Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
"The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper in the autumn of 1888.

Soon "Rippermania" takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police now believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was with her at the time, didn't notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities."- summary from Amazon

I loved this book. Reading it made me realize how much I had missed Maureen's writing- I don't think I've read anything new of hers since Let It Snow (despite having both Scarlett books and I did also re-read 13 Little Blue Envelopes a few months back). Despite the creepy cover and premise, the book is pretty funny, especially in the beginning before the Ripper action gets involved, though the book does still have some humor throughout the rest of the book. It's still Maureen's style, but a bit darker than her previous books and it works really well.

I really enjoyed Rory as a main character- she's relatable as she tries to make her way in a new place and the voice is just done really well. Her sarcasm was my favorite part, as it usually is since that's my main form of humor. The interactions between all the characters was great and Maureen has a great touch for dialogue because it was always fun and interesting to read and kept the story going. Rory and Jerome were a great little couple too and I liked seeing their romance blossom throughout the book. They're a great match.

I really liked the concept of the ghost police and reading about the history was really cool. The book ended really interestingly and with a twist (actually, two) I hadn't seen coming. Maureen also knows how to work this trilogy by ending the main storyline here but keeping some loose threads open to make the reader want to come back when the next book releases. Although I'll read anything by Maureen because she's an awesome author so I don't necessarily need the loose threads!

Overall, a fantastic start to a ghost thriller trilogy and I can't wait to see where it all goes next!

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cover Reveal- Last Rite by Lisa Desrochers!

So are YOU all excited to see the cover for the final book in the Personal Demons trilogy? Well, today's your lucky day! The cover is being revealed on quite a few blogs today and, not only that, each of us is holding a contest to give away an ARC of Last Rite! Also, even better, there's an even bigger contest being done on Lisa's blog for some major prizes! More details on my contest though after the cover reveal...

The cover is coming...

It's very hot...

Probably the best cover yet...

You excited yet?

Getting a bit annoyed at me?

OK, here it is!

Isn't it awesome? The guys are so hot! I hope Lisa or Tor makes posters of the cover because I'd love to have it on my wall next to my other book cover posters.

OK, now let's go over contest details. For my contest of the Last Rite ARC, all you have to do is just leave a comment on this post by Wednesday, October 5 at 9pm EST. ARCs will be sent out as soon as Lisa gets them, which should be sometime in November (release date is May 2012). The contest is only for US/Canada residents! Sorry international readers!

Now, for the big contest that Lisa's running, each one of the blogs participating has a word or two from the cover tagline and you all have to unscramble the words and put it all together. Then, go to Lisa's blog and write the tagline into her contest form. Lisa's post should be going up around 9am PST (12pm EST). Now, I have two words, but I couldn't fit the second one into the post subtly, so I'm just going to make it easy for you guys and give it to you. The word is ONES. The other word is also in all caps so look through the post and find it!

Here's a list of all the blogs participating:


Good luck to all! If you have any questions (this may be a bit confusing), leave a comment and I'll address it as soon as I can!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

"Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness. Elisa is the chosen one. But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess. And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior, and he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do."- summary from Amazon

I simply adored this book. Once I found out that Tamora Pierce had blurbed it and that it was being compared to her novels as well, I knew I had to get my hands on this book. It really is very Tamora-ish but of course Carson makes her unique style and amazing ability for world-building shine through. I only have an ARC so it doesn't have this but it would be really cool if a map of Elisa's world was included, just like with Tamora's books because I could easily see a map being made. Elisa winds up in a ton of places throughout the book and Carson did a great job with detailing how the world was set up and where lands were. The mythology of everything was explained really well and was interesting, and I also liked how Carson handled the faith aspect. While God is a big presence in the book, it never feels overwhelming or preachy; it feels right.

Now, on to Elisa. I loved her- she's just such a wonderful main character and one that a lot of readers could identify with. I personally identified with wanting to eat awesome things all the time and also not wanting to walk in the desert preferring instead to sit on my butt at home. Of course, Elisa perseveres and, like I said before, travels to a variety of places, which makes the book more interesting than if she had her (and my) way. Other characters really stood out- Ximena, Rosario, Humberto, Father Nicandro, Lord Hector, and so many others; Carson made sure to flesh out these characters and get the reader really involved in their story.

Overall, a compelling fantasy debut and I cannot wait to read more from Carson, both the next books in this trilogy and also anything else she writes. She also continues the awesome trend of completing an adventure in the first book while leaving the reader wanting more, instead of basically splitting up one story into three books and having a huge cliffhanger in each book. Keep doing this, authors! It's much better for all involved.

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, September 26, 2011

In My Mailbox- Aug/Sept Edition

FINALLY! Another In My Mailbox vlog! This contains over a month's worth of books and I managed to contain it within 7.5 minutes, which is a feat for me. So here we go!

Books Shown:

The Postmortal by Drew Magary
Archipelago Books catalog
Love Lies Bleeding by Jess McConkey
Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay
The Dream Catchers by Jennifer Ann Kogler
Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
Without Tess by Marcella Pixley
Between the Sea and the Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore (not shown, but talked about)
This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel
You Against Me by Jenny Downham
Underdogs by Markus Zusak
Supernaturally by Kiersten White (signed!)
Between by Jessica Warman
The Shattering by Karen Healey
Wintertown by Stephen Emond
Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King
The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Tunnel Vision by Susan Shaw
The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen
Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay
The Invisible Tower by Nils Johnson-Shelton
Kiss Crush Collide by Christina Meredith
Emily the Strange: Piece of Mind by Rob Reger
The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers by Lynn Weingarten
The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff
Red Phoenix by Kylie Chan
Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos
signed copies of What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen and Bliss by Lauren Myracle

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer

"Blood can both wound and heal . . .

Willa is lucky: She has a loving blended family that gets along. Not all families are so fortunate. But when a bloody crime takes place hundreds of miles away, it has an explosive effect on Willa’s peaceful life. The estranged father she hardly remembers has murdered his new wife and children, and is headed east toward Willa and her mother. Under police protection, Willa discovers that her mother has harbored secrets that are threatening to boil over. Has everything Willa believed about herself been a lie? But as Willa sets out to untangle the mysteries of her past, she also keeps her own secret—one that has the potential to tear apart all she holds dear."- summary from Amazon

I was really excited for this book when I first got it. I loved Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It and so really wanted to read this book. It turned out a bit different than I had expected because I thought the whole book would be about the father on his way there and secrets being revealed during that wait, but that was just the first (of three) part. The other two parts deal with Willa going to Pryor where her other family died to go to their funeral and then coming back home as a changed woman and dealing with some big reveals. The whole book though was very good and compelling and I do think that maybe having it just be about the father on his way may have been a bit boring, so I like how Pfeffer did this.

Willa is a great character and a perfect protagonist; she really changed over the course of the book and that made me really happy. It was uplifting reading her story and getting involved with her life. The other characters were interesting too and seeing them change or stay the same over the course of the novel was fun.

Overall, just a really great book and it makes me want to read more from Pfeffer, so I may go back and finish the Moon Crash series (apparently, a fourth is being released next fall!) sometime soon!

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Author Interview- Anne Heltzel

1) How did you get the idea for Circle Nine?

Way, way back, I saw a cute guy in the Times Square subway station and basically started fantasizing about his life. I don’t do that *very* often (fantasize about strangers), but he was a really good guitar player and he caught my eye.The fantasy life I made up for him involved a subway stop that only he could access. It let him off each day in a parallel universe, and his only exposure to our world was that little hallway in Times Square, where he worked. Then I started writing and realized I was actually drawn to a totally different (but equally isolating) world – the world in the cave in Circle Nine. And I started wondering how someone could wind up so alone.

But there’s another layer to the inspiration that really didn’t occur to me until after I’d finished writing the book. At the time I was writing it, I’d just moved to India and was mostly alone all day in a hotel. I’d left my life in New York behind entirely. I didn’t even have internet for a couple of months. Now it seems obvious – that experience definitely informed the novel in a big way, though at the time I had no idea I was indirectly negotiating my own feelings.

And on an intellectual level, I was really interested in the theme of betrayal and what makes it truly horrible.

2) Tell us all about The Call/The Email for publication! Where were you when it happened? Did you do anything to celebrate?

I was in Mumbai, obsessively checking my email every morning/night for a week. I set my alarm for 8 am every morning (I know that’s totally normal, but at the time it seemed early) in case my agent called. (He used Skype to call my India phone.) It was SO FUN to get responses from editors, one at a time. (Even the rejections were fun, in a way – it was just exciting. Kind of like the college admissions process but a million times better. Like my fate was being determined before my eyes!) So finally I got a call from Josh (Adams, my agent) saying that Candlewick was putting together an offer – and the days dragged and dragged until I received the official email. Then at about the 2-week point, it was official! And my editor called me and we chatted and I loved her. I celebrated belatedly because I wanted to do something really special with a little bit of my advance money, since it was my first book and basically a lifetime goal. I couldn’t decide; and then this past summer,I stumbled across this really pretty and unusual ring in Brooklyn and bought it right away. I knew it was perfect because it reminded me of my great-grandmother’s ring, which was stolen in Italy. (I’d inherited it from my mom on my 21st birthday.) Now I can look at this one (looking at it right now!) and have a little piece of that and a reminder of my first book all at once.

3) You're an editor at Penguin. What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the job? Was it hard to juggle your day job with writing and revising Circle Nine?

Haha – I’m trying to figure out how to answer this honestly without getting fired. I’ll start with favorites: I love falling in love with a book. There is possibly nothing more exciting (to me) than shepherding something you believe in wholeheartedly into the world. I love my colleagues – I have such a fantastic group of colleague-friends, new and old. Most of all, I guess I really love knowing that I am lucky enough to be able to combine my skill set with my passion. It’s more of a lifestyle or a vocation than a job; and I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever dreaded coming into work. Ok, so now for the bad stuff: It really sucks to go home from work…and keep working! And then there’s the weekend – phew, you think; I can rest. But no! There’s more work to be done! In fact, there is actually no such thing as being caught up. I know this is probably the case in a lot of industries; but it’s extra-tough when you’re trying to manage a writing schedule, too.

It wasn’t hard at all to juggle my day job with writing/revising Circle Nine, because I was in India and jobless. (I left Penguin for a year to go to India, and came back this past January.) Now, though, it’s very difficult. It involves making a lot of sacrifices – sacrifices I’m not good at making, most of which involve my social life.

4) What book(s) are you reading right now, or are about to start?

I am reading an excerpt from Roberto Balano’s The Third Reich, which is being published in installments in The Paris Review before it gets published by FSG in book form at the end of the year. I’m reading it on my commute. I’m about to read The Night Circus. I am mostly through The Sun Also Rises and have a few more pages in The Solitude of Prime Numbers.(I read a lot of things at once.) In terms of YA/middle grade, I have Lola and the Boy Next Door in my pile and just finished The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and a galley of The Catastrophic History of You and Me.

5) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor (or flavors, if you're so inclined)?

I really, really don’t like jelly beans. But if I were force-fed one, I’d pick the orange bean.

6) I see you studied creative writing in grad school. Did you always want to be a writer?

Yes! And I have been scoffed at enough times to stay motivated. One memorable naysayer includes a psychologist my mom made me see when she discovered I was abandoning thoughts of law school for writing. Another was a guy I’d been in the middle of making out with at a house party in college on my 21st birthday. His unsolicited opinion really killed the moment.

7) What are you currently working on? Can you tell us anything about it?

I am working on a dark, grounded YA for Candlewick. It’s based (very loosely, so much as to be unrecognizable) on an experience I had when I was seventeen, and I’m blending that experience with a topic I’m really interested in right now. It’s sort of a love-triangle-domino-effect story about the sometimes devastating consequences of the “small” mistakes we make; and the unusual, obsessive relationships that aren’t love and aren’t friendship but fall somewhere in between and change us forever. The main characters are called Olivia, Layla, RJ, and Julian. I’m only being vague because I’ve been known to throw out entire drafts and start from scratch multiple times during the process.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Away by Teri Hall

Away by Teri Hall
"After crossing the Line, Rachel finds herself in a world where survival is never guaranteed - a world where bizarre creatures roam the woods and people have strange abilities. Everything has gone to ruin Away and the survivors have banded into warring clans. Rachel finds her father being held prisoner by a tribe of Others, and she and her new friends set out to rescue him. But when they cross back over the Line, Rachel and Pathik make a foolish decision, bringing them into further danger that can only be resolved with an unthinkable sacrifice."- summary from Amazon

I really enjoyed The Line, though did think it dragged a bit in the beginning. This sequel doesn't drag at all. It pulled me in from the beginning and kept me turning the pages. I loved getting to learn about the world of Away and its inhabitants, The Others. The search for Rachel's father was really suspenseful and action-packed.

Crossing back over the Line to get Rachel's mom and friends was fun to read about and then the "foolish decision" (from the summary) of Pathik and Rachel really raised the stakes and I was a bit shocked at the way it ended up. It was an interesting way of resolving that situation. The ending was like that of The Line- it ends this book's adventure and I was satisfied, but there could definitely be more coming and I wouldn't mind reading more about this world and these characters.

Overall, a great follow-up and I can't wait to read more from Hall.

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Friday, September 16, 2011

As I Wake by Elizabeth Scott

As I Wake by Elizabeth Scott
"Ava is welcomed home from the hospital by a doting mother, lively friends, and a crush finally beginning to show interest. There's only one problem: Ava can't remember any of them - and can't shake the eerie feeling that she's not who they say she is.

Ava struggles to break through her amnesiac haze as she goes through the motions of high-school life, but the memories that surface take place in a very different world, where Ava and familiar-faced friends are under constant scrutiny and no one can be trusted. Ava doesn't know what to make of these visions, or of the boy who is at the center of them all, until he reappears in her life and offers answers . . . but only in exchange for her trust."- summary from Amazon

I really admire Elizabeth Scott for always seeming to branch out into new genres with almost every one of her books. With this one, she takes on the world of dystopia with a tiny bit of magic thrown in as part of the big reveal. It's a very compelling book and I flew through it pretty quickly. I really wanted to know what happened to Ava and what was going on with that other world.

Characterization is a bit on the low side what with two worlds full of the same people, but slightly different personalities so it was hard to really identify with anyone. For me, this book is mainly about the crazy-ass plot which ended confusingly for me. I was reading the last chapter and had absolutely no idea what had happened. And then there was a question left unanswered about Ethan, which made me a bit upset. I was just confused.

So overall, while it is a compelling book, the ending left much to be desired from me. I love Elizabeth Scott and her books, but this one just baffled me when I finished. Maybe I'm just stupid for not getting the ending (highly true) so perhaps you guys will do better. If anyone else has read this and wants to discuss the ending (i.e. explain it to me), please email me!

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Perfect by Ellen Hopkins

Perfect by Ellen Hopkins
"Everyone has something, someone, somewhere else that they'd rather be. For four high-school seniors, their goals of perfection are just as different as the paths they take to get there.

Cara's parents' unrealistic expectations have already sent her twin brother Conner spiraling toward suicide. For her, perfect means rejecting their ideals to take a chance on a new kind of love. Kendra covets the perfect face and body—no matter what surgeries and drugs she needs to get there. To score his perfect home run—on the field and off—Sean will sacrifice more than he can ever win back. And Andre realizes that to follow his heart and achieve his perfect performance, he'll be living a life his ancestors would never have understood.

Everyone wants to be perfect, but when perfection loses its meaning, how far will you go? What would you give up to be perfect?"- summary from S&S website

I'm just gonna go ahead and say it- this book is perfect. It's a bad pun but it's true. Every single time I open up a Hopkins book, I am simply astounded at the variety of voices and situations that she puts into each book. I really enjoyed this companion to Impulse and I feel like you can read them separately easily. While some of the characters in Perfect are in some way involved with Connor from Impulse, there isn't a whole lot of overlap and the big event at the end is the same in both books, so it doesn't matter which you read first.

It was interesting to read from these perspectives (Andre excluded, though I'll come back to him) because, in Impulse, we just see Connor's side of the story, but now we see his sister's side (Cara), his former girlfriend's side (Kendra), and an acquaintance's side (Sean). Attempted suicide (and completed suicide) affects so many people and Hopkins did a good job of giving us these perspectives and getting into their minds. Andre is out of this Connor loop so it was a nice break to hear from him and his relationship with Kendra's sister Jenna.

Overall, this is just a fantastic book and I'm so excited that Hopkins has another book out next month so that I don't have to wait long before going back to her beautiful verse.

FTC: Received ARC at BEA (signed!). Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Circle Nine by Anne Heltzel

Circle Nine by Anne Heltzel
"When your whole life has vanished and only one person knows who you are . . . don't you have to believe him?

Abby doesn't remember what happened the night she woke up in soot-stained clothes, lying next to a burning building with an unfamiliar boy at her side. But her connection with Sam is immediate and intense. And she has no one else: no family, no home, not even a last name.

She and Sam start a new life, just the two of them, and Abby's deliriously happy. Until memories from her past begin to haunt her and suddenly everything she's learned to love turns sinister. It's only a matter of time before her reality cracks apart."- summary from Amazon

First of all, the cover had me fooled for a bit about what the book was about- it looks like a dystopian or paranormal, but it's actually a psychological thriller. Originally, I was against the prologue having been there because I felt it gave too much away, but then a twist later on in the book made me rethink that. It does still make you distrustful of Sam, which I didn't like because I felt that maybe the reader should have been finding things out along with Abby. I think the other thing is that the reader is only presented with two characters for the majority of the novel with almost no outside characters, and that can be difficult to pull off. It's very isolating, which I guess is the point.

I was hooked in the beginning but then it dragged a little bit for me, but once I finished the book, I understood why Heltzel wrote the book the way she did. There's a slow build up to the climax, with little cracks being made in the "perfect" world Abby and Sam share. I think the other thing was that my expectations were a bit skewed once I read the summary. I was kinda expecting something like an episode of Criminal Minds and so I started thinking about tons of theories in my head that never came to fruition. That isn't to say that what Heltzel did was bad or anything; quite the contrary, I loved what Heltzel did and it was really interesting.

Overall, I did really enjoy this book even though I had a couple complaints about it. It's a wonderful debut and shows some real promise. I can't wait to see what she writes next.

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey

Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey
"A boy who can see the world's secrets and unravel spells with just a glance.

Braden's witch eyes give him an enormous power. A mere look causes a kaleidoscopic explosion of emotions, memories, darkness, and magic. But this rare gift is also his biggest curse.

Compelled to learn about his shadowed past and the family he never knew, Braden is drawn to the city of Belle Dam, where he is soon caught between two feuding witch dynasties. Sworn rivals Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe will use anything--lies, manipulation, illusion, and even murder--to seize control of Braden's powers. To stop an ancient evil from destroying the town, Braden must master his gift, even through the shocking discovery that Jason is his father. While his feelings for an enigmatic boy named Trey grow deeper, Braden realizes a terrible truth: Trey is Catherine Lansing's son . . . and Braden may be destined to kill him."- summary from Amazon

I've been excited for this book for a little over a year now. I initially "met" Scott Tracey on the wonderful gay news site AfterElton while browsing around profiles and we chatted a bit. He did an interview with me for my GLBT Week last October and then I was so happy receiving an ARC at BEA (thanks Gabrielle!).

I'm glad to say that the wait and excitement was worthwhile. This is a really good debut and I can't wait to read the next book in the series and see what happens. Braden is a great main character and I really enjoyed following along on his journey (especially when it came to the scenes with Trey!) with all the twists, turns and shocking reveals.

Tracey has a fantastic world in Belle Dam that has a lot going on, history-wise, that'll take a while to unravel. I loved all the magic going on because I'm all about witches. There's always something happening and the story is just so compelling. There are some interesting characters here too, my favorite probably being Jade. Trey was a bit too hot and cold for me to really like a lot, but I can see why he does that and so I do like him a little. I hope for more romance between him and Braden in the sequel.

Overall, a compelling debut with a twist on witches and the Romeo and Juliet story. What more do you want? (It's a paperback too, so not too expensive!).

FTC: Received signed ARC while at BEA (Gabrielle from Mod Podge Bookshelf won a copy at Teen Author Carnival and was kind enough to get it signed for me!). Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

13 Gifts by Wendy Mass

13 Gifts by Wendy Mass
"When Tara, a self-proclaimed shrinking violet, steals the school mascot, a goat, in order to make some friends with the popular crowd and gets caught, she gets herself in a heap of trouble. In addition, her parents decide that instead of taking her on their summer trip to Madagascar to study the courtship rituals of the Bamboo Lemur, she must go stay with her aunt, uncle, and bratty cousin Emily St. Claire in Willow Falls. Tara thinks it's a good time to start over; she'll be turning 13 after all, so she might as well make the best of it and perhaps even attempt to break out of her shell (in a non-criminal manner). What Tara doesn't know is that this charmed town has something big in store for her on her 13th birthday. It's not a typical birthday. But then again, nothing is Willow Falls is exactly typical!"- summary from Amazon

I really enjoyed 11 Birthdays and had no idea that Mass had started writing a series of books taking place in Willow Falls. By the time I had gotten 13 Gifts, I'd forgotten that Willow Falls was the setting for 11 Birthdays so it was a surprise when Amanda and Leo showed up here (along with Rory from Finally 12, which I own but haven't yet read). It was fun seeing those characters again and being in the strange town of Willow Falls.

There's just something about Mass' writing that's just so compelling. Her stories are just so interesting and original. That's what keeps me coming back to her novels whenever a new one comes out. She is seriously one of my favorite writers and one I look up to. If you haven't read a Wendy Mass book yet, you really need to and you will thank me for it. Her stories, especially this birthday series, are really cool in that they utilize a bit of magic even though it's a realistic story about growing up and learning who you are. It's a bit of an interesting twist.

I loved Tara as a narrator and really enjoyed following along on her journey as she collects the gifts and then uses them for a new, bigger project. Like I said before, it was also cool to see Amanda and Leo back again, as well as some other new characters (some may be old but I have a bad memory when it comes to books I read over two years ago, lol). The interactions between them were fun to read and I did giggle quite a bit throughout reading. Also, there were a couple unanswered questions and I hope Mass answers them in another Birthday book because I wanna know what happens!

Overall, a fantastic new addition to Mass' Birthdays series, and I cannot wait to see what she writes next. I may also have to dig up my copy of Finally 12 and read it. After reading this, I was really curious to see what happened to Rory in that book.

FTC: Received ARC at BEA (and also bonded with the Scholastic person over how awesome Wendy Mass is). Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann
"Every year in Quill, thirteen-year-olds are sorted into categories: the strong, intelligent Wanteds go to university, and the artistic Unwanteds are sent to their deaths.

Thirteen-year-old Alex tries his hardest to be stoic when his fate is announced as Unwanted, even while leaving behind his twin, Aaron, a Wanted. Upon arrival at the destination where he expected to be eliminated, however, Alex discovers a stunning secret--behind the mirage of the "death farm" there is instead a place called Artime.

In Artime, each child is taught to cultivate their creative abilities and learn how to use them magically, weaving spells through paintbrushes and musical instruments. Everything Alex has ever known changes before his eyes, and it's a wondrous transformation.

But it's a rare, unique occurence for twins to be separated between Wanted and Unwanted, and as Alex and Aaron's bond stretches across their separation, a threat arises for the survival of Artime that will pit brother against brother in an ultimate, magical battle."- summary from Amazon

I have loved McMann's creepy teen books and was excited to read this more light-hearted (compared to the Wake trilogy and Cryer's Cross) middle-grade fantasy. It didn't let me down. I was really pulled into this story from the first page and I really enjoyed all the world-building that Lisa did for both Quill and Artime. It was just fascinating. The third-person perspective also really helped because McMann was able to go around to different characters and give the reader a really good look at each character. Most of the book though is focused on Alex though as he navigates this new world for Unwanteds. He's a wonderful main character that younger male readers will definitely identify with.

The climax of the book was really interesting (with some twists and turns) and the battle was extremely page-turning. McMann really knew what she was doing. It was great to see this different side to her writing and I do hope she does it more. I'd really like to see more adventures in this world!

FTC: Received ARC at BEA (signed!). Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson

The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson
"Once there were three. Three friends who loved each other—Jenna, Locke, and Kara. And after a terrible accident destroyed their bodies, their three minds were kept alive, spinning in a digital netherworld. Even in that disembodied nightmare, they were still together. At least at first. When Jenna disappeared, Locke and Kara had to go on without her. Decades passed, and then centuries.

Two-hundred-and-sixty years later, they have been released at last. Given new, perfect bodies, Locke and Kara awaken to a world they know nothing about, where everyone they once knew and loved is long dead.

Everyone except Jenna Fox."- summary from Amazon

I absolutely adored Adoration of Jenna Fox and it's seriously one of my favorite books ever. I had absolutely no idea that there was going to be a sequel/companion novel until BEA when someone told me she was doing a signing of Fox Inheritance ARCs. I was ecstatic to find that out and was really excited to read this book. It didn't let me down.

It's different from Adoration of Jenna Fox- different narrator, more action and suspense, and we already know what's going on with Kara and Locke (in Adoration, Jenna was trying to figure out what had happened). While there is more action, there is still that questioning of bioethics and what makes someone human that was started in Adoration and has now taken on a whole new life in Fox Inheritance.

I loved all the characters in this book and it was really cool to see Jenna again after all this time. One of my favorite new characters though was Dot Jefferson, a Bot that Locke and Kara pick up while they're escaping. When I was imagining Dot, I kept imagining Rosie, the robot from the Jetsons, lol. But she was really cool.

Overall, a wonderful sequel/companion to the Adoration of Jenna Fox. I really need to get around to reading more from Pearson.

FTC: Received ARC at BEA (signed!). Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.