Sunday, February 24, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (5): The Happy Edition

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga from Tynga’s Reviews!

This week is a good week for me! :) Although I still need to pick up two packages (from UK) from the Post Office. This is my haul:


For Review:
The Shadow Girl by Jennifer Archer (Autographed ARC)
The Mimosa Tree by Antonella Preto (ARC)
The Undone Years by Shamini Flint (ARC)
Persistence of Vision by Liesel K. Hill (Paperback)
Apollyon by Jennifer L. Armentrout (ARC)

And, of course, the highlight of my week:


This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith (ARC) - oh my God. I love love love Statistical! I've been waiting for this beauty since December 2011! Ahh! I thought this day would never come... *strokes shiny, pretty cover*

The Shadow Girl + Persistence of Vision are signed to me!


For the Time Travel Challenge:


Untimed by Andy Gavin (Paperback)
Time's Twisted Arrow by Rysa Walker (signed Paperback)
The Loop by Shandy Lawson (autographed ARC)


Borrowed:


Vortex by Julie Cross - I ran into Dianne of Oops! I Read a Book Again last week!

Won:

The Sweet Dead Life by Joy Preble (ARC)
Robin in the Hood by Diane J. Reed (Paperback) - read and loved it!!


Robin in the Hood came in a big box, along with all these goodies:


Robin in the Hood - signed
Red by Taylor Swift
2 packs of Lindt Chocolate Truffles
A pair of Touch-key gloves
Enchanted Forest body lotion
Red scented candle - which smells so good!
Ruby nail polish

These two are both signed!


Swag:


Love the Apollyon guitar pick! Too bad I don't know how to play the guitar...

Big thanks to: Jennifer Archer, Claire Miller + Fremantle Press Australia, Liesel K. Hill, Kate, Joan of ARC + Spencer Hill Press, Sam Eades + Headline, Andy Gavin, Rysa Walker, Shandy Lawson, Dianne from Oops! I Read a Book Again, Joy Preble, Diane J. Reed + Michelle from Michelle Shouts Random!

That's my haul for this - and the last week - what did you get? Leave your links in the comment section! Oh, and which book should I read?

*wasn't able to post all the photos due to annoying circumstances - ahem, Blogger.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Review: Easy by Tammara Webber

Book Description via Goodreads:

Paperback, 310 pages
November 6th 2012, Berkley Trade

Rescued by a stranger.
Haunted by a secret
Sometimes, love isn’t easy…

He watched her, but never knew her. Until thanks to a chance encounter, he became her savior…

The attraction between them was undeniable. Yet the past he’d worked so hard to overcome, and the future she’d put so much faith in, threatened to tear them apart.

Only together could they fight the pain and guilt, face the truth—and find the unexpected power of love.

A groundbreaking novel in the New Adult genre, Easy faces one girl's struggle to regain the trust she's lost, find the inner strength to fight back against an attacker, and accept the peace she finds in the arms of a secretive boy.

Source: Bought

My Thoughts:

Why I picked up Easy: I've heard and read so many good things about the book. My bookish friends highly recommend it. So I tried it.

The beginning of the novel thrust me into a world of realities, where girls can be overpowered; feel threatened even in public and of course, be saved by her knight in shining armor. Jacqueline was *this* close to being raped but lucky for her, Lucas was in the area. He saved her not only from Buck, the bad guy, but also from her issues.

Jacqueline just broke up with her longtime boyfriend, Kennedy. She was hurt, still unable to move on, sad and thanks to the recent assault by Buck, threatened and scared. I liked her as a character. She was flawed and that made her seem realistic to me. She was most realistic to me during her moments of doubt, insecurity and weakness – whether it was physical or emotional weakness. The Jacqueline at the beginning of the novel was not the strong and empowered Jacqueline that I found at the end. I enjoyed reading about her character growth.

Lucas was the perfect imperfect package. Sounds ironic? Let me explain:

  • Lucas is smart. The conversations between Lucas and Jacqueline went beyond the usual conversations between characters in YA. The conversations had a touch of ‘smart wit’ that I enjoyed very much.
  • He’s an artist and for some reason he seemed more attractive that way. Who wouldn’t appreciate a person who could draw and capture the beauty of their loved one?
  • He has a big heart. I say this not only because he saved Jacqueline from a traumatic event in her life but because he was also willing to help people.
  • He’s a knight in shining armor – a lethal one. Lucas is protective of Jacqueline. I find that sweet. However, just like a protective knight, he kicks ass so intensely that he can be lethal.
  • He has dark secrets. It’s easy to fall for Lucas but it’s not that easy to get to know him, really. He is tight-lipped about his past. As the story neared the end, I got glimpses of his dark side. He’s just as vulnerable as everybody else.
  • He changed. Just like Jacqueline, the Lucas at the beginning of the novel was not the Lucas that I found at the end. He became stronger, reassessed and accepted his past and of course, found love.

The imperfection of both characters made them the perfect fictional characters for me. Flawed but real and living typical lives and finding true love.

There have been comments about Lucas being ‘everywhere’ in the novel. He has lots of jobs. Although it might seem too much for a contemporary novel to present Lucas as an all-around worker on campus, we have to keep mind that this is still fiction.

The romance between Lucas and Jacqueline was electrifyingly hot. At the beginning, despite the distance between them, I could imagine the electricity running through the air, connecting their bodies. It was natural, as if it’s meant to be. It was in no way forced or lacking. The sexual scenes were artfully done, with just the right amount details and spice to keep readers hooked and satisfied.

Easy is a powerful, electrifyingly hot and romantic New Adult novel that will keep readers emotionally attached, looking forward to every encounter between Lucas and Jacqueline and eventually, racing to the end. I highly recommend this to older teens and readers who enjoy contemporary romance, mature Young Adult and New Adult novels.

Rating:

5 Cupids = Eternal book love.
I will never, ever, ever forget this book. I highly recommend this!


Monday, February 11, 2013

Guest Post: Love Crimes + Giveaway: Robin in the Hood by Diane J. Reed

Hi everyone! So it's the month of love. To celebrate Valentine's Day, I have Diane J. Reed. She will talk about Love Crimes and her book, Robin in the Hood (YA). Stick around for an awesome giveaway!

Because I liked how the guest post was written (and formatted), I decided to just upload it and embed it here so everyone could see.


Paperback, 300 pages
October 14, 2012, Bandits Ranch

“Is it any wonder I became a bank robber?” said Robin.
But she never dreamed she’d fall in love…

15-year-old Robin McArthur thinks she has it all figured out when it comes to bilking her wealthy dad for guilt money as a substitute for his genuine affection. Until one day he suffers a stroke, and she learns the brutal truth.

They’re broke.
And everyone from bankers to bookies has lined up in her dad’s hospital room to collect.
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His only saving grace is what he reveals to Robin in between drools: He truly does love her, in spite of all his mistakes.

Panicked and desperate, Robin figures she has two choices. Either surrender to the pestering caseworker and live in a skanky foster home, or take a chance and sneak her dad out of the hospital to make a run for it. Little does she know that stealing a car and hitting the road means that before the day is through, she will rob her first bank.

Now an outlaw, Robin finds a backwoods trailer park to hide her dad from authorities. There, she encounters Creek, a local bad boy who also commits crimes to provide for their motley neighbors. Realizing she could use Creek’s help, Robin proposes an ingenious plan—they should team up to rob banks together. But when their partnership leads to a romance that turns Robin’s whole world upside down, she soon begins to discover that people are more precious than pocketbooks, and real love means opening your heart to the kinds of treasures money can’t buy . . .

Buy Robin in the Hood on Amazon

About the Author:

She was the kind of teenager who snuck out of church camp with the cutest boy she could find and hitchhiked down the road to play billiards at the local pool hall, then made out on the beach. But given the fact that her brother blew up his room at 16 and there were bullet holes in our windows (her brothers were a bit rowdy), the pool hall incident hardly got a rise out of her parents. Since that time, she managed to earn a Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing, teach juvenile delinquents and college students, and work in crisis intervention for the homeless and mentally ill. Some of the people she met on the street became her best friends. Most of them died young, and she misses them.

Follow Diane: Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

Giveaway: Robin in the Hood Prize Pack

So what will you win? A LOT. I mean it! Thanks to Dianne, one of you will win these goodies (below) and then two readers will win a paperback/ebook of Robin in the Hood! This is open internationally, so don't hesitate.


a Rafflecopter giveaway



Friday, February 08, 2013

Cover Reveal: Zenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon

Sooo, there is a new addition to the Strange-Chemistr-titles-that-you-need-to-read list:

Zenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon!


Versions: Paperback and ebook
May 7, 2013, Strange Chemistry

Zenn Scarlett is a bright and occasionally a-little-too-smart-for-her-own-good 17-year-old girl training hard to become an exoveterinarian. She specializes in the treatment of exotic alien life forms, mostly large and generally dangerous. Her novice year of training at the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic on Mars was going well - until there are a series of inexplicable animal escapes from the school that Zenn finds herself blamed for. As if this isn't enough to be dealing with, her father vanishes under strange circumstances, and Zenn is worried that she has started hearing the thoughts of the creatures around her...


With the help of Liam, a towner boy, and Hamish, an alien bug also training at the clinic, Zenn must try to find her father, rescue the animals and unravel the mystery of who is behind the attacks on the school. And all without failing her first year.

What I Think:

Okay, I know that I'm usually hesitant about alien-related novels but for some reason, when I read the synopsis, I was drawn in. I love the idea of exovets and treating alien life forms. I'm also interested in the animal escapes and of course, the disappearance of her dad. I'm wondering if...there is a bit of love going on between her and Liam. Hmm...

About the Author:

Christian Schoon grew up in Minnesota, and worked his way through college in a succession of rock bands before earning his degree from the U of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Journalism.

Following a stint as an in-house copywriter/scriptwriter at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, he supplied freelance copy for the entertainment industry and scriptwriting for live-action and animated TV.

Currently, he writes from his 150-year-old farmstead in Iowa which he shares with a fluctuating number of horses (generally less than a dozen, but not always), 30 or so cats, a dog, three ferrets and a surprisingly tolerant wife.

The Zenn Scarlett books are his first novels, however he admits to being an unrepentant fan of science fiction and fantasy ever since discovering the tales of Edgar Rice Burroughs in the fifth grade.

Follow Christian: Website | Twitter

Thanks to Strange Chemistry for inviting me to be a part of this cover reveal. :)


Thursday, February 07, 2013

Guest Post: TimeRiders Agency Guidelines by Alex Scarrow [Time Travel Feature]

Time travel enthusiasts, if you're interested in finding out more about time travel - beyond the book, I mean - then this is the perfect post for you. Alex Scarrow, the author of the TimeRiders series will reveal top sekrit info aka the TimeRiders Agency Guidelines.

TimeRiders Agency Guidelines

Rules of conduct:

Contamination Awareness:
Operatives must remain aware of the constant danger of affecting the timeline. The smallest alteration of the past can lead to a substantial and hazardous change to the present. Every possible measure must be taken to avoid this. The following guidelines are designed to minimize potential risk.


Source: MichelleZinBooks
1. Clothing: when going back in time it is important to be wearing clothing that fits into the given time period. If suitable clothing cannot be obtained prior to entering the time portal, then the operative must travel back with no clothing at all and must attempt to locate suitable attire in the target location.

2. Language: it is important that the operative can communicate with people in the target location. The operative should familiarise themselves with period nuances of the language. If the operative is unable to speak the target language, translator buds can be fitted in the ear. It should be stated that the translation AI may sometimes struggle with localised phrases or idioms, or extreme accents.

3. Knowledge: it is important that the operative is suitably briefed on the period of history he/shill be visiting. This includes knowledge of the political, economic and social situation. The accompanying Support Unit can also be utilized as a portable information base.

4. Interactions: the operative should restrict any actions to only those that lead towards correcting a contaminated timeline. As such, an operative should always look for the most minimal action to perform towards this end.

5. Outbound: any displacement window should be targeted at locations that are remote and unobserved. Research the location extensively before opening a displacement window using maps, documents and illustrations from the given time. The field office has an extensive database for this purpose. In some cases there will be insufficient research materials to review. It is possible to open a very small window in the past and 'remote view' the immediate surroundings.

Source: Photo-Dictionary

6. Return: the return window will usually be in the same location as the outbound window. The operative should clarify with the team strategist WHEN the return window is to be opened. The window should remain open for only very short periods so it is important for both operative and strategist to have synchronised time pieces and agreement on when the window will be opened. A back up window time should also be agreed. Typically this would be one hour later, one day later and one week later, in case the operative is delayed by unforeseen events.

The Pirate Kings (TimeRiders #7) by Alex Scarrow

Paperback, 416 pages

February 7th 2013, Puffin

Liam O’Connor should have died at sea in 1912.
Maddy Carter should have died on a plane in 2010.
Sal Vikram should have died in a fire in 2026.

But all three have been given a second chance—to work for an agency that no one knows exists. Its purpose: to prevent time travel destroying history...

Relocated to Victorian London, the TimeRiders joy-ride back to 1666 to witness the Great Fire of London. In the ensuing chaos, Liam and their newest recruit, Rashim, find themselves trapped between the fire and the Thames. They escape onboard a river boat, only to be confronted by an unscrupulous captain with his heart set on treasures of the high seas ...

Back in 1888, Maddy and the rest of the team are frantically trying to track them down. But with limited resources at their new base, can Liam and Rashim survive the bloodthirsty and barbaric age of piracy long enough to be rescued?

About the Author:


Alex Scarrow used to be a rock guitarist, then he became a graphic artist, then he decided to be a computer-games designer. Finally, he grew up and became an author. He has written a number of successful thrillers and several screenplays, but it’s Young Adult fiction that has allowed him to really have fun with many of the really cool ideas and concepts he was playing around with when designing games.

He lives in Norwich with his family.

Follow Alex: Twitter | Website | Goodreads


Join the 2013 YA & MG Time Travel Reading Challenge!
hosted by Precious from Fragments of Life and Dianne from Oops! I Read a Book Again
365 days of time-bending [includes freebies, features + giveaways]


Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Giveaway: Notes from Ghost Town + The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison!

Thanks to Media Masters Publicity + Egmont USA, one reader of Fragments will win Notes from Ghost Town and The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison! You can find the book descriptions below.


Hardcover, 336 pages
February 12th 2013, Egmont USA

They say first love never dies...

From critically acclaimed author Kate Ellison comes a heartbreaking mystery of mental illness, unspoken love, and murder. When sixteen-year-old artist Olivia Tithe is visited by the ghost of her first love, Lucas Stern, it’s only through scattered images and notes left behind that she can unravel the mystery of his death.

There’s a catch: Olivia has gone colorblind, and there’s a good chance she’s losing her mind completely—just like her mother did. How else to explain seeing (and falling in love all over again with) someone who isn’t really there?

With the murder trial looming just nine days away, Olivia must follow her heart to the truth, no matter how painful. It’s the only way she can save herself.


Paperback, 352 pages
January 8th 2013, EgmontUSA

Seventeen-year-old Penelope "Lo" Marin has always collected beautiful things. Since her brother's untimely death, her collection has become an obsession. When she finds an antique butterfly necklace that belonged to a murdered girl at a flea market, she impulsively steals it and becomes fixated. As Lo delves deeper into the life of this girl she feels an otherworldly connection to, she finds herself in the middle of a violent underworld of crime, drugs and sex. But the more questions she asks, the more danger she is in. Can Lo uncover the killer's identity, or will she become the next victim?

About the Author:

Kate Ellison spent a lot of time as a child, in Baltimore, pretending to be things she wasn't: a twin, a telekinetic, a benevolent witch with a box full of magical stones, a spy, a soccer player. She trained as an actor in Chicago and has walked across the entire country of Spain. She is a painter and jewelry-maker, and has at least one artist friend who really does keep his true name a secret from the world. He told her, but don't ask her to tell you—she's not gonna do it. Kate lives in Brooklyn, New York. The Butterfly Clues is her first novel.

Follow Kate: Facebook | Blog | Goodreads

Just fill out the Rafflecopter form!

Rules:

Be a follower.
Open to US/CA. But if you have a US/CA addy that you can send the book to, you can join!
Ends on March 14th.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Monday, February 04, 2013

Review: Ironskin by Tina Connolly


Book Description via Goodreads:

Hardcover, 304 pages
October 2, 2012, Tor Books

Jane Eliot wears an iron mask.

It’s the only way to contain the fey curse that scars her cheek. The Great War is five years gone, but its scattered victims remain—the ironskin.

When a carefully worded listing appears for a governess to assist with a "delicate situation"—a child born during the Great War—Jane is certain the child is fey-cursed, and that she can help.

Teaching the unruly Dorie to suppress her curse is hard enough; she certainly didn’t expect to fall for the girl’s father, the enigmatic artist Edward Rochart. But her blossoming crush is stifled by her own scars, and by his parade of women. Ugly women, who enter his closed studio...and come out as beautiful as the fey.

Jane knows Rochart cannot love her, just as she knows that she must wear iron for the rest of her life. But what if neither of these things is true? Step by step Jane unlocks the secrets of her new life—and discovers just how far she will go to become whole again.

Source: Alexis + Tor Teen (Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

When I started reading Ironskin, I was mesmerized with the vividness of the story world. It was easy to get sucked into Jane's steampunk world, with its old-world mysterious vibe and tragic history. I liked how Connolly told the story. The writing was very beautiful and poetic, matching the era of the book. Aside from the plot, what really draws me in (always) is the writing. I like reading something that I would repeat in my head, over and over again.

The characters were likable. Jane was scarred physically and emotionally. Her flaws made her realistic for me. Her interaction with the other characters made her even more real to me. Though people shrunk away from her, she held her head high - well, as high as she could. I wouldn't say that she was the most confident woman in the book, no, in fact, she struggled with her 'damaged' face and the social and aesthetic consequences of it. Although Dorie was a handful, the way Jane handled her showed her never-ending patience and devotion to help out another victim of the faeries.

Mr. Rochart was a harder character to like. At the beginning, I was drawn to his mysteriousness. But as the chapters passed, I found my questions piling up. One after the other. He was too secretive. Although the author planted clues here and there, I believe that it took a bit too long to have the answers. Don't let this discourage you though. I breezed through the pages in my mad-desperate attempt to find those answers. When I found them, it was worth it. I was torn between liking and hating him in the end. But I settled for the former. Edward, like Jane, was flawed and I couldn't blame him for his weaknesses. I can't say much about the romance though, there were sparks but I wanted a fireworks display between them, emotional and sexual tension. I hope that this will be developed in the sequel.

What I liked about Ironskin was the twist on the faery mythology. Gone were the traditional small faeries and what I like to call the modern gorgeous faeries. We got bodiless glows of blue for faeries. More like specters with no form, they needed to attack humans with magic to gain a body. Once their magic attaches or spreads to the dead human body, they can slip in and reanimate the body. I found myself freaking out at this old-world horror. There were scenes that gave me the fear that zombies/possessions incited in me. Bravo to Connolly for doing that! The comeback of the faeries was also something the part that I liked best - adrenaline, chaos and creep-factor raised to the highest level. It was so vivid that I could easily imagine it as a scene in a movie.

To sum up, Ironskin is a fresh and intriguing spin on the faery + steampunk equation. Be prepared to enter into a well-built Gothic story world. I recommend this to people who enjoyed The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann, who wants a more mature take on that kind of story (although the two are just similar in terms of the genre.) If you like steampunk, faeries and retellings, this is for you!

Rating:


4 Cupids = Strong book love. 
I really enjoyed this. I recommend this!



    

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Talk + Book Signing: Monstress by Lysley Tenorio

Filipino readers! If you like short stories, check out Monstress by Lysley Tenorio!
 
Book Description via Goodreads:

Paperback, 224 pages
January 31, 2012, Ecco

Monstress introduces a bold new writer who explores the clash and meld of disparate cultures. In the National Magazine Award-nominated title story, a has-been movie director and his reluctant leading lady travel from Manila to Hollywood for one last chance at stardom, unaware of what they truly stand to lose. In "Felix Starro," a famous Filipino faith healer and his grandson conduct an illicit business in San Francisco, though each has his own plans for their earnings. And after the Beatles reject an invitation from Imelda Marcos for a Royal Command Performance, an aging bachelor attempts to defend her honor by recruiting his three nephews to attack the group at the Manila International Airport in "Help."

Lysley Tenorio reveals the lives of people on the outside looking in with rare skill, humor, and deep understanding, in stories framed by tense, fascinating dichotomies--tenderness and power, the fantastical and the realistic, the familiar and the strange. Breathtakingly original, Monstress marks the arrival of a singular new voice in American fiction.

There will be a chance to meet the author aaaand there will also be a book signing at Glorietta 1 on February 9th. Check out the poster for more details: