Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday - 171

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

Forget Me by K.A. Harrington

An edge-of-your seat psychological thriller with a romantic twist

On the three-month anniversary of her boyfriend Flynn’s death, Morgan uploads her only photo of him to FriendShare to get some closure—but she’s shocked when the facial recognition software suggests she tag him as "Evan Murphy." She’s never heard of Evan, but a quick search tells her that he lives in a nearby town and looks exactly like Flynn. Only this boy is very much alive.

Digging through layers of secrets and lies, Morgan is left questioning everything she thought she knew about her boyfriend, her town, and even her parents' involvement in this massive web of lies. (from GoodReads)

Wow this book sounds so creepy and intense! I love that it utilizes Facebook's new facial recognition - this definitely couldn't have been written a few years ago. Forget Me will be released August 7, 2014.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - 117

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

Top Ten Worlds I Would Never Want to Live In

1. Panem in The Hunger Games
This is such an obvious one but I would be terrified every Reaping that I would be picked as a tribute. And there's no way that I would actually survive the Hunger Games. Even if you make it to adulthood, your life is guaranteed to be pretty awful.

2. The world in Uglies
I love this series so much but there's no way that I would want mandatory plastic surgery, nor would I want my brain altered so I don't care about anything.

3. The world in Delirium
A world without love? That sounds horrible.

4. The world in The Farm
Not only are there vampires and vampire-zombie hybrid creatures, but all teenagers are forced to live in these camps (called farms) where they have no freedom.

5. The world in Across the Universe
The world is so decimated that governments decide to send people to another planet. Living on a spaceship feels so claustrophobic, nor would I want to live on another planet. Who knows what's there?

6. The world in Wither
Women die by the time they're 20 and men die when they're 25. No thanks.

7. The world in Article 5
The government in Article 5 is super oppressive

8. London in 1984
Another book with an oppressive, totalitarian government. There's even thought police!

9. The world in The Forest of Hands and Teeth
I would hate to live in a village surrounding by hungry zombies just waiting to get their hands on me. Not to mention that the rules of the village kind of suck too.

10. The world in Candor
This book takes place in a community where the teenagers are controlled using subliminal messages. So creepy.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Endlessly by Kiersten White

Kiersten White’s New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy comes to a breathless conclusion with a signature mix of wit, romance, paranormal creatures, and a truly original heroine.

In Endlessly, pink-loving, butt-kicking Evie has way too much on her to-do list. Paranormals are begging her to open a faerie gate so they can leave the human world, something Evie’s not sure she has the power to do. The Dark Queen is torturing humans and must be destroyed.

On top of all that, Evie’s prom is coming up. She’s not sure what to wear, and, oh, yeah, her shape-shifting boyfriend, Lend, has been cursed so that he falls into an enchanted sleep whenever he and Evie are in the same room…and even Evie’s ex-boyfriend, the faerie Reth, can’t reverse the dark magic.

An epic battle is looming, and the choices Evie makes will determine the fate of whole paranormal world—and her own life. (from GoodReads)

I started this series a long time ago, so when I finally picked up the conclusion I wasn't sure what to expect. Luckily a lot of the events of Paranormalcy and Supernaturally started coming back to me as I continued reading.

One of my long-standing comments about this trilogy is that the covers make the book seem darker than it actually is. This is especially the case in the first one, but even in Endlessly Evie is a pretty girly teenager: she likes pink, dresses, and watching reality TV. Even as the events become more serious, Evie remains the cheery and bubbly girl that she's been from the beginning. It's a weird dynamic and prevented me from taking the books too seriously. But for those who like lighter books, this would definitely be a good pick.

I like that there is a wide array of characters, which includes different supernatural creatures. And even though some of those characters should be or seem to be evil, they actually help Evie out a lot. This is definitely the case with Jack and Reth. I loved their character development and seeing them fight for the good side.

I don't have any strong novels about this book or the series as a whole. It was cute read and I'm glad I finally finished the trilogy.

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

2012/Harper Teen/385 pages.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cover Reveal: Sacrifice by Jennifer Quintenz

I am so excited to be able to reveal the cover for the new Daughters of Lilith book: Sacrifice. This third novel in an awesome fantasy series will be released January 31, 2014, but you get a sneak peak at the cover a few days early!

For fans of Braedyn Murphy, the wait is almost over.  “Sacrifice,” the third book in the Daughters of Lilith series, will be released on January 31,
"Sacrifice" (Daughters of Lilith: Book 3)
Just when Braedyn Murphy thought she understood the danger descending on Puerto Escondido, a new threat arrives.  A cult devoted to Lilith has taken up residence in the little town, and when Cassie gets tangled up its intrigue, Braedyn realizes she might have to chose between protecting her friends and stopping Lilith from reclaiming this earth.
With her duties to the Guard wearing on her, Braedyn turns to Lucas for solace.  Together they wonder if now is the time to claim their one night together—knowing that one night is all they may ever have.
Darker forces have their own plans for Braedyn and the Guard.  Braedyn knew this fight could be brutal—but how much can one girl be asked to sacrifice in order to save the world?
Check out the previous books in the series:
Praise for Thrall (Daughters of Lilith: Book 1)
"Before you even start this review, put down anything you are doing and go read Thrall. It's AMAZING! BREATHTAKING! Engaging and smart, Thrall leaves you speechless!"
Savannah, Books With Bite
"The writing style is so smooth, yet gripping. Add some good characters, well-paced story and you have something that I like. No, not like. Love... No surprise that “Thrall” gets full five stars and the highest recommendations I can give."
Linda, The Fantasy Librarian

"How do I even begin to put all the crazy, gushy, ramblings in my brain about this book onto paper?!? Where to even begin?....This book is a MUST read!"
- Hooked In A Book review on Amazon

Praise for Incubus (Daughters of Lilith: Book 2)

"If you like gutsy fantasy of the urban variety this should definitely be on your 'must read' list. Don't let the YA label put you off either, like all the best YA fiction, this can be enjoyed by adults as well. I give it an unreserved 5 stars."
Tahlia, Awesome Indies

"This is one of those books that I have been looking forward to since June of last year... I loved this book and I'm so happy I finally got to read it. I recommend the entire series for the fully developed characters, the impressive mythology, and the fight scenes. I am dreading waiting for the next book."

"Great reading. LOVE IT. Jennifer Quintenz is a special writer who can be very riveting... Spent several sleepless nights in a crazy rush to see how it ends. Can't wait for the next books."
- Terri, review on Amazon

About the author:
Jennifer Quintenz is an award-winning film and television writer, author, and graphic novelist. She has written for Twentieth Television, Intrepid Pictures, and Archaia Studios Press. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son.

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)

I am such a bad reader because this is one of my favorite trilogies and yet I've waited almost a year to read the conclusion. Luckily for me I finally got my hands on a copy of Shadows in the Silence and really enjoyed it!

This is probably strange, but I think I liked the second book in this trilogy the best, which never happens. That's not saying I didn't like this one; I absolutely adored the three books, but I wasn't quite as impressed with Shadows in the Silence as I was in the first two. I'm not even sure why - taste is fickle I suppose.

Even so, Shadows in the Silence picks up right where Wings of the Wicked left off. And it's a good thing too, because the last book left off on a major cliffhanger. Ellie continues to be the fierce warrior that we all love and this time the stakes are even higher because she's trying to save the world from demons. I just love how strong she is and how she's capable of taking on all sorts of supernatural creatures. It might be because she's the archangel Gabriel, but human Ellie is pretty awesome herself. The blending of these two characters was really interesting and made for a fascinating dynamic. She's human and angelic, so she's gets the best of both worlds: strength and compassion.

Ellie's relationship with Will remains one of the highlights of the series. I love how much they love each other and how developed their romance is. It makes sense, because Will and Ellie have know each other for hundreds of years. No insta-love here, my friends.

Even though so much has happened in the Angelfire trilogy, there are still surprises to be had in this novel. The book is exciting, action-packed and even a little funny. Ellie becomes closer to the demonic reaper Cadan and his character growth is great. I liked how his side of the love triangle kind of snuck up on us and wasn't as in your face as other ones. But I also liked that it was never going to be a true love triangle, because everyone (including Cadan) knows that Will and Ellie are meant to be. The ending will surprise you, but I loved it all the same.

I'm so glad I finally got a change to finish this trilogy. It's definitely one of my favorites that everyone should read!

Rating: 10 out of 10.
FTC: Christmas gift.

2013/Katherine Tegen Books/469 pages.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Operation Oleander by Valerie O. Patterson

Ninth-grader Jess Westmark had the best of intentions when she started Operation Oleander to raise money for a girls’ orphanage in Kabul. She named her charity for the oleander that grows both in her Florida hometown and in Afghanistan, where her father is deployed. But on one of her father's trips to deliver supplies to the orphans, a car bomb explodes nearby and her father is gravely injured. Worse, her best friend’s mother and some of the children are killed, and people are blaming Operation Oleander for turning the orphanage into a military target for the Taliban. Is this all Jess’s fault? (from GoodReads)

I think that Operation Oleander would be a great book for middle school readers. I liked it well enough but it's definitely for younger readers and has important themes that would make it a good pick for summer reading.

The heart and main theme of this novel is about guilt and the responsibility we have for things that happen after our actions take place. Operation Oleander makes it clear that sometimes having good intentions isn't enough to stop bad things from happening. Jess gets a major wake up call in this book when her charity causes US soldiers to die delivering school supplies to an Afghan orphanage. That's a pretty dramatic event to showcase the focus of the book but it demonstrates that actions can have dire consequences. I understand why people wanted to blame Jess for the tragedy; sometimes it's easier to blame someone than accept the fact that bad things happen for no reason. However, it would have been really easy to blame the Taliban, since they were the ones directly responsible for the attack.

I felt really bad for Jess because honestly it wasn't her fault that the soldiers died but everyone gave her a hard time anyway. The only time she annoyed me was when she initially refused to stop the charity (even for the time being). She acted really immature, especially when the commander of the entire military base asked her to stop collecting items out of respect for the family members of the deceased. The fact that she was even arguing was bizarre; it was like she couldn't understand that people might not want to be reminded of what happened. Maybe her reaction was due to grief (her father was injured in the attack) but it was not something I would have done.

Operation Oleander was fairly short but it definitely had an important message about choices and consequences. Any future teachers out there will definitely want this on their required reading list.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library.

2013/Clarion Books192 pages.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Heart Beat by Elizabeth Scott

Life. Death. And...Love?

Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with.

But Emma can't tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her.

Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn't have interested Old Emma. But New Emma-the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia-New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge.

Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death-and maybe, for love? (from GoodReads)

I think that Elizabeth Scott is a fantastic author and writes great YA contemporary novels. So I'm super disappointed that I did not enjoy Heart Beat as much as her earlier books.

I don't know what it is, but I have not been feeling the latest Elizabeth Scott books. Her earlier ones were amazing! I kind of think that I'm not enjoying the heavy topics, such as PTSD, trauma, and death that have been commonplace in her novels. What can I say, I like the light and happy books.

Heart Beat deals with Emma and her mother who is brain-dead. The central conflict comes from the fact that Emma is angry with her step-father for keeping her mother on life support in order to bring her baby to term. She's upset that Dan did not consult her first before making the decision and is convinced it's the decision her mom would not have wanted. This situation is super gray and I'm sure everyone has their own opinions. It's kind of messed up that they are practically using the mom as an incubator for this baby. It reminds me of the fact that women are sometimes treated as vessels for carrying fetuses, but that's a whole other discussion. At the same time, if there's already a baby growing, why not try to see if it can make it to term? It's a tough situation and kind of interesting to see it addressed in this book!

My problem wasn't that they were having a debate, but it was the fact that it is rehashed multiple times throughout Heart Beat. Every time Emma and Dan are on-page together, this argument is brought up again and again. I must have read Emma making the same points about 5 or 6 times before any progress is made in the argument and they can come to a resolution. Many times I just wanted Emma to move on and talk about something else!

I was also disappointed in both the character and plot development of this novel. Emma didn't really change that much except she wasn't as annoying at the end. We still don't know much about Caleb, though I did like what little I read. Nothing significant happens in terms of plot since most of it is Emma spending time with Caleb or yelling at her step-father.

Honestly, I did not like Heart Beat at all and am going to comfort myself by reading some earlier books by Elizabeth Scott!

Release Date: January 24, 2014
Rating: 5 out of 10.
FTC: received copy from LitPick

2014/Harlequin Teen/304 pages.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday - 170

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 soon.

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare


I am coming.

Darkness returns to the Shadowhunter world. As their society falls apart around them, Clary, Jace, Simon and their friends must band together to fight the greatest evil the Nephilim have ever faced: Clary’s own brother. Nothing in the world can defeat him — must they journey to another world to find the chance? Lives will be lost, love sacrificed, and the whole world changed in the sixth and last installment of the Mortal Instruments series! (From GoodReads)

Wow I can't believe this series is almost over! I'm definitely going to miss reading about Clary, Jace and the rest of the gang but I think it's time for The Mortal Instruments to end. I'm still looking forward to Clare's new Shadowhunter series though. What can I say? I can't get enough! City of Heavenly Fire will be released May 27, 2014.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - 116

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

Top Ten Things on My Reading Wish List

1. Strong & Spunky Heroines
I love the girls who kick butt and aren't the traditional, demure female character. Rose Hathaway from The Vampire Academy series comes to mind.

2. The Beach!
I need some summertime stories, especially since it's snowing outside right now. When I read The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen I couldn't get enough of the small beach town where the book takes place.

3. 1920s Setting
This is a fantastic era: music, dancing, wealth. I'm surprised there aren't more books set here!

4. College Setting
I'm a senior in college and can probably count on one hand the number of books I've read that are set on a college campus. Are we too good for you YA authors?? I know there's the emerging market of New Adult but I really haven't seen too many of them around.

5. Road Trip
I love to travel so I can't get enough of road trip novels. It's great that the US is so big and varied - there's so many places for the characters to visit.

6. French Revolution
This is such a fascinating time period, with intrigue and political upheaval. Even a story about Marie Antoinette would work.

7. Downton Abbey Style
The beginning of the series takes place in the early 1900s, so I would love a book set then on a big estate like the show.

8. Spooky Stories
I love thrillers and mysteries so I would love to read a really creepy story.

What is on your wish list??

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

A dazzling novel in the most untraditional fashion, this is the remarkable story of Henry DeTamble, a dashing, adventuresome librarian who travels involuntarily through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Henry and Clare's passionate love affair endures across a sea of time and captures the two lovers in an impossibly romantic trap, and it is Audrey Niffenegger's cinematic storytelling that makes the novel's unconventional chronology so vibrantly triumphant.

An enchanting debut and a spellbinding tale of fate and belief in the bonds of love, The Time Traveler's Wife is destined to captivate readers for years to come. (from GoodReads)

I first wanted to read this book after seeing that it was being made into a movie. That was back in 2009 and I still haven't seen the movie because I wanted to read the book first! After finally picking up The Time Traveler's Wife, it's funny to see how different it was from what I expected!

I was expecting a romance, which is what I got, but I was also expecting Henry to be time traveling more. The movie made it look like he time traveled and his relationship with Clare was based on these infrequent meetings. However, Clare and Henry (once they meet in present day) spend a lot of time together. Henry time travels only every so often, usually when he's stressed, and is only gone for a few hours most of the time. It's not quite the romantic tragedy I was expecting. It's tragic for Henry because he's in constant danger when he time travels since he ends up naked in random places. He has no clothes, money or shelter so it's definitely horrible for him. But Clare only has to be without Henry for a little bit at a time so it was hard to feel really bad for her.

I also didn't know that Clare has been meeting with Henry since she was a little girl. At first it was kind of creepy, but it's older Henry visiting little Clare and he's already married to her. So when Clare finally meets up with the real Henry in present day he doesn't know her because his future self was the one visiting her. It's pretty confusing and I didn't understand how the time traveling worked in the beginning.

Time travel is always tricky to write about because it never makes any sense. I thought that Audrey Niffenegger did a pretty good job of conceptualizing time travel for this novel. When one goes to the past, he or she can't change anything so that prevents the universe from getting messed up. You can also visit yourself which is weird but pretty cool.

I thought that storytelling style was very unique, especially since events are written out of order. It allows a different perspective because some events have more clarity once Henry time travels to that place again. I liked that the book differentiated between Henry and Clare, but I wish their voices were more distinctive. I couldn't tell the difference between them and was constantly looking at the title to see who was narrating.

There was a lot of description in The Time Traveler's Wife, some was good and some was bad. I found myself skimming pages of exposition. This novel is so detailed and full of depth that it was almost too much. I actually forgot who some of the characters were (who is Isabelle?? she shows up at the end and I can't for the life of me remember who she is).

I kind of have mixed feelings about The Time Traveler's Wife, but overall I enjoyed the book. I probably won't ever read it again but I do want to watch the movie now. If you like long and finely detailed novels then this is probably the book for you.

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

2003/MacAdamCage Pub/528 pages.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

In the Age of Love and Chocolate by Gabrielle Zevin

All These Things I’ve Done, the first novel in the Birthright series, introduced us to timeless heroine Anya Balanchine, a plucky sixteen year old with the heart of a girl and the responsibilities of a grown woman. Now eighteen, life has been more bitter than sweet for Anya. She has lost her parents and her grandmother, and has spent the better part of her high school years in trouble with the law. Perhaps hardest of all, her decision to open a nightclub with her old nemesis Charles Delacroix has cost Anya her relationship with Win.

Still, it is Anya’s nature to soldier on. She puts the loss of Win behind her and focuses on her work. Against the odds, the nightclub becomes an enormous success, and Anya feels like she is on her way and that nothing will ever go wrong for her again. But after a terrible misjudgment leaves Anya fighting for her life, she is forced to reckon with her choices and to let people help her for the first time in her life. 

In the Age of Love and Chocolate is the story of growing up and learning what love really is. It showcases the best of Gabrielle Zevin’s writing for young adults: the intricate characterization of Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac and the big-heartedness of Elsewhere. It will make you remember why you loved her writing in the first place. (from GoodReads)

First off, I can't get over the titles of this trilogy. All the titles together form one long sentence which I absolutely love. All These Things I've Done Because it is my Blood in the Age of Love and Chocolate. It has an awesome ring to it!!!

I feel like this trilogy is very understated. Not that many people talk about it and even the story isn't super flashy or thrilling. But it's such an interesting and fun trilogy. Anya is one of my favorite characters in YA literature because she's so strong and smart. For goodness sakes, she's practically the head of crime family and I just love that. YA needs more heroines that aren't afraid to get their hands dirty. Even though Anya isn't the most innocent person out there, she has a good heart and does things for the right reasons. She loves her family and it's so easy to see that in the book. Not because she says it a lot but because the author shows us through Anya's actions.

I also like that romance isn't the central point of the series. It's important and Anya's relationship with Win goes through many ups and downs but Anya doesn't need a guy in her life. She does great things alone and recognizes the fact that she needs to be single in order find herself and to do the things she wants to do. In many books the romance is the most compelling part because there's not much else going on. But in In the Age of Love and Chocolate, Anya setting up the chocolate clubs and dealing with her mob family take precedence and allows the story to actually develop.

I just really really enjoyed the Birthright trilogy and I hope everyone picks up this conclusion to an amazing series.

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

2013/Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux/286 pages.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Unbreakable by Kami Garcia

Supernatural meets The Da Vinci Code in this action-packed paranormal thriller, the first book in a new series from New York Times bestselling author Kami Garcia.
I never believed in ghosts. Until one tried to kill me.
When Kennedy Waters finds her mother dead, her world begins to unravel. She doesn’t know that paranormal forces in a much darker world are the ones pulling the strings. Not until identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into Kennedy’s room and destroy a dangerous spirit sent to kill her. The brothers reveal that her mother was part of an ancient secret society responsible for protecting the world from a vengeful demon — a society whose five members were all murdered on the same night.

Now Kennedy has to take her mother’s place in the Legion if she wants to uncover the truth and stay alive. Along with new Legion members Priest and Alara, the teens race to find the only weapon that might be able to destroy the demon — battling the deadly spirits he controls every step of the way.

Suspense, romance, and the paranormal meet in this chilling urban fantasy, the first book in a new series from Kami Garcia, bestselling coauthor of the Beautiful Creatures novels. (from GoodReads)

I was a little a wary reading Unbreakable because I'm not the biggest fan of Beautiful Creatures and this book is by one of the authors of this series. It's always interesting reading a book by two people because you never know who is writing what. Anyway, reading Unbreakable gave me a chance to see what Kami Garcia is like writing solo.

I was attracted to Unbreakable because it's been likened to the TV show Supernatural so of course I had to read this. A lot of people on GoodReads have noticed how similar the stories are and I agree that the premises are very similar. Also if you've seen season 4 of Supernatural you will identify with the ending and twist of Unbreakable. I think Kami Garcia watches the show. But in all honesty, I liked the demon/paranormal creature hunting in the book and it was an exciting part of the story. The book moves along very fast and almost too fast because the characters figure out clues quickly and efficiently. It shouldn't be that easy to solve this supernatural mystery.

My qualms with this novel is the romance. Of course the book wouldn't be complete without a love triangle, this time between Kennedy and two twin brothers. It was very contrived and for most of Unbreakable I couldn't even tell the difference between the two boys. I won't tell you which one Kennedy is drawn to, but their relationship progresses way too fast and isn't based on much besides physical attraction. So the romance was pretty disappointing.

But I did enjoy the plot (even the Supernatural-esque twist) so I plan to continue the series. If you like the TV show I would definitely recommend reading this book.

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

2013/Little, Brown/305 pages.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier

Gwen’s life has been a rollercoaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean.
At least Gwen has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet. James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who has been following Gwen since he caught her kissing Gideon in a church, offers advice on everything. Oh, yes. And of course there is Gideon, the Diamond. One minute he’s very warm indeed; the next he’s freezing cold. Gwen’s not sure what’s going on there, but she’s pretty much destined to find out. (from GoodReads)
I immensely enjoyed Ruby Red when I first read it so I was super excited to continue on with the trilogy. Luckily for me, Sapphire Blue was just as good as the first book.
Time travel is always tricky to execute (right now I'm reading The Time Traveler's Wife and I'm pretty confused) but I think Kerstin Gier does a good job of writing it and having it make sense. It helps that Gwen and Gideon travel really far in the past, so they don't have to worry about meeting themselves. Their mission is a little confusing, especially since it's been a few months since I've been in this world. But Gwen and Gideon are trying to find their cousins who are hiding in the past with an important artifact.
What I don't like is that the events of these two books have taken place over the period of a week. That's a short amount of time for two whole books to be written about. It makes sense since the character are traveling in time, but it also makes character development tricky. Gwen and Gideon have a bit of a romance going but these characters have only known each other a week! So when the "I love you's" start coming out I get confused. Even though it feels like much longer, Gwen and Gideon should not be this serious. That's my one qualm about these books.
Even so, Sapphire Blue is still a fun read, especially since the characters are so funny. It's nice to get some humor in there. I do like the romance, even though it's a little rushed. I can't wait to see how everything wraps up in Emerald Green.
Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library.
2012/Henry Holt/362 pages.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday - 169

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

Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Child Slave by Shyima Hall

An inspiring and compelling memoir from a young woman who lost her childhood to slavery—and built a new life grounded in determination and justice.

Shyima Hall was born in Egypt on September 29, 1989, the seventh child of desperately poor parents. When she was eight, her parents sold her into slavery. Shyima then moved two hours away to Egypt’s capitol city of Cairo to live with a wealthy family and serve them eighteen hours a day, seven days a week. When she was ten, her captors moved to Orange County, California, and smuggled Shyima with them. Two years later, an anonymous call from a neighbor brought about the end of Shyima’s servitude—but her journey to true freedom was far from over.

A volunteer at her local police department since she was a teenager, Shyima is passionate about helping to rescue others who are in bondage. Now a US citizen, she regularly speaks out about human trafficking and intends to one day become an immigration officer. In Hidden Girl, Shyima candidly reveals how she overcame her harrowing circumstances and brings vital awareness to a timely and relevant topic. (From GoodReads)

Wow! Hidden Girl seems like it will be sad and horrible, but uplifting at the same time. I want to learn more about this topic. Hidden Girl will be released January 21, 2014.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - 116

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

Top Ten 2014 Debuts I'm Excited For

1. Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Child Slave by Shyima Hall
Wow this sounds so sad but it looks like it ends up being a story of strength too. I can't believe this is still going on but hopefully this book will bring attention to such an important issue.

2. The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings
This book sounds so creepy in a world with a bunch of assassins running around!

3. Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne
This looks like it will be a very interesting high fantasy novel.

4. Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano
This murder mystery has been liked to the tv show Bones, so I'm definitely going to read it!

5. Forget Me by K.A. Harrington
A girl's boyfriend dies but then finds out he may have had a secret identity. I'm really excited for this to be released!

6. Hungry by H.A. Swain
In this futuristic world, people don't get hungry. But what happens when they start to experience that familiar rumbling in their stomach?

7. Nil by Lynne Matson
An island in which you have exactly a year to escape. It reminds me of LOST and I hope it's just as good!

What other debuts should I add to my list??

Monday, January 13, 2014

Something Blue by Emily Giffin

Following the smash-hit Something Borrowed comes story of betrayal, redemption, and forgiveness

Darcy Rhone has always been able to rely on a few things: Her beauty and charm.  Her fiance, Dex. Her lifelong best friend, Rachel.  She never needed anything else. Or so she thinks until Dex calls off their dream wedding and she uncovers the ultimate betrayal. Blaming everyone but herself, Darcy flees to London and attempts to re-create her glamorous life on a new continent. But to her dismay, she discovers that her tried-and-true tricks no longer apply--and that her luck has finally expired. It is only then that she can begin her journey toward redemption, forgiveness, and true love. (from GoodReads)

I just loved Something Borrowed when I read it (and the movie was great too) so I had to read the sequel! I'm so glad I finally got around to it because Something Blue was such a fun read!

The book picks off where the first one ended, with Darcy and Dex broken up. However, this book is from Darcy's point-of-view. You really get to see how selfish and materialistic she is, which is made even more apparent. I totally understand why she's a difficult person to get along with. But it makes it so much sweeter when Darcy changes. She becomes a nicer and more caring person throughout the novel with the help of an old friend. Even though her personality development alters on miraculous (she really does a 180), it was still fun to read about.

Ethan was introduced in the first book and he's played by John Krasinski in the film (though his character is much different in both books than the movie) and was a wonderful addition to the cast. He's just a sweet guy and it was so nice seeing him and Darcy get closer.

Overall, if you enjoyed the first novel make sure you get the sequel! I can't wait to check out Emily Giffin's other work too!

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

2006/St. Martin's Griffin/338 pages

Friday, January 10, 2014

Book vs. Movie: Warm Bodies

So I originally read Warm Bodies because my friend bought a copy of it in order to read the book before the movie came out. She's like me: you gotta read the book first! So I read it around a year ago and just saw the movie now!

I thought that Warm Bodies was a cute movie. The book was fun: not super exciting or deep, but a good read nonetheless. What was neat about the movie and book was that it was about zombies but was very light-hearted, so it's good for those who don't like a lot of gore or horror. The author attempted a cool twist on the traditional zombie lore: what if zombies still had some consciousness left and what if they could be cured? You'll see the answer to that question if you watch the movie!

I thought that the actors Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer did a great job. I was disappointed to see the character of Nora whitewashed, though. Analeigh Tipton did well in the role but it would have been nice to see a POC in the part as it was originally written.

The book Warm Bodies isn't long, but the movie did feel a little rushed, especially since it was only about 90 minutes. If you haven't read the book it might seem fine, but to me it felt very quick. That might also be due to the fact that I recently saw the three hour The Wolf of Wall Street. Anything will feel fast in comparison.

So the movie was cute and fans of the book should definitely check it out.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone GirlSummary:
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife's head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media--as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents--the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter--but is he really a killer? 

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn't do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet? (from GoodReads)

WHAT?! What did I just read?? Gone Girl was not what I was expecting at all. Everyone has been raving about it and I finally got around to reading this book. I was expecting a simple mystery... but the story is much more complicated.

The book jumps between Amy's diary and Nick's points-of-view so we get both perspectives. It's obvious that these are two very unreliable narrators; Nick even admits to lying to the police to the reader. The book is written so you can't tell if Nick did it or not, which I very much liked. Though I guessed part of the twist that comes at the halfway mark, there were plenty of other surprises throughout the novel. Nothing is as it seems in the story so expect to see the whole book world turned upside down. And that ending ... not expecting that at all! I loved how Gone Girl kept me on my toes.

The actual writing of Gone Girl is very good and sucks you right in. I couldn't put this book down. I wanted to know what happened next, especially with all the twists and turns. Your sympathies for each character change as you find out new information and it was a true roller coaster ride. I wish I could say more because I have so many thoughts, but I don't want to give anything away. All I can say is: READ THIS!!! You won't be disappointed.

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

2012/Weidenfeld & Nicolson/395 pages.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday - 168

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 soon.

Minders by Michele Jaffe

18079614A high concept, cinematic read with a surprising twist, MINDERS asks the question: who is really watching whom?

Q: If the boy you love commits a crime, would you turn him in?

Sadie Ames is a type-A teenager from the wealthy suburbs. She's been accepted to the prestigious Mind Corps Fellowship program, where she'll spend six weeks as an observer inside the head of Ford, a troubled boy with a passion for the crumbling architecture of the inner city. There's just one problem: Sadie's fallen in love with him.

Q: What if the crime is murder?

Ford Winters is haunted by the murder of his older brother, James. As Sadie falls deeper into his world, dazzled by the shimmering pinpricks of color that form images in his mind, she begins to think she knows him. Then Ford does something unthinkable.

Q: What if you saw it happen from inside his mind?

Back in her own body, Sadie is faced with the ultimate dilemma. With Ford's life in her hands, she must decide what is right and what is wrong. And how well she can really ever know someone, even someone she loves. (from GoodReads)

This sounds like an interesting science fiction novel with some important ethical questions. Minders will be released January 30, 2014.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - 115

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

Top Ten Resolutions for 2014

1. Read 100 books!
In 2012 I think I reached this goal (or I was really close) but last year I only read 70 books. I'm going to try to make this goal again!

2. Read a book in Spanish.
I read a lot of short stories in Spanish for class, but I would love to try my hand at a full length novel. I know it will be slow going and I'll have to have a dictionary by my side.

3. Practice Spanish more.
I'm a Spanish minor and I really need to practice more (see above resolution). My goal is to read articles and watch some Spanish tv to improve reading and listening skills.

4. Be healthier!
I definitely want to try to eat healthier and exercise more. It's a common resolution that often fails so we'll see how it goes.

5. Be a more active blogger!
I would love to have more content on Simply Books but it's tough. I also need to spend time commenting on other people's blogs and interacting with bloggers.

6. Stop procrastinating.
This will be a tough one to conquer but it's so important!

7. Be friendlier.
I'm an RA at college so I'm already pretty friendly but I want to get to know my residents even more this semester.

8. Take more pictures.
I used to take so many pictures but now I don't anymore.

9. Travel!
I really need to go somewhere fun this year.

10. Enjoy my last semester of undergrad!!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian

Natalie Sterling wants to be in control. She wants her friends to be loyal. She wants her classmates to elect her student council president. She wants to find the right guy, not the usual jerk her school has to offer. She wants a good reputation, because she believes that will lead to good things.

But life is messy, and it's very hard to be in control of it. Not when there are freshman girls running around in a pack, trying to get senior guys to sleep with them. Not when your friends have secrets they're no longer comfortable sharing. Not when the boy you once dismissed ends up being the boy you want to sleep with yourself - but only in secret, with nobody ever finding out.

Slut or saint? Winner or loser? Natalie is getting tired of these forced choices - and is now going to find a way to live life in the sometimes messy, sometimes wonderful in-between. (from GoodReads)

There was a lot going on in Not That Kind of Girl and a lot of messages were presented. Events and relationships weren't always developed properly, but this book was a real page turner. I couldn't put it down!

Natalie is a pretty awesome character. She's strong, smart and hard-working. She wants to be class president and believes in female empowerment. I loved that about her. She doesn't like that many girls at her private school are boy-crazy and she's seen how boys can hurt girls. However, Natalie's worldview is damaged (shattered is too strong a word) when she starts having feelings for Connor, even after she vowed to live a boy-free life.

What I really liked about this book was the author's opposing feminist messages. There's some people (this includes Natalie) that think women shouldn't be concerned with romance, should dress appropriately and not let men rule their feelings. Then there's the camp that touts sex positivity, that women should be able to own their sexuality and wear whatever they want, no matter how revealing. There is a bit of a push and pull between these two groups in real life and that was evident in this book. Natalie is the former, and the majority of the girls in her school are the latter. So Natalie has to learn (via her relationship with Connor) that it's okay to explore your sexuality and it doesn't make you less deserving of respect or dignity. That's an important message that many girls and boys don't receive.

The only problem I had with Not That Kind of Girl was the relationship between Natalie and Connor. I liked Connor a lot, but hooking up was the extent of their interaction. They didn't talk that much and their relationship was pretty undeveloped. I would like to see the reasons why she's in love with him. That part got lost in the myriad of subplots present in this book.

Overall I really couldn't put this book down. It has some great messages and explores different feminist ideologies in an easy to digest format. It's a great and enlightening read.

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

2010/Push/322 pages.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont

In this stunning, imaginative novel, Eve Marie Mont transports her modern-day heroine into the life of Jane Eyre to create a mesmerizing story of love, longing, and finding your place in the world. . .

Emma Townsend has always believed in stories--the ones she reads voraciously, and the ones she creates. Perhaps it's because she feels like an outsider at her exclusive prep school, or because her stepmother doesn't come close to filling the void left by her mother's death. And her only romantic prospect--apart from a crush on her English teacher--is Gray Newman, a long-time friend who just adds to Emma's confusion. But escape soon arrives in an old leather-bound copy of Jane Eyre. . .

Reading of Jane's isolation sparks a deep sense of kinship. Then fate takes things a leap further when a lightning storm catapults Emma right into Jane's body and her nineteenth-century world. As governess at Thornfield, Emma has a sense of belonging she's never known--and an attraction to the brooding Mr. Rochester. Now, moving between her two realities and uncovering secrets in both, Emma must decide whether her destiny lies in the pages of Jane's story, or in the unwritten chapters of her own. . .

I read A Breath of Eyre over a month ago, and somehow forgot to review it. So I don't remember the exact thoughts I had after finishing this book, but I do know that I really liked it.

Jane Eyre is one of my favorite classic novels so I love reading YA that's inspired by this great work. Eve Marie Mont did a wonderful job of incorporating the aspects and themes of Jane Eyre into A Breath of Eyre. Not only does Emma get catapulted into the actual story of Jane Eyre and becomes Jane, but her real life mirrors the book pretty well too. Her mother is dead and she feels isolated, especially at her boarding school. That is, until she makes a new friend. Romantic interest Gray is also a parallel to Mr. Rochester and has his own secret that Emma must figure out.

Even though I know how Jane Eyre ends, that didn't stop me from enjoying this book. First off, when Emma is in the story, she changes the ending. She doesn't act the same way that Jane does and that really surprised. I liked seeing Emma become her own character with more depth. Apparently there are two more books in this trilogy and I'm really curious as to how the author makes those stories work too. Though the next book is A Touch of Scarlet and I've never read The Scarlet Letter. I guess now I better get on that.

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

2013/Kensington Publishing/353 pages.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Frostbite by Richelle Mead

Rose loves Dimitri, Dimitri might love Tasha, and Mason would die to be with Rose...

It’s winter break at St. Vladimir’s, but Rose is feeling anything but festive. A massive Strigoi attack has put the school on high alert, and now the Academy’s crawling with Guardians—including Rose’s hard-hitting mother, Janine Hathaway. And if hand-to-hand combat with her mom wasn’t bad enough, Rose’s tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason’s got a huge crush on her, and Rose keeps getting stuck in Lissa’s head while she’s making out with her boyfriend, Christian! The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy’s not taking any risks... This year, St. Vlad’s annual holiday ski trip is mandatory.

But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only create the illusion of safety. When three friends run away in an offensive move against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. But heroism rarely comes without a price... (From GoodReads)

Now that I'm hooked on the Vampire Academy series, I'm going to have to read all six books. Better get started while I'm on break! Luckily for me, the second book was just as good as the first.

It will be hard to review these books because I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but I'll try my best. Rose is still the awesome character that she was before but she's learning some self-control and how to rein in her impulsive behaviors. I love character development and these are important lessons for any teenager, but especially one who deals with the paranormal on a daily basis. I loved seeing the relationship between Dimitri and Rose development. It's forbidden (in a few ways) which makes it even more exciting. On the other hand, the friendship between Lissa and Rose was not as strong in Frostbite which was disappointing. Lissa now has a boyfriend which is the obvious reason but Rose had her own issues which distanced herself from her best friend. In the next book I would like to see the two girls become close again.

Onto the next book!

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

2008/Razorbill/327 pages

Friday, January 3, 2014

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger...

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever. (from GoodReads)

So Vampire Academy is going to be a movie! My friend wants to see it and suggested that I read the book first, which is the obvious course of action. So I dutifully borrowed her copy and I am so glad I did. Vampire Academy was a very exciting and fast-paced novel that I can't believe I've waited this long to read.

Vampires aren't all the rage anymore, but a good vampire story still works. That was definitely the case with Vampire Academy. The mythology is different than what we're used to. There's vampire royalty with their own laws and customs. Vampires (or Moroi in this book) can do magic, but only use it for peaceful methods. There are half human, half vampire creatures called Dhampirs, which use their heightened senses and strength to protect the Moroi. The teenage Moroi and Damphirs train and learn together at a boarding school colloquially referred to as "Vampire Academy." After you understand all the background, the story is super easy to get lost in and the pages fly by.

The book centers on Rose, who is a dhampir and is training to be a Guardian to her best friend Lissa. Since Lissa is the last member of her royal family, she's a pretty important person. I loved the relationship between the two girls. There is definitely a lack of great female friendships in YA and there needs to be more like this one. I could really tell that Lissa and Rose cared about each other and it was just a great bond. Speaking of Rose, she is a pretty awesome character. She's impulsive, emotional, tough, strong and she'll kick anyone's butt who messes with her. Rose is a not a traditional female character which I love. She talks back in class, gets in fistfights and is a force of nature. Not that those are traits everyone should have, but it was so refreshing to see such a rebellious character.

Like I stated earlier, the plot is very exciting. There's a twist and I guessed half of it, but I was still surprised by the actual ending. I really enjoyed reading about the secret world of Moroi and Dhampirs and can't wait to see what happens next. Luckily for me there are five other books in this series! I'll have plenty of reading material.

Rating: 9 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from a friend.

2007/Razorbill/332 pages.