Monday, February 20, 2012

Review: Daughter of the Centaurs, by Kate Klimo

Title: Daughter of the Centaurs
Author: Kate Klimo, aka K.K. Ross
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: January 24th, 2012
Rating:


Read an excerpt from chapter 1 here!

There are some books you come across, and everything about that book just seems to draw you in -- from the cover, to the buzz, to the description, to the first few chapters, even -- and then you reach a certain part of the story, and it all just falls flat. Then, there are other books that just can't seem to spark your interest no matter what, yet for some reason you still pick up the book and try to read it...only to find out what an amazing story the author has weaved (one of my more recent reads was like this. I so did not want to read it--was certain I was going to hate it--but it was a review book so I made myself give it a try, anyway. Now I'm glad I did, but that's a whole other review...). And then, there are some books like this one.
Malora knows what she was born to be: a horse wrangler and a hunter, just like her father. But when her people are massacred by batlike monsters called Leatherwings, Malora will need her horse skills just to survive. The last living human, Malora roams the wilderness at the head of a band of magnificent horses, relying only on her own wits, strength, and courage. When she is captured by a group of centaurs and taken to their city, Malora must decide whether the comforts of her new home and family are worth the parts of herself she must sacrifice to keep them.

Kate Klimo has masterfully created a new world, which at first seems to be an ancient one or perhaps another world altogether, but is in fact set on earth sometime far in the future.

{c/o Goodreads}
I'll admit, It sounded a little weird at first, but still, it had me intrigued. Until I started reading it, at least. Honestly, I'm amazed I even made it past the beginning. There were several times I wasn't so sure I would, and was ready to type a big, fat DNF for my Netgalley review. It was a very rough beginning, and managed to read like what I imagine the author's notes may be like. It was a definite exposition overload.

Still, somehow I managed to push through, and the more the story picked up, the more I started to enjoy it. I found the shared background of the species intriguing. I liked how Malora sought to find her place in the centaur-run world, even if I found the opposition and prejudice against her predictably human.

And then the book reached it's end. Rather abruptly and anticlimactically, I might add. During then last third of the book there was so much build up to a possible uprising of the Flatlanders (the centaur society is broken up into two groups: the noble (read: richest) Highlanders, and the common (read: poor) Flatlanders), I was expecting a major conflict to arise toward the end. It almost did, but almost doesn't count. No, instead they were pacified SPOILER.
by losing a horse race, and having the winner (Malora) beat a few records. Really?

But, I did, at least, enjoy the meat of the story, and there had to be a reason. My guess would be the characters. True, some of them were rather flat, others rather frivolous and shallow. Yet, as with any story, there are some characters that shine brighter than the rest. Zephele Silvermane, for one, is just one of those fun, energetic characters that can make just about any book enjoyable. For another, Neal Featherhoof, who was quite possibly the most centaur-like centaur in the book. Which is kind of a shame. Especially since the majority of centaurs in this book seemed rather ashamed of their horse halves, which might explain why the acted so human.

The Twani, also were a rather awesome race. Half-humam and half-cat, they had sort of a thing for wishing to serves those who saved their lives (even after a life-debt has been paid, it seems). Whether or not this is what makes them awesome friends to their centaur "masters" or not, I don't know, but I loved them nonetheless. Especially West.

Overall, while I did enjoy the story for the most part, so much was introduced to it, and I felt very little was followed through, even for a first book in a series. The beginning and ending, which are, understandably, the hardest parts to write, I felt could have used some more attention. Also, as far as the ending is concerned, had the author taken the risikier direction (pro-uprising), I felt it would have improved the story overall, and would have been a nice set up for the future novel(s) of the series. Still, I might still be inclined to pick up the second book, when it comes out, if only to revisit some of these characters.

I wouldn't say this book rates higher than a 2.5 on our Crazy Hearts scale. While I can't say to whom I'd recommend this book to,  if any of you Pretty Readers do happen to pick up Daughter of the Centaurs, I wish you a better reading experience than I had.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Review: Shooting Stars by Allison Rushby

Title: Shooting Stars
Author: Allison Rushby
Publisher: 
Walker Children's Books
Publish Date: Feb 28th 2012
Rating:


(Read an excerpt here.
)

Shooting Stars by Allison Rushby tells the story of seventeen year old Jo, or Zo Jo as the rest of the paparazzo call her. That's right, Jo is one of the paparazzi. The people who run around L.A. chasing celebrities, camera in hand. But Jo doesn't want to be a paparazzo anymore, so when a newspaper editor offers her a chance to make a lot of money, enough to get out of the game for good, she has no choice but to accept. But when her target turns out to be Ned Hartnett, famous singer and international sensation, not to mention the only celebrity who has ever been kind to her, she starts to question her choices and whether or not the future she's planned for herself is worth the guilt that comes with it.

Shooting Stars hooked me within the first few pages and kept my interest until the very end. It's an extremely cute story. It may be a little predictable in places but there are also a twist or two that will shock you.

Jo is a funny heroine. She is doing a bad thing in order to make money to pay for her school, which would normally be considered a selfish reason, but on Jo nothing she does could look selfish. She's got so much back and forth inside her head. "Is this right? No. It's a bad thing to do. But it's my job. I'm being paid. I said I would. But can I really do it?" over and over again. You might think it would get boring, but Jo's dry, sarcasm keeps things from being boring. I really enjoyed reading about her and found myself laughing out loud... a lot.

I couldn't figure out what Ned's issue was, why he was at the facility. I NEVER saw the twist coming. I had theories and all, and I was even right about some of them. But the major twist, you'll never see coming. But at the same time, it makes perfect sense once you know about it! You sort of feel like your dangling in mid air, your whole world (well, Jo's world really) is turned upside down in a matter of seconds.

Even the side characters were great! Katrina was just adorable. A tall, lanky ex-ballerina who was just the right amount of goofy to offset Ned and Jo's tender moments. And I actually like Seth! I don't know why, exactly. He's sort of just the annoying guy in the group, but he's had such a terrible experience. Rushby set up Seth's introduction in such a way that, I already knew his backstory, so I immediately felt awful for him, and when he opened his mouth and spoke I just couldn't be annoyed by him. Plus I found his witty, sarcastic comments to Brad almost as funny as Jo's were.

There is one part, right before the end, where things slow down and become a little repetitive. It's mainly just Jo worrying a lot (although she does use a good reason) broken up by a few funny little scenes that neatly tie up some loose ends. It didn't detract from the overall awesome of the book, but it slowed the pace down a bit. But luckily the pacing picked back up soon after.

Fans of Jennifer Echols and Stephanie Perkins will undoubtedly enjoy Shooting Stars. It's a totally cute romance that anyone, young adult or not-quite-as-young adult, will want to read!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review: Intuition by J. Meyers

Love the cover!
Title: Intuition
Author: J. Meyers
Publish Date: Nov 3rd 2011
Rating:
Luke and his twin sister Sera have unusual abilities. Hers is a gift—she can heal with a touch of her hand. His is a curse—he can see the future but he can’t do anything about it. 
On a hike up the mountain, Luke has a vision unlike any other—one that leaves him terrified. Knowing that it will come true—and that he must do everything in his power to stop it—leaves his own future uncertain.  ~ Courtesy of Goodreads
Intuition by J. Meyers is a bonus Intangible short story. It centers on twins Luke and Sera as they hike up Mt. Mansfield, one of their favorite pastimes. Not only is it a scenic place to be, but it also helps to calm the twins, something they desperately need, considering their gifts. You see, Luke is a Seer, he sees the future, while Sera can heal with just a touch. So when Luke has a vision of a fellow hiker in danger, the twins set out to help.

Intuition is a perfect little teaser for Intangible, which I haven't had a chance to read yet. But now I'm dying to get my hands on a copy! Luke and his sister are so... compatible in that way that only twins can be. They even finish each others sentences. And the way the teaser ends? Oh, man! I need to read Intangible. Like now!


Intuition will leave you desperately wanting to know what happens next to Luke and Sera. It's short, but it's really only a teaser for Intangible which is on sale now!

So go. Go right now and download your free copy of Intuition from Amazon / B&N / Smashwords. You won't regret it!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Review: A Killer First Date by Alyxandra Harvey

Title: A Killer First Date
Author: Alyxandra Harvey
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publish Date: Feb 14th 2012
Rating:

Nicholas and Lucy have known each other for most of their lives, but now that they've finally admitted their feelings for each other, Nicholas wants to take her on their official first date-away from all the life-and-death drama that has surrounded them lately. Is it too much to ask for just a fun double date at the local carnival with his older brother, Quinn, and Quinn's new girlfriend, Hunter? ~ Courtesy of Goodreads
A Killer First Date: A Drake Chronicles ENovella by Alyxandra Harvey tells the story of Nicholas and Lucy's first date as well as Quinn and Hunter's. It takes place sometime between Out for Blood and Bleeding Hearts.

It was a very fluffy short story, but it still had all the action and romance that you expect from the Drakes. It may not have very much to do with the plot-line of the books, other than the characters, but it holds it's own. I was very much interested in what was happening plot-wise, even though it was short. And I got to see some more of Hunter's POV, which I always enjoy. (I heart me some Quinn and Quinn is always more present when Hunter's around!!)

It made me smile, a big huge smile that made me look a little funny, especially since I was working at the time. That's okay though, I totally enjoyed myself. And for $0.99 cents, what more can you ask for? If you haven't read The Drake Chronicles yet, I highly encourage you to do so. It's one of my favorites! If you have, the A Killer First Date is a great short story to help you pass the time until Blood Moon comes out in June!


You can purchase A Killer First Date at Amazon / B&N.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Deliriously Ash-tastic Valentine's Day Treat (and a Pretty PiF Giveaway)

Hey, Pretties and fellow fans,

So last week, two very favorite authors of ours (well, mine, at least) announced something big: They would both be releasing short stories inspired by their awesome series' this Valentine's Day (today!). Now,I know we're cutting it close, so I'm sure many of you have already had a chance to read them, but for those of you who haven't yet, you're in for a very special (almost belated) V-Day treat.

Also, you should stay tuned, and check down below for your chance to enter our [delayed-start] 300 Followers (You guys are AWESOME!) GIVEAWAY!

First, for those Iron Fey fans missing their Ash/Megan adorableness, Julie Kagawa has been so kind to delight us with "nearly five thousand words of shameless FLUFF" (with very pretty, pink pages, mind you.) that takes place after the events that transpired in The Iron Knight. Sounds awesome, right? Well it gets better. 


Not only is this story simply adorable, but Miss Kagawa had another special treat in store for us: She is giving away "a special, library hardback edition of THE IRON KING" that she received from FaerieCon.


To learn more about this giveaway and of course, to actually read An Iron Fey Valentine, be sure to follow this  link here: Julie Kagawa: An Iron Fey Valentine (plus contest)

Also, if you haven't already, be sure to check out our reviews of the Iron Fey series: The Iron King | The Iron Daughter | The Iron Queen | The Iron Knight  /#shamelessselfplug

Now, for those of you still here, or who managed to pull themselves away from Julie Kagawa's blog and traipse their way back to this post: Yay, you! You paid attention. I did, indeed, say TWO authors had decided to treat us with a little love this Valentine's Day. 

The second, but certainly not lesser, being none-other than Lauren Oliver, who is, of course the author of Delirium -- which, coincidentally was one of the first books I ever reviewed on this blog

Quick show of hands: How many of us wanted learn more about Lena's BFF, Hana? Well, now we can. The short story released today via MTV.com is all about Hana.
Lauren Oliver's riveting, original digital story set in the world of her New York Times bestseller

The summer before they're supposed to be cured of the ability to love, best friends Lena and Hana begin to drift apart. While Lena shies away from underground music and parties with boys, Hana jumps at her last chance to experience the forbidden. For her, the summer is full of wild music, dancing—and even her first kiss.

But on the surface, Hana must be a model of perfect behavior. She meets her approved match, Fred Hargrove, and glimpses the safe, comfortable life she’ll have with him once they marry. As the date for her cure draws ever closer, Hana desperately misses Lena, wonders how it feels to truly be in love, and is simultaneously terrified of rebelling and of falling into line

In this digital story that will appeal to fans of Delirium and welcome new admirers to its world, readers will come to understand scenes from Delirium through Hana's perspective. Hana is a touching and revealing look at a life-changing and tumultuous summer.
As another, added plus, this story, hopefully, will be enough to tide us crazed fans over until Pandemonium releases IN TWO WEEKS! (eep!)

That said, there is a bit of a catch. As of right now, Hana is available to read, for free, on MTV.com. That FREE reading is only available for a limited time, so hurry up and get your Pretty butts reading, because that FOUR-DAY clock is ticking down!

The Link: LAUREN OLIVER: News, Thoughts, and Miscellany: Happy Valentine's Day, From HANA to You!!

NOW for some PiF fun: It's taken us a few weeks to get this posted up, but FINALLY it's here. To show we are very appreciative of each of you very Pretty Readers, we're running a little giveaway from now, until the end of this month, so come and enter!




PiF 300 Follower


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Happy Book Birthday! Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

Happy Book Birthday to A.C. Gaughen! Her debut novel, Scarlet, hits shelves today. Just in time for you to fall in love with this new take on Robin Hood for Valentine's Day!

Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance. 
Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.
It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for. ~ Courtesy of Goodreads

This is definitely one of those books that I recommend everyone read. I loved it SOOO much, I'm talking a full 5 crazy hearts kind of love. There are no words. It's just the right blend of action, romance, and historical drama. Check out our review to find out just how much I loved it.

And now head over to A.C. Gaughen's Scarlet Debut Week Bonanza in order to win a variety of awesomeness, including a Kindle (that's right, a KINDLE!), T-shirts, stickers, and even a SIGNED copy of Scarlet!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Review: Stolen Away by Alyxandra Harvey

Title: Stolen Away
Author: Alyxandra Harvey
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Publish Date: Jan 17 2012
Rating:

For seventeen years, Eloise Hart had no idea the world of Faery even existed. Now she has been abducted and trapped in the Rath of Lord Strahan, King of Faery. Strahan was only meant to rule for seven years, as Faery tradition dictates, and then give up his crown to another. But he won't comply, and now chaos threatens both worlds. 
The only one who can break his stranglehold on the Faery court is his wife. . . Eloise's aunt Antonia. Using Eloise to lure Antonia, Strahan captures his wife, desperate to end the only threat to his reign. Now Eloise must become the rescuer. Together with her best friends Jo and Devin, she must forge alliances with other Fae, including a gorgeous protector named Lucas, and Strahan's mysterious son, Eldric-who may or may not betray them. Courtesy of Goodreads
I always enjoy Alyxandra Harvey's books, she is one of my favorite authors, and Stolen Away was no exception. It was a quick, fun read with quirky heroines and swoon-worthy heroes. What's not to enjoy?

I usually don't like books that involve fairies. Something about them just turns me off. In fact, most times, I hate them. But I didn't really dislike the fairies in Stolen Away. Well, most of them at least. Lucas and Isadora were totally awesome. And Eldric... Oh, Eldric. I LOVED him. So much. Like, I want there to be a sequel starring Eldric, I loved him so much. He was distant and broody but he cared about Jo and was just the sweetest! I'll give you an example.

"Eldric didn't join the fray right away. He stayed on the dais and though he didn't look at Jo and she didn't look at him, every dagger he threw knocked a weapon out of its path toward her. Arrows and knives clattered around her, as if she had an invisible force field protecting her."
Okay. Fine. You win. Two examples.
"'Is there an us?' I whispered. 
'There'll always be an us,' he said, sliding his hand down to my lower back and pulling me against him."
Do you get it now? Sweet, broody, moody perfection.

I think my favorite part was Eldric's relationship with his parents. Or specifically his mom. I was practically jumping out of my skin waiting for him to have a confrontation with his mom. But I won't say anything more for fear of spoilers.

I always enjoy Harvey's ability to switch points-of-view and keep me interested in the story. A lot of times when the POV changes in a book, I'll put it down and take a break, but not in Stolen Away. I found myself going "Ooh! Oh, yeah. THAT was happening with Eloise!" and then "Yes! I get to see what Jo is up to!" I will say I enjoyed Jo's POV a little more than Eloise's, but that probably had something to do with Jo being a witty, sarcastic, big mouth that was constantly getting herself into trouble while trying to help her friends out of trouble. I found her very entertaining. Not to mention, wherever Jo was, Eldric wasn't far behind.

There were a few things I didn't like about Stolen Away. The characters just didn't have the same rapport as her characters did in The Drake Chronicles. Not that Stolen Away didn't have great characters. I mentioned Eldric, remember? But they were a little stiff. Their relationships, especially the relationship between Eloise, Jo and Devin, as cute as it was, came across as forced.

All in all, Stolen Away was a fast paced novel that will appeal to anyone looking for a fun read. If you're in the mood for something light, this is the book for you.


*All quotes are from an unfinished ARC. Any quotations may differ from finished copy.*

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Review: Beastly: Lindy's Diary by Alex Flinn

Title: Beastly: Lindy's Diary
Author: Alex Flinn
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publish Date: Jan 31 2012
Rating:


Diary, I am locked away . . . with no one to confide in but you . . . and him. His fur, those claws—they caught me off guard at first, but now I'm noticing something else about him—something deeper. It's the look in his eye. It tells me he's got a secret to keep. That's okay—I've got one, too. I think I'm falling in love with him. . . . Lindy 
From the Beastly Deluxe Edition (Harper Teen, 2012) promotional copy

How did I not know about this book until a couple of days ago?!?! I LOVED Beastly and gobbled Lindy's Diary up within a day. It's a short story that shows Lindy's POV of Beastly, in diary format. In case you haven't read, or heard of, Beastly, it's a modern day retelling of Beauty and the Beast from the Beast's point of view.

The only reason I'm not giving Lindy's Diary a full five stars is because it was short and because it was told in diary form. Although, I'll totally admit, even though I don't usually like books written in diary format, I didn't hate it for this one. It gave you just enough content from Beastly, and just enough new content to hold a reader's attention. And while all of the major stuff was covered, I would have loved to see a few more of my favorite scenes from Beastly through Lindy's eyes.

I recommend Beastly: Lindy's Diary to anyone who read Beastly
If you have read Beastly than you already know all of the characters and hopefully loved the book. So you already know what this one's going to be about. If you haven't read Beastly, you might not necessarily NEED to read it in order to understand Lindy's Diary, but you'll definitely want to if you want to catch the full story.


Now head over to Cynthia Leitich Smith's website for a SIX BOOK GIVEAWAY that includes signed copies of Bewitching, Beastly Deluxe Edition & Cloaked by Alex Flinn! (Ends Feb. 20, 2012)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New Release - Review: Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

Title: Scarlet
Author: A.C. Gaughen
Publisher: Walker Children's
Publish Date: Feb 14 2012
Rating:

Scarlet, written by A.C. Gaughen, tells the story of eighteen year old Scarlet, a girl who is pretending to be a boy.


Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance.  
Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in. It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for. Courtesy of Goodreads
I first heard about Scarlet when I stumbled upon it on Goodreads. I have always been a fan of Robin Hood, but never found a retelling that I really connected with. But as soon as I turned the first page of Scarlet I was in love. Robin is a hero that you want to love, and Scarlet is a heroine you can truly admire. She is tough in a time when girls weren't usually thought to be tough. She fits right in with Robin's band of Merry Men. She can hold her own in a fight, sometimes better than the boys can. She is a female character that girls can look to as a role model. She might be a thief, but she always does the right thing.

Romance is a factor in Scarlet, but it's not the key factor. Even though Scarlet is part of a (sort of) love triangle, that's not what she focuses on. Honestly, she doesn't have time, what with trying to save an entire town from an evil Sheriff. She's got bigger things to worry about than boys.

Scarlet's world is so beautifully written you feel as if you really are back in the time of the Crusades. Gaughen's writing really immerses her characters in their world. She includes all of the characters from the legends (with some twists) and fitted it to be a great YA novel. If you like the story of Robin Hood, you will love this masterful retelling.

Honestly, it's one of the best books I've read in a long time, and I've read a few I've really loved recently. If you're a fan of well meaning thieves or assassins, this is the book for you. Gaughen's Scarlet absorbs you so fully in Scarlet's tale that it's almost impossible to put down.




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