Thursday, September 29, 2011

THE FAERIE RING by Kiki Hamilton

YA Historical Paranormal
252 pages
Available now (Sept. 2011)
Review copy provided by publisher 

The year is 1871, and Tiki has been making a home for herself and her family of orphans in a deserted hideaway adjoining Charing Cross Station in central London. Their only means of survival is by picking pockets. One December night, Tiki steals a ring, and sets off a chain of events that could lead to all-out war with the Fey. For the ring belongs to Queen Victoria, and it binds the rulers of England and the realm of Faerie to peace. With the ring missing, a rebel group of faeries hopes to break the treaty with dark magic and blood—Tiki’s blood.

Unbeknownst to Tiki, she is being watched—and protected—by Rieker, a fellow thief who suspects she is involved in the disappearance of the ring. Rieker has secrets of his own, and Tiki is not all that she appears to be. Her very existence haunts Prince Leopold, the Queen’s son, who is driven to know more about the mysterious mark that encircles her wrist.
Prince, pauper, and thief—all must work together to secure the treaty… 

Positive: The historical aspect. Oh, well done, Kiki Hamilton! I loved traveling down twisting alleyways and dancing across glittering ballrooms of Victorian London with Tiki.

Positive: The fabulous characters. Even the secondary characters were sparkling with life. The main character, Tiki is such a brave soul with a kind heart. Sure, she's a pickpocket but a girl's got to make a living and feed her "family". Well-known among the urchins and thieves that populate the coal-choked streets of London, Rieker is a mysterious presence in Tiki's life. Darkly handsome, Rieker looks out for Tiki, though she doesn't want him around (or so she thinks). But he's got some serious dark secrets that he's unwilling to share. Intriguing.

Positive: The menace and mystery of the Fey. Once Tiki snatches the ring, she starts to see shadows following her, and dark creatures lurking in the corners, staring at her. A beautiful, otherworldly blonde seems to follow her everywhere. They're not very nice creatures who want to get their hands on the ring no matter who they have to kill to get it. The ring itself is a very cool concept -- a treaty between England and the Fey held within the depths of a ruby red stone.

Wish: That we learned more about Tiki and Rieker. While the end is satisfying with no cliffhanger, there are several murky elements regarding Tiki and Rieker's relations and connections to...some other characters (yes, I realize that's murky, too, but I don't want to spoil anything). Perhaps there's a follow-up novel in the works? 'Cause I'd really like that. Then maybe some more of those connections would be revealed.

Overall: Fast-paced and fabulous, this debut novel immerses readers in a gritty Victorian London populated by pickpockets, princes, and some rather scary faeries.

Available through Amazon | IndieBound

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Waiting on...UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi

I've heard such amazing things about this book already, and I can't wait to read it (oh, I hold such jealousy for those who've gotten their hot little hands on it! Darned you, green-eyed monster.). 

And isn't this cover cool? I like how the light streaks out behind the girl who's striding forward as if she has a serious purpose. Plus, the blues are very pretty and eye-catching.

YA Dystopia
400 pages
Releases January 3, 2012
HarperCollins

Exiled from her comfortable home, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland – called the Death Shop – are slim. Violent energy storms can strike suddenly, and even the very air she breathes might kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He’s wild, dangerous – a savage. He’s also her only hope. 

Because Aria alone holds the key to his redemption, Perry needs her, too. Their unlikely alliance will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.

 
Waiting on is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Winners, winners -- We Got Some Winnahs!

Is anyone else sad that summer's over? I mean, I like the fall but the winter literally gives me the shivers. What? You don't care? You just want the winners for The Book Swarm's "Share Your Most Outrageous Summer Story" contest?

I can do that. (Are you sure you don't want me to whine about the inevitable seasonal fade from soft, silky warmth into bone-chilling cold? No?)

Fine. Without further ado, the winners (including commentary from that fabulous author, Jan Blazanin, who picked our Egmont prize winners):

GRAND PRIZE WINNER
OF THE EGMONT ORIGINAL PAPERBACK PRIZE PACK:
#1 Richland (Entry 28) This kid is a great writer! She made a "100% not true" story sound plausible--until the shark in the bathtub, of course--with funny details and a natural voice. If she's one of your students, give her extra credit! (She is and she's definitely getting extra credit! Nice job, Jennifer!)

WINNER OF A SIGNED COPY OF A&L DO SUMMER:
#2 Candace (Entry 1) She had an Aspen and Laurel summer complete with mishaps and cute boys. I loved the part about her friend throwing her phone # out the car window as the boy ran behind the car. Too bad the guy turned out to be a jerk.

WINNER OF A SIGNED COPY OF A&L DO SUMMER:
#3 Josh R. (Entry 46) His real-life tubing adventure was full of action and scary moments. And his reflection at the end about hitting rocks that slow you down when you want to go fast and having no rocks around when you need to slow down gave me a smile. It's kind of like life, you know!
 
Jan Blazanin said, "The stories were so much fun!" Thank you, Jan, for judging these entries!
 
And the WINNER OF THE $10 GIFT CERTIFICATE TO AMAZON.COM:
(as chosen by Random.org)
Ronteona (#19)

Congratulations to all the winners!

Teen Review: LIFE AS WE KNEW IT by Susan Beth Pfeffer

YA Post-Apocalyptic
337 pages
Available now (Oct. 2006)
Library copy

Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.

Michael's Thoughts: LIFE AS WE KNEW IT is a book written as a diary from the perspective of a teenage girl during a catastrophic event. Miranda lives with her mom and little brother, Jonny. Miranda loves to swim, Jonny loves baseball, and their mom enjoys helping and taking care of people and gardening. The first couple of chapters of the book let you know about Miranda's school, her life, and her background. It's all pretty normal.

Until a meteor hits the moon.

In my opinion, this book is not easy to understand unless you put yourself in Miranda's place. This story has a great plot and events that carry you through the book and make you anxious to get to the end. The family's been through so much but with a great deal of faith. With that great faith, they manage to work through the toughest times and still maintain their sanity. Miranda's mother cares for her and her brother during this tumultuous time like an Italian would a soccer ball.

While I think that this book has too many individual events and conflicts, I really got into it. Eventually, I was able to tell something bad was about to happen by judging Miranda's mood and that gave this book the diary feeling it was aiming for. Whenever, I finished reading for the night, I felt weird because it seemed as if it really happened, and it took time for me to adjust to reality again.

Teen Reviewer Michael: I love to play soccer and my viola. I also love being with and talking to my friends and family.

Monday, September 26, 2011

EVE by Anna Carey

YA Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopia
200 pages
Available Oct. 4, 2011
Review copy provided by publisher (via Amazon Vine)

The year is 2032, sixteen years after a deadly virus—and the vaccine intended to protect against it—wiped out most of the earth’s population. The night before eighteen-year-old Eve’s graduation from her all-girls school she discovers what really happens to new graduates, and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust...and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.

Positive: The dystopia of Eve's world. A massive plague wiped out the majority of the population. The U.S. government fell. A King rose in its place and he rules with a velvet glove -- one that covers an iron fist. He's found a way to rebuild and repopulate the country on the backs of the orphans of the plague.

Positive: Arden. At School, she's a girl Eve and her friends loved to hate but she's so much smarter than all of them put together. She figures out what's really going on with the Graduates and takes off but not before telling Eve about the atrocities the King commits in the name of rebuilding. She's also got enough sense to learn how to live outside the walls of the School, to figure out how to survive in the wilderness.

Wish: A little more complexity to this story. It's a pretty simple plotline: girl finds out terrible secret about her world; girl escapes; girl runs into trouble and is rescued by cute boy; they both run into trouble; they figure a way out. The end.

Wish: That Eve weren't such a wimp. Unfortunately for her, she's a product of her environment. She wasn't raised to be brave. She was raised--brainwashed, actually--to be afraid of pretty much everything except for the King. Men? Hideous monsters who only want one thing. Wild dogs? They'll eat you. Anyone outside the walls of the cities? Wild, uncivilized savages who'd just as soon kill you as look at you. She's completely unprepared to leave the School and, without Arden, would have died within days. Still, I prefer my main characters to have a bit more gumption.

Overall: While it's not a stand-out amongst the vast array of dystopian novels currently on the market, EVE is a great starter for those who haven't yet dipped their toes in this genre.

Available through Amazon | IndieBound

Saturday, September 24, 2011

DESCENDED BY BLOOD by Angeline Kace: Blog Tour and Giveaway!

Today, the fabulous Angeline Kace, author of Descended by Blood, visits The Book Swarm to talk about some of her favorite middle grade and young adult books! A big "Thank you!" to Angeline for including me in your blog tour and to Jessica from Confessions of a Bookaholic for putting it together.

So, without further ado, Angeline talks books...

My Favorite MG/YA Books

When I was younger, I really liked to read, but my favorite books were of the non-fiction variety. I had books about bears, monkeys, Egypt, and anything else that was interesting and had some fun pictures. But there are two books that stand out to me to this day that I really liked.

The first book, actually, it's more of a series of books, was Goose Bumps. I LOVED them when I was younger. For every book fair and every book order, I'd order some Goose Bumps books. They were just creepy enough to kind of scare me, but not enough that I ever had nightmares. I had whole sets of those books. My nephew now has many of them.

I also really liked James and the Giant Peach. I can still remember some of the scenes very vividly within my mind's eye. That was a great book.

I went through a reading dry spell from junior high until about two years ago when I read Twilight. That book really ignited my love for books, so that's definitely one of my favorite series ever. I've read the books about three times, which is a lot for me because I'm not really a re-reader. I'm more of a "search and destroy" type reader. And by that, I mean that I have a hunger for books and I devour one, and then I'm onto the next.

Another young adult series that I really like is the Vampire Academy series. Richelle Mead sure can write. And I really enjoyed reading about Rose and Dimitri. I certainly enjoyed that Rose was a strong female lead who stood up for herself and her friends.

The Hunger Games was a book that I didn't really know what to expect going into it, but I end up loving it. It was so intense and creative. All of the books stirred deep emotions within me while I read them, but I think the first book remains my favorite of the series.

Finally, the last series that is one of my favorites is the Trylle Trilogy by Amanda Hocking. These books swept me away. The story was completely different from anything I'd ever read before-- YA or Adult fiction. And I had a really hard time getting into other books after I read the first two books. All I could think about was Wendy and Finn. I just wasn't ready to invest my emotions and mind into other characters.

Thank you so much for hosting me today Mary! It has been a pleasure to stop by your blog.
 
For more info on Angeline, visit her site:
 
DESCENDED BY BLOOD by Angeline Kace
Summary: Brooke Keller is a high school junior who has never spent much time living in one place. She is finally in a town long enough to almost snag the boy of her dreams, until her life is threatened after killing a fanged man in his attempt to kidnap her. Brooke begins a dangerous journey in an effort to find out who is after her and how to stop them. In a world with powerful and prejudiced vampires, Brooke must tap into the side of her that she never knew existed at the risk of losing her life in order to save it.
 
 The speed-round giveaway:
 
-One person will win the skin prize pack, which includes a Kindle or Nook eReader skin, an ebook, a signed bookmark, and a nail polish
-Contest is open to U.S. residents only
-Contest runs 9/24 (now) until 9/26 (Mon.) 
 
All you have to do is comment on this post (be sure to leave an email address so Angeline can contact you).

The Tour Continues...
Friday, September 23, 2011 ~ La Femme Readers, "Vamps from Croatia" with Paperback *
Saturday, September 24, 2011 ~ The Book Swarm, Guest post, Skin *
Monday, September 26, 2011 ~ Absconditas, Fun Character post with Paperback 
Tuesday, September 27, 2011 ~ The Bookworms, Guest Post with Skin *
Wednesday, September 28, 2011 ~ Bewitched Bookworms, Skin *
Thursday, September 29, 2011 ~ Flippin' Fabulous, Guest post with Skin

Friday, September 23, 2011

Banned Books Week Hop and Giveaway!

 Enter to win One of Two
$15 Gift Certificates to Amazon.com!
This week starts Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and I Read Banned Books. What is Banned Books Week and why on Earth should we be hopping during it?

Well, here's a snippet from last year's Speak Loudly post: Being an American and an avid reader of all flavors of books, I believe we have the right to certain freedoms including freedom of choice. We have the right to choose what we want to read. We have the right to choose not to read a certain book. We have the right to be vocal about a book--whether to praise it or not. 
What we don't have the right to do is force our beliefs on someone else. That's what Banned Books Week, officially running from September 24-October 1 of this year, is all about. According to the American Library Association, one of the main sponsors of Banned Books Week, "Banned Books (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books  across the United States."

So, to encourage everyone to read some of those fabulous books that have been banned, I'm offering all my fellow readers the chance to win one of two $15 gift certificates to Amazon.com! Just fill out the form below for a chance to win. (And, yes, it's open internationally.)


And don't forget to visit the other Hop participants:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

DRAGON BOUND and STORM'S HEART by Thea Harrison

The following series (and the covers) are most definitely not suitable for younger audiences.

DRAGON BOUND by Thea Harrison
Urban Fantasy/Romance
312 pages
Available now
Review copy purchased
(This is actually the cover for the audiobook but I love it -- plus, it's a bit more how I pictured Dragos. Well, his torso, anyway. *drool*)

Half-human and half-wyr, Pia Giovanni spent her life keeping a low profile among the wyrkind and avoiding the continuing conflict between them and their dark Fae enemies. But after being blackmailed into stealing a coin from the hoard of a dragon, Pia finds herself targeted by one of the most powerful-and passionate-of the Elder races.

Holy cow! This book is filled with such steamy goodness and testosterone, I almost passed out while reading it. I have my new book boyfriend: I'm in love with Dragos, the most alpha of alpha males and super-hot dragon man. Would that I were Pia. Unfortunately, I'm afraid I'm going to have to have a smackdown with Jenny of Supernatural Snark over Dragos. She did recommend this series to me, after all. Does she have prior claim, then? Hum, I think not.

DRAGON BOUND takes off with a bang -- Pia's stolen something from the scariest creature on Earth and is on the run for her life. Dragos is determined to use any means possible to track the thief down and punish her. There's some serious mystery surrounding Pia, one that intrigues Dragos to no end and, once he has her within his grip, he's reluctant to let her go.

I can't rave about this book enough. All of the characters are fabulous -- even the secondary characters are amazing. The world Pia and Dragos live in is intricate and incredibly well-crafted. While Pia seems like a bit of a wimp and a little "oh, poor little me" at first, by the middle of the book, she shows that she actually a spine of steel hiding under all that fluff. And Dragos. Oh, my heart be still. He's one awesome alpha male. *drool* (again) I want more like him. More, more, more!

So...I immediately downloaded the next book in the Elder series to my Kindle and dove right in!

STORM'S HEART by Thea Harrison
Urban Fantasy/Romance
305 pages
Available now
Review copy purchased

During the rule of her murderous Dark Fae uncle, Thistle "Tricks" Periwinkle found sanctuary among the Wyr in New York. Her ethereal beauty and sparkling personality won the hearts of the public, but after her uncle's death, there are those who don't want to see her ascend the throne...

Able to wield thunder and lightning, Wyr sentinel Tiago Black Eagle has ruled the skies for centuries. His massive build and thunderous power make him one of the Wyr's best weapons. And he's the one sent to protect Tricks when she's almost assassinated in Chicago.

Soon, both Tiago and Tricks will fall prey to the stormy hunger that engulfs them- a passion that will shake the very foundation of all the worlds
.

We caught a glimpse of Tiago (one of Dragos's sentinels) and Tricks (PR Faerie for Dragos's multi-billion dollar company) in DRAGON BOUND. They were arguing, sparks flying between them as Tiago tried to boss Tricks around, and Tricks gave it back to him as good as she got it. STORM'S HEART picks up shortly after the end of the first Elder novel. 

Tricks left her PR position and gone to Chicago to claim the Dark Fae throne, albeit very reluctantly. But she disappears and rumors about what happened to her fly. Tiago immediately takes a leave of absence and heads out to protect her, soon finding Tricks hiding out in a crappy hotel room with a bottle of vodka and a pack of smokes.

Tricks (who is actually called Niniane) is a great character. She's spunky yet vulnerable, her teeny-tiny self contrasting with Tiago's massive proportions. Tiago's another fabulous alpha male -- not as awesome as Dragos (that's right, go book boyfriend!), but certainly not a disappointment. The chemistry between Tricks and Tiago fairly crackles across the page, letting the reader know that those two are not going to let anything get between them. Not political maneuverings nor assassination attempts nor wild Wyr passion.

This second book in the series has a bit too much info dumping at the beginning, and, while interesting, I really just wanted Tiago to change into his Thunderbird shape and kick some Dark Fae butt to rescue Tricks. Still, a wonderful addition to the Elder series.

I can't wait until October and Rune's story! I hear he's hooking up with that crazy vampire queen... (Releases Oct. 4th)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Waiting on...INSURGENT by Veronica Roth

I know that, with the release of the cover this week, plenty of people will have this on their Waiting on but I couldn't help myself. I absolutely loved DIVERGENT -- one of the best books of the year -- and I can't wait to read INSURGENT by Veronica Roth!

YA Urban Fantasy/Dystopia
288 pages
Releases May 28, 2012
HarperCollins

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

Isn't that an absolutely gorgeous cover? The sky looks like an impending storm and I like how the El is speeding across the bottom of the cover. Waiting On is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

So, what are you waiting on?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Teen Review: BY THE TIME YOU READ THIS, I'LL BE DEAD by Julie Anne Peters

YA Contemporary
200 pages
Available now (Jan. 2010)
Personal copy

Daelyn Rice is broken beyond repair, and after a string of botched suicide attempts, she’s determined to get her death right. She starts visiting a website for “completers”— www. through-the-light.com. 

While she’s on the site, Daelyn blogs about her life, uncovering a history of bullying that goes back to kindergarten. When she’s not on the Web, Daelyn’s at her private school, where she’s known as the freak who doesn’t talk.

Then, a boy named Santana begins to sit with her after school while she’s waiting to for her parents to pick her up. Even though she’s made it clear that she wants to be left alone, Santana won’t give up. And it’s too late for Daelyn to be letting people into her life…isn’t it?

National Book Award finalist Julie Anne Peters shines a light on how bullying can push young people to the very edge.

Basil's Thoughts: Daelyn Rice is a high school student who's dead inside. She's attempted to commit suicide multiple times and failed, leaving behind scars to remind her of her failure every day. Her most recent attempt left her mute. But this time, she's determined to get it right. She wants nothing but the peace and freedom from constant bullying that she thinks will come with death.

But then she meets Santana, a boy who looks at life in a positive and completely different way than she does, one who tries to save her, one who doesn't want to be left with only the memory of the lonely, mute girl.

Overall, I think this book has great meaning to it. We get into the deep, dark depths of Daelyn's soul and watch her change into a person she didn't want to be. But the ending, I thought, is crap. She goes a way neither I nor Santana nor her parents want her to go (and I'm not saying that she kills herself -- read the book and you'll know what I mean). I think that teens going through some of the same stuff as Daelyn could really relate to this book.

Each day, she's anticipating the date she plans to have with the dirt but it doesn't come as fast as she wants it to. It's heart-wrenching and heart-breaking. I read breathlessly as a lonely girl's worst nightmares came back to life. And I read as a boy fell in love with someone he wasn't supposed to. Although it was depressing (but good!), I believe this book can inspire others, and it sure has inspired me.

Teen Reviewer Basil: I'm 15 years old and was born and raised in the South. My best friend has paws, and her name is Daisy. I've played soccer my whole life, and plan on continuing with it as long as I can. My favorite color is green, and my favorite animal is a giraffe.

Monday, September 19, 2011

DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor

YA Urban Fantasy
432 pages
Available Sept. 27, 2011
Review copy provided by publisher (via Amazon Vine)

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages—not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself? 

Positive: The writing. Laini Taylor's writing is positively lyrical. It draws the reader deep into Karou's world as she walks down the cobblestone alleys of Prague and weaves her way through the noisy, humanity-filled streets of Marrakesh. The sights, sounds, and smells practically leap off the page. Gorgeous.

Positive: The characters: Karou, the chimaera who make up Karou's family, and Zuzana...even Akiva, though it took me a long time to warm up to him. Beautifully drawn and emotionally complex, the characters in this novel hooked me from the start and made me care about what happened to them.
Positive: The mythology and worldbuilding. So not what I expected. But amazing. Absolutely. (I really don't want to go into more detail--spoilers!)

Wish: How can I say this without saying too much? Well, I want to see more of Karou. Yes, she's the main character and is there throughout but...we get drawn into another world and Karou kind of loses track of what makes her human (with good reason but still). Gah! I'd go into more detail but I don't want to muck it up for those who haven't read this fabulous book yet.

Overall: Lyrical and engaging, DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE will blow your mind.
Available through Amazon | IndieBound

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Last Chance To Enter!

Have you come up with a crazy summer story yet? Have you shared it with us? 

I mean, there are some AWESOME Egmont books you can win PLUS a chance at a $10 gift certificate from Amazon, just for entering or spreading the word! How can you go wrong?


Contest ends tomorrow (9/19) at 5pm EST.

Friday, September 16, 2011

JULIET IMMORTAL by Stacy Jay

YA Paranormal Romance
304 pages
Available now (Aug. 2011)
Review copy provided by publisher (via Amazon Vine)

"These violent delights have violent ends And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which as they kiss consume."
—Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

The most tragic love story in history . . .
Juliet Capulet didn't take her own life. She was murdered by the person she trusted most, her new husband, Romeo Montague, a sacrifice made to ensure his own immortality. But what Romeo didn't anticipate was that Juliet would be granted eternity, as well, and would become an agent for the Ambassadors of Light. For 700 years, she's fought Romeo for the souls of true lovers, struggling to preserve romantic love and the lives of the innocent. Until the day she meets someone she's forbidden to love, and Romeo, oh Romeo, will do everything in his power to destroy that love.

Positive: Juliet vs. Romeo. Who woulda thunk it? The greatest love story of all time, a fake? Romeo, that jerk, killed his "true love" and, because of that, they're both destined to fight over the souls of those who are destined for true love. What an awesome twist.

Positive: Romeo. Oh, he plays such a great Bad Guy. He's weasel-y. He's completely untrustworthy. He's unforgivably charming when he wants something. And it seems, sometimes anyway, that he actually does love Juliet. When he's not trying to kill her...again.

Positive: Light vs. Darkness. I really enjoy stories like this, especially when it gets murky and the light and dark blend into shades of gray.

Wish: That some of the murkiness was a bit clearer. Romeo told the story of how the Mercenaries weren't all bad and the Ambassadors weren't really that good and, for me, it was a bit muddled and overly-complicated.

Overall: To quote the priest in THE PRINCESS BRIDE, "Lwove, Twue Lwove will fowllow you foevah. So tweasure your one...". Hurray for a twist on a classic and a happy ending to a truly tragic story.

Available through Amazon | IndieBound

Thursday, September 15, 2011

SWEET VENOM by Tera Lynn Childs

YA Urban Fantasy (mythology)
352 pages
Available now (Sept. 2011)
Review copy provided by publisher (via Amazon Vine)

Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it’s also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster.

Gretchen is tired of monsters pulling her out into the wee hours, especially on a school night, but what can she do? Sending the minotaur back to his bleak home is just another notch on her combat belt. She never expected to run into this girl who could be her double, though.

Greer has her life pretty well put together, thank you very much. But that all tilts sideways when two girls who look eerily like her appear on her doorstep and claim they're triplets, supernatural descendants of some hideous creature from Greek myth, destined to spend their lives hunting monsters.

These three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful gorgon maligned by myth, must reunite and embrace their fates in this unique paranormal world where monsters lurk in plain sight.

Positive: The mythology. I truly love modernized myths especially when they're done well. And Tera Lynn Childs does it extremely well. In this story, Medusa and her sisters aren't the hideous creatures they're made out to be in ancient mythology. Actually, they're guardians, tasked with sending all manner of beasties back through to the other side. (The mean stories were  circulated by that evil chick, Athena, who never liked Medusa.) Gretchen, Grace, and Greer are all descendants of Medusa and, therefore, guardians like their ancestors.

Positive: The three sisters. They're all so very different but, once they find each other, they complement each other. When first introduced to the girls, I thought they were too diverse, as if the author went out of her way to make the girls' lives, abilities, and attitudes extreme opposites. But their differences grew on me and, by the end, I could see why she made them like that.

Positive: The set-up of the story. Childs teases her readers with glimpses into each of the girls' minds, providing a window into their lives. There is a complete story in SWEET VENOM, one of the triplets reuniting, uncovering the mystery of their powers, and finding their purpose. But, with an explosive ending and plenty of loose ends, there are obviously more books in the works (three, I believe).

Wish: More THANE! Thane is Grace's adoptive brother. He's the strong, silent type and is incredibly mysterious. He's very protective of Grace but, as Grace finds first Gretchen then Greer and learns about her heritage, he does a disappearing act. *sigh* I was disappointed to see him go -- I suspect he plays a key role in future Sweet novels. (I hope!)

Overall: SWEET VENOM is an awesome urban fantasy peopled with girls who aren't afraid to step up and bite some beasties. Can't wait to see what happens with the girls next!

Available through Amazon | IndieBound

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Waiting On...SHOOTING STARS by Allison Rushby

I had such a hard time choosing a book I'm waiting on this week mostly because there are way too many out there! Is it just me or are YA novels just getting better and better? Because my TBR list is NOT going down despite my prolific reading...

So, I picked this one, which sounds adorable. Darned paparazzi! Or, in this case, yay paparazzi!

YA Contemporary
272 pages
Releases Feb. 28, 2012
Walker & Company

Meet Josephine Foster, or Zo Jo as she’s called in the biz. The best pint-sized photographer of them all, Jo doesn’t mind doing what it takes to get that perfect shot, until she’s sent on an undercover assignment to shoot Ned Hartnett—teen superstar and the only celebrity who’s ever been kind to her—at an exclusive rehabilitation retreat in Boston. The money will be enough to pay for Jo’s dream: real photography classes, and maybe even quitting her paparazzi gig for good. Everyone wants to know what Ned’s in for. But Jo certainly doesn’t know what she’s in for: falling in love with Ned was never supposed to be part of her assignment.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cover Reveal: OBSIDIAN by Jennifer L. Armentrout

So, the fabulous Jennifer L. Armentrout asked bloggers if we'd be interested in helping her release the cover and official blurb for her newest book. Of course, I said YES! Sign me up. First, here's the blurb on Publisher Marketplace. (As you can see, I fixed the blurb so the title's correct. Although, I like the other title, too.)

Children's: Young Adult
Jennifer Armentrout's SHADOW OF THE STARS OBSIDIAN, in which a seventeen-year-old Florida book blogger moves to Nowhere, West Virginia, expecting thick accents, outhouses, and maybe a cute farm boy or two - -only to find her new next door neighbor is a hot alien with a galaxy of enemies out to steal his abilities, to Liz Pelletier at Entangled, in a nice deal, in a three-book deal, for publication in December 2011 (World).
 
OBSIDIAN by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Release Date: 12/06/2011
And here it is! The official blurb: 

Starting over sucks.
When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I’d pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, outhouses, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring. Until I spotted my hot neighbor with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.
And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something…unexpected happens.
The hot alien living next door marked me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and the mark he left on me has me lit up like Las Vegas strip to the bad guys. The only way I'm getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades. If I don't kill him first, that is.
And then things got really bad…
Ooh, that is one adorable boy on that cover! I mean, who cares if he's an alien? He could give me alien cooties anytime! And the story sounds excellent -- kind of a Roswell-esque story with a little I Am Number Four thrown in for even more excitement.

Here are all the links:
(Pre-order for Amazon isn't up quite yet...)

Monday, September 12, 2011

ENTHRALLED Edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong

YA Paranormal
464 pages
Available Sept. 20, 2011
Review copy provided by author

A journey may take hundreds of miles, or it may cover the distance between duty and desire.
Sixteen of today’s hottest writers of paranormal tales weave stories on a common theme of journeying. Authors such as Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Caine, and Melissa Marr return to the beloved worlds of their bestselling series, while others, like Claudia Gray, Kami Garcia, and Margaret Stohl, create new landscapes and characters. But whether they’re writing about vampires, faeries, angels, or other magical beings, each author explores the strength and resilience of the human heart.
Suspenseful, funny, or romantic, the stories in Enthralled will leave you moved.

I wasn't expecting to like the stories in ENTHRALLED as much as I did. Sure, there are some absolutely fabulous authors who contributed to this anthology (including Kelley Armstrong, Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Sarah Rees Brennan, Rachel Caine, Ally Condie, Kimberly Derting, Kami Garcia, Claudia Gray, Melissa Marr, Jackson Pearce, Mary E. Pearson, Carrie Ryan, Jeri Smith-Ready, Margaret Stohl, Jessica Verday and Rachel Vincent), and I knew I couldn't go wrong -- there was sure to be something I'd like. But I ended up liking pretty much everything! Among my favorites were:

RED RUN by Kami Garcia
Edie's out to kill a ghost, the one who haunted Red Run for the past twenty years, the one who killed her own brother. But when she finally gets him in her car, ready to do the deed, she finds out there's more to his story.

There's just something about urban legends that always catches my interest. I love them. Can't get enough. And Garcia strikes all the right chords with this hitchhiker ghost story.

LET'S GET THIS UNDEAD SHOW ON THE ROAD by Sarah Rees Brennan
Christian's a vampire rock star, living the life. Well, not really. His bandmates don't really like him, he doesn't like the spotlight, his family kicked him out, and he doesn't even like being a vamp all that much. But when he and his mates are kidnapped, all that changes.

Usually these days, I roll my eyes at vampire stories (too much! Dear god, too many!) but this one made me laugh. I enjoyed all the characters and the writing was fabulous!

THE THIRD KIND by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
When Kissy says they have to go somewhere, she means it. And, being a good sister, Jess goes. After all, her sister's never been wrong, especially when her eyes get all green and glowy. But the trip to San Antonio is more adventure than Jess bargained for.

I'm a JLB fangirl; her Raised By Wolves series is fantastic. This short story doesn't disappoint and leaves me wondering -- is she planning on using this story as a jumping-off point for a new series? Because it would totally rock! Jess and Kissy are a great team, and I love the go-go-girl power of the two of them.

Available through Amazon | IndieBound

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In My Mailbox (17)

Holy cow, it's been for-evah since I did an IMM (hosted by The Story Siren). But I was inspired by the end-of-summer feel of the morning and Fiona sprawling all over the fabulous books I got this week...so here's what I got in my mailbox this week:
Isn't she precious? (Notice how she's trying to hide SAVE THE CAT? She's not a fan of cats, even fictional ones. She'd much prefer if no one tried to save them)

For Review:
Thank you so much to:
  • Amazon Vine
  • HarperTeen
  • Little, Brown
  • St. Martin's Griffin
  • Pyr
  • Katherine Tegen Books
Bought:

So, what books did you add to your TBR pile this week?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Quickie Review: RAGE by Jackie Morse Kessler

YA Paranormal
213 pages
Available now (Apr. 2011)
Review copy provided by publisher (via NetGalley)

Missy didn’t mean to cut so deep. But after the party where she was humiliated in front of practically everyone in school, who could blame her for wanting some comfort? Sure, most people don’t find comfort in the touch of a razor blade, but Missy always was . . . different.
That’s why she was chosen to become one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War. Now Missy wields a new kind of blade—a big, brutal sword that can cut down anyone and anything in her path. But it’s with this weapon in her hand that Missy learns something that could help her triumph over her own pain: control.

RAGE is the second novel in the Horsemen of the Apocalypse series and it certainly packs a visceral blow. Missy is a cutter, slicing into her own flesh to release her pain. But one day, she slices too deep, goes too far. And Death is there with an offer: Become his rider or die, bleeding to death from a too-deep cut.

While I didn't love everything about this book, it tells a unique story that kept me intrigued. Death is a fascinating character -- my favorite, actually. Missy, on the other hand, was sympathetic but hard to connect with. She's going through a terrible time and coping with it in the only way she knows, even though she's destroying herself. Her journey is perilous and difficult to read but completely worth it to do so.

Jackie Morse Kessler tackles another exceedingly difficult and emotionally-charged subject with a deft and sure hand. Her stories of The Horsemen of the Apocalypse are definitely worth picking up.

Friday, September 9, 2011

THE UNWANTEDS by Lisa McMann

MG Fantasy
390 pages
Available now (Aug. 2011)
Review copy provided by publisher and Kismet Book Touring

Every year in Quill, thirteen-year-olds are sorted into categories: the strong, intelligent Wanteds go to university, and the artistic Unwanteds are sent to their deaths. Thirteen-year-old Alex tries his hardest to be stoic when his fate is announced as Unwanted, even while leaving behind his twin, Aaron, a Wanted. Upon arrival at the destination where he expected to be eliminated, however, Alex discovers a stunning secret—behind the mirage of the “death farm” there is instead a place called Artime.
 
In Artime, each child is taught to cultivate their creative abilities and learn how to use them magically, weaving spells through paintbrushes and musical instruments. Everything Alex has ever known changes before his eyes, and it’s a wondrous transformation.

But it’s a rare, unique occurrence for twins to be separated between Wanted and Unwanted, and as Alex and Aaron’s bond stretches across their separation, a threat arises for the survival of Artime that will pit brother against brother in an ultimate, magical battle.

Positive: The concept. I love the idea of Wanteds, Necessaries, and Unwanteds. I love that the Unwanteds might have been headed off to the Death Camp but end up in the colorful, magical world of Artime. Of course, the Wanteds think they're pretty hot stuff, getting to stay in their gray, structured world of Quill. And the Necessaries, well, they stay in Quill and "get" to do the grunt work (poor Necessaries).

Positive: The magic of Artime. It's so cool how the magic forms to each kid's individual talent. If you're a singer, your magic emerges in the music you make. If you're an artist, the magic flows from your paintbrushes and pictures. And, once the kids have some basic skills in their talent area (since they had absolutely no exposure to it in Quill and had to learn from scratch), they get Magical Warrior Training, truly harnessing their magic in creative ways, learning how to protect themselves and defend their new home.

Positive: The creatures and other denizens of Artime. I'm not sure if they were created by the original magic-users or if they just appeared fully formed in the world, like Athena sprang from Zeus's head. Either way, they're creative and unusual: Platyprots, girrinos, alligator-octopi, a winged tortoise named Jim; huge stone, winged cheetahs (yes, that's him on the cover; he's not chasing the kids either, he's helping defend Artime alongside them); and even talking blackboards with snarky personalities.

Wish: That Alex didn't turn into a sad sack in the middle of the book. Alex pines for his brother, Aaron, who stayed in Quill and is satisfied with his life there, not even thinking of his brother (okay, he is...just a little bit). He wants to rescue Aaron from his gray existence. But he winds up completely withdrawing from his friends (yes, there were some other circumstances but still). I feel for him but he's a bit too withdrawn.

Overall: A fabulous middle grade read! THE UNWANTEDS is an exciting journey through a stark, rule-bound world and into a magical realm where paper dragons breathe fire and the mansion where they all live really is bigger on the inside.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

It's Friday! Time to Hop!

It's been a while since I've hopped so I figured it was time for a trip around the blogosphere... Hey, leave a comment! I'm always up for new book friends! And, of course, thanks to Jen at Crazy for Books for hosing this hop.
Book Blogger Hop

“Many of us primarily read one genre of books, with others sprinkled in. If authors stopped writing that genre, what genre would you start reading? Or would you give up reading completely if you couldn’t read that genre anymore?”

Hum, interesting question! Even though I'm currently obsessed with Urban Fantasy, I don't think I could give up reading just because that genre disappeared. Plus, I tend to be a genre-hopper. My past obsessions include romance (ooh, the trashier, the better), historical romance (yes, I consider that to be a different genre!), cozy mysteries, detective/crime/medical novels (like Kathy Reichs or Patricia Cornwell), and SciFi.
I think I'd head for contemporaries -- possibly adventure and/or mystery -- if my urban fantasies disappeared completely.