Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (18)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week, I am waiting on Icons by Margaret Stohl (5/7/13):

Description on GoodReads:
Your heart beats only with their permission.

Everything changed on The Day. The day the windows shattered. The day the power stopped. The day Dol's family dropped dead. The day Earth lost a war it didn't know it was fighting.

Since then, Dol has lived a simple life in the countryside -- safe from the shadow of the Icon and its terrifying power. Hiding from the one truth she can't avoid.

She's different. She survived. Why?

When Dol and her best friend, Ro, are captured and taken to the Embassy, off the coast of the sprawling metropolis once known as the City of Angels, they find only more questions. While Ro and fellow hostage Tima rage against their captors, Dol finds herself drawn to Lucas, the Ambassador's privileged son. But the four teens are more alike than they might think, and the timing of their meeting isn't a coincidence. It's a conspiracy.

Within the Icon's reach, Dol, Ro, Tima, and Lucas discover that their uncontrollable emotions -- which they've always thought to be their greatest weaknesses -- may actually be their greatest strengths.

Bestselling author Margaret Stohl delivers the first book in a heart-pounding series set in a haunting new world where four teens must piece together the mysteries of their pasts -- in order to save the future.
So, I have to admit that I am behind in the Beautiful Creatures books, but I really, really enjoy them! I have also met this author at couple of different book conferences and she just has such a fun, take charge attitude! Seriously, she’s awesome. And I’m looking forward to reading what she writes on her own (because her other books are co-written with Kami Garcia). The description sounds so good! I’m hooked, and I only know the description. Mix a good end of the world story with teen/kid power and what’s not to love. What are you waiting on this week? Oh, and happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Whispers at Moonrise by C.C. Hunter

So, I am beyond hooked on this series. I’ve been a little disappointed with the last couple of books in the series though because I keep feeling like not much happens. All the answers just keep being pushed further and further out of reach. And I keep telling myself I’m going to stop reading these books unless I get some answers. I somehow always manage to forget that I tell myself this because I keep buying them and I keep reading these books front to cover in one sitting.
And I am so glad I kept forgetting to stop reading these books because finally, there are some answers!!!! (Technically, there was the start of an answer at the end of the last one).
Besides the constant need of some resolution somewhere, these books have always managed to be fun. There’s always a ghost that needs help, there’s always drama with all of the supernatural teens living together in one camp, there’s usually a threat to the camp itself, plenty of action, and a fantastic love triangle to boot. So, I guess I can tell why I keep with them…
This one doesn’t disappoint with all of these usual good things. However, the ghost that keeps popping up is Holiday’s and the camp leader is still alive. There’s a lot of information about Holiday’s past in this one (though there’s still one big mystery there), and of course there’s a building relationship between Holiday and a certain vampire! I was really excited about this part.
But besides seeing the ghost of the person she trusts most in the world, Kylie is now also aware (kind of) of what she is. She meets up with her relatives in the woods even though she’s not supposed to go off to the woods on her own because there is still an evil vampire who wants her. Part of being what she is (which is mentioned on page 1), involves being able to switch brain patterns from one supernatural creature to the next. Her friends think she’s a vampire, and then they think she’s a witch, and then they think she’s a fairy, etc.
And just because she isn’t 100% werewolf stuff is super complicated with her boyfriend, Lucas. Lucas is sinking further and further into wolf politics. He wants to make his way to the top of the wolf food chain, because once he becomes a leader, he thinks he can change things for the better. However, part of making his way up the respectable wolf ladder involves playing down his and Kylie’s relationship. And meanwhile, Derek, the other boy who loves her, has actually announced his love for Kylie and is just waiting for her to get over her not so present boyfriend.
But, as the book goes on, it does become more and more clear that Kylie loves Lucas more. While figuring out the murders of several young women, learning about Holiday’s past, and dealing with her rare supernatural abilities, Kylie has a lot to work on in the love department, too. This book is loaded with love triangle goodness. And I love that Kylie is beginning to learn how to work with what she gets.
The side characters in these books are always so good! I love the boys. I love the family messes. I love that there is a lot of normal life stuff that happens between all the supernatural life stuff. For instance, the scene where Kylie’s mother comes to visit with her new boyfriend is just priceless! I was laughing out loud. I also love how much Kylie always puts others before herself, and genuinely wants to help people.
What I’m getting a little tired of is: Kylie’s complaints. Yeah, she has a lot going on and yeah, there are some things that stink, but still…She has more powers than anyone! She has so much to learn and experiment with and never ever seems wanting to learn and grow…I want less complaining and more power-growing! What can’t this girl do? Seriously, I don’t know. I wish she was just a little bit excited about her abilities and a little less whiny.
Overall, I was still thoroughly addicted to this book. I’m attached to all the characters. And I am so glad there were some more answers given. I look forward to the next book in the series! This one ends with the biggest cliffhanger ever! And Kylie is so not in a good place mentally, so come on and hurry up, book 5! I give this one an 8/10.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Good Week in Books (28)

My book week was insane! Seriously, this is my best book haul probably since ALA. I purchased one book I’ve been waiting on (that just came out Tuesday). I got 10 birthday books on my birthday book adventure (courtesy of my family)!!! Seriously, best birthday present ever! I received 3 finished books for review in the mail. And I got a gigantic haul from Net Galley that is full of goodies I’ve been anxious to read.
I purchased this beautiful book on Tuesday (date it came out…), and I’m so excited to start it soon:
The Evolution of Mara Dyer
by Michelle Hodkin
My birthday books (Thank you, family!), with the book above:

by Terry Pratchett (signed!)
Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr (I own an audio version, but I need to own hard copies of all of her things, I just do)
Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough
Mystic City by Theo Lawrence (shiniest cover ever!)
Dearly Beloved by Lia Habel (!!!)
A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper (Read and borrowed this one from the library a long time ago, and am now only realizing it’s the first in a series!)
The Fitzosbornes in Exile by Michelle Cooper (book 2)
Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally (Been wanting this for forever!)
Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver (This author pretty much just completes me)
For Review (Thank you, HarperCollins!):

Dark Star by Bethany Frenette (So, so pretty!)
Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America (This gorgeous book is going to be donated to a place I know could really use it!)
The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima
 From Net Galley (Thank you, Penguin Young Readers!):

Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff (1/8/13)
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (2/12/13)
Tiger by William Richter (3/21/13)
Slated by Teri Terry (1/24/13)
Obsidian Mirror by Catherine Fisher (4/23/13)
The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar (3/21/13)
The Different Girl by Gordon Dahlquist (2/21/13)
I have so many amazing books to read, I’m at a loss for words. Seriously, I feel so lucky after this week! How was your week in books?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Rebel Heart by Moira Young

I’m not going to lie; when I got this ARC I pretty much jumped up and down, screeching with joy. I love, love, loved Blood Red Road. It was one of my favorite books of 2011. Saba is one of my all time favorite YA main characters. This book comes out next week too, so you don’t have long to wait.
This first book took me a little while to get into because of its Western slang and dialogue. I was an English major, and of course I was dying to take a red pen to pretty much all of the words that came out of Saba’s mouth and this made my enjoyment a little bit harder. However, the book became so amazing that eventually my red pen lay forgotten somewhere. And I knew going into this sequel that this might happen again. This time however, the language didn’t really bother me that much at all, even in the beginning. I guess I had become accustomed to it. However, the characters bothered me in the beginning…
The book starts not too long after the first one finished. Saba, Lugh, Emmi, and Tommo are making their way out west (on very little water). Jack had long gone to go find Molly and tell her that Ike, the man she loves, and Jack’s best friend, is dead. And they have a plan to eventually all meet up again out west. What’s my problem with the characters in the beginning? Well, Lugh is a jerk face. He is not the brother Saba kept remembering and striving to save in book 1. He’s bossy, stubborn, and he only has negative things to say about Jack. He and Saba are always arguing about who is in charge and he frankly just never sounds happy, grateful, or loving at all… He just keeps hurting Saba with his jerky attitude.
And then there’s Saba…In the beginning she was a lot like Katniss in Mockingjay, just plain destroyed and rather helpless. The more time she spends away from Jack, and trekking across baron, thirsty land, the more time she has to think about all that she has done this past year –all the people she has killed. And while Saba is not at her best, and I kept wanting to slap her in the face, Moira Young wrote some of the most beautiful lines in the passages about Saba’s shadows. She is shadowed by all the young people she killed in the cages. And as her crew travels further, Saba looses more and more of her mind to grief.
And she seriously looses her mind. She hallucinates, faints, sleepwalks, talks to ghosts who aren’t there, terrifies her travel companions, and just plan looses all of the strength she had in the first book.
Thankfully, this is only in the beginning. She eventually gets the help she needs from Auriel, a new friend, who’s protecting a lot of scared, damaged people. Auirel has a sweating lodge, where she works to get rid of all of Saba’s demons. I was never quite sure what was in Saba’s mind and what was actually happening. And, in the lodge she dreams about all her shadows and confronts them head-on. Too bad, her session with Auriel is interrupted. Saba is pulled out of everything too soon when Maev, leader of the Free Hawks comes to camp with some devastating news.
With the bad news comes secret messages, bar fights, explosives, rescues, and even a barn dance! There’s new friends, new enemies, and a long-lasting enemy from book 1. Saba has a lot to deal with again in a limited amount of time. There’s an insane award for anyone who catches her and brings her to the Tonton. She does not have time for dealing with her shadows, and before long she and her gang are smack in the middle of what appears to be a revolution. The only thing though is that with everything seeming to go the worst possible of wrong ways, does Saba really know what side she is on? The other side begins to look a lot more appealing all of a sudden, and Saba has a lot of stuff to figure out in this book.
This book is filled with all the tough stuff from book 1: hostile village takeovers, kidnappings, killings, battles, rape, mourning, and slavery. The action made it impossible to put down. There’s plot twists, epic betrayals, more loved ones being captured and dying, and so much fighting! However, what book 2 has that the first one didn’t, are all the roads leading to an eventual revolt!
I wish Jack was in this book more. In a way, I think it’s good he was barely there because Saba needed to come to a lot of things on her own. But still, I missed him. This bleak, filled with doom, story didn’t leave a ton of space for romance or happiness. All the same, there were bits and pieces of love thrown about. A lot of this book was about Saba, Lugh, and Emmi learning to not just survive (they’ve already learned this one), but how best to live with what they are given. This book had me crying, laughing, and even screaming at Saba at one point.
There’s one scene that I’m pretty sure will have all fans screaming at Saba. Seriously, I was so mad. However, I’m glad I kind of got to see what both sides of this cruel world/war are fighting for. And learning more about the Tonton was fascinating! Also, I’m so glad that the old Saba returned and I wasn’s stuck with Post Traumatic Stress Saba for the whole thing. Emmi became so much more loveable! I loved all the scenes with Maev and Auriel. The new characters were fantastic! Also, Molly is the best. Seriously, I love her to pieces. And the beginning, which was in Jack’s point of view, was so good and so different from Saba’s point of view.
The ending was insane! I need book 3 right now. Be prepared for a good ending, with a cliffhanger. This book was not as good as the first one if only because I got so mad at points (particularly in the beginning and toward the end). But, it still holds so much Western magic. Really, Young knows how to write amazing characters, fantastic dialogue, believable romantic relationships, and just one wonderful story! I give it a 9/10.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

So technically, this is a re-read for me. However, I first read this book about eight years ago…I re-read it for a book club that I’m hosting with kids at my library. And I sadly came to realize that I was mostly remembering facts from the movie and not enough of the facts of the book. So, I re-read it super fast and then of course remembered how awesome it was and now want to read all of the Rick Riordan books (again and for the first time). I’m like a series or two behind. This guy writes super fast. Really super fast.
Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll have the time to re-read this whole series for a while; however, it will happen. I’m contemplating dedicating one month of 2013 to re-reads, particularly for books I haven’t had the chance to review on the blog yet. Any way, if you haven’t read this before, know that this is book one in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. And this book was on the NY Times bestseller list for like a million weeks (I’m exaggerating, but really it was definitely more than 100 weeks). The audience is a little bit younger than what I would typically read, but I do love good middle grade books too.
By the time Percy is about to get kicked out of another boarding school, he’s kind of used to seeing things that he cannot explain. He gets used to getting into fights he cannot really explain either. And he rationalizes most of his problems as having to deal with the fact that he’s both dyslexic and ADHD. He has one best friend at his latest boarding school and he has a really amazing mom. He has an awful stepfather though who seems to always be drinking and always playing poker. Percy really does not understand how someone as nice as his mom continues to stay with someone as awful as his stepdad.
Percy begins to understand that all the weird stuff that happens around him has more to do with who his father is than it has to do with his learning disabilities. After a fight with a teacher on a field trip in NYC, Percy goes home to his mom. Together, they take a little vacation from the awful stepfather, but before Percy and his mom can really find any peace, the vacation is interrupted by Percy’s best friend, Grover, who explains that there are a lot of monsters after Percy.
Together, they all travel to Camp Half-Blood, where Percy should be safe from the monsters. But before they can even get there, they are all attacked by a minotaur, and no one knows what happens to Percy’s mom. At camp, Percy has to adjust to losing his mother, to being best friends with a satyr, to attending camp with demigods (the children of Greek gods), and to learning a lot about the world he never dreamed possible. At camp, it becomes clear that there are a lot of things Percy can’t do and because no one knows who his father is, he’s placed in Hermes’ cabin, the cabin of unknowns.
After a few incidents involving bullies though, it becomes clear that Percy’s father is Poseidon, who had actually made a vow with Zeus to not have any more children. And because Poseidon broke his vow, Zeus is blaming the theft of his missing lightning bolt on Percy. Apparently, god’s cannot steal from each other, but the children of gods can. And even though, everything is so new for Percy, he and his friends (Grover and Annabeth, the daughter of Athena) take on a dangerous mission.
They leave the protection of camp and travel cross-country to find the lightning bolt that they assume is with Hades in the Underworld. Their trip cross country is jam packed with battles, escapes from famous Greek legends like Medussa, epic fight scenes at historical landmarks like the arch in St. Louis and so much mythology like the trek to Mount Olympus, which is actually at the top of the Empire State Building in NYC. And Percy and his friends have a limited time to find the bolt before all out war erupts on Olympus.
The book is full of mythology, magic, flying shoes, action, and drama! It makes for one amazing start to a series. The characters are great! The camp is great. I loved how the cabins were divided up by gods. I loved how the kids all seemed real despite the fact that they weren’t. Despite the fact that they were training for battle at summer camp, they all still acted like kids (with bullies, selfishness, and strong friendships). I loved all the scenes outside of camp too, where Greek myth combined with an urban setting!
My favorite scene was probably when they went to the Underworld. It was such an interesting take on death. Oh, and when the kids get stuck in Vegas for a while, detouring their quest, I never once blamed them for their delay in their journey. It would have been so hard to leave a place with so many amazing free things!
It ended on a good note in regards to family situations and it opened up a lot of new possibilities with the gods too. Really, this is just such a fun, easy, and fast book to read! The only thing that still kind of gets to me (even after having it explained to me by avid fans at a book conference) is why Mount Olympus had to be in NYC. It’s explained as having to do with the western world. And I get that this book needed to stay national for Percy and his friends to believably do things in time, but still. Some international travel wouldn’t have been too bad in this book. And it still kind of confuses me how all the Greek gods would want to be anywhere but Greece.
Any way, I’m sure this book has some other flaws too, but I just have good memories and good experiences with it overall for myself and for its many fans. I give it a 9/10. And I might just be reading more Riordan soon.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

500 Followers Giveaway!

Last week, Nori’s Closet reached 400 followers, and only days ago it reached 500! I am in shock. Seriously, this is so above and beyond what I expected of this blog when I first started. Thank you for following Nori’s Closet. This giveaway is for all of my followers (US and International).
I have a hard task coming up at the end of the year to pick my top 10 books of 2012. So far I can narrow the list down to about 18…Maybe I’ll make my list a top 20 list this year. Any way, just for following Nori’s Closet, you can enter to win two of my favorite 18 new books of 2012. This has been one crazy year for me so far. And I am so thankful to have had so many wonderful books to read. And I still have so many more to delve into.
Thanks for following Nori’s Closet. Good luck.

You can pick two of these super, amazing titles:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Partials by Dan Wells
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Slide by Jill Hathaway
Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Croak by Gina Damico
The Selection by Kiera Cass
Defiance by CJ Redwine
For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
The Diviners by Libba Bray
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Every Day by David Levithan
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (17)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week, I am waiting on Foretold by Jana Oliver (12/11/12):

Description on GoodReads:
Now that Riley’s managed to (just barely) fend off Armageddon, everything’s changed. Well . . . most things. After their passionate kiss before the big battle in the cemetery, Beck is back to treating her like a little girl, as if nothing ever happened. While she’d love to just tell him off and move on, Riley vowed to take care of Beck the way he’s taken care of her since her father’s death—but she’s about to get a whole lot more than she bargained for. When she’s commissioned to go with Beck to his hometown and help him care for his dying mother, they stumble too close to a dark and murderous secret, one that Beck fears will drive Riley away from him forever. As chaos breaks loose, Riley may be Beck's only hope for redemption . . . and survival.

Meanwhile, up in Atlanta, it’s quickly becoming clear that Heaven may have won a battle, but the war is far from over. Riley and Beck face a stormy future, as Lucifer's ex-right-hand-man, Sartael, proves himself to be more resilient than anyone thought. He has Atlanta in his grip and is about to begin a brutal war with the prince of Hell. As the seconds tick down toward a final confrontation, it's up to Riley and the man she loves to finally defeat their old enemy, or lose everything they've fought for
I absolutely love this series!! I loved it even more after meeting the author at a conference and seeing how amazingly cool she was. I love this new cover (though the British cover is even cooler –it’s apparently been out in England already for a couple of months…). I’m so excited to see where the story goes and to see more Riley and Beck! I’m just sad that it is the last book in the series. I am so attached to all of the characters! I just hope the author continues to write amazing books.
What are you waiting for this week?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Before I say anything else, I must say: if normal nuns were seriously secretly trained as deadly assassins, I’d have way more interest in religion.  Not that I’m saying religion is bad; it’s just that if it also involved training to kill all the evil men in the world who abuse women, well it would definitely be a lot more interesting! What a crazy, amazing book idea!
Seriously, I don’t know why I let the gigantic size of the book delay my enjoyment. I’m the girl who was first in line at Harry Potter midnight releases. I would then not go to sleep till the book was finished. I may or may not have inadvertently spoiled the ending to a Harry Potter book because I didn’t understand how someone could be there at midnight and then not have finished the book by the next day. I kept telling myself Grave Mercy was too long and that I’d eventually get to it when I had time. It’s not even the length of the 6th Harry Potter book. It’s more likely a little longer than the third one. Why was I letting length get to me? I then of course read this like I would Harry Potter –practically in one setting.
Ismae has been physically and verbally abused for her whole life. It was known since before she was born that her father was the god of death. Her mother tried to poison herself and her baby in effort to get rid of Ismae, but it didn’t work. Instead, Ismae was born with a giant red scar that goes a long her whole back. She is not only brought up by her father’s brutality, but she is also taught to believe that she is nothing. She thinks she should be ashamed of how she looks and knows in the opening chapters that her father must have lied to the man she is being forced to marry.
Soon, it becomes clear her father did lie. Her new husband is abashed at how Ismae looks, and like her father, proceeds to beat her. Thankfully, Ismae is helped by the hedge priest who married her and makes her way to the convent of St. Mortain.  Once there, Ismae learns that being a child of Death has its strong points. She learns she is immune to poison and she learns that she is so much more than nothing. She decides to stay on and train with the other nuns there.
The convent sort of acts as a Hogwarts for learning about sabotage and assassination. Ismae learns a lot in her years there: she learns to fight, to defend herself, how to use poisons, how to attract men, how to blend in, how to sense who needs to die, and how to believe in herself. And just when I think the story can’t get any cooler, Ismae is sent on a mission to court, where she must pretend to be the mistress of Gavriel Duval, someone the convent is suspicious of possibly plotting against the duchess they have sworn to protect.
This book is loaded with fight scenes, carriage chases, spying, court intrigue, politics, feminism, romance, magic, and death! It also deals with some serious things too like grief, abuse, rape, and self-doubt. The toughest thing Ismae is faced with is figuring out things out for herself. She’s always had a terrible father to decide her life for her. And then the convent and Death tell her everything she has to do. When she’s out on her own for such an extended mission, she’s given advice from all of the board. She finally has to decide for herself what is right, who really deserves to die, and what it is exactly she is fighting so hard for.
I loved how hard it was for her to fall in love. Can you blame her? All the men she has ever seen have been brutal and awful. I also love how strong she becomes. She goes from a crying, (practically destroyed) helpless wife/daughter to one kick-butt assassin. And somehow through it all, she still manages to have a soul and care for people. I also loved Duval! I love all the times he wanted to trust Ismae, but didn’t. And I loved how they worked as a team to protect the duchess. I loved the duchess and all of the awful happenings at court. I even loved Duval’s awful family and how they all played into everything.
The spying and the action truly made this book stand out as one epic, YA fantasy novel. I kept hoping for more scenes where Ismae got to show her toughness, instead of hide it. She pretty much had to do a lot of womanly pretending (aka: fighting on the down low while pretending to be a stupid, vapid country mistress), and I wish she could have been more outspoken about it (though it does happen eventually –I’m not spoiling anything, I promise). I also loved the pinch of supernatural that is involved with Ismae’s unique and deadly abilities.  I also found the religion and gods and saints of this story fascinating; it’s such an interesting take on religion.
The only thing that kind of bothers me about this book is the timing. A lot of stuff was timed too well. Certain characters just happened to be places a little too often for me. One coincidence is fine. But, several…not so much. Also, Ismae was only at the convent for four years before she was sent out on this epic mission. And I know she has some seriously awesome abilities, but even so, I don’t think you can go from starving, broken, and hopeless to ruthless, talented, strong, and brave quite so quickly. Maybe those nuns had more magic than we know?
Regardless of the timing issues, this is not a book to miss. And certainly it shouldn’t be a book to push aside for when there is more time. It is addicting. And really, it was one of my favorite YA fantasy stories of the year. I give it a 9/10.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Good Week in Books (27)

So, today is my birthday!!! I pretty much plan on spending the whole day book shopping! So, all the books I get later today will be a part of my Good Week in Books next week. However, since I am me, I already have some birthday books to share!
I have had a wonderful book week. I received two new finished pretties to review! I purchased two at my school’s (where I’m a librarian) book fair. 20% of my purchase went to my school…I had to. Plus they had some really nice signed books! I bought one book at the grocery store, of all places! My grocery store was celebrating Teen Read Week! And they had a whole display of teen paperbacks that were all 25% off. How cool is that? Then, I bought the finishing touch to my Halloween costume online on Amazon, and decided I might as well spend a little more money to get the free shipping and treat myself to an early birthday present, so that’s another two books…And then I got two pre-birthday books from my mom, who is awesome!

For Review (Thank you, Harper Collins!):
Beta by Rachel Cohn (And it has the shiniest cover ever! So much prettier than the ARC!)
Break My Heart 1,000 Times by Daniel Waters
From the book fair:
Every Day by David Levithan (I loved my library book of it so much, I had to buy it! Plus, it’s signed!!!)
Every You, Every Me by David Levithan (I’ve been wanting to read this for forever!)
From my grocery store (Go Teen Read Week!):
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (I think I’m the only person in the world who hasn’t read this yet, and I’m so excited to read this one.)
An early birthday present to myself:
Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter (If you own a finished copy of this book and haven’t looked at the inside binding, please do so; it is so pretty!)
Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst (This book has like no hype at all, but I read such a fantastic review of it and the story just sounds so unique and wonderful.)
And from my wonderful mother:
The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron (signed)
The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff (This is by far one of the coolest books I’ve ever seen. It’s a lot like Zombies Vs. Unicorns in its setup with banter and side notes. The authors have drawn pictures and made notes in the sidelines and the physical book is much wider than a normal hard cover. Again, the inside binding in this one is phenomenal! And oh yeah, it’s signed too!)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Birthday Surprise Giveaway!

So Sunday, October 21st is my birthday! And how am I celebrating my birthday? Well, in the most book-nerdiest way possible.  I’m going book-shopping across Chicago! Seriously…I’m going to all the bookstores (used and new) that I have always wanted to go to, but haven’t. And I’m making a day out of it. I am so excited for Sunday!
My bookshelves though are near fatal collapse. I need to get rid of some books before I can even begin to fathom putting more books on these shelves.  I have ARC’s, I have paperbacks, and I have hard covers. They are all YA titles (duh) and for the most part are books I have more than one copy of or just don’t think I will be able to get around to reading.
One winner can celebrate like October 21st is his/her birthday too! I am giving away one big box of books to the winner of this giveaway! And like a lot of birthday presents, it will be a surprise... Just know that it will be a lot of books! And I’m sorry if you already have some of the books in there, but if that happens I hope you will just pass them on too.

This giveaway is for my US followers only because I am shipping this box of books myself. However, I have another giveaway in the works (that should be up next week) for all my followers. Same rules apply: I will email the winner and the he/she will have 48 hours to respond to me with his/her shipping address and if I don’t hear back in time, I will have to select a different winner.

Thanks for stopping by. And good luck!
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Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

I bought this book right after it came out (in 2011). I had read so many great reviews for it that I knew I absolutely needed to have it. Plus, the book jacket is loaded with blurbs from impressed authors who I trust and love. Seriously, Cassandra Clare, Veronica Roth, Kirsten Miller, Beth Revis, and Rachel Hawkins all had good things to say about this one. Why on earth did it take me so long to start it? Honestly, I have no idea. I’m just glad I read it before the sequel came out (sequel comes out next week!).
Mara wakes up in the hospital after an accident that killed her two best friends and her boyfriend. She doesn’t really remember what happened. She knows an old, abandoned building collapsed and killed everyone but her. But she doesn’t remember why she and her friends were in the building and she doesn’t remember them dying. It’s clear in the very beginning that Mara is not the most reliable of main characters. She writes with the knowledge that her mind is not all there.
She’s taking anti-psychotics, seeing a therapist, and is diagnosed with a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She hallucinates and she keeps seeing the ghosts of her dead friends. She has learned to not look in mirrors because that is when she sees them. And she very rarely leaves the safety of her family and her house. Her family, mostly for her benefit, moves to a new home and a new state where Mara won’t always be thinking of her dead friends. They also move because Mara’s important, lawyer father gets involved with a high profile law suit involving a man accused of kidnapping, torturing, and murdering kids.
Too bad for Mara, the new school and home and city don’t prevent her hallucinations from happening. However, as the story progresses, Mara remembers more and more tidbits from the night the building collapsed. At her new school, Mara quickly develops a friendship with the school player, Noah. Noah is notorious for sleeping with girls and then dropping them. And Mara is warned to stay away from Noah. She also isn’t looking for a relationship because she is still dealing with her old one. However, the two very different characters connect. They both have dealt with a lot in their young lives and both know a thing or two about loss.
The last quarter of the book is chock-full of supernatural elements that I was not expecting this at all because the whole book till that point read more like a contemporary novel. There’s special abilities, a lot of death, kidnappings, law suits, animal rescues, romance, bullying, grief, and plenty of mystery. Of course the high profile lawsuit comes into play with Mara’s life too.  I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, needing answers just as badly as Mara needed answers! There’s also some deep stuff going on here about questions of death (and a little death penalty argument). The book also deals with rape and mental illness. I loved Mara’s family (particularly her brothers) and how they dealt with Mara’s needs.
I loved bad boy, Noah! He reminded me a lot of Gansey from The Raven Boys, wealthy, beautiful, and totally not what you are expecting. I had a love/hate relationship with Mara. I loved how much attitude she had. I loved how hard she made things for Noah to make his move. There might have been a bit of an instant-love thing going on, but Mara never really gave into it. She got to know Noah and did everything she could to try to push him away before actually giving in and realizing she loved him. And this was so amazing! But, Mara was also rather needy in a way I didn’t like. She needed other people just a little too much for me. I wanted her to be just a little bit more independent. Like, the only way she could do anything besides go to school was if her brother talked her mother into letting her out. And her mother had to approve of everything. And she just needed so much approval. I get that this fits with her mental state, but it doesn’t fit with her personality, which is full of attitude.
I did not think the book was as dark and scary as the blurbs and the publisher were trying to sell it as. And a big part of it not being so dark or even as mysterious as I wanted was because of a letter Mara writes in the beginning, before the first chapter starts. The letter sort of spoils something about dead bodies. And if I never read that letter I think I would have been a lot more freaked out and surprised. I wish that letter wasn’t there. I get the whole Mara needing a false name thing needing to be explained, but I really feel like a huge part of the book was spoiled for me before I even started it.
All in all, I loved the characters, I loved the story, and I loved the suspense. I just wish the book wasn’t spoiled for me before it even started. And I kind of wish Mara was just a little bit more independent. I read this one remarkably fast (one sitting). And I really am looking forward to the sequel. This one ends with a bit of a cliffhanger. I give it an 8/10.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday (16)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week, I am waiting on This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith (4/2/13):

Description on GoodReads:
If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

This is What Happy Looks Like, Jennifer E. Smith's new YA novel, perfect strangers Graham Larkin and Ellie O'Neill meet—albeit virtually—when Graham accidentally sends Ellie an email about his pet pig, Wilbur. In the tradition of romantic movies like "You've Got Mail" and "Sleepless in Seattle," the two 17-year-olds strike up an email relationship, even though they live on opposite sides of the country and don't even know each other's first names.

Through a series of funny and poignant messages, Graham and Ellie make a true connection, sharing intimate details about their lives, hopes and fears. But they don't tell each other everything; Graham doesn't know the major secret hidden in Ellie's family tree, and Ellie is innocently unaware that Graham is actually a world-famous teen actor living in Los Angeles.

When the location for the shoot of Graham's new film falls through, he sees an opportunity to take their relationship from online to in-person, managing to get the production relocated to picturesque Henley, Maine, where Ellie lives. But can a star as famous as Graham have a real relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie's mom want her to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?

Just as they did in
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, the hands of fate intervene in wondrous ways in this YA novel that delivers on high concept romance in lush and thoughtful prose.”
If fate sent me an email, I would so answer. Who knows when some famous celebrity will be emailing? So, I kind of know this story has been done in so many ways before. But, I love stories made up in letters or emails. And I loved The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. This cover is gorgeous and looks so much like the cover I already know and love. And sometimes I just want to read a story I’m already familiar with; it’s like comfort food. Plus, I’m sure Smith will put her own twist on things and I know her characters will be authentic and honest. I’m really excited for this one! What are you waiting on?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fall Into Fantasy Giveaway Hop!

Thank you I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and The Write Path for hosting this awesome giveaway!
Click on the lovely picture above or scroll down to the bottom to link up to all the other blogs participating for more chances to win free books!
This has been one fantastic year for YA fantasy! Seriously, I’m feeling like the majority of my favorite books of 2012 are going to be fantasy. And because there are just so many amazing fantasy books out there, I thought I’d give away two books this time! One lucky winner can choose any two books listed from below. Also, if the book I listed is part of a series, and you’d like a different book in the series than the one shown, let me know and I can swap it for you.
This giveaway is open to my international followers too (just as long as you live somewhere that either Barnes and Noble or the Book Depository can deliver to)! Once a winner is chosen, the winner will get an email from me asking for a shipping address and two books he/she wants and the winner will have 48 hours to respond or otherwise I will be forced to pick a different winner.
Pick two:
Grave Mercy
by Robin LaFevers
The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Ruby Red by kirsten Gier
Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
Entice by Jessica Shirvington
Shift by Raine Thomas
The Springsweet by Saundra Mitchell
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman,
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross
The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone
Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
The Diviners by Libba Bray
a Rafflecopter giveaway Thanks for stopping by and good luck!