Saturday, January 30, 2010

In My Mailbox 17

IMM is presented weekly by The Story Siren.

For Review:
My Ridculous Romantic Obsessions by Becca Wilhite
O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell

That's it for this week! Hope everyone had a great weekend, and has a great week!

- Lea

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Explorer X - Alpha by L.M. Preston Review

Author: L.M. Preston
Type: Middle Grade
Pages: 368
Copy Provided by: Author
Summary (from Goodreads):
For most kids, a trip to space camp is the trip of a lifetime, for Aadi it was life altering. After receiving a camp immunization needed for travel to Mars, Aadi finds that the immunization is the catalyst of an insidious experiment. He realizes what is happening too late for a change of fate. The full experiment is set in motion when he and his co-pilot, Eirena, crash in a distant galaxy called Shrenas, where they change and realize the full extent of their power. This turn of events forces him to grow up quickly, accept his change, and to decide to save a world, or to do what he was trained to do, dominate it. His power is coveted by the warring leaders of Shrenas, and he is forced to choose sides, a decision that may prove just how much humanity he has left.

Review: Explorer X - Alpha was a fun adventure, but it had it's flaws.

The characters are strong and brave, but not all of them are (which I found to be a relief, and quite humorous at points). At first, I was a bit put off by Aadi, but soon grew to enjoy his character (and adore Ebu!), but I found myself really wanting to know more about a few other characters, like Tacitus. Eirena and Raiko were awesome female characters, although I preferred Raiko over Eirena, because I found Eirena's attitude to be insufferable.

Once the real action starts, the story grasped me and drew me in. In the end, I was pleased with what we found out, but left curious about a few more things (which is good, considering this is only the first novel). I wish I could say more, but then I would be spoiling the plot!

Highlights: Once the reader finally learns the secrets regarding this space camp, the story seems to really kick into action. Plus, by that time, I really was enjoying the characters. The action was addictive, and I loved how even the girls could totally kick butt. I love the world L.M. created, but I want to see more.

Lowlights: The worst part to the novel would have to be it's dialog. At times, it felt odd, and the characters only sounded like the children they were when they were insulting each other. The author rarely used contractions (instead choosing to say "I did not" instead of the simpler, more child-like "I didn't"), and so at times I found it a bit awkward. Even the narrative seemed a bit stiff at times. 



Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Guest Post: LM Preston

Today I have debut author L.M. Preston, author of Explorer X - Alpha (a sci-fi MG novel) here to take over. So without further ado, I give you L.M. Preston:

When I sit down to write my novels from a teenaged perspective, I have a lot of material to pull from. I was called all sorts of names, teased, and jeered at. I wasn't the lowest on the totem pole, but I was somewhere near the bottom middle of the middle school pecking order. Yet, through these experiences I learned something about myself. I was a survivor and I was never a follower.

The kids in my neighborhood would spend tons of time making up games. One we played was truth or dare. Usually I wasn't invited to play because I was the youngest kid in the neighborhood. However, this particular time, they allowed me to play. It seemed like the best day of my life. I was going to play with the big kids, and no longer follow behind them. That day, I had arrived at the table with the big boys. Talk about the strut of acceptance, I was on cloud nine.

The game went on as usual. Dare's were made, secrets were told and the bottle was spinning. Finally, it was my turn. My moment, my acceptance, and then it came. The kid that had made the last spin, looked at me with a sneaky grin, and I knew immediately that I was doomed.

"I dare you to eat this beetle!" the kid said. I gulped. Then I compared the penalty for not going through with a challenge. The penalty was to let every kid spit in your face. The decision was difficult, the choices were both gross. However, I refused to be made to eat something that I didn't want. Something that was dead, big, black, squishy and downright disgusting. It had the ooze of entrails dried on each side of its gut. Yuck!

At that moment of recognition, I felt strong and fierce. Okay, no, really I was scared to death. However, I stood and said, "I renege on the dare!". There were gasps, snickers, and whispers. I held my ground, stuck out my chest and licked my lips. "You know what that means, don't ya?" the kid with the dead fat beetle snickered.
"Yeah, and I don't care!" I said, and swallowed as a tear ran from my eye. Man I was so angry. The other kids bustled to stand in line in front of me. Never before in our game of Truth or Dare had someone challenged their fate. I was the first, and they relished in the chance to demean me further.
There I stood, as each kid gathered as much saliva in their mouths as possible and spit in my face. My eyes closed as I felt the thick, cool, wet globs slide from my forehead, down my nose to my lips. I held back a gag.
Finally, it was over. My best friend, who was last in line did a fake spitting sound that held little or no power. Then she took out a tissue and wiped my face. "Why didn't you just do the dare?"
I opened my eyes and smiled at her, then said, "Cause I didn't want to."

I love to write about kids that go against expectations. Kids that, like me, were oddballs, imperfect, unpopular - yet strong. I was a lot of things, but no one (except my parents) had the ability to make me do something I didn't want. I had an inner stubbornness that just didn't let me concede. That attitude saved my life many times. If ever you don't want to follow your friends, dig deep, stand up, and be a leader.

In EXPLORER X - Alpha, Aadi does this even when he is not sure of the consequences. Staying true to yourself is the best thing you can ever do - for you!

Wow, thank you for the story and such an inspiring message L.M.! Click on the links to learn more about L.M. Preston or Explorer X - Alpha!


Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine.

Author: Carrie Ryan
Release Date: March 9th, 2010
Summary (from Goodreads):

Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She's content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry's mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry's generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother's past in order to save herself and the one she loves.

WOW! I so can't wait for this one!!


Monday, January 25, 2010

Blood Promise by Richelle Mead

Blood Promise (Vampire Academy #4)
by Richelle Mead
Pages: 503
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Bought
Summary (partial from inside jacket):
Bound by love, but sworn to kill...

Guardian Rose Hathaway's life will never be the same. The recent attack on St. Vladimir's Academy devastated the entire Moroi world. Many are dead. And, for the few victims carried off by Strigoi, their fates are even worse. A rare tattoo now adorns Rose's neck; a mark that says she's killed far too many Strigoi to count.

But only one victim matters...Dimitri Belikov. Rose must now choose one of two very different paths: honoring her life's vow to protect Lissa - her best friend and the last surviving Dragomir princess - or, dropping out of the Academy to strike out on her own and hunt down that man she loves. She'll have to go to the ends of the earth to find Dimitri and keep the promise he begged her to make. But the question is, when the time comes, will he want to be saved?
Thoughts: Blood Promise was exhilerating, shocking, and downright awesome. (I will try to keep this as spoiler free as possible, but if you haven't read the past books...then it's all pretty much a spoiler)

The novel starts a bit slow, with Mead going over details from past novels (which may actually make this novel the easiest one for newcomers to jump into, but I would still recommend reading the last three). Rose sets off in search of Dimitri, and I really have to say that it was these moments that were truly heartbreaking. Rose's pain and emotions were written well, and yet she was still strong, sassy Rose that I adore. And while there were plenty of sad moments, there were also humorous points where I couldn't help but to laugh.

Every time I read these novels, I always talk about Rose's growth in each one, and this one is no exception. She has her up moments, and her down moments, but she takes what she can from each and learns something. The other characters were still as amazing as before (except the reader doesn't see as much of the other characters as we used to).

Highlights: The emotions that this book makes the reader go through. It was heartbreaking to read. Mead took one of my favorite characters, Dimitri, and showed him to me in a way that just broke my heart right along with Rose's. The ending left me wishing there were more pages too! And as shocked as I am to say this, I actually think Adrian is...okay. (I know! How did that happen???)

Lowlights: The beginning felt like a long recap. Seeing as I've read the last three books, I thought that the recap was just wasting time. I felt like the story did not begin until Rose finally ended up in the right area for her search. I didn't think this novel matched up entirely to the others.

Rating: 4 out of 5   

My reviews in this series:
Vampire Academy
Frostbite (#2)
Shadow Kiss (#3)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain Review

Author: Bree Despain
Age: Young Adult
Pages: 372
Source: Myself/Bought
A Prodigal Son 

A Dangerous Love

A Deadly Secret

Grace Divine -- daughter of the local pastor -- always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared and her brother Jude came home covered in his own blood.

Now that Daniel's returned, Grace must choose between her growing attraction to him and her loyalty to her brother.

As Grace gets closer to Daniel, she learns the truth about that mysterious night and how to save the ones she loves, but it might cost her the one thing she cherishes most: her soul.
Review: Bree Despain's debut novel is stunning and mysterious.

The novel starts off quickly with some intrigue, as Daniel Kalbi comes back into town. I've never quite read a novel that hooked me by the third page, but The Dark Divine did just that. Despain's writing has an addictive quality to it, and she seemed to effortlessly pull everything together in just the right way, with just enough mystery to keep you guessing.

The characters are drawn up perfectly on the page. Grace is the good-girl daughter of the local pastor, and she was easy to relate to. Daniel had "bad boy" written all over him, but he's sweet down to the core. Daniel's secrets draw Grace closer to him, as she tries to unravel the mystery of what happened between Daniel and Jude, and just what is Daniel.

Highlights: Despain's writing is addictive, and I never wanted to put the book down for a single second. I was also always curious about just what would happen next, and the ending definitely satisfied me. I also really enjoyed that Grace's religion wasn't delved into too deeply, and instead the novel dealt more with her morals.

Lowlights: Grace's "best" friend. What's up with crappy best friends in YA lately?



Saturday, January 23, 2010

In My Mailbox 16

I.M.M. is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren (click the link for more info)!

This week was completely awesome, book wise. I was literally jumping with joy when I got these something extra!
For Review:
Molly Fyde and the Land of Light by Hugh Howey (signed to me, and with a little blurb about book 1 from myself and fellow awesome readers/bloggers on the back cover + inside!)
Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue T-shirt (Thank you Hugh! I'm totally wearing this to my classes on Monday!)
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (*happy*)

Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood by Eileen Cook (signed to me, which is totally awesome! Thank you Delightful Reviews and Eileen!)

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (okay, this was more of a bribe, but I was happy to accept it anyway because I want to read it!)

Hope everyone had a great week, a fabulous weekend, and that you all have a super-awesome week coming up!


Friday, January 22, 2010

Go Enter This Contest!

Jenn from Books At Midnight is having a contest to win Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers (which has been getting rave reviews).

Go enter here!

Good luck!


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Mark by Jen Nadol Review

Book: The Mark
Author: Jen Nadol
Age: Young Adult
Copy Provided By: Publisher
If you had the power to cheat death, would you?

Sixteen-year-old Cassie Renfield has always seen the mark--a light glow reminiscent of candlelight--but it's not until she follows a man to his death that she understands what it means. Cassie can see when a person is marked for death. She doesn't know how or where, only when: today.

When the mark appears on Cassie's grandmother, she tries and fails to change her fate. The mark seems utterly useless, but Cassie can't ignore it. Desperate for answers, she searches her memories, her summer philosophy course, even her new boyfriend, Lucas, for any clue that might explain her ability. When she convinces Lucas of her power, he encourages her to test fate each time the mark appears. Cassie's not entirely sure she should use the mark like this, but with each occurrence, she finds answers she needs--answers she never expected.
Review: When I finished reading this, I was indeed left asking myself, "If you had the power to cheat death, would you?"

It's an interesting premise, and Nadol took the story places I wasn't expecting. Cassie, our protagonist, is a very likable character. Even when she was doing something I didn't really like, I still liked her. I admired her, for dealing with this ability. To know when someones death is coming, it's just so sad to even think about. Cassie has her moments of pure terror and sadness for these people she sees. I could really feel Cassie's struggle with knowing what will happen, and the difficulty she faces in whether or not it's her obligation to tell them.

Highlights: I loved that in the end, everything didn't really work out cookie-cutter perfect. Mistakes were made, relationships fell apart, new one's were formed, and Cassie is left with quite a few questions of her own.

Lowlights: I felt like the first few chapters were not entirely necessary, and a little bummed that the summary gives away what's going to happen in those chapters. I found myself reading through them with caution, waiting for what would eventually happen. I also really disliked Cassie's boyfriend, and I just couldn't help but rolling my eyes whenever he'd pop onto the page...which is weird.

Also, I just felt like something was missing from the story....but I'm not quite sure what. Maybe I needed more in general, since the novel's so short? The ending seemed pretty open as well, and the story is definitely in need of a sequel. 



Monday, January 18, 2010

Murder at the Lake by Bren Gaudet Review

Author: Bren Gaudet
Age: 9-12/possibly YA?
When seventeen-year-old Amanda Christie is invited to a cousins-only weekend retreat at her aunt's estate in Austin, Texas, she doesn't know what to expect. But she soon finds that the weekend will be anything but boring. One of the guests is responsible for the death of Amanda's uncle, and when a dangerous storm traps the teens inside the secluded mansion, Amanda becomes determined to uncover the killer. But when their cell phones go missing and the guests begin to disappear, Amanda realizes that the killer isn't finished. With time running out and no way of knowing who to trust, she must either uncover the murderer...or risk being the next victim.
Review: Murder at the Lake's Amanda Christie definitely does have Nancy Drew-like qualities. At first, I found her a bit difficult to like, but then I grew to enjoy her character and her abilities for sleuthing. The beginning of the novel is a bit slow, until a few chapters in when the suspense picks up. One by one, the cousin's and their friends are picked off, and Amanda is out to find out who is behind everything before it's too late to save herself.

What I liked the most was that this was a clean novel (I only counted one cuss word, I believe). However, that was also what brought the realism down a bit. A group of kids ranging from 16-21, and only one cuss word? A little odd, but I got over it easily enough.

Highlights: Gaudet really had me caught in the pages once the mystery got going. I kept wondering who was next, who was the killer (which I guessed correctly! Yes!), and the end was still a partial surprise to me. Once Gaudet got to the mystery & suspense, I was happy to keep turning the pages.

Lowlights: In the beginning, I felt like the characters were a bit...drab, boring. The beginning felt a little off, compared to the rest of the novel. Yet, I have high hopes for the next one!



YA Book Queen is now on Facebook!

Hey everyone!

Just wanted to let you guys know that I created an account on Facebook so that I can get to know you all a bit better!

So come find me and friend me! (Unless I find you first!)

*If the link doesn't bring you to my account, try searching Lea-Ya Book Queen.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

In My Mailbox 15

IMM is hosted weekly by Kristi of The Story Siren.


The Dark Divine by Bree Despain (yay 33% off coupons! The cover is soooo much more gorgeous in person)

Trade w/ Zoe from Zoe's Book Reviews:

Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White (YAY!)

Won from Ellz Reads:

Fallen by Lauren Kate (Yay again!)

Hope everyone had an awesome week, and that you all have a great one again!