Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Rules by Stacey Kade

Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Format: eGalley
Page Count: 416
Synopsis1. Never trust anyone.2. Remember they are always searching.3. Don’t get involved.4. Keep your head down.5. Don’t fall in love.

Five simple rules. Ariane Tucker has followed them since the night she escaped from the genetics lab where she was created, the result of combining human and extraterrestrial DNA. Ariane’s survival—and that of her adoptive father—depends on her ability to blend in among the full-blooded humans in a small Wisconsin town, to hide in plain sight at her high school from those who seek to recover their lost (and expensive) “project.”

But when a cruel prank at school goes awry, it puts her in the path of Zane Bradshaw, the police chief’s son and someone who sees too much. Someone who really sees her. After years of trying to be invisible, Ariane finds the attention frightening—and utterly intoxicating. Suddenly, nothing is simple anymore, especially not the rules…
Review: This book was just what I needed. The timing was great. I was worried about reading too many contemporaries, and I was in the mood for something fast, so The Rules was just perfect! The Rules is technically science fiction, but it's mainly set in high school, so it was just a fantastic blend, and right for me.

   As you might already be able to tell, I really enjoyed this book. Our main character is Ariane Tucker, and for the most part, I really liked her. She was strong and stubborn, which I always love in a protagonist. I was easily able to imagine her in my mind, and the whole book played out like a movie. Perhaps it was my investment into the story, or maybe it was Stacey Kade's clear and concise prose, but The Rules was such a breeze to read! The book is over 400 pages, but the pages flew by.

   Back to the characters, Ariane was definitely likable. It's so easy to sympathize with her as she's in an awful situation. However, sometimes, she'd push my buttons. There were times when I felt like she was making the same mistakes over and over, without learning from them. But in the end, her intelligence and wit definitely won me over. She surprised me all the time.

   The book is written in two different points of views--Ariane's and Zane's. I enjoyed both very much, as both characters were complex and intriguing. I didn't prefer one over the other. Zane was a great character. He had the perfect balance of dreaminess and flaws.

   The plot was fast-paced, which is always a good thing for me. It kept me hooked through every chapter. I'll admit, quite a few times, things were predictable, but there were also surprising twists.

   The Rules is an extremely enjoyable novel with its perfect combination of romance, suspense, and easy-to-read prose. The first book isn't even out yet, and I'm already dying for the sequel!

   4.5 keys.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Smart Girls Get What They Want by Sarah Strohmeyer

Publication Date: June 26, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Format: ARC
Page Count: 352
SynopsisGigi, Bea, and Neerja are best friends and total overachievers. Even if they aren't the most popular girls in school, they aren't too worried. They know their "real" lives will begin once they get to their Ivy League colleges. There will be ivy, and there will be cute guys in the libraries (hopefully with English accents)! But when an unexpected event shows them they're missing out on the full high school experience, it's time to come out of the honors lounge and into the spotlight. They make a pact: They will each take on their greatest challenge--and they will totally "rock" it.

Gigi decides to run for student rep, but she'll have to get over her fear of public speaking--and go head-to-head with gorgeous California Will. Bea used to be one of the best skiers around, until she was derailed. It could be time for her to take the plunge again. And Neerja loves the drama club but has always stayed behind the scenes--until now.

These friends are determined to show the world that smart girls really can get what they want--but that could mean getting way more attention than they ever bargained for. . . .
Review: I received this book for review a looong time ago, and I am so ashamed to have not read this until now. I wasn't expecting much from this book, to be frank. I was going to read it for the sake of just reading it. But quickly, I became immersed in Gigi's world of academics and best friends. And I immediately decided that: (1) Gigi should be real and be my best friend, and (2) this book is crazy great.

   Gigi is a sophomore, a grade above me, and so I had a personal connection with her. Also, like I am, Gigi is obsessed with her grades. She's a lovely character, and her loyalty to her friends is so firm! I loved it. Bea and Neerja are fabulous best friends. The bond between the three girls is so beautiful. Everyone should have a friendship like these three.

   The characters were just fantastic in this book! I loved Mike so much. He was just the sweetest boy ever. Will, on the other hand, brought a sneer to my face. I liked how friendly Sienna was, despite the "mean popular girl" stereotype, and I loved how much I disliked Ava. The pull I had to each of the characters was really great to experience. I was just so into the book and all the characters! It was so easy to enjoy this novel.

   Sarah Strohmeyer's writing is easy to read and has bursts of delightful humor. Smart Girls Get What They Want takes readers on a lovable ride of smart girls, cute boys, and looking beneath the surface.

   4.5 keys.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Publication Date: October 23, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Format: ARC
Page Count: 544
Synopsis: Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past.

She can’t.

She used to think her problems were all in her head.

They aren’t.

She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets.

She’s wrong.

In this gripping sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the truth evolves and choices prove deadly. What will become of Mara Dyer next?
Review: I remember really liking The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, but I couldn't remember much of the plot or the characters. This proved to be a problem for me when diving into the sequel. Characters would be mentioned and I wouldn't remember who they were. It took me awhile to even realize that Daniel is Mara's older brother, not her younger brother.

   But once I got refreshed, it was easier to read. Because the book was really thick, I think there were lots of parts where things were drawn out unnecessarily. I found myself getting frustrated really easily throughout this novel. There were scenes where I was rolling my eyes, wanting the plot to just move. I think one of my main problems with this book, besides the dragging plot line, was that I didn't connect with Mara. I liked her in the first book, but in this book, I was just annoyed. I wanted her to be more active and--I don't know--on her feet (?) to find things out, instead of being too scared and needing Noah so much.

   The creep factor in this book was definitely high. The scariness of Mara's situations were undoubtedly intense. I got chills and goosebumps, and I couldn't help but pity Mara for being in such a crappy situation. Hopefully, things will get better for her in the third book, because she gets put through so much in this installment.

   The second book once again ends in an awful cliffhanger. But this time, I'm not sure if I'll be too keen on reading the third book. The Evolution of Mara Dyer contains lots of "hold your breath" moments, but it was also a disappointment for me after loving the first book as much as I did. Of course, that's just how I felt, and after looking on Goodreads, it seems like I'm one of the very few that didn't love it!

   2 keys.




Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Publication Date: June 14, 2012
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 395
Synopsis: “One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

A dreamy summer read, full of characters who stay with you long after the story is over.
Review: Wow, Sophia actually finished a book. Who'd have known, right? Well, I'm finally on Thanksgiving break, and so I actually have time to read now. Lord knows I've been too busy for young adult books now that IB has taken over my life. I'm so, so sorry for the lack of activity on the blog. But oh, well. To the actual review!

   I remember being super excited for this book because Katie from Katie's Book Blog compared the level of awesomeness to Anna and the French Kiss. And since AatFK is basically my favorite contemporary ever, you can imagine how high my expectation were. Which is why I was so sad when I started the book and felt... empty. I didn't connect well with Samantha. She seemed sort of detached to me. Her voice wasn't very strong in my head while I was reading and that made me lack invested emotions in the book. The first half of the book was almost boring to me, which left me so disappointed.

   However, once the I got to page 280 or so, I got so absorbed into the story. The plot twist took me completely by surprise and I couldn't stop reading. I wondered why the whole book couldn't be like the last quarter. It was intense, emotional, and some scenes honestly brought tears to my eyes.

   I felt like Jase and Samantha's relationship moved too fast, though I did believe there were genuine feelings for each other. I really like how they dealt with sex. It wasn't a split second decision in a hazy moment of lust. Instead, they talked about it and went shopping together for the necessary things, which was nice to read about.

   Although the last quarter of the book was really amazing, the uneventful first half did detract from my enjoyment of the book. My Life Next Door is a wonderful debut that slowly simmers with the feelings of first love and questions the border between family and morals.

   3.5 keys.



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Blog Tour: Deity by Jennifer L. Armentrout and Giveaways!

Publication Date: November 6, 2012
Publisher: Spencer Hill
Format: ARC
Page Count: 331
Synopsis"History is on repeat, and things didn't go so well the last time. "
Alexandria isn't sure she's going to make it to her eighteenth birthday--to her Awakening. A long-forgotten, fanatical order is out to kill her, and if the Council ever discovers what she did in the Catskills, she's a goner... and so is Aiden. 
If that's not freaky enough, whenever Alex and Seth spend time "training"--which really is just Seth's code word for some up-close and personal one-on-one time--she ends up with another mark of the Apollyon, which brings her one step closer to Awakening ahead of schedule. Awesome. 
But as her birthday draws near, her entire world shatters with a startling revelation and she's caught between love and Fate. One will do anything to protect her. One has been lying to her since the beginning. Once the gods have revealed themselves, unleashing their wrath, lives will be irrevocably changed... and destroyed. 
Those left standing will discover if love is truly greater than Fate...
Review: The amount of awesome in this book surpasses the expectations I had. Deity has to be my favorite book in the series so far!

   I just can't express how much I love this book. Alex is such a kick-butt and relatable heroine. You can't help but feel for her and sympathize with her. With each book, Alex is just climbing her way up on my "favorite heroines" list. In fact, I think the only person in front of her is Tris from Divergent.

   In Half-Blood and Pure, I was all for Seth. I loved him. And then Deity came along, and I wanted to chop his head off (for reasons that will be left unsaid--no spoilers here!). Seriously. On the other hand, I fell in love with Aiden all over again. Alex and Aiden really developed their relationship in this book and as a reader, I basically melted into a puddle every time they were together.

   The plot in this book is intense, as usual. The last quarter, specifically, was particularly nail-bitingly crazy. And the ending? I was left with my mouth hanging open. I was confused and angry and sad and dying for the next book!

   Deity is an incredible and crowd-pleasing installment to the Covenant series with its addictive prose, lovable characters, and jaw-dropping twists in the insane plot. I am positively dying for Apollyon.

   5 keys.

   P.S. This book is released on my birthday! My birthday book. <3>

Now, are you guys ready for some super awesome giveaways? Two are hosted by the host of the blog tour, Valerie from Stuck in Books, and one is hosted by the publisher, Spencer Hill Press!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


a Rafflecopter giveaway


a Rafflecopter giveaway




Monday, September 24, 2012

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Publication Date: June 16, 2009
Publisher: Speak
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 383
Synopsis: It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.


A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.
Review: First thing's first: My copy of this has the new cover. You know the one. All of Sarah's books got makeovers recently. And although I do like the new covers, I'm still extremely fond of the old ones. I mean, look at that cover right above this! It's adorable! I don't know why they changed them. So I'm going to ask you guys: do you prefer the old or new covers? Anyway. To the review.

   I'm a solid fan of Sarah Dessen, although some books are better than others. This is definitely one of the better ones. In fact, Along for the Ride is currently competing with The Truth About Forever in my head for the title of Sophia's Favorite Dessen Book. (To be quite honest, though, TTAF is probably going to win--it just has that special place in my heart.)

   Auden is an intelligent girl. She's a hard-worker and very mature, which made her grow up quickly and took away her opportunities to experience normal teenage girl things, such as slumber parties, sneaking out, parties, etc. She reminded of Macy from TTAK in that way. However, Auden is also very judgmental and afraid, not wanting to go out of her comfort zone.

   That changes when she spends the summer in Colby with her father and stepmother, Heidi. I liked Heidi a lot. She was a character I could sympathize with, and I loved how the reader got to see lots of layers to her. Auden's father, on the other hand, I wanted to slap. Multiple times. Okay, basically every time he was in a scene. But whatever. Auden's new friends, Maggie, Leah, and Esther, were lovely characters. I became very fond of them quickly.

   Like in all of Sarah's books, the protagonist starts off very flat and then gradually blossoms. The plot starts off slow and quite a few pages pass before the reader can really get into the story. And--this is probably everybody's favorite part--there's a swoon-worthy boy.

   Eli was such a great character. I loved him. He was sweet and likable. He said so much but with so few words. Basically, he was a classic Dessen boy.

   I don't know what it was about this book that made it so much more likable than... I don't know, Just Listen or What Happened to Goodbye, but for some reason, I really fell in love with Along for the Ride. Along for the Ride is the perfect read, whether you're at a beach or at home, procrastinating on homework. It has the perfect blend of self-discovery, romance, and happiness.

   4.5 keys.



Saturday, September 22, 2012

Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR
Format: ARC
Page Count: 368
SynopsisBIG GIRLS DON'T CRY...THEY GET EVEN.

Lillia has never had any problems dealing with boys who like her. Not until this summer, when one went too far. No way will she let the same thing happen to her little sister.

Kat is tired of the rumours, the insults, the cruel jokes. It all goes back to one person– her ex-best friend– and she's ready to make her pay.

Four years ago, Mary left Jar Island because of a boy. But she's not the same girl anymore. And she's ready to prove it to him.

Three very different girls who want the same thing: sweet, sweet revenge. And they won't stop until they each had a taste.
Review: If Burn for Burn was a food, I think it'd be potato chips--addictive, enjoyable, but not substantially filling. Let me explain.

   Burn for Burn is definitely an entertaining book. But I guess I was expecting a little more, especially since Jenny Han's Summer series is one of my favorites. The three main characters, Mary, Lillia, and Kat were all fun to read about, as each had their own voice and history, but they lacked the depth I was accustomed to while reading Jenny Han's other books. (I know I'm mentioning Jenny Han a lot, even though she co-wrote it with Siobhan Vivian, but it's because I haven't read much of Siobhan's books. Only one, actually.)

   The plot was definitely really interesting. It kept me turning pages and wanting to know every vengeful act. The revenge plans were so entertaining. I'm not sure if I should feel bad for liking reading about revenge, or if it's just the effect of a good book, but either way, I couldn't help but root for the three girls.

   The ending felt rushed. A lot of things went on within a small number of pages, and I wished the authors could have elaborated more on the ending. Also, the ending felt abrupt. I was looking forward to a more solid conclusion than what was given.

   I will say that I'm pretty hooked on this series! I can't wait for the second and how the revenge story continues. Burn for Burn is an exciting and vengeful story that will keep you turning the pages and wondering about the subtle supernatural elements.

   4 keys.



Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Publication Date: January 3, 2012
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 387
SynopsisHumans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, the ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.
Review: Maybe it's just me, but I didn't really see too many similarities to Cinderella in this book. Frankly, that's a good thing, because Cinderella happens to be my least favorite fairy tale. She always came across to me as a really hopeless girl who only received her wishes because of a fairy godmother. Way to make things happen on your own, Cinderella. But I digress. Cinder (the character) was much different than Cinderella (the princess), and Cinder (the book) was much better than Cinderella (the fairy tale).

   Cinder automatically breaks the mold of the typical YA heroine by being a cyborg. She's different, although there are definitely many similarities between cyborgs and humans. Cinder is a likable character. She's independent, caring, and has the right amount of hotheadedness.

   The plot moves along well. There is always something to keep the reader interested. Scientists are working to find a cure for an awful plague that's spreading throughout New Beijing. Cinder is caught between freedom and revealing her true identity. And on top of that, there's a war on the horizon that seems pretty darn inevitable.

   There was a lot of great things going on for this book. However, there were two big problems for me: the romance and the predictability. Kai is a perfect gentleman, but he somehow lacks that intrigue, that spark that pulls the reader in. He is kind and smart, yes, but there is just something missing. Also, the story was very predictable. It wasn't as exciting as it could have been due to this. Although I'm not sure whether it's because Marissa Meyer did a good job of foreshadowing or if the plot was just particularly predictable, either way, I wish it could've been more surprising.

   Cinder weaves together strands of science fiction, fairy tale, and mystery to create an entertaining and enjoyable novel. It's definitely worth a read!

   4 keys.


*On a personal note* I know I've been very inactive and absent lately, and I'm sorry to say that I don't have a concrete excuse. All I can say is that I just started freshman year of high school in the IB program, and the workload has been overwhelming, especially in math. I've been spending hours doing homework, sleeping early to wake up at six for band practice, etc. It's difficult to keep up with, and it's nearly impossible to find time to read. I hope I can find time for reading and blogging, but until then, I'm afraid my blog will be updated very sporadically. I apologize for the lame excuse.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Paper Towns by John Green

Publication Date: October 16, 2008
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 305
SynopsisQuentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life--dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge--he follows.

After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues--and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.
Review: I'm a fan of John Green's books, so I had high expectations for this one. I'd heard that this book is one of his better ones, and I was very excited to read it.

   I've noticed that all of John's protagonists are pretty similar (minus Hazel from TFioS). They have the same feel to them--not too popular, geeky in an endearing way, and pretty brainy. Quentin was no different. Although I did like Quentin's character for the most part, I found him rather obsessive over Margo. She was all he thought about, and I understand that the mystery surrounds her, but even Margo's friends weren't as invested as Quentin was. It's strange because after their childhood friendship, Margo and Quentin never even spoke to each other before the night she disappeared.

   I think that I would've really loved this book if I liked Margo. However, I just didn't. I mean, I could see why a lot of people did. She did the things that no one dared to. She had spunk and a certain charisma. But for some reason, I just didn't connect with her character. She was difficult to understand. She ran away often and acted rashly. I think because she was such a secretive person, I had a hard time clicking with her.

   Like all of John's books, this book is loaded with metaphors and humor. Honestly, this book had me laughing out loud in several parts, especially throughout the road trip. My goodness, Ben Starling (one of Quentin's friends) was just so hilarious.

   John Green's signature intellectual writing style and subtle humor make Paper Towns a likable book. But it fell a little flat to my expectations.

   3.5 keys.



Monday, August 20, 2012

The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna

Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: ARC
Page Count: 432
Synopsis: Eva’s life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination—an echo. Made by the Weavers as a copy of someone else, she is expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her “other”, if she ever died. Eva studies what Amarra does, what she eats, what it’s like to kiss her boyfriend, Ray. So when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready.

But fifteen years of studying never prepared her for this.
Now she must abandon everything she’s ever known—the guardians who raised her, the boy she’s forbidden to love—to move to India and convince the world that Amarra is still alive.

What Eva finds is a grief-stricken family; parents unsure how to handle this echo they thought they wanted; and Ray, who knew every detail, every contour of Amarra. And when Eva is unexpectedly dealt a fatal blow that will change her existence forever, she is forced to choose: Stay and live out her years as a copy or leave and risk it all for the freedom to be an original. To be Eva.
Review: Usually, I read reviews of a book before reading it myself, but that wasn't the case with The Lost Girl. Maybe that's why I loved it so much, maybe it was just because the book is that great. Either way, though, this book isn't one you want to miss.

   Eva is a character you can't help but like. She might sometimes act rashly, but her heart is in the right place, and her mind is level. She has so much vulnerability, yet loves to act tougher than she is. The fact that she tries her best to put on a brave face in every uncomfortable situation she's put in (and she's placed in a lot) is so admirable.

   There's a lot more to this book than I initially thought. I think this book really focuses on Eva's independence and the morals of the society. There's a lot going on, especially in the repressive position Eva is put under. She wants to break free and be her own person, but the fact that she's an echo causes her much distress and pressure. You can really sympathize with Eva as you read. There's much emotion in this book.

   I really loved the characters in this book. Eva was a fabulous protagonist. Her caretaker in the beginning of the book, Mina Ma, was just hilarious and lovely. Sean, the love interest, was smart and very likable. Matthew, Eva's creator, was icy, mysterious, and yet, although he's somewhat a villain, he also tries to hide his soft side, which I think readers may see a little of. Amarra, Eva's other (the girl she was modeled after), was pretty awful. I hated her along side Eva. Amarra sought out to destroy Eva even before she had a chance to try.

   The Lost Girl really blew me away with the deep emotions it stirred, the extremely readable prose, and the impossibility to put it down. I highly recommend this book. It's one of my favorites of the year.

   5 keys.

 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Giveaway: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Hey, everybody! Thanks to the lovely people at Media Masters Publicity and HarlequinTEEN, I have one copy of Pushing the Limits to give away to one my lucky readers. Are you excited? You should be, because this is one book you don't want to miss.

SynopsisNo one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.
About the author: Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and she remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings and reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.

Writing has given Katie an excuse to pursue her passions. Research for her books has provided her with the amazing opportunity to train with baseball players, ride along in a drag car at ninety-six miles per hour and experience boxing and mixed martial arts. Katie loves to visit schools and talk to teenagers about her research, writing and the truth that no dream is out of reach.

You can find Katie at her website, Twitter, and Facebook.

Also, here's the fantastic book trailer!


Okay, so you guys are excited for the giveaway, right?

Right.

So, here are the rules:

  • Sorry international folk, but only US and Canadian residents are allowed to enter!
  • You can get extra entries by following Katie on Twitter and liking her Facebook page.
  • This giveaway will run until August 31, 2012.
  • The prize will be shipped out by the publisher.
  • The winner will be contacted by email and will have 48 hours to respond with shipping info before a new winner is selected.
  • Fill out the form!

Can't wait to get your hands on Pushing the Limits? You can purchase it online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indie Bound!

Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Frostbite by Richelle Mead

Publication Date: April 10, 2008
Publisher: Razorbill
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 327
SynopsisRose loves Dimitri, Dimitri might love Tasha, and Mason would die to be with Rose...

It’s winter break at St. Vladimir’s, but Rose is feeling anything but festive. A massive Strigoi attack has put the school on high alert, and now the Academy’s crawling with Guardians—including Rose’s hard-hitting mother, Janine Hathaway. And if hand-to-hand combat with her mom wasn’t bad enough, Rose’s tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason’s got a huge crush on her, and Rose keeps getting stuck in Lissa’s head while she’s making out with her boyfriend, Christian! The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy’s not taking any risks... This year, St. Vlad’s annual holiday ski trip is mandatory.

But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only create the illusion of safety. When three friends run away in an offensive move against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. But heroism rarely comes without a price...
Review: I decided to keep on reading the series, even though Vampire Academy didn't exactly suit my fancy. I liked Frostbite significantly more than I did the previous installment, and although I still am not a huge fan of Rose, I think I'm slowly--very slowly--becoming a fan of the series.

   As mentioned before, I'm still not too fond of Rose. I will admit that she is a more likable character than in the first book, but I still had a few problems. She sometimes acted very immaturely and she was just so fickle when it came to boys. She basically had three boys wrapped around her finger and she lead each of them on in a different way. No me gusta. Thankfully, just like in VA, she got better as the page number increased. She pulled off some really kick-butt things and, despite some eye-roll-worthy outbursts, Rose matured as a character.

   Frostbite really improved in many ways, such as character development, romantic relations (mainly between Rose and Dimitri), and plot. I felt like there was more going on in this book. Also, although I'm not swooning over him, I can see why so many readers like Dimitri. He's a cool guy. Though with Adrian being introduced, I can be convinced either way. ;)

   With new characters and gradual, yet certain, development, Frostbite is an extremely readable addition to the Vampire Academy series. I hope I like the next book even more.

   3.5 keys.



Sunday, August 5, 2012

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead


Publication Date: August 16, 2007
Publisher: Razorbill
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 332
SynopsisSt. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger...
Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

Review: After being told so many times by a close blogging friend to read this book, I finally got myself a copy. With the huge fanbase and hype around this series, I had these expectations:
  • a lovable, kick-butt heroine
  • a swoon-worthy love interest
  • lots of similarities to Half-Blood (or vice versa)
  • an all around amazing "omg new favorite" book
   Unfortunately... you guys know how this sentence is going to end--I was a bit disappointed. Mostly with the main character. Rose is a very popular and loved heroine around the blogosphere. However, I didn't like her all that much (*raises shield to block the hate I know I'm going to get*). She came across as very rude, jealous, and pompous. She thought she was better than everybody else, she was extremely infatuated with all things boy, and--my goodness--her self esteem was higher than the Empire State Building. She constantly reminded the reader that her body was very curvy and desirable. She constantly deemed other students at the academy "lame" or "boring" which her best friend called her out on a few times. As for her jealousy, oh my goodness. Rose ruined her best friend's friendship with a boy for a lot of the book because she was jealous. She patched it up later, but seriously, to do that to your best friend? Awful. Fortunately, I did really like her starting from the last third of the book. She brought out her kick-butt side. She was also very loyal. But all in all, Rose Hathaway did not float my boat.

   Even though Rose was not my favorite heroine ever, I did enjoy some other characters, particularly Lissa. Lissa is Rose's best friend and has a lot going on. She's special. She's kind. And she also has some darkness in her. I really sympathized with Lissa, much more than I did Rose. I found Lissa more enjoyable and relatable. I also loved Christian. I would actually like to read a book in Lissa's point of view, both because I like Lissa and because I want some more Christian. 

   As for Rose's love interest, the blogger-famous Dimitri Belikov... I expected a little more from him. He was a pretty nice guy, though I didn't find myself swooning over him. As a reader, I didn't get to see him often, so I don't really have any strong feelings towards him.

   I did a lot of similarities to Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout, probably more than two published books should have. But after the first books, both series go off in completely different directions, so I'm not too bothered.

   I felt like nothing really happened for the first half of the book. But once the plot got rolling, I was absorbed. I definitely think that I liked the book more and more as the page number increased. Considering this, I think I might try the next book in the series. One thing that I really, really loved about this book was the ending. It was so satisfying and a non-cliffhanger (thank goodness--I'm so tired of cliffhanger endings).

   2.5 keys.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Publication Date: September 11, 2012
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Format: eGalley
Page Count: 370
SynopsisKami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.


But all that changes when the Lynburns return.


The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?
Review: I was expecting something completely different when I first picked this book up after reading the synopsis. Right from the beginning, there's a letter to the reader from the editor, and you know--this book is completely unique.

   This book is a mix of many things. It has tons of humor, a huge mystery, and a fairly small dose of romance. Let me elaborate on the humor. This book is pretty hilarious. The dialogue between characters, especially from our main character Kami, is witty, sarcastic, and I loved it. The mystery is just crazy. Sometimes, I felt like it took the backseat, but overall, it was a huge part of the story. And the romance? The romance drove me insane--especially the ending.

   Kami is a great protagonist. I didn't have powerful feelings towards her, but I liked her wit and her quirkiness. She's determined, intelligent, and entertaining. I didn't specifically love any of the characters. They didn't exactly leap off the pages, but I did like them well enough. Angela and Holly, Kami's friends, are just wonderful additions to the cast--maybe my favorite characters in the book, actually.

   Now, let's get to the Lynburn boys. There's a bit of a love triangle in this book, but Sarah Rees Brennan writes her romance in a very subtle way. I was expecting a lot more of it when I started, but I quickly realized that it wasn't a very big part in the story. Ash is a nice boy, but he's just... boring. Whereas, due to Kami's connection with him, Jared is exciting and intriguing.

   The plot is strangely paced. It starts out consistent, but might slow down a few times. Then near the last quarter of the book, there is just so much going on! Excitement builds, revelations unravel, everything is chaos--and then you get to the ending. And it completely broke my heart. The ending is definitely the opposite of a happily ever after.

   Unspoken is a thrilling mystery that'll either have you laughing or racing to flip the pages. I definitely need to check out the sequel when it comes out!

   4 keys.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

Publication Date: November 13, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte
Format: eGalley
Page Count: 256
SynopsisMeant 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.
Review: This book! This book, you guys. It had me:

  • Staying up till 4am finishing it
  • Wishing it had far more pages than it actually does
  • Crying
  • Laughing
  • Wanting it to be November 13, 2012 already so that I could have a finished copy in my hands
   This book had an addicting factor to it that wouldn't let me put it down. Not that I minded. I was so engrossed in the story that I was happy to keep on turning pages--until I got to the last ten pages, of course. Then I wished that it would have fifty more so that I could keep reading.

   The main characters are Julia and Jason, who are assigned to be "buddies" for the buddy system. Problem is, Jason is an annoying troublemaker and Julia is a rigid "book licker." (No, seriously, that's her nickname, you guys.) Neither character is particularly likable and they both have a fair share of flaws. It's easy to get frustrated with either of them, but at the same time, it's so easy to fall in love with them as well. 

   I liked Julia a lot. She's a rule-follower and, unlike the rest of her class, wants to actually experience London and its culture. Sometimes, she could be way too strict, or would overreact too much, but all in all, I really enjoyed her character and reading through her point of view. I also liked Jason a lot. He's a huge goofball and likes to have fun (sometimes, too much of it), but he could also be incredibly infuriating and... well, douche-y. Both main characters had their flaws, but it just made them that much more real and likable.

   The romance was lovely. I can understand why some readers might think it's too insta-lovey, considering the book is set over only a few days, but I didn't feel like that at all. The relationships in this novel build slowly and deeply, so I didn't feel any rush to the romance. All I felt was that warm mushy-gushy feeling when you read something adorable.

   The plot was definitely extremely predictable, and I think that's probably the biggest issue I had with the book. I could usually guess most of the plot twists early on in the book, and when everything was revealed and confessions were pouring out, I wasn't surprised. 

   In conclusion, Meant to Be is an outstanding debut that left me wanting more pages--or maybe just another book by the talented Lauren Morrill!

   4.5 keys.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Format: eGalley
Page Count: 358
SynopsisSurrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.


Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.


Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.
Review: After hearing so much praise for this book, I tried my best to lower my expectations. After all, I didn't want to end up being disappointed. However, after reading the first three chapters of this book, I knew that I was hooked completely.

   Alina is the main character and for the most part, I loved her. She had a stubbornness and a loneliness that were very relatable. I connected with her very well and found her admirable. The secondary characters felt flat to me, though. The character that stood out to me was the Darkling. I found him the most intriguing. He was so complex and interesting, I found myself getting more excited when he was in a scene.

   The writing was very plain and sometimes felt dry to me. The writing wasn't particularly noteworthy, but Leigh Bardugo certainly writes compellingly. She knows how to keep the plot moving quickly and the reader entertained. There were times when I'd feel that there wasn't much happening, but that feeling never lasted very long. There were many twists in the plot that I didn't see coming.

   The romance was just crazy. I had heard so much about the Darkling before reading the book myself, so I was so surprised when I realized that I liked his character. He had a certain charm to him that I was drawn to. For those who've read this book, you probably know why that didn't last. As for Mal, at first I didn't like him. But then, gradually, I became more and more fond of him, as he showed more of himself to Alina.

   Shadow and Bone is an impressive debut that stands out with its likable protagonist, original love story, and unique plot line.

   I'm seriously so torn between 4 and 4.5 keys. I can't decide! Maybe 4.25 keys?
OR




Friday, June 15, 2012

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

Publication Date: October 26, 2011
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Format: eBook
Page Count: 368
SynopsisTo cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.

Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl— smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.

With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end— a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side.

To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale.

And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Review: This book is different from the other books in the Iron Fey series because it's told through Ash's point of view, rather than Meghan's. Julie Kagawa does a fantastic job of switching POVs, in my opinion. Sometimes, when authors switch POVs, it's unconvincing. I might be confused as to whether it's Character 1 or Character 2 narrating. But while reading The Iron Knight, there was no confusion. I felt like Ash's voice sounded distinctly different compared to Meghan's.

   Ash has never been a character that I particularly loved. The Iron Knight didn't exactly change that. However, we definitely learn a lot about him, as he is our main character. This new knowledge includes the crimes that he's committed, the awful things he's done, and his true personality. This knowledge also includes his genuine feelings and kind heart. Readers can definitely tell that Ash is a good person, despite his history.

   I feel like this book wasn't quite as action packed as the previous one. There was a lot going on, but I still felt like it could have had something, just a little bit, more in it. Maybe it's because I took longer reading this book than I did The Iron Queen, but I think that this book lacked the intensity of the previous installment.

   The ending was so perfect. Almost too perfect, really. Everything was tied up nicely into a little, decorative bow. I expected at least something to be a little bittersweet, but instead, it was like a Disney fairy tale ending. If I weren't so keen on Meghan and Ash having their well deserved happy ending, I might've been irritated.

   The Iron Knight is the perfect conclusion to a remarkable series, complete with a memorable adventure and a romantic happily ever after.

   4 keys.


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