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Archive for November 2012

Blog Tour: Stalk Me by Jillian Dodd [Promo & Giveaway]

Friday, November 30, 2012 § 3 Comments

Title: Stalk Me (Keatyn Chronicles, #1)
Author: Jillian Dodd
Genre: Romance
Age group: Mature Young Adult
Release date: September 1, 2012
Gossip girl meets Hollywood in this new series by Jillian Dodd

Keatyn has everything she ever dreamed of. Her life is following the script she wrote for the perfect high school experience. She’s popular, goes to the best parties, dates the hottest guy, and sits at the most coveted lunch table.

She’s just not sure she wants it anymore.

Because really, things aren’t all that perfect.
Her best friend is threatening to tell everyone her perfect relationship is a scam.
Her perfect boyfriend gets drunk at every party they go to.
It’s exhausting always trying to look and act perfect.
And deep down, she isn’t sure if she has any true friends.

To add to the drama, her movie star mom has a creepy stalker.
A hot, mysterious man keeps flirting with her and telling her they should make a movie together.
And she’s crushing on an adorable surfer. Dating him would mean committing social suicide.

So she writes a new script. One where all the pieces of her life will come together in perfect harmony.

But little does she know, there's someone who will do anything to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Tour Giveaway:
Click here to enter to win an eBook copy of STALK ME (copies will be gifted from Amazon or Barnes and Noble); open internationally. Click here to enter to win a signed paperback copy of STALK ME; open to US/Canada.

Be sure to check out book #2 in the Keatyn Chronicles, KISS ME, available now. Also, STALK ME will be on sale for .99 the week of the tour then return to its normal price of $2.99 on December 2.

Social Media links:
Website | Pinterest | Wwitter | Facebook Fan Page | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page
Keatyn Chronicles Fan Page | Keatyn Chronicles on Twitter

Links to find/buy the book:
Amazon | B&N | Kobo
(Also available through iTunes)
About the author:
Jillian Dodd grew up on a farm in Nebraska, where she developed a love for Midwestern boys and Nebraska football. She has drank from a keg in a cornfield, attended the University of Nebraska, got to pass her candle, and did have a boy ask her to marry him in a bar. She met her own prince in college, and they have two amazing children, a Maltese named Sugar Bear, and two Labrador puppies named Camber Lacy and Cali Lucy. She is the author of the That Boy Trilogy and The Keatyn Chronicles Series.
Jillian Dodd | Facebook | Twitter

Check out the other stops on the tour, hosted by AToMR.

Review: What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang

Friday, November 23, 2012 § 5 Comments

Title: What's Left of Me
Author: Kat Zhang
Series: The Hybrid Chronicles, Book 1
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release date: September 18, 2012
ISBN-10: 0062114875
ISBN-13: 9780062114877
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
I should not exist. But I do.

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t...

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet... for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

My Review:
Every body begins with two souls. There is a dominant soul and a recessive one. By the time a child reaches a certain age, the recessive soul settles, fading away into non-existence while the dominant soul continues on. Addie and Eva are faced with a problem: They are 15-years-old and Eva, the recessive, hasn't settled. They are a Hybrid, living in a world where they are considered illegal and a threat to society. Eva lives in Addie's head, trapped with only Addie knowing of her lingering existence. Addie keeps up appearances, knowing they'll be products of scientific experiments and get locked up with the other Hybrids to have them "fixed" if anyone finds out her secret. One day, they meet someone who can change both of their lives-- they'll be able to share their body once more. Will they risk it all for Eva to be able to truly live again?

It's not everyday you come across a story like this. Kat Zhang created this world where it's typical for two souls to encompass one body... for a while. If the second soul does not settle, they're in some serious trouble. The plot screams originality, and that's what drew me to this book in leiu of all the current dystopian titles that all seem to follow the same formula in terms of character characteristics and locations. Imagine having to share your thoughts with someone contstantly while living in a world where it was completely forbidden. Then imagine being the one sharing a body but having no control over anything. It's chilling.

Zhang did an amazing job writing two completely different characters who share one body; they were one being on the outside, but inside was a literal back and forth struggle. The relationship between Addie and Eva was written amazingly well. It was obvious through their conversations and thoughts that one couldn't live without the other. To let go of Eva would be the toughest thing for Addie, and it's so heartbreaking to read the story through Eva's perspective, being unable to do anything besides voice her thoughts to no one else but Addie. Having the recessive soul be the narrator for the story was such a nice touch.

While I was completely taken by the originality of it all, there were a few letdowns. As far as dystopians go, I'm personally really big on world-building. The world that Addie and Eva were living in wasn't thoroughly explored, and I wasn't sure how far into the future the story took place. It could have been set in the present, for all I knew. I'm not overly upset with that fact, though, because the story was so character-driven and it was interesting to read about how Addie and Eva worked and struggled together. It is, after all, their story.

Keeping on the topic of characters, I was also hoping for more of the secondary characters. That's especially true for Hally and Devon. The way they were written into the story was so well-done, with Addie and Eva witnessing both of their back-and-forths first-hand. The characters in this book were quite literally doubly more interesting to read about.

I am, however, giving it the benefit of the doubt. The book is the first in a series, and as I expected, this installment was more of an introduction. I'm crossing my fingers that there will be more exposure for the other characters in the coming books. I'm really interested to see how relationships between individual souls will work. More details on this society and how they operate wouldn't hurt, as well. It's just all so fascinating and I felt like there could have been more explanations as to why things were happening.

Overall, I was happy with this book. It's definitely an original in its genre of dystopian YA novels, concentrating more on character-building and their inner self-struggles than the world-building.

My rating:

Visit the author:
Official website | Twitter | Goodreads

Buy this book:
IndieBound.org | Amazon.com | Indigo.ca

Giveaway: Black Friday Book Bonanza Giveaway Hop

Thursday, November 22, 2012 § 1 Comment

Black Friday Book Bonanza // November 23-25, 2012
Instead of running out to the stores on Black Friday, stay in and win new or new-to-you books. Once again, the hosts for this hop are Heather from Book Savvy Babe, Jenn from The Bawdy Book Blog, and Lisa from Alive on the Shelves.

Happy Black Friday! I'm so excited to be a part of this hop. I'll be giving away 4 books from my own collection that I hope you'll enjoy. These books have only been read once and are still in great condition. This hop runs from November 23 - 25.

  • There will be one (1) winner who will receive all four (4) books
  • The giveaway is open to residents in Canada and the United States only
  • All entry methods will be verified
  • The winner will have 48 hours to respond to a confirmation e-mail from me, or another winner will be chosen
Title: Along for the Ride
Author: Sarah Dessen
Genre: Romance, contemporary
Release Date: April 5, 2011
Format: Hardcopy (paperback)

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.
Title: Vampire Academy
Author: Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy, Book 1
Genre: Paranormal, fantasy, romance
Release Date: August 16, 2007
Format: Hardcopy (hardcover)

St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger...

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.
Title: Jane
Author: April Lindner
Genre: Romance, contemporary
Release Date: October 11, 2010
Format: Hardcopy (hardcover)

Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, a world-famous rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance.

But there's a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane's much-envied relationship with Nico is soon tested by an agonizing secret from his past. Torn between her feelings for Nico and his fateful secret, Jane must decide: Does being true to herself mean giving up on true love?

An irresistible romance interwoven with a darkly engrossing mystery, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers.
Title: Glow
Author: Amy Kathleen Ryan
Series: Sky Chasers, Book 1
Genre: Dystopian, fantasy, romance
Release Date: September 13, 2011
Format: Hardcopy (hardcover)

What if you were bound for a new world, about to pledge your life to someone you'd been promised to since birth, and one unexpected violent attack made survival—not love—the issue?

Out in the murky nebula lurks an unseen enemy: the New Horizon. On its way to populate a distant planet in the wake of Earth's collapse, the ship's crew has been unable to conceive a generation to continue its mission. They need young girls desperately, or their zealous leader's efforts will fail. Onboard their sister ship, the Empyrean, the unsuspecting families don't know an attack is being mounted that could claim the most important among them...

Fifteen-year-old Waverly is part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space; she was born on the Empyrean, and the large farming vessel is all she knows. Her concerns are those of any teenager—until Kieran Alden proposes to her. The handsome captain-to-be has everything Waverly could ever want in a husband, and with the pressure to start having children, everyone is sure he's the best choice. Except for Waverly, who wants more from life than marriage—and is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.

But when the Empyrean faces sudden attack by their assumed allies, they quickly find out that the enemies aren't all from the outside.
There are a lot of other blogs participating in this giveaway hop, so please check them out for more amazing titles.

Good luck!

Top Ten Tuesday (3): Books/Authors I'm Thankful For

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 § 5 Comments

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish:
This week is authors/books you're thankful for. Here's my list in no particular order.
  1. J.K. Rowling: Obvious choice, but I'm thankful that she introduced the world to these amazing characters and this magical place that has captivated millions. Her books played a big part in shaping my childhood/adolescence, and... let's be real, much of my early adult years. Which are still going on. I don't think I'll ever not love Harry Potter. This series has helped me form strong bonds with people that are very dear to my heart.
  2. Stephen Chbosky: For writing my all-time favourite book. It's helped me as a teenager, aided me in discovering who I wanted to be growing up. I'm glad The Perks of Being a Wallflower helped a lot of other teens and continues to do so after all these years. I'm also thankful that a movie finally got made after years of discussion, and that Chbosky was still the one who brought it to life.
  3. C. S. Lewis: For just writing some of the most amazing, mystical, and smart stories I've ever read. I was so lucky to be introduced to his work at such a young age. Becuase of Narnia, I was fascinated with his storytelling and continued to discover more of his work as I got older.
  4. Annette Curtis Klaus: For introducing me to the YA paranormal/supernatural genre. Blood and Chocolate and Silver Kiss were the first werewolf and vampire books that I had ever read, long before I was even aware of Twilight and the Vampire Diaries.
  5. Rick Riordan: For creating these amazing books on different types of mythology that kids and big kids alike can enjoy. Percy Jackson in particular really made me see the fun side of Greek mythology and was a nice aside while I was studying Classics in school.
  6. Jonathan Tropper: Because This Is Where I Leave You was the only book I read in the summer of 2010 that actually made me laugh out loud. It was also the first adult contemporary book I had picked up in a long time. I love YA, but it's nice having a break sometimes, and this one definitely made an impression on me.
  7. Hans Christian Andersen: I'm thankful for Hans Christian Andersen's work, everything from his fairy tales, poems, and quotes. Ever since I was a kid, my favourite work by him has always been The Little Mermaid. Even at a young age, I was fascinated by his original tale an since then, I've held a strong interest in old fairy tales and folk tales alike.
  8. Ann M. Martin: For writing The Baby-sitters Club, the first chapter books I'd ever read. This series kept me coming back to the library at my elementary school.
  9. Stephanie Meyer: Because even though I have a vehement dislike for Breaking Dawn, these books were the first that I read after graduating high school. Reading Twilight was a quick getaway in the midst of all that first year university work. Sure, sometimes I let my priorities slip and read instead of studying, but whatever, I've gotten my degree since then so it's A-okay. Plus they really introduced me to the YA genre... after I got sick of reading them over and over, lol. I branched out because of this series, and I'm really grateful for that.
  10. Cassandra Clare: She's written the first book series that I've obsessed over in a really long time. I haven't been invested in a series since Harry Potter. Not even my old love affair with Twilight can touch this (and I was obsessed with Twilight). On a more shallow end, I'm thankful that The Mortal Instruments are optioned and that the first is turning into a movie, and that she wanted Robert Sheehan since the beginning for Simon, because Simon is my favourite and even though he's been in some amazing projects since then, I was seriously gutted the hell out since Robert left Misfits and let's just say I was very, very distraught and, and, and... he's really hot, so, you know. Thanks for that. Who are we kidding, though? Robert Sheehan, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and Aidan Turner in one movie? Thank you, Ireland.

Review: Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt [ARC]

Monday, November 19, 2012 § 0 Comments

Title: Uses for Boys
Author: Erica Lorraine Scheidt
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release date: January 15, 2013
ISBN-10: 1250007119
ISBN-13: 9781250007117
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley
Anna remembers a time before boys, when she was little and everything made sense. When she and her mom were a family, just the two of them against the world. But now her mom is gone most of the time, chasing the next marriage, bringing home the next stepfather. Anna is left on her own—until she discovers that she can make boys her family. From Desmond to Joey, Todd to Sam, Anna learns that if you give boys what they want, you can get what you need. But the price is high—the other kids make fun of her; the girls call her a slut. Anna's new friend, Toy, seems to have found a way around the loneliness, but Toy has her own secrets that even Anna can't know.

Then comes Sam. When Anna actually meets a boy who is more than just useful, whose family eats dinner together, laughs, and tells stories, the truth about love becomes clear. And she finally learns how it feels to have something to lose—and something to offer.

My Review:
It all started when she was just a kid. It was just Anna and her mother, and no one else mattered. But as she got older, her mom began slipping away, instead slipping into the hands of man after different man. On the verge of adolescence, Anna then finds herself surrounded by boys that, to her discovery, can fill that void. Like mother, like daughter, after all. She's barely a teenager and she's had more experience than your average. She's a romantic, chasing after the perfect story to make her own harsh reality go away. She meets Toy, a girl whose stories of love make Anna try harder. But does she really know Toy? This book follows Anna as she discovers boys, love, family, and her experiences in losing it all just like that.

Interesting premise, but wow, was I ever disappointed. I wanted to like this book, I really did. But I literally spent most of my time reading it just because I wanted to finish it. I hate when I have to struggle to read through something, like in the back of my head I kept telling myself, "keep reading, maybe something epic will happen"... and nothing did.

I think my biggest problem with this book was the writing style. I didn't quite get it. I've read my share of contemporary books; very minimal in narration, but the heart was there. I didn't feel that with this book. The story was very disjointed and incomplete most of the time. There was no proper transition between chapters and even sentences. It was just so awkward. Anna goes through a lot in the early stages of the book, but she doesn't connect well. It's like she just narrates the events that happen, not so much how she feels. So there's a lack of connection with readers. The other characters weren't much better; her mom was never around, and her would-be best friend Toy was just as unlikeable as Anna. Then there were the titular "boys"... I can't even remember their names, save for one. Sam. In fairness, he was the most interesting. But that doesn't make much difference because even he was pretty bland.

The only part that I felt gave it a little redemption was when she and Sam met and they started up a relationship -- a real relationship. Anna spent more and more time with his family for dinner, they accepted her, they liked her. I actually found myself enjoying the fact that she finally found a family that she could spend time with, especially after having her own be practically non-existent. Then it got a little weird when she started wishing that she... was her boyfriend... and that his family was her family...? Yeah. This is the reason for my remaining stars in my rating; this, and the fact that I kept reading-- I saw the potential but I came out of the other end with very little satisfaction. Then after that, some stuff went down and she was back to the unlikeable Anna that I spent the last 70% of the book trying and failing to understand. I understood that she had issues, yes, and she wanted to be loved so she went out and found that in the male species, but maybe if the story was fleshed out a little more, I could feel more sympathy for Anna. I felt none at all.

The ending was also really random. It just sort of ended. I was honestly expecting another chapter, but it just stopped! It's like the final episode of The Sopranos. Either I'm just too shallow to understand that it was supposed to mean something really deep and meaningful, or it's just that bad. I thought it was a glitch in my eReader or in the file I was sent; I went back and forth between that last page and the acknowledgements and was all, "where's the next chapter?" but that was it!

Pretty cover, though.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for providing me with the ARC.

My rating:

Visit the author:
Official website | Twitter | Goodreads

Buy this book:
IndieBound.org | Amazon.com | BarnesandNoble.com

Review: Snow Whyte and the Queen of Mayhem by Melissa Lemon [ARC]


Title: Snow Whyte and the Queen of Mayhem
Author: Melissa Lemon
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Retelling
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.
Release date: December 11, 2012
ISBN-10: 1462111459
ISBN-13: 9781462111459
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley
Stuck in her family's apple orchards, Kat's got plenty of work to do and only pesky Jeremy to help. But when Jeremy convinces her to run away, Kat will discover that nothing---and no one---in her life is quite what it seems. Wonderfully reimagined, this is the magical tale of Snow White as you've never read it before!

My Review:
This enchanting re-telling of the timeless classic follows the journey of Kat, Princess of Mayhem, as she is forced out of her own kingdom at a young age. She grows up in an isolated apple orchard with her kind-hearted uncle, forced to stay within for her own safety. As years pass, her destiny catches up with her and things change in ways she never expected. Everything that's ever been familiar to her takes drastic turns and new life-changing encounters bring her closer to the past that was wrongfully and unknowingly taken away from her.

I am such a sucker for fairy tales. I especially love re-tellings of fairy tales that take on their own unique twist, but still retains that familiarity that made it a classic in the first place. This book has it all: the girl with skin as white as snow, the evil queen, the seven dwarves, and the magic mirror. Then there are the original additions, the lovely old-fashioned narrative, and captivating turns in the storyline. There aren't enough adjectives in the world to describe how much I enjoyed this book.

There are similar aspects between the original and Lemon's re-imagining, but she takes it to a whole other level with twists and revelations. One of the changes that I loved the most was that the evil stepmother, hell-bent on killing Snow White, was actually Kat's biological mother in this one. It makes it even more twisted and extreme; a mother wanting her own daughter dead? That has got to be one for the Freudian psychoanalytic theory books. She was actually born into royalty as opposed to being married into it, so she's rightfully allowed to have that kind of power. It's frightening. The dangers were clear and the Queen utilized her mirror to the best of her advantage, which made her the worst kind of villain, always lurking and waiting to exalt her power on those who defied her. Another thing was the choice for the narrator; he couldn't have been more perfect in context. It's narrated in omniscient third person, but in the best way possible: Jasper, the sole narrator, is the Queen's all-seeing mirror; a secondary character. How genius is that? The connections he had to Kat and the Queen made him a sympathetic and compelling character, as he was completely stuck, knowing what hardships lie ahead but being forced to watch from afar. The dwarves were also given a new spin, far from the Doc, Happy, Bashful, Grumpy et al. that we're used to in this day and age. There was much more dimension and realism to every single one of them. The characters that... weren't so likeable, they were still interesting. All in all, this book is filled with captivating characters and they're all intertwined in ways that I never saw coming.

The romance in the book was quite minimal, but it was there and drove much of the story along, especially in Jeremy's case. The other relationships were done very nicely as well, Kat and one of the dwarves named Pokole, in particular. The twists in the story lay more within the relationships than plot, and I found myself gaping at some of the reveals throughout the book.

Sight was an interesting concept in the book. The mirror saw everything while Kat only saw what was within the orchard. Her uncle lost his sight while the Queen never saw how her actions were affecting her reign and the townspeople. Also, the fantasy twist involving the snow fits so well into the story, and it's a creative twist at that.

Personally, neither the original European tale nor the Disney version are my favourites of all the fairy tales. Doesn't even crack the top 5. But this book is probably one of the best retelling's I've read in a long time, and while this is more of a re-imagining, it still made me re-evaluate and love the original tale a little bit more. Lemon gives readers a very original take on one of the most well-known classics. You'll feel the familiarity while being taken on a whole new enchanting ride with this version. It's one to watch for next month; I'd definitely recommend it to any Snow White fan! This is especially the perfect book for the winter season.

A huge thank you to NetGalley and Cedar Fort for providing me with the ARC.

My rating:

Visit the author:
Official website | Twitter | Goodreads
Buy this book:
CedarFort.com | IndieBound.org | Amazon.com

The Sunday Post: 7th Edition

Sunday, November 11, 2012 § 10 Comments

Hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer:
It's a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.
First off, Happy Remembrance Day (Veterans Day for our neighbours to the south). Thank you to all the men and women who have served and continue to serve our country.

So, my godson's 7th birthday party was last night (just a few hours ago, actually). It was awesome to see all of our hard work pay off. The theme was Pokemon, and there were games, prizes, a clown, a pinata... it was great! The kids had an awesome time and everything went super smooth. One of his friends even said it was the best birthday party he'd ever been to. Haha. Also ot a lot of compliments on the games and the decorations that my aunt did; so gratifying to hear. I can't believe my fave little guy is 7 already. Cue the tears! He's growing up so fast. He loved the gift my family and I had gotten him (a large Bowser plush doll), he couldn't put it down after he opened it. Do I know how to pick 'em or what. Lol. Had a great week prior as well. There was just a lot of assigned reading for classes, but nothing's perfect. ;)

Got a pretty good haul this week; keeping it quite small so I can catch up with my other books. I can't wait to get to it and share my thoughts with you all!

Last week:

This week in reviews:
  • What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang
  • Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
  • The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

New bookshelf additions:
via NetGalley

Being Henry David by Cal Armistead
Dancing in the Dark by Robyn Bavati
If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

Purchases / Downloads

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (Hardcopy)
Misfit by Jon Skovron (Hardcopy)
Catching You by Katie Gallagher (eBook)

Review: Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Friday, November 09, 2012 § 3 Comments

Title: Alice in Zombieland
Author: Gena Showalter
Series: White Rabbit Chronicles, Book 1
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Horror, Romance
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release date: September 25, 2012
ISBN-10: 0373210582
ISBN-13: 9780373210589
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real...

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies...

My Review:
For most of her life, Alice Bell has lived under a close watch by her father. He insisted that evil was out there; that there were monsters. Their family were never allowed to go out at night, and she had been taught how to fight at a young age, in case anything happened. Alice never believed him... until one day, after insisting that the family go out to watch her sister's dance recital, a tragic accident happens that leaves Alice completely alone. It turns out her father wasn't lying. There were monsters, and Alice had seen them with her own eyes. Now, she's moved and living with her grandparents, goes by Ali, and is pushed into the ever-exciting world of high school, where's she's now free to live the life she had never really known, all the while keeping the secret of what she saw the night her family died. Little did she know that there might be others like her out there, and her life would change much more than she thought it would.I had just finished reading Snow Whyte and the Queen of Mayhem and was still reeling from it when I started this book. So I was going into it expecting another take, this time of one on my favourite tales, Alice in Wonderland. ...It has nothing to do with Alice in Wonderland. Well, there are some references and allusions mixed in, but don't expect it to be a modern-day version of Lewis Carroll's classic.

With that aside, I was quite pleased with how the story went. I didn't go crazy over it or anything, but I couldn't put it down. The writing style was engaging and it was all paced nicely. The titles for each chapter had a little reference to Wonderland, which was kind of cool. The zombies in this book were way different than the usual. I thought it was done well, it's just so different that it shocked me something fierce.

There were a lot of characters in this book. I just need to pick on a few... at length. Kat, Ali's new BFF annoyed the living hell out of me when they first met. Ali's entire family just died, she was still in the hospital, and this girl comes in and goes on and on about her "man-whore" of a boyfriend and this "hobag" named Rina. Then she became super awesome as the book went on and now she's probably my favourite. She was a great comic relief to this otherwise intense story, and I'm glad that there ended up being much, much more to her than meets the eye. Our protagonist, Alice, on the other hand... I liked her in the beginning, especially her relationship with her sister Emma, then I got over her pretty quickly. I understand her angst and pain over losing her family, but she became... how do I put this nicely... she became kind of a bitch. And in a short period of time, too. Like where did that come from? Then there was Cole, the love interest. There's a line in the book where Ali says that every girl likes Cole; if they say they don't, then they're lying. I can dig that, sure. But he was described as being muscley, bruised and tatted up with violet eyes... his friends were described in the same style (some even had house arrest anklets, which just had to be pointed out each time for each different guy, just to show how dangerous they were, obviously). The picture I drew up in my head made me laugh and at the same time hope I never ran into people that looked like that out of fear of having the living crap beat out of me for doing something as simple as blinking in their direction. Also, I get that Ali was very, very attracted to Cole, but the narrative when it came to him was 90% focused on how he looked. Other than him being super hot and oh-so-badass on paper, though? I don't know, nothing really stood out about him. He was also kind of a bossy-boots. Needed to relax a little bit. This always happens to me; I find the side characters more interesting than the mains when it comes to book series. There were the others in Cole's group like Mackenzie, Bronx, Frosty (no, seriously, that's actually what they call him), then Kat's friends Reeve, Poppy, Wren, and a whole slew of others. I hope that in the next books, we get to find out a bit more about some of them.

The first half of the book was very high school clique-y for a zombie book, but hey. It can't be all about fighting zombies. It was kind of nice to see Ali living a regular high school life after all the years of isolation because of her father's fears. There was a lot of romance, and it covered the beginning of her and Cole's relationship and followed their evolution at a nice pace. They had some pretty steamy scenes, too, which worked, but it was kind of shocking to have it all shoved in my face early on. It's not necessarily insta-love between them, but you could tell that they were going to be attached at the hip by the end of it. The second half was better in terms of action, and as always, the plot twists happened here. I really liked those twists in the story near the end; I would have never seen them coming at all. I won't mention them here, but if you're planning on picking it up, you'll know what I'm talking about when you get to them.

I really, really wanted to absolutely love this book. I saw so much hype surrounding it, the title was a play on Alice in Wonderland and the synopsis made it sound really awesome. But honestly, I was underwhelmed most of the time and there were some aspects of the book that just confused me. Showalter's take on zombies threw me off the most. Not in a bad way at all -- it was actually really creatively done and very refreshing. I guess I'm just so used to the flesh-eating, grave-crawling, decayed zombies that we're so used to hearing about. Also maybe a little too complex for my brain to handle (or that could just be from me reading it at night all the time right before bed. Pretty sure I actually fell asleep one night mid-read just because I was so tired). I think I set up such high expectations, as well. Note to self: try not to. If you're into teen paranormal romance stories, though, this would be for you. Overall, this was a quick read, held my interest, and was a nice take on the whole zombie genre.

My rating:

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Feature & Follow: 5th Edition

Thursday, November 08, 2012 § 17 Comments

Hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read:
Gain Book Blog Followers and make new friends with the Book Blogger Feature & Follow! If this is your first time here, welcome! You are about to make some new friends and gain new followers — but you have to know — the point of this hop is to follow other bloggers also. I follow you, you follow me. The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee’s View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it’ll allow us to show off more new blogs! This week's features are Ramblings of a Coffee Adicted Writer & Paranormal Romance.
Q: Do you mind books with similar ideas to other books? Similar concepts, backgrounds, retellings or pulled-to-publish fanfic?
I guess it really depends. If a book directly lifts off another book's plot, character characteristics, and has no twists or at least some original qualities, then I mind very, very much. But if a book inspires another one and the author creates their own worlds and rules enough for the "original" (so to speak) to be just a thing in the background, then okay, cool. Especially if it's a part of a series that the author can expand on with their own original material as they keep writing. Retellings -- fairy tales in particular -- are some of my favourites... if done well. On the flip side, stuff pulled directly from fanfics isn't something high on my radar. Fifty Shades of Grey? Reeked of fanfic in the way it was written, then I found out it actually was a fanfic with the names changed (even the character descriptions were so obvious!) and there was some major side-eye going on. Not a fan.

Let's face it, though. If I wanted to avoid all the YA books out right now that had similar concepts to other ones, then I'd have nothing to read. How many books have we read about a heroine involved in a love triangle with a boy (or two) who's some form of supernatural creature? So, so many.

What about you guys? Thoughts? Let me know, and happy Friday. :)

Review: City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

Wednesday, November 07, 2012 § 2 Comments

Title: City of Ashes
Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: The Mortal Instruments, Book 2
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Adventure
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Release date: March 25, 2008
ISBN-10: 1416914293
ISBN-13: 9781416914297
Format: Hardcopy
Source: Purchased
Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City's Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation.

My Review:
First thing's first, I would definitely recommend reading City of Bones before City of Ashes, as the story takes place right after the events of the first book. It might will be confusing if you don't know the entire back story.

In the second installment of the Mortal Instruments, Clary Fray has finally found her mother after the life-changing events in the equally breathtaking predecessor. However, Jocelyn Fray is in a magically induced coma, put on her to avoid revealing deep secrets to her once upon a time husband, Valentine. Valentine, on the other hand, wants to destroy all Downworlders: werewolves, vampires, and faeries. Clary and her friends team up once again with extra help from others to battle against her and Jace's terror of a father, who is after the Mortal Sword this time around to continue his plan to bring down the Clave. With the return of Valentine and the discovery of Jace's identity, the young Shadowhunter is under much scrutiny from the Clave and everyone around him. To make things worse, he and Clary are dealing with the aftermath of the news that they are siblings and being forced to deny their feelings for each other. This leads to a lot of confusion with Simon, Clary's best friend who has been harbouring a secret crush on her. Simon has his own problems -- much bigger problems -- to deal with as a result. Absolutely nothing is easy, everyone is still reeling from previous revelations, and unfortunately for our heroes, this is only the beginning.

This time around, there was more on the Downworlders, which is something that I've been looking forward to since Magnus' party in City of Bones. Clare intertwines between the mystical world of the Shadowhunters and the gritty streets of New York. Everyone is on high alert now that Valentine is on the loose; the Lightwoods are back at the New York Institute to clean up the mess Hodge had left, and Jace's newly-revealed identity also affects his relationship with the family that he's come to know and love as his own. There's more focus on things like Simon's feelings for Clary and vice versa in this book. But I really couldn't stomach Clary and Simon as a couple. Not ashamed to say that I'm too much of a Clace (yes, the portmanteau -- I had to) supporter for that. Plus, I adore Simon and Clary's friendship, nothing more. Their dynamic as best friends was one of my favourite things in book one, unrequited love aside. I'm not a fan of love triangles, but the Jace-Clary-Simon fiasco is far from your average. It's pretty messed up and disturbing if you've read the end of City of Bones and the summary above (I know, ick, her bother?!), but I'm all for disturbing. I don't know what that says about me, but I feed on twisted storylines... it makes things more interesting. While I did feel for Clary and Jace's major dilemma, there was a lot of focus on the fact and at times it became a little too much; luckily Clare made up for those little bouts with amazing action sequences and shifting to the backgrounds of the other characters.

I don't think there's a character I don't like or at least find uninteresting in this series. Valentine, for instance. I loathe him and his Hitler-like mentality, but his back story and the way Clare recalls it is so captivating and interesting. Old characters are further explored and there are new ones added into the mix. This book definitely cemented my love for some in particular. Such as...? Isabelle, Isabelle, Isabelle. My lovely Isabelle. I loved her even more in this book. Her one-liners were to die for ("Nothing less than seven inches", "I'm pure at heart. It repels the dirt"). She's such a fierce character and so sure of herself. Another character that was introduced was Maia. Yay for female werewolves! I think the last time I read a book with a female were was in Blood and Chocolate... and I was about 14-15. She's basically a female version of Simon. Speaking of... Simon, my love! This was a great book for him. I loved mundie Simon, but I love vampy Simon even more. Just his whole adjustment to it was such a great thing to read about, because you could tell it was very hard on him, very far from glamourized. It's not easy adjusting knowing that there's a possibility you could kill and that you'll probably outlive everyone you love. Then add Clary's overwhelming feeling of guilt and belief that all of it was her fault? It's heartbreaking. Then there's Jace. Just stick a knife in me and twist it, why don't you? Poor kid, getting kicked out of the Institute because of who he is. I love the Lightwoods (by far my favourite TMI family), and I'm so happy that the rest of them were finally introduced in this book, but Maryse lost some points with me for that one. She kind of redeemed herself after, though. I'm glad that the mystery of where Jace comes from was being further focused on. Dude's lived a very complex life. Of course, there's the precious Alec and Magnus, who both started to grow on me. I could tell that they would be something special as the series goes on. There was also the development of Luke and his connection to both worlds and their inhabitants. He spent most of the book at the hospital, watching over Jocelyn and hoping she would wake. It's amazing how the story was fueled by a woman who fell into a coma quickly in the series. Her back story and how she brought up Clary led to all of these events happening in her daughter's life now, and Jocelyn's not even awake to tell the tale. It just makes it more exciting to look forward to hearing Jocelyn's side of it once (if?) she finally wakes up.

As you can probably tell from that huge last paragraph, I enjoyed the character development immensely. The last 100+ pages were also very action-packed and was the perfect way to end the book. I was eager to jump into the third book right away. This second installment definitely entertained me more than the first. City of Bones was a great set-up for the things to come, but City of Ashes had such great character development and so many unexpected twists and turns that kept me thoroughly engrossed.

My rating:

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