Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

Title/Author: The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles #1) by Kady Cross
Publisher/Date published: Harlequin Teen, May 24th 2011
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one except the thing inside her.
When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch.
Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special, says she's one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits. Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.
Griffin's investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.
But The Machinist wants to tear Griff's little company of strays apart, and it isn't long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she's on, even if it seems no one believes her."

I should really be studying for my big exam tomorrow, but let's face it, I'd rather be blogging/reading. Or be doing anything else except studying. Really. Even cleaning. And I HATE cleaning.

Anyway, let's talk about this book. The only other encounter I've had with Steampunk didn't work so well for me. I was confused by the whole thing and kept thinking: wait, what?? I'd heard good things about this one, but I still didn't have a lot of high hopes for it.

And boy, was I wrong! I really enjoyed this book, after getting used to the whole setting of Steampunk. It's completely different from what I'm used to, but I loved how it was handled here. I actually understood what was happening and it sounded logical and well yeah, it worked for me.

Finley Jayne is a likeable main character and I loved the two sides of her that competed for domination. I enjoyed seeing how she tried to integrate them and learned to control her darker side when it surfaced. I think both sides of her were well-rounded characters.
And OMG, Griffin! He sounds absolutely swoonworthy! Though I did think he sounded slightly older than he actually was, which bothered me sometimes, but maybe it's also the reason I adored him so much.

Love triangles aren't really my thing, though in this case it seemed more like Finley's different sides were having trouble agreeing on who to like. I did appreciate that the triangle was there while Finley hadn't made a definite choice yet, so it didn't feel like she was cheating on either guy. Jack Dandy didn't really do much for me, but I can understand his appeal.

So, all in all, this was a pleasant surprise, though I think I'll just stick to this series and not dive into Steampunk any further, I don't think it's my genre.
My rating: 3,5 stars

Friday, June 24, 2011

Not Book Blogger Hop

Cause what kind of Friday would it be without a cute puppy? Right? Of course.

Anyway, because I really don't have the time to participate in the Hop, but really, really loved this week's topic, this is not Book Blogger Hop.

El Question:
“When did you realize reading was your passion and a truly important part of your life?”

To be honest, I really don't know. Reading has always been a part of my life, I can remember begging my mom to read to me when I was probably 3 years old (which is as far as most of my memories go back), even though she had a really sore throat. Yeah, I was a nice kid ;)
During the first two years of college I didn't read as many books as I used to and after starting to again, I realised just how much I'd missed it. I did read stories on Fictionpress in the meantime, but not entire books, as most weren't finished yet.
But over the past year, ever since I can share my love of reading with all you guys here in the blogosphere and on GoodReads, I've come to realise just how much this means to me. Sharing my passion somehow makes it more real and blogging has made it a bigger part of my life than it already was.

So, while this is me not participating in the Book Blogger Hop, I'd love to hear your answers to this awesome question! Leave it in the comments or leave me a link to your post and I'll be sure to check it out!

Happy reading and have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Guarding A Notorious Lady by Olivia Parker

Title/Author: Guarding A Notorious Lady by Olivia Parker
Publisher/Date published: May 31st 2011, HarperCollins
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "A woman of pristine breeding, Lady Rosalind Devine is also an unrepentant meddler and snoop — which is why her brother refuses to leave her to her own devices while on his wedding trip. But Rosalind will not make things easy for any unseen, unwanted “nursemaid” — and vows to use her considerable wiles to expose her mystery guardian.
Nicholas Kincaid, the Marquess of Winterbourne, agreed to secretly guard his friend’s spoiled, stubborn sister, though her infuriating penchant for mischief is causing him to question his decision. Though bound by the rules of society — and friendship — Rosalind’s spirit and sensuality have sparked a fierce desire in Nicholas to play a very different role in her life, one that entails passion, ecstasy... and unavoidable scandal."

So, it's been a long time (well, okay, about a month), since I've read a historical romance novel and about two months since I read one I loved. And then this book came along on my reading schedule (I seriously have a schedule these days, it's crazy) and I really, really enjoyed it.

I had almost forgotten how much fun these books can be! I've been having a bit of a reading slump lately, and read some amazing books, but none of them as relaxing as the historical romance novels that are my guilty pleasure.

Rosalind is a wonderful heroine, she's a good friend and sister and knows exactly what she wants. I loved that she's known the hero (who is delightfully handsome) for a couple of years, it gives the relationship some depth. She and Nicholas have wonderful chemistry and I really enjoyed reading about them.
Nicholas sounds absolutely dreamy and he's got a huge sense of loyalty to his friend: Rosalind's older brother.

I did think it was a bit odd that nobody would tell Rosalind who her guardian was to be, since they all thought she'd figure it out anyway. But that didn't detract from the storyline in general. Extra brownie points for Nicholas' ubercute nieces! I loved those two little girls, though they have a small role in all of this.

This was a nice, relaxing, but a bit short read and if you enjoy romance novels like me, this could be right up your alley!
My rating: 4 stars

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller

Title/Author: The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller
Publisher/Date published: Simon & Schuster, June 14th 2011
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley

Goodreads summary: "Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia. Like the fingers on a hand--first headstrong Olga; then Tatiana, the tallest; Maria the most hopeful for a ring; and Anastasia, the smallest. These are the daughters of Tsar Nicholas II, grand dutchesses living a life steeped in tradition and priviledge. They are each on the brink of starting their own lives, at the mercy of royal matchmakers. The summer of 1914 is that precious last wink of time when they can still be sisters together--sisters that link arms and laugh, sisters that share their dreams and worries, and flirt with the officers of their imperial yacht.
But in a gunshot the future changes for these sisters and for Russia.
As World War I ignites across Europe, political unrest sweeps Russia. First dissent, then disorder, mutiny, and revolution. For Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, the end of their girlhood together is colliding with the end of more than they ever imagined.
At the same time hopeful and hopeless, naive and wise, the voices of these sisters become a chorus singing the final song of Imperial Russia."

I need to get this out: this book was a disappointment for me. And I was not counting on that to happen, which made it double blah for me.

I LOVE historical fiction, I love getting to know historical characters in a fictional setting (yes, I know the Other Boleyn Girl and such don't give an accurate presentation, but I love reading books like that). It makes them come alive in my mind and makes the events surrounding them easier to remember.

So, the Romanovs. I didn't know a lot about them, except for the med-geek in me who remembered the hemophilia running in the family and that they were murdered. Oh, and flashes from the Disney version of Anastasia. That was about it. Being me and wanting to be a bit knowledgeable about them before reading the book, I looked them up on Wikipedia, there's a pretty detailed page on them.

And really, I could have just left it at that. I didn't take anything away from the story that I wouldn't have found out from that Wiki page. Only in the book it took 448 pages instead of maybe 2 on Wiki.

I felt no connection whatsoever to the sisters and it didn't help that every chapter was from a different POV, switching between the four sisters. I found myself flipping back pages to see which was narrating it, cause there wasn't really that much difference in their voices. I also had a problem with the fact that there seemed to be no character development. I mean, the book spans 4 years, you'd think there'd be some growing up going on at least. I saw very little of this.

While I think the book was very well researched, the facts found in research seemed to overpower the humanity that I love so much about historical fiction. That I couldn't sympathise with a family who were murdered for no good reason (in my opinion) is not a good sign.

This book wasn't for me, I plowed through because I was hoping it'd get better, but I was very tempted to just put it down almost the whole time.
My rating: 1,5 stars (extra half star for the amazing research the author obviously did)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

Title/Author: Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky
Publisher/Date published: May 23rd 2011, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "Maddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer. Whether it’s to go to school or on a date, people don’t venture out of their home. There’s really no need. For the most part, Maddie’s okay with the solitary, digital life — until she meets Justin. Justin likes being with people. He enjoys the physical closeness of face-to-face interactions. People aren’t meant to be alone, he tells her.
Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her — a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking.
In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space."

You know what's one thing I love about blogging? I never would have discovered all these wonderful new authors if it wasn't for this amazing community. It's all you guys who tell me to get excited about books that aren't released yet and the excitement around a new release has me squeeling so much sometimes my boyfriend looks at me funny.
So thanks to all of you.

Now onto the actual review.

I LOVED this book! I loved it so much I was creeped out by how very real the situation in the book can become if we're not cautious of technology. I mean, sitting here, typing this review behind my computer screen, after just having finished commenting on other people's blogs and Goodreads, I can imagine the world revolving around a computer and less about actually getting out of the house once in a while.

It's scary that sometimes I need to remind myself to be social, especially when I'm caught up in a wonderful book. I can be pretty out of it sometimes. The author did such an amazing job describing this world and it really sounds like something that might happen in the future. Let's hope not, though.

Or, maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing, if we had guys like Justin to save us from it, I'm all for it! I have yet another book-crush. Justin is sweet and though he tries to distance himself, he really cares deeply and I love him for it. He did frustrate me at times, but since those were the same moments he frustrated Maddie, I'm okay with it.

Maddie is wonderful, I loved how she was torn between rebelling and the love she has for her family. It's not as if it would be logical to just go ahead and betray your parents, especially if it's for a group of people you've just met a couple of weeks ago. I love how strong she was and how she handled everything.

And am I ever glad I checked the author's website! It say there'll be a sequel *SQUEAL!!* and I'm so happy, cause I haven't gotten enough of Maddie and Justin just yet and I'm wondering what'll happen next for them.

My rating: 5 stars

A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine

Title/Author: A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine
Publisher/Date published: HarperCollins, May 10th 2011
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "Mysteries abound, especially in Two Castles.
A handsome cat trainer, black-and-white cats, thieves on four legs and two, suspicious townsfolk, a greedy king, a giddy princess, a shape-shifting ogre, a brilliant dragon. Which is the villainous whited sepulcher?
Elodie journeys to the town of Two Castles to become a mansioner—an actress—but luck is against her. She is saved from starvation by the dragon Meenore, who sends her on a dangerous mission inside the ogre's castle. There, disguised as a kitchen maid at an ogre's feast, she finds herself cast in the role of a lifetime and pitted against a foe intent on murder."

I have been meaning to read, well, ANY book by Gail Carson Levine, because I've heard great things about them. And I really liked the movie Ella Enchanted. This book is MG, so it's aimed at a slightly younger group than what I usually read.

And it was so sweet! Really, this is such a sweet, endearing read. It took me back to the days when I wanted to be friends with a dragon and go on quests involving castles. Oh, who am I kidding, I still would love to do just that!

Elodie is a sweet girl, wanting to make a living as a 'mansioner', which is the same as acting I believe, instead of the weaving carreer her parents had pictured for her. She leaves home and travels to the big city, with two castles. In one lives an ogre and in the other the king and princess. Elodie befriends the dragon who also lives in the city and becomes IT's apprentice. Yes, IT, because only a dragon ITself knows IT's gender.

Actually, I was a bit annoyed by the constant use of IT (all in capitals all the time). And I'm still wondering whether the dragon was a male of female. I did love the whole deducing and inducing thing the dragon had, IT also solved mysteries.

The whole town was filled with cats because people are afraid of the ogre. And guess what? If cats concentrate in groups on an ogre, he or she can't help but turn into a mouse. I mean, how cool is that for an ogre characteristic? I thought it was totally original! In this case, the ogre was extremely friendly, so I was all for him not turning into a mouse, but still.

I did like this book, but I think I would have loved it more if I'd been younger. I do think it's a wonderful children's book and though I figured out who was behind it all, I thought it was really clever.

My rating: 3,5 stars

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Commenting problem

So, I'm still not able to comment on blogs, not my own and not other people's blog. THIS IS SO FRUSTRATING!

I've been watching Blogger Help for a solution, but so far they haven't posted one. And now the issue is filed under 'fixed', which seems a bit weird to me, seeing as I still can't comment.

If anyone who has experienced this same issue, now or in the past, has found a solution, would you please let me know?? It's been over 2 weeks and I'm feeling iffy about it and have even considered moving to Wordpress or another host.

Any help will be very much appreciated!

Cleopatra Confesses by Carolyn Meyer

Title/Author: Cleopatra Confesses by Carolyn Meyer
Publisher/Date published: Simon & Schuster, June 7th 2011
How I got this book: received it as and egalley from the publisher

Goodreads summary: "It is the first century B.C. Cleopatra, the third of the pharaoh's six children, is the one that her father has chosen to be the next queen of Egypt. But when King Ptolemy is forced into exile, Cleopatra is left alone to fend for herself in a palace rife with intrigue and murder. Smart, courageous, ambitious and sensuously beautiful, she possesses the charm to cause two of history's most famous leaders to fall in love with her. But as her cruel sisters plot to steal the throne, Cleopatra realizes there is only one person on whom she can rely - herself."

Ok, so confession time: I'm a bit obsessed with Cleopatra. Or Kleopatra as I believe it should be spelled, but let's not get into that argument right now. There's mystery surrounding her that I love.
Another confession: I don't really know all that much about her. Other than that she was queen of Egypt and had children with both Julius Caesar and Marcus Antonius.

Anyway, when I read this was a YA story told through her eyes, my reaction was: COUNT ME IN!! And I was so excited to start reading it and was telling myself: ooh, I'm loving this.
Right up until the moment I realised I wasn't actually loving it.

We start the story when Cleopatra's 10 years old. And I know I should realise that at that time people just matured earlier cause, well, let's face it, they didn't have all that much time altogether. BUT (huge but) Cleopatra seemed to be much older than her age. And she didn't seem to have much character development throughout the book. She started at this older than her age level and then remained on that same level. Which seemed at the end still too old.

There was also a lot of family drama and though I can believe it, I didn't like how everyone who didn't agree with Cleopatra was made to be evil/dumb/influenced by evil. This made the other characters seem a bit one-dimensional.

The ending left me feeling a bit cheated. We leave her pregnant with Caesarion and, well, I'm wondering what happened next. And I felt cheated by her summary of her later life in the epilogue.

I did however enjoy learning a bit more about Cleopatra. For example, I didn't know she and her father ruled together! And that she was forced to marry a little brother, not once, but twice! Can you imagine?
Egypt around that time seemed brutal all around.

My rating: 2,5 stars

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Die For Me by Amy Plum

Title/Author: Die For Me (Revenants #1) by Amy Plum
Publisher/Date published: May 10th 2011 by HarperTeen
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "When Kate Mercier's parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life - and memories - behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.
Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate's guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he's a revenant - an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again."

Oh my gosh, I SO LOVED THIS BOOK!! Seriously, I'd been having a bad week and a half of reading books that didn't work for me and then along came this beautiful book. Am I ever glad I hit that request button way back in March!
I loved this book so much I even considered skipping my nephew's birthday. And that's a big sacrifice, cause he turned two and is uber-adorable.

I loved Kate! She seemed so real I wouldn't have been surprised if I turned my head and saw her sitting next to me. I really believed her pain at losing her parents and could easily see someone dealing with it the way she did. She's a strong person and I love how bookish she is.

And OMG, VINCENT! What a beautiful boy! I loved how playful he was and how fragile and strong at the same thing. This is one swoonworthy and completely crushworthy guy! He and Kate had great chemistry and I really enjoyed reading about them.

Kate and Vincent seem to share and epic love, but I loved (how many times have I said loved already?) that they both still are able to think rationally. I mean, it wouldn't have seemed real if after Vincent told Kate about what he is, she'd magically be ok with that. Especially not for a girl who just lost her parents and now hears her boyfriend dies over and over again to save other people. Brownie points to the author for that.

I loved the whole idea of Revenants, I mean, how cool is that? And how heartbreaking at the same time! There's a whole set of characters for me to love in this book and I also really enjoyed Kate having a loving family: sister and grandparents.

I'm going to predict something to happen in the trilogy, light up to read if you want, contains a spoiler:
I'm thinking, especially after that scene with her defending Vincent and being willing to die to save him, that Kate will become a Revenant somewhere in the series. Call it a hunch. What do you guys think?

I absolutely LOVED this book, go put it on your to-read list right now if it's not already. Or better yet: GO READ IT! RIGHT NOW! It's amazing. I think it'll physically hurt me to wait till 2012 for the next book.
My rating: 5 stars

Monday, June 6, 2011

Girl Wonder by Alexa Martin

Title/Author: Girl Wonder by Alexa Martin
Publisher/Date published: Disney Hyperion, May 3rd 2011
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "As if transferring senior year weren't hard enough, Charlotte Locke has been bumped to lower level classes at her new school. With no friends, a terrible math SAT score, and looming college application deadlines, the future is starting to seem like an oncoming train for which she has no ticket.
Then Amanda enters her orbit like a hot-pink meteor, offering Charlotte a ticket to something else: popularity. Amanda is fearless, beautiful, brilliant, and rich. As her new side kick, Charlotte is brought into the elite clique of the debate team — and closer to Neal, Amanda's equally brilliant friend and the most perfect boy Charlotte has ever seen.
But just when senior year is looking up, Charlotte’s life starts to crumble. The more things heat up between Charlotte and Neal, the more Neal wants to hide their relationship. Is he ashamed? Meanwhile, Amanda is starting to act strangely competitive, and she's keeping a secret Charlotte doesn't want to know."

I'm sitting here just thinking what I should about this book. Because honestly, I'm not sure. Let's just say that it wasn't what I expected, but that could have been me not reading the summary thoroughly enough.

I struggled a bit with this one, because I couldn't really connect to Charlotte. And I really, really hated Amanda. Gosh, she was so annoying! And so full of herself! Ugh, she made me want to bitchslap something. And don't even get me started on Neal, the sneaky bastard! It took Charlotte 238 bloody pages to figure out what I realised the minute I met them both: worthless friend/boyfriend material!

But, as I did finish this book, I didn't totally dislike it. I really didn't. I really enjoyed scenes with Charlotte's brother James Henry. He was sweet and I wanted to give him hugs most of the time. And Milton, he was a bit weird, but in a quirky, sweet kind of way. I also think that the author described what can happen to teens when they are friends with the wrong kind of people. It's so easy to just go along and join in whatever (I feel like an old woman saying this, but it's true).

My rating: 2 stars

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Royal Treatment by Lindsey Leavitt

Title/Author: The Royal Treatment (Princess For Hire #2) by Lindsey Leavitt
Publisher/Date published: Disney-Hyperion, May 3rd 2011
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "Desi Bascomb's job as a princess substitute has gotten a whole lot more glamorous now that she's advanced to Level 2 within the Facade Agency. Magical make-up, roller-skating celebrities, and the chance to see Prince Karl again are just some of the major perks. Not to mention, she's landed the role of Fairy Queen in her school's production of Midsummer's Night Dream (opposite her best friend's crush. Which is a little weird, but at least he wears a donkey head during their kissing scene). Life should be perfect, but Desi can't seem to shake the feeling that there is more going on with the agency's magic than she's told. Like why is this mind-bending power exclusive to royals? Is it possible that there could be a bigger way to make an impact in both parts of her life?"

I really enjoyed Princess For Hire and I was glad I could almost immediately continue with The Royal Treatment, cause I was excited to find out what adventures Desi would get into this time.
And let me just say that I was not disappointed! I loved this one more than the first book, it was wonderful!

Desi is such a lovable heroine! She has my kind of humor and gosh, I'd want her as my friend. She's spunky and if she wants something she goes the extra mile to get it, which I respect.
I didn't mention it in my review of Princess for Hire, but I'm a huge Reed-fan. HUGE! He is extremely crush-worthy. And I'm really looking forward to seeing what will happen with him.

In Princess for Hire there's a Prince Karl situation, that I wasn't really sure what to think of, but let me just say that this book made me very, very happy about that. And I hadn't seen it coming. And I LOVED that I didn't see it coming! I annoy myself by guessing how plot twists will work out and am always happy when I get surprised by things. Pleasantly, in this case.

The ending makes me whish for the next book already! I'm intrigued by how Leavitt left things and 2012 cannot come soon enough with the third book in this wonderful series! It's such a cute read and I can't get enough of it.
If I ever have a daughter I'm going to put this series in her hands and make her read it, I think they're that good.

My rating: 5 stars

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch

Title/Author: The Magnolia League (The Magnolia League #1) by Katie Crouch
Publisher/Date published: Little, Brown on May 3rd 2011
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "After the death of her free-spirited mother, sixteen-year-old Alex Lee must leave her home in northern California to live with her wealthy grandmother in Savannah, Georgia. By birth, Alex is a rightful, if unwilling, member of the Magnolia League, Savannah's long-standing debutante society. She quickly discovers that the Magnolias have made a pact with a legendary hoodoo family, the Buzzards. The Magnolias enjoy youth, beauty and power. But at what price?"

While reading the first part of this book I was preparing a gushing review in my head. And then came some stuff I had issues with. But in the end it sort of worked out, let me explain.

I really liked Alex. I liked that she wasn't overwhelmed by all the money and all it can buy. She grew up on a communal organic farm and has now been transported to Savannah and is the 'heiress' of a debutante society. I think everyone would have her reaction of 'wait, WHAT???', I know I would. She's being shoved into a role she isn't comfortable with and gets two friends sort of assigned to her, of course she's going to question it and protest.

The League has some magic they can tap into: hoodoo. And this can do lots of this for you, both good and bad. I got how this could draw Alex in and make things seem less clear for her. I thought the hoodoo magic was really intriguing, I'd never read anything about it before. I won't give away how they keep the girls skinny through this, but let me say that the explanation seemed incredibly likely to me.

So the first part of the novel was all good for me, and then came the part where Alex develops a relationship with a guy I will not name. Not only did it feel weird, but she does something that's straught out of the book 'How To Ruin Your Relationship'. I mean, really?? If you've read it, you know what I'm talking about. This REALLY bothered me. And the relationship itself... Well, I liked the guy, I thought he was kinda perfect for Alex. But I didn't believe what was happening, unlike the less realistic stuff about the whole society. The romance didn't feel natural somehow.

And OMG, that ending! It makes me want to transport to 2012 so I can immediately grab the next book and keep on reading! It's not exactly a cliffhanger, but I've got so many questions and I'm dying to find out what happens next.

So even though I had some problems with the romance part of it, I did really enjoy the book and would recommend it if, like me, you like YA and secret societies! And creepy magic! It's got it all.
My rating: 4 stars