Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (6): The Collector

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's a feature designed to spotlight upcoming novels we can't wait to get our hands on. Click the link for more!

The Collector
by Victoria Scott
Release Date: March 12th, 2013
Series: Dante Walker #1
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Genre: Paranormal
Add to Goodreads 
He makes good girls...bad.

Dante Walker is flippin’ awesome, and he knows it. His good looks, killer charm, and stellar confidence has made him one of hell’s best—a soul collector. His job is simple, weed through humanity and label those round rears with a big red good or bad stamp. Old Saint Nick gets the good guys, and he gets the fun ones. Bag-and-tag.
Sealing souls is nothing personal. Dante’s an equal opportunity collector and doesn’t want it any other way. But he’ll have to adjust, because Boss Man has given him a new assignment:

Collect Charlie Cooper’s soul within 10 days.
Dante doesn’t know why Boss Man wants Charlie, nor does he care. This assignment means only one thing to him, and that’s a permanent ticket out of hell. But after Dante meets the quirky, Nerd Alert chick he’s come to collect—he realizes this assignment will test his abilities as a collector, and uncover emotions deeply buried.

I am SO in the mood for a bad-boy paranormal! By the sounds of it, that part of Dante's character won't be watered down like a lot of "bad boys" in YA, and I'm excited to see the character growth. Plus!! I don't know if you guys have read Breaking Lauren by Jordan Deen before, but I absolutely loved it and The Collector sounds like a similar title only with paranormal elements. Hopefully in March when it's released I'll still be in this mood. :P

What were your picks this week? Have you read The Collector or Breaking Lauren?
- Alysson

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Top Ten Books I'd Want On A Deserted Island

Top Ten Tuesday - November 13th
Hosted by the girls at The Broke and the Bookish. We make lists each week on various categories. This week's topic is:
TOP 10 Books I'd Want On A Deserted Island

The Complete Works of Sherlock Homes - 1796 pages, I think I'll be entertained for a while!
The Count of Monte Cristo - Maybe I can learn how to escape. ;)
The Lord of the Rings - I'd bring the bind up of all three. It works. Technically. Teehee

Graceling - Kickass MC? Action? Yes please.
Eragon - I haven't actually read this one so it'll be a surprise!
The Way of Shadows - Another hefty book, but it's about assassins! I love assassins.

Twilight - Truth time. I am a complete sucker for this series. I love them so much!
Anna and the French Kiss - I could reread this book over and over again.

To Kill A Mockingbird - My all time favorite book. I couldn't image not having it with me
Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales - I never get tired of these stories
Pride and Prejudice - Does this really need an explaination?

This topic was so hard! I had a really difficult time choosing what I'd bring, how about you?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Review: Deadly Cool

Deadly Cool
by Gemma Halliday (Website | Facebook)
Series: Deadly Cool, #1
Published: October 11th, 2011 by HarperTeen
Pages: 303 (Paperback)
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Goodreads | Amazon | Indie
Hartley Grace Featherstone is having a very bad day. First she finds out that her boyfriend is cheating on her with the president of the Herbert Hoover High School Chastity Club. Then he’s pegged as the #1 suspect in a murder. And if that weren’t enough, now he’s depending on Hartley to clear his name. 

But as much as Hartley wouldn’t mind seeing him squirm, she knows he’s innocent, and she’s the only one who can help him. Along with her best friend, Sam, and the school’s resident Bad Boy, Chase, Hartley starts investigating on her own. But as the dead bodies begin to pile up, the mystery deepens, the suspects multiply, and Hartley begins to fear that she may be the killer’s next victim.

Every now and then I find myself craving a fast and light book that'll put me in a good mood. It's easy for me to burn out on my reading when I read multiple novels from the same genre, one after another. Not only did Deadly Cool provide a much needed change of pace, but its humor-filled pages and lovable characters won me over big time. I did have a couple minor issues with it, but Deadly Cool was just what I needed.

While Deadly Cool immediately caught my interest, I had my reservations about it. First off, as a lover of super complicated mysteries, its short length concerned me because I worried it would lack enough plot development and twists to keep me intrigued. Second, I was warned that despite the obvious chemistry between Hartley and Chase, there wasn't actually any romance in the novel. Because of these two reasons, I was really surprised at how much I loved this book! Even though I guessed who the murderer was and had a good idea of his/her motive from early on, I loved following along with Hartley and Chase as they worked to figure it out. I was always entertained and engrossed in their progress, and it never annoyed me when they didn't see something right off the bat. Even more surprisingly, I LOVED how Gemma Halliday didn't put romance in. She put Hartley in so many awkward yet hilarious situations that built up their chemistry and kept me wishing they'd just kiss already! But it was so realistic! I'm hoping we see more them in book two.

Hartley, Sam and Chase were great characters who felt like real people. I liked the fact that Hartley didn't have super awesome detective skills but relied on her ingenuity and quick thinking. I also loved that Chase didn't fall into the typical dark, brooding, and mysterious guy pattern. Gemma Halliday gave all of her characters (except for the killer) the right amount of quirkiness to make them stand out and conventionalism to make them recognizable and relatable.

Halliday also did an excellent job of capturing the ways teens interact with one another. My favorite part of Deadly Cool was how funny the dialogue was! Within the first few pages I was literally laughing out loud. I NEVER do that when I read but I just couldn't help it! Hartley is one snarky, clever girl. And when she and her best friend Sam would censor themselves, I just about lost it. They reminded me so much of me and my best friend (except we aren't that funny) in the way they talk to each other and to those around them. I would honestly love to be friends with them, although I don't know if I'd be able to keep up.

The only thing I didn't really like about Deadly Cool was the motive of the murderer. This might be super vague since I don't want to give anything away, but I didn't fully buy it. I know people have killed for much less but I still would have enjoyed a more complicated explanation. Finally, while not a dislike or a negative, Hartley's school dynamic surprised me. My high school wasn't as drama/gossip centered as her's, so I found it weird just how much these kids relied on camera phones and blogs to blackmail each other and spread "news". I've always wondered what going to a school like that would be like, and I am so glad that I didn't have to deal with that kind of crap for four years.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

I loved this novel! It's a hilarious and creative book with wonderful characters and snappy dialogue that you will devour in one sitting.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

This Week's Reads (1)

I'm trying a new thing in hopes to stay on top of my reading. I have too many library books piling up, and too many audiobooks started. Juggling all of them, and mixing up due dates/review dates is not conducive, so listing what I need to read each week will, ideally, keep me on track. :) If nothing else, I want to finish the novels I've already started (*).  
This week’s reads are:

Library books:
  1. *White Cat - Holly Black: from page 222
  2. Angelfire - Courtney Allison Moulton
  3. One Foot in the Grave - Jeaniene Frost
  4. Insignia - S.J. Kincaid
  1. *Legend - Marie Lu: about 4 hours left
  2. *Enclave - Ann Aguire: about 2 hours left
My books:
  1. *Crossed - Ally Condie: starting around page 175

Fair warning - if the lovely mail(wo)man makes a delivery at any time this week, I'm dropping everything for Reached. ;D

- Alysson

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (5): November 10

Stacking The Shelves is a meme hosted over at Tynga's Reviews. It's a chance to share all the goodies we received, bought, borrowed or whatever over the last week.

We were bad this week - we bought too many books and posted too little. We should all know by now that when going to Half Price Books, saying "I'm just going to look, I don't want to buy anything," is a load of crap. Well, I guess I can't be in too much trouble though since everything except for Vampire Academy was under $3, and Bill bought stuff too!
The Books :
  1. Game of Thrones - George R. R. Martin
  2. The Gunslinger - Stephen King (Dark Tower #1)
  3. The Drawing of Three (Dark Tower #2)
  4. The Waste Lands (Dark Tower #3)
  5. Wizard and Glass (Dark Tower #4)
  6. Wolves of Calla (Dark Tower #5)
  7. Song of Susannah (Dark Tower #6)
  1. Vampire Academy -They had it hardcover!
  2. Clockwork Angel - Cassandra Clare
  3. Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse #1)
  4. Living Dead in Dallas (Sookie Stackhouse #2)
  5. Club Dead (Sookie Stackhouse #3)
  6. Embers & Echos - Karsten Knight
  7. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
  8. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
  9. Deja Dead - Kathy Reichs
  10. One For the Money - Janet Evanovich
  11. Once Burned - Jeaniene Frost
  12. Torment - Lauren Kate
  13. A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini 
This Week's Posts:
- Alysson

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review: Slide

Series: Slide #1
Published: March 27th, 2012 by Balzer + Bray
Pages: 250 (Hardcover)
Goodreads | Amazon | Indie
Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth--her sister's friend Sophie didn't kill herself. She was murdered. Vee knows this because she was there.

Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn't actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else's mind and experiences the world through that person's eyes. She's slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed "friend" when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie's slashed body.

Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can't bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting distant lately, especially now that she's been spending more time with Zane.

Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.

Slide will stick with me for a long time. Not because it’s a great mystery or paranormal novel, but because of how prominent the elements of family bonds and forgiveness are. Each of the novel's characters has to work through his or her own set of personal and familial tragedies. They all have to find ways to let go of their pasts, to forgive themselves and each other in order to find what is truly important and what's worth living for.

As far as the mystery goes, there were a few jaw dropping moments... evident by Bill screen capping me when I was reading while on Skype... but it wasn’t the chilling or intense thriller I was craving. Instead, Slide ended up being a much deeper story. Honestly, I forgot a couple of times that I was reading a paranormal book because it reads so much like a contemporary - delving into family dynamics, suicide, depression, and vengeance. Vee’s slides are there, but they aren’t a huge part of the book. Now, while I see this as spicing up an otherwise contemporary novel, I understand how this can frustrate other readers because there were times when I wished her ability was more prominent.

I absolutely loved how close Vee and Mattie were. Guys, there is some serious sisterly love going on in this book. Even though they have very different interests and friends, their love and loyalty to one another always comes first. Since their mother died of cancer, their dad has basically become a walking shell of a person. He tries to be there for his daughters, but it’s difficult for him. So Vee is left to take care of her sister. Which she does without a complaint. However, even though Mattie is SO damaged during this novel, she still worries about her sister and does her best to be there for Vee too. The love this family has for each other is unwavering, and I love how well the relationships were created.

The only thing I did not like about Slide was the ending. Everything seemed to come together at the very last minute. It didn't feel crammed or rushed, but the whole reveal and finale happened in like 20 pages. The answer to the overarching mystery made a lot of sense, and I definitely didn't see all of it coming, which is what I want in a mystery… I just wasn't satisfied. Jill came up with a great way to pull together and end many of the novel’s subplots, while at the same time creating some leeway for more character development and relationship building. But there were parts I wished she would have fleshed out. Like Vee’s last slide! Why did it have to happen like that?! :( As soon as my excitement rose and I started turning the pages faster and faster, it was over. 

When I finished it, I didn’t know that Slide is the start of a series. While I would love to see what happens with the characters, I’m not quite sure if the novel really needs a sequel. I for one am perfectly content with the story’s ending. But if Jill has more in store for us, I'm down. Beautifully written with a captivating storyline, Slide is very much a novel about a broken family trying to be whole again. It’s a great book for lovers of contemporary, and those a bit hesitant about paranormal. 

Rating: 3/5 stars
As a mystery and paranormal book, I was disappointed with the big reveal as well as the lack of info on Vee's slides. As a contemporary with a little extra magic, I loved the family aspects and the bond between Vee and her sister. Give it a try, but check it out from the library.

- Alysson

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (4): Belle Epoque

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's a feature designed to spotlight upcoming novels we can't wait to get our hands on. Click the link for more!

Belle Epoque
by Elizabeth Ross
Release Date: June 11, 2013
Publisher: Delacorte BFYR
Genre: Historical
Add to Goodreads 
When Maude Pichon runs away from provincial Brittany to Paris, her romantic dreams vanish as quickly as her savings. Desperate for work, she answers an unusual ad. The Durandeau Agency provides its clients with a unique service—the beauty foil. Hire a plain friend and become instantly more attractive.

Monsieur Durandeau has made a fortune from wealthy socialites, and when the Countess Dubern needs a companion for her headstrong daughter, Isabelle, Maude is deemed the perfect foil.

But Isabelle has no idea her new "friend" is the hired help, and Maude's very existence among the aristocracy hinges on her keeping the truth a secret. Yet the more she learns about Isabelle, the more her loyalty is tested. And the longer her deception continues, the more she has to lose.

First thing's first: COVER LOVE. Gahh it's just so beautiful! The girl looks so dejected, and I just love how her emotion contrasts with how pretty she and the cover are... Wait though, she's supposed to be the plain friend... so then Isabelle must be already be gorgeous? O_o  I love reading about foreign countries, and the fact that Maude ran away in search of a better and more fulfilling life makes me instantly like her. Chick's got balls in my opinion. Too bad I have to wait until freaking JUNE of next year to figure out if she and I will in fact be besties. Sad day.

What are you waiting on? Leave a link! :)
- Alysson

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Author Highlight -Stephen King

For this kind of post I’m just going to be talking about an author and not specifically any of their books, and this time I decided to write about Stephen King. King is one of my favorite authors and I think he is someone that everybody should read at least one book by.  He is best known for his work as a horror writer, and rightly so. His “scary” books are downright terrifying at times. I’m currently reading ‘Salem’s Lot and nothing scary has even happened yet but I’m filled with a wordless dread and I have no idea what’ s gonna happen next.  And while I never read the book, I watched about 30 minutes of the movie “It” when I was a kid and I’m still scared of clowns, so that’s one book that I’ve decided I’m never reading, mostly cause I don’t want to pay for a therapist.
 Something that it seems like a lot of people over look though is Stephen King’s none horror writing, most notably his Dark Tower series. The Dark Tower series is a bit of a mind bender, and I am on the second to last book, so I don’t know how it ends but so far it’s been nothing but fantastic and I can’t thank my friend Ryan enough for recommending it. He’s also written several other books that don’t fall in the horror category, such as Under the Dome and The Stand.  Also I’ve found most of the early dark tower books for a dollar at Half-Price Books, along with a lot of his other stuff, which makes his work fairly accessible.
 If you’re looking for something intriguing, and different from the normal fair I highly recommend taking a look at Stephen King’s books, although maybe that look should happen in the daytime.  Also if you read nothing else by him, read the forward to one of his books, their normally pretty informative and sometimes really funny.

P.S. Seriously, what is wrong with clowns, they’re so damn scary. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (4): November 3

Stacking The Shelves is a meme hosted over at Tynga's Reviews. It's a chance to share all the goodies we received, bought, borrowed or whatever over the last week.

We're super thrilled for our books this week! Alysson's trying to satisfy her urban fantasy craving in effort to wait reading Crossed until closer to Reached's release date. Bill has the next Morganville book. Midterms are over. Bill got his internship (YES YES YES!!! :D). Life is good. ^__^

The Books :

Who's on an urban fantasy kick? Allie is. :D
  1. Greywalker - Kat Richardson
  2. Some Girls Bite - Chloe Neill
  3. Second Grave on the Left - Darynda Jones
  4. Dark Descendant - Jenna Black
  5. Geist - Philippa Ballantine
  6. Working Stiff - Rachel Caine

  1. Wildwood - Colin Meloy & Carson Ellis
  2. Soulbound - Heather Brewer 
  3. Valkyrie Rising - Ingrid Paulson
  4. League of Strays - L.B. Schulman
  5. Last Breath - Rachel Caine
  6. The Hallowed Ones - Laura Bickle
  7. Crossed - Ally Condie
  8. Intertwined - Gena Showalter
This Week's Posts :

  • Bill talks about The Kill Order, and whether or not to read it before the Maze Runner trilogy
  • Allie discusses how audiobooks can ruin your reading experience in her review of This Dark Endeavor
  • Allie "reviews" (fangirls, squeals, and obsesses over) Halfway to the Grave ...she also goes overboard with GIFs.
  • Allie obsesses over the audiobook for Matched

That's it! Make sure to link up your hauls so we can come check them out. :)
-Bill & Alysson

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Review: Matched & Audiobook

by Ally Condie (Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter)
Series: Matched, #1
Published: November 30th, 2010 by Dutton Juvenille
Pages: 369 (Hardcover)
Genre: Dystopian
Goodreads | Amazon | Indie
Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate... until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. 

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

Have you ever started a book thinking it would be all that and a bag of chips? And then it was?! Well that’s how I felt about Matched… my second time around anyways. My first try was disastrous. I was bored, I couldn’t figure out how to pronounce Cassia’s name, and Xander with an “X” was irritating me. I actually gave it another go because of my mom. She asked me if the series was worth the time AND YES, Maja, it's SO WORTH IT! I was curious about the world, fell in love with the characters, was sucked into the love story… I just thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Let’s start with the negative – Matched has a ridiculously slow beginning, as in you would’ve got 5 stars but I almost stopped reading you twice so now you get 4. During the first couple of chapters we get some very basic information on The Society and about Cassia. It’s informative but also super dry. I hoped the novel would quickly pick up speed because I was hesitant of its premise - I wanted to know if this book would be about more than Cassia and a forbidden romance (more on this later!). Unfortunately, the first third or so was excruciatingly slow and I was seriously considering calling it quits again when I decided to check out the audiobook. Well, I ended up loving the story!

Condie really knows how to create a world full of intrigue and secrecy. At first I thought Matched was just a love story. But oh how I was wrong! It took a while to figure out where she was actually taking the novel, but I am so thrilled about how she used Cassia and Ky’s relationship to set up rebellion and conspiracy, as well as a means of uncovering the dark details of The Society. I was so excited (I’m still excited) about how much deeper Matched gets! Safe to say, I am now sufficiently addicted to the series and invested in what happens to everyone.

The character development in Matched is flawless. Cassia buys into everything The Society tells her and she honestly believes it has improved the way people now live. Her devotion to her family and to The Society’s rules is believable since it’s all she has ever known, but it takes falling in love with Ky for her to stop blindly following orders. I liked this; it showed Cassia growing out of her ignorance and naivety in a totally believable way.

There is a love triangle in Matched but I actually liked this one. It added to the character development and (obviously) got the plot moving. Xander is Cassia’s best friend and her match. He’s sweet and loving, fiercely loyal, and all around a great guy. But he just didn’t have that umph for me. Out of the three major characters, Xander fell a bit flat. Not like Ky. Ky, why must you be so mysterious and intelligent and sexy? Oh… to make me fall for you? Okay, I’m good with that. ;)

Matched is one of those books that takes a long time to finally get going, but once it starts, it flies by. The world Cassia lives in is ruled by statistics and probabilities. Everything is calculated and decided for you. You have no free will. Watching these characters break out from underneath that mindset in their own ways was a rewarding experience, and I can’t wait to finally start Crossed.

Rating: 4/5 stars
I would have liked to have been sucked into this book sooner, but the payoff was great. Buy a copy pronto (or better yet listen to the audiobook!) and don’t give up on it!

Narrated by Kate Simses
9 hours and 54 minutes | Unabridged 

Kate Simses does a spectacular job with this book! She really is an amazing storyteller. I got lost in her narration so easily, particularly because of her spot on voices. Cassia’s voice was cool and calculating, void of most emotion and matter-of-factual. But as the story unfolded, Cassia’s character changed into a more emotional and spirited girl, and so did Simses’ voice. :D She also added depth and dimension to the other characters as well: Bram sounded like a scared little boy; Cassia’s mother was strong but hesitant; Ky – restrained and measured; Em – emotional and full of life… it goes on! She gave Matched the life it needed to really suck me in, and I found myself digging around for my old CD player so I wasn't limited to listening in my car.

I absolutely loved the dramatic piece of background music that would play during a heartfelt or intense scene. I thought it added an extra bit of emotion and urgency to the situations in which it played. Honestly though, I didn’t listen to the last disk… I couldn’t stand having the last 40 pages be drawn out to a little less than hour, so I went to Barns and Nobles and sped through it. So if the last disk was AWESOME and had lots of sound effects, I have no idea.

Rating: 5/5 stars
I would highly recommend giving the audiobook a listen though, whether you’re reading Matched for the first time and especially if you’re re-reading it, you won’t be disappointed!

Have you read Matched and/or the rest of the series? If you have, did you enjoy it? If not, what’s keeping you from checking out a copy? I’d love to discuss! :)
- Alysson

Halfway to the Grave is Awesome and You Should Read It Now

Halfway to the Grave
by Jeaniene Frost (Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter)
Series: Night Huntress, #1
Published: October 30th, 2007 by Avon
Pages: 358 (Paperback)
Goodreads | Amazon | Indie
Half-vampire Catherine Crawfield is going after the undead with a vengeance, hoping that one of these deadbeats is her father--the one responsible for ruining her mother's life. Then she's captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is forced into an unholy partnership.

In exchange for finding her father, Cat agrees to train with the sexy night stalker until her battle reflexes are as sharp as his fangs. She's amazed she doesn't end up as his dinner--are there actually "good" vampires? Pretty soon Bones will have her convinced that being half-dead doesn't have to be all bad. But before she can enjoy her newfound status as kick-ass demon hunter, Cat and Bones are pursued by a group of killers. Now Cat will have to choose a side . . . and Bones is turning out to be as tempting as any man with a heartbeat.

*Warning: Contains lots of GIFs and spoilers*

As my first foray into adult urban fantasy, I’m so glad I fell in love with this book. I’m excited for more! With so many feelings, a cohesive review is completely out of the question. So here’s a list of why you should read Halfway to the Grave! Well, one part list of awesomeness, and like, I don’t know… 53 million parts love letter to Cat, Bones, and Jeaniene Frost.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Review: This Dark Endeavor

This Dark Endeavour
by Kenneth Oppel (Website | BlogFacebook | Twitter)
Series: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, #1
Published: August 22nd, 2011 by HarperCollins
Pages: 304 (Hardcover)
Genre: Steampunk & Historical
Goodreads | Amazon | Indie
Victor and Konrad are the twin brothers Frankenstein. They are nearly inseparable. Growing up, their lives are filled with imaginary adventures...until the day their adventures turn all too real. They stumble upon The Dark Library, and secret books of alchemy and ancient remedies are discovered. Father forbids that they ever enter the room again, but this only peaks Victor's curiosity more. When Konrad falls gravely ill, Victor is not be satisfied with the various doctors his parents have called in to help. He is drawn back to The Dark Library where he uncovers an ancient formula for the Elixir of Life. Elizabeth, Henry, and Victor immediately set out to find assistance in a man who was once known for his alchemical works to help create the formula.

Determination and the unthinkable outcome of losing his brother spur Victor on in the quest for the three ingredients that will save Konrads life. After scaling the highest trees in the Strumwald, diving into the deepest lake caves, and sacrificing one’s own body part, the three fearless friends risk their lives to save another.

I hate not finishing a book. I’m one of those people who will stubbornly cling to a novel, reading a few pages every day just hoping to finally fall in love with it. Because, what if, in the next 10 pages something totally epic happens and I missed it?! After my experience with Code Name Verity, I’m scared to death of DNF-ing a novel, which is why I had such a difficult time deciding whether I should keep going with the beautifully written This Dark Endeavor or call it quits.

This Dark Endeavor is about twin brothers, Konrad and Victor. Konrad is everyone’s favorite and he always seems to outshine Victor at everything they do. Needless to say, while Victor’s love for his brother is evident, he struggles with his jealousy. When Konrad gets really sick, Victor, their cousin Elizabeth, and best friend Henry set off to create the elixir of life. That sounds awesome right? Full of brotherly love, drama, and some serious questing action? That’s why I was super excited when I finally checked it out. But alas, I can only begin to tell you how disappointed I am that I didn’t like it. And truth be told, I only got halfway through the audiobook before I decided it was time to part ways.

Normally I like it when the books I read have a lot of description and strong character development because I like the feeling of being grounded in and a part of the characters’ lives. In this area, This Dark Endeavor did not disappoint. I devoured Oppel’s lyrical writing through which he formed a vivid image of Gothic Geneva. I loved being able to clearly and easily imagine Victor and Konrad’s home and the novel’s various settings. Also, from early on I felt like I had a pretty solid understanding of the characters’ motivations, even though I didn’t connect with or honestly like them. This all is well and good, but I just wanted more. I wanted a fast-paced, gripping adventure of love and loss and alchemy and deceit and all that good stuff! And who knows, maybe if I saw This Dark Endeavor through to its end my wants would have been satisfied.

While Oppel’s dark and beautiful writing made up for the lack of action in the beginning, pretty soon my patients ran out, my frustration with Victor and Elizabeth grew, and my boredom from the narration ultimately lead to my decision to stop listening. Overall, I liked the premise and I liked seeing how Victor struggled with his hedonism and his love for Konrad, but it wasn't enough to keep me enthralled.

On the audiobook…
Sometimes a narrator can add life into a novel making it amazing. Other times, a narrator can ruin an otherwise wonderful book. In this case, the narrator killed a good deal of my initial excitement. I didn’t like his voices and he sounded so apathetic. I don’t know if it’s just me, but when the narrator sounds like he’s bored, my motivation to keep listening dwindles. If the audiobook wasn’t the only thing I had to listen to on a four hour drive, I probably would have stopped reading sooner.

Rating: Did not finish.
I'd recommend this to someone who doesn't mind a slow story. Oppel's writing is wonderful, and you get a good feel for the characters, but I really do think you should pass on the audio version.

Have you read This Dark Endeavor? If so, did you like it better than I did? What is your experience with audiobooks? Has one ruined a novel for you like it did for me? 
- Alysson

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (3): Falling Kingdoms

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's a feature designed to spotlight upcoming novels we can't wait to get our hands on. Click the link for more!

Falling Kingdoms
by Morgan Rhodes
Series: Falling Kingdoms, #1
Release Date: December 11th, 2012
Publisher: Razorbill
Genre: Fantasy
Add to Goodreads 
In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power--brutally transforming their subjects' lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:

Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.

Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished--and finds himself the leader of a people's revolution centuries in the making.

Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past--and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword...

The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

I've been on a high fantasy kick after reading Sarah J. Maas' Throne of Glass. It used to be my favorite genre, thanks to Tamora Pierce, but I've let these books fall to the wayside in recent years and am struggling to catch back up. Falling Kingdoms sounds like it's filled with political intrigue, magic, and interesting characters - everything I love about the genre. However, I have a feeling this one will be written from multiple viewpoints, so even though it is 412 pages long, I'm worried about character development.

What are you looking forward to this week? Do you enjoy high fantasy as much as I do? Let me know!

- Alysson :)

Review: The Kill Order

The Kill Order
by James Dashner (Website | Facebook | Twitter)
Series: Maze Runner, #0.5 (Prequel)
Published: August 14th, 2012 by Delacorte BFYR
Pages: 327 (Hardcover)
Genre: Dystopian
Before WICKED was formed, before the Glade was built, before Thomas entered the Maze, sun flares hit the earth and mankind fell to disease.

Mark and Trina were there when it happened, and they survived. But surviving the sun flares was easy compared to what came next. Now a disease of rage and lunacy races across the eastern United States, and there’s something suspicious about its origin. Worse yet, it’s mutating, and all evidence suggests that it will bring humanity to its knees.

Mark and Trina are convinced there’s a way to save those left living from descending into madness. And they’re determined to find it—if they can stay alive. Because in this new, devastated world, every life has a price. And to some, you’re worth more dead than alive.

I really really liked the Maze Runner series so if you haven’t read it yet, you should. That being said I was understandably excited for The Kill Order. I did really like this book, but in a really different way than the other books in the series, which wasn’t something I expected. I’ll try to leave out as many spoilers from the Maze Runner trilogy as possible in this review, but there might be a couple.

First off this is a prequel to The Maze Runner so I feel like reading the trilogy first would make The Kill Order more enjoyable since there are some things in it that spoil parts of the trilogy. I might have just noticed them 'cause I was looking for them though. Although, I think Allie said she was going to read this one first and then the Maze Runner series and see how that is, so keep an eye out for that in the future!

The characters in The Kill Order did have depth and I did care about them, but only to a point. It might be that I’m really attached to the characters from the Trilogy, but the characters in this were a little flat. Also, I felt that the point of this book wasn't necessarily to tell its characters' story but rather to flush out the world of Maze Runner. I was about halfway through The Kill Order when I realized it seemed like I hardly knew any of the characters, I got over it by the end of the novel but it definitely took me a while to feel connected to the characters. I did like the way that the group dynamics worked because it felt real. Like I hate it when the interpersonal relations of a novel are like this: there are 7 characters and they're all "oh we're best friends every single one of us!" There's no depth in that.

The Kill Order is set 13 years before the events of The Maze Runner, right as the world goes crazy. I thought the world-building was awesome, and I love how a major portion of this book was about building on to the world that the characters from both The Kill Order and The Maze Runner live in. I really did feel like by the end of the novel I had learned a lot more about the fascinating world Dashner created, and how people adapted to it. Also, it gives a lot of background on some of the major players from the main trilogy - which I really appreciated because when I was reading them, I wanted to know more about why things were the way they were and how the world got to the way it was.

Overall I think that The Kill Order is better seen as a sort of companion novel to the Maze Runner trilogy since it provides a lot of details on the world and its politics. I still really enjoyed it and I think that if you've read The Maze Runner and need something to read for a rainy weekend that this is a great choice. On a side note: the back of this book is awesome, it’s just the words “ EXPOSURE INFECTION TRANSMISSION PANDEMIC EXTINCTION”  in bold font, which would definitely make me intrigued if I saw it in a store or library.

I'm giving this one two ratings: 
    - For a standalone novel - 3/5 stars: It was good but not breathtaking
    - As an extension of the main series - 4/5 stars: I loved world building and it provided lots of answers.

10 Kick-Ass Heroines

Top Ten Tuesday - October 30th 
Hosted by the girls at The Broke and the Bookish. We make lists each week on various categories. This week's topic is:
TOP 10 Kick-Ass Heroines

All of these ladies can hold their own - they're strong, brilliant, cunning, and brave. Seriously guys, I wanna be besties with all of them - well, maybe except for Alex and Remy... their fierceness is awesome and all, but it isn't enough to make me want to live in a zombie world >.<

Who all did you pick? Any of the same ladies? Make sure to leave a link the comments so I can make my TBR even longer! 

- Alysson

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (3): October 28th

Stacking The Shelves is a meme hosted over at Tynga's Reviews. It's a chance to share all the goodies we received, bought, borrowed or whatever over the last week.

I was good this week guys, I only bought two books... well my dad bought me them when I visited this weekend. :} But I'm so excited for them!! They both have extras in them that I can't wait to read.

The Diviners by Libba Bray: I checked out The Diviners from the library a couple of weeks ago but the book is just so dang pretty I had to have my own copy. 

Insurgent by Veronica Roth: I got the collector's edition and it's all shiny!! This edition came with some cool stuff, the poster below and some temporary tattoos. It says "We both have war inside us. Sometimes it keeps us alive, sometimes it threatens to destroy us." How awesome is that?!

That's it for us this week! Have you read either of these? Make sure to leave a link to your hauls in the comments so we can share the love! 
- Alysson

So uh yeah... ya know.

Hi everyone! We are SO sorry for the lack of posts and interaction this week, we've been crazy busy studying for midterms and completing the quarter's assignments. Our last tests are on Tuesday so after that we'll have loads of time to comment and visit. :) Oh! And Bill had an interview for a mechanical engineering internship this week, and the company called him back for a second one on Tuesday! Get this - this job will have set hours! That means no more going in to work at 10:30AM and not coming back until 10, 11 or sometimes 12:30! Yeesssssss. :D You can probably tell I'm happy about that lol (it's hard to walk the dog when he won't do his business without Bill with us.)

Anyways, asides from all that, I've been in a crappy reading slump. I made myself stick with a book because it was so short, but taking five days to read 218 pages just left me so unmotivated to pick anything else up afterwards. I have been participating in a read-a-thon though that's given me the kick in the ass I needed, so I have four reviews coming up in the next few days and Bill has a 2 or 3 scheduled for next week as well. So yes. We apologize for not updating you all sooner!

- Alysson :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (2): The Madness Underneath

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's a feature designed to spotlight upcoming novels we can't wait to get our hands on. Click the link for more!

The Madness Underneath
by Maureen Johnson
Series: Shades of London, #2
Release Date: February 26th, 2013
Publisher: Putnam Juvenille
Genre: Paranormal
After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Devereaux has been living in Bristol under the close watch of her parents. So when her therapist suddenly suggests she return to Wexford, Rory jumps at the chance. But Rory's brush with the Ripper touched her more than she thought possible: she's become a human terminus, with the power to eliminate ghosts on contact.

She soon finds out that the Shades— the city's secret ghost-fighting police—are responsible for her return. The Ripper may be gone, but now there is a string of new inexplicable deaths threatening London. Rory has evidence that the deaths are no coincidence. Something much more sinister is going on, and now she must convince the squad to listen to her before it's too late.

I love Maureen Johnson. Love her. She's one of the few authors on my auto-buy list actually. I have to admit though, it took me two tries to read The Name of the Star. But after finally finishing it, I can easily say I am hooked on this series. I love their concept, and I need to know what happens with Rory and Stephan... I just - I cannot stand Jerome. Honestly /SPOILER I wanted Jerome to be killer so Rory and Stephan would get together. /END So yes, The Madness Underneath, can't wait. :} I have to say though, I don't like any of the 3 cover designs.

The Shades of London series so far:

Have you read The Name of the Star or even The Madness Underneath yet? If yes, I'm mad jealous >_> What are you looking forward to this week? Leave us a link in the comments!