Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sarah Dessen Read/Reread Challenge

So, you guys might know by now that I am a HUGE fan of Sarah Dessen. She is my favorite author ever, and her books are what made me discover my love of writing. I have read all of her books several times, and they are really what made me love YA.
My sister and I went to one of her signings two years ago and it was literally the best day of my entire life.

Anyway, so yes, Sarah Dessen is pretty awesome. You know who else is awesome? The girls over at I Eat Words. It's one of my favorite blogs. So when I heard they were starting a Sarah Dessen Read/Reread Challenge, I was obviously very excited.

They've decided that everyone participating is going to read one Sarah Dessen book a month, and at the end, we'll all chat about it. The book for February is Just Listen.

If you've never read a Sarah Dessen book before, this might be a great chance for you to finally do that. You can participate in whatever months you want to, and read the books along with everyone else.

I'm excited to read all my favorite Sarah Dessen books again, and I hope to see many people falling in love with her books for the first time. I'm not sure if I'll be rereading a book EVERY month because life and too little time and all that, but I'll try to read as many as I can and chat with everyone else at the end. :)

You can find out more information about the challenge here.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (16)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine.
Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood (The Cahill Witch Chronicles #2)
From Goodreads:
With the Brotherhood persecuting witches like never before, a divided Sisterhood desperately needs Cate to come into her Prophesied powers. And after Cate's friend Sachi is arrested for using magic, a war-thirsty Sister offers to help her find answers—if Cate is willing to endanger everyone she loves.

Cate doesn't want to be a weapon, and she doesn't want to involve her friends and Finn in the Sisterhood's schemes. But when Maura and Tess join the Sisterhood, Maura makes it clear that she'll do whatever it takes to lead the witches to victory. Even if it means sacrifices. Even if it means overthrowing Cate. Even if it means all-out war.

In the highly anticipated sequel to Born Wicked, the Cahill Witch Chronicles continue Cate, Maura and Tess's quest to find love, protect family, and explore their magic against all odds in an alternate history of New England.

First of all, I hate that they changed the covers for this series. Not that I was a huge fan of the original one, but I like it better than the new one. Also, when I buy Star Cursed it's not going to match my copy of Born Wicked. :(

But oh well. The cover doesn't really matter. What does matter is HOW EXCITED I AM FOR THIS BOOK. The first book was something I wasn't sure I was really going to like, but I ended up LOVING it. One of my favorite books of 2012. So I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of Star Cursed and find out what happens next.

What are you waiting on this week? Leave links to your WoW posts below so I can check them out. :)


Monday, January 28, 2013

Rachel Rambles About Harken

Harken by Kaleb Nation
From Goodreads:
After surviving an assassination attempt, teenager Michael Asher discovers that he is at the center of a worldwide conspiracy reaching higher than any earthly power. A supernatural organization desperately wants him dead. He doesn't know why. Everyone who might have the answers has already been killed.

Tumbling into a web of international secrets, Michael is forced to fight back and dig up the truth. He begins to question how much of the world is truly as people are led to believe it is. Are there things that humanity is not being told? Who is the puppet master? And how far into the maze can he venture before he is lost forever?

There was an insane amount of hype surrounding this book, which made me incredibly nervous. I mean, not nervous enough that I didn't buy it at midnight along with the rest of Kaleb's army of devoted fans, but still a little bit unsure about whether or not I would like it.

Luckily, I discovered early on that yes, the hype was totally justified. Harken is filled with awesome. The plot is intense and action-packed, and it had me constantly flipping the pages (er, pressing the button on my kindle) to find out what would happen next. The conspiracy elements and the supernatural elements combined a lot better than I expected them to, and the whole story was so complex. I was so impressed by how perfectly all the different pieces of the story fit together.

The main character, Michael, is someone that you can't help but root for. He makes a lot of mistakes, and there were several times that I just wanted to shake him and make him stop doing stupid things, but that just made him feel more realistic. No matter what he did, I just wanted him to win. I wanted him to outsmart the bad guys, and I was cheering him along the whole time I was reading. Thad and Callista are awesome companions, and the trio deserves a place right up there with other famous book trios like Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

Harken reminded me a bit of all the things I love about the Maximum Ride series--kids with supernatural abilities on the run from the bad guys--which was a pleasant surprise. The stakes were high throughout the entire book, and Michael was constantly on the move. There were no dull moments to sit and ponder about why all this weird stuff was happening to him. He just had to keep going, keep running from the people who were chasing him.

This book makes me really paranoid that maybe the world is secretly being run by people more powerful than we can ever imagine. This supernatural conspiracy was written in such a way that it is not hard to believe at all, which is both awesome and terrifying.

I predict that Harken is going to be A Huge Freaking Deal in the next few weeks/months/years. I'm talking a fandom with a movie adaptation and everything. I'm so excited to see how far this little book will go, and I especially cannot wait to read the sequel!


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Megan Rambles About In Honor

In Honor by Jessi Kirby
From GoodreadsHonor receives her brother’s last letter from Iraq three days after learning that he died, and opens it the day his fellow Marines lay the flag over his casket. Its contents are a complete shock: concert tickets to see Kyra Kelly, her favorite pop star and Finn’s celebrity crush. In his letter, he jokingly charged Honor with the task of telling Kyra Kelly that he was in love with her. 

Grief-stricken and determined to grant Finn’s last request, she rushes to leave immediately. But she only gets as far as the driveway before running into Rusty, Finn’s best friend since third grade and his polar opposite. She hasn’t seen him in ages, thanks to a falling out between the two guys, but Rusty is much the same as Honor remembers him: arrogant, stubborn . . . and ruggedly good-looking. Neither one is what the other would ever look for in a road trip partner, but the two of them set off together, on a voyage that makes sense only because it doesn’t. Along the way, they find small and sometimes surprising ways to ease their shared loss and honor Finn--but when shocking truths are revealed at the end of the road, will either of them be able to cope with the consequences?

So In Honor is one of those books that I had heard really amazing things about and Rachel had been begging me to read it for ages, but I just didn't get around to it. Then I finally did, and I loved it, but I'm a complete fail of a blogger so I haven't written the review until now. 

Anyway, on to the awesome road trip that is this book! It isn't exactly a secret that I love road trip books. The long drives and more than one instance when things go wrong make for a really interesting read. This road trip wasn't any different. If anything, more goes wrong than in other books I've read. Honor's trip wasn't planned, or thought out. When she sees the last letter her brother sent her, she packs quickly and jumps in the car, bringing Rusty along as a last minute decision.

I'm definitely glad she decided to bring Rusty, because I absolutely LOVED him. In the beginning, he is kind of  a jerk and Honor hates him because of a fight he had with her brother years before. But he was her brother's best friend, and he's hurting just as much as she his. Plus, he helped Finn build the car that they are both driving in, and Honor knows absolutely nothing about cars. So along the way, they start to have the realization that they can help each other. I loved watching the relationship between the two of them change. And maybe, maybe there is some kissing that happens. Maybe.

This book wasn't all light and fluffy. Honor and Rusty were both struggling with the difficult death of her brother and the story focused on that instead of being really romancy or anything. I also liked the way Jessi Kirby chose to end the book. There was just the right amount of happiness mixed in with a bit of frustration. It's the kind of ending that doesn't give you all of the answers, but gives you enough to have hope for the characters. 

So if you like road trip books and you liked Moonglass, then I suggest you pick up In Honor. They're both really good reads, and I am officially committed to reading anything Jessi Kirby writes. 


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Rachel Rambles About Opal

Opal by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Lux #3)
From Goodreads:
No one is like Daemon Black.

When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn’t fooling around. Doubting him isn’t something I’ll do again, and now that we’ve made it through the rough patches, well... There’s a lot of spontaneous combustion going on.

But even he can’t protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.

After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different... And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable of. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.

Together we’re stronger... and they know it.

Maybe I finished this book like a month and a half ago but maybe I couldn't find a way to put my feelings into words. I don't know. Maybe that's what happened.

I'm just going to keep this short and sweet: Opal exceeded my expectations. It was a thousand times better than I thought it would be. I'm so emotionally invested in this entire series, and each book just gets better and better. Opal made me feel so many intense emotions, and I was incredibly impressed by how good it was.

The plot is complex and action-packed, the romance is sexy but realistic, and this book somehow manages to be serious and filled with humor at the same time.

Overall, this book is fast-paced and fun. The entire series is made up of books that are so freaking enjoyable to read. I devoured each one of the books in less than two days. There are no dull moments in Opal, just like there are no dull moments in the other books. 

So yeah. This whole series is awesome. It's no surprise that I absolutely loved Opal.

Also...can we talk about THAT ENDING?! BECAUSE I CAN'T EVEN. I JUST...



Monday, January 21, 2013

Rachel Rambles About Feedback

Feedback by Robison Wells (Variant #2)
From Goodreads:
Benson Fisher escaped from Maxfield Academy’s deadly rules and brutal gangs.

Or so he thought.

But now Benson is trapped in a different kind of prison: a town filled with hauntingly familiar faces. People from Maxfield he saw die. Friends he was afraid he had killed.

They are all pawns in the school’s twisted experiment, held captive and controlled by an unseen force. As he searches for answers, Benson discovers that Maxfield Academy’s plans are more sinister than anything he imagined—and they may be impossible to stop.

If you haven't read Variant, beware of spoilers! (Also go read Variant immediately because it's awesome!)

I have some mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it was twisted and disturbing, and my reaction when I finished was basically: "HOLY CRAP WOAH WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!" But on the other hand, I was expecting more from this book. I wanted to love it just as much as I loved Variant, or possibly more, but I have to admit, I was a little disappointed with this book.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Feedback. It's just that after something completely awesome and crazy that blew my mind, like Variant, Feedback didn't really live up to that.

I think the biggest reason that I had problems with Feedback was the lack of the boarding school atmosphere. The boarding school was so essential to the plot of Variant, and when you take it away, the story definitely loses a lot of what made me love it in the first place. 
That said, I thought the plot of Feedback was still intriguing and twisted and suspenseful. After being trapped in the boarding school for the entirety of the first book, and finally escaping at the very end, Benson ends up trapped again for the duration of Feedback, although this time he's trapped in a very different kind of place. As a reader, I felt just as trapped and hopeless as Benson did, which I thought was terrifying but also amazing. 

Ahhhh, my feelings are so mixed!

If you enjoyed Variant, I do think Feedback is worth reading. At the very least, you'll get to know how it all ends. Just be prepared for it to not be as mind-blowing-ly awesome as the first book.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Rachel Rambles About Unspoken

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
From Goodreads:
Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

This book was hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time, and I was surprised by how much I freaking adored it.

The idea of someone growing up with an imaginary friend who then turns out to be a real person is brilliant. What a fantastic and intriguing idea. And it makes sense. At first, I was kind of like "WTF? She has an imaginary friend who talks to her in her head and now he's real? How the heck is this going to work?" But there is a totally believable explanation, and when it is introduced in the story, everything just falls into place and things start to make a lot more sense.

Sure, the idea of the imaginary friend is pretty freaking brilliant, but that's not the best thing about this novel. My favorite thing about Unspoken is the characters. Kami is a sarcastic, quirky, confident girl who is just the kind of protagonist I love to read about. She runs the newspaper at school, and it is her never-ending quest for the best news stories that leads her to some...interesting information about the strange happenings in her town. Her combination of smart and daring allows her to be an excellent detective, and she somehow manages to convince all of her friends to join her as she attempts to solve mysteries.

Angela, Kami's best friend, is absolutely hysterical. Her favorite thing to do is nap, she has zero tolerance for boys, and she offers a ton of comic relief throughout the book. But she's no sidekick. What impressed me most about this book was the way that Sarah Rees Brennan managed to take about five main characters and fully develop each one of them. 

Which brings me to Holly, who is someone that Kami is still getting to know during the book. The Holly from the beginning of the book is a completely different person from the Holly at the end of the book, because Kami's perspective of her changes so much as they become friends. I thought it was really interesting to see a friendship develop throughout the novel, as opposed to a friendship that has already been established long before the book takes place.

Kami, Angela, and Holly's friendship is a huge part of the book, which I thought was refreshing. Even though there were several boys (don't worry, I'll get to them in a minute), the girls' relationship with each other didn't fade into the background. I absolutely loved reading about a group of girls who value their friendship, even when there are a ton of cute boys running around causing trouble.

Ahh, the boys. Jared, Ash, and Rusty. Honestly, I think you should just read the book to form your own opinion of each of them. So I'll just keep it short and sweet: Jared...I can't help but love him. Seriously. All my feels. Ash...He's okay, I guess. I dunno, for me he was just kind of there. I wasn't super emotionally invested in him. But I didn't have any problems with him either. And Rusty...Rusty is my favorite. :) 

I've mentioned that this book is funny. All of the characters are constantly flinging hilarious banter at each other, even in the most tense situations. I seriously laughed out loud on practically every page of this novel. But a lot of those pages also made me gasp and groan and make a bunch of other strange noises that only seem to come out of me when I'm reading. By the time I finished reading this book, I felt like the ground had fallen out from beneath me and my heart had been ripped out of my chest. I got so completely emotionally invested in all these characters, but then Sarah Rees Brennan had to be all evil and totally torture her readers. I mean, that ending?! HOW. WHY. I JUST CAN'T. MY FEEEEEELINGS.

Basically my experience reading this book.
So, in conclusion: this book is hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time. If you're looking for a romance, I wouldn't pick this book up. I felt like it didn't focus at all on a romance, which I was actually really happy about. This book was more about the entire cast of characters and their various shenanigans, as opposed to KAMI AND [INSERT WHICHEVER BOY IS YOUR FAVORITE HERE] ARE IN LOVE AND LOVE CONQUERS ALL FOREVER.

Wow, this ramble was a lot longer than usual. THAT IS A SIGN THAT I LOVED THIS BOOK. I could talk about this forever and ever and ever, but I am going to shut up now so that you can go get your hands on a copy of this book. It's definitely the kind of book that makes you feel ALL THE FEELS.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Megan Rambles About Struck By Lightning

Struck By Lightning by Chris Colfer
From GoodreadsStruck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal follows the story of outcast high school senior Carson Phillips, who blackmails the most popular students in his school into contributing to his literary journal to bolster his college application; his goal in life is to get into Northwestern and eventually become the editor of The New Yorker. At once laugh-out-loud funny, deliciously dark, and remarkably smart, Struck By Lightning unearths the dirt that lies just below the surface of high school. At a time when bullying torments so many young people today, this unique and important novel sheds light with humor and wit on an issue that deeply resonates with countless teens and readers.

I decided that I needed to read this book recently after I was scrolling through IMDB and stumbled upon the trailer for Struck By Lightning the movie, written by and starring Chris Colfer. It looked amazing and had and awesome cast so I was super excited to see it. Then I realized that it was a book too and got even more excited. 

When I got this book for Christmas, I wasn't really sure what to expect. I love Chris Colfer, and his character Kurt is one of the two reasons I watch Glee. Still, I had no clue whether or not he could actually write a book. I had no idea what to expect when I started Struck By Lightning, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this book. 

Carson Phillips is a small town high school senior with big dreams with a cynical and sarcastic hatred of basically everything around him. All he wants is to get into Northwestern and get out of his town. Growing up in a small town myself, I could really relate to how closed in Carson felt. Small towns aren't exactly easy to live in, especially in high school. That's usually where your typical stereotypes abound and there are also always THOSE KIDS that are totally outcasts. It happens in every high school, but at least in my experience, it's worse in small towns where everyone knows everyone else's business. Carson might be one of those outcast kids, but his unique way of dealing with everything had me cracking up on every page. I mean, I could definitely use someone who says things like, "When I stop to think about it, there aren't many differences between a public high school and a state penitentiary. It's paid for by taxpayers. No one wants to be there. It's overpopulated. You make alliances in the yard. Shanking is frowned upon," when talking about their school in my life so we could be best friends.

Besides Carson, I really liked Malerie (that's Rebel Wilson's character in the movie). She was constantly bringing in writing submissions that were obviously not hers and ripping off famous authors, much to Carson's annoyance. She also carries around a video camera and films everything that she sees. Malerie was innocent and balanced out Carson well. She brought out the nicer, more gentle side of him and kept Carson from seeming like an insensitive jerk. 

I read this book in one sitting, and flew through it. Carson's story was something that any high school student or anyone who has survived high school can relate to. This book had me laughing out loud. If there is one thing Chris Colfer understands, it's teen angst and how to write a book with some serious issues and still make it enjoyable. If you just need a quick read with a bit of teen angst and a LOT of hilarious jokes, then I recommend Struck By Lightning. Plus, the movie is out on Itunes and Amazon already, and will be in theaters on January 11th . Judging by the trailer, it's going to be awesome and I can't wait! 


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Top Books of 2012 (Part 2)

Here's the second part of our vlog! We talk about more of our favorite books of 2012.

(Also, sorry this video is so long. Can you believe that the orginial version was something like 26 minutes? Yeah, we like to ramble a lot. :P)

Happy New Year, everyone! There are a ton of 2013 book releases we're crazy excited for, not to mention THE CITY OF BONES MOVIE! *dances* Oh, and Catching Fire, too. :)

What are some of the book-related things you're excited for this year? Let us know below!

Megan Rambles About Vacations From Hell

Vacations From Hell by Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Claudia Gray, Maureen Johnson, and Sarah Mlynowski
From GoodreadsLife's a beach . . . and then you're undead?

In this must-have collection, five of today's hottest writers—Libba Bray (A Great and Terrible Beauty), Cassandra Clare (City of Bones), Claudia Gray (Evernight), Maureen Johnson (13 Little Blue Envelopes), and Sarah Mlynowski (Bras & Broomsticks)—tell supernatural tales of vacations gone awry. Lost luggage is only mildly unpleasant compared to bunking with a witch who holds a grudge. And a sunburn might be embarrassing and painful, but it doesn't last as long as a curse. Of course, even in the most hellish of situations, love can thrive. . . .

From light and funny to dark and creepy, these stories have something for everyone. You definitely won't want to leave this collection at home! 

Recently I bought a ton of books for super cheap because Amazon was having some big holiday sale and had a bunch of YA books for under $5. I was just casually scrolling through and when I saw the list of authors in this collection I absolutely couldn't resist. I mean Cassandra Clare, Claudia Gray, and Maureen Johnson are some of my favorite authors, I loved Ten Things We Did by Sarah Mlynowski, and I've heard how amazing all of Libba Bray's books are (I have like 2 of them sitting on my shelf but haven't gotten to them yet. Yeah I know. I'm terrible) Plus a collection all about hellish vacations? I was really excited to read this one!

I wasn't disappointed either. Each of the stories had a different tone and was different and unique. There were also a lot of twists and I usually couldn't guess the ending until the very last second, which is a great to have in a short story.

The first story was "Cruisin'" by Sarah Mylinowski. This story was about three girls hanging out on a cruise ship when there have been rumors of vampires killing people on cruises. It starts out like you would expect a story about three teenage girls on a cruise ships with a bunch of hot guys to start, but there was a twist that I loved. The ending was unexpected and this story was a great way to start  off the collection.

Next up was "I Don't Like Your Girlfriend" by Claudia Gray which was a story about witches. I liked this one and was excited to see Claudia writing a story about witches since Spellcaster is coming out soon (The two are probably completely unrelated, but I was excited anyway).  Cecily was an interesting main character to read about and I thought you got to know a lot about her considering it was a short story. I liked the fact that Cecily wasn't afraid to handle situations herself without help from the more powerful, older witches around her, and that she also wasn't afraid to question the traditions of her fellow witches. This story was lighter than the others and I thought the ending was perfect for the tone of the story.

Probably the creepiest story came from Maureen Johnson (if you've read The Name of the Star, you probably don't find this surprising at all). It was called "The Law of Suspects" and focused on two sisters who are visiting family in the French countryside. Charlie and her sister Marylou had an amusing relationship, with Marylou trying to diagnose Charlie with all kinds of psychological problems to practice for her major in, you guessed it, psychology. I don't want to say too much about the plot of this one because I don't want to give it away,  but it involves a VERY CREEPY story. Also there is a cute French guy who shows up. So there's that. Even if the ending confused me,  I think this and Cassandra Clare's story are tied for my favorite.

Speaking of Cassie's story, let's talk about "The Mirror House". It's no secret that Cassandra Clare is one of my favorite authors and I think this is the first non-Shadowhunter thing of hers I have read. The main character Violet has a small problem on her hands when the story starts. It isn't easy when you have a crush on the guy who is about to become your step-brother. Evan is a polite, normal teenage guy, but I liked him  more than I thought I would. He was sweet and I liked the way he interacted with Violet. This story centers around what happens when Evan starts spending time with the pretty woman who lives in the house just down the beach. And there's a bit of paranormal stuff involved. The ending was a bit predictable, but I liked it all the same.

Last but certainly not least, Libba Bray's "Nowhere is Safe".  I really liked the way this story was written. It starts out as if the main character, Po, is talking directly to the reader. Like he's holding a camera and talking into it Blair Witch Project style or something like that. So you read the entire story like Po is literally telling it to you. The other characters in this story are Po's friends Baz, John, and Isabel who were all funny and witty. They provided a bit of humor to a story that was actually pretty dark and creepy. There were so many twists and turns to this one. As soon as I would guess that it was going to end one way, something else would happen and the story would go off in another direction. I really loved the unpredictability of it. The ending was also satisfying but pretty open like there could be more to this story. I would love to see Libba Bray continue it somehow if she hasn't already. 

To sum up this entire long explanation, each one of the authors in this collection brought a completely different story and a completely different experience. I loved getting to see so many different ways that vacations could go horribly wrong. Luckily I haven't ever experienced any of these things, but I'll be sure to beware of cruise ships, cabins in the French countryside, and creepy ancient towns in Europe from now on. If you're looking for a creepy collection by five amazing authors, then I definitely recommend picking this one up. I mean come on, it's Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Claudia Gray, Maureen Johnson, and Sarah Mlynowski all in one book!