Friday, April 26, 2013

The Maze Runner (Book 1)

Talk about adventure, intrigue, twists and turns!  James Dashner has it all in The Maze Runner (Book 1)They sold this book to me as a perfect companion to The Hunger Games and Divergent...let me start by saying, these books are not the same in my mind, but that is not to say anything negative about The Maze Runner.  It is still an amazing book that brings to life a new world that has yet to be discovered.  Think, Lord of the Flies meets the Hunger Games meets Ender's Game.  I know, I know, that's a huge variance, not to mention huuuuuuge shoes to fill!

Maze Runner, follows Thomas, a young boy that finds himself awakening with no memories beyond his own name, in an elevator and opening up to a group of rugged boys that have been living in "the glade" for the past 2 years searching for a way out of the maze that surrounds their safe compound all while avoiding the scary Griever monsters who constantly chase the boys.  Will they find a way out with the help of bright, Thomas?  What of this new mysterious girl, Teresa,  who arrives in a coma and looks familiar to Thomas?  With twists and turns in this trilling book it's sure to keep you interested and on your toes.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1)

We all have our favorite books, but Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone) by Laini Taylor was one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read.  When you read the description of this book (Angels, Demons, Magic, etc) it might seem unbelievable, but once you dive into the pages Taylor really transports the reader to a new world and for some reason it all just works!  

Let me see if I can give a short description of this book that does it justice, without sounding too silly...We've all heard the story of star crossed lovers or even of angels and demons, but this goes beyond what we have all thought true of the underworld and the heavens.  We meet Karou, a 17-year old art student in Prague.  She is an orphan girl, who cannot remember her past, who is raised by demon creatures that live in the shadows but that are all the "family" Karou has ever known and loves.  She is your typical teenage girl, besides the fact that she runs strange errands and knows magic.  On one of her errands she encounters Akiva, a beautiful angelic creature who is out to kill her but something stops him and that changes everything...

Laini Taylor builds the story and the worlds these two live in so vividly that for the first time you see "angels" and "demons" in a new light, understand why they do the things they do and realize that even within their own kind there can be discord and free-will. Her ability to beautifully tell the story of an angel and a devil in a hopeless love story is breathtaking.  She does this, however, in a way that does not seem cliche or tired.  I highly recommend this book and series!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Kiera Cass Live Video Chat

Okay, so it's launch day of the second book in the Selection Series, The Elite (Selection)
and Kiera Cass just hosted an awesome (if somewhat choppy) video chat in which she announced that the third book in The Selection Series is indeed written and ready to go and will be titled, THE ONE!  So exciting!!  View the recording of the chat here:

Thank you Kiera for the wonderful chat!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass Novels)

Never underestimate the power of a woman with a debt to settle...and certainly, never underestimate that woman because of her age or beauty.  These are wise concepts that most dystopian novels tend to play with and Sarah J. Maas does not disappoint in Throne of Glass.

World famous (and beautiful) 18-year old assassin,  Celaena Sardothien is selected by Prince Dorian and pulled out of the prison salt mines of Endovier (where many criminals are sent to die) and sent to the beautiful Glass Castle and thrust into the world of dresses and court life to act as his selected champion in a competition to find the new royal assassin.  If she can somehow win this competition, the Prince promises her freedom after her four years of service to the crown are up.  Both Celaena and Prince Dorian have something to prove, but will they be able to overcome all of the obstacles ahead of them?  And what of this new interest in gruff Captain Westfall who seems to be the first who both appreciates and seems to understand her.  Can Celaena overcome the great challenges before her?  Can she figure out who or what is killing off the competition before she, herself falls victim to the murders?  Is all that is, as it seems?

Divergent (Divergent Series)

One of my favorite reads of 2012 was Veronica Roth's, Divergent!  The story opens and we're introduced to a futuristic virtuous fact, each sector of this dystopian society represents one of five virtues: Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent).  Once a year, every 16 year old society member decides on which virtue to follow for the rest of their lives.  They leave their families and everything they have ever known to follow their selected faction, but what happens when the decision between who you know you are and who you want to be conflict?  Beatrice (Tris) can't stay with the family she loves and truly be who she knows she is, but what will she choose?

Once she makes her decision, she enters into a very competitive initiation process that weeds out the weak and tests the initiates both physically, psychologically and emotionally.  During her initiation she realizes that there are those, within the faction that she can trust and those that she cannot.  She also has a decision to make where her heart is concerned as well as an increasing realization that what she is, is actually more complex than just her chosen faction and more dangerous than she realizes.  

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Need to Read: Shades of Earth (An Across the Universe Novel)

So, I know usually I post about YA books I have read, but I also want to share that along with Kiera Cass' The Elite coming out soon, that I also am really looking forward to the third book in the Across the Universe Trilogy, Shades of Earth: An Across the Universe Novel by Beth Revis.  

The Across the Universe trilogy is a YA Dystopian murder mystery novel with of course, some love thrown in for good measure and a strong female character that has a world that needs saving.  The first two books take place on a spaceship, Godspeed where the wealthy and useful individuals have cryogenically frozen themselves for a 300 year trek to re-populate and settle their species on Centauri-Earth, meanwhile the people who live and operate the ship are of a lower caste.  We start off the series when Elder (the new to be leader, born and raised within Godspeed) finds a semi-thawed, unplugged Amy, a previously frozen teen who is there with her parents waiting in their frozen state, until they reach Centauri-Earth.  Someone is out to kill the frozen and it is up to Amy and Elder to find out who and why this is happening.  

Shades of Earth was released earlier this year and I don't really know how I missed the release date, but I cannot wait to get my paws on this read!

Matched (Matched Trilogy)

Imagine living in a world where everything was perfect...or seemed perfect at least.  Nothing is questioned or second guessed and the streets are clean, there is no crime and your choices were made for you by the government.  What you ate, your education and even your mate, all pre-selected for you.  Ally Condie's Matched is exactly that.  This YA Dystopian novel starts off more in a Utopian society reminding me of Lois Lowry's, The Giver.  

Ally builds this idyllic world that houses Cassia's life up until her match banquet when the face displayed is that of lifelong friend Xander Carrow suddenly fades to that of mysterious Ky Markham. Swept under as a "mistake" or a rare glitch, Cassia can't help but wonder more about Ky.  As their relationship grows and they start to fall for each other doubt begins to seep into the mind of Cassia and she finds herself questioning the things that surround her daily life and the ultimate choice of Xander (the sure choice and steady friend) or Ky (the aberration, the unwanted, but the one who shows her a whole new world and challenges her like no other has before). 

Matched definitely has the love triangle, a society with secrets and the internal struggle Cassia and a choice...but what will she choose?  What is her destiny and what path will she uncover?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Prince: A Selection Novella

As we're gearing up for the release for The Elite (the second novel in the Selection Series) in less than a week (April 23rd, 2013) , I thought I would provide a quick review on The Prince: A Selection Novella (HarperTeen Impulse) by Kiera Cass.  This novella was recently released and is a prequel of sorts to The Selection.  So for those of you who chomping at the bit, this is a quick read that is a great addition to the trilogy.

This short read really takes us into the mind of Prince Maxon.  In fact, the whole novella is written from his point of view. It was great to read about his feelings, anxieties and hopes. It was so refreshing to get the opposite point of view.  The final chapters in The Prince are actually running in tandem with the Selection.  As usual, Kiera took us to a different world that sometimes feels all too similar to the one we live in today. If you're on the fence, just know this is a great quick companion to the Selection, and is worth the read!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern)

It seems I have a fairy tale remix theme going on here but again, we find ourselves with a twist on a classic.  This time we introduce The Goose Girl (Books of Bayern) by Shannon Hale (one of my favorite authors), a Brothers Grimm story with twist.  Hale won a Newbery Honor Award for this novel and for good reason.  This coming of age journey is beautifully told and holds true to the test of time, even read as an adult. 

The Goose Girl is a story about Princess Anidora-Kiladra (Ani for short) who is born a little different and is outcast from the very start.  We learn early on that she, like her outcast aunt, has a magical gift of speaking with animals, particularly birds.  This gift is dismissed as Ani grows and we come to find that her mother, the Queen, makes a political decision to betroth Ani to a neighboring Kingdom's Prince.  Half-way through her journey, her lady-in-waiting, Selah conspires with some of the guard and is overthrown.  Ani then goes into hiding and becomes a servant (the goose girl) to the kingdom that she is supposed to become Queen to.  Ani meets all sorts of characters while in disguise as she is trying to find her way to her rightful throne. 

Hale does an excellent job of story-telling.  Her words paint a wonderful picture of the surroundings and colorful characters sprinkled within this tale, even the smaller characters have a flavor all their own.  Ani is a character you can really root for.  She is flawed and naive but grows in herself and with her abilities and becomes a confident young lady ready to stand up for what she believes in and finds her inner power.  I of course love the twists and revealing moments sprinkled throughout the chapters! A very thrilling, fun and adventurous twist on a classic!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles)

For those of you who love a good twist on an old classic, this is the book for you!  Marrisa Meyer's Cinder (Lunar Chronicles), is a fantastic futuristic twist on the Cinderella story complete with the stepsisters and evil step mother.  

We meet Lin Cinder, a cyborg mechanic with a mysterious past, who lives in this future world, New Beijing in China (123 years after World War IV) and are quickly introduced to our hero, Prince Kaito (Kai), who seems to be the heart throb to every girl in New Beijing.  Every girl, that is, except Cinder.  Kai visits Cinder discretely and in disguise to repair one of his royal androids secretly...Cinder instantly knows there's more to this android than he lets on.  Almost instantly, there is a spark between the two that plays throughout the book.

Within the story lines there are undertones of a serious plague, political unrest, and an unwelcome, possibly necessary, alliance with the evil Lunar Queen, Queen Levana (who wants to take over the world, as most "evil" ones tend to want to do).  

Cinder is filled with heart-clenching twists and turns and a strong female lead who does not need a Fairy Godmother to grant her any wishes.  The minor characters (Iko, the Doctor, etc) sprinkled throughout added a nice dimension and flavor Ms. Meyer's imagery and descriptions of the characters and city made everything so believable.  I, for one, am eager to see how the story unfolds in the series!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The False Prince (Ascendance Trilogy)

I so often blow through book after book and then eagerly pick up the next book as if my hunger is rarely satisfied, but this was definitely a delightful surprise to read that is guarenteed to satisfy! I really enjoyed the twists and turns Jennifer Nielsen took with the characters and the plot in The False Prince: Book 1 of the Ascendance Trilogy: Book 1 of the Ascendance Trilogy. She took you to a whole other world and kept feeding your interest the entire time. The character development throughout the book of each and every single one of the characters gave me enough to root for some, hate others and feel crest fallen when they made decisions that I wished they hadn't made but knew that if this was real life, the characters would have done the same even still.

We follow quick-witted Sage, an orphan boy who is picked out by nobleman, Connor for a potential "false" Prince along with three other boys that might pass as the missing real Prince Jaron and then to use as a puppet for his own advantage since the royal family has all been murdered besides this once-thought-dead missing Prince.  This is a tale of missing princes, unexpected friendships and revelations!  This fast-paced, thrilling book is a must have for your kindle or book shelf!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Selection

Okay, so I must admit that the second I saw the cover for The Selection by Kiera Cass I knew I wanted to dive into the pages of this book! It was one of those "love at first sight" kind of things. The cover art is gorgeous, intriguing and mysterious and that just begins to tell the story within the, as of current, I'm hopelessly hooked on dystopian YA novels.

Basically, we start off in the future much like the Hunger Games with classes of people (1 being the highest ranked and wealthy and the subsequent numbers going into more poverty and less opportunity for career and education).  This is all based on how much the ancestors of these families supported the government long long ago.  Once an heir comes of age there is a contest or game for the people to watch and root for to give hope that their future queen will come from "the people." America Singer, our protagonist comes from one of the lower ranks and is one of the "selected" girls against all odds.  She of course has a strong character and is the only one who does not really want to be there...and as some might predict her fiery nature and free spirit captures the prince's intrigue and attention.  As the pages play out I can't help but find similarity to episodes of the bachelor...lots of girls (35) vying for the love and adoration and ultimate hand of the future king, Prince Maxon.

Of course there's a past love twist (a triangle of sorts), a change of heart (hate turn to love?) and a suspenseful end that leaves you wanting and waiting for the next book (The Elite) which will be released later this month!

I finished this book in one sitting and could not put it down. I really cannot wait for the next book and possible CW series to come! :)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy)

So, it's been a while since the last post so I figured it was time to post up some recent reads since there have been soo many good ones since...2007?!  How has it been that long?  

So I recently read Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy) by Leigh Bardugo and OMG!  This was such an unexpected jewel to read!  Okay, so truthfully, this wasn't a "must read" on my list but once I picked this up and started reading I could not put it down. This is one of those books that transports you to a new world where magic mingles with reality and love prevails (but not in that cheesy sort of way). 

I loved the main character, Alina. She is everything a classic heroine should be. She is strong but she has weakness. She is lovable but also aggravating. She has faults but she finds herself and holds true to herself.  The reader really watches her morph and blossom into a better version of herself throughout the book until she is who she needs to be and who she really always was.

The villain is complex and sometimes you don't know if you love him or hate him. He brings out the best and worst in the Alina.  She is for once, feeling loved and useful and like she belongs, which is something she has never felt...although, she doesn't quite trust it either, but she wants to so desperately.  The love interest is, of course, everything you could want. He is charismatic, wanted, loyal, fights for what he believes in and is willing to risk it all for love.  However, like most love interests it feels like his appreciation of what was right in front of him comes so late.

This was one of my favorite reads of 2013...CAN NOT WAIT FOR THE NEXT BOOK!!! :)