Friday, November 18, 2011

TGIF #17 - Giving Thanks

Friday, November 18, 2011 with 11 comments

TGIF is hosted by Ginger at GReads!  In this weekly feature, Ginger poses a question to her followers and then asks everyone to link up at the end of the post, sharing their responses.

This Friday's Question:

Giving Thanks: Which books are you most thankful for receiving from other bloggers, friends, family members, or publishers?

Well, first off, I have to give proper thanks to the book gods over at HarperTeen/Pitch Dark Books, since I won seven -- yes, seven -- ARCs/books from their Dark Days of Supernatural promotion earlier this year, including one of my favorite books of this year (and possibly ever), Divergent by Veronica Roth. I'm actually doing a re-read of this book right now, just because I missed it so. :)
Sweet Venom (Medusa Girls #1)

And then, of course, I have to thank the ladies at Good Choice Reading for all of the ARC tours they let me be a part of this year:  Fury by Elizabeth Miles, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkins, and Legend by Marie Lu.  I love that those ladies are so willing to share their good fortune and spread the word about such awesome books in the process.  I'd also like to thank Damaris over at GCR for sending me her extra copy of Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs.

Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1)And last, but definitely not least, I'd like to thank the bestest book soulmate ever, Michele at A Belle's Tales, for lending me her copy of Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl.  I'm not so much thankful for the book as I am for the friendship it represents.  Michele has easily become my most favorite thing about book blogging, and I can't imagine what life would be like having never made her acquaintance.  I have a feeling this is only the beginning to a beautiful friendship, a lot (and I mean A LOT) of book swapping, and most importantly, endless fictional crushes.  (Chele also sent me some other goodies, but I don't have pictures of those yet.  Plus, I don't want to make you jealous. :P)

I also want to say thanks to all of my readers and fellow book lovers.  You guys make my heart happy!  :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Uncovered - 11/17/11

Thursday, November 17, 2011 with 3 comments
Feast your eyes on these beautiful covers:

Surrender (Possession, #2)Arise (Hereafter #2)
Once (Eve, #2)Thumped

Don't they just make you ravenous to get your hands on them?

So many sequels, so little time.  I'll admit, I've actually only read Hereafter, the book before Tara Hudson's Arise, pictured above, but I own most of the first installments in these series, and Eve is DEFINITELY on my TBR list, though all of these sequels have recently been added to that list.

Seriously, authors, can't you take a break from writing fabulous books for a little while so I can get caught up on my TBR pile?  I do have a day job, ya know... :D

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Review: The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 with 2 comments
The Pledge (The Pledge, #1)Title: The Pledge
Author: Kimberly Derting
Series: The Pledge
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Publication Date: November 15, 2011
Source: Simon & Schuster Galley Grab
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Rating: Photobucket

From Goodreads:

 In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she's spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It's there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she's never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.

Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can't be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country's only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.

I love Kimberly Derting’s The Body Finder series not just because she writes really great, realistic characters but also because of the paranormal elements included in the storyline. So, I was very excited when I heard that she was writing a dystopian book. True, it’s sometimes difficult for an established author to switch genres, or subgenres as the case may be, but Ms. Derting handles this transition like a champ. And I promise I’ll try not to compare the two series/storylines any more than necessary, but I can’t promise I won’t compare The Pledge to other novels in the same category.

That said, this particular dystopian has set itself apart with the inclusion of magic. Whereas most futuristic civilizations in YA literature have been the result of scientific or political interference, The Pledge takes things in a completely different direction. In Ludania, there are still classes. There is a power-hungry queen who will stop at nothing to continue her reign. And there is magic, though only the formidable monarch is able to wield such a supernatural power.

The story begins with a third-person view of the queen in action, but the story is actually told from several points of view, most of them third-person. However, Charlie’s narrative is first-person. Since she is the main character, this makes sense, but I’ll admit that all of the POV transitions were a bit confusing at first. My only real complaint is that is seemed like this was necessary in order to tell the reader what was happening concurrently with the main character’s storyline rather than just showing the reader and letting them figure things out for themselves. I’d much prefer to draw my own conclusions, but that’s me. It doesn’t in any way detract from the story.

Charlie has an unusual gift and she must work hard to keep it a secret. This makes her more observant than most; though for all of her astuteness, she is a little slow on the uptake at times. But, of course, the story couldn’t have progressed in the manner it did without some level of naiveté on the main character’s part. Her innocence does not mean that she doesn’t realize the danger she’s in.

Even so, she can’t help falling for someone who seems to pose an even bigger danger to her. C’mon…you didn’t think Derting would leave out the romance, did you? Fear not, it’s there. Though it’s not the sweet, well-adjusted relationship Violet and Jay have in her other series, it is kind of par for the dystopian genre; which is to say, it’s a little rushed because of the situation the characters find themselves in, but it’s not that creepy, I-want-you-but-I’m-pushing-you-away-to-keep-us-both-safe type of romance, which I’m really starting to despise. Another thing to note, although I thought there was surely going to be a love triangle, and it seemed that there were actually TWO possible triangles to be had, the author did me proud and left that nonsense out. And for that, I heart her even more.

In all seriousness, though, this novel is a great addition to the genre and has solidified Kimberly Derting as one of my favorite YA authors. She took a chance writing something different and it really paid off. Dystopian novels are my favorite reads right now, but then Derting had to go and throw in some magic to shake things up a bit. I was intrigued before, but now I’m downright impressed.

Friday, November 11, 2011

TGIF #16 - Love-Hate Relationships

Friday, November 11, 2011 with 7 comments

TGIF is hosted by Ginger at GReads!  In this weekly feature, Ginger poses a question to her followers and then asks everyone to link up at the end of the post, sharing their responses.

This Friday's Question:

Love-Hate Relationship: Which characters from a book do you love to hate?

So, I debated which way to run with this.  I could go with the baddies I despise but am supposed to hate, or I could mention the protagonists that I'm supposed to like but end up hating.  Since the latter is way more fun, let's talk about those.  :)

First, we have Bella Swan from The Twilight Saga.  I know I'm not alone on this one.  My biggest gripe with this character is how she just gives up when the "love of her life" walks out on her.  She literally curls up in a ball on the forest floor and lays there unconscious until a search party is sent out to find her because she's been missing for so long.  Bella's whole life, even when he returns to her, is hinged on Edward.  She even wants to become a vampire so she can be with him.  I'm not Team-Anybody, at least when it comes to Twilight -- I am sooooooo #TeamTod of the Soul Screamers series -- but Jacob had a point when he told Bella, "You wouldn't have to change for me."  I could continue with this rant, but I would rather move on to the other MC I love to hate.

Crescendo (Hush, Hush, #2)Enter Nora Grey.  Throughout the first Hush, Hush novel, she has this sense that Patch is bad news, yet she feels this undeniable pull toward him.  Wake up, Nora...he's a STALKER!  Yes, I love Patch, but as a reader, I know things that Nora can't possibly know.  And yet she falls for him, anyway.  But that's not really the reason I don't like her character.  She's just frustratingly annoying.  Every word that comes out of her mouth, every move she makes, every petty thought she has in her tiny little brain...those things annoy me to no end.  Nora is exactly the opposite of what I'm looking for in a good heroine.  Honestly, I would probably never refer to her as a heroine, though.  She's the girl who constantly needs saving, who can't make a decision on her own to save her life.  Nora's character was a little less maddening in Silence, but I'll never truly like her.  However, I will keep reading for Patch, though I realize he is the fallen angel equivalent to Edward "the glittery vampire" Cullen.  If there was a list of characters I hate to love, they'd probably both be on it.

What about you?  Which characters do you feel good about despising?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Review: Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick

Thursday, November 10, 2011 with 3 comments
Silence (Hush, Hush, #3)Title:  Silence
Author:  Becca Fitzpatrick
Series:  Hush, Hush
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Publication Date:  October 4, 2011
Source:  purchased
Links:  Amazon | Goodreads
Rating:  Photobucket

From Goodreads:

 The noise between Patch and Nora is gone. They've overcome the secrets riddled in Patch's dark past...bridged two irreconcilable worlds...faced heart-wrenching tests of betrayal, loyalty and trust...and all for a love that will transcend the boundary between heaven and earth. Armed with nothing but their absolute faith in one another, Patch and Nora enter a desperate fight to stop a villain who holds the power to shatter everything they've worked for—and their love—forever.

This was a 3 ½ star read for me, but since it was not really any better than the first two books in the series, I rounded down to three. I think the problem with this book, for me, is that it suffers from not actually being the final book in the series, which it was originally slated to be. Honestly, I was kind of ready for Nora and Patch’s story to end. Don’t get me wrong…I do like this series. I just feel like the story is starting to get stretched too thin and some of the situations are a little too contrived for my preference.

On the plus side, Nora’s character was a bit less annoying this time around, though that might have been a result of what happened after that huge cliffhanger Fitzpatrick left us with at the end of Crescendo. Nora’s got a lot of growing to do, and I still don’t think she’s ready for what’s to come after the events of Silence, but I’ll still read it just to see how badly she flubs up everything. Who knows? Maybe she’ll finally come into her own, but I think that’s pretty doubtful as long as she’s still all goo-goo eyes for Patch.

Speaking of, his royal hotness surprised me in this latest installment. Whereas he was trying to kill Nora in Hush, Hush, he’s doing everything he can to keep her safe in Silence. I know I shouldn’t like Patch, what with his stalker tendencies and devil-may-care attitude, but I can’t help myself. I still think I prefer the psycho-Patch from the first book, though. He kept things interesting. :)

Silence wasn’t necessarily uninteresting, but it seemed less eventful than the previous books. Too many gaps being filled for much else to happen, which made this seem more like a middle book than an ending, which I guess it technically was. I enjoy reading this series, but with the influx of new talent out there, especially in YA, I feel my fondness for these books dwindling.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Uncovered - 11/8/11

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 with 2 comments
Look at these lovelies:

Endlessly (Paranormalcy, #3)Rapture
Fallen in Love (Fallen, #3.5)

I know the concept of the girl in the beautiful dress has been overdone on covers, but even so, I still love them.  Regardless of whether they have anything to do with the story inside the book, I can't get enough of these gorgeous covers!

Also, the Shade series by Jeri Smith-Ready gets a makeover:

Shine (Shade, #3)

What do you think?  I haven't had a chance to pick up this series yet, but I think I'm a fan of the original cover art.  This kind of reminds me of the cover re-do for Andrea Cremer's Nightshade series, and I'm also not a fan of that makeover.  Oh, well...nothing I can do about it, right?

And, last but not least, the trailer for Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me has been released:

In honor of today's release of Inheritance, the final book in the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, I'm giving away a paperback boxed set of the first three books in the series.  I recently bought this set for my hubby at a Borders closing sale because he had started to show an interest in reading lately, but then he learned that there would be a fourth book.  So, he wanted to wait until all four books were released before starting the series, and now he wants the hardcover boxed set that includes Inheritance.

So, I now have this extra set sitting on my bookshelf, and I'd hate to see it go to waste.  Naturally, that's where you come in.  Just complete the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win.  (You must be a follower of this blog and a US resident in order to qualify for the prize.)

Friday, November 4, 2011

TGIF #15 - Gateway Books

Friday, November 4, 2011 with 8 comments

TGIF is hosted by Ginger at GReads!  In this weekly feature, Ginger poses a question to her followers and then asks everyone to link up at the end of the post, sharing their responses.

This Friday's Question:

Gateway Books: Which particular books opened you up to a new genre?

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that The Hunger Games pushed me toward my love of all things dystopian. Seriously, I can't get enough of that genre. I have to have read at least twenty this year alone that fall into that category, but I'm almost certain it's more than that. I'm just too lazy to count them all right now.

And it was this book that got my slightly younger sister to take up reading, and for that I'm thankful.  I have a lot of wonderful online friends to discuss books with, but it's even nicer to talk to someone about them face-to-face and gauge their real reactions.

Along for the RideHowever, I know most of you are probably tired of me gushing about my affinity for dystopian novels, so just to make sure you're paying attention, I read (okay, listened to) and loved a contemporary novel earlier this year.  Yeah, you read that right.  I know, I'm always saying that I'm not a huge fan of contemps, and for the most part, that's still true.  But kids, Sarah Dessen knows a thing or two about real life, or at the very least, she's pretty awesome at pretending she does.   I listened to the audiobook for Along for the Ride earlier this summer, and I gotta tell you, I really enjoyed it, and I really wasn't expecting to. 

You see, I haven't read many contemps, and I honestly don't plan to read many more because I prefer to escape into my books, which for me, means supernatural beasties and the like.  Sure, I could escape to another character's reality, but that's not what I like to read.  Not normally, anyway.  But just based on Dessen's writing, I think I would like her other works, as well.  So, if you know of an author with a similar style, by all means, recommend away.  I'm not adverse to reading contemps, per say...I just haven't given them much of a chance in the past.  I have read a few other contemporaries this year that I liked but not as much as Along for the Ride.  I wonder why that is, but I guess I just have to chalk it up to the writing, the point-of-view, and the overall storyline.

So, what are your "gateway" books?  Is there any genre that you just absolutely want no part of?  Sound off in the comments.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Review: Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

Thursday, November 3, 2011 with 2 comments
Sweet Venom (Medusa Girls #1)Title:  Sweet Venom
Author:  Tera Lynn Childs
Series:  Medusa Girls
Publisher:  Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date:  September 6, 2011
Links:  Amazon | Goodreads
Rating:  Photobucket

From Goodreads:

Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it’s also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster.

Gretchen is tired of monsters pulling her out into the wee hours, especially on a school night, but what can she do? Sending the minotaur back to his bleak home is just another notch on her combat belt. She never expected to run into this girl who could be her double, though.

Greer has her life pretty well put together, thank you very much. But that all tilts sideways when two girls who look eerily like her appear on her doorstep and claim they're triplets, supernatural descendants of some hideous creature from Greek myth, destined to spend their lives hunting monsters.

These three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful gorgon maligned by myth, must reunite and embrace their fates in this unique paranormal world where monsters lurk in plain sight.

So, this is another one of those books where I’ve never read anything else by the author and after finishing, I’m wondering why that is. Seriously, this book is awesome. Like, go-out-and-buy-everything-by-Tera Lynn Childs-awesome. It wasn’t the sisterhood-aspect, or the oh-snap-we’re-related-to-Medusa-aspect, or even the female-empowerment-aspect. It was all of that rolled up into one fantastically kick-a$$ action story.

Switched POVs. Sigh. I wish all authors could handle them this well. Normally, the transition is between the protagonist and her love interest, or some small variation from that. In Sweet Venom, the shift occurs between sisters. The narration starts out with tough girl Gretchen’s POV. Then along comes Grace, and a sisterly bond is formed. Way, way, way down the road, Gretchen and Grace discover that they have yet another sister that neither knew about, and she is not happy to have her perfect life disturbed. Enter Greer. Three entirely different yet formidable heroines. One destiny. And still so much to discover about themselves and each other.

And then there’s the mythology. Medusa wasn’t evil, you say? Bah. Impossible. Oh, wait…you’re not kidding. Okay, I’ll bite. She’s a protector, NOT an evil gorgon? You don’t say…well, that just makes things even more interesting. And how do you know this? Her sisters? Wait, wait, wait. There are MORE sisters in this story? Great…and I thought I had issues with MY sisters.

Sisters, descendents of Medusa at that, fighting demons by night and trying to maintain a sense of normalcy by day. Love it. There’s a touch of romance, too, but it doesn’t overshadow the real storyline.

Sweet Venom was fast-paced and laced with action and intrigue. I devoured it quickly and already find myself wanting the sequel, even with everything else on my reading plate. I’d love to go into more detail, but I’m afraid anything I say will be spoilery. Medusa is one of my favorite mythological creatures, and I’m actually kind of surprised that this is the first time I’ve seen her pop up in a YA paranormal novel. Sweet Venom is the precursor to what looks to be a fascinating series, and the author has just found herself on my auto-read list.

An ARC of this novel was graciously provided by Damaris at Good Choice Reading.
Beautiful covers revealed:

Underworld (Abandon Trilogy #2)Dreamless (Starcrossed, #2)
Until I Die (Revenants #2)Timepiece (Hourglass, #2)

All four cover reveals this week are for sequels and are just as gorgeous as the covers for the first installments, in my opinion.  I regretfully admit that I've only started two of these series (Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini and Die For Me by Amy Plum), but I own all four of the first books and am gradually moving Abandon (the first in Meg Cabot's Abandon trilogy) and Hourglass (book number one in the Hourglass series by Myra McEntire) to the top of my TBR pile.

Which book are you most looking forward to?  Did you discover any beautiful covers this week that I missed?
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