May 30, 2013

Book Review: Scrap - Emory Sharplin

Title: Scrap (The Grimmic Chronicles #1)
Author: Emory Sharplin
Release Date: May 17th 2013
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group
Source: eARC from NetGalley
On the brutal streets of Hellip, a village in the vast empire of the cruel King Ibis, you either become good at running from the king’s Blackcoats or you die. This is the lesson that twelve-year-old Tucker Scrap, abandoned as an infant among the orphans of Hellip, learned early. Along with her friends Ash and Kally, Tucker spends her time keeping one step ahead of the unjust laws, stealing what she needs to survive, and pondering her own unknown origins—and those of the enchanted bracelet with which she was found.
Now, both Ash and Kally have vanished from the orphanage, perhaps headed for the faraway city where Ibis still rules. When a mysterious girl named Vivian arrives in Hellip with a strange invitation to Tucker, the leader of the orphans decides that this may be her opportunity to find her missing friends. But more than this: it may become an opportunity to recover her hidden inheritance, and to change the fate of an entire kingdom.
The introduction to a fantasy world rich with ancient magic, enigmatic gypsies, palace labyrinths, and deep woods haunted by strange and forbidding creatures, Emory Sharplin’s debut novel tells the story of Tucker Scrap: a bold, memorable heroine at the center of a centuries-old mystery, stepping into her destiny at last.
Set in a harsh and gruesome world filled with magic and where danger lurked in every corner, Scrap is the story of Tucker Scrap, a rough, resilient, trouble-making orphan girl from Hellip who works in a bakery and steals whatever she can to support herself and the other orphan kids. But when her two dearest friends disappear and an old friend makes herself known, Tucker decides that it's time to go on her own adventure.

First things first, you should know that this book was very slow to start; I almost gave up after the first fifty pages but I chose to keep at it because of the beautiful prose. I'm glad I did because things got interesting and although there were still a few draggy parts here and there, I just breezed through the pages.

Another problem I had with Scrap was the lack of conflict. I don't think Tucker had any other major problem aside from dealing with King Ibis' cruelty and the kingdom that had resulted from it, or maybe that's because the author left a huge number of possibilities unturned. Tucker's road to fulfilling her mission was less bumpy than I'd expected it to be, lowering the stakes and the complexity—which is sad because the story had a lot of potential to be as expansive as, say, George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. How I would have loved to see that.

I think what I enjoyed the most in this book were the plentiful characters. Each of them, even Tucker herself, was worthy of being doubted. But even with the doubts, they still provided a good number of laughs—well, Colt and Napier did, at least. Colt, a young duke, and Napier, a thieving gypsy, were from the opposite ends of society, but when Colt saved Napier from getting his arm chopped off by a Blackcoat, a friendship bloomed. I had a lot of fun seeing the dynamic between them.

Tucker stretched out the stiffness in her limbs before nudging the boys awake. "Come on, it's time to move out."
Napier rolled over. "Sorry, I'm not here."
"Me neither." Colt draped an arm over his face and blocked out the light. "Try again later."
At first, I got confused as to whether this was historical fantasy or high fantasy, and the main reasons for that were 1) the use of expressions like "Speak of the devil", and 2) the huge similarity between the court hierarchy (Is that what it's called?) in this book and during the Victorian era, which alludes to the lack of world-building. And as if I didn't already have enough complaints, the ending only gave me two things: zero resolution—when I say zero, as in 'Did she even get that arrow out of her leg?!'—and a mothereffing shocker that left me irritatedly worrying about my ships and utterly desperate for the next book!

MY FAVORITE PART was the mothereffing shocker I've mentioned above. I was in class when I got to that part, you see, but I still couldn't stop myself from flailing around in my seat. The flailing may have been due to the murderous intent that the last few lines of the book gave me.


May 28, 2013

Series Review + Giveaway: Of Poseidon - Anna Banks

Title: Legacy Lost (Of Poseidon #0.5)
Release Date: May 22nd 2012
Publisher: Tor Books
Source: Read here
He is a mer-prince, she is the mermaid princess that his family orders him to marry so that their kingdoms unite. Grom dreads this arrangement, until he meets Naliaboth beautiful and smart, she’s everything he ever wanted. But just when their connection grows deeper, tragedy strikes. Legacy Lost is a prequel story to Anna Banks’ debut novel, OF POSEIDON.
I read Legacy Lost right after Of Triton, so I didn't expect much because I'd already known how this story would end—a mistake, apparently. The biggest surprise was that in less than fifty pages, I became a Nalia/Grom shipper, and I really pitied how their romance was so short-lived... *winks*

This was an awesome prequel short story to the series but I don't recommend reading it before Of Poseidon, for reasons that are spoiler-y, to say the least.

MY FAVORITE PART was their unexpected meeting at the Ceremony Chamber, hee.


Title: Of Poseidon (Of Poseidon #1)
Release Date: May 22nd 2012
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Source: Signed hardcover won from author (Thanks again, Anna!)
Galen is the prince of the Syrena, sent to land to find a girl he's heard can communicate with fish. Emma is on vacation at the beach. When she runs into Galen—literally, ouch!—both teens sense a connection. But it will take several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, for Galen to be convinced of Emma's gifts. Now, if he can only convince Emma that she holds the key to his kingdom...
Told from both Emma and Galen's points of view, here is a fish-out-of-water story that sparkles with intrigue, humor, and waves of romance.
Right from page one, I knew Of Poseidon is the kind of book that I can read over and over again and never get tired of. It was so original, not just because it's my first mermaid book but more because of the take on them. Oh, wait, not mermaid—Syrena. The fantastic writing urged me to turn the pages and keep learning about their unique world, and the perfectly-timed humor fit in really well with the overall fast pace of the story.

Emma, our main character, was brave and kind, with a stubbornness that was endearing, not infuriating. She had been looking forward to her eighteenth birthday, like other teenagers do. It was supposed to mean freedom, but for someone with a talent as fishy—see what I did there?—as hers, it led to a shocking truth which she accepted admirably. She panicked, yes, but she quickly got over that and faced the undeniable facts with an open mind.

Along with Emma's newfound identity came Galen, the beautiful boy with dark hair and violet eyes, the same violet eyes that had always made Emma feel like a freak. He's a Syrena prince who was an ambassador to the humans, although he worked with only a handful of them, and Emma's talent drew him in... in more ways than one, as he would soon realize. Because of his Royal upbringing, he did tend to be controlling and possessive at times, but that worked out well because Emma wasn't one to be bossed around. Them knowing how to push each other's buttons really provided for a lot of laughs.

The ending was quite abrupt, and I would've pulled out chunks of my hair if I didn't already have Of Triton in my hands. Fortunate, really, because I read three-fourths of this book while my dad sat watching me from across the room. I don't even want to imagine how he would've reacted if I suddenly pulled a tantrum :))

MY FAVORITE PART was Emma and Toraf "working" together. They sure shocked their beloved spoiled Royals :))


  Title: Of Triton (Of Poseidon #2)
Release Date: May 28th 2013
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Source: ARC also won from Anna! She's amazeballs ♥
Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
In this sequel to OF POSEIDON, Emma has just learned that her mother is a long-lost Poseidon princess, and now struggles with an identity crisis: As a Half-Breed, she’s a freak in the human world and an abomination in the Syrena realm below. Syrena law states that all Half- Breeds should be put to death.
As if that’s not bad enough, her mother’s reappearance among the Syrena turns the two kingdoms—Poseidon and Triton—against one another. Which leaves Emma with a decision to make: Should she comply with Galen’s request to keep herself safe and just hope for the best? Or should she risk it all and reveal herself—and her Gift—to save a people she’s never known? 
You wanna know how awesome Of Triton is? Well, let's just say it's been months—or a year, even; I honestly can't remembersince I last read a book from cover-to-cover in one sitting. Yep, it was the ermahgerd-when-will-the-characters-get-a-rest-so-I-can-too kind of book. 

This sequel picks up right where Of Poseidon left off so there was immediate conflict and an urgency that kept me peeled to the pages. It made up with action what it lacked in swoon, which is the only reason why I'm not giving this a solid five. Not that I don't like action, but I just wanted more Emma/Galen. 

But enough of the golden couple because, really, the other characters were all noteworthy as well, especially since we see a lot more of them in here. They all felt like real, breathing people and Syrena, and I really enjoyed seeing their dynamics between each other. Although the conflict between the two kingdoms made everyone wary of reunions and new acquaintances, it also showed what each of them were made of.

Of Triton sated my appetite for more insight into the Syrena world leagues below sea level. The heavy presence of political intrigue in the story surprised then pleased me, because God knows how much I love that stuff. Of course I took the side of the Royals, and their enemies were my enemies. The said enemies weren't puny, but I've encountered enough of their kind in other books that I knew their own stupidity would get them in the end.

Honestly, I'd have been happy if this was the last book in the series. The ending was the definition of satisfying, so now I'm worried as to what the frick could possibly go wrong in Of Neptune. I sense something ominous, and I'm so ready for this year to fly by so I can know what it is.

MY FAVORITE PART was Emma's "Make way, badass coming through" moment which made me squeal and clap like a seal.


Now for the giveaway!
I'll be giving away the signed Of Triton ARC that I won from Anna plus the matching bookmarks that I designed :3 Open internationally!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Top Ten Tuesday {2}

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where we post our top tens of anything bookish. This week, we're free to choose any topic that we want, and so I'll be having 
"Top Ten Series That I Want to Read". 

Legend by Marie Lu
This series sounds so badass, and I just get a Divergent-ish feel from it. Will get to this once the last book is out!

Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter
A school for spies?! Sold.

Heist Society by Ally Carter
A family of thieves?! Sold. (Seriously, though, Ally Carter sure tapped into my love for Lupin III.)

Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Considering my ultimate dream is to go planet- and galaxy-hopping, and that my preferred way to die is by going through the event horizon of a black hole, it's a given that I'd want to read this series. The cover redesign, though... *facepalm*

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
I've been meaning to read this series for a loooooong time, and I actually have the first book already! Now to make time...

Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
If I remember correctly, I first heard about this series because of a swoony quote I saw in Tumblr. I can't wait to meet you, Noah Shaw!

The Sweet Trilogy by Wendy Higgins
"He's the boy your daddy warned you about." *looks to the left* *looks to the right* Warning? What warning? 

The Lynburn Legacy by Sarah Rees Brennan
I've seen extremely mixed reviews for Unspoken, but I still want to try it because it sounds so... dreamy.

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
Umm, four boys? Mmmmmkay. (God I'm shallow.)

Maze Runner by James Dashner
With so many books to read, I'm pretty sure I'll get to this just right before the movie XD

May 27, 2013

Book Review: True - Erin McCarthy

Title: True (True #1)
Author: Erin McCarthy
Release Date: May 7th 2013
Publisher: Penguin Group
Source: NetGalley
When Rory Macintosh’s roommates find out that their studious and shy friend has never been with a guy, they decide that, as an act of kindness they’ll help her lose her virginity by hiring confident, tattooed bad boy Tyler Mann to do the job... unbeknownst to Rory.
Tyler knows he’s not good enough for Rory. She’s smart, doctor smart, while he’s barely scraping by at his EMT program, hoping to pull his younger brothers out of the hell their druggy mother has left them in. But he can’t resist taking up her roommates on an opportunity to get to know her better. There’s something about her honesty that keeps him coming back when he knows he shouldn’t...
Torn between common sense and desire, the two find themselves caught up in a passionate relationship. But when Tyler’s broken family threatens to destroy his future, and hers, Rory will need to decide whether to cut her ties to his risky world or follow her heart, no matter what the cost...
True didn't end up becoming quite what I wanted it to be. I expected something complex and heart-wrenching, but what I got was a simple story filled with sweetness, swoon, and a dash of drama. That's not to say it disappointed me because I do enjoy the occasional straightforward love story.

The only thing I hated about the main character, Rory, was how she often whined like "Oh, I'm a twenty-year-old studious virgin and I'm so weird." Please. Strike out studious and we'd be on the same page. Anyway, otherwise she was likable, with her honesty, genuineness, and determination to go after what she wanted. Most of all, she knew how and when to keep a cool head, therefore avoiding a lot of mindless arguments.

Tyler, on the other hand, wasn't your typical bad boy. He was tattooed up and pierced in, um, unconventional places, but then he was a huge reader—he'd actually wanted to be a Lit major but his family's lack of financial resources prevented that. He was prideful but, like Rory, he had a handle on his temper. And when he's with his brothers? Talk about heartwarming and ridiculously hilarious at the same time.

The story was quite slow to take off but it just heightened up my anticipation to see Rory and Tyler together. They were one of those couples that I just couldn't help but root for, especially given their circumstances. With 222 pages, the romance came quite sooner than I'd thought it would—perhaps so the two would still have ample time to deal with the consequences of being together, i.e. their families—and at first it was more about curiosity than attraction that Rory had for Tyler, but honestly, I didn't care too much about those things because by then, I was already shipping these two. Hard. And even though the ending was rushed, squashing every last bit of hope I'd had for complexity, I still loved it.

MY FAVORITE PART was, hmm, probably the preview at the end for the next book. I knew a Jessica/Riley story would happen!


May 25, 2013

Book Review: The S-Word - Chelsea Pitcher

Title: The S-Word
Author: Chelsea Pitcher
Release Date: May 7th 2013
Publisher: Gallery Books
Source: Edelweiss
First it was SLUT scribbled all over Lizzie Hart’s locker.
But one week after Lizzie kills herself, SUICIDE SLUT replaces it—in Lizzie's looping scrawl.
Lizzie’s reputation is destroyed when she's caught in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend on prom night. With the whole school turned against her, and Angie not speaking to her, Lizzie takes her own life. But someone isn’t letting her go quietly. As graffiti and photocopies of Lizzie’s diary plaster the school, Angie begins a relentless investigation into who, exactly, made Lizzie feel she didn’t deserve to keep living. And while she claims she simply wants to punish Lizzie’s tormentors, Angie's own anguish over abandoning her best friend will drive her deep into the dark, twisted side of Verity High—and she might not be able to pull herself back out.
Debut author Chelsea Pitcher daringly depicts the harsh reality of modern high schools, where one bad decision can ruin a reputation, and one cruel word can ruin a life. Angie’s quest for the truth behind Lizzie’s suicide is addictive and thrilling, and her razor-sharp wit and fierce sleuthing skills makes her impossible not to root for—even when it becomes clear that both avenging Lizzie and avoiding self-destruction might not be possible.
You know how some things are only good at first? Well, The S-Word is exactly that. 

Angie, the protagonist, had a voice that immediately captivated me. She made me want to read on... so read I did, but shortly after, she lost me. Why did she suddenly want to protect Lizzie's honor? Was it because of love for a friend regained? Was it guilt? This never became clear enough for me, and soon, I just thought she was being even more hypocritical than the people who had tormented Lizzie, the people who pushed her to end her life.

The detective thingy that Angie had going on really surprised me, but only because I'd assumed that this was a ghost story of sorts. Anyway, just as she started irritating me, the plot also confused me by venturing to random places, and everyone was too damn vague for anything to make sense. Or maybe that was the result of telling a story from the perspective of someone who had less attention span than a baby.

Another problem I had was with Lizzie's character. Somehow, she didn't feel too real, and I guess it says a lot that we learn more about her from her diary entries—which I thought were weak plot devices to reveal things about her—than from Angie who'd used to be her best friend. Also, if I remember correctly, this is the first book I've read that dealt heavily with suicide, and for that I applaud the author. But this being the first, I've never had to point out that I don't think I could ever sympathize with anyone who committed suicide because I believe it is a crime that brings about only a perpetrator. Harsh, maybe, but that's how I've always looked at it.

I was able to correctly guess, like, half of the revelation about Lizzie, thanks to over-foreshadowing, and it was Angie's secrets that made my jaw drop. That led to the satisfying ending that saved the book for me by being what I'd wanted The S-Word to be: a reminder that the best revenge is to live well.

MY FAVORITE PART was, like I said, the ending.


May 23, 2013

{Blog Tour} Book Review + Giveaway: The Last Hour - Charles Sheehan-Miles

Welcome to my stop for The Last Hour blog tour! You can follow the tour here.

Title: The Last Hour (Thompson Sisters)
Author: Charles Sheehan-Miles
Release Date: April 19th 2013
Publisher: Cincinnatus Press
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Contemporary
Source: eARC for blog tour
Twenty-seven year old Carrie Thompson-Sherman has the life she always wanted: her PhD, a prestigious fellowship, and an amazing husband.
Her life begins to unravel as a jealous colleague puts her fellowship in jeopardy and a haunting secret Ray Sherman carried home from Afghanistan comes to light.
Hounded by a federal investigation and the ensuing media feeding frenzy, Carrie and Ray desperately lean on each other, until a disastrous accident puts both Ray and her sister's lives at risk.
In the last hour, Carrie and Ray will each find themselves faced with a choice.
A choice that will change everything.
Attention, reader. If you want a light romance read for a plane ride or a day-off, The Last Hour isn't the book for you. Why? Because it's the most tear-jerking book I have ever read. The opening scene immediately took hold of my attention. How could it not when it felt like the climax already? And then in less than four chapters, the waterworks started. 

As was the case in A Song for Julia, the first Thompson Sisters book I read, I really admire how well the author sculpted his characters. He wrote the book from both Carrie and Ray's perspectives, and he was able to mold two fleshed-out characters with their own distinct voices. Also, his ability to portray every little emotion that goes on between his numerous characters is nothing short of amazing. 

I really admired Carrie. She was obviously a strong and smart woman, hardened by having to look out for her sisters because of their emotionally-absent parents. Even in the hardest times, she still looked out for them. She never bothered with wasting time on unimportant crap like a jealous co-worker or a spiteful future mother-in-law. Ray, on the other hand, was deeply traumatized because of his time in Afghanistan. I pitied the poor guy but at the same time admired him, too, because he still chose to do the right thing - kinda spoiler-y if I say more on this - and tried his best to live. 

While dealing with serious issues in the family, work, and even the military, the story still centered on Carrie and Ray's sweet and heart-wrenching romance as they struggled to go through everything together. This was mostly shown in the flashback chapters which were, basically, the only reprieves in this intense story. I don't know when I'll get to read Just Remember to Breathe but I'm sure looking forward to it because only God knows how much I enjoy revisiting these characters and how I wish the author won't leave the three younger Thompson sisters with their stories untold. 

MY FAVORITE PARTS were every happy moment which I'm glad I savored.

About the author:
Charles Sheehan-Miles has been a soldier, computer programmer, short-order cook and non-profit executive. He is the author of several fiction and non-fiction books, including the indie bestsellers Just Remember to Breathe and Republic: A Novel of America's Future.


May 21, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday {1}

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where we post our top tens of anything bookish. This is my first time joining this meme; I've been meaning to for months, and this week's topic, "top ten fave covers of books I've read", was hard to resist!

(in no particular order)
Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2) - Tahereh Mafi
I'm so happy with the cover redesign for this series, although I can't help but wonder if we would have gotten to see Adam and Warner in the next covers if not for it...
The Selection (The Selection #1) - Kiera Cass
I love the dress. I love the color. I love the typography. Enough said.
The Sweetest Dark (The Sweetest Dark #1) - Shana Abe
I sometimes get tunnel vision so I didn't notice the smokey part of the cover until I'd finished reading the book, lol.
Indigo Awakening (The Hunted #1) - Jordan Dane
For me, red and blue seldom work well together, but my oh my, is this good. I also love how the dog kind of mixes with "indigo". 
Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky #2) - Veronica Rossi
I love this shade of blue, and having Perry on the cover doesn't hurt, either.
Nobody But Us - Kristin Halbrook
I often dislike neon colors, but I really like how the blue strikes out from the overall pink of this cover.
I have a thing for shiny, glowing orbs, so yeah.

Burn for Burn (Burn for Burn #1) - Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian
I like how the typography doesn't overpower the cover models' photo (they're perfect for the characters, BTW) but can still easily be read.
Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush #1) - Becca Fitzpatrick
Patch falling from heaven? Yes, please.
Amy & Roger's Epic Detour - Morgan Matson
I love how the cover photo fits the roadtrip aspect of the story so well, and also the typography is just gorgeous!