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.