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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday: Random House Summer 2012 Catalog

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, I've chosen to feature a few picks from the Random House Summer 2012 Catalog:

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Date: July 10, 2012
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Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.
Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.
In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina's tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they've turned the final page.

Dragons! Wait - how are they able to "[fold] themselves into human shape" and "attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers"?! That sounds hella weird. And it is for that reason that I am curious about Seraphina.

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier
Date: September 11, 2011
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Its name is spoken only in whispers, if the people of Alban dare to speak it at all: Shadowfell. The training ground for rebels seeking to free their land from the grip of the tyrannical king is so shrouded in mystery that most believe it to be a myth.
But for Neryn, Shadowfell's existence is her only hope. She is penniless, orphaned, and utterly alone - and concealing a treacherous magical power that will warrant her immediate enslavement should it be revealed. She finds hope of allies in the Good Folk, fey beings whom she must pretend she cannot see and who taunt her with chatter of prophecies and tests, and in a striking, mysterious stranger, who saves her from certain death but whose motives remain unclear. She knows she should not trust anyone with her plans, but something within her longs to confide in him.
Will Neryn be forced to make the dangerous journey alone? She must reach Shadowfell, not only to avenge her family and salvage her own life, but to rescue Alban itself.

This Juliet Marillier person seems to be a favourite author among many people - so maybe it's time I read one of her books! Shadowfell has a ton of things going for it: magic, prophecies, a mysterious stranger, and a dangerous journey. Time to get excited now!

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
Date: September 11, 2012
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Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.
But all that changes when the Lynburns return.
The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

I'm not sure why I have never read anything by Sarah Rees Brennan despite being a major fan of her Harry Potter fanfiction back in the day and despite the fact that I know her to be an incredibly humourous and talented author. I'm looking forward to finally reading her published work starting with Unspoken, which sounds like an excellent gothic mystery!

How about you? Are you waiting on any of these Random House Summer 2012 reads? Are there any upcoming books from the Random House Summer 2012 Catalog that I didn't include here that you feel I should add to my list?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Review: The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1) by Julie Kagawa

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Published: April 24, 2012
Pages: 504
Source: For Review from Harlequin Teen/NetGalley (Thank you!)
Rating: 4 Stars

In a future world, Vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity.
Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.
Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die… or become one of the monsters.
Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.
Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.
But it isn't easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.

In short: Julie Kagawa brings freshness to a tired genre in The Immortal Rules, by pairing it with an expansive dystopian world and a heroine who is a survivor before all else.
Confession: I haven't read a vampire book since Twilight. With the plethora of vampire related books, movies, and tv shows, I quickly became burnt out on vampires and have been avoiding most vampire-related media ever since. So it was with a bit of trepidation that I decided to read The Immortal Rules. But I'm so glad I did. Including the dystopian genre into this vampire book made The Immortal Rules infinitely more interesting for me to read. And in fact, the vampire element really didn't play as huge a role as I was expecting even though protagonist, Allison, is one herself.

The Immortal Rules is the first of Julie Kagawa's books I have read and she quickly won me over with her expansive world building and involved action scenes. I read a ton of dystopians and as such, many of them have a tendency to blur together and certain recurring plot elements seem unoriginal and boring. But though it is true that some of these recurring dystopian plot elements appear in The Immortal Rules, combining them with the mythology of the vampires and rabids kept The Immortal Rules fresh and interesting. It is no surprise that The Immortal Rules has already been optioned for film as the numerous and involved action scenes could make for a great action-packed blockbuster. In particular, the image of Allison battling rabids with her katana is one that sticks with you and would be good for a poster or something - just like the image of Katniss with her bow.

I liked Allison for the most part, though questioned some of her decisions and motivations at times. Still, I can't help but root for someone who remains a survivor and maintains her morals even after being dealt a pretty crummy hand in life. I'm so used to reading vampire fics where the heroine is human and being wooed by the dangerous vampire, so to turn that around and have the vampire heroine who is struggling to maintain her humanity and not lose control in front of the boy she likes made for a fascinating, unique read for me. I also liked that Allison was Asian, which is something of a rarity in YA. But I am confused as to why the model used on the cover and in the book trailer is not. How hard would it have been to have found and used an actual Asian model?

I will say that I felt it took The Immortal Rules a while to get going. A good chunk of the beginning was bogged down with exposition that I felt could have been more smoothly interwoven into the text. But the plot really does picks up about halfway through and doesn't ever slow down. If there was one thing that I was able to appreciate from the experience of reading The Immortal Rules, it is that I feel like I am finally able to embrace vampire books again. I think I'm ready. Vampire Academy - I am finally coming for you (-any other recommendations?).

Other Reviews:
The Bookish Type
Supernatural Snark
The Unread Reader

Author Links:

Saturday, April 21, 2012

In My Mailbox (17)

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.

For Review

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa (Thanks to Harlequin Teen and NetGalley)
For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund (Thanks to HarperCollins Canada)
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Thanks to Bloomsbury and NetGalley)

I have already read The Immortal Rules and loved it (my review should be going up on Monday!). I have not yet read anything by Diana Peterfreund, but I always hear great things so I am looking forward to her newest novel, For Darkness Shows the Stars, which sounds like a superb sci fi dystopian! Throne of Glass is described as a high fantasy retelling of Cinderella that's like Game of Thrones for teens - so what's not to like there? It sounds superb!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Review: Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: April 24, 2012
Pages: 445
Source: For Review from HarperCollins/Edelweiss (Thank you!)
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Two days before the start of her junior year, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed—as in blinding light, scenes of her life flashing before her, and then nothing. Except the next thing she knows, she's opening her eyes to find Ben Michaels, a loner from her high school whom Janelle has never talked to, leaning over her. And even though it isn't possible, she knows—with every fiber of her being—that Ben has somehow brought her back to life.
But her revival, and Ben's possible role in it, is only the first of the puzzles that Janelle must solve. While snooping in her FBI agent father's files for clues about her accident, she uncovers a clock that seems to be counting down to something—but to what? And when someone close to Janelle is killed, she can no longer deny what's right in front of her: Everything that's happened—the accident, the murder, the countdown clock, Ben's sudden appearance in her life—points to the end of life as she knows it. And as the clock ticks down, she realizes that if she wants to put a stop to the end of the world, she's going to need to uncover Ben's secrets—and keep from falling in love with him in the process.

In short: Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris is an intense mystery thriller with a fascinating sci fi twist and a countdown to the End of the World.
Unraveling took me by surprise. I went into it not really knowing what to expect, maybe just a nice read with a good mystery. But what I got exceeded all my expectations in every single way. Unraveling is a superb and intense mystery thriller with a super cool sci fi twist. I became so involved in the plot and characters while reading that I found it near impossible to put Unraveling down. Despite being relatively lengthy, short chapters and a plot involving a countdown clock to the End of the World ensure a fast paced read.

Unraveling's protagonist, Janelle Tenner, is what really made this book for me. It may partly be a factor of really hating the protagonist in the last book I read and thus in comparison, Janelle seems extra awesome, but I'd like to also think that I loved her for being completely independent, smart and nerdy, and snarky. She never once relied on someone else to get things done - she was a go-getter. When faced with the mystery of how she was brought back to life, why people are turning up dead with their bones liquefied from a nuclear-like blast, and how the End of the World Countdown  can be stopped, she makes it her business to find out. Yikes - if it were me, I'd probably hide in a corner and hope for the best.

I also adored Janelle's love interest, Ben, and all their scenes together. And you know that if I'm mentioning the love and relationship aspect of a book in a review, then I must've really loved it because I am not one to gush over that kind of thing in my reviews. Ben has all of the intrigue and mysteriousness of the "Bad-Boy Type" without any of the dickish-ness, which was awesome. Together, Ben and Janelle make quite the cute couple. There were many a moment - most notably, Janelle's ideal proposal scene - that made me swoon.

My one quibble is one that I have with lots of YA mystery novels - namely, that the characters feel the need to play teen detective and save the world instead of turning to a professional for help. I loved Janelle, really I did, but the girl needs to learn that when the End of the World is looming over your head, it's maybe time to turn to the FBI or a Physicist and not worry about if they'll think you're crazy - ASAP.

Unraveling is author Elizabeth Norris' debut novel and I cannot wait to read more from her in the future. I am especially looking forward to seeing more of Janelle and Ben and maybe a certain other mystery that was mentioned briefly in Unraveling and will hopefully be solved in a sequel! Unraveling will be released April 24, 2012. I highly recommend it.

Other Reviews:
A Blog About Nothing
ComaCalm's Corner
Katie's Book Blog

Author Links:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday: Penguin Summer 2012 Catalog

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, I've chosen to feature a few picks from the Penguin Summer 2012 Catalog:

Soulbound by Heather Brewer
Date: July 5, 2012
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What's worse than being blackmailed to attend a hidden school where you're treated like a second-class citizen? How about nearly getting eaten by a monster when you arrive? Or learning that your soulmate was killed in a centuries-old secret war? And then there's the evil king who's determined to rule the world unless you can stop him...
Meet Kaya, a young woman with the power to heal and the determination to fight. But struggle as she will, she remains tied to three very different men: a hero who has forsaken glory, a tyrannical ruler who wants to use Kaya, and a warrior who's stolen her heart. Kaya learns the hard way that some ties can't be broken...and blood is the strongest bond of all.

I have not read anything by Heather Brewer, but I understand from reviews I've read of her books, and the blurb for Soulbound, that her books have a lighter and humourous tone, which I usually like. Add to that a female protagonist wielding a sword, and Soulbound should be a win.

Cold Fury by T.M. Goeglein
Date: July 24, 2012
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Sara Jane Rispoli is a normal sixteen-year-old coping with school and a budding romance--until her parents and brother are kidnapped and she discovers her family is deeply embedded in the Chicago Outfit (aka the mob).
Now on the run from a masked assassin, rogue cops and her turncoat uncle, Sara Jane is chased and attacked at every turn, fighting back with cold fury as she searches for her family. It's a quest that takes her through concealed doors and forgotten speakeasies--a city hiding in plain sight. Though armed with a .45 and 96K in cash, an old tattered notebook might be her best defense--hidden in its pages the secret to "ultimate power." It's why she's being pursued, why her family was taken, and could be the key to saving all of their lives.

Cold Fury is being billed as The Sopranos meets The Bourne Identity, which indicates that it should be a fast-paced and intelligent thriller, and that is enough to get my attention.

Dangerous Boy by Mandy Hubbard
Date: August 30, 2012
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Harper has never been worried about falling in love, something she is skeptical even exists. But everything changes when Logan moves to town, and to Harper's shock, the two tumble into an intense romance. It's everything she never thought she wanted.
Then she meets Logan's twin brother, Caleb, who was expelled from his last school. True, he's a bad boy, but Harper can't shake the feeling that there's something deeply sinister about him--something dangerous. When Logan starts pulling away, Harper is convinced that Caleb's shadowy past is the wedge being driven between them. But by the time she uncovers the truth, it may be too late.

Dangerous Boy is a retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which is an adaptation that I would be very interested in reading. I am a little nervous from reading the blurb that Dangerous Boy is perhaps too literal an adaptation, making it too predictable though.

How about you? Are you waiting on any of these Penguin Summer 2012 reads? Are there any upcoming books from the Penguin Summer 2012 Catalog that I didn't include here that you feel I should add to my list?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Muggle Monday (20): J.K. Rowling Confirms Harry Potter Encyclopaedia

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.

Somehow in all this news surrounding the reveal of the title and blurb of Jo's strange new book and Pottermore finally opening to the public, no one is talking about what I feel was actually the most exciting HP-related news revealed this week - Jo has confirmed work on her comprehensive encyclopaedia of the Harry Potter Universe:

For a long time I have been promising an encyclopaedia of Harry’s world, and I have started work on this now – some of it forms the new content in Pottermore. It is likely to be a time-consuming job, but when finished I shall donate all royalties to charity.

Ever since Jo had strongly indicated in her announcement of Pottermore that the Potter Encyclopaedia was not going to happen and in its place, she would be using Pottermore as a means of releasing background information about the HP Universe, I was saddened. Partly because Pottermore ended up being a pretty big disappointment, but also because as cool as it is to get this information for free on the internet, I would rather have a thick and shiny hardback of the encyclopaedia on my shelf to be able to refer to easily. I would happily pay for that ability (and especially since all royalties of the encyclopaedia will be going to charity, as is Jo's way). And as excited and intrigued as I am to read her new book, The Casual Vacancy, nothing will ever get me as riled up as new HP-related writing from her does.

What do you think? Are you excited to read the Potter Encyclopaedia? Or are you not an insane Potter Addict like I am and don't feel the need to read or own an HP Encyclopaedia?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Review: Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: April 24, 2012
Pages: 320
Source: For Review from HarperCollins/Edelweiss (Thank you!)
Rating: 2 Stars

Everything is in ruins. 
A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them. 
So what does Araby Worth have to live for? 
Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all. 
But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does. 
And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for—no matter what it costs her.

In short: Though I really wanted to like Masque of the Red Death by Bethanny Griffin, I couldn't get past the seriously TSTL protagonist.
Though I have not read The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe - and so cannot speak to the specifics of how well this book was adapted - I think Bethany Griffin manages to replicate the dark and creepy atmosphere present in all of his stories quite well in her own adaptation. Death and horror are present in abundance in Masque of the Red Death, as is inevitable in a story where a horrific plague has decimated the population. There were also some elements of steampunk, which combined with the dystopian-horror genre, created these sort of strangely and darkly beautiful images of ladies in corsets and porcelain masques and steam carriages and hot air balloons.

Unfortunately, and though I really, really wanted to like Masque of the Red Death because it very much seemed like my kind of book, I found much more fault with it than I liked it. The plot was a bit too reminiscent of The Chemical Garden Trilogy (Wither, Fever) by Lauren DeStefano. A dystopian world with a population decimated by illness, a girl with a twin brother and a scientist parent trying to find a cure, ways of avoiding the reality of life for the rich and complete hopelessness for the poor, and an overall dark and dismal atmosphere. I read so many dystopians that admittedly, many of them start to blend together, but I was still looking for more originality in Masque of the Red Death to really make it a great read.

The worst offense of Masque of the Red Death though is protagonist, Araby, who is Too Stupid To Live in the biggest and baddest way. Some of her TSTL moments include - but are not limited to - blindly following and betraying her family for a guy she just met without questioning who he is or what his motivations are, accepting a drink from the seriously evil Prince Prospero without thought and ending up poisoned, and falling for a guy who in one moment is holding her suspended over croc-infested waters, threatening her life, and in the very next second is confessing his love for her. I wanted a heroine to root for, to take control of the situation and to independently think on her own, and though I got a few glimpses of that girl, she was sorely lacking throughout the majority of the novel.

I really dislike writing negative reviews for books where the popular opinion is overwhelmingly positive; it makes me feel like maybe I am missing something, maybe I got this wrong. Still, I stand strong in my dislike of Araby, who pretty much ruined the novel for me. If I had to recommend Masque of the Red Death to anyone, I would say it may be liked by fans of Lauren DeStefano's Chemical Garden Trilogy. And of course, I recommend reading other reviews because even though Masque of the Red Death wasn't the book for me, it clearly was for most reviewers.

Other Reviews:
Katie's Book Blog
The Midnight Garden
Supernatural Snark

Author Links:

Monday, April 9, 2012

Review: Cascade and Torrent (River of Time #2 and #3) by Lisa T. Bergren

Publisher: David C. Cook
Published: May 24, 2011/September 1, 2011
Pages: 399/388
Source: Bought ebooks
Rating: 3 Stars

Gabi knows she’s left her heart in the fourteenth century and she persuades Lia to help her to return, even though they know doing so will risk their very lives. When they arrive, weeks have passed and all of Siena longs to celebrate the heroines who turned the tide in the battle against Florence—while the Florentines will go to great lengths to see them dead. But Marcello patiently awaits, and Gabi must decide if she’s willing to leave her family behind for good in order to give her heart to him forever.
Gabi and Lia Betarrini have learned to control their time travel, and they return from medieval Italy to save their father from his tragic death in modern times.   But love calls across the centuries, and the girls are determined to return forever—even though they know the Black Plague is advancing across Europe, claiming the lives of one-third of the population. In the suspenseful conclusion of the River of Time series, every decision is about life … and death.

In short: Though I needed more depth than the River of Time series by Lisa T. Bergren was able to give me, I do actually recommend this series if you're looking for a fun, fast-paced read.
The River of Time series has received so much hype and positive reviews that I just had to jump on the bandwagon and read it too. And I can see why this series is so popular. The extremely fast pace, the non-stop action, the swoon-worthy boys men, the feisty and brave heroines - the River of Time series is Entertainment with a capital "E". At no point is there ever any scene that is boring and at no point is there ever any lull in the non-stop adventures of the Betarrini Family.

At times, however, I felt the series was actually a bit too fast-paced for me - and this was ultimately the major factor in every little problem I had with the series. Plot points could have been better developed, characters and character relationships could have been further explored, and the time travel aspect could have been better explained, if only the series had slowed up the pace a bit more and included these things. Action scene after action scene is really fun, but I needed some filler to fully flesh out the story. And I really needed to know why Gabi and fam thought it was okay to completely mess with world history.

Something that really bothered me about the series, which I believe stemmed from the extremely fast pacing and not enough time spent developing the characters, is that Gabi and Lia kill A LOT of people and feel no remorse for it. We see them experiencing some grief after their first human kills in Waterfall, and then NOTHING in Cascade and Torrent. I realize that they're in a war situation and killing in defense is inevitable and I'm not asking for an all out Angst Fest here, but I needed for these young girls who grew up in the 21st century to feel something about these countless people they were killing, especially in a series where there are several passages where Gabi reflects on the value of human life. And though this has nothing to do with this series being considered Christian Fiction - because if you are a GOOD person, you will feel remorse for killing someone no matter what your religion - I was kind of under the impression that God wasn't down with killing humans.

Am I taking this series too seriously? Probably. But if that isn't an indication that what is supposed to be a light, fun read isn't the type of read for me, then I don't know what is. I needed more depth than the River of Time series was able to give me. This all being said however, I do actually recommend this series. All my complaints are obviously highly subjective and I think the vast majority of people would actually really enjoy spending an action-filled time with a cast of fun characters in Lisa T. Bergren's River of Time series.

Previously, my review of Waterfall.

Other Reviews: 
Alison Can Read: Cascade, Torrent
The Bookworm is Here!: Cascade, Torrent
A Girl, Books, and Other Things: Cascade, Torrent
Logan E. Turner: Cascade, Torrent
Musings of a YA Reader: Cascade, Torrent
Poetry to Prose: Cascade, Torrent
Small Review: Cascade, Torrent
Supernatural Snark (complete series)
The Unread Reader (complete series)

Author Links:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday: HarperCollins Summer 2012 Catalog

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, I've chosen to feature a few picks from the HarperCollins Summer 2012 Catalog (it was seriously hard narrowing my picks down to just four; there are so many great books coming out by HarperCollins this summer!):

Insignia by S.J. Kincaid
Date: July 10, 2012
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More than anything, Tom Raines wants to be important, though his shadowy life is anything but that. For years, Tom’s drifted from casino to casino with his unlucky gambler of a dad, gaming for their survival. Keeping a roof over their heads depends on a careful combination of skill, luck, con artistry, and staying invisible.
Then one day, Tom stops being invisible. Someone’s been watching his virtual-reality prowess, and he’s offered the incredible—a place at the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy. There, Tom’s instincts for combat will be put to the test, and if he passes, he’ll become a member of the Intrasolar Forces, helping to lead his country to victory in World War Three. Finally, he’ll be someone important: a superhuman war machine with the tech skills that every virtual-reality warrior dreams of. Life at the Spire holds everything that Tom’s always wanted—friends, the possibility of a girlfriend, and a life where his every action matters—but what will it cost him? 

I picked up a review copy of Insignia from Edelweiss and I'm eager to read it! It reminds me of Holly Black's Curse Worker series with the male narrator and the con artist parent, but with a dystopian twist.

Defiance by C.J. Redwine
Date: August 28, 2012
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Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.
At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.
As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

Defiance sounds like a seriously cool fantasy. And one where the heroine wields a sword, which is cool to the power of 10. I am dying to read this one!

The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna
Date: August 28, 2012
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Eva’s life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination—an echo. Made by the Weavers as a copy of someone else, she is expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her “other”, if she ever died. Eva studies what Amarra does, what she eats, what it’s like to kiss her boyfriend, Ray. So when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready.
But fifteen years of studying never prepared her for this.
Now she must abandon everything she’s ever known—the guardians who raised her, the boy she’s forbidden to love—to move to India and convince the world that Amarra is still alive.

I'm not sure what to make of the premise for The Lost Girl. It is very strange, yet interesting. Why does Amarra need to be replaced at all when she dies? And I love that it's set in India!

What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang
Date: September 18, 2012
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Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t…
For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable–hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet…for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything. 

I love the concept of What's Left of Me. The two souls living together in one body reminds me of The Host, where Melanie and Wanderer lived together in Melanie's body while trying to find a way for Wanderer to get a new host, just like Addie and Eva are hoping to find a new body for Eva.

How about you? Are you waiting on any of these HarperCollins Summer 2012 reads? Are there any upcoming books from the HarperCollins Summer 2012 Catalog that I didn't include here that you feel I should add to my list?