Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Million Suns

Author: Beth Revis
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Released: January 24, 2012
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Series: Across the Universe
Source: Bought
Challenge: Speculative Romance, Mystery and Suspense

It's been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. Everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed.

But there may be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He's finally free to act on his vision - no more Phydus, no more lies.

But when Elder learns shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a mystery that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier. Their success - or failure - will determine the fate of the 2,298 passengers aboard Godspeed. But with each step, the journey becomes more perilous, the ship more chaotic, and the love between them more impossible to fight.

Beth Revis catapulted readers into the far reaches of space with her New York Times bestselling debut, Across the Universe. In A Million Suns, Beth deepens the mystery with action, suspense, romance, and deep philosophical questions. And this time it all build to one mind-bending conclusion: They have to get off this ship.
 Wow. This book sure packs a punch! I was coming off reading Hallowed, which was a tear-jerker, an emotional beauty. And then A Million Suns took off with suspense and intrigue and suspicions - and action and lots of twists and surprises!

Amy and Elder have to face impossible choices, they have to unravel a trail of clues, they have to attempt to lead the ship when they are the youngest member aboard. The task they face is daunting, and I love the way they deal with it - not because it's the right way, which many times it actually isn't, but because it keeps a sense of humanity and psychological problems even when dealing with futuristic technology and "philosophical questions." I really like the way we get to see more and more inside their heads, and we get to know them so that by the time they have to face the biggest decisions, we sort of can predict what they'll do - but of course, that turns to nothing when Beth reveals the next shocking secret!

Much more than the characters, this book is great because of the pacing and sheer shock factor. Everything builds and builds and builds, to the point where something is bound to crack - and then it does, and everything explodes! Beth keeps us guessing, but honestly we can't actually guess what she will reveal next.

So this entire book is an up-and-down ride, with very little down - it's one thing after another, and I couldn't put it down!


Author: Cynthia Hand
Publisher: HarperTeen
Released: January 24, 2012
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Series: Unearthly
Source: Bought
Challenge: Speculative Romance, YA/MG Fantasy

For months Clara Gardner trained to face the fire from her visions, but she wasn't prepared for the choice she had to make that day. And in the aftermath, she discovered that nothing about being part-angel is as straightforward as she thought.

Now, torn between her love for Tucker and her complicated feelings about the roles she and Christian seem destined to play in a world that is both dangerous and beautiful, Clara struggles with a shocking revelation: Someone she loves will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.

In this compelling sequel to UNEARTHLY, Cynthia Hand captures the joy of first love, the anguish of loss, and the confusion of becoming who you are.

Cynthia said in an interview that she originally wanted to call this book "Sorrowful" - and I totally get why. Hallowed has way more grief and sorrow than Unearthly - but at the same time, Hallowed has just as much tender romance and emotion.

I loved Clara, Tucker, and Christian in the first book, and the second book only adds to that. Their relationships grow and tangle, but never does any lose my respect in situations that are very hard to handle. Yes, there is a great scene between Tucker and Christian fighting over Clara, but somehow I was able to be rooting for both of them in that scene! I chuckled when Clara thinks an aside about the ridiculousness of novels and movies having love triangles, and the way she analyzes how she's going through that very thing just made me feel for her more, because she comes across as intelligent and frustrated, with a real choice to make.

The way Cynthia portrays everything, the people and angels as well as the situations themselves, sets up choices that Clara has to make, and those choices are not easy. It's not clear which way is the right way, it's not clear which boy she should choose or how she should react to the revelations she has to face. I love how Clara is so torn, how realistically she struggles with these choices, how she tries to fight destiny while making her own fate.

And that's another thing I love about the book - it very subtly explores the balance between free will and destiny (in a decidedly non-religious fashion). I suspect that the third book will delve more fully into this, and I'm looking forward to seeing how Clara reconciles her purpose with her love. She already starts doing that at the end of this book, but I'm sure that's only the tip of the iceberg!

I was completely gripped by the story, by the writing, by the characters. Unearthly took my breath away, and Hallowed blew me away completely!

In My Mailbox 29

In My Mailbox is a meme created by Kristi of The Story Siren, where bloggers share the contents of their mailbox that week - books bought, borrowed, received... It's a great way to see lots of new books all at once, and leads to great coveting and more buying!

Here's what I got this week:
Switched by Amanda Hocking

To Walk the Night by E.S. Moore
Be My Texas Valentine (anthology)

And last week, I saw one blogger - I wish I could remember who - who listed her school books. I always wanted to do that, but I thought since this is really a fiction blog, it's a little out of place. But this semester, I've got some great textbooks. So here goes!

For Philosophy of Language: 
The Philosophy of Language, by A.P. Martinich

For Anthropology: Language and Society:
The Language, Ethnicity, and Race Reader

For Classics: Women in Antiquity:
Women's Life in Greece and Rome
Women in the Classical World
I'll be getting my English books this week, so you'll see them in the next IMM!

Happy reading!

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Author: Amanda Hocking
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Released: 2010
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Series: Trylle Series
Author's Website:
Source: Library
Challenge: YA/MG Fantasy, Speculative Romance

When Wendy Everly was six years old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. Eleven years later, Wendy discovers her mother might have been right. She's not the person she's always believed herself to be, and her whole life begins to unravel - all because of Finn Holmes.
Finn is a mysterious guy who always seems to be watching her. Every encounter leaves her deeply shaken...though it has more to do with her fierce attraction to him than she'd ever admit. But it isn't long before he reveals the truth: Wendy is a changeling who was switched at birth - and he's come to take her home.
Now Wendy's about to journey to a magical world she never knew existed, one that's both beautiful and frightening. And where she must leave her old life behind to discover who she's meant to become...

I loved Wendy right from the first pages of Switched. She's the perfect blend of fierce and independent, spoiled and self-centered, and selfless and emotional. Her tone throughout the book conveys everything she's feeling at every point - achingly so at times. And what she's feeling at each turn is so real, so right for the situation - her character is an organic growth, real and 3D and completely believable.

The ideas of identity and of family are brilliantly explored in the story. Wendy of course has to come to terms with being a Trylle rather than a human, but it goes deeper than that and questions that classic "nature vs. nurture" debate. It's amazing, though, the way the Trylle community is not at all one-dimensional. We see many different facets of the various people, and Wendy has to base her decision not on a single characteristic of the Trylle but on the whole complex situation - and I love that!

I also love the way the concept of family is dealt with. The cover has the the line "What if your entire life was built on a lie?" and before I even read the book, this line sparked a discussion with my mother about whether kids finding out they're adopted should feel that their lives up till then have been a lie. We concluded that whatever they had till then was actually truth - and when I read the book, I was happy to see the same issue subtly poking through at times.

As for Wendy's romantic relationships - it's funny, but for once I wasn't at all put off by the two-guy situation. Both boys are genuinely easy to like, and the way each one's relationship with Wendy develops is so smooth and real. And it takes a while for both - it's not automatic attraction, which sometimes works but usually falls flat for me. In Switched, it's not so obvious, and I expect to see more of both in the next books.

And for once, I'm happy to be reading a book a while after it was published, because now I don't have to wait longer than it takes to get the books from the library in order to read the sequels!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Line

Author: Teri Hall
Publisher: Dial (Penguin)
Released: 2010
Genre: YA Dystopian
Series: Yes (Away #2)
Source: Library
Challenge: Dystopia 2012

Rachel lives with her mother on The Property. The good thing about living there is that it's far from the city, where the oppressive government is most active. The bad thing, at least to most people, is that it's close to the Line - an uncrossable section of the National Border Defense System, an invisible barrier that encloses the entire country. 

She can see the Line from the greenhouse windows, but she is forbidden to go near it. Across the Line is Away, and though Rachel has heard many whispers about the dangers there, she's never really believed the stories. Until the day she hears a recording that could only have come from across the Line.

It's a voice asking for help.

Who sent the message? What is her mother hiding? And to what lengths will Rachel go in order to do what she thinks is right?

Published before the huge success of dystopian trilogies like Matched and Delirium, The Line deals not with governmental regulation of love but with governmental oppression and the fine line between security and freedom. I really liked that though Rachel is the one to take the action forward at every step, she's not always alone and she does have adult help at times.

The writing of this book is superb. There's a tense undertone to everything, even to some extent before Rachel gets involved in anything suspicious or illegal. And the explanation of what happened to get the country to this state is brilliantly woven into the story so we get it smoothly and without interruption of the action.

I love the characters of the story. Rachel, her mom, Ms. Moore, and even Jonathan and Peter, sound really believable - flawed in ways that propel the story and in ways that make sense given the situation of their society.

The Line  is a really good exploration of issues very relevant to today's young adults, beautifully executed and a good read.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher: Poppy (Little, Brown & Co.)
Released: January 2012
Genre: YA Contemporary
Series: No
Source: Library
Challenge: None
Buy on Amazon

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. Having missed her flight, she's stuck at JFK airport and late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's sitting in her row.

A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?

Who would think a novel that takes place in exactly twenty-four hours with very few flashbacks could be so completely captivating? But Jennifer E. Smith in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight accomplishes just that - from the moment Hadley and Oliver meet to the moment when there is a promise of "beginning," I felt like I really got to know both Hadley and Oliver really well. And knowing the characters well makes the story flow along so beautifully.

I loved how the book touched on other subjects as well as love at first sight, like Hadley's dad remarrying, Oliver's relationship with his dad, Hadley dealing with her mom... In fact, Jennifer weaves the story together so brilliantly that the romance becomes a sort of backdrop for two characters dealing with emotions, and then the romance takes center stage to bring it all together.

As for Oliver... there's very little physical description of him, which I like, because he's such a perfect guy that I was happy to be able to imagine him my own way. I love how he's there for Hadley through most of the first half of the book, and I was completely enchanted by everything he says and does. He's just so perfect! But I also love that Hadley gets the chance to be there for Oliver as well, and that Oliver shows that he has his weaknesses too. For me, that balance between the guy and the girl says so much about where this relationship is headed, and again, Jennifer is a genius for managing to get all that across in under 250 pages.

That statistical probability is that 98% of readers will fall in love with this book at first sight!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Living Violet

Author: Jaime Reed
Publisher: Kensington Books
Released: January 2012
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Series: The Cambion Chronicles (Burning Emerald: May 2012, Fading Amber: 2013)
Author's Website:
Source: Publisher
Challenge: Debut Author 2012, Supernatural Romance
Buy on Amazon

Samara Marshall is determined to make the summer before her senior year the best ever. Her plan: enjoy downtime with friends and work to save up cash for her dream car. Summer romance is not on her to-do list, but uncovering the truth about her flirtatious co-worker, Caleb Baker, is. From the peculiar glow to his eyes to the unfortunate events that befall the girls who pine after him, Samara is the only one to sense danger behind his smile. 

But Caleb's secrets are drawing Samara into a world where the laws of attraction are a means of survival. And as a sinister power closes in on those she loves, Samara must take a risk that will change her life forever. . .or consume it.
The premise of this book is interesting, and it plays out nicely. Although we never really find out why Samara is immune to Caleb's charm and attraction, she vacillates between trusting and being completely suspicious of him very convincingly. I like the added detail of Samara being biracial and the way it subtly plays into the main plot and ties in.

The whole cast of characters is very interesting, and I like how each one has his/her own distinct personality. I loved Samara's tone right from the start, and as each character entered, their tones matched their personalities perfectly. I especially like how the book doesn't explore only Samara and Caleb's romantic relationship, but also friendship and a very different kind of romantic relationship with Mia and Dougie.

I really like the way the book ends - that twist came from nowhere, and the way Samara deals with it is great. And the sample chapter from Burning Emerald made me curious to see how the romance will progress based on this new twist!

In My Mailbox 28

In My Mailbox is a meme created by Kristi of The Story Siren, where bloggers share the contents of their mailbox that week - books bought, borrowed, received... It's a great way to see lots of new books all at once, and leads to great coveting and more buying!

I've got a LOT of books this week, so it's a good thing I started being serious and using my time well by reading all day long. Help me decide which of these to read first!

I'm happy to report that this week, I've gotten quite a few contemporary titles, so it's not all fantasy and paranormal. I didn't sign up for a contemporary challenge because I read so little contemporary, but I'm thinking maybe that's precisely the reason I should join that kind of challenge...


A Million Suns                       Bloodrose                        Hallowed
Across the Universe #2               Nightshade #3               Unearthly #2
Beth Revis                              Andrea Cremer                Cynthia Hand

From Kensington Publishing's Remote Reviewer Program:

Scrapbook of Secrets            Living Violet                 The Year of Eating Dangerously
Mollie Cox Bryan                Jaime Reed                                K. Bennet

Hunted                                               Words Get in the Way                   A Breath of Eyre
Rebecca Zanetti                                          Nan Rossiter                             Eve Marie Mont

From The Story Siren's "Donation" Sale:

Virtuosity                               Faketastic                       Initiation                        
Jessica Martinez                      Alexa Young                      Susan Fine                   

Holly Black 

From the libraries: 

The International Kissing Club          Under the Never Sky 
Ivy Adams                               Veronica Rossi

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Jennifer E. Smith 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The International Kissing Club

Author: Ivy Adams (Emily McKay, Shellee Roberts, Tracy Deebs)
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Released: January 2012
Genre: YA Contemporary
Series: No
Source: Library
Challenge: Debut Authors 2012
Buy on Amazon

Piper, Cassidy, Mei, and Izzy are the misfits of tiny Paris, Texas. Their whole lives, they've dreamed of escaping small-town life and seeing the world. So when Piper is the victim of an embarrassing prank that goes viral online, she gets the idea that the girls should escape via the school's international exchange program, in search of fun, love, and Internet redemption. To add spice to their semesters away - and to stay connected to their best friends while apart - the girls start the International Kissing Club, a Facebook fan page where they can anonymously update one another on all the amazing guys they're meeting. Lucky for them, amazing guys abound at every turn! But sometimes fun, flirty vacation flings turn into serious romances, and sometimes you don't return from abroad the same person you were. Will the girls' romances - and their friendship - survive?
When I heard about The International Kissing Club, I expected a shallow, fun story about girls kissing as many guys as they can. Boy, was I wrong! This book has such depth, such emotion - from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other and back again.

The four girls are really different from each other, and their friendship is great to read about. Their home lives all suck, which at first hit me as weird that all four have problems (well, not Mei so much), and that they lead such relatively normal lives despite the emotional abuse they endure at home. So the first quarter of the book, while they're all still in Paris, Texas, had me questioning a bit - while I was enjoying watching the girls concoct this ridiculous plan and wondering what on earth would be the result of it all.

And then, once they all go away and start with the romance, I LOVE it! Reading this was like living out a fantasy - going to some exotic foreign country and meeting a deliciously gorgeous and amazing guy... For a book with "kissing" in the title, IKC really delivers in that area! The kissing scenes are so perfect - sweet and emotional - and they're written so well, I almost felt the tingles myself whenever one of the girls did.

What I love most about it, though, is as I said - it's not at all shallow. Every single relationship in the story has meaning, and the girls all learn things about themselves via these relationships. Yes, the guys they hook up with are dreamy, but unintentionally they bring out the best in the girls - and what girl doesn't want a guy who can do that, focus on her exclusively and not on himself?

And the emotion throughout the book is so real. Apart from the heady feelings of falling in love, the girls have to grapple with so many different feelings, from confusion about identity to betrayal to heartbreak. The second half of the book deals with all these dark and swirling emotions, and it's done so beautifully that I felt for each girl, even when they were facing off against each other.

So with depth and meaning, but awash with flirtatious fun as well, The International Kissing Club ROCKS!

Oh - and just look at that cover!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Blue Girl

Author: Charles de Lint
Publisher: Viking (Penguin)
Released: 2004
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Source: Gift
Series: No
Challenge: YA/MG Fantasy

Seventeen-year-old Imogene's tough, rebellious nature has caused her more harm than good - so when her family moves to Newford, she decides to reinvent herself. She won't lose her punk/thrift-shop look, but she'll try to avoid the gangs, work a little harder at school, and maybe even stay out of trouble for a change.
Her first friend at Redding High, Maxine, is her exact opposite. Everyone considers Maxine a straight-A loser, but as Imogene soon learns, it's really Maxine's mother whose rules make it impossible for her to speak up for her true self. Oddly, the friendship works. Imogene helps Maxine loosen up, and in turn Maxine keeps Imogene in line.
But trouble shows up anyway. Imogene catches the eye of Redding's bullies, as well as the school's resident teenage ghost. Then she gets on the wrong side of a gang of malicious fairies. When her imaginary childhood friend, Pelly, actually manifests, Imogene realizes that the impossible is all to real. And it's dangerous. If she wants to survive high school - not to mention stay alive - she has to fall back on the skills she picked up running with a gang. Even with Maxine and some unexpected allies by her side, will she be able to make it?
I love this book! Thank you, Magaly, for putting me on to Charles de Lint - you can bet I'm going to look up his other titles now!

There are so many great things about The Blue Girl, and as I think about them, I'm realizing that a lot of what I like is because it's a refreshing change from the typical fantasy/paranormal books I've been reading lately. All the best YA fantasy now features lots of violence, a strong romance, usually a love triangle of sorts, and lots of violence. And also lots of violence. And while that's great, it was a nice change of pace to read a book that doesn't follow those guidelines.

Imogene and Maxine's friendship is front and center, and their romance are fringe plotlines. I love the way their friendship starts, the way it develops, the way it subtly changes each one of them. They're actually not all that different, but on the surface they are, so it makes for great dialogue and parlay.

The bulk of the plot is Imogene and Maxine, and Adrian and Pelly as well, trying to figure out what's going on and what they can do about it. The action, basically, is driven by wit - the battlefield is the library and the internet! I love how Charles manages to build excitement and suspense when most of what is happening is research. The action itself is mostly low-key, but there's a real scare factor throughout the whole book!

Wings of the Wicked

Author: Courtney Allison Moulton
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins)
Release Date: February 1, 2012
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Source: ARC from Publisher
Series: Angelfire #2
Challenge: Speculative Romance, YA/MG Fantasy

Life as the Preliator is harder than Ellie ever imagined. Balancing real life with the responsibility of being Heaven's warrior is a challenge. Ellie's relationship with her Guardian, Will, has become all business, though they both long for each other. And now that the secret of who she really is has come out, so have Hell's strongest reapers. Grown bold and more vicious, the demonic threaten her in the light of day and stalk her in the night.
Cadan, a demonic reaper, comes to her with information about Bastian's new plan to destroy Ellie's soul and use and ancient relic to wake all the souls of the damned and unleash them upon humanity. As she fights to stay ahead of Bastian's schemes, the revelations about those closest to her awaken a dark power within Ellie that threatens to destroy everything - including her. Still, she must find a way to save the world, herself, and her love for Will. If she fails, there will be Hell to pay.

Everything I loved about the first book in the series, Angelfire, comes back in this book, only much stronger! The action scenes are even more cinematic, playing out as if on a screen right in front of your eyes. I love how some fights go on for pages and pages, and none of the immediacy of the fight is lost, and amazingly, there is hardly any repetition of moves and sequences! The way Courtney writes these scenes draws you right into the action, and I was completely swept up in the ebb and flow of it all.

To counter the viciousness of the battles, there's also plenty of emotion, both surrounding the action and between lulls in the action of each battle. It's different than the emotional content in Angelfire, when Ellie and Will are falling in love - in Wings of the Wicked the emotion is harsher, raw and painful. It's building up through this middle book to a much darker place, as demonic reapers escalate their attacks and horrifying things happen one after the other.

What I love is how Courtney balances Ellie's feelings so that while she is obviously an archangel, she is also obviously simply a human girl, wanting all the things that normal girls want. In Angelfire, I loved how Ellie remained in the human world while she became aware of the paranormal. Here, the separation becomes more distinct, especially as Ellie spends more time entrenched in the paranormal world, but I like that she still has her human friends and family through it all.

And the ending - after the ups and downs surrounding the events of what finally happens at the end of the book, and the way the book just stops in middle of taking care of it - I can't wait for the final book, for what is sure to be epic and intimate at the same time!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

In My Mailbox 27

In My Mailbox is a meme created by Kristi of The Story Siren, where bloggers share the contents of their mailbox that week - books bought, borrowed, received... It's a great way to see lots of new books all at once, and leads to great coveting and more buying!

Bloodrose                     The Line                                    The Heroines
Andrea Cremer                      Teri Hall                               Eileen Favorite 
                         Nightshade #3

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Water Wars

Author: Cameron Stracher
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Released: 2011
Genre: YA Dystopian
Source: Library
Series: No
Challenge: Dystopian

Vera lives in a world where water is so scarce that countries fight wars over its control. Then one day she sees Kai blatantly wasting water. When Kai disappears, Vera and her brother Will set out to find and rescue him. Along their journey they meet various groups fighting for control of the water and they find out shocking truths about the whole situation.

This book didn't have as strong an impact on me as was promised. There are just too many questions about the plot that are ignored - like how and why the decision to go after Kai is made so quickly, when Vera and Will have no plan, have no idea who took him or where he was taken, and at that point, they don't even know why Kai is important. For most of the book, I was wondering why the focus was on Kai and not his father, the driller. I found out way too late, and that still didn't explain how Vera and Will knew Kai was important. Besides, I found a lot of action and very little thought propelling the story. The complications of what each group stands for could have been explored so much more, but it's all so murky, all the way through to the end. And the end is far from satisfying. Everything seems to be resolved within a couple of pages, but I couldn't figure out how the ending is a long-term solution to the water problem.

So, just too many holes for me to fully enjoy this one.

Monday, January 9, 2012


Author: Jenna Black
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Released: 2010
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Author's Website:
Source: Bought
Series: Faeriewalker
Challenge: YA/MG Fantasy

Dana Hathaway doesn't know it yet, but she's in big trouble. When her alcoholic mom shows up at her voice recital drunk, again, Dana decides she's had enough and runs away to find her mysterious father in Avalon: the only place on Earth where the regular, everyday world and the captivating, magical world of Faerie intersect. But from the moment Dana sets foot in Avalon, everything goes wrong, for it turns out she isn't just an ordinary teenage girl - she's a Faeriewalker, a rare individual who can travel between both worlds, and the only person who can bring magic into the human world and technology into Faerie. Soon, Dana finds herself tangled up in a cutthroat game of Fae politics. Someone's trying to kill her, and everyone seems to want something from her, from her newfound friends and family to Ethan, the hot Fae guy Dana figures she'll never have a chance with...until she does. Caught between two worlds, Dana isn't sure where she'll ever fit in or who can be trusted, not to mention if her world will ever be normal again.

I love the idea of Avalon, especially because I've got Arthur-mania, so this explanation for the connection between the human world and Faerie is amazing. The magic of the story - though admittedly there is little of it here and I'm expecting more in the next two books - is natural, so matter-of-fact that I can totally buy the idea that humans live with the idea of magic being real even though they never actually get a chance to see it.

All the characters introduced in this book are really intriguing, and there's obviously more to each one, more that has to be explored in the subsequent books. Dana's father is a bit enigmatic, and I'd love to learn what he's really about, and what we find out about her mother makes me want to know how she'll cope and what will happen to her next. Kimber and Ethan are both thoroughly enjoyable characters, and again, I really want to know what will happen with them, how their own stories will play out.

I think one of the best things about this book is that its action is inevitable. When Dana makes a decision, though she doesn't have all the facts, she sets in motion a chain of events and she cannot turn it back as much as she wants to. That trapped feeling of not wanting what she's chosen, not wanting what she left, wanting the world to be utterly different, is captured so brilliantly, and I think that sets things up for the following books perfectly.

Did you notice that I really want to read the next books? Can't wait to get to them!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

In My Mailbox 26

In My Mailbox is a meme created by Kristi of The Story Siren, where bloggers share the contents of their mailbox that week - books bought, borrowed, received... It's a great way to see lots of new books all at once, and leads to great coveting and more buying!

If We Kiss                      Grave Witch                   Grave Dance
Rachel Vail                    Kalayna Price                       Kalayna Price

The Water Wars
Cameron Stracher
That's it for this week! What's in your mailbox?

Monday, January 2, 2012


Author: Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: Disney/Hyperion
Released: 2011
Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal
Series: Hex Hall #2
Author's Blog:
Source: Bought
Challenges: Witchy Book, Suspense and Mystery, YA/MG Fantasy, Speculative Romance


After Sophie discovers that she is descended from demons, not witches, and that Archer, the boy she's been falling for, is actually part of the Eye, an organization bent on destroying all Prodigium (magical creatures), she goes to England to spend time with her Dad, the head of the Council. But there she finds two other demons, which means someone is raising demons in secret and planning to use their powers for things that are not so good. On top of the Eye seeming to be looking for her in particular, Sophie has to navigate her feelings for Archer and for Cal, as she tries to figure out what is going on.

I like how the second book puts Sophie in a situation completely different from the first, and how it progresses - she goes from a school setting in the first book to a much darker, more obviously dangerous place in the Council Headquarters, and her relationships also progress so that she has to deal with her father. There's obvious growth in Sophie's maturity, though she is still the same sarcastic, witty girl we love from Hex Hall!

The mystery is definitely heightened in this book, and I love the complexity of it, and the way bits of information in this book answer the "huh?" questions I had in the first book. This book raises plenty of question of its own, some answered and some apparently left for the third book, but I love how bits and pieces fall into place.

And the ending! It leaves you wondering, waiting breathlessly for the third book to find out what on earth is going on. What a cliffhanger!

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Author: Ally Condie
Publisher: Dutton (Penguin)
Released: 2011
Genre: YA Dystopian Romance
Author's Website:

Series: Matched
Source: Library - Will Buy!!
Challenge: Dystopian Novels 2012

Their Words:
Rules are different outside the Society. Chasing down an uncertain future, Cassia makes her way to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his sure death - only to find that he has escaped into the majestic, but treacherous, canyons. On this wild frontier are glimmers of a different life and the enthralling promise of rebellion. But even as Cassia sacrifices everything to reunite with Ky, ingenious surprises from Xander may change the game once again.

My words:
What a fantastic second book in the trilogy! Crossed is enthralling and utterly captivating for so many reasons.

One of the big things in the book is the breathtaking and vast landscape that Ally makes the reader feel as if you're actually there - a sort of wordscaping that is woven seamlessly into the narrative of the actual story. The map at the front of the book doesn't hurt, but even without it, I think I would've been able to follow the travels of Ky and his friends and Cassia and hers. Actually, the map doesn't provide a detailed description of the Carvings, but as Cassia tries to follow Ky, I was very clear at every point when she was on the right track, because of the understated, skillful way Ally describes their surroundings.

Of course, the characters continue to be as real and complex as they are in Matched. And as the story grows and develops and becomes more complex, the characters' complexity grows as well. Lots of exploration of feelings, lots of surprises.

And those surprises! The way the book works, alternating chapters between Ky and Cassia, is very conducive to surprises, because lots of chapters ended with such cliffhangers! I found myself holding my breath more than a few times - and I love when a story can engage me so completely. A mark of a masterpiece!

Hex Hall

Author: Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: Disney/Hyperion
Released: 2010
Genre: YA Paranormal/Fantasy
Series: Hex Hall #1
Author's Blog:
Source: Bought
Challenges: Witchy Book, Suspense and Mystery, YA/MG Fantasy, Speculative Romance

Sophie is sentenced to Hecate Hall, aka Hex Hall, after a spell she casts goes horribly wrong and draws too much attention. Hex Hall is for those witches, warlocks, shapeshifters, and faeries who need to learn the importance of keeping their identity secret from regular humans. So Sophie settles in, with her vampire roommate, a crush on the hottest boy, and staunch enemies of the three most glamorous girls. But then she learns that a girl died last year, and then another girl is found half-dead... As the murders and mysteries start piling up, Sophie tries to figure out who she should not be trusting, and what on earth - or in hell - is going on.

First of all, let me say - I love Sophie! I love her sarcastic funniness, her wit and instincts. I love that though she is meant to be confused and bewildered by what's going on, she is far from stupid and clueless, but she still gets caught up in the regular teen stuff. She's the perfect mix of intelligence and teenage foolishness, and that's really what propels the story.

In fact, the entire story is character-propelled, so that every event grows organically from the people in the story. The characters are all really well-rounded and fully developed, so I felt like I really know each of them, and then when they do things out of character, there's that delicious speculation of why that's happening, which totally adds to the suspense of the story. And there's lots of suspense - the pacing of the book is really great.

But the main thing that grabbed me is the identity-search. I love books that deal with teens trying to figure out who they are, and of course in paranormal books there's the more obvious layer of figuring out what they are as well. It's the most perfect when the two parts are combined, so that the what of Sophie's search is inextricably tied up in the who as well. The way everything leads up to that final revelation, and the way it's not actually fully resolved but promises to continue in the next books, is completely perfect.