Friday, July 26, 2013

Where in the World is Avery?

If you're a follower of my blog, you probably know that for years I stuck to a fairly rigid blogging schedule- blogging almost every day. However, as you may have noticed, my blogging schedule has become somewhat erratic over the last couple of months.

There are a few reasons for this, one being that I'd much prefer my blog to be a place of reviews rather than memes (I used to participate in three or four a week, now few to any), another being school. I have been going to school full time since last September non-stop and it really eats a lot of my time (not to mention working near full time on top of that).

But... *Drum roll please* I do finish my masters of library and information science in two weeks (TWO WEEKS!!!!!), so hopefully I will be able to get back to regularly blogging!

Thanks y'all for sticking with me and welcome to my new followers!

Friday, July 19, 2013

ARC Review: "Earthbound" by Aprilynne Pike

Release Date: July 30, 2013
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 352

From Goodreads: "Love, fate, and power collide in this new series by #1 New York Timesbestselling author Aprilynne Pike!

Tavia Michaels is the sole survivor of the plane crash that killed her parents. When she starts to see strange visions of a boy she’s never spoken with in real life, she begins to suspect that there’s much about her past that she isn’t being told. Tavia will soon discover that she’s an Earthbound—someone with the ability to create matter out of nothing—and that she alone holds the key to stopping the Reduciata, an evil society that manipulates global events for its own shadowy purposes. Tavia will ultimately have to make a choice: to come into her powers and save the world from the evil Reduciata or to choose free will and a love of her own."

Admittedly I was quite hesitant to read this book- why? Because Aprilynne's "Wings" series is one of my most favourite series and I didn't think that there was any way that this book could compare. Am I ever glad that I was wrong. This book is, without a doubt Aprilynne's strongest book to date and one of the better books that I have read this year. That being said, that is not to say that this book is without its fault.

The largest strength of this book, in my opinion, is its complexity. While Aprilynne's "Wings" series was complex in the make-up of its world of faerie, I don't think that it could touch this in that aspect. I was never quite sure where Aprilynne was going to take the story next- for instance, I didn't know what paranormal beings the characters were (if any), who could be trusted, and so forth.

That being said, I wasn't a massive fan of the love triangle element of this book- I felt that it was near impossible to make a connection to Quinn and therefore it fell quite flat. Furthermore, when one of the paranormal elements of the storyline was revealed, I couldn't help but wish that it was more unique- it seemed a bit too similar to Lauren Kate's "Fallen" series for my liking. Last, after finishing it, I had the sense that, while a lot happened, not a lot did (what did happen seemed more so action-y than answer-y, very much along the lines of "answering questions with questions").

That being said, I do think that this is an extremely promising to Aprilynne's new series- it becomes evident that with each book she grows tremendously as an author- and, as I am sure that you can imagine, despite my complaints, I am more than excited to see what she has next in store for these characters. As such, I do highly recommend this book as I do think that overall she has done something a bit different than we have seen in the world of YA to this point.

Rating: 4/5

I received this book from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was not compensated in any way for said review.

Monday, July 15, 2013

"Quarantine: The Saints" by Lex Thomas

Release Date: July 9, 2013
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pages: 400

From Goodreads: "A cross between the Gone series and Lord of the Flies, Quarantine #2: The Saints continues this frenetically paced and scary young adult series that illustrates just how deadly high school can be.

Nothing was worse than being locked in—until they opened the door...
McKinley High has been a battle ground for eighteen months since a virus outbreak led to a military quarantine of the school. When the doors finally open, Will and Lucy will think their nightmare is finished. But they are gravely mistaken.

As a new group of teens enters the school and gains popularity, Will and Lucy join new gangs. An epic party on the quad full of real food and drinks, where kids hookup and actually interact with members of other gangs seemed to signal a new, easier existence. Soom after though, the world inside McKinley takes a startling turn for the worse, and Will and Lucy will have to fight harder than ever to survive.

The Saints brings readers back to the dark and deadly halls of McKinley High and the QUARANTINE series."

As becomes evident from the review of "Quarantine: The Loners", I wasn't a huge fan of- not feeling much of the plot, thinking it too far "out there". However, I am happy to say that I did start to come around it in this book and am overall quite glad that I did decide to continue on with the series. That being said, this book is not without its faults. 

I think that the biggest strength of this book are the characters- where in the previous book I don't feel like we truly ever got to know any of them, only seeing them for which gang they were a member of (ie. "The Sluts", "The Pretty Ones", and so forth) or for their actions (Sam, anyone?), in this book we truly do get a sense of who each of them are. Furthermore, I enjoyed this book because David,  the main character in the first, played very little, to any, part in this book- in the previous book I did, at times, feel like he dragged the story down. For instance, never did I expect to become such a fan of Violet, leader of "The Sluts", who is more likely to shank you than shake your hand or Will, David's younger brother, who was such an utter douchenozzle to him for much of "The Loners". 

Furthermore, I did find much of this book to be much more believable than the previous- not constantly shaking my head in disbelief at was going on. That being said, I do think that the first 3/4 of the book were much stronger than the last 1/4- because, again, the ending did get a but far-fetched for my liking (not to mention, extremely gory- for me to notice that means that it has to be excessively gory).

All in all, I think that fans of this series will be more than happy with this latest installment. For those who haven't read the series before, I highly recommend it if you are fans of Michael Grant's "Gone" series or fast-paced, high octane, thrillers. Despite my complaints I will be continuing on with this series- I'm especially curious to see where Lex Thomas takes the storyline next, especially with the large revelation at the end of this novel.

Rating: 3/5 

I received this book from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was not compensated in any way for said review. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

"Quarantine: The Loners" by Lex Thomas

Release Date: July 10, 2012
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pages: 416

From Goodreads: "It was just another ordinary day at McKinley High—until a massive explosion devastated the school. When loner David Thorpe tried to help his English teacher to safety, the teacher convulsed and died right in front of him. And that was just the beginning.

A year later, McKinley has descended into chaos. All the students are infected with a virus that makes them deadly to adults. The school is under military quarantine. The teachers are gone. Violent gangs have formed based on high school social cliques. Without a gang, you’re as good as dead. And David has no gang. It’s just him and his little brother, Will, against the whole school.

In this frighteningly dark and captivating novel, Lex Thomas locks readers inside a school where kids don’t fight to be popular, they fight to stay alive."

When I was offered this book to read and review I jumped at the chance to do so- why? Because, being a big reader of dystopian/ post-apocalyptic books, it sounded quite unlike any other book I have ever read before (plus, I think that all of us have those fantasies as children, about what we'd do if we were to ever be locked down in our local school or mall during some apocalyptic event). However, I found that excitement waning, becoming almost non-existent, the more and more I read.

My largest complaint about this book is that I feel like much of the plot was simply thrown in for the shock value, rather than for any plot development (and there was just SO MUCH of it going on, to me, it felt akin to Michael Grant's "Gone" series, in my opinion). Furthermore, as a reader of fiction, I know that oftentimes we have to suspend disbelief about what is happening in a storyline, but there were just so many times while reading this book I couldn't help but roll my eyes thinking, "Really? REALLY? You're going to go there/ You really think that that would happen?" Last, I am fine with gore, it doesn't bother me, however, even I, found that there was an excessive amount in this book.

That being said, it becomes evident that the duo that is Lex Thomas have imaginations like no other- as mentioned, their writing style is not unlike Michael Grant, arguably one of YA's current most popular male authors. Furthermore, I obviously liked the book enough to finish it (however, I won't be rereading it, it's going on my "to give away" pile).

All in all, while this book didn't quite "do it" for me, much of the plot being too "out there" or "cracked out for my liking, I do think that it will appeal to a lot of other YA readers- especially as it is quite inclusive, appealing to both male and female readers, of all ages, equally. Furthermore, despite my criticisms, I am curious to continue on with the series, if only to see how it wraps up (or to see how even crazier the authors can take the storyline).

Rating: 2/5

I received this book from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was not compensated in any way for said review.

Monday, July 8, 2013

ARC Review: "In Too Deep" by Coert Voorhees

Release Date: July 9, 2013
Publisher: Hyperion
Pages: 336

From Goodreads: "Annie Fleet, master scuba diver and history buff, knows she can’t fight her nerd status as a freshman at her Los Angeles private school. And she doesn’t care—except for the fact that her crush, Josh, thinks she’s more adorable than desirable. Annie is determined to set him straight on their school trip to Mexico. But her teacher has other plans: he needs Annie to help him find Cortez’s lost-long treasure.

Suddenly, Annie finds herself scuba diving in p
itch-black waters, jetting to Hawaii with Josh, and hunting for the priceless Golden Jaguar. But Annie and Josh aren’t the only ones lured by the possibility of finding the greatest treasure ever lost at sea. Someone else wants the gold—and needs Annie dead. In deeper danger than she ever imagined, can Annie get the boy and find the Jaguar, or is she in over her head?

Critically-acclaimed author Coert Voorhees delivers breathtaking romance and non-stop action in his newest novel, the spirited and captivating In Too Deep."

If the movies "Sahara" and "Fool's Gold" were to have a lovechild, this book would be it. While this should excite me, having thoroughly enjoyed both movies, I couldn't help but wish that this book was more. I thought that this book looked a bit too much like it's mother and father than I would have liked, not having any quirky or unique features- features that were truly it's own, that neither one of its parents could lay claim to.

Another aspect about this book I find myself conflicted about is how technical it was when referring to scuba diving. On the one hand, I appreciate that Coert didn't "dumb down" any of the content, as seems to be the norm in YA literature, however, on the other hand, I oftentimes found myself overwhelmed with all of the talk of o-rings, pressure gauges, and whatnot- at times entirely skimming over those parts.

That being said, I did really enjoy Annie's voice (though I did at times find it unbelievable that she was only fifteen years old, sounding much, much older than that)- something that is often unheard of for me when it comes to female characters. Furthermore, I did like the secondary characters of this book, Annie's best friends especially, as I thought that they helped to really balance out her somewhat serious/ overly mature demeanor.

All in all, despite my complaints, I do think that this is a perfect beach read, for both male and female readers (especially those who are fans of the aforementioned movies). Also, I do appreciate that this book could go both ways- either being a standalone or being the first in a series, all loose ends, but one (which has  very little to any impact on the overall storyline), being tied together by the end of the novel.

Rating: 3/5

I received this book from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was not compensated in any way for said review.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

"The Testing" by Joelle Charbonneau

Release Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Houghton
Pages: 336

From Goodreads: "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?
The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust."

Something that should be said of me? I hate when books are compared to best-sellers. Why? Because I feel that oftentimes there are very few to any similarities to the books (for instance, "The Selection" by Kiera Cass being marketed as "The Bachelor" meets "The Hunger Games")- that they are simply marketed as such for the sake of doing so. However, after having finished this book I cannot help but break my cardinal rule- comparing this book to one of the world's most popular YA books, "The Hunger Games".

I can't help but feel that the author knew that this book was going to be compared to "The Hunger Games" and yet she did nothing to rectify the fact/ make it march to the beat of its own drum. For instance, the world being divided into various districts (each of which is well known for excelling at something), creatures whose eyes shine humanity, mentors coming out of the most unlikely places, parcels from patrons which are quite literally the difference between life and death, and so forth. I think that had this book been more unique that it could very likely rise to the ranks of such best-sellers as the "The Hunger Games".

Another complaint I had about this book is Cia's voice- I found it to be devoid of any emotion. I thought that she was simply stating facts rather than truly engaging with anything around her- while reading her thoughts I couldn't help but be reminded of a tinny robot-voice narrating the book.

That being said, there were a number of twists in this book which truly made it for me- making me gasp aloud while reading of them/ keeping me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Furthermore, I did enjoy the relationships that the characters were able to form- that between Michal/Cia and Cia/Tomas (preferring them tenfold over Peta and Katniss) especially.

All in all, while this book wasn't quite as unique as I had hoped that it would be, I did like it enough to finish it. I think that this book is perfect for those suffering from "The Hunger Games" withdrawal and will appeal to male and female readers alike! Furthermore, despite my complaints I do think that I will continue on with this series- if only just to see how it wraps up.

Rating: 3/5

I received this book from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was not compensated in any way for said review.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

"Confederates Don't Wear Couture" by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Release Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Graphia
Pages: 240

From Goodreads: "Libby's best friend and fabulous fashion designer, Dev, hatches a plan to jet down South and hawk his period gowns to the wives and girlfriends of Civil War re-enactors. With a pang, Libby abandons her plan to visit her boyfriend, Garrett, in Boston and jumps at the chance to help run "Confederate Couture," and let her inner history nerd loose in a 19th century playground. But Libby and Dev aren't whistling Dixie for long. Between the constant travel from battle ground to dusty battle ground (with no Starbucks in sight, mind you), blistering heat, and a violent ghost set on romantic revenge, they quickly realize Alabama's no sweet home. And the boys. . . well, let's just say Libby's got the North and the South fighting for her attention. Confederates Don't Wear Couture is another hilarious, historical romp from Stephanie Kate Strohm!"

When I first received this book to read and review I was beyond excited as I did quite enjoy its predecessor, "Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink". I found "Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink" to be exactly what I needed at the time, a fun, flirty, and lighthearted read. However,  I must admit that I didn't like this book near as much as I did the previous.

My largest complaint about this book was lack of communication on the characters parts. Because the characters (Libby and Garrett, especially) lacked in communication, they were constantly jumping to conclusions- resulting in unnecessary (and frankly childish) results. Had the characters communicated with one another I don't think that 3/4 of this book would have existed.

That being said, I do appreciate the amount of research that Stephanie put into this book- I learned more about the Civil War (and its various battlefields) than I thought possible from a YA book. Furthermore, I do appreciate the humor in these books- humor stemming namely from Dev and from Cody (an overly cocky 14 year old with his eyes on Libby).

All in all, while this book didn't quite do it for me, I do think that those looking for a fun and quirky read (with a historical slant) will be more than happy with it. Furthermore, despite only being "meh" about it, I don't regret reading it as it did provide me with a few hours of entertainment- and I will read any future books that Stephanie may write in this series.

Rating: 2/5

I received this book from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was not compensated in any way for said review.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Cover Reveal: "Origin" by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Today I am excited to participate in the cover reveal of the fourth installment from one of my most favourite series- Jennifer L. Armentrout's "Origin"!

Daemon will do anything to get Katy back.

After the successful but disastrous raid on Mount Weather, he’s facing the impossible. Katy is gone. Taken. Everything becomes about finding her. Taking out anyone who stands in his way? Done. Burning down the whole world to save her? Gladly. Exposing his alien race to the world? With pleasure.

All Katy can do is survive. 

Surrounded by enemies, the only way she can come out of this is to adapt. After all, there are sides of Daedalus that don’t seem entirely crazy, but the group’s goals are frightening and the truths they speak even more disturbing. Who are the real bad guys? Daedalus? Mankind? Or the Luxen?

Together, they can face anything. 
But the most dangerous foe has been there all along, and when the truths are exposed and the lies come crumbling down, which side will Daemon and Katy be standing on? And will they even be together?

What are your thoughts? It's the tagline that personally did me in! 

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