Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (12)

Waiting on Wednesday was created by Jill at Breaking the Spineand it is a weekly event showcasing an  upcoming release we're excited for!
My pick:
Release Date: August 7, 2012

Summary (taken from Goodreads):

On the surface, there’s nothing remarkable about Anna Rogan: She gets average grades, she’s not especially fashionable, she spends most of her time just hanging out with her best friend Rei. But Anna does have a remarkable secret: she has the ability to do astral projection. She uses her out-of-body experiences to explore the universe, until one day when there’s an accident at school and her classmate Taylor gets into her body. Now Taylor’s using her new identity to accuse an innocent boy of murder and she shows no signs of leaving Anna’s body. The only person who knows Anna’s secret is Rei, and as her feelings for Rei grow she must face a future where they can never touch...unless they can find a way to get Taylor out of Anna’s body, stop the murder trial, and discover the true nature of Anna’s power.
I have to start out by saying that I ADORE this cover. I love the blue tones, the water/light specks, and how the girl on the cover seems to be floating (she can astral project, so it makes sense, no?)! Speaking of astral projection, that is the main reason I am so excited for this book! I used to love the show Charmed (do people still remember that show?), and for some reason, I thought Prue's ability to astral project was just the coolest thing. I have not come across many books where the main character has powers like this, so it should be exciting and interesting to read! I am hoping an ARC finds its way into my eager hands soon, but in the meantime, I will begin the long and tedious wait until August rolls around.

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Review: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Release Date: March 13, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Travel
Available Formats: Hardcover and eBook
My Shelf: Own ARC (eBook)
It all begins with a stupid question: 

Are you a Global Vagabond? 

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path. 

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward. 

But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back. 

Kirsten Hubbard lends her artistry to this ultimate backpacker novel, weaving her drawings into the text. Her career as a travel writer and her experiences as a real-life vagabond backpacking Central America are deeply seeded in this inspiring story.

Wanderlove, simply put, was breathtaking. This book tugged at my heart and just really resonated with me. It made me want to wander, and it made me want to love. I was captivated from the very beginning, and I have wholly fallen in love with this book.

Wanderlove tells the story of an 18-year-old named Bria Sandoval, who is desperately looking to escape her life in California. She has always loved art, but after a disaster of a relationship with her jealous boyfriend comes to an end, Bria finds herself unable to do the one thing that brought her joy. In attempt to reclaim her art and find some independence, she spontaneously plans a trip to Central America with the Global Vagabonds. Unbeknownst to her, these Global Vagabonds are not the rugged, seasoned backpacking adventurers she thought they would be, but rather a group of older tourists sporting suitcases and sunscreen-white noses. When she comes across siblings Rowan and Starling, who just so happen to be backpacking veterans, she decides to live on the edge, ditch the group and her suitcase, and travel with them. Throughout their explorations and travels in the Central America, Bria learns more about herself, rediscovers her art, and finds love.

Hubbard has written an astonishingly beautiful story in Wanderlove. This book is so much more than a girl who finds love abroad, or a girl who matures and achieves self-actualization through her travels. Bria’s story made me feel so much, and there were honestly moments where I thought I was feeling too many feelings. The end of the story almost had me in tears!

As the main character, Bria was amazing. I understood her need to get away from the impasse at home and reclaim her love for art. I liked how when someone told her she could not do something, she was determined to prove to them, and even to herself, that she could. She is stubborn, and even a little snarky at times, but that is just who she is. It is almost scary how well I connected to her character. Her moments of wondering what the future holds for her resembled mine from a few years back.  I had similar doubts and concerns, enabling me to connect and relate with her, and I got really invested in her story. Rowan was also perfect in his own way. Looking to escape a past chocked full of wrongdoings, he lives by his self-made policy of wanderlove: live in the present, look to the future, and never look back or dwell on what has already come to pass. He is adventurous, confident, and just downright swoon-worthy. While his demeanor says he’s uncaring, he is actually extraordinarily kind, and he is always there for those he cares for. I feel like nothing I say does him justice! I just loved, loved, loved him.

The chemistry between Bria and Rowan was excellent! Their relationship starts out rather rocky, with Rowan being a rather unwilling tour guide and Bria being standoffish. It takes a while for them to start opening up to one another, and very slowly, their relationship builds into friendship and then something more. I really liked how their relationship progressed slowly, for it made their feelings for one another seem real. They both have trust issues resulting from past relationships, and it takes them some time to feel comfortable around each other. They are also a great balance for one another. Rowan helps Bria become more audacious and adventurous while Bria shows Rowan the benefits of trusting someone and never running from the past. They really complement one another, and I loved watching their relationship develop.

It would be wrong of me to not talk about Hubbard’s prose and extensive details. This book is packed full of beautiful descriptions, more than I have ever come across in any book, and it provided a nice touch to the story. An artist pays attention to the little things, such as people, clothing, and even lighting effects, and these details just helped define Bria’s character and her love for art. The descriptions were breathtaking, and they made me feel like I was in Central America myself, experiencing and seeing everything as Bria did. Hubbard definitely has a way with words, and I think she is an exceptional writer. 

Hubbard is also an extraordinary artist. There were a few of her drawings intermittently placed in the story, and each picture correlated to what Bria was drawing and/or feeling. These drawings added a nice touch to the story, and also helped bring out Bria’s love for art. I do not know much about art, but I thought the pictures Hubbard drew were AMAZING! I read the eBook on my computer, which was not the optimal way to view them, so I am looking forward to seeing how these pictures look in the ‘real.’

Overall, this book was one the best books I have read in 2012. It is a beautifully written story, set in some alluring areas in Central America, and you should not miss out on it. I have to say, this book really made we want to travel. I have never been backpacking before, nor really even cared to try, but I am rethinking that decision now. I really enjoyed this book, and I cannot wait to see what Hubbard has in store for us next!
The Greatest Escape!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review: Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

Release Date: June 1, 2010
Publisher: Egmont USA
Age Group: Young Adult (14+)
Available Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, and eBook
My Shelf: Own (Paperback)
When Wayland North brings rain to a region that's been dry for over ten years, he's promised anything he'd like as a reward. He chooses the village elder's daughter, sixteen-year-old Sydelle Mirabel, who is a skilled weaver and has an unusual knack for repairing his magical cloaks. Though Sydelle has dreamt of escaping her home, she's hurt that her parents relinquish her so freely and finds herself awed and afraid of the slightly ragtag wizard who is unlike any of the men of magic in the tales she's heard. Still, she is drawn to this mysterious man who is fiercely protective of her and so reluctant to share his own past.

The pair rushes toward the capital, intent to stop an imminent war, pursued by Reuel Dorwan (a dark wizard who has taken a keen interest in Sydelle) and plagued by unusually wild weather. But the sudden earthquakes and freak snowstorms may not be a coincidence. As Sydelle discovers North's dark secret and the reason for his interest in her and learns to master her own mysterious power, it becomes increasingly clear that the fate of the kingdom rests in her fingertips. She will either be a savior, weaving together the frayed bonds between Saldorra and Auster, or the disastrous force that destroys both kingdoms forever.

Here are three words to sum up my feelings on this book: I loved it! The writing was simplistic and beautiful, the world and its magical elements were exquisitely crafted, and the characters were well developed and likeable. This book is packed full of adventure, magic, and even some romance. It has certainly been awhile since I got this engaged in a story, and I really did not want it to end.

My favorite thing about this book has to be the characters. I respected and liked Syd and completely fell for the (magical) charms of North. Sydelle, or Syd, is one of the best female MC I have come across, and I appreciated how steadfast, willful, and intelligent she was. In fact, Syd is the epitome of what I believe is a ‘strong’ female character. When under pressure or faced with a problem, she has a hard time protecting herself when the fight gets physical being slight, so she uses her wit. Syd is smart, and I like how she uses her intelligence to get out of some sticky situations. While girls who love to kick butt, live for insulting men and their manly parts, and sport brass knuckles are awesome, I like seeing a character being able to fall back on their wit. The mind is mightier than the sword! (I may have tweaked the saying a little bit to suit my prerogative…) Regardless, knowledge never fails!

And then there is North. Oh, North, North, North. I have developed a new (or another) literary boy crush in North. Here is a wizard who is both cursed and plagued by the past, has a rather snarky demeanor, can be cowardly at times, and even gets drunk occasionally. He is far from prefect, yet he is kind and protective, and he treats Syd with nothing less than respect. I cannot even begin to express how much I adore him. It is so refreshing to finally have a male lead that is not being referenced to Adonis/some Greek god or having angel-like beauty (*bats eyes* Did it hurt when you fell out of heaven?). North is not infallible, he does not make all women swoon at the sight of him, and Syd has to fight with him constantly to get him to open up. In other words, he resembles what an ‘actual’ guy is like, and I cannot help but love him.

I loved the chemistry and relationship between Syd and North. Their relationship had me giggling randomly, and it left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling at the end. Syd detests the wizard in the beginning for taking her from her family, but as she comes to discover some of his secrets and grows to understand him more, her feelings and view of him changes. They had some rough patches, and there were even moments when Syd was not sure she could trust North, but they overcame them all and started a nice (romantic, but not in a sappy way) relationship. They really care for one another, and I just adored their steadily progressing relationship.

I have to admit, I am at a bit of an impasse. I loved this book, and I think the ending was beyond perfect. Part of me wants a sequel, while the other part of me wants to leave everything as is. There are a few loose ends begging to be tied (such as North’s curse and if a cure was ever discovered), but readers can interpret for themselves what happened. However, even though I have enough information to make my own conclusions, I want more of this magical world and more of North and Syd. What can I say? I guess I am a selfish person! Either way, Brightly Woven now has its own place on my favorites shelf. This is definitely a book you should look into if you have not read it yet. Bracken has another book coming out on December 18, 2012, and it is entitled The Darkest Minds. You can bet I will be reading it when it comes out! 
The Greatest Escape!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cover Reveal: Luminosity

The cover for Luminosity by Stephanie Thomas has been revealed! The book will be published September 11, 2012 by Entangled Publishing. This is Thomas's debut novel, so if you participate in the Debut Author Challenge created by Kristi at The Story Siren, be sure to add it to your list!

And now, without further ado, the cover for Luminosity!

Luminosity by Stephanie Thomas
Release Date: September 11, 2012 by Entangled Publishing

My name is Beatrice. When I was born, I was blessed with the Sight. I was immediately removed from my parents and enrolled in the Institution. At the age of twelve, I had my first true vision, earning my raven’s wings. And when I turned seventeen, one of my visions came true. Things haven’t been the same since. 

The Institution depends on me to keep the City safe from our enemy, the Dreamcatchers, but I’m finding it harder to do while keeping a secret from everyone, including my best friend Gabe. It is a secret that could put us all in danger. A secret that could kill me and everyone close to me. 

But the enemy has been coming to me in my dreams, and I think I’m falling in love with him. He says they’re coming. He says they’re angry. And I think I’ve already helped them win.
Isn't it beautiful? I love all the blue hues! The premise of the story really intrigues me, so I am looking forward to reading this book! What are your thoughts?

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Cover Reveal: Through to You

The cover for Through to You by Emily Hainsworth has finally been revealed! It is due out October 2nd, 2012, and it will be published by Balzer + Blay / HarperCollins. 

Release Date: October 2, 2012

Summary (taken from Goodreads):

A romantic sci-fi thriller about love and second chances. 

Camden Pike has been grief-stricken since his girlfriend, Viv, died. Viv was the last good thing in his life: helping him rebuild his identity after a career-ending football injury, picking up the pieces when his home life shattered, and healing his pain long after the pain meds wore off. And now, he’d give anything for one more glimpse of her. But when Cam makes a visit to the site of Viv’s deadly car accident, he sees some kind of apparition. And it isn’t Viv. 

The apparition’s name is Nina, and she’s not a ghost. She’s a girl from a parallel world, and in this world, Viv is still alive. Cam can’t believe his wildest dreams have come true. All he can focus on is getting his girlfriend back, no matter the cost. But things are different in this other world: Viv and Cam have both made very different choices, things between them have changed in unexpected ways, and Viv isn’t the same girl he remembers. Nina is keeping some dangerous secrets, too, and the window between the worlds is shrinking every day. As Cam comes to terms with who this Viv has become, and the part Nina played in his parallel story, he’s forced to choose—stay with Viv or let her go—before the window closes between them once and for all.
This definitely seems like an exciting read, so be sure to add it to your to-be-read pile! Also, be sure to check out Emily Hainsworth's blog and website for more info! And last but not least, follow Emily on Twitter! I hope you are looking forward to this book as much as I am! Is it October yet?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Other Life (The Weepers) by Susanne Winnacker

The Other Life (The Weepers) by Susanne Winnacker

Release Date: February 1, 2012
Publisher: Usborne
Age Group:
Young Adult (14+)
Formats Available: Paperback and eBook (Hardcover will be published in May with a new cover)
Buy the Book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble
3 years, 1 month, 1 week and 6 days since I’d seen daylight. One-fifth of my life. 98,409,602 seconds since the heavy, steel door had fallen shut and sealed us off from the world.

Sherry has lived with her family in a sealed bunker since things went wrong up above. But when they run out of food, Sherry and her dad must venture outside. There they find a world of devastation, desolation...and the Weepers: savage, mutant killers.

When Sherry's dad is snatched, she joins forces with gorgeous but troubled Joshua - an Avenger, determined to destroy the Weepers.

But can Sherry keep her family and Joshua safe, when his desire for vengeance threatens them all?

Well, this was certainly an enthralling, action-packed read! I was captivated from the very beginning, and all the action had me on the edge of my seat. This was definitely an exciting story from debut author Susanne Winnacker, and while I enjoyed the story immensely, I felt that there was just a little something missing that would have made this good read a spectacular one.

3 years, 1 month, 1 week and 6 days since I’d seen daylight. One-fifth of my life. 98,409,602 seconds since the heavy, steel door had fallen shut and sealed us off from the world. From just those few sentences alone, it is almost impossible not to draw parallels to Shatter Me. Juliet, the MC in Shatter Me, hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days and has been locked up for 264 days with 1 window. 4 walls. 144 square feet of space. Sounds a little similar, no? Add to the fact that both these books are dystopian literature, and even I was expecting The Weepers to be a lot like Shatter Me. However, these books are two completely different types of dystopian fiction. If you picked up this book expecting something like Shatter Me, be prepared for something a little different.

A rabies epidemic has been unleashed, and in order to avoid being contaminated, people moved into basements and bunkers. After spending over 3 years in their bunker, Sherry and her family have run out of food, forcing her and her father to brave the now unknown world awaiting them outside. Their old neighborhood is desolate, and dead bodies litter the streets and sidewalks. During their search for food, Sherry’s father is taken by Weepers, human who have become mutant creatures (or zombies, if you will) from the rabies outbreak. Sherry joins forces with Joshua and his companions to help find her father and figure out the truth behind the Weepers and the rabies spread.

The action in this book was crazy! As soon as Sherry exits the bunker, her life basically becomes a constant fight for survival. Emotions were always heightened, and there were some scary moments that made my heart beat a little faster (but I am a huge baby, so that is no surprise…). However, while the action and intensity of the novel was bar none, there was very little time to introduce a decent plot and really bring the characters to life. I have to say, the premise of this novel definitely drew me to the book, and I was really looking forward to learning more about the world and the rabies infestation/zombie problem. However, there was almost no plot throughout most of the story. There were constantly fights with Weepers for survival with a little romance thrown in intermittently, but the whole plot was introduced in the last couple of pages. Now, the plot was great and really interesting, and the introduction of it all in the end definitely served as a big cliffhanger that left me wanting more, but I really wish there had been more of it throughout the story. It would have been better to have introduced the plot twists pieces at a time instead of exposing everything at once. While the wow factor at the end might not be as great through slow exposure, it definitely would have kept me more invested in the story.

I liked the romance between Joshua and Sherry, but there was little chemistry between them. They are constantly fighting for their lives, and I felt their romance was more a production of the high of surviving after a rough battle instead of two teenagers falling in love in a dystopian world. I really wish I knew what they saw in each other, or even what they felt about one another. And that leads me to my next point: I think the reason I did not really understand their love was because I did not really understand them. The book was told from Sherry’s perspective, but I felt like I really did not know much about her at the end. What did she feel? What did she think? And it is not just Sherry’s character. I felt like I did not really get to know any of the characters. This book was a really quick read, so I think it would have been best to make the book longer and add in emotional or romantic moments to help flesh out the characters more. While the book was good without these added moments, I personally think they would have made this story better.

Do not get me wrong, I loved the action in this book, and it left me riveted and constantly on my toes. However, I just wish there would have been a little more substance to the story. In the end, it just felt as though something was missing. However, this is a good book and a quick read, so you should definitely check it out! I will definitely be reading the sequel, The Life Beyond, to see what happens next, and hopefully we will learn more about the characters and the new world!
A Decent Escape

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (11)

Waiting on Wednesday was created by Jill at Breaking the Spineand it is a weekly event showcasing an  upcoming release we're excited for!
My Pick:
Cold Fury (Cold Fury, #1) by T.M. Goeglein
Release Date: July 24, 2012

Summary (taken from Goodreads):

Sara Jane Rispoli is just a normal sixteen-year-old girl coping with school and a developing crush— until her parents and younger brother are kidnapped, and she discovers her family has been a key figure of Chicago’s Outfit (aka the mob) for decades. Her father, grandfather and great grandfather all used their special ability, cold fury, to settle disputes between the two mob factions—the muscle and the money. And unless Sara wants the mob to think her now missing family has turned state’s evidence, she will have to fill her father’s shoes as the mob’s peacemaker, using her own cold fury.

A book about the mob? Yes, please! The cover is awesome, the main character seems to be pretty hardcore, and the premise of the novel (THE MOB!) has definitely caught my interest! This book looks like it is going to be packed with awesomeness and action, and I cannot wait to get my hands on it! 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Inbetween Cover Reveal!

Tara Fuller has a new book coming out August 7, 2012. entitled Inbetween, and the cover for the book has been revealed!

Inbetween (Kissed by Death, #1) by Tara Fuller
Release Date: August 7, 2012


Since the car crash that took her father’s life three years ago, Emma’s life has been a freaky—and unending—lesson in caution. Surviving “accidents” has taken priority over being a normal seventeen-year-old, so Emma spends her days taking pictures of life instead of living it. Falling in love with a boy was never part of the plan. Falling for a reaper who makes her chest ache and her head spin? Not an option.

It’s not easy being dead, especially for a reaper in love with a girl fate
has put on his list not once, but twice. Finn’s fellow reapers give him
hell about spending time with Emma, but Finn couldn't let her die before,
and he’s not about to let her die now. He will protect the girl he loves
from the evil he accidentally unleashed, even if it means sacrificing the
only thing he has left…his soul.
I like this cover! To be honest, when I read the synopsis of this book, the story of Death falling in love with a human reminded me a lot of Abbi Glines's Existence. I enjoyed Existence (and you can read my review of it here), so I am really looking forward to Fuller's book! It seems really interesting!

Friday, February 17, 2012

The cover for Onyx (Lux, #2) has a new look!

Onyx, the second book in the Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout, is sporting a new look! I liked her previous cover (which you can find here), but this one is even better!

Onyx (Lux, #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Release Date: August 14, 2012

Summary (taken from Goodreads):

Being connected to Daemon Black sucks… 

Daemon’s determined to prove what he feels for me is more than a product of our bizarre connection. I’ve sworn him off even though he’s running more hot than cold these days. But against all common sense, I’m falling for him. Hard. 

Our relationship issues aren’t out biggest problem… 

The Department of Defense is here. If they ever find out what Daemon can do and that we’re linked, I’m a goner. So is he. And when a new boy shows up a school with a secret of his own, things get complicated fast. I need to choose between my own instincts and Daemon’s. 

But then everything changes… 

I’ve seen someone who shouldn’t be alive. Daemon’s never going to stop searching until gets the truth. What happened to his brother? Who betrayed him? And what does the DOD want from them—from me? 

No one is who they seem. And not everyone will survive the lies.
Shadows, a prequel novella to the Lux series, will be released on Febraury 21, 2012. 

For more information about the Lux series or Jennifer L. Armentrout:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cover Reveals: Gravity and Taste

The covers for Gravity by Melissa West and Taste by Kate Evangelista have been revealed, and they are oh so lovely!

Release Date: October 2012
Summary (taken from Goodreads):

In the future, only one rule will matter: Don’t. Ever. Peek.

Seventeen-year-old Ari Alexander just broke that rule and saw the last person she expected hovering above her bed--arrogant Jackson Locke, the most popular boy in her school. She expects instant execution or some kind of freak alien punishment, but instead, Jackson issues a challenge: help him, or everyone on Earth will die.

Ari knows she should report him, but everything about Jackson makes her question what she’s been taught about his kind. And against her instincts, she’s falling for him. But Ari isn’t just any girl, and Jackson wants more than her attention. She’s a military legacy who’s been trained by her father and exposed to war strategies and societal information no one can know--especially an alien spy, like Jackson. Giving Jackson the information he needs will betray her father and her country, but keeping silent will start a war.
I am so in love with this cover! ><

Release Date: TBA

Summary (taken from Goodreads):

At Barinkoff Academy, there's only one rule: no students on campus after curfew. Phoenix McKay soon finds out why when she is left behind at sunset. A group calling themselves night students threaten to taste her flesh until she is saved by a mysterious, alluring boy. With his pale skin, dark eyes, and mesmerizing voice, Demitri is both irresistible and impenetrable. He warns her to stay away from his dangerous world of flesh eaters. Unfortunately, the gorgeous and playful Yuri has other plans.

When Phoenix is caught between her physical and her emotional attraction, she becomes the keeper of a deadly secret that will rock the foundations of an ancient civilization living beneath Barinkoff Academy. Phoenix doesn’t realize until it is too late that the closer she gets to both Demitri and Yuri the more she is plunging them all into a centuries old feud.
Oh man, I love this cover, too! Both of these books sound great, and they have already been added to my to-read list! What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (10)

Waiting on Wednesday was created by Jill at Breaking the Spine, and it is a weekly event in which readers mention one book they are eager to get their hands on!

Let's get right to it!! For this week, I have chosen.....

The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long (Debut)

Release Date: August 16, 2012

Summary (taken from Goodreads):

The trees swallowed her brother whole. And Jenny was there to see it. Years later, when she returns to the woods where Tom was taken to say good-bye at last, she finds herself lured into a world where stunning beauty masks the most treacherous of evils, and strange and dangerous creatures await—creatures who seem to consider her the threat. Among them is Jack, mercurial and magnetic, with allegiances that shift as much as his moods. Determined to find her brother, with or without Jack’s help, Jenny struggles to navigate a faerie world where nothing is what it seems, no one is who they say, and she’s faced with a choice between salvation or sacrifice—and not just her own.
I am not going to lie, the first thing that drew me to this book was the cover. It is beautiful! I am really looking forward to getting my hands on this book! Too bad August seems so far away..... [sigh] What are you looking forward to reading?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Release Date: January 3, 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins
Age Group: Young Adult (14+)
Formats Available: Hardcover and eBook


Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she's never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.

Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He's searching for someone too. He's also wild - a savage - but might be her best hope at staying alive.

If they can survive, they are each other's best hope for finding answers.

"A world of nevers under a never sky."

Under the Never Sky is the reason I, and so many others, have joined in the new craze for dystopian/dystopian post-apocalyptic fiction. Simply put, this book was enthralling, and I could not put it down. Rossi has certainly made her presence known in the YA book world with this wonderful debut. This was one of the most talked about releases for early 2012, and it does not disappoint. Rossi created an intriguing world, riveting plot, and awesome characters. I thought her writing style was exquisite; her details were descriptive and clear, and her plot and dialogue were well-scripted. I just loved, loved, loved this book.

The world Rossi crafted really fascinated me. Readers are thrust into a new world with little to no explain for how things are, left to their own devices to figure out how things run and piece everything together bit by bit (which is not that difficult, so no worries!). The world has been split into two different regions: there is Reverie, an area composed of pods to protect the Dwellers from the outside world, and the Death Shop/Outside, an area where nature has run rampant and the Outsiders struggle to survive. The Dwellers live in comfort with their vast amount of technology, while the Outsiders brave the elements and fight to live day to day.  The world has been ravished and dominated by a storm/wind-like essence called Aether, making some places completely uninhabitable. As far as Aether is concerned, Rossi took a more-is-less approach to explaining it. The reader learns literally nothing about what it is, where it comes from, or how it works, just that it is bad. I have to say, I am very curious to learn more about Aether, so I hope she talks about it more in the next two books.  

I also liked Rossi’s characters. There is Aria, who has only ever known of life in Reverie, and Perry, an Outsider. The book is told from both of their perspectives, making it easy for the reader to understand and connect with them. Aria, in the beginning, is somewhat weak, unable to protect herself and barely able to survive out in the Death Shop. However, as the story progresses, she becomes stronger and more resilient, willing to fight her own battles. Her character definitely grew on me, and I ended up really liking her. However, my favorite character was Perry (go figure, since I always fall for the guys! ><). Perry, whose real name is Peregrine, is the ultimate survivor and warrior, braving Aether storms to find food and never backing down from a fight. He fights for those he loves and is willing to die to protect himself, his nephew, and his clan. At times, he is cold and standoffish, and sometimes even downright callous, but deep down he is caring and protective. I loved how Perry slowly opened up as the story advanced, and in the end, I just loved him.

When the two of them first meet, Aria sees Perry as a Savage, rude and barbaric with his large canine teeth, while Perry sees Aria as a weak child who knows nothing of the world. When people they care for are taken, their paths merge, and they are forced on a journey through the Death Shop. Their relationship is untrusting at first, despising their predicament and even each other, but very slowly they learn to trust and open up. Their slow developing chemistry (and eventual romance) was prefect, in my opinion. I loved how Rossi did not focus on the romance heavily. It is there, but it takes backburner to the other things occurring in the story and their overall goal. They are on a journey to save their loved ones, and that takes precedence over all else, even their own feelings for each other (as it should).

The side characters are pretty interesting as well. I have developed a slight crush on Roar (sorry, Perry). I loved his sense of humor and how easy going he was. The moments between him and super-serious Perry provided some comic moments/relief. He is pretty awesome, and I cannot wait to get some more of him in the next book. I am also intrigued by Cinder. His little ‘trick’ definitely has me curious, and I hope we find out more about him in the next book as well!

On a side note, one thing I want to mention is the beginning of the book. I honestly think it is the weakest part of the novel. The story starts out slow, and the reader is slightly overwhelmed by all the new words and technical terms. For a while, I had no idea what was going on! But please, please, please do not quit reading. The story picks up, and the world and new turn of phrase start to make more sense. Just keep reading. Trust me, this is not a story you want to miss out on.

Overall, I feel like I cannot gush enough about this book (or swoon over Perry, for that matter). The story is great, the world is great, and the characters are great. This was an excellent debut from Rossi, and I am eager to see what she has for us next. The ending had me craving more, and I cannot tell you how excited I am to read the next book. The second book in the trilogy is entitled Through the Ever Night, and it is scheduled for publication some time in early 2013. It is an understatement when I say I cannot wait to get my hands on that book.
 The Greatest Escape!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Phantom Universe by Laura Kreitzer

Release Date: February 15, 2011
Publisher: Obsidian Mountain Publishing (Paperback) and Revolution Publishing (eBook)
Genre: Dystopian, Dark, Romance
Available Formats: Paperback and eBook
Buy the Book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble
Sold into slavery to pirates at the young age of four, Summer learns to survive the rough seas of subterfuge and thieves through silence. When the boat she's lived on most of her life is destroyed, Summer finds herself washed up on the shore of a new world, a phantom universe full of the bizarre and extraordinary. She meets Gage, the one boy who understands the girl with no speech. But when their lives are put on the line, will Summer finally call out? Or will all be lost in the fathomless depth of silence?

Phantom Universe took my breath away. This book is unique, heart-wrenching, romantic, beautiful, and thought invoking. Laura Kreitzer has created an exquisite world, alluring story, and amazing characters. I was completely immersed in the story from page one, and I did not want it to end.

Tortured and beaten as a child, Summer became mute, learning that silence was the best policy to avoid the lash of a whip. She was sold to a slave ship at a young age, and her life became dominated by seafarers and the roll of the waves. She is able to find a companion on the ship, Landon, who is able to understand her, and they quickly become best freinds. However, they are wrenched apart when the ship is destroyed, and Summer finds herself stranded on an island. She is unknowingly thrust into a future world, a phantom universe. She meets Gage, who is unlike any other man she has even come across, and he helps introduce her to this new, wondrous realm. Just as Summer is adjusting to her new life, she learns that she is highly sought after, and some Secret Clock Society would love nothing more than to see her dead. When their lives are put on the line, will Summer finally call out? Or will all be lost in the fathomless depth of silence?

This book was a completely new type of story for me. I have never read a story where the main character is mute, nor one where slavery and torture is a major underlying theme. The moments when Summer recalls beatings or trauma are packed with raw emotions and pain, and my heart went out to her. Kreitzer does an amazing job bringing Summer’s emotions to life. I cannot remember the last time I have felt this strongly or deeply for a character. However, the thing that I respect the most about this story is how Kreitzer brings awareness to slavery and child trafficking. It is a very real thing, even today, and most of what Summer endured is not far from the truth. If anything, it is a softer version of what some children are forced to deal with. I really like how light was shed on this very real, albeit horrible, problem that we as people face. Hopefully some awareness can be raised, even if it is awareness derived from a fictional story. Ms. Kreitzer, I commend you. People, especially children, should never be exposed to this kind of treatment. I pray some kind of solution can be found soon.

Another thing I loved about this story was the emotional connection and depth between the characters. It is just beautiful and refreshing. With the main character being mute, things like emotions and thoughts have to be relayed through something other than words. The understanding between the characters is amazing! Landon and Gage can look at Summer and decipher her thoughts and feelings from just an expression, making the emotional connection and understanding between them astonishingly strong. The fact that a whole conversation could be held where one side basically used gestures and facial expressions and the other party could completely understand is simply brilliant, in my opinion. With articulation, who really knows a person this well? This deep level of understanding is hardly seen in books (or even in real life), and I really enjoyed it.

The characters themselves were fantastic. Summer, despite her past, is strong, and even through her moments of weakness, she is resilient. Throughout the book, I got to see her heal and learn to trust others, and I really found myself invested in her story. It was so easy to feel for her and connect to her. Gage is just…swoon. He is a soldier, strong and fierce, and he can deliver orders to subordinates with a cold, commanding voice. However, he becomes gentle and caring around Summer. I love how patient he was with her, and how he showed her it was okay to trust him and open up emotionally. He is romantic and kind, and I loved the chemistry between the two of them. Even the side characters were terrific, and I liked them all, especially Landon.  

Kreitzer has created a beautiful world and awesome characters in Phantom Universe, and I cannot wait to learn more about them and the Secret Clock Society. (I also am eager to learn more about Julian, who was introduced at the very end of the book. He seems like a very intriguing character! Who is that guy??) I was lucky enough to land an ARC of the second book, Forsaken Harbor, which I am currently getting ready to dive into. If you have not read this book yet, you should definitely give it a try. You will not be disappointed!
A Great Escape!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Grave Mercy Giveaway- A Continuation!

I have found another Grave Mercy Giveaway Contest! Enter for your chance to win a singed copy of the book from Ravenous Reader here! Good luck!!! 

(Click on the cover for link to Goodreads)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Cover Reveal: Want by Stephanie Lawton

The cover for Stephanie Lawton's book, Want, has been revealed!

Isn't it gorgeous?? The book is due out June 7, 2012 and it is published by Inkspell Publishing (this is their first YA publication, so congratulations!!). Here is the summary (taken from Goodreads):
Julianne counts the days until she can pack her bags and leave her old-money, tradition-bound Southern town where appearance is everything and secrecy is a way of life. A piano virtuoso, she dreams of attending a prestigious music school in Boston. Failure is not an option, so she enlists the help of New England Conservatory graduate Isaac Laroche to help her.

She can’t understand why he suddenly gave up Boston’s music scene to return to the South. He doesn’t know her life depends on escaping it. Julianne must face down madness from without, just as it threatens from within. Isaac must resist an inappropriate attraction, but an indiscretion at a Mardi Gras ball—the pinnacle event for Mobile’s elite—forces their present wants and needs to collide with sins of the past.
About Stephanie Lawton:

After collecting a couple English degrees in the Midwest, Stephanie Lawton suddenly awoke in the deepest reaches of the Deep South. Culture shock inspired her to write about Mobile, Alabama, her adopted city, and all the ways Southern culture, history and attitudes seduce the unsuspecting.

A lover of all things gothic, she can often be spotted photographing old cemeteries, historic buildings and, ironically, the beautiful beaches of the Gulf Coast. She also has a tendency to psychoanalyze people, which comes in handy when creating character profiles.

On her thirtieth birthday, she mourned (okay bawled) the fact that in no way could she still be considered a “young adult,” so she rebelled by picking up Twilight and promptly fell in love with Young Adult literature.

She has a love/hate relationship with Mardi Gras –where does all that money come from?–and can sneeze 18 times in a row.
Find out more about Want and Stephanie Lawton:

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