Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Words/Topics That Instantly Make Me Buy/Pick Up A Book

It's been awhile since I've done a Top Ten Tuesday, so I had to change that. Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top ten topic each week. This week, it's all about what words make you want to pick up a book. I can definitely say that there are certain words that make me buy books, so let's see if I can come up with ten!

Top Ten Words/Topics That Instantly Make Me Buy/Pick Up A Book 

1. Dystopian: Yes, my dystopian craze hasn't ended yet. This word still makes me have to know what the book is about.

2. Paranormal: I'm also a sucker for anything supernatural. Give me ghosts, witches and the rest any day of the week!

3. Powers/ Abilities: I've written a novel about kids with abilities, so of course I love reading other books about them too. Lately I've been a kick with Pivot Point and Mind Games (both were amazing)

4. Music: Having music be a character in a book always makes me smile. Nick and Noah's Infinite Playlist and Saving June are two good examples of slipping in great music and having it be just as memorable as the characters.

5. Corsets: Okay, so normally they don't mention corsets, but if I see one on the cover, I'll be picking up the book and reading the back. I love period pieces and I'm pretty sure I should have been born in the 1800s.

6. Faeries: I haven't read quite enough books about the fey, but I want to expand my horizons, I've always been a fan of the lore and I like to see how different authors interpret it. 

7. Zombies: Ever since reading The Forest of Hands and Teeth, I've loved the presence of zombies in YA books. This is Not a Test took the cake with that one though, and it's my favourite zombie book by far. 

8. Re-dos: I haven't read many books like this, but the concept always grabs me. Before I Fall proved to me that this could be a great plot point, living the same day over again and trying to change it. So much character building happens in these types of stories and I love it. 

9. Road trips: I love a good road trip story. The reasons are always different and the hijinks that follow are always great. I'll never tire of this topic! 

10. Love: Yes, a big one, but I'm a sucker for a love story. Whether it's in between any of the these other topics, if it's good, I will love it for lack of a better word. Fairy tales will always be my base for stories and a love that can transcend time is a topic I want to read about. 

Review: Mind Games

Mind Games
Author: Kiersten White
Published: February 19, 2013
237 pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Fia was born with flawless instincts. Her first impulse, her gut feeling, is always exactly right. Her sister, Annie, is blind to the world around her—except when her mind is gripped by strange visions of the future. 

Trapped in a school that uses girls with extraordinary powers as tools for corporate espionage, Annie and Fia are forced to choose over and over between using their abilities in twisted, unthinkable ways…or risking each other’s lives by refusing to obey.

In a stunning departure from her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy, Kiersten White delivers a slick, edgy, heartstoppingly intense psychological thriller about two sisters determined to protect each other—no matter the cost.

Oh boy, does the title for this book ever suit it! From the first page, my mind didn't quite get every detail and I got confused over events very quickly, but this is exactly what the author intended. With two very different view points, Fia, a bold femme fatale who risks everything for a guy who decided to pet a dog, and Annie, her blind, seer older sister whom she is sworn to protect. Two different girls living two very different lives, yet connected by each other. Flashing between both girls and the past and present, Mind Games left me questioning everything at the end of each chapter with no idea as to how everything would pay out in the end.

The sisters live at a school for girls with abilities. There are seers, feelers, and readers, and then there's Fia. She is one of a kind and her instincts are perfect. She knows exactly what to do and when to do it to get what she wants, and that's why Keane is so keen on keeping her around. By keeping Annie locked up in her own little apartment, Keane knows Fia won't go far because she would never leave her sister. The mystery behind these girls kept me on the edge of my seat. I didn't know for sure what Fia was really capable of, but I knew she was bad ass. She knows how to hold her own and I never knew how she'd react in a situation (and yes, that was the point, she had to be unpredictable) Though she pissed me off with some of the things she did (most of which involved James, Keane's son) Fia was a strong character who was just really messed up. considering how she's been living most of her life, it's understandable and White wrote her extremely well. Annie is kind but powerful, and though people try to take advantage of her because she's blind, she's smart enough to know when to keep some of the things she sees secret.

The book flowed perfectly, and even though I kept getting a little confused since White was only letting out so much information at a time, it just made me want to read more. Fia and Annie have been trying to plot their escape from the school for so long, without actually plotting. Both their lives are complicated and not easily described in one sentence. What I loved most was how slowly we learned about each girl's life through their individual chapters. I think this book could have been longer just so I could get to know the sisters better. There is easily room for more books and I would love to see what happens with the school after the events of the book.

White wrote that this was originally meant to be a femme fatale book, which is definitely was, but it turned out to be more about choices and how far you would go to save the ones you love. Fia and Annie have to make many tough choices throughout the book and some were good and some were very sad. Responsibilities and loyalties are put to the test as both sisters face their own challenges. Their relationship was realistic, heartbreaking and touching. Mix that in with supernatural powers, and I'm sold.

(This is going to be a series!)

“Still, I will protect Annie. She is the only person in the world who loves me. She is the only person in the world who would never use me. She is my anchor, the chain around my ankle, the thing that means it doesn't matter what James does or who he is - I will still be his because I will always be Annie's.”

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Review: Pivot Point

Pivot Point
Author: Kasie West
Published: February 12, 2013
352 Pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.

In West's world, there is a secret compound hiding people with abilities. They have advanced technology and enough skills to not need to go into the real world. Addie is a Searcher, able to see both paths of a future when faced with a decision. On the eve of her parent's divorce, she must make the choice to leave the compound and live with her father, or stay and live with her mother. Curious as to what the outside world is like, she searches both futures so she can decide which she'll choose. 

With alternating chapters switching between paranormal life and normal life (with catchy definitions involving PAR or NORM to tell you which future you're reading) we follow Addie as she lives out both lives within a matter of hours. Things change quickly in her Compound life when the quarterback, Duke,  suddenly takes an interest to her. At the same time, she's quickly making friends with Trevor, a norm boy who's sweet as pie. Each chapter, though completely different worlds, connect in subtle ways that made me smile. West is clever in her scenes and words, creating two very different lives where Addie seems like a totally different person in each one. 

A mystery slowly starts to unravel around Addie and her friends. Unexplained football accidents and missing girls lead Addie trying to figure out her alliances and keeping herself out of trouble. The plot was quick and intriguing and I found myself not wanting to put this book down. I was rooting for the norm life the entire time because I love Trevor and he was so much better for Addie than Duke. I'm still surprised that she even gave Duke a chance since he was so wrong for her. This was actually the perfect way to incorporate a love triangle because it actually didn't make me want to throw up. My only problem with the book was that the romance was more important than anything else. I would hope that she'd pick a path depending on which family member she wanted to live with, but most of it came down to boys. Then again, most teenagers make decisions based on boys, so I guess it's realistic.

I loved the skills that each person in the compound had. West did a great job building this small world within a world and I enjoyed watching how things played out. Watching Addie struggle to live without her ability was nice, and watching her find out who she is without it was wonderfully written. It was a nice, quick read with a lot of heart and I'll certainly be thinking about it for awhile longer. 

“One person can't change the future. Do you know how many people and things are involved in every major event that happens? Sure, you might be able to change some of the minor aspects of a day, but ultimately things that are going to happen, if you go along a certain path, do happen.” 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Review: With All My Soul

With All My Soul
Author: Rachel Vincent
Published: March 26, 2013
384 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

What does it mean when your school is voted the most dangerous in America? It's time to kick some hellion butt...

After not really surviving her junior year (does "undead" count as survival?), Kaylee Cavanaugh has vowed to take back her school from the hellions causing all the trouble. She's going to find a way to turn the incarnations of Avarice, Envy and Vanity against one another in order to protect her friends and finish this war, once and forever.

But then she meets Wrath and understands that she's closer to the edge than she's ever been. And when one more person close to her is taken, Kaylee realizes she can't save everyone she loves without risking everything she has...

It's going to be so hard not to spoil any of this book in this review. All I want to do is talk about it, everything that happened from start to finish, and read it over and over again. So I'm going to try my hardest not to spoil anything while also trying to tell you just how incredible this book (and series) is. I still remember browsing my local Shopper's Drug Mart and coming across My Soul To Save on the shelf. I had never heard of the series, but the back sounded cool so I picked it up. And I never looked back. It's surreal that the series is over now, but it'll always have a dear place in my heart.

One of the most underrated YA series out there, Soul Screamers is a unique take on the supernatural stories that flood bookstores. Kaylee Cavanaugh is a bean sidhe, a banshee who sings for people's souls. An boy has she been through a lot. Not only is her school constantly attacked by hellions from the Netherworld, but she's also had to deal with her boyfriend becoming addicted to Demon's Breath, his ex-girlriend getting in the way, her crazy cousin trying to get rid of her, her best friend dying and coming back to life, feelings for her boyfriend's undead, reaper brother, oh and her own death. All before she turns 17. Nothing has ever come easy for Kaylee and this final chapter of her story is no different. 

In the fifth novel, If I Die, the tables turned drastically. After her death, she comes back as a reclaimer of souls and tries to live a semi-normal life. No matter what though, the hellions want her soul and they will stop at nothing to get it. They will take everyone she loves from her until they get her themselves. Kaylee knows she has to defeat them once and for all, especially Avari, the one hellion that has tried over and over again to possess her soul. So she comes up with a plan while trying to spend time with Tod, her loving boyfriend, and try to help her best friend, Emma, get used to her new body. But when someone close to her is taken into the Netherworld, suddenly her plan doesn't seem so perfect. Soon she's making deals with hellions, spending way too much time in the Netherworld, and lying to those she loves most. And there's no way she knows if it's actually all worth it.

Kaylee is one of the strongest heroines I've ever read. She is forever my favourite and I'll never forget how brave she's been through these seven books. Yes, she makes mistakes, and some of her actions worry me, but her reasons for doing everything are understandable and I know if I were in her position (which thankfully I never will be) I'd probably react the same way. Her relationship with Tod is perfection in this book. Now that they are both dead, they can spend time completely along together and all the talk about eternity and forever brought tears to my eyes. As much as I've always loved Nash, I know there is no one else that Kaylee belongs with (more Nash for me then.) Vincent is a romantic at heart (even if she won't admit it) and she weaves such lovely words that could sound cheesy but don't when she does it. Talks of soul mates and love make me swoon when leaving Tod's mouth and I will definitely miss his unique humour. 

The hellion fighting squad is back in full force and they are just as awesome as they've ever been. Sabine will forever be my favourite side character. Her darkness and bitchy isn't as prominent in this addition, but that's part of her character development. She's still the best though. Emma struggles a lot in her new body, and even though her part is small, she has the biggest impact. I would love to see an Emma novella as her in her new body so I can see how she's handling it. Ira, the hellion of Wrath, is a nice new character and he may just be creepier than Avari, yet I, like Kaylee, kind of trusted him more. Not sure why, but I'm glad with the part he played in her story. 

I still can't believe there won't be anymore. The ending was perfect, I couldn't have asked for a better one. I was crying, laughing, and smiling all at once. Everything was perfect, I'll say it now and I'll say it again. The only thing that's keeping me from crying right now is knowing that Vincent has another book coming out shortly (Oath Bound) and that she's working on a new YA series. I know I can visit my friends from Eastlake High whenever I want and that's the best part about fiction, the characters never really leave. 

He was the closest thing to a drug that I’d ever experienced, and I had yet to find a limit to what I’d be willing to do to protect him. To keep us together.

(This review is part of Fiktshun's Mini Reading Challenge and I won the book through her. She's awesome, go visit.)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Review: Give Up the Ghost

Give Up the Ghost
Author: Megan Crewe
Published: September 15, 2009
241 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Cass McKenna much prefers ghosts over “breathers.” Ghosts are uncomplicated and dependable, and they know the dirt on everybody…and Cass loves dirt. She’s on a mission to expose the dirty secrets of the poseurs in her school.
But when the vice president of the student council discovers her secret, Cass’s whole scheme hangs in the balance. Tim wants her to help him contact his recently deceased mother, and Cass reluctantly agrees.
As Cass becomes increasingly entwined in Tim’s life, she’s surprised to realize he’s not so bad—and he needs help more desperately than anyone else suspects. Maybe it’s time to give the living another chance…
I love a book that sucks you right in from the first page. Meet Cass McKenna, a girl who can see and talk to ghosts and much prefers their company over humans. She gets to hang out with her dead sister and get all the dirt on everyone she hates at school. Her old friends have ditched her for popularity and she seeks revenge by telling all their dirty little secrets. It works for her and she likes the way she lives, that is until one of the popular guys, Tim, decides to enlist her help in talking to his dead mom. 
Cass is one of a kind and it's not just because she can see ghosts. The way she lives her life, you'd think she'd be unhappy. She is mostly alone and her mom is never around. But she prefers it that way and her attitude is a nice change from some of the girls in YA these days. Yes, she makes mistakes and she has regrets, but that's what makes her human. Some of her action in this book made me shake my head, like her schemes to get back at the cool kids, but I understand where she's coming from. Her best friend ditched her and this is the only way she thinks it'll make her feel better. It's not your normal revenge book by far, and the supernatural twist makes it even better.
It felt too short for me because I just wanted to stay in Cass's world longer. I'm glad Crewe didn't put in some plot points that I expected her to do with this kind of novel, and I loved everything she did with it. I loved how Cass's relationship with her sister only grew after she'd died. The way she dealt with Tim was heartbreaking and realistic, making her face reality instead of living with the dead. He was the perfect fit for her because he'd lost someone as well and understood what she could do. He's the only living person that knows she can see ghosts and that's what drew him to her. 
Crewe knows how to capture grief in slight words and short sentences. This book is short, but it pulls tight at the edges with great prose, hard topics, and every sort of relationship. Sibling love, parent love, friendships and lovers, everything is pulled in different directions and I had no ending how she would end this until the last page. This book stuck with me days after reading, and still hits me hard today. I haven't read anything other ghost book like this one and it was fantastic. Crewe has quickly become one of my favourite authors.
“You see? This is why you don't get mixed up in people's lives. Because the living are messy and complicated, and things end up going to hell one way or another, every time.” 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Send Me A Sign Giveaway

I've been trying to get my hands on this book since I first spoke to the the author, Tiffany Schmidt. She is a wonderful person and I follow her everywhere, but I haven't been able to find the book in any book store. Yes, I could buy it online, but I like the thrill of the chase. Plus, winning it in a contest would be fantastic. The Best Books Ever is holding a fabulous giveaway where you can win a marked up copy (hello, how awesome would that be?) or a regular copy of the book.

Read the synopsis, and you'll want to get your hands on this book too:

Mia is always looking for signs. A sign that she should get serious with her soccer-captain boyfriend. A sign that she’ll get the grades to make it into an Ivy-league school. One sign she didn’t expect to look for was: “Will I survive cancer?” It’s a question her friends would never understand, prompting Mia to keep her illness a secret. The only one who knows is her lifelong best friend, Gyver, who is poised to be so much more. Mia is determined to survive, but when you have so much going your way, there is so much more to lose. From debut author Tiffany Schmidt comes a heart-wrenching and ultimately uplifting story of one girl’s search for signs of life in the face of death.

Cancer, yes, but I don't think this will be your average cancer read. I have a feeling it'll be a lot like The Fault in our Stars and leave you feeling happy and sad at the same time. 

So go enter the awesome contest here!

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