Thursday, March 31, 2011

Review: Born at Midnight (Shadow Falls #1) by C.C. Hunter

Kylie's life is falling apart. Her grandmother died, her parents are divorced, her boyfriend dumped her and now she's got a mysterious stalker that no one else seems to see. As if that weren't enough, after being caught in a drug bust at a party (though she wasn't doing drugs herself), Kylie is shipped off to Shadow Falls by her Ice Queen mother. Shadow Falls, a camp for troubled teens, is even freakier than Kylie expected -- full of Goth girls and leering boys -- and when Kylie discovers that her fellow campers aren't just troubled, but inhuman, it may be more than she can take.

It was difficult to get into this novel. The writing is clunky and tries too hard to be "teenagery" by overusing expressions like "face it" to the point of repetitiveness, which distracts from the story. Furthermore, it is hard to sympathize with Kylie when her paranoid and judgmental attitude is so off-putting. Born at Midnight also adopts the ubiquitous good guy/bad boy love triangle. The two boys -- Derek and Lucas -- held a lot of potential to be engaging characters (and Lucas was especially seductive), but the relationships weren't given enough time and development to encourage readers to invest.

This problem carried over to the story as a whole -- it felt rushed, only skimming the surface of the narrative and never delving deeply into the dark and varied world C.C. Hunter creates. The real plot finally appears late in the novel and the final pages do muster a moving emotional intensity, full of surprises that -- if they'd been hinted at earlier on -- would have really improved the novel's engagement. The ending was sweet and sad and tear-jerking -- almost a completely different story (in a good way). I have hope that, if the writing is tightened, the sequel will improve upon the intriguing premise at the novel's heart.

Rating: 

Disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this novel from the publisher. This did not influence my review in any way.

Click here to purchase Born at Midnight by C. C. Hunter.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Cornucopia of Dystopia: XVI by Julia Karr

Unlike most teenage girls, Nina dreads her Sweet Sixteen: the day she'll be branded as fair game for the lecherous male population of her society. However, everything changes the night her mother dies. On her deathbed, she entrusts Nina with the secret she will die to protect, and changes Nina's life forever. Armed with unfathomable new knowledge, Nina sets out to solve the mystery of her family's past and her own future -- all while trying to stay out of the killer's sights.

Julia Karr has penned a novel strikingly relevant to our own time, intertwining the media influence and commercial culture with concerns about the exploitation of teenage sexuality. XVI is incredibly easy to read. Unlike some overwrought writing, Karr's prose does not get in the way of her story. Likewise, the world-building is subtle and unobtrusive. Many dystopian novels fixate on the brave new world, and not the people in it -- but XVI is Nina's story, first and foremost, while the futuristic and dystopic elements are blended seamlessly into the backdrop. Many things about the world just don't add up for Nina, and she's determined to find out why. At the heart of her story lies a secret with earth-shattering ramifications, and she struggles to unravel the rich backstory, adding depth and complexity to the mystery.

Nina is a beautifully written character. She doesn't have to work for readers' affection -- they will instantly fall in love with her girl-next-door charm and familiarity. Nina is tough and vulnerable, unusual and still just a normal girl. She's resourceful in a crisis and isn't afraid to question the world in which she lives. It's exciting to see a heroine who's already a bit of a rebel, without needing an outsider (read: boy) to show her the light. However, there is a hero in Nina's story, and their relationship is the only real problem with the narrative. Considering the sex-teen society in which she lives, Nina's qualms about the opposite sex seem natural. However, her sudden romance with Sal undermines the delicate issues that haunt Nina from the start. I would have liked to see this crucial element treated more deeply, in order to believe in their relationship.

Though Nina shines, her friends fall a little flat. Sandy seems to be a stereotype of the society, and Mike and Derek fill archetypal roles. However, Nina's new friend Wei is a force to be reckoned with. Wei, like Nina, has her doubts about society and she's not afraid to fight back -- disguising her "XVI" tattoo and learning martial arts to defend against the many licentious men roaming the streets. Additionally, Nina's family is richly written -- it is easy to see where she gets her charisma. Her grandparents are real and wonderful people, and her mom clearly loves her daughters though she harbors deadly secrets. The relationship between Nina and her little sister Dee is one of the most touching aspects of the novel. Nina's motherly love and care for Dee is tangible, and her willingness to make sacrifices for her gives Nina an air of nobility that melds perfectly with the rest of her character.

XVI moves at a brisk pace, keeping readers' minds awhirl to solve the troubling puzzle that drives the story. The solution is only partially revealed in this first installment, and raises almost as many questions as it answers -- raising the stakes for the upcoming sequel, Truth.

Rating: 

Click here to purchase XVI by Julia Karr.





You can also read my author interview with Julia Karr!







A Cornucopia of Dystopia: Author Interview with Julia Karr (XVI)


I grew up in the small town of Seymour, Indiana. Although I’ve lived as far east (and south) as St. Augustine, Florida, and as far west as Longmont, Colorado, I now live about fifty miles from my hometown.

I’ve been writing nearly all of my life. When I was young, I lived with my grandmother and my older sister, but my mother lived in Chicago. I spent a lot of time writing her long, newsy letters about what was happening in my life. She would sometimes correct my spelling by return mail! (I learned to love being edited! lol!)

I also loved to write poetry and draw. I would design greeting cards and send them to my friends and relatives.

When I was sixteen, I moved to Chicago to live with my mother. I fell in love with Chicago, and have never fallen out of it! There is nothing quite like the thrumming heartbeat of a big city!

I have two lovely daughters, who are grown. They both live within five miles of me, and I like that a lot! When they were little, I used to make up stories for them. That was when I first starting thinking about writing for children. But, it wasn’t until they were out of the house that I began to take my writing seriously.

I love writing young adult novels. XVI is dystopian fiction, but I am also working on some fantasy and some contemporary themes. Too many ideas, too little time!

From author's website.



How do you pronounce the title – “X-V-I” or “Sixteen”?

I actually do both. From the start, I called it Sixteen. My editor and the publishing house calls it X-V-I. Now I use both!


What was the first scene you wrote for this novel? How has it changed over the course of the publishing process?

The first scene I wrote was Nina meeting Sal. That ended up being moved back in the book - although the scene itself stayed pretty much the same throughout.


Nina is a very creative individual, and a talented artist. Do you have any hidden artistic talents outside of writing?

Well… I know my way around a sewing machine - I like to sketch - and I can play the piano (only for my own enjoyment.) I also tried my hand at woodworking - I really like that, too. But - writing is where it's at right now.


The XVI tattoos are a central symbol in the novel, and some characters have given them their own flair. Do you have any tattoos? If you were to get one, what would it be of?

I don't have any tattoos (yet!) My older daughter and her husband actually own a tattoo place and both of them are tattooed! See, the reason I don't have a tattoo is because I can't decide what I would want! I think I'm too fickle for something that permanent. :)


There is a very Space Age feel to the world of XVI. Why did you choose to envision the future this way? Do you think we’ll have settled Mars in 150 years?

My characters kind of envisioned the world for me - I dictated what they had to say. Well, not exactly - but… :) I'm not sure that settling any other planets will have happened in 150 years - but, I bet there will be more space stations & the moon… maybe a settlement there. Why not?


In XVI and many other dystopian novels, it is the female population who are the most oppressed or abused. Do you think patriarchy and misogyny are things our society will ever fully escape?

I certainly hope so! Honestly, it's going to take a lot of changing of the ways we raise our children. As long as gender-based roles are followed - patriarchy & misogyny will be around. Maybe women need to be a little more aggressive in raising their sons to respect their daughters?


What was the most challenging aspect of writing this novel?

Being true to the story and not copping out on the hard stuff. Fortunately, I was not writing it with the goal of being published - I was writing the story that was there.


Nina’s little sister Dee is very important to her. Do you have a younger sister whom you drew on to create Dee and their sisterly bond?

Actually, just the opposite - I am the younger sister. My older sister was very protective of me. I think subconsciously I drew on that relationship in the Nina/Dee interactions.


Nina is understandably wary of romantic relationships. What male character from another YA novel do you think would be able to break down her walls if they were to meet?

I'm all about Jacob Black. :)


In one of the other event interviews, you mentioned that you were working on projects from a range of genres – fantasy, contemporary, historical – is there one genre that you enjoy writing more than others? Is there one that’s harder to write?

I think fantasy is hard. I love writing mysteries. I'd have to say that as long as the story is coming from my heart - I just love writing!


For more about this author, please visit:




Come back later today for my review of XVI!

Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world—even the most predatory of men—that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a "sex-teen" is Nina's worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina's mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past—one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother's killer.

Thanks to Julia for this great interview, and for participating in A Cornucopia of Dystopia!


Waiting on Wednesday: Frost by Marianna Baer

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine to highlight upcoming releases we're anxiously awaiting!


Coming September 13, 2011!


Frost by Marianna Baer

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?



I love the blending of the supernatural with the psychological in this novel. It's impossible to predict what path the book will take, and I'm so ready for some unpredictability! It sounds so dark on so many levels. I'm also intrigued by the triangle between Leena, Celeste and Celeste's brother. What kind of triangle? A love triangle? Because that would bring in so many complex issues to explore. Frost sounds mind-bending, and I cannot wait! I especially love the last line of the synopsis -- it's what really sold me: "As to whether the demons are supernatural or psychological...well, which answer would let you sleep at night?"

What do you guys think? Does this sound like your kind of read? What upcoming release are you waiting for this week?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Review: Entwined by Heather Dixon

Azalea's life is just beginning, when suddenly it's brought to a screeching halt. In the aftermath, Azalea and her sisters must retreat into mourning: no daylight, no visitors, and worst of all -- no dancing. But dancing is the only thing that makes them feel alive, and so each night they slip away to the secret sanctuary hidden behind the palace walls, and they dance. The Keeper is glad to share his forest with the beautiful, dancing girls -- but he has a secret, one the princesses may not discover until far, far too late.

Entwined's fairy tale tone immediately pulls the reader into an enchanted world and brilliantly imaginative story. The world-building in this novel is phenomenal, creating original kingdoms and secret forests of silver and starlight. Heather Dixon weaves the formalities of yore -- dancing and curtsies and solemn vows -- into her magical world with ease, adding a unique flavor to the tale. The high fantasy feel was unexpected but welcome, a wonderful escape from reality.

The highlight of the novel is unquestionably the twelve princesses. Their relationship is heart-warming and adorable, reminding me of puppies playfully tumbling over one another. Their bond is unbreakable, and their sisterly love is palpable. The eldest sisters radiate life -- especially Azalea, the heroine. Though she is literally a fairy tale princess, she feels like a real girl with real problems, and she faces them head-on.

The driving force of the story is the girls' troubled relationship with their father, the King. The family has their difficulties -- and big ones, at that -- but they evolve believably as a unit. It is refreshing to see a parent-child relationship develop and grow, rather than stagnate or be pushed aside. Though many YA novels feature absent (literally or emotionally) parents, the King was a significant presence and complex character, with a charm and charisma all his own.

Speaking of charm and charisma -- one cannot forget Lord Bradford. Bradford is quite possibly the most huggable hero ever written. The poor fellow is always slightly rumpled -- hair mussed, clothes askew. He fits perfectly in this quaint fairy tale fantasy. The romance that develops between him and the Princess Royale is endearing -- worthy of a "happily ever after." There's no love-at-first-sight, and the way Dixon sets up their relationship is cleverly plotted to avoid some dangerous waters that could undermine their love.

This novel is cute and quirky, full of the absurd yet spirited situations one might expect in a fairy tale. A few plot elements were predictable, but it in no way lessened the joy of reading this novel. Entwined will sweep readers off their feet, straight into a world of fairy princesses and haunted castles, where everything may not be quite what it seems.

Rating: 

Disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this novel from the publisher. This did not influence my review in any way.

This novel hits shelves today! Click here to purchase Entwined by Heather Dixon.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Cornucopia of Dystopia: Weekly Wrap-up #1




The first week of A Cornucopia of Dystopia has flown by in a whirlwind of fun posts! In case you missed anything, here's what happened this week:


Reviews:

The Bookish Type Review of MEMENTO NORA by Angie Smibert
I Swim For Oceans Review of AWAKEN by Katie Kacvinsky
The Book Worms Review of XVI Julia Karr
A Writer’s Review Review of BUMPED by Megan McCafferty
Musings of a YA Reader Review of MEMENTO NORA by Angie Smibert
Books in the Spotlight Review of DELIRIUM by Lauren Oliver
Supernatural Snark Review of POSSESSION by Elana Johnson
Reading Teen Review of WITHER by Lauren DeStefano
Down the Rabbit Hole Review of BUMPED by Megan McCafferty
Books in the Spotlight Review of DARK PARTIES by Sara Grant
Midnight Bloom Reads Review of AWAKEN by Katie Kacvinsky
The Bookish Type Review of DELIRIUM by Lauren Oliver


Interviews:

Books Are A Girl's Best Friend Interview with Megan McCafferty (BUMPED)
The Bookish Type Interview with Angie Smibert (MEMENTO NORA)
I Swim For Oceans Interview with Katie Kacvinsky (AWAKEN)
The Book Worms Interview with Julia Karr (XVI)
Musings of a YA Reader Interview with Angie Smibert (MEMENTO NORA)
Down the Rabbit Hole Interview with Megan McCafferty (BUMPED)
Supernatural Snark Interview with Elana Johnson (POSSESSION)
Musings of a YA Reader Interview with Katie Kacvinsky (AWAKEN)
Books, Sweets and Other Treats Interview with Julia Karr (XVI)


Giveaways:

Loud Words & Sounds – AWAKEN Cover Redesign Contest
I Swim For Oceans – AWAKEN by Katie Kacvinsky
Musings of a YA Reader – MEMENTO NORA by Angie Smibert
Down the Rabbit Hole – XVI Cover Redesign Contest
Midnight Bloom Reads – AWAKEN by Katie Kacvinsky


Other:

A Tapestry of Words DARK PARTIES Playlist


Stay tuned this week for more reviews, interviews and giveaways!

Guest Post: The Making of the Through Her Eyes Book Trailer (& Giveaway)




A note from Jennifer:

I was so excited when Casey asked me to guest post on her wonderful blog about the making of the book trailer for Through Her Eyes, my debut novel for teens. Although I have previously written several novels for adults, this was my first experience collaborating on a book trailer. I found the process to be fun and exciting, as well as a wonderful new creative challenge. It was so surreal seeing certain elements in the story come alive through graphics, motion and sound. Emily Greaser, the talented motion design artist who worked with me to develop the trailer, did an amazing job of capturing my vision and the tone of the novel. Working with her on the project was a wonderful experience, and I look forward to collaborating with her on the design of more trailers for my future books. Since Emily can explain better than I the creative progression she went through in order to arrive at the beautiful and eerie finished product, I asked her if she would share her process with us, and she graciously agreed! So without further ado . . . here’s Emily!




Thank you for this opportunity to speak to your readers about my work! As a motion designer, book trailers provide me the perfect opportunity to utilize my design skills, and to jump right into visual storytelling by combining beautiful graphics, typography, photography, and live footage. When Jennifer and I first discussed the possibilities of creating a trailer for Through Her Eyes, the ideas I had were electric. The main character, Tansy, exists on the brink of two different worlds. I was intrigued by the challenge of visually communicating a mood of tension, along with an edgy and exciting aesthetic for readers.

I began the process by asking Jennifer to send me a rough script of the content she wanted to communicate to the audience. From there, I jumped straight into the “visual concept phase” of the design process. A large part of this phase involves researching and sorting through stock photos and footage, as well as my own media libraries... and then mentally absorbing the material in order to establish a visual direction.

From there, I brainstormed and storyboarded my ideas in order to pitch them to Jennifer. We exchanged thoughts and ideas about the storyboards, and discussed budget in order to know how much stock materials the project could afford. We eventually chose a direction based on some of the thematic elements, including text on a page, photography, crystal pendants, and the contrast between color and black & white. We also decided that the technical approach would be based on still photos combined with typography.

Next came one of my favorite and challenging parts of the design process... the sound design. Fortunately for this project, I was able to find the perfect audio track. This is one of my favorite parts of the process because the audio is so key in inspiring and driving a project. However, often times it's not so easy to find (or afford) the ideal audio solution, and in those cases, I choose to hire a sound designer to join the collaboration and to create the perfect audio track.

During the animating and editing phase, Jennifer and I were able to consistently communicate back and forth in order to reach a successful solution. I would create a draft, we would talk about revisions, and then I would reply with a next draft. This is another part of the process that I really enjoy, because it is true collaboration... two professionals feeding off of each other's creative energy. Also, in my experience, working with authors usually results in smooth teamwork due to the fact that our creative processes are very similar.

The experience of working with Jennifer was extremely positive and professional, and I look forward to more collaboration within the realm of book trailers. We are both very proud of the finished trailer for Through Her Eyes and think it captures beautifully the tone and subject matter of the book. I hope you enjoy it! -Emily Greaser

After earning a BFA in graphic design at Montana State University, Emily Greaser completed her education at Vancouver Film School in British Columbia, Canada. Since then, she has spent time traveling and gaining experience through a variety of freelance projects, spanning from Seattle, Washington all the way to Sydney, Australia. Significant projects include: Book trailers for award-winning author Jennifer Archer and NY Times Bestselling author Linda Castillo, a series of logo animations for K2 Skis, and a series of visual effects composite shots for a feature film produced in Australia. Emily currently resides in New York City, and can be contacted through her website www.emly.net


For more about Through Her Eyes author Jennifer Archer, please visit:


Jennifer is also hosting a HUGE contest over at her site:

Enter Jennifer's Gargantuan Giveaway by April 4. 
Prizes include Kindles, iPods & more!



Signed ARC Giveaway


Coming April 5, 2011!

Sixteen-year-old Tansy Piper moves with her grandfather and her mother, a horror writer, to the setting of her mother's next book--a secluded house outside of a tiny, desolate West Texas town. Lonely and upset over the move, Tansy escapes into her photography and the dark, seductive poems she finds hidden in the cellar, both of which lure her into the mind and world of a mysterious, troubled young man who died sixty years earlier.

Thanks to Jennifer, I am able to give away a SIGNED ARC of her debut YA novel Through Her Eyes!

To Enter:
  • Leave a thoughtful comment about Emily's discussion of trailer-making. (UPDATED 3/28 at 10:25 am EST: Unless you've already commented, things like "the trailer is great" do not count as thoughtful. By "thoughtful" I mean prove to me you actually read the post.)
  • Include your email address so I can contact you if you win.
  • US/Canada Only
  • Ends 4/6/11 at 11:59 pm EST
  • Winner chosen via Random.org

Good luck! Thanks to Jennifer Archer, Emily Greaser and Teen Book Scene Tours for this guest post and giveaway!

Come back April 6 for my review of Through Her Eyes!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

New Release Roundup: March 27 - April 2, 2011

A weekly feature I started to showcase the exciting new releases hitting shelves this week.


March 29


Born at Midnight by C. C. Hunter

Don’t miss this spectacular new series that will steal your heart and haunt your dreams, Welcome to Shadow Falls camp, nestled deep in the woods of a town called Fallen…

One night Kylie Galen finds herself at the wrong party, with the wrong people, and it changes her life forever. Her mother ships her off to Shadow Falls—a camp for troubled teens, and within hours of arriving, it becomes painfully clear that her fellow campers aren’t just “troubled.” Here at Shadow Falls, vampires, werewolves, shapshifters, witches and fairies train side by side—learning to harness their powers, control their magic and live in the normal world.

Kylie’s never felt normal, but surely she doesn’t belong here with a bunch of paranormal freaks either. Or does she? They insist Kylie is one of them, and that she was brought here for a reason. As if life wasn’t complicated enough, enter Derek and Lucas. Derek’s a half-fae who’s determined to be her boyfriend, and Lucas is a smokin’ hot werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past. Both Derek and Lucas couldn’t be more different, but they both have a powerful hold on her heart.

Even though Kylie feels deeply uncertain about everything, one thing is becoming painfully clear—Shadow Falls is exactly where she belongs…


Lover Unleashed (Black Dagger Brotherhood #9) by J.R. Ward

Payne, twin sister of Vishous, is cut from the same dark, warrior cloth as her brother: A fighter by nature, and a maverick when it comes to the traditional role of Chosen females, there is no place for her on the Far Side… and no role for her on the front lines of the war, either.

When she suffers a paralyzing injury, human surgeon Dr. Manuel Manello is called in to treat her as only he can- and he soon gets sucked into her dangerous, secret world. Although he never before believed in things that go bump in the night- like vampires- he finds himself more than willing to be seduced by the powerful female who marks both his body and his soul.

As the two find so much more than an erotic connection, the human and vampire worlds collide … just as a centuries old score catches up with Payne and puts both her love and her life in deadly jeopardy.


Entwined by Heather Dixon

Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it.

The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.

But there is a cost.

The Keeper likes to keep things.

Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.


March 31


Karma by Cathy Ostlere

On October 31, 1984, Indira Gandhi is gunned down by two Sikh bodyguards. The murder sparks riots in Delhi and for three days Sikh families are targeted and killed in retribution for the Prime Minister’s death. It is into this chaos that sixteen-year-old Maya and her Sikh father, Amar, arrive from their home in Canada. India’s political instability is the backdrop and catalyst for Maya’s awakening to the world. KARMA is the story of how a young woman, straddling two cultures and enduring personal loss, learns forgiveness, acceptance and love.


April 1


Almost True (When I Was Joe #2) by Keren David

Ty and his mum think they are safe at last after the witness protection programme moves them and Ty becomes Jake instead of Joe. But a horrific attack and the death of a close friend prove otherwise. Ty's family decide that they have had enough of incompetent police protection and his aunt takes him to hide with the grandparents he's never met, his long absent father's family. There he slowly learns the truth about his own family and meets his feckless father.

But Ty can't forget Claire, the girl he met while he was Joe, and eventually he escapes to meet her while she is on a class trip. But Claire has changed and Ty's identity becomes more and more exposed. This brilliant exploration of teen identity is shot through with drama and suspense, keeping readers on the edge of their seat from start to finish.


Ghost Messages by Jacqueline Guest

Ailish O'Conner supports herself and father with her fortunetelling skills Their gypsy caravan travels from one Irish place to another looking for the crowds in which to earn their living. In Ireland in 1865, the place to be is on the west coast, as people gather to launch the largest ship ever built, the Great Eastern. Its mission is to lay the first undersea telegraph cable right across the Atlantic ocean, to Newfoundland.

Ailish's father thinks he has their future secured with a solid-gold horse that has come into his possession, but when the figure is stolen, 13-year-old Ailish pursues the thief and winds up trapped on the Great Eastern as it sails! She pretends to be a cabin boy to prevent the harsh treatment of a stowaway. On the journey, she gets help from another young boy, Davy, who seems to live below decks, makes friends with an Irish sailor and tries to track down the hiding place of their precious horse.

The crew must battle the seas and the mishaps of their cable-laying mission, some of which would appear to be sabotage. Through many adventures, Davy is her constant companion. But why won't he ever come topside?

Can Ailish use her wits, her determination and her friendships to survive the trip let alone save the day? With her trademark storytelling skills with both history and action, Jacqueline Guest has fashioned a nail-biter of a seafaring adventure.


I just read Entwined and Born at Midnight this weekend, so I'll be reviewing them this week. I'll tell you now that Entwined was amazing! I know a lot of people will be quite excited for the latest Black Dagger Brotherhood book! I really need to read that series. I'm intrigued by Ghost Messages too -- it reminds me of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, which I remember reading back in elementary school (I suddenly feel old...).

What new release are you most excited for this week?

A Cornucopia of Dystopia: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Lena has had more than enough pain in her young life. After her father was arrested and her mother committed suicide -- all for love -- Lena became an outsider in her society, where love is a disease and only the cured are safe. Though love is in her genes, Lena prays the cure will secure her the simple, pain-free future she's always wanted. Unfortunately, fate has different plans. Just months before Lena loses the ability to love forever, she meets the mysterious and unusual Alex -- and falls head over heels.

In Delirium, Lauren Oliver constructs a layered and intricate world that will unnerve readers with its similarities to our own. At first, Lena's desire for the cure and investment in society seem superficial, but as the novel progresses readers learn more about her haunted past and come to appreciate the burdens that weigh so heavily on her mind. The relationship that blossoms between Lena and Alex is truly the highlight of the novel, capturing the sweetness and novelty of first love while blending it with a strange air of illicitness. The chemistry between them jumps off the page and makes the reader believe in their bond. Lena's butterflies and confused emotions are utterly realistic, crystallizing the universal experience of young love, when every feeling is overwhelming and foreign. Thankfully, Oliver does not spoil its simple purity in this loveless society by introducing a love triangle into the mix.

Lena's world is brought to life with beautiful imagery, though at times the descriptive metaphors seem a little heavy-handed and distract from the narrative. As the novel progresses, the horrors of a "cured" society become increasingly apparent, though they are initially hidden beneath the ordered surface. Oliver brilliantly constructs her story to draw readers into Lena's mind: the deliria at first seems bizarrely believable, but readers will slowly discover the devastating cost of the cure alongside Lena -- making her journey all the more visceral and thought-provoking. The emotions of this novel become increasingly gut-wrenching as the story propels towards its heart-stopping conclusion -- providing one of the most adrenaline-fueled endings I have ever read.

Rating: 

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this novel from NetGalley. This did not affect my review in any way.

Click here to purchase Delirium by Lauren Oliver.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

In My Mailbox: March 21 - 27, 2011

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.


Review:


The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale by Christine Bell

Thanks to Carina Press and NetGalley!

I'm a time pirate—born in 1810, now a 21st-century woman. I travel through time trying to right wrongs without disrupting the fragile balance between what is and what can never be.

That's why it's vital that I go to 1836 and find the man who conned my brother out of his Time Travel Mechanism as quickly as possible. If the technology falls into the wrong hands, it could change the world as we know it. The notorious Duke of Leister definitely qualifies as the wrong hands. An amateur scientist of the slightly mad variety, he's bound to figure out how to use the TTM sooner rather than later.

I knew this wouldn't be easy. But I wasn't counting on him being as sexy as hell. Or winding up chained to his bed…


Bite Me by Parker Blue

Thanks to Belle Bridge Books and NetGalley!

An edgy book for teens that spans the gap between YA and adult fiction. Life after high school is tough enough without having to go 15 rounds with your inner demon. Val Shapiro is just your ordinary, part-demon, teenaged vampire hunter with a Texas drawl. And a pet hellhound named Fang. Soon enough she finds herself deep in the underbelly of the city, discovering the secrets of the Demon Underground and fighting to save those she loves. Whether they love her back or not.


The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

Thanks to Harlequin Teen and NetGalley!
Coming May 24, 2011!

She thought there was something wrong with her. She was right.
Finley Jayne has known for quite some time that she isn’t ‘normal,’ but when she beats up the son of her employer and is forced to flee, she stumbles into a world where there are bigger freaks than her. They take her in, treat her like family and demand her trust. How can Finley trust them when she can’t trust herself? And why is she drawn to the powerful Griffin as well as the dangerous Jack? She has to get herself under control before she gets into trouble she can’t get out of.

Griffin King is one of the most powerful men in Britain but he couldn’t save his best friend from almost dying. He is determined to save Finley and help her become the person he knows she can be, but there’s evil afoot in London. Machines have attacked humans under the orders of a nefarious criminal called The Machinist. He has sworn to protect his country against such a threat, but he’s never faced any foe like this. However, when he discovers The Machinist’s connection to his past, Griffin vows to end the villain once and for all — but he’ll need the help of all his friends, including the beautiful Finley Jayne – the girl in the steel corset.


In the Arms of Stone Angels by Jordan Dane

Thanks to Harlequin Teen and NetGalley!

Two years ago I did a terrible thing. I accused my best friend of being a killer after seeing him kneeling over a girl's body. That moment and that outcast boy still haunt me.

Now my mom is forcing me back to Oklahoma and I can't get White Bird out of my mind. But when I find out he's not in juvie—that he's in a mental hospital, locked in his tormented brain at the worst moment of his life—I can't turn my back on him again.

No one wants me to see him. My mom doesn't trust me. The town sheriff still thinks I was involved in the murder. And the other kids who knew the dead girl are after me.

I'm as trapped as White Bird. And when I touch him, I get sucked into his living hell, a vision quest of horrifying demons and illusions of that night. Everything about him scares me now, but I have to do something. This time I can't be a coward. This time I have to be his friend.

Even if I get lost, as well…


Bought:


Fallen from Grace: A Bonus Dark Mirror Short Story by M. J. Putney

Allarde, a gorgeous, wealthy noble has hidden his true nature. Discover his diary and witness his sudden fall from grace.




Turned at Dark: A Bonus Shadow Falls Short Story by C. C. Hunter

Independent and strong-willed Della Tsang hadn’t believed in ghosts until she saw her dead cousin darting into the shadows of an alley. She hadn’t believed in vampires until in the dark of that same night she is turned into one. Introduced to a strange world of supernaturals, she struggles to accept this new reality. Unfortunately, the boy she loves senses something different about her and can’t accept her. Should she follow her vampire cousin’s lead–walk away from everything she’s knows and loves—and fake her own death? Or should she set her pride aside and ask for help from the camp leader of Shadow Falls—a camp where supernaturals go to learn how to cope with their powers. Either way, her life as she knows it, will never be the same.


Girl Parts by John Cusick

What happens when a robot designed to be a boy’s ideal “companion” develops a will of her own? A compulsively readable novel from a new talent.

David and Charlie are opposites. David has a million friends, online and off. Charlie is a soulful outsider, off the grid completely. But neither feels close to anybody. When David’s parents present him with a hot Companion bot designed to encourage healthy bonds and treat his “dissociative disorder,” he can’t get enough of luscious redheaded Rose — and he can’t get it soon. Companions come with strict intimacy protocols, and whenever he tries anything, David gets an electric shock. Parted from the boy she was built to love, Rose turns to Charlie, who finds he can open up, knowing Rose isn’t real. With Charlie’s help, the ideal “companion” is about to become her own best friend. In a stunning and hilarious debut, John Cusick takes rollicking aim at internet culture and our craving for meaningful connection in an uberconnected world.


Fallen from Grace and Turned at Dark are both free short stories available for download from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and Girl Parts is a $1.99 ebook at Kobo! I'm pretty excited for The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale -- how awesome is that title? And that synopsis is pretty memorable, no?

What's in your mailbox this week?

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