Thursday, May 31, 2012

Favorite Reads Giveaway

Okay, ladies and gentleman! It is giveaway time!

Up for grabs is a copy of The Girl of Fire and Thorns. My review hasn't been posted/written yet (it will be posted on Monday), but believe me when I say that this is such a fantastic book! My favorite of 2011. I adore it to pieces and I hope to share this love with you all.

And if I get more than 250 entires? I'll throw in e-book copies of Sarah J. Maas' e-novellas: The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, The Assassin and the Desert, and The Assassin and the Underworld. I've give each of these novellas 5 slices.

So, are you interested? Do you live in the US? Enter the rafflecopter below if you want to win. Good luck! Contest ends June 7th at 12:01 am. I will then notify the winner and they are expected to respond within 48 hours with a mailing address and/or amazon e-mail. Should I get no response I reserve the right to choose another winner. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

WoW: Stormdancer

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff 
Release (US): September 18, 2012

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So about a week ago, the US cover of Stormdancer was revealed. And it is awesome. If I was interested in the book before, I am now DYING to get my hands on an ARC. I love its illustrated feel, how fierce the girl looks, and its use of color!

But really: Japanese Steampunk? Count. Me. In. That's all I have to say about this book!

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The Shima Imperium is verging on the brink of environmental collapse; decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshippers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, land choked with toxic pollution, wildlife ravaged by mass extinctions.

The hunters of the imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger—a legendary beast, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows thunder tigers have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.

Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a hidden gift that would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly Meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine. Book bloggers present upcoming books they can’t wait to read and share their enthusiasm about new releases.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Recommendation: Under the Never Sky

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Release: January 3, 2012

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes and Noble

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Since she'd been on the outside, she'd survived an Aether storm, she'd had a knife held to her throat, and she'd seen men murdered. This was worse.

Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland - known as The Death Shop - are slim. If the cannibals don't get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She's been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He's wild - a savage - and her only hope of staying alive.

A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile - everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria's help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.

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I honesty didn't know what to really expect from Under the Never Sky. It's basically the story of two worlds colliding.

There is Aria, who lives within the safety of a "dome" that protects its residents from deadly Aether Storms. And because they are isolated from the outside world, they resort to "simulated realities. Aria, however, is exiled (for reasons that you should read about yourself). Supposedly alone, she is forced to work with the "Savage", Perry. She is searching for her mother and he is searching for his nephew. 

It's kinda of like Pocahontas with the roles reversed, with a twist of action and mystery.

What I loved about this book, though, was the rich world Rossi painted. The struggles that the two main characters go through kept me on the edge of my seat. I honestly don't like that it's labeled as "dystopian", though. Because it really isn't. Neither is it Sci-Fi, despite the use of advanced technologies (i.e. the smart eye and the simulated realities). 

This book also alternates between Perry and Aria's POV. I liked this change, although I admit I connected to Perry a bit more. Aria could have been fleshed out more, I think, but perhaps this will happen in the next two books. My major complaint with Under the Never Sky is the supposed "explanation" given at the end. I won't mention any spoilers, but being a Nursing Student, I found it to be a little far fetched. 

Overall, though, I definitely recommend this book! 


Friday, May 25, 2012

Review: Masque of the Red Death

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin
Release: April 24, 2012

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Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for--no matter what it costs her.

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Let me just say that I liked this book. I really did. And before I go into why I rated the way I rated, let me tell you what this book is about:

Araby Worth is the daughter of a scientist/inventor. Years ago, he created a mask that protected people from contracting a deadly disease. But not everyone could afford the mask. And not everyone survived. Those that did spent time in debauchery clubs where they could forget the pain and suffering. Araby is one of them, and now, there is another epidemic on the loose: The Red Death. People are scared, looking for answers. Then Araby meets Elliot and Will. They are both very different, and with them, Araby discovers a secrets and horrors that could affect hundreds of people.

Let's talk about what I liked.

First, the setting. It is eerie, awesome, and just plain intriguing. It's not a place I want to visit, but it's a place and a world that completely sucked me in, Kuddos to Griffin for such fine world building. THIS is the main reason why I like Masque of the Red Death so much.

Second, the non-angsty love triangle. Sure, we get love triangles ALL THE TIME it seems. What Griffin did, though, was unique. There is no angst over "who should I choose?" There is far more at stake than worrying about things like that. Instead, the two boys are understandably cautious and mistrusting of the other while Araby is in the middle and unsure that she even wants to love anyone. Why? Because she feels it is a betrayal to her brother.

You see, he died during the first epidemic, and Araby was the one who ended up using the one mask that protected her from contracting the disease. Her brother didn't. He died. So you see that Araby's somewhat conflicted. She denies herself a lot of things, even intimacy, because she feels somewhat responsible for her brother's death. She doesn't wish to partake in things that her brother would miss out on.

Now that I've briefly talked about the characters, I will go ahead and talk about my biggest gripe with this book: a lack of connection. This book is written in first person, but I never understood who Araby was. Perhaps this was intentional because Araby's not generally an open person. Araby's friend, April, and her brother Elliot had a little more personality. Reading Masque intrigued me, but it also left me feeling...empty. Maybe that was Griffin's desired effect. I don't know.

And I will be honest: Character is a vital part to any good story. That is my firm opinion, and hence, the slightly lower score. Griffin has, at the very least, convinced me to read her second installment. So that's a plus. Maybe Araby will become more open and more...fleshed out in the sequel. I hope so, because world building can only go so far.

*And on a side note, I read this without having read the Poe story that inspired this book. Thus, I have no clue how it compares to the original*


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

WoW: Etiquette & Espionage

Waiting on Wednesday: Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Garriger
Release: February 13, 2013

Summary (From Goodreads)

It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to finishing school.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother's existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea--and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right--but it's a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine's certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school.

First in a four book YA series set 25 years before the Parasol Protectorate but in the same universe

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I have yet to read her Parasol Protectorate series, but I've heard great things about it! And I will dive into those books when I have the time. Anyway, doesn't this book sound awesome? I can't wait for it to be released! And I don't think I will need to read the Parasol Protectorate novels in order to enjoy this.  Also, the cover is pretty...unique. I like that! What are you all waiting on this week? 

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly Meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine. Book bloggers present upcoming books they can’t wait to read and share their enthusiasm about new releases.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Recommendation: The Assassin and the Underworld

The Assassin and the Underworld by Sarah J. Maas
Release: May 1, 2012

When the King of the Assassins gives Celaena Sardothien a special assignment that will help fight slavery in the kingdom, she jumps at the chance to strike a blow against an evil practice. The misson is a dark and deadly affair which takes Celaena from the rooftops of the city to the bottom of the sewer—and she doesn’t like what she finds there.
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WARNING: Possible spoilers for The Assassin and the Desert and The Assassin and the Underworld. Read with caution.

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Sarah Maas has done it again! She has sucked me into her world and made me fall in love with Celaena all over again. I will try to avoid spoilers, but forgive me if I let one slip...

First, let's talk about Arobyn. Is it possible to hate a character and find him fascinating at the same time? After Celaena and Ansel, he is probably my next favorite character. But for very different reasons. I can only hope that Sarah will reveal more of his history in last novella or in Throne of Glass.

And Sam. Oh, Sam. There is tension (as there should be) when they are reunited in the beginning. Celaena  clearly struggles with letting anyone, even a man she loves, get close. She is confused, in denial, and unsure of her blossoming feelings. And it doesn't help that one of the few people she let get close betrayed her in The Assassin and the Desert.

My favorite thing about this novella, though, is that we see Celaena "in action". The Assassin and the Underworld focuses on Celaena's mission to destroy incriminating documents that could worsen the slavery situation and the people responsible for it.  And she is just as cunning as ever. Also, the ending felt a little predictable, but I think Sarah makes up for that with FANTASTIC writing and world building that is spot-on. I don't know how Sarah manages to create a world so visually stunning in such a short read, but she has. It's a testament to the fact that the little details count. The fourth novella promises to be a very heart-wrenching and exciting read. I can't wait! As of now, it's set to release sometime in July.

So, if you haven't read the novellas yet, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Go to Amazon, Kobo, or Barnes and Noble and download now. They are only 0.99 cents. What do you have to lose? And, JUST IN CASE you haven't seen it yet, check out the Throne of Glass book trailer that was released last week: 

Isn't it just FABULOUS? The music is jaw-dropping amazing and the way the glass shatters and forms to make words is genius! 

Also, I WON AN ARC FOR THRONE OF GLASS FROM SARAH'S BLOG. She was so generous and hosted an international giveaway. That I won. Which means I get to read it early! *spazzes and squees* After all my excitement and promotion, I am very happy to be able to hold it in my hands.  


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pretty Amy Blog Tour

Guys, I have the sincere pleasure of being a part of the Pretty Amy blog tour (my very first blog tour ever--YAY!) And if you haven't read my review, READ IT NOW. Are you reading? Good. Not yet convinced? Well I have an interview with Lisa Burstein, the author, who was kind enough to answer some questions: 

Cassie: Describe your main character (Amy) in three words. 
Lisa: Real, Raunchy, Misunderstood

Cassie: What inspired you to write Pretty Amy?
Lisa: I was arrested during my senior year of high school, not for the same reason Amy was, but that was where the kernel came from. I also knew I wanted to write a "shocking" book from a teenage girl's point of view. I feel like you can get away with your character being a murderer, or a jerk, or just a smart ass more easily if your book isn't contemporary and I wanted to try to break that mold with PRETTY AMY. I also wanted to write a contemporary YA book that was about what real teens go through. I feel like teenage girl's lives are complex and I hoped to show that in PRETTY AMY.

Cassie: Which character did you relate to the most, and why? 
Lisa: Amy. She is a hyperbolic version of me from high school. I am definitely using her and this book, to work out some of the issues I had back then.I was a lot like Amy. Just like her I had such a desire to belong, to fit in, to have people who understood me. I wanted that so badly and I guess I never felt like adults understood that. It was most of the reason I wrote PRETTY AMY. If I'd had it when I was in high school I feel like I would have been able to understand my feelings better. I wouldn't have felt so alone. That feeling was something I never admitted to anyone, not even my friends and I want to let teens know it's okay to feel lonely even surrounded by friends and family.

Cassie: Which character was the most difficult to write, and why?
Lisa: Amy, again because I wanted her to be complex and it hard to pull that off. Hard to make people like and believe in your character.

Cassie: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Lisa: Do not give up. Seriously. I could have given up so many times after any number of the rejections I received agent and editor both and if I had I would never be here today.

Cassie's final words: Wow! I had no idea that this was heavily based on you and your experiences as a teenager. I think that makes this story UBER special. Thank you so much, Lisa, for taking the time to answer my questions. (And for the record, Amy is most definitely REAL, raunchy, and misunderstood). 

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Lisa Burstein is a tea seller by day and a writer by night. She received her MFA in Fiction from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University and is glad to finally have it be worth more than the paper it was printed on. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her very patient husband, a neurotic dog and two cats. Pretty Amy is her first novel. She never went to her senior prom.

Stacking the Shelves (2)

Stacking The Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Welcome to my HUGE edition of stacking the shelves, where I display all the goodies I have bought/got in the mail. I have not done a Stacking the shelves in two weeks, so bear with me as I try to get through my LONG list of books.

These are books that I received from April 30th to May 6th: 

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (Gift) 
The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi (Purchased) 
Ship Breaker Paolo Bacigalupi (Purchased) 
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stefvater (Purchased from NYMBC event)--SIGNED
NightSpell by Leigh Cypress (For Review/Promotion from Leah Cypress)--SIGNED. I plan on giving this away.
Bitterblue by Kristen Cashore (Gift)
Uglies by Scott Westerfield (Gift)
Belles by Jen Calonita (Won from NYMBC giveaway)
A Midsummers Nightmare ARC by Kody Keplinger (Won from NYMBC giveaway) I plan on giving this away soon (after I read it)
Fang Girl by Helen Keeble ARC (Won from NYMBC giveaway) I plan on giving this away soon (after I read it)
From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas ARC (Won from NYMBC giveaway) 
Above World by Jenn Reese ARC (Won from NYMBC giveaway)

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Here are the books and goodies I received from May 7 to May 13 (while I was on my Trip):  

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows (Borrowed)
Fire by Kirstin Cashore (From Katie of Blook Girl)--SIGNED
Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton (From Courtney)--SIGNED
Swag for The Mapmaker and the Ghost and Angelfire

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These are the Books I received from May 14 to Today

Storm by Brigid Kemmerer (Won from the Australian Storm Blog Tour) I plan of giving this away.
Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock (Won from Kathleen)--SIGNED

Phew! There you have it, ladies and gentleman. My LONG list of books. When I will get around to reading these awesome books, I DON'T KNOW. But read I must. And if you got through this list, you deserve a big round of applause...

What did you all get in your mailbox? I'd love to know!

NOTE: links too goodreads will be up later today.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Review: Pretty Amy

Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein 
Release: May 8, 2012

Amy is fine living in the shadows of beautiful Lila and uber-cool Cassie, because at least she’s somewhat beautiful and uber-cool by association. But when their dates stand them up for prom, and the girls take matters into their own hands—earning them a night in jail outfitted in satin, stilettos, and Spanx—Amy discovers even a prom spent in handcuffs might be better than the humiliating “rehabilitation techniques” now filling up her summer. Worse, with Lila and Cassie parentally banned, Amy feels like she has nothing—like she is nothing.

Navigating unlikely alliances with her new coworker, two very different boys, and possibly even her parents, Amy struggles to decide if it’s worth being a best friend when it makes you a public enemy. Bringing readers along on an often hilarious and heartwarming journey, Amy finds that maybe getting a life only happens once you think your life is over.

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It is difficult to put into words my experience while reading Pretty Amy. So let me begin by saying that this is not a book for the faint of heart. It is YA, but more adult than young (if that makes any sense). In fact, I initially shocked by the use of foul language and the topics/issues that were explored.

Once the shock died out, though, I understood the necessity of such words. It made for a much more realistic story.

Pretty Amy begins on Prom night. Amy and her friends, Lila and Cassie (that's my name!) have been stood up. One thing leads to another, and as you can tell from the cover, they all end up in jail. The story that follows marks Amy's journey through regret, forgiveness, and realization of self worth. And I can say that, without a doubt, this book would not have worked were it not for the realistic characterization of Amy. She is at the heart of the story and her voice and character are worth noting. As layers are peeled back, the reader begins to see the desperation and uncertainty that everyone feels at one point in their life. When one becomes so defined by their social group that they feel like they are nothing apart from them.

And this relatable theme has the potential to hit readers to the core.

The rest of the cast is also quite colorful. From Conner, to Lila, to Cassie...and even AJ (Amy's pet parrot). The relationship between Joe and Amy could have been more emphasized and/or developed, though. That is my one and only complaint, aside from the relatively quick resolution. The romance isn't the focus of the book, though, and perhaps that is what made this read different and refreshing. Pretty Amy is a simple, heavy, and yet satisfying story.

So please, PLEASE don't miss this amazing book. Thanks to entangled publishing for providing the e-ARC. Look for my interview with Lisa Bursten come Sunday--see you then.

(Oh! And on a side note, I have posted up a NEW giveaway. Go and enter now!)


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Love in Bloom: GIveaway Hop

Love is most certainly in the air. I don't know about you all, but I just love me some contemporary YA. And what better way is there to show my love for YA contemporary than to giveaway some of my favorite books in the genre? That's right. You heard me. I'm doing a giveaway hop (hosted by I Am A Reader Not A Writer) and I have THREE books up for grabs. Winner takes all. Just enter the rafflecopter below and you could win:

- Must be at least 13 years old
- Must live in the USA
- Giveaway ends May 24rd 12:01 am.
- Winner will be notified and expected to respond within 48 hours with a mailing address. Failing to do so will result in a new winner being picked.

So what are you waiting for? Enter and good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Below, are the other participants in this giveaway hop:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wow: Defiance (and Brattle Book Shop!)

For those of you who are curious, I had an amazing trip to Maine, Boston, NYC, and DC. I will spare you details of my traveling adventures but I must include a few pictures of this AMAZING bookstore in Boston. It's called the Brattle Book Shop, and it has books dating back to the late 1800s (although most were from 1950 and onward). Here are some pics I thought my fellow book-lovers would enjoy.

So there you have it. Pretty awesome, huh? And I had planned on posting up pictures of my book haul for the past 2 weeks, but that will have to wait till Sunday. I just didn't want to clutter this post with too many pictures.

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Anyway, it is Wednesday already, and you know what that means. My WoW pick! 

Title: Defiance
Author: CJ Redwine 
Release: August 28, 2012
Summary (from GoodReads): 

Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making

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Harper Collins has MANY amazing book releases this year, but Defiance  is definitely on the top of my list. It promises an amazing and adventerous ride through what I anticipate to be a very fascinating world. I can't wait for it to be released! And the cover is quite stunning. From the summary and the cover, I'm pretty sure that Rachel will end up being a pretty strong, kick-butt heroine. And who doesn't like a kick-butt heroine?

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly Meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine. Book bloggers present upcoming books they can’t wait to read and share their enthusiasm about new releases.