Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday 5/30/12

SPARK by Amy Cathleen Ryan

Waverly and Kieran are finally reunited on the Empyrean. Kieran has led the boys safely up to this point, and now that the girls are back, their mission seems slightly less impossible: to chase down the New Horizon, and save their parents from the enemy ship. But nothing is truly as it seems…Kieran’s leadership methods have raised Seth’s hackles— and Waverly’s suspicions. Is this really her fiancĂ©? The handsome, loving boy she was torn from just a short time before? More and more, she finds her thoughts aligned with Seth’s. But if Seth is Kieran’s Enemy No. 1, what does that make her?

In one night, a strange explosion rocks the Empyrean—shooting them off course and delaying their pursuit of the New Horizon—and Seth is mysteriously released from the brig. Seth is the most obvious suspect for the explosion, and Waverly the most obvious suspect for releasing him. As the tension reaches a boiling point, will Seth be able to find the true culprit before Kieran locks them both away—or worse? Will Waverly follow her heart, even if it puts lives at risk? With the balance of power precarious and the clock ticking, every decision counts… every step brings them closer to a new beginning, or a sudden end...

The first book in this series, Glow, blew me away with it's awesomeness. Ryan set up a really cool world in space, with fun characters that captured my attention from the very beginning. This second book sounds like it is picking up right where the first left off, and I will be grateful to get back into the lives of Kieran and Waverly!

Release Date: July 17, 2012

Monday, May 28, 2012

Torn by Cat Clarke

I have devoured another book by Cat Clarke. What? You've never heard of her? Check out my review of her first book, Entangled. Then go and get your own copies to read!

Torn is a serious and engaging novel. I read it in one sitting. It tackles the issue of school-bullying that goes too far, a topic that is all over the news these days. I really liked how Tara was portrayed as being such the total bitch, but then Alice also saw some of the more human and kind side to her as well. It made me wonder if Tara really didn't deserve what she got. But I guess that was the point, because Cass was a horrifying girl. And Polly too, with her quiet rage. All of these girls were very real though, very true to life. The way they spoke, and felt - with Alice struggling between the horror over Tara and her budding love with Jake - so very well written. They could have been in any high school, in any city. My heat ached for Alice, turned to ice around Cass and Tara, and wanted a hug from Alice's Dad that told me everything was going to be okay. The signs of a great writer is when I feel so many emotions while reading a book.

I found the story to be much like Sisters of Mercy, by Megan Kelley Hall. Fans of hers will definitely like this book. And stay tuned for my review of her next book, whenever it gets published. Please hurry, Cat Clarke, I want more!

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, May 25, 2012

Bound by Book-To-Movie Law: The Descendants

Book-to-Movie Law states that once you have read the book, you are bound by the media to go see the movie based on said book, and therefor compare to two.

The Descendants is a beautiful book. An aching, engrossing, sad, inspiring book. A book I wanted to hold close to my chest. A book I wanted everyone around me to read. And then came the movie. I actually read this book after the movie came out, so my mind used George Clooney's voice while I read it. I liked having the actors to imagine in my mind while reading, something that doesn't happen very often and doesn't always work. But then I saw the movie and it was instantly perfect. George Clooney is perfect for this role. Alex and Scottie are just right, too. It was a good movie. Not an Oscar-worthy movie, but a good movie.

Except for one major complaint. The movie left out all of the cutest, most tender moments of the book! Without giving away too much, I was dismayed that there were no Minor Wars, middle finger training, and shark chase scenes. Those parts of the book were some of the very best pieces of the story, and would have translated really well to the screen. Alas, the movie rushed through these parts, leaving out important characterization. I also think there should have been more VO from Clooney. Not just because he has a totally sexy voice, but because his constant thoughts on being a Dad to his daughters, he wife, and her lover are incredibly raw and honest. The movie could have definitely benefited from more voice over!

Bottom Line: The book wins, especially if you are looking for a deeply moving read. The movie is just entertaining fluff.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday 5/23/12

DEFIANCE by C.J. Redwine

Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

An author I have never read before, but this premise is make me drool with anticipation! I only hope that it is not too crazy of a fantasy book, and more of a post-apocalyptic story. Has anyone out there read this yet?

Release Date: August 28, 2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman

This is going to be a bummer review to write. It is with great sadness that I tell you I was unable to finish this book.

No matter how hard I tried, I could not get into this book. The premise had promise (a book about a book!), it's a well-respected author, and I was excited for the release. But I just couldn't do it. Could barely get to page 100, which is my standard for giving a book a solid try. Really, if you can't hook me from the very first page or chapter, it will be hard to get me later on.

So what went wrong? The writing was good enough, though I have not read anything else by Wasserman to compare it to. The characters were interesting, too, though I felt completely distanced from them right from the beginning. I think maybe there was just not enough action to start things off. The pace moved too slow. Or there wasn't enough exposition to keep me hooked on the Chris or Nora enough to care about them when there was the little bit of action that occurred. For such a lengthy book, I personally needed more to get me started than what was provided.

Has anyone else experienced this? Please let me know!

Overall Rating: 2 Stars

Friday, May 18, 2012

Delirium Cover Talk

Sometimes I think it would be absolutely fascinating to be part of a book cover design team. They have the fun and strenuous job of picking the perfect cover art to fully represent the book. A cover can't give too much away, but also has to tease and tantalize enough to get readers to pick up the book. This time I would like to spotlight Lauren Oliver's Delirium for cover talk.

When the ARC arrived to me, it looked like this.
Intriguing and interesting pose for Miss Lena. Honestly, as much as the story sounded fascinating, this cover would be better suited for a paranormal angel-human story. The grey skies and black birds didn't do much for me. But then the hardcover was published with this cover.
My first reaction was to want the ARC cover back, with an actual girl on the front. Surprisingly though, I warmed up to this book very quickly. I loved the font treatment and photo of Lena in the background. A cover that makes you have to look very closely in order to see everything. I went out and bought the beautiful hardcover for better placement on my bookshelf. Only then something weird happened. An enhanced Hardcover version of the book came out, with a total new art direction and style.
What?? Again, I felt like saying "No! Keep the beautiful covers with mystery and shiny metallic ink!" There is no doubt that this cover is very stunning, but was it necessary to change it again? Perhaps the pretty colors and more visible girly face will gather larger numbers of readers in stores. In my opinion, it doesn't speak more to the actual story that the two covers that came before it, but maybe I am mistaken. The paperback has this cover as well. As much as I would love my trilogy to match, I do not think I will buy this version. So the second in the series will look like this.
So very gorgeous, I know. Will they stick with this style? Or will it change again? Only time will tell!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday 5/16/12

THE SWEETEST SPELL bu Suzanne Selfors

Emmeline Thistle has always had a mysterious bond with cows, beginning on the night of her birth, when the local bovines saved the infant cast aside to die in the forest. But Emmeline was unaware that this bond has also given her a magical ability to transform milk into chocolate, a very valuable gift in a kingdom where chocolate is more rare and more precious than gold or jewels. Then one day Owen Oak, a dairyman’s son, teaches Emmeline to churn milk into butter—and instead she creates a delicious chocolate confection that immediately makes her a target for every greedy, power-hungry person in the kingdom of Anglund. Only Owen loves Emmeline for who she truly is, not her magical skill. But is his love enough to save her from the danger all around her?

Selfors writes truly magical stories, that transport me into a world where the impossible can exist. I adore her books. I just love the fantasy, fairy-tale premise of this next one, and can't wait to sink my teeth into it!

Release Date: August 21, 2012

Monday, May 14, 2012

Fear Street Flashback (28)

Why? Because FEAR STREET was like, my favorite series growing up.

Originally released in May, 1997.

Despite the premise being pretty campy, I really like this Fear Street book. It's got a lot of things that the others don't have. Like a plot that heavy on sports, school politics, and animal rights. Marty is great, with his hatred of the cat that torments basketball practice conflicting with his guilt of injuring the poor creature. The girls were a super creepy type of bitchy. I enjoyed them very much, and felt scared for poor Marty. The small bit of paranormal was cool to see. With so many cold-blooded killers living in Shadyside, it was refreshing to see some good old-fashioned were-cats. I bet they would make lovely pets! Another odd occurance for Fear Street books is the rather abrupt and open ending. All of these things added up to be a great read. One of my favorites, for sure!

Fear Rating: 3 out of 3 Screams

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova

Ahh... even with so many mermaid stories being released this year, it feels like it has been a while since I actually read one. It was good to get wet with the Vicious Deep!

I loved the voice of a male narrator, written by a female author. Very witty and sly and humorous! In some places the dialog felt a little over-the-top and trite, but it did not take away from the overall enjoyment of the characters. Tristan trying to get through the last two weeks of high school as a "changed" man was a great setting for the story. And the descriptions of him changing were refreshingly gruesome.

It's a little hokey in some places, with the plot of merfolk walking around on land. But sometimes it is more fun to have paranormal elements mixed in with real life, rather than trying to bring the reader completely into a new world. I also wanted to see more of Layla. As a central character in the story, I didn't think we really saw enough of her at all. The romance between her and Tristan was frustratingly vague, as well. Whenever Tristan pined for her but didn't act on it, I got frustrated with him. But the other characters in Kurt, Thalia, The Sea King, and even Maddy added their own value to the story.

This was Zoraida Cordova's debut novel, and I see a lot of potential from her. The second book in this series is currently titled The Savage Blue, and I expect to see more fabulous scenes (underwater?!?) and expertly funny lines.

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday 5/9/12

WHERE WE BELONG by Emily Giffin

Marian Caldwell is a thirty-six year old television producer, living her dream in New York City. With a fulfilling career and satisfying relationship, she has convinced everyone, including herself, that her life is just as she wants it to be. But one night, Marian answers a knock on the door . . . only to find Kirby Rose, an eighteen-year-old girl with a key to a past that Marian thought she had sealed off forever. From the moment Kirby appears on her doorstep, Marian’s perfectly constructed world—and her very identity—will be shaken to its core, resurrecting ghosts and memories of a passionate young love affair that threaten everything that has come to define her.

For the precocious and determined Kirby, the encounter will spur a process of discovery that ushers her across the threshold of adulthood, forcing her to re-evaluate her family and future in a wise and bittersweet light. As the two women embark on a journey to find the one thing missing in their lives, each will come to recognize that where we belong is often where we least expect to find ourselves—a place that we may have willed ourselves to forget, but that the heart remembers forever.

Even without the endearing premise, I would still be chomping at the bit to get my paws on this book. As a huge fan of Giffin, I will read anything she writes. This latest book sounds like another winner, with a little bit of mystery on the side.

Release Date: July 24, 2012

Monday, May 7, 2012

Fictional Recipes (3)

This recipe is brought to you from an adorable mermaid story. Super yummy book to begin with, but then there's a recipe for Chocolate Mug Cake in the back. CHOCOLATE CAKE for my everyday mug. Sold! I couldn't wait to try it out.

4 tbs flour
4 tbs sugar
2 tbs cocoa

Mix together. Then add
1 egg

Mix again. Then add
3 tbs milk
3 tbs oil
1 capful of vanilla extract

Mix together. cook in microwave for 3 minutes. Warning! Cake and mug will be hot when it comes out of the microwave!

When all ingredients were mixed and cooked, my cake looked like this. Not too shabby, no? It looked like a cake-y, really thick cocoa. But then I took a bite. Delicious! The taste was very home-made. No artificial ingredients. I could taste the sugar and vanilla individually. Pretty good. The best part though, was waiting for me at the bottom. There was this very rich layer of syrup stuff at the bottom of the mug, almost like pure chocolate syrup. Only so much better. From the milk, maybe? Hot and rich! A delightful treat! I am hoping to see another yummy recipe in the sequel, Real Mermaids Don't Hold Their Breath!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

Wendy Higgins has surprised me with her debut novel, and I am quite pleased.

At first I was a little put off by the preachy don't-take-drugs or have have sex message, but this soon faded as more secrets were revealed. I totally got into the sensory powers that Anna had. Subtle, but she already had them well tamed. Hooray for a heroine that takes her powers into her own control! Kaidan is equally hot and frustrating. I can see how Anna struggles with wanting to kiss him and punch him. I had a little trouble with his age and accent, in that it felt like Higgins had to constantly remind the reader of those two facts. Whereas if there were no British accent, then it wouldn't have mattered. They were insignificant details for the plot anyway. And the other friends - like Jay, sweet, friendly Jay - and Kaidan's freinds, were nice additions to the character pool, but also unnecessary to the plot. The story felt too overcrowded with everyone present, and far too empty with just Kaidan and Anna.

Still, I did enjoy this book. It was a quick read, despite being over 400 pages in length. Time travels pretty quickly in the story, with Anna graduating at the beginning, then blasting through summer and the new school year with lightening speed. Pick it up and give it a shot. This is a book that is sure to make you think.

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday 5/2/12

THE FORESAKEN by Lisa Stasse

As an obedient orphan of the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the U.S., and Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna can’t help but stand out when she fails a test that all sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity for brutal violence, and so she is sent to The Wheel, an island where all would-be criminals end up. The life expectancy of prisoners on The Wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and the other prisoners concoct a potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible, but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway.

This book has been getting a lot of recent buzz through the internets, and has totally captured my interest. It sounds like a techno, dystopian thriller, and I can't wait to check it out! Love the cover, too.

Release Date: July 10, 2012