Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (19)

"Waiting on Wednesday"  is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. 

This week's WoW is . . .

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

The Shima Imperium is verging on the brink of environmental collapse; decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshippers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, land choked with toxic pollution, wildlife ravaged by mass extinctions.

The hunters of the imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger—a legendary beast, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows thunder tigers have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.

Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a hidden gift that would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.


So . . . I've wanted this for a long time.  A very, very long time. I blame the delay between the first stirrings of book lust and its feature on the lack of US cover art and my own absence.  Now that the ridiculously fantastic cover has been revealed and I am (sort-of-ish) back, here we are.


What is there even to say about this book?  I suspect many of you have heard of it before; I think over half of Goodreads would sell their first-borns (and maybe their second- and third-borns) just to get their hands on an ARC of their very own.

And why?

  • Because Jay Kristoff is one of the most hilarious, frank, down-to-earth authors you'll ever have the pleasure of meeting/viewing on your computer screen.
  • Because that synopsis is so full of awesome that I don't even know where to begin. Thunder tigers. Epic hunts.  Kick-ass heroines. JAPANESE STEAMPUNK.
  • Because that cover is so goddamn sexy that anyone in their right mind wants it on their shelf.  And in a huge frame on their wall.  And as their desktop background. (Which, by the way, is actually a thing you can do.)
If this book wasn't already at the top of your I-WILL-FIND-A-COPY-IF-IT-KILLS-ME shelf, it should be.

That's it for this week! How about you guys? What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Joint Follower Appreciation Giveaway!

Hey guys! So, I've been a bit inactive lately, and there aren't any new reasons--it's just school.  Lovely, lovely school.  However, there are only a few weeks left, so hopefully we'll be seeing an increase in posts.

In the meantime, a giveaway for all you lovely followers!  This is a follower appreciation giveaway, co-hosted with all the fantastic girls over at Teenage Fiction.  Nicole, Haley, Maxine, Alvina, and I want to thank all of you wonderful people for following us.  What better way to do so than with a giveaway? (Physically possible way, in any case.  If I could, I would go and hug every one of you, but a) I suspect that'd be statistically improbable and b) I give really crappy hugs.)

One winner will receive a book of their choice under $15 from The Book Depository, and their choice of ebook under $15 from Amazon.  If the winner cannot receive/does not want the ebook, a second winner will be drawn.  To enter, you must be  13 and older or have a parent/guardian's permission to enter this giveaway.

So, without further ado:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (18)

"Waiting on Wednesday"  is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's WoW is . . .
Splintered by A. G. Howard

For sixteen years, Alyssa Gardner has lived with the stigma of being descended from Alice Liddell -- the real life inspiration for Lewis Carroll's famed novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. But cruel jokes about dormice and tea parties can’t compare to the fact that Alyssa hears the whispers of bugs and flowers ... the same quirk which sent her mother to a mental institution years before.

When her mother takes a turn for the worse and the whispers grow too strong for Alyssa to bear, she seeks the origins of their family curse. A set of heirlooms and a moth tied to an eerie website lead Alyssa and her gorgeous best friend / secret crush, Jeb, down the rabbit hole into the real Wonderland, a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on.

There, creepy and violent counterparts of the original fairytale crew reveal the purpose for Alyssa’s journey, and unless she fixes the things her great-great-great grandmother Alice put wrong, Wonderland will have her head.


Where do I even begin? With the ridiculously fantastic premise featuring one of the most whimsical, crazy, lovely tales of all time?  With the hauntingly beautiful trailers?  Or maybe with the cover, which is wild and gorgeous and perfectly captures the feeling of encroaching madness.

I just love everything about this, and I expect it to be an insanely awesome read. My only problem?

It doesn't come out until January of 2013. Sigh.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?


P.S. There are several giveaways coming up in the very near future, so stay tuned for that!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May 15: A Day of Victoria Schwab Awesomeness

It's May 15th! 

Not only does THE NEAR WITCH by Victoria Schwab come out in paperback TODAY, but, to celebrate its release, "The Ash-Born Boy" is finally up over at Disney*Hyperion's website!

So, what IS "The Ash-Born Boy"? 

It's a free story Victoria wrote as a thank-you to her fans, and she wrote it to answer ONE question: "Who was Cole before he came to Near?"

Now, if you've already read THE NEAR WITCH, "The Ash-Born Boy" is guaranteed to change the way you see Cole.

And if you haven't read THE NEAR WITCH yet, don't worry, "The Ash-Born Boy" won't spoil anything!

So basically, either way, you should go read Cole's story ;) 

And if you want to wait and read THE NEAR WITCH first, don't worry! Cole's story will stay up on Disney*Hyperion's website, and if it ever comes down, Victoria will carve out a space for it on her own site. It will always be available somewhere, and it will always be free. 


Cole's story isn't the only goodie to go along with the paperback release. In the back of the paperback itself, you'll find the first chapter of Victoria's new book, THE ARCHIVED, which doesn't come out until January!

So what are you waiting for? 

Help Victoria celebrate today by taking a look at "The Ash-Born Boy," and don't forget to buy/order/pick up your own paperback copy of THE NEAR WITCH!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Shadow Kiss

Publisher: Penguin (Razorbill)
Pages: 443

Publication Date: November 13, 2008
Type: Paperback, received as gift

Is Rose’s fate to kill the person she loves most?

It’s springtime at St. Vladimir’s Academy, and Rose Hathaway is this close to graduation. Since Mason’s death, Rose hasn’t been feeling quite right. She has dark flashbacks in the middle of practice, can’t concentrate in class, and has terrifying dreams about Lissa. But Rose has an even bigger secret... She’s in love with Dimitri. And this time, it’s way more than a crush.

Then Strigoi target the academy in the deadliest attack in Moroi history, and Dimitri is taken. Rose must protect Lissa at all costs, but keeping her best friend safe could mean losing Dimitri forever...


I didn't cry.

Maybe it's because I knew.  Because I've known for so long.  I knew the ending to this novel long before I even received the books, even longer before I started them.  I knew it.  I knew what would happen, and what's more, I know the series's very end.

But it's not just that.

It's also the nature of this feeling; it's not an ugly cry.  It's not a let-the-pages-drink-your-tears kind of novel.  It's just this quiet, overwhelming sadness.  This novel, these characters, weighing on my mind.  I can't shake them away.

I hate it and I love it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Want a Comment on Your Posts?

So. Hi.

I know I've been really shitty with updating lately, and I'm sorry.  This is that time of year where teachers decide they must cram in everything they didn't properly plan for, a.k.a. the time of year where my homework pile could quite literally bury me alive.  Things have been crazy, and not pleasantly so.  I haven't had much time for anything, reading and blogging included.

However, I dislike being so absent--not only from my own blog, but from everyone else's.  I enjoy commenting on posts! It's time-consuming, but I love it.  And in the past week or two, my comments have been rather scarce.

But I'd like to change that!  So, if you've got a post you've written in the past week or two that you'd like me to comment on, leave a link in the comments, and I will get to it as soon as I possibly can.  People can leave multiple links.  I make no guarantees on time, but most if not all of these should be commented on by the end of the weekend.

It's just an easier way to find all the posts that people want attention for; easier than endlessly scrolling through Blogger with its ridiculously frustrating new format.  This way, I can simply have them all compiled on this post.

So, comment away! And please don't be shy about it--I really do want to read your posts.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Publisher: Penguin (Razorbill)
Pages: 327

Publication Date: April 10, 2008
Type: Paperback, received as gift
Rose loves Dimitri, Dimitri might love Tasha, and Mason would die to be with Rose... 

It’s winter break at St. Vladimir’s, but Rose is feeling anything but festive. A massive Strigoi attack has put the school on high alert, and now the Academy’s crawling with Guardians—including Rose’s hard-hitting mother, Janine Hathaway. And if hand-to-hand combat with her mom wasn’t bad enough, Rose’s tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason’s got a huge crush on her, and Rose keeps getting stuck in Lissa’s head while she’s making out with her boyfriend, Christian! The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy’s not taking any risks... This year, St. Vlad’s annual holiday ski trip is mandatory. 

But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only create the illusion of safety. When three friends run away in an offensive move against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. But heroism rarely comes without a price...


Some Reasons Why This Book Earned Me Glares From Nearly Every One of My Teachers in the Past Two Days, or, alternately, Some Reasons Why This Book is Absolutely Fantastic:

When the heroine acts like an asshole, people don't just brush it away!

When Rose acts stupidly, says something cruel, does something she most certainly shouldn't have, it isn't simply ignored, or excused.  People call her on it. Even better, she calls herself on it.  For once, a heroine who won't completely refuse to admit they've ever done wrong!  You can't believe how wonderful that was to see.

Also, while her words or actions are very frustrating at times, there is a reason, though it's only hinted at in this novel.  Part of it's just Rose and her fiery temper, but part of it's . . . not.

There are fascinating new characters!

Quite a few of them, actually, but the most notable being Tasha, Adrian, and Janine, Rose's mother.  I loved all of them in their own way; Tasha for her fiery independence so uncommon in Moroi, Adrian for being intriguingly assholian (as well as just plain intriguing), and Janine for being an emotionally stunted badass who still tries despite it all.  They were all wonderful additions to the cast, and I'm interested to see the roles they'll have in the rest of the series.

There are real, complex relationships!

There wasn't one relationship in this book that didn't ring true.  Not only Rose's relationships, but side relationships such as Lissa and Christian, Dimitri and Tasha, even Lissa and Adrian.  Many times, in YA fantasies or paranormals, I've seen "They're supernatural creatures!" or "It's not like our world!" used to dismiss ludicrously unrealistic relationships.  Not so with Vampire Academy.  Despite the heavy influence their supernatural world and origin has on this cast, their interactions and emotions are so brilliantly believable that I can't help but love them.

Holy character development, Batman!


There's our protagonist, Rose, who's come so far from the rebellious, impetuous teenager we first met at the beginning of Vampire Academy.  There was some growth in VA, but in Frostbite, it is a million times more extensive.  She emerges from this novel with a gravity and maturity that one could scarcely even glimpse in her younger self.  Yes, she's still a spirited, snarky teenager, but she is also more, and I love it.

However, Rose isn't the only one to see some fantastic character development.  There are a lot of characters that get expanded upon--in fact, I can think of very few that didn't see some development in this novel.  The most notable example, aside from our heroine, would most certainly be Mia.

Man, am I glad those VA fans were right.  Her characterization in VA was by far my biggest critique, and in Frostbite, Richelle Mead delivered, just as all the fans promised she would.  I don't want to spoil much, but I'll just say that Mia becomes far more than the flat schoolgirl antagonist, and it was a great thing to see.  I expect her character will be developed even further in the books to come.

And, perhaps best of all: The emotion.

I'm going to be frank here: it is very rarely that a non-contemporary novel makes me cry.

Even when characters die, it often just does not affect me in the same way; I may be distinctly sad, but it does not often touch me to the point of tears.

But while there was no sobbing or dramatic animal noises, at one point, I did tear up.  Because the emotion was so raw and genuine and painful that for a moment I was certain I'd lost someone, too.

That, above all else, is why I salute Mead for this novel.  

It's technically 4.5 stars, but I enjoyed this novel far too much not to round it to a 5.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Vampire Academy

Publisher: Penguin (Razorbill)
Pages: 332

Publication Date: August 16, 2007
Type: Paperback, received as gift

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.


I liked this quite a bit.

I've seen crazy hype for this one.  Vampire Academy is one of the few series that earned gushing not only from my online friends but from numerous real life friends who'd read the books and absolutely adored them.  Considering how many of these friends were also staunch supporters of "Twilight," and The Daily Beast's blurb on the back cover, I was more than a bit wary.  But eventually, the positive reviews became too much, and I caved.

I'm glad I did.

Quite simply, this book is refreshing.  From the wonderfully unique concept that makes vampires sympathetic characters without turning them into sparkling fairies, to the snarky, kick-ass heroine who embraces her good looks and sexuality, this book was different and fantastic and I really, really loved it.

Mead's plotting was excellent; not only is the base idea incredibly new and intriguing, but the plot itself is creative and addictive.  There were no lulls, no sections where I felt my interest slowly waning.  This book captured me from start to finish, and it was almost a physical pain to set it down.

Even more than the plot, though, I enjoyed the characters and their relationships with one another. As mentioned above, I absolutely adored Rose; she's strong, confident, sarcastic, imperfect.  She's gorgeous, others know it, and she fully accepts that.  She's extremely flawed, others know it, and she accepts that.  No one's trying to pretend Rose is anything close to perfect, and that makes me love her all the more.

Perhaps even better than Rose's characterization, though, were her relationships with others. First of all: her friendship with Lissa.  It was fantastic.  So often in YA nowadays, "best friends" are either included for the sake of a) encouraging the protagonist to make bad decisions, b) giving them a makeover, or c) making the reader want to beat their brains out with a blunt spoon.  This is not the case with Lissa.  Lissa is absolutely crucial to the plot, and more importantly, her relationship with Rose is entirely genuine.  Even aside from their bond, these two just had such a fantastic, believable chemistry with one another.  They felt like actual best friends.  Major kudos to Richelle Mead for handling the best friend dynamic so wonderfully.

Second of all: her relationship with Dimitri.  That, that is how you build a romantic relationship.  No instantaneous swooning.  No completely forgetting every other person in the world.  No dramatic declarations of love.  Just two people with a mutual physical attraction and mutual respect that gradually grows into something more.  I know many were troubled by the age difference, but frankly, when you compare this to most vampire-human romances, or angel-human romances, or really any supernatural-human romance, is a seven year difference really that huge a deal when many YA heroines are tackling a difference of several hundred years?

I, at least, did not think so.

I also really loved the central antagonist of this story.  He was twisted, misguided, but not entirely wrong.  I could understand him. Did I disapprove of his methods? Most certainly.  But I understood his goals, and why he might feel like this was the only course, like this would all be for the greater good.  Fucked up antagonists with legitimately good intentions have always been the most fascinating to me.

The only thing I didn't like about this novel was the characterization of Mia.  For most of the novel, she was painfully two-dimensional, an annoying high-school-level antagonist to stir up drama.  At one point, I thought Mead was going to go a bit deeper, give Mia some actual depth, but then that fell flat. (No pun intended.)  However, I have heard from several fans that Mia's character does, indeed, get fleshed out throughout the series, so I'll be interested to see how that goes as I read on.

Overall, this was a very, very enjoyable read, and I would highly recommend it, even to those who aren't typically a fan of vampires. You might be surprised.

4.5 stars.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Immortal City

Publisher: Penguin (Razorbill)
Pages: 336

Publication Date: April 3, 2012
Type: ARC, won

Jackson Godspeed is the hottest young Angel in a city filled with them.

He's days away from becoming a full Guardian, and people around the world are already competing for the chance to be watched over by him. Everyone's obsessed with the Angels and the lucky people they protect - everyone except for Madison Montgomery.

Maddy's the one girl in Angel City who doesn't breathlessly follow the Angels on TV and gossip blogs. When she meets Jackson, she doesn't recognize him. But Jackson is instantly captivated by her, and against all odds the two fall in love.

Maddy is swiftly caught up in Jackson's scene, a world of glamour, paparazzi - and murder. A serial killer is on the loose, leaving dead Angels' wings for the police to find on the Walk of Fame. Even the Guardians are powerless to protect themselves in the face of this threat & and this time it's up to Maddy to save Jackson.


This will be a fairly short review, because I really don't have much to say about this novel.  In fact, my opinion of the entire book can essentially be summed up in one sentence:  I loathed almost every single character, but it still managed to entertain me.

The characters were insufferable.  They were all selfish, annoying, idiotic assholes, or so ridiculously one dimensional that it was impossible to take them seriously.  Maddy and Jacks are textbook examples of a PNR romance, and Maddy in particular fits the Mary Sue qualifications to the T.  She's quiet, thinks she's nothing special, is convinced that her great dashing supernatural hero could never love her, yet everyone fawns over her looks and adores her for no evident reason, and the love interest is completely smitten (and must spend the entire book assuring her of this).  Don't even mention Gwen to me.  If you needed any more of a sign that this novel was written by a male, Gwen is all the proof you could ask for.  I won't go into the details, but let's just say that if real girls said "OMG" as frequently as Miss Gwen, I'd have stabbed myself in the ear long ago.

Honestly, the only character I liked was David Sylvester, because he was just a badass.

Despite hating all the characters, though, it must be said that this novel did genuinely entertain me and demand my attention.  The beginning was a bit slow, but once I really got into this, I didn't want to put it down.  It's not that the plot was exceptionally new and complex, or that there was action at every turn, but something about this book made it intensely readable, and I respect that.  While I really despised this novel's casts, it still was, to some extent, an enjoyable read.

So this one earns 3 stars, and a tentative recommendation.  If you're looking for mindless entertainment and can stomach the typical PNR formula, I'd recommend you give it a try.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Differing Interpretations

So, first off, I'd like to apologize for my relative silence--both on the blog and in comments--the past few days. I was at a convention with no internet over the weekend, and then these past few days I have just been completely swamped with work.  Hopefully, things will lighten up after this week.

However, my ridiculously large pile of schoolwork is not what this post is about.

The other day in Creative Writing, while discussing The Hunger Games (which he had only just finished for the first time), my teacher made a claim.  That you could give him any book he'd read, and he could tell you the overall idea/message/theme of the novel.  People proceeded to fire titles at him, and he proceeded to tell us--with confidence, and barely a moment of hesitation--what he thought were the general ideas of these books, The Hunger Games included.

The thing is . . . I didn't agree with any of them.

Honestly, I don't even remember precisely what he said.  I only know I vehemently disagreed, on every mentioned book I had read.  And I caught myself thinking, No. That's wrong. 

Is it?

Is any interpretation of a book wrong? I've been asked this question before, seen it posed many times.  Isn't it up to readers to determine what a book really means?

Personally, I think that's true . . . to an extent.  I think there is certain symbolism, certain comparisons, certain underlying messages that can be taken in various ways, and that different readers will interpret things differently based upon their own comprehension and experiences.  But on the other hand, I do think you can say something that is completely and utterly wrong.  For example, if someone told me the main idea of The Hunger Games was that humans have a crippling terror of unicorns overrunning the world, I would have no qualms telling them that they clearly were not reading the book all that closely.

But as I was listening to my teacher and shaking my head, I saw others nodding every now and then.  A flicker of agreement.  These interpretations that I so strongly disagreed with were accepted by several of my peers.  So, were they that far-fetched after all?  Are there "wrong" interpretations of any book?

What's your view?