Monday, April 30, 2012

Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson

Hunting Lila (Lila, #1)Title: Hunting Lila
Author: Sarah Alderson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release: August 5, 2011
Pages: 318
Series: Lila #1

17-year-old Lila has two secrets she’s prepared to take to the grave. The first is that she can move things just by looking at them. The second is that she’s been in love with her brother’s best friend, Alex, since forever.

After a mugging exposes her unique ability, Lila decides to run to the only people she can trust—her brother and Alex. They live in Southern California where they work for a secret organisation called The Unit, and Lila discovers that the two of them are hunting down the men who murdered her mother five years before. And that they’ve found them.

In a world where nothing and no one is quite as they seem, Lila quickly realises that she is not alone—there are others out there just like her—people with special powers—and her mother’s killer is one of them…

I had seen Hunting Lila on Goodreads previously and had really wanted to read it, it sounded right up my alley, piquing my interests. When I got offered to review this book by the Canadian publisher, I couldn't pass up the amazing opportunity, I read it soon after receiving it. I am very pleased to say that it did live up to my expectations and hopes.

Looking at the cover, I immediately noticed that Lila was clearly running away from someone or something. I also noticed the use dull colors in the room, allowing her bright red heals and blue dress to really pop on the cover, perhaps as a metaphor that she is something out of the ordinary. The other aspects of the cover I loved were the rough, worn looking font of the title and the tagline for the book; "You can't hide from the truth". If the cover wasn't enough to draw potential readers in, that line will do it.

Alex was my favorite character of the book; all he did was care and protect the ones he loved, and he wasn't quick to make judgement on others. Lila was enjoyable for the most part, but I did find her to be a little too obsessive and trusting at some points. She was 'in love' with Alex and thought about him all the time, and after a while it was really starting to get to me. The other characters in this story that I really enjoyed were Jack, Suki and, surprisingly, Demos. For being set up initially as the 'bad guy' Demos had surprisingly high morals, as did the rest of his ensemble.

One of the few weak parts of this book was the plot. It was entertaining enough, but it could get highly predictable, taking away the element of surprise and shock. Even though it was predictable, the end still makes me want to read the next book now, to find out the fates of the characters. The writing was great; it grabbed the reader with it's attention to details, never letting anything slip, even minor things. This attention to detail made it easy for me to paint a clear picture in my head of what was happening in the book.

After finishing Hunting Lila, I now need the next book in the series now, I must find out what happens to everyone! But until I get that opportunity, I would recommend Hunting Lila to anyone in need of a fascinating paranormal YA book. I give Hunting Lila a 4/5.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Spectral Blog Tour: Guest Post on Where the Author Got the Inspiration for the Love Triangle

Where did you get the inspiration for the love triangle?

As far as love triangles go, I think they are hard to do, to be honest. I really wanted to make sure Jewel didn’t come across as fickle or taking advantage of two guys. So I was inspired to write a love triangle with that in mind. I think most girls can like more than one guy at a time when they’re young and dating and trying to figure things out. That’s totally normal. So, firstly, I wanted the love triangle to be realistic of course. But I also wanted Jewel to have good reasons for questioning how she’s feeling—not only about her life in general—but about the boys. She questions who she can trust and if she can follow her heart, or if it is leading her astray. Writing it a different way where the girl is going with different guys for pure fun would be cool too and realistic, don’t get me wrong. It’s just not what I saw Jewel doing. To make it simple, my inspiration was to give Jewel good reasons… to kiss two boys. J

Friday, April 27, 2012

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Article 5 (Article 5, #1)Title: Article 5 
Author: Kristen Simmons
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release: January 31, 2012
Pages: 364
Series: Article 5 #1

New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don't come back.

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren't always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it's hard for her to forget that people weren't always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It's hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.

Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow.

That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings—the only boy Ember has ever loved.

Needless to say, this novel got some serious hype online. I hesitated to pick it up though because of reluctance to be disappointed after everyone else loved it. I read it and found myself to quite like it, but maybe not to the extent that many others did. Starting on the positives of the book, the characters were great. I quite enjoyed Ember because she didn't just accept her fate, she took it into her own hands to make a better life for herself, showing her to be a strong young woman. Chase was even more intriguing to read about because he starts off as Ember's memory of the boy next door, changes into a military drone, not showing emotion to finally becoming a mix of his previous two egos. He was much more serious than the first, but much more loving than the second. There weren't too many secondary characters that were featured the entire way through, they came in and out as Chase and Ember continued to run away.

Another thing I loved about this book was the writing. It used the gritty style that often makes dystopians what they are, but it also worked well for the romantic scenes within. The one part of this book I didn't enjoy as much was certain parts of the plot. Most of the time I read it, I was hooked into the story, not wanting to put it down, but then there were also a few times that it took a very strange turn that I didn't really enjoy. The end was a redeeming factor, making me really want the next book now. Altogether, I would definitely recommend that fans of YA and dystopian books read this one. I give Article 5 and 4/5.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Vicious Deep Blog Tour: Author's Top Ten Books

Top Ten Books to Read when Stranded on a Desert Island: If you are going to be stranded, may as well find something to pass the time. Just make sure you plan ahead…

#1 would have to be HOW TO SURVIVE ON A DESERT ISLAND. Because, really, if I don't survive, I won't get to read 

#2 Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, obvi. 

#3 A collection of fairy tales from around the world.

#4 The Harry Potter series, because I'll need a little hope to keep me going. 

#5 Montana Sky by Nora Roberts. Don't you roll your eyes at me. Deserted islands get lonely.

#6 Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins because every word is beauty. 

#7 Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown. Partly because I'd like the company of merpeople. Partly because I'd like to read it before I get stranded. But also because I can't say I want to get stranded with my own mermaids ;) 

#8 Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 8 graphic novels. When facing the forces of darkness (strike that), nature, I'd ask myself, What Would Buffy Do? 

#9 The Essential Neruda. Pablo Neruda was exiled to an island where he fell in love and wrote poetry. Maybe I'd get the same inspiration. 

#10 A blank notebook, to write my own stories.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Torn by Amanda Hocking

TornTitle: Torn 
Author: Amanda Hocking
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release: February 28, 2012
Pages: 324
Series: Trylle Trilogy #2

Amanda Hocking is an indie publishing sensation whose self-published novels have sold millions of copies all over the world.  Step into the world of the Trylle, and prepare to be enchanted….

When Wendy Everly first discovers the truth about herself—that she’s a changeling switched at birth—she knows her life will never be the same. Now she’s about to learn that there’s more to the story…

She shares a closer connection to her Vittra rivals than she ever imagined—and they’ll stop at nothing to lure her to their side. With the threat of war looming, her only hope of saving the Trylle is to master her magical powers—and marry an equally powerful royal. But that means walking away from Finn, her handsome bodyguard who’s strictly off limits…and Loki, a Vittra prince with whom she shares a growing attraction.

Torn between her heart and her people, between love and duty, Wendy must decide her fate. If she makes the wrong choice, she could lose everything, and everybody, she’s ever wanted…in both worlds.

Yet again, I found myself wishing I had read this series much earlier. Torn picks up where Switched ends; with Wendy at home after leaving the Trylle behind along with her responsibilities too. Among the features I greatly enjoyed of this book, there were also a few that I didn't enjoy nearly as much. For starters, I found it highly unrealistic that the Vittra would leave her so pathetically guarded that she would be able to walk out like that. Loki was also frustrating as he lacked the substance that I had hoped for, seeming to instantly fall for Wendy which is a massive pet peeve for me. The positive parts of this book were the great writing, good story (at times), and the characters. The story could get rather annoyingly slow at times and Wendy wasn't utilized well to speed up the story. On the note of Wendy, she was frustratingly single minded, she didn't stop to think of others very often until the very end of the book. Finn lost a lot of appeal for me as well, he lacked the substance saw in him before, he became much more docile than before. In the secondary characters, there were quite a few that were amusing and fun, I enjoyed them more than the main characters. The writing was my favorite part of the book, it was just as good as in Switched and it one of the major features that keeps me coming back to Amanda Hocking's books.

The ending wasn't all that shocking to me, it was fairly predictable and easy to figure out. Will I be reading the next book? Yes, but mainly because I have it ordered and I would like to know the conclusion of the story. Overall, I'd recommend this book to someone looking for a light, quick read or who have read the first book in the series. I give Torn a 3.5/5.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is a weekly feature done by The Story Siren. These are from the last couple weeks...

The Fault in Our StarsCinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)Bloodlines (Bloodlines, #1)Looking for AlaskaThe Selection (The Selection, #1)

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Cinder by Marissa Meyer 
Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
Looking for Alaska by John Green
The Selection by Kiera Cass

For Review:
Hunting Lila (Lila, #1)PurityThe Last PrincessThe Opposite of Tidy

Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson (Thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada!)
Purity by Jackson Pearce (Thanks to Hachette Book Group Canada!)
The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze (Thanks to Hachette Book Group Canada!)
The Opposite of Tidy by Carrie Mac (Thanks to Penguin Canada!)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Above by Leah Bobet

AboveTitle: Above 
Author: Leah Bobet
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Release: April 1, 2012
Pages: 368
Series: None

Matthew has loved Ariel from the moment he found her in the tunnels, her bee’s wings falling away. They live in Safe, an underground refuge for those fleeing the city Above—like Whisper, who speaks to ghosts, and Jack Flash, who can shoot lightning from his fingers.

But one terrifying night, an old enemy invades Safe with an army of shadows, and only Matthew, Ariel, and a few friends escape Above. As Matthew unravels the mystery of Safe’s history and the shadows’ attack, he realizes he must find a way to remake his home—not just for himself, but for Ariel, who needs him more than ever before.

Before I got the opportunity to read Above, it caught my eye with it's stunning cover prominently featuring the CN Tower right in the middle and the girl's wings seemingly glowing a little. When I read the description, I was sold, I knew I would have to read it soon, and I was lucky enough to get a copy from Scholastic Canada! After how excited I was going in, I was glad to find myself enjoying it quite a bit.

I adore this cover. It shows the grunge of Safe with the exposed pipes, and piles of dirt and exposed earth. All of the rough edges of Safe against the clean, downtown, urban look of Above. The color scheme was a good embodiment of the tone of the book, dark and not a bright time for most of the characters. My personal favorite part of this cover is the sun shining on the CN Tower in the center, because of the book being set in Toronto.

Character-wise, I really enjoyed Matthew. He was scared of Above, but he was able to pull through and be strong for his people when they were in danger. Ariel was a little hard to understand for me at first, but as the story progressed I was able to make more and more sense of her and her habits. The secondary characters were also very enjoyable, especially those who helped the refugees from Safe while they were in Above. Doctor Marybeth was definitely one of those characters, giving them refuge in a different world from their own without worrying too much about the consequences of doing so. I loved getting to see the point of view of those from Safe because they had a whole different take of the world than most books utilize, making the characters very unique and well written. Their struggles were raw and real, giving the story a rough edge that was great and really added dimension.

The writing style of the book was utterly unique and unlike anything I had just read before. The style was dark and clearly very personal to Matthew, the narrator. I enjoyed the point of view of Matthew, he was relate-able in the sense that, as the reader, I had felt the same range of emotions as him, if not on a less extreme scale. Everyone has felt like an outcast at some point or another, and that was where I really connected with the characters of this book. The story was fairly swift moving, but there were a few scenes that were a tad bit too slow for my taste.

The end was all I had hoped it would be, rewarding the reader with a cliffhanger, but a fairly satisfying end nonetheless. I'd recommend this book to anyone in the mood for some paranormal goodness, or if you want to give the genre a shot. I can't wait to see what Leah writes next, but until then, I give Above a 4/5.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Saving JuneTitle: Saving June 
Author: Hannah Harrington
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Release: November 22, 2011
Pages: 322
Series: None

‘If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d be June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.’ 

Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why. 

When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going California. 

Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanour and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs. 

Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down again.

Saving June was a highly emotional book with few flaws in between. The one flaw I was able to find was the overuse of cuss words and the extreme mood swings of Harper, the protagonist. The rest of the book, however, was close to flawless showing pure and raw emotion. Other than being a bit trigger-happy with the cussing and moody, Harper did have her beautiful moments, she had flaws and that just brought more of a realistic feel to the book, which worked very well in the book's favor. Jake was a great romantic interest for the reason that he wasn't perfect, but he was a more or less good influence on Harper. He taught her to follow her heart and not to get lost in the middle, as she never had before. Laney was also fairly enjoyable, being the humorous and faithful best friend, while also having some issues of her own to deal with along the way. Bundle these good characters with the pop culture referencing writing and amusing story, you have a real winner. I give Saving June a 4/5 for being a great debut, I will be reading Hannah Harrington's next books for certain.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Miles from Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams

Miles from Ordinary
Title: Miles from Ordinary 
Author: Carol Lynch Williams
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release: March 15, 2011
Pages: 197
Series: None
Thirteen-year-old Lacey wakes to a beautiful summer morning excited to begin her new job at the library, just as her mother is supposed to start work at the grocery store. Lacey hopes that her mother's ghosts have finally been laid to rest; after all, she seems so much better these days, and they really do need the money. But as the hours tick by and memories come flooding back, a day full of hope spins terrifyingly out of control... 

Miles from Ordinary was an odd little book, it had a good premise, but it just didn't deliver on it. It didn't really flow well for me, and I found it to be too short for it's own good. To start off, the writing was where my main issue lied, was not as descriptive as I would have hoped. Most of the writing was focused on the character's emotions and I found the setting was neglected because of it. Another point I didn't enjoy about the writing was the way the flash backs were brought into play; they just started abruptly without letting the reader know what was happening very well. Going back to my earlier comment on the book being too short for it's own good, I simply felt there wasn't enough time to properly introduce the characters, I didn't ever feel much for the characters, even in the most dramatic parts of the book because of the lack of connection. The rest of the story line, apart from the flashbacks, was good, but not very eye catching. When events occurred, I didn't feel the crucial emotion off the characters that should have drawn me in. Overall, I give Miles from Ordinary a 2/5 for being a bit of a let down after having such a great idea.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Legend by Marie Lu

Title: Legend 
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release: November 29, 2011
Pages: 305
Series: Legend #1
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' 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.

After seeing so much hype over this book, I finally decided to bite the bullet and get it for myself. I was a little skeptical going in, how could the book be as good as everyone was claiming it to be? When I did get down to reading it, I found myself enjoying it, but not to the extent that others had loved it.

The characters were the only minor pitfall for me. I loved Day, he was a hardened street criminal with a conscience and respect for others in his position, but I didn't enjoy June nearly as much. June represented a pseudo good girl who had obeyed the rules all of her life, for the most part. The fact that she was able to see Day for who he truly was and still allow his conviction, was what truly turned me off. The dual points of view were interesting, giving the reader a look into the street life, while offering an insider's look at the governing power that few Dystopian books give. The writing was phenomenal, as everyone had promised it would be, able to switch tones for the very different points of view given, showing versatility. The plot was another highlight of the book, great, quick and effective, giving the reader the ability to possibly finish in one sitting.

In need of a decent dystopian after read The Hunger Games? Legend is a great option for those people, or anyone who wants to test the dystopian waters, so to speak. I give Legend a 4/5, and I cannot wait to see what is to come with the sequels.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Author Interview Week: Day Seven

Day 7:

Did you put any aspect of your life into your book?

I honestly didn’t do it on purpose, but I do find myself talking like Vi (or maybe she talks like me…?) and cutting and dying my hair black… So maybe I put those things in there because it’s something I like. 

Yes. My life and who I am is sprinkled throughout my books. I don’t know how I or any writer couldn’t include pieces of the things that make them who they are. Aren’t you a sum total of your experiences? I’m sure I’m quoting it wrong… anyway, to answer you again, yes. My heart, blood, sweat, and tears are all there in black and white, and I let the world read it and care what they have to say about it. I must be crazy!

You mean besides the coffee addiction, the honey addiction, the mitten addiction, the music addiction, the surprise ferret, and the utter love of describing snowfall?


In Hemlock, the relationship between Mac and her cousin Tess is really more like that of sisters, and I think that was something that was influenced by my own family. One of my “aunts” is really my mother’s first cousin. Likewise, I was always very close to my own three cousins growing up. I tend to think of them more as brothers. 

As a writer, I try not to write myself into my work. I recently had trouble with that. I ended a new book (not Dark Inside related) poorly because my own beliefs interfered with the way the story should end.  I had to go back into it and remind myself that what I believed wasn't the same as the character. Once I accepted it, I was able to give it the proper ending it deserved.

People have asked if Mrs. Winger is me... She's kind of a caricature--how I imagine students to see me on my grumpiest days. I promise I don't sit in the back playing solitaire, though! :D 

I did! I struggle with health issues, so I wanted a book that was fast-paced and tough, and I wanted a main character that could do all the things I didn't have the strength to do a few years ago. I'm getting better slowly, but I don't think I could EVER be as tough as Meadow is!

PM: Ninety-nine percent of my books are total fiction. Every once in a while though, something might slip in, but it's usually morphed and changed from its original version. In BRIGHTEST KIND OF DARKNESS, the scene where Lainey pierces Nara's ears is based on real life. My best friend pierced my ears using a sterilized needle and ice. Thankfully I didn't have a Grand Aunt wanting to "help"!

Thanks to all the authors who participated this week! 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Author Interview Week: Day Six

Day 6:

Who was your favorite character to write and why? Who was your least?

Oh, I love writing from Vi’s point of view. She’s sarcastic, which I like, and she’s not afraid to say what’s on her mind, something I wish I could do. I do love to write scenes between Vi and Jag, because they have this way of dealing with each other that is complex and amusing.

Nicholas gave me a hard time in the Emerald Talisman. He started out aloof and quiet. He didn’t want to let anyone inside his hurting heart or head, including me. Not until Sapphire did he open up to me, and show us the darling that he is.

I also struggled with Ash in Everblue. Her personality was a little dry and she floundered in her self-esteem which made writing her story drab sometimes. Only after she figured out herself and took control of her life did I gain more confidence in writing her story. There’s always a ying to the yang in couples I’m starting to discover.

My baddies are super fun to write, especially when they do something really evil. There’s always a unique character that pops up too, like Enigma the cat, Harry, and Badger (Everblue). And the spunkiness of Ash’s Dad surprised me, and Phil… who doesn’t love a bad boy turned good. 

Besides Sam and Ana? Probably Stef. She's just fun and outgoing, and I like that she always just says what's on her mind. 

My least favorite characters to write are usually antagonists. They're so icky.

Jason was probably my favorite character to write because he’s just this deliciously broken, flirtatious bad boy. My least favorite character to write was a guy named Jimmy Tyler. I won’t tell you why because I don’t want to spoil the book.

Mason. I have such a love/hate relationship with him. I want to like him but he's so bloody emo half the time. He drives me nuts. Sometimes I just want to toss him off a bridge and be done with him.

Rollins... you'll see why. Least favorite is probably Scotch. You'll see that, too. ;)

Well, I don't want to give away anything yet. But I loved writing the main female character. She's so tough and fierce! I wouldn't want to get in a fight with her! I don't think I ever have a least favorite to write- just because every character is like a part of my family!

PM: All the characters are my favorite characters to write. How about I'll answer who was the funnest to write. Nara's quirky Grand Aunt was an absolute hoot to write! My least favorite character to write was probably Nara's mom. Not because I didn't like her. I wrote her the way she needed to be written, but sometimes wanted to shake her. LOL!

Everyday brings a new question, be back tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Author Interview Week: Day Five

Day 5:

Was there any part of your book that was particularly hard to write?

Oh yeah. There’s a part of POSSESSION that I wrote and rewrote and rewrote. Then in revisions with my agents, I took it all, deleted it, and wrote it AGAIN. It seems to work well enough now.

All of it is hard to write. There’s story building, character developing, research, word smithing. But the story keeps begging to be written and I’m constantly daydreaming about what’s happening, but to actually get it down and like the words I write, it’s becoming a little more difficult to be consistent. I try to write a little at a time each day, but I struggle with wanting to edit as I go, which is a story killer, and the distractions of my two little boys pull me in different directions. I wish I could just write and not care as much, like I did with my first novel when I thought no one would read it but me. What I need is a ghost writer I could feed my ideas to so I could get stories done faster… now that’s an idea!

Action scenes are always difficult for me. I want to make them both exciting and clear . . . which is a challenge, so I take my time to really get them right.

Some of the really emotional scenes were a challenge. I tend to close down when really big, horrible things happen. Sometimes I’d write a scene that should have been emotionally taxing for the characters only to find I had bottled up their emotions the way I tend to bottle my own.

Yes! The ending! I swear, I'm just terrible at endings. I never seem to get them right...just ask my editors. haha I'll also admit that a certain scene with Mason towards the end was really hard to get through.

Yes, the part about what happened to Vee at the Homecoming dance was very difficult for me.

Probably the ending! I didn't WANT to finish writing it! It was so much fun!

PM: The scene when Nara dreams about Ethan was hard, because I wanted to write it with sympathy but also with honesty and strong emotion. I hope I accomplished that.

Everyday brings a new question! Be back tomorrow!

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