What I'm Reading: Get Even by Gretchen McNeil

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Reverse Author Interviews: Cinda Williams Chima

Happy Last Day of April! I can't believe it's almost May! Especially because we've had some nights in the 40s last week. That's so not Texas. Actually it is. We have drunk weather sometimes. Anyway, welcome to the another edition of Reverse Author Interviews! Today we are being joined by Cinda Williams Chima, author of a bunch of stuff including the Seven Realms series and The Heir Chronicles - I started reading this series way back before I started blogging, and loved it! So excited to have her with us today! Now, onto her questions!

CWC: What is the primary reason you put a book down, e.g. don't finish it?

C@FCB: I don't. I can't remember a book I didn't finish. There have been a couple that I've thought about not finishing. If no part of it interests me at all, I don't care what happens to the characters or the plot is not interesting or doesn't move smoothly enough for me. One time I came across a book that I thought may have been edited by a 5 year old. Or I wondered if maybe the author's first language wasn't English. Neither of these was the case, but I pushed through and managed to finish. Point is, it would take a lot for me to not finish a book. I hate leaving things unfinished. I'm that person who will sit in the car with the radio on just to finish a song before getting out.

CWC: How important is it for you to find characters that resemble you in fiction, e.g. pertaining to race, cultural affinity, gender, sexual orientation?

C@FCB: Those things are less important to me than making some sort of emotional connection. When I can connect emotionally, it's a lot easier for me to get into the story. But there are some themes that are universal, that transcend race, cultural affinity, and the like that you mentioned, especially love. Since this is such a prominent theme in the YA books I read, it's usually easy to find this common ground.

Big thanks to Cinda for stopping by FCB today, and also to the ladies of Book Munchies for organizing the Reverse Authors Interviews event! Make sure you stop by their site to find links to the other bloggers who've answered today's questions!

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa

About this time last year, Julie Kagawa premiered a new series, The Blood of Eden with the first book The Immortal Rules. I loved it, and you can read that review here, so I was very excited to read the second part of Allison's story.


Here's the summary from Goodreads: In Allison Sekemoto's world, there is one rule left: Blood calls to blood She has done the unthinkable: died so that she might continue to live. Cast out of Eden and separated from the boy she dared to love, Allie will follow the call of blood to save her creator, Kanin, from the psychotic vampire Sarren. But when the trail leads to Allie's birthplace in New Covington, what Allie finds there will change the world forever-and possibly end human and vampire existence. There's a new plague on the rise, a strain of the Red Lung virus that wiped out most of humanity generations ago-and this strain is deadly to humans and vampires alike. The only hope for a cure lies in the secrets Kanin carries, if Allie can get to him in time. Allison thought that immortality was forever. But now, with eternity itself hanging in the balance, the lines between human and monster will blur even further, and Allie must face another choice she could never have imagined having to make.

What I Liked: 1) Zeke. As much as I liked him in the first book, he was a little naive, but he's changed so much once he finally appears in The Eternity Cure. He's harder, and tougher than he was before. It adds some depth to this guy who was an open book, and makes him all the more appealing. 2) That moral compass of Allie's that I admired so much was still very present. A majority of this book is dedicated to her desire to find Kanin, her sire. Her sense of loyalty is my favorite part of her character. I also want to mention her relationship with Kanin. It went a different direction than I was really expecting. I figured we were heading into a love triangle with him and Zeke. But her feelings for him have become like that of a daughter or granddaughter and I was pleased to see that develop a little more. 3) Instead of big climactic event, there were three. This was actually pretty cool. Just when my heart started beating normally again, something else would happen! There were so many big moments happening towards the end that I had no trouble staying engaged with the story.

What I Didn't Like: The last 130 pages of the story are the most interesting part - this was the hunt for the cure. I wish more of the story had been dedicated to this part of it. The first 300 pages were all about the hunt for Kanin and it moved too slow. It really just dragged on and on and it wasn't until Allie's focus switched to searching for a cure that we really got any action. I think that the first part dragged on for too long and the second wasn't long enough.

Overall Thoughts: The Eternity Cure wasn't as good as it's predecessor, The Immortal Rules. It moved slower than I would have liked, and the really interesting part just wasn't explored enough. Luckily the characters really keep the story alive, and the character development is wonderful. I enjoyed the time I spent with Allie and her cohorts and am looking forward to reading the next installment of The Blood of Eden series.

My Rating: 3.5 shots
 
The Eternity Cure hits shelves April 30th, 2013. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Reverse Author Interviews: Jay Kristoff

Morning, my little chickadees! Guess what I have for you?! Another Reverse Author Interview! This week, Jay Kristoff joins us! Jay Kristoff is the author of The Lotus War series which includes Stormdancer and Kinslayer (releases in Sept 2013). Reverse Author Interviews give authors a chance to turn the tables on us bloggers and ask their readers the questions that they may have lurking in the back of their minds. For me, it's been so fun to find out what authors wonder about their readers, and has even given me a little bit more insight to include in my reviews! This awesome event is hosted by the ladies of BookMunchies who have done an incredible job putting it all together!

JK: How do you hear about the books you want to read? Friends? Blogs? Goodreads? Telepathic powers? 

C@FCB: Oh, telepathic powers. Definitely. Actually, it's kind of a mixture. Sometimes I just go to the bookstore and wander until I find something I want to read. Usually this ends in me carrying a stack of five or six books to the register. I love getting suggestions from other blogs. Especially on Wednesdays! I always add a ton of books to my To-Read list on Wednesdays when I bounce around and see what everyone is waiting on. Goodreads...a little. I don't really just peruse Goodreads. I only notice if someone I am friends with on GR posts a book or a review. As for my friends, well, I read more than most of them, so usually I'm the one making recommendations!

JK: How do you acquire most of your books? Amazon? Local store? Library? At gunpoint?

C@FCB: Most of the books I have are purchased by me. Either as an e-book (from the B&N Nook store), or from Amazon or my local Barnes and Noble. Sometimes I get books as gifts, but my local library has a really awful selection of newer stuff, so I use that mostly for re-reads and classics that I don't own. I'm single-handedly padding their YA section with donations from my overstuffed shelves!

JK: Do you prefer first person PoV stories (I did this) or third person (she/he did this)?

C@FCB: I actually have a weird answer for this one. I experience books about 60% of the time as a physical or e-book that I'm reading. The other 40% of the time, I'm listening to an audiobook. So when it's an audiobook, I don't have a preference. It doesn't make a whole lot of difference when I'm listening. But I do have some preferences when it comes to the other 60% of the time. If I'm reading a book that is an alternating POV, I don't like it to be first person. First person alternating is often very hard for me to follow. I don't mind it as much if the pov doesn't alternate, but I almost always prefer third person POV. Not that the POV is every going to make a difference in me deciding whether or not to read a particular book. It just might affect my enjoyment of a book. What can I say? I'm picky.

Thank you to Jay Kristoff for stopping by today for our Reverse Author Interviews, and as always, thanks to the ladies of BookMunchies for organizing the awesome event! Make sure you visit their blog for links to the other RAI posts!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Collector by Victoria Scott

I think, mostly, you'd have to be crazy to not get caught up in the summary from this book!

Here's the summary from Goodreads: He makes good girls...bad. Dante Walker is flippin’ awesome, and he knows it. His good looks, killer charm, and stellar confidence have made him one of hell’s best—a soul collector. His job is simple: weed through humanity and label those round rears with a big red good or bad stamp. Old Saint Nick gets the good guys, and he gets the fun ones. Bag-and-tag. Sealing souls is nothing personal. Dante’s an equal-opportunity collector and doesn't want it any other way. But he’ll have to adjust, because Boss Man has given him a new assignment: Collect Charlie Cooper’s soul within ten days. Dante doesn't know why Boss Man wants Charlie, nor does he care. This assignment means only one thing to him, and that’s a permanent ticket out of hell. But after Dante meets the quirky Nerd Alert chick he’s come to collect, he realizes this assignment will test his abilities as a collector…and uncover emotions deeply buried.

What I Liked: 1) My favorite part of this story was Dante (and that was predictable, wasn't it?) He is an unapologetic badass with a big ego and a tongue as sharp as whiplash. Author Victoria Scott definitely knows how to write a bad boy. The voice she's given him is funny and enticing, as his character is supposed to be. Snarky and sarcastic with a healthy dose of egotism made him a very fun and attractive. Overrun with swagger and charm, he's the kind of guy a girl like me is drawn to, while my head is screaming for me to run in the opposite direction. This is characterization done at it's finest! For those of you who love a good bad boy, this one is definitely for you. 2) The idea. Stealing souls...that's something that has been explored a couple times in paranormal fiction, but it all comes down to different means and motives. And both the means - Dante and his blood-red seals, and the motive...well, it's a job after all, these are just a few of the things that make this book so unique. 3) Valery. Valery was my favorite girl in the book, and she doesn't show up until close to the end. With her long red nails and her clothes that can only be described as seductive, she's quite the opposite of what I imagine. I knew there had to be more to her than what we initially learn, and I was so excited when I was right! (Hahaha, read it to find out!) 4) I'm going to compliment Charlie in the fact that she was written well as Dante's polar opposite. But she was a little boring, so I can't say that I just loved her as an MC. But she is the complete opposite of Dante, so their romance is very...opposites attract. It's a sweet fall, though you sense it a lot more from Charlie's side, and Dante is so intent on his job that it's hard for him to tell when he switches from using her, to having real, serious feelings. Ah, bad boys. They just don't know what's good for them. 5) The humor. There are some parts of this book (most of them are Dante's snarky comments) that are snort-out-loud funny. Yeah, he'd totally make fun of me, but oh well. Dante's sarcastic and quick-witted humor is exactly the kind of humor that makes me roll on the floor. I loved it. 6) The ending. YES! OMG, I can't wait to see how Dante is going to handle everything that happened at the end. I was hoping this was how it was going to end up, because no matter how bad Dante's been, I just wanted good things to happen for him. And this is going to be hysterical (in The Liberator).

What I Didn't Like: Well, I already mentioned that Charlie was kinda boring, so there really is no need for anything else here.

Overall Thoughts: The Collector is a vivid, funny and unique story with one of the most interesting main characters in YA lit. Not only does the plot move at a breathtakingly fast pace, but Dante brings an overwhelming amount of ego and snark to the pages of this "flippin' awesome" debut. And after the incredible ending, I can't wait to see how Dante's life is going to change in the upcoming followup, The Liberator. If you haven't had the chance to pick up this book yet, I highly recommend it!

My Rating: 4 shots
 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (73)

Hi everyone! Everyone having a good Wednesday? Well you know what Wednesday means!! Waiting on Wednesday! WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine that highlights the books that we just can't wait to read!

   
This week my WoW is...

 
You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle 
Release Date: June 4th, 2013 

I am in a major contemporary fiction kick right now, which is funny because for so long all I wanted to read was paranormal. There are just so many awesome sounding contemps coming out soon that I can't help myself! I want them all! And this one sounds like it's going to be great!
Here's the summary from Goodreads: For the rest of the world, the movies are entertainment. For Justine, they're real life. The premise was simple: five kids, just living their lives. There'd be a new movie about them every five years, starting in kindergarten. But no one could have predicted what the cameras would capture. And no one could have predicted that Justine would be the star. Now sixteen, Justine doesn't feel like a star anymore. In fact, when she hears the crew has gotten the green light to film Five at Sixteen, all she feels is dread. The kids who shared the same table in kindergarten have become teenagers who hardly know one another. And Justine, who was so funny and edgy in the first two movies, feels like a disappointment. But these teens have a bond that goes deeper than what's on film. They've all shared the painful details of their lives with countless viewers. They all know how it feels to have fans as well as friends. So when this latest movie gives them the chance to reunite, Justine and her costars are going to take it. Because sometimes, the only way to see yourself is through someone else's eyes.
I can just imagine myself, lounging by the pool and enjoying this one. So, what are y'all waiting on this lovely Wednesday?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

Something about this cover intrigued me immediately. I think it was the red on white that first caught my attention, but then also, what is she doing? It kind of looks like she's shooting a gun. And she's supposed to be dead, so what's that all about? Anyway, I finally decided that I would grab the audiobook of this one and listen to it in the car.

Here is the summary from Goodreads: In this gripping exploration of a futuristic afterlife, a teen discovers that death is just the beginning. Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved. Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again. Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.

Also, it should be known that this is the FIRST book in the series, not the second. I think this may have been an issue because the book is being repubbed with a new title and cover, which you'll see at the bottom of this post.

What I Liked: 1) I loved how vividly everything was described. It was so easy for me to envision everything, from the settings, to their clothes that I really felt like I was experiencing the book, rather than just reading it. The details brought every bit of this book to life for me. 2) The creativity. The use of technology in Felicia's afterlife was such an interesting idea! I thought this was really intriguing, and with how closely it resembled YouTube, that actually made it pretty funny. And this is actually a huge part of the story, because it's through this technology and the desire of everyone to relive their happiest memories that the Big Baddies are even able to pull off their Big Baddie Stunts! This was very cool. And the way they do it, in these little, box things...well, you just have to read it to get the full effect, but trust me, it's kind of like a futuristic virtual reality game. That's how I pictured it anyway. Sometimes I wish I could draw, then I would draw pictures for you to better describe my reviews. I feel that they might be more accurate with illustrations. 3) Okay, sometimes I'm really bad about paying attention to the summaries. I always post them here for you guys, and I almost always read them when I am trying to decide whether or not to read a book. But sometimes the cover alone, or just the first few lines of a summary is enough to get me, and I don't read the rest of the summary. Anyway, so I was surprised to find that this was an angel story. When I think Angels in YA I either go to Lauren Kate's Fallen series, or Cynthia Hand's Unearthly series. But this one was new in all aspects of the angel idea. It was refreshing to see a new take on a subgenre that I've really enjoyed in the past. And Miz Appelhans explores the plot very thoroughly without taking it into minutia that can take too long. 4) Major props for the smooth storylines in Level 2. (I really need to start referring to this book by it's new title, but I personally like the title Level 2.) A jumpy plot can just ruin a story, am I right? The transitions were smooth, the story arcs all intersected seamlessly, everything about the timing in this book was fantastic. I'm surprised to find how much this can affect my personal enjoyment of a book, but absolutely can.

What I Didn't Like: 1) I would have liked more from the characters. I liked Felicia well enough, and we got to know a fair amount about her backstory through her reliving these memories while she was "plugged in." But I felt as if both she and Julian never really came alive as well as the rest of the books did. Everything else about this book was just so vivid and creative that the two characters faded into the background by comparison.

Overall Thoughts: I am definitely glad I read this book. The plot is engaging and jumps right off the page, and everything is described with such lusciousness that it's very easy to find yourself lost in the story. The characters are a little...modest, comparatively, but if you can forgive that one small thing, then the plot will definitely keep you interested. The whole idea is so creative and presented so well that I'm surprised more people haven't decided to check it out. Also, since I experienced this book as an audiobook, I'll say that the narrator does an excellent job of bringing this story to life.

As I said before, this book is being released in paperback in September with the title The Memory of After and with this new cover:

 

 You can find it in the Nook Store under both titles (I know, I checked) for the same price.

 My Rating: 4 shots
 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Revenge of the Girl With the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg

Last year I read Elizabeth Eulberg's Take A Bow, so when I came across Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality and realized that it was a new contemporary, I knew I had to read it. Plus, that title was enough to draw me in on it's own, combined with that stark white cover and lipstick font - I was hooked.

 
Here's the summary from Goodreads: Don't mess with a girl with a great personality! Everybody loves Lexi. She's popular, smart, funny...but she's never been one of those girls, the pretty ones who get all the attention from guys. And on top of that, her seven-year-old sister, Mackenzie, is a terror in a tiara, and part of a pageant scene where she gets praised for her beauty (with the help of fake hair and tons of makeup). Lexi's sick of it. She's sick of being the girl who hears about kisses instead of getting them. She's sick of being ignored by her longtime crush, Logan. She's sick of being taken for granted by her pageant-obsessed mom. And she's sick of having all her family's money wasted on a phony pursuit of perfection. The time has come for Lexi to step out from the sidelines. Girls without great personalities aren't going to know what hit them. Because Lexi's going to play the beauty game - and she's in it to win it.



What I Liked: 1) Lexi. I thought Lexi was pretty great. She was funny, and honest, and a little naive at times which made her all the more endearing. There wasn't a whole lot of character development in the story, but she does learn some lessons in her experiments. 2) Mac. Who here has seen an episode, any episode of Toddlers and Tiaras? Don't be ashamed to admit it, we've all been there. Anyway, Mac is "that girl." You know the ones. Those little girls from the show who are just...well, the phrase that comes to mind is one my Gma says - "too big for their britches." I mean, she is the epitome of a spoiled brat. Especially when her mother is around. It's almost nauseating. But I loved it because it was soooooo funny. I mean, why do people keep watching Toddlers and Tiaras? There's just something about it that keeps people coming back for more. And that's what was going on with Mac. And then finally, towards the end, she finally gets real and you can appreciate that even more because of how awful she was in the beginning. 3) The light humor. There was a lot of exaggeration in his book, but instead of sounding overblown, it just made it funny. That's one of the best things about Elizabeth Eulberg's books, at least the ones that I've read, is that they have a lot of lightness to them, but she manages to throw a great lesson in there too for her characters. She unapologetically tells you right up front what lesson she wants her characters to learn, and then uses humor as a way to keep the reader engaged all the while you are wondering if they are actually going to learn their lesson, and in Revenge's case, make a point! 4) The beauty pageant angle. This was an interesting way to tie Lexi's school issues together with her home life. Admittedly my knowledge of beauty pageants is limited to Miss Congeniality and Toddlers and Tiaras, but I loved the way she used it as a catalyst for Lexi's life.

What I Didn't Like: Well, I think calling Lexi popular (in the summary) is a bit of a stretch. She's more like...the girl that they use to get homework answers from. They'll be cordial, even friendly to her, but it's not like they hang out with her, or invite her to parties or anything. So....popular is pushing it. Also, her crush, Logan. Why? That's my questions. Why did she even like him at all?

Overall Thoughts: Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality is a great one-shot contemporary. If you are looking for something that will make you laugh, give you some great characters to be friends with, and a new venue for life lessons, Elizabeth Eulberg's newest should be added to your TBR list!

My Rating: 4 shots
 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Reverse Author Interviews: Kendare Blake

Happy Friday everyone! Today we're welcoming Kendare Blake, author of Anna Dressed in Blood and the sequel, Girl of Nightmares for another edition of Reverse Author Interviews! The Anna books are really great ghost stories, and if you haven't read them, I highly recommend you do! If you're new to this event, the ladies of BookMunchies decided that during the month of April we would let the authors turn the tables on us and ask bloggers questions instead of us questioning them. It's been so fun getting to know what our favorite authors want to know about their readers!

So on to the questions:

KB: Serious question: How do you as bloggers feel about the decline of big box book retailers like Borders and Barnes and Noble. Not that Barnes and Noble is going to die! But if it did! Discuss.

C@FCB: First off, my local Borders closed and I miss it terribly. It's about location, and I also really loved the set up way better than the nearest (though not as close) Barnes and Noble. I support independent bookstores, and I visit them as much as I can. But there aren't any very close to me, probably because there are several big B&Ns around. I love going to bookstores. I would almost always rather have a book in my hand than be reading something on my Nook. Though it is handy for travel and for those late nights when I just need something new to read. So if it's a question of not having a bookstore around where I can go browse and pick up physical copies of books, then I'll be terribly sad. I do my fair share of online shopping as well, but I'll be sad to see bookstores go by the wayside. If it's a matter of big box booksellers bring overrun by indie sellers, I can take it.

KB: Not so serious question: As book bloggers, what is your most hated book/book character, and how would you prank them? Conversely, name a favorite, and describe how you would profess your love and get them to hang out with you.

C@FCB: Most hated character....well, the first one that comes to mind is President Snow from The Hunger Games series. And I would totally pull a classic prank like nair in the shampoo or something. Haha...bald President Snow. Awesome. I'd also do something really mean to Eric from Divergent. I hate him a lot too. I can't think of anything mean enough that would leave him alive (tripping him over the chasm...heheheheh). The prank I've always wanted to do is to put all the office supplies in jello! That just cracks me up! I could do that to Jeanine from Divergent. How crazy would she go if all of her stuff was in jello?

Big thanks to Kendare Blake for stopping by Fuzzy.Coffee.Books today with her great questions. And to the ladies of BookMunchies for putting together this event! Make sure you stop by bookmunchies.com to see links to the other bloggers answering Kendare's questions!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Rules by Stacey Kade

I've been looking forward to this one for a while. The summary was intriguing, that cover kind of freaks me out, and the series name? Project Paper Doll? I just had to know what it was all about.


Here's the summary from Goodreads: 1. Never trust anyone. 2. Remember they are always searching. 3. Don’t get involved. 4. Keep your head down. 5. Don’t fall in love. Five simple rules. Ariane Tucker has followed them since the night she escaped from the genetics lab where she was created, the result of combining human and extraterrestrial DNA. Ariane’s survival—and that of her adoptive father—depends on her ability to blend in among the full-blooded humans in a small Wisconsin town, to hide in plain sight at her high school from those who seek to recover their lost (and expensive) “project.” But when a cruel prank at school goes awry, it puts her in the path of Zane Bradshaw, the police chief’s son and someone who sees too much. Someone who really sees her. After years of trying to be invisible, Ariane finds the attention frightening—and utterly intoxicating. Suddenly, nothing is simple anymore, especially not the rules…

What I Liked: 1) I liked Ariane pretty well. She was exactly what she was supposed to be - a girl on the fringe who doesn't really know how to interact with the people around her. Miz Kade did a good job in making Ariane 'that girl.' 2) Zane. It's pretty hard not to like the guy who is willing to break from the pack and look past Ariane's eccentricities that reveal her for what she is (not quite human.) 3) The story itself was creative, if not completely unique in it's plotlines. There were a few twists that I was not expecting, and that ended up disappointing me (for the characters, not in the writing), and I was impressed to see those spikes of energy in the book.

What I Didn't Like: For me, The Rules felt...watered down. The characters were good, but lacking in depth and in spirit. The idea was good, but for me it comes on the heels of another book that was similar, if only reversed. It's a quick read but without any much energy it was hard to stay focused on the story at hand. Also, I hated her "best friend." Hated her. That was just mean.

Overall Thoughts: I found The Rules to be a little lackluster, with flat characters and a plot that didn't have any real drive. Suffice it to say, this one just wasn't for me. I really wanted to like it more, and even read it twice to see if there was something I missed. The lack of a connection for me kinda clinched it though. This story is, however, meant as a series, and I'm actually looking forward to the next book, to see if maybe the story comes alive a bit more.

My Rating: 2 shots
 
The Rules hits shelves on April 23rd, 2013

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (72)

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...

 
Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington 
Release Date: May 1st, 2013
Here's the summary from Goodreads: Above all else, though I try not to think about it, I know which life I prefer. And every night when I Cinderella myself from one life to the next a very small, but definite, piece of me dies. The hardest part is that nothing about my situation has ever changed. There is no loophole. Until now, that is... For as long as she can remember, Sabine has lived two lives. Every 24 hours she Shifts to her ′other′ life - a life where she is exactly the same, but absolutely everything else is different: different family, different friends, different social expectations. In one life she has a sister, in the other she does not. In one life she′s a straight-A student with the perfect boyfriend, in the other she′s considered a reckless delinquent. Nothing about her situation has ever changed, until the day when she discovers a glitch: the arm she breaks in one life is perfectly fine in the other. With this new knowledge, Sabine begins a series of increasingly risky experiments which bring her dangerously close to the life she′s always wanted... But just what - and who - is she really risking?

I wasn't the biggest fan of Jessica's Embrace series, but I'm going to give this one a shot because it sounds that it could be very interesting! What about y'all? What are you guys waiting on today?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

When We Wake by Karen Healey

Cryogenics always seems so...science fiction-y to me. There have been rumors about it for years, but I really don't believe that Walt Disney is frozen somewhere. Even so, when I come across a book that hints at it, my nerves get all buzzy and I just have to read it.


Here's the summary from Goodreads: My name is Tegan Oglietti, and on the last day of my first lifetime, I was so, so happy. Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027--she's happiest when playing the guitar, she's falling in love for the first time, and she's joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice. But on what should have been the best day of Tegan's life, she dies--and wakes up a hundred years in the future, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened. Tegan is the first government guinea pig to be cryonically frozen and successfully revived, which makes her an instant celebrity--even though all she wants to do is try to rebuild some semblance of a normal life. But the future isn't all she hoped it would be, and when appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: Does she keep her head down and survive, or fight for a better future?

*oh, also this review is based on the audiobook!

What I Liked: 1) The setting. First of all, this book is set in the future. In Australia. Author Karen Healey is from New Zealand. I didn't even know that. Right off the bat this piqued my interest, because how often do I read a book set in that part of the world? Hardly ever. As in...never. It's so much fun to explore a completely new setting, especially because I have nothing else to compare it to. I almost wish we'd spent a little more time with the details of the setting. 2) The characters. (Bear with me, because I listened to the book and therefore may not spell all of the names correctly.) As the main character, Tegan brings a lot to the story herself, especially because she is a girl from 2027, conditioned to the lifestyles of the time. So when she wakes up and is thrown into life 100 years in the future, she has to decide what parts of her former life to retain and what new trends she has to accept. In spite of that, her character development was very smooth. Her new friends, Bethari and Joph are great additions, bringing both humor and sincerity to the story. The narrator of the audiobook does a great job with her character differentiations as well. 3) The mystery. There are a lot of questions almost from the beginning. How is it that Tegan became the first person to ever go through this procedure, and who is funding the scientific research? Also, what is the real purpose of the study? These are just some of the main questions that I was searching for answers for as I delved deeper into the books. I loved Tegan's quest to find answers, and Miz Healey's tiny reveals around every corner kept me interested all the way through. 4) There is a big political story arc going in the midst of everything else that intrigued me more than anything. I was making all sorts of connections as I was listening that I still don't know if they are true. I always love "fight the man" stories, and this one, while it isn't as huge as some are, at least through this book, Tegan has a tendency towards activism from her first life, and now that she's become a nationally known figure, she is in an interesting position to continue searching for the truth.

What I Didn't Like: 1) There were parts of the book that were so interesting that I was on the edge of my seat. And then there were parts of the book that I thought "Okay, hurry up already." The pacing was a little hit and miss for me. 2) Abdi. The big love interest that was neither very loving or interesting. His story was interesting, and the politics behind them definitely intrigued me, but I was mostly bored by him, and completely over his whole attitude.

Overall Thoughts: If you are looking for an audiobook to get into, I'd definitely recommend When We Wake by Karen Healey. The narrator does a great job bringing this story to life! Most of the characters bring something different to the story, and have great personalities that can pull you right in to their stories. The political story arc that is there from the very beginning is one of the most interesting ones I've come across. There were some issues with pacing, some of the stop-start motions that can interrupt the flow, and I think that the male MC, Abdi needed some more development. But if you are looking for something unique, this one is it!

My Rating: 3.5 shots
 

Monday, April 15, 2013

That Time I Joined The Circus by J.J. Howard

That Time I Joined The Circus only appeared on my radar a few measly days before it's release on April 1st. But I jumped on NetGalley and was luckily approved for a galley that I jumped into pretty quickly after being approved. Anything with circus in the title grabs my attention easily!


Here's the summary from Goodreads: 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. With humor, wisdom, and a dazzlingly fresh voice, this debut reminds us of the magic of circus tents, city lights, first kisses, and the importance of an excellent playlist.

What I Liked: 1) Okay, what about "ran away to the circus, but not on purpose" doesn't just beg you to read more. How do you accidentally run away to the circus? You'll have to read more about how it all ended up that way, but suffice it to say, she didn't intend to join the circus, and it continues to amaze her every day when she wakes up that this is something she's actually done. It was very funny to watch her try and make her way in a completely new community. 2) Speaking of a new community, this was probably my favorite part about this book. Circus communities are portrayed in a myriad of different places, movies, tv shows, books, and the one thing I've noticed that they have in common is their sense of community. They are as tight knit as a family unit, and not only do they care about each other like that, but they fight like it as well. I could have easily been convinced to run away and be friends with all of the folks in this story. Something else that amazes me is how self-sustaining this Circus family was. A teacher for the students, they all have trailers and bunks to live in, I almost thought of them as gypsies. Again, I'm ready to go on the road with Lexi and her crew! 3) The characters - rich and well-developed. Despite Lexi being the main character, I felt like we got to know many of the secondary characters very well. Miz Howard gave them such well explained and developed back stories that it was hard for me to even remember that Lexi hadn't been around for their whole lives. I enjoyed getting to know Lina, Liska, Jamie, and Nick a lot, and they added a great depth to the story. 4) We've been talking a lot about the love story here on FCB, especially with all of our RAIs, so I don't know if it was just on my mind, but there is a love storyline going on in this book. It isn't the main focus of the book although it does play a pretty major role in how things turn out. I was surprised by the way the love story was wrapped up though, and I think a lot of readers won't see this one coming.

What I Didn't Like: Two, teeny tiny little things. 1) The overall story arc was lacking depth. I mean, it wasn't just fluff, but for some of the topics that were being broached, I expected a little bit more. 2) Eli. We meet Eli at the very beginning of the story. All of the other characters had these really great stories, and added a lot to the book, but I felt like, for the role he played, he needed some more development.


Overall Thoughts: That Time I Joined The Circus is one of those books that I would buy a ton of copies of, and just give them out to people. The many dimensions of it will appeal to a variety of people. It's well-written with some great characters and an intriguing enough storyline. The abundance of characters led to a few development problems, but didn't hinder my enjoyment of the story. Read this one for a look at the life of a traveling circus, and you'll be engaged from the beginning. I even felt like I wanted to join up the next time they rolled through my hometown. Don't anticipate a deep, darkstory despite how it begins, and it will keep you reading long into the evening!

My Rating: 4 shots
 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Cross My Heart, Hope to Die by Sara Shepard

I'll be honest, I almost forgot this was a book series. I like the tv show - and (something I never thought I'd say) I think I like it better than the books. It's so much better when Emma and Sutton are both ALIVE. Yeah. That's my peace.






Here's the summary from Goodreads: When I died two months ago, my killer told my twin sister to become me—or else. Now Emma has it down to a T. She tosses her hair with the signature Sutton Mercer flip and can lead a Lying Game prank with the best of them. She’s even repairing my relationship with my adoptive family. The only thing she hasn’t done is solve my murder. Then our birth mother, the woman who abandoned us, showed up in Tucson. Emma hasn’t seen Becky in twelve years, but Becky recognizes Emma immediately—as Emma. Is it a mother’s intuition . . . or does Becky know I’m already gone?

What I Liked: 1) One thing I will say for this series is that Sara Shepard definitely knows how to keep a mystery alive. She has figured out a way to throw a million curveballs in one game (hey, it's baseball season, gimme a break) and still not get too terribly irritating. Cross My Heart, Hope to Die introduces even more pieces of an already complicated mystery, which, if you are at all familiar with her writing, you'll know is kind of her trademark. Thankfully, she lays it all out for you. It isn't particularly psych-twisty, so it doesn't require a lot of thinking to follow it. 2) The zings of humor that she adds through her characterization keep the book light-hearted, despite the dark undertones of murder and mystery. I laugh at how outlandish and larger-than-life her characters tend to be, and it's one of the things that keep me coming back for more. 3) Bringing Emma's birth mom back into it was...an unexpected twist. This book is already so different than the direction they've taken the television show that I guess I don't know what I was expecting from this, but it sure was an interesting change of page. 4) Something I've noticed in this series that I haven't seen in her other popular series (that I'm also addicted to!) is a maturing of the writing. Sometimes when I'm reading her work I just think to myself, when are they going to grow up? They act like spoiled six year olds! But she's really matured them up in CMHHTD, and I was glad to see it taking a little more depth, and lifelike, for lack of a better term.

What I Didn't Like: I mentioned that I actually like the television show better than I like the storyline in the books right now. I think it's because the storyline is moving at a glacial pace right now. I mean, we're talking snails are passing this bad boy by. I need to learn something new in the next book, because as interested as I am in finding out who killed Sutton and why, we aren't even crossing suspects off our list anymore!

Overall Thoughts: Cross My Heart, Hope To Die is a slow addition to the Lying Game series. It's funny, and I'm so glad to see Sara Shepard maturing her characters (read: they aren't quite as annoying) but I need the pace to be picked up in the story arc to convince me to keep reading the series and not just stick with the tv show.

My Rating: 3 shots
 

Reverse Author Interviews: Hilary Weisman Graham

Happy Friday! And with Friday comes....another Reverse Author Interview! If you're new to RAIs, it's a time for authors to turn the tables on their readers! This awesome event is hosted by the lovely ladies of BookMunchies and I must say they've been so great about putting it all together. Today I'll be answering the questions of Miz Hilary Weisman Graham, author of Reunited, which sounds like an awesome summer roadtrip book! I plan on reading it soon! Before I get to Hilary's questions, I want to remind y'all to check out BookMunchies to find out how to get involved with this great event!

On to the interview!

HWG: If you are a fan of a certain genre, do you ever get bored by the conventions of that genre, such as the inhumane society that always exists in Dystopian fiction, or the plots in Romance novels, where the girl always ends up getting the boy?

C@FCB: I definitely go through phases where I feel like I get stuck in a rut. Too much dark stuff, or too much paranormals, and I find myself suddenly more interested in contemporaries. I try to mix it up when I'm reading so it doesn't happen, but it will on occasion. But I don't think it's so much me getting bored with the books themselves. Luckily because this hobby of ours includes so much variety, I don't think I get bored with the conventions that are norms in certain books. And I always like it when the girl get the boy. ;)

HWG: What's more likely to get you hooked in a book--plot or character?

C@FCB: The age old debate for reviewers! Seriously, this topic is always getting discussed somewhere in our blogosphere! As for me, it's the characters, without a doubt. A book can have the most inventive, action-filled plot in the world, but if I don't have an emotional connection to the characters, don't really care what happens to them, I just won't be as invested in the book. It might be interesting to know though that, at least in the world of other readers that I talk to and/or follow online, I seem to be in the minority. Just in the times I've been involved in this conversation, or even just read others who've been talking about it, most will forgive underdeveloped characters for a more intriguing plot.

HWG: Does a book need to have a love story in it for you to like it?

C@FCB: Nope, I don't think it does. I think that a huge percentage of YA fiction, which is a majority of what I read, has a love story, because that's a big part of life as a teenager. It would be hard to write about a teen without exploring that at least a little. But some of my favorite stories, ones that I read over and over don't have dedicated love stories. The Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the Pretty Little Liars book (though those girls are in and out of love all the time, but I don't consider it a love story), the Harry Potter books...these are the stories I read over and over. But love is a universal theme, and I think that leaving all traces of it out of a story, be it love of friends, family, a romantic love, even power or money would be denying a huge part of human nature (not that all characters are human!). I'd probably notice is this was missing. (Ooo, look at me getting all psychological!)

HWG: Do you ever get "series fatigue," or do you prefer reading books that are part of a series because you get to spend more time with characters you love?

C@FCB: Some series that drag on and on, *ahem, House of Night, ahem* give me series fatigue. They just keep going when I feel like it should have ended three books ago. It's not that I don't enjoy the series, but come on, how much more are you going to throw at these poor characters? (See, I start to think of my favorite characters as friends, and I WILL defend them). And during the summer months especially, I read less series books. Summer just seems the time for stand-alone books, doesn't it? Something about being outside by the pool makes me want to read something that will completely finished between the front and back covers. But on an overall basis, a book's status of series or standalone has little weight when I am deciding what to read. It comes just after number of pages. :)

Big huge thanks to Hilary Weisman Graham for being our featured offer in today's Reverse Author Interviews. I am really enjoying getting to know what it is the writers we love all want to know! If you guys have been enjoying this event, make sure you stop by BookMunchies for info on how to get involved, and to see links to the other bloggers who are answering Hilary's questions today!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bloglovin'

Hi everyone! After perusing a lot of feed sites, I've finally decided I'm moving all of my feeds to Bloglovin' and I've made it really easy for y'all to follow FCB via Bloglovin' too, should you decide that's the best reader for you! So check out the button on the side, or the link below! I love all of you who come visit, so hopefully this makes it just a little easier for ya, now that GoogleReader is going away.

 Happy Reading!

Courtney

Follow my blog with Bloglovin!

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Cinder was one of my all-time favorite debuts from last year. I honestly didn't know how Marissa was even going to top it when Scarlet came out. And thanks to my awesome and lovely friend Amy at Denim-Jacket Librarian Dishes, I have a signed copy!! Anyway, I was super excited for this one and just tore into it as soon as it was in my hands.


Here is the summary from Goodreads: The fates of Cinder and Scarlet collide as a Lunar threat spreads across the Earth... Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive. Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

What I Liked: Ahhh!! Oh my gosh. Okay, so when I thought that nothing could top Cinder, clearly I was wrong. 1) First let's talk about the addition of Scarlet and Wolf. Miz Meyer has an awesome talent for creating characters that are likeable and realistic, even if they are supposed to be kind of unrealistic (a cyborg, a fairy tale character...). I kept forgetting that I was reading a book because I was so into it. And (back to my original point) adding Scarlet and Wolf to this story brought us a new story arc and a new setting to us, so it made it all the more interesting. 2) At first, I wasn't sure how Scarlet and Cinder were going to relate to each other, because for a long time it seemed as if we were just following two separate stories that didn't overlap at all. But the deeper I got into the story, the better I liked how were were switching back and forth between Cinder and Scarlet's plots. I should have known that at some point they would have to have some relation to each other. 3) I...ah! I'm still in awe of how creative this story is. So we all knew going into this one that it was going to be, well, a re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood. But re-telling is not the best word. That's what is so great about this one. All of the key elements are there, but the story in itself is so creative that I never once felt like I fell into that familiar story arc from LRRH. 4) The...details. Or, even just her writing style. (Geez, I am fangirling big time over here. It's almost embarrassing.) Her language is so active that the story just jumps off the page and I was able to dive headfirst into it. 5) One of the things that is so unique about the Lunar Chronicles series is that it doesn't fit into a neat box. Dystopian, sci-fi, teen romance, fantasy - Marissa Meyer has taken elements of many different popular genres, and created a series that's one of the most unique stories I've ever had the pleasure of reading.

What I Didn't Like: Yeah, since I almost broke my computer with all the fangirling...

Overall Thoughts: Scarlet is easily my favorite book I've read so far this year. I don't know that I can give a more ringing endorsement than that.

My Rating: 5 shots
 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (71)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine. It highlights the books that we absolutely cannot wait for (and always gives me a great excuse to add a bunch of new books to my TBR list - as if I need an excuse, right?)


 This week my WoW is...

 
The Originals by Cat Patrick 
Release Date: May 7th, 2013 

I am a huge Cat Patrick fan. I've loved everything she's written, she's so imaginative and both Forgotten and Revived were awesome. So naturally, I just KNOW The Originals is going to be FABULOUS!

Here's the summary from Goodreads: 17-year-olds Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey Best grew up as identical triplets... until they discovered a shocking family secret. They're actually closer than sisters, they're clones. Hiding from a government agency that would expose them, the Best family appears to consist of a single mother with one daughter named Elizabeth. Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey take turns going to school, attending social engagements, and a group mindset has always been a de facto part of life... Then Lizzie meets Sean Kelly, a guy who seems to see into her very soul. As their relationship develops, Lizzie realizes that she's not a carbon copy of her sisters; she's an individual with unique dreams and desires, and digging deeper into her background, Lizzie begins to dismantle the delicate balance of an unusual family that only science could have created.

What do you think? Sounds great, doesn't it? What are y'all waiting on this lovely Wednesday?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

Confession: So after I read The Name of the Star (review here), I passed it over to my sister. Kelsey loved it. She liked it way more than I did, and I myself gave it five stars. But while I moved on to read other books, Kelsey has read The Name of the Star a dozen times. So I think she downloaded her copy of The Madness Underneath at midnight the night it came out and the proceeded to read all night long. Then she gave away some of what happened to me the next day before I'd had a chance to read it. So I wasn't surprised by a lot of what happened.

Here's the summary from Goodreads: After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Devereaux has been living in Bristol under the close watch of her parents. So when her therapist suddenly suggests she return to Wexford, Rory jumps at the chance to get back to her friends. But Rory's brush with the Ripper touched her more than she thought possible: she's become a human terminus, with the power to eliminate ghosts on contact. She soon finds out that the Shades--the city's secret ghost-fighting police--are responsible for her return. The Ripper may be gone, but now there is a string of new inexplicable deaths threatening London. Rory has evidence that the deaths are no coincidence. Something much more sinister is going on, and now she must convince the squad to listen to her before it's too late.

What I Liked: 1) I was glad to see Rory head back to Wexford, after everything that had happened there in the first book. There was a lot more to come from this setting, and I felt like it really tied the first book and second books together. Maureen Johnson has an awesome way of describing her settings without being obvious about it, and I really felt like I was right there alongside Rory because I could visualize everything so vividly. 2) "Secret Ghost-Fighting Police." Seriously. I still love that part of the story. Now that Rory is a human terminus (the ghost killing machine), she has a lot to do. I mean, basically The Shades can't do anything without her. This opened up a lot of different possibilities within the story. 3) Callum. He's my favorite. My sister loves Stephen and wants Stephen and Rory to be together. Psh. Stephen is boring, IMHO. I like Callum. He's the funny, charming one.

What I Didn't Like: 1) Oh, the second book trap. *headdesk* Sadly, this book fell into this trap and stayed there, from beginning to end. It moved pretty slow and was missing a lot of the intrigue and plot elements that I so enjoyed from the first one. Other than something that happened at the very end, it felt like filler. 2) The humor! When I think of Maureen Johnson, I think FUNNY. She's hysterical on Twitter, and there was some awesome humor in The Name of the Star. But it wasn't here in this one. I don't think it needed to be a knee-slapper, but I just was expecting the same level as The Name of the Star.

Overall Thoughts: The Madness Underneath was good. It wasn't as good as The Name of the Star, not as good as I was anticipating. Maureen Johnson has a great way of describing her locations in a way that make the reader feel like they are living the scenes. And I really love some of the characters. I was sad that most of the book fell into that second book trap and felt mostly like filler, just leading up to the final event, and whatever is to come next. So I'm looking forward to the next book, and I have high hopes for it.

My Rating: 3 shots

Reverse Author Interviews: Marissa Meyer

Happy Tuesday! Are y'all ready for another Reverse Author Interview? Today's Guest is Marissa Meyer, author of Cinder and Scarlet, of The Lunar Chronicles. RAIs are a time for authors to turn the tables on readers and ask us some of their burning questions. The lovely ladies at BookMunchies are the organizers of this awesome event, check out their website for information on how to get involved!

MM: It seems that when I tell most bloggers that there won't be a love triangle in The Lunar Chronicles, they seem weirdly grateful for that. So what's the un-official blogger status on love triangles these days? If you're not burned out on them entirely, then what do you feel makes a good love triangle?

C@FCB: Well, when you have Prince Kai...who needs a love triangle? Love triangles seem to have a bad rep out there in the blogger/YA reader/reviewer world. I've noticed that a lot of the bloggers that I follow and read all have said things similar to "not another love triangle!" So I think the unofficial blogger status is that love triangles are an unwanted theme. I can only guess why that opinion has become popular. One reason I think it might be an issue is if the love story becomes the entire weight of the story. If the other plotlines fade into the background when a love triangle is present, that can cause readers to feel disconnected or gyped from the original story. If a summary has a really gripping, seemingly action-packed synopsis, and then the MC spends the entire story waxing poetic and whining about which boy/girl she/he likes better - I think this is a part of the reason a lot of readers don't like love triangles. As for me, I don't mind love triangles. One of the best examples of a really well-done love triangle is Will/Tess/Jem from Cassandra Clare's The Infernal Devices series. This is one of the few where I wasn't 99% sure who she was going to end up with. I can almost always figure out which character the MC is going to end up with, so I don't consider those true love triangles. For it to be a really good love triangle, like the one from TID, I think it can't be so obvious which one the MC will end up with.

MM: What are you writing and/or author promoting pet peeves?

C@FCB: Uh.......hm. *tumbleweeds roll by* I have no idea. Okay, well here is something, and feel free to pummel me with...you know, cotton balls or something for saying this. It's not so much a pet peeve, but I don't understand the book trailer. The POINT of the book trailer, to be more specific. I watched a couple, and it seems like they're mostly still shots of unknown actors, with a voice-over that recites the summary that I've probably already read on Goodreads or Amazon. *confused* So I don't usually get all excited about book trailers, thought I know a lot of people do OH MY GOD BOOK TRAILER FOR THE NEW BEST BOOK EVER! Pet Peeves when reading: Really complicated names and no explanation of how to pronounce it. I seriously sounded like Viktor Krum when trying to read Hermione's name out loud until JK Rowling threw that one in there. I applaud creativity when it comes to naming characters, and I ALWAYS want to know how authors come up with their names, but if I can't pronounce it, I feel disconnected from the story and it messes with my enjoyment of it overall.

MM: Is there anything you feel is missing from the YA genre right now, or anything you'd like to see more of?

C@FCB: When I was in middle school and high school, I loved series like The Babysitters Club, and Sweet Valley High. Those were massive series' with over 100 books each. I feel an overwhelming sense of nostalgia when I think about them. I don't know that massive series' like those would work in the YA climate today, and I definitely don't think writers want to pin themselves into a series that will go on forever and ever and ever. Both of those that I mentioned were ghosted after the first 30 or so. But I still miss them. I do wish there was more variety in the contemporary subgenre of YA. Dystopian, paranormal, fantasy - these genres seem to be so much more unique than contemporary novels. Perhaps it's because in a contemporary novel you are limited to the confines of societal norms, but I still would love to see some more variety. I notice the most unique contemporary YA books are the ones narrated (and often written) by guys.

Big thanks to Marissa Meyer for participating in the Reverse Author Interview today. If you haven't checked out her series, The Lunar Chronicles, it's one of my favorites, so I highly recommend it! Be sure you visit BookMunchies today for links to the other bloggers who are answering Marissa's questions, and stay tuned because there will be more RAIs this month!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Renegade by J.A. Souders

Renegade is one that have been seeing on bookshelves for a while, and kept picking up and then putting back down. I was interested, but always had too much on my list to add something new. But finally, I found the time in my schedule and knew that this one was going to be first up!


Here is the summary from Goodreads: Since the age of three, sixteen-year-old Evelyn Winters has been trained to be Daughter of the People in the underwater utopia known as Elysium. Selected from hundreds of children for her ideal genes, all her life she’s thought that everything was perfect; her world. Her people. The Law. But when Gavin Hunter, a Surface Dweller, accidentally stumbles into their secluded little world, she’s forced to come to a startling realization: everything she knows is a lie. Her memories have been altered. Her mind and body aren’t under her own control. And the person she knows as Mother is a monster. Together with Gavin she plans her escape, only to learn that her own mind is a ticking time bomb... and Mother has one last secret that will destroy them all.

What I Liked: 1) Two Words: Underwater Utopia. Me, who has always been a water baby, learning to swim before I could walk practically, secretly wanting to be The Little Mermaid...what could be more intriguing than an underwater utopia?? Well, this particular underwater utopia isn't like King Triton's court in the Disney movie The Little Mermaid, so no fins or gills are needed. But even so, the descriptions that author J.A. Souders gave about this utopia were excellent, bringing it to life in a vibrant way. I loved that part in particular. 2) Mind altering. I'm really into this topic as a subgenre right now. Eve's memories are altered sometimes to the point that I can't help but wonder how she doesn't have some sort of brain damage. 3) Defiance. Defiance is a big theme in this book. Learning how to take a stand against what you've been conditioned to think for your entire life. And I really liked the way that it was presented in this story, how it started small and grew to the climax of the book. It was very good writing! 4) The ending. The ending of this book was my favorite part. I am so excited by where it left off and all the possibilities it is going to open up for the next book.

What I Didn't Like: I almost never have this complaint, but here it is: the book moved too fast for me. Let me explain: We bounced from scene to scene without so much as a breath, and at times I had a hard time figuring out how we got from A to B. I re-read the book, trying to see if, in my excitement, I had simply read too fast and maybe ended up skimming over things that were important. Nope, that wasn't the case. It just moved very fast. There was a lot happening, so I know that it had to move fast, but that particular part of it stood out to me as my only problem with the book.

Overall Thoughts: I'm very excited to read Revelations, the next book in this series. Renegade started off with a bang, introducing engaging characters and a setting that is absolutely fascinating. The details bring the book to life, and the plot will keep the reader interested from the very beginning. The pace was a little fast for me, but I don't anticipate it slowing down much in the following books. That one thing won't keep me from finding out what happens next, though!

My Rating: 4 shots

Friday, April 5, 2013

Mind Games by Kiersten White

I can't deny it...the cover attracted me from the beginning. Also, I always think books that mess with someone's mind are intriguing. I hope that doesn't make me sound strange...heh!




Here's the summary from Goodreads: Fia was born with flawless instincts. Her first impulse, her gut feeling, is always exactly right. Her sister, Annie, is blind to the world around her—except when her mind is gripped by strange visions of the future. Trapped in a school that uses girls with extraordinary powers as tools for corporate espionage, Annie and Fia are forced to choose over and over between using their abilities in twisted, unthinkable ways…or risking each other’s lives by refusing to obey.

What I Liked: 1) Stuff like "corporate espionage" as seen in the summary is something you don't get a lot of in teen YA fiction. Or at least not in the books I've been reading. So I was interested to see what kind of part that would be playing in this book. The action was lively and really kept the pace of the book moving forward. 2) I was definitely able to appreciate the relationship between Annie and Fia. I'm protective of my sister, and so I completely understood their feelings toward each other.

What I Didn't Like: Um...most of the rest of the book. Sad, I know. I've never read a Kiersten White book, though I know her Paranormalcy series has been popular. I never got into it. But like I said before, psychological thrillers intrigue me. This book was very jumpy. Beyond what I usually describe as the stop-start of a new driver. For me, that was all my brain could handle. Because we were in so many places at once, there was not enough to pull me into the story. Additionally, the characters just bugged me. I am one of those people who likes pretty much everyone, but on a rare occasion I come into contact with someone who just rubs me the wrong way. These characters, I don't know if it was their standoffish attitude - which is understandable because of everything they've dealt with - but I just couldn't get to know them, or care about them. And this prevents me from getting into any book.

Overall Thoughts: Mind Games just wasn't for me. I couldn't engage in a book that seemed to stop and start as often as this one did, and with no really likeable characters...I had a hard time finding other redeeming qualities. I know that her fans will probably enjoy this one, but I'm looking for more from my psychological thrillers.

My Rating: 2 shots

Reverse Author Interviews: Kim Harrington

Welcome to another edition of the Reverse Author Interviews! The Reverse Author Interviews are a time when authors can pose questions to readers/reviewers/bloggers to get some answers to questions they've been curious about. This awesome event is hosted by the ladies of BookMunchies and they have links to the others who have answered questions today too! Today I will be answering questions from Kim Harrington, author of  both the Clarity series and the Sleuth or Dare series.

KH: How do you find out about new books? Blogs, browsing a physical bookstore, chatting with friends, etc?

C@FCB: A lot of the books on my To-Read list right now I came across thanks to the popular meme Waiting on Wednesday. I bounce around all day on Wednesday, visiting different blogs and seeing what my fellow readers are looking forward to. I really like it because I am always coming across something that I hadn't heard of before. I almost never pick up something that I've never heard of in a bookstore anymore. I actually kind of miss those days, when almost everything on the shelf was new to me. I'm not saying that I've read everything I'm seeing on the shelf, or that I even want to. But since I live on Goodreads, and all of my buddies on their have wide and varying tastes, I am exposed to a lot of them. And as for getting recommendations from friends, I don't think my friends really even make recommendations to me anymore, because they usually assume I've already read of it, or at least heard of it. Which is not true, but since I make so many recommendations to them, I think they probably don't have time to find other books to recommend to me! So at this point, most of my recommendations come from other bloggers, or authors on twitter. I *heart* following authors on Twitter!

KH: Do you prefer series, standalone, or a mix of both?

C@FCB: This is clearly a popular question on authors' minds right now. Series vs. Standalone, the epic debate! I'm still of the position that it doesn't matter to me whether the book is standalone or series. I have noticed that when I recommend a book to someone, if it's a standalone, I always mention that. If it's a series, I rarely mention that. I think my words are usually: "It's a standalone, so you'll get the whole story and won't be dying waiting for the sequel." So while I don't think I prefer one over the other, maybe I subconsciously assume other people do? I think this is an answer that a lot of avid readers will give, that they don't mind one way or the other. Because if we cared enough to keep us from reading either series or standalones, we would be limiting ourselves to a much smaller pool of books to read, and I just don't think any of us could really do that.

Thanks Kim for participating! And congratulations on the new book deal! For those of you who don't know, Kim has a new book coming out in 2014, called Forget Me. Check out the information on her website about this one, because it sounds like it's going to be awesome. Oh, and it's a standalone, according to the info on her site. Make sure you visit BookMunchies to see other answers to Kim's questions!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

When I jumped into this series, it was after this, the final book was already released. So I was able to read everything pretty much back to back. Naturally, I started this one pretty quickly after finishing A Million Suns. Keep in mind that if you haven't read this series, I avoid spoilers from the book I'm reviewing, but it may give away some things that have happened in the first two books, so don't read this if you plan to read the series!

Here's the summary from Goodreads: Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience. But this new Earth isn't the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed's former passengers aren't alone on this planet. And if they're going to stay, they'll have to fight. Amy and Elder must race to discover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been for nothing. FUELED BY LIES. RULED BY CHAOS. ALMOST HOME.

What I Liked: 1) Finally! What we've been waiting for this whole time, arriving at Centauri-Earth! I'm so glad that the book took this direction because I would have been sorely disappointed if we'd built up to it and then it didn't deliver with some sort of hope. But as I've read this series and come to be familiar with Miz Revis's writing, I knew she would deliver. It was nice to have a completely new setting to explore with its own set of unique challenges. 2) Amy's parents. Actually, I'm not sure how much I "liked" them, especially her father, but I was thrilled with their appearance, and Amy's realizations that they may not belong on the pedestals that she's held them on all these months she's been awake on the Godspeed. Her father, in particular, adds yet another conflict among the people who should all be working together as they've arrived in this new place and now have to find a way to live. 3) I've found that Beth Revis's characters are different than a lot of other characters in books that I've read. Both Amy and Elder (I still hate that he doesn't have a real name), don't progress in the way that I'm used to. It seems to be more of a two steps forward one step back kind of progression with them. It made them a little more realistic in my eyes, although I've never had a problem with another style of development. 4) The ending. I was holding my breath at the end. Without even realizing how deep I had sunk into it, I was just hoping for one more little peace (yes, peace, not piece) for the MC that was was holding my breath. And literally, on one of the very last pages, the thing I wanted finally happened. I was very pleased with the ending of the series!

What I Didn't Like: I like more emotions from my characters, especially passion. There was some emotion coming from them, particularly pain, sadness, and anger from Amy. But when romance comes into the mix, even as just a subplot, I think some passion is necessary. And I missed that here, when I would have expected it to be running high from an increase of adrenaline and excitement.

Overall Thoughts: I have thoroughly enjoyed this entire series. It was funny and engaging, with a creative and unique plot. I loved the way that Shades of Earth neatly wrapped up all of the lingering questions that I've had as I've read the series, and especially enjoyed the introduction of a new setting. It was the jolt the series needed to liven it up again. I had some issues with emotional connections from the characters, but otherwise thought Shades of Earth was a great conclusion to this series.

My Rating: 4 shots 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (70)

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...

How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Release Date: May 7th, 2013

With summer approaching, I'm definitely looking forward to some contemporary books, and this one sounds like it's going to be perfect for laying out in the sun. Or, more likely, in the shade, but still outside.
Here's the summary from Goodreads: First she lost her heart. Then she lost her mind. And now she’s on a road trip to win back her ex. This debut novel’s packed with drama and romance! Rosie’s always been impulsive. She didn’t intend to set her cheating ex-boyfriend’s car on fire. And she never thought her attempts to make amends could be considered stalking. So when she’s served with a temporary restraining order on the first day of summer vacation, she’s heartbroken—and furious. To put distance between Rosie and her ex, Rosie’s parents send her on a cross-country road trip with responsible, reliable neighbor Matty and his two friends. Forget freedom of the road, Rosie wants to hitchhike home and win back her ex. But her determination starts to dwindle with each passing mile. Because Rosie’s spark of anger? It may have just ignited a romance with someone new…
What do you think? Sound interesting? What are y'all waiting on this lovely Wednesday?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt

I received an ARC of this book from Bloomsbury in exchange for a fair and honest review. I think I was initially drawn to this story because of it's bright, fun cover. But then, reading the summary, I was interested in a teen from today trying to live, if even for a little while, without modern technology. Not just without Facebook and Twitter, but without the internet and other more modern conveniences.
Here is the summary from Goodreads: 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.

What I Liked: 1) Mallory's commitment. I wonder how I would do trying to give up everything from after 1962. Mallory remains very committed to her plan in trying to live a simpler life. Also in her commitment to complete this list that her Grandmother made all those years ago. Sometimes I think she takes it to the extreme, but overall I appreciated how she (mostly) stuck to her convictions. 2) Ginnie, Mallory's sister. The whole book is peppered with smart humor, but Ginnie takes the cake. She supports her Mallory in her decision to take this step, but does it with an air of humor that made her my favorite character in the book. One of my favorite parts is when she sneaks into her sister's room and steals everything that was made after 1962. Cracked me up! 3) The sentiment behind the book. I have been talking about this book to anyone who will listen since I finished it. I was so inspired by the changes that Mallory was making to her life just by trying to follow this list that I decided to make a list of my own to attempt to follow. I love how just changing little things can make life more interesting and exciting. This is the reason that Going Vintage is going to stick with me for a long time.

What I Didn't Like: I have no complaints!

Overall Thoughts: I went into Going Vintage expecting something light and fluffy, uplifting and funny. Not only did I get those aspects, but I found something deeper in Going Vintage, an unexpected lesson from something that was as funny as this one was. I can't find a reason that anyone would not enjoy getting into this book, and feel inspired when they close the final page. I recommend it to everyone!

My Rating: 5 shots

Reverse Author Interviews

Hi everyone! I'm participating in this awesome event hosted by the ladies at BookMunchies, called Reverse Author Interviews. Basically, instead of bloggers being the ones to interview authors, some awesome authors have come up with questions for Bloggers! I thought it was such a great idea because now we as bloggers/reviews can get some insight as to what authors wonder about when it comes to the people reading their books (or their genre!). So twice a week, a group of bloggers are going to be answering the questions posed from a different author. Visit BookMunchies for more info about this event and how to get invovled!

Today, Kristen-Paige Madonia, author of Fingerprints of You, has come up with a list of questions that she's been wondering about readers! You can check out my answers here, and check out Bookmunchies for links to some of the other bloggers who've shared their answers as well.

KPM: Do you feel more inclined to read a stand-alone novel or a book series when picking your next read?

C@FCB: Honestly, I don't pay much attention to whether the book is a series or a stand-alone. On more than one occasion I've been nearing the end of a book and found myself getting on Goodreads or the author's website to see if it is a stand-alone or a series book.

KPM: Do you have any insight as to why certain books are chosen for book clubs, and others are passed over? What specific attributes do you look for in a novel when deciding to use it for a group-read?

C@FCB: I can only guess at this one, because the only book club I know anything about is one that my Grandmother participates in, and I can't say that any of the books that they've used have been on my radar. I think that most books chosen for book clubs have one of two attributes: 1) A clear message that can be easily observed and dissected. I think this also pertains to books that are chosen for kids to read in school. Not that I don't love me some Shakespeare and Dickens...2) I think the second reason a book would be chosen for a group-read is a broad topic that many can relate to, or at least have an opinion on. I'm thinking books like Eat, Pray, Love - with a changing your life kind of topic. I know a lot of books explore that topic, but it's just one I can imagine being used as a book-club book. 3) The third option would be if I ran a book club (I think there should be a whole section of FCB dedicated to an "If I were in charge of..." conversation, but I'm not organized enough for that). If I were choosing a book for a book club, any book club I was running would be made up of my friends, who mostly enjoy the same books I do. So I'd probably just pick something that sounded intriguing. And we'd probably talk about characters and development, and plotlines and action, rather than deeper meanings. Not that I don't like to find the deeper meanings in books, but that's not why I read.

KPM: How important is the cover? When it comes down to it, how often do you choose a book to read/review based on cover art?

C@FCB: As much as I hate to admit it, covers are important when I'm choosing a book to read. The cover is what first gets me to pick up a book and read the summary, or click through and read a synopsis when I'm shopping in a bookstore or on Amazon. But this is if I am just out, shopping by myself, with nothing specific in mind. When someone, another blogger, or a friend mentions a book to me, and tells me a little about it, if it sounds interesting, then cover art has very little impact on me. So overall, yes, the cover is pretty important, but a summary is more so!

KPM: Endings: Tied up neatly, or a more realistic, ambiguous open-ended conclusion?

C@FCB: Finish it off! I like all my questions answered when a book or series comes to a close. I'm probably in the minority here, but I don't mind that. I tend to love when books end with all questions answered and I can just imagine that the main character has overcome all of their problems and will live happily ever after (completely unrealistic). I also an a big fan of epilogues like the one we get from Cynthia Hand's Boundless, or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling. A little glimpse of what the future is like for the main character/characters.

KPM: Do you feel a YA novel must have some kind of love-interest plotline (or subplot) to engage readers?

C@FCB: Short answer? No. Harry Potter was without a love interest most of the time, and even when it was introduced, it never felt like romance, just a natural progression as they grew older. Longer answer: However, 90% of the books on my bookshelf have some sort of love story subplot included. Is it possible that there are more books published with a love story plot than aren't? Or just in the particular genres that I prefer, it's what is popular? My sister won't read a book without a love story. She really doesn't want to read one where a love story isn't the main story arc. I've begged her to read Divergent, which does have some romance, though it's pretty low-key, and she just won't. She's taken to texting me and asking if a certain book has a love story. That's how she decides whether or not she wants to read it. So maybe the answer is that no, it isn't necessary for readers to become engaged in a story, but with some romance included, there will always be someone who wants to read it.

Thanks to Kristen-Paige for being the first author to participate in this event, and also to Kim and Cyn over at BookMunchies for hosting and inviting me to participate! Don't forget to visit BookMunchies to view the links to other bloggers answers, and feel free to leave your own answers in the comments!

Kim and Cyn @ Book Munchies Answers
Jackie @ Sakuramelodee Answers