Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Waiting On...LEGACY OF TRIL: SOULBOUND by Heather Brewer

Does this chick not look like she can kick some serious ass? I know I wouldn't want to meet her in a dark alley. Heather Brewer, best known for her Vladimir Todd series, looks to be bringing readers a fantastic new storyline with a female protagonist who can hold her own with just about anyone. Squee! Love a good urban fantasy.


The cover's kind of set up like many urban fantasies out there and I like how fierce she looks, with her sword, chain-mail face guard, and leather arm band. And the title really stands out in glowing red and gold letters. A little busy, but I can work with it.
YA Urban Fantasy
304 pages, hardcover
Releases on July 5, 2012
Publisher: Dial


What's worse than being blackmailed to attend a hidden school where you're treated like a second-class citizen? How about nearly getting eaten by a monster when you arrive? Or learning that your soulmate was killed in a centuries-old secret war? And then there's the evil king who's determined to rule the world unless you can stop him...


Meet Kaya, a young woman with the power to heal and the determination to fight. But struggle as she will, she remains tied to three very different men: a hero who has forsaken glory, a tyrannical ruler who wants to use Kaya, and a warrior who's stolen her heart. Kaya learns the hard way that some ties can't be broken...and blood is the strongest bond of all.


So, what are you waiting on?


Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Heal Up: TOUCH OF POWER by Maria V. Snyder

Fantasy
394 pages, paperback
Available now (Dec. 2011)
Publisher: Mira
Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley

Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan absorbs their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Fifteen Realms, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.

Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life...

Positive: Interesting world. While it isn't as nuanced or richly drawn as Snyder's other worlds, it's a great start to a new series, and I do hope we'll learn more as we travel through it. Hit hard by a plague that swept through the population, the fifteen realms are rebuilding. There's magic in the realms, though people have done their best to wipe some of it out. There's also plenty of political drama with much infighting and political machinations going on behind the scenes.

Positive: Kerrick, the head of the band of rogues who save her from death then drag her with them to their prince. At first, I wasn't a fan because he's all about his mission and doesn't really let us in but, after spending some time in his company, he really grew on me. He's a very enigmatic guy and very loyal to his people and his prince. The interplay between Kerrick and Avry is intriguing to watch, as they grow to like and understand one another through their journey.

Wish: That Avry weren't practically a Mary Sue character. Hunted and guaranteed death if she's caught, she still has to help people who are sick, especially the kids. When she is captured because she helps a sick child, she just accepts it and rolls over in her prison cell and goes to sleep. What? She's not going to fight at all? And, as a healer, she's pretty saintly anyway (see wish #2). She never really loses this Mary Sue saint thing, continuing to heal people to her own detriment.

Wish: That I understood the point of the healing power better. Healers can't heal the big stuff, and can't pull someone back from the brink of death if they had, say, a knife wound to the belly, because the healer would die. Healers can only heal a little at a time because they take the pain/illness into themselves and have to fight it off like a "normal" person since they don't have speedy healing themselves and can die just like everyone else. And it's not like they get off on the pain--if they were into that, at least it would be a benefit for them. Instead, they're almost saintly in their acceptance of the pain they take from others.

Overall: While this wasn't my favorite of Snyder's worlds or stories, I still really enjoyed it. 

Available on Amazon | IndieBound

Sunday, February 26, 2012

LORD OF THE ABYSS by Nalini Singh

Fantasy
288 pages, paperback
Available now (Nov. 2011)
Publisher: Harlequin
Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley

Once upon a time…the Blood Sorcerer vanquished the kingdom of Elden. To save their children, the queen scattered them to safety and the king filled them with vengeance. Only a magical timepiece connects the four royal heirs…and time is running out.…

As the dark Lord who condemns souls to damnation in the Abyss, Micah is nothing but a feared monster wrapped in impenetrable black armor. He has no idea he is the last heir of Elden, its last hope. Only one woman knows—the daughter of his enemy.

Liliana is nothing like her father, the Blood Sorcerer who’d cursed Micah. She sees past Micah’s armor to the prince inside. A prince whose sinful touch she craves. But first she has to brave his dark, dangerous lair and help him remember. Because they only have till midnight to save Elden.

Talk about having your dessert before dinner--I read this book before the other three in the series!  

Micah is the Lord of the Abyss, a terrible place where the bad folks go, and he's the one who hunts them down and contains them in the Abyss. He lives in the Black Castle, a forbidding residence with a dark history, and he doesn't know anything more than that. He doesn't know he's the youngest member of the royals of Elden, he doesn't know anything but his lonely existence.

Until Liliana literally falls right in front of him. Horribly abused by her evil father since childhood, Liliana wants only to help Micah remember himself and defeat the Blood Sorcerer. But Micah doesn't know why she's there, so he puts her to work as a maid in his household.

He finds himself fascinated by her and his sweet personality emerges in the form of little thoughtful gifts for Liliana. But Micah is disappearing beneath a covering of black armor and, when he's covered completely, the Micah of Elden will be gone forever. In the face of overwhelming odds, Liliana chips away at his armor both literally and figuratively uncovering the man beneath. Her perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds is admirable.

Just one wish with this book--that the end was a bit more end-y. This book contains the final battle of the siblings, who haven't seen each other for 20 years, against the Blood Sorcerer. The reunion is more of a fist-bump, "Hey, how ya doin'" rather than an "OMG, I haven't seen you in 20 years" grand reunion. It was too rushed for my taste.

This book is definitely cake with so many awesome elements coalescing into a fabulous story. Nalini Singh does it again.

Available on Amazon | IndieBound

Friday, February 24, 2012

Butt Rock Lives: BELIEVE IT OR NOT by Tawna Fenske

Romance
352 pages, paperback
Available March 6, 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Review copy provided by publisher

Do you believe in...accounting?

Numbers never lie, so Violet McGinn found safe haven in the most boring profession she could find. Until her renowned psychic mother lands in the hospital and Violet has to run her business. Now you can have your taxes filed and your aura read, in one convenient location. 


Do you believe in...music?

Drew Watson is the jaded owner of the local hot spot next door, and doesn't need a single thing except a good crowd to dance to what he's spinning on Saturday night.


Do you believe in...love?

The only thing Violet and Drew seem to have in common is that neither believes in that psychic hoo—hah. Except Drew seems to play exactly the right song at exactly the right time. And truth be told, it makes Violet's heart dance just a little ... 

Oh, I do believe Tawna Fenske is my new favorite humorous romance author. I giggled most of the way through this book, which I absolutely love in a romance. 

This is definitely a story of opposites attract. Violet's a seriously buttoned-up chickadee, an accountant who knows her numbers and her (many times useless) trivia. Drew's a total playboy, running a bar that features male strippers (woot!) and heading home with a new bed bunny practically every night. They're definitely nothing alike but there's a spark that neither of them can deny.

The secondary characters are just as much fun as Violet and Drew. First up, there's Violet's mom, Moonbeam. Moonbeam's a psychic and a totally crunchy hippie who just wants the best for her daughter. She works her magic hoo-doo behind the scenes to push Drew and Violet together, driving both of them insane with what they consider to be flightiness. Then there's Jamie, hot as all get-out and dumb as dirt. Super-sweet and kind to a fault, he's one of Drew's male strippers--a stripper with a heart of gold who Drew's taken under his wing. There are, of course, a plethora of other characters that add dimension and hilarity.

But the interplay between Violet and Drew is what kept me laughing. Their romance definitely follows a winding, nontraditional path as Drew blasts his 80's butt rock (we always called them "hair bands" but I kind of like the butt rock title) and Violet makes every attempt to ignore the infectious beats. Quirky and humorous, Fenske's sophomore release will strike a chord and have you humming along.

Available on Amazon | IndieBound

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Speed Date with Leah: KISS CRUSH COLLIDE by Christina Meredith

This is a new meme I'm starting. Next week, if you're interested, I'll set up a linky so we can do a full-on speed dating thing. All we need after that is some drinks and awkward conversation! Hehe.

KISS CRUSH COLLIDE by Christina Meredith 
YA Romance
313 pages, hardcover
Available now (Dec. 2011)
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Review copy provided by publisher via Amazon Vine

Kiss
What Leah did—only she really shouldn’t have—one hot night at a country club party.

Crush
What Leah has—only she really shouldn’t have—on the guy with the green eyes, the guy who is not her perfect boyfriend, the guy who does not fit in her picture-perfect life, the guy her sisters will only mock and her mother will never approve of. Not in a million years.

Collide
What happens when everything you always thought you wanted—having cool friends, being class valedictorian and homecoming queen—runs smack into everything it turns out you really do want.

Kiss. Crush. Collide.
For Leah and Porter, summer is only the beginning.

While the words flow and the pace is steady, it was a bit too predictable for me. Of course, it's a romance, so what do I expect, right? After all, the queens of YA romance, namely Sarah Dessen and Jennifer Echols, write somewhat predictable plotlines (hey, it's romance--everyone needs their HEA). But this story just didn't have me rooting for the main characters the way I'd have liked. Leah, the main character, isn't very deep and flits through her life like a carefree butterfly. She's got the money, the family, the smarts, and, of course, the football player boyfriend. But then she falls for Parker, a valet at her country club, and suddenly she's dating a boy from the wrong side of the tracks and questioning the direction her life is going and her place in the world.

A cute, light romance, KISS CRUSH COLLIDE will keep you turning the pages to find out what Leah decides to do and to read more about Leah's dysfunctional family.

Available on Amazon | IndieBound

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Waiting on...TIMEPIECE by Myra McEntire

Time travel books can be done really well or really poorly. This series? Done really well. I enjoyed the entire premise and the set-up in HOURGLASS and can't wait to see what Myra McEntire does within the world she created. It sounds like this book as a different main character (Kaleb versus Emerson) but that Emerson and Michael and the whole Hourglass group show up. Interesting... And I like how the cover follows it's predecessor, though it looks like the girl's struggling a bit more to keep her grip on things. I also like the funky angles of the wall and ceiling. It's rather eye-catching.
YA Paranormal
336 pages, hardcover
Releases on: June 12, 2012
Publisher: EgmontUSA


A threat from the past could destroy the future. And the clock is ticking...


Kaleb Ballard's relentless flirting is interrupted when Jack Landers, the man who tried to murder his father, timeslips in and attacks before disappearing just as quickly. But Kaleb has never before been able to see time travelers, unlike many of his friends associated with the mysterious Hourglass organization. Are Kaleb's powers expanding, or is something very wrong?


Then the Hourglass is issued an ultimatum. Either they find Jack and the research he's stolen on the time gene, or time will be altered with devestating results. Now Kaleb, Emerson, Michael, and the other Hourglass recruits have no choice but to use their unusual powers to find Jack. But where do they even start? And when? And even if they succeed, it may not be enough...


So, what are you waiting on?


Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

On the road again: THE DISENCHANTMENTS by Nina LaCour

YA Contemporary
307 pages, hardcover
Available now (Feb. 2012)
Publisher: Dutton Children's Books
Review copy shared through Southern ARC tours

Colby and Bev have a long-standing pact: graduate, hit the road with Bev's band, and then spend the year wandering around Europe. But moments after the tour kicks off, Bev makes a shocking announcement: she's abandoning their plans - and Colby - to start college in the fall.

But the show must go on and The Disenchantments weave through the Pacific Northwest, playing in small towns and dingy venues, while roadie- Colby struggles to deal with Bev's already-growing distance and the most important question of all: what's next?

Positive: Road trip! Even this isn't a happy-go-lucky road trip, it's still a good road trip. A chance for Colby and Bev and the other girls in the band to say goodbye before they all go their separate directions. They meet plenty of characters on their trip up the coast and into the Pacific Northwest (shocker, right?), and it's a great way for the whole band to spend some serious quality time together in an ancient Volkswagon.

Positive: The girls and their music. They're flat out bad but that's their beauty. They yell and scream and play exceptionally loud and dress in crazy-fun outfits; and the crowds, after a few moments of stunned silence, eat it up. Because the girls don't care--they're up there, having a blast and enjoying every minute of their time on stage. And that's how it should be.

Wish: That the cover matched the insides a bit better. While the blurb fits, the cover doesn't. It's cheerful and happy and all good-time girly but what's inside isn't anything like that. It's angsty and at times quite sad, as Colby grapples with his dreams falling apart and Bev does her silently secretive thing, refusing to explain why she went behind Colby's back and squashed their plans in the mud.

Wish: That Bev weren't such a...bitch (gah! I just wanted to shake this girl!). This is told from Colby's perspective so of course I'm on his side but Bev does little to nothing to alleviate my impression of her. She's secretive and moody, unwilling to talk to her friends/bandmates about what she did and why she did it. I never really warmed up to her and even got to dislike her more when she has sex with Colby, knowing full well he's in love with her and she's leaving him. Is it apology sex? If so, it's a pretty crappy apology.

Overall: Melancholy and overcast, THE DISENCHANTMENTS poses the question all high school graduates must contemplate: What do I do next?

Available on Amazon | IndieBound

Monday, February 20, 2012

Like a fine wine, better with age: A PERFECT BLOOD by Kim Harrison

Urban Fantasy
438 pages, hardcover
Available Feb. 21, 2012
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Review copy provided by publisher

Ritually murdered corpses are appearing across Cincinnati, terrifying amalgams of human and other. Pulled in to help investigate by the FIB, a former witch turned day-walking demon Rachel Morgan soon realizes a horrifying truth--a would-be creator is determined to make his (or her) own demons. But it can't be done without Rachel's blood.

As a bounty hunter, Rachel has battled vampires, witches, werewolves, demons, and more. But humanity itself might be her toughest challenge.

How is it that, after ten books in the same series, Kim Harrison and her most excellent character, Rachel Morgan, just keep getting better? At this point, many series peter out or get repetitive but not The Hollows. This series gets better with age, gaining depth and layers like a fine wine or a good cheese.

When last we left Rachel (and, yes, there will be spoilers but I'll try to keep them to a minimum), she came out. Yep, our little Rache came out as a demon *sniffle*. I'm so proud. Unfortunately for her, that means she pretty much has no rights since she's not human or witch--a fact hammered into her by, of all places, the DMV and her inability to get a license. 

Everyone in the ever-after thinks she's dead, including Al, and Rachel's content to keep it that way, even though her link to the ley lines and the majority of her magic is cut off with that decision. Between the bodyguard her dad put on her, her inability to drive, and her less-than-impressive magical skills, Rachel's more dependent on those she loves than ever and she hates it. Couple that with the bad mojo coming her way in the form of humans trying to turn witches into demons for their own nefarious purposes, and Rachel's having a very bad day/week/year, especially since the authorities think it might actually be her conducting these horrifying experiments. Once again, Rachel must hook up with Trent (yahoo!) to discover what's really going on and stop it before they succeed.

Extensive character development, a fast-forward-moving plot, and more action than you can shake a demon at, A PERFECT BLOOD is one damn fine vintage, crafted by a master storyteller.

Available on Amazon | IndieBound

Sunday, February 19, 2012

No Fly Zone: PALE DEMON by Kim Harrison

PALE DEMON (The Hollows #9) by Kim Harrison
Urban Fantasy
432 pages, hardcover
Available now (Feb. 2011)
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley

Condemned to death for black magic and shunned, Rachel Morgan has three days to somehow get to the annual witches convention in San Francisco and clear her name. If she fails, the only way she can escape death is to live in the demonic ever after . . . for ever after.

Banned from the flight lists, Rachel teams up with elven tycoon Trent Kalamack, headed for the West Coast for his own mysterious business. But Rachel isn’t the only passenger along for the ride. Can a witch, an elf, a living vampire, and a pixy in one car survive for over 2,300 miles? And that’s not counting the assassin on their tail.

A fearsome demon walks the sunlight, freed after centuries of torment to slay the innocent and devour souls. But his ultimate prey is Rachel Morgan. While the powerful witch with nerves of steel will do whatever it takes to stay alive, even embracing her own demonic nature may not be enough to save her.

Rachel's been playing with fire for a very long time and it's finally caught up with her in a very big way--in the form of a road trip with the oh-so-hot Trent and his very big...ego. Isn't it bad enough that she can't fly out to the witches convention to fight for her life, she has to road trip across the US with her crew AND a member of the witches council AND Trent, who's kind of been the bane of her existence (well, besides the witches council and Al, her demon "friend", and countless others)? Poor Rache.

Now, I've been wanting Rachel and Trent to get together for quite a long time. They've been burrs in each others' sides forever but drawn together by their parents' actions and the mystery of their DNA as well as many sparks every time they're around one another. Trent's brilliant, driven, and throws about wild magic with no thought of the consequences, though there's always a reason for his actions. Rachel's just as impulsive, "twisting" magic and getting indebted to demons to help those she loves and those she's promised to help. Their by-play on this road trip is classic,  bringing a possible relationship closer to fruition...tantalizingly close.

And, if that weren't enough, there's a super-baddie on the loose who really wants to kick Rachel's butt. Of course.

God, I love this series. If you're an urban fantasy fan and you haven't yet read any of The Hollows, get on it!

Available on Amazon | IndieBound

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Speed Date with Alex: ASHFALL by Mike Mullin

I'm trying out a possible meme that I'm calling a "Speed Date". It's a quickie review of a book: under 150 words, hitting the highs/lows. I'm thinking about running it on Thursdays--you know, not a "date night" but a good time for one of those wacky "speed date" things they run at bars so you can meet a bunch of people quickly. If enough people are interested, I'll hook up a linky, and we can speed date books (I love in-depth reviews but sometimes you just need a quickie, yanno? hehe.). Leave me a comment and tell me what you think! Also, I did Google this idea but if you already run something like this on your blog (or know of a speed date-like meme), just let me know, okay? I don't want to repeat what's already out there.


First victim...er, participant in my Speed Date is:


ASHFALL (Ashfall #1) by Mike Mullin
YA Post-Apocalyptic
466 pages, hardcover
Available now (Sept. 2011)
Publisher: Tanglewood Press
Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley


Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don't know it's there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet.


Ashfall is the story of Alex, a teenage boy left alone for the weekend while his parents visit relatives. When the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts unexpectedly, Alex is determined to reach his parents. He must travel over a hundred miles in a landscape transformed by a foot of ash and the destruction of every modern convenience that he has ever known, and through a new world in which disaster has brought out both the best and worst in people desperate for food, water, and warmth.


When I finished this book, I immediately ran to my science teachers and told them they had to read it and share it with their students. What a great story!


After the Yellowstone supervolcano explodes and coats the most of the US in ash, Alex sets out across Iowa to find his family and runs into serious amounts of trouble—both natural and with his fellow human beings. While he starts out as a cranky teen, Alex quickly matures into a quick-witted young adult somewhat more capable of surviving in his terrifying new world. Along the way, he falls in love with Darla, a mechanical genius, who saves his life on more than one occasion.


Well-researched and horrifyingly realistic, ASHFALL explores the devastating results of a supervolcano while telling a hair-raising story. I’ll definitely be adding this one to my post-apocalyptic/dystopian unit next year.


Available on Amazon | IndieBound

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Waiting on...LAST RITE by Lisa Desrochers

Another awesome series is coming to a conclusion this year! I wasn't all that into the whole angels and demons genre but the Personal Demons series converted me. And now, it's ending. *sigh* I like the colors on this cover--very eye-catching. Plus, with the two guys mirroring each other, you know it's going to be an epic battle between good and evil.
YA Paranormal
368 pages, hardcover
Releases on: May 8, 2012
Publisher: Tor Teen


In this final installment of the thrilling, edgy Personal Demons series, the battle between Heaven and Hell has become critical, and Frannie Cavanaugh is right at the center of it.


With the help of the powerful angel Gabe and demon-turned-mortal Luc, Frannie has been able to stay one step ahead of the forces of Hell. But when the demons killed Frannie's best friend and destroyed her brother, they raised the stakes. If Frannie wants to keep her family and friends safe, she knows she has no choice but to go on the run.


Their best defense is the power Frannie has been struggling to master, but her attempts to hone her skill go horribly awry. If Frannie doesn't learn fast, the consequences could be devastating--even apocalyptic.


What happens when you can't outrun Hell...or trust the ones you love?


So, what are you waiting on?


Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"I'll Be Back": PARTIALS by Dan Wells

PARTIALS (Partials #1) by Dan Wells
YA Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian
472 pages, hardcover
Available Feb. 28, 2012
Review copy provided by publisher via Amazon Vine
Publisher: HarperTEEN
The human race is all but extinct after a war with Partials--engineered organic beings identical to humans--has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by RM, a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island while the Partials have mysteriously retreated. The threat of the Partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to RM in more than a decade. Our time is running out.
Kira, a sixteen-year-old medic-in-training, is on the front lines of this battle, seeing RM ravage the community while mandatory pregnancy laws have pushed what's left of humanity to the brink of civil war, and she's not content to stand by and watch. But as she makes a desperate decision to save the last of her race, she will find that the survival of humans and Partials alike rests in her attempts to uncover the connections between them--connections that humanity has forgotten, or perhaps never even knew were there.
Holy cow, y'all. I just finished this book yesterday, and it's been a while since a book left me so satiated. I'd actually been in rather a reading funk before picking up PARTIALS, having discarded three books prior.  Back on the reading wagon now, for sure!
Positive: The world-building. In this world, humans build human-like robots, called Partials, to fight their enemies, and the robots turn on them. While that part's not so unusual--think Terminator or Alien--a plague then sweeps through the human race, decimating its numbers and leaving the world with fewer than 40,000 humans who barely cling to survival. Humans believe the Partials are to blame. The government gathers its people close, trying to salvage what's left of humanity and save the future. As with most governments, they start out with good intentions that quickly sour as free will and the desire for power overcome those ideals. This world comes to life through a rich details and robust backstory, parceled out in manageable nibbles rather than huge chunks.
Positive: The pacing. It's fast and relentless. Kira and her band of merry men hardly have time to catch their breath or recover from their wounds before they've got to take actions that may save their world or may wipe the human race from the planet. The Partials, the disease RM, and the Voice (human rebels who don't agree with the government's decision to require women to get pregnant by the age of 18) are all out to destroy each other. 
Positive: Kira. This is one strong-willed, brave, smart girl. Although she's only 16, she's already an adult, working in the maternity ward, watching infant after infant perish from the incurable disease of RM. She and her compatriots have grown up in incredibly difficult circumstances and, because of those, had to grow up fast. When her best friend gets pregnant, she knows that, unless they find a cure quickly, her friend's child will die within days of coming into the world. So she decides to cure RM and, to do that, she has to capture a live Partial, knowing that it's a treasonous act to do so, that a Partial could kill her as easily as she breathes, and that there's still the possibility that the Partial's blood and anatomy won't help at all. But she does it anyway.
Wish: That more books were like this one. Not necessarily of the same genre but paced the same way with full-bodied, interesting characters; and a detailed world. While I did have some lingering questions (ie, Why would the Partials leave the humans alone for eleven years when they were so close to victory? How did the Senate come to be and how did it devolve into more of a dictatorship?), any more backstory might have been overwhelming. And, while there is most definitely another book in the works, this particular chapter of the series finished its story arc with a satisfying, if a little melancholy, resolution.
Overall: PARTIALS once again proves why young adult literature rocks, fulfilling all requirements for a fantastic story: sensational characters, high-octane pacing, and a lush world to get lost in for hours.
Available on Amazon | IndieBound

Sunday, February 12, 2012

IMM (28)

Welp, another week down. We're all counting down to this weird mid-winter break our school district has starting on the 20th (only five school days left!). There's been a hideous plague going around, we had very unexpected death of a parent that rocked our school, and the kids have been acting like they ate a huge box of sugar-filled candy chased by two Monster drinks for breakfast. *sigh*

That's probably why I took the plunge--I just registered for BEA!! Yahoo!! It's my first-ever conference, and I'm a little (read: a lot) nervous, just because I don't "know" anyone (IRL, I mean). Plus, I don't really know New York--where to stay, what to do after...any of that. So, I have two main questions for you all: 

Are any of you going?
And, for you BEA/NY vets, where are some good, reasonably-priced (no more than $275/night) places to stay? Is there a hotel bloggers prefer/flock to?

Okay, onto In My Mailbox! A somewhat manageable week--I'm getting pretty far behind in my reading, especially books on my Kindle, which I'm trying not to stress out about but can't help. It's just my nature. Does anyone else reach for the physical book over an ebook? I do. Even if the ebook's one I've really been looking forward to and I'm just meh about the physical book, the latter is what winds up in my hands. I need to modify my thinking a smidge.

Fiona's Pick of the Week
We're having a tired morning...
For Review:

Thanks, HarperTeen/B+B, Penguin/NAL Trade, Bloomsbury Children's Books, Amazon Vine, and NetGalley!

IMM is a meme hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren.

Friday, February 10, 2012

You must comply: ARTICLE 5 by Kristen Simmons

YA Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian
384 pages, hardcover
Available now (Jan. 2012)
Review copy provided by publisher via Amazon Vine
Publisher: Tor Teen

New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned. The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes. There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don't come back.

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren’t always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it’s hard for her to forget that people weren’t always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It’s hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.

Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow. That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings…the only boy Ember has ever loved.

Positive: The dystopian society. Oh, very cool. And shiver-inducing. The leader of this shattered country has horrible ideas about the "place" of women, how people should act and think, and he's not above having his soldiers kill to prove a point or just for sport. It's a pretty bleak place, no matter how you look at it.

Positive: Ember. There were times I wanted to shake Ember and ask her what the heck she was thinking but mostly, I cheered her on. Despite all odds, she was determined to escape, find her mother, and survive. She wasn't a leader. She wasn't a patriot. She was just a girl in a terrible world and terrible circumstances who wanted to live life as normally as she possibly could.

Wish: That we were given more backstory. I know, I know. Writerly people preach about not having too much backstory but I really wanted to know how the state of this world came to be. How did all the cities fall? How did this crazy, religious zealot come to be in office and why did people fall in line with his rhetoric? How did they come up with these articles, these rules that are so archaic and harsh?

Wish: That I liked Chase more. I won't say too much because it's part of the story's twisty-ness but I had a serious like-hate relationship with Chase. Just when I started to like him, he'd do something totally prick-ish and my nod of affirmation would turn into a sneer of dislike. So, when Ember tried to get away from him, I completely understood (though her timing left something to be desired).  I never really loved Chase and, many times, couldn't understand why Ember was still hung up on him but I grew to appreciate his dedication and ultimate plan.

Overall: An interesting take on a very dystopian society that emerges after a terrible apocalypse, ARTICLE 5 will keep you turning the pages to see how everything turns out. Oh, and while this is a series and there are some loose threads, there's a relatively satisfying ending to this one.

Available on Amazon | IndieBound

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Don't mess with Jane: RAVEN CURSED by Faith Hunter

Urban Fantasy (adult)
353 pages, paperback
Available now (Jan. 2012)
Review copy purchased
Publisher: Roc

The vampires of Asheville, North Carolina, want to establish their own clan, but since they owe loyalty to the Master Vampire of New Orleans they must work out the terms with him. To come up with an equitable solution, he sends an envoy with the best bodyguard blood money can buy: Jane Yellowrock. 

But when a group of local campers are attacked by something fanged, Jane goes from escort to investigator. Unless she wants to face a very angry mast vampire, she will have to work overtime to find the killer. It's a good thing she's worth every penny.

Jane Yellowrock, skinwalker extraordinaire, gets the absolute crap kicked out of her in the fourth installment of this series. It's just one thing after another that comes after her--things that have been building for a while. She's out of New Orleans but not out from under the Master of the City's thumb just yet. Instead, she's pulled guard detail for the MoC's number two scion, who's in Ashville for some delicate vampy business dealings. 

But she hasn't come back just for that. She's back to repair fences with her BFF, damaged when she put Molly and Molly's powerful witch daughter in danger a while ago. She's also in town to check on her honey, Rick, who's camped out in the mountains with a werepanther who's supposed to help him, trying to deal with the possibility of turning furry--or not--every month. Bitten by a were, Rick's transformation has been...difficult due to some binding tattoos that are repressing his transformations.

And then, of course, there are people (well, werewolves) out to kill her. God, can this poor girl not catch a break? Seems not--hell, she can't even get any sleep. I think, at one point, she's up for like three days straight. And, while she's a skinwalker and pretty sturdy, she's not invincible or immortal. Something's got to give.

Filled with more action than you can shake a sharpened Aspen stake at, RAVEN CURSED wass well worth the wait. Oh, and the last couple of chapters will take your breath away. Urban fantasy kick-assed-ness at its best. Write faster, Faith Hunter! I want more Jane Yellowrock!

Available on Amazon | IndieBound

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Waiting On...SHINE by Jeri Smith-Ready

This has been an amazing series, and I'm interested to see where Jeri Smith Ready takes us in this next installment--and conclusion--of the Shade series. As for the cover, I like the gold dusting around the edge of the cover, with the focus on Aura. It's missing the ribbon of red, however, like on the the other two. Maybe there's a reason for it, and I'll just have to read the book to find out.


YA Paranormal
384 pages, hardcover
Releases: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Simon Pulse


Life can change in an instant, and no one understands that better than Aura. 


It’s been almost a year since her boyfriend tragically died. She’s finally letting go of Logan’s violet-hued ghost, but not her search to uncover the truth about her past. As the first in a generation that can see ghosts, Aura is convinced that she has a connection to the Shift. She’s trusted Zachary, ever patient and ever by her side, with all that she knows. But when the government threatens his life in an attempt to learn Aura’s secrets, she will stop at nothing to protect herself and the one she loves...even if that means betraying her own heart.


So, what are you waiting on?


Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Shivery Goodness: FAERY TALES & NIGHTMARES by Melissa Marr

FAERY TALES & NIGHTMARES by Melissa Marr
YA paranormal short stories
432 pages, hardcover
Available Feb. 21, 2012
Review copy provided by author
Publisher: HarperCollins

Dangerous promises and beguiling threats swirl together in a dozen stories of enchantments dark and light by New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr. Uncanny and unexpected creatures appear from behind bushes, rise from beneath the seas, or manifest from seasonal storms to pursue the objects of their attention—with amorous or sinister intent—relentlessly.

From the gentle tones of a storyteller’s cadences to the terror of a blood sacrifice, tales of favorite characters from Marr’s Wicked Lovely novels mix with accounts of new characters for readers to fall in love with...or to fear.


Table of Contents: 
Where Nightmares Walk (Very short "nightmare")
Winter's Kiss (Girl with power over winter)
Transition (Gory vampire tale)
Love Struck (Selchies on the prowl for love)
Old Habits (Dark Court story that takes place right after INK EXCHANGE)
Stopping Time (Dark Court story with Niall, Irial, and Leslie)
The Art of Waiting (Odd people of the hollow)
Flesh for Comfort (Creepy tale of "helpful" creatures)
The Sleeping Girl and the Summer King (inspiration for Wicked Lovely)
Cotton Candy Skies (Shadow Court story with Rabbit and Olivia)
Unexpected Family (WL story featuring Seth)
Merely Mortal (Winter Court story with Keenan and Donia)

I didn't realize how much I missed the Wicked Lovely world until I lost myself in it again. Lucky for me, six of the stories are set in that world, including the short story that started the series. The Sleeping Girl and the Summer King has shades of Aislinn and Keenan, though set in a different place and time with a different result (Marr herself said this was the story that inspired the series). I particularly enjoyed Old Habits since it involved Niall, Irial, and Devlin, some of my favorite fae boys battling it out to prove their manliness.

One of my favorite fairy tales was Winter's Kiss. It's the story of a young girl whose very breath brings about winter and her journey to find a place and a people who can accept her for who she is. Another great story, Love Struck is a fanciful tale, with a twist upon the traditional selchie mythology, with two hot seal-men and one mortal girl.

Written in Melissa Marr's distinctively dark and haunting style, the short stories in this collection will resonate with fans of darker fairy tales and the world of Wicked Lovely.

Available on Amazon | IndieBound

Monday, February 6, 2012

Butterflies fly free: INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows

YA Fantasy
384 pages
Available now (January 2012)
Review copy provided by publisher
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

New soul
Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.
No soul
Even Ana's own mother thinks she's a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she'll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?
Heart
Sam believes Ana's new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana's enemies--human and creature alike--let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else's life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all? 

Positive: The worldbuilding. This relatively small population of people is reborn over and over, for the past five thousand years. They remember their previous lives. Sometimes, they're men; sometimes, they're women. This is all made possible by an impenetrable temple in a city that predates their existence and pulses with life. Oh, and there are deadly sylphs and dragons roaming the countryside and attacking the city at random times. Most excellent.

Positive: Ana. Ana is an enigma--she replaces one of the reincarnated, something that has never happened in anyone's memory. She's a gentle soul, despite the constant abuse her mother has heaped upon her since the day she was born. A curious creature, Ana ventures out on her own, leaving her home and her mother for the city, where she hopes to find answers about her existence. I really felt for her. She didn't know anything, and people were so reluctant to talk to her or impart any useful information that she was just a babe in the woods, floundering about in the dark.

Wish: That Sam didn't feel like a five-thousand-year-old creeper. Technically in this life, he's about the same age as Ana. But he's really not. He's ancient. While I really did like his character, it's the same issue I had with Edward and Bella--he's really just a pedo in an 18-year-old's skin. I like Sam as Ana's defender and mentor rather than love interest so, for now, I think I'll just block out the "love" part.

Wish: That it didn't feel unfinished when I was done. I don't know quite how to explain it but I guess I just wanted more. I have so many questions: What about the world beyond the city? What's up with the temple and the pulse-y walls? Are there any more people in this world? What happened to Ana's dad?

Overall: Set in an amazing world, INCARNATE intrigues and tantalizes those who are hungry for something new and creative in the young adult arena.

Available on Amazon | IndieBound

Sunday, February 5, 2012

IMM (27)

Well, it's been a long, tough week, thus the reason for my not really posting this week (except for Jodi's Incarnate Treasure Hunt--did you enter? Go HERE, if you're interested). The plague knocked me for a loop as did the death of a good friend. However, the week did end with a bit of a shine when I got some great news about the day job and next year (it's not officially-official yet but it was a good way to end a really crappy week). Back to the regular schedule of posting and commenting this week!

This IMM is a two-week pile...
Fiona's Pick of the Week
Bought:
WINGS OF THE WICKED by Courtney Allison Moulton
Yeah, I'm just chillin' in the sunshine...surrounded by books. Life is good.
For Review:
BLISS (The Bliss Bakery #1) by Kathryn Littlewood (this one looks adorable!)
THE SECRET SISTERHOOD OF HEARTBREAKERS by Lynn Weingarten
ILLUMINATE (Guilded Wings #1) by Aimee Agresti
PARIS IN LOVE by Eloisa James
KISS CRUSH COLLIDE by Christina Meredith
DAUGHTER OF THE CENTAURS by Kate Klimo
DEAD TO YOU by Lisa McMann
Thank you, Harper Teen, Simon Pulse, Random House, Harcourt, Greenwillow Books and Amazon Vine!

Blog Tour:
THE DISENCHANTMENTS by Nina LaCoeur
SHIFTING by Bethany Wiggins

Gifted:  
UNBROKEN (Outcast #4) by Rachel Caine
Thank you so much, Candace (Candace's Book Blog)!! I loved it.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

INCARNATE Theater Treasure Hunt

Welcome to the INCARNATE Theater Treasure Hunt!
This week, 48 bloggers are celebrating the release of INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows by participating in a treasure hunt with clues, activities, and lots of prizes including signed books and handknit fingerless mitts.

Isn't Kippy cute? She's a Knitty Kitty (hehe).
You've reached an ACTIVITY blog, which means on this page, you can gain extra entries for Jodi's grand prize drawing by completing my activity and filling out the accompanying form.

Then head to the next activity for more INCARNATE fun! There are 22 INCARNATE activities around. The more you do, the better your chances of winning the grand prize.

For more information on the INCARNATE Theater Treasure Hunt, check out Jodi's post HERE.

GUESS THE BLOGGER (activity)
Directions: Match the blogger with her picture and fill out the form.

A. Traci at The Reading Geek
B. Jamie at Two Chicks on Books
C. Patricia at Two Chicks on Books
D. BeckyinVT
E. Amber at Down the Rabbit Hole
F. Shellie at Creative Reads
G. Rachel at Rachel's Book Reviews

Blogger #1
Blogger #2
Blogger #3
Blogger #4
Blogger #5
Blogger #6
Blogger #7

ACTIVITY BLOGGERS


The Book Swarm
Author's Echo
Squeaky Books
Down the Rabbit Hole