Nov 30, 2011

Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin


Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 9.27.2011
Pages: 452
Genre: Contemporary, Amnesia
Series: Yes (Mara Dyer #1)
Source: Finished copy I won

Rating: B

Summary (from Goodreads):
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.

Review:

I vacillated for the last month over writing this because I just did not love and adore this book the way 90% of the other bloggers did. Please don’t get me wrong—the idea was solid, the writing is stunning, and I can see why people love this book. Maybe it was because of all the hype that surrounded this book.

I felt like you couldn’t visit a blog without seeing the haunting, alluring question: Who is Mara Dyer? It was everywhere. People came home from BEA raving about this book, and I was so anxious to get my hands on it. I was elated when I won a copy because I need to know who Mara Dyer is! When I started reading it, however, I started to care less and less about who Mara Dyer is/was.

While Michelle Hodkin has a beautiful way of piecing words together, I really felt that the story just moved too slowly in several places, and then threw a ton of information at me the next. It’s never a good thing when you check the clock to see how long you’ve been reading. I love to be so in the story that my clock exists on another time plane far, far away. I never got that with this book, which was a shame because I think Hodkin is a gifted writer. The end really picked up, in my opinion, and things started to clear up as I was able to make sense of the beginning. However, by that point I was so frustrated that I wasn’t able to really enjoy it.

I honestly feel like I need to call Mara Dyer and say, “It’s not you, it’s me.” This book had all the makings of perfection, but the way they were put together just didn’t do it for me. I’m hoping this was a case of just general confusion from book #1 in a series and I’ll pick up book #2 and fall in love.

Buy: Amazon

Waiting on Wednesday (19)


"Waiting On"  Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking  the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
This week I'm waiting on....


Masque of Death
by: Bethany Griffin


Here's the Goodreads blurb:
Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for—no matter what it costs her.


 
Why I need to read this one:
What can I say? I'm a girl who loves a good post-apocalyptic novel! While love triangles can be somewhat tiresome, I'm always up for an original spin on them, and this book appears to have that in spades. Doesn't that cover scream amazing?!

Masque of Death will be released by HarperCollins 4.24.2012

Nov 29, 2011

And the winner is....

Congratulations to
Nora!

She is the winner of my Gratitude Giveaway! Thanks to everyone who entered - I had a staggering 250+ entries! Whew!

Be sure to check back for my next giveaway next month!

Teaser Tuesday (8)


Teaser Tuesday is weekly meme hosted by Mizb at Should be Reading 
Grab your current read 
Open to a random page 
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page 
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
This week I am reading:
  
Partials by Dan Wells
 
"She was three days old. The average lifespan of a human child, in the time since the Break, was fifty-six hours.
They didn't even name them anymore."
pg. 1
 
Synopsis from Goodreads:
The human race is all but extinct after a war with Partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the population. Reduced to tens of thousands by RM, a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island while the Partials have mysteriously retreated. The threat of the Partials is still imminent, but worse, no baby has been born immune to RM in more than a decade. Our time is running out.

Kira, a sixteen-year-old medic in training, is on the front lines of this battle, seeing RM ravage the community while mandatory pregnancy laws threaten to launch what’s left of humanity into civil war, and she’s not content to stand by and watch. But as she makes a desperate decision to save the last of her race, she will discover that the survival of humans and Partials alike rests in her attempts to uncover the connections between them—connections that humanity has forgotten, or perhaps never even knew were there.
Publication date: 2.28.2012
*quote taken from ARC so page number may not be valid upon publication*

Nov 28, 2011

Review: Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay


Title: Juliet Immortal
Author: Stacey Jay
Publisher:  Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 8.9.2011
Pages: 304
Genre:  Romance
Series: No
Source: Finished copy won from

Rating: A

Summary (from Goodreads):
The most tragic love story in history . . .

Juliet Capulet didn't take her own life. She was murdered by the person she trusted most, her new husband, Romeo Montague, a sacrifice made to ensure his own immortality. But what Romeo didn't anticipate was that Juliet would be granted eternity, as well, and would become an agent for the Ambassadors of Light. For 700 years, she's fought Romeo for the souls of true lovers, struggling to preserve romantic love and the lives of the innocent. Until the day she meets someone she's forbidden to love, and Romeo, oh Romeo, will do everything in his power to destroy that love.

Review:
To say that this book completely blew me away in surprise is such a gross understatement that I hesitate to even say it. I figured this book would be something the romantic in me would enjoy, but by the end I had positively swooned. I never wanted this end. Stacey Jay took the story of Romeo and Juliet and twisted it around completely—and in the best way possible.

I almost feel like I need to include a little warning label because there is quite a bit of sexuality in this book. I probably wouldn’t hand this book to a thirteen-year-old, but a sixteen-year-old? Absolutely. It’s a great way to get teenagers interested in Shakespeare and more involved in their classes (most public school in the U.S. cover Romeo and Juliet in high school). This is a fantastic book to recommend to teens and adults alike.

Juliet is a devastatingly caring girl. Tasked with uniting lovers and protecting love itself, she almost seems like the eternal optimist. I loved her from the start. She is such an easy character to adore. Centuries later, the betrayal she still feels from Romeo’s actions, is visceral.

And Romeo, Romeo. From his first interactions with Juliet, I was mesmerized. I had such a hard time hating him because his actions were not as cut and dry as the synopsis makes them out to be. There are so many layers to him and a depth I didn’t imagine possible. I was torn the whole book between cheering for him and wanting him to fail miserably.

This is a book for romance lovers. It is lyrical and magical and I simply could not get enough. I could have read this book forever.

Buy: Amazon

Nov 26, 2011

Review: The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers by Lynn Weingarten


Title: The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers
Author: Lynn Weingarten
Publisher:  HarperTeen
Publication Date: 12.27.2011
Pages: 352
Genre: Contemporary, Magic
Series: No
Source: ARC from publisher

Rating: B

Summary (from Goodreads):
When her boyfriend breaks up with her on the first day of sophomore year, Lucy has no idea how she’s going to make it through homeroom, let alone the rest of her life. Enter three stunning girls with a magical offer Lucy can’t refuse. All she has to do is get a guy to fall in love with her in the next seven days, and then…break his heart and collect one of his brokenhearted tears. As the girls teach Lucy how to hook a guy (with the help of a little magic), she quickly discovers how far she is willing to go—and who she is willing to cross—to get what she wants.

Review:
Few books literally make me cringe in the first chapter. Not because the book is awful—far from it—but because I already feel so much for a character that when I see she’s about to become horribly embarrassed, I literally pray the author isn’t that cruel. But if Lynn Weingarten had taken more pity on her lead, Lucy, there wouldn’t be this fun and amusing novel.

Oh, Lucy. This poor, misguided girl. She reminded me of this younger cousin I have—annoying, devastatingly na├»ve, but I can’t not love her. All her quirks and obsessive tendencies could get grating, but there was something about her that made me cheer for her. I wanted her to win and come out of this ordeal a better person. I won’t lie, I sometimes wanted to slap her, but that would be like kicking a puppy.

I love Weingarten’s way of telling a story. It’s light, airy, and refreshingly unencumbered. Her words come across as playful, but look past the superficial craziness and you can see there is a deeper meaning hidden in those words.

I think this book is a solid read for younger teens. Older teens and adults might be a bit put off by Lucy’s juvenile way of thinking, as I almost was initially. I felt I needed to shift my mindset to a younger way of thinking and approach this as a fun, easygoing story. Once I did that, it was smooth sailing and I enjoyed reading it.

Buy: Amazon

Debut Author Challenge 2012

I just signed up for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge! I am so excited for what 2012 will bring us. I've been fortunate enough to read a few of the year's earlier debuts, and if they are any indication this will be an insanely talented year! Here's a few that I'm looking forward to:

1. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
OK, yes, I have read this one and words cannot express my love for it. It is freaking incredible. A delicious mash-up of dystopian and sci-fi, this one had me tearing through the pages!

 2. Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
A retelling of Robin Hood with sidekick Scarlet as a girl?! Um, yes please! I want this one SO badly! Not only is it giving a fresh twist to a classic, but I'm already sensing chemistry between Scarlet and Robin, so back off Marian.

3. The Selection by Kiera Cass
This one just seems like it will be explosive. Take the Hunger Games and Wither and throw them together and you might have a slight taste of what this debut holds.

4. Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers
I'm still not entirely sure what this one is about, but from what I can gather it will be EPIC.

5. Trafficked by Kim Purcell
Everyone needs a cause to champion and fight againt; mine has always been human trafficking. The fact that at any given time there are over 3 million people in the U.S. alone being forced into slavery is appalling and horrifying. And that's just in my country. Women and children are being sold at an alarmingly increasing rate worldwide, and I am grateful that there is a YA novel tackling this issue.

In My Mailbox (13)


Hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren, this is a great way to share the reads I got this week by purchasing, trading/swapping, or for review. All links lead to Goodreads.

I honestly think this may be my most epic IMM to date. Kinda like Christmas in a mailbox.


Review:

Purchased/Swapped:
Crossed by Ally Condie (I actually bought a copy of this the same day I got an ARC copy from a swap. If anyone wants to swap for the ARC, let me know! Check out my Swap/Trade lists!)

*Many thanks to HarperCollins for providing me with review copies*

Nov 25, 2011

Follow Friday (7)



Question: It's Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. so we want to know what you are Thankful for - blogging related of course! Who has helped you out along the way? What books are you thankful for reading?


I could list 100 books that have inspired me to start this blog or to start my own novel. And there are books that have made me laugh out loud and bawl my eyes out. But this time around I'd rather focus on those fellow bloggers who, whether they knew it or not, help motivate and educate me.

Ashley @ The Book Labyrinth - She was one of the first people to truly help me, and I cannot thank her enough. She has been a sounding board, a cheerleader, and a constant inspiration. I first met this incredible chick at Livejournal and she initially got me interested in blogging. She has never hesitated to email me back when I have asked her a question - no matter how crazy it might have been.

Julia @ Rex Robot Reviews - I swear this girl is my book soulmate. What started as a simple book swap has blossomed into, what I consider, a solid friendship. I love texting her about what new books I have snagged, trading with her, and gushing about our favorite topic - Book Expo America (BEA). We both realize we're crazy, but revel in the comdradery of our insanity. It's quite fun and I adore her.

Mariah @ FarEscape Reviews - I have known this girl for years, and while she's knew to the blogging world herself, she has been a huge supporter of mine. Whether it's about writing, blogging, or the every day craziness, I can call this girl about anything and know she's on my side. In the early stages of this blog, I must have asked her opinion on EVERYTHING and she never once told me to, "Shut up!" even though I probably annoyed her to no end. Everyone should have a friend that backs them up no matter what, and I'm truly blessed and thankful to be able to count her in that category.

Kristi @ The Story Siren - I have never met nor talked to Kristi, but I think we can all agree she has a huge influence on the blogging community. I constantly used her blogger tips when I was getting started. Everything from post content to how to request an ARC is listed on her site. I love that she takes the time to help out everyone else and wants to see them succeed.

TGIF (4)



TGIF @ GReads is a great way to meet new bloggers. Feel free to leave me a comment and I'll be sure to pop over to your blog and follow you back!

This Friday's Question:


Aside from the normal work, sleep, eat, shower, etc.? I love to write. I have 3 original novels in progress, but I'm also a fan of fanfic writing. Truthfully I haven't been writing all that much lately, though.
I am obsessed with finding new music to fall in love with. Nothing excites me quite like finding a new song I can listen to on repeat 100 times. My tastes are very eclectic: rock, pop, country, rap, instrumental ... I have it all on my iPod.
I love baking and cooking for my family and hanging out with friends. I'm a huge TV fan and watch more than I really should. I also have more DVDs and TV shows on DVD than any one person should own. It's only rivaled in size by my book collection.

And lately I've been happily planning my trip to NYC in June 2012 for BEA! Anyone else going?
What about you? Leave me a link so I can swing by your blog!

When You're Not Reading:
What occupies your time when your nose
isn't stuck in a book?

Nov 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (18)


"Waiting On"  Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking  the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
This week I'm waiting on....


Partials
by: Dan Wells
Here's the Goodreads blurb:
The human race is all but extinct after a war with Partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the population. Reduced to tens of thousands by RM, a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island while the Partials have mysteriously retreated. The threat of the Partials is still imminent, but worse, no baby has been born immune to RM in more than a decade. Our time is running out.

Kira, a sixteen-year-old medic in training, is on the front lines of this battle, seeing RM ravage the community while mandatory pregnancy laws threaten to launch what’s left of humanity into civil war, and she’s not content to stand by and watch. But as she makes a desperate decision to save the last of her race, she will discover that the survival of humans and Partials alike rests in her attempts to uncover the connections between them—connections that humanity has forgotten, or perhaps never even knew were there.


Why I need to read this one:
I hadn't even heard of this gem until an awesome publicist at HarperCollins sent it to me. I am totally in lust with that cover, and with the story synopsis. Anyone watch the TV show Dark Angel with Jessica Alba? This seems hauntingly reminiscent of that, and it's one of my all-time favorite shows!

Partials will be released by HarperCollins 2.28.2012

Nov 22, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (7)


Teaser Tuesday is weekly meme hosted by Mizb at Should be Reading 
Grab your current read 
Open to a random page 
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page 
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
This week I am reading:
  

Arcadia Awakens by Kai Meyer
 
" 'I go shopping,' she said at last. 'Retail therapy is good for a lot of things.' "
pg. 104
Synopsis from Goodreads:

To Rosa Alcantara, the exotic world of Sicily, with its network of Mafia families and its reputation for murder and intrigue, is just that—exotic and wholly unknown. But when her life in Brooklyn begins to fall apart, she must travel there, to her family’s ancestral home, where centuries of family secrets await her.

Once there, Rosa falls head over heels for Alessandro Carnevare, the son of a Sicilian Mafia family, whose handsome looks and savage grace both fascinate and unsettle her. But their families are sworn enemies, and her aunt and sister believe Alessandro is only using Rosa to infiltrate the Alcantara clan. And when Rosa encounters a tiger one night—a tiger with very familiar eyes—she can no longer deny that neither the Carnevares nor the Alcantaras are what they seem.

Hidden caves, dangerous beasts roaming the hills, and a history of familial bloodlust mean that Rosa can’t trust anyone. Torn between loyalty to her family and love for their mortal enemy, Rosa must make the hardest decision of her life: stay in Sicily with her new love…or run as far and as fast as she can.

Publication date: 2.14.2012
*quote taken from ARC so page number may not be valid upon publication*

Nov 18, 2011

Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor



Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher:  Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: 9.27.2011
Pages: 420
Genre: Paranormal
Series: Yes (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1)
Source: Finished copy from publisher

Rating: A

Summary (from Goodreads):
Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Review:
I love this book, I just do. From the original character names to the wholly original plot to that cover that screams, “READ ME!” It’s hard not to fall in love with Laini Taylor’s debut novel and I can see why this book has garnered so much attention. It is flawless written with lush words that fill the pages, enticing the reader deeper and deeper into the book.

Karou—I seriously just love that name—is a phenomenal lead. Seeing the world through her eyes was beautiful and exhilarating. She is the tip of the amazing-character-iceberg. I love her and Akiva. They are literary gold, and I cannot get enough of them. Just please, give me more. NOW.

There is something that is pure magic about certain books, and Daughter of Smoke and Bone has it. There are few books on my shelves I will reread because I am in awe of the way a writer places the words together to make a sentence full of enchantment. I can safely say this book has earned that distinction. Many books are good, have fun plots or witty characters, but it’s the places in between the action, in between the dialogue, that draw me in. It’s the space between the heartbeats of a novel that win me over and fuse with my heart.

For a book so large, the ending came entirely too fast. I was left desperate for more at the end, and with too many questions that really need answering. I suppose that is the mark of a great book—leave them panting for more, right? If that is the ultimate goal, Taylor has it in spades. I truly hope one day I get to meet Laini Taylor; her mind must be an amazing place to create such a wild, vivid story that has captured so many readers. I can only imagine she would be as charming and creative in person.

Buy: Amazon

Nov 16, 2011

Gratitude Giveaway Hop!



This giveaway hop is hosted by the aweomse people from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & All-Consuming Books. It will run from Nov. 17 - Nov. 27, 2011 (yes, I'm posting a little early). I'll choose the winner on Nov. 28, 2011. I had so much fun last time and met so many awesome people from a variety of countries, that I decided to make this one international as well.
The Prize:

You can win a book of your choice, up to $15 USD from:



if you live in the US,
OR

if you live outside the US! That means this giveaway is international as long as The Book Depository ships free to you. Not sure? Check this list HERE.

The Rules:

1. Must be a public GFC follower - I will be checking! ;)  This is all you need to do - no bonus entries.

That's all you need! Oh, and fill out the form:


Finished? Then keep on hopping: HOP LIST

Waiting on Wednesday (17)


"Waiting On"  Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking  the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
This week I'm waiting on....
 

Bloodrose
by: Andrea Cremer
 
Here's the Goodreads blurb:
Calla has always welcomed war. But now that the final battle is upon her, there’s more at stake than fighting. There’s saving Ren, even if it incurs Shay’s wrath. There’s keeping Ansel safe, even if he’s been branded a traitor. There’s proving herself as the pack’s alpha, facing unnamable horrors, and ridding the world of the Keepers’ magic once and for all. And then there’s deciding what to do when the war ends. If Calla makes it out alive, that is.

Why I need to read this one:
While I typically use WoW to try and highlight unknown or little known books, I just had to devote on WoW to this amazing series. I'm sad to see it end, but I'm also crazy anxious to see how it all plays out. And hopefully this one has more Ren than the last - if the first chapter is any indication, I will be a HAPPY girl!
Bloodrose will be released by Philomel 1.3.2012

Nov 12, 2011

Review: Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon


Title: Carrier of the Mark
Author: Leigh Fallon
Publisher:  HarperTeen
Publication Date: 10.4.2011
Pages: 342
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Yes (Carrier #1)
Source: Purchased finished copy

Rating: A-

Summary (from Goodreads):
From the moment she sets foot at her new school in Ireland, Megan is inexplicably drawn to the darkly handsome Adam DeRis. But Megan soon discovers that her feelings for Adam are tied to a supernatural fate that was sealed long ago—and that the passion and power that unites them could be their ultimate destruction.

Review:
I have been clamoring to read this book ever since I heard it was set in Ireland. Little know fact? I’m Irish. In case you were wondering, that’s where the “Irish” part of my blog name comes from.  Plus I heard it had an awesome romance in it, toss in that stunning cover,  and needless to say I had this one pre-ordered months before it came out so I could get it in my hands the day it came out. I am happy to announce Leigh Fallon knocked it outta the park in her debut.

The story drew me in from the beginning. There was something about Megan that I just fell in love with. She has wit, tenacity, and vulnerability in spades. I loved discovering Ireland with her, and the writing was so descriptive and lush I felt like I was right there with her. Fallon artfully describes the setting so much that it almost made Ireland a character. I love when a writer can transport me to a place I only dreamed of, only to blow my dreams away.

What can I say about Adam that hasn’t been gushed over by blogger’s all over the world? He’s, simply put, amazing and the ideal YA boyfriend. Dark, mysterious, loyal, and heartbreakingly loving. My only complaint was I almost got whiplash by how quick he and Megan fell in love, but that I easy to overlook because they are just magic together. The entire DeRis family pulled me in, and I cannot wait to read more of them in the next book!

Why is it that the hardest reviews to write are about the books you love? That’s how I feel about this one. It’s sweet and exciting and addictive. With this smashing novel, Fallon has reserved space on my bookshelf for all time. If she writes it? I’ll be getting it, and you should, too!

Buy: Amazon

Nov 4, 2011

Follow Friday (7)



Q. Today's Question is something new, an activity. We want to see what you look like! Take a pic with you and your current read! Too shy? Boo! Just post a fun pic you want to share.


Unfortunately for you guys, I just woke up, so... But I am currently reading Everneath by Brodi Ashton. Let me just say that the story totally lives up to that stunning cover.

Nov 1, 2011

And the winner is....

I have several winners to announce! First, the 3 winners of a copy of Eyes in the Mirror by Julia Mayer are:

Ashley
Sierra
Andy

And the winner of my Spooktacular giveaway is....

Kelly

All winners have been contacted, and responded to my initial email.

Also, a big HI to all my new followers! I can't wait to meet you, and if you have a blog of your own, be sure to leave your blog addy here so I can swing by!