Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - The Body Finder (8/31/10)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading

The Rules:
•Grab your current read
•Open to a random page
•Share two (2) or so “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
•BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
•Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers

This week's teaser comes from The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting. This scene gives a little taste of the suspense:
Violet stumbled backward, nearly tripping over her own feet in an effort to escape him. She covered her mouth with her hand, stifling her own terrified yelp as she caught herself before she fell, and then froze, praying that he hadn't noticed the sound of her clumsy feet crushing the twigs beneath her. ~ pg. 201

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her “power” to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world . . . and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he’s claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay’s intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she’s falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself. 

*Description taken from Goodreads

Monday, August 30, 2010

Forget You by Jennifer Echols

Title: Forget You
Author: Jennifer Echols
Publisher: MTV Books
Paperback, 292 pages
Date Published: July 20, 2010

Description (Taken from Goodreads)
WHY CAN’T YOU CHOOSE WHAT YOU FORGET . . .  AND WHAT YOU REMEMBER?  There’s a lot Zoey would like to forget. Like how her father has knocked up his twenty-four- year old girlfriend. Like Zoey’s fear that the whole town will find out about her mom’s nervous breakdown. Like darkly handsome bad boy Doug taunting her at school. Feeling like her life is about to become a complete mess, Zoey fights back the only way she knows how, using her famous attention to detail to make sure she’s the perfect daughter, the perfect student, and the perfect girlfriend to ultra-popular football player Brandon.  But then Zoey is in a car crash, and the next day there’s one thing she can’t remember at all—the entire night before. Did she go parking with Brandon, like she planned? And if so, why does it seem like Brandon is avoiding her? And why is Doug—of all people— suddenly acting as if something significant happened between the two of them? Zoey dimly remembers Doug pulling her from the wreck, but he keeps referring to what happened that night as if it was more, and it terrifies Zoey to admit how much is a blank to her. Controlled, meticulous Zoey is quickly losing her grip on the all-important details of her life—a life that seems strangely empty of Brandon, and strangely full of Doug.
It’s not too often that I read contemporary fiction, but I’m happy that I ventured into the world of Forget You by Jennifer Echols. The story is interesting and engaging, while also being completely believable. The characters really stood out to me because they were realistic and heartfelt. Zoey is easy to relate to and more than easy to empathize with, given her circumstances with her loony bin mom and her ass of a dad.

Echols tackles this story with honesty and the shows the reality of teenage life. Zoey’s life isn’t perfect and she’s far from perfect herself. In a time when her family is falling apart, Zoey strives to present herself with the perfect life. She starts out with both feet firmly planted on the ground, but after an unexpected pregnancy (her dad knocks up his employee), a divorce (lots of yelling), and a suicide attempt (her mom is all kinds of messed up post-divorce) Zoey’s firmly planted feet begin to shift and the book explores the raw emotions that can come with all of that.

In the aftermath of the divorce, Zoey does what many teens would do, she becomes more reckless. She becomes more sexual and more interested in the thrills of a sexual relationship. When Zoey wakes up the morning after a car accident to find ‘not her boyfriend’ Doug checking in on her all lovey dovey like, the story really takes off. What happened the night of the accident that caused Zoey to not be with her boyfriend Brandon? And why is Doug all of a sudden being nice to her?

This is where the writing and the characterizations really shine. Zoey’s at a loss as to what happened to her and bad boy Doug seems to be the only person who knows the truth. Their relationship and the slowly unraveling mystery about that night had me yearning for more. The chemistry between Doug and Zoey is undeniable and the sexual tension was incredibly well-written. Doug could have easily been just the sexy bad boy, but Echols made me love him with his depth and his personality. Oh, and he’s gorgeous and has the most incredible eyes. That helps too.

The realization about that forgotten night forces Zoey to really take a look at her life, at herself, at the people around her, and grow up a little. She goes through a lot in such a short amount of time and by the end, she’s better because of it. All of that makes the book sound heavy, but it’s not really. Forget You is a fast, addicting read that gives us the reality of teens with sex, lust, and a lot of sarcasm. I loved it.

Opening line: Every strong swimmer has a story about nearly drowning. ~ pg. 1

Favorite line(s): He frowned at me. “Why haven’t you been turning the world upside down looking for your real diamond earrings?”
I shrugged. “I figured they’d turn up. Like my virginity.” ~ pg. 174
More like a 4.5
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it. 

Follow Jennifer Echols on Twitter

Another Opportunity with CSN Stores

Many of you have already heard about CSN Stores and I've had the opportunity to work with them a couple of times in the past. The stores have been more than gracious to us bloggers, so I am excited to be working with them once again.

For those of you that aren't too familiar with the company, they have over 200 stores and offer a variety of items. You can find anything from a coffee table to a kitty lounger.

I'll be doing a review of another CSN product, but I'm not sure what to get. With so many items to choose from, it's hard to decide. I could use another bookcase, but I have absolutely no room for one, so I'll be thinking on it for a bit.

Be on the lookout for a review in the future and make sure to visit CSN Stores.com.

Music Mondays - OneRepublic (8/30/10)

Music Mondays spotlights a band/artist that I particularly enjoy. I'm not sure who started it, but I know that Reverie Book Reviews does the same thing.

So I've seen quite a few music posts about very Hunger Games oriented music and with the release Mockingjay and all its awesomeness, I thought I'd share a song that I think fits the series perfectly. Here's "Fear" by OneRepublic.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

In My Mailbox - (8/29/10)

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It is a list of any of the books you may have received in the past week from bookstores, libraries, authors/publishers, trades, etc.
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (and a THG key chain)
I actually have two copies because my pre-order didn't ship until Tuesday and I couldn't wait until Thursday to read it, so I had to go out and buy another copy.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan

I Am Number Four shirt (Thanks HarperTeen!)

For Review:
Forget You (Signed) by Jennifer Echols (Big thanks to Jennifer Echols!)

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Publisher: MTV Books
Paperback, 213 pages
Date Published: February 1, 1999

Description (Taken from Goodreads)
Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie is navigating through the strange worlds of love, drugs, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", and dealing with the loss of a good friend and his favorite aunt. 
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of those books that will resonate with the younger generation for years upon years. It was first published in 1999, so things have changed quite a bit since then, but the emotions and the insecurities that teens experience, are very much the same. Charlie tells his story and all the experiences he has through a series of letters to an anonymous individual. Through these letters, Charlie grows up and we grow with him.

At first, I didn’t really enjoy the book. The writing style just wasn’t working for me, but I stuck with it and got used to it. By the end, I was attached to Charlie. I cared about him and the friendships he developed. I could even say I loved him. His story is touching and real. Chbosky doesn’t attempt to sugar-coat his writing and make Charlie’s life any easier than it is. By all means, Charlie is a 16 year old boy with quite a few problems. He comes off as quite strange, in comparison with other boys his age, but his complete naïveté is endearing and provokes the need to protect him and shield him. Charlie is not a 'boys boy' and he tends to cry a lot, but that just adds to his character and intrigue. Like every other teenage boy, Charlie has to experience difficult situations and go through difficult times in order to grow up. Teenage angst is not in short supply here and Charlie is definitely not immune to it.

Often described as being poignant and touching, The Perks of Being a Wallflower holds quite true to that description. It can be a bit challenging to read at times because of the constant partying, drugs, sex, and endless supply of ‘this song is awesome’ and ‘I love this book,’ but it’s still enjoyable. The first letter will draw you in and those that follow will have you more and more curious about Charlie. Who is he, really? 

Chbosky’s writing can be trying at times, but he gives us some real gems here. Some lines jumped off the page and struck me with such a force that I’ll remember them for years to come. Charlie views things from the sidelines; Always watching the life around him, but rarely participating. Through this book, we begin to see a progression from a wallflower to (hopefully) something more.

Opening line: Dear friend, I am writing to you because she said you listen and understand and didn’t try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have. ~ pg. 2

Favorite line (I have two):  And in that moment, I swear we were infinite. ~ pg. 39

 And this one:

“I would die for you. But I won’t live for you.” ~ pg. 169

Not quite what I expected, but still a good coming of age story
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Spoiler Free)

Title: Mockingjay (Hunger Games, #3)
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic
Hardcover, 390 pages
Date Published: August 24, 2010

Description (Taken from Goodreads)
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year.
I finished Mockingjay just last night and having just re-read some of my favorite parts, I have to say that I’m feeling completely drained. Both mentally and emotionally. The closing book in the trilogy is a whirlwind of everything that made the previous two books brilliant, but this one holds a much more terrifying and foreboding tone.

Every twist, every surprise will tear you apart in some way. It’s really difficult for me to describe it if you haven’t read the book, but the characters go through hell and back here.

Where The Hunger Games introduced us to this world where children were forced to fight to the death and Catching Fire lit the spark of a rebellion, Mockingjay becomes a war zone. Happy endings are hard to come by and there is a massacre around every corner, making this book so much darker than the last two.

Instead of going into the war zone of an arena, we are catapulted into a real war zone with bombs, gunfire, and death. The politics of it all leaves us unable to trust anything we learn. Everyone has motives for doing what they are doing, but it’s a matter of figuring just what is right that is the most difficult part. All this leads to so much inner turmoil for Katniss and a box of Kleenex may be needed to make it to the end. I know I was tearing up every few chapters.

Many characters face obstacles that we could never imagine and minor characters take on roles we could only have hoped for. The lies, deceit, hatred, anguish, despair, heartache, joy, and even hope take their toll. There were a few times when I just had to take a break and pull myself together because the book was just wiping me out. The death, the carnage, and the emotional upheaval are a lot to take. Collins never lets us forget that we are in a war zone with Katniss and in war, there are no winners. Fighting a war is not easy and there will be casualties and consequences, lives lost and lives destroyed.

The war zone mentality detracts from the Team Peeta/Team Gale atmosphere that lingered in the last two books, but the relationship between Peeta/Katniss/Gale is still explored with insurmountable care and delicacy. With all that has happened, one can only hope that all of them can find some sort of peace.

Suzanne Collins did something special with this series. Not only is the world of THG absolutely captivating, it is thought-provoking and emotional. Mockingjay is a heart-wrenching finale that will leave readers thinking about it long after turning that final page. The rollercoaster ride of emotions left me drained from the intensity of a world where a girl lit the spark that ignited a nation.

Opening line: I stare down at my shoes, watching as a fine layer of ash settles on the worn leather. ~ pg. 3

Favorite line(s): Closing my eyes doesn’t help. Fire burns brighter in the darkness. ~ pg. 352

And the very last line of the book, but I don't want to give that away
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - Mockingjay (8/24/10)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading

The Rules:
•Grab your current read
•Open to a random page
•Share two (2) or so “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
•BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
•Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers

This week's teaser had to come from Mockingjay. I took this straight from the first chapter:
What am I going to do? 
To become the Mockingjay . . . could any good I do possibly outweigh the damage? Who can I trust to answer that question? ~ pg. 13

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year. 

* Description taken from Goodreads

Character Recap: The Hunger Games Series

Here's a little character recap for those of you who haven't cracked the cover of Mockingjay just yet. I've only included those who I think will have a more pivotal role in the final book.

Spoilers from The Hunger Games & Catching Fire ONLY

Who is she  – Last year’s Hunger Games victor (along with Peeta). She had the idea to eat poisonous berries with Peeta so there would be no victor, but the games ended and both won. President Snow tells her she is the spark to a rebellion and she must convince the nation that her act with the berries was out of love for Peeta and not as an act of defiance. After an engagement to Peeta, they both go back into the Hunger Games arena and form an alliance with Finnick, Johanna, Wiress, Beetee, and Mags.

Where we last saw her – After taking down the force field around the arena, Katniss is picked up by Haymitch and crew in a hovercraft. She learns Peeta is not with them, attacks Haymitch, and finally comes to to find Gale.

Who is he – Last year’s Hunger Games victor (along with Katniss). He is absolutely in love with Katniss, but knows her feelings are not quite the same. He vows to get Katniss out of the games alive again, without him this time. Peeta is saved quite a few times in the arena by different people, including Finnick and a morphling from District 6.

Where we last saw him – In the arena just before the force field is blown up. He is calling for Katniss, but doesn’t get to her in time. Haymitch tells Katniss that the Capitol got Peeta in the arena before they could get to him.

Who is he – Gale is Katniss’ long-time friend and definitely something more. He professes his love for Katniss after she returns from her first Hunger Games, but is supposed to be pretending to be her cousin. After getting caught with a wild turkey, Gale is given a severe lashing in the town square. Soon after he recovers, it’s announced that Katniss will again go into the Hunger Games and Gale tells her that they can still run away together.

Where we last saw him – Katniss wasn’t able to say goodbye to Gale because she was whisked away, but he is on the hovercraft when Katniss finally comes to. He tells her that he was able to get both his and her family out of District 12 before it was destroyed.

Who is he – Haymitch won the 55th Hunger Games when there were double the number of tributes. He then became a drunken victor who coached Katniss to survival 24 years later. He is chosen as a tribute in the 75th Hunger Games, but Peeta volunteers to take his position. Once again, Haymitch becomes Katniss and Peeta’s mentor, but comes to an agreement with Katniss that they’ll get Peeta out this time.

Where we last saw him – On a hovercraft on its way to District 13. Katniss attacked him for leaving Peeta behind and lying to her the entire time about saving him.

Who is he – Tribute from District 4 who won the Games when he was only 14. He’s good-looking and tends to charm the ladies. Haymitch organizes and alliance for Katniss with him and they stick together until the end. Finnick saves Peeta a few times in the arena and is trapped with Katniss when jabberjays attack them with voices of the people they love. Finnick is a ladies man, but he is in love with a woman named Annie who lost her mind a bit after she won the games. His District companion, the 80+ Mags, kills herself in the arena so Finnick doesn’t have the guilt of not being able to save her and Peeta.

Where we last saw him – Finnick was on the hovercraft with Haymitch and Katniss. He tried to console Katniss when she realized that Peeta was most likely dead, as his Annie will most likely die as well.

Who is she – A seemingly mean and abrasive former Games winner from District 7. She doesn’t seem to get along well with Katniss, but is friends with Finnick.

Where we saw her last – Attacking Katniss, but really cutting out her tracker so the Capitol wouldn’t be able to get to her before Haymitch. Katniss was told that the Capitol got Johanna, along with Peeta and another tribute named Enobaria.

Who is he – An older tribute who is a wiz with more scientific things. He comes up with the plan to blow the force field up, but is knocked out by his attempt. His District companion, Wiress, is killed in the arena.

Where we saw him last – Lying on a table, recovering, in the hovercraft on its way to District 13. Katniss wakes up lying next to him.

Who is he – Katniss’ stylist. He is the man who created the image of Katniss, the girl on fire. He also genuinely cares for Katniss and she considers him a friend.

Where we last saw him – Cinna had just created Katniss’ wedding dress that went up in flames to create the image of a mockingjay. As he saw Katniss off into the arena, he was beaten and cuffed by Peacekeepers.

Plutarch Heavensbee:
Who is he – The Head Gamemaker. He meets Katniss on the victory tour and shows her his pocketwatch that briefly has the image of a mockingjay on it and he says ‘It starts at midnight.’

Where we saw him last – On the hovercraft to District 13. He happens to be one of a group of people who have been trying to overthrow the Capitol for years.

President Snow:
Who is he – Evil president of Panem. He threatens Katniss, as well as her family and friends, because of the rebellion she has caused.

Where we last saw him – At the ceremonies just before the 75th Hunger Games began. Still being evil, still having that bloody breath smell.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (REPOST)

Title: Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: YA
Hardcover, 400 pages
Release Date: September 1, 2009

Description (Taken from Amazon)
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge!
 I read Catching Fire right after The Hunger Games, so the books seem to flow into one another. That being said, I can distinguish between the two and I think I enjoyed Catching Fire even more than The Hunger Games.

A little turmoil makes for fantastic storytelling and the Girl on Fire is definitely thrown back into the flames in this one. I don’t want to give anything away because it is an absolutely incredible read, but Catching Fire certainly expands upon what was established in The Hunger Games. We pick up with Katniss a few weeks after returning from the Hunger Games and what should be a happy event turns into more confusion for Katniss. Winning the games and beating the Capitol has only caused more trouble for her and I love the way that trouble is handled. After winning the games, Katniss and Peeta journey on their victory tour through the 12 districts and the Capitol. Their pseudo-relationship is tested and Katniss is faced with making some real decisions in regard to her relationship with Peeta.

The story itself is expanded upon a great deal in Catching Fire. We get a little more information on the ever-elusive District 13, as well as more reasons to dislike the Capitol. The Hunger Games gave us the Capitol to hate, but this time we get a single person to just direct our anger on and he’s definitely worthy of all the hate we can give him. There is also a lot more exploration into the ethical issues that have abounded from Katniss’ actions at the end of The Hunger Games and as she acclimates to her new life as a victor, she has to deal with those consequences and come to terms with an uprising that she is the cause for.

The characters are developed more in Catching Fire and the second half of the book really focuses on the repercussions of Katniss’ actions with the berries. Gale gets a bit more action in this one, but still not enough for me to actually like him. I’m still Team Peeta all the way and I can happily say that there is one scene on a beach where I feel quite rewarded for being on his team.  I can also say that Haymitch grew on me more in this one and Katniss’ team from the Capitol isn’t so bad either. This book also made me love Cinna even more than the first one. There are so many characters that it amazes me that they can so unique. A number of new characters in the story also brings about some interesting conflicts.

The twists and turns that abound in Catching Fire may seem like too much, but I felt like the novel flowed very well, even with the consistent action. The plot advanced at a good pace and all the action didn’t take away from any of the emotional aspects. If anything, I felt like Catching Fire was more of an emotional novel than The Hunger Games. Katniss’ feelings are explored more this time around and we really get into her head. There is a scene with some jabberjays that literally broke my heart. Suzanne Collins developed her characters so well and made them feel completely genuine in The Hunger Games that I found myself very attached to them. Catching Fire only strengthened my investment in the characters.

Catching Fire will leave the reader salivating for more. The plot was interesting, fast-paced, and intelligent. I can easily say that I did not see the ending coming at all. There was one tiny aspect to it that I had a feeling would come up, but I didn’t think anything would happen like it did in the end. Katniss is a character with flaws and I love seeing those flaws because that makes her real. The love story that’s buried within all of the action is so different than most YA novels because it doesn’t control the plot. The main story isn’t some love triangle, it is more about the ethical issues that come from having a game where children are forced to kill one another. The love story is an essential aspect because it is a huge part of the characters, but Suzanne Collins found a perfect balance between that romance and action.

Overall, Catching Fire was just as good (if not better) than The Hunger Games and I highly recommend both. I read this through very quickly because I loved the story. The reader can become quite invested in the characters and I find myself dying to know what happens next. The ending is a huge cliffhanger, so hold on tight while reading and stay tuned for the third and final installment in The Hunger Games Trilogy.
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (REPOST)

Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: YA
Hardcover, 384 pages
Release Date: September 14, 2008

Description (Taken from Scholastic)
Twenty-four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives.
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see.

Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
I was kind of late hopping on the Hunger Games train, but I finally got around to reading it and I’m so glad I did. It is probably the best book I’ve read all year long. Suzanne Collins created this incredible story with such strong and unique characters.

The Hunger Games is well-written, smart, and full of action. The overall image of this future society where the government controls everything is so striking. Everyone who doesn’t reside in the rich capital fights just to survive and that can obviously lead to hatred for the capital and the government. On top of that, children from the ages of 12-18 are then forced to be put into the running to be forced to fight to the death. These games themselves are torture and built for some sick sort of pleasure and I loved seeing Katniss fight the rules and become more than just a pawn for the capital to play with.

Suzanne Collins advanced the plot flawlessly and I was glued to the book the whole way through. I found myself rooting for Katniss, but not wanting to see anyone else harmed. I also found myself not liking Peeta when he’s first introduced, but he grew on me very quickly. He is such a genuine, selfless character and all his actions are for a reason. On the other hand, I found Katniss to be somewhat selfish at times and there were moments where her actions got me mad, but that was the point. She is a realistically flawed character and that makes the book so much better. I was on the edge of my seat the entire way through and the ending had me begging for the next one.

Overall, The Hunger Games was absolutely incredible. The plot as fantastic and it flowed perfectly. The entire premise of the novel was so unique and the imagery was so vivid. I loved the lead up to the games and the descriptions of the wardrobes. Everything about The Hunger Games was just phenomenal.
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

In Case You Missed the Cover: Secrets and Shadows (A 13 to Life Novel)

Shannon Delany, author of 13 to Life (a book that I adored), recently released the cover for the Secrets and Shadows, the second book in the series. 
Secrets and Shadows is scheduled for release on February 15, 2011

To keep up to date with author Shannon Delany:
visit her 13 to Life blog

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

Title: I Am Number Four
Author: Pittacus Lore
Publisher: HarperTeen
Hardcover, 440 pages
Date Published: August 3, 2010

Description (Taken from Goodreads):
Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books—but we are real.

Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in. we have lived among you without you knowing.

But they know.

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They killed them all.

I am Number Four.

I am next.

I Am Number Four is awesome. Plain and simple. When a war with the Mogadorians (another alien species) ravages the planet Lorien, nine children are sent to earth with their guardians in hopes of one day returning and rebuilding their home. A charm connects the nine children, only allowing them to be killed in their numerical order. The Mogadorians followed the children to earth and have been hunting them since. It’s been years and three are dead. John Smith is Number Four.

Pittacus Lore (aka James Frey & Jobie Hughes), a Lorien elder, chronicles John’s journey from an almost normal boy to an alien coming into his Legacies or powers. I was wrapped up in the Lorien history and the near-destruction of the planet through John’s reemerging memory. Early on, all John wants is to lead a normal adolescent life. John and Henri, his guardian from Lorien, move around constantly to stay off the Mogadorians radar, but Paradise, Ohio holds an entirely different life for them. John finds a friend in Sam and falls in love with Sarah. For the first time in his life, John feels tied to a place, he feels like he has a home away from Lorien and he’s willing to risk so much to keep that.

It’s inevitable that the Mogadorians will find John in Paradise, but getting there was the best part. The characters and relationships are developed so well throughout the story. Coming to earth at such a young age has left John with very little memory of his home planet. At times, he doesn’t even know why he’s fighting, but the interspersed history of Lorien allows us to feel the need for justice along with John. Henri’s training sessions are exciting to read, but they also show just how much he cares for the boy he has been assigned to. The two of them adore one another and it shines through every page.

John’s budding relationship with Sarah is everything first loves should be. It’s sweet and develops so nicely. It’s impossible not to root for them. Likewise, Sam is such a loveable guy. He seems like the typical best friend, but he has so much more lying under the surface that we only scratched at here. And Bernie Kosar, John’s new dog, is adorable. I loved him from the start and his role only grew towards the end.

Aliens are everywhere. Or that’s what this book is telling us. John and Henri have lived the last 10 years of their lives preparing for a fight and they definitely get it. The majority of the fighting comes towards the end, but there is plenty of action before that and I was never bored with the story.

I Am Number Four is the opener in what is sure to be a phenomenal series. I was enthralled by the fast pace and the alien powers, but stayed glue to the page because I was so attached to John. While predictable at times, this book is sure to be a hit with the YA crowd. I think it will appeal to boys, which I think is a rarity in the YA genre, but girls will get a kick out of it as well. I’m eagerly awaiting the next in the series.

Opening line: The door starts shaking. ~ pg. 1

Favorite line(s): “When you have lost hope, you have lost everything. And when you think all is lost, when all is dire and bleak, there is always hope.” ~ pg. 124
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - The Red Pyramid (8/17/10)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading

The Rules:
•Grab your current read
•Open to a random page
•Share two (2) or so “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
•BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
•Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers

This week's teaser comes from The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan. This is a nice little snippet about a demon's name and Carter's humorous reaction to it:
The servant flinched. I guess his name was Face of Horror. I wondered how long it had taken his mom to think of that. Bob? No. Sam? No How about Face of Horror? ~ pg. 275

Since their mother’s death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.

One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a "research experiment" at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.

Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them--Set--has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe--a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family, and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.

*Description taken from Goodreads

Monday, August 16, 2010

Clockwork Angel (Infernal Devices, #1) by Cassandra Clare

Title: Clockwork Angel (Infernal Devices, #1)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: McElderry Books
ARC, 476 pages (Received from Around the World ARC Tours)
Date Published: August 31, 2010

Descriptions (Taken from Goodreads)
Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.
When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos. 

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own. 

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: Jem, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. 

As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.
The problem with creating an entirely new story in an already established world is that there are expectations from everyone who has read the previous stories. As someone who read and loved the Mortal Instruments series, I had high hopes for the opener in the Infernal Devices series. Unfortunately, Clockwork Angel came up short.

Overall, the plot and the characters seemed too much like those from the TMI world. Will is startlingly similar to Jace, just as Tessa has many of Clary’s traits; Jessamine even reminded me of Isabelle and Jem has a more introverted personality like Alec. It just felt all too familiar. Almost like a retelling with different names and locations. Instead of a villain like Valentine raising a demon army, the Magister is planning on employing an army of clockwork people infused with demonic energies. Both people are power hungry and out for themselves. It took me a while, but I was able to move past the similarities and enjoy the story for its Victorian touch and slightly steampunk nature.

Aside from the TMI similarities, the main problem I had with this book is that it was incredibly slow. The build up took far too long. I couldn’t even bring myself to truly care for the characters or the story until I broke the 300 page mark. After that, it was much more fast-paced and the plot really started moving along.

Even with such a slow start, I did enjoy Clockwork Angel. Any fan of the Shadowhunter world will appreciate seeing the familiar characters like Magnus Bane (and Church!) and hearing about the Lightwoods that Isabelle and Alec descended from. Will’s backstory is alluded to over and over and that really piqued my interest. Tessa’s obviously unique nature presents many possibilities in the future and Jem’s illness sure had me curious. While this wasn’t quite what I had expected, I’ll be continuing the Infernal Devices series to see just where Clare plans on taking us.

Opening line (from prologue): The demon exploded in a shower of ichor and guts. ~ pg. 1

Favorite line(s): “If you have the soul of a warrior, you are a warrior. All those other things, they are the glass that contains the lamp, but you are the light inside.” ~ pg. 283
*This is the ARC version and lines, cover art, etc. may be subject to change before official publication.
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Music Mondays - Mike Posner (8/16/10)

Music Mondays spotlights a band/artist that I particularly enjoy. I'm not sure who started it, but I know that Reverie Book Reviews does the same thing.

Apparently I haven't done one of these in months, but I figured I'd pop back in with some new music. For those of you who have never heard 'Cooler Than Me' by Mike Posner, it's a huge summer jam. Mike's album 31 Minutes to Takeoff was just released this past Tuesday. The album is great. It has an electronic/pop feel to it with a little R&B mixed in. Here's one of my favorite tracks "Gone in September."

Mike Posner is going on tour this fall, so check him out. I'm hoping to make it to his Boston stop.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

In My Mailbox - (8/15/10)

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It is a list of any of the books you may have received in the past week from bookstores, libraries, authors/publishers, trades, etc.
Fat Vampire (signed) by Adam Rex
Seth Baumgartner's Love Manifesto (signed) by Eric Luper
(Won both from the Guys vs. Vampires Facebook)

Friday, August 13, 2010

13 to Life by Shannon Delany

Title: 13 to Life
Author: Shannon Delany
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Paperback, 308 pages
Date Published: June 22, 2010

Description (Taken from Goodreads)
Something strange is stalking the small town of Junction…

When junior Jess Gillmansen gets called out of class by Guidance, she can only presume it’s for one of two reasons. Either they’ve finally figured out who wrote the scathing anti-jock editorial in the school newspaper or they’re hosting yet another intervention for her about her mom. Although far from expecting it, she’s relieved to discover Guidance just wants her to show a new student around—but he comes with issues of his own including a police escort.

The newest member of Junction High, Pietr Rusakova has secrets to hide--secrets that will bring big trouble to the small town of Junction—secrets including dramatic changes he’s undergoing that will surely end his life early.

I was skeptical about whether or not I would enjoy 13 to Life because it just seemed like another addition to the ever-growing pile of overdone subjects. I figured it would be a nice little werewolf tale filled with the prerequisite bad boy and the sweet, innocent girl who goes gaga over him. Werewolves, vampires, even fairies have become a popular topic for YA novels and it’s rare to find something that sticks out in the genre.

Shannon Delany does more than just give us another werewolf tale, she delivers an intriguing and original story with this remarkable debut. I was surprised at just how much I adored this book, but I knew from the first page that it was something special. The characters are absolutely incredible. Jessica is a rarity for a heroine, in that she is strong and intelligent and 100% selfless. She considers the consequences of every move she makes and doesn’t allow her attraction to the new boy Pietr make her rash or impulsive. Pietr is unquestionably the epitome of a sexy bad boy, yet it’s clear that there is so much more to him hiding beneath the surface. I was instantly taken with him and his entire Russian family. Even the more minor characters jump off the pages. Pietr’s family has this allure about them that draws you in instantly. Jessica’s friend Amy is wonderfully hilarious and my kind of girl, while Sarah has her own story beneath her shiny surface. Jessica’s sister Annabelle Lee isn’t in the book too much, but Delany gives her some of the best one-liners and I couldn’t help but laugh every time she let one rip.

The thing I enjoyed the most about 13 to Life was the writing style. Delany easily draws the reader in, but her writing style will hold you because it feels almost intimate. Emotion emanates from every word and I was caught from the beginning. Werewolves aren't even the main focus of the book, but a side plot that builds the suspense. Mystery and intrigue seem to surround Jessica. From her relationship with Sarah, to the mysterious phantom werewolf of a neighboring town, to the new boy Pietr. There is not one thing about Jessica’s life that isn’t either complicated or shrouded with secrets and that makes this a delectable tale that I easily devoured and am now left salivating (like a dog...or wolf) for more.

13 to Life is a perfectly-paced, intriguing debut from a talented author that I hope to see so much more from in the future.

Opening line (From prologue): Rio stiffened beneath my touch, striking a glossy hoof against the floor. ~ pg. 1

Opening line (from ch. 1): I closed the door behind me, heading down the hallway and straight to Hell. ~ pg. 4

Favorite line: “I’ll call all my crack clients and host a rave,” Annabelle Lee said without skipping a beat. ~ pg. 98
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.
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