In My Mailbox (5)

Sunday, September 30, 2012 9:52 AM
In My Mailbox is hosted at The Story Siren. It's where bloggers can post all the books and goodies they bought, borrowed, received, etc over the last week.

I really need to stop buying books, but this fall has been full of new releases. And well, books just end up multiplying in my room. They have to be breeding. What would the baby of a Jennifer Armentrout book and a Veronica Roth book look like?



My mom went on a business trip and brought me home souvenirs from the airport. I missed her so. 

Purchased (Columbus Airport): 
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Slammed by Colleen Hoover

The airport bookstore had two bookshelves and she managed to find the only two books worth buying. Thanks Mom! Though I can't stand the movie cover on Perks. Why do they do this? Now I'll just imagine Hermione and Percy as the main characters, and I hate that.

Purchased (Amazon): 

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days #1) by Susan Ee
Cursed by Jennifer L. Armentrout (just finished this one!)
Tiger's Curse (The Tiger Saga #1) by Colleen Houck

I actually already have Angelfall in ebook form, but it finally came out in paperback, and I NEEDED it. I love this book so much, and it is at such a great price. 


Purchased (Kindle app): 
Kushiel's Dart (Phedre's Trilogy #1) by Jacqueline Carey

The cover freaks me out, but I've heard people raving about this series so I thought I'd try it out. Not a bad price on Kindle either. 

What's your IMM or STS? 

Happy reading,

Courtney

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson Book Review

Friday, September 28, 2012 8:00 AM
Title: The Crown of Embers
Author: Rae Carson
Published: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Series: Fire and Thorns #2
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Pages: 416
Source: Purchased
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

“I love you the way a drowning man loves air. And it would destroy me to have you just a little.” 
― Rae CarsonThe Crown of Embers

*Warning: This book review contains spoilers for The Girl of Fire and Thorns*

Synopsis
Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her - except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. 

As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone's power. That is not all she finds. (Goodreads)

My Thoughts
I decided to do away with star ratings. It was too limiting and I was becoming more and more indecisive. I don't want to pick from a scale of 1-5 or 1-10, and I hope my reviews will speak for themselves. 

The Crown of Embers just blew me away. Usually, I'm disappointed in a sequel, but this was far from the case with this series. The Crown of Embers was even better than The Girl of Fire and Thorns. I never lost interest for a second, even if there wasn't necessarily action. The political intrigue, character development, and enthralling storyline had me from the beginning. I really felt that Joya d'Arena came alive for me with Carson's words. Her vivid description of this fantasy world, a hybrid of Spanish and Italian inspiration, left nothing to be desired. Her writing style flows beautifully, and my eyes were aching to see this world for real. 

Elisa and her country are still recovering from a battle with the Inviernos, and Carson manages to show us how Joya D'Arena is faring in every part of the country without even traveling there. We capture bits and pieces of the country's suffering from Elisa's travels, but we mainly witness its troubles from her discussions with advisers and other political figures. Elisa is also having difficulty ruling as a foreign queen, and Carson does not disappoint in showing scenes where Elisa's queenship is challenged or the queen herself is threatened. As always, Elisa is unfailingly clever in all of her decisions, but she also struggles with her insecurity as a capable queen, causing her to make mistakes along the way. She is a very believable character, and truly awe-inspiring. I liked how there was less focus on her eating habits and her weight than in the first book. There are scenes where she still deals with her low self-esteem, but these were done really well and seemed to flow naturally. I still wish we had a little more background about why she was compulsively eating in the first place and why she gained weight. But overall, her appearance is not a major concern in this book, and we learn so much more about her character and her loyalty to her loved ones. I just love Elisa, and I admire her greatly. 

Hector. I never thought I'd wax poetic about a guy named Hector, but this romance was all I could have dreamed for and so much more. When Humberto died in the last book, I pretty much figured Elisa and him were over. Death is kind of a deal breaker in a relationship. Well, desert boy and the queen weren't really going anywhere with her being married and all. Oh wait, buh bye Alejandro. After Humberto kicked the bucket, I was rooting for Hector to be her next beau. So I freaked out when I heard he was, in fact, the romantic interest. I loved him just as much as I did in the first book. Their romance is so much more than lust or simple romantic love because Hector is also Elisa's friend and protector, adding so many intricate layers to their relationship. There is no easy route for the romance between a queen and the commander of her guard, and I respect Carson for not choosing the easy way out as their struggle to be together is evident. I love these two together. Hector is too sweet. And while the romance is not the main focus of the book, it is certainly an important addition. 

In The Crown of Embers, Elisa comes even closer to her destiny as the Godstone bearer. She also has some close brushes with death as an assassin emerges. It was such a fantastic, adventurous story. Crown of Embers is not all happy go lucky, but the dark parts just make it all the more richer and complete. I loved when Elisa put her smart hat on and devised a plan. She is something fierce. And the characters on the sidelines, from devoted friends to vicious backstabbers, are all wonderfully developed.

All I have to say is read this book now. There's no reason to wait. It's that awesome, and I finished it in record timing. I could not put it down. The Bitter Kingdom isn't expected until fall of 2013. This is going to be a long and brutal wait. 

Happy reading,

Courtney

Onyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout Book Review

Wednesday, September 26, 2012 9:00 AM

Title: Onyx
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published: August 14, 2012
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Series: Lux #2
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Pages: 328
Source: Purchased
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

"I could always give you a teaser. You bookish people love teasers, don't you?" ― Jennifer L. Armentrout, Onyx

*Warning: Spoilers for Obsidian ahead!*

Synopsis
Being connected to Daemon Black sucks…

Thanks to his alien mojo, Daemon's determined to prove what he feels for me is more than a product of our bizarro connection. So I've sworn him off, even though he's running more hot than cold these days. But we've got bigger problems.

Something worse than the Arum has come to town…

The Department of Defense are here. If they ever find out what Daemon can do and that we're linked, I'm a goner. So is he. And there's this new boy in school who's got a secret of his own. He knows what's happened to me and he can help, but to do so, I have to lie to Daemon and stay away from him. Like that's possible. Against all common sense, I'm falling for Daemon. Hard.

But then everything changes…

I've seen someone who shouldn't be alive. And I have to tell Daemon, even though I know he's never going to stop searching until he gets the truth. What happened to his brother? Who betrayed him? And what does the DOD want from them—from me?

No one is who they seem. And not everyone will survive the lies…

My Thoughts
I was nervous that Onyx wouldn't live up to my high expectations after I loved Obsidian so much. But there was no need to be worried because Onyx was even better. This series has taken me by storm. It is a roller coaster of emotion, an action-packed thrill ride. There's the beautiful Luxen, with their insane powers, and then the terrifying, formidable villains in the form of the Arum and the DOD (Department of Defense).

Daemon. Oh god. I hate to go all fangirl here, but you have competition, Will Herondale. I didn't feel all warm and fuzzy towards Daemon in Obsidian, but all of that changed in Onyx. Daemon went from sexy, charming douche bag to sexy, charming I want to marry you and have your alien babies. He was unpredictable but oh so lovable. And still devoted as ever to family. While Katy was stubborn and indecisive, I was happy she didn't give into his advances immediately considering Daemon's past behavior. I can understand her cautiousness, not wanting to get her heart broken. I'm a big fan of complicated romances where the two characters have to work towards a relationship, coming to terms with their problems. I hate when it's all butterflies and skipping through meadows. You have to throw a monkey wrench in the works every so often. I was happy that Armentrout didn't follow the easy route, and she made Daemon and Katy's relationship more realistic (or as realistic as it can be with an alien in the mix).

This book was a perfect blend of dark and light, just like the Luxen are beings of light and the Arum are beings of shadow. I loved how well Armentrout balanced the humorous and then the more meaningful scenes. Once again, I found myself laughing aloud. Here's a few great lines:

"I always liked you. From the moment you first flipped me off."

"Oh holy alien babies everywhere!"

"Jesus." Blake rubbed his throat. "You have anger management problems. It's like a disease."
"There's a cure and it's called kicking your ass."

"Dogeared pages were Antichrist of book lovers everywhere."

And there are so many more funny moments. But along with the humor, there were definitely some darker parts. This book revealed so many more threats and dangers, and I was genuinely worried for Katy and Daemon's safety. I loved how Armentrout didn't sacrifice the intense scenes for the sake of a fun read. There were so many wonderful twists, and I learned a lot more about the Luxen. It was enthralling, and I could not get enough. Not to mention the awesome fight scenes. There was not a slow moment in this book. I could not stop reading, and I wish I could read it all over again fresh.

There is another guy in this book: California surfer boy Blake Saunders. But before you panic, let me reassure you that there is no need to worry about a love triangle. Blake definitely adds something to the story, and there are so many fascinating developments. But, thank god, there is no love triangle. I will say no more.

If you have yet to read Obsidian or Onyx, please do so right this instant. If you love gripping, edge of your seat reads with aliens and fight scenes that were made for a cinema, than this series is perfect for you. As Katy so aptly puts in her own book review on her blog, Onyx is a "forget your homework, don't feed your kids, and quit your job one-sit read." These books kept me up insanely late, tearing through the pages (as much as you can on an Ipad) until I was finished. I didn't want to eat or sleep or work because those were all unnecessary distractions from Daemon. I need Opal right this instant. Not tomorrow. Not next month. NOW. It's expected in December, but I can't wait any longer!

Happy reading,

Courtney

Waiting on Wednesday (8) - Prophecy by Ellen Oh

12:00 AM
Waiting on Wednesday is my favorite meme because Friday is only two days away and I get all excited about upcoming releases! It's hosted over at Breaking the Spine, and it's where you post a book you're eagerly awaiting and its release date just can't come fast enough.

Prophecy by Ellen Oh
Publisher: HarperTeen
Expected Publication Date: January 2, 2013
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Synopsis
The greatest warrior in all of the Seven Kingdoms… is a girl with yellow eyes.

Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope…

Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first book in a trilogy. (Goodreads)

Why I'm Waiting
This book sounds like just my kind of read! Yes, some of its been done before. Seven Kingdoms = Westernos. And Kira's a strong female warrior, an exception in a world where the king's army is all male. Not to mention a prophecy and a romance with a young prince. I mean I'm assuming there will be a romance between Kira and the young prince. But I don't care that it resembles other reads. She has YELLOW EYES! That's enough to gain my interest. Pathetic, I know. Not to mention a Dragon King Prophecy and a Demon Lord. It's been awhile since I read a good book with demons. 

January needs to be tomorrow! I've seen bloggers with this ARC, and I am oh so jealous. But enjoy! And I can't wait to read your reviews.

What's your WoW?

Happy reading,

Courtney

Top Ten Series I Haven't Finished (7)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012 12:00 AM

Please excuse my blog's messy appearance. My new design is in the works thanks to my awesome, artistic friend who is writing the html. It will be beautified soon.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and it's where you post a Top Ten list following a bookish prompt. This week's Top Ten is:

Top Ten Series I Haven't Finished

1. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket - I deeply regret having not finished this series. I loved every book, and I have maybe three that I have yet to read. I just let too much time pass in between books and now I would have to read the whole series over from the beginning. I have to make time to read this series in its entirety. I even own all of the books. Nothing is stopping me but my procrastination. It's a fantastic series.
2. Pellinor by Alison Croggon - The Naming introduced me to a fantasy world I fell in love with. I loved learning about the world of Pellinor, and how one girl's destiny is revealed when she discovers her powerful gift. I have the second book, The Riddle, and I'm far from intimidated by the size of these books. Definitely finishing this series in the future!
3. House of Night by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast - I made it through maybe three of these before I gave up. I'm surprised I made it that far. I could not stand the protagonist Zoey. She was shallow, and she went from boy to boy and made the stupidest decisions. The characters were just so obnoxious, and, yeah, there were a lot of flaws. It was a struggle to finish even one of these books.
4. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones - I adored this book and the movie, but the book even more. The only excuse for why I have yet to read the other two books is that I own the third book and not the second book. Why? I have no idea. It is an enigma. I need to buy the sequel immediately.
5. Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber - This series was my guilty pleasure during high school. I have a place in my heart for Raven and her Goth style. I secretly wanted to be Goth in high school, and had a few accessories but never enough. While this series is far from spectacular, they're fun, quick reads. And when I say quick, I would finish one of these books in two hours. I read fast, but yeah, these books are easy reads. Definitely entertaining and humorous, good feel books.
6. The Dark Materials by Philip Pullman - This one is unforgivable. While I didn't love The Golden Compass as much as everyone else (though I was distracted while reading it), I still enjoyed it. I own the whole series so I have every intention of finishing it soon.
7. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl - I was not a huge fan of Beautiful Creatures so while I own Beautiful Darkness, I still have yet to read it. I didn't hate the first book, but the male narrator just didn't work for me. He didn't sound like a male, and I often forgot he was male and instead thought I was reading a female's POV. But I will eventually finish this series. And I'm stoked about the upcoming movie because the premise still rocks.
8. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick - Hush, Hush was all fanservice. It was all fluff and almost nothing substantial. I was not a fan so I won't finish the series.
9. The Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater - Shiver was on sale or I decided to buy it in the spur of the moment. Years later, I still have a nasty taste in my mouth. I kept trying to like it, but it was difficult to even finish the book. No Linger or Forever for me.
10. Sookie Stackhouse by Charlaine Harris - Big fan of True Blood here. I think I got to maybe 8 or 9 in this series? I have almost the entire series sitting on my bookshelf, and it's so confusing figuring out the order and which ones I read. I love how fun this series is, but it does get a bit repetitive and the different books all start to blur into one another, none of them really standing out with unique plots. But there's plenty of juicy scenes and a different mystery to solve in each book.





As you can tell, I have so many books that are just sitting on my shelves. Some of them have been there for years, waiting to be read. Need to get on that.

What's your Top Ten?

Happy reading,

Courtney

Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout Book Review

Monday, September 24, 2012 9:00 AM
Title: Obsidian
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published: November 29, 2011
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Series: Lux #1
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Pages: 271
Source: Purchased
Rating: 4 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

“Beautiful face. Beautiful body. Horrible attitude. It was the holy trinity of hot boys.” 
― Jennifer L. ArmentroutObsidian

Synopsis
Starting over sucks.

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I'd pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring.... until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something...unexpected happens. 

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon's touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I'm getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades. 

If I don't kill him first, that is. (Goodreads) 

My Thoughts 
Yes, it's yet another Obsidian review. The overwhelming flood of Obsidian reviews should be the incentive you need to pick up this book and read it. I have to admit that when I hear about a book that has a lot of hype, I want to hate it. No idea why. But with this book, the hype was completely deserved. I loved it. It was a thrilling read that takes every cliche and either twists it or mocks it. 

Katy was such an awesome female lead. First off, she's a book blogger. That idea can only be called brillance. All book lovers can't help but adore her. Katy and I had so much in common, and that made it even easier for me to connect with her. I loved that she felt a certain reverence for books, fearful of dog-earing them, and how excited she was when new books arrived. Definitely a kindred soul. She also was a force to be reckoned with. She stood up for herself and didn't put up with Daemon's crap despite her attraction to him. While she was far from being a trained ninja, she wasn't afraid to defend herself in dangerous situations.

Daemon was a whole different story. I couldn't stand him for most of the book. Katy felt the same for the most part, but she couldn't deny her attraction to him. I liked how she didn't give into temptation and she told Daemon off time after time. When she defended herself, I couldn't help thinking you go girl. Even though Daemon was douchebag material, he had his nice moments and I couldn't help loving the sexual tension between the two of them. I'm a HUGE fan of romances where both characters can't stand each other initially and try to deny their feelings. Maybe they're star-crossed lovers or complete opposites, but it makes for an entertaining story. Much more entertaining than instalove. And you definitely have to wait for the romance here. There's the lovely tension throughout, but it takes almost the whole book for it to really reach a climax. And I loved that. Plus, it's well worth the wait. The chemistry between these two is fantastic, and there are some steamy, well-written scenes. It's definitely not all lust though. There's heart-warming moments too, and despite my initial dislike of Daemon, he really comes through. While his earlier behavior is inexcusable, he does have his reasons. 

While I generally avoid books that take place in high school, high school drama is almost absent in this book. If anything, it's used as a way to contrast the normal lives of teenagers and the alien reality that is existing alongside it. I loved Dee and Katy's other girlfriends. I found them amusing though Carissa and Lesa definitely take a backseat to the other characters, but they're really not involved in the alien side of things. They're there because I think Katy does want a normal life despite her getting all tangled up in Daemon and Dee's lives. She just wants to be a normal teenager, but that is so not happening. The premise was wonderful. I'm not usually into aliens besides Stephen King's The Tommyknockers, but I loved the Luxen's powers and their fight against the Arum. 

Obsidian was a little too close for comfort to Twilight. There were so many similarities that it was difficult to ignore the resemblance. Though I loved when Armentrout parodied Twilight. Like when Katy says: 
“Will you show me what you really look like? You don't sparkle, do you?” 

and

"What are you? A vampire?"He rolled his eyes. "Are you serious?""What? You say you're not human, and that limits the pool of what you can be! You stopped a truck without touching it.""You read too much."

This book had some funny, memorable lines, and I laughed out loud more than once. But besides the alien twist, it did mirror Twilight closely. Girl moves to small town. Unnaturally good-looking male, that she has a strong attraction to, wants her to stay away from him. Yes, he can travel at unnaturally fast speeds and oh wait, he glows. Gorgeous male is definitely hiding a secret. Then there's the whole stopping a truck. Not the most original setup. Then Dee watches her while she's sleeping. That was actually hilarious, and I loved Katy's reaction. 

Besides that, this book was so much better than Twilight, and I really shouldn't be comparing. I mean, Daemon was far from the martyr figure. I can't be with you. I can't live without you. I can't be with you. Though he definitely acted bipolar. And Katy wasn't a danger to herself, tripping all over her own feet, basically falling into sharp things and almost dying everywhere. She was nothing like Bella. 

Overall, this book had me hooked. I stayed up way too late reading this baby. I could not get enough of Katy and Daemon. I immediately bought Onyx and I'm officially addicted. If you love action-packed, thrilling reads that are dripping with sexual tension, basically made to have you wanting more, then read this book NOW. Armentrout definitely has a new fan in me. Just ordered Cursed. 

Happy reading,

Courtney

In My Mailbox (4)

Sunday, September 23, 2012 12:00 AM

In My Mailbox is hosted over at The Story Siren and it's where you post all of the books, book swag, and goodies you received, bought, borrowed, promised your firstborn child for, etc. in the past week.


Kindle books: 
Whispers in Autumn (The Last Year #1) by Trisha Leigh (on sale)
Onyx ( Lux #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout (reading this one now and loving it!)
The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns #2) by Rae Carson (definitely reading this next!)


Purchased (Target):

3 books for the price of one? You bet my Lucky Charms I bought this! Even though one's a prequel. I've been hearing great things about this series. And banshees? Heck to the yes! 

What's your IMM or STS?

Happy reading, 

Courtney

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan Book Review

Saturday, September 22, 2012 9:00 AM
Title: Unspoken 
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Published: September 11, 2012
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Series: The Lynburn Legacy #1
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Pages: 370
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

“You’re crazy,” said her best friend, Angela, as the bell rang to signal five minutes before the first class on the first day back at school.
“They said that about all the great visionaries.”
“You know who else they said it about?” Angela demanded. “All the actual crazy people.” 
― Sarah Rees BrennanUnspoken

Synopsis
Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him? (Goodreads)

My Thoughts
I have been anxiously awaiting this book for months. It was love at first sight. As in, I saw the cover and screamed I want now! I had such high expectations for this book. Unfortunately, while the book was enjoyable, it lacked a certain something. That extra magic that transforms a good book into a fantastic book. 

Unspoken had the potential for greatness. The characters were extremely quirky, and their conversation was entertaining. I adored Kami. Who am I kidding? Kami made the book. With her witty banter and spunkiness. Here's a couple of examples: 
“Put the jerk in the south wing, you won't see him for weeks at a time. Or lock him in the attic. The law will not be on your side, but literary precedent will.” 
or
“ 'What's going on with you?' Jared asked out of the blue.
'Beginning a new era of journalistic history,' Kami told him, sending her cheer through their connection. 'Also, to be perfectly honest, Angela and I were slapping our asses. As one does.' ”
She was somebody I would love to be best friends with. Her enthusiasm was contagious and I found her hilarious. I loved that she was a writer too! Her curiosity was dangerous but so infectious. She was bold and outspoken, and I loved how fearless she was when in danger. 

The names were so creative and amusing. Sorry-in-the-Vale and the Sorrier River. The quaint, little, everybody knows everybody town had its secrets, as any small town does. The book was beautifully written, almost poetic. The vivid descriptions of the town, the Lynburn mansion Aurimere, and the woods instilled in me a longing to enter the pages and see these places for myself. The Gothic and mystery elements were also a nice touch. While the town was described as beautiful, there was a darkness behind that beauty, lurking in the shadows. The Lynburn family certainly had a macabre taste in interior decorating. I found Kami's little Snoopy gang and her role as Nancy Drew amusing. And the premise was certainly unique and fascinating. I wish I had thought this stuff up. 

While I loved the town and the storyline, I found it difficult to connect with the characters. Besides Kami, I felt the other characters fell flat. I just needed more character development or richer scenes with Ash, Holly, and Angela. At first, Angela's laziness and rude comments were amusing, but then it became annoying. I needed all of the characters to be more fleshed out. Not knowing more about the characters didn't work towards the mystery of the novel. It just annoyed me and I shouldn't have to wait till the second book for more characterization. I even felt distanced from Jared. We were only given snatches of his feelings or a general impression of his character. I was impartial about who Kami ended up with, whether it was Ash or Jared, because I wasn't fully invested in the characters. There were also a lot of slow parts in the book where the plot dragged along, and nothing really happened except Kami researching or trying to figure out who she had feelings for. While the book was entertaining, it lacked a certain substance, an oomph

As for the Lynburns, I was unimpressed. The whole town is terrified of them, but they weren't convincing villains. It seemed Kami's unraveling of the town secrets came way too easily. People resist her questions at first, but then suddenly the Lynburns are telling her everything. While there are some unique twists and developments, the plot takes a predictable route. And then that nasty cliffhanger = me frustrated beyond belief. 

This book was a fun read, but it lacked something. Will I read the next one? Most likely. Once I start a series, I pretty much feel committed to it. But I won't rush to buy the sequel immediately. I can wait awhile.

Feature and Follow #6

Friday, September 21, 2012 12:19 PM

Feature and Follow is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. Two blogs are featured every week and it's a chance to find new followers and amazing new blogs to follow in return.

This Friday's question is...drumroll please...

What hyped up book do you think was worth all the talk?

Angelfall by Susan Ee
Publisher: Feral Dream
Release Date: May 21, 2011

It's difficult to find a negative review of Angelfall, and for good reason. I loved every page of this book! It was a fantastic read. Don't let the low pricing fool you. This book can be found at crazy low prices and it's still amazing! The paperback edition just came out, and I'll be definitely buying it. I want to physically hold it in my hands (creepy, I know). Cannot wait for the sequel!

Here's my Angelfall Review!

What's your hyped up book you loved?


Happy reading, 

Courtney

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire Book Review

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 8:00 AM
Title: Beautiful Disaster
Author: Jamie McGuire
Published: May 26, 2011
Publisher: Jamie McGuire
Series: Beautiful #1
Genre: New Adult Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 416
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

“It's dangerous to need someone that much. You're trying to save him and he's hoping you can. You two are a disaster." I smiled at the ceiling. "It doesn't matter what or why it is. When it's good, Kara... it's beautiful.” 
― Jamie McGuireBeautiful Disaster

Synopsis
The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate percentage of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance between her and the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University's Walking One-Night Stand. 

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match. (Goodreads)

My Thoughts
Beautiful Disaster rendered me speechless. No lie. When I finished, I sat there, mouth hanging open, and completely at a loss for words. I simply could not believe I had read a book with an average premise, characters that I should despise, and a plot that was an emotional roller coaster and still didn't utterly despise it. I devoured this book; I might as well have inhaled the pages, as I flew through them so fast. I wouldn't call Beautiful Disaster a spectacular read, or consider it mind-blowing in the slightest, but it was certainly entertaining.

To preface my review, Beautiful Disaster has been receiving its fair share of negative reviews attacking the author and the book. But people must realize that there are going to be times when you don't like main characters or how they behave. Abby and Travis are both messed up, which is understandable considering their pasts, and that makes them such a perfect match because they both have issues and are the only ones who can probably put up with each other. By creating these characters, McGuire is not implying that she condones their behavior. Just like an author who writes a book with a murderer or rapist isn't supporting their behavior (an extreme comparison, I know). The director of Dexter isn't saying serial killers are acceptable. The same goes for Beautiful Disaster. Travis and Abby are two screwed up individuals that somehow find an unsteady love and try to hold onto it despite their faults. The accusations against the book and author are ridiculous. If you don't like the book, that's perfectly alright. Everybody has their different interests. But please don't call the book  or author anti-feminist or woman-hating just because it reveals a darker reality. In the case of Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff was far from a wonderful person towards Cathy and vice versa. Does the book display wrong, unhealthy behavior? Sure. So does The Bell Jar and a hundred other classics. Don't even get me started with Lolita (loved it but it disturbed me greatly).

As for the author attacking reviewers and tweeting about their one star reviews, I have nothing to say on that. I'm reviewing the book, not the author.

Alright, I got off track. Enough defending the book and author and on with the review. I found Beautiful Disaster to be both painful and lovely. It had such a tragic beauty to it. I love books with dysfunctional, complex characters, and Travis's and Abby's relationship was, well, a beautiful disaster (hence the appropriate title). Both of them made stupid decisions, and I didn't love them all of the time, but I became invested in their relationship, hoping they could finally reach some happy balance. It's like watching a car crash, not being able to tear your eyes away, because Travis and Abby have far from a perfect relationship. There are many devastating moments, but there are also touching, heart-warming scenes that moved me.

I think the plot synopsis for Beautiful Disaster is a bit misleading because I wouldn't necessarily call Abby a "good girl". She loves to drink at clubs and parties. She's not a wild woman, but she can put them down. I couldn't help but like her despite how she leads on both Travis and Parker (oh poor Parker) and has trouble accepting her feelings for Travis. I liked how she wasn't the stereotypical, dorky girl, who doesn't know she's gorgeous and is corrupted by the bad boy. As for Travis, I think most people expect him to be more abusive than he actually is. He never physically abuses Abby, although he's not squeamish about throwing punches when it comes to men that approach her or insult her. He's never verbally abusive either (at least to Abby). Yes, he has jealousy issues and is extremely overprotective. And he treated other girls, besides Abby and America, like crap. Did I support that? Of course not. But he isn't the monstrous boyfriend I was expecting. Though he certainly isn't perfect. 

I loved that Beautiful Disaster took place in a college setting unlike the usual high school scene. For the most part, I'm not a fan of books that take place in high school because I don't want to read about high school drama. I had enough of that when I went to school. Of course, college has its own drama, but I like having the main characters older. With college students, you don't have to deal with the parental supervision and the characters constantly fearing that they'll be grounded because they snuck out late to see their vampire boyfriend or whatever they do in the YA book you're reading. The college scene was very realistic, especially the parties, and I found myself loving all the characters, especially Shepley and America. While the frat brothers and football players acted like jerks at times, they had their nice moments and were very amusing. 

While Beautiful Disaster had me hooked from the beginning, I must admit that I found the storyline to be a tadbit predictable, as it's a story I've seen unravel many a time. It's an overused plot line, one I am all too familiar with where the "player" suddenly changes his ways in order to catch the one girl that can "fix" him. It may not have been unique, but somehow, I still enjoyed it. There were no unexpected twists or surprises, and I wasn't blown out of the water, but I still couldn't put it down. It's a fast-paced, addictive read that has you flying through the pages despite its unoriginality. 

My main complaint with Beautiful Disaster is that it was hard for me to completely buy Travis's shift from one night stands to full commitment. Yes, many girls want to be the "exception," the one who tames the bad boy and makes him commit, but we all know it's unlikely to happen. Abby was actually Travis's exception because after he met her, no other girl mattered. Travis did a complete 180 in such a short amount of time. He turned into this clingy, love-stricken guy who buys a girl a puppy for her birthday. While I loved that he changed and transformed into the guy Abby was looking for, I wasn't completely convinced. He did have some flaws still and some definite anger issues (not directed towards Abby), but he turned out to be a devoted boyfriend after being a hook up guy for so long, which is entirely unrealistic. Oh, and I also wasn't a fan of some of the names. Just me being nitpicky, but seriously Brazil and America? Where's Germany, Australia, and Cuba? 

This was a long review, but I had to express my feelings about this book fully. I hate that people are having to defend their love for certain books. I enjoyed it, and I'm still not entirely sure why. I don't think this should be a series, and I'm upset this is not a standalone as I initially thought. The ending had closure for me. Walking Disaster, expected on April 16, 2013, will tell the events of Beautiful Disaster from Travis's POV. I'm not a big fan of books that are essentially the same story told from a different POV, and I have to admit this seems rather pointless. I doubt I'll read it, but it may be a series to consider if you like reading a story told from multiple POVs.

Happy reading,

Courtney

Wishlist Wednesday (3) - A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

12:00 AM

I decided to mix things up this week and post for Wishlist Wednesday instead of Waiting on Wednesday. Wishlist Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Pen to Paper where you post a book that is on your wishlist (could have just made it on there or it may have been haunting you for awhile) and that you can't wait to own.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Publisher: Walker Books
Release Date: March 5, 2011
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Synopsis
The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting. He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming...

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth. (Goodreads)

Why I'm Wishing I discovered this book in my local bookstore and I was immediately drawn by the cover and the artwork inside. I may not be a child anymore, but I still love pictures! From just the cover, it looks like some creepy version of The BFG. If you are a devoted follower, you know I love me some dark stories with children and menacing monsters. I must be messed up in the head. But this book has gotten such wonderful reviews so I will have to try this out. It was just added to my endless Amazon wishlist and I hope it is removed soon.

What's on your wishlist or what are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Happy reading,

Courtney

Top Ten Bookish People You Want to Meet (6)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012 12:00 AM

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at the The Broke and the Bookish and it's where you post a Top Ten list according to a bookish theme. This week's Top Ten Tuesday is:

Top Ten Bookish People You Want to Meet (authors, bloggers, etc)

1. Stephen King - I idolize King. I have loved every single one of his books that I have read so far, and I've read A LOT of his stuff. My mom read him to me when I was in the womb. He's my favorite author, and I think I would go into shock if I met him, but it should happen. In a haunted house or abandoned junkyard with a demon dog. I can't picture him in a Starbucks or Panera.

2. J.K. Rowling - She's going to be on a lot of Top Ten lists this week, but what Harry Potter fan wouldn't want to meet the author behind such a wonderful series? If I could name the location of where our rendezvous would take place, it would be The Elephant House Cafe in Edinburgh, Scotland where she worked on scenes for her book. My friend told me there is Harry Potter decorations in the bathroom only.

3. Sylvia Plath - I'm going to cheat and say I now have the power to resurrect the dead. Plath is, if not my favorite poet, one of my favorite poets to have ever lived. I would love to meet and get inside her head a little. See what makes her tick, what everyday conversation would be like with the author of The Bell Jar (one of my favorite books ever). I imagine she would seem happier than you would expect. We could go for a bike ride because people are always less depressed when they release endorphins.

4. J.R.R. Tolkien - Please come back to life. I want to talk with you about The Shire and have you teach me Elvish. And you could tell me where the Entwives went. It bugs me. I wrote a short story on it, but it still bugs me. I want to know your brillant mind because you were obviously a genius. We could bake cookies in your kitchen or walk through a forest and pretend we're in Middle Earth.

5. Edgar Allan Poe - Apparently, I love hanging out with the Debbie Downers, but Poe and I would meet in a dark manor (like the House of Usher), preferably with a raven watching over us. And I would try to make him smile. And I'd show him my Poe finger puppet. I think he'd love that.

6. The Bronte sisters - I'd love to have dinner by candlelight with these gals in an old, neglected English mansion. Or walk along the moors and talk about depressing things. I'm sure they have all sorts of dark secrets and torrid fantasies. I wonder what their love lives were really like.

7. Jane Austen - To meet the author of Pride & Prejudice is unfortunately impossible unless we meet in the next life. But I'd love to ride in a carriage with her or just sit down to have a chat together over tea, talking about the new neighbors next door. *sigh*

8. Cassandra Clare - This author's actually alive. Thank goodness. I love her series; it's my guilty pleasure. I have so many questions to ask her. I would love to just hang out with her, and maybe we could grab Kiwi frozen yogurt or go shopping.

9. Neil Gaiman - After reading his tweets, I think Gaiman would be a fun person to spend time with. He seems to be just as weird as me, if not more. And I love Coraline, The Graveyard Book, and his Sandman comics! We could play video games or go bowling.

10. Leigh Bardugo - I loved Shadow and Bone, and Bardugo sounds like a really cool person. I think she'd be fascinating to talk to. I love her style and all of her sites (even if she didn't design them, I'm not sure if she did or not). Plus, she was born in Jerusalem, raised in Los Angeles, and went to Yale. And she's also a makeup artist. She has to have some amazing stories to tell. She could do my makeup and we could go clubbing or have a graveyard picnic.

Of course, there are so many more bookish people I would love to meet. Garth Nix, Fitzgerald, C.S. Lewis, Tamora Pierce, Emily Dickinson, and so on. But I was limited to ten and I behaved.

What's your Top Ten?

Happy reading,

Courtney

Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Monday, September 17, 2012 9:00 AM
Title: The Scorpio Races 
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Published: October 18, 2011
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Pages: 404
Source: Purchased
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“I hear laughter and someone asks if I need help, not in a nice way. I snarl, "What I need is for your mother to have thought a little harder nine months before your birthday.”
―Maggie Stiefvater, The Scorpio Races

Synopsis
It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
The Scorpio Races, you had me at water horses. At first, I was wary of this book because I was not a huge fan of Stiefvater's Shiver. But I enjoyed The Scorpio Races so much more, and I have no regrets. This book wasn't what I was expecting. I thought it would be action-packed with not a slow moment in between horse races and near death experiences, but it was far from action filled. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing because I think I loved it more this way despite the slowness. In the beginning, the story eases into itself, almost as if it is slowly creeping up on you like a capaill uisce rising out of the water to come onto shore. It was a little slow starting off, but I loved how quiet the story could be. Instead of deadly battles, most of the book had a painful poignancy, as if it was plucking your heartstrings. Violent death was a natural part of life in Thisby where many met their deaths by the capaill uisce, making life on the island all the more horrific. People willingly signed up for the races despite the predatory nature of the water horses and the call of the sea to these creatures, meaning they could easily be drowned by their rides or killed by their sharp teeth. Yet the races were the life and blood of the island.

In The Scorpio Races, the setting is almost a character itself. The reader comes to love Thisby as much as Puck and Sean, finding it horrifying at the same time as it is unnaturally beautiful with its precariously high cliffs and rocky shores, its strange islanders, winding alleys, and family run stores. The sea is also present as another character and a constant temptation to not only the water horses but to the islanders who want to cross it to the mainland and the other islanders who feel they are a part of both sea and land. Stiefvater created an island unto itself, part of the real world but so far from reality, it adopts a dreamlike, unnatural quality. And when the tourists and mainlanders visit the island for the festivities, it is then you see how truly different the islanders are, almost as if they are a wilder, forgotten race.

Puck and Sean were both endlessly fascinating, and I couldn't get enough of them. I loved that I was given a glimpse into both of their POVs, revealing so much more and making both of their journeys toward the races meaningful. When a book has two POVs, there is always the danger of one side being less interesting, but this was not the case in The Scorpio Races. Puck was such a spitfire, and I loved her smart remarks and her determination to compete in the races despite her fear. She was a strong individual, being there for her sweet, eccentric  younger brother Finn while also taking all responsibility when her older brother Gabe couldn't handle it anymore. She was so in love with the island, even though her parents were killed by the capaill uisce. Sean was also a favorite character of mine. I loved that he was an old soul for a nineteen year old, and this made sense, seeing as he had suffered many hardships. I'm a big animal lover, and I loved how Sean connected with the horses he worked with more than he did with humans. Unfortunately, I sometimes feel that way in regard to my pets, and I really sympathized with Sean's concern for the horses. They were almost an extension of himself, especially Corr, and he loved them deeply. Both Puck and Sean seemed to have a wilder side, and I could almost imagine them as a part of the island, as they were so strongly attached to it. Their romance was not a main focus, but I didn't think it should be, and it was very sweet and touching.

I have to congratulate Stiefvater for imagining such a wild, unique premise. The Scorpio Races was so creative and unlike anything I'd read before. The only thing I could compare it to is Tamsin, a fantastic book that brings folklore to life in the English countryside. The capaill uisce emerged straight out of myth, and I could not help loving them as much as I feared them. I loved their unpredictability, and their free, wild nature. At times they were terrifying, and I almost shivered imagining their keening wail.

The Scorpio Races was a haunting, phenomenal read. I only regret waiting so long to read it. I love that it is a standalone book because I don't think I can take many more series. I only wish we would've been given more history behind the island and the appearance of the water horses, but maybe that just contributes to these creatures' mysterious nature. This has become a new favorite, and I encourage all fantasy lovers to read it!


In My Mailbox (3)

Sunday, September 16, 2012 2:25 PM
In My Mailbox is a meme hosted over at The Story Siren where you showcase all of the books and goodies you received over the last week!

Money makes me a dangerous woman. I have to fight the urge to spend. And not on shoes or purses or clothes. I have the rare occasion where I want a Fossil purse or a summer dress.  My real weakness is literature. I have to resist the temptation to buy stacks of books. So my first paycheck created a monster.  See for yourself. 

Plus, I used to be good at photography but I'm mediocre at best now. That flash is killing me. 

Purchased (from Amazon and Barnes and Noble):
Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan 
Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier
Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

Won (from Ensconced in YA):
Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake 

Library:
Everneath by Brodi Ashton


I finally won a book from a giveaway! I won a signed copy of Girl of Nightmares from Ensconced in YA, and I'd like to thank Christina for hosting the giveaway and Kendare Blake for signing and sending the book (oh, and for writing it of course)! I love Anna Dressed in Blood and look forward to reading this sequel! Here's what Blake wrote since it might be hard to see: 

For Courtney!

Hope you like a little blood. or a lot...
Happy nightmares! 

K Blake

Don't worry, Blake. I don't mind blood, and I love creepy books!

Last but not least, I just purchased Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce from my local bookstore. The cashier informed me that Jackson is actually female. Wow, I love that her name is Jackson, and I'm excited to read this!

That's my IMM. What did you guys get this week?

Happy reading,

Courtney
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