Friday, April 20, 2012

Under the Never Sky
By Veronica Rossi
January 3, 2011
Harper Collins, 374 pgs
Goodreads Description: "Since she'd been on the outside, she'd survived an Aether storm, she'd had a knife held to her throat, and she'd seen men murdered. This was worse.

Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland - known as The Death Shop - are slim. If the cannibals don't get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She's been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He's wild - a savage - and her only hope of staying alive.

A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile - everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria's help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.

Coming soon! Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone
By Laini Taylor
September 27, 2011
Little Brown & Co, 432 pgs
Goodreads Description: "Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages—not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?"

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Review: The Savage Grace by Bree Despain

The Savage Grace
By Bree Despain
March 13, 2012
EgmontUSA, 496 pgs
Amazon Description:Grace's life is a mess. Daniel is still a werewolf, Talbot can't be trusted, and Caleb is still out there. With Sirhan's impending death, war seems imminent. Will Grace give in to the wolf to save her family? What will happen to Daniel . . . and can their love survive one last test?

Here’s the breakdown: 

I have to admit, I had a harder time getting into this one that I did the previous two books. Though I know this isn't any fault of Bree's writing or the plot, it's just that Daniel didn't make an appearance (as a human) for quite some time! And as soon as Daniel reappeared, well, from then on I was hooked. The plot built to some ultimate “twists” that didn’t seem that twisty.
There was one character in particular I was suspicious of for the entire book and I ended up being right about them. Overall, the storyline was more predictable than I would have liked.
The ending was great though! It had all the elements to end happily without being a straight happily ever after; there was loss as well as happiness, which made it so much more believable.

Characters: Grace kicked butt in this book. Enough said. I fell even more in love with Daniel than I already was, and that was quite the accomplishment on Bree's part. He really has it all. The bad boy outward persona with secret marshmallows inside. And of course he's madly in love with Grace. And a hardened character like Daniel who is so unabashedly in love is irresistible. April remained somewhat vague and 2 dimensional, so I yet again had trouble connecting with her.  The multitude of side characters were so dynamic they felt real and wish some of them would be so they could be my friends. Loved the “lost boys” and the allusions to Peter Pan. That was one of my favorite childhood stories growing up and it was great to see it worked into Grace’s situation with the wolves recently released from the clutches of the shadow kings gang.

Writing style: My favorite thing Bree did in this book was that neither Daniel or Grace tried to protect each other by preventing each other to fight for themselves. They were a strong couple and were on equal ground. Daniel never tried to hold grace back to keep her “safe” or vice versa. Something pretty uncommon in ya paranormal romance these days. A healthy relationship, not co-dependent in a scary way. Bree also continued to heavily include Grace's religious values somewhat heavily, but again she did a great job using it as an additional layer of Grace's multidimensional character. Whether or not you share Grace's beliefs, they work in favor of the novel, giving readers more beautiful mythology to wade through as we work towards the definitive solving of the mystery. As for the rest of the novel, I think Bree did a fabulous job, same as her previous two books. As soon as I became invested in the novel, I was hooked till the end, completely invested in the characters lives and the ultimate outcome.


Bree elegantly entwines the werewolf mythology and the religious aspects of the story with a beautiful, real tale of love, loss, and mystery.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Review: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

 By Lauren Oliver
February 28, 2012
HarperCollins, 384 pgs
Goodreads Description: "I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.
Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite."

Here’s the breakdown: 

Plot: This was really different from Delirium, but it was refreshing and I loved it! The chapters switch back and forth from "then" which begins only moments after the end of Delirium, and "now" which is approximately six months in the future. The "then" sections did an interesting job showing us how Lena grows accustomed to life in the wilds and the shock she feels at living in a world where love, physical contact, and even nakedness are common occurrences. The "now" section dives into a new, reformed Lena, living in New York and acting as an undercover agent for the rebellion. The "then" chapters were slower moving, but so descriptive and at time, achingly emotional. The "now" chapters, however, were fast paced and gripping, and once I got into the action I could. not. put. it. down. I was there right along side Lena.

Characters: Lena's character grows leaps and bounds. Literally transforms into a superhero version of the quiet, obedient Lena we met at the beginning of Delirium. And the cast of new characters was amazing. Raven and Tack were strong characters who each carried an era of mystery around them, and I yearned for answers concerning their pasts. All the other characters we meet at the homestead in the wilds were equally captivating. Now...Julian. He was fabulous. From the moment we're introduced to him, he's interesting and has this complicated, multifaceted background/personality. As the novel progressed, Julian opened up to Lena and we learn a lot about him. He has enough conflict and emotional baggage for five characters! One issue I did have, though, was how easily and quickly their relationship seemed to happen. It seemed like it developed because it was supposed to and not because there was any relationship building, chemistry, etc. The chemistry certainly comes later in droves, but as they're getting to know each other, I felt like it lacked some sincerity.

Writing style: Lauren's writing style is just as stunning. The world she weaves is beautiful, as are the characters. And she's a master weaver of a realistic dystopian America.  The "then" and "now" style was rough sailing there at the beginning. I would just begin to get into the plot and the characters and--bam! We're suddenly in a new plot with new characters, six months in the future. About 1/3 of the way through, however, I was totally absorbed. In both plot lines. In the end, the now and then worked well to get in all the info we needed about Lena's adaptation and transformation, while still enabling us to jump into the plot and not get caught up in the opening exposition. And the ending....what can I say? It killed me. I was reading Pandemonium on my nook, which I promptly chucked across my bed. I feel like a multitude of ya books these days use the crazy cliffhanger gag to ensure readers for the sequels, and I do think it's unnecessary. Readers will still buy the sequels if you give your second book an actual ending. There will still be plot threads left hanging without the sudden cliffhanger. Even still, I loved Pandemonium and I'm dying for Requiem!


It hurts so good :)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Review: Pure by Julianna Baggott

By Julianna Baggott
February 8, 2012
Grand Central Publishing, 448 pgs
Amazon Description:We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it's his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again."

So. I thought about it a lot while I was reading this novel and I can't, in good conscience, break this book into simpler elements of plot, character, and writing style. 

This novel has to be taken in as an experience, so I'm unable to seperate any one part from another. This is one I couldn't gulp down in a single sitting like I do with other novels. I had to nibble at it, a little bit at a time. To be honest, this was tough to read at times. It is extremely intense, disturbing in its visceral description of post-nuclear detonation life. Every character outside of the dome has deformities, burns, missing limbs, mutations, even pieces of objects and people they were around at the time of the detonations, fused to their bodies. They consider these to be marks of pride for having survived. The descriptions are so deeply disturbing that it was difficult at the start for me to get from page to page. Don't get me wrong- I enjoyed this novel immensely. But it is NOT an easy read. Baggott's writing is lyrical, and yet clinical enough to force you to visualize each grotesque detail. This is a a dirty, gritty, and potentially realistic post-apocalyptic thriller. Contrasting this world is Partridge's world inside the dome. It is sterile and almost surreal in its dystopia. In the end, the novel is something you must read. You'll love it, then you'll hate it, then you'll love it again and by the last page you won't have the answers you're looking for. So, like me, you'll just have to read the second novel Fuse coming next year, fingers crossed and hoping for the best.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review: Brightly Woven By Alexandra Bracken

By Alexandra Bracken
June 28, 2011
EgmontUSA, 368 pgs
Amazon Description: “When Wayland North brings rain to a region that's been dry for over ten years, he's promised anything he'd like as a reward. He chooses the village elder's daughter, sixteen-year-old Sydelle Mirabel, who is a skilled weaver and has an unusual knack for repairing his magical cloaks. Though Sydelle has dreamt of escaping her home, she's hurt that her parents relinquish her so freely and finds herself awed and afraid of the slightly ragtag wizard who is unlike any of the men of magic in the tales she's heard. Still, she is drawn to this mysterious man who is fiercely protective of her and so reluctant to share his own past.

The pair rushes toward the capital, intent to stop an imminent war, pursued by Reuel Dorwan (a dark wizard who has taken a keen interest in Sydelle) and plagued by unusually wild weather. But the sudden earthquakes and freak snowstorms may not be a coincidence. As Sydelle discovers North's dark secret and the reason for his interest in her and learns to master her own mysterious power, it becomes increasingly clear that the fate of the kingdom rests in her fingertips. She will either be a savior, weaving together the frayed bonds between Saldorra and Auster, or the disastrous force that destroys both kingdoms forever.”

Here’s the breakdown: 

Plot: Different. That’s the first thing that comes to mind when I consider the story in BW. It’s so difficult these days to find a YA with a premise that hasn’t been used time and time again. In BW, many of the common fantasy plot devices are used: magic and wizards, dragons, and of course, the epic journey to save the kingdom. But Bracken weaves (excuse the pun) everything so beautifully, it’s refreshing. The plot entraps you and you can’t help but speed through to the end, racing to the ultimate climax and enjoying every word. 

Characters: Sydelle is a character full of fire and her narration is quite lyrical. North is a wizard, but entirely different from the stereotype. He’s young, rash, and on his own, rebelling against society’s expectations for himself and his use of magic. Both characters are charmingly flawed. Their relationship is slow-building and genuine as they both gradually surrender to their feelings. The minor characters surrounding Sydelle and North are far from static, each playing a vibrant role.

Writing style: Once every few hundred novels or so, I’ll discover a book so incredible it knocks me straight out of my chair. Brightly Woven is one of these rare novels. The world Bracken has created is as vibrant, multi-layered, and deeply real as any I have ever read. The breadth of Bracken’s fantasy world is breathtaking. I didn’t just read the story. I was IN the story. I journeyed to the capital right alongside Sydelle and North. I felt their fears and held their hopes inside me as I sped through the pages. I honestly can say that I never felt as though I were reading a fantasy story. (Though fantasy this surely is.) From the first page to the last, I was in their world and knew the characters like I know my closest friends.


Fabulous. That’s really all I can say. And also, go out and get it! Right now!


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Review: Die For Me by Amy Plum

Die For Me
By Amy Plum
May 10, 2011
HarperTeen, 352 pgs
GoodReads Description:  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?"

Here’s the breakdown: 

Plot: This was a very original take on the forbidden love/paranormal romance that has become so popular and downright common in the last few years. Amy Plum has created an entire mythos for her characters that is fascinating and my only complaint is we weren’t able to dig even further into the back story of the Revenants. Though I’m sure there will be more to come in the subsequent sequels. The “twists” of the story weren’t really all that surprising and I guessed pretty easily what was going to happen involving the villain(s) and the inevitable battle of good vs evil, but it was one of those books where I just didn’t care. I was involved from page one to page 352. I absolutely couldn’t put it down!

Characters: The characters in Die For Me were very likeable and had interesting, developed personalities. Kate started the novel in a state of understandable depression following the death of her parents and I enjoyed watching her open up to Vincent throughout the story and her internal struggle deciding if love is worth the possibility of loss. Vincent was swoon-worthy and I really enjoyed hearing his back story and learning about the horrible losses he had faced and overcome. It definitely made sense to me that Kate and Vincent understood each other as well as they did. It was easy to fall for Vincent. He was kind, gentlemanly, and protective. In the end he may have been too perfect. He wasn't given any real flaws. Another thing that hopefully will be fleshed out in the sequels. And now, I have to rant about the minor characters. I ADORED them! There wasn’t a single cardboard character in the lot and the novel wouldn’t have been nearly as colorful and captivating without them. As far as the romance goes, I think it was much more realistic than most YA paranormals these days. Both characters fought their feelings, but inevitably came back to each other. They didn’t declare their love right away. 

Writing style: Plum’s writing in this her debut novel was refreshing and vibrant. She obviously has plenty of knowledge of Paris and French culture. Her descriptions and detailed settings made the novel come to life. It was easy to get sucked into the story, so much so that I felt like I was living the story along with the characters. 


This novel included everything I’d want from YA paranormal. It had action, a mostly-believable romance, and a cast of vibrant characters. This will definitely be a re-read!


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Review: Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Saving June
By Hannah Harrington
November 22, 2011
Harlequin, 336 pgs

Amazon description:Everyone's sorry. But no one can explain why.
Harper Scott's older sister, June, took her own life a week before high school graduation, leaving Harper devastated. So when her divorcing parents decide to split up June's ashes, Harper steals the urn and takes off cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going—California.
Enter Jake Tolan, a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession…and an unknown connection to June. When he insists on joining them, Harper's just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanor and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what Harper needs. Except…Jake's keeping a secret that has the power to turn her life upside down—again.”

Here’s the breakdown: 

Plot: The idea for the plot was something I’d never read before and I thought it was a really creative way to bring some depth and gravity to something as light as a road trip novel. The ultimate goal for the plot is for Harper to get her sister’s ashes to California. Along the way we encounter political extremists, a George Clooney-loving diner waitress, and a revolving cast of musicians, artists, etc. The plot dragged a little to me for a few reasons. First, it takes FOREVER for the road trip to start. They talk about the road trip, debate the road trip, plan the road trip, before it FINALLY happens. Second, a lot of the travelling and the pit stops along the way were irrelevant. They spend several pages in St. Louis, riding up to the top of the arch and what not, but in the end it has nothing to do with the plot or the goal of getting to California. Granted, a lot of discussion and emotional inner dialogue occur for our characters in this scene and others like it, but it could have just as easily happened without detailed description of the city and its monuments. 

Characters: Harper is awesome. She is tough as nails and does what she wants, but she also has a vulnerable side that we get to see a lot more as the novel progresses. Laney is also really cool- the type of loyal and quirky best friend every teen girl wants. And JAKE! Can I just say…WHERE IS MY JAKE? I loved him so much! He’s starts out very mysterious and then…well, he stays pretty mysterious for the whole book. But he’s passionate about music (one of my passions too) and as he and Harper get to know each other…whoo! Let’s just say it’s something you’ll want to read for yourself.

Writing style: Harrington’s style is smooth and easily and quickly read. The depth of the emotion is very real and at times I felt myself aching for the characters’ suffering. Also, The Music. Jake is obsessed with music and he has fabulous taste. Music is a central theme throughout and the novel even comes with its own soundtracks! It’s pretty great. 


A real and emotional read with developed, interesting characters and the perfect amount of romance.

Side Note: There’s a lot of religious and philosophical discussion and political commentary in this one. If that’s not your cup of tea, you might want to read something else. Just a warning.