Tuesday, March 27, 2012

READING: Perception by Kim Harrington

Perception by Kim Harrington

Publication date: March 1st, 2012
Published by: Scholastic Point
Genre: YA Paranormal, Crime/Murder
Rating: 4/5
When you can see things others can't, what do you do when someone's watching you?

Everybody knows about Clarity "Clare" Fern. She's the psychic girl in school, the one who can place her hands on something and see hidden visions from the past.

Only Clare would rather not be a celebrity. She prefers hanging back, observing. Her gift is not a game to her.
But then someone starts playing with her head . . . and heart. Messages and gifts from a secret admirer crop up everywhere Clare turns. Could they be from Gabriel, the gorgeous boy who gets Clare's pulse racing? Or from Justin, Clare's hopeful ex-boyfriend who'd do anything to win her back?

One thing is certain. Clare needs to solve this mystery, and soon. Because the messages are becoming sinister, and a girl in town has suddenly disappeared.

Perception was a nice, easy crime/murder story, just like Clarity was. This time, a girl in Clare's school goes missing and later wounds up dead, which makes Clare decide to put her powers to good use and find the killer.

Obviously I cannot divulge any more information about the plot. If I tell you who the killer is, then what's the point? Besides, I thought it was really predictable so you'll figure it out if not from the start, then definitely from the first 50-60 pages or so.
As far as the characters are concerned, Clare's brother Perry is still my favorite. In Perception, he is struggling with the events that happened in Clarity, deferring a semester at college and thinking about quitting altogether. He doesn't leave the house, I am guessing because he is afraid of something happening to him, and plays video games all day, refusing to talk to anyone. He is depressed, basically, and I know that Claire is the protagonist and all, but I liked it that Harrington took the time to show the impact summer's incidents had on other characters, instead of just focusing on Claire.

Speaking of Claire, I would have liked her to be more of a sleuth detective and less love-triangle angsty. The two hottest buys in school are all over you (for what reason I still don't get…) and you make out and pine over each of them like you're first testing them to see who suits you best? Nah-uh. Have the balls to choose one and put the other one out of his misery, let him go on with his life, date someone else. This self-torment/angst thing was kinda stupid, considering a girl lay dying not two blocks away. If there wasn't so much romance involved, Harrington could invest in making the plot a little more complex and not so easy to solve, resulting in a less predictable killer.

Overall, Perception was pretty good. Anyone who's up for a very light teenag-y crime solving book, this is the one for you.

Do you guys, and by guys I mean Americans, learn about magnets and magnetism at age 17??? Senior class???? I have no idea how the educational system works in the US, but that's seriously whack. No offense, but it is! I learned about magnetic fields when I was 11-12. I don't mean to be a smartass but wow! If someone could please confirm/deny this, I'd be very grateful. 
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Sunday, March 25, 2012

In My Mailbox (50)

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

High Five(Stephanie Plum #5) by Janet Evanovich

Hot Six(Stephanie Plum #6) by Janet Evanovich

Seven Up(Stephanie Plum #7) by Janet Evanovich

Hard Eight(Stephanie Plum #8) by Janet Evanovich

(thank you NetGalley :)

What did you get in your mailbox?

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Friday, March 23, 2012

READING: Pure by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Pure by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Publication date: April 3rd, 2012
Published by: Spencer Hill
Genre: YA Paranormal, Vampires
Rating: 3/5
There is need. And then there is Fate...

Being destined to become some kind of supernatural electrical outlet isn't exactly awesome--especially when Alexandria's "other half" is everywhere she goes. Seth's in her training room, outside her classes, and keeps showing up in her bedroom--so not cool. Their connection does have some benefits, like staving off her nightmares of the tragic showdown with her mother, but it has no effect on what Alex feels for the forbidden, pure-blooded Aiden. Or what he will do--and sacrifice--for her.

When daimons infiltrate the Covenants and attack students, the gods send furies--lesser gods determined to eradicate any threat to the Covenants and to the gods, and that includes the Apollyon... and Alex. And if that and hordes of aether-sucking monsters didn't blow bad enough, a mysterious threat seems willing to do anything to neutralize Seth, even if that means forcing Alex into servitude... or killing her.

When the gods are involved, some decisions can never, ever be undone.

Remember when I said that Half-Blood was one hair away from being Vampire Academy? Well, Pure was the same deal kinda. As in Frostbite, the third wheel, in Pure's case Seth-in Frostbite's Adrian, gets a lot of exposure and we get to know him better. We also get a death. Not trying to spoiler shower you, but if you've read Frostbite you already know either way.

As for the basic story, I admit it's quite different from VA but I still can't see the endgame, the reason behind all this, the purpose. What are the supposed heroes set to do and why? There is no apparent arch story yet, at least not one I can detect. Also the fact that everything had to be about Seth and Alex and her finding him annoying and an arrogant jerk but liking him at the same time, and with him shamelessly flirting with her, didn't help any.The ending gave me hope however, that maybe book 3 will focus more to the story. Less dilly dallying, please! 
Oh and Furies? Dementor's first cousins. Or identical twins. Just sayin'.

I don't know how I feel about Alex. Seth, I don't care for. He is one of the million jerks in books whom the heroine feels an attraction too, despite having repeatedly expressed her undying love for another guy. And that's what bothered me with Alex in Pure. She seems to have shed her bad-assness and assertiveness completely and suddenly decided to go through a girlie-girl phase which honestly was painful to watch (read, whatever). I can't stand a heroine who says she loves someone with all her heart and is ready to sacrifice everything for them to be together and then she makes out with someone else just because he is a major flirt and she is insecure=recipe for disaster. Suffice it to say that Aiden fans, you are not gonna love this book!

Pure is the poster child for YA paranormal books and I bet it will be extremely appealing to tweens and teens. For me, despite it being all in all a fun and easy read, I expect a whole lot more from the series. There is so much more to a book than romance and love triangles. Have a kick ass story and then maybe I will turn a blind eye to the exaggerated romance. Until then…

"You were staring at him like an ugly chick stares at the last cute guy at the bar when they make the last call".
A bit offensive but so funny!
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

READING: Rivals by Lauren Kunze&Rina Onur

Rivals by Lauren Kunze&Rina Onur

Publication date: March 6th, 2012
Published by: Greenwillow Books
Genre: YA Contemporary
Rating: 5/5

Decisions, decisions . . .

You’ve survived your first semester and captured the interest of not one but two of the hottest guys on campus.

Now who are you going to choose?

Callie Andrews returns for her second semester at Harvard determined to do better than the previous fall, where those Bs on her report card seemed pretty good compared to the state of her extracurriculars (F, as in if at first you don’t succeed, you should probably stop trying), friendships (C-minus, since she and former BFF Vanessa are still on thin ice), and love life (D, as in don’t even go there). But various campus rivalries soon threaten to thwart Callie’s resolve. 
Callie will face some of the toughest choices imaginable: in friendships, in loyalties, and in love. The pressure to pick a side—and a suitor—has never been higher. But will she and her friends choose well?

The love I feel for this series is ridiculous, really. The Ivy and Secrets were on my Top 10 Best Reads of 2011. And there I was with Rivals, thinking that the novelty will definitely wear off the 3d time around. Yeah well, that didn't happen. I'm glad, and in a weird way proud, to announce that Rivals was as awesome and amazing as its predecessors. 

It's just keeps getting better and better! Lauren & Rina are always bringing something new to the table and they deliver every time. They have mastered that fine line between high schoolers and adults and got the perfect middle down pat. Having experienced Harvard life themselves can't hurt, either. 
Brilliantly written and devilishly clever, the beginnings of every chapter were my favorite parts of the book. That she-devil Alexis Thorndike can write! (Jessica was right, even her name sounds mean!). I smile at the thought that this is a column in a magazine of one of the most prestigious schools in the whole world, perhaps THE most prestigious. And it's mostly info about exclusive parties and the 15 hottest freshmen? With pictures?? Genius!

Speaking of Alexis, I gotta hand it to her. Even though I am supposed to dislike her, and I do, don't get me wrong, my imaginary hat's off to her. She is one conniving, cunning little…girl. ;) She mostly works behind the scenes in Rivals but that doesn't mean that her actions don't have a devastating effect. Trust me, she knows what she is doing and no one should ever underestimate her.
No spoilers you guys, because A LOT is happening this time around in terms of story/plot and I don't want to ruin it for you. Especially after Secret's heart breaking cliffhanger, I bet you can't wait to see who Callie ends up with. Well, let's just say things for poor Callie are very complicated. And I'll leave you with that.

On second thought, no. I have something else I wanna say, to Lauren and Rina.
WHY OH WHY?? I barely made it through Secrets' cliff and now you went and done it again?? Now I have to wait a whole year to find out what happens next *curses*
I would hate you if I didn't admire you so! 

Can I express my eternal love and devotion towards Gregory now? Because God knows he deserves it!
I gave the other guys a chance, I really did, but I just don't know what it is about Gregory that makes me giddy every time he makes an appearance. Is it because he smokes?( I know most people find it disgusting but I think it's alluring. To each his own). Is it because he is a player that makes my inner teen giggle bashfully? I guess it's him being such a stand up guy in spite of that. I will, without any shame, admit that right now he is my literary crush #1!

Mimi, OK, Vanessa, Matt and co. were their old perfect and hilarious selves. I loved how the turn Callie and Vanessas's friendship took was showed and how their friends tried to make them see reason again. Also, the bench scene at the Leather and Lace party was one of the most unbelievable(and effective, if you're thinking of trying it) scenes of friends bonding I have ever read. And the most awkward. And awesome!

Finally, to those of you who still wonder how much of what's happening is true(writers' personal experiences) believe me, I was right there with you. But at the end of the day you'll find that it doesn't really matter. Enjoy the college experience and forget about your problems for a minute. Instead worry about Callie's complicated love life-much better! :)
OK enough with the niceties. When is book #4 coming out?? I am not even entertaining the idea of there not being a 4th book, it's simply unacceptable.
So when is it coming out?
Pretty please??
*now where did I put those cherries...?*

LAST MINUTE EDIT: YAYAYAYAYAY!! *jumps up and down* Just in, Lauren's tweet: "The Ivy is a planned 4 book series. SCANDAL (out Winter 2012) follows Callie & friends through the end of freshman year."
I don't have to wait a whole year, yes! *fist bumps self* 
Deep down I am incredibly sad this series is almost over. 
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Thursday, March 15, 2012

READING: Fever by Lauren Destefano

Fever by Lauren Destefano

Publication date: February 21st, 2012
Published by: Simon&Schuster Children's Publishing
Genre: YA Dystopian
Rating: 4/5
Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind.

Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago - surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous - and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the mansion...by any means necessary.
Wither was one of my favorite reads of 2011. Fever was perhaps the most anticipated read of 2012 for me. Admittedly, it wasn't as amazing as Wither, but still very good.

First and foremost the writing, I was very relieved to find out, remained its glorious self. Wither was definitely not a fluke and I am now adamant that this girl can write and write well. Thing is, the feeling you had from Wither that something somwehere is incomplete, that you feel a certain kind of void, has unfortunately tripled in Fever. And that's the world building. It's obvious that DeStefano focuses more on the characters, Rhine basically, and her endless inner turmoil (I would have liked a little less of that) rather than explaining to us how this world she describes came to be, how it is to live and grow up in this dystopian world. I get Rhine's fear but at times I don't understand the reason she's afraid. Yes, bad things have happened obviously, but what was so traumatic and frightening to justify so much terror?

I was also a little disappointed in Gabriel on this one. He fell completely flat and he suddenly lost his personality. Also, he and Rhine spent the better part of the book fighting and that just felt weird. For a minute there I thought Gabriel will turn into a bad guy. But then I figured that they hadn't slept, eaten or showered for days. The last thing on their mind is make out. Then again, there is always a time for everything.

I loved the last 50 pages of the book because it gets us back to more familiar territory. People who liked Fever thought that it was an improvement from Wither and that Wither was boring. I feel exactly the opposite. In my opinion, Wither's plot was constantly changing and Fever's was static. So I guess people who liked Wither will like Fever, too. Maybe not as much as Wither, but they will like it. Now, people who didn't like Wither I honestly don't get why you would want to read Fever.
Just saying.
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Friday, March 9, 2012

READING: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Publication date: April 3rd, 2012
Published by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 5/5

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf? 

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae's most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

I firmly believe that when it comes to fantasy literature, anything goes-no matter how gruesome, horrifying, far fetched or impossible it may seem. That's why I am always a bit reluctant to read YA fantasy because by definition and of course the audience it targets, YA tends to be restrictive in a lot of aspects and that just ruins the fun. 
However, Grave Mercy managed to turn that on its head and leave me utterly speechless!

First off, LaFever's writing was amazing and captured the medieval style precisely. The way she wove her sentences and her wording travelled you back to old, dingy , torch-lit castles. 
She created great characters to go along with her story and most importantly a very likeable protagonist, one you are happy to root and care for. Ismae, apart from being an assassin nun (whaaaat? Awesome, that's what!), is trained to all kinds of combat and she is pretty bad ass. Thankfully, she is neither arrogant or smug about it, but kind and determined. She is not manipulative, but not entirely naive, ether. 
Duval…ah, Duval! You can tell by my dreamy preamble that Duval was hot as hell without even trying. Apart from his apparent hotness though, he had this presence, he oozed confidence and strength, again without being cocky and a jerk about it. He was really admirable. And yeah, drool-worthy if you wanna go there :)
He may not have had lengthy make out sessions with Ismae, however the scenes they shared together were filled to the brim with sexual tension and that was good enough for me. Plus, it shows how a skilled writer can control the love aspect of a YA book without going overboard, and that's LaFevers.

As for the story, there was never a dull moment in Grave Mercy. Filled with action, mystery and politics schemes, I guarantee you will enjoy every minute of it and trust me, there's a whole lot of it to enjoy. 564 pages of it, actually!
The catch is that the next book will feature another character from Grave Mercy and will not be a continuation of Ismae and Duval's story. On the one side, I was sad that their epic saga is over, but on the other I felt that their adventure was well told from start to finish and LaFevers was right to not let it become tiring with a sequel, although I really doubt it would!

I have nothing but love, love and love for Grave Mercy. I recommend it to everyone who lives and breathes and know that when someone chooses not to read Grave Mercy, a swan cries. I'm not kidding, you guys. It really does.

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

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

READING: A Beautiful Evil by Kelly Keaton

A Beautiful Evil by Kelly Keaton

Publication date: February 21st, 2012
Published by: Simon Pulse
Genre: YA Paranormal, Gods&Goddesses, Vampires
Rating: 1/5
Myth and mayhem inhabit a richly reimagined New Orleans in this sequel to Darkness Becomes Her.After the epic graveyard battle at the end of Darkness Becomes Her, Ari and her friends know what they’re up against: Ari is facing the Medusa curse and is haunted by the image of what she will become. To make matters worse, the heinous goddess Athena has kidnapped young Violet and is threatening to destroy Ari.

Ari, along with the superhot Sebastian, is doing everything she can to learn more about Athena and to get Violet back. But the battle of good and evil is bigger than she realizes, and she’s about to be pulled into a world more horrific than she could ever imagine...

Whoa. What was that??? I feel like I've just been hit by a truck. Hurt, bewildered but mainly pissed off. I liked Darkness Becomes Her, I really really did, and I was particularly eager to read A Beautiful Evil. I don't know what happened to Keaton, but ABE for me was very, very bad.

First off, it never once managed to catch my attention. Nothing that went on was interesting or important to me. The character development was non existent and there was no chemistry not only between Ari and Sebastian, the alleged love interest, but also between Ari and her father, Violet, her friends. Not that secondary characters had any role to play. They were as useless as a toothbrush to a fish. I'd have liked to see more of the school and the classes. 

The book itself was very short with basically no story at all, except maybe for the action scene in the last couple of chapters which pretty much includes everything you need to know about ABE's plot. There was no need for a whole different book for that. Maybe if it was a novella or a companion novel, it would still be pretty bad, but at least it wouldn't count as a sequel. 

Ari was not at all the assertive and strong young woman I remembered from DBH. 
She rather acted like a silly schoolgirl throughout the whole book. She is in enemy territory, her friend and father's lives are at stake, she could die any minute, and as she and Sebastain are moving stealthily towards their target, first thing that comes to mind is ask Sebastian about a girl that looked at him funny the other day and announce to him that she is not interested at all in love triangles.
WTF?? Eww. Just please, stop talking. 

I am so so disappointed in A Beautiful Evil. So much so, that reading it made me doubt if Darkness Becomes Her was even that good, and I hate second guessing myself. Unfortunately, I'm breaking up with this series :(
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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Evernight's Balthazar Returns!

For all the Balthazar fans out there :)

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Sunday, March 4, 2012

In My Mailbox (49)

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

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

Fever(The Chemical Garden #2) by Lauren DeStefano

What did you get in your mailbox? :)

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Friday, March 2, 2012

READING: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Publication date: February 7th, 2012
Published by: Putnam Juvenile
Genre: YA Paranormal, Historical
Rating: 3,5/5
Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they're witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship--or an early grave.
Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with six months to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word... especially after she finds her mother's diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family's destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate stars scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren't safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood -- not even from each other.

Going into Born Wicked I expected it to be a dark YA novel with witches, spells and mystery. I blame it all on the cover, by the way. Stop making such misleading covers! Anyway, even though it is about witches, it didn't have as much magic, both literally and metaphorically, as I would have liked. I expected it to be intense, intriguing and mysterious and it wasn't.

First half was painfully slow for me. Nothing was happening and I was beginning to despair. Sure, the writing was nice and pretty accurate for a historical novel, but I really wanted a story to dive into, characters to love and hate. They were all so uninteresting and boring. I thought maybe something will give in the romance department. Turns out that was quite brutal, too. I get that it's early 20th century and it's a YA book and all but that doesn't mean that the romance part has to be so angsty by default. Nothing remarkable about it.
Also, this is supposed to be a paranormal book about witches. Yeah, not many witche-y things going on. Where is the dark power, the spells gone wrong, the magic? 

Despite all its initial flaws however, I decided to fight through the first half and continue reading. Have to say, second half wasn't that bad. It came nowhere near rocking my world, but at least it showed some promise and paved the way nicely for the sequel. At least in the end there was some semblance of action, important things actually took place and people started exposing secrets and leading the plot forward.

Fans of Michelle Zink's Prophecy Of The Sisters and those of you who like very light YA historical novels, will probably like this one. 

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