Thursday, February 28, 2013

Review: The Grave Artist by Paula Lynn Johnson

The Grave Artist

Author: Paula Lynn Johnson

Publication Date: March 12th, 2012

Publisher: Self-Published

Genre: YA/Paranormal/Horror



16-year-old Clare can't stop drawing the bizarre, winged skulls she calls "Sammies". Her psychiatrist assumes the compulsive drawings are just expressions of Clare's grief over her father abandoning her. But then Clare discovers that her Sammies are exact matches for the Death's Head on the grave of Samantha Forsythe, a teen who reportedly fell to her death over two centuries ago. Before long, Clare's drawings morph into cryptic writings that urge her to uncover the truth behind Samantha's death. Together with Neil -- the friend she might be falling for -- Clare scours the local history for clues. She finds that, although Samantha was engaged to a wealthy landowner, there were whispered rumors of her involvement with a younger, biracial man. Soon, Clare is haunted by disturbing dream images -- a mysterious eye, a broken chain -- that point to someone Samantha called her "Dearest". But who is Dearest? And why does Samantha need Clare to find him so badly? Isolated and carrying hidden scars of her own, Clare fears her obsession with Samantha will threaten her sanity and safety. But it seems she has no choice in the matter . . .

My Thoughts: I picked this e-book for free a little while ago, and I've been reading it on my phone whenever I had down time, like waiting rooms or such. It was really a pretty great read and I'm quite surprised that it was free!

It's also a fairly quick, light, and easy read.  There really isn't too many characters to follow, the plot flows quite nicely with fantastic helpings of mystery and healthy splashes of the dark and unknown. I would agree that it could be placed in the horror genre,  but it's not a scare the pants off you kind of read. It treads the line between eerie and terrifying quite nicely without keeping us awake at night.

Clare's life has just made some drastic changes. She used to be a spoiled, wealthy girl, getting whatever she wanted and without a care in the world. But when Daddy, the bread winner, finds someone younger and newer than her mother all of that goes away pretty quickly. It would be an understatement to say that Clare didn't handle the changes well. On top of her trying to cope with her new less privileged life, things start getting pretty creepy when she starts drawing these skeleton heads compulsively. She literally has no control over it. When she tries to explore what is going on with her, she finds that the rabbit hole is much deeper than she anticipated. She soon finds herself within a love torn murder mystery with no way out.

I was quite surprised with the ending, it took a twist I did not for see in the slightest and I just love it when a book is capable of shocking me like that. It was overall quite intriguing, but not to the point where I would think about it even when I  wasn't reading it and couldn't wait to pick it back up. But at the same time, I was enjoying myself, and the story while I was reading it.  I was a little hot and cold with Clare. Her reactions and behavior towards what was happening in her real life and her family were at times childish and blown out of proportions. As well, I found she could be really spiteful and mean towards her mom and sister who were going through the exact same things she was. But outside of the family issues I really liked her. I liked the her that came out when she was searching for answers and facing her fears. In those moments she had a determination and compassion that was admirable.

Overall, it was quite a decent read. Quick and easy, and I would most likely recommend it. Especially to those who like a little history with dashes of mystery and ghosts.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (58)

Waiting on Wednesday is an event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly awaiting.

Dare You To
(Pushing the Limits #2)

Author: Katie McGarry

Expected Publication Date: May 28, 2013




"I dare you..."

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all....

I loved Pushing the Limits and can't wait to read Beth's story. It's going to be another good one! 

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (52)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by  MizB at Should Be Reading

To Participate you:
-Grab your current read
-Open to a random page
-Share two 'teaser' sentences from somewhere on that page

This week's teaser comes from:

Days of Blood & Starlight

Author: Laini Taylor



Liraz took the flower, looked at it, and then at Hazael, expressionless. And then she ate it. She chewed the flower and swallowed it. "Hmm," Said Hazael. "Not the usual response."

My Thoughts: I loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone immensely. So it's no surprise that only a short way into this book I am completely in love :D. I just love this series and Taylor's writing style, pure awesome!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass
(Throne of Glass #1)

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Publication Date: August 2nd 2012

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Genre: Fantasy



Meet Celaena Sardothien. Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.

In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake: she got caught.

Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament—fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?

My Thoughts: So with all of the hype around Throne of Glass at it's release, I decided that I absolutely NEEDED to read it and it is the only book that I have ever preordered (I even got the UK cover because I like it so much more!). So of course, it sat on my bookshelf until this month. Go me! Am I glad I finally got around to reading this (as well as the four novella prequels)? Yes, yes I am.

First of all, if you are planning on reading this and haven't read the novella's yet, you should most definitely check them out first! There would have been so many references that I didn't get if I hadn't of read them. And they are really cheap, like $1 each for Kobo. Secondly, stop hesitating like I did! These are seriously awesome! I love the world, characters and the writing style. It had been so long that I've read a decent fantasy that I couldn't get enough. I can't wait to see what happens in the next book. Sarah J. Maas just has a way of grabbing a hold of you and dragging you in. Only letting you emerge long enough to go into withdrawals before needing to continue reading. In my case it's terrible because I have to wait so long for me next "fix". I'm seriously a book junkie.

So the main character is Celaena. I like her a lot but I'm still having a hard time judging her character. I mean, she is the deadliest assassin around. I get the feeling that she doesn't like what she does most of the time, but then sometimes she does, if she really despises the person she's killing. She is apparently stunning and knows it. She's been pretty spoiled during her training, so is a bit of a brat to begin with (in the novellas more so) but after her time in Endovier she does change a bit for the better. She has trust issues (someone did set her up to get her captured) and no friends, so a bit of a loner. Overall, while I wasn't her biggest fan to begin with, she did change enough that I really like her now.

Since she is at the Glass Castle for the tournament, she is always guarded. As are the other champions. Mostly she is followed around by Captain Westfall, who is fairly cold toward her. There are a couple of love interests at the castle (both who are swoon worthy in their own ways! And no a love triangle is not set up! At least it didn't end with a feeling of one!) and a couple of friends to be made. There is something scary going on as well. Something killing in the castle, but only the champions. There are a ladies who'd like nothing better than to dispatch of Celaena, not that they know who she is. So Celaena has a lot of people to watch out for. As well as visits from ghostly figures.

As I said before though, Sarah J. Maas is a great story teller. I've already added any and all of her upcoming books to my TBR pile, how can I not after how thoroughly enjoyed Throne of Glass. She just has a way with words that made me unable to put this down. It's most likely going to be one of my top reads of the year. I definitely recommend it. Especially if you enjoy fantasy! It really is as good as everyone says! Just read the novellas first!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Owl Post (39)

Owl Post is a weekly feature at Owl Read It where we let you know what new books we got in the past week as well as recap reviews posted during the week. It is inspired by The Story Siren's In My Mailbox Theme.

Jenn's Haul:
I had a good week for books this week! I got a surprise package in the mail and I was approved on NetGalley for a book that I've really been looking forward to!! 

*Thank you Thomas Allen and Son Canada!!*
*Thank you so much HarlequinTeen and NetGalley!!*

Meghan's Haul:
This week has also been a really great week for books for me :D I got a little spoiled hehe. My husband knows how to make a lady swoon.
I didn't buy the swag of course hehe but I got two signed bookmarks for Megan Miranda's new book Hysteria. Which is also currently being shipped to me :). So after it arrives and I read & review I will have a giveaway for the second signed bookmark! Stay tuned :)
Yes I already own this, and yes I've already read it. But I really want the new Penguin Drop Caps collection, the first letter here was a V-day gift :).


Kristal's Haul:
Nothing for me this week guys, since I worked a long stretch.  :(

Reviews from this week:

What new reads did you get this week?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

The Chemical Garden #1

Author: Lauren DeStefano

Publication Date: March 22, 2011

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Genre: Dystopian



By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children. When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape--before her time runs out? 

Together with one of Linden's servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?

My Thoughts: This is one of those books that I wasn't sure about until I picked it up and opened up to the first page.  After that, I was hooked.  This is one I did not put down and stayed up into the wee hours of the morning reading and thinking: "Just one more chapter!".

The summary above does very well in summarizing, basically, the whole book.  Rhine is kidnapped off of the streets on her way home from work, shoved into the back of a dark van and driven across the country to be sold as one of three brides for Linden.  Despite Linden being horribly naive and not as bad as she would have thought, Rhine's sole thought is of escape and living the last four years of life she has left her own way.

It was weird to imagine a world full of only young people.  There are the much older first generation people who age normally, but other than that every man was under twenty-five and ever woman under twenty.  There are orphans running rampant around and most people who are working are really young.  There were so many things that I found abhorrent in this novel and gave me such a shock (for instance, a thirteen year old girl being married off and getting pregnant and not many thought twice about it).  When I sat down and absorbed the world it made sense that things like that would be routine in a world where the young died young.  It really made the world seem real and painted a picture of what it had become.  But it was nevertheless disturbing.

Rhine Ellery was sold into a polygamous marriage after being kidnapped.  It was one of the many things that could happen in the world she lives in but never one she considered.  So, at the ripe age of sixteen she was married with two sister wives - one older and one younger.  Not to mention the existing first wife, Rose, who at the age of twenty was succumbing to the disease they would all eventually fall prey to.  Rhine's other sister wives all seem to accept their fate one way or another. Rhine, on the other hand, does everything within her power to make sure that she escapes - even if that means pretending to be in love with her husband and calling him "sweetheart".

Gabriel is the man who serves the sister wives their food and tends to their needs.  He is the only servant other than the wives' own personal servant permitted on their floor (which has no stairs and an elevator that can only be accessed with a key card).  He and Rhine form a companionship that could certainly turn into something else - if they weren't constantly worried about someone walking in on them or finding them out.  Gabriel is a sweet guy who barely remembers life outside of the confines of the mansion in which he serves.

Linden, the husband of Rhine and her sister wives, is so sweet and naive.  He and Rhine do get along and under any other circumstances they could have been at least sincere friends, I believe.  Linden is horribly in the dark about how his new wives have been brought to him and even what happens in his own home.  Everything in Linden's home is overseen and ruled by his cold, calculating and uncaring father - Vaughn.  Vaughn is a scientist who is laboring for a cure to the disease that is killing off humanity by any means possible.

Overall, I really, really liked this book.  Some of the things that happened or were mentioned through me off guard and left me reeling and unbelieving but the fact that I had a reaction so intense really speaks for the writing and the author of this series.  I honestly can't wait to start the next one.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Review: Life of Pi

Life of Pi

Author: Yann Martel

Publication Date: August 29th, 2006

Publisher: Seal Books

Genre: YA/Contemporary/Adventure



Growing up in Pondicherry, India, Piscine Molitor Patel - known as Pi - has a rich life. Bookish by nature, young Pi acquires a broad knowledge of not only the great religious texts but of all literature, and has a great curiosity about how the world works. His family runs the local zoo, and he spends many of his days among goats, hippos, swans, and bears, developing his own theories about the nature of animals and how human nature conforms to it. Pi’s family life is quite happy, even though his brother picks on him and his parents aren’t quite sure how to accept his decision to simultaneously embrace and practise three religions - Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam. But despite the lush and nurturing variety of Pi’s world, there are broad political changes afoot in India, and when Pi is sixteen, his parents decide that the family needs to escape to a better life. Choosing to move to Canada, they close the zoo, pack their belongings, and board a Japanese cargo ship called the Tsimtsum. Travelling with them are many of their animals, bound for zoos in North America. However, they have only just begun their journey when the ship sinks, taking the dreams of the Patel family down with it. Only Pi survives, cast adrift in a lifeboat with the unlikeliest oftravelling companions: a zebra, an orang-utan, a hyena, and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

My Thoughts: I wanted to read this book for a long time! But like most books I have on my massive TBR list, it waited and waited while I read tons of other great books as fast as I could. Then came the movie, so I had no more excuses. I had to read it so that I could watch the movie because that's a golden rule of mine. Books before movies - always.

It makes sense to me that opinions on this book would be all over the map. There is quite a large dose of religion all throughout the book and obviously that is not for everyone. But speaking as someone who isn't even remotely religious, I loved it. There is no harm in taking in other peoples beliefs, attempting to understand them and watching the world from a completely different point of view every now and then. In fact, I think it's pretty good for you. And that's exactly what this book did. It gave us such a unique, one in million view into life and all things within. I encourage that you go into this book with an open mind otherwise you may find it not to your liking or hard to envision the ideas behind the story.

And when I say unique views and opinions I really mean it because Pi happens to partake in three completely different religions. He is a Christian, as well Hindu and Islam. You may say that it isn't even possible to follow all three and even many people in the book said as much to him. But Pi does not feel the need to accept any one else's virtues. He creates his own and follows them boldly without influence from anyone else. So while I said this book is seriously enjoyable for even the non-religious of us, if you do happen to follow just about any religion I think you are going to love this book. As long as like I said before, you keep an open mind. Pi shows us the real meaning behind faith, and love and trust in a divine power. You may think your faith has been tested, but wait until you read the story Pi has to tell and how he perseveres and steadily believes in the higher power.

While it does revolve a lot around religion, it also a  story about survival, determination, the will to live and most of all courage. Pi spends 227 days lost at sea. I can't even begin to imagine such a feat. But I suppose that is what this book does for us. Follow his bravery, his strength and strong independence. Not only did he manage to keep himself alive, but a Bengal Tiger as well, imagine that! Or, just go read this book because Yann Martel has already done it for you. And he has done an incredible job.

This story is beautiful, mesmerizing, heart-felt, and emotional. I really don't think you will find another book like this one. I am so glad that I have finally read it. I fell so deeply in love with Pi and his story, which is ours to believe or not. You will see what I mean when you read the book for yourself. But let me just say that I believe, 100% I believe :).

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (57)

Waiting on Wednesday is an event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly awaiting.


Author: Stephen King

Expected Publication Date: June 4th 2013



Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, Joyland tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever.

My Thoughts: I'm a MASSIVE  Stephen King fan, so it goes without saying that I am always seriously anticipating anything that he is releasing :D CAN'T WAIT!!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (51)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by  MizB at Should Be Reading

To Participate you:
-Grab your current read
-Open to a random page
-Share two 'teaser' sentences from somewhere on that page

This week's teaser comes from:

The Casual Vacancy

Author: J.K Rowling



Things denied, things untold, things hidden and disguised. The muddy River Orr gushed over the wreckage of the stolen computer, thrown from the old stone bridge at midnight.

My Thoughts: This book is taking me longer to read than usual. It's kind of slow paced and not overly great at holding my interest. That being said, it's not a bad book, it is good. It's just a different pace and style than I typically read. It reads kind of like an English TV drama of sorts.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Review: The Office of Mercy: A Novel by Ariel Djanikian

The Office of Mercy: A Novel

Author: Ariel Djanikian

Publication Date: February 21st 2013

Publisher: Viking Adult

Genre: Dystopia / Science Fiction



Twenty-four-year-old Natasha Wiley lives in America-Five—a high-tech, underground, utopian settlement where hunger and money do not exist, everyone has a job, and all basic needs are met. But when her mentor and colleague, Jeffrey, selects her to join a special team to venture Outside for the first time, Natasha’s allegiances to home, society, and above all to Jeffrey are tested. She is forced to make a choice that may put the people she loves most in grave danger and change the world as she knows it.

My Thoughts: Sometimes when I read a book I'm left wondering the whole time, who can the MC trust? Especially in dystopians, although normally it's made fairy obvious eventually. I'm still not sure in this case though. Office of Mercy leaves you guessing and trying to figure out who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. Is it the citizens? Who keep sweeping the tribes, or is it the tribes who are slowly dwindling. Ariel Djanikian does a fairly good job at keeping you guessing. She's also done a great job at the world building, an essential in a dystopia, and I found it very easy to see how the characters lived and what the world had become.

When the book starts out I was confused, since it starts with a tribe that has been swept, but once I figured out what sweeping was, not only was I horrified, but I was angry at the people who did it. In case you're wondering, a sweep is when the citizens end the pain and suffering of a tribe by thoroughly eradicating them. They try to do it in the most humane way possible, and for the most part, the tribes never see it coming and it's pretty instantaneous. There are some cases where this isn't true, but they do their best. I know what you're thinking, they are mass murdering innocent people? I know. I was shocked too at how they would do this. Apparently the citizens (mostly the Alphas/leaders) feel it's for the best though and nothing will change their minds.

Our protagonist in Office of Mercy is Natasha. She is an Epsilon, the youngest group of the citizens, who works in the Office of Mercy, which is the office that tracks and preforms the sweeps. She has only been working for a few years and has not preformed a sweep of her own yet. She feels bad for the tribes that they sweep, wondering if it's right to end their lives like that. She isn't supposed to feel this way, the tribes are wild and suffering, they need to be put out of their misery. But Natasha still has these thoughts.

I like Natasha as a character. She didn't always make the right choices and was easy to trust others, both things that she shouldn't have done, but it made her seem more real. She has flaws and isn't perfect, which makes it easier to relate and connect with her. She dreams of going to the Outside. America-Five is essentially (as I see it) a giant underground complex with a dome coming out of the ground in the center and some metal structure with a few rooms to the sides. Most of the complex is underground though.

Overall, it is quite a good read, a very interesting future to think about. It's a bit slow to start out, but picks up quickly. After Natasha gets her wish to go Outside, things pick up and it gets hard to put down. I'm not really sure if it's completely YA, I think it might be more moving toward NA as there is a mention of sex, but not really any descriptions. It's only mentioned the one time. The whole book I was trying to guess who the "bad people" were. I was really surprised with the ending as it didn't end at all like I thought it would. Reminds me of a few older dystopias that I've read. But that's a good thing, when an author can throw you off like that, sometimes it's nice to break away from the cookie cutters and make something new! I will definitely be recommending this one!

*A review copy was provided from the publisher*

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Owl Post (38)

Owl Post is a weekly feature at Owl Read It where we let you know what new books we got in the past week as well as recap reviews posted during the week. It is inspired by The Story Siren's In My Mailbox Theme.

Jenn's Haul:
I got to pick out a couple of books this week for Valentine's Day from my husband! Then I was in my local Zellers (which is closing to become Target soon) and their books were half off, so finally for The Immortal Rules. I don't even care that it's not going to match my other ones in that series when they come out.. I needed to have it!
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
Changeling by Philippa Gregory
S.E.C.R.E.T. by L. Marie Adeline

Meghan's Haul:
I also got a couple of books from my awesome husband for V-day :) <3

Kristal's Haul:
I got these books from the library this week:
Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #2)    A Breath of Eyre (Unbound, #1)

Reviews from this week:

What new reads did you get this week?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Owl Recommend (22)

Owl Recommend is a feature at Owl Read It where we try to help you find your next great read!!

I know what you're thinking, "But these aren't even the same genre!". No, they're not, but that doesn't mean that you won't like both of them. I did! Yes, one is a contemporary setting and the other is steampunk with paranormal aspects, but hey! Both are about schools that are training their all female attendees some very specific skills for some very sneaky roles. I think that they are very similar, even though they are very different. Both are excellent reads! So you should definitely give them some consideration!