Thursday, June 30, 2011

SpellboundTitle:  Spellbound
Author:  Cara Lynn Shultz
Series:  n/a (at this time)
Publisher:  Harlequin Teen
Publication Date:  June 28, 2011
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Rating:  Photobucket

From Goodreads:

What's a girl to do when meeting The One means she's cursed to die a horrible death?

Life hasn't been easy on sixteen-year-old Emma Conner, so a new start in New York may be just the change she needs. But the posh Upper East Side prep school she has to attend? Not so much. Friendly faces are few and far between, except for one that she's irresistibly drawn to—Brendan Salinger, the guy with the rock-star good looks and the richest kid in school, who might just be her very own white knight.

But even when Brendan inexplicably turns cold, Emma can't stop staring. Ever since she laid eyes on him, strange things have been happening. Streetlamps go out wherever she walks, and Emma's been having the oddest dreams: visions of herself in past lives—visions that warn her to stay away from Brendan. Or else.

I liked this story more than I probably should have. It has insta-love, a predictable plot-line (and one that is very reminiscent of another I've recently read), too many pop-culture references, and some unoriginal characters, but I loved it all the same. It was a light, fun read, and probably just what I needed after reading the eerie Imaginary Girls.
The storyline has promise and clearly paved the way for a series, hopefully more intent on exploring witchcraft than this first novel. The curse served as the basis for Emma and Brendan's story, but based on the excerpt at the end of the ARC I read, told from Angelique's perspective, I think we'll probably see less love story and more witchiness in future books.

I enjoyed the main character. She made me chuckle quite a few times and she was gutsy. And who couldn't adore the swoon-worthy Brendan with his mess of dark hair and penetrating green eyes? The characters were all perfectly lovely in their own way, but they just seemed a little stock to me, so hopefully the author will have more of a chance to develop them with future novels. (I keep saying that because I read elsewhere that there was recently an announcement that this would become a series. I have seen nothing official, and it's not listed as a series on Goodreads, but I'm hoping.)

I know it's next to impossible not to make comparisons when reading, but I really try not to. I've seen such comparisons made in other reviews of this book, but I won't do the same because, despite my qualms with this novel, I still thoroughly enjoyed reading it and feel that it deserves to stand alone and not be compared to its predecessors. I definitely recommend it to anyone who just likes a good love story, but also to those who can see the promise in a first novel, knowing that all endeavors are made better with practice.

Next up for review:  Misfit

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Imaginary GirlsTitle:  Imaginary Girls
Author:  Nova Ren Suma
Series:  n/a
Publisher:  Dutton Juvenile
Publication Date:  June 14, 2011
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Rating:  Photobucket

From Goodreads:

Chloe's older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can't be captured or caged. When a night with Ruby's friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers the dead body of her classmate London Hayes left floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away from town and away from Ruby.

But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns to town two years later, deadly surprises await. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.

With palpable drama and delicious craft, Nova Ren Suma bursts onto the YA scene with the story that everyone will be talking about.

I'm not sure how I feel about this book.  On the one hand, I adored the author's writing style.  It flowed seamlessly.  The story was unusual and intriguing.  But on the other hand,  it left me with so many questions that I felt were never truly answered in the text or implied otherwise.  And I never actually felt drawn to the story itself, never felt the need to read late into the night to find out what happened next.

That said, Imaginary Girls definitely wasn't my usual two-night read.  It took awhile for the story to reel me in, and I never really felt connected to the characters, though I have two sisters of my own and know that there is no bond like that of sisterhood.  Still, I did enjoy the realistic way the author portrayed the relationships outside of the sisters, how each sister was seen through others' eyes.  It really did remind me of the stories shared between me and my own sisters throughout life.  The crush that leads to something more (finally) and then to nothing at all.  The friends who are only friends because of your relation to someone else.  The feigned ignorance of manipulation when it suits.
It's weird how much I identified with this novel but at the same time just couldn't connect with it at all.  Honestly, maybe that's the sign that this was a really great novel, the fact that I can't stop thinking about it, what made it real and what made it awful.  I liked it.  I wanted to love it.  But I think the actual relationship between the sisters kept me from doing so.  Just the fact that Chloe seemed like such a smart girl, but she never even thought to question Ruby's actions.  Chloe believed in her older sister, and even when the horrible reality of Ruby's actions were right before her eyes, she still deluded herself. 

I don't need my protagonist to be perfect, but they have to at least possess a reasonable amount of morality, enough sense to question motives and not follow blindly.  No one's interested in the sheep's story, only the shephard's.  And yet, I still don't know Ruby any better in the end than I did when she first told everyone that Chloe could swim across the reservoir.  But I do know Chloe now, and I've come to discover that I don't know her as well as I thought I did.  Isn't that always the way with sisters, though?

Next up for review:  Spellbound

Saturday, June 25, 2011

In My Mailbox #4

Saturday, June 25, 2011 with 3 comments
In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

Since my last IMM post, I've been on a bit of a buying binge.  After buying (and reading) all of the Nook book versions of The Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy, I went to the bookstore on my Nook and found the following:

Nook Steals N' Deals:
Evermore (The Immortals #1) by Alyson Noel for $2.99
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald for $0.99
Hollowland (The Hollows #1) by Amanda Hocking for $0.99
The Warrior Heir (The Heir Chronicles #1) by Cinda Williams Chima for $2.99

Evermore (The Immortals, #1)The Great GatsbyHollowland (The Hollows, #1)The Warrior Heir (The Heir Chronicles, #1)

Also, because I like pretty covers and have an indescribable need to have a complete series displayed on my bookshelf, I bought the following:

Passion (Fallen #3) by Lauren Kate
Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
Blood Magic (The Blood Journals #1) by Tessa Gratton

Pretty covers, am I right?
And it wouldn't be a proper IMM post if I didn't at least mention the books and swag I've won since my last post.  :P

Signed ARC of Cara Lynn Shultz' Spellbound (courtesy of Anne Riley)
Signed copy of Wings by Aprilynne Pike (courtesy of Rachel Bateman)
Team Tamani and Team David temporary tattoos (from the Wings series by Aprilynne Pike, also courtesy of Rachel Bateman)
Signed Shiver bookmark from Maggie Stiefvater
Signed The Near Witch bookmark from Victoria Schwab
Set of Solstice trading cards from P.J. Hoover

Alright, now that I have some material to read, I'd best hop to it or I'll never get through my TBR pile!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Five #2

Friday, June 24, 2011 with No comments
In which I list the five books I *plan* to read next, major emphasis on the word plan because I'm an impulsive/compulsive book buyer, and what I intend to read also changes with my mood.  =D  Whenever I finish a book, I always feel kind of lost, so I think keeping a list like this will help me stay on track and actually remember what I really wanted to read next.  Hopefully...
Okay, so I'm currently reading Imaginary Girls but after that, these are my next five reads....unless of course I buy another book or win a book I've been dying for or any other number of circumstances that could cause me to move a book up in my TBR pile.  ;)
1.  Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz
2.  Blood Magic (Blood Journals, #1)  by Tessa Gratton
3.  Misfit  by Jon Skovron
4.  Blood Red Road (Dustlands, #1)  by Moira Young
5.  Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz

What are you currently reading and what do you plan on reading next???
Passion (Fallen, #3)Title:  Passion
Author:  Lauren Kate
Series:  Fallen
Publisher:  Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication Date:  June 14, 2011
Links:  Amazon | Goodreads
Rating:  Photobucket

From Goodreads:

"Every single lifetime, I'll choose you. Just as you have chosen me. Forever."

Luce would die for Daniel. And she has. Over and over again. Throughout time, Luce and Daniel have found each other, only to be painfully torn apart: Luce dead, Daniel left broken and alone. But perhaps it doesn’t need to be that way. . . .

Luce is certain that something—or someone—in a past life can help her in her present one. So she begins the most important journey of this lifetime . . . going back eternities to witness firsthand her romances with Daniel . . . and finally unlock the key to making their love last.

Cam and the legions of angels and Outcasts are desperate to catch Luce, but none are as frantic as Daniel. He chases Luce through their shared pasts, terrified of what might happen if she rewrites history.

Because their romance for the ages could go up in flames . . . forever.

I enjoyed Passion even more than the other two books in the series. Lauren Kate's writing is spectacular, even if it is compounded with somewhat generic characters. But even so, I still feel drawn to Luce and Daniel's love story, especially as it's told over and over (and over) again over the course of five thousand years or so in Passion.
The author just has a way with words. From a writer, that's to be expected, right? But even despite the syrupy-sweet love story (and don't get me wrong, I still love it, despite how unrealistic it might be), her ability to create a new world, in a new era for each time Luce and Daniel fall in love, well, that is just first rate. Lauren's writing just lends itself to the reader's imagination, creating incomparable visions of each of Luce's past lives.

There's love. Love lost, again and again. Betrayal. Time travel through Announcers. Beheadings. War. Fire. And more danger than Luce could ever realize. And it's still not over.

I know better than to read a book when it first releases, especially when the series is not yet complete, but I couldn't help myself. It feels like forever ago that I read Fallen and Torment, and I was itching for a Luce and Daniel love-a-thon. And Passion did not leave me wanting.

Rapture, the final book in the Fallen series, is scheduled for release in May of 2012.  But here's the pretty trailer for Fallen to keep you occupied until then.  :)

**Spoilery** One last thing: throughout the entire book, I kept thinking to myself, so...Satan is a Southern gay man? It was a lot of "honey" this and "darlin'" that and he knew quite a bit about fashion. Just sayin'... :D
REMINDER:  Once I reach 50 followers on my blog, I'll be giving away a SIGNED copy of Passion!!!
Next up for review:  Imaginary Girls

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Feature: Pottermore

Thursday, June 23, 2011 with No comments
Pottermore has finally (almost) arrived!!!

I got my email addy in to be part of the beta group on July 31st (Harry's birthday!), did YOU?  If not, you'll only have to wait until October.  You've waited this long, right?  :)

Here are some images from the site's Press Room to hold you over:

The Dark and Hollow Places (The Forest of Hands and Teeth, #3)Title:  The Dark and Hollow Places
Author:  Carrie Ryan
Series:  The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Publisher:  Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication Date:  March 22, 2011
Links:  Amazon | Goodreads
Rating:  Photobucket

From Goodreads:

There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister's face before Annah left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the Horde as they swarmed the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters.

Annah's world stopped that day, and she's been waiting for Elias to come home ever since. Somehow, without him, her life doesn't feel much different than the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Until she meets Catcher, and everything feels alive again.

But Catcher has his own secrets. Dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah has longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it's up to Annah: can she continue to live in a world covered in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return's destruction?

I love how these books weren't necessarily sequels to their predecessors but instead worked as companion novels. You didn't have to have read the other books in the trilogy -- though it did help with the overall arc of the story.
Again, I'm amazed at how long it took me to read this series. Each girls' story -- Gabry's from The Dead-Tossed Waves (my review can be found on Goodreads) was by far my favorite -- was so heart-felt, told with such raw emotion, that it was as if I was living the life of a survivor myself. The true testament of an awesome writer is their ability to make the reader feel one with the story, and in that respect, Ms. Ryan has surpassed my expectations. Her characters all breathe a life of their own into the story, all ingniting a passion and an unrivaled survival instinct to boot.

In this final book, the author hasn't made any of the characters' lives any easier, and she hasn't necessarily tied up any "loose ends" so-to-speak, but she has left the reader with a sense of hope. A light at the end of the tunnel, if you will. Endings don't have to be perfect and sigh-inducing, but if there's one goal that needs to be accomplished with a final book, it's to leave the reader with a sense of satisfaction, and I can say that I felt that after turning the last page of The Dark and Hollow Places.
Next up for review:  Passion (Fallen, #3)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Born Wicked (The Cahill Witch Chronicles, #1)I only recently discovered Born Wicked, the first book in the The Cahill Witch Chronicles by Jessica Spotswood, but it's already generating a lot of buzz, and it's not even due out until February of 2012!  And now it has a cover!  And to celebrate, the author is hosting a contest!  She'll be giving away some awesome Penguin ARCs, including Crossed by Ally Condie, Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer, and Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins.  For your chance to enter, visit the author's blog and leave a comment by noon today!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Passion (Fallen, #3)I love the intense romance and uniqueness of the angel lore in the Fallen series by Lauren Kate, so I was ecstatic when I realized that she was doing not one but TWO signings in my area this weekend.  So, I loaded up my three-year-old daughter and we headed to Allen this morning, along with my complete set of Lauren's works, obviously, in order to attend the second signing.

Lauren was so sweet and so gracious.  She signed all of my books, chatted with my cutie-pie, and even posed for a pic with said cutie-pie (see below).  Not only that, she signed an extra copy of Passion for me.  And since I like to spread the love so much, I'm going to offer up my extra SIGNED copy in my very first giveaway when I reach 50 followers!  So please help spread the word about the blog because as soon as I reach that goal, I'll post the giveaway here, and then you'll have your shot at a signed copy of the third book in this amazing series, which was just released on 6/14!

Lauren Kate & future fangirl  :0)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Five #1

Friday, June 17, 2011 with No comments
In which I list the five books I *plan* to read next, major emphasis on the word plan because I'm an impulsive/compulsive book buyer, and what I intend to read also changes with my mood.  =D  Whenever I finish a book, I always feel kind of lost, so I think keeping a list like this will help me stay on track and actually remember what I really wanted to read next.  Hopefully...

1.  Passion  by Lauren Kate
2.  Imaginary Girls  by Nova Ren Suma
3.  Blood Magic (Blood Journals, #1)  by Tessa Gratton
4.  Misfit  by Jon Skovron
5.  Blood Red Road (Dustlands, #1)  by Moira Young

What are you currently reading and what do you plan on reading next???
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