Sunday, March 31, 2013

That's What Chey Said: Mood Reading

A lot of the reading I do relies on the mood I'm in, but lately I've had too many review books to be picky about the genre I get to read next!  While it seems that I'm ALWAYS in the mood for something contemporary, that's not entirely the case.  Sometimes my mood changes and I'm in need of an adventure, cheesy paranormal romance, or even a dystopian setting.  Some months I clearly read more of one genre than another.  I can tell you that March was my paranormal month.  So...what happens when I'm not enjoying a book because I'm not in the mood for it?

Because I'm mostly a mood-reader, I tend to switch it up a lot.  Unfortunately, this means that sometimes I get tired of reading a book halfway through.  There have been times where I've put a book down because I loathed it...but then came back to it when I was in the mood and ended up reading it in one sitting because it was just that good.  There are also times where I try and forget about what mood I'm in and race through the story, which I believe occasionally lowers the rating I would have given the book otherwise.  

Why do I do this?  Sometimes I just don't have the time because I procrastinate.  Sometimes I realize that my TBR pile is growing to be larger than the amount of books I'll ever be able to read in this lifetime, and when I finish one book, 5 more have taken its place.  I don't have the time to put books down and come back to them later, because later I plan to be reading something else.  Sometimes my mood changes in between the time it takes to read a book, and I end up disliking something I enjoyed at the beginning.

Then there are the times where I'm surprised at how much I love a book that I wasn't in the mood to read.  When this happens, it makes my day and reminds me how many books there are that will surprise you and turn your mood around completely.   

Are you a mood-reader, or are you in the mood for anything at any time?  Do you DNF books, or do you eventually come back to them?

That Time I Joined the Circus Blog Tour: Guest Post

That Time I Joined the Circus is an exciting new debut written by J.J. Howard.  The book will be released on April 1st, 2013 from Scholastic Point.  As a part of the awesome blog tour to help promote this book, I'm able to share a guest post with you today!  Check the summary of the book below to see if you'd pick it up and stick around to see what stories and authors inspired J.J. the most!

Lexi Ryan just ran away to join the circus, but not on purpose. 

A music-obsessed, slightly snarky New York City girl, Lexi is on her own. After making a huge mistake--and facing a terrible tragedy--Lexi has no choice but to track down her long-absent mother. Rumor has it that Lexi's mom is somewhere in Florida with a traveling circus. 

When Lexi arrives at her new, three-ring reality, her mom isn't there . . . but her destiny might be. Surrounded by tigers, elephants, and trapeze artists, Lexi finds some surprising friends and an even more surprising chance at true love. She even lucks into a spot as the circus's fortune teller, reading tarot cards and making predictions. 

But then Lexi's ex-best friend from home shows up, and suddenly it's Lexi's own future that's thrown into question.

Guest Post

What stories/authors inspire me the most:

The making of a book nerd book lover:

In ninth grade, I read Wuthering Heights, and Jane Eyre, and all the Austen novels. For a few months, I started wearing longs skirts and wishing I’d been born in the early nineteenth century. (Somehow I seem to have skipped past all those Brontes having tuberculosis).

I started wanting to live inside the books I loved. I was pretty much ruined after that.

The lightbulb moment:

The book I was reading when I first thought, hey, I could write a book, and I think I’d like to write a historical mystery: The Eight by Katherine Neville.

Trust me to get inspired by a 598-page epic, and think that probably my book should be gigantic as well. I started writing it...and I just kept on writing. I didn’t ever think it was long enough. I finally finished writing the story four years later, and it was over 170K. Then I went and learned how to query and everything I read told me it was waayy too long. It takes like five full minutes to bring up the document on MS Word. I plan to edit it at some point, because I love the story. And I do mean edit. ;)

Characters/Respect the Mushroom

I love Diana Gabaldon’s book Outlander almost more than life. So when she released The Outlandish Companion, I was definitely one of the superfans that this compendium of tidbits on the series was aimed at. One really memorable section had Gabaldon discussing her writing process, and how characters come in types. It really stuck with me the way she classified some characters as mushrooms: the ones that show up, seemingly fully formed—and often proceed to take over the narrative. The other main type of characters were the onions—the ones you knew you needed plot-wise, but who were more difficult to figure out, hence the oniony-peeling metaphor.

I had one serious onion in my first book, but I also had two complete mushrooms who I basically let take over the book. I’ve always remembered this really cool analogy, and I’ve learned to respect the mushroom. Jamie was one character in CIRCUS who just showed up and started talking. I’d had a completely different story in mind for him, but he seemed to have different ideas.

Style & snark

Margaret Atwood. She’s a genius, first of all, but she’s so witty and even wittily self-deprecating that I don’t even begrudge her amazing talent. Her style is so distinct—you can hear the way the words should sound in your head (sarcastic inflection included). Reading one of her short stories is a little bit like going out to the museum, and then coming home and being like, hmm, I feel like painting. You’re just happy to be playing in the same sandbox—you’re not expecting yours to be a Monet or something.

Snark part II, and also slang

Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer is inspiring in so many ways, but the way he and his writers used slang, the comic timing of his scenes—none of it had been seen before (at least by me) –and it really changed the way I thought about comedy and drama. Even when I don’t use actual Buffy-slang in my own writing, the experience of watching (and re-watching) those episodes gave me an ear for slang that I don’t think I would have had otherwise.

Connect with the author: Blog | Website | Goodreads | Twitter
Buy the book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Check out the rest of the tour:

3/27: Through the Looking Glass: Blog Tour Kick Off
3/28: Literary Exploration: Book Review
3/29: The Book Cellar: Author Favorites List
3/30: Nick’s Book Blog: Top Five YA’s and Top Five TBR
3/31: The Hollow Cupboards: Authors/Stories that Inspired J.J. Howard the Most
4/1: Forever 17 Books: Top Ten Guilty Pleasures
4/2: Emilie’s Book World: Favorite Circus Attractions
4/3: Novel Sounds: Author Playlist
4/4: Nawanda Files: Author Interview
4/5: Hobbitsies: Advice for Teen Writers
4/6: Through the Looking Glass: Book Review
4/7: The Book Vortex: Seven Random Facts about JJ Howard
4/8: Stalking the Bookshelves: A Day in the Life of JJ Howard
4/9: Word Spelunking: Author Interview
4/10:The Busy Bibliophile: Top Seven Things I Would Like to Collect
4/11: Through the Looking Glass: Wrap Up Post

My review of That Time I Joined the Circus will be up shortly, so come back soon!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

In My Mailbox #74

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren

This week was a little slower than usual, but that's good, right?  I'll be starting a new job soon, so that means I'll have less time to read.  I only got one package, but it's an awesome one!

-The Immortal Circus by A.R. Kahler
(Signed, from author and Rockstar Book Tours)

I can't wait to start reading this one!  Faeries and a circus combined?  Yes please!  The author even included some swag and candy that go along with the theme, like circus peanuts, a caramel apple sucker, atomic fire balls and hot dog bubble gum!  A few pieces are missing from this pile, because unfortunately my mom got to it first!  Lol!

Thanks for stopping by!  What have you received in your mailbox?

By the way, I'm holding an international giveaway for an ARC of Spellcaster by Claudia Gray.  Click here to enter!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Review: Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt

Title: Going Vintage
Author: Lindsey Leavitt
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary
Release date: March 26th, 2013
Pages: 320 (eGalley)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

When Mallory’s boyfriend, Jeremy, cheats on her with an online girlfriend, Mallory decides the best way to de-Jeremy her life is to de-modernize things too. Inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in 1962, Mallory swears off technology and returns to a simpler time (when boyfriends couldn’t cheat with computer avatars). 

The List:
1. Run for pep club secretary
2. Host a fancy dinner party/soiree
3. Sew a dress for Homecoming
4. Find a steady
5. Do something dangerous 

But simple proves to be crazy-complicated, and the details of the past begin to change Mallory’s present. Add in a too-busy grandmother, a sassy sister, and the cute pep-club president–who just happens to be her ex’s cousin–and soon Mallory begins to wonder if going vintage is going too far.

When Mallory gets her heart broken, she finds a way to isolate herself from the internet gossip by "going vintage".  She figures that things were much simpler when her grandmother was a teenager.  After all, her grandmother's steady would have never been able cheat on her with his secret online girlfriend.  Mallory decides that if she can hold out on technology until completing the list that she found in her grandmother's belongings, getting over Jeremy will be that much easier.

As I first began the story, I was astounded by how much I could relate to Mallory, as something similar had happened to me in the past.  Her emotions and the betrayal she felt made me realize that unfortunately, so many people go through the same situations.  Her idea to 'go vintage', though pretty far-fetched in this day and age, was an interesting one, and definitely a topic that I loved reading about.  One of my favorite things about her: she's a lister.  She makes lists about everything, which is also something about myself that I saw in her.  The thing that separated us, though, was the fact that Mallory grew into a much stronger person than I know I would have been at the age of 16.

Though this story was set over the span of two short weeks, the amount that changed between when we first meet Mallory and when the story ends was surprising.  Not only did Mallory grow, but she also made other characters come closer together in the process, and that's what I loved the most about Going Vintage.  Mallory was determined to become this girl she thought her grandmother was as a teenager, but what she didn't realize is that her grandmother had to go through just as much without the technology.  Being a teenager is always difficult, no matter what era you live in.

Going Vintage was a cute contemporary that will leave a smile on your face after finishing.  Though it's a light and quick read, it will also warm your heart.  Mallory is easily a character that I believe many people will be able to connect to, as well as her slightly-sarcastic and protective younger sister, Ginny.  Overall, this book holds more than just a story about heartbreak and transformation, it's about the realization that you don't need to rely on anyone but yourself to make you happy.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Review: Emblaze by Jessica Shirvington

Title: Emblaze
Author: Jessica Shirvington
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Paranormal, Romance
Release date: March 5th, 2013
Pages: 464 (eGalley)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

Violet has come to terms with the fact that being part angel, part human, means her life will never be as it was. 

Now Violet has something Phoenix - the exiled angel who betrayed her - will do anything for, and she has no intention of letting it fall into his hands. The only problem is that he has something she needs too. 

Not afraid to raise the stakes, Phoenix seemingly holds all the power, always one step ahead. And when he puts the final pieces of the prophecy together, it doesn't take him long to realize exactly who he needs in order to open the gates of Hell. 

With the help of surprising new allies, ancient prophecies are deciphered, a destination set and, after a shattering confrontation with her father, Violet leaves for the islands of Greece without knowing if she will have a home to return to...

Emblaze is the third book of a gripping series about a girl who was born of angel and human.  In the first book, Violet learns the truth about her mother and what she was meant to become.  In the second, she conquers her first big battle.  In Emblaze, Violet must resist temptation and fight against evil, stopping her nemesis from releasing Hell on earth.  Will Violet be able to overcome the urge to give in or will she fight until the end?

I really enjoyed the previous books in the series, especially the second book, Entice.  It seemed as though the story was getting better and better with each book. Unfortunately, Emblaze didn't quite live up to my expectations.  While I still enjoyed the characters and the adventure, I couldn't help but feel as though the story was dragging on.  Even though there was a lot going on, it didn't feel like there was much happening, if that makes sense.

There were a few things I really loved about this book that we haven't seen in the others, and one of those things was the fact that Violet's dad became more involved in her life.  He actually began to notice when she'd come and go, and that's one thing that really bothered me with the previous books.  Another thing I loved was that this time, Violet and her friends had to travel to Greece.  One thing that I didn't enjoy, and possibly ruined the book for me, was Violet and Lincoln's hot and cold relationship.  I understand the need for distance, but I found it to be infuriating when the story focused mainly on their feelings for each other.

Overall, I liked Emblaze, but it isn't my favorite of the series by far.  There are many great things about this book and many fans of The Violet Eden Chapters will love this addition to the story.  Filled with enough action, emotion, struggles and surprises, Emblaze will be a story that you will fly through without realizing.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday #73

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on! 

Title: Just Like Fate
Author: Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young
Release Date: August 27th,  2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse

Caroline is at a crossroads. Her grandmother is sick, maybe dying. Like the rest of her family, Caroline's been at Gram's bedside since her stroke. With the pressure building, all Caroline wants to do is escape--both her family and the reality of Gram's failing health. So when Caroline's best friend offers to take her to a party one fateful Friday night, she must choose: stay by Gram's side, or go to the party and live her life. 

The consequence of this one decision will split Caroline's fate into two separate paths--and she's about to live them both. 

Friendships are tested and family drama hits an all-new high as Caroline attempts to rebuild old relationships, and even make a few new ones. If she stays, her longtime crush, Joel, might finally notice her, but if she goes, Chris, the charming college boy, might prove to be everything she's ever wanted. 

Though there are two distinct ways for her fate to unfold, there is only one happy ending...

Yes yes yes!   I'm loving stories like this lately.  Sounds very emotional, but many of you know how much I love emotional stories!

What awesome title are you waiting for this Wednesday? 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Review: Poison by Bridget Zinn

Title: Poison
Author: Bridget Zinn
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Fantasy
Release date: March 12th, 2013
Pages: 288 (ARC)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend. 

But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart . . . misses. 

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

Kyra is having visions that show her the destruction that will happen once the royal wedding occurs. Everyone and everything around her are going to wither, and she does the only thing she can think of to save her home--she tries to poison the princess, even though the princess is her best friend.  Now she's wanted by the kingdom and has no where to run.  If only they knew what she knew, she was just making a sacrifice.  Convinced that there's a lot more at work than what meets the eye, she's determined to find the real princess and bring her back before she's caught and put to death.

I loved every bit of this exciting and fast-paced adventure.  Kyra is a potions master and the author does a fantastic job at explaining the potions she uses and what they do, everything from making her invisible to a powder that unlocks doors.  She proves to be very strong and knows how to fend for herself, both when it comes to surviving on her own and when it comes to fighting off menacing creatures.  When she comes across Fred, it's obvious that she doesn't need him, but he does prove to be very helpful.  He becomes a nice friend to have along for the ride, besides her adorable sidekick piggy named Rosie, although friendship also means putting him in unnecessary danger.

Upon learning about the author's death and the fact that Poison was her first and only published book, I was worried that I would judge the book based on that, out of respect.  Thankully, that wasn't the case for me at all.  I genuinely loved it, and throughout the book, I kept forgetting that this is the only story readers will get from her.  The journey was exciting and original, definitely two important qualities to have in any novel.

Overall, this book was filled with humor, adventure, romance, action, unexpected surprises, and well-developed characters that you will grow to love.  I didn't want to leave the world that Bridget Zinn created, but I couldn't help but fly through the story because I couldn't get enough.  Poison is the enchanting debut novel of a woman who was obviously a natural storyteller. I am deeply saddened that I won't get to read more stories from this author, but I am very grateful to be able to read this one.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

In My Mailbox #73

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren

-Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
-Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund
(Signed, from Jen @ At Random)

-Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks
(Graphic novel from First Second Books)

-The Key & The Flame by Claire M. Caterer
(Unsolicited finished copy from Margaret K. McElderry)

-Manicpixiedreamgirl by Tom Leveen
(Requested for review by author)

-Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton
(eGalley from Flux)

I have no idea what's up with the random unsolicited books coming from S&S lately, but I'm kind of loving it. The Key & The Flame sounds like something I'd totally read, and plan to...if only I had the time to spread the word about it before/around the time of its release.  Unfortunately, my April schedule is jam-packed, so it looks like it'll be a while!

Thanks for stopping by!  What have you received in your mailbox?

By the way, I'm holding an international giveaway for an ARC of Spellcaster by Claudia Gray.  Click here to enter!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Title: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher: Poppy
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary Romance
Release date: January 2nd, 2012
Pages: 236 (Paperback)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Source: Won
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. Having missed her flight, she's stuck at JFK airport and late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's sitting in her row. 

A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more? 

Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight has everything I love in a contemporary romance--a great back story, humor, and an adorable love interest.  Even though this story was set over a period of 24 hours, I couldn't help but fall in love with it.  Hadley is broken.  Ever since her dad left her family for a completely new life, including another woman, she's been trying to cut all ties.  On the way to London to witness his second marriage, she meets a boy who makes the trip worthwhile.  He even makes her forget why she's so upset to be flying across the ocean, and as it turns out, she's doing the same for him.

Hadley has a great head on her shoulders, which is why I was drawn to her character.  She often suffers form panic attacks, mostly brought on by claustrophobia, and Oliver helps take her mind off of being stuck on a plane for several hours.  You can see the chemistry between them almost instantly, and that's what I loved the most.  Though they were only together for such a short amount of time, it didn't feel as though their connection was rushed.  Through the way they interacted, it felt as though they've known each other forever.

I'm always worried about stories that take place within such a short amount of time because the reader may be missing out on so much, but what's great about this book is that by the end of the story, everyone has grown in their own way.  It's not only about Hadley and Oliver, it's also about their families.  Loss and the realization that you only have a limited time with your loved ones plays a huge part in this book, which ultimately brings all of the characters closer.

If you tend to crave contemporary romance from time to time (or all of the time, like me) I would highly recommend this book.  It was an extremely quick read that you don't want to put down, filled with all types of love, a little heartbreak, a lot of hope and characters that anyone will be able to relate to.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday #72

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on! 

Title: The End Games
Author: T. Michael Martin
Release Date: May 7th,  2013
Publisher: HarperTeen

It happened on Halloween. 
The world ended. 
And a dangerous Game brought it back to life. 

Seventeen-year-old Michael and his five-year-old brother, Patrick, have been battling monsters in The Game for weeks. 

In the rural mountains of West Virginia, armed with only their rifle and their love for each other, the brothers follow Instructions from the mysterious Game Master. They spend their days searching for survivors, their nights fighting endless hordes of “Bellows”—creatures that roam the dark, roaring for flesh. And at this Game, Michael and Patrick are very good. But The Game is changing. The Bellows are evolving. The Game Master is leading Michael and Patrick to other survivors—survivors who don’t play by the rules. And the brothers will never be the same.

This doesn't normally sound like the type of book I'd be waiting months in advance for...I'm not even sure it sounds like the type of book I'd normally pick up, but after such awesome things I've been hearing about it, I'm aching to get a hold of The End Games and see what it's all about.  I love creepy reads every once in a while, and this one definitely sounds like it will live up to my expectations.

What awesome title are you waiting for this Wednesday? 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Review: Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza

Title: Mila 2.0
Author: Debra Driza
Publisher: HarperTeen
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Science Fiction
Release date: March 12th, 2013
Pages: 480 (Hardcover)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon | Author
Mila was never meant to learn the truth about her identity. She was a girl living with her mother in a small Minnesota town. She was supposed to forget her past—that she was built in a secret computer science lab and programmed to do things real people would never do. 

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

What would you do if you found out that you weren't real--that the only difference between you and any other machine were the emotions?  Mila lives the life of any other teenage girl.  She has friends, she knows what it feels like to lose someone, and she falls for a boy named Hunter.  Until she finds out the truth, that she was made by the military for use of destruction, she thought that she was just an average human being.  Debra Driza creates an exciting and action-filled story of an android that readers will easily relate to.

The writing is incredible and absolutely perfect for a story like this.  The author knows exactly how to create a more realistic feeling science fiction, and that's what ultimately drew me in and made me want more.  Mila turned into one of my favorite characters because she was strong, emotional, and never gave up.  Being on the run proves to be tough, especially when she learns the truth about all of the false memories and even the fact that her mother was just the scientist that helped create her, but in the end, all of that is what makes her stronger.

The fact that Mila's mother constantly shows her how different she is from a machine is what made her character grow on me.  It's true that Mila was different than any typical android.  She knew how to feel, which made for an interesting main character.  I constantly forgot that she wasn't human, even though she has many human-like qualities.  You don't grow attached to many other characters than Mila, but I can say that I also enjoyed Hunter and Lucas and the fact that they were both willing to do anything they could to help her.

Overall, Mila 2.0 was an interesting and unique story.  Because of the original plot, incredible action scenes, and kickass main character, I know I will be continuing this series.  The characters have a lot more to develop, so that's what I'm most looking forward to!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

That's What Chey Said: How Low Ratings Help

As bloggers, sometimes it is extremely difficult to write a review for a book you didn't enjoy.  Of course, everyone is different, but for the most part, we don’t want to hurt the feelings others, especially authors we admire.  I've come to realize that a lot of times, low ratings can help just as much as high ones do.

I’m not talking about the people who go into a book looking for something to bash it for, or the snarky comments made to draw attention.  There are some one star reviews that truly help other readers and yes, even the authors.  The helpful reviews are filled with constructive criticism.  Often, many people find lower ratings more useful than higher ones when deciding on which book to buy.  In these reviews, you should find both good and bad qualities of the book and an explanation of why that reader didn't enjoy it as much as they thought they would. 

That being said, I’m tired of reading about authors who attack bloggers for sharing their honest opinions.  We hear about it far too often, and while I understand that it’s hard not to take those judgments of your book personally, I think that the true professionals handle the tough critics and rude comments with politeness and grace, not resorting to verbal attacks or threats over social media sites.  Half the time, we find that the reviewer was simply being honest, and honesty is always the best policy, no matter how amazing, mediocre, or simply awful the book was.

Do you look at lower rated reviews when trying to decide on a book to buy/read next?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

In My Mailbox #72

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren

(ARC from Scholastic for blog tour)

-Sisters of Isis: Volume 1 by Lynne Ewing
(Finished copy from Jess @ Book Geeks Rule)

-Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook
(ARC from Erika @ Living for the Books)

-Sever by Lauren DeStefano
(Finished copy from Becky @ Stories & Sweeties)

-Mortality by Kellie Sheridan
(for blog tour from the author)

Aside from being sick, this week has been pretty nice!  I didn't get bombarded with mail, but I did manage to get some books that I've really been looking forward to, such as Nobody But Us and Sever!  I also won Sisters of Isis in a "Blind Date with a Book" giveaway, and judging from its descriptions (kick ass, power, magicians & goddess) I'm sure that I'll enjoy it!

Thanks for stopping by!  What have you received in your mailbox?

By the way, I'm holding an international giveaway for an ARC of Spellcaster by Claudia Gray.  Click here to enter!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Review & Giveaway: Spellcaster by Claudia Gray

Title: Spellcaster
Author: Claudia Gray
Publisher: HarperTeen
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Paranormal
Release date: March 5th, 2013
Pages: 370 (Hardcover)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

When Nadia’s family moves to Captive’s Sound, she instantly realizes there’s more to it than meets the eye. Descended from witches, Nadia senses a dark and powerful magic at work in her new town. Mateo has lived in Captive’s Sound his entire life, trying to dodge the local legend that his family is cursed - and that curse will cause him to believe he’s seeing the future … until it drives him mad. When the strange dreams Mateo has been having of rescuing a beautiful girl—Nadia—from a car accident come true, he knows he’s doomed. 

Despite the forces pulling them apart, Nadia and Mateo must work together to break the chains of his family’s terrible curse, and to prevent a disaster that threatens the lives of everyone around them.

In this exciting beginning of a new paranormal YA trilogy, the author introduces Nadia, a young and determined girl.  She's battling a few personal issues as well as the fact that she's a witch and the only other person who knows is her mother, who also left their family a few months back.  Moving to Captive's Sound was supposed to be a fresh start, but it's obvious that something dark is taking over.  With the help of a boy who has been having visions of her, and a girl named Verlaine, Nadia discovers the truth about the town's history and does whatever she can to help put an end to it all.

I began this book having no idea what it would be about other than magic and an unusual connection between the two main characters.  Nadia was a likable character, but what I enjoyed most about her was that she was just learning how to master her powers.  With no one to help her, she's had to keep this secret until she slips up and accidentally performs a spell in front of Verlaine.  Verlaine is sort of your typical outcast.  She constantly gets picked on for wearing out-of-style clothing and having two gay guardians.  Then there was Mateo, who is totally swoon-worthy.  From the moment he pulls Nadia out of the car wreck, he'll win you over.

Though many parts were predictable, the paranormal elements stood out more than anything.  They're the reason that I enjoyed this book as much as I did.  The magic was unique and intriguing, definitely not something you read about in most books.  The spells were used by recalling memories and the help of a Steadfast (which is extremely rare, especially in Nadia's case) made them stronger.  It's obvious that there's more for Nadia to learn, which leaves so much room for growth within the next couple books.

Spellcaster will capture your interest from the start and although there is a lot to learn within these 370 pages, the story is also filled with action and mysterious events.  If you enjoy stories involving quirky characters, the occult, and family curses, I would highly recommend this one.  Even the writing made me want more!

I have an extra ARC of Spellcaster to giveaway!

-Open internationally
-Ends April 20th, 2013
-Winner must claim prize within 48 hours
-Enter in the Rafflecopter below!  (Comment entries won't be counted)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday #71

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on! 

Title: Elegy
Author: Tara Hudson
Release Date: June 4th,  2013
Publisher: HarperTeen

A stalker ghost, misguided Seers, and spellbinding wraiths—Amelia Ashley has faced them all. Now her greatest hope is to spend the rest of her afterlife with her living boyfriend, Joshua. But the demonic forces return to give her an ultimatum: turn herself over to the darkness or watch them murder one living person per week until she does. 

Amelia fears she might really be doomed, until the forces of light give her another option. She can join them in their quest to gather souls, with a catch: Once she joins them, she can never see Joshua again. 

Faced with impossible choices, Amelia decides to take her afterlife into her own hands—and fight back.

I've read and enjoyed the previous books in this series, Hereafter and Arise, so I would love to see what happens to Amelia next!

What awesome title are you waiting for this Wednesday? 

Also, if you're interested, I'm holding a giveaway for Blaze by Laurie Boyle Crompton until March 15th.  Hurry and enter while it's still running!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Review: Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Title: Requiem
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperTeen
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Dystopian
Release date: March 5th, 2013
Pages: 391 (Hardcover)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight. 

After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancĂ©e of the young mayor.

Lena fights her way back into the Wilds, but what she quickly discovers is that the government is even finding a way to control the Invalids and how they choose to live their lives as well.   The group quickly realizes that this will never end without a fight, and they're prepared to do anything it takes.  As the group makes their way back to Lena's hometown, she finds that there's more at stake than she first realized.   In this exciting final book to the Delirium series, we learn that there's a difference between wanting something and actually making it happen.

I don't even know where to begin to explain how incredible this book was.  Actually, I may have enjoyed Requiem more than Pandemonium, and Pandemonium was one of my top favorites of last year!  Switching back and forth from Lena's and Hana's point of view, we get to see both sides of the story.  Here is Lena, a part of the Resistance, and Hana, the mayor's fiancee.  Two opposite people, even though they were once best friends.  As you read along, you grow attached to both characters, seeing their good and bad qualities.  I think this is what made the story the best that it could be, because the reader was caught right in the middle of the fight.

The romance, which may be what most were waiting for, was done fabulously.  I don't think that any fans will be disappointed, whether they're Team Julian or Team Alex, because both are very active in Lena's life.  I can tell you this, though, I am very happy with Lena's ultimate decision.  Aside from that, the story is filled with action, emotion and even a sweet and unexpected reunion.

Though many people will dislike the ending and the fact that certain things weren't left completely clear, I loved the way that the author left Lena's future to the imagination.  What I can promise you is that the series ends on a good note.  Requiem was everything I imagined it would be.  It's the perfect ending to one of the most captivating YA series I've read so far!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Review: Delirium Stories: Hana, Annabel, & Raven by Lauren Oliver

Title: Delirium Stories: Hana, Annabel, & Raven
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperTeen
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Short Stories/Dystopian
Release date: March 5th, 2013
Pages: 208 (Paperback)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon | Author
Hana is told through the perspective of Lena's best friend, Hana Tate. Set during the tumultuous summer before Lena and Hana are supposed to be cured, this story is a poignant and revealing look at a moment when the girls' paths diverge and their futures are altered forever. 

Lena's mother, Annabel, has always been a mystery--a ghost from Lena's past--until now. Her journey from teenage runaway to prisoner of the state is a taut, gripping narrative that expands the Delirium world and illuminates events--and Lena--through a new point of view. 

And as the passionate, fierce leader of a rebel group in the Wilds, Raven plays an integral role in the resistance effort and comes into Lena's life at a crucial time. Crackling with intensity, Raven is a brilliant story told in the voice of one of the strongest and most tenacious characters in the Delirium world.

Delirium Stories consists of three short stories told from the perspective of the most important women in Lena's life.   It's the perfect way to get reacquainted with each of them before diving into the final book in the Delirium trilogy.  We get a look at Hana and her life after she and Lena grow apart, at Annabel's past and present, before she escapes into the Wilds and Raven, while she attempts to rescue Lena near the end of Pandemonium.  All of these stories will leave you wanting more.

Personally, I love when stories are told from different perspectives, so the fact that we have a chance to get a glimpse of other character's lives made me even more excited to dive into Requiem (who knew that was even possible)!  It's hard to choose a favorite, because I enjoyed them equally, but I think that Annabel's story was probably the most intriguing.  Since we haven't met Lena's mother in the series yet, it was great to get a better feel for her and understand everything she's gone through up until this point.

Hana, Annabel, and Raven weren't characters that stuck with me like Lena, Alex, or Julian did so it was nice to refresh my memory.  I also feel that because these stories were told from these character's perspectives, they grew on me more than they normally would have.  I am definitely happy that these novellas were released in paperback, because if not, I might have never read any of these gems.

Overall, Delirium Stories is a perfect addition to Lauren Oliver's series.  I highly recommend that you pick up a copy, especially if you love the trilogy as much as I do.  If you're not all that interested, no worries!  You won't miss anything crucial to enjoy the series; these short stories are just an added bonus for Delirium super fans.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

That's What Chey Said: Hoarding Books

We all love books...that's why you're here, right?  After posting pictures of my bookshelves, I received a few comments about how many books I own.  The truth is, I'm kind of a book hoarder.  It's not so bad yet, but so far I've managed to acquire nearly 70 physical books this year...and it's only the beginning of March.  Let's do some math here.  I get about 6 books in a week on average.  There are 52 weeks in a year, so if I were to keep getting as many books as I do, I will end up with over 300 new books.

So even though I'm quickly running out of room to keep all of the books I love/want to read eventually, I do keep certain duplicates of books that I already own.  What?  Don't look at me like that...I have good reasons.  Here, let me show you.

Sometimes I have the finished copy, but I like the ARC covers better...

Sometimes I just like to keep favorites, especially if they differ, even in the slightest way, and sometimes I own the audiobook but fear that I may enjoy the reading experience more.

Okay, so these are the only duplicates that I actually keep.  The others I give away/donate.  I know that I have a lot, but it's not nearly as much as if I were to keep all the books I've ever owned.  I've even done quite a bit of almost-spring cleaning lately and piled up nearly 50 books for my blogoversary/21st birthday celebration!  

Wondering how many books I actually own?  Over 500.  I had about 100 before I began blogging and I've acquired the rest over the last two years.

That's my bedroom in a matter of just a few months.  Lol!

Do you hoard books or do give them away when you're done?