Thursday, May 21, 2015

[Cover Reveal] Tarnished by Kate Jarvik Birch

Tarnished (Perfected #2)
Release Date: 2015
Entangled Teen


Freedom comes at a cost...

Ella was genetically engineered to be the perfect pet—graceful, demure...and kept. In a daring move, she escaped her captivity and took refuge in Canada. But while she can think and act as she pleases, the life of a liberated pet is just as confining as the Congressman’s gilded cage. Her escape started a revolution, but she’s trapped, unable to get back to Penn—the boy she loves—or help the girls who need her.

Back in the United States, pets are turning up dead. With help from a very unexpected source, Ella slips deep into the dangerous black market, posing as a tarnished pet available to buy or sell. If she's lucky, she'll be able to rescue Penn and expose the truth about the breeding program. If she fails, Ella will pay not only with her life, but the lives of everyone she's tried to save...





Book One:
(cover linked to Goodreads)
Praise for Perfected:
“Compelling, imaginative, and unique. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough!”
— Mary Lindsey, author of Shattered Souls

Buy Links:
Amazon * Barnes & Noble

About the Author:
Kate Jarvik Birch is a visual artist, author, playwright, daydreamer, and professional procrastinator. As a child, she wanted to grow up to be either a unicorn or mermaid. Luckily, being a writer turned out to be just as magical. Her essays and short stories have been published in literary journals including Indiana Review and Saint Ann’s Review. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband and three kids. To learn more visit www.katejarvikbirch.com

Author Links:
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Cover Reveal Organized by:

Monday, May 18, 2015

[Review] Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Becky Albertalli
YA Contemporary Romance
Published: April 2015 (Balzer + Bray)
Format: ebook
Pages: 303
Rating: 3 of 5
 
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.



Warning: Spoilers and all that jazz

So, to start off, this book was cute and fun. It was light and nothing too, too dramatic was happening. The references to popular culture was nice, although if you somehow didn't get them, then that sucks. The obsession with Oreos was, uhmm, cute. But at the same time, I was like, "Shut up. Oreos aren't that good." I feel like a lot of what I didn't like was because I don't really relate well, while I understand that other people would relate better and enjoy that more than me. I found the reference to anime and manga interesting, but the moment she said Fruits Basket, I was like, "Noooo, not that one!" Which once again makes the relating thing hard. (I'm sorry to anyone I offend b/c I don't like Fruits Basket and/or Oreos =p)

One thing that bothered me was that Simon didn't know his friends. Is he just a selfish person? I don't understand how they can have a deeper relationship if he doesn't know anything about them. I get that he was trying to make up for that, but still, c'mon Simon. Get with it.

The love interest was obvious enough, but if you just forget about it for a while and try to stop guessing all the time, I think you'll have a better time. It makes the reveal a lot cuter and shocking. 

There are things I liked, like that the characters were all different from each other. I think that made them realistic. The little dramas that sprouted up among the friend group. So real. My friends did that all the time. The writing was very appropriate for the voice of Simon. It was very teen-esque.

The relationships between the side characters made for a nice subplot. It wasn't finished off or completed in a full way, which I like. Life doesn't just come to a close, it keeps going on and shaping.

The one major problem I had with the book was that it was too cute and light. It will be easy to forget. I don't think I wanted more, I just don't handle these types of stories well. I like character building and focus on their relationships, so you'd think I'd like this one more. But really, in the end, it wasn't enough for me. I wouldn't stop you from reading it, I would really recommend it. Just bear these things in mind.


Final Rating: 3 of 5

[Bout of Books] Wrap up

Goals:

• Read at least 30 mins-1 hours a day (close)
• Read 300 or more pages (completed)
• Try to clear out TBR pile (a bit)
• Read at least 3 books in total (almost)


Updates:

Monday:
Started: Red Queen
Pages Read: 76
Challenge: completed here

Tuesday:
Finished: Red Queen
Pages Read: 244
Challenge: didn't participate

Wednesday:
Started: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Pages Read: 170
Challenge: didn't participate

Thursday:
Finished: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Pages Read: 133
Challenge: completed here

Friday:
Started: More Than This
Pages Read: 15
Challenge: didn't participate

Saturday:
Continued: More Than This
Pages Read: 5
Challenge: didn't participate

Sunday:
Continued: More Than This
Pages Read: 162


Total:
Read: Red Queen, Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, (half of) More Than This
Pages Read: 805



Final Thoughts:

Bout of Books is over and it was a fun go. I didn't get as much done as I had wished, but what I did is pretty good. I don't believe I will be participating in August, since school will just be starting I should probably focus, (such a shame) but maybe when January rolls around, I'll be ready. In all, it was fun and it helped me get a few books off the TBR, which is always a good thing.

Friday, May 15, 2015

[Cover Reveal] Holding Court by K.C. Held

Holding Court
Release Date: March 2016
Entangled Teen

Summary from Goodreads:
When sixteen year-old Jules Verity, who suffers from what her best friend calls “Psychic Tourette’s Syndrome” (spontaneous outbursts of seemingly absurd prophecies that she can’t control) takes a job at a castle turned dinner theater known as Tudor Times, all she wants is the chance to make some money, wear a fancy gown, and ogle gorgeous-but-taken Grayson Chandler from afar. Instead she’s forced to wear the most mortifying costume ever, stumbles over a dead body that promptly disappears, and becomes a suspect in a jewel forgery scam.
Determined to prove she’s not a total freak who hallucinated a dead girl, Jules goes looking for answers in the secret passageways of Tudor Times. At first she’s thrilled when Grayson volunteers to help her on her quest to find a dead body, but his sudden interest in spending time with Jules becomes suspicious when she discovers his girlfriend may be guilty of a lot more than perfect hair and fabulous cleavage.
And if she can’t unveil the truth in time, wearing an embarrassing costume and her psychic outbursts will be the least of her problems.



About the Author
K.C. HELD was born and raised in California with stopovers in Honduras, Mexico, and France. Married to her high school sweetheart, and mom to two wee bookworms, she holds an MFA in costume design and is an accomplished seamstress with a background in opera, theatre, film, and television. K.C. is represented by Kathleen Rushall at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. Her debut young adult novel, HOLDING COURT, will be published by Entangled Teen in 2016. 


Author Links:
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Cover Reveal Organized by:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

[Bout of Books] An Update and a Challenge

So, since it's been four days (how???) since Bout of Books began, I'm going to give a little over view of anything that has changed and how much I've read.

Updates:

Monday:
Started: Red Queen
Pages Read: 76

Tuesday:
Finished: Red Queen (review)
Pages Read: 244

Wednesday:
Started: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Pages Read: 170

Thursday:
Finished: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Pages Read: 133


Planning to Read:



These are all subject to change.



Challenge:

And today's challenge question is "Share one book that you believe will be considered a classic in 100 years time. Simple? I do have a few caveats, the book must have been published in or after 2005 and you need to provide two reasons for why this book will be a classic."

I know this is cliche, but the first thing that pops into my mind is Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)

It's hard for me to not notice how dystopian novels are revered. Classics like Animal Farm and Anthem really emphasis this. They challenge something. They show the individuality that humans posses and really encompass the whole idea of social liberties. For this reason, I think the popularity that The Hunger Games gained will leave in etched into the history of our generation.

Another reason this one really hits hard, to me, is the that it seems like something that might be plausible. Stay with me here.  I'm not saying that the government is suddenly going to start sectioning us off, but does that not sound like something that happened? I hate to use it, but the Holocaust is a prime example. Segregation, to a lesser extent. Hatred and superiority complexes do things to people.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday



Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.


Don't even judge me. I know I'll be waiting a long time, but this book is still worth the mention. And c'mon, the covers to this series are breathtaking!





Expected Release Date: February 23, 2016
Sequel to: A Darker Shade of Magic
Adult Fantasy


Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.


Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

[Review] Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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Red Queen
Victoria Aveyard
[Red Queen #1] YA Fantasy
Published: February 2015 (HarperTeen)
Format: ebook
Pages: 320
Rating: 4.5 of 5
 
MARE BARROW'S WORLD IS DIVIDED BY BLOOD—those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own—an ability she didn't know she had. Except... her blood is Red.

To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard—the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince—and Mare against her own heart.


I just... Woah. I don't know where to start. I don't know what gripped me while I was reading this, but I do know that it affected me more than a lot of books have the ability to. A Darker Shade of Magic brought a moisture to my eyes, but it didn't have me gasping or giggling in excitement. I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next. Multiple times, my eyes found themselves read lines ahead of my mind, and I'd have to backtrack and sigh at myself in frustration.

*mumbles incoherently*

Warning for Major Spoilers

I really want to jump right in and say that the characters are the strongest part of this book, for me. They have personality, fluctuation, real emotion. And I ate it up.

Mare, our heroine, is a Red. A poor, seemingly normal girl for the Stilts. She steels to help her family get by, counting down the days until she is drafted for the army. But that all changed when she took a tumble into an electric barrier and awakened something dormant inside of her, something only the Silvers were thought to possess. At first, I was rolling my eyes at the prospect of our MC being a specialty; the only one of her kind. Well, it turns out I was mistaken. Gladly, at that. I actually liked Mare (which itself is an oddity) and her ability to overcome her emotions made me proud of her. Being a creature of emotion myself, I know the downfalls that come with it. Mare transforms into Mareena to the best of her ability because it is all she can do to save her life and the lives of her family. She struggles to conform to the Silvers' way of life. But the thing I found myself liking the most about her was how human she seemed. She found herself having a hard time accepting the thought of having to kill people that, previously, she wanted nothing more than to die. Her thoughts and worries plague her consistently. There are other times when her hate consumes her and she urges the pain for them, to see them suffer. Another thing I found very appealing about her is that she kept her love affairs mostly separate from her course of action. She would reprimand herself if she was becoming too love stricken and, a lot of time, deny herself the indulgence. She was at odds with herself over the way she held her feelings towards Cal, which is understandable enough. And Maven. Well, we'll get to him soon.

Cal, the crown prince of the Silver kingdom, was like a walking contradiction. He would say one thing, have such a forlorn way of it, seem like he regretted the way things are; but he didn't try to stop them, he just let it happen around him. He reminds me of the way a lot of first world people are. He was bred to believe Reds to be below him, and while he mostly had an air of "that's such a shame" he didn't compromise this. Cal was never spurred to action in a way that would compromise his traditions or status. And for all his pity towards the Reds, he still upheld his duty to his kingdom before that. He would willingly kill them without a thought. His loyalty was unwavering. Well, almost. He had his moments of fault, like all humans do. And his feelings for Mare made his weak. It caused a ripple in his once steadfast ideology, one that would bring about ruin. I feel that his true might was seen when he was fighting. His fire blazed brightly (literally) and shone with his true calling: to fight, to dominate, and burn. He had such a collected facade, but when his true self would break through he was passionate and unstoppable.

And I guess that leaves us with Maven. I don't really want to talk about it, but it's unavoidable. Maven is the younger brother of Cal, the youngest prince, and the shadow of the flame. I feel in love with his character. He was kind and gentle, somehow still brave in his moments of fear. He seemed to have a true resolve to help the Reds. He joined with their resistance, the Scarlet Guard, and his intentions seemed pure. His feelings seemed so genuine. But then, it happened and it was all torn away. All his intentions became clear. I wanted to cry. Through the eyes of Mare, I had come to adore Maven, and when she was crushed, I was crushed. I personally felt betrayed. It means something to me when I can feel that. It was like Frozen all over again. His bitterness to being cast aside as the younger prince, someone that would never become someone worthwhile in the eyes of his father, had turned him into a cruel boy. His jealousy, while childish, is not infallible. His reasoning makes sense. He feels forgotten and left behind, and with the help of his mother driving him, he fixes it in a way that he is more adapt at. He fights with his mind, not his body. His hesitance to just destroy everything he built with Mare was intriguing, and the flashes of the Maven I came to love made everything so much worse. Even if he held some semblance of emotion for Mare, it could never be the same. In the end, he really was a coward.

Moving on before I get emotional...

The plot is a straight forward sort of resistance type. One group is being domineered by another, more powerful group. The MC is enlisted in the resistance and they help them to make a statement. It's nothing really that special, but the character are what give the story uniqueness. There is also a magic system, which came as a surprise to me. I suppose somehow I forgot about it when I actually started the book. It was interesting. There are the elemental types (fire, water, air, ect.) and then there are types that can invade your mind, types that can force you to do things against your will, types that can bend light, among others. I can't explain them all, but even though there are a lot, I found it easy to keep track of them. The book doesn't overwhelm you with them, reminding you what the type in subject is when necessary.

The world building is nice. There wasn't a lot thrown at me with this either, which is a good thing in most cases. From what I understand, the world was rebuilt from some sort of past, so this society can technically be classified as dystopian. Mare is taught things over a period of time, which allows the reader more insight to the world. I never did figure out where they are located, but when the name Caesar popped up, I had a few thoughts. The hierarchy between the Reds and the Silvers is what consisted of a lot of it, with descriptions of the living areas of each being prominent. I'd like to see more of this in the sequel to come, and I know I won't be disappointed.

The writing was captivating. I couldn't stop reading (except for the moments when my exasperation got out of hand and I had to walk around) and I devoured the story. In the beginning, I was complaining that the book was nothing special. And really, I still hold onto some of those feelings. Some things feel recycled, but I can overlook this. But at some point, something changed within me and I stopped trying to judge the book and allowed myself to enjoy it. It was really relieving and after that, everything excited me. I really got immersed in the story, which I can say hasn't happened for a long time. I appreciate that the love wasn't front and center at all moments. I didn't order a romance book with a side of uprising and I was happy with what I got. There was a bit of this feeling of Mare being put in the cross-hairs of Maven, Cal, and her friend, Kilorn. But, in the end, I felt that it was never really over emphasized, especially by Mare herself. She never broke out into monologue of how beautiful *insert boy* was, which makes me breathe a sigh of relief. The pacing was good, nothing ever seemed too slow at moments when it shouldn't be. The ending is fast paced and enticing with good resolution and set up well to flow into a sequel. I did get the feeling that everything was going to be okay by the end, but a lot more people died than I thought would.

TL;DR

Good:
+ Characters to the MAX
+ Nice story progression
+ Colorful magic system
+ Love story doesn't subtract from plot
+ 'DAT ENDING!

Bad:
- World Building could be better
- Common plot lines

Final Rating: 4.5 of 5