Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (9)

A weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that showcases books we're looking forward to.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Publication Date: August 7th, 2012

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the kings council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

OHMYGOD! Just read the blurb. Then you'll understand. Words cannot describe how excited I am for this book. I read all three of the e-novellas within a few hours and I WANT TO GET MY HANDS ON THAT BOOK SO SO SO MUCH. August, why are you a little more than a month away?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Review: This is Not a Test

It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self.

To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live.

But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. 

When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

Review: I'm not quite sure what to say about this book. It's best for me to wait a while after reading so my thoughts and feelings settle, but after three days my mind's still a mess when it comes to this book.

Zombie books are fast-paced, action packed, however-many-pages of fun, right? Not in this case. While this book takes place in a zombie apocalypse, there's a startling lack of actual zombies present. It's not page after page of fighting for your life, gory massacres. It's a story about six teenagers trying to stay alive in the apocalypse--one of which that doesn't want to live at all. 

The main character Sloane doesn't want to be alive. Her father was abusive and her sister, the one person she loved most in the word, left her. She got swept up with five of her peers who fight so hard to live when all she wants to do is just die. The zombies are right there, just outside of her reach. Death is so close to her but she still can't get there. Sloane was an amazing character. She was just so broken and hopeless, but her misery was so real and justified that as a reader, I couldn't mock her for being melodramatic. I loved her so much and throughout the entire book I kept cheering for her to find a reason to live. 

Every single one of the teenagers in the school is a well-developed individual. No two people are alike and Courtney Summers created such multidimensional, different people that the conflicts that arose from their differences in thoughts and the stress of living in a constant life or death situation were so realistic and horrible. It's heartbreaking because they have to cooperate with each other to survive but their personalities constantly clash with each other. While the other characters thought they'd make it, the constant sense of doom from the zombies and from Sloane's own mind gave the entire book a note of hopelessness. 

As I've said, the there aren't a lot of actual zombies present in this book. This doesn't make this book any less terrifying. We don't read about the characters taking down horde after horde of zombies with matches and kitchen knives. While we didn't actually see the zombies, their prescience was undeniable. The zombies were just looming over the characters throughout the entire book. Every single scene was filled with so much fear and tension because a breech could happen any second. 

I love Courtney Summers' writing. She has this prose that somehow manages to be beautiful but natural at the same time. So while I'm admiring her pretty paragraphs, I'm not scoffing at the fluffiness of it all. The setting is very contained. After all, they are confined in a school. But even in the school, the characters tend to stick together and stay in a few select rooms rather than wander around.

The ending seemed to sneak up on me. I wasn't sure what happened at first and had to reread it a second time to confirm that it was in fact the end of the book. Even now, I'm not sure if I want to cry or smile or just drop it. This is Not a Test is still fresh in my mind and I've read two other books since then. (And not just in the form of nightmares)

Overall, I thought that this was a fantastic read. It's different from your average zombie book, but it's so so so good that even die hard zombie slayer fans should read this. Courtney Summers really seems to be able to understand how people think and how to tackle depression realistically in a non-realistic environment.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (3)

A weekly meme hosted by Tyna's Reviews showcasing the books we received this week and what happened on the blog.

From the library:
Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross
The Rivals by Daisy Whitney

Won from Goodreads:
Drain You by M. Beth Bloom

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (kindle book)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Review: Gilt

When Kitty Tylney’s best friend, Catherine Howard, worms her way into King Henry VIII’s heart and brings Kitty to court, she’s thrust into a world filled with fabulous gowns, sparkling jewels, and elegant parties. No longer stuck in Cat’s shadow, Kitty’s now caught between two men—the object of her affection and the object of her desire. But court is also full of secrets, lies, and sordid affairs, and as Kitty witnesses Cat’s meteoric rise and fall as queen, she must figure out how to keep being a good friend when the price of telling the truth could literally be her head.

Review: I was lucky enough to live near a bookstore where the Gilt launch party was held. Katherine Longshore was a charming author and she had the cutest gold nail polish ever. I wasn't able to snap any pictures because I forgot my camera, but she told us about her book, did a reading for us, and then answered questions. Katherine Longshore told us that she lived in the UK for a few years, and during her reading she had a slight British accent. Afterward, while answering questions, she had this cute little accent that was a mix between American and British. 

She admitted that she wrote in a more contemporary voice in Gilt than other historical and that people have called her out on it. Later, while reading, I found this to be true, but it didn't take away from the story. If you're new to historical fiction, Gilt might be a good transition book for you. 

Cat and Kitty's friendship sort of sickened me and fascinated me at the same time. Throughout this entire book, I really couldn't figure out why Kitty stayed with Cat and was so loyal. From the first time we meet Cat, we find out she's essentially the "queen bee" of the girls, even when she was as unwanted and poor as everyone else. Cat is spelled out to be so shallow and manipulative, using Kitty to help her practice different emotions to draw out responses from other people. Kitty followed Cat's every whim, and even when she was angry with Cat in her head, it didn't take Kitty very long to get over it and forgive Cat. Kitty was a meek main character, which was a little bit annoying because I didn't like seeing Cat toss her around. Later in the story, and by later I mean near the end, Kitty's character development is really something to watch. It's wonderfully written and a very realistic change. 

Cat on the other was a horrible person, but she was so much fun to read about. Her risky behavior sometimes made me wonder if she had a death wish or if she really was that stupid. Cat didn't have many redeeming qualities, to be perfectly honest, but her manipulations and temper tantrums kept me entertained while she was there. The inevitable end is common knowledge, but it was a very emotionally charged scene.

Which will lead me onto my next point, Katherine Longshore is a brilliant writer. While the plot in the book is slow, it isn't so boring that you'll be tempted to put the book down. There are so many other interesting events occurring that you don't really miss the lack of action. Life at court is like tightrope walking. There are so many foreboding things just off the page. Threats to Cat, threats to Kitty. Kitty's life is interesting to read about because she lurks so close to Catherine Howard and is so close to her. Katherine Longshore really knows how to draw emotion out of readers with her words as well as keep them hooked in her world.

I really applaud the author's extensive research because Katherine Tylney was a real courtier at Henry VIII's court who did grow up in the same place as Catherine Howard. She obviously knows her information well and it shows with the ease in her books. She doesn't just toss everything onto us in a huge info dump. I just sort of settled into her story, like wrapping a blanket around my head.

Overall, while Kitty wasn't my favorite main character, Gilt was an great read that kept me entertained from cover to cover.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (2)

A weekly recap on the blog that features books you've gotten this week hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Did I mention how much I love my local library? Well, if not, I do. I love my library very much. We have a wonderful YA section with new releases coming in every month. Ever since Borders closed, I haven't really been buying many books. We have a great indie bookstore, but their YA section is small enough to fit on one bookshelf. Oh, the horror!

From the Library:

From left to right, top to bottom:
Bunheads by Sophie Flack
Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
Dark Eyes by William Richter
The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
If I Die by Rachel Vincent
The Shamer's Daughter by Lene Kaaberbol
The Nine Lives of Chloe King by Celia Thomson

On the blog
Review: Timepiece

Friday, June 8, 2012

Review: Timepiece

A threat from the past could destroy the future. And the clock is ticking...

Kaleb Ballard's relentless flirting is interrupted when Jack Landers, the man who tried to murder his father, timeslips in and attacks before disappearing just as quickly. But Kaleb has never before been able to see time travelers, unlike many of his friends associated with the mysterious Hourglass organization. Are Kaleb's powers expanding, or is something very wrong?

Then the Hourglass is issued an ultimatum. Either they find Jack and the research he's stolen on the time gene, or time will be altered with devastating results. 

Now Kaleb, Emerson, Michael, and the other Hourglass recruits have no choice but to use their unusual powers to find Jack. But where do they even start? And when? And even if they succeed, it may not be enough...

The follow-up to Hourglass, Timepiece blends the paranormal, science fiction, mystery, and suspense genres into a nonstop thrill ride where every second counts.

Summary from (Goodreads)

Review: Timepiece picks up a little after Hourglass stops. But wait! There's more. Instead of having the lovely sarcastic Emerson Cole narrating this book, you've got Kaleb instead. One of the main things I really loved about Hourglass, other than the time-traveling, was Emerson herself. She was a fabulous narrator, with so much voice and personality that she became a real person in my head. She wasn't there just to tell a story. Emerson made the story. Without her voice...things were weird at first. Before this turns into a gushing review about Hourglass, I'll bring Kaleb back into the picture.

I love Kaleb. I really do. It's harder to be inside of his mind because it was so much fun to observe him from afar in Hourglass. Kaleb is seriously the king of banter. The dialogue in this book is so hilarious. The first line of this book had me in a fit of giggles and it took me forever to just calm down and keep reading. Inside Kaleb's head, you don't have to guess what other people are feeling. He just tells you. With the way it's written, it's very direct and natural, which is good, because Kaleb's used to being an empath. Myra McEntire is a fabulous author. She really understands people and in Kaleb's point of view, while I could tell it was a guy main character, she remembered to make him a person instead of a cardboard cutout of GUY. Oh, what else do I have to say? While I missed Emerson a lot, Kaleb's point of view was fantastic. He was a very interesting (wink wink) character in Hourglass, but with Timepiece he really came to life. Suddenly, you understand him. And it really is sad. Kaleb carries an unimaginable amount of guilt and hurt. He's so real in Timepiece.

Oh, and his love interest. What do I have to say about her? Oh yes, I so called it as soon as I heard Timepiece was from Kaleb's point of view. I. called. it. Honestly, it took me a while to accept Kaleb's blossoming romance with his love interest. It was downright hilarious and fun to watch unravel, but a small part of me had been hoping that Emerson would ditch Michael and marry date Kaleb. What's that I hear? Am I crushing hopes? Sorry, but the sooner you accept this, the more you'll enjoy reading this book. I still ship Kemerson, though. (Sorry, I thought up the couple name in less than a second. I'm not good at these things) Sexy Pirate, meet Tiny Ninja. Y'all should get married. (Not happening.) I really was heartbroken when they didn't get together.

The cast of characters introduced in Hourglass carry on into Timepiece with a flawless transition. Some minor characters became more important and some of the main characters stepped down to let others shine. Myra McEntire has a knack for creating people.

The plot is as confusing as the plot in the first book, maybe even more. Part of the reason it seemed so confusing may be because I skim a little when reading on a ebook reader. The time rips get  more frequent and now everyone with a time related ability gets sucked in. The stakes are upped, which is insane because throughout the entire first book, there's this intense feeling that something is going to happen. That's the same feeling you'll get from Timepiece except for the fact that it's much more foreboding because you have no idea what'll happen next. The characters were running around in a panic and it's so painful to watch because I also had no clue what was going on. The pacing was amazing. The intensity of the story kept me addicted, but at the same time she gave her characters enough rest time for them to be human and grow. The characters weren't there for the sole sake of filling out a role--they made the story.

You get a little more insight on the evil Jack  but even then, you're not sure if it's the truth or if he's lying. He's a fabulously constructed antagonist because while you know his plans, you don't quite understand his motives. The edge of mystery that surrounds him made me wish to see him more often and wish he'd never show up at all at the same time.

If you haven't read the first book yet, then I don't suggest you pick this one up until you've read Hourglass. Some second books in series can be read without the first, but Timepiece is not that kind of book. Most of the quirks and science to time travel, as well as some important character-building events from the first book are needed to fully understand the story Myra's constructed for us.

Overall, I think this was a great sequel to a gripping series. I just can't wait for what happens next in Infinityglass. 

Rating: 4/5 stars

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Like a Caveman

Pardon the dust and cobwebs settling on my blog. Life's been a bit hectic for me lately and some personal real life things have gotten in the way of my internet life. Tomorrow's my last day of school before summer break, so expect to see me more often. ;D I'll have a lot of free time to read and write reviews.

I don't really have that much time right now, but I thought I'd like to share with you a few of the books I've read recently. Because I'm lazy and in a writerly burnout, I'll only use three words to describe each book. The words may be emotions the book made me feel, (non-spoiler) events in the book, or some kind of summary or theme I felt was there. The words probably won't have anything to do with each other so don't try to piece together anything from putting them all together. I'm not clever enough to do something like that. Basically, I'll revert into Caveman Julie. Three words. Three books. This'll be fun! You can quit out of this window now, because I'm sure it'll make no sense to anyone but me. But hey, it's okay to have inside jokes with yourself, right?

Keep in mind that I may or may not write actual reviews about these books in the future.

Timepiece by Myra McEntire

Kaleb. Birds. WHY!?

Gilt by Katherine Longshore

Bitch, please. Tears.

The Story of Us by Deb Caletti

Lola. Latin Roots.
So after reading over this post, I've decided to explain my caveman musings. Mostly because I make a way too ADD a caveman.

TIMEPIECE: This isn't a spoiler because it's already been leaked a long time ago. Kaleb's the narrator in this book. Birds...well...technically this is spoiler information, even if it's unimportant. So I'll put it in white and just highlight it if you really want to see it. It doesn't really matter either way but I don't want to ruin your day. The town they're is obsessed with birds. Yeah, I went there. The last one is spoiler info, so I can't tell you about it until you've read the book. If you've read the book, email me. We need to talk.

GILT: Cat is so mean to the main character. I never really understood why they were friends. This is about King Henry VIII's 5th wife, Catherine Howard. We all know how the story ends, right? That's what the tears are for.

THE STORY OF US: This is where the ADD comes in. The main character's name is Cricket (she's a girl), which reminds me of another Cricket from another story. The sweet, shy guy Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. That Cricket's my future husband. This one character in this book smokes a lot of weed, which reminded me of the Latin Roots we learned earlier in the spring. Pot = Power. 

Finals have messed with my mind, thank you very much. I'll spend the summer recharging. Love me? Please don't judge me.