Saturday, December 29, 2012

This Is How I Finish 2012!


You guys, I've read some pretty amazing books this year.
I've read books and I've re-read books and I've listened to books
and I've loved every second of it. 

My to-read list is miles long and I add to it pretty much daily. 
One book in particular has been on the list for ages. 
I've even owned it for a good, long while.

I'm not sure why I haven't read it yet.
(Shame. On. Me.)

It all ends now.


Y'all, I'm so excited! 

I'm totally moving this book over to the "read" pile. 
Yes I am!

I'm actually reading/re-reading several books right now.

(You can see a couple of them holding up my Kindle!)
But everything goes on hold for the ole' horsey book. 

I reeealllyyy want to know why everyone loves this book so much! 

YAY!!! 

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Have you read The Scorpio Races yet?

If you have, tell me your thoughts! 


Somebody be happy for me!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

My Thoughts On: Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum

Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum
Published by Harper Teen
Publish Date: January 8, 2013 
272 pages
Source:  ARC Tour

Twenty years ago, the robots designed to fight our wars abandoned the battlefields. Then they turned their weapons on us.

Only a few escaped the robot revolution of 2071. Kevin, Nick, and Cass are lucky —they live with their parents in a secret human community in the woods. Then their village is detected and wiped out. Hopeful that other survivors have been captured by bots, the teens risk everything to save the only people they have left in the world—by infiltrating a city controlled by their greatest enemies. -(summary excerpt from Goodreads)


Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum

My Thoughts:  After the humans created robots to help them fight the war, these robots became smart and turned on the humans. The bots killed many humans in the revolution. Some of the lucky humans escaped and tried their luck at living in small Freepost clusters out in the forest. 

Nick, Kevin, and Cass are siblings living with their parents and some others in a Freepost. They get along fine out in the woods. The bots find them suddenly, obliterating their Freepost site and killing most of their friends. The siblings make it out alive, but soon realize their parents aren't coming to their emergency rendezvous point. Nick, Kevin, and Cass determine that their parents must have been taken hostage by the bots and they decide they will travel to The City to get them. Revolution 19 is the story of their travels to The City and their experiences inside the bot city. 

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I love reading books with siblings with strong bonds, but Nick, Kevin, and Cass frustrated me a great deal. They didn't always think through their decisions. They didn't think through their decisions very often, in fact. For example, they had no reason to believe their parents were alive and being held in The City except that they refused to believe that they were dead - so they decided to risk their own lives, everything, and travel for days to a place they've only heard of and feared their entire lives - on utter denial. Their journey was fun to read and it was fun when they arrived at The City and found it not at all what they expected.

The bots are interesting. There are different types of robots - different shapes, different sizes. They aren't exactly what Nick, Kevin, Cass had been taught to fear their entire lives, which is what their parents remember from the fighting when they escaped the cities years before. Things have changed since then and the siblings are very surprised. They find that people aren't necessarily living in poor conditions. They aren't hungry and living in dirty, filthy rags. They don't live in cages and work as slaves. They seem to be living luxuriously compared to life at the Freepost. The city dwellers appear to be happy as they walk or bike down the street. The siblings are confused initially, but a city-dweller, Lexi, recognizes that they stand out and decides to help them out. Lexi risks everything - her safety, the safety of her parents, all of their lives - to help these three. With her help, the siblings find out that their parents may actually be in the city after all and they make a plan for exactly what to do to find out. And then the plan goes wrong and craziness happens.
 
The secondary characters introduced inside the city are colorful and interesting, perhaps even more so than the main characters. None of the characters are very fully developed; I never felt like I had a sense of knowing any of them fully. This world is interesting, but again I don't really have a complete sense of the new government under the robots and how everything functions. I feel like there is more to the story, and I'm sure I'll find it out in the next book, but I feel like I'm waiting, waiting, waiting until something big and sinister is revealed. (Hello, creepy epilogue!Revolution 19 is very short and the epilogue gives a preview of what is to come with the next book, so I can only imagine and hope that the world-building will be a little more in-depth in the next installment.

I enjoyed my time with Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum. It was a short, fast book and I love reading those. It wasn't deeply engaging or thought-provoking, but it was a fun start to this series. I have high hopes for the next book because of the direction the story was headed at the end, and because of the creepy epilogue. I'll definitely read the next book when it comes out to see where everything is going.

I would recommend this book to younger-YA readers, readers looking for quick/easy reads, readers that enjoy robot/sci-fi stories, or readers that enjoy male leading characters. I particularly think younger male readers would enjoy this one.

*I love this cover. However, I feel like that should be a boy. If I told you why, my explanation would be a spoiler and I just hate spoilers.

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Revolution 19 will appeal to fans of:

YA Science-Fiction with Robots
Romance: There is a hint at romance to come. No triangle.

Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum
will be available for purchase on January 8, 2013.

*I borrowed this book as part of Around The World Book Tours in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions. I received no compensation for my review. 

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Is REVOLUTION 19 on your to-read list? 
 



My Thoughts On: Pivot Point by Kasie West

Pivot Point by Kasie West
Series: Pivot Point #1
Published by Harper Teen
Publish Date: February 12, 2013 
320 pages
Source:  ARC Tour & Edelweiss

Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without. -(summary from Goodreads)

Pivot Point by Kasie West 

My Thoughts:  Addie has a pretty neat ability: she is a Searcher. When faced with choices, she can look into her own future and pick the best outcome. When her parents tell her they are divorcing, she is stunned. They completely throw her for a loop when they tell her that her father is moving from their home on the paranormal compound to live among the Normals - those without abilities - and that she can choose whether or not she stays on the compound with her mother or move to live with her father among the Normals. She doesn't want to leave the life she knows, life with her friends and the ease of using their abilities. But she can't stand the thought of not living with her father, even if it means adapting to a new way of life, a life without her paranormal abilities, a life off of the compound. In order to make her decision, Addie does a search: she looks six weeks into the future. She figures if she looks that far, she'll be able to see in which life she is happiest and know which decision to make. Addie had no idea exactly what the future held for the people she loved when she decided to look into it.

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In one possible future, Addie stays on the compound with her mother. Life does not change much at home except that her father is not there, which is sad. Addie blames her mother for the divorce so their relationship is a little strained, but her best friend Leila remains by her side. They have tons of fun, as always. And there's Duke. Dreamy, handsome Duke. Duke is the quarterback of the football team and the boy of every girl's dreams. He seems to have a crush on Addie, but he isn't her type at all. Duke likes to be the center of attention. He's loud. He's the so-called king of school. Addie doesn't care for his loud reputation...but she soon finds herself attracted to him and then falling for him. Interestingly, when she's around him, there is no place she'd rather be. When she's not around him, she can't figure out what it is about him that she really likes. Addie is so confused.

The other possible future has Addie moving off of the compound to a town a few hours away, in or near Dallas, Texas. She begins to attend a public high school and tries to acclimate to the Norm world, which is sort of amusing. Everything in the Norm world is slightly behind the technologically-advanced world on the compound, so Addie has to figure out simple things like door locks and car radios. Addie blames her mother for the divorce so she doesn't call her or want to talk to her yet. Leila is not there, so she is without a best friend for a short while...until she attends a high school football game with her father and meets Trevor. Trevor is a guy in the stadium, watching the game. Addie sits by him and feels comfortable immediately. He is on the quieter side and not boisterous at all, like his friends appear to be. Addie likes this and soon she and Trevor are friends. Over the next few weeks, Addie and Trevor become closer until their friendship is a romance. When Leila comes to visit, she remarks to Addie that it seems like she has lots of friends and Addie realizes that even though it was hard, she has carved out a place there in the Normal world.

*There are several characters that cross-over into both futures - characters that I didn't realize would do so. Also, and more importantly, there are events that cross-over: there are unusual things happening in the Norm world and the Norms can't figure out what is going on, but they are suspicious of the students from Lincoln High (the school on the paranormal compound, which happens to come off of the compound to play other schools in sports). The two worlds do collide or cross-over, but the compound does everything it can to ensure that their paranormal existence remains absolutely a secret. Addie is in an interesting position, being a person that previously went to Lincoln High and now living in the Norm world. She knows that she has to keep her abilities and the compound a secret, but since living off of the compound, she is becoming suspicious too. Hmm.

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I had seen some really excellent comments and reviews about Pivot Point by Kasie West before I began reading it and I have to admit that I was super curious. I do love a good science-fiction book and this one sounded interesting. When I started reading, right away I loved that it blended science-fiction with paranormal and threw in a dash of time travel to the future. And oddly enough, it felt like it had a little dash of contemporary to it as well, even though it clearly is not a contemporary book. I was completely sucked into this story and I loved it.

See, it isn't just that Addie has to make a choice on where to go live. It isn't that she travels to two different futures for herself. These two futures are smartly written because 1) they are alternating points-of-view between the choice of living with her mother on the compound and living with her father off of the compound and 2) the author manages to connect them. I was reading along, totally interested in the story already and then BAM! things GOT REAL. Addie realized that in these two futures, the right decision wasn't only what was more fun for her - making the right decision had real-life, big, huge consequences for some of the people she loved most. Addie had to figure out which one of the people that showed up in both futures was a bad guy, a really bad guy, and make her decision based on eliminating that bad guy from the future of the people she loved. Of course, the choice could not be easy. Of course, Addie had to agonize over her decision for a little bit. And of course, I had to agonize right along with her. But then I kept reading and YAY for the ending. And THEN I found out there will be a book two. YAY for a book two because I was completely invested in the romance these characters.

I want to mention the romance aspect of the book: Since there are two possible futures, there are two possible romance interests. This makes it look like a love triangle exists, but you have to remember that the two futures are not occurring at the same time, so there is no love triangle. Addie is searching each future separately, so she is getting to know each guy, Duke and Trevor, separately. Also, Addie's heart is at war with her mind for a good chunk of the book as she tries to determine which future to choose and which decision to make. As a reader, I want her to choose based on her heart because I love the romance aspect, but I also know that the bad guys are so bad and they must be stopped.

Pivot Point was incredible. Just awesome and fun to read. It was a great story that was made better by its structure, which was alternating POV's that had a linear feel, but really were not. I had to remember that Addie was only searching one future at a time and not leaping back and forth. It was a great way to tell the story and give the reader information about each possible future while forcing us to remember both possibilities and remain invested in both. Bravo, author, for this structure. The book begins at a comfortable pace and is enjoyable, and then after a point, when things start happening and I started questioning several people, I started gulping down the book. Not kidding.

I recommend Pivot Point to everyone, really. It's a great debut, it's an awesome story, and it was shockingly good because I didn't realize that it had so much packed into it. I've seen some mixed reviews out there, but I have to wonder how that happened. I was interested from the beginning, and from about the middle to the end, I was all-in, fully invested, complete with the pounding heart. I wish I had the second book in my hands right now. I can't wait to see where the story goes from here.

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Pivot Point will appeal to fans of:

YA Science-Fiction/Paranormal
Romance: No triangle, Slowly-developing relationships
Alternating POV's


Pivot Point by Kasie West
will be available for purchase on February 12, 2013.

*I borrowed this book as part of Around The World Book Tours in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions. i also received a copy from the publisher via Edelweiss. Thank you Harper Teen and Edelweiss!  I received no compensation for my review. 

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Is PIVOT POINT on your wish-list?

I am SO GLAD there is another book coming out.
I want more of this story.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Thoughts On: Elemental by Antony John

Elemental by Antony John
Series: Elemental #1
Published by Dial Books/Penguin
Publish Date: November 21, 2012 
320 pages
Source:  ARC from Author - Thank you!

A lost colony is reborn in this heart-pounding fantasy adventure set in the near future . . .

Sixteen-year-old Thomas has always been an outsider. The first child born without the power of an Element—earth, water, wind or fire—he has little to offer his tiny, remote Outer Banks colony. Or so the Guardians would have him believe.

In the wake of an unforeseen storm, desperate pirates kidnap the Guardians, intent on claiming the island as their own. Caught between the plague-ridden mainland and the advancing pirates, Thomas and his friends fight for survival in the battered remains of a mysterious abandoned settlement. But the secrets they unearth will turn Thomas’ world upside-down, and bring to light not only a treacherous past but also a future more dangerous than he can possibly imagine. -(summary from Goodreads)



Elemental by Antony John

My Thoughts: I've been sitting on this one forever. I mean, I literally followed this book from the moment I first heard it would be set on the North Carolina Outer Banks until I had a copy to read in my hands. So, so excited I was! When I started reading it, I made myself read it slowly so I could absorb every detail. Since I've finished it, I've re-lived the story several times. Now I have to figure out how to tell you all how I feel about it. Such a tricky thing to do.

The first thing you need to know is this:
I love pretty much everything that makes up this story. 
I love stories about elementals. I love stories about pirates. I love stories about plagues and survival and storms and the ocean. I love dystopians and fantasies. I love when a setting comes to life. I love strong female characters and great male leading characters. I love a mean villain and I love a great twist or two. Antony John took all of these things, threw them together, and out came Elemental. It sounds like a lot of stuff, but it completely works. 

Thomas lives with the rest of his colony on a small Outer Banks island, isolated from the rest of the world - especially the plague-wasted mainland. He is the only one without the power of an element and is therefore treated like an outsider. Thomas spends most of his time with his brother Griffin, also an outcast because of an unusual ability and an underdeveloped elemental power. Thomas desperately wishes for more friendship, more companionship. Mostly, he would give anything for an elemental power of his own so he can finally belong.

As a hurricane quickly approaches, the Guardians (the colony elders) insist on evacuating Thomas and the other colonists to the hurricane shelter on a nearby island. Almost as soon as the evacuation occurs, things start happening. THINGS. Exciting things, like the kidnapping of the Guardians, for starters. The excitement never lets up as Thomas and the rest of the gang realize that pirates are responsible for taking the Guardians and they are the only ones that can rescue them.

The second thing you need to know is this:
It took EVERYTHING IN ME to read this story slowly. 

When I said that things started happening, what I really meant is this: things happened and they didn't stop. Once Antony John set his foundation - once he gave us the information we needed to start the story - it really took off. There were fires and kidnappings and people got hurt. People used the power of their elements and it was awesome. There were secrets held and secrets revealed. There were hunts and chases and escapes. Hurricanes and winds and the mighty ocean! The pirates acted like pirates: mean, nasty, and mean. And there were plot twists, which I loved.  

I am a fast reader. I can tear through a book that I am enjoying. Because of the setting of this book and the fact that it is a fantasy story with pirates and hurricanes and things that I love, I wanted to take my time with it. I allowed myself to read a few pages at the time and then made myself put the book down. When I do that, I can remember story details so much better, and usually for much longer. Reading a story over a longer period of time can be torturous for me, but in the end it is perfect and awesome because it is like eating dessert slowly and savoring every delicious bite.

The third thing you need to know is this:
I was initially interested in the story because of the SETTING.
But ELEMENTAL stands on its own and is all-around great.

Like I mentioned, I was interested in this story initially because of the setting. I live close to the Outer Banks and not many people write books set in North Carolina, particularly Eastern North Carolina, so I was very interested in seeing what this fantasy story would be like. I read the story and easily pictured the places in my head - the bridges, the islands, the actual waterways. Antony John was absolutely correct when he said HERE that "the area is perfect for a fantasy novel." 

LOOK! A map! In the final copy of Elemental! 

I could go on and on about my love for this setting, but I won't do that to you guys. Some of you already know how much I love a setting in a story. The setting factor is huge here, almost like a character. The ocean is churning and raging because of the hurricane. Additionally, the water is one of the elements that can be controlled. The islands are described perfectly with their sand and wind in some parts, and their towns in others (in this case, the towns are abandoned). There are bridges and marsh-like areas. There is a lighthouse that is described perfectly, inside and out. I just loved it, and not because it is practically my backyard. I felt like I got to know the area as something viable and three-dimensional and almost tangible, and that is so cool. I love it when a book gives me a setting like that.

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Antony John's Elemental was so much fun for me to read. I'm eagerly awaiting the release of the next book, which is kinda/sorta brutal since Elemental was just released a few weeks ago. I find myself holding my breath when I anticipate something for such a long time, waiting to see how things will turn out - I am so happy that I was not disappointed at all with this book. In fact, I was thrilled.

These characters are great. Thomas is a male leading character with a bit of a problem - the absence of his elemental power - and in the beginning of the book, it sort of has him feeling down in the dumps. As the story progresses, we see Thomas as a character that is courageous and brave, even when he feels like he isn't, and he begins to have some faith in himself. What is this? Some character development? YES, and I love it. His friends Alice and Rose are very interesting to me - they're quite the opposite of one another and but both very likable. Alice is has an underdeveloped element (fire), so she can understand a little bit of Thomas' feelings of being an outsider. She takes it upon herself, though, to be extremely fiercely independent - almost to the point of intimidating those around her. Alice is tough and a hard worker, and wants to be seen as such. Rose, on the other hand, is very protective and delicate and quite lovely. She has the power to manipulate water (and it is so cool what she can do with it). Where Alice seems rough around the edges, Rose seems very gentle and soft and kind with her speech. I am eager to see where the next part of the story takes these two gals and their relationship with Thomas, and I have to wonder if a romance/triangle will develop. (These three would make a perfect triangle if one is in the works.)

Then there is Griffin, Thomas' brother. LOVE this character. Griffin has an element (earth), which is underdeveloped. He also can foresee death, and this makes people want to stay away from him. Because of his outsider status, he and Thomas have become very close as brothers and friends. The two are an awesome team as they work together to rescue the Guardians and figure out all of the secrets and clues that keep popping up in the story. As information is revealed about the island's history, the lost colonies, the powers of the elements, etc., Griffin becomes more and more awesome (and so does Thomas). I can't wait to see what he will bring to the rest of the series. He appeared to be a 'weak' character in the beginning of Elemental in terms of strength, but I think there are some great things in store for Griffin based on his progression throughout this story.

I have mentioned the setting several times. It's amazing. I'm not sure that it is necessarily world-building by definition, but it is definitely an incredible fantasy setting that is based on and inspired by a real place. The imagery is vivid and it is easy to see this story play itself out as a movie inside of your head as you read, which is so desirable for us as readers. In terms of pacing, once the story and characters are laid out, the story picks up and is primarily action-driven, never stopping until the end. I was forcing myself to stop reading at intervals so I could make the story last longer. And I loved the ending: Antony John left us in a great place to begin the next part of this series. If I'm guessing correctly, the next book will take off running and have an exciting story. I really want to know, I truly want to know, the next part of the story. Alas, I'll have to wait!

You guys, I struggle with how to tell people when I find a story that I love so much. Adventure stories take up such a big place in my heart, and Elemental is such an adventure. Pirates and kidnappings and lost colonies! Survival in the harshest of nature. Secrets and lies and betrayal. People finding out things that completely change the course of their lives. I know specific people that would love this book. I want to hear this book in audio format. I want schools, especially in this region, to have this book in their classrooms and libraries. I want the next book in this series now. I want to read it again.

This book was so worth the wait to me. I loved it so much. I still love it so much. Next time I read it, I will love it again. I recommend Elemental to fans of adventure stories and pirates, fans of fantasy and dystopians, people who love books with elemental powers in them, and people who love books with male leading characters.

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Elemental will appeal to fans of:

YA Fantasy/Adventure/Dystopian
FANTASTIC Setting
Pirates, Argh!
Great Characterization with Development

Survival: Hurricanes
Action-Driven Plot, Great Pacing

Elemental by Antony John
is currently available for purchase.

*I received this book from the author. This in no way affected my thoughts on the story. 

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Is ELEMENTAL on your to-read list?

Can we take a second to appreciate that awesome COVER? 
Check out a fantastic blog post HERE
on Capillya's blog that cover girl.

Friends, I love this book.
Can't wait for the next one. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

My Thoughts On: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Published by St. Martin's Press
Publish Date: March 5, 2013 
320 pages
Source:  ARC Tour

"Bono met his wife in high school," Park says.
"So did Jerry Lee Lewis," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be," she says, "we’re sixteen."
"What about Romeo and Juliet?"
"Shallow, confused, then dead."
''I love you," Park says.
"Wherefore art thou," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be."

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under. -(summary from Goodreads) 



Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

My Thoughts:  I loved this brilliant, brilliant book.

The first thing you need to know is this:
Eleanor & Park is the story of first love. 
Eleanor and Park are two completely different people that come to know one another in a completely normal-yet-slightly-uncomfortable way: Park begrudgingly shares his seat on the school bus with her. Eleanor is the new kid - there are no words to express how oddly she dresses and her hair is wild, curly, flaming red. She totally stands out and is a target for bullies from her first step into her new life at her new school. Park is intrigued with Eleanor right away, but not enough to strike up conversation. In fact, it is days before they even speak to each other. Theirs is a relationship that begins with a comfortable shared silence. First there are glances over shared comic books, Park making sure to only turn the page after Eleanor is finished reading too. Then the accidental brush of hands becomes not-so-accidental anymore, and the contact lingers for seconds longer than necessary. The words slowly come and before long, Eleanor and Park treasure their time on the bus because it is filled with inside jokes, conversation about comic book heroes, and discussion about music. 

It takes a small, simple gesture of kindness by Park to light the fire that starts the crush that turns into love. One kind gesture turns into another, and then another, until Park becomes the kind of guy that looks forward to doing nice things for Eleanor. It is such a sweet and innocent time in their lives. So wonderful to read. 

The second thing you need to know is this:
Eleanor is not like Park. 
Eleanor & Park is a story of first love, but there is another story inside those pages and it is the story of Eleanor's home life. Eleanor comes from a horrific, tragic, appalling situation. When we meet her, she has just returned to the care of her mother and stepfather after living in foster care for a long time. She has been reunited with her three or four younger siblings in a run-down home where they lack much of what most of us consider basic necessities. Eleanor does not have a toothbrush. The one bathroom in the house, located off of the kitchen/living area, does not have a door - so Eleanor has to bathe and use the restroom exposed to everyone, including her stepfather (who is an absolute creep). Eleanor's clothes are all given to her and do not fit - many are men's clothes that she tries to arrange so that no one can tell they are torn, missing buttons, or held together with safety pins. Eleanor tries to appear like she doesn't care what anyone thinks but every time she is bullied at school or mistreated at home, it tears her up inside. 

Eleanor wants to hide this part of herself and her life from Park. And she wants to hide Park from the ugliness of her life. She wants Park to remain beautiful, untouched by the ugliness of her situation, so that when her mind thinks of him, it is perfect and lovely and wonderful. She wants Park to be a safe place for her mind to wander. 

Of course, the part of her life where Park resides will eventually collide with her real life. The two cannot exist independently of one another. Can this first love, this love so innocent and true - can it survive something so heavy and difficult as Eleanor's life? 

The third thing you need to know is this:
This book is PERFECT. 
I don't know how she did it, but Rainbow Rowell was able to take the simpleness, the innocence, the butterflies-in-your-stomach feelings of falling in love for the first time and put it in words on paper - it came across as a feeling that I could feel while I was reading. I could feel the butterflies just as Eleanor and Park felt them. I was nervous every time Park would see Eleanor walk onto the bus because I knew, like he knew, she would be sitting right beside of him for a few minutes until they reached school. I felt those excited nerves when I would read Eleanor's thoughts as Park's hand would brush hers and linger there, and I felt her excited and nervous happiness, like she was floating, when they held hands for the first time. I loved the faith that Park had in his relationship with Eleanor, like nothing could touch it, like nothing could blemish it, even Eleanor's dark past, her dark life, her worst fears. Park thought Eleanor walked on water and Eleanor just couldn't believe that Park even wanted to be close to her. Oh, those feelings, you guys. So sweet. 

There were issues in this book, of course, dealing predominantly with Eleanor. Rowell throws hard stuff in there and Eleanor dealt with it, and Park dealt with it, and they dealt with these things together. I could not always see what was coming ahead and was caught off-guard a few times, and at times I was pretty broken. I got pretty teary-eyed - it was just the mixture of the beauty of the romance and the reality of Eleanor's situation. BUT...in the end, I loved the book. If this wasn't a traveling arc tour book, I'd have read it all over again. 

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Eleanor & Park leaves with me several feelings. I feel honored to have read such a beautiful story, one that is so full of life, full of the reality of life, and also full of hope. I feel happy to have experienced the butterflies and nerves of falling in love for the first time again. I feel thrilled, beyond thrilled, at reading a book in which the author references the late 1980's so often and does it so well. I feel hopeful that people will read this book and feel all of the ways that I feel, even if my words fail to adequately express exactly my feelings and the love I have for this book. My words fall short.

I feel thrilled that Park is such an excellently written male character in YA. I want to pat Rainbow Rowell on the back for making him half-Korean and making him cool. I want to high-five Rainbow Rowell for making Park's parents a married couple that is still together and still in love - they are a great example for Park and his brother, they show affection, they are just great parents, and Park realizes and appreciates this. This is written into the story, you guys! This deserves a YA-book-party because it just doesn't happen enough in the YA market. Well done, author. Well done. 

I feel happy that Eleanor is bold. It doesn't always seem like she is a bold character, but she is. She seems whiny at times, but please trust me when I say that living in difficult conditions like these makes you feel whiny every now and then. Eleanor takes what she has and makes the best of it - Park sees her as a person that doesn't care what other people think of her. He thinks she is comfortable with who she is. In reality, Eleanor sees herself as stuck in her own life and doesn't really know what she can do about it except live it the best way she can. When situations get tough, however, Eleanor is strong and sometimes has to make tough decisions. I respect her so much for that. 

This book simultaneously hugs my heart and tears it up. It makes me feel like dancing and it makes me cry. This is what first love is like. This is what life is sometimes like. Eleanor & Park is so, so great - so wonderful. I want to push it into the hands of everybody that reads. I want everyone to read it and appreciate all of the words on all of the pages because they are all magnificent and add up to one heck of a story, one that I had the honor of reading, one that I want to read again, one that I don't want to forget. 

I recommend Eleanor & Park to fans of YA contemporary romance, YA contemporary with issues, male leading characters, and books with pop culture references. It is absolutely fantastic in every way. 

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Eleanor & Park will appeal to fans of:

YA Contemporary
Romance: No triangle, Slowly developing relationship,
First love
Fantastic Characterization with Diversity!

Alternating POV's
Issues: Bullying, Socioeconomic status, etc.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
will be available for purchase on March 5, 2013.

*I borrowed this book as part of Around The World Book Tours in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions. I received no compensation for my review. 

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Is ELEANOR & PARK on your wish-list?

It needs to be. Really. It's that great.

Monday, December 10, 2012

...on Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi {Audiobook}


Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Published by HarperCollins
Publish Date: January 3, 2012
374 Pages
Source: Audio - Library, Book - ARC/Galley

Since she'd been on the outside, she'd survived an Aether storm, she'd had a knife held to her throat, and she'd seen men murdered. This was worse.

Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland - known as The Death Shop - are slim. If the cannibals don't get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She's been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He's wild - a savage - and her only hope of staying alive.
A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile - everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria's help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky. -(summary from Goodreads)

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

My Thoughts:  I spent last week re-reading Veronica Rossi's Under the Never Sky in anticipation for the release of the second book in the series, Through the Ever Night. I chose to re-read this book both in print and in audio and good golly, this was a delicious decision. 

The first thing you need to know is this:
I absolutely loved this WORLD the first time I read it.  
When I read Under the Never Sky a year ago, I remember being a little bit confused in the first few chapters of the story. Veronica Rossi takes the first few chapters to set up her world - she begins by explaining what is happening at exactly that moment in Reverie, which is Aria's home. I think I was confused because I didn't really have a concept of the world before I threw myself into the action that was beginning right away, in Chapter One. After a few chapters, however, I began to get my bearings and I could picture Reverie as Aria described it. The world began to take shape and it began making sense to me. 

OH, BUT THEN. Then I began to read about Perry's world - the place Aria calls The Death Shop, the world where the Aether is visible - and WOW. Just, WOW. Talk about world-building! Where I liked reading about Aria's world, I loved reading about Perry's world. Perry's world is more like our own "real world" - except it isn't because it is sort of supernatural, sort of sci-fi, sort of paranormal. It's sort of something spectacular. 

The second thing you need to know is this:
I loved these CHARACTERS the first time I read this book.
I'm crazy about these characters now.
 

Y'all. Honestly. If you've read Under the Never Sky, then you know about these characters and you probably love them too. YOU KNOW YOU DO. But if you haven't and you love characterization, you should really consider adding this one to your to-read list.

I love a wonderful, developed, colorful cast and Under the Never Sky has exactly that. There are three characters that stand out to me as favorites: main characters Aria and Perry, of course, and Roar. Aria and Perry both have great character development throughout the book because they have preconceived ideas about each other based on where they come from and what they've always been taught by their elders. Spending time together challenges these ideas. After some times of tension, their walls eventually fall and their relationship begins to slowly change - this is when and how they experience growth as individuals and friends. 

Roar is one of those characters that could potentially be seen as an important secondary character, but he's also enough of a favorite of mine that I toss him up in with Aria and Perry. He's fun. He is pivotal to the shift in plot. Roar is easy to form a connection with because he has a story. Oh, Roar's story! Roar and Perry have a connection, a certain something-in-common, and it runs deep. 

All of the characters - the good ones and the bad ones - are great. There is action in the book, certainly. But this book is character-driven for sure, which is totally fine by me.

For those of you that have read the book, I loved the boy Cinder the first time, but this time I wanted to leap into the story and just hug him (and also high-five him). What a great, great character. 


The third thing you need to know is this:
The ending is STILL PERFECT. 
There is no cliffhanger here, guys. The edges are nice and well-rounded and well-resolved and comfortable. It's a good place to be until the next part of the story comes out. WHAT?!

I know. Hard to believe, but non-cliffhanger endings can totally be done. They can! We have a beautiful one right here. 

Not only that, but this ending is JUST EXCELLENT. It's a really great ending. 

When I finished this re-read, I just stood there. Yes, stood, because by that point, I couldn't sit. (I'm weird.) I just needed to breathe and just take in the end of the story again, for the second time, and just love it for a minute. 

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Hooray for re-reads! Hooray for re-reads via audiobook and print
Hooray for re-reads right before the next book in the series is released!
In all senses of the word, this was a very successful re-read for Asheley.


After loving this book so much the first time, my love for it has only intensified the second time around and I'm only more anxious to read Through the Ever Night when it releases in January 2013. The perspective of the audiobook narrator enhanced my perception of the stellar world-building and characterization, and as always, I hung on nearly every word.

While I continued to love the characters and the world-building, I think I could appreciate the relationship between Aria and Perry on an even deeper level after hearing someone else read it to me. Perhaps the first time, I inhaled the book and may have missed teeny-tiny details? Or maybe hearing simple things like the tone and pitch of the reader as she read the inner thoughts and dialogue of Aria and Perry as they grew closer - I mean, just, WOW. It was like a lightbulb coming on for me. It wasn't only the relationship between these two main characters, either - I think I could appreciate the relationships between both Aria and Perry with all of the other characters: Roar, Marron, Cinder, Vale, Consul Hess, all of them. I wrote several statements beginning with "I had forgotten..." and "I didn't realize..." on my notes for this re-read.

That moment when a re-read causes you to see a book that you love on a different/deeper level? That's called a SCORE.

I was a little bit nervous about choosing to listen to the story via audiobook while reading along in print. I do this with almost all of my re-reads but I get very attached to my favorite audiobook narrators. Listening to new readers is like breaking in new denim blue jeans or a new pair of shoes - I fully expect it to take a little bit of getting used to. Particularly with books that have alternating points-of-view, the narration is absolutely KEY to making or breaking the story - and with female narrators, sometimes they do not always read male character very well. 

This was my first audiobook narrated by Bernadette Dunne Flagler, and my nervousness with her reading did not last very long. She had a lovely voice to read Aria's POV - one can imagine Aria to have a pretty, almost-but-not-quite singsong voice since she is a singer...or at least that is how I imagined her. With Perry - he is an Outsider, a Savage (according to Aria), so one can imagine him to have a manly, savage-sounding voice. This reader did a great job. She made Aria sound just as I imagined her, and she made Perry sound like I imagined he would as well. There were times that I specifically remember thinking that the reader made Aria and Perry sound pensive and in thought - and these coincided with times that these characters were indeed sharing their inner thoughts. After being a little worried about how Perry would sound in audio format, I have to admit that I'm impressed.

The audiobook format of Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi is published by Harper Audio and is 9 hours, 39 minutes, Unabridged. 

If you haven't read this book yet, I have to be bold and tell you that I really think you're missing out on something great. Under the Never Sky is one of the good ones, and I'm hearing really great things about Through the Ever Night. I cannot wait to get my hands on it. I would recommend this book for fans of science-fiction/dystopian stories with a touch of romance. 

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Under the Never Sky will appeal to fans of:

YA Sci-Fi/Dystopian
Fantastic Characterization

Excellent World-Building
Character-Driven Plot
Alternating POV's
Romance: The slow burn of slow burns. No triangle. 

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
is currently available for purchase.

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Are you curious about ROAR AND LIV,
the new novella by Veronia Rossi?
You can read my thoughts on it HERE

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Have you read Under the Never Sky?

Are you as excited as I am for
Throught the Ever Night?


My Thoughts On: Roar and Liv by Veronica Rossi


Roar and Liv by Veronica Rossi
Series: Under the Never Sky #0.5
Published by Harper Collins
Publish Date: October 30, 2012
ebook, approximately 68 Pages
Source: Bought


Before Perry and Aria, there was Roar and Liv.

After a childhood spent wandering the borderlands, Roar finally feels like he has a home with the Tides. His best friend Perry is like a brother to him, and Perry's sister, Liv, is the love of his life. But Perry and Liv's unpredictable older brother, Vale, is the Blood Lord of the Tides, and he has never looked kindly on Roar and Liv's union. Normally, Roar couldn't care less about Vale's opinion. But with food running low and conditions worsening every day, Vale's leadership is more vital—and more brutal—than ever. Desperate to protect his tribe, Vale makes a decision that will shatter the life Roar knew and change the fate of the Tides forever.
 –(summary excerpt from Goodreads)

Roar and Liv by Veronica Rossi

My Thoughts:  You may remember that recently I've started paying a lot of attention to the ebook novellas that are beginning to pop up to accompany the YA books we're all loving these days. In particular and most recently, Destroy Me by Tahereh Mafi kind of shook things up for me character-wise when it provided some background information that I considered pretty necessary between reading Shatter Me and Unravel Me. (You can read my thoughts HERE.) I made the statement that I was going to do my best to read these in-between books as much as possible and I'm going to try and stick to that. I'm going to try especially hard when the book looks great to me and features characters that I really love. In this case, I absolutely love Roar from Under the Never Sky.

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I've recently been re-reading Under the Never Sky in preparation for the release of Through the Ever Night. (My audiobook re-read blog post is coming later today or tomorrow - watch for it!) Because I knew that this ebook was available to me as I read Under the Never Sky - I think I paid a little bit more attention to Roar this time, because I knew I would be spending a little extra time with him once the book was over. I remembered liking him the first time I read, and I remembered all of the details about him. I believe that since I listened to the audiobook while I was re-reading along with print, I gained a new perspective on his voice, his demeanor, his whole character as a whole - and I found that I loved him so much more. 

If You'll Remember: In Under the Never Sky, Roar and Perry are great friends, and Roar is madly in love with Perry's sister Liv. Liv does not really make an appearance in Under the Never Sky - she is talked about in some detail, though, and we can tell that it is with sadness and heaviness. We find out a little bit about her throughout the first book - Liv has run away and Roar desperately wants to find her. 
Because I like Roar so much, if there was more to the story of Roar and Liv, I wanted to know it. So I grabbed the novella.

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What I loved about Roar and Liv by Veronica Rossi is that it gives a fantastic glimpse of not only one or two characters, as the title suggests, but it gives a great cross-section of how Roar and Liv interact along with Perry - as a group. These three have a very tight bond that goes farther than friendship. This novella also gives some great character insight into Perry's brother Vale, Blood Lord of the Tides, and MAN OH MAN is he a rough and rowdy dude. It's really hard to make myself remember that Vale, Perry, and Liv are siblings until I read this book, and even then it is difficult because of how different of a character Vale is. It's kind of odd, really, that despite the size of this ebook, I almost felt like there was more of Vale's character in here than in Under the Never Sky.

There is also so much of Perry in this book - he is so very present, in fact, that many of his actions and thoughts from Under the Never Sky make more sense (not that I was ever really confused by him). Veronica Rossi is able to show in a short space how Perry feels fiercely protective over not only his sister and his friend, but his entire community, and that he would do nearly anything to protect them.

A final observation from this novella is the relationships between pretty much all of the characters - pick any two of them, and the relationship Rossi has written between them is obvious and so well-thought, so well-written. This is something that I noticed last week on my re-read even more than I noticed a year ago when I first read Under the Never Sky, so I may have been more fine-tuned to this observation when I read this novella because of my recent re-read.

Veronia Rossi stands out to me as an author with an ability to write fantastic characters living in an awesome and well-built world. These characters are well-developed and show growth, which I love, and I love that Under the Never Sky is character-driven with a little bit of action. This shorter story is much the same, just on a smaller scale. It's a lovely, smaller piece of work that will hold me over for a few more weeks until Through the Ever Night is released, and I'm anxious to see how the new information that I've learned will play into the new story. 

Roar and Liv is not a novella that is absolutely necessary to keep the plot flowing, in my opinion. At this point, I don't really think it is necessary to learn vital information about any of the characters either. A
m I sorry that I paid for, downloaded, and read this short book? In this case: no, I'm not. I did learn more of these characters' stories and I'm going into the next book with more information and new/additional perspectives on a couple of them, and I can only imagine this will add to whatever may be coming up in the second part of this series. 

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Roar and Liv will appeal to fans of:

YA Sci-Fi/Dystopian
Great Characterization
Romance: No triangle.
Short stories/Novellas

Roar and Liv by Veronica Rossi 
is currently available for purchase.

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Have you read Under the Never Sky?

If you have, do you plan to read Roar and Liv
before continuing with this series?



Sunday, December 9, 2012

Being Friends With Boys Signed Bookmark GIVEAWAY!


A few months ago I grabbed a little blue book from the library: 
- Being Friends With Boys by Terra Elan McVoy -

I read it and I loved it. I loved it so much, you guys.
I waited a few days and then I read it again.
I turned it back into the library late because I couldn't stand to part from it.
(For shame! I know, I know.)

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Being Friends With Boys
by Terra Elan McVoy
Published by Simon Pulse
Publish Date: May 1, 2012
368 Pages

Charlotte and Oliver have been friends forever. She knows that he, Abe, and Trip consider her to be one of the guys, and she likes it that way. She likes being the friend who keeps them all together. Likes offering a girl's perspective on their love lives. Likes being the behind-the-scenes wordsmith who writes all the lyrics for the boys' band. Char has a house full of stepsisters and a past full of backstabbing (female) ex-best friends, so for her, being friends with boys is refreshingly drama-free...until it isn't any more.

When a new boy enters the scene and makes Char feel like, well, a total girl...and two of her other friends have a falling out that may or may not be related to one of them deciding he possibly wants to be more th
an friends with Char...being friends with all these boys suddenly becomes a lot more complicated. –(summary from Goodreads) 

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"Being Friends With Boys is a fun, quirky, quick read that left me feeling all sorts of happy on the inside. I devoured it like I was eating the very best peach cobbler ever in the middle of the summertime. This book was written for me and validated a ton of things I feel as an adult, even though it was written with characters that are in high school, because even at this age of my life I have friends that are *gasp* BOYS." -taken from my Being Friends With Boys blog post 
(You can read my thoughts on Being Friends With Boys HERE. You should!)

Like I said earlier, I devoured this book. Inhaled it. Read and re-read passages. I felt like 
I had once been Charlotte and I sometimes still am Charlotte. She is a FANTASTIC character. So incredible. And I love her to pieces! (Yes, I realize I'm talking like she's real. I told you all that I love this book). 

ANYWAY...there's a pretty big scene in
Being Friends With Boys involving a Winter Formal. A lot of stuff happens at this point... If you've read it, then YOU KNOW. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend you read it.

Seriously. Read this book.

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It just so happens that the Winter Formal occurred at about this exact time of year! 
Cool, right? 

To celebrate my undying love for Being Friends With Boys
AND
to celebrate the Winter Formal at Charlotte's school,
let's have little
GIVEAWAY

Everyone loves bookmark swag, right? 
The first TEN people to leave a comment below with their email address
 will receive a signed Being Friends With Boys bookmark! 
*US Only, please*


Signed bookmarks! Everyone loves them!

Here are the super-easy rules

1. Leave a comment below with your name and email address.
2. The first ten people to respond will receive an email from me. I will be asking for your address! Be watching for it!
3. US Only, please!
4. You do not have to be a follower of this blog to enter! 


 
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