Friday, December 28, 2012

Rebel Heart by Moira Young

Genre:  YA Fantasy (although it could very well be Dystopian as well)
Dust Lands, Book 2

Warning:  If you have not read the first book, then the below information can potentially spoil your appetite (or get you geared up and ready to read it).  It does contain spoilers from the first book.

Description (taken from Goodreads):
It seemed so simple: Defeat the Tonton, rescue her kidnapped brother, Lugh, and then order would be restored to Saba’s world. Simplicity, however, has proved to be elusive. Now, Saba and her family travel west, headed for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But the fight for Lugh’s freedom has unleashed a new power in the dust lands, and a formidable new enemy is on the rise.

What is the truth about Jack? And how far will Saba go to get what she wants? In this much-anticipated follow-up to the riveting Blood Red Road, a fierce heroine finds herself at the crossroads of danger and destiny, betrayal and passion.

The minute I started reading this, I realized I was in for another adventure.  It starts off with Jack's point of view.  He's off to deliver some grave news to one of his closest friends.  And of course, trouble tends to appear.  Meanwhile, Saba is having a hard time coping with all of the death caused by her hands.  She kind of goes a little nuts.  Personally, I though it was super fun to read from her point of view as she went off the deep end (but we all know I fell off the deep end a while back).

Anyways, Saba, Lugh, Emmi, and Tommo are heading West under the dreams of starting a new life.  But, somehow Saba finds out Jack's in trouble.  She's going to find him and drag him out of there if she has to.  And throughout it all, we find out that Saba is just as human as the rest of us; she makes mistakes and has to deal with them.  Suddenly though, nothing appears right.  Those you thought of as friends suddenly become your enemies, and your enemies your friends...

This is one of those books where you feel like loving the bad guy even though you know your supposed to hate him.  And that's my problem: I'm a sucker for bad guys.  Especially the ones that don't seem bad on the surface (and sometimes tend to trick my heart in the end by betraying it).

The only thing I can say I didn't like about this book (and it holds true with the first one) is the punctuation.  Not the writing style; I absolutely adore it.  I hate how we don't see quotations around conversations and people talking.  So some pages make it difficult to determine if Saba was thinking it or speaking it.  Oh and another thing is I really wanted to know what's Lugh's deal was.  He's a butt hole, and somehow I think there's a story behind him (but we don't see it in this novel).

For those who are in need of a different fantasy/dystopian, go pick up this series.  I highly recommend it.

Challenges:  Sensational Seconds and Young Adult Reading Challenge

Monday, December 24, 2012

Flock by Wendy Delsol

Genre:  YA Mythological Fantasy
Stork Series, Book 3

The climactic conclusion of a supernatural romantic trilogy starring a savvy, sharp-tongued heroine who taps into ancient Norse secrets.

After surviving her (shall we say) intense adventure in Iceland, Katla is psyched to be back for a blissfully uneventful senior year of homecoming and fashion explorations. But her hopes of dodging unfinished business are dashed by the arrival of two Icelandic exchange students: Marik, an oddly alluring merman-in-disguise, and Jinky, a tough gypsy girl. It seems Katla not only enraged the Snow Queen by rescuing her boyfriend, Jack, she also was tricked into promising her frail baby sister to the water queen — and Marik has come to collect. What’s worse, Katla doesn’t dare confide in anyone lest she endanger them, so even her soul mate, Jack, is growing suspicious. And now Katla’s stork dreams, her guide for matching babies with mothers, have become strange and menacing as well. Hold on for a thrilling finale as the heroine of Stork and Frost calls on her wits (and her wit) to protect those she loves and face a final mythic disaster.

The Stork series is a fun series to read.  It's full of Norse mythology, romance, and growing up.  I adored Katla and Jack's relationship.  And I'm kind of bummed that the series is all over now.

Katla, as we find out in Stork, has an ability to unite unborn souls with potential vessels (or moms in modern-day terms).  She's quite powerful and somehow has a knack to get herself into a lot of trouble.  Jack, on the other hand, is descended from Jack Frost.  Basically, he's your winter weatherman machine.  Did I mention this is all set in the freezing cold Minnesota?

Anyways, onto this book.  It focuses on Katla's emerging powers and her attempts to slow down the end of the world (as she sees it).  So many things happened in the first and second books.  And this book focuses on wrapping that up and leaving us with a happy ending.  And can you guess who's on the cover?  I had it figured out at the beginning but never understood why until the last ten pages.  Yes, that means I did not have all of the twists and turns figured out in this one.

And that ending?  Woah!  I'm having one of those moments where I want to gush and gush, but I can't. I can't ruin it for potential readers.  While I definitely did not want the ending to happen the way it happened, it truly was the perfect ending.  So yes, I have mixed emotions.

This is series that most people haven't heard of or picked up yet.  And I don't know why.  The mythology is beautiful, the originality is perfect, and they books make you feel good in the end.  I'd definitely recommend it to all my paranormal and mythology friends.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Guest Post and Giveaway: Fang Girl by Helen Keeble

Another intro to a book I've been wanting to read but just haven't yet (for some odd reason)...

Fang Girl by Helen Keeble
Genre:  YA Paranormal Fantasy

Description (taken from Xpresso Book Tours):
Things That Are Destroying Jane Greene’s Undead Social Life Before It Can Even Begin:

1) A twelve-year-old brother who’s convinced she’s a zombie.
2) Parents who are begging her to turn them into vampires.
3) The pet goldfish she accidentally turns instead.
4) Weird superpowers that let her rip the heads off of every other vampire she meets. (Sounds cool, but it doesn’t win you many friends.)
5) A pyschotic vampire creator who’s using her to carry out a plan for world domination.

And finally: 6) A seriously ripped vampire hunter who either wants to stake her or make out with her. Not sure which.

Being an undead, eternally pasty fifteen-year-old isn’t quite the sexy, brooding, angst-fest Jane always imagined....

Helen Keeble’s riotous debut novel combines the humor of Vladimir Tod with Ally Carter’s spot-on teen voice. With a one-of-a-kind vampire mythology and an irresistibly relatable undead heroine, this uproarious page-turner will leave readers bloodthirsty for more.

Three Things Vampires Don't Want You To Know
Guest Post by Helen Keeble

Vampires aren't real. If they were, they couldn't stay hidden for long, right? Thanks to the endless books, films, and TV shows filled with vampiric lore, we all know how to recognise a bloodsucker. And we all know their weaknesses - sunlight, beheading, fire, stakes, athletic teenage girls, holy water, garlic…

Or maybe that's just what the vampires want you to think are their weaknesses.

Delve a little deeper into traditional vampiric folklore, and there are a lot of weird things that don't appear in our modern vampire fiction. Things that maybe the vampires want to keep quiet…

1) They're just like unicorns

No, not because vampires are also beautiful and sparkly. Because, like unicorns, vampires are terrified of virgins. In fact, while unicorns are irresistibly drawn to virgins, according to Romanian folklore virgins are irresistibly drawn to vampires.

Actually, this is true in a lot of paranormal romances too, now that I come to think of it.

Anyway, all you have to do is stick a virgin on a white (or possibly black - sources vary) horse, and they'll be able to lead you straight to the grave of the nearest vampire. And if you use a woman older than 25, she’ll even be able to kill the vampire for you as well. Just get her to whip the vampire's grave with a hazel twig, and the bloodsucker will never be able to rise again.

Basically, older female virgins are homing missiles of mass vampire destruction. No wonder literature is full of vampires desperately trying to romance young girls. They have to neutralize them!

2) They float

"Big deal," I hear you say, rolling your eyes. "Ducks float. Boats float. What's so special about vampires floating?"

Because, according to our friend Romanian folklore again, vampires always float. They literally can't sink.

Folklore boringly suggests using this trait to determine if someone is a vampire by tossing them in a river, but just think of the many other uses for this peculiar property...

"This is the captain speaking. Unfortunately we have hit an iceberg and water is now pouring through the hull, but there is no need to be alarmed! The vampires strapped under the Titanic's hull make this ship literally unsinkable. While we repair the hole, please enjoy complimentary cocktails on the aft deck, and ignore the muffled screams of the tormented undead underneath your feet."

Vampires would definitely want to keep this one quiet. No bloodsucker wants to spend eternity stuffed under an airplane chair as an emergency floatation device.

3) You're probably always carrying the means to defeat one

Check your pockets or purse. Got some spare change? Maybe a half-eaten packet of breath mints? A tissue?

Congratulations! You can stop a charging vampire in his tracks.

All you have to do is fling a handful of small objects at him, and he'll be compelled to stop in order to count them all. No, really. The technical term for this behaviour is arithmomania, and it crops up everywhere in vampire folklore, all around the globe. Poland, Romania, China, India, pretty much everywhere has legends about obsessive-compulsive vampires. Though curiously, it seems to have fallen out of favour in modern vampire fiction.

Apart, of course, from one famous case:

There you go. Incontrovertible proof that Sesame Street is written by vampire hunters, who are determined to make sure children everywhere know vampires' real weakness.

And now you do too.

P.S. Yes, I really do use one of these pieces of vampire folklore in my novel FANG GIRL. And no, I'm not going to tell you which one…

Author Bio:  Helen Keeble
Helen Keeble is not, and never has been, a vampire. She has however been a teenager. She grew up partly in America and partly in England, which has left her with an unidentifiable accent and a fondness for peanut butter crackers washed down with a nice cup of tea. She now lives in West Sussex, England, with her husband, daughter, two cats, and a variable number of fish. To the best of her knowledge, none of the fish are undead.

Her first novel, a YA vampire comedy called FANG GIRL, is out 11th Sept 2012, from HarperTeen.

She also has another YA paranormal comedy novel (provisionally titled NO ANGEL) scheduled for Sept 2013.

This giveaway is international and ends Tuesday, December 25.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly post hosted by Breaking the Spine, and it spotlights upcoming books that we as readers are anxiously awaiting...

Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs
Genre:  Adult Urban Fantasy
Mercedes Thompson Series, Book 7
Patricia Briggs' website
Expected publication date:  March 5, 2013
Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads

Description (taken from Goodreads):
Shapeshifter Mercy Thompson's life is calming down, at least enough that she can focus on mundane matters like Black Friday sales. But on her return, Mercy is unable to contact her mate, Alpha Adam Hauptman, or the other members of their pack. All she knows is that Adam is angry and in pain. With the werewolves fighting a political battle to gain acceptance from the public, Mercy fears Adam's disappearance may be related - and that he and the pack are in serious danger. Outclassed and on her own, Mercy may be forced to seek assistance from the most unlikely of allies: the vampire seethe.

While I wasn't too impressed by the last Mercedes Thompson book, I'm hoping this one will bring the series off my back burner.  Although I must say, Patricia Briggs' other series, Alpha and Omega, has become one of my favorites to read.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Top Ten Books I Read In 2012

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's post is Top Ten Books I Read In 2012.

So this post would be super easy if I could just list all of my favorite books this year.  Alas, I must keep it at ten.  This should be fun...

A Million Suns by Beth Revis
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Divergent by Veronica Roth

The Diviners by Libba Bray
Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Fair Game by Patricia Briggs
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

Last Breath by Rachel Cain
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Shadow Heir by Richelle Mead

Monday, December 17, 2012

Book Blitz and Giveaway: Spellbound by Nikki Jefford

An introduction to a new series that's grabbed my interest.  And the cover just looks so cold and snowy...

Entangled by Nikki Jefford
Genre:  YA Paranormal Fantasy
Spellbound Series, Book 1

Description (taken from Xpresso Book Tours):
Two months after dying, seventeen-year-old witch Graylee Perez wakes up in her twin sister Charlene’s body.

Until Gray finds a way back inside her own body, she’s stuck being Charlene every twenty-hour hours. Her sister has left precise instructions on how Gray should dress and behave. Looking like a prep isn’t half as bad as hanging out with Charlene’s snotty friends and gropey boyfriend.

The “normals” of McKinley High might be quick to write her behavior off as post-traumatic stress, but warlock Raj McKenna is the only person who suspects Gray has returned from the dead.

Now Gray has to solve the mystery of her death and resurrection and disentangle herself from Charlene’s body before she disappears for good.

Duplicity by Nikki Jefford
Spellbound Series, Book 2

Description (taken from Xpresso Book Tours):
If Graylee Perez thought sharing a body with her twin sister was bad, dealing with a duplicate of herself is two times worse. Gray the second doesn’t seem to get that Lee’s boyfriend, Raj McKenna, is off limits. Then there’s the problem of Adrian Montez. He expects one of the Grays to be his.

Nearly a year later, the council is onto them for past misdeeds; Lee, along with the rest of the coven, has lost control of her powers; and Gray is being stalked by what looks like the Grim Reaper.

If they work together, they may stand a chance of setting things right and making it out alive.

Enchantment by Nikki Jefford
Spellbound Series, Book 3
Expected publication date: April 2013

Description (taken from Xpresso Book Tours):
In the third and final installment of the Spellbound series, Graylee Perez (the duplicate), goes to Spain for a summer of escape. There she meets new friends and comes face to face with her old adversary, Adrian Montez.

When Gray tries to setup a spell that will banish Adrian from her life, she inadvertently falls under a love spell instead.

Charlene returns, having hijacked a new body, for one final battle between the twins.

Author Bio:  Nikki Jefford
Nikki Jefford is a third generation Alaskan who loves fictional bad boys and heroines who kick butt. She writes edgy teen fiction, including the Spellbound Trilogy and Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter.

Nikki married S├ębastien, the love of her life, while working as a teaching assistant in France. They now reside in the not-so-tropical San Juan Islands, 70 miles northeast of Forks, Washington.

There will be two giveaways here.  The first is for a "Reading is Sexy" sticker and signed swag (Entangled bookmark and Aurora Sky door hanger).  This giveaway is open internationally and ends on Monday, December 24.  Entries include free entry, tweets, and following people.  The second giveaway is a blitz giveaway.  It is open internationally and ends on Thursday, December 27.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

Genre:  YA Paranormal Romance
Anna, Book 2

Description (taken from Kendare Blake's website):
It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.

Before I share my thoughts on this book, I have to point out that it has been over a year since I first read the first book in this series.  And I think somewhere between then and now, I fell off of the Anna train. It's been six months since Anna sacrificed herself to save Cas and his friends.  And Cas hasn't gotten over this moment.  In fact, he's being constantly haunted by Anna.

I felt disconnected with this book.  Like I couldn't remember enough of the first to enjoy this one.  All of the memories of Anna and being constantly reminded of her, I felt like Cas was just dealing with some hard times, nothing supernatural (other than the ghost aspect).  And that kind of resulted in a rough beginning for me.  To put it bluntly, I was bored for the first half.

But then we meet some interesting characters.  And Cas' athame gets explained.  And we pretty much get to see Hell form Cas' eyes.  It's uber creepy and really fun to read about.  I was very engrossed with the last fifty pages, and they totally made the book worth it.  But then it ended, and I felt kind of let down.

I absolutely adored the first book in this series, Anna Dressed in Blood.  But this second was a letdown for me.  So my suggestion is for people to pick up both of these books and read one right after the other.  You may have a better experience than I did...

Thanks goes to Tor Teen for providing me a review copy.

Challenges:  Sensational Seconds and Young Adult Reading Challenge
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