Thursday, January 31, 2013

Review: Hysteria by Megan Miranda

Thursday, January 31, 2013 with 12 comments
Add to Goodreads
Title: Hysteria
Author: Megan Miranda
Series: stand-alone
Publisher: Walker Childrens/Bloomsbury
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
Source: from publisher via Netgalley
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Mallory killed her boyfriend, Brian. She can't remember the details of that night but everyone knows it was self-defense, so she isn't charged. But Mallory still feels Brian's presence in her life. Is it all in her head? Or is it something more? In desperate need of a fresh start, Mallory is sent to Monroe, a fancy prep school where no one knows her . . . or anything about her past. But the feeling follows her, as do her secrets. Then, one of her new classmates turns up dead. As suspicion falls on Mallory, she must find a way to remember the details of both deadly nights so she can prove her innocence-to herself and others. 

In another riveting tale of life and death, Megan Miranda's masterful storytelling brings readers along for a ride to the edge of sanity and back again.


I kind of loved Megan Miranda's debut novel Fracture when I read it early last year, so I had pretty high hopes for Hysteria, despite seeing a lot of mixed reviews for it.  But I know what resonates with me as a reader, and I rarely go wrong with psychological thrillers, so I maintained those high expectations.  I just knew that I would enjoy this novel, and I'm not at all surprised that I was right.  That's the price you pay for being an insufferable know-it-all...you can't surprise yourself anymore.  =)

The author has a background in science, and it shows in both Fracture and Hysteria, in the way she presents the story in a slightly clinical manner.  I can see why that would be off-putting for some readers, but I love it.  Science and the paranormal weave together in this story to create a narrative that is both emotionally gripping yet able to confound the reader into suspecting everyone.  I also love the use of flashbacks and half-dreams throughout the story to impart secrets or otherwise hidden knowledge.  While some aspects of the mystery were easy to speculate upon, others remained elusive till the bitter end.

So, normally I need to really feel a connection to the main characters in order to truly enjoy a novel, but in this case -- and with Fracture, if I really think about it -- the mystery itself was the aspect I was most drawn to, and since it encompassed a big percentage of the storyline, it made the fact that I wasn't completely enthralled with the characters a little easier.  That's not to say that the characters weren't likeable or relatable; they simply won't go down as my favorite characters or anything.  And that's okay with me.

The relationships in the book balance out the characters in such a way that I was able to overlook a lot of character flaws.  Like the fact that given a chance, Mallory would rather run than face her problems.  Every single time.  She did a lot of running in this story.  But her friendship with Colleen put us back on even footing.  Because even though Mallory wasn't ready to meet her own problems head-on, she would do anything for her best friend, including fighting Colleen's battles if need be...and vice-versa.  The fact that there was such a strong, solid friendship at the center of this story really compensated for any of the shortcomings it might have had.

There's a bit of romance in this book.  Nothing earth-shattering, and no love triangles, but we do get to witness two (three?) very different relationships in Mallory's life...all within the last six months.  These relationships are all equally important to the story.  It isn't all about the murdered boyfriend but rather about the repercussions.  It's about the memories, the ability to determine reality from the imagined.  It's about the friendships and relationships that survive and the ones that don't.

Hysteria is a stark look at how one night, one choice, can change the course of  your life.  Full of heartbreak, betrayal, and guilt, it's a slightly gritty contemporary with a paranormal vibe, and if you enjoyed Fracture, I can almost guarantee you'll like this book, as well.  In fact, I can't think of a reason why I wouldn't recommend this novel to someone.

Rating:   photo 4-1.png



Wednesday, January 30, 2013



"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's WoW selection is...



Add to Goodreads
Title: Linked
Author: Imogen Howson
Series: n/a
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 11, 2013

Elissa used to have it all: looks, popularity, and a bright future. But for the last three years, she’s been struggling with terrifying visions, phantom pains, and mysterious bruises that appear out of nowhere.

Finally, she’s promised a cure: minor surgery to burn out the overactive area of her brain. But on the eve of the procedure, she discovers the shocking truth behind her hallucinations: she’s been seeing the world through another girl’s eyes.

Elissa follows her visions, and finds a battered, broken girl on the run. A girl—Lin—who looks exactly like Elissa, down to the matching bruises. The twin sister she never knew existed.

Now, Elissa and Lin are on the run from a government who will stop at nothing to reclaim Lin and protect the dangerous secrets she could expose—secrets that would shake the very foundation of their world.

Riveting, thought-provoking and utterly compelling, Linked will make you question what it really means to be human.


Why I'm waiting:  That cover is awesome...I love the duality and how it links to the premise.  And I love the topic of government conspiracies and cover-ups, so this book should be right up my alley.  Plus, sisters!  =)

What are you waiting on this week?  Feel free to share it in the comments or leave a link so I can stop by!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Add to Goodreads
Title: The Madman's Daughter
Author: Megan Shepherd
Series: The Madman's Daughter, book #1
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: January 29, 2013
Source: ARC received from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

In the darkest places, even love is deadly.

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father's gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father's madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island's inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius—and madness—in her own blood.

Inspired by H. G. Wells's classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman's Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we'll do anything to know and the truths we'll go to any lengths to protect.


The Madman's Daughter was just as creepy as I was expecting, if not more so.  The creations, the madman behind them, the monster on the loose...all preyed up on my delicate sensibilities.  I haven't seen The Island of Dr. Moreau in ages, nor have I ever read the original tale by H. G. Wells, so the disturbing things lurking and happening on the island caught me off-guard at times.  But I am definitely not complaining.  I knew going into this novel that I should expect hair-raising beasts and unorthodox ideas.  Okay, unorthodox is putting it mildly...they were the ravings of a lunatic, a man gone crazy with power.

Speaking of, I loved seeing the degradation of the doctor's mental faculties.  He never came off as a sane man, not once...not even when Juliet first arrived at the island.  So I knew this was going to be a bumpy ride from the get-go.  But I had no idea how quickly it would all evolve into chaos.  Suspecting what the doctor was up to and finding out the truth only intensified the eerie vibe.

It was fairly easy to envision myself on the island with the characters, thanks in part to the lush imagery used to describe the flora and fauna residing there.  The descriptions of the doctor's creations and their way of life only made it more menacing.  But I was able to fully immerse myself in the story because of it.  It's not always easy to impart just how creepy and disturbing a situation is, but I think in this instance, the author has been completely successful.

There are some books I read mostly because of the romantic angle, and there are some I read strictly for the actual storyline.  The Madman's Daughter falls into that latter category.  It's a good thing, too, because I really wasn't feeling the romance in this book.  Don't get me wrong, there are some tender moments and there are some steamy ones, but the overall evolution of the love triangle boggled me.

The frequency with which Juliet found it necessary to mention her idolization of Montgomery when they were younger really bothered me.  Sure, it plays a part in the romance now, but it also serves to make her look young and naive, considering how little it matters to the actual story.  And since it does appear that the author wants Juliet to come across as a strong young woman, maybe a little bit wild even, it does her character a disservice to mention this idolization no less than three times during the course of the novel.  Especially since her feelings ricochet back and forth between Montgomery and Edward like a ping-pong ball.

First, there's kind, intelligent, good-natured Montgomery, whom Juliet has known all of her life.  It's clear that this boy is in love with her and that she has similar feelings for him.  I'm okay with that.  No insta-love.  No "we're soul-mates".  No pledging of the undying love.  Just warm and fuzzies, even if they are from different stations and Juliet's father has strictly forbidden them from any romantic notions.  Joke's on you, Dad!

And then there's the enigmatic Edward.  A stranger.  A castaway found lost at sea.  A boy with secrets he has yet to divulge.  And here he is, pledging his love to Juliet, telling her she's the reason he made the island his final destination, as well.  Blech...I don't think I can ship this relationship.  Except...he's got secrets.  I like a mystery...a challenge, if you will.  Maybe his feelings are legit?  Maybe I'm making undue assumptions and rushing judgment on this guy?

I don't know...the more I saw of Juliet with each boy, the less I wanted her to pick one and the more I wanted her to simply jump in that dinghy and escape the island and its monsters on her own.  But like I said, the romance -- the love triangle -- wasn't what drew me to the book, so I can honestly overlook it...for the most part.  It does play some importance in my enjoyment of this novel, but not as much as it might have if it were a different book altogether.

All in all, I'm pretty thrilled with how this book turned out.  Lots of mystery and intrigue.  Off-the-scales creepy.  Characters that are well-developed with individual motivations.  Had the romance been a little less central to the plot, I think I might have enjoyed this novel even more.  But I won't let it deter me from picking up the next installment, that's for sure, especially since I hear that one's a retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Rating:   photo 4-1.png



Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• 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! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


This week's teaser(s) comes from the following book(s):

Add to Goodreads
Title: Hysteria
Author: Megan Miranda
Series: stand-alone
Publisher: Walker Childrens/Bloomsbury
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
Source: from publisher via Netgalley
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Mallory killed her boyfriend, Brian. She can't remember the details of that night but everyone knows it was self-defense, so she isn't charged. But Mallory still feels Brian's presence in her life. Is it all in her head? Or is it something more? In desperate need of a fresh start, Mallory is sent to Monroe, a fancy prep school where no one knows her . . . or anything about her past. But the feeling follows her, as do her secrets. Then, one of her new classmates turns up dead. As suspicion falls on Mallory, she must find a way to remember the details of both deadly nights so she can prove her innocence-to herself and others. 

In another riveting tale of life and death, Megan Miranda's masterful storytelling brings readers along for a ride to the edge of sanity and back again.


My teaser:

"Krista froze when she saw me.  Jason tried to smile at me, but his lower lip was swollen and the top of his cheek was reddish purple, and he winced from the pain.  "Your boyfriend fights dirty," he said.  Then a sound that must have been laughter escaped from his throat."
-- 59%/Loc 1661 of galley

This is my second go at this novel.  Not because I didn't like it the first time...just that other books took priority for a bit.  Hoping this one is as good as Fracture!



Add to Goodreads
Title: Wings of Tavea
Author: Devri Walls
Series: The Solus Trilogy, book #2
Publisher: indie
Publication Date: December 11, 2012
Source: from author via Xpresso Book Tours
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Kiora is rapidly learning that evil and lies come in shades of black and white and swirling greys, but nothing could have prepared her for the shock of leaving Meros. Kiora and her protector Emane step through the pass into a world they never knew existed but were always meant to save, only to find it far worse than they could have ever imagined. Good has been forced into hiding for its own survival, while the rest of the land bows to the Shadow, a force that pushes any remaining thoughts of Dralazar from Kiora’s mind. This land is full of new creatures, each more dangerous than the last. Her visions have taken on a deadly twist, and magic, or what comes of it, was never so real. And then there is Alcander: a Tavean, their guide, and an entirely different kind of trouble.


My teaser:

"No," Alcander whispered.  "It's not possible."  His face went even whiter than it had been. "It's just a legend."
-- 18%/Loc 800 of galley

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, Wings of Arian, so I have high hopes for this book.  It's already off to a good start!  Stop back by on the 4th for my stop on the tour...I'll have a giveaway, too!

What are you teasing this week?  Share it in the comments or leave a link so I can visit!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Young Adult Giveaway Hop

Monday, January 28, 2013 with 15 comments


Welcome to my stop on the Young Adult Giveaway Hop, hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and BookLove101.  It's no secret that I love young adult novels, and I want to share one of the following new releases with you!  This giveaway is international and the winner can pick one of the following books, but if you haven't yet read the first book in the series, you can choose a previous book instead, as long as TBD ships it:

Altered (Altered, #1)SplinteredThrough the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky, #2)Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2)
Everbound (Everneath, #2)Boundless (Unearthly, #3)Prodigy (Legend, #2)



Rules:
  • This giveaway is international.  As long as The Book Depository ships to your location, you are good to go.  (You can double-check that here.)
  • One entry per household.
  • All entries will be verified.  Any entry found to be falsified will result in disqualification of all entries for that participant.
  • Winner will be notified via email.  Winner will then have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be selected.  Please check your SPAM folders!
  • I am not responsible for lost packages.

And now on to the fun stuff!  You only have to follow my blog to enter, but all other entries/follows are appreciated!  :D


Now that you've entered here, be sure to check out the 200+ giveaway stops on this blog hop:


Thanks for entering & happy reading!

Cambria Hebert


I am sooo happy to be taking part in the Fire & Ice Blog Hop!  I'm also super excited to be featuring the author of my new favorite YA contemporary!  My 4yo daughter even loved the cover so much it inspired this post.  So, without further ado, I'd like to welcome Lauren Morrill, author of Meant to Be, to the blog today!



A lot of my readers have asked me if I'm writing a sequel to Meant to Be, and the answer to that is ... not right now! I wouldn't rule it out, but I'm pretty pleased with how Meant to Be ended. However, I do like to think about what Julia and Jason did after they left London. Which is why I'm bringing you -- exclusively! -- Julia & Jason's first date after they get back to Boston ... well, Cambridge! I think Julia would have insisted on paying a visit to the mothership, aka Harvard University. You know she's busily preparing her application!


Dinner at Bartley's Burger Cottage

Bartley's is a Cambridge landmark, and with Julia and Jason both sharing healthy appetites for junk food, I can only imagine that Bartley's would be one of their favorite places. Julia would order the Tom Brady (a burger topped with cheddar, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, and red onion) and a side of fries, while Jason would favor the Mark Zuckerburg (boursin cheese and bacon) with sweet potato fries. If it was a particularly warm night, they'd take one of the sidewalk tables, where Jason would slip fries to all the passing dogs.


Movie at the Brattle Theater

After dinner, the pair would wander through Harvard Square, stopping for a movie at the historic Brattle Theater. Here, they'd partake of a little Brit flashback, with a double feature of Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Life of Brian. It would be the perfect movie compromise for Julia and Jason: he goes for the slapstick, she goes for the smart British humor. Popcorn and cokes, of course!


Dessert at LA Burdick

After a double feature, they're ready for dessert, and there's no place better than LA Burdick. As much as Julia would like to split a famous chocolate frappe with two straws, they both know they'll need their own! They'd also order an assortment of Burdick's chocolate goodies. Jason would take a bite out of everything, while Julia methodically worked her way through trying to figure out her favorite item. I think she'd be partial to the raspberry macarons, while Jason would be wolfing down their chocolate mice.

A stroll along the Charles

After a sugar boost, Julia and Jason would cap off their evening with a stroll along the Charles River, where Jason would attempt to reenact their London pond plunge (but this time, Julia knows what's up and dodges!).



Thanks for letting me share Julia and Jason's first date with you! It let me relive my four years I spent living in Boston and Cambridge, and if you ever see on Twitter that I'm visiting, you'll now know where to find me! And if you look hard, you might just see one tiny little swimmer with a book in her purse alongside a gangly redhead in a Red Sox cap!



Holy WOW!  I love this post!  Julia & Jason's first date!!!!  And we got to be a part of it!  Thanks ever so much to Lauren Morrill for putting this together for my readers!


Add to Goodreads
Title:  Meant to Be
Author:  Lauren Morrill
Series:  stand-alone
Publisher:  Delacorte
Publication Date:  November 13, 2012
Purchase:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.

It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be").
 

But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.
 

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.



About the author:

LAUREN MORRILL grew up in Maryville, Tennessee, where she was a short-term Girl Scout, a (not so) proud member of the marching band, and a trouble-making editor for the school newspaper. She graduated from Indiana University with a major in history and a minor in rock & roll, and now lives in Macon, GA with her husband and their dog, Lucy. When she's not writing, she spends a lot of hours getting knocked around on the track playing roller derby. Meant to Be is her first novel.

Find out more about Lauren & her novels:






And to support the author and celebrate my love for this book, I'm giving away a Meant to Be prize pack featuring:
  • a copy of Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
  • a pocket Shakespeare (you'll understand it's significance once you read MtB)
  • a set of Shakespearean magnetic poetry



Rules:
  • This giveaway is open to residents of the US only, sorry.  But I do have another international giveaway coming soon!
  • One entry per household.
  • All entries will be verified.  Any entry found to be falsified will result in disqualification of all entries for that participant.
  • Winner will be notified via email.  Winner will then have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be selected.  Please check your SPAM folders!
  • I am not responsible for lost packages.

And now on to the fun stuff!  You only have to follow my blog to enter, but all other entries/follows are appreciated!  :D


I hope you enjoyed this peek at life after Meant to Be for Julia and Jason!  Thanks for stopping by & happy reading!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

image source
Short stories are awesome.  They give us in-depth insight into characters, providing anecdotal proof of why some characters are they way they are.  They entertain by creating a certain mood or focusing on a singular effect...some instance in a previous body of work (or one to follow) that might have been glossed over or ignored completely in a longer novel. 

And so, every Sunday for the foreseeable future, I would like to highlight short stories and novellas set in worlds I've already come to love and learn a little more about some of the secondary characters in my favorite novels.  I'll be underscoring some of my favorite aspects of these short works of fiction, in addition to offering up a mini review of each work.

This week I'm featuring a short story from an anthology focusing on the end of the world as we know it:

Add to Goodreads
Title: 'Til the World Ends
Author: Julie Kagawa, Ann Aguirre & Karen Duvall
Series: Blood of Eden, book #0.5 (prequel)
Publisher: Harlequin Luna
Publication Date: January 29, 2013
Source: from publisher via Netgalley
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Dawn of Eden by Julie Kagawa

Before The Immortal Rules, there was the Red Lung, a relentless virus determined to take out all in its path. For Kylie, the miracle of her survival is also her burden—as a doctor at one of the clinics for the infected, she is forced to witness endless suffering. What’s worse, strange things are happening to the remains of the dead, and by the time she befriends Ben Archer, she’s beginning to wonder if a global pandemic is the least of her problems...

Thistle & Thorne by Ann Aguirre

After a catastrophic spill turns the country into a vast chemical wasteland, those who could afford it retreated to fortresses, self-contained communities run by powerful corporations. But for Mari Thistle, life on the outside—in the Red Zone—is a constant struggle. To protect her family, Mari teams up with the mysterious Thorne Goodman. Together, they’ll face an evil plot in both the underworld of the Red Zone and the society inside the fortresses that could destroy those on the outside... for good.

Sun Storm by Karen Duvall

Sarah Daggot has been chasing storms since she was a child. But after the biggest solar flares in history nearly destroy the planet, she becomes a Kinetic, endowed by her exposure to extreme radiation with the power to sense coming storms—in the cosmos and beyond. And she’s not the only one. Sarah believes the Kinetics are destined to join forces and halt the final onslaught of the sun. She’ll vow to keep trying to convince the one missing link in their chain of defense, the enigmatic Ian Matthews, up until the world ends.


This week, I'll be reviewing Thistle & Thorne by Ann Aguirre.  Time permitting, I'm hoping to get to Sun Storm by Karen Duvall later this week and review it on a future Short Story Sunday post.  That's the plan, anyway.  :)

Thistle & Thorne by Ann Aguirre

So, I don't know why I was under the assumption that this short story was a precursor to the Razorland series.  Maybe it's the names...they seem reminiscent of the ones given to the brats once they were of age.  (I was probably thinking of Thimble, right?)  At any rate, once I got past the fact that this was a new post-apocalyptic world Ann Aguirre had created, I found it much easier to immerse myself in the story.

In fact, this story flew by once Thorne's character was introduced, which is honestly pretty early on.  He plays a rather important role.  Don't get me wrong, I really liked Mari's no-holds-barred attitude, but all her plans went out the window the minute Thorne Goodman stepped into her life.  Don't expect any big romantic declarations of undying love or anything like that, though.  These characters have their own complicated lives to get in order before they can find time for love...though, they would make a very good match.

This short story is a brief glimpse into a dying world, where half the population lives in opulent fortresses while the other half struggles outside the fortress walls, paying "the bossman" for safety.  But no one is really safe on the outside.  The degradation and squalor of this world is due in part to chemical spills and earthquakes that ravaged the landscape many years before, but the people have done nothing to slow its further decline.  And that's sorta where Mari Thistle and Thorne Goodman come in.

I really, really hope that there's a full-length novel planned to follow this short story.  The intensity of this story and the pacing both kept me riveted, but the world itself has me intrigued, as well.  The colorful cast of characters doesn't hurt either.  All in all, this was an explosive story sure to delight fan's of Aguirre's Razorland series.  Here's hoping there's more where this came from!

Rating:   photo 5-1.png


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...