same sensibilities. In TEN, I wrote about something I don't intrinsically find scary – being trapped on an island with a killer, but also tried to portray the tension and horror. To me, conveying fear isn't just about describing a situation, object, or person that someone might find scary, but giving a blow-by-blow of the event and actually detailing the fear reaction in the characters.

We all know exactly what it feels like to be scared. First you have the anticipation: What's behind that closed door? What's making that scratching noise in the attic? What's lurking in the deep, dark waters? It's the tensing of muscles like you're expecting a blow, that stretching of all your senses, trying to see/feel/hear/smell danger before it pounces on you. The higher the tension is pitched, the bigger the wallop.

Next, the reveal. The door opens to expose a dead body that spills out on top of our poor heroine the moment she turns the doorknob. The scratching noise in the attic inexplicably moves through the ceiling, down the stairs and manifests in a dark, demonic entity. The dorsal fin of a great white shark breaks the surface of the water in which you're swimming. The terror has been revealed in one jarring, scream-inducing moment!

But that's not scary enough, not for the expectant reader. You need the next step in the process – experiencing the fear through the eyes of the main character. We need to feel their bodies tremble as they break out into a cold sweat. We need to hear the blood-curdling scream that explodes from their mouths. We need to internalize the sick, sinking feeling in their stomachs as death closes in around them.

And lastly, the action. Our heroine's panicked flee from the house, our hero's desperate attempt to out maneuver a man-eating shark. Will they survive? Will they escape? Hearts pound in anticipation with every turn of the page!!!!

What it is scary?

The answer, I think, is anything. If you tell it right. ;)


So what do you guys think, is Gretchen right? Judging by the books she's written, both with a great creep factor to them, I'd say she definitely knows what she's talking about. Ten is the perfect kind of thriller that gets in your head, and keeps you on your toes. Also, there's hot boys. Yay.

Ten is hitting shelves September 18, so make sure you check it out! You can find the full book info on Goodreads (and add it to your shelf!) as well as find out more about Gretchen (and all the ways you can stalk, I mean contact her) at her website or twitter! And be sure you check out all the tour stops Gretchen is doing, leading up to Ten's release!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Character Interview: Quinn from If I Lie

Today I've got Quinn, the main character from Corrine Jackson's (utterly breathtaking) debut If I Lie stopping in to answer some questions!


What's your favorite photograph you've ever taken?

Hm. There’s one of George that I love. He’s interviewing Don Baruth, though the focus is entirely on George’s face, wrinkles and all. That’s the great thing about George. He’s not afraid of wrinkles. I can’t remember what Don was telling him when I took the picture, but I know it must have been horrible because George looks so sad that I want to hug him every time I see that picture. It's honest.

If you could say one thing to your dad, what would it be?

Do you still love me even a little? Nothing. What good would it do?

Despite the fact that it was the kiss that caused so much trouble for you, what's it like to kiss Blake?

Oh, geez. Is he going to read this? Because he will never let me forget this. Can I make something up? No? Okay, honest answer. Here it is. *takes a deep breath* *opens mouth* *hesitates* No, I can’t do it. The truth is I don’t talk about these things. It’s too private. Okay, I will say this. Imagine someone kissing you with their eyes open, really seeing you, faults and all. Focusing on just you. Caring about you and wanting you because they like everything that makes you YOU. That’s what kissing Blake is like. Heat infinity.

What's your best memory with Carey?

Carey is so interwoven into my life that it’s hard for me to pick one memory. He’s a part of me. He’s been there through every important thing that’s ever happened to me. Even through a lot of unimportant ones. If I was to pick a good memory, though, it would be a silly, nothing moment. A lazy Saturday afternoon when we were sitting around his backyard. His parents were wandering from the kitchen to the back patio, getting ready to barbecue lunch. Carey and I were in the pool – the above ground kind, mind you because no way could his family afford the other kind – and we drifted on rafts, while we talked about our future and daydreamed about what it would be like. Carey smiled a lot that day, and he held my hand to keep me anchored. We floated and floated, and I was happy.

What kind of shoe would you describe yourself as?

A good pair of leather riding boots. Sturdy. Strong. Purposeful.



Thank you, Quinn, and congrats, Corrine.

If I Lie hits shelves today, so make sure you pick it up. This one is totally emotional and gutting, but so stunning and provoking. Definitely one of my favorites for this year! Also, this is one of my favorite covers, so between the two, admit it, you want this one.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Author Interview: Michelle Gagnon

Dropping in today is Don't Turn Around author Michelle Gagnon to discuss her new book, her writing process, and dinosaurs.


What would you do if you found yourself strapped to a bed with an IV in your arm, and no memory of how you got there?

I’m prone to freaking out, so the first few minutes would definitely be spent having a good old fashioned panic attack. After I finished hyperventilating, I’d like to think that I’d have the presence of mind to remove the IV and get the heck out of there, but doubt that I would have been as self-possessed about it as my heroine, Noa.

Which character did you enjoy writing the most?

Hmm, that’s tough—like trying to choose a favorite child. And since I have both a hero and heroine in the story, I’d feel terribly guilty picking between them. But as far as the supporting cast goes, I love Cody—he’s so sweet, and the way he comes through for Peter, serving as a surrogate brother for him, was lovely. A few of the characters who basically have walk-on roles were a lot of fun to write, too—especially Otis (the geeky college student who helps Noa in the library) and Pam (Cody’s downtrodden downstairs neighbor).

What was your drafting and revising process like for Don't Turn Around?

This book basically wrote itself—even with the hacking and medical research involved, I tore through the rough draft, finishing it in about eight weeks. Of course, it was very rough at that stage, and my incredible editor Karen Chaplin provided notes that helped me hone in on what worked and what didn’t. All in all, it was a relatively smooth process—after her initial notes I did a fairly heavy revision, then another one that was mainly tweaks. After that, all that remained was to review the copy-edits and line edits (and the Harper copy-editing team was phenomenal, their attention to detail really blew me away!)

If you could pair Noa and Peter with any character from any book, who would you pick for each?

Another tough one! Okay…I think that Peter would get along really well with Alex from Katie Crouch’s Magnolia League series. Despite their different upbringings, they both have a laid back approach to life and a wacky sense of humor. Noa’s the tricky one, since she doesn’t generally play well with others. But I think that she and Perry from Veronica Rossi’s UNDER THE NEVER SKY would really understand each other.

What kind of dinosaur would you describe yourself as? 

An alligator, because they refused to become extinct when the rest of their species perished. I’m all about perseverance.

Thanks, Michelle, for stopping in!

Want to know more about Don't Turn Around? Check it out on Goodreads and add it to your shelf! And be sure to find Michelle over at Reading Lark for another interview!


Friday, August 24, 2012

Book Review: Glass Heart by Amy Garvey

SUMMARY: Wren can do things that other people can only dream of. Make it snow on a clear, crisp day. Fly through an abandoned tunnel. Bring a paper bird to life.

Wren knows her abilities are tinged with danger—knows how easy it is to lose control—but she can't resist the intoxicating rush. And now that she has Gabriel by her side, someone who knows what she can do—what she has done—she finally feels free to be herself.

But as Wren explores the possibilities of her simmering powers, Gabriel starts pushing her away. Telling her to be careful. Telling her to stop. The more he cautions her, the more determined Wren becomes to prove that she can handle things on her own. And by the time she realizes that Gabriel may be right, it could be too late to bring him back to her side.



OPINION:

I have to admit, this one let me down in some ways. A little too focused on the romance, this one didn’t have quite the same emotional pull as Cold Kiss. Still, I enjoyed seeing more of Wren, and appreciate the new twists thrown into this one.

I like Wren. I think she’s a great character, and I feel for her with her struggles over her magic. Taught to hide it, and scared in some ways to use it, she is also curious and wanting to know more. Wren is the right mix of obedient and defiant, and while I felt like the changes she went through in Cold Kiss didn’t necessarily transfer to this one, it was also great to see her more into things now that she’s put Danny to rest, both figuratively and literally. She just has something about her that makes me want to side with her and root for her, and her development in this book takes some big strides.

One complaint I do have about this book is how much I felt like the main idea was to just find ways to keep Wren and Gabriel apart. From little arguments to new friends, the problems that arose between these two felt too convenient and even contrived. Though I want to say I love these two together, in some ways, honestly, I kind of don’t, at least not after this installment. Gabriel is too protective, too sure that what he thinks is right, and that’s where I find fault. Wren is understandably torn between what she wants, and making things nice with him again, and I admit, I didn’t always get why Gabriel was being stubborn. The focus on their relationship, in the face of everything else, didn’t sit quite right with me.

Apart from that, however, I enjoyed the new things Garvey has thrown into this one. Letting both Wren and readers find out more not only about her magic, but the bigger world of magic, and taking some dark turns as well, Glass Heart pulls in some good elements. Giving more substance behind the notion of her magic being dangerous, and having some pretty wrenching scenes, this one takes some known elements and blends to something new. With the same quietly engaging writing as before, and some great descriptions, Glass Heart is a good, quick read.


Details:
Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review 
Reading level: Ages 13 and up 
Hardcover: 320 pages 
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: September 18, 2012

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Book Review: Come See About Me by CK Kelly Martin

SUMMARY: Twenty-year-old Leah Fischer's been in a state of collapse since the moment police arrived on her Toronto doorstep to inform her that boyfriend Bastien was killed in a car accident. After flunking out of university and cutting herself off from nearly everyone she knows, Leah's saved by Bastien's aunt who offers her a rent-free place to stay in a nearby suburban town.

Initially Leah keeps to herself, with no energy for anyone or anything else, but it's not long before her nurturing neighbours begin to become fixtures in Leah's life and a much needed part-time job forces her to interact with other members of the community. And when Leah is faced with another earth-shattering event, her perspective on life begins to shift again. Soon Leah's falling into a casual sexual relationship with Irish actor Liam Kellehan, who has troubles of his own, even as she continues to yearn for her dead boyfriend. Clearly she's not the person she thought she was—and maybe Liam isn't either.



OPINION:

Though a little slow to start, Come See About Me is a sexy but sorrowful book that beautifully captures what it’s like to be stuck in a grief state. Delving into some big questions in a way that happens between the lines, this one makes you think while still letting you just enjoy the ride. With Martin’s stunning and emotional writing, and a protagonist who is the right amount of messy, Come See About Me captured me.

Leah is an incredibly relatable girl, one who had so much going for her and was happy with her place in life, until an accident changed all that. Now, months later, she is still actively grieving her boyfriend’s death in a way that makes her basically nonfunctional. With family and friends who aren’t quite as understanding anymore, and frustrations clearly starting to rise, just how lost Leah feels is beautifully captured. As the book progresses, she starts to come out of the fog, but in a way that she doesn’t realize, and doesn’t necessarily react to either. There is something so quietly intriguing about Leah, and I was rooting for her the entire time.

Then there’s Liam, the boy who throws Leah for a loop in some unexpected ways. Their casual sex relationship adds not only heat but emotion to the story, and Martin weaves this element in so seamlessly. It’s easy to see why a girl would fall for Liam, and even easier to see why she would still guard herself against him. The way Leah compared Liam to Bastien, and the stark differences between the two, go far to not only drive the growing relationship but also let readers understand both Leah and Liam’s mentalities towards everything. These two interact in some great ways, and for better or worse, they make an amazing couple.


The first chunk of this book chronicles not only big points in Leah’s relationship with Bastien, but the way she let everything fall apart after his death. Possibly staying stuck in this foggy state a little too long, the start of this book did feel slow. Still, there was something enamoring about Leah, and the hope for something more for her also kept me going. Once things picked up, they stayed well paced, and Martin blends all the best elements of grief and romance based novels to create something great. From exploring how to welcome someone new into your life while remaining respectful to not only what you lost but the family who lost as well, to letting go of everything and diving right into something new and scary, Martin does a beautiful job of showing just how much confusing remains even after the teen years are over.

Details:
Source: Ebook received from author in exchange for honest review 
Print Length: 242 pages
Reading Level: New Adult
Publication Date: June 6, 2012


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Book Review: Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

SUMMARY:

BIG GIRLS DON'T CRY...
THEY GET EVEN.

Lillia has never had any problems dealing with boys who like her. Not until this summer, when one went too far. No way will she let the same thing happen to her little sister.

Kat is tired of the rumours, the insults, the cruel jokes. It all goes back to one person– her ex-best friend– and she's ready to make her pay.

Four years ago, Mary left Jar Island because of a boy. But she's not the same girl anymore. And she's ready to prove it to him.

Three very different girls who want the same thing: sweet, sweet revenge. And they won't stop until they each had a taste.


OPINION:

Quietly thrilling and emotionally intense, Burn for Burn is breathtaking and poignant. Though the ending felt too abrupt for me, there is a strong drive behind this one that will grab readers from page one and refuse to let go. Beautifully weaving together three different stories, and having an almost trainwreck sort of feel to it, Burn for Burn is a stunning exploration of friendship and revenge.

Each girl has her own distinctions, and reasons to be involved in the whole revenge thing. Though individually, each reasons might not necessarily be strong enough, when combined with everything else in each girl’s life, but especially when meshed all together, there is an easy to understand nature to the motivations. From Lillia, who is holding some rough secrets of her own and will do anything to protect her sister from enduring what she has, to Kat who just wants to be left alone from the teasing and jokes, to Mary who has a years old vendetta to settle that drove her to her own breaking point, these girls are individually unsure yet powerful when combined.

There is a slight air of mystery that is infused into this book, centering around not only the specifics for why each girl wants to enact revenge, but also related to those around them, which adds a great element to the book without being the sole driving force. The planning for each step of the revenge plans, and the play out especially, are expertly woven in and handled, building to a powerful climax that will leave readers stunned. More than that, though, what really stands this book out is the way the girls sometimes have moments of second guessing, of being unsure, yet also being almost locked into this deal they’ve made and sense of camaraderie that drives them. It’s painful to read their mindsets at times, but also painful to see the damage they are wreaking. Readers will definitely have their emotions tested to the limits with this one.

The writing is smooth, with a distinct mindset to each girl. Though the voices sometimes felt a little overlapped, that comes off more as simply being the style more than anything else. Each girl’s home life and history are set up and woven into the story, and as things become more intricate, all of this is only intensified. There is a strong pacing, driven by the revenge plot yet also very focused on each of the three girls and how they handle everything. My only real problem with this book is the ending, which felt entirely too sudden, almost like it’s just trying to ensure readers keep going to the next book rather than being a necessarily logical stopping point. Still, apart from this, Burn for Burn is a beautifully scripted, wowing and painful read that will test its readers to the max. There is hints of something supernatural or not quite right in this one, but it’s not at all explored and only shown at a few key points, leaving this book to feel very contemporary. The realism to this one is breathtaking and well thought out, and Burn for Burn is absolutely a book to not be missed.


Details:
Source: Netgalley 
Reading level: Ages 14 and up 
Hardcover: 368 pages 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication Date: September 18, 2012

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cover Reveal: Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Remember how I posted that excerpt last week of Jennifer Lynn Barnes' upcoming book Nobody? Well, now I've got the cover to go with it, and I have to say, I LOVE this cover:


This cover is so striking, and eye catching (no pun intended). I seriously love the sniper type view placed over the eye, and the fog and darkness the face fades into. Not to mention the way the title font itself fades out a bit by the time you reach the Y. So. Basically. Love.

And in case you're still unsure what this book is about, here's the summary:

There are people in this world who are Nobody. No one sees them. No one notices them. They live their lives under the radar, forgotten as soon as you turn away.

That’s why they make the perfect assassins.

The Institute finds these people when they’re young and takes them away for training. But an untrained Nobody is a threat to their organization. And threats must be eliminated.

Sixteen-year-old Claire has been invisible her whole life, missed by the Institute’s monitoring. But now they’ve ID’ed her and send seventeen-year-old Nix to remove her. Yet the moment he lays eyes on her, he can’t make the hit. It’s as if Claire and Nix are the only people in the world for each other. And they are—because no one else ever notices them.



So if you missed it last week, check out the excerpt I posted to get a sneak peek at the book and Claire, and also enter to win a Jennifer Lynn Barnes prize pack, including an ARC of Nobody (contest ends this Friday, so hurry!)

You can also add Nobody to your Goodreads shelf here, and head over to Mundie Moms, who have the official reveal post, along with another way to win the book!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Book Review: Since You Left Me by Allen Zadoff

SUMMARY: Everyone believes in something. Almost everyone.

For Sanskrit Aaron Zuckerman, it isn't easy to believe. Especially when all the people you care about leave.

His Dad left after the divorce. The love of his life left in second grade. His best friend in Jewish school found God and practically left the planet. Now his yoga teacher Mom is falling in love with her spiritual guru, and she’s threatening to leave, too.

In a desperate attempt to keep his family together, Sanskrit tells just one small lie. And for a while it seems to be working. Because people start coming back. Sanskrit might even get the family he always wanted.

There’s just one little thing in his way. The truth.


OPINION:

Hilarious yet with a great depth to it, Since You Left Me blends religion, coming of age, family in a fabulous way. Sanskrit is an awesome character, with an honesty to him that makes him so relatable. With some rougher scenes mixed into an overall funny story, this is one of those books about just generally figuring things out that had me hooked.

Sanskrit cracked me up, from the kind of different but interesting way he saw the world to the stream of consciousness that helped bring the narration to life. A student at a Jewish high school, Sanskrit has sound reasons for why he has trouble with his faith, and some pretty big things testing him throughout the book. There is more to him and the book, however, than his questions about his religion, and each element is blended not only into the book but into his development as well. Sanskrit is so easy to like and root for. I loved this guy, even when he’s less than perfect.

There is a relatively large cast of characters in this one, from the girl Sanskrit wants to date to his sister and mother, as well as a good friend of his, and the guru who really stirs things up, yet Zadoff brings each character to life. The different ways Sanskrit acts with each one beautifully showcases not only who he is but where he’s at in life, without falling into stereotypes or boring interactions. With some deeply emotional scenes mixed into the book, and hitting not only Sanskrit but readers where it hurts the most, this book has a great character element that truly makes it stand out.

This is one of those books that, when picked apart, has an almost unbelievable plot. Though maybe requiring at least some level of suspension of disbelief, there is still a strongly realistic element to this book that is so easy to fall into. Entertaining and fun, yet also a book that will make readers think, Since You Left Me is the best kind of contemporary. The religion part of this book is one of my favorite aspects. Sanskrit struggles with his faith in a way that is not only open and honest, but is far from judgmental, agenda-pushing, or even offensive. But what makes it even better to me is the way Zadoff plays both the way Sanskrit is raised and what he’s been taught off each other. Add in the awesome writing, so to the point yet able to pull the reader right in, and Since You Left Me is a witty twist on feeling out of place and unsure.

Details
Source: TLA 
Reading level: Ages 12 and up 
Hardcover: 320 pages 
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Publication Date: August 28, 2012

Monday, August 13, 2012

Book Review: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

SUMMARY: The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate percentage of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance between her and the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University's Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.



OPINION:

I love dark books and ones with messed up characters, so Beautiful Disaster was right up my alley. Abby and Travis are one of those couples that are pulled to each other, and even have some great moments, yet they also are just not good for each other. And while yeah, these kind of relationships are definitely unhealthy, they fascinate me to read about them. And it started out great, captivating in an inexplicable way, but I admit, the second half of this one left me wanting.

Abby is not so much a formerly bad girl trying to go good, as she is a girl who is trying to escape a bad upbringing and just make it on her own. While I admit, the full details of her life didn’t totally add up to me, and didn’t quite fit for the motivations in the story, it still makes her sympathetic. She also has this great internal drive, one that, at least at the start, puts self preservation first. And this is one gripe I do have about this book: Abby changes, not necessarily for the better, because of Travis. He is a boy who is possessive, and certainly controlling to an extent, and her attraction to him overrides the plan she’s laid out for herself. I know, this really does happen, and McGuire does keep a painful realism through this book, not shying away from harsher things, but it is still hard to read about it, to be so involved in a character who you just can’t get behind their decision. Despite this, McGuire weaves it all together in a captivating way that had me hooked, and even if at times Abby got on my nerves, overall, I really liked her and her story.

Then there’s Travis, a guy who I recognize as overprotective to a fault, yet I admit it, I found the good parts of him to be so amazing. Certainly caring, and not totally selfish, Travis is, in a lot of ways, a boy who’s had a few too much thrown at him in life and never figured out how to cope. Though again, I didn’t totally feel like the reasons McGuire gave were quite enough, I still really enjoyed getting to know Travis, both the good and bad. While I can’t exactly say he goes through tremendous character growth, it is clear his priorities do shift, and his outlook on some things is altered as well.

That’s where this book left me tangled, and honestly, I feel like if a book can twist me like this one, the author is doing something right. Picked apart, there is so much wrong with this book and yet, I loved much of it. I loved the relationship between these two. I was very into just how messed up they were, both alone and together. They have an intensity and passion to them that singes, and McGuire had some fabulous scenes between these two. That's what really got me with this book: the intensity of everything between Travis and Abby. I admit it, he does pretty appalling stuff, and there is a lot against him, and not always enough driving him to change. When you can have a different girl every day, can own it in the fighting ring so you have a steady income, and are basically the big man on campus, what reason would you have to shake it all up? And yet, Abby does gives him reason. She's that girl that gets to him for reasons that he probably doesn't even totally understand himself, and not just because she's a challenge. I love the notion that a single person can make someone want to change, and this book plays on that in a big way without throwing it constantly in the reader's face.

Watching, even through Abby's eyes, the way Travis tries to fight against his attraction for her, tries to let her do what she wants even if he messes it up at times, just got to me. There is a tremendous push and pull between these two, one of those things that starts on the grounds of friendship, and even sort of stays in the friendship realm mostly out of stubbornness, yet there is always something more going on. This is one of those books that is as much about figuring yourself out as it is figuring it out who you are with someone else. In that sense, with the dark layers this book has, it captured me. Yet there is a dark side to even the dark things I love, and for this book, it was the almost extreme that things went to, the danger and fear and co-dependency.

Where it went wrong for me was about halfway through, when the pacing dropped off in a big way. I felt like after about halfway, really, when a pretty big decision is made, things went stagnant and repetitive. Shifting into being entirely too back and forth in a bad way, of we’re together and now we’re not, the second half of this book did not hold up to the entrancement of the first half. Already let down, the ending most definitely left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Honestly, I felt like this was two different books, cut in half and meshed together down the middle. And while I recognize that this book is intended to be a romance, I really did not feel, with who the characters were in the first half, that it should have been that way, at least not in regards to romanticizing such an inherently faulted relationship. Again, I do know this kind of stuff is, sadly, realistic, but it's the notion of a happily ever after that follows all this that doesn't sit well with me.

Still, the first half was so strong, and so engaging for me that this book wasn’t a total waste. I loved the writing, with a strength to it that had me not only really into Abby’s head but emotionally tied as well. Overall, I enjoyed this book, even if it had a few problems that fell short for me. This is one of those books that I can see causing a stir, and I can even see why people might dislike it, but at least for the first half, and some elements of the second half, totally worked for me and had me unable to put it down and go to sleep.

Details:
Source: Netgalley
Reading Level: 17 and up  
Paperback: 432 pages 
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: August 14, 2012

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Authors ARE Rockstars: Courtney Summers


I am beyond thrilled to host one of my favorite authors ever today, as part of the Authors ARE Rockstars tour: Courtney Summers. My first book of hers was Cracked Up to Be, which I really enjoyed and ate at me in the right way. Then I read Some Girls Are, and I was gutted, stunned, and basically a mess. I stayed up way too reading before forcing myself to go to bed, and got up way to early to finish. This is hands down one of my favorite books ever, and has everything that I adore in a book: a strong hook, raw emotions, a less than perfect ending, and absolutely stunning characterization. That book is what really made me love Courtney Summers, and put her as an autobuy author for me, and I have to admit, of all her stuff, this is one is still probably my favorite, because of the depths it goes to, the turns it takes, and just how potent it is.

Her writing gets to me, physically and emotionally. Her books challenge me, make me think, and generally leave me a distraught mess. Her most recent release, This is Not a Test, took a step out of contemporary with zombies... but the thing that I loved most about that book was how realistic it still was, apart from the whole flesh eating zombie thing: the emotions, the character arcs, the determination to live. The fact that Courtney took a girl who was ready to give up, who wanted to die, and put her into a situation surrounded by people who wanted nothing but to live... and did it absolutely amazingly? That is why I think Courtney Summers is an absolute rockstar. She is talented beyond belief, but also, I follow her on twitter, and she is so friendly, so open. She talks to those who talk to her, she is so obviously thankful for her readers, and she is hilarious even on her own. It's that mix of talented author and genuinely nice person that makes her stand out for me.

So now that I've talked about why I think she rocks, let's get to the interview with her!


We think authors are amazing. You are our rockstars. Do you have an author or authors that you look up to or are inspired or amazed by?

I think readers are rockstars, so the feeling is mutual. :) Robert Cormier is a huge source of inspiration for me! I love how his main characters pushed against reader expectations, like in The Chocolate War (and especially its sequel, Beyond The Chocolate War), where no one was the hero, and who you chose to root for kind of said more about you than the book.

What was your inspiration for becoming an author? Your website mentions that you’ve been writing since the ripe old age of one but you didn’t write your first novel until you were eighteen. Would you mind sharing what it was about? And what were the other two novels you wrote that weren’t published about?

Oh, those books. They have been so buried but I can give the vaguest of rundowns... the first was about a twenty-something girl who hated her best friend, the second book was about a twenty-something girl stuck in a small town who may/may not have been in love with her best friend, and the third was about two teenagers who try to break some rules at school and terrible things happen to them and the people they love. They were all pretty bad but they taught me a lot about writing.

You have dabbled in quite a few creative pursuits throughout your life – singing, acting, photography, music – before finally settling on writing. Aside from writing, which was your favorite? And why?
Probably photography, since I still pick up the camera every now and then. I loved it because I loved creating stories, setting up scenes--all reasons I love writing, too.

What is your favorite part about being a writer? Is it creating the characters or world? Is it being able to get lost in your imagination? Or is it something else?
The writing! Which can also be my least favourite thing about it too. :) But there's just something so amazing and exciting and satisfying about having an idea and putting it on paper and seeing how it comes out--because it's never usually exactly how you thought it. At least that's the case for me.

Of all your books, which was your favorite to write? Which was your most challenging? And which is the character you most relate to?
My favourite book is always the one I'm working on. So at some point or another, all of my books have been my favourite. :) All of my books are challenging in their own ways, but branching into a new genre with THIS IS NOT A TEST made for a slightly more nervewracking writing experience than usual. I don't relate to one of my characters more than others--I think I relate to all of them a little. Whether I want to or not!

Most of your books have been contemporary stories. Your latest release, THIS IS NOT A TEST, has a contemporary feel, but it’s much darker (in that it has an end-of-the-world scale) and there are zombies. What inspired you to change up the setting so drastically for this book? What did you most like about the non-realistic element of the zombie apocalypse? What did you find the most difficult part of adding zombies to the mix?
I have always loved zombies so writing about them was always a matter of when and not if for me. I think my favourite thing about exploring the zombie apocalypse was how to make that non-realistic aspect about it feel realistic and true (although it's up to the reader if I pulled that off!). The most difficult part of adding zombies to the mix was letting go of what other people might think. Being a huge zombie fan, I went in wanting to please every zombie fan but it's just not possible to please everyone.

How would you describe THIS IS NOT A TEST in ten words or less?

Six teens trapped in high school during the zombie apocalypse.


This or That questions

Contemporary or Zombie Apocalypse?

Depends on my mood!

Happily ever after or happily never after?

Depends on the story. ;) (I'm cheating, I know!)

Write at night or write during the day?

Night.

Write in silence or write with music?

With music.

Write by hand or write by computer?

Computer!

Love triangle or soul mates?

Neither.

Zombies or Unicorns? 

Zombies!!!!

28 Days Later or 28 Weeks Later?

28 Days! So much better.

Characters: Flawed but redeemable or fatally flawed?

Another cop-out answer: depends on my mood and the story.

In a battle who wins: Zombies or Mean Girls?

Mean girls. Zombies would have no chance.



So there's a look into Courtney, and her books, and how awesome I think she is. If you haven't read her books, trust me, you need to. Her fifth book, All the Rage, is hitting shelves in 2013, so you should join me in the waiting for more from this talented author! 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Excerpt + Prize Pack Giveaway: Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Jennifer Lynn Barnes, the author of the Raised by Wolf series and Every Other Day has a new book hitting shelves January 22, 2013 called Nobody. To celebrate not only the upcoming release, but the reveal of the (amazing) cover happening August 16, I've got a book excerpt for you guys, followed by an amazing contest for a huge JLB prize pack!


If you're just now stumbling onto the Nobody coverage, you can check out the book prologue here, as well as the first part of Chapter One here (and enter at both sites for a contest as well!).

Now without further ado, I give you the rest of Chapter One, and the start of Chapter Two!


Nix’s quarters at the institute were eggshell white and completely bare. The Society’s scientist du jour believed that the less a Nobody was exposed to the outside world, the more potent his powers. Deprive him of all contact with the energy that ran unseen through everyone and everything, and his ability to pass through the world unnoticed increased.

It was the latest in a string of theories that Nix detested.

He was nothing.

Nobody.

Putting something on his walls wasn’t going to change that. It wasn’t going to change him. Who he was. What he could do. Nobodies went through life unable to leave their marks on another person. Maximally unimportant. Metaphysically deficient.
That wasn’t the kind of thing that scientists could understand.

At seventeen, Nix wasn’t the kind of person who had any particular desire to be understood. Most days, he didn’t feel like a person at all.

You’re less than air. Less than shadow.

He put his back to the wall and stopped breathing. He’d learned this lesson so often that it was branded into his mind, the voice in his head a mixture of his trainers’ lectures in stereo.

No matter what you do, no matter where you go, people will always look through you. They will affect you, but you will never affect them.

Nix’s chest began to burn, and with silent, ritualized savagery, he slashed at himself, uneven fingernails carving jagged red lines into his stomach and arms. Beads of sweat rose on his bare skin.

If you let yourself, you could love—but no one will ever love you. Even if they wanted to, they couldn’t. That thing, that intangible thing that other people have that lets them form connections, that lets them matter—

You don’t have it.

You are never going to have it.

Nix began to bleed. Darkness rimmed his line of vision. It wasn’t enough.

It was never enough.

You’re no one. You’re nothing, and that is very, very special.

Sated and soothed by his outburst, Nix slid to the floor, sinking smoothly and effortlessly into lotus position. He sat his bloody, upturned hands on his knees and closed his eyes.

I am everything. I am nothing. I am powerful. I am forgotten.

His words, not The Society’s. His handlers couldn’t do what he did. They had never tasted his kind of power. The Society of Sensors had been studying metaphysics for thousands of years; its members had taught him what he was, what he would always be—but his trainers had never been nothing themselves.

I am shadow. I am air.

Forbidden thoughts. He breathed them in and out, and for the first time since returning from his mission, he spoke, his voice low and rough, but musical in the way of a gravel-voiced siren singing the blues. “I am Nobody.” His lips curved upward, his breathing even. “I am Nix.”

He was unchanging.

He was constant.

And whatever his next assignment held—back alleys, visiting dignitaries, monsters dressed as men—he was ready.

For number Twelve.

●―●●―●―●●―●―●●―●―●●―●―●●―●―●●―●

“Excuse me, could I get a towel, please?”

Claire signed in at the front desk, dotting the i in her name in a manner almost grand enough to pass for a circle. She could do this. Hot day, cool pool, good book. What more could a girl ask for?

“Could you please hand me a towel?” She spoke a little louder this time, determined to catch the attention of the boy working behind the sign-in desk. The boy in question ran his hands through his hair (blond and gelled and respectably thick) and stared straight past Claire with the kind of complete nonchalance only possible between the ages of fourteen and twenty.

“Ummm . . . excuse me?” Claire felt like she was shouting, but the boy didn’t so much as blink. Brandishing The Hollow Kingdom like it was a flare, Claire stood on her tiptoes. Suddenly, the boy snapped out of it. Moved to grab a towel. Smiled. And handed it—

To the girl standing behind Claire.

I don’t really need a towel. I can air-dry. That’s what the sun’s for, right?

Giving up, Claire turned to go into the pool area, but the towel thief turned at the exact same moment, and the two of them collided full force.

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” Claire said, her apology reflex kicking into overdrive.

The girl she was apologizing to tossed red hair over one shoulder and tilted her head to the side. For a moment, she stood ramrod straight and so still that Claire thought she was broken. Then the girl brought one hand up and slowly ran it over the side of her own face. Claire watched, feeling like she was intruding on some kind of sacred ritual; the girl lifted her other hand up, palm first, and let it hover just over Claire’s face, then her arms.

Maybe I really did break her, Claire thought.

“Are you okay? I’m so sorry. . . .” The red-haired girl didn’t register Claire’s words. Her hands fluttered back down to her sides and in a completely impassive voice, she whispered a single haunting word.

“Nothing.”

Claire took a step back. The girl reached for her cell phone. And then she turned around and walked back toward the parking lot, the coveted towel still slung over her arm.

“Okay,” Claire said, under her breath. “Now that was weird.”

Determined to shake it off, Claire scanned the deck and found an open lounge chair angled between the baby pool and the diving board. It was, without question, the loudest, wettest, least desirable chair on the deck, but in her contrary moments, Claire liked liking things that went unappreciated by others.

Settling back into the chair, Claire offered her face up to the sun and closed her eyes. She breathed in and out, letting the din of the pool fade into the background, pushing the red-haired girl and her accusation—Nothing—out of her mind. The hum of Claire’s brain waves settled into the requisite pattern for an old standby, perfect for sunbathing and guaranteed to keep overthinking at bay.

Situations, Claire thought, waiting for one to take hold, enjoying the feel of the sun on her face, her body, the length of her limbs.Situation: What would it be like if you got hit by a car, and you desperately didn’t want to go to the hospital, but the person who saw it happen—a total stranger—was dead set on seeing you checked out by a doctor? What if it were a mother, with several small children, who couldn’t help but mother you, too, and pursed her lips when you said you didn’t want to go? What if it were an undercover FBI agent, and you had somehow stumbled into an integral part of their case?

What if it were a boy, and he wouldn’t let you stand up off the ground, because moving might upset your internal injuries? What if he kept his face close to yours and his hands on your shoulders? What if you wanted to fight him, even though you knew he was right?

For reasons she couldn’t quite put her finger on, Claire quite liked that Situation. Flipping over onto her stomach, she felt the sun on the small of her back and gave into the lure of the image taking hold in her mind.

Car accident. Blood—not much, because then it would be stupid to refuse to go to the hospital, but a little on the back of her head, and a bruise on her side. The car that hit her peels off, not bothering to see if she’s okay, and then the boy is there, beside her. He comes in a blur and bends over her, until he is all she can see.

His hair is dark.

“Are you okay?” he asks her.

No, that wasn’t right. That was such a normal thing to ask. It would be a much more interesting Situation if her rescuer were a little abnormal. And if she didn’t want to be rescued.

“What the hell were you doing?” he demands, his voice little more than a growl.

“I’m . . . who are you?” She tries to sit up. “Ouch.”

“Lie still.” He seems to expect that his words will be obeyed. Her eyes flash.

“Don’t touch me. I’m fine. And if I want to get up, I’ll—”

“You got hit by a car. You wandered into the street and got hit by a car. An ambulance is on its way.”

“I don’t want an ambulance.”

He leans down closer toward her, his eyes narrowing, and for a second, she thinks he will kiss her. “Well, princess, that’s too damn bad.”

Princess? Princess?! Claire rears back, ready to tell him what she thinks of his machismo BS, but he grips her shoulders, holding her in place more by the power of his touch than by force.

“Get your hands off me!”

“Be still.” For a moment, the boy’s voice is awful, but then he softens. “You could be hurt. Humor me.”

And then the ambulance came. End of Situation. Claire opened her eyes and rolled back over, just in time for a tsunami of water to body slam her like a professional wrestler.

Curse you, cannonballs.

Claire sputtered and snorted and tried desperately not to drown in her own chair. She blinked violently, and that was the exact moment she heard the voice.

“You look like you’re thinking deep thoughts, young lady.”

It took her a few seconds to locate the speaker: an elderly man with a face creased like a worn leather sofa and brown eyes so dark that she couldn’t make out the pupils. For a moment, Claire assumed that the man was talking to someone else, in part because people, as a general rule, didn’t come up to Claire and start making conversation, and in part because she was positive that she looked more like a drowned rat than someone caught in the throes of thought.

Say something. Respond. Be witty.

As Claire tried desperately to come up with the proper response, the man leaned forward, the intensity of the gaze behind his centimeter-thick glasses swelling, his eyes fixated on a point directly over her left shoulder. Those pupil-less irises flicked left to right, then up and down with a concerted effort that reminded Claire of a squadron of soldiers searching a field as if it were a grid.

“I was just sitting here,” Claire said finally, but the words came out in a whisper.

“Have a way of going unnoticed, do you?” the man asked, his voice not unkind.

Claire nodded, but before she’d even finished the motion, the man glanced away, and something deep inside of Claire told her that he wasn’t going to speak to her again. He’d seen what he needed to see, and now he was going to leave.

As Claire watched him disappear into the parking lot, she couldn’t help but wonder what he’d been looking for, and she couldn’t shake the single word her memory whis-pered over and over again in the red-haired girl’s voice.

Nothing.

Does that not make you crazy excited for the book? You can add it to Goodreads here!

And now for the contest:

I have, for one lucky winner, a Jennifer Lynn Barnes prizepack including the following, all packaged up in an Egmont tote bag with some temporary tattoos:
The Raised by Wolves series (Raised by Wolves, Trial by Fire and Taken by Storm)
Every Other Day
ARC of Nobody

To enter, just fill out THIS form.

This contest is US/Can only, and ends August 17.

No entries will be accepted through the comments, but you know you want to leave one anyhow, and don't forget to check back on August 16 for the cover for Nobody!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Book Review: Embers and Echoes by Karsten Knight

SUMMARY: Fan the flames: A teen goddess fires up her search for love and family in this sequel to Wildefire.Ashline Wilde may have needed school to learn that she is actually a reincarnated goddess, but she’s ready to move beyond books. She leaves her California boarding school behind and makes for Miami, where she meets a new group of deities and desperately seeks her sister Rose, the goddess of war. But she’s also looking for love—because even though her romance with Cole had to be snuffed, Ash is a volcano goddess—and she doesn’t get burned.

This sequel to the edgy and action-packed Wildefire continues a fiery drama on an immortal scale.


OPINION: 5 STARS

Intense, fun, and heartbreaking, Embers and Echoes mixes all my favorite things into one stellar book. From amazing characters to a twisty and mindblowing plot to fabulous and gorgeous writing, Knight most definitely continues to wow me. Holding nothing back, and letting readers know that, truly, no character is safe, Embers and Echoes continues an already wowing series with the same level of talent.

Ashline is awesome, a girl who is fierce, determined, but also a little bit broken. Not completely unaffected by things, but willing to fight back no matter what, she is that right blend of healthy fear and take on the world. Witty and quick with the comebacks, she will keep readers both entertained and entranced. The events of book one have definitely had an effect on her, and it shows easily, but Knight does a remarkable job of not only building her beyond that, but letting it strengthen her as well.

Wes is a new character to this book, but a memorable and awesome one. Presenting Ash with not only new challenges but opportunities as well, and a charm and wit to him that made me fall for him, he has a big role in this book, yet never takes the light away from Ash. Along with Wes comes a girl named Aurora, who is both intriguing and alluring. The friendship Ash forms with these two is potent, and has its own playout that is both stunning and wrenching. Then, of course, there’s Colt, a guy who most certainly will leave readers even more twisted than in book one. Sure, he's basically a jerk, yet I admittedly admire his determination and loyalty, not to mention Knight gives quite a few looks into not only his past but Ash's as well, giving great reasons for his behaviors. As with Ash, Knight has a knack for building all of his characters, making each one stand out in their own way, and developing them throughout the book and series.

The plot of this one had me hooked, and blew me away. There are so many little things that seem to mean nothing but are big later, and other things that are more obvious yet Knight weaves them in so well the inherent predictability of them is irrelevant. Though this is a hefty book, it reads quick, due to how well Knight draws his reader in and his ability to give them something more or new whenever things might start to feel slow. Playing heavily on the various mythologies he has woven together, yet moving beyond that as well, the big scope of this one as well as the smaller points all combine to make this an amazing read. Add in the flowing, distinctive writing and the jaw to the floor ending, and Embers and Echoes definitely doesn’t suffer from ‘middle book syndrome.’


Details:
Source: ARC borrowed from friend
Reading Level: 14 and up 
Hardcover: 480 pages 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication Date: August 28, 2012

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Book Review: Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

SUMMARY: It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.


Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.


Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.



OPINION: 5 STARS

Intense yet emotional, Girl of Nightmares has the same thread of creepiness interwoven into a beautiful and engaging story that we saw in Anna Dressed in Blood. Cas continues to be a favorite of mine, witty and funny yet endearing and so charming. I loved the plot of this one, from the depth Blake gives not only her characters but the implications of what they go through to the unexpected twists and the way she ties everything up in the end. This one had me completely captivated, and begging for more all over again.

I love Cas, so much. This boy cracks  me up, from the wisecracks he makes to the intensity of what he feels. He is smart and perceptive, yet he isn't so perfect as to automatically figure everything out. Even when he knows something is off, he can't always put his finger on the specifics right away, and I love that not only about but him the way Blake has built him and the story. Cas is that guy who is a little bit of a mess, yet he is such a good friend, so loyal, and so honest in some ways, that you can't help but fall for him. He goes through even more character strides in this one, starting out in a different place than the opening of Anna Dressed in Blood, certainly changed after those events, and the way that impacts him shows beautifully in this one, while still continuing to change.

Blake has a knack for amazing characters, building them in a realistic and relatable way, even when they do things that either frustrate readers or just break their hearts. My love for Anna rivals my love for Cas, from the slight brokenness about her to her fierce determination. She has an amazing role again in this book, stealing the show at all the right moments yet letting the spotlight otherwise remain firmly on Cas. Then there's his two friends, who have some problems of their own in this one which add a great element to the book without detracting from the overall focus.

Then there's the plot, which is so well executed, and so dang brilliant. Creepier in some places than others, and always throwing something new to keep the pacing going, this book had me thinking about it while I was at work, itching to get home to finish. Blake definitely knows how to throw punches, and she even pulls in an awesome new location to this one that definitely feeds not only the gross factor but the creep factor as well. There are some elements to this one that will just rip readers apart in the best way, and even months after reading, I still can't get over everything that happens in this one, or the fitting way Blake rounds things out.

Tying out the awesomeness of this book is the writing, spry and full of life in a way that totally brings Cas to life, yet also paints some stellar pictures. Building in not only the atmosphere of the different place Cas ends up, but having an emotional note as well, this is the kind of the writing that says so much with so little. Completely enamoring from start to finish, Girl of Nightmares is an amazing and brilliantly woven tale that has earned its place on this reader's Favorites shelf.


Details
Source: ARC received from author in exchange for an honest review  
Reading level: Ages 13 and up 
Hardcover: 336 pages 
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: August 7, 2012

Friday, August 3, 2012

TGIF: Book Olympics

This week, Ginger over at GReads! has an awesome topic that I just had to participate in:

Book Olympics: In the spirit of the Olympics, which books would you give the gold, silver, and bronze medals to? It can be from any genre, new or old.


 To make things more fun (and I admit it, because I have a hard time choosing), I'm breaking this down into categories: Contemp and Noncontemp. I'm only using books read in 2012 for this.

Contemporary:

Gold:  Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
This book captured me in ways I still can't explain, despite having read it four times already. Travis is just such a stellar, amazing character... a guy who is a jerk, but also loyal. He's the right kind of broken for me, and I admit it, watching him fall for Harper is just... awesome. The writing is stellar, and the story has a beauty to it that captured me. From my love of male voice to raw honesty to pain and brokenness... this one has it all for me.




Silver: In Honor by Jessi Kirby
Rusty pretty much wins this one for me. He is that perfect mix of cocky jerk on the outside, warm, gushy and caring on the inside. He makes me so ridiculously melty. But I also love Honor, and the road trip they take, and the hilarious moments that are in this book even mixed into all the sad. Not to mention, the writing is awesome. And the author rocks.





Bronze: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
 Despite my love of dark things and broken people, I am also a huge fan romance and kisses and sexy times. And this book has it all. It takes some dark turns. It has some of the hottest kisses I've read. It has a fire and passion in the characters that drives them together as much as it pushes them apart. And it does it all with a well pace, fabulous writing, and the right blend of fun and pain.






Noncontemporary: 

Gold: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Confession: I am not big on high fantasy. But this book? Totally captured me, and lured me in, and got into my head so that even three months later, I still find myself thinking about this world and it's characters. This book has, hands down, some of the best characterization I've read. There is such determination in the lead players with this one, yet they each have their own little flaws and facets that just have me so invested. This book made me physically ache, and sent me reeling.



Silver: Altered by Jennifer Rush
Okay so part of my huge love for this book does stem from the fact that there are four hot boys to drool over... and drool I did (though I totally call dibs on Nick). But it's more than that. It's the way this one is put together, the mystery and the clues left and the overall picture. This one totally blew my mind, and left me awed. But add to it that the characters rocked, and the writing was great, and this one totally deserves a medal.





Bronze: A Want so Wicked by Suzanne Young
More Harlin. Plus a new boy. And a deeper, and darker look, at the world already set up in A Need so Beautiful. Like I've said, I like dark things, and this title hints at that, and this title is so accurate in several ways. This book left me with chills, and made me ache, and just took me by storm.





So that's my picks, what are yours?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Book Review: Confessions of an Angry Girl by Louise Rozett

SUMMARY: Rose Zarelli, self-proclaimed word geek and angry girl, has some CONFESSIONS to make... #1: I'm livid all the time. Why? My dad died. My mom barely talks. My brother abandoned us. I think I'm allowed to be irate, don't you?

#2: I make people furious regularly. Want an example? I kissed Jamie Forta, a badass guy who "might" be dating a cheerleader. She is now enraged and out for blood. Mine.

#3: High school might as well be Mars. My best friend has been replaced by an alien, and I see red all the time. (Mars is red and "seeing red" means being angry-get it?)

Here are some other vocab words that describe my life: Inadequate. Insufferable. Intolerable.

(Don't know what they mean? Look them up yourself.) (Sorry. That was rude.)



OPINION: 4 STARS

Intense yet charming, Confessions of an Angry Girl is a sharp and painful tale that pulls in several elements in a completely smooth way. This is one of those books that got to me so much, I don’t totally know how to properly review it. It is so raw, so real, and so honest. This book had a high impact feel to it, yet also had plenty of sweeter moments, as well some humor to even things out.

Rose is a great character, a girl who is confused, angry, and definitely a mess. Despite this, she isn't a door mat, nor does she come out fighting without cause. She takes a lot, but has a breaking point as well and this balance is perfectly captured. Rose is also flawed, a little self centered in some respects and holding a little too tight onto some things, yet there is something so realistic about her, so understandable, that these flaws go far to build her, without pitching her in a bad light. She has an amazing character arc, going through some tremendous strides in several different areas, yet many of them don’t come easy or obviously to her.

Admittedly, Rose's best friend got on my nerves more than once. To some extent, I understood not only her debate over whether or not to sleep with her boyfriend but also her desire to branch out, I also felt like Rose really should've just cut ties with her after a certain point. Still, there was an interesting push and pull between these two, big faults and small forgives that really added a great element. Then there's Jamie, the boy who causes a whole new set of problems for Rose. Though he left me wanting a little more from him, and gave me a few questions that didn't go totally answered, I still loved his character, and especially his interactions with Rose. Rounding out the cast is Rose's brother, away now at college but still a big part of her life, flaws and all, and her best friend's boyfriend who is a big part of the reason so many problems are cropping up with Rose and Tracy.

While I loved Rose, what got me the most about this book is just how well it showcases how young fourteen years old actually is, and I don't mean that in a bad way. Things are so different when you’re a freshman, starting high school, and even if in some ways, it’s not a big deal, in other respects, fourteen versus eighteen, or even sixteen, is different. This book captures that in such a stunning way, with the fear of sex that Rose holds, the certain ways she is totally na├»ve, and the ways that she makes some things into bigger deals than they might otherwise be. Even with that, though, nothing in this book came off as just “she’s young” or even using her age or naivety as a cop out. Everything that Rose thinks, feels, and decides is so fully who she is, yet also a tale of where she’s at in life right now.

This book has several layers, and pulls in many different elements and concepts. Picked apart, taken out of context, it almost might seem like there’s too much going on, yet everything is woven together so strongly, it just makes for a gripping, painful, but beautiful tale. The writing has an openness to it that lays all the emotions on the line, yet also has a strong voice that brings Rose to life. She is an intelligent girl, the kind that has a big vocabulary naturally, and can be intimidating at times, yet nowhere does the writing or the words used feel forced or out of character.

Confessions of an Angry Girl got to me in ways that I can't really describe, partly because I don’t want to spoil, but also because it’s one that just worked for me. It had a momentum to it that’s hard to accurately explain, but that kept me completely gripped. And while somewhere in the back of my mind, there were a few things that left me wondering, or that didn’t pull through quite as strongly as I’d have liked, and I admit Tracy drove me crazy and almost to the point of not liking her, Rose herself, and the power in this book, totally washed that stuff out for me and left me reeling.

Details:
Source: Netgalley
Reading Level: Young Adult  
Paperback: 272 pages 
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: August 28, 2012