Saturday, December 31, 2011

Review: Unraveling Isobel by Eileen Cook

From Goodreads: Isobel’s life is falling apart. Her mom just married some guy she met on the internet only three months before, and is moving them to his sprawling, gothic mansion off the coast of nowhere. Goodbye, best friend. Goodbye, social life. Hello, icky new stepfather, crunchy granola town, and unbelievably good-looking, officially off-limits stepbrother. But on her first night in her new home, Isobel starts to fear that it isn’t only her life that’s unraveling - her sanity might be giving way too. Because either Isobel is losing her mind, just like her artist father did before her, or she’s seeing ghosts. Either way, Isobel’s fast on her way to being the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons. 

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Since I haven’t been in the mood to write a review in the past few days, I’ll be doing a pros and cons list for Eileen Cook’s Unraveling Isobel.

  • The book is guaranteed to make you laugh!
  • It’s a standalone novel, which means things are wrapped up neatly and there are no cliffhanger endings.
  • Isobel has a great sense of humour and is easy to like.
  • Nate, the love interest, is someone who does his own thing and doesn’t just follow the crowd.
  • Since Isobel’s father is a schizophrenic, Cook does a good job of making the reader wonder whether Isobel is having delusions or whether something more sinister is going on.
  • The secondary characters could have more depth. 
  • While the romance was sweet, it didn’t seem to take Isobel and her stepbrother very long to get together; and once they hooked up, the two never really thought about the strangeness of their relationship.
  • Even though Isobel sees a psychologist to come to terms with her dad’s condition and acknowledges how common mental disorders are, I thought the topic of schizophrenia was handled a little too lightly. As a result, it kind of felt more like a plot device to me. 
A good choice to pick up if you want a fun contemporary with a bit of paranormal and mystery; Unraveling Isobel will be released by Simon Pulse on January 3, 2012. 

Comments About the Cover: I think the cover’s cheeriness fits the overall tone of the novel, and I like how it incorporates Isobel’s artistic ability by having the model pose so that it looks like she’s painting the cover.

In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (Simon and Schuster) for free via Galley Grab.
original image from

Friday, December 30, 2011

Top 10 Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2012

Today, for the Top 10 of 2011 Blog Event, we're picking our top ten books we're looking forward to in 2012. I've decided to make a list of books by authors I've never heard of and a separate list for books that are part of a series.

Top Ten Books I'm Looking Forward To By Authors I Haven't Heard Of

This one kind of reminds me of Erin McCahan's I Now Pronounce You Someone Else. 

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis
I love fairy tale re-tellings! This one is based on The Frog Prince. 

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks
I've only read one book based on mermaids and this looks like a great choice for the second. 

Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers
 This one has political intrigue and an assassin who needs to kill the man she loves. 

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
 This one is a re-telling of Robin Hood. 

The Fine Art of Truth and Dare by Melissa Jensen
 This one has been compared to Anna and the French Kiss. Hope it lives up to that billing! 

The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg
 The cover has a blurb by Lauren Oliver - that's good enough for me.
I love steampunk novels! 

Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross
This one has a girl stumbling into a Grimm fairy tale world and discovering she's Sleeping Beauty. 

Queen of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
It's another story involving an assassin.

Top Ten Eleven Books I'm Looking Forward To That Are Either Companions or Part of a Series
  1. Tributary by Lisa T. Bergren
  2. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
  3. Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins
  4. Black Heart by Holly Black
  5. Endlessly by Kiersten White
  6. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
  7. Until I Die by Amy Plum
  8. The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross
  9. The Girl I Used to Be by Miranda Kenneally
  10. Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
  11. Pure by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Happy New Year Giveaway Hop

The Happy New Year Giveaway Hop is being hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Babs Book Bistro.

For the hop, I'll be giving away any book of your choice worth up to $10 CDN from The Book Depository.

To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter form.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mini Reviews: Settling by Shelley Workinger and Shattered Dreams by Ellie James

From Goodreads: At the beginning of the summer, Clio Kaid was one of a hundred teens brought to a secret Army installation. But it was no ordinary camp and they weren’t ordinary kids ... Picking up where “Solid” left off, Clio and her friends realize that they aren’t ready to go home; they’re determined to stay on campus and continue their journey of self- discovery. But someone doesn’t feel the same way and will do anything to drive them away – even kill. Friendships will be tested, abilities will evolve, and more secrets will come out as the teens race to stop the killer before he sets his sights on one of them ...

My Rating: 2.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Shelley Workinger’s Settling, the sequel to Solid, was really hard to get into. I thought the pacing was extremely slow (though it did pick up a little near the end), and found the ending to be kind of abrupt. Also, it continues to be hard to get emotionally attached to the characters, and this was especially the case with the main character, Clio, who was moody and kept pushing away her friends. Even though there was a reason for this (and it was nice to learn a little more about Clio’s abilities), it made the plot sort of drag along. Moreover, the book still only gives you a rough idea of what Clio and her friends are capable of doing. Ultimately, Settling has the same issues that I found with Solid – and this time the story just wasn’t as interesting.

Settling was released in July 2011 by CreateSpace.

Comments About the Cover: It’s not as nice as Solid’s, but I like that it hints at the climax of the book.

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

From Goodreads: Sixteen-year-old Trinity Monsour wants nothing more than to live a normal life. But that isn’t as easy as it seems. Trinity is different. She is special. She sees visions, and for those she’s seen, it’s already too late. Trinity arrives on her aunt’s doorstep in New Orleans with virtually no knowledge of her mysterious heritage. She begins settling into life at a new school and even starts making friends. But all too quickly her dreams accelerate; twisted, terrifying visions of a girl locked in a dark room. And when the head cheerleader, Jessica, goes missing, Trinity knows she has no choice but to step forward with what she’s seen. But people believe that Trinity has information about Jessica’s disappearance not because of a dream, but because she is involved. She is kind-of dating Jessica’s ex-boyfriend, Chase, and Jessica did pull a nasty prank on Trinity. Revenge seems like the likeliest scenario. Nothing prepares Trinity for the dark odyssey that ensues while searching for Jessica, including the surprising romance she finds with Chase, or the shocking truths she learns, not just about the girl who has gone missing, but the past that has been hidden from her. 

My Rating: 1 heart 

Thoughts on the Novel: After reading Shattered Dreams by Ellie James, my main thought was, “Why the heck did I finish this book?!” Although the novel starts off promisingly with a group of teenagers sneaking into an abandoned house to play Truth or Dare and Trinity, the protagonist, getting a few terrifying visions, the plot soon fell apart. I had literally no idea what was going on the entire time, and much like Trinity, couldn’t tell the difference between what was a vision/dream and what was reality – a feeling I very much disliked. As well, the ending was pretty much impossible to guess – it’s unpredictable even in hindsight – and no motive at all is provided for the person doing what he did.

On top of that, the characters were hard to like or care about – I read the book yesterday and had to look up the main character’s name in order to write this review – and the same can be said about the romance. Oh, and the latter half of the book suggests that there might be a possible love triangle in the future.

Shattered Dreams was released by St. Martin’s Griffin on December 6, 2011.

Comments About the Cover: The cover doesn’t exactly match the darker feel of the story.

In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (St. Martin's Griffin) for free via NetGalley.

Top 10 Characters in 2011

Today, for the Top 10 of 2011 Blog Event, we're picking our top ten characters of 2011. Here are some of my favourite (in no particular order) from the books I've read this year:
  1. Eugenides from The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia (Books 2 and 3 of The Queen's Thief series) by Megan Whalen Turner
  2. Katniss from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  3. Damien from The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell
  4. Lord Arkus from My Sparkling Misfortune by Laura Lond
  5. Rose from Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead
  6. Adam from Where She Went by Gayle Forman
  7. Sophie from Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
  8. Cassel from Red Glove by Holly Black
  9. Evie from Supernaturally by Kiersten White
  10. Jordan and Sam from Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
Honourable Mentions: Tris from Divergent by Veronica Roth, Seth from The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker, Lochan from Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma, Gabi from the River of Time series by Lisa T. Bergren, Ariel from Perchance to Dream by Lisa Mantchev, Day from Legend by Marie Lu and Alex from Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top 10 Book Boyfriends in 2011

Today, for the Top 10 of 2011 Blog Event, we're picking our top ten book boyfriends of 2011. Here are my fictional crushes (in order from one to ten - this required a lot of thought) from books I've read this year:
He shifts my hand away and starts scratching out letters on his skin. "I worked out a tattoo - if I had one."
I look at what he's done. He's got the outline of my hand over his heart and in it he's written, Her
I want to tell him that he's blown me away, but I think he knows. ~ Carly on Ryan (pg. 212) [my review]

"You dumb-ass," I crooned, kissing her on the forehead. "You don’t share me. You own me." ~ Adam (pg. 250-251) 
"Forgive me, I cannot help myself. I want you. Want you for my own. Be my wife. Be mine. ~ Lord Greco (pg. 162) [my review]
"You were amazing when we first met, and somehow, inexplicably, you've come even farther. You've always been pure, raw energy, and now you control it. You're the most amazing woman I've ever met ... " ~ Dimitri (pg. 481)
Things I Want to Remember
Sailing on Lake Union with Holly
The way Holly's eyes light up when she smiles
Tomatoes in the greenhouse with Aldo
Fish and chips on the beach with Holly
Kissing Holly in the moonlight
Holding Holly in my arms
To be continued ...

Jason's own list. Handwritten. All about me. All about us. ~ Holly on Jason (pg. 301) [my review]
"I have something to tell you," he says. 
I run my fingers along the tendons in his hand and look back at him. 
"I might be in love with you." He smiles a little. "I'm waiting until I'm sure to tell you, though." ~ Four (pg. 486) [my review]

"You don't have anything to worry about, Alex. I'm not going to let anything happen to you." ~ Aiden (pg. 199)
"The only life I want is one with you. I don't understand this gap you see between us, but can't you meet me somewhere in the middle?" ~ Lend (pg. 336) [my review]
The boy speaks up. When he does, there’s such a tender quality to his voice that I can’t help looking up at him. "I don’t know if anyone’s ever told you this," he begins. He doesn’t blush, and his eyes don’t dart away. Instead I find myself staring into a pair of oceans - one perfect, the other blemished by that tiny ripple. "You’re very attractive." ~ Day (Part 1) [my review]
"Being the young, dashing artist, Jules, I'm sure you have lots of girls just beating down your door."
"Yeah, we dead guys really score with the chicks." He let go of my hand and sat back in his chair, wearing a cocky expression. "Actually, since you have so adamantly refused my attentions, I feel free to tell you that I have several girlfriends that I see on rotation, just to make sure nothing gets too serious."
"Is one of them the barely dressed model I saw in your studio that day?"
"That is purely a professional relationship. Unlike what ours would be if you would just give me a chance." He puckered his lips in a sexy kiss. ~ Jules (Chapter 25) [my review]

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

From Goodreads: Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl ... Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. 

My Rating: 4.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Wholly unique, Marissa Meyer’s Cinder is a re-telling of Cinderella with sci-fi elements. Set in New Beijing at a time when androids and cyborgs are common, a plague known as letumosis is decimating the global population, and the leaders of Earth are more or less united against the threat of the Lunars – a race led by a devious queen (who I found really fascinating); Meyer does a good job striking a balance between describing the world in Cinder and allowing it to unfold in the reader’s imagination.

To be honest, I was never a huge fan of Disney's Cinderella because it seemed like she got everything due to her fairy godmother. That’s thankfully not the case in Cinder – Linh Cinder remains hard-working but is a much more strong-willed and independent character. I also really liked that Meyer made Cinder a mechanic, which is a career you don’t see too many females in.

Although I guessed the major twists early on, it was fun to see how Meyer made this re-telling of Cinderella truly her own. For example, Cinder meets the charismatic and attractive Prince Kai way before she actually goes to the ball; and so by the time the ball arrives, the two are already friends. Thus, there’s a gradual development of attraction and both remain aware that Kai is a prince who is responsible for running the Eastern Commonwealth.

A spellbinding story that will have you craving the next book in the series, Meyer’s debut is not to be missed!

Cinder will be released on January 3, 2012 by Feiwel & Friends. 

Comments About the Cover: I think the red shoe is really eye-catching and like how the cover subtly hints that Cinder is a cyborg. Cinder’s shoe also kind of looks like the glass slipper and so it instantly makes you think of Cinderella.

In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (Macmillan Children's Publishing Group) for free via NetGalley.

Top 10 Book Covers of 2011

Today, for the Top 10 of 2011 Blog Event, we're picking our top ten book covers of 2011. Here are just some of the book covers I fell in love with this year: 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Guest Posting at Esther's Ever After

Just a quick note: I've been invited to guest post today for Brenna's Christmas at Esther's Ever After event. So head on over to Esther's Ever After and check out my interview with Jordan from Miranda Kenneally's Catching Jordan, Gabi from Lisa T. Bergren's River of Time series and Carmen from Jessica Martinez's Virtuosity to see how they celebrate the holidays. Click here to check out the post!

Top 10 Books I've Read in 2011

This week, Jessica from Confessions of a Bookaholic, Lisa from A Life Bound by Books, Rachel from Fiktshun and Jaime and Patricia from Two Chicks on Books are hosting the Top 10 of 2011 Blog Event

Today, we're picking the top ten books we've read in 2011. Here's my list (in no particular order): 
  1. The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia (Books 2 and 3 of The Queen's Thief series) by Megan Whalen Turner
  2. Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar
  3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  4. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  5. Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
  6. Where She Went by Gayle Forman
  7. The River of Time series by Lisa T. Bergren
  8. Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead
  9. My Sparkling Misfortune by Laura Lond
  10. Die For Me by Amy Plum

Saturday, December 24, 2011

News About Rock God: The Legend of BJ Levine

Sourcebooks will be releasing Rock God: The Legend of BJ Levine by Barnabas Miller soon. So if you haven't heard about the book, here's a little more information about it.

Title: Rock God: The Legend of BJ Levine
Author: Barnabas Miller
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Date of Release: January 1, 2012 

Goodreads Description: B.J. Levine, a mild-mannered, 13-year-old boy voted most likely to become a tax accountant, moves to New York City and discovers his true purpose: he must transform himself into the most almighty rocker since Jon Bon Jovi. B.J. battles his father's disappointment, his mother's disapproval, his lack of apparent talent, and a secret society of middle-aged bikers as he gathers a ragtag band and embarks on a real life rock Odyssey.

To promote the book, B.J. Levine has written and performed a song called “Three Notes” which can be found on and is connecting with his fans on Twitter as @bjrockgod.

As well, Barnabas Miller, the author, is the drummer for Tiger Beat which is a New York City-based YA-only writers band that also includes Libba Bray, Natalie Standiford and Dan Ehrenhaft. Barnabas and his bandmates will be launching Rock God in New York City at the Barnes and Noble on the Upper East Side at 7 PM on Thursday, January 19th. If you're going to be in the area, don't forget to stop by because Libba, Natalie, Dan and Barnabas will be signing books and performing "Three Notes" and other songs! 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wrapping Up 2011 Readathon

Jessie from Remarkable Reads is hosting a readathon from December 22 to January 1. There will be giveaways and mini challenges so if you'd like to participate, head on over to her blog and sign up. 

I'm not sure how much reading I'll get done but here's what I'm hoping to read over the holidays:
  • Friendship on Fire by Danielle Weiler
  • Shattered Dreams by Ellie James
  • Wither by Lauren DeStefano
  • Notes to Self by Avery Sawyer
  • Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel
  • Half-Blood by Jennifer Armentrout
  • My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody
  • Saving June by Hannah Harrington
  • Once Every Never by Lesley Livingston
  • Unlovable by Sherry Gammon 
  • Heartbreak River by Tricia Mills
  • All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
  • Nightshade by Maryrose Wood
  • Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
  • Indigo Blues by Danielle Joseph

Updated on 12/31/11

    Monday, December 19, 2011

    Review: Legend by Marie Lu

    From Goodreads: 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. 

    My Rating: 4.5 hearts 

    Thoughts on the Novel: With my last dystopian read being Veronica Roth’s amazing Divergent a few months ago, and me not being a huge fan of the dystopian genre, Marie Lu’s Legend had some pretty shoes to follow up on. And, oh my gosh, did it ever! While the plot is a little predictable, Legend kept me hooked enough that I stayed up late and finished reading it within a day.

    The story is narrated through the alternating perspectives of June and Day who are a little on the younger side – they’re only fifteen – to be living by themselves. I’m willing to let that slide a bit though because June is a prodigy and Day is smart and has exceptional (and totally unrealistic) physical abilities.

    June originally comes off as slightly standoffish, but she slowly becomes more likeable over the course of the novel. Despite living a sheltered life and now becoming an agent for the Republic, I liked that June was willing to question things even if they came from the mouth of a known criminal. She could have easily ignored whatever Day said and been a perfect soldier who believed everything that the Republic taught her.

    Day was even more interesting to me. I loved his confidence and the fact that it was impossible to break his spirit even after he landed in the Republic’s jail. If I ever get thrown into a dystopian world, I’d want Katniss and Day by my side!

    The worldbuilding is a little vague because it’s not clear how the US broke down into the Republic and the Colonies nor is much told about the Republic’s history. Since Legend is the first in a series however, I expect that Lu will reveal more in the books that will follow. For now, all I can say is that the Republic may not be so perfect, and what it does sounds hypothetically plausible.

    Rather than a huge focus on romance, Legend instead focuses more on the familial bond. June has grown up under the care of her brother because her parents died in a car crash when she was young and the two have a very close relationship. It’s too bad then that Metias has to die early in the novel, but I enjoyed getting to know him through June’s memories (even if her sadness at his death sometimes felt more like a case of telling than showing). Similarly, the reader learns about Day’s family through his memories because circumstances have made it so that he’s unable to live with them and instead must survive on the streets. Personally, it was somewhat harder to care about them than Metias (except when John did what he did), but it’s obvious that they’re Day’s greatest weakness because he loves them so much.

    There is some romance though; and I liked that it wasn’t something that took over the entire book. There’s clearly attraction between June and Day but there’s also a nicely developing friendship, which made me like their relationship a lot more. Lu deserves bonus points for not having her characters make declarations of love when they haven’t known each other for very long. Moreover, June and Day in my mind were greater together than each individually so I can’t wait to see what will happen to them in the sequel.

    A highly recommended book for fans of the dystopian genre, Legend was released by Putnam Juvenile in November 2011. 

    Comments About the Cover: I like its simplicity, and the gold embossing stands out nicely against the silver background.

    Friday, December 16, 2011

    Review: Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

    From Goodreads: What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though - she leads them as the captain and quarterback on her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys, and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university. But now there's a new guy in town who threatens her starring position on the team ... and has her suddenly wishing to be seen as more than just a teammate.

    My Rating: 4 hearts 

    Thoughts on the Novel: When I requested Miranda Kenneally’s Catching Jordan, I thought I’d be getting a nice, light read based on the synopsis and the cover. What I got instead was a book with a surprising amount of depth – one that highlights going after what you want regardless of the obstacles while also providing the expected dose of romance.

    As the quarterback of her football team, Jordan has faced a lot of discrimination because she’s a female; but that’s never stopped her from playing the game. Now, she's determined to attend the University of Alabama and play for their football team. This sometimes comes across as if Jordan has tunnel vision because she doesn’t even think about other universities’ football programs as a possibility, but it’s impossible to not admire her perseverance.

    Since team camaraderie is such a big part of sports, I was really happy that Kenneally also emphasized this in Catching Jordan. Rather than Jordan’s team being a mass of nameless and unknown players, there were important secondary characters on it. I grew so comfortable with these characters as well that I felt as if JJ, Henry and Carter were my own friends. I think a huge reason for this was because Kenneally excelled at the dialogue, which therefore made Jordan and her friends feel like actual teens.

    The romance in Catching Jordan was a little angstier than I expected but my main issue was the casual sex. Yes, teens do it; but it seemed like there was no one (except for maybe Carter) not having sex. Maybe it’s just the crowd Jordan hangs out with – cheerleaders and football players – but considering that the book is a bit about breaking stereotypes, it would have been nice to have more characters being in steady relationships and not hooking up just for sex. I also thought that Jordan lost her virginity a little too quickly, especially since she's never even had a boyfriend or been kissed before.

    As well, the book summary doesn’t hint that a love triangle will develop, although that’s what ends up happening. It’s a well-developed love triangle however and not just a case of you know, two hot guys liking the main character just because. One of the guys interested in Jordan is Ty whose appeal I could see but who also annoyed me since he was controlling. The other guy also annoyed me but only because I wanted him to grow some balls and go after Jordan instead of not wanting to change things between them. I was obviously Team Henry as soon as I began to suspect that he might like Jordan because he was my favourite character in the book. 

    In addition to the romance, Jordan’s relationship with her family also gets a large focus in the book. Jordan’s brother, Mike, is someone she can talk to not just about football but also about other things. For instance, when Jordan thinks that she might like Ty, Mike is the first person she tells. It was a little strange for me because if I had an older brother, I’d probably not be talking to him about my love life but it works for Jordan because she’s surrounded by and grown up with guys.

    Kenneally also makes Jordan’s relationship with her parents pretty realistic. It’s obvious they love her, but like any parent, they have their own wishes for Jordan. I think what’s important in the end though is that your parents support you and accept you for who you are, and Jordan’s parents definitely do that.

    Whether you’re a football fan or not, if you love contemporary YA, you'll want to check out Catching Jordan!

    Catching Jordan was released by Sourcebooks Fire on December 1, 2011.   

    Comments About the Cover: Don’t be fooled by the cover! Even if I think it’s cute, the cover gives off the vibe that Catching Jordan is a fluffy read. That’s so not true!

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

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011

    Author Interview: Karen Amanda Hooper

    Today, I'd like to welcome Karen Amanda Hooper, the author of Tangled Tides to my blog.

    A bit about Karen (as found on Goodreads): Karen was born and bred in Baltimore, frolicked and froze in Colorado for a couple of years and is currently sunning and splashing around Florida with her two sweet and adorable dogs. She is addicted to coffee, chocolate and complicated happily-ever-afters. 

    What was the inspiration behind Tangled Tides?
    I've loved mermaids since I was a toddler, and I've always been drawn to the ocean, so it was a given that I'd create a story about what kind of fantastical creatures could be lurking beneath the surface. 

    In addition to the more common paranormal YA creatures, there are some mythological ones in Tangled Tides. How much research did you do to find out more and create your own lore about them?
    I had to research Medusa's sisters because I didn't know much about them, but Clash of the Titans was one of my favorite movies as a child (I know, I'm a bit odd) so I've always had an odd fascination with Medusa. However, when Perseus kills her in Clash of the Titans, it always made me sad. I gave her a much happier ending in my twist on her lore.

    There are a couple of Disney references scattered here and there throughout Tangled Tides. What is your favourite Disney film and why?
    Oh, there are so many. Obviously I'm a big fan of The Little Mermaid, but I think my absolute favorite is Peter Pan. I love the idea of Neverland, and there's so much magic and adventure in the story.  Peter Pan's flight is my favorite ride at Disney World. My boyfriend even calls me Tink, and I call him Peter Pan. And, of course, I love the mermaids in Peter Pan too. 

    Which of the characters from Tangled Tides do you like most and why?
    Unfair question! I love all of my characters! That's like asking a mother to choose her favorite child. You can't make me choose! lol.

    Which character from Tangled Tides are you most like?
    As far as who I'm most like ... hmmm ... I guess I'd have to say Nixie. Minus the dressing slutty factor, and the soul stealing ability. Nixie is forced to act confident and always appear strong and in control, but deep down she's always doubting herself and worrying if she really fits in anywhere. Plus, she has a huge heart.

    Do you have any writing projects planned for the future? If so, could you please tell us a little more about them?
    I'm currently writing book 2 of The Sea Monster Memoirs, and I also have a YA supernatural story that is reincarnation based. I wrote that one way before Tangled Tides, but I think it needs some revising before I send it out into the world. I also have 2 other projects that I started, but they will just have to wait their turn. 

    A big thanks to Karen for taking the time to answer my questions!

    Karen can be found on: [her website] [her blog] [Twitter] [Facebook] [Goodreads]
    Tangled Tides can be bought from: [Amazon] [Barnes and Noble] [The Book Depository] 

    Tuesday, December 13, 2011

    Review: Tangled Tides by Karen Amanda Hooper

    From Goodreads: When a hurricane hits her island home and she wakes up with fins, Yara finds herself tangled up in an underwater world of mysterious merfolk and secretive selkies. Both sides believe Yara can save them by fulfilling a broken promise and opening the sealed gateway to their realm, but they are battling over how it should be done. The selkies want to take her life. The merfolk want something far more precious. Treygan, the stormy-eyed merman who turned Yara mer, will stop at nothing and sacrifice everything to protect his people - until he falls for Yara. The tides turn as Yara fights to save herself, hundreds of sea creatures, and the merman who has her heart. She could lose her soul in the process - or she might open the gateway to a love that’s deeper than the oceans. 

    My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

    Thoughts on the Novel: Despite The Little Mermaid being one of my favourite Disney movies – The Lion King being the other; Tangled Tides by Karen Amanda Hooper is the first mermaid book I’ve ever read. Told from the perspectives of Yara, the merman Treygan and the selkie Rownan, Tangled Tides had an original plot and made me laugh often. In spite of the story being told by three characters however, I was still often left in the dark about what was to come because they were so good at not revealing their secrets and plans.

    Yara was a fairly realistic character who initially goes into denial about being turned into a mermaid and attempts to get back home. After accepting her situation though and understanding her role in the struggle between the selkies and the mermaids, I liked that she was determined to make her own choices rather than be subject to others’ whims. As for the male leads, neither of them were particularly appealing to me. I didn’t really care about or like Rownan until the end (when he redeems himself) and didn’t find Treygan as interesting as his friends. Pango was definitely my favourite merman.

    Hooper’s worldbuilding is solid and detailed, and I liked the idea of merfolk and selkies being enemies of each other. There are also sirens and gorgons present in Tangled Tides so it was interesting how Hooper made all the creatures connect using the myth of Poseidon and Medusa as her foundation. As each new species was introduced, I didn’t think that it would be possible for Hooper to juggle all these creatures together without overwhelming me; but she was able to for the most part. Things only became confusing when the characters starting discussing conversions and intermarriages and how they affected the plot.

    A nice mix of paranormal and mythology, Tangled Tides was released in November 2011 by Rhemelda Publishing. 

    Comments About the Cover: I love the colours used – the tail is especially awesome – and how it looks like the mermaid is bursting out of the water during a storm. 

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

    Sunday, December 11, 2011

    Review: Torrent by Lisa T. Bergren

    From Back Cover: Gabriella and Evangelia Betarrini are just two normal American teenagers. Normal - except for the fact that they time travel to fourteenth-century Italy, where they've lived in castles, become swept up in historic battles, and fallen in love with handsome knights willing to do anything to keep them alive. They've returned with their mother to the present to save their father before his tragic death, and now the family travels back to the place that holds the girls' hearts: medieval Italy. But remaining there means facing great risk as the battle for territory wages on and the Black Plague looms. Will the Betarrinis truly be willing to risk it all? Or in facing death head on, will they discover life as it was always meant to be lived? 

    My Rating: 5 hearts 

    Thoughts on the Novel: I originally planned to read Lisa T. Bergren’s Torrent over the winter holidays; but after reading some okay and slightly better than okay books, I needed a book that I knew I was guaranteed to love.

    Torrent picks up where Cascade leaves off and brings back the action and adventure that has characterized the previous two novels in the series – this time with another Betarrini thrown into the mix. This of course changes things between some of the characters, but Bergren continues to make the importance of family and love a priority. I love how close the Betarrinis are and the fact that they consider each other before making huge decisions that will impact everybody in their family.

    In my reviews of Waterfall and Cascade, I gushed about how awesome Bergren’s guys are so I obviously have to address them in this review. I was sad to see what happened to Fortino but it was hard to dwell on him for too long because other things kept happening – like Gabi being taken away by Lord Greco and the Fiorentini.

    Lord Greco managed to capture my heart in Cascade so I was thrilled to see more of him in Torrent. Normally, I’m not a fan of love triangles, but Bergren managed to keep this one appealing because it wasn’t something that became serious. Rather, Lord Greco’s role really makes it clear to Gabi just how much she loves Marcello, and made me ridiculously happy because it led to something poor Marcello had been waiting a couple of years for. (The last few pages of Chapter 26 and the entire twenty-seventh chapter were my favourite part from the entire series.) And, it also freed up Lord Greco for me :)

    Torrent was released by David C. Cook in September 2011.       

    Comments About the Cover: I like that the covers of the series sort of match, but they need to be more visually appealing. I think Torrent’s cover does a better job though of showing the fantasy aspect of the series because knights and weapons are often associated with fantasies.

    Friday, December 09, 2011

    Review: Dancergirl by Carol M. Tanzman

    From Goodreads: A friend posted a video of me dancing online and now I'm now longer Alicia Ruffino. I'm dancergirl - and suddenly it's like me against the world - everyone's got opinions. My admirers want more, the haters hate, my best friend Jacy - even he's acting weird. And some stranger isn't content to just watch anymore. Ali, dancergirl. Whatever you know me as, however you've seen me online, I've trained my whole life to be the best dancer I can be. But if someone watching has their way, I could lose more than just my love of dancing. I could lose my life.

    My Rating: 3 hearts 

    Thoughts on the Novel: Based on the tone of the novel, the characters’ actions and the important message of being careful of what you post online, Dancergirl by Carol M. Tanzman is a book that I think is better suited to teens on the younger side. As Ali, the main character, can attest, anything that gets put online becomes open to public opinion. Tanzman however chooses to forego dwelling on cyber-bullying, and instead gives Ali a mysterious stalker as the biggest consequence of having a friend post an online video of her dancing.

    While the ending felt rushed and things were resolved a little too easily for my liking, the identity of the stalker kept me guessing and left me surprised in the end. Tanzman did a really good job of showing how increasingly terrified and suspicious Ali became as the situation escalated, and I’m sure I would have reacted exactly the same if I was in her position.

    The biggest reason why I didn’t like Dancergirl more though was because of the characters. Besides the fact that a lot of them felt one-dimensional, I found it really hard to care about Ali and her friends. It didn’t help that they were prone to being occasionally immature (e.g. refusing to tell a parent that you’re being stalked because you’re worried about being grounded) and that I didn’t understand a lot of the technical dance terms.

    Dancergirl was released by Harlequin Teen in November 2011. 

    Comments About the Cover: I think it would have better if it wasn’t just a facial shot but a girl dancing blurrily. This would show that there’s quite a bit of dance in the book and also kind of represent the video of Ali dancing. 

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

    Thursday, December 08, 2011

    Cover Reveal: Embrace by Jessica Shirvington

    A series which I've been waiting for patiently to be released in the US is Jessica Shirvington's The Violet Eden Chapters, which I first heard about from Aussie bloggers like Cass from Words on Paper and Nic from Irresistible Reads. Today, I'm helping Sourcebooks Fire finally reveal the cover of Embrace, the first book in the series.

    But first, here's what's on the jacket flap:
    It starts with a whisper.
                “It’s time for you to know who you are…”

    Strange dreams leave her with very real injuries and there’s a dark tattoo weaving its way up her arms. The guy she thought she could fall in love with just told her he’s only half-human - oh, and same goes for her. And she keeps hearing a distant fluttering of wings.

    Violet Eden is having a very bad 17th birthday.

    But if angels seek vengeance and humans are the warriors, you could do a lot worse than betting on Violet Eden …
    Doesn't that sound interesting? If you want to know more about the series or get a fuller description of Embrace, you can check out

    Now without further ado, here's the cover of Embrace:
    Pretty, right? Purple is my favourite colour so I obviously love the background; and since Violet is half-human, I like that the cover designer has chosen to focus on that, but hints at her angelic side by creating some ethereal looking wings. I also love how the font matches Violet's wings, and the falling black feathers kind of suggests that there's going to be a battle between light and dark, good and evil.

    I've also included the behind-the-scenes cover shoot video. It's always fascinating to me seeing how publishers come up with the cover of a book.

    So, what do you guys think of the cover and video?