4.30.2012

Review: Born at Midnight by CC Hunter


Kylie Galen has had a lot of crap tossed in her lap lately. Her parents are getting a divorce for who the heck knows why. Her boyfriend broke up with her because she wouldn't put out. And her grandmother died because . . . well, older people do that. But now, Kylie's acquired a stalker and she hasn't a clue what he wants or how to get rid of him . . . and she really wants to get rid of him because apparently she's the only one who sees him. Thinking she may be losing it, her parents send her off to see a psychologist who gets Kylie sent to Shadow Falls Camp. Kylie and her parents think it's a camp for troubled teens. 
They thought wrong.

Kylie's surrounded by vampires, werewolves, fairies, witches and shapeshifters. And if she believes what they tell her, she's one of them. They're just not sure exactly how she fits in. As Kylie struggles to cope with the realization that these creatures even exist, and the fact that she might not be human, she's got two hot guys, a werewolf and a half-fairy vying for her attention. And they can just keep vying. Kylie's determined that before she lets her heart loose on love, she needs to unearth the truth. What does the ghost want? Who can and can't she trust? And most of all . . . What is she? 

Rating: 3.5 Stars

My first read-through of this was a DNF, because I'd paid a bit too much attention to a couple of key negative reviews of this book, which diluted my reading experience and made me extremely dislike this. But, putting all that behind me when I realized I had the next two books to read, I plodded through Born at Midnight again with a clean slate.

I actually really enjoyed the ride.

*Le gasp!*

I know, I know. Don't judge me!

Again, just like during my first read-through, I had a bit of an issue with the third-person narration. I felt narration in first-person would've done wonders to the book, because first-person is much more immediate and intimate, and it makes you feel closer to the characters. As I continued to read, though, the narration faded into the background as I became more and more absorbed into the story.

The book is about a girl named Kylie who moves to a camp called Shadow Falls when her parents decide to get a divorce. There at the camp, a whole hoard of supernatural beings reside and train. Kylie's shrink saw symptoms of supernatural-ness in her, so they recommended she start attending. The concept of the book and the overall execution totally remind me of a more mature House of Night.

As far as the plot goes, the book kind of just trudges along for a while. Nothing much really happened at first; she was just adjusting to life at the camp. Some rules about it were set down, introductions with characters were given, et cetera.

One thing that bugged me about the book is how EVERYBODY AT THE CAMP SEEMS TO HAVE THE HOTS FOR KYLIE. It's beyond a love triangle; it's a love do-decagon that Kylie is hopelessly in the middle of. It's pretty ridiculous. As far as the two main love interests go, Lucas and Derek, I find myself commonly switching teams. I just can't decide who I honestly like better. It changes every time she's with the other one.

One thing I LOVED about the book is how Hunter stresses familial importance. Her struggles with her parents are heartbreaking, and there are some very nice underlying messages about it.

Not bad, CC Hunter. Not bad. 3.5 stars.



three-and-a-half owls

4.29.2012

In My Mailbox (18)

HOLA, YALL'Z!
Haven't seen your gorgeous faces in a while for an IMM.
I told myself I would do another VLOG once I accomplished a personal goal, so keep your eyes peeled (although it will probably be a while).
But anyway, here are the books that I've gotten this week:


FOR REVIEWZ (thanks to St. Martin's, Scholastic, and Simon & Schuster!):

  • Fated by Alyson Noel (thanks to St. Martin's)
  • Taken at Dusk by CC Hunter (same! SMP, you are the best!)
  • Underworld by Meg Cabot (thanks to Scholastic!)
  • Shine by Jeri Smith-Ready, even though it's in the wrong pile (thanks to Simon & Schuster!)
  • not pictured: Ascend by Amanda Hocking
BOOKS THAT I BUYZ (thanks to moo-lah!):
  • Die for Me by Amy Plum
  • A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford
  • The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore
  • The Calling by Kelley Armstrong
  • Infamous by Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins
  • and, my Featured Cover of the Week, Clarity by Kim Harrington!

That's what I received in my mailbox this week! Check back next week for more awesome books.
And for those of you who entered the giveaway, sorry I keep pushing it back. I've just . . . had a lot to do lately and I don't have time to eat a lot of the stuff I keep putting on my plate.

See you later!

-Hayden
  • Fear by Michael Grant

Review: The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda

Don’t Sweat.  Don’t Laugh.  Don’t draw attention to yourself.  And most of all, whatever you do, do not fall in love with one of them.
Gene is different from everyone else around him.  He can’t run with lightning speed, sunlight doesn’t hurt him and he doesn’t have an unquenchable lust for blood.  Gene is a human, and he knows the rules.  Keep the truth a secret.  It’s the only way to stay alive in a world of night—a world where humans are considered a delicacy and hunted for their blood.

When he’s chosen for a once in a lifetime opportunity to hunt the last remaining humans, Gene’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble around him.  He’s thrust into the path of a girl who makes him feel things he never thought possible—and into a ruthless pack of hunters whose suspicions about his true nature are growing. Now that Gene has finally found something worth fighting for, his need to survive is stronger than ever—but is it worth the cost of his humanity? 
There was only one word on my mind when I closed the back cover of The Hunt: wow!

The gobsmacking cover drew me in, and Fukuda's carefully chosen words kept me held close. Fukuda really knows how to make a book page-turning. Every word Fukuda writes is important and engrossing; not once is there an infodump, which makes for an action-packed and gripping read. I read this book in three hours bcause it was just so tense and wonderful.

The concept of The Hunt is intriguing: humans have been replaced by a new generation of creatures that crave human blood, yet are surprisingly not vampire-like, and our protagonist is a regular human. Said regular humans are called hepers. Our main character, Gene, has to monitor his every move so he doesn't end up being eaten by the Human 2.0's.

The novel also presents many themes, which include family, friendship, and staying true to yourself. Fukuda manages to include these themes without sounding preachy, and he does it well. Including these things in a novel makes it feel more realistic, and I felt like I was right there next to Gene as he was experiencing everything.

I will admit that I thought The Hunt was a Hunger Games knockoff at first. And for a few pages, it seemed like it. The concept: going into a big arena to fight off as many as you can and be the winner? Dystopian society? As soon as I made the comparison, I lost all hope for the book. Just another author capitalizing off the success of the dystopian genre. As I began the novel, though, I was captivated, and I lost all suspicions I had once had. I realized soon enough that there was one key difference from The Hunger Games: the initiation. In Hunger Games, it lasted a very meager number of pages. In The Hunt, there is a much longer period of time where the Hunters are initiated. At this point, I was able to stop worrying about its copycat nature and just enjoy it.

The Hunt also features a little bit of romance -- between Gene and a certain unnamed non-Heper girl. I won't give anything away, but one of the things Gene's dad told him before he disappeared was to never fall in love with one of the non-Hepers. Let's just kick back and wait to see how deep Gene falls into trouble...

Speaking of Gene, Fukuda characterizes very well. The backstory he provides for each of the characters makes them feel like family to the reader. It is very special. You don't see that a lot in YA; most characters are just there to follow the plot and provide entertainment in other YA. I can almost hear the conversation:

"Why do you love me, Edward?"

"Because Stephenie Meyer told me to. Oh, and also, spoiler alert: you'll eventually become a vampire."

"Oh YAY! I love you, too!"


This is not the case in The Hunt. Each character is fleshed out thoroughly, emotional, non-cardboard-like in nature. I appreciate that.

If you're looking for a kick-arse, addictive and genuinely real novel, try The Hunt. Andrew Fukuda is a debut author not to be missed.

five owls

Review: Endure (Need, #4) by Carrie Jones

It’s all-out war (and no-holds-barred romance) in the climactic conclusion to Carrie Jones’s bestselling series.
Zara is at the center of an impending apocalypse. True, she’s successfully rescued Nick from Valhalla, but it simply isn’t enough. Evil pixies are ravaging Bedford, and they need much more than one great warrior; they need an army. Zara isn’t sure what her role is anymore. She’s not just fighting for her friends; she’s also a pixie queen. And to align her team of pixies with the humans she loves will be one of her greatest battles yet. Especially since she can’t even reconcile her growing feelings for her pixie king . . .

Unexpected turns, surprising revelations, and one utterly satisfying romantic finale make Endure a thrilling end to this series of bestsellers.
I've had a love-hate relationship with Carrie Jones over the years. Need was the first of her books I read, and I thought it was okay her writing was choppy and hard to read, but the characters were there, not to mention the whole phobia thing. How cool is that?!

Captivate, Need's sequel, took me even further into the world of Zara White and her friends, human and pixie alike, and I became infatuated with Jones's series. Entice made me love it. Imagine my heartbreak and disappointment when I found out this book was out a whole YEAR after Entice and, even then, kept getting pushed back.
Finally, a solid May release date got announced, and I just couldn't wait. I really enjoyed After Obsession, too, even though it had no ties to Jones's Need world and featured a brand-spanking-new co-author.

Endure, even though I never really liked the title (at all), was the best book in the series for me.

I feel like Carrie's writing has improved since the series started. Say goodbye to her former, choppier style of writing -- while that is warranted in some places during Endure, Carrie 2.0 has been released and is much an improvement. My favorite part of Endure is the end -- no, I'm not going to spoil it for you -- because it wrapped up the series perfectly. And -- *hint, hint* -- I always love the flash-forward-in-time epilogues. :D

The love interest in the series has always been a bit of a toss-up for me. In most series, you can usually guess who the MC will decide to end up with. Endure wasn't like that at all -- I honestly had no idea and felt like it was a flip-of-a-coin move for Jones. Either one would've benefited Zara in the long run, and I am quite happy with who she did end up with.

About those boys . . . *sigh* I feel like they were being really possessive and stupid throughout the entire book. Up until the end, I think neither of them deserved Zara and that what they really deserved was a frying pan to the face, but they redeemed themselves and stopped acting like idiots.

I loved the Norse mythology, even though I felt like a lot of it was thrown in my face. I overall just really enjoyed Endure.

One thing is for darned sure -- Carrie Jones sure can write an ending.
four and a half owls

Review: Ascend by Amanda Hocking



Amanda Hocking is an indie publishing sensation whose self-published novels have sold millions of copies all over the world.  Ascend is the final chapter in her bestselling Trylle trilogy—and you’ll never guess how it ends!


Wendy Everly is facing an impossible choice. The only way to save the Trylle from their deadliest enemy is by sacrificing herself.  If she doesn’t surrender to the Vittra, her people will be thrust into a brutal war against an unbeatable foe.  But how can Wendy leave all her friends behind…even if it’s the only way to save them?The stakes have never been higher, because her kingdom isn’t the only thing she stands to lose. After falling for both Finn and Loki, she’s about to make the ultimate choice…who to love forever. One guy has finally proven to be the love of her life—and now all their lives might be coming to an end.  Everything has been leading to this moment.  The future of her entire world rests in her hands—if she’s ready to fight for it.
Ascend wraps up the internationally best-selling Trylle trilogy, and oh my goodness, is it crazy! 

I went into Ascend expecting the same thing I got from the first two Trylle books, which was a shy girl put into shoes three sizes too big, chased around by three boys who were crazy for her (or . . . after Torn, make that two), with pretty low character development and structured precariously by a shoddy plot.

Maybe it was because my expectations were so low that my socks were blown off at such a physically impossible rate.
Whatever Hocking did between Torn and Ascend made the final product and the conclusion to the trilogy ridiculously amazing. There were little to no info dumps in the middle, something which made me want to tear my hair out during Torn. Wendy grew into such a fearless and amazing woman over the course of the series. I was proud of her when I put the book down, after reading the final word. If Torn would've been the last book, I would have been relieved that the series was over, but Wendy made me a little sad it was over.

Since I didn't review the fist two books in the series, I might as well touch upon a few key concepts. Wendy Everly is a Changeling, meaning she was switched at birth and raised by a human family. She is actually, however . . . a troll.

Yep, you heard right.

But not the hairy, guarding-a-bridge kind of troll.

The troll part confused me at first, too, but eventually I caught on. I really liked the part about the changeling and the Mänsklig. Hocking did a really good job with the mythology aspect of the book. It wasn't a shoddily-constructed world. It was nice and pleasant.

If you didn't like the first two books, definitely stick around because Ascend will change your mind.




five owls

Review: Switched by Amanda Hocking

When Wendy Everly was six years old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. Eleven years later, Wendy discovers her mother might have been right. She’s not the person she’s always believed herself to be, and her whole life begins to unravel—all because of Finn Holmes.

Finn is a mysterious guy who always seems to be watching her. Every encounter leaves her deeply shaken…though it has more to do with her fierce attraction to him than she’d ever admit. But it isn’t long before he reveals the truth: Wendy is a changeling who was switched at birth—and he’s come to take her home.

Now Wendy’s about to journey to a magical world she never knew existed, one that’s both beautiful and frightening. And where she must leave her old life behind to discover who she’s meant to become…

This edition includes the bonus story "The Vittra Attacks".


I'm not sure exactly how I feel about Switched. The first chapter didn't draw me in like most books did -- in fact, I was too busy noticing the immaturity of the writing to give a you-know-what about what was going on. As the book progressed, though, the writing became less tense and I could tell a barrier in Amanda Hocking had broke.

I loved how Hocking stressed the importance of family -- whether you be talking about how Wendy mourned for Matt and Maggie while she was gone, or everyone else she's met since she's been in Forening -- because it gave the book some morals and took it past the point of just another YA PNR lining the shelves. That being said, I wasn't completely enthralled; there were lots of things I found that seemed like rehashed material from other recent PNR, a.k.a. Finn looking in her window -- on the second story -- at night. Is it sad that I can think of examples other than the Twilight quartet?

There were lots of infodumps, from the way Wendy described her family to the way she learned about the troll blood she had in her veins. The cliffhanger ending was pretty ridiculous, and I'm glad I have Torn and Ascend right here, because I probably wouldn't be able to wait very long to get them.


three owls

Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.



I kind of feel like this book needs a warning commercial:

ATTENTION: Taking doses of THE FAULT IN OUR STARS too large can lead to frequent sobbing, mild depression, and extreme envy of John Green.

The Fault in Our Stars destroyed me. The thing I love about it is how John Green created a piece of fiction or twelve inside of his piece of fictionAn Imperial Affliction? Yeah, not a real book. I totally thought it was. (I was thinking, Dang. Someone must have paid John Green a lot of money to endorse him like that.)

I really don't have a lot to say about this book, other than the fact that you should read it if you're unfamiliar with the heart-wrenching genre. If you are, it's probably just another book.


five owls

4.28.2012

Review: Arise by Tara Hudson

The Hereafter trilogy is my favorite ghost story!

Flash back to 2011: I was a freshman in high school, shopping at Target, and the gorgeous, illustrated cover of Hereafter caught my eye in the book section. The back cover featured a gorgeous illustration of rippling water. I was hooked. Hereafter proved to be one of my favorite ghost stories of 2011.

Flash forward to now: Arise shows up on my doorstep, with a gorgeous photograph of a girl standing in a cemetery in a gorgeous white dress with flowing hair. The cover put me in a trance; as soon as I turned the first page, I was addicted.

As much as I loved Hereafter, it had some problems: the writing seemed a bit amateur, and I wasn't completely set on the love between Amelia and Joshua. Regardless of those two things, Hereafter was fantastic, but Arise took all of the things I loved about Hereafter to an entirely new level!

The first chapter introduced me to the ReVamped Tara Hudson 2.0, with much lovelier writing, and Amelia's relationship with Joshua leapt off the page and into my heart. I was completely sold! I couldn't believe how much more everything was flowing.

In the beginning of Arise, someone Amelia never thought she would see again has returned to warn her of newfound enemies. She is told she has to leave the town, leave Joshua, leave everyone and everything she has come to love if she wants to stay alive. Well, dead. Or, alive-dead. I'm not really sure how to explain it, but Tara makes sense of the situation.

Tara introduces some new and fresh mythology, and a few key complications that made the story slide through my heart like butter. I loved the new characters introduced, especially Gabrielle.

I don't want to spoil any more of the plot, because it seems like I've already told you too much about it!

You can feel everything Amelia feels. The book is written so gorgeously, I completely forgot about the writing problem in Hereafter. I became so engrossed in the nearly tangible love story of Joshua and Amelia that when the book ended, and I realized how far away the third and final installment is now, I felt defeated.

Tara, you did everything with Arise. I really hope I get an ARC of Elegy, because I have no idea how I'm going to be able to wait that long!



five owls

Exciting Promotion!

Hey, all! I haven't seen you in a while. I'm here today to tell you about an exciting promotion St. Martin's is hosting.

You all know how much I love Alyson Noel, right?

From her numerous stand-alone teen titles to her Immortals series, featuring Ever, to her Riley Bloom series featuring Ever's funky, twelve-year old sister, Riley, I've devoured every Noel novel I've ran into. Her new novel, Fated, the first in the Soul Seekers series, is about a teenager named Daire who moves to her estranged grandmother's house in Enchantment, New Mexico after a psychotic episode. It is here that Daire finds out about the whole other side of her life, the one she's never seen before, and is given the opportunity to pursue it. I've already read Fated, and I absolutely loved it; I think all of you will, too; it is the perfect balance of supernatural, sexy, and scary. I can't wait for the next book in the series to be released in November!

Anyway, the publisher of Fated is hosting a special promotion for those who pre-order the book. If you pre-order Fated (in any format, whether that be in hardcover or e-book or audiobook) and submit your receipt, you will receive a special pair of earrings, inspired by the Soul Seekers series! Here is a picture:


Aren't they gorgeous? And they can be yours if you pre-order a copy! Now you can feel fated wherever you go.

If you are interested in the earrings, visit http://stmartins.com/fatedpreorder to find out more about this super-cool promotion.


-Hayden

4.26.2012

Still Alive!

Hey! Just checking in to let you know that all is well. I've had so much schoolwork and other non-Internet priorities over the last month-and-a-half that I haven't had any time for blogging or reading! Believe me, guys, if you were on my schedule, you'd be right there along with me.

I've written a couple of reviews, including for Andrew Fukuda's THE HUNT, over the past month, and I'll post those soon enough. But for now, [insert clever phrase that mixes owls with life lessons].

-Hayden

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