Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Iron Daughter- Julie Kagawa

This is the second installment of Julie Kagawa's endlessly creative Iron Fey series, and I have to say, I was most certainly not disappointed.
Her first, The Iron King, was an excellent start to the series.
You can view my review of The Iron King  here.  I quite liked it, and you should too.
So now, Meghan Chase is sent to the Winter Court where Queen Mab hates her and she's confused as to whether Winter Prince Ash likes her or not because you know, royalty is like that, and then when they're fairies, they're even worse.
And then all sorts of stuff happens.  You know, like people betray each other and die and all that.  It's very exciting, to be sure.
Then Meghan has to go off to find a missing piece of fey importance to stop a war. This is when it gets really fun.
Along the way, she sees some old friends and an old enemy who has now become her friend, and they all work together with some outcasts from the fey world to try to and get the important thing back (no, I won't tell you what the important thing is; you just have to read it).
They end up spending time in the fey world, the human world, and the in-between world.
This book is an excellent follow up to The Iron King. While in the Iron King there was a lot of world building, The Iron Daughter takes off with exceptional plotting.  I honestly had no idea what would happen next or where they would end up or who they would meet.  Since they went to a few places they hadn't been before, there was some more world-building, but as in the first book, it was unique and inspired.  The little details in the book really made the characters and the world seem real.  There was more description of the various Iron Fey and how they affect the worlds (yes, worlds; that is not a typo). Meghan is a very likable character and I will warn you that whenever someone insults her you may feel indignant about it. She's realistic and easy to identify with; she's loving and protective, AND she has cahones (figuratively, of course).
I love Kagawa's faery world.  I just adore how inventive it is.  She takes old stories and gives them really interesting twists that you wouldn't expect.
I suggest that you get started on this series.  There's more coming, and it looks to be just as awesome as what we've gotten so far.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Four Hundred Days Social Network Contest

The goal behind this contest is to spread the word about Four Hundred Days as far as possible to as many people as possible.
Four Hundred Days is the second book in the Lor Mandela series by L Carroll. It’s a captivating trilogy that will keep you on the edge of your seat, turning pages, and asking for more.
And we have a contest!

 Win Game 7: Dead Ball by Allen Schatz

To Enter:
·         Tweet “Join us on the 400 Hour to @FourHundredDays blog tour (participants add your link to this contest here)
·         Leave a comment with the links.
Extra entries
·         Facebook about the contest. (+1 entry)
·         Change your Facebook Image to the 400 Hours to Four Hundred Days blog tour button for the duration of this tour.  (+3 entries)
·         Change your Twitter avatar to the 400 Hours to Four Hundred Days blog tour button for the duration of this tour. (+3 entries)
·         Blog about this tour. (+5 entries)
·         Grab the 400 hours to Four Hundred Days button and place it your blogs sidebar. (+3 entries)
·         Youtube about the 400 hours to Four Hundred Days tour. (+10 entries)
Contest Ends at 11:59 July 15th 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Birthday Giveaway!

So, my birthday is next week.  Also, it is my husband's birthday and our second anniversary. Yes, all on the same day.
To celebrate this trifecta of awesome, I am having a giveaway!

Yup, and all you have to do to win is follow the blog and comment.

But what will you win? 

In case you didn't notice the amazon link to Sisters Red, I will tell you that the prize is a signed hardback copy of Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce.

As you all know, a signed copy of a book is always better than an unsigned one.  The only case where this may not be true would be an e-book.  You can't really sign those.

This contest is open INTERNATIONALLY, meaning everyone can enter!  Huzzah!  I do this because I am worldly and generous even though international shipping IS more expensive.

This is how you enter:

1.  Follow my blog (+1).  If you've been a follower, you get an extra point (+2).
2.  Leave a comment on this post with your email.  Put it in this format: myname AT email DOT com (+1)
3.  If you tweet this contest, you get another point! Please leave me a link or your twitter name so I know you're not lying (+1).
4. Follow me on twitter (+1) for another entry.

So your total possible entries will be between 2 and 5.  Please add up your entries in your comment.  I will randomly select a winner from all entries on June 30, which is the day of the Awesome Trifecta.

Good luck!

Friday, June 17, 2011

If I Stay- Gayle Forman

First off, this book is absolutely NOTHING like Twilight. I know it says on the cover that it is, but THIS IS A LIE.
I don't know why people compare this book to Twilight.  There are no vampires, no werewolves, no "OMG swoon' moments, no shirtless Native American boys, and no sparkling.
This book would be more accurately compared to The Lovely Bones.  In both books, we have a girl watching how her death affects people but is separated from them.  However, in The Lovely Bones, Susie was killed right in the beginning and her family was left wondering what happened. In If I Stay, Mia's family is in a horrific car crash and she is watching herself from outside her body, seeing how her remaining family and friends react to her being in critical condition in the hospital. 
Basically, the premise of the book is whether Mia wants to fight to survive despite grievous losses, or if she wants to pass on like her parents and little brother.
It's not an easy decision, and at first she doesn't know what's going on.  She can't figure out why she's standing by her injured body and can't feel anything. But slowly she puts the pieces together.  As various family members and friends come to the hospital, she watches their reactions and listens to what they say to her unconscious body.  She sees the nurses and hears what the doctors say about her.  She sees herself on the operating table. As she watches, she remembers her life.  She thinks about the things she did with her family which she can never do again.  She thinks about her accomplishments and dreams.  She thinks about her boyfriend and her best friend.  She thinks about a funeral she went to. She thinks about the birth of her brother. 
The reader glimpses scenes from Mia's life interspersed with scenes of the hospital.  The setting and the writing are done extremely well. If I Stay is a bittersweet book, very touching and heartfelt, but also hard to put down.
I think the only similarity I can find between this and Twilight is that they're both set in the Pacific Northwest.  But they're not even the same state, so it's a very loose connection.
Oh, and guess what?  There's a sequel now!  Check it out!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cryer's Cross- Lisa McMann

I decided to read this book based on recommendations from people on the Twitter #YALitChat a few weeks ago.
And it was good too.
This book is a quick read and is sufficiently creepy and the main character is OCD.
OCD manifests in different ways.  I have a friend who compulsively cleans everything because of it, but Kendall, the main character in this story, has to have everything straightened a certain way and has to count things.
OCD really doesn't make sense to most people who do not have it. And it doesn't make sense to most of the people who know Kendall.
But her big problem, and the problem for most of the people in town, is the fact that some kids disappeared.
First it was a student named Tiffany.  Cryer's Cross is a tiny town with a one room school, but they still couldn't find her.
Then it hits closer to home when Kendall's best friend/boyfriend disappears.  The town goes through and searches again, but cannot find a single thing.  No evidence, no suspects, nothing.
This makes it harder for her to deal with her OCD.  On top of that, the soccer team is now too small to play against other schools, and soccer helped her control the OCD.  So she lost a friend and a favorite sport.
But one of her old neighbor's family just moved in to town.
At first, she's suspicious of them, but after a while, she gets to know them better.  She struggles with her feelings for the new soccer player extraordinaire and the guilt she feels over her friends' death.
Meanwhile, nobody has any idea what happened to the two teens.  Kendall starts having impossible suspicions and doesn't know if it's just her being crazy or if it's actually real.
There are secrets in Cryer's Cross.  Big secrets that have been all but forgotten.  But they may be the key to the missing teenagers.
This is the first book by Lisa McMann I've read, and I think I'll be reading more.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Torment- Lauren Kate

Okay, I put off reading this for a while due to the overwhelming number of other books I had to read and the fact that I wasn't POSITIVE it would be good.

I liked Fallen, but I didn't LOVE Fallen, but I felt the need to buy Torment because it's so pretty!!!!!! I even have a t-shirt with the cover on it because yes, I am THAT DORKY.

I started out listening to it on audio book. I've been listening to audio books in my car to cram in more reading time.  And for this one, I actually liked the narrator.  Her name is Justine Eyre, and she had a pleasant voice and could change her voice enough that most of them time you could tell which character was talking.

But after I think about CD #5, I decided I couldn't wait till I had to go somewhere to finish the book. So I just found my place in my old-fashioned hardback copy.

This continues the story of Luce and her angel boyfriend who is cursed to fall in love with her reincarnated self over and over and then watch her die soon after.

 It's very tragic.

What I loved about this book was that Luce starts to question their relationship.  Sure, they've been together thousands of times over the years, but she doesn't remember that.  Only Daniel does.  She feels all swoony when she's with him, but other than that, he doesn't tell her much of what is going on.  They don't talk that much, and so their relationship is based on things Luce has no knowledge of.  And the more she thinks about it, the worse she feels.

She's sent to a school in California, where they have a special program for nephilim (part angel/part human) students and so starts learning about things.  The shadows that used to scare her, she finds, are actually announcers.  They come to her with views of things in the past which pertain to her in some way.  She starts manipulating them, trying to find out about her tragic past, and then starts feeling worse.  All these families and friends she's had over the years have been devastated by her untimely death, over and over again. Thousands of times, thousands of people.  And she feel bad that it's because of her love for Daniel and his for her that this keeps happening.

Were I Luce, I would of course get caught up in the whole tragic love that lasts millennia, but when I really thought about what happens, I'd feel like it would be fair to myself and everyone else I love were I to break this pattern, leave Daniel to himself, and go find someone safe to love so I could be happy and avoid hurting so many other people.

So Luce is struggling with this and with not knowing what's going on with this demon and angel war, and who is on which side, and what the HELL is going on.  Meanwhile, she's been making friends at her new school, one who is a sweet nephilim boy who really likes her.  This means there's more of that teenage angsty romantic confusion we all know and love.

I also liked this one better than Fallen because it had less religious overtones and made the whole thing seem like some kind of paranormal fantasy war that  wasn't about who was baptized and who wasn't.
I found the ending of the book interesting, and I'm glad the next one, Passion will be out soon. 

It has a pretty cover too.

Friday, June 10, 2011

If I Die- Rachel Vincent

There are no words that can truly describe how amazing this book was.
I've been a Soul Screamers fan since the beginning, but this one totally blew them all away.
It all began with My Soul to Take.  I got a copy from a friend of mine and was immediately hooked. After reading My Soul to Save, I was in love. Then I read My Soul to Keep and I accidentally got addicted to Demon's Breath (okay, so I didn't but some other people did). By the time I got to My Soul to Steal, I had one of those compulsive obsessions not unlike the one I had with Harry Potter.
If I Die has made Soul Screamers my #1 Top Favorite Series.
Upon receiving my advance copy, I soon devoured the story, unable to stop reading. This book makes a huge turning point for the series, and there was so much going on that I couldn't get it out of my head.
Kaylee, in this book, finds out that she's on the reaping list, soon to die.  Tod is the bringer of bad news in this instance since he is a reaper and is privy to this sort of information.  While her father tries to figure out a way to keep her alive, Kaylee is trying to do the things she wants to do before her demise.  Nash is terribly upset all the time, Sabine is over the moon that Kaylee will soon be out of the way, and Emma is just sad about it.  However, Kaylee is very concerned about the new teacher at school.  After discovering the evil this teacher is capable of, Kaylee becomes determined to keep him from hurting her friends.
Needless to say, Kaylee is under a lot of stress.  She only has a short period of time in which to finish living her life, and being Kaylee, she is more concerned with the lives of the people she loves than her own (though it does concern her quite a bit).
She has to seek help from her friends, and ends up spending a lot of time with Tod, since he is able to do things her living friends are not.
She also makes a visit to someone from her past, and we finally get to find out what sort of creature this person is (I've been wondering what this character's deal was since she showed up in My Soul to Lose).
This book is immensely satisfying, full of action, plot twists, and new developments that you never saw coming.
I would rate this book 27 out of 5 stars.
Yes. It was THAT good.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Girl in the Steel Corset- Kady Cross

I wasn't sure I would like this book.  But if you recall, I did read The Strange Case of Finley Jayne recently and thoroughly enjoyed it, so of course I HAD to read The Girl in the Steel Corset.
And I was not disappointed.
This books was rollicking- yes, rollicking, and bloody good fun. I loved the setting, not only because I'm a former Londoner but because Kady Cross' mix of history and fantasy was done so bloody well (they say 'bloody' a lot in this book).
This is a Steampunk novel, which means it's in a sort of Jules Verne-esque Victorian world with a few scientific adjustments.  You know, they have flying machines based on steam technology and robots which use some sort of ore from the center of the Earth.
Yes, there are characters (most of whom are now dead) who went to the center of the Earth. I know.  That's too awesome for words.
Oh, and the characters!  I love them!  Of course, Finley Jayne is still a kick ass girl, Victorian Wonder Woman Extraordinaire, so it's impossible not to like her.  You might think, "but, if she's SO kick ass, wouldn't that make her a one dimensional character?" but you would be WRONG.  Horribly wrong.  Finley actually has two selves, one who is a nice but strong young woman, the other which can rip off the arm of an automaton and beat it to death with it.
We are introduced to a whole new set of characters as well.  There is the Duke, Griffin, who is very busy carrying out fascinating experiments; his friends- Emily the Mechanical Genius, Sam the Freakishly Strong,  Jasper the Super Fast Cowboy, and his telepathic aunt. Griffin also has interesting abilities as well.
There are also nefarious characters.  We've got the notorious Machinist who is running around making robot attacks, Felix the Jerkwad who tries to seduce Finley only to get punched in the face, and Jack Dandy, the cockney crimelord with sex appeal.
The cast of characters even includes Queen Victoria!
In some ways this book reminded me of the TV show Heroes.  All these people have special mutant abilities and are trying to make a difference in the world.  Since I loved the ever-loving crap out of that show, it was really no wonder that I loved this book.
If you aren't yet convinced that you must read this book pronto, I would also like to add that there are fantastic fight scenes, really fascinating Victorian science (they use the Aether!  I think Einstein disproved that, but since this is pre-Einstein, it works), love triangles, spectacular conspiracies, and croissants.  You just can't go wrong there.
So try it out.  See how much you like it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

In Defense of YA

So, the Wall Street Journal just published an article about how depraved contemporary YA fiction is.
The author, Meghan Cox Gurden, comes down on YA fiction, including some I've read and enjoyed, saying that it's violent and immoral.
She lectures that teens shouldn't be exposed to things like suicide, murder, sexuality, and rape in books.
One of the books she mentions as an example of the current depravity of YA is Jackie Morse Kessler's Rage.
Personally, I think Rage is an excellent book for teens.  It shows how nasty they can be to each other and how the way they act can affect other people.  It gives a face to the 'cutter' who mutilates herself to let out emotional pain, a person who is almost unanimously shunned and misunderstood.  But in Rage, this person is shown as an actual person, not an unwanted diagnosis about which we'd like to just forget.  When I found out this book was coming out, I was ecstatic.  Finally, someone was showing how a self-mutilator felt!  Maybe people who read it would actually develop compassion for this person instead of disgust.
But Gurden does not feel this way.  She would rather have us close the eyes of teens to the suffering of other teens.
Next to the article which shuns YA fiction is a list of books that are supposedly 'okay' for teens to read.  Under this list is Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.
Just in case you live under a rock and have never heard of this book, it's basically about how we shouldn't censor books.  It condemns people who would have everyone's eyes closed to the knowledge that comes from books.
Does anyone else smell a hypocrite?
I would like everyone to remember their high school English classes.  Chances are, you read or were exposed to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet at this point in time.  This play which we have been forced to read for centuries depicts two teens whose families hate each other.  There is murder and hatred in this play, and in the end there's the double suicide of Romeo and later Juliet, who decided that they can't live without one another. I actually hate this play.  I think Romeo and Juliet were stupid because they barely knew each other and yet they still think that the death of the other is a good reason to off themselves. And in the end, this suicide brings the families together, which to me seems unrealistic.  I would think that the suicide would make them more likely to play the blame game with each other like they have been doing all their lives.
There have been couples who have copied the actions of these two teens over the years, but no one ever thinks that maybe it should be taken off the reading list.  And yet, the fact that there are YA books which feature suicidal teens is apparently wrong to Mrs Gurden.  Being exposed to classic suicide is somehow better than being exposed to something many of their classmates actually feel?  Really? Would I be more enlightened if I thought suicide was just something people did for love than I would be were I to think that maybe lonely, depressed, or ridiculed classmates of mine might actually be considering suicide?
I really don't think I would.
When I recall being a teenager, I remember that I didn't read YA that often.  I read books for adults. Also, I was suicidal and a self-mutilator. 
I felt very alone.  It seemed to me that no one understood how I felt.  I never read about people feeling what I was feeling and none of my classmates seemed to feel how I was feeling either. Perhaps if I had read books like Rage as a teen, I would have felt like maybe I wasn't that alone.  Maybe if my peers read that book, they would somehow understand how I felt to some degree.  It seems to me now that Kessler wants her readers to understand this too.  In fact, a portion of the proceeds from this book actually goes to a charity meant to help people with this type of problem.
So should I really think that Kessler's book is a bad thing?  That this book is making teens depraved and full of darkness that they shouldn't be feeling?
Did Gurden not read the author's note in the back of the book?  Or does she think people with mental illness should not be helped because it might have some sort of effect on those children lucky enough to not have mental illness?
I honestly do not know what this woman thinks about people with mental illnesses.  All I know about her is that she seems to think that teens can't handle this sort of thing in book form.   I do know that many teens have mental illnesses and feel utterly and completely alone and that this feeling makes their mental state even worse.
Being a teenager is hard.  It always is and it always was.  This is why we need YA which discusses issues faced by teens.  YA helps us understand other people.  YA saves.