Saturday, August 31, 2013

Crewel (Crewel World #1) by Gennifer Albin - Paul's PRE READING

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Title: Crewel (Crewel World #1)
Author: Gennifer Albin
Year Published: 2013

Ashley's Review of CREWEL

Synopsis: Incapable. Awkward. Artless. 
That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: She wants to fail. 

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen to work the looms is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to manipulate the very fabric of reality. But if controlling what people eat, where they live, and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and used her hidden talent for a moment. Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her dad’s jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because tonight, they’ll come for her.

Why?: I have wanted to read this book since it was released. I have heard only good things about it. The concept sounds so intriguing. I don't even understand what it exactly means. I like when science is conceptual in books. 

Expectations: I am expecting my mind to be blown or at least very entertained. I'm hoping to have a lot of questions about the world Albin has created. I want some high concept thinking, at least more than a normal YA sci-fi. 

Judging a book by its cover: This cover is absolutely gorgeous. I love the many colors and that I really don't know what it is. It almost looks like a flower, but maybe it's threads. I have seen the new covers and I do not like them as much. They aren't unique at all. I would and have picked this book in the store based on its cover. 

-PAUL

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater - Ashley's Pre-Reading

*I received this book as an eARC from Scholastic on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

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Title: The Dream Thieves
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Year Published: 2013

Synopsis: 
The second installment in the all-new series from the masterful, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater!


Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after...

Why?: I read and really liked The Raven Boys last year, and have been anxiously awaiting its sequel since then. I had so many questions that I'm hoping are answered in this book, and I'm sure many more will arise (since there are still two more books to go!). Ronan is such an interesting character, and I'm really excited that it seems like this book focuses more on him. 

Expectations: I expect a whole new slew of mysteries to be in this book now that the ley lines have been woken. Definitely a lot about dreams and how they can be more than just dreams. My expectations for this book are definitely higher than they were for The Raven Boys, since I have a better idea of how Stiefvater writes and now that I'm invested in these characters and their story.

Judging a book by its cover: I really love this cover. I think Ronan looks a little cartoony, but I think the ravens and the color scheme make it alright. If I saw this on a shelf somewhere, I would definitely pick it up and take a look. The dark colors against the stark white background make this so much different from most other YA covers out there.


--Ashley

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Chronicle: Before the Books of Eva (Books of Eva #0.5) by Heather Terrell - Ashley's Review

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Relic the Book

Title: Chronicle: Before the Books of Eva
Author: Heather Terrell
Year Published: 2013

Synopsis: This is our second—and last—chance.Thanks to the Gods, and thanks to the Testing.

Each year, the finest Gallants in New North embark on the Testing, a harrowing rite of passage through the frozen wastelands to recover Relics, artifacts from the evil time before the Healing. About these Relics the Testors construct their Chronicles, illustrating mankind’s depravity, his Vanity, his love of Tech, his sins too numerous to count. All true Chronicles are collected and made part of the Lex’s Holy Truths, year by year.

The Chronicle.  Nothing is more vital to the resolve of the inhabitants of the New North, the last inhabitants of an Earth flooded by the Healing. But not all Chronicles are deemed True. And not all Testors are Gallants. One year there was a Maiden, Madeline, the first but not the last. Braving the perils of the Testing, she discovered a Relic that, if Chronicled, would be the New North’s downfall...

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Review: I think this story has a really exciting premise. The description opens up so many questions - what caused the Healing to be necessary? What did the Healing entail? Why did this particular rite of passage come to be, and why is it so important that the Testors write these Chronicles? It makes me really excited for this series, because I already want to know so much! 

Unfortunately, I think this story bites off a little more than it can chew. A lot of these questions are left unanswered and I felt like there was not enough set up or back story to make this work. I wanted to know why Madeline is important, other than being the first Maiden to participate in the Testing, and why exactly her Relic would be the New North's downfall. It's just not explained well enough, and the whole time I felt like there was a huge piece missing. 

I did enjoy the writing style though, and I thought that including parts of other Chronicles, the Lex, and parts of Madeline's diary were really a nice touch. It wasn't always the easiest thing to read, but I still liked it and am interested to read more of Terrell's works.Especially if Relic is written in a similar style. 

I almost feel like I should have waited to read this story until after Relic. There's just not enough information or set up or knowledge of the world and people for it to make any real sense. I guess it's supposed to be a teaser of what's to come, and it did make me want to read more of the series, but I don't know. I just didn't enjoy this story as much as I was hoping to. A 2/5. 


--Ashley

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Masque of the Red Death (Masque of the Red Death #1) by Bethany Griffin - Ashley's Review

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Title: Masque of the Red Death
Author: Bethany Griffin
Year Published: 2012

My Pre-Reading

Synopsis: 
Everything is in ruins.


A devastating plague has decimated the population, and those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery makeup . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club, and Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find not just something to live for, but something to fight for—no matter what it costs her.


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Review: I honestly don't even know where to start with this book. I mean, I could tell you that this is a retelling of a classic Poe story set in a post-apocalyptic world where a plaque has devastated the world and continues to inflict the population. But it's so much more than that. Araby isn't your typical heroine, and her friends are not at all what they appear to be. In fact, you can't trust anyone because everyone has secrets. 

And I think that's is a huge reason why this book was so good. You have to expect the unexpected, because there's no telling what Araby will find out about someone she thought she knew. There were so many twists and so many secrets that I was kept guessing the whole time. As soon as I thought I had someone figured out, there would be some new piece of information or they would do something totally unexpected. I loved that, and I thought Bethany did an excellent job in developing each and every one of her characters. They're all so multidimensional and dynamic. I also liked that there was a little bit of romance, but that it didn't overshadow the rest of the story. I can't decide who I want Araby to end up with, and I'm actually kind of excited that both boys have both redeeming and failing qualities.

Araby was especially interesting. She changes so much over the course of the book that it almost seems like she's a totally different person by the end. At first, she goes to the Debauchery Club to forget - she drinks and does drugs and does whatever else she can to forget that the world will never be the same and her twin brother is gone. But then, everything changes. She becomes stronger emotionally and begins to realize that what she thought she was doing for her brother is exactly the opposite of what he would want for her. She's flawed, but she wants to do what she can to help everyone else. I thought it was really nice to see a heroine who isn't a fighter from the get go, and I think it made her easier to relate to.

I really loved all of the references to Poe's short story. There are major references (like Prince Prospero and the Red Death) and more subtle ones. I loved how Prospero is so much like Poe's Prospero, but is still a new and exciting villain. And the way Griffin incorporates the masks and the Red Death is really well done too. I can't wait to read the next book to find out how she sneaks even more references in, but still keeps this story unique and her own.

I'm not really sure that there's even a category for this book. It's post-apocalyptic and I guess a little bit sci-fi with a dash of steampunk, but it's so unlike anything I've read that I just don't know where to place it. I think anyone who enjoyed Ann Aguirre's Enclave and Susan Dennard's Something Strange and Deadly would also really enjoy this novel. Also, fans of any post-apocalyptic YA and anyone who wants to see a fresh new take on Poe's The Masque of the Red Death would probably like this book. A 5/5! 


--Ashley

Monster on the Hill - Paul's REVIEW

***I was provided an ecopy of this graphic novel via NetGalley in exchange for a fair review***

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Title: Monster on the Hill
Authors:  Rob Harrell 
Year Published: 2013

Synopsis: In a fantastical 1860s England, every quiet little township is terrorized by a ferocious monster - much to the townsfolk's delight! Each town's unique monster is a source of local pride, not to mention tourism. Each town, that is... except for one. Unfortunately, for the people of Stoker-on-Avon, their monster isn't quite as impressive. In fact, he's a little down in the dumps. Can the morose Rayburn get a monstrous makeover and become a proper horror? It's up to the eccentric Dr. Charles Wilkie and plucky street urchin Timothy to get him up to snuff, before a greater threat turns the whole town to kindling! Monsters of all ages are sure to enjoy this tale about life's challenges, the power of friendship, and creative redemption, packed with epic battles and plenty of wild beasts!

Review: Imagine a world where every town has a "monster on the hill" that not only rampages the town regularly, but is also seen as a local celebrity and attraction. In this graphic novel, one of those monsters is feeling a little under the weather. An old inventor and a young paperboy help him find what he's missing. 


This graphic novel is colorful and the print is large. It was really nice to read on the computer. This story is for all ages. It has the fun and excitement for the younger audience, but some adult humor thrown in there. I think it has the feel of a modern animated film. I could see Ricky Gervais voicing the main monster, Rayburn.

This is a fun, easy read with an interesting world. I would love to see this on the big screen. I give this graphic novel a 4/5.



-PAUL

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Inferno (Robert Langdon #4) by Dan Brown - Ashley's Pre-Reading

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Title: Inferno
Author: Dan Brown
Year Published: 2013

Synopsis: 
In his international blockbusters The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, and The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown masterfully fused history, art, codes, and symbols. In this riveting new thriller, Brown returns to his element and has crafted his highest-stakes novel to date.


In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces ... Dante's Inferno.

Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust ... before the world is irrevocably altered.

Why?: I read the other Robert Langdon books and really enjoyed them. I loved how Dan Brown took ancient history and symbology and blended it with a story that was fast paced, gripping, and had me guessing at every turn. Although it's been a while since I read The Lost Symbol, I'm really interested as to where Robert's story will take him in reference to Dante's Inferno. 

Expectations: I expect this book to be very similar to the other three, only centered around a different piece of art and history. I'm sure there will be secrets and mysteries that only Langdon can solve, and probably a secret society or too. And a love interest, of course. 

Judging a book by its cover: This cover is really reminiscent of the other covers in the series. It kind of looks like something off of the History Channel, but I really like the color scheme. I might pick it up if I saw it on a shelf, but it's debatable. 


--Ashley

Monday, August 26, 2013

When the World Was Flat (And We Were in Love) by Ingrid Jonach - Ashley's Review

*I received this book as an eARC from Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

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Title: When the World Was Flat (and we were in love)
Author: Ingrid Jonach
Year Published: 2013

My Pre-Reading

Synopsis: 
Looking back, I wonder if I had an inkling that my life was about to go from ordinary to extraordinary.


When sixteen-year-old Lillie Hart meets the gorgeous and mysterious Tom Windsor-Smith for the first time, it's like fireworks - for her, anyway. Tom looks as if he would be more interested in watching paint dry; as if he is bored by her and by her small Nebraskan town in general.

But as Lillie begins to break down the walls of his seemingly impenetrable exterior, she starts to suspect that he holds the answers to her reoccurring nightmares and to the impossible memories which keep bubbling to the surface of her mind - memories of the two of them, together and in love.

When she at last learns the truth about their connection, Lillie discovers that Tom has been hiding an earth-shattering secret; a secret that is bigger - and much more terrifying and beautiful - than the both of them. She also discovers that once you finally understand that the world is round, there is no way to make it flat again.

An epic and deeply original sci-fi romance, taking inspiration from Albert Einstein's theories and the world-bending wonder of true love itself.


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Review: When I first started reading this book, it seemed like any other contemporary YA romance book out there. Girl is an outcast, has a couple of friends, doesn't get along with the popular girl. Then, she meets the new boy and he changes everything. But that's where the textbook romance ends and the beautiful, imaginative, original sci-fi story takes over. It turns into something unlike anything I've ever read, and had me on the edge of my seat. Yes, the romance is important, but there is so much more to this book than that. 

The first half of this book is a really nice little story with a lot of set up that you don't realize is important until later. I thought it was a little slow at times, and it took me a little bit to actually get into it, but once I got to the second half, I really appreciated it. The way this novel is set up is absolutely genius, and huge props to Jonach for that. To go from something so ordinary and common into heavy science fiction that actually requires thought does not seem like an easy thing to do, but Jonach does it so gracefully that it seems natural and plausible. Some of the science and physics might be a little stretched for the sake of the story, but it honestly didn't bother me. I'm not reading this book for a science lesson. 

Even though I am not at all a physicist, especially not a theoretical physicist, I think Einstein's theories are very interesting and it was really neat to see them employed in this book. Science and love collide to tell a unique story that will stick with you for a while. I really enjoyed how certain things are explained - Lillie's recurring dreams, her memories that aren't hers, the seemingly unexplainable attraction between Tom and her, why her friends are suddenly acting so different, etc - and even though it often seems like a stretch, I thought it was very thoughtful and creative. And speaking of the attraction between Lillie and Tom, the romance reminded me of a roller coaster; it starts slow, picks up speed and barrels downhill, and hits some corkscrews and turns, and is such a thrill ride. 

Lillie isn't always the most likable girl ever, but I'm pretty sure anyone who dreams of her own death every night wouldn't be very pleasant. Sometimes I feel like she's a little too harsh when she talks to and about Sylv, but you can tell she genuinely cares for her and Jo. She's always worrying about Jo and her father, and checking in with her (or trying to) whenever there's something going on. She never wants Sylv to get into trouble, and stands up for her and protects her when she can. Once things start to fall into place she definitely gets better, and I found myself really sympathizing with her. Tom isn't really a pleasant guy either until we find out what his deal is. And then, once you think everything is good and happy, we get thrown more twists and it makes everything that much more complicated. And I kind of loved every minute of it. 

I don't want to spoil any of this book for anyone, because I think it's better if you read it and find things out on your own. I would definitely recommend this for anyone who enjoys hard science fiction, or for someone who is looking for a science fiction romance novel with seriously flawed characters who you can't help but fall in love with. I honestly don't know what to compare this too, because it is so original and hauntingly beautiful and so many other things. Oh, and the metaphor with the title and the world being flat... it's fantastic. There really is no going back once you learn that the world is round. A 5/5! 


--Ashley

The Uprising (The Forsaken #2) - Paul's PRE READING

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Title: The Uprising (The Forsaken #2)
Author: Lisa M. Stasse
Year Published: 2013

My Review of THE FORSAKEN
Ashley's Review of THE FORSAKEN

Synopsis: Alenna escaped. It was expected that she would die on the wheel, the island where would-be criminals are sent as directed by the UNA—the totalitarian supercountry that was once the United States, Mexico, and Canada. But Alenna and her boyfriend, Liam, made it to safety. Except safety, they will soon learn, is relative.

In order to bring down the UNA, they must first gain control of the wheel. If the mission succeeds, the wheel will become a base of revolution. But between betrayals, a new Monk leading a more organized army of Drones, and the discovery of a previously unknown contingent, Alenna, Liam, and their allies might be in over their heads. One thing Alenna knows for sure: There will be a reckoning. And not everyone she loves will make it out alive.

Why?: The Forsaken was a really good Dystopian YA with a female heroine in a long line. Stasse created a believable world with a strong female protagonist. 

Expectations: I don't know if this will follow the mold of Dystopian trilogies in which the protagonists escape the society, only to find more problems in the wild. I imagine a rebellion will begin to form. I hope I am surprised, though. I like the unexpected.

Judging a book by its cover: I really like this cover. It's very similar to the cover of The Forsaken, which I absolutely loved. The colors interest me. The face appears to be of a guy, so maybe Liam will have a big part in this book. I like how the art of The Wheel comes out of the head. 

-PAUL

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Elite (The Selection #2) by Kiera Cass - Paul's REVIEW

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Title: The Elite (The Selection #2)
Authors:  Kiera Cass
Year Published: 2013

My THE ELITE Pre Reading
My THE PRINCE Review
Ashley's THE PRINCE Review
My THE SELECTION Review
Ashley's THE SELECTION Review

Synopsis: Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.

America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.

Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.

Review: This sequel does not disappoint. It has all the intrigue, romance, and fun of the first book. America has made her way to the Elite and boy am I thankful. There are less girls still competing, so we get to know each of them pretty well. Some we learn to hate more. Others made me wonder if America really was right for Prince Maxon. 


The love triangle is still an integral part of the story. I think I am Team Maxon, but there were points in this novel when I was Team No One. Maxon did some pretty extreme things in this novel, but by the end I understood. America on the other hand was a little annoying. She never thinks before she does. I liked her ideas behind a lot of things, but she never thought about what would come next. 

As well as getting to know the other potential princesses more, we get to learn more about the King and Queen. Queen Amberly is a likable character. I want to know more about her life before and during her Selection. America's father also intrigues me. Cass did an excellent job at revealing more in this sequel, while still making me want more. The small bits about the history of this interesting world left me wanting more! I loved the part about Halloween, And the rebels really interest me, as well. More!

Overall, this was a really fun read. It's nothing mind bending, but it is definitely entertaining. This sequel provided answers to some of my questions from the first book, but even more it made me want MORE! I am so ready for the third book in this trilogy. I'm going to make sure I read all the short stories, too! I give The Elite a 4/5.

-PAUL

Of Poseidon (Of Poseidon #1) by Anna Banks - Ashley's Review

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Title: Of Poseidon
Author: Anna Banks
Year Published: 2012

My Pre-Reading
My review of The Stranger
My review of Legacy Lost

Synopsis: 
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.

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Review: The last mermaid book I read was Jackson Pearce's Fathomless, and it was one of my favorites. I've been looking for another great take on mermaids since then (even if it isn't at all related to The Little Mermaid), so I finally decided to give Of Poseidon a shot. And I am so upset with myself that I didn't read it sooner! Complete with incredible world-building, a decades-old mystery, pop culture references, humor, and romance, this book is definitely one you don't want to pass over!

Although this book takes place in our world, the supernatural touch that Banks put on it is very well done. Beneath the sea is a whole world that humans know nothing about, although the Syrena are well aware of the humans. I really enjoyed learning about the Syrena from Galen as he tries to figure out how to tell Emma about his people, and also as he travels between the two worlds. I found there to be quite a bit of world-building that is more subtle than in-your-face, which I really enjoyed. Plus, all of it is a great mix of mythical and realistic, and I could totally believe that the Syrena are real. 

I absolutely adored all of the characters. Even the minor characters are so well developed, and I love that there are so many subplots running alongside Emma and Galen's story. There's the Grom and Nalia story, Toraf and Rayna, Rachel, the cold war between the Poseidon and Triton camps, and so much more. I didn't know so many plots could all coexist in one book and be done well, but Banks does it perfectly! It never seems like there's too much going on, and all of the stories fit so well together. It's like a gorgeous puzzle that you just keep finding more pieces to. 


I think one of my favorite things about this book was how the alternating perspectives were done. While Emma's chapters are first person, Galen's chapters are third person. Although it took me by surprise the first time it happened, it becomes very natural after that. The pacing doesn't slow down at all because of it, and I think it adds more to the story than if the whole book had been first person. I also really enjoyed watching Emma and Galen change from each others' perspective (as well as their own), because it makes for some pretty hilarious commentary. Both of the characters have pretty great senses of humor, and I actually laughed out loud several times! Actually, Rayna can also deal out the snarky comments too, and had me giggling most of the time. 

The romance is well done too. Galen follows Emma because he thinks she might have an important gift, and intends to bring her home for his brother to mate with. He never expects to fall in love with her, so the romance is very slow and believable. The two fall for each other because of their flaws, not in spite of them, and I'm always a big fan of that. Toraf and Rayna's relationship is well-done too, and the character dynamic between all four of them is so easy and well done. I found myself really wanting to be a part of their little group. 

Everything about this book is just wonderful. The mix of romance with Greek mythology and mystery and adventure is a perfect blend. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a supernatural romance with more of a story. Also, to any fans of Fathomless, and to anyone who wants a fun summer read. I honestly think there's something in this book for everyone. A 5/5, and I can't wait to read the rest of the series! 


--Ashley

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Masque of the Red Death (Masque of the Red Death #1) by Bethany Griffin - Ashley's Pre-Reading

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Masque of the Red Death
Author: Bethany Griffin
Year Published: 2012

Synopsis: 
Everything is in ruins.


A devastating plague has decimated the population, and those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery makeup . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club, and Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find not just something to live for, but something to fight for—no matter what it costs her.

Why?: I'm all about those creepy stories that make you think... And what could be creepier than a retelling of an Edgar Allen Poe story? I'm really interested as to how Griffin will take the classic story with all of its mystery and colors and Death and turn it into a plague, debauchery, nightlife, and all the glitz and glamour of an underground party world. Pretty much everything about this book just makes me want to sit down and read it all in one go.

Expectations: I expect a pretty intense story with quite a bit of death, mystery, and double meanings. I'm hoping for some obvious Poe references as well as some more unique ones, and definitely some creative new spins on a classic. Masque of the Red Death is one of the more popular Poe stories, so I have pretty big expectations for this story. It should definitely live up to its namesake!

Judging a book by its cover: I'm pretty much in love with this cover. I love how the rd stands out against the blacks and whites and grays. I love that the girl has her face hidden so she comes off as very mysterious. I love the dress and the parasol among the doom and gloom of the clouds and the weeds. The whole thing really reminds me of the covers for the Anna Dressed in Blood series, which is one of my all time favorites. If I saw this on a shelf somewhere, I would totally pick it up. 


--Ashley

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Woken Gods by Gwenda Bond - Ashley's Review

*I received this book as an eARC from Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: The Woken Gods
Author: Gwenda Bond
Year Published: 2013

My Pre-Reading

Synopsis: 
The more things change…


Five years ago, the gods of ancient mythology awoke all around the world.

The more things stay the same…

This morning, Kyra Locke is late for school because of an argument with her father.

Seventeen-year-old Kyra lives in a transformed Washington, D.C., dominated by the embassies of divine pantheons and watched over by the mysterious Society of the Sun that governs mankind’s relations with the gods. But when rebellious Kyra encounters two trickster gods on her way home, one offering a threat and the other a warning, it turns out her life isn't what it seems. She escapes with the aid of Osborne "Oz" Spencer, a young Society field operative, only to discover that her scholar father has disappeared with a dangerous Egyptian relic. The Society needs the item back, and they aren't interested in her protests that she knows nothing about it or her father's secrets.

Now Kyra must depend on her wits and the suspect help of scary Sumerian gods, her estranged oracle mother, and, of course, Oz--whose first allegiance is to the Society. She has no choice if she’s going to recover the missing relic and save her father. And if she doesn't? Well, that may just mean the end of the world as she knows it. From the author of Blackwood comes a fresh, thrilling urban fantasy that will appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman, Cassandra Clare, and Rick Riordan.


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Review: You would think that taking pretty much every god and goddess ever, minor an major, and cramming them all into one book would make for one extremely convoluted story, right? Well, you'd be surprised at how well Gwenda Bond manages to do exactly that! Throw in a headstrong determined girl fighting against fate and time, a mystery that runs deeper than anyone knows, and a little bit of romance, and you've got an excellent, imaginative story that will hold your attention well past the last page. 

Since the world is very similar to ours, only with the gods taking over DC, the world building doesn't require much. A few explanations here and there about how this god-inhabited world is different from the current one, and some descriptions of how things like school materials have changed is really all it takes for the reader to become completely immersed in this new world. I do wish we knew a little bit more about the Society of the Sun and the Tricksters, but the little bit of information we're given kind of fits in with the whole secret society thing I guess. I just felt like there were some holes that could have been filled with more back story. 

I really enjoyed that this book was written mostly from Kyra's perspective, but every so often jumps into a third person chapter or too. This is mostly Kyra's story, so we definitely see a lot of her emotions and actions and back story. Those other chapters though allow us to see more of her friends and accomplices. Without them, how would we know what visions the Sages have given everyone? Or what they feel about these situations? Although the first few are unexpected, I definitely think they help move the characters along and help us get to know even the minor characters almost as if they were Kyra. We see how all of them grow and change and mature over the course of a few days without having to have one character dictate what they're doing.

I definitely didn't think any part of this book was slow. We're thrown in right in the middle of things happening, and it almost gives the feel of a second book in a series. As Kyra and her friends start to run out of time, it's almost like the pacing speeds up. Hours become minutes, minutes become seconds, and all of a sudden we're at the end of the conflict. But wait, there's more! Just when you think there's going to be a happily ever after... Bond throws you another curve ball! It's enough to keep you on your toes the whole time, even if you think you know what's going to happen next. Some parts are a little slow, but it's all relevant information that shouldn't be left at the wayside. Tthe romance seems a little unnecessary most of the time, but since it's a pretty minor subplot it wasn't terrible.

I'm always looking for a book where ancient mythologies are blended with contemporary settings. Take the Percy Jackson series. I loved those books, and I was kind of really excited to see that this was a book for fans of them. But honestly, I think Bond does it so much better. So I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for something along the lines of Percy Jackson, but maybe a little more complex and a lot darker. Also, for anyone interested in mythology of any kind. A 4/5 for this wonderful book! I really hope there's a sequel because as much as I can see this being left where it is, I want to know what happens next!


--Ashley

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Stranger (Of Poseidon #0.6) by Anna Banks - Ashley's Review

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Tor.com

Title: The Stranger
Author: Anna Banks
Year Published: 2013

My Of Poseidon Pre-Reading
My Legacy Lost Review

Synopsis: The Syrena don’t trust many humans. Rachel is one of them. The story of how Galen met her – and how they bonded -- is both exciting and heartbreaking.

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Review: I really hope Anna Banks keeps this short stories coming because she does an excellent job taking a little back story and telling it in such a way that it makes you feel like you really get to know these minor characters. Legacy Lost was an intriguing and heartbreaking look into Nalia and Grom's past, and this story about Rachel will tug on your heartstrings just as much. 

This story takes place somewhere in between Legacy Lost and Of Poseidon, and gives us a glimpse into how Galen and Rachel forged their partnership. From reading Of Poseidon, we get an idea of what happens, but I really enjoyed seeing what actually went down on the island and watching Galen, Rayna, and Toraf start to trust a human. Although Rachel and Galen are the main focus of this story, I think it really helps give more depth to all four characters and helps strengthen some of the relationships. 

We already know quite a bit about the world, so there's not really as much world building as before, but we do learn a little bit more about how Grom and the other Syrena view humans, and we get to see more of why Galen wants to be the ambassador between the humans and the Syrena. He makes friends easily regardless of species, and I feel like there's definitely a moral in there somewhere. We still don't know a lot about Rachel, but I still enjoyed learning more about her past and how she ends up working with Galen after he saves her.

I definitely recommend this story to anyone who has read any of the other books or stories in the Of Poseidon series! It will give you warm fuzzies and all of the feels, and I think it really helps get to know some of the characters. And it's also available to read for free on Tor's website (at the link above)! So really, you've got nothing to lose ;). A 4/5 on this little novellette! 


--Ashley

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Of Poseidon (Of Poseidon #1) by Anna Banks - Ashley's Pre-Reading

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Of Poseidon
Author: Anna Banks
Year Published: 2012

Synopsis: 
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.

Why?: I think mermaids are absolutely fascinating. I love the different takes on The Little Mermaid, and I really love seeing how authors take such a popular mythical creature and turn it into something new and different. I'm really looking forward to a YA series solely about mermaids, with a little bit of fantasy and mythology and romance thrown in. I can't wait to see how all of these things are twisted into one story! 

Expectations: I've heard such good things about this book that I have pretty high expectations for it. Definitely a swoon-worthy prince, complete with romance. I'm also pretty excited that it's told from two perspectives, so I'm expecting there to be confusion and mystery and all of that jazz from both sides. And the description says that there's humor... so I also expect to laugh quite a bit. 

Judging a book by its cover: I think this cover is actually pretty fantastic. It's not flashy or showy, but it's definitely very elegant. I love that you can totally guess this is a mermaid book, but it's not obnoxious about it. And the girl still looks human - there's no big fin or seashell bra or anything. If I saw this on a shelf in a bookstore or a library, I'd totally pick it up. Bravo, cover artist. Bravo.


--Ashley

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Legacy Lost (Of Poseidon #0.5) by Anna Banks - Ashley's Review

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Tor.com

Title: Legacy Lost
Author: Anna Banks
Year Published: 2012

Synopsis: 
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 Nalia — both 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.

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Review: As I was reading Of Poseidon, I kept finding myself wondering about Nalia. What was she like before the mines? What was her and Grom's relationship like? Were they friends from childhood? How did Grom survive the mines when Nalia didn't? And then I discovered this short story, and I was so excited that I might get the answers to most, or all, of my questions! 

I really enjoyed getting to know Nalia and Grom, and seeing more of the Syrena world. Since most of Of Poseidon takes place among the humans, we only get small glimpses into the world of the Syrena. In this story though, we get to see much more of the politics and why they act the way they do. Even though it's a short story, the world building is actually really great and answered questions I didn't even know I had. 

It was also really interesting to see what Nalia was like. She definitely reminds me of someone else, and I think reading Of Poseidon first made this story that much better. Grom also reminds me a lot of Galen, and it's really neat to see what he was like before the tragedy and before his two younger siblings came around. He's definitely a totally different person, and I wish he still had some of that spunk. Or at least showed it a little more.

Although this can definitely be read before, as a prequel and a glimpse into the world, reading it after Of Poseidon gives more depth to both stories. If you've read and enjoyed any of the books in the Of Poseidon series, I highly recommend this story! If you haven't started the series yet, this could definitely be a good place to get your feet wet. There's love and loss and a fantasy world. Plus, you can read it free online (at the Tor.com link above)! A 4/5 on this little story! 


--Ashley

The Elite (The Selection #2) by Kiera Cass - Paul's PRE READING

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: The Elite (The Selection #2)
Author: Kiera Cass
Year Published: 2013

My Review of THE SELECTION
Ashley's Review of THE SELECTION

Synopsis: Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.

America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.

Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.

Why?: I really enjoyed The Selection. It was a fun, easy read with a really interesting dystopia world. I liked that the history and world building was very subtle. It kept me asking for me. The love triangle was understandable and the characters were interesting. 

Expectations: I hope we learn more about the world. The Rebels really interest me. I'm hoping the story goes more in that direction than just the Selection continuing.   

Judging a book by its cover: I really like this cover. It's simple and similar to the cover of The Selection. I wonder if the red signifies more passion or conflict in this book. I like when trilogies have different colors emphasized for each book, like the Matched trilogy. I also like the mirrors behind America. 

-PAUL

Monday, August 19, 2013

When the World Was Flat (and we were in love) by Ingrid Jonach - Ashley's Pre-Reading

*I received this book as an eARC from Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: When the World Was Flat (and we were in love)
Author: Ingrid Jonach
Year Published: 2013

Synopsis: 
Looking back, I wonder if I had an inkling that my life was about to go from ordinary to extraordinary.


When sixteen-year-old Lillie Hart meets the gorgeous and mysterious Tom Windsor-Smith for the first time, it's like fireworks - for her, anyway. Tom looks as if he would be more interested in watching paint dry; as if he is bored by her and by her small Nebraskan town in general.

But as Lillie begins to break down the walls of his seemingly impenetrable exterior, she starts to suspect that he holds the answers to her reoccurring nightmares and to the impossible memories which keep bubbling to the surface of her mind - memories of the two of them, together and in love.

When she at last learns the truth about their connection, Lillie discovers that Tom has been hiding an earth-shattering secret; a secret that is bigger - and much more terrifying and beautiful - than the both of them. She also discovers that once you finally understand that the world is round, there is no way to make it flat again.

An epic and deeply original sci-fi romance, taking inspiration from Albert Einstein's theories and the world-bending wonder of true love itself.

Why?: I love sci-fi books, and I'm really interested how this book is going to take real science and incorporate it with a huge secret and a romance. How do you turn Albert Einstein's theories into a YA novel that catches the attention of the everyday reader? I'm also really interested in the metaphor behind the flat world. I've also heard rave reviews about this book, and I've never been disappointed by a Strange Chemistry title, so there's that too.

Expectations: I expect a pretty heavy read. I don't think it's really possible to water down Einstein's theory of relativity so much that any book about it or containing it could be considered an easy read by any stretch of the imagination. I also expect this book to be heavy on the romance, although I think the science fiction will be the focus. At least I hope it is. Also, huge mysteries and secrets and all of that jazz.

Judging a book by its cover: As simple and minimalistic as this cover is, I kind of really love it. The red against the blue really pops for me, and I love the silver heart key. It doesn't give too much away, and it's not a standard "girl with pretty colors" cover that you see nowadays. I would be really likely to pick this book up off of a shelf if I saw it  somewhere. 

Also, while we're on the topic of covers, this is one of the first Strange Chemistry novels to be published as a hardcover book (instead of paperback), so yay! 


--Ashley

The Prince (The Selection #0.5) by Kiera Cass - Paul's REVIEW

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: The Prince (The Selection #0.5)
Authors:  Kiera Cass
Year Published: 2013

Ashley's THE PRINCE Review
My THE SELECTION Review
Ashley's THE SELECTION Review

Synopsis: Before thirty-five girls were chosen to compete in the Selection . . .

Before Aspen broke America’s heart . . .

There was another girl in Prince Maxon’s life. . . .

Don’t miss this thrilling 64-page digital original novella set in the world of the New York Times bestselling novel The Selection. Also features a teaser to The Elite, Kiera Cass’s hotly anticipated sequel to The Selection.

Review: I am really growing to love novellas from different characters' perspectives. All the great YA out there has such interesting worlds and this way you get to experience the world through another set of eyes. In this novella, we get Maxon's perspective. 


This novella shows Maxon right before the Selection takes place and during the first few days of the girls moving in. I enjoyed the first chapters more than the later ones because it was completely new and not just a different angle of a scene I was familiar with. 

I thought it was nice to get to see how Maxon feels about his parents and their relationship. We also got to see more of the politics of the world. I want to know more about this world, so I really devoured every little detail. 

I read this before The Elite and I feel like it was refreshed the world and the story. I'm excited to read The Elite. I give this novella a 3/5 because I liked the first few chapters a lot more than the last, which just seemed like copies of scenes I already saw. 



-PAUL