Monday, December 30, 2013

Early Review ~ Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Series: standalone
Genre: YA fantasy
Pages: 352 (for hardcover)
Publication date: January 28th, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Goodreads Description: 
Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love. 
Source: I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in return for an honest review. 

Cruel Beauty was a lot of things. A good book. A slice of frustration. A really cool read. A big ball of confusion. A creative retelling. Ultimately, though, it was a book that gave me the most mixed and most conflicted feelings I've ever had over a book. There were parts that made no sense and gave me the urge to rant. There were other parts that made me think I was reading something immensely cool and interesting. It was a book that was both amazing and so incredibly disappointing at the same time. I laughed. I ranted (mentally). I was thrilled. I felt a heavy cloud of disappointment hanging over me. I felt like a black sheep most of the time, despite the fact that I a) didn't hate the book nearly as much as a black sheep would, and b) apparently, I'm not the only person with mixed views of the book.

All of my reactions to the book may not . . . make sense, but don't worry, they do not make any sense to me either. That's why this book was one of the most confusing pieces of YA fiction that I've ever read.

There were three big things that stood out to me: two things that made the book amazing and one thing that made this book disappointing.

THE WORLD

My favorite part of this entire book was the world. It confused me half the time. I'm still not exactly sure about many of why's and how's of some pieces of the world and the things that occurred in it, but it was quite new, different, and overall, creative. It was really interesting, and I really liked the Greek mythology tie-ins and the twists the author made to them. If you're looking for a world different from the usual fantasy, you should definitely check this one out.

UNPREDICTABLE

This book was so unpredictable. I actually did see one of the biggest twists of the book a mile away (or, well, the moment Nyx met Ignifex), but as for the rest? Nada. I didn't expect the things that happened to take place, especially the ending. It's definitely . . . unique, and a little confusing as well. I really liked it, though. I like surprises, and I love clever endings.

Many of readers would enjoy the fact that this book isn't so predictable. A lot of readers complain of predictability, but that is something I don't see many people having a problem with when it comes to this book.

MY BIGGEST COMPLAINT

The romance. It killed the book for me.

I consider the kissing to be the root of all my issues with this book. I didn't understand why the characters did it and how it even happened. The kisses would just come out of no where—BAM—and I would just throw my hands up and say, "why are you kissing!?" Any lead up was lost on me. The connection, the chemistry, any smidgen of passion or love . . . it didn't sense it. It felt terribly dry, so every time something romantic happened, I didn't understand it. Instead I got really confused and, in one spot, it confused me so much that I had to put down the book and read a few other books to take a break. (It's a good thing I did that, by the way, or my rating may not be this high.) My heavy disappointment of this book stemmed from the lack of connection I felt in the characters' own connections with each other. I loved Ignifex and Nyx (not Shade, though—oh, how irritated he made me), but I just didn't see the feeling or the attraction that warranted the grand romance and "I-love-you's" of this book.

OVERALL

Do I recommend it? YES. Definitely. Why? It's interesting. It's unpredictable. It's unlike many books. It has an awesome heroine. It has a super amazing world that may confuse you at times, but will intrigue you at the same time. Cruel Beauty is worthy of at least an attempt at reading. Despite the fact that I hated the romance, and despite the fact that I was quite disappointed in the book, I still see it as a book many, many readers will enjoy. Don't let my personal issues with the romance deter you from giving this book a shot. You may love it! You just need to experience the book for yourself to figure out if it works for you or not.
My questions for you:

Have you ever read a Beauty and the Beast retelling?
What do you think of the cover of Cruel Beauty?
Have you ever read a book that confused you to the point where you didn't know if you loved or hated it?

Review ~ Ruined by Jus Accardo

Series: The Eternal Balance #1
Genre: NA paranormal
Pages: 325
Publication date: December 30th, 2013
Publisher: Entangled Embrace
Goodreads Description: 
Hell is looking for a way to break loose…

Jax lost the genetic lottery. Descended from Cain, the world's first murderer, he's plagued by a curse that demands violence in exchange for his happiness. He left everything behind, including the girl he loved, but thriving on the pain of others is lonely… And it's killing him.

After a series of heartbreaking losses, Samantha put rubber to pavement and headed for college as fast as her clunker could carry her. But she can't outrun her problems. When an attack at school drives her back home, she's thrown into the path of a past—and a guy—she's been trying to forget.

Sam strains Jax's control over his darkness, but running isn't an option this time. Someone—or, something—followed her home from school: a ruthless monster with a twisted plan centuries in the making. Forced together to survive, and fighting an attraction that could destroy them both, Jax and Sam must stop a killer bent on revenge.
Source: I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Ruined is a stay-up-all-night read filled with romance, banter, violence, and angry, hot demons. It was pretty good! I admit I was nervous about reading it because I'm wary of the turn most New Adult books seem to be taking lately, but reading this does remind me why I like reading good NA.

ROMANCE

It's a little like a hate-then-love romance, but the "hate" part wasn't so much hate, but more anger. Jax and Sam already had an established connection, so they already had feelings (and were aware of them) when the book began. However, Jax felt like he was too dangerous to Samlike he would end up hurting her badlyand fought those feelings and tried to push them away in order as protection. So, the romance had the banter and the struggle-with-feelings like many hate-to-love romances seem to have, and I loved it! The two had a lot of chemistry, and the struggle with their feelings for each other and other other roadblocks to their relationship kept things pretty interesting.

BACKGROUND

Ruined is demon book. It's one out of many I've read and enjoyed, but what was cool about this book in particular was the Cain and Abel background. Jax was cursed, which meant that there was a demon taking residence in his body his entire life. He grew up with a thirst for violence because the demon was part of him and was under a constant struggle to keep his impulses under control so he wouldn't hurt the ones he loved. I really liked the concept behind the curse and the demons of this book, though I would've liked to see more background to itmore explanation and details in the origination of the curse. Maybe that'll happen in the sequel. The whole Cain and Abel tie-in was really cool, and not something I had ever seen before, and it would be nice to see more of it.

OVERALL

Ruined was a pretty good read. It's probably the only NA demon book I've ever read, which is refreshing. It was nice to read a good, interesting paranormal NA. The romance was a really good oneI liked the couple from the very beginningand so were the concepts. I do recommend it if you don't mind darker books (with a lot of violence and cuss wordslots of them). I liked this quite a bit and I'm looking forward to the sequel!

My questions for you:

Do you like to read NA?
Have you read any good paranormal NA?
Do you like to read books with demons in it?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Early Review ~ The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

Series: standalone (?)
Genre: YA contemporary
Pages: 384 (for hardcover)
Publication date: December 31st, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Goodreads Description: 
Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who's always done what she's supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.

Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how. 

One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love. 
Source: I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in return for an honest review. 

I say this a lot, but I love reading YA contemporary romance! I consider it my favorite genre because so many of my favorites are contemporaries and many of them can pull me into the story and the romance from cover to cover. The Promise of Amazing, like a lot of other books in this genre, was sweet. However, it didn't hold an "amazing" quality to it. It didn't hold a memorable quality to it, which is one of the biggest reasons why I didn't love it.

THE POSITIVES, FIRST

I liked Wren. If I can say I'm proud of a character by the time a book ends, that character is usually a good one. I love to see growth—I don't care how flawed she (or he) is at the beginning of the book. As long as a lesson is learned and a noticeable, positive improvement is made, I'm good. Wren did that. At the end, it was clear that she had grown.

I also liked the ending. It was just . . . really sweet. It suited the story, which was also good. I liked reading about Wren and Grayson and the troubles they faced, though I wasn't a fan of Grayson for a long time. It took me awhile for me to warm up to him because he didn't make a great first impression, but by the end of the book, he wasn't so bad.

A CASE OF "INSTA-LOVE"

Uh-oh. I know—"insta-love" is a big turn-off for many readers, and unfortunately, it was there in this book. It's not usually a big deal for me, as long as it's done well, but Wren and Grayson's connection was just not developed enough at the point where they started being really attracted to each other. I did like them as a couple eventually, but I never did love them because they entered the "I-love-you" stage too quickly for it to feel completely convincing.

OVERALL

The Promise of Amazing wasn't quite amazing. While I did like reading the story, the book didn't stand out. It didn't wow me, but it didn't terribly disappoint me. It was a nice contemporary read and I am glad I got to read it, but it just didn't feel like a memorable read—rather a forgettable one.
My questions for you:

What makes a book forgettable for you?
What makes a romance an "insta-love" for you?
Do you find it a little tougher to write three star reviews than other?

Stacking the Shelves (11) ~ Christmas Haul

This is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we share what books we have recently added to our physical or virtual shelves.

My last Stacking the Shelves was from December 7th (it's been awhile!), so here are all the books I've added to my bookshelves since then. (Each cover is linked to the books' Goodreads pages.)

Free on Amazon

I almost signed up for the book tour or book blitz on this one, but I passed.

Bought for Kindle

Oh, they look so good! The Bone Season and Scorched were deals, and I couldn't resist them. Fracture Me just popped up on my kindle when it was released (it was a pre-order), and I liked Backward Compatible's book description too much to not get it.

Won (Digital)


I won this during a #readingcram reading sprint. Thank you, @juliababyjen! And thank you to David Estes for donating the book!

For Review (Digital)


I've already read Salt! My review will be up sometime this week. 

Witch Fall is for a tour. I liked the first book, so I think I'll like the prequel. First Kiss has music in it, and since I have a weakness for books with music in it, I couldn't say no to reviewing it. And We Stay reminds me a lot of another I liked, so I'm really curious about it. The bottom three are new adults that I'm really interested in getting to soon, but at the same time I'm nervous about them because I'm not a big fan of recent NAs.

Special thanks to Entangled Teen, Rachel from Mark My Words Book Publicity, Ann Marie Frohoff, Giselle from Xpresso Book Tours, and Random House Children's!

For Review (Print)

It's my very first print ARC from a publisher!! Thank you, Scholastic!

New Print Books

I bought The Sky is Everywhere (I read it on Christmas - amazing book!), The Pledge (I read this book two years ago and now I finally have a copy!), Live Through This (it was a good price), and The Disenchantments (it has been at the top of my wishlist for at least a year).

I sent my mom out with my money to buy These Broken Stars for me while she did her Christmas shopping. It'll be my next non-review copy I read.

The rest of the books are from Christmas! Shades of Earth, Loud Awake and Lost, Goodbye, Rebel Blue, Strands of Bronze and Gold, and Out of Easy. My mom bought them all off of a wishlist I gave her. (Four out of five of them have green on the covers/spines, by the way. I found this funny because my mom's favorite color is green.)

That was my haul of books from the last three weeks! What books have you recently added to your bookshelf?

Friday, December 27, 2013

Top 10 of 2013: 2014 Releases I'm Looking Forward to!


This event is hosted by Two Chicks on BooksMagical Urban Fantasy, and Fiktshun. Thank you for hosting. :)

Today's topic:
Top 10 Books I'm looking forward to in 2014. (This list should be comprised of books released ONLY in 2014)

I've decided to leave off all books that I have ARCs of at the moment. It just makes this list so much easier to put together!

In order of release date, here are the top ten books I'm looking forward to in 2014 . . . 

February 4th - Cress by Marissa Meyer
I can't help but be excited for this book. The series is pretty good and, well, look at the cover! I have the rest of the series in ebook, but I may have to buy this one simply to have that cover.

Febuary 4th - Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi
I'm so excited for this one! I started this series this year, and it quickly became one of my favorites.

March 18th - Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover
I declared Hopeless as my top favorite book of 2013, I gave five stars to Finding Cinderella (I absolutely adored that novella!), and I've had my eye on the Slammed series for over a year . . . so, yeah, how could I not put Colleen Hoover's upcoming book on this list?

March 18th - Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
I have a feeling that this one might turn out to be a new favorite of mine. There's just something about it that pulls me in. I love contemporaries, and I find books involving bucket lists (or other lists) really interesting.

April 1st - Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
The moment I discovered this book, I decided I needed this book. I just need to read it.

April 10th - Pointe by Brandy Colbert
Something about the cover and the description just intrigues me . . .

April 29th - Sweet Reckoning by Wendy Higgins


May 6th - The Falconer by Elizabeth May
I came across this book over the summer while looking for covers to feature on a Goodreads challenge I was putting together, and every since then, I've been really curious about it. It looks so good!


June 3rd - Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo 
This is one of my new favorite series, and I can't wait until I get to read the next book!

July 29th - Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead
My favorite series . . . Of course this book is in my top ten! July feels like a long time away, but I have other books to keep me company until I get to see Adrian and Sydney again. :)

Those are the books I'm looking forward to! How about you?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Blogger Spotlight ~ Erica from Friction to Fiction


If you want to be interviewed for a Blogger Spotlight, please go here. I'll send you a series of questions as soon as I can.

Because I didn't get to posting an interview last week, I decided to feature two interviews today! Check out the earlier blogger spotlight with Heather from The Turning Pages.
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Today, I am featuring Erica from Friction to Fiction! 

About the Blogger

Erica is 15 years old, and she plays the viola and the piano. She loves to read, and she has millions of book boyfriends. ;)

Find her at her blog and on her Twitter, @ReadToLove.


(I added a few responses to her answers in purple.)

Hi Erica!

Hey Kaitlin!

First, describe your blog in three words.

Fun, Honestly opinionated, and gushing-about-books-a-lot.
[that was so not three words, haha!]

What makes your blog worth reading?

As much as I don’t like English class, reading is my passion. After I finish a book, there’s a jumble of thoughts going through my head and I have to get them down somewhere—and that somewhere is my blog. I like to promote and gush about books that aren’t extremely popular, but I will write reviews of big pub books too! I also have tours, interviews, and reviews scheduled in the upcoming weeks!

Awesome. :)

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading Two Roads by L.M. Augustine! AHHH, I’m loving it so much! It’s so entertaining and heartbreaking at the same time.

I've heard that one is good!

Do you ever listen to audiobooks? Why or why not?

I’ve tried listening to audiobooks, but I just can’t do it! I think I get too distracted and I end up missing phrases or parts of the book. Plus, I love holding something physically in my hands while I read, so I’d choose regular books/ereader any day over audiobooks.

Me too. Audiobooks are just not as good as reading it yourself.

Who are three of your top three book boyfriends?

Oh gosh, this is going to be hard. I guess I would go with Caleb from the Significance series by Shelly Crane, Daemon from the Lux series by Jennifer Armentrout, and Dante from the Dante Walker series by Victoria Scott!

Good choices! (Dante is in my top three. :) )

What qualities of a book boyfriend do you look for?

Ohhhh! They need to be charming and seriously hot ;) They can joke around, but they have to have a serious side to them.

Do you have any book/reading quirks?

My books are sacred to me. If anything at all happens to them, I get really mad and freak out a bit. I also can’t read sitting up in my bed, it’s not comfortable enough or something, but I can sit in a chair and read (yes, I’m totally weird).
Besides reading and blogging, what do you like to do for fun?

I’ve been playing viola since 3rd grade (so about 7 years) and piano since I was 7 (so about 9 years). I’m also trying to self-teach myself to play guitar. Occasionally I’ll try to sing or try to draw. Recently, I got into writing because of NaNoWriMo! Despite the fact that I didn’t win, I’m still trying to continue my story.

Now, time to gush about a book you love.
Pick one of your favorite books/series and answer the following questions about it.


What book is it and who is it by? 

The Covenant Series by Jennifer Armentrout.

Oh, good choice . . .

Why do you love it? 

I love it because all the characters in it are so witty and the plot of the entire series is so interesting with the world Jennifer created.

Why did you pick the book up and read it in the first place? 

I first read Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout because of the YA Crush Tourney (if you’re unfamiliar with it, go ya-sisterhood.blogspot.com) and saw Daemon as one of the crushes. From there, I joined twitter, and found out more about Jennifer Armentrout and then saw that she was in the middle of another series, the Covenant series. After reading many reviews the story really caught my attention, of course, with the mention of a dreamy (but distant) Aiden. So I picked it up and I’ve read up to the second to last book (but they’re all out now!!!).

Who is your favorite character from it and why? 

I would say this is easy because Aiden is totally up there as one of my top book boyfriends, but it’s split between him and Alex (the main character). Alex is hilarious with her sarcastic comments and care-free attitude, but you can tell she’s broken and I can’t help but understand and connect with her. Aiden, I can go on forever about him, but I’ll just say don’t hate him until you read some of his POVs that Jennifer wrote.

Rate the cover on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 = horrible, 10 = absolutely amazing) 

I’d give these covers a 9. I love the varying colors in the series and the flower that means more than you’d think. They’re so beautiful, with the fire, and the water, and the smoke.

I love them too. They are gorgeous covers.














Thanks for letting me interview you. :)

Thank you for having me on your blog! It was great sharing my love for books with you and your readers.
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