Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Queen's Library (28)

RISE by Anna Carey (hardcover, unsolicited)
BLOODLINES by Richelle Mead (Kindle, gifted)
WOOL by Hugh Howey (paperback, birthday gift)
HOPELESS by Colleen Hoover (Kindle, purchased)
TORCHED by Andrea Lynn Colt (Kindle, purchased)
REQUIEM by Lauren Oliver (hardcover, birthday gift)
ELLA ENCHANTED by Gail Carson Levine (Kindle, gifted)
UNBREAK MY HEART by Melissa Walker (Kindle, purchased)

Thanks to my family for the gifts and HarperTeen for the surprise review copy of RISE! I'm definitely curious to see how that trilogy ends.

The feature is inspired by Pop Culture Junkie's This Week In Books and The Story Siren's In My Mailbox. The Queen's Library is a way for me to feature books that I add to my bookshelves and a place to post my weekly recommendations. This is not a new meme, but merely an adjusted feature that is better suited to my blog and needs.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mini-Review: THE CROWN OF EMBERS by Rae Carson

Author: Rae Carson
Published: September 18th, 2012
Series: Girl of Fire & Thorns (#2)
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Pages: 410
Format: Kindle book; hardcover
Source: Purchased both
"In the sequel to the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns, a seventeen-year-old princess turned war queen faces sorcery, adventure, untold power, and romance as she fulfills her epic destiny.

Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone's power. That is not all she finds. A breathtaking, romantic, and dangerous second volume in the Fire and Thorns trilogy."

Incredible, exciting, surprising, and captivating: THE CROWN OF EMBERS is everything a sequel should aspire to be. Authors should take note of Carson's approach, because sequels (unfortunately) tend to be underwhelming in the YA universe. Carson, however, takes charge of her story by creating an exciting and sometimes terrifying story that makes it impossible for readers to stop turning the pages. Elisa may be queen, and a hero because of her actions in the first novel, but she's far from beloved and safe in this sequel. For Elisa, her story has only just begun. I will keep this review spoiler-free, because this is one story you will want to read for yourself. Just when you think you've figured out everything, Carson pulls a few more tricks out of her sleeve. THE CROWN OF EMBERS proves itself to be more than expected - it's a thrilling fantasy adventure with the perfect dose of romance and humor. 

Highlights: I thought Elisa went through a large amount of character growth in the first book, but she really goes through so much more in this sequel. The stakes are higher, the danger more imminent, and Elisa is coming to terms with becoming the queen she wants to be and the queen her kingdom needs. Everything about this novel is entrancing and exciting - I hardly set this book down once I started reading. Plus, this book was so fabulous that I purchased it again so I could own it as a hardcover (I do not do this very often). And the romance1! Also, side characters (such as Belen) develop more in the this story.  

Lowlights: The not-so-happy ending. And the wait for book three is frustrating, too. 

Cover: I've never been overly fond of the covers for this trilogy, but in person, they look so much better (especially this one, it is gorgeous in real life). I love how the title pops with the gold - it looks amazing when it catches the light.

[1] FINALLY. I'm very fond of Elisa's romantic interest in this novel.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Taking The Week Off

I have a crazy-busy schedule for this week, so I will be taking this week off the blog in order to finish everything I need to for my classes. See you all next week (and I hope everyone has a fabulous week)!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (105)

February 4th, 2014
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 loves, but for the future of her planet.

Sounds like a fun book! I love the colors in the cover, and the opposite-settings meeting in the middle. 
September 3rd, 2013
"Now that Leah Kurtz has a place to call home, there’s no way she can tell the truth.

That her name is Faith, not Leah.

That she’s seventeen, not nineteen.

That the baby isn’t hers—she kidnapped her.

She had to kidnap Addy though. She couldn’t let her newborn sister grow up like she did, with parties where the drugs flow all night and an empty refrigerator in the kitchen holding nothing but pickle juice and ketchup packets inside.

She can’t risk losing Chris—the only guy she’s ever given herself to completely—by telling him she’s been lying. He’s the most generous person she’s ever known, and he’s already suffered the tragic deaths of his mom and infant sister.

But being on the run with a newborn catches up with her when a cop starts asking questions, and Chris’s aunt finds a newspaper article about Faith and a missing baby. Faith knows it’s time to run again—from Chris and the only place that’s ever felt like home."
This one seems like it could be an interesting contemporary. I love the scenery and warm colors in the cover - I just wish there weren't so many faces!

What are you waiting on this week? 


Monday, March 11, 2013

Mini-Review: FALLING KINGDOMS by Morgan Rhodes

Author: Morgan Rhodes (aka, Michelle Rowen)
Series: Falling Kingdoms #1
Published: December 11th, 2012
Pages: 412
POV: 3rd (alternating)
Publisher: Razorbill
Format: Advanced Readers Copy
Source: Unsolicited from Publisher
"In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power--brutally transforming their subjects' lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:

Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.

Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished--and finds himself the leader of a people's revolution centuries in the making.

Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past--and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword...

The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?"
I had such high hopes for FALLING KINGDOMS after reading the summary, but it ended up falling short of my expectations. This was not a terrible story, because it was highly entertaining and completely capable of capturing and holding my attention. However, the main characters were utterly unlikable, bland, and clichéd. Whenever they were in danger, I could not summon any sympathy or concern for them, let alone enjoy their successes. Fortunately, the world these underwhelming characters live in fascinated me to no end. There was plenty of action interspersed throughout the novel to keep the story exciting and addictive. In the end, FALLING KINGDOMS is a good story to devour if you're in the mood for a vivid and thrilling YA high fantasy, but the action and worldbuilding (unfortunately) do not compensate for what is lacking in character development. 

Highlights: The world itself in FALLING KINGDOMS is fascinating, and I enjoyed the pacing. Strangely enough (and despite the disconnect between myself and the characters), I became completely wrapped up in the story and the world. This is an easy story to get lost in for a few hours, and every concluding chapter left me eager for the next. 

Lowlights: I could not connect with a single character in this book. I can love flawed characters, but these main characters had barely any or even no redeeming qualities. The only "good" character, Lucia, was so stereotypical, I was tempted to skip ahead whenever her chapters arrived. The sort-of-but-not-really-but-still-kind-of-like incest thing was strange and I wish it had not been a plot point, since it served no purpose in the end but to make Magnus appear incredibly creepy. Cleo's instalove was off-putting and unrealistic. A few predictable moments.

Final Thoughts: The writing was not as strong as I hoped it would be, but FALLING KINGDOMS did have quite a few enjoyable moments. I would recommend checking this out at your local library first to see if it is your type of story, especially if you're a YA fantasy.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Queen's Library (27)

GRAVE MERCY by Robin LaFevers (Purchased for Kindle)
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green (gifted)
THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater (gifted, my review)
NOTES FROM GHOST TOWN by Kate Ellison (ARC, accepted review pitch)

Thanks to Casey from Media Masters Publicity for the review book, my parents for the two hardcovers, and Racquel for convincing me to give GRAVE MERCY a chance!

What did you get this week? 


The feature is inspired by Pop Culture Junkie's This Week In Books, The Story Siren's In My Mailbox, and Mailbox Monday. The Queen's Library is a way for me to feature books that I add to my bookshelves and a place to post my weekly recommendations. This is not a new meme, but merely an adjusted feature that is better suited to my blog and needs.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (104): WAKING DARK & PROJECT CAIN

THE WAKING DARK by Robin Wasserman
September 10th, 2013
"They called it the killing day. Twelve people dead, all in the space of a few hours. Five murderers: neighbors, relatives, friends. All of them so normal. All of them seemingly harmless. All of them now dead by their own hand . . . except one. And that one has no answers to offer the shattered town. She doesn't even know why she killed—or whether she'll do it again.

Something is waking in the sleepy town of Oleander's, Kansas—something dark and hungry that lives in the flat earth and the open sky, in the vengeful hearts of upstanding citizens. As the town begins its descent into blood and madness, five survivors of the killing day are the only ones who can stop Oleander from destroying itself. Jule, the outsider at war with the world; West, the golden boy at war with himself; Daniel, desperate for a different life; Cass, who's not sure she deserves a life at all; and Ellie, who believes in sacrifice, fate, and in evil. Ellie, who always goes too far. They have nothing in common. They have nothing left to lose. And they have no way out. Which means they have no choice but to stand and fight, to face the darkness in their town—and in themselves."
Sounds very eerie. I enjoy eerie books, so I'm excited for this one. 

PROJECT CAIN by Geoffrey Girard
September 3rd, 2013

"Fifteen-year-old Jeff Jacobson had never heard of Jeffrey Dahmer, the infamous serial killer who brutally murdered seventeen people more than twenty years ago. But Jeff’s life changes forever when the man he’d thought was his father hands him a government file telling him he was constructed in a laboratory only seven years ago, part of a top-secret government cloning experiment called ‘Project CAIN’.

There, he was created entirely from Jeffrey Dahmer’s DNA. There are others like Jeff—those genetically engineered directly from the most notorious murderers of all time: The Son of Sam, The Boston Strangler, Ted Bundy . . . even other Jeffrey Dahmer clones. Some raised, like Jeff, in caring family environments; others within homes that mimicked the horrific early lives of the men they were created from.

When the most dangerous boys are set free by the geneticist who created them, the summer of killing begins. Worse, these same teens now hold a secret weapon even more dangerous than the terrible evil they carry within. Only Jeff can help track the clones down before it’s too late. But will he catch the ‘monsters’ before becoming one himself?"

This story sounds intriguing, and that cover is incredible! His reflection? Very, very creepy (it kind of reminds me of the cover for DUALED).

What are you waiting on this week?


Monday, March 4, 2013

Review: PAPER VALENTINE by Brenna Yovanoff

Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Published: January 2013
Genre: YA, mystery, paranormal
Publisher: Razorbill
POV: 1st person
Pages: 306
Format: Advanced Reader's Copy, paperback
Source: Unsolicited from Publisher
"The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls.

For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again."

From the first chapter, it was easy to notice: Yovanoff's writing has a lovely yet strange flow / ring to it. At times, her word choice for certain descriptions was unexpectedly odd yet fitting as the words evoked the underlying emotion and meaning. Yovanoff gives the narrator, Hannah, a voice is decidedly "Hannah," unique to her personality and utterly captivating. I was worried that Hannah's budding relationship with Finny would detract from the mystery at hand, but it instead allowed the story and Hannah's character to grow a bit stronger. Hannah's relationships – familial, friendship, and romantic – all became intriguing plot points.

PAPER VALENTINE may meander along at a languid pace, but this allows the new string of murders to become all the more chilling and unsettling. With each new discovery, the tension grows until it is like a rubber band on the verge of snapping – but it never grows into too much. It's a soft yet unsettling eeriness that lingers in the background, perfectly mixed in with the surprising amount of more lighthearted moments. Also, while this story is a murder mystery, PAPER VALENTINE is also a ghost story centering around friendship. Hannah's best friend, Lillian, died six months ago, but Lillian's still hanging around as a ghost, pushing Hannah to dig deeper into the killings. These two bring out the best and worst in each other, and it was nice to see how they both evolved throughout the story. PAPER VALENTINE has a couple flaws, but is nonetheless an unexpected pleasant surprise that delivers in more ways than one. 

Highlights: Hannah's POV was similataneously expected and unexpected. On the one hand, she's what I expected from a YA novel heroine. On the other hand, her voice is very distinct and I enjoyed her peculiar descriptions and flashbacks. I like that Yovanoff didn't settle with only telling a murder mystery, but she instead built a community and inhabited it with imperfect, realistic characters that capture the reader's attention. I enjoyed the emphasis on family and sisterhood in this story. The Valentine Killer surprised me, because I was simultaneously incorrect and correct regarding the identity of the killer. 

Lowlights: Slightly predictable. The middle suffered a bit due to the slower pacing. I'm not a fan of the (sort of a spoiler - highlight to read) villain-confesses-all-before-trying-to-murder-the-hero(ine) ending, and that's unfortunately used here. It felt like a lot was happening in this story, which isn't necessarily bad, but it seemed like the story got off track a few times.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Queen's Library (26)

For Review from Netgalley
A CORNER OF WHITE by Jaclyn Moriarty

Purchased for Kindle
SHUTTER ISLAND by Dennis Lehane
JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta (such an incredible novel!)
THE NAME OF THE STAR by Maureen Johnson

Freebies for Kindle 
THE TAKEN by Vicki Pettersson
THE TORN WING by Kiki Hamilton

Many thanks to Netgalley + Scholastic for the review book!

What books did you get this week? Leave a link!


The feature is inspired by Pop Culture Junkie's This Week In Books, The Story Siren's In My Mailbox, and Mailbox MondayThe Queen's Library is a way for me to feature books that I add to my bookshelves and a place to post my weekly recommendations. This is not a meme, but merely an adjusted feature that is better suited to my blog.