Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My Thoughts: Slide by Jill Hathaway

Published: Balzer + Bray (3/27/12)
Pages: 256
Format: Hardcover
Series: Book #1
Source: NetGalley/publisher
GR Summary: Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth—her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself. She was murdered.

Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else’s mind and experiences the world through that person’s eyes. She’s slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed “friend” when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie’s slashed body.

Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting off lately, more distant, especially now that she’s been spending more time with Zane.

Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.

My Thoughts: Oh man. I called that ending halfway through the book. I really wanted this book to be a compelling murder mystery with at least a tiny shred of thrilling romance. So many things fell flat for me, but here are the big three:

1. Predictability. I knew who was guilty from midway through, like I said. The clues were so obvious. There were some characters thrown in to try and divert the attention away from the perpetrator, but either I'm the world's most brilliant detective or something wasn't done right.

2. I have more questions than answers. What exactly IS "sliding?" Why does it happen? What's the backstory? Why does it just so happen that Vee can slide at the EXACT moment that is required to solve her mystery? (HOW LUCKY! But seriously, no one is THAT lucky.)

3. Complete disconnection. I could not at all connect with Vee. I don't know a thing about her, other than she has a sister and a father and a best friend Rollins. She likes astronomy and she slides. I wanted so badly to know her, but I feel like she's more like an acquaintance that I say "hey, thank God it's Friday, right?!" to every week at work, rather than someone whose head I just spent 256 pages in.

That being said, this book did have promise. I thought the idea of sliding was brilliant. I just wish I understood WHY things happened. It was all tell, no show. The mystery (before I cracked the case) was rather exciting and I couldn't wait to find out whodunnit. This book, I'm sure, will keep some people's hearts pounding up through the end, but this won't be one I'd recommend for anyone who is looking for some serious mindfudgery.

EDIT: Since writing this review, I've done a little research and this apparently will be a series. Hopefully that will provide more insight to the entire concept of "sliding." I still don't feel compelled to invest myself further into this story, but for those of you who are on the fence, perhaps this will give you a little hope for closure.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

In My Mailbox (49)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. Go link up and share your books this week!

For Review
Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
Of Poseidon by Anna Banks
Faery Tales & Nightmares by Melissa Marr (I'm giving away personalized, finished copies of this as well as A Beautiful Evil by Kelly Keaton. ENTER HERE!)
A Touch Morbid by Leah Clifford (I've already reviewed the ARC. Read it here!)

 Those last two showed up and completely surprised me. I can't even begin to explain how grateful I am to both Harper Teen and MacMillan Books!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My Audiobook Thoughts: Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Published: HMH Books
Format: Audiobook
Series: Book #1
Source: Brilliance Audio
GR Summary: Tamsin Greene comes from a long line of witches, and she was supposed to be one of the most Talented among them. But Tamsin's magic never showed up. Now seventeen, Tamsin attends boarding school in Manhattan, far from her family. But when a handsome young professor mistakes her for her very Talented sister, Tamsin agrees to find a lost family heirloom for him. The searchspellbinding display of storytelling that will exhilarate, enthrall, and thoroughly enchant. 
 My Thoughts: Guys, I'm chuckling right now because I still cannot get over the fact that audiobooks allow me to READ AND DRIVE at the same time. I now don't dread the 40-minute-one-way commute to work! And the fact that Once a Witch is totally badass was pretty cool, too.

Tamsin is a troubled child. Can you imagine? Being in a family of witches with all these awesome talents? And you're supposed to be THE CHOSEN ONE, but then your talent just skips out on you? And having a beautiful, powerful sister and feeling like you're constantly in her shadow? For real, Tamsin is the Ashlee Simpson of the witching world (I know the Simpson sisters aren't exactly relevant anymore. But I still fondly reminisce on the pop takeover of the early 2000s.) But as we all know, Ashlee Simpson was way more awesome than Jessica. YES, even with the SNL ho-down lip-synching. The same goes for Tamsin. If you looked up "wry" in the dictionary, there you'd find Tamsin. That, in itself, is a talent. Not to mention the book was narrated by the awesome Hannah Friedman, who played a big hand in bringing all these personalities to life. (Her old lady voice was creepy, but old witches tend to be creepy, no?)

 Tam definitely got in a bit over her head when she lied to hot Scottish NYU professor, saying that she was older, beautiful, more talented sister, Jessica Rowena, and that she could help him. Honestly, I thought there was going to be a romance between of two of them and got a little nervous, because THAT IS SCANDALOUS, Carolyn McCullough. Tamsin is a teenager! (But I didn't feel bad for mentally asking Alistair "how YOU doin?") Good thing actual love interest (and more similar in age) Gabriel more than made up for my disappointment that there wouldn't be any Scottish swooning.

 With the stellar narration that brought a whole new dynamic to the story and a worthwhile plot with twist after twist, Once a Witch was ridiculously entertaining. If you choose the book, I can guarantee you a fast read. But if you decide to go with the audiobook, you won't be disappointed or bored in the slightest. You don't even have to LIKE witches to like this book, but it might just make a fan out of you.

And in honor of Tamsin, here's an Ashlee song, Love Me For Me. (Because that's all any of us really want, right?)

credit to hotpolishgermangirl on youtube

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Win Faerie Tales & Nightmares AND A Beautiful Evil. PERSONALIZED.

You guys. Holy crap. If I could enter my own giveaway, you bet your sweet arse that I would. But unfortunately I can't. So I'm going to cry myself to sleep tonight while I offer you a chance to win two exceedingly amazing books. Badass author extraordinaires Melissa Marr and Kelly Keaton want to not only give you their books, but also write your name in them. JEALOUS.

Faery Tales and Nightmares by Melissa Marr
Published: February 21, 2012
Dangerous promises and beguiling threats swirl together in a dozen stories of enchantments dark and light by New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr. Uncanny and unexpected creatures appear from behind bushes, rise from beneath the seas, or manifest from seasonal storms to pursue the objects of their attention—with amorous or sinister intent—relentlessly.
From the gentle tones of a storyteller’s cadences to the terror of a blood sacrifice, tales of favorite characters from Marr’s Wicked Lovely novels mix with accounts of new characters for readers to fall in love with...or to fear.
Lush, seductive, and chilling, Melissa Marr’s stories revel in the unseen magic that infuses the world as we know it.

A Beautiful Evil by Kelly Keaton
Published: February 21, 2012
Myth and mayhem inhabit a richly reimagined New Orleans in this sequel to Darkness Becomes Her. After the epic graveyard battle at the end of Darkness Becomes Her, Ari and her friends know what they’re up against: Ari is facing the Medusa curse and is haunted by the image of what she will become. To make matters worse, the heinous goddess Athena has kidnapped young Violet and is threatening to destroy Ari.
Ari, along with the superhot Sebastian, is doing everything she can to learn more about Athena and to get Violet back. But the battle of good and evil is bigger than she realizes, and she’s about to be pulled into a world more horrific than she could ever imagine.

Monday, February 13, 2012

My Thoughts: All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

Published: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (9/6/11)
Pages: 354
Format: Hardcover
Series: Birthright #1
Source: won during Armchair BEA
GR Summary: In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.

My Thoughts: First off, I love the name Anya, so I instantly connected with the character on a completely superficial level. Luckily, she was audacious and spunky enough to back up her awesome name. Secondly, living in a world without chocolate and ESPECIALLY coffee is a world I wouldn't want to live in. And if I had no choice, I'd break the law all the time, assaulting fools for some coffee. I sympathized with the addicts and supported the mafiya.

This book did not disappoint me in any way. It wasn't action-packed or guns a-blazin' or collecting-thumbs-to-get-my-money, but it had just the right amount of subtle suspense to keep me satisfied. I thought Anya's ex-boyfriend was a complete tool, so I'm glad the romance redeemed itself. New love interest, Win (aka Goodwin), was all kinds of cute and fun and sweet and I had a total crush on this couple. And then there's the fact that Anya's a mafiya daughter and Win's daddy is the D.A. Starcrossed lovers. WORD.

OH. And three cheers for the awesome best friend. I think I liked her more than Anya. Not to mention a seriously sad backstory involving Anya's family that makes me want to hug mine tight.

Though the word "dystopia" usually makes me think of cyborgs and bionic arms and technology beyond my wildest imagination, All These Things I've Done is a pretty interesting addition to the genre. It's not so different from the world we know today, except no caffeine or paper and the showers are like 5 milliseconds long and freezing because there's a water ration. Not a fate I'd wish upon anyone, but it was fun to read about.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

In My Mailbox (48)

IMM is hosted by Kristi, aka The Story Siren. This probably goes without saying by now, but you can share the awesome bookish love by showing us what you received this week. And it doesn't just have to be review books. If that was the case, my IMM would be EMPTY 95% of the time. This is the opportunity to show the books you paid cold hard cash for, too. Not to mention library books, borrowed books, books you found on the street, gifted books. YOU NAME IT.

In other news, I definitely took my nursing boards this week, also known as NCLEX. National Certification Licensure Examination. Or some variation of that. Well, you can get anywhere from 75 to 265 questions on this exam and are audio and videotaped throughout the entire process. It's SRS BSNS. Unlucky me got 193 questions, so naturally I was freaking out. Moral of the story: complain about nursing school incessantly for two years while working your butt off and chronicling everything on every possible social media site and YOU WILL PASS YOUR BOARDS. Finally no more obstacles.

Moving on:

This week is deemed: Other Bloggers are Generous as SHIZZ. Because they are.

From Lynn at Bringing the Epic
Start Me Up by Victoria Dahl
Lead Me On by Victoria Dahl
Fracture by Megan Miranda
Lynn has been raving about Victoria Dahl for quite some time now. I simply must see what all the fuss is about.

From Melanie at Reclusive Bibliophile
Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar
Blood Song by Rhiannon Hart
In Too Deep by Amanda Grace
And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky
Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer

Thank you so much, ladies, for making my week AMAZING. And for stuffing my mailbox full of awesomeness. LOVE YOU BOTH!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My Thoughts: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Published: Delacorte Books (March 13, 2012)
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Series: No
Source: NetGalley
GR Summary: It all begins with a stupid question: Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward.

But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.

Kirsten Hubbard lends her artistry into this ultimate backpacker novel, weaving her drawings into the text. Her career as a travel writer and her experiences as a real-life vagabond backpacking Central America are deeply seeded in this inspiring story.

My Thoughts: So sometime not long ago, I got a borderline incomprehensible text from Anna telling me about Wanderlove and its glory. Usually, when she geeks out over a book, I know I'm in for something special.

- Before hearing about Wanderlove, I thought to myself, "well this looks like a nice little book about travel."

- After Anna's text: "I think I have to read this because obviously it's going to be steamy with lots of XOXOXs and hopefully more Xs than Os and maybe a couple XXXs."

- After finishing Wanderlove: "AHHHH IT STARTS IN MY TOES, MAKES ME CRINKLE MY NOSE WITH ALL THE GOOD THINGS!" but also "I shall take this time to quietly reflect on how Kirsten Hubbard should change the title of this book to WTF Are You Doing With Your Life, You Mundane Human Being? THIS is How It Should Be Done."

I've never in my life given a crap about travel, because the uncertainty of shower availability scares me. But after reading Bria's story about her past, her attempt to run away from her past, and finding herself again in the entire process, my perspective has changed. I love how Bria's painful past was slowly revealed throughout her journey. This book is SO not just about romance. It's about giving the finger to everyone else when it comes to your happiness, because that's something we're responsible for. For real, I was GIDDY with all of the empowerment packed into these pages. It left me feeling like I could conquer the friggin' world.

So I know I said the book isn't JUST about romance, but that doesn't mean that it's not worth mentioning. Because Rowan is a delightful specimen. And he has a touch of my favorite qualities: tortured and pensive. But don't worry, there's hope for him yet. And all fans of the Slow Burn (can I get a hell yeah?), there's something that will tickle your fancy. All fans of the good boy, there's something for you, too. Guys, this love interest is multi-faceted. Just like the story.

Wanderlove has something for everyone. A sure-fire way to cure any reading slump.

(By the way, its release date is MY BIRTHDAY.)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Guest Post: Juliana Baggott, Author of PURE

I know that Jen is huge on music and is interested in hearing about the process of writing and the influence (if any) that a certain artist, song, album has had on a book.

First, let me say that there’s a good bit of music in PURE. There’s a song sung by children early on in the novel.

Burn a Pure and breathe the ash.
Take his guts and make a sash.
Twist his hair and make a rope.
And use his bones to make Pure soap.

I hear this song in my head sung by children, voices floating and echoing as if in an alley.

Writing a post-apocalyptic novel means that you have to ask certain kinds of questions: What survives? Does music survive? Does the concept of God and faith? Does the desire to make art survive? Does love survive? To my mind, all of these things endure because they’re facets of the human condition. In book two, FUSE, there are more songs, eerie ones that haunt the characters.

But also, one of the things that Pressia remembers about her mother is a song, a lullabye. This becomes very important. The lullabye, although never identified outright, is a song that many people should recognize. (Here’s a hint – it’s about about a girl on a front porch and someone is begging her to take his hand to ride with him into the Promise Land.) So, yes, music is important, essential. It survives.

I don’t listen to music while I write, but sometimes I listen while plotting which for me can be a fairly associative, visual, and improvisational. It’s strange to think of plotting a novel as anything but the organizational mapping of a book – something that’s done in a very self-aware way. But for me, it’s not at all. I gather images and visual clips of what I want to write. I use large art-book sized sheets and jot those elements that have been surfacing and resurfacing. And then, sometimes to music – sometimes the same song, over and over – I quilt those images together, creating stitches that would attach one to the next. I create a map, one that I think will see me through to the end of the novel; it never does. In the writing process, the characters are willful and start to do things I don’t expect. These are moments I long for. It means the characters are real enough to make their own demands.

For PURE, toward the end of writing it, there was a song that I turned to. The Smith’s “How Soon Is Now?” It’s dark and industrial and seems, to me, to resonant with a dystopian aesthetic while insisting on being human, each of us deserving to be loved.

"I am human and I need to be loved. Just like everybody else does."

Julianna, thank you so much for stopping by! I'm about halfway through PURE right now and honestly, The Smiths' song is PERFECT for the feel of the novel. It's dark, it's ominous, it's desperate. Go HERE to order PURE from Amazon. It's released today!

Visit Julianna's Site
Visit Julianna's Blog

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Top Ten Books For Non-Readers

TTT is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and thought up by my awesome friend, Jamie!

Guys, let me be honest: I don't often make book recommendations to non-readers. I read a lot of YA and am STILL in the phase where I'm quite embarrassed by this. If someone asks me what I'm reading (DAMN me for reading something that's not on my Nook!) I'll slowly turn the book over and say "oh, nothing special." But there are a select few that I've given my awesome bookish advice to and here are the books that I chose.

1. The Twilight Saga
Why? Because it's what got me reading. And from like 1998 - 2007, I probably read a grand total of 15 books for pleasure. Love it or hate it, this stuff has worked. Though I'm running out of people to recommend, because they've all seen the movies and still don't like to read. (Ahem, losers.)

2. Harry Potter

Why? Because I listened to the audiobooks and, while it takes longer to complete, you can read while doing other things. People aren't going to ask you what book you're listening to, because they're going to assume that you're listening to music. Plus, they're effing phenomenal. The movies don't do them justice.

3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Why? Well, there's going to be a movie from them. And following suit with every other movie in existence (except Breaking Dawn), the book is probably better.

4. The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Why? Because it's easy breezy. I recommended this book to my sister and, even though she hasn't read it yet, I still maintain she'll love it. Who doesn't adore this love triangle, anyway? It's a good one.

5. The Shade Series by Jeri Smith-Ready

Why? Because it shows that not all YA is "young." Sure, the characters are, but this is heavy material here. And it's painful. There's not much fluff found in this series, but that's why I love it. It makes me feel.

6. The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray

Why? Because how can you not fall in love with this world? If a non-reader is looking for fantastic world-building, gripping storytelling, and an unreliable narrator who is 100% unsure of herself, so we learn as she learns, this is definitely something they'll want to check out.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

In My Mailbox (47)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren. YAY for sharing the books we got and spreading the love.

No books for review this week, but FEAR NOT. There's still a nice chunk of awesomeness that is taking up even more space on my shelf.

A Want So Wicked by Suzanne Young (thanks, HD! YOU ROCK!)

River Marked by Patricia Briggs (read the first 4 in the series. need to catch up. love mercy & adam!)
The Treasure Map of Boys by E. Lockhart (finished. loved.)
Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt (my first by her!)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Review: A Touch Morbid by Leah Clifford

Published: Greenwillow (February 28, 2012)
Pages: 299
Format: Hardcover
Series: Book 2 of 3
Source: ARC from Publisher
GR Summary: Eden won the battle-she saved her true love from the darkest evil. But the war has only just begun. With secrets swirling around her, powerful allies unraveling, and life-and death-as she knows it eroding, Eden and those she loves tread dangerous ground. Can she trust anyone? Will her unearthly powers be her salvation or her downfall? A sweeping, dark, and sexy paranormal romance that will haunt readers with an inventive mythology and a cinematic New York City filled with shadows and longing.

My Thoughts: Just when I thought it couldn't any more dark and dismal... After the insanity that was A Touch Mortal, A Touch Morbid definitely lives up to its predecessor. And Leah Clifford LIES, people. This is definitely not just a "touch" morbid. It's as if the Grim Reaper formed this 300 page book out of severed body parts. BUT I LOVE IT. And Eden's wicked green highlights.

There were some moments within Morbid where I was legitimately scared. As per the ending of Mortal, we know Gabe has fallen. GABE. You kill me. You kill me dead with your goodness, even with your flaws. And he definitely pays for it in Morbid. Seeing the struggles that Gabe is forced to endure made me wince a couple times.

Az and Eden are as adorable and tortured as ever. Why can't these two just have their happiness? Honestly. I guess it wouldn't be nearly as fun for readers if they did. And there wouldn't be much of a story to tell, because it just wouldn't be wonderfully angsty without the struggles. I am terrifyingly in love with this world.

We have a girl being consumed from the inside out. We have good vs. evil. We have Luke, who is way so intriguing that it pushes the envelope of my comfort level, given what he is. We have scary, scary demons. We have addiction. Throw these all together with amazing plot twists and SO MUCH ANGST that my heart cannot handle it and you have yourself an unputdownable read.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Rewind & Review: February

Rewind & Review is a feature hosted by Ginger and Lisa, for whom I have mass amounts of love. I've been reading older books lately, so this feature came about at just the right time. I plan on reading and reviewing two books that were released awhile back this month, if not more. But I'm only going to feature two because honestly? I'm not good with commitment.

Gimme a Call by Sarah Mlynowski
Published: April 27, 2010
I loved Ten Things We Did, and I am sure this one will be no different. Can you imagine? Knowing the things you know now and being able to contact your younger self as a kind of weird, personal fortune teller? Not to mention TALKING TO YOURSELF is just flat out bananas. But as a teenager? Heck yes, I would do this. And I can't wait to read how this turns out!

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols
Published: March 17, 2009
I've read both Forget You and Love Story and did not like either of them. I know this makes me a horrible person, because EVERYONE loves J. Echols. This one seems to be a collective favorite, so I'm going to give it one more shot. Plus, she can write some seriously swoony scenes. This, I cannot deny. BRING IT.