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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Teaser Tuesday [23] Illuminate

 Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week's teaser is from... Illuminate by Aimee Agresti!
"His cedar scent made my head spin and I felt my skin bake, beaing that near to him. I'm sure I couldn't hide the shock in my face." (154)
*This quote is from an uncorrected ARC. Quotations in the final copy may differ*
I am absolutely loving this book, the story is incredibly enticing and Haven is such a great character!!! I just wish I had more time to read it!!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Review: Eve by Anna Carey

Eve by Anna Carey
Publication Date: October 24th, 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins
Page Count: 318 pages
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Purchase from Amazon: Eve
Where do you go when nowhere is safe?

Sixteen years after a deadly virus wiped out most of Earth’s population, the world is a perilous place. Eighteen-year-old Eve has never been beyond the heavily guarded perimeter of her school, where she and two hundred other orphaned girls have been promised a future as the teachers and artists of the New America. But the night before graduation, Eve learns the shocking truth about her school’s real purpose—and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Arden, her former rival from school, and Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust . . . and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.

In this epic new series, Anna Carey imagines a future that is both beautiful and terrifying. Readers will revel in Eve’s timeless story of forbidden love and extraordinary adventure.
When I found out Anna Carey was going to be at the Dark Days signing I knew I had to pick up a copy fast. Although I’ve read a few mixed reviews, I absolutely LOVED this book! Carey’s world is both horrific and beautiful, providing us with an amazing cast of characters.

Eve, the main protagonist, is so kick ass! I admit, in the beginning she’s kind of whiney and is pretty incapable of doing anything for herself which is both annoying and depressing. I definitely understand that her entire life she’s been sheltered and protected, so it’s not really a feasible idea that she should know how to go out and hunt for her own food. She is a fast learner though! Caleb is a great love interest as well. He puts so much energy into protecting Eve and making sure she’s well cared for, I fell in love with him instantly!

Carey develops such a fantastic world. It’s a scary realization that the world she creates is actually a realistic image of what our world could become. Eve spends all her time escaping an awful fate of becoming a breeder, running away from murderers, and basically trying to survive. When I sit down and think about it long enough, I actually scare myself a little bit! I completely immersed myself in Eve and I loved every second of it!

Although I might be a bit biased because I’m a huge dystopian junkie, I absolutely loved Eve! It’s a fantastic story about love, loss, growing up, and survival. Anna Carey weaves a gorgeous story that you’ll want to read late into the night. If you haven’t picked up your copy of Eve yet, you definitely need to! I’d recommend this book to dystopian junkies, romance lovers, and anyone who loves a good adventure!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Incarnate Tour and Giveaway! Traditional vs. Modern Masquerades


Welcome to the INCARNATE Theater Treasure Hunt!

This week, 48 bloggers are celebrating the release of INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows by participating in a treasure hunt with clues, activities, and lots of prizes including signed books and handknit fingerless mitts. You've reached a CLUE blog, which means somewhere on this page is a clue to finding the hidden page and grand prize entry form on Jodi's website. Follow 26 clues to get there!

For more information on the INCARNATE Theater Treasure Hunt, check out Jodi's post.


Traditional vs. Modern Masquerade Balls

Traditional history of masquerade balls:
Venetian masquerade ball
A masquerade ball is an event or party in which people dress up in elaborate costumes and masks.
Traditionally, masquerade balls were a feature of Carnival in Italy. Masquerades were often used to celebrate marriages and involved a large amount of formal, costumed dancing. Venetian masquerade balls were elaborate celebrations held for the upper class and sometimes the king and his men would dress up in costume and put on an act for guests. By the end of the 16th century, the use of masks began to decline, ultimately removing them from most masquerade balls.

Masquerades in London at the Haymarket Opera House
In the 17th and 18th century, masquerade balls moved throughout Europe and became more public events. The masquerade ball held at the Haymarket Opera House in London sparked the interest of the wealthy, in masquerade balls. Some of the more famous balls were held in London's public gardens and involved masked and costumed characters who would mingle with the guests.

When masquerade balls finally travelled to America they became more of a fun party game than a formal event. Guests were encouraged to dress in elaborate costumes and wear masks, only so they could all attempt to figure out who was who.

Modern masquerade balls:
Labyrinth of Jareth 
In the 1950s, a masquerade ball was held in Venice at the Palazzo Labia and was considered the "party of the century". This party is assumed to have revived masquerade balls. Today, the party atmosphere is emphasized rather than the formal costumes and dancing which are typical of the traditional masquerade ball. The most common form of a masquerade ball is the "costume party" which is assumed to be inspired by the Venetian tradition. The most famous masquerade ball, that currently still happens annually, is the Labyrinth of Jareth Fantasy Masquerade Ball which emphasizes the fantastical theme combined with Celtic themes and Goblin lore. The ball lasts an entire weekend and involves master costume makers and makeup artists.

Masquerade balls have also inspired some of the crazier parties on television shows such as Gossip Girl and Vampire Diaries.

Masquerade masks from Gossip Girl
Information from this post can be found at these sites: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masquerade_balls#History
http://masqueradeball.org/a-modern-masquerade-ball
http://www.labyrinthmasquerade.com/

My clue for the password is...
Third word: r
Remember, there are no spaces in this password!

Make sure you check out the next posts in the treasure hunt!
Is It Hot In Here Or Is It This Book?
YA Books Central
Letters Inside Out

On to my personal giveaway...
I absolutely loved INCARNATE so I'm giving YOU the chance to win a copy! You'll also win some signed INCARNATE swag that Jodi so generously provided.

The deets:
- US ONLY
- Must be 13 or older to enter
- Fill out the Rafflecopter form
- Winner will get a copy of INCARNATE (ordered by me from Amazon) and signed swag!

There are No Such Things as Free Books!

Inspired by a discussion that happened on Twitter a couple days ago about ARCs and review books, I thought I would provide some information based on my personal experience with publishers and authors and receiving books for review. Just remember I am in no way an expert on this subject and these are just my personal opinions based on experiences, and I would absolutely love to hear from other bloggers about their experiences! I’ve actually gotten a lot of information from more established blogs like The Story Siren, Parajunkee, and Books with Bite, so this is just how I used their insight.

Review books ARE NOT free.
Let me just get this out of the way and tell you, no, there are no such things as free books and if you start a blog to get “free” books you will fail miserably because people will just know that that is what you are all about. When I look at the amount of time I spend on my blog (I actually keep a log of how much time spent and what I did every day!), Twitter, reading, writing reviews, emailing publishers, I probably spend about 20-40 hours a week just doing bloggish things. 40 hours a week that I am NOT getting paid for. When I review a book, I take it seriously, I take notes about what I like and what I don’t, and I spend a long time writing up my reviews because I want people to appreciate my input. When authors/publishers send me review requests I research the death out of that book because I cannot accept something I know I won’t like. Which leads me into my next topic!

Don’t accept/request books you won’t like.
I feel like this should just be self-explanatory. If I get a review request for an adult fantasy novel, I will kindly decline to review their book because honestly it’s not my thing. I remember when I first started blogging and I got a lot of review requests for self-published books. Of course, in my excitement that an author wanted to give me a copy of her book FOR FREE so I could review it on my blog I immediately jumped at the chance without doing any of the proper research on the author or her book, and sat down to start it. It was horrible. A terrible, terrible book that had an incredible amount of spelling mistakes and a horrible plot line. You know what I did? I wrote a semi-positive reviewing thanking the author for sending it to me because I just didn't know how to write a negative review about a book that was given to me. I’ve regretted it ever since, because I feel like I’ve lied to my fabulous readers and since then I’ve been a lot more picky. Let this be a lesson! DO YOUR RESEARCH AND DON’T GET GREEDY!! This definitely ties in with ARCs and requesting them as well!!!

When can you ask for ARCs?
So, I just started getting attention from publishers, I have a few personal contacts, I’m on several mailing lists, and I have publicists emailing me with review requests for legitimately good books. This has not been happening long so I don’t have a lot of information about it, but I can share some of my experiences about how I got here!

I have to say, however, that ARCs are a privilege that you will get when you have established your blog “well enough” in the publishing community. What do I mean by “well enough”? Pam from Bookalicious is one of the most established blogs out there. She’s going on her fourth year of blogging and she gets about 1500-2000 unique visitors A DAY. I get about 4,400 unique visitors a month. In no way, shape, or form do I consider myself well established. My blog is almost a year old, I’ve been blogging consistently for about 7-8 months, and I have a little over 1000 followers. So if you want to start asking for ARCs I would do it after at least 6 months of consistent blogging and a good number of unique visitors and followers, but that’s just my opinion! Some bloggers get a great following in a shorter amount of time and that is just how they’ve established themselves! However, I did have an experience with Flux where I requested a book after only being around for about 3 months and I was kindly told that they do not accept review requests until you've been blogging at least a year! The best way to establish yourself is to network, network, network!!! Plan on spending a lot of time on Twitter, go around to a lot of blogs and comment, comment, comment!

What kind of information should be included in a review request?
This has always been kind of challenging for me. I’ve done a lot of requesting since I started blogging, and gotten a lot of nothing, so when emailing publishers you have to be prepared to get nowhere for a long time. Once you establish a good relationship with a publisher and you get a few personal contacts it will make things a lot easier, but that takes a LOT of time and energy!!

My typical review request looks like this:
Subject: Review Request: (TITLE) (AUTHOR) (ISBN)
To Whom It May Concern:

Hello and thank you for your time. I am a YA book blogger and I run the blog, Literary Exploration. You can find it here: http://www.literaryexploration.com/ I have 1050 followers, 1044 Feedburner subscribers, and an average of 4,400 unique visitors a month. I am writing to ask if you have Book Title by AUTHOR (ISBN NUMBER) available for read and review? I am very interested in reading and reviewing it because of (give reasons WHY you want this book!).

If you have any copies available for read and review you can send them here:
Name
Address

I post all of my reviews on my blog as well as on Goodreads. You can find my Goodreads profile here: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/4645069-anna I am also willing to post my reviews on other sites (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.) when requested.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you,
Anna @ Literary Exploration
That’s just how my requests look, I’ve formatted it over time and so far it’s worked well for me. I know a lot of bloggers do different things and that works for them! You can always request multiple books in one email, but if you’re just getting in contact with publishers I’m not sure that’s a good idea, although I’ve never tried it so maybe you can help me on that?! You just have to find what works for you and your personal emailing style. Eventually your goal is to get a personal contact that you can simply address by name, and you won’t have to send in this general info email anymore! The main thing is, DO NOT REQUEST BOOKS YOU DON’T ACTUALLY WANT. Only request what you really, really want, because you will be required to review them!! And always be respectful and professional when talking to publishers. They're taking time to look at your blog and send you books, so don't be rude if you don't get what you ask for. 

That’s where my knowledge ends! I’d love to hear from you guys, and learn about your experiences so let me know what you think! How has reviewing gone for you? Do you have any horror stories?! Let me know! 

In My Mailbox [24] THE ONE WITH BITTERBLUE!!!!!!

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at the Story Siren where you can learn about all the awesome new books I've picked up this week!



Books Mentioned
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore 
Sometimes it Happens by Lauren Barnholdt
Enchanted by Alethea Kontis (Big thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt!!!) 
Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Saturday, January 28, 2012

New Releases: January 30th - February 3

Check out some amazing new releases for the week of January 30th!






Review: Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday

Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday
Publication Date: October 11th, 2011
Publisher: HarperTeen
Page Count: 320 pages
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Purchase from Amazon: Deadly Cool (Hartley Featherstone)
Hartley Grace Featherstone is having a very bad day. First she finds out that her boyfriend is cheating on her with the president of the Herbert Hoover High School Chastity Club. Then he's pegged as the #1 suspect in a murder. And if that weren't enough, now he's depending on Hartley to clear his name. Seriously? Not cool.

But as much as Hartley wouldn't mind seeing him squirm, she knows he's innocent, and she's the only one who can help him. Along with her best friend, Sam, and the school's resident Bad Boy, Chase, Hartley starts investigating on her own. But as the dead bodies begin to pile up, the mystery deepens, the suspects multiply, and Hartley begins to fear that she may be the killer's next victim.
I've heard a lot of good things about Deadly Cool but it wasn't until I started reading that I realized how awesome this book really is. First of all, it's based in San Jose, which is my hometown, so I was stoked to read about all these places that I actually go to! I also REALLY liked Harley, she is absolutely hilarious! This book was an awesome, quick read and if you live in the Bay Area you definitely need to grab it!

As I said, Hartley is crazy and hilarious, and I loved her! She's a really strong character who stands up for what she believes in and doesn't take crap from anybody. When she finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her, she tells him to kick rocks! Even after he apologizes and begs to have her back she still won't take him, which I really admire about her. Chase is also an awesome guy, he's the sort of realistic bad boy I like to read about. While Noah Shaw is the ultimate bad boy, he's basically just a fantasy. Chase is the bad boy you knew in high school, the one I always had the biggest crush on. I was definitely rooting for him and Hartley to get together at some point!

The story is super fast paced and a quick read. I think I read it in about half a day, but I wasn't bored at all. Halliday constantly had me guessing about who the killer really was, and I even thought it was Josh a few times no matter how often Hartley said it wasn't! I always love books that keep me guessing, and Deadly Cool definitely kept me on the edge of my seat! The best part for me is that it's based in San Jose so it's great to read about all these places that I go to on a regular basis. It really helps me picture the story better since I can actually see the setting.

Deadly Cool is a fantastic read. It's fast paced, suspenseful, mysterious, and exciting! I loved reading about my hometown as well as reading about a girl who's self-assured enough to kick her cheating boyfriend to the curb while still standing up for what she believes in. If you love mysteries and a good laugh, this one is for you!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Review: Fever by Lauren DeStefano


Fever by Lauren DeStefano
Expected Publication Date: February 21st, 2012
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing
Page Count: 368 pages
Format: ARC
Source: Borrowed
Purchase from Amazon: Fever (Chemical Garden)
Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind.

Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago - surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous - and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the mansion...by any means necessary.

In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price - now that she has more to lose than ever.
When Sasha from Sash and Em let me borrow Fever last month I was ecstatic! I absolutely loved Wither, and the cliffhanger ending had me craving more of Rhine and Gabriel. In the sequel to Wither, DeStefano shows us the world outside of Linden’s mansion and has Rhine and Gabriel fighting for their lives. I absolutely loved where DeStefano took the story, it was heart-breaking, thrilling, and an amazing adventure.

Fever follows Rhine and Gabriel as they escape from the mansion, only to run into some new villains. The ringmistress who runs the carnival where Rhine and Gabriel are now trapped is a horrifying woman who pimps out young girls to the local men. As Rhine and Gabriel try to figure out how to escape they run into more than one problem. Their relationship definitely develops into something more than it was in Wither which I really enjoyed reading about.

The story is incredibly fast paced, with lots of action going on at all times. Fever turned out to be a really quick read because I just couldn’t put it down. DeStefano had me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire book, and of course it ended with another cliffhanger! As always, her writing is impeccable and poetic, flowing naturally and elegantly. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

Overall, I loved Fever more than Wither and I'm so glad it didn't turn out to be one of those "bridge" sequels that just sort of carries the characters and plot from book one to book three. I completely immersed myself in the story, unable to tear myself away. The characters are as gorgeous and heartbreaking as ever, and the story is magically written. If you loved Wither you’re going to want to get your hands on this one as soon as you can.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday [23]: Sweet Evil

****"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Jill at the Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.****

Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins
Expected Publication Date: May 1st, 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen
Page Count: 464 pages
What if there were teens whose lives literally depended on being bad influences? This is life for sons and daughters of fallen angels in Sweet Evil.

Anna, a tender-hearted southern girl, was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She’s aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but it isn’t until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage, and her will-power is put to the test. He’s the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.

A cross-country trip forces Anna and Kai to face the reality that hope and love are not options for their kind. When it's time for Anna to confront her demons, will she choose to embrace her halo or her horns?
Why I Can't Wait: So, I think this book has something to do with angels. Yeah? Fallen angels. And some girl named ANNA which is my name :) Also, this guy sounds super hot. And I'm really intrigued!!! WANT! Really excited to get my hands on this one soon :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Teaser Tuesday [22]: Probability of Miracles

 Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week's teaser is from... The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder
She did not believe in the hokey story about how the town got its magic. She did not believe in the "magic" itself. She herself could not hope.
But she could give the gift of hope to her mother and sister. She could help them believe. That was easy.
She just needed to steal some tomato plants (194).
*This teaser is from an uncorrected ARC. Quotations from the finished copy may differ.*

I'm really loving this one!! I've laughed, I've cried, I've squeeled! AWESOME BOOK!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Follower Survey & Back to School!!


I just wanted to take the time to let everyone know I'm going back to school on Wednesday and I'm taking 5 English classes (!!!!!) so I'm going to be doing A LOT of required reading! How does this affect you, my awesome reader? Because, as much as I love reading the classics, that's going to cut into my YA reading time, and ultimately affect how many reviews I'll be able to get on the blog each week.

Since the holidays I've managed to get a great schedule going, get ahead on some posts, and get about 3 reviews a week up. Unfortunately, that number just isn't as realistic anymore. I definitely will not be able to post 3 reviews up every week, and I'll probably be lucky if I can get 2 up. Please don't leave! I'm going to do my best to continue posting daily, keeping you informed about fabulous new books, and participating in my weekly memes.

What can you do? I'd love some suggestions about things YOU, my fabulous readers and followers, want to see! Would you like more guest posts? Author interviews? More info about me?! Let me know how I can improve and keep your interest while I'm drowning in Emma and Hamlet.

To make it easy on YOU, I've made a super simple survey for you to take! It shouldn't take more than 5 minutes of your time! PLEASE, keep in mind the fact that I'm starting school so I won't be able to incorporate more reviews JUST YET, but I will keep that in mind if you decide you want more!


All's Fair in Vainities War Blog Tour: Guest Post with Elizabeth Marx and Giveaway!


All's Fair in Vanities War by Elizabeth Marx
Publication Date: October 24, 2011
Publisher: Kindle (Self-Published)
Salem’s always held sinister secrets. No one understands this better than a sixteen-year-old girl who dies on Halloween night and is reborn a Seer.

The Seer can’t imagine anything worse than being an invisible teenager with enormous black wings. Until she finds out she’s been sacrificed to watch over Locke’s new flame.

Locke Cavanaugh is a Druid, and part of the Order, a clandestine organization entrusted with keeping its members cloaked in the Ordinary world. Physically scarred from the accident that took his girlfriends life, Locke is searching for the OtherWorldly magic that damaged him, because only those without blemish can rule the Order. And once at the helm of the Order he has every intention of finding those responsible for her death.

On the West Coast, Keleigh Flaherty witnesses her parents’ murder by beasts that should only exist in nightmares. She is whisked off to the safety of Salem, where she learns how potent and dangerous her concealed Vate talents are. Keleigh wants to be Ordinary, but when her mother reaches out from the OtherWorld, and implores her to find a forgotten relic she’ll have to use all her ExtraOrdinary powers to locate it.

As Locke and Keleigh join forces, they unravel the Order’s involvement in the witch hysteria and murmurs of a Celtic prophecy. While Locke’s affection for Keleigh blooms, The Seer is torn between her duty to protect Keleigh, and her desire to stop Locke from making the ultimate sacrifice in order to earn Keleigh’s love . . .

But if they don’t find the witches bottle before the
ShiningOnes do, someone stalking Keleigh from the shadows will take her instead and plunge all worlds into chaos.

INSPIRATION FOR ALL’S FAIR IN VANITIES WAR

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, never has a phrase been truer than for an author. A single image imbedded in our minds, spins magical worlds, of faraway places where monsters and mayhem rule.

When I decided I wanted to write a young adult novel, I knew I wanted to write a twist on a fairy tale, and like most fairy tales there needs to be some lesson learned, because fairy tales are morality tales. I jumped from the inspiration of morality to the seven deadly sins. An author’s mind spins webs and ideas, connecting concepts that seem abstract to others. I decided on vanity, I don’t know what made that sin stick in my mind, maybe I saw one too many mascara commercials that day, maybe it’s a personal character flaw I wanted to explore, or maybe I wanted my daughters to know that beauty, true beauty, lies on the inside of the person, and because it does, it never fades.

With the idea of vanity firmly planted in my mind I wanted to know what symbols represent vanity and two concepts kept coming up: mirror and skull. I wondered how these symbols could work together? I put them in a search engine and voila, All is Vanity, Charles Allan Gilbert’s 1892 optical illusion came up. When you first look at his sketch you might immediately see the skull, or you might see the woman looking in her mirror, but if you look at the image long enough you’ll see the skull, the symbol for death.

I think Mr. Gilbert was toying with us, showing us just how transitory beauty is. I decided this image would capture the essence of my book. All’s Fair in Vanities War is about a pretty young woman who is robed of her beautiful physical form in this world, for a much higher calling in the next, a once beautiful boy, who damages his face trying to rescue her, and another young girl with a spell masking her true self.

So who’s the vainest character you’ve ever met in a book?

On to the Giveaway!!

Details
- TWO winners!
- Each winner will receive an ebook of Vanities and TWO gorgeous bookmarks!
- US only
- Must be 13 or older to enter

Sunday, January 22, 2012

In My Mailbox [23] The one with Perception!!!

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at the Story Siren where you can learn about all the awesome new books I've picked up this week!

Sorry if I sound a little off and maybe look a little bored. I'm getting over a sickness :(





Books Mentioned
Perception by Kim Harrington (Big thanks to Scholastic!)
Double Clutch by Liz Reinhardt
Fracture by Megan Miranda
Paper Towns by John Green
Partials by Dan Wells
Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey
The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
XVI by Julia Karr
UPDATE:
I forgot to mention a couple ebooks I got! EEP!
Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin (Courtesy of G.P. Putnam's Sons)
Angelfall by Susan Ee

Bloggers Mentioned
Audris at YA Bookmark
Hafsah at Icey Books

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Review: Dreaming Dangerously by Kathleen Harsch

Dreaming Dangerously by Kathleen Harsch
Publication Date: September 10th, 2011
Publisher: CreateSpace (Self-Published)
Page Count: 256 pages
Format: Paperback
Source: Author
My Rating:
Purchase From Amazon: Dreaming Dangerously
*I received a copy of this book from the author. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own*
What if you could HEAR thoughts?

Thanks to her ability to mind-drop, Cassie can hear the thoughts of everyone around her. But sometimes her telepathy is more of a curse than a psychic gift, especially when it comes to Will Rossi.

Reason #1: He pushes his thoughts at her, whether she wants to hear them or not.

Reason #2: His sexy, vindictive ex-girlfriend.

Reason #3: His dimples are absolutely, 100% distracting.

To her surprise, Cassie feels drawn to Will's electromagnetic vibes. Yet, as she falls for him, she discovers their relationship has some serious side effects. She begins to have dreams about the future - dreams that come true in horrifying ways.

Cassie needs to learn to trust Will, or she won't be able to prevent the tragedy she sees coming.
Typically, I'm not one to pick up books about psychics or mind readers or things like that, but when the author contacted me about her book I was pretty intrigued. Although some things didn't work too well for me, the overall book was pretty good. I did have some issues with characters and certain aspects of the story, but overall it was a quick read and I enjoyed it.

The characters were pretty tame. Cassie can read minds, and once she meets Will she has these prophetic dreams that sort of end up happening, only not the exact way she dreams them. This situation kind of confused me because I didn't really understand the point of Cassie having the dreams, but mostly they put her in really dangerous situations where Will had to save her or something. Will was your typical alpha-overprotective-male who felt like he needed to "save" Cassie from the world or something. It was cute at first but then it just felt like he was being overbearing. Cassie was hurt by her last boyfriend, whom she loved, so she has a hard time trusting Will, but I was really pulling for him!

The story itself was fast-paced and definitely kept me reading. Cassie ends up in a lot of dangerous situations that had me seriously worried for her! She really thinks about others more than herself which is definitely heroic, and I liked that she never let Will tell her what to do. Some parts of the story were a little confusing, or slow, but the overall pace of the book was definitely exciting. I know there are going to be more books in this series so I am looking forward to finding out what happens next! One of the more obvious issues I actually had was the story's resemblance to Twilight. Some situations were almost exact copies, and because I'm not a big Twilight fan I had a hard time with that.

Although I'm not a big fan of Psychic books, Dreaming Dangerously is one of the better ones. I do wish some things, like the dreams, were explained a little more because I'm still not sure what's causing them or why Cassie is having them, but Cassie isn't sure either so I'm hoping that will be explained in the next book. I liked the idea of different types of mind-reading being the focus of the story. I do feel like the story itself was a bit rushed, but overall I enjoyed reading this one!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Crossroads Blog Tour: Guest Post with J.J. Bonds and Giveaway!


I'd like to welcome J.J. Bonds to Literary Exploration today! As part of the Crossroads Blog Tour she's provided an excerpt from her book, Crossroads, to share with all of you!

Crossroads by J.J. Bonds
Publication Date: October 10, 2011
As if high school isn’t miserable enough, try being uprooted and dropped fangs first into an uptight prep school where everyone knows your name and they’ll stop at nothing to uncover the secrets of your past.

When Katia enrolled at Crossroads Academy she knew things weren’t exactly going to be easy. The sole heir to the worlds’ most powerful vampire, her presence was bound to cause a stir. But nothing could have prepared her for this. Whispers follow everywhere she goes. So does trouble.

But Katia will do her time at Crossroads. After all, she’s only enrolled at the prestigious school for pure blood vampires to fulfill a promise to her Great Uncle Aldo. Tucked away in the Green Mountains of Vermont, Katia hopes to shed the demons of her past and focus on her education. Raised blissfully unaware of the entire vamp world, she’s got a lot of catching up to do.

As Katia learns more about this dark society and her own legacy, protecting her past becomes increasingly difficult. Bodies start turning up in nearby Rutland and Katia is sucked into a twisted web of danger and deceit. Haunted by nightmares she can’t explain and a thirst for blood that is never sated, Katia will do whatever it takes to keep her past buried. What choice does she have? Exposure will shake the Elder’s Council to its core and likely result in a death sentence at the hands of the Linkuri.

Nothing at Crossroads is what it seems and Katia’s secrets may be the darkest of them all.
Excerpt from Crossroads by J.J. Bonds
“Sorry to interrupt your fun.”
“Fun? Ha!” He laughs, eyes raking over the costumed vamps grinding all around us. “I can think of better ways to spend the night, but I’m making the best of it.”
“Oh? Glow sticks and body paint isn’t your thing? Could’ve fooled me,” I retort, eyeing the trail of glitter that Jade has left on the front of his dark shirt. Perhaps it’s Jade’s way of marking her territory.
He doesn’t bother replying to my ridicule. He just stands there expectantly, eyes locked on mine. He’s not going to make it easy for me. And why should he? I haven’t exactly been easy to get along with or even to like. I don’t know why he’s offered to help, but I guess it’s time to find out. Time to swallow my pride.
“Will you train me?” I ask through clenched teeth. I practically choke on the words. I hate asking for help. I hate asking for anything.
“Sorry. I didn’t catch that?” he returns, raising his voice to be heard over the roar of the music. “It’s so loud in here, you know?” I’m certain he’s messing with me. He knows damn well what I said. Arrogant jerk! I turn to leave.
“Katia, wait!” He grabs my arm preventing retreat. “I offered, didn’t I?”
“What do you want in return?” It’s hard to keep the edge of suspicion from my voice. I know the lessons won’t come without a price.
“What makes you think I want something from you?” he asks crossing his arms over his chest. He’s clearly amused.
“The fact that I wasn’t born yesterday,” I retort. “So? What is it you want? Name your price.”
“Isn’t it obvious? I want to get to know you.” He’s got that mischievous look in his eye again. “You intrigue me. After all, there’s never a dull moment when you’re around.”
Right. I’m sure it’s that innocent. Probably he wants to get closer to me because of Aldo. It doesn’t matter though. Not as long as I get what I want.
“When do we start?”
“Tomorrow. Meet me in the training center at 11 o’clock.”
“I’ll be there.”
I nearly escape the dining hall without incident. Jade intercepts me at the door, grabbing my arm and digging her blood red nails into my skin like talons. If it weren’t for the baleful look on her face she might actually be able to pull off the white wings affixed to her back. As it is, there’s nothing angelic about her right now. “What do you want with Nikolai?”
“It’s a private matter,” I return, biting my tongue to keep from saying anything inflammatory. What is up with this crazy possessiveness of hers? Maybe she hasn’t heard the old adage about freeing that which you love the most. Then again, maybe she knows there isn’t creature in its right mind that would voluntarily come back for more of her bitchiness.
“Stay away from him,” she warns, her brown eyes flashing angrily. “Nikolai is mine.”
So much for playing nice. I can’t help but smirk at the tawdry threat as I wipe her glittery handprint off my forearm. “Jade, I have only one interest in Nik and I can assure you it’s purely physical.”





Now! On to the giveaway!! One lucky commenter will receieve a digital copy of Crossroads and one person will receive the grand prize of a Kindle Fire!!

Here is everything you have to do to win:
1. Comment to win!
2. One random comment will be selected to win a digital copy of JJ Bonds' Crossroads
3. All comments will be counted to win a KINDLE FIRE with a Crossroads Gel Cover
4. Collect Clues along the tour for a chance to win
5. Comment at each tour stop for extra chances to win
6. Tweet and use #crossroadsbooktour for extra chances to win along with random drawings to win digital copies of the book
6. Collect clues to find the final entry to win the Kindle Fire
7. Winners will be selected January 31st

Here is my clue:

Make sure you visit everyone else who's participating in the tour and collect all the clues!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday [22]: Grave Mercy

****"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Jill at the Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.****

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Expected Publication Date: April 3rd, 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Page Count: 560 pages
Pre-order from Amazon: Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, Book I (His Fair Assassin Trilogy)
Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

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 I Can't Wait: I admit, this book is long, but it looks awesome! A story about a girl who becomes an assassin for Death?! I mean, of course she falls in love with some guy she's supposed to kill, but that's the fun of it right?! Also, despite the fact that the Mistress of the Red Dress is back on a cover, I'm enjoying it :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Teaser Tuesday [21]: Cinder & Top Ten Tuesday [8]

 Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week's teaser is from... Cinder by Marissa Meyer!
"Her brow drew together, questioning, but he didn't elaborate. His fingers, light as a breath, brushed her elbow. He craned his head. Cinder couldn't move, barely managing to wet her lips as her eyes slipped shut." (I managed to shut the book and lose the page number before I could add it... SORRY!).




*****

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Books I'd Recommend To Someone Who Doesn't Read YA!

I read about 99% YA and I feel like a lot of people underestimate how exciting and even educational young adult books can be! YA books are great for reluctant readers of all ages, because you can find things that relate to everyone!

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - This one is inevitable. The Hunger Games is one of the most amazing books out there. YA or adult, not much can compare!

2. The Maze Runner by James Dashner - This book transcends gender, culture, age, everything! The Maze Runner is a fantastic book and the story exciting and interesting!

3. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer - I've actually given this book to a few people as gifts and everyone has loved it!

4. Hate List by Jennifer Brown - This book tackles a lot of issues, especially bullying. I think it's something that can really attract anyone who's had a hard time with bullying and being picked on.

5. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis - I'm absolutely obsessed with this series, both the movies and the books, and I think they're not only an amazing read, but a great escape from reality.

6. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi - I recently read Shatter Me, and it's just so amazing!! This is a great read for lovers of sci-fi and superheroes!

7. Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday - This book is just ridiculously funny and since I'm from the Bay Area I would recommend it to all my friends who are also from around here! I always get a lot more into books when I can recognize the setting.

8. Blood Red Road by Moira Young - I know it was hard for me to get into this book because of the writing style, but I seriously recommend this one to anyone and everyone! It's such an exciting story and Saba is a great main character!

9. Divergent by Veronica Roth - There's just something about a dystopian that appeals to a lot of my friends, and Divergent is one of the best dystopians out there! 

10. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi - I loved this book so so much and I think a lot of my friends would enjoy it because of it's emphasis on technology.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Review: Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
Expected Publication Date: January 31st, 2012
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Page Count: 384
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher
My Rating:
Pre-Order from Amazon: Incarnate
*I receieved a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own*
NEWSOUL
Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

NOSOUL
Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?

HEART
Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.
If you follow me on Twitter then you know how excited I was to find Incarnate on my doorstep. This book was on my wishlist for AGES, and I spent a lot of time talking to Jodi online about how much I adore her and the gorgeous cover of her debut novel. Let me just say, she did not disappoint!!! Incarnate really deserves 5+ stars, but I only have a 5 star rating system. The only downfall was that sometimes things got a bit jumbled and I became a little confused, but otherwise, I have no qualms!!

The characters are freakin amazing! Ana (yes her name is just like mine!!!) is just adorable, and I felt so bad for her, not knowing who or what she is and having to live with a woman like Li, who is just AWFUL! She was like a sad, lost, puppy dog trying to find her way home, and I just wanted to reach out and give her a hug and tell her everything is going to be okay. Thankfully, I didn't need to do any of this (or feel bad about the fact that I couldn't) because Sam was right there, providing hugs and compassion! Oh Sam.. I have a special place in my heart for you! Sam is such a lover, he's so kind and takes such good care of Ana that I just loved him more and more with every page!! There are a lot of other characters that I really enjoyed too, like Steph! He/she is hilarious and awesome!!

The story itself is so original and crazy interesting, I don't even know where to start. First of all, it's pretty unlike anything I've read before. At first I thought it was a dystopian novel, but reading into it I discovered it's more fantasy than anything. There are dragons!! Albeit, acid spitting dragons that kill everyone, but still! DRAGONS! And there are creepy ghost-like creatures called sylph that burn people to death, and are basically unkillable! Jodi's writing is fantastic as well, I really felt like I was in Heart, and the world that she created.

I feel so lucky to have gotten a copy of this book for review, it was an amazing and beautiful read, and I absolutely cannot wait for the next one! The writing is fantastic, the characters are so relatable, and the world that Jodi Meadows creates is just awe-inspiring. If you're a lover of fantasy, romance, and some adventure you're going to fall in love with Incarnate just as much as I did!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

In My Mailbox [22]

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at the Story Siren where you can learn about all the awesome new books I've picked up this week!




Books Mentioned
Keys to the Repository by Melissa de la Cruz
Kevin's Point of View by Del Shannon
A Want So Wicked by Suzanne Young
Fracture by Megan Miranda
Once by Anna Carey
Once in a Full Moon by Ellen Schreiber
Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala
Falling Under by Gwen Hayes
The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers by Lynn Weingarten

Bloggers Mentioned
Momo at Books Over Boys

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Review: Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs
Publication Date: May 19th, 2010
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Page Count: 292 pages
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
My Rating:
Purchase at Amazon: Forgive My Fins
From Goodreads: Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it’s not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but when you’re half human, half mermaid like Lily, there’s no such thing as a simple crush.

Lily’s mermaid identity is a secret that can’t get out, since she’s not just any mermaid – she’s a Thalassinian princess. When Lily found out three years ago that her mother was actually a human, she finally realized why she didn’t feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she’s been living on land and going to Seaview high school ever since, hoping to find where she truly belongs. Sure, land has its problems – like her obnoxious, biker boy neighbor Quince Fletcher – but it has that one major perk – Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren’t really the casual dating type – when they “bond,” it’s for life.

When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily-ever-after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.
Forgive My Fins was a cute, fun, story but it was just lacking in any real depth. I was pretty disappointed since I really liked Childs' book Sweet Venom, which was action packed and all three characters were written terrifically. With Forgive My Fins it just felt like I was watching a cute ABC Family movie or something. Don't get me wrong, it was a quick, fun, read but there wasn't anything that had me going, "Wow!" I really really wanted to like this one, and it was good, I admit, but it just didn't wow me.

The characters are okay, kind of boring and predictable. Lily was basically a terrible human being and I kind of hated her for most of the book. She's incredibly self-absorbed, shallow, impatient, and whiny and I honestly didn't like anything about her. She's in love with Brody, the popular swimmer at school, who of course loves nobody but himself and is pretty much a total douche. She spends most of her time fantasizing over their future that she's concocted for herself. It was pretty pathetic to watch. Quince is basically the best guy ever though. He completely goes along with whatever crazy crap Lily throws at him and totally accepts whatever she says. He's super protective over her and is so sweet and nice to her, it's just adorable! And Lily basically hates him which makes me dislike her even more.

The writing and story were fine. Nothing pops out at me, although she does use a lot of "sea slang" which I actually thought was pretty fun. Lily would say things like "Stop being such a blowfish!" or "Oh carp" and that always made me smile. I thought that aspect was pretty creative and added to the story. The writing isn't bad, Childs is a good writer, but Forgive My Fins is really just a cutsie fluff piece and there isn't a lot of depth to the writing. It was definitely a good enough story for me to finish, I'll probably read the next one at some point because it has to do with Lily's evil cousin and I always like a bad girl.

Overall, Forgive My Fins was a good read but it wasn't amazing. I felt like it was lacking in something but, I'm glad I took the time to read it. I haven't read many mermaid books, and I'm hoping the ones I read in the future have a little more umph. If you're looking for a quick, cute read this is definitely something for you.

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According to FTC guidelines I must point out that all of the books that I review on my blog were either purchased by me or were given to me by the author/publisher. All words and opinions expressed are my own and I do not receive any monetary goods for writing reviews. I will state in my review which books I have received for review and which books I have purchased/borrowed. All images and synopsis are taken from Goodreads.com unless otherwise stated.
 
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