Dec 31, 2012

Review: Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

Title: Meant to Be
Author: Lauren Morrill
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publishing Date: November 13, 2012
Pages/Format: 304, Hardcover

Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question. 

It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be").

But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.

Initial Reaction of Book in One Word: CUTE

Going into this book, I was hoping it would be good. It could either go in an Anna and the French Kiss direction (fantastic) or in a The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight direction (disappointing). While I did not like it as much as Anna (a hard book to compare to), it was definitely up on that level--cute, fun, light, and good.

Getting into Meant to Be was a piece of cake--thank gosh! I'm getting tired of books that take fifty pages to pull me in. Here, I was immediately pulled in: we're already on a plane to London. But that's not what got me--it was the voice. A teenage voice that was witty and fun without being annoying. (Another thank you!) Julia's voice was great and completely readable, complete with all-caps, sentences without spaces, and several (but not an overdose of) thankyouverymuch-es. Julia was a believable character, playing on the straight-A, bookish type of student. I full enjoyed reading from her point of view, which could be described as refreshing. The other main character is her arch nemesis and trip buddy (eep!) Jason. (Who's a redhead! There aren't many soulless, redheaded boys in YA. I like it!) He starts out as the thorn in a side, the pain in the butt--Mr. Annoying. But then, as he and Julia are forced to spend time together, his annoyance turns into playfulness and he's just a fun character to be around. I liked him, and I liked Julia--they were nice and pretty darn normal.

My complaints with this book are very, very few. (Practically nonexistent.) The only thing I can think of that bothered me was some wording (no big deal) and a few too many exclamation points. The only reason it fell a bit short--and I hate to say this--is because it wasn't quite Anna, and I just couldn't help comparing the two on occasion. (But it's still good!)

I enjoyed the concept and the story: Girl goes to London. Girl is stuck with least favorite boy. Girl dreams about her MTB (meant to be) back home. Girl makes a mess. Girl gets some romance. Girl has a crazy story. Girl has an awesome story. It was simple and light and fluffy, one of those reads that's just made to help you feel good, and I really, really liked it. 

After 290 pages (Disclaimer: Goodreads lies. The last page is 290, not 304. I was expecting 14 more pages of awesome and cuteness, and I didn't get it!) I was pretty pleased with Meant to Be. It had all the ingredients for an adorable contemporary (boy(s), girl, setting, conflict, romance), making it all the more likable. Also, it didn't disappoint my expectations, and I stayed up late reading it (it's 3:00 a.m. as I'm writing this review), which is always a good thing. I look forward to seeing what Morrill brings in the future, but for now Meant to Be is just meant to be read.

Did I like it? Yes.
Did I love it? Not 100%, but I didn't not love it, either.
Would I reread it? Possibly.
Would I purchase it? Most likely.
Would I recommend it? Yes.

Dec 27, 2012

Review: Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum

Title: Revolution 19
Author: Gregg Rosenblum
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publishing Date: January 8, 2013
Pages/Format: 272, ARC

Twenty years ago, the robots designed to fight our wars abandoned the battlefields. Then they turned their weapons on us.

Only a few escaped the robot revolution of 2071. Kevin, Nick, and Cass are lucky —they live with their parents in a secret human community in the woods. Then their village is detected and wiped out. Hopeful that other survivors have been captured by bots, the teens risk everything to save the only people they have left in the world—by infiltrating a city controlled by their greatest enemies.

Revolution 19 is a cinematic thriller unlike anything else. With a dynamic cast of characters, this surefire blockbuster has everything teen readers want—action, drama, mystery, and romance. Written by debut novelist Gregg Rosenblum, this gripping story shouldn’t be missed.

Initial Reaction of Book in One Word: Interesting

Going into Revolution 19, I was expecting something Terminator-esque: a destroyed, gray world full of scruffy, dirty survivors and terrifying, controlling robots. While parts of the world in this book were kind of like that, it wasn't painted that way. Part of me really liked this book, and part of me thinks it was just okay. I liked the concept and think it has potential, but I think it needs some growth.

The writing wasn't anything special, but it wasn't bad. It was simple and sometimes lacked depth. But it was, for the most part, readable, and that's a very important thing in books. I devoured this book rather quickly, even though it's a shorter read. I found myself enjoying it, and not really knowing what was going to happen next--several things did happen in this book, some expected, some unexpected, and some not happening when I thought they would. 

Revolution 19 begins with an attention grabbing prologue, and then dives into the future at a Freepost: a place where escapees and survivors live in the wild. I thought more of the story would take place here, but not much did. It didn't take long for the main characters--Nick, Cass, and Kevin--to head to the city where the robots are (and more people that are living differently and somewhat normally) in search of their parents. In the city, it was interesting to see the robots in their habitat, and see how people lived with them--if robots ever take over the world, maybe things won't be as bad as they are in Terminator. Not that it's all sunshine and kittens in Revolution 19, either.

The characters were basic, and I never fully connected with them. Nick's the oldest of the three siblings and is blind in one eye because of a robot. When they're separated from their parents, he takes charge and makes sacrifices for his family. The middle child is Cass, who's adopted because her parents were killed by robots. She's the athletic and artistic one. Then there's the youngest teen Kevin, who's the tech guy. Together, they each bring something that helps them survive in a world where humans aren't dominant.

In the end, I enjoyed Revolution 19. It's different than most books I read, and I liked how it was like a robot apocalypse instead of a zombie apocalypse. While I wish it had me on my toes more, it was still full of action and thrills. The ending left me wanting more, and I will most definitely read the next book. For a debut, it wasn't too shabby, but it has some room to improve.

Did I like it? Yes.
Did I love it? No.
Would I reread it? If I develop a robot craving.
Would I purchase it? Not full price.
Would I recommend it? Yes, but not hardcore.

Dec 26, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (14)

Waiting on Wednesday
is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that showcases upcoming releases that people are very much anticipating.

This is a book that I've heard of but never really had in interest in. Then I read the synopsis recently and found out that there's a "too-cute pig" and was sold. I want this book.

Title: Poison
Author: Bridget Zinn
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publishing Date: March 12, 2013
Pages: 288

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

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

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

Kyra is not your typical murderer, and she’s certainly no damsel-in-distress—she’s the lovable and quick-witted hero of this romantic novel that has all the right ingredients to make teen girls swoon.

Sounds awesome, right? And I love pigs and have had pigs, so I'm interested! What about you? What are you waiting on? Tell me in the comments!

Dec 24, 2012

Review: Reached by Ally Condie

Title: Reached
Author: Ally Condie
Publisher: Dutton Childrens Books
Publishing Date: November 13, 2012
Pages/Format: 512, Hardcover

After leaving Society and desperately searching for the Rising—and each other—Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again: Cassia has been assigned to work for the Rising from within Society, while Ky has been stationed outside its borders. But nothing is as predicted, and all too soon the veil lifts and things shift once again.

In this gripping conclusion to the #1 New York Times-bestselling Matched trilogy, Cassia will reconcile the difficulties of challenging a life too confining, seeking a freedom she never dreamed possible, and honoring a love she cannot live without.

Initial Reaction of Book in One Word: DUNNO

It's been about an hour since I finished the conclusion to the Matched trilogy, and I'm still not sure what to say or what I think about it. I think the problem with this trilogy is that it's frustrating, stuck in the in-between of good and bad. They're not bad, but they're not very good, either. They kind of leave me feeling nothing, and that's such a shame, because the concept is great and there's all this hype but something is just missing. What that something is, I do not know.

I'll start with the book itself. It took me quite a while before I really got into it--that may have just been me or the actual book. And now I'm reminded off all the issues. (SPOILERS AHEAD) Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Cassia consume a red tablet in Crossed? She did, didn't she? She took it and then we never heard about it again. So she goes to take one in Reached, not knowing if she'll forget or remember what happened--which is stupid, because she should know since she's already taken one. This bothered me constantly. And then there's the Pilot. I still don't have a damn clue who it is. A person was constantly referred to as the Pilot, but he was never given a description. Also, this series could really use a map of everything, because I hear Cammas and Central and this and that and I never really know where it is because I forget and then I am lost. Another thing: how many potential relationships are needed in these books? It's not a love triangle--it's a freaking love octagon or tree. More than once I was unsure of what was really going on, and how this scene jumped to that scene. Like I said, it's frustrating.

Oh, and then there's this:
"So many questions, and I may never have the answers." (471)
Is this a way of Cassia saying that the reader isn't going to get all the answers? Because I feel like I still have questions that don't have answers. It's kind of like Cassia read my mind.

This book does have positives. I like the characters. Cassia's a rebel in her own way, and she really does love Ky and Xander. She really finds herself in this book, and she sacrifices a lot to try and make things right. Similarly, Ky and Xander both love Cassia. I feel like there's less Ky in this book when compared to the others, but things...happen. More is seen of Xander, and he really changes, maybe more than anyone else. There are some other characters that I don't want to mention for reasons, but I like most of them.

I think the problem with this book is that it lacked a climax. Sure, things happened that were big and shocking--and I may have slapped the book a couple times. But nothing felt like a huge WOW or slap in the face. I liked how there's all this stuff happening, but some of it seems disconnected from the previous books. Matched is all about Ky and Cassia being together. Crossed is about them finding each other, and then searching for the Rising and the Pilot. And then Reached is about the Plague. Each one's so different, and I feel like new information is announced in each one. I'm almost speechless--I don't know what to say about these books.

After three books, I can say the same thing: okay, anti-climatic, disappointing. Sure, I got teary sometimes when reading the books, but I have no idea why. I want to love these characters and I hate to say goodbye, but I just can't and I have to. I wish I could say that I love these books. Part of me wants to reread them at some point, because then I might like them better. (Note: I really liked the last lines of this one.) I just wasn't matched, the hype crossed me, and I reached the last pages feeling something, but not enough.

If you're interested, you can see my thoughts on the first two books in the trilogy, Matched and Crossed.

Did I like it? Yes.
Did I love it? No.
Would I reread it? Yes--I want to know if a reread would change my thoughts on it.
Would I purchase it? Not sure--maybe if it was on a major sale.
Would I recommend it? Depends--you might like it more than I did.

Dec 20, 2012

Cover Reveal: Dangerous by Suzannah Daniels

Hello, all! Today I have another awesome cover reveal, courtesy of Xpresso Book Tours! I think this book will appeal to fans of Simone Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry series and Katie McGarry's Pushing the Limits. Be prepared to yearn for Dangerous by Suzannah Daniels!

The Author
Suzannah Daniels has had an affinity for words for as long as she can remember. She grew up in North Georgia with four brothers, so she learned at an early age to admire snakes and motorcycles.  When she wasn't pestering her brothers, she could usually be found reading or writing. She is the author of Viking's Embrace, a historical romance, and Ghostly Encounter, Book One of her Ghostly series (young adult paranormal romance). Currently, she lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee with her husband and her teenage daughter. Her son lives nearby. The family pets include a Lab mix, a Basset Hound, a Shih Tzu, and a sweet, little kitty. You can learn more about Suzannah by visiting her websiteGoodreadsFacebook, or Twitter.

The Book
Stone Hamilton had never known fear…until the accident.  Since then, his life has spiraled out of control.  He’s been kicked out of private school, deemed a disappointment by his father, and forced to endure his own guilt, anger, and grief.  The last thing he wants is a relationship with someone who will have expectations of him.  But once he’s enticed by the shimmering pink lips of the oh-so-popular, academically-excelling, straitlaced hottie from his new school, he knows he’s in trouble.  

Seventeen-year-old Dara Golding has one goal for the summer.  Make enough money to buy a car, so that she can drive to school her senior year.  After starting a new job, she realizes that she’ll be working with the brooding, motorcycle-riding, bad boy who started attending Quail Mountain High last year.  With his less than stellar reputation, he’s everything she’s afraid of…and that makes him dangerous.

Their undeniable attraction has Stone struggling with his inner demons.  As Dara slowly allows Stone to claim her heart, a little white lie to cover an ugly truth could determine whether she’s his savior or the final straw that will break his sanity.

Dangerous will be published on February 10, 2013. Be sure to add it on Goodreads!

The Cover
Designed by Okay Creations, and designed to make you want Stone!

What do you think of Dangerous? Discuss in the comments, and thanks for stopping by!

Dec 19, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (13)

Waiting on Wednesday
is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that showcases upcoming releases that people are very much anticipating.

I'm extremely excited for today's Waiting on Wednesday, because I have been waiting on this book since the second I finished the one before it. And just this week the information for this book was released, so now I can share it with you! This week I'm waiting on...

Title: Of Triton
Author: Anna Banks
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publishing Date: May 28, 2013
Pages: 288

In this sequel to Of Poseidon, Emma has just learned that her mother is a long-lost Poseidon princess, and now struggles with an identity crisis: As a Half-Breed, she’s a freak in the human world and an abomination in the Syrena realm below. Syrena law states that all Half- Breeds should be put to death.

As if that’s not bad enough, her mother’s reappearance among the Syrena turns the two kingdoms—Poseidon and Triton—against one another. Which leaves Emma with a decision to make: Should she comply with Galen’s request to keep herself safe and just hope for the best? Or should she risk it all and reveal herself—and her Gift—to save a people she’s never known?

I'm so excited for this book! Of Poseidon (you can see my review here) ended on a total cliffhanger that made me do this, saying "more, more, more!"
Fortunately, there will be more Galen in Of Triton. At least, I'm assuming there will be. So.
Basically, I NEED OF TRITON! Now would be nice.

What about you? What are you waiting on this week? Tell me in the comments!

Dec 18, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday (15)

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

This Tuesday's theme is...

Top Ten Books I Read In 2012

This one's hard, if only because I have to think of all the books I read this year! At first I thought I wouldn't have ten, then I discovered I had more than of course I cheated a bit. I can't help myself!
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins: I feel like any novel by Perkins would make it on one of my "best of" lists. While I didn't like this one as much as Anna and the French Kiss, I still loved it--and Cricket, of course. Plus, Anna and Etienne (gosh I love him) make several appearances.
The Selection by Kiera Cass: Over time, I've grown to like this book more and more. There's something about a girl competing to be a princess that brings out childhood dreams. And there's Prince Maxon. I love him. (My review.)
The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting: This is the third book in The Body Finder series, and Derting is really starting to mess with all the feels. When you read the book, you'll totally understand why.
Of Poseidon by Anna Banks: This book was so good. It was cute and funny and awesome, and there were mermaids! (Well, not exactly, but practically.) (My review.)
Origin by Jessica Khoury: All summer I waited for this book, and when I finally got my hands on it, it didn't disappoint. A story about an immortal girl living in the Amazon, and there's a super hot native boy? So good! (My review.)
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi: An excellent thriller full of all kinds of action--combat and romantic. To top it off, Mafi's writing flows like poetry, and it's fantastic. (My review.)
Black Dawn and Bitter Blood by Rachel Caine: The two most recent installments in the Morganville Vampires series, one of my favorite series, gave me the usual awesomeness: vampires, romance, action, drama, all of it! Although the last one makes me wonder what's in store for my favorite group of people... (My review.)
Divergent by Veronica Roth: Why did I take so long to read this book? It was so good! I don't think I really need to say more. Except that four is my new favorite number. (My review.)
Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion: I hate zombies, but oh my gosh I loved this book. It was so, so good! I loved the story and the characters and the writing. All together it made for a brilliant read that's good for your brain. (My review.)
Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson: This is probably my favorite book of the year. Over time, my love for it has grown, so much so that I should probably edit my review. Tiger Lily was just...amazing. Anderson isn't just a writer; she's a storyteller. This book simultaneously ripped my heart and stomped it to pieces and kept it beating and pulsing in place. I love this book. So. Much. (My review.)

Honorable Mentions:
Don't Breathe A Word by Holly Cupala: A powerful book about homeless teenagers in Seattle. (My review.)
The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder: A sincere story about all kinds of love.
Ten by Gretchen McNeil: A book best read at night--it might scare you! (My review.)

I know I'm forgetting something, but voila! What about you--what are the best books you read this year? Tell me in the comments!

Dec 17, 2012

Review: Crossed by Ally Condie

Title: Crossed
Author: Ally Condie
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Publishing Date: November 1, 2011
Pages/Format: 367, Hardcover

In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky — taken by the Society to his certain death — only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake. 

Cassia’s quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander — who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia’s heart — change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.

Initial Reaction of Book in One Word: Good

Going into Crossed, there was one thing I really wanted: for it to be better than Matched. Thankfully, it was. Crossed bordered on being good and just okay--I put it as good because it was better, and that's something that I was really hoping for. I still do not, however, understand the hype with this series.

This book was all about finding things, and I liked that--it brought the reader on an adventure, taking them here and there, making them question what would and could happen. Will Cassia and Ky find each other? (And how many pages will it take for them to do so?) Will the Rising and its leader the Pilot be found? What's going to happen? For the most part, all these questions are answered, though the book's end brings one of them back again. Unfortunately.

What made Crossed more likable was its pace--the new characters and the new setting made it extremely easy to turn page after page, flowing nicely and quickly, but not too quickly. I don't think the book ever really took place in the Society; instead, we get to see what's going on outside, and it's not too pretty. War is waging, and young lives--too many lives--are being lost because of it, because the Society uses unwanted people to fight their problems. I'm still not sure who they're up against, the Enemy, is. It may be the Rising, but only the final book, Reached, will tell. 

In the end, I liked the differences Crossed had when compared to Matched--it just made it so much better. I just wish that better meant that it was really good or great. I can only hope that the end to the series, Reached, makes up for it all. (It's really hard to write this review, just so you know. I wouldn't necessarily call that a good thing.)

Did I like it? Yes.
Did I love it? No.
Would I reread it? Not sure.
Would I purchase it? Not sure--maybe if it was on a major sale.
Would I recommend it? Depends--you might like it more than I did.

Dec 14, 2012

Cover Reveal: Dear Cassie by Lisa Burstein

You know Pretty Amy, right? If not, then let me refresh your memory.

Amy is fine living in the shadows of beautiful Lila and uber-cool Cassie, because at least she’s somewhat beautiful and uber-cool by association. But when the girls get stood up for prom and take matters into their own hands—earning them a night in jail outfitted in satin, stilettos, and Spanx — Amy discovers even a prom spent in handcuffs might be better than the humiliating “rehabilitation techniques” now filling up her summer. Even worse, with Lila and Cassie parentally banned, Amy feels like she has nothing — like she is nothing.

Navigating unlikely alliances with her new coworker, two very different boys, and possibly even her parents, Amy struggles to decide if it’s worth being a best friend when it makes you a public enemy. Bringing readers along on an often hilarious and heartwarming journey, Amy finds that maybe getting a life only happens once you think your life is over.

Purchase: PowellsThe Book DepositoryAmazon, and Barnes and Noble.

If you've read Pretty Amy (or even read the blurb), you'll notice that there's a character named Cassie. Lucky for you, you get to learn more about Cassie in Lisa Burstein's newest novel Dear Cassie, which is expected to be published in March 2013 by Entangled Teen Publishing! Without further adieu, here's Dear Cassie--and your first look at the stunning cover!

What if the last place you should fall in love is the first place that you do?

You’d think getting sent to Turning Pines Wilderness Camp for a month-long rehabilitation “retreat” and being forced to re-live it in this journal would be the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.

You’d be wrong.

There’s the reason I was sent to Turning Pines in the first place: I got arrested. On prom night. With my two best friends, who I haven’t talked to since and probably never will again. And then there’s the real reason I was sent here. The thing I can’t talk about with the guy I can’t even think about.

What if the moment you’ve closed yourself off is the moment you start to break open?

But there’s this guy here. Ben. And the more I swear he won’t—he can’t—the deeper under my skin he’s getting. After the thing that happened, I promised I’d never fall for another boy’s lies.

And yet I can’t help but wonder…what if?

Preorder: The Book DepositoryAmazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Isn't that cover great? And to make things sweeter, I have an excerpt from Dear Cassie!

We kept walking on the lake trail, the bullfrogs croaking. There was also a humming in my ears from the nicotine. It could only be from the nicotine. It had nothing to do with being outside, at night, alone with Ben. It had nothing to do with Ben coming to the cabin and taking me instead of Nez and it definitely had nothing to do with the stars above us shining like they were the sky’s tiara. I stopped on the trail and looked up, taking them in, when all of a sudden bright colored lights exploded in the sky—fireworks, one after another, on top of each other, huge kaleidoscopes of light, like sparkling rainbow spiders.“How did you know?” I asked, my voice going softer, like if I talked too loudly they would stop. It was so beautiful, after weeks of so much ugly. Ben turned to look at me, the colored lights in the sky turning his skin pink, blue, green. “I’m magic.” He shrugged.I geared up to tell him to fuck off, because that was some corny-ass shit, but then I realized that he really kind of was. In that moment he was able to actually make me forget being me. “I would try to kiss you,” he said, “but I’m afraid you’d kick me in the balls.”“I probably would.” I laughed, the sky filling with noisy color like paint launching from a giant popcorn popper. “But like I said, it wouldn’t be about you.”“I guess I’ll have to figure out how to make it about me,” he said, taking off his boots and socks and standing. “Come on.”“There is no way I am getting near that water again,” I said.“I’ll make sure nothing happens to you,” he said, holding his hand out to help me up.I looked at his palm, open, waiting, just wanting to hold mine. For once, I didn’t think about anything except that there was a cute, sweet, smart-ass boy standing in front of me with his hand out.I pulled off my boots and socks and took it.  We stood at the lakeshore, our hands still clasped, the water licking our feet, fireworks decorating the sky.I turned to him. He was looking up, his mouth open in wonder like he was trying to swallow the moment.It was definitely one worth keeping.
Lisa Burstein is a tea seller by day and a writer by night. She received her MFA in Fiction from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University. She lives in Portland, OR, with her very patient husband, a neurotic dog, and two cats. Dear Cassie is her second novel. You can learn more about Lisa by visiting her Twitter, Facebook, and website.

Before you go--an EPIC CONTEST alert! To celebrate the cover reveal of Dear Cassie, Lisa Burstein wants you to share diary entries of your favorite fictional characters! (Um, how cool is that?!) You can choose any character from books, television, movies, or even a cereal box; just write a 500-750 word diary entry from their point of view! The top five diary entries will be chosen and the masses will vote on their favorite. The winner will be published in the final version of Dear Cassie--yes, published, with the author's name! The additional four winners will win a $20 book buying gift card. (Win or lose, it's what you do with your writing fingers!) Send your entries to by January 1st! Voting for the top five begins January 7th, and the winner will be announced January 14th! This is a unique and awesome contest, so be sure to enter!

Thanks for stopping by, and thanks to Heather Riccio from Entangled Teen Publishing for putting this whole cover reveal together!

Dec 13, 2012

Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Title: Matched
Author: Ally Condie
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Publishing Date: November 30, 2010
Pages/Format: 369, Hardcover

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate... until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

Initial Reaction of Book in One Word: Okay

I liked this book, but it was kind of disappointing; I thought it'd be better. Don't get me wrong--it wasn't a bad book. It was just missing something. Once I got into it, I kept reading and reading. (I was up until 3:30 a.m. reading it, and that says something.) I found myself waiting for something to happen, and I feel like it took a long for something exciting to occur. The writing took some getting used to; it was kind of straightforward and dystopian, if that makes sense. It kind of seemed to change throughout the book, but I think that's because the narrator/MC (Cassia) was changing. For the most part, it was pretty well-written, and I liked the concept. I think my problem is that it was just missing something and didn't wow me.

The idea of the Society is great; there's something about governments trying to perfect the world in ridiculous ways that draws me in. The Society has to have things their way: they pick your food, they pick the Hundred Poems, Songs, etc. that will continue in the world, they pick when you die. They even pick who you're to going marry and have children with--your Match. It's so wrong, yet it makes so much sense: the Society has pretty much eliminated all disease; people live to eighty (people in the Society, that is); there's almost no crime and murder (also, in the Society). It's a compelling, interesting idea that shows what could possibly happen in the future.

I liked most of the characters--Cassia's little brother Bram was a hoot!--especially the main three: Cassia, Ky, and Xander. Matched is told from Cassia's point of view (minor spoilers ahead): how she gets Matched to Xander, her best friend; how she sees someone else's face on her Matchee's file; how she chooses what to do, how to choose, and what her path is. The love interests are Ky and Xander. Xander is a member of the Society who is extremely well-liked by everybody, while Ky is an Abberation, a boy with no future. By the time the book is finished, Cassia has chosen someone. But me? I'm still not sure who I like more, Ky or Xander? They're both good, and they're both different! Hopefully I pick one in the next book!

After reading Matched, I just don't understand what the big fuss is about; I don't get why there's so much hype. I really didn't think it was all that great. The story was interesting, but the book itself was anti-climactic; however, it did have some parts that got my pulse quickening, and for some unknown reason I got teary-eyed. (Don't ask.) While I wish I would have liked Matched more, I can only hope that the rest of trilogy (Crossed, Reached) is better.

Did I like it? Yes.
Did I love it? No.
Would I reread it? Possibly.
Would I purchase it? Probably--we'll see how I like the other books.
Would I recommend it? Depends--you might like it more than I did.

Dec 12, 2012

Snow White Sorrow by Cameron Jace

Hello, lovelies! Today I have an awesome book to share with you, courtesy of Giselle from Xpresso Book Tours (thanks, Giselle)! I'm all about fairytales, so when one of them gets a new spin, I just have to share it! This time it's...Snow White Sorrow by Cameron Jace!

The Author
Cameron Jace: Wonderlander, Neverlander, Unicorn-chaser, enchanter, musician, survived a coma, & totally awesome. Sometimes I tell stories. Always luv the little monsters. I write young adult paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and science fiction mostly. The Grimm Diaries series is a seven book saga that deals with retellings of fairy tales from a young adult POV - it connects most of the fairy tales together and claims to be the truth about fairy tales. I live in San Francisco and seriously think circles are way cooler than triangles. You can find Cameron by visiting his websiteGoodreadsFacebook, and Twitter.

The Books
This Grimm Diaries Prequels are a number of short books in the form of epistolary diary entries. The diaries are more of teasers for the upcoming series: The Grimm Diaries, allowing you to get a glimpse of what to expect of the series. The 6 diaries are told by The Evil Queen, Peter Pan, Little Red Riding Hood, the Devil, Prince Charming, and Alice Grimm. 

Author Warning: these Grimm Prequels are snap shots of a magical land you're about to visit soon. I like to think of them as poisoned apples. Once you taste them, you will never see fairy tales in the same light again.

Note: If you "like" Cameron's Facebook page, you'll find out the exact release date of Snow White Sorrow, as well as be able to get the eBook for only $0.99 on that day! Also, you can purchase the prequel pack for only $0.99 on Kindle until December 13!

Snow White Sorrow, out February 2013 from Akmal Eldin Farouk Ali Shebl

What if all you knew about fairy tales was wrong?

Sixteen year old Loki Blackstar is no Prince Charming. His mother is a ghost. His only friend is a red Cadillac that talks to him through the radio. He looks like an Angel but acts like jerk. No wonder he has been banned from Heaven, which is the least of his troubles. Loki needs a job to pay for school and support himself.

Still, Loki has a rare gift: He is a Dreamhunter. One of the few in the world who can hunt and kill immortal demons in their dreams so they never wake up again.

When Loki is sent to kill a sixteen-year-old vampire girl the locals call Snow White Sorrow, he is pulled into a magical but dangerous world. The locals believe the monster to be Snow White.

The real Snow White... living in the ruins of an ancient castle in a small town. She is described as horribly beautiful, terrifyingly enchanting, and wickedly lovely.

What he finds instead is a beautiful monster girl filled with rage and hurt, who has an epic untold story to tell of things such like why the Brothers Grimm altered the fairy tale, who the Evil Queen really is, where the mirror came from, and who possessed it.

Snow White has killed every person who has dared come near the castle where she once lived with the queen. Mysteriously, she lets Loki live, and whispers two words in his ears; two words that will change his life forever.

The Excerpt
Dear Wilhelm Carl Grimm, She is not that giddy, na├»ve, and helpless princess she pretends to be. Please don’t let her fool you with her innocence if you see her sing to the birds in the forest. Resist her charm from bringing joyful tears to your eyes, and shield yourself from her devious beauty before she deceives you into wanting to kiss her awake. It'll  be a kiss of death. Your death. That’s how she fooled the Huntsman, Prince Charming, and me, her birth mother.I still remember the original script of the fairy tale, the one you wrote in 1812. It clearly stated that she was my own flesh and blood daughter. I don’t have the slightest idea why you altered it fifty years later.What was the point of turning me into an evil, narcissistic, and heartless stepmother, blinded by jealousy and envy of the young princess?For years, I have been looking forward to telling you the truth about her, but you were impossible to reach.I am glad I found your brother, Jacob. He told me that you wanted to tone the stories down so children could sleep better at night, instead of having nightmares about the Queen who sought to eat her daughter’s heart and liver.Shame on you, Wilhelm.You, of all authors, knew why I wanted to kill her. My actions were justified. I was trying to save my kingdom from her wrath, before everything we loved was destined to an end. The same way you had to rewrite the true fairytales after cursing us, so the War of Sorrows would end forever after.Night after night, and year after year, parents fed their children false bedtime stories, until your lies grew into inescapable memories. Your happily ever after lies, Wilhelm, shaped the so called fairy tale world.I wondered why you didn’t burn the original scripts, instead of rewriting them. You must have figured out that sooner or later someone would dig up the truth and expose you. Altering it was the smarter solution. You let children believe that the bites were resurrecting kisses, and that torturing glass coffins were made for sleeping beauties, waiting for a prince to come and kiss them awake.A wise man once said that the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he was someone else. You did the same with us, Wilhelm. You turned us into pastiches of the immortals that we really are, and made it harder for us if wanted to persuade the world otherwise.I know that you did it to save us from her. And I appreciate how you concealed our real names, or we would have ended up like Rumpelstiltskin, tortured by those who knew of his real name.But sometimes, I can’t help but wonder why no one ever questioned why I was called the Evil Queen, and why I was never given a real name in the books.Was I so superficial to the world, so stereotypical and mundane? Why was I treated as if I were the monster of the week?You know what I think? I think that the world never got the time to hate me. It just wanted to hate me long before it met me.If I tell those who detest me about the true nature of their little princess, would they ever care about me half as much as they care about her?I know that deep inside, they adore me. They like the way I talk, walk, dress, and even the way I kill.They are just afraid to admit how much they love me. I am the Snow White Queen, strong enough that I don’t need anyone’s pity or love, because I am loved by the greatest and most majestic heart in the world:Mine.
The Giveaway

One winner will receive one prequel pack that includes all six of the Grimm prequels. This is a Kindle format only; however, they can be read on Macs, PCs, iPads, and iPhones using the free Kindle app. This giveaway is open internationally. One entry per person, please! Good luck!

To enter: Just leave a comment on this post answering the following question. I'll randomly pick a winner on December 31!

What's your favorite fairytale? If you were to do a retelling of it, what would you do?

Dec 10, 2012

Review: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Title: Warm Bodies
Author: Isaac Marion
Publisher: Atria
Publishing Date: October 28, 2010
Pages/Format: 241, Hardcover

R is a young man with an existential crisis--he is a zombie. He shuffles through an America destroyed by war, social collapse, and the mindless hunger of his undead comrades, but he craves something more than blood and brains. He can speak just a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams.

After experiencing a teenage boy's memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and strangely sweet relationship with the victim's human girlfriend. Julie is a blast of color in the otherwise dreary and gray landscape that surrounds R. His decision to protect her will transform not only R, but his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world.

Scary, funny, and surprisingly poignant, Warm Bodies is about being alive, being dead and the blurry line in between.

Initial Reaction of Book in One Word: FANTASTIC

I hate zombies. They're a big fat no-no in my book--I avoid them like the plague, I don't watch the movies or read the books, nope, nope, nope. Then Warm Bodies came along. I'd heard about the book, but didn't read it, because, hey, zombies. Then I saw the movie trailer, and I was intrigued: a zombie that gets dezombified because he falls for a Living person? I'm a sucker for romance, and I couldn't really resist. So I read the book. And I loved it.

This book was brilliant, just brilliant. On several occasions I'd find myself smiling or grinning, and more than once I pumped my fist and said "this is so, so good!" Where do I begin? I could start with what I didn't like in the book, except that I can't really think of anything. Sometimes I was a little confused, and sometimes R was and sometimes he was 'R'--but I can't really think of any glaring issues. Was this book flawless? No--nothing is. But it was really good.

I feel like zombies are usually portrayed as terrifying, gory, unhuman creatures that you should stay the heck away from. And braaains. (Which do play a part in this book, but I'll let you learn that on your own.) Here the zombies are still bad, and people still fear them, but there's something...different about it. Maybe it's because it's being read from the point-of-view of a zombie who isn't 100% zombie. If this was a hardcore zombie novel complete with blood and gore and freaky stuff, I don't think I could've read it. I'd call this a low-key zombie book that zombie-haters could totally read, because it's awesome.

The characters were great, and all suffering and surviving in their own way through the new world. R, the main character, is a zombie that saves a Living girl and continues to keep her safe--in the process, he changes. (And I'm kind of in love with a zombie. Never thought I'd say that.) The girl he cares for is Julie Grigio, a tough girl with a soft side (and the mouth of a sailor). The main other zombie we hear anything about is M, R's friend, who realizes R is different. Other characters include Perry Kelvin (telling you who he is is a spoiler) and Julie's friend Nora. There are some other characters, and they all play major parts in how this book plays out, whether they're Living, Dead, or a Boney (nasty buggers).

I love the writing. While there were a few spots where I would've added or taken away punctuation, it was great. Isaac Marion's writing flows with detail, going from one scene to the next with eloquent words and strong symbolism. I haven't read a lot of books that are written how he writes, and I really liked it--it was pretty readable, and I didn't find many problems with it. It was nice to read something different.

This book did not make me a zombie fan, but I may be a bit more open to the zombie genre. This book was so much: a new world, love, death, hope, a fight for existence, a fight for life, a fight for survival. I'm pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this book, and I can't wait for the sequel (which I know nothing about, except that there's going to be one; I need more info now) or the movie, which looks fantastic. Whether you want to kiss zombies or kill zombies, this is a book you most definitely want to put your nose in.

Did I like it? Yes.
Did I love it? Yes.
Would I reread it? Pretty sure I would.
Would I purchase it? Yes, yes, yes!
Would I recommend it? Absolutely.

Dec 8, 2012

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publishing Date: May 3, 2011
Pages/Format: 487, Paperback

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Initial Reaction of Book in One Word: GREAT

I am a nitpicker. When I read books, I try to find something wrong with them, something that bothers me. Divergent may have been a little insta-love (something that never really bothered me until people started pointing it out), and thinking back on it something may have been missing, but I don't know what. In truth, that's just me nitpicking and thinking about the book a week after I read it. Because, really, I can't find anything wrong Divergent. The pace never bothered me (in fact, I rarely even thought about it), it was well-written, and it was pretty much flawless. That rarely ever happens, you know. I usually find something that really bugs me about a book, but this has, like, nothing. How did you do it, Roth?

The real problem with Divergent is me--as in, why did it take me so long to read this book? It's been released for over a year, and I just now read it. Why, Rachel, why? Why do you do this? I don't know. I must be crazy. *reads all the books* This book was good. Like, really, really good. (A part of me still thinks it may have been missing a little, teeny tiny something, but I'm ignoring that thought.) Once I got into Divergent, I didn't want to stop reading it. I wanted to stay up all night and skip school and not do anything but read, but I couldn't. When I picked my cousin up from school and we were in the slowest moving parking lot ever I was reading while driving. (.789 mph, but still. True story!) I loved the world-building (similar to how it is today, yet so different) and the characters (well, not all the characters) and the story and everything.

I feel like a lot happened in this book, but it was done in a way that didn't feel rushed. It worked. (Thank you, Veronica Roth, for not making this feel so fast-paced.) The end of the book took me by surprise--I didn't expect things to get so climatic until the second or third book. Now I have no idea what to expect and I think that's awesome. The world was futuristic yet not--the setting itself was close to present day, but it's the factions that made it futuristic. The idea of factions is fascinating, by the way. I think it's an interesting way to break people up. For the most part, I liked the characters. Tris was a strong character of her own. (Side note: I am not happy that Shailene Woodley is portraying her in the movie. Not at all.) I loved Four--mysterious, tattoos, honest. I really hated Peter and Eric, and I may have thought violent thoughts about them. I also liked the process of being initiated into a chosen faction, and how it all worked. It was cool to see that, and I thought it was done well--and the fearscapes were interesting.

I remembering reading this book and thinking, this is going to be my shortest review ever, because I was kind of speechless. I didn't know what to say about this book, it was so good. Fortunately, I did manage to find something to say. I know I've said this before, but in the end this book was just so good. If you haven't read it, please do. Not just because it's good, but because it's well-written. I can't wait to read Insurgent (I'm around the 60th hold at my library, which is not okay) and to see what happens next. This is a book you want on your "Read" list.

Did I like it? It's hard not to.
Did I love it? Yes.
Would I reread it? Most likely.
Would I purchase it? Already have it!
Would I recommend it? Yes.