Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Great Recommendation

I've always said that I'll take a good book recommendation any day of the week!  It's how I've found so many of my favorite titles and fantastic authors...there's just too much out there for us to really believe that we can possibly find all the precious gems in the literary world on our own.  So when I got an email from one of my all time favorite authors, Jennifer Murgia, with a book and series recommendation I jumped right on it. I headed over to Goodreads to get the scoop on this new (to me) series to see what it was all about and if sounded like something that I'd like.  And here's what I found...

Legacy (Legacy, #1) by Molly Cochran

When her widowed father dumps 16-year-old Katy Jessevar in a boarding school in Whitfield, Massachusetts, she has no idea that fate has just opened the door to both her future and her past. Nearly everyone in Whitfield is a witch, as is Katy herself, although she has struggled all her life to hide her unusual talents. 

Stuck at a boarding school where her fellow students seem to despise her, Katy soon discovers that Whitfield is the place where her mother committed suicide under mysterious circumstances when Katy was just a small child. With dark forces converging on Whitfield, it's up to Katy to unravel her family's many secrets to save the boy she loves and the town itself from destruction.

**And the series obviously doesn't stop there...

Poison (Legacy, #2) by Molly Cochran

Arthurian legend mixes with modern-day witchcraft in this haunting sequel to Legacy, which Publishers Weekly said “should please the legions of paranormal fans looking for a sophisticated supernatural thriller.” After the riveting—and romantic—events of Legacy, Katy has won Peter’s heart and is nowclaiming her place in the magical world. Though half the students at her boarding school come from witching lines, the use of magic is expressly forbidden at Ainsworth, so as to keep the witching world hidden from the blue-blooded preppies, aka Muffies, who also walk the halls.

     But the Muffies have at least a notion of magic, because Katy catches them staging a made-up ritual—and to her astonishment, the girls collapse at Katy’s feet and fall into comas. When Katy is blamed, she becomes desperate to clear her name and finds herself battling all odds to harness her growing magical powers in order to save the Muffies and dispel the Darkness once more.

**So what do you guys think?  Doesn't it sound great?  I can't believe that I haven't come across this series before but regardless I'm glad I've got friends like Jennifer looking out for me and sending these great recommendations my way!  I've been told by Cochran that the third installment in the series has been picked up and will be hitting shelves in December of this year so I'm glad that I've got some time to catch up on the series before it's release.  It's also nice to know in the back of my mind that when I finish up with the first two titles that I won't have to wait for what feels like forever before being able to dive right into the next installment!

Have you guys read anything by Cochran before?  If you did what did you think?  If you're new to all this like me, head over to Molly's website to check things out.  Like always, if anyone else has any good recommendations please send them my way...I'm always on the lookout and appreciate the helpful hints!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

ARC Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard

This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.

When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

Talk about a pleasant surprise!  I'm having trouble thinking of where to even begin with this review.  I have to say that this read was haunting, maddening, exhilarating and downright magical from start to finish!  Howard took a classic story that was always a favorite of mine and managed to have me falling in love with both the original story lines and this new twisted version as well.  The journey was a confusing (in the best possible way) and action packed, fast ride all the way through.  Readers will have a hard time separating reality from fiction and will feel like they're going through each and every obstacle and test right along side of Alyssa.

Jeb was endearing and wonderful.  Morpheus was downright addicting and dangerous.  He turned out to be a combination of characters with a few new additional characteristics as well that proved to be a winning combination.  I could only sympathize with Alyssa when she came face to face with all these decisions and revelations.  The Mad Hatter, Chessie, Red, and the white rabbit are all back and more interesting and surprising than ever!

With each turn of the page I found myself wanting to take up drinking tea instead of boring old coffee, avoid clams for dinner ever again, and watching my steps when coming close to any type of flower or insect.  I'm not quite sure I'll ever be able to look at these things the same way from here on out.

If you're a fan of the classic Carroll tale, there's no way you'll be able to resist this read, and if you're not or have never read the original class, I still find it hard to believe that readers won't find themselves falling in love with this unique and fresh new voice in YA literature!

I gave Splintered by A.G. Howard 5 shamrocks!!!!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Most Frustrating Characters Ever

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish.  This feature was created because they're particularly fond of lists at The Broke and the Bookish (and who isn't?). They're all about creating new lists including a little bit of everything and I've been meaning to participate for so long but always seemed to get behind.  So here we are and hopefully you'll head over to their page and check out what everyone else put up for this week's Top Ten.

Where to begin?  Just kidding.  But I think we can all agree that from time to time we wish we could knock some sense into a character here or there, or at least be able to give them some of our opinions and advice.  Most of my frustration admittedly seems to revolve around female characters not going straight for the male characters I think they belong with, but not all.  Here are a few of mine.

Top Ten Most Frustrating Character #1:  Celaena - Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1) by Sarah J. Maas

It burns me up when female characters don't go for the male characters (see I told you) I think are perfect for them.  I know best right?  Just kidding, but the frustration is there no matter what, and Celaena was one of those female leads.

Top Ten Most Frustrating Character #2:  Drew - The Watchers series by Veronica Wolff

In Drew's case she not only gravitated towards the "wrong" guys in my opinion, but she ignored the sound advice given to her by trusted friends.  She's impulsive, aggressive and brave; all things I both love about her and what frustrates me to no end.

Top Ten Most Frustrating Character #3:  Trella - Insider series by Maria V. Snyder

No trust!  I get that her character doesn't live in Utopia and is without a lot of friends, but come on.   I realize her character adapted over time and will continue to do so (or at least I hope she will) but at times I wanted to rush the process along a bit faster for my benefit.

Top Ten Most Frustrating Character #4:  Four - Divergent series by Veronica Roth

Too passive aggressive for my nerves.  Watching and observing and a heck of a lot of waiting and the suspense was killing me.  I think it's because Roth made his character so unique.  He was mysterious, surprisingly kind at unexpected moments, complex at others, readers couldn't help but want him to break out of his concealing shell so that we could figure him out for ourselves.

Top Ten Most Frustrating Character #5:  Kylie - Shadow Falls series by C.C. Hunter

Pick Derek!  Please pick Derek!  I don't always go towards the "nice guys" but in Derek's case I do.  He's literature romantic perfection and I'm on his team all the way.  If C.C. Hunter wants to make me happy (because I'm sure that's her goal) than she'll have Kylie and Derek getting their happily ever after.

Top Ten Most Frustrating Character #6:  Clio - Solid series by Shelley Workinger

Big mistake made...almost cost her big time.  Without throwing spoilers into the mix all I can say is that when characters have a good thing going for them, why must they do something they know will screw things up  I realize I'm talking as if the characters are make the decisions for themselves and not the authors, but it's the same concept.  Workinger had me very sad a time or two with the decisions she had Clio making.

Top Ten Most Frustrating Character #7:  King Tohon - Healer series by Maria V. Snyder

Leave Avry alone!  This guy is no good and while that makes him a perfect villain, it frustrates me by leaps and bounds.  He's relentless, smart and cunning, tenacious and out for blood and domination.  He's not going to settle for less than everything so I'm waiting for someone to stop him...hopefully very soon.

Top Ten Most Frustrating Character #8:  Artemis - Artemis Lupine series by Catherine Banks

Each book in the series gave me new frustrations revolving around her character.  Her lack of acceptance, her stubborn streak, and her indecision, you name it and it bugged me at one point or another.

Top Ten Most Frustrating Character #9:  Lacey - The Crescent series by Jordan Deen

Stay away from Alex and go with Brandon.  it's very fact Deen made it her character's actual destiny by making them mates and she still dug in her heels!  It drove me up the wall and made me want to shake her repeatedly.  I'll admit that she finally came around but it sure seemed like she took her good old time getting there.

Top Ten Most Frustrating Character #10:  Katsa - Graceling series by Kristin Cashore

I get it, I really do.  She had it more than tough growing up, but when it takes characters too long to take down their emotional walls it makes me anxious.  readers end up wanting to help these characters and obviously that's not possible due to the fact that they're fictional of course.  This is where the anxiety turns into frustration.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

In My Mailbox (78)

This is a meme that I first heard about from Kristi over at The Story Siren and immediately wanted to jump on board. I'm always picking up new books, because I never tire of reading, but the other thing I like about this meme is that it gives everyone an opportunity to check out what other book fanatics, bloggers, etc... got for themselves. I've gotten great recommendations from this meme and hope that keeps up in the future.

Here's what I got, what did you guys get this week?

For Review:

Legacy of the Clockwork Key (Secret Order of Modern Amusmentists, #1) by Kristin Bailey (Thanks to Simon Pulse)

A teen girl unravels the mysteries of a secret society and their most dangerous invention in this adventure-swept romance set in Victorian London.When a fire consumes Meg’s home, killing her parents and destroying both her fortune and her future, all she has left is the tarnished pocket watch she rescued from the ashes. But this is no ordinary timepiece. The clock turns out to be a mechanical key—a key that only Meg can use—that unlocks a series of deadly secrets and intricate clues that Meg is compelled to follow.

Meg has uncovered evidence of an elite secret society and a dangerous invention that some will stop at nothing to protect—and that Meg alone can destroy. Together with the handsome stable hand she barely knows but hopes she can trust, Meg is swept into a hidden world of deception, betrayal, and revenge. The clockwork key has unlocked her destiny in this captivating start to a trilogy.

The Wrap-Up List by Steven Arnston (Thanks to Houghton Miflin Books for Children)

In this modern-day suburban town, one percent of all fatalities come about in the most peculiar way. Deaths—eight-foot-tall, silver-gray creatures—send a letter (“Dear So-and-So, your days are numbered”) to whomever is chosen for a departure, telling them to wrap up their lives and do the things they always wanted to do before they have to “depart.” When sixteen-year-old Gabriela receives her notice, she is, of course devastated. Will she kiss her crush Sylvester before it’s too late?

Friendship, first love, and fantasy artfully mesh in this magically realistic world that ultimately celebrates life.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Debut Author Challenge 2013

We've talked about it before, most of us in the blogosphere have participated in it one year or another, and it's back for 2013!  The Debut Author Challenge is something I mentioned as a part of one of my bookish goals for 2013 and I plan on not just participating in it, but I'll be doing that regularly and also to completion. Normally in the past it has been hosted by Krisi over at The Story Siren but this year Hobbitsies has taken on the challenge and role of playing host.  Hats off to that blog because this has to be a HUGE undertaking but one that I know everyone is appreciative of, I know I am!  To get all the information if you're looking you can head on over and check out all the details, but here's the gist of it.

We're helping debut authors out with exposure while also getting the chance to check their new releases out for ourselves, but I think this goes for everyone, I managed to find out about a ton of titles over the years through this challenge only because other participants had posted their reviews.  So you can definitely expect an overflowing amount of recommendations that you'll want to add to your TBR lists.

The challenge is asking each participant to come up with twelve titles (debuts obviously) to read and review in 2013.  You can read as many as you want but you'll only be eligible for the grand prize at the end of the challenge if you're read the minimum of twelve or more.

The rules are laid out very clearly on the challenge page over at Hobbitsies but basically the only titles that will count are YA or middle grade 2013 debut reads.  The challenge goes from January 1, 2013 thru January 31, 2014 so that all the December debuts can be read as well.  Your reading and reviews must all fall into this period of time.  Each review equates to one entry in the monthly prize pack, so the more reviews you post each month, the more entries you've made yourself eligible for within the contest.

So I'm starting to get my list together and I'm saying it right now, there is just no way I'll be able to limit myself to only twelve titles for this challenge.  Not sure how many I'll be able to get through but I'm going to compile my list and do my best to work my way through as many as I can and see how it all turns out!  Let me know if you guys are signing up and what you'll be reading, recommendations and titles I can add to my own list are always more than appreciated!!!

Happy Reading and Good Luck!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Guest Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I'm very excited to have a guest reviewer on the blog today!!!  I've been wanting to get this started and make it a regular thing for a while and now I finally can.  My cousin and fellow bibliophile, Ashley has recently finished Green's latest work and volunteered to write an post a review for it for the blog.  So please give her a big welcome and thank you so much again Ashley for contributing to the blog, and PLEASE come back anytime you've read a read that you'd like to review and share!!!  She's the best!!

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now. 

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault. 

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

This book has had buzz surrounding it since it was published last year. I’ve heard of it, but the real reason I finally picked it up was that my (high school) students had been circulating the book like crazy, in fact, some of them demanded that I read it because it was so good. When I finally picked it up off my shelf, I was wary to start. Did I really want to read a story about a kid with cancer?

After reading the first few chapters, I was hooked. Hazel is our main character, who has stage IV cancer and is sixteen years old. At the cancer support group, which is full of other kids who have various stages of cancer, she meets Augustus Waters, another cancer survivor. He wins her over with his charm and their shared sense of humor. It’s a pleasure to watch their romance blossom.  They change each other’s lives. The two of them are smart beyond their years. Since they are both dealing with cancer they struggle with questions everyone eventually ponders (except years sooner)- Does my life have a meaning? Will I be remembered?

It seems as if most authors that write YAL want to sugar coat their character’s feelings, to try to make things sound better when they aren’t. Green does a phenomenal job of capturing true emotion in these characters. When you have kids meeting at a cancer support group, things aren’t awesome for them, when things aren’t going well, the characters call it like it is.

I have to admit, I have an author’s crush on John Green now. The way he weaved literary references into his story had me cheering and jumping up and down (internally). So many authors out there try a little too hard to reference other novels or books, Green makes references masterfully.

I haven’t read a book in a long time where I was so emotionally wrapped up in a story, where I laughed and cried reading it. Maybe it’s because I have read so many dystopian novels lately, that I’ve grown accustomed to the format of those stories (not knocking them- I really do love them).

It’s been days since I finished this book, and I’m still thinking about it. It’s rare (for me at least), to find a YAL novel to stop and really make me think about life. This is a young adult book filled with raw emotions and read characters that everybody should read, not just teens. You win kids, I loved this book. Must read!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Settings I'd Like To See More Of

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish.  This feature was created because they're particularly fond of lists at The Broke and the Bookish (and who isn't?). They're all about creating new lists including a little bit of everything and I've been meaning to participate for so long but always seemed to get behind.  So here we are and hopefully you'll head over to their page and check out what everyone else put up for this week's Top Ten.

For me this week's top ten basically boils down to what kinds of books do you like to read.  So I've listed ten and paired them up with some examples of previous books that fit the same mold.

Top Ten Settings Pick #1:  Dystopian - Divergent (Divergent, #1) by Veronica Roth 

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.

This title will forever be one of my favorites.  It has all of my favorite elements.  Forbidden romance, a big brother-type government like body that may not be looking out for everyone's best interest.  Add in a ton of action and a strong leading character and I'm excited for release day.

Top Ten Settings Pick #2:  Contemporary Romance - Beautiful Disaster (Beautiful, #1) by Jamie McGuire 


Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby wants—and needs—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

While I've always loved the imaginative and creative worlds that can be found in the fantasy genre, there will always be something equally special about a possible real life couple's story as well.  And if there are more out there like this favorite of mine by McGuire than you can sign me up!

Top Ten Settings Pick #3:  Fantasy - Glimmgerglass (Faeriewalker, #1) by Jenna Black

It's all she's ever wanted to be, but it couldn't be further from her grasp...

Dana Hathaway doesn't know it yet, but she's in big trouble. When her alcoholic mom shows up at her voice recital drunk, again, Dana decides shes had enough and runs away to find her mysterious father in Avalon: the only place on Earth where the regular, everyday world and the captivating, magical world of Faerie intersect. But from the moment Dana sets foot in Avalon, everything goes wrong, for it turns out she isn't just an ordinary teenage girl, she's a Faeriewalker, a rare individual who can travel between both worlds, and the only person who can bring magic into the human world and technology into Faerie.

Dana finds herself tangled up in a cutthroat game of Fae politics. Someone's trying to kill her, and everyone seems to want something from her, from her new found friends and family to Ethan, the hot Fae guy Dana figures she'll never have a chance with...until she does. Caught between two worlds, Dana isn't sure where she'll ever fit in and who can be trusted, not to mention if her world will ever be normal again.

Books are often my break from reality and the stress of every day life.  So I often enjoy reading titles that are fantastical enough that I'm not reminded that before long I'll be right back to the normal bump and grind.  I like their typical light hearted nature along with their occasional dark side.  It's a great recipe for a literature vacation.

Top Ten Settings Pick #4:  Angel and Above - Angel Star (Angel Star, #1) by Jennifer Murgia

Seventeen-year-old Teagan McNeel falls for captivating Garreth Adams and soon discovers that her crush has an eight-point star etched into the palm of his right hand; the mark of an angel. But where there is light, dark follows, and she and Garreth suddenly find themselves vulnerable to a dark angel's malicious plan that could threaten not only her life, but the lives of everyone she knows.

Divinely woven together, Angel Star takes readers on a reflective journey when one angel's sacrifice collides with another angel's vicious ambition in a way that is sure to have readers searching for their own willpower.

I have not gotten enough of these lately, but Murgia's work reminds me of everything great about this type of book.  Divine intervention, angelic beings, true and unconditional love, and usually a fight that comes down to good vs. evil.  I would really like some more of these in 2013.

Top Ten Settings Pick #5:  Reality Checks - Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.
On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.
Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.
While the setting could be just about anywhere, I would like to see more books like Asher's previous and memorable release.  I call them reality checks because by the time you're finished reading, it's impossible not to reflect.  Asher's book had me doing some major thinking and proved to be incredibly eye opening for anyone who came across it.

Top Ten Settings Pick #6:  Paranormal Romance - My Blood Approves (My Blood Approves, #1) by Amanda Hocking

Teenager Alice Bonham's life feels crazy after she meets Jack. With his fondness for pink Chuck Taylors and New Wave, he's unlike anyone she knows. Then she meets his brother, Peter. Even though he can't stand the sight of her, she's drawn to him. Falling for two guys isn't even the worst of her problems. Jack and Peter are vampires, and Alice finds herself caught between love and her own blood.

With so many books falling into this category I don't think any of us will ever be out of options for our next read, but some of course are better than others.  Hocking's My Blood Approves series had an awesome combination of romance, family ties, intense action and suspense, and of course the right amount of paranormal activity.

Top Ten Settings Pick #7:  Romantic Comedy - The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg

Love is all you need... or is it? Penny's about to find out in this wonderful debut.

Penny is sick of boys and sick of dating. So she vows: no more. It's a personal choice. . .and, of course, soon everyone wants to know about it. And a few other girls are inspired. A movement is born: The Lonely Hearts Club (named after the band from Sgt. Pepper). Penny is suddenly known for her nondating ways . . . which is too bad, because there's this certain boy she can't help but like. . . .

I often find myself drawn to romances, but when I want to keep things light and upbeat I look to Eulberg and the like.  Give me light and flirty, fun and laugh out loud entertainment.  That's a winning combination.  Romance doesn't always have to be unrequited and full of angst, right?

Top Ten Settings Pick #8:  Time Travel - Hourglass (Hourglass, #1) by Myra McEntire

One hour to rewrite the past . . . 

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn't there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents' death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She's tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.

So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson's willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may also change her past.

Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he's around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

I'm not a huge fan of historical fiction/non-fiction reads.  Terrible I know, but its just not my go-to.  However, time travel tales give me the chance to see an author's view of the past, present and future of any given place.  It's always an adventure and like with McEntire's series, there's a good bit of intrigue and action as well.

Top Ten Settings Pick #9:  University Life - The Ivy (The Ivy, #1) by Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur

Congratulations! You have been admitted to the most prestigious university in the world. Now what are you going to do?

Callie Andrews may not have money or connections or the right clothes, and she may have way too many complications in her love life, what with

the guy she loves to hate ...

the guy she'd love to forget ...

the guy she'd love to love ...

and Matt
the guy she really should love ...

all vying for her attention.

But she has three fantastic roommates (best friends or her worst nightmare?) and a wholesome California-girl reputation (oops) and brains and beauty and big, big dreams.

Will it be enough to help her survive freshman year at Harvard?

Give me a background of a college university or a boarding school of some type and it's half the battle.  There's just something about idea what exactly but the "it" factor is there.  It could be a lot of things but for whatever reason I'm a fan and would always enjoy seeing more books use the setting.

Top Ten Settings Pick #10:  Super Powers - Minder (Ganzfield, #1) by Kate Kaynak

Sixteen-year-old Maddie Dunn is special, but she needs to figure out how to use her new abilities before somebody else gets hurt. Ganzfield is a secret training facility full of people like her, but it's not exactly a nurturing place. 

Every social interaction carries the threat of mind-control. 

A stray thought can burn a building to the ground. 

And people's nightmares don't always stay in their own heads. But it's still better than New Jersey. Especially once she meets the man of her dreams...

A long time X-Men and superhero fan what's not to love about books where powers are used for both good and evil, where the good must use these special gifts to defeat the bad, etc...  I think I just love a good hero and characters with super powers often fit that mold.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Review: Opal (Lux, #3) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

No one is like Daemon Black.

When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn’t fooling around. Doubting him isn’t something I’ll do again, and now that we’ve made it through the rough patches, well... There’s a lot of spontaneous combustion going on.

But even he can’t protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.

After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different... And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable of. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.

Together we’re stronger... and they know it.

Armentrout you are breaking my heart!  I can handle a cliffhanger, even a very stressful, anxiety inducing type deal, but this ending of her third installment in the Lux series just broke my heart and left me bereft.  Yep, I said bereft...because that's what I was.  This turned out to be a series that took me by complete surprise and left me reeling after each and every installment.  There was nothing else to do and no way to cure the feeling except to go and get the next installment.  And now with this third installment, the ending crushed me and I was forced to accept the fact that the next, and fourth installment in the series will not be out until July before I can get my next Lux fix!  So far I'm not handling this well at all.

As for what you can expect with this installment, be prepared for a ton of surprising twists and turns that will catch you off guard, and I'm not just talking about the ending.  Watch out for the emotional roller coaster that is the character Dawson.  He's quickly become a favorite of mine and I couldn't help but watch through the story's progression how he was trying to assimilate himself back into society, and how Katy turned out to be one of the only people he could really relate to.  And if you add in Dee's personality was downright painful to watch.  Its nearly impossible not to sympathize with her, while at the same time wanting to force her and Katy together so that things could go back to the way they were.

And without giving away too much for those who haven't read this title yet, I want to know more about Carissa...I wonder if that will happen, and Luke...please give us more Luke!  The description of this character were priceless and at times laugh out loud funny.  Blake is a different story.

Bottom line, pick up this series if you haven't already, and for those of you that have made your way through the first three installments, I feel your pain on having to withstand the wait and countdown we'll have to endure until we can get our hands on Origin.  It's going to be a LONG countdown for sure.

I gave Opal (Lux, #3) 4 shamrocks!!!!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

In My Mailbox (77)

This is a meme that I first heard about from Kristi over at The Story Siren and immediately wanted to jump on board. I'm always picking up new books, because I never tire of reading, but the other thing I like about this meme is that it gives everyone an opportunity to check out what other book fanatics, bloggers, etc... got for themselves. I've gotten great recommendations from this meme and hope that keeps up in the future.

Here's what I got, what did you guys get this week?

For Review:

A Touch of Scarlet (Unbound, #2) by Eve Marie Mont (Thanks to Kensington Teen)

The compelling heroine of Eve Marie Mont’s novel A Breath of Eyre returns to find truth and fiction merging through the pages of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic, The Scarlet Letter…

Emma Townsend is back at prestigious Lockwood Prep, but her world has altered immeasurably since her tumultuous sophomore year. The best change of all: her boyfriend, Gray. And though Gray is leaving for Coast Guard training, Emma feels newly optimistic, even if the pain of her mother’s long-ago death still casts a shadow.

Yet Emma isn’t the only one who’s changed. Her friend and roommate, Michelle, is strangely remote, and old alliances are shifting in disconcerting ways. Soon Emma’s long-distance relationship with Gray is straining under the pressure, and Emma wonders if she’s cracking too. How else to explain the vivid dreams of Hester Prynne she’s been having since she started reading The Scarlet Letter? Or the way she’s found herself waking in the woods? As her life begins to echo events in the novel, Emma will be forced to choose between virtue and love. But can she forge a new future without breaking her heart?

Hunted (The Guardian Legacy, #3) by Ednah Walters (Thanks to Spencer Hill Press)

Bran and Lil may have escaped an attempt to lure Lil to the dark side, and recovered the contracts damned people signed with Bran when he was a soul collector, but someone forgot to tell them that no one switches sides or cancels contracts without consequences. 

Hunted by an unknown but powerful enemy, Lil, Bran and the Guardians must seek help from unlikely sources to avert total annihilation of the Guardians. When they finally face their enemy, one of them may have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Review: Onyx (Lux, #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Being connected to Daemon Black sucks…

Thanks to his alien mojo, Daemon’s determined to prove what he feels for me is more than a product of our bizarro connection. So I’ve sworn him off, even though he’s running more hot than cold these days. But we’ve got bigger problems.

Something worse than the Arum has come to town…

The Department of Defense are here. If they ever find out what Daemon can do and that we're linked, I’m a goner. So is he. And there's this new boy in school who’s got a secret of his own. He knows what’s happened to me and he can help, but to do so, I have to lie to Daemon and stay away from him. Like that's possible. Against all common sense, I'm falling for Daemon. Hard.

But then everything changes…

I’ve seen someone who shouldn’t be alive. And I have to tell Daemon, even though I know he’s never going to stop searching until he gets the truth. What happened to his brother? Who betrayed him? And what does the DOD want from them—from me?

No one is who they seem. And not everyone will survive the lies…

Well it was not a one hit wonder of a series for sure!  With the second installment in this series came new and exciting plot twists and turns for me.  I keep thinking in my head how surprised I still am that this type of series or central characters would appeal to me this much, but I give all the credit to Armentrout's writing and amazing talent.  I'm sure any series written by her dealing with just about any type of characters would be a real winner in my opinion.

Daemon and Katy and the rest of the gang picked up right where they left off and I was still hooked from the very first page.  I had to fight myself every second not to peek at the end of the book to see how things would turn out.  The suspense was killing me....especially when my favorite new sorta-couple wasn't getting along all that well, and a new mystery man came into the picture to drive the wedge between them further apart.  I was not really a huge Blake fan to say the least.  But Armentrout kept me on the edge of my seat once again and biting my nails down to the quick to see what sort of tricks these characters would have up their sleeves to get them out of the mess they found themselves in.

Yet again the cliffhanger at the end had me pulling out the third installment in the series immediately because there was no way I'd be settling for waiting any long period of time before I'd be able to find out what would happen next.  I was so glad that I decided to go ahead and purchase that installment at the same time as this one.  Any wait period may have ended up being the death of me.  I'm just loving everything about this series!

I gave Onyx (Lux, #2) 4 shamrocks!!!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Countdown: April 2013 (4)

The saying might be that April showers bring May flowers, but apparently it also brings a heck of a lot of good books.  You guys are very familiar with my love of countdowns here on the blog and there's no way that's going to change anytime soon, certainly not in 2013!  So now that the new year is here, my excitement level for 2013 new releases has gone through the roof.  I've got my January list, and I'm trying to stick to my plan.  I'll keep reading at lease one or two of the books that are already on my shelf that haven't been read yet before I purchase a new book.  So two older ones for everyone new one I buy is the way this game is played.  So far so good!  If you guys don't see a book you're looking forward to on one of my countdowns you know what to a comment, send me an email, you name it, it works as long as you don't hold back and keep the great future releases a secret!  Let us know, I'm always on the lookout for a few more titles to add to my TBR list!

Countdown Pick #1:  Walking Disaster (Beautiful, #2) by Jamie McGuire (04/16/2013)

Walking Disaster is Travis' POV.

How much is too much to love?

Travis Maddox learned two things from his mother before she died: Love hard. Fight harder.

In Walking Disaster, the life of Travis is full of fast women, underground gambling, and violence. Just when he thought he was invincible, Abby Abernathy brings him to his knees.

Every story has two sides. In Jamie McGuire's New York Times bestseller Beautiful Disaster Abby had her say. Now it's time to see the story through Travis's eyes.

Oh my gosh you guys I cannot even begin to express how excited I am for this might just be my most anticipated 2013 read!  McGuire has quickly become one of my all time favorite authors and her first installment in this series will always be one of my all time favorites.  But today I saw that a cover was paired with this hotly anticipated future release and my anticipation just went up another notch....which I didn't even think was possible but there ya go.  I cannot wait to have a copy of this book in my hands and I'm sure I'll be reading this one more than once!

Countdown Pick #2:  Echo by Alicia Wright Brewster (04/25/2013)

The countdown clock reads ten days until the end of the world. The citizens are organized. Everyone's been notified and assigned a duty. The problem is . . . no one knows for sure how it will end.

Energy-hungry Mages are the most likely culprit. They travel toward a single location from every corner of the continent. Fueled by the two suns, each Mage holds the power of an element: air, earth, fire, metal, water, or ether. They harness their powers to draw energy from the most readily available resource: humans.

Ashara has been assigned to the Ethereal task group, made up of human ether manipulators and directed by Loken, a young man with whom she has a complicated past. Loken and Ashara bond over a common goal: to stop the Mages from occupying their home and gaining more energy than they can contain. But soon, they begin to suspect that the future of the world may depend on Ashara's death.

While this might not be a title by Jamie McGuire, I'm just as excited about this April 2013 release.  Echo sounds quite different than a lot of the other 2013 releases and it sounds like it might be a great combination of a lot of interesting elements.  Potential romance, heartache, death and destruction, action and get the picture.  So get excited!

Countdown Pick #3:  Chosen At Nightfall (Shadow Falls, #5) by C.C. Hunter (04/30/2013)

Kylie Galen's life hasn't been the same since her world was turned upside-down in Born at Midnight, Shadow Falls #1, and now an epic conclusion to her journey—not to mention a tough choice between two guys!—is brewing in Chosen at Nightfall:

When Kylie Galen left Shadow Falls, she thought it was the hardest decision of her life. Heartbroken and separated from everyone she loves, she has to embrace her abilities and what it means to be a chameleon. But as Kylie's journey comes to a close, she must return to the camp that started it all...and she must finally chose between the two boys who love her. The werewolf who broke her heart when he chose his pack over her, and the half-fae who ran from their intense attraction before they ever really had a chance. For Kylie, everything will finally be revealed and nothing will ever be the same.

Please choose Derek, please choose Derek!  I'm repeating this mantra in my head each and every time I come across anything about this book.  I hope you can tell that I really want Kylie to make the RIGHT decision and choose Derek and not Lucas.  I've been crossing my fingers and yelling at each new installment in the hopes that by sheer will power alone Hunter will have the two of these characters end up together....pretty please!

Countdown Pick #4:  Moonset (Legacy of Moonset, #1) by Scott Tracey (04/08/2013)

Justin Daggett, his trouble-making sister, and their three orphan-witch friends have gotten themselves kicked out of high school. Again. Now they’ve ended up in Carrow Mills, New York, the town where their parents—members of the terrorist witch organization known as Moonset—began their evil experiments with the dark arts one generation ago.

When the siblings are accused of unleashing black magic on the town, Justin fights to prove their innocence. But tracking down the true culprit leads him to a terrifying discovery about Moonset’s past . . . and its deadly future.

I haven't read a title about witches and hunts for their "crimes" in a while and this adventure sounds like it would be a great read to change all that.  I like the idea surrounding the read as well as the mystery and intrigue that's been woven into this teaser of a description and can already see myself becoming engrossed in these pages so that I can figure out this mystery for myself.

Countdown Pick #5:  In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters (04/02/2013)

In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?

Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.

To be honest, even this book's description if freaking me out.  It's going to take some serious bravery on my part to finally crack open this book's cover.  I'm such a wimp about stuff like this, but at the same time it does sound romantic and like a read that I could enjoy if I could get past the spooky stuff.  I'm going to do my best and add it to my TBR just in case I can work up the courage and nerve to check this one out.  There's a contest for this title over at Goodreads that ends February 2nd if anyone's interested.  And if any of you readers do check this one out and don't think it would end up scaring me too bad, let me know so I'll have that extra added confidence that I need when I hit the bookstores in April.


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