Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cover Reveal: Sever by Lauren DeStefano

As you know, I'm a big fan of The Chemical Garden Trilogy by Lauren DeStefano. Although I haven't actually reviewed the first book, Wither, I did review the second, Fever, and I loved them both. So I seriously can't wait to get my hands on the final instalment, Sever. Here's a sneak peek at the series:

What if you knew exactly when you would die? In the not-too-distant future, genetic engineering has turned every newborn into a ticking time bomb — males only live to age 25 and females only live to age 20.
In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out. When 16-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by "the Gatherers" to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Rhine has only one purpose after she has been married to her new husband, Linden: to escape and find her twin brother.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant to whom she is dangerously attracted, Rhine is desperate to learn the truth and protect those closest to her. But, as her sister wife Cecily keeps insisting, her role may be much bigger than that.

In the first two books of the Chemical Garden trilogy, Wither and Fever, Rhine struggles to escape the mansion and then to navigate the brutal world outside. Now in Sever, the third and final book, Rhine uncovers some shattering truths about the past that her parents never had the chance to tell her and the alarming implications regarding her own genes. She may be the one who can save the human race. (Goodreads)

Sounds awesome right? Well the other two were amazing, so I have no doubt that I'll love this last one. DeStefano has brought a unique world to the dystopian genre. Sever will be out in February of next year! Way too long of a wait if you ask me!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

YA Crush Tourney Update

Awesome! Most of my boys made it into the tournament!

Tod, Zachary, Peeta, Ash, Noah, Alex and Four all made it in!

Now the fun part begins ;)

Check out the final 32 on the site here and don't forget to vote when the time comes!

(I'll be reminding everyone, especially now that I'm on Team Kilt and working on getting Zach into the winning spot)

Monday, June 18, 2012

31. Shine

Book #31: Shine
Author: Jeri Smith-Ready
Published: May 1, 2012
416 Pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Life can change in an instant, and no one understands that better than Aura. It’s been almost a year since her boyfriend tragically died. She’s finally letting go of Logan’s violet-hued ghost, but not her search to uncover the truth about her past.

As the first in a generation that can see ghosts, Aura is convinced she has a connection to the Shift. She’s trusted Zachary, ever patient and ever by her side, with all that she knows. But when the government threatens his life in an attempt to learn Aura’s secrets, she will stop at nothing to protect herself and the one she loves...even if that means betraying her own heart.

Aura's world caught my attention the moment I fell into it. The first book in the series, Shade, introducing us to a world where ghosts haunt the living and living deal with it. After a mysterious occurrence called the Shift happens, all those under the age of eighteen can see and talk to ghosts. Aura is one of those who has to deal with listening to ghosts complain and try to move on with their afterlives. But when Aura's rockstar boyfriend, Logan, dies suddenly on his birthday, she is suddenly glad she can see ghosts. Throughout the first two novels, Shade and Shift, Aura digs into the mysteries behind the Shift and gradually moves on with her life so that Logan can pass on. This process is sped up with the help of Zachary, the gorgeous Scottish exchange student, who captures her heart and waits ever so patiently for her to move on from Logan.

In this third and final installment, Aura has discovered more about the Shift than the government would like. They now know that she was the first person born after the Shift and Zachary was the last before, and will do anything to hold them in order to find out what they can do. And boy can they do a lot. Aura, as the first, can help Shades turn back into ghosts, and Zach, as the last, is like a living black box, no ghost can come near him. When they kiss, aura takes on Zach's ability and vice versa, leaving them with the thought that they may be the only two who can end the Shift. But it won't be easy. The government holds Zach in containment and Aura is desperate to find a way to help him and to discover everything she can about the government trying to find them.

Aura and Zachary's relationship is beautiful and heartbreaking. When they are apart, you can feel Aura's agony in every breath she takes. And when they are together, it's only them against the world, trying to hold on before they are separated again. Smith-Ready knows how a heart feels when it is torn from its other half. The long distance that you feel when even though you can see them on a screen, all you want to do is touch them. Their reunion is magical, eager and too short. As they explore Ireland together, connecting the pieces of the puzzle in order to keep the world from ghosts, their love grows stronger and more inimate. There is still so much pain between them and as a reader, all I wanted was to see them have their happy ending. From the beginning, I knew Zachary was the right guy for Aura (yes I know Logan is dead, but she still loved him dearly) and I'm glad that Aura stepped out of the darkness and saw the light burning in front of her. Together, they are the key characters needed to end the Shift, and together they find a way to fall in love even when they are living on opposite sides of the ocean.

Ireland has played a key part in all three books. Logan has Irish roots and plays in a Celtic band. And Ireland is birth place of the Shift. Smith-Ready captures the magic and lore of the Isle as well as the accents and manners of the Scots. The whole world is believable and scary and the minor characters light up the scene just as much as the ghosts do. I've found a new favourite author in Smith-Ready and I can't wait to see what other magic she has up her sleeve.

“His soul's fabric was weaving itself with mine. I loved the frayed ends where it came unraveled, and I loved the strength at its firm, solid center. I loved every thread.” 

Also, don't forget to nominate Logan and/or Zachary in this year's YA Crush Tourney

Sunday, June 17, 2012

30. Anna Dressed In Blood

Book #30: Anna Dressed In Blood
Author: Kendre Blake
Published: August 30, 2011
316 Pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead. 

So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.

The story opens perfectly: Cas is right in the middle of a ghost killing. It sets the scene for what's to come - ghosts, horror, and lots of blood. We immediately know what Cas is capable of, so when we find out that he's going to Thunder Bay in search of an intense ghost, we're sure he can do what he came for. He is headstrong and a tad full of himself, yet shies away from actually getting to know people because he knows he won't be staying long. He mostly keeps to himself, ghosts becoming better friends than the living. But something about Thunder Bay is different and it's not just Anna - the ghost he's come to kill.

The characters flew of the pages for me. Cas with his take no prisoners, too good for everyone attitude, and his mother's feel good witchy love. Thomas, his first friend in Thunder Bay, a mindreader who knows just as much about the underworld as Cas does, is geeky and loveable. Carmel, the prom queen, is an unlikely team member, but she's sweet as pie and eventually shows her strength. Lastly, and most importantly, there's Anna. Innocent Anna who was gruesomely murders and now haunts the house she died in, killing all those who step foot over the threshold. That is, everyone but Cas. No one is quite sure of the reason why she spared him, but the friendship and romance that comes later proves there's more to the story than we know.

Anna is the reason why Cas is in Thunder Bay, but she is not the reason he's scared to be there. Twists and turns keep this story going and leave you wanting to keep the lights on at night. Blake captures fear perfectly, describing scenes in the exact right way to get the hairs on the back of your neck standing. Even just with Anna, we see both sides of her so fluently: the devilish side where her hair flies around her like Medusa and her dress drips blood and the innocent young girl, in her prim white dress and hope in her eyes.

I love a good ghost story, and she delivered. It did take me quite awhile to finish it, as I could only read a little bit at a time, not sure why, but it didn't quite capture me enough to want to read it all in one sitting like good books do. The romance between Cas and Anna is truly believable, since Cas relates better with ghosts than humans. Their story is heart breaking and brutal, just like her death. I can't wait to read about more of Cas' adventures in the books to follow.

“She's my purpose and we're going to save each other. We're going to save everyone. And then I'm going to convince her that she's supposed to stay here. With me.” 

Friday, June 15, 2012

YA Crush Tourney Time

It's about that time again kids!

Last year The YA Sisterhood started one amazing tournament: Crushes from our favourite YA novels. For months, it was all gorgeous boys and swooning all over blogs, Tumblr, and Twitter. Graphics arose showing half naked men pleading for your vote. Too many good reasons to vote for all of them and I'm sure we all had our favourites. Jace Wayland took the title (well deserved) so this year there are big shoes to fill! There will be some newcomers, old favourites, and underdogs rearing to take the throne.

Here are my top picks:

Nash Hudson (Soul Screamers Series)

Tod Hudson (Soul Screamers Series)

Peeta Mallark (The Hunger Games)

Zachary Moore (The Shift Series)

Four/ Tobias (Divergent)

Noah Shaw (The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer)

Number Four (I Am Number Four)

Alex (Delirium)

Ash (The Iron Fey Series)

Adam (Shatter Me)

Nominations are now open, so please nominate your favourite boys and then Vote. Vote Vote!

Friday, June 1, 2012

29. Where She Went

Book #29: Where She Went
Author: Gayle Forman
Published: April 5, 2011
264 Pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future-and each other. 

Adam's Promise: If you stay, I’ll do whatever you want. I’ll quit the band; go with you to New York. But if you need me to go away, I’ll do that too. .. And that would suck, but I’ll do it. I can lose you like that, if I don’t lose you today. I’ll let you go. If you stay.

This book achieved what I thought the first one, If I Stay, was lacking. Picking up three years since the events in the first novel, Mia is now recovered and living on her own - without Adam. Their lives changed drastically the summer after the accident and by Christmas, they were no longer in contact with each other. Told from Adam's point of view, we get to see how he's been living with the horrible aftermath. Now a world famous rock star, his life in on the brink of cracking. He's tired of being in the band and is spending one last night in New York before starting a three month long tour. He is heavily medicated, smokes all the time, and is pretty much an emotional wreck. He has not gotten over the fact that Mia left without saying goodbye, even though he knows he has to make good on his promise to stay away from her. But a chance encounter makes him rethink everything and may just be the chance for him to ask the questions that have been haunting him for so long.

Mia is quite different than what I would have expected her to be after such a heartbreaking accident. She lost her whole family, but she pushed through it. She's done very well in her career and keeps her family close to her heart at all times. She has accepted the fact that she cannot bring them back, and her strength keeps Adam on his feet. Adam seems to take the accident harder than Mia does and his thoughts and actions throughout the novel show us that he's still having a hard time dealing with everything. The tortured rock star can be an easy ploy, but Adam's torture rings true. We've all felt abandoned and alone even in a room full of people. There is only one person he wants in the world but he can't have her. You know he would give up everything just to be with her and it's endearing, heart wrenching, and tragic. 

Emotions swirl around this novel like bees at a beehive. Forman captures the reunion of old lovers flawlessly. There is anger, hurt, sadness, and happiness. Memories fill the page just as they did in If I Stay, showing the reader parts of the world they weren't a part of. And suddenly Mia's and Adam's lives become our own and all we can do is root for them, hope for them to have their happy ending. Forman includes lyrics to Adam's songs at the beginning of every other chapter. The songs are all from the album he wrote after Mia left him. They are raw, brutal, and totally honest. You can feel his hurt and rage burning off the page. We watch as Adam struggles to escape the life he's chosen for himself and witness Mia realizing her mistakes and trying to make amends. 

This novel just proves that true love can prevail. Reminiscent of Nicholas Sparks, with just a tad bit more Rock 'N' Roll, this book will take you on a roller coaster ride that, when you finally get off, will make you want to jump right back on again. 

“You were so busy trying to be my savior that you left me all alone.”

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