Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Black History Month Giveaway Hop!

Welcome to the Black History Month Giveaway Hop hosted Hosted by Reflections of a Bookaholic & Mocha Girls Read. This hop runs from Feb. 1-7.

For this hop, I’m giving away a copy of The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan. I love young adult novels and The Red Pyramid features biracial siblings and Egyptian mythology. I really liked this book and you can read my review here. My giveaway of a copy of Living Violet, an awesome paranormal YA novel by the fabulous African-American author Jaime Reed is also still open. Just click here to enter.

For the Black History Month Giveaway, follow the Rafflecopter instructions for the form below and good luck!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Book Review: Neuromancer

Release Date: Originally published in 1984
Publisher: Ace Books
Pages: 271 pages
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: Library
Goodreads Summary: Case was the hottest computer cowboy cruising the information superhighway—jacking his consciousness into cyberspace, soaring through tactile lattices of data and logic, rustling encoded secrets for anyone with the money to buy his skills. Then he double-crossed the wrong people, who caught up with him in a big way—and burned the talent out of his brain, micron by micron. Banished from cyberspace, trapped in the meat of his physical body, Case courted death in the high-tech underworld. Until a shadowy conspiracy offered him a second chance—and a cure—for a price....
Neuromancer is a sci-fi classic hailed by some to be the most important and influential science fiction novel of the past two decades. It has received tons of awards and there is even a movie being made based on it. While I agree the book is revolutionary (I am amazed this was written in 1984), I found this book confusing, choppy and some portions of it downright distasteful.

The main character, Case, is a brilliant computer hacker who stole from his employers and they in turn maimed him by inserting a microtoxin into his nervous system, rendering him unable to jack into the cyberspace known as the matrix. Unable to find a cure, Case is now a depressed, drug addicted, suicidal hustler working in the futuristic city of Chiba City, Japan.

Case is approached by Molly, a technologically enhanced mercenary working for an ex-military leader named Armitage. Armitage promises to fix Case’s neurotoxin problem if Case pulls off a big hacking job for him. Case is so anxious to be able to jack into cyberspace again, he agrees without knowing the full nature of the job.

In my humble opinion, William Gibson’s brilliance lies in his ability to so adeptly portray cyberspace and the matrix at a time when the full nature of the capabilities of the internet were in their infancy. Remember, he wrote this book in 1984. The gritty underbelly of the sprawl in Chiba City and the excessive wealth of the orbiting community of Freeside are well described and give you a feel for what it would be like to live in this technologically advanced future where almost everyone is ‘upgraded.’

My issues with the book lay with the confusing terminology, jarring way the scenes jump around and most importantly, the characters. Case, our anti-hero, is a hacker, a thief who worked for other thieves. To fix the issue that prevents him from stealing some more, he steals again. I’m not talking about a Robin Hood like character here folks, Case steals to benefit himself alone. He is not a very sympathetic character and seems to only care about the success of his jobs, not the repercussions of them. The only humanity that Case shows is that he is angry about the death of his sorta girlfriend Linda Lee, and when he could have left Molly to die when she gets caught up in the job, he goes in to save her.

As for Molly, she is unlikable as well. She’s a mercenary who kills people for a living. She paid to have heavy technological advancements surgically placed in her body that she financed through prostitution, a job she thought had it pleasant moments. As for relationships, there aren’t really any in the book. Case and Molly talk about the job, their boss and have sex. It isn’t until two-thirds of the way through the book that Molly tells Case that she is attracted to him because he reminds her of her murdered lover, Johnny (from the short story Johnny Mnemonic that Gibson wrote as well). Of course, she does not tell him in person but opts to talk with him when he is jacked into her nervous system through an implant. It’s a one-way conversation because while he can hear her, she can’t hear him. Case and Molly never have an intimate, face-to-face conversation about their relationship.

As for Case’s anger over Linda’s death, I’m still not sure about the exact nature of their relationship. I get the impression that Case and Linda were together at one point but they were now broken up and Linda was desperate to get his attention. If Case cared about Linda so much after she died, he should have treated her better when she was alive. The other characters in the book are a lot more despicable than Case and Molly and very easy to hate.

Neuromancer took a long time for me to read and because I’m such a character driven reader, it was hard for me to like this book. The first two-thirds of the book were deadly for me and I had to force my way through the slang and techno-babble but it did get a little better towards the end when the mastermind and purpose behind the job were revealed. There are also some dark and twisted parts of the story and because I am a very visual person, I am now trying to scrub my mind’s eye to get rid of some of these images. I know Neuromancer is a cult classic and I see the appeal for others, but this was definitely not for me. 

Content: Graphic sex, heavy profanity, heavy violence and gore, heavy drug and alcohol use, prostitution and implied incest. I don’t recommend it for anyone under 18.

My Rating: Disappointing

Sunday, January 29, 2012

In My Mailbox #8

In My Mailbox was created by Kristi at The Story Siren. I am SO excited about this week’s books and a huge thank you to Kensington for the review books and my awesome library for the rest. I have been dying to get my hands on all of these!

For review:
Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont (Thank you, K-Teen!)
Storm by Brigid Kemmerer (Thank you, K-Teen!)

From the library:
The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams
A Million Suns by Beth Revis
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey

What did you get in your mailbox this week? 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Giveaway: Living Violet by Jaime Reed

The first giveaway of the 2012 Muti-Cultural Book Challenge is of Living Violet by Jaime Reed (check out my review here) and while it was originally only for challenge participants, KM at One Page At a Time and I have decided to open the giveaway to everyone. However, if you do take part in the challenge, you will have more entries in the giveaway. You can sign up for the challenge here.

To enter the giveaway, just follow the Rafflecopter directions below and good luck!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Ironskin

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming novels we can't wait to read. This week’s choice is:

Publisher: Tor Books
Publish Date: Oct. 2012
Genre: Fantasy
Goodreads Summary: Jane Eliot wears an iron mask.

It's the only way to contain the fey curse that scars her cheek. The Great War is five years gone, but its scattered victims remain -- the ironskin.

Now Jane returns to the war-torn country to help a fey-cursed child. Helping the unruly Dorie suppress her curse is hard enough -- she certainly didn't expect to fall for the girl's father, the enigmatic artist Mr. Rochart. But her blossoming crush is stifled by her own scars, and by his parade of women. Ugly women, who enter his closed studio -- and come out as beautiful as the fey.

Jane knows he cannot love her, just as she knows that she must wear iron for the rest of her life. But what if neither of these things are true? Step by step Jane must unlock the secrets of her new life -- and discover just how far she will go to become whole again.
Why am I waiting on Ironskin? The summary had me at fey curse and Great War, but the awesome cover really sealed the deal. What books are you waiting on?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Book Review: The Merchant’s Daughter

Release Date: Nov. 29, 2011
Publisher: Zondervan
Pages: 304 pages
Genre: Historical, Christian
Source: Publisher through NetGalley
Goodreads Summary: An unthinkable danger. An unexpected choice. Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of Lord Ranulf's bailiff---a revolting man who has made unwelcome advances on Annabel in the past. Believing that life in a nunnery is the best way to escape the escalation of the bailiff's vile behavior and to preserve the faith that sustains her, Annabel is surprised to discover a sense of security and joy in her encounters with Lord Ranulf. As Annabel struggles to confront her feelings, she is involved in a situation that could place Ranulf in grave danger. Ranulf's future, and possibly his heart, may rest in her hands, and Annabel must decide whether to follow the plans she has cherished or the calling God has placed on her heart.
I’m a sucker for fairytale retellings and when I saw that The Merchant’s Daughter was from a Christian author and publisher, I knew I had to read it. The Merchant’s Daughter is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in England during the fourteenth century.

As the title implies, Annabel was born the daughter of a wealthy merchant and was raised with money and privilege. The story suggests that Annabel’s father doted on her and indulged her, even allowing her to learn to read which was rare for most people and especially for women at that time. Annabel’s family looses their wealth when their ships are lost at sea and her father dies from the plague. Now 17-years-old, Annabel gets lots of unwanted attention from men who want to take advantage of her beauty and the idea that she must be desperate to marry so she can return to the lifestyle she was accustomed to.

Annabel’s mother and two older brothers are selfish, lazy and manipulative. In order to save the family home, Annabel volunteers to become an indentured servant to lord of the area, Ranulf, the story’s ‘beast.’ Ranulf is a rich man who has been scarred from a childhood encounter with a wolf. His first wife married him for his money and then rejected and cheated on him, telling him that no woman could ever love him because of how he looks. Ranulf is angry, bitter and especially unkind to Annabel because, like his wife, she is pretty. Annabel hates the kind of lecherous attention she gets from men and wants to go to a convent where she can read and study the bible. Both characters feel intense betrayal from their families and both need to love and be loved in order to be made whole.

Annabel and Ranulf are very likable and you root for them to find happiness after so much loss and betrayal. The romance between these two is well developed as we see how they get to know each other’s hearts through Annabel’s nightly Bible readings to Ranulf. There are very strong Christian elements throughout the story as we see how God heals both physical and emotional hurts and how He wants what’s best for us; we only have to trust Him. This being a story of Beauty and the Beast, we also see how a person’s good character always trumps the physical appearance.

The Merchant’s Daughter is a quick and romantic read that I recommend to anyone who likes sweet love stories, fairytales or Christian fiction. I enjoyed this and look forward to other books by Dickerson.

Content: Kissing, attempted rape and some violence.

My Rating: Really Good!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

In My Mailbox #7

In My Mailbox was created by Kristi at The Story Siren. A few weeks ago, I won a copy of Clockwork Prince and after hearing from so many of you that this series is awesome, I got Clockwork Angel from the library so I can start it. These are books I received over the last two weeks:

From the library:
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey

For review (all e-galleys this week):
Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter (Thank you, Harlequin)
Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown (Thank you, Delacourte Press)
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Thank you, Random House)

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Thank you, Feiwel & Friends and Goodreads) 

What did you guys get in your mailboxes this week?


Congratulations to Tiff Pull who is the winner of the Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop. The winner, chosen by Random.org, has been contacted. Thank you to everyone who participated! As always, I have more giveaways coming up so make sure you stop by and enter.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Book Review: Touch of Power

Release Date: Dec. 20, 2011
Publisher: Mira
Pages: 304 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Publisher through NetGalley
Goodreads Summary: Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan absorbs their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Fifteen Realms, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.

Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life...
I’m a fan of Maria V. Snyder. Poison Study and Inside Out are two books I absolutely love so I was excited to see that she has a new fantasy series for me to get lost in. Touch of Power is classic Snyder and it does not disappoint.

No doubt, Snyder is a master at world building. The plague ravaged Fifteen Realms is in shambles and the political leaders that are left alive are scrambling to grab as much power and territories as they can. Avry, who has been hiding and on the run for years, becomes a pawn in this political game. Throw in characters with special magical abilities and carnivorous flowers big enough to swallow a person whole and you have an unputdownable book that will keep you absolutely engaged to the end.

Speaking of characters with special abilities, Avry’s healing is very cool. She is also snarky and having the story told from her perspective is a treat. My only complaint is that at times, Avery’s narration is a bit too modern and out of place with the rest of the fantasy setting. Still, I love Avry, she is definitely another wonderful and memorable character that Ms. Snyder has created.

Kerrick is a huge jerk at the beginning of the book. He’s a brooding kill-joy and a bit of a bully at first, but thankfully, he fully redeems himself by the end. While I know I shouldn’t, I did compare him to Valek from Poison Study and while I don’t love him as much as Valek, Kerrick does have his own kind of awesome going for him. The secondary characters are very well written as well. Kerrick’s men are so lovable and the bad guy is especially pervy and awful. He is definitely the guy you love to hate.

As an escapist reader, I really enjoyed getting lost in another of Maria Snyder’s fabulous worlds. I highly recommend this book to fantasy lovers everywhere, and even if you don’t usually read fantasy, you should try Touch of Power. It’s that good! 

Content: Kissing, sexual situations, implied sex (no detailed descriptions) and violence. This is not a YA novel and most of the characters, including Avry and Kerrick, are in their twenties. I don't think it is appropriate for younger teens but older, more mature teens should be fine.

My Rating: The Best!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Author Interview: Jaime Reed, Living Violet

I very happy to welcome Jaime Reed, author of the YA novel, Living Violet and The Cambion Chronicles series. I reviewed (and loved!) Living Violet yesterday, click here to read my review.

Me: Welcome Jaime. How did you come up with the idea for LIVING VIOLET

JR: It’s a lot of things, actually. I can’t really pinpoint one specific burst of inspiration. I just remember thinking about supernatural creatures and how normal people would react if they came across one, as oppose to what you usually read about. The creature mentioned in the story actually came from my love of vampires and their origins, and it kinda snowballed from there. As far as settings and world building, it’s a collection of life experiences and living in my home town.

Me: Where did you get the inspiration for the characters?

JR: Life. I love to people-watch and study nuances of a person’s personality. But most of the characters are bits and pieces of people I know, friends, and family. It’s funny when they come to me after reading the book and try to guess which character they are. They find it flattering.

Me: Which character from the book is your favorite?

JR: I don’t really have a personal favorite, but I do have a strange crush on Robbie Ford. He has the smallest role in the entire story, but I’m in love with him. I have no idea why. He’s kinda pervy.

Me: I see the attraction. Boys who are master hackers and can throw epic parties dressed only in a silk bathrobe and boxers fascinate me. I hope we see more of him in the sequel.

Me: What do you have in store for The Cambion Chronicles? How many books are planned for the series?

JR: I signed on with my publisher for three books, so it’s definitely going to be a trilogy, but you never know. Stranger things have happened.

Me: I read in your bio that you try to create characters who are people of color. Please tell us more about your motivation behind the decision and why it’s important to have characters of different backgrounds in YA fiction.

JR: Oh, that’s a tough one. Well, simply put, there are hardly any people of color in the genre. There are some in contemporary YA fiction; they even have their own sub-category, but none in the paranormal arena. My question is ‘why?’ Why the segregation? Does the supernatural only happen to those of a certain ethnicity? Why can’t a person of color be the hero instead of a side character with little to no purpose? Good and evil comes in all shades and I believe in equal- opportunity monsters. I want to even things out a bit and introduce different cultures to a wider audience. I wanted to write a book where my twelve-year-old niece could read it and say “Wow, she’s just like me.”

Me: Do you read the same genre as you write? What are you currently reading?

JR: It’s so weird. When I was a teenager, all I read were adult books, but now that I’m in my 30’s, all I seem to read these days are teen books. I could play it off and say it’s for research and inspiration, but that would be only half true. I’m not really reading anything right now, but I have a list of debut novels that I plan to dive into around February.

Me: What other projects are you working on at this time?

JR: I have a contemporary YA piece on the back burner and another paranormal series on hold. But for the time being, I’m focusing solely on The Cambion Chronicles. Once I finish with that, I’ll be open to just about anything.

Me: Thank you, Jaime!

Contact Jaime on Twitter, her blog, or on Facebook.

Living Violet is an awesome book and it is our January giveaway for the Multi-Cultural Book Challenge. Make sure you sign-up and participate for a chance to win.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Book Review: Living Violet

Release Date: Dec. 27, 2012
Publisher: Kensington
Pages: 304 pages
Genre: Paranormal
Source: Publisher
Goodreads Summary: He's persuasive, charming, and way too mysterious. And for Samara Marshall, her co-worker is everything she wants most--and everything she most fears. . .

Samara Marshall is determined to make the summer before her senior year the best ever. Her plan: enjoy downtime with friends and work to save up cash for her dream car. Summer romance is not on her to-do list, but uncovering the truth about her flirtatious co-worker, Caleb Baker, is. From the peculiar glow to his eyes to the unfortunate events that befall the girls who pine after him, Samara is the only one to sense danger behind his smile.

But Caleb's secrets are drawing Samara into a world where the laws of attraction are a means of survival. And as a sinister power closes in on those she loves, Samara must take a risk that will change her life forever. . .or consume it.
I read lots of paranormal books and while I love them, I'm always looking for something different to shake up my reading routine. I was very pleasantly surprised and rewarded by Living Violet because there is nothing cookie cutter about this book. There is no high school angst, no love triangle and absolutely no insta-love. Living Violet is original, well paced and a completely enjoyable read.

I'm a character driven reader and Samara is an awesome main character. The book is told from her perspective and she is very likable. Jamie Reed writes relationships well and I love how she portrays Samara’s relationships with her parents and friends. Samara is a smart, responsible, take-no-nonsense kind of girl and her personality stays true throughout the book.

By far, my favorite part of the book is Samara’s voice. She is witty, funny and sarcastic. Samara is the kind of girl I would want to be friends with, and as a matter of fact, her honest (and humorous) outlook on life’s situations reminds me of some of my own friends.

I also love how Caleb’s character is developed. We are not sure about Caleb at first. We know there is something different about him but we don’t know if he is a good or bad guy. I love the unique paranormal elements of the story and the big reveal was worth the wait. I don’t think I have read another YA book about this subject before.

Living Violet exceeded my expectations and with its diverse and interesting cast of characters, it’s the perfect book to kick-off the Multi-Cultural Book Challenge. I raced through this book and I am dying for the sequel, Burning Emerald, which comes out in May.

Tune in tomorrow when I interview Jaime Reed on Living Violet and other projects she is currently working on.

On a side note: I love that the author is lighthearted enough to poke a little fun at the YA paranormal romance genre with the Specter (a fictional novel mentioned in the book) references. There are more than a few lines in this book that made me laugh out loud, in a really good way.

Content: Some profanity, sexual discussions, attempted rape, kissing and violence.

My Rating: Really Good!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Book Review: The Gathering Storm

Release Date: Jan 10, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pages: 400 pages
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Source: Publisher through NetGalley
Goodreads Summary: St. Petersburg, Russia, 1888. As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. No one knows. Not her family. Not the girls at her finishing school. Not the tsar or anyone in her aristocratic circle. Katerina considers her talent a curse, not a gift. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue.

An evil presence is growing within Europe's royal bloodlines—and those aligned with the darkness threaten to topple the tsar. Suddenly Katerina's strength as a necromancer attracts attention from unwelcome sources . . . including two young men—George Alexandrovich, the tsar's standoffish middle son, who needs Katerina's help to safeguard Russia, even if he's repelled by her secret, and the dashing Prince Danilo, heir to the throne of Montenegro, to whom Katerina feels inexplicably drawn.

The time has come for Katerina to embrace her power, but which side will she choose—and to whom will she give her heart?
With the combination of historical and paranormal elements plus a beautiful cover, The Gathering Storm is the kind of book I adore. In theory. In reality, this book did not deliver for me like I wanted it to.

Prior to reading, I thought The Gathering Storm was a historical novel with some paranormal elements, but it’s more of a paranormal novel in a historical setting. Almost all the characters are fey, witches, vampires, werewolves, zombies or necromancers with our main character, Katerina, being one of the most powerful necromancers in Russia.

The historical setting of Tsarist Russia is wonderful: the balls, glittering jewels and gorgeous dresses are wonderfully described. Robin Bridges also does a good job of introducing really interesting folklore to the story line and for using real people from history in her story. These are the elements that I liked. Unfortunately, there are more that I did not.

Katerina has known about her supernatural ability since she was a child and she has taken great care to hide it from everyone. She is a person of science, wanting to be a doctor, an occupation that was not thought to be inappropriate for a woman at that time. While Katerina is book smart and has bravely chosen and unpopular occupation (which I admire), she does some really stupid things.

She has a hard time believing that other supernatural beings exist even though as a necromancer, she is one of them. She is repeatedly warned about a certain family and seen members of the family doing evil things including hurt her own family and friends, yet she still hangs out with them so as not to upset them. Katerina is also specifically warned that a certain boy is evil and is given a talisman to help protect her from him, but she falls victim to him anyway because she only wears the talisman sporadically. She gets really angry at people who tell her she can’t be a doctor because she is a woman, but is annoyingly meek to the people who blackmail, kidnap, drug and use her as a blood donor for their crazy rituals.

Most of these issues stem from Katerina believing that she can fix everything herself and refusing to tell those close to her what’s going on or ask for help. I’m so frustrated with book-smart girls who make dumb decisions and bury themselves in deeper and deeper. You know this girl, she has been showing up more and more in YA books lately.

I don’t like bashing books, especially from hard working debut authors, so I won’t keep nitpicking at all the things that frustrated me about The Gathering Storm. While it’s not a bad book, it had all the ingredients to be an awesome read, it just did not deliver for me. I think I’m so disappointed because I had such high expectations for it. If you read it without expectations, you will probably enjoy it more than I did.

Content: Kissing and violence.

My Rating: Disappointing

Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader Not A Writer and Reviews By Martha's Bookshelf. This hop runs from Jan. 13-18. For this hop, I’m giving away a copy of Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon.

Follow the Rafflecopter instructions for the form below and good luck!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Book Review: Awkward

Release Date: Jan 1, 2012
Publisher: Kensington
Pages: 300 pages
Genre: Contemporary
Source: Publisher
Goodreads Summary: Mackenzie Wellesley has spent her life avoiding the spotlight. At Smith High, she's the awkward junior people only notice when they need help with homework. Until she sends a burly football player flying with her massive backpack and makes a disastrous - not to mention unwelcome - attempt at CPR. Before the day is out, the whole fiasco explodes on YouTube. And then the strangest thing happens. Suddenly, Mackenzie is an Internet sensation, with four million hits and counting. Sucked into a whirlwind of rock stars, paparazzi, and free designer clothes, she even catches the eye of the most popular guy at school. And that's when life gets really interesting...
One of my bookish resolutions for this year is to read more contemporary books and I’m so happy I started with Awkward. This book is funny, sweet and highly entertaining. In other words, it's my type of contemporary YA book.

Mackenzie is a girl with issues. Her father cheated on her mother when Mackenzie was a kid and she blames herself for the divorce and her dad’s subsequent abandonment. As a result, she does not trust men, rely on anyone or allow others to pay her way. Ever. Because of an embarrassing and traumatic childhood incident, Mackenzie goes through great lengths to not attract attention in school, to be invisible. 

Mackenzie’s character is, as the title of the book implies, very awkward but she is also very funny. She does not really filter her thoughts, says whatever comes to mind and when she gets nervous, she babbles random facts. Her faux pas are cringe worthy and funny at the same time, especially the entire incident that gets her on YouTube.

While fame propels Mackenzie into unfamiliar situations, she tries to handle them with grace and sometimes fails (with hilarious results) but that’s a part of the beauty of this book. I love that Mackenzie is a smart girl that prioritizes her grades and her relationship with her family and friends even after she becomes famous. 

While Awkward is about an ordinary girl who sky rockets to fame overnight, it’s also about self-esteem, perception and about Mackenzie getting over her hang-ups stemming from her father leaving the family. There is also a sweet, well developed romance in the book that I absolutely love. 

While I thought some of the secondary characters, especially Mackenzie’s friend Corey, were a bit cliché, it did not take away from the story. Awkward is a funny and modern contemporary romance that will appeal to both teens and adults. While the book appears to be a standalone novel, Invisible, a book set in the same world as Awkward is scheduled to be released next year. I’m looking forward to it.

Content: Mild profanity, kissing and underage drinking.

My Rating: Really Good!

Book deal alert! Awkward (ebook format) is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble for $2.99. Get it quick before the price goes back up!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Grave Mercy

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming novels we can't wait to read. This week’s choice is:

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publish Date: April 3, 2012
Genre: Fantasy
Goodreads Summary: Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae's most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?
Why am I waiting on Grave Mercy? Recently, I’ve read some really good fantasy novels and I’m in the mood for more. This book sounds like exactly what I want and love. Plus, who can resist assassin nuns?

What books are you waiting on?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Book Review: Kiss of Frost

Release Date: Nov. 29, 2011
Publisher: Kensington
Pages: 354 pages
Genre: Paranormal, Mythology
Source: Publisher
Goodreads Summary: I’m Gwen Frost, a second-year warrior-in-training at Mythos Acad­emy, and I have no idea how I’m going to sur­vive the rest of the semes­ter. One day, I’m get­ting schooled in sword­play by the guy who broke my heart—the drop-dead gor­geous Logan who slays me every time. Then, an invis­i­ble archer in the Library of Antiq­ui­ties decides to use me for tar­get prac­tice. And now, I find out that some­one at the acad­emy is really a Reaper bad guy who wants me dead. I’m afraid if I don’t learn how to live by the sword—with Logan’s help—I just might die by the sword...
Jennifer Estep delivers a fun, action-packed sequel to Touch of Frost with Kiss of Frost. This second book picks up shortly after the first with Gwen learning how to fight from her crush (and hot Spartan), Logan Quinn.

As with the first book, Estep effortlessly weaves mystery and mythology together creating a story that’s hard to put down. After the events at the end of book one, Gwen knows she may be the target from those wanting to get revenge and it’s not too long before she is attacked. She has to find out who wants to kill her and she has to do it fast.

Gwen Frost is an extremely likable character. On the surface, she seems like the most ordinary girl in a school in a school full of rich, spoiled superheroes but her psychometry (ability to know an object’s history by touching it) gives her character a lot more depth. In Kiss of Frost, we get to see more of Gwen’s ability at work, which is nice. We also find out more information about the Chaos War and Gwen’s role as Nike’s champion.

The secondary characters are well written, especially Vic, Gwen’s bloodthirsty, talking sword. I love him! While I was happy with Gwen and Logan’s relationship at the end of the book, I want more! Jennifer Estep writes the opposite of insta-love: characters that are perfect for each other, have awesome, tension filled interactions but take forever to get together! It’s been fun seeing these two deny their feelings and I am very excited to see where the story takes them in Dark Frost, which will be published in June.

While the mystery in Kiss of Frost was a bit more predictable than in Touch of Frost, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. This series has romance, action and excitement. Can’t wait to see what Estep has in store for us next.

Content: Profanity, kissing, underage drinking and violence.

My Rating: Really Good!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

In My Mailbox #6

In My Mailbox was created by Kristi at The Story Siren. These are books I received over the last two weeks and I am really excited about them!

For review:
Pure by Jennifer Armentrout (thank you, Spencer Hill Press!)
Wide Open by Deborah Coates (thank you, Tor!)
Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen (Not pictured. Thank you, NetGalley and Walker!)
Stolen Away by Alyxandra Harvey (Not pictured. Thank you, NetGalley and Walker!)

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare (thank you, Benji from The Non Reluctant Reader!)

From the library:
Shifting by Bethany Wiggins

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Masque of the Red Death

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming novels we can't wait to read. This week’s choice is:

Publisher: HarperCollins Children Books
Publish Date: April 24, 2012
Genre: Dystopia
Goodreads Summary: Everything is in ruins. A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up... and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club - in the depths of her own despair - Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for—no matter what it costs her.
I simply cannot resist a dystopian book based on Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe, plus the summary sounds awesome! What books are you waiting on?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012 Multi-Cultural Challenge - January

Welcome to the first month of the 2012 Muti-Cultural Book Challenge hosted by KM at One Page At a Time and myself. The goal of this challenge is to highlight the fabulous YA books written by muti-cultural/ethnic minorities OR featuring multi-cultural/ethnic minorities as main characters.

More information on this challenge is located on the challenge page and I have included the sing-up Linky below. 

For January, we will feature and give away a signed copy of Living Violet by Jaime Reed. The giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada. This giveaway is open to everyone but challenge participants get extra entires!

To earn extra entries, sign-up for the challenge, post at least one review a month of a YA book that meets the criteria and upload the review link to the Rafflecopter form below (also available on the challenge page). Reviews must be completed and posted during the participating month and you can upload more than one qualifying book review per month.

We are very excited to see the variety of multi-cultural YA books that you will be reading and review for the month!


Congratulations to Taffy who is the winner of the Best of 2011 Giveaway Hop. The winner, chosen by Random.org, has responded and she chose Delirium by Lauren Oliver. Thank you to everyone who participated! As always, I have more giveaways coming up so make sure you stop by and enter.

Happy New Year and my Bookish Resolutions!

Happy new year everybody and I hope you had a fantastic holiday season! What’s a new year without resolutions and I am starting 2012 with some bookish ones. Here are my top five:

1. Borrow more library books, request less ARCs from NetGalley. I love my library and want to support it even more than I did last year.

2. Highlight books written by multi-cultural authors and/or featuring minority main characters. I super excited about this one and am co-hosting the 2012 Multi-Cultural Book Challenge. Make sure you sign up!

3. Catch up on the awesome books that were released in 2011 that I did not get to read. I love new releases but there are some current releases that I am dying to get to.

4. Read more YA contemporary books! I usually avoid contemps in favor of paranormal and dystopian books but after reading (and loving) There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones, I cannot wait to read more books like it. I’m happily taking recommendations for what contemporary novel to read next.

5. Keep book blogging fun, comment and network more and write more discussion related posts. The last one will be a bit of a challenge for me because I can be shy when giving my opinion but sometimes we have to step outside our comfort zone to grow.

What are your bookish new year’s resolutions?


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