Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Waiting on Wednsday: More Sequels

So, I went through my wishlist to determine if there were any more groupings or if I could just start doing random gatherings. And there were a lot more sequels. So...woo!

A Beautiful Evil
Kelly Keaton
Simon Pulse
[February 21, 2012]
A power she can’t deny. A destiny she’s determined to fight.

When Ari first arrived in the dilapidated city of New 2, all she wanted was to figure out who she was. But what she discovered was beyond her worst nightmare. Ari can already sense the evil growing inside her—a power the goddess Athena will stop at nothing to possess.

Desperate to hold on to her humanity and protect her loved ones, Ari must fight back. But Athena’s playing mind games, not just with Ari but with those she cares about most. And Athena has a very special plan for the brooding and sexy Sebastian.

Ari is determined to defeat Athena, but time is running out. With no other options, Ari must unleash the very thing she’s afraid of: herself.
 I really enjoyed the first book. I'm sad the covers won't match, but definitely looking forward to this one.

Truth
Julia Karr
Speak
[January 19, 2012]
Nina Oberon’s life has changed enormously in the last few months. When her mother was killed, Nina discovered the truth about her father, the leader of the Resistance. And now she sports the same Governing Council–ordered tattoo of XVI on her wrist that all sixteen-year-old girls have. The one that announces to the world that she is easy prey to predators. But Nina won’t be anyone’s stereotype. And when she joins an organization of girls working within the Resistance, she knows that they can put an end to one of the most terrifying secret programs the GC has ever conceived. Because the truth always comes out...and the consequences can be deadly.
Technically a companion, but either way, I really enjoyed XVI, so I'm curious as to where this one will go. 

Fever
Lauren DeStefano
Simon & Schuster's Children Publishing
[February, 21, 2012]
Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind.

Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago - surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous - and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the mansion...by any means necessary.

In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price - now that she has more to lose than ever.
Wither is one of my other top picks of the year. And the ending was amazing. NEED book 2! 

Wings of the Wicked
Courtney Allison Moulton
Katherine Tegen Books
[February 14, 2012]
Life as the Preliator is harder than Ellie ever imagined.
Balancing real life with the responsibility of being Heaven’s warrior is a challenge for Ellie. Her relationship with Will has become all business, though they both long for each other. And now that the secret of who she really is has come out, so have Hell’s strongest reapers. Grown bold and more vicious, the demonic threaten her in the light of day and stalk her in the night.

She’s been warned.
Cadan, a demonic reaper, comes to her with information about Bastian’s new plan to destroy Ellie’s soul and use an ancient relic to wake all the souls of the damned and unleash them upon humanity. As she fights to stay ahead of Bastian’s schemes , the revelations about those closest to her awaken a dark power within Ellie that threatens to destroy everything—including herself.

She’ll be betrayed.
Treachery comes even from those whom she loves, and Ellie is broken by the deaths of those who stood beside her in this Heavenly war. Still, she must find a way to save the world, herself, and her love for Will. If she fails, there will be hell to pay.
Angelfire was really interesting and well written, so I'm looking forward to this one!

Allegience
Cayla Kluver
HarlequinTeen
[February 28, 2012]
Only I saw Narian for who he truly was: a young man with courage and an independent mind, and made to pay for what was outside his control. He couldn't help his past any more than he could help the way those intense, deep-blue eyes pierced me and held me captive.

An eighteen-year-old queen in love with the enemy as their countries pass the point of no return...

Bound to a man she cannot love, Queen Alera of Hytanica must forget Narian, the young man who holds her heart. For Narian is destined to conquer Hytanica at the behest of his master, the powerful magic-user known as the Overlord. Alera doesn't truly believe Narian will fight against Hytanica-until Cokyrian troops attack with Narian commanding the charge.

Faced with the greatest betrayal a heart can know, Alera must set aside personal feelings and lead her kingdom through its darkest time. And when all hope, will and courage seem lost, she must find strength and remember that even the blackest night must have a dawn....
The ending to this one KILLED me. Legacy was slow, but a really good story. Really interesting.


Clockwork Prince
Cassandra Clare
Margaret K. McElderry
[December 6, 2011]
In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa's powers for his own dark ends. 


With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister's war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move and that one of their own has betrayed them. 

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will; the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do? 

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.

I liked Clockwork Angel more than TMI, so yes, really want to read this one!

--Julie

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door
Stephanie Perkins
Dutton
[September 29, 2011]


Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

I think...maybe, I prefer Lola to Anna.

Lemme explain. Lola was wonderfully quirky and sweet and naive. She reminded me of my friends and a little bit of myself. Artsy and smart and unique with a bit of rebellion. I love Lola and I love her best friend and I love her dads and I love the fact that Anna and St. Clair were back and played bigger roles than I thought they would.

Cricket was another amazing character. He was, like St. Clair, not just a simple boy. He was complicated and silly and a genius and almost as quirky as Lola. Cricket was just absolutely adorable and wonderful and can I have him please?

Stephanie Perkins said Lola was a REALLY difficult book for her to write, so can I give her a round of applause? The writing was fantastic. I spent my day when I should've been cleaning, reading. It was a one day, two sitting read. And I just want to erase it from my memory and read it all over again. I also loved the subtle hints about Isla and the Happily Ever After. Not so subtle you'd definitely miss it (obviously), but enough that you CAN miss it if you aren't wondering.

The story was exactly what I was looking for. I want more stories like this, where it's a boy who's a friend and he really likes her and the problem isn't life threatening. Adorable little romances with a deeper undertone.

I deeply, truly loved this book and I cannot wait to see what Perkins has for us in the future.

--Julie

Monday, 28 November 2011

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta


Finnikin of the Rock
by Melina Marchetta


Summary: At the age of nine, Finnikin is warned by the gods that he must sacrifice a pound of flesh to save his kingdom. He stands on the rock of the three wonders with his friend Prince Balthazar and Balthazar's cousin, Lucian, and together they mix their blood to safeguard Lumatere.

But all safety is shattered during the five days of the unspeakable, when the king and queen and their children are brutally murdered in the palace. An impostor seizes the throne, a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere's walls, and those who escape are left to roam the land as exiles, dying by the thousands in fever camps.

Ten years later, Finnikin is summoned to another rock--to meet Evanjalin, a young novice with a startling claim: Balthazar, heir to the throne of Lumatere, is alive. This arrogant young woman claims she'll lead Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, to the prince. Instead, her leadership points them perilously toward home. Does Finnikin dare believe that Lumatere might one day rise united? Evanjalin is not what she seems, and the startling truth will test Finnikin's faith not only in her but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.
So basically, I want to marry this book. I think we'd be good together - Alanna of the Rock, works right? And I want to marry Finnikin. And Evanjalin. And most of the characters. And Melina Marchetta. And - okay, so maybe not - but seriously, she is one of my favourite authors (top 3) and I've yet to read one of her books that doesn't make it onto my favourite books list.

This book isn't really my kind of thing...honestly, if it wasn't written by Melina Marchetta, I probably wouldn't have given it a chance. But I did and it was freaking awesome.

It did take me a while to get into it (but that may have something to do with the fact I always tried to read when I was tired) - well, 30-50 pages maybe? - but once I was, I was totally hooked and there were some parts that I was a bit "Huh?"/WTF? at but it didn't make me like it less. I stayed up all night reading it.

The way Melina writes characters is just...wow. She makes them so complex and loveable and hateable and even the loveable ones have flaws and the hateable ones show redeeming qualities because people are like that - we're not all good or all bad, we're just varying shades of gray. And Melina shows that better than the majority of writers I've read.

And her writing? Love it. The style in this one was so different to her other books, not quite as many marking the pages with quotes I love and want to put on tumblr later, but it was still good and well written. And her stories are always so complex and sometimes when I'm reading, it baffles me how she keeps all the details straight in her mind and brings them together in a way that makes sense but...yeah, somehow she does it and it's brilliant.

This review is kind of more...general Melina fangirling (as my reviews of books by my favourite authors tend to go), but the book specifically? I wouldn't know where to begin...I loved the characters, the romance (romance that felt natural and not forced like so many YA books and it felt like a book with romance instead of a romance book), the world - it made me laugh and cry (both happy and sad tears and it is really not easy for a book to make me cry happy but this one did it and it's written in third person which always feels more distanced so it's even more of an accomplishment).

Even if you don't like these kinds of books, I suggest checking this one out, especially if you're a Melina Marchetta fan. And if you've never read any of her books, go do that (her contemporary books are amazing. Seriously.) - I think Finnikin of the Rock is my third favourite of all her books now...Jellicoe Road and The Piper's Son are almost tied for first but JR only slightly wins out.

And I think that is enough fangirling for one review. I really want to read Froi of the Exiles now.

Later.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

In My Mailbox 94

So, WEEEEE book time!

[For the record, I had a video and it was awesome. It had my current favorite CD playing in the background and I read the descriptions or gave my own summary of the books, I had release dates and publishers for the review books and thanks for everyone who supplied me with books but youtube's being an absolute asshole. It won't recognize my webcam and when I left the video I recorded separately uploading to youtube for three hours, it didn't upload at ALL. Then youtube continued to ignore my webcam. I tried guys, I tried so hard. Also, I need music recommendations. Leave those below. I'd also love historical fiction or fantasy YA similar to Eva Ibbotson - so royalty makes it better and I love my romance, especially when there's some reason it's forbidden. Leave those below too.]

For Review:
Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts
A Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink

For the Birthday:
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
$50 in B&N gift cards
Other stuff y'all don't care about

 Thank you to LibraryThing, PenguinTeen, Simon and Schuster, my family, and Lanna!

Anything sparking your interest?

--Julie

Friday, 25 November 2011

Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles


Chain Reaction
by Simone Elkeles


Summary: Luis Fuentes has always been sheltered from the gang violence that nearly destroyed his brothers’ lives. But that didn’t stop him from taking risks—whether he’s scaling a mountain in the Rockies or dreaming of a future as an astronaut, Luis can’t stop looking for the next thrill.

Nikki Cruz lives her life by three rules—boys lie to get their way, don’t trust a boy who says “I love you,” and never date a boy from the south side of Fairfield. Her parents may be from Mexico, but as a doctor’s daughter, she has more in common with her north-side neighbors than the Latino Blood at her school. Then she meets Luis at Alex’s wedding, and suddenly, she’s tempted to break all her rules.

Getting Nikki to take a chance on a southsider is Luis’s biggest challenge, until he finds himself targeted by Chuy Soto, the new head of the Latino Blood. When Chuy reveals a disturbing secret about Luis’s family, the youngest Fuentes finds himself questioning everything he’s ever believed to be true. Will his feelings for Nikki be enough to stop Luis from entering a dark and violent world and permanently living on the edge?
I'm not quite sure how to review this book. I loved the first two books, Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction, and I did really enjoy Chain Reaction too but...it's hard to explain.

It did have a bunch of the elements that I loved from the first two books, but of all the narrators we've had in the books so far, these ones were my least favourite and there were parts of the book that it just felt like...the novelty of it had worn off.

I did like Luis and Nikki, but not nearly as much as Brittany, Kiara, Alex and Carlos. Nikki was just so annoyingly bitter and cynical and I could be sympathetic to an extent but other times I just wanted her to be real so I could smack her upside the head with the book and Luis was lovely...sort of...kind of...most of the time. But he annoyed me sometimes too, although it was way less than Nikki did.

I was rooting for them to get together because I'm a sucker for books like that and of course, I knew they would end up together because these books are delightfully predictable in that way (it's the same formula for each one). But their relationship felt less natural than Alex/Brittany and Carlos/Kiara and while we're told about the great chemistry they have, I didn't really feel it when I was reading like I did with the previous couples and their love for each other...I dunno, it felt less natural than the others too - I accepted it and kind of believed it but I just wasn't feeling it.

The gang element of this book was probably my least favourite. It may just be the lack of novelty thing but I found it more annoying than anything else.

This review is turning out way more negative than it should be...that's the annoying thing about reviewing a book that is a part of a series/a companion novel to books you loved, it's so hard to judge it on its own without comparisons.

Basically, I did really like the book. I read it cover to cover, pulling an all nighter and ignoring my aching head and eyes to do so. It kept me entertained from start to finish and I absolutely loved that it showed the sibling relationship with Carlos, Alex and Luis and that we got to see the more of the Brittany/Alex and Carlos/Kiara relationships through the eyes of the new narrators, that was probably my favourite part of the whole book.

I love that I know what to expect with these books. Sometimes I like for books to surprise me but sometimes I want to go into a book and know what I'm going to get out of it - I was reading a different book, one I knew was going to be painful to read, so I put it down and read this instead to kind of prepare myself for it. I needed to read a book like this instead of a heavier read right now.

So yeah, if you haven't read Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction yet, then go read them then read this one. If you like the others, you'll probably like this one - it was just my least favourite of the series.

Later.

p.s. as I mentioned, I stayed up all night and have a terrible headache right now, so I'mma blame the fail that is this review on that, K?

A Guest Post from Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Today we have Lauren Baratz-Logsted, author of the recently released Little Women and Me! She's talking about why she chose Little Women and what might come next!


I got the idea for LITTLE WOMEN AND ME after my daughter and her best friend read the classic Louisa May Alcott novel for the first time. We were sitting around talking about the two things that bother most readers about the book - 1) That Thing That Happens To Beth and 2) how The Boy Next Door winds up with the wrong March sister - and it set off in me the thought that represents the inspiration that comes before the perspiration for most writers: "What if...?" In this case, it was "What if a contemporary teen were to somehow find herself literally sucked into the classic Alcott novel only to discover that she has to change a major plot point if she ever hopes to get out again?"

In terms of other stories I'd like to retell, for a long time I've wanted to do a contemporary version of A Separate Peace, only switching the setting to an all-girls school so I could explore the corrosive nature of female jealousy - obviously that would be a much more serious book than LW&M. And I've recently begun work on a series for younger readers about triplets who regularly travel into classic novels where they have to change something to get back out again.

Thanks for having me!
 
Lauren

 
Thanks for stopping by, Lauren!

Julie

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter

Please note that this is the second book in the Gallagher Girls series, so there will be spoilers for the first book in the summary (but my review will be relatively spoiler free).

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy
by Ally Carter


Summary: Cammie Morgan is back, and it's clear that her life hasn't calmed down since the events of I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You. At first, giddy anticipation is in the air. Gallagher Academy, Cammie's elite spy school, is hosting a visit from a covert training center for boys.

Soon after the boys' arrival, though, everything goes dangerously awry when a series of security breaches are discovered at the academy. Worse yet, teenage agent-in-training Cammie is being blamed for the penetration. With the school's top-secret status at risk, the Gallagher Girls have to work quickly to save their beloved school.
I loved the first book in the series. These books are just really cute and fun to read - I read the first book ages ago and while I wanted to read the sequel it wasn't one of the sequels that I immediately read as soon as I got my hands on it...it's one of those books that you know what to expect with, so you save it for the right time.

With these books, the right time is when you need a quick and light read, something fun to cheer you up when you've been down or to give you a breather after reading one of those sad books that are havoc on your emotions.

Cammie is such an awesome character - she's smart, she kicks ass but she's still got that element of normal teenage girlness to her. She still gets nervous around boys she likes and she may be training to be a spy but she makes mistakes and she's still figuring things out - about being a spy, and growing up and I dunno, I liked that a lot.

The other characters in the books are awesome too, I love the friendships in the books (I keep saying books, plural, because this is more a blanket review of this book and the first one instead of getting spoiler-y) and the romance...it's not the makes-you-swoon, gets-your-heart-racing kind, it's just sweet and I like that a lot too.

The only issue I had with this book was Zach. Now, he was lovely, but I'm not a fan of characters who are OTT mysterious and cryptic and he totally was and in the end, I still didn't really feel like I had totally figured out him or his motives, I still didn't really get some of his comments...maybe it's just because I was uber-tired when I read it, but I wish there was more about him revealed in the end.

Anyway, basically, I really recommend these books. They're fun and funny and I want to read the rest of them now - I'm not sure if I have the 3rd one so I'm going to wrap up this review so I can go check.

Later.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Historical Edition

While working on last week's Foreign Edition, I realized I had a lot more Historical Fiction books on my wishlist and decided they'd need their own section. I don't want them feeling bad, ya know?

The Gathering Storm
Robin Bridges
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
[January 10, 2012]
St. Petersburg, Russia, 1888. As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. No one knows. Not her family. Not the girls at her finishing school. Not the tsar or anyone in her aristocratic circle. Katerina considers her talent a curse, not a gift. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue.

An evil presence is growing within Europe's royal bloodlines—and those aligned with the darkness threaten to topple the tsar. Suddenly Katerina's strength as a necromancer attracts attention from unwelcome sources . . . including two young men—George Alexandrovich, the tsar's standoffish middle son, who needs Katerina's help to safeguard Russia, even if he's repelled by her secret, and the dashing Prince Danilo, heir to the throne of Montenegro, to whom Katerina feels inexplicably drawn.
The time has come for Katerina to embrace her power, but which side will she choose—and to whom will she give her heart?
 I kind of love the Romanovs, so I really want this one. Also this cover. Also the Romanovs. It's possible I've actually featured this one before but...oh well.


The Academie
Susanne Dunlap
Bloomsbury USA Children's
[April 10, 2012]
Eliza Monroe-daughter of the future president of the United States-is devastated when her mother decides to send her to boarding school outside of Paris. But the young American teen is quickly reconciled to the idea when-ooh, la-la!-she discovers who her fellow pupils will be: Hortense de Beauharnais, daughter of Josephine Bonaparte; and Caroline Bonaparte, youngest sister of the famous French general. It doesn't take long for Eliza to figure out that the two French girls are mortal enemies-and that she's about to get caught in the middle of their schemes.

Loosely drawn from history, Eliza Monroe's imagined coming of age provides a scintillating glimpse into the lives, loves, and hopes of three young women during one of the most volatile periods in French history.
French History! This is a little later than the time period I prefer, but still interesting, especially since it is loosely based on fact. And I love the colors on this cover. And the font on the title.

Gilt
Katherine Longshore
Viking Juvenile
[May 15, 2012]
In the Tudor age, ambition, power and charismatic allure are essential and Catherine Howard has plenty of all three. Not to mention her loyal best friend, Kitty Tylney, to help cover her tracks. Kitty, the abandoned youngest daughter of minor aristocracy, owes everything to Cat – where she is, what she is, even who she is. Friend, flirt, and self-proclaimed Queen of Misrule, Cat reigns supreme in a loyal court of girls under the none-too-watchful eye of the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk.

When Cat worms her way into the heart of Henry VIII and becomes Queen of England, Kitty is thrown into the intoxicating Tudor Court. It’s a world of glittering jewels and elegant costumes, of gossip and deception. As the Queen’s right-hand-woman, Kitty goes from the girl nobody noticed to being caught between two men – the object of her affection and the object of her desire.

But the atmosphere of the court turns from dazzling to deadly, and Kitty is forced to learn the difference between trust and loyalty, love and lust, secrets and treason. And to accept the consequences when some lessons are learned too late.
 TUDORS. 'Nuff said.

The Wicked and the Just
J. Anderson Coats
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
[April 17, 2012]
1293. North Wales. Ten years into English rule.

Cecily would give anything to leave Caernarvon. Gwenhwyfar would give anything to see all the English leave.

Neither one is going to get her wish.

Behind the city walls, English burgesses govern with impunity. Outside the walls, the Welsh are confined by custom and bear the burden of taxation, and the burgesses plan to keep it that way.

Cecily can’t be bothered with boring things like the steep new tax or the military draft that requires Welshmen to serve in the king’s army overseas. She has her hands full trying to fit in with the town’s privileged elite, and they don’t want company.

Gwenhwyfar can’t avoid these things. It’s all she can do to get through one more day.

But the Welsh are not as conquered as they seem, and the suffering in the countryside is rapidly turning to discontent. The murmurs of revolt may be Gwenhwyfar’s only hope for survival – and the last thing Cecily ever hears.
I dunno guys. I dunno. I just need it.

A Temptation of Angels
Michelle Zink
Dial Books for Young Readers
[March 20, 2012]
Even angels make mistakes in this page-turning epic romance...

When her parents are murdered before her eyes, sixteen-year-old Helen Cartwright finds herself launched into an underground London where a mysterious organization called the Dictata controls the balance of good and evil. Helen learns that she is one of three remaining angelic descendants charged with protecting the world's past, present, and future. Unbeknownst to her, she has been trained her whole life to accept this responsibility. Now, as she finds herself torn between the angelic brothers protecting her and the devastatingly handsome childhood friend who wants to destroy her, she must prepare to be brave, to be hunted, and above all to be strong, because temptation will be hard to resist, even for an angel.
 Michelle is such a sweetheart and this story sounds fantastic and just LOOK AT THAT COVER, GUYS.
Ladies in Waiting
Laura L. Sullivan
Harcourt Children's Books
[May 8, 2012]
Eliza dreams of being a playwright for the king’s theater, where she will be admired for her witty turns of phrase rather than her father’s wealth.

Beth is beautiful as the day but poor as a church mouse, so she must marry well, despite her love for her childhood sweetheart.
Zabby comes to England to further her scientific studies—and ends up saving the life of King Charles II. Soon her friendship with him becomes a dangerous, impossible obsession. Though she knows she should stay away from the young, handsome king, Charles has a new bride, Queen Catherine, and a queen needs ladies in waiting.

And so Zabby, Beth, and Eliza, three Elizabeths from very different walks of life, find themselves at the center of the most scandal-filled court that England has ever seen.

Just...yes. This. Yes.

Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin Book 1
Robin LaFevers
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
[March 7, 2012]
Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.
     Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Assassins and history and court and arranged marriage and Death and just...yes. Yes to all of this.


--Julie

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Birthday of The Co-Blogger

So it's Julie's birthday today. And I suck at birthday posts but I'm doing one anyway (and Julie...if you're reading this while it's in the drafts then - then...PFFT!).



(I would have just SAID happy birthday but my voice is quiet and I don't know if the mic will pick up my voice and I'd rather not - talk to myself to test it while people are in the house)

You already got your actual present, so here is a selection of GIF's of cute animals being cute animals for you to aww at their cuteness (and if they don't show up, I will kick someone - they show up in the compose box but not the page preview, so we'll see...):









And something to make you laugh? Maybe? Possibly? Perhaps? (and does the too instead of to typo bug anyone else but me?)






...No?






And a compliment...or a - truth really: You are absolutely awesome and one of my favourite people and yeah, we say this next part a lot but it's true; I love book blogging, it's been awesome and a huge part of that is because you are awesome. So yeah, happy birthday? (Wow, I suck at this.)

Anyone reading this you wish her happy birthday (in the comments or on twitter @JulieHeartBooks)?

Later.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Sandpiper by Ellen Wittlinger


Sandpiper
by Ellen Wittlinger


Summary: "You shouldn't expect much of him. He's...he's damaged." Damaged. What a horrible word. Like a car after a wreck...It was how I'd been feeling myself. Slightly ruined, a big mess.

Lately there have been a lot of guys in Sandpiper's life. In the past year, she's gone through eight or nine different boyfriends — if you can call them that. She knows the boys are only using her for one thing, but she is using them, too.

The Walker is different from the others. He is kind and gentle. Mysterious. And most of all, he is the first guy who doesn't want Sandy for all the usual reasons. In fact, she's not sure if he wants her for any reason.

But she knows she wants to be around him. He makes her feel safe, when all the other parts of her life — like her family and friends — just make her feel awful. And when one of Sandy's exes starts harassing her, the Walker may be the only person who can help Sandy confront her uneasy past — and steady herself for a different future.
I didn't really go into this book with any expectations, it was just one of those books that I stumbled across and liked the cover and ended up buying it - I'm not sure whether I loved it or not. I read it in one sitting and I think my feelings for it are mostly positive...but yeah, not sure if I loved it.

Walker was the main reason I liked the story. I think he was awesome and his story was so sad, I just wanted to reach into the book and hug him tight. And yeah, he was just lovely. 

Sandpiper (I'd whine about how bloody awful her name is but it's a point in the book so it wasn't just the author trying to make her a unique little snowflake) - I really didn't like her for a large portion of the book. She had a serious attitude problem and warped way of seeing things...but while she annoyed me, it wasn't because she was badly written, it was because she was given real flaws and they were well written. She grows as a character and by the end I liked her.

The plot...this is probably the part I'm unsure of. I liked it, but - I dunno, it had the same kind of feel that reading a Sarah Dessen book does only without the Sarah Dessen awesomeness where the story is just...it's real, but it's not one of those raw/gritty ones, and it deals with real issues and the plot isn't - I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's more character driven than plot driven (there is twists in the story and things, it just that most of it isn't particularly interesting on its own without the characters being interesting).

I really liked the writing and while I wasn't too into Sandpiper/Pipers poems (although a few were really good), I liked that addition to the book too. A few quotes I liked (one from the writing, one from one of her poems):

I will meet you at the crossroads of damage and sorrow. We will recognize each other by the ragged holes in our hearts, sorry for everything, hoping to come home.” 

I loved the way his smiles came from far away and really meant something. He was serious in a way other guys I knew weren’t.
 
I wish it hadn't ended where it did. I wish we were given a little something more instead of us being left to figure out how things turned out on our own but as far as endings go, it wasn't awful. It's just one of those books where I kind of wish there was an epilogue to give us some answers.

This review is awful - I tried leaving it for a while to give my thoughts time to clear a little but it's just not happening. I recommend the book, I read it in one sitting, I enjoyed it and it had good characters (Walker and Rachel were my favourites)...I know I liked it, I may have loved it, but I just don't know. 

And I give up trying to explain my muddled thoughts on it (the fact that I had an awful day and haven't slept probably not helping the situation /oversharing).

Later.

I'm Thankful For...

So, the American Thanksgiving is this upcoming Thursday. I decided to kind of honor the holiday and thank the people who are important in my blogging life. I've roped a few other bloggers into doing this with me this week, but anyone is free to join in!

I'll be doing most of my thanking on twitter, but a few special people I need to thank:

Harmony: Harmony's pretty much my best friend. She's there whenever I need to rant, whether it be book related, blogging related, or personal. Nothing's off limits and that's something I need in my life. We may live across the country from each other, but I don't know what I'd do without her. Harmony's like my younger, prettier twin. Thank you, so much, for all you do Harmony.

C.J. Redwine: She wrote a post for me earlier this year, so it's only fair I write at least part of one for her. C.J. is kind of an inspiration to me. She's incredibly giving and funny and kind. She helps with charities and she's a major cupcake fan. Strong, courageous, and gorgeous, C.J.'s just all around awesome. I also have no doubt in my mind that her book is incredible and I will love it to pieces. I want to be C.J. when I grow up. Thank you, C.J., for setting an amazing example.

Jodi Meadows: Jodi is another incredible, talented person. She knows how to write one hell of a book, can knit some amazing things, and is just wonderfully creative. She's supportive and cares fiercely about her friends. Jodi is funny and a sweetheart, but she also has the same kind of pet peeves I do. Incarnate is amazing, Jodi is beautiful inside and out, and she's just a fantastic person overall. Thank you, Jodi, for being there and for sharing your talents with the world.

Lanna: This is something we both do every time we have to talk about each other because it's true. This blog couldn't exist without Lanna. I wouldn't know the many, many amazing people I know now. I wouldn't have all the experience in the book industry I have. I wouldn't have read nearly as many books that I loved because I wouldn't have known I'd love them. I wouldn't know what I want to be when I grow up. I wouldn't own half as much music. Without Lanna, I'd be a totally different person. While I'm not 100% happy with who I am now, I don't think I could be as happy as I am if I was someone else. Thank you, Lanna, for making me, me.

And all of your wonderful readers: In the time it took me to post, we reached 900 followers. Thank you, each and everyone, for sticking with us for the past couple years.

So, I'll be tweeting my gratitude in the days leading up to Thanksgiving to other people, but I just had to highlight these four now. 

If you want to do something like this, feel free to leave a link in the comments, tweet me, or email me. I'll edit it in because Mr. Linky and I don't see eye to eye so it just works better. But make sure to thank the people in your lives for they've all they done at some point this week, even if it's just a hug or a thank you or a phone call. Sometimes we all need that reminder we're important to someone, you know?

--Julie

Friday, 18 November 2011

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

The Future of Us
Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Razorbill
[November 21, 2011]


It's 1996, and less than half of all American high school students have ever used the Internet.

Emma just got her first computer and an America Online CD-ROM.

Josh is her best friend. They power up and log on--and discover themselves on Facebook, fifteen years in the future.

Everybody wonders what their Destiny will be. Josh and Emma are about to find out.

So...this book was unexpected.

The characters didn't stand out to me, the subplots were just there, but there was still a lot going on that I enjoyed.

What was really amazing was the plot line and how it messed with my head. The story was unique and got me really excited. The way it was written lived up to what I thought it would be and was able to get my friends excited too.

But mostly, it was thought provoking. The tiniest of things changed their lives. Even if one person changed something purposely, the other would be affected. At one point, Emma decides not to go to a certain college due to what she learns and her future changes entirely and irrevocably. As someone now deciding where to go to college, I found that fascinating and horrifying all at the same time.

Basically, this book was purely plot driven. Y'all know how I am about my characters and the characters in this book were just nothing remarkable but the story was amazing enough for me to look past it. Read it just to think about how your life could be.

--Julie

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Exile by Jakob Ejersbo


Exile
by Jakob Ejersbo

Release date (UK): 24th of November 2011

Summary: For the vagabond pack of ex-pat Europeans, Indian, Tanzanians and wealthy Africans at Moshi's International School, it's all about getting high, getting drunk and getting laid. Their parents - drug dealers, mercenaries and farmers gone to seed - are too dead inside to give a damn.

Samantha has lived in Tanzania since she was three years old. Her parents run an exclusive travel lodge and are too absorbed by their own affairs to pay much attention to their daughter. The mother sips expat gin and tonics under the midday sun; the father, a former S.A.S. officer turned mercenary, busies himself with dead end coup d'etats and clandestine love affairs with local women.

Samantha learns quickly that affection comes at a premium, at a price she is always willing to pay, however shallow and transitory the experience, however hollow the love on offer. Before long, her reputation precedes her, losing her friends as quickly as it gains her admirers
I started reading this not knowing what to expect but I wasn't expecting to love the book. But I loved it (mostly).

To explain the "mostly" part: I hated the ending. Loathed it. I think it was awful, rushed, didn't fit in with the rest of the book and was one of those terrible endings that leave you with a, "Wait, that's it?" type of feeling - like you've read this whole book, read the character go through all of these things and in the end, there's really no closure or sense that anything was resolved.

And that part I hated? It was seriously like five pages max, right at the very end - I loved the rest (well, there was one scene with cruelty to a cat that I hated too but in a different way to the ending - the end felt like a writing fail, the cat thing was just that I am strongly against animal cruelty), so for the rest of my review when I'm being positive, I'm talking about everything but the ending because if I judge it as a whole then my review will just get too negative because of how much I hated the end.

The main character is a teenager, the story is about her life from about aged 15 until she's 18, but the content of the book is very adult (with her showing her age and immaturity quite a lot), it's unsugarcoated and uncensored (which I loved). I didn't always like Samantha, I actually kind of hated her sometimes, but she never bored me and I was hooked on the story from the start.

If you like books with, well, a typical plot that has a set beginning and middle and end then this book maybe won't be for you - it didn't feel like reading a book like that, it felt more like one of those stories that is like, "Okay, here is the character and this is their life when they were aged X to Y" showing highlights from their life and it had a very real and raw feel to it because of that.

The writing...in the beginning, it took some getting used to and I'm not sure why. I wasn't sure if I loved the writing or hated it but once I was into the story, I couldn't put it down and it's the kind of book that you remember and the way it's written is one of the things that you remember, it's kind of distinctive. But it's weird - I didn't exactly empathize with Samantha or the other characters, there was always a distance between me and them and I was caught up in their story but not the emotions...the way it's written, it's so in-the-moment of Samantha's thoughts that we never really get to properly know her or the other characters or figure them out (it's difficult to explain)...I don't mean that as a negative, it's just something about the book that just - is. And it was one of the things that made the writing distinctive.

I can't really pin point why I loved the book (my attempts above kind of failed), I just know that I was hooked from start to finish. Maybe it was how original it felt or the culture thing  - I've never read another book set there or like this one (the culture has the same kind of fascination factor that books like A Thousand Splendid Suns and Anna and the French Kiss have).

In the end,  my overall verdict was that I loved the book (although I really, really wish the ending was different - it felt like a different story; like a real and raw and grounded story turned into something that would've fit in more with a supernatural crime novel).

I would not have wanted to read the book based on the summary and the cover would not have caught my attention at all, it really isn't a book I would've read on my own so I'm really glad I was sent it to review because I'm happy I read it, it was awesome and you should check it out.

And I think that's enough rambling for one review. This one really is difficult to review.

Later.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Waiting on Wednsday: Books That Have Foreign Touches

Are you read for more of the pretty? Good

The Demon Catchers of Milan
Kat Beyer
EgmontUSA
[August 28, 2012]

About an American teenager whose life is changed when she learns she’s a member of an ancient Italian family of demon hunters.

How gorgeous is this cover? How awesome does this one-sentence summary sound? IT'S AN EGMONT BOOK.
So really, this book is necessary to my life. I want it because of reasons.






Flirting in Italian
Lauren Henderson
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
[June 12, 2012]
Four girls. One magical, and possibly dangerous Italian summer. Family mysteries, ancient castles, long hot nights of dancing under the stars . . . and, of course, plenty of gorgeous Italian boys!
Italy! I've never read a book that takes place in Italy! And Italian boys! And CASTLES. CASTLES FOR EVERYONE. Castles make me happy. 

I'm sure most people won't like this cover, but I find it adorable.


The International Kissing Club
Ivy Adams
Walker & Company
[January 3, 2012]
Piper, Cassidy, Mei, and Izzy have been best friends their whole lives. And they've always agreed on one goal: to get out of tiny Paris, Texas, and see the world. The school's foreign exchange program seems like the perfect escape: Piper will go to the original Paris; Mei will go to China; Cassidy will go to Australia; and Izzy, unable to afford the program, will stay at home. To add spice to their semester away, and to stay connected to their best friends, the girls start The International Kissing Club, a Facebook page where they can anonymously update one another and brag about all the amazing guys they're meeting. After all, these girls are traveling abroad: amazing guys abound at every turn! But sometimes fun, flirty vacation flings turn into more serious romances, and sometimes you don't return from abroad the same person you were. Will the girls' relationships-and their friendships-be able to survive?
How cute does this sound? Just...just so much of the cuteness. I might not be able to handle it.



When You Open Your Eyes
Celeste Conway
Simon Pulse
[March 20, 2012]
Tessa is in love with Lucien, the son of a European diplomat. He's French and sexy and artistic. With him, she realizes how naive and American she is, and just how alive she can feel.

But Tessa’s father forbids her to see Lucien. So they meet in secret, which makes their relationship feel all the more exciting.

The harder Tessa falls for Lucien, the more volatile he becomes. Suddenly it’s not just their relationship that’s breaking the rules—Lucien knows no boundaries. And Tessa must figure out how far she’ll go for Lucien…before there is no turning back.
Really, I just wanna read it because of the French diplomat's son. I admit it, I'm shallow.

Arcadia Awakens
Kai Meyer
Balzer + Bray
[February 14, 2012]
To Rosa Alcantara, the exotic world of Sicily, with its network of Mafia families and its reputation for murder and intrigue, is just that—exotic and wholly unknown. But when her life in Brooklyn begins to fall apart, she must travel there, to her family’s ancestral home, where centuries of family secrets await her.

Once there, Rosa falls head over heels for Alessandro Carnevare, the son of a Sicilian Mafia family, whose handsome looks and savage grace both fascinate and unsettle her. But their families are sworn enemies, and her aunt and sister believe Alessandro is only using Rosa to infiltrate the Alcantara clan. And when Rosa encounters a tiger one night—a tiger with very familiar eyes—she can no longer deny that neither the Carnevares nor the Alcantaras are what they seem.

Hidden caves, dangerous beasts roaming the hills, and a history of familial bloodlust mean that Rosa can’t trust anyone. Torn between loyalty to her family and love for their mortal enemy, Rosa must make the hardest decision of her life: stay in Sicily with her new love…or run as far and as fast as she can.
Italy and mobs and starcrossed lovers and just LUST. 

Wanderlove
Kristen Hubbard
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
[March 13, 2012]
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.
 I just...everything about this makes me lust for it. Everything.
--Julie

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me
Tahereh Mafi
Harper Collins
[November 15, 2011]
Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel.

Guys. This book.
I need to start with the writing. Tahereh's writing is lush and wonderfully descriptive. I want to drown in her words and stay there forever. The imagery is rich and the prose is just beautiful, from the set up to the metaphors to the descriptions. Everything about Tahereh's writing is gorgeous and scrumptious and delicious and if it's possible to drown in what you eat, I would do it.

Tahereh also managed to create some of the most fantastically complex characters I've ever read. I loved Juliette and watching her grow into her own. I love the voice she has as a character and I just love how she becomes more comfortable with herself and becomes stronger that way. I love the fact that Warner is the bad guy and yet part of me likes him and sympathizes with him and a very tiny fraction of my brain ships him with Juliette. He's so full of mysteries and I'm...I'm intrigued.

And then there's Adam...there are no words for Adam. I just can't describe our wonderful boy.

The relationships are great in this novel too. Adam has a little brother, James, and the bond they have is realistic and wonderful. The relationship between Warner and Juliette is as complex as Warner is as a character and it just gets more and more complicated as the book goes on. Adam and Juliette's relationship is swoon-worthy and I will leave it like that because that's the best word I have for it.

This story is incredibly unique, even though many dystopians do blend together. There's psychological components and action and romance and family relationships and friendships and scientific aspects and it's just such an amazing story. I'm in the process of reading it for the third time and it feels like coming home while opening a present.

This book just combines so many amazing things I love to see in my stories. Books like this don't come along often. I've only found two this year and I'm telling you. Read it. Love it. I haven't enjoyed a book, or writing the review for said book, since Hourglass.

--Julie

Monday, 14 November 2011

The Vampire Stalker by Allison Van Diepen


The Vampire Stalker 
by Allison Van Diepen


Summary: What if the characters in a vampire novel left their world--and came into yours?

Amy is in love with someone who doesn't exist: Alexander Banks, the dashing hero in a popular series of vampire novels. Then one night, Amy meets a boy who bears an eerie resemblance to Alexander. In fact, he IS Alexander, who has escaped from the pages of the book and is in hot pursuit of a wicked vampire named Vigo. Together, Amy and Alexander set out to track Vigo and learn how and why Alexander crossed over. But when she and Alexander begin to fall for each other, Amy wonders if she even wants him to ever return to the realm of fiction.
Don’t ‘cha just hate it when a book you’re looking forward to turns out to be a disappointment?

When I first heard about this book a few months ago, I really wanted to read it - I’m not sure why. It just sounded like it would be really fun and interesting and different from other YA paranormal books out right now.

In the end, the book was entertaining but it wasn’t anything more than that and it is one that I’ll probably have forgotten I even read within a day or two.

I didn’t like the writing at all - it’s not one of those books that I find myself wanting to mark quotes from because I love the wording or because I relate to it somehow, there was nothing quotable about this book and it was very “I did this, then I did that and then we did this.” and a lot of it was filler stuff like her telling us what she was having for dinner (think Twilight writing only less purple prose).

I didn’t feel any connection to the characters at all - I didn’t love them or hate them and so I didn’t really care what happened to them and the romance was a bit…flat.

The execution of the story honestly read like cliché, mediocre author insert fan fiction (which is basically what it was only the book it was a fan fiction of only exists within the story) -- hell, the main character even writes fan fiction within the story. I guess reading the synopsis I should have guessed it would’ve felt like reading author insert fan fiction but I think maybe because it was an actual published novel I expected more, I expected it to be written better in a way that took it to another level.

The plot had some extreme ridiculous aspects to it - and I know this is fiction, but if an author writes something well enough then it will be believable within the context of the story…I’ve read books and been convinced by things like zombies and werewolves; parts of this were just not that believable.

I think it was less about the plot and more about the way it was written…like having a regular character conveniently be an expert on the very random and odd thing that happens in the book (you’ll know what I mean if you read it - the librarian). Kind of like watching a soap opera and a character suddenly has a heart attack in a restaurant but one of the other people there just happens to be a top heart surgeon who knows exactly what to do - it’s like, what are the chances? And it comes across as so planned/ridiculous.

For some reason anytime I try to think of how to say my thoughts on this book, my sentences end in eugh or meh. Other people may love this book, I can see why some people would, it just was not my cup of tea at all - good idea, bad/mediocre execution - the only really positive thing I can think to say is that it kept me entertained for a few hours but then I'm easily amused so that's not saying much (seriously: my dog spent like 15 minutes chasing the red dot from a laser pen and I thought it was silly until I realised I had spent 15 minutes completely amused just watching aforementioned dog chase the red dot from a laser pen...).

If I had to rate the book, it'd get 2/2.5 stars out of 5. Not awful, but not good either.

Later.

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