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Monday, February 28, 2011

Review: Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala

Publisher: HarperTeen
Published: June 22, 2010
Pages: 256
Source: iTunes Audiobook Podcast
Read by: Jenna Lamia
Rating: 4 Stars - I Loved It!

Tell me a secret, and I'll tell you one… 
In the five years since her bad-girl sister Xanda’s death, Miranda Mathison has wondered about the secret her sister took to the grave, and what really happened the night she died. Now, just as Miranda is on the cusp of her dreams—a best friend to unlock her sister’s world, a ticket to art school, and a boyfriend to fly her away from it all—Miranda has a secret all her own. 
Then two lines on a pregnancy test confirm her worst fears. Stripped of her former life, Miranda must make a choice with tremendous consequences and finally face her sister’s demons and her own.

In short: Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala is a touching read with characters that are sure to insight a strong reaction.
Before you read this review I implore you to watch this AMAZING book trailer for Tell Me a Secret. It is probably my favourite book trailer ever.

I am not a big contemporary reader. Nor would I say I have ever had an interest in reading a book about teen pregnancy. But I found that despite this I really enjoyed this book. This may be because Tell Me a Secret was about much more than teen pregnancy which we find out when we delve into the complicated life of Miranda Rand Mathison.

The thing that struck me the most about this book were its well developed characters. Characters that were able to insight a very strong reaction out of me. Some characters were utterly engaging, others utterly infuriating. One character in particular actually made me so angry I wanted to strangle her: Delaney, Rand's new best friend, was just such a - ugh! - female dog! Major kudos to Cupala for creating an antagonist that was able to get my blood boiling. An antagonist hasn't created such a strong emotion of hate in me since the last time I reread Order of the Phoenix. (Keenan doesn't count because I believe Melissa Marr intended for him to be a likeable and sympathetic character; I just didn't agree).

And at the same time that I hated Delaney, I loved and sympathized with Rand in equal amounts. Especially near the end of the story, things get so bad for Rand that I just ached for her. She hits such a low point in her life and I wanted so badly for her to make it through all of her problems. She was such a relatable and realistic character. You just can't help but root for her.

A note on the audiobook: Fantastic! Jenna Lamia did a brilliant job with all the voices of the characters. I will for sure be looking into whether she has ever done any other audiobooks because I would love to hear more from her. This audiobook is available as a podcast on iTunes for free but from what I understand, it's for a limited time only. I strongly recommend that you download it while you can!

Other Reviews:

Stalk the Author (not for serious):

*The Letter T in the A-Z Reading Challenge

Monday, February 21, 2011

Review: Darkest Mercy (Wicked Lovely #5) by Melissa Marr

Publisher: HarperTeen
Published: February 22, 2011
Pages: 336
Source: Won ARC from HarperTeen
Rating: 4 Stars - I Loved It!
Description: The Summer King is missing; the Dark Court is bleeding; and a stranger walks the streets of Huntsdale, his presence signifying the deaths of powerful fey.
Aislinn tends to the Summer Court, searching for her absent king and yearning for Seth. Torn between his new queen and his old love, Keenan works from afar to strengthen his court against the coming war. Donia longs for fiery passion even as she coolly readies the Winter Court for battle. And Seth, sworn brother of the Dark King and heir to the High Queen, is about to make a mistake that could cost his life.
Love, despair, and betrayal ignite the Faery Courts, and in the final conflict, some will win . . . and some will lose everything.

In short: The final book in the Wicked Lovely series, Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr, is a satisfying finale and the most action-packed and intense book yet. Keenan becomes more tolerable.
Darkest Mercy was a truly satisfying finale to an involved series. It had tons of interesting plot developments and twists that made reading very quick and easy. It was definitely the most action-packed and fast paced of the series yet which was refreshing because one of my main complaints from the previous books in the series was that there was a lot of talk about the end of the world but very little action to back it up. The main drama of the previous reads was focused on the relationships. In Darkest Mercy, we get both relationship drama and action to create a truly intense read.

In Darkest Mercy, the reader gets to read from the point of view of a record total of eight different characters, including three that we hadn't heard from before in the previous books. This brings the total number of unique character point of views to fourteen! Quite a feat, especially because I never got confused or had difficulty distinguishing between so many different voices. If you're interested, here is the breakdown of the characters featured in each of the books (may be spoilery so highlight to read):

Wicked Lovely: Aislinn, Keenan, Donia
Ink Exchange: Leslie, Niall, Irial
Fragile Eternity: Aislinn, Seth, Donia, Sorcha
Radiant Shadows: Ani, Devlin, Rae
Darkest Mercy: Aislinn, Seth, Keenan, Donia, Niall, Far Dorcha, Gabriel, Chela

I'm still left with quite a few questions about faery mythology after Darkest Mercy. I'm the kind of person who likes tons of details and world building in everything I read so I was a bit disappointed that I still had a lot unanswered at the end. If you're not one of these people who is so obsessively involved in knowing every little detail about the mythology in a book then this probably won't bother you.

The characters in the Wicked Lovely series were ones that I had a hard time relating to. I almost feel like they were too "cool" for me with their multiple piercings, tattoos, motorbikes, and cigarettes. I'm just a simple nerd, a square really. And yet, I found that I really came to care for and love (almost) all of them. I'm probably going to miss Seth and his quirked eyebrow the most. He's a very easy character to love. And I don't think I mentioned this earlier but he lives in a train house! I mean, how cool is that?! I wish I lived in a train house.

And of course, I wouldn't be able to write a review for a book in this series without mentioning Keenan. In previous reviews, I've made sure everyone knew my loathing for him, calling him a plethora of things, including fake, manipulative, selfish, a prick, and a dick. He is able to redeem himself in Darkest Mercy which leads me to sympathize with his character a bit more than in the previous books but I have to say, I still dislike him on a whole. When faced with the decision between his court or his true love, there is only one clear choice that he could've made to make me like him and he took way too long to settle on it.

Previously, My Reviews for Wicked Lovely, Ink Exchange, Fragile Eternity, and Radiant Shadows.

Melissa Marr is going to be making a special appearance in celebration of the release of Darkest Mercy! She will be doing a signing and Q&A at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego which will also be streamed live for everyone! Be sure to tune in on February 23rd at 5PM Pacific Time!

Other Reviews:
A Blog About Nothing
A & C Book Junkies
Eleusinian Mysteries
An Avid Reader's Musings

Stalk the Author (not for serious):

*Read as part of the YA Series Challenge

Saturday, February 19, 2011

In My Mailbox (7)

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.

Midterms. Ugh. Finally over. I'm exhausted. Hope things have been going well in the book blogosphere in my absence. Let's get to the books I've accumulated over the past few weeks. It's possible I've forgotten something though... I don't think my mind's all there quite yet.

by Lauren DeStefano
Received for Review from Simon and Schuster Canada

Thanks Simon and Schuster Canada!
I was so surprised to receive this in the mail. I've actually already won a preorder of this book so you know what that means, right? Yup, another giveaway. Or a trade if anyone's interested. Let me know!

by Julia Karr
Won from Logan E. Turner

Thanks Logan!
I've heard mixed things about this one but because I just can't seem to get enough of dystopians lately, I'm really looking forward to reading it! From what I've read from various reviews, Nina seems like a pretty kick-ass character so I'm looking forward to meeting her!

The Mockingbirds
by Daisy Whitney
Won from Daisy Whitney and I Am A Reader, Not A Writer

Thanks Daisy and Kathy!
I won this from the Best I've Read 2010 Event. I really can't believe it because so many people entered those giveaways. I'm not really sure what to make of the concept of this book yet... though who am I to judge when I've never actually been in a situation like this myself?

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares
by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Won in a promotion contest from Random Buzzers

Thanks Lauren from Random House!
I didn't notice that this contest was apparently only for Americans but when I told them I was Canadian and promised to review this book on my blog they made an exception for me which was super nice of them! I have never read a Cohn and Levithan collab book before but they all sound super cute so I'm excited for this one!

by Holly Cupala
Borrowed from the library

I downloaded the free audiobook podcast of this book from iTunes a while ago but I also wanted to read certain sections directly from the book as well... I'm almost done with this one, enjoying it so far, so I'll post a review on it soon! I definitely recommend downloading it from iTunes while you still can.

Well, I have a ton of catching up and commenting to do from the week that I've been away. Thanks everyone for being so patient with me!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Review: Radiant Shadows (Wicked Lovely #4) by Melissa Marr

Publisher: HarperTeen
Published: April 2, 2010
Pages: 340
Source: Library
Rating: 3 Stars - I Liked It
Description: Hunger for nourishment. Hunger for touch. Hunger to belong. Half-human and half-faery, Ani is driven by her hungers.
Those same appetites also attract powerful enemies and uncertain allies, including Devlin. He was created as an assassin and is brother to the faeries' coolly logical High Queen and to her chaotic twin, the embodiment of War. Devlin wants to keep Ani safe from his sisters, knowing that if he fails, he will be the instrument of Ani's death.
Ani isn't one to be guarded while others fight battles for her, though. She has the courage to protect herself and the ability to alter Devlin's plans—and his life. The two are drawn together, each with reason to fear the other and to fear forone another. But as they grow closer, a larger threat imperils the whole of Faerie. Will saving the faery realm mean losing each other?

In short: Unfortunately, I had a hard time connecting to the characters and relationship in Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr. But at least there was no Keenan!
Radiant Shadows is the second departure from the Aislinn-Seth-Keenan storyline in the Wicked Lovely series (the first one being Ink Exchange) while still being a continuation of the story. If that makes any sense at all. Radiant Shadows features halfing Ani, who we learn about briefly in Ink Exchange, the advisor to the High Queen, Devlin, who we learn about briefly in Fragile Eternity, and a completely new character, Rae, who is a dreamwalker.

I was pretty tolerant of the first departure from the main storyline in Ink Exchange (Wicked Lovely #2), I think because I hadn't become as invested in the main characters at that point, but after reading Fragile Eternity (Wicked Lovely #3), I found that I didn't have very much patience for these new characters. While Marr does a fairly good job at tying in this book to the overarching storyline, I couldn't help but feel like I just wanted to get back to the main story with the main characters. I think it's for this reason that I had a hard time connecting to any of the characters. Also, the relationship between Ani and Devlin was just sort of random and felt inauthentic. There was no real buildup to their relationship.

I hesitate to mention this, but I have one nitpick with the plot that just won't stop bugging me: I really wish Marr had taken the time to understand how the Sleep Cycle and REM Sleep works. Or maybe she does know but she just chose to ignore it. At any rate, there were certain scenes involving Rae, the dreamwalker, that just didn't work for me because they didn't have at least a basis of fact. It might be unfair of me to nitpick to this detail but unfortunately, it did impact my enjoyment of the novel and simple research on Marr's part could have corrected this.

The ending was the saving grace of Radiant Shadows; I really liked the direction and advancement of the plot at the end. It sets it up perfectly for the final in the series, Darkest Mercy! Another thing I really liked was the further look into the mythology of the Dark Court, and along with that, Niall and Irial's relationship. Also a plus: no Keenan!

Previously, My Reviews for Wicked Lovely, Ink Exchange, and Fragile Eternity.

Other Reviews:
A Blog About Nothing
Musings Of A Reader Happy

Stalk the Author (not for serious):

*Read as part of the YA Series Challenge
*The Letter R in the A-Z Reading Challenge

Monday, February 7, 2011

Muggle Monday (8)

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, I wanted to showcase the HI-larious parody, A Very Potter Musical and the sequel, A Very Potter Sequel.

It's fast approaching midterm season and in times of such high stress, I often look for outlets to relax and they are most often in the form of something incredibly silly and mindless. So I thought this would be a perfect time to re-watch A Very Potter Musical! I highly recommend it to all big Potter fans!

Some quotes:

"Hufflepuffs are particularly good finders!"

"What the HELL is a Hufflepuff?"


"Go home terrorist!"

"Did your turban just sneeze?"

"Get me some Nasonex you swine."

"I can't do this. I can't sleep on my tummy."

"I'll take you down to Winnipeg.... That's in Canada!"

"Bitch, I ain't Cho Chang."

"If anyone were hiding under an invisibility cloak in here, surely they'd have the good sense to shut up."

"Harry Potter loves Zac Efron more than anyone else on the planet."

"I don't know man. Cedric Diggory, he's pretty awesome. NOT! He sucks. I'm totally gonna win."

"I just have been putting anyone who looks like a good guy into Gryffindor and anyone who looks like a bad guy into Slytherin and for the other two, they can go where the hell they want to, I don't really care."

"Just relax with the 'Dark King,' okay? I watch you wipe your butt daily, you can call me Voldemort, we've reached that point."

"If we're good, Rumbleroar lets you ride around on his back. He's a lion, who can talk!"

"Now you're just being cute. I can't go to Pigfarts. It's on Mars, you need a rockestship. Do you have a rocketship, Potter? I bet you do. You know, not all of us inherited enough money to buy out NASA when our parents died. Look at this. Rocketship Potter. Starkid Potter. Moonshoes Potter. Traversing the galaxy for intergalactic travels to Pigfarts."

Friday, February 4, 2011


It's time to announce the winner of the giveaway of my Darkest Mercy ARC! There were a total of 167 people who entered and 357 entries. And the winner, according to Random.org, is:

Congrats! I hope you enjoy this book! Please email me with your address within the next 48 hours at ayleejaine(at)gmail(dot)com.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (7): Male Protagonists

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.

I've been thinking about only participating in this meme once a month instead of every week, and including more books when I post. And I'll come up with some sort of theme for the books I'm waiting for.

This month, I'm "waiting on" books with Male Protagonists:

Title: Human .4
Author: Mike A. Lancaster
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Date: March 8, 2011

Humanity, like computers, can be upgraded.  And old versions disappear. . . . At some unspecified point in the future, when technology is as advanced as possible and we are a race of super beings, some old audio tapes are discovered.  On the tapes is the story of fourteen-year-old  Kyle Straker. Hypnotized, Kyle missed the upgrade of humanity to 1.0.  He isn't compatible with our new technology. And through the recording, he narrates what the upgrades really mean.  And it's absolutely terrifying.

Title: Future Imperfect
Author: K. Ryer Breese
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Date: April 26, 2011

When 17-year-old Ade Patience knocks himself unconscious, he can see the future. However, he’s also addicted to the high he gets when he breaks the laws of physics. And while he’s seen things he’s wanted to change, Ade knows The Rule: You can’t change the future, no matter how hard you try.

Title: Witch Eyes
Author: Scott Tracey
Publisher: Flux
Date: September 2011

Braden Michaels wears his sunglasses at night. And at the movies. And in the shower. Raised by his warlock uncle and taught to use magic, he suffers from a deadly curse: the witch eyes. He sees everything that normal eyes filter out: history and memory; love and pain; magic and darkness. The mind was not meant to process so much information, though, and the power is killing him slowly. The only thing saving his sanity are the sunglasses he always wears.

I don't have a preference of male or female protagonists in books but there is something just more special about male protagonists because they are so rare in the books that I read. I find that I look extra forward to reading them because of that. All three of these picks have superb and fascinating premises and I can't wait to get my hands on them!

How about you? Are you waiting on any of these books with male protagonists? Are there any upcoming books with male protagonists that aren't included here that you feel I should know about?