9.29.2011

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa


Publisher:  Harlequin Teen
Date:  October 25, 2011
Series or Standalone:  Fourth in series
ISBN: 978-0373210367
Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Source: Netgalley

 Rating: C   
First line: "Oy, ice-boy! You sure you know where you're going?"

Description (from goodreads): Ash, former prince of the Winter Court, gave up everything. His title, his home, even his vow of loyalty. All for a girl… and all for nothing.

Unless he can earn a soul. (More)
Image by FlamingText.com

Oh, The Iron Knight. Oh, Ash who I love so, so, so, so very much. Oh, how I was kind of disappointed.  Oh, reader who is probably thinking of all the ways you are about to kill me for this rating. 

This is the one time I will say I wish a book had never been written. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Ash. This series is one of my favorites.

But for me, The Iron Queen was SO fantastic. It was the *perfect* book. And then I heard there was going to be another one. I was pretty darn excited--as was the rest of the world. But I have to be honest and say I was a little let down by this one. I'm not entirely sure if this is a case where my tastes have changed during the waiting because I've grown as a reader and so I'm not as easily satisfied OR if it's really the fault of the book. I will tell you all the reasons and then you can form your opinion.

Also, I have lost sleep over this review because I didn't want to write it. But as I'm trying to put my thoughts together, I know I have to say this to have an honest review. So. Here we go. I will try really, really, really hard not to spoil things.

It took me 60 (maybe more) pages to believe that it was Ash telling the story. It wasn't what I expected him to sound like. Then there was a point when I accepted it was him, and the voice didn't bother me as much. But then, there were other things that did. One example, he saw a lot of random things that I didn't understand. (Ie. the hairs on someone else's neck stand on end. How did he see that? How?)

Then there is the return of a character who I a) totally knew would come back b) was not happy that this character was back and c) completely predicted the reason the character was back. It was a trick that left me really dissatisfied because the character was supposed to create tension, and didn't really do that.

Everything happened really quickly. Our characters are on a quest here to do something really epic--give Ash mortality so he can be with Megan--and it's built up in the book as impossible. No one ever survived the quest. But then, as Ash, Puck and company go along, they complete it so quickly. Every chapter was Ash and company defeating a new challenge. I know that it was happening so it would all be done in one book, but I wanted SO much more than I got. I would have rather had less things happen and them take longer, than to have so much crammed into one book. There was so much happening I still don't know the point of some of those things they did--and definitely can't remember them all.

The ending was a really, really, really big let down. I'm not going to say anything as to what happens, but the POV switches in the last chapter and I still can only think of how much that was the one moment I wanted to see from Ash's perspective and didn't get to. So sad. So sad. That's probably the biggest thing that made me like it less. The other things I could've gotten over, but not that.

Not everything was bad.

The best parts of this book were Grim (as always) and, surprisingly for me, Puck. Puck and Ash had such great banter and comroderie that I can't even begin to express how much I loved it. It was so perfect. Seriously. Perfection. For me, maybe because Ash doesn't work as well as a narrator, Puck made the book. Shocking, I know since I'm team Ash.

All in all, I think everyone who loved the series will read the book. Most people will really love it. If you were like me and totally fell hard for The Iron Queen then you may want to think and wait and let some of this review marinate with you. Check out some other opinions. I may be the only who feels this way. It was a hard adjustment for me.

What else should I say.....? I am a cat.  

 Get more info/pre-order:
Goodreads ||| Amazon ||| IndieBound ||| Book Depository |||| Barnes & Noble  
The author on the web:
Blog ||| Twitter ||| Website

9.28.2011

Waiting On Wednesday (6): This Is Not a Test

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Anyone can play along just tell us which book you are waiting to read.





It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up.


As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, everyone’s motivations to survive begin to change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life–and death–inside.


When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

Date: June 2012
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

So excited. I know it's a long time from now, but still. I can't wait. I LOVE Courtney Summers. All of her novels are amazing, amazing, sick and amazing. I'm so excited to see what happens when she mixes her heartwrenching, beautiful prose, brilliant characters, general evilness (in the best way possible) with ZOMBIES.


What are you waiting for??

9.26.2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor


Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Date:  September 27, 2011
Series or Standalone: First of series
ISBN: 978-0316134026
Format: Hardcover,  432 pages
Source: ARC from BEA
Cover thoughts: love this cover, actually.

 Rating: A++++++ (I really loved it, okay?) 
  First line: Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.
Image by FlamingText.com
Once upon a time…

Imagine a world where wishes hang around necks on a string. Where teeth can be traded for wishes.

Imagine a world where chimaera—demon creatures that seem to be woven together from spare parts—collect teeth.

Imagine a world with portals to other lands, and a girl with blue hair who was raised by demons.

This is the world of Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

Laini Taylor has built the most incredible world I’ve ever experienced in a book. Ever. Thinking about how fantastic this book was just gives me chills. If you’re around the internet at all, you’ve probably heard people talking about this book. It’s for a good reason. The book is utterly fantastic.

a demon…

The novel is split into four sections and each one opens with a short fairy tale. The first section, we learn all about Karou and her unusual life. Karou is a girl who has blue hair, eye tattoos on her palms (called Hamsas), no family and a talent for art. She wears wishes around her neck and spends all her spare time running errands for a chimaera named Brimstone, a demon creature who raised her and trades wishes for teeth.

Karou doesn’t know much about the chimaera world—a place called Elsewhere that is only a portal away. Aside from the four who raised her and the few who come into Brimstone’s shop to trade teeth, she doesn’t encounter many chimaera. It’s almost as if she is a secret. Of course, she doesn’t know just how much that is true. Brimstone keeps Karou busy and away, sending her on errands to gather teeth and giving her wishes—usually scuppies which she wears on a necklace—as payment.

Wishes are powerful things in this world—ranging in size from a scuppy (used for small, meaningless wishes) to a bruxis (a powerful wish that requires the wishmaker to extract all his teeth in exchange.) We get to see the effects of every kind of wish there is and I must say, some of them are haunting.

and an angel…

“The angels are coming.” That’s a line from Doctor Who, but oh, so appropriate here. The angels in Daughter of Smoke and Bone are all sorts of terrifying—in their beauty, in their power, in their hatred of chimaera. This is no ordinary good vs. evil, demon vs. angel story. No, these angels are trained for one thing: killing the chimaera.

And one certain angel named Akiva has a personal vendetta against the chimaera. One in particular…

So when he sees a girl blue hair running around the city, gathering teeth, he knows she’s the key to find that one chimaera. The one who took everything from him. He follows the blue haired girl, and soon, they both find themselves trapped. Akiva is trapped with this memories and Karou in the mortal world with no way to get to her family. All that’s left of the portals that connected them are gone, charred with black handprints fitting angels.

fell in love.

 Taylor does this fantastic job at picking all this moments to tell these seemingly insignificant things and you don’t really know their purpose. And it happens so much that there are more questions than there are answers, and they keep building and building and building…

Just when you think you can’t take any more questions, any more trails of these random things—they all come together and Oh. My. Gosh. It’s more than you dreamed. This book is so layered. Every hing builds. Every thing matters. Everything is not what it seems.

The characters—everyone from Karou to Brimstone to the graverobber Karou takes teeth from—are so well-rounded. I’m in awe at how Taylor did that so well. The way she can take a simple emotion and these simple words and make these sentences that dance off the page….I can’t even fathom it.

There’s humor in this book, romance, an intricant level of plot, characters, writing, history and details that develop together to build this fantastic book. I wish I could tell you all the reasons I loved this book without ruining it. But there’s just no way to that. You will need to read it.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is not a book that you can zoom through. It’s too layered, too build, too descript for that. It’s one that you have to read when you have nowhere else to be, nothing else to do and long for escape. It’s a slow race, a slow story because there are so many things that are being developed—but I promise it’s worth the wait. It’s 400 odd pages of amazing.

It did not end well.

But it did. It so, so did. I am waiting on bated breath for book two.

*all quotes are from ARC form and subject to change in final version

 Get more info/pre-order:
Goodreads ||| Amazon ||| IndieBound ||| Book Depository |||| Barnes & Noble  

The author on the web:
Blog ||| Twitter ||| Book Twitter

9.23.2011

Friday Reads

On twitter, there's this thing called #FridayReads. It's where you tell everyone what you are reading.

I am tired. I am so tired. I haven't read much lately because I've been working and adjusting and writing words and doing homework. Again. All the homework.

This weekend, in between all the things, I am going to read this book.


I probably won't be able to finish it, but I am looking forward to reading something! I am also going to do homework, do some things for the YA Spooktacular, work at the bookstore and sleep.


What are you reading this weekend??




9.22.2011

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson


Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Date: September 20, 2011
Series or Standalone:  First of trilogy
ISBN:  978-0062026484
Format: Hardcover, 432 pages
Source: ARC
Cover thoughts: Not good. Not good. Even with the constant changes. Eh.

 Rating: C-    
Image by FlamingText.com

Hyped books are either hit or miss with me. Majority of them have sadly been a miss for me. We are not friends currently, I guess. I was so looking forward to this. It was going to be so awesome and kick butt and bam! But, in the end, it wasn’t.

My only thought when I think about this book is: I can’t believe she ___ ____ !

The story is of princess Elisa, who has just turned sixteen and is about to be married to King Alejandro. She’s not excited, to say the least, but it is her duty. Elisa is also the chosen one, a bearer of a mysterious Godstone that has given her a destiny to fulfill. The only problem? Elisa is not special. She is fat and has never done anything exciting, ever. The prophecy says she will lead a revolution, but she doesn’t believe it. Not at all.

Elisa fell flat for me. I didn’t really feel like she grew at all. When I started reading the book, I completely liked it. It was interesting, it was fast moving, it was kind of exciting. And then we jump into part two of the story, and things reached a stand still for me. There wasn’t much happening. She wasn’t impressive. Another big flaw between me and Elisa, was her weight thing.

Now, I’m a fat girl. Elisa kept saying she was a fat girl. But all of it was such a stereotype. She loved to eat, and okay I like to eat, but I don’t think about food all the time. I don’t think about how fat I am. I just live. Elisa relished in these statements—her desire for food, how she knew how fat she was, etc--and the worst part about is that I didn’t believe it at all. I never saw her as fat in my head because she didn’t act like a fat girl. What do I mean? She ran with ease. She climbed stairs. She hauled things. There’s only one instance—halfway into the book—when I knew she was fat, when I believed. And then, SPOILER, she gets skinny. Awesome. Thanks for ruining that for me. (I have many thoughts on that but I won't say them for spoiler reasons.)

The things that were so important didn’t seem that important. There was a lot of telling me SO MANY THINGS and I just didn’t believe most of it. Not at all. Something about it didn’t connect with me—and it definitely wasn’t for the lack of trying to connect.

I can go on and on about how a simple, not-special girl starts a revolution. About how her actions have no validity. About the pacing of the story—which is slow in parts and too fast in others—the characters. Things happened so easily for Elisa, and I hate when that happens. Make the character work for something!

I think there were good things in this book. The world that’s built is pretty concrete. For the most part, I really enjoyed the love interest of the story. (Who’s not the husband, even though he was fine too.) I liked the idea of the story. The battles were descriptive, the magic and the power of the Godstone were developed. I think some readers—especially if you like high fantasy—will enjoy it. Things happened that I didn’t expect—i.e. that OMG moment I listed above—and there are some really great one-liners where Carson’s writing ability shines through.
 

 Get more info/pre-order:
Goodreads ||| Amazon ||| IndieBound ||| Book Depository |||| Barnes & Noble  
The author on the web:
Blog ||| Website ||| Twitter ||| Goodreads ||| Facebook

9.21.2011

Waiting on Wednesday (5): Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick



Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick
The noise between Patch and Nora is gone. They've overcome the secrets riddled in Patch's dark past...bridged two irreconcilable worlds...faced heart-wrenching tests of betrayal, loyalty and trust...and all for a love that will transcend the boundary between heaven and earth. Armed with nothing but their absolute faith in one another, Patch and Nora enter a desperate fight to stop a villain who holds the power to shatter everything they've worked for—and their love—forever.

        Hey guys! Just stopping by with a quick WOW. This week it's Becca Fitzpatrick's silence. It's the third book in the Hush Hush series that was a New York times best seller! I loved loved loved Hush Hush and I can't wait for silence on October 4th :)

 Get more info/pre-order: Goodreads ||| Amazon |||  Book Depository |||| Barnes & Noble The author on the web: Blog ||| Website ||| Twitter |||  

9.20.2011

Reasons To Be Happy Review


Publisher: Sourcebooks, incorporated
Date: October 1, 2011  
Standalone or series: standalone
 ISBN:1402260202
Format: Print, 224 pages  
Cover thoughts: Love the cover, it really makes me want to smile.


 Rating:  B +   
First line: Reasons to Be Happy: 1. Swimming with dolphins 2. Outrunning forest fire 3. A hot air balloon ride



Reasons to by Happy:

  1. cat purr vibrating through your skin
  2. jumping on a trampoline in the rain
  3. raw cookie dough
  4. getting yourself all freaked out after a scary movie
  5. dancing like an idiot when no one is watching

What happened to the girl who wrote those things? I miss that girl. She use to be bold and fun. Now she’s a big chicken loser.
How could so much change so fast?
Let’s see, you could be the plain jane daughter of two gorgeous famous people; move to a new school’ have no real friends; your mom could get sick’ and oh yeah, you could have the most embarrassing secrete in the world. Yup, that about does it.
So the real question is how do I get that girl back?”
Image by FlamingText.com
Reasons to be happy is an interesting story that just makes me want to smile while I read it. This is one of those books that makes me look at my life differently. 
Hannah, the main character, is telling you a story of her struggle with bulimia after her mother’s death of cancer. Through the book you start to gain a sort of friendship with Hannah and her family. I love that Hannah doesn’t seem like a hollywood starlet like you’d think, it’s like she’s an actual person. She seems to give you all the little details of her struggle with self image problems that I know I’ve felt before myself. 
I also love how the story seems to take a turn when Hannah takes an adventure with her aunt. She learns the true meaning of beauty and the importance of real friends. 
Over all the book was really inspirational while fun to read. I think it’s a wonderful read for anyone, especially those struggling with self image. I would recommend this book for the junior high and upper elementary age because it’s a relatable story that could help a lot of girls as they move up into high school. 
Be sure to check out Katrina Kittle’s Reasons to be Happy the first of October.


 Get more info/pre-order: Goodreads ||| Amazon ||| Book Depository |||| Barnes & Noble The author on the web: Blog ||| Website ||| Twitter ||| 


9.19.2011

Reasons To Be Happy Tour Stop


I have on the blog today, a fantastic interview with author Katrina Kittle. Her book REASONS TO BE HAPPY comes out October 1 with Soucebooks. Here's a little about it!

21. Cat purr vibrating through your skin
22. Jumping on a trampoline in the rain
23. Raw cookie dough
24. Getting yourself all freaked out after a scary movie
25. Dancing like an idiot when no one is watching
What happened to the girl who wrote those things? I miss that girl. She used to be bold and fun. Now she's a big chicken loser.
How could so much change so fast?
Let's see, you could be the plain Jane daughter of two gorgeous famous people, move to a new school, have no real friends, and your mom could get sick, and, oh yeah, you could have the most embarrassing secret in the world.
Yep, that about does it.
So, the real question is, how do I get that girl back?

You can learn more about the book on Katrina's website |||| Katrina's blog ||| on goodreads ||| pre-order on Amazon. You can also read the first three chapters here. Now, check out our interview. Our review is going up tomorrow and if you leave a comment here or there (with your email or twitter!), you could win an ARC.


If you could be an item on mexican restaurant menu, what would you be and why? 

Hmm. What a fun question. I'm almost embarrassed to admit I thought about this one longer than any of the others! I think I'd be a tamale, because they're unique and labor intensive, and therefore not on every Mexican restaurant menu. That means, they stand out—for instance, I look for them on menus and I'm always excited to see them and try them. A really good tamale is not commonplace. 
 
Everyone’s journey into writing is different. Tell us about yours. Was it something you always wanted to do or did it just happen?

It's funny. I've always written. In those fuzzy memories of my childhood before I could write, I "told stories" in elaborate picture story boards, like graphic novels with no words! I have journals dating back to third grade. I loved to write stories and all of my creative assignments for English classes were always far longer than the assignment requirements. 

I was an English major in college, but I was always studying other authors' writing, and the writing I did was academic. I never thought about creative writing for publication, for any kind of audience, until after college. It "happened" because a very particular story tugged on me, wanting to be told. 

I was really driven to write my first novel, TRAVELING LIGHT, because I was teaching high school at the time and I wanted to put a human face on AIDS for those students. It started as a short story, then ended up growing into a novel. Every novel since has also begun with a social issue I'm very passionate about. I start with an issue, but then I work hard to find the characters who would inhabit a story about that issue...because a novel must be a story above all else. It can't just be some public service announcement! 

What was a recent book that you read that you really enjoyed? 

I was recently blown away by WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN by Lionel Shriver, told from the fascinating point of view of the mother of a school shooter. I was completely smitten with her amazing storytelling and gorgeous language. I'd go back and reread pages, just marveling at her skill and the pleasure I got from watching her unfold this suspenseful, harrowing tale. I now want to read every single other book she's ever written! I've also been haunted by WINTER'S BONE by Daniel Woodrell. I love a strong, kickbutt heroine. 

Did you do any research for your writing? If so, what are some things that you pulled from? 

Yes. Most of my research centered around the eating disorder. I'd had some experience with former students to pull from, but I also researched on my own extensively, as well as meeting with a therapist who works with many young women with eating disorders. Dr. Ackerman helped talk me through the "shape" of Hannah's disorder, and what her treatment and recovery would likely look like. 


I'd also been wanting, for years, to use some of my experiences from a trip to Ghana and other West African countries I was lucky enough to visit. Sometimes lots of seemingly disparate ideas simmer around for a good long while before I realize they might be connected. 

Tell us about REASONS TO BE HAPPY in six words or less. 

Life's short. Be authentic. or LA bulimic lands in Ghana. Lifechanging. 

How did you create the world of REASONS? Was there an event or a moment that inspired the idea? 

I'd been a middle school teacher for several years and I'd seen a particular phenomenon occur over and over again: bright, bold, curious girls—strong and confident in their abilities—would hit a wall of self-doubt in sixth or seventh grade. They'd lose all sense of their own unique identity, stop taking any risks, and retreat into approval-seeking behaviors that made them all seem like watered-down clones of each other. I know I'd done it myself when I was in sixth grade! 

So, I was interested in trying to catch that struggle, as well as the experience of coming out on the other side of it. I knew that all too often body image was still a huge part of this identity crisis. With every story I write, as the story is taking shape in my head I try to continually "up the stakes." So, originally I thought: what if this girl feels ugly but her parents are gorgeous? I upped the stakes to: what if her parents aren't just gorgeous but everyone KNOWS they're gorgeous because they're famous? What if they live where beauty is higher valued than most places? What if her parents are not just famous and gorgeous but distracted and unavailable to her...and on and on. 

And then, once I got poor Hannah into a miserable situation, I thought: what if I now plunk her down in a culture where she has no idea what's even considered beautiful? What is one thing you want readers, especially young readers, to take from your books? I think all of my novels share the topic of human resilience. I'm fascinated by stories of ways people have been broken but then come back stronger at their broken places. I think that's what I want readers to take away: that life will kick us all in the teeth at some point or another, but we can rise above it, and not just survive, but thrive. 

With REASONS TO BE HAPPY, I especially want them to grasp that every struggle is easier when we're our authentic selves. 

What are the five things that make you happiest? 
 1. My amazing tribe of family and friends 
2. My silly cat Joey 
3. My overflowing garden 
4. Cooking for friends 
5. Writing 

Lightning Round: 
Favorite sound? Cat purr
Favorite show? The Walking Dead—can't wait for Season Two! I love a good zombie apocalypse story. 
Soup or salad? Winter=soup, summer=salad 
Ice cream or cake? Ice cream! 
Mountain or beach? Beach
London or Paris? London 
Pen or pencil? Really sharp pencils 
Rain or snow? Ohhhh, such a toss up. Rainy days make great writing days...so rain.

 Thanks so much to Kit for stopping by! I love this interview. Check out Hannah-Beth's review of Reasons to Be Happy and.....BLAH BLAH INSERT TOUR INFO.

9.16.2011

Mara Madness Blog Tour

Welcome to today's stop on the MARA Madness Blog Tour hosted all month by Books Complete Me. This is stop number 10 and to see all the other ones, click on that banner below! I love The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and I'm excited to be part of the tour!

Today, you get to meet Daniel. Who's he? Well, he is Mara's amazing brother. I think you'll get to know a lot about him in this interview. He's loyal and he's always looking out for his family. There's something really intriguing about Daniel, and he's one of my favorite characters in the novel. He's smart, friendly, and a little geeky sometimes. A great combination! Before you meet him in the book, meet him here.

What do you do for fun?
I read—Don DeLillo and Franz Kafka are my favorite authors. I also write music—Chopin and Rachmaninoff are my favorite composers.

What is your earliest memory?
When I was five, my parents took me and Mara on a cruise to Alaska. They had this talent show set up for the kids and my parents wanted me and Mara to participate so they could get a break and relax. Mara wanted to sing a song and I wanted to play piano, but then she decided she wanted to do something together. So we practiced Chopsticks for weeks, keeping it a secret from our parents, until the day of the talent show. The crew took us to a big stage and there was a piano all set up in the middle, and when we went out there, we saw virtually every single person on the cruise ship in the audience—there must have been hundreds of people. I remember being really nervous and I froze, but Mara didn’t miss a beat. She just walked right up to the piano and sat down, then turned and waited for me. I followed, and we played, and everyone gave us a standing ovation. That’s my earliest memory.

Who has had the most influence on you?
Franz Kafka.

Who is the most important person in your life, and why?
My mom. She’s been through more than most people know about, but she hasn’t let anything weaken her. She loves her kids ferociously and would do anything for us.

What do you consider the most important event of your life so far?
When the delivery people showed up at our old house with the piano. I don’t remember ever saying that I wanted to play, but I think my mom knew that I did. It was an old Steinway and must have been expensive, but without it, I wouldn’t have discovered how much I love music.

What was it like when you heard about the accident your sister was in?
I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared. At the time, we didn’t know if she would wake up. But our father told us more than once how dangerous it is to do what she did—she wasn’t the first teenager to try it. So I was also angry at her. It was truly the most horrible moment of my life.

What's your biggest secret?
I have Bieber Fever. 

---
That's Daniel!! You'll get to know him more in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and he's an amazing brother/character.

As part of the Mara Madness Blog Tour, you get to solve a puzzle! Each blog has one letter assigned to them. Each stop on the tour (21 stops total) will be posting a letter and the chance to enter ends the last day of the tour, 9/30 at midnight. When you put the puzzle together, it spells out an important line from the book! Even if you haven't read the book yet, you'll still be able to piece it together. You can submit your answer here when you know it. Make sure to check out Books Complete Me on Monday the October 3rd to see if you were right!

The prize: 2 people will win a signed, finished copy of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer!

The letter for this blog:








Make sure you check out Books with Bite on Monday (and all the other stops!) to gather the clues.
 

9.14.2011

#YAScramble: 15 Books You May Not Know About (And Should)


The YA Scramble is a chance to win a TON of prizes. They will be awesome. (You can see the full list at the bottom of the page!) I'm hosting Gail from Ticket to Anywhere and you can read my post at the Kaledeidoscpic reviews, which is the next stop!!


How it works: 
1) Visit the first blog (based on list below). 
2) Read the guest post. 
3) Identify the PURPLE word. 
4) Pick out the 3rd letter from the purple word.
5) Go to the next blog. 
6) Repeat #3, #4, and #5 until you visited all 14 sites. 
7) At the end, take all 14 of the 3rd letters from the PURPLE words and figure out the message near and dear to our hearts. 
8) You will enter that unscrambled message ONCE into this form as your official entry for a chance to win some great prizes from fantastic authors and bloggers.


Like many of my fellow blogger and author friends out there I read A LOT of books and I don't just read them but I love to discuss them. So when I read a book with that special extra something, that magic kernal that keeps me up into the wee hours of the night then I just want to shout it from the roof tops (aka twitter). Often that cry is met with a course of people saying how much they loved it too. But sometimes....sometimes my jumps and shouts are met with crickets or comments saying they'd never heard of book x before. 

So when Cyndi came up with the idea of the YA Scramble I thought that it would be a great chance to try and bring some of the lesser known YA books that I love into the spotlight.  So here is a list of my Top Ten Fifteen YA books that I've read over the last year or so that I still have trouble getting out of my head. These will be in alphabetical order as there is no possible way that I can rank the best of the bets on this list.
#1 Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson Genre: Contemporary I just finished listening to this one this very afternoon and ZOMG I am so in love with Amy & Roger. This book made me want to just shuck all my responsibilities and just drive across country in search of wonderful sites and food and people. This book is about feeling broken inside and the healing that comes with good friends and new experiences. Amy and Roger are both trying to get over painful things that have happened to them recently and while they start off as strangers its not long before a strong bond forms between the two.  The narrator, Suzy Jackson, did an amazing job of bringing all the voices together and I will definitely be searching out other books she's done.
#2 Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
Genre: Fantasy
Brightly Woven was a book that I was eager to get my hands on the moment I heard about it. Its a book of fantasy and that is one of my favorite genres and so was so happy when I received a copy for review. At first I found it a bit slow but it wasn't long before this became a book that I couldn't put down. The story is just so lyrical and the world so vivid and bright. I could close my eyes and see the surrounds just as clearly as if I was a character in the book. Sydelle and North - the two main characters - had such great personalities (and chemistry) that I loved their scenes together. There was a mystery and there was magic and there is so much potential for more books set in this world. I really hope that Bracken writes more with these great characters because one book just isn't enough! 
 #3 Clarity by Kim Harrington (as well as its sequel Perception)
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
If you were a fan of Veronica Mars and have missed that snarky sleuth then Clarity is the book for you. Clare is a psychic on cape cod and she gets sucked into a murder investigation. Because really, what else are you going to do on your summer vacation in a tourist town? This book was filled with so much goodness that I find it hard to describe. Clare is the sort of character that I want to be BFFs with and I love her quirky family. The mystery in this one kept me guessing and I love that.  Its sequel, Perception, is equally good and I think that fans of the love triangle set up in Clarity will be happy with how this one ends.
#4 Courtney Summers Genre: Contemporary (and soon - ZOMBIES)
OK...OK...I know that Courtney Summers is a person and now a book but I just couldn't pick one of hers to highlight. This is one author in which I'll buy and read EVERYTHING she writes and know that I'll love it. I also know that my emotions will be tossed through the wringer, the blender, shattered, and then maybe (if lucky) pieced back together again. Her books make me laugh, cry and keep me up into the wee hours of the morning because I can't stop turning the pages. Her characters and stories live on in my head long after the book is done. 
#5 The Demon's Lexicon Series by Sarah Rees Brennan
Genre: Paranormal
Do you want hot boys, wizards, demons, mystery and just an all around good time? Then look no further than Sarah Rees Brennan's Demon Lexicon Series. Set in contemporary London this series is filled with non-stop action and some of the wittiest lines ever written. Its not often that you laugh out loud during serious battle scenes but Brennan manages to make it happen. I especially loved when Nick and Jamie shared a scene and I couldn't get enough of those two. Each book is told from a different characters point of view and while I always had a hard time adjusting initially by the end I was totally in love. I was sad to see this series end...and if you know how series fatigued I am then you know that is saying a lot!
#6 Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda
Genre: Paranormal
Modern day knight's templars? check. Fast paced story? check. Kick ass heroine? check. A book that will leave you breathless? check. Pretty much anything you could ask for in a book this one has. There are parents...well a parent...and he's both involved and distant (its crazy but it works). There are hot boys and smart ass heroines. There is danger and adventure and beating the odds. Devil's Kiss starts off at full speed and just doesn't stop. Ever. Seriously, there isn't a slow moment to be had. This is another book that I listened to in the car and I made so many excuses to keep driving around because I wasn't ready to part from Billi's story. I really need to get my hands on book 2 ASAP....especially since I've heard that includes not just a hot Russian...but also the threat of a super volcano. Can it get any better than that?
#7 Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman
Genre: Fantasy
Eon is a book that is filled with so many issues....but not in a bad way. There is gender issues and identity issue and political intrigue and best of all....DRAGONS! This is one of those books that is hard to put into words as there is just so much goodness in it. Pretty much if you liked the Disney movie Mulan (also underrated) then you'll probably enjoy this book as well. I was so engrossed in this story and I am really looking forward to see where the story goes in its sequel. 
#8 Hold Still by Nina LaCour
Genre: Contremporary
How much did I love this book? Well let's just say that I live in the fine state of Massachusetts and when I learned that Nina LaCour was only doing signings in California I dropped everything and flew across country just to meet her. Yeah. The book was that good. Hold Still is a book about suffering a huge loss. Something bigger than you could imagine and then finding the courage and strength to move forward. Anyone who has ever lost someone should read this book. 
#9 The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell
Genre: Fantasy
OMG. I can't tell you just how much I enjoyed this book. Seriously there are no words. This is a book that I grabbed an ARC of during a local book event and was holding it up shouting at passerbys to buy when it was released. Campbell has created an amazing world that I just want to live in. The dialogue was filled of snark and great one liners that I found myself laughing out loud. I was skeptical of this book when I first heard about it, I mean superheroes...really? But I am so glad I picked it up because its one of my favorite books of the entire year! I really really really need more books involving Damian and his friends so go out and buy a copy for you and all your friends. You won't regret it!
#10 Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
Genre: Time Travel
Who wouldn't want to have a time traveling gene? Well, the main character of this book for one. But have it she does and due to a calculation error she has to quickly learn how to survive in a multitude of time periods without creating a paradox. Yeah....no pressure. As with all the others on this list it should come as no surprise that I loved this book. I really wish that I knew German so that I could import and read the next two books in this series because I'm dying to see what happens next. 
#11 Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt
Genre: Contemporary
This book just makes me go squee. I loved every word of it and really hated for it to end. Payton is such a quirky and endearing character and I loved all the others in this book as well. I loved how the disease that Payton's dad was suffering from wasn't cancer and I loved how her best friend Jaz did all she could to help distract and help Payton out. This was a quick read and one that I stayed up late reading. Its a wonderful story and one that I think everyone should read.  
 
#12 Silver Phoenix/Fury of the Phoenix by Cindy Pon
Genre: Fantasy
What a super duper wonderful series. I was hooked on these books right from the start and simply devoured them. I loved Ai Ling and Chen Yong....and heck even the big bad in the first book I ended up liking by the end of the second. Now that, my friends, is a gift of writing and characterization right there. The world that Pon creates is so rich and detailed that you'd swear it was real and you become a little sad when you realize that its not.
#13 The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Genre: Contemporary
Remember that time I said that I dropped everything to fly across country just to meet an author? No? Well, look above and refresh yourself. I probably should have mentioned then that LaCour wasn't the only author I wanted to meet, Jandy Nelson was another big part of that trip. I have no words with just how amazingly wonderful this book was. Again its about overcoming grief but its so much more than that. The prose of this novel is just so gorgeous that I could read this book 100 times and it will never get old.
#14 Skyship Academy: The Peal Wars by Nick James
Genre: Sci-Fi
There is a serious lack of science fiction in the YA world these days and Nick James does a great job in filling the void. I loved this book and had a hard time putting it down. There are some dystopian elements in this read that will appeal to those of that genre. And best of all there is an explanation for why the world has become what it has. I adore plausible explanations. I also adore books with dual points of view which this one also had. All in all this was a solid win and I can't wait until the sequel. 
#15 Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride
Genre: Contemporary
Tension of Opposites was such a sleeper book for me. I was so happy to have received an ARC of it but again I wasn't sure about the story. So imagine my surprise when I stayed up ALL night long in order read this book from cover to cover! This was done a night when I had to work the next day so I was so exhausted but it was worth the lack of sleep! Tessa is such a heart breaking character who becomes paralyzed after her best friend is kidnapped. They did everything together so Tessa finds it so hard to move forward when she doesn't know what happened to Noelle. When a miracle happens and Noelle returns Tessa then struggles with the memory of the girl she knew and getting to know the girl who returned. This book was brilliant and I can't recommend it enough.

Well, thanks for listening to my rambles....and to say thanks I am giving away a signed copy of Clarity by Kim Harrington and a signed ARC of Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon. To enter just fill out this form and leave a comment below with some of your favorite underrated YA titles.  


That's just what I'm giving away....be sure to check out all the blogs participating in the #YASCRAMBLE for a chance to win the grand prize....as well as see what others are saying about the YA genre and other unique blog prizes.  This is ONE DAY only--starts now & ends at 11:59 pm today! Open internationally. Check it out!




Here's what you can win in the Grand Prize:
  • ARC of The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab (with signed bookmark) 
  • Ebook of Soltice by PJ Hoover (with trading cards) 
  • Ebook of The Space Between by Alexandra Sokoloff 
  • Paperback copy of Perception by Heather Cashman 
  • Signed paperback ARC of Anathema by Kathleen Tucker 
  • Chronicles of Vladimir Tod Gift Set (Trade Paperback of Eighth Grade Bites, Vlad Journal, Minion Bling Buttons and Vlad Tote)
  • Signed paperback copy of Between by Cyndi Tefft 
  • Signed hardcover of Clarity by Kim Harrington 
  • ARC of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor 
  • Signed ARC of Fury by Elizabeth Miles 
  • Signed paperback of Linger by Maggie Stiefvater 
  • ARC of Tris & Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison 
  • Copy of The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney 
  • Winner's choice of 5 ebooks from a list of indie authors 
  • Signed paperback of Sleepers by Megg Jensen 
  • Ebooks of Soul Quest and The Guardian of Souls by Amy Jones 
  • Kindle copy of Winnemucca by Laura Elliott (plus a guest post spot on her blog!) 
  • Paperback copy of City of Bones by Cassandra Clare


9.13.2011

 Thanks to EVERYONE who participated in the SKYSHIP Tour. All the bloggers, all the people who entered and to Nick James. It was a lot of fun. As you know we collected coordinates, and the correct answer was:

36.93, -93.92

If you plug them into google, they lead to a little place in the US called Monett, MO. That is the secret location of our pearl.

Now, the winner of a supplemented copy of the book with an exclusive note from Nick, a Skyship diagram, and bonus material is....



 
KAREN

 If you didn't win, you can now order Skyship Academy: The Pearl Wars from these retailers: 

9.12.2011

Trapped by Michael Northrop




Publisher: Scholastic
Date:
February
Series or Standalone:
Standalone
ISBN:
Format: Hardcover, 240 pages
Source:
For Review
Cover thoughts: Fits story line very well

Rating: B
First line: We were the last kids waiting around to get picked up from Tattawa Regional High School.


Image by FlamingText.com


Scotty was one of the seven kids that was waiting to get picked up that day when the biggest blizzard they had ever seen started. Soon they all realize that nobody is coming. It really didn't seem so bad at first, spend the night at school and be rescued in the morning. But then the power goes out, there's no heat, the pipes freeze, the ceiling creaks, and each coming day the snow continues to pile up. They make a decision, one that is potentially deadly.

This situation that the kids are in is scary to think about, being trapped inside your school in a horrible snowstorm and freezing, and knowing that nobody knows where you are. It is horrifying. I don't know what I would do in the situation. Sit around and wait? Or go out in freezing temperatures and tons of snow and try to get help?

The question I kept asking was, where were the kids parents? Didn't they care that there kids were not home in a huge blizzard. They didn't know where they were after school, but knew that's the last place they were, wouldn't you want to go check to see if your kids were at the school? Or call the police?

None of the characters were really all that memorable to me. The plot was what made the story; it's not a cheerful one, it's depressing. When reading this book you feel like your trapped with these kids, not knowing what's going to happen to you. It's scary.

Trapped was frightening and suspenseful. It was a story I hope I never experience myself.



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