Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - 122

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

Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza

Mila 2.0 is the first book in an electrifying sci-fi thriller series about a teenage girl who discovers that she is an experiment in artificial intelligence.

Mila was never meant to learn the truth about her identity. She was a girl living with her mother in a small Minnesota town. She was supposed to forget her past —that she was built in a secret computer science lab and programmed to do things real people would never do.

Now she has no choice but to run—from the dangerous operatives who want her terminated because she knows too much and from a mysterious group that wants to capture her alive and unlock her advanced technology. However, what Mila’s becoming is beyond anyone’s imagination, including her own, and it just might save her life.

Mila 2.0 is Debra Driza’s bold debut and the first book in a Bourne Identity–style trilogy that combines heart-pounding action with a riveting exploration of what it really means to be human. Fans of I Am Number Four will love Mila for who she is and what she longs to be—and a cliffhanger ending will leave them breathlessly awaiting the sequel. (from GoodReads)

I love The Bourne movies so this sounds really exciting! And it's a 2013 debut!! Mila 2.0 will be released March 12, 2013.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - 67

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

Top Ten Most Frustrating Characters Ever

1. Bella Swan - Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Obviously she is number one for many reasons, but her whole world revolves around her unhealthy relationship with Edward and she just isn't that likable.

2. Dolores Umbridge - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Umbridge is one of the worst villains; I seriously hated her in this book. She's even seems worse than Voldemort, which is really saying something.

3. Delilah - Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer
Delilah was annoying because she was obsessed with a book and with a fairy tale character. She was so obsessed that he neglected her mother and friends in order to talk to him through the book.

4. Will Herondale - Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
I love Will, but I really wanted him to tell everyone his secret. I hate how everyone in the book thinks he's a jerk because he has to act that way. So frustrating!

5. Nora - Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Nora is another Mary Sue character like Bella. Her life is based on her relationship with Patch, who isn't always the most loving boyfriend.

6. Dr. Frankenstein - Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Dr. Frankenstein was so annoying. I even wrote an essay on how everything that happens in the novel is his fault and how he complains rather than fixes his problems. What a self-centered character.

7. Mr. Collins - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
A lot of people have him on their list, and for good reason too. He's so annoying and doesn't even realize it. Luckily, it was pretty humorous reading about him.

8. Kieran - Spark by Amy Kathleen Ryan
Kieran was okay in the first novel, but in the sequel his character is paranoid, self-centered, and pretty narcissistic. So many issues could have been avoided if he didn't have such a vendetta against Seth.

9. Wren - Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara
I sympathized with Wren but there are times when you want to yell "snap out of it!" at her. I know she's depressed, but it doesn't give her an excuse to be rude to all the people she cares about.

10. Cathy & Heathcliff - Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
This characters are known for being the least likable and sympathetic in literature, so I thought it was appropriate to include them in this list.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara

A resonant debut novel about retreating from the world after losing everything—and the connections that force you to rejoin it.

Since the night of the crash, Wren Wells has been running away. Though she lived through the accident that killed her boyfriend Patrick, the girl she used to be didn’t survive. Instead of heading off to college as planned, Wren retreats to her father’s studio in the far-north woods of Maine. Somewhere she can be alone.

Then she meets Cal Owen. Dealing with his own troubles, Cal’s hiding out too. When the chemistry between them threatens to pull Wren from her hard-won isolation, Wren has to choose: risk opening her broken heart to the world again, or join the ghosts who haunt her. (from GoodReads)

I think the title and cover really reflect the novel - the setting is lovely, while grief is dark and deep. It's very indicative of Wren's state of mind through Lovely, Dark and Deep, a book which I'm happy to say I enjoyed very much.

Reading about a main character dealing with depression and loss is extremely tough, especially in first person. Amy McNamara does not hold back at all when depicting Wren's emotions and her coping methods for dealing with the accident. Wren's reaction to Patrick's death is to draw back from everyone and she goes on long runs to clear her head. Since Wren is going through so much, she comes across as selfish and annoying. She would not be someone I would want to live with. But, I thought her reactions were realistic, especially since everyone deals with death differently.

An important part of the story is Wren's love interest Cal. He has MS, making him just as "damaged" as Wren. Normally it would seem like two people with their own issues shouldn't start a romantic relationship, because they are both trying to heal. But in this case I thought they were good for each other. Cal grounded Wren and gave her purpose and helped to bring her back to life.

Even though the plot of Lovely, Dark and Deep is pretty slow, the 300+ pages fly by. I was actually surprised when I got to the end because I could have kept reading longer. The setting really makes this novel - and I would never guess that the dark winter of Maine would be appealing at all. I don't like the cold, but the brisk air and bare trees seemed like a metaphor for Wren's feelings, which was very appropriate.

Overall, I thought Lovely, Dark and Deep was a great study of how a person might deal with depression, and the ways in which they might heal, as well. If you're into angst, this is the novel for you!

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: read on Pulse It

2012/Simon & Schuster/352 pages.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting

In the end, all that’s left is an echo.

Violet kept her morbid ability to sense dead bodies a secret from everyone except her family and her childhood-best-friend-turned-boyfriend, Jay Heaton. That is until forensic psychologist Sara Priest discovered Violet’s talent and invited her to use her gift to track down murderers. Now, as she works with an eclectic group of individuals—including mysterious and dangerously attractive Rafe—it’s Violet’s job to help those who have been murdered by bringing their killers to justice.

When Violet discovers the body of a college girl killed by “the girlfriend collector” she is determined to solve the case. But now the serial killer is on the lookout for a new “relationship” and Violet may have caught his eye... (from GoodReads)

I am really enjoying this series and was excited to see that it's going to be longer than just a trilogy - the fourth book, Dead Silence, will be released this year.

The concept of The Body Finder series is so chilling; even after three books that fact that Violet can sense dead bodies and murderers is still super creepy. But I must say, it makes for great reading. In The Last Echo, Violet has started working with a team of psychics in order to help the police solve baffling crimes. It was nice to see Violet actively use her ability for good; in the previous novels she would accidentally stumble upon cases and then try to help the police. Also it was good for Violet to be around people like her and in The Last Echo you could see her open up more to the other members of the team.

The villain in The Last Echo is so creepy and I loved his chapters the best! Getting inside his mind and seeing how he thinks was extremely interesting, especially for me as a psychology major. Kimberly Derting is so good at writing scenes that make your skin crawl.

I wish we could have seen more of Violet's school friends and her boyfriend Jay - they were lacking in this book. Potential love interest Rafe definitely had a bigger role and I can't tell if I enjoy the love triangle or not. I like Rafe but Jay and Violet work so well together that I hope the author doesn't mess that up.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Last Echo and the rest of the series as well. If you like thrillers definitely pick this up. You won't be disappointed.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library.

2012/HarperCollins/360 pages.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer

What happens when happily ever after... isn’t?

Delilah is a bit of a loner who prefers spending her time in the school library with her head in a book—one book in particular. Between the Lines may be a fairy tale, but it feels real. Prince Oliver is brave, adventurous, and loving. He really speaks to Delilah.

And then one day Oliver actually speaks to her. Turns out, Oliver is more than a one-dimensional storybook prince. He’s a restless teen who feels trapped by his literary existence and hates that his entire life is predetermined. He’s sure there’s more for him out there in the real world, and Delilah might just be his key to freedom.

Delilah and Oliver work together to attempt to get Oliver out of his book, a challenging task that forces them to examine their perceptions of fate, the world, and their places in it. And as their attraction to each other grows along the way, a romance blossoms that is anything but a fairy tale. (from GoodReads)

I was so excited that Jodi Picoult was coming out with a YA novel - I love her adult fiction and hoped she would be just as amazing with a younger audience. I didn't know that she wrote this book with her teenage daughter - and it definitely shows. 

Between the Lines is supposed to be YA, but reads more like Middle Grade. Delilah is 15 and is an immature 15-year-old at that. She is obsessed with a fairy tale and is surprised when the protagonist, Prince Oliver, starts talking to her. This story line is something I would have really enjoyed in early middle school or maybe even younger (for those who are advanced readers).

I think that was my biggest problem with the book - that I was nowhere near the target audience but I was lead to believe that I was. Between the Lines had none of the depth, character or plot development that I've come to expect from a Jodi Picoult novel. Delilah falls in love with a book character and while many readers have been in that situation (myself included), I thought it was unrealistic that Delilah would give up everything - her mom, her best friends - for Oliver.

I think Between the Lines would be perfect for the 10-14 age range, especially with the beautiful illustrations. If you're older, you may feel underwhelmed by the simplicity.

Rating: 6 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library.

2012/Simon Pulse/358 pages.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - 121

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers who want to see what new books are coming out soon.

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

In the darkest places, even love is deadly.

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father's gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father's madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island's inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius—and madness—in her own blood.

Inspired by H. G. Wells's classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman's Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we'll do anything to know and the truths we'll go to any lengths to protect. (from GoodReads)

This sounds so creepy and it seems like a mix of historical and science fiction. I can't wait to get my hands on this debut! The Madman's Daughter will be released January 29, 2013.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - 66

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

Top Ten Settings I'd Like to See More Of

1. The Beach
I love books that take place during the summer - so much potential - and the shore setting is always the best. It's so romantic and there's plenty for the characters to do!

2. The French Revolution
Reading A Tale of Two Cities reminded me how fascinating this time period is and now I'm wondering why more historical fiction isn't set here.

3. The Titanic/Other Ships
I guess the Titanic is pretty cliche but it's definitely one of my favorite settings. Or a boat in general would be cool, especially since all the characters are stuck in one place, which could be interesting.

4. Philadelphia
This is the city closest to me, so I'd love more books set here!

5. Summer Camp
Reading Sleepaway Girls definitely gave the beach a run for its money as reigning awesome summer setting. There's just as much storytelling potential and there's so much to do there!

6. Roaring 1920s
I love history and this has to be one of best eras. It was before the Great Depression, the economy was booming, and life seemed to be so much fun.

7. London
I've actually been here, so I'd be able to recognize the landmarks! Plus it will be a way for me to return there without actually leaving my room.

8. Hollywood
I think reading a book about a movie star would be pretty interesting.

9. Tudor England
The market is flooded with these novels but I can't get enough of them!

10. Early 20th Century England
I watching Downton Abbey right now so I'm in the mood for some classy British aristocracy. The drama is set in the time around WWI, which isn't usually written about in YA.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

'Liberty, equality, fraternity, or death; -- the last, much the easiest to bestow, O Guillotine!'

After eighteen years as a political prisoner in the Bastille, the ageing Doctor Manette is finally released and reunited with his daughter in England. There the lives of two very different men, Charles Darnay, an exiled French aristocrat, and Sydney Carton, a disreputable but brilliant English lawyer, become enmeshed through their love for Lucie Manette. From the tranquil roads of London, they are drawn against their will to the vengeful, bloodstained streets of Paris at the height of the Reign of Terror, and they soon fall under the lethal shadow of La Guillotine.

This edition uses the text as it appeared in its serial publication in 1859 to convey the full scope of Dickens's vision, and includes the original illustrations by H. K. Browne ('Phiz'). Richard Maxwell's introduction discusses the intricate interweaving of epic drama with personal tragedy. (from GoodReads)

I finally finished A Tale of Two Cities! I've been "reading" it since the summer, meaning that I started it then and haven't touched it since. Luckily it was on GoodReads for free, which is pretty awesome.

It's hard for me to judge classics because we all know they are magnificent works of literature, but sometimes it's hard for modern readers to enjoy them. At least it is for me. When I have to actually work to read a book, it makes it less fun, which is really unfortunate. That being said, I did enjoy A Tale of Two Cities (how could I not?) but I will admit that it takes a certain amount of concentration to finish.

I wanted to read A Tale of Two Cities because I've never read any Charles Dickens (except abridged versions of A Christmas Carol, which doesn't count) and it's referenced a lot in The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare. I could definitely see the parallels, which is pretty cool, but also makes me worried for certain characters' well-being.

I love that this novel is set during the French Revolution, which is such a fascinating time period. I'm surprised more historical fiction isn't written about this era because there is so much potential. There was a lot of emphasis on the revolutionaries and the novel really showcased the "Reign of Terror" which the characters in A Tale of Two Cities fall prey to.

Ultimately, the ending of A Tale of Two Cities was what made the book for me, because I was so surprised  by the actions of Sydney Carton. His character gives new meaning to the term sacrifice because his love for Lucie meant that her happiness trumped all else, including his own. Charles Dickens wrote such a great character!

So those are my thoughts on the classic A Tale of Two Cities. Obviously I'm not a literary scholar but I enjoyed the story as much as is possible when you have to really focus on the text. If you're interested in the themes found in this novel then give A Tale of Two Cities a chance! You can read it online on GoodReads, too!

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library, then read on GoodReads

1859/Penguin Classics/544 pages.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

Just when seventeen-year-old Cullen Witter thinks he understands everything about his small and painfully dull Arkansas town, it all disappears. . . .

In the summer before Cullen's senior year, a nominally-depressed birdwatcher named John Barling thinks he spots a species of woodpecker thought to be extinct since the 1940s in Lily, Arkansas. His rediscovery of the so-called Lazarus Woodpecker sparks a flurry of press and woodpecker-mania. Soon all the kids are getting woodpecker haircuts and everyone's eating "Lazarus burgers." But as absurd as the town's carnival atmosphere has become, nothing is more startling than the realization that Cullen’s sensitive, gifted fifteen-year-old brother Gabriel has suddenly and inexplicably disappeared.

While Cullen navigates his way through a summer of finding and losing love, holding his fragile family together, and muddling his way into adulthood, a young missionary in Africa, who has lost his faith, is searching for any semblance of meaning wherever he can find it. As distant as the two stories seem at the start, they are thoughtfully woven ever closer together and through masterful plotting, brought face to face in a surprising and harrowing climax.

Complex but truly extraordinary, tinged with melancholy and regret, comedy and absurdity, this novel finds wonder in the ordinary and emerges as ultimately hopeful. It's about a lot more than what Cullen calls, “that damn bird.” It’s about the dream of second chances. (from GoodReads)

I have a major soft spot for titles that are sentences/fragments, which is why I picked up Where Things Come Back. It was also on NPR's list of recommended YA titles and won two awards (Printz and William C. Morris YA Debut Awards), so I thought it would be a good read.

Where Things Come Back is extremely literary and I can definitely see it being used in classrooms some time in the future. The author uses a lot of metaphors, parallels and religious symbolism, making it a perfect fit for literature classes. I like when books have all of those things, but I'm sure some of it went over my head. I enjoyed the parallel of the extinct bird returning (aptly named the "Lazarus Woodpecker") and Gabriel disappearing. Throughout the story, I hoped the reappearance of the bird would mean that Gabriel would come back too.

Cullen and Gabriel are brothers and when Gabriel disappears, Cullen's world practically falls apart. It was obvious how much Cullen loved his younger brother and it was so sweet to see that type of sibling relationship. Even though Gabriel wasn't in the story that much, I understood why Cullen missed him. The author did a great job of setting up their relationship even though it was pretty one-sided throughout Where Things Comes Back.

I was very invested in the story and was dying to know what happened to Gabriel. The book actually switches point-of-view to a few side characters and at first you have no idea what they're doing in the story. It's all tied up nicely at the end and makes perfect sense - you just have to be patient.

I was satisfied with the ending of Where Things Come Back and think it's a perfect pick for book clubs, classrooms, or people who just want a deep read. And I still can't get over that title! I definitely want to live in a world "where things come back."

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

2011/Turtleback Books/256 pages.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin

“Every time I think I’m out, they pull me back in.”- Michael Corleone, The Godfather

Since her release from Liberty Children's Facility, Anya Balanchine is determined to follow the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, her criminal record is making it hard for her to do that. No high school wants her with a gun possession charge on her rap sheet. Plus, all the people in her life have moved on: Natty has skipped two grades at Holy Trinity, Scarlet and Gable seem closer than ever, and even Win is in a new relationship. But when old friends return demanding that certain debts be paid, Anya is thrown right back into the criminal world that she had been determined to escape. It’s a journey that will take her across the ocean and straight into the heart of the birthplace of chocolate where her resolve--and her heart--will be tested as never before. (from GoodReads)

Can I just say that I love how the titles to this and All These Things I've Done form a sentence? "All these things I've done because it is my blood" has a really nice ring to it and I hope the author continues with the sentence for the next book.

I wasn't super enthralled with All These Things I've Done but I definitely enjoyed Because It Is My Blood. There was more back story as to how the United States got to where it is and the reasoning behind the chocolate, paper and caffeine prohibition. That was one of my problems with the first novel in this trilogy. I liked seeing Anya interact with her criminal family because that's the most compelling part of the series. Everyone loves a Mafia story and now we have a teenage heroine who is the heir apparent to a huge crime organization. It's pretty awesome.

New York City is always a great place for a book to be set, but it was nice for Anya to travel to Mexico for a change of pace and scenery. Seeing where the illegal chocolate is grown was very interesting and added depth to the overall story.

The romance with Win continues to occur even with the obstacles between the relationship. I thought the love between Win and Anya occurred a little too quickly in All These Things I've Done but now it didn't seem too unrealistic, especially since more time has passed. I liked Win well enough but it doesn't add too much to the story because I want to read about Anya and her crazy family.

Overall, I think this series is pretty good and I love reading about a strong heroine. There's a bit of twist in Because It Is My Blood and I can't wait to see what's next for Anya. I also can't wait to hear the title for the next book!

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library.

2012/Farrar. Straus and Giroux/350 pages.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Diviners by Libba Bray

Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first. (from GoodReads)

I can't help but compare The Diviners to The Gemma Doyle Trilogy; obviously it's the same author, and both book series are historical fiction fantasy. Granted, they're both set in two very different time periods, and even the fantastical elements are different. While I really enjoyed The Diviners, I still think The Gemma Doyle Trilogy is better.

I think the 1920s is such an interesting and fun time period, so I'm really glad Libba Bray tackled this era in The Diviners. She was able to capture the feelings and atmosphere very accurately - I felt like I was living in New York right alongside Evie and her friends. There is some even '20s slang thrown in, which made the reading experience authentic.

Aside from the setting, The Diviners takes on a lot of different subplots and character points-of view. Mainly the book is told from the perspective of Evie, our main heroine, and Memphis, a boy living in Harlem who is marginally part of the story. I enjoyed Memphis's sections, but it was obvious his side was set-up for the rest of the series. He never interacts with Evie and his story has nothing to do with the main conflict of The Diviners. 

What is different about The Diviners vs The Gemma Doyle Trilogy is that The Diviners is written in third person while the latter is first person. Normally, this doesn't bother me, but I noticed that I could not connect with Evie as well as I could with Gemma. I think the change in writing style affected this, making Evie seem shallow. I hope the future novels will allow the reader to see more sides of Evie.

The plot of The Diviners was interesting and actually pretty creepy. I don't get scared easily, but the parts with Naughty John really spooked me! So if that's your type of book, The Diviners will definitely make it hard for you to sleep at night.

Overall I enjoyed The Diviners. It was super long but a lot happens. If you're interesting in historical fiction fantasy, I would definitely recommend The Gemma Doyle Trilogy first, but after you read that I think The Diviners should be your next choice.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from library.

2012/Little, Brown/578 pages.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - 120

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

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town…until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery...who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

Blending faded decadence and the thrilling dread of gothic horror, April Genevieve Tucholke weaves a dreamy, twisting contemporary romance, as gorgeously told as it is terrifying—a debut to watch. (from GoodReads)

This sounds very romantic and maybe a little creepy. Plus, it's a 2013 YA debut, which is always fun. Look for Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea on August 20, 2013.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - 65

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

Top Ten 2013 Debuts I'm Dying to Read

1. Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
I think it's awesome that a blogger is now a published author! I'm sure Lenore's book is going to be amazing.

2. Dualed by Elsie Chapman
This book takes place in a world where everyone has a twin that they must kill before they reach adulthood. This sounds like it will be a great thriller.

3. How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Road trip book!

4. Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland
Summer romance at the beach; can't go wrong with that.

5. Since You Asked by Maurene Goo
A Korean-American student has her own school newspaper column where she tries to reconcile her heritage and American culture. I think this sounds really fun and interesting!

6. Taken by Erin Bowman
In this world, boys disappear at their 18th birthday so Gray must try to figure out what's going on before he turns 18.

7. If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin
I'm a sucker for titles that are sentences, plus I think the story sounds interesting!

8. Reboot by Amy Tintera
People who die are brought back to life, but are barely human.

9. The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd
Gothic thriller in which the protagonist's father conducts creepy experiments on a deserted island. Can't wait to read this one!

10. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
The devil walks among in the form of a cute boy? I think it's possible.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

UnWholly by Neal Shusterman

It’s finally here. The long-awaited sequel to the bestselling Unwind, which Publishers Weekly called a “gripping, brilliantly imagined futuristic thriller.”

Thanks to Connor, Lev, and Risa—and their high-profile revolt at Happy Jack Harvest Camp—people can no longer turn a blind eye to unwinding. Ridding society of troublesome teens while simltaneously providing much-needed tissues for transplant might be convenient, but its morality has finally been brought into question. However, unwinding has become big business, and there are powerful political and corporate interests that want to see it not only continue, but also expand to the unwinding of prisoners and the impoverished.

Cam is a product of unwinding; made entirely out of the parts of other unwinds, he is a teen who does not technically exist. A futuristic Frankenstein, Cam struggles with a search for identity and meaning and wonders if a rewound being can have a soul. And when the actions of a sadistic bounty hunter cause Cam’s fate to become inextricably bound with the fates of Connor, Risa, and Lev, he’ll have to question humanity itself.

Rife with action and suspense, this riveting companion to the perennially popular Unwind challenges assumptions about where life begins and ends—and what it means to live. (from GoodReads)

I was so excited when I discovered that Unwind is part of a trilogy - and also really glad I didn't read Unwind when it was first released, because there were 7 years between the first two books!

Luckily for me, UnWholly did not fall prey to the infamous Middle Book Syndrome; it was just as good as its predecessor. The stories of Connor, Risa and Lev are continued in UnWholly along with the addition of Cam (who is pretty much Frankenstein) and Nelson, the antagonist. Normally having a lot of different characters is annoying, but I enjoyed reading about everyone. Cam was definitely one of the more interesting plotlines, as it's super creepy how he was created, but he is his own person.

Pretty much my thoughts about UnWholly are similar to those of Unwind: the story is exciting and hard to put down and the themes continue to be thought-provoking. I'm definitely looking forward to the conclusion, which is supposed to be released sometime in 2013.

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

2012/Simon & Schuster/402 pages.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - 119

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.

Prodigy by Marie Lu

June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

In this highly-anticipated sequel, Lu delivers a breathtaking thriller with high stakes and cinematic action. (from GoodReads)

It feels like I read Legend so long ago, but I'm still excited for the sequel! Prodigy will be released January 29, 2013.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - 64

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

Top Ten Reading Goals for 2013

1. Read 100 books!
This is my goal every year - I accomplished it in 2011, but not in 2012. I'm going to try to do it again this year!

2. Read a book in Spanish.
I've been studying Spanish for 7 years and I think I'm ready to read a novel in the language. I'll definitely need a dictionary next to me, but I still want to try.

3. Read classics.
I definitely like modern literature better, especially since it's so much easier to read. But I want to be well-versed in all types of lit and that includes the older books.

4. Finish Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox.
Is it bad that I've been "reading" this book since May 2011?

5. Finish A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.
I've been reading this since the summer, as well, and I need to get back to it.

6. Finish the series I've left hanging.
This is a big problem for me and I hate that there's random books here and there that I have to read. I'm going to do it this year!

That's all I can think of right now! What are your goals for this year?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child "unwound," whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive. (from GoodReads)

I heard about Unwind from a friend and she was very vague about what "unwinding" actually is (to prevent me from being spoiled) but this summary spells everything out pretty neatly. Even knowing what unwinding is didn't stop me from loving this novel. It was exciting, thought-provoking, and even a little horrifying.

I think Unwind would be perfect for a book club or a literature class. It raises interesting questions about reproductive rights, the rights of minors, and human existence. If you're living in a "divided state" are you still alive? All your body parts are technically alive, so you must be, right? The unwinding process was so creepy, even more so because people are unwound against their will.

The book changes points-of-view between Connor, Risa and Lev, all who are slated for unwinding. All their perspectives were interesting, but I liked how the author added in Lev's situation. He's a tithe, which basically mean he's sacrificing himself to be unwound to please God. It's not really his choice - he's been brainwashed to believe that it's his duty to be unwound. That all changes when Connor's, Risa's, and Lev's paths converge.

Unwind is very plot-driven with a lot of action. Connor, Risa and Lev go to many different places and there's never a dull moment. In each situation, you'll be wondering how the characters will manage to survive, and I'm sure the readers were pleased with the novel's resolution.

When I found out that Unwind is being made into a trilogy, I was very excited. There's so much to be explored in this world. I'm reading the sequel, UnWholly, right now and I'm liking it so far! A review to come soon!

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

2007/Simon & Schuster/335 pages.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

A zombie who yearns for a better life ends up falling in love—with a human—in this astonishingly original debut novel.

R is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He doesn’t enjoy killing people; he enjoys riding escalators and listening to Frank Sinatra. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.

Not just another zombie novel, Warm Bodies is funny, scary, and deeply moving. (from GoodReads)

My friend told me about Warm Bodies before I even saw the trailer and she let me borrow her copy. Once I saw the trailer, I knew I wanted to read this! The trailer makes the movie look really funny. I didn't think the book version of Warm Bodies was quite as humorous, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

I've read a lot of zombie books but never one from the zombie's perspective, making Warm Bodies very original and unique. I liked that this wasn't a scary book, because we get to see R's point-of-view, and how he has to eat humans to survive. The zombies in Warm Bodies aren't how they are depicted in many other books and movies. These zombies have a stream of consciousness, though they can't really talk and don't remember anything from their human lives.

Once R meets and kidnaps Julie (a human), everything begins to change. He can talk more and becomes more human. I liked the relationship between Julie and R and it was cute to see him care about her and try to resist his zombie urges.

Apparently everything in Warm Bodies alluded to Romeo and Juliet, which totally flew over my head. I'm going to chalk it up to the fact that I'm on break and my mind isn't in thinking mode. But according to reviewers on GoodReads, R is Romeo, Julie is Juliet, M is Mercutio, etc. I must say, it makes a lot of sense!

I liked Warm Bodies but I have a feeling I'm going to like the movie a lot better. It looks funnier and just very well put together. If you want to see the movie, I would recommend reading the book first!

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from a friend.

2010/Atria/239 pages.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Guest Post: Tony Viardo, CEO of Astor+Blue Editions

I feel honored to post a guest article from the CEO of Astor+Blue Editions, a publishing company. The CEO, Tony Viardo, will be discussing e-books and digital publishing, and specifically how they affect the industry. The article is a very interesting read, so I encourage you to check it out! Also, Astor +Blue Editions has put its entire first season’s list of e-book titles on a holiday promotional sale for $0.99 or $1.99The sale will continue through January 7, 2013. For more information, please visit 

Digital Publishing: The Grinch Who Stole Christmas?

So how many articles have we read about E-books and Digital Publishing this year? For anyone who generally follows the book world (rabid booklover, book-blogger, industry pro or casual reader), we’re literally inundated with the amazing numbers—“E-book sales up 125% (again) over the 175% they were up from last year’s 225% increase!”—and equally amazing technological announcements—“Next Fall, the new ZimWittyZoomDitty tablet not only updates your Facebook and Goodreads friends whenever you snort in disgust … it cooks dinner for you at the same time!”

This leads many to take at least casual stock of what’s going on/going to happen to the “Publishing World” as we know it.  And if your friends are like my friends (hardcore print book consumers), that stock is usually pretty morbid (sharp Greenwich Village angst not included): “Print books are doomed, so are brick-and-mortar stores.  Goodbye literary quality. Oh and some pajama-wearing techie living in a basement with a laptop is going to be the new Sulzburger; we’ll all have to bow down!”

If you (or that good friend of yours) fall into the mortified category, my take (for what it’s worth) may come as positive news:  E-books are not, and will not be, the Grinch Who Stole Christmas; in this case, the “Print World’s” bacon. Now, as the owner of a “Digital First” publishing house (Astor + Blue Editions, my opinions may easily be written off as self-serving and invalid.  But bear with me for a minute… these are fact-based observations and I might just make sense (Someone tell my mom and dad).

 As someone who earns a living from publishing, I have to follow numbers and industry trends as closely as possible.  And while some see doom and gloom for Print, I see exciting developments for both Print and E-book formats.  What do the numbers show?  Digital book revenue is skyrocketing, print revenue is declining.  Natural conclusion?  E-books are killing print books. But not so fast.  Historically, Print revenue has always seemed to be declining (even before E-books were invented), but that doesn’t mean the book market is dying or shrinking.

We have to remember that in fact the book market is growing. Readership always grows because population always grows.  Every year, new readers enter the vast pool of the club that is “adult readership,” (despite Dancing with the Stars). And every year more readers are being born and theoretically being inspired by Ms. Crabtree’s elementary reading class.  **So why the decline?  Readership grows gradually, but the sheer number of books and book vendors grow exponentially, showing an investment loss almost every year. (Basic statistics: the widening universe makes it look like a shrinking pie when it isn’t).

So what does this mean?  If you look at the numbers (historically), revenue for print books may have declined, yes, but not more than “normal,” and not significantly more than it did when there were no E-books around. (This is arguable of course, but the long term numbers do not show a precipitous drop-off). The yearly revenue decline, if there is one, can just as easily be written off to economic conditions as to E-book competition.  Bottom line:  Any drop in print revenue that may be caused by E-books are not significantly sharp enough to declare that E-books are destroying print book sales.  (Hence no Grinch).

What may be happening, and what I believe is happening is that a whole new market for E-books is developing, while the print book market growth, like Publishing as a whole, is still growing at a historically gradual pace. (Boringly flat).  Come up with your pet anecdote here, but I believe that more new readers are entering the market (who otherwise wouldn’t have) because of E-readers; existing readers are consuming more books (both print and e-book) than they did before; and while it would seem that a certain print title is losing a sale whenever readers buy it in E-book format, this is offset, at least somewhat, by the fact that more print titles are being bought (that otherwise wouldn’t) because of the extra marketing buzz and added awareness produced by the E-book’s cyber presence.  All of it evens out in the end, and I believe, ultimately fosters growth industry-wide.

So take heart Print fans, E-books are not the dark villain you think they are.  And here, I should correct my earlier analogy—that E-books are not the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.  They may actually be the Grinch…in as much as, at the end of the story, the pear-shaped green guy ended up not only giving all the presents back to the singing Who-villers, he created a flash mob and started a big party as well.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2013 Debut Author Challenge

Once again I am participating in the yearly Debut Author Challenge and I'm so excited! I love making a point to read books from new authors, and there seems to be a lot of great debuts coming out this year. The torch has been passed from Kristi at The Story Siren to Tara at Hobbitsies and I'm sure she'll do a great job!

For sign-ups and more information please visit this detailed post!

The books I'm planning on reading this year include:

1. Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
2. Since You Asked by Maurene Goo
3. Reboot by Amy Tintera
4. Taken by Erin Bowman
5. Dualed by Elsie Chapman
6. How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
7. Broken by A.E. Rought
8. Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland
9. If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin
10. These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
11. The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd
12. Mila 2.0 by Debra Drizer

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - 118

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to see new books that will be released soon.

Also Known As by Robin Benway

Being a 16-year-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies has its moments, good and bad. Pros: Seeing the world one crime-solving adventure at a time. Having parents with super cool jobs. Cons: Never staying in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend. But for Maggie Silver, the biggest perk of all has been avoiding high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. Then Maggie and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, and all of that changes. She'll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school's security system, and befriend one aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the essential information she needs to crack the case . . . all while trying not to blow her cover. (from GoodReads)

I love spy novels and this sounds really similar to Heist Society by Ally Carter!! Also Known As will be released February 26, 2013.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - 63

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

Top Ten Books I Resolve to Read in 2013

1. The Dragon Heir by Cinda Williams Chima
I hate leaving a series or trilogy hanging, which is what I did with the Heir Chronicles! I think it's time to finish this fantasy trilogy and Chima's other series as well.

2. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
This is probably one of the books I'm looking forward to the most in 2013. I'm dying to know what happens, and more specifically, who Tessa ends up with! I'll admit it: I'm a shipper at heart.

3. Shadows in the Silence by Courtney Allison Moulton
I can't wait until this is published, which I think is sometime in January. This is one of my favorite fantasy trilogies!

4. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
I swear this is on every one of my lists because I still haven't read it! But I received a copy for Christmas so I will definitely be reading it in the very near future.

5. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
So I started reading this over the summer, but then had to return my copy to the library. It's on GoodReads for free, but at this point I don't remember what happened. So I resolve to finally finish this classic.

6. Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox
This is another book that I started reading but never finished. I get so lazy sometimes so I must finish this as well!!

7. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
I'm surprised that I didn't rush to buy this book but since it's not Harry Potter, I'm not quite as excited. I've heard it's pretty good, though, so I definitely want to read it.

8. Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter
I think the Heist Society novels are extremely underrated because they are amazing but I don't think too many people read them. Definitely can't wait to see what happens next with Kat and Hale.

9. Rebel Heart by Moira Young
I got this book for Christmas so I'm going to finally read it this year!

10. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
I've had my dad's copy for awhile now so I think I should read this. It's also a very popular classic which is always good.