Thursday, December 27, 2012


The Statistical Probability of Love at First SightThe Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The chance meeting of Hadley and Oliver was at first amusing, then intriguing, and deepened into an endearing, quick read by Jennifer Smith. I loved how the story unfurled from the beginning and wove multiple storylines together. Hadley's parents are divorced and her father is getting remarried. Hadley is American, and her father (after moving to England to teach on a short term basis, eventually dissolves his marriage to Hadley's mother and intends to remarry a British woman he met while there.

Hadley must travel to England to close one chapter of her life by participating in her father's marriage, while she's not ready to face the fact her parent's marriage is over.

Oliver isn't traveling to a wedding. His travel plans are for a funeral.

When Hadley misses her flight, she ends up sitting next to Oliver, and from there a romantic interlude distracts both Hadley and Oliver from fully dealing with their own problems. As their time together continues, both realize they have a spark neither one expected, and both wonder if it's worth the risk to pursue a love that should never have happened. Clearly, it was all a mistake, an accident, a statistical improbability. Or, was it?

I found this story a great and enjoyable read. It reads very fast, and I look forward to seeing anything else Jennifer Smith comes out with. Highly recommended!

View all my reviews

Book Review: SEBASTIAN'S POET by Kevin Craig

Sebastian's PoetSebastian's Poet by Kevin Craig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You might experience flashbacks or nostalgia along the way through this quick read of a story, as I certainly experienced throughout Craig's second novel. The story and the characters draw you into the afterparty, the clean-up and the questions that reveal further questions and missing puzzle pieces.

Craig adeptly maneuvers the reader through the story that is one part a happy trip down memory lane interwoven with a heartbreaking tale of a family fractured, broken, and quite possibly beyond repair. Seb or Sebby is the main character, a boy forced to grow up far too young by a mother who quickly leaves, a vacant father ensnared by his own dark past, a younger brother who needs someone to be responsible, and a parade of party guests that come and go leaving Sebby juggling all the beer bottles and overflowing ashtrays.

Along the way, Sebby finds moments of respite when a famous visitor, Teal Landon, "Uncle" Teal to the boys, swoops in and takes some of the responsibility off Sebby's shoulders. But, why he chooses to be so gracious and what's behind the unspecified motives of Teal's and Tommy's (Sebby's father) personal and professional relationships are left hidden behind the smoke and marijuana clouds that permeate the neverending cavalcade of partying and strangers present. To Sebby, it's no gift, either. He's expected to make all the right choices, leaving everyone else to their own devices.

As the story peels back layers of hidden truth and twists along the way, Sebby battles his own heart to save his family.

If I were to compare this book with Craig's YA debut novel, SUMMER ON FIRE, I would choose it over SEBASTIAN'S POET, primarily as a matter of personal preference. Both stories are fantastic, worthy reads in their own way, but I found a stronger connection with Craig's debut. Still, there is much to be said in dusting off your vinyl records, revving up your turnstile and setting down the needle on the pages of Craig's sophomore novel, SEBASTIAN'S POET.

View all my reviews

Book Review: BURNING EMERALD by Jaime Reed

Burning Emerald (The Cambion Chronicles, #2)
Also see my review of Living Violet

Burning Emerald by Jaime Reed
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So much happens in book 2 of the Cambion Chronicles it took me some time after reading to process and percolate on this one. a definitive and well planned cliffhanger rolling into book 3. Well played, Ms. Reed. I was punched in the gut.

If you haven't read this series yet, get ON IT.

If you haven't read book 1, there are spoilers, reading further. Be warned. Samara and Caleb are back and still working the kinks out to their relationship. This time, both Caleb and Samara have inner Cambion demons to satiate and keep happily fed. But what Samara isn't counting on is the new hot guy in school, Malik and the connection he shares with her inner demon. This creates a tangled love triangle that twists and turns through a gripping plot that will keep you turning pages and breathless all at the same time.

Often with second books in a series, the middle one is more of a doorstop than its own wonderful standalone story. You'll enjoy it more if you read book 1 first, but you could essentially pick this one up and read it without a problem. Most of the highlights of book 1 are touched on to refresh your memory if you've forgotten anything. I enjoyed both books equally well, if not even more so with book 2 and all the shocking revelations and surprises along the way. Many of these I did not see coming.

And, as I alluded to above, the ending is such a huge cliffhanger, I'm chomping at the bit to read FADING AMBER to find out how the story concludes. This is by far my favorite paranormal series, with a unique and hilarious voice that kept me reading and wanting more.

Highly, highly recommended. If you haven't read this series, you NEED to read it NOW.

View all my reviews

Book Review: TWIN SENSE by Lydia Sharp

Twin SenseTwin Sense by Lydia Sharp
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This novella debut by the incomparable Lydia Sharp is such a page turner. Okay, well, it's currently only in ebook format, so it's a clicky get the picture. Suffice it to say you'll definitely read this one all in one sitting. It's too good to put down, and you'll want to get to the end of the story to find out what happens, so just keep scrolling, just keep scrolling...

Now that I've read it, I totally understand the cover, too. I love the yellow dresses and how similar they look and how their hands are *kissing* the way their arms do in the spring formal photo op.

I thoroughly loved Lydia's style of writing, the wit and the humor she uses. It seems effortless, but I know it's hours of careful crafting, of laying out each sentence perfectly. It's her signature writing style.

This isn't your typical love triangle thingy, way overdone in YA books, especially contemporary, which this one is. It is a new creature, all together, a love quadrangle, and by that, I mean, all four, all mixed up, and oh so delectable to read and unravel the twists and turns.

Sherri and Layna are dating the Taylor twins, but you'd think they were twins with their special TWIN SENSE ability to sense things the way twins can. And, let's just say, something is always up around these four. Kevin and Keith are the actual twin brothers, and each has their plusses and their drawbacks. Even in so short a space, Lydia crafts amazingly real characters you'll fall instantly for.

For a debut, this is an amazing read, and I hope it's the first of many more to come from this promising YA author.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Top 10+ YA Reads for 2012

2012 has gone by in a flurry of days. I can't believe it's nearly over. About this time last year, I started an amazing debut by Tahereh Mafi and finished it just as 2012 began. It has remained among my top reads of 2012 (even though it released November 15, 2011), although I don't count it in the top 10 since it was technically a 2011 book. Still, if you haven't read SHATTER ME, DESTROY ME, and aren't absolutely SALIVATING for UNRAVEL ME, what are you waiting for??? If my first read of 2012 was any indication, 2012 proved to be an amazing year in YA books.

Disclaimer: My list is my list, and probably missed at least one of your top picks for 2012. There are MANY books that came out this year I'm still kicking myself for not reading yet. See my next blog post for that.

To celebrate the awesome words, the shiny covers, the carefully crafted characters, the scintillating world-building (read: not info dumping), and the twisty plot twists that kept me gasping for more, I've compiled my list of the top reads of 2012. Let's get to the list:

10. A TEMPTATION OF ANGELS by Michelle Zink


8. BURNING EMERALD by Jaime Reed


6. TOUCHING THE SURFACE by Kimberly Sabatini

5. SLIDE by Jill Hathaway

4. UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi

3. CINDER by Marissa Meyer

1 & 2. TIE: STORMDANCER by Jay Kristoff

1 & 2. TIE: SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):
  • SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi (this is a 2011 debut, but I read it over the cusp of 2011/2012).

  • LIVING VIOLET by Jaime Reed (published 12/27/11), although I read this in 2012 and loved it. Book 3 just came out, FADING AMBER and I can't wait to get to the end of this great paranormal series.

  • OF POSEIDON by Anna Banks (definitely in my top reads of 2012)

  • THE DUFF by Kody Keplinger (I'm SO very late to the party, released in 2010, but I don't care! It was TOTALLY worth the wait!)

  • INSURGENT by Veronica Rossi (definitely in my top reads of 2012)

  • BEASTLY by Alex Flinn (confessions of a slow reader, debut in 2007)

  • BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver (released 10/2011) A fantastic read, I HIGHLY recommend.
  • TWIN SENSE by Lydia Sharp (amazingly quick read...I wish it was ended too soon). You might have noticed this one is also on my sidebar. Yep, it's that awesome.

So, there you have it. I'll do another blog soon on all the books I'm currently reading (slowly), and ones I SHOULD HAVE read in 2012, but I'm definitely reading in 2013. Also, books I'm dying to read that come out in 2013. That's all for me, so tell me in the comments what books you read in 2012 that you loved (especially if they're not on my list, but even if they are), and books you wished you read in 2012, but plan to read in 2013. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Book Review: SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)
Also see my review of Siege and Storm

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ten out of ten shuddering stars would only be the tiniest flicker of light this book well deserves. I am in awe of the amazing world of Shadow and Light and Bone and Blood. Leigh Bardugo, there are no words. You've laid them down exquisitely, and I just want to sit in the dark space after closing the book, having read the last pages, and soak in all the wonderment you brought me through.


"The woods were silent in their grief." One of my most favorite quotes from the book. I cannot elaborate where it comes into play or ruin a special moment for the reader. But I will say you must read this book with eyes and heart and soul opened to the whispered moments Bardugo has deftly woven together with the aid and skill of the Fabrikators and their ilk.

So many wonderful characters to get to know and fall in love with, some of whom do not survive throughout the pages herein. Still, this does not diminish where the light and darkness takes you, where Alina must ultimately go to find herself and her purpose and her strength.

I enjoyed the way Bardugo built her world from the beginning in an orphanage, through all the ranks and colors of the army, all the way up to the darkling and the royal family. The richness of the Russian-like culture seeps through the pages, and gives a wonderful vibe to the rest of the story. The way she wove these details into the story did not require a glossary or appendix of definitions, nor was it so complex as to flummox the reader. I thoroughly enjoyed Bardugo's world and can't wait to read what's next.

If you've any further doubt over whether you should or should not RUN IMMEDIATELY to your nearest locale and buy this book and do NOTHING ELSE until you've read every word, then trust me to tell you: this is the book worthy of your time. DO IT NOW. Sensational. Literally. Good and Evil, Darkness and Light, Shadow and Bone. It's all there. And kisses in the dark. Many kisses. Many dark places.

Read it quickly. You'll be holding your breath so much, you might pass out otherwise. Someone should attach a reader warning on the side, or else watch as readers everywhere pass out from too much amazement, tension, and wringing of hands.

View all my reviews

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Book Review: STORMDANCER by Jay Kristoff

If you've read my blog this year, then you know how much love I have for STORMDANCER by Jay Kristoff, and if you haven't seen my fanboying all over the place yet, then feast your eyes on the blog I posted to win the last ARC. Well, I lost, but I did eventually win a signed hardcover copy of Jay's amazing debut and swag as well. I even hosted a giveaway to share the love. Not that winning had anything to do with my review. I rated the book on the merit of the writing alone. But, receiving cool stuff for a book I adore, well, that's gravy.

Just so you know, STORMDANCER is among the top 5 books I've read in 2012, so when I get around to posting my end of the year blog about the best of 2012, you'll remember I told you it would be among the best of the best. As for what other books made it in my top 5 and top 10 book lists, you'll have to wait to find out. Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments below.

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm still struggling to come back down off the high that was a riveting, gripping ending, like the sweat beading beneath the fist clenched around the hilt of a sword. I am in awe. Wow. I must go to bed, but I will come back to update this review completely as it deserves all the words. Wow.

Yukiko doesn't see herself the way her father does. Instead she carries the shadow of her mother and brother and the stink of lotus. For her, life must be filtered like the air she breathes through a cloth. She's aged by the harsh world she lives in, pressed between the thumb and finger of the emporer, Shogun Yoritomo and the futile task to hunt the extinct thunder tiger, an arashitora, for his vainglorious plan to conquer the world of Shima.

And, then there's the Kenning, the ability to speak to animals, a power the guild finds blasphemous and impure. All who have revealed such power have been summarily executed in the public square. While Yukiko struggles to be all that her father wasn't, she doesn't realize how much she's like her old man. She can't get away from his shadow, even if it reeks of sake and failure.

The journey north in a skyship not only reveals more of Yukiko's struggle with her father and his mistress, but a strange boy of mystery who only later reveals where he comes from. Meanwhile, Yukiko's dreams are troubled by another boy with sea-green eyes. Below, the lotus crops corrupt the land and all who live there, a cancer, oppressing everyone and everything.

Yukiko also faces her past in the dark and lonely hours aboard the skyship as they travel toward the mountains where the ronin dwell.

When Buruu is found and captured, it comes with a great cost, and Yukiko and her father are separated. Alone again, Yukiko is forced to make a difficult choice and bargain with the arishitora who could kill her as soon as look at her. An uneasy alliance is formed and a bond is kindled.

After the battle with a horde of blue oni demons, Yukiko must make a choice if she is ever to return to her father and find her own place in a dying world.

This was an incredible read, visceral, and true to the Asian culture I lived in for more than a year after college. I loved all of the plot twists and surprises along the way and tried to savor every word of Kristoff's densely imagined world. It is richly appointed and fully realized.

You will not only root for Yukiko, but for Buruu as well.

I highly recommend this book, and look forward to book 2 and 3. This is among my top 5 reads for 2012. If you haven't read it yet, get this book and read it. You'll be glad you did.

View all my reviews

Friday, December 14, 2012

CINDER Paperback, SCARLET, and a Surprise Honoring My Blog

I dream of writing and publishing a book worthy of the many accolades Marissa Meyer's debut, CINDER has received. Well, today, I am one step closer to realizing that dream. How you ask? Well, stick around and you'll find out.

If you've forgotten my previous gushing about CINDER, Book One of the Lunar Chronicles, check out my review HERE. You might even recall during the Month of CINDER, I hosted a giveaway for a hardcover copy HERE. Well, Macmillan invited those of us who blogged about Marissa Meyer's New York Times Bestselling novel to participate in a secret event, and I was among those who responded.

Keep reading further to found out how I get to share pages with CINDER.

If you haven't read CINDER yet, you should. It would be a perfect addition to any Christmas (or other Winter Celebration) List. You can read an excerpt HERE. Also, recently the first chapter of SCARLET has been released and can be read HERE.

What are you waiting for? Oh, you're one of those who like to read everything in paperback? Well, don't worry. The paperback for CINDER is scheduled for release on January 8, 2013. That's just weeks away, people! Weeks away. The paperback will include the following bonus material:
-Special bonus story, entitled Glitches
-Q&A with author Marissa Meyer
-Reader’s Guide
-Sneak peek of Scarlet
SCARLET releases and will go on sale beginning February 5, 2013. This is another reason to get CINDER read before then. Obviously, you'll want to read Book 2 of the Lunar Chronicles the day it releases once you've come to your senses and caught up on reading CINDER.

If you have a Kindle, or Kindle for PC (I use this for my DROID, so I can read on the go), you can read the first 5 chapters of CINDER and SCARLET for FREE. Clicky. Clicky.
Now it's time to share how I came to my senses after checking my email and discovered that I hadn't fallen and hit my head really, really hard...okay, maybe that, but I still somehow live in a universe where MY NAME is going to be published inside the stunning novel I am voraciously studying (comparable title) as I prepare to write my very own fairytale retelling in YA format (My current WIP. You can see more about that here.) Can you believe it? Nobody pinch me. Ever. I'd hate to find the spell was broken. Oh, and I have proof. The marketing team sent me a blog button to PROVE I'm one of the featured blogs, and I've got a watermarked picture to show how the feature page might appear. Check it out below!

My blog name appears at the bottom of her calf, near the top of her ankle, CENTER STAGE!!!
...*feels faint* *passes out* *clunks head on the way down* *dies* *dies repeatedly*...
Now that you've had a sneak peek, what books have you added to your holiday wishlist? Please post your top picks in the comments below. Happy Holidays! Read lots of books.