Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - Perception and Probability Edition

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for. For my WoWs, I'll be choosing a Sooner (books released in the next month or so) and a Later (books further out). Here's what I'm eagerly anticipating:

Sooner:

The Probability of Miracles
by Wendy Wunder

hitting shelves December 8th, 2011 from Razorbill

description:
Dry, sarcastic, sixteen-year-old Cam Cooper has spent the last seven years in and out hospitals. The last thing she wants to do in the short life she has left is move 1,500 miles away to Promise, Maine - a place known for the miraculous events that occur there. But it's undeniable that strange things happen in Promise: everlasting sunsets; purple dandelions; flamingoes in the frigid Atlantic; an elusive boy named Asher; and finally, a mysterious envelope containing a list of things for Cam to do before she dies. As Cam checks each item off the list, she finally learns to believe - in love, in herself, and even in miracles.

A debut novel from an immensely talented new writer, The Probability of Miracles crackles with wit, romance and humor and will leave readers laughing and crying with each turn of the page.

My thoughts: After seeing a review of this at Katie's Book Blog, it immediately went on my official run-to-the-bookstore-the-day-it-comes-out list. So I guess I have a date with Barnes in a week. Who says bloggers don't sell books? :)

L
ater:

Perception
by Kim Harrington

hitting shelves March 1st, 2012 from Scholastic Press

description:
When you can see things others can't, what do you do when someone's watching you?

Everybody knows about Clarity "Clare" Fern. She's the psychic girl in school, the one who can place her hands on something and see hidden visions from the past.

Only Clare would rather not be a celebrity. She prefers hanging back, observing. Her gift is not a game to her.

But then someone starts playing with her head . . . and heart. Messages and gifts from a secret admirer crop up everywhere Clare turns. Could they be from Gabriel, the gorgeous boy who gets Clare's pulse racing? Or from Justin, Clare's hopeful ex-boyfriend who'd do anything to win her back?

One thing is certain. Clare needs to solve this mystery, and soon. Because the messages are becoming sinister, and a girl in town has suddenly disappeared.

My thoughts: Book one, Clarity, really drew me in. Can't wait for more!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Guest Post with Courtney King Walker & On The Fringe Giveaway!

I recently reviewed On The Fringe by Courtney King Walker, which was a fantastic book. I was so taken with the wonderful love story between Claire and Daniel, I asked Courtney to stop by for a guest post on writing love.
Please welcome Courtney King Walker!!


Confessions of a Middle-Aged Romantic

Writing about love seems like it should be easy. Haven’t we all been in love or at least “like” at some point in our lives? That fluttering heart and those sweaty palms are universal experiences, part of a web of emotions that make us human instead of just ‘mammal.’

Still, I was never so lucky as to have a gorgeous guy turn his head and nearly stop breathing at the sight of me (what was wrong with me?) Nor did I discover my one and only true love at the attendance office on my first day of school, secretly checking me out. No, my experience has been somewhat average. So, I can’t say I’m much of an expert at writing about love at first sight, or anything involving swoon-worthy glances or witty, sexy comebacks—unless you count the time I told a construction worker in downtown San Francisco to ‘bite me.’ Which is what makes me so qualified to write about regular, average-boy love.

If you’re like me, your (average) experience with love started somewhere in elementary school, like with Brian in Mrs. Ristad’s kindergarten class, who offered to let me use the fingerpaints first. He was such a gentleman.

Then there was Scott in fifth grade who broke my heart after moving across
the country to Atlanta, leaving me all alone to face middle school with a tender heart and newfound respect for the opposite sex. Which got me all ready and prepped for the dark haired, dreamy Sy, my crush from third through ninth grade—the epitome of unrequited love…the uber cool, Italian good-looking hottie whom every girl dreamt of, but only a lucky few ever got the chance to hold his hand, much less hear him speak their name out loud (FYI–he did say my name more than once).

Let’s just say my experience has been more like that of a realist, a romantic pragmatist whose adolescent experience with boys typically involved some sort of high-fiving themselves after a witty, chauvinistic remark at my expense, or worse—my having suffered through too many attempts at some dude trying to plant a kiss on me at some terribly awkward moment (for starters, asking me, ‘can I kiss you?’ has always been a romance-killer).

Sure, I’ve had moments where the stars collided and Mr. Right said and did the absolute perfect thing…which is why I am still a romantic at heart, and always will be, but, like regular life, those moments have been far and few between. Which is okay, because guys aren’t gods. They’re just guys…sometimes cute, sometimes annoying, sometimes terribly sweet but mostly just typical, lanky, awkward, and totally worth writing about in all their awkwardness so that regular, average, totally normal girls feel like love at first sight guys aren’t the norm. And that’s okay.


Because I enjoyed this book so much, I want to share the love! I'm giving away a copy of On The Fringe to one lucky winner! Enter below for the chance to fall in love with this book!

~open internationally!
~must be 13 or older to enter
~one entry per person please!
~contest closes December 13, 2011

Fill out the ENTRY FORM HERE!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Winners!


Congrats to these winners of recent contests here at Stories & Sweeties! :D

Winner of a signed copy of Eve:
Chey from The Hollow Cupboards

Winner of the two copies of Beautiful Chaos:
Stephanie & Lilly

More giveaways coming soon. Thanks to everyone who entered! :D

Sunday, November 27, 2011

In My Mailbox {94}

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we all share what we got during the week!

It turned out to be one of those "happy-dance-diet" kind of weeks, and very timely with all that stuffing and pumpkin cheesecake I ate on Thanksgiving! :) Here's what I got:

For Review:
Mist by Kathryn James
A Witch in Winter by Ruth Warburton
Switched by Amanda Hocking
Huge thanks to Hodder children's for sending the first two all the way from the UK! And thanks to Library Thing Early Reviewers for Switched---ecstatic to read all of these!

Won:
Eternal Starling by Angela Corbett
So excited for this! It was my WoW pick a few weeks back, so I was very happy to win it! Thanks, Jen @ My Life with Books!

Saving June by Hannah Harrington
Have heard wonderful things about this one! Thank you, Bewitched Bookworms!

New on My Nook:
From Netgalley:
New Girl by Paige Harbison
This was plugged as a retelling of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, so I immediately requested it!

So that's all for me! I hope everyone had a great week!

Friday, November 25, 2011

2012 Debut Author Challenge

It's time once again to sign up for the Debut Author Challenge, hosted by The Story Siren! This will be my third year participating, and it's always so much fun. You can get all the details at Kristi's site here, but here's the gist of it:
  • Set a goal of at least 12 YA or MG 2012 books by debut authors
  • Read and review those books between January 1st, 2012 and January 31st, 2013
  • Post those reviews on your blog or on goodreads
  • Link up your review at The Story Siren each month for a chance at some awesome prizes!
Here is the list I'll be tackling this year. I was completely overwhelmed with the amount of awesome-looking debuts coming out in 2012---I tried to pare it down, I did! But I still ended up with a list of 28 irresistible titles that I'll be picking from! I'm hoping to read at least 20 of them!

(All titles link to goodreads)
Phew! So are you taking the challenge? What's on your list?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm thankful for...

To all my blog friends celebrating Thanksgiving today, I wish you a safe and happy holiday! I'm thankful for you! I'm thankful for all the yummy food we'll eat to day (especially the stuffing, it's my favorite!). I'm thankful for all the family I'll be surrounded with today and the family that I haven't seen in ages (miss you guys!) I'm thankful for my books, my little space here on the blogosphere and all the people who take the time to visit me here. I'm thankful for the miracles of modern medicine and the extra time it's given me. I'm thankful for my life. :)

There's lots to be thankful for, dear friends! Remember that today and every day! :D

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - The One Word Edition

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for. For my WoWs, I'll be choosing a Sooner (books released in the next month or so) and a Later (books further out). Here's what I'm eagerly anticipating:
Sooner:

Here
by Denise Grover Swank

hit shelves November 7th, 2011 (self-published)

description:
Sixteen year old Julia Phillips buries herself in guilt after killing her best friend Monica in a car accident. Julia awoke in the hospital with a broken leg, a new talent for drawing and false memories of the accident, in which she dies and Monica lives. The doctors attribute this to her head injury, but no one can explain how a bracelet engraved with her name ended up at the scene of the accident. A bracelet no one has ever seen before. Classmate Evan Whittaker paid Julia no attention before the accident, let alone after. Now suddenly he’s volunteering to tutor her and offering to drive her home. She can't ignore that his new obsession started after his two-day disappearance last week and that he wears a pendant she’s been drawing for months. When the police show up one night looking for Evan, he begs Julia to run with him, convincing her that Monica is still alive. Julia agrees to go, never guessing where he’s really from.

My Thoughts: Now, sure, it's easy enough to say I was drawn in by this cover: At first look she is standing in the water, but if you look closer, she is floating slightly above. Creeeepy! Then, of course, I read the synopsis and now this book has my full attention! Sounds amazing. This one is actually already out, but I can't wait get a hold of this one!


Later:

Pure
by Jennifer L. Armentrout

hitting shelves April 3rd, 2012 from Spencer Hills Press

description:
There is need. And then there is Fate...

Being destined to become some kind of supernatural electrical outlet isn't exactly awesome--especially when Alexandria's "other half" is everywhere she goes. Seth's in her training room, outside her classes, and keeps showing up in her bedroom--so not cool. Their connection does have some benefits, like staving off her nightmares of the tragic showdown with her mother, but it has no effect on what Alex feels for the forbidden, pure-blooded Aiden. Or what he will do--and sacrifice--for her.

When daimons infiltrate the Covenants and attack students, the gods send furies--lesser gods determined to eradicate any threat to the Covenants and to the gods, and that includes the Apollyon... and Alex. And if that and hordes of aether-sucking monsters didn't blow bad enough, a mysterious threat seems willing to do anything to neutralize Seth, even if that means forcing Alex into servitude... or killing her.

When the gods are involved, some decisions can never, ever be undone.

My thoughts: Half-Blood completely rocked. Definitely one of my top 10 of 2011. Possibly even top 5. So the sequel is obviously at the top of of my wishlist for 2012.
Can't. freakin. wait!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

In My Mailbox {93}

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we all share what we got during the week!

Just two lovlies this week! I bought no books---the second the weather turns cold and rainy here, I tend to blow all my cash on sweaters and scarves and boots and super cool patterned galoshes. :) I love Fall and Winter...as long as I'm prepared for them! So it's just review books for me this week! Here's what I got:

For Review:
Become by Ali Cross
So excited for this one! I'll be doing a giveaway for this one soon---not sure if it will be an ebook or print book giveaway, but keep an eye out if your excited for this one, too!

Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey
Ok, so I admit. I squealed a bit when this got here. SO excited for this one!!

So that's all for me! :) Stay warm and cozy, everyone!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

publisher: HarperTeen

release date: November 15, 2011

hardcover, 348 pages

intended audience: Young adult

series: Shatter Me, Book 1

rating:



source: ARC from publisher for review

description:
Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war-- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

Review: Upon finishing Shatter Me, I closed the last page, sat in silence for a moment, ...then took a nap. I was so emotionally drained. This incredible debut rakes your emotions through hopelessness and fear, doubt and sadness, love and triumph, contentment and relief. When we first meet Juliette, she is in a cell, this broken forgotten thing, with only her scribblings in her notebook and her dreams of seeing birds flying to keep her sane. Until a boy is thrown in her cell, she's not sure why or what he's there for---but he seems vaguely familiar. It's the change in Juliette as the story progresses that is fascinating to watch. She is completely at war with herself in her guilt and her desires and her strange deadly powers, but she finds the strength to also be at war with anyone who would use her as a weapon. That is not who she wants to be and she sticks by that, never doubting that conviction, which I loved.

The thing that really stands out about this novel is Juliette's narrative voice. Mafi's writing style is so unique and intoxicating---the stricken-out words and repetitive prose gave this story what literally felt like a pulse, and gave us a strong feel for Juliette by letting us see all of her uncensored thoughts. At times, it felt almost like a story written in verse, with lots of metaphorical imagery giving the reader a feel for the actions and emotions taking place instead of plainly describing them. At times, I'll admit, it was a bit over the top, but for the most part, it was remarkable.

I adored the love story. My favorite romances to read are ones with passion that is built on history. The ones where the characters can say "I've loved you since the day I met you" and that statement actually means years and years instead of weeks or days. There were definitely some very swoon-worthy romantic moments in this. For someone who starts off so untouchable and innocent, Juliette definitely gets her chance to sport her "inner naughty girl".

Definitely not a debut to be missed! With all the hype surrounding this one, I'm happy to say it did not disappoint at all.

Visit Tahereh Mafi's site here!

Purchase Shatter Me at: AmazonBN.comBookDepositoryIndiebound

Trailer:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Guest Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

publisher: Simon & Schuster

release date: September 27, 2011

hardcover, 452 pages

intended audience: Young adult

series: Mara Dyer, book 1

rating:



source: won an ARC
reviewer: Amy

description:

Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.

She's wrong.

Review: Compelling!! Its the one word that came to mind the whole time I was reading The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer!

Michelle Hodkin throws you right into the story head first as she reels you into an illusion of the past and of the present, leaving you compelled to find out if Mara Dyer is really as psychotic as she and everyone else thinks. Can it be an illusion? Or is there a real reason that can explain why she is the way she is?

The book reads almost like a constant cliffhanger as you watch Mara's life unravel before you. Throughout this book, you find yourself hopelessly rooting for Mara, hoping for an answer inside every chapter. Before you know it, you find yourself falling for the preppy, no-good, egotistical, good-looking rich guy, Noah, even though you try to convince yourself he is really up to no good.

Mara's hallucinations and visions draw you in even more, driving that desire to know the truth and solve the mystery of that tragic day. I loved this book for so many reasons. First, it caught and kept my attention throughout the whole book. There wasn't one slow part where you felt you could set the book down for just a few minutes. I practically had to force myself to close it so I could get ready for the day. Second, even though it definitely was left open for a sequel, you're not jipped with the storyline or ending. Its a real, complete story. And third, these are not your normal everyday characters. Mara is dealing with a tragic accident that resulted in the death of her three friends. And the only way she can piece together what happened is from the nightmares and hallucinations that haunt her. The characters are beautifully developed and real, with no paranormal issues, unless you count the mysterious deaths.

If you want a change from vampires, werewolves, and ghosts (not that I am saying any of these are bad), this book will appeal to you. My only advice is...as much as you want to fly through to the end and exercise your powers of speed reading, DON'T! Take your time to process the many details of this face-paced story. They are needed to help all the pieces fit together, and I am sure they help lay the foundation for the next book, which I am anxiously waiting for!

Visit Michelle Hodkin's site here!

Purchase Mara Dyer at: AmazonBN.com BookDepository Indiebound

Trailer:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - Secrets & Temptations Edition

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for. For my WoWs, I'll be choosing a Sooner (books released in the next month or so) and a Later (books further out). Here's what I'm eagerly anticipating:

Sooner:
The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers
by Lynn Weingarten

hitting shelves on December 27, 2011 from HarperTeen

description:
When her boyfriend breaks up with her on the first day of sophomore year, Lucy has no idea how she’s going to make it through homeroom, let alone the rest of her life. Enter three stunning girls with a magical offer Lucy can’t refuse. All she has to do is get a guy to fall in love with her in the next seven days, and then…break his heart and collect one of his brokenhearted tears. As the girls teach Lucy how to hook a guy (with the help of a little magic), she quickly discovers how far she is willing to go—and who she is willing to cross—to get what she wants.

Fans of Lauren Myracle, Jodi Lynn Anderson, and Meg Cabot will love this tale of breakups, friendship, new crushes, and magic. Told with wit and charm, The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers is sure to be one of this winter’s most irresistible reads!

My thoughts: This one seems to me like it will have the feel of Practical Magic, and I was a BIG fan of that one. Plus---this cover ROCKS.


Later:
Temptation of Angels
by Michelle Zink

hitting shelves March 20th, 2012 from Dial Books for Young Readers

description:
Even angels make mistakes in this page-turning epic romance...


When her parents are murdered before her eyes, sixteen-year-old Helen Cartwright finds herself launched into an underground London where a mysterious organization called the Dictata controls the balance of good and evil. Helen learns that she is one of three remaining angelic descendants charged with protecting the world's past, present, and future. Unbeknownst to her, she has been trained her whole life to accept this responsibility. Now, as she finds herself torn between the angelic brothers protecting her and the devastatingly handsome childhood friend who wants to destroy her, she must prepare to be brave, to be hunted, and above all to be strong, because temptation will be hard to resist, even for an angel.

Michelle Zink masterfully weaves historical fantasy with paranormal romance to create a gripping tale of love and betrayal.

My thoughts: Michelle Zink. For me, that's all the reason I need. Her Prophecy of the Sisters Trilogy made me a faithful fan and if she wants to publish her grocery list, I will read it. LOL. Ok, maybe not, but I am definitely stalking this book.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Review: The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

publisher: Margaret K. McElderry

release date: November 15, 2012

hardcover, 320 pages

intended audience: Young adult

series: The Pledge, book 1

rating:



source: Simon & Schuster Galley Grab

description:
In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she's spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It's there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she's never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.

Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can't be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country's only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.

Review: The Pledge was a fascinating read, definitely held my attention from beginning to end, with a few great gasp-worthy twists and surprises. While it didn't quite live up to my high expectation of Kimberly Derting's work, it was definitely worth a read.

The concept of a society segregated by language was interesting. Each class had their own language and the universal language of "Englaise". Those in lower classes were not permitted to know the language of other higher classes, nor to even dare to look at someone while they were speaking a language higher than their own. While I understood the idea, it seemed a little over the top and damn near impossible that the lower classes would have to drop their eyes every time someone spoke a language they weren't suppose to know. It seemed to me that if people were going to the gallows everytime they couldn't look away fast enough, there would be very few people left!

The main character, Charlie, has the ability to understand all languages. She's gone her whole life having to hide this from everyone. Aside from her ability, Charlie was fairly unremarkable as a protagonist. She is self-controlled, not much of a risk-taker, sort of lets her best friend walk all over her. It was interesting seeing her go through day to day, coming across people she is not suppose to understand, and having to hide her reactions. She made a few fairly odd choices that made it hard for me to get behind her one hundred percent. The relationship between Charlie and Max was a little cool (which was disappointing, because as anyone who's read The Body Finder knows, Miss Derting knows her way around writing love). What I did really love was the relationship between Charlie and her sister, Angelina. Angelina doesn't speak and has a few secrets of her own, but Charlie is a fierce protector of her little sister. The character that was the biggest surprise for me was Charlie's best friend, Brooklynn. I started out hating her...I mean really hating every scene she came into, wanting to just punch her in the face! But her part in the story was a complete surprise and I loved her by the end of the book!

This is definitely a very plot-driven story. It was very fast paced (sometimes a little too fast), very intense in parts and exciting. It held my interest all the way through, but didn't really grab me until closer to the end. Like a said earlier, there were a few twists that literally had me gasping in shock, and yelling, "NO!" at the book. However, there were also a few points that never came clear for me (for example, why did her parents stay behind?? The explanation that was given never quite made sense to me). I did like the short interjected POV switches where we get a little glimpse of what's going on inside the minds of Max, Xander, and even the Queen.

A great blend of fantasy and dystopia, I definitely suggest giving this one a try, to make up your own mind. The ending was breath-taking and had both a satisfying close and just enough left open to make me curious about what will happen as the series continues!

Visit Kimberly Derting's site here!

Purchase The Pledge at: Amazon BN.comBookDepositoryIndiebound

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cover Story : Favorite Recent Cover Releases

You've probably seen these floating around elsewhere on the web, but I just wanted to showcase a few of my recent favorite cover releases. There are some truly gorgeous books coming out in 2012!!



The Selection by Kiera Cass
Ooo, aqua blue. Love it. Gorgeous dress, an intense, icy feel to the whole thing, and the creepiness of the fun-house mirror, with the added eerie effect of being something other than her exact reflection. I love this cover...wonderful.








The Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst
This is so cool. Love the rich warm colors, the intense look on her face, the perfect flow of the fabric. Really beautiful.









Fated by Alyson Noel
Wow, love this one. Purple is another favorite color, especially this plummy soft kind of purple. Love the birds, and the pretty feather earrings. Really cool. Now I'm not a huge Noel fan, but this cover is just beautiful!





Touched by Cyn Balog
Love all the cool details on this one. The swirling smoke (is that smoke? Or just a wierd energy thing?) , the spooky carnival in the background, the blues and grays and greens. Outstanding.










Body & Soul by Stacey Kade
I included this one, not because it is especially gorgeous, but because I love these two character so much, it's just good to see them again! :D Go, Will & Alona!





So what are your favorite recent releases??

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In My Mailbox {92}

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we all share what we got during the week!

SO...nothing to show in my actual mailbox---nothing for review this week, plus I was good girl and didn't buy any physical books :) I did however, go a little crazy with the ebooks this week. And so, we go straight to:

New On My Nook!
I've had such a run of good luck lately with self-pubbed and indie titles, so I went looking for a few more. I've been dying to get Ladybird, Ladybird---I was such a fan of Abra Ebner's Knight Angels! The other three, well...let's just say, the stories looked great, all got very high reviews and,... oh heck, you all know I bought them because they are gorgeous! :) Especially Black Wood---such a beautiful cover. If I love it, I'm going back for the print copy! There's a little of all the fun stuff in these four: ghosts, witches, fantastical realms, gypsies, curses, mermaids...and ladybugs? :)



So what new goodies did you get this week??


Friday, November 11, 2011

Review: Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout

publisher: Spencer Hill Press

release date: October 18, 2011

paperback, 281 pages

intended audience: Young adult

series: Covenant, book 1

rating:



source: from publisher for review

description:
The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi-pure-bloods-have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals-well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures. Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden.Unfortunately, she's crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn't her biggest problem--staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck.

Review:
Okay. I apologize if this review ends up being a little vague. There are just way too many amazing surprises and twists to spoil in this amazing novel. One thing I will suggest: read Daimon first. It's a little prequel novella, 62 pages, takes no time at all to read (because it, also, is completely action packed!) but it adds so much depth to the story and really gives you a feel for who Alex is and the relationship between her and her mother. So important! I honestly can't imagine the story without that little added bit.

Alex is a great protagonist. She has a very entertaining, relatable voice. Smart, sensitive, a great touch of realism to her, with a perfect mix of uncertainty and bad-ass attitude...and she's got the fight in her to match. She's been pulled out of the life she knew without knowing why, and then thrown back into that life years later after a life-crushing tragedy. She has so much to face---catching up to where she should be, dealing with ugly rumors from peers, mourning the loss of her mother, and fighting off her growing feelings for a boy that she is forbidden to have feeling for---and the way she deals with it all comes across very genuinely.

Aiden was a surprising character. When we first get a glimpse of him he is this steely, mysterious, tough-guy with a reputation for being a cold and merciless trainer and sentinel. Then the exterior begins to crack and the layers peel away to reveal a person that, although he is tough, he's caring about Alex and his younger brother, and is quite damage from a personal tragedy himself. There are definitely some good, swoon-worthy moments between he and Alex, a definite sign of a well-written forbidden love. The resistance has to slip sometimes, and when it does...sigh. :)

I was completely drawn in from beginning to end. A good sign of how "un-put-downable" this was: I got this book from the publisher, but I once left the house without it (to my horror!). I couldn't wait, I immediately jumped online and downloaded the e-book to my phone. There are a few heart-stopping surprises in this story, and one in particular that completely blew me away. It's been a long time since I've been sucker-punched by a book, but this one did it. I tried not to cry, I really did. I failed. I won't give away even an inkling of what happens, but I'm sure those who've read this one know the part I mean. So read it...you know you all want to be sucker-punched, too! :D

And now I'm dying, DYING to get my hands on book two, Pure, coming out in April 2012! I need more Alex & Aiden! And Caleb (he's a fun best friend)...and even more Seth (what was up with that guy? lol).

Definitely don't miss this one!

Visit Jennifer's website here.

Purchase Half-Blood at: AmazonBN.comBookDepository Indiebound

Trailer:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Book News: Bree Despain's Lost Letters of Brother Gabriel

How is everyone this Thursday? :)
I want to share some cool new from Bree Despain and Egmont Publishing!
I love the Dark Divine series, so I'm completely excited about this e-book release---even more excited that a great cause is being supported with every sale!! Take a look:

A Divine Full-Moon Campaign Launches

Join in and you could win great reads and cool prizes.

Egmont Publishing is pleased to announce the publication of The Lost Letters of Gabriel. And starting at the stroke of midnight, Friday, November 11th through Saturday, December 10th, Egmont and acclaimed author of The Dark Divine series Bree Despain will be offering weekly prizes from books to jewelry to celebrate the upcoming paperback publication of TheLost Saint (11/22/11), book 2 in the trilogy. The final book, The Savage Grace, will be available in March.

In addition, for just $1.99 readers can purchase The Lost Letters of Gabriel, a special digital supplement to the series that will add a whole new layer of intrigue and understanding to these books. The letters, first introduced during The Dark Divine (Book 1) to help Grace understand the Urbat curse that has changed her life, were written during the thirteenth century and compiled in the eighteenth century, but some were lost. But those mislaid letters have been found and are now available wherever e-books are sold. Bree Despain is donating a portion of her proceeds from the letters will go to: Kids Need to Read www.kidsneedtoread.org, an organization that provides books to schools and libraries in low income areas.

Look for the next full moon and every full moon between now and the publication of The Savage Grace for more from Bree and Egmont, including exclusive content, additional prizes and maybe a surprise or two.

The Lost Letters of Gabriel: A Dark Divine Original

Available wherever e-books are sold

ISBN-13: 9781606843994; $1.99

To win cool prizes during the Full-Moon campaign, visit: http://www.facebook.com/EgmontUSA

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - The Over the Shoulder Edition ;)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

So I've decided from now on to add a little fun step to my Waiting on Wednesday posts. I'll be choosing two books. I'll have a "Sooner" and a "Later" pick, one that is coming up in the next month or so and one that is way down the line. Sound good? ;)

Sooner:

Eternal Starling
by Angela Corbett


hitting shelves December 6, 2011 from Pendrell Publishing


description:
A love so strong, even eternity can’t separate them.


Evie Starling has lived a relatively uneventful life hanging out with friends, gossiping about boys, and driving her 1966 Mustang. All of that changes when she moves to Gunnison,
Colorado, to start college and meets two mysterious men.

For centuries, Alex Night and Emil Stone have yearned for Evie—but they each have their own reasons for wanting to be with her. When both men claim to be her soul mate and tell her about an unbelievable past, Evie learns that she’s not the person she thought she was. Soon, Evie finds herself in the middle of an age-old battle between the Amaranthine Society—the soul protectors, and the Daevos Resistance—the soul destroyers. With a past she doesn’t understand, and a future rife with danger, Evie has to decide who she can trust. But Alex and Emil aren’t the only ones who want Evie, and her soul is about to become the rope in an eternal tug-of-war.

My Thoughts: I love this cover, the fact that the MC drives a 66 mustang, and the fact that I haven't seen anything but rave reviews for this book! I can't wait!


Later:

Goddess, Interrupted
by Aimee Carter

hitting shelves March 27th, 2012 by Harlequin Teen

description:
Kate Winters has won immortality.

But if she wants a life in the Underworld with Henry, she’ll have to fight for it.

Becoming immortal wasn’t supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she’s as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he’s becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate’s coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans.

As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person who is the greatest threat to her future.

Henry’s first wife, Persephone.

My Thoughts: LOVED The Goddess Test. Can't wait for more. :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Interview with Anna Carey & Signed Eve Giveaway!

Today I'm super excited to welcome Anna Carey, author of Eve, to Stories & Sweeties! She's here to give us the scoop on writing Eve, some words of wisdom for those taking on NaNoWriMo, and of course, her cupcakes of choice. :) Welcome, Anna!!


What kind of research went into building the world of Eve?

I wasn't as interested in building a completely new world as I was in reimagining our world in the wake of an unfathomable tragedy. As grisly as it sounds, when I was writing the first Eve book I found myself watching old youtube videos of natural disasters. I read a lot of survival stories of people alone in the wildness, as well as stories about the bubonic plague. Eve's world is our world without us in it, so I was constantly looking up random information. How long does canned food last? Are there wild boar in the Northwest? How long does it take to walk from Oakland to Marin County?

Tell us a little about your ideal writing space.

I usually write at a cafe about ten minutes from my place in Los Angeles. They have delicious curry chicken sandwiches, a "quiet study" where people aren't allowed to talk, an outdoor patio and electrical outlets next to every table. It's a writer's heaven.

Who are your favorite authors? What are you reading right now?

There are probably too many to name here. I read a lot of adult fiction, and have always loved Toni Morrison, Dave Eggers, Aimee Bender, Amanda Davis, Lorrie Moore, Michael Cunningham and Jonathan Safran Foer. In terms of young adult fiction, I love Gayle Forman and Suzanne Collins (though I'm waiting to read Catching Fire and Mockingjay until I finish the final Eve book). I'm currently reading Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.

What kind of books did you like to read as a teenager?

I mostly read what was required for class (if I had some of the YA books that are out now, I'm sure things would've been different). I loved Song of Solomon, Frankenstein and Jane Eyre. My favorite book was Lord of the Flies though. I still scream "I've got the conch!" if people aren't listening to me.

Best advice for those tackling NaNoWriMo this year?

When you're trying to write a first draft in a month, I don't think you should be too hard on yourself. Don't obsess over every line. It's just a first draft. And sometimes first drafts are really the preliminary musings on a book you've yet to write. When I was in grad school I spent a lot of time working on a book about a girl who was living in a walled in compound. Her sister escapes, and slowly she learns that she's part of a government experiment. The book was all kinds of messed up, but it was invaluable when I wrote Eve. I kept thinking: I was never supposed to write that book. It was just the training I needed to write this one.

And everyone who visits Stories & Sweeties answers this one: Do you like cupcakes? :) Frosting or Cake better?

I'm a huge fan of lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, red velvet and the classic vanilla/vanilla combo. It depends on the cupcake, but I usually like the cake part better. Sidenote: are there people who don't like cupcakes?!?! Bring them to me, I will talk some sense into them.

Thanks for the interview, Anna!

Find out more about Anna Carey & Eve:


* * * * * *

And now...who wants to win a lovely signed copy of Eve!?

To enter, just comment below and answer this question: Do you have anything in common with Anna Carey?

  • Include your email so I can contact the winner!
  • Open to US only, must be 13 years or older.
  • Entries welcome until November 25th, 2011

Good luck, everyone!


Monday, November 7, 2011

Guest Review! Hidden by Jessica Verday

The Hidden by Jessica Verday

publisher: Simon Pulse

release date: September 6th, 2011


hardcover, 389 pages

intended audience: Young adult

series:
The Hollow (book 3)

rating:


(books 1 & 2 in this series were both 5's)

reviewer:
Amy

Spoiler Alert!! Description and review may contain spoilers for books 1 & 2, so if you haven't read those STOP HERE!)
description:
A love that knows no bounds.

Abbey knows that Caspian is her destiny. Theirs is a bond that transcends even death. But as Abbey finally learns the full truth about the dark fate that links her to Caspian and ties them both to the town of Sleepy Hollow, she suddenly has some very hard choices to make. Caspian may be the love of her life, but is that love worth dying for?

Beautifully spun, emotionally gripping, and irresistibly romantic, The Hidden will leave you breathless.


Review: Once again, I found myself flying through the pages of the Hollow Trilogy, a masterful blend of a tale of young love and the classic legend of Sleepy Hollow. The Hidden was a wonderful echo of the first two books, The Hollow and The Haunted. We get more of the haunting story of Caspian and Abbey's undying love, those that want to tear it apart, and the rich characters from Sleepy Hollow. It winds a tale that leaves you questioning 'What would you do? How far would you go for your best friend? Your eternal love? Your family? Your dream? And what happens if each question has a different consequence?

The Hidden continues right where The Haunted left off (so if you haven't read it in a while, freshen up---there is no recap) and unfold the story of Abbey and the Revenants. It leaves her with an impossible choice. Does she stay here with her family, her future, her dream of running Abbey's Hollow or does she choose her love for Caspian and leave this world forever? Jessica Verday leaves you turning pages faster and faster, not leaving a small crumb of what Abbey's decision might be.

The only thing I missed from this book is the way Abbey made perfumes. I loved the way she broke down the scents and followed that passion of her dream. I would like to see Jessica save that part of Abbey and keep the essence of who Abbey really is. There is enough room for both of her loves to remain.

Other than that, this book did not disappoint fans as the conclusion of the series.

In true Halloween fashion (because this was my Halloween read), I will say that I love The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and all the tales that lie within. Thank you, Jessica Verday, for making this series come alive, for breathing life into a classic tale, and for making cemeteries a magical place of peace and maybe even love.

Visit Jessica Verday's site here. (It's a gorgeous and fun interactive site!)

Purchase The Hidden at: AmazonBN.comBookDespositoryIndiebound

Trailer: (this one was actually released for the Hollow Trilogy as a whole)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

In My Mailbox {91}

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we all share what we got during the week!



For Review:
Hallowed by Cynthia Hand
Beyond excited to get this! :D Thanks, HarperTeen!

Won:
Between by Jessica Warman
Thanks, Lauren from Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf!

Bought:
Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber
Coudn't resist this one. The cover, the description of Dorian Gray meets Pride and Prejudice, and I love the series name "Magic Most Foul". :)

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
I've seen so much love for this book---finally snagged myself a copy!

The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood
I couldn't pass this one up after seeing Juju's rave review. Sounds like a fun read!

New on my Nook:

For review:
Whirl by Emma Raveling
Very excited to get this! I've seen some excellent reviews of this one lately. Plus I just love the words "whirl" and "ondine". :D Thanks, Emma!

So that's it' for my mailbox. What's in yours?? :)