Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Fateful and The Night Circus

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme held by Jill at Breaking the Spine to feature upcoming books that we can't wait to get our hands on. 

Title: Fateful
Author: Claudia Gray
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Date of Release: September 13, 2011 

Goodreads Description: It's about a servant girl named Tess in 1912, who wants to escape from the house where she works, and most particularly the lecherous young lord of the manor. But that's not her biggest problem. While on a voyage to America, where she plans to escape and start a new life, she meets Alec, who's ruggedly handsome, fabulously wealthy, intelligent and yet so clearly troubled that she'd rather not fall for him, but she does. That also is not her biggest problem. Alec, it turns out, is a werewolf ... one cursed to change every night, unless and until he surrenders his independence and joins the Brotherhood, a pack of violently misogynistic werewolves who have been tracking him for months. You'd think that would be their biggest problem, wouldn't you? But no. Their biggest problem - though they don't know it yet - is that they're aboard the RMS Titanic

Why am I waiting? I liked Gray's Evernight series which had vampires. This one has werewolves, which I'm less of a fan of, but it's also got the Titanic. It's worth at least checking out.


Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Publisher: Doubleday
Date of Release: September 13, 2011 

Goodreads Description: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway - a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love - a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Why am I waiting? Since it revolves around a circus, this one seems pretty unique. Add in a forbidden romance and some magic, and you've got me somewhat curious.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Review: Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

From Goodreads: An electromagnetic pulse sweeps through the sky, destroying every electronic device and killing billions. For those spared, it's a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human ... Desperate to find out what happened and to avoid the Changed, Alex meets up with Tom - a young army veteran - and Ellie, a young girl whose grandfather was killed by the electromagnetic pulse. This improvised family will have to use every ounce of courage they have just to survive. 

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick is the first post-apocalyptic book I’ve ever read, and I learned quickly that this is a genre I’m probably going to stay away from in the future simply because I tend to avoid stories that are really violent. With a large amount of people becoming feral and happily munching on entrails and such, Ashes made me a little nauseous; but if that’s something you can handle, then it is full of it.

That said, I kind of felt like Ashes was almost two books put together into a really long one. The first part was action-packed and intense as Alex, Ellie and Tom tried to avoid any zombie-like teen who craved their flesh (i.e. one of the Changed) and figure out what had happened and what to do. While I liked Tom, and Ellie ended up growing on me despite the fact that it was harder for Tom and Alex to survive with her than without her, I couldn’t really connect with Alex and thought that her character was slightly unbelievable. I don’t know many seventeen-year-olds who seem perfectly capable of surviving by themselves, but with Alex’s knowledge about camping, various gadgets, guns and medical aid as well as her ability to shoot well, it turns out nicely that she ended up being Spared. Expect me to not last very long if an apocalyptic event ever occurs!

Then something happens and the story randomly skips forward by three days. Huh?! The characters you’ve become familiar with disappear and the pacing slows to a crawl once Alex settles in the town of Rule. Bick soon introduces a new romantic interest, but because he and Alex don’t spend tons of time together, I felt like I barely knew him and couldn’t figure out why they liked each other. Things in Rule however aren’t what they appear to be. Just as secrets start to get revealed though and the stakes rise again, a cliffhanger leaves you high and dry.  

So, upon further reflection, I lied. Since Ashes turned out to be better than I thought it would be, I probably will read another post-apocalyptic book in the future – just one with less gore.

Ashes will be released on September 6, 2011 by Egmont USA.

Comments About the Cover: You should know by now that I gravitate towards gorgeous covers and there is nothing pretty about Ashes’, which is good considering its contents. Rather, the cover of Ashes freaks me out and in no way makes me want to pick up the book. Zombie fans should be happy with this one though.

In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (Egmont USA) for free via NetGalley.

Sweet Venom 2 Title Hunt

Hi, guys! If you're here for the Sweet Venom 2 Title Hunt, my letter is ...

W

For all the details about the hunt, go to Tera Lynn Child's blog which contains the entry form, an explanation of how to do the hunt and the links for where you can find the other letters. The Sweet Venom 2 Title Hunt is open internationally and up for grabs are five signed copies of Sweet Venom and a grand prize that is a $50 bookstore gift card.

Happy hunting, everybody!

.................................................................................................

Here's more about Sweet Venom, the first book in the Medusa Girls series 

Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it’s also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster. Gretchen is tired of monsters pulling her out into the wee hours, especially on a school night, but what can she do? Sending the minotaur back to his bleak home is just another notch on her combat belt. She never expected to run into this girl who could be her double, though. Greer has her life pretty well put together, thank you very much. But that all tilts sideways when two girls who look eerily like her appear on her doorstep and claim they're triplets, supernatural descendants of some hideous creature from Greek myth, destined to spend their lives hunting monsters. These three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful gorgon maligned by myth, must reunite and embrace their fates in this unique paranormal world where monsters lurk in plain sight.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Blogoversary Giveaway #2

Since I’m hopelessly behind in everything blog-related - yes, this post is late too - I’m going to keep this post short and sweet. I just wanted to say a huge thank you to HarperCollinsCanada for all their support and as a way of showing my appreciation, I’m going to give one person the chance to win one HarperCollins title released in 2011. So, this means that you could win something like Kiersten White’s Supernaturally (check out my review here) which has already been released or a highly anticipated upcoming title like Claudia Gray’s Fateful or Leigh Fallon's Carrier of The Mark. The catch is this: You must correctly guess at least one of the covers below to be entered.
 
I’m always keeping an eye out for books with gorgeous covers so I’m hoping this giveaway will be easy for most people. In case you need a hint though, they are all 2011 titles from HarperCollins.   

Here are the rules:
  1. This giveaway is open internationally as long as The Book Depository ships to your country. Click here to see the list of countries to which shipping is available. 
  2. You must be over the age of 13.  
  3. Following is appreciated but not necessary.
  4. This giveaway will end on September 22 at 11:59 PM EST.
  5. To enter, you must guess at least one cover right. Each correct guess leads to one entry.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Blogoversary Giveaway #1

Guess what?! Today my blog turned one!

A year ago, if anyone had told me I’d be blogging for this long, I probably wouldn’t have believed them. A) because while I love reading, writing things down has always been a challenge, regardless of whether it’s an essay or a note to myself (the thought of even picking up a pen makes my mind go blank!) and B) because I didn’t think anyone would care about what I had to say.

So a huge thank you to everyone who has seen my ramblings, taken the time to leave comments, emails or Tweets for me to read and welcomed me on Twitter after I solemnly vowed to myself that I wouldn’t ever join a social networking site (I’ve been immensely pressured to join Facebook by my friends but I haven’t caved to that yet – go me!). As well, I’d like to say a massive thanks to all the authors and publishers who have provided me with books to review, answered interview questions or written a guest post.

Anyway, here's the part you really care about. I'm going to give one person the chance to pick two books from the following:  
 
Waterfall (River of Time #1) by Lisa T. Bergren (check out my review)
Darker Still (Magic Most Foul #1) by Leanna Renee Hieber
All These Things I've Done (Birthright #1) by Gabrielle Zevin
Bloodlines (Bloodlines #1) by Richelle Mead
Isle of Night (The Watchers #1) by Veronica Wolff
Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson
As I Wake by Elizabeth Scott
Shattered Dreams by Ellie James

Read the rules before filling out this FORM
  1. This giveaway is open internationally as long as The Book Depository ships to your country. Click here to see the list of countries to which shipping is available. 
  2. You must be over the age of 13.  
  3. You have to be a follower to enter.
  4. This giveaway will end on September 22 at 11:59 PM EST.
  5. Extra entries are available so check out the form to find out how to increase your chances of winning.
  6. Tally up your entries correctly or I will disqualify you.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Review: Cascade by Lisa T. Bergren

From Back Cover: Gabi knows she's left her heart in the fourteenth century, and she persuades Lia to help her return, even though they know doing so will risk their very lives. When they arrive, months have passed, and all of Siena longs to celebrate the heroines who turned the tide in the battle against Florence - while their enemies will go to great lengths to see them dead. Even in the midst of the battles, Gabi's heart is increasingly drawn to Marcello, just as Lia's is to Luca. In medieval Italy, the sisters discover things inside themselves that they couldn't seem to find in the present - connection with their mom, courage within, and the understanding that a life well lived often means encountering sacrifice. But in a world long past, many things still keep Gabi from giving Marcello her heart forever ... and one thing in particular calls all three of the Betarrinis home. 

My Rating: 5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: It’s rare for me to like a sequel just as much as the first book in a series, and with trilogies, I tend to find that the middle books lag a bit. Lisa T. Bergren’s Cascade however was just as awesome as Waterfall!

At the end of Waterfall, Gabi and Lia had returned to the twenty-first century out of sheer necessity. In Cascade then, they appear in their medieval dresses in the Etruscan tomb and quickly get into trouble for entering the archaeological site without being authorized to do so. After Gabi and Lia explain to their mother what happened to them, Mrs. Betarrini decides to humour her daughters and they all end up going back to the tomb. Of course, Gabi and Lia aren’t lying and the two soon find themselves in fourteenth century Italy with their mother. This time though Gabi and Lia are clearly aware of how dangerous life is in medieval Italy.

So not only does Cascade reunite us with Gabi and Lia who are mentally tougher now, but it continues to be action-packed and full of romance. While Gabi and Marcello are still deeply in love, the relationship between Luca and Lia is heating up as well. Also, though there wasn’t a lot of Fortino, we’re introduced to the mysterious Lord Greco who may or may not be a villain. Since Luca seems like he’s going to be off the market soon, I’d like to thank Bergren for adding another hot Italian knight to the mix. I love morally ambiguous characters and there better be a lot of Lord Greco in Torrent!

Cascade ends with a huge twist that will have you pining for Torrent, the final book in the River of Time trilogy. Since I’m now dying to see the ramifications of the Betarrini ladies’ actions, it’s a good thing that the wait for Torrent – it comes out September 1, 2011 – isn’t long.

Cascade was released in June 2011 by David C. Cook. 

Comments About the Cover: I want a cover that captures your eye and shows off how amazing the River of Time series is. This cover does neither and makes me wonder why the model looks like she is asleep (seriously, that’s one of the two ways I lie when trying to go to sleep). Alternatively, I think that she is praying and that makes me want to avoid picking up the book. Oh well, it least matches Waterfall’s cover.  

Friday, August 19, 2011

Review: The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle

From Goodreads: Anyone who’s had something truly crappy happen to them will tell you: It’s all about Before and After. What I’m talking about here is the ka-pow, shake-you-to-your-core-and-turn-your-bones-to-plastic kind of crappy. Sixteen-year-old Laurel’s world changes instantly when her parents and brother are killed in a terrible car accident. Behind the wheel is the father of her bad-boy neighbor, David Kaufman, whose mother is also killed. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Laurel navigates a new reality in which she and her best friend grow apart, boys may or may not be approaching her out of pity, overpowering memories lurk everywhere, and Mr. Kaufman is comatose but still very much alive. Through it all there is David, who swoops in and out of Laurel’s life and to whom she finds herself attracted against her better judgment. She will forever be connected to him by their mutual loss - a connection that will change them both in unexpected ways. 

My Rating: 2.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: I’ve always been interested in books dealing with hard subjects like grief, abuse, etc. So when I heard that Jennifer Castle’s The Beginning of After was available on NetGalley, I requested it immediately.

Unfortunately, The Beginning of After wasn’t what I expected. Rather than finding myself in tears, I struggled to finish the book because I felt emotionally detached from the characters. It’s not that the writing was bad, but since Laurel’s family is killed right in the beginning of the novel and she doesn’t reflect about them that much, I felt like I barely knew them and couldn’t really mourn their loss. In fact, Laurel tends to avoid her emotions, dealing with her grief by remaining stoic for the most part – she does break down occasionally – and rarely thinking about her family. While I didn’t expect her to stop living, things like prom and dating probably wouldn’t be really high concerns for me if I had lost my entire family.

Speaking of dating, neither of the guys in The Beginning of After appealed to me. Joe was kind of boring – the one remarkable thing about him was that he drew people as comic book characters – and it seemed like the only reason Laurel was interested in him was because he provided her with a shot at normalcy. David on the other hand was a jerk. Sure he seemed to understand Laurel in a way that nobody else could and has a history with her that we only get glimpses of; but after Mr. Kaufman becomes comatose, David stays in the hospital for a bit and then shirks all his responsibilities by hitting the road so that he can be anonymous. I understood his urge to get away from everything, but trying to abandon his dog didn’t make David a great guy in my eyes.

If you’re in the mood for a novel like The Beginning of After, I’d highly recommend reading Gayle Forman’s If I Stay and its sequel Where She Went instead.

The Beginning of After will be released by HarperTeen on September 6, 2011. 

Comments About the Cover: It’s very pretty! The girl looks closed off and appears as if she’s thinking about something serious. Now if only Laurel had contemplated about her family that much, I’d be happy.

In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (HarperTeen) for free via NetGalley.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Sweet Venom and Isle of Night

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme held by Jill at Breaking the Spine to feature upcoming books that we can't wait to get our hands on. 

Title: Sweet Venom
Author: Tera Lynn Childs
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Date of Release: September 6, 2011 

Goodreads Description: Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it’s also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster. Gretchen is tired of monsters pulling her out into the wee hours, especially on a school night, but what can she do? Sending the minotaur back to his bleak home is just another notch on her combat belt. She never expected to run into this girl who could be her double, though. Greer has her life pretty well put together, thank you very much. But that all tilts sideways when two girls who look eerily like her appear on her doorstep and claim they're triplets, supernatural descendants of some hideous creature from Greek myth, destined to spend their lives hunting monsters. These three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful gorgon maligned by myth, must reunite and embrace their fates in this unique paranormal world where monsters lurk in plain sight.

Why am I waiting? I love Greek mythology and having read Childs' Oh. My. Gods series, I know I like her writing. Also, Jenny from Supernatural Snark reviewed Sweet Venom and since she enjoyed it, I'm sure I will too because we have similar tastes. 


Title: Isle of Night
Author: Veronica Wolff
Publisher: NAL Trade
Date of Release: September 6, 2011 

Goodreads Description: When Annelise meets dark and seductive Ronan, he promises her a new life - if she has the courage to chance the unknown. Now, she's whisked away to a mysterious island and pitted against other female recruits to become a Watcher - girls who are partnered with vampires and assist them in their missions. To survive and become a Watcher, Annelise has to beat out every other girl, but she's determined to do so, because to fail doesn't mean dishonor - it means death.

Why am I waiting? This one promises tons of action and sort of reminds me of Vampire Academy, a series I thoroughly loved. I'm hoping it's just as good.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Review: Misfit by Jon Skovron

From Goodreads: Jael has always felt like a freak. She’s never kissed a boy, she never knew her mom, and her dad’s always been superstrict—but that’s probably because her mom was a demon, which makes Jael half demon and most definitely not a normal sophomore girl. On her sixteenth birthday, a mysterious present unlocks her family’s dangerous history and Jael’s untapped potential. What was merely an embarrassing secret before becomes a terrifying reality. Jael must learn to master her demon side in order to take on a vindictive Duke of Hell while also dealing with a twisted priest, best-friend drama, and a spacey blond skater boy who may have hidden depths.

My Rating: 2.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: After repeatedly trying to type up a review for Misfit by Jon Skovron, I’ve finally given up and figured I might as well just write down what I liked and disliked about the book. So here it goes:

Pros: 
  • I liked seeing the relationship develop between Jael and Paul, her father, as he went from being someone who is distant to someone who learns to accept and see his daughter for who she is.
  • Reading about Paul’s past was interesting because it allows you to see him as much more than just Jael’s father.
  • Normally I tend to avoid books with a huge amount of religion, but Misfit wasn’t preachy. Instead, Catholicism provides a framework by which to view demons, and allows Jael and others to question their beliefs rather than to take them at face value. 
Cons:
  • The pacing kept throwing me off since the book would switch from Jael’s present to Paul’s past without any warning.
  • While I can understand Jael’s unwillingness to move again and sympathize with her situation, her stubbornness and dumb decisions made me dislike her. Her story couldn’t really hold my attention and portions about Paul’s past became a welcome reprieve.
  • Jael’s best friend, Britt, appears selfish and obsessed with boys early on. I hate characters like that and being told that she goes down on a guy just for dinner didn’t win her any points. It was a little too late for me to like Britt by the time I found out she was broken.
  • Though I liked Rob, the romance felt forced to me. A completely platonic relationship would have been much better.
  • After getting her butt kicked the first time, the second confrontation between Jael and the demons hunting her just didn’t seem that epic to me. 
Misfit was released by Amulet Books on August 1, 2011. 

Comments About the Cover: I like the simplicity and darkness of the cover. 

In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (ABRAMS) for free via NetGalley.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Review: Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren

From Back Cover: Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives among the romantic hills with their archaeological parents. Stuck among the rubble of medieval castles in rural Tuscany on yet another hot, dusty archaeological site, Gabi and Lia are bored out of their minds ... until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of opposing forces. Suddenly Gabi's summer in Italy is much, much more interesting.

My Rating: 5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: With strong characters, frequent battles, political intrigue, hot guys and a sweet romance, Lisa T. Bergren’s Waterfall is a thrilling and enchanting debut that’s impossible not to love. Marketed as Christian fiction, Waterfall actually doesn’t have a huge dose of religion within it; rather, there is the occasional reference to praying to God for example, which would not be uncommon in fourteenth century Italy.

The main character, Gabi, is no damsel in distress and knows how to wield a sword and throw daggers. Therefore, she tends to surprise men and has at least a fighting chance around enemies. Weak heroines that need to rely on guys are a pet peeve of mine, and I’m so glad Gabi is strong-willed! Plus, she is loyal and quick-witted, coming up with a plausible story that allows her to search for her sister Lia who also made the leap through time and that explains why she, a seventeen-year-old girl, is walking around unescorted. The one thing that bugged me a little about Gabi is that she doesn't sound like a typical teen when she mentally speaks to herself. It's easy enough to ignore though since she doesn't do it that often.

The main secondary characters in Waterfall are just as terrific as Gabi. Lia with her superb archery skills, funny and gorgeous Luca, and smart Fortino were each outstanding and memorable in their own right.

Oh, and of course, there’s Marcello. While I tend to go for blonds – *gets distracted by the thought of Luca* – Marcello is hot too. Dark-haired and more serious than his cousin Luca, his romance with Gabi felt completely natural as it developed from attraction and admiration to something more. Someone please transport me to medieval Italy so I can get a guy like Marcello or Luca!

Besides the amazing characters, the plot was wonderful as well. Bergren describes Toscana and Siena in a way that makes you feel like you’re a part of the story too; and with two castellos trying to get each other’s territory and Gabi having to find Lia, there is plenty of action and danger. It’s also fun to see Gabi try to adjust to the time period she finds herself thrust in.

A splendid start to a new trilogy and definitely one of my favourite reads of the year, Waterfall is currently available for free to download from Amazon.

Waterfall was released in February 2011 by David C. Cook.

Comments About the Cover: There’s nothing particularly attention grabbing about it. If I didn’t know the premise of Waterfall, I probably would have overlooked this book if it was sitting on a bookshelf.  

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Review: The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

From Goodreads: The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. And there are no strangers in the town of Near. These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life. But when an actual stranger - a boy who seems to fade like smoke - appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true. The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him. As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know - about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy. Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.

My Rating: 4.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Tightly plotted to slowly ratchet up the tension, The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab is a story set in an isolated town with secrets, where children grow up with each other and strangers are unwelcome, and where each night a child is strangely disappearing after being tucked into bed.

Schwab’s writing is lyrical and was my favourite aspect of the book. With her words, the town of Near and the surrounding moor come alive and you can picture the hills bathed in moonlight, the grass gently blowing, and the wind whispering its enchanting song.

Schwab’s characters also come to life with her writing in spite of the fact that most of them aren’t described much physically. Cute, little Wren; strong and independent Lexi with her fierce determination to find the children of Near and keep her sister safe; mysterious Cole; and the wise, old Thorne sisters were all just so vivid in my mind’s eye. 

The only thing I didn’t like about The Near Witch was the romance. It wasn’t a huge focus of the book, but it seemed to come out of the blue and felt unbelievable to me.

An exquisite debut with a fairytale-like quality, The Near Witch was released by Hyperion Book CH on August 2, 2011. 

Comments About the Cover: The Near Witch’s cover just doesn’t seem scary enough or capture the beauty that you’ll find between the pages.  

In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (Disney Hyperion) for free via NetGalley.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Fox Inheritance and The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme held by Jill at Breaking the Spine to feature upcoming books that we can't wait to get our hands on. 

Title: The Fox Inheritance 
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Date of Release: August 30, 2011 

Goodreads Description: Once there were three. Three friends who loved each other - Jenna, Locke, and Kara. And after a terrible accident destroyed their bodies, their three minds were kept alive, spinning in a digital netherworld. Even in that disembodied nightmare, they were still together. At least at first. When Jenna disappeared, Locke and Kara had to go on without her. Decades passed, and then centuries. Two-hundred-and-sixty years later, they have been released at last. Given new, perfect bodies, Locke and Kara awaken to a world they know nothing about, where everyone they once knew and loved is long dead. Everyone except Jenna Fox.

Why am I waiting? I loved The Adoration of Jenna Fox - it's one of those books that you have to read - so I'm looking forward to learning more about Locke and Kara now and seeing how they deal with waking up two hundred and sixty years later.


Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Date of Release: September 27, 2011 

Goodreads Description: Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there. It can. She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed. There is. She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love. She's wrong.

Why am I waiting? Besides the awesome cover, the premise sounds really intriguing and actually kind of reminds me of The Adoration of Jenna Fox.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Review: Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik

From Back Cover: At Coral Tree Prep in Los Angeles, who your parents are can make or break you. As the son of Hollywood royalty, Derek Edwards is pretty much prince of the school, while the daughter of the new principal, Elise Benton isn’t exactly on everyone’s must-sit-next-to-at-lunch list. When Elise’s beautiful sister catches the eye of the prince’s best friend, Elise gets thrown together with Derek. But Elise refuses to fall for any of his rare smiles and instead warms up to his enemy, the surprisingly charming social outcast Webster Grant. When will Elise realize that not all snubs are undeserved and not all celebrity brats are bratty ... and turn her love life from an epic fail to an epic win? 

My Rating: 4 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Epic Fail is the charming YA debut of Claire LaZebnik that is based on Pride and Prejudice. I have no idea how faithfully LaZebnik’s characters resemble their original counterparts since I read Jane Austen’s classic story a very long time ago and don’t remember much of it, but even those who haven’t read the story will easily get sucked into Epic Fail.

As there isn’t a huge amount of action, the success of Epic Fail hinges on its main characters and their chemistry. Luckily, LaZebnik nails it. Elise is a smart and witty heroine who refuses to be swayed by popularity, and is intent on judging people for who they are and not their background. Though Derek appears standoffish early on, Elise can’t help but be intrigued by the more relaxed Derek that she hangs out with at a party. That is, until Derek gets the host of the party to kick out Elise’s friend, the charismatic Webster. At this point in Epic Fail it’s still not revealed what Derek’s problem with Webster is, so this action kind of makes him appear like a celebrity brat and doesn’t win him any points with Elise. While being famous seems like it has a lot of perks, LaZebnik does a good job portraying its drawbacks with the character of Derek.

Despite strong lead characters, the rest of the characters in Epic Fail were a tad one-dimensional even if they were entertaining. It was amusing to see Chelsea repeatedly throw herself at Derek for example when it was so obvious that he didn’t want her. The secondary character I loved having page time though was Mrs. Benton. The way she is introduced is pretty funny and it’s impossible not to feel sorry for the Benton girls every time she shows up after because her celebrity obsession with Melissa Anton, Derek’s mother, is just bound to embarrass them.   

Perfect for a light, summer read, Epic Fail is released by HarperTeen today!

Comments About the Cover: I think it’s absolutely adorable! With so many misunderstandings between Derek and Elise, I love how the guy and girl are holding a note with half a heart each.

In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (HarperCollinsCanada) for free.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Review: Reborn by Ley Mesina

From Goodreads: Lily Westbrook discovers that being half witch and half vampire is more of a challenge than she thought. When her powers mature on her eighteenth birthday, she unlocks a mystery that many witches thought was a legend. After moving back to her birthplace in Cedar Creek, MA to attend Kensington University, Lily is instantly pulled deeper into the world she was kept from - the world of witches and vampires - uncovering the truth about her past and discovering who she is meant to be. 

My Rating: 3 hearts for the story; 2.5 hearts overall because the grammar mistakes drove me crazy 

Thoughts on the Novel: If you ignore the grammar and spelling mistakes – and there were a lot! – Ley Mesina’s Reborn isn’t a bad novella. The story is told in the third person but follows all of the important characters so that the reader knows what is happening to everyone even if the other characters are in the dark. The downside to this however is that it’s hard to form a really strong emotional connection to anyone, especially Lily, the main character.

The mythology Mesina created is kind of unique because unlike the traditional werewolf-vampire enmity, it is witches and vampires that are enemies in Reborn. Though a witch who gets turned into a vampire becomes stronger, the strongest witch is the Goddess of Night (aka Nyx), a half-breed born to a vampire-witch union and a girl who can’t die until another half-breed is born to take her place. Reborn does a pretty good job of setting up the world of Lily and her friends; and as the first novella of a series, it prepares the reader well for what’s to come in Book 2.

Reborn was published in May by Ley Mesina. 

Comments About the Cover: The cover looks like it was done with Paint or something but I think it still looks nice. More importantly, the girl on the cover resembles the Lily the book describes (and the one in my head) with her dark hair, vampire fangs and ankh pendant. 

This ebook was received from the author in exchange for an honest review.