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Archive for December 2012

Review: Lemonade Mouth by Mark Peter Hughes

Saturday, December 29, 2012 § 2 Comments

Title: Lemonade Mouth
Author: Mark Peter Hughes
Genre: Young Adult, Music, Contemporary
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release date: March 13, 2007
ISBN-10: 0385733925
ISBN-13: 9780385733922
Format: Hardcopy
Source: Borrowed
Poets. Geniuses. Revolutionaries.

The members of the legendary band Lemonade Mouth have been called all of these things. But until now, nobody's known the inside story of how this powerhouse band came to be. How five outcasts in Opoquonsett High School's freshman class found each other, found the music, and went on to change both rock and roll and high school as we know it. Wen, Stella, Charlie, Olivia, and Mo take us back to that fateful detention where a dentist's jingle, a teacher's coughing fit, and a beat-up ukelele gave birth to Rhode Island's most influential band. Told in each of their five voices and compiled by Opoquonsett's "scene queen," freshman Naomi Fishmeier, this anthology is their definitive history.

My Review:
This is the story of how the band, Lemonade Mouth, came to be. Stella, Wen, Mo, Charlie, and Olivia met one fateful day in detention. They discovered their mutual love for music and slowly, the idea of starting a band formulated, thus turning them into a sensation. Even still, nothing ever comes easy. Individually, they weren't popular; every other student like them who took part in activities and clubs that weren't considered "popular" got demoted to the high school's basement. They're labelled as the freaks of the school, and it's up to Lemonade Mouth to use their newfound popularity to change things.

The characters that made up Lemonade Mouth were so odd and easily classified as misfits. There's a freakishly tall green-haired girl and a guy who's really insecure and hears the voice of his dead twin brother in his head, to name a few. But when they were together, it was magic. It was interesting to read how they formed, as it wasn't a sudden thing where all five kids completely went for it. It took time, and it was realistic. After all, they weren't really friends; they only really got together through detention, and they barely knew each other beforehand. They each had their own stories and struggles, which were touched upon equally and made their story as a band more believable. Hughes never gave one character more importance over another.

The core of the book is about five strangers who never really fit in anywhere, coming together and making something out of nothing. They became influences to their fellow classmates, and even though their journey wasn't an easy one, they never gave up. They were able to cope with the insanity known as high school through their growing friendship, all the while, touching the lives of their fellow classmates with their music and their message.

The overall concept isn't original by any means, but the way the author wrote it really puts it in a class of its own. The book was offbeat and funny; definitely had its own unique brand of humour, which I found totally refreshing. It's original in the sense that when you think of a high school band-- or any band, your mind immediately goes to a guitarist, singer, bassist, and a drummer. Lemonade Mouth throws all conventions out the window. Here, you have stuff like a ukulele, trumpet, bongos, and congas. In other words, this book is not full of your typical high school characterizations.

I picked up the book because I watched the Disney Channel movie that was adapted from it. I loved the movie, I'm not even going to lie. Even bought the soundtrack and everything. I'm such a sucker for feel-good teenybopper DCOMs. So sue me. I was curious to see how the book compared to the film; what they left out and kept in, what they changed, etc. I was surprised at how different a lot of things were in the book, but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It's a fun and interesting read, filled with quirky characters that I'm sure all of us can relate to, one way or another. The book is definitely more mature than the movie if you've ever seen it; I'd say it's appropriate enough for teens 14 and over. There is, however, now an age-appropriate edition for middle-grade readers as a movie tie-in, with content slightly adapted by the author. Just look for the blue dot on the cover!

My rating:

Visit the author:
Official website | Twitter | Goodreads

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

Review: Stalk Me by Jillian Dodd

Thursday, December 27, 2012 § 1 Comment

Title: Stalk Me
Author: Jillian Dodd
Series: The Keatyn Chronicles, Book 1
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Bandit Publishing
Release date: September 1, 2012
ISBN-10: 0985008660
ISBN-13: 9780985008666
Format: eBook
Source: Author
Keatyn has everything she ever dreamed. 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, older man flirts with her and tells 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.

My Review:
Keatyn has everything; she's popular, has a loving boyfriend, cool friends, the trendiest clothes, and her mom is a famous actress. Growing up around the movie industry, she has a knack for coming up with her own scripts, reflecting how she wants her life to go. She's been doing a good job... until now. Her relationship isn't exactly perfect, her best friend is threatening to tell everyone about it, she's crushing on someone else, and to top it all off, her mom has a stalker. Can she come up with a script to fix it all, and will real life actually follow it?

The first few chapters were hard to get into. The plot was a little too vapid for me. I'm a fan of the Gossip Girl books (not a huge fan), so I thought, sure, I can probably get into this. I didn't.

Things seemed to pick up after Keatyn broke up with Sander. Although, I don't know why that was. Sander seemed to be a pretty stand up guy; got a little too into his tortured artist role for me, but that was better than surfer boy d-bag over there.

Her "friends" were absolutely heinous. Vanessa was straight psycho and RiAnne was basically her lapdog. I had a huge issue with the parental figures in this book. Almost as bad as the kids... almost. I get being friends with your kids, hell, my mom and I watch tv and go to the movies together all the time, we even go shopping together, and she knows what's going on in my life more than anyone. But Keatyn's mom and Tommy -- throw Kym with a 'Y' and the rest of the "entourage" in there, too -- were just not good people. The biggest issue of all was that they were barely involved in Keatyn's life and were so flippant when it came to all the crap she was pulling. Plus, what mom gets excited that her 16-year-old daughter loses her virginity? Really, you're going to pout over the fact that your daughter forgot to mention that she slept with her friend? "I still can’t believe you slept with Brandon and didn't tell me!" (Actual quote.)

Keatyn's use of "Ohmigawd" made me want to scream into a pillow. Or rip my hair out. Or scream into a pillow while ripping my hair out. Anything to numb the pain. Don't even get me started on the actual use of "OMG"/"OMFG" in the book. ...When I think about it, though, I actually would have preferred the acronym to "ohmigawd". How seriously aesthetically unappealing does that word look?

The writing style worked for this type of book, I'll give it that, but it's just not something that I favour. The scripts that Keatyn wrote were a nice touch. It gave a glimpse into how her mind worked and into her deepest desires... it was strangely romantic, in a way. Her realizations that sometimes things don't always go as planned but everything works out anyway could've been refreshing... if she hadn't been so annoying about it. Kudos to her for actually feeling bad for being a grade-A bitch at times. That's about the only positive thing I have to say.

I literally had the strongest urge to stop reading when she and Brooklyn got matching tattoos for her birthday. First of all, smoking weed before a tattoo? I'd be fidgety as all hell while getting it done, are you kidding? Second, tacky. But no, I didn't stop reading there. I actually did make it to about 80% into the book, but so much kept happening all of a sudden with Keatyn moving to a new school and yet again caring only about boys... it just got tiring.

The stalking aspect took up about 10% of the book. Weird, considering the book is called STALK Me. I found myself literally throwing my hands up in disbelief more than enough times. I felt bad about publishing this review, as I took part in the blog tour earlier with the intent of reviewing. I switched to a promo post, but I felt dishonest about not posting this. The author seems really lovely, and this review doesn't affect my opinion of her as an author, but this book just wasn't for me. I have seen a lot of positive reviews for it, so it really is a judgement call.

My rating:
Visit the author:
Official website | Twitter | Goodreads

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

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012 § 0 Comments

However you may celebrate this season, I hope it's a joyous one filled with family, celebration, and of course... lots and lots of food. Be safe and see you all in the new year!

The Sunday Post: 9th Edition

Sunday, December 23, 2012 § 1 Comment

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.
I figured since I'm off to Cancun in a few hours (I'll catch up on sleep on the plane), I might as well crank out one last Sunday Post before the new year. There won't be much activity on the blog in the next two weeks, though the hotel does have wifi and I have a few reviews queued up, but I will definitely be reading... poolside. ;) Then it's off to Calgary at the end of December for New Years. Can't wait to see my grandma and my other family members.

The last week was made up of finishing up school, spending time with family, and packing for this week. The latter started way, way late... I'm not even fully packed yet and our flight is in 6 hours. I lost count of how many times I've watched the series already, but I killed so much time watching my favourite Filipino soap opera on DVD over the week, too. I don't usually buy these soaps on DVD, but I had to with this one. I can't get enough of it. It's brilliant.

Minsan Lang Kita Iibigin (internationally released as One Great Love)

Two brothers estranged and thrust into contrasting worlds finally meet and get into a secret accord but are eventually led by fate to choose between fulfilling the duty they have vowed to honor and protecting their own family.

As far as the blog goes, I'm still trying to find a way to get a reply link on my comments page, or debating on whether or not I should just change my layout completely; start the year off with something new. We'll see! I got a great haul in the last week, as I'm starting to collect books for the 2013 challenges I signed up for, as well as for giveaways in the coming months. If you want to join in on the fun, check the sidebar for some awesome challenges! I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone's reading.

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas, and to those that don't celebrate, enjoy the holiday season! Also, have a happy and safe New Years. Until then!

Last (2) weeks:

Coming this week in reviews:
  • Lemonade Mouth by Mark Peter Hughes
  • Stalk Me by Jillian Dodd

New bookshelf additions:
via NetGalley

Rapunzel Untangled by Cindy C. Bennett

Purchases / Downloads

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare (Signed hardcopy)
Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey (eBook)
Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill (eBook)
Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce (eBook)
The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (Hardcopy)
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins (Hardcopy)

Review: Dancing in the Dark by Robyn Bavati [ARC]

Thursday, December 20, 2012 § 2 Comments

Title: Dancing in the Dark
Author: Robyn Bavati
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Flux
Release date: February 8, 2013 (North American release)
ISBN-10: 0738734772
ISBN-13: 9780738734774
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley
He tossed her into the air as if she were weightless, and just for a moment she seemed suspended there, defying gravity. I couldn't take my eyes off her. I knew what she was feeling. It was in every movement of every limb.

Here was a power I had never seen before, a kind of haunting loveliness I had never imagined. Seeing it made me long for something, I didn't know what...

Ditty was born to dance, but she was also born Jewish. When her strictly religious parents won't let her take ballet lessons, Ditty starts to dance in secret. But for how long can she keep her two worlds apart? And at what cost?

A dramatic and moving story about a girl who follows her dream, and finds herself questioning everything she believes in.

My Review:
Ditty Cohen comes from a strict Jewish household; she is a Haredi Jew, one of the most conservative branches of Judaism. One day, during a bout of rebellion, she discovers ballet and is instantly hooked. She dreams of taking ballet lessons and of a future as a performer. However, she knows her family would never allow her to do so. This story takes readers on Ditty's personal journey through the years, witnessing her struggle with family, faith, and her passion.

I need to start off and mention that it was so interesting to me that this was set in Australia, because everything was unfamiliar. Locations, seasons, how school years work and everything. I actually learned quite a bit of cultural information that I've never known about before.

I felt like I related to Ditty quite a bit, in terms of expectations while growing up. Not necessarily in a religious sense, though I have grown up in a religious household and still practice Roman Catholicism (quite progressively, mind you); going to mass, receiving the sacraments, etc. I've never personally felt the same pressures and lifestyle that Ditty had, but on a broader note, I feel like quite a lot of people can relate to her, in the sense that she had a dream that seemed far from her reach and she was willing to overcome everything that it took to get there. I admired her zeal. As for the other characters, I loved that there were no catty ones competing with Ditty in her ballet school. As if she needed any more people to come into conflict with. Everyone was supportive, very nice, and realistic.

The only issue I had with this book, which unfortunately stuck through the whole thing, was how negative the family came off. It wasn't even just the family, but the whole ultra-orthodox community. Almost everyone came off as brainwashed and it felt like the only way for Ditty to pursue her dreams was to have to leave her community. I'm not going to pretend like I know a lot about the different Jewish communities and how much Bavati's portrayal rings true, so I can't really expand on this. But reading that Bavati grew up Modern orthodox made me think that this was why it came off the way it did. Linda (Ditty's cousin who, like Bavati, was Modern orthodox) was very detailed in her arguments with Ditty and the latter could never really defend herself or her community. It felt pretty one-sided, which made me feel a little uncomfortable. As a reader, I really did sympathize with Ditty, which I'm sure was the intention. You want Ditty to succeed, to break free from whatever's holding her back, but at the same time I wish she tried a little harder to find some common ground with her Judaism.

Ultimately, this is a universal story about a girl with big dreams, and her journey in doing whatever it took to achieve it. I loved Ditty's transition as a dancer and that the story brought us through her entire experience from her discovery to finally being an actual performer. It sped through five years of her life, which could have made the story feel really rushed, especially considering the length of the novel, but it was done surprisingly well. It didn't drag on, and I felt like all the important pieces in Ditty's life were touched upon enough for the story to end the way it did.

A huge thank you to NetGalley and Flux Books for providing me with the ARC.

My rating:

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

Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 § 2 Comments

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Razorbill
Release date: October 8, 2007
ISBN-10: 159514188X
ISBN-13: 9781595141880
Format: Hardcopy
Source: Purchased
You can't stop the future. You can't rewind the past. The only way to learn the secret. . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen doesn't want anything to do with the tapes Hannah Baker made. Hannah is dead. Her secrets should be buried with her.

Then Hannah's voice tells Clay that his name is on her tapes-- and that he is, in some way, responsible for her death.

All through the night, Clay keeps listening. He follows Hannah's recorded words throughout his small town...

...and what he discovers changes his life forever.

My Review:
Thirteen Reasons Why touches upon the issue of suicide through Hannah Baker, a teenager who committed suicide and told her story through a series of cassette tapes. Clay Jensen comes home one day to find these mysterious tapes boxed up and addressed to him. He discovers that Hannah sent seven tapes with thirteen reasons to different people who played a part in her ending her life. Clay, as a recipient, apparently affected Hannah's decision, but he couldn't figure out why. Through each tape, the story ultimately tells the tale of how people's actions can cause a ripple effect on someone's life.

It ultimately turns out that Clay, the narrator of the story, was the only one on Hannah's list that didn't leave such a negative effect on her. With each passing tape that he listened to, he started feeling more and more guilty and felt that he could have done something to prevent Hannah from killing herself. He was a good enough character; of course every story has to have a narrator that virtually has no flaws... that's cool. But he was kind of just there. Hannah was the real focus of the book. She didn't really jump off the page for me, either. However, I've seen several people say that her reasons for killing herself "weren't even a big deal" and all these other things, and to that I say: who are we to judge? No one knows the extent of someone's problems or their feelings but themselves. Just because someone doesn't deal with problems the same way you would doesn't mean they're less inclined in any way. Not everyone has the same amount of strength to deal with tough situations.

That being said, I have to commend Asher for not going too over the top with the "reasons". Was it realistic? Maybe not. Was Hannah at fault for a lot of the things that happened to her? Definitely. But she dealt with realistic teen problems, and this book just showed how even the simplest actions can affect someone, and it's possible for it to build up into something that might end in a similar, if not same, situation. I wasn't too invested in the characters, it was more the plot itself and that message of the book overall that kept me invested.

The book got an extra half star from me because of the intricacy concerning the tape concept. The story-telling was done well enough and I kept reading on, interested to read about the next tape. I would've given it a whole star if I wasn't so creeped out by the fact that she sent out tapes for specific people; talk about being haunted for the rest of your life. I found myself asking what exactly the purpose was with the tapes. Was it to make them feel guilty? For revenge? That's a little cruel. And if that doesn't make these people feel like complete crap for a lifetime, knowing that they contributed to her death, then I don't know what would.

The plot is original and I sympathized with both Hannah and Clay, but I didn't love the book as much as I wanted to. It was recommended to me by a friend and I've seen a lot of people talking about it, so I decided to check it out. It only took me a couple of hours to read, and while I was entertained, I wasn't blown away or anything. The ending was also a little disappointing. I would have liked for it to be more fleshed out. It's a good, quick read, and I'm glad to have read it because it seemed to have impacted a lot of people, but I was conflicted. It does send a good message that people should be mindful to how they treat others, because you never know what kind of impact your actions can have on someone. I think I might have enjoyed it more if I listened to it via audio book; that would've been interesting considering the context of the story. Of course, if the plot sounds interesting (which it is) and you're the kind of person who is intrigued by these kinds of stories, then definitely check it out for yourself and be the judge.

My rating:

Visit the author:
Official website | Twitter | Goodreads

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

Blog Tour: River's Recruit by Charlotte Abel [Review]

Saturday, December 15, 2012 § 0 Comments

Title: River's Recruit (Sanctuary, #1)
Author: Charlotte Abel
Genre: New Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Age group: New adult
Release date: September 1, 2012
Devastated by the death of his identical twin, Jonathan McKnight flees to the Sawatch Mountain Wilderness. He seeks redemption, but all he finds is trouble... and a beautiful young woman named River that belongs to a primitive and dangerous cult.

Jonathan wants to rescue River and taker her back to his world. River wants to recruit him. Fate has other plans for both of them.

My Review:
Jonathan McKnight has lost a lot; his identical twin brother, his left hand, and himself. After serving in Afghanistan, he goes off on his own to find himself. On his journey, he encounters River and her people. River and her tribe harbour a secret -- they are shifters, and their lifestyle bothers Jonathan. While River claims responsibility over him, he wants to take her away from that life; keep her safe. But could there be a reason Jonathan was sent there?

Jonathan and River are characters that worked well together and apart. As individuals, I felt their vulnerability and their struggles, and both had their own stories to tell. River came from a tribe that separated itself from society; they never relied or indulged in anything from the outside world, and they never really needed to. The society that their people had built was its own world. But of course, every world comes with its own problems. Traditions and rules were to be upheld, but there were times where River found herself at a crossroad. She was arranged into an engagement with a man she didn't love, and the man's mother would stop at nothing to ensure her son climb up the political ladder. Jonathan, on the other hand, grew up in the modern world to a loving family. He went to school, did extracurricular activities, and went on dates. His story really started when he and his twin brother enlisted in the army. Tragedy struck one ill-fated day, and it left him alive while his brother died. While trying to fight a depressed state, he decided to venture off on his own and camp out for a while. He encountered River when he saved her from a mountain lion, and she provided him with a means to survive in the wilderness. As the story progressed, it's revealed that they might have more in common than they thought.

Jonathan and River worked very well together. While it might not have been an instant head-over-heels scenario, their build-up was worth the read. They did get a little too reliant on each other towards the end, but the mind frame and the way the shifter's world worked made it understandable. The romance between the two main characters was well-balanced by the other characters throughout the book. Specifically, there was major concentration on the characters in New Eden, where River was from. Everyone was unique and had their own voice and motive. When you think you have these characters figured out, they go and do something to throw you off, and to me that's one of the most exciting things you can come across in a book. All the characters had more than one dimension.

The world of New Eden, located on the outskirts of Denver, was such a treat to read about. Everything was explained: traditions, politics, hierarchy, and even the mechanics of how they engineered different parts of their living areas. Abel wrote in such a descriptive way with every part in her story. The emotions and actions from all the characters jumped off the page and the world she created was easily drawn up in my mind.

The ending left me wanting more, very soon. River's Recruit was definitely a page turner of a book, and I'm glad I had the chance to read it. I would definitely recommend this book to those interested in wolf lore and just paranormal romance in general. I'm already looking forward to the next installment in the series and can't wait to see what else fate has in store for Jonathan, River, and the people of New Eden.

My rating:

About the author:
Charlotte Abel was born and raised in Oklahoma where she met her soulmate, Pete. She chased him to Boulder, Colorado and finally convinced him they were meant to be together forever. They've raised three kids, two ferrets, three dogs and countless hamsters -- and are still happily married.
She's in love with "real" life and paranormal romance. When she's not reading or writing, Charlotte enjoys hiking, bicycling and primitive archery (although she's never shot at anything other than a target!)
The final book of The Channie Series, "Finding Valor," should be available by Christmas.
Charlotte Abel | Twitter
Check out the other stops on the tour, hosted by SupaGurl Tours:

Dec. 1 - Bend in the Bind *Review, Guest Post, Giveaway *signed paperback*
Dec. 2 - Night Owl Reads *Excerpt
Dec. 3 - Bookluvers Haven *Review, Giveaway *ebook copy*
Dec. 4 - Book Crook Reviews *Review, Author Guest Post
Dec. 5 - Bookworm Babblings *Review
Dec. 6 - Better Read than Dead *Review, Author Interview, Giveaway *ebook copy*
Dec. 7
Dec. 8 - Nomi's Paranormal Palace *Review
Dec. 9 - Starry Night Book Reviews *Review
Dec. 10 - Books & Other Spells *Review, Giveaway *ebook copy*
Dec. 11 - The Cover Contessa *Review, Interview
Dec. 12 - Beth Art from the Heart *Review, Author Interview, Giveaway *ebook copy*
Dec. 13 - A Dragon's Love *Review, Guest Post
Dec. 14 - Howling Books and Design *Review, Megan Likes Books *Author Interview
Dec. 15 - Her Fiction Fix *Review
Dec. 16 - A Reader's Devotion *Review
Dec. 17 - Michelle's Paranormal Vault of Books *Review, Playlist
Dec. 18
Dec. 19 - Sweet Southern Home *Review *RR Tour*
Dec. 20 - Vamps and Stuff *Review, Guest Post, Giveaway *Paperback copy*
Dec. 21 - The Cover (and Everything In Between) *Author Interview
Dec. 22 - A Bibliophile's Thoughts On Books *Review
Dec. 23 - Sniffer Walk *Review
Dec. 24 - Bookishly Devoted *Review
Dec. 25 - Simply Infatuated * Author Guest Post
Dec. 26 - Happy Tails & Tales * Review, Author Interview
Dec. 27 - Black Lillies Are Deadly *Review, Giveaway *ebook copy*
Dec. 28 - Night Owl Reads *Review, Giveaway *Necklace*
Dec. 29
Dec. 30
Dec. 31 - Reader Girls *Review, Excerpt

Buy this book:

Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Thursday, December 13, 2012 § 2 Comments

Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Series: Mara Dyer
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release date: September 27, 2011
ISBN-10: 1442421762
ISBN-13: 9781442421769
Format: Hardcopy
Source: Purchased
Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.

She’s wrong.

My Review:
Mara Dyer woke up in a hospital with no memory of what happened. She was involved in an accident that killed her best friend, her boyfriend, and his sister. She was the only survivor. To help ease her pain, her family packed up and moved to Miami, Florida to start a new life. While thinking she left the tragedy behind her, Mara starts having visions. It's possibly PTSD, but things start getting out of hand; visions come true and things around her get destroyed, just the way she sees them in her head.

I have conflicted feelings about this book. On the one hand, I loved the way it was told; Hodkin is quite the writer. But the biggest problem I had were the characters. Mara was an okay character; what stood out for me were her narrations. Hodkin gave her a great voice and I literally laughed out loud at some of the stuff Mara said internally because it reminded me of how I talk. She was also clearly disturbed and dark at times, which was understandable considering what had happened to her. But then she took a dive after getting to know Noah. It all became kind of Bella and Edward at that point. Noah was the typical bad boy love interest who had girls dropping their panties left and right, but he never gave a damn about anyone until he met Mara. There's pretentious and cocky, then there's Noah Shaw. He was scruffy and unkempt and a total prick because all the girls dig that, but it turned out he was actually filthy rich with a butler valet named Albert, spoke six languages, was well-read, smoked while he drove, had "la vie boheme" parents, massive daddy issues, and was British. Oh, and he drove a Prius. Of course he drove a Prius. It also bugged me that Mara's older brother, Daniel, seemed to always not have a problem with this guy taking his sister out and asking him to lie to their mom about stuff. It was especially unbelievable after Daniel being so protective of Mara in the beginning. It's like the whole story shifted into this weird place after Noah showed up. Then there was Mara's new friend Jamie... who was black. And Jewish. And gay. Who had a tongue ring. And dreads. Even he pointed out how token he was. Then he just disappeared... shame, because I actually wanted to know more about him. On the paranormal side, it was another story. I really liked how Hodkin pulled it off with Mara's ability and the descriptive way it was written. I just wished there were more details, but that's why it's a series, right?

Plot-wise, there were some random things near the end that just came out of nowhere. Stuff like strange rituals, animal sacrifices, blood consumption, gunshots, something about alligators and leeches and chickens (oh my)... I don't even know. I was confused throughout the book; it just lacked something. I think it would've warranted another star from me if Mara wasn't so obsessed with Noah. It seriously took up 70% of the book once he was introduced, and I'd probably be less confused if there was more focus on Mara's ability and why she had it, instead of Mara wanting to "have his babies" (no, seriously). It also wouldn't have hurt to expand on Noah's ability and why exactly they were meant to connect with each other. It was all so vague and disjointed; I think a lot of it had to do with the lack of differentiating between hallucinations and real-life. About a third into the book, I kept going, "what the heck is even happening?!"

But to be fair, in all my questioning, I couldn't stop reading. I literally could not put it down. I wouldn't rate this book 3.5 stars if I didn't like at least half of it. I kept on reading hoping my questions would be answered; they never really were, but wow, was I ever entertained. The style that Hodkin wrote in made me want to keep reading and I've already gone out and picked up the second installment. A+ for the cover, too. Look at it, it's absolutely gorgeous.

I'd recommend this to anyone looking for a compelling, creepy read with romantic overtones. If you're curious, definitely check this book out. Then come back and explain it all to me because I'm still confused.

My rating:

Visit the author:
Official website | Twitter | Goodreads

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"Waiting On" Wednesday: 6th Edition

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 § 6 Comments

Hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine:
"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
Like my last "Waiting On" post, here's another steampunk book. This one is the first in a four-part series called Finishing School and is set 25 years before the Parasol Protectorate in the same universe. Also, I feel the need to point out that the cover is really pretty.

Etiquette & Espionage
Author: Gail Carriger
Series: Finishing School, Book 1
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 320
Release date: February 5, 2013
It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to finishing school.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother's existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea--and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right--but it's a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine's certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school.

First in a four book YA series set 25 years before the Parasol Protectorate but in the same universe.

In addition, it was just announced on Monday that Cassandra Clare will collab with Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson to write The Bane Chronicles. Crying. There's another to add onto my "Waiting On" list. The "Bane" in question is the one and only High Warlock of Brooklyn from Clare's Shadowhunter universe, Magnus Bane. I was on my way home when I read Sarah Rees Brennan's fantastic blog post, and her other one on Cassie's blog; I'm pretty sure I let out a little yelp of excitement.

A series of 10 short stories will be released starting February 2013 in e-book format. A new issue will follow every month until the release of the City of Bones movie in August, then a print edition of all The Bane Chronicles stories will be released in 2014. We finally get to find out what happened to Magnus in Peru?! Um, exciting.

The following is an excerpt from Sarah Rees Brennan's tumblr post, complete with a photo of the gorgeous, gorgeous, GORGEOUS Godfrey Gao, who will be portraying Magnus on the big screen (and a cat! Chairman Meow, anyone?):

We bring to you THE BANE CHRONICLES, chronicling (you see what we did there) Magnus’s adventures through the ages.

Have you ever wondered about Magnus’s past loves and lies? Magnus and Alec’s first date? How Magnus and Camille got together? What happened in Peru? Starting in February 2013, in the run-up to City of Handsome Magnus: the Movie (Also Starring Some Other People Who Are Pretty Good-Looking) we will put out a Magnus Short Story every month.

There will be ten of Magnus’s magnificent adventures all in all. Some of them Cassie and I are writing, some of them Cassie and Maureen are writing, some Cassie is writing herself as we cruelly abandon her! All of them, we think, are lots of fun. (Read More)
Also, here, have a link to the news posted on EW.com