Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wildefire by Karsten Knight

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing (July 26, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1442421177
ISBN-13: 978-1442421172

Every flame begins with a spark.

Ashline Wilde is having a rough sophomore year. She’s struggling to find her place as the only Polynesian girl in school, her boyfriend just cheated on her, and now her runaway sister, Eve, has decided to barge back into her life. When Eve’s violent behavior escalates and she does the unthinkable, Ash transfers to a remote private school nestled in California’s redwoods, hoping to put the tragedy behind her. But her fresh start at Blackwood Academy doesn’t go as planned. Just as Ash is beginning to enjoy the perks of her new school—being captain of the tennis team, a steamy romance with a hot, local park ranger—Ash discovers that a group of gods and goddesses have mysteriously enrolled at Blackwood…and she’s one of them. To make matters worse, Eve has resurfaced to haunt Ash, and she’s got some strange abilities of her own. With a war between the gods looming over campus, Ash must master the new fire smoldering within before she clashes with her sister one more time… And when warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm.


Review:

Being adopted during infancy and growing up in a white-washed suburb, Ashline Wilde's Polynesian looks were something of a dark beam in a sea of white light. The only other person who could have understand equally what she was going through decided to up and leave the burbs for a world-view trip around the globe, leaving her little sister behind confused and alone. When Evelyn "Eve" Wilde makes her reappearance, she know nothing better than to terrorize her younger sibling when Ash refuses to do her bidding. After a horrible incident, Ash finds herself across the country in a prep school known as Blackwood Academy that she's beginning to view as the silver lining in a world of chaos, and as a new beginning. It wasn't long until Ash got some answers--and with them more questions--about her elder sister's extraordinary display of power back in Scarsdale, and the group of gods and goddesses that seem to know about their own powers than Ash knows about her own. If she even has any...

The first thing that I was pleasantly surprised to read when I started Wildefire was the brutal way that the author threw you into the story, no mercy, no sugarcoating. From the onset the reader is captivated by the roughness of the main character and introduced into the the confined space she views herself living in. This soon builds up into a well-crafted situation where reason soon flies out the window and total action takes over. This was one of those books where "actions speak louder than words." And I absolutely love those. This doesn't mean that there was minimal dialogue or no explanations of thought processes, not at all. I just mean that the actions done by the primitive characters say more about them than any simple summary of their personality would.

Ashline was my ideal character and perspective I would have chosen to read the book through. She sees more about the people around her, perceives in a way that is easily relatable, and casts them in their own light of judgement. I believe this had to do more with the authors writing style than anything else. The only way I could explain it would be that once you start reading, you don't realize time going by or what page your on. It just keeps you entranced long enough for you to keep reading until you feel exhaustion creeping up on you. Something that really put me inside the book was the unique occurrences of the story being told in second-person. That was a little like the icing on the cake for me.

Another facet that I couldn't ignore was the smooth way Ash's life was built up in the course of time throughout the book. So many things changed, secrets unveiled, people in disguise uncovered. All of it was contributing to the whole of the book and creating a fantastic debut and installment of what I hope will be an everlasting series.

Grade: B+

Source: Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab

LiLi

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (8)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm waiting on...

Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth—her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself. She was murdered.

Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else’s mind and experiences the world through that person’s eyes. She’s slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed “friend” when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie’s slashed body.

Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting off lately, more distant, especially now that she’s been spending more time with Zane.

Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.
Thanks to Jill for sending me the info about her upcoming debut release by Balzer + Bray 2012.

LiLi

Monday, June 27, 2011

Giveaway: Minder + Adversary by Kate Kaynak

Minder by Kate Kaynak (Review HERE)

Sixteen-year-old Maddie Dunn is special, but she needs to figure out how to use her new abilities before somebody else gets hurt. Ganzfield is a secret training facility full of people like her, but it's not exactly a nurturing place.

Every social interaction carries the threat of mind-control.  A stray thought can burn a building to the ground.  And people's nightmares don't always stay in their own heads. But it's still better than New Jersey. Especially once she meets the man of her dreams...

Adversary by Kate Kaynak

Things are more dangerous than they seem at Ganzfield, and not everyone will survive. Does Maddie have what it takes?

All you have to do to enter is fill out the form below! Giveaway ends on July 20th at midnight EST, open only to US residents.



LiLi

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (7)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm waiting on...

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

It can.

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

There is.

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

She's wrong.



Release Date: September 27th 2011


Matthew's father had lion's feet and his mother had gills, and both fled the modern-day city to live in underground Safe, a secret community of freaks, ghost-whisperers, and disabled outcasts hidden beyond the subways and sewers. Raised underground, Matthew is responsible for the keeping of both Safe's histories and the traumatized shapeshifter Ariel, the girl he took in, fell in love with – and can't stop from constantly running away.

But Safe is no longer safe: the night after a frightening encounter in the sewers, Safe's founder Atticus is murdered by the one person Safe ever exiled: mad Corner, whose coup is backed by an army of mindless, whispering shadows.

Only Matthew, Ariel, and a handful of unstable, crippled compatriots escape to the city that cast them out; the dangerous place he knows only as Above. Despite Ariel's increasingly erratic behaviour and with the odds against them, Matthew must find a way to rescue Safe from Corner's occupying army. But as his quest leads him through abandoned asylums and the dregs of urban poverty, Matthew discovers that the histories he's devoted his life to aren't true: Corner's invasion -- and Ariel's terrors – are rooted in a history of Safe much darker and bloodier than Matthew ever imagined.

And even if he manages to save both home and Ariel, he may well lose himself.

Release Date: Spring of 2012

What are you waiting on?

LiLi

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Winner: Moonglass & We'll Always Have Summer

Factoids: 23 entries, 14 entrants.

Congratulations...

Jenna

Thank you all for entering and stay tuned for my next giveaway of a copy of Minder and Adversay, both by Kate Kaynak.

LiLi

The Morganville Vampires, Volume 1: The Dead Girls' Dance by Rachel Caine

Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: NAL Trade (November 3, 2009)
ISBN-10: 045123054X
ISBN-13: 978-0451230546

The Dead Girls' Dance
Claire may have a great roommate and a new boyfriend, but when she's invited to the Dead Girls' Dance all hell breaks loose-literally. Because this time, the living and the dead are ready to tear up the night...

Review:

Overall, the pacing was significant because it catered to the necessary transactions and confrontations happening throughout the book. It was intriguing to delve further into the lives of Claire's roommates. The thing was that the fact that Claire is the main character took away from the understanding of some of the characters decisions. It seemed too in-depth at times to read so much baggage behind each character--mostly Eve and Shane in this book--and not get a first-hand look at their thoughts, making me possibly consider that this book would have been better told in third person.

What I most disliked in this book was Claire's blatant disregard for the danger she was putting the people around her to save someone she thinks she might love. I mean, seriously? What is very clearly seen most often in the book is that Claire does not have any sense of self-preservation or common sense. It's not even that she's acting selflessly, just plain stupid when it comes to negotiating with the two biggest and baddest vampires in town. I died a little reading that scene.

Towards the ending I could have done without the slow pacing because it seemed to drag on and on and made it boring to read about. I had to skim the last ten pages because reading in detail felt like it was taking forever. After all the hype and suspense created throughout the book, you'd expect some sort of climax ending but all that Claire and her friends were working towards took on an insignificant view because everything they did to try and save someone's life was ultimately unnecessary. It was like they had enough means to save the person from the start but they had to panic and make stupid plans in order to keep themselves calm.

I did not enjoy reading The Dead Girls' Dance because while even the title is misleading, it was poor as a whole and was not pulled off in a way the reading would be able to follow and understand most of the characters' decisions.

Grade: C-

Source: Bought

LiLi

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Winners: Stork and The Knife of Never Letting Go


Factoids: 21 entries, 21 entrants.

Congrats...

Grand prize winner:
Small Review

2nd prize winner:
Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books)

Who have both been contacted and confirmed. Thank you all for entering! And remember you guy's still have time to enter the giveaway for Moonglass and We'll Always Have Summer.

LiLi

Bookshelf Tour

(click to enlarge images)

Books I've Read:


Only a couple of these are signed and personalized to me that I haven't ever read. All the others--signed or otherwise--I have read.

To-be-read Books & Swap Books:



Books on the top are part of the books in the first three shelves on the bookcase. Those are the to-be-read books, while the last two shelves on the bookcase are all my swap books.

Those are all the books I own...well, except for a paperback copy of Strange Angels I forgot because it was on my bed and being my blind self, didn't see. :)

Let me know in the comments if you guys want me to make a giveaway for the extra copies of Minder and Adversary by Kate Kaynak in the picture of the stack of books.

LiLi

The Morganville Vampires, Volume 1: Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: NAL Trade (November 3, 2009)
ISBN-10: 045123054X
ISBN-13: 978-0451230546

Morganville is a small college town in the heart of Texas-not a place that exactly screams "hotbed of creatures of the night". But college freshman Claire Danvers is about to discover why, in Morganville, you should never, ever stay out after dark...

Glass Houses
College freshman Claire Danvers moves off campus and into an old house in the small town of Morganville. Her new roommates have her back when the town's deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood...

Review:

Going to Texas Prairie University was not Claire's first choice of colleges, but before she could make it big she had to attend a college in Texas close to home and wait till she was actually legal enough for her parents to even consider letting her go to schools thousands of miles away. Being the genius and bookworm she is, Claire wasn't fully aware of the threatening presences that dominated Morganville as a town. Though she definitely knew the ruler of the college and that someone was out to get her; bad. For her safety, Claire moved out of the dorms and started living off-campus...where she met her three roommates and where the saying "every action causes a chain reaction" was truly put to the test. Operating under a somewhat defenseless tact, Claire knew that she was going to need some sort of protection from the vampires running Morganville, just not the Protection they were offering. With the help of Eve, Michael and Shane, she was under no circumstances fooled by the impending danger that was descending on the Glass House; but she had the assurance that she wouldn't be fighting off the vampires alone.

I'm still not sure if I like the fact that Claire is attending college at the ripe age of sixteen, but it adds to the frightened-little-girl portrayal in the beginning of the book quite nicely. While I do enjoy strong female heroine preferably, the first couple of chapters quickly captivated my attention, as did the deprecatingly quirky, glib style of writing. The plot was essentially easy to follow and minor events that carried out the action--and some torturous--scenes were fluently done, though a bit scary. (Acid? Really?) It was effectively surprising and definitely original in its comprehension. The vampires in this book are nothing out of the ordinary but they bring a bit more fear to the reader than I expected, which I kind of liked because it was refreshing and creepy at the same time. Claire did have small spurts of self-defense which I was grateful for because I couldn't stand to read a character that was rendered completely helpless throughout a whole book.

As for the interaction between all the roommates and characters in Glass Houses, they did bounce off each other and had made an effortless connection with each other as far as the communication went. Within themselves, some characters were more explored than others, but I believe that was only because some were seen more often as well. There are a lot of characters to think about but it really led to the momentum of the book and kept the ball rolling. I liked the somewhat constant action/fight scenes between the vampires and humans; kept the book entertaining as hell.

If I had not had the second book at the ready, the ending of the first book would really have killed me. Talk about your head-chopping cliffhanger. I would recommend for my readers to buy the Volume 1--which brings Glass Houses and The Dead Girls' Dance--edition if they're considering picking up this series. Trust me, you will kick yourself later if you don't book 1 and 2 to read consecutively. (Heck, I'm kicking myself for not buying the cheap copies of Volume 2 I can seeing everywhere and I haven't even finished book 2 yet.) It's also cheaper to buy the omnibus than each book individually, anyway.

Grade: B

Source: Bought

LiLi

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sis Read-a-thon Report #2

End of Read-a-thon Questionnaire

First of all, give us an end-of-read-a-thon status update. Books read, pages read, you know the drill!

Total Books Read: 2
Total Pages Read: 526
Books Read Since Last Update: 1
Pages Read since last update: 34
Total time read: 13 hours
How I'm currently feeling: Like I want to sleep/keep reading. :)

What is your favorite book you read during the read-a-thon?

Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter

Did you participate in any mini-challenges? Which ones?

Yes, #'s 3-6, 8 and 10

Which mini-challenge was your favorite?

I liked both #'s 4 and 5 best because they were creative in a minimal way. Which is perfect for a mini-challenge, and when low on caffeine. ;p

What has been your favorite thing about the read-a-thon?

Surprisingly, it was knowing that other bloggers were doing the same thing you were. And also that there less than 50 bloggers participating, it made it seem very close-knit.

Are you satisfied with how much reading you got done? Did you do more than you expected? Less?

Less than expected but I am satisfied with the books I read!

What did you think of the updates? Too close together? Didn't like the time limit?

I liked the 2-hour updates, kept me on track. And I also appreciated that it was only from 8 in the morning till 8 in the evening. Since you're--Enna's--time is only two hours earlier than where I live, it was convenient.

If you could change one thing about the read-a-thon, what would it be?

On a personal note, not pulling an all-nighter the night it started would have helped me immensely. As for the guildlines, they were very lax and easy to keep up with.

Would you participate in another read-a-thon hosted by Squeaky Books? Why or why not?

Yes, definitely. Even without the giveaways, the updates and mini-challenges were fun to do. :)

Any last comments on the read-a-thon?

I hope you do one again soon, Enna! Thanks for hosting.

LiLi

Sis Read-a-thon Update #10 + Mini-challenge

Update:

  • Total Books Read: 1
  • Total Pages Read: 491
  • Books Read Since Last Update: 0
  • Pages Read since last update: 14
  • Total time read: 11 hours
  • Currently Reading: Glass Houses by Rachel Caine
  • How I'm currently feeling: Hungry again. :/

Mini-Challenge:

First, from Uncommon Criminals it was amazing to read how many cons can be done to pull off one Long Con. (Read the book peeps and you'll understand.) Second, from Glass Houses...well, lets just say there's this really...hot kiss scene that is neither funny nor inspiring but TOTALLY worth mentioning. ;D

LiLi

Sis Read-a-thon Update #8 + Mini-challenge

Update:
  • Total Books Read: 1
  • Total Pages Read: 477
  • Books Read Since Last Update: 0
  • Pages Read since last update: 27
  • Total time read: 10.5 hours
  • How I'm currently feeling: Good. Exercised and showered and ready to read, read, read!
Mini-Challenge:

Same as Enna, I organize my bookshelf (of the books I've read) by author's last name, then by series if there's than one under same author.

LiLi

Sis Read-a-thon Update #6 + Mini-challenge

Update:

  • Total Books Read: 1
  • Total Pages Read: 450
  • Books Read Since Last Update: 0
  • Pages Read since last update: 72
  • Total time read: 8.5 hours
  • Currently Reading: Glass Houses by Rachel Caine
  • How I'm currently feeling: Satisfied. (Originally, it was "Need food." but then Mom came in with lunch, hence new status.)
Mini-Challenge:

(covers dictate where I am in both of the series) 

I chose Anita Blake (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series) and Gin (Elemental Assassin novels) because they're both strong and kick-ass heroines that I love to read and they would have the best girl-talk ever if they met each other. All about guns and knives, make and model. :)

LiLi

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sis Read-a-thon Report #1

First of all, give us an end-of-day status update. Books read, pages read, you know the drill!

Total Books Read: 1
Total Pages Read: 378
Books Read Since Last Update: 0
Pages Read since last update: 47
Total time read: About 7 and a half hours
What I'm currently reading: Glass Houses by Rachel Caine
How I'm currently feeling: A bit tired...and hungry.

What is the favorite thing you have read today?

Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter

Which mini-challenge was your favorite?

Picture Title Puzzle

What has been your favorite thing about the read-a-thon?

Seeing how many I can read in the allotted time...and of course the giveaways. :)

What has been your LEAST favorite thing about the read-a-thon?

Having my biological clock messed up because I pulled an all-nighter last night. *sigh* Completely my fault but still sucks.

Are you on track to meet your goals?

Not exactly, considering I'm not reading the books I planned on but I might end up reading the same amount of books I planned on. ;)

Will you be participating tomorrow?

Yes siree-bob.

Do you have any new goals?

Finish both of the first two books in The Morganville Vampire series tomorrow.

LiLi

Sis Read-a-thon Update #5 + Mini-challenge

Update:
  • Total Books Read: 0
  • Total Pages Read: 331
  • Books Read Since Last Update: 0
  • Pages Read since last update: 27 (3 Chapters)
  • Total time read: 1 hour and a half
  • What I'm currently reading: Glass Houses by Rachel Caine
  • How I'm currently feeling: Good. Very intrigued by the book. Finally glad I'm on the Morganville Vampire bandwagon.
Mini-challenge:

The Harlequin need Sean Griswold's head.

Would possibly make a bit more sense if one has read The Harlequin by Laurell K. Hamilton, just so you know how deadly they really are.

LiLi

Sis Read-a-thon Update #4 + Mini-challenge

Update:

  • Total Books Read: 1
  • Total Pages Read: 304 
  • Books Read Since Last Update: 0
  • Pages Read since last update: 0
  • How I'm currently feeling: Like I need caffeine to keep me awake after pulling an all-nighter to read Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter. (Damn B&N for releasing the copies earlier than release date!)
Mini-Challenge: 

See if you guys can guess my title... IT WAS A Match Made in High School by Kristin Walker. (You have to know that the middle image was a maiden in order to get it right.) Thanks for the guesses, guys!


Leave your guesses in the comments below and I will reveal the title on the next update!

LiLi

Sis Read-a-thon Update #3 + Mini-challenge

Here's my update and mini challenge answer!

Update:
  • Total Books Read: 1
  • Books Read Since Last Update: 0
  • What I'm currently reading: The Morganville Vampires: Volume 1 (Glasses Houses) by Rachel Caine

Mini Challenge:

The goat felt the shaman staring at him. Why couldn't he just leave her alone? Whenever the goat looked at the shaman she saw the laser pointed at her, while he stared at her as if she were about to pee lime juice. As the shaman crept through the mountains and trees, the goat couldn't decide if she should run or keep evading the shaman till he gave up.

LiLi

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

Hardcover: 402 pages
Publisher: Viking Juvenile (May 10, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0670012947
ISBN-13: 978-0670012947

In the past two years, Mclean Sweet has moved four times. At each stop, she assumes a new persona, but it never quite works. Whether she's an effervescent cheerleader or an intense drama queen, nothing can permanently dispel the turmoil and rage at her mother since her parents' divorce.

Sarah Dessen's novel about a teenager and her restaurant manager father captures the vulnerability that young people often experience after the dissolution of their family. A compelling story; strong characterization; and with a touch of romance.

Review:

Being taught to run away from her problems by both her parents made Mclean an insecure person and not ready to handle the difficulties she had to face with the courts and the custody battle. In contrast, it was nice to get to read about her memories of before the divorce and how the family really interacted; with the subtle signs of unhappiness between parents only obvious to the reader and not the main character herself. Albeit that she was insecure, I liked the fact that Mclean was always there when vital signs of changes in relationships, communication and secret talks were aired out. I do despise when the main character of any book is kept in the dark of the whereabouts going on around her.

Dessen understands and thoroughly explores the nuisances of contemporary issues. As you can tell by the amount of pages alone in What Happened to Goodbye, she deeply delves into the subjects we most always avoid. We have these constant problems in our lives and we avoid them as simple as that. What Dessen focuses on in this book is how—even though we avoid them—we can make them our focal point in life, subtly what we’re always thinking about, and adapt ourselves to having that weight on our backs. What we can’t look in the face is sometimes hard to read about when it’s in front of us, plain as day. Consequently, another theme the author pinpoints is beginnings, and how they lead—with all the stuffing in the middle—to the endings that we just didn’t see coming. Not only do Mclean’s parents face that particular debacle, but the whole book portrays it as well.

On to the characters.

What one must understand about Dessen’s characters is that they are so realistic that you won’t be able to tell the difference between them and your next door neighbors. That’s something I thoroughly enjoyed reading because all the side characters had their own unique back stories and they were all explored to an extent where you could imagine their favorite color. As a whole, they all played their roles in contributing their own personalities to Mclean’s story. They all felt like “real” people. (You shall get the irony of this once you read the book, dear readers.)

Gus Sweet, Mclean’s father, was a former chef and now an employee looking to improve restaurants in the nation for EAT INC. Even though it is partially his fault that Mclean is on-the-go constantly, it was essentially her decision. He is a good father that wonders how the continuous moving is affecting his daughter but not enough for him to stop doing his job of correcting people in what he considers and knows is a tough business. Overall, he is a smart man who has insight to the troubles that the people who he has to help go through.

Mclean, as well, does understand that her view of relationships and their uselessness stems from the breaking apart of her loving family. As in, if the happiest couple and family can’t stay together, why should she believe that any sort of relationship is bound to work? Then, she has to ask herself the most difficult question of all, how long has it been since her parents were truly happy and how has it gone unnoticed by her? In a sense, she creates all these images and identities to distance herself from the reality of making connections with the people around her, even if she views the constant changes in name and persona to be “fun”. To Mclean, it is a waste of time and energy to get to know people and then having to leave them behind as her journey goes on. However, like her father, she is a smart person who understands the inevitable walls that these ways of looking at life are erecting around her heart.
Example: “Accepting all the good and bad about someone. It’s a great thing to aspire to. The hard part is actually doing it.” --pg.236
As the story goes on, she develops into an empathetic character who sympathizes with the new friends she acquired and slowly starts to make amends for all the self-righteousness she didn't know she had.

Opal, Luna Blu’s manager, is the embodiment of all the managers/owners Gus has had to deal with throughout his time with EAT INC. From the very first pages of the book you can feel the tiredness radiating off her as she deals with a restaurant she loves fundamentally but knows is being held up on its last legs. Her development throughout the book was inspiring to see, and that she at first wouldn’t give up the simplest things just showed her determination to keep Luna Blu the restaurant it was meant to be. Incidentally, as Gus points out more and more the changes that need to be made, Opal knows the only way to save her favorite place is to make it more appealing to its customers. Her quirky attitude made her an endearing character when added to all her other characteristics. Out of all the characters in this book—Mclean, included—she seemed the most real. She’s a person that would accept reality when presented to her and take it into her own hands to be handled as she saw fit.
Example: “Where is your sense of adventure? Of change? This could be really, really good for the restaurant. A return to its past glory days!” --pg.296

The rocky relationship that Mclean had with her mother had it's emotional and tender moments that added up to an instant dislike of her constant pushing and then a tearful reunion. Peter, the stepfather, was not as much of an ass as I thought he’d turn out to be. Honestly, he has a very stark way of perceiving the obvious that’s refreshing and in-your-face.
Example: “‘Oh, there’s nothing decent in North Reddemane anymore….Just a few businesses on their last legs and a bunch of teardowns.’ 
I thought of the Poseidon, with its mildew scent and faded bedspreads, and looked at my mom, wondering if she even remembered it….‘It used to be nice,’ I said. ‘Things change,’ Peter said.” --pg.184

While the romance aspect kind of took a back seat to Mclean's family drama, I feel that Dessen did a sweet job of connecting the two odd-ball characters. Dave, the boy-genius/love interest, was certainly eccentric enough to match our main character's type of interest.
Now in her tenth published novel, Sarah Dessen creates another hardship situation that required a lot of self-discovery and had a coming-of-age transition to seal the deal. With a beautifully crafted ending to finish the book, What Happened to Goodbye was a memorable novel of love, loss and all the lessons, mistakes, and surprises people are bound to make. "Everyone is something." --pg.136

Grade: B+

Source: Bought

LiLi

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (May 3, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0062024027
ISBN-13: 978-0062024022

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

*Might Contain Spoilers, Read With Caution*

Review:

There are five factions: Dauntless, Abnegation, Candor, Erudite, and Amity. And the factionless, who live in poverty. As the Choosing Ceremony approaches, sixteen-year old Beatrice Prior must choose which faction will define the rest of her life; but soon, her simulation results change everything. She is told it is dangerous to be Divergent, but she is not told why. When "Tris" finally chooses her faction, the initiation that follows is grueling but she knows that what she's doing is what she was meant for. As she makes friends--and enemies--among the other initiate transfers, Tris grows to love the freedom they represent but she also appreciates the correlation between her old faction and her new one. Challenges and obstacles soon become a daily occurrence and as conflict levels intensify between Abnegation and Erudite, Tris knows there's more scheming being done than the Erudite are exposing in their articles and trash-talk of the Abnegation. Her Divergent status rapidly becomes too hot to handle and she finds help in an unexpected instructor. In this dystopian Chicago, Tris learns to make choices and that when things seem the most hopeless, she is not alone.

I feel like I have to break this book in half because it's the only way I can structure my review. Even though most of you won't understand why I titled the two sections this way, it'll make more sense as I go on.

Before the "Edward incident" (This covers about the first two hundred pages or so.)

Beatrice gave the initial impression of trying to fit into her faction desperately in order not to go against her parents wishes. I understood the constant necessity of her "trying" so insistently. Roth did a great job in explain Beatrice's dilemma and her fight to stay in the world she's always known.

I didn't grasp the author's description of what the Chicago-dystopian world she created looked like. It seems like I kept encountering sentences that were along the lines of "This building..." and "That building...". Sure, there was also a marsh where a lake used to be but I didn't understand her structural outlining of where the many buildings were standing, or how that park connected to that dilapidated fairground. I just couldn't visualize much of the scenery through the main character's eyes. It was only when she focused on specific structures when I got the picture of where she was standing or what she was looking at.

The Choosing Ceremony was very symbolic considering that the "one choice" a sixteen-year old has to make is how they want to spend the rest of their lives. After "Tris" makes her choice, she'd determined not to look back on her decision because she knew the life she now led to live. However, from the start, her choice of faction was predictable and her cowardice attitude tended to get aggravating. I believed the book could only get better as she progressed through her initiation rankings, and her fight to go unnoticed as a Divergent but be in the top ten of the group of all initiates--transfer and in-born alike.

After the "Edward incident" (The last three hundred pages.)

I chose to divide my review into two parts because this "Edward incident" I speak of is like the climax that pivots the ruthlessness of some of the initiates and how things are handled in Tris' new faction.I liked reading how she developed herself into a harder person knowing that there were going to be attempts on her life but not willing to give up and lie down in submission. My favorite scene comes after the "Edward incident", where some of the in-born initiates make Tris feel better with a little zip lining. That might be a spoiler but I felt the most emotion and a bit of adrenaline rush through me when I read that scene.

The conflict that Tris gets caught in between Abnegation and Erudite because she's Divergent was underdeveloped and not though-out as much I'd expected it to be. It was like one night Tris got up and everything was going haywire and then the action continued in a subdued pace till the very last word. Nothing immediately triggered the "war" climax in the ending, it just seemed to automatically happen. There is a thriller aspect to Divergent that is exploited closer to the ending and it tests Tris ultimately when it makes her consider doing things she would have never thought to have done in her old faction, Abnegation.

Last but not least, I have to admit that Tris' relationship with a certain instructor was confusing at times but heart-wrenching when it wanted to be. Confusing because Tris does have intimacy issues and doesn't necessarily know what affection is or what limits to set for herself and others. Heart-wrenching when it wants to be because as the ending came to a pivotal moment when everything was on the line, Roth's writing was deliberately drawing out that moment of selflessness and anticipation, where you're on your toes just wanting everything to work out romantically between the two characters in their worst situation.

I know with a complete certainty that there will be some sort of sequel to Divergent--they really can't just end it there, too cruel--and I am looking forward to it. I hope to see more action taken place and view more of Tris' dystopian world of factions.

Grade: B-

Source: Bought

LiLi

Monday, June 6, 2011

Giveaway: Moonglass & We'll Always Have Summer


When Anna was little, she and her mother used to search for sea glass, but since they looked at night, they called it moonglass.

Now, ten years after her mother's mysterious death, her father is working as head lifeguard on the same beach where her mother grew up and her parents first met and fell in love. Reluctant to get close to anyone (including her father) and not pleased about having to start at a new school, Anna begins to spend more time alone, running the length of the beach and wondering about who her mother really was. After meeting a lifeguard named Tyler, she slowly lets her guard down and together they start exploring the abandoned houses that dot the beach.

But when learning more about her mother's past leads to a painful discovery, Anna must reconcile her desire for solitude with ultimately accepting the love of her family and friends. Moonglass is a dazzling debut from an undeniable talent.

"I couldn't put this book down. Kirby's voice is fresh and wise, all at once. An incredible first novel." -- Sarah Dessen, New York Times bestselling author of Lock and Key.



Jenny Han's bestselling trilogy, which includes The Summer I Turned Pretty and It's Not Summer Without You, concludes with an impossible choice in We'll Always Have Summer.

Belly has only ever been in love with two boys, both with the last name Fisher. And after being with Jeremiah for the last two years, she's almost positive he is her soul mate. Almost. Conrad has not gotten over the mistake he made when he let Belly go even as Jeremiah has always known that Belly is the girl for him. So when Belly and Jeremiah decide to make things forever, Conrad realizes that it's now or never--tell Belly he loves her, or lose her for good. Belly will have to confront her feelings for Jeremiah and Conrad and face a truth she has possibly always known: she will have to break one of their hearts.

Literary or athletic? Shaggy or clean cut? Take the quiz where, like Belly, you to can find out once and for all if it is Conrad or Jeremiah that you should give your heart to forever: http://dearjennyhan.com/always-summer/


One winner will receive:
Beach Bound prize pack, including a tote bag and copies of Moonglass and We’ll Always Have Summer!

US residents only, and it ends June 20th at midnight EST.
All you have to do to enter is fill out this FORM.

Thanks to Big Honcho Media and Simon & Schuster.

LiLi

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Breaking Dawn Trailer...'nugh said.

Seriously? Seriously? *sigh*

It's pretty cool but I'm really regretting the fact that Stephenie Meyer made Bella pregnant. It just does not make for a good public presentation. I mean, not only does she get married to a vampire but then she does another impossible and gets pregnant. *sigh*

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Squeaky Books Spring into Summer Read-a-thon Sign-up



This post is to announce to the world that I'm participating in the Spring into Summer read-a-thon hosted by Enna Isilee of Squeaky Books!

This read-a-thon is going to be so great! It's two days where you try do NOTHING but read. It's a great chance to get rid of some of those books that have been sitting on your TBR pile forever.

But that's not all! There will also be awesome mini-challenges and a TON of giveaways! In fact, just for signing up you are entered to win a $25 gift card to Amazon! SO GO SIGN UP! And if you say that LiLi from ChicaReader sent you, you'll get 5 extra entries to win that gift card! CLICK HERE to enter to win, and know all there is to know about the read-a-thon.

Here's my goal:

I plan to participate on: BOTH DAYS
I plan to read: 3 Books
I hope to read: White Cat by Holly Black, Dark Descendant by Jenna Black, and Delirium by Lauren Oliver.

Well, have you signed up yet? DO IT NOW!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Possess by Gretchen McNeil

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (August 23, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0062060716
ISBN-13: 978-0062060716

Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her mom, by the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, it turns out the voices are demons – and Bridget has the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from. 

Terrified to tell people about her new power, Bridget confides in a local priest who enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession. But just as she is starting to come to terms with her new power, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the demons' plan before someone close to her winds up dead – or worse, the human vessel of a demon king.

Review:

After the murder of her father and the weird manifestation of her new exorcist powers, Bridget Liu was not up to dealing with much else; especially the emotional loops some of the people around her were going through. Her tough demeanor created the "I could care less" atmosphere that gave Possess some of its edge. The rest came from the suspense built up from the escalating infestations of demons in Liu's side of San Francisco. However, keeping secrets from the people that care about her--especially a potential boy-toy--soon proves fruitless and the exposure of her more-than-human abilities seems unpreventable. When new occurrences in the case of her dad's murder start sprouting, Bridget doesn't know who to turn to and begins doubting herself and her "banishments".

With my somewhat new fascination in the old biblical good vs. evil, Satan/Demons against God/Angels, I've grown fond of the executions I've seen done in multiple authors' books. In Possess, I was immediately captured by the concept of a young girl being an exorcist. From the very first few chapters I had my initial opinion on the cast of characters and as the timeline and story progressed, they didn't change at all; the characters and my opinions of them. If anything they just escalated in being what they already were, which was predictable and disappointing simultaneously. Bridget's friends--Hector, Brad, and Peter--all had their own essence but were also two-dimensional, meaning they were nicely portrayed but lacking in the creative department. In a terrifying "I know what's going to happen next" kind of way, I knew who were the bad guys from the very beginning. When the background that McNeil wanted to base Bridget's powers came out to light, I didn't necessarily have to wait till the ending for the big unveiling of the bad guy. I already knew who it was. Sad, but true.

A common reoccurrence in the dialogue was the word "Whatever." There's only so many times that the main character can say the same thing before it becomes meaningless. I understand the need for the bad-chick attitude but there are an ample amount of ways that that can be pulled off in a much more believable tone. There's also a tendency where the multiple times the evidence presented to Bridget as to who the mastermind behind everything is, she's a bit slow to pick up the pieces and solve the puzzle. That's a quality I don't like to see in my heroine's because it makes me think that when pertinent information is showed to them--clearly and precisely--they'll stand there and have a plastic look in their eye, going "What?" As I said before, while the concept was enticing to me on a religion-based scale, I could not overlook the abundantly obvious twists and turns of the plot that made this debut bland and lacking. If there is talk of a sequel, I won't hesitate to add it to my wishlist but I won't be at the storefront on release day.

Grade: C+

ARC Source: Publisher.

LiLi