Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cover Reveal : Uriel by Aaron Patterson (Airel Saga #3)

Cover Reveal
Uriel by Aaron Patterson, Chris White (Airel #3)


All she wanted was to live her own life…

When heroes start to tell lies, even to themselves: Uriel. She’s spent thousands of years fighting against her destiny, fighting against her bereaved father, against El Himself.

“It’s just one letter, but it’s my letter, father…”

Once more, we see how the evil deeds of the past play out in the following generations, and with grave consequences—and startling revelations.

Betrayal, deceit, and murder are unavoidable in Uriel, Book 3 of the Airel saga.

Check out the first books in the series  Airel and Michael

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer of Sarah Dessen : That Summer

Today kicks off  day 1 of the Summer of Sarah Dessen  at Books and Sensibility. Join us every Wednesday as we make our way through Sarah Dessen's complete collection of novels !

 “It’s funny how one summer can change everything. It must be something about the heat and the smell of chlorine, fresh-cut grass and honeysuckle, asphalt sizzling after late-day thunderstorms, the steam rising while everything drips around it. Something about long, lazy days and whirring air conditioners and bright plastic flip-flops from the drugstore thwacking down the street. Something about fall being so close, another year, another Christmas, another beginning. So much in one summer, stirring up like the storms that crest at the end of each day, blowing out all the heat and dirt to leave everything gasping and cool. Everyone can reach back to one summer and lay a finger to it, finding the exact point when everything changed. That summer was mine.”                                                                                  - That Summer, Sarah Dessen

Synopsis :For Haven, life is changing too quickly. She's nearly six feet tall, her father is getting remarried, and her sister—the always perfect Ashley—is planning a wedding of her own. Haven wishes things could just go back to the way they were. Then an old boyfriend of Ashley's reenters the picture, and through him, Haven sees the past for what it really was, and comes to grips with the future.

This summer, Haven's father remarries to a younger woman, this summer, Haven's sister marries and will leave, this summer Sumner comes back into her life. Not matter how much Haven wants it to be, this summer is not like that summer. When everything was perfect.

That Summer is a quintessential coming of age story, through Haven's narration readers become a fly on the wall in  Lakeview and all of it's small town happenings. Everything from Haven's father's wedding to a local teen celebrity's mental break down work together as a backdrop to Haven's struggle with trying to find hope in an illusion. 

This is Dessen's debut novel and was originally published in 1998. It was written in a time when YA existed in a different form than what it is now. There were no sparkling vampires or teen death matches filling the shelves. According to Dessen's website this book was never mean to be YA, it just has a teen narrator. I think this becomes a little evident while reading from a current perspective,  this novel has none of the common tropes in today's contemporary YA.This isn't simply a boy meet girl type of story.

A thoughtful and  introspective debut novel, That Summer is unlike many of the Dessen novels I've read so far. While it lacks some of Dessen's usual finesse this is the type of story will leave you thinking and finding meaning in long after you have read it.

For Summer Of Sarah Dessen I'll be listing any connections to books I find including; characters, settings and themes.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Book Review : Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday

Synopsis: Hartley Grace Featherstone is having a very bad day. First she finds out that her boyfriend is cheating on her with the president of the Herbert Hoover High School Chastity Club. Then he’s pegged as the #1 suspect in a murder. And if that weren’t enough, now he’s depending on Hartley to clear his name. 

I purchased the Kindle version of Deadly Cool on a whim when Amazon had it on sale for 2.99. This is the second book I've gotten from the Harper Steals and Deals sale (the first being Unearthly) and  I have to say,these steals have yet to disappoint.

The book opens right into the plot and instantly took me into the world. When Hartley finds the corpse of a popular girl in her ex-boyfriend's house, she finds herself trying to solve the murder and clear her ex's name.

Deadly Cool is similar to a cozy mystery, but with a  modern high school face lift and pop culture sprinkled narrative. Having a murder mystery driven plot was an interesting take on the contemporary genre.

 Halliday does an excellent job of even taking characters who should be forgettable and adding extra dimensions to make them feel real. Not one of the characters fell particularly flat to me.

Being set mostly in high school, Deadly Cool deals with the usual cliques and mean girls, but does so in a believable way that moves the story forward.

The male counterpart of this novel is the editor of the school paper and 'bad boy' Chase. I put that in quotes because he didn't really come off as the bad boy to me. I mean he wasn't exactly breaking laws and hearts throughout the story. I did how the relationship between Chase and Hartley evolved through the book and I'm excited to see where it goes.

I get the impression that each book in the series will have it's own individual plot, which is a change from most YA series.While it's not overly complex, this book was a solid and enjoyable read. I think it's because Halliday has a lot of experience under her belt with her bestselling High Heel Mysteries series for adults. 

The Deadly Cool series is a fun narrative with a great plot and one I will continually come back to  when I'm looking for a light YA novel.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Sense List Vol. 11

Welcome to The Sense List ! A feature on Books and Sensibility where we wrap up current YA news and events. 

  • is offering free YA audio downloads including Anna Dressed In Blood and Daughter of Smoke and BoneCheck out the schedule here 

  • Early June was Daemon Invasion ! The Hungarian models on Jennifer Armentrout's  Obsidian series came state side for a tour and signings. Check out Jen's recap

  • Novel Thoughts' YA web series This Week In YA (TWiYA) returns July 7th, with a new format.

Cover Reveals

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
Mind Games by Kirsten White
Nobody But Us by Kristin Holbrook
Breaking Point, Kirsten simmons
Rise by Anna Carey
Everbound by Brodi Ashton

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Book Review : Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Synopsis : Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.
Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.
With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever 
Deryn is a fifteen year old girl masquerading as a boy to join the airservice

Alex is a young prince who is on the run from a the threat of  The Great War

The Leviathan is a  living airship made from fabricated beast that brings the two together in a great adventure in this spirited re-imaging of World War I.

Leviathan is a high-flying adventure story filled with wonderment and discovery. I'm not sure why I picked this book up, I think it was because I wanted to see how the illustrations I'd glanced at related to the story. Either way from the first few pages I was sucked into this world Westerfeld has created with Darwinist, Clankers, Beasties, and Walkers.

What I really liked about this book was something very subtle about Deryn's story. It's hinted early in the novel that Deryn's family (including her mother) while not supporting her scheme,  have decided not to stop her. Even her own brother is helping her pretend to be a boy.

It's refreshing because due to the support Deryn doesn't have to worry about things like worrying about approval or if she is making the right choice. Instead, she can focus on things like crash landing into the Leviathan and traveling miles away from home and proving she is just as good (maybe even better) than the boys. 

I enjoyed Deryn's enthusiasm and her passion for flying. I think she is a (here it goes) a strong female character. She's smart, headstrong and not out to prove anything. Deryn is the kind of girl you want to root for. The friendship that builds between Deryn (or Dylan) and Alek is wonderful, you can really see how Deryn's brashness and Alek's princely-ness clash.

On a side note my World War I knowledge is similar to this scene from NBC's Friends

Rachel: Oh, wait Joey! We fought the Nazis in World War II, not World War I.
Joey: Whoa! Okay. Yeah well, who-who was in World War I? (Rachel pauses as she thinks.)
Phoebe: Go ahead.
Rachel: You’re gonna be late! Go! Go! (He runs out.)
Monica: Who did we fight in World War I?
Rachel: Mexico?
Phoebe: Yes! Very good.

So I had hard time following the timeline in relation to the real World War I. Luckily Westerfeld irons it all out in the back of the book, and you don't have to be a history buff  to enjoy the novel.

Westerfeld is a master of world building. I can't believe this is the same guy who produced the dystopian world of  Uglies. The way Westerfeld blends facts from World War I with his own steampunk-ish society seems so tangible. It was only helped with Keith Thompsons's illustrations ! I like the facial expressions in the illustrations.

A unique YA historical with a fantasy twist, Leviathan is a clever adventure story that will keep you guessing until the end.

Summer of Sarah Dessen : Intro

Summer 2012 has officially started !

That Summer
Someone Like You
Keeping the Moon
This Lullaby
The Truth About Forever
Just Listen
Lock and Key
Along for the Ride

When I think of summer, excitement and love one thing comes to mind; the novels of Sarah Dessen. She was one of the first YA authors I read in high school, a time when I was mostly reading Stephen King and adult novels that didn't speak to me they way Dessen's novels did.

I enjoyed the quirky characters, summer settings and protagonist on the verge of  young adulthood--a time when it feels like anything can happen. Books and Sensibility wants to spend the summer reading and reviewing Sarah Dessen's novels.

So join Books and Sensibility every Wednesday this summer for Summer of Sarah Dessen starting June 27th .

You don't have to read them in order, I'm just taking on the challenge.

If you are a Dessen fan and want to join me this summer to read or reread Sarah Dessen novels grab our button and link up your review in the comments.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Jess Joins Wicked Wildfire Read-a-Thon

Wicked Wildfire Read-A-Thon

I'm usually a Bout-of-Books kind of blogger but I just found out about Wicked Wildfire Read-a-Thon and this is exaclty what I need. Here is the info from Kindle Fever

The Wicked Wildfire Read-A-Thon is a time when we all get together to dedicate the days of June 20-24to as much reading as possible. You read as much as you can in order to get yourself a little further through that huge to-read pile! We know real life gets in the way and even if you can’t participate more than one day, you’re welcome to join in on the fun!
In the meanwhile, we will be hosting book-related challenges where you can win some awesome prizes and have a Twitter party at the hashtag #WWReadathon! You can posts updates on your blog, Twitter, Goodreads or Facebook — as long as the profile is public and we all can enjoy your reading progress!
My Goals
Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen*
Innocent Darkness by Suzan Lezear
The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas*
I'll be updating on twitter @Books_Sense #WWReadathon

*Started and need to finish

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Book Review: Beautiul Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

“It was crazy how a hearse and a pair of sneakers could cheer a guy up.” 
― Kami Garcia and Margaret StohlBeautiful Chaos

Synopsis: Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home, strange and impossible have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena's Claiming. Even Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals is affected - and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What - or who - will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin?

In the third installment of The Caster Chronicles, the Caster world and the human world collide and as you can imagine, chaos ensues. Lena and Ethan deal with forces bigger and more dangerous than ever before and Ethan finds himself in the middle of a supernatural battle with difficult decisions ahead

Coming back into the Caster Chronicles, I felt  series fatigue starting to set in. The novel itself is dense and seemed to be dragging on it's own legs. It was beginning to feel like more of the same.

 Jumping back into the world of casters, incubus and succubus after being away for 5 months, I needed a lexicon to keep everything in order. This series has a lot of terms and characters and it was hard to remember how they were all connected to one another.

Despite the slow paced story telling, there are some really great moments in this book. Stohl and Garcia are marvelous at writing scenes with an emotional impact.There were some scenes in this book that were written magnificently and really pull on the heart strings.

All of our favorite characters are back, including John Breed. We learn a bit more about him than we did in Beautiful Darkness butI wish they had fleshed his character out more. He adds an interersting dynamic to the series and I wish they had given him more book time.

Lena caught my eye more in this book. She came out more as a character to me. I feel like I got a better feel for her and I agree she and Ethan are better together. They are probably one of my favorite YA couples.

At  over 500 pages long Beautiful Chaos is one dense book. While I still enjoy the story of Lena and Ethan I had a hard time getting truly immersed in the world.This novel isn't bad, it's just average.

The ending ,however, is great. The last chapter is very well done, it's just all the little things in between that bothered me. I am still very excited to read Beautiful Redemption and see how this all ends.

I still think Beautiful Creatures is a great paranormal romance series and it's a great time to get into it as we  have one more book in the fall and a movie coming out early next year !

Book Review : Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Synopsis :  . . . in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war. Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? 
That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.
When [a ]--beautiful, haunted [stranger] Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

A while ago, I borrowed Daughter of Smoke and Bone from the library and never got around to reading it. So, I just returned it unread.

That was a big mistake and I'm so glad that I purchased the audio book

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a magical tale, seamlessly  weaved together by Laini Taylor. The words tell a compelling story and drew me in from the first paragraph.

Karou is a little different. No one really knows who she is, not even Karou herself. She can speak numerous languages, has peacock blue hair that seems to grow out of her head and most of all she has her art; sketches and drawings of monstrous creatures.

However there is something more to Karou's drawings. There is something more to this pen and paper world she has created. Something otherworldy is breaking thorough to our world; an ancient battle with Karou and a mysterious young man named Akiva at the center.

The plot of Daughter of Smoke and Bone breaks the mold of the usual YA story line. The surreal and twisted story methodically  and deliberately reveals the true destiny of Karou. I was mesmerized by this book, and found the novel's slow mysterious pacing similar to that of The Night Circus.

This novel takes two YA genres (that I won't name in fear of spoilers) and transforms them in a completely original way. As the truth slowly gets revealed I kept finding myself wanting to scream "OUT WITH IT ALREADY" but the slow build pays off as the novel takes a turn in an unexpected (if not slightly predictable) direction. 

I was a little surprised at how the romance plot was introduced and then how it dominated the plot. It changed the mood of the novel giving the second part of the book a slightly different feel.

What I enjoyed  most about Daughter of Smoke and Bone was the global settings. So often YA books have a tendency to be U.S.-centric and it's refreshing that this  book opens in Eastern Europe.

The voice actress for the audiobook, Khristine Hvam,  was spot on. She had a wide variety of range and  her interpretation  of Karou was just how imagined it. I also enjoyed  the music that was  played during pages with poems or anecdotes on them. I highly suggest this audio book

With its blooming world building and striking originality Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a story of hope, destiny and love.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Book Review : Legend By Marie Lu

Synopsis :  What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem. . . in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what [has ]brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Legend is the ultimate cat and mouse game.

15-year-old June is the government's greatest agent. Day is the government's number one fugitive. When a series of events leads the two to cross paths, Day becomes June's first mission and she will do whatever it takes to find him.

Lu's writing is amazing, I could visualize the the militaristic, dirty, smoke filled dark streets of futuristic Los Angeles. The different worlds of Day and June played out so vividly  that you could really tell where they stood within their society

I listened to the audio book and the male voice actor was perfect for the voice of Day, usually I find male voices sound too old but his was spot on. June's voice actress actor was okay, but I felt like the voice she put on was a little to high and nasally for a 15 year old.

Day has to be one of my favorite YA male protagonist to date. After escaping from the government clutches as a child, Day has been committing crimes and making trouble ever since. I mean he's like Batman hiding in the shadows taking from the government and giving to the poor.I liked how his allegiance wasn't with a government entity but to his family and friends. However I was surprised that the characters were on the younger end of the YA age scale, considering all of their accomplishments.

On a side not I also like names of the characters in this novel; June, Day, Metias and Tess. I got sort of a dark turn of the century feel from the names and the constant mention of characters wearing vest and newspaper boy caps.

 Legend relies on a lot of YA dystopian cliches. There were certain passages I felt like I'd heard them before when it came to the developing relationship between Day and June. I found the "secrets" of the government to be cliched and drawn out. I would have much rather spent more time learning about Day and June and the city they live in.

Legend features an original plot and intense action and world-building. It explores the idea of allegiance, duty and the truth at all cost.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Sense List Vol. 10

  • Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi gets a new faceless cover. Mafi explains

Cover Reveals
Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

On Books and Sensibility
  • Books and Sensibility went to BEA, Check Out Day 1 and Day 2 post

Sunday, June 10, 2012

BEA Book Haul Top 5

We picked up a lot of wonderful books to promote and review while attending Book Expo America.We have each chosen the top 5 we are most excited about.

Jess'  Top 5 BEA Books
Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas
What I like about this book is its origins on Fictionpress. If Maas already has fans in her Internet community then I have great faith in this novel. The plot is a  mix of assassins and fantasies, both of which seem to be popular this year

Skinny by Donna Cooner
This one was actual given to me by Miranda from Just Read Books, but it was talked about at the BEA YA Editor's Buzz. The concept sounds like a unique take on contemporary

Prodigy by Marie Lu
I enjoyed the Legend audiobook and this was the ONE book I really wanted.

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes
This books sounds like an intense fantasy and I think will be a stand out with all the fantasies coming out this year.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Need I say more ?

Kat's Top 5 BEA Books

Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally
This was one of the first books that I picked up at BEA. I really enjoyed Catching Jordan and after hearing Miranda Kenneally talk about how this book deals with sexuality, religion and relationships I was very interested. Sourcebooks YA books have never led me wrong.

What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang
I loved how the editor of this book described the concept in this book of a soul trapped in a body being like a person reading a book. You can experience another persons life, but you can have no influence. Kat was one of our 25 Under 25, so I'm curious to see how her debut novel delivers.

Pushing The Limits by Katie McGarry
She was so awesome at Teen Author Carnival and told a hilarious story of how she fainted during a high school presentation while trying to impress a boy. This is a  contemporary about the good girl and the bad boy--plus I have still yet to read a Harlequin Teen book.

Crewel by Gennifer Albin
I caught the end of the editor discussing this book at the YA Editor's Buzz. It tells a story of women called "Spinsters" who weave the fabric of society. This seems like another interesting take on gender roles in the speculative fiction world.

The People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu
Okay, so it's not a YA  but I was drawn to this book at the Editor's Buzz during blogger con. The novel is about 3 school friends who serve time in the Israeli Army. I loved how the editor described it as Mean Girls meets Tim O'Brien. The cover reflects that wonderfully with the hot pink font over a wartime photograph.

Books and Sensibility @ BEA : Day 2

Children's Author Breakfast 

Jess and I left our hotel extra early to arrive at the Children's Author Breakfast. At first we had a hard time finding a table that wasn't reserved by a publishing house. It was starting to feel hopeless when we  found a table of YA bloggers including Kristi from The Story Siren, Cat from Beyond Books, April from Good Books and Good Wine, Anna from Anna Reads, Tara from Fiction Folio ,Tara from Hobbitsies and one or two other bloggers I know I'm forgetting. We were sitting closest to April and I just have to say she is so kind and great--it was awesome meeting her.

The breakfast was nothing special--a simple continental of bagels, muffins, orange juice and coffee.Sitting on our chairs were copies of all the speakers books along with some swag. Jess and I already had The Fault in Our Stars, so we ended up giving them away to other bloggers who weren't at the breakfast.

 The authors speaking were, Chris Colfer, John Green, Lois Lowry and Kadir Nelson. They were introduced by medal wearing Walter Dean Meyer-- yep, there was a lot of talent on that stage.

 Chris Colfer MC'd the breakfast and was adorable. He discussed how he has been writing his book, The Land of Stories since his childhood. He showed some of the first drafts and maps from the book he created as a child.

After watching Vlog Brother videos for about a year and a half, I never imagined I would ever see John Green speak. He was amazing, but was a bit more low-key than he appears in the videos. I have to admit I agree with him that the publishing industry should stick with what it's good at--telling stories and not looking for some high tech new way to reinvent the book.

Lois Lowry, just Lois Lowry. It was such an honor to be in her presence, I mean who hasn't read The Giver ? I remember reading it in middle school and it blew my mind. She discussed how she wrote The Giver and all of it's companions to answer the question "Why do people do bad things ?" She received a standing ovation and I really want to read The Giver and all its companions this summer.

Kadir Nelson has some AV issues with his presentation, but you could care less once you've seen his illustrations. He is so talented and has illustrated some amazing children's books.

Also a funny tidbit, John Green made a reference to Tumblr and reading reading fan fiction and the librarians or publishing execs or something at the table next to us had no idea what he was talking about. It was all over their faces.

If you missed it, you can watch the Children's Breakfast here:

BEA Day 2

After breakfast it was back to the floor. My one goal for the day was to go to Maureen Johnson's signing and have a good spot in line. The signing was a couple of hours away so, I popped over to Chronicle Books and was first in line to have a copy of Cake Pops signed by Bakerella.

I waited around for the Marueen Johnson singing and finally Taschima from Bloody Bookaholic and Briana from The Book Pixie had started the line--I was third ! Waiting in the line adjacent to ours was Becca Fitzpatrick, the author of Hush,Hush and she kindly agreed to take a picture with Briana and Taschima.  I haven't read Becca's books, but she is a NYT besteller and it was crazy to me that she waited in line like everyone else. I even saw Walter Dean Meyers walking around the autographing area wearing his medal. I mean, it was nice to see the authors on such equal ground with the readers.

Maureen Johnson 
There was a little kerfuffle with Maureen being late, because there were two different time listed, and she was quick to set up and start signing. I really hadn't planned anything to say to her, but when I showed her my badge to get my name spelling she said she knew people in Richmond. I also got a YA Saves shirt.

I had just enough time to pop over to Diana Peterfrued's line for For Darkness Shows The Stars and Kevin Emerson's Lost Code. Then I went over to Hachette for Daughter of Smoke and Bone and  met Faye Bi, who works in publicity. She told me one of the most anticipated new books expected this fall is Return To Me by Justina Chen

After that I found Jess who had survived the Harper Collins Dark Days line. We rested our feet with Ashley from Quixotically Uncharted, A.C Gaughin, the author of Scarlet, Miranda and Tara.

Jess and I then got trapped in the Reached bubble before heading back to the bus stop, books in tow with plenty of good memories.

BEA was a great experience, if not a completely exhausting one. I don't know a lot of people who are into books like I am, so to be around so many bibliophiles was amazing. Usually, reading and books is the 'other' or 'extra' thing in your life. At BEA I could talk to people about books and blogging and never find out what they do for a living or anything. There are so few opportunities where books take center stage, so I enjoyed my time there and can't wait for next year.


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