Sunday, December 25, 2011

Review: From Bad to Cursed

From Bad to Cursed by Katie Alender

Book: ★★★★
Cover: ★★☆☆☆

  • Reading level: Ages 12 and up
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion Book CH (June 14, 2011)
Alexis is the last girl you'd expect to sell her soul. She already has everything she needs--an adorable boyfriend, the perfect best friend, and a little sister who’s finally recovering after being possessed by an evil spirit, then institutionalized.

Alexis is thrilled when her sister joins a club; new friends are just what Kasey needs.  It’s strange, though, to see how fast the girls in The Sunshine Club go from dorky and antisocial to gorgeous and popular.  Soon Alexis learns that the girls have pledged an oath to a seemingly benevolent spirit named Aralt.  Worried that Kasey's in over her head again, Alexis and her best friend Megan decide to investigate by joining the club themselves.  At first, their connection with Aralt seems harmless.  Alexis trades in her pink hair and punky clothes for a mainstream look, and quickly finds herself reveling in her newfound elegance and success.

Instead of fighting off the supernatural, Alexis can hardly remember why she joined in the first place. Surely it wasn't to destroy Aralt...why would she hurt someone who has given her so much, and asked for so little in return?
 This book was so creepy good! I have to say, though I love the first book, Bad Girls Don't Die, I think this books take it to a whole new level. At one point, it scared me so badly that I slept with the lights on. (I am not joking. I am the worlds biggest wimp.) In this book, you think you know what to expect, since the blurb isn't exactly secretive. But let me tell you, this book will have you pounding your head against the wall. It's like a 500 piece puzzle, and most of the pieces are the same shade of yellow. At first I was a bit wary of that, thinking that maybe it would get way to confusing, but at the end it all clicks.

 Another thing that I think improved in this book was the characters. You get to see more of how Alexis thinks, and you get to see her at her weakest point. At one point, it becomes her sister, Kasey, who is the strong one. The book involves so many characters that all play vital parts, and every one of them have levels upon levels of character and spirit layered o them. It's a rare thing to find a book with so many realistic characters. In the previous book, the story mainly centered around Alexis. In Cursed, you actually see tremendous growth in her character, as well as Kasey. But before you see that growth, you watch as Alexis declines into a pitiful state that has you wanting to whack her on the head and ask her if she was dropped on the head as a baby. She does something really stupid that I won't spoil that triggers this decline, but she does do it for noble reasons. You just find yourself thinking, couldn't she have been smarter about this? 

  I also really like that, while there is romance involved, this book is not completely centered around that romance. While I do love my fictional boys, I think that a plot should not simply revolve around that love. Unless it is, of course, supposed to. If there is a main plot, like good vs. evil, and then there is a romance, the good vs. evil should come first, with the romance not wholly consuming that plot, but adding to it. If you understood any of that, you are smarter than I am. In this book, Carter, Alexis's boyfriend, does play a large and important role but he does not totally eclipse the real story. That added huge points to this book for me.

  This book has an amazing emotional range and effect. Alexis has crazy mood swings and ups and downs like any normal person. She becomes insecure when she tries to be perfect. I think that is an amazing message, one that everyone should take note of- perfection doesn't exist. Either be happy with your imperfections, or be forever unhappy. I think it shows how fragile we all are, and really shows how important it is to be yourself and accept that you aren't perfect.

 Finally, my favorite thing about the book was the Sunshine club. The Sunshine club is a group of girls trying to make themselves perfect for a demon known as Aralt- only they don't see him as a demon. To them, Aralt is perfect, loving, kind, and giving. They think that they would be horrible, disgusting being without Aralt. The Sunshine Club starts off seemingly innocently, but as more and more girls join, the darker their situation seems. They stalk around school like a pack of lions, and if you offend one person in the group, you get all of them coming at you. With some serious vengeance. The most chilling thing to me was their mantra, Stay Sunny. It may sound well-wishing, but the way it's used in this book, it's more of a threat than anything. Because the Sunshine Club is perfect. And if you disturb that imperfection, well, watch your back.

 Overall, an amazing book. I laughed out loud several times and cowered in fear several more times. I recommend reading it in broad daylight unless you are a more daring person than I.

 Stay Sunny.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Review: Legend

Legend by Marie Lu

Book: ★★☆
Cover: ★★☆

  • Reading level: Ages 12 and up
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (November 29, 2011)
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.
  This was an exciting, well paced read that I took in in one sitting. The characters, June and Day, are very well developed, as are the other characters. In fact, the characters are definitely the high point of the entire book. June's grief for Metias is very real and painful to you, and even though you only encounter him living once in the entire book, you find yourself caring deeply when he dies. Day is very mysterious at first, but eventually you learn his story and his motive for being the Republic's most wanted criminal.

  Like I said, I think the character development is this books high point.Other than that, I did find this book to be extremely predictable. Part of that was foreshadowing that was not so much foreshadowing but more like giant, neon flashing billboards. For example: "I got the sense that he was going to do this particular thing that is bad." and then "Oh no, look, wow, I was right. I can't believe that at all." The other part that made it so predictable was simply that it is a rather classic plot. Pretty much, you saw things miles before you came to them, which is a big negative point for me. I love not knowing what to think in a book and having and ending that hits you in the gut. I didn't really get that with this book.

 Another drawback for me was the lack of description. I think the world of Legend had some serious potential to be an amazing place, but you just don't get to know enough about it to see that. The sectors- how much space and how many people do the consist of? The war between the Republic and the Colonies- why did that happen? So much more was aching to be explained but was never touched. I think that if the author had elaborated on the world, the book would have been that much better.

 I also wish the book had more exploration. I love adventure in books. I feel like it adds volumes of... I don't know, mojo to a book. And when a book is set in one place (how boring would a book be if it were about a person in a concrete box who only thinks of tin foil? I should write that just to see how many times my brain would implode on itself in the process.), it is sort of stripped of that many-layered mojo.

 Overall, an okay read. If you're see it at the library, I say give it a swing. Maybe you'll like it more than I did. On terms of creativeness, this book scored pretty well. Like I've said about a trillion times, however, I wish there was just more complications and stuff.

Monday, December 19, 2011

YA Story Scavenger Hunt: Day 17

I'm today's hunt stop for the 2011 YA Story Scavenger Hunt!

Follow the hunt every day during the month of December! Answer the daily trivia questions from MG and YA books published during 2011 to be entered into the YA book giveaway.

Today's question is from The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson.
Question #34: Who is the dark and handsome guy who hangs out at the Wexford library constantly?
Remember to fill out your answer in the form at Most Important Letter here!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Review: Eve

Eve by Anna Carey

Book: ★★★☆
Cover: ★★★★☆

  • Reading level: Ages 13 and up
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (October 4, 2011)
 Where do you go when nowhere is safe?
Sixteen years after a deadly virus wiped out most of Earth’s population, the world is a perilous place. Eighteen-year-old Eve has never been beyond the heavily guarded perimeter of her school, where she and two hundred other orphaned girls have been promised a future as the teachers and artists of the New America. But the night before graduation, Eve learns the shocking truth about her school’s real purpose—and the horrifying fate that awaits her.
Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Arden, her former rival from school, and Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust . . . and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life. 

This book was a quick but extremely moving read for me. I devoured it in one sitting, drawn into the world drawn up around Eve. It absolutely makes you think and try to sift through the truth and lies being fed to Eve, and at moments you find yourself with tears in your eyes at the situations that so many desperate people are being put through. Miss Carey seems like a very skilled stonemason, lying the base for what I anticipate to be two more amazing books.
 The action in this book takes off right away, and you find yourself extremely curious as to what has happened to the world to make it the way it is. A plague has come and gone, leaving thousands orphaned, a self-declared King is feeding lies to thousands, and while young orphan boys are going to work camps and die under loads to large to carry, girls are going to school to become "leaders" only to have their dreams snatched away from them and be sent to baby-factories.
 Eve is one of my favorite Heroines. In this book, you see a tremendous growth in her. At first, she is an uptight know-it-all that makes you want to scream. But once she becomes acquainted with the way things truly are in the world, she becomes so much more. She makes bad mistakes, which only makes her seem more real. She has to watch as people she loves die, and she has to learn to face cold, brutal truth. She has to learn that most things she has been taught are lies.

 While Eve is very well developed, I wish there had been a bit more the the others. I would have liked to know more about Arden, the girl who told Eve the truth about where she was going to be sent after school. I would have liked to hear more of her voice in the book, or know more of her back story. She is a truly intriguing character.
 My most and least favorite part of the book was the end. I probably just sat there for about ten minutes crying. I won't spoil it for you, though. Overall, this book has an amazing story, characters, and plot. I will definitely be getting hold of Once, the sequel, as soon as possible. I recommend reading this at night, and if you can wait that long, read it on a warm summer night! I wish I would have.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

2012 Wish List: Top Ten

So, 2011 is drawing to a close! This year has passed in the blink of an eye for me. I started this blog almost a year ago in February, and since then, I've discovered so many new and wonderful books out there. This year stunning books like Divergent by Veronica Roth, Delirium by Lauren Oliver, The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab, Wither by Lauren DeStefano, and many others have been published, leaving us all waiting for the sequels. Many of the much drooled after sequels will be coming out in 2011. There will also be many, many debuts coming out this year, which makes me wish I had LOTS more money.
 So, if I wasn't a teen book blogger and had endless book funds, these would be the first books I snapped up in 2012:
The Selection by Kiera Cass

Released April 24, 2012.

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon. 

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks. 

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi 
Released January 3, 2012. 

Since she’d been on the outside, she’d survived an Aether storm, she’d had a knife held to her throat, and she’d seen men murdered. This was worse.
Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland—known as The Death Shop—are slim. If the cannibals don’t get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She’s been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He’s wild—a savage—and her only hope of staying alive.
A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile—everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria’s help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.
In her enthralling debut, Veronica Rossi sends readers on an unforgettable adventure set in a world brimming with harshness and beauty.

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Released January 17, 2012.

For months Clara Gardner trained to face the fire from her visions, but she wasn’t prepared for the choice she had to make that day. And in the aftermath, she discovered that nothing about being part angel is as straightforward as she thought.
Now, torn between her love for Tucker and her complicated feelings about the roles she and Christian seem destined to play in a world that is both dangerous and beautiful, Clara struggles with a shocking revelation: Someone she loves will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.
In this compelling sequel to Unearthly, Cynthia Hand captures the joy of first love, the anguish of loss, and the confusion of becoming who you are.

Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer

Released January 3, 2012. 

The third and final installment of the international bestselling Nightshade trilogy! 

Calla has always welcomed war. But now that the final battle is upon her, there's more at stake than fighting. There's saving Ren, even if it incurs Shay's wrath. There's keeping Ansel safe, even if he's been branded a traitor. There's proving herself as the pack's alpha, facing unnamable horrors, and ridding the world of the Keepers' magic once and for all. And then there's deciding what to do when the war ends. If Calla makes it out alive, that is. In this remarkable final installment of the Nightshade trilogy, international bestselling author Andrea Cremer crafts a dynamic novel with twists and turns that will keep you breathless until its final pages.

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Released March 6, 2012.

I’m pushing aside 
the memory of my nightmare, 
pushing aside thoughts of Alex, 
pushing aside thoughts of Hana 
and my old school, 
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Fever by Lauren DeStafano

Released February 21, 2012. 

Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but they’re still in danger. Outside, they find a world even more disquieting than the one they left behind. Determined to get to Manhattan and to find Rhine’s twin brother Rowan, the two press forward, amidst threats of being captured again . . . or worse.
The road they are on is long and perilous—and in a world where young women only live to age 20 and men die at age 25, time is precious. In this sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price—now that she has more to lose than ever.

Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins

Released March 13, 2012.

Hailed as “impossible to put down,” the Hex Hall series has both critics and teens cheering. With a winning combination of romance, action, magic and humor, this third volume will leave readers enchanted.

Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident.

Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late?

A Beautiful Evil by Kelley Keaton

Released February 21, 2012.

A power she can’t deny. A destiny she’s determined to fight.
When Ari first arrived in the dilapidated city of New 2, all she wanted was to figure out who she was. But what she discovered was beyond her worst nightmare. Ari is a descendant of Medusa and can already sense the evil growing inside her—a power the goddess Athena will stop at nothing to possess.
Desperate to hold on to her humanity and protect her loved ones, Ari must fight back. But Athena’s playing mind games, not just with Ari but with those she cares about most. And Athena has a very special plan for the brooding and sexy Sebastian.
Ari is determined to defeat Athena, but time is running out. With no other options, Ari must unleash the very thing she’s afraid of: herself.

Enshadowed by Kelley Creagh

Released August 28, 2012

While Varen remains a prisoner in the dream-world, Isobel is haunted by his memory. He appears to her in her dreams and soon, even in her waking life. But is she just imagining it? Isobel knows she must find a way back to Varen. She makes plans to go to Baltimore. There, she confronts the figure known throughout the world as the Poe Toaster—the same dark man who once appeared to Isobel in her dreams, calling himself “Reynolds.”
Isobel succeeds in interrupting the Toaster’s ritual and, in doing so, discovers a way to return to the dream-world. Soon, she finds herself swept up in a realm which not only holds remnants of Poe’s presence, but has also now taken on the characteristics of Varen’s innermost self. It is a dark world comprised of fear, terror, and anger.
When Isobel once more encounters Varen, she finds him changed. With his mind poisoned by the dream world, he becomes a malevolent force, bent on destroying all—even himself. Now Isobel must face a new adversary, one who also happens to be her greatest love.

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Released May 1, 2012.

No blurb yet, but this is what Kristin can tell you as of now:  Bitterblue is a companion book to both Graceling and Fire and takes place in the seven kingdoms eight years after Graceling (not six, as I'd written previously). As you may have gathered, the protagonist is Bitterblue. Yes, Katsa, Po, and others from Graceling do appear in the book.Bitterblue will be released on May 1, 2012 in the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. It will be released on the same day in a few other countries/languages as well; I'll supply that information when I have it.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ya Story Scavenger Hunt: Day 9

So, hey, everybody! I'm today's hunt stop for the 2011 YA Story Scavenger Hunt!

Follow the hunt every day during the month of December! Answer the daily trivia questions from MG and YA books published during 2011 to be entered into the YA book giveaway.

Today's question is from Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.
Question #17: What color was the dress in the pocket of which Adam hid something for Juliette to find?
Remember to fill out your answer in the form at Most Important Letter here!
Good luck! 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Book of the Week #8

Book of the Week is a weekly post about a particular book coming out sometime during the current week. 
This week's book is Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey. It looks so romantic! 

Released December 8, 2011.

A thrilling debut story of death, love, destiny and danger

Lenzi hears voices and has visions - gravestones, floods, a boy with steel gray eyes. Her boyfriend, Zak, can't help, and everything keeps getting louder and more intense. Then Lenzi meets Alden, the boy from her dreams, who reveals that she's a reincarnated Speaker - someone who can talk to and help lost souls - and that he has been her Protector for centuries.

Now Lenzi must choose between her life with Zak and the life she is destined to lead with Alden. But time is running out: a malevolent spirit is out to destroy Lenzi, and he will kill her if she doesn't make a decision soon.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Book Rating: ★★★★★
Cover Rating: ★★★★★

Reading level: Ages 13 and up 
Hardcover: 432 pages 
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (September 20, 2011)

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one.
But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can’t see how she ever will.
Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.
And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior, and he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.
Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

 I was drawn into this book immediately, mainly because of the characters and rapid-fire plot. Elisa is one of the most realistic characters I've ever read, especially in the way that she is not beautiful and her flaws are very apparent. Instead of that making me want to set the book down, it did just the opposite. You really see her grow as a character throughout the book, which is something I always have an eye for- I love to see people become stronger. And, I have to say, Rosario (Alejandro's son) is possible the coolest book-kid. Ever.
 The rest of the characters in this story are amazingly well-developed, too. You find yourself hating some, loving some, and dancing on the line, and through the whole book you find yourself trying to figure out carious characters. And when something bad happened to one of the major characters, I cried. In public. With big, fat tear streaming down my face and an occasional gasp. One lady asked me if I needed help. I responded frantically with something like, "NO GO HELP THEM. NOW." Alas, I failed. Anyway, what happened was so terrible that it was usually, in other books, something that was solved with an Abra Cadabra or some sort of time machine. In this book, it was raw, it was real, and there was no going back. Every twist of the plot broke your heart a little bit while making your pulse race faster. This book effectively put me on an emotional roller-coaster. And I loved every second of it. 
 Another great part of this book is the plot. The whole thing keeps you guessing and plotting with Elisa, feeling surprise and betrayal when she does. One of my favorite themes for books is those which involve royalty and high society. In this book, you watch as Elisa goes from frowned-upon princess to highly respected queen.
 I've heard some people say that they didn't like that  Elisa was so religious and they felt like they were being preached at. But I feel that the religious element of this book is an important piece of the story and it would have been a mistake to have left it out. Religion is a big part of who people are- so when you cut that out of a book, you miss part of the character. I wholly support authors who put religions into their books, even if they know it will be met with a picky public eye. 
  Overall, a book I think you should read even if it doesn't sound like your thing. It's totally worth the cash you pay for it, and you won't regret spending your time on it, either. I hope you'll give it a try.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Giveaway: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

In celebration of this book being released tomorrow, I will be giving away a copy! As implied, it is released tomrrow, and I will be ordering one lovely copy from Amazon. But, you see, one crazed book blogging girl only has so much money. So, this book that I order, I will be reading. And THEN I will be sending it to one lucky winner. But, don't worry, I'm a fast reader, and my books always stay in wonderful condition. And, I mean, it is still a FREE book. So just press the pretty buttons, smile, and eat a cookie. You deserve it.

"You can't touch me," I whisper.
I'm lying, is what I don't tell him.
He can touch me, is what I'll never tell him.
But things happen when people touch me.
Strange things.
Bad things. 

No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon.
But Juliette has plans of her own.
After a lifetime without freedom, she's finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time—and to find a future with the one boy she thought she'd lost forever.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Book of the Week # 7

 Book of the Week is a weekly post about a particular book coming out sometime during the current week. 

 This week's book is Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. I'm hoping for some kick-butt battle scenes. 

Released November 15, 2011

"You can't touch me," I whisper.
I'm lying, is what I don't tell him.
He can touch me, is what I'll never tell him.
But things happen when people touch me.
Strange things.
Bad things.
No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon.
But Juliette has plans of her own.
After a lifetime without freedom, she's finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time—and to find a future with the one boy she thought she'd lost forever.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Giveaway: Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

 I am bored. And sleepy. You know what this means. Or maybe you don't. But I do.
 Yep, kids, that's right! It means I'm having a hot-chocolate induced giveaway! Since I have still not received that glorious email from Rafflecopter, I am going to have to do this the old-fashioned way. Sort of.
 "WE DON'T CARE. What is the pretty you are giving away?" You ask, irritatedly poking my cheek. 
 The pretty, my friends, is actually a book that came out a while back but is fantastic and it causes much ooohhing and aaahhhing amongst the people.
 So now I will stop annoying you.         
                                           FOREVER by Maggie Stiefvater

#3 The Wolves of Mercy Falls

  • Debuted at #1 on the UK Children’s Top 500 Books
  • Debuted at #4 on the New York Times Bestseller Series List
  • USA Today Bestseller
The conclusion to #1 bestselling Shiver trilogy. In Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. In Linger, they fought to be together. Now, in Forever, the stakes are even higher than before. Wolves are being hunted. Lives are being threatened. And love is harder and harder to hold on to as death comes closing in.
  So, yep. It is not the first in the series, or recently released. But I want YOU to have it. Or maybe that guy standing behind you with the knife. *waits for you to be fooled by clever joke and turn around* Did I get you?

 Well, anyways, entering is REALLY easy. Just tweet this: I want to win FOREVER by @mstiefvater from @PenandInkChick!

Ends November 30th! International! Exclamation points are fun! 

 Fingers crossed!

Review: The Scorpio Races

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Book Rating: ★★★★☆
Cover Rating: ★★★☆☆

  • Reading level: Ages 14 and up
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press (October 18, 2011)

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.
At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.
Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

  This book definitely brought something new to my bookshelf. I never finished Shiver, but in comparison, the writing in this book is far more elegant and lyrical. The story takes place in Thisby, a claustrophobic and wild island where water horses, capaill uisce, come ashore very fall. They are not your average horse- they're faster, stronger, and prefer hearts to apples. I love the feel of this novel- the island, the horses, and the people became real to me. I can picture Puck and Sean racing on the cliffs, the ocean roaring below them. 
 You must understand that I absolutely love horses. I was raised with them. I think they are the ultimate symbol for freedom, and the most beautiful creature on the earth. I have been able to perfectly imitate a horses knicker since I was five, and they run to the fence when I do it. Freaky? Yes. Fun and also makes me feel like Ninja Jedi Master of Horses? Yes also. I'm not lucky enough to have a horse right now, but I hope that someday when I can actually legally obtain one I will have whole stable-full. After hearing that, I guess you can understand my reaction when, walking through my middle-of-nowhere town's wal-mart, I saw The Scorpio Races. And I publicly squeed. Very loudly. 
 Anyways, one of my first thoughts for the book was how much I loved the setting. Thisby seems so wild and free. I love the way Puck and Sean feel about the island, seem to have an attachment to it. Especially Puck, though, who's whole reason for entering the race is about staying on Thisby and in the house that she grew up in. But, then again, that part did leave me thinking that it was a bit improbable that someone would risk death for a house. I would have liked for Puck to have a stronger motivation for entering the races.
 I also liked the alternating POV between Puck and Sean. The story would have lost some of it's spice without it. The only problem I had was that the voices of the two are a bit too similar Sean was, however, my favorite character. I loved his cool attitude and his love for horses, and the way no matter how many times someone provoked him he never let them see he was upset. He was a perfect MC. Puck was also a good character, very real, but I felt like some of the things her character did didn't match up with her thoughts and attitude. Maybe it's just me being weird. 
  My one major problem was the climax. I found it... anti climatic. But, as I have said before, I like edge-of-your-seat, pins-and-needles, guts-and-glory kind of books. (Ex: The Hunger Games!) I feel like the whole novel was working up to this point, and it was dramatic and heart-wrenching, but it left me wanting more, and not in the good way. 
 Overall, you should totally read this book. I recommend reading by a fire of some sort, or at the beach. ALSO: check out the B-E-A-Utiful stop-motion Maggie Stiefvater did! I <3 it forever and ever!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Winner of Short Story & Halloween Giveaways!

WINNER OF SHORT STORY CONTEST: Before I announce the winner, let me just say that ALL the stories were fantastic. It seriously took me forever to decide the winner. I was expecting to have to take a while to read all of the entries, but it went quicker than I expected, so I have the winner! The winner of a signed ARC Frost by Marianna Baer is:
                                                 Rose Poole!
Again, than you so mush to everyone who put their time and talent into this. Never stop writing!

                                              Jenna F.

Congrats to those two! I hope you enjoy the books! If you didn't win this time around, I love having giveaways, so just keep looking for one to pop up here!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Review: The Name of The Star

The Name of The Star by Maureen Johnson

Book Rating: ★★★☆☆
Cover Rating: ★★★☆☆

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Juvenile; First Edition edition (September 29, 2011)
 The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper in the autumn of 1888.

Soon "Rippermania" takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police now believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was with her at the time, didn't notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.

 My entire life, I've always loved English accents. I also love hot tea but hate sweet tea, which means that I, living in the South, am constantly shunned. And, the cherry on top, is that I've always thought Jack the Ripper was a fascinating subject. Sick and very scary, but interesting. Really just puts Michael Meyers to shame. So when I found out Maureen Johnson was writing a book on Jack the Ripper, I was super, super excited.

 The first part of the book was very well written and extremely original. I liked Rory's spunk and voice, and Jazza was a good character, but sort of underdeveloped and too perfect. I liked Jerome, but he seems like crush material, not really serious. He is a well-developed, funny character, though, and he is certainly interesting. My favorite character by far has to be Stephen, though. Charismatic, quiet, brooding, dark.... I just adore him. I also hope that Rory's romance with Jerome goes south for a while, even though I like him. I feel like she and Stephen are a better fit. My second favorite character would be Alistair, who I won't spoil for you, but has a dismissive air about him that I love. The final character who I thought was excellently developed was, of course, The Ripper.

 The plot in this book was very good, even if it was a bit predictable. A bit fluffy at times, but you found yourself concerned for the characters and sitting on the edge of your seat often. I wish there had been more meat to the novel, more action and plotting. While the ending is very good, I had guessed how it would end half-way into the book.

The one really major problem I had with this book that took it from being four stars to three was the originality. Or, rather, what took that originality and made it cliche. While I love ghost books, this book had an amazing, original storyline going for it. Really, it wasn't the fact that there were ghosts- it was just the fact that there was an elite, special force that she happened to belong to. I have read that kind of book over and over again, and I was hoping for something new and unexpected that just jumped out at you, which this book very easily could have been.

 Overall, a good book, though it could have been better. I recommend reading it on a rainy afternoon or very late at night by candle.

Book of The Week #6

Book of the week is a weekly post about a particular book coming out sometime during the current week. 
 This week I chose Crossed by Ally Condie for BTW. After reading Matched, I'm really interested to see how this one goes. 

Released November 1, 2011. 

In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia's quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander - who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia's heart - change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Review: The Iron Knight

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

Book Rating: 5 Stars
Cover Rating: 5 Stars

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin; Original edition (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English

Received: NetGalley

My name—my True Name—is Ashallayn'darkmyr Tallyn.
I am the last remaining son of Mab, Queen of the Unseelie Court. And I am dead to her.
 My fall began, as many stories do, with a girl…

 This is yet another amazing book from Julie- I've been completely obsessed with the Iron Fey series since book one. I've never loved faery legends like  I do in this book. Instead of simply portraying each character, Julie brings them to life- I feel like I know everyone who lives inside the pages of these books, and more than any other book that I've ever felt that connection to. I cried, I nearly died of hysterics, and I felt Ash's confusion like it was my own. I've never been transported to a whole different universe so thoroughly. At first, I was a bit weary that it was from Ash's point of view, because Being so used to Meghan's, I was afraid it would seem like a different story. Well, it was different, but in an insanely good way. You get to see Ash in a whole new way, see that even ice-boy has a soft side. This book also offered a beautiful description of what it is to be human- not weakness, but strength. This book was, in one word, phenomenal. 
 The setting, in these books, is one of the best things about them. The Nevernever, the Faery world, is probably one of my favorite fictional places. The whole reason Ash has gone on his journey is so that he can be with Meghan in the Iron Court, because as a fey, he can't be around iron without becoming badly sick, and eventually dying. 
  One thing I feel compelled to tell you is that I am completely Team Puck. Not so much for him to be with Meghan, no, I'm leaning more towards me.  Not that I don't absolutely adore Ash. I just.... love....... Puck. I'm considering naming my firstborn son after him. I've always been a nature person, so maybe that's why. I love redheaded guys. I especially like guys who play with daggers and can pull a killer prank. (I mean that both literally and not.) So, enough of my babbling about incredibly drool worth guys. The characters in this book are all really well developed,  fitted to the story like... um.... fur on a dog? Well, yeah. Uhm, anyway, the only problem I had in that area was that I would have loved to get to know Ariella better. 
 Another fantastic thing about this book is the plot. At moments it had me panicking for one of the characters, laughing at a joke, or crying for them. It shows that you don't have to be immortal, or even inhuman, to be strong- which is a message that I've been looking for in a book for a really, really long time. No one  that I know has superpowers, or is Fey, or a vampire. I'm sure as heck none of those things. But this book broke down that wall that you find in a lot of paranormal books: only the strong survive, and only the otherworldly are strong. Truly a beautiful message. It has action (SWORDS HEHE!), clever cats, heart wrenching decisions, and lots and lots of romance. In other words, my perfect cup of hot chocolate. 
 When I finished reading this book, I had to go outside and run. I jumped up and down and laughed and then cried a bit, and the neighbors were staring at me with one hand ready to dial 911. It was totally worth it. This series is one of the two that made me fall in love with YA, and while I'm sad that it's over, I know I'll be re-reading them over, and over, and over again. It was a fantastic end to a fantastic series.  I highly recommend this book.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Halloween Reading List & Giveaway

                                    **SKIP TO BOTTOM FOR GIVEAWAY GUIDELINES**
 As I've said before, I LOVE Halloween. Just... everything about it. So, in order to get ready, I've decided to create a reading list, consisting of five books that I want to have read by Halloween.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

 "Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.
But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life."

 The Name of The Star by Maureen Johnson

 "The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Soon "Rippermania" takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn't notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities."

 Dearly, Deaperted by Lia Habel

 "Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?

The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.

But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire."

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Lani Taylor
 "Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

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

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

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

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

 "Mara Dyer believes life can't 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 strangely unharmed.
There is.
 She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.
She's wrong."

 What's on your reading list this Halloween?


 -You can pick ONE of the five books listed above.
 -Leave a comment containing your email and which book you would prefer.
 -There will be one winner.
 -The contest will close at midnight on Halloween.
 -It IS International! Yay!
 -You can Get an +1 entry by TWEETING! So TWEET! Be sure to leave the link in the comment and to @ mention @PenandInkChick in the tweet!

Review: Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Book Rating: 5/5 Stars
Cover Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Reading level: Young Adult

Hardcover: 344 pages

Publisher: Philomel (March 22, 2011)

 In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina is preparing for art school, first dates, and all that summer has to offer. But one night, the Soviet secret police barge violently into her home, deporting her along with her mother and younger brother. They are being sent to Siberia. Lina's father has been separated from the family and sentenced to death in a prison camp. All is lost.
  Lina fights for her life, fearless, vowing that if she survives she will honor her family, and the thousands like hers, by documenting their experience in her art and writing. She risks everything to use her art as messages, hoping they will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive.
 It is a long and harrowing journey, and it is only their incredible strength, love, and hope that pull Lina and her family through each day. But will love be enough to keep them alive?

 This book was wonderful, heartbreaking, and beautiful. It was raw and real. It moved me in a way that few other books have. The main character isn't perfect, like you so often see in other books. The romance doesn't consume the plot, as it so often does in other books. It focuses on the story of hope, determination, bravery, and love.
 This book tells a forgotten story. When I picked it up at the library, I was, at the least, very surprised to learn that there was another horror going on alongside Hitler's Holocaust. I love history, and I've always done excess research outside of history class. When I learned about this, I felt as if I had been whacked between the eyes. All the Lithuanians, Estonians, and Latvians lives who were lost is simply astounding, along with their story of pure bravery and perseverance.
 This novel tells that story in a beautiful, unforgettable way. Lina is a fifteen year old Lithuanian artist taken by the NKVD because her father works at the university and shows signs of being anti-Soviet. Lina, her mother, and her brother are separated from her father, who is sent to jail. Lina and her family endure many horrors.
 The characters are heartbreakingly real. One of my favorite characters is Lina's mother, Elena. She never lets the enemy see her broken. She went to all lengths to keep her children, friends, o even stragers safe. She loved her children and husband with every fiber of her body, and she saw the good in everyone, even a NKVD officer. She was a stunning yet very realistic character, as were all of the others.
 The plot and story of this book is captivating. You never once get bored, and the writing style is smooth, inspiring, and beautiful. I found myself crying and laughing with Lina, and becoming distressed and worried when she was. And when I looked at what all she had to endure, I don't know how any of them survived without going completely insane. The pure power of human love in this book will bring you to tears.
 I also found a video for the book that tells you the inspiring stories of some of the survivors. WATCH IT!
 If you haven't read this book, you should. Read the first page. I double-dog dare you.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

In Celebration of the Spooks Short Story Contest

 So, I love Halloween. It's my favorite holiday in the whole wide world. I love the candy, the creepy feeling at night, the pure excitement. But most of all, I love the stories and legends about Halloween. For instance, in fifth grade, we had to give a speech. Mine was on the legend of the Jack o' Lantern. Yep. That's how fangirly I am.

 Anyways, I decided that it would be awesome to hold a short story contest based on the theme of ghosts or murders, or, basically, anything that goes bump in the night.

 I'll be taking entries from tonight to October 11th. The winner will receive a SIGNED ARC of  Frost, by Marianna Baer. It is international!

   -The story must be at least 200 words.
   -The story MUST have something creepy in it.
   -This is international!
   -The stories may be submitted until midnight on October 31st. I'll take a week to read and judje them all, and then announce the winner on the 28th.
   -The stories MUST BE emailed to me at
   -PLEASE leave a comment telling me if you will be entering.
 So that's it! I hope to hear from a lot of you!

 UPDATE: I HAVE EXTENDED THE DEADLINE due to not enough entries. It now runs till the THIRTY-FIRST of October, also known as HALLOWEEN. Tell your friends! What I have gotten so far looks fantastic, though- keep it coming guys!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Review: Frost

Review: Frost

Book Rating: 3 Stars
Cover Rating: 4 Stars

Reading level: Young Adult  
Hardcover: 400 pages                          
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (September 13, 2011) 

  Leena Thomas’s senior year at boarding school begins with a shock: Frost House, her cozy dorm of close friends, has been assigned an unexpected roommate: confrontational, eccentric Celeste Lazar. But while Leena’s anxiety about a threat to her sanctuary proves valid, it becomes less and less clear whether the threat lies with her new roommate, within Leena’s own mind, or within the very nature of Frost House itself. Mysterious happenings in the dorm, an intense triangle between Leena, Celeste, and Celeste’s brother, and the reawakening of childhood fears, all push Leena to take increasingly desperate measures to feel safe. Frost is the story of a haunting. As to whether the demons are supernatural or psychological . . . well, which answer would let you sleep at night?

THOUGHTS: I had really, really been looking forward to this book, and I have to say, it did not impress me. I love creepy books, ones that keep you thinking and plotting, and that is what I expected this one to be like. Well, it was set up to be that way, but I had the book figured out the moment Leena describes the weird, alluring feeling she had towards the house. It was really predictable. I also got to places where it was completely and totally boring- absolutely nothing of interest was going on. The parts where you would want something to jump out and scream "BOO!" were left bare, and the places where that did happen were few and far between.

 SETTING: The setting, of course, is Frost House, a dorm that is said to be haunted. Leena feels an immediate attraction to the place, and pulls some string with connections so that she can live there. But while the book attempts to play the house up to be this spooky, sinister place, I never really got that from it. I would have liked to see more nightmares, doors slamming, messages on walls, ect. You know, the kind of stuff that makes you look around your room and turn on every light possible. This book just didn't pull it off.

 CHARACTERS: The characters in this book did seem real, even though I did find myself annoyed with Leena. She thinks everything she does is best, even though a lot of the time it's hurting other people. But, the way I see it, we shouldn't judge a book on how we liked the character, but rather how the character fit the story she or he was placed in and how real that character seems. And the writer definitely has done an excellent job of making her characters seem real.

PLOT: Here is my biggest problem. You get all this buildup for a heartbreaking, sucker punch to the gut, knock-down, drag-out climax. The whole book is setting you up for this one moment and.............. BOOM! NOTHING AT ALL HAPPENS. This is one of my pet peeves in books- anti-climatic endings. I want drama, despair, action.... anything. This book consists of sitting in a closet. You can't even really tell when the climax occurs. It left me beating my head against the wall. It also had one of those unresolved endings, which irks me to no end. On a good book, I find them intriguing. In this one... not so much. It never even really discusses the ghost haunting frost house. All you get is that it was a girl who lost her baby and likes Leena but not Celeste. Whoooo. Scary. Overall, not a book I would recommend.

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