Saturday, August 31, 2013

In My Mailbox 8-31-2013

 I didn't get many books in my mailbox. Today I got a surprise, though.

1. Today a got an ARC The Burning Sky in my mailbox!
2. These are most of the books I bought recently. Growing Wings from Half Price Books, The Ascension from Goodwill. Flesh and Bone from Barnes & Noble. The Fallen 5, the Fall of Five, Asylum, Frozen and The 100 are all from Meijer. They really expanded the YA section there.
3. The Epic Journeys Tour, featuring C.J. Redwine and Rae Carson, at Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville.
4. Me with C.J. and Rae. I gave C.J. a print out of the fan art I made her.
5. I also bought Deception at B&N, and the Crown of Embers at Anderson's.
6. Autograph in Defiance.
7. Autograph in Deception.
8. Autograph of the Crown of Embers.
9. Bookplate for Vortex.
10. Library books I checked out.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Undercurrent by Paul Blackwell

Series: Standalone
Genera: Sci-fi Mystery
Subjects: parallel universes, high school, suspense
Age/Grade Level: Teen
Length: 312 pgs.
HC/PB: Hardcover
List Price: $17.99
Publisher: HarperTeen
Summary/ product description: “In this suspenseful teen thriller with a touch of the otherworldly, a boy goes over a waterfall and wakes up to find himself in a twisted version of the life he knew. Why did his best friend try to kill him? Why are his parents acting like he’s a sports star all of a sudden? Worst of all, what happened to his older brother? Filled with mind-bending suspense and unsettling thrills, Undercurrent is a grippingly paced teen debut that will pull you under and never let go.”

My Review: There have been so many books lately about parallel universes. To name a few: Parallel Lauren Miller, Through to You by Emily Hainsworth, and Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris. So what sets this one apart from those. Well, for one, this was short, fast-paced, and an easy read. I read it in a day. It wasn’t boring. At times it felt like it could have been psychological. But as great as it was, it was pretty much not unique at all. It wasn’t even much of a mystery. It was interesting how his parallel’s life was different from his, but the story and plot itself was very predictable.
It wasn’t bad, but I really wish there was more sci-fi stuff in it. This is sci-fi lite. It felt like it would appeal to a younger audience even with the alcohol abuse, and swear words. It’s pretty much hi-lo fiction. (High interest, low reading level?) It’s the kind of book you want to read after reading something heavy and complicated, and long. Very easy to finish, and very well set typography. Nice and big.
I did enjoy the narration. Callum’s voice was pretty clear. It reminded me of my little brother. The Callum wakes up in a parallel world where he plays football, sell whisky at parties and makes out with the hottest girl in school. What I don’t get it that Callum didn’t realize sooner that this wasn’t a joke. That there was something seriously wrong and this isn’t his universe. Callum must not read or watch much sci-fi, or maybe he’s just not that bright. Really, you didn’t have to drag it out so long. It really reminded me of Parallel by Lauren Miller, but a much shorter and less complex version.
I did like the setting and the waterfall stuff. I’m pretty sure this is set in Canada, though it’s a made-up town. I’ve been to a lot of waterfalls in Wisconsin and Michigan, but this Crystal Falls sounds bigger.
I recommend this book to 14-year-old guys looking for something sci-fi-ish for their freshmen independent reading project. It’s perfect for that. Or if you just want a quick read. I don’t recommend buying the book, though. Order it from your library!
Cover Art Review: The guy on the cover looks like Alex Pettyferd or Tyler Posey. Other than the hot guy, the cover is pretty boring and plain. I like the waterfall on the spine though.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Defiance by C.J. Redwine

Series: Defiance (bk. 1)
Genera: Fantasy/Dystopian Sci-fi/Romance
Subjects: supernatural, post-apocalyptic, survival, adventure
Age/Grade Level: Teen
Length: 403 pgs.
HC/PB: Hardcover and Paperback
List Price: HC: $17.99 PB: $9.99
Publisher: HarperTeen: Balzer & Bray
Summary/ product description: “While the other girls in the walled city-state of Baalboden learn to sew and dance, Rachel Adams learns to track and hunt. While they bend like reeds to the will of their male Protectors, she uses hers for sparring practice.
When Rachel's father fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the city's brutal Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector: her father's apprentice, Logan—the boy she declared her love to and who turned her down two years before. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father's survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself.
As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can't be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.”

My Review: I didn’t know what to expect from this book. I thought it was going to be high fantasy, but was surprised to find that it wasn’t. It’s a little bit fantasy, but it’s more dystopian than anything. Defiance is set in a post-apocalyptic world about 50 years in the future after a dragon-like creature from the depths of the earth has burned most of civilization. What civilization is left has reverted back to living like the middle ages, but instead of kings and royalty, there’s the Commander. So it’s a dictatorship. There are walled city-states across the country, and smaller villages. (Baalboden is the city-state Rachel lives in. I think it’s in Tennessee.) Technology is scarce. Logan’s really into making tech, so we get to see some of his inventions.
I really loved the main characters. I loved how the story switched between Rachel and Logan’s first person, present tense POVs. Rachel is strong willed and independent. She’s the definition of the feisty and fierce redhead. She’s a great warrior, even if she can’t let others know it. And she’s got survival skill because her father was a courier and a tracker. Women in her society are looked down upon as weak and must always have a Protector with them. It’s very sexist and old fashioned. Rachel doesn’t want to be treated that way.
Logan, Rachel’s father’s apprentice, becomes her Protector after her father doesn’t return from a mission. Rachel’s angry about it at first, and makes a big deal about it in front of the Commander. Logan is a truly nice guy. He’s smart, creative and makes some pretty awesome inventions. He cares about Rachel. He’s kind of in love with her, even if he doesn’t realize it till he can’t get to her. I really like him, and the romance between both them. It’s not insta-love. It develops in a realistic way.
This book is non-stop action and a ton of romance. I never got bored. There were lot of details in the writing and descriptions. I think some of my favorite thing in this book were the Worst/Best Case Scenarios that Logan thought up. He’s so smart and think far ahead. He must have a really high IQ. A genius. And it sets him apart from other YA male love interests. The focus wasn’t on how hot he was, but on how intelligent he was and how he made Rachel feel.
This book was awesome. I recommend it to fans of Soulbound by Heather Brewer, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, The Selection by Kiera Cass, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, Incarnate by Jodi Meadows, Eve by Anna Carey, the Hunger Games, Divergent, and other dystopian series. Can’t wait to read Deception, book 2 of the Defiance series.
Cover Art Review: I love this cover so much! It’s Rachel with a really big cloak and trees. It’s so cool! Love the orange, purple and green color scheme. And it’s metallic matte paper! The sliced title is cool too.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Blood Prophecy by Alyxandra Harvey

Series: Drake Chronicles (bk. 6)
Genera: Paranormal Romance
Subjects: Vampires, hunters, supernatural, royalty, princesses, Canada
Age/Grade Level: Teen
Length: 440 pgs.
HC/PB: Hardcover and Paperback
List Price: $16.99/ PB: $9.99
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Summary/ product description: “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”

My Review: The 6th and final book of the Drake Chronicles was also the longest book in the series. Blood Prophecy is a wonderful, well resolved wrap up to an exciting vampire series.
The plot was pretty interesting. In this book, Solange is possessed by Viola. Viola takes the crown and uses Solange’s pheromones to give orders that can’t be refused. She’s putting in place archaic traditions and just being plain evil in general. Poor Solange, trapped in her mind. Nobody realizes that Viola is inside Solange, so Solange must fight her way out.
Also, there are murders that Solange is being framed for. They’re calling it the Dracula Killer. It’s still Blood Moon, so the vampire tribes are gathered. It’s possible that the killer could be another vampire, or even a human. I kind of got the tribe mixed up, but it was pretty cool to see their differences. My only complaint was the beginning of this book was kind of slow. And I didn’t like the memory flash-backs.
The Drake Chronicles is very character driven. Each book is from 2 different character’s
perspectives, usually the ones who fall in love in that book, or just the main protagonists. In Hearts at Stake, it was best friends Lucy and Solange Drake. In Blood Feud it was Logan Drake and Isabeau. In Out for Blood is was Hunter and Quinn Drake. In Bleeding Hearts it was Christabel. You get the point.
I’m so happy that this book switches between Lucy and Solange’s perspectives like in the 1st book. They’re such great protagonists! Solange POV is okay, but Lucy’s POV is where my favorite parts were. I know it’s stupid to say, but as a character, I love Lucy (aka Lucky). She is so funny and quirky. I bet she was also the funnest character to write. I’d want to be her friend, even if we’d get into trouble. In this book she’s still going to the Helios-Ra academy boarding school, and she get detention pretty often.
There were also one-chapter perspectives of Christabel, Isabeau, and Hunter. None from the Drake brothers, sadly, or even Kieran. But all the characters came together in this book. I still can’t decide which Drake brother is my favorite. Maybe Quinn, because his funny charming attitude. He reminds me of Damon from the Vampire Diaries.
This has been a very fun and lite vampire series. I’m sad to see if go be happy about how it ended. There’s a few novellas I can read still, so it’s not truly over yet.
Cover Art Review: Nice couple but kind of boring and generic. I like the vector design, but there’s not much else.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Spirit and Dust by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Series: Goodnight Family (bk. 2)
Genera: Paranormal Romance/Mystery/Adventure
Subjects: ghosts, psychic ability, supernatural, magic, kidnappings, Chicago, Illinois, Egyptian mythology
Age/Grade Level: Teen and New Adult (because Daisy is a college freshman)
Length: 384 pgs.
HC/PB: Hardcover
List Price: $17.99
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Summary/ product description: “Daisy Goodnight can speak to the dead. It’s not the result of a head injury or some near-death experience. She was just born that way. And she’s really good at it. Good enough to help the police solve the occasional homicide.
But helping the local authorities clear cold cases is one thing. Being whisked out of chemistry class by the FBI and flown to the scene of a murder/kidnapping in Minnesota? That’s the real deal.
Before the promotion can go to Daisy’s head, she’s up to her neck in trouble. The spirits are talking, and they’re terrified. There’s a real living girl in danger. And when Daisy is kidnapped by a crime boss with no scruples about using magic—and Daisy—to get what he wants, it looks like hers is the next soul on the line.”

My Review: I didn’t think it would be possible that this book would be better than Texas Gothic, the 1st book in the series, but this was way better. Ridiculously awesome. So many things I didn’t expect. The description barely tells you anything. This book is very different from Texas Gothic. They both have ghosts, but Texas Gothic didn’t have nearly as much action or adventure as Spirit and Dust.
Daisy Goodnight is psychic and can sense spirit energies, of remnants and connections. She can summon then with objects connected to them, talk to them and also help them move on. She’s very sarcastic and funny and wears girly-goth garb. She’s a redhead like her cousin Amy (the narrator of Texas Gothic) and has the same Goodnight determination. I think I like her more than Amy as a narrator. Daisy got a lot more spunk and feels more developed. I almost wish that there can be another book with her as the narrator, instead of a companions series with standalone-sequels. She’s the perfect strong protagonist with unique traits.
Then there’s the other characters. I though Agent Taylor would be the love interest, because he and Daisy had a thing, but that’s not the case.  Daisy meets Carson after being kidnapped by a mobster who’s the father of the kidnapped girl Alexis. Carson doesn’t seem like a hardened criminal. He’s pretty young and too nice. He and Daisy go a search for this Jackal artifact that’s the ransom for Alexis. Carson and Daisy’s romance is the total opposite of insta-love. She even starts to think that she has Stockholm syndrome because she starts to like him. The travel and she’s learns about him.
I also loved the setting. You’d think based off the description that this book would be set in Minnesota. Minnesota was really only the beginning of the book. I’d say 15% set in Minneapolis, Minnesota, 10% set in St Louis, Missouri, and 75% set in Illinois, and mainly Chicago and it’s museums. As a resident Chicagolander, this made me very excited. Another great book set in my home state? Awesome. And the final third or fourth or the book takes place in the Field Museum. My absolute favorite museum to go to. I’ve been there at least 5 times. Probably more. And yes, Sue the T. Rex is awesome. And I did see the Egypt exhibit in 4th grade, or 5th. There were a lot of animal mummies down there. I’m never been to the Oriental Institute Museum, but my mom’s been there.
I love the paranormal parts, especially the Egyptian Mythology. I didn’t know that there would be any Egyptian stuff going into this. It really started to remind me of Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles series. Looking for artifacts and some brotherhood and everything. I don’t want to spoil the book, but I think that more people would read this if they knew more about it. So it’s not just another ghost-story/murder mystery. This book turned out to be an unexpected surprise, and I really hope that Rosemary write a 3rd Goodnight book that’s even better. Maybe from Phin’s perspective? I still would like Daisy’s best.
Cover Art Review: Boring cover. It’s just an eye. Daisy’s eye, and a silhouette. There’s nothing that suggests the content.