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Waiting on Wednesday (55)

This week, I'm waiting on...

Criminal by Terra McVoy. Nikki’s life is far from perfect, but at least she has Dee. Her friends tell her that Dee is no good, but Nikki can’t imagine herself without him. He’s hot, he’s dangerous, he has her initials tattooed over his heart, and she loves him more than anything. There’s nothing Nikki wouldn’t do for Dee. Absolutely nothing.

So when Dee pulls Nikki into a crime – a crime that ends in murder – Nikki tells herself that it’s all for true love. Nothing can break them apart. Not the police. Not the arrest that lands Nikki in jail. Not even the investigators who want her to testify against him.

But what if Dee had motives that Nikki knew nothing about?

Nikki’s love for Dee is supposed to be unconditional . . . but even true love has a limit. And Nikki just might have reached hers.

How awesome is that cover, and how amazing does this sound? What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

The Explosionist: Review

Title: The Explosionist
Author: Jenny Davidson
Release Date: July 2008
Published By: Harper Teen
Pages: 464
Goodreads Rating: 3.42 stars

Review: Fifteen-year-old Sophie attends a boarding school in the hope of going to university to explore her love of science. But the Scotland in this alternate version of history is on the brink of war in the 1930s, where terrorist attacks are all too common. Her great-aunt is the founder of IRLYNS, an agency for young women to contribute to the war, but something is off - very off, and as she untangles the web of secrets, Sophie's life may be in danger.

To be quite honest, I did not really expect to enjoy this book too much because, let's face it, we all judge books by their cover. However, once I (literally) got past the cover, I found myself confronted with a pleasant surprise. THE EXPLOSIONIST is a book that is, quite simply, impossible to put down. These 464 pages went by like nothing, and even when I was forced to put the book down, I kept finding my thoughts returning to it, trying to work the mystery and wondering what was going to happen next.

In fact, one of the main reasons this book was so hard to put down was because of how awesome the mystery itself was. Unlike what happens in some other novels, this mystery was far from predictable, and the looming dangers only made the suspense level ratchet up even higher. There was a combination of spiritualism, mediums, shrouded agencies, and of course, handsome boys, to make this a real page-turner.

I also found myself really relating to the protagonist. The cliche of a girl in historical fiction attempting to pursue a love of science despite the male domination of the field can be overdone, but in this case, Sophie's personality and aspirations felt utterly genuine. She was brave, intelligent, and quite unlike many other heroines featured in other books.

All in all, THE EXPLOSIONIST is a book that leaves you tearing through the pages all the way to the very end. Even after I finished it, I still wanted to know what would happen next, but in a good way. The protagonist was relatable, the writing was of top-notch quality, and the mystery is simply un-put-down-able. I would recommend this novel to everyone.

Expectations vs. Reality: The Different Girl

Expectations vs. Reality is a feature here inspired by Small Review that will compare my expectations from a book cover before seeing the summary with the summary itself.
This week, I'm looking at The Different Girl by Gordon Walker.


There's definitely a robot or cyborg feel to this cover, with the power button and the bolted lettering. That combined with the title makes me think this is about a cyborg girl in a society that's not particularly welcoming of that, so she faces ostracization. Her hair is obviously dyed, so perhaps she's different in other ways, too.


Here's what Goodreads has to say:

Four nearly identical girls on a desert island. An unexpected new arrival. A gently warped near future where nothing is quite as it seems.

Veronika. Caroline. Isobel. Eleanor. One blond, one brunette, one redhead, one with hair black as tar. Four otherwise identical girls who spend their days in sync, tasked to learn. But when May, a very different kind of girl—the lone survivor of a recent shipwreck—suddenly and mysteriously arrives on the island, an unsettling mirror is about to be held up to the life the girls have never before questioned.
Okay, so clearly I was quite a ways off, but the actual synopsis sounds great! What were your expectations when you saw the cover? What do you think of the real summary?

Chime: Review

Title: Chime
Author: Franny Billingsley
Release Date: March 2011
Published By: Dial
Pages: 361
Goodreads Rating: 3.63 stars

Review: Before Briony's stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family's hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it's become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, but in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, but everything chances when she meets Eldric. As many secrets as she has, she discovers there are some even she doesn't know.

To be honest, I wasn't the hugest fan of the cover of CHIME so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. However, I was more than pleasantly surprised when I started reading by how utterly gripping this book is. The plot goes hand in hand with the wonderfully well-done character development, and it's impossible not to appreciate just how incredibly well-crafted this novel is.

Possibly my favorite aspect was the brilliant writing. Franny Billingsley is a pure poet, and she had just so many sentences and turns of phrase that made me stop and savor them. That's the kind of writing here, where you can't just read it all at once and never think about it. It sticks with you, even when you're past that scene or chapter or heck, the whole book. 

The tone of the book was lovely as well. It's not an entirely unique concept, but the author weaves a creepy and chilling tone about the novel that you don't often see. This is a deliciously dark story that both tugs at your heart and makes you hesitant to step foot in a marsh. It's almost a fairy tale-like feel, and it's impossible not to love.

All in all, CHIME is a truly remarkable novel that I would not hesitate to recommend. From the absolutely phenomenal writing to the wonderful character development to the plot that never lets you go, this is a book you're unlikely to forget. 

Shadows on the Moon: Review

Title: Shadows on the Moon
Author: Zoe Marriott
Release Date: July 2011
Published By: Walker Books
Pages: 464
Goodreads Rating: 4.07 stars

Review: Suzume officially died the day the Prince's men accused her father of treason and slaughtered her family. Only with her shadow-weaving skills was she able to escape, changing her face and her identity to save her own life. Everyone knows that she - known as Yue - is destined to capture the heart of the Prince, but only she knows that she'll use the power to destroy Terayama. And nothing will stop her - not even love.

SHADOWS ON THE MOON is a unique book, not just for its intriguing concept but the way the tone was crafted. This read like part feudal era historical fiction and part fairy tale, and since I love both types of novels, I really enjoyed this kind of combination. The shadow weaving element added a great touch of fantasy and gave the book a sort of "magical realism" feel, which went along nicely with the themes.

I have to admit, I was surprised by the depth of this book. Most fairy-tale-type books tend to gloss over character development and the like and instead focus on short, quick, and interesting plots. However, Suzume had a very complex personality, and I appreciated how thoroughly her inner character conflicts were explored. Her life was difficult and she suffered from a lot of guilt and other complicated emotions, and the author developed these skillfully.

Of course, it wasn't just the characters that were surprisingly well-written in this book. The plot itself was suspenseful and very difficult to stop reading. I actually had trouble putting this novel - or rather, my Kindle - down while I was reading this, which doesn't happen too often for me, so it's a measure of how gripping the story line is.

All in all, SHADOWS ON THE MOON is a wonderful fairy tale retelling set in an imaginary but distinctly Asian feudal-era world. From the well-explored characters to the un-put-down-able plot, this novel will not disappoint any readers. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys fairy-tale-esque books or just wants to read something different.

Paperbacks vs. Hardcovers

There's plenty of debate out in the blogosphere over the merits of e-books and physical books, but sometimes I feel like we're forgetting a debate that came before the Kindle and Nook and what-have-you: paperbacks versus hardcovers.

Both formats have their advantages, of course. Hardcovers are shiny and beautiful, not to mention the nice weight they have when you hold them. Paperbacks, on the other hand, are soft and flexible, and you don't have to worry as much about cracking their spines.

For me, though, the two main reasons paperbacks are the winner for me is (1) they're way cheaper and (2) you don't have to worry about the cover slips. The most irritating thing for me when I read is having to constantly nudge up the slip over the hardcover. I know you can just remove it all together, but then you're left with a plain cover and what's the point of having bought a hardcover anyway?

What do you think? Which is the superior format?

Expectations vs. Reality: Infinite Sky

Expectations vs. Reality is a feature here inspired by Small Review that will compare my expectations from a book cover before seeing the summary with the summary itself.

This week, I'm looking at Infinite Sky by C. J. Flood. 


The lovely, simple artwork of the cover makes me think of a contemporary novel. From the corn, there are definitely some farm vibes going on, and the bugs flying around are reminiscent of summer. This seems like a story of a country girl, perhaps, that takes place during the summer. The title makes me think that she's gone through some type of hardship, and this may be a coming-of-age story.


From Goodreads:
A truly beautiful book about the summer that changed one girl’s life, as her mum leaves home, travellers set up camp in the family’s field, her older brother goes off the rails, and she falls in love for the very first time. Opening with a funeral, Iris is mourning the boy in the casket – but who is it? Sam, her tearaway brother, or Trick, her tentative boyfriend? Over one long hot summer, we find out just how their three lives were turned upside-down.
Looks like I got pretty close! The summary sounds wonderful, though, and I like the idea of a mystery to see who she lost. And of course, the cover is gorgeous.

What were your expectations when you saw the cover?

Plain Kate: Review

Title: Plain Kate
Author: Erin Bow
Release Date: September 2010
Published By: Scholastic
Pages: 314
Goodreads Rating: 3.73 stars

Review: Plain Kate lives in a world of superstitions and curses, where a song can heal a wound and a shadow can work dark magic. As the wood-carver's daughter, she's been holding a knife since she was a little girl, and the charms she creates are so fine that some suspect her of being a witch - a dangerous crime to be accused of. When Linay convinces her to sell her shadow, she's plunged into a darker world than she ever knew of, and there's only way to get out.

From the cover alone, I initially had the impression that PLAIN KATE was a somewhat light-hearted fantasy aimed at approximately a middle grade audience. And oh, how wrong I was. While this book definitely can reach a huge variety of audiences, this is no light-hearted book, despite the funny cracks made by Taggle, Kate's cat who, yes, can talk. There is a much darker storyline weaved together here, and this, combined with several hard-hitting emotional scenes, makes this book truly a work of art.

Possibly my favorite aspect of this was the incredible character development. Even the minor characters had full-fledged personalities and three-dimensionality, but of course, I particularly enjoyed reading about Kate, Taggle, and Linay. Kate is an independent-minded girl whose strength only increases as she battles her way through obstacles, and it was easy to feel related to her. Taggle as well is a character that will make many favorites lists because of his humorous remarks and his intense loyalty.

Linay, on the other hand, was more of an interesting character rather than a likeable one. Villains, especially in the fantasy genre, tend to be rather flat and straight-up easy to despise, but Linay was different. While his actions were of course reprehensible and no one in their right mind would want to be his best friend, he had a back-story that did certainly make readers much more sympathetic towards him. He's not an evil man by any means, just someone blinded by grief who turned to evil methods in his desperation.

All in all, PLAIN KATE is a must-read, even if you, like me, don't consider yourself the hugest fan of fantasy. The characters are amazing, the writing is gorgeous, and the book is ridiculously difficult to put down. The cover is lovely, but don't let it make you think this is only for an MG audience: this book is for everyone.

Waiting on Wednesday (54)

This week, I'm waiting on...

Touched by Cyn Balog. Here's what Goodreads has to say: Nick Cross always listens to the voice in his head. Because if he doesn't? Things can go really, really wrong. Like the day he decided to go off script and saved a girl from being run over . . . and let another one drown. Trying to change the future doesn't work.

But this summer at the Jersey Shore, something's about to happen that Nick never could have predicted. He meets a girl named Taryn and finds out about the Book of Touch. Now the path that he thought he was on begins to shift . . . and there's no way to stop things from happening. Or is there?  

In a life where there are no surprises, nothing has prepared Nick for what he's about to discover--or the choice he will be forced to make. . . .

How gorgeous is that cover? I took one look at that and the first line of the summary, and I knew I wanted to read this book. What do you think? What are you waiting on this Wednesday? 

Revived: Review

Title: Revived
Author: Cat Patrick
Release Date: May 2012
Published By: Little, Brown
Pages: 336
Goodreads Rating: 3.84 stars

Review: The government has secretly developed a drug, Revive, that can bring people back from the dead, and Daisy Appleby has been a test subject ever since she died in a school bus crash as a little girl. She has been Revived five times in fifteen years, and each time means a new name, a new city, and a new life. But when she meets Matt McKean, she begins to question the moral implications of Revive, and when she discovers the true goals behind Revive, she realizes she's at the center of something far more sinister.

Cat Patrick introduces a fascinating concept in REVIVED. Although I've read other books dealing with the idea of coming back to life in one form or another, I've never quite read anything like this, with test subjects in a huge secret agency cover-up. This intriguing idea combined with a fast-moving plot and a highly readable narrating voice resulted in a book that I had far too much trouble putting down.

The characters were also crafted incredibly well. Daisy and Matt felt like real, honest people, and their budding romance as well as the intricate emotional issues they struggled with moved me to the point of tears, which does not happen frequently with me and novels. It's rare for a book to affect me this much on an emotional level, and I treasure it when it does occur, like here.

Perhaps some readers might disagree with me, but I loved the ending! It leaves me wanting more, more, more right away, and I absolutely can't wait for the sequel... assuming there is one. I might just have to cry in a corner if there isn't.

All in all, REVIVED was a wild ride that I adored every page of. From the emotional rollercoaster to the un-put-down-able plot, this novel ratchets up the suspense several notches to the point where you'll want to surgically attach it to your hand. I can't wait for the next book!

Lies Beneath: Review

Title: Lies Beneath
Author: Anne Greenwood Brown
Release Date: June 2012
Published By: Delacorte Books
Pages: 303
Goodreads Rating: 3.68 stars

Review: Calder White lives in Lake Superior, where he and his fellow mermaid sisters must prey on passing humans to survive. This time, though, they have a target: Jason Hancock, the man responsible for their mother's death. Calder's job is to gain Hancock's trust through befriending his daughter, but he messes up and falls in love. Now his sisters are taking things into their own hands, forcing him to choose between his familial ties and the girl he loves.

I was hoping this wouldn't be the case, but LIES BENEATH brought up my most dreaded cliche in paranormal romance: the old guy and the young girl. I can't stand romances between characters who are old "on the inside" due to slow aging or immortality and end up falling in love with young girls. It doesn't matter if he looks sixteen or seventeen or what-have-you - he's fifty years old and it feels kind of creepy.

I also didn't really like that the romance itself was predictable. You could see it coming from a while away, even from just reading the beginning of the plot summary, and unfortunately there wasn't really much that distinguished it from similar romances in similar novels. The concept of killer mermaids was interesting, but it wasn't enough to make this stand out.

However, I still did enjoy several elements of the story, such as the excellent character development. Calder had a complicated relationship with his sisters, including a very unexpected plot twist later on, and this was characterized well through the writing. It wasn't just a simple sibling rivalry but something complex and interesting.

All in all, LIES BENEATH has many elements that don't stand out among other young adult paranormal romances. The romance itself is somewhat cliche and uses the old-guy-young-girl trope, and though the concept is intriguing, the execution is predictable. However, excellent character development brought this story to life and kept it as an enjoyable read.

Draw the Dark: Review

Title: Draw the Dark
Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Release Date: October 2010
Published By: Carolrhoda Books
Pages: 328
Goodreads Rating: 3.67 stars

Review: Christian's parents disappeared when he was just a young boy, and ever since then he's drawn and painted obsessively in an effort to remember his mother. But he doesn't draw his memories - he draws the fears of people around him. He's the reason his first grade teacher committed suicide and his aunt died in a car crash. What he doesn't expect, however, are the secrets buried in his small town of Winter, Wisconsin - and what they mean for him.

DRAW THE DARK brings a creepy and fascinating concept to life - a boy who can capture the fears of the people around him, and has a strange connection to what's known as the Sideways Place. This story combined many interesting elements (a boy with powers, art, and a small town with a dark history) together to create a premise that will drag anyone into the pages.

I also loved the development of Christian's character throughout the book. Although he struggled with many issues that certainly no ordinary teenager has to deal with, he still had a fully fleshed-out personality and felt very much like a real person. He had many obstacles that he needed to overcome, and he handled them both honestly and admirably.

However, I did wish there was more of a focus and development on parts of the story that felt skimmed over. I wanted to know more about the Sideways Place and in general get more of a feel for Christian's abilities. This was one of the more interesting aspects of the novel and so I wished to know more about it than what was given.

All in all, DRAW THE DARK was a wonderfully creepy and suspenseful novel that I enjoyed reading. The protagonist had a well-developed personality, though I did wish for more details about his abilities and the Sideways Place. I recommend this for anyone who is appealed by the premise.

Waiting on Wednesday (53)

This week, I'm waiting on...

Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black. Here's what Goodreads has to say:

Vanessa Adler isn’t so sure she really belongs at the School of American Ballet. But dance runs in her family. It’s been a part of her life for as long as she can remember. Her grandmother and mother were prima ballerinas, and her older sister Margaret was, too. That is, until Margaret mysteriously disappeared from school three years ago. Vanessa is heir to the family’s gift and the only person who can fulfill her sister’s destiny. She has no choice.

But she never could have guessed how dangerous the school is. The infamous choreographer, Josef, isn’t just ruthless with his pupils, he guards a sinister secret, one in which the school’s dancers—prized for their beauty, grace, and discipline—become pawns in a world of dark, deadly demons.

I absolutely love ballet stories, so I'm really looking forward to this one! Have you heard of it? What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Expectations vs. Reality: The Haven

Expectations vs. Reality is a feature here inspired by Small Review that will compare my expectations from a book cover before seeing the summary with the summary itself.

This week, I'm looking at The Haven by Carol Lynch Williams. 


I know Carol Lynch Williams has written a lot of very moving contemporary novels, but this looks nothing like a contemporary. From the ominous stormy skies to the ivy-growing Victorian building, everything about this screams horror. The zombie-like girl only corroborates this idea. The building seems like some type of school, so perhaps the "haven" being referenced in the title is a safe school in a world taken over by zombies.


Here's what Goodreads has to say:
For the teens at The Haven, the outside world, just beyond the towering stone wall that surrounds the premises, is a dangerous unknown. It has always been this way, ever since the hospital was established in the year 2020. But The Haven is more than just a hospital; it is their home. It is all they know. Everything is strictly monitored: education, exercise, food, and rest. The rules must be followed to keep the children healthy, to help control the Disease that has cast them as Terminals, the Disease that claims limbs and lungs—and memories.

But Shiloh is different; she remembers everything. Gideon is different, too. He dreams of a cure, of rebellion against the status quo. What if everything they’ve been told is a lie? What if The Haven is not the safe place it claims to be? And what will happen if Shiloh starts asking dangerous questions?
Okay, fine, so it isn't a zombie novel, but this summary sounds even better! It looks like I was at least right about the school/hospital haven building. The Disease sounds fascinatingly frightening, and I love the whole concept.

What were your expectations when you saw this cover? What do you think of the actual summary?

Rival: Review

Title: Rival
Author: Sara Wealer
Release Date: February 2011
Published By: Harper Teen
Pages: 336
Goodreads Rating: 3.72 stars

Review: Brooke, popular and hating every minute of it, wants nothing more than to use her singing to get her back to NYC, where her family lived before her dad ran off with a movie star. Kathryn, an over-achieving soprano with an under-achieving savings account, needs her music to get herself a college scholarship. Now, with the prestigious Blackmore competition coming up, they question their rivalry, born out of a long-ago betrayal. Can they forgive each other, or are some rivalries for life?

RIVAL is told through dual narration, putting both voices to good effect. Unlike some novels where you prefer one character over the other, in this book, both Brooke and Kathryn had individual voices that were easy to relate to. They were strong and well-developed characters not without their own flaws, and I loved how realistically their former friendship and rivalry was portrayed. It felt like something that would happen in real life, not just in a made-for-TV teen movie.

The plot description may not sound like something particularly suspenseful, but once you start to really get into the story, the book becomes more and more difficult to put down. The tensions between Brooke and Kathryn ratchet higher and higher, creating an engrossing and captivating tone, and the entire time, you want nothing more than to shove the protagonists together and force them to make up.

One worry I did have as I was approaching the end was that the plot resolution would be cliche and predictable. Luckily, this was not the case. Sara Wealer didn't try to make everything sappy and happily-ever-after; she chose a more honest approach, and I respected that. What happens at the end will likely not be quite what you were expecting, which I consider a good thing.

All in all, from the strong narration to the original ending, this is a story difficult to put down and very, very easy to get sucked into. RIVAL is one of the top books I would recommend to anyone looking for a good YA novel about friendship, and though there are some cliches present, there is enough of a unique spin on them to make this is a great book.

Waiting on Wednesday (52)

This week, I'm waiting on...

Breaking Glass by Lisa Amowitz. Here's what Goodreads has to say:
On the night seventeen-year-old Jeremy Glass winds up in the hospital with a broken leg and a blood alcohol level well above the legal limit, his secret crush, Susannah, disappears. When he begins receiving messages from her from beyond the grave, he's not sure whether they're real or if he's losing his grip on reality. Clue by clue, he gets closer to unraveling the mystery, and soon realizes he must discover the truth or become the next victim himself.
Unfortunately, Breaking Glass doesn't release until July 2013. Have you heard of this book? What do you think? What are you waiting on this Wednesday?