Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Enclave- Ann Aguirre

It says right on the cover: For fans of The Hunger Games.
And I can see some similarities, but no, this is not The Hunger Games #4.
Enclave is about the post-apoc world of Deuce, who lives in an underground enclave.  Underneath New York City.
You know, in the subway tunnels.
And they say life above the underground, or Topside, as they call it, is much worse than life below.
So imagine living a life in which you never see the sun.
And you have to hunt rats for food.
And kill humanoid 'freaks' which attack like animals and eat humans and each other.
And you probably won't live to see 25.
And this is actually BETTER than living in the ruins of New York City?

Anyway, Deuce is a Huntress, and she gets paired with Fade as her hunting partner.  Fade is actually not from the enclave, but is from Topside, only he's not allowed to talk about it.  They're kind of strict in the enclave.  Don't want anyone to know what it's really like up there, because then what fun is there in exiling people?
Deuce is similar to Katniss Everdeen in many ways.  She is a Huntress who protects her enclave and feeds them, is extremely tough, but also has a soft spot.  She doesn't want to hurt anyone innocent but would kill to save them. She carries a club and daggers and uses them well. And Fade is a fierce Hunter, too, so they make a good team.
This book is full of action.  Life or death fights abound and you never know who to trust.  It has excellent sequences and there is the mystery of what happened to make the world the way it is.  The remaining humans have to fight to live, but according to Fade, there is a place up north where life is better.  
Enclave is so packed, it seems like saying anything about it will give everything away, and there are so many surprises I really don't want to spoil them for anyone because I enjoyed them so much. Enclave is a really good read.  It's great "for fans of the Hunger Games," as it says on the cover, but anyone who loves dystopian post-apocalyptic worlds or anything speculative about the future would enjoy this book.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Wither- Lauren DeStefano

I can't believe I didn't hear about this book sooner.
This is one of those dystopian future stories in which the world sucks because of something mankind did.  In this case, they tried to perfect the human race, but after the first generation of perfect, illness-free humans was born, all the children they gave birth to only lived to 25 if male and 20 if female.
That's not really enough time to have a productive life.  Plus, it means there are loads of orphans running around, since their parents die so young.
Rhine's parents were from that first generation, but as scientists, they were killed in a lab explosion, leaving her and her twin to fend for themselves.  Rhine feels that as long as she has her brother, she's okay, but then she gets kidnapped and taken to live in a Florida mansion as an architect's bride.
Or at least, one of his brides.  He has one already, but she's busy dying when he marries Rhine and two other teenage girls.
Rhine dreams of escape, though the mansion holds all sorts of wonders that she would never experience otherwise.  There are beautiful gardens, delicious food, servants galore, diamond studded gowns, all the trappings of a ridiculously wealthy life.  The only thing she doesn't have and the only thing she truly desires is her freedom.
While Rhine's husband, Linden, isn't a monster, and she generally gets along with her sister wives, Rhine is not happy and wants to go back to her twin in Manhattan to live out the last four years of her life. Linden's father Vaughn, however, is a sinister and foreboding first generation.  Rhine and her sister wife Jenna live in fear of this man, and when Rhine discovers secrets in the basement, he becomes all the more terrifying.
This is quite a good read; there is some romance, but since Rhine is 16 it's more confusion than anything else.  There's the ongoing threat of impending death and who knows what Vaughn is up to. There are memories of murders. This book is written well, with good pacing and a likeable heroine.  Rhine's mission to escape to her old life is carried out by her desire to become First Wife; the one who gets special treatment, and so she has to be somewhat deceitful, but she can't deceive everyone.  The characters change believably; young Cecily is the bride full of silly notions until she has a baby and then all she wants is to mother her child in peace. Jenna's dark past brings out the cynicism in her character, and Linden's pain turns into a sort of confused love, since he too is quite young and he has no idea what the world is really like.
In addition to the book being good, the cover is awesome! So this is one you would want to buy instead of borrow, for sure.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In the Arms of Stone Angels- Jordan Dane

I have to say, this book is rather fabulous.
Seriously.  I was completely hooked.
It's about a girl named Brenna who sees dead people and often spends the night in a cemetery.  She worries that maybe she's schizophrenic, and she hasn't been happy in two years.
That was when she saw her best friend standing with a knife over the body of a dead girl.  And ever since then, he's been in a catatonic state in a mental hospital, not even lucid enough for a trial.
No one much cares for Brenna; they all think she's a freak, and they don't like her friend, Euchee Indian White Bird.  So life is difficult for Brenna.  Being an outcast, she often doesn't get to have her say and is accused of things she didn't do.  She also is a target for the other people her age.

But after visiting White Bird in the hospital, she feels the need to find out what exactly happened and how to get White Bird out of his torment, even if it means going in the face of what other people want.
This book is suspenseful, and has a murder mystery wrapped around the supernatural.  There is a strong Native American influence which you don't see terribly often in YA for girls.  Sure, they had Quiluete Indians in Twilight, but believe me, this is COMPLETELY different and much more believable.
Reading this book is quite an experience.  It's nigh impossible to put down, completely engrossing, and subtly romantic.  The viewpoints of the other characters give you suspicions about what actually happened without really giving it away, and the conclusion is quite surprising, not to mention dramatic.
I felt like Brenna was similar to the main character in Numbers, which I reviewed not too long ago.  This girl also had a connection with death, though a different type of connection, and similarly feels unwanted.  Both of these books are excellent and suspenseful.
It took me a while to find this book in the bookstore, which is kind of depressing, because it's so good it really needs to be faced out on display.  This is certainly a book many people could enjoy, and shows that Harlequin Teen has struck gold again.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Here Lies Bridget- Paige Harbison

I read this book in one sitting.
Yes, one.
That is far less than it's taken me to read anything else lately.
I just couldn't stop reading (except to. . . well, you know, the usual) until I finished.
If only things like this could happen to the Mean Girl in real life.
So here we have Bridget, who is a total snot bitch selfish little git, and she runs the school, makes sure everything, all the time, is all about her, and can't understand why anyone would not absolutely adore the crap out of her. I mean, she's BRIDGET, HELLO PEOPLE!
Then a new girl shows up at the school.  Anna.  Anna has all the personality traits that make people like her.  She's also pretty and talented and is pretty much what Bridget wants to be, only, well, Bridget is mean, and Anna is nice to everyone. And so, people start voicing how much they dislike Bridget, and things happen to people that are at least in part the fault of Bridget, and Bridget tries desperately to hang on to her glory.
It doesn't work.  So Bridget considers suicide to make everyone feel bad about not absolutely adoring the crap out of her.
And then, that's when she gets hit with being in the shoes of the people she's hurt. And she starts to understand why they don't adore the crap out of her.
I said this should happen to all the mean girls we know and hate, but I don't think it would work on all of them.  See, Bridget wasn't always UberBitch.  She used to be a nice little girl who just got out of hand sometimes and got hurt by other mean girls.  And so empathy finds her again.
However, there are some mean girls who were always that way.  And I don't think any show of "Look what you did to him/her/them" would ever make them feel bad, and it might make them feel better. Yes, I have a certain one in mind when I write this, and no, I won't say her name.
But this book does make you wonder how you've affected other peoples' lives, whether intentionally or not.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Revelations- Melissa de la Cruz


As the title reveals, this book is about revelations within the Blue Bloods society. While Masquerade revealed many things, this book ends up revealing more in the end.

As usual, Mimi Force is a total bitch and Schuyler is still yearning for Mimi's immortally bonded twin, Jack Force.  She is now living in their ridiculously huge house because she is weirdly related to their father (yes, everyone is always weirdly related in these books; what with 'immortal bonds' and people not actually being other people's children but the blood of some immortal soul dumped in a body).

Schuyler's friend since childhood, Oliver Hazard-Perry (Way cooler a name than Jack Force; Oliver is hazard-ous) is still in love with her, so there is a sort of love quadrangle thing going on, and Bliss still likes the confusing person that is or isn't Dylan and isn't really friends with stupid Mimi anymore, and strange things are afoot.

Schuyler's grandfather runs off to Brazil because of some sort of Silver Blood threat, leaving her feeling somewhat neglected and so she turns to a somewhat . . . erm, illicit? affair with a certain someone in the quadrangle. 

It's actually quite hard to review this book without giving away the entire plot, so let's just say you'll be all sorts of "WTF?" when it gets towards the end.  De la Cruz does a good job of twisting people and plot around, making you second guess yourself and everything that happens in the story.  Since two of the girls have modeling careers, there is still some talk of clothing that you may or may not find at all interesting, but the constant brand name-dropping that was in the first book has pretty much . .. erm, dropped off. Instead, there is much more character development through plotting as opposed to what the characters are wearing, which is certainly a plus (but not a plus size. There is no one plus sized in this entire series, I swear.  They make me feel fat as a size 2, these Blue Bloods).

I'm most certainly looking forward to the rest of the series, but right now, so much has been revealed that I fear I must review something else next for the sake of variety. In the meantime, check out what's next for Schuyler:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Adding to the Prize Pack for 57 Followers!

I have decided to add ANOTHER book to the prize pack for 57 followers.  Not only will you be getting  a SIGNED copy of As You Wish by Jackson Pearce, I am also throwing in a copy of my recently reviewed The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (sorry, it's not signed, but it is brand new and shiny)! So that's TWO books you could win! And all you have to do is follow the blog and comment here, and you're entered!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Real Live Boyfriends- E. Lockhart

And finally, what appears to be the final Ruby Oliver book. E Lockhart has brought back the loveable and neurotic Roo for a fourth book, this one taking place during her senior year in the Tate Universe.
Roo thinks everything is great with her Real Live Boyfriend, but then they grow apart.  It's a communication thing, you know, since Roo doesn't explain things so that the male of the species has any idea what she's talking about (and sometimes the female as well). And males don't always explain things so anyone can understand them, so clearly, there are issues when they get together.
This book is just as delightful as the first three.  If Ruby Oliver was on facebook, her relationship status would probably always be, 'It's Complicated.'  And yet, some people still want her updates.
As you will note in the title, boyfriends is plural, so there are multiple boyfriends in the book.  And girlfriends, too.
Let's take a look at some completely out of context quotes, just for a laugh:

"I'm sorry I'm a gay Chinese penguin."

"Finn would never leave me crying on the street talking to a mailbox."

"Who would I be without my self-loathing?"

"I am excellent with goats."

So there.  As you can see, Roo is still up to her shenanigans.  Kim and Cricket are still horrible people all around, but there are other people who continue to not suck, and some who suck for a awhile and then stop sucking, and OMG!  Ruby's mother is INSANE!  It's like full on bonkers in this one, and Ruby is the one in therapy (I suppose she would be, after living with this crazy middle aged woman; I personally don't think I could take it)!?
And another nice thing about this book: Jackson already graduated.  GOOD BYE JACKSON!  HAVE FUN BEING A DOUCHE IN COLLEGE NOW!

It's a great book. Go.  Read it now. 

Unless of course you need to read these first:

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Haunted- Joy Preble

It's sequel time again!
Haunted is the follow-up to Dreaming Anastasia, which I reviewed a while back.  This book is a worthy successor, what with even more Russian folktale fun and lots of fun plot twists.
In this book, Anne has tried to move on from the Anastasia debacle with Baba Yaga from the first book.  Ethan ran off to Europe for a while, leaving Anne to date lifeguards and hang out with her friend Tess.  She's trying to have a normal life, but she's still having dreams and seems to have some powers that just won't go away.
So Ethan shows up again, and she's all, "Do I like him, do like him not?  Do I like Lifeguard Ben, do I like him not?" but then all this other stuff happens.  This mermaid keeps showing up and being creepy and trying to drown people, because that's what Russian mermaids, or rusalkas, do (they are very unlike Disney mermaids indeed).  Anne's mother is having issues with life, Anne is confused, Ethan is also confused, Lifeguard Ben is quite normal and seems completely out of place, the owner of the shop Anne and her mother works in turns out to be someone else, and then everything TWISTS.  All of a sudden, all kinds of stuff happens; things are revealed.  Everyone is taking everything very seriously, except of course for Tess, whose pragmatic sarcasm and insight is always a nice break from the angst of the other characters.  And there is angst.  Tess, of course, finds out about everything and takes it all in stride, while other people involved get upset.  I think Tess is one of the most likeable things about the book simply because she is so different from the other chracters.  Now, Anne is a strong character, don't get me wrong.  But since Anne is so serious, and the rest of them tend to be very serious too, Tess really stands out.  And she can be pretty funny.
There is plenty of suspense and action, as well as romance and relationship dynamics.  Baba Yaga is even an interesting and complex character, as well as the rusalka.  This books is definitely worth reading if you liked Dreaming Anastasia.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Winter's Passage- Julie Kagawa

Yup, still reading The Iron Fey!
Winter's Passage, an e-book novella that comes between The Iron King and Iron Daughter, is one of the small delights Harlequin Teen offers to fans.  Many of Harlequin Teen's series have short e-books which will be offered for free for certain periods of time, and then are sold (still as e-books only) for low prices.  I have reviewed some of these before- remember  Reaper, My Soul to Lose, and Raising the Dead ?  Those were all Harlequin Teen e-books too!
What these books do is fill in gaps between or before the main novels in the series. Winter's Passage tells of Ash and Meghan's journey from the human world to the Winter Court.  I enjoyed it because it develops the characters more and because it tells a story that might not otherwise be told.  But I don't think people who have not read  The Iron King  would particularly enjoy it since they would be a bit lost as to why things are happening.

To me, however, who HAS read The Iron King , it was delightful.  I got to see Ash and Meghan and Grimalkin again, and they were just as much fun as before (especially Grimalkin- there's just something about cat characters that can really steal the show).  This little free story I got to read on my cute little Kobo made me think, 'Oh! Whatever will happen next? I'm all pumped up for more fey!' and really introduces you to the Winter Court of Queen Mab- where all the fun in Iron Daughter will be taking place.
As in The Iron King, Winter's Passage is addictive and inspired- I felt like I was in the midst of multiple stories tumbled around in a fairy haze.
So far, there is one burning question for me: why do the fey absolutely HAVE to do what they swear they will?  What happens if they . . . don't? I mean, Ash swore to kill Puck, and they're still fighting it out because they HAVE to, it was SWORN, man, you can't go back on that! But of course, in the real world, I go back on what I say all the time and nothing really happens except maybe someone will get mad every once in a while.  But whatever fairy law they follow, which I suspect may not be answered because this is fantasy, is going to drive me nuts unless it is answered.
So, to sum up, Julie Kagawa, WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU LIE IN FAERYLAND?

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Iron King- Julie Kagawa

Yes!  I finally jumped on the IRON FEY bandwagon! 

I finished this delightful first novel last night after meaning to read it for, erm, over a year.  But now I'm in, so I get why everyone loves this series.

The Iron King is about a misfit high school girl named Meghan Chase.  She's your typical 'I don't fit in and no one likes me' girl and finds herself ridiculed at school and ignored by her stepfather at home.  She does, however, have a sweet little brother who is quite fond of her and a prankster friend named Robbie who lives down the road.

It's these two people who lead her to the Fey lands.  A changeling is put in place of her little brother, Ethan and she is determined to get him back.  So Robbie, who we find out is actually a classic fey character, takes her to the Fey lands to find him and bring him back.

This book kind of reminded me of lots of other stories.  Since I just watched  Labyrinth, I was reminded of that, since the main character goes to the land of goblins to get her baby brother back.  The difference between these characters is that Meghan actually LIKES her little brother and never wanted him to leave in the first place, whereas Sarah actually asked to have hers taken away.

I was also reminded of  Wondrous Strange, since there are some of the same fey characters and Kelley's relationship to these characters is similar to Meghan's.  In addition, I could see anime, steampunk, and classical fantasy elements in the story. Oh, and there's a little confused teenage romance-don't want to leave that out.

What I really liked was the actual Iron Fey.  This was pretty unique; the fey are made up of bits of technology; little metallic bugs scuttling around, piles and piles of old VCRs and tapes lying about, a king who was made of metal.  Now, iron is poison to most fey, so this is not good for those old dryads and piskies.
Altogether, what made this book so awesome was the way Kagawa took her inspiration from seemingly EVERYWHERE, yet still made an original and gripping story out of it.  Just like the Nevernever has bits of old technology lscattered about, Kagawa's ispiration is seemingly everywhere at once and you never know what you'll stumble upon next.  I am definitely looking forward to more of these books.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

New Contest- not by me, but OTHER PEOPLE!

I felt the need to let others know about this contest. I found out about it from Beth Revis, brilliant author of Across the Universe, which I reviewed in January.
THIS contest involves MULTIPLE prizes, including signed books and an ipod Touch.  So you definitely are very interested in it already.


Basically, by mentioning the contest, you get entries to win the six books pictured above . . signed.  If you participate in the iClue, you get chances to win the iPod Touch.
Personally, I thin it's worth it for Across the Universe signed alone, forget all the rest (though they are a nice addition, of course)!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Signed As You Wish Follower Collection Contest!

As mentioned in the previous email, I am going to be giving away a signed copy of Jackson Pearce's As You Wish to a follower once I reach 57 followers.

To keep it simple, I have decided that to enter, all you have to do is 'follow' the blog and leave a comment on this post saying something silly like, 'i want to win!  i'm the best! give it to me!' or, 'enter me plz?'  or however you want to me to know you are in the running.

This contest is open INTERNATIONALLY, meaning I don't care where you live; I'll ship it to you as long as it's on the planet.  I'm sorry, but I just can't afford shipments to Mars, so you'll just have to let that slide.

There is no time limit for the contest. So if it takes a year, it takes a year.  I'm hoping it won't, though; seeing as to how I want to get more followers and give out more prizes, I would like followers to sign up left and right.

So, current and future followers:  just leave a comment, any comment (as long as you don't say 'I don't want to win or something along those lines in your comment, you'll be entered), and let's see how fast we can get a winner!