Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"The Dark City" (Relic Master #1) by Catherine Fisher

May 17, 2011
"Enter the world of RELIC MASTER.
Dark, dangerous and deadly-welcome to Anara, a world mysteriously crumbling to devastation, where nothing is what it seems: ancient relics emit technologically advanced powers, members of the old Order are revered by the people but hunted by the governing Watch, and the great energy that connects all seems to also be destroying all. A master and his scholar, searching for a relic to save the world, will be tested beyond their limits, for there are monsters-some human, some not- that also want the relic's power and will stop at nothing to get it."- the back of the ARC (Won in Early contest on LibraryThing)

I had very high expectations for "Relic Master: The Dark City" and I can honestly say that they were met! I held these expectations because after reading the amazing "Incarceron" and "Sapphique" by Catherine Fisher, I realized that she had this really whimsical, kind of poetic writing style that I absolutely adore. When I picked up this book, I realized it could be very different, I've read books by authors when they have separate books and you can't even tell they're by the same author, the writing is so different.

No, no. If part of the reason you loved "Incarceron" was the writing, then that's one reason you'll like this book. It's very similar! One of my other favorite parts of those books was the poems/excerpts before each chapter, and those are here too!

The story itself was really cool, a classic sort of YA/mid-grade fantasy, that fans of "Inkheart" and "Eragon" will probably enjoy. I liked the characters, my favorite was probably Carys, because I liked how she started out thinking one thing as she was taught to but throughout the story her mind opened to the new ideas, those ideas that the Keepers weren't as the Watch told her. I also liked Galen because the way it turned out how in the know he was the whole time even though you never expected it.

The idea of the 'relics' was interesting, and so was the rest of the world, with the Watch and the Order, it was an interesting book! I liked the occasional journal entries from Carys because that's how we saw how she was changing throughout the story.

Also: In a note that isn't entirely related to the books themselves; the cover. The cover is very cool as it's an element from the book AND IT'S SHINY!!! The next three are supposed to be that way to. Shiny books are just nice, they catch your eye, it's good marketing, it's nice on the shelf, they're fun to look at. The plan with the map pieces on the inside of each book is really great too.

Anyway, to end, I really liked this book and very much look forward to the other three. (and their shiny covers, of course..)

To learn more about the series, go here. Look for it in May and the other three each following month!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"The Dark and Hollow Places" by Carrie Ryan

"There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister's face when she and Elias left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the horde as they found their way to the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters. Annah's world stopped that day and she's been waiting for him to come home ever since. Without him, her life doesn't feel much different from that of the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Then she meets Catcher and everything feels alive again.
Except, Catcher has his own secrets—dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah's longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it's up to Annah—can she continue to live in a world drenched in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return's destruction?" -author Carrie Ryan's website

"The Dark and Hollow Places" was probably the best book in the Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy so far. What better way to end the series? As I've read the three books each one has gotten better, it almost makes me wish there were going to be more- and I would love for there to be more- but at the same time, I loved the ending. It was rather eloquent, it left questions but not the 'live or die because the character is about to fall off a cliff' questions, but more the 'where do they go from here? at least they're ALIVE!' type of questions.

I thought that Annah was the most likeable character to lead the story so far, and her relationship with Catcher was really sweet. I also kind of enjoyed that this time there was no love triangle sort of thing unless you count past feelings for Elias.

I also definitely thought that this was the most emotional driven one yet, the whole novel, all of the writing, it was just so real and emotional. I could feel what Annah was feeling because of the amazing way it was written; even though I have never experienced such fear or desolation or really strong feelings as Annah was.

Of course, there's one of my favorite elements throughout the whole series of the character's abilities to feel and strive for hope where there is none, and defeat all odds through hope. It's just inspiring. Also, an ongoing element that I adore is the fact that while the three books contain tons of zombies, they capture so much thoughts and speculations about said zombies, and also all of the characters manage to fight the zombies and think about the zombies and it's NEVER cheesy. How often can you say that about anything that involves zombies?

 All in all, an AMAZING, EMOTIONAL, INCREDIBLE end to the trilogy. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way!

If you would like to find out more about The Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy go to author Carrie Ryan's website. If you'd like to see my reviews for the first two books, The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead-Tossed Waves click those <--- book titles! Also, there's that post where I talked about the Dark and Hollow Places tour here.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

"Sapphique" by Catherine Fisher

Note: I'm going to try and make this review as spoiler free as possible! If you haven't read "Incarceron" though, you might just want to check out that (admittedly to short to do it justice, but I just... couldn't put my thoughts into words for it properly) review!
"Finn has escaped from the terrible living Prison of Incarceron, but its memory torments him, because his brother Keiro is still inside. Outside, Claudia insists he must be king, but Finn doubts even his own identity. Is he the lost prince Giles? Or are his memories no more than another construct of his imprisonment? And can you be free if your friends are still captive? Can you be free if your world is frozen in time? Can you be free if you don't even know who you are? Inside Incarceron, has the crazy sorcerer Rix really found the Glove of Sapphique, the only man the Prison ever loved. Sapphique, whose image fires Incarceron with the desire to escape its own nature. If Keiro steals the glove, will he bring destruction to the world? Inside. Outside. All seeking freedom. Like Sapphique." -goodreads

I think that Sapphique was an awesome sequel to Incarceron. It had all of the my favorite elements of Incarceron- the characters, the complicated but very enjoyable plot twists, the mysterious worlds of the Realm and Incarceron, and the amazing writing by Catherine Fisher. At first I was weary about just one more book coming out after Incarceron- I was convinced that there had to be more- it just seemed too complicated to fit into two books. The incredibly broad (Or should I say small?) world created by Fisher didn't seem like it could be contained by just two books. All of my questions could not possibly be answered!

All of my questions were NOT answered, and the world could NOT be contained in two books. Did I care? No. The questions I still had at the end of the book and the world that just didn't seem sealed properly into the two books were not a bad thing, I thought they were the best way to end it. The way it ended you wondered what the characters were going to do about the state of the world, and you wondered what the world was going to be like, but in a good way. Maybe you'd wish for an answer, but at the same time it was wonderful, perfect for your own speculation and imagination to come up with the answers.

I liked the way all the characters turned out and the way it was decided who Prince Giles was, by which there wasn't really a *true* answer, I thought that was great in the same kind of way that you just had to decide for yourself. Jared. JARED! AT THE END! That was awesome. I can't say anymore about that, or I'll spoil everything. Everything about Sapphique and the ending. That was just really cool. I know I sound cryptic but you have to read them and find out!

If you like the way this sounds you should really check out Incarceron and if you have, then you HAVE to read Sapphique!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

In which I meet Carrie Ryan and reveal my secret!

In a rare break from the flow of reviews, I am here to post about today, in which I went to Borders for a book signing/author event for The Dark and Hollow Places tour, with amazing author Carrie Ryan!

You may recall that I reviewed "The Forest of Hands and Teeth" and "The Dead-Tossed Waves" a while ago. My review of "The Dark and Hollow Places" will be coming SOON, because I bought it today!

Carrie Ryan is awesome. She talked about how she came to start writing the Forest of Hands and Teeth series, her fear of scary movies, her previous book rejections, the books themselves, and answered our questions about the world of zombies (Unconsecrated, Mudo, Plague Rats)! She also signed our books and let us take pictures with her! It was really interesting, to find things out about the books and her motivation and journey to/for writing The Forest of Hands and Teeth.

The sign outside the Borders
Me getting my books signed

Me and Carrie Ryan

The second book, signed! Also, this is the one she put thanks for offering me Diet Coke in because of twitter.

For more pictures check out the facebook here. Also, yes, my secret revealed^ above. You're probably all, did she get Cat's name wrong? No. Cat's my nickname, and it's really not a secret just something I've never mentioned that my name was actually Linda :P

In short, today was AWESOME :) Thanks muchly for Carrie Ryan stopping in IL and having her event!

P.S... If you think the Forest of Hands and Teeth books are awesome or want to learn more about them and see the awesome Carrie Ryan in person you should go to one of her remaining events if she's going to be near you! Check out the rest of the schedule.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"Heist Society" by Ally Carter

"When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.
Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.
For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family's history--and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way." -Ally Carter's website

I loved Heist Society. I thought the Gallagher Girls books (I've admittedly only read the first two) were really cute (fluffy cute, but cute), and when I found out Ally Carter had written another book, about a family of thieves rather then a school for spies I had to read it. I'm so glad I did, it was awesome! I liked it better then the GG books, and I finished it and practically wanted to re-read it again. I liked the whole idea of the thieves and 'the family business' and everything. I liked the characters a lot, I thought Kat was a great heroine to lead the story and well, Hale was pretty awesome. Also; are we going to find out Hale's first name in "Uncommon Criminals"?? Anyway, it was a pretty adventurous and cool story. There were unexpected twists and turns and everything, and I just liked the way the whole thing unfolded. For me, there really were no slumps in the story (times where it seemed slower then others, etc..), and it was a pretty quick read. I liked how a lot of it revolved around the different paintings and everything, and that there was travel so the setting changed. It reminded me a lot of an Alex Rider book, except with a heroine and they're thieves, not spies.

Anyway. If a relatively quick read with adventure, awesomeness, good characters, by the author Gallagher Girls with an Alex Rider feel- you should really look into "Heist Society".

Monday, March 21, 2011

"The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" by John Boyne

"If you start to read this book, you will go on a journey with a nine-year-old boy named Bruno. (The this isn't a book for nine-year-olds.) And sooner or later you will arrive with Bruno at a fence.

Fences like this exist all over the world.
We hope you never have to encounter one." -back of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is the incredible story of the Bruno, the son of a Nazi 'commander' who works at one of the work camps, during the Holocaust. Bruno has led a normal life in Berlin, where he's had friends, and a very nice house as long as he can remember. Then, one day, the Fury comes to dinner, and after dinner, everyone is very excited because his father has been promoted, he's a commander. Shortly after this event, Bruno comes home one day to find the servant girl, Maria, packing his belongings. He finds out that him, his mother and father, and his sister are all going to be moving. They end up at place called Out-With, which is a home located right next to the work camp. Eventually, Bruno goes exploring around and finds another nine-year-old boy who shares his birthday, and they become friends. His name is Schmuel. He's a Jew who 'lives' at the camp. The rest of the book is mostly in regards to their friendship and all of the events surrounding it as perceived by a rather naive nine-year-old, who really doesn't understand what's going on between the Germans and the Jews, or even what a Jew is.

It was a great book. It was sad. It was odd, because nothing was very dark or scary in reading simply because you were seeing it through Bruno's eyes, and as I said- he's very naive. He doesn't understand any of the bad things, so you don't really see them- although you know what's happening if you know anything about history-, (the end is a good example). It's great because even though Bruno's dad is a major Nazi, Bruno doesn't get any of that -no one ever told him-, so it's not focused around that and he doesn't hold the same ideas. It was a sad, but good book.

If you're looking for a fantastic historical, or want to read more about that terrible part of history, or just want to read a book that deals with an important issue, you should read "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas". I also recommend it to people that enjoyed "The Book Thief" or the upcoming "Between Shades of Gray".

Saturday, March 19, 2011

"The Truth about Forever" by Sarah Dessen

"Macy's summer stretches before her, carefully planned and outlined. She will spend her days sitting at the library information desk. She will spend her evenings studying for the SATs. Spare time will be used to help her obsessive mother prepare for the big opening of the townhouse section of her luxury development. But Macy's plans don't anticipate a surprising and chaotic job with Wish Catering, a motley crew of new friends, or ... Wes. Tattooed, artistic, anything-but-expected Wes. He doesn't fit Macy's life at all--so why does she feel so comfortable with him? So ... happy? What is it about him that makes her let down her guard and finally talk about how much she misses her father, who died before her eyes the year before? Sarah Dessen delivers a page-turning novel that carries readers on a roller coaster of denial, grief, comfort, and love as we watch a broken but resilient girl pick up the pieces of her life and fit them back together." -Sarah Dessen's website

Everyone kept telling me to read Sarah Dessen's books because she's amazing, and that this was one of the best, probably a good one to start with. I'm so glad I did. I adored The Truth About Forever. The characters and storytelling were amazing.

The book entails Macy's journey dealing many things, including; dealing with the sudden loss of her father, and dealing with the fine, just fine, attitude that she put on for everyone, as well as learning how to release her emotions and let go of some of the things she's actually feeling; the impossible feat of being 'perfect'; and the always changing definition of 'forever'. Macy's realization that being her mom and hers' vision of perfect is actually an unachievable goal was really great, because I think that (usually someone else's definition) of perfect is something a lot of people try and fail to be and realizing that you are who you are and flaws are important is a big deal; and so's the realization that no matter what nothing and no one is perfect. The ongoing theme of the changing definition of forever was really great too. Wes and her were cute and it was good how they both got to deal with the loss of a parent together, and help each-other out with that. A good book all over! I'll be sure to read another book by Sarah Dessen sometime! :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

"Beast" by Donna Jo Napoli

This is a lesson, O great hunter Orasmyn: Never attack dangerous beasts unless they are weak. Another lesson: Don't assume they are weak.
The Feast of Sacrifices is coming up. The Persian Prince Orasmyn is acting as a hajjiha, and he takes it upon himself to make sure that his family's sacrifice animal- a camel- is prepared. As he and his best friend make the preparations, they find a scar on the animal's hump. It is written that only non-blemished animals are to be sacrificed, but Orasmyn figures it doesn't matter all that much. He and his friend hide the blemish and continue on.
At first, all seems to be well after the sacrifice. Nothing's too odd... not until a pari (fairy) appears to Orasmyn, and puts a curse on him that will change his life forever.
Taking the form of a lion, Orasmyn must run away from his father, away from his country, to seek a woman who will love him. His quest takes him to France, where Belle, a beautiful merchant's daughter, will somehow find her way to him.
So the Merciful One forgives me, I am sure. That illustration of Rustam is one of my favorites, all gold and metallic green.
I miss colors.
As is probably obvious from the synopsis, this is a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast. But a retelling like I have never read before. Instead of focusing on Belle, it focuses on the Beast... and his story. Instead of him being a haughty prince, he's changed into a religious and normal prince... and instead of a random beast, he's turned into a lion... This part was apparently based off of a poem that Donna Jo Napoli read.
I'd give this book four stars.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

"Divergent" by Veronica Roth

May 3rd, 2011
"In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her." -goodreads

Divergent was epic! Another thrilling dystopia (you must think I'm getting out of hand with this, but I promise, no more dystopia reviews for... a week or so!). It was exciting, surprising, suspenseful, filled with action and adventure and even romantic. Sounds cool, right? Not only was the story itself cool (and told EXTREMELY WELL), the characters were great. Triss (Beatrice) was awesome, a strong heroine to lead the story, kind of like Katniss in The Hunger Games (except I found Triss a lot more likable) or Max in Maximum Ride. Four was great too, quite the complex character. Divergent ended with a rather good cliffhanger. 

The part of the story I found most fascinating was probably the factions. Not only were they rather unique and thus interesting, they were also really cool because I kept wondering to myself, which one would I choose? I think that question comes up with most readers though. And then the whole Divergent thing... That was the best. This book was filled with twists and turns that will make you want to do nothing but read it until it ends. If you want an exciting YA read that helps you cope with your Hunger Games deficiency and get more great dystopias, Divergent is a must-read! Yay Divergent!

If you'd like to learn more about Divergent, check out author Veronica Roth's blog.

Note: Thank you HarperCollins/Katherine Tegan Books for sending me a copy to review. 
Reader's Notice: This does not in any way effect my review, it is unbiased! (As always!)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"It's a Mall World After All" by Janette Rallison

Chapter two of my dissertation: "You Can Meet All Sorts of Interesting People at the Mall." Don't talk to them though, as this just encourages them to talk back to you. Talking leads to trouble. Most wars, divorces, and political elections happen after a lot of talking. When at the mall, it's best to pretend you're mute. Or from another country. A country of mutes, for example.
Charlotte has learned a lot from working at the mall. From her position as the "perfume-lady"... the person who spritzes pointless perfume on people... she can see half way across the entire mall. She's learned that "Relationships with guys are a lot like shopping." She's learned to tell who is depressed and who's planning to win the lottery to get by in life... just by what they buy at the mall.
She's also learned that her best friend Brianna's boyfriend is cheating on her.
Charlotte goes and tells her friend, and at first it looks like it'll all end out well enough. Brianna will dump the jerk, and Charlotte with be hailed as a hero.
Uh... until Bryant (the cheating boyfriend) somehow convinces Brianna that it was all just a big misunderstanding.
Suddenly, Charlotte's the enemy, but she's not about to just sit there and let Bryant get away with it. Why would she? She knows the truth. She's going to get the moral high ground... no matter what.
The problem is, everyone seems to be against her. Evidence keeps piling up in both her favor, and Bryants, and with Bryant's best friend, Colton, aiming to keep Charlotte from finding out the truth, the job's harder than she thought.
Luckily, Charlotte's prepared.
Colton leaned toward me across the table. "Yes, we know what service projects are," he said, "because you keep making us do them. This year alone we've bought books for the library, done a canned food drive, and volunteered at a soup kitchen, where-I might add- some homeless women tried to hit on me."
"She was a harmless old lady," I said.
"She told me I was the reincarnation of her dead husband, kept calling me Phil, and tried to follow me home."
This book had the most stupid premise ever. I picked it up at the library and went, "wow. That sounds stupid." But I had read My Fair Godmother, by Janette Rallison, and even though it was going against my better book judgment, I brought it home.
And wow, I'm glad I did.
This book, although it didn't have the most promising premise, was funny, witty, and interesting. (As my mom would say, "Good writing makes up for a bad premise.") I would give this book five stars, and definitely recommend it to a girl who needs a laugh. :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"Bones of Faerie" by Janni Lee Simner

Towns had died for not understanding that much. My father was a sensible man.
But the memory of my sister's bones, cracked and bloody in the moonlight, haunts me still.
It's been several years since the War ended, but the aftereffects of the battles are still evident in Liza's world. Children are born with glass clear hair. Trees reach for people with evil intents. Hawks that used to prey on small rodents now aim for larger food, and to leave your village after dark is a death wish. Liza, a fifteen year-old girl, knows the rules. How could she not, with her father being the one who keeps them alive? With a sister eaten by wild animals because of her hair? With the terrible fear that some day her own hair will turn glass clear, and her father will kill her? No, Liza knows the rules, and she keeps them. It's better to be paranoid than dead.
But one night Liza's mother disappears, and when Liza leaves to find her, she discovers by accident that she, Liza, has the power to see... To see the future, to see the past. While on her quest to find her mother, Liza will have to discover whether magic really is bad... or if it's simply a tool that must be used with care.
A shadow darkened the rocks ahead. I looked up even as the hawk screeched and dove for us. Allie froze, gaze turned upward, too startled to run. I threw myself over her, saw Matthew hit the dirt as well. Around us, the stones exploded in a snow-bright blaze.
This is a book I've been meaning to read for a while. I got it from the library, but couldn't get around to reading it until it was due. (How typical.) But now that I have read it, I'm glad I did. It was an interesting book... it was a fast read, and that combined with just a thinnish book, made for only several hours reading. But it was totally worth it.
Liza was a good main character... I found myself completely identified with her, and I think most teenagers (At least girls), can identify especially with the conflict with her dad, Ian. Not that I'm saying most of our dad's are abusive... simply that it can seem that way (yeah, teenage overreaction. ;) ) But besides that, the other characters were interesting as well, and I can say that the only character that I didn't think was particularly deep was Matthew... he basically seemed like "the boy", even though there was no "romance" to the book. :)
I'd give this book four stars.

Monday, March 14, 2011

"Those That Wake" by Jesse Karp

March 21st, 2011
"New York City’s spirit has been crushed. People walk the streets with their heads down, withdrawing from one another and into the cold comfort of technology. Teenagers Mal and Laura have grown up in this reality. They’ve never met. Seemingly, they never will. But on the same day Mal learns his brother has disappeared, Laura discovers her parents have forgotten her. Both begin a search for their families that leads them to the same truth: someone or something has wiped the teens from the memories of every person they have ever known. Thrown together, Mal and Laura must find common ground as they attempt to reclaim their pasts." -goodreads

This book was another interesting dystopia (can you tell that Dystopias are definitely the next vampire craze? and also that I kind of love them?). This one, rather then being directly dictated what to do by a force like The Capitol in The Hunger Games or the society in Matched, the residents of New York are kind of letting themselves be controlled by their technology. That concept was a bit frightening, probably because people really can be like that- absorbed by their smartphones or the television when the people and interactions you should be involved with are right in front of you. I've experienced people doing things like that, just as I probably have before. So some of the elements in Those That Wake really weren't that far off.

What else? The book is rather dark and grim, the tone especially, all the way through (almost gothic!). I've read reviews from people that didn't like this and thought it took away from the book and while I agree that it was a bit of a tedious tone, the entire time, I also realize that's how the story was. It wasn't happy and exciting, it was suspenseful and grim. I liked the main characters (Mal and Laura). I enjoyed the story over all. 

ARC through program at my awesome library. Thank you!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

"Between Shades of Gray" by Ruta Sepetys

Release: March 22nd
"Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.
Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously—and at great risk—documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart." -from Goodreads

This book was amazing. It was touchingly emotional and beautifully written; as well as painfully realistic and with terrifying circumstances, situations, and other details. The characters were as deep as the story. The characters in this book go through so many terrible and awe-inspiring things that it's incredible, as well as terribly upsetting and heart breaking because the situation under Stalin happened. Author Ruta Sepetys even says that a lot of the things that happened in the story are based on real survivors' accounts. It was scary at times, depressing, encouraging, depressing, and all of those elements just made it so authentic. This beautiful book is not an easy book to read, at times I wanted to cry or put the book down or something when I read more about the journey Lina was on, because it was just that emotional, but all of those things that made the book are just so important I think because so much of it is true. A must-read if you're into historical fiction, finding out more about history, or just a dramatically amazing story, you'll adore Between Shades of Gray!

If you would like to find out more about Between Shades of Gray go to the website here or Ruta Sepetys's website here.

ARC through program at my library! Thanks! 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"The Dead-Tossed Waves" by Carrie Ryan

"Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She’s content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry’s mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry’s generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother’s past in order to save herself and the one she loves." -goodreads

When I was first reading this book I was a little bit upset because I wanted more of Mary's story, which I didn't realize she wasn't supposed to be the main character. Then of course we found out what Gabry had to do with Mary and their relationship and everything, and as the story unfolded we did learn more about what happened to Mary, so then that was a lot better. That aside, The Dead-Tossed Waves was just as good as The Forest of Hands and Teeth, which I loved, because sometimes sequels/companions really don't live up to the first book in the series. I liked Gabry as the main character a lot more then I liked Mary. I also thought the story might've been more interesting as it just seemed to go more places, there wasn't a lot of lingering. I loved the whole mystery of who Gabry was, and her discovering that and Elias and everything. I also enjoyed getting to figure out more about the Unconsecrated/Mudo/Infected (Breakers, Immunes) especially because that wasn't really elaborated on in The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Anyway, I don't want to say much else because I don't want to spoil things for people that haven't yet read The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I highly recommend this series! I can't wait for "The Dark and Hollow Places" to come out later this month.

Monday, March 7, 2011

"The Forest of Hands and Teeth" by Carrie Ryan

"In Mary's world, there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent.
And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village. The fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth.
   But slowly, Mary's truths are failing her. She's learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power. And, when the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness.
   Now she must choose between her village and her future, between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. could there be life outside a world surrounded by so much death?" -the inside flap of the book

"The Forest of Hands and Teeth" is definitely one of my new favorite books, and one of the best books I've read so far in 2011! It's packed full of interesting and what I consider well formed characters, action, excitement, intensity, suspense, romance, danger, darkness, and scary elements all over. It's not just a book about zombies, by any means. It's not just a post-apocalypse novel. It's a post zombie apocalypse adventure filled engrossing novel filled with darkness, emotion, romance, and suspense (that should be stamped across the front of the book so that everyone knows). Mary's world is a terrifying, but realistic seeming take on the small world that might still exist after a zombie apocalypse occurred.  This is not one of those zombie books that's just packed with action, or guts, or gore; those elements are present in the book, but in the most beneficial way that it's perfect for the story. The way the Unconsecrated behave, the way they infect, their relentlessness.. it's just incredible. The Sisterhood and their mysteriousness, their usage of religion and threats of a divine power, God, to control the people in the village (though they don't really know it) were brilliant is well.... I could go on and on about how awesome this book is, but I'd spoil everything and you'd probably get bored, so I'll stop here and just say that I definitely rate The Forest of Hands and Teeth 5 stars, and say that I'm so looking forward to reading The Dead Tossed Waves (which was released last year) and The Dark and Hollow Places which comes out this month!

If you'd like to learn more about "The Forest of Hands and Teeth" go to Carrie Ryan's website.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

"Firelight" by Sophie Jordan

"With her rare ability to breathe fire, Jacinda is special even among the draki—the descendants of dragons who can shift between human and dragon forms. But when Jacinda's rebelliousness leads her family to flee into the human world, she struggles to adapt, even as her draki spirit fades. The one thing that revives it is Will, whose family hunts her kind. Jacinda can't resist getting closer to him, even though she knows she's risking not only her life but the draki's most closely guarded secret." -summary from Sophie Jordan's website!

Firelight was really great. I've wanted to read this one for a while, and then the cover for Vanish (the sequel, due September) came out and I decided that now would be a good time to read it! I'm so glad I did. Jacinda's voice in the book was one of my favorite things; what I mean is that, when I was reading Firelight, when it wasn't just a conversation exchanged, I really felt like I was reading into her thoughts, as she thought them, not just a written version of them, I found it really written the way she thinks. I also liked the characters, especially Will and Jacinda (by the way, awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww) and their development through the story. Although, on a personal basis, oh my, Jacinda's mom and Tamra are really REALLY easy to hate for most of the book.  I also liked how the story was unique because how many books do you read about a kind of human/dragon kind of girl, who falls in love with a boy who hunts her kind, and even turns out to be... well... I can't spoil that for you. That does bring me to the fact that this book is filled with twists and turns that you'd never expect, and gets better as it goes on! The ending was such a cliffhanger though, I can't wait for Vanish in September!

Friday, March 4, 2011

"The Replacement" by Brenna Yovanoff

"In the story, Emma's four years old. She gets out of bed and pads across the floor in her footie pajamas. When she reaches her hand between the bars, the thing in the crib moves closer. It tries to bite her and she takes her hand out again but doesn't back away. They spend all night looking at each other in the dark. In the morning, the thing is still crouched on the lamb-and-duckling mattress pad, staring at her.
It isn't her brother.
IT'S ME." -the back of "The Replacement"

I got interested in this book because it's part of Penguin's "Breathless Reads" campaign, which I came across because of my love for "Matched" by Ally Condie (which is also, obviously, part of the campaign). I saw it on the list, so I looked it up and added it to my TBR list, and got it from the library a couple of days ago. I'm glad I did get interested in this book, because it I did like the story! It was very interesting, the whole 'creature' being swapped for a baby every 7 years in the town of Gentry. It was a really creepy spooky story.  The problems I had with it, is the story was really kind of complicated to the point of being quite confusing sometimes. Other then that it was enjoyable (in a really really creepy kinda way). I also enjoyed reading of Mackie's rather dysfunctional family (not in a humorous kind of dysfunctional, just that), and thought his mother's relationship with the replacements and his father's seeming ignorance towards Mackie, then there's Emma, who was cool. I give it 4 stars. Also, the cover is pretty cool, and if I'd seen it without knowing anything else about the book, that probably would've intrigued me enough to pick it up and read it- I love awesome covers.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"The Morgue and Me" by John C. Ford

"Christopher just needed a job to kill time the summer after high school graduation. He didn’t expect it to be in the morgue. Or that he would accidentally discover a murder cover-up. Or that his discovery would lead him to a full-blown investigation involving bribery, kidnappings, more murders . . . and his best friend. And he certainly could never have predicted that Tina—loud, insanely hot, ambitious newspaper reporter Tina—would be his partner. But all of that did happen. And Christopher’s life will never be the same." -the penguin website

I saw this book and thought, hey, a kid working at a morgue, a murder, a new kind of detective mystery... that's kinda interesting! I read this book, and from when I started it, I quite liked it. I thought it was interesting. I also liked that it was kind of a new thing, because I haven't recently seen any books about a teenage boy getting a summer job at a morgue and discovering that there's a murder being covered up. I enjoyed the story, and I liked the characters. I thought the person that turned out to be the murderer was really surprising, I didn't expect that person to have done it. I think the only problems I had with this book were that sometimes the characters reacted ways and did things suddenly that I found kind of improbable, and I also noticed somewhere in the middle until towards the last couple of chapters, the story just slowed down a bit. It's not like I don't like books that aren't constantly fast-paced, there just seemed to be some sudden changes in the pace.

If you want to find out more about "The Morgue and Me" go to John C. Ford's website here.