Sunday, September 30, 2012

Stacking the YA Shelves (Sept. 30, 2012)



Tynga of Tynga's Reviews hosts this meme to spotlight the books we receive each week. I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the wonderful books everyone gets.

This was another quiet week for me. I didn't buy a book. However, I did add two books to my stack.
After seeing so much about Splintered by A. G. Howard, I had to go to NetGalley and request a review copy for myself. Luckily, this book won't be released until Jan. 1, 2013 which will give me time to read the books already on my review stack before it is released.

I also took advantage of the special on Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs. This one is free at Amazon until Oct. 1. I read this one earlier but donated my hardcover copy to my high school media center. Now I have a Kindle copy to keep. 

I really should buy the sequel Sweet Shadows but am on a book buying ban until I catch up on all my October review books which would be a fine goal except that I pre-ordered a number of books that will be arriving in the next few weeks. 

What did you add to your stack this week?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

ARC Review: League of Strays by L. B. Schulman

League of Strays
Author: L. B. Schulman
Publication: Amulet Books (October 1, 2012)

Description: This suspenseful debut follows a group of teenage misfits in their delicious quest for revenge on those who have wronged them at their high school. When a mysterious note appears in Charlotte’s mailbox inviting her to join the League of Strays, she’s hopeful it will lead to making friends. What she discovers is a motley crew of loners and an alluring, manipulative ringleader named Kade. Kade convinces the group that they need one another both for friendship and to get back at the classmates and teachers who have betrayed them. But Kade has a bigger agenda. In addition to vandalizing their school and causing fights between other students, Kade’s real intention is a dangerous plot that will threaten lives and force Charlotte to choose between her loyalty to the League and her own conscience.

My Thoughts: This story could be subtitled "The Pied Piper Returns." Charlotte has moved to a new school for her senior year because her father was offered at partnership at a new law firm. She was more than willing to start over and get away from her nemesis Tiffany who had been teasing her since kindergarten. Unfortunately, Tiffany's family moves too and they are back together at school. Charlotte is having trouble making new friends when she receives an invitation to be part of a club called The League of Strays.

The club is the idea of Kade Harlin who is handsome and charismatic and almost hypnotizes Charlotte with his beauty. Kade has assembled a crew of loners - Zoe who wears Army gear and is dealing with an alcoholic mother, Nora who is trying to be the perfect students to make up for the suicide of her older sister, and Richie who is gay. Kade convinces them to share their life stories with each other and decides that they will band together to have revenge on those who have done them wrong. 

But the revenge plans quickly escalate beyond Charlotte's comfort level. Their first effort to get back at a teacher who is giving Nora a C- in Phy. Ed. and thus wrecking her perfect GPA turns into a major act of vandalism and causes the teacher to resign. Charlotte's conscience is bothering her but she is still so mesmerized by Kade that she goes along.

When the second plan materializes she is even more troubled. Kade decides that they need to get revenge on David who has been taunting Richie by making it look like Dave is gay. Dave ends up getting beaten up by one of his football teammates and getting a broken arm. Charlotte has even more qualms of conscience but can't believe that Kade could have known what would happen.

This is a story about peer pressure and the desire for friendship that is carried way too far. Kade is a Pied Piper-like character who convinces the others to go along with his plans. It takes quite a while for Charlotte to get out from under his spell. It takes long enough that she loses the chance to attend a prestigious music school because Kade becomes more important to her than her music. 

I was suspicious of Kade from the beginning. The facts that he was seeing a therapist, had a parole officer, and had the high school principal watching him closely sent up red flags for me. But it was also easy to see how he could convince a group of loners to become his gang. He offered them a sense of belonging and friendship that they were all hungry for. Too bad it was only because of his deep-laid sociopathic plans.

This was an engaging and compelling story that had me quickly turning the pages to find out what happens next. Fans of contemporary fiction will be the best audience for this one and I look forward to sharing it with students at my high school media center.

Favorite Quote:
"If the music thing doesn't pan out, you could be a lawyer," he said. "But you'll have to toughen up if you want to be successful."

He walked away, leaving me to wonder how a person could practice insensitivity. I waited until he was out of sight, then kicked the door shut.
I received this eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Memes: League of Strays by L. B. Schulman

Happy Friday everybody!!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.


The book I am featuring this week is League of Strays by L. B. Schulman. I got this contemporary story from NetGalley. Here is the description:
This suspenseful debut follows a group of teenage misfits in their delicious quest for revenge on those who have wronged them at their high school. When a mysterious note appears in Charlotte’s mailbox inviting her to join the League of Strays, she’s hopeful it will lead to making friends. What she discovers is a motley crew of loners and an alluring, manipulative ringleader named Kade. Kade convinces the group that they need one another both for friendship and to get back at the classmates and teachers who have betrayed them. But Kade has a bigger agenda. In addition to vandalizing their school and causing fights between other students, Kade’s real intention is a dangerous plot that will threaten lives and force Charlotte to choose between her loyalty to the League and her own conscience.
Beginning:
I pedaled down the side of West Reynolds Avenue, relying on passing headlights to lead my way.
Friday 56:
"Maybe as a group, we could talk to someone about this. Someone who cares..." I found myself suggesting.
With today's major emphasis on bullying in schools, I thought this one sounded like an interesting story.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

ARC Review: Dearly, Beloved by Lia Habel

Dearly, Beloved
Author: Lia Habel
Publication: Del Rey (September 25, 2012)

Description: Can the living coexist with the living dead
 
That’s the question that has New Victorian society fiercely divided ever since the mysterious plague known as “The Laz” hit the city of New London and turned thousands into walking corpses. But while some of these zombies are mindless monsters, hungry for human flesh, others can still think, speak, reason, and control their ravenous new appetites.
 
Just ask Nora Dearly, the young lady of means who was nearly kidnapped by a band of sinister zombies but valiantly rescued by a dashing young man . . . of the dead variety.
 
Nora and her savior, the young zombie soldier Bram Griswold, fell hopelessly in love. But others feel only fear and loathing for the reanimated dead. Now, as tensions grow between pro- and anti-zombie factions, battle lines are being drawn in the streets. And though Bram is no longer in the New Victorian army, he and his ex-commando zombie comrades are determined to help keep the peace. That means taking a dangerous stand between The Changed, a radical group of sentient zombies fighting for survival, and The Murder, a masked squad of urban guerrillas hellbent on destroying the living dead. But zombies aren’t the only ones in danger: Their living allies are also in The Murder’s crosshairs, and for one vengeful zealot, Nora Dearly is the number one target.
 
As paranoia, prejudice, and terrorist attacks threaten to plunge the city into full-scale war, Nora’s scientist father and his team continue their desperate race to unlock the secrets of “The Laz” and find a cure. But their efforts may be doomed when a mysterious zombie appears bearing an entirely new strain of the illness—and the nation of New Victoria braces for a new wave of the apocalypse.
 
Lia Habel’s spellbinding, suspenseful sequel to Dearly, Departed takes her imaginative mash-up of period romance, futuristic thriller, and zombie drama to a whole new level of innovative and irresistible storytelling.


My Thoughts: This story continues the adventures of Nora Dearly and her beloved zombie Bram Griswold. Tensions are very high between the normal humans and the intelligent zombies. We see the story from a variety of viewpoints. Nora and Bram take the lead as does Nora's friend Pamela, Michael the aristocrat boy who is obsessed with Nora, and Laura who is a young woman who is part of the new zombie packs. Vespertine, Nora's school rival and reluctant aristocrat, also takes the lead for a few chapters. 

Dr. Dearly is still trying to find a cure for "the Laz" and is working almost non-stop to do it. This is complicated by the recent discovery of a zombie with a new strain of the disease. The vaccinations that were supposed to make the human population more tolerant of the zombie population are not effective against the new strain. Then there are the roving bands of young aristocrats who are targeting zombies and zombie sympathizers while wearing bird masks to ratchet up the tension even more. 

Smoke, the zombie with the new strain of "the Laz," quickly becomes the target for all sides of this conflict. Dr. Dearly wants him for research, the army wants him dead, the pro-zombie forces want to save him just because he is a zombie, and some other shadowy entity wants him for unknown reasons. Needless to say, Nora and Bram are soon neck deep in protecting Smoke.

This story is also a romance. While Nora and Bram are the most unlikely lovers, their love for each other is strong. Nora is a high class young lady who happens to be immune to "the Laz." Bram is lower class and from a Punk background. Then there is the whole zombie thing. Even the most cared for zombies have a limited time before the disease destroys them. Bram and Nora are looking at being able to be together for three years or less.

The story is a complex one that is woven together by the various narrators. I thought it was fascinating. I love the combination of Victorian morals, fantastic devices, and zombies. The writing is compelling and engaging. The characters are all distinct individuals who have their own realistic motivations for their actions. I still don't know if I really understand Lord Allistair's role in the whole story. What is he really doing in his genetics laboratory? Did he create "the Laz"and, if so, why?

I think young readers will enjoy this story. I can't wait to share it with them. 

Favorite Quote:
She narrowed her eyes and stepped between my legs, her skirt brushing my knees. "If that slug lays a single finger on any part of me, you have my permission to rip his head off and drink long and well from the blood that will spurt from his neck stump like a fountain. Okay?
I got this eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

WoW: Fire Season by David Weber

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. She has a linky widget at her site each week for your post and to make it easy to find posts by other people.

The purpose of the meme is to spotlight books that we are eagerly anticipating. It is fun to take a look at what others are waiting for. I have noticed that it has expanded my wishlist though. Be warned!

I can hardly wait for Fire Season by David Weber and Jane Lindskold to arrive on Oct. 2. I am a longtime fan of Weber's Honor Harrington series and was pleased when he began writing young adult prequels to the series that starred one of the most fascinating alien characters in literature. I enjoyed the first book in this series - A Beautiful Friendship - in which humans and treecats meet for the first time. 

Here is the description of this book:
LOYALTIES TESTED BY FIRE

Fire weather... That’s what the treecats call those rare seasons when the slightest spark can set aflame the the vast green reaches they call home.

Teenager Stephanie Harrington rapidly learns just how deadly those fires can be. Guided by her treecat companion, Lionheart, Stephanie and her good friend Karl Zivonik venture into the heart of a raging inferno to rescue twin treecats put at risk by human carelessness. Only the trio’s absolute trust for each other stands between them and disaster.

But Sphinx isn’t the only thing ripe for burning. Stephanie has fallen hard for new arrival to Sphinx, Anders Whittaker. When Anders vanishes without a trace, Stephanie is at the forefront of the search. Then a lightning strike sets the Copperwall Mountains aflame and as a provisional ranger she is ordered to her post.

Will Stephanie choose to honor the claims of her planet or those of her heart?

           
A Novel in the New Space Adventure Series Set in the Universe of Honor Harrington—

Sequel to the Hal Clement Award-Winning Novel

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: Dearly, Beloved by Lia Habel

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


This week my teaser comes from Dearly, Beloved by Lia Habel. This is the sequel to Dearly, Departed which I loved despite the fact that the cast of characters included zombies. Here is the description for this latest book:
Can the living coexist with the living dead?

That’s the question that has New Victorian society fiercely divided ever since the mysterious plague known as “The Laz” hit the city of New London and turned thousands into walking corpses. But while some of these zombies are mindless monsters, hungry for human flesh, others can still think, speak, reason, and control their ravenous new appetites.

Just ask Nora Dearly, the young lady of means who was nearly kidnapped by a band of sinister zombies but valiantly rescued by a dashing young man . . . of the dead variety.

Nora and her savior, the young zombie soldier Bram Griswold, fell hopelessly in love. But others feel only fear and loathing for the reanimated dead. Now, as tensions grow between pro- and anti-zombie factions, battle lines are being drawn in the streets. And though Bram is no longer in the New Victorian army, he and his ex-commando zombie comrades are determined to help keep the peace. That means taking a dangerous stand between The Changed, a radical group of sentient zombies fighting for survival, and The Murder, a masked squad of urban guerrillas hellbent on destroying the living dead. But zombies aren’t the only ones in danger: Their living allies are also in The Murder’s crosshairs, and for one vengeful zealot, Nora Dearly is the number one target.

As paranoia, prejudice, and terrorist attacks threaten to plunge the city into full-scale war, Nora’s scientist father and his team continue their desperate race to unlock the secrets of “The Laz” and find a cure. But their efforts may be doomed when a mysterious zombie appears bearing an entirely new strain of the illness—and the nation of New Victoria braces for a new wave of the apocalypse.

Lia Habel’s spellbinding, suspenseful sequel to Dearly, Departed takes her imaginative mash-up of period romance, futuristic thriller, and zombie drama to a whole new level of innovative and irresistible storytelling.
Teaser:
I wanted to see the rest of the remaining world--from the glacier-locked Wastelands of the Far North to the deserts of the South. All of it.

Monday, September 24, 2012

State of the Stack (Sept. 24, 2012)

This is my monthly State of the Stack post. It is my way to keep track of my review books and to hopefully reduce the stack that I have waiting for me. I take a look at my review commitments on the last Monday of each month. Please feel free to join in and let me know the state of your stack.

Here is my Review Books Spreadsheet. Yellow highlighted books are ones past their publication date that I still haven't read and reviewed. I use pink highlights for reviews due in even numbered months so that I can see at a glance how many I have for each month. Ideally, this keeps me from over-committing to review books.  



My Physical Review Pile


My physical review stack has grown to nineteen books this month - seven are adult and twelve are young adult. I have a few that are past their release date and am having trouble finding time to read and review them. My reading pace has really slowed down now that it is September and school has started again. 

My Kindle Review Pile

My Kindle review pile is shown in the order that I received them.
The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzab (Oct. 9)
Thursday at Noon by William F. Brown (1989)
Dearly, Beloved by Lia Habel (Sept. 25)
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken (Dec. 28)
Dark Star by Bethany Frenette (Oct. 23)
Beta by Rachel Cohn (Oct. 16)
manicpixiedreamgirl by Tom Leveen (April 23, 2013)
Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson (March 12, 2013)
The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke (Oct. 2)
A Royal Pain by Megan Mulry (Nov. 1)
Running Wild by Linda Howard and Linda Jones (Nov. 27)
The Lost Prince (Oct. 30)
League of Strays by L. B. Schulman (Oct. 1)
Foxfire by Karen Kincy (Oct. 8)
Shades of Temptation by Virna DePaul (Sept. 18)
Kept by Shawntelle Madison (Nov. 27)

I Read This Month

These are listed in the order I read them. Links go to my reviews for all that have been posted already. Otherwise, the date the review is scheduled for is listed.




I Added These Books

These are listed in the order I received them. Links go to Amazon. Date received and date published are listed in parentheses.
I Am Currently Reading


Shades of Temptation by Virna DePaul which was released on Sept. 18 (even though I had it on my list as a Sept. 25 release). This is a romantic suspense title from Harlequin that I got from NetGalley.


My slow reading pace has burned up all the cushion I built up over the summer. I am falling behind in my goal of reading books before their release date. October doesn't look like it will help either because I have seventeen books on my stack with October release dates and am not reading that fast. 

Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Stacking the YA Shelves (Sept. 23, 2012)


Tynga of Tynga's Reviews hosts this meme to spotlight the books we receive each week. I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the wonderful books everyone gets.

I more than made up for last week's small mailbox with this week's monster haul. Here is what I got.

First, I added these to my Kindle.
The whole Agency series was available for $2.99 each. I added all three for less than the cost of one hardcover. I got A Spy in the House, The Body at the Tower, and The Traitor in the Tunnel. All are written by Y. S. Lee. I have been meaning to read these books because I like historical mysteries and now have them in one convenient location.
I also added Julie Kagawa's novella Iron's Prophecy. I will get the compilation of all the Iron Fey novellas someday but this is the only one from the compilation that I don't already have. 

I added these books to my print collection:
Changeling by Philippa Gregory has been on my radar for a while. I had a chance to get a used copy from Amazon Marketplace for a reasonable price this week. 

I also got A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan. I hadn't heard of this book before I saw it on someone's blog but was intrigued by the premise of waking after being cryofrozen for 62 years and finding a vastly different world than the one you left. It sounds like the science fiction equivalent of Rip Van Winkle and Sleeping Beauty.
I also bought a copy of Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier this week because I found a deal at Amazon Marketplace. 

Two new releases also hit my mailbox this week. I got The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater which I am looking forward to getting signed in October and The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson. 
The final book I got this week was from NetGalley for review. I was approved for Cleopatra Ascending by Maureen Lipinski which sounds just amazing.

What did you add to your stack this week?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

ARC Review: The Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost

The Paladin Prophecy
Author: Mark Frost
Publication: Random House Books for Young Readers (September 25, 2012)

Description: Readers of I Am Number Four, The Maze Runner, and Legend will love this exciting new adventure series by the co-creator of the groundbreaking television show Twin Peaks, with its unique combination of mystery, heart-pounding action, and the supernatural.

Will West is careful to live life under the radar. At his parents' insistence, he's made sure to get mediocre grades and to stay in the middle of the pack on his cross-country team. Then Will slips up, accidentally scoring off the charts on a nationwide exam.

Now Will is being courted by an exclusive prep school . . . and followed by men driving black sedans. When Will suddenly loses his parents, he must flee to the school. There he begins to explore all that he's capable of--physical and mental feats that should be impossible--and learns that his abilities are connected to a struggle between titanic forces that has lasted for millennia.


My Thoughts: This story had lots of familiar elements - a young man who has been educated by his parents to keep his abilities secret, frequent moves without explanation, a chance to attend a special school for exceptional kids, unknown enemies who seem to be everywhere. The way Frost wove them together made a compelling and very readable tale. 

Will West had been following his parents' instruction to be average but he blew it when he scored off the charts on a standardized test given to all the kids in the US. Now he is being followed by men in black sedans with heavily frosted glass. He's been recruited and offered a full scholarship to the Center - a secretive school in rural Wisconsin. His mother is acting strangely and he isn't sure his father has been affected too. He runs - with the aide of an Australian guy named Dave in a hot car - to the school. Will's father had given him a variety of rules to live by which Will wrote in a notebook. He took it and a picture of his parents when he ran. The rules help him keep his parents close and help him make decisions in dangerous situations.

Once he arrives at the school he finds that he hasn't completely outrun the bad guys. He makes friends with the kids who share his pod - Brooke, Elise, Ajay and Nick - and makes an enemy of Lyle who is the Provost Marshall of his dorm. He finds that there is a secret society in the school that has some evil plans. They are in league with some Others who have been locked into a prison in the NeverWas as a result of a war long ago. Now those Others are trying to escape and take over the Earth again.

Dave tells Will that he is his guardian angel but has a limited number of times he can offer assistance. He also tells Will that he is an initiate for the side of good in this epic war between Good and Evil. Will and his friends have a number of adventures as they try to find out who the members of the secret society are and what their goal is. 

I thought Will and his friends were well-developed characters who had unique strengths and abilities. I was especially fond of Nick who provided a sense of comic relief when things were especially tense but who also was incredibly brave and loyal. And I really want some of the technology the author had in the story. I want a tablet like the ones described with its avatar. 

This book was a good start to a series that I think will be very popular - especially with my middle grade boys. I can't wait to share it with them. I was glad to add it to my next book order.

Favorite Quote:
This is where I live now.He'd faced this moment many times before. He was used to starting over.
But never alone. Never without my parents.Now that he was here - and safe - the enormity of his less came rushing at him. He wrestled those feelings down before the anguish overwhelmed him.
I'm not going to grieve. I'm not going to give whoever did this to us the satisfaction. I know they're still alive and I'm going to fight until I find them.He'd been dropped into this new life now. He had to stay strong and keep moving forward. That what his parents would want him to do.
I got this one from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Memes: The Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost

Happy Friday everybody!!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.


This week I am featuring The Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost. I got this mystery/thriller from NetGalley. Here is the description:
Readers of I Am Number Four, The Maze Runner, and Legend will love this exciting new adventure series by the co-creator of the groundbreaking television show Twin Peaks, with its unique combination of mystery, heart-pounding action, and the supernatural.

Will West is careful to live life under the radar. At his parents' insistence, he's made sure to get mediocre grades and to stay in the middle of the pack on his cross-country team. Then Will slips up, accidentally scoring off the charts on a nationwide exam.

Now Will is being courted by an exclusive prep school . . . and followed by men driving black sedans. When Will suddenly loses his parents, he must flee to the school. There he begins to explore all that he's capable of--physical and mental feats that should be impossible--and learns that his abilities are connected to a struggle between titanic forces that has lasted for millennia.
Beginning:
The Importance of an Orderly Mind.

Will West began each day with that thought even before he opened his eyes.
Friday 56:
As Will watched, one of the men brought out a steel carbonfiber canister the size of a thermos, just like the one Will had seen that morning in the window of the black sedan.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

ARC Review: The Assault by Brian Falker

The Assault
Author: Brian Falkner
Publication: Random House Books for Young Readers (September 25, 2012)

Description: It's 2030, and humanity is losing the war against alien invaders. A Band of Brothers meets Ender's Game in this sci-fi military thriller.

A team of six has been chosen . . .

. . . to infiltrate the enemy's headquarters in the heart of the Australian Outback. The six teens have been modified to look like aliens. They have spent years mastering alien culture so that they can talk, act—even think—like their enemies. But from the start, the recon mission goes terribly wrong. It's only when they are close to discovering the shocking truth of the aliens' plans that the team is forced to ask:

Who among them is a traitor?


My Thoughts: This science fiction war story was filled with action. A group of six young people have been trained to infiltrate the headquarters of the alien invaders who said they were coming to seek refuge from their dying planet but who now want to take over the whole Earth. This is the story of how they managed to get into the fortress and what they found when they got there.

The leader of the group is sixteen-year-old Lieutenant Ryan Chisnall. The other group members are his Sergeant Holly Brogan, Specialist Steven Huntington, Specialist Janos Panyoczki, Private Blake Wilton, and Private Trianne Price. Each of the members of the team has a specialty. Price is also called Phantom because she can move with so much stealth, Wilton is a sharp shooter, and Panyoczki is called Monster because he is so strong. 

Chisnall has picked all of them for their strengths but he doesn't know that he has also picked one team member who is a traitor and is working for the aliens. Chisnall has to figure out who the traitor is after Huntington is killed and some important equipment is damaged. But he also has to complete his mission and get to the center of Uluru to find out what the aliens are hiding.

This book is filled with military jargon and lots of various weapons I found that there was a glossary at the end of the story that would have been more helpful had it been at the beginning. There isn't much character development in the story. The whole thing is written as though it was pieced together from mission reports and interviews with the survivors. It begins with a prologue that sets the stage and ends with an End Note that tells what happened to the characters of this book after this adventure ends.

This is essentially a war story. We don't really learn very much about the aliens who have invaded the Earth. While they talk about how our team has to learn the culture and language of the aliens, the actual aliens don't act much different that any human soldier would. Their "alien-ness" is conveyed by their physical appearance which includes a differently shaped skull, different skin tones, and different things they like to eat. They are supposed to have DNA that is 99% the same as human DNA.

I think this story will appeal most to those who really like war stories with descriptions of weapons and battles. I would have liked more character development and for the aliens to be more alien.

Favorite Quote:
He took a deep breath and expelled it slowly, humming to himself as he did. Panic, not the circumstances, was the killer. That was what his combat instructor had rammed home again and again. Fear is your friend, keeping you sharp. 
I got this one from Random House Books for Young Readers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Book Review: Otherkin by Nina Berry

Otherkin
Author: Nina Berry
Publication: Kensington (July 31, 2012)

Description (from Amazon): In her fresh, inventive debut, Berry introduces a teenage feline shapeshifter coming to terms with her strange powers - the first in a mesmerizing new series that deals with such teen issues as body image and the strength to be found in friendship.

Description (from GoodReads): I thought I knew myself. Then I met Caleb.

Dez is a good girl who does as she’s told and tries not to be noticed.
Then she rescues a boy from a cage, and he tells her secrets about herself.


Now inside her burns a darkness that will transform her.

Everything is about to change -- and neither Caleb, nor the Otherkin, nor those who hunt them are prepared for what Dez will unleash.



My Thoughts: OTHERKIN was a fascinating story about a young girl named Dez who finds that she can shift and become a tiger. Dez has scoliosis and has worn a rigid plastic brace around her body for two years. She feels like a freak and her condition has made her socially isolated. She is embarrassed by the brace and doesn't want anyone to know about it. When she is asked to a dance by a cute young guy, she accepts but panics and runs when he puts his hands on her waist and feels the brace. When she gets home she takes off the brace and feels both rage and embarrassment. Those emotions cause her to make her first shift into a tiger. She doesn't even have time to be surprised by this development before she is darted by a young man standing outside her window.

When Dez awakens, she discovers that she is back in human form and is in a cage with silver bars. A young man in a neighboring cage talks with her but his conversation is more baffling than enlightening as he assumes she knows all about being a shapeshifter. She learns that she has been captured by the Tribunal - a secret organization which has taken on the task of destroying all the otherkin. Dez learns that her fellow prisoner Caleb is able to manipulate shadow. The two of them manage to escape but know that the Tribunal will soon be on their trail.

Caleb knows of a potential safe place that the two of them can go. He knows of a secret school run by another shadow caller named Morfael. The two of them manage to find the school but then have to pass Morfael's test and be accepted by the local council made up of representatives of the remaining shifter groups - eagles, wolves, bears, cats, and rats. Dez quickly learns that each shifter group is separate and hates the others. They won't work together to destroy the Tribunal even though Caleb and Dez know where their headquarters is. However, they do agree to let Caleb and Dez stay at the school.

Dez learns a lot at the school as she meets one representative from each of the shifter groups who are her fellow students. She also learns that she is the only tiger shifter known to be alive though it is unusual for her to be in North America. Luckily, her Wiccan mom adopted her from a Russian orphanage when she was just eighteen months old. Dez has a wonderful family relationship with her mom and stepdad. She is a strong and confident young woman. She doesn't understand the rivalries between the different shifter groups and tries to make her classmates into a team. She is teaching them that they can work together and care for each other despite what their parents have told each of them.

It is lucky that they learn to work together because the Tribunal isn't going to go away. They come to the school and capture one of the kids. After some initial reversion to old habits, Dez convinces the kids to work together to rescue their friend. 

Dez and Caleb fall in love but Dez knows that he is keeping secrets from her. Through the course of their rescue attempts she learns a lot of his secrets and also tries to uncover some of the secrets about herself. What happened to her parents? Why did she end up in a Russian orphanage? 

This was a well-written and engaging story. I loved both Dez and Caleb. The other kids at the school - November, London, Siku and Arnaldo - are also well-rounded characters though London and November are the ones we get to know best because Dez spends the most time with them. Their teacher Morfael is quite mysterious. And the villains, especially Lazar and his father Ximon, are wonderfully creepy and menacing. I do get a little tired of villains using religion to justify all the evil they do though. 

Fans of the paranormal and especially fans of shifters will enjoy this story and be looking forward to the sequel which will be coming out next February.

Favorite Quote:
"Nah, just a London thing. Can you believe the fake nose rings? Such a poser."

"How do you know they are fake?"

"Because I see her shift three times a day." When I looked blank, she rolled her eyes. "Shifting heals everything--tattoos, piercing holes, scars where losers like London like to cut themselves just to feel alive. Only thing you can change is your hair, since it's not living tissue. She'd be covered with tats of skulls, and other cliches and punctured like a pincushion if she could. But she has to settle for a bad dye job and fake piercings."

"Must be frustrating, not to be able to express herself the way she wants." I put on my coat.
I received this finished copy from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: The Assault by Brian Falkner

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
This week my teaser comes from The Assault by Brian Falkner. I got this science fiction thriller from NetGalley. Here is the description:
It's 2030, and humanity is losing the war against alien invaders. A Band of Brothers meets Ender's Game in this sci-fi military thriller.

A team of six has been chosen . . .

. . . to infiltrate the enemy's headquarters in the heart of the Australian Outback. The six teens have been modified to look like aliens. They have spent years mastering alien culture so that they can talk, act—even think—like their enemies. But from the start, the recon mission goes terribly wrong. It's only when they are close to discovering the shocking truth of the aliens' plans that the team is forced to ask:


Who among them is a traitor?
Teaser:
The pilot had tipped his jet back and was now rocketing skyward, vertically, like a rocket lifting off, hoping to leave the missiles below him. But it was not going to work. It was never going to work.

"Missiles still closing. Missiles--"

Monday, September 17, 2012

Book Blogger Confessions: Blogger Relations (Sept. 17, 2012)


Book Blogger Confessions is a new Monday meme started by Tiger at Tiger's All-Consuming Books and Karen at For What It's Worth. With Tiger moving away and changing the focus of her blogging, Pam from Midnyte Reader will be joining with Karen to host this meme. The purpose of the meme is best stated by Karen here:
"Tiger and I thought it might be time to start a meme to discuss some of the frustrations that are unique to book bloggers. What happens when the hobby you love becomes more of a chore?
This meme will appear on the first and third Mondays of the month. One of the hosts will give us a question to respond to and a linky for sharing our responses and developing community.

This week's question is: Blogger relations: Are there blogs you visit and comment on because you like their style, voice etc.(maybe you even converse with the blogger on Twitter & Facebook) but those comments are never reciprocated on your blog?. Do you get a bit offended or do you understand that they may be busy? Or do you comment just because you like a post not expecting anything in return?

First of all, I need to say that I am a bad blogger. I have been so busy since the start of this school year that I am having all I can do to keep reading and writing posts for my blog. I haven't had a chance to visit anyone else's blog for weeks. I have been quickly glancing at certain categories of blogs in my Google Reader and just marking the rest "read."

I am not at all offended when I comment on someone's blog and they don't comment back. I understand being busy. I am more likely to comment back if someone leaves me a link but I don't always have something to say. I can understand why other bloggers would feel the same way. 

When I choose to comment on a blog, it is because the writer has said something I found interesting. I don't expect reciprocity. I don't expect close relationships in my blogging life. I have enough in my real life. Any relationships I develop while blogging are jelly on the bread and butter of my other relationships.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Stacking the YA Shelves (Sept. 16, 2012)


Tynga of Tynga's Reviews hosts this meme to spotlight the books we receive each week. I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the wonderful books everyone gets.

Four books came to my house this week.
I took advantage of the HarperTeen specials to add Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin and Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi to my Kindle. I was interested in both of these titles when they were published but couldn't fit them into my reading schedule. I still don't know when I will be able to fit them into the schedule. But, at least, I will have them when I do find the time. 
I also bought a copy of Hidden by Sophie Jordan so that I could find out what happens next in this series. I have really enjoyed the first two books about dragons.

Finally, I received a copy of finished copy of Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst for review. I can't wait to read this high fantasy which sounds really amazing. Unfortunately, this one has to get in line behind all the other review books that I have to finish before the end of the month.

What did you add to your stack this week?