Spotlight Friday (55)

Hello, my lovely followers!  It’s been a pretty dry week here, hasn’t it?  Turns out Junior year of college is NOTHING like the first two.  Wish someone had told me that ahead of time.  I do have a review that will be coming, likely tomorrow, and another a few days after that.  I hope.  I have to finish that book by Wednesday, so before that, I think.  Anyway, enjoy your holiday weekend and check out these three new books!

Crewel (Crewel World, #1) by Gennifer Albin

Release Date: October 16, 2012

Summary (from Goodreads)Incapable. Awkward. Artless.

That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.

Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.

What’s To Like: I am so interested in this.  I mean, I love the idea of it all.  It’s like the Fates.  Greek mythology reference!  Nah, really, this world just seems totally amazing, from how awesome it is to be a Spinster to the incredible difference in status between a Spinster and a secretary (which sound like the only two things women can be.)  I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on this.

My review of Crewel.

The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski

Release Date: October 16, 2012

Summary (from Goodreads)Darcy Jones doesn’t remember anything before the day she was abandoned as a child outside a Chicago firehouse. She has never really belonged anywhere—but she couldn’t have guessed that she comes from an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire didn’t happen and deadly creatures called Shades terrorize the human population.

Memories begin to haunt Darcy when a new boy arrives at her high school, and he makes her feel both desire and desired in a way she hadn’t thought possible. But Conn’s interest in her is confusing. It doesn’t line up with the way he first looked at her.

As if she were his enemy.

When Conn betrays Darcy, she realizes that she can’t rely on anything—not herself, not the laws of nature, and certainly not him. Darcy decides to infiltrate the Shadow Society and uncover the Shades’ latest terrorist plot. What she finds out will change her world forever . . .

In this smart, compulsively readable novel, master storyteller Marie Rutkoski has crafted an utterly original world, characters you won’t soon forget, and a tale full of intrigue and suspense.

What’s To Like: Apparently, I’m really interested in the concept of time this week.  What intrigues me the most about this is the whole parallel universes thing, and that it deals with the Great Chicago Fire.  I’m also interested in the Conn and why Darcy is his enemy.  I love mystery.

My review of The Shadow Society.

Beautiful Redemption (Caster Chronicles, #4) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Release Date: October 23, 2012

*Series Spoilers Ahead*

Summary (from Goodreads)Is death the end . . . or only the beginning?

Ethan Wate has spent most of his life longing to escape the stiflingly small Southern town of Gatlin. He never thought he would meet the girl of his dreams, Lena Duchannes, who unveiled a secretive, powerful, and cursed side of Gatlin, hidden in plain sight. And he never could have expected that he would be forced to leave behind everyone and everything he cares about. So when Ethan awakes after the chilling events of the Eighteenth Moon, he has only one goal: to find a way to return to Lena and the ones he loves.

Back in Gatlin, Lena is making her own bargains for Ethan’s return, vowing to do whatever it takes — even if that means trusting old enemies or risking the lives of the family and friends Ethan left to protect.

What’s To Like: With the movie of the first book in the works, there’s been a lot of new interest generated in this series.  And from what I hear, this is the final book in the series.  I just love being able to cross another series off my list, especially if it lives up to my expectations.  This series has gotten a little weird at times, but I generally like it.  I’m excited to see where this ends!

Dearly, Beloved (Gone With The Respiration, #2)

First Lines: When I got to the top of the hill, the zombie caught me.  I dropped my parasol and leather-bound digital diary in shock.  He pulled me to his body from behind, imprisoned my tiny hands in his so I couldn’t fight back, and parted his cold lips at the nape of my neck.

A special thanks to the lovely people at Netgalley who hooked me up with an ARC of this!

So, if you’ve read my review of Dearly, Departed, you know I’m a huge fan of this series.  I thought Departed was seriously amazing.  When I had the opportunity to read this early, I jumped at the chance…even though it means I have to wait even longer than you before the next book comes out.

*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead*

In Nora Dearly’s world, coexisting with zombies is nothing new.  Well, it is, but not since the disease known as “The Laz” became so widespread.  Zombies like Bram Griswold and his friends are some of Nora’s closest friends, and she likes it that way.  But not everyone wants to live with zombies so close by.  Tensions are rising between pro- and anti-zombie factions.  It’s dangerous for zombies that are out after dark–and dangerous for the living who support them.  Bram is determined to keep the peace in New London and keep radical groups like The Changed and The Murder from causing too much trouble.  But what happens when Nora ends up in the crosshairs, the one to take down?  How far will Bram and the others go to keep her safe?  How long will Nora let them protect her?

With classes starting this week, I got a little scatter-brained when it came to reading this.  I just didn’t have time, on top of all of my classwork.  But I got through it and really enjoyed it.

I love this series simply for its unique genre blend.  It’s got zombies, Victorian-era values and morals, futuristic elements, love components, and a lot of drama.  But I particularly dig the blend of Victorian-era stuff and futuristic elements.  Because of that, it does have similarities to steampunk without actually being steampunk.

Ugh…did I just say that I dig this?  Yikes.  What era is my slang coming from today?

Anyway, I also really enjoy seeing Nora and Bram.  They are some of my favorite characters in YA lit right now, probably mostly because of their personality similarities to Rose and Dimitri of Vampire Academy.  Nora is impulsive, but smart and caring.  Bram is level-headed and reasonable while being 100% devoted to keeping safe those he loves.  It’s the kind of couple that makes me melt into a puddle under my chair as I read because they are just so friggin’ cute.

That said, there were some things that I have issues with.  Nothing major, but it’s kind of a rehash of what I didn’t so much enjoy about the last book.  By my count, there are 6 different narrators in this story.  Six.  Now, I realize that this book is nearly 500 pages and it manages to pull this off beautifully, but it’s just distracting how the story keeps switching characters every chapter.  And there are just some characters I don’t like, so I don’t want to see the story through their eyes.

Also, while the ending was fabulous and suspenseful, there wasn’t a whole lot of suspense before that.  The “mystery” that Bram and Nora are trying to figure out is solved for us before they even know it’s something they need to worry about.  Does that make sense?  We know what’s going on way before they do.  So what could have been even more suspenseful was just kind of exciting.  It could have been a lot more super.

Overall, though, it’s definitely worth a look.  I very much love this series.

Spotlight Friday (54)

I’M BAAAACK!!  I promise you, I am working on getting some reviews up soon…as soon as college classes stop kicking my butt.  I should definitely have a new book review up this weekend (and it’s an ARC!)  So look forward to that.  Also, I am taking a YA lit class this semester, so be looking for many new reviews from books I read in that class!  In the meantime, here are 3 books to look for in the future!

Through To You by Emily Hainsworth

Release Date: October 2, 2012

Summary (from Goodreads)Camden Pike has been grief-stricken since his girlfriend, Viv, died. Viv was the last good thing in his life: helping him rebuild his identity after a career-ending football injury, picking up the pieces when his home life shattered, and healing his pain long after the meds wore off. And now, he’d give anything for one more glimpse of her. But when Cam makes a visit to the site of Viv’s deadly car accident, he sees some kind of apparition. And it isn’t Viv.

The apparition’s name is Nina, and she’s not a ghost. She’s a girl from a parallel world, and in this world, Viv is still alive. Cam can’t believe his wildest dreams have come true. All he can focus on is getting his girlfriend back, no matter the cost. But things are different in this other world: Viv and Cam have both made very different choices, things between them have changed in unexpected ways, and Viv isn’t the same girl he remembers. Nina is keeping some dangerous secrets, too, and the window between the worlds is shrinking every day. As Cam comes to terms with who this Viv has become and the part Nina played in his parallel story, he’s forced to choose—stay with Viv or let her go—before the window closes between them once and for all.

What’s To Like: Ok, so normally, parallel universes and all that jazz really confuse me.  So I’m really hoping this can go past that.  What I’m most interested in is the choice Cam has to make.  I mean, what would you do in his place?  Would you go to see her even though she’s not the girl you remember and you aren’t the guy she knows?  It’s an interesting conundrum and I want to see it played out.

Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson

Release Date: October 9, 2012

Summary (from Goodreads)Nothing ever happens in Norway. But at least Ellie knows what to expect when she visits her grandmother: a tranquil fishing village and long, slow summer days. And maybe she’ll finally get out from under the shadow of her way-too-perfect big brother, Graham, while she’s there. 

What Ellie doesn’t anticipate is Graham’s infuriating best friend, Tuck, tagging along for the trip. Nor did she imagine boys going missing amid rumors of impossible kidnappings. Least of all does she expect something powerful and ancient to awaken in her and that strange whispers would urge Ellie to claim her place among mythological warriors. Instead of peace and quiet, there’s suddenly a lot for a girl from L.A. to handle on a summer sojourn in Norway! And when Graham vanishes, it’s up to Ellie—and the ever-sarcastic, if undeniably alluring Tuck—to uncover the truth about all the disappearances and thwart the nefarious plan behind them.

Deadly legends, hidden identities, and tentative romance swirl together in one girl’s unexpectedly-epic coming of age.

What’s To Like: What isn’t to like with this?  I don’t think I’ve ever read a book set in Norway, so I’m looking forward to that.  I’m also looking forward to this Tuck.  I get the feeling I’m going to swoon hard over him.  Sarcasm?  My kryptonite.  And Norse mythology?  I have like, no background in that, so I’m pumped to see what that’s all about.  It’s going to be so much fun!

My review of Valkyrie Rising.

Velveteen (Velveteen, #1) by Daniel Marks

Release Date: October 9, 2012

Summary (from Goodreads)Velveteen Monroe is dead. At 16, she was kidnapped and murdered by a madman named Bonesaw. But that’s not the problem.

The problem is she landed in purgatory. And while it’s not a fiery inferno, it’s certainly no heaven. It’s gray, ashen, and crumbling more and more by the day, and everyone has a job to do. Which doesn’t leave Velveteen much time to do anything about what’s really on her mind.

Bonesaw.

Velveteen aches to deliver the bloody punishment her killer deserves. And she’s figured out just how to do it. She’ll haunt him for the rest of his days.

It’ll be brutal… and awesome.

But crossing the divide between the living and the dead has devastating consequences. Velveteen’s obsessive haunting cracks the foundations of purgatory and jeopardizes her very soul. A risk she’s willing to take—except fate has just given her reason to stick around: an unreasonably hot and completely off-limits coworker.

Velveteen can’t help herself when it comes to breaking rules… or getting revenge. And she just might be angry enough to take everyone down with her.

What’s To Like: So, I read like the 1.5 in this series in an anthology over the summer.  Which was great in that it got me interested in the characters, but not so great in that I know who this said coworker is and all about him.  Sigh.  Still, I plan on reading it.  My morbid curiosity won’t allow otherwise.

Arcadia’s Gift

First Lines: It felt like ripping…ripping through me, ripping from me.  A deafening roar reverberated all around as I lay flat on my back, drowning the shrieks and screams echoing on the river valley walls.  My eyes were wide open, unblinking, but all I could see were abstract forms in shades of black, gray and red.

I was offered an ebook copy of this book from the author.  I’m at that point in the semester (re: the beginning of it) where I still have plenty of free time, enough of it that I can still finish books quickly and timely.  And this one was short (like, 175 pages), so I breezed through it.

For Arcadia, or as she’s better known, Cady, life is starting to unravel around her.  Cady wakes up in the hospital, unable to remember how she ended up there in the first place, caused by something doctors refer to as a “psychic episode.”  Her twin sister died in the accident.  Her parents’ marriage is crumbling.  Her sister’s boyfriend can barely bring himself to look at Cady.  Nothing is as she wants it to be.  The only time she feels normal anymore is when she spends time with Bryan Sullivan, the new kid at school.  When he’s around, she doesn’t feel like she’s losing it, nor does she experience wild mood swings.  Soon, Cady begins to suspect her first psychic episode won’t be the last…

I liked this book.  There’s a lot of heartache early on, with the separation of her parents and the death of her twin, but it also gives Cady somewhere to grow.  As the older sister to a set of twins, I can understand some of the things Cady complains about, like people only seeing you as half of a whole.  Twins are judged by the other one’s weaknesses.

Anyway, I thought the heartache early on allowed for us to see a growth in Cady’s character as she struggled with her identity as an individual, the death of her sister, and the other family issues that abounded.  Bryan was incredibly helpful in that respect.  He seemed pretty sweet.  And he was very instrumental in showing Cady that sometimes, overcoming grief just means taking one more step today than you did yesterday.  I liked that message.

On the flip side, some parts seemed a little too contrived.  There’s a “happy coincidence” with the neighbor that I won’t spoil, which seemed too easy.  And there’s a misunderstanding that could have easily been cleared up if Cady had just listened to the person for 10 seconds, but took up a chapter as she dwelled on the issue.

Overall, it’s a fast read.  It covers great topics of loss and how to move on from that.

Sherlock, Season Two

A new sleuth for the 21st Century.

Well, well, well.  If it isn’t Sherlock Holmes, back for a second season.  …Ok, technically it came out in like, January, but I only just watched it.  Ruining my dramatic vibe here.

Phooey on that, I guess.  As you likely already know, I raved about season 1.  It was freaking fantastic and I was in love.  So much so that I watched it twice (maybe 3 times soon as I introduce it to my roommate).  Season 1 was fantastic, but season 2?  Blew that out the roof.

In this season, they cover some of Sherlock’s more well known stories, such as The Hounds of Baskerville and A Scandal in Belgravia, with their own fantastic, modern twist.  I’ve never read the original Sherlock Holmes tales, but I certainly plan to now.  I want to see how difficult it would have been to modernize them.  One of the writers said in the bonus features that he was pulling his hair out (figuratively, I believe) trying to rewrite Baskerville.

As usual, what makes this series so fantastic is the duo pictured above.  Benedict Cumberbatch makes for a perfectly manic Sherlock that is both delightfully socially awkward and still manages to be heartwarming.  He has more…shall we call them “emotional” moments in this season, where he connects more with other people.  I really enjoyed those moments because they make him seem more human.

And John.  My goodness.  Martin Freeman does a wonderful job of showing how John walks that fine line between being Sherlock’s best friend/flatmate and being utterly annoyed with Sherlock.  He brings to life John’s logical approach to events while showing how they affect him emotionally.

What was most exciting about these episodes were the parts that revealed different sides to Sherlock. The introduction of Irene Adler brought out a challenge for Sherlock in the form of a female counterpart who was just as clever as he was.  Each episode, in its own way, highlights Sherlock’s weaknesses.

Season Three cannot come fast enough.  Hopefully this time I can catch it when it’s actually on TV and not through Netflix like I have thus far.

Pandemonium (Delirium, #2)

First Lines: Alex and I are lying together on a blanket in the backyard of 37 Brooks.  The trees look larger and darker than usual.  The leaves are almost black, knitted so tightly together they blot out the sky.

I need to take this moment to pause and remember exactly what happened in this one.  (Hey, give me a break!  It’s been a crazy weekend thus far.)  Ok, I think I’m all set.

For a while now, Lena’s known she was going to take the dangerous route.  Lena has come to find out that love is not the disease she’s been taught it was.  But the heartache that comes with it, and the danger from the government, are very real.  Lena’s been forced to leave behind the one person she didn’t want to in order to make her way in the Wilds.  The Wilds aren’t what Lena expected…nor is love.  Can amor deliria nervosa strike twice?

First off, I was never the biggest fan of Delirium.  I can’t even tell you why I wasn’t head over heels for it.  I don’t know.  So I was reluctant to take this one on, especially right after another dystopia.

I thought it was pretty good, but far from perfect.  I definitely liked seeing the world through the eyes of the survivors in the Wilds.  They have a more unique perspective on it, one that’s good after the clinical feel of the first book.  I enjoyed seeing humans being humans again.

I seriously loved the character with which Lena may have found new love.  He’s fantastic.  I really enjoyed the story when he was in that chapter.  Plus, there was usually a lot of action close by.

The chapters aren’t told in chronological order, which completely threw me off in the beginning.  It flips between “Then” and “Now”, which is a difference of about six months.  I much preferred the story line of the “Now” rather than “Then”.  But that’s me.

What I didn’t like so much was that I knew how it was going to end before I’d started it.  That was disappointing.  I don’t mean that I saw a spoiler and it was ruined.  I mean I was able to predict what would happen, given what I knew from the book jacket of this one and the ending of the last.  I hoped I’d be wrong, especially after I got a little more than halfway through this one, but I wasn’t.  Boo.  I almost hate it when I ‘m right about things like this.

It’s still a pretty good read.  Lena’s tough, but fragile still.  The boy is a puzzle.  The action is definitely there, as well as the danger that takes many forms.  You’ll get hooked.

Spotlight Friday (53)

Hello my lovelies!  It’s Friday again!  Funny how that seems to happen every so often, you know?  Anyway, girlie here is quite busy today moving into her dorm.  It’ll be fun to get back into the swing of things at school, catch up with friends I haven’t seen in 3.5 months, but it’ll be rough on me too to be away from home.  Maybe some new, awesome books will help.

League of Strays by L.B. Schulman

Release Date: October 1, 2012

Summary (from Goodreads)This suspenseful debut follows a group of teenage misfits in their delicious quest for revenge on those who have wronged them at their high school. When a mysterious note appears in Charlotte’s mailbox inviting her to join the League of Strays, she’s hopeful it will lead to making friends. What she discovers is a motley crew of loners and an alluring, manipulative ringleader named Kade. Kade convinces the group that they need one another both for friendship and to get back at the classmates and teachers who have betrayed them. But Kade has a bigger agenda. In addition to vandalizing their school and causing fights between other students, Kade’s real intention is a dangerous plot that will threaten lives and force Charlotte to choose between her loyalty to the League and her own conscience.

What’s To Like: Well, Belle here got herself an ARC of this, so look for a review in the coming week or so.  I think what I like most is that I could probably pretty easily put myself in Charlotte’s shoes.  I mean, it isn’t easy to choose between friendship and what’s right.  That’s what got Neville those House Points.  I’m interested to see what her story is.

My review of League of Strays.

Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally

Release Date: October 1, 2012

Summary (from Goodreads)Parker Shelton pretty much has the perfect life. She’s on her way to becoming valedictorian at Hundred Oaks High, she’s made the all-star softball team, and she has plenty of friends. Then her mother’s scandal rocks their small town and suddenly no one will talk to her.

Now Parker wants a new life.

So she quits softball. Drops twenty pounds. And she figures why kiss one guy when she can kiss three? Or four. Why limit herself to high school boys when the majorly cute new baseball coach seems especially flirty?

But how far is too far before she loses herself completely?

What’s To Like: Miranda Kenneally’s writing in Catching Jordan was pretty amazing, in my opinion.  But I’m a little nervous with this one because well, I can’t really relate to Parker right now.  Jordan, totally.  What’s amazing about Kenneally is that I will totally see Parker’s side of things by the time I’m finished, I’m sure.

My review of Stealing Parker

Ironskin (Ironskin, #1) by Tina Connolly

Release Date: October 2, 2012

Summary (from Goodreads)Jane Eliot wears an iron mask. 

It’s the only way to contain the fey curse that scars her cheek. The Great War is five years gone, but its scattered victims remain—the ironskin. 

When a carefully worded listing appears for a governess to assist with a “delicate situation”—a child born during the Great War—Jane is certain the child is fey-cursed, and that she can help. 

Teaching the unruly Dorie to suppress her curse is hard enough; she certainly didn’t expect to fall for the girl’s father, the enigmatic artist Edward Rochart. But her blossoming crush is stifled by her own scars, and by his parade of women. Ugly women, who enter his closed studio…and come out as beautiful as the fey. 

Jane knows Rochart cannot love her, just as she knows that she must wear iron for the rest of her life. But what if neither of these things is true? Step by step Jane unlocks the secrets of her new life—and discovers just how far she will go to become whole again.

What’s To Like: What’s great about this one is that even the summary throws me for a loop.  This so rarely happens anymore.  I love that fey are making a small comeback.  I love that this is mixed with a dystopia.  I’m very interested in this man and what exactly he’s doing to these ugly women.  And I’m very interested in what Jane is going to do about it.  It’s exciting.  This is unlike most of what I’ve seen so far this year.