February 29, 2012

The Rivals by Daisy Whitney

Release Date: February 6, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 352
Series: The Mockingbirds
Review Source: ARC for review from Hachette Book Group Canada (@HBGCanada)

Synopsis: (from Amazon)
When Alex Patrick was assaulted by another student last year, her elite boarding school wouldn't do anything about it. This year Alex is head of the Mockingbirds, a secret society of students who police and protect the student body. While she desperately wants to live up to the legacy that's been given to her, she's now dealing with a case unlike any the Mockingbirds have seen before.

It isn't rape. It isn't bullying. It isn't hate speech. A far-reaching prescription drug ring has sprung up, and students are using the drugs to cheat. But how do you try a case with no obvious victim? Especially when the facts don't add up, and each new clue drives a wedge between Alex and the people she loves most: her friends, her boyfriend, and her fellow Mockingbirds.

As Alex unravels the layers of deceit within the school, the administration, and even the student body the Mockingbirds protect, her struggle to navigate the murky waters of vigilante justice may reveal more about herself than she ever expected.

My Thoughts:
I really loved The Mockingbirds, so I was psyched to read this 2nd book by Daisy Whitney. I really liked how in this volume there were concrete examples about the administration ignoring things going on under their noses in order to prevent the school from looking bad. It's so sad to see how the administration cared more about the school’s reputation than the students' well-being, but it makes it plausible that a group like the Mockingbirds exists.

The Rivals presents an interesting case for the Mockingbirds because it’s not something that’s easy to pinpoint on who is being harmed; it’s far different from Alex’s case in the first book where someone has been wronged and there is a clear perpetrator. I also liked how Alex began to question the Mockingbirds and their role. The existence of such a group is very controversial, and I liked seeing Alex wonder if the Mockingbirds had any impact and whether vigilante justice really was the best option.

Daisy Whitney does characters fabulously well and I loved the return of favourites like Martin and Jones, but I also enjoyed meeting some new ones. Alex is such a cool and strong character. I really love how she makes decisions and sticks to them, and that her decisions show her principles. It was so lovely to see Alex choose to be in control of herself and be in charge of her own life after having something horrible happen to her. If you like strong, smart, and brave main characters then you'll definitely like Alex. Overall this was a great 2nd book, and if you liked the first book then I think you’ll enjoy this one just as much.

The Cover:
So pretty; the re-design for these books is fabulous.


Find The Rivals by Daisy Whitney on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

February 28, 2012

Because I Heart You GIVEAWAY

I've been wanting to do another giveaway for a while now, and I've even been planning to do a random giveaway like this for a month or two, but somehow I never got around to it. Well, now I finally am, because I want to show how much I HEART YOU! To everyone who visits, and especially to everyone who comments: thank you! Here's just a little something to show how much I appreciate everyone in the book blogging community.

First off, we have SWAG PACKS! 6 people will win an envelope of swag, including bookmarks, buttons, postcards, etc.

(Just a small selection of what I have to give away)

And 1 person will win their choice between:

The details:
- Open internationally (everywhere for swag, and everywhere Book Depository ships for the book)
- 6 winners (5 x swag packs, 1 x swag pack and book)
- Ends March 13 at midnight EST
- Winners will be chosen using random.org
- I will email each winner for their mailing address & they will have 72 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen
- To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below (From 1 - 12 entries available)

February 27, 2012

Pure by Julianna Baggott

Release Date: February 8, 2012
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 448
Series: Pure
Review Source: Netgalley

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it's his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.

My Thoughts:
The concept of ‘Pure’ is so interesting, that I knew immediately that I wanted to read it. I loved how Julianna Baggott created two separate societies and brought them together in one world. The way things were outside after nuclear war were grim and very horrific in some ways, while life inside the dome was ruled by tight control and order.

Everything about this book adds up to something I should love, but somehow it just didn’t completely click. As mentioned, the world building was good, even though there are still many details for the characters to discover in the next book(s). I liked the characters and really felt for them. So why didn’t I love this one? Not sure. Perhaps it was the writing, which I think would have been a lot more personal in first person POV, but I’m not sure.

This was an intriguing read, and one that I did enjoy, but I didn’t like it quite as much as I expected to. I do have a feeling this will be a great read for a lot of people.

The Cover:
It's super gorgeous, but I don't think it really prepares you for the book.


Find Pure by Julianna Baggott on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

February 26, 2012

Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin & Lisa Brown

Release Date: February 1, 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 264
Series: n/a
Review Source: For review from publisher

Synopsis: (from B&N)
A ghost will find his way home.

Jennie Lovell's life is the very picture of love and loss. First she is orphaned and forced to live at the mercy of her stingy, indifferent relatives. Then her fiancé falls on the battlefield, leaving her heartbroken and alone. Jennie struggles to pick up the pieces of her shattered life, but is haunted by a mysterious figure that refuses to let her bury the past.

When Jennie forms an unlikely alliance with a spirit photographer, she begins to uncover secrets about the man she thought she loved. With her sanity on edge and her life in the balance, can Jennie expose the chilling truth before someone-or something-stops her?

Against the brutal, vivid backdrop of the American Civil War, Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown have created a spellbinding mystery where the living cannot always be trusted and death is not always the end.

My Thoughts:
I really liked this book because it provided a whole reading experience. Because of the illustrations that make up Jennie's scrapbook this wasn't just like reading a linear story. The pictures just added so much to the story, and it made me wish there were more novels that included them. I also really like how this was set in the Civil War. It seems like a unique time period for historical YA, which also made it stand out.

The book brings together a lot of interesting aspects, including war, social standing, ghosts/spiritualism, and love. I also really liked the mystery/spy aspect. Basically this was a quick read which drew me in and kept me interested until the end when the truth was discovered. If you're looking for something unique and intriguing I think you'll find it in 'Picture the Dead'.

The Cover:
I like it! It shows the illustrations and really fits with the book well.


Find Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin & Lisa Brown on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

February 24, 2012

Guest Post: My Models Died Years Ago by Lisa Brown

I'm really excited to share a guest post today which relates to Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown. In my review (which will be posted in a couple of days) you'll see that I loved the illustrations, so I was excited to have this particular guest post to share with you all.

My Models Died Years Ago
By Lisa Brown

ALMOST EVERY CHARACTER in Picture the Dead has a real-life 19th century counterpart, unearthed from the archives of the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. Here are some of my models and their correspondent illustrated selves.

Uncle Henry Pritchett. I drew him unaltered from his original photograph. Couldn't improve upon perfection. I am especially pleased with the pattern I found for the background, however. All of the "wallpaper" patterns are made from actual Victorian designs that I mostly discovered in clip art Dover books. http://store.doverpublications.com/

Jennie Lovell, our indomitable heroine. I changed her hairstyle in later versions, after Adele described her hair as lush and curly. Her dress reminds me of the clothing in the "Sound of Music;" that is, made from old curtains.

Mavis, the little Irish maid. Her dress is much simpler than her employers', no pattern or stylishly puffed sleeves. Note how she looks a bit frightened.

William Pritchett. The epitome of "dashing." I'm fairly smitten with Will and his brother. Check out the wonderful Tumblr blog, http://mydaguerreotypeboyfriend.tumblr.com/, for more dead hotties.

Quincy Pritchett, my absolute favorite. His original model is a bit too old for the part, so I regressed him to his teenaged self and removed his glasses. He gets even sexier, in my opinion, later on when he sports an eye patch. Arrrrrr!

And here a little side note regarding dear Aunt Clara. I honestly had trouble finding a model who was detestable enough to represent Clara in all her vile-ness. I was particularly keen to portray Adele’s incredible description of a “chin that wobbled like aspic.” Nobody during the Civil War era seemed to have such a chin. I tried concocting a composite from several existing portraits, but, in the end, I had to invent Clara out of whole cloth, sketching her out by hand. I gave her the requisite double chin, little girly ringlets, and an air of entitlement. Voila. Aunt Clara.

Here, at least, is an example of a model for her dress, expanded:

Thanks so much for Sourcebooks for providing this shared guest post with me, and Lisa for writing it up originally. I was fascinated with the illustrations, and I love how Lisa used real pictures as her inspiration!

February 21, 2012

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Release Date: February 14, 2012
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 272
Series: n/a
Review Source: Netgalley

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Senior year is over, and Lucy has the perfect way to celebrate: tonight, she's going to find Shadow, the mysterious graffiti artist whose work appears all over the city. He's out there somewhere—spraying color, spraying birds and blue sky on the night—and Lucy knows a guy who paints like Shadow is someone she could fall for. Really fall for. Instead, Lucy's stuck at a party with Ed, the guy she's managed to avoid since the most awkward date of her life. But when Ed tells her he knows where to find Shadow, they're suddenly on an all-night search around the city. And what Lucy can't see is the one thing that's right before her eyes.

My Thoughts:
I don’t even know where to start with this book. It is just so, so lovely and full of emotion. The writing is lilting and lyrical, reminiscent of Gayle Forman or Jandy Nelson. ‘Graffiti Moon’ features 2 main perspectives from Lucy and Ed, and sometimes a third with Poet’s poems. The greatest thing about the different perspectives is that I could always tell them apart. Lucy and Ed were very unique, and it was never difficult to tell who was narrating.

This book is about two amazing characters who have a connection. It was just beautiful hearing their conversations and spying in on their connections. The way that Lucy and Ed talk about art is just breathtaking. I don’t generally consider myself an art lover. I appreciate it, but I’ve never been particularly artistic. Well, this book made me fall in love with art and colour and meaning.

‘Graffiti Moon’ is just one of those books you don’t want to end. It’s also a title where it’s hard to describe just how amazing it is. This review is fairly short and sweet, because it’s hard to say anything except: PLEASE read it and experience the magic! This book is breathtaking, beautiful, gorgeous, and meaningful. Highly, HIGHLY recommended. Definitely a new favourite.

The Cover:
I like it!


Find Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

February 17, 2012

The Crimson Crown

A few days ago Cinda Williams Chima released the cover and blurb for The Crimson Crown. The Seven Realms series has quickly become one of my favourites, so needless to say I was jumping up and down in excitement after seeing this information. I can't wait for the book to come out!!

(You can also click here for a large version of the cover)
A thousand years ago, two young lovers were betrayed— Alger Waterlow to his death, and Hanalea, Queen of the Fells, to a life without love.

Now, once again, the queendom of the Fells seems likely to shatter apart. For young queen Raisa ana’Marianna, maintaining peace even within her own castle walls is nearly impossible. Tension between wizards and Clan has reached a fevered pitch. With surrounding kingdoms seeking to prey on the Fells’ inner turmoil, Raisa’s best hope is to unite her people against a common enemy. But that enemy might be the person with whom she’s falling in love.

Navigating the cutthroat world of blueblood politics has never been more dangerous, and former streetlord Han Alister seems to inspire hostility among Clan and wizards alike. His only ally is the queen, and despite the perils involved, Han finds it impossible to ignore his feelings for Raisa. Before long, Han finds himself in possession of a secret believed to be lost to history, a discovery powerful enough to unite the people of the Fells. But will the secret die with him before he can use it?

A simple, devastating truth concealed by a thousand-year-old lie at last comes to light in this stunning conclusion to the Seven Realms series.
The Crimson Crown will be released in Fall 2012.

February 16, 2012

Anew by Chelsea Fine

Release Date: December 7, 2011
Publisher: Acacia Press
Pages: 385
Series: The Archers of Avalon
Review Source: From review from publisher

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
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.

My Thoughts:
On the surface 'Anew' has a typical plot and typical characters, yet right from the beginning I found the book incredibly interesting. Once you delve into the book there's something special about Chelsea Fine's writing. She takes something that could be typical and pulls the reader in to a place where you're intrigued with the characters and the story. I was so curious about Scarlet and her past, trying to figure out how everyone fit into her life.

Scarlet herself was an interesting character. I felt a lot of empathy for her because she just wanted to understand her life. It would be so difficult to have amnesia and then learn such crazy facts about your life, even though deep down you know them to be true. As for the boys... well, yes, there's a love triangle. I really liked the way it was done, though. I'm kind of a sucker for the 'girl stuck between 2 brothers' storyline, and there's something painfully wonderful about forbidden love. I definitely found Tristan to be pretty swoony. He was self-sacrificing, which can be annoying when it's overdone, yet I just loved how he always wanted to put Scarlet first because of how much he loved her. As for Gabriel, he was a bit clueless, but I liked his sweetness and goodness.

I really loved the concepts in this book, like immortality and a crazy type of reincarnation. It was imaginative and kept me turning the pages. The only negative thing about this book is that it ended without any real resolution to the larger story. It's more like a first act with a cliffhanger leading you into the second book. This really does drive me crazy, and it prevented me from totally loving the book. However, the story overall? Pretty awesome, and I'd definitely love to read Book 2 when it's released.

The Cover:
It's pretty, and relevant to the book, which is always awesome.


Find Anew by Chelsea Fine on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

February 14, 2012

Getting Over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald

Release Date: January 24, 2012
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages: 336
Series: n/a
Review Source: Netgalley

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Can a twelve-step program help Sadie kick her unrequited crush for good? Abby McDonald serves up her trademark wit and wisdom in a hilarious new novel.

Seventeen-year-old Sadie is in love: epic, heartfelt, and utterly onesided. The object of her obsession - ahem, affection - is her best friend, Garrett Delaney, who has been oblivious to Sadie's feelings ever since he sauntered into her life and wowed her with his passion for Proust (not to mention his deep-blue eyes). For two long, painful years, Sadie has been Garrett's constant companion, sharing his taste in everything from tragic Russian literature to art films to '80s indie rock - all to no avail. But when Garrett leaves for a summer literary retreat, Sadie is sure that the absence will make his heart grow fonder - until he calls to say he's fallen in love. With some other girl! A heartbroken Sadie realizes that she's finally had enough. It's time for total Garrett detox! Aided by a barista job, an eclectic crew of new friends (including the hunky chef, Josh), and a customized selfhelp guide, Sadie embarks on a summer of personal reinvention full of laughter, mortifying meltdowns, and a double shot of love.

My Thoughts:
'Getting Over Garrett Delaney' is a sweet book featuring a main character who you grow to care about, even as she drives you crazy at times. Sadie's obsession with this guy is so realistic, because you can totally picture the type of guy Garrett is and see how she would find him appealing, even while as the reader you can see what a pretentious [insert expletive here] he is.

One aspect of this book I loved was the coffee shop awesome-ness. I've always dreamed about working at a cafe, and I loved reading about Sadie's co-workers at the coffee shop. One in particular was chef Josh who just might appreciate the real Sadie, showing her what it's like when a boy doesn't take you for granted.

This book examines codependent relationships and philosophizes about what love truly is, also promoting the idea that you should be only yourself. I think this is a book I would have really enjoyed back in high school, just because of the cutesy contemporary rom-com vibe it has. This was a good book, but it doesn't particularly stand out in any way.

The Cover:
Cute enough; I'm not the biggest fan of the pastels, but I like the design.


Find Getting Over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.


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