Sep 30, 2013

Author Playlist + Book Review: Tainted - A.E. Rought

 
Hey, guys! Today I have A.E. Rought sharing her playlist for Tainted, the sequel to Broken, and let me tell you: she has fabulous taste in music! All of these songs went straight to my music player. Oh, and stick around for my review, mmkay? ;D

-------

Writing has always been dependent on music, for me. The stories just don’t flow until I have the right auditory backdrop. TAINTED was one of the most difficult books to find the right ‘voice’ for. Oh, I knew Alex and what he sounded like, but not the musical tapestry his story needed.

I was moody, had been poking TAINTED’s story outline with a stick and waiting for it to strike back, when I decided to play some tunes on Youtube. It started out with Godsmack, my go-to moody music, and then I clicked on one of the recommended videos on the right hand side.

One tune led to another, and I found myself listening to “Still Broken,” by Plan Three.

Something in my writer side clicked into place, and started resonating with that sound. I played every Plan Three tune I could find and four of them ended up in TAINTED’s playlist: “Still Broken,” “Brush it Off,” “Be Still My Heart,” and “Wake Up.” That last song, “Wake Up” fits the feel of Chapter Nine so well, I might have to play it just to FEEL it again.

I put those tunes into my YA playlist on Spotify, and started a radio station based on it. This dark, moody song “Sad, Dead Me,” but Von Benzo came on. Perfect tone, pacing, all of it, so I added it to the playlist. Somehow, I found “Landing in London,” by Three Doors Down and Bob Seger, another dark, smoky sounding tune with that sad kind of ache threading all the new songs together. Those two went to the top of the playlist pretty quick. “Echo,” by Jason Walker found its way in. “Off a Cliff,” joined the group of The Spill Canvas songs already in the playlist.

There’s plenty of Lifehouse, Shinedown, Ashes Remain, and one of my absolute favorites for YA writing, Burn Season. Their song “Perfect,” is well... pretty perfect for writing romance scenes. So is Ed Sheeran’s “Kiss Me.” But, for those darker moments of doubt for Alex, “Breaking Inside” by Shinedown needed to be played. Some of those lyrics could come from Alex, especially the opening lines of the chorus: I don't want to live, To waste another day, Underneath the shadow of mistakes I made...

One last song I HAVE to mention? “Bring Me To Life” by Evanescence.

If you read the book, you will totally understand.

And if you’re on Spotify, you can check out the playlist here.

-------

Title: Tainted (Broken #2)
Author: A.E. Rought
Release Date: October 1st 2013
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: NetGalley
Alex Franks believes the madness is behind them. With Ascension Labs under his direction and the forces threatening Emma's life overcome, they have a chance at a normal life, and keeping his secrets safely buried. But a shadow rises from Alex’s past, and she wants him back. Criminally brilliant, Hailey Westmore will stop at nothing to claim the boy she was meant to be with.
Without warning, Emma Gentry finds she cannot trust anything. Not her mind, her memory, not even herself. Tragic events and unexpected deaths stalk Alex and Emma, testing them in ways they would never imagine, and may not survive. Alex carries a new secret, and a horrifying guilt that Hailey uses to her advantage.
Emma’s life and sanity hang in the balance, and Alex may have created a monster...
It's been just a month shy of a year since I read Broken, but the premise of that book is not something that's easily forgotten. I finished that one thinking, "so that's it", but lo and behold, we have a sequel! If you haven't read Broken, let me warn you that it's about to get a tad bit spoiler-y in here, so read at your own risk. I'll keep them to a minimum, I promise.

Now, I did say that it was easy to remember the events in Broken, but I meant the main ones—it was the little ones that stumped me. A re-read would have made Tainted's start less confusing. Still, Alex's perspective was so much more enjoyable than Emma's and his voice just hooked me. It was distinctly male, but it had that sense of deep emotion coupled with confusion, thanks to Daniel sort of living inside him. There was still no scientific explanation as to how that double existence came to be after the Lazarus Procedure, as they named it in this second book, but then, there's no scientific explanation as to the power of love, either.

Aside from being less mentally-unstable—seriously, that's what I remember of Emma's thoughts lol—Alex's perspective also gave more insight into Ascension Labs and the horrors hidden in it, particularly the Procedure and how it worked in bringing someone back to life. Not pretty, I tell you. What's pretty though was how much this book shocked me. All the crazy, unexpected turns that Tainted took made me gasp, internally and, at times, out loud.

I hadn't known how A.E. Rought could double the mystery and suspense in Broken, but she did. She never gave her characters any break and kept me guessing as to who their real enemy was. Tainted definitely outdid the first book and you know what? I could use another book in this series!

MY FAVORITE PART was when the "and Alex may have created a monster..." part of the blurb was clarified. That was one of my gasp-out-loud moments.

RATING:

Sep 27, 2013

Book Review: Fault Line - Christa Desir

Title: Fault Line
Author: Christa Desir
Release Date: October 1st 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: eARC from Edelweiss
Ben could date anyone he wants, but he only has eyes for the new girl — sarcastic free-spirit, Ani. Luckily for Ben, Ani wants him too. She’s everything Ben could ever imagine. Everything he could ever want.
But that all changes after the party. The one Ben misses. The one Ani goes to alone.
Now Ani isn’t the girl she used to be, and Ben can’t sort out the truth from the lies. What really happened, and who is to blame?
Ben wants to help her, but she refuses to be helped. The more she pushes Ben away, the more he wonders if there’s anything he can do to save the girl he loves.
If you're looking for a light, fun YA contemporary, then Fault Line is not the book for you. I'm not the author so I can't know for sure, but I think the book doesn't aim to make its readers love the characters, but to make us understand them and their situations. It definitely did that for me.

Fault Line went straight to my to-read list the moment I first read its synopsis. I knew it was going to be a dark read, so the initial lightness took me by surpriseas did the male POV, which I loved. Ben was a typical teenage boy with a shy and insecure interior hidden behind a naughty and fearless exterior. He actually seemed shallow at first, until bold and daring Ani brought out his true self. The start of their relationship was fun to read, and Desir's realistic portrayal of teens' diverse personalities is commendable.

It's really not that hard to guess what happened to Ani that fateful night, so I'll just get it out here: she was raped. But that's not the entirety of it and I'll leave the rest for when you read the book. Just know that it was f****** messed up and horrific that my jaw just dropped. And this is where Fault Line starts making or breaking it for readers. As one would expect, Ani had a hard time coping after the rape—actually, she didn't. She went on a self-destructive mode but I kept my mind open and put myself in her shoes. If you pick up this book, I suggest you do the same.

What I liked most about Fault Line was how it gave equal focus on how rape affects victims and the victims' loved onesin this case, Ben.
"Pointing out her alcohol consumption implies she was somehow at fault for what happened. Like she asked to be raped because she was drinking at a party."
Victim-blaming: I am shamefully guilty of it. Being the youngest in my family, years of lectures for me not to do anything stupid that could compromise my safety made me blame Ani for what happened to her. That's also kind of what happened with Ben, but as soon as a rape counselor pointed it out, he tried to take things in stride. Unfortunately, Ani pulled him into a downward spiral. 

The ending was so abrupt that I actually thought my eARC was incomplete or something, but I knew that that was it. I actually liked it because it was realistic and it teaches young ones that they can't face everything on their own and that there's nothing embarrassing in asking for help.

I RECOMMEND THIS if you enjoyed Empty by K.M. Walton or Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt.

RATING:

Cover Reveal: Shadowplay - Laura Lam

I needed this sequel the moment I finished reading Pantomime months ago, so I'm extremely glad to be sharing its cover with y'all today!

Sep 26, 2013

Book Review: Vampire Academy - Richelle Mead

Title: Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1)
Author: Richelle Mead
Release Date: August 16th 2007
Publisher: Razorbill
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: Bought
St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger...
Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.
Vampire Academy was one of those books that I kept seeing in bookstores yet had always ignored, until I got a copy for my birthday this past March. It then proceeded to gather dust in my TBR pile; I knew I was going to love it so why rush? I could just wait till right before I go see the movie next year, right? Well, last night, my fingers just itched for it and after eight straight hours of reading (I counted)... WHY THE HELL DID I WAIT THIS LONG?!

Richelle Mead's writing is simple and straight-to-the-point, nothing fancy like Laini Taylor's, but she sure knows how to tell a story. What made this book truly stand out were the characters, particularly our star BFFs, Rose and Lissa. Rose's brand of snarky badass and Lissa's quiet strength and defiance made them attitudinal opposites, but friendship was their middle ground. Another was determination; they both utilized every card they had, though not always in the most honorable manner, but hey, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

Even if this series hadn't amassed such a huge following, I'd still have checked it out because Richelle Mead's take on the vampire lore is definitely unique: something you could tell by reading the synopsis alone. But another thing I loved about this book was how it perfectly combined paranormal and contemporary. Rip off their fangs and these young vamps and half-vamps would just be normal teenagers who dealt with insecurities, stress, and the demands of society.

Oh, and they dealt with romance too, of course. This book was brimming with pretty boys (oh god I need the movie asap for full visuals) but I'll focus on Rose's and Lissa's loves. At first glance, Dimitri and Christian seemed completely different from each other, but they actually had a lot of things in common. The antisociality and need to protect Lissathough Dimitri's was out of duty and Christian's was out of love—only slightly differed because of their ages, but how they stood up to Rose's firecracker attitude couldn't be more similar. Plus, they were both total badasses!

Sexy, hilarious, unpredictable, and full of mystery and action, now I know for myself why Vampire Academy is enjoying such popularity. Starting and finishing a book in one sitting is a rarity for me because of my short attention span, but this book was just so addictive that nothing succeeded in distracting me. Now excuse me while I thump myself on the head for not having copies of the next books.

MY FAVORITE PART was Mr. Nagy reading out to the whole class Rose and Lissa's notes to each other =))

RATING:

Sep 25, 2013

Book Review: When the World Was Flat (and we were in love) - Ingrid Jonach

Title: When the World Was Flat (and we were in love)
Author: Ingrid Jonach
Release Date: September 3rd 2013
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: finished copy from publisher
Looking back, I wonder if I had an inkling that my life was about to go from ordinary to extraordinary.
When sixteen-year-old Lillie Hart meets the gorgeous and mysterious Tom Windsor-Smith for the first time, it’s like fireworks — for her, anyway. Tom looks as if he would be more interested in watching paint dry; as if he is bored by her and by her small Nebraskan town in general.
But as Lillie begins to break down the walls of his seemingly impenetrable exterior, she starts to suspect that he holds the answers to her reoccurring nightmares and to the impossible memories which keep bubbling to the surface of her mind — memories of the two of them, together and in love.
When she at last learns the truth about their connection, Lillie discovers that Tom has been hiding an earth-shattering secret; a secret that is bigger — and much more terrifying and beautiful — than the both of them. She also discovers that once you finally understand that the world is round, there is no way to make it flat again.
Oh, wow. I've read quite a few sci-fi books in this sub-genreI refuse to say which because it's a big fat spoiler!but not one of them rocked my socks off as much as When the World Was Flat (I'll refer to it as WTWWF from this point on) did. Ingrid Jonach knows how to captivate her readers right from the first page with a perfect balance of awe-inspiring prose and unforgettable characters.

WTWWF is a book that slowly but surely and deftly revealed its secrets. The matter of Lillie's nightmares was shrouded with utter mystery, making me think this story was psychological or something, and all of my theories were stabs in the dark—it's that unpredictable. A book that keeps me guessing is a book that keeps me reading, and this one was seriously unputdownable.

The characters in here are ones I imagine I'd enjoy reading about even if they were to be written into a whole other story. They all had this depth to them, not to mention a shared sense of humor that had me chuckling several times.
"If he takes you to an abandoned farmhouse, slaughterhouse, warehouse," Sylv ticked them off her fingers, "nuthouse, trainhouse—"
"Trainhouse?" Jo and I asked in sync.
Sylv grimaced. "I would have said train station, but I was going for a theme." 
And then, just a few sentences later:
Sylv shrugged. "You can thank me when he turns out to be a serial killer. Or worse."
"What could be worse than a serial killer?" Jo asked.
"A virgin?" Sylv suggested with a smirk.

I can talk about Lillie and Tom at length, but really, all you have to know about them without being spoiler-y is that they're complex, lovable characters, and I'd much rather talk about their romance. Lillie and Tom had a love story to rival Luce and Daniel's (from Fallen by Lauren Kate, so if you've read that, *wink* *wink*). Although Tom initially came across as having the emotional and social capacity of a rock, I don't know how Lillie got the idea that he hated her. He was the unfriendly new kid, but if I were her, I wouldn't take it that just because he wasn't all smiles meant he hated me. Or am I forgetting a flip-off scene here? Anyway, all the pushing and pulling equated to holy sexual tension! And I really liked that even though their emotionally-frustrating relationship got the spotlight, it didn't take up the whole stage. The other characters, particularly Lillie's best friends, moved forward with them—a good thing because if you can't tell from the quotes above, I really loved them too.

The science behind this book was not unraveled all at once, which really confused me at first, but not to worry, I assure you that everything made sense in the end. And speaking of, it's hard to decide whether that ending was more on the bitter or the sweet side; I feel a longing smile forming on my face when I think of it.

MY FAVORITE PART was Jackson's peer pressure moment, and the scenes following that :3

RATING:

Waiting on Wednesday {32}

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, where bloggers post about much-awaited releases!

Sep 23, 2013

It's My First Blogiversary!

Um, yep. I've been at this time-consuming but totally-fun thing for a year now! It's crazy how time flies. I'm no good at mushy stuff so I'll keep this short. I wanna thank my blogger friends, particularly my PH blogger friends, for the fun bookish times; there'll be more to come, I'm sure of it ♥ And to the authors who supply our addiction—what are you doing here on my blog? Get writing! ;))

Now, what blogiversary is complete without a giveaway? And since this is a huge milestone for me (I really didn't think I'd stick to blogging for this long), here are two giveaways for you guys!

Sep 22, 2013

Scribble Sunday {2}

Scribble Sunday is a feature by moi where two of my passions meet: breathtaking quotes and doodles. It was really hard for me to choose just one quote from all the wonderful books that I've read in the past weeks, so from now on I'll just feature quotes from every book! XD

Sep 20, 2013

{Blog Tour} Book Review + Giveaway: 15 Minutes - Jill Cooper


Title: 15 Minutes (Rewind Series #1)
Author: Jill Cooper
Release Date: June 15th 2013
Publisher: Self-published
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: ecopy for blog tour
Reading Challenge: YA + MG Time Travel Reading Challenge
I have 15 minutes to save my mother’s life…
15 minutes is all the Rewind Agency gives you in the past, but for Lara Crane it’s enough time to race through the city, find her mother, and stop her from being killed in a mugging that happened over ten years ago.
But that’s not how it happened. The story she’s been told all her life is a lie and when Lara takes a bullet meant for her mother, her future changes forever.
The love of her life acts like a stranger. Her simple life is replaced with a giant house, glamorous clothes and a new boyfriend.
Except someone knows her secret. And he will try to stop her at every turn as she races against the clock to unravel a dangerous conspiracy.
15 Minutes is an edgy high octane YA thriller that can be described as Back to the Future meets Inception where the people Lara trusts change in an instant. She is in a timeline she doesn't understand, and is about to make one fatal mistake as she faces an enemy so familiar, he’s family.
15 Minutes combined two time travel tropes: the "oh I have special DNA" trope, and the "some modern Einstein created a time machine" trope—that mix made this book different from the other time travel stories I've read.

What brought this book down a notch for me was Lara, our heroine. She irritated me by acting like a spoiled brat when she realized that she had changed the future drastically with her alteration of the past, expecting others to understand her outbursts and inconsistencies. I also rolled my eyes when she couldn't keep her raging hormones in check even while she was dying from brain hemorrhage. 
"Lar? You okay?" He strokes my hair back. Is he finally going to kiss me? Maybe he realizes we're meant to be together. "Your eyes are going bloodshot. Lara? Can you hear me?"
Uh, yep.

Maybe it was just from my lack of sleep, but I didn't fully grasp the science behind time travel here in 15 Minutes. There were too many Lara's running around and too many pasts, presents, and futures interlacing with one another, and it just befuddled me. I also didn't like the mere "I'm special" reasoning as to why Lara could change the past. (I take it there were others like her, but we don't encounter them in this first book.)

Like I mentioned before in a review for another time travel book, I like this sci-fi sub-genre because I'm curious of the what-ifs, and the answer to that question here in 15 Minutes is one of the harshest I've read. The synopsis promised a high-octane thriller, and it totally delivered. Just when I thought I had this story all figured out, it proved me wrong, and it was made even more unpredictable by the most sci-fi love triangle I've ever encountered in fiction.
"It makes me uncomfortable. You know all these things some other version of me told you, and you're looking at me like you expect something of me. Like what? Should I fall back in love with you? Because you told me that's how things are supposed to be?"
The ending was a cliffhanger, but not the type that made me want to throw my phone against a wall. Give me the sequel now, please!

MY FAVORITE PART was when Lara used her ability to save Molly. Talk about getting back at the enemy more than once! :))

RATING:
 
About the author:
Jill loves to blend horror, comedy, the supernatural, and love, through her novels. A fan of genre blending, her work strives to cross boundaries, but most of all strives to entertain. She loves soft cuddly cats, warm blankets, and paranormal romances. Jill resides in Massachusetts, is constantly renovating her home that she shares with her husband, young daughter, and two skittish cats.

Giveaway!

Sep 18, 2013

{Blog Tour} Book Review + Giveaway: The Girl Next Door - Selene Castrovilla

Welcome to my stop for The Girl Next Door blog tour! You can follow the tour here.

Title: The Girl Next Door
Author: Selene Castrovilla
Release Date: May 24th 2013
Publisher: ASD Publishing
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: ecopy for blog tour
Seventeen year old Samantha has been best friends with seventeen year old Jesse since she moved into the New York high-rise apartment next door to his thirteen years ago. Jesse is their school's poster child for popularity: good-looking, a star athlete, even Romeo in the school play. On opening night he collapses on stage. That's when doctors discover the unthinkable: a tumor on his spine. His type of cancer is virtually incurable – 97% of those diagnosed die within ten months.
Jesse shuts down, refusing to see most of his friends. He submits to treatments of chemo and radiation, but he doesn't possess hope. Sam is the one person he’ll talk to. He convinces his mom to let her sleep in another bed in his room, saying he's afraid to die alone.
That’s when Jess and Sam make a startling, bittersweet discovery: they’ve been in love all along.
I've always been a softie when it comes to terminal illnesses in books and movies, which is why I try to avoid those as much as possible. This is the reason why I haven't read John Green's The Fault in Our Stars yet, and until now, I'm still not sure what compelled me to read The Girl Next Door. Not that I regret it.

The first thing I noticed was the beautiful writing. Selene Castrovilla knew how to gut-punch with just a few words, and with this story she's telling, she sure hit me more than once. But it wasn't all sad. The dry humor in this book, particularly Sam's and her mom's, had me laughing out loud a lot of times.
Mom sighed. "Is this my punishment for writing smut all these years? If I switch to Christian writing, will things be different?"
"Only with your royalty checks."
Jesse's initial sarcasm also made me snort very un-lady-like, even though I knew it was brought about by his helplessness.

As is the usual case with terminal illnesses—or any illness, for that matter—the sick person isn't the only one who suffers. Sam might as well have been dying herself. She definitely couldn't hold back her emotions well, and I hated how she would often get selfish and even more depressed than Jesse. But turns out she actually had deep-seated issues of her own, so I just felt for her in the end.

One of my few qualms with this book was how there wasn't a lot said—or, rather, showed—pertaining to their friendship because when the story opened, Jesse already had cancer and Sam was already sleeping in his room. But their romance? Oh, it was there, alright. Theirs was a sad, beautiful, tragic love affair, and I'd be damned if I say I didn't root for them to live out the rest of their young lives together, for Jesse to beat his cancer.

Just when I thought I'd survive this without the waterworks, the dam broke. The book was beautiful in its entirety, but the ending particularly even more so. Until now, almost a day after finishing it, I'm still telling myself that my tears were happy ones.

MY FAVORITE PART was
"I want you to hold me just like this—I want you to hold me when I die."
*SOBS*   

RATING:
 
About the author: 
Selene Castrovilla is an award-winning teen and children’s author who believes that through all trends, humanity remains at the core of literature. She is the author of Saved By the Music and The Girl Next Door, teen novels originally published by WestSide Books and now available digitally through ASD Publishing. Her third children’s book with Calkins Creek Books, Revolutionary Friends, was released in April. She is also a contributing author to UncommonYA. Selene holds an MFA in creative writing from New School University and a BA in English from New York University. She lives on Long Island with her two sons.

Giveaway!

Waiting on Wednesday {31}

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, where bloggers post about much-awaited releases!

Sep 17, 2013

Book Review: Acid - Emma Pass

Title: Acid
Author: Emma Pass
Release Date: April 25th 2013
Publisher: Corgi Children's Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: Finished copy borrowed from Precious at Fragments of Life
2113. In Jenna Strong’s world, ACID – the most brutal, controlling police force in history – rule supreme. No throwaway comment or muttered dissent goes unnoticed – or unpunished. And it was ACID agents who locked Jenna away for life, for a bloody crime she struggles to remember.
The only female inmate in a violent high-security prison, Jenna has learned to survive by any means necessary. And when a mysterious rebel group breaks her out, she must use her strength, speed and skill to stay one step ahead of ACID – and to uncover the truth about what really happened on that dark night two years ago.
My, my, my—what a read! Acid is definitely one of the most shocking books I've ever read. It had me in its grip right from page one and took me to one hell of a dystopian ride; it didn't lack the complexity that I look for in books.

Jenna Strong. Strong, Jenna: yep, that's exactly what she was. No damsel in distress here, people. She was always fierce and brave yet she never came across as heartless, only unforgiving. Her levelheadedness showed in the midst of all the crazy twists and turns that the story took, and I just really admired her. She's definitely up there in the "List of Kickass Heroines" along with Katniss, Hermione, and Tris.

The simple and direct writing was perfect for Jenna's violent and unpredictable story. There were even extra stuff like news reports between chapters that made it easier to envision this futuristic UK. Also, I like how the romance complicated the plot nicely and not irritatingly. It wasn't anything swoon-worthy—though it did have its moments—but it also didn't feel unnecessary to the story and, in Jenna's harsh life, it was as real as it could get.

I remember having two problems with this book: first, I felt like the pace could have been amped up a tad bit more, and second, it wasn't quite explained how they changed Jenna's face twiceyes, twiceand then managed to revert it back to the original. (This isn't spoiler-y, I swear; her face is the least of her worries.) Also, with the volume of dystopian series out there, I had my doubts with just how standalone Acid would be, and like I'd guessed, the story was wrapped up nicely but with an obvious possibility of a sequel—not that I'm complaining.

I RECOMMEND THIS TO fans of the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth. 

RATING:

Sep 13, 2013

Book Review: The Woken Gods - Gwenda Bond

Title: The Woken Gods
Author: Gwenda Bond
Release Date: September 3rd 2013
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: ARC from publisher
Five years ago, the gods of ancient mythology awoke all around the world.
This morning, Kyra Locke is late for school because of an argument with her father.
Seventeen-year-old Kyra lives in a transformed Washington, D.C., dominated by the embassies of divine pantheons and watched over by the mysterious Society of the Sun that governs mankind’s relations with the gods. But when rebellious Kyra encounters two trickster gods on her way home, one offering a threat and the other a warning, it turns out her life isn't what it seems. She escapes with the aid of Osborne "Oz" Spencer, a young Society field operative, only to discover that her scholar father has disappeared with a dangerous Egyptian relic. The Society needs the item back, and they aren’t interested in her protests that she knows nothing about it or her father's secrets.
Now Kyra must depend on her wits and the suspect help of scary Sumerian gods, her estranged oracle mother, and, of course, Oz--whose first allegiance is to the Society. She has no choice if she’s going to recover the missing relic and save her father. And if she doesn't? Well, that may just mean the end of the world as she knows it.
When I first read that synopsis, I knew I'd love The Woken Gods. All that promised mystery, intrigue, and action? This magnificent book didn't just deliver—it surpassed. I may have just read one of my top ten fave books this year.

The first surprise that this book gave me was the mixture of mythologies from various ancient civilizations, making it stand out amongst the numerous YA myth-inspired novels out there. The author executed this story with obvious knowledge that could be observed especially when the gods interacted with each other. That's not something I've seen a lot of in the other books. Also, the idea of relics—divine objects or artifacts that humanity had somehow learned how to use—was just fascinating. For example, there was one called Babel Stone, a chunk from the famous tower that let its user speak any language.

The Woken Gods was made even better by the characters. Kyra, our heroine, was simply admirable; I rooted for her right from page one. She was smart, thoughtful, and honest. She had never imagined the chaos she was about to get into, but when push came to shove, she knew how to play her cards... even against some vengeful and merciless gods.

And then there was Kyra's ragtag group of allies. Her best friends, Bree and Tam, who put her safety before their own. Thanks to, I don't know, teenage hormones, their friendship was complicated and simple at the same time, but they stuck it out together till the end. There were also Oz and Justin, government operatives tasked with watching over Kyra but ended up helping her immensely in her mission. Together, they were practically just a bunch of kids going against elders and gods, but they did what they could with what little they had, setting aside their differences for the greater good. All that without unraveling suppressed superpowers along the way—'cause let's admit it, that's what happens most of the time.

All the interconnecting conspiracies made The Woken Gods a true thriller, but it still had a twisted sense of humor that perfectly fit this twisted book. It was truly unpredictable, and there was a well-developed and swoon-worthy romance to boot. Despite a few slow moments, I was never bored. To sum this up, The Woken Gods is a freaking awesome book that I would definitely recommend to Rick Riordan fans, and oh, who do I have to beg for a sequel? 

MY FAVORITE PART was Kyra riding on Anzu. I may have turned green with envy.

RATING:

Sep 10, 2013

{Blog Tour} Guest Post + Giveaway: When the World Was Flat (and we were in love) - Ingrid Jonach

Hey, everyone! Welcome to my stop for Ingrid Jonach's Around the World in 80 Days—eek, my second fave Verne book!—blog tour in honor of the release of her new book, When the World Was Flat (and we were in love)!

-------

The Secret Lives of Authors 

I rarely talk about being an author in my day-to-day life. In fact, most of my work colleagues would have no idea I spend my spare time writing books (even though my book deal was in the work newsletter last year).

When they ask what I got up to on the weekend I generally say I had a quiet weekend, which translates to writing from dawn until dusk and squeezing in a social activity or time with my husband, plus catching up on my non-writing to-do list (tax time, sigh!), as well as sorting out all of the washing for the week ahead. Phew!

Occasionally, I have told the truth. “My weekend? It was great. I got SO MUCH writing done.” With the exception of close work colleagues, I generally receive a blank look. If I explain I am an author, nine times out of ten the response is positive, which means there have also been a few negative responses across the years, including being warned not to big note myself and to stop dreaming. Yep.

As a result, I am a bit like Clark Kent and Superman (speaking of big noting myself!). My secret identity is not-so-secret though because I use my real name instead of a pen name, which would afford me anonymity.

Jane Austen, who is one of my all-time favorite authors, wrote anonymously her entire life. Her first novel Sense and Sensibility was ‘By a Lady’ and Pride and Prejudice was ‘By the author of Sense and Sensibility.’ Her identity was not revealed until after her death, in a eulogy by her brother Henry.

These days it is more difficult to achieve anonymity. Australian author Nikki Gemmell originally published her fourth novel The Bride Stripped Bare anonymously, because she said it stopped her from self-censoring while writing. She was outed by the media before publication (probably because her novel was written in second person, which was her trademark).

And, unless you have been living under a rock, you would have heard of The Cuckoo’s Calling, which was recently revealed to have been written by J.K. Rowling under the male pseudonym of Robert Galbraith. Rowling was outed on Twitter, by a friend of her lawyer (read former friend and I would daresay former lawyer!).

The Bronte Sisters also chose male pseudonyms Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell because of prejudice against female writers (authoresses) in the early 1800s. Their contemporary George Sand was also a woman (Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin), who reportedly flaunted the law by smoking and wearing male clothes in public (eat your heart out, Lady Gaga). But, even these days, female authors are opting for male pseudonyms in male dominated genres like science fiction or crime, or at the very least initials, e.g. J.K. Rowling, P.D. James, and J.D. Robb.

But male authors have also used female pen names in traditionally female genres like romance, even though studies show that woman will read books written by either gender (whereas men are more likely to read books written by other men). Eighty-nine year old war veteran Bill Spence has written 22 romance novels under the moniker Jessica Blair. Apparently both male and female writers ghost-wrote Nancy Drew novels under the pen name Carolyn Keene. And there were also a couple of men ghost-writing Sweet Valley High novels under the name Francine Pascal as well. 

But don't even get me started on ghost writing, which is a whole other level of anonymity!

-------

Lovely post on the topic, right? Funnily enough, I sense pride and/or prejudice to be the main reasons for writing anonymously or using names of the opposite gender, which is sad because it's the words that should matter, not the writer. 

Anyway, here's more info on Ingrid's book!

Sep 9, 2013

{Blog Tour} Book Review + Giveaway: What Endures - Katie Lee

Welcome to my stop for the What Endures blog tour! You can follow the tour here.

Title: What Endures
Author: Katie Lee
Release Date: August 1st 2013
Publisher: Self-published
Age Group: New Adult
Source: ecopy for blog tour
Jason Kincaid is young, hot and successful.
An All-Star outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, he finally had everything he ever wanted, including a second chance with his high school sweetheart, Megan Williams.
But their hopes for a ‘happily-ever-after’ are dashed by tragedy.
A horrific car accident wipes out most of Jason's memories. Unable to recall anything from the last fifteen years of his life, Jason is suddenly adrift, his once charmed life now in ruins.
Megan finds herself in the untenable position of having to deal with the fact that the man she’s helping to rebuild his life may look, and even act, like her beloved fiancĂ©, but in reality, isn’t any longer.
Trying to protect herself, as well as Jason, Megan fights the attraction between them... to no avail. As their potent connection inevitably draws them closer, Megan wonders,
With the memories of their relationship gone, can love endure?
I have to admit, I got interested in What Endures because of how much it sounded like The Vow, one of the not-so-few movies that made me bawl like a baby. This book didn't succeed in making me do that, but it still tugged on a few heartstrings.

The main characters were okay for the most part. At first, I wanted to shake Megan so hard because she was obviously taking the easy way out by avoiding rekindling her relationship with Jason, even when he, unknowingly, wanted to do that same. Eventually, I understood what she was doing and just pitied her, but not as much as I pitied Jason. He was the golden boy (well, man, really, as he was 27) who had suddenly lost everything. His struggle was painful to witness, even for a mere onlooker like me.

Perhaps that's my biggest issue with this book: not how the characters irritated me with their running around in circles, but how I never felt a connection with them. They felt distant the whole time, and what kept me reading was only my curiosity at how their story would play out. Also, I'd just like to point out that "starting anew" would have been easier had they let each other finish their sentences. Seriously.

The last 20% of this book was too clogged up with a mixture of internal monologues and lengthy conversations, and soon enough I just wished for Megan and Jason to go straight to the point and get it all over with. But despite my problems with their way of handling things, I did genuinely root for them to be together, so What Endures clearly did something right.

MY FAVORITE PART was Jason's birthday :3

RATING:
 
About the author:
Katie Lee has had a lifelong love affair with books. She fell in love with her first book in the second grade and hasn’t looked back since. She first took up writing as a hobby, wanting to craft her own magical adventures, and through the love and encouragement of family and friends, decided to get serious about writing and share her stories with the world.

She currently resides in Maryland in the United States. She works for the government during the day, and her spare time is devoted to writing. She gains inspiration from all sorts of things, but mostly from the fun and adventurous trips she takes when she can. She loves hearing from her readers so drop her a note!

Giveaway!