Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Words/Topics That Instantly Make Me Buy A Book



Top Ten Tuesday is an original meme hosted and created by The Broke and the Bookish

This Week:  The Top Words/Topics That Instantly Make Me Buy A Book

1.) Mythology

I am a huge fan of mythology, whether it be Greek, Norse, Egyptian, etc.  There is just so much to do with all the different gods and creatures.

2.) Bad Boy

Oh, how I love me some bad boy.  I love the broody, dark, mysterious, angry guy--I can't get enough of this character.

3.) Macabre

I love when ya books take a turn to the gothic and macabre.  There just aren't enough dark ya books out there!

4.) Horror

This is something that I have recently started loving.  Normally, I am a fraidy-cat, and I don't go near anything that might scare me.  But, since Anna Dressed in Blood, I am always on the look out for the next ya horror book.

5.) Retelling

I am a huge fan of retellings, like the Persephone/Hades myth, or Edgar Allan Poe stories, or fairy tles.  I love when authors modernize these old stories. 

6.) Spies

I've just recently started loving spy books, and there are so many older series that I need to catch up on that focus on spies!

7.) Different paranormal creature

Okay, so those aren't the exact words, but if I find a book that focuses on a new paranormal creature, or one that isn't done much, then I jump for it. 

8.) Other worlds

I love when settings are something other than our reality.  New worlds, alternate realities, outer space--I find all these settings intriguing.

9.) Dystopian with a flare of paranormal

I'm a huge fan of paranormal romance books, but I get tired of the same old, same old.  So, when an author adds the element of a dystopian society to the paranormal, then it's definitely a book I am going to try out.

10.) Light-hearted contemporary romance

I am not a fan of the contemporary novels that focus on tough issues such as suicide, abuse, rape, etc.  But, I do love the light-hearted, feel-good romances like the ones Stephanie Perkins writes.  If a book is the cheerful, summery type of read; then it's one that will definitely end up in my collection.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe


The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe
ARC received from Bantam Dell via Edelweiss
On Shelves Now
Reviewed by:  Middle Sis Jenn
The Sisters Say:  Compelling and full of intrigue, The Sweetest Dark will open your eyes to a new world of fantasy creatures.
For fans of Lauren Kate and Libba Bray, The Sweetest Dark is filled with thrilling romance, exciting adventure, and ancient magic. Shana Abé brilliantly captures the drama of post-Victorian England, while unfolding a passionate love story that defies time.

“With every fiber of my being, I yearned to be normal. To glide through my days at Iverson without incident. But I’d have to face the fact that my life was about to unfold in a very, very different way than I’d ever envisioned. Normal would become forever out of reach.”

Lora Jones has always known that she’s different. On the outside, she appears to be an ordinary sixteen-year-old girl. Yet Lora’s been keeping a heartful of secrets: She hears songs that no one else can hear, dreams vividly of smoke and flight, and lives with a mysterious voice inside her that insists she’s far more than what she seems.

England, 1915. Raised in an orphanage in a rough corner of London, Lora quickly learns to hide her unique abilities and avoid attention. Then, much to her surprise, she is selected as the new charity student at Iverson, an elite boarding school on England’s southern coast. Iverson’s eerie, gothic castle is like nothing Lora has ever seen. And the two boys she meets there will open her eyes and forever change her destiny.

Jesse is the school’s groundskeeper—a beautiful boy who recognizes Lora for who and what she truly is. Armand is a darkly handsome and arrogant aristocrat who harbors a few closely guarded secrets of his own. Both hold the answers to her past. One is the key to her future. And both will aim to win her heart. As danger descends upon Iverson, Lora must harness the powers she’s only just begun to understand, or else lose everything she dearly loves.

Filled with lush atmosphere, thrilling romance, and ancient magic, The Sweetest Dark brilliantly captures a rich historical era while unfolding an enchanting love story that defies time.


The Sweetest Dark is rich in imagery and fantasy, and Shana Abe succeeds brilliantly in turning creatures of nightmare into something beautiful and seductive.

The story follows Lora, an orphan with no memory of her past, as she finds herself being given an exclusive scholarship to boarding school for the rich.  Lora is different from the other girls in so many ways—she is poor, she is an orphan, and she hears music and voices inside her head.  When she arrives at the boarding school, she immediately gains the attention of two very opposite guys—Jesse, the groundskeeper, and Armand, the wealthy aristocrat; but their attentions are not entirely truthful.  They each hold the key to a part of her past, but who holds the key to her future?

Although I found this story slow at times, I will say that Shana Abe has a way with words.  There are times when the words seem to float off the page the perfect picture—complete with background music!  I saw her world develop around me, and I desperately wanted to be a part of it.  However, there were times when her words got in the way of the story.  I love imagery, but there is a point where there is too much description, and at several times throughout the novel, I found myself skipping over whole paragraphs.

You can tell that this is a set-up novel because there was very little plot development until the last 20% of the book, and at that point, it spend up incredibly when I wanted it to slow down.  Shana has created a fantastical world with creatures straight from mythology—creatures that you don’t see in many other books.  I loved that her world was new and interesting, but I wanted there to be more action that could guide us into the next books.  I felt like the story ended too abruptly, and instead of that satisfied I-can’t-wait-for-the-next-book feeling, I was left with a  that’s-it feeling.  Don’t get me wrong—I am definitely in for the next installment, but I wish I could see a direction for the story to take.

From reading the blurb, I thought this book was going to be full to the brim with romance—I love books that have steamy romance!  However, for all the nakedness in the book (yes, I said nakedness), there is surprisingly little descriptive romance.  You a kiss here and a kiss there, or an embrace here and embrace there, but there was very little detail describing those interactions.  I wanted scenes where I was jealous of Lora—where I wished I could pluck her out of the book and put myself in her place, but those scenes never showed up; and there were tons of opportunities where these scenes could have been added or developed.  I hope in the next installment we see more romance and passion.

Now just because there wasn’t as much romance as I would have liked, doesn’t mean the guys did not take my breath away.  I loved the guys!  Jesse is the groundskeeper who immediately recognizes Lora for who she really is, and I must say, his directness about his feelings and intentions was pretty steamy!  (If only we could have seen more).  And then there’s Armand—I’ll admit, I’m Team Armand—he’s broody, dark, arrogant, and definitely has a way with the cut-downs.  One many occasions Armand had me smiling and yelling, “Kiss him, Lora!”  I won’t tell you how the love triangle turns out, but I will say I didn’t see it coming.

So…my final conclusions:

This is a debut young adult novel, and it does have its flaws.  Sadly, I do think the lack of romance and action will make some not want to read the next novel, but I will remain optimistic that we will see more desire in the next.  It is an intriguing world, and if you’re looking for a new type of fantasy creature (no angels, demons, werewolves, or vampires here!), then you should give this book a try.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield


Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield
eARC received from Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date:  5-7-2013
Reveiwed by:  Middle Sis Jenn
The Sisters Say:  Amazing new idea, but needs more world building
Lucy’s Chantress magic will make her the most powerful—and most hunted—girl in England.

“Sing, and the darkness will find you.” This warning has haunted fifteen-year-old Lucy ever since she was eight and shipwrecked on a lonely island. Lucy’s guardian, Norrie, has lots of rules, but the most important is that Lucy must never sing. Not ever. Now it is 1667, Lucy is fifteen, and on All Hallows’ Eve, Lucy hears a tantalizing melody on the wind. She can’t help but sing—and she is swept into darkness.

When she awakes in England, Lucy hears powerful men discussing Chantresses—women who can sing magic into the world. They are hunting her, but she escapes and finds sanctuary with the Invisible College, an organization plotting to overthrow the nefarious Lord Protector. The only person powerful enough to bring about his downfall is a Chantress. And Lucy is the last one in England.

Lucy struggles to master the song-spells and harness her power, but the Lord Protector is moving quickly. And her feelings for Nat, an Invisible College apprentice and scientist who deeply distrusts her magic, only add to her confusion…

Time is running out, and the fate of England hangs in the balance in this entrancing novel that is atmospheric and lyrical, dangerous and romantic
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I was so happy to be approved to read an early copy of Chantress!  I’m always looking for something new in the ya paranormal genre, and women who wield magic through song is definitely something different.  I’m a music lover—I love how a melody or a chorus can take hold of your heart and embed itself into your world.  I love how it can flow around you melding your moods and your desires, and mostly, I love how it is music that can so thoroughly describe the nature of man.  So, it only seems fitting that music could contain hidden power.  I loved how Amy Butler Greenfield gave everything a song in her world, and how those songs could be used to wield unimaginable power.

This story starts off with a bang when Lucy unknowingly sings herself across the seas to London.  She is immediately thrust into a dangerous and duplicitous world where everyone and everything can betray you.  The intensity of Amy’s story held me tight, and I could feel the treachery flying on the wind.  But it wasn’t just the tension and danger that made Amy’s world unique and beautiful; I loved that it was set in the late 1600s when the fear or witchcraft was already rampant.  It felt fitting that this story was set so long ago instead of in modern times, and it really added to the fear that controlled the people in London in Amy’s world.  I just wish there would have been more focus on the world building, as we truthfully didn’t get to see much of it.

For the most part the action was well placed, although somewhere in the middle the action did start to lull.  When Lucy starts to practice the magic of a Chantress, she is locked up underground for months, and it was here that I began to want the plotline to move along.  I felt like we saw too many of the basic lessons, when just a few paragraphs about her struggle would have sufficed.  I wanted to see more happen outside, and we didn’t see any of this because the story is written in Lucy’s pov.  I wish there would have been dual perspectives or something done so we could see through another’s eyes out into the word that is ravaged by the dangerous Shadowgrims (magical ravens who can read minds and destroy you from the inside out).

I like Nat, the scientist who eventually becomes Lucy’s relationship interest (although nothing really happens at all).  However, he didn’t really blow me away, but again, if we could have seen his perspective, I think I might have been more drawn to him.  He holds horrible secrets about his past, and seeing glimpses into this would have informed his character more, and would have added to the desperate tone of the book.

I wish we could have seen more of the evil characters, too.  I felt like most of the story, the evil and dangers were just described, not experienced.  I wanted more close calls and out of breath moments as a result of living on the edge of danger.  Unfortunately, these only came at the beginning and at the end.  This might have added to the lulls in action I was frustrated with in the middle.  The evil characters had such potential, and I just wish they would have been explored more.

Overall, Chantress was a great read, and I am definitely looking forward to reading the next one.  I loved the musical aspect that the power was centered around, and I love that everything in the world has its own unique song, and it is just floating on the wind, waiting to be discovered.  I’m excited to see what new magic awaits Lucy in the future.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Frozen by Melissa De La Cruz

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. It spotlights books that have not yet been released, but ones that you should pre-order today! This week's book that we are anxiously awaiting is FROZEN by Melissa de la Cruz.   FROZEN releases on September 17, 2013 from Putnam Juvenile.

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Set in 111 C.D., one hundred and eleven years after a Catastrophic Disaster has wiped out 99% of humanity and left the earth covered in ice, this new series introduces readers to a ragtag group of friends and the dawning of a new time. The world of reason, of mathematics and science, is ending, and a new civilization is being born from the ice: a world of magic and mayhem, sorcerers and spellcraft.

FROZEN is the first in a trilogy and is set to release in September of 2013.
 
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A world of magic-SOLD!!!  That's all I needed to hear to want to read this one!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: If I Should Die by Amy Plum

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading!
To participate all you have to do is:

•Grab your current read
•Open to a random page
•Share "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
•BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure what you share doesn't give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others!)

 
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If I Should Die by Amy Plum
Published by Harper Teen
Release Date:  5-7-2013


"He was like the ghost lover in one of those tragic Victorian stories.  But unlike the swooning, fainting heroines of those tales, I felt empowered by my resolve that tragedy would not be our fate."  ARC, pg 98

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I hate endings because that means it's over.  No more Vincent, no more Jules, no more Kate.  I'm going to miss them so much!!!  I'm just 100 pages in, but I hope this one doesn't break my heart!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sweet Peril Blog Tour: Review and Deleted Scene!!!!!! OH, and Plus a GIVEAWAY!


Today is the kick off for the Sweet Peril Blog Tour!!!!  We love Wendy Higgins so much for this amazing book, and of course, the amazingly sexy Kaidan.  So many great things to share with you today! 

First off, we have a Deleted Scene to share!  Whoop Whoop!
Then, it's Review time!  (Squeal)
And Finally, Giveaway Time!  You definitely do not want to miss out on this amazing giveaway!

This post is long, but it's well worth it!

Shout out to Rockstar Book Tours for hosting this great tour and to the lovely Wendy Higgins for creating some amazing posts for the next two weeks!

Here's the rest of the Tour Stops:

Week One 

Apr. 22nd - YA Sisterhood - Guest Post

Apr. 23rd - Tater's Tall Tails - Kaiden Interview

Apr. 24th - Supernatural Snark - Review + Excerpts

Apr. 25th - Books with Bite - Anna Interview

Apr. 26th - Tales of a Ravenous Reader - Guest Post
 

Week Two

Apr. 29th - Bewitched Bookworms - Guest Post

Apr. 30th - Two Chicks on Books - Guest Post

Apr. 30th - Curling Up with a Good Book - Review

May 1st - Magical Urban Fantasy Reads - Guest Post

May 2nd - The Book Cellar - Guest Post

May 3rd - Fiktshun - Guest Post


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Okay, so are you ready for the deleted scene????  Yay!  Here's a few words from Wendy first.
 
My Writing Process and Cutting Scenes
 
            I tend to be an “overwriter.” I write WAY more than I need to when I first draft, and then I end up cutting scenes and even whole chapters. It’s a crazy mess. Every now and then there are scenes that hurt to cut, and this is one of them. When I decided Anna would be traveling to the Damascus, Syria in the Middle East with Kopano in Sweet Peril, I did a ton of research. Tons. I love writing about different cultures, but my biggest fear is getting something wrong and accidentally offending someone. During my studies of Damascus I came across many blogs of travelers who shared heartwarming stories of people they’d met. It was those true stories that inspired this scene. Anna is trying to fit in by wearing a hijjab covering on her head as she goes in search of a fellow Nephilim girl, Zania. This particular scene was too light, and it took away from the tension of the chapter, so it had to go. But it makes me happy. I hope you enjoy. :-)
 
DELETED SCENE FROM SWEET PERIL BY WENDY HIGGINS
 
I set out through the side road that our hotel was on, heading for a busier street that I’d need to pass through to get to Zania’s area. The main streets were roughly paved, but worn and crumbling in places, which added to the old-world appeal for me. I couldn’t keep a smile from my lips as I made my way into the Souk, a bustling open-air market. Children ran rampant, laughing and hollering.
            I planned to keep my head down, but I found myself hit with exotic, mouth-watering scents and brilliant sights begging to be seen. Shopkeepers called out in exuberant voices and used grand hand gestures, laughing or looking serious as they haggled prices. Unlike many crowded cities, the auras in this Souk were pleasant and content.
            I hadn’t eaten yet. There was a stand up ahead with a sign for hummus. An older woman dressed in an ornately embroidered flowing dress and hijjab was working it, and as I approached her, I suddenly felt shy. I only knew a small spattering of Arabic that I’d learned in the past week. I ordered hummus and flatbread in my broken Arabic while she brazenly looked me over. She said something to me in Arabic and gestured to my headscarf as a puff of orange excitement filled her aura.
            “Do I have it wrong?” I asked in English. She elatedly said something else, then called over her shoulder into the room behind her. A preteen girl came out, and other women peeked their dark heads through the door. None of the younger ones wore head coverings.
            “Ah,” said the young girl, smiling. “Yellow hair, she says. You are blonde, no? Like in Hollywood?”
            “Oh!” I felt somewhat relieved, pushing the hijjab forward a little more, since it must have slipped back to show my hair. “Yes, I have blonde hair, but I’m not from Hollywood.”
            The girl continued to smile, relaying the conversation to the older woman, who turned to me and clapped her hands, beaming to reveal a missing tooth on bottom.
            “Come, come!” She grabbed my arm.
            “She would like you to have tea,” explained the girl.
            “Oh, thank you.” I was flattered by the invite. I shot a quick look over my shoulder at Kope as the woman pulled me past the food cart and racks of throw rugs. He gave a shrug and grinned.
            The room was small and simple. The older woman spoke to the girls, waving her arms as she gave them orders. I stayed still when she turned to me and took the liberty of removing my headscarf and examining my hair, running her fingers through it with appreciative noises.
            “Very beautiful,” she said, emphasizing each syllable with a slight roll of her tongue.
             The room filled with more females, each commenting on my hair and sometimes feeling it.  Someone brought me a plate of soft, warm flatbread and spiced hummus. It was honest-to-goodness one of the best things I’d ever tasted. They laughed when I closed my eyes and said, “Mmm.” The preteen set a tray of tiny glasses on the table, each filled with steaming tea. She handed me one and I took it, nodding and giving my thanks. It was hot and sweet with a sprig of mint.
            A group of children rushed in, crowding around me and bringing a sea of noise and yellow auras.
            “You have sweets?” asked a boy missing his two front teeth. His mother mussed the top of his floppy, black hair and berated him.
            “It’s okay.” I laughed, swinging my book bag down and pulling out a handful of snack-sized M&Ms and Skittles. “May I?” I asked his mother. She nodded. The entire room was lit up with orange and yellow aura swirls.
            Little hands eagerly grabbed the offered candies before the older woman shooed them all out.
            After a humorous conversation in broken English, the oldest woman rewrapped my hijjab super tight. I regrettably wished them all good-bye, thanking them for the food and tea, and receiving very loud kisses on both of my cheeks. I couldn’t wait to tell Patti about the hospitality of the Syrian women.
            Once I’d made sure Kope was behind me, I started down the street again, staring ahead at the distant views of dry mountains. 
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Sweet Peril by Wendy Higgins
ARC received from HarperTeen
Release Date:  4-30-2013
Reviewed by:  Middle Sis Jenn
The Sisters Say:  There Are No Words…Nope, None.  It’s that dang good!
Have you ever been asked if you could switch places with any literary character, who would it be?  I’m sure we all have (or we’ve at least wanted to) at some point in our lives.  Now, normally, I would try to be all classy and say someone like Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice or Juliet from Romeo and Juliet (except for the whole suicide thing) or some other girl from some other great epic romance.  But you know what Elizabeth and Juliet?  Meet my foot as I kick you both to the curb so that I can switch places with Anna.  Because, Mr. Darcy and Romeo—they don’t hold a star compared to Kaidan Rowe.
Big build up, huh?  I just needed you to understand the epicness of this star-crossed romance.   And one more thing:
WENDY                   KNOWS                    ROMANCE.
SERIOUS.                JAW-DROPPING            ROMANCE.
I don’t know how she does it, but she just knows exactly how to write a guy that will sweep you off your feet, no matter what kind of guy you normally go for.  So, if you’re a romance fan (or a Kaidan fan), then be prepared for every look, every word, and every sound coming from Kaidan to drill its way permanently into your memory (and womb). 
I love that Wendy is a bit more daring in her romance, too.  The romance is much more steamy than in your regular YA book, and I love that she chooses to dance around the boundaries previously set.  I mean, just as much happens in Sweet Peril as does in many other YA books, but Wendy just knows how to stage it where it’s revealing enough to drive you insane with swooniness, but not so much to send those who prefer there to only be “fade to black” scenes to start throwing temper tantrums.  Trust me, you are definitely going to want to re-read the swoony scenes.
When I first read this blurb, I was a little worried about most of the book just following Anna and Kopano, fearing we would see very little of the other characters I love so much.  But, that doesn’t happen at all.  We still get to see Patti, Kaidan, Blake, Ginger, and the other nephs; and you get a little more background into their lives and hopes with each scene they are in.  However,  much of the book is focused on the relationship between Anna and Kopano.  I actually really enjoyed these scenes because I really got to see another side of Kopano.  And I love him so hard!  He’s so torn and Wendy brings his struggle alive throughout their trips around the world.  If you weren’t a fan of Kopano before, you definitely will be after reading this.
We see an entirely new side to Anna in this installment, too.  She is being forced to work in order to stay safe, and you can see how those actions are starting to chip away at her strength and confidence.  But she still manages to stay strong in the face of temptation.  But she’s not this uber-strong angelic being.  She is quite literally like the cartoon character who has the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other.  She is constantly fighting her need for drugs on one side and her need to physically be with Kaidan on the other.   Her struggle shows her weaknesses, and it makes her all the more believable.
One of the best things about Sweet Peril is it doesn’t fall into that sequel slump that we see so often.  The action was fast-paced, and I never found myself bored.  I did struggle at times because I wanted more Kaidan (but that’s just me being selfish).  But other than that, I flew through this one, not being able to flip the pages fast enough.  Wendy’s angel/demon world-building is beautiful, and her world and characters will leap off the page straight into your heart of hearts.  Plus, I love that she manages to end it without killing us.  It’s an ending that still makes you want to jump in a time machine to find out what happens next, but it’s not an ending that makes you want to research medieval torture devices to show the author just how much pain you’re actually in.
Sweet Peril is brilliant and beautiful.  Wendy manages to highlight both the light and the dark sides of human nature, along with that grey middle ground where love and hate, truth and deceit, right and wrong, and heaven and hell collide. I, for one, would gladly dive head first into her broken and crumbling world.
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And GIVEAWAY TIME!!!!
All giveaways are US Only, and only one entry per household.
Must be 13 or older to enter.
Books will be sent directly from the publisher, while all other prizes will be sent separately.
The Rafflecopter is shared through all tour stops.
 
The prizes:
1 Grand Prize Giveaway - engraved “Kaidan Rowe Sweet Peril” drumsticks, fruity scented lip balms, a paperback copy of SWEET PERIL and a signed SWEET PERIL bookplate 
5 Winners for - a paperback copy of SWEET PERIL and a signed SWEET PERIL bookplate.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Will be back tomorrow!

Hey everyone!

This week has been tough! I'm been in bed with the flu all week. It had been so long since I've been sick that I forgot how miserable it feels! But I am all better now, so posts will resume tomorrow!

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar


The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar
ARC received from Penguin via LibraryThing
Release Date:  3-21-2013
Reviewed by:  Middle Sis Jenn
The Sisters Say:  Sweet love story but missing the Wow factor
He can grant her wishes, but only she can save his life.

Margo McKenna has a plan for just about everything, from landing the lead in her high school play to getting into a good college. So when she finds herself in possession of a genie's ring and the chance to make three wishes, she doesn't know what to do. Why should she put her life into someone else's hands?

But Oliver is more than just a genie -- he's also a sophomore at Margo's high school, and he's on the run from a murderer. As he and Margo grow closer, she discovers that it will take more than three wishes to save him.

A whole lot more.

Thank you Penguin and LibraryThing for this ARC!

When I first read the blurb for this book, I was really excited because…genies!  I’m always a sucker for a new paranormal type of character because the YA genre is overrun with the same old, same old vampires, werewolves, and demon hunters.  So, when I saw that this book was all about genies (and a cute one at that), I jumped at the chance to review it.  After reading it, I’m kind of in limbo because it was cute and a quick read, but it was lacking that spice that makes a book glow.

The Art of Wishing has a contemporary feel to it with a little paranormal twist.  I liked the contemporary aspect of it because it was light-hearted and fun, and it’s nice to be able to read something that is simple—something that is different from what I normally read.  I really enjoyed the genie aspect, too.  Oliver was full of fun facts, but I wish there would have been more depth to the genie mythology.  The book ended like there is going to be a sequel, though, so maybe it will come in the next one.

I enjoyed Margo and Oliver, even though I wasn’t blown away by either of them.  They were fun together, and they seemed to mesh well.  However, I had a difficult time believing their ages.  Margo was supposed to be 18, but I felt like she was closer to 15.  I mean, at one point, she calls Oliver her boyfriend, and they do this geeky, “Did you just call me your boyfriend?” type scene that was straight out of a teeny bopper movie.  They were both old enough to act mature and more socially aware, but their actions and dialogue at points just seemed childish.

I kind of felt like the romance was bland, too.  I have a hard time with romances where the “I love you’s” come out of nowhere and they don’t match their actions.  I wanted to feel Margo and Oliver’s love, not just hear about it.  I needed to believe it, and while it got better near the end, I still didn’t feel like it was real.  I think that has a lot to do with the immature dialogue between the two, though.

My favorite part of this story was the music aspect.  Margo is an extremely talented singer, and I loved when she was at play rehearsal.  The descriptions of her songs and how she became the character were great, and I could really see Margo shine on the stage.  I also loved when she was in her element writing her own music.  You could see the real Margo so much better at these times, and I really felt her love and passion for music in these scenes.  Had this same passion come across in her feelings for Oliver, then I would have been sold on the romance in this book.

Overall, this was a cute read, and I’m glad to have read it.  It was a nice break from the angsty ya romance novels I tend to gravitate towards, but at the same time, it kind of made me miss those books.   I think many people will enjoy the carefree tone and the innocent romance, even if I didn’t really jump for it.   

 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Not So YA Friday: The Dark Heroine: Dinner With a Vampire by Abigail Gibbs


 
The following review is recommended for Ages 17 and older.
 
The Dark Heroine (Dinner with a Vampire) by Abigail Gibbs
Received from Harper Collins via LibraryThing
Release Date:  On Shelves Now
Reviewed by:  Middle Sis Jenn
The Sisters Say:  Macabre and Interesting; But Too Long
The sexiest romance you’ll read this year…

One moment can change your life forever...

For Violet Lee, a chance encounter on a darkened street draws her into a world beyond her wildest imaginings, a timeless place of vast elegance and immeasurable wealth – of beautiful mansions and lavish parties – where a decadent group of friends live for pleasure alone. A place from which there is no escape...no matter how hard Violet tries.

Yet all the riches in the world can’t mask the darkness that lies beneath the gilded surface, embodied in the charismatic but dangerous Kaspar Varn.

Violet and Kaspar surrender to a passion that transcends their separate worlds – but it’s a passion that comes at a price...

When I won this book from Harper and LibraryThing, I had not heard anything about it, which is great, because I didn’t realize the controversy surrounding it.  Supposedly this was Twilight fanfiction before it made a deal, although, after reading the story, I never would have guessed it.  The vampires in this story are gruesome and conniving.  Many of them take pleasure in killing, and even more so, they take pleasure in punishment.  One of the other controversies circling this book was that it was the vampire equivalent of Fifty Shades.  Now, I have not read FS and never plan to, but I can say without a doubt (even having not read it), that this book is not even close to the FS.  There is one sex scene that doesn’t even closely rival some of the ones I have read in recent NA and adult literature.  So, after debunking both of those rumors, I will not jump into my actual review.

When I first started reading this one, I was intrigued and actually enjoying it.  I liked that the vampires were not all swoony.  They were dark and grotesque (not in looks but in actions), and the true nature of a vampire was apparent in them.  They weren’t romanticized at all—even with their powers of seduction.  This was great because in order to start to like the vampires, you had to get to know them—to see past the bloodlust.  I will admit, this was hard to do for me because no matter how hot or sexy or charismatic a vampire might be, I still have a hard time getting past the whole ripping out throats thing.  Eventually, I was able to get past this and see Kaspar and the other vampires as more than just evil, killing machines.  Now, will they ever make my top 20 of swoony male characters?  Absolutely not.  Just too much gore for that.

Once I hit the middle of the book, though, things started to drag.  I felt like there was just too much detail, and not details like the color of the trees, or the way the stones were stacked on the mansion.  There was just too much of Violet sitting around pondering her existence and current circumstances.  I got bored with her, and I wanted the book to hurry along.  I believe Abigail could have cut a good 100 pages from the book, making it flow much quicker and making it a little less daunting (at the current 550 pages).

Near the end of the book, things got interesting again.  The prophecy started to make more sense, and betrayers and alliances were drawn out into the open.  Once this happened, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.  Things happened quickly near the end.  We got to see more of the vampires traditions and customs, and we were introduced to creatures and people from the other realms (that the 2nd book will focus on).  This gave a much needed depth to the novel, and made it feel like there were more secrets and twists to be revealed in the future.

I’m kind of wishy washy on whether or not I like Violet.  I like that she’s got a smart mouth, yet knows when it’s safer to stay quiet, but I didn’t understand her feelings for Kaspar.  He’s more than just a cocky jerk, he is truly violent, and on more than one occasion, he physically harms her.  But she just seems to look past that and still fall head over heels for him.  And with Kaspar, it seems like he hates her, and that his feelings are all lust right up until the end when he bursts out with his feelings.  I just didn’t believe either of them, and their relationship will definitely need to be explored more in the next book.

So, overall, this was an interesting read.  From the reviews, this seems like a love it or hate it for most people, but for me, it’s just okay.  I wasn’t blown away by it, but I still enjoyed the quicker paced parts.  I do plan to read the sequel, though, just because I want to find out more about the dark heroines and the other realms.

Content Warning:  This is a very gory book, so be prepared for bloodshed.  There is one sex scene that is somewhat explicit, although not nearly as explicit as many of the NA books out there.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Blog Tour and GIVEAWAY!: Apollyon by Jennifer L. Armentrout


Hey everyone!  We are SO excited to be hosting the blog tour for Apollyon by Jennifer L. Armentrout today.  JLA is one of our favorite authors, and she never fails to deliver an amazing read.  Apollyon is definitely one of those amazing reads.  If you have not started reading this series, then I implore you to go buy them all RIGHT NOW!  This series is one of my all-time favorites.  It has everything--Greek Gods, Kick Butt Heroine, TWO super steamy guys, and an all-out, action-packed plot.

Want to check out the rest of the tour?  Click here

AND ALSO!  Be sure to enter the giveaway after my review!  It's being hosted by Spencer Hill Press and it's international!  The prize includes a signed copy of Apollyon, signed copy of Elixir, an Apollyon t-shirt and swag!!!

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Apollyon by Jennifer L. Armentrout
ARC received from Spencer Hill Press
Release Date:  4-9-2013
Reviewed by:  Middle Sis Jenn
The Sisters Say:  Ominous, Overwhelming, and Outright Awesome!
Alex.  Aiden.  Seth.  Their past is keeping them together; their present is holding them hostage; and their future is hanging precariously in the balance.  Oh my gods, Apollyon is the akasha of Covenant novels. 
Darkness and danger have blanketed  Alex and Aiden’s world—a darkness that pulls at Alex from the inside out, and a danger that not even the gods saw coming.  As the shadows descend, everyone will have to make a choice—a choice to stand and fight or turn and run.  Allegiances will be frayed, powers will be harnessed, and love will be tested.
So we have come to that point in this series…you know the one.  The point where you’re scared to read how it all ends because you just don’t see how it can have a happy ending.  So I have this weight on my heart because this is truly one of my favorite series.  I feel like I know Aiden and Alex and Apollo and Marcus and everyone else on a personal level, and it pains me to know what darkness is coming in the fifth and final book.  But, I like that Jennifer has been able to make such an impression with this series.  I felt this way with Harry Potter, too, because I just knew the death toll was going to be high and my heart was going to break.  After reading Apollyon, I have high hopes for Sentinel—and I know it will leave a lasting impression.
Apollyon is much, much darker than the first three books.  I mean, if you’ve read Elixir, then you know the anger and the madness that plagues Alex.  SLIGHT SPOILER:  It’s brutal watching her lose herself and slowly wither away, but fear not!  For Fate has another plan, and she won’t succumb to the madness for long. END SLIGHT SPOILER  I liked the darkness in this book because it was truthful.  The world is at war, and in war, there are casualties.  I really dislike books where there is some type of war and everyone survives (Twilight, cough, cough), and so I was happy that Jennifer didn’t shy away from death.  Her sight was truthful, and though heart-breaking, it added to the tension and danger that was ever-present.
I’ve always liked Alex in the past books because she was such a smart mouth.  Her comebacks and witty jokes always had me cracking a smile, and I love that she can crack the Buffy-esque jokes when she is in danger.  It just gives her this spice that I think adds to the whole Apollyon bit.  Now, there were times when she annoyed me in this book because she got overshadowed by thinking everything was about her.  She was a bit selfish in her thinking that everyone was fighting to save her, not the millions of other lives at stake.  So for the first time in this series, I was actually bothered a bit by her, but still her strengths definitely outweighed the selfishness, and I still enjoy her more than most heroines.
And of course you want to know about Aiden, right?  Gosh, he is just the best!  He is my absolute favorite book boyfriend—strong and confident, jealous at just the right times, sexy as hell and not afraid to act on his feelings, and genuinely over-protective to a fault.  He’s perfect.  We get to see all these best parts of Aiden in this one, and lots of steamy scenes that will have you blushing and envious!  Hey Jennifer---I’m dying for some Aiden POV scenes…pretty, pretty please!  For Seth fans out there…unfortunately there isn’t much of him in this one.  That didn’t bother me, though, because I have an insane urge to kick him really hard where it really hurts.
What surprised me in this book was that my favorite part was APOLLO!  I don’t know how many times I laughed out loud at Apollo’s actions or words.  For example, at one point he calls Hermes a “punk ass bitch.”  I could just see the gods getting in petty fights where they call each other names and then get angry and start hurling balls of fire and what not—all because someone was acting like a little b***.  Plus, he always shows up at the most awkward of moments, and that just cracks me up even more.  It’s like he’s chilling out in Invisible Land and then right when he sees the most intimate or embarrassing of moments—Poof!  Hello Apollo.  Be prepared to laugh your butt off at this god!
Jennifer L. Armentrout is amazing.  Her words glide effortlessly from page to page, and you will feel as if you are catapulted right into the middle of the raging war.  Alex, Aiden, and Seth are about to find themselves in a stand-off.  There will be no more sitting around waiting to die or waiting to live.  The wait is over.  The end is here.  Worlds are about to collide.
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I guess you want your letter, huh?  Well, here goes:

 
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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. It spotlights books that have not yet been released, but ones that you should pre-order today! This week's book that we are anxiously awaiting is BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA by April Genevieve Tucholke.   BETWEEN TEH DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA releases on April 15, 2013 from Dial Books.

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You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town…until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery...who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

Blending faded decadence and the thrilling dread of gothic horror, April Genevieve Tucholke weaves a dreamy, twisting contemporary romance, as gorgeously told as it is terrifying—a debut to watch.
 
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Ah!  This is one of my most anticipated books of 2013, and I've heard its the most requested book from Penguin.  And there's a reason for that--it's gothic horror!  I just love the idea of Violet falling for the devil.  It sounds eerie and romantic, all rolled up with something sinister that could possibly give me nightmares!  I am dying to get my hands on this one.