Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 WoWs: Worth the Wait?

The Waiting On Wednesday meme hosted by Breaking the Spine is my favorite weekly feature to post. I do it rather religiously, really, and have barely missed a Wednesday since I started blogging seriously in January 2013. For those who don't know, WoW is the chance for avid readers to spotlight yet-to-be-released titles they are really excited to read. But when those titles finally release and we finally get to read them, were they actually worth the wait? Here's how my 2014 WoW picks measured up!


WORTH THE WAIT?

YES!!!
The Accidental Highwayman: Being the Tale of Kit Bristol, His Horse Midnight, a Mysterious Princess, and Sundry Magical Persons Besides (Adventures of Kit Bristol, #1)Invisible (The Twixt, #2)Relax, I'm a NinjaOn the FenceRebel Belle (Rebel Belle, #1)The Unbound (The Archived, #2)Split Second (Pivot Point #2)Erased (Altered, #2)Waistcoats & Weaponry (Finishing School #3)This Shattered World (Starbound, #2)Illusions of Fate

The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp (review)
Invisible by Dawn Metcalf (review)
Relax, I'm a Ninja by Natalie Whipple (review)
On the Fence by Kasie West (review)
Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
The Unbound by Victoria Schwab (review)
Split Second by Kasie West (review)
Erased by Jennifer Rush (review)
Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger (review coming soon)
This Shattered World by Kaufman & Spooner (review coming soon)
Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White (review coming soon)

IT WAS OKAY...
Time Killers: Kazue Kato Short Story CollectionThe Chapel WarsThe Paper Magician (The Paper Magician Trilogy, #1)

Time Killers by Kazue Kato (review)
The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt (review)
The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg (DNF review coming soon)


I WAITED FOR THIS?
Stitching SnowFool Me Twice (If Only . . . #1)The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)The Fourth Wish (The Art of Wishing #2)Fire & Flood (Fire & Flood, #1)Hungry

Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis (review)
Fool Me Twice by Mandy Hubbard (review)
The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
The Fourth Wish by Lindsay Ribar (review)
Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott (review)
Hungry by H.A. Swain (review)


It's exciting just how many were worth the wait this year!! Although unfortunately there were quite a few disappointments as well, most of them serious disappointments (I'm still sniffling over The Fourth Wish)The rest of my 2014 WoW picks are either 2015 titles I have yet to get my hands on, or reads I just haven't been able to get to yet. So many reads, so little time...

So have you read any of these? What did you think of them? 



Thank you to Inspiring Insomnia for letting me swipe the idea for this post!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Review: Death Sworn (Leah Cypess)

Death Sworn (Death Sworn, #1)
Title: Death Sworn
Series: Death Sworn, Book 1
Author: Leah Cypess
Publisher: Greenwillow
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Content Rating: Older Teen (violence, some minor gore, sensuality)
Format Read: ARC (trade)
Find On: Goodreads
Purchase OnAmazon | B&N | Book Depository
Summary:

When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.

But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose… and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins… and possibly the entire world.


*          *          *

Why I Read It: Magic and Assassins? Yes please.

Series: This is the first book in a duology. The sequel, Death Marked, releases March 3, 2015.

Writing: Engaging but distant. The Third Person viewpoint left me feeling a little detached - I would've preferred First Person from Ileni's perspective, so we could really dig into her pain. The two-odd otherwhere scenes we got from the Omniscient perspective seemed unnecessary, in my opinion. However, it worked well enough.

Setting: A fantasy world. Almost the entire story was spent inside a mountain, so we didn't see all that much of the world. This didn't impair the story in any way though, and in fact added to the simplicity I enjoyed from this book. It's implied that we'll see a lot more of the world in the sequel.

Story: A simple story about Ileni, a girl who was losing her magic, and how she moved in with a bunch of young male assassins. We followed her as she settled into her new job in the mountain, made acquaintances and enemies, and waited for her magic to die. There was a mystery she poked a bit here and there, but it was a very simple mystery so there wasn't much to poke. And there was an underlying plot, but it was practically nonexistent until the very end and really came out of nowhere (at least for me). All this simplicity may make the story sound a little dull, but it really worked for me - I found it completely engrossing and very entertaining. And the story does have a few scattered bursts of action, with the end quite an explosion of life-altering revelations and decisions. Also, despite the heavier subject matter of loss and death and murder, it was a light read with its restraint and gray-area thinking.

My Only Complaint: There was one plot thread I thought I caught on to from the beginning, but it was either masterful misdirection or just my own imagination (I suspect the latter) and rather frustrated me when it didn't come to fruition. I was just so sure...

Characters: Ileni was a girl in mourning. She thought her whole life had been set, but when it all came crashing down around her she accepted her lot and moved on. She could've whined about her situation, tried to fight against it, but she didn't, and I admired her for it. Sorin made an intriguing romantic interest, highly skilled and sure but unbalanced and unsure where his loyalties lay in the face of love. He was one seriously awesome assassin and general character, and I was happy with the direction he took in the end.

Romantic Relationship: The romance took a bit of a backseat, which I liked. There was attraction, and there were hormones, but while both Ileni and Sorin felt pulled together they also took their convictions and loyalties into consideration when pondering an actual relationship. This unbalanced them both in the face of love, and made for an interesting ending.

Conclusion: With its magic + assassins equation and simplistic style I really enjoyed this book and look forward to finishing the story with the sequel, Death Marked!  Recommend for anyone who likes magic, assassins, and/or lighter, uncomplicated fantasies.

Scribble Rating
3.5 of 5 Scribbles

Monday, December 29, 2014

Review: Fire & Flood (Victoria Scott)

Fire & Flood (Fire & Flood, #1)
Title: Fire & Flood
Series: Fire & Flood, Book 1
Author: Victoria Scott
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy Thriller
Content Rating: Older Teen (some strong language, violence and some brutal violence, sensuality)
Format Read: ARC (publisher)
Star Rating: 2.5 Stars
Find It On: Goodreads

Summary:

Time is slipping away.... 

Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can't determine what's wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She's lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying—and she's helpless to change anything.

Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It's an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother's illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there's no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.

The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can't trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?


*          *          *

Why I Read It: I was super-excited for this book when it was first announced - I promoted it like mad and couldn't have been happier when the publisher sent me an ARC. And then I read the first page...

Series: I believe this is the first book in a duology? It encompasses half the Brimstone Bleed race.

Writing: I found the style a bit odd with occasionally confusing word choices, but otherwise a short, quick, and fast-paced read.

Setting: My original assumption was that this took place in a dystopic future, but with its scattered present-day references (Google, Lady Gaga, etc.) I think it's actually supposed to be relatively present day, or the very near future? Since the game began with 144 Contenders though (too many players - and workers - involved to be kept as secret as they claimed), I had a hard time swallowing the premise. That aside, the first two ecosystems (jungle and desert) read pretty realistic.

Story: This was way too close to Hunger Games for me. The only big difference was that the main character was self-centered and generally unlikeable, her decision to "volunteer as Tribute" an act of spontaneous rebellion instead of selfless love. Throughout the story she couldn't focus on why she was there to literally save her life, fleeting thoughts of her dying brother lingering only a sentence or two before being shoved aside by thoughts of the romantic interest, Guy. Tella had zero skills, and if she hadn't found Guy, hadn't found the others, she would've been dead only a few days into the jungle because she was too worried about her hair.

The story, in spite of Tella, got better as it progressed. As long as Tella wasn't thinking about herself, it was a relatively entertaining and fast-paced adventure. And no punches were pulled with the violence, which gave me some satisfaction when Tella was in front of said punches. We really didn't get much in the way of answers to the story's mystery until the last few chapters, and while it proved even more like Hunger Games my interest was piqued enough that, despite my dislike for the viewpoint character, I want to find out what happens enough to read the next book. I won't be rooting for Tella, though.

Characters: Tella was 16 going on 12 (or younger), and obnoxious. She was immature, vain, and not too bright, and she annoyed me from the very first sentence. I couldn't bring myself to root for her, and considered her multiple times being in mortal danger the highlights of the book. Thankfully when she had others to distract her from whining about her clothes and hair she was a little more palatable, so I was relieved when companions became permanent a third of the way through. She did gradually grow less obnoxious as she became acquainted with her survival instinct, and even grew a few slivers of backbone. By the end one could even say she discovered some bravery in herself, although it was 95% desperation. But would I root for her to win the rest of the race? No. Even having grown a little, even having discovered her compassion for Pandoras (which really didn't fit her personality at all for me), I'm behind Guy all the way. Not only because of big spoilery reveals at the end, but because he's in it to win it and acted like it. Or he did until he let his hormones get the better of him and fell for a material girl that will get him killed and completely ruin his chances of winning.

Romantic Relationship: No matter what Tella decided, her feelings for Guy were almost completely situational. The rest was because he was hot. In the real world she wouldn't have given his Green Beret type the time of day, so I had a very hard time believing, outside of the Brimstone Bleed situation, that she would've been even remotely interested. As for Guy's attraction to her...no idea, but he's an idiot.

Conclusion: If this hadn't been a review book, I probably wouldn't have finished it - Tella was immature and obnoxious and I really couldn't stand her. Thankfully it was a short and fast-paced read, and once Tella acquired distracting companions the story was much more engaging. After the big reveals at the end I'm curious enough to read the next book, Salt & Stone, although I won't be rooting for Tella to win the Brimstone Bleed. Recommend for readers who prefer their action violent and love cute animal companions enough to forgive an obnoxious viewpoint character.

For Fans Of: The Hunger Games, I guess

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Review: Inherit Midnight (Kate Kae Myers)

Inherit Midnight
Title: Inherit Midnight
Series: standalone
Author: Kate Kae Myers
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Thriller
Content Rating: Teen (rough stuff, violence, kissing, shooting - see Content Note below)
Format Read: ARC (publisher)
Find OnGoodreads
Purchase OnAmazon | B&N | Book Depository
Summary:

The Competition:

Outlandishly wealthy Grandmother VanDemere has decided to leave her vast fortune to the family member who proves him or herself worthiest-by solving puzzles and riddles on a whirlwind race around the globe, from the mines of Venezuela to the castles of Scotland. There will be eight competitors, three continents . . . and a prize worth millions.

The Players:


Seventeen-year-old Avery is the black sheep of the VanDemere clan, the ostracized illegitimate daughter. Finally, she has a chance to prove herself . . . and to discover the truth about her long-lost mother.

Marshall might be Avery's uncle, but there's no love lost between the two of them. He's her main competition, and he'll do anything to win-including betray his own children.

Riley is the handsome son of Grandmother VanDemere's lawyer. As the game progresses, Avery falls hard for Riley. Suddenly, losing the game might mean losing him, too. 

As the competition takes treacherous turns, it becomes clear there can only be one victor. Who can Avery truly trust? And is winning worth her life?


*          *          *

Review copy provided by publisher for an honest review. Thank you, Bloomsbury!


Why I Read It: It sounded like a thrilling adventure!

Series: This is a standalone with a complete arc.

Writing: A little distant but engaging. Although the competition instructions could be complicated, they were clear and easy enough to follow. Good movement.

Setting: Present time in the real world, visiting several countries with a rich family for unusual challenges on their matriarch's whim. It was fun seeing the world through Avery's sheltered view.

Story: If a rich and highly dysfunctional family from a daytime soap went on The Amazing Race, you would have Inherit Midnight. It began a bit of a rollercoaster, opening with a thrilling few chapters only to slide into an infodump I almost didn't make it through. But once my disbelief was suspended about the competition, the over-the-top adventures were fun and entertaining to follow. I'm not sure if the entire end resolution was quite plausible, but it was mostly satisfactory.

Characters: Avery was sheltered but resourceful, and despite being raised by her ridiculously rich grandmother wished for nothing more than a normal life. She was determined to free herself from her selfish and abusive family, and the game became an interesting vehicle for her desperate change. Riley was a person who sought enjoyment out of every situation, which gave Avery and the book a better attitude about the competition. He was the support Avery needed, and because their relationship was a help and not a distraction I totally shipped the relationship.

Romantic Relationship: Sweet and pretty chaste. Riley was 19 and Avery was 17, which meant despite an only 2-year difference she was jail bait for him. This made for barely more than kissing and longing looks.

Content Note: Other than some rough violence, this book was clean for the most part with a relatively chaste romance and no language.

Conclusion: An entertaining adventure story with main characters worth rooting for and a satisfying ending. I would definitely recommend it for fans of reality shows (especially The Amazing Race), and soap opera families.

For Fans Of: The Amazing Race, reality shows, soap operas

Scribble Rating
3 of 5 Scribbles

Friday, December 26, 2014

The #FridayReads Review (12/26/14)



Welcome to The Friday Reads Review, a regular Friday segment where I share what I've been reading the past week! Want to join the Friday fun? Post your own Friday Reads Review on your blog, and then leave the link in the Comments below!


>> CURRENTLY READING <<
The Mime Order (The Bone Season, #2)
The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon (ARC)
Since I have two long weekends ahead of me I thought I would tackle this 500-page read, but I'm a little over 70 in right now and it's slow going. Perhaps it wasn't the best pick for me after all.


>> JUST FINISHED <<
Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion, #1)
Pawn by Aimee Carter (ARC)
A quick and easy read with lots of action and intrigue. Review to come.


>> READING NEXT <<
Captive (The Blackcoat Rebellion, #2)
Captive by Aimee Carter (ARC)
I tend to need a book between sequels so this has been put off once more, but soon my pretty, soon...


So what are you reading this week?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Free e-short: UNTIL MIDNIGHT (Melissa Landers) + Giveaway


Check out a brand new holiday e-short from Melissa Landers!



Cara and Aelyx only have one day to spend together before he returns to earth and she travels to Aelyx's home planet, L'eihr. Homesick and worried about the upcoming year apart, Cara is desperate to make these final hours count. Worst of all, Cara is missing Christmas, stuck on board an alien spaceship. When Aelyx learns that Cara is forgoing her favorite holiday, he tries to recreate Christmas in space by researching traditional earth customs…but a few things get lost in translation.


A note from the author:

Happy Holidays, everyone! I’m Melissa Landers, author of the Alienated series, and I have a present for you—a brand new e-short from Disney Hyperion!

UNTIL MIDNIGHT takes place onboard an intergalactic transport, soon after ALIENATED ends and before the sequel INVADED begins. The story details Aelyx and Cara’s last day together before he returns to Earth to mend the alliance and she continues to his home planet. It’s sweet and romantic, and as a bonus, it includes a four-chapter preview of the sequel, which releases February 3rd.

Oh, and did I mention the best part? IT’S FREE!

You can download UNTIL MIDNIGHT from the following e-tailers:


*If you live outside the USA, no worries. I’ve uploaded the story to Scribd for you. (The only downside is it doesn’t include the bonus preview chapters, due to technical reasons from the publisher.)


To celebrate this new release, I’m offering TWO lucky winners an autographed swag pack complete with a personalized bookplate, mini-poster, bookmarks, and stickers—open internationally! Just fill out the rafflecopter form below.

Best of luck, and happy reading!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Melissa Landers writes romantic science fiction for teens and the young at heart. Her debut, ALIENATED, released February 2014 from Disney-Hyperion with the sequel, INVADED, scheduled to release February 3, 2015. To learn more about her and her books, or just to say hello, visit her website. You can also find her on Twitter.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing This Year


Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! This week's topic: 

Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind 
Santa Bringing This Year

(Please Santa, ARCs and Paperbacks only!

RELEASED 
CrudratThe Aftermath (Aftermath #1)My Faire LadySince You've Been GoneWild Justice (Nadia Stafford, #3)The Shadow ThroneSuperheroes AnonymousErased (Altered, #2)Partials (The Partials Sequence, #1)
  1. Crudrat (Gail Carriger) (I couldn't give enough to the Kickstarter to earn a physical copy, so Santa is pretty much my only hope now. T-T)
  2. The Aftermath (Jen Alexander)
  3. My Faire Lady (Laura Wettersten)
  4. Since You've Been Gone (Morgan Matson)
  5. Wild Justice (Kelley Armstrong)
  6. The Shadow Throne (Jennifer A. Nielsen)
  7. Superheroes Anonymous (Lexie Dunne)
  8. Erased (Jennifer Rush)
  9. Partials (Dan Wells)

UNRELEASED
Polaris (Avalon, #2)A Darker Shade of Magic (A Darker Shade of Magic, #1)RazorhurstDeath Marked (Death Sworn, #2)The Fill-In BoyfriendThe Leveller (The Leveller, #1)School for SidekicksRed Queen (Red Queen Trilogy, #1)Seriously Wicked
  1. Polaris (Mindee Arnett) 
  2. A Darker Shade of Magic (V.E. Schwab) 
  3. Razorhurst (Justine Larbalestier) 
  4. Death Marked (Leah Cypess) 
  5. The Fill-In Boyfriend (Kasie West)
  6. The Leveller (Julia Durango) 
  7. School for Sidekicks (Kelly McCullough) 
  8. The Red Queen (Victoria Aveyard) 
  9. Seriously Wicked (Tina Connolly) 

So what books are on your list to Santa?