Thursday, September 30, 2010

Review: Eyes Like Stars

GoodReads Description: Enter Stage Right

All her world's a stage.
Beatrice Shakespeare Smith is not an actress, yet she lives in a theater.
She is not an orphan, but she has no parents.
She knows every part, but has no lines of her own.
Until now.

Welcome to the Théâtre Illuminata, where the characters of every place ever written can be found behind the curtain. They were born to play their parts, and are bound to the Théâtre by The Book—an ancient and magical tome of scripts. Bertie is not one of them, but they are her family—and she is about to lose them all and the only home she has ever known.

Lisa Mantchev has written a debut novel that is dramatic, romantic, and witty, with an irresistible and irreverent cast of characters who are sure to enchant the audience.

Open Curtain.

My Thoughts: All right, guys. I'm going to be honest with you. I hadn't the slightest idea what was going on for 75% of this book. It took me a few weeks to actually finish this. My eyes would glaze over sporadically and it turns out I had skimmed over several paragraphs, but none of it was absorbed. The ending is what redeemed this book, in my eyes.

What I do know is that I really enjoyed Bertie as a heroine. She owned sarcasm. I love heroines like that.

Damsel in distress? Nah.
Absence of backbone? Hardly.

She took no crap, period. You're an attractive dreamy fairy type? No thanks, she's good. Perhaps swooning on the inside, but she won't let you see it.

The constantly-present fairy companions, Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Mustardseed, and Moth, offered comedic relief and I'm looking forward to their four-way banter in the next book. Even though there was an extensive list of secondary characters within Eyes Like Stars, they were all quite distinct in personality. Ms. Mantchev did a wonderful job writing each and every character into their own.

And of course, the obligatory eligible bachelors.
1. Fairy Ariel, a manipulative, mysterious seductor (seducer?)
2. Pirate Nate, with the "arrrrgh" and the "aye, matey" and the desire to defend Bertie's honor til death or evil villains do them part.

I'm really not won over by either of them, but I can see how they'd both be appealing to poor confused Bertie. Who will she choose?! Oh, the suspense.

Her descriptive, atmospheric writing was beautiful, don't get me wrong, but it was almost too complex and confusing for me at times. I often complain that authors do too much "telling" instead of "showing." I never, in a million years, thought that I would complain of the complete opposite. I don't know whose fault it was that the majority of the magic of this book was lost on me, mine or Lisa Mantchev's. But a little explanation of how the crap everything worked would've been nice. I finally began to understand towards the end, once we found out what Bertie was capable of, what her talent was. "Began" being the operative word. I am still somewhat leery as to exactly what happened. I will definitely continue on to "Perchance to Dream" to see if I can get a little more clarification. Plus, there's a devil of a cliffhanger.

Though it dragged in the middle a bit, I will read on in this series.

Rating: 3/5

Series: Theatre Illuminata will be a trilogy. Book two, Perchance to Dream, was released in 2010. The conclusion, So Silver Bright, will be released in 2011.
Source: I purchased this book.
Published: Feiwel and Friends, 352 pages (July 7, 2009)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Review: Fallen by Lauren Kate

GoodReads Description:There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.

Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.

My Thoughts: I'm going to admit that despite the negative reviews, I bought this book based on the amazing cover. I read low-rated books with the hope that I'll discover something wonderful that everyone else missed. Such wasn't the case with Fallen.

Let me start out with the positives, because even though I gave this book two stars, there were some good things about it. The cover is absolutely gorgeous. Not to mention it's got this weird suede-like feeling that made me smile whenever I held it. I wanted so badly to believe that this book and I would be extremely happy together. All I wanted to do was walk around all day and keep running my fingers along the cover. But alas, the attraction was purely physical.

Kate also did a pretty bang-up job creating the atmosphere of Sword and Cross. I had no trouble at all imagining the gothic towers of the boarding school and the gloomy, overcast sky. And gargoyles. I don't 100% remember if there were gargoyles or not, but that makes ANYTHING more gothic.

And of course, there are the characters. That's where I was lost.

I did remotely like Arriane. Her character did was she could to redeem the plotline with her witty and borderline psychotic dialogue, but because she wasn't the forefront of the story, it wasn't enough.

I couldn't figure out Luce. I do not understand her TSTL tendencies. I cannot even PRETEND to fathom how a middle finger gets misinterpreted as a "come hither" finger curl. Daniel was boring and not even close to the intriguing character of Cam (at least towards the end.) There wasn't even enough interaction between Luce and Daniel to invoke possibilities of where Kate was taking the story within my head. If Luce and Daniel are supposed to have this epic love saga, why wasn't I emotionally attached to either of them? I couldn't find it in me to cheer for their relationship, because Daniel was kind of a douche bag to Luce. And she just took it.

The middle 250ish pages dragged and dragged and dragged. I felt like the drama reached a permanent plateau and would never fully climax. I was right, because the conclusion was lackluster as well as predictable.

That being said, I can't NOT finish a series, so I will read Torment because the end instilled some hope in me that the series will pick up and maybe I'll receive some further insight into Cam and his rivalry with Daniel (and because that cover's beautiful, too, and I judge books by their covers), but I will wait until it shows up at Half Price Books.

I do very much hope that this series can pull itself back together & the sequel details Luce's implantation of a backbone.

Rating: 2/5

Series: The second book, Torment, will be released September 28, 2010. There will be four books in the series altogether.
Source: I purchased this book.
Published: Delacorte Press, 452 pages (December 8, 2009)

Learn more about Lauren: Website | Twitter | GoodReads

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Sound of the Story: "Shade" by Jeri Smith-Ready

My love affair with music goes even farther back than even books.

Music makes everything better. Movies without a soundtrack or even a score would be boring. Car rides without music would suck. And I'm seriously thinking about hiring someone to follow me around with a boombox (oh yes) on their shoulder and play some awesome tunes at the appropriate times throughout my life. Nothing can heighten emotion like that perfect violin chord or a vocalist filled with so much passion for what they're singing or screaming, when it's called for.

So why the heck wouldn't we set books to music? I can't tell you how many times I've been reading a book that affected my emotions in some way or another and thought to myself, "(insert song name) describes this PERFECTLY."

So, since I love music and I love books, I thought I'd share some of those thoughts. Perhaps you'll agree or disagree, or maybe you'll even discover some new awesome music (I like to think my musical tastes are pretty B.A.)

So I was driving to work the other day and I had dug out Damien Rice's "O" album. I was feeling rather melancholy, going to work and all, and figured the soothing vocals of Damien and Lisa were precisely what the day called for. I came across a song that I tended to skip over for one reason or another, called "I Remember."

Holy crap.

I haven't read Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready since June, but the first time I listened to this song, the heartbreaking story of Aura and Logan's ill-fated relationship sprang to the front of my mind. The way that Lisa Hannigan's ethereal, longing vocals soar above the soft acoustic guitar and pull your heart out coincides perfectly with not only Aura's infatuation and love for aspiring musician Logan, but also conveys the deep loneliness she feels after his death.

I want you here tonight, I want you here
'Cause I can't believe what I found
I want you here tonight want you
'Cause nothing is taking me down
'Cept you, my love..

Reminds me of these quotes from the book:

"It was wrong to wish it, wrong to hope I'd ever see his smile again. I should've been praying for the passage of his soul... But I couldn't help it. I wanted Logan back, even in violet."

"A hole opened up inside me, so raw I had to curl up on my side away from his light...The hole gaped so big it seemed like I could crawl inside, let the darkness swallow all thoughts of the future that once stretched before us. We had lost forever."


Because even though Aura knows Logan is dead, she's aware that she still has the ability to see his ghost. And though letting go would be the right thing to do, the fact remains that she has access to him. Why would she let him go? Well, except for the fact that she can't touch or kiss him. Nothing is bringing her down but that.

"I Remember" happens to be a two part song. A couple minutes into the haunting melody, after Lisa breathe-whispers her last lyric, the chords change and Damien begins strumming a more unsettling, urgent guitar riff (I don't know if that's the right word for what it is. I love music, I don't play it :) I believe the disturbing, haunting instrumental paired with Damien's angry, tortured lyrics both accurately convey Logan's self-loathing toward the part he played in his unintentional death. Not to mention his jealousy over Aura's friendship with Zach. And his struggle to not become Shade.

God would forgive me
but I, I whip myself
Scorn, Scorn
I wanna hear
What you have to say about me
Hear if you're gonna live without me
Hear what you want
What the hell do you want?

Followed by a killer instrumental that (and I can't take credit for this phrase, I read it on youtube) is the "musical equivalent of a mental breakdown."

Seriously. Listen to this song. You may not agree with me, but you can't deny that this is serious musical passion.

Here is the link to stream it on Grooveshark.

And this is an unbelievable live version of "I Remember."

I don't know if any other bloggers have a similar feature. I haven't seen it, but then again it's impossible to follow every single blog out there. I'm sorry if I'm stepping on toes!

Please let me know what you think. If there's anything you particularly love, anything I could do differently. I'm just kind of winging it here, so the structure is a little crazy. I hope to do a little rearranging in the future to make it look cleaner :)

Happy reading & happy rockin' out.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

In My Mailbox (2)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie.

I had an awesome book week. I had a really, really difficult exam this past Tuesday for which I studied well over 20 hours over last weekend. Luckily, all of that hard word paid off and I did much better than expected! So, to celebrate my success, I rewarded myself with books.

From Amazon:
Sea by Heidi Kling
A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler
The Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert

From Half Price Books
The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Bought Jellicoe Road from Borders because I think it's a crime to not use their 33% off coupons that they send out a couple times a week!
Poison Study and Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder also from Borders because, again, 40% off coupon for two paperbacks.

I'm looking forward to seeing all the awesome books that everyone got this week! Have a good one :)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Review: Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel

GoodReads Description: Lenah Beaudonte is, in many ways, your average teen: the new girl at Wickham Boarding School, she struggles to fit in enough to survive and stand out enough to catch the eye of the golden-boy lacrosse captain. But Lenah also just happens to be a recovering five-hundred-year-old vampire queen. After centuries of terrorizing Europe, Lenah is able to realize the dream all vampires have -- to be human again. After performing a dangerous ritual to restore her humanity, Lenah entered a century-long hibernation, leaving behind the wicked coven she ruled over and the eternal love who has helped grant her deep-seated wish.

Until, that is, Lenah draws her first natural breath in centuries at Wickham and rediscovers a human life that bears little resemblance to the one she had known. As if suddenly becoming a teenager weren’t stressful enough, each passing hour brings Lenah closer to the moment when her abandoned coven will open the crypt where she should be sleeping and find her gone. As her borrowed days slip by, Lenah resolves to live her newfound life as fully as she can. But, to do so, she must answer ominous questions: Can an ex-vampire survive in an alien time and place? What can Lenah do to protect her new friends from the bloodthirsty menace about to descend upon them? And how is she ever going to pass her biology midterm?

My Thoughts: Going into Infinite Days, I was not expecting much. A couple of my friends on GoodReads had read this prior to me picking it up and hadn't had much good to say about it. Me, I like to read 3-star books and see if I can find something that others missed. Ultimately, they were pretty spot on.

I can't complain about the plot originality and bass-ackwardness of Infinite Days. A vampire turning human? STFU.

Lenah's story appealed to me because it consisted of about 90% here and now and 10% flashbacks. Flashbacks, FTW. Seriously. Lenah has been a bad, bad girl. Malicious, cold-hearted, apathetic. I, for one, loved it. I've grown tired of the run-of-the-mill stories where the vampires are striving for altruism and run away from their inner monster. Lenah was so bitter due to super old vamp Rhode stealing her away from her family, her orchard, and her humanity. She capitalized on her vampness.

Apparently, eternal maleficence wasn't in the cards, if you ask Lenah. She longed for mortality.

And that's where it all went downhill.

Lenah-as-human didn't strike as strong a chord with me as vamp!Lenah. Reading about her transition into human life was comical, at times (in the listening room, namely.) I also giggled when she had murderous thoughts about the mean girls, but that's not a nice thing to say. She met up with best guy friend, Tony, who falls in love with her. But of course, the heroine of a story can never go for the guy who is interesting, has depth, can participate in meaningful conversation, and is artistically gifted.

Nope. She falls for justinenos (he may as well not even have a first and last name, because readers are constantly reminded which Justin in the story she's talking about. And there are so many of them.) Much emphasis was put on his rebellious nature, but there wasn't much to back it up. He raced boats and smirked a lot. Rhode and Vicken ENDED LIVES. Lenah's point of view on rebellion is rather skewed, methinks.

Why must MCs be punished by falling in love with the wet noodle? Tony was awesome. Rhode was awesome. Heck, even Vicken had more spark and life than justinenos. The romance wasn't believable. It was too quick, "ILY" after a week, and I didn't feel the chemistry.

Regardless of choice of companion, Infinite Days was a compelling story. Rebecca Maizel can write, there's no doubt about that. She's a wonderful storyteller! I'm just sorry that she didn't spend more time on creating a more intriguing boyfriend. I will still read Stolen Nights in hope of getting some of my questions answered....and I really freaking want some more flashbacks to BAMF Lenah.

Rating: 3/5

Series: This is a planned trilogy. The second book, Stolen Nights, will be released in 2011.
Source: I purchased this book.
Published: St. Martin's Griffin, 310 pages (August 3, 2010.)

Learn More about Rebecca: Website | Twitter | GoodReads

Friday, September 24, 2010

Book Blogger Hop (2)

Book Blogger Hop is a meme hosted by Jennifer at Crazy For Books. Thanks, Jennifer, for hosting a great opportunity for new bloggers and established bloggers alike to get together and spread their love for books!

The question for this week is:

When you write reviews, do you write them as you are reading or wait until you have read the entire book?

My Answer: Ugh. I should write them as I'm reading. I actually get really great ideas while reading, but I never write them down. I've read other bloggers keep a review journal or even keep post-it notes in their books so that they'll remember specific quotes or passages that they enjoyed.

Yeah, I don't do that.

I'm an emotional reader and an impulsive writer, so if something leaves me with a post-bookie glow, I'll scramble to my computer and keysmash everything down in a draft or in GoodReads. If I'm pissed off about the monstrosity that I just read, I'll also want to unleash the fury on my poor keyboard. (I haven't decided if this is a good or a bad thing just yet.) But if something was just "meh," then I tend to put it off for a time. BAD REVIEWER!

Writing favorable reviews, oddly enough, is much more difficult. Now that I've gone off on every tangent possible... YES, I wait until I'm done reading the book (and sometimes several days after that.)

Looking forward to reading everyone's answers and discovering some new blog friends today.

Happy Reading, all!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Review: Need by Carrie Jones

GoodReads Description: Zara White suspects there's a freaky guy semi-stalking her. She's also obsessed with phobias. And it's true, she hasn't exactly been herself since her stepfather died. But exiling her to shivery Maine to live with her grandmother? That seems a bit extreme. The move is supposed to help her stay sane...but Zara's pretty sure her mom just can't deal with her right now.

She couldn't be more wrong. Turns out the semi-stalker is not a figment of Zara's overactive imagination. In fact, he's still following her, leaving behind an eerie trail of gold dust. There's something not right - not human - in this sleepy Maine town, and all signs point to Zara.

In this creepy, compelling breakout novel, Carrie Jones delivers romance, suspense, and a creature you never thought you'd have to fear.

My Thoughts: What a fun, quick read!

I thought the incorporation of Zara's slight obsessive-compulsiveness with the phobias was interesting. It really built her character and surprisingly gave her a personality. I hate it when heroines are introduced with no intriguing traits or hobbies, and we're expected to believe it when everyone lusts after her. THANK GOD Zara has some sort of distinguishing feature.

Zara is a very likable character. She has a good head on her shoulders, for the most part, and her quirkiness is refreshing. Too often are we presented with bland female leads with no real intrigue, but Zara realizes she's a complete weirdo and embraces it. Yes, please! Given her circumstance with losing her stepfather, I felt especially sad for her. I can't imagine going through what she did. Though it was evident that Zara was in near constant pain, she kept her chin up and kept on truckin'. I have to give props on the secondary character, too, who were very well developed, namely Devyn.

The villain was a little strange, though not unpredictable, especially when the whole "need" thing was brought into play. Creeptastic, truly.

There are definitely some cliche aspects to the book:
1. Awkward, clueless new girl in town moves in and the spunky friends are drawn to her, the hot guys get a crush on her, and all is well except for the beautiful bitchy girl that tries to make her life hell.
2. "Secret" supernatural beings, but that's perfectly acceptable.
3. Awkward, clueless girl finds out that nothing is as it seems and discovers she might be EXTRA-SPECIAL and not just awkward.
4. Special awkward, clueless girl ends up not-so-clueless and realizes she's an essential pawn in evil, diabolical plan.

But this book was so fun, I don't even care about any of that. Nick and Zara were a cute pairing and for ONCE there was no "I love you" 50 pages into the story, taking place 5 minutes after the hero/heroine first meet. Yay, Carrie Jones! You did it right!

Rating: 4/5

Series: The sequel, Captivate, came out January 5, 2010. The third book in the series, Entice, is set for release on December 7, 2010.
Source: I purchased this book.
Published: Bloomsbury USA, 306 pages (December 28, 2010)

Learn more about Carrie: Website | Twitter | GoodReads

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

10 Ways That Fall 2010 Will Break My Bank Account

The idea for this post was inspired by Kristi's Books to Pine For. I probably won't do this regularly. Maybe once a season.

When I think about buying books, I get butterflies in my stomach. I think of all the beautiful covers I'll get to stare at for hours on end. I think of flipping through the pages, getting hit with that new book smell. And I don't want to borrow them or check them out from the library and give them back after a few weeks. I want to OWN them. I get excited at the fact that my poor little bookshelf is going to snap and buckle and creak everytime anyone so much as walks past it, because the books I'm going to buy are going to fill every possible inch of shelf space. I'm okay with my bookshelf breaking because, frankly, it's too small for my liking and I wouldn't be opposed to something a little bigger. I literally dream about buying books.

My husband has accused me of being a book hoarder, because even though I have a TBR of well over 75 books on my shelves ALONE, I still continue to buy more. I'm not a book hoarder, but I aspire to be.

Please tell me I'm not alone in this.

And then I take a look at the bank account and consider my mortgage, the utility bills, my car payment, food, cat food, gas, Starbucks (nom nom chai lattes w/ soy), my husband's Michigan football obsession (GO BLUE!) and my book dreams that I've stacked up so high come a-tumbling down.

But whatever. I'm still going to find a way to get these books. And these are a few that will be released in Fall 2010 that I'm almost literally jumping out of my skin to have and hold, until I've had and held them so much that the pages fall out or the spine breaks. Amen.

1. Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead
December 7, 2010
Do I even need to explain myself at all? There is so much riding on this last book. I'd like to say that I will shed no tears, but I know that regardless of what happens, I will cry. This is one of my favorite series of all time and to know it's coming to an end is almost more than I can bear.

2. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

October 16, 2010
;lamiAOR :Q*Juigmeau !!!! Pardon the keysmash, but there isn't much I wouldn't do to get my hands on this book. I don't know how to express my excitement for this one. Reviews have been swirling about the blogosphere for a few months now (yes, I've been suffering that long) and I'm excited to say that this will be out in stores in less than a month! UNF. I'm not going to lie, peeps. I love werewolves. But I love this cover more than werewolves. Quite possibly the most beautiful cover I've seen this year.

3. Ghost Town by Rachel Caine
October 26, 2010
First, I must gripe that this is in hardcover, completely throwing off the uniformity of my other MV books. PISSED. Now that that's out of the way: MYRNIN. In the last book, we didn't get to see much of my favorite eclectic, fanged bunny slipper-wearing crazy vamp. I wore my sadface the whole time. But I'm hoping and praying to anyone who will listen that Myrnin will be back in full force in book niner.

4. Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
October 19, 2010
I know, I know. Patch is a total douchebag. But he sort of reminds me of Damon Salvatore from Vampire Diaries: he's belligerent, he's tactless, but he's also got a vulnerable side which makes him relatively om nom. Therefore, I want to read this book. Big time. And the cover is sexy time. Also, I'm hoping to get to know Nora better.

5. Pegasus by Robin McKinley
November 2, 2010
I am a cover slut and I'll be the first to admit that. But there's actually something more with Pegasus. I was that crazy little girl that loved My Little Ponies. I kept them all in a cardboard box. I dragged them everywhere I went and dumped them out daily to play with all of them. I'd brush their hair and make them fly. My favorite were the Flutter Ponies, which were pegasus horses with iridescent wings. This novel is about a girl and her pegasus. That, right there, tells you why I want to read this.

6. Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund
September 28, 2010
AGAIN with the ponies. Except unicorns were my second favorite. Here, the Little Ponies are the bad guy (THE HORROR.) I haven't read Rampant yet, but I've had it on my shelf for a long time and have been waiting until Ascendant's date creeped a little closer. That day has come, my friends. Rampant will be read in the next week.

7. Entice by Carrie Jones
December 7, 2010
I loved Need. Lurved, even. Captivate didn't so much do it for me. However, I'm invested in the series and need to read this to see if Carrie Jones makes it right. Zara is super fabulous. And could this cover get ANY hotter? I don't get the whole "blowing pixie dust" on the neck thing, but whatever. I love it anyway.

8. Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen
October 26, 2010
Ahoy, 20s flapper dresses. This book makes me think of glitz and glamour and 2003 senior year show choir, because we had to wear flapper dresses for several numbers. I kind of have an emotional attachment to them. At any rate, this book sounds fabulous and I cannot wait to read it. (Also, I saved this cover to my computer as BYT, which automatically makes me hum PYT by Michael Jackson. Score!)

9. Matched by Ally Condie
November 30, 2010
I'm borderline afraid to read this. There has been so much hype around the Interwebs that I feel obligated to love Matched. I've had bad experiences with hype before (Beautiful Creatures, sigh) so I'm afraid to want to read this. I'll probably end up buying it the day it comes out, but not reading it until sometime next year. But I have to own it. And the synopsis sounds really fudging good.

10. Tempestuous by Lesley Livingston
December 21, 2010

This is actually a Winter book, but it's released the day Winter begins, so it's cool. I'm dyyyyyying to find out what happens to Kelley and Sonny. I believe this is the last book in the series, so I must own it. Whoever created the covers and hired the cover model is an effing genius. This is EXACTLY how I would've pictured Kelley, you know, if the cover wasn't there to show me what she looked like already.

So those are the books that will inevitably summon me from my house with a wallet full of plastic. My husband will likely shake his head at me and make that tsk-ing noise that is cliche and everyone knows equals TRUBS, but he knows books make me happy. Happy wife = happy life! I'm looking forward to to strengthening my arm muscles whilst hauling these babies home.

What books are going to break YOUR bank this fall?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

GoodReads Description: "My name is Katniss Everdeen. Why am I not dead? I should be dead."

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans -- except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay -- no matter what the personal cost.

My Thoughts: I do not even know why I'm writing this.

Anything I type will be substantially inadequate and I'll never be able to point out everything that moved me about this book. But I'll try.

Everything about this book moved me. In a good way, in a bad way, but it doesn't matter. Because I felt it. All of it. And that is the reason I'm giving the book five stars, even if I don't agree with everything that happened. Because in my ending, I would've copped out. I couldn't sacrifice what Collins sacrificed. I couldn't burden Katniss with such heartache and tragedy. Suzanne Collins must be a masochist, because I don't see any other way you can write what she wrote without having some sort of breakdown.

The way that Collins can build up our love, connection, and excitement for a character and then rip them away is borderline sadistic. I won't mention names to avoid spoilerosity, but to create a whole environment and give hope and happiness for a future and then kill them off within a paragraph? I felt like I was run through with a sledgehammer a good 4 times in this book. I think I stopped breathing a few times within the last 100 pages. After the final parachute drop, there were points that I couldn't even really comprehend what had happened, because I didn't want to believe it. Because I have a person like that in my life, and if I ever lost them, I'd lose it, too. And the entire last 10 pages took me about 30 minutes to get through, because I kept shaking the bed with my sobs and I had to stop reading to regain composure before I woke my husband up at 3am.

Also. Crazy Cat.

Am I happy with this ending? No, because we've lost some seriously important and lovable characters. Because Katniss, no matter what she does, will always be damaged. That's not spoilery, because anyone who goes through the Games will be. Yes, because it's epic and it's not a pretty little bow and it's how things should happen. Nothing is easy. Nothing comes cheap. There are always sacrifices (ahem, Stephenie Meyer).

This is a most perfect and most horrible ending to the series. And I didn't pick up another book for days, because I couldn't think about anything else.

I loved it. I hated it. It was freaking epic.

(If you want to discuss further, I'm on GoodReads and have a whole bunch of spoilery-type blurbs on that review.)

My Rating: 5/5

Series?: The first two books were The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. Mockingjay concludes the Hunger Games trilogy (sadface)
Source: I purchased this book.
Published: Scholastic Press, 390 pages (August 24, 2010)

Learn more about Suzanne: Website | GoodReads | Buy Mockingjay

In My Mailbox (1)

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie.

So... I'm a little late on this, but I literally studied from 12pm until 10pm yesterday, so there was no time for any blog stuff. Plus I've been insanely busy with school/work/life in general, so I haven't even had the chance to buy any books this past week. SHAMEFUL. So I'm doing IMM for the last two-ish weeks.

I didn't actually get anything IN my mailbox, of course. I'm more of a "go to the store and buy it because I do love some instant gratification" kinda girl. And speaking of going to the store, my mom and sister came down to visit (they live about 300 miles from me) and it just happened to be on a weekend where Borders had a 40% off coupon. You'd better believe I made mom and sister sign up for Borders Rewards and gave them money to buy me books.
On multiple days.
From multiple Borders (apparently they don't have restrictions on this, according to the store clerk. )
Stroke of genius, I know.

Anyway, this is my loot:

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
Paranormalcy by Kierstin White
Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
Other by Karen Kincy
Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson

I realize a ton of these have been out for some time, but the bank account only goes so far! I'm looking forward to catching up with the rest of the world and reading these titles.

Looking forward to seeing what books everyone got this week!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Review: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

GoodReads Description: Weird as it is working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie's always thought of herself as normal. Sure, her best friend is a mermaid, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours, but still. Normal.

Only now paranormals are dying, and Evie's dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies. She soon realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths. Not only that, but she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.
My Thoughts: There was sooo much buzz and hype about Paranormalcy. I'm in the minority, here. I know. It saddens me because I really, really, REAAALLY tried to love this book. The storyline is fantastically original. The characters, for the most part, were multi-dimensional with distinguished personalities. Evie had an attitude, which I love, and her OMGBFF was a freaking mermaid who worked a switchboard or something. I never lost interest in the story, nor did I get bored. For some reason, it just fell short for me.

The Lovely

- The cover is beautiful. The cover model is a perfect fit for Evie. You can even see her silver eyes! I love the dress, though I can't help but wonder how difficult it'd be to bring down a werewolf or two in that dress.
- There is a seriously wide variety of paranormal creatures in this book, each type having their own special powers/abilities. Vamps, werewolves, fey, water nymphs, mermaids, hags, gnomes, trolls. Yay for a smorgasbord of paranormals!
- The idea behind the book is great. The International Paranormal Containment Agency hires Evie to track down unruly paranormals who threaten the unveiling of their existence, allowing her to tase them to the fullest extent of her desire.
- Evie is an especially special (heh) abnormal human who can see through paranormal creatures' glamours. She kicks serious butt and can take down a coven of vamps without a second thought.
- Evie's fascination with lockers was cute and funny.
- There were some really clever lines in this book. The interaction between Lend and Evie caused some near-LOLs.
- I loved Ms. White's writing style. Once I started reading, I couldn't stop. The story flowed smoothly and before I knew it, I was done with the book.

The Not-so-Lovely

- Evie got on my nerves sometimes. I found her cute at first. Ya know, she's a girl who doesn't get out much (read: ever) and she clings to whatever sense of normalcy available with every fiber of her being. She watches hip teen shows and wears zebra print dresses and pink stiletto boots. She has a right to be a little weird. But somewhere along the line, she just began to grind my gears and I would roll my eyes instead of smile. I can't get much more descriptive than that, really, because I don't know when, where, or why exactly she began to annoy me.
- Lackluster love interests. Reth was semi-appealing at first, until he uttered the a particular line from which I think I temporarily lost the sense of what genre of book I was reading, because with that line, it looked like a seriously trashy porn novel. I later found out it didn't mean what I thought it meant, but that line really threw me off. You'll know it when you read it. Lend was a sweet guy, but I didn't swoon. He shouldn't have bored me because he's the artsy, witty, nice guy who isn't quite normal and, like the heroine, is looking for somewhere to belong. But he just didn't do it for me.
- Pink taser with rhinestones: acceptable. Pink taser with rhinestones named "Tasey:" eh..
- The villain wasn't that scary.
- The ending was really, really strange. I hope to have questions answered in the next installment of the series.

This book may appeal to many people and apparently has. I'll definitely read the sequel, but my expectations won't be as high. Don't let this deter you, though. Practically everyone else who wrote a review on this story loved it. I liked it, for sure. I just wish I liked it a little bit more.

Rating: 3/5

Series?: The sequel, Supernaturally, will be published in the Fall of 2011. There will be three books in this series.
Source: I purchased this book.
Published: Harper Teen, 352 pages (August 31, 2010)

Learn more about Kiersten: Website | Twitter | GoodReads | Buy Paranormalcy

Friday, September 17, 2010

Book Blogger Hop!

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jennifer (yay for her awesome name!) over at Crazy For Books
Well, it is my very first Book Blogger Hop and I'm so excited to be participating in such a great event! My primary goal in blogging is to meet a bunch of awesome people who share the same stupid crazy love for YA that I do. A special thanks to Katelyn from Bookshelf Sophisticate , without whom I would've never found out about BBH! Everyone should check out her blog because a) she's incredibly sweet and b) her blog just plain rocks.

The theme for this week is : In honor of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, let's take time this week to honor our favorite book bloggers and why we love them!

I've been a book blog lurker for about a year now and I owe SO much to these book bloggers for helping me expand my TBR times a million.

1. Kristi from The Story Siren. Yes, I'm sure many of us have Kristi to thank for inspiring them to write a blog of their own. She's the very first blog I discovered, she is a complete goofball in her vlogs (which is awesome), and one more thing: Xander. Yet the girl devotes some serious effing time to blogging. She updates practically daily and has written countless blog advice posts (which I have bookmarked, athankya.) Not to mention she is very generous with her time to help new bloggers, despite the fact that she has her own blog and life to juggle. Even though I'm sure she's heard it more times than you can count: thanks, Kristi. You rock.

2. April from Good Books and Good Wine. Her reviews are well-thought out, intelligent, and she integrates a healthy dollop of snark into everything she writes like she's getting paid for it. I literally laugh out loud with most every review that April writes, plus she loves Varen from Nevermore. UNF. That, in itself, is reason enough for me to mention her. And seriously, who doesn't love a good glass of wine? Thank you, April, for being awesome. The effort you put into your blog and reviews, and your snarktasticism, does not go unappreciated in my book.

Some of the other blogs I've come to love more recently as a result of my compulsive lurking are as follows: The Bookshelf Sophisticate, Steph Su Reads, Persnickety Snark, The Page Flipper, and The Book Cellar. If you weren't fabulous, I wouldn't consistently read what you post :) You all have my utmost respect. I can only hope to be half the blogger you all are. Many, many months from now, of course.

Ahh, if I continue to go on, I'll run out of characters. Is that possible? So thanks to all of you that I mentioned, and even those I have yet to discover, for the quality reviews, awesome recommendations, and for giving me the motivation to empty my bank account a hundred times over so that I can fill my shelves with all the fabulous books out there.

I'm looking forward to participating in the Book Blogger Hop for many weeks, months, years to come and to meeting everyone else who wants to empty their bank accounts for the sake of books :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Review: Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

GoodReads Description: Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it’s not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but when you’re half human, half mermaid like Lily, there’s no such thing as a simple crush.

Lily’s mermaid identity is a secret that can’t get out, since she’s not just any mermaid – she’s a Thalassinian princess. When Lily found out three years ago that her mother was actually a human, she finally realized why she didn’t feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she’s been living on land and going to Seaview high school ever since, hoping to find where she truly belongs. Sure, land has its problems – like her obnoxious, biker boy neighbor Quince Fletcher – but it has that one major perk – Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren’t really the casual dating type – when they “bond,” it’s for life.

When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily-ever-after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.

My Thoughts:
It was a light, cute, fun book! The cover is obviously stunning. I love the greens and the blues. I'm not sure what she's supposed to be blowing out of her mouth, though. Is there something I missed in the book?

Anyway, we are presented with Lily Sanderson: half-mermaid, half-human. She's nothing spectacular with her blonde hair (yay!), pale-skin, and freckles. And she's got this really annoying (see: intriguing) neighborish boy, Quince, watching her every move. Naturally, he's in love with her and sees her for the beautiful mythical creature that she is, instead of the freak she assumes to be. But she has her eyes on superjock manslut Brody, with his abundance of luscious curls and hey, he swims like Michael Phelps. Lily is convinced that he will be her mermate in life, once she kisses him with her fishy bondage-wielding lips.

Lily is an okay heroine, but suffers from extreme lack of awareness. She's stubborn and naïve and insecure. I didn't love her, but she was tolerable.

Quince is my favorite character in the novel, though he comes off as quite the doormat. He's got some really cute lines though. Go Quince! Lily's obsession with Brody gets annoying and is rather unwarranted (as most high school crushes are), as there's no real chemistry between the two.

The world is enjoyable, but extremely similar to that of The Little Mermaid. Trident-wielding (I realize I've used this word twice) King? Check. Secret Grotto where the light from the world above shines in? Check. I liked it, though.

A solid effort from Tera Lynn Childs. There is a cliffhanger, and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing where this story goes in "Fins are Forever," due out next year.

Rating: 3.5/5

Series?: Fins are Forever, the sequel, is due out Summer 2011.
Source: I purchased this book.
Published: Katherine Tegan Books, 293 pages (June 1, 2010)

Learn More about Tera Lynn: Website | Twitter | GoodReads | Buy Forgive My Fins

Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

GoodReads Description:
Meghan Chase has never fit in at her small-town high school, and now, on the eve of her 16th birthday, she discovers why. When her half brother is kidnapped, Meghan is drawn into a fantastical world she never imagined--the world of Faery, where anything you see may try to eat you, and Meghan is the daughter of the summer faery king. Now she will journey into the depths of Faery to face an unknown enemy . . . and beg the help of a winter prince who might as soon kill her as let her touch his icy heart. The Iron King is the book one in the Iron Fey series.

My Thoughts: The Iron King is a breath of fresh, addicting, crack-like air. In recent memory, I can't recall a book that has literally made me forget who I am and what I'm doing. I feel like I body-snatched Meghan Chase and was in her shoes for the whole 370ish pages.

I felt her worry for her brother, Ethan.

I felt her confusion and frustration in Nevernever when finding out her secret.

I felt her fear and determination when pursuing the Iron King.

I longed for Ash's and Meghan's interaction, because, let's face it: DELICIOUS.

There are so many things I loved about this novel (LOOK at that COVER. And extra yay for a blonde heroine!), and seeing as I'm feeling most comfortable with list form today, here goes:

1. I've never read A Midsummer Night's Dream, but I've read a few novels which incorporate the characters from said play. I've begun to familiarize myself with the characters: Puck, Oberon, Titania, Mab. This is my favorite version of those characters. Puck was playful and cute and I had a little crush on him, regardless of the awkwardness he possessed in the human world. Because in the Nevernever, he was a cunning warrior, light on his feet, and well-practiced in the magic he possessed. Swoonage.

2. GRIMALKIN. Best. Book Cat. Ever. I now like to pretend that when my cats sneeze, they are laughing at me, and hope that someday they'll address me as "human," because Grim was just that freaking cool. It was a constant battle in my mind: "is he a good guy? Isn't he?"

3. My favorite Nevernever secondary (or perhaps tertiary) creatures are the Pack Rats. I could actually hear them chittering amongst themselves and poking around through piles of scrap metal. I hope we see much more of them in future books, because they spoke volumes without actually uttering any words. Definitely a fan!

4. Julie Kagawa is a master of attention to detail. Her descriptive writing and her way with words were a paintbrush in my mind. I could picture clearly EVERY single character, setting, fortress. It was beautiful and I cannot believe this is a debut novel. She's become an auto-buy and I will read anything that she publishes... or even writes on a napkin and throws away. Plus she lives in the same region that I do, and that is awesome :)

5. Ash. I can't even put into words my love for Ash. He's dangerous. His job is to bring Meghan to Mab, something that cannot end well. He is forbidden to love her, but he does. Ash is a smooth talker and a B.A.M.F. (look it up.) He's got skills with swords and is the son of a huge beotch of an Unseelie Queen. Every breath breathed in Meghan's direction caused butterflies in my stomach. Everytime he looked at her, I got giddy and hoped this would be the moment they'd kiss.

I loved this book and it's one of the most memorable of 2010. The Iron Daughter came out August 1, 2010, which just so happens to be my wedding anniversary. Ah, it's love. And it's meant to be. I'm DYING for more of this world. Now I just need the Iron Queen.


Rating: 5/5

Series?: The second book, The Iron Daughter, came out August 1, 2010. The conclusion to the series, The Iron Queen, will be released February 1, 2011.
Source: I purchasd this book.
Published: Harlequin Teen, 360 pages (February 1, 2010)

Learn more about Julie: Website | Twitter | GoodReads | Buy The Iron King

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Review: Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus

GoodReads Description: His love captivated her... his secrets might kill her.

Since her sister’s mysterious death, Persephone “Phe” Archer has been plagued by a series of disturbing dreams. Determined to find out what happened to her sister, Phe enrolls at Devenish Prep in Shadow Hills, Massachusetts—the subject of her sister’s final diary entry.

After stepping on campus, Phe immediately realizes that there’s something different about this place—an unexplained epidemic that decimated the town in the 1700s, an ancient and creepy cemetery, and gorgeous boy Zach—and somehow she’s connected to it all.

But the more questions she asks and the deeper she digs, the more entangled Phe becomes in the haunting past of Shadow Hills. Finding what links her to this town…might cost her her life.

My Thoughts: This is a seriously solid debut from a seriously fabulous author. From the moment I picked this book up to the very last page, I was captivated. When I was reading this one, I felt an overall sense of impending doom, dread, and discomfort, which is pretty awesome. It speaks volumes of an author that can instill that kind of emotion in you.

I really enjoyed the characters as well. Phe is very much her own person, not easily influenced by others. Her snark is top-notch, she doesn't back down from a challenge - be it physical or verbal - and she wasn't too bad in the mushy love department, as there were no "I love you's" spoken, unless I missed it. She does make some TSTL moves throughout the book, but what YA romance would be complete without a white knight to do the saving? I'm totally cool with this in fiction. If it happened in real life, I'd get annoyed for sure. But for the story's sake, let the girl be rescued sometimes. Phe is not a total vajayjay, and that makes me happy.

Which brings us to Zach. I think Zach's a very sweet love interest. He's caring, gentle, honest. I dig that in a guy. And of course, there's his paranormal TOP SEKRIT!! that may potentially kill Phe.

Again, this has become a staple in YA fiction.
Again, I'm okay with it.
As long as the storyline is unique.

Which brings me to the storyline... holy canoly. I can honestly say that for about the first 50% of the book, I had no effing idea what to expect. NONE. No werewolves, no vamps, no fey, and (essentially) no witches. WTF? This doesn't happen! Even the end, I didn't see that coming. And furthermore, I sympathized with the villain. I felt awful for them, because even though what they were doing was morally wrong, there was good intention. But we all know what is said about good intentions....

The atmosphere of this book was dark and foreboding. There were multiple times when I was lying in bed, reading only via booklight, and Hopcus would describe one of Phe's dream sequences or *cringe* Damon Gates, and I'd literally have to close the book for a second to get the mental image out of my head. It was that freaking creepy. Not to mention something kept hitting my window to add to the all-around dread.

(mild spoilers below, though they don't give away any major plot points.)

Thank you, Anastasia Hopcus, for bringing such a refreshing story to the world of YA. I loved this book. I stayed up quite late last night to finish it, and I am dying for more. I still have so many unanswered questions. What will happen with Zach and Phe? What will happen with Trent? What was his deal in the first place? DAMON (I picture him to look like Hugh Crain from "The Haunting." Maybe that's why he's so scary to me.) What really happened to Athena? What other role does Rebekah play? WTF is up with creepy Sarah with her dragging leg a la the old guy's dog in Family Guy? What about the epidemic!? What extent of power EXACTLY does Phe possess?!?!? What does it all MEAN?!!?!


Halfway through, I googled the Shadow Hills series and Ms. Hopcus did say, albeit unofficially, that she is working on book two and if she had it her way, she'd have a series of six (maybe it was four.) Whatever, I NEED MORE!!!!

Rating: 4/5

Nothing confirmed yet.
Source: I purchased this book.
Published: Egmont USA, 400 pages (July 13, 2010)

Learn more about Anastasia: Website | Twitter | GoodReads | Buy Shadow Hills

Monday, September 13, 2010

Review: Other by Karen Kincy

GoodReads Description:
Seventeen-year-old Gwen hides a dangerous secret: she’s Other. Half-pooka, to be exact, thanks to the father she never met. Most Americans don’t exactly roll out the welcome mat for Others, especially not the small-town folks of Klikamuks, Washington. As if this isn’t bad enough, Gwen’s on the brink of revealing her true identity to her long-time boyfriend, Zack, but she’s scared he’ll lump her with the likes of bloodthirsty vampires and feral werewolves.

When a pack of werewolves chooses the national forest behind Gwen’s home as their new territory, the tensions in Klikamuks escalate-into murder. It soon becomes clear a serial killer is methodically slaying Others. The police turn a blind eye, leaving Gwen to find the killer before the killer finds her. As she hunts for clues, she uncovers more Others living nearby than she ever expected. Like Tavian, a sexy Japanese fox-spirit who rivals Zack and challenges her to embrace her Otherness. Gwen must struggle with her own conflicted identity, learn who she can trust, and-most importantly-stay alive.

My Thoughts:

Other was not a bad read by any means. The world-building was wonderful and my book-tuitive bells were sounding. The idea that you could be a natural born Other or a bloodborn Other, "infected" by either bite or sexual contact. That's right. You could become an Other in the same way you get nasties in the no-no. I found that pretty creative.

Other contains a wide variety of species. Vampires, were-creatures, centaurs (non-chalant supermarket shoppers), kitsune, dryads, and pookas, as Gwen was. I'm very interested to find out more the different kinds of Others there are in Kincy's world.

Then we have Gwen. Oh, Gwen. I loved her. Sure she had her crybaby moments, but when you have a festering secret that your parents discourage you from sharing, you have no friends except for your boyfriend, who doesn't know your dirty little secret and may potentially judge you for it, you may tend to get a little emotional. Gwen was not perky. She was dry, sarcastic, and over-analytical about everything. I really freaking enjoyed that about her. I sympathized with her. When she was itching to give into her pooka side, but trying as hard as she could not to shift (despite how much it hurt), I felt bad for her.

Other had a decent plot. It took awhile to reach the climax, due to world-building and various complicated (and heartbreaking, at times) love interest scenes. I love the interaction between Tavian and Gwen. I also love that Gwen had a blog, in order to anonymously vent about her half-pooka circumstances. I'm sure some of us can related to that with YA book blogging! Mostly, this story was about Gwen gaining acceptance and becoming comfortable in her skin. I'm okay with that! But I do have one gripe: not all religious folk are closed-minded, judgment-wielding hatemongers. Other than that, this book was shockingly good, given the mixed reviews I'd read. Yay for surprises!

I am absolutely looking forward to further development of Kincy's world in the second book in this planned series, Bloodborn. Not to mention my kitteh, Bo, found Other to be delightful. Contrary to what Ms. Kincy thinks, he did NOT fall asleep because it was boring!

Rating: 3.5/5

Series?: The second and third books, Bloodborn and Foxfire, are slated to be out in 2011 and Fall 2012 respectively. Subject to change, of course.
Source: I purchased this book.
Published: Flux, 336 pages, (July 1, 2010)

Learn more about Karen: Website | Twitter | GoodReads | Buy Other

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This particular meme is hosted by book blogger Sheila at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books.

My reading endeavors this week are as follows!

I Finished:
Other by Karen Kincy(I do have a review written for this.)
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White (I also have a review written for this.)
13 to Life by Shannon Delany (except that this was a DNF for me. Sadface. I got 100 pages in and unfortunately my interest wasn't held.)

I'm Currently Reading:
Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev (which I've been reading for awhile now. Hoping to finish it sometime this week.)
The Owl Keeper by Christine Brodien-Jones
Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel

I'm Planning to Read This Week:
Hopefully finish at least two of the books that I'm currently reading.
Foundations of Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing by Elizabeth Varcarolis (booooooo.)

It's going to be a relatively slow week for me, because I've got an exam next Tuesday and unfortunately I haven't devised a way to implant a recording device into my brain so that I can record lectures and stealthily replay them during tests. Yet.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Review: Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

Goodreads Description: Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due—so unfair—on the day of the rival game. Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he’d rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can’t help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look.

Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.

As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind. Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares.

His life depends on it.

My Thoughts:
Disclaimer: This review will contain badly-structured paragraphs and thoughts that are erratic and have nothing to do with one another, other than the absolute incoherant fangirlness I'm experiencing at this time.

From the first time I laid my eyes on this book sometime in 2009, when Amazon recommended I check it out, I knew this would be a special relationship. The blacks and the purples and the guy on the cover with his brooding stare. I didn't even know what this book was about and I needed it. Then I found out the story was heavily influenced by Poe. *dies* I've been intrigued by Poe since I was 10. My parents bought me the complete works for Christmas, at my request, and I loved it. I couldn't understand most of it, but that's okay. I knew what I liked. And the macabre was definitely something I liked.

So in this story, we have Poe lore. We have a story involving the mystery that is Poe. We have a story incorporating the mysteries written by Poe. We have the macabre. We have some SERIOUS tension, anticipation, and one of the most heartfelt romances between yummy, brooding Varen and sharp-witted Isobel. We have a sexalicious cover. All of this equals a 540ish page piece of YA awesomeness.

This story was not long enough. I did not feel at all that it was 540 pages. Never once did I get bored. The way that the romance between polar opposites Varen Nethers and Isobel Lanley was slowly and realistically crafted seriously almost made my heart burst with butterflies. I hate to say it, but I've not felt this much anticipation and sexual tension between two characters since Twilight. Do not let that steer you away, anti-Twilight people. I can't even count how many times I was internally doing backflips because I thought, "this is it. They're going to kiss and make out and be in love forever and ever because Varen is perfect and I heart him." Only to have that hope snatched away by some unforeseen circumstance or another. If this book wasn't so pretty and I didn't love everything about it so much, I would've crossed out some words and improvised a little making out every single paragraph. But I'm not an author, and with good reason.

Anyway, Varen. Oh, Varen. What can I say about you that would possibly describe you the way you deserve? Who would've thought a Goth boy could be so enticing? I will say that he is in my top 3 true book loves, though. That's kind of serious. I think the best way to describe the way I feel about him is this: I can has?

Isobel was a peppy little spitfire. She was snarky and had quite a temper, which I love. She's not afraid to go against the grain of her stupid popular friends. Speaking of stupid popular friends, I hated Brad. HATED HIM. He's the epitome of douche bag. Read this book and I guarantee you will agree with me. Then there are the Nocs, who will probably haunt my nightmares for coming weeks. Pinfeathers was especially creepy. And yet I still felt a pinch of enjoyment whenever I read his name. Very intriguing characters! And to put Reynolds in the story, after knowing the story about Poe calling for "Reynolds" on his death bed, just adds a whole different level of excitement for me. And Gwen. I want a Gwen for myself. She's like the never-shut-up, tactless, overly inquisitive, "OMG take your Adderall" version of Alice Cullen. She has some of the best lines in the book, which I will go back and re-read plenty of times when I need a laugh.

Kelly Creagh has done a wonderful thing with this novel. By far one of my top 5 for 2010. I want to read it all over again to make sure I didn't miss anything, which I'm sure I did. I love this novel. I might want to marry it.

Please, for the sake of humanity. Go buy this book. I don't care how and I don't care where. Just do it. You won't be disappointed. Except for the fact that there's an extremely painful cliffhanger and there's been no confirmation of the release date for following books. Another source of potential nightmares for months to come :( PLEASE, KELLY CREAGH. I know it's only a day after the release, but I'm dying here and I need more Varen!!

Rating: 5/5

Series?: This is the first in a planned trilogy.
Source: I purchased this book.
Published: Athenium, 528 pages (August 31, 2010)

Learn more about Kelly: Website | Twitter | GoodReads | Buy Nevermore

Introduction (or "The Story of My Return to Literary Paradise")

My name is Jen and this is my shoddy attempt at a book blog.

I suppose I should begin by expressing my purpose behind said blog. I've been an avid YA reader since a series of vampire novels (which shall remain nameless, thank you) stole my heart back in November 2008 and reignited my passion for reading. My page-turning days were long since neglected, unless you count various tabloids, and I couldn't be more grateful for the return of my desire to devour as many books as possible.

Over the past two years, my constant craving for books has remained relatively concealed from the rest of the world. Other than one or two friends, to whom I gushed over the complexities of my favorite reading material, my literary outlet was limited. I had so much book love to spread, but no one wanted to listen (unless you count my husband, who didn't quite actively participate in the conversation, aside from a nod or grunt when I asked him if he heard me.) Earlier this year, I discovered something that enhanced my reading experience tenfold: the book blog.

I have always loved to write, though the quality is questionable at best.
I have always loved to read, though the material was less than intellectually stimulating for a decade or so.
I have always looked for a way to share the love for whatever I find interesting.
Obviously, a book blog would be the way to go.

So, after spending the last several months sharing my thoughts and feelings on GoodReads, I think I'm finally semi-prepared to take on this book blog thing.



Only time will tell.

I don't write well-structured reviews, nor do they have much rhyme or reason to them. I can guarantee there will be a lot of squeeing or maybe some nagging or griping, depending on my feelings for the books I read. I try to incorporate a degree of humor and wit into my reviews, but I can't promise that I'll make you laugh. I'm just looking forward ranting and raving in my own little personalized corner of the Interwebs, not to mention hopefully meeting a bunch of people who share my love for books. Plain and simple.

- Jen

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Contest/Privacy Policy

Since everyone loves to win, I happily host giveaways for my readers! I do have a few general guidelines, as follows:

1. All entrants must be 13 years of age or older (honor system here, guys.)
2. I will notify the winner(s) via e-mail, as well as announce them in a blog post.
3. I will contact you via e-mail for your mailing address. Please do not post it publicly.
4. I am not responsible for lost items.
5. I reserve the right to disqualify any entrant at my personal discretion.
6. I will send out prizes within 14 business days (this does not include weekends) of the end of contest.

And to put your mind at ease:

1. I neither collect nor distribute personal information.
2. Emails, last names will not be posted on the blog. I encourage you to use a unique alias for when I post the winner announcement on the blog.

Please avoid publicly using highly identifiable information on the site (e.g. last names, addresses, telephone numbers, social security numbers, etc.) for your own personal safety, as I have no control over who views public information on the site. This does not include contest forms.

Though my blog is relatively clean, I would suggest an age of 13+ to view the content.

Other than that, I hope you enjoy your time at Makeshift Bookmark :)

updated: March 11, 2011

Review Policy

I will gladly accept requests from authors, publishers, and publicists to read and review most any contemporary, fantasy, and paranormal YA book. I will accept ARCs and/or finished copies of books. (No e-books, please.) I am also willing to hold author interviews and guest posts, as well as participate in blog tours.

I am extremely passionate about reading and will provide honest, constructive reviews of books. I tend to be an emotional reader, so I review in first-person, because that allows me to convey the full extent of my enthusiasm. I like to incorporate humor into the review, whether positive or not-so-positive, as well. I post reviews on both my blog as well as GoodReads. If I find myself unable to finish a book due to lack of interest, I will not post a review because I feel it's unfair to post a review without reading a book in its entirety.

I do have a full-time job, as well as being a full-time student, but I make time for my blog. I spend several hours per week on my blog and try to post at least once for every day in the month.

Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns. I can be reached at MakeshiftBookmark (at) gmail (dot) com, and return most emails within 24 hours.

Thank you for your interest!