Friday, December 31, 2010

"My Soul to Save" by Rachel Vincent

From Goodreads: "When Kaylee Cavanaugh screams, someone dies.

So when teen pop star Eden croaks onstage and Kaylee doesn't wail, she knows something is dead wrong. She can't cry for someone who has no soul.

The last thing Kaylee needs right now is to be skipping school, breaking her dad's ironclad curfew and putting her too-hot-to-be-real boyfriend's loyalty to the test. But starry-eyed teens are trading their souls: a flickering lifetime of fame and fortune in exchange for eternity in the Netherworld—a consequence they can't possibly understand.

Kaylee can't let that happen, even if trying to save their souls means putting her own at risk…."

As I made note of in my review of "My Soul to Take"m I am a Tod kinda gal, I prefer him tenfold over Nash. I just can't get over Nash's past, his personality, and whatnot, and as such, I am not a fan. However, in this book my opinion of Tod changed a bit- for the worse. I don't know if he completely comprehended how dangerous the task was that he assigned to Kaylee and Nash and they could have easily been killed or seriously injured in trying to carry it out, yet he still asked them to do it and he even played to Kaylee's hero complex. He knew that if he asked there was no way in heck that she could not help. What if something were to have happened to Nash or Kaylee? Harmony, Nash's mom, not only loses her husband and one son, but then her last remaining son and is left entirely alone in the world? Or Kaylee's dad, who had lost his wife, also loses his daughter who he and his wife have sacrificed so much for? I don't think so! All he was thinking about was his dear Addy...

As for Addy? Well, she kinda drove me nuts. I hated how she was so against using the out-clause. I know that her life would be pretty crappy had she used it, but wasn't it better than, I don't know? NOT HAVING A SOUL! But I am not going to lie, I did sympathize with her quite a bit in this book, more so towards the end of the novel where she sacrificed herself for her little sister. As for Tod? Well, it was just really nice to see a different side of him. I had become so accustomed to him being all morbid and snarky, and seeing him all googly eyed? It was cute.

I also hated the way in which Nash tried to hold Kaylee back from living up to her full potential. He was so against Kaylee and him helping Tod (and I know, this means that he fully comprehended the dangers whereas Tod did not- and that I am being completely contradictory as per usual), but still, he knows how Kaylee is and how she cannot say no when it comes to helping people, he should have just accepted it and kept his moaning and groaning to himself. As for Kaylee? Well she was her usual kick-ass self, but sometimes I cannot help myself from thinking that she really should put more faith into her dad, Harmony and her uncle and trust them with the problems that they are experiencing. I mean, the three adults combined have been around for probably 400 years, if not longer, so I do think that with age comes wisdom, especially over Tod, Nash, and Kaylee's combined 50ish years.

Rating: 7.5/10

End of 2010 Survey!

Jamie over at The Perpetual Page-Turner created a great little survey for bloggers to fill out regarding their most favourite and least favourite reads of 2010 and I thought that it was great, so here are my answers!

1) Best book of 2010?  Well besides all of the last books of series that I love (ie. “The Last Sacrifice” by Richelle Mead and “Alpha” by Rachel Vincent), “The Body Finder” by Kimberly Derting. This book is beautifully written and the characters are probably some of my most favourite characters ever. I highly recommend this book- I don't think that you could go wrong in reading it.

2) Worst book of 2010?: “Halo” by Alexandra Adornetto or "Sleepless"  by Cyn Balog. I was sucked in by both books beautiful covers, but EGAD! I think that both books had such great potential and neither were able to live up to their potential.

3) Most Disappointing Book of 2010? “Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins. This book was cringe-worthy and really made me rethink everything that I had thought about the previous two books.

4) Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2010? “L.A. Candy” by Lauron Conrad. I jokingly picked this book up and I thought that it was actually quite good! 

5) Book you recommended to people most in 2010? Oh gosh... Well this would be a tie between “The Mortal Instruments” series by Cassie Clare and the “Shifter” series by Rachel Vincent. I seriously make a plug about them (most of the time unintentionally) in almost every single blog post/ review.

6) Best series you discovered in 2010? Oh gosh... This is a tough one. I did enjoy the first two books of "The Hunger Games", but I did discover Kelley Armstrong's series, both "Women of the Otherworld" and "The Darkest Powers" this year and loved both of them, so I think that the title would have to go to either of Kelley's series. 

7) Favoruite new authors you discovered in 2010? Kimberly Derting, Rachel Hawkins, Andrea Cremer, Aprilynne Pike.

8) Most hilarious read of 2010? “The Last Sacrifice” by Richelle Mead. Seriously, I didn’t know that Dimitri was that funny.

9) Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2010? “Men of the Otherworld” by Kelley Armstrong. I typically am not a novella person at all, but I could not put this book down. I loved every moment of it, from seeing cute little feral Clay, to snarky psychopathic teenage Clay.

10) Book you most anticipated in 2010? Either Kelley Armstrong’s “The Reckoning” or “Waking the Witch”.

11) Favorite cover of a book you read in 2010? Well that’s easy, “Nightshade” by Andrea Cremer. I loved it so much that I actually oil painted the cover of it.

12) Most memorable character in 2010? Well, since I obviously cannot pick just one, here is my list (and yes, they are all boys... Bu they [in all of their gorgeousness, caringness, and whatnot] are completely memorable. Jay Heaton. Gale. Graves. Dimitri. Owen. Marc. Tod.

13) Most beautifully written book in 2010? "Linger" by Maggie Stiefvater. I don't think any other author can make me feel so many emotions when reading their works to the extent that Maggie does. By the end of her books I am typically in tears.

14) Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2010? Oh gosh... Another tough question. I would have to say "Jealousy" by Lili St. Crow. I love Dru and the gang so much and what happened in this book? GASP! Never would have expected it at all- especially the Graves stuff. When I read the note about breaking Graves my stomach dropped and I literally felt physically sick- which I don't think has ever happened to me while reading a book before. 

15) Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2010 to finally read? Well probably "The Hunger Games" series, since didn't the first book come out in 2008 or something? People had been raving about this series/ in love with it for years before I finally decided to give it a go.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

"My Soul to Take" by Rachel Vincent

From Goodreads: "She doesn't see dead people, but she senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally.  

Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about her need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who'll be next."

As many of you have probably garnered by now, Rachel Vincent is tied as my favourite author of all time, I practically worship her “Shifters” series, however, this series, “The Soul Screamers” series, does not compare to the “Shifters” series whatsoever. That is not to say that this series is bad by any means, I think that it is an awesomely unique take on a magical race that few, if any, other authors have written about, but I personally prefer the other series more. I should make note that Rachel is not alone in this, I love to death my other favourite author’s (Cassie Clare’s) one series (“The Mortal Instruments”), but I don’t enjoy her other series near as much ("Infernal Devices” series).  I will also make note that sometimes when I am entirely wrapped up in a book genre or a series I do find myself being overly critical of everything else I read (aka because I love the “Shifters” series and because both series are written by the same person I cannot stop myself from constantly comparing them and nitpicking- even though I need to understand that the “Shifters” series is an adult series, whereas this series is a YA series so obviously there are going to be differences due to the audiences).

After reading this book I have come to realize that I am very pro-underdog. Nash, the smooth popular boy does not do anything for me at all (well that is a lie, he does do something for me, just in the wrong way, he makes me dislike him- a lot), whereas Tod, his lonely undead brother (definition of an underdog) very much pulls on my heartstrings.  I don’t know what it is about Nash that makes me dislike him so much (well that’s a lie, I don’t like him because he is a player, is too arrogant/ cocky and is just one of those boys who seems to get everything that he wants- mainly in the way of girls), but his character just doesn’t sit right with me- however, as I sit here and write this review, I can slightly (which I hate to admit) understand where he is coming from. Imagine knowing that you are a member of a magical race whose population is few and far between and whose members live for an extremely long period of time, surpassing all of their human friends and families by hundreds of years. It must be difficult for you to know that finding a partner of your race, who you could spend years upon years with, would be extremely difficult, if not darn near impossible. So what do you do? Do everything in your power to forget about this and what does this mean in Nash’s case? Hook up with human girls (and lots of them). But even with that understanding/ acceptance, I do still much prefer Tod over Nash. As for Kaylee? Well, I must applaud her for sticking to her guns and not wanting to be another notch on Nash’s belt for as long as she did, I am sure that most girls would have fallen into his lap as soon as he smiled at them, but she still eventually succumbed to his charms (UGH...)! Furthermore, I must applaud Kaylee for very much being a take charge kinda gal (my favourite), even if her decisions weren’t always the greatest and they sometimes placed her in more trouble, she was always more than willing to own up to them (eventually, kinda like good old Faythe).

The part of the book that I believe to be the most unexcusable/ unforgiveable? The fact that Kaylee’s aunt, uncle, and heck, even father, led her to belief that she was crazy when they knew and had accepted the truth all along- that she was a bean sidhe, like them. I just don’t understand why they didn’t tell her the truth from the beginning- okay, so it is explained in the book why they didn’t tell her, they didn’t want her to feel guilty about her mom’s sacrifice for her yada yada yada... But still! Nash and Tod knew from the beginning that they were bean sidhe and they still turned out fine (well, the jury is still out on those boys) ;) ! Kaylee is extremely strong and I don’t think that hearing the truth from the beginning would have done any irrevocable damage to her.

All in all, I do think that this is a great series for young adults (as it is written for), but I do feel like some adults may have difficulties relating to the teenage characters, their emotions, and whatnot (therefore check out Rachel’s adult series and pray that her new WIP adult series comes out soon!).

Rating: 7.5/10

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"The Body Finder" by Kimberly Derting

From Goodreads: "Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world . . . and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat left for her. But now that a serial killer is terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, Violet realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved by her hope that Jay's intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she's falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself." 

This book left me speechless and in the best possible way. I cannot convey to you how much I loved this book and how perfect I thought it was- and I am entirely taken aback by it all, because in all honesty, I just randomly bought the book, having only seen it a few times in the blogosphere world, and having no idea what it was about. I had been reading this book while my dad and I were driving and after each chapter I would set the book down and squeal (and I embarrassingly admit, there may have been happy tears involved each time) about how much I was loving it all. Kimberly Derting, you are a genius, and your wonderful creation has (rightfully so) earned its place in my favourite book series of all time, alongside "The Mortal Instruments" series by Cassie Clare and the "Shifter" series by Rachel Vincent. And though I love me some Marc, Jace, and Dimitri, Jay Heaton has hands down become my favourite male character (which I find surprising since he isn't at all what I almost exclusively go for in male characters- dark and dangerous).

This book is beautifully written and everything in it is impeccably interwoven. It also had the perfect combination of adventure and romance, and as I made note in my reviews of "The Dark Divine" and "The Lost Saint" by Bree Despain, the idea of romantically bringing together two best friends is genius, as it avoids the clique YA plot where the male and female character pronounce their undying love for one another almost immediately after meeting. What I also is that being best friends forever, Jay and Violet know everything about one another, just one eyebrow raise or one facial twitch speaks volumes amongst them, the other will know exactly what the other is thinking or is trying to convey. The characters are extremely well developed, take Violet for instance, she is such a headstrong young woman with a strong sense of good and evil in the world, whereas Jay is caring,  clever, and humorously possessive.

I will admit though that I am quite worried about the next book in the series, “Desires of the Dead”. As I have said many times in my reviews, there are cases, more than I would like to admit, where I believe that sequels do not deliver, and that they fall flat. However *positive thinking/ fingers crossed* that “Desires of the Dead” will be like “The Lost Saint” by Bree Despain, exceeding the first book in the series by tenfold, making me love the series all the more.

Rating: 11/10 (yes, you read that right, 11/10- the highest rating I have ever given out in one of my reviews. I love this book to pieces and think that you would be crazy to not read it- in fact, I am going to go and reread it right now).

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"The Lost Saint" by Bree Despain

From Goodreads: "The non-stop sequel to The Dark Divine delivers an even hotter romance and more thrilling action than Bree Despain's first novel. Grace Divine made the ultimate sacrifice to cure Daniel Kalbi. She gave her soul to the wolf to save him and lost her beloved mother. When Grace receives a haunting phone call from Jude, she knows what she must do. She must become a Hound of Heaven. Desperate to find Jude, Grace befriends Talbot - a newcomer to town who promises her that he can help her be a hero. But as the two grow closer, the wolf grows in Grace, and her relationship with Daniel begins to crumble. Unaware of the dark path she is walking, Grace becomes prideful in her new abilities - not realizing that an old enemy has returned and deadly trap is about to be sprung. Readers, raveous for more Grace and Daniel, will be itching to sink their teeth into The Lost Saint." 

While  I liked the previous book in this series, “The Dark Divine”, I thought that it was an okay read, not the best book that I had ever read, but not the worst by any means. But this book? I loved this book, it is hands down the best book that I have read since reading “The Last Sacrifice” by Richelle Mead and I am happily surprised, since in all honesty I didn't think that this book would exceed the first, because in some cases I find that sequels do not deliver. It becomes evident that author Bree Despain is very much developing as an author and therefore I cannot wait to see what she has in store for us in the next book in this series.

Whereas “The Dark Divine” had a slower pace, with almost all of the action taking place at the end, this book is saturated with non-stop action. I found that this book mainly revolves around new characters, save for Grace and Daniel, and in all honesty, I didn’t really find myself missing the original characters who were so predominant in the first novel, such as Pastor Divine, mainly because the new characters are so intriguing and interesting. Ummm... Talbot anyone? *Swoon*. When he was first introduced I kept thinking to myself, I should be wary of his character and find him to be suspicious, but I just couldn’t, mainly because he was such a nice guy and he clearly cares about Grace. And what happened towards the end of the novel? I didn’t believe it for one second, if anything, it made me like him even more. Okay, so I know that Charity played a role in the first book, but barely and as such, I hadn’t really formed an opinion of her. Though in this book, even though she played as little of a role as the last time, I did find myself liking her quite a bit. She reminds me of Grace a lot, strong, smart, and more than willing to look after those that she cares about, I think that she will grow up to be an extremely kick-ass woman. 

And then there is April... Oh April, the trembly cocker-spaniel like character, whom I really couldn’t stand in “The Dark Divine” mainly because she seemed so dependent upon Jude, but whom I loved in this book (except for the beginning when she was shunning Grace). If I were to have to pick only one character who changed the most/ for the better in this book, it would be April. She grew a backbone and really found her place in this crazy world that she was thrust into. As for Gabriel? Well, I must be honest and say I don’t really know what to think of him. I do think that in theory he is a really cool guy, you know, being a legend/ hundreds of years old and whatnot, but I just felt like his character was kinda flat. But, I did feel extremely bad for him when Grace was being a jerk to him, he didn’t have to help her whatsoever, in fact, he was told not to and he disobeyed his orders and for that he could get in a lot of trouble, but he thought that she was worth it, so I suppose I can respect him, though I wish that he had a bigger personality. And Jude? Well, I still find him to be extremely selfish, but you know what? He works for the story. A story wouldn’t work if all of the characters were nice and we loved them all, we need characters whom we loathe and would really like to be squished by a bulldozer in order for the plot to be fuelled and the story to be successful, so that is what he is for me, an annoyance that I would rather not have to read about, but an annoyance that I understand is necessary.

Typically when the male of a character knows of the paranormal world and the female character doesn’t and they fall in love and he wants to protect her from the paranormal world because she doesn’t understand the dangers that she could face, but she still doesn’t trust him and seeks out to learn more about this world and finds herself in a dangerous situation where the boy has to save her, I want to shake some sense into her/ I become extremely frustrated and grumpy at the female character. The boy knows what he is talking about girl! He has been saturated in this way of life forever and knows how to protect himself and everyone he cares about from it, what makes you think, you who have only known about this world for 2 days (or however long it has been- usually it hasn’t been very long), think that you know more about it than he does? That’s right, you don’t! So imagine my surprise when this does occur in this book, yet I don’t want to shake Grace and scream, “Listen to Daniel! He knows what he is talking about, whereas you are totally a clueless girl from an apple-pie kind of life!” Nope, didn’t find myself thinking that at all (kudos to you Bree Despain, you are one of few authors that I have read who I think have successfully pulled this off), and why didn’t I think this? Because of my biggest (actual) frustration of this book... *Ahem, I am talking to you Daniel*.  What were you thinking? You do remember that girl, Grace, who risked everything to free you from your curse, and as such took on the curse herself? HOW COULD YOU JUST STOP TALKING TO HER?  You excuse for not talking to her? Lame! She wasn’t asking you difficult questions by any means and wasn’t being the stereotypical whinny girlfriend, “But why? Where are you going?” No, she deserved the answers to the questions that she was asking. As such, I don’t think that Grace should feel guilty for breaking her “non-promise” to Daniel that she would stay out of trouble/ not find Jude/ not train; she had to do what she had to do. However, there is something that I do believe that she should feel guilty for; developing feelings for Talbot, even though she denied it to herself throughout the novel, obviously there is something between them.

Rating: 10/10 If you were one of those people who read the first book and were on the fence about it, thinking that you wouldn’t bother continuing on with the series (as I hope it becomes evident in this review) this book is much better than the first and I think that you will really regret not reading this book!

Monday, December 27, 2010

"The Dark Divine" by Bree Despain

From Goodreads: "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."

I did find the story to be quite slow in the beginning. I was (impatiently) waiting for anything exciting to happen and I did feel a bit let down when almost all of the action took place until the very end of the novel, leaving me with more questions that answers. Though this story isn’t the most unique take on werewolves, I didn’t find myself becoming tired with the story, thinking that it was too overplayed, so yay for that!

After reading this book I have come to determine that on the one hand I always want the girl and the boy to get together within the first 20 pages of so, so that the remaining 400 pages outline the crazy adventures that they experience together, but on the other hand, I want them to come together over a long period of time, getting to know one another without going through the stereotypical YA paranormal plotline (girl and boy meet, fall in love ASAP and vow to protect one another from everything that is a threat to them). I believe that the way in which Bree Despain went about this matter was perfect, since Grace and Daniel had known one another for years and previously had feelings for one another, and when their feelings did resurface quite quickly within the plotline, I didn‘t roll my eyes, shake my head, and mentally yell at the characters, “You have only known each other FOR TWO DAYS!!! Is it really necessary to be declaring your undying love for one another?” (my usual reaction).

In the beginning of the novel I found Jude to be extremely selfless and a character that was borderline swoon worthy, however my opinion of him soon drastically changed, with the introduction of Daniel. I found that Jude became extremely selfish. Everything that Grace did, she first considering how her actions would affect those around her, and then determined whether it was worth the risk, and in many cases she decided it was not worth upsetting someone, whereas everything that Jude did after the introduction of Daniel, he only did it for himself. Daniel is the first to admit that he is far from perfect, and I think that is why I like him so much and makes him relatable to the reader. He understands that what has happened in the past is in the past, and the only way to move forward is to try to correct his wrongdoings and I very much respect him for that.

Though it takes Grace a while to determine/ realize what she wants in life, once she does make this realization, she will do everything in her power to ensure that it remains in her life. Take Daniel, for instance, once she found out how she could save him, she could have run in the opposite direction, taking the easier path, like the majority of people would most likely do, but instead she chose the much harder path, that few, if any, would have took- sacrificing herself physically (and for all she knew morally) in order to free the boy that she loves from his curse, and for that I really admire her.

So all in all, I did enjoy this book. I think that the characters within this book are some of the more relatable characters that I have recently read, and though the action is so short and does take quite a long time to appear, it is well worth the wait, and of course I cannot wait to read the next book in the series, “The Lost Saint”, which comes out tomorrow (December 28th, 2010).

Rating: 8/10

"Nightshade" Oil Painting

So I love to craft, specifically to oil paint, but with school, blogging, and reading, I can never seem to find enough time to paint, which is a big booger, so I really only get to oil paint during Christmas break every year when school is out and everything is more relaxed. Well the other day, Christmas Day to be exact, after opening presents and doing the family stuff, I found that I had a lot of free time on my hands and a canvas I had lying around was calling to me, so obviously I had to paint! Usually when I oil paint I paint my favourite characters from a book and I just so happened to have a copy of beautiful "Nightshade" by Andrea Cremer, and I thought that it would make the perfect subject (I mean, it is only the most beauiful book cover I have ever seen)! I am thinking that I might also paint the cover of the next book in the series, "Wolfsbane", when it comes out July 12 2011.

I took art all throughout high school and first year university, but for some reason during those times, I dreaded painting, and therefore never learned how to oil paint, so it has just been something I have picked up within the last couple of years, and my technique is very much trial by error. Though there are some flaws that I now see as I look at it, I am pretty happy with how it turned out (and now I can hang this on my wall- in place of the book cover- which I was seriously considering doing). 

This is the finished product:

And this is the in-progress (this colouring is more in-real-life), don't mind my messy easel:

And here is the actual cover:

Saturday, December 25, 2010

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is a weekly post hosted by Kirsti at The Story Siren as a chance to share the books we've bought or received over the past week.

This week has been a pretty exciting week for books! I ordered a bunch from Amazon for Christmas this past weekend and I was told that I wouldn't get them before Christmas, but lucky me! I got them 2 days after ordering them (so on Tuesday). I also have a bunch more ordered on Amazon, but they are darn pre-orders, so I should be getting quite a few more within the first week or so of January.

"Virals"  by Kathy Reichs- Bought (I just reviewed this yesterday- it was amazing)
"Nightshade" by Andrea Cremer- Bought (I reviewed this on Thursday, it was also a great read)
"Hex Hall" by Rachel Hawkins- Bought (I reviewed this a few weeks back and thought that it was the best book I have read in quite some time)
"Spells" by Aprilynne Pike- Bought (I love this book series so much, I had the previous book in the series, "Wings", but I had yet to get this one)

And the bestest thing I received in my mailbox this week?!? A friggin' ARC  of "My Soul to Steal" from Rachel Vincent!

The best part of the ARC? It is signed! And she made it out to me! I know this isn't a big deal to all of you bloggers who are always in contact with authors and whatnot, but this was just so exciting to me. I just randomly started blogging one day a few months back, mainly so that I could remember what books I read throughout the year, and I never expected that I would start to receive books to review or win books in giveaways and whatnot (especially from my favourite author). So yeah, it was just so sweet (not going to lie, I had to blink back happy tears)...

The back story: I was just randomly on Twitter 2ish weeks ago (when I was supposed to be studying for an exam... Shhhhh...) when I noticed that Rachel had stated that she was going to be holding a Twitter trivia contest within the next ten minutes in order to promote/ provide bloggers with her new novel from the "Soul Screamers" series, "My Soul to Steal". I hadn't read this series in quite some time, so I thought that I wouldn't be able to answer any of the question quickly enough, but after the first questions was asked it became apparent that each question would take a minute or so for Twitter followers to answer (and not the 5 seconds I thought it would take for each question to be answered). I quickly ran to my bookshelf and grabbed my copies of the series and when the next question was asked, I grabbed the book that the question pertained to and hunted for the answer. The first page that I turned to? Yeah, it had the answer dead smack in the middle of the page! Lucky me! Answered the question on Twitter correctly and won the book! Yay!!! Afterward, my heart was beating so fast from excitement... I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I now am going to reread the first three books of the series, review them, read this book and review it, all before January 6th, 2011...

Holiday Message!

I just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas (and for y'all that don't celebrate Christmas... Happy Holidays, Merry Chrismukkah, and everything in between!)... I hope everyone has a fantabulous day (and gets lots of books! ;) )...

Friday, December 24, 2010

"Virals" by Kathy Reichs

From Goodreads: "Tory Brennan, niece of acclaimed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (of the Bones novels and hit TV show), is the leader of a ragtag band of teenage "sci-philes" who live on a secluded island off the coast of South Carolina. When the group rescues a dog (Cooper) caged for medical testing on a nearby island, they are exposed to an experimental strain of canine parvovirus that changes their lives forever.

As the friends discover their heightened senses and animal-quick reflexes, they must combine their scientific curiosity with their newfound physical gifts to solve a cold-case murder that has suddenly become very hot if they can stay alive long enough to catch the killer's scent.

Fortunately, they are now more than friends they're a pack. They are Virals."

After reading the first ten or so pages of this book I started to get really excited. Forensic anthropology? Primates? Transmission of diseases between humans and animals? These are all things that I am studying/ highly interested in! Add to the fact that Kathy Reichs, creator of "Bones" the TV series/ book series is the author of this book, and I was even more excited! I know that a lot of academics, such as my professors, hate forensics/ medical shows like "Bones", "CSI", "House", and whatnot, saying that they are not realistic whatsoever and give the wrong impression of the fields, but in all honesty, I really enjoy those types of shows. It's just so amazing to see what I am learning in school to pop up in these shows (I mean, where else would I come across trabecular and lamellar bone, epiphyseal fusion, and whatnot?). 

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. Tory is such a strong female character. She is a genius (but not the type of genius that is too afraid to venture out into the real world, choosing instead to isolate themselves in some lab or whatnot)- no, the girl is not afraid to get out there and take risks... She is the one to convince all of her boy friends that, "Yes, we really need to do this!  And yes, it may be dangerous, but it will be for the greater good!". She is a leader through and through. 

And her little ragtag of boys? Hilarious and entirely lovable! I know that a lot of people like "The Big Bang Theory", I'm not really a fan, but I have seen a few episodes and the boys of this book very much remind me of the boys of the show, so if you like the show, I think you'll like this book. First there is Hi, a pudgy teen who is entirely babied by his mom, but whom is so sarcastic and brings so much humor to the book. Then there is Shelton (see! Same name as in "The Big Bang Theory"- just different spelling), the nerdiest boy of the gang who can fix anything electrical and technological, and Ben, Ben is a difficult character to get a grasp of because he only speaks maybe twenty words throughout the entire novel, but Tory describes him as being the best looking boy out of her little group of boys, the boy who is most likely to go along with her crazy adventures, and the boy with a killer temper that they all have to be on the look out for.

When I had first read some of the reviews of this book I had seen that there was a little bit of romance in this book and I always love me some romance, so I was even more so looking forward to it. When I first read about Ben and the way that him and Tory interacted I thought that he was definitely going to be the boy with the relationship with Tory and when he wasn't... Well, I was disappointed. I was especially disappointed with whom she did have a (sorta) relationship with because he had a girlfriend and he seemed way too overly cocky and arrogant, not someone that I thought that Tory would go for. But since the relationship with that boy obviously didn't work out, I do think (and hope) that there could be something between Tory and Ben in the future.

I found this book to be very similar to James Patterson's "Maximum Ride" series, but just more realistic. You might be asking yourself, "Well, how is this more realistic than Maximum Ride, considering both are based around the fusion of human DNA with animal DNA, creating a sort of hybrid?" Well, in the "Maximum Ride" books there were countless experiments and conspiracies carried out over such a long period of time and by countless individuals and scientists, which in my opinion doesn't seem as plausible (ie. having so many people involved with it, the technology, funding, and whatnot), whereas in this book the teens developing their abilities was a complete accident. I did find myself growing somewhat frustrated with the gang's abilities when they first started developing just because they had no control over them whatsoever (and I can't even imagine how frustrated and scared they must have been when this was happening to them), but that frustration definitely eased up as they learned how to better control them.

Though this book could totally be a stand alone book, I do really wish for it to be a series (I did read somewhere online that it was going to be developed into a trilogy, but I didn't come across any official announcement on Kathy's website so I am not 100% positive if this is true or not). However, if this were to be a trilogy, I would love it if in the next book the characters were a bit older and has developed their abilities more so. Also, I am sad to say that since adopting Oreo, my new kitten, I have not developed any awesome abilities like Tory and her gang did when they adopted Cooper, the wolfdog pup... ;)

Rating: 10/10

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Winners of My First Fantabulous Giveaway!

Well the time has come... To announce the winners of MY FIRST FANTABULOUS GIVEAWAY (after hours  of tabulating points and entering them into Excel- never again! Next time I am going to use one of those GoogleDoc thingers)!

But first (to prolong the wait/ test your patience... ;) )...

I just wanted to thank everyone for participating, blogging about the contest, tweeting about it and whatnot- you cannot even comprehend how much I truly appreciate y'all! Since I was able to exceed 100 followers the three winners will each receive a $15 gift card to either the Amazon of their choosing or to the Book Depository.

And the winners are (as determined by Random Number Generator):

Katie Mae

I have emailed each winner and they will have 72 hours to respond to me, if they do not respond to me in this time, I will hold a redraw for their prize.

Thanks again everyone!

"Nightshade" by Andrea Cremer

From Goodreads: "Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything— including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?"

To start off, I have to gush about this cover. This is hand-down the most beautiful cover I have ever seen before (and I have seen some pretty beautiful covers before like "Fallen" and "Torment" by Lauren Kate, "Halo", and whatnot). When I originally bought the book I thought that if the book wasn't that great, I would be okay with that, just because the cover is so beautiful...  (which thankfully I didn't have to worry about).

Anyways, on to the story. This book is very much the case of girl and boy meet, as they look at one another/ touch one another they fall madly and deeply in love (all within an hour of knowing one another). As everyone has probably determined by now, I hate when this happens in books, mainly because it is not realistic whatsoever, and I personally believe that the stuff that happens as two people fall in love is extremely interesting. However, I didn't fully hate that this happened in this book. I mean, it did bug me, but it didn't completely turn me off of the book (*cough, cough, "Halo" by Alexandra Adornetto)... I think that what made up for this occurring was the boys....

Oh, the boys... It's weird, lately while reading books where the female character has to choose between two boys, I haven't been able to choose which boy I prefer, or if I do choose between the two boys, I only like one over the other by a fraction (ie. Gale and Peeta in "The Hunger Games" trilogy) and in the first half of the novel, I, for the life of me, could not choose between Ren and Shay. I also found it weird that I liked Ren in this book. Usually I am anti-player boy, but with Ren, I was almost able to overlook the fact that he was a player, mainly due to the fact that he clearly cared about Calla and when he was a sweet, he was a really sweet (ie. giving her the ring). On the other hand, well, Shay was the perfect snarky/ sarcastic boy who also clearly cared about Calla. So how is a girl to choose? I did end up picking my favourite between the boys about halfway through the novel, but I still felt really bad for the boy that I didn't choose (the one who Calla didn't end up with in the end) and I think that because of his sacrifice at the end of the novel he still might have a chance with her.

While reading this book I found myself growing more and more frustrated with Calla. I felt like she was playing both boys way too much in this book. I understand that she was confused and everything, but there was another option available, she could have isolated herself from both in order to think over the decision carefully without having any outside influences impacting her decision (as opposed to making out with both of them, making them both think that he was the one she was obviously going to choose in the end).

I did find that this book was pretty predictable in some matters, but not in others. When it was first discovered that Shay was the Scion and that the Scion was a "gift" or something or another, I groaned, predicting (correctly) how this was going to play out with the union between Calla and Ren. On the other hand, I did think that what happened between Calla and Shay in the cave would eventually happen, I just didn't think that it would happen that suddenly or in that instance. I wish that in that part that it had been more elaborated upon, I found it to be quite rushed (it only took up a couple of pages at most), I would have loved hearing more about the process of transformation and whatnot. So it was nice that some things were still able to take me by surprise (and I am sure that lots will take me by surprise in the next novel in the series, "Wolfsbane", as so many questions were left unanswered in this book).

I loved the secondary characters in this book (which is also quite surprising as I typically loathe them). I found them to be so dynamic and multi-faceted. For instance, Sabine, the obvious bitchy/ slutty girl, who despite it all, is obviously an extremely caring person as she does everything in her power to protect her pack member, Cosette, from the big bad world, Neville, the quiet boy whose music and poetry speak volumes, and Ansel, the little brother, who throughout the novel is discovering himself and what he wants in life, all the while, protecting his older sister, no matter the cost to himself.

All in all, this is a great book (both the story and the cover). This book is perfect for the reader who loves a balance of the paranormal and romance (seriously, this book is an extremely hot YA novel).

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

The rules are:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

I am currently reading:
Title: "Nightshade"
Author: Andrea Cremer
Genre: Young adult paranormal

""I want to be with her." (pg. 133)
"Totally. Utterly. Everything that you read about in books and watch in the movies. She is all I want in this life..." (pg. 133)
I just started this and I am dying to find out what happens! I cannot wait to get to this part in the story! Anyways, what are you reading? 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Top 5 Sunday

Top 5 Sundays is a weekly blog meme created by Larissa at Larissa's Bookish Life.  

Here's a little info about the meme taken from Larissa's blog:

Every Sunday I will post a TOP 5 list on the blog. It can be about anything and every week I'll have a new theme {You can vote on next week’s theme on my left sidebar!} and I will ad the Mr.Linky bellow the post so you can do a list with the theme and add you link to it.

1 - Write a post listing your TOP 5 choices within the theme I chose (or was chosen on a poll) for the week.
2 - Mention this Blog on the post and link back to it.
3 - Fell free to use the Feature's image (there is a smaller size version of it bellow)
4 - After you've finished your post, add you link (of the post, not your blog's main page) to the Mr.Linky at the end of that week's post.
5 – If you don’t have a blog to post, just leave your list in the comments =)
This week's theme is: Best Books {Series} of 2010! 
(and just a side note, these are in no particular order...) 
"Shift" and "Alpha" by Rachel Vincent, books 5 and 6 of the "Shifter's" series
So Rachel Vincent is pretty much my all time hero. I love this series so darn much! The final two books of the series were amazing, well except for you know, them being the last two books of the series! This is my go-to series, I could not tell you how many times I have reread this series...

"The Reckoning" by Kelley Armstrong, book 3 of "Darkest Powers" series. 
So believe it or not, but I only jumped on the Kelley Armstrong bandwagon this year (I know, I know, she has only been around for forever and she has only written a ton of books)... I love all of her books, though especially her "Darkest Power" series. Since I learned of Kelley this year, I have honestly read each book in this series at least 6 times. I am a total Derek girl and love him so much (and you know, the rest of the gang, Simon, Chloe, and Tori). I was really sad to see this series end with "The Reckoning", but thank goodness Kelley is writing another trilogy that corresponds with this series! 

"Waking The Witch" by Kelley Armstrong, book 11 of "The Women of the Otherworld" series
Okay, so I didn't actually think that "Waking the Witch" was the best book in the series (that title would go to either one of Elena's stories or one of the anthologies IMO), but I still really enjoyed this book! I loved seeing Savannah grow throughout the series and thought that it was amazing that she got her own book! 

"Spirit Bound" and "The Last Sacrifice" by Richelle Mead, books 5 and 6 of the "Vampire Academy" series
Man, now that I think about it 2010 kinda sucked for book series. Why am I thinking that? Well... BECAUSE ALMOST EVERY FRIGGIN' AMAZING SERIES ENDED! So the "Vampire Academy" series also ended with "The Last Sacrifice" (which I just reviewed a few weeks ago) and I thought that it was the perfect ending to a great series... I cannot wait to get my hands on the spin-off book, "Bloodlines", which comes out next August!

"Jealousy" by Lili St. Crow, book 3 of the "Strange Angels" series
I love this series and for everyone out there who is debating whether or not to read this series, READ IT! Seriously, I think that you are missing out by not reading it... Dru is such a strong female character with a whole cast of lovable guys like Graves, Christoph, Dibs and Shanks.

Well that's it for my top 5 book series of 2010- what series do you think are the top for 2010?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

On My Wishlist...

 On My Wishlist is a great event that Book Chick City runs every Saturday. It's where you list all of the books that you desperately want but haven't actually bought yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming. I thought that this was a fantabulous idea so I thought I would join in!

"Timeless" by Alexandra Monir

From Amazon: "When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century’s worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life – a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance.

Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves – a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives."


"Kiss Me Deadly" compiled by Trisha Telep

From Amazon: "If you can possibly thirst for more mysterious metaphysical accounts of love, Trisha Telep has organized some of the greatest and most thrilling tales of paranormal paramours since The Eternal Kiss. She presents the acclaimed literary talent of thirteen unique authors, creating a collection of stories that will undoubtedly capture the imagination of every soul who dares to read them. Werewolves, ghosts, zombies, vampires, and fallen angels drive the plot of these riveting romances.
Kiss Me Deadly includes the exceptional writings of several authors, including:
• Sarah Rees Brennan (faeries)
• Becca Fitzpatrick (angels)
• Caitlin Kittredge (witches)
• Karen Mahoney (vampires: sequel to story from
The Eternal Kiss)
• Daniel Marks (ghost kids)
• Justine Musk (sorcerers)
• Diana Peterfreund (unicorns)
• Michelle Rowen (demons)
• Carrie Ryan (zombies)
• Maggie Stiefvater (werewolves)
• Rachel Vincent (banshees)
• Daniel Waters (zombies)
• Michelle Zink (gothic ghosts)"

"Almost to Die For" by Tate Hallaway

From Goodreads: "On her sixteenth birthday, Anastasija Parker learns that her so-called deadbeat dad is actually a vampire king. And he wants Ana to assume her rightful position at his side, in spite of the fact that she has witch's blood running through her veins-from her mother's side. 

Too bad witches and vampires are mortal enemies. And now Ana's parents are at each other's throats over her future. It's up to Ana to make a choice, but deciding your eternal destiny is a pretty big deal for a girl who just wants to get through high school."

Well that is for my wishlist- what is on your wishlist? 

Friday, December 17, 2010

"Mockingjay" by Suzanne Collins

(This review contains spoilers of the previous two books in the series)

"My name is Katniss Everdeen. Why am I not dead? I should be dead. 

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss' family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does not exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and it plotting to overthrow the Capitol. everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans- except Katniss. 

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss' willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebel's Mockingjay- no matter what the personal  cost."

If I had to sum this  book up in one word it would be confusion. Firstly, prior to reading this book I was confused as to why the reviews of this book were so black and white, with the people who completely loved this book and were happy with the outcome or with the people who are completely disappointed by this book and almost feel as if it almost wrecked the series for them. Having read it, If found that many of the characters experienced confusion within the story, take Katniss, for instance, and her concussion which makes it difficult for her to concentrate for long periods of time, or Peeta, who was tortured greatly and as a result has an extremely difficult time separating fact from fiction, or Finnick, who completely loses himself to a confused state when he mourns for the women that he loves and whom he believes to be in the clutches of evil. The first half of the book I enjoyed quite a bit and was totally like, "What are those haters going on about? This book is great!" But then all of a sudden it completely changed and I felt myself liking the book less and less. Overall, I am just confused about what actually happens in this book/ why it does and I can understand why many people take the latter side, that they are disappointed with the outcome of the book (and I swear that this isn’t just my over critical/ hard-ass side coming out, I seriously am confused by this book). 

When reading this book, like the others, I had no idea who Katniss was going to choose, her best friend of many years, Gale, or Peeta, the boy who did everything in his power to protect her no matter the cost to himself. And as previously mentioned in my other review of this series, I wasn't fully supporting/ rooting for one of the boys over the other, while absolutely hating the other (*cough, cough, my fully supporting Marc over Jace in Rachel Vincent's "Shifter's" series). I liked both of them almost the same (well, that is a tad white lie, I liked one boy just a fraction more than the other, just a fraction though- nothing major, I promise!), and I thought that I was going to be completely okay with who she picked in the end. But I am not.  I just hate how she didn't actually choose which boy she wanted- she didn't have an option between the boys because the other boy just left her high and dry to go be some bigshot without her (Okay, maybe I am being a bit dramatic, he did leave her because he thought that she would never be able to forgive him for something that he didn't intentionally do, but heck, Katniss forgave the other boy for doing a lot worse of things- which he seemed to constantly be doing/ doing on purpose, so I am sure that she would have eventually forgave unintentional boy).  And the boy that leaves her, well I guess it is kinda insinuated when I say "high and dry" that he never has any contact with her ever again... AND COME'ON!!! How can you just leave like that?

Another thing that kinda bugged me was just how much of a beating Katniss took in this book. I mean, we start off with her having a concussion, then she gets a bummed knee, then we find out that she has huge scarring on her arm from an earlier incident, and then she gets shot and bruises all of her ribs, AND THEN SOMETHING MAJOR HAPPENS (DUN, DUN, DUN)... Well you get the point. I won't tell you what happens to her in the end, but it isn't pretty whatsoever and it just makes me mad. I mean, I am not saying that her life should be all flowers, rainbows, and unicorns, because if it was, she wouldn't be the person we have all grown to love, but can't the girl catch a break every now and then (and I personally don't think that it as necessary whatsoever, it sure as heck didn't enhance the plot at all)? And another thing? I friggin hate it when a character has a concussion or something mental going on where they can not fully concentrate/ zone in and out of reality, I find it makes it extremely difficult for me to determine what is actually going on (I think I ranted about this also in my review of "Betrayals" by Lili St. Crow).

Rating: Well in all honesty, being super confused about this book, I don't think at this moment I can give it an accurate rating. I think I have to reread the book a couple of times and let it all set in before I rate it.... (I just don't want to feel like this book was a huge let-down to a good series like "Breaking Dawn" was to "Twilight").

Rating: 1/5

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