In My Mailbox {20}

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren, which allows bloggers to share what books they’ve received in the past week. They can be from stores, contests, tours, publishers, libraries, borrowed books from friends, and the list goes
on! It's just a way of highlighting the books you received in the past week and making sure they're featured on the blog.

This week is a special Christmas and birthday edition including last week's haul because I didn't get around to posting an IMM over the Christmas weekend!

I hope you had a good Christmas, as I did, and that you'll have a good New Year as well! I received a LOT of books I'm really excited for both as Christmas gifts and as birthday gifts (I'm a Christmas baby - and just turned 21!)

The Christmas/birthday haul:

  • Dark Passage (Dark Mirror #2) by M.J. Putney
  • Touch of Frost (Mythos Academy #1) by Jennifer Estep
  • Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) by Kendare Blake
  • Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
  • Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey
  • Vampire Academy boxed set (Vampire Academy #1-4) by Richelle Mead
  • Winter Town by Stephen Emond
  • Ward Against Death (Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer #1) by Melanie Card
  • The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell
  • Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik
All of the above were received from family as gifts :)
  • Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs (gifted for the book blogger exchange from Michele @ Just a Lil Lost! Thank you!)
  • The Hunger Games beading - made by my little sister for me! Those are all teeny, tiny little beads.
  • Pride & Prejudice Kate Spade book clutch - It isn't a REAL book, but it's too bookish not to show off! Also a gift from my family :) It opens up and has tons of space inside!
  • COLLECTOR'S EDITION: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (gift from my little sister)
  • Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony by Jeff Ashton (another gift, this one from my papa; I'm really interested in the legal field and have been following this case for years so this was a great surprise. Because I don't ALWAYS read YA ;) haha!)
  • The Gathering Storm (Katarina Trilogy #1) by Robin Bridges (received from Random House Canada for review) TBR ~ January 10, 2012
  • ARC Living Violet (The Cambion Chronicles #1) by Jaime Reed (won in giveaway from Kensignton Teen)
And then I also went on a little shopping trip at Chapters while they had their hardcover sale on and I had a gift card...

  • Graceling (The Seven Kingdoms #1) by Kristin Cashore (purchased at Chapters - for only $6 because the hardcover was on sale!)
  • The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (purchased at Chapters)
  • Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer (purchased at Chapters - I've already read an ARC but I knew I HAD to get a finished copy!)
  • Switched (Trylle Trilogy #1) by Amanda Hocking (purchased at Chapters - again, I already read the ARC but I needed a finished one and it was out early along with Cinder)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Volume 1 by John Vornholt, Arthur Byron Cover, Alice Henderson (purchased at Chapters - I've been on a Buffy kick recently)
  • Pretty Guaridan Sailor Moon Volume 1 by Naoko Takeuchi (purchased at Chapters)
  • Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally (received from Raincoast books for review)
  •  ARC The Vicious Deep (The Vicious Deep #1) Zoraida Cordova (received from Raincoast books for review)
So clearly it has been a big, big week for me in terms of books... but I've been doing lots of reading as well!

I'd love to see what books you've received, and will be sure to check out your post if you leave the link in a comment :)


Top Reads of 2011

Somehow, I'm going to make an attempt to narrow down what my favourite books have been this year; which will be difficult since there were so many wonderful and enjoyable books this year, and I can only base them off the ones I have read this year. I am limiting this list to books which were released in 2011, though.

This list was so difficult to make because there were SO many out there! But Delirium definitely takes the cake for the strong impact it left me with. There were so many wonderful books that came out this year, but these are some of the top ones that really stuck with me and left a lasting impression :)

The Iron Knight was an outstanding conclusion to a great series- but it literally blew the previous books out of the water. It took me on such a ride, and I just inhaled that book! But I was incredibly satisfied with how it ended, thankfully!

Dearly, Departed is easily one of my most creative, interesting books I've ever read. It truly does stand out, and the characters really stuck with me.

Touch blew me out of the water. I was NOT expecting to love it as much as I did, but I ended up falling HARD for it. Obsidian was the same way- both making a very strong year for Entangled Publishing.

How many of these have you read or are you planning to read? Did you love them as much as I did? Are there any others you think I missed? I'd love to hear your thoughts! <3

*Note: Burn Bright hasn't been published in the U.S. yet, but was published this year in Australia (and I read the Australian version).

Review: Tangled Tides

Tangled Tides (The Sea Monster Memoirs #1) by Karen Amanda Hooper
Release Date ~ November 25, 2011
Rhemalda Publishing
ISBN13: 9781936850433
Goodreads Synopsis:
Yara Jones doesn’t believe in sea monsters—until she becomes one.
When a hurricane hits her island home and she wakes up with fins, Yara finds herself tangled up in an underwater world of mysterious merfolk and secretive selkies. Both sides believe Yara can save them by fulfilling a broken promise and opening the sealed gateway to their realm, but they are battling over how it should be done. The selkies want to take her life. The merfolk want something far more precious.
Treygan, the stormy-eyed merman who turned Yara mer, will stop at nothing and sacrifice everything to protect his people—until he falls for Yara. The tides turn as Yara fights to save herself, hundreds of sea creatures, and the merman who has her heart. She could lose her soul in the process—or she might open the gateway to a love that’s deeper than the oceans.
Young Adult fans of Mermaids, Selkies, Sirens and Gorgons will love this tale of the sacrifice one makes for genuine love. Love that could be lost at any moment to the ever-changing tides.

I'm a lifelong member of The Little Mermaid fan club, but strangely enough I haven't been much of a fan of mermaid books. Honestly, I had yet to find one that I really enjoyed and I was a bit worried about that with all of the upcoming mermaid books. But it's official, I've been converted- all thanks to a little book called Tangled Tides.
Rich in thoughtful, artistic mythology and intricate characters I found myself charmed with the story and its characters and by the end I was craving more!

  1. Stunning mythology:
    Like I mentioned above, Tangled Tides is just full of this. And Karen masterfully weaves traditional elements with some ideas of her own and boy, does it ever work! The sheer amount of history and world building is phenomenal, and easily one of my favourite aspects of this novel. And I'm hoping that later stories in the series will have a strong emphasis on this and other characters in this world, because the plotline seemed to be tied up fairly neatly at the end. Seriously though, the amount of thought and creativity behind the relationships of the gorgons, selkies, mermaids, and sirens is astounding. You must read this book if only for this element alone.
  2. Flawless romantic tension:
    I love a good romance story, as much as any person. But I was so impressed by this one, because of how natural it felt and how the characters just seemed to gradually flow together. In my mind there were no questions that they should be together, but I didn't realize it at first. The tension between the two of them ended up being intoxicating and the execution was nearly flawless.
  3. Flawed characters:
    The romance may have been flawless, but the characters were not. They were so imperfect, but it lended a sense of unpredictability to the events and outcome. Karen really nailed their development, and made them come alive. I know that as readers we tend to look for characters we can identify with, ones who aren't presented as perfect individuals and every single characters was like that in Tangled Tides. There isn't any clear "bad guy" nor "good guy" and even Yara would frustrate me to pieces at times, only to redeem herself later on.
I have to say that there were some times it suffered from the cheese-factor. We're left with some really cheesy lines with the romance, that didn't really resonate with me. Even Yara points it out at one time, so it isn't just me! But hey, as long as she can own it. And besides that some things were both odd and cool at the same time. Mermaids are apparently coloured like a rainbow (your rank/social status determines your colour. In ROYGBIV order) and they also work as mood rings. Yep. Mood rings. They sort of change colour depending on their mood. It's kind of a neat idea, but it also just seemed kind of random.

But overall, a VERY enjoyable and surprising read. I mean, I'm convinced that good mermaid books are out there (even if I've only read one so far) so it must be a good book! I'm really curious to see where this goes as a series, because the ending didn't seem very open for more to take place regarding Yara. We'll see, maybe there are more surprises in store. It could easily be read as a stand-alone though.

Review copy received from publisher in exchange for my honest review; no other compensation was received!

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery


Author Interview: M.R. Merrick

Today I have the opportunity to interview the awesome M.R. Merrick, autor of a fantastic book Exiled (The Protector #1). If you haven't heard of Exiled, make sure you check it out and you can read my review of it as well. And at the end of this interview, you can enter to win one e-book copy of Exiled!

Exiled features two seriously tough characters, both of whom I adore. So tell us, in your opinion, who would win in a fight: Rayna or Chase?

That’s a really tough way to start this interview…I really don’t know. They each have such different strengths and weaknesses. Realistically, they’d both probably inflict life threatening wounds and die together, but I if I had to bet money on it, I’d go with Rayna. She’s scrappy, a natural survivor, and has more control over herself and her abilities. There’s a fire that exists within her that’s different from Chase, and right now, I think it puts her on top.

A lot of reviews (including mine) have included a mention of how Exiled is great for fans of Cassandra Clare's Shadowhunter books. What do you think about this comparison and have you read any of her books yourself?

I’ve read the first three books. I haven’t read the fourth yet though. I’ve gone out of my way to avoid spoilers, but the drift I get is that the greatness continues. As far as being compared to it, I have mixed feelings. On the plus side, it’s an incredible honor. I mean, that series is beloved by so many, how can you not be excited about that! It overwhelms me that anyone would talk about my series in the same sentence with TMI, but I definitely love hearing it. On the down side, EXILED is the first book in a new series, from a new author. I’m just starting out, and being compared to The Mortal Instruments seems like setting the bar right at the top. Not that I mind. I love a challenge, but I hope that comparison doesn’t leave readers going into my story with expectations so high; there isn’t room for me to steal them away to my world. Although readers who enjoyed TMI are likely to enjoy EXILED, I still want them to be prepared for something entirely different. All this might be a completely irrational thought, but it exists nonetheless.

Before Exiled came out, did you already have an idea of where the series would end up? If so, has your idea of the ending to the series changed at all since you've been writing?

I definitely knew where it was going – or so I thought. Right before I sent EXILED off to the editor, I had a blast of inspiration for book two, SHIFT. It was the perfect direction for the story to go, but as I was writing it, I had an epiphany of sorts, and I realized the story might be on a more epic scale than even I realized. I haven’t committed to the new idea completely yet. The Protector series was originally planned as a trilogy, I’ve had the end in mind since I finished the first draft of Exiled, but this new idea makes everything…bigger. I really need to brainstorm and explore this new idea first, before I know if I will take it to that level, or if it will remain a trilogy.

Why did you decide to write Exiled? Was there anything that inspired you in particular? Anything you hope readers will take away from reading it?

I didn’t really mean to write EXILED. I always loved writing, but I’d never tried my hand a fiction. I kind of stumbled across the idea for the story and it just slowly grew into what it is. My daughter inspired the entire process. I’ve always been all over the place career wise. I get bored easily and need a constant challenge. One thing I never wavered from was that I would always be home at night to tuck my daughter in. We’d read stories before bed, but every now and then she’d ask me to make one up, and tell her a story, and so I would. I created new worlds, new, fun creatures, and new adventures every night. It sparked a creative need inside me that I had to explore. Although my books aren’t children books, the reason Exiled exists is because of her. I didn’t write Exiled with any special meaning behind it. If there is any underlying message in it, I didn’t put it there, it happened on its own. All I want readers to do is pick it up, and disappear into my imagination, if only for a few hours. See what I saw. Feel what I felt. Explore the world, characters, and creatures, and become a part of Chase and Rayna’s journey. If nothing else, I want to provide a temporary escape from reality.

Being a self-published author, could you share with us some of the hardest and some of the best things about taking this route to get your book published?

The hardest part is getting your name out there. Marketing is a frustrating business when you don’t really know what you’re doing. Sometimes one thing will work wonders for one author, and have no results when tried by others. It’s a constant game of change. The other part is the criticism. You can’t appeal to everyone. You know this going in. Being a self-published author comes with an instant uphill battle. You don’t have a publishing house behind you, and a lot of readers are turned off by this. You have to work harder to put out a product that’s equal to something a publisher would distribute, and do it all on your own dollar. When you pick up my book, without looking at the copyright, I don’t want you to be able to tell difference between self and traditionally published. That’s not to say my book is without errors, but I really worked towards putting out the most professional product I could. On the other side of the coin, you do all the leg work. That isn’t always fun, but you have full creative control. You decide what stays and what goes. You decide on the face you give your book. You hire the artists, you hire the editors, you determine release date, promotions, etc. That part of it is great. The other part is the community. There is a massive independent author community out there, and it isn’t a cut throat one. They’re supportive, they’re encouraging, and they pick you up when you’re down. They help spread the word about your book, and some are willing to read it, even when in its roughest form, to help you make it better. I think the worst thing an author can do, is face the publishing world alone. At times, it’s a really harsh business to be in. People can attack and tear apart something you’ve spent an entire year of your life creating, and you shouldn’t have to go through that by yourself. You don’t have to tackle this industry alone, so don’t. Join all the authors and incredible book bloggers out there, and work together to make your dreams come true. It isn’t going to happen overnight, so you might as well be in good company while you wait.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Matt!

And to go along with his interview, I'm giving away an e-book copy of Exiled to one of you! It's a wonderful, fabulous book and I can't wait for one of you to read it. The book will be purchased from Smashwords, so you can see which files are available on there- even if you don't have an e-reader, this one can be purchased to read on the computer.

Good luck!

Review: The Beautiful Code

The Beautiful Code (The Start-Up #3) by Sadie Hayes
Release Date ~ December 20, 2011
Backlit Fiction

Goodreads Synopsis:
Set against the fast-paced, winner-take-all world of Silicon Valley, where today’s software geek is tomorrow’s billionaire, The Start-Up chronicles the meteoric rise of Adam and Amelia Dory, a talented brother and sister team. With only each other to rely on, the na├»ve eighteen-year-olds must make their way through a treacherous world of money, power, and envy.
This suspenseful and exciting episode is the third installment in an ongoing serial story.

The ending to The Anti-Social Network was KILLER so I just had to pick up The Beautiful Code ASAP. This entire series is like that; hook, line, and sinker. I'm really impressed by how much Sadie is able to fit into these books seeing as they're rather short, and if I didn't like the series already I definitely would after this one.
By The Beautiful Code, we're familiar enough with the stories and characters to have a better sense of what's going and who these people are and really makes it exciting to see where this is all headed.

  1. Amelia:
    Amelia is worth reading the books all on her own. She's outstanding, and easily my favourite character out of the bunch. All of the characters are turning out to be drastically different from the types of people I originally predicted they were, but Amelia is one that really stands apart from the rest. I think, if anything, these books seem to be a story of Amelia growing up and exploring who she is and coming to terms with herself and her past. And by this book, we're really starting to see her act on this which is great!
  2. Who's the villain? Who's the good guy?
    I am constantly going back and forth, and back and forth, trying to figure out who I can trust and who I can't (which is probably what Adam and Amelia are doing as well). Nobody is quite as bad as they seem to be, and nobody is quite as good as they present themselves. There is this constant drama of people discovering their secrets, and their motives, and who knows which secrets? I kind of miss having a Gossip Girl character around just to keep everything straight for me, but it's delicious reading all the same. It's just constant surprises and revelations, one after another = fun!
While there are quite a few things I LOVE about these books, I'm really hoping for some new changes to spice things up in the next few. Less cliffhangers, and more development of other secondary characters, and even Adam because he doesn't seem to be doing too much yet. But the writing is as good as ever, and there were some things hinted at in this read that I'm hoping will be fully fleshed out soon...

Review copy received from author in exchange for my honest review; no other compensation was received!
Rating: 3.5/5


Review: Cinder

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer
Release Date ~ January 3, 2012
Feiwel & Friends
ISBN13:  9780312641894
Received from: Raincoast Books for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

A really good fairytale retelling is amazing because it takes a familiar, well-aged story and maintains those familiarities that we love but gives the reader a deeper appreciation for the story overall.

Marissa Meyer has taken Cinderella to astounding new heights, incorporating a favourite fairytale with the action and intrigue of a sciene fiction novel, but with the emotion that ties it all together. An instant new favourite on my book shelf. Take a look at my copy in 10 years and I'm sure you'll find it well-loved and the pages worn, right next to another favourite of mine: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine.

  1. A flawless retelling of a beloved tale:
    Flawless. I can't emphasize that enough. I have never been a big fan of the Cinderella story, but for some reason there seem to be hundreds of retellings on it and I've read a large proportion of them. Ella Enchanted is an old standby for it (and a must-read for every reader) BUT Cinder is just as good. JUST AS GOOD. Cinder and Kai are just as likeable as Ella and Char, and I loved them immediately. And there isn't any fairy godmother or glass slippers in this story, but it is just as enchanting. Cinder is the same overburdened, brave and engaging girl we know but is even more admirable for her strength and determination to give all that she can to those she loves. (Also, there's a little bit of Anastasia in here too. Just a few small elements in it, but it's there!)
  2. Impeccable storytelling:Marissa masterfully lures you into her story world and creates this incredible adventure for you to become a part of- I mean literally become a part of the story, because that is exactly what it felt like. She is no stranger to writing, and her experience shines through easily. Is there a Marissa Meyer fan club? Because I'd really like to be a part of that. Somehow she takes this really intriguing, yet bizarre,  mash-up of inspiration and ideas to come up with a bold new face in the YA world. In doing so, she took a chance and completely succeeded.
  3. A whole new setting:
    I only briefly mentioned this above, but Cinder is a really great blend of ideas and I think the setting is the main way we really see evidence of this. Rather than being set in some Medieval fantasy world, Cinder takes place in the future with some distinctive science fiction, futuristic, even post-apocolyptic/dystopian elements. This really makes it stand out among other novels and sets the bar high for those to follow it.
  4. Widespread appeal:
    Not only does it's crossover with genres and the setting make it more interesting for wary readers (even male readers are going to find enough action and no overload of dull romance), with something for everyone. But even better is that it's going to appeal to such a wide variety of ages from younger readers (I'd say that as young as 11-12 year olds would enjoy this and find it appealling) to older audiences as well.
This is the kind of book that will take the book world by storm. A very strong start for YA in 2012, one that will be difficult to follow up. I'm really excited for the remaining books in the series, and dismayed that we have to wait so long (Scarlett comes out in 2013). Presumably these next books look like they will feature other characters, but I'm so attached to Cinder and Kai that I hope we get to see much more of them in future books!

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Guest Post: 2012 Anticipated Books

Guest Post by Danya from A Tapestry of Words

As 2011 winds down, it's time to start thinking, not just about the past year of reading...but what next year holds for us! And from what I've seen, it is looking equally — if not more — fabulous for YA in 2012.

Here's a list of a few books I'm eagerly awaiting, organized by genre:


The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe — love the premise of a disease being the main antagonist and everyone being put into quarantine. Sounds amazing!

The Selection by Kiera Cass — a competition for marriage to royalty in a dystopian society? I am intrigued...

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons — I like that this one takes place in the not-too-distant future, and the protagonist can remember what life was like before. Also, I'm a sucker for love spanning across enemy lines...


Tempest by Julie Cross — this book both works for my "New Adult" reading challenge AND sounds just plain awesome!

Queen of Glass by Sarah J. Maass — I've been looking forward to this one for quite a while now! Originally it was supposed to be released in 2011, but it's been bumped to 2012. Can't wait for this story of Cinderella...as an assassin!

Grave Mercy by R. L. LaFevers —I've been hearing pretty much nothing but good things about this book, and everything being said makes me think this will be very much my kind of read. Plus, love the striking cover!

A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont — going inside the world of Jane Eyre? Um, YES PLEASE.


Tokyo Heist by Diana Renn — an art heist in Japan! What's not to love?

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12143472-the-traitor-and-the-tunnel">The Traitor in the Tunnel by Y.S. Lee — these books are so much fun! Mary and James have such a wonderful dynamic. Plus, the author is Canadian, which is always a bonus :) Really looking forward to the 3rd in this series!

Thanks very much, Brenna, for letting me share with your readers a few of the 2012 releases I'm itching to get my hands on!

Readers, what books are you really looking forward to in 2012? Are any of these on your list?


Hightly Anticipated Books of 2012 ~ Branching Out

For the months of October through December, I've been sharing with you some my most highly anticipated YA novels for 2012; but because there are so many, I'm breaking them down into categories.

Today, we're looking at a top ten list for some exciting books coming out in 2012 from authors we're already familiar with who have new books coming out, that are not part of an already established series, although companion novels are included in this list (and yes, these ones are in order from least anticipated to the #1 pick):

10.          Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult & Samantha van Leer TBR: June 26, 2012

9.            A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger TBR: June 2012

8.            The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen TBR: February 16, 2012
7.            Getting Over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald TBR: January 24, 2012

6.            Revived by Cat Patrick TBR: May 8, 2012

5.            A Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink TBR: March 20, 2012
4.            Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith TBR: January 2, 2012

3.            The Diviners (Diviners #1) by Libba Bray TBR: November 1, 2012
2.             Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins TBR: 2012
 1.            Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1) by Julie Kagawa TBR: April 24, 2012

Comment and tell me your thoughts on my list! Have you read the books in these series already? Do you think you will? Did I miss any books? What sequels are you most looking forward to in 2012?

Review: On a Dark Wing

On a Dark Wing by Jordan Dane
Release Date ~ December 27, 2011
Harlequin Teen
ISBN13: 9780373210411

Goodreads Synopsis:
"The choices I had made led to the moment when fate took over. I would learn a lesson I wasn’t prepared for.
And Death would be my willing teacher."

Five years ago Abbey Chandler cheated Death. She survived a horrific car accident, but her lucky break came at the expense of her mother’s life and changed everything. After she crossed paths with Death—by taking the hand of an ethereal boy made of clouds and sky—she would never be normal again.
Now she’s the target of Death’s Ravens and an innocent boy’s life is on the line. When Nate Holden—Abbey’s secret crush—starts to climb Alaska’s Denali, the Angel of Death is with him because of her.
Abbey finds out the hard way that Death never forgets.

This ended up being a complete surprise of a book for me; but such a neat YA read! I think people are really going to appreciate the unique plot this one has, and the fact that it's a stand alone novel as well!

  1. Unpredictable twists:

    While I was reading, I was so curious about what was going to happen and I was having a hard time trying to predict what I thought would happen- well, I was wrong. There aren't very many books out there that I can say this about, so Jordan Dane earns points for being able to do this successfully. And I was really pleased with how nicely Jordan tied things up in the end.
  2. Admirable characters:

    There were so many different characters I liked in this book; especially that the teens all had parents who were involved and active in their lives in one way or another. I especially liked reading about Nate's parents, who I thought were so wonderful! I'd kind of like them to adopt me. Nate and Tanner ended up being two of my favourite characters, because they were such real, all-around great guys. Abbey is a lucky girl to know these two, just putting it out there.
Abbey, on the other hand, was a different story. I had a hard time getting past how annoying she was; she was hyper-obsessed over her crush, and not in a typical YA way. In a creepy, stalker kind of way. It just isn't normal, and I was so fed up with her.

And I wasn't thrilled by the way she narrated; perhaps it was just the way it was written, but it was noticeable during the first few chapters that there seemed to be too many bad jokes and puns. Once or twice, they would have been cute or clever but they overwhelmed the text.

There also wasn't as much explanation regarding the background and reasons for what happened, which would have been nice towards the end. It wasn't mythology I was familiar with and it was so interesting to read about, but it felt like it was lacking some of that extra information to really pull it all together.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery


Guest Post: Book Characters during the Holidays

Guest Post by Zahida from Musings of a YA Reader

Considering the year is soon going to end (which means it’s time to start making lists about your favourites of 2011) and with Christmas coming up, I thought I’d help Brenna celebrate with a guest post asking some characters from books I’ve read and enjoyed this year a little about their holiday experience. Here today are Carmen from Jessica Martinez’s Virtuosity [my review], Gabi from Lisa T. Bergren’s River of Time series [my review] and Jordan from Miranda Kenneally’s Catching Jordan [my review].

Zahida: Hi, guys! Thanks so much for taking some time off to drop by and answer some questions for me. Let’s get started! Gabi, what’s Christmas like in medieval Italy?

Gabi: This will be our first Christmas in medieval Italy, so I'm about to find out. Marcello tells me there is much feasting, but primarily after Christmas Day, celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas, or Christmastide, as they call it. The biggie will be Twelfth Night, I hear. We starve all day (fasting is a religious thing), and then at 12:01, it's party-time, baby. Marcello wants it to be the biggest feast the castello has ever had, so we're busy planning.

Zahida: Oh, that sounds interesting. I wish I could come see it! Okay, the next question is for you, Jordan. What kind of Christmas or holiday traditions does the Woods family engage in?

Jordan: My dad is usually playing football or watching football on Christmas day, but if he doesn't have a game, Mom makes a turkey and we gorge ourselves on mashed potatoes and pie and mulled cider. Then our church usually does a dinner for the underprivileged and my family will go help serve food.

Zahida: That seems like a really comfortable way to spend Christmas Day. Speaking of relaxing; Carmen, I know how busy your life is so I wondered whether you get a chance to chill over the holidays as well. What do you do during Christmas?

Carmen: On Christmas Eve we go to midnight Mass just so that when we call my grandmother in Italy the next morning we can say we went. Then on Christmas Day we open gifts, and listen to music, and at some point during the day Diana and I end up performing our favorite parts of the Messiah for Clark. I’m not sure whether he actually listens, but he does make us the most amazing Christmas dinner, which is good enough.

Zahida: Fun, and you and Diana get to spend some time with Clark. Alright, the next few questions are for everybody so we’ll start with Jordan, move onto Gabi and finish off with Carmen. What is your favourite thing about Christmas or the holidays in general?

Jordan: I love the smells of apple cider and pine trees, and gaudy ornaments.

Gabi: I'm actually into quiet things – time with my family, good food, games – just us. And candles – I love lots of candles. It's so magical! It'll be hard to be without a tree this year. They don't celebrate that tradition, and Dad is paranoid about introducing anything that isn't historically accurate. We've already messed with the time-space continuum enough, he says. I might have to go for a walk in the woods and cut a branch of pine, just to smell that amazing smell again, you know?

Carmen: Having the day off from practicing!

Zahida: Getting a chance to relax is my favourite part of the holidays too, Carmen. Okay, let’s begin this next question with you. What was the best Christmas present you ever received?

Carmen: One year Clark gave me tickets to a comedy club – totally un-music-related and I loved it.

Jordan: When I was 12, my family gave me a football autographed by Joe Montana.

Gabi: My gramma's locket, with a picture of her grandparents inside. I'm still sad I don't have it here with me. Mom says I just have to remember them in my mind, but it's not the same thing as having something tangible, you know? I used to wear it every day. But I was running late, getting out the door to the airport when we came to Italy the last time, and forgot to put it on. It's still sitting on top of my dresser. Can someone grab it and post it to medieval Toscana, please?

Zahida: Gabi, I’d totally mail you your locket if I lived in Colorado. Since I can’t, tell me what you’re hoping to find under your Christmas tree this year. We’ll start with you, Gabi.

Gabi: I already have it. My family, here with me. And now Marcello...Something I thought it was impossible, improbable ... I get to have everyone I love best, with me every day. I still haven't gotten over the gift of that. Buon natale!

Jordan: Keys to a Harley – I've always wanted a motorcycle but my parents always say no way.

Carmen: New running shoes and an iTunes gift card.

Zahida: Well, there you have it! Now that you know a little more about how some characters spend their holidays, how do you celebrate yours?

A big thanks to Lisa, Jessica and Miranda for participating, and to Brenna for letting me guest post.

DON'T FORGET- you can enter to win one of FOUR big prizes for my Christmas event here.

Wrapping Up 2011 Readathon Contest

For all of you who are participants in the WU2011 Readathon, I hope you're enjoying it! I know it's a busy time of year, but hopefully you're challenging yourself and fitting in any reading at all that you fit in :)

As part of this event, I offered to host a small contest with a prize donated by me for one participant to win!

It's pretty straightforward. Below I'm including some small previews of book covers taken from books I'm hoping to read during the readathon. You can find my total list of books here on my kick off post.

See if you can figure out the TITLE and AUTHOR which matches to each book cover, and then fill out the form. That's it! Those participants with the highest number of correct entries will be entered into a random draw to win a prize. At the end of the readathon, I'll be in contact to let them know the selection of 2012 ARCs I have available for them to choose one book from (I'm not 100% definite on the list yet because it is determined by the books I read during the readathon, but I can say they will include Catastrophic History of You and Me, Cinder, and definitely some others).

Rules: Must be 13 years of age or older.
You must have signed up for the WU2011 Readathon AND must have updated your reading/TBR list at least once.
Open to US and Canadian addresses only.
I am not responsinble for items lost in mail.
I reserve the right to delete entries as I see fit.
Winner must respond within 48 hours of my e-mail announcing their win, or a new winner will be chosen

And good luck! Happy reading :)

Review: The Anti-Social Network

The Anti-Social Network (The Start-Up #2) by Sadie Hayes
Release Date ~ October 22, 2011
Backlit Fiction

Goodreads Synopsis:
The Dory twins grew up with nothing. Now on the verge of having everything, their fledgling company—built on Amelia’s intellect and Adam’s ambition—threatens to be torn apart by new, powerful enemies and old, malicious ones.
The Anti-Social Network is the second episode in The Start-Up series, a fast-paced and exciting serial story.

The day after finishing The Start-Up, I dove into The Anti-Social Network dying to know what was going to happen. Sadie and Backlit Fiction have clearly found a formula that works for them- and as much as I enjoyed this one, I'm starting to wonder how long this formula is going to continue to work.

  1. Secrets Revealed:
    We get to know a lot more about Adam and Amelia's past, and the kinds of secrets which were only mysteriously mentioned in The Start Up, and this definitely provides some necessary backstory to keep the excitement going and makes it a bit easier to relate to the characters. It's nice getting some answers, even if they do only lead to more questions.
  2. Lots and lots of curveballs:
    I honestly have a hard time trying to pin down what's going to happen; I'm the kind of reader who can't help but try to predict what will happen in the book. Every time I do that with this series, I end up being wrong. There is just so much going on, and these characters aren't predictable or boring in ANY way. But that makes for a very exciting plot!
You definitely get great build up, and a good storyline filled with questions, suspicion, and mounting tension. But I have to admit, I'm not overly impressed with books that continually end with a big revelation and semi-cliffhanger. Yes, it grabs my attention. But those tricks only last for so long before I lose interest. So while I enjoyed this one, I have to wonder how long I'm going to keep enjoying them if it does end up in this set pattern, becaues what I love is the unpredictability and twists, and I don't want it to lose that.

That being said I'm even MORE excited for the third installment, The Beauiful Code, and I am just giddy with anticipation waiting to figure out where this goes!

I'm hoping that some more of the sub-plots introduced in the first one will be better fleshed out soon, because there are quite a few characters and conflicts between them that were established but weren't dealt with much in this book. Fingers crossed for more of them later (I'm looking at you, Patty)!

Review copy received from author and publisher in exchange for my honest review; no other compensation was received.


Guest Post: Book Blogger Exchange Q&A

As part of the Book Blogger Exchange hosted by Rants~N~Scribbles, I signed up to do a Q&A with my partner who is the lovely Michele from Just a Lil Lost! We put together 10 questions and are now featuring those answers on our blogs. I hope you get to know a little bit more about these bloggers! And thanks to Gwen for organizing all of this <3

I also received a package with a gorgeous finished copy of Legend by Marie Lu (a book I LOVED and desperately needed the finished copy!) and a super pretty Smashbox lipgloss from Michele! It was a PERFECT surprise and loved it so much <3

If you'd like to see my answers to the questions, make sure you stop by Michele's blog for the post!

From the TBR Pile


Just a Lil Lost

1. If you could be any character from any book, who would you want to be and why?
I would have to say Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series. She's smart, brave and brilliant with magic - even tho I'm a Slytherin gal at heart ;)

2. What book are you most looking forward to reading over the holidays?
There are so many books on my TBR list that I want to read right away.. and I don't often pick out what I want to read next. Usually once I'm done a book, I look at all the ones I have and see which I'm in the mood for. Since I'll be in NYC for part of the holidays, it'll have to be something on my eReader!

3. Do you do anything or participate in anything that is really special to you over the holidays? Some sort of tradition or something like that.
Christmas Eve is at my boyfriend's parents' place, and then Christmas Day is with my family. But this year, my mom & a few relatives are away on vacation so it's just my sister and her fiance coming over!

4. What was the last book that made you cry?
Books (and TV and movies) don't often make me cry. I guess the one that came closest was The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

5. Which 2012 release is a must read for you?
Definitely Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

6. What was your favourite book that you read in 2011?
The Help and Shatter Me

7. If you weren't a book blogger, what other topic would you blog about?
I'd probably be blogging about TV shows. I'm a TV junkie and can be a bit nerdy in dissecting shows.. usually just with friends, but I'm sure if I had the time and patience to (and wasn't a book blogger), I'd be analyzing & reviewing TV shows :P

8. What's the #1 book on your wishlist this Christmas?
Well, it was Wither - but thank you to Brenna here who gifted me this one.. I'd have to say Daughter of Smoke & Bone now.

9. What is your favourite holiday treat? (food-wise)
I love apple cider w/brandy! Yummy holiday drink that the BF's family always makes!

10. What is the story behind your blog name?
"Just a Lil Lost" was what I named my silly web comic that I drew.. Just some cute simple cartoons (http://just-a-lil-lost.livejournal.com/) that poke fun (lovingly) at my favourite show, Lost - with "lil" versions of the characters. I have a bunch more that I drew in my sketchbook but never put up.. haven't touched it in ages but I liked the name of it because aren't we all just a lil' lost sometimes?

Thank you so much for being a wonderful partner for this exchange, Michele!

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