Thursday, March 12, 2015

Review - Bones & All

Written By: Camille DeAngelis
Published By: St. Martin's Press (MacMillan)
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Pages: 292
Genre: Horror, Coming of Age
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

Maren Yearly doesn’t just break hearts, she devours them. 

Since she was a baby, Maren has had what you might call "an issue" with affection. Anytime someone cares for her too much, she can’t seem to stop herself from eating them. Abandoned by her mother at the age of 16, Maren goes looking for the father she has never known, but finds more than she bargained for along the way. 

Faced with love, fellow eaters, and enemies for the first time in her life, Maren realizes she isn’t just looking for her father, she is looking for herself. The real question is, will she like the girl she finds?

This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2015 and I was so thrilled to end up being on the street team!  I feel like right off I should say that this book is not for everyone.  It's dark, it's gritty, and there are parts of it that are downright gross, but if you can get past that it's a very original, enjoyable read.  While it's being marketed and sold as an adult novel it is very much a YA novel, seeing as the protagonist is 16 years old and trying to figure out who she is without her mother.  Despite having a main character who eats people whole, bones and all (hence the title), the book is largely a coming of age story along with learning to accept yourself for who you are, which is an important message.  There were also some lines that I really loved and thought were very artfully worded, which doesn't always happen.  I will say that there were a few things that either struck me as odd or confused me in some way, those things were as followed; first, there was the time period, the book actually takes place back in the late 90's which I wasn't expecting.  It wasn't a problem though, so much as just a shock and, initially I was a little confused as to parts that seemed outdated (as it turns out they were).  The other thing that I found slightly confusing was that things happened in the novel and the main character made some sort of "ahh, now I see" deceleration when I as a reader did not.  That was slightly jarring and I found myself going back a page or two trying to figure out it I just skipped over something important or if I just didn't "get the joke" so to speak.  I would have liked to see more focus on the eaters, they fascinated me and while there was some information it did at times seem very glossed over, but I think that's more of a personal thing, seeing as the idea of cannibalism is something I find intreguing. As a heads up I do have to say that there were a few places where the story lagged somewhat, but once I got through them - and they didn't seem to last very long - I was pulled back into the story and things got going again.  Overall it was a deliciously unique novel that those with a flare for the macabre will enjoy, and I'm excited to see what the author comes up with next.

4/5 stars

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Shadow Scale Release Day Giveaway

Over two years ago debut author Rachel Harman took the literary world by storm with a high-fantasy novel that became a New York Times Bestseller and gained EIGHT starred reviews.  Seraphina made numerous "best of" lists and was raved about by authors and booksellers alike and today the highly anticipated sequel (and conclusion to the series) hits shelves!  Thanks to the publisher I have an exciting giveaway for you all!  But first, here's a look at the books!

In her New York Times bestselling and Morris Award-winning debut, Rachel Hartman introduces mathematical dragons in an alternative-medieval world to fantasy and science-fiction readers of all ages. Eragon-author Christopher Paolini calls them, "Some of the most interesting dragons I've read in fantasy."

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

Find the book on
*The e-book is currently on sale for $1.99 on ALL PLATFORMS!

Shadow Scale

The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways. 

As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?

Are you intrigued?  Well one of you will have the chance to win a finished copy of Shadow Scale and, if you should need it, Seraphina!  The publisher has graciously provided the copy of book two and I will invest in the first one should you need it.  All you need to do is enter the rafflecopter below!  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please note that since the publisher is providing the prize (and I am just adding to it if you need book one) that this giveaway is only open to those in the US.  Sorry to all of you international fans!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Review - Fairest

Written By: Marissa Meyer
Published By: Feiwel and Friends (MacMillan)
Release Date: January 27, 2015
Pages: 222 (Not including excerpt of Winter)
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Retelling

Source: Purchased

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now. 

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

Honestly I wasn't overly crazy about Fairest.  Sure, it's a Marissa Meyer book and part of the Lunar Chronicles, but I personally am not a huge fan of back stories about villains.  I never have been.  Don't get me wrong, I love a good villain, they're fantastic and a story, especially a sci-fi fantasy story, can't really BE a story without one, but while it is interesting seeing how evil came to be that way I always end up circling back to the same thought; "Cool motive.  Still murder."  This being said I think I enjoyed Fairest a bit more than I thought I would.  There's something about Marissa's writing that makes it hard for me to put her books down, an ease that lulls me into reading page after page after page, somehow oblivious to the time ticking by.  Fairest, like all of her other books, does just that.  And despite being about a character that eventually turns into someone evil and heartless (haha, that's funny cause that's the title of Marissa's next book!) there are pieces of it that were so pretty.  Sure there were parts that weren't, there were even a few parts that irked me, mainly the whole "I am not a child" thing that shows just how much of a child the character actually is, but I understood the need for it.  I also found myself sympathizing with Levana for a period of time.  I think what I loved the most though was, having read all of the previous (other?) books in the series, I made connections between the books and saw all of the little tidbits Marissa had put in.  It's little Easter eggs like the ones in this book that push the story to the next level because it really shows that the author is thinking about every little detail, which just blows my mind.  Overall I'm pretty happy with this book, and although I wish that maybe it had come out after Winter because I NEED THE END OF THE SERIES I respect that Marissa needed to flush out this character, her villain, to help her write the end, and while it was short it was a quick, enjoyable read.  Fans of the Lunar Chronicles will surely enjoy this look into the most feared character in the series, and even though it's not the ending we were hoping to see at this point in the year it is part of the world and enough to, hopefully, hold us over until Winter's release this November.  

4/5 stars

Monday, February 2, 2015

Review - Shutter

Written By: Courtney Alameda
Published By: Feiwel and Friends (MacMillan)
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Pages: 384
Genre: Horror, Paranormal
Source: ARC from my local indie

Horror has a new name: introducing Courtney Alameda.

Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat—a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens. With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. She's aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed her camera's technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever.
When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain
. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn't exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she's faced before . . . or die trying.

Lock, stock, and lens, she’s in for one hell of a week.

Shutter was one of those books that I was just crazy excited about getting my hands on.  If for some reason you didn't know I'm a HUGE horror fan so to have a YA book being published that hails the author as the new name of horror is very exciting.  I've learned the hard way that the hype that a publisher places on a book isn't always the way I see it, but thankfully this was not one of those times.  From the very first page of this book the action and horror was ramped up full force, sending little chills down my spine from time to time and keeping me on edge.  The world that Courtney created was fascinating, and the fact that she based it all off of Dracula was even cooler.  It's actually rather impressive how well thought out this book was, especially considering it was a debut, and although there were a few bits here and there that got a little bogged down with the details (the first few chapters had a little bit of an info-dump) overall it kept me interested the entire time and I was compelled to find out what happened.  I think it's hard to write scary because so often in the movies we rely on those moments of tension coupled with suspenseful music that ultimately leads to the reveal of the big bad thing where it jumps out from around the corner and yells "boo!" but in books it's so much harder to do that.  You're not physically showing a person those things and you don't have the background music to help set the tone, you're forced to rely totally on words on a page, and Courtney has managed to do that.  She's managed to do it not just with the typical creepy setting but with her descriptions of everything, morphing the ordinary into the grotesque just by weaving words together and comparing mundane things to horrific ones.  It was fantastic.  A note to the faint of heart, it wasn't just the descriptions of ordinary things, buildings and the like, that were gross, but the ghosts and the creatures and the death, so this book, it's not for the weak willed.  That being said I can say that fans of horror, especially those who are also fans of the YA age group, will find this to be a delightful read.  The action is non-stop and while there's a little bit of romance is isn't overwhelming.  I can honestly say that this won't be a book for everyone , there are going to be people who won't like it, but as a horror novel it stands its own and I really do hope that Courtney is able to continue the story because while most things are wrapped up there's potential for more.  Fingers crossed that will happen (on both Courtney and MacMillan's end)!

On a separate note I can totally see this is a movie too, and if it was done right it would be SO COOL!!!

4.5/5 stars

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Review - I Was Here

Written By: Gayle Forman
Published By: Viking (Penguin)
Release Date: January 27, 2015
Pages: 288
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic fiction, Suicide
Source: ARC from publisher

Cody and Meg were inseparable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.
When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.
I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss.

Several years ago I read Forman's award-winning novel If I Stay, and unlike almost everyone else I wasn't blown away by it, but I did thoroughly enjoy it.  Although this book hasn't hit shelves yet most of its praise has been along the lines of If I Stay so there's no doubt in my mind that fans of that book will just eat this one up too.  The writing was truely beautiful, with several quotes that I can see being made into beautiful pieces of artwork or even tattoos.  The story was reminiscent of Jandy Nelson's The Sky If Everywhere in the sense that it delt with trying to move past the death of a loved one while at the same time keeping them close.  It was fascinating watching Forman weave her story and even more interesting that she managed to add a hint of mystery and love to the mix.  The characters were well rounded and while they did some things that irked me there was a logical reason for them to do it, so I was able to forgive the act more than I would have if it had just been for the sake of the plot.  Overall it was a touching story of a girl coming to grips with the suicide of her best friend, along with uncovering the reasons that she decided to go down that path and learning to forgive herself for what happened.  All of that being said for some reason there was just something that didn't click with me.  I appreciated the characters and the plot, was blown away by the writing in places, and was intregued enough to plow right through the book, but despite all of that I didn't connect with it the way so many people seem to have.  Please though, if you are excited for this book and/or are fans of Forman's previous works pick it up.  Just because I wasn't hit the way so many others were doesn't mean that you won't be (for some reason Forman's books don't give me all the feels like they do to everyone else), but I still think this is a powerful book because it does what so many books are afraid to do.  And that's talk about a tough subject.  It talks about a subject that so many people won't touch and it does it in such a real way and that makes it SO IMPORTANT.  So go pick it up because even though I didn't love it I liked it a lot and it's something that everyone should read.

4.5/5 stars

Friday, January 2, 2015

Review - All The Bright Places

Written By: Jennifer Niven
Published By: Knopf Random House
Release Date: January 6, 2015
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic fiction, Mental Health
Source: ARC from publisher

The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this compelling, exhilarating, and beautiful story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister's recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

There have been so many people raving about this book that I was a little worried that it was going to be one of those books that I found overrated but surprisingly that did not turn out to be the case.  By the time I realized this book might end up breaking my heart I was already so invested that I had to see what happened next, so a warning to you all; tears are almost unavoidable.  This should come as no surprise to people though, seeing as the book is comped to The Fault in Our Stars, which is also a tear-jerker, and let me say if you didn't enjoy that book you probably won't enjoy this one.  I say this because I can see a slight resemblance between the "teens who feel too old for teenagers" vibe coming from both of these books, and while some people hate this I found that it lead to some passages that were breathtakingly beautiful.  Something that I think people will enjoy is that the manic-pixie-dream-girl stereotype that seems to come with these kind of books isn't there.  In fact it's more of a manic-pixie-dream-boy kind of thing, which I found quite fascinating.  The energy exerted by the main male character is one of the biggest reasons that I kept flipping pages, I almost felt like I HAD to see what happened next; what he would do next, what he would say next.  There was a feverish pace that I couldn't break no matter how hard I tried.  And I have to give props to the girl because so often in books like this they do everything wrong, but she did everything RIGHT.  When you get to the point I'm referring to you'll know exactly what I mean, and I cannot stress enough how fantastic it was to see that in YA lit.  It just filled me with joy that Niven decided to take her characters down that path instead of the one most traveled.  Overall I was ridiculously pleased with age-group jump into YA and I can already tell this is going to be a big seller.  I found this a fantastic way to bring in the new year and I wish Niven all the best in the sales of this book, they are deserved.  I can't see what she comes up with next.

4.5/5 stars

Thursday, January 1, 2015

In Which I Anticipate 2015 + Giveaway

Yesterday I took a look back at my year in books and today, being the start of a new year, I'm going to look forward.  One of the things that make me so excited about a new year is all of the new books that are going to be published and I thought I would take a look at some that I can't wait to read along with a few book-related new year's resolutions!

Here are 15 novels that come out THIS YEAR that I'm excited to read!

  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas - I love Sarah J. Maas' books, so I'm sure this will be no exception! 
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab (aka Victoria Schwab) - Schwab's first adult book was SO GREAT and I have high hopes for this one!
  • Alive by Scott Sigler - A teenage girl wakes up in a coffin and finds others in the same position.  That's how it starts.  HOW COOL IS THAT!? (Note: in real life this would NOT be cool)
  • Bones & All by Camille DeAngelis - Cannibals.  That is all.
  • Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn - Supposedly the main female character is screwed up.  I'm excited to see if it's true!

  • Fairest by Marissa Meyer - I'll pretty much read anything Marissa writes, and since Winter isn't out until much later I suppose I'll have to see how Queen Levana turned into who she is.  I'm interested to see if I like it. (We'll stick Winter in here too, cause it comes out this year too!)
  • Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story by David Levithan - This is a musical as a novel about one of the best characters from Will Grayson, Will Grayson.  It cannot get better than that.
  • Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray - I'm excited to finally see what happens to this cast of characters!  
  • Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley - This cover. This summary!  And Neil Gaiman meets John Green?  Heck yes I'll give that a shot!
  • Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly - This book just sounds so adorable I can't even.  Also, the cover is SO CUTE!!!

  • Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams - A girl gets kidnapped by a serial killer and he might become her first victim?  Oh yes. 
  • The Devil You Know by Trish Doller - I love both of Trish's previous books and this one is a thriller, which is right up my alley!
  • The Remedy by Suzanne Young - A prequel to The Program that shows how it all started?  I foresee tears in my future.
  • The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury - The main character can't touch anyone, which reminds me of Shatter Me, but it sounds like it's gonna be set in more of a mid-evil time.  That sounds awesome!
  • The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma - I've loved Imaginary Girls and with this novel it sounds like she's getting back to that more magical realism thing, which has me super excited!

  • A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz - The description of this novel just sounds so beautiful I can't not read it.
  • Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider - I loved Schneider's first novel, The Beginning of Everything, and this book - which is about people with incurable tuberculosis - sounds like exactly something I would read. 
  • Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry - I'll read anything McGarry writes and this new series sounds HOT.
  • The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich - This is a psychological thriller made up of several things, including medical reports and video transcripts.  That sounds way cool!
  • The Rose Society by Marie Lu - The Young Elites was one of my top reads last year and I'm excited to see how the story continues.

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys edited by April Genevieve Tucholke - I added an extra book because this is an anthology. I love a lot of the authors contributing to this and the idea sounds awesome!

This is not even close to a list of the books I'm excited for to come out in 2015!  Ask me about more of them in the comments, on the facebook page, or on twitter!

A new year also means some resolutions to go along with it.  I decided that, to hold myself more accountable, I would write down a few of my book-related ones here!  These are in no particular order.

  1. I hope to read 100 books this year, which is 49 more than last year (or about double).
  2. With the increase in books I also hope to increase the number of posts I put up.  Reviews, giveaways, and just plain discussions!
  3. Whenever I go to a book signing I want to have read at least one book by the author (If there are more than one author at the event I want to have read at least one book by at least one author, more if there are 5+)! [Note: I tried this last year, it lasted less than a month.  We'll see if I can do it this year!]
  4. I want to write at least 350 words every day (here a "day" is a weekday that is not a national holiday.  That equals writing at least 252 days this year)!

I have extra copies of three 2015 ARCs and so I've decided that one winner will get to pick two of them to keep for themselves!  Below are the three titles I have extra copies of and all you have to do to win is enter via the rafflecopter!  And since this giveaway started a day after the one put up yesterday it will end on the 11th, instead of the 10th!

This giveaway is only open to people with US/Canadian mailing address because I am very broke and international shipping is expensive. Sorry to all of my international followers, there will be more giveaways for you in the future!

a Rafflecopter giveaway