Home       About Me       Review Archive

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Guest Post: When I'm Not Reading at The Unread Reader

Just stopping by quickly to let you know that I am featured this week in Missie's (The Unread Reader) When I'm Not Reading feature in which I attempt to make my life sound interesting and fail. I actually wrote this weeks ago when it was super cold outside. It is now about 40 degrees Celsius warmer (thank goodness!). Also, I've since finished work on the cervical of the hadrosaur and have moved on to the dentary (lower jaw). My dog is still a you-know-what though.

Hope everyone's doing well! Must get back to thesis writing now... Ugh.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Five Week Hiatus

I really regret having to announce this but I can't see any other way around it: I need to take a five week hiatus from blogging. Unfortunately, with everything that I have going on in my life currently, blogging has the lowest priority no matter how much I enjoy it. You may have noticed that my posting and commenting has been a little slow the past few months. Not to be too melodramatic or anything, but I'm actually worried for the state of my sanity if I don't take a break from blogging at this time. For real. Well okay, maybe that was a bit overdramatic.

I had to take a similar break in December but whereas that was only for two weeks, this break needs to be much longer as not only do I have finals to contend with this time, but also a term paper, a final project, and my thesis. And a boyfriend that I'm not going to be able to see for the rest of the year so I feel like I need to spend as much time as possible with him now. And at the end of all that I'm going to New York City for a week as a kind of reward for finishing my undergraduate degree.

It is possible that I may be able to pop in to post some reviews... though unlikely. Blog commenting is also going to be light in this time. Please understand that even if I don't necessarily have time to leave meaningful comments on your posts, I am reading them.

As with the last time I had a blog hiatus, I plan on holding another giveaway when I get back as a show of appreciation to all my followers who were so patient with me during this very stressful time in my life.

Alright, see you in May! I'm going to miss you guys horribly. And this time I'm being completely serious and not at all being overdramatic in saying that.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: March 22, 2011
Pages: 358
Source: For Review from Simon & Schuster Canada (Thank You!)
Rating: 4.5 Stars

What if you knew exactly when you would die?
Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out. 
When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home. 
But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

In short: Wither by Lauren DeStefano is a powerful debut with a chilling dystopian world and memorable character relationships.
Lauren DeStefano creates a chilling atmosphere right from the start in Wither as we see main character Rhine being kidnapped and sold into a polygamous marriage at the age of sixteen, to be trapped in a mansion for the last four years of her life. Rhine is a clever, strong girl who was stolen away from her twin brother, Rowan, and Wither follows her journey as she attempts to come up with a plan to escape and make her way home.

The world that DeStefano creates in Wither is a terribly tragic one in which life is so short and yet most young orphans are still unable to live life to its fullest during their short time. When Rhine is taken and trapped inside the mansion, she is given seemingly everything she could ever want--except freedom. Her husband, Linden, will give her the world--"on a string." When I started reading Wither I found myself wondering, how is DeStefano going to keep the story interesting and introduce action when almost the entirety of the novel takes place in one mansion? I was quite impressed that DeStefano did in fact manage to keep my interest the entire time when reading, so kudos to her.

Romance lovers may be disappointed because they may feel that the romance between Rhine and her love interest, Gabriel, is lacking but I for one loved it. It had a very slow development, starting off as friends. None of this love at first sight nonsense. In my opinion, this is the foundation for a truly powerful romance and I found it an utterly refreshing part of the story. Another strength was the genuine camaraderie felt between Rhine and her sister wives, Rose, Jenna, and Cecily. I loved how they cared for each other and saw themselves as actual sisters. Rhine never feels like a wife to her husband but she quickly feels a connection as a sister wife.

If there was one thing that I felt truly lacking it was the background information with regards to the virus. I craved a more in depth reasoning as to how the virus came to be in this world. I am, however, very hopeful that we will get answers in the next two books of this trilogy. I can't wait to learn more! 

Other Reviews:

Stalk the Author (not for serious):

*Read as part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge

Sunday, March 20, 2011


It's time to announce the winner of my Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway of the ARC of Wither! There were a total of 261 people who entered and 478 entries. And the winner, according to Random.org, is:

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

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway!

Hop! This is the first giveaway hop I've ever participated in. I'm super excited! I mean, who doesn't love giveaway hops?

This Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop is hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Books Complete Me. This giveaway will be open from March 17th to 20th.

For this giveaway, I will be giving away my ARC of Wither!

1. International
2. Ends March 20, 2011 at midnight EST
3. You must 13 years or older to enter
4. The winner will be announced on the blog and will have 48 hours to send an email with their address or another winner will be chosen.
5. Fill out this FORM

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Review: Choker by Elizabeth Woods

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: January 4, 2011
Pages: 233
Source: For Review from Simon & Schuster Canada (Thank you!)
Rating: 3 Stars - I Liked It

Sixteen-year-old Cara Lange has been a loner ever since she moved away from her best and only friend, Zoe, years ago. She eats lunch with the other girls from the track team, but they're not really her friends. Mostly she spends her time watching Ethan Gray from a distance, wishing he would finally notice her, and avoiding the popular girls who call her "Choker" after a humiliating incident in the cafeteria. Then one day Cara comes home to find Zoe waiting for her. Zoe's on the run from problems at home, and Cara agrees to help her hide. With her best friend back, Cara's life changes overnight. Zoe gives her a new look and new confidence, and next thing she knows, she's getting invited to parties and flirting with Ethan. Best of all, she has her BFF there to confide in.
But just as quickly as Cara's life came together, it starts to unravel. A girl goes missing in her town, and everyone is a suspect—including Ethan. Worse still, Zoe starts behaving strangely, and Cara begins to wonder what exactly her friend does all day when she's at school. You're supposed to trust your best friend no matter what, but what if she turns into a total stranger?

In short: Choker by Elizabeth Woods is a creeptastic read but unfortunately, I was able to guess the surprise reveal much too easily to be truly satisfied.
My original plan when writing this review was to avoid using the word "creepy" when describing this book because pretty much every other review I read for Choker made a point to mention it. But I think it's pretty much unavoidable: this book was utterly creeptastic. Do not be fooled by the pretty-in-pink book cover. Some events that occurred in this book were truly disturbing and I have to congratulate Elizabeth Woods on that success.

Normally I would have enjoyed such a freaky plot a lot more except for one thing: the mystery was way too obvious, in my opinion. This is coming from someone who admits to being pretty daft the majority of the time when it comes to figuring out mysteries. And yet I figured this one out after about fifty pages when Cara's old best friend, Zoe, comes back into her life. The reveal was very cliched; it's been done before. I can think of quite a few books and movies that had the same end reveal.

Despite this disappointment, there are a few things Elizabeth Woods does well: she created a relatable main character and a fast paced read. I'm sure that for the people who are unable to guess the ending right away, the big reveal would actually be quite impressive as the clues placed throughout the book were well done. Ultimately for me though, I was unable to find the book satisfying. When a book's ultimate success depends on a big reveal and it fails to deliver that surprise, it's a big disappointment.

Other Reviews:

Stalk the Author (not for serious):

*Read as part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge
*The Letter C in the A-Z Reading Challenge

Friday, March 4, 2011

Top 10 Questions to be Resolved in TMI Cycle 2

Can you believe that the release of City of Fallen Angels is only a month away? The fourth book in The Mortal Instruments Series is set to be released April 5th, 2011 (Right in the middle of finals craziness. Curses!). There's already been tons of excitement leading up to its release, including the release of the full first chapter, the announcement of Ed Westwick and Molly Quinn reading the audiobook, and the soon to be released book trailer!

I thought it would be a good idea to post what I think are the top ten unanswered questions from The Mortal Instruments Series that I hope to be resolved, if not in City of Fallen Angels, then at least sometime before TMI Cycle 2 is over. Cassandra Clare left a few things unresolved from TMI Cycle 1 and I'm DYING to find out the answers!

WARNING: Under no circumstances should you read the following if you have not read the first three books in The Mortal Instruments Series. Spoilers Ahoy!

1. What was Magnus talking to Tessa (from The Infernal Devices Series) about at the end of City of Glass?

From the epilogue of City of Glass:
"Magnus stood in the shadow of a tree, talking to a girl in a white dress with a cloud of pale brown hair. She turned as Magnus looked toward them, and Clary locked eyes with her for a moment across the distance that separated them. There was something familiar about her, though Clary couldn't have said what it was."

2. Why does Tessa look familiar to Clary?

Has Clary met Tessa before? For what other reason could she find Tessa familiar?

3. What did the Seelie Queen mean when she told Clary that her mother's accounts of her past may not be completely true?

Is there something Jocelyn has still yet to tell Clary from her past or was the Seelie Queen just trying to trick Clary? The Seelie Queen cannot lie but she can mislead.

4. What is the repercussion of Simon's curse, the Mark of Cain?

Clary marks Simon with the Mark of Cain, a powerful protection spell. This supposedly makes Simon invulnerable to anyone who tries to harm him. As Raphael says, "Any harm done to him will rebound upon the doer sevenfold."

5. Who will Simon choose: Isabelle or Maia or neither?

I am not on any particular Team for this. Does anyone have a preference?

6. If Magnus is immortal and Alec isn't, then what kind of effect will this have on their relationship?

I love Alec and Magnus together possibly even more than Clary and Jace. I'm worried how this is going to be resolved although I understand that not everyone's story can have a happy ending.

7. Why did Madam Dorothea predict that Jace would fall in love with the "wrong person"?

Is Clary the "wrong person" or is someone else? Is Madam Dorothea's prophecy just BS?

8. What is the repercussion of Jace being brought back to life?

Cassie posted a CoFA cookie back in May of last year indicating that Jace may be in trouble with the Silent Brothers for upsetting the balance of life and death.

9. Is Sebastian/Jonathan really dead?

Jace supposedly kills Sebastian in City of Glass (he breaks his spine and penetrates his heart with a seraph blade) and yet his body is never recovered.

10. Who is going to be the "Big Bad" in TMI Cycle 2 now that Valentine is dead?

There will be a new villain in the Second Cycle and according to Cassie, it is someone we've already met in either TMI Cycle 1 or The Infernal Devices. I'm absolutely baffled. Does anyone have any ideas?

Thoughts, predictions, theories, anything I missed? 
Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (8): Ghostly Reads

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.

Due to time constraints, I am only going to be taking part in this meme once a month. Each month, I'll post a compilation of books that I'm "waiting on" that fall under a theme.

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

Title: Wake Unto Me
Author: Lisa Cach
Publisher: Speak
Date: March 31, 2011

A haunted castle, a handsome young man dead for four hundred years, one heck of a scary portrait of a witch, and a treasure hunt -- not to mention a princess for a roommate! -- all await 15 year old American girl Caitlyn Monahan when she earns a scholarship to a French boarding school. 
There are secrets behind the stone walls of Chateau de la Fortune, buried for centuries along with the mystery of who killed Raphael, the charming ghost who visits Caitlyn at night. But as Caitlyn unearths the history of the castle, nothing scares her as badly as the secret she learns about herself, and the reason she was chosen to come to the Fortune School.
And nothing breaks her heart as badly as falling in love with a dead guy.

Title: Hereafter
Author: Tara Hudson
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date: June 7, 2011

Can there truly be love after death?

Drifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia knows for sure is that she's dead. With no recollection of her past life—or her actual death—she's trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but will him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive.
Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world . . . forever.

Title: Shift (Shade #2)
Author: Jeri Smith Ready
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Date: May 3, 2011

Aura’s life is anything but easy. Her boyfriend, Logan, died, and his slides between ghost and shade have left her reeling. Aura knows he needs her now more than ever. She loves Logan, but she can’t deny her connection with the totally supportive, totally gorgeous Zachary. And she’s not sure that she wants to.
Logan and Zachary will fight to be the one by her side, but Aura needs them both to uncover the mystery of her past—the mystery of the Shift.
As Aura’s search uncovers new truths, she must decide whom to trust with her secrets…and her heart.

These reads all feature ghosts as either the main character or love interest. The only ghostly read I've ever read was The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold which I enjoyed (but hated the ending). I'm eager to try out another one, this time YA! There's something just so inherently tragic about books in which a main character is dead and can never come back... and yet, I can't help but find the concept incredibly fascinating.

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