Releases and Recommendations

Happy Tuesday!

Releasing on Tuesday, March 6, 2012 (ONLY A WEEK AWAY!) is Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver. I am so excited!

I’m pushing aside
the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana
and my old school,
push,
push,
push,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.

I thoroughly enjoyed Delirium. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves Young Adult Dystopian Romance. I have been anticipating this sequel since the jaw-dropping cliffhanger of the last book. I’ve heard great things and I’m really excited to get my paws on this book!

Releases and Recommendations

It’s Tuesday! I’m especially excited today because two books I’ve been waiting  in what seems like forever are being released TODAY!

A Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison

Kim Harrison is one of my all time favorite Urban Fantasy authors. She creates amazingly original characters with a complex dynamic between them and the world they live in. I would recommend starting from the beginning if you are interested since this is book 10 of the Hollows series. So worth it, people!

Ritually murdered corpses are appearing across Cincinnati, terrifying amalgams of human and other. Pulled in to help investigate by the I.S. and the FIB, former witch turned day-walking demon Rachel Morgan soon realizes a horrifying truth: a human hate group is trying to create its own demons to destroy all Inderlanders, and to do so, it needs her blood.

She’s faced vampires, witches, werewolves, demons, and more, but humanity itself might be her toughest challenge yet.

Ever since I finished Pale Demon,  I have been anticipating this book. I need more Rachel Morgan in my life!! This book is released Today, Feb. 21, 2012.

 

Fever by Lauren Stefano

Fever is the second book  in the Chemical Garden series. Wither, the first, was a very haunting, dystopian novel. I can’t wait to see what happens to Rhine and Gabriel after their daring escape!

 Rhine and Gabriel may have escaped the beautiful prison of Wither’s mansion, but they are far from escaping danger. First they’re chased for stealing a getaway boat, and then the fleeing pair ends up in the eerie den of Madame, an old woman who collects girls and sells them to the highest bidders. Worst of all, Vaughn, Rhine’s sinister father-in-law, seems to be on her trail every step of the way. Rhine remains determined to get to her brother in Manhattan—but the road they are on is long and perilous.

Now that Rhine has finally regained her freedom, what lengths will she need to go to in order to keep it?

This sounds so exciting! I love how strong Rhine is despite her desperate situation; I hope that continues in this book! It is being released Today, Feb. 21, 2012.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

The best things come in small packages. If I Stay by Gayle Forman comes in at a whopping 196 pages. I read it in one day, but I was not prepared for the huge impact it would have on me.

If I Stay is the story of Mia, a classical cellist with a cool family and a rock star boyfriend. She is plagued by the decision to go to New York City for Julliard or stay in her hometown and go to the same college as her boyfriend. When a catastrophic event changes her world as she knows it, she must decide – in more ways than one — if she should stay.

I was absolutely blown away. I completely underestimated this novel. I picked it up at the library as an afterthought thinking I would get to it if I could, man am I glad that I did. Mia is such a strong, wonderful character. She comes off as shy and quiet but in reality underneath it all she’s an independent firecracker. I LOVE that about her. One of the many reasons a guitar-playing bad boy would fall in love with a serious classical music-playing cellist.

This novel was so beautifully written. I love the way music and love is tied together in the imagery. There was this sensual moment that Adam wants Mia to “play” him like a cello, and he, in turn, plays her like a guitar. It was a very intimate analogy done in good taste. I could practically see the classical/rock montage as they both played each other in those quiet, passionate moments. It was so unique; it took my breath away.

Initially, I thought this story was all about choosing whether or not she should choose her love of music over her boyfriend. I could completely relate. When I was in high school, I had to choose between my boyfriend at the time and going away to college on the other side of the country. As you can see, I chose college and that boy and I didn’t work out. So reading her struggle with the decision, the omissions and little lies to protect each other’s hearts, and the awkwardness were totally in tune with the reality of the situation. I was so enveloped in the story; it totally hit home for me, but this story is so much more than that.

There was a brief moment when I was perturbed that she wasn’t more upset about the gravity of the situation but later I could see how the shock of losing everything could make her feel numb and unable to accept what was happening.

I really, really liked this book. It is a tear-jerker but the good kind. I had to pick myself off the floor after reading it so I wouldn’t fall into a sense of mourning, but it was so unbelievably touching. It was written so well, it seemed effortless yet there were so many layers and complexities in the telling of the story. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who needs to escape and come out refreshed with a renewed appreciation for the importance of love, no matter how much it hurts.

The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe

The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe had such an awesome premise, but for me it turned into the way we fall asleep.

This book is written like a journal following 16-year-old Kaelyn as an epidemic sweeps through the small, off-coast island she calls home. She must protect herself, her family, and her town from the dangers of the government quarantine and the contagious disease. Her journal is addressed to Leo, a friend who is safe on the mainland. As she documents the acceleration of the disease, Kaelyn takes it upon herself to save as many as she can.

At first, I was intrigued. The disease was unidentifiable and had curious symptoms, starting as an itchy hand with a scratchy throat and turning its victims into gossiping chatterboxes. It all starts with Kaelyn apologizing through her journal to Leo, a boy she’s secretly in love with who she hasn’t spoken to since she moved back home from a temporary stay on the mainland for her dad’s job. Throughout the first few pages I was thinking we better meet this Leo. Disappointment number one. We never end up meeting Leo. This may seem like a spoiler, which it kind of is, but it makes no difference to the entire novel because Leo as a character is just an excuse the author used to get Kaelyn writing.

Megan Crewe created really real characters with interesting personalities and dynamic personal issues but the surrounding plot didn’t drive the characters to grow or build or do anything really. I thought this novel would be an adventure; instead it turned into a lock-in of mundane disease-ridden neighbor sightings and  an underwhelming sense of fear. Disappointment number two. Who on earth wants to read about boring day to day things? It was even worse because it was through journal entries. We don’t get to see anything going on in anyone else’s head. We only hear what Kaelyn writes but we don’t really get to hear her inner-monologue either.

The only good part was when she met Gav, her love interest. They strike up a relationship and it was interesting but not intriguing enough for me to fall in love with the characters. I guess that was the most disappointing thing, I didn’t care about the characters. People are dying; and I. don’t. care.  Crewe missed the mark. She needed to make us fall in love with Kaelyn’s world in order for us to get into the world she created, and I could care less. I almost put it down numerous times but I felt like I had to finish it. It made reading, work. I hate that. I want to see pictures, and the moment all I see is words, I know I’m not into the book.

Overall, this novel was disappointing. The characters were well thought out but poorly executed. I’m still a little angry we never met Leo and quite honestly if there is a second book, there is no way I’d read it to meet him. I just don’t care.

Lover Revealed by J.R. Ward and Lover Unbound by J.R. Ward

I thought it was only going to get better, and it sure did. Lover Revealed by J.R. Ward, the fourth book in the series, is the story of Butch, the human ex-cop who’s been taken in by the brotherhood despite rules against humans knowing about vampires. He’s unfortunately fallen for Marissa, a vampire aristocrat with perfect beauty. When Butch gets hurt, will Marissa save him when no one else can?

I was pleasantly surprised by Butch’s story. At first, I was annoyed. I didn’t want to read his story. I wanted to hear about the brotherhood, and Butch as a character in the first novel really rubbed me the wrong way. I didn’t like him. However, in this novel, he redeemed himself. As a character, his rough edges were smoothed out and we got to see the truth of his past. It was nice to see why he is the way he is.

I loved how the relationship between Marissa and Butch bloomed. It was very natural and sexy. And with Marissa being a virgin, it wasn’t cliché. It was believable and not overdone. The sensitive side of Butch came out and Marissa found her inner strength. It was nice to see her come into her own away from her overprotective brother. I really enjoyed their story. However, there were some moments between Butch and his buddy Vishous that were questionably passionate. I’m not sure I liked it. It didn’t fit well with the story but it sure added tension. It was exciting to see how Butch was more permanently integrated into the Vampire world. I love how things build up for the better of the series as a whole. Each time I read Ward, I look forward to the continuation of the secondary character’s stories in between the main character of each installment, like John Matthew. I LOVE LOVE LOVE John Matthew. I look forward to reading his point of view every time. I can’t wait to hear his full story.

The fifth book, Lover Unbound by J.R. Ward was interesting to say the least. I was so excited to finally hear Vishous’s story, especially since he was all depressed from his lack of visions and watching everyone else find mates. In this book, Vishous gets extremely hurt in a fight with the lessers and ends up in a human hospital. A human surgeon, Jane, saves him from dying through emergency heart surgery potentially exposing what Vishous is to the world at large. The brotherhood must take extreme steps to cover their tracks, including — to Vishous’s insistence — kidnapping Jane.

I have to be completely honest; there are a lot of things I did not like about this book. I always liked Vishous as a character and was anticipating hearing his story but the only thing really enjoyable for me was John Matthew’s continuing story in the background.

I didn’t enjoy Vishous’s story because it got too freaky. As a brotherhood reader, we know Vishous is the freaky, S & M, enjoys pain kind of lover. I just couldn’t handle it. It distracted me from the story. I also didn’t like how Ward “fixed” the situation in the end so that the two lovers could end up together. In every novel so far, something miraculous has happened to ensure True Love wins. However, I thought Jane’s end situation was unrealistic and distasteful. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but who would want to end up like that???

I did, however, like Jane as a character. I liked her a lot more than some of the other lead women in the series. I even liked seeing the softer side of Vishous through some of the twists Ward presents us with, particularly with the Scribe Virgin. There are a lot of twists in this book. It all seems to be leading somewhere. I enjoy the foreshadowing of things to come, especially with characters like Manny, the human surgeon who was originally interested in Jane before Vishous stole her away. I can’t wait to see what happens next and that’s what keeps me coming back for more. Also, there was an absence of Lessers in this book, which was refreshing. There are lessers around and there are interactions, but there aren’t the boring, interrupting chapters of lesser inner dialogue. I never liked being inside the mind of a lesser.

I really like J.R. Ward’s writing style. She does an amazing job of flipping from the adult things to the more juvenile dialogue. I would almost like to see Ward write a Young Adult novel. I love to hear John Matthew’s perspective, not just because I love John Matthew, but because she really understands and portrays what young people go through. It really shows Ward’s miraculous talent. I thoroughly enjoy this series.

If you like the series, of course you should keep reading. If you haven’t started, you really should.

Releases and Recommendations

I love Tuesdays! Why? Because books are released on Tuesdays!

Every Tuesday I’ll be featuring a release or a recommendation or sometimes both. The releases are books I’m looking forward to reading, so much so I have their release date written in my calendar so I remember to go to the bookstore and buy it that day. The Recommendations are books  I recommend that I haven’t necessarily reviewed or ever will write a review for because I read them so long ago; yet they are books that really influenced me and I cherish deeply.

First, HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

In celebration of the Holiday of heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, grocery store bought roses, and expensive but useless cards, I am kicking off my weekly Releases and Recommendations with an emphasis on finding love and devouring chocolate.

RECOMMENDATION

Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause is one of my all time favorite books. I read it way back in the middle school days and it was the gateway book to all that I love and read today. It was the very first werewolf book I ever read.  Here is the synopsis.

 Vivian Gandillon relishes the change, the sweet, fierce ache that carries her from girl to wolf. At sixteen, she is beautiful and strong, and all the young wolves are on her tail. But Vivian still grieves for her dead father; her pack remains leaderless and in disarray, and she feels lost in the suburbs of Maryland. She longs for a normal life. But what is normal for a werewolf?

Then Vivian falls in love with a human, a meat-boy. Aiden is kind and gentle, a welcome relief from the squabbling pack. He’s fascinated by magic, and Vivian longs to reveal herself to him. Surely he would understand her and delight in the wonder of her dual nature, not fear her as an ordinary human would.

Vivian’s divided loyalties are strained further when a brutal murder threatens to expose the pack. Moving between two worlds, she does not seem to belong in either. What is she really–human or beast? Which tastes sweeter–blood or chocolate?

I can remember with great clarity the impact this book had on me. It opened up all sorts of doors with that first taste of the paranormal realm. Because of this book, I will most likely name one of my children Aiden. I have loved that name ever since reading this story. This book was exciting and dare I say, delicious? There is somewhat of a juicy, love triangle full of tension and the characters come alive through all the action. I highly recommend it.

However, do NOT under any circumstances see the dreadful excuse for a movie they put out a few years ago. It was horrible. Of course I went to see it, and I about cried. It was a disaster; it had a very loosely tied manuscript and fake looking “special effects”. It wasn’t even the same story, if they would have stuck with the book it could have been a huge hit like Twilight.

RELEASE

One of my favorite things to do on a Monday night is to sit in front of the television and watch The Bachelor. I’m addicted. I’ve watched it for years picking my favorites and sharing with the rest of the world a strong dislike for the girl/guy everyone loves to hate.

So, when I heard The Selection by Kiera Cass was a bachelor-esque dating competition for a prince. I was sold!

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself- and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

I have great expectations for this book! It will be released Tuesday, April  24, 2012. Can’t wait!

The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay

I love urban fantasy. I am a huge fan of Kim Harrison, Karen Chance, and Patricia Briggs among many others. One of the best things about urban fantasy is that they just keep on coming. I love to get attached to characters and anticipate a new book year after year. There is nothing better than a kick ass heroine in her otherworldly environment. This is why I was drawn to The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay; I was intrigued through good reviews I’d read and, of course, it was urban fantasy.

In The Better Part of Darkness, Charlie Madigan is a divorced cop with a daughter. Her story takes place in Atlanta which has become the epicenter of “alien”/human relations. There is a deadly otherworldly drug on the street killing people and Charlie and her trusted, specially-skilled partner Hank must do whatever it takes to figure out where it came from and stop it in its tracks. The drug hits home for Charlie and she must fight to keep her family safe.

Charlie as a heroine didn’t do it for me. She was strong, witty, emotional when she needed to be and kick ass, but I didn’t like her.  I’m not exactly sure why. I think initially I couldn’t relate to her being a mother of a teenage daughter. As a young woman in her twenties, kids are the LAST thing on my mind and the idea of procreating kind of makes me want to squirm. So it’s safe to say I wanted to gag when the inner mother dialogue came into play. I can usually get into a character no matter the age or stage in life but for some reason Charlie just really irked me.

Regardless, the novel took off at a very nice pace. There was a juicy and passionate encounter between Charlie and her recent ex-husband but it was heartbreakingly short. In fact, I was about to put the book down for good but that short scene was the saving grace to me finishing the book. It was neat to see Atlanta through Charlie’s eyes since I used to live near there so I could totally imagine what it looked like when she mentioned the underground. It all fit very well.

I absolutely loved her partner Hank. As the only possibility for saving this series, Hank is a siren with the special skill of persuasion through power in his voice and did I mention he is extremely caring and sexy. I LOVED him. There was a wee bit of sexual tension between Charlie and Hank so it could lead to good things. I thought Gay did a good job being creative when crafting her world. Hank was one of her better ideas.

However, I didn’t find the emotions and dialogue to be very convincing. At one point Charlie’s daughter is kidnapped and Charlie needs to find her but she sort of cries and mopes around for awhile. I wanted to yell “GO GET HER!!” Eventually, she does but it was extremely frustrating.  Also, there’s a part where a very crucial, important character dies and she reacts in the most bizarre way. She just goes with the new changes. Shouldn’t she be sad or something? It made no sense to me. It was all very odd.

All in all, I didn’t really like this book but it wasn’t altogether horrible either. I would argue it needs a lot of growth and tweaking in the writing. The plot was there and there are a lot of very intriguing characters to build upon, so there is potential. If I ever get a chance to pick up the next installment, I may see if it gets any better, but I’m not counting on it. There are so many other better urban fantasies out there.