Anew by Chelsea Fine

Release Date: December 7, 2011
Publisher: Acadia Publishing
Format: Paperback (also available in eBook format)
Age Group: Young Adult (14+)
Pages:
385
ISBN:
1935089498
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary (taken from Goodreads.com):
Two years ago, Scarlet awoke in the forest alone, afraid, and unable to remember anything. Lost and confused, her life was a mystery…until she met a boy with a familiar voice.
Gabriel Archer has a voice from her past, and Scarlet’s determined to remember why. She immerses herself in his life only to discover he has a brother he’s kept hidden from her: Tristan Archer.
Upon meeting Tristan, Scarlet’s world becomes even more muddled. While she’s instinctively drawn to Gabriel, she’s impossibly drawn to Tristan–and confused out of her mind. As she tries to piece together her history Scarlet realizes her past…might just be the death of her.
Review:
Oh man, I enjoyed this book. I was engrossed the whole time, and each chapter just seemed to get better and better. The writing is phenomenal, the story is original, and Fine’s storytelling is topnotch. And I cannot forget about the cliffhanger! At first, I thought that my e-book was incomplete, but when I found out that was the end, I was partially stupefied and partially enraged. Why of all places did she have to end the book THERE?? I believe Conan sums it up best:
Oh, no, she didn’t!
As far as cliffhangers are concerned (and depending on how you feel about them), this book has one of the best/worst cliffhangers I have come across in a while. It definitely has me eagerly waiting for the next book! If you are not a fan, I would advise you to wait to read Anew until the sequel is released.
While the story itself is amazing, the best part about this book is the characters. The reader cannot help but connect to Scarlet. She has many qualities that I really appreciate in female characters: courage, strength, and the ability to throw some awesome comebacks in a pretty boy’s face. I felt her confusion as she attempts to piece together her past and learn who she is, and I felt her emotional turmoil as she struggled with her growing affection for two brothers. One of the brothers, Gabriel, is an all-around nice guy burdened with a curse that will forever haunt him. His love for Scarlet runs deep and true, and he really cherishes her. Tristan, on the other hand, is the bad boy in their little family. He is dark and mysterious, and even though he hides his true self behind a rough exterior and a mouth that constantly spews insults, he also really cares for Scarlet. (The guy is willing to die to save her from dying again!) He is a tortured soul, never able to have the one thing he wants the most, and my heart goes out to him. (In fact, he reminds me a lot of Will from The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare.) I am definitely rooting for him in this love triangle! I do like Gabriel, but I will always cheer on the dark, tortured man. I guess I am one of the reasons the saying “nice guys finish last” remains true, but I seriously cannot help it!
I have to commend Fine for her well-written and well-developed love triangle. Very few love triangles are well done. In fact, most are downright torturous. I still think even good love triangles are emotionally grating and frustrating (usually because the guy I like never ‘wins’ and they are chocked full of drama), but at least the men’s proverbial ego wars are absent. I already mentioned this in my review for Clockwork Prince, but I seriously hate it when men fight over a girl through insulting one another, battles of physical prowess, and other creative ways of trying to claim the girl as their own. I think in this case, these ‘contests’ would have been even worse than usual ones since it is a love triangle that involves brothers (I hate when siblings fight). I like the fact that Fine does not include these unnerving elements in her love triangle. It makes the love triangle more bearable (for me, anyway), and it really improves the story instead of hindering it (*coughWingscough*).
Overall, Anew is a WONDERFUL book, and you should definitely check it out if you haven’t already. I am eagerly anticipating the next book in the series, Awry, which will be released sometime in 2012 (the exact date has yet to be specified). I cannot wait to see what happens after the cliffhanger! The only thing I ask is for, Ms. Fine, is no cliffhanger in the next book! Please! Do not make me summon Conan again (his service fees are ridiculous). 

Clockwork Prince (Infernal Devices, #2) by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare


Release Date: December 6, 2011
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Age Group: Young Adult (14+)
Pages: 502
Format: Hardcover (also available in eBook format)
ISBN: 1416975888
Buy the Book: Amazon

Summary (taken from Goodreads.com):


In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.
With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will; the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.
Review:


I just have to start out by saying that I am completely enamored with Cassandra Clare. The Shadowhunters and the world she created around them just draw me in and leave me wanting more. She is a gifted storyteller and I devour every word. I honestly do not think she could ever disappoint me! (As long as no male characters are killed off, that is. I might be a little enraged then.)


In Clockwork Prince, we are transported back to Victorian England, a time when carriages were the main form of transportation and candles (or witchlights) were the only ways to see in the dark. I love Clare’s use of history and her knowledge of Victorian England. Her descriptions make the reader feel like they are in London themselves, getting a personal tour of Westminster Abbey’s Poets’ Corner with Jem himself. It is so real! Victorian England is not just captured in Clare’s descriptions of London and facets of life, but also in the characters themselves. Tessa’s actions and ways of thinking are those of a true Victorian era woman. There are instances where she speaks out and others when she is too forward, and she is always dwelling on the improperness of it. It is even in the minor details of the story, such as how is it scandalous for a woman to ride in the carriage with a man when they are not married or how Shadowhunter gear is too inappropriate for a woman since it shows feminine curves. The details are breathtaking and spot-on, and coupled with Clare’s amazing prose and dialogue, the story itself becomes so much more beautiful.

Of course, the main focal point of the story is the dynamic relationship between Will, Jem, and Tessa. The three of them are just pure…magic. I do not know how Clare created these brilliant characters, but I am so glad she did. Jem really shines in this book. He is finally able to step out from Will’s shadow, and as I understood more about him, it is impossible not to fall in love him. He is sweet and charming, and it is obvious he cares deeply for both Tessa and Will. In Clockwork Angel, he was always Will’s support and the nice guy that Tessa could always run to for advice or help. But in Clockwork Prince, we get to see more of who Jem really is. He gets angry with Will, embarrassed with Tessa, and there are moments when he says what he really feels. We get to know him in a much deeper way, and my heart went out to him. Tessa, in my opinion, is the perfect female heroine. She is brave, intelligent, and all in all, a strong soul. I love how much she loves books and her frequent use of literary quotes. She is a true kindred spirit, and it is so easy to relate to her. The turbulent emotions and conflicting love she holds for Jem and Will breaks my heart, just as it does hers. And I cannot forget Will! Will’s past and his curse are finally revealed and I got to understand what makes Will….well, Will. The façade he puts on for others finally begins to crack, and the real Will can be seen. His emotions are so raw and intense, and I could not help but feel for him. And of course, Will is not without his sharp tongue and repertoire of retorts!

Now about Tessa and choosing Will or Jem… I am so conflicted! I seriously love them both. Will is a troubled soul who really deserves happiness after all the sadness and pain he has been forced to endure. And Jem is a great guy who also deserves love with the limited time he has left. They are both amazing, and I love them both for different reasons! I can never choose between the two of them! I SERIOUSLY HATE LOVE TRAINGLES. This booked just helped reinforce my hatred. How can I decide, much less Tessa? However, this love triangle is well written and developed, which I think makes it a little more bearable. So many triangles today have the two men facing off in a battle of physical prowess, immediately hating and constantly insulting one another, and any other possible way of claiming the girl as their own. This is blissfully absent in Clockwork Prince, so while I hate the love triangle itself, I love how the relationship between Jem and Will remains intact and just as strong as ever. I, personally, think Tessa should just become Mormon and take them both, but I am not too sure how keen she would be to the idea. But I honestly see no downside to it! She would have two wonderful, gorgeous, funny, caring, [insert any other adjective here] men at her side! Better yet, she should find a way to just give them to me. I will keep a close eye on them. Yes, I will watch them very closely, so have no fear. I have always wanted an English man (but I guess in this case, I get two!).

Why, ‘ello, govna.

But in all seriousness, I am so conflicted. I want to pull for them both and they both deserve to be happy with Tessa, but only one will be the ‘winner.’ I hate the idea that one of them will be hurt and brokenhearted. ><

Something else I really appreciated about this book was how the relationships between characters besides Tessa, Will, and Jem developed. These developments may be a little overshadowed by the main love triangle, but they were amazing all the same. I have a new respect and liking for Henry and I think the blossoming relationship between him and Charlotte is adorable! One of the new characters, Sophie, is a great addition to the story, and her relationship with Gideon is super sweet. The growing affection they have for one another really warms the heart and I will be rooting for them! J And do not even get me started with Magnus. I really thought it was impossible for me to like him more than I already do, but I have been proven wrong. I am glad he ditched Camille and was able to find Alec!!

The story itself has plot twists galore, and with a little action thrown in now and then, it is a rollercoaster ride that makes this book physically impossible to put down. The dialogue is ridiculously witty and I cannot help but laugh out loud sometimes. Clare also is a master at writing dirty, sexy scenes, as is evident with the dirty sexy balcony scene (which was hot)! Clare really is in a league of her own. I cannot even put into words how excited I am to read the conclusion of the series, Clockwork Princess, due out September 2012. Cassandra Clare, with her flare for writing, has created an amazing series and I will eagerly be awaiting the end of it! Go Team Will and Team Jem!!

Shades of Blood by Samantha Young

Release Date: December 12, 2011 (PB), December 5, 2011 (eBook)
Publisher:
CreateSpace (PB), Smashwords (eBook)
Age Group: Older Young Adult (16+)
Pages: 342
Format:
Paperback (also available in eBook format)
ISBN: 1468009575
Buy the Book:
Amazon
Summary (taken from Goodreads.com):
Eden’s life has taken a turn she would never have imagined. She’s gone from soul eater to warrior, left behind a family she was ashamed of and moved in with one she admires. She has a purpose, a future, and… she has Noah.
Life should be good.
But… the most fervent and powerful soul eaters are determined to take down the Ankh and Eden is the key to the destruction of the warrior race. Moreover, a shadowed enemy is still after Eden, and the mortal Warriors of Neith have chosen the worst time imaginable to start an uprising.
With an enemy in every corner, the problems before her are overwhelming. Then again, Eden hasn’t come this far to let anyone snatch her new life from her…
However, just when Eden thought she’d battled the monster within and won, the warrior who took something precious from her comes back into her life, tempting Eden to take a course of revenge there is no turning back from.
Vengeance is such a bitch…
… So is Eden when the stakes are high.
A YA Paranormal Romance recommended for ages 16 and up.
Review:

I am pretty conflicted right now. One side of me is like, YES! This series was AWESOME, this book was AWESOME, and Samantha Young is AWESOME. And then there is the five year old in me: What? What do you mean it is over? I want moreeee. [sigh] I am never really going to grow up, am I?

Eden has more problems now than ever before. Just when she thinks everything is going smoothly, someone just has to come and ruin it all. Cosmina is breathing down her neck, a small rebellion is rising in the Neith that would like to see Eden dead, and Romany has come back which drives a wedge between Noah and Eden and reminds Eden how much she would like to see Romany dead. Eden also discovers a few things about herself as an Ankh warrior that she is not sure how to deal with. All she wants is to catch a breather and spend some quality time with Noah. Will she ever have peace?

So as I have already mentioned, this book was amazing, and it was the perfect conclusion to the series. I honestly think it is the best book in the series. It is packed with action and raw emotions that just left me wanting more afterwards. The action scenes were intense and the flashbacks to moments between Eden and her brother, Stellan, tugged at my heart. Also, I did not think it was possible, but the chemistry between Noah and Eden got even more intense and the reader can definitely feel the depth of their love for one another. They face some hardships and some enemies from the past, but through these obstacles, they become closer than ever before. Noah and Eden have officially become one of my favorite book couples! >< Overall, this series was AMAZING and WICKEDLY AWESOME and I would definitely recommend it to anyone. 🙂


Be quiet, inner child! Go and read some other Samantha Young book!

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally


Release Date: December 1, 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Age Group: Older Young Adult (16+)
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback (also available in eBook format)
ISBN: 1402262272
Buy the Book: Amazon

Summary (taken from Goodreads.com):

What girl doesn’t want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn’t just surrounded by hot guys, though – she leads them as the captain and quarterback on her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys, and that’s just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university. But now there’s a new guy in town who threatens her starring position on the team… and has her suddenly wishing to be seen as more than just a teammate.



Review:


Even after finishing this book hours ago, I still have a big, goofy grin on my face. I cannot stop smiling!! (I really think I started to scare my Japanese co-workers. They were probably thinking, Oh, God, the foreigner is laughing to herself. Why, out of the hundreds of thousands of people in America, did we get stuck with the crazy one?) But seriously, I cannot help it! This book was all kinds of ADORABLE and CUTE!


I fell in love with Jordan! She is a six foot tall tomboy who eats, sleeps, and breaths football and is considered to be ‘one of the guys.’ But deep down, under all that tomboyish-ness, she is still an angsty and confused teenage girl. When the arrival of a sexy Texan has her finally looking at a guy, not as a teammate, but as a romantic interest, she has no idea what to do! She has never had a boyfriend, never kissed a guy, and certainly does not know how to date one. She feels the confusion that all girls feel when they have a crush, and she just wants to find a girlfriend to ask about the scary, unknown people called teenage guys. She is adorable and my heart went out to her!

The chemistry in this book was PURE AWESOMENESS. It was awesome in so many different ways! The love chemistry left me swooning and thinking about taking up football myself and finding a good man, and it was soooo cute.  But there was not just chemistry between Jordan and her boy toy; there was chemistry between Jordan’s family and her football team. The guys on her team were like her big brothers, overprotective and ready to pound anyone if they so much as looked at her funny. And Jordan constantly argues with her father about whether or not a girl should play football, and when they start to understand one another and really reconnect, it tugs at the heartstrings. Everything was so believable and I felt what Jordan felt, whether it was anger, heartbreak, or love.  

Catching Jordan is not just an adorable and emotional love story. It is the story of a tomboy who falls in love for the first time, learns how to overcome obstacles and gender barriers, and never gives up on her dreams. I recommend it to anyone, regardless of whether or not you like football! I am sure you will enjoy it and have a huge smile on your face when you finish! J

Legend (Legend, #1) by Marie Lu

Legend (Legend, #1) by Marie Lu

Release Date: November 29, 2011

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

Age Group: Young Adult (14+)

Pages: 305

Format: Hardcover (also available in eBook)

ISBN: 039925675X

Buy the Book: Amazon

Summary (taken from Goodreads.com):

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

Review:

OH. MY. GOD. WOWWWWW. Just WOWWWW. I am not too sure where to start (since all I want to do is gush and fangirl), so let’s begin with a side story that may or may not be relevant in hopes of calming me down and keeping me focused enough to finish this review.

This book has a super-fast pace and there was always some kind of action sequence or plot twist happening that made it impossible for me to stop reading! I started reading this book in the morning, which proved to be a bad decision. During lunch break at the Japanese school I teach at, I ended up reading this book since I could not put it down. My eyes were glued to my computer screen as I read the climax of the story, but with all my attention focused on my computer and the book, it made it kind of hard to shovel rice into my mouth with chopsticks. My Japanese coworkers kept looking over at me like I was dumbest person they’ve ever seen (and also probably wondering why they hired a crazy foreigner as an English teacher) since I ended up spilling more rice on myself than I ate. Some people might be able to multitask like that, but it is obvious to me after today that I most certainly can’t [depressing sigh]. But anyway, on to the actual book review now.

May I just mention how much I love Day and June? Talk about a power couple. In fact, I loved all the characters. They were all well-developed and it was easy to emotionally connect to them. Day, the one boy the government would love to get their hands on, is the perfect male protagonist. He just wants to help save his little brother, Eden, from the Plague, and if it means becoming the dystopian version of Robin Hood? He is all for it. And then there is June, the military prodigy who is super smart and observant and is not afraid to kick someone’s butt if the situation calls for it. She is alone in the world following the death of her brother, yet she still remains resolute and strong, which I find admirable. She stands up to authority and never shies from a challenge. Together, they are awesome and they have some great chemistry. I really liked the growth of their relationship. Nothing about it felt rushed or faked, and there were no cheesy moments, which I really liked. Then there are the side characters, like Tess, Thomas, and Kaede. Even Lu’s side characters are memorable, and they each have a unique personality and overlaying goal in the book, something that I feel is very rare nowadays. It was nice and refreshing and much appreciated.

Something else I really liked was the alternating point of view between Day and June. While alternating POVs do not always work out well (such as in Crossed), Lu does an excellent job keeping June and Day’s voices separate and it made it that much easier to connect to them. Also, by constantly switching the view points, it was as though there was never a dull moment since something was always happening to one of them, so I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. It was pure awesomeness.

I hope in the next book we get a little more of an idea as to what happened to the world (are all countries besides America “extinct”?) and why the United States are not so united anymore. Please do not tell me he had something to do with it.

Sorry, Bush. (But in all actuality, this sounds like one of my Japanese students. ><I LOVE THEM.)

This book was on the shorter side- only ~300 pages- and with being packed full of plot and action, it was hard to go into detail about the society and government structure. The reader gets the gist of the new structure: The Republic is the new, controlling government and The Electro Primo is the leader of it, basically a dysfunctional and twisted representation of the President of the United States. The Patriots are the ones fighting The Republic and then there are the vigilantes who refuse to join The Patriots yet oppose The Republic, such as Day. It is simple enough to understand, but I hope Lu delves a little further into why the world is the way it is and what happened to make it that way in the next book.

Overall, this book was an amazing read I would recommend to anyone. (2011 has made me such a fan of dystopian literature!) The second book in the series does not have a release date nor a title yet, but hopefully there will be some info soon. However, on her blog (click here to check it out), Lu said that she has already finished writing the second book, so hopefully the editing and printing process will not take too long! I am anxious to see what happens to Day and June!

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Release Date: November 15, 2011

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Age Group: Older Young Adult (16+)

Pages: 346

Format: Hardcover (also available in eBook)

ISBN: 0062085484

Buy the Book: Amazon or Barnes and Noble

 

 

 

 

Review:

OK, I am sorry, but I need to just say that Adam is…… WOWWWWWWWWWWWWW.

I am going to warn you now, this review could just end up being a total ode to Adam and full of a fangirl’s ranting. (OHMYGODHEISSODEADSEXYIDONOTKNOWWHATTODOWITHMYSELF.) Alright, I got some of it out. I am going to try and stop there. Try being the key word.

I really liked Juliette. I think what I liked most about her was how mentally strong she was. If I had been stuck in a small cell for over 264 days, I think I would be doing a little more than counting the cracks in the ceiling and walls. I would probably be slamming my head into the walls to make some more cracks (and then be able to count some more!). Seriously, with everything she has been through and all the tough times she faced, I am surprised she has not gone insane. I really liked her for that. One of the other characters I feel in love with was Kenji. HE IS SO FUNNY! I cannot wait to see more of him in the second book. In the span of a few pages, I almost instantly fell in love with him (but I had already given my heart to Adam). And then there was little James. I would love to make him my teddy bear. He is soooo adorable.

I really liked all the characters (save Warner and his confusing obsession with Juliette- why IS he so obsessed?)! Especially Adam. Ahhhh….. Adam. There is something about a hardcore soldier who can be a softie at times (especially with his little brother) that is just so…..hot. I loved how he would get emotional with Juliette and then turn into a super soldier around Kenji, where every other word out of his mouth was a curse word and he would die to protect those he loves. It’s pretty sexy. ><

Mafi’s writing style is very unique. She is very descriptive and constantly uses metaphors, which some people really did not like. I did not mind it that much. In fact, I really liked it! It was very new and refreshing and sometimes the details and descriptions she gave were gorgeous. Granted, there were a few times where I had to pause and be like, wait, what….? Sometimes her writing was TOO GOOD and TOO BEAUTIFUL and I lost a bit of the story and focused more on her prose. But honestly, I would rather be distracted from a story due to good writing and delving into the meaning of it all instead of being totally uninterested in it. Who wouldn’t? And trust me, I got plenty distracted enough by daydreaming of Adam. So, needless to say, I did not mind her writing style at all!

Some people also did not care for the ending. I did not mind it, and I am excited to see where it all leads! I would have liked to have a little more information about the politics and social structure of the world. It was laid out briefly, but I would like to know a little more, especially how The Reestablishment came to power. But that could all be explained in the next book!

As a brief side note, I have to say that 2011 has made me a fan of dystopian literature. Between Divergent, Shatter Me, and Delirium, it is almost impossible NOT to be a fan.

The second novel, which is not yet titled, is due out in 2012. More Adam? I am so there.

Blood Will Tell (Warriors of Ankh, #1) by Samantha Young

Blood Will Tell by Samantha Young

Release Date: July 1, 2011

Publisher: CreateSpace

Age group: Older Young Adult (16+)

Pages: 273

Format: eBook (also available in paperback)

ISBN: 1463565003

Buy the Book: Amazon


Summary (taken from Goodreads):

Eden is a Soul Eater. While that hasn’t meant much to her in the past, she’s pretty sure any minute now she’s going to go all “Carrie” on her eleventh grade class. 

Noah is an Ankh. As an immortal Warrior, his purpose in life is to hunt down and kill Soul Eaters. 

Eden is Noah’s next assignment. Problem is… this is an assignment with a difference. Eden’s not your average, run of the mill, Soul Eater. Noah’s job? To test Eden for possible redemption. 

It’s a risky business. 

Especially if Noah awakens Eden’s inner monster. 

It would be kind of hard for Eden to listen to the angel on her shoulder when the devil on the other is telling her, her new best friend is a lying, scheming, immortal enemy… 

….betrayal is such a bitch. 

So is Eden when you get on her bad side. 

YA Paranormal Fiction for mature teens+ (some content may not be suitable for younger readers)

Review:

Let me start by saying that I really cannot believe people do not know about this book! IT IS AMAZING! Samantha Young, at the ripe young age of 25, you are a certified genius.

I had some reservations about reading this book in the beginning. It is a little darker than what I usually read, and I really do not like horror and gore and whatnot. Even though there were some disturbing and darker elements present, it never went overboard and I never felt like it was too much. Young did a really nice job of not scaring off the super scaredy-cats (like me ><). From the VERY FIRST PAGE, the story is fast paced, where if plot is not being thrown at you, lots of emotions are. I literally could not stop reading! (Today was test day at my school, and with no English classes, I literally sat in the teachers’ office, talked with no one, and read this book in one sitting. THAT is how engrossed I was!)

I think the best thing about this book is Eden. She is a soul eater, and with her hunger awakened, she has to feed on the souls of people to survive. In other words, she is NOT a good guy. In fact, most members of her family are serial killers who get off on raping and beating their victims before finally taking their souls (shudder). But Eden would do anything to change who she is and rid herself of the hunger that resides in her. She is portrayed as a strong and independent character that takes crap from no one, and her emotions are complex and real as she fights off the hunger.  And the chemistry between her and all the other characters, especially her brother, Stellan, and Noah, is just excellently written. I felt the closeness of Stellan and Eden, reminding me of my own brother and me. Even the confusing moments when she could not decide how she felt about Noah (or why she had certain feelings of jealousy or anger) was just perfect. It was really a whirlwind of emotions that made you want to keep reading to find out how it all resolved.

I really liked Stellan and Noah. Stellan was the perfect older brother looking after his little sister and the connection and love between them was almost tangible. And then there is Noah, the immortal Ankh warrior whose duty is to destroy soul eaters. I loved when Young told the story from his point of view every few chapters or so. It really showcased his feelings and conflicted emotions, such as how he would sometimes forget Eden was one of the monsters he should hate and definitely NOT care for. It made him that much more relatable and likeable! Overall, characters, chemistry and dialogue were topnotch.

Another thing I really liked about the story was the usage of Egyptian mythology. I have read plenty of books that had elements of Greek/Roman mythology, but Egyptian mythology? Not so much. With aspects of Egyptian mythology thrown in, this story of a soul eater is utterly original and a super satisfying, fast-paced read. I already have the second book, Blood Past, right next me and I am super stoked to start reading it! I better get comfortable in case it is another book I read in one sitting. >)

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Release Date: September 29, 2011

Publisher: Dutton Juvenile

Age Group: Young Adult (14+)

Pages: 338

Format: Hardcover (also available in eBook)

ISBN: 0525423281

Buy the Book: Amazon

Summary (taken from Goodreads.com): 

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit — more sparkly, more fun, more wild — the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. 

When Cricket — a gifted inventor — steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

Review:

Oh, Stephanie Perkins, how I love you. I seriously think I have a major girl crush right now. ><

This book was AMAZINGGGGGG. After reading Anna and the French Kiss, I could not wait to read this book and I REALLY wanted it to be as good as her first one. And, boy, was it ever.

I adored Lola (the slightly less ostentatious version of a teenage Lady Gaga) and all of her craziness. (As a side note, I totally want her Egyptian costume!) From the very beginning, there was just something that made me connect with her. Throughout the book, she learns more about herself, who she really is underneath all the crazy outfits, and rediscovers her first love. Every time she felt frustrated, confused, happy, or sad, I felt it right along with her. There were sweet moments when I could not help getting a little teary-eyed (like when Cricket first sneaks into her room or when he gives her his little starry disk invention- swoon fest) and other moments where I could not stay still, waiting in eager anticipation to see what happened next. All of it just felt so real.

I loved Cricket, with his quirkiness and obsession with rubber bands and inventions. There was something about him that just captured my heart and held on. He would be everything I would ever want in a guy. Seriously. He is a sweet, caring, talkative, and an occasionally slightly awkward, normal guy that cannot keep his hands still. And he is perfect for Lola in every way. The chemistry between the two of them is something that many novels lack nowadays (or in some cases, thanks to Twilight, are seriously overdone and waaayyyyyy too cheesy). But everything about Lola and Cricket and their relationship is just perfect. It was the same feeling I had about Anna and Etienne in Anna and the French Kiss. Perkins knows how to create chemistry between characters and makes it so easy for the reader to fall in love with them. The pairings of Anna and Etienne and Cricket and Lola just seem made for each other.

Trust me when I say that teen chick lit does not get much better than what Stephanie Perkins dishes out. I have read these books countless times already, and every time I have had a huge smile on my face when I finished them. I am super stoked for the final installment in this series, Isla and the Happily Ever After, due out in fall 2012. (Will Isla finally get Josh??? Gahhh! I cannot wait!)

Stephanie Perkins, you own my heart (along with Cricket- there is enough to share). ❤

The best quote from the book:

“I know you aren’t perfect. But it’s a person’s imperfections that make them perfect for someone else.”

Half-Blood (Covenant, #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Release Date: October 18, 2011

Publisher: Spencer Hill Press

Age Group: Young Adult (14+)

Pages: 281

Format: Paperback (also available in eBook)

ISBN: 0983157200

Buy the Book: Amazon

Summary (taken from Goodreads.com):

The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi-pure-bloods-have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals-well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures. Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden.Unfortunately, she’s crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn’t her biggest problem–staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck.

Review:

I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK.

I have seriously not enjoyed a book this much in a long while. Holy crap.

There were two reasons why I bought this book (that was all it took). Usually, I will try reading the first few pages in the store to see if I like the writing style and see if the boos interests me at all. In this case, I did not even crack open the pages before buying. A book dealing with some Greek gods and half-bloods? I am all over it (thank you, Percy Jackson). The cover, in all of its luminescent glory, is breathtaking! I swear, I have bought more books this year for their pretty covers than ever before [sigh]. What kind of person have I become?? ><

To start off with, this book is written really well. I honestly could not put it down! From page 1, this book captured my attention and never let it go. The descriptions are awesome, the dialogue is witty and extremely well done, and the characters are easy to love and relate to. Overall, Armentrout did an EXTRAORDINARY job!

The characters are amazing! Alexandria, otherwise known as Alex, is a girl who takes no crap from anyone and has a plethora of smart aleck remarks that she can pull out of the air on command. In other words, she is my kind of girl. It is so nice to see a female character who does not rely on the men in her life to save her and faces her problems head on (which is oh-so-NOT-common nowadays in YA fiction *coughHalocough*). Sure, it sometimes gets her into trouble, but she manages in the end BY HERSELF. She is no damsel in distress, which is the main reason I like her so much. And then there is her male counterpart, Aiden. Oh, Aiden, how I could go on and on about you (where is my Aiden?!). I LOVE HIM. He is on my list of favorite male characters EVER. I am not even going to try and talk about him because I know I would not be able to stop. Forget being a pure blood, HE’S A FREAKIN’ GOD. And curly hair and silver eyes? That’s hot.

As a side note, can inventors quit trying to make time machines and instead make a device where book characters become real??? I could have Aiden, Jace, Ash, Four/Tobias, Percy, Adrian, Adam, and Bones! What a nice little harem that would make [insert dreamy sigh here].

I am really conflicted about how to rate this book. It is pretty obvious already, but I enjoyed every page of this book. And I think the reason why is because it is essentially Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series. Alex is Rose, Aiden is Dimitri, Caleb is Mason, Lea is Mia, Deacon is Adrian, etc. The story/social structure and plot elements were the same as well: a pure blood= Moroi, a half-blood=dhampire, a daimon=Strigoi, and Sentinels=Guardians. In the beginning of the book, Alex returns to the Covenant (just like Rose returns to the Academy), the relationship between Aiden and Alex is forbidden (just like the relationship between Rose and Dimitri is a big no-no),  Alex and Aiden almost ‘go all the way’ (just like Rose and Dimitri almost make it to home base), and the list goes on. If you have read VA, it is impossible not to notice. I loved and adored VA, and since these books are so similar, it is almost impossible for me not to like Half-Blood.

So as far as plot originality is concerned, there are certain parts and elements that are very much original, but the story and plot were a little too similar to Richelle Mead’s VA. But in Armentrout’s defense, there have been plenty of books that have been ripped off of other books and movies and still been a great read. I mean, hello, Hunger Games anyone? The story is a rehashing of Battle Royale (the dystopian version) and plenty of people loved it, just like me. So in terms of originality, the story was a little lacking, but in the end, it was immensely enjoyable. That’s what counts.

I am so excited for the sequel, Pure, due out April 2012. I have the date marked on Google Calendar already! Does that make me pathetic? (Please do not judge me.) It seems like the sequel will split away from the plot line of VA a little and we will see more Armentrout’s own plot twists, which I am super fired up for. I honestly cannot wait! Jennifer L. Armentrout, you have made a fan out of me.

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