Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

Thin Space by Jody Casella
Ever since the car accident that killed his twin brother, Marshall Windsor has been consumed with guilt and crippled by secrets of that fateful night. He has only one chance to make amends, to right his wrongs and set things right. He must find a Thin Space—a mythical point where the barrier between this world and the next is thin enough for a person to step through to the other side.

But, when a new girl moves into the house next door, the same house Marsh is sure holds a thin space, she may be the key—or the unraveling of all his secrets.

As they get closer to finding a thin space—and closer to each other—Marsh must decide once and for all how far he’s willing to go to right the wrongs of the living…and the dead.

I loved both Jennifer Shaw Wolf's Breaking Beautiful and Emily Hainsworth's Through to You and Thin Space sounds like it has some plot elements that might be a bit similar to each of those novels.

I like the sounds of both the relationship the synopsis introduces as well as the paranormal element(s). It sounds like this could really be a great read.

Published by Beyond Words/Simon Pulse and it out September 10th

Add it to your Goodreads shelf

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pivot Point ~ Kasie West review

Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1)
February 12, 2013
352 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Addison Coleman's life shouldn't be full of any unwanted surprises.

Addie lives in the Compound, where everyone has an ability, a place hidden to those who aren't supposed to know about it. Addie is a Searcher, able to look at any choice and see both possible outcomes, to live them inside her head.

So, when her parents tell her they're getting a divorce, it's a huge surprise for Addison. One thing that won't be a surprise, though: which parent she should live with. Addison can 'live' six weeks into the future with each, her mother who will stay at the Compound with the life Addie's always known or her father who will leave, choosing to live with -- and as -- the 'Norms.'

Addie finds a love interest in each possible life, along with more than her share of danger. As she lives through the time in each, a choice that should have been so obvious, may become less so.

I'd forgotten, between first reading the synopsis and then reading the novel, that there was a supernatural element to this story. There was, of course, one to some extent with the alternate/dual lives, but I didn't remember about the Compound and the characters' abilities. It's a great way to make the divergent paths Addie views possible. Rather than the result of some wacky dream or a bump on the head, they're something she expects and doesn't later try to explain away.

This premise, of Addie being aware that she's going to be viewing/living the two possible futures is a great setup. With chapters alternating between her 'para' world and her 'norm' world readers can see how she stays the same as she adjusts to each new life, then the major differences as well as any things that may happen similarly despite the alternate choice made.

There's also the possibility that Addie may, in her Search, wonder if it is, in fact, a Search and not reality. That presents another level of interest.

While the alternating chapters can make it hard to always remember what happened in which world -- or when -- especially when some of the main characters are present in both, its the best way to tell the story. With the knowledge that they're both coming to an end and a decision, suspense builds. They're not 'really' happening and one's not ever going to. It's just a question of which. If the story lines were done consecutively rather than concurrently, it just wouldn't work.

The end of the dual worlds is the other time that having Addie be a Searcher rather than a girl trying to make sense of some 'dream' world is so brilliant. She really makes a fully informed decision, knowing that both futures are true possibilities.

Kasie West did a fantastic job building both possible worlds here. As different as the two worlds are, in spite of both being set in or around high schools, they each had their appeal. In one world Addie befriends (possibly more?) Trevor, the arty former jock, in the other the quarterback is going to convince her she can like football players. With her best friend Leila either constantly by her side in one world or a phone call away in the other, Addie has someone to help her through tough situations.  It was great seeing the differences brought about in her character in the different worlds and the situations each presented.

The ending of Pivot Point was not quite what I expected but I liked it -- more so after seeing the (#1) after the title. I can't wait to see what #2 brings.

Rating: 8/10

If you like this book, you might also enjoy: Through to You by Emily Hainsworth and If We Kiss by Rachel Vail

final copy reviewed, thank you to Harper for approval for review copy through Edelweiss. (snafu with Edelweiss download equaled me not actually having it.)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Stung ~ Bethany Wiggins (earc) review

Walker Children's
April 2, 2013
304 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

There is no cure for being stung.

Fiona doesn’t remember going to sleep. But when she opens her eyes, she discovers her entire world has been altered—her house is abandoned and broken, and the entire neighborhood is barren and dead. Even stranger is the tattoo on her right hand—a black oval with five marks on either side—that she doesn’t remember getting but somehow knows she must cover at any cost. She’s right. [partial synopsis from Goodreads]

Fiona's whole world is different -- even the body she finds herself in, while still her own, seems older. Outside everything is more dangerous, almost lifeless and certainly not as she remembered.

Can she find out what the tattoo on her hand means, what's happened to the world and stay alive?

Stung incorporates something that's part of our world to a lesser extent (at least now) but has, as far as I know, not yet been part of a novel: the death of bees. Fiona's sister was worried about the bees being on the endangered species list and talks of all that they can effect.

While having a secure city behind a wall while the underprivileged live in a dystopian, crumbling world outside of it isn't particularly anything new, the way Wiggins approaches it is. How the city inside the wall is run is different and even why it's there. The 'why' those individuals need protecting is quite interesting and unique.

It makes Fiona's story -- and that of the other main character -- a very compelling read. Discovering their stories, both past and present while they work together, and sometimes against each other, pulls you in. It's what the future may or may not hold for them that keeps a bit of suspense in the mix.

The beginning of Stung is quite interesting. When Fiona wakes up with no memory of being the age she is or the world being as it is, the readers have no knowledge of why things are as they are, either. It takes more than a quarter of the novel (or reading some synopses) to find certain things out. Sometimes it's fun to have a leg up on the main character but here, while at times a bit frustrating, it was nice being on the same level as Fiona knowledge wise.

Fiona and her counterpart work well together and in addition to bringing out parts of their past -- the memory-slash-flashbacks were a great addition - it brings out different elements of their personalities.

Stung was different than I was expecting -- with the addition another character and the city along with what it housed -- and I liked it more than I expected.

Rating: 8/10

If you liked this book, you might also enjoy: Article 5 by Kristen Simmons and Black City by Elizabeth Richards

thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my egalley

Friday, March 22, 2013

Etiquette and Espionage ~ Gail Carriger (earc) review

Etiquette and Espionage (Finishing School #1)
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
March 5, 2013
307 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Sophronia isn't the proper, dignified young lady her mother wants her to be. Instead, the fourteen-year-old is happiest taking things apart, climbing things, or otherwise making a mess of her -- or someone else's -- person. That's not even mentioning her dreadful curtsy.

When the opportunity comes to enroll her daughter in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, Sophronia's mother seizes it. Only the school isn't like any Finishing School Sophonia's ever heard of -- and she's sure it isn't what her mother thought she was going to.

Along with the quadrille and to always, always have a handkerchief, they also learn about diversion and finishing much more than just school.

Etiquette and Espionage is wildly imaginative and draws readers in from the very beginning. Sophronia is a fun character, one you know right away is not the typical Victorian teenage girl. She's a great lead character as she's daring, inquisitive and not one for the conventions of the period.

The secondary characters, some whom I won't name as it might be spoilery, and the girls at school have nicely varied personalities. The way they interact with each other and deal with the school is interesting to see.

Despite my feeling that the characters seemed a bit older than their stated ages (Sophronia was fourteen and some were younger than her), Etiquette and Espionage should appeal to Middle Grade readers. There's nothing I can recall in the content that would make it inappropriate for those younger readers. I think it would also be very appealing to adult readers, at least those who will read YA.

There may be a few readers in the group between those two ages who want some more drama or something more salacious than what they'll find here. The characters do feel more high school aged, but the content stays pretty PG/PG-13. Not to its hindrance.

Rating: 9/10

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Look ~ Sophia Bennett (earc) review

The Look
March 1, 2013
336 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

It was the cover of The Look that first drew my attention. When I saw that it was authored by Sophia Bennett (whose Threads I've been intrigued by -- but sadly, not read -- since its release) and published first by Chicken House who've yet to do me wrong, I was thrilled.

Can she be a supermodel and a super-sister? She finds her answer in just one look.

Two sisters, both beautiful in different ways: Fifteen-year-old Ted has got "The Look." That's what the scout for the modeling agency tells her, and she can't believe her luck. But just as Ted's jet-setting off on her new career, Ava is diagnosed with cancer. Can Ted be a supermodel and a super-sister? Or will she have to choose between family and fame? With their worlds turned upside down, the girls have to look past appearances, look deep inside, to figure out what really matters.

Part fun, lighter self discovery novel and part heavier, family drama, Bennett's The Look pairs Ted's foray into the world of modelling with Ava's cancer diagnosis -- and all that both new worlds entail. Neither girl is experiencing things they  ever expected yet they each have their sister there by their side.

As much as possible

Ted and Ava are quite different girls, something we learn from the very beginning of the story. Ava's the one everyone would 'expect' to be a model: bubbly, gorgeous, outgoing. While Ted's too tall, too skinny, awkward, and doesn't care about fashion or those in it. Yet, we also see right from the beginning the relationship the sisters have with each other and what they'll do for each other.

Their relationship is one of the things that makes The Look so brilliant. We see the changes it goes through, as Ava's life changes, as Ted's life changes, as the family's whole life changes. I loved that they were such different individuals but also such close sisters. They didn't need to be carbon copies of each other to get on well and they didn't hate each other because of their differences.

Ava's battle with cancer definitely brings a high level of emotion to The Look - as does how well Bennett writes it. Things are kept out of any melodrama territory, though, by Ava's attitude toward things, Ted's modelling prospects and that line of the story and that the two halves of the story are balanced so well.

Bennett does a good job having the modelling details included so that it doesn't feel like someone imagining being a model but like what it's supposed to be, Ted being a model. The details around Ava's cancer also are there and help that feel real as well. While proper terminology may seem small, using it really keeps readers in the story and makes the story feel more whole and enjoyable.

Ted doesn't have her life over here and Ava has hers over there. Though modelling and cancer may seem very divergent plot lines, they're fully integrated in The Look for a very cohesive story. One with strong emotion and fantastic character. It is a great read.

The very ending may have seemed to be a wrapped up a little . . . neatly. Though, I can't think of any other way to end it all that would not have. Still a great read that I highly recommend.

Rating: 9.5/10 so 10/10

thank you to Scholastic & NetGalley for my egalley

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn't leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….

With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.

Will be published September 10, 2013 by Katherine Tegen Books -- add it to your Goodreads

Admittedly the synopsis alone would leave me not completely sold on this one (sorry, synopsis writer!). It leaves me with too many questions about Lynn's world and the Not a Drop to Drink world in general.

However, the last paragraph about the writing and style of the novel paired with that cover got me really excited to read this one.

That, and it also had me rereading the synopsis. Lynn and her mother on the roof with rifles defending their pond? Alright, I'm curious as to what exactly the deal is in Not a Drop to Drink and I'm Waiting On this one.

What are you Waiting On this Wednesday? Link me?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.  Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

 • Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
 • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week's teaser:
"Cass was having trouble keeping up. She was fighting back dizziness, and her reactions felt slow, like her brain wasn't talking right to her body."

- pg 26 Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum

add it on Goodreads

I'm always looking for books to add to my TBR list -- if you did a TBR list, link me to it!

Breaking Point ~ Kristen Simmons

Breaking Point (Article 5 #2)
Tor Teen
February 12, 2013
400 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

** Synopsis and review contain spoilers or Article 5 (#1) -- my review **

Ember Miller and Chase Jennings were able to fake their deaths and escape from prison and the FBR, the Federal Bureau of Reformation. They made their way to a hotel full of the Resistance -- the secret, underground group planning to take down the government and the FBR. If they can just stay out of sight, keep the FBR believing they're dead, they should be safe. . .

Then things erupt. There's a sniper taking out FBR soldiers. No one knows who the sniper is, not even those in the Resistance but it seems everyone has an idea. And then a 'Most Wanted' list with FBR's suspects is released and everything changes for Chase and Ember.

Simply laying low isn't going to work anymore.

Will Ember hide out until it's over or will she reach her breaking point and fight?

If you saw my review of Article 5 last year you know that Breaking Point had a lot to live up to for me. Did it? Absolutely.

I still love Chase and Ember. Though I was in love with their chemistry in the first book, I love that we're able to see different sides of them in this book. As the situations are so different from those in Article 5 it's hard to say if they're together more than in that book or not. However, I like we see more of each of their strength as well as their weaknesses. Things that were presented in Article 5 are developed and/or affect the characters here.

Kristen Simmons has a plot that both draws you in while also making you think about the implications. There aren't holes or absurdities done just to get something else done. It's a great tale. Then the characters are brilliant. Old characters are back and quite possibly better than they were before. Chase and Ember continue to grow and become two great characters you love to have lead the story. The Resistance characters are a great addition (though one I thought for sure was something quite different than they were!).

I realized part way into Breaking Point that I was mixing up some of the details about Ember's Article 5 story with the story of Eve from Anna Carey's Eve, in terms of the 'school'. There's not a lot of recap in Breaking Point. It works in a lot of ways because you are pulled directly into Ember and Chase's very intense story and the key points are mentioned when they're necessary. (Or they're big enough that you remember them or figure them out.) If you do like having more of the 'previously' in your head and don't remember Article 5, I'd suggest a reread or at least re-skim?

Article 5 was one of those books that came up with an incredible concept and then gave me even better characters. I was so happy that there was going to be a second book. Now, after reading it, I'm still that happy and am looking forward to seeing how it concludes next year!

Rating: 10/10

Other books you might also enjoy: Legend by Marie Lu and The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

Monday, March 18, 2013

Undead ~ Kristy McKay review

Chicken House
September 1, 2012
272 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

I seem to have fantastic luck with books published by Chicken House (and I have a review of another coming soon). From Rachel Ward's Numbers series to Lucy Christopher's Stolen and now Kristy McKay's Undead they've been quite different titles, but ones I've enjoyed immensely.

In Undead, McKay's debut, Bobby is the British-then American-now British again (even she's trying to fully figure it out) new girl with enough to stress about already when her school ski trip goes all kinds of wrong.

The braindead, possible zombified kind of wrong.

The day of the ski trip, when the bus comes to a stop at a roadside restaurant, everyone gets off and heads in for lunch. Everyone, that is, except Bobby, the new girl, who stays behind with rebel-without-a-clue Smitty.

Then hours pass. Snow piles up. Sun goes down. Bobby and Smitty start to flirt. Start to stress. Till finally they see the other kids stumbling back.

But they've changed. And not in a good way. Straight up, they're zombies. So the wheels on the bus better go round and round freakin' fast, because that's the only thing keeping Bobby and Smitty from becoming their classmates' next meal. It's kill or be killed in these hunger games, heads are gonna roll, and homework is most definitely gonna be late.

It'll be up to their band of not so merry misfits to do all that they can to survive this possible-zombie possible-apocalypse. And to not want to kill each other along the way.

Undead is fantastically funny. There's humor in places that I didn't quite expect to bring the funny. Yet, there's also some quite dark moments and more than a few gross ones.

It is a Young Adult book and doesn't stray past that age range/maturity in content but it's not campy or corny, either. There's a great balance of the dark humor the characters use to bring levity to the situation they find themselves in and the heaviness of that situation. (The book dose usually end up a bit more on the lighter side.)

The setting plays into the story and how it develops incredibly well. Really anywhere else, the story wouldn't have worked. The setting not only provides, well, setting in physical locations that make parts of the story possible, it's also key in who Bobby's character is and where she is mentally, emotionally is in Undead and a few smaller things. Usually we thing of settings in dystopian novels effecting characters' lives and the world around them, I loved seeing it here. It's definitely one of the best uses of
setting I've seen -- well, read.

The combination of characters here can seem a bit archetypal (in that you can assign them each a type and they're types quite often present in YA novels. . . and/or horror movies). How they interact with each other and the difference traits in each character that the others seemed to bring out kept them unique.

Bobby may be one of my favorite new-to-the-school girls, too. True Undead isn't set in a school so that makes her situation different right off the bat, but she's not your typical new girl. She wasn't the social butterfly -- or the painfully shy wallflower. She seemed the most well adjusted, not quite well adjusted yet new girl. It was a refreshing change from a lot of novels where new kids to school seem to be one extreme or the other.

The ending had more than one nice (maybe not so nice?) surprise and I'm really exited for the US release of Unfed, the sequel.

Rating: 9/10

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Waiting On, well, Thursday

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

This week's (day-late) pick is:

Sky on Fire (Monument 14 #2) by Emmy Laybourne

The world hasn't ended...yet.

In this sequel to MONUMENT 14, the group of survivors, originally trapped together in a superstore by a series of escalating disasters, has split in two. Most of the kids are making a desperate run on their recently repaired school bus for the Denver airport where they hope to reunite with their parents, be evacuated to safety, and save their dying friend.

But the world outside is dark and filled with dangerous chemicals that turn people into bloodthirsty monsters, and not all the kids were willing to get on the bus. Left behind in a sanctuary that has already been disturbed once, the remaining kids try to rebuild the community they lost. But when the issues are life and death, love and hate, who can you really trust?

I love that the cover fits so well with the cover of Monument 14 - which I loved.

One of the things that can really bug me is when books in a series either don't make it clear that they are a series book or it's hard to tell which order they go in. So, I love that this book has 'Monument 14' as part of the title letting you know it goes with the first book Monument 14 and a quote 'on Monument 14' on the top as well, so readers get one more hint that there's a first book.

I really, really loved Monument 14 [reviewed it here] and after the ending left things on quite a cliffhanger for the characters I'm really anxious to read Sky on Fire and find out what happens.

Will be published May 28th by Feiwel & Friends
add to Goodreads

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Strands of Bronze and Gold ~ Jane Nickerson (earc) review

Strands of Bronze and Gold (Strands of Bronze & Gold #1)
Random House Children's Books
March 12, 2013
352 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

There are some great YA novels out this winter/spring based on old novels or fairy tales. First was The Madmam's Daughter inspired by HG Wells' The Island of Dr Moreau and now there's Strands of Bronze and Gold, a retelling of the Bluebeard fairy tale.

It's always fun to read novels that are based on or inspired by or retellings of stories we already know but I loved that I wasn't already familiar with either of these tales. I loved not knowing what was going to come with each turn of the page.

Jane Nickerson has chosen a fantastic setting for Strands of Bronze and Gold. In 1855 after the death of her father, Sophia Pertheram leaves behind Boston and her siblings for a new life in Mississippi. Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather, has invited her to live with him at Wyndriven Abbey. Sophie goes expecting a life of luxury with de Cressac and his fine French wife.

What greets her is much different.

Though she is living a life much more luxurious than she could have hoped, the rest of life with her guardian is quite different than she expected. Isolated from the outside world, Sophia starts to long for someone other than de Cressac, even as his attention turn towards her. Attentions she's not sure she wants . . . and not sure she doesn't.

Then there's the matter of his past wives having red hair, red hair just like her.

Both the time in which Strands of Bronze and Gold as well as the geographical location add some quite interesting bits to the story. Sophia is a girl -- a young, unmarried young woman -- which limits the options available to her with those she deals with every day as well as with the world at large. There are times in the novel when, as a reader, you want Sophia to do something more, to take some other action but given the time -- and the location -- it's not feasible.

Slavery is also a part of the story. Not only does it, logically, bring characters into the story but it also allows readers to see traits of some characters we might not otherwise see. How different characters feel about slavery -- and the people themselves -- as well as the conflicts it creates among different characters is a great addition to the story and very fitting. With Sophia being from Boston and the story set in Mississippi, it works very well.

The tension in this story is quite incredible. As mentioned, you do want Sophia to do something at times but it's also understandable why she is not.That she can't and that so many things keep her so isolated and keep seeming to cage her in more and more, only serve to amp up the suspense.  The mystery of what's going to happen, where things will go for her, how she'll manage, is all great.

Along with that mystery and suspense, the relationships she builds with some fairly unlikely characters make the story even more enjoyable, add some hope for her, but also some worry, as well. Worry that something may happen to them for it.

It was a bit odd having Sophia always talking of her 'godfather,' especially as certain parts of the story developed, only because I kept reading it as grandfather. Aside form that, however, there wasn't much at all I didn't just love about this one. It didn't grab me right away but after that, it just kept on going and I had to know how it would all turn out!

Rating: 9/10

thank you to Random House & NetGalley for me egalley

COVER REVEAL: Demon Derby by Carrie Harris

Thanks to the amazing Random House and AToMR Tours, I'm part of the Cover Reveal for Carrie Harris' upcoming YA novel DEMON DERBY today!!

before you see the cover, read about Demon Derby
Casey kicked cancer’s ass. Now a demon wants to kick hers...

Casey hates being known as the girl who survived cancer. She wants people to treat her like her old self, fearless and strong. And after a creepy encounter with a crazy guy in an alley, Casey is all about reclaiming her power.

So when she has a chance to try out for the Apocalypsies roller derby team, she jumps on it. Being a derby girl would prove that she doesn’t need anybody’s pity. It doesn’t hurt that

Michael, the team manager, is almost unnaturally hot. Which makes sense when Casey finds out that he’s not even human.

Michael’s got a secret: he trains demon hunters. That crazy guy in the alley? Demon. And the fact that Casey went head to head with evil and lived makes her a threat to demonkind. Casey thought she’d already fought and won the battle of her lifetime. But it’s only beginning...From Carrie Harris, author of Bad Taste in Boys and Bad Hair Day, comes a knockout new read for anyone facing their own demons—inside and out.

Now, what you're waiting for . . . just click to see the cover:

Monday, March 11, 2013

Mila 2.0 ~ Debra Driza (earc) review

Mila 2.0 (Mila 2.0 #1)
Katherine Tegen Books
March 12, 2013
480 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Mila can't remember who she was. After moving, with her mother, to small town Clearwater, Minnesota after her father was killed in a fire she's struggling to come to terms with the past -- and remember it.

She can't remember if she used to like chocolate ice cream or pink finger nail polish. What she used to like wearing -- anything that made her her. All the little things.

It's even more surprising when she learns the reason for all of those gaps: Mila isn't a real teenage girl. Created in a lab, programmed to act like a teenager, she's also incredibly dangerous. And incredibly valuable in the right hands.

Now, with the threat of 'termination' looming after her escape from that lab and someone after her for the advanced technology she possesses -- even if she isn't aware of how to use it -- Mila's on the run. Trying to stay alive, at least as alive as she's ever been, and discovering more disconcerting things about herself at every turn.

Debra Driza's debut, Mila 2.0, was sold as 'Bourne-style' and though I can see that, a bit, I am hoping for more of it in the second book. With Mila, the initial setup where we meet Mila and the other characters, get a little introduction to how Mila's life is, is good.  It's nice to see that her life is relatively normal, albeit affected by the death of her father and the gaps in her memory. We also see the little quirks, too.

When things really start to kick in with the plot -- the scifi aspect coming into play and Mila's origin being explained -- I did wish for something . . . more. Or less, strangely. There was not quite enough unknown or quite enough known, either. At the same time I was wondering what exactly was so special about Mila and what she was able to do that someone was after her (the not enough known side), I also wanted there to be a bit more mystery on the side of what had happened in taking her from the lab (not enough unknown).

The balance between giving enough to pull me in, but keeping enough hidden to keep me interested -- and the story tense -- wasn't quite met here.

The last (about) thirty percent of the story was the best for me. The characters involved there are some of the best in the book -- and I do hope some of them make an appearance in Book 2. They have great interactions with Mila. Two in particular provide quite a great contrast, one seeming to see only her as android and the other seeming to see her human aspects.

The combination of the tension really amping up, the great character interaction and the promises it seems to hold for Book 2 (as well as some hopes I have), made this my favorite section.

Now that both readers and Mila know more about her, where she came from and what she can do, I'm anxious to see where Book 2 takes her!

Rating: 7/10

thank you to Harper & Edelweiss for the egallley

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Release Event ~ Trust In Me (+ Giveaway)

Today I'm taking part in the promo Release Event for Bethany Lopez's New Adult novella Trust in Me the third book in the Friends & Lovers series.

Keep reading to find the synopsis, the author's bio. the book trailer, and excerpt . . . and your chance to win a copy!

About Trust in Me:
Roni’s dreams of becoming a contemporary dancer were smashed under the brutal rage of her ex-husband's fists. Getting divorced and starting over at the age of twenty-two was never her plan, but maybe in Texas, she'll find her path. When the town's local player, Rich, opens a Rec Center, she sees a way to rekindle her dancing dreams...and maybe have a little fun with her sexy new boss.

Rich never expected to fulfill his dreams in the town he planned to leave behind, but that's just what he's doing. His reputation as a noncommittal ladies' man might make it challenging to earn respect in the business world, but he's willing to prove that he's serious. In fact, when it comes to pursuing Roni, he's more than willing. But she's taking a page out of his book, not wanting to risk another relationship. Can he convince her that his playboy days are over and that she can trust him with her heart?
Published: February 28, 2013; Contemporary romance
Buy from: B&N/Smashwords/Amazon


Excerpt + Giveaway + Author Bio below . . .

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Revolution ~ Jennifer Donnelly (audio) review

Delacorte Books for Young Readers/Listening Library
October 12, 2010
472 pages/15 hours, 1 min
add to Goodreads/find on Audible/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

[paperback cover]
I don't always review the 'old' books I read, tending to focus more on upcoming/recent releases or those with sequels coming out. Some, however, just can't be ignored.

So, if you've already read this one ages ago, forgive me. If you haven't, here's an older book to consider.

From the synopsis available on Goodreads:
From the privileged streets of modern Brooklyn to the heart of the French Revolution, Jennifer Donnelly, author of the award-winning novel A Northern Light, artfully weaves two girls’ stories into one unforgettable account of life, loss, and enduring love. Revolution spans centuries and vividly depicts the eternal struggles of the human heart.

BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.

PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.

Revolution was actually a book I kept thinking about and thinking about reading or listening to, but then never actually doing it. I'm not sure what pushed me to finally do it, but I'm so glad it did. I haven't read anything by Jennifer Donnelly before (though her other books are also on my 'to read' list) and was more than pleasantly surprised by Revolution.
Andi and her mother are in a troubled, seemingly codependent relationship with Andi's father mostly out of the picture, living his 'new' life. It's when he steps in and takes action that Revolution starts, but not when Andi begins to change.

That seems to being after she finds Alex's diary. Written during the throes of the French Revolution, the diary connects Andi to a girl from centuries ago. A girl that soon seems not that from her. Andi lost her brother and it's still tearing her up while, in the days of the diary at least, Alex is getting closer to a boy the same age.
[hardcover & usual audio cover]

The parallels Donnelly drew between Andi and Alex, both the more obvious ones and those that took a little more time to see, were brilliant. It made Andi's pain that much more real, for her and readers but also made Alex come alive more.

Despite the similarities in the girls lives, relationships, their stories did stay very separate and I kept waiting for what would bring finally overlap the two timelines. Things came together differently than I was expecting yet I like the way that it all happened. Especially the end end.

Deeper and so much better than I expected Revolution was a fantastic audio book listen. The narrators for both Alex and Andi do a great job. The narration of Alex's part is done with a French accent, obviously, but it's not one that interferes with understanding the reading. (I've listened to -- or tried listening to -- an audio book before where the narrator had overdone accent, not their natural one, that was distracting).

My only real issue with the audio is that Emily Janice Card's narration of Andi is a bit louder than Emma Bering's narration of Alexandrine. It's not much, but it is noticeable.

Rating: 9/10 ~ a definite audio listen

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

Smuggler's Kiss by Marie-Louise Jensen

It's not a crime to steal a heart

Smugglers are cut-throat rascals. At least that's what Isabelle's always been told. But when she's rescued from drowning at sea by the crew of a notorious smuggling ship, her principles are thrown into confusion. Outwitting the king's men fills her with excitement, especially when she's with one mysterious smuggler in particular . . .
It's not available in the US (and I can't see if/when it will be) but it is available in the UK at Waterstones which has an even better synopsis:

"You're smugglers?" "That ain't what we call ourselves." His voice rumbled deep in his chest. "We're Gentlemen o' the Night." In the autumn of 1720, Isabelle does something which changes her life for ever. But though Isabelle has fled, she is still trapped. If the secret of her previous life is revealed then the smugglers who have found her will not let her stay on board The Invisible - and she has nowhere else to go. To survive, Isabelle must help her captors - even though she detests what they do. But soon her principles are thrown into confusion, as she discovers that outwitting the King's Men fills her with excitement. Soon she finds herself becoming fiercely loyal to the crew - and to one mysterious smuggler in particular ...
add it on Goodreads and/or ask Book Depository to notify you if they get it

I blame Avi's The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle for my love of just about every book with the promise of a girl on a ship . . . and then the library and books on pirates (and Pirates of the Caribbean if I'm being completely honest) for the fact that I love anything that even maybe puts them together. Yes, these are smugglers, but really . . .

What's your pick this fine Wednesday?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Life of Pi ~ Review + Blu Ray Giveaway

Life of Pi
123 minutes; Fox
March 12, 2013
info on IMDb/buy BluRay/DVD on Amazon/3D BluRay/Instant Video
(with Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan)

Based on Yann Martel's novel Life of Pi, the Ang Lee directed film of the same name was nominated for eleven Academy Awards and will be released on Blu Ray March 12th.

If you don't want to wait until then, though, you can enter here!

First, a bit about the film:
A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor: a fearsome Bengal tiger.
And what I thought of it: A shipwreck finds Pi (whose name is explained in the beginning of the film), alone on a life raft with a Bengal tiger. That premise is just about all that I knew based on the promotions of the movie -- and not having read the novel yet. I was, however, pleasantly surprised at just how much more there is to the story including in the lead up to them being at sea.

We learn a lot about Pi, his family, India at that time, and some of Pi's more interesting personality traits. He's a unique character, for sure.

While it is incredibly easy to get quite literally swept away with the fantastical story of a boy and a tiger alone at sea, those in charge of the story do not.

We're reminded of Pi's character and those traits we saw earlier in the movie.  Keeping everything tied together yet without any of it being too much.

The ending is pretty fantastic, as well.

Life of Pi is a gorgeous movie with brilliant filming and use of color. At times the colors are only beautiful and great to look at, but other times they're magical and fantastic, truly setting the scene. Richard Parker, the tiger, does seem quite real. Yes, it's a CGI tiger, but it's quite hard to tell.

Life of Pi is a film that will take you away for a while . . . but then may bring you back with a few questions -- all very worth it.

Click below to see read (in a piece provided by ThinkJam/Fox) how Ang Lee too Life of Pi from book to screen . . . then enter to win the Blu Ray

Monday, March 4, 2013

Origins: The Fire (Mila 0.5) ~ Debra Driza review

Origins: The Fire (Mila 2.0 #0.5)
Katherine Tegen Books
January 8, 2013
15 pages (ebook)
on Goodreads/get for Kindle or NOOK

pre-order MILA 2.0 on Amazon

 It seems like a lot of novels are now having prequels - some even published after the novel itself. Some, however, are better than others.

Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza is out next week (my review is shortly forthcoming) but the prequel, Origins: The Fire came out as an ebook in January. The available synopsis for this is based more on where Mila 2.0 picks up after Origins, really and what the short story is about is actually all in the title -- the 'origins' of where we we start the novel and the fire that gets us there.

It's a great introduction to several things: Mila, the science fiction that's in -- but not front and center --her life, and Driza's writing. It's a fast paced short story that very much draws the reader in, leaving them wanting more.

Thankfully there is more, in the form of an excerpt (and not a stingy one, either) of Mila 2.0.

Origins: The Fire isn't something that needs to be read to pick up Mila 2.0 when it's released on the 12th but readers who have read it will feel like they've been let in on a little secret. Maybe even one Mila herself isn't in on. This is a time when I was glad I (pre-)ordered the ebook prequel . . . even if I already had the earc (ooops).

synopses for both Origins: The Fire and Mila 2.0 under the jump

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Dream Reading Spot

While I wouldn't also love a good snowball fight right now, how perfect does this look? It makes me just long for the perfect summer day -- and the perfect Southern, Gothic romance fill that day reading

Have a pic/pin/whatever of your current ideal reading spot? Share it -- in a pot or the comments

Friday, March 1, 2013

Video Veneris

It's about time I got back to posting book (sometimes movie) trailers on Fridays. This week's trailer is for Liz Coley's Pretty Girl-13

While I haven't had the chance to read Pretty Girl-13 yet, I like the way the disjointed images in the trailer parallel Angie's fractured, memory. This is a book I'm looking forward to!

If want a more 'wordy' what it's about, here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

Reminiscent of the Elizabeth Smart case, Pretty Girl-13 is a disturbing and powerful psychological mystery about a girl who must piece together the story of her kidnapping and captivity.

Angie Chapman was thirteen years old when she ventured into the woods alone on a Girl Scouts camping trip. Now she's returned home…only to find that it's three years later and she's sixteen-or at least that's what everyone tells her.

What happened to the past three years of her life?

Angie doesn't know.

But there are people who do—people who could tell Angie every detail of her forgotten time, if only they weren't locked inside her mind. With a tremendous amount of courage, Angie embarks on a journey to discover the fragments of her personality, otherwise known as her "alters." As she unearths more and more about her past, she discovers a terrifying secret and must decide: When you remember things you wish you could forget, do you destroy the parts of yourself that are responsible?

Liz Coley's alarming and fascinating psychological mystery is a disturbing-and ultimately empowering-page-turner about accepting our whole selves, and the healing power of courage, hope, and love.

Published by Harper Teen, it's out March 19th

Enjoy the weekend!!
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