Spotlight Friday (62)

I hope all of you had a good holiday and I hope you all have a happy new year!  Now let’s see.  It’s after the winter holiday and some of you probably have gift cards to spend on books, right?  I know I certainly do.  Well, here are a few ideas for books that will be coming out very soon that you may want to hang onto those gift cards for.

Level 2 (The Memory Chronicles, #1) by Lenore Appelhans

Release Date: January 15, 2013

Summary (from Goodreads)Felicia Ward is dead. Trapped in a stark white afterlife limbo, she spends endless days replaying memories, of her family, friends, boyfriend … and of the guy who broke her heart. The guy who has just broken into Level 2 to find her.

Felicia learns that a rebellion is brewing, and it seems she is the key. Suspended between heaven and earth, she must make a choice. Between two worlds, two lives and two loves.

What’s To Like: Ok, so I really like stories that portray what the afterlife looks like.  I find them fascinating for a number of reasons that I won’t list here.  What I think is really cool about this story is that apparently this Level 2 is going to have a rebellion.  You don’t see a whole lot of rebellions in these types of stories.  They usually revolve around why the person died, what their life was like before they died, and how they’ve come to terms with death.  So this looks to be really different.

Touch of Death (Touch of Death, #1) by Kelly Hashway

Release Date: January 15, 2013

Summary (from Goodreads): Jodi Marshall isn’t sure how she went from normal teenager to walking disaster. One minute she’s in her junior year of high school, spending time with her amazing boyfriend and her best friend. The next she’s being stalked by some guy no one seems to know. 
After the stranger, Alex, reveals himself, Jodi learns he’s not a normal teenager and neither is she. With a kiss that kills and a touch that brings the dead back to life, Jodi discovers she’s part of a branch of necromancers born under the 13th sign of the zodiac, Ophiuchus. A branch of necromancers that are descendants of Medusa. A branch of necromancers with poisoned blood writhing in their veins. 
Jodi’s deadly to the living and even more deadly to the deceased. She has to leave her old, normal life behind before she hurts the people she loves. As if that isn’t difficult enough, Jodi discovers she’s the chosen one who has to save the rest of her kind from perishing at the hands of Hades. If she can’t figure out how to control her power, history will repeat itself, and her race will become extinct.

What’s To Like: Apparently, we’re on something of a morbid kick this week.  I guess that’s just when the books are being released.  Anyway, what I like about this is the infusion of Greek mythology.  Those are my favorite legends.  I love them.  I haven’t read very many that had to do with Medusa, and fewer still recently that had Hades as the bad guy.  (He’s become a more romantic figure recently and while I love it, I am kind of itching to see his dark side again.)  So this should be a lot of fun.

Boundless (Unearthly, #3) by Cynthia Hand

Release Date: January 22, 2013

*Potential Spoilers Ahead.  Final book in the trilogy*

Summary (from Goodreads)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.

What’s To Like: Oh, this is going to be marvelous!  I’ve been on this series from the beginning and I just need this one to complete the trilogy on my bookshelf.  It’s actually very rare for me to have the whole series on my shelf, but I want this.  Ok…back on task.  This is going to be an awesome book because there is going to be an epic showdown.  You know it, I know it.  I love those, though usually one of my favorite characters end up dying.  Will that happen this time?  I don’t know.  But it’ll be epic.  Also, I love the college angle this one is going to pull.  It’s different.

My review of Boundless.

Alice In Zombieland (White Rabbit Chronicles, #1)

First Lines: Had anyone told me that my entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, I would have laughed.  From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined?  Please.  But that’s all it took.

Growing up, I was a big fan of Alice in Wonderland.  I’d only read the book once, so I was technically more of a fan of the Disney animated movie.  So when I saw this book, I just knew I had to read it.  It was adding zombies!  However, this wasn’t at all like the original Alice.  (Sorry, no Cheshire Cats.)

In one blinding moment, Alice’s life changed.  Monsters–zombies–killed her family.  One minute, Ali was just a normal 17 year old girl.  The next, an orphan.  Now, it’s up to Ali to fight the zombies in order to enact revenge for her family.  To do it, she’s going to need the help of the roughest boy in town, Cole Holland.  He’s the worst of the worst, but he’s the only one who can help her.  But he’s got secrets too, and if Ali isn’t careful, she’ll end up just like her family…

Based on this description (which I had read prior to reading the book), I knew there were going to be very few similarities to Lewis Carroll’s classic.  However, I suspected with the title and the fact that the series is called the “White Rabbit Chronicles” there would at least be a few similarities.  And I was right.  (Also, isn’t that cover just simply gorgeous?  It’s so intricate!)

The story ended up going in ways I didn’t expect, which was good.  It was gripping and enthralling.  So many secrets…and so much danger.  It made for a fun read that I didn’t want to put down.

The characters were really cool.  Ali and her friends were unique individuals, Kat especially.  I can see where some readers won’t like Kat, but I did.  The dialogue was a lot of fun to read.  Sure, some parts didn’t quite ring true, like some of the slang that was outdated, but it was mostly just a lot of fun.  Ali has a snarky sense of humor and it reads just like her thoughts.  I giggled all the time.

And it was a very cool take on zombies.  I won’t say how, but I will say that they are different than any zombies I’ve read about previously.  And really, I liked this take on them more than I like most zombie stories.

A very fun story.  I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next in the series (which I’m suspecting is only 2 books long, but I could be wrong).

Spotlight Friday (61)

Ok so…wow, I haven’t done one of these in two months.  Holy crap.  Since it is the holiday season (and winter break), I am able to give you a new Spotlight!  Yay!  Let’s see what new books are coming out very soon, shall we?

Just One Day (Just One Day, #1) by Gayle Forman

Release Date: January 8, 2013

Summary (from Goodreads)When sheltered American good girl Allyson “LuLu” Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

What’s To Like: Ok, so anyone who’s read If I Stay knows that this author is a master at making a story believable and emotional.  She is one of the few writers who doesn’t write supernatural that I always look forward to reading.  I’m really excited to see what this story brings.  Also, I want to see how Shakespeare is used in this.

Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Release Date: January 8, 2013

Summary (from Goodreads)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.

What’s To Like: Ah, a dark new mystery that has ghosts and a serial killer.  Is it seriously sad if I look forward to reading books like these?  They’re just so much more gripping than other books.  I always want to know who the killer is.  While it’s not a totally accurate guesstimate, I think people who are fans of The Body Finder series (like me) will probably really enjoy this series too.

My review of Paper Valentine

Blood Prophecy (Drake Chronicles, #6) by Alyxandra Harvey

Release Date: January 8, 2013

*Potential Series Spoilers!!  This is the final book in the series, so proceed with caution!*

Summary (from Goodreads)In the thrilling conclusion of the Drake Chronicles, love and loyalties will be tested … and proven once and for all.
Solange Drake has been officially crowned Queen of the Vampires, fulfilling the centuries old prophecy that foretold the rise to power of a daughter born to an ancient vampire line. Except Solange’s thoughts and actions are no longer her own—she’s been slowly being possessed by the spirit of Viola, the first daughter born into the Drake line, since her bloodchange. And instead of uniting the vampire tribes under the rule of an ancient daughter as the prophecy predicted, Viola would rather destroy them all and enslave humans in a personal vendetta for the devastation both wrought to her life centuries ago. Can Solange break her hold in time to save everyone she loves from a vampire civil war, hunter attack, and each other? Not everyone will survive the prophecy . . . perhaps not even her.

What’s To Like: It’s the end of the series!  I’ve been following it from the beginning, and I’m really looking forward to how it will end.  I’ve followed these characters for years and now it’s time to see who will win.  It’s gonna be really screwy, I’m sure, but it’ll be good.

My review of Blood Prophecy.

Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)

First Lines: I’ve been locked up for 264 days.  I have nothing but a small notebook and a broken pen and the numbers in my head to keep me company.  1 window.  4 walls.  144 square feet of space.  26 letters in the alphabet I haven’t spoken in 264 days of isolation.

Ok, so I came to this party late.  I’ve been hearing about this book for at least a year.  And like, I wanted to read it; it was just never on the shelf at the library.  I didn’t even actually know my library had a copy until I saw it on the shelf.  So on my winter break storming-of-the-library, I picked it up.

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in 264 days.  She’s been locked up because the last time she touched someone, she was charged with murder.  She doesn’t know why her touch kills, no one does.  The Reestablishment threw her in a cell to keep others safe.  But times are changing.  There isn’t enough food out in the world for all the people.  Birds don’t fly anymore.  Things are just…wrong.  There are even whispers of rebellions strong enough to fight back.  Now, the Reestablishment sees Juliette as a possible weapon instead of a prisoner.  It’s up to Juliette to decide whether she will be a weapon…or a fighter.

I found this to be a really fascinating read.  First of all, and this is me being an English-nerd, the writing style was pretty different from what I usually encounter.  As you can see at the top of the book cover, there’s a line through the words “My touch is lethal.”  That was very common throughout the book.  She’d say things like “Gorgeous Dangerous.”  She also didn’t write in complete sentences all the time, which made me feel like Juliette’s voice was showing through very clearly.  So that was really interesting.

Also, I thought the characters were extremely realistic.  Juliette especially, despite her strange power.  She didn’t always know what she was, but she knew who she was.  That may not make a lot of sense until you read it.  I thought her reactions and emotions were pretty spot-on.  I’ve read stories where the main girl will cry for practically no reason, and I was so happy to see that even though Juliette probably had more than enough reason to cry all the time, she didn’t.  She feels like the kind of girl I could envision as my best friend.

The plot was pretty good as well.  Sure, there were a few things I thought could have been expanded on/deleted/whatever.  Mostly though, it was a well-paced story that took you on a journey with Juliette.  There were some very fascinating people she met along the way, the kinds of characters you don’t always see in books.  (One in particular, it would be fun to torture him by having him walk on a bed of Legos.  Just saying.)

So yeah.  A very cool read.  I’m kind of glad at this point that it did take me so long to find out how awesome it is because I have less of a wait for the sequel.

Crewel (Crewel World, #1)

First Lines: They came in the night.  Once, families fought them, neighbors coming to their aid.  But now that peace has been established, and the looms proven, girls pray to be retrieved.  They still come at night, but now it’s to avoid the masses with eager hands.  It’s a blessing to touch a Spinster as she passes.  That’s what they tell us.

I bought this in October, thanks to my very sweet boyfriend, who bought me a gift card just so he could watch me get all giddy about books.  I would send him a glare, except that I got 2 books out of it, so I’ll call it even.  It’s been sitting on my shelf ever since, much to his disappointment.  So, after getting a few other books out of the way, I read this one.

Spinsters are revered.  They create the very fabric of life and control everything from food distribution and production to death.  Adelice has the gift to become a Spinster, but it’s the last thing she ever wants to do.  She’s been taught for years to hide her ability.  But when she slips up, Adelice is thrown into the dangerous political world that is the Western Coventry.  Behind every door is a secret, behind every smiling face is a potential enemy.  Adelice’s world could disappear with the flick of a hook, if she makes one wrong move.

This was actually a more mature book than I thought it would be.  It didn’t do what I thought it would in terms of plot lines.  Adelice has her flaws that get her into very serious trouble.  She makes enemies faster than she does friends, and she puts herself in positions where she’s definitely going to end up dead if she keeps it up.  It was really interesting to read a story like that.

The world that’s created is very enticing as well.  It takes a while to get used to.  The beginning just jumps right into that world, which may help or hinder your reading, depending on how you do with that kind of intro.

The characters are actually well-developed as well.  You have the characters you like, but also the ones that you know are slime balls.  There is are a couple of good plot twists involving the characters that happens, one that comes out of left field.  For that one, I kind of felt it was unnecessary, but I’ll still take it.

Overall, it was an exciting read.  There are many twists and turns while keeping the integrity of the story and the characters.  I had fun reading it.

Beautiful Disaster (Beautiful, #1)

First Lines: Everything in the room screamed that I didn’t belong.  The stairs were crumbling, the rowdy patrons were shoulder to shoulder, and the air was a medley of sweat, blood, and mold.

I actually accidentally won the audiobooks in a giveaway back in August–unfortunately, I can’t read by audiobooks.  I just can’t focus on them.  So I had to find the book.

Abby Abernathy just wants to be a normal college girl.  She wants to forget the life she used to lead and become the cardigan-wearing, no-drinking-or-swearing girl she thinks she should be in order to distance herself from her past.  Her plan is quickly challenged by Travis Maddox, Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.  He’s a legend for girls: sexy, cut, covered in tattoos, and sure to give the girl a night she won’t forget. He’s everything Abby needs to stay away from.  He earns money fighting in a floating fight club.  Intrigued by Abby’s ability to withstand his charms, Travis challenges her to a bet.  If she wins, he will remain abstinent for a month.  But if he wins, Abby will live in his apartment with him for a month.  Either way, Travis has no idea he’s met his match…

Ok, I stole some of that from the back of the book.  It just fit better than anything I could come up with.

So, once I found out this was about college aged kids, I was hooked.  I didn’t care what it was about, so long as it took place in college.  Do you know how rare it is to find books like that?  (No joke, if you know of any other books with college students, PLEASE leave a comment with the title!)

I found the book charming, but somewhat lacking.  Everything on the back cover was wrapped up neatly in about 200 pages.  The second half of the book was a complete mystery.  I had no idea what I was in for.  At times, that was awesome.  At others, I just wanted an outline of where this story was headed, whether it was on its way to Crazytown or just around the corner.

The beginning was quite gripping.  I did not want to put it down.  Oh, and for those of you that care about these things, there is quite a lot of cursing in this book.  It’s really not appropriate for younger children.  I’m even reading it going, “Now, did you really need to drop that many F-bombs in that sentence?”

The characters were interesting people.  It’s always so different reading about college students rather than high school students because there is that sense of freedom you just don’t find when the characters are still living at home with Mom and Dad.  They act more like themselves, if that does anything to explain it.  There are many lovely, witty conversations that I giggled aloud during.

I thought some of the plot twists were unnecessary or too sudden.  It felt a little like a soap-opera in those final 100 pages or so.  I started getting bored because it was so overly dramatic.

The beginning is highly addictive.  It’s a good story, but one that could have used a little work.  The good news is there will be a sequel, this time from Travis’s point of view.  That’ll be interesting.

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar (Steampunk Chronicles, #2)

First Lines: “What are you doing?”

This was loaned to me by one of my friends, who is actually quite spot on with her book recommendations most of the time.  I wanted to get this one read and returned to her before Christmas break.

*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead*

Finley Jayne and her friends find themselves on a new adventure, one that leads them to America.  One of their own has been captured and accused of murder.  Finley, Griff, and the others have no idea whether or not he’s actually guilty, but they’re not going to just turn him over to the wolves.  Will they discover the truth?  Who will try to interfere with that happening?  And who is the girl in the clockwork collar?

I wasn’t a very big fan of the first book, and that was the same here.  It was a good book, but not one I’m going to want to reread or so anything with in the future.

The plot is kind of so-so.  I mean, there are definitely secrets that you try to work out as you read.  There was one in particular that I spotted before it happened, but only just.  So that’s good, but I found the rest of the plot to be kind of lacking.  Some stuff seemed too easy, too contrived.  And the jumping narration, while kind of necessary to this story, just didn’t work for me.

The characters are alright.  I find them to be very stereotypical, part of that coming from the rigid British society they come from.  Like, Finley is a serving girl and she acts like one in most respects.  She can’t and won’t break out of that because that is her station.  She wants to, but she won’t.  It was frustrating to see these witty, clever characters get stuck in personality ruts.

There are some good butt-kicking scenes, but that’s about all I looked forward to outside the witty repertoire of the characters.  I just wasn’t very excited by this book.  I read over 100 pages in one sitting, but it was hard to stay focused on it.  I wanted to do other things.  The only two things motivating me to keep reading was A) I wanted to get it done before break and B) my boyfriend, who kept saying, “You’re almost done!”.  So naturally, I had to finish it.

So yeah.  It’s decent.  Just not really my cup of tea.