Friday, June 29, 2012

A New Twist to My Reviews

So, I've been thinking a lot lately. I've been wanting to change up my review style or add something to my reviews for a long time. Something to change it up around here and differentiate my blog from others. I've been thinking about what I can do differently for a long time now. 

And then it hit me, right smack in the face like this:

No, but really. I came up with something. 

What do I love doing besides reading? Drawing!...and painting...and the works. 

So, now for every review that I write I am going to (try) to do an art piece that goes along with the book. This will mostly be drawings, most likely from my sketch book. 

These drawings or paintings may be of a specific object or scene from the book, or it may be more symbolic, either from my perspective or from the book's. I'm going to go ahead and say that you won't see a lot of people in these. I'm really bad at drawing human figures. But you may see some faces and portraits somewhere in there. 

Now, I can't promise they will be good. A big part of why I'm doing this is to knock out two birds with one stone. This way I can practice and get in my sketch book pages for next year's AP Art class (I have to do a lot!) and I can add something extra to my reviews. It's really a win-win for me. Hopefully over time I will get better and pick up some more skills. 

And, of course, I hope you guys enjoy them. 

P.S. It may be a little while before you start to see these. I've already got quite a few reviews done and scheduled and I'm not going to go back and do a drawing for them. But, I do have one for Once by Anna Carey, which is due to be up the beginning of next week. 

Let me know what you think of this idea!

And have a wonderful evening!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Review: Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti

Keep Holding OnKeep Holding On
Susane Colasanti
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Release Date: May 31, 2012

A romantic and empowering book about bullying
Noelle's life is all about survival. Even her best friend doesn't know how much she gets bullied, or the ways her mom neglects her. Noelle's kept so much about her life a secret for so long that when her longtime crush Julian Porter starts paying attention to her, she's terrified. Surely it's safer to stay hidden than to risk the pain of a broken heart. But when the antagonism of her classmates takes a dramatic turn, Noelle realizes it's time to stand up for herself--and for the love that keeps her holding on.

I'm not going to lie, and I'm probably the only one who feels this way, but it's kind of hit or miss for me with Colasanti's books. There are a few that I really liked and some... not so much. I was really hoping to like this book. And I did... kind of. Some parts I really liked and some... again, not some much. 

Despite the cover, Keep Holding On is not a light and fun read. Keep Holding On tackles a topic that I don't feel is dealt with enough in YA (especially considering it's a big conflict for the age group). This I do appreciate about the book. I have to say, parts of this book was just heartbreaking to read about. Especially since Noelle's life wasn't good at home or school. However, even though it was hard to read at times it never went over the top. This is one of the most real books I think Susane Colasanti has written. 

And Noelle. Like I said, she deals with a lot. I think most of us will be able to relate to her at one point or the other. Even though in the beginning I would wish that Noelle would do something, if not for herself, than for others, I understood why she didn't. I was proud and glad when she finally was able to grow and stand up for herself. 

Now, what I didn't like... The writing. Almost every sentence were as short and as simple as they could possibly be. I'm not opposed to variation in sentence length. In fact, I encourage it. And there were so many fragments. Now, fragments can be a perfectly effective tool when used right. But not when they are used every other sentence. The writing just kept distracting me from the story and it really bothered me. 

So, all in all, it was a good story. But I just wish I could have enjoyed it more than I did. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Charming Covers [39]: Lots of Sequel Covers!

Charming Covers is a feature here at Book Fanatics where I show off covers that have recently been revealed/ that I've recently found. 

There have been quite a few cover reveals in the last week or so, so I'm going to show off a lot of them!

Boundless (Unearthly, #3)
Boundless by Cynthia Hand
January 22, 2013

Yay! I'm very excited for this book. Does anyone know if this is the final installment or where there be more!

The Rising (Darkness Rising, #3)
The Rising by Kelley Armstrong (Darkness Rising #3)
April 9, 2013

Okay, if you read my blog for any amount of time, you know why I'm so excited for this book. The characters from this series and the Darkest Powers series meet up! Oh, I am so excited to see Chloe, Derek, Simon, and Tori again!

Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2)
Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
February 5, 2013

I really enjoyed Shatter Me and I'm excited to see where the sequel takes us!
I'm very torn with these covers (this and the new Shatter Me cover). Even though the last cover wasn't the prettiest, I think it captured the book fairly well. But I like that these covers are different than others you see today. The old and new covers are so different, and I like them both in different ways. 

Everbound (Everneath, #2)
Everbound by Brodi Asthon
January 22, 2013

I, personally, like this cover better than the first book. I like that her face is turned away so that you can't see all of it (it really bothers me that in the first book, her face is just cut off). I like the smoke and the dress. Anyway, I'm really excited for this one!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Review: All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

All These Things I've Done (Birthright, #1)All These Things I've Done
Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Release Date: September 6, 2011

In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.Engrossing and suspenseful, All These Things I've Done is an utterly unique, unputdownable read that blends both the familiar and the fantastic.
Prior to reading All These Things, I'd heard some mixed things about it. But I loved Zevin's other two YA novels, so I was cautiously optimistic. As it turned out, I really enjoyed All These Things I've Done. It wasn't what I was expecting, but still good. 

One thing that I liked about this book was that even though it was a dystopian novel, the world wasn't far from our own. At times it was easy to forget that it wasn't just a contemporary novel. The differences were minor. But that doesn't mean that this world wasn't awesome (or awesomely built, I mean).  

All These Things also differed from other dystopians in another way. It wasn't action-packed and super-suspenseful. But that doesn't mean that there weren't edge-of-your-seat-moments, either. This book certainly managed to grab me and didn't let go until the very end. 

I do have to point out Gabrielle Zevin's writing. She always seems to captivate and intrigue me. Her story-telling abilities amaze me. 

And Anya. I loved her loyalty, to her family, to her friends, to those she loves. Even though she is put into some serious situations and has to grow up really quickly, she still manages to act her age at times. She definitely grows a lot over the book. I would consider her selfless, for sure.

All in all, I am very impressed with this book. One thing I am hoping to see more of in the next book is more of the business/ mafia part of it. It was in it in this book, but I think (hope) we will see a lot more of it in the next book. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Bookshelf Tour!

So, since I've been blogging for almost four years now (crazy!) I figured it was time for a bookshelf tour, especially since I've never had one before.
I didn't do a video, just took pictures, mostly because I don't have a video camera. 
But, without further ado, here we go.

This is the full view of my main shelf.

This is the top shelf. It's where I keep all of my mass market paperbacks/boxed sets. (the only box sets I have is Little House on the Prairie, and a really old edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland)

This is my contemporary shelf. I have more serious contemp on the left and light/fun on the right.

This is my fantasy/paranormal shelf

This is kind of my miscellaneous shelf. It's genres that I don't have a lot of. Here I keep my mystery, historical fiction, and dystopian/post-apocalyptic. 

Here are (some) of my favorites that I keep beside my bed. It's a small shelf so I can't keep all of my favs here. 

And here are (again, some) of my signed books. Some of my others are on my normal shelf. 

I also have two shelves dedicated to my two-read books, but I couldn't find the picture.

So, there you have it. I rearrange my shelf every couple of months or so. It probably won't be long until I do  it again.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

What's Next (1)

I saw this over at Icey Books, and I thought it would be fun to try it!
 Here's how it works:

-Every Thursday select three-five books (not too many, not too little!) that you want to read but can't decide which one to read first. 
-Post the cover, and if you want, the synopsis or even a random line from the book, for each of your selections. 
-At the end of your post, ask readers to vote on which one you should read next! 

For more information or to participate, visit here.

So, here are the list of books to choose from for me this week:

Hemlock (Hemlock, #1)
Mackenzie and Amy were best friends.Since then, Mac's life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac's hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy's killer:A white werewolf.Lupine syndrome--also known as the werewolf virus--is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control.Wanting desperately to put an end to her nightmares, Mac decides to investigate Amy's murder herself. She discovers secrets lurking in the shadows of Hemlock, secrets about Amy's boy-friend, Jason, her good pal Kyle, and especially her late best friend. Mac is thrown into a maelstrom of violence and betrayal that puts her life at risk.Kathleen Peacock's thrilling novel is the first in the Hemlock trilogy, a spell-binding urban fantasy series filled with provocative questions about prejudice, trust, lies, and love.

The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden, #1)
"In a future world, vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity."Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of "them." The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked--and given the ultimate choice. Die...or become one of the monsters.Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend--a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.But it isn't easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what--and who--is worth dying for.

Keep Holding On
A romantic and empowering book about bullyingNoelle's life is all about survival. Even her best friend doesn't know how much she gets bullied, or the ways her mom neglects her. Noelle's kept so much about her life a secret for so long that when her longtime crush Julian Porter starts paying attention to her, she's terrified. Surely it's safer to stay hidden than to risk the pain of a broken heart. But when the antagonism of her classmates takes a dramatic turn, Noelle realizes it's time to stand up for herself--and for the love that keeps her holding on.

Pandemonium (Delirium, #2)
I'm pushing aside the memory of my nightmare, pushing aside thoughts of Alex, pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school, push, push, push, like Raven taught me to do.The old life is dead.But the old Lena is dead too.I buried her.I left her beyond a fence,behind a wall of smoke and flame.Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite. 

Let me know what to read next! 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Review: Secrets and Shadows by Shannon Delany

Secrets and Shadows (13 to Life, #2)Secrets and Shadows
Shannon Delany
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: February 11, 2011

Nothing's simple when you run with werewolves. Jess Gillmansen thinks she's seen it all but her eyes are about to be opened to even more danger and a reality far more paranormal than she's suspected. With Jess's realization that the Rusakovas' mother is still alive and imprisoned, the group's choices become harder and trust more important. Lines are drawn and relationships change as the broken Rusakova family struggles to reunite long enough to free their mother and people who Jess always just took to be normal people show themselves to be much, much more.

Well, this is shaping up to be quite an interesting series. I really enjoyed 13 to Life and couldn't wait to read the sequel. Secrets and Shadows wasn't as good as the first, but I still enjoyed the wild and suspenseful ride. 

I will admit, it took a while for me to get into Secrets and Shadows. For whatever reason, I just couldn't get into the first half. But by the second half, I was hooked. There were several twists (especially toward the end) that kept me wanting and needing more. 

Jesse. She can be a little spitfire at times. But she can also be cool and calm at others. She's also loyal to friends and family. She always stood by the Rusakovas even when her and Peitr weren't on the best terms. 

Which brings me to my next point. One thing that did bother me in this book was the ups and downs in Jess and Peitr's relationship. It seemed that the fights between the two were typical and pretty much pointless. The fights were mostly due to a lack of communication. However, with every thing that Peitr is going through, I can see why he might want to push Jess away. But still. 

Secrets and Shadows was an enjoyable read. Even though it wasn't as good as 13 to Life, I can't wait to devour the next book. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Wicked Wildfire Read-A-Thon & Goals

Hey there! I know this is really last minute, but I just found the Wicked Wildefire Read-a-thon over at Kindle Fever. With my growing TBR pile, and since it's summer, I decided I need this. I haven't been reading as much as I need to lately, so I'm taking this opportunity to catch up.

The read-a-thon runs from June 20-24. To learn more or sign up, visit here

Wicked Wildfire Read-A-Thon

Here are the books that I am hoping to read:

I'm going to go ahead and say (though it never works out when I make plans with reading) that that's my minimum. Hopefully I can accomplish more than that, though I'm not holding my breath.

I'm going to go ahead and say that I'll do one update post. I'm also going to try to participate in some mini-challenges, too. All in all I think it will be a lot of fun!

So, is anyone out there participating, too? What are you planning on reading?

Charming Covers [38]

Charming Covers is a feature here at Book Fanatics where I show off covers that have recently been revealed/ that I've recently found. 

Finale (Hush, Hush, #4)
Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick
October 23, 2012

Nora is more certain than ever that she is in love with Patch. Fallen angel or no, he is the one for her. Her heritage and destiny may mean that they will always be enemies, but there is no turning her back on him. But now they face their biggest challenge. Can their love survive a seemingly insurmountable divide. And in the end, will there be enough trust left to rebuild what has been broken? The lines are drawn - but which sides are they on?

This series has proved to have its ups and downs, but I'm pretty excited to see how it all ends. Despite what others say, I think it's an enjoyable series. 
I like this cover. I don't like it as much as some of the other covers, but it's interesting and pretty enough. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Review: A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger

A Midsummer's NightmareA Midsummer's Nightmare
Kody Keplinger
Publisher: Poppy
Release Date: June 5, 2012

Whitley Johnson's dream summer with her divorcé dad has turned into a nightmare. She's just met his new fiancée and her kids. The fiancée's son? Whitley's one-night stand from graduation night. Just freakin' great.
Worse, she totally doesn't fit in with her dad's perfect new country-club family. So Whitley acts out. She parties. Hard. So hard she doesn't even notice the good things right under her nose: a sweet little future stepsister who is just about the only person she's ever liked, a best friend (even though Whitley swears she doesn't "do" friends), and a smoking-hot guy who isn't her least, not yet. It will take all three of them to help Whitley get through her anger and begin to put the pieces of her family together.
Filled with authenticity and raw emotion, Whitley is Kody Keplinger's most compelling character to date: a cynical Holden Caulfield-esque girl you will wholly care about.
A Midsummer's Nightmare is one of my recent favorites. I wasn't expecting to like it as much as I would. I really liked Keplinger's debut novel, The DUFF, but this is by far my favorite of hers.
I didn't think I would like Whitley at first. She seemed whiny, selfish, and immature. But once I got to know her and got to dig into the emotions that cause her to act the way she does, I really started to understand her. Then I started liking her. She was was snarky and funny. She made mistakes, but who doesn't? She grew up and matured a lot throughout the book. 
I will confess, given the circumstances, I tried to not like Nathan. I didn't want to. But, slowly, I fell for him just as Whitley did. He was very sweet and was always there to help. 
I've really become a fan of Keplinger's writing. She has created a refreshing and youthful (because she is young) voice that I really like. 
A Midsummer's Nightmare is a perfect combination of humor and seriousness. This book is a tale of family problems, scandalous relationships, mistakes, and coming-of-age, with many laughs along the way. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Book Haul and Week in Review (93)

This post is dedicated not only to sharing all the books I've received this week but also to share this week's happenings on my blog. This is inspired by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer's The Sunday Post. Also, the title Book Haul is provided by Katie's Book Blog 

So, these past couple of weeks I went a little crazy. I bought a lot of books (at least for me). I haven't bought any books in a while, so I figured it was okay.

But first, for review:
A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger
(I've already read and loved it. My review will be up this week.)

Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins
Storm Born by Richelle Mead
In Honor by Jessi Kirby
If I die by Rachel Vincent (I finally bought this one; it was the only one in the series I was missing. And I got it just in time to reread before Before I Wake)
Gilt by Katherine Longshore

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock
The Selection by Kiera Cass
Dark Frost by Jennifer Estep
City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

So, I better start reading, eh?
What should I read first?

Happenings on Book Fanatics:
Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowan
The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting

Other posts of interest:
Why I Love My Library