Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Best Books of 2012

I have finally decided on my favorites of 2012. I finally finished all of the books on my last reading stack of the year, except for re-reading Clockwork Prince. I try to finish it before the release of Clockwork Princess.
In Junior Fiction or Middle Grades Fiction my favorites were as follows: Top Three
1. Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan
Product Details
Hyperion Books

I loved all the books in the Percy Jackson series and so far all of them in the Heroes of Olympus. I loved watching the demigods grow into their powers and learn to work together.

2. The Fire Chronicle by John Stephens
The Fire Chronicle (The Books of Beginning, #2)
Knopf Books for Young Readers
The Books of Beginning series reminds me of the magic in Harry Potter and the suspense and adventure draw you into the story.

3. Unwanteds: Island of Silence
Island of Silence (Unwanteds, #2)
Aladdin
Another series that reminds me of Harry Potter with its magical world and the artistic magical powers of the students. The battle between good twin and bad twin provides extra spark to the story.

Favorite Short Stories:
My favorite short stories collections were as follows:
1. Demigod Diaries by Rick and Haley Riordan
The Demigod Diaries
Hyperion Books
This collection goes along with his Greek mythology series. By far my favorite one was Haley Riordan's story Son of Magic. It is an extremely impressive start for the teen and I can't wait to see what he writes as he gets older.

2. Goddess Legacy by Aimee Carter

The Goddess Legacy (Goddess Test, #2.5)
Harlequin Teen
I love her Goddess Test series and the Goddess Legacy was a great set of short stories, most of which broke my heart. God of Thieves was my favorite in this collection and gave more insight into the character of James/Hermes.

3. Fallen in Love by Lauren Kate

Fallen in Love (Fallen, #3.5)
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
This was an in between book to help readers waiting for Rapture in the Fallen series. Another group of heart-breaking stories, but my favorite was a good one in which Miles and Shelby fall in love. They were two of my favorite characters in the Fallen series.

It was hard to make a shortlist for Young Adult fiction this year. I could not limit myself to just three choices and really had twelve choices. I did get those twelve narrowed down to five, OK technically nine books.

1. For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

For Darkness Shows the Stars (For Darkness Shows the Stars, #1)
Balzer + Bray
This was a retelling of Persuasion set in a post-apocalyptic society. I loved Persuasion and the characters in Peterfreund's story were spot on with those in Persuasion.

2. Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld

The Leviathan Trilogy
Simon Pulse
Technically this is three books, but since I read them all this year, I am just counting the series as one. :) I loved the twists on WWI and the storyline of Deryn and Alek. I really enjoyed reading steampunk this year and this was my first taste of the genre.

3. The Girl in the Steel Corset/The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross

The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles, #1) The Girl in the Clockwork Collar (Steampunk Chronicles, #2)
Harlequin Teen
Again, I really enjoyed steampunk! I loved Finley Jayne and she is possibly my favorite character this year. Her struggles between her good side and bad side were extremely interesting. Plus the cover is beautiful!

4. Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent (Divergent, #1)
Katherine Tegan Books
I think this series was on most of the best lists this year. I loved Four/Tobias and he may be my favorite romantic lead this year. Tris was also a great strong female and I liked the idea of factions as something that could possibly happen. I just can't believe I haven't read Insurgent yet.

5. Hourglass/Timepiece by Myra McEntire

Hourglass (Hourglass, #1) Timepiece (Hourglass, #2)
Egmont
Hourglass was my first review and first 5 rating of the year. I love this series and am so excited there will be a third book. Emerson and Lily were my favorite friendship of the year and I just could not choose between Hourglass and Timepiece as my favorite of the series. Plus the covers are really cool!

Close runners up were Legend by Marie Lu and Enchantress by Michael Scott. I loved the whole Nicholas Flamel series by Scott and I really can't wait to read Prodigy by Lu.

This is my list for 2012. What was on your list for best of the year?

The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

This is the last book in the Darkest Powers series. If you have not read the first two books, The Awakening and The Summoning, then this will definitely have spoilers for those books.



Chloe immediately wakes up in the house of the Edison resistance group to a half-demon poltergeist who almost kills her. She knows he must be part of the Edison group's experiments but he refuses to talk to her about that. Chloe, Derek, Simon, and Tori have bigger problems though. Trying to convince the resistance group to move quickly against the Edison group, is not working and Chloe worries for her aunt's and Rachelle's safety. Chloe is struggling with understanding her feelings for both Simon and Derek and finds herself caught between the two boys. Chloe is also trying to learn more about her necromancer powers without creating an army of the undead. This proves difficult when she almost wakes up an entire cemetery. Her strong powers also create doubt with the resistance group and could put her in even more danger. Can the group be trusted and who is the true enemy? The supernatural kids are not for sure who to trust, but they are willing to rely on each other to save Rachelle and Aunt Lauren.

I thought this was a great end to the series. It is full of action and suspense and just a little romance. I really couldn't decide who I wanted her to end up with, but I think she made the right choice. I hope that Armstrong revisits these characters someday, but there is a clear ending to their story in this book.

Favorite Character: Chloe. She finally embraces her powers and remains strong. She does depend on Derek quite a bit, but she is also his support as well as Tori's in the end. She accepts that her life will never be the same, but she does not give in to despair. She still has her nice personality, but now with a little more edge.

Favorite Quote: "You aren't like her. She sees that now, what you are, what you can do, and it scares her. Scares and disgusts."

I really enjoyed this series. People kept talking about how good it was, but I was still surprised about how well I liked it. There is so much suspense and action that all three books were hard to put down. Definitely a 5 cups of cocoa book for me!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout

This is my December Random Read and the first book in the Lux series.

Katy and her mom need a change after the death of her father. Her mom moves them from Florida to West Virginia, where Katy is sure nothing exciting could happen, until she meets her neighbors. Dee and Daemon are gorgeous and Dee has a great personality. Daemon, however, is a jerk. Katy is both attracted and repulsed by him and Daemon keeps trying to push Katy away from himself and his sister. Katy refuses to back down and when Daemon saves her life on several occassions, she learns the truth about the twins and about the area. Daemon is an alien as is his sister and a number of people in their region. This is a closely guarded secret and one that could cost Katy her life for knowing. Not all aliens are sexy and good and the bad ones are coming for Daemon and the others and Katy could be caught in the middle.

It was interesting to read a book about aliens and this is first fiction book I have read with aliens as major characters. I like Armentrout's twists on her aliens powers and the villians are frightening. I also enjoyed her writing style and the humor of the book. The one thing that did bug me was hearing how hot or haut Daemon was. Katy and the other females repeatedly tell you this on almost every page. There was a little more to his character than this, but that and the fact that he was a jerk were stressed a little too much. I do like that Armentrout captures the teenage way of talking and I think that makes this series appeal to high school age teens.

Favorite Character: Dee. I really liked Dee and would love to learn more about her. She seemed like a caring person and the most human, even if she is an alien.

Favorite Quote: "It wasn't like I could tell them I did have an exciting weekend, one involving almost getting hit by a truck and proving the existence of extraterrestrial life forms."
I also liked this section.
"Daemon followed me home after school. Literally...
I'd braked-checked him several times.
He'd blown his horn.
It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside." I did enjoy the humor in this book. :)

The humor in the book was great, but there was too much talk about Daemon's hotness for me. I will probably read the second book in the series, because I did like the action and her take on aliens, but it may be awhile. 3.5 cups of cocoa.

Bout of Books 6.0 Reading Challenge

Bout of Books Read-a-Thon

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 7th and runs through Sunday, January 13th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 6.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books 6.0 team
 
I will update this soon with a list of books that I plan on reading!

Friday, December 28, 2012

2013 Telling Tales Challenge



I thought this looked like a fun challenge. It is hosted by Bex at An Armchair by the Sea. The goal is to read books that are related to fairytales and mythology and rereads count. You can also use these books in other challenges. For more information or to sign up, click here. I am trying for Troll Under the Bridge Level, which is 5 books.
My books for this challenge:
1. Night Dance by Suzanne Weyn

Books to be added later!

2013 Fairy Tales Retold Reading Challenge

Photobucket
I just signed up for the 2013 Fairy Tales Retold Challenge hosted by Debz Bookshelf! My goal is to conquer the Lady in Waiting level and read 5 books.Here are some of the books I'm planning on reading:
1. Night Dance by Suzanne Weyn

If you want to join me on my quest, you can learn more at http://debzbookshelf.blogspot.com/p/fairy-tales-retold-challenge.html

Books will be listed soon!

Friday, December 21, 2012

2012 Fall into Reading Challenge

I barely finished this challenge in time! I am glad I did, because these were some of my favorite series books this year. Legend was amazing and Rick Riordan remains one of my favorite authors. I am enjoying the Books of Beginning series and anxiously awaiting book 3. Even though I barely finished Beautiful Darkness before the end of the challenge, it was another great read. My original post can be found here. Thank you Katrina at Callapidder Days for hosting!

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

This will definitely have spoilers for Beautiful Creatures, the first book in the Caster Chronicles.
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Lena and Ethan barely survived Sarafina’s attack and Ethan only survived because of the Book of the Moons. Lena exchanged the life of her Uncle Macon for Ethan’s life and even though she did not know the consequences, she is filled with remorse. As Lena withdrawals from the world and Ethan, she grows closer to her Dark Caster cousin Ridley and the mysterious John Breed, who has the powers of an Incubus without the limitations. Ethan fears he is losing Lena and has no memory of her sacrifice and the two begin to drift, just as Ethan grows closer to Keeper in Training Liz, who is beautiful and mortal. When Lena breaks off their relationship and runs away, Ethan knows he has the save her and learns that he may actually be made for the job. Ethan, Liz, and Link scramble to save Lena, but could they be too late? The Seventeenth Moon is coming and Lena may be more Dark than Light.
I love the way the authors present the setting. Their descriptions of Gatlin and South Carolina are great and their use of the Tunnels to travel to Georgia also make me want to visit Savannah. The secondary characters are some of my favorites, particularly the characters of Amma, Link, Macon, and Ridley. I loved the flashbacks to Macon's past. I also think the relationship between Ethan and Lena is very realistic and the fact that both realize it is not going to be bubble gum and roses the whole time makes it believable. I can't wait to begin the third book, Beautiful Chaos.
Favorite Character: My favorite new character would be Liz. Liz is funny, compassionate, and English.  I almost wish Ethan would choose her over Lena, almost. I love that Ethan and Lena fight so hard to be together, but that they are willing to sacrifice their relationship if it is what they think is best for the other. I love Amma and Macon too, even though we don't see much of Macon in this book, except mainly through the flashbacks. I think Link is my favorite in this book though. He is hilarious and loyal both to Ethan and Ridley.
Favorite Quote: "We don't get to choose what is true. We only get to choose what we do about it." I think we often want to change the truth and that it is hard to accept when we can't do this, so I think this is a great quote for life in general.
I love the gothic feel of this series and the great characters. Definitely a 5 cups of cocoa book and series!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

2013 Dusty Bookshelf Challenge

The Dusty Bookshelf 2013 Reading Challenge

This challenge is hosted by Jessica at  Books A True Story. The goal is to read books that have been sitting on your shelves for a long time or ones on your to be read list that you may or may not own. I finished three books for this challenge last year for the Pixie Dust level. This year I am going to try for the Dusty Bunny level of 5 to 10 books. For more information about this challenge, click on the image at the top or this link http://www.booksatruestory.com/2012/12/05/2013-dusty-bookshelf-sign-ups/.

I will post updates here and on the 2013 challenges page.

2013 Sequel Challenge

I am already participating in Jessi's Paranormal Challenge, but I thought the Sequel Challenge would be a helpful way to finally finish some series! You have from January 1 to December 31, 2013 to complete the challenge and any book after book 1 counts toward the challenge, including novellas after book 1. I really need to finish Insurgent by Veronica Roth( I loved Divergent!) and the books in the Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa. I am sure before the year is out I will have started and stopped many other series as well. I will update this post when I decide on more titles to add to the list. For more information about this challenge click on the image at the top or on Sequel Challenge.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Reading Stack #26

I finished the three books on my last stack, so it is time to load up once again. I am reading Obsidian for my Random Read this month and so far it is interesting. I don't like Daemon much, although Katy seems to be attracted to him. I am only on Chapter 4, so maybe he will show some redeeming qualities soon. I am also reading Beautiful Darkness by Garcia and Stohl and I love getting lost in Lena and Ethan's story again, just like I did in Beautiful Creatures. If I can finish those two books I will have completed my challenges for the year. I would also like to finish the Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong, so I can see how the Supernatural kids story ends. I have started it, but I am trying really hard to read my challenge books first. I still have down to reread Clockwork Prince, but the odds of finishing it before the new year are not good. I love that series, but it breaks my heart everytime I read the twisted love triangle plot. So, I will stick with these four books for my end of the year reads. What do you hope to finish this year?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Legend by Marie Lu

Legend (Legend, #1)
Penguin Group


I finished my third book in the Fall Into Reading Challenge. Legend is the first in the Legend series and book 2, Prodigy will be released in January. It is often compared to the Hunger Games, which it does have an evil dystopian society,  but it is very different from HG.

Each year 10 year olds in the Republic take the Trial, a test to determine their worth to the Republic. June is the Republic's darling. She is the first to score a perfect 1500 score in the Trial and she is about to graduate from college at the age of 15. Day is the Republic's most infamous criminal and failed the Trial. He could be in league with the Colonies who are fighting the Republic saying that the Republic and the Colonies were once United States. He could be fighting for the Patriots, who want to overthrow the "elected" Elector Primo and his regime. In reality, he has his own separate agenda. Day has taken down planes and stolen Notes from a bank, but he never kills anyone, until June's brother Metias. June in her anger wants to hunt down Day and Metias's Commander Jameson and friend, Thomas are willing to allow her the chance. Day for his part was trying to find a cure for the plague for his younger brother. Day throws a knife at Metias as he flees the hospital crime scene, but he thinks he hits Metias in the arm. As June hunts down Day by going to the Lake sector of Los Angelos, she unwittingly befriends the boy and his tagalong Tess. She begins to fall for the boy, until she learns the truth. However as she learns more about Day, she begins to question all she has been taught to believe. Is Day really the cold blooded murder and troublemaker for the good Republic or is the Republic really the enemy? June's decision chould change her world.

I have read several dystopian novels lately and this is one of my favorites. The only one I liked better is Divergent. I loved Lu's writing style and I loved the dual point of views. I think having Day's words in a different font and color than June's was a brilliant publishing idea and it even reflected their different personalities. June's seemed more precise, whereas Day's seemed more thoughtful and informed. June's showed her beliefs in the systems and Day's his ability to see past lies and to the facts. The relationship between the characters was extremely believable and well-developed. I also had a very hard time putting the book down and the pace is so quick, you just don't want to stop reading. Her society seems possible and real, which is a scary thought. You just want June to wake up and take out the Republic. The story is both heart-breaking and thoughtprovoking and  I can't wait until Prodigy.

Favorite Character: Day. He loves his family and is willing to risk everything for them. Even though he knows he should be looking out for himself and his family, he can't help taking care of others, like Tess and June. He is also smart and resourceful and according to many of the females, good-looking.

Favorite Quote: "If you want to rebel, rebel from inside the system. That's much more powerful than rebelling outside the system. And if you choose to rebel, bring me with you."

Definitely a 5 cups of cocoa book! I was completely drawn into the story and loved the characters! Well-developed and extremely strong debut book!

Note to self: I really need to stop reading series or at least start reading sequels, because my TBR pile is huge!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Classic Double Challenge 2013



This challenge is hosted by Melissa at One Librarian's Book Reviews (1lbr). The idea is to read a classic book or original story, fairy tale, or mythology and compare that to a retelling or a book that relates to the classic story. Melissa lists several options on her site, which you can go to by clicking the image at the top or on her blog's name in this post. She also has different levels you can choose to complete.  Last year I just did the Small level, which is one pair. I read Persuasion and For the Darkness Shows the Stars and I loved them both! This year I am going to try for the Medium level, which is two pairs or four books. I think I want to do Ten by Gretchen McNeil and And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. I am already reading Ten for the New Author Challenge, but I would love to see how it compares to the original Christie story. I love reading Christie's stories when I am in a reading slump and surprisingly I have not read And Then There Were None yet. Other possibilities include Romeo and Juliet and one of the many retellings of this story or maybe another Jane Austen novel. I hope to pick my second pair soon.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

2013 New Authors Challenge

New Authors Challenge 2013








Artwork: Anglerfish by Vlad Gerasimov


The New Authors Challenge is hosted by Jackie at Literary Escapism. The idea is to find new authors that you haven't tried to read in the past. You can pick 15, 25, or 50 new authors. After finishing a book, you post reviews and link them to the New Authors post. For more info go to http://www.literaryescapism.com/new-author-challenge/new-author-challenge-2013.

I am going to try to read 15 new authors. I have a few ideas of authors I would like to read. I may try Rachel Vincent, Gretchen McNeil (I have seen so many great reviews of Ten), and Kristin Cashore. Hopefully I can branch out a little in my reading.
1. Ten by Gretchen McNeil
2.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

2013 Paranormal Reading Challenge


This is a paranormal reading challenge hosted by Megan Likes Books and Jessi at Auntie Spinelli Reads. The goal is to read at least 12 paranormal books, at least one each in the following categories.

  • Vampires
  • Werewolves/Shifters
  • Fey
  • Angels/Nephilim
  • Mermaids
  • Dragons
  • Zombies
  • Demons
  • Witches/Wizards
  • Ghosts
  • Aliens
  • Other (ie: sirens, unicorns, centaurs, time travel etc.)
  • You can read more than one in each category if you have time. The books can also count for other challenges. For more information click on the image at the top or on the links to the hosts' websites.

    January is Vampire month and I know that I want to read Vampire Academy for January. So far that is the only book I know I am going to read for the challenge. I will update this post as I choose and review.
    1. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead- finished and reviewed!
    2.

    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    Cold Fire by Tamora Pierce

    This is my last book this year for the Dusty Bookshelf Challenge. I finished three books and completed the Pixie Dust Level.

    Cold Fire is book 3 of the Circle Opens Quartet and this series follows the Circle Quartet. If you have not read any of the books in the Circle Quartet, this will have spoilers for that series. However, the books in the Circle Opens Quartet do not have to be read in a particular order at least the first three haven't.


    Daja and Frostpine have decided to travel around to different smiths, so that Daja can learn about how other smiths work. The two have settled down in Kugisko, a cold Northern town, for the winter. They will have to stay there until early spring when the mountain pass thaws. The two are staying with the Bancanor family, Kol and Matazi and their four children, the oldest of which are twin girls around Daja's age. Kugisko is a city made of wood and so it is prone to fires, particularly in the winter when everyone is trying to keep warm. Within the first weeks of Daja's stay, she witnesses a fire and notices a brave man, Ben Landradun, who is trying to teach the town how to fight fires. Daja wants to help Ben and begins working on gloves to help keep his hands from being scorched while fighting the blazes. However, Daja's free time is quickly occupied by the twins, Jory and Nia. Daja spots magic in Jory and learns she is a cooking mage and since one twin has magic, the other has to have it too. Daja scries Nia's talent as a carpentry mage and sets about finding mages to train the girls. Even though she finds mages, she is stuck with teaching the girls meditation to harness and control their powers and she has to teach the two separately. In the meantime, more fires break out and Daja and Ben realize the fires are being set. Can Daja help catch the firebug and teach the girls? With all this work, Daja is looking forward to the spring.

    I love this series and the world that Pierce has created! Briar is my favorite of the Circle four, but Daja is a close second. Daja and Frostpine have a wonderful teacher/student relationship and I think of the four, she has the teacher that matches her powers the best. Daja still mourns for her family, but she has now learned how to interact with others outside the Trading families. Out of the three I have read about so far, Daja is the one who has matured the most. I enjoyed seeing her teaching style and her interactions with the twins. Pierce masterfully creates a believable world and with her descriptions you can easily visualize the area. I like how magic in her world is tied so closely to the earth and how magic seems almost real and understandable.

    Favorite Character: Daja. She is strong- she is a smith mage after all- and very patient, even though she thinks she is not. Daja seems the most loving of the four Circle teens and she is also willing to trust others, both a fault and a virtue, more than her Circle friends.

    Favorite Quote: "That's magic for you, she thought gloomily. One part glory, one part fun, and one part polishing the brightwork till your back and your knees and your hands all ache." This quote is one of the reason's Pierce's magic is so believable. She shows that the mages have to really work at building and controlling their magic.

    I know in many reviews, people fault this book for revealing early on who the firebug is. A few moments are told from this person's point of view and you know within the first one hundred pages who it is. This did not bother me. I thought the point of the story was more that sometimes people disappoint us and that we cannot recognize bad people just by looking at them. The story also revolved just as much about teacher/student relationships. I thought both those themes were fascinating and knowing the firebug did not ruin this for me.

    5 cups of cocoa! I really want to read Tris's story now, but that will have to wait until next year!

    Saturday, December 1, 2012

    December Random Read


     

    Random Reads

    This is a meme hosted by Sarah at www.imlovingbooks.com. You can create a list or use your Goodreads To Be Read feature to choose a book. After deciding on your list, then go to random.org and type in the number of books on your list and see what you get for the month.

    
    Obsidian (Lux, #1)
    Entangled Teens Publishing
    I finished both my October and November Random Reads in November! For my December Random Read, my book is Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout. I have seen really good reviews for her book and have had this one on my list for a couple of months now. This one is about aliens and since I haven't read any books about aliens I am looking forward to something a little different. Here is the review.

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

    The Fire Chronicle by John Stephens

    This is the second book I have finished for the Fall into Reading challenge, so I am halfway to my goal. This is also the second book in the Books of Beginning series, so it will have spoilers for the first book The Emerald Atlas. If you have not read the first book, you may want to skip reading the review.


    Emma, Kate, and Michael are back at the Edgar Allan Poe Orphanage in the present time. The day after Christmas, fifteen years prior, both Gabriel and Dr. Pim left on a secret trip. The children are not happy about being in the orphanage again, but at least they are together, until screechers appear. Kate uses the Atlas to remove a screecher and goes to the past, while Emma and Michael are taken away by Dr. Pim. Kate does not appear immediately, but Dr. Pim assures the two children that they will see her soon. Their focus in the meantime is on the second Book of Beginning, the Chronicle of Life. Kate had informed Dr. Pim of dreams she had and one of these concerned her being in the past and Michael as Keeper of the Chronicle. Emma, Michael, and Dr. Pim set out for the city of Malpesa to find the book, when they are attacked by Rourke, the main supporter of the evil Dire Magnus. The children are sent off with Gabriel to find the second book, while Kate is stuck in the past in the final days before the Separation of the magical and nonmagical worlds. There Kate befriends Rafe, a boy with strong magical powers and a grudge against humans and she loses the Atlas, since it disappears after a few hours when brought to the past. As Kate struggles to find a way to her siblings, she discovers an awful secret, which could destroy the future, while Michael and Emma must find the second book before the enemy does.

    The second book is just as action-packed as the first and I loved learning more about the magical world Stephens has created. It was interesting to see how the world existed with magic and how prejudices could not be surpressed. Emma and Michael may mourn a world in which magic is hidden, but Kate realizes why it had to be so. I also like how the characters mature when they come into contact with the book they keep. In the first book, it was Kate realizing her parents loved her and that she must look after Emma and Kate. In this second book, Michael grows up and realizes he must take care of Emma. He also realizes he needs others and that fighting a dragon is not as big a deal as one would think. This series has magic like Harry Potter, but it is not a clone of the series. One of the main themes is the love between family members and how no matter what family ties can weather any problem.

    Favorite Character: Kate is still my favorite character, even though I enjoyed watching Michael mature in this book. Kate is loyal and strong. She chooses what is right over what is easy, even though her choice will have dire consequences.

    Favorite Quotes: "Each day, by our actions, we decide who we are."
     "But the point of life isn't to avoid pain. The point of life is to be alive! To feel things. That means the good and the bad. There'll be pain. But also joy, and friendship, and love! And it's worth it, believe me." That last one is a long quote, but it is so important. We often choose the easy way over the right way and I think that quote sums up why that is an awful choice.

    This book was even better than the first and I can't wait to read the third book, especially since this had a surprise cliffhanger ending! 5 cups of cocoa!

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

    Reading Stack #25

    I am over halfway through The Fire Chronicle and I hope to finish it by the end of the week. This series does remind me quite a bit of the magical world in Harry Potter, but it does have its own unique twists. I have also started Cold Fire which is my last Dusty Bookshelf read. I hope to start either Legend or Beautiful Darkness very soon, so that maybe I can finish my Fall into Reading list. What are you planning on reading this week?

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012

    Au Revoir Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber

    I am finally caught up on my Random Reads! This book was not what I expected, but it was a quick and interesting read.

    Perry Stormaire lives the life his parents expect. He plans to attend Columbia University, because his dad wants him to go there and Perry gives up being on the swim team to study more. The only thing he keeps for himself is playing in his band Inchworm. However when his band has a chance at a big break, his parents force him to take Gobi, their foreign exchange student to the prom. Gobi, however is not who she seems. She is actually an assassin who takes Perry on a thrill ride through New York City as she plots to kill five people. Perry does not know why or who is driving her actions, but he believes his family is endangered by a bomb Gobi says she planted. Perry has to decide if he can trust Gobi with his life, his family's life, and possibly his heart.

    I thought this was going to be a humorous read for some reason, which it did have some dark humor and sarcasm, but it was more of an action adventure/ coming of age type read. Not only is Perry dealing with Gobi's actions, but he also has to learn to stand up to his dad and choose his own life. Despite being a book about a female assassin, the violence is not extremely gory. It is a book that is hard to put down, because you want to find out why Gobi is killing people and if she is truly evil or driven by a higher motive. The suspense is great and I like Perry's sarcasm even in the face of death.

    Favorite Character: Perry. I like how in the beginning he seems just like a smart, too sarcastic teen who is both self-absorbed and easy to walk all over, but who by the end of the book is more mature and truly in charge of his own identity. The events of his life in New York truly are life-changing and I like how that is reflected in his personality change.

    Favorite Quotes: There are a few I liked in this story. This one illustrates Perry's sarcasm and sense of humor. "I couldn't remember the theme of the prom but it seemed to be along the lines of Social Darwinism Under the Stars."
    "In the end memory is a cheat and a lie and no substitute for what he called the real stuff, the stuff of life."
    "A tragic hero is an individual who, with every attempt to restore things to normal, only pushes himself further away from normalcy." I feel like this quote sums up so many of the characters I have read about this year!

    This is not my usual type of read, but I really liked it and would love to start on the sequel soon. It is a great adrenaline rush of a read. 4 cups of cocoa.

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012

    Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross

    I finished my October Random Read...in November. October seemed to be a really busy month, but I am glad that I stuck with Girl in the Clockwork Collar, because it was a very exciting read.
    There will be spoilers in this review for the Girl in the Steel Corset, because Clockwork Collar picks up where book one left off.

    Spoiler Space


    Griffin and his friends know they need to help Jasper and decide to travel to America to find out just exactly what crime Jasper has committed and to see if they can help him out of it. Griffin, Finley, and Emily believe he is probably innocent, but they would help him anyway. Jasper in the meantime is back in the clutches of Reno Dalton, the gang leader, he double crossed  and left behind when he went to England. Dalton was not the only person Jasper left behind and he is reunited with this person, the love of his life, Mei Xing. Dalton has trapped Mei and placed a clockwork collar around her neck, a device that will squeeze the life out of her if Jasper attempts to double cross him again. To save Mei's life, Jasper is willing to retrieve a device or rather pieces of a device he stole for and from Dalton. When Griffin and company arrive in America, they realize quickly that Jasper is not in jail, but in trouble of a different nature. Together with a lawman from the West, Whip Kirby, they try to prove Jasper's innocence in a murder case and Finley inflitrates Dalton's gang by proving her strength in the fighting ring without Griffin's approval. Can Jasper save himself, Finley, and Mei or will he have to make a desperate choice?

    The second book was just as exciting and humorous as the first in the series. I love the mix of steampunk and fantasy and it is nice to read a book in which both the heroes and the heroines are strong. Finley and Emily may not really need Griffin and Sam to physically protect them, but it is also nice to see that the boys are not just weaklings, which can be the case when you have a really strong heroine. I also like that Cross plays up each characters' flaws. Finley is trapped wondering if her dark side will take over, which compensates for her inability to really be injured. Griffin's power over the Aether is matched by his lack of superhuman strength, which makes him feel weak next to Finley and Sam. Jasper has his quickness, but he is also vulnerable due to his loyalty and willingness to trust. I also like that the books could be read separately, but still have very strong plots and they have true endings. The first one did have the cliffhanger of Jasper being taken to America, but it also had a clear ending with their problems with the Machinist.

    Favorite Character: I love tough Finley and her constant battle with her darker side. She is loyal and caring while also daring and strong. She can physically take care of herself, but emotionally she is very vulnerable. I also like Emily and her mechanical abilities. It is nice to see a female character with the ability to fix a machine! You also can't help but like the guys in this series and hopefully Jack Dandy will make a reappearance in the next book.

    Favorite Quote: "He glanced at Jasper. 'Your window's seen a lot of traffic tonight.' The cowboy chuckled-a hoarse sound. 'Maybe I should put in a toll.'" I like that even during tense moments, Cross provides a bit of humor.

    5 cups of cocoa! This was an entertaining read and I love reading a book in which I actually laugh out loud!

    Sunday, November 11, 2012

    Reading Stack #24

    The only book I still have from my last reading stack is The Girl with the Clockwork Collar, but I have only about a third of the book left to read. I hope to finish it by the end of next week. I have also started The Fire Chronicle, which is one of the books on my list for the Fall into Reading challenge. I plan to start Au Revoir Crazy European Chick this week as well since it is my November Random Read. I have checked out a few other books from the library, so we will see if they make it onto my stack or not. For now though I will try to focus on these three books. What are you reading this week?

    Saturday, November 10, 2012

    For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund and Persuasion by Jane Austen

    I have finally completed my two books for the Classic Double Challenge! I finished Persuasion a couple of months ago and I finally found time to read For Darkness Shows the Stars. I have avoided looking at other post on the same books, so now I am interested in seeing what other people thought and if we had similar ideas.

    For Darkness Shows the Stars is about the relationship between Kai and Elliot and a world that has been destroyed by technology and human experimentation. Elliot is the youngest daughter of a Luddite lord, Baron North. Elliot's older sister Tatiana and her father do not seem to care at all for Elliot. Elliot is the one who has to run the estate and protect the Posts and Reduced. The Luddites are the people who did not engage in genetic manipulation and their genes are "pure." The Reduced and Posts are people whose ancestors attempted to make themselves better by using a procedure called ERV. Most of the children born from those who manipulated their genes are Reduced, meaning they cannot really think or act for themselves sort of like being a two year old in an adult body. Things however are changing and some babies are being born normal and maybe even a little more enhanced. These children are called Posts and Kai is one of them. Many generations before Kai and Elliot the world was torn apart by the genetically modified when they realized their children would be Reduced rather than greatly enhanced. The Luddites hid with their children and the Reduced and survived this destruction, but most of the world did not, so at the beginning of the story, we learn our story takes place on an island and the people know little of the world outside their island.

    As children Kai, Elliot, and a Reduced girl named Ro played together and even questioned some of the rules governing the world. The Posts and Reduced are tied to their Luddite lords who feel it is their duty to protect them. Kai wants to leave and make something of himself. He wants to see the world and so does Elliot. Elliot promises to leave with him, but her mother dies. She knows her father is a cruel man and her sister has no interest in the farm, so she stays to protect the Posts and Reduced. Kai leaves and for four years she misses him.

    After four years, the Cloud Fleet asks to use Elliot's grandfather's shipyard to build a boat that will allow them to travel farther in the world. The North farm desperately needs money, because her father lives outside his means. When the Cloud Fleet arrives, Elliot immediately recognizes Kai, who is now Captain Malakai Wentworth. He is very cold to Elliot and verbally attacks her every chance he gets. Elliot in the meantime tries to get over Kai, while being dragged to the Post Cloud Fleet events by another group of Luddites, Olivia and Horatio Grove. Olivia and Kai appear to be falling for each other which hurts Elliot even more. While being around the Cloud Fleet, Elliot discovers dangerous secrets while hiding one of her own, and she must choose between love and lying or loyalty to her Luddite society. Can two people torn by the past ever reconcile and is love stronger than tradition?

    Comparison of the two is actually pretty easy. Diana Peterfreund wanted to take the love story of Persuasion and apply it to a post apocalyptic society. Elliot is Anne and of course Kai is Captain Wentworth as they share the same name. Not all the characters can match up as easily, but many of them can be compared to characters in Persuasion. Peterfreund also uses them same type of society, the Luddites are like the rich estate owners who have long been peers of the realm. The Cloud Fleet Posts are the newly rich who do not have the pedigree of the Luddites. While in Persuasion, a marriage between the old wealthy and newly rich would be a little scandalous, in For Darkness shows the stars, it would be an outrage. This is due both to the history of genetic testing and the prejudice in society.

    Also both writers made their heroine the best person in the story. Their values, morals, and sacrifices made most of the other characters seem shallow and selfish, which for the most part they are. Anne and Elliot have no comparison in the category of goodness, although this is less seen in Peterfreund's story.

    For me, when someone writes a story based on another story, it is feelings and thoughts the story invokes that proves if it is a good retelling or not. When reading both Persuasion and For Darkness Shows the Stars, I felt breathless and I know I gasped out loud a few times. You can feel the tension in the story through the author's word choices and phrases and you wonder all the way up to the last page how the story will end. Persuasion is one of the Jane Austen books that I have not watched as a movie or mini-series, so I had no idea if it would be a happy ending or not. I won't give the ending away, but through out both books you feel the suspense and tension that this might not end very happily for Anne and Elliot.

    The writing style was very similar too. In both stories I felt transported into a different time and even a somewhat different belief system. Both stories are very believable and you feel like you are part of the society and judging the characters too.

    I did not want either of these two books to end and I am so glad I chose Persuasion and in turn chose For Darkness Shows the Stars. These are two of the best stories I have read this year. I actually tried to drag out reading both books as long as I could, because I just loved the feeling I had reading them and I loved the characters.

    Favorite Characters: Anne and Elliot of course. They are both noble and loyal to those they care about. They are a little too self-sacrificing at times, but you can't help but admire them both.

    Favorite Quote: Since Peterfreund used some of my favorite ones from Persuasion in the book, I will just use a quote from For Darkness Shows the Stars. It is actually similar to one in Persuasion.

    "Once she'd thought there were no two people in the world who had more to talk about. They could say anything to each other-they had-and their affection had only grown stronger. But it had all come to nothing." I think this quote is so heart-breaking and expresses perfectly the feeling when love breaks apart.

    Rating for both books: 5 cups of cocoa for sure!!

    I can't wait to try this challenge again next year and actually get an earlier start on it! Hopefully I can read a few more classics next year and books with classic twists. I love fairy tale retellings, so I may read the original fairy tales and do a challenge with those. Thanks to Melissa at One Librarian's Book Reviews for hosting this challenge!

    Sunday, November 4, 2012

    The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

    This post may have spoilers for The Summoning, the first book in the Darkest Powers series.


    The Awakening is the second book in the Darkest Powers series, and it picks up shortly after the events of the Summoning. After Aunt Lauren's betrayal, Chloe and Rachelle are trapped in the institution controlled by the Edison Group. Chloe learns that Tori is there as well and blames her for betraying their escape attempt. Rae and Tori seem willing to stay with the Edison group, but all Chloe can think of is escape. When Dr. Davidoff tells her a little about the Edison group, Chloe wants to learn more. She hacks into Dr. Davidoff's computer and learns that experiments were conducted on 20 supernatural children and a few of these were considered failures. Rae, Tori, Chloe, Derek, Brady, and Liz are classified as failures and two of them Liz and Brady were terminated because of this. Liz continues to help Chloe, but Rae refuses to believe what Chloe tells her. When the Edison group decides to use Chloe as bait, she and Tori, who overhears the truth from her mother, escape and search for Derek and Simon. When the group is reunited, it will take all their wits and powers to survive on the street. Is there anyone that can be trusted and what is the truth behind the Edison group's experiments?

    The second book is just as good as the first and I enjoyed hearing Derek's background and seeing Chloe develop her powers more. This is definitely a fast paced series with all the action and betrayals. I hope the third book will give more of Tori's and Rae's backgrounds. I am glad that Armstrong keeps the character's personalities, especially Tori's. She does not make Tori into a nice girl even though she is escaping with the group and helping the others. Tori is a witch both in her powers and her personality. The relationship between Derek and Simon borders on a love triangle although romance takes second place to trying to survive. The story is believable with a nice paranormal twist. I hope to add the last book to my to read list soon!

    Favorite Character: I still like Chloe. She is as Tori puts it, too nice, but other than that, she is strong and loyal. She is also not judgmental and even cares for Derek after he treats her horribly. She is the weakest protecting herself and she is not suddenly superhuman over night, but remains in need of protection. However she is not a damsel in distress, just normal, except for the whole talking and controlling the dead thing.

    Favorite Quote: "Harsh truth was better than comfortable lies. It had to be."

    Usually second books are nowhere near as good as the first, but this one was just as suspenseful and attention-grabbing as the first. 4.5 cups of cocoa and I hope to start the Reckoning very soon!
    Favorite Quote:

    Random Read-November

    Random Reads
    This month's Random Read is Au Revoir Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber. This one is about a boy writing his college entrance essay and the crazy time he had with a foreign exchange student who is also an assassin. It sounds both funny and action-packed. This will be a nice break from all the paranormal romance I have been reading lately. I still have to finish Girl with the Clockwork Collar and I am about halfway through it. Hopefully I can finish both of these books before November ends!

    Thursday, November 1, 2012

    Progress Report

    So I finished Iron King, which means I actually completed the Spooktacular challenge! However I did not finish my Random Read for October :(. I am still reading Girl with the Clockwork Collar though and actually read 80 pages today! I also finished The Awakening and will be posting the review in the next day or two. I am debating picking a Random Read for this month, since I did not finish the last one. I will need to create a new list, since most of my titles are either on a list for another challenge or I finished them for the past two months challenges. I am thinking of making a list of books I would like to reread that I have not reviewed here or choosing a title from a list of ARCs and e-galleys. I will give it a little more time and maybe finish another book before I decide.

    Tuesday, October 30, 2012

    Iron King by Julie Kagawa

    I had this on my stack once this year and barely started it when I decided to read something else. I looked at reviews that said this was a really dark book (which it is a bit dark), had an attempted rape scene (which it does, but it was not a long scene thankfully) and that the characters were emotionless (which was not the case). Based on a few reviews I stopped reading it at that time. Then I decided to do the Spooktacular challenge and thought it would be a good time to pick up this book again. I am glad I did!

    Meghan Chase is your ordinary teenage girl. Her family is not wealthy, but she at least has her IPod. She lives with her mother, stepfather, and half-brother Ethan. Despite not having the best clothes or a car, Meghan makes the most of her life and she loves her family. So when her brother is taken to the Faery world and replaced with a changeling, Meghan knows she must save him. She is helped by her friend Rob, who turns out to be Robin Goodfellow aka Puck. Puck agrees to take her to the Summer court of Oberon and Titania to see if Ethan is there. The two are separate and Meghan makes a deal with Grimalkin, basically a fey cat, to help her find Puck and when they do she will owe Grim a favor. Grimalkin leads her to the Summer Fey, but they do not find Ethan. However, Meghan finds out Oberon is her father and that she is half-faery. She also learns about the feud between the Summer and Winter courts and meets Ash, the youngest son of Queen Mab of the Winter faeries. Meghan also notices little iron bugs, one of which causes a monster to attack the two courts at their peace meeting. This could mean war, unless Ash, Puck, and Meghan can prove the existence of the Iron King, leader of the Iron Fey. Meghan must join forces with her enemy Ash to save her brother and the two courts, but can Ash be trusted?

    This is a dark fey story, but I enjoyed it. Julie Kagawa created a lush, deliciously dark world where no one is safe and everything comes with a price. Her descriptions of her world show a deadly, but beautiful place and it seems real enough to exist. Her characters are very rough around the edges, but you cannot help being drawn to them. It did take me a bit to get into the story, but as soon as I started Part II, I hated to put the book down.

    Favorite Character: Definitely Meghan. Her responses to being a part-fey were very realistic. She did not just suddenly turn into a kick-butt heroine, but she did not pretend to be a damsel in distress either. She cries at times, she gets mad, but she keeps going. She knows her flaw is her loyalty to others, but she claims it with pride. She is one of the best heroines I have read about this year.

    Favorite Quote: "The Nevernever is dying, human. It grows smaller and smaller every decade. Too much progress, too much technology. Mortals are losing their faith in anything but science. Even the children of man are consumed by progress. They sneer at the old stories and are drawn to the newest gadgets, computers, or video games. They no longer believe in monsters or magic. As cities grow and technology takes over the world, belief and imagination fade, and so do we." I know this is a long quote, but I think it is so true!

    I really want to start the next book in the series, but I HAVE to finish a few other books first. I loved this dark story and it gets 5 cups of dark cocoa!

    Saturday, October 27, 2012

    Reading Stack #23

    I have finished The Selection and Mark of Athena. I have around 100 pages left of Iron King, but I hope to finish it before the weekend is over. It is a dark read so far, but pretty good. I have started Girl with the Clockwork Collar, but there is no way I will finish it before October ends. So far it is as attention grabbing as the first, but I have had little time to read since Monday. I started the Awakening, because I wanted to know what happens next, so I did go off list as usual. I still have For Darkness Shows the Stars in my stack too, but it has been neglected again. My goal is to try to finish these four books before starting anything else. We'll see if I can do this! Hope you are enjoying your reads for this week!

    Sunday, October 21, 2012

    The Selection by Kiera Cass

    I wanted to be able to read this book for a very long time, so when I finally received the hold notification, it had to go to the top of my list. I ended up buying it anyway, so I could have saved all that waiting time if I just bought it. So, you can tell this is going to be a high rating book, if I had to buy it even though I had it on loan. :)

    America Singer is in love with Aspen, but she is a Five and he is a Six. In America's society of
    Illéa, you are ranked according to your station in life. The royal family are Ones and Twos and Threes are the wealthy. Fours have a little more than Fives, Sixes, and Sevens. Eights are the homeless and desitute. A girl should not marry below her rank and so America and Aspen keep their love a secret. Then the Selection occurs. Prince Maxon is of marrying age and so 35 girls will be chosen from Illéa and one will be his wife. Aspen and America's family convince her to enter and her mother promises to let her earn her own money. America enters just so she can save money to marry Aspen, but when she surprises him with an expensive dinner, he decides to end their relationship over his pride. America is chosen as one of thirty-five. There she competes at first half-heartedly, but then she wants to be Maxon's friend. Soon she wonders if friendship is enough and if she can truly leave Aspen behind. Can she make it to the end and which love should she choose?

    The cliffhanger ending will have readers begging for book 2, which I won't mention the title of, because it is spoilerly. I loved Kiera Cass's writing and the world she has created. I couldn't believe it ended without a choice, but I can't wait to read Book 2, which sadly will not be out until April. I loved getting to know the other girls through America's eyes and the book reminds you of what it must be like for girls who do pageants. Cass shows the competitiveness and the fragile friendships formed with the girls in their desire to win, but be liked. The love triangle between America, Aspen, and Maxon is interesting and it is hard to decide who should be together. At times I did want to yell at them all, especially America, but I am satisfied with the choice she made at the end of this book.

    Favorite Character: I liked Marlee, one of the Selected girls who seems the most honest and real. She is friendly and America's one friend other than Maxon. She is hiding a secret though, so she may turn out to be not so nice in the next story.

    Favorite Quote: "'In my experience, true love is usually the most inconvenient kind.'"

    The idea of a selection is an interesting concept and I love that she did not downplay the ugly side of the contest. I enjoyed her world of Illéa and the characters particularly the Selected girls. I have not made up my mind about the love triangle just yet. 4.5 cups of cocoa!



    Friday, October 19, 2012

    The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

    This is book 3 in the Heroes of Olympus series, which follows the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. You should read the Percy Jackson series first and this post will have spoilers for that series and the other two books in the Heroes of Olympus.


    Annabeth, Jason, Piper, and Leo are nervous about entering the Roman camp, but they manage to keep safe from Terminus and things seem to be going great. However Leo fires on the camp and the 4 plus Percy, Hazel and Frank manage to escape with their lives. The Argo II is damaged, which forces them to stop for repairs in Kansas. While in Kansas, Piper, Jason, and Percy learn that they will be fighting two giants to save Nico, Hazel's brother and son of Hades. They also learn they will need the help of Bacchus/Dionysus to defeat the pair. It is there that Jason and Percy try to kill each other and Piper manages to diffuse the situation. She learns the pair and Leo have eidilons or ghosts controlling them, but she is able to banish the spirits for a time. The group travels to Rome and it is in Rome that Annabeth will have her own quest. She must find the Mark of Athena and save the Athena Parthanos statue to prevent war between the Greeks and Romans and to help the gods not be divided by their duel natures. She must face down one of her biggest fears, but do it completely alone. THe others will be focused on defeating the giants and saving Leo. Can the group of seven succeed or will the cost be the lives of two demigods? The cliffhanger ending will have readers on edge for the 4th and peniultimate book in the series.

    I love all of Riordan's books. They are filled with humor and suspense and while geared toward a young teen/tween audience, I think adults can appreciate the humor and his detailed attention to the myths of Greece. The end really surprised me and it will be hard to wait a year to find out what will happen next. I was worried that the 7 character perspective would be confusing, but Riordan manages to make each story flow into the next one and each character still has a unique personality and way of looking at things. I loved how he showed the growth of each character. All of them struggle with issues of trust and each learns that they must work as a team and sometimes give up the lead in order for the quest to succeed. Riordan manages to make each of the seven seem like the main character.

    Favorite Character: It is hard to choose, but in this particular book, I liked Leo the best. He has some of the funniest lines and he most of all learns how to interact better with people.

    Favorite Quote: "'I teach music and poetry!' Aphros said. 'Life skills! Homemaking! These are important for heroes.'"
    "'Being a hero doesn't mean you're invincible. It just means that you're brave enough to stand up and do what's needed.' 'And what if I don't know what's needed.' 'That's what your friends are for.'"

    This is my favorite book in this series so far and possibly my favorite series book read this year. Definitely 5 cups of cocoa!

    Sunday, October 14, 2012

    Reading Stack #22

    Right now I am almost finished with the Mark of Athena, less than 100 pages left! There are several books I should be reading, but I keep wanting to jump off my lists this month. I have just started The Selection by Kiera Cass, which was not on any of my TBR lists, but has caught my attention. I am also very slowly reading For Darkness Shows the Stars and I have made very little progress with this since my last reading stack update. It is a good story and very much like Persuasion, which I liked, but I just keep picking up other books. I have also started Iron King for my last book in the Spooktacular Challenge. I really enjoyed the other two books I read for that challenge, Blood and The Summoning and would love to start the sequels, but I just don't have time at the moment. I have also barely started my Random Read, The Girl in the Clockwork Collar, so the odds of finishing it before the month ends are not good.

    Are you confused? Yeah me too. I have picked up too many books. To help with the confusing, I am going to focus on finishing Mark of Athena in the next day or two. I will stick with The Selection since it is an e-book borrow and I have less time with it than with my other books. I think my last book on the stack for the moment will be Iron King, so that I can maybe finish the Spooktacular challenge. However, I keep going off list, so you never know.

    Thursday, October 11, 2012

    Blood by K.J Wignall

    William of Mercia, heir to the Earl of Mercia, died in 1256, however he didn't stay dead. Although preferring the term undead, Will is a vampire who needs blood to quench his hunger. Will spends long periods in hibernations, but when awake, he tries to feed as little as possible. When Will emerges in current time, it was his first time awake since 1989. He adapts quickly to his surroundings thanks to a mysterious chamber left him by an unknown benefactor. His first feeding is an unusual victim, Jex, a drug addict, who speaks even though he is hypnotized. Jex warns him that Lorcan Labraid, the evil of the world, wants him. Jex says Will must find the girl, because she needs him and he needs her. After killing Jex, Will takes a notebook with prophecies and a drawing of a pretty girl. Will quickly meets this girl, named Eloise, and he has feelings for her, that he has not felt in many centuries. Another prophecy warns Will that he may have to sacrifice Eloise. Will he sacrifice her or will she be worth more to him than the answers he craves? Who is Lorcan Labraid and what is Will's destiny?

    The first in the Mercian series leaves many questions unanswered. The story is both a love story and a mystery. It is a quick read and you are left with the desire to know more. I wish the book was a little longer, because the story did feel a little rushed and a few more answers would have been helpful. However I do want to read the sequel, Alchemy.

    Favorite Character: Eloise. Although at times I wanted to scream at her that she should not be so trustworthy of Will, I did find her an interesting character. She was someone who appeared strong and fearless. I wish her character was explored a little more and hopefully it will be in the second book.

    Favorite Quote: "Death is the backdrop against which I act out my life." I thought this was an accurate description of what it would really be like to be a vampire, not as glamorous as some books make it to be.

    I liked the way Will reacts to being undead. He doesn't make excuses and at times seems cold heart, which would fit being "alive" for hundreds of years and just watching people you care about die and knowing each time you sleep lives are going on and ending. I wish there had been more details in the story and more answers, but overall it was an interesting and quick read. 3.5 cups of cocoa.

    Sunday, October 7, 2012

    The Unwanteds: Island of Silence by Lisa McMann

    I finally finished what I have been calling the Unwanteds 2 and only a week late for the Sequels challenge. However my lateness is not because the book was bad, but because of lack of free time.

    Unwanteds: Island of Silence picks up after the first book, with Necessaries pouring into the magical Artime after the defeat of High Priest Justine of Quill. Mr. Today assigns last year's Unwanteds including Alex, Lani, Samheed, and Meghan to try to help the Necessaries adjust to life in Artime. In the meantime, the Wanteds of Quill are not adjusting to being without the Necessaries's labor and want to force the group back to Quill. Those formally in charge are upset, but few are willing to challenge High Priest Haluki, Lani's father. The main exception is Aaron Stowe, Alex's twin brother. Alex can not forgive his twin for trying to kill him, but he does not want to fight his brother. When Mr. Today asks Alex to be his successor, Alex rejects him, but continues to train with Mr. Today, so that he can take a vacation. As Alex learns more about the job, he begins to regret his decision, but the idea that he might have to face his brother if he takes charge, keeps him for telling Mr. Today he has changed his mind. Lani is becoming distant with Alex, because she wanted to be chosen, but doesn't share this with Alex, and Meghan feels rejected by her family. Samheed who likes Meghan feels jealous of her work with another Unwanted. With their friendship strained, Samheed, Meghan, and Lani decide to go on an adventure, but Alex cannot join them because of his training duties. The adventure is ill-timed and with a horrible tragedy, Alex may be left to pick up the pieces alone.

    The second book in the Unwanteds series is darker than the first and the ending is very bittersweet. Even though things seem bleak, there is hope in the end. I love the world McMann has created and this is another story with very flawed characters, who are still likeable. She broke my heart at the end of the story, but I will not tell how, because it would be really spoilery.

    Favorite Character: Alex. He really matured with this book and his hesitancy is what makes him such a great character. He is capable, but lacks confidence. I can't wait to see if he gains this confidence in the next book. He is also very caring and cannot even bring himself to hate his brother.

    Favorite Quote: " 'Forgiveness is not a negative trait.' Mr. Today walked to the window and looked out. 'Not if one possesses common sense. Which you do.' 'And it's a priceless gift, too, for common sense is not something one can just acquire at will. You either have it or you don't, as they say.'"

    This series does remind me slightly of Harry Potter, but only in the sense that McMann is able to create a believable magical world with likeable flawed characters, just like in HP. 5 cups of cocoa for sure and I really want to read the next book!

    The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

    Chloe Saunders wants to be the next great director and often views life as being filmed. Her mother died when she was younger and her father travels all the time, moving her from one apartment to the next, but other than that she is pretty normal. She has been able to attend the same school, an art school, to train to be a director and screenwriter, but all that normality changes when she starts to see ghosts. Suddenly she is labeled a schizophrenic and forced to live at Lyle House, a place for troubled teens. There she meets Liz who seems to throw pencils and other objects at people, Rae who loves fire and seems to control fire, Tori who just seems moody, Simon who seems normal, and Derek who is rude and a little too strong. Chloe tries to focus on being normal, but when she discovers she may truly see ghosts and that the others may have supernatural powers of their own, she puts her life and those of the other teens in danger. Something sinister is hidden at Lyle House and the truth could doom them all.

    I loved this twist on the supernatural. I haven't read very many stories with necromancers or mediums, so this was a nice surprise. The story is suspenseful and the surprise cliffhanger ending has me really wanting to read The Awakening. The characters are flawed, but likeable and the story is very fast-paced. Obviously since I finished it in about a week's time, which is really surprising for my reading pace is usually terribly slow.

    Favorite Character: Chloe. She seems very realistic and very innocent. She is not the perfect heroine, which I liked, but she is loyal to the other Lyle House teens. She is also not judgmental and she is very caring. Her reactions to her powers also seem real and she doesn't just automatically accept her abilities, but tries to look at the situation logically.

    Favorite Quote: "You're a supernatural. You're always in danger." "Time to turn off my galloping imagination and focus. Direct the scene." I like when Chloe looks at things like being behind a camera. It is a unique perspective and fits her personality.

    I was really surprised I enjoyed this story so much. The series has been recommended by several of the teens who come into the library and now I see why. I can't wait to add The Awakening to my reading list. 4.5 cups of cocoa!

    Thursday, October 4, 2012

    October Random Read

    Random Reads

    This month's Random Read is The Girl with the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross, which I added to my list after finishing the first book for another Random Read. I am really excited to read this one and hope that I get time to finish the challenge this month!

    Sunday, September 30, 2012

    Reading Stack #21

    I am not going to be able to finish my fourth book for the September is for Sequels challenge by the end of today. I am over halfway through with Unwanteds 2: Island of Silence, so I do plan on finishing it very soon. It will stay on my stack. I am going to add back For Darkness Shows the Stars for the Classics Challenge and I am about a third of the way through it. Blood by Wignall will also be on the stack for the Spooktacular Paranormal Reading Challenge. However as soon as I get a copy of Mark of Athena, it will become top priority. I love Riordan's books and I tend to focus solely on them when a new one comes out. I will probably also do a Random Read again this month, so that will join the stack as well. I hope to have more time to read this month than I did last month, so maybe I can actually finish a few of my challenges.

    Friday, September 28, 2012

    Spooktacular Paranormal Reading Challenge



    This challenge is hosted by Marie at Ramblings of a Daydreamer. For this challenge you have to read at least three paranormal books. The books can cross over into other challenges as well.
    For this challenge I am going to try to read:
    1. Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa
    2. The Summoning by Kelly Armstrong
    3. Blood by K.J. Wignall
    Hopefully this will be spooky enough for me, but not enough to give me nightmares.

    City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

    This is definitely spoilery if you have not finished the previous books in the series.

    I kept putting off ready this book, which I bought on its actual release date. I couldn't figure out why, until I read and finished the book, then I remembered that Cassandra Clare's books tend to make me think for days about them and I don't get anything else done. This one is no exception to that.


    Clary refuses to let the last words to Jace be, I'll be right back. Ever since Jace and Sebastian disappeared, Clary has felt horrible. After Clary is pardoned for bringing Jace back from the dead, she focuses solely on finding Jace. The Clave has other concerns and drops the search, but Clary, Isabelle, and Alec refuse to give up. They go to the Seelie Queen who promises to help them find Jace in exchange for two gold rings that allow for talking between minds. When Jace appears and wants Clary to go with him, she knows she must. To keep the others informed, she keeps one ring and gives Simon the other. She will stay with Jace and Sebastian and Simon, Izzy, and Alec with Magnus's help will search for a way to separate Jace and Sebastian. The two are bound by Lilith's ritual and one cannot be killed without the other being killed. Every day she is with Jace and Sebastian, Clary is in danger, and Simon and the others are also in danger due to the means they use to find a solution. Can Clary save Jace or is the tie that binds him to Sebastian too strong and will it lead to a sacrifice too great?

    The fifth book in the series is just as good as the fourth! I love how Clare creates her characters and how she makes you care about them and at times breaks your heart. The characters stay with you and their choices have real consequences, which makes them more believable. In this book, I love how she focused on the theme of forgiveness, what can be forgiven and what can't. I also loved the secondary characters' romances-Izzy and Simon, Magnus and Alec, and Jordan and Maya. I think I enjoyed those more than even Clary and Jace. The only problem I have with the book is the use of GD, sometimes I feel like it doesn't make sense for Shadowhunters to use that term. I also just dislike the use of it in general, but that is my main problem with the whole series, so for the most part I enjoy them.
    Favorite Character: Clare's take on religion in the series is interesting and for me Simon is the most interesting, because of his faith. I love that he has kept his faith despite everything. He is a vampire, but still shows his Jewish faith and has respect for it. He is extremely loyal and loving, and while naive about Izzy and her feelings, he truly seems to care for her. I will be very sad if he dies in the end, but I can see how it could happen. He would sacrifice himself for those he loves.

    Favorite Quote: There were several, but this one is my favorite. "We're meant to protect each other, but not from everything. Not from the truth. That's what it means to love someone but let them be themselves." Clare has some beautiful quotes in both her series.

    I loved her use of forgiveness in this book and I love the characters in this series. 4.5 cups of cocoa!

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

    Enshadowed by Kelly Creagh

    This will be spoilerly for Nevermore if you have not read it.

    Isobel will never give up on Varen, even though she knows it will be difficult to re-enter the Dreamworld. Her one hope lies with catching the Poe Toaster aka Reynolds as he brings roses and brandy to Poe's grave on January 19. She knows she must manipulate her parents to bring her to Baltimore and she pretends to be interested in college and the cheer squad there. While waiting for their decision, Isobel experiences dreams that involve Varen, which she hopes are real and dreams with Pinfeathers, the Noc, which she hopes are not. She sort of fills in Gwen on her plans, but Gwen is terrified when she learns they involve Lilith. Gwen helps Isobel figure out that Lilith is a demon with control of Varen, but Isobel refuses to be disuaded from her plan to save Varen. If she can convince her parents to take her to Baltimore, she thinks she stands a chance, but could it be too late to really save Varen?

    Enshadowed picks up shortly after Nevermore with Isobel depressed and desperate to get back to save Varen. The book is extremely slow paced and the action only picks up in the last 20 or so pages, but wow what a last twenty pages!  I did enjoy delving into Isobel's relationships with her family. It is interesting to see her obsession with Varen and how that overpowers all of her other relationships. The cliffhanger ending has me eagerly awaiting the sequel.

    Favorite Character: Gwen. I love Gwen's quirky attitude and her loyalty to Isobel, despite her fears.

    Favorite Quote: "Sleep now a little while, Till within our dreams we wake, Unfolding our Forever, If only for Never's sake." I liked the eeriness of the song in the story.

    It took me a long time to read this book, because the action is mainly in the end. Second books in the series are not usually as exciting, so I was not surprised. I do like the characters and only wish Varen was in the story more. However the third book is set up to be really great! 4 cups of cocoa.

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

    Caught by Margaret Peterson Haddix

    I decided with this review to change from bars of chocolate to cups of cocoa, because if I ever put graphics on here, bars of chocolate could look like something else. ;) I will try this new system for awhile and see if I like it.

    JB warned them to have fun while they could and now that time is coming to an end. Jonah and Katherine are shocked when time stops in the middle of their school day. They run into Angela, who is able to take them in her car powered by an Elucidator to Chip's house. There Jonah and Katherine overhear part of a message from JB warning them about problems in time, before they are accidently sent to 1903. They learn that JB has sent a child back, despite promising them he wouldn't. The child happens to be the daughter of Albert Einstein. Complications ensue when Mileva Einstein gets control of the Elucidator and begins to learn the truth about time travel. It is up to Jonah and Katherine to save time, but they must decide what they are willing to sacrifice.

    The fourth book was my least favorite and seemed really slow in pace, but Caught, the fifth book in the series made up for it. Caught read like the first two books in the series, with lots of suspense and a great historical tie. I loved learning about Mileva Einstein and her life and the debate about just how much she influenced Albert's work. I loved how the children handle the moral dilemmas and how much they grow with each book. The twist at the end was a major surprise and I can't wait until the next book.
    Favorite Character: Jonah. Jonah really matures in this book and comes to realize how important people in the overall scheme of things. Haddix does an excellent job showing how his character grows and I can't wait to see who he really is.

    Favorite Quote: "'You're saying our lives are like light waves/quanta?' JB asked. 'We have fate and free will all at once?' 'Exactly!' Jonah said."

    I really enjoy this series and only wish that the books came out closer together. Haddix does a great job with historical detail and has convincing time travel ideas. 5 cups of cocoa!

    Fall Into Reading 2012 Challenge


    This looks like a fun, straightforward challenge, which may help me with finishing up my last few reads of the year. You just make a list of books to read between September 22 and December 21 and try to read them. The link for the challenge is here.

    The books I would like to read before the year out include the following:
    Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan
    Legend by Marie Lu
    The Fire Chronicle by John Stephens
    Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

    I will stick with these four for now, because I still have a few more challenges to finish.

    Sunday, September 23, 2012

    Progress Report

    I am almost finished with Caught, Enshadowed, and City of Lost Souls for the September is for Sequels challenge. I hope to finish Caught today and the other two by the end of the week. I am only a third of the way through Unwanteds 2, so I don't know if I will finish it before the end of the month. For some reason it took me a very long time to get interested in my books this month, although I do like them. I will update soon with a review of Caught.

    Sunday, September 16, 2012

    The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

    This was my Random Read for September and it was very funny.

    The story revolves around the Princes Charming, the nameless heroes or not so heroic princes in the stories of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Frederica, Cinderella's prince, is a pampered, protected prince who wants nothing more than to live his life with Ella, enjoying quiet picnics and doing nothing dangerous. Ella, however, is a free spirit and now that she is no longer under the control of her stepmother and stepsisters, she wants to travel the world having adventures. Ella, although she cares about Frederic, leaves to have an adventure, and Frederic follows to try to convince her to come back. Along the way he meets Gustav, Rapunzel's prince, who has had a fight with Rapunzel. Gustav agrees to help Frederic and the two travel on, learning that Ella has been captured by Zaubera, the witch from the Rapunzel story. Zaubera has kidnapped all the bards, the ones who basically made the princes into the generic Prince Charming. Her plan is to take over all the kingdoms by destroying the armies who come to save the bards. Ella manages to escape, but Gustav and Frederic still think they need to save her. They team up with Liam, who is on the run from the mean Briar Rose aka Sleeping Beauty, and Duncan, Snow White's prince. Along the way the four princes learn what it is like to be despised, adored, and ignored. Even though the four dislike the bards they join forces to try to save the day and make themselves into the League of Princes. Can they save the day or will they prove they are only worthy of the title Prince Charming?

    This was a humorous look at the fairy tales and it was interesting to see the flaws of each of the princes and princesses. Healy has a ten year old villian who flicks spitballs at his enemy, a giant who knows his manners, and a Prince scared of everything. This is a great first book in the series and this will be a series I want to keep reading.

    Favorite Character: I think Frederic and Ella were my favorites, although I am not for sure if they will stay together by the end of the series. Ella is brave and loving. Frederic knows his limitations and despite his flaws, he becomes brave.

    Favorite Quote: "Some of you may not even realize that there's more than one Prince Charming. And that none of them are actually named Charming. No one is. Charming isn't a name; it's an adjective."

    Reading a junior fiction book was a nice change of pace from all of the young adult books. The story was light and funny. 4.5 bars of chocolate for this one and I will definitely want to read the other books when they are released.

    The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

    I have put this review off long enough.

    Charlie has lost a friend to suicide and really seems to have no other friends. He decides to write letters to an anonymous person sharing what happens to him and his memories about events in his life. Charlie feels lost until he becomes friends with Patrick and Sam, two seniors, while he is just a freshman. Patrick and Sam introduce him to their friends and they spend the year partying, performing Rocky Horror Picture Show, and falling in and out of love. Charlie falls hard for Sam, who tells him to not fall in love with her, and ends up staying in love with her even past the end of the book. Patrick, Sam, and all their friends have major issues, like sexual abuse, being gay and having a partner who is not openly gay, being addicted to drugs, and having abusive relationships. Despite all the problems, the teens feel infinite in the way you do when you are young and have a life to look forward to living. In the end that is what Charlie's friends teach him, to live his life.

    The book is like a mix of Catcher in the Rye and The Bell Jar, but something about it just did not appeal to me. Possibly it is the fact that it is written in letter form or that I spent most of the book trying to figure out what was really wrong with Charlie and did not get as involved in the actual story. It was not all bad, I think there are several parts with which teens will identify, like listening to a song that makes you feel alive and bickering families.

    I did not really have a favorite character in the book. I thought his parents seemed pretty realistic, not bad parents, but not all there for Charlie either.

    Favorite Quote: "And in that moment, I swear we were infinite."

    It took me awhile to decide on the rating, but I think 2.5 bars of chocolate is about right. I thought the book was ok, just not for me. I can see why some people love the book and others not so much. For me it was ok.