Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lack of Posts...

As you may have noticed, there has been a lack of posts on the blog this week. This is mostly due to the fact that school has gotten to that time where it is slightly hectic with midterms and essays. I am still reading as much as I can, I just haven't had the time to sit down and do any blog work. But I am pulling through and school is getting a little less overwhelming so you can expect to see more posts popping up on the blog quite soon. 

I should definitely be back to posting more regularly and hopefully starting this week, I will be reviewing one short story each Friday from different anthologies I have on by bookshelf that need to be read. 

And if I get the 5 followers I am missing to get to 500 you may also just see a giveaway.

Thanks for sticking around even when I'm not really there!

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles

Title: Chain Reaction (Perfect Chemistry #3)
Author: Simone Elkeles
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Release Date: August 16, 2011
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Luis Fuentes has always been sheltered from the gang violence that nearly destroyed his brothers' lives. But that didn't stop him from taking risks--whether he's scaling a mountain in the Rockies or dreaming of a future as an astronaut, Luis can't stop looking for the next thrill.

Nikki Cruz lives her life by three rules--boys lie to get their way, don't trust a boy who says "I love you," and never date a boy from the south side of Fairfield. Her parents may be from Mexico, but as a doctor's daughter, she has more in common with her north-side neighbors than the Latino Blood at her school. Then she meets Luis at Alex's wedding, and suddenly, she's tempted to break all her rules.

Getting Nikki to take a chance on a south sider is Luis's biggest challenge, until he finds himself targeted by Chuy Soto, the new head of the Latino Blood. When Chuy reveals a disturbing secret about Luis's family, the youngest Fuentes finds himself questioning everything he's ever believed to be true. Will his feelings for Nikki be enough to stop Luis from entering a dark and violent world and permanently living on the edge.

Simone Elkeles is a genius. I love the stories she writes, especially how raw and gritty they are. But more than anything what I love are the Fuentes brothers. They are absolutely fantastic and I am sad that their story is now over.

When it comes to the Fuentes boys, Luis has always been the good brother. Unlike his older brothers Alex and Carlos, Luis has stayed away from the gang life that almost got them both killed. Luis has a goal and a plan to reach that goal, except that his constant search for a new adrenaline rush may cause him to lose everything. And if that doesn't do it, then maybe Nikki will make Luis throw all his plans out the window. Nikki may look Mexican, but she has nothing to do with everyone who comes form the south side of Fairfield. And she also doesn't let any boys closer to her heart because they always end up breaking it. But then Luis shows up in town and Nikki is tempted to break all the rules she's followed for her whole life. For Luis, getting Nikki to trust him may be his biggest adrenaline rush yet, that is until the Latino Blood comes knocking on his door. Now Luis has to choose between his dreams and the girl he loves, or doing what almost got his family killed once.

I absolutely loved this story. Simon Elkeles is definitely a master at writing raw and gritty stories. I had very high expectations for Chain Reaction and it completely delivered. Though I have to admit that Perfect Chemistry is still my favorite book in this series, probably just because it was the first one I read. But that doesn't mean that this one wasn't absolutely great. I especially liked how elements from the other books were incorporated into this one. But mostly it was the perfect conclusion to this series, everything came full circle and everything came to a close.

The Fuentes brothers are probably my favorite fictional boys. And Luis may just be my favorite Fuentes brother. He was always so different from Alex and Carlos, he was the good little brother. But the more I got to know him, the more I came to realize he wasn't what he appeared to be. For starters, fearless doesn't even begin to describe him. Though he was really cocky more than anything else. But it wasn't overdone and it didn't stop me from totally loving him. Nikki was also very interesting and different from the other women in this series. I loved getting to know her and I could totally see where she was coming from. Most of all I loved seeing her come out of her shell and learn to trust Luis. That was probably the best part of her character. And of course I loved getting to see Alex and Brittany, and Carlos and Kiara. The best part was probably the wedding scene.

Chain Reaction was the perfect ending to an incredible series. I can't wait for more books from Simone Elkeles. But most of all, I will miss the Fuentes brothers.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez

Title: Virtuosity
Author: Jessica Martinez
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: October 18, 2011
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. And Jeremy is hands down the wrong guy for her to fall for. He is infuriating, arrogant, and the only person who can stand in the way of Carmen getting the one thing she wants most: to win the prestigious Guarneri competition. Carmen's whole life is violin, and until she met Jeremy, her whole focus was winning. But what if Jeremy isn't just hot...what if Jeremy is better?

Carmen knows that kissing Jeremy can't end well, but she just can't stay away. Nobody else understands her--and riles her up--like he does. Still, she can't rust him with her biggest secret: She is so desperate to win that she takes anti-anxiety drugs to perform, and what started as an easy fix has become a hungry addiction. Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of always doing what she's told, doing what's expected.

Sometimes being on top just means you have a long way to fall...

Why I don't read more contemporary novels is a mystery to me. Every time I pick on up I am captivated and I fall in love with how realistic the story feels. Of course, the very same thing happened when I read Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez. It was an incredible story that captivated me from start to finish.

Her whole life, Carmen has worked toward one goal: wining the prestigious Guarneri competition and the honor that comes with it. All those years of endless violin practices and the calluses that come from hours of playing have to have been for something. But when Jeremy shows up in Carmen's life, she loses focus for the first time. What if Jeremy was better than winning the world's most prestigious violin competition. Carmen knows that she shouldn't be with Jeremy, not only is he a distraction but he's also her biggest competitor. But she can't seem to stay away from him. And it's not like Jeremy seems to mind spending time with her either. Maybe Jeremy will be the one to help Carmen feel again after months of taking anti-anxiety drugs to perform. Because what Carmen wants more than anything is to feel again.

Virtuosity was an absolutely fantastic story. To be honest, if I didn't know any better I wouldn't believe that Jessica Martinez was a debut author. Her story was incredible and there wasn't one moment it didn't feel completely real to me. And not only did it feel real, it was also absolutely captivating. Right from page one I was drawn in and I couldn't wait to find out more about the characters and their stories. More than anything, Virtuosity reminded me of why I love contemporary books so much and made me wonder why I read so little of them. But more than anything, it was simply a truly amazing story.

Carmen was such a relatable character. I honestly felt like I could relate to her on so many levels. The violin playing, the pressure she was under to perform and succeed. She was a character I absolutely loved getting to know. Her fears, her doubts, her passion, everything about her just felt completely real. And more than anything, I could understand why she felt the way about she did about Jeremy. From the moment I met him in the story, I feel a little bit in love with Jeremy. And kept falling more in love with him him the more I found out about him. He was a great character and the perfect balance for Carmen. Though it sometimes seemed like his intentions weren't always the most noble, I could tell that he really cared and would do the right thing when it comes down to it. 

Overall, Virtuosity was an absolutely incredible read. Jessica Martinez is a fantastic new author and she wrote and amazing story in this book. I absolutely cannot wait for more from this brilliant new author.

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

In My Mailbox (16)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren and inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. It's a post where we talk about the books we received during the week either for review, from the bookstore or anywhere else.

So I haven't posted an In My Mailbox in quite a while so I have a fair amount of books to show you. This is about the books I got in the past 3 weeks or so. I'm really excited abou all of them so without further ado, here's what I got in the past few weeks.


- The Pharos Objective by David Sakmyster (Deviation July 6, 2010) - I was contacted to review this one by the author and the book sounded really interesting. It's not actually a YA title but the premise and the summary made it sound like something I would really enjoy so I decided I would try it. From the sounds of it, it sounds like it could have some crossover appeal as well.

- Pregnant Pause by Han Nolan (Harcourt Children's Books September 19, 2011) - This book came out recently and I received a finished copy from the publisher. It sounds really amusing and like a nice contemporary read. I'm really excited to get to it.

- Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett (Harcourt Children's Books September 19, 2011) - I also received a finished copy of this one from the publisher after having heard about the book. I'm reading it right now and so far it's really good, but a little slow. Hopefully it will pick up once the two stories merge together.

- Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare (Margaret K. McElderry Books December 6, 2011) - You cannot even begin to imagine how excited I was when I opened the package and found Clockwork Prince in it. I was hoping I would get a review copy of it because I don't think I could have waited until December to read it. Now I just need to find a day where I have absolutely nothing on my schedule so I can sit down and read it.

Thank you to David Sakmyster, Thomas Allen & Son and Simon & Schuster Canada for sending me these books.


- Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (Dutton September 29, 2011) - I have pretty much been looking forward to and waiting for this book since I finished reading Anna and the French Kiss at the beginning of the year. I can't wait to start reading it, I just have to find a time where it won't be a bad idea to stay up all night reading it.

- Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick (Simon & Schus
ter October 4, 2011) - I'm really excited to read this book, especially after the way Crescendo ended. I read the summary on the inside cover and it looks really good. I can't wait to jump right back into this story.

- The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Doubleday September 13, 2011) - I have heard nothing but absolutely great things about this book since it came out about a month ago. It's also not a YA title but from the sounds of it, it can appeal to both a younger and older crowd so I can't wait to read it.

So those of the books I've gotten over the past few weeks. With all the awesome books coming out next week I'll definitely be heading out to the bookstore again then if not earlier. 

Let me know what you got in your mailbox and I'll come check it out!

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker

Title: The Liar Society (The Liar Society #1)
Author: Lisa & Laura Roecker
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: March 1, 2011
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Since when do the dead send emails?

Kate Lowry's best friend Grace died a year ago. So when she gets an email from her, Kate's more than a little confused.

Sent: Sun 9/14 11:59 PM
Subject: (no subject)

I'm here...sort of.
Find Cameron. He knows.
I shouldn't be writing.
Don't tell. They'll hurt you.

Now Kate has no choice but to prove once and for all that Grace's death was more than just a tragic accident. She teams up with a couple of knights-in-(not-so)-shining armor--the dangerously hot bad boy, Liam, and her love-struck neighbor, Seth. But at their elite private school, there are secrets so big people will do anything to protect them--even if it means getting rid of anyone trying to solve a murder...

The Liar Society has been sitting on my bookshelf for the longest time for no obvious reason. When I finally decided to pick it up, I had trouble putting down again. The story was mysterious and intriguing. I loved working my way through all the mysteries and putting all the pieces together.

For the past year Kate has been working on getting over her best friend, Grace's, death. But then she gets what she's been waiting for since Grace's death. An e-mail from her dead best friend. Except that dead people don't normally tend to send e-mails. Now Kate starts looking more closely at Grace's death and begins to find that everything may not be as it seems. The deeper into the mystery Kate gets, the less things start making sense. And the more e-mails from Grace she is getting. With the help of her dorky next door neighbour, Seth, and bad boy Liam, Kate tries to figure out what really happened on the night Grace died in the chapel fire. But Kate may end up discovering a lot more than just what happened to her best friend It see,s there's a lot more going on at Pemberly Brown that just good academics and a wide variety of extra curricular activities.

Lisa and Laura Roecker wrote an incredible story in this book. There should definitely be a lot more books like this one out there. I loved trying to figure everything out at the same time as Kate did. Every time I thought I was getting somewhere, some twist happened and I was back at square one. I almost started taking notes just to keep everything straight. At times it got really frustrating but at the same time it was what kept me ready, mostly without interruption. It was a complex story, but a complex story that worked and was really good. I loved everything about this book and liked how in the end everything basically came full circle. In my opinion it was a perfect ending to the story, especially since it hints at more to come. 

I love Kate, she was such a great narrator and protagonist to the story. I loved her voice and it pretty much made the story for me. Though what I liked most about Kate was how persistent she was in her quest for answers about Grace's death. No matter what was thrown her way she just seemed to take it all in stride. Seth was incredibly amusing to me. At times I felt bad for him because Kate was always turning him down but I admired his loyalty to her. No matter what, Seth was always there and willing to help Kate. Though the best part of Seth was how much of a geek he was, it just made him sound adorable. And that leaves Liam. For most of the book he was a bit of a mystery, he was just the kind of character you have to peel back layers from to figure out who he really was. Liam definitely kept me interested and I was definitely rooting for him when it came down to it.

Overall, The Liar Society was a fantastic debut novel. Lisa and Laura Roecker are a brilliant new author duo and I can't wait to read what comes next from them. Especially The Lies That Bind, the sequel to The Liar Society.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Devoted by Hilary Duff

Title: Devoted (Elixir #2)
Author: Hilary Duff
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR
Release Date: October 11, 2011
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Clea Raymond found her soulmate in mysterious and handsome Sage, and discovered they have loved each other through many past lives, all of which ended tragically. Clea wants nothing more than to prevent history from repeating itself and to be with her true love. But there are dark forces in the world: people who want to destroy Sage and the elixir that makes him immortal.

Sage has been taken, yet Clea is certain he is still alive and will stop at nothing to find him. She turns to her friend Ben, and they enter into an uneasy alliance with Cursed Vengeance, an ancient faction that has information that can lead them to Sage. Clea must get to Sage before Cursed Vengeance does, or risk his death at their hands. But Ben's role in Sage's kidnapping--and in their past lives--leaves Clea questioning whether Ben can be counted on. Just when they get closest to their goal, the events around her make Clea wonder if she's really saving Sage...or if she's leading them to repeat their disastrous pasts all over again.

When I finished reading Elixir, I was more than happy to have a copy of Devoted on hand to start reading right away. It turned out to be just as good and just as addicting as the first book. It was definitely a highly enjoyable read.

Clea is back home but she can't stop feeling bad about how she lost Sage in Japan. And she can't help but blame Ben for everything that happened. Her only comfort is that she knows Sage is still alive because he still appears in the background of her pictures. But that's not much help when it comes to finding and saving Sage from The Saviours of Eternal Life. That is until Clea first meets Amelia and her family and starts having hope of finding Sage again. Especially when a mysterious message appears on her computer screen, telling her to go to the Cursed Vengeance. Except it doesn't exactly lead to Sage, it led to an alliance with the enemy. But that doesn't stop Clea from continuing her search for Sage, especially now that she is having dreams of his location. The only problem is, Clea may just be running out of time if she has any hope of finding the Sage she lost.

If I'm being completely honest, I think I liked the story in Devoted better than the one in Elixir. I especially liked the addition of Amelia and her family to the story to provide background on the Elixir of Life. I loved finding out more about how the Elixir came to be, how it works exactly and the effects it can have in the long term. What I really enjoyed was the dual points of view, changing between Clea and Amelia. It was nice to have a new perspective, especially since Amelia's point of view was so different from Clea's. And once again, the ending was absolutely heartbreaking, except this time around, I didn't have the next book on hand to start reading right away.

I was kind of annoyed with Clea for the first part of the book, mostly because it felt like she was just sitting there pining for Sage. So I was really happy when she finally decided to do something and actively search for a way to find and save Sage. Basically, when she wasn't moping around, I liked Clea. I loved the change in Ben though. He felt like a completely different character and I personally thought it was an improvement, especially since he wasn't always trying to make Clea see the feelings he had for her. Mostly his new behaviour just amused me. In this book, Rayna was more present and I liked finding out more about her. Her relationships with boys are just the funniest thing. That leaves Amelia and her family and they were nothing if not interesting. Though Amelia and her mother were more present than the rest, it was still just interesting to see the dynamics in a family that has been around for a couple thousand years.

Overall, Devoted was a fantastic sequel. Hilary Duff and Elise Allen once again surprised me to say the very least. I can't wait for the book to find about what happens next to Clea, Sage and Ben.

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Elixir by Hilary Duff

Title: Elixir (Elixir #1)
Author: Hilary Duff
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR
Release Date: October 12, 2010
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Seventeen-year-old Clea Raymond has felt the glare of the spotlight her entire life. The daughter of a renowned surgeon and a prominent politician, she has become a talented photojournalist who takes refuge in a world that allows her to travel to many exotic places. But after Clea's father disappears while on a humanitarian mission, Clea begins to notice eerie, shadowy images in her photos of a strange and beautiful young man--a man she has never seen before.

When fate brings Clea and this man together, she is stunned by the immediate and powerful connection she feels with him. As they grow closer, they are drawn deep into the mystery behind her father's disappearance, and they discover the centuries-old truth behind their intense bond. Torn by a dangerous love triangle and haunted by a powerful secret that holds their fates, together they race against time to unravel their pasts in order to save their lives--and their futures.

If there are any books I am wary of, it's those that are written by celebrities. So I stayed away from Elixir for a very long time. But when I was given the opportunity to review the sequel,  I decided I would give it a shot. As it turned out, Elixir was a great read and at times it was even a little addicting.

Clea Raymond is used to being in the spotlight, but what she likes even more is to be the one standing behind the camera. As a photojournalist, Clea gets to travel the world, so when she gets an assignment in Rio de Janeiro, Clea jumps on the opportunity, hoping to find some answers in the last place her father was seen alive. But there seems to be more going on there than just a regular disappearance. So when Clea starts seeing a mysterious man in the background of all her pictures, Clea doesn't know what is going on. And while in Brazil with Ben, her best friend, Clea sees this same person, just not in a picture this time. As events unravel, Clea discovers more than she ever bargained for, especially when she finds out she might be tied to Sage, the mysterious man from her pictures, in more than one way. And that's not including all the people who seem to want them dead.

Lately, there seems to be more and more celebrities trying their hand at writing young adult novels and I always have my doubts and reservations about reading those books. I had exactly those feelings when I started reading Elixir but the further into the book I got, my doubts started falling away. The story was captivating and I found myself being drawn in more and more with every page that I turned. Hilary Duff, with the help of Elise Allen, wrote a pretty fantastic story, one that I didn't see coming at all. And then there was the ending. It was heartbreaking and made me especially happy to have the sequel on hand to start reading right away.

Often, if there's something that's going to let me down in a book by a celebrity, it's the characters. But in this case, the characters surprised me. I highly enjoyed getting to know Clea and find out more about her. She had an interesting personality and what I especially liked was her stubbornness. She wouldn't back down if she felt what she was doing was right and it was something I admired about her. Ben, I really liked and I felt sorry for him that Clea didn't seem to realize how he felt about her. In general, I just really liked how much he cared about those he loved. But there were other times I had my doubts about him but I don't want to give it away. Sage I don't want to say too much about because I don't want to give away the whole story. But he was still pretty great, and I'm only scratching the surface. As for Rayna, she didn't play as important a role in the story, but whenever she came up she usually managed to make me smile.

Overall, Elixir was a great read, one that I enjoyed a lot more than I ever expected to. It was a fantastic book and I was more than happy to have the sequel on hand to start reading right away. 

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Title: Shut Out
Author: Kody Keplinger
Publisher: Poppy
Release Date: September 5, 2011
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part, Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight or haze a freshman. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention.

Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. And Lissa never sees her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling, coming. In this hilarious and romantic reimagining of Aristophanes' Lysistrata, the battle of boys against girls is on.

Over the last year Kody Keplinger has definitely become one of my favorite contemporary author and Shut Out has solidified that position. It was a story I enjoyed from start to finish and Kody Keplinger definitely knows how to write a good contemporary story.

Lissa is sick and tired of coming second to the feud between her school's football and soccer teams. And what girl wouldn't get annoyed when her boyfriend runs out on their make out session because the soccer team just pulled a prank. But she doesn't think the feud will ever end seeing as it's been going on for ten years already. So instead Lissa decides to give the boys incentive to stop fighting. She and the other girlfriends of the football and soccer players pledge to go on a sex strike until the two teams end their ridiculous feud. But what Lissa doesn't anticipate is the boys retaliating, attempting to seduce the girls to get them to go against their pledge. But what Lissa really doesn't see coming is Cash Sterling, the one boy who might just be able to break Lissa's resolve. It will all come down to who will be able to resist the call of their libido the longest...or so Lissa thought at first.

Until I heard about Shut Out I had never heard about Aristophanes' Lysistrata. When I found out more about both the book and the play I knew this had the potential to be a fantastic story. And Kody Keplinger definitely proved that. The story was incredible and I was drawn in right from page one. The way she retold Aristophanes' play was done in a creative way. I especially liked how she made the rivalry be between two teams at the same school which isn't something you see that often. It was definitely a story I enjoyed and I felt completely drawn in, to the point that it sometimes felt like I was a part of the story. I don't read that much contemporary books, and Kody Keplinger is an author that definitely makes them worth it. 

I love Lissa. She was definitely a great character and I felt like I could really relate to her. I've never been in the same situation but if I ever was, odds are I would react in the same way. And I mean what self-respecting girl wouldn't? My only problem with her was that it took her a while to figure out that Randy was a complete jerk. Which leads me to Randy and what a first class jerk he was. I don't want to say too much but basically he was not a very nice person, and that's putting it nicely. And that leaves Cash Sterling. At first, I didn't really think about him too much but then he began being more present in the story. At which point I figured out that he was a super sweet person and the polar opposite of Randy. Plus it sounded like he was rather easy on the eyes.

Shut Out was an absolutely fantastic read and I loved every page of it. Kody Keplinger once again proved how great a writer she is and I can't wait to read more of her future books.

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