Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: A Whispered Darkness


A Whispered Darkness
Author: Vanessa Barger
Publisher: Month 9 Books
Expected Publication: August 26, 2014

Synopsis:
When a soul breaks, it isn’t pretty. The pieces are sharp; they cut and bite and rend at flesh. They seek blood, want vengeance. They congeal, become something more than they were, something dark and beautiful and terrible.

My Thoughts: That synopsis is so vague but combine it with that gorgeous cover and I'm hooked! Can't wait to see what A Whispered Darkness is all about.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Camp Payback Release Day Promo & Giveaway

Happy Release Day to CAMP PAYBACK!


Camp Boyfriend #2
Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Released April 29, 2014
Published by Spencer Hill

Alex has big plans for camp this year, starting with making it the best summer ever. Having fun and breaking some rules will get her the payback she wants against her parents and her ex-boyfriend. Because of his disgusting texts, she's headed to a super strict all-girls school in the fall. Then she meets Javier and revenge doesn't seem nearly as important as getting to know the troubled loner determined to keep a low profile at camp. But Alex's trouble-magnet personality and Javier's need to stay in the background don't mix nearly as well as their irresistible chemistry. With her home life eroding under her feet and her last year of summer camp speeding to a close, Alex wants to make her mark on the world and squeeze every bit of fun out of her time with Javier. Too bad her old plans for revenge turn back on her just in time to ruin everything. Will she lose Javier too?

About the Author

J. K. Rock is the pseudonym for YA writing partners - and sisters-in-law - Joanne & Karen Rock. Although they started out sharing an annual shopping trip, they ended up discussing their favorite films and books, joining the same book club and talking about writing... a lot. Their debut novel, Camp Boyfriend, is the first in a three-book series plotted during family pool parties. Their creative partnership is unique in that they enjoy passing a book back and forth, each adding a chapter and fine-tuning the chapter before. Years of friendship has yielded a shared voice and vision for their work that makes writing a pleasure. Learn more about Karen and Joanne at http://jkrock.net
Author Website ♥ Goodreads ♥ Tumblr ♥ Pinterest ♥ Google + ♥ You Tube ♥ Facebook


Also in the Camp Boyfriend Series


Camp Boyfriend #1


The summer of her dreams is about to get a reality check.
They said it couldn't be done, but geeky sophomore Lauren Carlson transformed herself into a popular girl after moving to a new school halfway across the country. Amazing what losing her braces and going out for cheerleading will do. Only trouble is, the popular crowd is wearing on Lauren's nerves and she can't wait to return to summer camp where she's valued for her brain instead of her handsprings. She misses her old friends and most of all, her long time camp-only boyfriend, Seth. This year she intends to upgrade their relationship to year-round status once she's broken up with her new, jock boyfriend, Matt. He doesn't even begin to know the real her, a girl fascinated by the night sky who dreams of discovering new planets and galaxies.

But Matt isn't giving her up without a fight. As he makes his case to stay together, Lauren begins to realize his feelings run deeper than she ever would have guessed. What if the guy she thought she was meant to be with forever isn't really The One? Returning to Camp Juniper Point was supposed to ground her uprooted life, but she's more adrift than ever. Everything feels different and soon Lauren's friends are turning on her and both guys question what she really wants. As summer tensions escalate, Lauren wonders if she's changed more than she thought. Will her first big discovery be herself?

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Wizard's Promise by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Wizard's Promise
Author: Cassandra Rose Clarke
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Publication Date: May 6, 2014

Review:
I absolutely adored Clarke’s The Assassin’s Curse duology. The world she created was so vivid and multi-faceted that I wanted to curl up and sail along the high seas with Ananna. I was ecstatic when I found out there was going to be a second duology set in the same world. 

The Wizard’s Promise follows Hanna whose mother sailed under Ananna who Hanna is named after. That is where the similarities between Hanna and Ananna end though. Hanna is definitely her own person. She wants to study magic but is apprenticed to a local fisherman. She wants nothing more then to go on an adventure but instead leads the same monotonous island life day in and day out. Until the day all of that changes and Hanna is swept up on an epic adventure.

The problem was this epic adventure takes a long time to get underway. There is a lot of down time in this story. A lot of time spent waiting for the action to start happening, for the bad guy to appear, for the boat to get fixed. I think these “extra” parts in the story could have been done away with and the story would have been better for it. There just wasn’t that immediacy in The Wizard’s Promise that The Assassin’s Curse duology had. 

Despite this lack of action I still found myself enjoying the story. I was sucked back in to the world Clarke created, and was excited to learn more about the northern islands which we didn’t see much of in The Assassin’s Curse. 

I liked the wide cast of characters present in this novel. Fisherman, Wizard’s, Villain’s, not-human boys, there is a little bit of everything. I especially liked Isolfr, it was fun riddling out his motives and what exactly he is. He stole the scenes he was in and despite frustrating me to no end became one of my favorite characters. I look forward to seeing more of him in the sequel.

Overall, The Wizard’s Promise was a good novel it kept me entertained and it was fun to return to a familiar world through a new set of eyes. I am looking forward to the sequel which I hope will ramp up the action earlier, and give us more insight in to the Mists.

*The rating of this book was changed from 3 to 2 stars are part of my post In Which I Reconsider Book Ratings

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Stacking The Shelves 104


The Last Two Weeks
Review: The Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
Waiting on Wednesday: The Walled City by Rydan Graudin
Cover Reveal: The Night House by Rachel Tofoya
Discussion: Weird Names
10 Characters I Would Be BFF's With
Waiting on Wednesday: Six Feet Over It by Jennifer Longo
Review: The Forever Song by Julie Kagawa


New on the Shelf
City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder (Thanks Tiffany for the trade!)
Killer Instinct by S.E. Green (Thanks Kaye Publicity!)


Ebooks
When We Wake by Karen Healey
Killing Ruby Rose by Jessie Humphries
Deeper We Fall by Chelsea Cameron

Netgalley & Edelweiss
Jackaby by William Ritter

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Forever Song by Julie Kagawa

The Forever Song
Author: Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Goodreads ♥ Amazon

Review:
I said in my review of The Immortal Rules that this series reminds me of the movies Underworld and I Am Legend. This installment in the series was no exception, the problem was that if The Forever Song was an Underworld movie it would have been Rise of the Lycans. It just wasn’t as good as the others, and while the ending was satisfying I wasn’t impressed overall.

Allison, after losing Zeke, is distraught through the beginning of this novel. She is grappling with what kind of monster she wants to be and whether it would be better to let go of her human side completely. While this reaction is understandable it made Allie hard to relate to and I kept getting annoyed with her. For me, she needed to make a decision and just live with the consequences.

I also found The Forever Song to be painfully repetitive. It is rather long at over 400 pages but almost the entirety of the story is spent like this: Rabid attacks, Allie thinking she’s a monster, Zeke/Sarren, Rabid attacks, Allie thinking she’s a monster, Zeke/Sarren.  This is the plot over and over again, like a song on repeat (sorry I couldn’t help myself). The journey to Eden could have taken half as long as it did.

Honestly, Jackal was probably the only saving grace for this book. I kept reading because I wanted to know what he would say or do next. He was easily my favorite character in this entire series but even he couldn’t make up for the lack of action or character development. It just didn’t feel like Kagawa’s heart was in this one.

Overall, The Forever Song wasn’t my favorite in this series. I thought everything was wrapped up a little too neatly at the end and I wished the characters had had to work harder for it. Also, because there was so little action in the beginning the ending felt rushed. I am glad I finished this series though and I am still looking forward to Talon, Julie Kagawa’s next series. This time there will be dragons!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday: Six Feet Over It


Six Feet Over It
Author: Jennifer Longo
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: August 26, 2014
Goodreads

Synopsis:
Home is where the bodies are buried.
Darkly humorous and heart-wrenchingly beautiful, Jennifer Longo’s YA debut about a girl stuck living in a cemetery will change the way you look at life, death, and love.
Leigh sells graves for her family-owned cemetery because her father is too lazy to look farther than the dinner table when searching for employees. Working the literal graveyard shift, she meets two kinds of customers:
Pre-Need: They know what’s up. They bought their graves a long time ago, before they needed them.
At Need: They are in shock, mourning a loved one’s unexpected death. Leigh avoids sponging their agony by focusing on things like guessing the headstone choice (mostly granite).
Sarcastic and smart, Leigh should be able to stand up to her family and quit. But her world’s been turned upside down by the sudden loss of her best friend and the appearance of Dario, the slightly-too-old-for-her grave digger. Surrounded by death, can Leigh move on, if moving on means it’s time to get a life?
My Thoughts: This sounds really original and fun, if not a bit morbid. I like the idea of a girl working at a family business, that happens to be a cemetery. I can't wait for this one!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Top 10 Characters who would be my BFF


1 Adrian Ivashkov - Bloodlines Series by Richelle Mead
I love laughing. I actually spend most of the day trying to get myself to laugh so given how funny Adrian Ivashkov is I definitely think he would make a great BFF. It also doesn't hurt that he's pretty swoony.

2 Kami Glass - Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
This girl is quirky, smart, and funny. Definitely someone I would want to hang with!

3 Kavinsky - The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
Kavinsky is exactly like the people I used to hang out with. This isn't necessarily a good thing, he is kind of a terrible person, but in order for this list to be honest he had to be on here.

4 Rose Hathaway - Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead
This is the second Richelle Mead character to make the list. The reason I loved the Vampire Academy series so much is because of Rose. She is down to earth, and so sharp and witty!

5 Sophie - Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Like Rose, Sophie is sharp and witty. The way she handles Howl had me laughing and wanting to join in their banter. She's a girl I would love to be friends with.


6 Riley Blackthorne - The Demon Trappers Daughter Series by Jana Oliver
I'm starting to sense a pattern here. Riley Blackthorne is another strong, sharp-witted, independent, and funny female. If people have a friend "type" then this is mine.

7 Puck - The Iron Fey Series by Julie Kagawa
Puck had to be on this list because he is funny, likes to play pranks, and I think we would make a great BFF team.

8 Violet White - Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
Unlike a lot of the other girls on this list Violet isn't super strong, or witty. She is more quirky then anything else. While I was reading though I felt this kinship between us. I think she'd be a fun friend to spend a lazy summer vacation with.

9 The Onslow Boys - The Summer Series by CJ Duggan
Although, I am not a boy I will admit to wanting to be an Onslow boy just a little bit. I love their friendship, camaraderie, all the crap they throw at one another. They just seem like they would be fun people to be friends with.

10 Dante Walker - The Collector Series by Victoria Scott
In my review of The Collector I said Dante was my homeboy. The things he says and the words he uses feel like they came straight out of my mouth. We have similar musical taste, and I think he'd be fun to kick it with. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Discussion: Weird Names


I was talking with my friend Nichole about possible topics for Bookish Discussions and we got on the subject of strange names. We've noticed that fictitious names keep getting stranger and stranger. Names you never seen in real life are cropping up at alarming rates in novels. While I like interesting names, if all characters are named something unique is the name really unique or has it lost the quality that once made it special?
Heroine Names
I'm like a bird, my name is Wren (The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine), or maybe Kestrel (The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski), or just plain Birdie (Crux by Julie Reece). YA Romantics talked about this topic of girls with bird names in January and since then I have been noticing it more and more. Initially, it didn't really bother me but now the Nelly Fertado song "I'm like a bird" gets stuck in my head every time I see a bird named character. I'm just waiting for a heroine to be named, Seagull. I have a feeling she'll be my favorite.
Leading Men

  • Dank (Predestined by Abbie Glines)
  • Four (Divergent by Veronica Roth)
  • Jackal (The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa)
  • Ringer (Summer series by CJ Duggan)
  • The Darkling (Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo)*
  • Morpheus (Splintered by AG Howard)
  • Ink (Indelible by Dawn Metcalf)

...and that's just the tip of the iceberg

What happened to sexy guys named Tyler or Jake? This isn't across the board, but in most novels I read nowadays the male character has a very normal name but goes by  very not normal nickname (i.e. Jackal is really named James and Four is really named Tobias). Either that or they just have a weird name in general.

*In all fairness this is High Fantasy and most names in High Fantasy are out there.
Last Thoughts 
I know it sounds like I've bee complaining about weird names but in all honestly I kind of like them. I enjoy seeing main and supporting character's with names that I have no preconceived notions about. For example, when I meet a new person and her name happens to be Hannah, then new Hannah has to work to overcome all the bad Hannah's I've met prior to meeting her (sorry if your name is Hannah). When character's have a different, or out of the ordinary name, I don't have assumptions and the author can create the character from the ground up.

Let me know in the comments your thoughts on original or just plain out of the ordinary names!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Cover Reveal: The Night House by Rachel Tafoya


THE NIGHT HOUSE
Publication date: December 9, 2014
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Rachel Tafoya

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!
TNH_Final
Bianca St. Germain works at a Night House, a place where vampires like the aristocratic Jeremiah Archer, pay to feed on humans, and she doesn’t much care what others think of her. The money is good, and at least there, she’s safe. Bianca also doesn’t care that the Night House is killing her. All she cares about is: nauth, the highly addictive poison in vampire bites that brings a euphoria like no drug ever could.
But when Bianca meets James, a reclusive empath who feels everything she does, for the first time, she considers a life outside of the Night House and a someone worth living for. But Jeremiah has decided to keep Bianca for himself; he won’t allow her to walk away.
As she allows her feelings for James to grow, she struggles to contain nauth's strong hold on her life. If they are to have a future, James must make her see what she's worth, what she means to him, before Jeremiah and nauth claim her for good.
add to goodreads

About The Author
Rachel Tafoya
Rachel Tafoya studied creative writing while at Solebury School and was published in their student run literary magazine, SLAM. She attended a writing program for teens at both Susquehanna University and Denison University, and the Experimental Writing for Teens class and Novels for Young Writers program, both run by NY Times bestselling author, Jonathan Maberry. Rachel is the daughter crime author Dennis Tafoya.
Connect with the Author: Tumbler | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Walled City


The Walled City
Author: Ryan Graudin
Publisher: Little Brown
Expected Publication: November 4, 2014
Goodreads

Synopsis:
There are three rules in the Walled City: Run fast. Trust no one. Always carry your knife. Right now, my life depends completely on the first. Run, run, run.

Jin, Mei Yee, and Dai all live in the Walled City, a lawless labyrinth run by crime lords and overrun by street gangs. Teens there run drugs or work in brothels—or, like Jin, hide under the radar. But when Dai offers Jin a chance to find her lost sister, Mei Yee, she begins a breathtaking race against the clock to escape the Walled City itself.
My Thoughts: Did you see that cover? That amazing synopsis? Yeah. Add this to your TBR pile right now!  I'm a sucker for Asian culture and find it underrepresented in YA Lit. I can't wait for this one to released.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

Prisoner of Night and Fog
Author: Anne Blankman
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: April 22, 2014
Goodreads ♥ Amazon

Review:
Prisoner of Night and Fog read like a research paper. It was dry and consisted of long sections of information dumps. The characters were not real people to me, they were merely a list of All-Star players meant to draw reader’s attention away from the fact that nothing was happening in regards to the plot. Every time the story was dragging Blankman would introduce a new character or an element from history, like Geli or the Munich Post. If things really started to drag Hitler would make an appearance and it was the equivalent of throwing out Michael Jordan at the All-Star Game. The crowd goes wild and is distracted from the entire story because we want to see what Michael Jordan, or in this books case, Adolf Hitler, is going to do.

This novel also suffered from trying to do too much and failing to do anything at all. The main thrust of the plot was Gretchen trying to solve the mystery of her father’s death. The story also wanted to deal with psychopaths and psychology, the treatment of Jews in 1930’s Munich, Hitler’s romantic life, Hitler’s political life, Gretchen’s romantic life, Gretchen’s family life, the National Socialist Party, Berlin, The Push, World War I, post traumatic stress disorder and women’s place in 1930’s Germany. All of these topics, by themselves, are interesting. When lumped together and only given a few sentences here and there the magic of the topics is lost. Instead it made the story feel disjointed and more like a poorly put together research paper then a book.

The characters in Prisoner of Night and Fog fell flat. Gretchen was supposed to be a smart girl and yet she was always the last person to figure out a problem or make connections. Daniel Cohen, was a Jewish reporter and that is all I know about him. Hitler who is a larger then life person, known for his speaking and ability to sway a crowd, never came to life. He wasn’t shown to be a leader, or even interesting. I just saw him as a creepy older uncle, which was a big disappointment.

It should be no surprise that these flat characters produced a cringe-worthy romance. It has all the elements I love: forbidden love, secrets, people from opposite sides of the tracks, unfortunately because I cared so little for Gretchen, and knew almost nothing about Daniel, I found myself not really caring about their relationship.

Overall, Prisoner of Night and Fog had potential but all the potential in the world doesn’t matter if it is never realized within the story. I think Anne Blankman is a talented writer, and researcher, but the characters never came to life for me and so the book became a chore to get through rather than something to enjoy.


Thank you Balzer + Bray for allowing me to review an advanced reader's edition of this title.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Stacking The Shelves 103

Week In Review
Top 10 Most Unique Books I've Read
Waiting on Wednesday: The Rain by Virginia Bergin
Review: Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor
Indie Spotlight: Among the Joyful {Author Interview & Giveaway}!
New on the Shelf 

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
Winger by Andrew Smith (Library)
Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers (Library)
Ebooks
Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland
Red at Night by Katie McGarry (Free!)
Netgalley 
Nantucket Red by Leila Howland
Dream Boy by Madelyn Rosenberg & Mary Crockett Hill
Past The Shallows by Favel Parrett

Friday, April 11, 2014

Spotlight: Among The Joyful by Erin Eastham



Among The Joyful

Author: Erin Eastham
Publication Date: February 7, 2014

Synopsis:
Everyone knows that it’s a citizen’s duty to smile; negative emotion is a social contagion, an aggressive act against society. For Alaire Larkin, staying positive has never been a problem. Born into a prominent family, Alaire is a star student and a member of her school’s Joyful Court. Her future promises only happiness and a lifetime of service to the State, until the day she uncovers a secret world of emotions she never knew existed. Alaire knows she must forget what she has learned or run the risk of internal exile. It should be easy. All she has to do is smile.

Interview
What inspired you to write Among The Joyful?
I happened to see an article about smile surgery, which is a real thing. Some young women in South Korea have a procedure done so that their default facial expression is a smile, no matter what they’re feeling. It made me think about the pressure we all feel at times to act like things are fine when they’re not, to present a happy appearance to the world no matter what’s going on inside. That was what prompted the idea for the world of Among the Joyful, where negative emotion has to be hidden if you want to be a functioning member of society.
What were your three favorite things about writing Among The Joyful?
I wanted to create a society that truly intended to be a utopia and show the cracks and fault lines in that perfect façade. That was so much fun. Writing this book was also a great experience because I was completely obsessed with Alaire and her world, even when I wasn’t sitting at the keyboard. I thought about it all the time and it was exciting to be so immersed in a fictional universe. Finally, I really enjoyed the input I got from my teenage beta readers—they gave me such great feedback and definitely improved the story.

What was your least favorite thing?

I’d say ending it was the hardest. Partly because working on it was such an enjoyable process, and partly because endings are really difficult, at least for me.

If Among The Joyful had a theme song what would it be?
Oh, boy. That’s tough—by the time I finished the book, I had a three-hour-long playlist I regularly wrote to. I’d have to say “Sun Shy” and “Tell A Lie” by Dresses would both make great theme songs, or maybe Goldfrapp’s “Happiness.”

What was the last book you read and loved?
The last book I read and loved was A Questionable Shape by Bennett Sims. It’s the most philosophical book about zombies ever.


About The Author
Erin Eastham has spent most of the last decade in Asia and currently lives in India with her husband, four kids and two cats. She is the author ofAmong the Joyful, a YA novel about a society where happiness is mandatory, and The Waking World, an end-of-the-world novel about people with powers.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor

Lips Touch: Three Times 
Author: Laini Taylor 
Illustrator: Jim Di Bartolo
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Publication Date: October 1, 2009
Goodreads ♥ Amazon

Review:
Since reading The Curiosities by Maggie Stiefvater, Brenna Yovanoff and Tessa Gratton I have had a thing for short stories. I’m always impressed at the characterization that can occur in just a few short pages. Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor is a collection of three shorts stories: Goblin Fruit, Spicy Little Curses, and Hatchling.

Goblin Fruit was the first story it was also my least favorite. It was about a girl whose family is quite strange. The family warns her that goblins are trying to tempt girls to sell their souls and that once you get their fruit you’re a gonner. Despite this knowledge the girl falls for the new different, swoony, boy. The story itself was well written, as is the entire book, but it just felt too cliché.

Spicy Little Curses was my favorite story. Set in India following World War I it was about an English girl, living in India, who is cursed to never utter a word or else everyone in earshot will die. I loved the way the magic of the story straddled the real and paranormal worlds. Magic like this, where the story reads contemporary but also has a paranormal element is my favorite kind.

Hatchling was the longest story, it comprised around half of the book. Because this story was longer it had the best characterization. I loved getting to know Esme and her mother. As I was reading though I discovered that Hatchiling was really two stories, that of Esme, and of her mother. Hmm…that oversimplifies things…I guess really Hatchling was about the Druj, creatures who are very like faeries. They kidnap children, take offerings in the forest, and like to be kind of mean and spiteful. This story entranced me with its magic and deeper question of what it means to have a soul. I will say though that at times while I liked the little details they became a bit overdone and rather overwhelming. If this was an entire novel I would have liked it more, but because it was a short story a lot of the extra filler could have been left out and it would have made the story tighter and stronger.

Overall, I enjoyed Lips Touch: Three Times, they were three well written stories that kept my attention. I also adored the illustrations by Jim Di Bartolo that were at the beginning of each story. His art is gorgeous and really helped set the mood for each story.