Friday, April 29, 2011

READING: The Girl In The Steel Corset by Kady Cross

The Girl In The Steel Corset by Kady Cross

Publication date: May 24th, 2011
Published by: Harlequin Teen
Genre: Steampunk YA
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 4/5
Eligible for Debut Author Challenge 2011
In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one…except the "thing" inside her.

When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch….

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special, says she's one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin's investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help—and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff's little company of strays apart, and it isn't long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she's on—even if it seems no one believes her.
I have never read steampunk before, so that makes The Girl With The Steel Corset my first one. I didn't know what to expect at first and honestly, I had second thoughts about requesting it from NetGalley, because I wasn't so sure how a historical YA romance could be given an industrial feel and still be able to not sound ridiculous. Turned out TGITSC was a far cry from ridiculous!

Kady Cross did an awesome job building this semi - futuristic world in the late 1800s. In one hand you have women walking around in gowns with puffed elbows, ribbons and all that and on the other you see automatons, robot - like creatures made of steel and iron, which are made to serve humans and basically do their bidding. 
Thanks to Cross's skillful writing, you are always well aware that what you're reading is indeed historical, despite the industrial and futuristic add ons here and there.
Also the story is brilliant, full of intrigue and twists at every corner. It is apparent that the plot is very well thought out by Cross and that she didn't leave anything to chance. 

I liked all the characters in TGITSC. Women kicked major ass maybe even more than men. What I like about the characters is that they are quite a bunch of them, 3 women and 5 men, and they each have a distinct voice and character. It's not like one of those books in which after a while everyone seems blurry and hazy and you're having trouble remembering their names. 
Also, TGWTSC has a lot of romances to choose from, so I guess even the most demanding reader will be satisfied. Especially when same people are part of various (potential)romances...
My personal favourite is Sam. And Jasper. And Dandy. And Griff. Ugh.
Ok Sam. I've decided. He is well-built, freakishly tall, kinda monster of a man, with a tortured soul. I was sold right from the start!

Overall, although I wished it was maybe 100 pages shorter, I really enjoyed The Girl With The Steel Corset. I think it's an awesome steampunk debut and one that I recommend to anyone that has never read steampunk and is willing to start!

How amazing is this cover?

This book has been given to me by NetGalley, free of charge.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

READING: The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch

The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch

Publication date: May 3rd, 2011
Published by: Poppy
Source: NetGalley
Genre: YA Paranormal, Mystery, Magic
Rating: 4,5/5
Eligible for Debut Author Challenge 2011
After the death of her free-spirited mother, sixteen-year-old Alex Lee must leave her home in northern California to live with her wealthy grandmother in Savannah, Georgia. By birth, Alex is a rightful, if unwilling, member of the Magnolia League, Savannah's long-standing debutante society. She quickly discovers that the Magnolias have made a pact with a legendary hoodoo family, the Buzzards. The Magnolias enjoy youth, beauty and power. But at what price?
I loved, loved The Magnolia League!! It's like Pretty Little Liars, but with witches. Yes, THAT good!
OK, I might not be the most objective person here, because this genre is admittedly my guilty pleasure. Well, not exactly "guilty" because I am more than happy to tell everyone that I love these kinds of books. So, more like my proud pleasure.
Hm. Now that just sounded wrong. 
Anyway, you get my drift.

I like Alex's character. I like her hippie background, her wit and spunk, the fact that she has no manners whatsoever- in contrast with her peers at Savannah who were over the top sophisticated- which made me laugh, and that she didn't give up her old ways and mindset but for very serious and specific reasons, which were more than explained and laid out in the book. It was not like she woke up one day thinking "OK yeah, I am all up for $500 jeans, tea parties and sitting like I've swallowed  a walking cane".
The same goes with the romance, as well. Thaddeus is indeed hot, no question about it. So you have the hottie and the underdog. Do the math, right?
Wrong! I honestly didn't find Thaddeus the "obvious" love interest, since both he and Alex were so well written, that in the beginning they seem completely indifferent to each other. Thaddeus is pretty snobbish, even for my tastes, and Alex, well, she is Alex! With her dreads and her unattractive clothing and behaviour. So, the romance kinda happens gradually and naturally, the way a romance should normally play out. I really appreciate love stories like this, which are unfortunately hard to find nowadays in YA books, since it's all about "By golly you're hot! Let's elope! Please."

As for the story, I am a sucker for all things witch-y and spell-y so I really liked the story in ML. It was more about a particular kind of magic, called Hoodoo, which is Voodoo's evil little sister(or brother), I guess. (scientific explanation at its best, right there!)
I haven't read any book about Hoodoo, so it was a totally new territory to me and one to explore and learn. I liked how Crouch treaded very cautiously around the black magic stuff, neither dooming and condemning it, serving her book's purposes as the main characters in the book all practice Hoodoo in an everyday basis, nor embracing it, showing its dark side and all the negative stuff that can derive from it, at the same time. 
The ending definitely leaves you wanting more, as the story takes an unexpected twist. Will I read book #2? Hell yeah! Undoubtedly, no question about it!

The Magnolia League is an enjoyable, fun, light read but also engrossing and consuming. I assure you, you won't be able to put it down!
'Nough said. Pick it up!

Highly recommended to Sara Shepard and Kate brian fans!
Book #2 in the series is called White Glove War, and it's coming out sometime in 2012 by Poppy.

This book has been given to me by NetGalley, free of charge.
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Saturday, April 23, 2011

READING: Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury

Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury

Publication date: May 24th, 2011
Published by: Atheneum
Source: Simon&Schuster Galley Grab
Genre: YA Historical, Mystery
Rating: 3,5/5
This is Agnes Wilkins’ debut season and already she’s attracting the attention of one of England’s most eligible and desirable men: Lord Showalter. He’s been quite forward about his intentions and Agnes finds this at once thrilling and terrifying. He is handsome and wealthy and has this quirky interest in helping England amass the world’s finest collection of Egyptian artifacts. It could be a good match—but everything Agnes knows about courtship and high society romance comes from A. Lady novels, and it seems to be a rule that men who are too good to be true are usually hiding something. But, what Showalter is hiding is not crumbling finances or boarish behavior. He is deceiving the whole British Empire. He is spy working for Napoleon, his orders smuggled into London in Egyptian artifacts—like the one Agnes pockets while at a mummy unwrapping party at Showalter’s home. Her innocent interest in this trinket (and childish need to keep it) jump starts a chain of events that bring out dangerous characters, dangerous circumstances, and the biggest danger of all—true love.
Wrapped was nothing I expected it would be and I have to admit, I had fun reading it. It was a pleasant surprise and a much needed break after so many paranormal books.

Bradbury's writing is easy going, light and mellow. The way she draws her characters is pretty much the same as in any regency romance. There is a young, rich girl who wants to do something more with her life and refuses to be contained and follow the path that is predestined for her by her parents. She wants to see the world and explore it, something that was unheard of for a woman at that time. She falls in love not with the wealthy suitor every unmarried girl covets and whom her parents push her towards to, but with a commoner, a curator at a museum, who sparks in her the flame of adventure.

I am glad I got to read Wrapped because I ended up learning so many things from it: the mummy ritual at the beginning, which was a bit disturbing (who knew the unwrapping of an Egyptian mummy passed as entertainment back then?)and which I had never heard of before, a lot of stuff about ancient Egypt which even though I find fascinating, I unfortunately haven't read a lot about . Also, because of the British Empire's "looting" of ancient treasures from other countries, Wrapped poses the question whether it's morally right for these treasures to remain in Britain and not be returned to their rightful owners. Being a greek, I am quite familiar with the situation, as large parts of the Parthenon are still exhibited in the British Museum. So seeing a subject like that discussed in a YA book, really impressed me.

As far as the mystery part of the book is concerned it was OK but a tad predictable, in my opinion. I really hope Bradbury decides to turn Wrapped into a mystery series with a different case in each book so maybe the mysteries to come will be more thought out and better planned.
Also, the romance was believable enough, but we didn't get to see a lot of it. Agnes and Caedmon didn't spent as much time together as I would have liked, since it was difficult for a girl to go out whenever she pleased and without a chaperon back then. 

All in all, Wrapped is a light, breezy read which I highly recommend to regency period and history enthusiasts!

PS. One of the most beautiful covers I have ever seen! Kudos to the art department, awesome job!
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Thursday, April 21, 2011

READING : Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Publication date: April 26th, 2011
Published by: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Dystopian
Rating: 4/5
Eligible for Debut Author Challenge 2011
When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents are forced to pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and had never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Until now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in religious Goodside, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to bring Melody back to Goodside and convince her that “pregging” for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.
I have to admit that writing a review for Bumped, proved to be much harder than I originally thought. I don't know what to say about this book, aside from it being so much different than anything I've read so far.

After a lot of thought, I decided I generally liked Bumped. Fist and foremost, it is an undoubtedly very original book. I always give credit where credit is due and when I come across a book with an original story, especially nowadays when originality seems to be a lost art, I immediately know that, worst case scenario, it will be an OK book. Is Bumped more than an OK book? I think yes. 

McCafferty has done an amazing job in building this futuristic, and honestly kinda disturbing, world in Bumped. The lingo she made up kinda put me off at first to be honest, but after the first 50 pages I  got used to it and liked it, even.
Told from the POV of twin sisters, Melody and Harmony, on one hand you have the progressive, pro "bumping" world Melody lives in. In a nutshell, a world where teen girls' reproductives systems are being bought by wealthy families who want to have a baby. Needless to say, the girls never get to see their babies, as they are snatched away from them from them moment they are born. Think of it as "wombs for rent", or something like that. It's a world where bumping is not only a given, but also encouraged by the society and media. Not having been bumped is of course frowned upon.
 On the other hand, you have the religious, "bumping is a sin"-world Harmony lives in. Harmony grew up totally ignorant of the outside world and the progress of technology. Her main goal is to preach God's word, in the hopes of saving as many souls as she can, especially her sister's. 
Now, it's pointless to weigh the pros and cons of each world, as I honestly wouldn't want to live in either of them! And that is Melody and Harmony's main moral dilemma, I think. They both know that they can't take the oppression any more and want to escape their worlds, but realise there is nowhere left to run.

Even though I think the characters where likeable enough(I struggled a bit with Harmony at first, but as I read further I came around), I couldn't bring myself to care deeply for any of them. I can't pinpoint exactly what was it that put me off about these girls. Is it Harmony's overzealousness to bring everyone to the path of righteousness, even though she herself is unhappy? Is it Melody's non-chalant behavior even though she suspects there is something wrong with the way of the world? Can't really say.

All I know is that Bumped will surely get you thinking about it a lot after reading it. I would like to have been given more info on the virus that makes it impossible for girls to reproduce after the age of 18. What caused it, when it all started, dates. Come to think of it, I am pretty sure no date is mentioned in the book. So we don't really know when exactly the story takes place. I maybe wrong though, I can't remember.

If you like books with a controversial theme, books that make you lay awake at night wondering "what if?", then Bumped is definitely the book for you!

PS.Beware of the ending, because it would leave you gaping, wanting more.
Bumped #2 comes out sometime in 2011.

This book has been given to me by NetGalley, free of charge.
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

READING: The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

Publication date: April 12th, 2011
Published by: HarperCollins
Genre: YA Paranormal
Rating: 4/5
Strange things are happening in Maya's tiny Vancouver Island town. First, her friend Serena, the captain of the swim team, drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. Then, one year later, mountain lions are spotted rather frequently around Maya's home—and her reactions to them are somewhat . . . unexpected. Her best friend, Daniel, has also been experiencing unexplainable premonitions about certain people and situations.

It doesn't help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret, and he's interested in one special part of Maya's anatomy—her paw-print birthmark.
The Summoning is the only book I have read by Kelley Armstrong so I can't say I am a huge fan of her work since I am not that familiar with it. However, I have to admit that I quite enjoyed The Gathering, despite the fact that so many things were left up in the air.

Armstrong's writing in The Gathering is what I remembered it to be: easy, simple, to the point, fast paced. I think this type of writing is best suited for YA books, as they don't drag out the story or try to make it more than it actually is thus tiring the reader. The narration has a nice flow and you may find yourselves finishing the book in a day!

I pretty much liked all the characters in TG. Maya is a kind and smart girl, who is still coping with her best friend's, Serena, sudden and unexplained death. She is open minded about anything remotely weird(she grew up in a secluded town where they conduct experiments, after all), so she doesn't have a major melt down when she finds the truth.
Rafe is the guy that Maya likes. We don't really get to know a lot about Rafe. I suspect Armstrong made him so enigmatic and mysterious for a reason. Whatever it is, it worked on Maya, who despite her better judgment falls for him. I liked that her attraction to him evolved gradually and naturally, unlike seeing him for five minutes and asking him to marry her!
Last but not least, Daniel, the best friend. I liked Daniel's character a lot and I really, REALLY hope he doesn't express any romantic feelings towards Maya in the next book, otherwise I'll be majorly pissed! I love the fact that they are such good friends and they tell each other everything. Why ruin that? There's already a love interest, no need for another. Crossing fingers like crazy that this won't turn into another love triangle, ugh! As of now, however, I didn't detect anything in either Maya's or Daniel's behavior. Here's hoping!

As for the ending, yeah. It's cliff hanger-ish. I may be the only one who actually looks forward to these types of endings, because they tend to leave you craving for more and make the book even more memorable for me. Truth is though, so many things were unanswered which I believe, as this is a series, will be explained in the next books.

With great writing, likeable characters, interesting story with just enough unanswered questions to make you come back for more, The Gathering is a read that is definitely worth your while!

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

READING: Die For Me by Amy Plum

Die For Me by Amy Plum

Publication date: May 10th, 2011
Published by: HarperTeen
Genre: YA PNR
Rating: 2,5/5
Eligible for Debut Author Challenge 2011
My life had always been blissfully, wonderfully normal. But it only took one moment to change everything.

Suddenly, my sister, Georgia, and I were orphans. We put our lives into storage and moved to Paris to live with my grandparents. And I knew my shattered heart, my shattered life, would never feel normal again. Then I met Vincent.

Mysterious, sexy, and unnervingly charming, Vincent Delacroix appeared out of nowhere and swept me off my feet. Just like that, I was in danger of losing my heart all over again. But I was ready to let it happen.

Of course, nothing is ever that easy. Because Vincent is no normal human. He has a terrifying destiny, one that puts his life at risk every day. He also has enemies . . . immortal, murderous enemies who are determined to destroy him and all of his kind.

While I'm fighting to piece together the remnants of my life, can I risk putting my heart—as well as my life and my family's—in jeopardy for a chance at love?

I am not all that familiar with revenants, to be honest. In fact Amy Plum's debut novel Die For Me is the first book I read about them. Revenants, as described in DFM, are people who had died saving someone else, which means they had sacrificed themselves. Now they are dead and immortal, feeling the urge, the "compulsion" as they call it, to spend their immortal lives dying for other people, hence the title.

The revenant story and their arch enemies, the numa, along with the beautiful setting in Paris, were the best aspects of the book for me. I just wish they didn't keep calling the revenants "zombies". Why zombies? Because they are dead? Vampires are also dead but we don't call them zombies. Yes, vampires drink blood. But zombies eat human flesh, last time I checked, and thank God revenants did no such thing! So why call them zombies? I still don't get it...
Characters were OK enough I guess, but nothing extraordinary. I didn't detect strong personalities on either of them. Nor weak, for that matter. They were just meh, mediocre. Vincent, I never quite saw his God-like looks because I felt he was never described clearly and the same goes for Kate.

The best part of the book for me was when Vincent and Kate spent some time apart because Kate decided that she just can't handle the whole revenant thing. It was believable and honestly, an anticipated human reaction to hearing of people who cannot die! Unfortunately, as the story is told from Kate's POV, only her personality got to shine just a tiny bit when they were apart but alas, not Vincent's. As for the ending scene with the romantic date and the boat and all that, I don't know. Maybe I am getting old and grumpy because I thought it was way sappy for my taste.

All in all, if Die For Me took place in the US, it would have been like every other YA paranormal romance I've read. There is nothing in it that made it stand out from the other books of this genre. However, it isn't set in the US. It's set in Paris, which at least gave it an edge. Character-wise though, it just didn't do it for me.
Recommended to ages 13-15.





PS. Also, they went and changed this beautiful cover to the one above, which looks like every other cover in YA lit. Major fail.
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Thursday, April 14, 2011

READING: Huntress by Malinda Lo

Huntress by Malinda Lo

Publication date: April 5th, 2011
Published by: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
Nature is out of balance in the human world. The sun hasn't shone in years, and crops are failing. Worse yet, strange and hostile creatures have begun to appear. The people's survival hangs in the balance.

To solve the crisis, the oracle stones are cast, and Kaede and Taisin, two seventeen-year-old girls, are picked to go on a dangerous and unheard-of journey to Tanlili, the city of the Fairy Queen. Taisin is a sage, thrumming with magic, and Kaede is of the earth, without a speck of the otherworldly. And yet the two girls' destinies are drawn together during the mission. As members of their party succumb to unearthly attacks and fairy tricks, the two come to rely on each other and even begin to fall in love. But the Kingdom needs only one huntress to save it, and what it takes could tear Kaede and Taisin apart forever.
Huntress tells the story of two girls' journey to meet and confront the faery queen, who has condemned their world to eternal winter. Through their hardships, they realise that the love they feel for each other, cannot be denied. 

Huntress is a fantasy book through and through. The world that Lo has created is very well thought out and beautifully written. Being a prequel to Lo's debut, Ash, the story in this one is a bit more complex and somewhat more somber than the one in Ash, which I thought had more of a "fairy tale" touch to it. In Huntress everything has to do with the success of the quest(to save the world from dying)and the journey. However, as in Ash, Lo's writing is amazing, balancing suspense, danger and romance beautifully. 

Kaede and Taisin are very strong and admirable characters. Their love story is utterly believable, one that you don't feel that has been added to the book just for show. Despite the fact that they come from completely different backgrounds and their personalities differ vastly, you just know right from the start that they click and they are meant for each other. The chemistry between them is undeniable.

Although I felt that it was slow-paced at points, because the journey was long and fully detailed, overall I think that Huntress is a wonderful book, full of magic and sweet romance. If you liked Ash, you'll love this one!
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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

INTERVIEW with Amber Kizer and GIVEAWAY!

Having recently read 7 Kinds Of Ordinary Chatastrophes, which I loooved, I was lucky enough to interview the lovely and awfully talented Amber Kizer.
Guys, if you haven't read 7 Kinds...yet, buy it and read it NOW! It's incredible!
Check out my review here: 7 Kinds Of Ordinary Catastrophes 


As a person:
Amber Kizer is not one of those authors who wrote complete books at the age of three and always knew she wanted to be a writer. When she faced a rare chronic pain disorder her freshman year of college, she knew she was going to have to learn to live outside the box. After one writing workshop, she fell in love with telling stores and she’s still going strong. Her characters tend to be opinionated, outspoken, and stubborn—she has no idea where that comes from.


A food lover, she plans trips around menus, wishes cookbooks were scratch and sniff, and loves to make complicated recipes—especially desserts. When she’s not reading from a huge stack, she’s coaxing rose bushes to bloom, watching delightful teen angst on television, or quilting with more joy than skill. She takes her tea black, her custard frozen, and her men witty. She lives in the Seattle area with a menagerie of animals that seems ever changing.


Her work:
Amber Kizer writes two very different young adult series for Delacorte Press/Random House. The Gert Garibaldi series is contemporary, frank and funny following an American high school student through the perils of growing up. Her debut novel ONE BUTT CHEEK AT A TIME was included in the prestigious NYPL Best Books for the Teen Age 2008 list. The next book in the series 7 KINDS OF ORDINARY CATASTROPHES will be released April 2011.


The Fenestra series is paranormal, dark and follows a girl who shepherds dying souls to the afterlife. MERIDIAN has been translated in German, Spanish, Turkish and will be available in Australia, Malaysia, and New Zealand within the next year. The next book in the series, WILDCAT FIREFLIES, will be published in August 2011.
In addition to these series titles, the spring of 2012 will see the release of a stand alone dystopian, young adult novel also from Delacorte Press/Random House.


Amber has toured nationally, speaking at writers’ conferences, on television and radio, to educators, and to teenage readers. Recently, she was selected to present one of a few breakout sessions at the NCTE Assembly on Adolescent Literature at the Philadelphia 2009 Conference.


More about MERIDIAN can be found at www.MeridianSozu.com. Gert can be found at www.OneButtCheek.com


For more info on Amber, visit:




Also, readers can always request signed bookplates and bookmarks for free by emailing their mailing addy to Amber@AmberKizer.com (regardless of where you are in the world!)




*Bio information taken both from her GoodReads page and her website.




 







Your upcoming novel, 7 Kinds Of Ordinary Catastrophes, is coming out April 5th, 2011. Would you like to tell us a little bit about it?

I love Gert, she’s funny and frank and very real. 7 KINDS…invites readers into the second semester of Gert’s sophomore year of high school. She’s got a boyfriend (who isn’t her ideal and raises lots of questions). She gets roped into soccer tryouts, even though she’s never considered herself an athlete. She wants to be friends with Maggie and Clarice but learning how to do that and stay true to herself pose problems. Her family changes and they face a crisis that will either pull them apart or closer together. She finds out what the work world is like and meddles in her best friend Adam’s love life. All with a sense of humor. As she says, “Okay, so here’s the deal: there are books about volcanoes erupting and meteorites hitting Earth and plane crashes where the survivors have to eat people—those are extraordinary crises. That’s not what this book is about. I’m more the ordinary catastrophe type: high school, boys, heartbreak, family, job, friends and future. Everyone’s life is full of ordinary catastrophes. There are mine…”



Gert has a very unique voice and she is not afraid to use it. Do you find similarities between Gert's teen years and yours?

I’ve never been afraid to stand up and use my voice. But I was a very serious, very singularly driven teen. Gert’s life is vastly funnier than mine ever was!



Something terrible happened in Gert's life towards the end of the book. Did you find that part hard to write?

Yes and no. The hard parts are always emotionally tough to write—because if I’m not feeling it, the reader won’t either. So on some level I have to draw from my own experiences and emotions to put those on the page. But I think in lots of ways we get caught up in the minutiae and details of our world and then wham—we get hit with something that puts it all in perspective. Right now I’d say Japan’s triple catastrophes make everything else pale in comparison—it can be something that big or something like what Gert’s family faced. So it’s important to go there with the characters and be present as the writer—that part is hard, deciding to do it—that’s easy!



Gert Garibaldi's Rants And Raves series is quite different from your other series, Fenestra. What triggered this change of pace?

Yeah, sometimes I’d like to put Gert and Meridian in the same room and see where the conversation takes them! I juggle lots of characters and books in my head so nothing triggered it per se, my job is about telling the right story at the right time, and I think there’s room in the world for funny books that deal with reality too. I hope readers agree! Especially those readers who insist they only like books with paranormal or fantasy elements—try a new flavor! I dare you!



What should your readers expect from you in the future?

The next book in the Meridian series, WILDCAT FIREFLIES comes out July 12, 2011 and I’m working on books 3 and 4 in that series for 2012/2013. I’m also writing a stand-alone survival story called ECHOES OF 1492 that will be out in 2013. I’d love to write more books following Gert to adulthood and I have several adult projects in the works too. Busy, busy, busy!

                                                            ________________________



And now for the GIVEAWAY!!
One lucky winner will get 1 finished hardback copy of 7 Kinds Of Ordinary Catastrophes!
Contest is INTERNATIONAL, open to everyone, and will end April 25th.
You don't have to be a follower to enter, but it would be much appreciated :)
You can enter here:


WINNER: Kai @ Amaterasu Reads  




Thursday, April 7, 2011

READING : The Cellar by A.J.Whitten

The Cellar by A.J.Whitten

Publication date: May 2nd,2011
Published by: Graphia
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 3,5/5
Everyone at school can’t stop talking about how hot Meredith Willis’s new next-door neighbor, Adrien, is. But Meredith can’t help but think there’s something strange about the cool, sophisticated new guy, and those sunglasses he constantly wears are the least of it. Every time he’s around, Meredith sees things—terrifying things that nobody else seems to notice. And when she dares to sneak a look into the windows of his house, she sees something in the cellar that makes her believe that Adrien might be more than just a creep—he may be an actual monster. But her sister, Heather, doesn’t share Meredith’s repulsion. Heather believes Adrien is the only guy who really understands her. In fact, she may be falling in love with him. When Adrien and Heather are cast as the leads in the school production of Romeo and Juliet, to Heather, it feels like fate. To Meredith, it feels like a bad omen. But if she tries to tear the couple apart, she could end up the last place she’d ever want to be: the cellar. Can Meredith convince her sister that she’s dating the living dead before it’s too late for both of them?
I love me a good zombie story!Especially one that is not about the stereotypical goofy-stupid kind of zombies.
The Cellar was a book that started very strong but I am afraid had a somewhat disappointing second half.

The writing was pretty good, very funny and witty.I admit it,the detailed and very gory descriptions gave me quite a scare when I was reading the book in the middle of the night.Regardless of that,though,first 200 pages went by without my even noticing it, it was that good!

Then, the rest of the book happened.Which was not necessarily bad, but not what I was expecting, either.Even though the characters were mostly OK, likeable enough, there was definitely no lead you could connect with,even a little bit.You see, the narrative was divided into 3 POVs,that of Meredith, Heather and Adrien.Thing is,only Meredith's POV was in the 1st person and the other two were in the 3d.So inevitably, I found myself siding more with Meredith and less with her sister Heather.Now I know that that was there for a reason and to make a point but I found it a bit unfair because I believe that they both were right in their own way.
Also,as much as I found Adrien beautifully disgusting, I felt that his romance with Heather was forced.At first I thought that what he was doing was for a specific purpose and he was just being his monstrous self and I would totally have loved it, if that was the case.Making him see Heather like something more than a prey, would also have been great if it had 200 pages more to  develop.Unfortunately it didn't have, so it just wasn't believable enough.

All in all, The Cellar is a book with a great potential,if you're into gore and living dead,which even though I liked a lot at the beginning, kinda fell flat for me right around the end.


This book has been given to me by NetGalley, free of charge.


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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

READING : Throat by R.A.Nelson

Throat by R.A.Nelson

Publication date: January 25th, 2011
Published by: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA Paranormal
Rating: 3/5
Throat, is a modern-day vampire story set on a NASA base and filled with space-and-science intrigue. Seventeen-year-old Emma feels cursed by her epilepsy—until the lost night. She's shocked to wake up in the hospital one morning, weak from blood loss. When her memories begin to return, she pieces together that it was a man—a monster—who attacked her: a vampire named Wirtz. And it was her very condition that saved her: a grand mal seizure interrupted Wirtz and left Emma with all the amazing powers of a vampire—heightened senses, rapid speed—but no need to drink blood. Is Emma now a half-vampire girl? One thing soon becomes clear: the vampire Wirtz is fierce and merciless, feared even by his own kind, and won't leave a job undone.
Throat tells the story of a 17 year old girl, Emma, who has epilepsy and has become a vampire. Wanting to save her family, she runs off and lives alone in a semi-deserted NASA base, where she is biding her time until she engages in a battle to the death with Writz,  the old and powerful vampire who turned her.

I liked the new and unique take on vampires in Throat. They are divided into two categories: the good who are called Sonnen and the bad who are called Verloren. Sonnen are the peaceful ones, who believe a possible solar eruption (Sonneneruption) will save them and turn them back into humans. Verloren on the other hand, are the mean and ruthless ones, wanting nothing to do with the Sonneneruption and to remain vampires forever. So I was satisfied by the story, it was something I haven't read before.

As for the characters, I liked Emma's character a lot. She is strong, independent, ferocious if need be, but also caring and compassionate. She tries to come to terms with the fact that she is not actually a vampire, because she had a seizure when Wirtz turned her, but a human with vampiric characteristics. She wants to find out out where she fits in all this, what her place is, because she is practically not a Sonnen and surely not a Verloren, either.
Other characters were OK too. I wish we'd get to know the bad guys a little better, though. They appeared only in brief instances and the size of the book could definitely handle a couple more.

Speaking of the book's size, yeah. It's long. I have an ARC of Throat and it's 534 pages! And that for me is its biggest drawback. Not the length itself, but the fact that the story dragged A LOT! For me, it could have been 200 pages less and still be OK. I felt there were so many unnecessary stuff put in there, not pushing the story forward but taking a lot of space and ultimately tire the reader. The battle in the end for instance, was nearly 70 pages!

I think Throat is a good paranormal story with a fresh take on vampires and interesting characters, which could definitely have been a lot shorter.
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Sunday, April 3, 2011

In My Mailbox (35)



::Thanks to the Story Siren for hosting IMM::



Voices Of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn (GoodReads)

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (GoodReads)

Beastly by Alex Flinn (GoodReads)

The Lightning Thief(Percy Jackson&The Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan (GoodReads)

Entwined by Heather Dixon (GoodReads)




What did you get in your mailbox?
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Friday, April 1, 2011

READING : The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

Publication date: April 26th, 2011
Published by: Harlequin Teen
Source: NetGalley
Genre: YA Paranormal
Rating: 2,5/5
Eligible for Debut Author Challenge 2011
Every girl who has taken the test has died.

Now it's Kate's turn.

It's always been just Kate and her mom--and now her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld--and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he's crazy--until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess.

If she fails...
The Goddess Test is yet another book with great potential that unfortunately didn't live up to my expectations.

What drew me to this book in the first place, was its story and the whole greek mythology stick. You'd think me being greek I'd be sick of those. Nah, not really. Besides, they are the next big thing in YA fiction, right? So, who wouldn't wanna read a book about Gods, Underworld, trials and of course romance? While the Goddess Test was all that, I still felt unsatisfied by the end of the book. And I think the reason I struggled so much with GT was not the story, but its characters. 

Let me get something out of the way first: I have no problem whatsoever with different versions of greek myths. I have read some reviews which expressed a slight dislike in changing them. Me? I don't really care. It's a myth, a story, fiction. Its sole purpose is exactly that, to be altered and retold in many different ways throughout history. So I think story-wise, I was pretty much OK with GT.

However good a story may be though, if the characters in it are weak, the story eventually sinks along with them.
I was never a fan of the two-minute love or friendship, and this book had both. Kate trusted with her life, people who tried to hurt her or people she didn't know anything about out, reaching a point where she actually gave up her freedom to save the life of one of them, who, haven been given a chance, would have hurt her. While that's all good and noble, it's so unbelievable for me, I can't even justified it by saying "it's fiction, it's OK".

I think I may be the only one who found the fact that Kate fell in love with the guy that held her prisoner a little bit disturbing. And not because of her choice, but because I doubt she had the slightest idea of what was happening around her half the time. She agreed to be taken by a stranger to go and live at his manor for 6 months under lock and key and then witnessed a resurrection. You'd think she'd eventually get it, right? That something supernatural or at least something remotely weird was going on. Personally, I didn't see it. I saw a weak, ignorant teenage girl, totally broken by her mother's imminent death, falling prey to a guy who was, surprisingly, equally weak! If maybe Henry was a bit more "manly" and a stronger figure, then Kate's weaknesses could be somehow explained and even justified. But having your two protagonists, one of them being a God!,  practically being passive and never taking initiative or a single decision throughout the whole book, kind of makes the whole story all the more unconvincing, even beyond the "unconvincing" factor that comes with every myth.

As for the revelation in the end, I guess it was surprising, although by then, I was so disappointed by the way things were going that I couldn't bring myself to care, I guess. I won't even dwell on the love-triangle thing, which was totally unnecessary, in my opinion.

I don't think I have to recommend The Goddess Test to readers, because I already know so many people loved it and I am sure there will be more. I guess it just wasn't my cup of tea.

This book has been given to me by NetGalley, free of charge.
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