Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Best Series of 2012

In continuing with my year end round up, following my Best Stand Alones of 2012, it's time for my list of favourite series of 2012. These include both new and already begun series that I just couldn't get enough of. In fact, this list could be longer since I loved most of the books I read this year, but I'll keep it to five for now. 

Before I Wake by Rachel Vincent: Kaylee Cavanaugh is my favourite heroine. Her journey has been long and she's been to hell and back, but she still has so much strength in her and I know the final book in this series will be epic. If you're unfamiliar with Vincent's work, then what are you waiting for? The Soul Screamers series is definitely the most underrated best series there is.

Legend by Marie Lu: This series is sure to be a great addition to the dystopian craze. Understated and well-written, Legend tells a story from both sides, leaving us wondering which one is really the bad one. I can't wait to see where this series will go next after such an incredible debut.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth: What is there to say about Divergent? Roth is an incredible author and this series keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering where this world is going. Insurgent is certainly not a filler second book and makes you crave the last installment. Can we just get the name of it pretty please all ready?

Starters by Lissa Price: Another interesting take on dystopian and sci-fi fiction, Starters is like a Cinderella story for the end of the world. I hope there will be more information about the Spore wars in the sequel, Enders, and I can't wait to see where Callie's journey goes.

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver: In a world where love is a disease, finding it can be the death of you. After Lena escapes into the wild, her life changes drastically and we get to see the before and after of it. Another non filler, I know Requiem, the finale, will be well worth the wait.

I've read a lot of series this year and I plan on reading a lot more. I'm always up for suggestions!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Review: The Evolution of Mara Dyer

The Evolution of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Published: October 23, 2012
544 pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past.

She can’t.

She used to think her problems were all in her head.

They aren’t.

She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets.

She’s wrong.

In this gripping sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the truth evolves and choices prove deadly. What will become of Mara Dyer next?

There is something about Mara Dyer that just makes you want more. Maybe it's the fact that we don't know her real name or why she can do what she does. Maybe it's her fascination with the lovely Noah Shaw, or maybe it's because were not sure if she's actually crazy or not. Having an unreliable narrator always makes for an interesting story and with the sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, we certainly get more interesting.

After seeing her dead ex-boyfriend, Jude, in the police station, Mara finds herself in an institution due to an outburst she had. She barely remembers (as this seems to happen to her every day) and she is convinced that he is alive and decides she needs to prove it to everyone else. Things get worse when dead animals start showing up on her doorstep and things are moved in her room. She knows Jude is out there and he's watching her. She knows he wants to get revenge for his sister and he thinks that Mara has the answers to his questions. Add that to flashbacks, sleepwalking, and spending days in the asylum, and Mara's life just keeps getting more complicated.

What gripped me with the first novel still rings true throughout this sequel. Noah is still a beautiful jack ass that we still seem to fall head over heels for, and Mara is still experiencing things she has no control over. Throwing us right back in to where we left off. Mara spends most of the novel surrounded by crazy people and you can see how it affects her. When she finally gets to spend time at home and sneaking visits to Noah, she still doesn't feel safe. The only problem I found was that this book felt really long and it could have been cut down. There was a lot of scare tactics that could have been slimmed down and we still would have gotten the point. And a lot of the institute scenes felt boring and drawn out. Noah actually kind of pissed me off in this book. I know he's supposed to be a pretentious bastard, but his jokes just seemed mean and not at all funny. Hodkin kept describing him as lovely and beautiful, so I guess it's a good thing he's hot or else I don't know what Mara would see him in. But there is something about him that makes me want to love him to ruins, so I guess I'll have to give Mara the benefit of the doubt.

With twists and turns around every corner and enough suspense to keep you reading, this book will give you some more insight into Mara's character and a bit of a back story about her abilities. There are still many unanswered questions and many new ones to be asked. I'm sure The Retribution of Mara Dyer, the final book in the series, will be thrilling and amazing and I can't wait to find out how it all plays out. 

“If I were to live a thousand years, I would belong to you for all of them. If we were to live a thousand lives, I would want to make you mine in each one.” 

“We are far too screwed up for a goddamned love triangle.”

“You’re stronger than you believe. Don’t let your fear own you. Own yourself.”

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Best Stand Alones of 2012

This year is quickly coming to an end. This means some great things: the holidays are upon us and life is filled with joy and family an we get to snuggle up together by the fire to keep warm. I'm sure we all can't wait to countdown to midnight on December 31st and ring in 2013.

This also means that our Pledges of almost over. Hopefully most of us have reached or will reach our goals before the year is through so that we can start all over again on January 1st!

Closer to the end of the year, I'm going to do the hardest thing ever: pick my top ten books of 2012. But for now, I'm going to list my favourite stand alones that I read this year. Stand alones seem like fish out of water these days. Most every book I pick up is the beginning of a series. Don't get me wrong, I love series. They give you a chance to really connect with the characters, but stand alones are a nice change. You don't have to wonder what will happen next, you get to make that up all on your own in your head. So here's my list for 2012:

This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

By far my favourite zombie book. Sloane is suicidal while zombies roam free and she must decide if she's ready to end her life or ready to fight for hers and others around her. Summers has rapidly become one of my favourite authors and I can't wait to see what else she has in store.

Speechless by Hannah Harrington

In a world where rumours rule, it's nice to see a book that captures it perfectly. After letting out a brutal secret, Chelsea decides to take a vow of silence so she won't hurt anyone again. She learns a lot more than planned. I plan on reading Saving June soon because Harrington really impressed me with this novel.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Do I really have to say anything about this book? It hit every mark. It made me laugh, cry and want to throw it across the room. Green is an incredible author and his characters are so real it hurts way too much when bad things happen to them. This book will live on forever, just like Hazel and Augustus.

The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg

This book had one of the most interesting takes on death that I've seen. Each chapter was titled after a song and we watched as Brie tries to move on from her tragic death. Captured perfectly, it is definitely a book worth reading.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

This was the most hilarious book I read all year. Beauty queens stranded on a desert island - too funny. Each character had such a unique voice that I couldn't help falling in love with all of them. Especially Taylor though, because she was just too ridiculous words and everything she went through really showed her strength.

I know there are a lot of other stand alones that came out, but it seems I didn't read too many. any suggestions?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: School Spirits

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine. It highlights the books that we are most anxiously awaiting!

My Waiting on Wednesday this week is School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins. In this spin off to the fantastic Hex Hall series, we get to see what's going on in Izzy Brannick's mind as she ventures through her new haunted school. Here's the description from Goodreads:

Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy's mom decides they need to take a break.

Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who's always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.

Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt?

Rachel Hawkins' delightful spin-off brings the same wit and charm as the New York Times best-selling Hex Hall series. Get ready for more magic, mystery and romance!

I'm sure all us fans of Hex Hall are eager to read the next chapter in the wonderful world of magic, witches and demons. School Spirits is set to hit shelves May 14, 2013. I know I'll be there buying it right away!

What books are you eager to get your hands on?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Contest: The Lives We Lost ARC Giveaway

I was so pleased when I stumbled upon The Way We Fall at Shopper's Drug Mart one day. Not only did the plot sound enticing and frightening, but the author, Megan Crewe, is Canadian and I love finding new Canadian authors to love. And I was not disappointed. The Way We Fall has everything: horror, disease, a loss of hope and above all a love story that makes you want to read about it over and over again. We all know I'm a sucker for love stories. I read and reviewed in back in April and have been waiting (im)patiently for the sequel, The Lives We Lost, where we will learn more about the disease and the vaccine that Kaelyn discovered before leaving the island.

Here's the official description from Goodreads:

First, the virus took Kaelyn’s friends. Then, her family. Now it’s taken away her home.

But she can't look back—the life she once had is gone forever.

A deadly virus has destroyed Kaelyn’s small island community and spread beyond the quarantine. No one is safe. But when Kaelyn finds samples of a vaccine in her father's abandoned lab, she knows there must be someone, somewhere, who can replicate it. As Kaelyn and her friends head to the mainland, they encounter a world beyond recognition. It’s not only the “friendly flu” that’s a killer—there are people who will stop at nothing to get their hands on the vaccine. How much will Kaelyn risk for an unproven cure, when the search could either destroy those she loves or save the human race?

Ya, there's no doubt this book will hold as much strength as the first. It's not told in the same journal format, but as long as Kaelyn's voice is still strong, I know I'll love it.

So Megan Crewe, the amazing author of this series, is holding a contest on her blog for one lucky winner to take home an ARC of The Lives We Lost, and it should even get to you by Christmas! So I suggest you go over there and enter because this series is not to be missed. 

Enter the contest here and stay tuned for the review that's sure to come when I get the book ;)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Review: Burn For Burn

Burn For Burn
Authors: Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
Published: September 18, 2012
368 pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Lillia has never had any problems dealing with boys who like her. Not until this summer, when one went too far. No way will she let the same thing happen to her little sister.

Kat is tired of the rumours, the insults, the cruel jokes. It all goes back to one person– her ex-best friend– and she's ready to make her pay.

Four years ago, Mary left Jar Island because of a boy. But she's not the same girl anymore. And she's ready to prove it to him.

Three very different girls who want the same thing: sweet, sweet revenge. And they won't stop until they each had a taste.

Stories about revenge are always sweet. Throw in an island, some popular kids and a little bit of drugs and you've got yourself a party. Each of these girls had a good reason to get back at those who scorned them. Kat used to be popular and was best friends with Lillia and Rennie until suddenly she wasn't. Now she's been outlawed at school and it's time to make Rennie pay for everything she's done. Lillia went to a party in the summer and can't stand to think about what happened there. Now she's worried her younger sister is slipping into the same mistake, but she won't let that happen. This boy needs to pay. Mary just moved back to the island, finally ready to face the reason she left. Ready to get her revenge.

The minute we step onto the island with Mary, I was stuck. I never wanted to leave. With every passing chapter, I grew more curious about why these girls were looking for revenge and how they were going to get it. Han and Vivian write flawlessly together. There is no part of the story that seems out of place. There is no way of knowing when the next author takes over. Each girl has her own distinct voice and the story telling just kept me wanting more. Told from each girl's viewpoint, we gradually discover what happened to make them want revenge. Each story will break your heart and make you want to seek revenge along with them. Kat is badass and doesn't take anything from anyone. She could car less about being popular. Lillia has popularity thrown at her and she uses it to her advantage, but she's not a bitch. In fact, the way she talks to Kat even though they aren't friends anymore is inspiring. Mary doesn't know anyone but as soon as Kat and Lillia take her secretly under their wing, she has hope for new friendships. She is one of the strongest characters in the book and rarely shows fear. Every supporting character has their own personality as well. Each of the popular kids has a flaw that is shown perfectly and plays to the girls' advantage. All the characters feel like real people.

The revenge scenarios are what you'd expect during the first half of the book. They are pity, but I had to remember that they are just teenagers and to them, and those they are doing these things too, mean a lot. High school life is so completely different than one small thing can ruin anyone. Especially those kids in the popular crowd. The last revenge scheme is well planned and could possibly ruin the lives of those they plan to ruin. Of course, revenge has its consequences for both teams.

What surprised me was the slight supernatural element that Han and Vivian gradually created throughout the novel. I won't mention anything about it, but I'm still trying to figure out how it fits in with the story. I hope the second book in the series, Fire With Fire, will explain it better. Though I do hope it doesn't become the main element in the book because this novel can hold its own in the contemporary world without having to add gimmicks. I certainly hope it's not a gimmick. 

Though I haven't read any of Han or Vivian's other books, I thought their writing was amazing and I fell in love with their styles and characters. I might have to pick up a few of their books so I can get more of a taste of who they are as separate authors. 

Mary  nods first, then Lillia. I smile, because, hot damn, we're really doing this.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Review: Undeadly

Undeadly (The Reaper Diaries #1)
Author: Michele Vail
Published: November 20, 2012
272 pages
3 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

The day I turned 16, my boyfriend-to-be died. I brought him back to life. Then things got a little weird...

Molly Bartolucci wants to blend in, date hottie Rick and keep her zombie-raising abilities on the down-low. Then the god Anubis chooses her to become a reaper—and she accidentally undoes the work of another reaper, Rath. Within days, she's shipped off to the Nekyia Academy, an elite boarding school that trains the best necromancers in the world. And her personal reaping tutor? Rath. 

Life at Nekyia has its plusses. Molly has her own personal ghoul, for one. Rick follows her there out of the blue, for another...except, there's something a little off about him. When students at the academy start to die and Rath disappears, Molly starts to wonder if anything is as it seems. Only one thing is certain—-Molly's got an undeadly knack for finding trouble...

I had really high hopes for this novel. I thought it would have a Soul Screamers feel, one of my favourite series. This book was easy to read and I devoured it in three days, but it was lacking a lot of things that make me love books.

We are thrown into this world as if it's the most normal thing, but most of it is not explained throughout the story. Many people have necromancer powers and zombies and ghosts are common occurances. Molly is a ka heka, a necromancer with the power to turn the dead into zombies. If you think this is weird, on her sixteenth birthday Molly has a dream involving Annubis, the god of Death, selecting her to be a reaper. Supposedly this is common enough that there is a school revolved around training necromancers and reapers. But before Molly can even enjoy her birthday, kiss her first boyfriend, and open her presents, Rick slips, falls, and dies in her house. Despite to save him, and with her new reaper powers, she steals his soul and puts it back into his body before it can go to the afterlife. Rath, the reaper sent to actually reap his soul, witnesses this and warns her that what she's done will have consequences. Before the weekend is through, Molly is told that she has great powers and that she needs to go to Nekyia Academy to train to be Annubis' champion. Ya, everything seems thrown together in the book too. 

Nekyia is your usual boarding school. Cliques, snotty popular girls and mysterious societies make for what could be an interesting part of the book, but Vail doesn't put much into what goes on at the school. This book seems like it should be 100 page longer just so we can have more information about this world she's created. As Molly tries to figure out who she really is and what she can do, she is trained by Rath, while slowly falling for him, stalked by Rick, who seems to have something very off about him, and starts having strange dreams about students dying. 

Molly is a good character, but Vail writes her in that a way that seems too realistic. I understand you want to show that she's sixteen, but the language gets annoying after the first few chapters. She spells things wrong, says the word 'Gah' at least once a chapter, and using a little bit too much slang. It doesn't add much to Molly's character and I think it would have been stronger without all of it. There is a lot of potential in these pages. If the world was described a little better, and it wasn't all so packed into 300 pages, than I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more. Having the Egyptian gods being a main part of the story gave it a nice, unique twist. This is the first time I've seen this done and I enjoyed the history lesson. I've always been intrigued by the Ancient Egyptians and it was nice to see that depicted in teen fiction. I like that there was a little blurb at the beginning of each chapter, excepts from necromancer books, poetry, etc, that added a lot to the story. I think this helped me try to figure out everything happening in the world. I hope the sequel shows us more of this world, teaches me more about what's happening and how everything works, because I am interested in reading the next chapter to see where this all goes. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me

It's Tuesday again, which means it's time for my favourite feature, Top Ten Tuesday! brought to you by the lovely ladies at The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten is all about Christmas (which I love) and what books I'd like under the tree (yes please), so here's my list of Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me!

1. Send Me A Sign by Tiffany Schmidt: I've been looking for this book since it came out but haven't found it in any of my book stores and I'm too lazy to order online. The author is a sweetheart and even though I know the book is going to be sad, I can't wait to read it!

2. Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham: Another book I've been looking for but haven't found. It's been on my to-read list for so long! I love road trip books.

3. The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa: I'm a fan of The Iron Fey series, but there are so many other books I own that I need to read so I haven't picked this one up yet. It would be nice if someone did it for me.

4. Bewitching by Alex Flinn: Yet another author I love, but for some reason I haven't picked this book up yet. But it's for sure worth reading!

5. Girl Of Nightmares by Kendare Blake: I can't wait to see what Anna's up to next!

6. Supernaturally by Kiersten White: I'll probably own this before Christmas anyway, but I can't wait to read the sequel to Paranormalcy. I absolutely love Evie!

7. Endlessly by Kiersten White: What I said up there ^^

8. Lullaby by Amanda Hockling: I was actually going to buy a signed copy of this, but when I went back to the store the next day, they were all gone. I think it's because it was a week before it was supposed to be released, but either way, I don't have it yet.

9. Easy by Tammara Webber: Another contemporary that sounds enthralling. Just haven't picked it up yet.

10. Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George: I absolutely loved her other fairytale books and I'm so glad there's finally another one coming out! I may not be able to wait until Christmas for this one...

So, is anyone else going to be asking Santa for piles of books?

Review: My Life In Black And White

My Life In Black And White
Author: Natasha Friend
Published: June 28, 2012
294 pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

What if you lost the thing that made you who you are?

Lexi has always been stunning. Her butter-colored hair and perfect features have helped her attract friends, a boyfriend, and the attention of a modeling scout. But everything changes the night Lexi's face goes through a windshield. Now she's not sure what's worse: the scars she'll have to live with forever, or what she saw going on between her best friend and her boyfriend right before the accident. With the help of her trombone-playing, defiantly uncool older sister and a guy at school recovering from his own recent trauma, Lexi learns she's much more than just a pretty face.

The concept of this book pulled me in. A girl who has grown up being cherished for her looks, being told she's beautiful, and than losing the one thing she though defined her. Yes, it may be hard to relate to Lexi, since she seems to have it all: beauty, popularity and a hot boyfriend. But even before she goes through the windshield of a car, we get a glimpse into a life that isn't as perfect as it seems. She learns that both her best friend and her boyfriend have betrayed her so she makes the mistake of getting into a car with a guy who just wants to hook up with her. Even if you aren't the girl with the pretty face, you'll be able to relate to Lexi with the feelings and thoughts that run through her after the accident.

For the first time in Lexi's life, people look at her differently. She looks at herself differently. She doesn't want to leave the house, she doesn't want anyone to see her new face, and she certainly doesn't want to see the people who put the whole thing into effect. So she throws herself a little pity party, and you certainly can't blame the kid. Ruth, her older sister, will have none of it and she is the voice that gets Lexi out of her rut. This book is about finding out who you are when what used to define you is gone. Lexi thinks all her friends have betrayed her, but most people just don't know how to act around her anymore. While trying to avoid everyone she used to know, she finds peace with Theo, a senior who looks past her face and sees who she really is. But it seems everyone can look past her face but Lexi, and as the novel progresses, we see how she finally comes to terms with the way she now looks.

The writing in this book is perfect. Lexi's voice is young and naive, but not in a sense that makes you cringe. Friend does not use slang very often, but we never forget that a fifteen year old is talking. The way she deals with things are childish and she has a lot to learn. This makes Lexi a believable and loveable character. Most of the secondary characters don't have much depth, but Ruth is there to make up for it. She is Lexi's polar opposite but she's the only one who ends up getting though to her. Lexi and Theo's relationship doesn't seem forced or rushed, though Friend does spring some things into it that don't really add much to the story. I wish I had seen more interaction between Lexi and Ryan, as Lexi claimed she was in love with him, but they never really showed why. 

I think Friend captured trauma perfectly. Each stage of grief is there, but it's not point out directly. We see Lexi evolve throughout the story, progressing as she becomes the girl she needs to be in order to keep going. I devoured these pages and wanted more when I finished the last one. Emotions run high in this one, and they don't stop until the very last sentence. 

“Well, you're not [fat]. You have, like, the ideal balance of fat and muscle. ...If I were a cannibal, I'd eat you.” 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review: The Mark Of Athena

The Mark Of Athena (Heroes Of Olympus #3)
Author: Rick Riordan
Published: October 2, 2012
586 pages
5 Gold Stars

NOTE: I highly suggest you read the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series first, as it sets everything about this series in motion. Then, follow that with The Lost Hero, and I promise you won't regret it.

(summary from Goodreads)

Annabeth is terrified. Just when she's about to be reunited with Percy—after six months of being apart, thanks to Hera—it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. As Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the Argo II, she can’t blame the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon masthead, Leo's fantastical creation doesn't appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace.

And that's only one of her worries. In her pocket Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving demand: Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge me. Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will send seven demigods on a quest to find—and close—the Doors of Death. What more does Athena want from her?

Annabeth's biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he's now attached to Roman ways? Does he still need his old friends? As the daughter of the goddess of war and wisdom, Annabeth knows she was born to be a leader, but never again does she want to be without Seaweed Brain by her side.

Percy Jackson is, without a doubt, my favourite. I just want him to be real so we can hang out in bubbles under the sea together (Annabeth is definitely invited too!) I fell in love with him when he was just a 12 year kid with ADHD and didn't know what he was capable of. Turns out, he's capable of quite a lot. Being the son of Poseidon and all, he has a real knack for getting into trouble and finding just the right way to get out of it. His friends certainly help him a lot, especially Annabeth, the wise daughter of Athena, who steals his heart and promises to never let go. The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series ends with our friends, now teenagers, destroying the Titans and saving Olympus. Percy also gets the perfect underwater kiss from Annabeth and things seem like they're looking up for our young heroes.

Which is why, of course, the Heroes Of Olympus series starts with a whole new problem and all new quests. We meet a new group of demigods and discover a whole new enemy that must be defeated. In the first instalment we meet Jason, Piper, and Leo. Jason doesn't remember who he is and it turns out that he is from a Roman camp that has been hidden from the Greek demigods. Hera has swiped him and Percy, hoping that they each can gain the trust of the opposite camps so that they can work together to defeat Mother Earth from awakening and destroying Olympus once and for all. Percy has been at the Roman camp becoming friends with Hazel and Frank. Together, the seven of them make up a big prophecy, one that may end some of their lives.

The Mark Of Athena starts with what we've all been hoping for - a Percabeth reunion. Having to go through two books knowing they weren't together was torture, and when they finally meet each other after those long months apart, it is perfection. Riordan knows how to make us want more. And just as Percy and Annabeth are getting to remember each other, the crew is sent through the Mediterranean to Rome to find Nico, Hades's son who has been captured by giants. Annabeth has her own quest she must complete though. She must follow the mark of Athena and find the missing Athena statue and return it to Olympus. The only problem is she must do it alone and it's all Percy can do not to stop her. Just as our power couple is brought back together, they are torn apart and we are left wondering if they will ever see each other again. 

This book has a lot more character development than most of the others. Told from four different viewpoints, we see some couples grow closer together while others fall apart. Piper and Jason seem to have a superficial relationship, but I know they both love each other deeply. Leo reminds Hazel of her old boyfriend and is therefore thinking about him as well as her boyfriend, Frank. But what's important is that Greeks and Romans work together to fulfill the prophecy and rescue Nico. While the other Romans plan an attack on Camp Half-Blood, our heroes work together to try and close the Doors of Death and bring peace and order back to the world. 

The adventures in this book trump all the others. As soon as they land in Rome, you know things are going to get tough. With plans of going to Greece in the next book, The House Of Hades, I know this quest will just get more epic by the minute. Will our heroes survive? Can they close the Doors of Death? I don't want to spoil the ending of this book, as it is a turning point in the story, but all I'll say is that if you weren't attached to the characters when you started H.O.O., you'll certainly be eager to read the rest of their story come November next year. This series is turning out to be tougher, wittier, and scarier than the last, keeping you turning the pages until the very end and then saying "Wait? It's over?" when you get there.

“It's okay,” he said. “We're together.” He didn't say you're okay, or we're alive. After all they'd been through over the last year, he knew that the most important thing was that they were together. She loved him for saying that.” 

“We're staying together," he promised. "You're not getting away from me. Never again.” 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Pining for 2013

So it's the end of November and soon 2012 will be over. The good part about this? 2013 promises some fantastic book releases and much anticipated sequels to our favourite series. This week's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is all about those books we're anticipating for 2013. These are the ones I can't wait to get my hands on!

1. Requiem by Lauren Oliver: The final instalment in the Delirium trilogy is sure to come to a breathtaking conclusion. I can't wait to see how Lena survives in a cured world.

2. Fever by Lauren DeStefano: Another one of my favourite dystopian series, I know the conclusion to The Chemical Garden trilogy will leave me gasping.

3. With All My Soul by Rachel Vincent: By far, the series that I never want ending. Soul Screamers is one my top series and through the six books so far, Kaylee has been through hell and back and kicked so much butt there and back. I know this final book will have it all, but I'm sad to see the series end.

4. My Name Is Rapunzel by K.C. Hilton: There isn't much information about this book, but it's about Rapunzel and that's good enough for me. I can't wait to see where the author will take this fairy tale.

5. Dance Of Shadows by Yelena Black: Deadly ballet? Yes please. This book sounds hauntingly beautiful and I can't wait to get my hands on it.

6. All The Rage by Courtney Summers: Summers is one of my top authors and I'm so excited for her new book. Her characters pop off the pages and her plots leave you on the edge of your seat. This one sounds like it will be the best of both worlds.

7. Pivot Point by Kasie West: I love tales about people with special abilties. This one is about a girl who can see both outcomes for the future. Sounds intriguing.

8. The Program by Suzanne Young: A new dystopian series about a program that takes away suicidal thoughts, but leaves an empty cell behind sounds like it could be up there with Delirium and Divergent.

9. Towering by Alex Flinn: Flinn has a way with fairy tales. She takes well known stories and turns them into something completely original and new. So I know that her Rapunzel will give Tangled a run for its money.

10. The House Of Hades by Rick Riordan: So I just finished The Mark Of Athena and it left me broken hearted and eager for more. So November 2013 can't come soon enough because I need to know what happens next!!

And, as a honourable mention, simply because it doesn't have a title yet, Divergent #3 is definitely one of my top books I'm pining for. This is one of my favourite series and I know the conclusion will be epic!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Review: Paranormalcy

Author: Kiersten White
Published: August 31, 2010
335 Pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Evie's always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she's falling for a shape-shifter, and she's the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours.

But Evie's about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.

Evie Green is a breath of fresh air in a sea of boring, frigid heroines. She's funny, sarcastic and has a mean sense of fashion. Plus, she kicks serious paranormal butt. The opening lines to this book says it all - 

“Wait- did you-- You just yawned!” The vampire’s arms , raised over his head in the classic Dracula pose, dropped to his sides. He pulled his exaggerated white fangs back behind his lips. “What, imminent death isn’t exciting enough for you?”

“Oh, stope pouting. But, really, the widow’s peak? The pale skin? The black cape? Where did you even get that thing, a costume store?” 

This was hilarious! And it certainly set the pace for the rest of the novel. Evie deals with some serious stuff and deadly beings but she hardly shows any fear. In fact, the only thing that scares here is Reth, her ex-faerie-boyfriend-thing. And you can't blame her because he has some serious mojo over her and I'd be scared to sleep too. But even with that fear lurking around her, she doesn't let it stop her from working and making friends, especially with the new kid that broke into the centre (the IPCA, which helps keep paranormal beings stabilized). Lend, a shape shifter, catches Evie's attention immediately. He is a supernatural being that she's never met before and he feels the same way about her. 

See Evie isn't entirely human. She can see through glamours, the mist that paranormal beings use to make themselves look normal to humans. She has always been able to see whats underneath, but she thought it was just a gift. Soon, with the help of Lend, she realizes she's much more than that. And with someone out attacking paranormals, Evie isn't sure what's safe and what's not anymore. The centre has forever been her only home and she's desperately wants to be a normal teenager. but by the looks of it, that's not going to be happening anytime soon. 

As Evie tries to live a normal life, hell breaks loose around her. Reth is still trying to take her heart and this rampaging paranormal showing itself to her. Add in Lend, vampires and werewolves and Evie's life is far from normal. This book was super easy to read and it threw me into a world that I didn't want to leave. I can't wait to pick up the next instalment, Supernaturally, to see what will happen next in Evie's crazy life. 

“Tasers are a one-size-fits-all paranormal butt-kicking option. Mine’s pink with rhinestones.” 

“I hate the vamp jobs. They think they're so suave. It's not enough for them to slaughter and eat you like a zombie would. No, they want to be all sexy, too. And trust me: vampires? Not. Sexy.” 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Review: The Rise Of Nine

The Rise Of Nine
Author: Pittacus Lore
Published: August 21, 2012
360 Pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Until the day I met John Smith, Number Four, I'd been on the run alone, hiding and fighting to stay alive.

Together, we are much more powerful. But it could only last so long before we had to separate to find the others. . . .

I went to Spain to find Seven, and I found even more, including a tenth member of the Garde who escaped from Lorien alive. Ella is younger than the rest of us, but just as brave. Now we're looking for the others--including John.

But so are they.

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They caught me in New York--but I escaped.
I am Number Six. 
They want to finish what they started.
But they'll have to fight us first.

So I thought this was the final book, thus I expecting a lot of fighting and Mog killing and the Legacies finally getting their revenge and being able to get home to Lorien. Either way, the adventure throughout this book did not disappoint, I suppose I should have made sure it was the last one or not before I started it. That may have changed my judgement.

All the Legacies have been found but one. Though separated, Six and Four have a plan to reunite as soon as they can find others. Six is in India with Seven, Ten and a Cepan, looking for Number Eight. Four is still in the U.S. with Nine looking for Sam, hoping he's okay. He's been having strange dreams and thinks there's more to him than he thinks. None of them know how they'll ind each other again or where Setrakus-Ra is or how to defeat him. As their legacies develop and they continue to find each other, they come closer to finally going home. 

This novel is told from three vantage points: Four, Six and Seven. It's easy to know who's talking as Lore indicates it quickly in the writing. This way we get to see what's happening on both sides of the world, and as the Legacies get closer together, I felt I was on the edge of my seat waiting for them to find each other. Its similar to The Power Of Six in that way, now that the Legacies know about each other, it's all about getting together to fight. There are many twists and turns along the way and there are still many unanswered questions. 

Lore's writing is fluent and solid and easy to read. He draws you in and doesn't let you go until the last page, and even then he keeps you wanting more. The characters are all different and unique even though most of them have the same sort of powers. I like that they all have more than one ability and get away with it because they are aliens. The concept has intrigued me from the start and now I really want to read the last book (hopefully it's the last?) so that I can see how this series ends. It seemed like the type of series that could have been done in three, so I'm hoping the next one is the last because I don't want it to drag on. I can't wait to meet the last legacy and for them to finally defeat the Mogs and make their way home. 

Who will have the powers of Pittacus Lore? Who  will be the one to defeat Setrakus-Ra? Will they all make it out alive? Wish I didn't have to wait a year to find out!

“I know what I'm capable of; I am a soldier now, a warrior. I am someone to fear, not hunt.” 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review: Safe Haven

Safe Haven
Author: Nicholas Sparks
Published: September 14, 2010
340 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

When a mysterious young woman named Katie appears in the small North Carolina town of Southport, her sudden arrival raises questions about her past. Beautiful yet self-effacing, Katie seems determined to avoid forming personal ties until a series of events draws her into two reluctant relationships: one with Alex, a widowed store owner with a kind heart and two young children; and another with her plainspoken single neighbor, Jo. Despite her reservations, Katie slowly begins to let down her guard, putting down roots in the close-knit community and becoming increasingly attached to Alex and his family.

But even as Katie begins to fall in love, she struggles with the dark secret that still haunts and terrifies her . . . a past that set her on a fearful, shattering journey across the country, to the sheltered oasis of Southport. With Jo’s empathic and stubborn support, Katie eventually realizes that she must choose between a life of transient safety and one of riskier rewards . . . and that in the darkest hour, love is the only true safe haven.

I quickly became a Sparks fan after reading The Notebook. I then decided his books would be all that I'd read for months. I got pretty far, finished all but five of them, before my heart couldn't take it anymore. So I stopped, for quite some time, so that I could repair the damage he had done. Now with a movie coming out for Safe Haven in February, I knew it was time to get back into the game. My heart was ready. I dove in preparing for the worse and came out with some tear shed but not the kind I expected.

Safe Haven takes a new turn that I have yet to see in any of Sparks' novels. Katie escapes to a small North Carolina town to hide from her abusive husband. Her plan is to stay low key, save up some money, and leave whenever she feels she's been there too long. But after meeting her neighbour, Jo, and the friendly and cute store owner, Alex, she quickly decides that this is where she should be. Soon she is falling in love with a wonderful man who treats her right and letting her guard down for once in her life. Things seem perfect and it's up to her to decide if this is the life she wants to live now. But her husband, Kevin, is a good detective and it's only a matter of time before he finds her. 

This book kept me on the edge of my seat. Life in Southport seemed too perfect and I knew something bad was going to happen. I craved each page to see if Katie would get her happy ending. I cried when Katie told Alex the story of how she escaped, why she had to leave. The things that Kevin did to her are all too common in some marriages and I'm glad Katie was brave enough to leave him. I know it's hard to believe that someone you love would do horrible things to you, but some women live in fear every day. Katie finds a life where she is safe and loved and she deserves it more than anything. I prayed that nothing would happen to Alex's child, the only reminders of her deceased wife. The suspense kept it from being too mushy and romantic but don't get me wrong, there was a lot of that. This is a Sparks novel after all.

And it did not disappoint. The romance was slow and timid, both lovers having been through terrible things. They find hope with each other in the most believable way. I'm amazed that Sparks can take two ordinary people, in all situations of life, and create a fulfilling story that leaves you thinking about it long after you're done. He knows exactly what to say to pull those heartstrings and make the waterfalls flow. I'm excited to get back into his novels, I just need to take it slow. I can't overwhelm my heart like I did the last time. 

“She wasnt exactly sure when it happened. Or even when it started. All she knew for sure was that right here and now, she was falling hard and she could only pray that he was feeling the same way.” 

“I've come to believe that in everyone's life, there's one undeniable moment of change, a set of circumstances that suddenly alters everything.” 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Top Ten Kick Ass Heroines

Yay it's Tuesday! That means it's time for Top Ten Tuesday, the wonderful weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's list is a topic I love. Heroines are my favourite part of novels. I like a strong female lead that I can relate to and watch kick some serious butt. It's good to know that there are a lot of there!

 1. Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games): Hands down, my favourite heroine. She is brave, fierce, stubborn and would do anything for her family. In my make believe world, I'm exactly like her

2. Tris (Divergent): Tris is small and quiet but she proves that even if you're tiny, you can do whatever you put your mind too.

3. Kaylee Canvanaugh (Soul Screamers): Kaylee has been through a lot and she's only just discovered that a lot of what's happened in her life is because she is actually a bean sidhe, a banshee. Instead of cowering in a corner, she takes on the Netherworld head first and will do whatever it takes to make sure those she loves are safe.

4. Taylor Rene Krystal Hawkins (Beauty Queens): Okay, so this book is chalk full of kick ass heroines that find ways to survive on a deserted island. Taylor is my favourite though. She is a little priss but when it comes to finding a way out, she goes totally Lord Of The Flies and proves just because she's pretty doesn't mean she can't live in the wilderness.

5. Annabeth Chase (Percy Jackson): The epitome of smart, beautiful, and full of fight. Annabeth will do anything for her friends and her brains take her far as she goes on quest after quest. She never let her love for Percy weaken her and I think that's a kick ass trait to have.

6. Lena (Delirium): More so in Pandemonium, we see Lena's strength and ability. She fights for what she believes in and will not let the government rule her world. She is cautious in love, but falls deeply once her guard is down.

7. Six (I Am Number Four): Ya, she's an alien and ya, she has awesome abilties. She is fierce, ruthless and practically invincible, but when she meets Number Four, her guard goes down a little. There is a softer side to her but that hard shell keeps her strong.

8. Liv (Blood Bound): Rachel Vincent has a way with kick ass characters. I haven't read her Shifters series yet, but I bet Faythe is just as kick ass as Liv. She takes all the pain that comes with her job but doesn't lose herself in the process. She will do anything to keep her family safe and will stop at nothing to be free from her bounds.

9. Sophie Mercer (Hex Hall): What I like most about Sophie, is that she's geeky, clumsy and doesn't come off brave at all. But when the time comes, she shows her true colours. I don't think you have to be strong and confident all the time to be a kick ass heroine. What matters most is how you act in the time for bravery.

10. Eowyn (The Lord Of The Rings): Saving her for last, she's quite possibly one of the first kick ass heroines I read. When I first met her character, I fell for her. She was sad and broken, but boy was she tough. And she continued to prove her strength throughout the series and ends up being the one who defeats the biggest, baddest enemy there is. Can you get more kick ass than that?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Review: Breathe

Author: Sarah Crossan
Published: October 2, 2012
373 Pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Inhale. Exhale. 
Breathe . . .
The world is dead. 
The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.

has been stealing for a long time. She's a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she's never been caught before. If she's careful, it'll be easy. If she's careful.

should be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it's also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn't every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.

wants to tell him that none of this is fair; they'd planned a trip together, the two of them, and she'd hoped he'd discover her out here, not another girl.

And as they walk into the Outlands with two days' worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?

Imagine The Lorax with a nice dystopian twist and more romance. This is what Breathe reminds me of. The world has no oxygen left since all the trees have been destroyed. Now, living in a pod in the middle of nowhere, society is trying to survive. The pod is separated into three sections, Premiums, Stewards, and Auxiliaries. Quinn is a Premium but his best friend, Bea, is an Auxiliary. This doesn't stop him from helping her out with oxygen tanks and promising her vacations outside the pod. Alina is part of the Resistance. She has been stealing tree clippings from the Botany room in hopes of getting them to the Resistance outside the walls. But she needs help and she plan on getting it from Quinn.

The pod life is very realistic. The Auxiliaries are only given a certain amount of oxygen to survive and they need to buy more if the need it. Similar to a hydro bill, they are billed for the amount they use and most can't afford to do anything other than sleep and eat. Lovers can't make out without fear of having to pay more and not being able to afford it. The underclassmen can't exercise unless they have a portable tank, which only the Premiums have access to. There is a clear line of upper and lower class and it's not hard to imagine a world where we are separated so drastically like this. 

This story throws you right in. We are shown the pod through the eyes of the upper and lower class and they both see the problem. The Pod Minister is up to something and Quinn is stuck in the middle of it. So when he and Bea are on their way out of the pod for a vacation, he takes Alina up on her ask for help. He gets the three of them out of the pod safely but things are not what they on the inside or out. Soon they see the Resistance and what they've been planning. Fighting for survival with only the oxygen on their backs, these three teens will stop at nothing to prove what is really going on in the pods.

There are three view points, one for each main character, and Crossan finds a way to make the transitions smooth. I knew exactly who was talking based on the scenario and voice. I was never confused or had to check back at the beginning of the chapter to remind myself who was talking. Each how such different views of the world and I got to see exactly how this world played out to each of them. 

Dystopians have become very predicable to me. Maybe it's because I've read so many, but everything seems to play out the same. I like the  concepts that these authors are coming up with. I mean, none of know how the world will end or what will cause an apocalypse, so plausible ones, like no more trees, sound very real. There is sort of a love triangle but it doesn't play out so much so that I want to scream at the book. (Have I mentioned I hate love triangles?) And the actual love story seems realistic enough. There were a few twists and I certainly couldn't put the book down, but I expect The Hunger Games or Divergent when I read dystopians now and this didn't quite live up to either of those. 

I allow myself to be right here, in the moment, savouring the peace. All the millions and millions of stars remind me, too, how small and fragile I am. And unimportant, really. If this branch were to creak and moan and break under my weight, and I were to plummet to the ground, the stars in the sky would continue to decorate the world. And even if the last tree disappears from our planet, the stars will still be up there. 

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