f0zKg0J4zFLYz-Yq0aednQVqREE Once Upon a Prologue: December 2011
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Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 Blog Goals

{ ++ } 2011 was an amazing year for me, because I started my blog!  I've learned SO much already, and met some wonderful people, not to mention doubled my TBR thanks to all the awesome book recs.  That said, I have a few goals for the new year that I'd like to accomplish here on the blog, and what better place to post them? 

  • To read great books, and post quality reviews
  • To continue to post at least 2 reviews per week, possibly 3.  
  • To re-evaluate which memes I participate in, and make them count
  • To get to know my followers and find ways to reach out to them and show my appreciation
  • To continue to learn all I can about book blogging
  • To build lasting relationships with authors and publishers
  • To make Once Upon a Prologue the best blog it can possibly be
  • To not be afraid to let myself shine through in my reviews and posts
  • To just have fun!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Year-End Book Survey

{ ++ } Hosted by Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner (and also one of the great minds behind The Broke and the Bookish), this is a fun and cute way of summing up your year of reading.  This was a unique year for me, considering I originally set a goal of 50 books this year intending to make my way through my physical TBR stack.  Instead, I hit a reading slump, started a book blog, and bought way too many books, which ended up in INCREASING my TBR.  Oy.  BUT.  It's also been kind of a magical nine months in that I've discovered amazing new books, made new friends, and found the book blogging community.  

1. Best Book You Read In 2011? 

This is a difficult question, because there were so many books that I read this year that I adored, for different reasons: characters, relationships, plot, romances.  A good book is one that makes me FEEL something, for the characters, for what they’re going through, and I experienced that with so many books, most of which I’m sure I’ll talk about throughout this survey.  

I have to mention Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.  I read it in the middle of January of this year.  It almost could be the best book I've read in 2011 but I think of the three Hunger Games books as one long story, and I can't fully separate them. The Hunger Games series means so much to me, and is so close to my heart, but I'll be talking about the trilogy and the characters a little closer to time for the movie.  

And then there was The Wise Man's Fear.    I paced back and forth practically waiting for the sequel to the Name of the Wind.  I've rarely fallen for a character the way I did for Kvothe.

But the BEST book I read this year is Tempest by Julie Cross (read my review).  I can’t explain it.  But this book somehow got ahold of my heart.  It hasn’t let go since.  I’m a HUGE Doctor Who fan, so that’s probably why the time-travel aspect appealed to me.  The story itself was great, with room for improvement like any book.  But it was the emotion to the story that really stuck with me.  I’m STILL thinking about the book and the characters, especially Jackson’s relationship with one particular character.  There were several scenes in the book that had me actually sobbing.  I just…I NEED the sequel.  

2. Most Disappointing Book/Book You Wish You Loved More Than You Did?

On a Dark Wing by Jordan Dane.  I go into every book I read hoping to love it, but this book was just a mess, in so many ways, which definitely sucks because it seemed so unique.  I’d probably read more from the author though, to give her another try.  

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2011?

Probably The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell (read my review).  I haven’t read that many “period” books so I wasn’t sure what I’d think of this one.  But oh, holy wow.  The writing style was so gorgeous, and absolutely blew my mind.  The main character, Amelia took my breath away a bit, as did her romance, which was absolutely my kind of be-all-end-all courtship.  I wanted to hug Saundra for writing this amazing novel, and  I think I’ve probably told her so, at some point.  Plus she is absolutely totally friendly and fun to chat with on Twitter.  

Runner-up: The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab (read my review).  I've never really read many ghost stories and this one was  really unique and different - part spooky story, part YA, part folklore. 

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2011?

Either Hourglass by Myra McEntire or Tempest by Julie Cross.  I’ve talked various friend’s ears off about both book.  Both were amazing debuts, and incredibly promising starts to their respective series.  Tempest especially struck my so hard, emotionally, in a good way.  If you haven’t read them, oh please do.  Hourglass is already out and Tempest will be published in January, 2012.

5. Best series you discovered in 2011?
Hmmmm, another tough question.  I think I’m going to go with the Nightshade series by Andrea Cremer.  I was broke when Wolfsbane (read my review) first came out, and waiting a week for it was TORTURE.  It was absolutely worth it, though once I did get the book, all I wanted to do was savor it.  Andrea is a fantastic author who knows how to create characters you’ll just care so much about, and a story that keeps you turning page after page.  I'm absolutely, totally on edge waiting for Bloodrose (the final book in the trilogy) to be released.

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2011?

I’ve read more YA novels this year than ever before, thanks to friends and largely, to the blogging community for recommending such awesome, amazing novels.  I’ve also read some self-published novels, something I’d never really considered before blogging.  So to list ALL my new favorite authors would take forever, but I’ll put a few out there who really reached out to me with review requests and whose books were stunning, or who I’ve interacted with through email/Twitter and adored their novels: Christine Nolfi, Saundra Mitchell, Ashley Willis, Amy Lichtenhan, Andrea Cremer, Tahereh Mafi, Myra McEntire, Jennifer L Armentrout, Victoria Schwab, etc.  (If I listed them, their books are worth reading, definitely.)

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.  It's part historical fiction, part women's fiction, with a bit of a Gothic tinge.  I'm not really sure how to classify it, but it was kind of like when I first read Jodi Picoult, how I knew I'd found something different, an author I was definitely going to love.  The Forgotten Garden is so unique, full of mystery, just a dash of romance, and family secrets.  I absolutely adored it.  It was kind of like a grown-up V.C. Andrews without all the taboo-ness of VCA's novels.  I highly recommend it!

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2011?

Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead.  Just knowing it was the final book in her Vampire Academy series - everything was on the line - made it so breath-taking to read.  Plus, it was really kind of awesome. 

9. Book you most anticipated in 2011?

The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss.   I've fangirled over this man and his books since I picked up The Name of the Wind on a whim and fell utterly, head-over-heels-over-head-over-heels in love with the world he has created.  If you haven't read Rothfuss, we need to talk. 

Runner up: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.  Which I…still haven’t read.  *hides*  I plan to get to it hopefully in February!  

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2011?

Oh definitely the cover of Cinder by Marissa Meyer.  Look at that funky, beautiful cover!  Isn't it just absolutley swoon-worthy?  :)  And that book is SO awesome!!!

11. Most memorable character in 2011? 

Emerson Cole from Hourglass.  Emerson is full of strength and courage.  She’s so genuine, and relatable.  She’s a very sympathetic character, whom I immediately bonded with.  I was head-over-heels for Em shortly after starting the story.  She just stands out in my mind as a true heroine, inspirational, and yet so human.  

Runner up: Elena from Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld series.  Elena is a female werewolf, and she is so strong, stubborn, and fierce.  I’ve only read the first two books of the series, but Elena is amazing, and I admire her so much.  Her personality just kinda leaps off the pages at you, and you can’t help but love her.  

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2011?

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.  I knew the basic premise of it, but I did not expect the haunting, ethereal writing style, the “voice” of Juliette, the protagonist.  There were some passages in Shatter Me that made me cry, and the book as a whole has stuck with me.  I HAVE to know what happens next.  I just, I adore the book, and Juliette, so much.  

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2011? 

That would have to be Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall.  It is one of the VERY few books that, months later, I am STILL thinking about.  The character growth alone was so stunning and impressive.  And Lauren's writing is golden, and so emotionally-wringing.  I just, I adored the book.  The characters all felt real, and Sam's journey...oh man.  I tear up still thinking about the book.  I've been wanting to re-read it for months but I'm waiting awhile, so that I when I DO re-read it, it will feel like the first time all over again.   I savored every gorgeous word the first time, and I want to be able to do that again. 

Runner-up: Saving June by Hannah Harrington (read my review.) This one made me cry quite a few times.  Also: Take This Regret by Amy Lichtenhan (read my review).  I laughed and cried, I cheered, I despaired, I raged.  I ran the gamut of emotions...this novel was AMAZING. 

14. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2011 to finally read? 

Probably Hush, Hush (read my review).  I remember wondering what all the hype was about when a few of my friends read the book when it first came out, then thinking, “okay, can it really be THAT good?” and for the most part, it WAS.  I’ve been slowly reading a bit here and there when I can on the sequel, but I’m so anxious to continue the series.  

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2011? 

“Maybe you can afford to wait. Maybe for you there's a tomorrow. Maybe for you there's one thousand tomorrows, or three thousand, or ten, so much time you can bathe in it, roll around it, let it slide like coins through you fingers. So much time you can waste it. 

But for some of us there's only today. And the truth is, you never really know.”  - Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

16. Book That You Read In 2011 That Would Be Most Likely To Reread In 2012? 

Definitely The Vespertine, and probably Hourglass, in order to be ready for the sequel, Timepiece.  I think I’ve already mentioned loving/flailing over both books, but they were THAT good.  I would definitely also reread Shatter Me, and probably will when it’s closer to time for the sequel.  

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

Mmmm, Shatter Me for some of the steamy scenes between Adam and Juliette, A Need so Beautiful (THAT ENDING OMG), Wolfsbane for some of the amazing twists, Hourglass for a few scenes near the ending!

Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2011

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2011? 

Well considering this was my first year of blogging, I’ve really loved ALL the blogs I’ve discovered.  But I like to think I’ve kinda built relationships with a few bloggers in particular, like Marie at Ramblings of aDaydreamer, Laurie at Bona Fide Reflections, Anna at Literary Exploration, Lisa at Read Me Bookmark Me Love Me, Rebecca at Kindle Fever, Liza at BookCrook Liza, Mimi (who is awesome!) at Mimi Valentine.  And I have to mention Suz at A Soul Unsung.  Suz is one my IRL BFF’s and the reason I started my own book blog.  

2.  Favorite review that you wrote in 2011? 

Probably my review of Shatter Me.  I thought it was way too fangirly, but then Tahereh Mafi herself read it and called it “eloquent.”  I about had heart palpitations.  HEEHEE. I could kick myself for not favorite'ing that Tweet!

3.  Best discussion you had on your blog? 

Unfortunately I didn’t do a lot of discussion posts this year, though with 2012 approaching, that is definitely something I want to start doing more often!  I want to get my followers involved, too!

4.  Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else's blog?

Specifically, I’m blanking on any particular one, but I ALWAYS love reading Rachel (Parajunkee’s) Book Blogging 101 posts and her 101 parties on Twitter.  Rie at Mission to Read’s Blogger Helper posts are also kinda awesome, and I’ve learned SO much from her!  (She was the first blog to feature me!)

5.  Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

I always always have loads of fun participating in the Book Blogging 101 Twitter chats.  And doing IMM has been so much fun this year, getting to show off my pretty new books, doing videos, and seeing what other bloggers have received.

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2011?

Being featured on Parajunkee’s Follow Friday (at Alison Can Read).  I felt so honored to be able to participiate and be featured.  It gave my blog a nice boost, for which I’m still grateful for daily.  I was also jazzed to hit 300 followers this year.  I don’t get to spend as much time as I wish I was able to promoting my blog, so I’m so happy being at 300+.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Definitely my giveaways, which is awesome, because it brings new traffic to my blog.  In 2012, I hope to continue that trend and to also drum up interest in the new features I’m starting: Guest Who (a monthly guest post from a fellow blogger) and Once Upon a Blogger (a monthly interview with a fellow blogger in order to get to know my followers better.) If you'd like to be a part of either of those features, simply send me an email at courageousgrace (at) gmail (dot) com because I'd LOVE to have you!

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

My review of Cinder!  I was SO psyched to read the book, then to share my love for it with the blogging world, and it could use a few comments.  This is a GREAT book, y’all, I promise.  

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

The Book Depository!  They’ve been great so far with my orders.  I use them for giveaways for the free shipping.  I also discovered some new features at Goodreads and started posting reviews at my Amazon.com account.

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I set a goal to read 50 books this year in order to make more time to read and less TV watching/etc.  Unless something changes in the next day or two, I should make that goal, just barely.  I hit two or three massive reading slumps, or I think I definitely would have read more.  My tentative goal for 2012 is to read 75 books.  

Looking Ahead

1. One Book You Didn't Get To In 2011 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2012?

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and The Iron King by Julie Kagawa.  I’ve heard amazing things about both (yes, I cheated a little on the question) and need and want to read them both soon to find out for myself what’s going on with them each. 
2.  Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2012?

Timepiece by Myra McEntire.  Hands down, my most-anticipated.  Emerson is one of the strongest protagonists I’ve ever read about, and Myra just let us in on a Timepiece secret the other day that has me SO SO anxious/excited for the book.  

       3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2012?

I’d love to see my blog continue growing, both in number of followers, but most importantly, in building relationships with those followers.  It means more to me to have a smaller number of people that I KNOW are reading my posts and commenting than 1,000 who click the “follow” button, then never come back. So in 2012 I want to continue reading amazing books, posting quality content, and building my readership. 

{ ++ } If y'all participated in this survey, please leave me a link in case I miss your post so I can come and check yours out!  This was SO much fun! 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Review: Remembrance by Michelle Madow

Remembrance by Michelle Madow
Published: July 27, 2011 (Dreamscape)
Pages: 314
Series: Transcend Time Saga (1)
Final rating: 3 1/2 of 5 stars
Further info: Goodreads | Amazon
Find the author online: Twitter | Website

New Hampshire high school junior Lizzie Davenport has been reincarnated from Regency Era, England ... but she doesn't know it yet.

Then Drew Carmichael transfers into Lizzie's school at the beginning of the year, and she feels a connection to him, almost like she knows him. She can't stop thinking about him, but whenever she tries talking with him about the mysteries behind her feelings, he makes it clear that he wants nothing to do with her. Reaching him is even more difficult because she has a boyfriend, Jeremy, who has started to become full of himself after being elected co-captain of the varsity soccer team, and her flirtatious best friend Chelsea starts dating Drew soon after his arrival. So why can't she seem to get him out of her mind?

Even though Lizzie knows she should let go of her fascination with Drew, the pair of them soon find that fighting fate isn't going to be easy

My Review

I was very curious and also a bit apprehensive about reading Remembrance by Michelle Madow, a book that, by the author's own admission, was at least partially inspired by the Taylor Swift song, "Love Story."  But after I made it a few chapters into Remembrance, I was hooked, proving that authors often find inspiration in the strangest places - and such unorthodox muses can lead to a satisfying pay-off.  

Remembrance introduces us to Lizzie, a junior in high school, whose entire life changes with the start of the new school year.  Lizzie has a huge heart, and cares a great deal about her friends, family, and loved ones, including her boyfriend, Jeremy.  I'll be honest - I spent the majority of the book caught between two warring desires - to either shake or slap Jeremy.  He cares about Lizzie, but the boy is clueless.  He treats her callously at times, and my heart went out to Lizzie, who spends most of the book trying to save a relationship that is clearly not meant to be.  I wanted to hug tender-hearted Lizzie so many times, and I saw a lot of myself in her - her loyalty, her determination to champion a cause, even if it's sometimes lost.  I thought she had a quiet sort of strength, and I admired her a great deal for that.  

Drew was another story entirely though.  Up until about the last fourth of Remembrance, I wasn't sure what his deal was, and that was frustrating.  He was very swoon-worthy, and he seemed like a genuinely awesome guy, until he made a few very non-awesome choices that had me ready to throw something at him.  I understood his motivations in the end, but I think he was unnecessarily cruel sometimes, and the hot-cold-hot-cold thing he had going on (while somewhat justified but also convoluted) took away some of my enjoyment of the book.  

Drew and Lizzie saved Remembrance for me.  I had some other issues - the book felt too short, and the pacing was off here and there, but the absolutely heartfelt connection between Lizzie and Drew (or Elizabeth, as only he calls her, which made me melt), rang so true throughout Remembrance that I'm still thinking about them, and wondering what's in store for them in the sequel.  Michelle Madow has created two characters in Drew and Lizzie with so much potential.  They care so much for one another that it's hard, maybe impossible, NOT to cheer for them.

Remembrance is just what I hoped it would be: fun when it should be, flirty when the moment calls for it, with mysterious twists and turns; sometimes serious and heart-pounding, other times, vivacious.  Michelle Madow has written a thought-provoking debut, which asks the question: what if this is not necessarily our only life, our only chance at happiness? 

Memorable Quote

“But it was time to realize that I wasn't Cinderella, and no matter how hard I wished it were true, life wasn't a fairy tale where everyone lives happily ever after.”

Giveaway: Win Tempest by Julie Cross on Audiobook

Time for Another Once Upon a Prologue Giveaway!

{ ++ }  Thanks to the fabulous, fantastic folks at Macmillan (audio), I get to host a giveaway so that one of you lucky readers will win an audiobook copy of the AMAZING Tempest by Julie Cross.  The giveaway is super simple to enter - all you have to do is leave a comment - and there are two extra entry options....and trust me, from my heart...y'all WANT this book.  You do.  First off, let me show you what you'll be vying for...

The Book

The year is 2009.  Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun.

That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.

Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.

But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler.  Recruit… or kill him.

Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.

The Giveaway

Top Ten Tuesday - #4: Books I Fell in Love with in 2011

{ ++ } Hosted by the girls over at The Broke and the Bookish, this meme features a different theme every week, and hey, it's Tuesday - we've got the rest of the week ahead of us.  We all need a little fun, and who doesn't love the challenge of ranking their top 10 anything...especially when it comes to books?!  I know I do, hence why I thought it'd be fun to participate, and spice things up a little!

My Top 10 Books of 2011

(in no certain order because uh, that's impossible)

1. Cinder by Marissa Meyer: my review.  Cinder is a fantastic and different retelling of Cinderella, a cool, funky, and heartfelt futuristic version.  I absolutely adored the book and cannot wait for the sequel.

2. Hourglass by Myra McEntire: my review.  Oh, Hourglass.  What to say?  One of the first "timeslip" (aka time travel) books I've read, and I am SO glad that I took a chance on reading it after Cait gave it an excellent review.  I was captivated from the first pages, and I devoured Myra's debut novel.  Every couple of days I get all fluttery excited about the upcoming sequel, Timepiece.  Hourglass captured my attention and my heart with a strong, fierce lead female, excellent secondary characters, a fascinating plot, and a sizzling romance. 

3. Saving June by Hannah Harrington: my review. This book was...emotional, hard to read, but SO worth it.  I listened to a song called "Over You" by Miranda Lambert while I was reading it, and between that, and how huge a theme music was to the book, plus the amazing lead character and the depth of emotion in Saving June, I just fell so hard for this book.

4. Tempest by Julie Cross: my review.  GO OUT AND BUY THIS BOOK.  PRE-ORDER IT.  STALK YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE. This is hands-down one of the absolute best books I've read not just in 2011 but...ever.  I laughed out loud.  I cried and cried.  Tempest is one of those rare books you come across every now and again that months after you finish it, you're still thinking about the characters, jonesing for the sequel, and wondering what the next book holds. 

5. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi: my review.  I was lucky enough (read: I ran through the house squee'ing) to win an ARC of this from Tahereh herself on Twitter. The writing style was incredibly gorgeous and Juliette is a beautiful, strong heroine.  To say I'm dying for the sequel is an understatement; Shatter Me has won a place in my heart forever.  The plot is different, the characters are genuine and fascinating.  Read it, y'all.  Please. 

6. Obsidian by Jennifer L Armentrout: my review.  I just adore Jennifer and her ability to write female lead characters that I GET.  First Alex, now Katy, Obsidian boasts a down-to-earth, sympathetic, and awesome lead female, a hot boy-next-door and a fun and twisty plot.  If you haven't read it, you need to. 

7. The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab: my review. One of the spookiest books I've ever read, The Near Witch was unique.  It was part folk-lore, part fantasy.  I really enjoyed it, and am definitely looking forward to Victoria's next novel.  I follow her on Twitter and she is just a joy. 

8. The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell: my review. This book features one of the most beautiful, heart-wrenching romances I believe I've ever come across.  Like Shatter Me, Saundra's writing style is so beautiful and ethereal.  I definitely recommend The Vespertine.  It's a period book and some people I know haven't enjoyed it, but I did.  I'm on pins and needles awaiting the sequel, The Springsweet!

9. Delirium by Lauren Oliver: my review. I'm not sure what to say about Delirium, other than that it was a VERY awesome read...full of danger, romance, and so emotional.  I highly, highly, recommend it to anyone. 

10. Treasure Me by Christine Nolfi: my review. Christine sent me my very first review request, and her debut novel, Treasure Me, was awesome: fun, sarcastic, flirty, mysterious, emotional.  I loved everything about Treasure Me, as well as its author, encouraging, awesome Christine. 

(And two more I CAN'T leave out!)

11. Take This Regret by Amy Lichtenhan: my review.  This book had me in tears so many times ...sometimes that was bad, sometimes it was good.  There was SO much beautiful character growth in Amy's novel that I am still a little swoon-y over Take This Regret.  I look forward to reading anything and everything else that Amy publishes. 

12. The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss: my review.  (My first review here...*cringes*)  But...it's Patrick Rothfuss.  I've never met him, but I adore him.  I read his blog religiously.  I wait anxiously for any tidbits about his books. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cover Reveal: Chosen Ones by Tiffany Truitt

{ ++ } Today I have something to show y'all that I think looks both gorgeous and fascinating.  I'm thrilled to bring y'all a cover reveal for Chosen One, an upcoming YA dystopian novel by Tiffany Truitt.  Read on for the beautiful cover plus synopsis!

What if you were mankind’s last chance at survival?

Sixteen-year-old Tess lives in a compound in what was once the Western United States, now decimated after a devastating fourth World War. But long before that, life as we knew it had been irrevocably changed, as women mysteriously lost the ability to bring forth life. Faced with the extinction of the human race, the government began the Council of Creators, meant to search out alternative methods of creating life. The resulting artificial human beings, or Chosen Ones, were extraordinarily beautiful, unbelievably strong, and unabashedly deadly.

Life is bleak, but uncomplicated for Tess as she follows the rigid rules of her dystopian society, until the day she begins work at Templeton, the training facility for newly created Chosen Ones. There, she meets James, a Chosen One whose odd love of music and reading rivals only her own. The attraction between the two is immediate in its intensity—and overwhelming in its danger.

But there is more to the goings-on at Templeton than Tess ever knew, and as the veil is lifted from her eyes, she uncovers a dark underground movement bent not on taking down the Chosen Ones, but the Council itself. Will Tess be able to stand up to those who would oppress her, even if it means giving up the only happiness in her life?

Chosen Ones by Tiffany Truitt 
Expected publication: April 12, 2012 (Entangled)
Add it to your TBR: Goodreads

Why I'm psyched: How fabulous does this book sound?  I know I can't wait to get my hands on it, because between the heart-pounding synopsis and the beautiful cover, it sounds like a must have.  Plus it's from Entangled, and they are fantastic.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday - #19: Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock

{ ++ }  This weekly event/feature is graciously hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine.  You know that feeling you get when you're browsing upcoming books on Goodreads or Amazon and one strikes your fancy?  Maybe you squee.  Maybe you giggle to yourself.  Maybe you bounce in your seat.  We all get excited (I do a combination of all three of the previous choices...) about new books, be it a favorite author you're familiar with, or someone whose work you'll be reading for the first time.  Jill's meme gives us the chance to spotlight what we are anxiously awaiting this week.

I'm Waiting On...

Mackenzie and Amy were best friends. Until Amy was brutally murdered.

Since then, Mac’s life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac’s hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy’s killer: A white werewolf.

Lupine syndrome—also known as the werewolf virus—is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control.

Wanting desperately to put an end to her nightmares, Mac decides to investigate Amy’s murder herself. She discovers secrets lurking in the shadows of Hemlock, secrets about Amy’s boyfriend, Jason, her good pal Kyle, and especially her late best friend. Mac is thrown into a maelstrom of violence and betrayal that puts her life at risk.

Kathleen Peacock’s thrilling novel is the first in the Hemlock trilogy, a spellbinding urban fantasy series filled with provocative questions about prejudice, trust, lies, and love.

Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock
Further information: Goodreads | Amazon
Expected publication: May 8th, 2012 (HarperCollins Children's Books)

( ++ ) Why this book: First, the cover looks absolutely stunning and gorgeous.  And the plot?  VERY wolfy/urban fantasy, and just has me on the edge of my seat already. 

What's YOUR WOW pick this week?

Monday, December 19, 2011

ARC Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyert

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Pages: 387
Expected publication: January 3rd 2012 (Feiwel & Friends)
Series: Lunar Chronicles (1)
Final Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Further info: Goodreads | Amazon
Find the author online: Twitter | Website

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. 

My Review

In the first chapters of Cinder, debut author Marissa Meyer's intricately woven retelling of Cinderella, we meet Cinder, a cyborg with courage, heart, and spunk.  Meyer does a fantastic job of weaving in elements of the original story - the step-mother and two step-sisters, though one is less wicked than in Cinderella, and a handsome prince.  There's even a ball, which Cinder longs to attend, all the while fearing she won't fit in.  Cinder's vulnerability and the scorn she faces from those who know she is a cyborg rang true and valid throughout the book, and it was how she handled that ridicule and her fear of never finding a place she belonged that immediately endeared Cinder to me.  I connected with her in the opening pages of her story, and at the end of Cinder, I felt a strong kindship with the spirited heroine.  Cinder herself is loyal to those she loves, strong, and no-nonesense at times; she has a huge heart and dreams of escape, of a better life - something surely we can all identify with. 

The plot of Cinder moves along very nicely; I was never bored, and unlike some novels, where scenes are thrown in to pad the bare areas, or stripped to keep the pace clipping along, every word felt like it ought to be savored, and each scene felt as if it played its part and purpose.  In that aspect, this book was what I was looking for - it was a good length, but Marissa Meyer knew when and exactly where to stop in order to leave me hanging. 

The world building was lacking in some ways - World War 4 was alluded to but nothing more - leaving me wondering what happened to the world as we know it, and how New Bejiing rose to power.  The plague constantly worrying the leaders served as an effective ticking timebomb, never giving the reader time to forget the looming threat.  I also wanted to know more about the Lunars, though I suspect they'll continue to play into the sequel/s.  Levana, the Lunar Queen, was ice-cold and probably because I loathed her, I of course wanted to know more about her. 

At time, the similiarties to Cinderella were charming and easy to spot, but never obvious in an annoying way; rather, they added to the story, whether it was advancing the plot, or making a character sympathetic or non-sympathetic.  Marissa Meyer clearly put a great deal of thought and heart into her characters - most of them were very well-fleshed out, and unique.  There were a few whom I wanted to know more about, that I am sincerely hoping we will see a lot more of in the sequel/s. 

One thing that let me down slightly was that early on, I predicted the book's twist, which was somewhat disappointing, especially considering I usually try NOT to think about how a book is going to turn out - I prefer to be surprised.  To me, the twist was very easy to see coming, but that didn't detract much from my enjoyment of the book. Cinder was still a superb read. 

Marissa Meyer knows how to write a book, plain and simple.  Relationships were explored, her characters have genuine and fascinating voices and personalities, even though Cinder's point of view was the only one we saw.  We have villians, and quirky robots, a fun menagerie of non-stereotypes.  The interaction between Kai and Cinder left me wanting so much more, and while there was not much romance, there was enough of a bond developing between them in a slow-burn, that I was hanging on the edge of my seat during their scenes.  The two of them fascinate me, and I especially look forward to learning more about Prince Kaito. 

Overall, Marissa Meyer's stunningly driven retelling of Cinderella, CINDER, is a fascinating twist on a beloved classic, managing to at once remind the reader of the age-old rags-to-riches story while breathing new life into the children's tale, bringing it into a new demographic.  I finished Cinder over the course of about two nights, and I simply had to keep reading, in order to know what happened next to our heroine, whom I deeply admired.  Cinder and its characters will stay with me, making the wait until the sequel, titled (for now) Scarlett, oh-so-long.   


In accordance with FTC guidelines, I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  No money or compensation of any sort exchanged hands.   I review books with no intention of monetary gain; rather, I review books out of my love of reading.