follow friday (28)

Q: The new year is here - and everyone wants to know your New Years blogging resolution! What are you going to try to revise, revamp, and redo for 2012 on your blog?

There are a few things that I want to do with my blog next year. The first is that I want to be better at scheduling posts in advance. Usually I write posts just before I publish them, which is handy as far as stream of consciousness goes, but it can also put me behind if school becomes too busy. So I've bought a fabulously geeky calendar (alll about [scientific] elements!) that I've written out for January and the beginning of February. I'm hoping this puts me in the right frame of mind.

I also would like to do more in-depth posts for things such as characters, favorites quotes, and cover trend discussion (girls in dresses!). Because I'm so interested in dystopia, I think I'm going to start a series discussing the genre further as a whole. These types of posts are ones I'm rather looking forward to.

Those are the big ones, I think! What about you guys?

review: the probability of miracles by wendy wunder

Author: Wendy Wunder
Publication Date: 12/08/2011
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 347
Source: ARC (Thank you so kindly to Razorbill/Penguin for sharing!)

Dry, sarcastic, sixteen-year-old Cam Cooper has spent the last seven years in and out hospitals. The last thing she wants to do in the short life she has left is move 1,500 miles away to Promise, Maine - a place known for the miraculous events that occur there. But it's undeniable that strange things happen in Promise: everlasting sunsets; purple dandelions; flamingoes in the frigid Atlantic; an elusive boy named Asher; and finally, a mysterious envelope containing a list of things for Cam to do before she dies. As Cam checks each item off the list, she finally learns to believe - in love, in herself, and even in miracles.

For the past seven years, Cam has been defined by her cancer. Hospitals, treatments, holistic trips her mother hears of to heal her. She met her best friend, Lily, at a summer camp for kids with cancer. Her rebellious and carefree personality, affected by repeatedly hearing that she's getting worse and not better. Growing up in Orlando, living, breathing, and working at Disney World, she's used to a sugar-coated world that's not quite what it seems. And then her mother packs Cam and her sister, Perry, up for a move to Promise, Maine. Promise, a place where miracles happen. But can Cam believe in miracles?

This book will break your heart and make you laugh at the same time. Reading a book about someone so young with cancer is devastating, yet there's hope. Hope that Cam will be able to cross some items off of her Flamingo List, hope that maybe there's something to the idea of getting out of Florida and into an entirely fresh environment. Cam's easygoing sister, Perry, makes friends right off the bat while Cam is content to sit inside, bundled against the cooler Maine summer, and watch old movies. The setting, for Cam, is strange and slightly too perfect in a way that completely differs from Orlando - here the people and places are real, and perhaps that's what eventually sparks her interest. She's trading one definition of 'real' for another, but this time she can interact with the denizens.

I really enjoyed Cam as a character mainly because I can identify with her dry humor and healthy sense of sarcasm. While I think that some of that stems from before her diagnosis, a lot of it seems to be a defense mechanism that's evolved from her cancer. She simply doesn't have the time, she thinks, so where is the point in dressing up her words? My favorite thing about her is the view she had regarding her Flamingo List. Originally seemingly willing to do whatever necessary to cross items off, she finds that perhaps some things aren't as important as they once seemed. And others? Well, they crop up unexpectedly.

Cam meets Asher in Promise, who is a local going back generations. Though Asher is charismatic and well-known, his interactions in Cam's life becomes an interesting side story that meshes well with her own. Though Perry is the outgoing child, Cam fails to realise the impact that she has on people's lives. Impulsive, thoughtful, and honest, her decisions have a far-reaching impact that she only begins to see after the fact. Asher believes that Promise is his future and can see no other option. Cam knows when not to agree so easily. Toss in Cam's mother Alicia, and a cast of characters from both Orlando and Promise and you've got a memorable cast for a memorable summer.

The Probability of Miracles may not be an easy read, but it's one that I can heartily recommend. From flamingos to pet lobsters to mistakes and realisations, this is a book full of heart and courage and hints that decisions may not come so readily, but that there is a possibility of miracles.

waiting on wednesday (30)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event courtesy of Breaking the Spine
that showcases much anticipated upcoming releases.

from goodreads: 01/13/2012
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.
One of the things that's most appealing to me here is Ember's age paired with the fact that it mentions that she's old enough to know a different time, indicating that this is in the beginning era of a dystopian government. Aside from a good dystopian (and characters), what I love the most about a book is a great set-up. I love knowing the inner workings of something, and that sort of before-and-after comparison. Getting to know the why behind the what makes me ridiculously happy. I've been staring at this one on my Goodreads list forever now and am sort of thrilled that the release date is so soon!

top ten tuesdays! (14)

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. If you love lists
and wracking your brain for answers, then this is the meme for you!

Top Ten Favorite Books That I Read In 2011: (in no particular order - 'r' denotes review)
01. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (r): I've talked a lot about this book, but there's so many reasons that I love it. The topics (water, horses), the writing (her writing methodology, descriptions, and characters inspire my writing), and the package as a whole. Sean Kendrick is a favorite.
02. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (r): How do you talk about a book like this? It's amazing in ways that I would never have been able to come up with myself. It's magical and inviting and paints the circus in a way that even someone who doesn't like them much can fall completely in love with it. I own both the hardback and the audiobook, and whatever format you choose, it's amazing. (Jim Dale narrates the audiobook.)
03. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (r): This book is perfect. Karou is such a strong female character, but not in a way that ignores emotional reactions as can be generalised in fiction. Everything in this book meshes together in such a cohesive yet totally unpredictable way that I remain in awe of Laini's imagination and skill. 
04. Unwind by Neal Shusterman (r): Everyone needs to read this book. Neal has a way of humanising his books (and characters) in just the right way that hits somewhere inside of you and leaves a lasting imprint. I will never forget this story.
05. Stay by Deb Caletti (r): While this is a book about the development of an abusive relationship and its aftermath, the way everything builds up and its aftermath is handled so realistically that I had to shake my head every now and again and pull myself out of the story. Another one where the stylistic writing really makes everything else.
06. Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson (r): Though this book has a personal meaning for me, the story itself stands on its own two feet and offers an unpredictable story with an ending I would never have guessed. A bit of fresh air.
07. Divergent by Veronica Roth: Although I still haven't written a review for this one (I plan on re-reading and doing so over winter break), I loved it. I loved Tris and I loved learning about a Chicago I've never been to and, hopefully, never will go to. The action, the growth, the character interaction - I liked everything about it.
08. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (r): The writing here was absolutely fantastic for me. I know that it won't work for everyone, but it really showcased to me that different styles can work if they're polished and supported by a great story and characterisation. While reading I kept on taking pictures of the book with my phone to remember passages that stood out to me.
09. Variant by Robison Wells (r): A boarding school story with a wicked twist right off the bat, and where the twists kept on coming. I had no idea what was going on in places, but the mystery actually worked in favor as the reader is more and more able to figure things out while the author surprises you with other things. And that ending! 
10. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: I read both Anna and Lola this year, and I'd held off on reading Anna solely due to the title and the cover. I couldn't get past it, but then I finally read it and absolutely fell in love with everything about it. My advice for this would be: don't have the same title bias that I did because this one will blow you away. 

Runners up: (I had a hard time not putting them on the list.)
Bruiser by Neal Shusterman: Amazing. I couldn't truly love Unwind because of its subject matter, but I loved this one. Like most of this books, I haven't read something quite like this and it hits you in an unexpected way.
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (r): Aria, Perry, and a cast of fabulous secondary characters with a mysterious post-apocalyptic background make this book a treat to read.
The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab (r): Another book where the writing is lyrical, creating a world that you have to blink a few times to step back from. This is one I'd recommend reading in one go - the uninterrupted descriptions and setting make this story even more engrossing.

follow friday (27)

Q: If you had to spend eternity inside the pages of a book, which book would you choose and why?

I have to thank and give kudos to J.K. Rowling for creating a place where I would happily live forever. I think I'd have to borrow Hermione's Time-Tuner because in order to really experience that world I think you need to start from the bottom up, which means the whole moment of receiving your Hogwarts letter, riding the Hogwarts Express, taking the boat with Hagrid - these things create such a vivid foundation for the rest of your life there.

I'm trying to think of realistic longevity here; as much as I love The Hunger Games and The Scorpio Races, I can't see myself there for eternity. Too dangerous or teeny for me. So I'd have to say I'd also probably choose to be an Outsider in Under the Never Sky. I'd have a bit of Aria's adjustment period, but I think I could absolutely get used to living with nature like Perry does. I love wrapping my mind around the idea of it.

Eternity is an awfully long time. Where would you go?

Author: Veronica Rossi
Publication Date: 01/03/2012
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 374
Source: ARC

Since she’d been on the outside, she’d survived an Aether storm, she’d had a knife held to her throat, and she’d seen men murdered. This was worse.
Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland—known as The Death Shop—are slim. If the cannibals don’t get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She’s been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He’s wild—a savage—and her only hope of staying alive.
A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile—everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria’s help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.
Note: The above summary is taken from HarperTeen directly as I feel the Goodreads one is too lengthy, and gives too much away.

The people who survive live in pods, Dwellers, spending the majority of their time visiting virtual realms to escape the redundancy of never being able to travel. Aria, having accepted a risk in order to find out information about the whereabouts of her mother, decides to explore abandoned pods with a group of friends. One thing leads to another and her risk turned into an adventure that she could have never been prepared for. Life outside the pod is vivid, visceral and nothing like the realms depicted. Angry with herself, the people who shunned her, and the Outsiders she has to deal with in order to survive, Aria comes to realise there's more than one definition to life.

I really enjoyed this book for a handful of reasons. The biggest one being Veronica Rossi's skill in world-building. This just as easily could have been a book that you've felt you've read before a thousand times with tropes here (post-apocalyptic pod living) and there (insider/outsider). For the first 20 or so pages I was uneasy, wondering where it was going. But there was just the right amount of information in the right spots that enables the reader to make educated guesses about the rest, and just enough not to throw them off or want to put the book down.

Secondly is characterisation. Characters, for me, are the most important bit of a story. If I can't love the characters, or if they can't make me believe in them, then it's difficult for everything else to shine. I wasn't sure about Aria at first - she was sullen and angry and I was having a hard time reconciling her dislike for the outside that's inherent from having lived inside all your life. Then she would make these small movements that really allowed me to feel as if she were exploring nature for the first time. The realms could never depict the variety and striations of mineral rocks, so Aria is enamored with the sheer amount of possibility that the environment produces. She asks about snow and clouds and flowers, all things she's never been able to experience. Truthfully, I hadn't expected her to endear herself to me as much as she had, but nothing about her exploration seemed forced which made the entire story work.

Aria's traveling companion is Perry, an Outsider. There's very little interaction between Dwellers and Outsiders and so there is little trust between the two, each skeptical of each other's intentions and way of living. Perry isn't the broody, lean-y type with arched eyebrows. He's quiet and blunt and completely unsure of the situation. Perry has his goals, which happen to coincide with Aria's for a period, and so they're able to help each other. Time breaks down stereotypes and the interactions between them become more easy and honest. I had a difficult time getting these two out of my head after I finished the book.  Their story wasn't effortless, but instead came with push and pull at a natural pace with a result that made me fall in love with their ease and sense of comfort.

One of the things I liked most is that the secondary characters were also really well-developed even for the short amount of time that some of them were seen. Fleshed out and real, they helped to describe Aria and Perry more than the two did themselves and it enabled me to understand the situation from a different light. Under the Never Sky is a post-apocalyptic story that works because of its characters and swift storytelling that helps you get lost in the setting. I didn't realise it was a series until I finished it, but these are people I can't wait to know more about.

waiting on wednesday (29)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event courtesy of Breaking the Spine
that showcases much anticipated upcoming releases.

 from goodreads: 08/28/2012
A powerful debut novel about the gray space between truth and perception.

Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Being branded a cheater would be bad enough, but Quinn is deemed a traitor, and shunned by all of her friends. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s serving in Afghanistan and revered by everyone in their small, military town.

Quinn could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets that she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. And when Carey goes MIA, Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend…and her promise.

This has the promise to be a powerful book. Thankfully, the early reviews are fantastic, as I feel that tackling a subject like this will fall on one end of the spectrum - either it's great, or it tries hard to be great. I like the monochrome cover depicting shades of grey, with the red for the title, almost like it's Quinn's own personal scarlet letter. Lately I've been really interested in good contemps, and so I'm excited about this one.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. If you love lists
and wracking your brain for answers, then this is the meme for you!

I'm baaaaack! 

Top Ten Books For The Holidays:
01. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor: I have the ARC for this one, but I want it as a sexy hardback. My very own copy to gaze happily at on my bookshelf. (I do this, but out of complete book love.)
02. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater: You might say, why kaye, you already have this book! And to that I'd nod, but emphasize just how much I absolutely adore it. We might have to have quote time soon, and I'd pick a lot from this (and Shatter Me). In any case, I love the UK cover and would love to have a copy of it.
03. Legend by Marie Lu: This is the book I'd promise myself I could would purchase after finals. Well, my last exam is in January, but there's no way I'm waiting until then. It's dystopian. I'm thrilled.
04. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith: Aside from dreams of Insurgent ARCs, this is a book that I have been dying to read. I love airports. I love the title. I love the possibility of it. My heart gets all warm with the thought. I'm allowed one unrealistic choice, right?
05. Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys: This is one I've been meaning to read for months and the book stars never aligned properly for me to do so.
06. Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar: I feel like I've experienced loving this through the enthusiasm of others. I want to read it for myself, and I have to figure out how to make that happens.
07. Larkstorm by Dawn Rae Miller: After just finishing Under the Never Sky, the plots sound somewhat similar, but I enjoyed the former so much that I still want to read Larkstorm. I want to explore different possibilities within the similarity.
08. Anything in sequential order by Cinda Williams Chima. The covers have me hooked, and I don't even know what the books are about. Which series should be read first?
09. Anything by Aussie authors. Okay, so I know this is getting a little ridiculous, but I haven't read Raw Blue, I haven't Melina Marchetta, Cath Crowley, and I have The Book Thief on my shelf but haven't read it yet. (I did read the first couple in the Tomorrow series, though, and just couldn't make it work.)
10. Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins: Been in my mental queue for ages, but a friend just reviewed it on Goodreads which reminded me of it altogether. And, well, it's Suzanne Collins. I'm a believer.

I started this post on a Tuesday, but it takes me so long to hem and haw over just which books I should pick that it's now Wednesday. Technicalities!

review: a million suns by beth revis

Author: Beth Revis
Publication Date: 01/10/2012
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 387
Source: ARC

Godspeed was once fueled by lies. Now it is ruled by chaos. It’s been three months. In that time, Amy has learned to hide who she is. Elder is trying to be the leader he’s always wanted to be. But as the ship gets more and more out of control, only one thing is certain: They have to get off the ship.
Note: This summary is borrowed from Beth Revis' website, as the one available on Goodreads at the time of writing was questionable. This review will contain spoilers from Across the Universe.

Amy is the only human aboard Godspeed born on Earth. Elder is the only one among the shipborn that can lead the masses. Despite the differences between the two, they have one thing in common: figuring out what each other means, and reaching Centauri-Earth. But a ship the size of Godspeed harbors secrets, secrets that could change the very foundation for everything they've been working toward. And sometimes you don't know the answer you're looking for until you find the right questions.

It's only fair to start off by saying that while I liked Across the Universe, there were quite a few things evident that prevented me from really enjoying it. Some of these things were addressed in A Million Suns, some were not. In the former while I had difficulty wrapping my mind around the concept of Seasons, the biggest issue was the relationship between Amy and Elder, or rather, lack thereof. There was nothing given to explain any sort of attraction between the two nor why Elder would have been watching her. While there was nothing in A Million Suns that spoke on this, it almost felt that the views and information that we were getting from the two of them allowed for a more understanding perspective of their relationship. When Amy noted at one point that she wasn't sure if they were gravitating toward each other due to them being the only teenagers on the ship or out of true attraction, I found myself nodding emphatically. For the point to be acknowledged made all the difference in my being able to accept what was happening. So, while I'm not quite sure why they like each other, their being together on some level worked much better here.

My favorite part of the book is getting to figure out a mystery that we are presented with pretty early on. I hadn't any guess as to what was going on until just before it actually happened and then I found myself excited for the characters to be able to see for themselves. The part where they do is so beautifully formatted and written that I found myself smiling, trying to imagine just how it must have felt like for such a discovery. Leading up until this, and even afterwards, is the continued alternating perspective of Amy and Elder, which, personally, worked much better in espousing information in this book. Now that we have a better sense of them, it was interesting to see the decisions they made and being able to see what the other thought and their response. I think that of the two of them, I find myself liking Elder best. He's fairly level-headed and practical, but isn't afraid to do what needs to be done - but in the right manner. While Amy isn't my favorite female MC, her curiosity and intuition here serve the story well, and she and Elder balance each other out.

If you had some trouble with the first book, A Million Suns is definitely worth a second try. It tackles some issues you might have had, and presents a whole new take on Amy, Elder and the ship that is both interesting and quite addicting. I picked this book up and finished it all in the span of a few hours. While it doesn't end on a complete cliffhanger, it leaves you in a position where you wish you had the next installment in order to figure out what's going to happen.

be back soon!

Hi, folks! Just writing to say that I'm definitely still here, but that school has been intense and I've had very little time in between school and work to be as participatory as I would have liked. I do have some reviews scheduled - one for Beth Revis' A Million Suns will be coming up later this week, and one for Truth by Julia Karr will be posted later this month.

My finals end on Monday, so after that I will be a reading maniac and I am so thrilled about it. (I've been seriously eyeing Marie Lu's Legend at Posman's as I promised myself it will be my after-finals read; it's been soooo hard to not start it early! Dystopian? Yes, please!) There are a ton of review books that I have for this month and January, another giveaway will be coming sometime soon, and return of all the fun memes I participate in.

I've missed you guys and blogging something fierce. It's a lot of work - hard work - but I love it and you.

Thanks for being amazing and for helping me make this a place I can't wait to get back to. For all of my fellow students - good luck on your exams. To everyone else, keep being awesome! :)

in my mailbox (30)

In My Mailbox, hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, allows us to share our
current reads, and books we've received/checked out/purchased over the course of the week.

Shift, Jeri Smith-Ready
Shatter Me, Tahereh Mafi (review)

Thanks to some great Black Friday deals, free shipping, and a coupon I was able to get some books. The hardcover of Shatter Me is too pretty to pass up, and I want to support Tahereh by purchasing the final copy. (Love, loved this book.) And Shade is one I read a few months back and found the premise really interesting, and just wasn't able to get Shift until now. I've already read it and am unsure how I feel about it. I want to like it, but I have some issues. I might write a non-review post about the things it brings up.

Also, don't forget my giveaway of two ebooks of Mistakes!

What's in your mailbox this week, friends? :)

giveaway! mistakes by a.m. hayward & l.j. holder!

Giveaway time!

As a part of the TWCS blog tour you lucky folks are eligible for one of two e-book versions of Mistakes! The giveaway is open internationally and you do not have to be a follower to enter. This time around I'm trying out Rafflecopter, so let me know if you have any issues at all. There will be some easy extra entries, but only do as much as you want. (Trust me, I'm not a big fan of having to sell your firstborn to enter a giveaway.)

I started the giveaway for 12.01am today so that you could enter right away if you want, and it will stay open until 12.01am on 12/13 (the last day of classes for me) so that I can properly contact the winners.

If you missed it, here is my review of the book. Enjoy, everyone, and good luck!

Author: A.M. Hayward and L.J. Holder
Publication Date: 04/28/2011
Publisher: The Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing House
Pages: 203
Source: Publisher

Everyone makes them. We are only human.
Some of our mistakes are small... like the times you stay up till 2 am studying for a test that you end up failing because you are too tired to think. 
Others are so catastrophic that they change your life - forever.

Maddison regrets not listening to her parents, not being a 'good girl' and not staying at home like she was supposed to instead of sneaking off with her friends for a Spring Break getaway. How she wishes she could turn back time; then maybe she wouldn't be in the nightmare she is in now. Kidnapped and taken to a different country unaware of where she is or what these men want with her. Maddy's parents can't help her, in fact they aren't even aware she is in Mexico. Who can save her? Or can she save herself?
Maddy Turner, having been raised in a middle class family, attends a wealthy private Texas high school thanks to her mother being a teacher there. Surrounded by debutante balls and designer clothing, Maddy exists in a world that she thinks she'll never understand. Niggling inside her is a small piece that wants to be swept away just for one night, to not have to worry about finances or having to be the perfect student in order to get a college scholarship. That is, until a series of circumstances lands her in a place darker than she could have imagined.

As a human rights student particularly interested in human trafficking the existence of this book does a lot for me on a multitude of levels and is something I feel strongly about. This is not, nor will it ever be, an easy subject. Yet it exists and it happens a lot closer to home than you might expect. Maddy is not a vapid girl. She's an honor student, tutors fellow students, and participates in extracurricular activities. But she is a teenager and she is vulnerable, and at times, confused. Although her best friend, Aimee, is a part of the elite circle of her school, Maddy is always on the outside on some level. So when Aimee invites her to her first debutante ball to get a glimpse of what they're like, Maddy jumps at the chance. This is a typical reaction for someone; people are curious beings - we want to explore the unknown and we want to be included. Maddy's always dreamt of a Cinderella story of her own, and when she finally gets it following the events of the ball, she no longer wants it.

Something I liked the most about this book is the way it was written. It had a slight awkwardness and uncertainty about it, not from the authors but from the fact that the main character is a teenage girl. The words exuded descriptions and reactions that I would expect from someone her age and that made the story flow much more easily for me. When she meets Jack she's literally overwhelmed with the idea that someone could be interested in her, however I believe that she would have eventually worked things out for herself. The other half of my appreciating the realism, however, is that there were some moments that had me questioning how things would unfold. As a reader and a reviewer I'm not in a position to be judging how people would react during captivity, especially if the person in question were being sexually abused while held. I've studied the effects of solitary torture, but nothing like Maddy's situation.

While in confinement Maddy meets a prisoner, Dalton, being held for ransom. They share a cell as a form of coercion: if Maddy misbehaves Dalton will be punished and vice versa. In order to stay sane they tell each other stories about themselves, their family and friends - anything to remain themselves. Over the course of their confinement they become friends and eventually form a relationship. The issue here isn't completely over age (she is 18, Dalton is 27), although that is a factor. It's also over the healthiness of the situation and the way it's framed. For me, while I was okay with the idea of Dalton, some of his words reminded me like something that Jack might have said. There wasn't enough of a delineation between their speech ("my sweet Maddy") and that threw me off. It was important to me that Maddy be able to differentiate between the two of them, and not just want a replacement, and while I don't think she's quite there yet, she's on the right path.

Mistakes is a fast-paced, realistic story that spotlights the real dangers of human trafficking. Reading this made me not just invested in the characters, but also invested in them as people. I cringed and cried and was angry because while this is fiction, it's very much not. This is a hard story to read. It may not be perfect, but a lot of good things aren't, and it's absolutely worth the read. As a note, I don't usually issue warnings, but for parents this is a story that involves sexual abuse and real world issues. A quick, impacting read that's left me waiting to know the fates of those involved.

An aside: If you are looking to find out more information about this topic please check out Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn and the International Justice Mission.

This post is a part of the TWCS YA Blog tour! Check out their website to see other books, guest posts, and reviews featured on the tour.

in my mailbox (29)

In My Mailbox, hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, allows us to share our
current reads, and books we've received/checked out/purchased over the course of the week.

For review:
Truth (XVI #2), Julia Karr
Kevin's Point of View, Del Shannon

While I wasn't fully in love with XVI as much as I thought I'd be, so far I've heard that Truth is an improvement on it. I still really like the idea and am hoping that this will be the one to pull me back into the series. And thank you to Del Shannon for a copy of the first middle grade book to be reviewed here - it sounds like a lot of fun!

I didn't think I had any books this week mainly because I've worked all weekend (including Friday) and so got home so late that I neglected to check the mailbox until just before. You can expect a review for Truth within the next week as well as something else fun within the next couple of days. Although I'm drowning in both work and school work, I'm still trying to keep up as best I can. :)

I hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving/weekend (if you're not in America)!

waiting on wednesday (28)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event courtesy of Breaking the Spine
that showcases much anticipated upcoming releases.

goodreads: 02/02/2012
When sixteen-year-old Faye arrives at Holbrook Academy, she doesn’t expect to find herself exactly where she needs to be. After years of strange waking visions and nightmares, her only comfort the bones of dead animals, Faye is afraid she’s going crazy. Fast.

But her first night at Holbrook, she feels strangely connected to the school and the island it sits on, like she’s come home. She’s even made her first real friends, but odd things keep happening to them. Every morning they wake on the floors of their dorm rooms with their hands stained red.

Faye knows she’s the reason, but what does it all mean? The handsome Kel tries to help her unravel the mystery, but Faye is certain she can’t trust him; in fact, he may be trying to kill her—and the rest of the world too.

Rich, compelling writing will keep the pages turning in this riveting and tautly told psychological thriller.
I've been excited for this one for awhile now with only the excuse of there are so many good books coming that I haven't featured it earlier. I mean, look at that cover! I wonder if it will be glossy or matte, or maybe glossy in the middle and matte edges. I love the red satin ribbon around her eyes, and that she's wearing a dress but we can't see it flowing in the background. Anyway, any story set in a school has me at hello. But an island and maybe water? Well, I'm sold. I've heard good things about it so far and I can't wait to get my hands on it. :)

in my mailbox (28)

In My Mailbox, hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, allows us to share our
current reads, and books we've received/checked out/purchased over the course of the week.

Scored, Lauren McLaughlin
Darker Still, Leanna Renée Hieber

Somehow I totally forgot to mention these last week when I got Bunheads*, but I also picked these guys up at the Stages on Pages tour. Lauren totally talked me into Scored (and there'll be a mini-review coming up for it) as it's about a dystopia in its formative stages, really interesting. That's the sort of build-up that I love. Also picked up, well, two curious copies of Darker Still. You might wonder why. You might be wondering if I'll have a giveaway. And you'd be right if you thought yes. Keep an eye out for that soonish. :)

Other than that, I haven't really been reading too much lately, as it's just about final paper writing time and crazy things are happening. Winter break, I cannot wait for thee! What's in your mailboxes, friends?

*You can find a mini-review here.

follow friday (26)

Q: Letter to Santa: Tell Santa what books you want for the holidays!
Letters to Santa are usually wholly unrealistic, no? So let me be a bit whimsical, and then, maybe a tad more realistic. I'd love to magically receive an ARC of Insurgent by Veronica Roth because, well, I'm totally in love with this series, it's one of my favorites. And maybe The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight - I'm a sucker, what can I say? It sounds awesome.

Back in the land of reality, I think I'd try for Shift by Jeri Smith-Ready as I rather enjoyed the concept of Shade (but found Logan slightly annoying) and have been meaning to figure out where things go but just haven't gotten around to it yet. Anything by Melina Marchetta as I've heard that she is amazing but haven't actually read anything by her yet. (Is On the Jellicoe Road a good place to start?)

This is getting dangerous. But you see where I'm going with this. I reckon it's fun to be a bit silly every now and then. :)

waiting on wednesday (27)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event courtesy of Breaking the Spine
that showcases much anticipated upcoming releases.

 from goodreads: 02/16/2012
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.
I have no idea why this hasn't been a WoW pick for me before now as the cover and title scream dystopian and, well, as you all know, there's nothing I love more than a good dystopian novel. I've heard such amazing things about it and sadly missed getting a copy at NYCC and so I've been pining for it ever since. Can't wait! :)

in my mailbox (27)

In My Mailbox, hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, allows us to share our
current reads, and books we've received/checked out/purchased over the course of the week.

Bunheads, Sophie Flack

I saw Sophie speak at the Stages on Pages tour on Friday and I love how she explained the cover as the corps de ballet being something that looks like one girl multiplied over and over again, as sort of losing your identity. Anyhow, somewhat thankfully it's a slow book week as I have a huge back log to be pouring through interspersed with final paper drafting!

Anything fun in your mailboxes?

mini-review: bunheads by sophie flack

Author: Sophie Flack
Publication Date: 10/10/2011
Publisher: Poppy
Pages: 294
Source: Purchased (Thanks to the Stages on Pages tour, it's signed!)

"My name is Hannah Ward. Don't call me a ballerina."

Hannah, a senior member of the corps de ballet of the Manhattan Ballet, vaguely remembers a time before she started dancing. Those were the times she could watch movies with her parents on the couch eating popcorn and those times were years ago. Now Hannah spends the majority of her life at the studio practicing and performing, hoping that she'll be made a soloist. That's what she wants - isn't it?

That Hannah doesn't get to do normal things can be summed up in the fact that she's been trying to get through Frankenstein for over a year. She reconciles this with the knowledge that she is a dancer, and dancers have to make sacrifices. This can't be any more apparent when she meets Jacob, a normal college student, and they begin the first friendship Hannah's had outside of her peers. What I liked most about her interactions with Jacob is that they highlight how she is socially unsure of herself and of what to do in everyday situations. This meeting starts a chain of awareness within herself, forcing Hannah to evaluate her life. Sophie really did a fantastic job of getting across how tough the life of a dancer is and how far removed they can be from what you might consider an average life. While I don't know any ballet terms except for perhaps plié, the terminology blended nicely into the flow of the action and I never once questioned what was going on. If you're aware of the lingo then you might better appreciate just how hard they're being pushed, but if you don't I wouldn't worry about it too much, as you can get the feel of it by the scene.

Bunheads is a fast-paced, realistic story about choice and dedication and how they interrelate. Whether or not you like dance, this is a book full of rich characterisations and situations that almost anyone can relate to on some level.

review: the scorpio races by maggie stiefvater

Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publication Date: 10/18/2011
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 404
Source: Purchased

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

Thisby Island is unique in many ways, but is most well-known for the Scorpio Races: an event that happens every November and is a race between man, horse, and sea that is every bit as brutal and unpredictable as the people and their mounts that participate. Puck Connolly had sworn off any interaction with the races until she's left without an option. Sean Kendrick is the sea personified and wouldn't have it any other way than to enter, but this year it means more than any other. The island has its way with people, and this November it's a fight to the end.

I want to honestly say that I'm hard-pressed on where to begin with this. It's taken me a week to finish The Scorpio Races when normally I would have finished it in a few hours. 100% of that delay was me wanting to drag it out word by page by perspective so that it would never end. Perhaps a little background is necessary in why I feel so strongly about it. The first promise I ever remember making is to my mom, in the way that children do, that when she won the lottery she would buy me a horse. I read Black Beauty over and over until the copy was worn out, but I wouldn't let anyone throw it away. My favorite place is anywhere that I can be in the water, but specifically on the ocean. There is absolutely nothing like it: the sounds, smells, texture of the sand and the surf washing over your feet, the way the sun sets and rises and glimmers. I love water. Thus the fact that every time I read a sentence in this book I felt like it had been written specifically for me.

I knew Maggie was a ridiculously talented writer after reading Shiver, but this book is in a different league. From the very fist sentence I was hooked as Sean Kendrick watched the capail usice run across the beach, already critical of what was happening in the quiet, knowing way that he has. Despite not knowing anything about what was happening it set up perfectly my wanting to find out everything that I could, and all of that was laid out as the story progressed. One of the best things about the book - and is something that effects the way everything happens - is that the island, aside from being just a setting, is very much a character in the story. Thisby has moods that influence the weather, its history has affected the traditions of the people, and its relative size means that the population has to socialise much closely together than they might have elsewhere.

Here's where I would normally tell you more about the characters, but, really, I want that to be something you experience for yourselves while reading. As a whole, though, all of the characters in the book were so well crafted and each one was absolutely necessary - there's no fluff here. Puck is strong, earnest, blunt, but quite perceptive. She doesn't give up, and she doesn't believe she should have to. Her two brothers, Gabe and Finn have such strong personalities even when they're not present that you might think they have more 'screen time' then they actually do. (This is not a bad thing. I loved Finn in particular.) But I have to say that Sean Kendrick steals the show for me. From this book alone he's catapulted into my top 5 favorite characters and it's almost hard to describe why. Sean is a man of few words, but not in what you might consider a typical broody, leaning against the wall with smoldering eyes sort of way. He's honest, doesn't need much to live on, but he feels so intensely that it's difficult for him to interpret what it could mean.

The interactions with Puck and Sean in this book had me in tears and smiling huge because they never had to yell it out or say it in big speeches or acts. It was gradual and so, so believable. Maggie's beautiful descriptive writing created two characters and made them real.

The Scorpio Races is a book that I will recommend to anyone simply because it has so much to offer. If you love characters? This book is for you. Mythical creatures? Water? Horses? Still for you. From the first sentence to the last this book is, page by page, full of emotions and adventure for you to experience. Just read it slowly, because it will end faster than you'd like.

waiting on wednesday (26)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event courtesy of Breaking the Spine
that showcases much anticipated upcoming releases.

 from goodreads: 02/16/2012
Colby and Bev have a long-standing pact: graduate, hit the road with Bev's band, and then spend the year wandering around Europe. But moments after the tour kicks off, Bev makes a shocking announcement: she's abandoning their plans - and Colby - to start college in the fall.

But the show must go on and The Disenchantments weave through the Pacific Northwest, playing in small towns and dingy venues, while roadie- Colby struggles to deal with Bev's already-growing distance and the most important question of all: what's next?

Morris Award—finalist Nina LaCour draws together the beauty and influences of music and art to brilliantly capture a group of friends on the brink of the rest of their lives.
I really love books with exploratory themes like this, mainly because they're about people who are students, unsure what to do with their lives and really don't know which next steps will bring them where. Sometimes I feel like I still am one (very large step) step in, one step out of that world and so I can understand it pretty well. That said, there has been some amazing talk about this book, and I love the cover with its muted, faded tones and font that looks like it could have been part of her shirt. Very much looking forward to this one!

What are you guys looking forward to?

NaNoWriMo(nday) 1

Words Written: 10,000 / 50,000
Day: 7

Since I began NaNo I've been hemming and hawing over whether to talk about it here. Then I saw that Casey and some others have been doing status updates and so I'm going to chime in as well.

This is my first year doing NaNo, and really, my first year seriously writing. While writing (fiction) in some form or another is something that I've been doing for as long as I can remember I never really had any one thing that I wanted to sincerely share with people. But last year I was struck with an idea and immediately took heaps of notes; most of them were recorded as I had so many ideas in my head that my hand couldn't keep up with everything I wanted to get out before it slipped away. And that was it. My idea floundered between the pages of my notebook and that was it.

Until a friend of mine mentioned that she was gearing up again for NaNo and I promptly marched to Barnes & Noble, bought a moleskine. I was prepared. Spotify on, notebook open... I wrote and wrote. 

I've seen posts where people have battled internally over how terrible their writing is or that their story idea is crap. I have those moments, too - the other day in particular it was quite bad. And then I remember that Stephanie Perkins and Erin Morgenstern both had their stories born from plugging along during NaNo. Every time I think of that it gives me hope, that I have a goal, and that I can achieve it.

And so I write. I don't write equal amounts every day due to coursework or what have you but I make sure I get something out, just to keep going. It's hard. But everything is, and, for me, it's worth the effort.

To everyone that's doing NaNo (and equally to those who aren't but are still writing in earnest):
You are amazing. You were amazing beforehand and you are undertaking something crazy and wonderful and we can only be better for it. I wish you much luck, and feel free to talk to me on Twitter/e-mail/here somewhere about anything because we're all in a fun, rocky boat together. And we'll make it through.

review: shatter me by tahereh mafi

Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publication Date: 11/15/2011
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 342
Source: ARC

Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war-- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.
Dark and darker are the two colors that comprise Juliette's life. The light that streams in through the window can't quite shift her cell into day, but she can see the mountains painted against the permanent grey of the sky. She has been here for 264 days which means that she also has not spoken or interacted with anyone in just as long, although the infiniteness of time makes it feel longer. Then a boy is thrown into her cell, curious and questioning. Through the dark its difficult to see, but those blue eyes she would recognise anywhere. And suddenly those 264 days are given a new meaning.

Tahereh Mafi is a wordsmith. Reading Shatter Me was like reading a composition of my favorite words in the precise order I would have loved to read them. There is prose and there is prose that is so much like poetry the way that it ebbs and flows and then hits with its meaning not outright, but so subtly that the impact is even greater. And the impact here is immense considering the fact that Juliette has not spoken to anyone in almost a year, and all that she's been left with is her words and a pen. She's had time to think and roll phrases unconsciously around in her mind as she's had no one else to share anything with. For me, this immaculately crafted construction is integral to the idea of the plot. The way this is expressed is innovative, but with such a natural flow that it was a glimpse inside a character's head in a way I haven't before experienced.

While the words were instrumental in making everything believable, the characters were equally fabulous in taking the great setting given and carrying it along. It might be easy to think that for being trapped in a cell for as long as she was, that Juliette might be meek or unsure of how to reintegrate herself back into things but Juliette, however, was none of these things. If it's one thing that she knows completely is that she will not allow people to use her in any way and so we see this in everything from her posture as well as her inner and external dialogue. Because of everything she's had to go through, from even before she was locked up, she's incredibly strong in a way that had me pause to reread as I was in awe of just how well it was brought forth. In a world where a hesitant conformity has become the norm, Juliette is so very human.

There are two other characters that reflect off of each other as if they were night and day and it was really interesting to see how one was almost the inverse of the other; if he had chosen to do evil instead of good he could have almost been the other. I'm hesitant to give names or too much information because for me this was one of the best parts of the exposition. The way both of them interact with Juliette is fantastic, and like Juliette, I found myself almost wanting to know more about them both, but also found myself reeling back. I loved the terrible craftiness and brutal honesty of one and the tiptoeing sincerity of the other.

And then there's the ending, and it's one that will throw you through a loop and wonder just where else this series will (and could possibly) take you. But given the sheer uniqueness of Shatter Me, it's one you'll want to go on immediately after the last sentence. An automatic favorite and an incredible start to what promises to be a thrilling journey.

Thank you to HarperCollins for providing an ARC at NYCC and to the incredibly sweet Tahereh Mafi for signing it for me and also for speaking up for the round pegs in square holes.

In My Mailbox, hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, allows us to share our
current reads, and books we've received/checked out/purchased over the course of the week.

For review:
Shatter Me, Tahereh Mafi (Thank you kindly to HarperCollins!)
You can expect a review for this later today. :)

Bruiser, Neal Shusterman
I've been waiting for this one for a long, long time. (I sort of adore Neal.)
And then I just finally bought it, thanks to a B&N coupon!

What's in your mailboxes, lovelies?

fill in the blank (02)

Having started writing my story in earnest via NaNoWriMo, I thought that it would be appropriate for another edition of fill in the blank! This is a hard one, I know. Perhaps it varies by book type (standalone, series, YA, non-YA) or genre (paranormal, contemporary, dystopian). Feel free to discuss examples. :)

I want a book to do ______ for me. Meaning, when I read a book I want to get _____ out of it.

For example, when I read a book I want to fall into it completely. I want to forget that I am reading and completely fall into the MC's head. For that the characters have to be believable, the prose fluid enough to tell the story so that I am experiencing the events along with everyone inside the book. Thus even if there's a story idea that might not have worked for me - zombie werewolves striking a peace treaty with neighboring vegetarian vampires - if the words, the bones are there then I can get behind it completely. What about you?

follow friday (25)

Today's question is something new, an activity. We want to see what you look like! Take a pic with you and your current read. Too shy? Boo! Just post a fun pic you want to share.

Okay, so I'm in my pjs and I had to fix my hair especially for you because, well, being a bunhead really wasn't working out so well. Me and the book that I feel could have been written specifically for me because I love it so much:

I took this picture again and again because the flash was rendering my note illegible. So, here's what it 

For Rachel & Alison - this FF was awesome and heaps of fun!

P.S: Sorry, Maggie! I'm not skilled enough to try drawing a fierce capall uisce. So here's an awesome cat I found instead.

waiting on wednesday (25)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event courtesy of Breaking the Spine
that showcases much anticipated upcoming releases.

from goodreads: 12/05/2011
In the years following the destructive Long Winter, when half the world’s population perished, the State remains locked in battle against the Sensitives: humans born with extra abilities.

As one of the last descendants of the State’s Founders, seventeen-year-old Lark Greene knows her place: study hard and be a model citizen so she can follow in her family’s footsteps. Her life’s been set since birth, and she’s looking forward to graduating and settling down with Beck, the boy she’s loved longer than she can remember.

However, after Beck is accused of being Sensitive and organizing an attack against Lark, he disappears. Heartbroken and convinced the State made a mistake, Lark sets out to find him and clear his name.

But what she discovers is more dangerous and frightening than Sensitives: She must kill the boy she loves, unless he kills her first.
I have to give kudos to Miss Veronica Roth for helping me to discover this one. I can't stop staring at the cover - it's gorgeous. Soft, and the color scheme perfect. (And I love that font.) The shape of her face almost reminds me of Mary GrandPré's chapter sketches for HP. The use of larks for her name - it just ties together so well. Cover aside, just from the summary this is a book I want to know more about. What's the  Long Winter? How is life determined for its citizens? I'm completely sold. Thankfully there's not too long to wait!

top ten tuesdays! (12)

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. If you love lists
and wracking your brain for answers, then this is the meme for you!

Top Ten Books I Had VERY Strong Emotions About (cry, laugh, hurl across the room, etc.)
01. Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead: I created a love-and-hate shelf for this book on Goodreads after finishing this one. You probably have an idea as to why if you've read it. I reread the scene yesterday and it was slightly less painful. That's how you know you love the characters.
02. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling: I'll be honest in admitting that I did throw this one. Not very far, but it did have a little journey. I suppose I should have seen it coming, with what the mirrors and all, but I was taken completely by surprise. 
03. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: It wasn't just the ending with this one that got me. I study and plan to work in human rights, and so the entire concept of this book gripped me from the very first moment my mind grasped what was happening. Everything about it was wrong, but I couldn't stop reading. 
04. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld: While the way the story was told didn't really work for me, the premise of this book is fairly incredible (not in the literal sense). That people have to fix themselves to fit in and only then can they have fun is completely absurd, but, really, in comparison with some ideas in reality - is it? 
05. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling: The ending of this book was not necessarily vindication, but almost a sense of affirmation. I don't love as many characters as much as I love Snape, so here I cried more than I did over OotP.
06. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi: My emotions for this book were 100% for the writing. If not for her words this book would not have made the impact - for me - that it did. I found myself taking pictures of quotes with my phone so that I could roll them over and over in my head. Keep an eye out for a review this week. This book was perfection in the form of words and phrases.
07. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes: I first read this for school and it broke my heart in an entirely new way. I struggled with the idea of experiencing something new and living, only for it to be snatched away. This is not an easy book, but it's a necessary book.
08. Wither by Lauren DeStefano: I didn't love this book as much as I thought I would, and I think that's partially because I empathized too much with Rhine. I was angry over what was happening to the girls and the general sense within society that this was okay. Not to mention what happened with Cecily and Jenna (and her sisters). It's hard to not feel something either way over it.
09. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins: I laughed and smiled and all sorts of verbed along with this book. That's the beauty of Stephanie's writing - she can make you feeling practically anything while reading, and the best part of it is that it's completely genuine. 
10. Unwind by Neal Shusterman: I didn't physically cry over this book, but everything else in me was protesting the entire concept of it. I didn't know what to expect and literally stared at a particular passage of it probably for about 10 minutes before I could figure out what to do from there. If it were feasibly possible I would give a copy of this to everyone I knew. And those I didn't.


I am presently on hiatus into the foreseeable future. You can find me on twitter, tumblr, or my writing website,

See you there!

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