Friday, November 30, 2012

The Last Dragonslayer: The Chronicles of Kazam (The Last Dragonslayer #1) by Jasper Fforde

Book Summery (Via Goodreads): In the good old days, magic was indispensable—it could both save a kingdom and clear a clogged drain. But now magic is fading: drain cleaner is cheaper than a spell, and magic carpets are used for pizza delivery. Fifteen-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, an employment agency for magicians—but it’s hard to stay in business when magic is drying up. And then the visions start, predicting the death of the world’s last dragon at the hands of an unnamed Dragonslayer. If the visions are true, everything will change for Kazam—and for Jennifer. Because something is coming. Something known as . . . Big Magic.

Book Review:
I had just finished reading Days of Blood and Starlight and needed a lighter read. That's what I found in this little beauty. I was initially piqued with interest when I saw an ad for it on goodreads. I was also captivated by the cover. C'mon, you have to admit this cover is just adorable! It took a little bit to get into the story, but once I got the flow of things I found myself in a world a magic and whimsy. The quirky characters are the best part. Jennifer makes for a fantastic narrator. I also found myself quite taken with the quarkbeast. I was sad to see this story end. Those of you in the UK are lucky because the whole series has been released. Those of us in the US must wait indefinitely to tag along on Jennifer's next adventure.

Favorite Quote:
“Don't let anyone tell you the future is already written. The best any prophet can do is to give you the most likely version of future events. It is up to us to accept the future for what it is, or change it. It is easy to go with the flow; it takes a person of singular courage to go against it.” 

Cover Art Commentary:
This cover initially caught my eye when I first saw an add for it on Goodreads. When I found a physical copy at my local bookstore, I loved it even more. Fun, colorful, and whimsical...a perfect cover for this story!


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Well, I finally did it!

 Yup, that's right! I finally took the plunge and bought an ereader. I've been tossing the idea around for a while after stubbornly abstaining for years. Initially, when they came out my interest was piqued. I knew that I wanted something that I could read for long periods of time without straining my eyes. The concept of a long life battery was appealing as well. I narrowed down my choices to a kindle or nook, something simple. But which one? I couldn't decide, so I put off buying one. Frustrated at my lack of decisiveness, I declared "I've been reading paper books for a long time, why change now?" Then all the colorful tablets came along with their allure of internets, apps, and games. I was tempted by their shininess. This added even more choices to my already difficult decision and once again, I couldn't choose. I just put off making a decision again. Then came along this tome:
 It weighs in at just shy of 600 pages. Holding this sucker brought back memories of all the hefty hardcovers I've read from time to time. Trying to get comfortable, in the right light, while staying on the right page. I finally thought "this would be so much easier if I had an ereader." Then came cyber Monday and Amazon's kindle fire on sale for $30 off the original asking price. I was ready to take the plunge but had yet to decide on which ereader I wanted. I asked my friends and facebook buddies for recommendations. With their input and online reviews in mind, I finally settled on either the kindle paper white or the nook simple touch with glow light (Neither of which came highly recommended. People really seem to like the color tablets.). So it came down to price. Which was the biggest bang for my buck? The final answer was the nook simple touch with glowlight. It had all the features of the kindle paper white for the same price. However, all the accessories were included. Plus, I have the option of bringing it into the store if I have any issues or troubleshooting. So I took the plunge and made the purchase. So far, I am beyond happy. I can't believe I waited this long. I plan to weed out a good portion of my paper books and sell them back (Keep in mind, I have enough books that the fear of being buried alive by them is a real motivator to thin the heard), then purchase what I want to keep on the nook. This will certainly lighten my book load when I move. I still plan on buying paper books that I want to keep/display, particularly those of beloved series. However, the ease of the ereader is making a marked improvement on my day-to-day reading.

What do you think? Are you a fan of the ereader? If so, which one? If not, tell me why! I'd love to know your thoughts!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Top Ten (Eleven) Tuesday: Anticipated Books For 2013

 Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff: The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls.

For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.
Boundless (Unearthly #3) by Cynthia Hand: The past few years have held more surprises than part-angel Clara Gardner could ever have anticipated. Yet from the dizzying highs of first love, to the agonizing low of losing someone close to her, the one thing she can no longer deny is that she was never meant to live a normal life.

Since discovering the special role she plays among the other angel-bloods, Clara has been determined to protect Tucker Avery from the evil that follows her . . . even if it means breaking both their hearts. Leaving town seems like the best option, so she’s headed back to California - and so is Christian Prescott, the irresistible boy from the vision that started her on this journey in the first place.

As Clara makes her way in a world that is frighteningly new, she discovers that the fallen angel who attacked her is watching her every move. And he’s not the only one. . . . With the battle against the Black Wings looming, Clara knows she must finally fulfil her destiny. But it won’t come without sacrifices and betrayal.

In the riveting finale of the Unearthly series, Clara must decide her fate once and for all.
 Chosen at Nightfall (Shadow Falls #5) by C.C. Hunter:
Kylie Galen's life hasn't been the same since her world was turned upside-down in Born at Midnight, Shadow Falls #1, and now an epic conclusion to her journey—not to mention a tough choice between two guys!—is brewing in Chosen at Nightfall:

When Kylie Galen left Shadow Falls, she thought it was the hardest decision of her life. Heartbroken and separated from everyone she loves, she has to embrace her abilities and what it means to be a chameleon. But as Kylie's journey comes to a close, she must return to the camp that started it all...and she must finally chose between the two boys who love her. The werewolf who broke her heart when he chose his pack over her, and the half-fae who ran from their intense attraction before they ever really had a chance. For Kylie, everything will finally be revealed and nothing will ever be the same.
The Rising (Darkness Rising #3) by Kelley Armstrong: Things are getting desperate for Maya and her friends. Hunted by the powerful St. Cloud Cabal and now the Nast Cabal as well, they’re quickly running out of places to hide. And with the whole world thinking they died in a helicopter crash, it’s not like they can just go to the authorities for help.

All they have is the name and number of someone who might be able to give them a few answers. Answers to why they’re so valuable, and why their supernatural powers are getting more and more out of control. Maya is unprepared for the truths that await her, but she’ll have to face them if she ever hopes to move on with her life. Because Maya can’t keep running forever.
The Essence (The Pledge #2) by Kimberly Derting: At the luminous conclusion of The Pledge, Charlaina defeated the tyrant Sabara and took her place as Queen of Ludania. But Charlie knows that Sabara has not disappeared: The evil queen’s Essence is fused to Charlie’s psyche, ready to arise at the first sign of weakness.

Charlie is not weak, but she’s being pushed to the brink. In addition to suppressing the ever-present influence of Sabara, she’s busy being queen—and battling a growing resistance determined to return Ludania to its discriminatory caste system. Charlie wants to be the same girl Max loves, who Brook trusts, but she’s Your Majesty now, and she feels torn in two.

As Charlie journeys to an annual summit to meet with leaders of nearby Queendoms—an event where her ability to understand all languages will be the utmost asset—she is faced with the ultimate betrayal. And the only person she can turn to for help is the evil soul residing within.
Sever (The Chemical Garden #3) by Lauren DeStefano: With the clock ticking until the virus takes its toll, Rhine is desperate for answers. After enduring Vaughn’s worst, Rhine finds an unlikely ally in his brother, an eccentric inventor named Reed. She takes refuge in his dilapidated house, though the people she left behind refuse to stay in the past. While Gabriel haunts Rhine’s memories, Cecily is determined to be at Rhine’s side, even if Linden’s feelings are still caught between them.

Meanwhile, Rowan’s growing involvement in an underground resistance compels Rhine to reach him before he does something that cannot be undone. But what she discovers along the way has alarming implications for her future—and about the past her parents never had the chance to explain.
 Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3) by Beth Revis:
Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn't the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed's former passengers aren't alone on this planet. And if they're going to stay, they'll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been for nothing.

 Awaken (Abandon #3) by Meg Cabot:
Death has her in his clutches. She doesn't want him to let go.
Seventeen-year-old Pierce Oliviera knew by accepting the love of John Hayden, she'd be forced to live forever in the one place she's always dreaded most: the Underworld. The sacrifice seemed worth it, though, because it meant she could be with the boy she loves.
But now her happiness -- and safety -- are threatened, all because the Furies have discovered that John has broken one of their strictest rules: He revived a human soul.
If the balance between life and death isn't fixed, both the Underworld and Pierce's home back on earth will be wiped away. But there's only one way to restore order. Someone has to die.
 Prodigy (Legend #2) by Marie Lu: June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—-June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?
 This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith: Perfect strangers Graham Larkin and Ellie O'Neill meet—albeit virtually—when Graham accidentally sends Ellie an email about his pet pig, Wilbur. In the tradition of romantic movies like "You've Got Mail" and "Sleepless in Seattle," the two 17-year-olds strike up an email relationship, even though they live on opposite sides of the country and don't even know each other's first names.

Through a series of funny and poignant messages, Graham and Ellie make a true connection, sharing intimate details about their lives, hopes and fears. But they don't tell each other everything; Graham doesn't know the major secret hidden in Ellie's family tree, and Ellie is innocently unaware that Graham is actually a world-famous teen actor living in Los Angeles.

When the location for the shoot of Graham's new film falls through, he sees an opportunity to take their relationship from online to in-person, managing to get the production relocated to picturesque Henley, Maine, where Ellie lives. But can a star as famous as Graham have a real relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie's mom want her to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins: Falling in love in the world’s most romantic city is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year at the School of America in Paris, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to deal with the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever. Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.
 Wow, 2013 seems to be the year for rounding out many series that I've been reading throughout the years. What books are you looking forward to in 2013?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wish each and everyone of you a safe and happy Thanksgiving! :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Thanksgiving Style -or- Lola through the ages

This week's topic is: Authors and books to be thankful for

  1. Dr. Seuss: I grew up on his books. My parents never read much themselves, but wanted me to be a reader. They would take me to the library every week and order books through scholastic at school. It all started here, with Dr. Seuss.
  2. The Baby Sitter's Club series: This was a staple growing up. A few of these books were assured a spot in my library bag every week!
  3. The Goosebumps series: Another staple when I got a little older. I actually own the entire series. Recently, my parents dug out this series for me. It's definitely one I'll keep for my kids some day!
  4. The Harry Potter series: Ok, somewhere between middle school and high school my reading streak ended. I'm not really sure what happened. However, this series first came out when I was in high school. When I finally gave it a shot, I was hooked. Reading became part of my daily routine again. For that, I will always be grateful! 
  5. Neil Gaiman: Gaiman was my first introduction into science fiction. I can't imagine a better introduction! His writing is original, witty, and engaging. I'm still a huge fan to this day!
  6. Margaret Atwood: One of my all-time favorite authors! Her bold, feminist writing astounds and inspires me! I need to read more of works!
  7. Alice Hoffman: When I moved away for the first time, Hoffman's books kept me entertained and distracted from being alone in city where I didn't know anyone. I will always be grateful for that!
  8. Chuck Palahniuk: I read a lot of Palahniuk's work as well when I was first on my own. Another great source of entertainment. His bold writing style isn't for everyone, but I certainly enjoyed it!
  9. Stephanie Meyer: Ok, it pains me to add Meyer to this list, but she is essential. I was still new to my new home and my boyfriend of 3 years had just left after a week long visit. He was moving across the country and we basically said our goodbye's at the airport. I was beyond sad. I actually picked up a few of the Twilight books at the airport bookstore on my way home. They were a great distraction and my first introduction to YA literature.
  10. Rachel Caine: Caine was my journey further into YA. I gobbled up her Morganville Vampire series quickly and then moved on to her adult Weather Warden series shortly after. Caine's writing is certainly much better than Meyer's. Her stories have a lot more depth. I haven't finished the Morganville series since it went to hard cover and larger paperback formats. I plan on reading the rest of the series if it becomes available in mass market paperback format like the rest of the series I own.
Wow...that was kind of an emotional journey that led me to where I am today. Anyways, what books and authors are you grateful for?


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2) by Laini Taylor

Book Summery (Via Goodreads): 
Art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

Book Review:
Wow. I am going to be thinking about this book for days. Taylor really steps it up in this sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I'm not even sure where to begin this review. Well, I guess I'll start with Taylor's writing. With Smoke and Bone, I experienced some choppiness as well as a lag in the middle of the story. All you'll find here is a smooth, complex story, rich in detail. I stand amazed. I could easily read this story over several times before I fully grasped it in its entirety. I had to re-read sections out of Smoke and Bone before starting Blood and Starlight. I don't even know how I'll remember everything from this book. I had some difficulty identifying with Karou this time around. In the previous book, she seemed so strong and sure of herself. Her world has been shaken, and understandably, so has some of her personality. I'm glad she finds her voice eventually. In my honest opinion, she is a little harsh on Akiva, but there's definitely room to grow in that relationship. The majority of the story takes place among the Chimera, which I adored. The alternating voices of Karou and Akiva was a nice touch as well. There is SO MUCH that happens that I want to talk about, but I don't want to spoil it for future readers. If you haven't picked up this series yet, I implore you too! Easily one of the most original captivating stories that I have read thus far.

Favorite Quote:
“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a new way of living—one without massacres and torn throats and bonfires of the fallen, without revenants or bastard armies or children ripped from their mothers’ arms to take their turn in the killing and dying.

Once, the lovers lay entwined in the moon’s secret temple and dreamed of a world that was a like a jewel-box without a jewel—a paradise waiting for them to find it and fill it with their happiness.

This was not that world.” 

Cover Art Commentary:
Yes! Yes! Yes! Gorgeous, isn't it?! It fits perfectly with the first book, while having its own flair! Love it!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Deserted Island Style

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
I initially fell in love with the movie. However, it take me long to fall in love with Hoffman's writing. This is one of her best works, hands down.

Forgotten by Cat Patrick
This was one of my favorite reads from 2011. It's unforgettable (see what I just did there?!) story that would keep me entertained on a deserted island.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
This was one of my first Gaiman novels. I still reference it to this day. A classic that must be re-read over the years.

Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst
This book has a little bit of everything in it...supernatural, romance, humor, adventure. A wonderful addition to my island treasure chest!

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Arguably my favorite Atwood novel to date. A must have on a deserted island!

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn
This small novel packs a punch. I just adored this story and will probably read it again in December. 

The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff
I still think about this story. It would give me much to ponder on in my solitude on a deserted island.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Ok, another Gaiman book. I know. This would be perfect for something a little lighter, but still substantial.

Ok, maybe I'm a little obsessed because I am reader Blood and Starlight right now...but these books are so complex. I wouldn't mind re-reading them multiple times. SO GOOD!

So, what books would you "bring" with you to a deserted island?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns #2) by Rae Carson

Book Summery (Via Goodreads): Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone's power. That is not all she finds.

Book Review:
I enjoyed Carson's debut book, The Girl of Fire and Thorns. It really was an impressive debut, however, I found parts of the story to be lacking. I was a bit on the fence if I would pick up the sequel or not. However, reviews were pouring in with stellar ratings and comments. I thought I should at least give the sequel a chance. Boy am I glad I did. Carson took her misgivings with her first book and came back strong with the second. What an amazing accomplishment for a writer. Writers like Carson make me wish I had the drive and passion that they do for writing. You can tell that a lot of hard work and time went into this book. I savored every moment of it. Elisa finds her footing as queen, but her country is slowly falling apart. Elisa finds herself questioning who she should trust. The relationship between Hector and Elisa kept me turning the pages long after I should have been asleep. I enjoyed the journey that Elisa embarks on in her quest for the Godstone's power. Overall, a very strong story with immense promise for book three! I can't wait!!!!

Favorite Quote:
“I won't lie to you. There is always a cost. All I can gurantee is that it will be the right thing."

"It's insane," he says, but without vehemence.

"It's faith," I say.” 

Cover Art Commentary:
I wont lie. I was not a fan of these covers to begin with. However, they are growing on me, particularly this one. The colors are bolder and the image more sharp. The previous cover was a bit more bland and muddled.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Reading Reflections: October 2012

Books Read: 
Because It Is My Blood (Birthright #2) by Gabrielle Zevin
Whispers at Moonrise (Shadow Falls #4) by C.C. Hunter
Body & Soul (The Ghost and the Goth #3) by Stacey Kade
Ten by Gretchen McNeil
Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

Total Number of Books Read This Month: 5

Total Number of Books Read This Year: 50

Most Anticipated: 
Because It Is My Blood (Birthright #2) by Gabrielle Zevin

Biggest Let Down: None!

Favorite Read:
Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

Highest Rank: 5

Lowest Rank: 4

Overall Reflection:
A strong reading month! Though towards the end, my reading pace slowed down due to school and such. However, I did try to read some spooky stories to get in the Halloween mood. Ten by Gretchen McNeil and Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr were perfectly themed Halloween reads. I was delighted by Because It Is My Blood (Birthright #2) by Gabrielle Zevin. Whispers at Moonrise (Shadow Falls #4) by C.C. Hunter was a cornerstone book in the series. Finally, I ended the The Ghost and the Goth series with Body & Soul (The Ghost and the Goth #3) by Stacey Kade. Overall, a fantastic month of reading. I hope November is just as successful!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

Book Summery (Via Goodreads): In a city of daimons, rigid class lines separate the powerful from the power-hungry. And at the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls, where both murder and pleasure are offered up for sale. Once in a generation, the carnival hosts a deadly competition that allows every daimon a chance to join the ruling elite. Without the competition, Aya and Kaleb would both face bleak futures--if for different reasons. For each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live.

All Mallory knows of The City is that her father--and every other witch there--fled it for a life in exile in the human world. Instead of a typical teenage life full of friends and maybe even a little romance, Mallory scans quiet streets for threats, hides herself away, and trains to be lethal. She knows it's only a matter of time until a daimon finds her and her father, so she readies herself for the inevitable. While Mallory possesses little knowledge of The City, every inhabitant of The City knows of her. There are plans for Mallory, and soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls.

Book Trailer:

Book Review:
I had my first glimpse into Marr's writing when I read Graveminder. I remember enjoying the world-building, but was slightly disappointed with some of the character development. Well, I am happy to say that what Graveminder was lacking, Carnival of Souls more than makes up for. There is no underdevelopment of characters here. This book ends at just under 300 pages, but Marr packs in a lot. There are essentially two different worlds that she creates, the human world and the daimon world. They are both rich in detail and description. The characters really drive this story. Despite my early reservations, I ended up falling for Kaleb. My only critique is that this story ended. I am anxious to see what happens and am eagerly awaiting the sequel!

Cover Art Commentary:
I am kind of mixed about this cover. I really like the silver mask, but am not crazy about the flames surrounding it.