Monday, July 30, 2012

Review: The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse

The Forsaken
Lisa M. Stasse
July 10th, 2012
375 pages (hardcover)
S&S Books for Young Readers
Source - Author
"When the rest of world has given up on you, who will you become?

Alenna Shawcross hasn't seen her parents since they were dragged out of her house by government soldiers of the UNA, a new nation formed from the remnants of Canada, the USA, and Mexico. And now, as a sixteen-year-old orphan, she has failed a government personality test designed to diagnose subversive tendencies.

As punishment, Alenna is banished to the wheel, a mysterious island where all the kids who fail get sent. A place where teh conditions are brutal, and a civil war rages between two very different tribes of teenagers.

So when Alenna meets Liam, a charismatic warrior who is planning to escape, she must find the strength to make a difficult decision: to either accept her new life on the wheel, or to embark on a journey that will uncover shocking secrets about the UNA – and her own identity as well." 
"The journey has begun, and there's no stopping it." *

While the UNA is the epitome of the words corrupt and control, Island Alpha or the "wheel" is simply pandemonium. Teenagers who fail a government personality test are banished to the wheel, where some of teens (called drones) take a Lord of the Flies approach to the island and lose themselves to chaos. The drones maniacally worship a man who controls most of the island, called the Monk. Alenna, our narrator, escapes this fate and instead falls in with a more sensible group of teens that live in the last, and smallest, sector left uncontrolled by the Monk. There's no way off, and no way to know who to trust....On the wheel, there are more enemies than just each other, and tomorrow is never guaranteed. 

The Forsaken takes readers on an adventure full of twists and danger at every corner. Stasse's attention-getting prologue sets the stage for a fascinating story set in an unsettling futuristic world. This story took me by surprise in multiple ways, especially with the jaw-dropping twist near the end and how well this futuristic world is portrayed. There's more complexity and layers to The Forsaken than expected at first glance, and some insightful moments buried beneath the thrilling action and surprising revelations that take place throughout the story. Action, adventure, danger, excitement...welcome to the unpredictable world of The Forsaken

Highlights: Alenna could have been a victim of her circumstances and continued relying on others, but then she chose to rise to the challenge and became willing to take charge and fight. There's one plot twist that I never saw coming, which is a rarity for a reader like me1. I enjoyed many of the characters and their different personalities. The varying ways of life on the island and the social structures were fascinating, too. 

Lowlights: Liam and Alenna's relationship came a little too close to instalove - I could have forgiven this if the I had gotten to know Liam's character better. Dialogue sometimes came across a bit awkwardly in the beginning (after that, it either improved or I stopped noticing). 


* (Stasse 338)
1 Anyone who loves surprises will be in for a treat with this book.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Queen's Library (12)

For Review - Unsolicited
Venom by Fiona Paul
The Innocents by Lili Peloquin
Black City by Elizabeth Richards
Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes
Counting Backwards by Laura Lascarso

Freebies - Audiobooks
Cleopatra's Moon by Vicky Alvear Shector
Antony & Cleopatra by William Shakespeare

I have so much love for Penguin right now, especially since Venom and Falling Kingdoms were seriously high on my wishlist...and I was pleasantly surprised to find Counting Backwards in the mail too!

Thanks to Penguin Teen, S&S + Courtney S., and Sync! 

What did you get this week?



Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (86)

WoW is hosted by Breaking the Spine

March 3rd, 2013
The only thing worse than forgetting her remembering it.

When Freedom Airlines flight 121 went down over the Pacific Ocean, no one ever expected to find survivors. Which is why the sixteen-year-old girl discovered floating among the wreckage—alive—is making headlines across the globe.

Even more strange is that her body is miraculously unharmed and she has no memories of boarding the plane. She has no memories of her life before the crash. She has no memories period. No one knows how she survived. No one knows why she wasn’t on the passenger manifest. And no one can explain why her DNA and fingerprints can’t be found in a single database in the world.

Crippled by a world she doesn’t know, plagued by abilities she doesn’t understand, and haunted by a looming threat she can’t remember, Seraphina struggles to piece together her forgotten past and discover who she really is. But with every clue only comes more questions. And she’s running out of time to answer them.

Her only hope is a strangely alluring boy who claims to know her from before the crash. Who claims they were in love. But can she really trust him? And will he be able to protect her from the people who have been making her forget?
Sounds fascinating! I'm definitely curious about this one.

What are you waiting on?


Monday, July 23, 2012

Review: Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst

Sarah Beth Durst
September 13th, 2011
386 pages (hardcover)
Margaret K. McElderry
Source:  Author + Purchased (gave away review copy)
"Pearl is a sixteen-year-old vampire...fond of blood, allergic to sunlight, and mostly evil...until the night a sparkly unicorn stabs her through the heart with his horn. Oops.

Her family thinks she was attacked by a vampire hunter (because, obviously, unicorns don't exist), and they're shocked she survived. They're even more shocked when Pearl discovers she can now withstand the sun. But they quickly find a way to make use of her new talent. The Vampire King of New England has chosen Pearl's family to host his feast. If Pearl enrolls in high school, she can make lots of human friends and lure them to the King's feast -- as the entrees.

The only problem? Pearl's starting to feel the twinges of a conscience. How can she serve up her new friends—especially the cute guy who makes her fangs ache—to be slaughtered? Then again, she's definitely dead if she lets down her family. What's a sunlight-loving vamp to do?"
Being stabbed by a mythical unicorn is just the beginning of Pearl's problems. After the unpleasant stabbing incident, she gains the ability to venture out into the sunlight unharmed. So, when it's up to Pearl to please her vampire Family by figuring out a way to serve up the local high school students as entrees at the Fealty Ceremony, things quickly go from easy to catastrophe as Pearl starts having a change of heart. But when it comes to the Family, you don't say "no" and get away without any consequences.

Within the first two chapters, Durst made me a fan of her tough, zero-mercy vampires. Durst's vampires are fierce and only loyal to one another to a certain extent. No matter any kindness they show, they still wear a sharp edge of cruelty wrapped firmly around their shoulders, which made for a very fascinating story as Pearl began to change and veer away from her Family's ways. For Pearl, betrayal is imminent: betraying her family or the humans she starting to relate with. All in all, Drink, Slay, Love is humorous, exciting, and full of surprises. It is so much more than your typical vampire story. 

Highlights: The lore is nicely explained. Pearl's slow transformation from a courageous, cruel vampire to a little more caring was believable and engaging. The characters1 made this book spectacular, especially Pearl. Whether it was Pearl's first day of school or her intense interactions with her scary Family, I enjoyed it all. Sharp and witty humor, great fight scenes, fabulous description, a budding romance, excellent characters, unicorns and plenty of bloodthirsty vampires -- what's not to love? Drink, Slay, Love is simply extraordinary.

Lowlights: Jadrien (both him and his name). Evan was almost too nice and too perfect. There were a couple predictable moments, and while the ending wrapped up everything important, it did leave me with one lingering question.


1 Zeke and Matt - love those two! I wish they'd had more page-time

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Queen's Library (11)

The ebook deal for Matched was too good to resist, despite the fact that I own the hardcover. Thanks so much to Penguin Teen for the surprise book & to Lisa M. Stasse for the lovely review copy of The Forsaken! 

My Life Next Door
by Huntley Fitzpatrick

What did you get this week?


Credit / Inspiration

Friday, July 20, 2012

COVERS: Spirit, Clockwork, Hysteria and more

Spirit and Dust                                     Dead River

I love the font for Spirit and Dust, it looks amazing. Dead River is very kind of freaks me out, to be honest ;)

      Panic                                              White Lines

Ouch. Poor little blue butterfly. Not sure if I like the White Lines cover - I don't mind a black and white photo, but I hate it when font looks like it's just been slapped onto the cover.

Clockwork Princess                                 Spellcaster     

I'm rarely a fan of obviously multi-layered images, but I always seem to be a fan of Clare's covers. I love the glowing effect, it looks great. Spellcaster looks good, but I feel like I've seen a similar cover...

Broken                                          Hysteria

I really like how they integrated the title font for Broken. I'm not really feeling the Hysteria cover, though.

What are your thoughts? Seen any great covers lately?


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (85)

WOW is hosted by Breaking the Spine

October 30th, 2012
St. Martin's Griffin
"In a post-apocalyptic world controlled by alien invaders, two teens and a young girl with mysterious powers embark on a dangerous journey. What they find will change everything...

Earth has been conquered. An extraterrestrial race known as The Assembly has abducted the adult population, leaving the planet's youth to fend for themselves. In this treacherous landscape, Holt, a bounty hunter, is transporting his prisoner Mira when they discover Zoey, a young girl with powerful abilities who could be the key to stopping The Assembly. As they make their way to the cavernous metropolis of Midnight City, the trio must contend with freedom fighters, mutants, otherworldly artifacts, pirates, feuding alien armies, and perhaps most perilous of all: Holt and Mira's growing attraction to each other."
Nice cover, good summary, alien invaders....I'm intrigued.

Plus, this book has apparently inspired some great artwork (click here, here and here to see the artwork on the author's blog). 

What are you waiting on this week? 


Monday, July 16, 2012

Review: Never Enough by Denise Jaden

Never Enough
Denise Jaden
July 10th 2012
400 pages (paperback)
Simon Pulse
Source - Publisher (unsolicited)
"Loann’s always wanted to be popular and pretty like her sister, Claire. So when Claire’s ex-boyfriend starts flirting with her, Loann is willing to do whatever it takes to feel special… even if that means betraying her sister.

But as Loann slips inside Claire’s world, she discovers that everything is not as it seems. Claire’s quest for perfection is all-consuming, and comes at a dangerous price. As Claire increasingly withdraws from friends and family, Loann struggles to understand her and make amends. Can she heal their relationship —and her sister—before it’s too late?"
"Nothing is ever perfect....Beauty isn't perfect. It's something 
to be felt and something to be breathed." * 

Claire has it all — beauty, talent, a great figure, and Josh Garrison. Our narrator Loann, however, has a short stature, an ample amount of curves, and a mysterious yet amusing locker neighbor named Marcus. But the next moment, Loann's oridinary life begins to change completely as her sister Claire spirals out of control with her self-image and destructive eating habits. There's nothing worse than trying to help someone when you're rendered incapable of doing so, and Jaden captures this dilemma and portrays it honestly through Loann as she watches her sister's perfect life crumble to pieces. 

Never Enough draws you in with tender moments and breaks your heart with the harsh reality of the price beauty and "perfection" demand. There are plenty of other interesting character interactions, but it is the moments between these two sisters that made the most genuine and memorable impact. Never Enough is a story with multiple varieties of issues and can feel a bit busy sometimes, and yet this story remains realistic and touching. While I did enjoy Denise Jaden's first novel Losing Faith much more,  Never Enough is a strong sophomore effort that's worth reading. 

Highlights: Claire and Loann's complicated sisterly relationship is sure to be something readers with siblings will relate to. The ups and downs of their relationship felt very real and I wish they had interacted more in this story. I very much enjoyed Marcus and Loann's slow friendship. Jaden's characters always seemed authentic because they have positive and negative traits that serve to make them more realistic. It was interesting to watch Loann grow throughout the story.  

Lowlights: Loann could be a bit naive. It took awhile to get to the main plot. A few subplots could have been cut to give this story more focus. There wasn't enough time to stretch out and fully resolve the extra subplots1, so they made the story weaker (and almost resulted in a much lower rating).


* pg. 371
1 This footnote is a long spoiler that can be found on my Goodreads review of Never Enough.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Queen's Library (10)

Purchased for Kindle
Possess by Gretchen McNeil 

Free Audiobooks
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (my review)

These Kindle deals are too good (and too tempting) lately...Thanks to Sync for the audiobooks! 

What did you get this week? 


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (84) (times two!)

WOW is hosted by Breaking the Spine

The Murmurings by Carly Anne West
March 5th, 2013
Simon Pulse
"After her older sister dies from an apparent suicide and her body is found hanging upside down by one toe from a tree, sixteen-year-old Sophie starts to hear the same voices that drove her sister to a psychotic break."
Not much info so far, but it does sound pretty intriguing. 
Can't wait to see a full summary...

Requiem (Delirium #3) by Lauren Oliver
March 5th, 2013
"Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight. Of Pandemonium, ALA Booklist noted that 'like all successful second volumes, this expands the world and ups the stakes, setting us up for the big finale.'

After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancée of the young mayor. Requiem is told from both Lena’s and Hana’s points of view. The two girls live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge."
I am so excited for this book! The ending to Pandemonium was such torture and I can't wait to see what happens next. Plus, having Hana's POV along with Lena's should be interesting!

What are you waiting on?