Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Review: Dreamless by Josephine Angelini


Book Description via Goodreads:

ARC, 502 pages
June 1, 2012, Pan Macmillan Australia

Can true love be forgotten?

As the only Scion who can descend into the Underworld, Helen Hamilton has been given a nearly impossible task. By night she wanders through Hades, trying to stop the endless cycle of revenge that has cursed her family. By day she struggles to overcome the fatigue that is rapidly eroding her sanity. Without Lucas by her side, Helen is not sure she has the strength to go on.

Just as Helen is pushed to her breaking point, a mysterious new Scion comes to her rescue. Funny and brave, Orion shields her from the dangers of the Underworld. But time is running out—a ruthless foe plots against them, and the Furies’ cry for blood is growing louder.

As the ancient Greek world collides with the mortal one, Helen’s sheltered life on Nantucket descends into chaos. But the hardest task of all will be forgetting Lucas Delos.

Josephine Angelini’s compelling saga becomes ever more intricate and spellbinding as an unforgettable love triangle emerges and the eternal cycle of revenge intensifies. Eagerly awaited, this sequel to the internationally bestselling STARCROSSED delivers a gritty, action-packed love story that exceeds expectation.

Source: Charlotte & Pan Macmillan AU (Thank you!!)

Warning: Might be a bit spoilery for people who haven’t read Starcrossed yet.

My Thoughts:

First of all, Starcrossed left me curious, a little heartbroken and wanting more. I got what I wanted in the sequel but not in the way that I expected. There were lots of changes in Dreamless. First of all, Lucas and Helen were driven apart by fate, their friends and family, and Helen’s obligation. The growing distance affected them. I saw how they suffered but I like that the ‘suffering’ wasn’t eating away the plot like in other novels.

Helen was this generation’s Descender, the only person who could visit the underworld physically. With the additional pressure of reuniting Hector, her friend and cousin, with the Deloses and the daily push that her friends gave her, Helen was driven beyond her limits. She was exhausted and frustrated but she kept moving forward.

Helen’s nocturnal visits to the Underworld to get rid of the Furies became the most exciting part of the novel for me. Despite how it was filled with terrifying and abandoned landscapes, I enjoyed reading about it. It had an eerie kind of beauty that awed and freaked me out at the same time. It was filled with so many surprises, both pleasant and unpleasant, that came in the form of monsters and gods.

Just when Lucas was keeping his distance, Helen met Orion in the Underworld. He was a gorgeous Adonis with good intentions. But unlike other gorgeous guys, he didn’t abuse his good looks and his charm. He was also a dedicated friend and partner in crime. But Orion has a dark side and vulnerable side. Like all Scions, he was a victim of the cycle of revenge. My heart broke for him when I found out about his lifestory. I have to admit that I’m Team Orion now.

Jason and Claire had a budding but complicated relationship. Jason became overprotective of Claire, always fuming and ranting about how Helen was selfish and how Helen had no concept of how Claire could get hurt really bad (track scene and flying scene.) I get his point but he kept doing this to the point that it was excessive. I felt bad for Helen. She was slaving away in the Underworld, trying to accomplish the impossible for Scions who may or may not care about her depending on their temper, like Jason. I hated him. Helen’s father was a full mortal. Of course, she knew how fragile humans were.

I felt that the writing could still be improved. I enjoyed the simple manner of the narration but since the plot was suspense, romantic and action-packed, I think that it would have been better to amp up the narration’s complexity so it could go hand in hand with the same height as the plot.

Dreamless is a captivating adventure that goes beyond earth, conquers the depths of the mysterious and surprise-filled Underworld and lures readers with its romance, action, chaos and unpredictability.

Rating:




Saturday, May 26, 2012

Stacking the Shelves



Stacking the Shelves is all about sharing books that you’re adding to your ‘TBR,’ hosted by Tynga from Tynga’s Reviews.

Current Giveaways:

ParanormalPrize Pack (ebook) (INT)

Reviews:

MonstrousBeauty by Elizabeth Fama (YA paranormal romance)
Fated by Alyson Noel (YA paranormal)


For Review:

Elemental by Emily White (ARC)
Fated by Alyson Noel (ARC)
Fated by Alyson Noel (Duplicate) – I am giving away this ARC.
Mystery at Riddle Gully by Jen Banyard (ARC)
Dreamless by Josephine Angelini (ARC) – read and loved! Review to come.

Yesterday, I got this parcel from Ireland…I was only expecting Eighteen Kisses but the awesome Patricia included 2 surprise ARCs for me! <3

Eighteen Kisses by Laura Jane Cassidy
Jenny Q, Stitched UP by Paulin McLynn (ARC)
Ghost Detectives: The Lost Bride by Emily Mason (ARC)

Gifted:

Drowning Instinct by Ilsa Bick (signed Hardcover)


For Review (ebooks):

Grasping at Eternity by Karen Amanda Hooper (This is out NOW. Karen’s writing rocks!)
Glitch by Heather Anastasiu (soooo excited for this)
Suffocate by SR Johannes
 
Big thanks to: Kate & Spencer Hill Press, Beatrice & Pan Macmillan UK, Claire & Fremantle Press, Charlotte & Pan Macmillan AU, Patricia & Puffin Ireland, Karen, Netgalley & St Martins and Ilsa!!

What about you? What did you get this week? Leave your link in the comments section so I can visit you too. :)



Friday, May 25, 2012

Review: The Prince Who Fell from the Sky by John Claude Bemis


Book Description via Goodreads:

ARC, 261 pages
May 22, 2012, Random House

In Casseomae's world, the wolves rule the Forest, and the Forest is everywhere. The animals tell stories of the Skinless Ones, whose cities and roads once covered the earth, but the Skinless disappeared long ago.

Casseomae is content to live alone, apart from the other bears in her tribe, until one of the ancients' sky vehicles crashes to the ground, and from it emerges a Skinless One, a child. Rather than turn him over to the wolves, Casseomae chooses to protect this human cub, to find someplace safe for him to live. But where among the animals will a human child be safe? And is Casseomae threatening the safety of the Forest and all its tribes by protecting him?

Middle-grade fans of postapocalyptic fiction are in for a treat with this fanciful and engaging animal story by the author of the Clockwork Dark trilogy.

Source: Lauren & Random House (Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

Humans were erased from the surface of the planet. According to the wolves, their ancestors killed the humans but according to the wise rats, they died from a lethal disease. The animals referred to them as the ‘Skinless Ones’ or the ‘Old Devils.’ They were relieved to have the Skinless Ones gone. Their absence meant that no one would hunt and kill them anymore. With the humans gone, the Ogeema, along with his wolves, dominated the forest.

The point of views came from animals. The animals in this novel talked in Vorago – their common tongue – and the boy who stumbled upon in their world was the one who wasn’t understood. Their only clue to figuring out what the boy was feeling was through observing his gestures, expressions and the tone of his voice. It was all reversed. I got a chance to see life through a different lens.

After the deaths of all her cubs, Casseomae was still stung by the pain and the loss. When she spotted the human boy coming out of the strange ship from the sky, she did not see a Skinless One but she saw a weak, harmless, fragile cub. She decided to protect him and keep him away from all the animals. I really loved seeing her forge a close relationship with a boy who didn’t speak Vorago, care and protection became her language in relating to him.

The animals in the forest were divided into groups: the hunters, the hunted and the Faithful. The Faithful consisted of dogs and other animals who served the Skinless Ones. They were loathed and hunted down mercilessly. For this reason, Pang was the only survivor of his pack. I liked Pang! He remained faithful to the humans and was hopeful that they would come back someday to reclaim the forest and end his being hunted. I’ve never imagined that dogs would suffer because of their faithfulness to humans. It broke my heart a little when I found out what happened to Pang.

I was amazed to see their intelligence and instincts at work. It was like watching National Geographic minus the narrator’s voice, plus the voices of the animals, whispering and hissing about their doubts, worries and suspicions. Together, Cass, Dumpster and Pang went on a dangerous and difficult journey, passed through unknown territory and fought off the Ogeema’s wolves to keep the boy safe. As they traveled, the boy learned from them, picking up little bits of how to survive in the forest. I just wished that there was more focus on him – the prince.

The Prince Who Fell from the Sky is a fun, imaginative and fresh take on the post-apocalyptic future. Bursting with adventure, urgency, suspense and danger, this kept me at the edge of my seat. Bemis opened my eyes to an entirely different perspective. I highly recommend this to MG readers, post-apocalyptic and dystopian readers and YA readers (something light for you)!

Rating:




Wednesday, May 23, 2012

YA Unscene + Giveaway: Slated by Teri Terry


YA Unscene is a meme at Fragments of Life that features unseen or deleted scenes of novels, followed by a short interview and a giveaway.


Last week, I featured Taste by Kate Evangelista (giveaway still on-going.) This week, I’m featuring an exciting YA dystopian from Orchard Books.. Without further ado, here’s the deleted scene from Slated by Teri Terry!
I absolutely loved your debut! Where did you get your inspiration to write Slated?

Oh thanks so much. Slated actually started with a dream: a girl running, terrified, on a beach. As is often the case with dreams, I somehow felt I knew what was behind it. I started writing that day as soon as I woke up, and out of my early morning scribblings came the whole concept of Slating. So where it came from is hard to say: somewhere in the murky depths of my unconscious, I suppose! I always write from character, so I didn’t sit down and decide I wanted to write a tale set in the future, or that I wanted to deal with what makes us who we are, the balance of rights and freedoms in society, or when it is right to fight the system. That is just sort of what came out as I wrote.

Where did you get the concept of Levos?

I was free writing – which basically means I had a starting point, my character and situation, and just wrote as fast as I could by hand everything that tumbled into my mind. And there it was, on the page.
Though I’m sure there are a few influences here. One is the electronic tagging system used to keep criminals under control by keeping tabs on where they go, to make sure they don’t infringe rules of their probation or release. Also I know someone who is insulin dependent diabetic, and they have to check their blood sugar levels all the time. I think that is part of the origin of the idea also. Finally, I’m a little obsessed with the nature-nurture debate: ie. are bad people born, or made? If someone is bad through and through, wiping their memories wouldn’t make them change, would it? So you’d need a way to check on them.

Why was this portion deleted? Does the rose symbolize something in Slated?

This particular scene went to keep the pace up in the opening chapters.
The rose doesn’t have any particular significance to the story – it is more just to emphasize that she is experiencing the world and everything in it as if for the very first time. Putting myself in that position: I’d want to touch, smell and feel everything.

I loved how all of the characters in Slated revealed their true selves as the story progressed. Who is your favorite character? Why?

It was a very conscious decision with my characters to give them light and shade. Bad people sometimes do good things; good people sometimes get it wrong. I didn’t want all the adults to be evil like is sometimes the case in YA dystopian tales. And sometimes my characters surprised me as well.

As far as my favourite character goes, that would have to be Kyla. She is strong, but doesn’t know it. She learns from her mistakes, and carries on. In the secondary characters I’d say her mum: she is so multi-layered.

What can readers expect from Book 2?

In Fractured Kyla must make a stand: what does she believe in? There is a seriously badass boy in it to make things confusing; the action heats up, and the stakes are high.

What’s next for Teri Terry?

I’ve just finished writing Fractured: there will be some editing coming up. And after that, book 3! I haven’t started it yet and am itching to dive in.
In my dreams, there will be a movie deal of course!
Beyond Slated – I’m intrigued with ghost stories, so that may be next.

Giveaway: Finished Copy of Slated by Teri Terry

Thanks to Orchard Books, one of you can win Slated!

Kyla’s memory has been erased,
her personality wiped blank,
her memories lost forever.

She’s been Slated.

The government claims she was a terrorist, and that they are giving her a second chance - as long as she plays by their rules. But echoes of the past whisper in Kyla’s mind. Someone is lying to her, and nothing is as it seems. Who can she trust in her search for the truth?

Rules:

Be a follower.
Open internationally.
Must be at least 13 years old!
Ends on June 8, 2012.


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Review: Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Left (old cover - ARC version), Right (New cover)

Book Description via Goodreads:

ARC, 295 pages
September 4, 2012, Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers

Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.

Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.

Source: Netgalley (ebook) + Ksenia & FSG Books for Young Readers (print ARC) (Thank you!!)

My Thoughts:

Monstrous Beauty was two stories twisted together, blending into the ultimate paranormal mystery. The story was told in two parts: (1) the past - the 1870s when Syrenka and Ezra crossed paths and (2) the present when Hester, the last of a line of cursed women, lived and dealt with her genetic defect.

Syrenka was a gorgeous, deadly and passionate mermaid. When she found Ezra, she was careful and a bit distant with him at first, not wanting to endanger him and lose him. But as they spent more and more time together, the attraction the two felt got stronger. It was so strong that you could feel it coming off in waves. She left her world behind to join Ezra on land. But her stay on land was far from easy. I enjoyed reading about Syrenka and Ezra. They were so inlove and passionate.

I love Fama’s twist on the usual mermaid mythology. Instead of tails with scales, her mermaids had scutes. They had sharp wrist fins and wide eyes with horizontal pupils in the middle. Their magic was one of the most practical and most terrifying types, similar to the principles of alchemy. The underwater world of Monstrous Beauty was filled with wonder, loss and danger – one that I enjoyed exploring.

Hester was convinced that love and marriage would only bring her suffering and loss. Her mother, her grandmother and every woman in her family died after giving birth. She had decided to remain single for the rest of her life, evading certain death. But everything changed when she met Ezra, a mysterious, old-fashioned and intellectual guy who can banter with her, annoys her and attracts her at the same time. She didn’t expect to get close to Ezra, as well as to try to solve her family’s curse with his help. I really like how she fell for Ezra, no matter how much she tried to harden her heart. But she didn’t fall for him right away. At first, she was cautious and suspicious of him. But she felt a strong, unexplainable pull toward him.

Monstrous Beauty went beyond my expectations. The mysterious, almost sinister vibe of the novel was so strong that it wrapped around me and held me captive. As Hester tried to fill the blanks with clues and answers, she discovered that her town was not as simple as it was. In fact, it was filled with hidden mystery, intrigue, scandals and magic. Everything about the past and the present was connected. I couldn’t stop reading as Hester unearthed the covered-up and almost forgotten truth of her family.

Monstrous Beauty had the mysterious, magical, intriguing and surprising elements of Beautiful Creatures. Unputdownable, dark, tragic, fierce, sensual and spellbinding, Monstrous Beauty will appeal to older readers of paranormal, romance, fantasy and historical. I highly recommend this!

Rating:






Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Enchanted Blog Tour: Deleted Scene Video + Interview

Hi everyone, as part of Enchanted Blog Tour, I’m going to be posting a deleted scene from Alethea Kontis’ latest novel, Enchanted, and I’m going to be interviewing her afterwards.




Why was this scene deleted?

In the original draft of Enchanted, each chapter told from Sunday's point of view started out with an excerpt from her journal. I was introducing a whole new world with a cast of thousands, and it was important to me that the reader got to know everyone. Most of these entries were cut, however, because they slowed down the pace of the book and didn't directly affect the book's main motivation (to get Sunday and Rumbold together).

Why did you write this particular scene?

The towerhouse is one of the silent characters of this book. Before writing any scenes that took place here, I needed to sketch out a basic diagram of the place and decide who slept where--especially in the tower. Which of the sisters likes the tower? Which might not and why? In this scene Saturday imagines that a girl might have lived in this strange tower with no door Once Upon a Time...and, of course, we all know she's right.

Enchanted is a mix of everything. How did you manage to piece together different fairytales into one story? How did you start?

The idea for Enchanted began as a contest challenge in my writers group (Codex Writers). Our stories had to be inspired by at least one of four "seeds": "Fundevogel (The Foundling)," "The Princess and the Pea," the Irish legend of Cú Chulainn, and the nursery rhyme "There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe." I couldn't choose between them, so I chose them all...as well as all every other fairy tale and nursery rhyme that was suggested during the brainstorming session.

But the more I wrote and the more research I did into fairy tales, the more I saw themes and objects occur over and over in different tales. They just fit naturally together seamlessly in my mind as one Giant Story.

Out of all the characters in Enchanted, can you tell me which character were you most attached to? Why?

Wow. So hard to say. Right now the character I'm most attached to isn't even in Enchanted--she's in a short story called "The Unicorn Hunter" (from last year's Demons anthology) and will make a brief appearance in the sequel to Enchanted. I could tell you about her, but it's more fun if you read it for yourself. The publisher has graciously put the story online for free: http://www.scribd.com/doc/70431258/The-Unicorn-Hunter

Lastly, what is your favorite fairytale? Why? Is there a chance you'll do a retelling of it?

My favorite fairy tale has always been "The Goose Girl." For me, this fairy tale had the best story arc. I loved the clever king, and Conrad. I plan on using this one (along with a bit of "Rapunzel" and "The Seven Swans" and "East of the Sun, West of the Moon") in the third book in the series, which will be Friday's tale.

I also have an outline for a fantasy novel solely based on a "Goose Girl" retelling, but now that I'm going to write the storyline in Friday's book, I don't know if I can reuse it. Of course, that didn't stop Robin McKinley from writing Rose Daughter...so who knows?

About Enchanted:

It isn't easy being the rather overlooked and unhappy youngest sibling to sisters named for the other six days of the week. Sunday’s only comfort is writing stories, although what she writes has a terrible tendency to come true.

When Sunday meets an enchanted frog who asks about her stories, the two become friends. Soon that friendship deepens into something magical. One night Sunday kisses her frog goodbye and leaves, not realizing that her love has transformed him back into Rumbold, the crown prince of Arilland—and a man Sunday’s family despises.

The prince returns to his castle, intent on making Sunday fall in love with him as the man he is, not the frog he was. But Sunday is not so easy to woo. How can she feel such a strange, strong attraction for this prince she barely knows? And what twisted secrets lie hidden in his past - and hers?

If you haven’t read it yet, let me convince you with a fragment from my review:

Enchanted is an intriguing, bizarre and addicting tale of magic, love and secrets. Familiar and unpredictable at the same time, Enchanted is sprinkled with dark secrets and twists and turns that will surprise readers. I highly recommended this to fairytale and fantasy readers!



Monday, May 21, 2012

Review: Fated by Alyson Noel + Giveaway


Book Description via Goodreads:

ARC, 440 pages
May 24, 2012, Macmillan Children's Books (UK)
June 1, 2012, Pan Macmillan Australia

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Immortals comes a breathtaking new saga brimming with magic, mystery, and an intoxicating love story that will steal your heart away. Meet The Soul Seekers.

Strange things are happening to Daire Santos. Crows mock her, glowing people stalk her, time stops without warning, and a beautiful boy with unearthly blue eyes haunts all her dreams. Fearing for her daughter’s sanity, Daire’s mother sends her to live with the grandmother she’s never met. A woman who recognizes the visions for what they truly are—the call to her destiny as a Soul Seeker—one who can navigate the worlds between the living and dead.

There on the dusty plains of Enchantment, New Mexico, Daire sets out to harness her mystical powers. But it’s when she meets Dace, the boy from her dreams, that her whole world is shaken to its core. Now Daire is forced to discover if Dace is the one guy she's meant to be with...or if he’s allied with the enemy she's destined to destroy.

Source: Beatrice & Pan Macmillan, Pan Macmillan Australia (I got an extra copy so I’m giving it away to one lucky reader.)

My Thoughts:

The uniqueness of Fated left a sweet taste in my mouth. The drastic change from the bright and worldly Hollywood gigs to the nature-bound Enchantment to the Otherworlds wrapped me in a magical haze. I enjoyed traveling with Daire to the Upperworld and the Lowerworld and its various surprise-riddled dimensions, filled with spirit animals and denizens.

Daire was the kind of girl who moved around and didn’t get attached. She had no permanent address, no home and no family aside from her mom, Jennika. Although she was stubborn and sometimes annoying and maybe a little disrespectful, I found her realistic. She was flawed, went with the waves of her emotions and daydreamed just like a real teen. Noel knows how to make me feel the panic, the confusion, the anger, the helplessness and eventually, the acceptance that Daire felt.

Daire’s dreams were filled with two brothers: one good and one evil. But the line between her dreams and her reality blurred when she came face to face with the brothers. Cade, the evil twin, was the popular guy at school. He was the charismatic and attractive one but deep inside, he was far from nice. His twin, Dace, has a big, pure heart. As the good twin, he was the opposite of Cade. He wasn’t popular and he didn’t have fans but he was compassionate and honest. He was the kind of guy that would be a joy to know and discover. However, in Fated, I didn’t get to know him that much. I have to admit that his character was not well-developed and I really wanted him to be one. I’m hoping in the next book, I’ll get to know more about him.

The story was focused on Daire’s becoming and being a Seeker. But I was expecting romance to play a big part in the plot because of the frequency of the dreams including Dace. But the romance didn’t meet my expectations. I felt that it was rushed and a getting-to-know-each-other-while-emotional-and-sexual-tension-flare phase was skipped. But then I did like the scenes between Dace and Daire. They were mostly awkward (because of Daire) and sweet (because of Dace), sometimes hot and burning. I just wanted more.

After reading Fated, I felt that I went on an exhausting but incredible journey. I liked how Daire transformed from being that distant girl to a brave and caring Seeker. She became in touch with nature and opened up to her skills, magic and destiny. I love how she got close to and learned to trust and love Paloma, her grandmother.

Fated is will delight readers with its unique magic-filled storyworld, crackling with power and danger. This is definitely a step up from The Immortals Series. I recommend this to people who didn’t enjoy The Immortals Series – you might just like this one and to paranormal readers.

Rating:


Giveaway: ARC of Fated by Alyson Noel

Rules:

Be a follower of Fragments of Life.
Open internationally.
You must be at least 13 years old.

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

May 21st is Suffocate's Book Birthday + Giveaway!


Hi everyone! It's the release date of Suffocate by S.R. Johannes! And you can win an ebook of Suffocate today.

Suffocate is the first novelette in THE BREATHLESS series. It is a 15,000 word young adult thriller that combines the dystopic and science fiction genres.

About Suffocate:
 

For centuries, the world outside the Biome has been unlivable. Today, marks the first time anyone will attempt to leave the suffocating ecosphere. Eria is not worried because her scientist father has successfully tested the new Bio-Suit many times. It's a celebratory day until something goes horribly wrong. In the midst of tragedy, Eria uncovers a deep conspiracy that affects the very air she breathes. 

If those responsible find out what she knows, they won't stop hunting her until she takes her last breath.

The 2nd novella in the series, CHOKE, is scheduled for Fall 2012. The 3rd, EXHALE, is scheduled for Winter 2013.

About the Author:
 
S.R. Johannes is author of the Amazon Bestseller Untraceable and a current nominee of the Georgia Author of the Year in the Young Adult category. After earning an MBA and working in corporate america, S.R. Johannes traded in her expensive suits, high heels, and corporate lingo for a family, flip-flops, and her love of writing. She lives in Atlanta Georgia with her goldendoodle Charley (notice he is listed first :), her British-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess, which she hopes- someday- will change the world.  You can find her hanging out online and visit her at srjohannes.com
Follow S.R.: Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads

Thanks to this lovely author, I have one ebook of Suffocate to giveaway.

Open internationally!
You have to be at least 13 years old.


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