Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater - Ashley's Review

*I received this book as an eARC from Scholastic Press on NetGalley in exchange for a fair review*

My Pre-Reading

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Having never read anything by Maggie Stiefvater, I wasn't really sure what the expect from this book. I figured it would be a good story with a huge mystery that needed to be solved, and I wasn't disappointed. But it was also more than that, and I really enjoyed pretty much everything about The Raven Boys. Especially all of the little twists and turns that keep things interesting.

I thought that all of the characters were very well developed, especially Gansey and his friends. The further into the book you get, the more likable and more fleshed out the boys become. While I wasn't really a huge Gansey fan at first, I really grew to appreciate and like him by the end. Adam was my favorite Raven Boy though, since he is so completely different from the other boys and has to go through so many trials and hardships to get to where he is.

Blue isn't a very dynamic character, but she does change a little bit throughout the course of the story, and I thought that her quick wit really played a huge role in the development of the boys. The mystery surrounding Blue's powers, and her family, it really interesting, and I hope to find out more about why Blue only amplifies energy for others but can't channel it herself. Also, I want to know more about her family!

There were some parts when I felt like the book started to drag, but then Stiefvater would come back and through another wrench into the mix to pick up the pace again.   And then every time I felt like I had too many questions and not enough answers, I would get enough of an answer to stay interested and want to find out more. There were still so many questions left unanswered though, and definitely quite a bit of set-up for the rest of the series. I'm excited to find out what happens next!

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a good kind of supernatural book. Definitely for those looking for a book with the magic and conflict and mystery. I would give this a 4/5.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Shades of Earth(Across the Universe #3) by Beth Revis - Paul's Review

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Ashley's A MILLION SUNS Review

Title: Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3)
Author: Beth Revis
Year Published: 2013

Review: This book was another great sci-fi mystery from Beth Revis. She did an excellent job with this trilogy. Each story is unique and different while still remaining true to the big picture. Many trilogies now are just a really long book broken up twice.

The dynamic brought by the Earthborn Frozens was very interesting. So many new characters were introduced this way. It was great to actually meet Amy's parents whom we have heard so much about. Options are also introduced for Amy. Elder isn't the only male her age any more.

Revis does an excellent job of continuing the growth of her main characters from book to book. Amy and Elder continued to grow when they were met with new challenges.

The science and technology in this book is really fun to think about. Godspeed was in transit to Centauri-Earth for hundreds of years. What advancements in technology have taken place back home on Sol-Earth?

The mystery of this book wasn't as clean cut as the first two, but Revis still did an excellent job placing clues, both misleading and true ones, throughout the book.

Godspeed itself is such an integral character in this trilogy. It reminds me of the way Hogwarts becomes a character throughout the Harry Potter series.

I give this novel a 4/5. I suggest this to sci-fi, mystery, and YA fans. All the books in this trilogy were excellent reads. If you haven't read Across the Universe, go pick it up now!


Friday, January 25, 2013

Shades of Earth(Across the Universe #3) by Beth Revis - Paul's Pre Reading

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Ashley's A MILLION SUNS Review

Title: Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3)
Author: Beth Revis
Year Published: 2013

Synopsis: Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn't the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed's former passengers aren't alone on this planet. And if they're going to stay, they'll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been for nothing.

Why?: I enjoyed both of the books already in this series. They each were well written sci-fi mysteries. They were different styles of mysteries and I am hoping for a unique mystery in this one. Generation ships. Space Travel. Human Hibernation Technology. An Alien planet. What is there not to be excited about?

Expectations: I expect a fun mystery with characters that will grow even more when tested in new and different ways. I am intrigued to see how the Frozen people will interact with the residents of the ship. I am ready for my mind to be blown by some crazy revolution. 

Judging a book by its cover: I have expressed this opinion before via social medias and I will express it again here. WHY!?! Why change the cover of the whole trilogy? I liked the other two. I have them in hardback and now this third in a trilogy does not match. I may be okay with new covers for a series if it is complete and new editions are being sold, but there is no match for my lonely, incomplete Across the Universe and A Million Suns. From this cover, I can see that we will be down on the planet in a jungle. 


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Reached (Matched #3) by Ally Condie - Paul's Review

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My Pre Reading

Title: Reached (Matched #3)

Author: Ally Condie
Year Published: 2012

Review: Although I did enjoy the first two books in this trilogy, I was not expecting to enjoy this third book this much. It was not what I was expecting at all. I expected a story about the revolution to take over the Society. I expected grand battles and for the Society to crumble. What I got was much better. I enjoyed seeing the more behind-the-scenes events and the revolution took a completely different turn. 

When Matched came out, love triangles were at the forefront of the YA genre. In my opinion they were an unnecessary evil. I felt that the love triangle took up so much of Matched. I wanted more world building. Thankfully, as this trilogy completes I am satisfied. The world is fleshed out, although there still are mysteries left. And, the love triangle felt natural and wasn't so dominant in this book. 

Pretty much all the questions you had after reading Matched and Crossed are answered. Some of the answers are not what you expected. It is always disappointing when you read a completed series and feel unsatisfied. In this case, I was satisfied by the answers to all the mysteries I had. Condie did a nice job on revealing them, as well. 

I really enjoyed that this book is from three points of view: Cassia, Ky, and Xander. I liked finally getting to see inside Xander's head.  

The concept and idea of the Pilot was my favorite thing in this book. I love the way Condie wrote when talking about the Pilot and what makes the Pilot the Pilot and what a Pilot is. The Pilot!

Towards the end of this book, there was a lot of color imagery. I enjoyed it, but it seemed slightly repetitive. The colors of green, blue, and red are not only represented on the covers of each of the books in the trilogy, but also the tablets each member of the Society possesses. They are also used to represent the elements to an extent. 

Overall, I was surprised by and really enjoyed this book. If you have read the other two int he series, you definitely need to pick this one up. And if you, like me, were not so excited about them, I hope you enjoy this conclusion as much as I did! I give this book a 5/5.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Last Days of an Immortal - Paul's Review

***I received an ecopy of this book from Diamond Book Distributors via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review***

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Title: Last Days of an Immortal
Author: Fabien Vehlmann
Year Published: 2012

Synopsis: In our distant future, science will provide access to eternal life. With immortality a universal constant, the concept of crime takes on a new definition, giving rise to the “Philosophical Police”, agents trained to solve conflicts between individuals as well as entire species of aliens who have integrated into our society. When two such species erupt in violence over a crime committed centuries ago, Police agent Elijah must submerge himself in each culture to understand how to overcome their ignorance of each other and bring about peace. Soon, however, he finds himself confronting his own immortality, and examining the concept of death itself…

In a world where death no longer exists, why do so many want to give up on life?

Review: Last Days of an Immortal is a very interesting graphic novel. It is set in the far future, in a world where many different alien species interact and humans have become immortal. Each person has multiple "echoes" which are essentially clones of themselves. If you ever die, your memories are transferred to one of these "echoes" and you continue your life. 

The protagonist is a well established philosophical police officer. He helps to find the reasons behind intraspecies confrontations. 

The world created by Vehlmann is so large and full of interest. many ideas of immortality and dealing with completely different species with completely different cultural norms are dealt with. 

The art is minimal, being only black and white, but shows a vast world. Many panels are filled with unique and interesting alien species. 

If you like cerebral sci-fi you will enjoy this graphic novel. I give this book a 4/5.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Makeshift Miracle Book 1: The Girl from Nowhere - Paul's Review

***I received an ecopy of this book from Diamond Book Distributors via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review***

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Title: Makeshift Miracle Book 1: The Girl from Nowhere
Author: Jim Zub and Shun Hong Chan
Year Published: 2012

Website: Makeshift Miracle

Synopsis: A young boy named Colby Reynolds searches for meaning in the world around him and discovers a place where dreams can come true — if he's willing to pay the price! 

Along the way he'll see sights he's never fathomed and encounter hidden truths about himself he'll wish he never knew.
Review: I didn't realize this was an online comic until after doing a little research after I finished reading it. The quality is that of any published graphic novel you would pick up at your local bookseller. The colors have a watercolor feel that fits with the story. 

This first book in this series is only a beginning. Many questions are left unanswered at the end of this volume and I want to know the answers!

A teenage boy comes upon a girl who has fallen from the sky and has no memories. Towards the end of this book, an Alice in Wonderland vibe begins to emerge. 

There's not really enough meat in this first book to say whether I love it or not, but I really like where this series is going. I am going to have to regularly check on the website as new panels are posted. 

I recommend you check out the website for the comic to check it out!

I give this book a 3/5. It really left me wanting more. 


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey - Paul's Review

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Title: Witch Eyes
Author: Scott Tracey
Year Published: 2011

Synopsis: Braden was born with witch eyes: the ability to see the world as it truly is: a blinding explosion of memories, darkness, and magic. The power enables Braden to see through spells and lies, but at the cost of horrible pain.

After a terrifying vision reveals imminent danger for the uncle who raised and instructed him, Braden retreats to Belle Dam, an old city divided by two feuding witch dynasties. As rival family heads Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe desperately try to use Braden's powers to unlock Belle Dam's secrets, Braden vows never to become their sacrificial pawn. But everything changes when Braden learns that Jason is his father--and Trey, the enigmatic guy he's falling for, is Catherine's son.

To stop an insidious dark magic from consuming the town, Braden must master his gift—and risk losing the one he loves.

Review: Braden is a witch. He finds himself in an old town where family rivalries hold strong and he is stuck in the middle. Tracey's take on magic is interesting. I like that the reader learns about the town, its families, and its magic as Braden does. 

Tracey does an excellent job at writing a book with a gay protagonist where the story does not revolve around his sexuality. It just happens to be that he is attracted to guys. I would like to see more YA out there like this. 

Although I did really enjoy the characters and the story, I wasn't completely captured, unable to put the book down. It actually took me a long time to finish it, although I did have a lot of things happening at the time. I have added the sequel to my to-be-read list and look forward to Tracey's writing future. 

I give this book a 3.5/5. I liked the ideas behind it, but it just didn't capture my attention as much as I wanted it to. I recommend this to anyone interested in Paranormal YA, especially if you are looking for LGBT characters. 


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Greta & the Goblin King by Chloe Jacobs - Ashley's Pre-Reading

*I received this book as an eARC from Entangled Teen in exchange for an honest review*

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Title: Greta and the Goblin King
Author: Chloe Jacobs
Year Published: 2012

 While trying to save her brother from a witch’s fire four years ago, Greta was thrown in herself, falling through a portal to Mylena, a dangerous world where humans are the enemy and every ogre, ghoul, and goblin has a dark side that comes out with the eclipse.

To survive, Greta has hidden her humanity and taken the job of bounty hunter—and she’s good at what she does. So good, she’s caught the attention of Mylena’s young goblin king, the darkly enticing Isaac, who invades her dreams and undermines her will to escape.

But Greta’s not the only one looking to get out of Mylena. An ancient evil knows she’s the key to opening the portal, and with the next eclipse mere days away, every bloodthirsty creature in the realm is after her—including Isaac. If Greta fails, she and the lost boys of Mylena will die. If she succeeds, no world will be safe from what follows her back...

Why?: A strong heroine, a dark, mysterious, attractive goblin king, mystery, fantasy, and magic? Count me in! This book has been on my TBR shelf for a while, and it sounds like it has all the makings to be really fantastic. I haven't read a YA Fantasy in a few months, so I'm really looking forward to reading this one.

Expectations: I expect a pretty epic story, with magic, romance, danger, mystery, and adventure. I've heard so many good things about this book, I'm really expecting quite a lot from it. I hope it delivers!

Judging a book by its cover: I actually really like this cover. The moon and the guy in the trench coat (who I assume is Isaac), are kind of reminiscent of werewolves... But I guess since everyone in the world transforms into something dark with the eclipse it's ok. I would probably pick this book up off a shelf though, so props for that!


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns #2) by Rae Carson - Paul's Review

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The Girl of Fire and Thorns REVIEW
The Shadow Cats novella REVIEW
The Crown of Embers PRE-READING

Title: The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns #2)
Author: Rae Carson
Year Published: 2012

Review: This is one of the best fantasy YA series out there right now. Rae Carson is an excellent writer. Elisa is a heroine that truly grows as a character. All her actions and the lessons she learsn are done so fluently. Carson writes relationships so well. They are very realistic, having a gradual build. It always irks me when a heroine falls for the only guy in the book or there is insta-love. 

There is a large cast of characters in this novel and none are sidelined. each character has just enough backstory and characteristics to make them all unique and memorable. Many of the characters I loved from the first book return and some of my favorite characters in the series so far were introduced in this book. Hector was one of my favorite characters. He is an awesome guard. 

I like when same-sex relationships are casually placed in YA novels. Carson did an excellent job with that. My gaydar went off and I was excited when it was revealed. Another good series that does this is Graceling by Kristin Cashore. 

The first half of this story took place in the city, then Elisa goes on an adventure! There's even a boat. I always like fantasy stories on the high seas. 

The godstones and religion in this series are very interesting. It is a monotheistic religion with magic. There aren't many other stories out there like it. The history and details of the godstones and magic are revealed in a nice and slow way that kept me on the edge of my seat while reading. 

Rae Carson is one of my favorite authors of YA right now! She is up there with Jodi Meadows, Marissa Meyer, Leigh Bardugo,and Beth Revis! I am really excited for the third book and can't wait for Carson's next series. I hear it has to do with magic in the Gold Rush!

I give this novel a 5/5!


The Calling by Kelley Armstrong - Ashley's Review

My Pre-Reading

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This book really surprised me. I mean, I figured it would pick up right after The Gathering left off, and I figured Maya would really have to start using her Skin Walker powers. But I didn't expect it to be such a thrill ride, or for it to be so fast-paced.

I really enjoyed how quickly this book moved along. There was enough detail to know what was going on, but it wasn't so much that you get lost in unimportant things. The kids are running for their lives, and reading this book kind of felt like you were running right along with them. And the fact that it only takes place over a couple of days really helps, I think. There are no jumps in time, and there aren't any gaps that need explaining. Some questions from The Gathering are answered, but there are more questions raised that I assume will be answered in the next book, so things never really get very dull.

The characters are all really nicely developed throughout the course of the book as well. None of the minor characters are there without a reason, and each one of them helps Maya to come to terms with her powers and herself. I also really enjoy how nobody just makes a decision and everyone agrees with it. Someone always has a counterargument, and they discuss every plan and take a vote. The kids act as equals instead of just blindly following one or two people. You also get to learn more about each person and what makes them do the things they do, and why their families have been asked to live in Salmon Creek. Plus, there are a few new characters introduced, and they do not disappoint either.

I do wish we could have seen more of Rafe, but I guess that would have removed one of the major conflicts. So I guess it worked out alright. He's grown on me though, and I really hope we get to see more of him in the next installment. And Annie too. They're the only characters that have been around  since the beginning that I really don't feel like I know very much about.

Overall, I think I enjoyed The Calling more than I enjoyed The Gathering. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who has read The Gathering, and I would recommend the series to anyone who is interested in supernatural YA books, especially ones that are set in this world. Plus, if you like a little bit of mystery and romance, you would probably enjoy these books. 3/5 to this one, but I'm excited to find out how Maya's story ends!


Monday, January 7, 2013

Reached (Matched #3) by Ally Condie - Paul's Pre-Reading

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Ashley's CROSSED Review

Title: Reached (Matched #3)

Author: Ally Condie
Year Published: 2012

Synopsis: After leaving Society and desperately searching for the Rising—and each other—Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again: Cassia has been assigned to work for the Rising from within Society, while Ky has been stationed outside its borders. But nothing is as predicted, and all too soon the veil lifts and things shift once again.

Why?: Matched was one of the first in the big Dystopia trend in YA back in 2010, coming out a few months after Mockingjay. I enjoyed the feel of Matched. It had more romance than the Hunger Games trilogy. Crossed was less urban, following Cassia and Ky through the wild. Reached has Cassia back in Society, undercover.

Expectations: Both Matched and Crossed felt like lead up novels so I am expecting an epic ending. I hope there is some recap in the beginning of this book. I read Crossed over a year ago. I expect the romance will come to a final conclusion. I'm hoping to see Cassia kick some butt as a strong young heroine.

Judging a book by its cover: I love the covers in this trilogy! They are so clean, colorful, and sybolic. Cassia is trapped in the bubble, she cracks it, and now she is free. 


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Happy New Year!

It is 2013! The Apocalyptic assumptions turned out to be false and the Mayans are back to being mentioned mainly in Social Studies classes and National Geographic specials. It has been almost a month since my last post! I am very sorry, guys. I do have a few posts to catch up on, but my December was very slow in the reading department. It took me a month to finish the last 5% of a book, and the book was even pretty good. 

I work as an endangered species observer all up and down the East Coast and the Gulf of the US. I work not only odd hours, but odd days, weeks, and months. I have been off work for almost two months and oddly enough when I have more free time I apparently accomplish less. 

If you follow me on  Twitter you may know that I participated in Nanowrimo this year. In the last day of November, I won! I finished my goal of 50,000 words in one month. Now I just have a word document with a lot of letters. I am now going to start going through those letters and words to see what exactly I wrote.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and are enjoying getting back into the schedule of things. I will be catching up on old posts this week. I also have a large stack of books to read as well as a kindle and Adobe Digital Editions full of things to read. 

According to Goodreads I read 55 books in 2012. My reading goal for 2013 is to read 60 books!

I am also making a goal to really dig deep into that Nanowrimo word document. 

What are your reading (or writing) goals this year? If you had 2012 goals, did you accomplish them?


Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington - Ashley's Pre-Reading

*I received an eARC of this book from Scholastic on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

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Title: The Dead and Buried
Author: Kim Harrington
Year Published: 2013

A haunted house, a buried mystery, and a very angry ghost make this one unforgettable thriller.

Jade loves the house she's just moved into with her family. She doesn't even mind being the new girl at the high school: It's a fresh start, and there's that one guy with the dreamy blue eyes. . . . But then things begin happening. Strange, otherworldly things. Jade's little brother claims to see a glimmering girl in his room. Jade's jewelry gets moved around, as if by an invisible hand. Kids at school whisper behind her back like they know something she doesn't.

Soon, Jade must face an impossible fact: that her perfect house is haunted. Haunted by a ghost who's seeking not just vengeance, but the truth. The ghost of a girl who ruled Jade's school — until her untimely death last year. It's up to Jade to put the pieces together before her own life is at stake. As Jade investigates the mystery, she discovers that her new friends in town have more than a few deep, dark secrets. But is one of them a murderer?

I always enjoy a good ghost book, and this one sounds really interesting! Plus, there are so many mysteries - What happened to this ghost girl? Why is she haunting the house? What are the secrets Jade's new friends are hiding?

Expectations: I expect for nothing to be as it seems, especially with so many people having secrets. I'm also expecting a little bit of a Nancy Drew type mystery, where Jade has to follow a set of clues to find out "who did it." With the addition of an actual ghost, of course.  I am kind of expecting this to be a very "book fair" book though - short and sweet and pretty much to the point.

Judging a book by its cover: I'm kind of torn on this cover. While I think it fits with the whole ghost thing, since it looks like there's a dead girl on the front, I'm not sure that I would pick it up off of a shelf if I saw it in a store or library. There's really not much that jumps off the cover at me and catches my attention.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Kill Order by James Dashner - Ashley's Pre-Reading

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Title: The Kill Order
Author: James Dashner
Year Published: 2012

Before WICKED was formed, before the Glade was built, before Thomas entered the Maze, sun flares hit the earth and mankind fell to disease.

Mark and Trina were there when it happened, and they survived. But surviving the sun flares was easy compared to what came next. Now a disease of rage and lunacy races across the eastern United States, and there’s something suspicious about its origin. Worse yet, it’s mutating, and all evidence suggests that it will bring humanity to its knees.

Mark and Trina are convinced there’s a way to save those left living from descending into madness. And they’re determined to find it—if they can stay alive. Because in this new, devastated world, every life has a price. And to some, you’re worth more dead than alive

I read the Maze Runner trilogy and really enjoyed it, so I figured I should probably read the prequel as well! I'm looking forward to finding what life was like before the Maze!

Expectations: I expect that this book will explain more of Thomas and Teresa's back story, without necessarily directly involving them. Maybe Mark and Trina are the original people who created WICKED? WICKED has always been a mystery, and I hope that this book will shed some more light on the organization!

Judging a book by its cover: The cover is mostly oranges and yellows, but the bright colors definitely caught my eye when I saw the cover on Amazon. If I were in a book store or a library, I would probably pick it up. At closer glance, it looks like there are fireballs destroying a village, so I think it's pretty appropriate for a book about how the sun flares decimated Earth.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Every Day by David Levithan - Ashley's Review

My Pre-Reading
Paul's Pre-Reading
Paul's Review

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I have no idea how to describe this book. The whole concept, of waking up every morning in someone else's body, is something I've never read about before. It's also something I can't imagine having to go through. But Levithan takes A's story and writes it so that you, like A, wonder what's going to happen next and whose body you're going to wake up in.

At first, I felt so bad for A. Not having any family, not being able to make any friends, and never being able to create any memories of his (or her) own. I guess after a while, you would get used to that... but having never lived through it I don't know how anyone, especially Rhiannon, could ever understand. The decisions that A makes though are really mature decisions, and I was very happy with his/her final choice at the end of the novel. It was probably the saddest happy ending I've ever read.

There was nothing about this novel that I disliked. The pacing and the writing were perfect, and all of the relationships were very well done. Even though there were times when I felt a couple of the minor characters were unnecessary, I was relieved when it turned out that there were no extra characters that weren't important to the novel.

I really don't want to give anything away, because I think knowing less about this novel will allow you to get more out of it. There's really not a specific YA genre I could put this in to to recommend it to people who enjoy that genre, although I guess you could call it a Contemporary YA book? Regardless, I think everyone who enjoys YA should definitely pick up this book. You won't regret it. 5/5 here, and I wish it was possible to rate higher than that! I'll definitely be looking for more of David Levithan's books in the future!