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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Publication: September 27th 2011 by Little, Brown
420 pages
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1
Source: Purchased
Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

I love Karou: her eccentricities and her secrets, her bright blue hair and her drawings of monsters. She is the exact opposite of those spineless heroines who act like doll-puppet hybrids and follow whatever the guy counterparts tell them to do. Karou instead attacks her guy counterpart with Chinese crescent-moon blades. The difference is obvious, yes?

Then there is the fact that the book centers around Prague. Prague! Some place that is not the US or England or France. Do you have any idea how refreshing that is? Although Karou zooms in and out of this city -- this reality, even -- throughout the novel, we still get to catch glimpses of lovely Prague and its “ghost tours” and cathedrals.

And of course, the plot is deliciously twisted and full of so many weird elements that they all somehow come together and successfully contribute to the novel’s uniqueness. There are rooms filled with nothing but jars and jars of teeth. There are scuppy necklaces that give you teeny, tiny wishes. There are puppet masters and dressed like the reflection of moonlight across the water. Really, I have never read anything quite like Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It’s just so strange.

I love its strangeness.

This novel also features a wonderfully done star-crossed romance. Who knew that was even possible in YA? It’s a dark romance, too, full of sacrifices and misplaced trust. But it was also sweet and oh so satisfying.

Although the ending of Daughter of Smoke and Bone is not a cliffhanger, per se, I still want more. Now all I can do is shake my fists in the air and implore Ms. Taylor to publish the sequel as soon as possible. Or maybe I’ll take the less violent route and just read this book again. And again. And again.

Rating: 5
incomprehensibly awesome

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Contest Craze Giveaway

~ This giveaway is now CLOSED ~

This giveaway is part of Princess Bookie's Contest Craze.

In honor of the impending October 25th release of The Iron Knight, the last book in The Iron Fey saga, I am giving away a copy of the third book, The Iron Queen (see my review). Yes, the one with the very, very pink cover.

Not that there's anything wrong with pink, of course.

So... Who's excited for The Iron Knight? I actually have a galley of it sitting comfortably in my Kindle right now but have yet to actually read it. No idea why I'm putting it off. Perhaps I'm sad to see this fun series come to an end.

Onto the contest. To win The Iron Queen, answer the following question:

You are now one of the fey, delighting in kidnapping the poor humans from their beds and bringing them into the faery realm. If you could kidnap anyone (fictional or otherwise), who would you kidnap, and what would you make them do for/to you?

Sidenote: I would really appreciate it if you could keep your answers PG13. I'm sure you know what I mean by that...

Comment on this post with your answer, and then fill out the Rafflecopter widget below accordingly. There are extra entry opportunities, too! Following via GFC is not required but is highly appreciated.

Some leftover details of the giveaway:
  • There will be 1 winner notified via email
  • Open to US residents 13 years of age or older only

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fateful by Claudia Gray

Publication: September 13th 2011 by HarperTeen
336 pages
Source: ARC via Flamingnet Teen Book Reviews
Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

Tess finally has the chance to leave the Lisles she has served since childhood. Spoiled, demanding, and utterly obnoxious, the head of the Lisles family has decided to relocate her children, Tess, and two other servants to America via the Titanic. Tess is happy to oblige and plans on resigning the second she sets her foot down on American soil. But there are mysteries aboard the majestic vessel, mysteries that are somehow tied to the unknowing Lisles. It all started with a wolf in a dark alley and a handsome protector. And now, it is so much more.

Fateful’s synopsis alone will draw tons of interested potential readers. Werewolves on the Titanic? Now that is something that will either turn out mind-blowing and original or simply a sad little carbon copy of standard PNR. Fateful lands somewhere between these two extremes.

Although the novel did not make me restructure my existence or reevaluate my values or anything, it was addicting. I just can’t help but want to know more about what happens to our heroine. Fun and fluffy. If I had to write this book review in three words, they would be fun and fluffy.

However, I shall conclude with three warnings to possible future readers:

1) Fateful is afflicted with an extreme case of unexplainable attraction. Love at first sight, as some would say. I know this bothers a lot of people -- myself included. This portion of the plot made me frown.

2) While Tess is a heroine that fights savagely for her own safety, she basically swoons whenever the love interest is near. Said love interest -- named Alec, if you’re curious -- also repeatedly asks Tess to stay away from his for her own safety. Of course, Tess does not heed the warning. Déjà vu? My frown deepened noticeably.

3) Lastly, the Titanic setting felt more like a crutch than an actual component of the story. The ship was mentioned when it was needed, and pretty much ignored when it was not.

Even with all this frowning, the irrational part of my mind enjoyed reading Fateful immensely. The rational part, however, is a lot pickier, as you have hopefully noticed. Anyone looking for a fun and fluffy novel with a slight edge will be more than satisfied with Fateful.

Rating: 3
fairly intriguing

Saturday, September 10, 2011

In My Lap (4)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren. I'm calling mine In My Lap because 1) I do not have a mailbox, just a small cubby, 2) I do in fact have a lap, and most importantly, 3) clueless individuals will think this is really sketchy, and I like confusing people.

I thought doing a biweekly IMM would have been a good idea, but as you can see from the incredibly long list of books below, it was not. I am a serial eBook-obtainer. Yes. Yes, I am.

This week I received for review:

Fateful by Claudia Gray

And for my lovely Kindle, I got:

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
The Curse of Wendigo by Rick Yancey
Abarat by Clive Barker
Corsets & Clockwork by multiple authors
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Entangled by Cat Clarke

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Possess by Gretchen McNeil
Luminous by Dawn Metcalf
Cascade by Lisa Tawn Bergren
The Warlock by Michael Scott
Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys

She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott
Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev
Good Oil by Laura Buzo
Blood Song by Rhiannon Hart
This is Shyness by Leanne Hall
Shut Out by Kody Kiplinger

I'm especially excited about
  • The Monstrumologist trilogy (I have a galley of the third book not listed here)
  • Good Oil, Blood Song, and This is Shyness because they're all Aussie
  • and Shut Out because I liked the author's debut, The DUFF
I just recently finished Anna Dressed in Blood, too, and really enjoyed it. Some of the more gory parts succeeded in making me wince a few times, actually. But that only made me want to read more of it. Morbid curiosity much?

So, what landed in your lap this week?

The Star Shard by Frederic S. Durbin

Publication: February 27th 2012 by HMH
320 pages
Source: ARC via VOYA
Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

I am not much of a Middle Grade reader. You could say that I sort of skipped a step in my reading repertoire while growing up, jumping directly from children’s books like Magic Tree House to YA like The Hunger Games. Maybe I should go back and fill in that gaping MG hole now, because The Star Shard exceeded expectations.

I was waiting for simplicity and frankly, not much depth. This is a MG faerie fantasy after all. Plus, I admit that my opinion of MG is not terribly high (very hypocritical, I know, since I haven’t read a lot of MG). I was, however, not prepared to be bombarded by the deliciousness that is this slightly rustic high fantasy world and a 12-year-old heroine that displays a lot more common sense than the average hormonal-driven and air-headed YA protagonist.

Our darling main character Cybril is a slave on the Thunder Rake. Sold into this giant wheeled city at an early age, Cybril survives, as per Master Rombol’s orders, by singing for crowds during market days. There are snippets of lyrics spread throughout The Star Shard and even complete sheet music for two of the songs. Is that not the coolest supplementary material you’ve ever seen? And then of course, we have Loric, the faerie lad with the silver eyes and enigmatic smile -- as much as young boys’ smiles can be enigmatic, I suppose. Cybril and Loric develop an awkward fascination with each other that later fleshes out into an adorable friendship and maybe even a relationship-to-be.

With a plot fraught with twists and turns, skeleton keys and potion-induced beauty, The Star Shard reads like a clear well of water. It’s refreshing and free of angst or love triangles. Just pure adventure. And two little children desperately sprinting together toward their shared finish line, hand-in-hand.

Rating: 4
delightfully scrumptious

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Back to the Books Giveaway Hop Winners!

309 entries. 309. Can you believe it? That number is mind-boggling, and the fact that it's divisible by 3 is quite amazing, too. I'm sure you're all eager to know who won and have already scrolled down to look at the names by now, so kudos to the people who're still reading this post intro.

So, the lucky winners of Touch of Frost, Fairy Bad Day, The Dark City, Personal Demons, or 2 Twilight posters are the following:
  1. Antane Amstrong
  2. Erin Baker
  3. Christina @ A Reader of Fictions
It's going to work like this: Antane (since she's winner #1) will get to choose 2 books or the posters. Erin will choose second, and Christina will get the last set.

Emails will be arriving at your mailboxes soon.

And hopefully some of my new followers would like to stick around and actually, you know, read my site content in the future. Hopefully...? Regardless, thank you for participating and making this giveaway such a success!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Ashfall by Mike Mullin

Publication: October 11th 2011 by Tanglewood Press
466 pages
Series: Ashfall #1
Source: ARC from Tanglewood via NetGalley

To adopt the slang of the stereotypical blonde, blue-eyed SoCal surfer dude: “Ashfall was hella legit, man!” It features an epic adventure of survival in the face of natural adversity, adaptation amidst chaos, and a frantic love that is equal parts desperation and need. Ashfall is going to appeal to a wide variety of readers, as it has something to offer every single one of you out there.

I would have liked Ashfall a lot more, too, if not for the beginning. We are dumped right into the middle of a volcanic eruption and the series of unfortunate events -- you see what I did there? -- that follows, and yet, the novel seems to drag on and on. It literally took me 7 days to read the first 1/4 of Ashfall and 1 day to read the rest. So yes, pacing was a problem.

Besides that, I enjoyed the novel. There was a good balance of gore, fighting, starvation, and discovery. Our protagonist Alex is brave and foolish and horny (like most teenage boys), and the love interest Darla is the definition of kickass. She’s the one stitching up axe wounds and smushing liquefied rabbit brain on animal hides -- don't ask -- while Alex struggles not to puke in the background.

Ashfall is an intense new post-apocalyptic novel that falters a bit in pacing but is otherwise a very engrossing read. It’s a great way to heighten your chances of surviving the next supervolcanic eruption, too!

Wait, looks like Californian surfer dude is back with a bit of reassurance: “Since no supervolcanoes will erupt for probably another few million years, you can chillax, OK? Here, have a beer.”

Rating: 3.5
between fairly intriguing and delightfully scrumptious

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Labor Day Weekend Read-A-Thon

You know those books you've always wanted to read, but you keep getting distracted by new and shiny ARCs or school or homework or life? I am normally lazy and have never set up a list of books to read. When I finish a book, I go through my review pile and just pick up another one at random. That's where Katie's Book Blog's Labor Day Weekend Read-a-Thon comes in!

Right, so here are some I'd like to read while I have a chance. I've tried one other read-a-thon before without success, since that happened during a school week. (Yeah, I don't know what I was thinking when I signed up for it, either...) The list is as follows:

  1. Babe in Boyland by Jody Gehrman
  2. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
  3. A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley
  4. The Folk Keeper by Franny Billingsley
  5. Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
  6. Abarat by Clive Barker
I'll be updating on Twitter (@AznCinnamonRoll) and will do a Read-a-Thon Conclusion Post on the blog.

Have a happy Labor Day weekend!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

This Month in Books: August 2011

Well well well, so sunny August has finally come to a close. And apparently, so has my reviewing drive... Although I'm blaming school for that. No worries, if all goes well, 2 reviews will be going up this weekend.

My favorites of this lovely month are: 

I read 19 books (favorites are bolded):
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • Bloodlines by Richelle Mead (review)
  • Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley (review)
  • You Against Me by Jenny Downham
  • Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson (review)
  • The Stranger by Albert Camus
  • Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (review)
  • Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder
  • The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell
  • Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard (review)
  • 離不開 by 鄭梓靈
  • Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
  • Saving June by Hannah Harrington (review)
  • Chime by Franny Billingsley
  • Cross My Heart by Katie Klein
  • Ashfall by Mike Mullin (review)
  • The Star Shard by Frederic S. Durbin (review)
  • Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar
So, how was your August? Even though I'm sad the month's over, I am loving school right now (even with all the homework/stress). A challenging life -- when experienced in moderation -- is infinitely more interesting than a relaxing one, don't you think?

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