Monday, February 24, 2014

Meme Monday

Friday, February 21, 2014

Book Review: Perfect Lies

Annie and Fia are ready to fight back.

The sisters have been manipulated and controlled by the Keane Foundation for years, trapped in a never ending battle for survival. Now they have found allies who can help them truly escape. After faking her own death, Annie has joined a group that is plotting to destroy the Foundation. And Fia is working with James Keane to bring his father down from the inside.

But Annie's visions of the future can't show her who to trust in the present. And though James is Fia's first love, Fia knows he's hiding something. The sisters can rely only on each other - but that may not be enough to save them.  Quoted from Goodreads


I think I liked this book even more than Mind Games. It was everything you could hope for in a sequel and then some. 

In the first book I was totally team Fia, probably because I absolutely love her unique super power.  Fia's was the POV that I loved reading, while Annie was more filler/take a break from poor Fia's issues. I feel like in this book it's much more equal.  Annie grew into a much more interesting character once she was out of the school and away from Fia.  Plus, I loved her romance in this.  It was cute, adorable, and different because of her ability.

The conflict in this book is even more action packed and stressful.  It's so interesting when your opposition is staffed with mind readers and feelers (people who can sense your emotions), so you can't actually plan anything to take them down or they'll know and stop you.  It sort of drove me crazy but at the same time made for a really compelling read because you didn't know exactly what would happen.

I actually enjoyed the writing this time a lot. Kiersten did a great job with Fia as she mentally spirals towards the end, and it contrasts nicely with Anne's POV. Both voices and characters are really distinct and I never questioned whose POV I was reading. The only thing that was a little confusing was the timeline, since Fia's chapters were several weeks/months later than Anne's. At the same time, it made for some interesting reveals once I learned to pay attention to the chapter headings.

Basically, if you're looking for an action packed, fast read, look no further.  It's got everything from super powers, romance, action, importance of family, betrayal, covert missions, mind games (yes, I'm referencing the first title), and assassinations.  It's a strong 4 stars for me.  Part of me wishes that this was a trilogy, but at the same time I really liked the ending of this book. I guess I'll just have to wait for Kiersten's next book.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Trailer Tuesday: Dangerous

I love Shannon Hale, so it hardly matter what she writes; this is a pre-order for me.  With a few exceptions (The Actor and the Housewife, anyone?), I love just about everything she's put out. Then I heard she's tackling Science Fiction (I mean, it is the popular genre right now), and I'm sold.  Check out the trailer and synopsis below, and tell me if you're as excited for March 4th as I am.

Maisie Danger Brown just wanted to get away from home for a bit, see something new. She never intended to fall in love. And she never imagined stumbling into a frightening plot that kills her friends and just might kill her, too. A plot that is already changing life on Earth as we know it. There's no going back. She is the only thing standing between danger and annihilation.

From NY Times bestselling author Shannon Hale comes a novel that asks, How far would you go to save the ones you love? And how far would you go to save everyone else?  Quoted from Goodreads

Monday, February 17, 2014

Meme Monday

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Book Review: Vitro

On Skin Island, even the laws of creation can be broken.

On a remote island in the Pacific, Corpus scientists have taken test tube embryos and given them life. These beings—the Vitros—have knowledge and abilities most humans can only dream of. But they also have one enormous flaw.

Sophie Crue is determined to get to Skin Island and find her mother, a scientist who left Sophie behind years ago. With the help of Jim Julien, a young charter pilot, she arrives--and discovers a terrifying secret she never imagined: she has a Vitro twin, Lux, who is the culmination of Corpus's dangerous research.
Now Sophie is torn between reuniting with the mother who betrayed her and protecting the genetically enhanced twin she never knew existed. But untangling the twisted strands of these relationships will have to wait, for Sophie and Jim are about to find out what happens when science stretches too far beyond its reach.  Quoted from Goodreads


Vitro was a really fun action/adventure, very similar to Origin, while having just about no overlap whatsoever.  Technically it's a companion book, but none of the characters, locations, or experiments overlap, just the big, bad company.  Still, if you liked Origin, I would absolutely pick up Vitro and vice versa.

This book really is one thing after another, never really giving you a moment to catch your breath.  It's told in alternating POVs between Sophie and Jim, and while each POV furthers the story along, you can't help turning pages to get back to the other character, because almost every chapter ends in some type of peril or cliff-hanger. 

I really enjoyed both Sophie and Jim.  Much of their relationship is based on childhood memories, but you could see their connection and even loyalty to each other, despite the years they've been apart.  Plus, with a few minor exceptions, they're both smart, capable characters thrust into a situation neither of them ever would have imagined, and I liked the way they handled the the circumstances of Skin Island.  They aren't as developed as they could be, but it's pretty much par for the course for action/adventure books.

The writing is excellent, immersing you as a reader into the rich world of Skin Island, so you really get a feel of where everything is taking place. The setting and atmosphere are particularly well done, as are the twists. Sure, a few of them I saw coming, but there were a couple that really took me by surprise and kept me, as a reader, on my toes.  

Basically this is everything you could want in an action/adventure book.  Exotic location? Check.  Plenty of  plot twists? Check. Potential for widespread catastrophe? Check. Cutting edge/pseudo science? Check. Love interest? Check.  Character growth? Check. Abundant explosions and gunfights? Check.  Mistaken identity? Check. Truly evil antagonist you can really hate? Check. Secondary antagonist who's morally ambiguous and you can't quite hate though part of you thinks you should? Check.

If you're looking for a fun, action packed, stand alone (or very loose companion if you want to get technical) look no further. I'm giving this book a high 3.5, and I'm hoping Jessica Khoury writes more adventures in this world. There are a few people left I'd really like to see get their comeuppance.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day . . . Or Singles Awareness Day, whichever fits you better.  To celebrate today, I've picked out five of my favorite, happy, romantic stand-alone books (best read with chocolate).  Really, there are too many cute books out there, so I've chosen books whose main focus is romance---meaning when you tell the book to your friends, it's the romance you mention first and any other adventures, plot points, etc. second. I'll be honest, this does eliminate a lot of the books that I read, but there's still plenty to choose from.  I decided on stand-alones, partly to cut down my options, but partly so you could actually get to the mushy, romantic stuff faster.  And then there's the happy part.  I'm really not into death and tears at the end of the book, so if that's what you're looking for, I refer you to Mr. Nicholas Sparks (who I refuse to read because of aforementioned sad endings).  If you want a book with a happy ending, however, look no further, and enjoy.

I hope, whether single or in a relationship, you have an amazing day.

1. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

2: Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

3. The Distance Between Us by Kacie West

4. Just Ella by Annette K. Larsen

5. It's a Mall World After All by Janette Rallison

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Book Review: Split Second

Life can change in a split second.

Addie hardly recognizes her life since her parents divorced. Her boyfriend used her. Her best friend betrayed her. She can’t believe this is the future she chose. On top of that, her ability is acting up. She’s always been able to Search the future when presented with a choice. Now she can manipulate and slow down time, too . . . but not without a price.

When Addie’s dad invites her to spend her winter break with him, she jumps at the chance to escape into the Norm world of Dallas, Texas. There she meets the handsome and achingly familiar Trevor. He’s a virtual stranger to her, so why does her heart do a funny flip every time she sees him? But after witnessing secrets that were supposed to stay hidden, Trevor quickly seems more suspicious of Addie than interested in her. And she has an inexplicable desire to change that.

Meanwhile, her best friend, Laila, has a secret of her own: she can restore Addie’s memories . . . once she learns how. But there are powerful people who don’t want to see this happen. Desperate, Laila tries to manipulate Connor, a brooding bad boy from school—but he seems to be the only boy in the Compound immune to her charms. And the only one who can help her.
As Addie and Laila frantically attempt to retrieve the lost memories, Addie must piece together a world she thought she knew before she loses the love she nearly forgot . . . and a future that could change everything.  Quoted from Goodreads


There is the great great possibility that I actually liked this book even more than the first one.  I'll admit it's hard to judge, but I really love the way Kacie West continued the story.

The second book picks up right were the first one leaves off. Laila is on the cover this time instead of Addie, and I actually didn't realize that half the book would be told from her POV (so instead of two different paths both featuring Addie, we get two different caracters.  In fact, the first time Leila started talking, I was kind of nervous I wouldn't like it as well---but I did!  Sure, I want more Addie and Trevor. That was my favorite plot line in the last book, but the author does a great job of weaving action, intrigue, and romance into Leila's half, that I ended up loving both POVs. Plus, Addie and Leila both feel different.  It's very clear which on is speaking at any given chapter despite the constant POV change.  

In fact, all the characters are well thought out and developed. Everyone you know and love, or love to hate, is back. The author fleshes out the characters even more this time around.  The stereotypical high school bad guys (you know, the mean cheerleader and the entitled jock) are given depth, and even redeemed at points, this time around. It's also fun because Addie goes out of the compound, not remembering the search she did in the last book, so we get to meet a bunch of the characters all over again, but it's very different this time around, and I think the author had a lot of fun with that.

As for the plot, it's deceptively intense.  It's a lot like Pivot Point, where all these little, innocuous things, start building up into something horrible and life altering that our main characters have to overcome.

Basically, this is the third Kacie West book I've read, and I just love it.  Her characters are always realistic, her plots intense (for their genre), her humor subtle, and her writing descriptive (I'm talking, she knows how to really show, not tell).  I don't know if Split Second is the last book in the series or not (it could be but there are a few loose ends I'd like to know more about), but I really loved the ending and am giving this book a high 4 stars.  If you want to read a well put together book, you really should check this one out.  It's excellent.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Trailer Tuesday: The Winner's Curse

I should probably preface this by saying I know nothing about this author. Even though she's written several books before this, I've never checked them out. Still, if this book is as good as I'm hoping it will be, then I might have to read some of the other things she's written.  Besides the trailer and synopsis below, what really makes me excited for this is all the great reviews the book has gotten.  Everyone whose read it, and I do mean everyone lucky enough to get an advanced copy, from bloggers to other authors, seems to think it's amazing, giving it 4-5 stars across the board, so with all those recommendations, how can I not be excited?  Check out the trailer and synopsis below and see if you're as excited as I am.

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love 

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. 

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. 

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse
 by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart. Quoted from Goodreads

Monday, February 10, 2014

Meme Monday
Sadly,  this is also me, slowly confirming my total nerd status.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Book Review: Alienated

Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them. 
Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.

Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking.

But when Cara's classmates get swept up by anti-L'eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn't safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara's locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class. 
Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she's fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.  Quoted from Goodreads


Isn't that just the best cover?  It's cute, different, and perfectly represents the story inside.  I know you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but I totally do, and this one said READ ME.

Okay, on to the actual book.  It's just plain fun.  You can pretty much guess from the set up in the beginning what's going to happen (with a few fun twist and turns), and I was okay with that.  After reading books like Rick Yancey's The 5th Wave (which I love, don't get me wrong), it's nice to have less violent aliens.  I'm not saying they're perfect or that there isn't conflict, but this book explores more the idea of human aggression and fear of the unknown vs. tolerance and acceptance, rather than alien invasion, and I enjoyed the different angle.  

As for the characters, I really enjoyed Aelyx and Cara. They're different, well thought out, and realistic. The book's told from their dual POV, so you get both sides of the story.  I particularly liked the L'eihr culture as it conflicted with earth's. They're colder, eat blander food, more formal, cloned, didn't grow up in a family unit, smarter, less emotional, and more genetically advanced, so you get that whole fish-out-of-water fun as worlds collide.  I'll admit the physical descriptions reminded me of the main characters from Beth Revis's Across the Universe series, but I understand in both cases why they chose those particular features, so it didn't really bother me.

The romance is sweet (though I'm hoping a love triangle doesn't show up in the second book---there were hints that it could) and well developed.  I loved the lack of insta-love and the way Aelyx and Cara drew closer together as the book progressed.  

As a heads up, this does have more of a young adult vibe than a lot of YA science fiction book's I've read lately. Mostly I blame it on the setting (almost all high school).  I realize this sounds weird, since it is clearly a YA book, so what else is it supposed to feel like? Let me explain. Most YA  Scifi books I've read feature teenagers set in space or on a sort of post-apocalyptic earth or further in the future---you get the idea.  This one could be set two years from now, and with the exception of a few chapters, it takes place all in a little town (and again, mostly  at the high school) somewhere in the US. It's all part of the author exploring the human reaction to things rather than focusing on alien aggression.

What I'm especially excited for is book two.  While I really enjoyed this book, I can't wait to see what happens next.  I want to learn more about the L'eihrs and their planet. We got Aelyx's fish-out-of-water story this time.  I can't wait for Cara's.  Plus, tension are higher, and there's a lot more to loose at this point. So should you read this?  Absolutely.  If you're not a hard core science fiction fan, this is a great lead in. If you are, it's a fun, lighter take with some interesting world building and a great lead up to the next book.  It's a solid 3.5 stars for me, rounding up to 4 on Goodreads (oh how I wish they did half stars!).

If you want to know more, check out the trailer below.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Book Review: Cress

Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard.

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army. 

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice. 

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.  Quoted from Goodreads


Love, love, love!  This was one of my most anticipated books for this year, and it absolutely did not disappoint.  Right up front, 5 stars!  Yes, that is how much I love this series.  I'm not saying it's everyone's cup of tea, but for me it's just about perfect.

I'm a bit in awe of Marissa Meyer's ability to add new main characters and elements of an new fairy tale and not leave the characters from her earlier books behind.  With Scarlet I thought I'd loose Cinder, and then with Cress, I was afraid Scarlet's story would fade into the background.  Sure, no one gets quite as much page time as Cinder did in the first book, but I felt she did an excellent job on juggling all her plot points, keeping each character essential to the story, and furthering the small story arcs as well as the big ones. 

She's also amazing an incorporating so many elements of the fairy tale she's focusing on while keeping her setting and plot so completely different.  I'm pretty sure she might just be a genius. 

As for Cress, I absolutely adore her.  The characterization of this series is so completely realized.  Every character, big or small, is perfectly put together, thought out, and fully realized.  Here we really get to meet Cress. She's so different from Cinder and Scarlet, with her own voice and mannerisms.  She's sweeter than they are, a bit more naive, but wither hew own, distinctive skill set and voice.  Then there's the lovely Captain Thorne, who we got to know in the last book, and he just keeps getting better and better.  Plus, each goes through some pretty horrible challenges that changes them, causes them to grow, and I love how their relationship builds.

As for everything else, this book is packed.  We get kidnappings (lots of these, folks), survival stories (man vs. nature), betrayal, chase scenes, fights, deceptions, reunions, broken hearts, new loves, secret tunnels, hacking, torture, gambling, shooting, and magic (of the lunar variety)!  

Have I sold you yet?  Really, you need to read this series. 5 stars, remember!  Check it out.  Read the first two if you haven't started yet, and then pick this up.  It's absolutely worth it.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Meme Monday

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Book Review: Cruel Beauty

Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.
As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.  Quoted from Goodreads


Love this book.

Well, that pretty much covers it.  Beauty and the Beast is one of my all time favorite fairy tales.  Throw in Robin McKinley's Beauty and Disney's animated classic, and there's not a lot left for people to do that isn't embarrassingly derivative or just plane sub-par.  Still, between that amazing cover and the eternal hope of another classic take on the legend, and I was sold.

First off, the whole book just feels different.  The world is heavily based in Greek mythology (reminiscent of a Cupid and Psyche retelling instead of Beauty and the Beast), which lends a depth and texture to the world and the circumstances of Nyx's relationship with the Gentle Lord.  It's also not just purely Beauty and the Beast that the author taps into for her inspiration. We get shades of other, less well known fairy tales, such as Blue Beard, to round out the story.

What really helps distinguish this from other adaptions is Nyx herself.  To be perfectly blunt, she isn't all sweetness and goodness or even really gentle and kind.  She hates the bargain her father made, hates her sister for not taking her place, and hates herself for hating them.  At the same time, she's strong willed, brave, and selfless---the exact kind of character I love to read about.  She isn't timid or even really intimidated by her circumstances.  She makes things happen, and while she's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, she's grounded and real.

And don't forget Ignifex (the Gentle Lord). He's evil incarnate in the beginning, so our "beast" isn't just a good person in an ugly body, but someone who actually does despicable things---but it isn't exactly as Nix is lead to believe.  I love Ignifex's  character.   He's charming and funny, witty and ruthless, full of broken pieces he doesn't even acknowledge.  To counterbalance this, we get Shade, Ignifex's shadow, who is everything Ignifex isn't but is full of his own desperate secrets. Yes, I'll admit, there is something resembling a love triangle for a small moment, but only for a moment . . . sort of.

So what this boils down to is this is not your basic fairy tale retelling. Yes, all the elements are there, but it never feels like a retelling.  This is a story whole and fresh in and of itself while sticking pretty faithfully to the Beauty and the Beast elements from the original fairy tale. So should you read it? Yes. Absolutely.  I'm giving it a strong 4.5 stars. It was everything I hoped for and more while being completely separate at the same time.  I can't wait to see what this debut author does next.

Anticipating February

Okay, so I'll totally admit that January was a total fail for me as a blogger, which is really sad since I was going to make a new years resolution about it.  Still, new month, new resolution.  Plus, I have so many fantastic books from January that I still need to review, plus the amazing books coming out this month, that February is looking to be a great month.

Now, here are the upcoming books I'm particularly excited for.  There are tons more coming out, of course, but these are the ones that look especially intriguing.

           4th:  Cress – Melissa Meyer

        Fates – Lanie Bross

         Elevated – ElanaJohnson

            25th: Season of Wonder – Lisa T. Bergren
                    Killer Frost – Jennifer Estep
                    Unforgotten – Jessica Brody
                    The Shadow Throne – Jennifer A. Nielsen

                    The Well’s End – Seth Fishman

And there we go!  You can see why I'm so excited for this month.  It used to be that February was sort of a bad month for me book-wise, but clearly that is no longer the case.  So many amazing books, and a bunch more coming out that didn't even make this list (feel free to let me know if I didn't include one that is going to be absolutely amazing). All in all, I think February is going to be great.