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Friday, December 31, 2010

YA Series Challenge

I've decided to take part in the YA Series Challenge hosted by Shannon of Stalking the Bookshelves and Farrah and Britney of I Eat Words. I already plan on catching up with reading lots of series that I haven't read yet (as seen in my Book Series Completion Challenge post) so this challenge seemed like a no brainer for me.

If you would like to read about the guidelines and prizes in this challenge, as well as where to sign up, please click here.

I will be entering at Level 4-Fully Committed 13-16 Books.

Like I mentioned earlier, I've already made an in depth post with book series that I want to read (not necessarily all in the year 2011 though), so I'm going to do my best to narrow my choices down for this challenge.

The Mortal Instruments Series
by Cassandra Clare
1. City of Bones
2. City of Ashes
3. City of Glass
I've already read these pre-2011 so they will not count towards this challenge.

4. City of Fallen Angels

The Caster Chronicles Series
by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
1. Beautiful Creatures
Already read and reviewed in 2010. Will not count.
2. Beautiful Darkness
3. 3rd book coming out 2011

Wicked Lovely Series
by Melissa Marr
1. Wicked Lovely
2. Ink Exchange
3. Fragile Eternity
4. Radiant Shadows
5. Darkest Mercy

The Darkest Powers Trilogy
by Kelley Armstrong
1. The Summoning
2. The Awakening
3. The Reckoning

Hush, Hush Trilogy 
by Becca Fitzpatrick
1. Hush, Hush
2. Crescendo
3. 3rd Book coming out 2011

The Demon's Lexicon Trilogy 
by Sarah Rees Brennan
1. The Demon's Lexicon
2. The Demon's Covenant
3. The Demon's Surrender (coming out 2011)

Edited to add: Two more levels have been added to this challenge, so I may add the following series to my list to read:

The Iron Fey Series 
by Julie Kagawa:
1. The Iron King
2. The Iron Daughter
3. The Iron Queen (coming out 2011)
4. The Iron Knight (coming out 2011)

Chaos Walking Trilogy 
by Patrick Ness:
1. The Knife of Never Letting Go
2. The Ask and the Answer
3. Monsters of Men

Percy Jackson and the Olympians
by Rick Riordan:
1. The Lightning Thief
2. The Sea of Monsters
3. The Titan's Curse
4. The Battle of the Labyrinth
5. The Last Olympian

by Scott Westerfeld:
1. Uglies
2. Pretties
3. Specials
4. Extras

Vampire Academy
by Richelle Mead:
1. Vampire Academy
2. Frostbite
3. Shadow Kiss
4. Blood Promise
5. Spirit Bound
6. Last Sacrifice

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Review: Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles #1) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: December 1, 2009
Pages: 563
Source: Bought
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars - Super Crazy Awesome!
Description (from Goodreads): Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.
Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.
In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

In short: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl is a well written and intriguing novel with wonderful characters and a perfectly laid out setting.
I loved this book so much but I'm having a hard time putting into words exactly what it is that I liked about it. Why is it that it's easier for me to write at length about a book I didn't like as much but when it comes to the ones I truly loved, I find I'm at a loss for words? Does this happen to anyone else? Well, I'm going to do my best to explain, anyway.

It was very long and drawn out, but the plot never dragged or felt boring, only engaging and near the end, very fast paced.

It throws tons of questions at the reader in the beginning, but it never felt confusing or frustrating, only intriguing and fascinating.

It has a male protagonist written by female authors, but Ethan never seemed inauthentic. Instead he was very well fleshed out and genuine.

The writing was very well done. The setting was perfectly described and laid out. The characters, both main and side, were brilliant and distinct.

I just loved it! What more can I say?

Other Reviews:

Stalk The Authors (not for serious):

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Waiting On Wednesday (5)

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking The Spine in which an upcoming, eagerly anticipated release is highlighted on the blog. This week Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky, coming out May 23, 2011 from Houghton Mifflin Books for Children:
DescriptionMaddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer. Whether it’s to go to school or on a date, people don’t venture out of their home. There’s really no need. For the most part, Maddie’s okay with the solitary, digital life—until she meets Justin. Justin likes being with people. He enjoys the physical closeness of face-to-face interactions. People aren’t meant to be alone, he tells her.
Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her—a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking.
In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space.

Continuing on with my tradition of only ever posting about dystopians for my Waiting On Wednesday posts, I thought I would showcase Awaken because I love the premise. In fact, it hits pretty close to home for me and perhaps many other bloggers who spend what some people may argue is way too much time on the internet. I'll be interested to find out if this novel will have an effect on me and make me want to spend more time away from my digital life.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Muggle Monday (5)

It's time for Muggle Monday, in which I post a quote, a video, or a significant piece of news from the Harry Potter franchise. This is somewhat inspired by the Mundane Monday posts by The Mundie Moms.

But let's be real as to why I made up this meme: I just want the opportunity to post something about Harry Potter.

This week, Dumbledore's Speech from Cedric Diggory's funeral. I was really bummed they left this out of the movie. Dumbledore has some excellent quotes here: 

    “Every guest in this Hall,” said Dumbledore, and his eyes lingered upon the Durmstrang students, “will be welcomed back here at any time, should they wish to come. I say to you all, once again – in the light of Lord Voldemort’s return, we are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided. Lord Voldemort’s gift for spreading discord and enmity is very great. We can fight it only by showing an equally strong bond of friendship and trust. Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.
    “It is my belief – and never have I so hoped that I am mistaken – that we are all facing dark and difficult times. Some of you in this Hall have already suffered directly at the hands of Lord Voldemort. Many of your families have been torn asunder. A week ago, a student was taken from our midst.
    “Remember Cedric. Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory.”

-Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Sunday, December 26, 2010

In My Mailbox (5)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren (and inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie) to showcase any books that I have received for review, bought, borrowed, or won to read.

I thought I would start this week with this super cute viral video in case you haven't seen it yet:

Aw. Hopefully he'll grow out of it. I'm sure anyone reading this will agree that getting a book for Christmas is one of the best presents to receive :)

by Lauren Oliver
Received for Review from NetGalley and HarperTeen

This is the first and only book I've ever requested for review from NetGalley. Basically, I signed up for an account, requested to read Delirium on a whim, never expecting I would actually get it, and then the next day I was accepted. Just like that! I was so surprised... I didn't think it would be that easy. I am very much looking forward to this one!

Description (from Goodreads): Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love - the deliria - blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.
But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

by Cassandra Clare

I know, I know. I can't believe I only just bought this book either.

Description (from Goodreads): Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still. 
When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos. 
Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.
Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

by Markus Zusak

I am finally going to be able to read this book! Very much looking forward to it.

Description (from Goodreads): It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . 
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.
This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

by Brian Sibley
Gifted for Christmas!

Yay! I'm super excited to read this, obviously.

Description (from Goodreads): Immerse yourself in the world of the spectacular Harry Potter film series, and learn why Yule Ball ice sculptures never melt, where Galleons, Sickles, and Knuts are really "minted," how to get a Hippogriff to work with actors, the inspiration behind Hogwarts castle, and why Dementors move the way they do. Written and designed in collation with the cast and crew that brought J. K. Rowling's celebrated novels to the silver screen, Harry Potter: Film Wizardry delivers an enchanting interactive experience, transporting readers to the wizarding world by sharing film-making secrets, unpublished photography and artwork, and exclusive stories from the stars. Full of removable facsimile reproductions of props and paper ephemera from the movies, this collectible volume offers a privileged look at the Harry Potter films and the talented group of Muggles that has made true movie magic.

Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange (Books #1 and #2 in the Wicked Lovely Series)
by Melissa Marr
Borrowed from Library

I won a Darkest Mercy ARC (Book #5) over a month ago and it's been basically just sitting on my shelf, gathering dust, waiting for me to read and review it. So I must read the first four books in this series and then this final book so that I can pass this book on to someone else to review before it is released in February!

Description of Wicked Lovely (from Goodreads): All teenagers have problems, but few of them can match those of Aislinn, who has the power to see faeries. Quite understandably, she wishes that she could share her friends' obliviousness and tries hard to avoid these invisible intruders. But one faery in particular refuses to leave her alone. Keenan the Summer King is convinced beyond all reasoning that Aislinn is the queen he has been seeking for nine centuries. What's a 21st-century girl to do when she's stalked by a suitor nobody else can see? A debut fantasy romance for the ages; superlative summer read.

I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the things I need to read so I doubt I'll be taking part in this meme next weekend, and maybe even the weekend after that. Then again, who knows... I might not be able to stop myself next time I pass a bookstore.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

I'm Back! With My First Giveaway!

Oi! Even though I've only been gone for two weeks and I've been doing my best to keep up with other people's posts in my absence, I still feel so out of the loop in the book blogging community! I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone.

Finals went okay... I'm just relieved they're over with. My trip to B.C. to visit my cousin where she works in Whistler was awesome. Vancouver was trendy and wet and gorgeous just as it always is. I got to see the Olympic Cauldron! Very cool. This was my first trip to Whistler. It was a wonderful, little tourist-y town. It snowed pretty much the entire time I was there. I have never seen so much snow in my life! It is simply too cold and too dry to get that amount of precipitation here in Alberta.

But enough about my trip. Let's talk about my first giveaway! (As if you haven't already scrolled through to the important bits already, lol)

For my first giveaway, I want to keep it very simple: just leave a comment and no extra entries are available.

I am giving away 13 To Life by Shannon Delany (Goodreads/My Review) and Wildwing by Emily Whitman (Goodreads/My Review). I liked both of these books but I just can't see myself ever rereading them so I'm giving them away instead. I won both of these books in contests so I thought it would be fitting if I passed both of them on in my own contest.

1. Leave a comment telling me how you spent your Christmas/Holidays.
2. I'm not going to lie, I would really love it if this prize went to someone who followed me. That said, for this giveaway, you do not need to be a follower to enter nor will you receive any extra entries for following.
3. Is it just me, or are a lot of my followers from the UK? Maybe it just seems that way. At any rate, I'm going to make this giveaway INTERNATIONAL because I don't want to exclude anybody.
4. This giveaway will end 2 weeks from today on January 9, 2011 at midnight EST.
5. The winner will be announced on the blog and will have 48 hours to send me an email. So if you choose not to follow, please make sure you have some other way of finding out if you win.

1. As I indicated earlier, these books are not new; I have read them already. I'm pretty anal about keeping my books in very good shape though, I promise.
2. If for whatever reason the person who wins only wants one of the two books, I will pick a second winner to receive the other book.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

MIA For Two Weeks

I'm going to be taking a hiatus from blogging over the next two weeks. First I have finals to study for, then right after that I'm going to visit my cousin in B.C., and then after that it'll be Christmas! So, I simply do not have time to keep posting during this time. However, I do plan on stopping in now and then, not so much on my own blog but other people's, whenever I have a break.

And when I return after Christmas, I'm planning on having my first ever giveaway! Exciting! See you then!

2011 Debut Author Challenge

So, I've decided to take part in the 2011 Debut Author Challenge hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren! I had my doubts initially because I have so many books already on my TBR from before 2011 that I want to get to. But I've decided that I'm just going to do it. Or try to do it anyway. 

I tried to spread out my choices for the entire year but inevitably, I ended up with a cluster of books that will be released at the beginning of 2011. This is probably because these are the ones that are being reviewed already and being hyped about. I'm sure come the second half of the year, they'll be more debut author books that I want to read.

As you can see, most of them are dystopians. Fancy that. Looks like I'm not ready to let go of my dystopian obsession just quite yet. But there are also some angel books and post-apocalyptics thrown in there for good measure. Did any or all of these books make your list?


The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher (January 1)
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand (January 4)
XVI by Julia Carr (January 6)
Across the Universe by Beth Revis (January 11)
Angelfire by Courtney Moulton (February 15)
Wither by Lauren DeStefano (March 22)
Bumped by Megan McCafferty (April 26)
Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky (May 23)
Possession by Elana Johnson (June 7)
(not pictured) Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey (September)
(not pictured) Ashfall by Mike Mullin (October)
(not pictured) The Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts (November)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Review: 13 To Life by Shannon Delany

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: June 22, 2010
Pages: 308
Source: Won from YA Book Reads
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars - I Liked It
Description (from Goodreads): Everything about Jessie Gillmansen's life changed when her mother died. Now even her hometown of Junction is changing. Mysterious dark things are happening. All Jessie wants is to avoid more change. But showing a hot new guy around Junction High, she's about to discover a whole new type of change. Pietr Rusakova is more than good looks and a fascinating accenthe's a guy with a dangerous secret. And his very existence is sure to bring big trouble to Jessie's small town. It seems change is the one thing Jessie can't avoid...

In short: 13 To Life by Shannon Delany was lacking in action throughout much of the novel but still managed to be an entertaining read with fun characters and writing.

So, not a whole lot happens in this book. I was waiting for the action to kick in for the greater part of the novel. A big portion of the book was spent on the teen romance drama between the main character Jessie, her two love interests, new guy Pietr and old crush Derek, and best friend Sarah. The other portion was the mystery behind Pietr and his family. As is common in many of these types of paranormal stories, it is told in such a way that is so obvious to the reader that Pietr is a werewolf (I lost count of all the canine references) that it was frustrating that Jessie couldn't figure it out sooner, especially seeing as how she is supposed to be a crack reporter for her school. I should probably just learn to accept that this is going to be the case in most books of this genre that I read.

When the book starts out, Delany introduces the reader to seemingly every student at Junction High and it's a little hard to keep track of who is who. Or if it is even really important to remember the names of every single one of Jessie's class members. Turns out it's not. But I really did enjoy the characters of Jessie and Pietr and their friends. Jessie was easy to love (despite her daftness on Pietr's true identity). She loves YA vampire novels and is smart and feisty. Her inner dialogue was hilarious. Also, it seemed more real to how a teenager would speak and think than in many other YA novels where the characters seem to speak at a level too mature for their age. Pietr was cool and sensitive, a great male lead.

The writing was so fun and witty. Despite the lack of action, I still found myself being entertained by laugh-out-loud moments. Especially the self-referential excerpts. A taste:

"I was so stupid. As a writer, I know if I'd been a character in a novel a good editor would have scrawled TSTL (Too Stupid To Live) on the manuscript pages."

"Now I just wanted to read a book. A good, quick-to-read vampire book. Something that defied the very definition of proper literature. Something simply fun."

As a debut author, Delany has a lot to improve on. But I'm definitely interested in seeing her growth in the sequel, Secrets and Shadows. I've become invested in the characters and the book left off with quite a few questions and an annoying cliffhanger, so I'm committed to seeing it through.

Other Reviews:
Read Between The Lines
For What It's Worth
Lupines And Lunatics

Stalk The Author (not for serious):