Thursday, September 27, 2012

Banned Book Week Giveaway Hop : Win an Elizabeth Scott or John Green Book

John Green or Elizabeth Scott Audiobook/E-Book Giveaway
Check the list in the bottom to hop on to the next blog !

Starting September 30th  is banned book week. Check out  the list of top 100  frequently challenged books here.

This week, I'm giving away an audio book or Kindle edition of any John Green or Elizabeth Scott novel.  Scott's  Living Dead Girl was challenged in Illinois school for having inappropriate subject matter and Green's Looking For Alaska was banned in Tennessee just 4 months ago because of a single non-graphic sex scene. While these authors aren't on the frequently challenged list  they are both authors who write amazing stories and I don't believe there books should have been banned.

***The Rafflecopter is going pear-shaped in Firefox. Please use Internet Explorer or Google Chrome until we fix it.****

Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Looking for Alaska
Paper Towns
The Fault in Our Stars
Something, Maybe
Living Dead Girl
Stealing Heaven
Perfect You
The Unwritten Rule
Love You Hate You Miss You
As I Wake
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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Audiobook Review : Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

  • Published : August 31st 2010
  • Publisher : HarperTeen
  • Genre : Paranormal/Romance
  • Audiobook Length : 8 hours 40 minutes
Synopsis: Evie's always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she's falling for a shape-shifter, and she's the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours.
But Evie's about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.
So much for normal.

Evie, the heroine of Paranormalcy has spent most of her life working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, a government organization  chasing after and  "bagging and tagging" dangerous Paranormals; using nothing but her skills to see through glamours  and her Taser.  Evie is painted as your average strong who can fend for herself against some pretty scary creatures

Oh, and she likes pink.

For some reason her preference for a pink taser and pink leather boots seemed to go hand in hand with Claudia Gray's "I'm Not Like Other Girls post.

Follow me on this, not only is Evie not like other girls but  she is exactly like other girls. Evie has spent her entire life living in the walls of the IPCA with  only paranormals and government workers to keep her company. Her only real connection to the world of her teenage peers is through her favorite TV  teen drama Easton Heights, teen magazines and movies

Her personality reflects her 'media-saturated' image of what a teenage girl is supposed to be and it works for her. This creates a level of optimism and enthusiasm in the character as well as some tension concerning her future.  Evie starts to realize how closed in her life is. Can she have  a life outside IPCA ? Is she even allowed to ? I liked how Evie's actions and emotions are examined. When tragedy strikes she realizes her obsession with shopping and being a normal teen might not be the only important thing. Evie also spends quite a few times realizing it might be time for her to grow out of  her selfishness and teenage indulgences.

In the midst of this Evie begins crushing on Lend, an unusual shape shifting  teenage boy who just happens  to also be a prisoner at IPCA.  As the relationship between Lend and Evie grows so does the mystery surrounding Evie's true destiny and the mysterious deaths of several paranormals. Throw in a cryptic prophecy , tricky faeries and teen angst and you've got a fun, simple and sweet paranormal romance.

The audiobook is narrated by Emily Eiden, she is a great actress and took Evie's personality to heart. Her interpretation of Evie actually sounded like a teenage girl  and seemed inspired by Cher from Clueless. As fitting as I found this interpretation it also became a little grating. Additionally Eiden's other voices sounded exactly the same. Her voices just didn't lend much to the other characters

Overall, Paranormalcy is a delightful read for any YA paranormal fan because normalcy is just a little overrated.

Sidenote : Extra points, because the heroine actually wears the dress on the front cover of the novel.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Books and Sensibility Joins Bloggiesta Ole !

This is one of my favorite book blogging activities !  Bloggiesta is a weekend long blog-a-thon and  an opportunity to meet and learn from some great bloggers. You can sign up for it here

My goals for this Bloggiesta are to:

- Type up all the handwritten reviews I have lying around
- Edit draft posts
- Schedule posts/tweets
- Work on Books and Sensibility's Indie event
- Update social media buttons

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Sense List Vol. 16

  • New Line Cinema has swept up the rights to Maggie Stiefvater's  The Raven Boys. David Heyman is also attached.

Cover Reveals
Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
Opal by Jennifer Armentrout
Infatuate by Aimme Agresti

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Book Review: What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang

  • Release Date: September 18th 2012
  • Pages: 352
  • Genre: Alternate Universe
  • Publisher: HarperCollins

Synopsis: Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .
For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything

What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang has to be one of the most hotly anticipated YA novels of 2012. This book has been on Books and Sensibility’s radar since we featured Zhang in our 25 Under 25 feature and the young author does not disappoint with her debut YA novel.

In the world of What’s Left of Me, everyone is born with two souls and in early childhood the dominate soul takes over and the recessive one fades away. It’s completely natural, normal and expected. Only, in the case of Eva and Addie, Eva is a recessive soul that never settles. She refuses to fade away and when doctors declare only Addie to be left, Eva's exostence becomes a secret only Addie know. Being a
hybrid, having two souls is illegal and considered dangerous so the sisters work together to keep their closely guarded secret. But, when Addie meets Halley, the new girl in school the girls learn that they are not the only hiding hybrids, but this knowledge may cost them everything.

Just the amazing concept and start of this novel is filled with so much nightmare fuel for me. Because Eva is the recessive soul she has no control over the body she’s been “Reduced to smoke, stripped of everything but a voice only Addie could hear”. I love how Eva describes herself as a  “ghost haunting Addie’s life.”

The closeness of the sisters is so tangible and strong in the novel. As they begin to break away from the world they know, it is interesting to see the rifts come up between the girls. Eva begins to feel guilty for not letting go and making them hybrid, while Addie begins to feel jealous when Eve learns  to control their body without her being mentally present.  And what makes this all so complicated is they have no real way of getting away from each other.

The only weakness of this novel is the society and world building. Neither one is fleshed out enough to make the world they live in feel very real. For instance, the medication they use for Eva to control the body is somewhat of an Applied Phlebotinum. If no one is a hybrid and being a hybrid means being shipped away, why would this kind of drug be around. And what would be the point of it ?

I’m curious to see how Zhang expands the concept and world of What's Left Of Me in other novels.

In the same vein of Unwind and Uglies, What’s Left of Me is about surviving and finding your voice in a society that doesn’t want you to exist.

Sidenote: I love the title of this book, but did Harper Collins realize it's also the name of a Nick Lachey song and single ?


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Subscribe ! Authors on YouTube

We don't always get to meet our favorite authors face to face, but YouTube can be a nice subsitutue. These writers aren't just stacking up loyal readers but also subscribers ! It's a place to hear your favorite authors give advice, writing insights and a little peek into their lives.

John Green
Channel: Vlogbrothers
700,000 subscribers
 I'd be remiss not to include him on this list. John's vlogs with his brother Hank have received over a million views. His videos are where he announces cover designs, book titles and more.

Maggie Stiefvater
Channel: MaggieStiefvater
3,800 subscribers
Maggie posts everything from behind the scene looks at her book trailers to her own daily vlogs. You can even check out her vlogs from last year to get an author POV of her going on tour for Forever with fellow author, Tessa Gratton.

Jackson Pearce
Channel: JacksonAPearce
12,800 subscribers
Her channel has made waves since Jackson posted a video in response to Chik-fila-, but Jackson also posts about her daily adventures in life and writing with friends. 
Her channel is home to the Sh*t Authors Say Video and the only place to see your favorite YA authors dancing to the Friends theme song.

Tahereh Mafi
Channel: Thmafi
360 subscribers
Tahereh doesn't post regularly but, this is where she announced some pretty exclusive news like her novellas and the title of Unravel Me. Plus, Tahereh has a video where she answers readers Facebook question in character.

Kiera Cass
3,300 subscribers
Kiera keeps her channel up to date with everything from little  sketches to behind the scenes book and writing information. Cass has over 100 videos on her channel, so you will have plenty to watch.

Veronica Roth

235 subscribers

Veronica hasn't updated in a year and this channel only has a few videos, but where else can you see your favorite YA author jump into a bathtub of marshmallows with her agent ?

So, who did we miss ? Who are your favorite author on YouTube ?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Book Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

  • Release Date: September 18th 2012
  • Pages: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press
  • Genre: Fantasy

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble

Opening with an Edgar Allen Poe epigraph, I immediately connect The Raven Boys with the Southern Gothic literature movement. Characterized by its broken characters, social realism and fantasy elements I've always felt this genre fits perfectly within the YA spectrum. In The Raven Boys, New York Times Bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater has cleverly combined  the Southern Gothic tradition with vivid characterization and a modern edge to  create a novel that is unlike anything I've read this year.

The plot develops nicely throughout novel in an observant third person point of view. There is a level of maturity and complexity in Stiefvater's writing. Each word is carefully crafted to form a coherent mood and image.

In  the small town of Henrietta,Virginia the sons of the wealthy who attend Aglionby Academy are known by the town as raven boys. Named so for the raven crest embroidered on their sweaters; they are like the Rich Kids of Instagram with their fancy cars, expensive clothes and propensity  for causing trouble on their parents dime.

Richard Gansey,III appears to be doing everything, but fitting into this behavior. He is the product of old Virginia money, but instead of using his wealth on parties and trouble he uses his status on an obsessive pursuit for a magical ley line he believes will lead him to the tomb of a dead Welsh king.

His journey seems endless until he and his friends meet up with Blue Sargent, the daughter of the local psychic who lives with a harem of other psychics in a small house in Henrietta. Despite her efforts, Blue doesn’t have any real  psychic abilities and teaming up with Gansey gives her the chance to be useful. Even if it means breaking her steadfast rule not to get involved with raven boys. Tangled up in all this mess is the knowledge that Blue knows Gansey will be dead within the year and it will be her fault for either loving him or killing.

I was really fascinated by the character of Gansey. Despite his eccentric, borderline obsessive hobby Gansey is very down to earth. His biggest flaw is his constant need to help everyone. Gansey believes it’s his personal responsibility to ensure of all of his friend's happiness and health. He lives in this abandoned building, and wants nothing more than for all his friends to live with him at his expense.

There is an undercurrent theme  about money and wealth in this book. Gansey’s friend and fellow raven boy, Adam Parrish, is a scholarship student from an abusive home in a trailer park who likes being Gansey’s friend, but refuses to take any of his handouts. Seeing this battle of wills between Adam and Gansey is a struggle that adds a layer of tension to the story. Especially when Gansey nonchalantly  throws money to fix a problem without realizing how it affects others. And at times it is hard to pick sides because Adam is a little too prideful and Gansey is a little too charitable.

Towards the end the scenes and revelations were starting to come all at once and the last half felt claustrophobic with plot. The ending is simply amazing, it’s both a nice resolution and spine chilling cliffhanger that leaves you on the edge of the page.

The Raven Boys cleverly combines social issues with a delightfully gothic plot and a lush fantasy story. It is easily one of my favorite books of the year.

* Received galley from Scholastic at Book Expo America

Monday, September 10, 2012

Books and Sensibility One Year Blogaversary Gift-a-way

The book blogging community is a community known for passing along and sharing great books. To celebrate making it one year, we want to have a gift-a-way for all of our followers !  We are giving away three awesome prizes to pass along the love.
1. Box Of ARCs

The Box of Arcs contains ARCs we have already read and reviewed, as well as one to pass along 

I Hunt Killers by Barry Liga
Pushing The Limits by Katie McGarry
Origin by Jessica Khoury
Summer and Bird by Katherine Catmull  (to pass along)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

2. Blogversary Swag Bag

Daughter of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor Sampler
The Diviners by Libba Bray Sampler
Daimon by Jennifer Armentrout (Lux Series .5)

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3. Blogarversary ARC Gift Bag

Beautiful Lies (ARC)
Skylark (Signed ARC)

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Books and Sensibility One Year Blogaversary


Sweetapolita's Bakery Style Vanilla Cupcakes

Let me preface this by saying I remember a moment when I was around 14 years old  in Borders buying a book for a road trip. I remember looking through the YA shelves and thinking about how sad I was going to be when I was an "adult" and couldn't read YA anymore.

The first banner !
Fast foward 8 years later when I first came up with the idea to start a blog because I wanted to post my thoughts on Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones series. I started the blog and posted some articles on the recent YA book phenomena thinking no one would ever read it and that I was  being so original.

Then Kat told me about a call to promote  book blogs at , a popular bookish tumblr. We were lucky enough to be one of the first 15 blogs to get a shout out ! (PS. Just realized Alexa Loves Books is also on there and I would later meet her in line at BEA, what are the chances ?)

I clicked around on Novels Days  and then started exploring her scrolling side bar, then I joined  the Book Blog Ning where I learned about book memes and publishers. Let me tell you, I had no idea that such a community existed and since then it has been a never ending journey. I was flabbergasted by all the book blogs waiting to be explored on Waiting on Wednesday and In My Mail Box. Suddenly my non-existent bookshelf became a toppling TBR pile.

If you would have asked me a year ago if I thought I would be going to a NYC book conference, trekking  to book signings and meeting with other book lovers I would have never believed it.

Despite the drama and controversy the book blogging community, it has a lot to offer and is one I’m happy to be apart of it. Here is to another year !

Thanks to all the followers, readers, fellow bloggers and publishers who have helped make this a year to remember. Here is to many more.

Most Inspiring Book Blogs
These are a mix between the first blogs I started following  and continue to read today and those who I hope to stick around and learn more from.

My Favorite Post
We all have those good, bad and ugly book post Here is a list of some of my favorite ones from Books and Sensibility

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Book Review : The Unnaturalist by Tiffany Trent

  • Release Date: August 14th 2012
  • Pages: 305
  • Genre: Fantasy/Steampunk
  • Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Synopsis: Vespa Nyx wants nothing more than to spend the rest of her life cataloging Unnatural creatures in her father’s museum, but as she gets older, the requirement to become a lady and find a husband is looming large. Syrus Reed’s Tinker family has always served and revered the Unnaturals from afar, but when his family is captured to be refinery slaves, he finds that his fate may be bound up with Vespa’s—and with the Unnaturals.As the danger grows, Vespa and Syrus find themselves in a tightening web of deception and intrigue. At stake may be the fate of New London—and the world
I've been buzzing about this book since I went to a steampunk event with Tiffany Trent back in April. Naturally, when I saw this book tour on Southern Book Bloggers I couldn't resist the opprotunity to participate.

The Unnaturalist just happens to be the third book I've started reading that falls into this genre of  part steampunk part magic. The other two books being The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kitteredge and Skylark by Meagan Spooner. In these novels, possessing magic is considered taboo and evil ; science order are upheld and rule the land. Each of these books handles the genre differently and The Unnaturalists  takes a more historical alternate univese approach.

The Unnaturalist is the story of Vespa Nyx,  whose passion is working in The Museum of Unnatural History, cataloging the unnaturals--magical creatures from the woods beyond the city. Her ultimate goal is to be a pendant, a scientific scholar, but that seems pretty impossible as there hasn't been a female pendant in 500 years and she has the task of finding a husband in her near future.

And then she meets Syrus Reed, a 13-year-old Tinker, the  race of people who live outside the city in railroad cars trying to keep what little magic they can alive. When he comes for her, she learns more about herself and the unnaturals than she ever bargained for.

The writing in this novel is imaginative,Trent has spent time building New London,  the city and society in which Vespa lives. Her descriptions of the landscape are lush and vivid. The society is well thought out. Logic and Rationality are the pillars of this alternate world and Curie and Darwin are considered patron saints.

This book apart uses of an alternating third person POV for Syrus and first person POV for Vespa. I'm thinking this is a new trend. The only other book I've seen this in is The City's Son by Tom Pollock and it always kind of throws me for a loop.

The story and plot left something to be desired from.Overall there was no real tension or stakes in the novel. Having magic or being a witch is considered horrible in this world, babies who they even think are magic are left outside the city walls, so I didn't understand how Vespa didn't seem to upset to learn she is a witch, she doesn't seem to have any real fears about using magic.

Vespa's love interest kept changing personalities and names so much it was giving me whiplash, but I'll call him Pendant Lumin since that is how he was introduced to us. He wasn't all that interesting and their relationship bordered on instalove. And I mean for a couple's whose surnames mean  night and day in Latin I expected them to have some kind of chemistry.

I think the story is really with Syrus he is the most dynamic character, but he pretty much got shafted at the end of the day. This is the first in a series, but the book ties up it's plot in the end, so I'm not sure what the next book will be about. In an interview, Trent said the next book will focus on  Syrus, so I'm curious to see how that plays out.

The Unnaturalists is a rich story and great for fans of alternate worlds or looking for a YA steampunk-esque read.

*ARC courtesy of Southern Book Bloggers.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Book Review : Origin by Jessica Khoury

  • Publication Date: September 4th 2012
  • Pages: 393
  • Genre: Science Fiction 
  • Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin
Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home—and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life.
Going into Origin I was excited for one big reason; this is a stand alone novel. Since I started blogging the only non-contemporary stand alone novel I've read is Entwined by Heather Dixon and that was a while ago.

When we are first introduced to the Pia, the immortal girl raised and created by scientist, I couldn't help getting anxious. I was excited to see how this girl's unusual story could be told in a single book format. It's a different experience reading a book knowing there is only one chance to meet  and grow with  the characters and Origin holds up pretty well.

 Pia's world is confined to Little Cam, a secret research compound hidden deep in the Amazon jungle. Pia is the first of her kind, an immortal race whose origin (title drop !) is found in the secrets and stories of the elysia flower. When an Ai'oan boy, Eio, from the outside finds a way to free her from her caged in life, Pia learns the truth about her destiny and the life she thought was hers.

The novel does a good job of crafting this stoic and rational world of the Little Cam compound and how it contrast with the chaotic and energetic lives of the Ai'oa tribe.  Usually claustrophobic settings don't work for me but there was so much description and intricacy to this jungle setting that I didn't notice how little movement there is.

I was mostly drawn to the supporting characters because they have the most stakes in the plot, even more so than Pia. They have  immediate sacrifices, hopes and aspirations that rely on Pia creating the next generation of immortals. Due to the nature of Pia's condition (being immortal) at times hard to relate to her because there is no immediacy. This concept is explored in the novel by Pia and is one of the reason a contrast like Eio is necessary to propel her story forward.

It's also worth noting that this novel is based entirely on the Science Fiction genre. It is based on the question of"what if" you could live forever. It stands out because it doesn't focus on society or a big brother like in most Speculative and Dystopians

Origin is a refreshing change to the current YA landscape and I certainly hope it starts a trend of more stand-a-lones.This novel is perfect for those suffering from series fatigue and looking for a science fiction novel with a twist of romance.

Book Trailer


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