This Week and Contest Notice

Sorry, I'm probably going to be slow in updates and such this week because I'm super busy and sick! But I promise I'll post at least the review of Devil's Kiss this week, and start the contest on Saturday (my birthday). If you have any suggestions for book or swag contests later this month, please tell me them!

In the meantime, you should check out Bree Despain's blog. In case you haven't heard of her, she's the author of The Dark Divine which is due out this December. She's hosting an awesome contest that ends tonight at 11:59PM and is giving away books like The Prophecy of the Sisters, Forest Born, and more. Check here for more info and to enter.

And I finished both Posion Study and Magic Study already because they were so addicting. I loved them, and if you haven't checked out Maria V. Synder's books yet, you definitely should! (:

In My Mailbox - 3

In My Mailbox was started by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie.

Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda

Poison Study and Magic Study by Maria V. Synder
Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs by Molly Harper
Ransom My Heart by Meg Cabot

I'm so excited to read Devil's Kiss, and, yes, it's the UK cover. I think the US cover is a little better for the YA group, but it looks awesome nontheless. I'm also looking forward to reading the books by Maria V. Synder after all the hype about Sea Glass.

And I'm thinking which books should I order online? Pre-order or already released, I don't care; please give me suggestions! It's my birthday one week from today so I'll definitely be splurging on books. (:

Anyways, hope you guys have a great weekend and I look forward to seeing what books you got!

Contest Ideas

Hm, I was thinking about hosting my first contest soon, but I wasn't sure exactly which direction to take. I've listed two options below, so I hope you'll let me know which you prefer or if you like both of them:

1. First Book in a Series (i'll offer all of them, but the winner picks one)

Evermore by Alyson Noel
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
Marked by P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast
The Faerie Path by Frewin Jones

--Hm, I feel like people might have already read these books though, because they're not exactly new.

2. 2009 books (please tell me which one you like the most!)

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange
Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
Swoon by Nina Malkin

And if you don't like any of these options, feel free to give me suggestions. (:

Review: Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston

Publisher: HarperTeen (September 22, 2009)  Paperback: 352 pages
Price: $8.99 from Amazon
Summary: For seventeen-year-old actress Kelley Winslow, faeries are just something from childhood stories. Then she meets Sonny Flannery, whose steel-gray eyes mask an equally steely determination to protect her.
Sonny guards the Samhain Gate, which connects the mortal realm with the Faerie's enchanted, dangerous Otherworld. Usually kept shut by order of icy King Auberon, the Gate stands open but once a year.
This year, as the time approaches when the Samhain Gate will swing wide and nightmarish Fae will fight their way into an unsuspecting human world, something different is happening . . . something wondrous and strange. And Kelley's eyes are opening not just to the Faerie that surround her but to the heritage that awaits her.
Now Kelley must navigate deadly Faerie treachery—and her growing feelings for Sonny—in this dazzling page-turner filled with luminous romance.
Wondrous Strange is a richly layered tale of love between faerie and mortal, betrayal between kings and queens, and magic . . . between author and reader.


Review: Wondrous Strange is a great debut novel for Lesley, and I’m definitely seeing great things in the future! Admittedly it isn’t the best book or even one of the best I’ve read, but it set a very solid foundation for a sequel and was all-in-all an enjoyable read.

First off, I want to say that the author did a great job developing the world. I love how she took the idea of Midsummer Night’s Dream and incorporated it into the story while adding new things of her own, like the Janus guards (which are introduced at the beginning of the story, in case you’re worried about spoilers), Sirens, pixies, and more. The story behind the setting is also very interesting and everything ties together very well. I sort of had a sense of what was going to happen or going to be revealed next, but the twist near the end I definitely did not predict. It was one of those good twists though, where it ruins the predictability (fortunately!) and sets the stage for a sequel, though I almost expected it to be a happily-ever-after.

Sonny, the male protagonist, definitely had the vulnerable bad boy mix going for him, but I had a couple problems with his relationship with Kelley. Not only because I want him for myself, but because it took a while to start and their reactions seemed a little exaggerated sometimes. For the beginning, the mysterious desire Kelley feels for Sonny really mystified me, and I think his vulnerable quality was emphasized on a little too much. However, the way they meet is so sweet; it immediately made me fall in love with Sonny. And once their relationship got underway, it was very tender and cute.

The main problem I had with this book was probably that the plot was going well, and then all of a sudden the book ends. The climax is near the end of the book and I felt it got itself over with way to quickly; as in the villain is defeated too easily considering the preceding reputation. The ending still wrapped up nicely though, and it was easy to tell that there’s going to be a sequel. Another major problem was that, while Sonny and Kelley were devloped, I felt that we were barely given background information on the supporting characters.

Bottom Line: Wondrous Strange was a good book that left me wanting more. Modern day New York and the fae were depicted nicely, and I look forward to reading more about the Faerie world. The romance and action were good, but the book wrapped up a bit too fast; the excitement ended just as it was starting. The supporting cast could also have used some more development, mainly so readers can learn more about their motives, and I'll be looking for more of that in the next book in this series. However, it was a very solid debut novel, and I'll definitely be keeping my eyes out for the sequel, Darklight, which comes out December 22!

Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Publisher: Scholastic Press (August 1, 2009)
Harcover: 400 Pages
Price: $11.46 from Amazon
Summary: For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf--her wolf--is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.
Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human--or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.



Review: I don’t know what to say about this book except that I. LOVED. IT. I’ve seen both sides to the argument concerning Shiver, and I think it’s pretty much you love it or you don’t, there’s not much in between. That’s only my view of it, but I can definitely see why.

Reason to love and save forever on your shelf: the story is beautiful. There is that lonely, waiting wolf with the yellow eyes in the woods, then the yellow-eyed boy with the sad smile who’s been waiting six years for the girl. I thought the book was very romantic, and I loved how the author developed Sam and Grace’s relationship and she made me love Grace and Sam themselves too. The concept was great and the execution was perfect. Sam and Grace’s points of view were put together well, and their experiences were bittersweet. I actually ended up crying a little right before the the end, but the story was definitely worth it.

Reason to dislike: the questions I was left with. A minor complaint I have is that I still had a couple questions at the end, but the engaging story was enough to cover those for me. The biggest problem I had was that the cure seemed pretty obvious for me, and I didn’t see why Sam and/or Grace didn’t realize it earlier. I’m guessing it was to allow time for the relationship to develop, but it still annoyed me a little. Another issue I’ve seen is language, so I’m going to touch on that really quickly. I, personally, loved the author’s language. I thought was flowing and descriptive and was a nice touch to the already beautiful story. It very rarely appeared to be too flowery for me, but I’ve read that it detracts from some people’s reading experiences.

And as an extra note, I liked the ending! It was pretty open-ended and left me wondering what was going to happen in the future, but it still gave me a sense of closure and I put this book down with a smile on my face.

Bottom Line: Again, restatement: I. LOVED. SHIVER. With well-developed characters and such a bittersweet, romantic story, I couldn’t help but sit down and devour the book in one sitting. I would definitely recommend this book to those that are big fans the paranormal and “intense relationships” (ie. Twilight) since the book is basically all about Sam and Grace’s relationship. Shiver left me wanting more, and I’m definitely going to pre-order the sequel, Linger, before it comes out in Fall 2010! That is, if I can shiver my way through this winter...

In My Mailbox - 2

In My Mailbox was started by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie.

Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

The Real World is a frightening place. Just ask sixteen-year-old orphan Dru Anderson, a tough girl who has taken down her fair share of bad guys. She's armed, dangerous, and ready to kill first and ask questions later. So it's gonna take her a while to figure out who she can trust . . .  [more]

-- I'm really looking forward to reading this one! I love paranormals, and it sounds great. :)


 The Sweet Life of Stella Madison by Lara M. Zeises

When Stella Madison's food-loving parents help her land a summer job at the local newspaper, there’s only one catch: she’s expected to write about food. Luckily, Stella has Jeremy, the hot new intern at her mom’s restaurant, who’s more than happy to help. [more]

-- Signed copy! It looks cute, and I love food so I'm hoping I'll like it. And I won it from Realm Joy, so thank you!

Not a lot of books this week, but I'm hoping to buy more soon. :)

Review: Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle

Leland Sisters series #1
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (April 29, 2008)
Harcover: 352 pages
Price: $11.53 from Amazon
Summary: Twins Persephone and Penelope Leland are anticipating their first London season with mixed feelings. Pen can’t wait to flirt with handsome young men at parties, but Persy would far rather stay home and continue her magic studies. When the twins discover that their governess has been kidnapped as part of a dastardly plot to enchant the soon-to-be Queen, they’re determined to find and save them both. Along the way, Persy learns that a good lady’s maid is hard to find, that one should never cast a love spell on anyone after drinking too much brandy punch at a party, that pesky little brothers can sometimes come in handy, and that husband hunting isn’t such an odious task after all, if you can find the right quarry.


Review: I was this close to really liking Bewitching Season. It had a great premise filled with everything I love: magic, mystery, a historical setting, and romance! I'm actually amazed Marissa Doyle managed to fit all that in a book, and it was a fabulous debut novel!

The main thing that kept me from really enjoying this book was the fact that Persephone (Persey), the main character, has incredibly low self-esteem. I understand having low self-esteem, since I do too, but there is a certain level of confidence that's necessary. If I were a viscount's daughter, had a identical twin that I thought was beautiful, and had a load of money, I definitely wouldn't second-guess myself all the time, like Persey does. Basically, I enjoyed the story, but Persey's constant complaints sort of interrupted and detracted from it. A little more confidence would have helped the flow and made Persey seem more believable.

Plot-wise, the book was pretty good. The mystery was very obvious, even for a dense person like me, and I already knew who it was from almost the very beginning. However, it was still very interesting reading how the mystery unraveled and what Persey did to solve it. Like I mentioned before, I also liked the mix of elements and they flowed very well into each other. The magic part was incorporated well, and the romance was definitely there. Congrats, Marissa Doyle, on a wonderful debut!

Bottom Line: Bewitching Season was an engaging and new read that kept my attention throughout the book. The conversation was belivable and the plot was good, especially with the mix of magic, mystery, and historical romance. The main objections I have are Persey's low self-esteem and the obvious suspect, though it was still fun to see how and when Persey would figure it out. It was good enough that I'll definitely have to get my hands on Betraying Season, book two of the series. I can't wait to see what happens next!

Book Cover Trend

Magic Study by Maria V. Synder

The fact that more and more book covers are focusing on close ups of real people's faces or bust ups just smacked me on the face today. Maybe I just didn't notice it before, but I feel like a ton books that are coming out now feature faces or chest-up, like Soulstice, Candor, Blood Promise, and The Teardrop Collector to name a few.

Either way, new or old, I was wondering:
What do you think of books covers with close ups of faces/chest-up?

I think these type of covers are pretty freaking awesome and dramatic, so I say a definite "yes" to this trend, though I still love minimalistic covers like Shiver. It's all or nothing! :) 

Review: A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn

Publisher: HarperTeen (April 28, 2009)
Hardcover: 384 pages
Price: $11.55 from Amazon
Summary: Talia fell under a spell . . . . Jack broke the curse.
I was told to beware the accursed spindle, but it was so enchanting, so hypnotic. . . .
I was looking for a little adventure the day I ditched my tour group. But finding a comatose town, with a hot-looking chick asleep in it, was so not what I had in mind.
I awakened in the same place but in another time—to a stranger's soft kiss.
I couldn't help kissing her. Sometimes you just have to kiss someone. I didn't know this would happen.
Now I am in dire trouble because my father, the king, says I have brought ruin upon our country. I have no choice but to run away with this commoner!
Now I'm stuck with a bratty princess and a trunk full of her jewels. . . . The good news: My parents will freak!
Think you have dating issues? Try locking lips with a snoozing stunner who turns out to be 316 years old. Can a kiss transcend all—even time?


Review: A Kiss in Time was actually my first modern fairy retelling; I’ve read many fairytale retellings but none set in the current time so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The premise of the book was interesting, though not entirely original, and I thought the plot was fairly average, nothing too exciting or too dull. However, I had a really hard time first getting into this book because the princess, Talia, is such a bitch at the beginning. I shouldn’t be saying that, but I really couldn’t stand her. She’s incredibly spoiled and constantly whining, and that’s in addition to being amazingly dense. While I understand that the author is using Talia’s earlier personality to show development later in the story, her behavior really made me want to put the book down.

Fortunately, once you reach bottom you can only go up. After the first half of the book, I was able to get more into the story. Talia matures very quickly, too quickly to be realistic, but I liked her much better once she started showing that she had a brain and a heart. Jack, the other main character, seemed extremely superficial to me at the beginning, and, though I didn’t actually grow to like him, he was tolerable.

Like I said before, this was my first modern fairytale retelling, and I really liked how Sleeping Beauty was incorporated into today’s world. It seemed a little cheesy at times, but I thought that the carrying out of the idea was fairly good overall, main plot-wise. This book uses two perspectives, and I loved reading Talia’s centuries-old take on things.

Bottom Line: A Kiss in Time is a very light, quick read, and I liked it. That being said, it’s not a book I would be spending my money to buy because nothing really stood out to me; there isn’t anything amazingly good or horrifyingly bad. I did find the modern take on Sleeping Beauty very new and creative, and it was interesting how the author interpreted the events that occurred in the fairytale (and used them in today’s world). This book has definitely opened my eyes to modern fairytale retellings! Crazy Beautiful, anyone? :)

ABC Meme

Time for a little more about me! Mel (He Followed Me Home) tagged me with this fun meme:

Available or in a relationship? Available

Best Friend? Hard to say. This one always stirs up trouble for me, so I’ll stick to my old friend Perry in CT. It’s nice to have a best friend that doesn’t know your other friends. :)

Cake or Pie? Cake all the way. Pie is a little too sweet for me.

Drink of choice? Strawberry/banana smoothie.

Essential item for every day use? My iPod. Music makes me relax after a hard day.

Favorite color? Probably a shade of blue hinting toward black or gray.

Google? Are we talking about the number here? Because I frankly can’t remember how many zeros there are...

Hometown? Edison, NJ

Indulgences? Books and shiny electronics.

January or February? January.

Kids and their names? No kids yet.

Life is incomplete without…? My family and friends... and books, haha.

Marriage date? Not married yet.

Number of siblings? One.

Oranges or apples? Oranges. Apples are sort of boring...

Phobias and fears? Public restrooms, spiders, and death.

Quote for the day? Art doesn't transform. It just plain forms. –Roy Lichtenstein

Reason to smile? I have great friends that will always get my back.

Season? Fall. It’s not cold enough to freeze my hands off, and there’s little to no sun.

Unknown fact about me? When I was little, I used to sleep in a weird position so bugs wouldn’t get into my nose, mouth, ears, etc. And there’s still the toilet monster.

Vegetable you hate? Eggplants. They look weird and they taste funny. I mean what were they thinking with a purple plant?

Worst habit? Ugh, procrastinating and forgetting things.

X-rays you’ve had? None; I’ve never broken nor sprained anything.

Your fave food? Hamburgers. You should go to Charlie’s Steak House in FL; their hamburgers are the best!

Zodiac sign? Libra. Wish me a happy birthday on October 3. :)

And that’s it. I’m tagging:


I Want to Read That

Tales of Whimsy

If I tagged you or you just want to participate, here are the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you

2. Share your ABCs

3. Tag three people at the end by linking to their blogs

4. Let the three tagged people know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website

5. Do not tag the same person repeatedly but try to tag different people, so there is a big network of bloggers doing this tag

Review: Unwind by Neil Shusterman

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing (November 6, 2007) 
Paperback: 352 pages
Price: $8.99 from Amazon
Summary: Connor's parents want to be rid of him because he's a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev's unwinding has been planned since his birth, as part of his family's strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together by desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance. If they can survive until theireighteenth birthday, they can't be harmed -- but when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away.


Review: I don't know what to say about this book. Great setting, great characters, great relationships, so why didn't I like it more? I just couldn't get into the book and made myself keep reading through the force of my will. I think the main reason I felt disconnected from the book was because the story is told from three different perspectives that constantly, and I mean constantly, alternate. I felt that Shusterman switched a little to fast between Risa, Lev, and Connor and often found myself thinking, "Why can't they see something's wrong with the other person?!" I am a fan of alternating voices, but though I did gain more insight into their thoughts, it just didn't work for me.

On the plus side, Shusterman creates a very original world with realistic relationships and characters. I picked this book out for the unusual premise (since I love urban fantasy), and it certainly lived up to its expectations. I could also sympathize with each of the main characters as their backgrounds were quickly but efficiently developed, and each one represented a different reaction I would have to a situation. Shusterman definitely made keen insight in human nature and developement, especially considering this was a book centering on the minds of teens. The only small problem I had was a lack of romance; not the absence of it, but the romance was very little. I would think that normal teens would want to kiss a little more and be more aware of the other gender.

And what I always have to talk about: the ending. I felt that Unwind was predictable at parts, but the end was an enigma until I actually read it. Either that or I'm a very unperceptive reader, which is possible. I'm glad it wasn't those unrealistic happily-ever-after endings, and I think it summed things up nicely.

Bottom Line: Technically, Unwind is a very good book. It boasts a good premise, great setting, and relatable characters, but I just didn't feel it. And the fact that I couldn't stay engrossed in the book prevented me from giving it a higher rating. However, if you're looking for a solid read in a hypothetical world, Unwind is worth a couple of your hours. And who knows? Maybe you'll love butt-kicking, clever Risa like I did.

In My Mailbox - 1

I saw a lot of blogs participating in this meme and thought it seemed like a great way to share the books I have and will be reviewing later this week, so here it is! :)

In My Mailbox was started by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie.

Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston

For seventeen-year-old actress Kelley Winslow, faeries are just something from childhood stories. Then she meets Sonny Flannery, whose steel-gray eyes mask an equally steely determination to protect her... [more]

-- The cover looks beautiful, and I love reading about faeries. I'm hoping this one will be good!

Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle

In 1837 London, young daughters of viscounts pined for handsome, titled husbands, not careers. And certainly not careers in magic. At least, most of them didn’t. Shy, studious Persephone Leland would far rather devote herself to her secret magic studies than enter society and look for a suitable husband... [more]
-- This one immediately caught my eye, because I'm a huge fan of historical fiction, and the premise sounds like a very intriguing mix of magic, balls, and romance. Sounds like a great debut book.

 A Kiss in Time by Alex Flin

Talia fell under a spell . . . . Jack broke the curse.
I was told to beware the accursed spindle, but it was so enchanting, so hypnotic. . . .
I was looking for a little adventure the day I ditched my tour group. But finding a comatose town, with a hot-looking chick asleep in it, was so not what I had in mind.
I awakened in the same place but in another time—to a stranger's soft kiss. [more]


 Dark Visions by L. J. Smith

Kaitlyn Fairchild has always felt like an outsider in her small hometown. Her haunting eyes and prophetic drawings have earned her a reputation as a witch. But Kait's not a witch: She's a psychic. Tired of being shunned, Kait accepts an invitation to attend the Zetes Institute, where she can have a fresh start and study with other psychic teens... [more]

-- Loved The Night World series, and I'm sure this one will be just as good, if not better. I had to pick it up.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

-- I fell in love with Shiver's gorgeous cover and print (and the story sounded intense)! Maybe it's not good to judge a book by it's cover, but this one was simply to beautiful to leave in the book store by iteself.

I also have won a few contests, but I'm not going to get those books for a while. Anyways, I'm really looking forward to reading all of these books and look for the reviews soon!

Review: Intertwined by Gena Showalter

Publisher: Harlequin (September 1, 2009)
Harcover: 448 pages
Price: $10.87 from Amazon
Summary: Most sixteen-year-olds have friends. Aden Stone has four human souls living inside him:
One can time-travel.
One can raise the dead.
One can tell the future.
And one can possess another human.
With no other family and a life spent in and out of institutions, Aden and the souls have become friends. But now they're causing him all kinds of trouble. Like, he'll blink and suddenly he's a younger Aden, reliving the past. One wrong move, and he'll change the future. Or he'll walk past a total stranger and know how and when she's going to die.
He's so over it. All he wants is peace.
And then he meets a girl who quiets the voices. Well, as long as he's near her. Why? Mary Ann Gray is his total opposite. He's a loner; she has friends. He doesn't care what anyone thinks; she tries to make everyone happy. And while he attracts the paranormal, she repels it. For her sake, he should stay away. But it's too late....
Somehow, they share an inexplicable bond of friendship. A bond about to be tested by a werewolf shape-shifter who wants Mary Ann for his own, and a vampire princess Aden can't resist.
Two romances, both forbidden. Still, the four will enter a dark underworld of intrigue and danger but not everyone will come out alive....


Review: Intertwined was fast-paced, filled with forbidden romance, and had a never-ending path of mysteries that left you wanting to read more. And dark, mysterious Aden was a definite plus. However, my main objection was probably that it was a bit too fast-paced. I was sort of confused at the beginning and had to reread it a couple times to get where and how the souls talk and Aden talks back. After the initial introduction phase though, it was great!

The idea is very intersting; not one soul, but four all inside Aden's body. They usually don't all talk around the same time so it's pretty easy to follow the flow of conversation. Like the summary says, all of the spirits have powers and all of them are shown in this book. I thought it was interesting how Showalter incorporated them into the plot, and it definitely added a lot more action.

There are definitely a ton of mysteries in this book. A lot of them are solved, but many more remain. I never got bored, and I'm sitll wondering what will happen next. The ending was ranked fairly high on my scale for a cliff-hanger, but it leaves me with enough to be content until the next book. I also liked Mary Ann, the other main character in Intertwined. She's very calm and logical and knows how to deal with some major issues (such as her friend having four souls trapped inside him...). Showalter sometimes wrote what was happening to Aden and the rest of the time it was about Mary Ann, which I liked because it let me see things from different perspectives.

Bottom Line: Overall, an awesome book! I wish it could have gone a little bit slower and allowed a bit more time for development, but it was packed with mysteries and left me wanting to know what will happen next. It set a good foundation for the later books in the series to build upon. I'm hoping more mysteries will be unraveled in the next book, so I'll definitely be watching out for the sequel! (:

A big thank you to Book Reviews by Jess for the ARC!

Review: All We Know of Heaven by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Publisher: Harper Teen (April 29, 2008)
Hardcover: 320 pages
Price: $13.32 from Amazon
Summary: Bridget Flannery and Maureen O'Malley have been BFFs since forever. Then a brief moment of inattention on an icy road leaves one girl dead and the other in a coma, battered beyond recognition. Family and friends mourn one friend's loss and pray for the other's recovery. Then the doctors discover they have made a terrible mistake. The girl who lived is the one who everyone thought had died.

Review: All We Know of Heaven is from the list of 2009 Black-eyed Susan Book Award Nominees, and I can definitely see why it got on there! I picked it up because the premise sounded interesting, though I usually don’t read this type of “sad” books because I hate crying. However, surprisingly, I didn’t shed a tear.
The main reason I didn’t cry is probably because of the surviving girl’s romantic interest. He apparently shows his devotion through waiting at her bedside while she’s in a coma, which was admirable, but my feelings for him quickly changed as the story progressed. It was very hard to sympathize with him as he cheated and made out with other girls, though I understand it’s probably insanely difficult to deal with a situation similar to the one in the book. Basically, I just didn’t feel that Jacquelyn Mitchard was able to prove the guy’s supposed “love” for the girl.

The book is split into three parts and the relationship mainly comes into play in the second and third sections. So while I started getting bored towards the end of the book, I did like the author’s take in the first part, when the girl is in the coma. It took a little bit getting used to, but it was interesting to see the experience of being in a coma from Mitchard’s perspective. And I could definitely tell that some medical knowledge was needed, so appreciation for research in the field here.

The ending felt unreal. Yes, it was the happily-ever-after, but there wasn’t exactly a lot leading up to it. I still liked the author’s investigation of love, hope, loss, and determination; the ending just threw me off a bit.

Bottom Line: All We Know of Heaven is a good book that explores teen love, the struggle to overcome hardships, and how people deal with loss of loved ones and things they take for granted. Admittedly, I had some trouble connecting with the main girl’s love interest and their relationship seemed sort of unrealistic to me, but I definitely felt and rooted for the main girl. This book offers interesting insight into humans; it was the relationship that killed it for me.

Review: Blood Promise by Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy series #4
Publisher: Razorbill (August 25, 2009)
Hardcover: 512 pages
Price: $10.19 from Amazon
Summary: I'm not going to post the summary because I don't want to ruin the plot for those who haven't read it yet, but I'm sure many of you that are interested in reading Blood Promise already know what's going to happen. Read on for a spoiler-free review!


Review: I've read all of the books in the Vampire Academy series (so I might be a bit biased here), but I loved reading the past three and Blood Promise was no exception. I love the world Richelle Mead has created and felt that this book was a perfect mix of vampire action and romance.

I do think that the begininning started a bit slow. However, this will be good for new readers to the series that don't feel like reading the past three books. Rose goes through a lot of flashbacks, summarizes her recent experiences, and identifies key terms that someone new to the series might not know, allowing you to jump right in. As a veteran reader though, I could have used less of an introduction, but it did refresh me on what happened in Shadow Kiss. I can say that once the plot got going though, with all the Strigoi butt-kicking and some personal trauma, I really got into the book!

As for the characters, I love Rose, of course, who is one of my favorite strong heroines in the YA books I have read. Rose shows determination and strength while still managing to have a big-heart and vulnerability. She's bold where I'm not, she's courageous where I'm not, and she's basically a young woman with a great sense of confidence and personal identity that I only wish I could be. I definitely love her, and I would find it hard not to sympathize or empathize with her during her journey. The other characters are pretty much the same, engaging and unique, and I don't have much to comment on about them, especially since this book mainly focuses on Rose and her relationships with Lissa and Demetri. New characters are introduced though, one of the more note-worthy ones is probably her father!

Richelle Mead again ends with a super cliff-hanger ending. I felt this one was more bearable than Shadow Kiss's ending which, to me, was absolutely horrible because it was so open-ended and controversial. I wasn't entirely satisfied with Blood Promise's ending either, but that was probably because I've sort of converted to an Adrian fan. I started to like Adrian after he acted so gallantly at the end of Shadow Kiss, and more of his deep and sweet side is uncovered in Blood Promise. Not to say I don't love sexy, tall Demetri too (just not more), so please don't kill me!

Bottom Line: Blood Promise (and the Vampire Academy series in general) is definitely a read that I would reccomend. It has a great mix of action and romance and successfully explores the mind of an older teen, Rose, without making her seem too bratty or cliché. The characters are unique and relateable, and Rose's voice comes off the page. With complex relationships, manipulation, staking, romance, and hot vampires, Blood Promise is definitely not a book you'll want to miss! And you get a beautiful cover and thought-provoking title as part of the bargain. (:

2009 Black-Eyed Susan Book Award Nominees

The Black-Eyed Susan Book Award honors outstanding books chosen annually by Maryland students.

Today was the third day of school, but it feels like I've been going back for months already! And it's very chilly outside these mornings. Getting up so early and sleeping late is really fraying my nerves, though it's partially my fault. If only I liked sleeping earlier... but, alas, it is not so. However, that gives me more time to read, especially since I was able to borrow Blood Promise from my friend today! I can't wait to read it. (:

Anyways, I went to the school library the other day and saw the 2009 Black-Eyed Susan Book Award Nominees propped up neatly on the table. A couple of them, which I've checked out, caught my eye, so I decided to post the list in case any of you are interested. (This is the high school list, so these are all YA books.)

Does My Head Look Big in This?
Randa Abel-Fatteh

Sixteen-year-old Amal makes the decision to start wearing the hijab full- time and everyone has a reaction, from her parents and friends to strangers on the street. But she stands by her decision to embrace her Muslim faith and all that it is in this stunning debut novel.

Jennifer Bradbury

Some friends fade away....Others disappear.
Imagine you and your best friend head out West on a cross-country bike trek.
Imagine that the two of you get into a fight -- and stop riding together.
Imagine you reach Seattle, go back home, start college.
Imagine you think your former best friend does too.
Imagine he doesn't.
Imagine your world shifting....

November Blues
Sharon Draper

When November Nelson loses her boyfriend, Josh, to a pledge stunt gone horribly wrong, she thinks her life can't possibly get any worse. But Josh left something behind that will change November's life forever, and now she's faced with the biggest decision she could ever imagine. How in the world will she tell her mom? And how will Josh's parents take the news? She's never needed a friend more.
Jericho Prescott lost his best friend when he lost his cousin, Josh, and the pain is almost more than he can bear. His world becomes divided into "before" and "after" Josh's death. He finds the only way he can escape the emptiness he feels is to quit doing the things that made him happy when his cousin was alive, such as playing his beloved trumpet, and take up football, where he hopes the physical pain will suppress the emotional. But will hiding behind shoulder pads really help? And will his gridiron obsession prevent him from being there for his cousin's girlfriend when she needs him most?

The Last Exit to Normal
Michael Harmon
It’s true: After 17-year-old Ben’s father announces he’s gay and the family splits apart, Ben does everything he can to tick him off: skip school, smoke pot, skateboard nonstop, get arrested. But he never thinks he’ll end up yanked out of his city life and plunked down into a small Montana town with his dad and Edward, The Boyfriend. As if it’s not painful enough living in a hick town with spiked hair, a skateboard habit, and two dads, he soon realizes something’s not quite right with Billy, the boy next door. He’s hiding a secret about his family, and Ben is determined to uncover it and set things right. In an authentic, unaffected, and mordantly funny voice, Michael Harmon tells the wrenching story of an uprooted and uncomfortable teenaged guy trying to fix the lives around him–while figuring out his own.

Yellow Flag
Robert Lipsyte
In any race, there are drivers and, at the front of the pack, there are racers. In the final laps, it's the racer who moves his car through the sweet spot, picks off the competition, and drives through a hole to win.
In Kyle's family, his older brother, Kris, has always been the racer, born and bred to it, like his father and grandfather and great-grandfather before him. And that's just fine with Kyle; he's got other things to do. Now Kris is out of commission, injured, and Kyle has no choice but to drive. Does he want to drive just long enough to keep Kris's seat warm, or does he want to race—and win?

Wicked Lovely
Melissa Marr
Unbeknownst to mortals, a power struggle is unfolding in a world of shadows and danger. After centuries of stability, the balance among the Faery Courts has altered, and Irial, ruler of the Dark Court, is battling to hold his rebellious and newly vulnerable fey together. If he fails, bloodshed and brutality will follow. Seventeen-year-old Leslie knows nothing of faeries or their intrigues. When she is attracted to an eerily beautiful tattoo of eyes and wings, all she knows is that she has to have it, convinced it is a tangible symbol of changes she desperately craves for her own life. The tattoo does bring changes--not the kind Leslie has dreamed of, but sinister, compelling changes that are more than symbolic. Those changes will bind Leslie and Irial together, drawing Leslie deeper and deeper into the faery world, unable to resist its allures, and helpless to withstand its perils. . . .

Streams of Babel
Carol Plum-Ucci
Six teens face a bioterrorist attack on American soil as four are infected with a mysterious disease affecting their small New Jersey neighborhood and two others, both brilliant computer hackers, assist the United States Intelligence Coalition in tracking the perpetrators.

Neal Shutterman

Connor's parents want to be rid of him because he's a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev's unwinding has been planned since his birth as part of his family's strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together through desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing all the while that their lives are hanging in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthdays, they can't be harmed. But when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away...

Notes from the Midnight Driver
Jordan Sonnenblick
16-year-old Alex decides to get even. His parents are separated, his father is dating his former third-grade teacher, and being 16 isn't easy, especially when it comes to girls. Instead of revenge though, Alex ends up in trouble with the law and is ordered to do community service at a senior center where he is assigned to Solomon Lewis, a "difficult" senior with a lot of gusto, advice for Alex, and a puzzling (yet colorful) Yiddish vocabulary. Eventually, the pair learn to deal with their past and each other in ways that are humorous, entertaining, and life changing.

All We Know of Heaven
Jacquelyn Mitchard
Bridget Flannery and Maureen O'Malley have been BFFs since forever. Then a brief moment of inattention on an icy road leaves one girl dead and the other in a coma, battered beyond recognition. Family and friends mourn one friend's loss and pray for the other's recovery. Then the doctors discover they have made a terrible mistake. The girl who lived is the one who everyone thought had died.

The books that interested me the most were All We Know of Heaven and Unwind, both of which I have borrowed from the library. I've already finished All We Know of Heaven, and I'll review that soon when I have time. I can vy that it is good though, as is Wicked Lovely, but I'm sure most of us have read that already (with the exception of me, who skipped right on to Ink Exchange). Happy reading!