Monday, October 31, 2011

REVIEW: "Shatter Me" by Tahereh Mafi

SERIES: Shatter Me #1
GENRE: Young Adult-Dystopian, Paranormal
PUBLISHER: Harper Teen
PUBLICATION DATE: November 15, 2011
READ DATE: October 2011
SOURCE: ARC (New York Comic Con)
SUMMARY:  Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.
The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now. Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.


This book joins in one of the most popular trends in young adult fiction, dystopian.  But, Tahereh Mafi adds her own twists to this fascinating genre and provides her readers with a unique outlook on society that captured my attention from the beginning and left me wanting more.  The world of Shatter Me is one that may seem familiar to readers of dystopian fiction.  Disease, famine, and death seem to be increasing rapidly and people are at a lost of what to do to save their world.  Then the Reestablishment takes power and promises that they can help if they are given control over everything from the military to the food industry.   

The protagonist is a seventeen year old named Juliette who has been held in solitary confinement in a mental institution for 264 days due to the fact that ever since her childhood, Juliette has been unable to touch another person without inflicting unbearable pain upon them.  Not even her own parents were able to touch her bare skin since she was a baby.  After an unfortunate incident that resulted from her touching another, Juliette is given up to the Reestablishment who then place her in the institution.  Within the institution, she is never touched or spoken to.  She is left completely on her own to survive and attempt to keep herself sane. 

When the reader is first introduced to Juliette, it is evident how the days of confinement have effected her psyche.  Boredom has lead her to count meaningless things like cracks on the walls and, while she is not insane, she does seem to lose her grasp on reality at times.  Juliette is very unsure of what she sees and what she thinks and this is shown through the random statements which are crossed out.  The striking out displays Juliette's confusion and her determination to keep her sanity.  I found it interesting that the striking out of words/phrases decreased once Juliette began to gain confidence in herself.  It was a simplistic yet powerful way to express her inner turmoil and strength. 

The catalyst for Juliette's transformation is when she gets a roommate, Adam.  It is obvious to Juliette from the beginning that she knew him outside of the institution, but it takes time for her to grow to trust him with her secrets.  But, Adam is not everything he appears to be to both Juliette and the readers.  His reasons for being placed in the institution, his background, and his growing relationship with Juliette are all mysteries that are slowly resolved throughout the book.  In order to avoid spoilers, I will not go too much into Adam's character, but I will say that I admired him and his ability to make the best of out difficult situations.

Another way that Tahereh Mafi showcases Juliette's state of mind and confidence was through the pacing of the plot.  At the beginning, we meet her while she is alone in the institution and the pace is deliberately slow and detailed.  But, once Adam appears, Juliette's world is turned upside down and the story begins to speed towards the climax.  I really enjoyed this section of the book with new information was appearing at random intervals and the mystery of the Reestablishment and its purpose in Juliette's situation moving towards resolution.

The only issue I had with Shatter Me was the romance aspect.  While I enjoyed the relationship between Adam and Juliette, I had a hard time getting the chemistry between them.  The flashbacks provided a little insight, but I found myself wanting more.  But, I will admit that the unusual situation they found themselves in did help me understand the instant romance.  I am hopeful that Mafi will be able to showcase more of the connection between the couple in the rest of the series now that a significant amount of exposition is revealed.  

All in all, I enjoyed this debut effort from Tahereh Mafi.  I was impressed by her writing style and original plot structure.  I liked the main characters and found myself intrigued by many of the secondary characters.  I did have alot of unanswered questions by the end, but I think most of them will be taken care in the next installment.  I recommend this book to anybody who is a fan of dystopian fiction and strong-willed heroines. 



Book Depository Page
Goodreads Page
Author Website
Author Blog

Friday, October 28, 2011


Feature & Follow Friday is a blog hop that expands your blog following by a joint effort between bloggers. Feature & Follow Friday is now hosted by TWO hosts, Rachel of Parajunkee and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

Q. If you could have dinner with your favorite book character, who would you eat with and what would you serve?

My absolute favorite character of all time is Severus Snape from Harry Potter.  If I had dinner with him, I would definitely have butterbeer (I've always wanted to try it) and probably something from the Hogwarts opening ceremony feast.  Rowling always describes the food in such a way I want to jump in the pages and join in the fun. 

Another character I would love to eat dinner with would be Penelope Featherington from Julia Quinn's Romancing Mr. Bridgerton.  Penelope is English so I would definitely serve tea and scones.  I probably would also make sure there are plenty of eclairs available since she has such a fondness of them.  There is even a hilarious scene in the book where Penelope drops an eclair on the floor and desposes of it in a plant on a dare during a party.  Definitely someone I would love to hang out with!

Who would you love to eat dinner with?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

November's Spell It Out Reading Challenge

Due to the fact that I joined the book blogging world a little late, I have not participated in many book challenges beyond GoodReads 2011 Challenge.  But, the We Love Lisa Kleypas! GoodReads group does a mini-book challenge every month so I decided to try it out for the month of November. 

Duration - November 1st - November 30th

With this challenge you can choose to spell the word November, or you can choose to spell out a word (or words) that make you think of November.

For example -
T - Truth and Consequences by Linda Winfrey
H -
A -
N - Nalini Singh - Angels' Blood
K -
F -
U -
L - Lewis, Carole - A Thankful Heart

For my challenge this month, I decided to spell out GRATITUDE.  The following list of books is my plan for this challenge, but, as always, it is subject to change. 

G - Gabriel's Ghost by Linnea Sinclair
R - Runaway by Meg Cabot
A - Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
T - Tiger Eye by Marjorie M. Liu
I - Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa
T - Timeless by Alexandra Monir
U - Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (ARC)
D - Deadline by Chris Crutcher
E - Eyre Affair  by Jasper Fforde

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY (5): Angel of Darkness

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine to highlight upcoming releases we're anxiously awaiting.  Here's what I'm waiting for this week:

(The Fallen #1)
by Cynthia Eden
Brava Publishing
Release Date: November 29, 2011

As an angel of death, Keenan’s job is to collect the souls on his list. He’s carried out his duty for two thousand years and never faltered once. Until he meets Nicole St. James. When the moment of death comes, Keenan hesitates, and instead of taking Nicole, Keenan touches the vampire who’s attacking her.

Cast out of heaven for disobedience, Keenan plummets to earth. Six months later, he finally manages to track Nicole to a bar in Mexico. He’s stunned to discover that the woman he remembers has undergone a dramatic change—she’s become a vampire. And when he realizes that she’s the target of all manner of enemies—other vampires, demons, even shifters—he’ll do whatever it takes to protect her, even if all hell breaks loose…


Tuesday, October 25, 2011


My Book Boyfriend is an awesome weekly meme hosted by Missie at The Unread Reader all about fictional boys who make us swoon.  This week, I'm swooning over Wraith from Larissa Ione's Passion Unleashed which is the third installment of her wonderful paranormal series Demonica.

First Impressions:

"Another deep male voice came from behind her, and she turned to the newcomer, a man casually dressed in faded jeans and a Guiness T-shirt, with a backpack draped over his shoulder.  He was tall, close to six and a half feet, with blond hair that fell nearly to his shoulders and a tattoo that extended from the fingers of his right arm all the way up to his face, where the swirling black pattern stretched from his jawline to his temple."

About Wraith:
  • Full Name: Wraith
  • Age: 100 years old
  • Appearance: dyed blonde hair (naturally black), blue eyes, tall, muscular
  • Status: half-Seminus demon; half-vampire
  • Occupation(s): treasure hunter
Why I Love Wraith:
  • He's the perfect definition of a bad boy.
  • He's a Seminus demon which is a type of incubus or sex demon.
  • He is extremely protective of his brothers and their mates.
  • He is willing to risk dying to protect the woman he loves.
  • He loves Family Guy!

“Because make no mistake, Serena. I do bite.

He wanted to stay with her, but for the first time in his life, he was going to do the right thing, not the selfish thing.  He wouldn't make her watch him die.  He'd go home and she'd remember him as he was, not as some fragile, failing shell.

He got in her face so fast she blinked as though trying to figure out how he was suddenly inches away. "No.  It was because it was the first time I made love to anyone.  You can call me a liar for anything else, but do not doubt me on this.  And I swear to you that you were the first, and you will be the last."

"Explain to me the benefits."
"A mental connection.  No more loneliness.  Or empty sex.  You'll have a protector.  A partner.  Someone who will love you forever."

The look in her gaze, the erotic promise, the trust, the love, brought him to his knees in front of her.  She meant the underworld to him, and in that moment he knew.  He would never fail her.  And the faith in her eyes said she knew it, too.

My Wraith: Actor Travis Fimmel

Monday, October 24, 2011

REVIEW: "The Iron Queen" by Julie Kagawa

SERIES: The Iron Fey #3
GENRE: Young Adult-Romance-Fantasy
PUBLISHER: Harlequin Teen
READ DATE: October 2011
SOURCE: Bought-Book Depository
SUMMARY: My name is Meghan Chase.  I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who's sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I'm not sure anyone can survive it.  This time, there will be no turning back.

MY THOUGHTS (**Possibly Minor Spoilers for The Iron King, Winter's Passage, and The Iron Daughter)

When we last left Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series, Meghan and Ash prevented a civil war between the Summer and Winter Courts, but were banished from the Nevernever for openly declaring their relationship.  The Iron Queen provides readers with the aftermath of this banishment and the conclusion of the conflict between the Summer/Winter Courts and the Iron Court.  The entire series has been building up to this book and Julie Kagawa does not disappoint her readers with the world building, storyline, and character development. 

One of my favorite aspects of Kagawa's series has been the way she builds the world of the fey.  I have read many books about the Seelie and Unseelie courts and haven't always found the most original approaches to the myth.  By introducing the mysterious Iron Fey into this world, Kagawa is providing a new twist on an old idea that has captured my attention from the beginning.  The reactions of the Summer and Winter Courts to new creatures with powers that are potentially fatal to others allows for some fascinating scenes. 

In terms of The Iron Queen and the world building, I loved going back to familiar territory like Leanansidhe's house, the Voo Doo Museum, the wyldwood, and the Iron Kingdom.  These settings have changed dramatically since Meghan first visited them due to both the onslaught of Iron Fey and Meghan's growing comfort level.  I thought this was a nice way to showcase changes without telling the readers about them.

I also really enjoyed the plot of this installment.  Readers are thrown straight into the plot with Meghan and Ash visiting Meghan's family in the mortal world and figuring out their next steps.  From there, the book becomes a continuous rollercoaster with twists and turns at both predictable and surprising junctures.  I especially liked the battle scene between Summer/Winter and the Iron Fey in the wyldwood.  It reminded me (and Meghan) of the Lord of the Rings.  

The characters are another main reason why I enjoy this series so much.  Meghan, Ash, Puck, and the secondary characters all have a purpose in the overall plot which means little stereotypes and a lot of development.  Meghan especially shows her growth in The Iron Queen.  She has become less reactive to everything around her and also seems to be more aware of people's feelings.  I'm specifically referring to the Ash-Meghan-Puck love triangle that has never really been a significant storyline.  Meghan now understands Puck's feelings for her and is self-aware enough to tell him the truth and apologize for leading him on.  This does not mean that Meghan has become the "perfect heroine."  She still acts like a seventeen year old girl would under the amount of stress she's enduring.  She snaps at people and still has her impulsive nature to deal with, but overall I have seen definite growth which makes the ending more realistic.  

Ash and Puck both shine in this book as well.  Ash, by being banished, is finally able to open himself up more about his feelings for Meghan.  While he still has a tendency to retreat into his "ice prince" facade, it is obvious now that it is a defense mechanism rather than his true nature.  His devotion to Meghan could have been cheesy, but I found myself sighing at the ways he spoke to her.  Puck still retained his classic mischievious personality, but the readers got to see different sides of that.  He is very loyal to both Meghan and Ash and proves himself many times over.  Kagawa also shows us the vulnerable part of Puck that truly loves Meghan and mourns the fact that he waited too long to pursue her.  I did appreciate that while he mentioned those feelings, he never resorted into moodiness.  The friendship between Puck and Ash was evident in this book and made me sad about the way that their relationship had soured over the years.

There were many other secondary characters that I enjoyed meeting and seeing again.  Grim was as mysterious and snarky as ever while Mab, Oberon, and Leanansidhe continued to be annoyingly arrogant about their positions in life.  I also liked getting to know the Iron Fey that are rebelling against the false king who is trying to get Machina's power from Meghan and take over the Nevernever.  Readers are provided with the truth about the dangers of being Iron Fey and I really felt for most of them.  I specifically would like to know more about Glitch, the head of the rebel faction that assists Meghan in her quest. 

Overall, I thought this was a fabulous "conclusion" to the Iron Fey storyline.  There is definite openings for more books, but I appreciated the way that Meghan's journey finished.  Can't wait to read The Iron Knight and learn more about Ash and Puck and their former friendship! 



“It's not everyday I get to tell someone I was attacked by a pair of flying reading glasses. Ow!"

“I learned long ago that you don't get in the middle of a lover's spat. Nothing EVER goes as planned - People fall in love with the wrong person, someone ends up with a donkey head and then its a whole big mess."

“If you are gone then I will welcome nonexistence. There will be nothing left for me to live for.”


1. The Iron King
2. Winter's Passage (e-novella)
3. The Iron Daughter
4. The Iron Queen
5. Summer's Crossing (e-novella)
6. The Iron Knight


Book Depository Page
Goodreads Page
Author Website
Author Blog
Series Website

Sunday, October 23, 2011

IN MY MAILBOX (1): October

In My Mailbox is a "weekly" book blog meme sponsored by The Story Siren.  The purpose of In My Mailbox is to showcase books that I have received through purchases, libraries, or giveaways.  Since I do not get books every week, I will only do this meme when I have something to discuss.  Enjoy!!


TITLE: Jenny Pox (Note: This book is free on Amazon Kindle as of 10/23/2011.)
AUTHOR: J.L. Bryan
SERIES: The Paranormals #1
GENRE: Young Adult-Paranormal, Horror
SUMMARY: Jenny has a secret. Her touch spreads a supernatural plague. 
She devotes her life to avoiding contact with people, until her senior year of high school, when she meets the one boy she can touch, and she falls in love.
But there's a problem--he's under the spell of his devious girlfriend Ashleigh, who secretly wields the most dangerous power of all.
Now Jenny must learn to use the deadly "Jenny pox" she's fought her entire life to hide, or be destroyed by Ashleigh's ruthless plans. 

TITLE: Finders Keepers
AUTHOR: Linnea Sinclair
SERIES: none
GENRE: Romance-Science Fiction
SUMMARY: Trilby Elliot's stopover on the uninhabited world of Avanar should have gone unnoticed--and would--until she discovered that a Zafharin military officer had crash-landed almost in the middle of her illegal repair site.  The attention of Rhis Vanur is hardly the sort that an independent trader and sometime smuggler like Trilby would ordinarily welcome.  But in getting the injured Rhis back on his feet, Trilby has glimpsed the flesh-and-blood man beneath the arrogant military facade.  The trouble is, Rhis isn't quite who or what he seems.  He's intent on commandeering her ship...and her heart.  Until a warlike race begins hunting them both.  Then suddenly Trilby and Rhis are in it together, for better, for worse--or till death blasts them to oblivion.


TITLE: Graceling
AUTHOR: Kristin Cashore
SERIES: The Seven Kingdoms #1
GENRE: Young Adult-Fantasy
SUMMARY: In a world where people born with an extreme skill--called a Grace--are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of killing. She lives under the command of her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to execute his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him.
When she first meets Prince Po, who is Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.  She never expects to become Po's friend.  She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace--or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away...a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

TITLE: Supernaturally
AUTHOR: Kiersten White
SERIES: Paranormalcy #2
GENRE: Young Adult-Paranormal, Fantasy
SUMMARY: Evie finally has the normal life she's always longed for.  But she's shocked to discover that being ordinary...kind of boring.  Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she's given a chance to work for them again.  Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees. 
But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice.  And when Evie's faerie ex-boyfriend Reth appears with devastating revelations about her past, she discovers that there's a battle brewing between the faerie courts that could throw the whole supernatural world into chaos.  The prize in question?  Evie herself.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It's where we list all the books we desperately want but haven't actually bought yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming. It's also an event that you can join in with too. 

Here's what is on my wishlist this week:

by Gemma Halliday
Young Adult-Mystery
Harper Teen
October 11, 2011

First I find out that my boyfriend is cheating on me. Then he’s pegged as the #1 suspect in a murder. And now he’s depending on me to clear his name. Seriously?

As much as I wouldn’t mind watching him squirm, I know that he’s innocent. So I’m brushing off my previously untapped detective skills and getting down to business. But I keep tripping over dead bodies and I’m still no closer to figuring out who did it. And what’s worse: all signs seem to point to me as the killer’s next victim.

(Iron Fey #4)
by Julie Kagawa
Young Adult-Fantasy
Harlequin Teen
October 25, 2011

My name—my True Name—is Ashallayn'darkmyr Tallyn.

I am the last remaining son of Mab, Queen of the Unseelie Court. And I am dead to her.
My fall began, as many stories do, with a girl…


Friday, October 21, 2011

REVIEW: "Lola and the Boy Next Door" by Stephanie Perkins

SERIES: loosely connected to Anna and the French Kiss
PUBLICATION DATE: September 2011
GENRE: Young Adult-Romance
READ DATE: October 2011
SOURCE: Bought-Book Depository
SUMMARY: Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. 
When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door...


One of my absolute favorite reads of 2011 has been Stephanie Perkins's Anna and the French Kiss.  Therefore, it should come as no surprise that I was super excited to read the follow-up Lola and the Boy Next Door.  I will admit I was slightly worried that Lola... would be a letdown after the amazingness (not a word, I know) that was Anna and St. Clair's story.  But, I needn't have worried!  Lola and the Boy Next Door proved to me that Stephanie Perkins is definitely a YA author to watch out for in the future!

This book, unlike Anna, takes place in San Francisco, California and tells the story of an eccentric girl named Lola Nolan and her friendship/relationship with her "new" next door neighbor, Cricket.  Essentially, the plot is nothing completely out of the ordinary.  Lola and Cricket were friends and neighbors for years and, as happens, they began to have feelings for each other during high school.  Unfortunately, their relationship was derailed by a few incidents and they have not seen each other for a significant amount of time.  But, when Cricket and his family move back to town and into their old house, all the past feelings come up in some hilarious and poignant ways.  What sets Lola and the Boy Next Door apart from other books with a similar storyline is the characters and the way Stephanie Perkins develops the romance. 

Lola, our protagonist, is one of the most unique characters I've come across in contemporary YA fiction.  She has two dads and has a serious love affair with clothes.  And I am not talking about high fashion with labels and cute little trends.  Lola wears, essentially, costumes complete with wigs, make-up, and a host of other accessories.  But, the interesting clothing style does not define Lola.  She is a typical seventeen year old girl who desires independence yet still cares deeply about her family/friends.  She has her "bratty" moments, but it is realistic for a heroine her age.  Figuring out where you want to go in life is part of young adulthood and Lola's journey is a subtle one that is no less important for teenage girls today. 

And then there's Cricket Bell.  Cricket is one of my favorite YA heroes ever!  He is the epitome of the boy next door with funny hair, interesting fashion sense, and quirky hobbies.  Specifically, Cricket Bell is an inventor who specializes in Rube Goldberg-esque inventions.  Goldberg inventions are elaborate machines that are designed to perform a simple task.  Cricket's personality really shines in this book.  He has always appeared in the background due to his twin sister Calliope's skating abilities, but he uses his newfound college experience and his renewed friendship with Lola to step out of Calliope's shadow in a big way.  In a nutshell, Cricket is funny, sweet, genuine, and appreciates Lola for exactly who she really is.

Stephanie Perkins offers up a contrast to Cricket in the character of Max who is Lola's older rocker boyfriend.  Lola's relationship with Max is pretty stereotypical with the whole bad boy who the parents dislike angle.  While I understood Max's purpose, it was obvious from the beginning how flawed the relationship was and I would have appreciated getting more indepth about Max's personality beyond the rocker cliche. 

Another significant relationship in this book is between Lola and her family.  As I mentioned earlier, Lola has two dads so the situation is a little unorthodox.  But, I liked how Perkins emphasized that Lola and her dads were a complete family, regardless of its uniqueness.  One of the big hurdles that Lola comes across involves her birth mother, Norah, who re-appears throughout the book and always brings out Lola's bratty yet insecure side.  I liked how Lola and Norah's relationship progressed in a realistic fashion as opposed to the puppies and rainbows that could have popped up. 

There are quite a few other minor characters that kept me interested throughout the book.  I really liked Lola and her best friend Lindsey's friendship.  They were so different yet complimented each other perfectly.  I especially loved their Halloween costumes!  Another character that I wish had gotten more depth was Cricket's sister Calliope.  She has the reputation and aura that comes from being a famous Olympic-level ice skater, but I kept hoping for more detail on her personality.  And, of course, I would be a horrible Stephanie Perkins' fangirl if I didn't mention how much I loved seeing Anna and St. Clair again.  Their scenes were so funny and really made me want to go re-read Anna and the French Kiss.

In conclusion, this was a great follow-up to Anna... for Stephanie Perkins.  The romance between Lola and Cricket was sweet and a perfect compliment to their characters.  I look forward to Isla and the Happily Ever After!



“I know you aren't perfect. But it's a person's imperfections that make them perfect for someone else.”

“So do you believe in second chances?" I bite my lip.
"Second, third, fourth. Whatever it takes. However long it takes. If the person is right," he adds.
"If the person is... Lola?"
This time, he holds my gaze. "Only if the other person is Cricket.”


1. Anna and the French Kiss
2. Lola and the Boy Next Door
3. Isla and the Happily Ever After (Coming 2012)


Book Depository Page
Goodreads Page
Author Website
Author Blog
My Book Boyfriend Post: Cricket Bell

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Feature & Follow Friday is a blog hop that expands your blog following by a joint effort between bloggers. Feature & Follow Friday is now hosted by TWO hosts, Rachel of Parajunkee and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

Q.What superhero is your alter-ego?

Sailor Mercury from the anime/manga Sailor Moon.  She is a huge geek who loves to read, play on the computer, and swim!  I wanted to be her so badly when I was growing up!  Plus I have always wanted blue hair like hers.   

So who is your superhero alter-ego??

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY (4): Dark Companion

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine to highlight upcoming releases we're anxiously awaiting.  Here's what I'm waiting for this week:

Dark Companion

by Marta Acosta
Young Adult-Mystery
June 2012

When foster teen Jane Williams is invited to attend elite Birch Grove Academy for Girls and escape her violent urban neighborhood, she thinks the offer is too good to be true. She's even offered her own living quarters, the groundskeeper's cottage in the center of the birch grove.

Something's not quite right about the school -- or is it Jane? She thinks she sees things in the birch grove at night. She's also beginning to suspect that the elegant headmistress and her sons are hiding secrets. Lucky is the gorgeous, golden son who is especially attentive to Jane, and Jack is the sardonic puzzling brother.

The school with its talented teachers and bright students is a dream for a science and math geek like Jane. She also loves her new friends, including hilarious poetry-spouting rich girl, Mary Violet. But the longer Jane stays at Birch Grove, the more questions she has about the disappearance of another scholarship girl and a missing faculty member.

Jane discovers one secret about Birch Grove, which only leads to more mysteries. What is she willing to sacrifice in order to stay at this school...and be bound to Birch Grove forever?


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

MY BOOK BOYFRIEND (9): Cricket Bell

My Book Boyfriend is an awesome weekly meme hosted by Missie at The Unread Reader all about fictional boys who make us swoon.  This week, I'm swooning over Cricket Bell from Stephanie Perkins's Lola and the Boy Next Door.

First Impressions:

He's sitting in his window.  Literally sitting in it.  His butt is on the windowsill, and his legs--impossibly long and slender--are dangling against the side of his house, two stories above the ground.  And his hands are folded in his lap as if spying on his unsuspecting female neighbor was the most natural thing in the world.

About Cricket:

  • Full Name: Cricket Graham Bell
  • Age: 18 years old
  • Appearance: dark, inverted floppy hair (like a mad scientist), blue eyes, extremely tall
  • Occupation(s): university student, inventor

Why I Love Cricket:
  • He's an inventor that specializes in Rube Goldberg-esque inventions.
  • He's been in love with Lola forever.
  • He helps his sister with her costumes and hair during ice skating competitions.
  • He's sweet and caring.
  • He is comfortable with Lola's parents.
Quotes and Pics:

“Perfect is overrated. Perfect is boring."
I smile. "You don't think I'm perfect?"
"No. You're delightfully screwy, and I wouldn't have you any other way.”

“Remember that day I made you the elevator?” he suddenly asks.
I give him a faint smile. “How could I forget?”
“That was the day I had my first kiss.”
My smile fades.
“I’m better now,” He sets the apple beside me. “At kissing, just so you know.”

"So do you believe in second chances?" I bite my lip.
"Second, third, fourth. Whatever it takes. However long it takes. If the person is right," he adds.
"If the person is... Lola?"
This time, he holds my gaze. "Only if the other person is Cricket.”

There's something about blue eyes. The kind of blue that startles you every time they're lifted in your direction. The kind of blue that makes you ache for them to look at you again. Not the blue green or blue gray, the blue that's just blue.  Cricket has those eyes.

My Cricket: Actor Penn Badgley from Gossip Girl and John Tucker Must Die.  I know he doesn't have blue eyes, but he could always wear contacts!


Monday, October 17, 2011

REVIEW: "The Darkest Surrender" by Gena Showalter

TITLE: The Darkest Surrender
AUTHOR: Gena Showalter
SERIES: Lords of the Underworld #8
PUBLISHER: Harlequin
PUBLICATION DATE: September 2011
GENRE: Paranormal Romance
READ DATE: October 2011
SOURCE: Bought-Book Depository
SUMMARY: Possessed by the demon of Defeat, Strider cannot lose a challenge without suffering unimaginable pain. For him, nothing stands in the way of victory. Until Kaia, an enchanting Harpy, tempts him to the razor's edge of surrender.
Known among her people as The Disappointment, Kaia must bring home the gold in the Harpy Games or die. Strider is a distraction she can't afford because he has an agenda of his own-steal first prize, an ancient godly artifact, before the winner can be named. But as the competition heats up, only one prize will matter-the love neither had thought possible...


Gena Showalter's Lords of the Underworld series tells the tale of ancient warriors possessed by the demons that escaped from Pandora's box or dimOuniak.  These warriors were jealous of the fact that Pandora was chosen to guard the dimOuniak so they worked together to seduce Pandora, steal the artifact, and release the demons upon the Earth.  The Greek gods punished them by cursing them to act as hosts of the demons in order to prevent them from causing chaos.  Each of these warriors must deal with the idiosyncrasies of their demons which vary from demon to demon. 

I have read every installment of Showalter's series and, while I have enjoyed some books better than others, I have found this to be one of the most creative and improved paranormal romance series out there right now.  Tortured heroes are one of my favorite reading tropes so the prospect of warriors cursed with demons is right up my alley.  The Darkest Surrender is the eighth book in the series (not including the various side-novellas) and it is one of my favorites.  I loved almost everything about this book from the sexy yet vulnerable hero, the fiery but not annoying heroine, and the fast-paced plot.  

The hero of The Darkest Surrender is Strider who is possessed by the demon Defeat.  Strider's main curse is that he must win every challenge that is brought upon him or he will suffer from unbearable pain.  This has forced Strider, who was always impulsively competitive, to find the balance between aggression and restraint in order to prevent his demon from accepting challenges right and left.  This need to win has affected Strider's love life as well.  His demon makes it difficult for him to be in a relationship without worrying about being the woman's best lover or whatever.  But, these difficulties have definitely not lessened Strider's self-esteem.  He is extremely proud and confident in his looks, his fighting skills, and his bedroom prowess.

Strider is probably the sexiest warrior that Showalter has focused on in this series.  Please note, though, that this is before Paris, keeper of the demon Promiscuity, receives his book.  His confidence could have come across as arrogance, but it works for the situation he is in.  His pride is not overwhelming to the point of being annoying and allows him to be the perfect match for his heroine.

Kaia Skyhawk, the female protagonist, is half-Harpy, half-Phoenix and is an older sister of Gwen Skyhawk, wife of Strider's leader Sabin and twin of Bianka Skyhawk, wife of the warrior angel Lysander.  Due to an unfortunate incident in her adolescence, Kaia earned the moniker The Disappointment among the Harpies and has been the target of bullying and retaliation since.  Despite her traumatic past, Kaia is a vibrant heroine who has self-esteem issues, but rarely lets them affect her lifestyle.  Her loyalty to her friends and family is unwavering and she spends much of her time improving her fighting skills in order to protect the ones she cares about.  

Kaia is one of my favorite heroines that Showalter has written.  It is very difficult for authors to write feisty heroines without having them delve into the TSTL camp or the annoyingly angry camp.  Kaia is definitely none of those things.  She knows what she wants and goes after it without getting too far above her head.  She strives to prove her prowess to her family and her fellow Harpies, but ultimately figures out that she only needs to accept herself to be happy.  

Strider and Kaia have a vivacious and challenging relationship.  Strider's need to win could have clashed horribly with Kaia's competitive drive, but they build each other up through their altercations.  Kaia needs a consort who can keep up with her physically and not feel threatened by her.  Strider, on the other hand, needs a heroine who is not cowered by his strength and win at all costs attitude.  These two characters are very similar, in interesting ways, and supply the other with exactly what they need.  Their romance is sexy and vibrant and full of interest for readers.

I also enjoyed all the side characters in Showalter's world.  While the main story of The Darkest Surrender is focused on Strider and Kaia, readers are still provided information about other key players.  Specifically, in this book, Showalter concentrates on Kane, keeper of Disaster, and Paris, keeper of Promiscuity.  Paris's book is the next one to be published so readers are shown quite a few scenes of his journey to find Sienna, his lost love.  Kane is a warrior that has not been concentrated on yet so it was nice to find out what was going on in his mind and see some foreshadowing of his ultimate destiny.

In addition to the future heroes, there were many scenes with existing characters that I loved reading.  Due to the plot, there was a lot of interaction with Kaia, her sisters, and other Harpies.  This provided some fascinating background on the Harpies in the LOTU universe.  It was especially nice to see scenes with Bianka/Lysander and Gwen/Sabin as well.   I was also drawn to Kaia, Bianka, and Gwen's eldest sister Taliyah and her friend Neeka.   

Finally, I enjoyed the overall plot of The Darkest Surrender.  Kaia and her sisters' journey to win the Harpy Games caused the pace to move along quickly from setting to setting and provide the reader with unlimited entertainment.  There was always something to look forward to with this storyline and I thought it worked well in balance with Kaia and Strider's love story.



“There was something so best-musical-ever when people screamed and begged for mercy, and she could listen to a good musical all day.” --Kaia

"Now, I'm not doubting you, you understand, but I'm gonna need you to prove your love.  You do remember promising to do so, don't you?" --Strider


1. The Darkest Fire (prequel-novella)
2. The Darkest Night
3. The Darkest Kiss
4. The Darkest Pleasure
5. The Darkest Prison (novella)
6. The Darkest Whisper
7. The Darkest Angel (novella)
8. The Darkest Passion
9. The Darkest Lie
10. The Darkest Secret
11. The Darkest Surrender
12. The Darkest Seducation (Coming 2012)


Book Depository Page
Goodreads Page
Author Website