ARC Review: Stray by Elissa Sussman

ARC Review: Stray by Elissa Sussman

17617617Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Retellings
Release Date: October 7th 2014
Publisher: Greenwillow
Check out on GOODREADS

“I am grateful for my father, who keeps me good and sweet. I am grateful for my mother, who keeps her own heart guarded and safe. I am grateful for my adviser, who keeps me protected. I am grateful for the Path, which keeps me pure. Ever after.”

Princess Aislynn has long dreamed about attending her Introduction Ball, about dancing with the handsome suitors her adviser has chosen for her, about meeting her true love and starting her happily ever after.

When the night of the ball finally arrives and Nerine Academy is awash with roses and royalty, Aislynn wants nothing more than to dance the night away, dutifully following the Path that has been laid out for her. She does not intend to stray.

But try as she might, Aislynn has never quite managed to control the magic that burns within her-magic brought on by wicked, terrible desires that threaten the Path she has vowed to take.

After all, it is wrong to want what you do not need. Isn’t it?

review

Every now and then, I surprise myself by reading something I wouldn’t normally pick up (based on the cover, yes. Cover snob, right here!) and find that I’ve discovered a gem. That’s how Stray was for me. The cover’s a bit dull, and while the synopsis is interesting, it wouldn’t be something I’d have on my must read immediately! list. It’s been getting a few mediocre ratings and reviews as well.

Boy, was I pleased to find out that Stray was such an intriguing and elegant read. I wasn’t expecting to finish this as quickly as I did, but I was seriously drawn into the world Elissa Sussman created. I’m a sucker for all sorts of fairy tales with dark mysteries, whimsical worlds, confusing (in a good way) characters with their own stories, and Sussman definitely gave me what I was looking for.

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ARC Review: Lailah by Nikki Kelly

ARC Review: Lailah by Nikki Kelly

LailahSeries: The Styclar Saga #1
Genres
: Paranormal, Angels/Vampires, Young Adult
Release Date: October 7th, 2014
Publisher Feiwel & Friends
Source:  eARC from Netgalley
Check out on GOODREADS

The girl knows she’s different. She doesn’t age. She has no family. She has visions of a past life, but no clear clues as to what she is, or where she comes from. But there is a face in her dreams – a light that breaks through the darkness. She knows his name is Gabriel.

On her way home from work, the girl encounters an injured stranger whose name is Jonah. Soon, she will understand that Jonah belongs to a generation of Vampires that serve even darker forces. Jonah and the few like him, are fighting with help from an unlikely ally – a rogue Angel, named Gabriel.

In the crossfire between good and evil, love and hate, and life and death, the girl learns her name: Lailah. But when the lines between black and white begin to blur, where in the spectrum will she find her place? And with whom?

Gabriel and Jonah both want to protect her. But Lailah will have to fight her own battle to find out who she truly is.

review

This book was incredibly infuriating yet at the same time, it let me down. It could have been incredible yet it wasn’t . All that potential down the drain.

Doesn’t the idea of a girl who has no idea who she is but knows she cannot die intrigue you? Doesn’t it make you want to know more? Let me tell you, you do NOT want to know more about this girl and the drama that is her life.

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[BLOG TOUR] ARC REVIEW: Loop by Karen Akins

[BLOG TOUR] ARC REVIEW: Loop by Karen Akins

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Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Action, Myster
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Number of pages: 336
Source: eARC from Publisher
Check out on GOODREADS

At a school where Quantum Paradox 101 is a required course and history field trips are literal, sixteen year-old time traveler Bree Bennis excels…at screwing up.

After Bree botches a solo midterm to the 21st century by accidentally taking a boy hostage (a teensy snafu), she stands to lose her scholarship. But when Bree sneaks back to talk the kid into keeping his yap shut, she doesn’t go back far enough. The boy, Finn, now three years older and hot as a solar flare, is convinced he’s in love with Bree, or rather, a future version of her that doesn’t think he’s a complete pain in the arse. To make matters worse, she inadvertently transports him back to the 23rd century with her.

Once home, Bree discovers that a recent rash of accidents at her school are anything but accidental. Someone is attacking time travelers. As Bree and her temporal tagalong uncover seemingly unconnected clues—a broken bracelet, a missing data file, the art heist of the millennium—that lead to the person responsible, she alone has the knowledge to piece the puzzle together. Knowledge only one other person has. Her future self.

But when those closest to her become the next victims, Bree realizes the attacker is willing to do anything to stop her. In the past, present, or future.

review

Time-traveling has never been as fun.

I’ve always loved time traveling, ever since I read a romance book that had it as a central theme many, many years ago. The possibilities are just endless, you know? Who wouldn’t be fascinated with going back in time, and then possibly affecting the past that would eventually change the future? I mean, I myself would want to change a lot in my past… I’d kill to go back in time, shake my past self silly, and go, “Why didn’t you study for that exam?! Why did you have to eat so many salty potato chips that your kidney had to be affected?!”

Oops, wait, that wasn’t supposed to be disclosed…

In any case, I’ve always wanted to read a time travel book again, but since that book, I haven’t really found anything that satisfied this craving of mine aside from Cristin Terrill’s All Our Yesterdays, and that was a year ago (which in book blogging years sounds like… a lifetime ago. Seriously) . When I chanced upon Loop by Karen Akins, I could hear wedding bells ringing in my head. I mean, sure, I was a bit hesitant at first (crashed and burned too many times, baby. You become cautious after a while), but the other positive reviews just strengthened my resolve.

I’ve finally finished it this morning, and while I wasn’t completely enamored, I certainly was entertained. Dude, I don’t always laugh while reading books, but this one made me chuckle more than twice!

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ARC Review: Every Breath by Ellie Marney

ARC Review: Every Breath by Ellie Marney

Every BreathSeries: Every #1
Genres
: Mystery, Contemporary, Young Adult
Release Date: October 14th, 2014
Publisher Tundra Books
Source:  eARC from Netgalley
Check out on GOODREADS

When James Mycroft drags Rachel Watts off on a night mission to the Melbourne Zoo, the last thing she expects to find is the mutilated body of Homeless Dave, one of Mycroft’s numerous eccentric friends. But Mycroft’s passion for forensics leads him to realize that something about the scene isn’t right–and he wants Watts to help him investigate the murder.

While Watts battles her attraction to bad-boy Mycroft, he’s busy getting himself expelled and clashing with the police, becoming murder suspect number one. When Watts and Mycroft unknowingly reveal too much to the cold-blooded killer, they find themselves in the lion’s den–literally. A trip to the zoo will never have quite the same meaning to Rachel Watts again…

review

The two books I came across this year that were pitched as some hybrid of Sherlock made my priority lists and while one let me down, Every Breath most certainly did not. Every Breath was FUCKING AMAZING. I guess I’ve kind of come to expect that from Aussie YA though. The Aussies have it right, a couple of exceptions aside, they know how it works. They know us cray teens. They feel us, yo.

Now that I’ve said that, I have no idea where to go. Do I start with the amazing characters, the fantastic plot, or just the general excitedness I felt while reading this amazeballs mystery? Or do I instead talk about how much I love the main characters as a couple and how they are the ship to ship?

So many things to talk about but not nearly enough words to do so. Isn’t that every reviewer’s problem?

I figure I’ll start with the beginning. With Rachel.

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INT GIVEAWAY: Come Back to Me by Sarah Alderson

INT GIVEAWAY: Come Back to Me by Sarah Alderson

As you guys may remember, a couple months ago, I read and reviewed Come Back to Me  by the fabulous Sarah Alderson. This wonderful book came out in paperback recently and was a bestseller! YAY! So we’re celebrating with an excerpt and a giveaway.

Excerpt

I’m barefoot, the grass tickles my feet. I move swiftly across the lawn towards the bushes at the side of the garden. When I get there though there’s no sign of Kit. I glance around. Where is he? Am I losing it? Did I imagine it?

Just then though a hand covers my eyes, and an arm wraps around my waist from behind. ‘Boo,’ Kit whispers into my ear.

Shivers ride down my spine in waves. His left hand lingers on my stomach but he removes his other hand from my eyes. I turn around slowly, shakily, suddenly self-conscious. I’m only wearing pajama shorts and a cotton camisole top, no bra. Maybe I should have thought to put on a sweater. But too late. I see Kit’s gaze fall to my legs and slowly sweep upwards. Goosebumps rise across the surface of my skin as though he’s tracing my body with his fingers, not just his eyes. When he reaches my face I see the smile on his face and the way his eyes are glittering.

My breathing hitches as I stare at him. ‘What are you doing here?’ I whisper.

‘I forgot to give you this,’ he answers, pulling an envelope from his back pocket.

I stare at it. ‘What is it?’

‘Open it,’ he says, pushing it into my hands. ‘It’s your birthday present.’

I take it and open it, the whole time aware that he’s watching me. Inside are two tickets to The Merchant of Venice in Balboa Park for a fortnight’s time. I look up at him wide-eyed. ‘Are you serious?’

He nods, smiling as he sees my grin. ‘I remember when you were in it,’ he says. ‘You want to go and see it? I wasn’t sure . . .’

‘Yes, yes,’ I say quickly. ‘Thank you! I can’t wait. You’re coming with me right?’ I ask, holding up the second ticket.

He shrugs. ‘Sure. I mean, I didn’t want to presume or anything. You know, in case maybe you wanted to take Didi. Or . . .’ he has been staring down at his feet but now he looks up at me and I realize he’s fishing to see if I have a boyfriend.

‘No. I want to go with you,’ I say, the words stumbling over themselves in their haste to get out. Should I have played that cooler? I wonder. But too late. And anyway, he’s now grinning.

‘Cool,’ he says, toeing the ground.

We both take a breath in. My eyes dart towards the house. I guess I should head in before the game ends or my dad hears us. Without saying a word Kit suddenly takes my hand and pulls me deeper into the shadow of the bushes. I make no attempt to protest.

‘You know,’ he murmurs, not letting go of my hand. ‘I’ve been thinking about you. While I was away.’ He looks at me then, straight into my eyes, the smile gone, a look of studied seriousness on his face, and maybe, just possibly, a hint of nerves. ‘I’ve been thinking about you a lot.’

‘Oh,’ I say. Kit’s presence seems to directly affect my literacy levels.

‘Yeah,’ he says, looking down at our hands. His thumb starts almost absently to stroke my pulse point and I draw in a sharp breath. It’s as if he’s stoking a fire, making my blood course through my veins like molten lava. I can feel the heat flooding my face, rushing to other parts of my body too.

‘How long have you been here?’ I ask, trying to keep my voice steady, though I’m losing the ability to concentrate as his thumb keeps stroking.

‘About thirty minutes. I waited until I saw Riley go out.’

‘You’ve been waiting in the bushes for half an hour just to speak to me?’

Kit shrugs. ‘I’ve done sniper training. I can sit for hours in the dark, waiting and watching.’

‘That’s comforting,’ I say. ‘And not creepy in the slightest.’

He laughs quietly and the sound makes me want to lean in closer, to press my body against his.

‘I figured your dad wouldn’t want me coming around and knocking on the door.’

I glance over my shoulder automatically, half expecting to see my dad taking aim from the back porch. ‘You know if he finds you out here he’s going to kill you.’

‘I‘ll take the chance,’ Kit says, shifting ever so slightly and drawing me closer, so only a sliver of space remains between us. I barely come up to his chin so I’m having to tilt my head all the way back. This close I can smell his scent – laundry powder and something else, something citrus, aftershave maybe.

‘I just had to see you again,’ he murmurs, his voice as soft as a caress.

I pull back an inch, my heart galloping. I’m scared. Not of Kit. But of what’s about to happen between us. It feels like I’m about to take a step off a cliff and into a void and I have no idea whether I’ll land safely or end up smashed to pieces on some jagged rocks I can’t yet see. This could be reckless, stupid, dangerous. Or it could be the best thing I ever do. ‘I’m serious,’ I mumble, ‘If my dad finds you out here, he’ll go ballistic.’

Kit smiles. He lifts his hand and strokes back a strand of hair behind my ear. ‘It would be worth it,’ he says, his hand lingering, moving to rest against my cheek.

‘What would?’ I ask, my senses obliterated, all my focus on his hand and on his lips, so close to mine.

‘This,’ he says. And he kisses me.

 

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[BLOG TOUR] A Tour of Jonathan Stroud’s Writing Space

[BLOG TOUR] A Tour of Jonathan Stroud’s Writing Space

thrills & chills banner

Hi, guys! Faye here! Coming back from my hospitalization in order to introduce you to an awesome guest post by one of my favorite authors. I’m very happy to have Jonathan Stroud stop by because his series, Lockwood and Co., was a favorite last year and its sequel, The Whispering Skull, was just as good this year, too, and I want all of us to have a sneak peek into the place where all the magic happens. I take a look at these pictures and all I keep thinking is, “Man, this is where Anthony, Lucy, and George were first conceived?! … in the imagination, that is…” Haha! I hope you all enjoy it and that you check out Stroud’s books if you haven’t yet. You’d be missing a lot if you won’t!

And oh, while you’re at it, make sure to go to the kick-off post here at The Midnight Garden!

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ARC Review: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

ARC Review: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

17399160Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Release Date:  October 14th 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Check out on GOODREADS

A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

review

Every time someone asks me about Throne of Glass, I want to chuck Snow Like Ashes at their faces and yell something along the lines of, “Read this thing instead!” Of course, people won’t listen to me if I don’t justify my suggestion. Here’s why I suggest everyone should pick up Snow Like Ashes:

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ARC Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

ARC Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Lies we tell ourselvesGenres: Historical, Contemporary, Young Adult
Release Date: September 30th, 2014
Publisher Harlequin Teen
Source:  eARC from Edelweiss
Check out on GOODREADS

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept “separate but equal.”

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

review

When I first saw the blurb for this book, I, like many, felt the need to get my hands on a copy as soon as possible. I had incredibly high expectations right from the beginning but as other reviews started coming in, those already high expectations soared. When I finally dived into the book (along with Jasprit), I wasn’t sure I was ready but I knew I’d face the heartbreak that was bound to be in this book. All I can say is that it was worth it. This book was worth all the pain I experienced while reading it. This book was worth every second I spent reading it. This book was worth the fact that I didn’t get any homework done and instead had to do a lot more work the next day. This book was WORTH IT.

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ARC Review: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

ARC Review: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

AfterworldsGenres: Paranormal, Mystery, Young Adult
Release Date: September 26th, 2014
Publisher Simon Pulse
Source:  eARC from Edelweiss
Check out on GOODREADS

Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she’s made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings…

Told in alternating chapters is Darcy’s novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the ‘Afterworld’ to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved – and terrifying – stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.

review

I don’t know where to start with this book but I will say this, Scott Westerfeld is a genius. I love him to bits and pieces and this book reminds me why. When I first heard he had a new book coming out, I was over the moon, to the point where I didn’t pay much attention to the blurb just because I believed I’d love it and love it I did. This may not be his best work, and the novel may seem a little fluffy but there is so much more to it. It has so many hidden depths that come crawling out yet at the same time it makes you laugh. Who doesn’t love a book that can make you laugh yet at the same time makes you think?

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