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Friday, May 31, 2013

Cover Reveal! House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus #4) by Rick Riordan

House of Hades by Rick Riordan
(Heroes of Olympus #4)
Publication Date: October 8, 2013

At the conclusion of The Mark of Athena, Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld. The other five demigods have to put aside their grief and follow Percy’s instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death. If they can fight their way through the Gaea’s forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape?

They have no choice. If the demigods don’t succeed, Gaea’s armies will never die. They have no time. In about a month, the Romans will march on Camp Half-Blood. The stakes are higher than ever in this adventure that dives into the depths of Tartarus.

Friday Hops (5/31/13)

*Leave a comment below with you're post. Follow and I'll follow back*
With Google Friend Connect going away, don't forget to follow up with the blog with RSS and Bloglovin' and stay connected! 

Follow on Bloglovin 

Alison Can Read Feature & FollowFollow Friday (#34)
Q: Q: What blogger would you most like to meet in real life? Tell us about him or her.

I'd love to meet Monica from Cover Analysis. I had met her online through Julie Cross's "Perfect Ten," a group of teenagers giving our opinions of books from a teenage perspective. I had gotten close with Monica. She is sweet, funny, and charming. I have high hopes of meeting her one day, hopefully in the near future. We have to get ourselves to BEA, girl!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Review: Ink by Amanda Sun

Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Series: Paper Gods #1
Young Adult
Pages: 377
Genre: Mythology, Paranormal, Romance

"I looked down at the paper, still touching the tip of my shoe. I reached for it, flipping the page over to look.

     Scrawls of ink outlined a drawing of a girl lying on a bench.

A sick feeling started to twist in my stomach, like motion sickness.

     And then the girl in the drawing turned her head, and her inky eyes glared straight into mine."
[. . .]
On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.
     Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets.
     Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.
*Digital galley was provided by Harlequin Teen for an honest review*

Gosh, this was the breath of fresh air that I needed. Novels about Japan happen to be a guilt pleasure of mine. Ever since high school I'd been enamored with the culture and the language of the country. Now in college, I've begun to learn the language so seeing the vernacular phrases and glimpses of words and knowing what they meant without having to see the glossary in the back of the novel had me feeling extremely proud of myself. And hopefully in the spring semester of my Junior year I will be studying abroad in the beautiful country of Nihon, so Ink plucked hard at my heart strings and the urging want to be there sooner.

I loved it.

When Katie is thrown into the culture shock of Japan after her mother's tragic death with an entire language and culture barrier, she didn't think anything could be worse than not fitting in with the locals. She'd never thought that she'd find drawings that moves or a boy who could make them move. Tomohiro, mysterious and rude to Katie, tries to keep the curious American girl away for her own good. Too bad that the more Katie snoops and demands information on why his drawings move, the unexpected starts to blossom between the two. But Tomohiro's drawings aren't what Katie should be worrying about, because when the Yakuza have a gleaming eye on the young god the signs for dangerous should be lighting up faster than the spark of a flame.

What kind of story would we have if Katie just let Tomohiro be on his merry way? There is a need for persistence and stalking in order to let us know why those drawings in the book can move. Albeit, it could have been done a little more cleanly and nicely rather than really having Katie really going out of her way to stalk and question the poor guy.

I adored the fact that Ink was littered with artwork between chapter pages, in the footer that you could play like a flipbook, and in the text itself. Without the gracing presence of the artwork in the book there would be an essence lacking. A book based on drawings without some sort of drawing would have the novel lacking in creativity points. I happened to love the little bird flying in the corner. Pictures that move, even giving that gift to the reader gave me a more personal feel to the story. I could be a paper god in my own right, too.

Final Summation: This was completely my novel. And if you have the same feelings about Japan as I do, than this is your novel. Beautiful on the inside and out, INK enchanted me more than I had expected and has me craving the second book because that chapter sample at the end of the novel did not fulfull my Paper Gods appetite.

First Line: I made it halfway across the courtyard before I realized I was still wearing my school slippers. 
Story: S
Cover: S 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (40): Afterglow

Afterglow by Karsten Knight
Publication Date: November 12, 2013

[No Synopsis available as of yet]
Can't wait to see how it ends. Karsten Knight always has a tendency to make me chuckle while reading. The cover is simply stunning as well :) I still haven't read Ember and Echoes (book 2), but I have a copy in my possession ready to be read at any moment. 

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Review + Giveaway: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Publication Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Series: Pushing the Limits #2
Young Adult
Pages: 462
Genre: Contemporary, Romance

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

     Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

     But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all....
*Advanced Reader's Copy provided by Harlequin Teen for an honest review* 

I've been blown completely out of the water again by Katie McGarry's masterful storytelling. Honest to God, I have never found such deep and distraught and scarred characters flourish along the pages of a book. I pitied, I wanted, I craved, and I lived for the rush that the characters were exhibiting throughout Dare You To. Ryan and Beth are both invigorating characters both with flawed personalities and struggling home life. Neither is what they seem; their personas are only on the outside while they hide away the truth on the inside. I have fallen for this book to the point where I snatched it up and didn't stop reading until the the wee hours of the morning. Nonstop. I was hooked.

For those who've read PUSHING THE LIMITS, McGarry's debut novel, we get Beth's story this go-around. The biker chick from the first novel is now getting her shot at love. When her destitute, alcoholic mother decides to take a Louisville slugger to her abusive boyfriend's car and right before Beth can take the same baseball bat at his head, the cops arrive  Her mother can't break her probation, that means jail. Beth takes the fall, unwilling to let her mother do the time for her crimes. But when her mother signs over custody of Beth to her Uncle Scott Risk, star Yankee player, Beth is forced to move away from her mother and is thrown into a world that she thought'd she'd never see again. Curfews, school, and an aunt who wants nothing to do with her, Beth can deal, but when paired against Mr. "Perfect-and-Never-Loses" Ryan Stone, the baseball star with much more hidden under the uniform and the baseball cap, Beth's rude nature and walls start to come crumbling down whether she is ready for it to happen or not.

It is a pretty lengthy novel, but within that length there is a world to explore. The events never stop, the stakes never end, and the drama is colossal. Beth manages to keep herself together when managing in the new environment she'd been thrown into. After being hurt time and again, a past that no child should ever have to endure, Beth is rock solid on the exterior and a caged bird on the interior. She wants to save her mother, get away from everything. Ryan, the baseball star whose father's dreams are forced down upon him, loves dares, and when Beth becomes his main priority of a dare, he is determined not to lose. Because Ryan Stone never loses. When when Beth becomes more than a Dare, Ryan has to find a way not to lose Beth to her past and to herself. Katie McGarry has a knack for bringing out the best in these severely flawed characters by making them shine like diamonds by the end. As a reader, you see them at their worst and pray to see them at their best. McGarry understands this and lets the reader grovel over these characters misfortunes until they're able to understand themselves finally and stand tall with their own two feet.

On Ryan, the only thing I wanted to point out is how willing this burly, testosterone-filled, senior in high school was able to let his feeling to poetically rush out from his lips. It felt off-key with who his character was. In my experience, I have not met many boys who are willing to let the Shakespeare within them to come tumbling out, if they even have a Shakespeare lurking in them. Some are cryptic, others don't really bother, and then there are those who are sweet and romantic. There is a persona that Ryan has going for him, and it felt like that romantic side didn't really flow out so easily from the mouth like it would on paper. It seemed awkward for his character. That was my only note out of the whole novel.

Romance-wise: It's a rough and bumpy start with Beth and Ryan. Everything is surrounded by a dare or trying to rile the other's feathers. There is absolutely no insta-love. There is no attraction for the other until they start to get to know one another. That is what I love about Katie McGarry's romance. The characters may have met each other once, but their attitudes and tendencies aggravate the other until they start to come around. There is no initial spark or love at first sight or soul mate connection. It is how things really work in the real world. A+ and a gold star for McGarry for finally getting romance right where most authors tragically fail. This is why I have fallen in love with your books Ms. McGarry, because you make me fall in love with your characters along with the characters themselves. Thank you.

Final Summation: As I had stated earlier in the review, I read this in one entire sitting. With college out of the way for a few months I finally have the time to myself and just hurl myself into any book that came my way. DARE YOU TO took me by storm. The feelings were all over the place. For Beth. For Ryan. For Scott. For Lacy. For Gwen. For All of their parents. For Trent. Some I wanted to strangle, like Trent. Others I wanted to hug. Some I wanted to knock sense into, like the parents. The suspense and the action and the dedication and the longing and the dysfunction and the love is what made this book incredible. The real and raw emotion that made everyone surge with life. The dialogue, magnificent. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about this book. I was blown away. CRASH INTO YOU better come out soon, because I'm urgently ready for more.

First Line: I'm not interested in second place.
Story: XS
Cover: A
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And because I have an ARC thanks to Harlequin Teen and it happens to be DARE YOU TO's book birthday, I'm deciding to give it away to one luck winner. The giveaway is International. Do enjoy :)

Armchair BEA Introduction :)

I'm really excited to be a part of Armchair BEA this year. I've been dying to go to BEA for two year now, and even though I live only two hours away from New York City it is still a pricey trip and difficult travel wise whether I'd hop on a train back and forth for however many days I was to attend. The thing is: money. Something I don't really have at the moment because of college. Damn these higher institutions eating away at my hard earned savings! Thankfully the fine established event of Armchair BEA gives me a chance to have all the fun of BEA without being there. Hopefully next year I'll be able to attend!

Let's get this introduction underway with a little short and sweet Q & A:

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"Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?"
First off, I am Courtney Ann and I also can go by the nickname of Shortskie, and I am the creator and own of this fine book blog of almost 2 years, Rondo of a Possible World. What really got me into blogging was the idea of this giant group of people who all share one thing in common: the love of books. I've been reading for years, I've had books scattered all around my room since I can remember. Reading is sort of in my blood. I had actually found a place to get my thoughts out there for others to read and talk about with. That was why I got into blogging.

"Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you."
I have a little obsession with pocket watches and music boxes.

"Where in the world are you blogging from? Tell a random fact or something special about your current location. Feel free to share pictures."
I'm blogging from New York. Out on Long Island. In Suffolk County. One little tidbit about my town is that the high school that I went to is located behind a farm. But don't be fooled, because it is a really, really nice and large high school. No pictures, sorry folks! ;)

"What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2013?"
Right now I'm currently reading The Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin. And my favorite book of 2013 as of right now has to be Ink by Amanda Sun which comes out June 25 here in America. My review will be up on the blog for it on Thursday so don't forget to stop by!

"What is your favorite part about the book blogging community?"
I love the openness. Having to read what other people though about the books that I've read or books that I haven't even heard about. It's a great way to expand by meeting people and coming into contact with new choices of reads. I also enjoy the communication, where there is some, through blogs and the commenting. I love going through and reading posts, telling people my opinions and what I though about reviews and posts and thoughts and then getting a comment in return. It's a nice gesture that just makes me feel good inside. That people take the time to read the work that I put into these reviews and give good amount of thought to it as well.

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Can't wait to enjoy the festivities and events during Armchair BEA. I hope everyone has a great day!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Review: The Program by Suzanne Young

Publication Date: April 30, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Series: The Program #1
Young Adult
Pages: 408
Genre: Dystopia, Romance

In Sloane’s world, true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only solution is The Program.

     Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.
     Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.
*Digital galley provided by Simon Pulse for an honest review*

I'm horrendously appalled with The Program. The list can go on really, but here happen to be some reasons why I found this novel distasteful and difficult to read.

All of these agonized, depressed  teens are constantly monitored for depressing and any signs of suicide here in a near-distant future America. Now, America isn't the number one  country with high teenage mortality rates. Maybe I would have enjoyed this novel more if it were in a country where suicide rates were the most extreme like China or Japan. Or possibly there were diverse affects that were causing this international suicide epidemic (i.e., bullying, stress) rather than getting these high-strung teenage love dramas like how Sloane's boyfriend being the center of her world and with him gone so was she. The amount of obscene regards to dealing with these mental illnesses in the youth of America and the way that the teens were handling themselves in this world where The Program existed made me sick to my stomach, and not because Suzanne Young wowed me with her details. 

I was mortified. Stunned. Speechless. Abhorrent towards the execution of this Program who "helped" teens before they took their own lives by taking away the memories of the pain and the bad in their lives. That was the outcome. That was the salvation to save the teenage youth. A "do-over," really. Where you forget the ones you loved, the people you were friends with, and the horrible past that made you want to take your own life. You're a blank slate again, ready for the world to eat you up.

Is that seriously a treatment? I understand this novel is set in a sort of dystopianesque world, but it still made me mad! What am I supposed to say? I wasn't even given detail and an explanation why or what crossed the line to makes suicide an epidemic. It just happened. And I wasn't going to wait around and see if it would ever be explained since the first chunk of the book was so incredibly bland and aggravating.

I couldn't even get halfway through it because of tasteless characters and a premise that shook my stomach violently. I didn't even like Sloane, and the fact that her sole case of living was her boyfriend, this character driven on the affection and constant figurehead in her life to make her happy and alive, made her unworthy of a true heroine for me. I wanted The Program to take her away and maybe change her for the better. Maybe she could learn to actually have a personality and some likable characteristics that defined her rather than just a boy. It wasn't her brother that brought her to the brink of insanity--James helped her before she even had the chance to hit that point. It wasn't when Miller, one of her best friends who killed himself after his girlfriend (who was sentenced to The Program six months prior to the start of The Program) failed to recognize him, reported him, where Miller decided that there was no point in living if his girlfriend would never recognize him ever again and that The Program was a fate worse than death. Miller was the breaking point for James. James was the breaking point for Sloane after he failed to recognize her. I just couldn't handle what what going on between all of these characters, all of these deaths and thoughts of constant suicide.

Sloane and James had been together for over two years, so insta-love isn't an issue in this novel as far as I'm concerned to the point where I happened to give up. I decided to stop right at the part where Sloane enters The Program only because in the 30% that it took me to get there in the novel, I was completely fed up with the obnoxious, pompousness of James who believes that anything that comes out of his mouth is funny rather than tastelessly rude.

The Program is the true rime and reason for the constant deaths; it is  Teenagers fear it. Adults find it a salvation. But The Program is viewed in the eyes of these constantly analyzed teenagers as a fate worse than suicide, making it the better choice with a poison called QuikDeath, which is easy to get from dealers in schools. Where is the crackdown on these kids selling poison? Let alone, snagging away all these children from school and their homes when they least expect it, shoving pills down their throat and basically lobotomizing these kids must cost a lot of $$$ and I don't think that the government is willing to be all generous and noble by detoxing these unstable children out of the goodness of their hearts. I don't know if any of this is explained or the book just follows Sloane and her struggle to stay alive or beat the system or something, but this book just doesn't cut it for me.

Final Summation: I am extremely upset and appalled by what I had read out of THE PROGRAM. I had read so many great reviews, and I was excited to finally get to read this and see for myself what everyone was raving about. And all I could do was sit there with my jaw unhinged while I read what I read. This was not the book for me. I did not like how the concept for suicide and these depressed teenagers were executed. I was liking the beginning all up until everyone started to cut themselves or burn themselves or throw themselves off cliffs or try to drown themselves just to take the pain away. This was a Did Not Finish for me, and I will not be reading the rest of this trilogy.

First Line: The air in the room tastes sterile.
Story: DNF

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Review: Don't Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon

Publication Date: August 28, 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins
Series: PERSEFoNE #1
Young Adult
Pages: 309
Genre: Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been a victim of the system ever since her parents died. Now living off the grid and trusting no one, she uses her computer-hacking skills to stay safely anonymous and alone. But when she wakes up on a table in an empty warehouse with an IV in her arm and no memory of how she got there, Noa starts to wish she had someone on her side.

Enter Peter Gregory. A rich kid and the leader of a hacker alliance, Peter needs people with Noa’s talents on his team. Especially after a shady corporation threatens his life. But what Noa and Peter don’t realize is that Noa holds the key to a terrible secret, and there are those who’d stop at nothing to silence her for good.
Filled with action, suspense, and romance, this first book in a new trilogy offers readers nonstop thrills.
*Digital galley provided by HarperCollins for an honest review*

Unable to be put down. Devoured in one sitting. High speed, all bets are off, an adrenaline pumping showstopper of a thriller. Don't Turn Around is a promising first installment to a high stakes trilogy where the good just keeps on getting and there is no stopping the wheels from turning. You're going fast, and you just cannot stop until you finish. And even after you're done, you want more.

Waking up on an operating table, cunning enough to escape from guards, quick on her feet, Noa gets my badge for badass main character. She has brains; a computer hacker who is able to stay aloof and undetected. But someone has found her. There is something that she has and they want it. I liked Noa from the very beginning, her actions spoke louder than her words did. But that was all that I could process from her. The spectrum of her character is very short, and her background is very translucent with vague uprooting in the story. She seemed much more mature for her age, her upbringing in foster care (an abysmal childhood for the record) and the events graced in the very first chapter of the novel show that Noa is not your average sixteen-year-old girl. She can handle her own and she'd rather be alone . . . until she meets Peter. Then she has no choice.

Another intelligent hacker and the leader of his own hacker alliance, Peter is the rich kid whose snooping allows for the attention of an unwanted corporation watching his back willing to silence him if necessary. The very same people who are looking to get Noa back in their clutches. Unfortunately, the back story for Peter was sparse and sprinkled along the book rather than weaved strongly. The only things that I can say for Peter is that he is one hell of a hacker. His brother had died from this unexpected and unknown virus. He's a rich kid lacking in respect and blowing off his parents. The underdeveloped establishment of his character doesn't give me as a reader the chance to connect and understand who Peter really is and why he became this computer hacker with this complex to change the world and weed out the bad people in the world?  Another thing regarding Peter, I couldn't find the attraction to his girlfriend, Amanda. She is this vegetarian, volunteer who had lost her brother to an overdose after he ran away, but it is never shown or felt as to why Peter loves this girl. Who is she? What attracted him to her? What does he see in her? What did she see in him? Who are these two teenagers? There are details but they fail to scrape the surface.

So character development was the lacking department from this wonderfully executed thriller of a novel. The scales had been tipped with action and plot holding the most weigh and character bring empty and unpolished. I actually count my lucky stars that there was no strong ties to romance between any character. Sometimes romance happens to make or break a novel, and Don't Turn Around, bring a thrill-ride of a novel, would have sunk if romance ended up being a main and determining element for the plot or any type of subplot. I hope that Michelle Gagnon keeps romance, between any of the characters, at a distance for the whole duration of the trilogy, but I have this gut feeling that there might be something that develops in the second novel. I can cross my fingers and hope for the best, right?

After finishing the novel, I found that the ending left for many unanswered questions and explanations that the second novel will hopefully take the time to expand upon. The book merely tip-toed into the major plot points of the novel that I am expecting the second novel to make an even bigger splash with. I am especially interested in knowing more about these characters and what is beneath the surface with them as well as getting to know more about this strange and fatal virus and the Persephone project, being what the trilogy is named after.

Final Summation: Fast paced, the stakes set, a thriller that keeps the blood pumping and the adrenaline high, and an ending that makes you crave the second book, DON'T TURN AROUND makes it so you can't turn the pages fast enough without hurting yourself. Book-adrenaline junkies, this is your read. Come and get it. Eat your heart out.

First Line: When Noa Torson woke up, the first thing she noticed was that her feet were cold.
Story: S
Cover: A

Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday Hops (5/24/13)

*Leave a comment below with you're post. Follow and I'll follow back*
With Google Friend Connect going away, don't forget to follow up with the blog with RSS and Bloglovin' and stay connected! 

Follow on Bloglovin 

Alison Can Read Feature & FollowFollow Friday (#34)
Q: The #FF is 150 weeks old! And we want to hear from you! What would you change about the hop? What do you like about it? Or just suggest a question to be used for next week!

I love this hop and the ability to meet new people and help traffic my blog. I always enjoy getting new followers, but the one thing that also is a downfall with the Follow Friday feature is that people can follow whoever the want, whenever they want, however they want. But what bloggers really aren't getting is what makes blogging worth blogging. Comments and being active. I love going around and seeing other people's blogs and taking the time to comment and hear back and establish a relationship with other bloggers. I feel that everyone is so focused on racking up their follower that they forget what really constitutes as blogging. It's not always about the followers, but about the interaction. And I miss that. And I wish that bloggers would tear down their walls and realize that sometimes they cannot always rely on features and memes to accumulate a readership but putting themselves out there and connect with other bloggers through words rather than pressing a button on Google Friend Connect or however anyone is following another.

I love getting the chance to meet other bloggers and I would love for people to take the time and read my hard work like I go around and read there's. I would love to talk about books with people and know what others think. I wish that the blogosphere could understand that you need to give in order to receive rather than think that people are going to wait on a line just to keep giving. It's a two-way street. I just wish more people understood that.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Kindle Steals (6): A HarperCollins Bananza Sale!

Get them now while they're hot! Get them now before the sales end! Limited time offer, don't lose this opportunity for some great reads. Click the images below to purchase your discounted eBook :) Everything is less that $2.99 :)

Click on the widget below to see the book of your choice for the amazing steal of a price that you might not ever see again.

Novels for only $1.99:

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Review: Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst

Publication Date: September 11, 2012
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry 
Stand Alone Novel
Young Adult
Pages: 424
Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Liyana has trained her entire life to be the vessel of a goddess. She will dance and summon her tribe's deity, who will inhabit Liyana's body and use magic to bring rain to the desert. But when the dance ends, Liyana is still there. Her tribe is furious--and sure that it is Liyana's fault. Abandoned by her tribe, Liyana expects to die in the desert. Until a boy walks out of the dust in search of her.

     Korbyn is a god inside his vessel, and a trickster god at that. He tells Liyana that five other gods are missing, and they set off across the desert in search of the other vessels. The desert tribes cannot survive without the magic of their gods. But the journey is dangerous, even with a god’s help. And not everyone is willing to believe the trickster god’s tale.
     The closer she grows to Korbyn, the less Liyana wants to disappear to make way for her goddess. But she has no choice--she must die for her tribe to live. Unless a trickster god can help her to trick fate--or a human girl can muster some magic of her own.
*Finished copy provided by Sarah Beth Durst for an honest review*

I had read this all the way back in September and just found the time to write this review and say what I wanted to say. Between college and personal problems going on in my life I feel bad for putting off this review until now and I feel bad as well for the delay to Sarah Beth Durst for providing this fantastic fantasy novel for me to read and review last year. Now I can sway you lovely viewers of this astoundingly written world of Vessel.

Captivating and hot like the sands in the world of Vessel, I could not get enough of the essence of Liyana, a vessel for the goddess, and the hardships she has to endure after the failed attempt of completing her tribe's ritual. With not just her own goddess missing, but five other tribes as well and vessels that could be in danger because of the misplaced gods and goddesses, Liyana and the trickster god, Korbyn, journey across the desert to find and save the rest of the gods in order for prosperity to be restored to the lands and the tribes.

The world of Vessel flourished along the pages despite that the tribes are all becoming haggard without the essential human cravings that are needed to survive (i.e., water) in the desert terrain. The world-building was the most depth-defying element of this entire novel, with the mythology coming in with a close second. A desert whose inhabitants pray to the gods for rain, young and strong, perfected candidates prepped for the coming of the gods and taken away as vessels all for the survival of the other souls in their tribes--it's considered to be a huge title to be a vessel to the gods in Durst's novel. The chosen ones are viewed with pride and the saviors to their tribe, it is a privileged of the families to have given birth to these chosen children. They are to be fed properly, fit and in shape, no blemishes of the skin, no wounds, and never to exceed just the right amount of desert sun--they were to be the perfect hosts, pampered and respected. Anything less of perfect was unfit for a vessel chosen by the gods.

But being a vessel means sacrificing your life in order for the god of your tribe to bestow the magic needed so that the tribe can live. Liyana understood this notion in the beginning of the novel, ready to dance her life away so that Bayla, her goddess, can resume her role in the human world and bring down rain for her people. But sacrificing becomes questionable to Liyana after her tribe leaves her to fend for herself in the desert, basically die alone and believe that she is a failure of a vessel, as well as when Liyana meets the god Korbyn, Bayla's lover. Only, the heated ties towards Korbyn impede into her goddess's domain. Soon Liyana is left to struggle to live for herself or live for her goddess, even if that means not being able to live anymore. Even when she is falling for the god she can never have.

The struggle of the self within Liyana was what drove me positively wild throughout the entire novel. With the vessels that are picked up along the way, Raan was the one that I adored the most with her sassy comments and her dedication to being herself rather than a tool towards her tribe in order for them to survive while she has to perish from the world. Pia and Fennik, the other two vessels in the ever-growing band are devoted to losing their lives in order for the gods to have a body to live and walk along the sand. Raan just became the one character that I looked for during dialogue scenes, she just made the journey so much better for me.

Though, the unoriginal continuation of picking up one vessel after the next, having the scenes be the same though the group grew in numbers made the story drag and lag throughout the middle. It felt like I was playing the first Assassins' Creed game where I'd be doing the same missions in the same ways, going back and forth doing the same exact thing until I finally got to the boss battle--that being the King in the Crescent Empire in Vessel. If there was more variability in the encountering, greeting, and growth of Liyana's ostracized vessel group, it would have made for a much richer and eventful section of the novel.

Final Summation: Leaving you thirsty for more, Vessel becomes that well needed rain storm of a novel. With an enchanting plot and a complex idea surrounding whether it means more to survive and be who you are or to sacrifice yourself in order to save the ones that you love, Vessel is a journey that confronts those idea. The growth of the characters and the mystical world that Liyana is encompassed in, Vessel becomes a captivating read that brings to life a gorgeous world filled with timeless sands and powerful gods and goddesses needing the help of the very human hosts that they need to sacrifice in order to walk among the deserts once again.

First Line: On the day she was to die, Liyana walked out of her family's tent to see the dawn.
Story: S
Cover: S

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (39): Once We Were

Once We Were by Kat Zhang
Publication Date: September 17, 2013

Eva was never supposed to have survived this long. As the recessive soul, she should have faded away years ago. Instead, she lingers in the body she shares with her sister soul, Addie. When the government discovered the truth, they tried to “cure” the girls, but Eva and Addie escaped before the doctors could strip Eva’s soul away.

Now fugitives, Eva and Addie find shelter with a group of hybrids who run an underground resistance. Surrounded by others like them, the girls learn how to temporarily disappear to give each soul some much-needed privacy. Eva is thrilled at the chance to be alone with Ryan, the boy she’s falling for, but troubled by the growing chasm between her and Addie. Despite clashes over their shared body, both girls are eager to join the rebellion.

Yet as they are drawn deeper into the escalating violence, they start to wonder: How far are they willing to go to fight for hybrid freedom? Faced with uncertainty and incredible danger, their answers may tear them apart forever.
How amazing is this cover? I honestly love looking at the dual possibilities for faces in this one. This is going to be a great sequel :)

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Review: Scrap by Emory Sharplin

Publication Date: May 17, 2013
Publisher: Green Leaf Book Group
Stand Alone Novel
Young Adult
Pages: 350
Genre: Fantasy

On the brutal streets of Hellip, a village in the vast empire of the cruel King Ibis, you either become good at running from the king’s Blackcoats or you die. This is the lesson that twelve-year-old Tucker Scrap, abandoned as an infant among the orphans of Hellip, learned early. Along with her friends Ash and Kally, Tucker spends her time keeping one step ahead of the unjust laws, stealing what she needs to survive, and pondering her own unknown origins—and those of the enchanted bracelet with which she was found.

     Now, both Ash and Kally have vanished from the orphanage, perhaps headed for the faraway city where Ibis still rules. When a mysterious girl named Vivian arrives in Hellip with a strange invitation to Tucker, the leader of the orphans decides that this may be her opportunity to find her missing friends. But more than this: it may become an opportunity to recover her hidden inheritance, and to change the fate of an entire kingdom.
     The introduction to a fantasy world rich with ancient magic, enigmatic gypsies, palace labyrinths, and deep woods haunted by strange and forbidding creatures, Emory Sharplin’s debut novel tells the story of Tucker Scrap: a bold, memorable heroine at the center of a centuries-old mystery, stepping into her destiny at last.
*Digital galley provided by Green Leaf Book Group for an honest review*

Scrap turned out to be an unexpected dislike for me. The cover is gorgeous, the synopsis had be barreling into the first few pages of the book, but almost half way through the novel I found that there was too much going on in the book for my tastes. Street rats, a missing princess, killing of a Queen, cruel kings, poverty, Blackcoats, a missing Duchess, friends gone missing, Tucker turned missing Duchess, proper form and etiquette, life in the rich lane, enchanted jewelry, magic, gypsies, almost-rape scenes--Scrap harbored it all up until the point that I decided to stop reading.

The beginning of the book really caught my attention. A street rat trying to figure out her life sounded like a fun plot in my eyes. I liked Tucker before Vivian, the eternally young lady who swept Tucker out of the destitute life in order to scam the royals that the baby girl who was supposed to be dead and gone was just lurking around an orphanage and stealing bread, came along, she was edgy and cunning. When Tucker was thrown into the lap of luxury, I felt no character being developed, but rather an entirely different and bland character in the making. She had gone from knowing no manors at all, stealing and fighting to survive on the streets from such a young age to swiftly becoming this respondent and proper young woman with such gracious manors. Wouldn't she feel the culture shock? Miss the urge to pickpocket? Where does a girl who has grown up with no manors at all all of a sudden place them on the table like she was dealing out cards? I just couldn't believe it, it was a complete character pitfall. It was a complete 180 degrees from well concocted potion to entirely dull glass of water. Tucker went from an actual character to a complete disappointment.

Not to mention I had been reading for almost half a novel with no idea where the plot was leading me or what any of Vivian's plans were supposed to be, or who this young and eternal woman was besides the fact that she is a family friend of Tucker's mother and that she cannot reveal any secrets. We know Tucker's friends have ran away, and I thought that maybe Tucker would have been more thorough in trying to search for them rather than constantly recollecting on past memories or their personalities or likes and dislikes while she is in this grand home learning to be a fallacy of a lost duchess named Celeste. She was looking for ideas of why she was abandoned in this orphanage, but where was it going with this complete acceptance into this royal, prestigious family as the fake Celeste? I had a hunch as to who Tucker might be, even the synopsis gives it away:

"[. . .] it may become an opportunity to recover her hidden inheritance, and to change the fate of an entire kingdom."

I don't even need to read the end and I already possibly know who Tucker is supposed to be and what she is supposed to do for the kingdom of Grimmic. The story is so simplistic, but the accumulation of all these details and garnishes try to hid away that simplicity but rather just make it completely clustered of a read and uninteresting all the same.

If there was a more concise plot line and dynamic within the world of Grimmic I would have enjoyed the tale. The on the account that there was so much going on in this one novel, even before I could make it to the very end, just overwhelmed me and ended up having me lose interest. There could have been something going for Scrap if there was a clearer and more dominant character development and stricter plot elements not draped with unnecessary detail and events.

Final Summation: Unfortunately, Scrap was a DNF for me. I found myself uninterested in the story by the halfway mark, fell out of love with Tucker once she was no longer considering herself a street rat but more of a poised elite member of the kingdom, and found that too much was being draped around the plot of the story for me to want to continue. Sadly, this was not the book for me.

First Line: "People of Grimmic, I stand before you, condemned and prepared to die a traitor."
Story: DNF
Cover: S

Monday, May 20, 2013

Blog Tour Review + Giveaway: The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston

Publication Date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Stand alone novel
Young Adult
Pages: 320
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Romance

She’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky . . . But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last.
     Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they’ve given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do – or see – that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all the Suits’ rules — and her dad’s silence. If he won’t help, it’s time she got some answers for herself.
     But Meg isn’t counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who’s too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there’s only one rule that really matters — survival.
*Digital galley provided by Disney Hyperion for the blog tour and an honest review* 

Another day, another identity. She has going threw a cache of them before finally deciding that "Meg" is going to be the final straw and the moving stops. Between being in the Witness Protection Program and not knowing the reason behind the constant uprooting of her family's lives all around the United States and the multitude of aliases' having gone through in numerous months, Meg's ready to find out the reason why before she has to start all over again in a new town with a new name and a new physical alteration.

The Rules for Disappearing was a simple mystery that really doesn't leave you ruining the ending for yourself. The mystery really ends up beating around the book in the first half of the novel. Meg is struggling to get to the bottom of her family being placed in Witness Protection, yet no one is giving her any explanations and her father's silence just pushes her farther to solving her own mystery. The constant reversal between Meg begging her parents for answers and having Meg search for answers on her own is thorough throughout the course of the entire novel. It sort of set me back as a reader and kept the plot in the overbearing rut before things eventually moved forward and the gears of the story caught up to speed, but only until the very end of the novel.

Besides the setback of the plot, the romance was cute and decently contrived. I liked Meg and Ethan being together. Though I had found myself questioning what made Ethan so special this time around in this new town with her new alias? Never-before had she gotten so close with someone. She even fought off any interaction with the boy, and suddenly she was finding herself not wanting to move on from the rural Louisiana town she'd been transferred to because of this boy whom she had barely any way to get to known him before that thought. Just that whole idea seemed very immature to me. But at the same time, once Ethan's character and personality began to reveal itself a little bit more and more, the sweet southern boy had me smiling and I ended up liking that Meg wanted to stay with him. If only her thought on the matter was later on in the novel rather than towards the beginning I wouldn't have had such a problem with it.

The supporting characters happened to be a disappointment to me. The cliche of the rotten, quintessential malice-filled sister and her boyfriend/ex-friend of Ethan being rather rude and distasteful to the new girl grew cold against my skin but I shrugged it off, not letting that be a deciding factor of how I'd view the story. They do happen to be nuisances of supporting characters. Meanwhile, the only character that I thoroughly enjoyed and felt was a boost towards the development of Meg and Ethan, was her little sister, Teeny. The devotion that Meg has for her little sister, the way she sticks up for her and makes sure she's safe and happy brought out a side that I enjoyed in Meg as a character. The two of them were wonderful siblings trying to deal with their whole crazy ordeal.

Final Summation: Though the novel's plot beats around the bush, once the mystery really has the ball rolling it fun and just pulls you right along. A quick and fun read that should definitely be given a try during this summer.

First Line: "What do you want your name to be this time?"
Story: A
Cover: A

About the AuthorAshley Elston lives is North Louisiana with her husband, three sons and two cats. She worked as a wedding and portrait photographer for ten years until she decided to pursue writing full time. Ashley is also a licensed Landscape Horticulturist and helps her husband run a commercial lawn and landscaping business. They also custom harvest pecans and have cows. Yes, cows. |

Friday, May 17, 2013

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway: Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland

Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Stand alone novel
Young Adult
Pages: 304
Genre: Contemporary, Romance

For Cricket Thompson, a summer like this one will change everything. A summer spent on Nantucket with her best friend, Jules Clayton, and the indomitable Clayton family. A summer when she’ll make the almost unattainable Jay Logan hers. A summer to surpass all dreams.

Some of this turns out to be true. Some of it doesn’t. 
When Jules and her family suffer a devastating tragedy that forces the girls apart, Jules becomes a stranger whom Cricket wonders whether she ever really knew. And instead of lying on the beach working on her caramel-colored tan, Cricket is making beds and cleaning bathrooms to support herself in paradise for the summer.
But it’s the things Cricket hadn’t counted on--most of all, falling hard for someone who should be completely off-limits--that turn her dreams into an exhilarating, bittersweet reality.
A beautiful future is within her grasp, and Cricket must find the grace to embrace it. If she does, her life could be the perfect shade of Nantucket blue.
*Digital galley provided by Disney Hyperion for an honest review*

It's been a really hectic week for me here between finals and packing up to go home for the summer, I was glad that I could get Nantucket Blue in for a read and get this review for the blog tour up on time.

Nantucket Blue was one of those easy reads for me. I flew through the book. Leila Howland's writing style just flowed so smoothly, made me laugh, and had me smiling. The scenery came to life and the kisses happening between Cricket and Zack sounded so soft and passionate I had been smiling during all the romantic parts. I was very satisfied with the romance in the book. The realism, the forbidden secret of dating her best friend's younger brother made this novel a little roller coaster in itself. And the way Cricket (love her name) fought to stay through everything that was thrown her way between Jules, her best friend, being mad at her; her crush, Jay, being angered and distant as well; the off-limits younger brother that she happens to be falling for; and the chambermaid job she gets in order to stay on Nantucket when Jules declines the invitation to stay with her, Cricket takes what she is given and pursues forward, building herself off the events and actions that are pushed down upon her. Her summer definitely is not boring, that's for sure.

There is just enough summer, stolen kisses, first times, and hidden diaries in this novel to make it a fun, little read in the sun. Cricket had a summer of a lifetime down in Nantucket, granted it is not the summer that I'd like to experience (Jules's mother passing away, a rift between friends, forbidden love, and unneeded drama), but it was enjoyable to watch how she would handle the situations dealt in her direction. I liked Cricket, she knew who she was, how she could handle situations on her plate (until they started to go out of control), and the relationships that she fostered between the workers at her job at the Inn, with her internship with the journalist, and the man who Cricket believes was her mother's "Lover Boy" back when she lived out in the beautiful Nantucket. 

I felt bad for the way Jules was treating Cricket during the duration of the novel, but then against there was merit to her cold nature. When Cricket stole her chance to say something about Nina, Jules's deceased mother, at her funeral because Cricket felt the need to save her speechless, distraught friend who was choking in the spotlight, I knew that had to be the reason for her anger at her best friend. If I had been sitting in one of the pews during the service, I would have felt awkward at Cricket stepping out of place and taking the words away from Jules. That was the one flaw that I found in Cricket, she felt that she always needed to save Jules, when she really didn't need to be saved. It felt like Cricket was trying to take over the mother spot that her own mother had left behind, and I started to feel pity for Cricket.

Final Summation: Nantucket Blue took me by surprise. Contemporary never really was my genre of choice, but I had so much fun reading this novel. Maybe it's because summer is right around the corner, maybe it was the voice of Leila Howland's writing that just sucked me in, or maybe the story was just that enjoyable. I think it's all three. I recommend this to anyone who wants a quick, fun-filled novel with a cute little forbidden love story with all the drama, tragedy, and family history hidden in the streets of Nantucket.

First Line: Even without Holly Howard and Dori Archer, who'd been suspended for drinking on campus, we were supposed to win that game.
Story: S
Cover: A

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