Thursday, January 31, 2013

My brother's first review: FREAKS!

By: Kieran Larwood
Reported by: Roarko
Source: ARC from publisher
Release date: March 1st, 2013, via Chicken House/Scholastic

Weirdest. Crime Fighters. Ever.

Sheba, the fur-faced Wolfgirl, can sniff out a threat from miles away. Monkeyboy clambers up buildings in the blink of an eye -- then drops deadly stink bombs of his own making (yes, THAT kind)! Sister Moon sees in the dark, and moves at the speed of light. Born with weird abnormalities that make them misfits, these FREAKS spend their nights on public display, trapped in a traveling Victorian sideshow. But during the day, they put their strange talents to use: They solve the most sinister crimes. And in a dank, desperate world of crooks and child-snatchers, they're determined to defend London's most innocent victims: the street urchins disappearing from the city's streets.

-Summary from Goodreads
Pre-order: Mrs. Nelson's || Barnes & Noble || Amazon || Book Depository

Juli: When I received Freaks, I knew that it would be the perfect read for my 10-year-old brother, Roarko (not his real name; hey, he's 10, I've gotta protect his identity, yeah?). Here is the first review by my brother, praising Freaks:

Freaks was a really good book, because one) there was a lot of action; two) there were a lot of fantastical elements that I never thought of; and three) there was a lot of excitement.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Audrey, WAIT!

Audrey, Wait!
By: Robin Benway
Reported by: Julianna Helms

The wait is over for the paperback of this irresistible, fast-paced, hit-worthy debut! When funny, charming, absolutely-normal Audrey Cuttler dumps her boyfriend Evan, he writes a song about her that becomes a number-one hit and rockets Audrey to stardom!

Suddenly, tabloid paparazzi are on her tail and Audrey can barely hang with her friends at concerts or the movies without getting mobbed, let alone score a date with James, her adorable coworker at the Scooper Dooper. Her life will never be the same--at least, not until Audrey confronts Evan live on MTV and lets the world know exactly who she is!

-Summary from Goodreads || Purchase: Mrs. Nelson's

You know what I think?

I think Audrey was right. She shouldn't have waited.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Will Grayons, Let Me Hug You

Will Grayson, Will Grayson
By: John Green & David Levithan
Reported by: Julianna Helms

One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.

Hilarious, poignant, and deeply insightful, John Green and David Levithan’s collaborative novel is brimming with a double helping of the heart and humor that have won both of them legions of faithful fans.

-Summary from Goodreads || Purchase: Mrs. Nelson's

"Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, 
but here's my number, so call me maybe?" 

Sounds familiar?

I thought so. Now, before you go all Avatar State on me, let me just say that I brought that Call Me Maybe back for a legitimately good reason. It's this book's freaking theme song.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Marie Lu is a Prodigy

By: Marie Lu
Reported by: Julianna Helms
Source: ARC via ALA
Release Date: January 29th, 2013 via Putnam Juvenile/Penguin

June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

In this highly-anticipated sequel, Lu delivers a breathtaking thriller with high stakes and cinematic action.

-Summary from Goodreads || Purchase: Mrs. Nelson's

Darn it, Marie. If I actually cussed, I would be throwing out a firecracker of expletives right now

I read this book a while ago, so I don't remember every nook and cranny of it. But here is what I do remember: every time I think about it, I just want to weep and simultaneously punch a wall. I still freeze every time someone mentions it because I just. freaking. can't.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Unravel Me

Unravel Me
By: Tahereh Mafi
Reported by: Julianna Helms
Source: ARC via ALA
Release date: February 5th, 2013 via HarperTeen/HarperCollins

tick, tick, tick, tick, tick
it's almost
time for war.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She's finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam's life.

-Summary from Goodreads || Purchase: Mrs. Nelson's

I liked Unravel Me. There isn't much in my memory about how exactly it impacted me, but I remember that I liked it.

But I don't remember that I loved it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Rae Carson Deserves the Crown of Embers

The Crown of Embers
By: Rae Carson
Reported by: Julianna Helms 
Source: ARC via ALA
Release Date: Already released! Go grab your copies now! :D

In the sequel to the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns (my review here!), a seventeen-year-old princess turned war queen faces sorcery, adventure, untold power, and romance as she fulfills her epic destiny.

Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone's power. That is not all she finds. A breathtaking, romantic, and dangerous second volume in the Fire and Thorns trilogy.

-Summary from Goodreads || Purchase: Mrs. Nelson's

Man I love Rae Carson.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns was the first ARC I've ever received, and I can't say how amazing it was to meet Rae Carson during ALA. What would be really cool is if I received an ARC for the third book, The Bitter Kingdom. Probably not happening, but that'd make this whole thing come full circle. Also, oh yeah, I kind of NEED the third book to survive. No, seriously. You think I'm joking, but I really am not. This series does this to me:

That's my beloved Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Also know as the best TV series ever. (*waits for Whovians and Browncoats to go all Avatar State on me in the comments*)

So yes. I feel a lot of angst. Largely due to Rae and The Crown of Embers.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

City of a Thousand Disappointments

City of a Thousand Dolls
By: Miriam Forster
Reported by: Julianna Helms
Source: ARC via an amazing friend
Release Date: February 5th, 2013 from HarperTeen/HarperCollins

An exotic treat set in an entirely original, fantastical world brimming with deadly mystery, forbidden romance, and heart-stopping adventure.

Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a child. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. Nisha makes her way as Matron’s assistant, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city’s handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die.

Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls’ deaths. But by getting involved, Nisha jeopardizes not only her own future in the City of a Thousand Dolls—but her own life.

-Summary from Goodreads || Purchase: Mrs. Nelson's

I'm going to try really, really hard to make this review as gentle as I can let it be. But make no mistake: I did not, at all, like this book.

Let's just discard some misinformation first. That first line in the summary? "An exotic treat set in an entirely original, fantastical world brimming with deadly mystery, forbidden romance, and heart-stopping adventure"? That is not true. At least, not for me. Let me explain.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Paralleled Defiance

By: C. J. Redwine
Reported by: Julianna Helms

Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city's brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father's apprentice, Logan--the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same one who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but a fierce belief in her father's survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city's top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor's impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can't be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

-Summary from Goodreads || Purchase: Mrs. Nelson's

It seems that, just like Seraphina, everyone else loved this one (or mostly everyone, at least). Well, lest I be defiant (absolutely dreadful pun intended), I should absolutely love this too, right?

Yeah, as you can probably tell in the title, this defiance was very exactly mirrored in my own feelings. No, I'm not a fan of this book. Well, no, perhaps that's a bit harsh. Here, let me attempt to explain:

Thursday, January 3, 2013


By: Rachel Hartman
Reported by: Julianna Helms

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina's tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they've turned the final page.

-Summary from Goodreads || Purchase at Mrs. Nelson's, an awesome local indie bookstore!

Everyone loved this book so much that I was both frightened and buoyed to pick this up. It seems that a lot of reviewers knew Rachel Hartman before they read the book, but I've never had any acquaintances made with Rachel (though seriously? I'd love to). So if you didn't buy anyone's review because you thought they were all biased--well, I'm telling you now that I had no qualms against liking this book.

Of course, I didn't need to worry about bias and whatnot--Seraphina was absolutely tinkling.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

YA2U--or Why Authors Deserve Some Drumrolls

Now this. This is something awesome. Something absolutely sparkling and spectacular and also I'll just stop rambling now and let you get on to it.

Have you ever wished that a big YA book tour would make a stop in your hometown? Well, here's your chance for that wish to come true! YA2U is a program that features five award-winning and best-selling authors who are holding a contest to see what city they should visit in an exclusive tour stop!

The authors are collecting votes from January 1 to February 15, and any city in the continental US or any Canadian city that has an international airport can win an exclusive visit from all five authors, including an author panel and book signing! Entering is super easy--and if you help spread the word about the contest, you can also enter win a signed copy of all of their books (TEN signed books in total!)--and the book contest is open internationally!

The authors in the program are:

And they want to have an event in your home town! To participate, just got to the YA2U website and let them know what city you want them to come to. And while you're there, help spread the word about the contest and you can be entered to win all of their books--TEN signed books in total! 

Here's why the YA2U Team should come to MY hometown!

Look. I LOOOOOOOOOOOVE Beth Revis and Marie Lu and Victoria Schwab. I'll admit that I haven't read anything by Marissa Meyer (I met her once and almost faceplanted at her awesomeness. No joke. Just ask my friend who was watching on, completely mortified at my flailing, flabbergasted self) and Megan Shepherd yet, but I'm really excited to. I, however, happen to live in the Los Angeles area.


Which is not necessarily true, but it does have a point. But here's the thing: California is the most populated state. If there's an event here, more people would be able to go to it. Besides, then, if you come over here for vacation as a grand scheme for the event, then you can also visit a plethora of cool places like Disneyland, Legoland, Hollywood, Universal Studios, etc., that you can't visit in the middle of, say, Montana (though nothing again Montana. Y'all have Hanklerfish). And my local indie bookstore, Mrs. Nelson's Toy and Book Shop, has some of the friendliest and most knowledgeable employees/friends I've ever met. I think you'd like them a lot, and I think this whole shebang would be really awesome if you voted for LA.

Why should the YA2U Team come to your hometown? Why not join in the fun today and share with others about this program and your hometown. The more votes your town gets, the closer you are to having your very own personal tour stop! Vote for YOUR town here!

And if you help spread the word, you can also participate in the book giveaway. Tell them that you learned about YA2U from me and we both get extra entries in the contest!
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The Reviews News

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

I Knew You Were Madness

By: A. G. Howard
Reported by: Julianna Helms
Release Date: January 1st, 2013 from Amulet Books/Abrams (Out today, peeps. Get it ASAP! :D)
Source: ARC from publisher (thank you so much! <3)

For sixteen years, Alyssa Gardner has lived with the stigma of being descended from Alice Liddell—the real life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s famed novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. But cruel jokes about dormice and tea parties can’t compare to the fact that Alyssa hears the whispers of bugs and flowers... the same quirk which sent her mother to a mental institution years before.

When her mother takes a turn for the worse and the whispers grow too strong for Alyssa to bear, she seeks the origins of their family curse. A set of heirlooms and a moth tied to an unusual website lead Alyssa and her gorgeous best friend / secret crush, Jeb, down the rabbit hole into the real Wonderland, a place more twisted and eerie than Lewis Carroll ever let on.

There, creepy counterparts of the original fairytale crew reveal the purpose for Alyssa’s journey, and unless she fixes the things her great-great-great grandmother Alice put wrong, Wonderland will have her head.

-Summary from Goodreads
Purchase: Mrs. Nelson's (local indie stores FTW!) || Barnes & Noble || Amazon || Book Depository

What is it with madness?

Why is it that everyone is so burdened and broken that the only perfection that exists is a product of our own imagination? Splintered is pure madness, insane and twisted and sinister and completely seductive. You see those vines caging Alyssa's hair? Those same vines trap you, too.

Splintered is so heartbreaking it makes you want to weep an ocean of your own. Everyone is flawed and impossibly real and emotionally tumultuous. And that's the way it is: tumultuous. But Splintered is just what it is: the rock that splinters your exterior. It's not the type of book that crawls into your heart, per say, but more like the type of story that robs your breath and frightens you when you realize that its craziness is paralleled inside you.

A. G. Howard brings out the darkness in you and sprinkles it with doses of light--just enough to keep you afloat, but not enough to obscure the fear of drowning under.

The magic of Splintered, is, cliché or not, everywhere. The writing is beautiful and haunting. The words create such a flamboyant atmosphere, and the world-building is so thoroughly fleshed out that even the most illogical sequences somehow make sense. It's as if Ms. Howard smashed the world into pieces and rearranged it upside-down and backwards and all wrong all over the place, like a puzzle that fits in a darker, creepier way.

Splintered, at its heart, is a turmoil unsettled. Madness or tranquility? Self or community? Eccentric or accepted? But it's all those questions amplified to a degree that is unimaginable but by the mind of Ms. Howard and her ambient words.

There are retellings, and then there are retellings that twist everything around. Splintered is the epitome of the latter: what you thought was Alice in Wonderland is the original puzzle, and Splintered completely rips it apart. But that doesn't mean it doesn't pay homage to the classic--in fact, it is not so much that Splintered isn't Alice as that Alice cannot be Splintered. They are like twin souls wedged into one body. There are similarities, but there are differences that cannot be ignored.

Wonderland, it seems, is nothing that it seems. This journey is harrowing and completely phenomenal.

Hold on tight--the rabbit hole is as twisted and deadly as ever; even a potion can't keep you immune from Splintered's alluring charms.
The Reviews News
*Why yes, that is a Taylor Swift song reference in the title. Why, no, I'm not going to reveal my sentiment regarding Swift's arduously mundane love life.
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