Monday, December 31, 2012

Top 15 Books of 2012

Every year I make a list highlighting the best books I've read over the past 12 months! It's always so hard to choose, which is why I limit it to books that have been published in 2012. I can't wait to see what 2013 has in store for us!

1. If I Lie by Corrine Jackson
This book took me by surprise because I could not put it down. I was fascinated by Quinn's story because she endures insults and verbal abuse in order to protect a big secret. Once you discover the secret, you won't be disappointed.

2. Easy by Tammara Weber
This was my first New Adult book and I loved it! I could really relate to the protagonist because she's a college student and the romance was very steamy!

3. The Opposite of Hallejuah by Anna Jarzab
This was so different than Anna Jarzab's first novel (All Unquiet Things) and I liked it even more! It's about a girl whose older sister returns home after being a nun for 8 years.

4. Speechless by Hannah Harrington
This reminded me of If I Lie which is probably why I liked it so much. After spending much of her high school career spreading rumors, Chelsea takes a vow of silence after something she said gets a boy assaulted.

5. City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare
The fifth book in The Mortal Instruments Series and kind of a no-brainer.

6. Wings of the Wicked by Courtney Allison Moulton
I love this series so much and I can't wait for the final book to be released!

7. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
Morgan Matson write such good contemporary novels. This one is fun but will make you cry at the end!

8. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
The second book in a trilogy sometimes suffers from Middle Book Syndrome, but luckily Pandemonium was amazing! What a great sequel with an even more intense cliffhanger.

9. V is For Virgin by Kelly Oram
This was the second Kelly Oram book I read and I loved it just as much as the first (Serial Hottie). She is an amazing author who writes smart funny books with great romances! I'll definitely be keeping an eye on her new books.

10. Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
Don't tell anyone, but I think I like The Infernal Devices better than The Mortal Instruments.

11. The Farm by Emily McKay
This was an exciting new debut to the sometimes overwhelmed vampire genre. I can't wait to see how the story continues.

12. Spark by Amy Kathleen Ryan
Another great sequel that did not disappoint! I'm not big on straight sci-fi but Ryan knows how to make spaceships exciting!!

13. Serial Hottie by Kelly Oram
I mentioned this book before but it really is one of the best books I've read in 2012. It was way funnier than I expected and the romance was extremely unique.

14. Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes
Sometimes I'm not big on high fantasy but Morgan Rhodes made me fall in love with this new and different world.

15. This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
I read this the most recently and it's a very good novel on human nature! And there's zombies, which makes it even more exciting.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield

An arresting un-coming-of-age story, from a breathtaking talent.

Becca has always longed to break free from her small, backwater hometown. But the discovery of an unidentified dead girl on the side of a dirt road sends the town--and Becca--into a tailspin. Unable to make sense of the violence of the outside world creeping into her backyard, Becca finds herself retreating inward, paralyzed from moving forward for the first time in her life.

Short chapters detailing the last days of Amelia Anne Richardson's life are intercut with Becca's own summer as the parallel stories of two young women struggling with self-identity and relationships on the edge twist the reader closer and closer to the truth about Amelia's death. (from GoodReads)

I love mysteries and I thought Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone sounded like a nice addition to the genre. However, I found that readers' opinion of this novel will depend on their tastes: those who enjoy literary prose will fall in love with Kat Rosenfield's writing, while those who like action-filled plots may be disappointed.

I think I fall in the middle of these two tastes, which is why I liked Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone but didn't love it. In the beginning, I was entranced by the beautiful decriptions of summer and small-town life, especially the discussion of how gossip spreads. The writing is very flowery and pretty. As the story continued, I became impatient because I wanted to find out what happened to Amelia. The plot moves very slowly with much emphasis on the narration.

The book is mostly from the point-of-view of Becca, who desperately wants to leave Bridgeton for a more exciting life at college. But when the dead body of a young girl is found, she feels confused and unsure of her future plans. I didn't really care for Becca and I think that's because we never get very deep into her character. On the other hand, I loved Amelia's chapters. I thought she was much more interesting and more happened during those parts of the book, probably because her sections were free of the literary prose.

Overall, I liked Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone but can't help but feel the plot and characters were dragged down by the extensive description. If the author can find a nice balance between the two, she'll have a winning novel.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library.

2012/Dutton Juvenile/279 pages.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - 117

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to see what new books are going to be released.

Anatomy of a Single Girl by Daria Snadowsky

With Judy Blume-like honesty and insight, this sequel to Anatomy of a Boyfriend is about life after first love--romance, sex, friendship, family, and the ups and downs of life as a single girl.

After everything that happened—my first boyfriend, my first time, my first breakup—jumping back into the dating game seemed like the least healthy thing I could do. It’s not that I didn’t want to fall in love again, since that’s about the best feeling ever. But as a busy college premed still raw from heartbreak, which is the worst feeling ever, I figured I’d lie low for a while. Of course, as soon as I stopped looking for someone, an impossibly amazing—and devastatingly cute—guy came along, and I learned that having a new boyfriend is the quickest way to recover from losing your old one.

The moment we got together, all my preconceptions about romance and sex were turned upside down. I discovered physical and emotional firsts I never knew existed. I learned to let go of my past by living in the present. It was thrilling. It was hot. It was just what the doctor ordered.

But I couldn’t avoid my future forever.

In Daria Snadowsky’s daring follow-up to Anatomy of a Boyfriend, eighteen-year-old Dominique explores the relationship between love and lust, and the friendships that see us through. (from GoodReads)

I'm so excited to read Anatomy of a Single Girl because it's predecessor, Anatomy of a Boyfriend, was one of the first books I reviewed on my blog. Plus it's such a fun contemporary novel. Even though it's been over 4 years, I can't wait to see how this story continues! Anatomy of Single Girl will be released January 8, 2013.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Infects by Sean Beaudoin

A feast for the brain, this gory and genuinely hilarious take on zombie culture simultaneously skewers, pays tribute to, and elevates the horror genre.

Seventeen-year-old Nero is stuck in the wilderness with a bunch of other juvenile delinquents on an “Inward Trek.” As if that weren’t bad enough, his counselors have turned into flesh-eating maniacs overnight and are now chowing down on his fellow miscreants. As in any classic monster flick worth its salted popcorn, plentiful carnage sends survivors rabbiting into the woods while the mindless horde of “infects” shambles, moans, and drools behind. Of course, these kids have seen zombie movies. They generate “Zombie Rules” almost as quickly as cheeky remarks, but attitude alone can’t keep the biters back.

Serving up a cast of irreverent, slightly twisted characters, an unexpected villain, and an ending you won’t see coming, here is a savvy tale that that’s a delight to read—whether you’re a rabid zombie fan or freshly bitten—and an incisive commentary on the evil that lurks within each of us. (from GoodReads)

Another zombie book! Unfortunately, The Infects was nowhere near as good as This is Not a Test. In my opinion, this novel does not "skewer, pay tribute to or elevate the horror genre" in any way, shape or form.

I honestly don't know if The Infects is a bad book or I just didn't "get it." Because, I'll be honest, sometimes books are just not for me and I believe this is one of them (especially because there are some positive reviews on GoodReads). The Infects is supposed to be a witty and satirical look at current horror genre trends but I didn't see any of that. I could tell the author wanted to be funny but I didn't really laugh that much and if there was any commentary on society it whizzed by me.

So mostly my feelings on this book are confusion, because I really didn't see any of the scathing remarks and witty banter that supposedly is in full force in The Infects. I also didn't like any of the characters, especially since none of them were developed or even likable. I like zombie books but this one wasn't scary or gripping or interesting at all. The author tried to be hip with pop culture references but it added little to the narrative.

So I did not enjoy The Infects and I think the synopsis is misleading because the author did not do a very good job of proving his point, whatever that was.

Rating: 3 out of 10.
FTC: reviewed through LitPick

2012/Candlewick/384 pages.

Friday, December 21, 2012

This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to? (from GoodReads)

I read This is Not a Test in one sitting and it's definitely the type of novel that lends itself to this - it's gripping and hard to put down. I really enjoyed the blending of contemporary YA themes and a zombie apocalypse, and I think This is Not a Test delivers something new to the zombie genre.

This is Not a Test was very similar to Lord of the Flies, in which there is a group of teenagers stranded in a dangerous situation where the issue of leadership and power takes center stage. Unfortunately, the six characters stuck in Cortege High School during the zombie takeover are not great friends, nor do they get along too well. This leads to power struggles, which I think is a great commentary on human behavior in crisis. Sometimes the characters could be super annoying; there was a lot of crying, moping and overall helplessness and hopelessness. However, I honestly believe the majority of teenagers would act this way, so I think Courtney Summers depicted a very accurate reaction.

Our narrator is Sloane and she has had a very tough life. She's dealt with both physical and emotional abuse from her father, her mother is dead and her sister (her only friend and confidante) recently took off. So the zombie apocalypse is perfect for Sloane because she's already suicidal. It was tough to read Sloane's point-of-view because she does want to kill herself and that's an awful mindset to be in. Seeing her change throughout the novel and open up to the other students was really nice. I think she started to see the importance and meaning of life.

Some people on GoodReads complained that the book was boring because the characters are stuck in a high school for the most part. While I agree that the book isn't terribly exciting in the middle, I think it's very realistic. The students are barricaded inside and there's nothing to do, but there's still the claustrophobia of the zombies outside and the drama of living in close quarters with five other traumatized teenagers.

Overall, I really enjoyed This Is Not a Test and thought it was a gripping, harrowing read. If you like zombie books be sure to check this out!

Rating: 9 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library.

2012/St. Martin's Griffin/323 pages.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for for his family. The only thing of value he has is something he can't sell - the thick silver cuffs he's worn since birth. They're clearly magicked - as he grows, they grow, and he's never been able to get them off.

One day Han and his clan friend, Dancer, confront three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to keep him from using it against them. Soon Han learns that the amulet has an evil history - it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.

Meanwhile, Raisa ana’Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She’s just returning to court after three years of freedom in the mountains - riding, hunting, and working the famous clan markets. Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea - the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But her mother has other plans for her - including marriage to a suitor who goes against everything the queendom stands for.

The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Han and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards. (from GoodReads)

I've had this book on my shelf for over two years - and I got it signed by the author! Sometimes I'm so bad at keeping up with series, especially since I never finished Cinda Williams Chima's first trilogy (still need to read The Dragon Heir). She's an amazing author, though, so I really need to catch up.

I was in the mood to read fantasy after finishing Falling Kingdoms, which is why I picked up The Demon King. Luckily it was such a good novel that it satisfied my fantasy-tooth. It was easy to get sucked into the world Chima has created, even though it's high fantasy.

What I liked so much about The Demon King is that the reader gets two very unique perspectives: Han and Raisa. Han is a con artist/pickpocket who lives on the streets, while Raisa is a princess. Their lives are so different, which shows the reader how different people live in The Seven Realms. The best part is when their worlds converge for a few chapters - that was so fun!

Chima has crafted a very interesting fantasy world, which even includes wizards and magic. That part is extremely important to the plot, and even involves some major plot twists. There's not much for me to say because I really enjoyed The Demon King. I think anyone who likes fantasy should definitely pick up any of Cinda Williams Chima's work - all her novels are fantastic. I just really need to catch up! The Seven Realms Series has 4 books out already and I can't wait to see what happens next.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: purchased.

2009/Disney Hyperion/506 books.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - 116

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to see what new books are going to be released.

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

When madness stalks the streets of London, no one is safe…

There’s a creepy new terror haunting modern-day London. Fresh from defeating a Jack the Ripper killer, Rory must put her new-found hunting skills to the test before all hell breaks loose…

But enemies are not always who you expect them to be and crazy times call for crazy solutions. A thrilling teen mystery. (from GoodReads)

I really enjoyed The Name of the Star, which is the first book of the Shades of London series. I loved how it was a modern retelling of Jack the Ripper so I'm definitely looking forward to see the new villain. However, I don't like the cover at all, so I hope it doesn't turn people off to the book. The Madness Underneath will be released February 26, 2013.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - 62

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Top Ten Favorite Books of 2012

1. If I Lie by Corrine Jackson
This book took me by surprise because I could not put it down. I was fascinated by Quinn's story because she endures insults and verbal abuse in order to protect a big secret. Once you discover the secret, you won't be disappointed.

2. Easy by Tammara Weber
This was my first New Adult book and I loved it! I could really relate to the protagonist because she's a college student and the romance was very steamy!

3. The Opposite of Hallejuah by Anna Jarzab
This was so different than Anna Jarzab's first novel (All Unquiet Things) and I liked it even more! It's about a girl whose older sister returns home after being a nun for 8 years.

4. Speechless by Hannah Harrington
This reminded me of If I Lie which is probably why I liked it so much. After spending much of her high school career spreading rumors, Chelsea takes a vow of silence after something she said gets a boy assaulted.

5. City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare
The fifth book in The Mortal Instruments Series and kind of a no-brainer.

6. Wings of the Wicked by Courtney Allison Moulton
I love this series so much and I can't wait for the final book to be released!

7. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
Morgan Matson write such good contemporary novels. This one is fun but will make you cry at the end!

8. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
These books are the best romances!

9. House Rules by Jodi Picoult
I'm a big fan of Jodi Picoult and enjoy all her novels immensely.

10. Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
Don't tell anyone, but I think I like The Infernal Devices better than The Mortal Instruments.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

V is For Virgin by Kelly Oram

When Val Jensen gets dumped for her decision to stay a virgin until marriage, the nasty breakup goes viral on YouTube, making her the latest internet sensation.

After days of ridicule from her peers, Val starts a school-wide campaign to rally support for her cause. She meant to make a statement, but she never dreamed the entire nation would get caught up in the controversy.

As if becoming nationally recognized as “Virgin Val” isn’t enough, Val’s already hectic life starts to spin wildly out of control when bad boy Kyle Hamilton, lead singer for the hit rock band Tralse, decides to take her abstinence as a personal challenge.

How can a girl stay true to herself when this year’s Sexiest Man Alive is doing everything in his power to win her over? (from GoodReads)

I read V is For Virgin a few months ago, so my review will not be super detailed. But I do remember that I absolutely loved it! This is the second book by Kelly Oram that I've read so far and she is a fantastic author! I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.

The story is pretty interesting - Val makes a cafeteria confession that she is a virgin and plans to stay that way. Not surprisingly, someone records it and puts it on YouTube. Instead of cowering and being embarrassed, Val decides to use this as an opportunity to start an abstinence campaign. Even though readers may not agree with Val's decisions, her reasoning is sound and I like how she thinks critically about sex (something that most teenagers don't do). I also thought it was awesome how her campaign becomes recognized nationally and Val becomes a celebrity. Luckily Val doesn't let fame go to her head and for the most part remains grounded and down-to-earth.

The biggest part of V is For Virgin is the relationship between Val and Kyle, who is the lead singer of a popular band. He wants Val but she is obviously not looking for a sexual relationship. He writes a hit song about her, which adds to Val's celebrity status. The tension between them was always sizzling and I was wondering if Val was ever going to give into Kyle's numerous charms.

Overall, V is For Virgin was a fun book about a somewhat serious and important topic. I think many readers will enjoy this book and I definitely recommend it to fans of contemporary fiction.

Rating: 9 out of 10.
FTC: ebook provided by author

2012/Bluefields/360 pages.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - 115

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to learn about new books.

Dualed by Elsie Chapman

You or your Alt? Only one will survive.

The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life.

Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she’s no longer certain that she’s the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.

Elsie Chapman's suspenseful YA debut weaves unexpected romance into a novel full of fast-paced action and thought-provoking philosophy. When the story ends, discussions will begin about this future society where every adult is a murderer and every child knows there is another out there who just might be better. (from GoodReads)

This sounds amazing!! Everyone has a twin and then you have to kill him or her in order to continue living. I'm really excited for this and I hope it's as good as I'm hoping. Dualed will be released February 26, 2013.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - 61

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Top Ten New to Me Authors I Read in 2012

1. George R.R. Martin
My brother introduced me to this series (and to the HBO show). Being such a big fan of Harry Potter, I'm surprised I hadn't come across A Song of Ice and Fire before. They are very long, but it allows for intricate plot and character development, along with excellent world-building.

2. Tammara Weber
Easy is Tammara's first New Adult novel, and the first I've read, if you can believe it. It was a great read and I can't wait to see what she comes out with next.

3. Morgan Rhodes
Morgan Rhodes is the pen name for YA author Michelle Rowan, and I just finished her novel Falling Kingdoms yesterday (which is being released today so head to your bookstore)! It's reminiscent of A Song of Ice and Fire, but not as long and definitely for teenagers.

4. Morgan Matson
I read both of her books this year, Amy and Roger's Epic Detour and Second Chance Summer. Both books are amazing and I would definitely recommend them for fans of contemporary YA.

5. Kelly Oram
I also read two of her books this year: V is For Virgin (review coming soon) and Serial Hottie. I can't believe I've waited this long because her books are so fun and usually have an interesting romance.

6. Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert is my favorite comedian and I watch his show regularly. His first book I Am America and So Can You is a few years old but I finally got around to reading it in 2012. Now I can't wait to read his recently released book!

7. Jennifer Echols
She's been around for a few years but I hadn't read anything by her until I read Such a Rush this summer and it was a great read!

8. Courtney Summers
Same goes for Courtney Summers - so many bloggers love her but I never got a chance to read any of her books until Fall for Anything. Luckily I wasn't disappointed!

9. Megan McCafferty
I've never read the Jessica Darling Series, but I know everyone really likes them. It took me forever to read Bumped but I enjoyed it a lot. Now I have to get the sequel!

10. Corrine Jackson
She is a YA debut author, which is why I haven't read anything by her. But If I Lie was so amazing that I'm going to keep my eye on this author!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power--brutally transforming their subjects' lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:

Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.

Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished--and finds himself the leader of a people's revolution centuries in the making.

Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past--and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword...

The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed? (from GoodReads)

I was really excited to read Falling Kingdoms because I haven't read a good high fantasy novel in awhile and the back cover compared this to A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. Those are some big shoes to fill! Luckily for the synopsis writer, Falling Kingdoms was a great read and I was very impressed.

Like A Song of Ice and Fire, each chapter switches point-of-view between many different characters, all living in different regions and at different socioeconomic statuses. Sometimes the characters were even enemies, making the numerous narration very interesting. You get to decide which side you agree with (unlike with a single narrator) and see all points of the issues.

The big conflict in Falling Kingdoms is between three nations: Limeros, Auranos, and Paelsia. Limeros is cold, with a rigid and austere culture, while Auranos is warm and prosperous. Paelsia’s economy is failing so they align with Limeros in order to take back wealth from Auranos. In the middle of this there is forbidden love, magic, betrayal, unwanted marriages, death and a lot of other interesting things.

I was surprised how quickly I was drawn into the world of Falling Kingdoms. I was able to understand everything because the author provided just the right amount of detail. Luckily for me, there was also plenty of action so the reader isn’t overwhelmed with description. The book is pretty long, but I couldn’t put it down so it didn’t even matter! Falling Kingdoms left off on a pretty big cliffhanger so I am certainly looking forward to the next installment. If you are a fan of fantasy, I whole-heartedly recommend this book – you will not be disappointed!!!
Release Date: December 11, 2012
FTC: sent by publisher.
Rating: 9 out of 10.
2012/Razorbill/412 pages.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Winner of The Farm!

Thanks to everyone who participated in this contest. And the winner is ...

Sara K

I've emailed you so please send me your mailing address. If I don't hear back from you by Monday (Dec 10), I'll pick another winner.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress

An action-packed tale of gowns, guys, guns–and the heroines who use them all

Set in turn of the century London, The Friday Society follows the stories of three very intelligent and talented young women, all of whom are assistants to powerful men: Cora, lab assistant; Michiko, Japanese fight assistant; and Nellie, magician's assistant. The three young women's lives become inexorably intertwined after a chance meeting at a ball that ends with the discovery of a murdered mystery man.

It's up to these three, in their own charming but bold way, to solve the murder–and the crimes they believe may be connected to it–without calling too much attention to themselves.

Set in the past but with a modern irreverent flare, this Steampunk whodunit introduces three unforgettable and very ladylike–well, relatively ladylike–heroines poised for more dangerous adventures. (from GoodReads)

I don't read much steampunk (so far The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare and Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld), but it's certainly an interesting genre. For those who don't know, it's historical fiction (usually during the Victorian era) but includes technology that is anachronistic or sometimes totally made up. The Friday Society was steampunk and a good addition to the genre.

The steampunk aspect isn't too crazy in The Friday Society, as some of the inventions are things we have now (i.e. telephones, nuclear bombs). There is some new technology, such as flying boats and powerful weapons. But they weren't too outlandish, which made the story easier to understand.

The Friday Society follows three girls: Cora, Nellie, and Michiko. The girls are extremely different and all come from different backgrounds and bring different skills to their team. They randomly meet and then start investigating murders that have been occuring throughout London. I loved the girl-power aspect to the novel because it's great to read about strong female characters.

Things I disliked: the novel read very young, almost like MG. The characters are around seventeen, but the voice just seemed younger. I would have liked it to be more mature. Also, I thought Cora and Michiko were very well-rounded and developed characters, but Nellie not so much. Cora and Michiko had their own insecurities about being a woman in a man's line of work. Nellie's main issue was trying to fend off men because she's so beautiful. She's still a nice character but I would have like there to be more to it.

The mystery aspect was nice, but it wasn't anything too exciting. The book definitely leaves room for additional storytelling so I'm curious as to if this will be a series.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
Release Date: December 6, 2012
FTC: received from publisher.

2012/Dial/440 pages.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - 114

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to learn about new books.

Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

The final book in the New York Times bestselling trilogy, perfect for fans of Battlestar Galactica and Prometheus!

Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn't the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed's former passengers aren't alone on this planet. And if they're going to stay, they'll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been for nothing.

ALMOST HOME. (from GoodReads)

I can't believe that this trilogy is almost over! I'm really curious to see what this new world will look like, especially since the first two books were spent on a spaceship. However, I'm super disappointed in the cover. Across the Universe had a beautiful cover and they keep changing and getting worse. Shades of Earth will be released January 15, 2013.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - 60

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me

1. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
I say this every other day, but I still can't believe I haven't read Insurgent yet. Any day now!

2. Shut Out by Kody Keplinger
I love Kody Keplinger but I'm behind on her books. I need to get reading!

3. America Again: Rebecoming the Greatness We Never Weren't by Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert is easily my favorite comedian. What a hilarious guy! His other book was really great so I can't wait to see what he comes up with next.

4. A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger
I love A Midsummer's Night Dream so I hope there are some fun references.

5. Rebel Heart by Moira Young
It seems like forever since I read Blood Red Road, which was an amazing novel. Can't wait to see what happens next!

6. The Story of Us by Deb Caletti
One of my favorite authors so I definitely need to read her latest book!

7. The Causal Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
I'm surprised I haven't heard of more people reading this but I really need to get it. It won't be as good as Harry Potter but I'm wondering what it will be like to read something different by J.K. Rowling.

8. The Diviners by Libba Bray
My favorite books of Libba Bray's are still The Gemma Doyle Trilogy and this is supernatural just like that! I hope it's just as good.

9. Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult
This is Jodi Picoult's first YA novel (co-written with her daughter) so I'm super excited to read it.

10. The Almost Truth by Eileen Cook
This is actually being released today! A girl who pretends to be a missing person in order to escape her life. I love books about teenage con artists.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Farm by Emily McKay

Life was different in the Before: before vampires began devouring humans in a swarm across America; before the surviving young people were rounded up and quarantined. These days, we know what those quarantines are—holding pens where human blood is turned into more food for the undead monsters, known as Ticks. Surrounded by electrical fences, most kids try to survive the Farms by turning on each other…

And when trust is a thing of the past, escape is nearly impossible.

Lily and her twin sister Mel have a plan. Though Mel can barely communicate, her autism helps her notice things no one else notices—like the portion of electrical fence that gets turned off every night. Getting across won’t be easy, but as Lily gathers what they need to escape, a familiar face appears out of nowhere, offering to help…

Carter was a schoolmate of Lily’s in the Before. Managing to evade capture until now, he has valuable knowledge of the outside world. But like everyone on the Farm, Carter has his own agenda, and he knows that behind the Ticks is an even more dangerous threat to the human race...(from GoodReads)

I was really excited to receive a copy of The Farm in the mail because I had heard good things about it and it has a great rating on GoodReads. Luckily, The Farm was just as amazing as I expected and definitely breathed new life into the vampire genre.

The beginning of The Farm was a little confusing, especially because the world Lily lives in is so different than ours, and very different than the usual apocalyptic fare we're used to. Pretty much vampires have taken over the world, and they are intelligent, fast, and powerful. But there are also these vampire/zombie hybrids called Ticks, and all they care about is feeding. There are no human characteristics to them, which I thought was a very interesting addition. So there are many threats, not even including the humans that run the farms that all teenagers are forced to reside in.

Lily also has a twin sister who is autistic that she must care for. Lily's first concern is always to protect Mel and I thought it was nice to see two sisters who love each other so much. Their trio is complete when Lily's old school friend Carter is introduced. It's nice that we occasionally get his and Mel's perspectives, even though the book is mostly about Lily. Carter's POV definitely clears up some of the questions the readers have.

The Farm is exciting, thrilling, emotional and overall a very well-written novel. There's a twist at the end that I guessed about halfway through, but other readers might still be surprised. The Farm ends on a cliffhanger and I'm so excited to see what happens. When is the next book coming out?!?

For anyone who wants to read The Farm, I'm hosting a contest that ends tomorrow (Dec 5, 8 pm EST). Click here for details!!!!

Rating: 9 out of 10.
Release Date: Dec 4, 2012
FTC: from publisher.

2012/Berkley Trade/420 pages.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Josie Griffin is Not a Vampire by Heather Swain

A hilarious take on the paranormal trend--Twilight meets The Breakfast Club!

When former good girl turned rebel Josie Griffin gets busted for what was in her mind perfectly acceptable revenge on her cheating dog of a boyfriend, she lands herself in anger management therapy. It could be worse: it could be juvie, or she could be a zombie cheerleader like the rest of her former friends. But there's something strange about therapy--these are not normal kids. There's the wannabe ladies man with a weird accent, Johann; the blindingly gorgeous Helios; Avis with his wild dreads; and Tarren, the sprite of a girl with a wicked temper. And all of them keep talking about "powers." Josie knows that has to be impossible, but strange things start happening, and nothing weird ever happens in Indiana. After all, there're no such things as vampires, werewolves, Greek gods, or fairies . . . right? (from GoodReads)

I thought that Josie Griffin is Not a Vampire was a cute read, though I'm not sure I would categorize it as "Twilight meets The Breakfast Club." In the beginning, it was actually really funny. Josie had some great one-liners and I was excited to keep reading. As the book continued there weren't as many funny moments, which was a little sad.

I did like Josie as a character. She starts out angry and upset because her boyfriend cheated on her with her best friend, while her other friend kept it a secret. How awful is that! So Josie doesn't have any friends anymore until she starts her anger management therapy. What she is surprised to find is that she is in a group for paranormal creatures! No one knows she's human so she pretends she's a vampire/werewolf hybrid (sounds like The Vampire Diaries) without powers.

In addition to group therapy, Josie has to participate in community service. She gets placed at a home for runaway girls, but she finds that something sinister is going on there. The girls are disappearing one by one, and she's sure it is paranormal in nature. It was fun seeing Josie trying to figure out what was going on and I liked that she cared so much about the girls that she decided to help them.

What I thought was hilarious is that Josie's ex-boyfriend fancies himself a demon hunter and drives around in an Impala... pretty sure the author is a fan of Supernatural.

Overall, Josie Griffin in Not a Vampire wasn't anything spectacular but it was a cute read. If you're looking for something super light and quick, this is definitely a good choice.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: sent by publisher

2012/Speak/272 pages.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Giveaway: The Farm by Emily McKay

I'm so glad to be hosting another contest, this one for the 2012 YA debut The Farm!! I've already read it and it was amazing! So please enter the contest because The Farm is seriously worth reading. The book will be released Dec 4 so this is your opportunity to get a free copy!!!

For those who don't know what it's about, here's a synopsis:

Life was different in the Before: before vampires began devouring humans in a swarm across America; before the surviving young people were rounded up and quarantined. These days, we know what those quarantines are—holding pens where human blood is turned into more food for the undead monsters, known as Ticks. Surrounded by electrical fences, most kids try to survive the Farms by turning on each other…

And when trust is a thing of the past, escape is nearly impossible.

Lily and her twin sister Mel have a plan. Though Mel can barely communicate, her autism helps her notice things no one else notices—like the portion of electrical fence that gets turned off every night. Getting across won’t be easy, but as Lily gathers what they need to escape, a familiar face appears out of nowhere, offering to help…

Carter was a schoolmate of Lily’s in the Before. Managing to evade capture until now, he has valuable knowledge of the outside world. But like everyone on the Farm, Carter has his own agenda, and he knows that behind the Ticks is an even more dangerous threat to the human race... (from GoodReads)

Contest Rules:
Ends December 5 at 8 pm EST.
Open to US residents only.
Extra entries are available.

Waiting on Wednesday - 113

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to get excited about upcoming books.

Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter

Katarina Bishop and W.W. Hale the fifth were born to lead completely different lives: Kat comes from a long, proud line of lovable criminal masterminds, while Hale is the scion of one of the most seemingly perfect dynasties in the world. If their families have one thing in common, it’s that they both know how to stay under the radar while getting - or stealing - whatever they want.

No matter the risk, the Bishops can always be counted on, but in Hale’s family, all bets are off when money is on the line. When Hale unexpectedly inherits his grandmother’s billion dollar corporation, he quickly learns that there’s no place for Kat and their old heists in his new role. But Kat won’t let him go that easily, especially after she gets tipped off that his grandmother’s will might have been altered in an elaborate con to steal the company’s fortune. So instead of being the heir - this time, Hale might be the mark.

Forced to keep a level head as she and her crew fight for one of their own, Kat comes up with an ambitious and far-reaching plan that only the Bishop family would dare attempt. To pull it off, Kat is prepared to do the impossible, but first, she has to decide if she’s willing to save her boyfriend’s company if it means losing the boy. (from GoodReads)

I absolutely adore the Heist Society series so I'm super excited to see what happens next! Perfect Scoundrels will be released February 5, 2013.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - 59

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Top Ten Books I'm Pining For in 2013

1. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
I am seriously dying to know how this trilogy turns out. I think I even like it more than The Mortal Instruments!!

2. Shadows in the Silence by Courtney Allison Moulton
Another conclusion to a fantasy series and I want to know if Ellie is able to save Will!

3. Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter
I absolutely adored the first two books in this series so I hope the author continues to write. I can't get enough of teenage art thiefs and con artists.

4. Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
I'm so excited to read this book by fellow blogger Lenore! I'm sure it's amazing.

5. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
These books are always so cute and Stephanie Perkins really knows how to write romance!

6. Requiem by Lauren Oliver
So many trilogies are ending in 2013. Pandemonium left off on such a cliffhanger and I can't wait to see how it is resolved.

7. My Suicide Playlist by Leila Sales
Leila Sales is a hilarious writer and I can't wait to see how funny this is! Unfortunately there is no definite release date or cover yet.

8. Dualed by Elsie Chapman
I just heard of this today, but it takes place in the future where everyone has a twin raised separately and you have to fight to the death to see who gets to live. That sounds like an awesome plot.

9. How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Summer, romance and a road trip? Sign me up!

10. Slated by Teri Terry
In Slated if you are deemed a criminal your memory is erased. That sounds awful but it makes for a good story!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - 112

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to get excited about upcoming books.

Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown

Ashleigh's boyfriend, Kaleb, is about to leave for college, and Ashleigh is worried that he'll forget about her while he's away. So at a legendary end-of-summer pool party, Ashleigh's friends suggest she text him a picture of herself -- sans swimsuit -- to take with him. Before she can talk herself out of it, Ashleigh strides off to the bathroom, snaps a photo in the full-length mirror, and hits "send."

But when Kaleb and Ashleigh go through a bad breakup, Kaleb takes revenge by forwarding the text to his baseball team. Soon the photo has gone viral, attracting the attention of the school board, the local police, and the media. As her friends and family try to distance themselves from the scandal, Ashleigh feels completely alone -- until she meets Mack while serving her court-ordered community service. Not only does Mack offer a fresh chance at friendship, but he's the one person in town who received the text of Ashleigh's photo -- and didn't look.

Acclaimed author Jennifer Brown brings readers a gripping novel about honesty and betrayal, redemption and friendship, attraction and integrity, as Ashleigh finds that while a picture may be worth a thousand words . . . it doesn't always tell the whole story. (from GoodReads)

I think Thousand Words sounds really interesting. There are always stories in the news about these viral texts ... I think one even went around my high school. Sometimes people don't realize how damaging they can be and I'm curious to see what happens in this book! Thousand Words will be released May 21, 2013

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - 58

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Top Ten Books & Authors I'm Thankful For

1. J.K. Rowling
For writing the one of the most amazing book series that defined my childhood. Thanks for giving me something to look forward to every few years (books and movies)!!!!

2. Cassandra Clare
I absolutely adore her novels but I love her tumblr too. I love how she reaches out to her readers daily and is always providing snippets of her books and answering questions! She has such a great relationship with her fans.

3. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
I'm thankful that Uglies was the first to really get me into dystopian literature. Now it's my favorite genre!

4. The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Giver was one of the first books to make me think! That's the most important part of reading.

5. Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales
This book is hilarious and I still laugh every time I read it. I know I can pick it up if I'm having a bad day.

6. Suzanne Collins
I'm glad she wrote an awesome book series that got a lot of people into reading and that entertained those who already love to read.

7. John Green
Like Cassandra, he also has a wonderful relationship with his fans. We need more authors like him! Plus his books are amazing as well.

8. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Thank you for writing a book about sexual abuse for girls to turn to. I'm sure it helped a lot of young adults.

9. The Babysitter's Club Series by Ann M. Martin
For inspiring me to become a babysitter! They make good money hahah.

10. Any author on the Banned Books List
 Thank you for writing thought-provoking books and for continuing to write!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Secrets of My Hollywood Life by Jen Calonita

What if... Your picture was taped inside teenage boys' lockers across America, your closets were bursting with never-worn designer clothing, and the tabloids constantly asked whether you were losing your "good girl" status?

It's a glamorous life, but sixteen-year-old Kaitlin Burke, costar of one of the hottest shows on TV, is exhausted from the pressures of fame. Then she hits on an outrageously daring solution, one that has to remain top secret or it will jeopardize everything she's ever worked for. (from GoodReads)

So Secrets of My Hollywood Life has been on my bookshelf for almost four years now. I finally got around to reading it! I'm kinda mad I waited this long because it was actually really good but now I'm so behind in the series.

Many people have wondered what it's like being famous, and in Secrets of My Hollywood Life we get a taste of that. The way Jen Calonita portrayed Kaitlin and the life of a teen star seemed pretty realistic. She has to deal with crazy parents, overbearing manager and a hectic schedule but she also gets perks such as free clothes and invites to all the premieres. However, Kaitlin (like most people) wants what she doesn't have and decides to enroll at a high school and be a normal girl.

I knew all this going into the book, but I had no idea that she actually wore a disguise! That seemed a little over the top but I love She's the Man, so I went along with it. The fact that Kaitlin is pretending to be someone else is hilarious and adds a few laughs to the story. This book is a few years old and it was so funny hearing Kaitlin rave about the Sidekick. I remember when those were big! Now she'd have the iPhone 5.

Secrets of My Hollywood Life was pretty light and fun, but I really enjoyed it. I didn't think I'd want to continue the series at first, but now I'm looking forward to reading the next book. I better get started - this series has 6!

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: birthday gift.

2007/Poppy/256 pages.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Easy by Tammara Weber

A girl who believes trust can be misplaced, promises are made to be broken, and loyalty is an illusion. A boy who believes truth is relative, lies can mask unbearable pain, and guilt is eternal. Will what they find in each other validate their conclusions, or disprove them all?

When Jacqueline follows her longtime boyfriend to the college of his choice, the last thing she expects is a breakup two months into sophomore year. After two weeks in shock, she wakes up to her new reality: she's single, attending a state university instead of a music conservatory, ignored by her former circle of friends, and failing a class for the first time in her life.

Leaving a party alone, Jacqueline is assaulted by her ex's frat brother. Rescued by a stranger who seems to be in the right place at the right time, she wants nothing more than to forget the attack and that night--but her savior, Lucas, sits on the back row of her econ class, sketching in a notebook and staring at her. Her friends nominate him to be the perfect rebound.

When her attacker turns stalker, Jacqueline has a choice: crumple in defeat or learn to fight back. Lucas remains protective, but he's hiding secrets of his own. Suddenly appearances are everything, and knowing who to trust is anything but easy. (from GoodReads)

Wow!!!! This book was amazing! It's also the first book I've read that is "New Adult" so it was almost weird that the main character is in college. I can definitely relate to that.

Unlike the title, Easy is not always easy to read. In the first few pages, Jacqueline is assaulted and almost raped. It's a tough scene, because you feel Jacqueline's fear and desperation. Luckily she is a very strong character and learns to fight back through self-defense classes. Reading about assault in fiction was very interesting because I am an RA, so this is the kind of thing I might have to deal with. I really hope I don't, but it was nice to get into the mindset of Jacqueline so I can learn how to relate to victims of sexual assault.

Jacqueline is thankfully rescued during her assault by our main romantic figure, Lucas. Lucas is one of those love interests that ruins real men for readers. He was such an awesome character. He had his own secrets, but he cared so much about Jacqueline and it was really sweet. A lot of their relationship is physical, but they also seem compatible personality wise, as well.

Since this is the first New Adult book I've read, it was probably one of the first where the protagonist is in college. It was pretty cool because her school seems similar to mine and I could relate to a lot of things (classes, finals, studying, etc). It was nice reading about a character that's actually my age and I really hope that more books are written about this genre.

Overall, Easy was not the easiest book to read, but it was definitely engaging and hard to put down. I'm definitely going to watch out for Tammara Weber's other novels because she is a great writer!

Rating: 10 out of 10.
FTC: sent by publisher.

2012/Berkley/304 pages.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - 111

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to see what new books are going to be published.

Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland

For Cricket Thompson, a summer like this one will change everything. A summer spent on Nantucket with her best friend, Jules Clayton, and the indomitable Clayton family. A summer when she’ll make the almost unattainable Jay Logan hers. A summer to surpass all dreams.

Some of this turns out to be true. Some of it doesn’t.

When Jules and her family suffer a devastating tragedy that forces the girls apart, Jules becomes a stranger whom Cricket wonders whether she ever really knew. And instead of lying on the beach working on her caramel-colored tan, Cricket is making beds and cleaning bathrooms to support herself in paradise for the summer.

But it’s the things Cricket hadn’t counted on--most of all, falling hard for someone who should be completely off-limits--that turn her dreams into an exhilarating, bittersweet reality.

A beautiful future is within her grasp, and Cricket must find the grace to embrace it. If she does, her life could be the perfect shade of Nantucket blue. (from GoodReads)

I love books about the summer, especially ones that take place at the beach! I hope the romance is as good as it sounds. Nantucket Blue will be released May 7, 2013.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - 57

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Top Ten Books I Would Want on a Deserted Island

1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Yes, I'm taking all seven and counting it as one. I could read these over and over again so it would be perfect for a deserted island.

2. Heist Society by Ally Carter
I will be able to imagine myself jet-setting across the world while I'm actually stuck on an island.

3. Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales
This book makes me laugh every time I read it, so it'll keep me happy.

4. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
I've already read this but it's so long that it will keep me occupied for a good amount of time.

5. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Another long one! But I've never read it so it will probably take even longer.

6. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I'll be able to relate to Katniss in the arena because I'll be in the wilderness too.

7. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
I know it's not out yet but I really want to know how this trilogy ends! I wish it was going to be released sooner.

8. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
This book is so much fun and will take my mind off my lonliness.

9. Divergent by Veronica Roth
I will definitely need some of Tris's bravery.

10. Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
I will need some good romance since I'll be all alone on this island.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Serial Hottie by Kelly Oram

Hockey-obsessed tomboy Eleanor Westley has never been the object of a guy's affection before. So when the hottest boy she's ever seen moves in across the street and starts treating her like she's the center of his universe, naturally she's going to be a little skeptical. But everything starts to make sense when girls who look just like Ellie start dying all around the city. Obviously the new guy is the killer, and of course he only likes her because he wants to slice her into tiny pieces. Right? The more Ellie gets to know Seth the more she's convinced he's a psychopathic killer. Problem is, he's the sweetest psychopathic killer she's ever met. Not to mention he's brutally hot. No matter how hard she tries, she can't help but fall for him. Will Ellie find true love, or will her summer of firsts turn out to be a summer of lasts? (from GoodReads)

I was excited to read Serial Hottie because I thought it sounded different from other books I've recently read. It also seemed so relatable. Many people (including me) have probably observed their neighbors and found out some interesting things. However, most people don't think their neighbor is a serial killer, so that's what made Serial Hottie so unique.

The thing about Seth, who is the potential love interest/mass murderer, is that he's actually creepy! He takes an unhealthy interest in Ellie and seems to be obsessed with her. He also has a knife collection, reads about serial killers and is an expert in self-defense. Seth's character was bordering on being too weird, even if he wasn't the killer. The thing about Seth that makes him easier to stomach is that he had early-life trauma and might have a personality disorder. So his heart is in the right place most the of the time and with some therapy, he might actually be able to tone it down. What's interesting that we just started personality disorders in my abnormal psych class, so in a few days I might be able to figure out with one Seth fits into.

Ellie is now one of my favorite female characters! I love that she is a tomboy who doesn't mind playing rough with the boys. She was definitely a good match for Seth's intensity because she's just as quick to throw a punch as any guy. Ellie was also hilarious and there were times where I found myself laughing out loud at some of things that occur in Serial Hottie.

The mystery was one of the best parts, especially trying to figure out if it was Seth. Serial killers have to have neighbors somewhere, so you never know what the people next door may be getting into.

Serial Hottie is one of those books you want to immediately reread as soon as you finish. Though I wish Seth wasn't as intense and creepy, it was definitely a change from the Gary Stus we're sometimes subjected to. For those who want something different in their YA, I definitely recommend Serial Hottie!

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: ebook sent by author.

2012/Bluefields/374 pages.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Plague Year by Edward Bloor

It's 2001 and zombies have taken over Tom's town. Meth zombies. The drug rips through Blackwater, PA, with a ferocity and a velocity that overwhelms everyone.

It starts small, with petty thefts of cleaning supplies and Sudafed from the supermarket where Tom works. But by year's end there will be ruined, hollow people on every street corner. Meth will unmake the lives of friends and teachers and parents. It will fill the prisons, and the morgues.

Tom's always been focused on getting out of his depressing coal mining town, on planning his escape to a college somewhere sunny and far away. But as bits of his childhood erode around him, he finds it's not so easy to let go. With the selfless heroism of the passengers on United Flight 93 that crashed nearby fresh in his mind and in his heart, Tom begins to see some reasons to stay, to see that even lost causes can be worth fighting for.

Edward Bloor has created a searing portrait of a place and a family and a boy who survive a harrowing plague year, and become stronger than before. (from GoodReads)

Back in 7th grade I read Tangerine by Edward Bloor and it remains one of my favorite novels. So when I had the chance to read something else by this author, I was super excited. I hadn't read any of Edward Bloor's work since then. A Plague Year seemed like it would be an interesting choice.

When I first started A Plague Year I wasn't sure what to expect. I had no idea if the "zombies" were just a metaphor for people on drugs or if there were going to be actual zombies caused by meth (sort of like science fiction). Once I got halfway through the book and nothing was actually happening did I realize that the term "zombies" was just a metaphor.

A Plague Year is written like a journal, with Tom narrating his freshman year of high school during 2001. Obviously 9/11 plays a pretty big part, especially since Tom lives in Pennsylvania near where United 93 crashed. I really enjoyed reading about Tom and even though nothing much happened the writing was still good.

The synopsis makes it seem like there is going to major crisis caused by meth. And while some periphery characters get caught up in the drug, it always felt like it was at a distance. Drug use and abuse is a huge theme in A Plague Year: many people in Tom's life have used drugs (not meth) like alcohol and pot. Tom even attends drug counseling meetings at school even though he doesn't have a problem. Leaving out the meth, I thought the book did a good job of showing how anyone can be affected by drugs, even those not using. I think A Plague Year should have focused on that and not the meth.

I also thought that things could have been better developed. The characters could have been more fleshed out and the plot just kind of ends. I would have liked more resolution. Other than that, I still enjoyed A Plague Year and definitely want to look out for more of Edward Bloor's work.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: received from Random Buzzers

2011/Knopf Books for Young Readers/296 pages.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - 110

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to see what new books are on the horizon.

Shadows in the Silence by Courtney Allison Moulton

Your strength in heart and hand will fall. . . .
Ellie knows that the darkest moments are still to come, and she has everything to fight for:

She must fight for Will.
The demonic have resorted to their cruelest weapons to put Will in mortal danger, and Ellie makes an unlikely alliance to save him and to stop Lilith and Sammael, who seek to drown the world in blood and tear a hole into Heaven.

She must fight for humanity.
As the armies of Hell rise and gather for the looming End of Days, Ellie and her band of allies travel to the world’s darkest and most ancient regions in her quest to come into her full glory as the archangel Gabriel.

And Ellie must save herself.
Her humanity withers beneath the weight of her cold archangel power, but Ellie must hold tight to who she is and who she loves as she prepares for the ultimate battle for Heaven and Earth.

In this final installment in the Angelfire trilogy, Courtney Allison Moulton brings her dark world of epic battles and blistering romance to a blazing bright conclusion. (from GoodReads)

The Angelfire Trilogy is one of my favorite series. Really, these books are amazing! They're exciting and well-detailed, and the romance is actually believable. I am so excited to see how everything ends. Shadows in the Silence will be released January 29, 2013.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - 56

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Freebie: Top Ten Classic Novels

1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
This is probably my favorite classic! It's on the long side but it's a very interesting and well-written story. There's even a forbidden romance!

2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I know this is the quintessential romance novel but it's the beginning of it all! I love Mr. Darcy, as well.

3. Macbeth by William Shakespeare
I think Shakespeare is wonderful and this is definitely one of his top plays. I love all the court intrigue and plotting.

4. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
No matter what kind of reader you are, many people cite this as one of their favorite books (my sister included!). It's surprisingly easy to read and the story is timeless.

5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Just like with some of the other books on this list, many people love To Kill a Mockingbird and I do as well!

6. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
It's so long but if you have the stamina I would definitely recommend Gone With the Wind for fans of historical fiction!

7. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
I absolutely adore the movie and the book is just as good!

8. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
This one doesn't get much love but it's such a good book. It's short and fairly easy to read, and also features a forbidden romance.

9. The Cather in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Another fan favorite - I had to include it on my list.

10. The Diary of Anne Frank
I read this in 8th grade (so long ago) but I remember really enjoying it!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin

Tessa Russo is the mother of two young children and the wife of a renowned pediatric surgeon. Despite her own mother's warnings, Tessa has recently given up her career to focus on her family and the pursuit of domestic happiness. From the outside, she seems destined to live a charmed life.

Valerie Anderson is an attorney and single mother to six-year-old Charlie--a boy who has never known his father. After too many disappointments, she has given up on romance--and even to some degree, friendships--believing that it is always safer not to expect too much.

Although both women live in the same Boston suburb, the two have relatively little in common aside from a fierce love for their children. But one night, a tragic accident causes their lives to converge in ways no one could have imagined.

In alternating, pitch-perfect points of view, Emily Giffin creates a moving, luminous story of good people caught in untenable circumstances. Each being tested in ways they never thought possible. Each questioning everything they once believed. And each ultimately discovering what truly matters most. (from GoodReads)

I absolutely adored Something Borrowed (also written by Emily Giffin) and the movie, so I was super excited to read something else by this author. Heart of the Matter wasn't quite as good, but I still enjoyed it a lot.

I didn't realize that Heart of the Matter was going to be about cheating again, but I find this to be an interesting topic. For many people it's a deal-breaker, but on the other hand so many people take back their significant other after they've cheated. Another dimension to this is the type of cheating. Most people consider cheating to be doing something physical with another person. But what about emotional cheating? Which is worse? We talked about this in my English class after reading Ethan Frome, which deals with emotional cheating.

Heart of the Matter switches point-of-view between Tessa and Valerie. Tessa is the wife of Nick, a pediatric surgeon, who is having an affair with Valerie. Getting both sides made it tough to pick which was "right" because I sympathized with both Tessa and Valerie. In Something Borrowed, we only get Rachel's perspective and it is colored by the fact that Darcy is not a nice person most of the book. In Something Borrowed, the cheating seemed more acceptable because no one was married or had any kids yet. It kind of made it easier to stomach.

The only person I didn't like was Nick. He had to be one of the most selfish people I've ever read about. If you want to cheat on your wife, that's one thing, but he would forgo spending time with his kids to be with Valerie. He spend more time with her and her son than his own family, which I just thought was awful. Also, Valerie's son was Nick's patient, so the affair was extremely unethical in addition to being morally wrong.

I was so excited to see Rachel and Dex return, because they're one of my favorite couples. It just so happens that Tessa and Dex are siblings. Rachel and Dex have the perfect marriage, which is commented on by every person. It's almost sickeningly sweet. It would have been better if there was something going on to show that they are not a perfect couple, but since we didn't get their POV, there was no additional information.

Overall I really did enjoy Heart of the Matter, especially that it tried to describe the different aspects and perspectives of cheating. It can be a gray area at times, and I liked seeing that addressed. Emily Giffin is a really good writer and I'm looking forward to reading more of her work.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: bought used.

2010/St. Martin's Press/368 pages.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - 109

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to see what new books are going to be released.

Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood by Abby McDonald

Hallie and Grace Weston have never exactly seen life eye to eye. So when their father dies and leaves everything to his new wife, forcing the girls to pack up and leave San Francisco for a relative’s house in shiny Beverly Hills, the two sisters take to their changing lot in typically different styles. Shy, responsible Grace manages to make friends with an upbeat, enterprising girl named Palmer but still yearns for her old life — and the maybe-almost-crush she left behind. Meanwhile, drama queen Hallie is throwing herself headlong into life — and love — in L.A., spending every second with gorgeous musician Dakota and warding off the attention of brooding vet Brandon. But is Hallie blinded by the stars in her eyes? And is Grace doomed to forever hug the sidelines? (from Goodreads)
I love Jane Austen so I'm looking forward to see what the author does. Plus, Abby McDonald is a great writer! Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood will be released April 9, 2013.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - 55

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Top Ten Kick-Ass Heroines

1. Hermione Granger
She's practically a genius and pretty much saves Harry and Ron a few times every book.

2. Katniss Everdeen
She won the Hunger Games and is very handy with a bow and arrow. Need I say more?

3. Tris from Divergent
This girl is fearless! I would never be able to do all the crazy stuff she does, nor would I pick the same faction.

4. Kat Bishop from Heist Society
She's fluent in several languages and knows how to break into musuems to steal priceless art. Pretty kick-ass.

5. Ellie from Angelfire
Ellie is an angel who fights reapers and demons in her spare time.

6. Clary Fray from The Mortal Instruments
She is thrown into the Shadowhunter world but is able to hold her own against vampires, demons, and even her evil father. She also has the ability to create new runes, which is pretty awesome.

7. Tessa Gray from The Infernal Devices
While she may not be a physically tough as Clary, she can Shapeshift and uses this talent to try to save the world.

8. Lena from Delirium
She leaves her life behind and starts a tougher one in the wild because she believes in love.

9. Saba from Blood Red Road
For most of the book she's on the run, but she also is forced into ring fighting where she kicks butt. I can't wait to read the next book!

10. Violet from The Body Finder
She's kick-ass because she finds dead bodies regularly and still keeps going. I don't know if I could do that.