Spotlight Friday (88)

Aha!  I bet you thought I forgot about you, didn’t you?  You’d be wrong!  I do have a new review I hope to roll out this weekend, so you’ll have that to look forward to (you know, when you get back from the lake or whatever you’re doing this holiday weekend).  For now, we have more lovely books!

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Release Date: September 17, 2013

Summary (from Goodreads)Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

What’s To Like: This is one I just found literally four minutes ago.  I really like this premise.  Music changes the lives of so many people (mine included), and I think it’s a topic that’s completely relatable.  I also like on the cover, if you pay attention to which letters are in pink/red, it says “Love”.  Plus, I get the impression that this book doesn’t have a love story in it, which is also something I’m looking forward to.  It just looks like a story that is about music, life, and friends.  And that’s awesome.

My review of This Song Will Save Your Life.

Frozen (Heart of Dread, #1) by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston

Release Date: September 17, 2013

Summary (from Goodreads)Welcome to New Vegas, a city once covered in bling, now blanketed in ice. Like much of the destroyed planet, the place knows only one temperature—freezing. But some things never change. The diamond in the ice desert is still a 24-hour hedonistic playground and nothing keeps the crowds away from the casino floors, never mind the rumors about sinister sorcery in its shadows.

At the heart of this city is Natasha Kestal, a young blackjack dealer looking for a way out. Like many, she’s heard of a mythical land simply called “the Blue.” They say it’s a paradise, where the sun still shines and the waters are turquoise. More importantly, it’s a place where Nat won’t be persecuted, even if her darkest secret comes to light.

But passage to the Blue is treacherous, if not impossible, and her only shot is to bet on a ragtag crew of mercenaries led by a cocky runner named Ryan Wesson to take her there. Danger and deceit await on every corner, even as Nat and Wes find themselves inexorably drawn to each other. But can true love survive the lies? Fiery hearts collide in this fantastic tale of the evil men do and the awesome power within us all.

What’s To Like: I really haven’t read anything of Melissa de la Cruz’s in years, since I was about halfway through the Blue Bloods series.  I’m kind of interested in this because of how it presents the world as a frozen wasteland.  It’s different.  I’m also interested in what and where this “Blue” is.  Is it part of the US, like “New Vegas” is?  (Or at least I assume it is.)  And who is this Ryan?  Let’s find out!

Unbreakable (Legion, #1) by Kami Garcia

Release Date: October 1, 2013

Summary (from Goodreads)I never believed in ghosts. Until one tried to kill me.

When Kennedy Waters finds her mother dead, her world begins to unravel. She doesn’t know that paranormal forces in a much darker world are the ones pulling the strings. Not until identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into Kennedy’s room and destroy a dangerous spirit sent to kill her. The brothers reveal that her mother was part of an ancient secret society responsible for protecting the world from a vengeful demon — a society whose five members were all murdered on the same night.

Now Kennedy has to take her mother’s place in the Legion if she wants to uncover the truth and stay alive. Along with new Legion members Priest and Alara, the teens race to find the only weapon that might be able to destroy the demon — battling the deadly spirits he controls every step of the way.

Suspense, romance, and the paranormal meet in this chilling urban fantasy, the first book in a new series from Kami Garcia, bestselling coauthor of the Beautiful Creatures novels.

What’s To Like: As it turns out, I’m actually going to be part of the blog tour for this book, so check back for fun stuff in the next two weeks!  It’ll be exciting.  🙂  Anyway, I really like the concept of this book as a whole.  I actually really want to get to know these twins, but Kennedy sounds cool too.  I think this book will have a lot of action, paranormal or otherwise.  It should be an adventure.

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Spotlight Friday (87)

Hello everyone!  I haven’t forgotten about you!  I just haven’t been reading much since classes started around here, so…no new reviews to post now that I’ve gotten all caught up on those.  But our very special Friday moments are still here.  🙂  Enjoy three new goodies!

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Release Date: September 24, 2013

Summary (from Goodreads): Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn’t leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….

With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.

What’s To Like: I’m trying to expand my books by branching out of the ones I normally read and looking for basically anything that I wouldn’t normally have on my to-read list.  This is one of those.  I really like the title, first of all, but I’m really not sure what this story’s about.  The summary is almost too confusing for me.  Not that it doesn’t sound interesting.  I’m really wondering why the final line says it’s a world not so different from our own.

Premeditated by Josin L. McQuein

Release Date: October 8, 2013

Summary (from Goodreads)A week ago, Dinah’s cousin Claire cut her wrists.

Five days ago, Dinah found Claire’s diary and discovered why.

Three days ago, Dinah stopped crying and came up with a plan.

Two days ago, she ditched her piercings and bleached the black dye from her hair.

Yesterday, knee socks and uniform plaid became a predator’s camouflage.

Today, she’ll find the boy who broke Claire.

By tomorrow, he’ll wish he were dead.

What’s To Like: It’s a little too revenge-y for my tastes, but it’s certainly enticing.  I mean, look at that cover!  I love it.  I just wish the story felt a little less like a revenge story and, I don’t know, more like a novel of understanding.  Is that really sappy of me?  Maybe.  But hey, maybe you like it.

The Dollhouse Asylum by Mary Gray

Release Date: October 22, 2013

Summary (from Goodreads): A virus that had once been contained has returned, and soon no place will be left untouched by its destruction. But when Cheyenne wakes up in Elysian Fields–a subdivision cut off from the world and its monster-creating virus–she is thrilled to have a chance at survival.

At first, Elysian Fields,with its beautiful houses and manicured lawns, is perfect. Teo Richardson, the older man who stole Cheyenne’s heart, built it so they could be together. But when Teo tells Cheyenne there are tests that she and seven other couples must pass to be worthy of salvation, Cheyenne begins to question the perfection of his world.

The people they were before are gone. Cheyenne is now “Persephone,” and each couple has been re-named to reflect the most tragic romances ever told. Everyone is fighting to pass the test, to remain in Elysian Fields. Teo dresses them up, tells them when to move and how to act, and in order to pass the test, they must play along.

If they play it right, then they’ll be safe.

But if they play it wrong, they’ll die.

What’s To Like: As if this was a surprise, this is actually on my to-read list.  Hello, we’re throwing in vast amounts of Greek mythology.  Of course I’m interested.  I love the idea of passing tests where every person is a person in a tragic love story.  It’s cool and incredibly creepy at the same time.  But I’m concerned about this Teo.  He’s kind of scaring me already, maybe for no good reason.  I’m not sure, but I’m definitely reading this.

Autumn in the City of Angels (The Autumn Series, #1)

First Lines: Sail lines clinked and boats rubbed against their bumpers as I hurried through the marina on the way to my after-school job at the radio station.

I received a copy of this book from the authors months and months ago (my sincerest apologies that it took so long).  But I finally remembered it was on my Kindle and read it.

The world is coming to an end…almost literally.  Autumn Winters, daughter of an actress and living in L.A., lived a somewhat normal life until the day the plague came through.  It devastated the world in just a few days.  Though no one knows for sure, they think only 1% of the population still lives.  And Autumn is one of them.  When her parents don’t come home and a dangerous faction takes over the city, Autumn joins ranks with an underground group of survivors.  There, she meets a strange boy with a secret that could change everything…

I finished this book in 2 days, if that tells you anything.  The first two thirds of the book were so incredibly grabbing.  I loved it.  There was something about it that made it stand out against other dystopia novels like this.  And it was just little things that did it, like going into detail about the power and water.  And (as morbid as this will sound) the dead bodies.  Because really, who’s gonna clean that up when there’s only 1% of people still left alive?  It was just so realistic.  I loved following Autumn through the months that this book covers.

And then the plot twist happened.

Sigh.  That plot twist took away most of my enthusiasm and turned it from a book I REALLY wanted to keep reading and a book that eh, I have nothing else to do.  Might as well keep reading.  That was disappointing.  And it’s not that it’s a bad plot twist, but it’s just not my thing and it took away most of what I loved about the beginning of the book.

It doesn’t end badly or anything, so don’t think that.  It still ended fairly well.  It was still interesting after that point, but I just couldn’t get back into the same way I had before.

I will reiterate that the characters are awesome.  Autumn herself is that kind of reluctant heroine that I tend to like.  She’s nothing extraordinary, but she becomes extraordinary when she’s put to the test.  And you get to meet some really cute other characters such as Rissi, a 7 year old girl Autumn runs into.

Overall, it’s still a pretty good read.  I just wish that plot twist didn’t happen.

Infatuate (Gilded Wings, #2)

First Lines: I hadn’t expected the end of high school to feel this way.

Is anyone else feeling a bit overwhelmed by how many series books are out now?  Not only that, but once you start one, you have to keep going. And that is a lot of reading.  I feel guilty if a certain amount of time goes by after the books come out and I haven’t read them.  I was kind of guilted into reading this one since I liked the first one.

*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead*

Haven is still trying to recover from the internship from Hades over the summer.  Luckily her best friend Dante and her new boyfriend Lance had gone through it too and knew what she was feeling.  Then Haven gets an offer to come to New Orleans for the spring as a part of a volunteer/tourism group.  With Lance and Dante at her side, they take off.  But New Orleans is way more dangerous than Chicago ever was.  A group of shape-shifting demons named the Krewe run the streets, affecting Haven and all of her new friends.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, Lucian, the demon Haven had a major crush on, is back and wants her help to get him out of the Underworld.  Can she trust him?  Or will it cost her not only her life, but her wings as well?

It took me a little while to get into this book because I was so busy when I started it.  Only two or three chapters in, I went away for the weekend and was unable to bring it with me.  So that was a setback.  But once I got into it, it really went well.

I liked seeing Haven grow and mature.  She’s facing tougher problems now than she did in Chicago.  And it’s not only because the adversaries are tougher, but because now there’s an ethical dilemma as well, since she knows what she is and feels the responsibilities related to that. And I really love seeing Dante as well.  He’s probably my favorite character.

There was one night I was completely glued to this book.  Like, to the point where I realized once I had to put it down now or face not going to bed until about 1:30.  (Which I couldn’t risk because of the day ahead of me.)  So I stopped reading.  And after that, the momentum was never the same.  I can’t really figure out why.  I think part of it may be that it was just more exciting in the middle of the book than it was at the end.  I felt there was a lot of hype for the ending, but it didn’t really amount to much.  That was seriously disappointing.

I still thought it was a good read.  It’s a thick book, but it goes by quickly with all the action and danger it packs inside.

Spotlight Friday (86)

Hello my lovelies!  Oh, it is most definitely that time of year again, where kids (myself included) head back to school, parents rejoice at the solitude, and teachers begin flexing their intellectual muscles.  It is oh so definitely time to look at some new books and see what new treasures we can unearth.

Bang (Visions, #2) by Lisa McMann

Release Date: October 8, 2013

*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead*

Summary (from Goodreads)Jules should be happy. She saved a lot of people’s lives and she’s finally with Sawyer, pretty much the guy of her dreams. But the nightmare’s not over, because she somehow managed to pass the psycho vision stuff to Sawyer. Excellent.

Feeling responsible for what he’s going through and knowing that people’s lives are at stake, Jules is determined to help him figure it all out. But Sawyer’s vision is so awful he can barely describe it, much less make sense of it. All he can tell her is there’s a gun, and eleven ear-splitting shots. Bang.

Jules and Sawyer have to work out the details fast, because the visions are getting worse and that means only one thing: time is running out. But every clue they see takes them down the wrong path. If they can’t prevent the vision from happening, lives will be lost. And they may be among the casualties…

What’s To Like: I really have a thing for books about visions, probably because I really have no idea what I would do if I had them.  I probably wouldn’t be as driven as Jules is to try to do something about them.  I’d be too freaked out.  I’ve read 4 of McMann’s books now, and there’s a simplicity to them you really don’t find anywhere else, even when they cover really heavy topics.

My review of Bang

Across the Star-Swept Sea (For Darkness Shows the Stars, #2) by Diana Peterfreund

Release Date: October 15, 2013

Summary (from Goodreads)Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a terraformed paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the isle of Galatea, an uprising against the ruling aristocrats has turned deadly. The revolutionaries’ weapon is a drug that damages their enemies’ brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy.

On the neighboring island of Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous aristocrat Persis Blake. The teenager uses her shallow, socialite trappings to hide her true purpose: her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo… is her most dangerous mission ever.

Though Persis is falling for Justen, she can’t risk showing him her true self, especially once she learns he’s hiding far more than simply his disenchantment with his country’s revolution and his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he’s pretending to love. His darkest secret could plunge both islands into a new dark age, and Persis realizes that when it comes to Justen Helo, she’s not only risking her heart, she’s risking the world she’s sworn to protect.

What’s To Like: I was really pulled into this world with the first book.  I’m really interested to see what happens here, with new characters and a new place.  It should be interesting to say the least.  I’m really excited to meet this Persis because she sounds like an awesome spy.  I hear tell this is based off The Scarlet Pimpernel, which I really know nothing about.  But maybe you do.

Allegiant (Divergent, #3) by Veronica Roth

Release Date: October 22, 2013

*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead*

Summary (from Goodreads)What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

What’s To Like: This is the part of the post where we *SQUEE* and run around like the excited fangirls/fanboys that we are.  Because guess what, this release date is only 2 months away!  Then we will binge ourselves on this final installment and suffer a horrible book hangover afterward.  But it will so be worth it.

My review of Allegiant

The Madness Underneath (Shades of London, #2)

First Lines: Back at Wexford, where I went to school before all of this happened to me, they made me play hockey every day.  I had no idea how to play hockey, so they covered me in padding and made me stand in the goal.  From the goal, I could watch my fellow players run around with sticks.  Occasionally they’d whack a small, very hard ball in my direction.  I would dive out of the way, every time.

If I could include more of Rory’s stories, I totally would.  She’s one of my favorite heroines simply because of her way of telling stories.  But I will definitely get to that soon.

*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead*

After barely surviving an attack in her school from a Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Deveraux has gone to live with her parents in Bristol.  And no offense to them, but life there sucks.  When Rory’s therapist suddenly decides it’s a good idea for Rory to go back to Wexford, she jumps at the chance.  But her brush with death has affected her more than she could have believed.  Rory is what’s known as a human terminus.  She has the power to make ghosts disappear to the other side with a single touch.  She finds out that the Shades, the ghost police of London, are responsible for her return. While the Ripper may be gone, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other threats still in the city.  A few of the recent deaths seem more than coincidental to Rory.  Something dangerous is going on, and Rory needs to get to the bottom of it and convince her team of the danger before the danger finds them.

The reason I even got into this series was for the first book’s Jack the Ripper angle.  I really didn’t expect to like this one as much as that one.  But my goodness, I think I liked this one even better than the first one.

I think Rory’s finally found her voice in the story, not that she didn’t have it before.  But it’s distinctly Rory, and I think it’s hilarious.  Rory is a Southern belle in London, who doesn’t fit in, who loves to talk, and who will tell the most random stories when she gets nervous.  Oh my gosh, I nearly laughed out loud a couple of times.  She really doesn’t have a filter sometimes.  And I love it.  She reminds me of me.  I haven’t met too many heroines who seem to be bothered with this same affliction.  I can imagine that this style of talking/writing bothers some people, but I thought it was spectacular and added a layer of humor to an otherwise dark story.

I loved seeing some of the same old characters come back.  Frankly, I remembered very few of them by name.  I looked back at my helpful little notes, and that helped somewhat.  I really only remembered Stephen and Callum as well as Jazza, Rory’s roommate at school (though I didn’t remember her by name).  It was nice to see them again, and see how they changed.

The plot, I must say, was incredible.  Most of the story is told from Rory’s perspective, unless we’re seeing a snippet of the newest murder.  And the danger in the story starts fairly subtly.  I mean, yeah, I figured out one part of the plot pretty quickly that in turn made it a little obvious who the “bad guy” was, but I didn’t have it all figured out by the end.

And that ending!  The most painful ending I think I’ve read all summer.  I’ll be exaggerating to say I went into shock after reading it, but it sure felt like shock.  I walked around for the next few minutes going through the motions, but with my mind still on that ending.  So there you have it. You have been warned.

Overall, it was a fantastic read that makes me wonder why in the world I haven’t read more of Maureen Johnson’s books.

Belle Epoque

First Lines: “Perfect.  Just perfect,” says the stout man.  He scrutinizes me, his suit pinching across his rotund torso, and I assume that this is Monsieur Durandeau, but he doesn’t introduce himself.

You guys are probably sick of all the series books I’ve been reading.  I’d be sick of them too, if I weren’t so fond of the series themselves.  But when I picked up 4 sequels the last time at the library, I picked this up as well to counter all the series books.  It looked promising.

Maude Pichon ran away from her home in Brittany to try to make a life in Paris, where adventure was supposed to be as present as the water.  But instead, Maude finds herself penniless and desperate.  She answers an ad for the Durandeau Agency, which has a unique product: the beauty foil.  Maude, a plain girl, will instantly make the wealthy client look prettier just by standing next to her.  Durandeau has made himself wealthy with this, and the Countess Dubern is looking for a girl to be her daughter Isabelle’s companion.  Maude is the perfect fit.  Isabelle has no idea her new friend has been hired, and Maude faces challenge after challenge of keeping her true identity a secret in Parisian society.  The longer the deception continues and the closer the gets the Isabelle, the more she has to lose…

I was really interested in this for the Parisian aspect as well as for Maude.  First of all, the story is set in the last 1800s, just as the Eiffel Tower is going up.  That was spectacular because of the reactions the people of Paris had to it.  And it was just a cool story backdrop.  And I read for Maude because she’s this “plain” girl who gets hired because “plain” is just a more polite word for “ugly”.

The theme of beauty was heavily prevalent here, and I liked what it was trying to say.  Maude never really thought about her looks until she was told she was plain and ugly, then she never seemed to stop thinking about it.  And her job forces her to think of her flaws, her ugliest physical points.  I can’t imagine doing that as my job.  It would be incredibly depressing.  She didn’t have much of a choice though.  It was take that job or starve.  But there’s a good lesson she learns along the way that makes the story worthwhile.

I also liked seeing some of the socialite interactions as well.  I’m just a fan of those things because they’re so layered and overt, even though they try to be subtle.  Like when you know there’s a rich, eligible bachelor in the room and every mother is trying to get their daughters to dance with him to catch his interest.  It’s comical, yet this is exactly how society worked for decades, and not just in Paris.  I’d like to think we’ve gotten more subtle about this in the last century or so, but I doubt it.

Anyway, it’s a good story about finding who you are, discovering what it means to be beautiful, and creating your own destiny.