What I'm Reading: Get Even by Gretchen McNeil

Friday, September 28, 2012

Cleansing the Mental Palate (Discussion)

I love getting swept up in a book. My favorite ones are the ones that pull me in so completely that I am completely unaware of my own reality. But there has been a theme in my recent reviews, where I've noticed that I am often having trouble getting into a book from the beginning. It's been taking me 100 pages or better (if I'm lucky) to get a feel for the story enough so that I can start to become a part of it. And it's got me thinking. Maybe it's not the books. Maybe it's me.

I fell behind with my reviews when my Dad was in the hospital. Hard to read when you are all torn up in knots. Additionally, with my upcoming trip next month, I've been trying to make sure I'm prepared (both on the blog and in real life) to be out of town. So maybe I've been pushing myself a little with my reading. I'm generally a fast reader. I can usually read 200 pages in a few hours. So reading fast isn't unusual. But I've started to wonder if maybe I need to take more of a break between books. The problem doesn't seem to stem in the middle of the book, it seems to come in the beginning. So I'm thinking, maybe I need to cleanse my mental palate.

What kind of breaks do y'all take when reading? Do you sit and kind of absorb what you've read? Do you start your review immediately? Or do you finish a book and then immediately pull the next one off the shelf? I usually do a mixture of these, depending on how I feel after reading, but as I said, I've been trying to do a lot recently because of what all is coming up. So it's possible that I haven't been giving myself enough time between books. Then again, maybe it was the books!

So what do you guys think? Is it better to take a break and cleanse your mental palate? Or can you just as easily jump into the next story?

By the way, I am hitting the road for Austin today, to hit up Austin Teen Book Festival tomorrow! I'll be tweeting live from the event, so make sure to follow @FuzzyCoffeeBks to get all the awesome live updates! Have an awesome weekend!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang

I didn't know what to make of What's Left of Me when I first read the summary. I was kind of on the fence, knowing that we would have two MCs occupying one body. I worried about it being hard to follow. But the excitement for the book on the Twitterverse and blogosphere eventually sucked me in, so I had to pick up a copy.

Here's the summary from Goodreads: I should not exist. But I do. Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . . For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

What I Liked: 1) Eva. She was my favorite of our two main characters (Addie and Eva). Because Eva is the recessive soul, she could have easily become a so-so character. But it really becomes her story as we go along, because she is the one who doesn't get to have much of a life, who is really fighting for every second she gets. And she is also our narrator. Because Eva is really hardly anything more than a voice, you really get to know her on an emotional level, which is awesome. 2) The hospital where Addie/Eva are taken for testing. I didn't so much like it, as thought it was a great setting for the "hub of all evil" - haha! They are studying the hybrid gene and how to control it. 3) How much there is to think about with this book! It's been 2 days since I've read the book (well, really, 8 days once it's posted) and I am still going over things over and over in my head. How long has the world been like this, where bodies are born with two souls? How are people affected when their sister or brother soul disappears? How are families affected? Eva mentions at one point how when they were young her parents would refer to them as Eva-and-Addie. How do they feel when one of those isn't there any longer? There is so much to think about as you are going through this book, and even once it's over you will still be curious and anxious for the next story. 4) I loved the ending. Love, love, loved it. It was one of the best non-cliffhanger-y endings that still set up the next book in a great way. Just thinking about it makes me all jittery and excited for book 2!

What I Didn't Like: There wasn't anything that I just didn't like, but I will caution you that when it comes to two people controlling, or trying to control one body, some confusion is to be expected. There was one point where there were three bodies in the room, but six people talking. Just...pay attention while you're reading, because while some of the twin souls are very easy to differentiate just in the ways they talk, others you don't get to know well enough.

Overall Thoughts: What's Left of Me is an awesome debut from author Kat Zhang and an explosive opening to what looks to be an exciting series. It's thought-provoking, full of action, and has some great characters for readers to know and love. I can't wait to see what's next in this series, because What's Left Of Me has only left me wanting more!

My Rating: 4 shots

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (48)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine. It highlights the books that we are most looking forward to!

This week my WoW is....

Beta by Rachel Cohn 
Release Date: October 16th, 2012 

Rachel Cohn is going to be at Austin Teen Book Festival this weekend, and I'm bummed that this book isn't released before that. I haven't read anything else by her, but I am really looking forward to reading this one!
Here is the summary from Goodreads: Elysia is created in a laboratory, born as a sixteen-year-old girl, an empty vessel with no life experience to draw from. She is a Beta, an experimental model of a teenage clone. She was replicated from another teenage girl, who had to die in order for Elysia to exist. Elysia's purpose is to serve the inhabitants of Demesne, an island paradise for the wealthiest people on earth. Everything about Demesne is bioengineered for perfection. Even the air induces a strange, euphoric high, which only the island's workers--soulless clones like Elysia--are immune to. At first, Elysia's life is idyllic and pampered. But she soon sees that Demesne's human residents, who should want for nothing, yearn. But for what, exactly? She also comes to realize that beneath the island's flawless exterior, there is an under-current of discontent among Demesne's worker clones. She knows she is soulless and cannot feel and should not care--so why are overpowering sensations cloud-ing Elysia's mind? If anyone discovers that Elysia isn't the unfeeling clone she must pretend to be, she will suffer a fate too terrible to imagine. When her one chance at happi-ness is ripped away with breathtaking cruelty, emotions she's always had but never understood are unleashed. As rage, terror, and desire threaten to overwhelm her, Elysia must find the will to survive.
Sounds interesting, right? I'm kind of in a place right now where all I want to read are books like this, where people are developed with a specific purpose, like some sort of freaky science experiment. Does that make me strange? Also, I think someone hid my scissors..... Just Kidding!

What are y'all waiting on this awesome Wednesday?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Attention to all my historical fiction fans! This one is for you! Code Name Verity is set in the early 1940s, and first interested me because it is about a young girl who is a secret agent. What about that doesn't sound cool?

Here's the summary from Goodreads: Oct. 11th, 1943--A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun. When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution. As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

What I Liked: 1) So our MC is a spy, and she's been arrested by the Gestapo. And because of that, she gives so little away of herself throughout the book. Typically, this would really bother me, because when I don't click with a character, it ends up really messing up the book. But because of the nature of this book, where she is trying to keep her identity a secret, it made sense. And I liked how natural it seemed, to be hiding her identity and background. 2) The friendship between Verity and KittyHawk. I am choosing to use one of many names the girls go by in the book, because I think it makes it all the more interesting as a reader to ferret everything out for yourself. But keep in mind that in the present time of the book, these girls never spend one minute together. Yet their friendship is a huge presence in the book, felt on an almost tangible level. I think it takes a great deal of talent from Miz Wein to bring this friendship to life so vividly without the two girls ever spending a moment together. 3) The concept. I have no idea if any of this is rooted in truth, if they used women as spies - well, I'm assuming they did. I mean, Mata Hari, come on. But reading about the girls' stories, their lives as they found their ways to be a part of the war effort, it was really a unique story to me.

What I Didn't Like: Well, the thing I wasn't expecting was the format, though I suppose I should have been. Most of the book is being written diary-style by the girl who has been captured and is being held by the Gestapo. It is all her memories, what she's been doing in the war, interspersed with what is happening with her in the present. It was hard to get into at first, I wouldn't say I was fully committed to the story until over 100 pages in. This was something that bothered me, but may not affect others in the slightest!

Overall Thoughts: Code Name Verity is an excellent example of historical YA fiction. Miz Wein clearly has a talent for building strong relationships between her characters, and creating an interesting story with little action. The ending left me all choked up, and while I wasn't pleased with it, I don't think it could have ended any other way. The format does take some getting used to but I think fans of this genre will find this book to be a really interesting read.

My Rating: 3.5 shots

Monday, September 24, 2012

Defiance by C.J. Redwine

Defiance was a highly anticipated book for a lot of people, but for some reason it didn't make it onto my TBR list until I saw it at the bookstore. I don't know what about the summary didn't grab me at first, but the cover was compelling enough for me to be interested.

Here's the summary from Goodreads: Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city's brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father's apprentice, Logan--the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same one who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but a fierce belief in her father's survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her. At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city's top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor's impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared. As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can't be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

What I Liked: 1) Rachel. She wasn't content being put into the little box that women were made to fit into in Baalboden. I appreciated that her father instilled that drive in her as he raised her, and it made her a very strong heroine. 2) Strong emotions. There were a lot of strong emotions between the characters in this book, and that was awesome. So much of the time feelings will be explained, but not shown, so the reader knows that somehow the character is feeling them, but doesn't get involved with it. That's not the case with this story. Everything felt real and raw as Rachel's life was turned upside down repeatedly. There was at least one part where I just felt that my heart was being ripped out for her, and it's great when a book can become that real for someone. 3) Oliver. I loved Oliver. He reminded me of my Grandpa. It's true.

What I Didn't Like: There are a lot of things that draw me into a book - the first of which is always the characters. But secondly, I love to sink into a book where it's more imagination than reading. I like to be able to visualize what I'm reading, to the point of almost forgetting I'm looking at words on a page. Visual details tend to help this a lot, and I felt like a lot of that was missing. Almost like I was watching a movie in black and white - everything was black and white except for Rachel's bright red hair. And maybe that was intentional. The only vibrant thing in this desolate place is her hair. But I wish there had been more. Also, I would have liked some more of the back story. How did the world come to this? It does explain why the Commander is in charge, but at the same time, why did it come to that in the first place. I'm always curious about things like that, and we may get even more understanding as the book continues on.

Overall Thoughts: Defiance is a creative story with an awesome heroine. There are a lot of things to love about this story, from the characters to the adventure. I personally would have liked to see some more detail that would give us a clearer picture of the world we're looking at, and a little more back story, but with the promise of more books, I'm sure we can look forward to that!

My Rating: 3.5 shots

Friday, September 21, 2012

Ripple by Mandy Hubbard

I dug back to the back of the bookshelf for this one. So many times I'll get several books at once, and then get more, and sometimes a book will end up languishing on my bookshelf for a long time. Ripple was released in June of 2011, so it's been up there for a while. I'm glad I found some time to go back and dig into it.

Here's the summary from Goodreads: Lexi is cursed with a dark secret. The water calls to her, draws her in, forces her to sing her deadly song to unsuspecting victims. If she succumbs, she kills. If she doesn't, the pain is unbearable. To keep herself and those she cares about safe, she shuts herself off, refusing to make friends or fall in love-again. Because the last time she fell in love with a boy, he ended up dead. Then Lexi finds herself torn. Against her better judgement, she's opening up again, falling in love with someone new when she knows she shouldn't. But when she's offered the chance to finally live a normal life, she learns that the price she must pay to be free of her curse is giving him up.

What I Liked: 1) Lexi was a personable character, very easy to get to know and understand. It was not hard to follow the story from her point of view. And I definitely felt for her back story. After the events of her 16th birthday, she has isolated herself from everyone that she cares about and has been living her life basically in solitude, other than her Grandmother. I definitely felt for her. 2) The Siren. I liked Miz Hubbard's version of this mythological creature. The typical aspects of sirens were there, with the water, and the singing, but there were unique things going on too. I'm always excited to see how authors can put their own spin on myths. 3) Happy ending. Not so much ending, but there are at times where you can see Lexi's life getting back to at least a shadow of what it once was, and she is feeling happy again. It always good to see the main character happy, especially when she has spent a lot of her time seemingly miserable.

What I Didn't Like: 1) While it was easy to get to know Lexi, and to feel sympathy for her, I just didn't like her very much. She was kind of whiny, of course I guess you can be whiny when you are always alone and there isn't anyone to call you on it. 2) The ending was too....easy. It was a lot of build up and then I was like, that was it? That was the answer all along? It's kind of like the ending of The Wizard of Oz, where she's had the ruby slippers the whole time. Well, why didn't you tell me that in the first place?

Overall Thoughts: As far as Siren stories go, this one was good. It was a simple story to follow and added some unique aspects to a mythological creature that seems to be getting a little more attention. The ending was a little too easy for me, kind of like the answer was right in front of her all along, but I did appreciate the creativity and the lightness to the story.

My Rating: 3 shots

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Origin by Jessica Khoury

Look at that cover!? Interesting, huh? Jessica Khoury is going to be at Austin Teen Book Festival next weekend, so I picked this one up as soon as I could, so I'd be ready. Little did I know how easily I'd get swept away in this story!

Here's the summary from Goodreads: Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home--and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life. Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia's origin--a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.

What I Liked: 1) First and foremost I liked the details. It was so easily to get lost in the jungle with Pia and Co because of how detailed the descriptions were. I seriously wanted to know if Miz Khoury was just sitting in the jungle describing what she saw because it seemed so accurate. At the same time, I didn't feel like there were too many details. You know what I mean, where every other word is an adjective? It was perfectly balanced on that line, and put you firmly in this vivid world. 2) Pia. Pia was an awesome character to get to know. Her development was very easy to follow, particularly because when you come into the story, she's really just begun to understand that she can develop her own thoughts and opinions, and not just fall subject to the scientists that are "raising" her. And you'll have to read it to find out why "raising" is in quotes. 3) The unexpected. There were some great plot twists in this book, but I didn't see any of them coming. Even of the mysteries that I knew Pia (and I) were working to solve didn't present very clear answers until I was right up on them. There was a new discovery to make on every page, so I was hooked from the very beginning. 4) The concept. Immortality is a topic that I think is broached in a lot of stories, but in so many different ways. This one takes a very scientific approach, but not in a way that is hard to understand. The summary of this book from Goodreads is pretty good, but the story is so much more than what you get there!

What I Didn't Like: This book pulled me out of a slump I've been in for a while. I was just kind of coasting through stuff, but this one just got me really excited. And I didn't find anything that I didn't like.

Overall Thoughts: Origin is a new kind of story with vivid details, loveable characters, and a completely unique concept that anyone will enjoy. There are exciting plot events on each page, and the ending will leave you very satisfied. I'm already ready to dive into this book again!

My Rating: 5 shots

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (47)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine. It highlights the books that we are eagerly anticipating!

This week my WoW is...........

Flock by Wendy Delsol
Release Date: September 25th, 2012 <--Next week!

I've read both Stork (review) and Frost (review) and enjoyed them both immensely. I've been looking forward to the conclusion to this trilogy for a while and am pleased to see that I'll be able to read it next week. Feel free to check out my previous reviews of this trilogy, and get excited about the conclusion!

So what are y'all waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Spark by Brigid Kemmerer

By lucky chance I came across this series and knew I'd like it. I enjoyed the first book, Storm, well enough and you can read that review here. I was definitely excited to see that the next book was coming out soon after I finished the first. Spark puts the focus on one of the other four brothers, Gabriel.

Here's the summary from Goodreads: Gabriel Merrick plays with fire. Literally. Sometimes he can even control it. And sometimes he can’t. Like the fire that killed his parents. Gabriel has always had his brothers to rely on, especially his twin, Nick. But when an arsonist starts wreaking havoc on their town, all the signs point to Gabriel. Only he’s not doing it. More than Gabriel’s pride is at stake -- this could cost him his family, maybe his life. And no one seems to hear him. Except a shy sophomore named Layne, a brainiac who dresses in turtlenecks and jeans and keeps him totally off balance. Layne understands family problems, and she understands secrets. She has a few of her own. Gabriel can’t let her guess about his brothers, about his abilities, about the danger that’s right at his heels. But there are some risks he can’t help taking. The fuse is lit…

What I Liked: Okay, this is going to sound corny, but the best word to describe this book is HOT! 1) Gabriel. So, we've moved on from younger brother Chris to focus on Gabriel, the brother who wields fire as his elemental power. Gabriel has a quick temper, but he also has a fiery personality and deep-running passion. He was absolutely a great character to align with fire, and his personality definitely reflected that. In a word: HOT! He quickly jumped up near the top of hot book boyfriends! 2) Gabriel and Layne. I haven't talked a lot recently about relationships that develop throughout a story. But this one is worth mentioning. I think it was sweet the way it began and grew. It might have a little insta-love feel to it, but it isn't overt, and it makes me happy to see these two opposites attract. I think that I was always kind of a quiet girl, so I like to see that girl get the guy every once in a while. 3) I felt like we got to know the relationship between the brothers much better in this book. That is definitely one of the ways that I was able to sink into this book, because the relationships all seemed to real. 4) Continuity. Picking up after Storm, the transition was seamless into Spark. The big, overarching story continued from Storm, but there was also another story happening at the same time that was completely engaging. There was no distraction from either story, and I was engrossed in both.

What I Didn't Like: No complaints here!

Overall Thoughts: In a rare happenstance, I've found a second book that is an improvement on the first. Spark definitely brings a little something more to the table than Storm did, and I don't just mean the Hottie Gabriel. Better defined relationships, and a smooth plot make Spark an excellent continuation of what is already an exciting series. Make sure you check out this series, and get ready for Spirit, releasing in May 2013!

My Rating: 5 shots

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna

The Lost Girl. I came across this book on someone's Waiting on Wednesday a while ago, and both plot and setting intrigued me. I've read few stories set in India though it's a place I've always wanted to travel, so I was anxious to pick this one up.

Here is the summary from Goodreads: Eva’s life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination—an echo. Made by the Weavers as a copy of someone else, she is expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her “other”, if she ever died. Eva studies what Amarra does, what she eats, what it’s like to kiss her boyfriend, Ray. So when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready. But fifteen years of studying never prepared her for this. Now she must abandon everything she’s ever known—the guardians who raised her, the boy she’s forbidden to love—to move to India and convince the world that Amarra is still alive. What Eva finds is a grief-stricken family; parents unsure how to handle this echo they thought they wanted; and Ray, who knew every detail, every contour of Amarra. And when Eva is unexpectedly dealt a fatal blow that will change her existence forever, she is forced to choose: Stay and live out her years as a copy or leave and risk it all for the freedom to be an original. To be Eva.

What I Liked: 1) Eva. Eva was a great main character, because she was easy to understand, even while she was two people. Her struggles with figuring out who she is and who she wants to be is completely relatable, and anyone can easily empathize with her struggles. I love personable characters like this. 2) Plot. What an interesting idea. There are a few stories out there about two souls, one person, but this was something new. In this story they create a person, what they assume is just a body that a soul can occupy should their original body die. Of course that's not really how it works, but it's so intriguing to see Eva try to become Amarra. 3) The emotion. There is so much emotion coursing through this book. Amarra's parents and family are dealing, in their own way, with their daughter's death and the presence of this echo, who in their mind should somehow be Amarra, but yet knowing in their hearts that she isn't. 4) How easy it is to love so many of the characters. I already talked about Eva, but something that just plays into the emotions of the reader is how easy it is to love these characters. They say "there are two sides to every story" and that is blatantly obvious. There are those who love Eva as Eva, and those who love Eva as Amarra, and those who love Amarra and Eva as separate people. So it's almost hard to "choose a side" when it comes to the epic battle of love or life.

What I Didn't Like: There are some questions that I feel remain unanswered once the story is over. Sometimes this is normal, but there were a few biggies that stood out to me. But I don't want to bring them up, because I want those of you who are going to read it for yourself to be able to make your own assumptions. Just be prepared to still have questions. Also, as a side note: This book is sooooo long, it could have easily been two books. So much happens that you have to take a break at some point while reading, or else your brain might just explode. And no one wants that.

Overall Thoughts: A completely unique story, The Lost Girl definitely has a place in the world of YA literature. Somewhere between dystopian, science fiction and fantasy, this story has a place all it's own. Heart-wrenching emotions will grip you from the beginning and keep you interested throughout the book. It's easy to get lost in Amarra's story, and your own imagination will be stretched as you try to make sense of some of the open-ended questions remaining at the close of the book.

My Rating: 4 shots

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sweet Shadows by Tera Lynn Childs

I will pretty much always pick up a book written by Tera Lynn Childs, because I enjoy the lighthearedness I always find in her stories. Sweet Shadows is the second books of her Medusa Girls series. You can check out my review of the first book, Sweet Venom, here. So it was a given that I was going to read Sweet Shadows.

Here's the summary from Goodreads: Three teenage descendants of Medusa, now united, must claim their heritage to fight the monsters escaped from the abyss. Gretchen may have known she was a descendant of Medusa long before her sisters--after all, she's spent her life fighting the monsters that escape the abyss--but that doesn't mean it will be easy to teach the other girls the ropes. Greer has pressing social commitments on her plate and precious little time to train in her newfound powers. But that wretched second sight won't leave her alone, and her fabled heritage seems to be creeping into her fashionable life. Grace has worries closer to home--like why her brother, Thane, has disappeared. He's hiding something. Could it possibly be related to the secret heritage the triplets share?

What I Liked: 1) I like the three sisters. As they started to get to know each other in Sweet Venom you could see relationships begin to develop, but throughout Sweet Shadows their relationship becomes more cemented, and they begin to care for each other as sisters, instead of strangers who happen to look alike. 2) Um, there was a unicorn in this book. I don't know that I have ever encountered a unicorn in another book other than Harry Potter. But this one talked and wasn't being eaten by Voldy. How cool is that!? Did there need to be a unicorn? Probably not. Did it add to the sheer awesomeness? Yes. 3) The time spent in the Abyss - this was a whole new setting for us as Gretchen dove head first into the unknown to save Nick. I wasn't expecting where that storyline went, but I'm interested to see where it picks up again in the next book. 5) There's something about Thane...Grace's mysterious older brother who has been mentioned repeatedly in these books finally makes an appearance near the end of Sweet Shadows. And there is something about him that I can't quite figure out. Just as we are beginning to make sense of things, Miz Childs has thrown even more mystery at us.

What I Didn't Like: I was surprised to find that it took a little time for me to feel invested in this story. For how much I loved the first book, this one was a little flat, particularly in the beginning. I was seriously worried that it was going to become a "Second Book Trap," just filling fodder until we can get to book three. But finally about a fourth of the way in, something clicked, and I started to get into it.

Overall Thoughts: After a bit of a rocky start, Sweet Shadows sunk into the story and started pulling the characters together. There was so much going on for the three sisters that it seemed almost crazy that anyone could keep up with all of it. But with the addition of some new and mysterious characters, plus a completely new setting (where I'm betting we'll visit again in book 3), and a more stable sistership, Sweet Shadows became a fun addition to the series.

My Rating: 4 shots

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Erasing Time by C.J. Hill

For some reason, I've been fascinated with twins forever. Probably since I started reading Sweet Valley Kids when I was young, and I thought it would be awesome to have a twin. Anyway, I think that realizing this story was about twins is what first grabbed my attention, and the rest of the summary made it easy to get interested.

Here is the summary from Goodreads: When twins Sheridan and Taylor wake up 400 years in the future, they find a changed world: domed cities, no animals, and a language that’s so different, it barely sounds like English. And the worst news: They can’t go back home. The twenty-fifth-century government transported the girls to their city hoping to find a famous scientist to help perfect a devastating new weapon. The moblike Dakine fights against the government, and somehow Taylor and Sheridan find themselves in the middle. The only way to elude them all is to trust Echo, a guy with secrets of his own. The trio must put their faith in the unknown to make a harrowing escape into the wilds beyond the city.

What I Liked: 1) I've recently gotten into time travel - well, back when I read Julie Cross's Tempest. So I definitely loved that aspect of the story. This one took a different bend than what I was used to. Notice in the summary that it says they "can't go back". Because of the scientific explanation of their time traveling, there are reasons that they can't return to their time period. That was more than a little nerve-wracking for me, but was one of the many things that kept me flipping the pages. 2) Taylor and Sheridan. I thought their relationship was very well written, it was so easy for me to understand where each twin was coming from, despite their being so different. I thought they were developed well throughout the story both as individuals and as a duet. Taylor can be a little...irritating at times, but this book would not have worked as well as it did if not for her and Sheridan. 3) I LOVED how vastly different the world was 400 years from now. Even the language is something that Sheridan and Taylor have to work to understand. Some things are vaguely familiar to our MC duo, but it's a completely new world. And I loved how creative the author was in creating this new place. 4) Echo's story. This was heartbreaking. If the other parts of the book weren't great (which they are), this character and his back story would be worth the read anyway. There is always something about him that you know is holding him back from opening up completely, and when you find out what it is, he suddenly becomes an open book, and completely loveable. Not loveable in a teddy bear kind of way, more loveable in a you need a hug kind of way (and to stroke his probably smokin' abs.) Heh.

What I Didn't Like: I can't think of a single thing I didn't like about this book!

Overall Thoughts: Erasing Time is an intriguing story full of plot twists, time travel, some mysterious scientific discoveries, and exciting action. The main characters, twins Sheridan and Taylor are easy to get to know and relate to and lend the story an air of realism, but it's Echo who really steals the story. His story will absolutely touch your heart and leave you wanting more when you turn the final page.

My Rating: 5 shots

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (46)

I saw this pin on pinterest the other day and immediately thought of my Wednesdays when I love to bounce around and see what everyone else is waiting on. I always add a lot of books to my TBR list after checking out all your WoWs, so this seemed perfect. Am I wrong? Does that not make y'all think of Waiting on Wednesday?

Anyway, Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine that highlights the books that we are most anxiously awaiting!

This week my WoW is.....

Hidden by P.C. and Kristin Cast (HON #10)
Release Date: October 16th, 2012 <--I will straight up be at Walt Disney World when this book is released! Can't wait!

Here's the thing about these books: the first time I read one, I was like...that was really bad. I thought that she was sorely out of tune with the way that teens talk and act. But I decided to give it another shot, and read the next one. And the next one. And soon, I was completely hooked on this series. For me, it's like I always say about the PLL books. They are like one of those guilty pleasures that I will always give into. And every time I read one of the HON books, I'm like, okay, this story is just getting too ridiculous, this is the last one I'm going to read. But then the next book comes out and I can't help myself. I have to know what happens with Zoey and crew. So yeah, this week, I'm waiting on the 10th House of Night book, Hidden. Don't judge. :)

What are y'all waiting on this lurvely Wednesday?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long

Here's the summary from Goodreads: The trees swallowed her brother whole, and Jenny was there to see it. Now seventeen, she revisits the woods where Tom was taken, resolving to say good-bye at last. Instead, she's lured into the trees, where she finds strange and dangerous creatures who seem to consider her the threat. Among them is Jack, mercurial and magnetic, with secrets of his own. Determined to find her brother, with or without Jack's help, Jenny struggles to navigate a faerie world where stunning beauty masks some of the most treacherous evils, and she's faced with a choice between salvation or sacrifice--and not just her own.

What I Liked: 1) Great idea. I don't know if this is a retelling of a fairy tale, because it's not something that I've ever encountered before. But I thought the story was very creative and unique. 2) Jack. He gives very little away, but I (along with Jenny) was inexplicably drawn to him. There are so many reasons that he tries to explain why she should stay away from him, yet she is still drawn to him. 3) Jenny's devotion to her brother. I love how hard she is working to try and find him. She knows he has to be there after he disappeared into the trees so many years ago, and now that she knows she wasn't crazy, she really will do anything to find him. It shows a lot of courage and love on her part. 4) I really loved some of the creepy and mysterious creatures that we met along her journey. I think they all have a basis in some old fairy tale stories, but they seemed so real and inventive. Real things to be wary of under the bed or in the closet!

What I Didn't Like: Well...for all the good things I liked about this story, there was one thing that just didn't work for me, and that was how little emotion hit me. You could tell Jenny loved her brother, you could see she was falling for Jack, but why wasn't she able to endear herself to me as a reader? I needed more of an emotional connection from me to her, or me to Jack to feel more engaged, and it was just missing.

Overall Thoughts: Fairy story lovers will definitely appreciate the themes and settings of this story, and the research that was done into fairy lore. Plot-wise the story held it's own and had a satisfying conclusion. There was some work to be done on the character development, but other than that, it was an enjoyable story.

My Rating: 3.5 shots

Monday, September 10, 2012

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

A lot of people were talking about Throne of Glass before it came out. I even read that some people said it was kind of like a YA version of Game of Thrones. I've never read Game of Thrones, so I have no idea if that's true, but with all the hype, I knew I had to get my hands on this one.

Here's the summary from Goodreads: After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

What I Liked: 1) The plot. Talk about a detailed and very involved storyline. There were so many different branches of this story going on that once I got into it and started to see which pathways the characters were taking, I'm not sure the fire alarm would have pulled me out of it. Lots of twists and turns that just approach that line of being confusing, but thankfully never cross it. 2) Chaol and Dorian. Okay, one of them is a Prince, but he isn't all...snobby like our MC Celaena expects. What girl doesn't like a Prince? The other is just...*sigh*...kind of strong, silent type. Like a knight. I think I could live in this world and be happy. I thought all of the characters were very well developed and fully explored as people. They became very real to me as I was reading along. 3) Nehemia. I think Nehemia was my favorite female character. I could tell all along that she wasn't quite what she seemed, but thought she was fabulous all the same. I loved the way that she befriended Celeana, and really taught her how to be more than a hardened killer. Also, she added a stronger dimension to the story, making it extend past the borders of Adarlan. 4) The writing. I loved how detailed and fluidly this story was written. Between the language and the pacing, it made it easy to sink into the story. No big jumps or gaps, no stopping and starting where you find yourself crashing back down to reality. 5) Celaena. She became such a real person to me as I was reading that I felt her pain of struggling to be who she thinks she is, and who she wants to be. She's got so many competing emotions that she doesn't understand, and they were all expressed through action, and not just speech. Awesome, awesome, awesome.

What I Didn't Like: 1) Well, the only thing I can say is that in the beginning, Celaena was seriously arrogant. I kind of wanted to punch her in the face a few times. Stop standing in front of a mirror fawning over yourself. Seriously. But she got better!

Overall Thoughts: A great opening to what I'm sure will be an awesome story. These characters will grab you by the shoulders and pull you into their world so thoroughly that you'll be disappointed to come back to reality. Between action, romance, drama, and magic, there is something for absolutely everyone in Throne of Glass, so make sure you take the time to check it out!

My Rating: 5 shots

Friday, September 7, 2012

Over You by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

I read a lot more speculative fiction than contemporary fiction, so when I come across a piece of contemp fic that appeals to me, I tend to jump in with both feet. That's how I felt when I first came across Over You. It sounded super cute, so I was very excited to get into it.

Here's the summary from Goodreads: After the grand explosion of her relationship, seventeen-year-old Max Scott developed what every girl in the history of the world has been waiting for: a way to get over being dumped. Now Max is the go-to guru for heartbroken high-school girls all over NYC. But when her ex unexpectedly shows up in her neighborhood, Max’s carefully controlled world starts to unravel. With her clients’ hearts hanging in the balance, Max will have to do the seemingly impossible: get over him once and for all.

Now, I hadn't read anything by these authors before (they wrote The Nanny Diaries) so I wasn't sure what to expect, other than that the summary sounded cute.

What I Liked: 1) Max. Max was very savvy for a seventeen year old. She's got a good business sense (other than taking payment in cookies, really). She is also very professional while she is helping other girls to get over their breakups. She was very well-developed, and that made it easy to get into the story. 2) Supporting characters - Zach, Phoebe and Bridget. Sometimes it's hard to imagine an MCs life because you don't get to know their friends. But this book was written as to show the reader the relationship between MC and supporting characters and how Max is influenced by her friends. 3) Ben. Loved Ben, I thought he was such a sweet guy, kinda the strong, silent type. I actually kind of got irritated at Max a little bit for how she was treating him. But it was also a really interesting way how their lives overlapped without them even knowing it for a while. 4) One shot, happy ending. I spend so much time in these other worlds, these supernatural worlds of speculative fiction stories, that I have come to really appreciate the happy ending of this realistic fiction piece. So many books that I read have bittersweet endings, like the happy comes with the sad, but I thought this one was just a good ol' happy ending. It was great.

What I Didn't Like: Like I said before, I had some issues with how Max was treating Ben sometimes, but it was necessary, so it worked.

Overall Thoughts: This was a sweet little one shot story with a happy ending that anyone can enjoy. If you're are looking for something light and fun with a happy ending, I'd definitely recommend picking up Over You. The characters are all very likeable, and the subject matter is something any girl (or guy) can understand and appreciate!

My Rating: 5 shots

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Storm by Brigid Kemmerer

I happened upon this book because a friend added it to their Goodreads shelf. Books with elemental magic always intrigue me because there are so many out there, but done in so many different ways, so I decided to add it to mine too!

Here's the summary from Goodreads: Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys - all the ones she doesn't want. Ever since her ex-boyfriend spread those lies about her. Then she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. They're powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death. And now that she knows the truth, so is Becca. Secrets are hard to keep when your life's at stake. When Hunter, the mysterious new kid around school, turns up with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time, Becca thinks she can trust him. But then Hunter goes head-to-head with Chris, and Becca wonders who's hiding the most dangerous truth of all. The storm is coming.

What I Liked: 1) Four hot boys. Haha! But seriously, Chris and his brothers are the kind of dangerous but sweet guys that I love. You get to know Chris the best, as this book focuses more on him, but their dynamic as a family is very revealing about who they all are - great character development even without focusing too much on any of these secondary characters. 2) There was a lot of mystery wrapped up in this story. In most books, I can kind of follow where I think the plot is going, and see the ending before it arrives. I had my suspicions as I read, but I wasn't ever sure exactly how things were going to turn out, especially regarding Hunter. That was something that I really enjoyed, and definitely drove the story forward for me. 3) The magic. Like I said before, there are so many stories out there that involve or include a type of elemental magic, and they are all so different and creative. And this one was no different. Lots of imagination went into creating this specific world of Elementals, how the magic manifests, and how it affects others. It was so creative. 4) The pacing. I just went back to see how many pages this book was on my Nook, and came up with 295. That surprised me, because of how fast I moved through the story. The pacing is excellent, and you can read the whole thing in just a few hours because it is easy to become fully immersed in the story.

What I Didn't Like: 1) I would have liked some more details regarding the setting and characters. They weren't the main focus of the story, that was very obviously the plot, but it still would have been nice to have a few more details.

Overall Thoughts: Storm was a very exciting story with some loveable guys and a fascinating plot. A few details were missing, but it didn't detract from the mystery that I was easily able to get caught up in. Book 2, Spark, just came out and I've already downloaded it on my Nook, anxious to get started! Anyone who likes magic will get a kick out of this one.

My Rating: 4 shots

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (45)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine! It highlights the books that we are most anxiously awaiting!

This week my WoW is................ 

The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa 
Release Date: October 23, 2012 

I loved the first Iron Fey books, so when I found out that Miz Kagawa was writing another (at least one) book from the series, this time following Meghan's little brother, I was wicked excited.

Here's the summary from Goodreads: Don’t look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them. That is Ethan Chase’s unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he’s dare to fall for. Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myths and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten. My name is Ethan Chase. And I may not live to see my eighteenth birthday.

I love everything about this...except for the cover. I loved the covers for the first 4, but this one is a little too.....cartoonish for my taste. That's not going to stop me from reading it though!

What are y'all waiting for this lovely Wednesday?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Austin Teen Book Festival

September is here! I love September, because it means several things.

1) The return of College Football! I went to Oklahoma State University as an undergrad and have ALWAYS been a Big 12 fan. I practically bleed orange now!
2) Fall Weather! We're finally going to get some cooler weather around here. And by cooler, in Texas that generally means 85 instead of 105, but I'll take it! and
3) Austin Teen Book Festival! Last year was the first year I attended ATBF, and I was looking forward to this year's as soon as I got home! It was so much fun, so many great readers and authors were there, and it was a great event. I know this year it is going to be even better.

This year's event is on Saturday, September 29th at the Palmer Event Center - it is a FREE EVENT and has an impressive list of authors who are attending! Make sure you check out the event info page here to get all of the details.

I'm super excited to see and hear from all of the authors on the list, but I'd have to say that I'm probably most excited about Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl of the Beautiful Creatures series (okay, y'all should all know by now how I feel about Ethan Wate) and Ally Condie of the Matched series. Keynote speaker Neal Shusterman and Closing speaker Libba Bray should be interesting, Libba Bray's books are funny! Between now and then I have to try and get caught up on some of their books, because there are a few authors whom I haven't even read yet!

Here are a few details:
* Event begins at 9:30am and ends at 5pm
*Parking is $7 at the Palmer Event Center
*Books WILL be for sale and Authors will be signing
*There are 6 panels for you to choose from, all with awesome authors and moderators (you can find the list of panels and authors on the ATBF about page here.)

Just for kicks - here are some of my favorite things that happened at ATBF 2011!
- Scott Westerfeld announced on the ALTERNAWORLDS panel that he liked to write speculative fiction because he was "bored by realism."
- The I Heart Love Stories panel all agreed that Romeo and Juliet was a poor example of a love story because "she's 13 and kills herself over some schmuck!" according to Stephanie Perkins (Lola and The Boy Next Door)
- My Grandmother, who attended with me, announcing "That Simone Elkeles (Perfect Chemistry) was quite a character. I need to get her book!" And she did! Got it signed and everything!
- Fangirling over Stephanie Perkins! It's true, it happened, and I'm not even ashamed to admit it.
- Meeting a lot of other awesome book bloggers and readers
- Discovering what would become one of my favorite books, Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker

I'm anticipating even more awesomeness from this coming ATBF, and hope to see some of you there! Let me know if you're planning on attending, and let the countdown begin!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Frost by Marianna Baer

Happy Labor Day, everyone! How are y'all spending today? Did football season start for everyone out there yet? My OSU Cowboys played their first (non-conference) game on Saturday! I love OSU football!

I saw Frost on the bookshelf at my favorite indie bookstore a few weeks ago and thought the premise sounded interesting, so I picked it up. I believe this is Miz Baer's debut!
Here's the summary from Goodreads: Leena Thomas’s senior year at boarding school starts with a cruel shock: Frost House, the cozy Victorian dorm where she and her best friends live, has been assigned an unexpected roommate—eccentric Celeste Lazar. As classes get under way, strange happenings begin to bedevil Frost House: frames falling off walls, doors locking themselves, furniture toppling over. Celeste blames the housemates, convinced they want to scare her into leaving. And although Leena strives to be the peacekeeper, soon the eerie happenings in the dorm, an intense romance between Leena and Celeste’s brother, David, and the reawakening of childhood fears all push Leena to take increasingly desperate measures to feel safe. But does the threat lie with her new roommate, within Leena’s own mind…or in Frost House itself?

What I Liked: 1) Interesting idea. Haunted House much? That's seriously what it seemed like. Frost House, instead of being a setting, was more like another MC in the book, competing with Leena, Celeste and David for my attention. Not only was it written that way, but Leena starts to think of Frost House as a character too, even from the beginning. 2) Spooky. There was a lot of spooky things going on, as should happen in all good ghost stories. This would have been a good book to read around Halloween, because of all the spookiness. 3) This is something I rarely think about when I am reading because I get so sucked into books (seriously, sometimes I think the smoke alarm could go off and I wouldn't know it) but this book has a melody that follows it. It's written almost like music, with crescendos and decrescendos, arpeggios, and intermezzos. The book was very musical. (If that made any sense)

What I Didn't Like: 1) Well, I had a hard time connecting with any of the characters, and I thought about the reason for a long time. It wasn't that they weren't well-developed, because they were. The reason I finally settled on was that they were too contradictory. Their personalities were changing drastically too quickly for me to pin down who they really were. 2) I was also disappointed by the ending. I mean, it worked, don't get me wrong, but I was expecting so much more. It fell a little flat for me.

Overall Thoughts: The ghost-like haunting of the Frost House made this a really intriguing idea. There is some great action that happens to the characters and seemed to lead up to a really explosive ending. The ending, by contrast, fell a little flat. Miz Baer's writing style was very complimentary to my reading style however, concise and detailed, and I'll look forward to reading whatever she comes up with next.

My Rating: 3 shots