Friday, May 27, 2011

Fever (Chemical Garden #2)Okay, if you've already read my review of Wither, you already know how much I loved the first installment of the The Chemical Garden Trilogy by Lauren DeStefano.  Well, now's your chance to win not only a personalized ARC of Wither, but also one for Fever, which hasn't even been printed yet!  Interested, you say?  Well, go check out the author's blog for all the details.  And help spread the word.  This is one of my top 5 picks of the year!  Everyone should read it!!!

And in case you still aren't convinced, here's the trailer for Wither:

SolsticeSo, I only recently heard about this novel, which was published this month as an ebook by the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, but the tagline alone has ensured its spot at the top of my TBR pile.  If ever a book's premise was actually aimed directly at me, this would be it:  "Where Mythology and Dystopia meet..."

Did you see that gorgeous cover?!?  And it has an awesome trailer to go with it:

This shall be my "sitting by the lake" holiday read, so be sure to check back soon for my review!  And be sure to check out the author's blog for more information, extras, and other fun stuff!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Divergent (Divergent, #1)Title:  Divergent
Author:  Veronica Roth
Series:  Divergent Trilogy
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: May 3, 2011
Links:  Amazon | Goodreads
Rating:  Photobucket

From Goodreads:

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

I was up until the wee hours of the morning trying to finish this book. It gripped me from the first page, and I couldn't imagine going to sleep without knowing what happened. Which, if you think about it, doesn't make much sense since it's only the first novel in a trilogy, but there it is.

This book was so captivating -- I'm sure that word will appear in a ton of reviews -- and I've heard a lot of comparisons to The Hunger Games, but I don't think that's a fair assessment. Yes, dystopians are very much the trend right now, and dissenters will undoubtedly refute the merits of this novel by calling it just another copy-cat trying to ride on the coattails of The Hunger Games' success. I assure you it is not. This book is real and honest and compelling and unafraid. Of course there are going to be similarities, but that will always be the case in literature; it's how the story is told that makes it stand out, stand apart. However, if The Hunger Games is the dystopian novel in which we are to compare all others, it has found its equal.

In Beatrice/Tris, Veronica Roth provides us with a main character that we can immediately find likeable and even relatable. Tris is not pretty. She doesn't have many friends. She doesn't always make the right decisions, and she struggles to be the person she is expected to be. Her voice is so natural, so powerful that you feel as she feels. Tris is not invincible, but she is strong and intelligent. We're allowed to see her flaws and faults, that she isn't perfect and can't best every foe placed before her. Tris is very capable but she's still fragile and needs help at times to overcome her obstacles. That's where Four comes in.

Four is the perfect complement to Tris. He pushes her and has no sympathy for her plight, but it is still obvious that he cares for her. Four does what he can to keep Tris safe, but she doesn't fully understand their relationship, why he taunts her or doesn't acknowledge what happens between them in private. One of my favorite scenes is when she confronts him about it, and Four says, "I didn't think it would affect you this way. Sometimes I forget that I can hurt you. That you are capable of being hurt." Four believes in Tris when maybe no one else does. Their mutual respect is a driving force in their relationship, and that only gets stronger when they see each other at their weakest.

The world Roth has created in Divergent is fascinating. People are split into factions based on their strengths and how they perceive that the downfall of their once great civilization came about. They must choose which faction they belong in at the young age of sixteen, and this decision impacts the rest of their lives, determining if they will live out the rest of their lives with their families or choose a different path altogether. The motto of all factions is faction before blood. What a difficult choice to be faced with at sixteen.

This first installment mostly concerns itself with following Tris through her initiation into the faction she chooses. We see her grow and overcome. We see her fall and we see her triumph. And through it all, we see Tris become the person she always suspected she was. But now she's starting to suspect that things are not as they seem and her life may really be in danger.

Divergent is full of suspense and there is no end to the action. These characters do not sit idly by and wait for things to happen. They are always in the midst of it. There are secrets in this novel, too, which I will refrain from spoiling, but I'll just say that all of my suspicions were confirmed. That's not to say that the answers are there in plain sight. No, you do have to work things out on your own. I just seem to have inherited my mother's gift for always knowing what's about to happen in a book or in a movie.

This was such a great read. All of the hype over the release of this book was not for naught. I dreamt about it after I finished it last night, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since. I'm actually already considering re-reading it. In my haste to devour it, I am sure I glossed over items of importance, and though I know I have a year or more in which to re-read it before the second installment is released, I don't know if I want to wait to read it again. My congratulations to the author for bestowing such an astounding debut novel on the world.
*I won an ARC of this novel from Pitch Dark Books/Harper Teen in their Dark Days of Supernatural promotion.*

Next up for review:  Illusions (Wings, #3)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

All the things I found on the internet this week that made me swoon, giggle, or just wish I had a time machine so I could travel to the future.  Enjoy!

TMI Post Card Short Story from Cassandra Clare

Malec kissing scene from Cassandra Clare for reaching 30k followers on Twitter

Arriane’s Day Out extra from Passion by Lauren Kate

Vanish Giveaway from Good Choice Reading

Die for Me by Amy Plum trailer:

Last but not least, the official casting for the tributes of The Hunger Games.  Additionally, Elizabeth Banks has been cast as Effie Trinket, Stanley Tucci has been cast as Caesar Flickerman, and Woody Harrelson has been cast as Haymitch Abernathy.  So excited for this book to be brought to the big screen!!!
Title:  In the Arms of Stone Angels
Author:  Jordan Dane
Series:  n/a
Publisher:  Harlequin
Publication Date:  April 1, 2011
Links:  Amazon | Goodreads
Rating:  Photobucket

From Goodreads:

Two years ago, Brenna did the unthinkable. She witnessed the aftermath of a murder and accused her only true friend--the first boy she ever loved--of being a killer.

Now sixteen, Brenna returns to Oklahoma only to discover that Isaac "White Bird" Henry isn't in juvie. The half-breed outcast is in a mental hospital, frozen in time, locked in his mind at the worst moment of his life. And when Brenna touches him, she's pulled into his hellish vision quest, seeing terrifying demons and illusions she doesn't understand.

Feeling isolated and alone, she's up against the whole town, targeted by bullying former classmates, a bigoted small town sheriff, and a tribe who refuses to help one of their own. But when Brenna realizes she's as trapped by the past as White Bird is, this time she won't turn her back on him. She's the only one who can free them both.

Even if she has to expose her secret--a "gift" she's kept hidden her whole life.

Although the premise of this story was unique, I found it very hard to get involved in the storyline. This seemed more like a debut novel than one from an established author. However, I've not read any of the author's previous works, so I do not know if this is the norm for her or not.

I was very aggravated with the voice of the female main character. Yes, she was a teenager and is expected to be lacking in maturity, but I can't believe that even I sounded this immature as a sixteen-year-old: 'Derek got in my face, close enough for me to smell his bad breath and get a zoom on his zits. One on his chin was ripe. The dude seriously needed to harvest.'

The story, albeit different, was very predictable and a chore to finish. It was a quick, light read, but I'm unlikely to recommend it to any fellow readers.

*I won a copy of this book through a giveaway on The Book Heist.*

Next up for review:  Divergent (Divergent, #1)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

In My Mailbox #2

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 with No comments
In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

Sooo...another good week for me.  =)  I won a promotion Pitch Dark Books/Harper Teen (The Dark Days of Supernatural) that included a tote bag, bookmarks, and some great books:

Illusions by Aprilynne Pike
Divergent by Veronica Roth (ARC)
Die for Me by Amy Plum (ARC)
Love Bites (Vampire Kisses #7) by Ellen Schreiber
Something Deadly This Way Comes (Madison Avery trilogy #3) by Kim Harrison (shipping separately, not pictured below)
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini (ARC)
Hereafter by Tara Hudson (ARC)

I also received a copy of My Soul to Steal by Rachel Vincent, which I won through a contest hosted by Reading Habit.

Also, before I won the Dark Days of Supernatural contest, I had already pre-ordered a copy of Divergent from Barnes & Noble, which I also received this week.  (It is as good as everyone says.  I'll be posting my review in the next few days.)

Title:  The Eleventh Plague
Author:  Jeff Hirsch
Series:  n/a
Publisher:  Scholastic Press
Publication Date:  September 1, 2011
Links:  Amazon | Goodreads
Rating:  Photobucket

From Goodreads:

“With its crumbling Starbucks and rusting theme parks, The Eleventh Plague hits disturbingly close to home, vividly depicting a world that has nose-dived into a futuristic nightmare. Fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn struggles to define his rules of survival in Jeff Hirsch’s excellent, taut debut novel.” — Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games

In an America devastated by war and plague, the only way to survive is to keep moving.

In the aftermath of a war, America’s landscape has been ravaged and two thirds of the population left dead from a vicious strain of influenza. Fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn and his family were among the few that survived and became salvagers, roaming the country in search of material to trade for food and other items essential for survival.

But when Stephen’s grandfather dies and his father falls into a coma after an accident, Stephen finds his way to Settler’s Landing, a community that seems too good to be true, where there are real houses, barbecues, a school, and even baseball games. Then Stephen meets strong, defiant, mischievous Jenny, who refuses to accept things as they are. And when they play a prank that goes horribly wrong, chaos erupts, and they find themselves in the midst of a battle that will change Settler’s Landing forever.

I was excited to read this debut novel from Jeff Hirsch, especially after word got out that Suzanne Collins had blurbed it, saying, "The Eleventh Plague hits disturbingly close to home...An excellent, taut debut novel." Dystopians are all the rage right now, but I wanted to read something different, and this book provides just that.

First off, I enjoy a good male protagonist. After reading so many dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels, one begins to wonder, are young women the only ones who will stay strong in the face of adversity? That's obviously not going to be the case when things do take a turn for the worse, so it was nice to have a strong male lead in young Stephen Quinn.

The world the author has created is surreal but entirely plausible. The aftermath of a war between North America and China was a flu-like pandemic that eradicated a good percentage of North America's population and left the survivors with nothing. The country is a wasteland, there are those who would push the survivors into slavery, and no one is safe. But when Stephen is left on his own, he discovers a community that has some semblance of what the world was like before the war.

I think the thing that made this novel so realistic to me was that the kids were still kids, at least in Settler's Landing. The children in the village still attend school, still play baseball, still pull pranks on each other. I think when faced with such hardships, human beings will always fall back on what they're accustomed to. And since the adults in this novel were all young adults themselves when the plague hit, they want their children to have that same sense of normalcy, no matter how short-lived it may be.

Kudos to Mr. Hirsch. I don't like to envision that our great nation could end up torn asunder in the manner of his book, but I'm glad to think that if it does, we'll still all be red-blooded Americans at heart if it comes to that.

*I won a signed ARC of this novel from the author on*

Next up for review:  In the Arms of Stone Angels

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I love book trailers.  Some give you insight into what's going to happen in a book, and some just look really pretty.  Either way, I can't get enough of them.

Maggie Stiefvater created her very own trailer for Forever (you can get a signed copy here), the final book in her "The Wolfs of Mercy Falls" series.  She takes creative to a whole other level.  Behold:

The trailer for Entwined by Heather Dixon is just beautiful and intriguing.  It's seriously making me reconsider the placement of this book in my TBR pile!

Although we have to wait a little over a month for the release of Lauren Kate's Passion, the trailer was released today.  I'm still not sure what to think about Luce and Daniel's relationship, but I can't wait to read more, especially to see how things develop now that Miles is in the picture!

So many great books to look forward to!  I need a separate calendar just to keep track of them all!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Wither (Chemical Garden, #1)
Title:  Wither
Author:  Lauren DeStefano
Series:  Chemical Garden Trilogy
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Publication Date:  March 22, 2011
Links:  Amazon | Goodreads
Rating:  Photobucket

From Goodreads:

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

Word of mouth travels seems that all of my online buddies have already read this novel and steadfastly approve, myself included. What a brilliant debut! When you envision your own novel, you only dare hope that it comes out half as amazing as Lauren DeStefano's futuristic vision of our world. If you haven't heard great things about this book, you must be holed up in a cave. I cannot recommend reading this book enough!

The characterization in 'Wither' is absolutely phenomenal. The characters are captivating and completely human in their exploits. Every new thing you learn about them is a kick in the pants, pulling you into the story that much further. The polygamy aspect of the story really intrigued me, in the same way that you have to look at an accident on the highway as you know it's disturbing, but somehow seeing the devastation will help you understand it. DeStefano really delves into the subject and how it affects the sister wives, though her concentration is on Rhine, the main character.

I adore Rhine's character. She's strong and oh-so-stubborn, her focus only on escaping this sham of a marriage and getting back to her brother Rowan, though she's distracted by the handsome and sympathetic Gabriel. Gabriel's character was the yin to Rhine's yang, but I still felt myself begrudgingly sympathetic towards Linden, despite his actions; I suppose that's just a testament to the writer's abilities.  She's just able to give such depth to the characters, as well as the world she's created for them.

I am in love with this novel. It's my #1 read for this year, and it was unexpected. I love the dystopian genre, so I knew I would like it, but wow, I like it like I like the hunger games. It's unique and sets itself completely apart from the rest of the genre. It's defiant and it asks questions that some would be afraid to answer. But it's unequivocally fearless and courageously tests the waters, and it has found an audience waiting to tread those waters unafraid.  I cannot wait to read more of Rhine's story!

*I won a copy of this novel thru a giveaway from Beth Revis:*

Next up for review:  The Eleventh Plague
In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

Being my very first blog post, I thought I'd start with the books I've recently received...

Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Dreadfully Ever After by Steve Hockensmith
In the Arms of Stone Angels by Jordan Dane
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (ARC)
The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch (ARC)
Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
 Wither (Chemical Garden, #1)Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After (Quirk Classics)In the Arms of Stone AngelsAnna Dressed in Blood (Anna Dressed in Blood, #1)The Eleventh PlagueWarm Bodies

Entwined by Heather Dixon
Graceling (The Seven Kingdoms Trilogy #1) by Kristin Cashore
Fire (The Seven Kingdoms Trilogy #2) by Kristin Cashore
 EntwinedGraceling (The Seven Kingdoms Trilogy, #1)Fire (The Seven Kingdoms Trilogy, #2)

I'll be reviewing most of these books in the coming weeks.
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