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.

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