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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Kiss Crush Collide by Christina Meredith

Kiss Crush Collide by Christina Meredith
What Leah did—only she really shouldn’t have—one hot night at a country club party.

What Leah has—only she really shouldn’t have—on the guy with the green eyes, the guy who is not her perfect boyfriend, the guy who does not fit in her picture-perfect life, the guy her sisters will only mock and her mother will never approve of. Not in a million years.

What happens when everything you always thought you wanted—having cool friends, being class valedictorian and homecoming queen—runs smack into everything it turns out you really do want.

Kiss. Crush. Collide.
For Leah and Porter, summer is only the beginning."- summary from Amazon

I wasn't terribly impressed with this novel. It was decent enough, but the characters and the story just never took a full shape. Meredith definitely knows how to write love scenes though because those were sizzling but unfortunately I never got more than a lust sort of vibe between Leah and Porter. Also, I never really understood how he was from the "wrong side of the tracks"; I mean, yeah, he worked at the country club but his dad goes there and is somehow connected to it.

Leah's home life, while interesting, never got past the superficiality of it and so I couldn't really connect too well with her on that front. I definitely think there could have been more done to plump that aspect of the book up.

Overall, the book is decent and the author does show promise, but this is definitely a library or paperback type of book.

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

Friday, December 30, 2011

Cat Friday (23)

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.

I got this picture of Maya mid-yawn and it's just too awesome not to show. Then in the next shot, she's very prim and proper. It's like she knows that the first photo didn't turn out well and wants to make things better.

Hope you guys enjoyed these two shots of a very cute cat!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
"Every other day, Kali D'Angelo is a normal sixteen-year-old girl. She goes to public high school. She attends pep rallies. She's human.

And then every day in between...She's something else entirely.

Though she still looks like herself, every twenty-four hours predatory instincts take over and Kali becomes a feared demon-hunter with the undeniable urge to hunt, trap, and kill zombies, hellhounds, and other supernatural creatures. Kali has no idea why she is the way she is, but she gives in to instinct anyway. Even though the government considers it environmental terrorism.

When Kali notices a mark on the lower back of a popular girl at school, she knows instantly that the girl is marked for death by one of these creatures. Kali has twenty-four hours to save her and, unfortunately, she'll have to do it as a human. With the help of a few new friends, Kali takes a risk that her human body might not survive...and learns the secrets of her mysterious condition in the process."- summary from Jennifer's website (the only website to have the full summary; everywhere else stops at "few new friends" for some reason)

I love Barnes' Raised by Wolves books (and am eagerly waiting for the third book) and so was excited to read something different from her (I do know she has books out from before RBW, but I don't have time to really read books from several years ago, which is a bit of a shame.). This was an amazing book that I could not put down. It's full of suspense and non-stop action with tons of amazing reveals.

Kali is a great main character full of spunk, sarcasm, and smarts. I also loved pretty much every other character involved in Kali's quest that it's hard to pick favorites. Even pretty minor characters like some of Skylar's brothers were fun to read about. Both Skylar and Bethany were fantastic secondary characters and it was great having them along on the journey. Barnes does a wonderful job with all of her characters, really making them jump out and be real and flawed. I loved it.

I liked the variety of creatures Barnes featured in the book as they're ones not usually found in paranormal and urban fantasy (at least, the ones I've read). I will warn people that this book is fairly gruesome and violent. Action scenes involving killing are pretty well detailed so this may not be for the squeamish.

Overall, an absolutely amazing book, though I'm a bit peeved at something that I felt could have been avoided but it's a spoiler so if you've read the book and want to know what it is, you can talk to me about it. But it is an awesome book otherwise, lol. I also had no idea it was going to be a series but it ends well and I cannot wait for the next book!

FTC: Borrowed ARC from Susan of Wastepaper Prose (after the e-galley I had was archived over a month before release date for no reason and with no warning, so thanks Egmont.). Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sirenz Book Trailer!

Hey everyone, there's this awesome book that came out from Flux this past July called Sirenz by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman. If you haven't read it, you need to, and if my recommendation isn't enough, check out this amazing book trailer!

Sirenz is out in stores now as a paperback, with the sequel Sirenz Back in Fashion coming out next June also as a paperback! So it's good for your wallets and your voracious reading!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers by Lynn Weingarten

The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers by Lynn Weingarten
"If there’s an upside to having your heart broken, it’s this: A broken heart makes you brave.

The first day of sophomore year doesn’t go the way Lucy planned. After a summer apart from her boyfriend, she’s ready to greet him with a special surprise and instead gets a shocking one in return: He’s breaking up with her. Beyond devastated, Lucy has no idea how she’s going to make it through homeroom, let alone the rest of her life.

Enter three stunning girls with the unnatural ability to attract boys and an offer Lucy can’t refuse: They can heal her heart in an instant. And then she’ll be one of them—a member of a sisterhood that is impervious to heartbreak and has access to magic distilled from the tears of brokenhearted boys. But to gain their power, Lucy must get a guy to fall in love with her the old-fashioned way, and then break his heart in the next seven days.

While the sisterhood may need another Heartbreaker, Lucy’s only desire is to get her ex back. But how far is she willing to go, and who is she willing to cross to get what she wants?"- summary from Amazon

I absolutely adored Weingarten's debut, Wherever Nina Lies, which was just so fun, intriguing and so unputdownable, so of course I was eagerly anticipating her follow-up. While I did like the book, it took me a long while to really get engrossed in it. For me, it was kinda lacking that same spark that made her debut such a page-turner. It's not bad or anything, but I just never felt a pull to pick up the book and read it.

Once in the latter half of the book, I was turning pages quickly wanting to know what would happen next and getting really involved in Lucy's story. It's a magical second half that dazzles and has some wonderful twists to it, which leads to a nice ending that makes me want more.

The idea of the Heartbreakers was really cool and I liked how Weingarten set it up and how information was dispensed about them. There was never an info dump; there's a sprinkling throughout the book as Lucy gets further involved and deals with several tests.

Overall, it is a good book, though it does take time to become invested, and I'm still looking forward to more from Weingarten. I highly suggest her debut book to anyone; it's amazing.

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

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cover Reveal- Chosen Ones by Tiffany Truitt!

I've got a great cover reveal for you today! It's for Chosen Ones by Tiffany Truitt, an April 2012 release (tentative) from Entangled Publishing. Let's take a look at this gorgeous cover (you can click on it for a bigger view, I think)):

Doesn't it look amazing?! And the summary looks really good as well-

What if you were mankind’s last chance at survival?

Sixteen-year-old Tess lives in a compound in what was once the Western United States, now decimated after a devastating fourth World War. But long before that, life as we knew it had been irrevocably changed, as women mysteriously lost the ability to bring forth life. Faced with the extinction of the human race, the government began the Council of Creators, meant to search out alternative methods of creating life. The resulting artificial human beings, or Chosen Ones, were extraordinarily beautiful, unbelievably strong, and unabashedly deadly.

Life is bleak, but uncomplicated for Tess as she follows the rigid rules of her dystopian society, until the day she begins work at Templeton, the training facility for newly created Chosen Ones. There, she meets James, a Chosen One whose odd love of music and reading rivals only her own. The attraction between the two is immediate in its intensity—and overwhelming in its danger.

But there is more to the goings-on at Templeton than Tess ever knew, and as the veil is lifted from her eyes, she uncovers a dark underground movement bent not on taking down the Chosen Ones, but the Council itself. Will Tess be able to stand up to those who would oppress her, even if it means giving up the only happiness in her life?

You can add the book on GoodReads. So what do you all think? Chosen Ones is the first in a dystopian trilogy.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday- Simon and Schuster 2012

Here's my second-to-last Waiting on Wednesday for 2011 where I spotlight some 2012 books from each publisher. Previous publishers I've spotlighted are HarperCollins, Scholastic, Little Brown, Penguin, and Hyperion. Today I'm spotlighting Simon and Schuster!

Fever by Lauren DeStefano
My thoughts: I absolutely loved the first book in this trilogy and cannot wait to see what DeStefano comes up with next for Rhine and Gabriel. I hope I get a Galley Grab newsletter with a link to the e-galley soon!! This will be released Feb 21.

Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler
My thoughts: I really loved Ockler's debut and feel bad that I haven't yet read her second book Fixing Delilah. But I'm very excited for her third book and hope that my library gets a copy in. If you haven't read any of Ockler's books, do so. She's an awesome writer. This will be released Jan 3.

Island of Silence (Unwanteds #2) by Lisa McMann
My thoughts: I love Lisa's books and her new middle-grade fantasy series is just so much fun. I absolutely cannot wait for this new addition to the series and I hope it goes for 7 books like Lisa wants it to. I can't get enough of it. This will be released in September.

The One That I Want by Jennifer Echols
My thoughts: I was a bit sad when this was originally announced as just an e-book because I don't have an e-reader. But then good news! It's being released as a paperback on Feb 7! I love Jennifer's books so much and I absolutely cannot wait to read this book.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Don't Let Me Go by J.H. Trumble

Don't Let Me Go by J.H. Trumble
"Some people spend their whole lives looking for the right partner. Nate Schaper found his in high school. In the eight months since their cautious flirting became a real, heart-pounding, tell-the-parents relationship, Nate and Adam have been inseparable. Even when local kids take their homophobia to brutal levels, Nate is undaunted. He and Adam are rock solid. Two parts of a whole. Yin and yang.

But when Adam graduates and takes an off-Broadway job in New York--at Nate's insistence--that certainty begins to flicker. Nate's friends can't keep his insecurities at bay, especially when he catches Skyped glimpses of Adam's shirtless roommate. Nate starts a blog to vent his frustrations and becomes the center of a school controversy, drawing ire and support in equal amounts. But it's the attention of a new boy who is looking for more than guidance that forces him to confront who and what he really wants."- summary from Amazon

Trumble has written a really emotional, funny, realistic debut. It's one of the best books I've read all year, if not THE best. I was a bit wary in the beginning because I didn't like Nate at all. I thought he was being really pissy for no reason and had no idea what an amazing boyfriend he had. Seriously, I was REALLY frustrated so it took me a bit of time to get 100 pages in. But once I got there, and Nate's past got revealed as well as good times between Nate and Adam were shown, it came together. What Trumble did here is a huge accomplishment- she made a really realistic character who felt like a real person. Nate is an extremely flawed character and there will be times that you like him and times you don't, but in the end, you still root for him. For the whole book, I was like "JUST TALK THINGS OUT!!" and "WHY ARE YOU BEING SO STUPID?!" It doesn't happen often that I get that invested in characters and a story. I felt like I was reading about people I knew and they were telling me everything that was going on.

I loved the friendship between Nate and Danial (btw, not a fan of his name at all- I'm one of those people who reads the words in their head- like an internal audio book- so everytime I came to his name, I was like "It should be Daniel!"); it's how all relationships should be between gay and straight people, especially men. Sexuality shouldn't be an issue and your friends should be loyal and willing to stand up for you.

I really liked the way Trumble unfolded the story, telling it a bit out of order. It starts out in the present day with Nate driving Adam to the airport for his off-Broadway job and from there, it goes back to when they first met and started dating back to present day then back to a memory. It's like every other chapter was written about an event in the past. Trumble also does not shy away from sex and sex talk- there's nothing graphic but it's also not sanitized in any way. Adam and Nate have a true relationship. There's also a nice epilogue that takes place 10 years in the future, which I loved.

Overall, this is a book I could go on and on about. I loved it that much. It's a stellar debut and I absolutely cannot wait to see what Trumble has in store for us next!!

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

Monday, December 19, 2011

Meandering Monday- 2011 Goals

OK so I didn't really make any goals for myself this year. I just left it all open-ended and will be happy with whatever I achieved, and sad with what I've failed on.

Anyway, here's where I'm at with a couple different challenges:

How many books have I read this year? I'm up to having completed 138 books, with three being read right now (Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers by Lynn Weingarten, Wherever You Go by Heather Davis, and The Selection by Kiera Cass). I should be done with the first two before I go home on Thursday and will try to finish The Selection while I'm home along with getting through a majority of another book. I'd like to end the year at 145 books, which would mean 4 extra books after finishing the ones I'm reading now.

How many debut books have I read this year? The awesome Kristi from The Story Siren hosts this challenge and it's such a great way of promoting debuts. I've read 43 debut titles and in the middle of another (The Selection- a 2012 debut). I'll probably fit in at least one more after The Selection to make it 45. It's going to be Kiss Crush Collide by Christina Meredith. If I have time for another, it'll be Cinder by Marissa Meyer (I have the month of January scheduled so I know what I'm reading next).

How have I done on my monthly reading challenges? Well, I got caught up with the Iron Fey series in November, so that's a success! The failure is not reading The Hunger Games trilogy this month. I just simply couldn't fit it in and I know there's still time in the month but I really don't see it happening. I might read the first book, but most likely won't. I will definitely be fitting it in before March when the movie comes out though but it's going to be pushing my other monthly reading goals back a bit.

How have you all done with your challenges this year? Have you met them? Exceeded them? Fallen short of them? Is there anything you can do in the next two weeks to get it done?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

In My Mailbox- Week of December 11 + Retrospective

This week's vlog is in two parts because my battery died on me and I was too lazy to get new ones and redo it, so I just rushed through the last set of books before it turned off again. But they're both short, which is always nice.

Books Shown:

Irises by Francisco X. Stork (hardcover, Jan 2012)
Glimmer by Phoebe Kitanidis (ARC, April 2012)
The Calling by Kelley Armstrng (ARC, April 2012)
The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting (ARC, April 2012)
The Last Apprentice by Joseph Delaney (ARC, April 2012)
Fear by Michael Grant (ARC, April 2012)
Dead to You by Lisa McMann (ARC, February 2012)
Holding on to Zoe by George Ella Lyon (ARC, July 2012)
Wicked Sweet by Mar'ce Merrell (ARC, June 2012)
All These Lives by Sarah Wylie (ARC, June 2012)
Of Poseidon by Anna Banks (ARC, May 2012)
Struck by Jennifer Bosworth (ARC, May 2012)
Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama (ARC, August 2012)
Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne (ARC, June 2012)

Books Not Shown (i.e. Random House box of books):

Don't Expect Magic by Kathy McCullough (hardcover, Nov 2011)
Extraordinary by Adam Selzer (hardcover, Nov 2011)
Finding Somewhere by Joseph Monninger (hardcover, Nov 2011)
The File of Angelyn Stark by Catherine Atkins (hardcover, Nov 2011)
The Sharp Time by Mary O'Connell (hardcover, Nov 2011)
Unleashed by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie (hardcover, Nov 2011)
Blood Sun by David Gilman (hardcover, Dec 2011)

and here's my retrospective:

Tuesday- I reviewed Amplified by Tara Kelly, which is out in stores now!

Wednesday- I spotlighted titles from Hyperion's 2012 catalog as part of Waiting on Wednesday.

Thursday- I reviewed Legacy by Molly Cochran, which will be out in stores Dec. 20!

Friday- I posted a new Cat Friday, which featured a kitty with Incarnate by Jodi Meadows!

Saturday- I reviewed Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay, which will be out in stores Dec. 27!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay

Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay
"My wish is to fall cranium over Converse in dizzy daydream-worthy love.

(If only it were that easy.)

Marcie has been dragged away from home for the summer—from Idaho to a family summerhouse in New Hampshire. She’s left behind her friends, a group of freaks and geeks called the Leftovers, including her emo-rocker boyfriend, and her father.

By the time Labor Day rolls around, Marcie suspects this “summer vacation” has become permanent. She has to start at a new school, and there she leaves behind her Leftover status when a cute boy brings her breakfast and a new romance heats up. But understanding love, especially when you’ve watched your parents’ affections end, is elusive. What does it feel like, really? Can you even know it until you’ve lost it?"- summary from Amazon

I really enjoyed this book-in-verse. It's an interesting, unique exploration of what love is, which was a nice break from a lot of love triangles and insta-love that goes on in a lot of YA novels these days (though there is a bit of a love triangle here, but it's long-distance).

Marcie is a typical teenager and I think a lot of readers will connect with her. I found her voice a bit young at times, but it didn't bother me too much. There's also some great swoon-worthy moments between both of her love interests. I also like that part of it took place in Idaho because books are never set there (the only other that comes to mind is the Princess for Hire series by Lindsey Leavitt).

Overall, I really liked Tregay's debut and I'm looking forward to more from her.

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

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cat Friday (22)

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.

I have another kitty with Incarnate picture to show off, thistime with Samson. I love how he's looking right at the camera and their eyes are on the same level. How cool is that? Plus, he's just adorable, even sitting on a notice from my public library reminding me to pick up a book I had on hold, lol.

Do you all want more pics of my kitties with Incarnate? I can make it happen if the fans want it. Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Legacy by Molly Cochran

Legacy by Molly Cochran
"When her widowed father dumps 16-year-old Katy Jessevar in a boarding school in Whitfield, Massachusetts, she has no idea that fate has just opened the door to both her future and her past. Nearly everyone in Whitfield is a witch, as is Katy herself, although she has struggled all her life to hide her unusual talents. Stuck at a boarding school where her fellow studens seem to despise her, Katy soon discovers that Whitfield is the place where her mother commited suicide under mysterious circumstances when Katy was just a small child. With dark forces converging on Whitfield, it’s up to Katy to unravel her family’s many secrets to save the boy she loves and the town itself from destruction."- summary from Amazon

I love books about witches so this was right up my alley. I really enjoyed Cochran's mythology for the town of Whitfield and its history was very rich. The reader gets quite a few glimpses into the past and it was nice to see that. Katy is a great character and I really liked her narration; her relationships with her father and step-mother were handled well and there's some great change between all three throughout the novel.

Katy's relationship with Peter was a bit insta-love. He doesn't like her in the beginning for a bit but then there's like this extremely quick turnaround and they're all over each other pretty much. He tries to hold back because of his secret but their longing and romance could be a bit much for me. This is also coming from someone who LOVES romance in books so that's saying something.

But overall, this is a pretty good debut with some awesome action scenes (involving magic!) and compelling writing.

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday- Hyperion 2012

I'm continuing my series of spotlighting 2012 titles by publisher for Waiting on Wednesday. I've previously done HarperTeen, Scholastic, Little Brown, and Penguin; now today I'm spotlighting Hyperion titles.

As Dead as It Gets by Katie Alender
My thoughts: I love Alender's creepy tales and am really excited for the final book in the trilogy. I really enjoy the characters and just can't wait to read it. It will be released in May 2012. Add to GoodReads or pre-order on Amazon.

From What I Remember by Stacey Kramer and Valerie Thomas
My thoughts: I love books with multiple points of view and this just sounds really interesting. It's a contemporary novel, which is always nice to see in the ocean of paranormals, and seems like it'll be a lot of fun to read. This will be released in May 2012. Add to GoodReads or pre-order on Amazon.

A Farewell to Charms by Lindsey Leavitt
My thoughts: OK, so I'm a bit behind on Desi's adventures having not yet read the second book Royal Treatment, but I'm still excited for this third book because Leavitt is an awesome writer. Plus, I did really enjoy the first book Princess for Hire. I gotta find the time to fit Royal Treatment before the final book releases in June 2012. Add to GoodReads or pre-order on Amazon.

Secret Letters by Leah Scheier
My thoughts: I'm a bit hesitant when it comes to historical fiction but this sounds like it's got a lot of intrigue and action going on. Plus, I love mysteries so I'm definitely willing to give this debut a shot! This will be released in June 2012. Add to GoodReads or pre-order on Amazon.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Amplified by Tara Kelly

Amplified by Tara Kelly
"When privileged 17-year-old Jasmine gets kicked out of her house, she takes what is left of her savings and flees to Santa Cruz to pursue her dream of becoming a musician. Jasmine finds the ideal room in an oceanfront house, but she needs to convince the three guys living there that she's the perfect roommate and lead guitarist for their band, C-Side. Too bad she has major stage fright and the cute bassist doesn't think a spoiled girl from over the hill can hack it. . . ."- summary from Amazon

This book was a godsend. I had had to put down a did-not-finish book (I won't mention it here but you can probably find it on my Goodreads profile) and was in a bad place, reading-wise. I had no idea what to read next but I have a schedule and now my blog was down one book. I chose between three books and while I probably would've enjoyed the other two, Amplified was simply perfect. I adored Kelly's debut Harmonic Feedback and was really excited to read this book, though I can't believe I put it off for so long!

It's a compelling contemporary read and Kelly does a fantastic job drawing the reader in and making the characters real so the reader gets invested in them. Jasmine is a great main character and I loved reading her story and understanding her passion for music. The prose, especially when Kelly writes the band rehearsal scenes, is poetic almost at times and has such a natural rhythm that I'd be surprised that I'd read 75 pages in a short amount of time.

The budding romance between Jasmine and Sean was really sweet to read about. They have a natural chemistry and I can see them as a couple. They each have their own issues to work through, some that take longer than others, and it felt like a realistic courtship, as it were. A character I also really enjoyed was Veta, the lead singer of C-Side, because she was just out there and funny and also extremely loyal. I'd love to have her as a friend. I also liked Jasmine's gay friend James (I really hope that's his name; too lazy to check) though we didn't see too much of him. Hopefully if there's a sequel (the ending is a bit open-ended, but it's done in the right way), we can see more of him once he's back from his trip.

Overall, I simply loved this book and I can't say enough good things about it. Please please please go buy a copy if you're at all into contemporary or even books about music, no matter the genre. You won't be disappointed.

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

Sunday, December 11, 2011

In My Mailbox- Week of December 4 + Retrospective

I'm back with an In My Mailbox video!!

Books Shown:

Seekers: Return to the Wild: Island of Shadows (Book 1) by Erin Hunter (ARC, Feb 2012)
Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts (hardcover, Nov 2011)
Legacy of Eden by Nelle Davy (ARC, Feb 2012) + awesome blog tour badge!
Welcome Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell (ARC, May 2012)
Fracture by Megan Miranda (ARC, Jan 2012)
Lexapros and Cons by Aaron Karo (ARC, April 2012)
Life is But a Dream by Brian James (ARC, March 2012)
The Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith (ARC, Jan 2012)
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (chapter sampler, Jan 2012)
Deep Sky by Patrick Lee (paperback, Dec 2011)
All the Flowers in Shanghai by Duncan Jepson (paperback, Dec 2011)
More Than Her by Liza Palmer (ARC, April 2012)

and here's my retrospective for the week-

Monday- I participated in the Legend blog tour, where I had Marie Lu chatting all about Day, one of the two main characters. Not only that, but I'm giving away a copy of Legend and a Legend button but the contest ends on Mon, Dec 12 at 9pm EST so get your comments in!

Tuesday- I reviewed Legend by Marie Lu, which is out in stores now!

Wednesday- My Waiting on Wednesday post featured five titles from Penguin's Summer 2012 catalog!

Friday- I reviewed The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder, which is out in stores now!

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder

The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder
"Dry, sarcastic, sixteen-year-old Cam Cooper has spent the last seven years in and out hospitals. The last thing she wants to do in the short life she has left is move 1,500 miles away to Promise, Maine - a place known for the miraculous events that occur there. But it's undeniable that strange things happen in Promise: everlasting sunsets; purple dandelions; flamingoes in the frigid Atlantic; an elusive boy named Asher; and finally, a mysterious envelope containing a list of things for Cam to do before she dies. As Cam checks each item off the list, she finally learns to believe - in love, in herself, and even in miracles."- summary from Amazon

Wow. This is a really powerful debut. I absolutely loved it- it's filled with humor, a great cast of characters, a wonderful romance, and touching moments. For me, it read a bit like an easy, breezy book (mainly because of humor and how quickly I was turning the pages) but it's anything but. There's some very real issues going on here and Wunder handled them extremely well.

I honestly don't really know what to say about this book because it's just so amazing. Cam is a great main character who's sarcastic and cynical, but really needs to learn to let in hope. Every character in this book (or at least, in Cam's family and Asher) has a journey to go through where they learn more about themselves and how to free themselves from the fears holding them back.

Overall, a beautifully-told story with heart, humor, and romance. Can you really ask for anything more? Wunder is an author to definitely keep an eye on.

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday- Penguin 2012

Here's the latest in my series of WoWs for certain publishers and their upcoming titles. I've done HarperCollins, Scholastic, and Little Brown and today is Penguin's turn.

Zoe Letting Go by Nora Price
My thoughts: This sounds like such a good, interesting book. I like stories that take place in a rehab center (Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern comes to mind) and this seems like it'll have some mysteries and twists and turns. Also, sorry for the bad image but it was all I could find. Not really having the best of luck with finding Penguin covers of summer releases and I don't know how to get them from the catalog. This will be released in June 2012.

Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti
My thoughts: I love Susane's books though I've only read two of them, I think, but I have two unread books of hers in my bookshelves that I really need to get to. I'm so excited for another book by Susane and it should be interesting to see her taking on bullying. This will be released June 2012.

Tokyo Heist by Diana Renn
My thoughts: This looks like it'll be good for fans of Ally Carter and I just love heist/spy novels. They're just so much fun and this one sounds so good. The addition of it taking place in Tokyo adds an extra level of fun. This will be released June 2012.

Wicked Jealous by Robin Palmer
My thoughts: I loved Robin's first two books, Cindy Ella and Geek Charming (and loved the GC movie too!), and her fairy tale retellings are just so funny and compelling with some interesting changes and twists. This will be released in July 2012.

I'm also excited for Beauty by Lisa Daily, which will be out in May, but I could not find a cover I could use. The cover is in the Penguin Summer 2012 catalog but that's the only place I could find it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Legend by Marie Lu

Legend by Marie Lu
"What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets."- summary from Amazon

I've been really excited for this book for a while and it totally lived up to expectations for me. Lu writes a fast-paced, action and romance-filled dystopian. I flew through this book and had so much trouble putting it down. I loved the dual perspective of Day and June. Both characters were very different and had distinct voices, and I liked that Day's chapters were done in gold font.

Lu handled the reveals and secrets of this world really well- nothing was handed out easily. It was worked toward and usually a puzzle the character had to figure out. The world building was really good too; it felt very realistic.

Overall, I simply cannot wait for the next book in this series (btw, the ending is not a huge cliffhanger) and Lu is a great talent to keep an eye on.

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

Monday, December 5, 2011

Blog Tour- Legend by Marie Lu + Giveaway

"What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills."- summary from Amazon

Before becoming a full-time writer, Marie Lu was the art director at a video game company. She also owns the children’s brand Fuzz Academy. She was first inspired to write Legend while watching Les Miserables one afternoon, and wondered how the relationship between a famous criminal vs. a prodigious detective might translate into a more modern story. She graduated from the University of Southern California in 2006 and lives in Los Angeles, California.

Visit Marie at www.marielu.org

You can read a chapter sampler from Legend here, view the trailer, and also be sure to check the Legend Experience on Facebook! My review will be up tomorrow but if you're already dead set on ordering Legend, you can get it from Amazon!

Or you can take a chance and enter the contest for a copy of Legend and a Legend button! Leave a comment below by 9pm EST on Monday, December 12 for a chance to win that prize pack. But before you leave a comment, read Marie Lu's guest post that's all about Day, one of the two main characters in Legend!

Meet Day

Day, the teenage boy criminal in Legend, is a protagonist who has been in my head for a long time. Ever since high school, in fact. Back then, he starred in a fantasy manuscript I’d written called The Glass Sonata, where he was a teen rebel fighting against the slavery system of the world he lived in. Fast forward to now, and Legend’s Day is still pretty consistent with his original self—still sarcastic, still arrogant, still a flirt, with a slightly short temper and a notorious societal reputation.

Let’s start with some statistics on Day:

Birth Name: Daniel Altan Wing

Age/Gender: 15/M

Height: 5 feet, 10 inches

Weight: 147 pounds

Blood Type: O

Hair: Blonde, long

Eyes: Blue

Dominant Ethnicity: Mongolian

Secondary Ethnicity: Caucasian (or, in our modern-day non-Legend world, Russian)

I get occasional questions about why Day has blonde hair and blue eyes when he is clearly of mixed race. (His mother comes from a Russian lineage, while his father is of Mongolian descent.) Since dark hair phenotype is dominant over blonde hair phenotype (and ditto with brown versus blue eyes), shouldn’t Day have dark hair and dark eyes even though his mother has blonde hair and blue eyes? A great question! And the answer is this photo:

This is a young Mongolian girl, with naturally blonde hair and blue eyes. I can’t remember how I first ran across this photo, but I could not stop thinking about her afterward. Because I’m of Mongolian/Chinese heritage myself, this unique mix of physical characteristics was especially interesting to me. Since Mongolia and Russia share a border, and their people have a look somewhere between Caucasian and standard Chinese/Korean/northern-Asian, it made sense that the colors of their hair and eyes would be a mix as well. I don’t know why this never occurred to me before. I realized that Day’s Mongolian father likely carried a blonde/blue-eyed gene, and if crossed with the blonde/blue genes of Day’s Russian mother, there was a very reasonable chance of having a blonde-haired/blue-eyed son of half-Asian and half-Caucasian descent. And so, Day’s somewhat unusual look was born. (Okay, that got really technical. Still with me? Moving on…)

In Legend, Day actually has two names. His birth name is Daniel Altan Wing. His middle name, "Altan", is the Mongolian word for "golden", which conjures images of brightness, warmth, and daylight to me. His last name, "Wing", was similarly chosen--I liked it because it made me think of light and air, and open sky. Then there’s his nickname, “Day”, yet another reminder of all that is bright, unpredictable, and spontaneous. Day is also a name that makes me think of truth, the chasing away of shadows and lies, which is a constant theme throughout Legend.

As a character, Day lives in the moment: every day might either be his last or might bring him great fortune--every day is full of both infinite possibilities and extreme danger. As a teen living on the slum streets of Los Angeles, Day fights to stay optimistic instead of losing himself to darkness. In fact, Day's personal motto is: Walk in the light. By this, he means to seek the truth instead of losing yourself to what you are told, and to do the right thing, even when you are surrounded by evil.

Day is also wicked good at parkour (which, in Legend, is just called “running”).
[video of parkour tricks: http://youtu.be/SMppD-bUNWo ]

Hey—it’s a great skill for a teen criminal to have, right? I just couldn’t help myself. I effin love this sport.

And that’s the boy protagonist of Legend, in a nutshell!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber
"It’s prom night—and Perry just wants to stick to his own plan and finally play a muchanticipated
gig with his band in the Big Apple. But when his mother makes him take Gobija Zaksauskas—their quiet, geeky Lithuanian exchange student—to the prom, he never expects that his ordinary high school guy life will soon turn on its head. Perry finds that Gobi is on a mission, and Perry has no other choice but to go along for a reckless ride through Manhattan’s concrete grid with a trained assassin in Dad’s red Jag."- summary from Amazon

This is a quick, action-packed book. Schreiber wastes very little time getting to the action and it's a rollercoaster ride to the end. There's a bit of character development though only in the main character since the reader really only spends time with him. We don't know much about Gobi to begin with, so while we learn about her throughout the book, there's not much there to develop. This is definitely for people who prefer plot-based novels (or for those people, like me, who just want a good story whether it's character-focused or plot-focused).

It was a funny book and I liked all the college essay questions at the beginning of each chapter, usually because the answer would lie in that chapter. All the adventures that Perry goes through with Gobi as she goes through her target list are suspenseful and I could easily see this book as a movie.

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

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber

Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber
"New York City, 1882. Seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart's latest obsession is a painting of the handsome British Lord Denbury. Something in his striking blue eyes calls to her. As his incredibly life-like gaze seems to follow her, Natalie gets the uneasy feeling that details of the painting keep changing...

Jonathan Denbury's soul is trapped in the gilded painting by dark magic while his possessed body commits unspeakable crimes in the city slums. He must lure Natalie into the painting, for only together can they reverse the curse and free his damaged soul."- summary from Amazon

I really enjoyed Hieber's YA debut; it was really atmospheric and such a fun, clever and spooky idea. It was interesting too to have the main character be mute and the vast majority of the story written through journal entries (there's also newspaper articles and police reports). Natalie was a great heroine and very spunky and brave. I loved seeing her and Denbury together too; there is a bit of insta-love going on but I do think their love becomes more real as the story goes on.

The whole idea of a cursed painting is so cool and it was really fun to read this story. I liked seeing Natalie and Mrs. Northe work together to figure out how to reverse the curse and fix everything.

Overall, just a fantastic debut and I can't wait to read more in this series. I'm hooked on Hieber's writing!

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