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

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday- Little, Brown 2012

I figured I'd just make this a little series of sorts for each publisher detailing some of the books I'm excited for in the upcoming year. I've done HarperCollins and Scholastic so far. Today though is all about Little, Brown!

Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown
My thoughts: I absolutely loved Jennifer's debut Hate List and really want to read more from her. I have her second book Bitter End still to read, but this one looks really cool because there's a road trip in it and I'm interested about OCD and the need for perfection. Also, it's a sibling book which should be a good breather from all the romances out there today. This will be released July 10, 2012.

Revived by Cat Patrick
My thoughts: I really enjoyed Patrick's first novel Forgotten and this one looks to be as innovative and suspenseful as that was. Seriously, go read the summary and I guarantee you'll be adding it to your wishlist! This will be released May 8, 2012.

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad
My thoughts: Another government secret plot, but it just sounds so interesting! I am really looking forward to this book. This will be released April 17, 2012.

The Rivals by Daisy Whitney
My thoughts: Whitney's debut The Mockingbirds simply blew me away and I was so excited to read more, whether it was a continuation or a completely new story. I'm glad though that there's another book in the Mockingbirds series and it sounds like a really interesting read. I also really enjoy the new covers (particularly this one because I enjoy cute guys). This will be released February 6, 2012.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa- Review and QnA

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa
"My name—my True Name—is Ashallayn’ darkmyr Tallyn. I am the last remaining son of Mab, Queen of the Unseelie Court. And I am dead to her. My fall began, as many stories do, with a girl…

To cold faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.

Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl—smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.

With the unwelcome company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end—a quest to find a way to honor his vow to stand by Meghan's side.

To survive in the Iron Realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. And along the way Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice."- summary from Amazon

I did it- I fulfilled my reading goal for November, which was to read the final three books of the Iron Fey series in preparation for this post! I was a bit worried about making it (I only had three days to get through Iron Knight), but Kagawa's world and characters are just so compelling that the books can be hard to put down.

I can tell you I've made a change through this reading. After finishing The Iron King, I was firmly on Team Puck and didn't know why anyone liked Ash, aside from the fact that he was hot. Starting The Iron Daughter, I was a bit bored because the first part mainly takes place in the Winter Court with Meghan pining after Ash. It wasn't until Puck came in that I really got into the story (the first part of Daughter is pretty much joke-free), but going through the books and seeing Ash open up more, especially in Iron Knight since it's told from his perspective, I can see why people would go for him. I am still Team Puck completely, but I have a better understanding now. Plus, since Meghan isn't with him, he can be mine. :)

Anyway, Kagawa really knows how to end a series and I'm very glad that the story was continued because I could not imagine it ending with Iron Queen. Learning more about Ash through him being the narrator really helped and the obstacles he goes through to be with Meghan are extremely dangerous and harrowing, which makes the reader really want to root for him. Some of the obstacles, mainly the ones in the Testing Grounds, are more introspective in a way and I like how Kagawa wrote the trials Ash had to go through to become human. But the part before the Testing Grounds (i.e. the gauntlet) really made me want to play Tomb Raider because it reminded me a bit of it, mainly in the beginning.

I loved spending time with these characters again and even though I love Meghan, I was a bit glad that she took a backseat in this book because it gave the reader a chance to learn more about Ash, Puck, and their past together (which includes a BIG SURPRISE that I can't reveal because it's a spoiler). Grimalkin also seems to have an expanded role here too, which I loved because Grimalkin is totally awesome.

Overall, an amazing conclusion to a fantastic, original series and I cannot wait to read more from Kagawa! The book also includes a survival guide to the Nevernever, an interview with Julie (along with comments from Puck and Ash), discussion questions, and a small excerpt from Julie's next book The Immortal Rules, which is the beginning of the Blood of Eden series (all in all, a total of 20 pages of extras- how cool!).

and here's a QnA with Julie Kagawa!
1) The Iron Knight is the fourth book in the Iron Fey series. Will there be more? What can we look forward to?

Meghan and Ash’s journey has come to a close, but it’s not the end of The Iron Fey series. In 2012 there will be a new series starring Ethan Chase, Meghan’s little brother, when he is older.

2) What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I’m a video game geek, so you’ll usually find me on the 360, PS3, or PC in the evenings. (Skyrim needs to come out sooooooon. And Assassin’s Creed Revelations. And Mass Effect 3, and Borderlands 2…the list is endless.) But I also enjoy reading, painting, movies, and gardening. I also take classes in Wing Tzun and Kali, or as Neo puts it: “I know Kung Fu.”

3) What book are you reading now?

I just finished Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (AMAZING). And I’m starting Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. I know, I know, I’m late. But given how much I enjoyed The Hunger Games, I can’t wait for the movie to come out!

4) Where did you come up with the idea for the Iron Fey series?

Faeries, the old, ancient fey, not the glittery winged sprites, have always fascinated me. But I wanted to write a book that was different than other faery books. So I began thinking: what are the fey afraid of? The answer, in most ancient mythos, is iron. Faeries can't stand the touch of iron and steel. So, what if there was a new type of fey that had evolved with progress over the years? What if they weren't only immune to iron, their existence was slowly poisoning and corrupting the lands of the traditional fey? And I realized we already have "monsters" in machines: gremlins, bugs, viruses, ect. And from that thought, the Iron fey were born.

FTC: Received final copy from Media Muscle. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
"It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They've been best friends almost as long - at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh's family gets a free AOL CD in the mail,his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn't been invented yet. And they're looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.

By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they're forced to confront what they're doing right - and wrong - in the present."- summary from Amazon

You have no idea how much I loved this book. The 90s nostalgia alone is just amazing, but factor in the whole Facebook aspect, an awkward friendship, and a dual narrative and you have made me one happy blogger.

Reading Emma and Josh's story was such a quick, compelling read; it was so hard to put down. The dual narrative really helps and it was interesting to see both sides, especially when the friendship was strained and awkward because it really gave the reader a good sense of what's going on in both of their heads. Both characters go through a fantastic journey and are clearly changed for the better by the end of it.

Going back to the 90s nostalgia, I just loved it- the Macarena, watching Friends and Seinfeld when they were new, not knowing Ellen DeGeneres was gay (by the way, her 90s sitcom was hilarious- you should all check it out), and so many other things. The authors make it so that even if you weren't very aware of the late 90s, you can still understand the references in a way based on the context. I will say there was a funny part for me when I was reading and I forgot it took place in 1996. Emma was in her car and said it didn't have a CD player but she had found a cassette tape of a Green Day album to play. I was like “How did you find a cassette tape nowadays?!” and then I remembered it was 1996 and not current day. Also, interesting fact I found out on Pop Up Video- the phrase “cassette tape” has actually been removed from the dictionary.

Overall, just a fantastic book and a wonderful collaboration between Asher and Mackler. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

FTC: Received ARC from publisher (1st at BEA, then another came in the mail). Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday- Scholastic 2012

So I've got a few Scholastic 2012 titles to share with you guys that I cannot wait to get my hands on! Links go to the book's GoodReads page.

Perception by Kim Harrington
My thoughts: I absolutely LOVED Clarity, the first book in this trilogy. It was a funny paranormal, which we really need more of in YA. I can't wait to go back into this world! It releases March 1, 2012.

Underworld by Meg Cabot
My thoughts: Yep, another sequel. Don't worry, it's not all sequels here today! This is the final one. But it's Meg Cabot and she's an author I just adore. Abandon was such an amazing book and I've really been looking forward to the sequel. I need a Meg fix! Luckily, aside from Underworld releasing next year, we also have the fourth Heather Wells book on its way, and it'll be out in the summer. Yay two Meg books in one year! Underworld releases May 28, 2012 and Size 12 and Ready to Rock releases July 10, 2012.

Take A Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg
My thoughts: I love Elizabeth's books and simply can't wait for this one. I love books that involve the theatre or performance in any way so this should be fun. This releases April 1, 2012.

Devine Intervention by Martha Brockenbrough
My thoughts: I "know" Martha through Readergirlz when it was on Myspace back in the day (i.e. 2007) and am so excited she has a debut novel coming out!! It sounds really fun and interesting. This releases June 1, 2012.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Everything We Ever Wanted by Sara Shepard

Everything We Ever Wanted by Sara Shepard
"A recently widowed mother of two, Sylvie Bates-McAllister finds her life upended by a late-night phone call from the headmaster of the prestigious private school founded by her grandfather where her adopted son Scott teaches. Allegations of Scott's involvement in a hazing scandal cause a ripple effect, throwing the entire family into chaos. For Charles, Sylvie's biological son, it dredges up a ghost from the past who is suddenly painfully present. For his wife Joanna, it forces her to reevaluate everything she's hoped for in the golden Bates-McAllisters. And for Scott, it illuminates harsh truths about a world he has never truly felt himself a part of.

But for all the Bates-McAllisters, the call exposes a tangled web of secrets that ties the family together: the mystery of the school hazing, the event that tore Charles and Scott apart the night of their high school awards ceremony, and the intended recipient of a certain bracelet. The quest to unravel the truth takes the family on individual journeys across state lines, into hospitals, through the Pennsylvania woods, and face-to-face with the long-dormant question: what if the life you always planned for and dreamed of isn't what you want after all?"- summary from Amazon

Most people know Shepard from her YA series Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game, which is where I got my start with her, but she's also gone into the adult world. This is her second adult book, originally published in the UK in 2010, and now finally published here last month. I had been meaning to read Shepard's debut adult novel, The Visibles, when it came out but never got around to it, so I'm glad I was able to fit this into my reading schedule.

This book is different from Shepard's YA titles- there are secrets and scandals, but they're handled in a more reserved way, mainly due to the characters and how they were brought up, though the atmosphere plays a part too. It's a more intimate novel that spends time with each of the main characters and getting their perspective on everything that's unraveling throughout the book. The story is still pretty compelling and I wanted to spend time with these characters.

The characters in this book are filled with regret because of how their lives turned out. Things aren't what they seem, and that realization forces them to take a hard look at themselves and what they really want rather than what they thought they wanted. Shepard writes these characters really well and, like with her YA titles, goes back and forth between each one and they're so fully fleshed out.

Overall, a really wonderful adult title and it's nice to see something different from Shepard. I hope she continues to write more adult novels when the time allows.

FTC: Received e-galley from NetGalley. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Meanding Monday- Update on Reading Goals

So I spent some time on Twitter last night and came across Andye of ReadingTeen's tweet about her sharing The Mortal Instruments series with one of her friends. I had forgotten that series existed and I know that tons of people love it, so I'm adding it to my list of reading goals. I will do it in April, after Hunger Games next month, Harry Potter in Jan and Feb, and Twilight in March.

The Harry Potter comment set off an explosion of tweets and discussion. By the time it finished, there were 33 tweets about my having not read Harry Potter and how I should read them (physical or audio). Thanks to Andye of ReadingTeen, Sherry, Gail, and Emily for the wonderful conversation. :)

If there's any other completed series (or even just singular books) out there you think I should read, please leave a comment! There's a ton of stuff I may be forgetting. Also, I'm the guy who has yet to read Harry Potter, so don't be shy about recommending extremely popular series (though keep Meg Cabot out of it because I've read 95% of her books).

As for how my goals are going so far, I finished The Iron Daughter and am now a few pages into The Iron Queen, so my goal for this month seems to be going well though I need to step up how much I read a day. But I do have the place to myself all day later this week, so I'll be using that to focus on reading. While I did like The Iron Daughter, I felt it really dragged in the first third before Puck showed up. Puck really livened things up (along with Grimalkin and surprisingly Ironhouse- love all those caps) and got me more invested in the story. Going in, I really didn't get all the Ash love, hence the slow beginning since it was just Meghan stuck in Winter Court pining over Ash. But at the end of Iron Daughter and now reading the beginning of Iron Queen, I'm seeing it a little more. But I do think I'll always be Team Puck. I mean, he's just so awesome, funny and hot! So if Meghan doesn't want him, I guess I'll take him off her hands. :D

What did you all think of Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

In My Mailbox- Week of Nov. 13 + Retrospective

Here's another vlog and this time it's much shorter! Enjoy!

Books Shown:

Within the Flames by Marjorie M. Liu (paperback, Dec 2011)
The Selection by Kiera Cass (ARC, April 2012)
Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer (ARC, Jan 2012)
Street Dreams by Tama Wise (ARC, March 2012)
Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig (e-ARC, March 2012)

and here's my retrospective:

Monday- I wrote about my reading goals for the next few months and talk a bit about how they're going so far.

Tuesday- I reviewed Triangles by Ellen Hopkins, which is out in stores now!

Wednesday- I'm running a contest for three titles- iBoy, Underdogs, Eleventh Plague- as part of the This is Teen promotion. Contest ends Nov. 23 at 9pm EST and is for US residents only!

Thursday- I reviewed Calli by Jessica Lee Anderson, which is out in stores now!

Friday- I did another Cat Friday, this time featuring Samson, so if you need a pick-me-up, go here!

Saturday- I reviewed The Pledge by Kimberly Derting, which is out in stores now.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
"In the violent country of Ludania, the language you speak determines what class you are, and there are harsh punishments if you forget your place—looking a member of a higher class in the eye can result in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina (Charlie for short) can understand all languages, a dangerous ability she’s been hiding her whole life. Her only place of release is the drug-filled underground club scene, where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. There, she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy who speaks a language she’s never heard, and her secret is almost exposed. Through a series of violent upheavals, it becomes clear that Charlie herself is the key to forcing out the oppressive power structure of her kingdom..."- summary from Amazon

It took me a while to get into this book, which was a surprise to me because I found it hard to put down Derting's debut The Body Finder. I wasn't as compelled to finish this book for quite a while, but once it got going, the pages were flying. The climax is amazing and the ending was wonderful (also, supposedly there are sequels coming? I thought this was a stand-alone).

Anyway, Charlie is a fierce heroine and I liked her a lot, especially her relationship with her little sister Angelina. That was a great aspect of the novel and it's hard to find really good sibling relationships in YA books. I wasn't as invested in the romance aspect because it didn't feel fleshed out enough for me, so I hope it's expanded on in future books. I did enjoy seeing the occasional chapter from Max's or The Queen's point of view- it broke up the story nicely and it was cool to see what was going on with them.

Overall though, I might be a bit hesitant to read book 2 just because of how book 1 started and took so long to get me interested. If I were a star-giving person, I'd probably give this a 3 out of 5- it was an interesting concept, but the execution just wasn't compelling enough.

FTC: Received e-galley from S&S Galley Grab. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cat Friday (21)

It's Cat Friday again! It's been gone for a while due to lack of time and then my break, but now it's back! Cat Friday is a somewhat-weekly meme that's similar to Presenting Lenore's Cat Tuesday, in which I show off pictures of my cats. You've seen them in videos wandering by but now you can see them more clearly.

So last weekend, my roommate's father came to visit so we brought out the air mattress for her to sleep on while her dad took over her bedroom. Each day, because of the cats and their back claws, we had to take the sheets and blankets off and deflate the mattress so they couldn't put holes in it. We put the air mattress away but left the sheets, blankets and pillows out on our bar stools. The cats of course thought it was meant for them and so every day, we'd see at least one taking a nap on their comfy lofty perch. In these photos is Samson, looking pretty much extremely adorable. When I saw that, I knew I had to take a picture (or several).

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Calli by Jessica Lee Anderson

Calli by Jessica Lee Anderson
"Fifteen-year-old Calli has just about everything she could want in life—two loving moms, a good-looking boyfriend, and a best friend who has always been there for support. An only child, Calli is excited when her parents announce that they want to be foster parents. Unfortunately, being a foster sister to Cherish is not at all what Calli expected. First Cherish steals Calli’s boyfriend, then begins to pit Calli’s moms against one another, and she even steals Calli’s iPod. Tired of being pushed around and determined to get even, Calli steals one of Cherish’s necklaces. But this plan for revenge goes horribly awry, and Cherish ends up in juvenile detention.

Isolating herself from her moms, her boyfriend, and even her best friend, Calli wrestles with her guilt and tries to figure out a way to undo the damage she’s caused. When her moms are asked to take on another foster child, Calli sees an opportunity to make amends for her past mistakes."- summary from Amazon

I do own another Anderson book (signed!) but this is my first one, mainly because of the expiration date on e-galleys. I wanted to make sure I got this one read before it expired. It's a short book, but Anderson packs in a lot without it feeling too overwhelming. I loved Calli as a main character because she's so realistic and flawed. Watching her grow over the course of the novel was very gratifying and I really enjoyed spending time in this story.

I loved Calli's parents and the fact that they were lesbians because it's always good to have representation. Not only that, but they're a big part of the novel, which is hard to find in most YA books. There was a real love and connection between them and Calli and the two foster kids that were in the book. It felt like a real family.

The ending, though, was very abrupt and I was left wondering if maybe there were some missing pages but I don't think there were. I wanted to know so many things but that's where the story ended, so I just had to move on. It bothers me though and while I think the author may have been going for an extremely realistic ending where not everything is tied up in a bow, I would've appreciated just a few more pages. Maybe the character's story was done, with her having patched things up with everyone and working her way to be a better person, but I wasn't ready to let go!

FTC: Received e-galley from NetGalley. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

This is Teen Giveaway!

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch
“The Eleventh Plague hits disturbingly close to home…An excellent, taut debut novel.” – Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games

In the aftermath of a war, America’s landscape has been ravaged and two thirds of the population left dead from a vicious strain of influenza. Fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn and his family were among the few that survived and became salvagers, roaming the country in search of material to trade for food and other items essential for survival. But when Stephen’s grandfather dies and his father falls into a coma after an accident, Stephen finds his way to Settler’s Landing, a community that seems too good to be true, where there are real houses, barbecues, a school, and even baseball games. Then Stephen meets strong, defiant, mischievous Jenny, who refuses to accept things as they are. And when they play a prank on the town bully’s family that goes horribly wrong, chaos erupts, and they find themselves in the midst of a battle that will change Settler’s Landing forever. Click here for the book trailer.

Underdogs by Markus Zusak
Before The Book Thief, Markus Zusak wrote a trilogy of novels about the Wolfe brothers: The Underdogs, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, and Getting the Girl. Cameron and Ruben Wolfe are champions at getting into fights, coming up with half-baked schemes, and generally disappointing girls, their parents, and their much more motivated older siblings. They’re intensely loyal to each other, brothers at their best and at their very worst. But when Cameron falls head over heels for Ruben’s girlfriend, the strength of their bond is tested to its breaking point.

iBoy by Kevin Brooks
Before the attack, Tom Harvey was just an average teen. But a head-on collision with high technology has turned him into an actualized App. Fragments of a shattered iPhone are embedded in his brain. And they’re having an extraordinary effect on his every thought. Because now Tom knows, sees, and can do more than any normal boy ever could. But with his new powers comes a choice: Seek revenge on the vicious gangs who rule the South London housing project where he lives, and who violated his friend Lucy? Or keep quiet and move on? Not even the search engine in his head can predict the shocking outcome of iBoy’s actions. A wifi, thriller by YA master Kevin Brooks. Click here for the book trailer.

If these sound good to you, leave a comment below to enter to win all three of these books! Contest is for US Residents only and will end at 9pm EST on Nov. 23. If anyone has any questions, leave them in the comments and I'll address them.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Triangles by Ellen Hopkins

Triangles by Ellen Hopkins

Holly: Filled with regret for being a stay-athome mom, she sheds sixty pounds and loses herself in the world of extramarital sex. Will it bring the fulfillment she is searching for?

Andrea: A single mom and avowed celibate, she watches her friend Holly’s meltdown with a mixture of concern and contempt. Holly is throwing away what Andrea has spent her whole life searching for—a committed relationship with a decent guy. So what if Andrea picks up Holly’s castaway husband?

Marissa: She has more than her fair share of challenges—a gay, rebellious teenage son, a terminally ill daughter, and a husband who buries himself in his work rather than face the facts. As one woman’s marriage unravels, another’s rekindles. As one woman’s family comes apart at the seams, another’s reconfigures into something bigger and better. In this story of connections and disconnections, one woman’s up is another one’s down, and all of them will learn the meaning of friendship, betrayal, and forgiveness."- summary from Amazon

I've been really excited for Hopkins' adult debut since I first heard about it and was happy to get to read two of her books just a month apart (Perfect came out in Sept). She didn't let me down, except in the summary department because I had no idea how to describe the book in an interesting way when two supervisors asked me about it. But aside from that, this is a terrific book.

Hopkins always pulls me in with her flowing verse and interesting characters. This time, the reader is treated to three different women and their stories are compelling and page-turning. I will admit though that my favorite character to read was Marissa, mainly because of her gay son (and I'm hopeful that Hopkins will show us his story in the companion novel Tilt, out next year). But everyone's story was so realistic and I liked going back and forth between them all.

The book is not necessarily darker than her YA books, but it is more graphic, featuring quite a few sex scenes and some erotica writing from Holly, as well as the characters dealing with adult situations, like having a disabled child, having extramarital sex, divorce, etc. So Hopkins' older teen readers can read if they're comfortable with this stuff but I think teens in the middle (14-16) may not want to read this book until they're older.

Overall though, Hopkins' adult debut is amazing and I cannot wait to read her next adult book (and pretty much anything else she writes).

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

Monday, November 14, 2011

Meandering Monday- Reading Goals

So last week on Twitter, I made the decision to start doing some reading goals. If you watched last week's IMM vlog (not yesterday's), I talked about this a bit. Now, while I do read a ton already for review, I decided to make some extra monthly goals for myself. I may or may not review the titles, depending on how far ahead I am with my reading schedule. But I wanted to read books that people have been telling me to read for a while now, and that I've wanted to read for a while now. Here's what I have so far:

November- Read Iron Daughter, Queen, and Knight by Julie Kagawa. This came about because I'm part of a blog tour for Iron Knight and my posting date is Nov. 29. I read and LOVED The Iron King but have been slacking on reading the rest of the books- they came out so quickly! I own all four books.

December- Read the Hunger Games trilogy. This may happen a little bit in November since the books came into my library sooner than expected, but the main reason behind this, aside from being the last person on Earth to read them, is because the movie comes out on my birthday next year. So it just seems fitting that I need to get on reading them before the movie is released.

After those two, I felt the need for more monthly goals. Those just kinda came up randomly, but now I'm filled with purpose. So I did January-March:

January- Read Books 1-4 (or at least halfway through 3) of Harry Potter. This is another series that I never got around to, my reason being that I was "too cool" for them which then morphed into "I'll wait until all 7 are out so I avoid cliffhangers." but by that time, I'd started this blog and had no time to read seven 400+ page books amid all the review books I had to read. But now I will make an effort.

February- Finish Harry Potter series. I may also rewatch the movies too along with it. That would be cool, wouldn't it? Especially since I'm not one of those people who cares about the changes made from book-to-movie.

March- Read the Twilight series. I'm sure many of you will warn me off this but I'm gonna do it anyway. Or at least try. I've been watching the movies (well, I saw the first two) so I should read the books and see what my opinion of them is.

I don't know where to go after this so if anyone has any suggestions, leave them in the comments. I may do a month where I catch up on various series like the Gallagher Girls and Hex Hall, but we'll see. I might post my thoughts on these books too as I read them if you guys want to read them. I'm in the middle of Iron Daughter now (well, done with Part 1) and I'm not enjoying it as much as The Iron King, though it seems to be getting better with the appearance of Puck who brings in fun and hilarity! What did you all think of The Iron Daughter? Do any of you have your own reading goals outside of reviewing and your blog?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In My Mailbox- Week of November 6 + Retrospective

I've got another vlog for you guys! Enjoy!

Books Shown:

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini (hardcover, Nov. 2011)
What Happened to Hannah by Mary Kay McComas (ARC, Feb 2012)
Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne (ARC, Feb 2012 + pamphlet and dog toy)
The Right and the Real by Joelle Anthony (ARC, April 2012)
Dark Eyes by William Richter (ARC, March 2012)
Truth by Julia Karr (ARC, Jan 2012)
The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour (ARC, Feb 2012)
There is No Dog by Meg Rosoff (ARC, Jan 2012)
Radiant Days by Elizabeth Hand (ARC, April 2012)
Ripper by Stefan Petrucha (ARC, March 2012)
Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez (hardcover, Oct 2011)
Rush by Jeremy Iversen (paperback, Nov 2011)

and here's a retrospective for this past week-

Monday- I posted a discussion about ARC distribution and I'd love more people to comment on it with their thoughts and opinions!

Tuesday- I reviewed You are My Only by Beth Kephart, which is out in stores now.

Wednesday- I did a Waiting on Wednesday featuring titles from HarperTeen's Summer 2012 catalog!

Thursday- I reviewed Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez, which is out in stores now!

Saturday- I reviewed The Survival Kit by Donna Freitas, which is out in stores now!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Survival Kit by Donna Freitas

The Survival Kit by Donna Freitas

"When Rose’s mom dies, she leaves behind a brown paper bag labeled Rose’s Survival Kit. Inside the bag, Rose finds an iPod, with a to-be-determined playlist; a picture of peonies, for growing; a crystal heart, for loving; a paper star, for making a wish; and a paper kite, for letting go.

As Rose ponders the meaning of each item, she finds herself returning again and again to an unexpected source of comfort. Will is her family’s gardener, the school hockey star, and the only person who really understands what she’s going through. Can loss lead to love?"- summary from Amazon

I simply adore Donna Freitas' novels- she's definitely up there in my Top 5 Authors of All Time (Meg Cabot and Wendy Mass are there too; not sure about the other two yet... maybe I should make a list sometime?). It brightens my day when I have a new book from her, so it was a joy to read this new one. Her writing just flows so well and I really get involved in the storyline so the pages just fly by. This is her longest book yet but it just went by so quickly.

I loved the characters and Freitas did a wonderful job conveying the sense of loss felt by Rose and her family as well as Will, their gardener (and Rose's love interest) after losing their respective family members. The idea of the Survival Kit is really clever and I loved how it tied in to the storyline, spurring the plot along and bringing up memories of Rose's mom when she was still alive.

Seeing Rose work her way back into a normal life was handled really well. It happened slowly and organically, and just made sense. I really enjoyed the interactions with her friends as well as the slow build-up of interactions between her and Will. Their romance was really cute to read about and the ending was very sweet.

Overall, another success for Freitas and each of her books are so different from each other, which I just love and admire her for doing. It just makes each novel fresh and interesting. I can't wait to see what she does next!

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

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez

"Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. And Jeremy is hands-down the wrong guy for her to fall for. He is infuriating, arrogant, and the only person who can stand in the way of Carmen getting the one thing she wants most: to win the prestigious Guarneri competition. Carmen's whole life is violin, and until she met Jeremy, her whole focus was winning. But what if Jeremy isn't just hot...what if Jeremy is better?

Carmen knows that kissing Jeremy can't end well, but she just can't stay away. Nobody else understands her--and riles her up--like he does. Still, she can't trust him with her biggest secret: She is so desperate to win she takes anti-anxiety drugs to perform, and what started as an easy fix has become a hungry addiction. Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of always doing what she’s told, doing what's expected.

Sometimes, being on top just means you have a long way to fall...."- summary from Amazon

What a fantastic debut! I will admit though that based on the cover and prologue, I thought it was a paranormal book (or like a magical realism book, ala Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White). But what I found within was so much better- a wonderfully written contemporary debut that just knocked my socks off. I read this book in 2 days, and ok, part of that was because the e-galley was running out, but for the most part, it was because this was such an intriguing, compelling book.

Carmen was a great main character and I loved reading her story. She's very relateable, despite having a Grammy and several CD releases, and fairly fun. I really enjoyed reading her interactions with her tutor (whose name I can't remember) and of course the ones with Jeremy. Those two together were just immensely fun to read. Carmen's mother, however, was not fun to read about; I seriously wanted to slap her at times.

This book showed the darker side of classical music competitions and really, just about any area where someone is striving to be perfect. Perfection cannot be obtained and it'll kill you to keep trying for it. The ending was unexpected but nice to read and I kinda want to read more about Carmen and what happens to her! I hope there's a sequel.

Overall, a simply amazing contemporary debut and one you should all check out. Martinez is an author to keep your eye on.

FTC: Received e-galley from Simon & Schuster Galley Grab. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday- Harper Summer 2012 Catalog

So the other day, Harper Collins released their Summer 2012 catalog and I saw a TON of titles I wanted. Here's just a few of them:
My thoughts: I read Supernaturally last month and just loved it. I really enjoy coming into this world and spending time with these characters. I'm excited to read the final installment and get all the answers I want, but I'm sad to see these characters go!!
My thoughts: I want this book so badly I even DREAMT about it! Seriously, I dreamed that I got an ARC of it. No judgment- we all do this! It sounds so funny and I'm excited to see Sarah and Justine working together. It should be a fabulous book and I want it now.
My thoughts: I saw this and it sounded really cool. Here's the blurb- "35 girls. 1 crown. The competition of a lifetime. Cinderella meets television’s The Bachelor in this fresh dystopian romance." How interesting is that?! But that's not the only reason I'm excited for this book- there's also the gorgeous cover (where does Harper get all these awesome dresses from?) and the fact that Kiera Cass is a Virginia author! I love finding new authors that live nearby because it means fun book events I can go to!
My thoughts: I have been looking forward to a new Diana book since Ascendant came out in Sept 2010. It feels like it's been forever and I'm so excited for this new novel. It sounds so interesting and I want it in my hands!! Plus, the cover is extremely beautiful too; it actually reminds me a bit of the original cover for The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson.

There's a ton of others, like A Midsummer Tight's Dream by Louise Rennison and A Want So Wicked by Suzanne Young, and I'm so excited for Harper's lineup next year!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

You Are My Only by Beth Kephart

You are My Only by Beth Kephart

"Emmy Rane is married at nineteen, a mother by twenty. Trapped in a life with a husband she no longer loves, Baby is her only joy. Then one sunny day in September, Emmy takes a few fateful steps away from her baby and returns to find her missing. All that is left behind is a yellow sock.

Fourteen years later, Sophie, a homeschooled, reclusive teenage girl is forced to move frequently and abruptly from place to place, perpetually running from what her mother calls the "No Good." One afternoon, Sophie breaks the rules, ventures out, and meets Joey and his two aunts. It is this loving family that gives Sophie the courage to look into her past. What she discovers changes her world forever. . . .

The riveting stories of Emmy and Sophie—alternating narratives of loss, imprisonment, and freedom regained—escalate with breathless suspense toward an unforgettable climax."- summary from Amazon

This is my first Kephart book and after reading it, I'm a bit on the fence about reading more by her. I was expecting something different from this book than what I got and it made the reading a bit of a chore at times. It's more of a character-focused book than plot-focused and, for me, it just didn't make sense when you have an exciting plot like this that it would be so slow, you know? I mean, the writing is beautiful and Kephart can clearly write very well but it just didn't work for me.

I did like how the story was told from both the mother and the daughter. It made sense and just worked really well. I liked the friendship that Joey and Sophie had once she ventured out into the world. Joey's aunts were good characters too.

Overall, while it's not a bad book by any means, it was a bit of a letdown for me. I'd probably give it an average grade of C if I did that sort of thing.

FTC: Received e-galley from Netgalley. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Meandering Monday- ARC distribution

Disclaimer: I really do not want to offend anyone with this post but I really wanted to talk about this. I've tried to write about it as delicately as possible.

So I was talking with my friend Susan of Wastepaper Prose the other day about ARC distribution among bloggers and it got me thinking. Probably more than something like this should. But anyway, I was complaining a bit about how sometimes I never hear back from publicists about my ARC requests. Like, not even a rejection. It bothers me when I don't know what's going on and if I email someone a few times about the same books (with the proper waiting time in between) and they don't reply, I feel like I'm purposely being ignored. That's most likely not the case, but it feels that way. I do know that publicists are extremely busy and I am grateful that ARCs even get sent to me.

But it would be nice to just hear back if we can't get the ARCs we request. The majority of bloggers are very mature and wouldn't lash out or something if they were rejected. We're a resourceful bunch and can either borrow from a friend, or sign up for an ARC tour, or wait for the book to release to either buy it or borrow from the library. Or, heck, even have the publisher send a finished copy for review. We also realize that ARCs are limited and cost a lot of money to make, though I'll talk about the limited aspect later.

My idea was that there should be a publicist specifically for bloggers in every department of a publishing house (children's, MG/YA, Adult, Non-fiction). I've seen one or two publishing houses do something like this- HarperTeen comes to mind with their Digital Publicists. Have someone just completely immerse themselves in the blogosphere and make spreadsheets detailing which blogs review what, and send books out accordingly. Or something else that could be done, which Little Brown does, is send out a mass email with upcoming books for a certain month and seeing who wants what. Do it a couple months in advance, so in November, send an email about books to be released in February. LB then gives a deadline a few weeks away for bloggers to get their requests in by and the books are sent out shortly after. That way, ARCs get sent to the people who actually want them. While I do enjoy HarperTeen's monthly ARC packages that get sent to me and others blindly, I do get some books I simply don't want or just don't have the time for.

This is where the "limited" thing comes into play. If ARCs are so limited, then why are publicists sending out ARCs to people who don't request them, and in the end, may not want them? If you've seen my past couple In My Mailbox vlogs, I've gotten some stuff from adult departments of HarperCollins that doesn't really interest me. Yes, I have been known to read some adult stuff from them but I am very selective of what I read. Usually, it's YA authors I love who also publish adult books with them (examples being Meg Cabot and Sara Shepard). That doesn't mean I want to read other random books being published by you. I've also received some picture books, which are definitely something I never review; luckily, they were finished copies so I was able to just donate them to my library. But seriously, there are times I get an ARC of something and I just don't know what to do with it, even YA ones. It doesn't make any sense to me to do random mailings like that; it's just a waste of an ARC. I don't have the money to send it to someone else so it just languishes on my shelves. Not exactly what the publicist had in mind, right?

That's why I do think having a more request-based operation would be better, but we need someone whose sole job is to handle blogger reviews, requests, and mailings now that the blogosphere is growing tremondously every day. ARCs would then get into the right hands and bloggers wouldn't have to worry about where to put the 10 unwanted, unsolicited ARCs they received that month. Or put more ARCs up on Netgalley. Netgalley is pretty damn awesome because I'm able to get ARCs that I may not have been able to get otherwise (like from Random House, as I never get any ARCs from them). Plus, it doesn't cost the publisher anything so even if I request a title I have a passing interest in, it doesn't lose them any money if I end up not reviewing it because I don't have the time (though I am trying my best to be more selective and to keep up with my e-galleys).

I don't even know if this is even feasible, but I wanted to get my thoughts out there because it was bothering me just keeping it in. Does anyone else have any thoughts, suggestions, disagreements, trolling, whatever they want to add? Leave a comment! I'd love to hear what other people think. Be aware that I do screen comments, but only so spam doesn't accidentally get through. So your comment won't show up right away, but rest assured that it will show up publicly soon enough!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

In My Mailbox- Week of October 23 + Retrospective

Here's another In My Mailbox vlog featuring books from this past week. It's very long though- I kinda rambled. Hope you all enjoy!

Books Shown:

Tell Me A Secret by Holly Cupala (audiobook)
Hallowed by Cynthia Hand (ARC; Jan 2012)
More Than Words Can Say by Robert Barclay (ARC; Dec 2011)
The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg (ARC; Feb 2012)
Try Not to Breathe by Jennifer R. Hubbard (ARC; Jan 2012)
Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson (ARC; Feb 2012)
Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood (ARC; Feb 2012 + goodies!)
Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey (ARC; Dec 2011)
The Hunger Games + Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (from library)

and here's my retrospective for the past week:

Monday- I posted my In My Mailbox vlog for the week of October 23.

Tuesday- I reviewed A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies, which is out in stores now!

Wednesday- I did a Waiting on Wednesday post for Taken by Storm by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, out in stores May 2012!

Thursday- I reviewed Between the Sea and the Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore, which is out in stores now!

Friday- I brought Cat Friday back with a cute picture of one of my cats posing with Incarnate!

Saturday- I reviewed Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday, which is out in stores now!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday

Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday
"First I find out that my boyfriend is cheating on me. Then he’s pegged as the #1 suspect in a murder. And now he’s depending on me to clear his name. Seriously?

As much as I wouldn’t mind watching him squirm, I know that he’s innocent. So I’m brushing off my previously untapped detective skills and getting down to business. But I keep tripping over dead bodies and I’m still no closer to figuring out who did it. And what’s worse: all signs seem to point to me as the killer’s next victim.

I really need to pick a better boyfriend next time."- summary from Amazon

I absolutely love Halliday's adult mysteries and was excited to see that she was doing a YA series. This book is similar to her adult books (though not as steamy) and therefore just as good. Deadly Cool is very funny, a bit romantic, and, of course, suspenseful.

What I especially love, aside from the humor, was how the romance happened. Halliday did the same thing in her adult books and it's just more realistic. The romantic leads start off hating each other a bit and getting on each other's nerves, then slowly becoming friends throughout the first book and by the end of the first book, the romance is slowly building. They aren't together yet but you know they will be. I like that Halliday takes her time with the romances.

The mystery is handled really well and I had no idea who the killer could be until basically right before Hartley did. But mainly that's because I had time to think about it since I got to that part right when it was time to go to work for the day. Usually I'm not very good at figuring it out so it was nice to be right.

I can't wait for more from Halliday- this is a great start to a series- and it makes me want to finish up her High Heels mysteries.

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

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cat Friday (20)

It's Cat Friday again! It's been gone for a while due to lack of time and then my break, but now it's back! Cat Friday is a somewhat-weekly meme that's similar to Presenting Lenore's Cat Tuesday, in which I show off pictures of my cats. You've seen them in videos wandering by but now you can see them more clearly.

Jodi Meadows, author of the upcoming Incarnate, put out a call for animals to pose with ARCs of her book. So I kept meaning to do some since I've got some adorable cats and an ARC of Incarnate (btw, the cover is so beautiful, isn't it?). It took me several weeks but finally I took the two minutes of time to actually take some photos. This was one of them, featuring Pearl who seems very intrigued by what's leaning against his stomach. Isn't Pearl so white and fluffy?! I love him. He's on top of one of my bookshelves, so you can see some books.

Also, you can't really see it here but Pearl looks uncannily like Lenore's Lu (seen here also with Incarnate) though they are different genders, I believe.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Between the Sea and the Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore

Between the Sea and the Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore
"For as long as Esmerine can remember, she has longed to join her older sister, Dosinia, as a siren--the highest calling a mermaid can have. When Dosinia runs away to the mainland, Esmerine is sent to retrieve her. Using magic to transform her tail into legs, she makes her way unsteadily to the capital city. There she comes upon a friend she hasn't seen since childhood--a dashing young man named Alandare, who belongs to a winged race of people. As Esmerine and Alandare band together to search for Dosinia, they rekindle a friendship . . . and ignite the emotions for a love so great, it cannot be bound by sea, land, or air."- summary from Amazon

While I loved Dolamore's debut, I was not as impressed with this novel. Perhaps my expectations were too high after having wanted the book for so long (I knew about it at least from June 2010), but it was only an average story for me.

It took a while for the book to really get going, which is a problem when the book is only 230 pages long. The pacing throughout was a bit off and was fairly slow despite the short length. I also wasn't invested in the characters as much, though I did still find the romance between Alander and Esmerine really sweet and realistic. I felt like I didn't really get to know them all that well, aside from basic things. This could have been a result of the third person perspective though.

The mythology of mermaids becoming sirens and the whole idea of the Fandarsee was really interesting and I'd love to read more about it. What was revealed in the story was a good start, but I do kind of want to know more. The ending was done really well though and I liked how the novel was resolved.

Overall, if I were to do stars, this would be in between a 3 and a 3.5 (out of 5). It's good (and the cover is gorgeous) but not terribly outstanding. I hated feeling this way because I really wanted to love the story and 5-star it all over the place, but I just can't.

FTC: Received ARC from my friend Susan of Wastepaper Prose (thanks!). Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday- Taken by Storm by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Taken by Storm by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
"The fast-paced third installment in the popular Raised by Wolves series called “the most compelling YA werewolf series out there” by New York Times best-selling author Melissa Marr, Taken by Storm will be devoured by the still rabid fans of this series.

It’s increasingly difficult for human Bryn, fragile and weak compared with any werewolf, to keep her position and protect her Pack. She barely made it out of Trial by Fire alive—and now she has to face the other Packs and a Rabid who might bring them all down."- summary from Egmont catalog

My thoughts: I love this series and was so happy to see the cover for the third book while browsing through Egmont's 2012 catalogs. Isn't it so pretty? Aside from the prettiness, I'm so excited to read this book because this series is pretty damn awesome. It'll be out in stores May 22, 2012 (though it looks like Netgalley is part of the marketing plan, so bloggers could get it early! YAY!!). Is anyone else excited for this book?!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies

A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies

"On the night of Skye’s seventeenth birthday, she meets two enigmatic strangers. Complete opposites—like fire and ice—Asher is dark and wild, while Devin is fair and aloof. Their sudden appearance sends Skye’s life into a tailspin. She has no idea what they want, or why they seem to follow her every move—only that their presence coincides with a flurry of strange events. Soon she begins to doubt not just the identity of the two boys, but also the truth about her own past.

In the dead of a bitingly cold Colorado winter, Skye finds herself coming to terms with the impossible secret that threatens to shatter her world. Torn between Asher, who she can’t help falling for, and Devin, who she can’t stay away from, the consequences of Skye’s choice will reach further than the three of them could ever imagine."- summary from Amazon

I've been really excited for Davies' book since my first BEA in 2010 when she told me a little bit about it. I was really happy to get a signed ARC at this year's BEA because of a very sweet woman (scroll down about halfway right before the Lisa Yee pic). Anyway, on to the review.

A Beautiful Dark is a really interesting debut. It's very mysterious and compelling, which made the book fly by. Skye is a good character and I liked seeing her have a big interest in skiing; she didn't just become a flat character once the love triangle aspect started like some characters can. In the beginning, I did think that the book was a bit Personal Demons-ish but as I got further into the story, it became so much more. The mythology that Davies created was very cool and I can't wait to find out more about Skye's past and role in all this.

But be warned, there's a huge cliffhanger at the end. I was seriously peeved (ok, maybe not that much) when I got to the last page and wondered how Davies could do that to her readers. But I'm definitely excited and eager to read the next book, but it sucks I have to wait a year (or at least til next year's BEA)!

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