Waiting on Wednesday #18: Red

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This is where you showcase an upcoming release you're anxiously awaiting!
This week, I'm waiting on:

Red by Alison Cherry.

Expected Publication: October 8, 2013
by Delacorte BYR.

Goodreads Blurb:
Felicity St. John has it all—loyal best friends, a hot guy, and artistic talent. And she’s right on track to win the Miss Scarlet pageant. Her perfect life is possible because of just one thing: her long, wavy, coppery red hair.

Having red hair is all that matters in Scarletville. Redheads hold all the power—and everybody knows it. That’s why Felicity is scared down to her roots when she receives an anonymous note:

I know your secret.

Because Felicity is a big fake. Her hair color comes straight out of a bottle. And if anyone discovered the truth, she’d be a social outcast faster than she could say "strawberry blond." Her mother would disown her, her friends would shun her, and her boyfriend would dump her. And forget about winning that pageant crown and the prize money that comes with it—money that would allow her to fulfill her dream of going to art school.

Felicity isn’t about to let someone blackmail her life away. But just how far is she willing to go to protect her red cred?

Why I'm excited: I am totally loving the sound of so many of the Lucky 13's books. This one just seems like such a fun and different premise. Not something I've read about before and it looks like Alison has taken it in a great direction. Can't wait!

What are you waiting on this week?


Top Ten Tuesday: Auto-Buy Authors

Top Ten Authors I'd Put On My Auto-Buy List

My first try at Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
Just for the record, I am not an auto-buy girl. I always read the synopsis to see if it is a genre or idea that interests me. There is literally only ONE author I auto-buy. So this isn't so much about auto-buy as auto-check. There are definitely authors who, when I see they have a new book out, I immediately go look and read about it, and more than likely will at the very least put it on hold at the library. This is more what this list is about, because auto-buy just isn't really my thing. 

1. The only author I do actually auto-buy: Robert Muchamore
I'm sure at this point you're all thinking "What? The one author she auto-buys and I have never heard of him! Who is this guy?"

Well. Robert Muchamore writes some of my favourite series: CHERUB, Henderson's Boys, and Aramov. The second two are a each kind of spin-offs of the first, and each of the three is about teen spies. 
The original series, Cherub, is about an orphaned teen boy, James, and his younger sister, Lauren. After their mother dies, they are recruited by a secret intelligence agency in England called CHERUB, which trains teens as spies because no adults expect kids to be spying on them. It is a fantastic series that is fast-paced, interesting, and funny, and where the missions get more intense with each book. I really love these novels, but the series has ended after 12 books. Hence the spin-offs.

Henderson's Boys is set during WWII and is about the initial foundation of CHERUB by Mr. Henderson, and the first teen spies of the agency.

Aramov is set after the CHERUB series ends and is about two new recruits, Ryan and Ning, and their missions, specifically those revolving around the Aramov Clan, a family of Russian arms dealers.

All fantastic novels. Both action packed and funny. I love them and I buy them all. 

2. The next closest thing I have to an auto-buy: Ellen Hopkins.
Oh, Ellen Hopkins. I have read (and will continue to read) every single one of her YA books. I love them. They're contemporary "issue" books but written in fantastic poetic style. 
Crank might be her most recognized novel. It is her first, and has been mentioned as along the lines of Go Ask Alice. It is loosely based on Ellen's family's struggle with a daughter addicted to methamphetamine, narrated by the teenage addict. It is the first book I read by her and it got me hooked on her work. I did not really enjoy Go Ask Alice, but I loved Crank. 
I also wanted to mention Identical, though. Identical, though not my favourite of her novels, is one I constantly find myself thinking about. That, I'd say, is a sign of a good book. 

I devoured his Chaos Walking trilogy last summer and it was my favourite series that year. It was amazing. All three books are on my "Top Ten of 2012" page. I honestly could not put these books down. I have not yet read his newest, A Monster Calls, because I don't like fiction that freaks me out, but I may have to just suck it up because Patrick Ness is worth it. I've also heard it was fantastic. I can't wait for more from him; I'll be all over it. 

After reading The Scorpio Races, I would follow this woman anywhere. 
That is all I have to say about that. 
I must read more of her work. And soon.

This one may seem a little strange because I know people hate on her novels for being about selfish, petty, spoiled girls who make dumb decisions and have ridiculous drama in their lives. 
That stuff gets on my nerves too, but for some reason, I just drink her novels up like they're bottles of water on a hot summer day. The fact that both her series, Luxe and Bright Young Things, are set in the past, and during some awesome time periods no less (turn of the century to the 1900s, and the 1920s, respectively), makes them even harder for me to resist. Say what you want about her, I own all 7 novels and would totally check out her next series without missing a beat. 

I wouldn't be surprised if John Green showed up on lots of lists this week. He is beloved. And he has written some great novels. I just don't really buy them. I get them from the library because I know I'll only read them once. I have read three of his novels so far: Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, and An Abundance of Katherines, and even though this means going against the grain, I think Paper Towns is my favourite. I enjoyed them for sure, so I will definitely read his future novels (hence why he is on this list), but for me they are one-time reads. I currently have The Fault in Our Stars on my bedroom floor and keep putting off reading it because I don't want to cry. I'll get there one day. 

Yes. She totally writes her novels for 13 year olds. And yes, I totally still read them. Her Shadow Children series was one I started years ago and, despite being older and older every time a new one came out, I had to see it through to the end. It was about a society where couples were only allowed to have two children and focused on a boy who was an illegal third child, living in hiding. It was really well written and I loved the concept and own the whole series.
Since I enjoyed that series so much, when I heard about The Missing series from a school book order in 2008 (I was in middle school, so only just over the intended audience), I figured I'd give it a chance. It is about a bunch of kids who were stolen from their lives in different times in the past when they were babies and adopted by unknowing present-day parents. When someone comes along who knows what happens, he wants to send them all back to their proper lives, as their being stolen away has altered history. The main character, Jonah, and his sister have to accompany these children on their return to their lives. I love the history involved. For example, one of the stolen children is from the lost colony of Roanoke. Another is a prince from 1400s England. The logic doesn't always work out, but I still enjoy them and am keeping up with all of the books from this series as well. 

8. And some more recent ones: Tahereh Mafi.
I loved Shatter Me. I think her writing style is amazing and the story was such a great idea. Her characters, while I don't like them all as people *cough Warner cough*, are definitely interesting as characters. I will absolutely own the whole trilogy and I'm sure I'll be excited about what she comes up with next. 

Again, only read one book so far but I absolutely loved it. Venom was beautiful and exciting. I loved how Renaissance Venice came alive, and Falco was very... well, swoon-worthy. Yeah, let's go with that. Another trilogy I will definitely own in its entirety, and I'll keep an eye on her work under the name Paula Stokes as well. 

You write me YA about Tudor England and I'll read it. You write me YA about Tudor England like Katherine Longshore has, and you've got yourself a new fan. I can't wait for the rest of this series. Gilt was about Catherine Howard, one of Henry VIII's wives. Anne Boleyn, another wife (and possibly the most famous) is next in Tarnish and I am so excited!

What do you think of my author picks? Who are yours? I've love to visit your posts, so feel free to leave links in the comments!


ARC Review: Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger.

Published February 5, 2013.
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
Source: Borrowed from Ciara @ Lost At Midnight Reviews.

Goodreads Blurb:
It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Sophronia Temminnick at 14 is a great trial more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners -- and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Her poor mother, desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady, enrolls the lively tomboy in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But young ladies learn to finish...everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage -- in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year's education.

My Review:

Reading that blurb, this sounds like such a fun novel. While it was fun and I definitely enjoyed it, it wasn't everything that I had hoped it would be. I am a big fan of the teens-as-spies stories. They are so often exciting and fast-paced, and maybe I just always dreamed of training as a spy myself (not that I would ever make it). Since I love the idea so much (plus, combined with some steampunk-y aspects, hello), going into this I thought "where could it possibly go wrong?"

I think it went wrong in a couple areas. First off, I am only 18, so I'm still a teen and a "young adult" but even so, I often felt too old for this novel. Yes, the main character Sophronia is only 14, but in many YA novels it isn't hard to just mentally "age up" the characters a few years if you're outside the "intended audience." With this one though, I often felt like the characters and the scenarios felt very young. Too young for me to be able to age anyone up. Now, for some people this may not be a problem whatsoever. To me though, it just felt immature. Unfortunately, this also made the language seem off at times. I really enjoyed the language used, because it was elevated and smart, but with immature characters it felt out of place.

Unfortunately, I also found the plot fairly slow. There was heightened energy at times, and there were exciting things that happened from the beginning which did keep me entertained; however, I was constantly waiting for the climax of the novel. I was tapping my fingers waiting for the big, exciting pivotal moment which only came at the very end. I understand that yes, there is another book coming, so it's okay to not have resolution and closing at the end of the first book, but I missed it. I felt like I waited so long for the big moment and it finally happened and then the book just ends. Kind of disappointing.

That being said, I did still enjoy the novel. Sophronia was an interesting character. Very full of life, and a little sassy. She is bold and forward and not at all ashamed of herself. She knows she's not the perfect daughter, hence the finishing school, but she is proud of being curious and a little mischievous. I also enjoyed the language used in the novel. As I mentioned before, it was smart, and it was also very good at enhancing the setting. Finally, I really enjoyed the mystery as well. It was fun trying to solve the little pieces along with Sophronia, but I do wish there had been more information at the end to help wrap it up. Maybe we'll know more come the sequel?

Overall, a fun novel with an enjoyable main character and an interesting mystery, but fell flat in a few areas for me. I'll still read the sequel because something like pacing and exciting events is very easily changed in a follow up. I definitely want to know more concerning the mystery and I'd like to see more of the finishing school training as well in the next one.
3 stars.


Cover Reveal: Bitter Angel by Megan Hand

So technically this cover reveal went down yesterday, but I've been away from my laptop and couldn't put the post together. However, since I've spoken to Megan many times (she's wonderful, by the way), and I read a late draft of this novel and thought it was fantastic, I wanted to make sure to feature the cover here.

First, a little about the novel:

Title: Bitter Angel
Author: Megan Hand
Expected release date: April 1, 2013
Genre: Thriller
Age Group: New Adult 

Cover Designer: B Design: http://bdesignpublishingservices.wordpress.com/ 
Cover reveal organized by: AToMR Tours
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17181920-bitter-angel

Book Description:
Torn between two realities.
A choice that will mean life or death.
She won’t know anything… until she wakes up.

College sophomore, Lila Spencer lived Friday night twice. She doesn’t know how or why, just that she did. As if she split in half and went in two different directions.

Out clubbing with her friends, Heather and Nilah, the girls rock it out and party hard. What begins as an innocent night will lead to a deadly fight for their lives, and Lila might be their only chance for survival.

In bed with her boyfriend, Jay, Lila is safe and warm as she drifts to sleep in the arms of the man she loves. Until she is sucked into a horrifying nightmare of her friends’ deaths.

As the sunlight warms her face on Saturday morning, the two scenarios collide. But there can be only one outcome. Will she wake up in her warm bed with Jay by her side, devastated and grieving for her friends? Or was she there to save them?

The answer is just the beginning.

And now, without further ado, the cover:

Isn't that fantastic? I think it looks great, very dark and intriguing, and it fits the story so well. A perfect cover! I think you are all really going to enjoy this one, so keep your eye out for it!

About the Author:

At twelve, Megan decided to write a novel. A month later, she quit. A reading junkie by nature, she started writing again in her twenties as a way to get the voices out, because who wouldn't want to create a Real Living Person out of thin air? Megan also plays the piano and sings. She teaches little kids and takes pictures of pretty butterflies. She eats way too much chocolate, is sort of a mad scientist with her blender, and spends an unhealthy amount of time LOLing on Facebook and Twitter. She lives in Ohio with her husband and very smiley son. Bitter Angel is her first published novel. 
Blog: http://meganhandwrites.blogspot.com/ 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/meganhandauthor 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/meganhandwrites

Waiting on Wednesday #17: ACID

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This is where you showcase an upcoming release you're anxiously awaiting!
This week, I'm waiting on:

ACID by Emma Pass.

Expected Publication: April 25, 2013.
Publisher: Corgi Children's/Random House Children's.

Goodreads Summary:
ACID - the most brutal police force in history.
They rule with an iron fist.
They see everything. They know everything.
They locked me away for life.

My crime?
They say I murdered my parents.
I was fifteen years old.

My name is Jenna Strong.

Why I'm Excited: If that blurb isn't intriguing enough to get me excited about the book, I don't know what would be. Not to mention the cover looks totally bad-ass! I think it's pretty clear why I'm looking forward to reading this one.

What are you waiting on this week?


ARC Review: Everbound by Brodi Ashton

Everbound by Brodi Ashton.

Published January 22, 2013.
Published by Balzer & Bray.
Source: Won an ARC from Epic Reads' Tea Time (Thank you!).

Goodreads Blurb:
Nikki Beckett could only watch as her boyfriend, Jack, sacrificed himself to save her, taking her place in the Tunnels of the Everneath for eternity — a debt that should’ve been hers. She’s living a borrowed life, and she doesn’t know what to do with the guilt. And every night Jack appears in her dreams, lost and confused and wasting away.

Desperate for answers, Nikki turns to Cole, the immortal bad boy who wants to make her his queen — and the one person least likely to help. But his heart has been touched by everything about Nikki, and he agrees to assist her in the only way he can: by taking her to the Everneath himself.

Nikki and Cole descend into the Everneath, only to discover that their journey will be more difficult than they’d anticipated — and more deadly. But Nikki vows to stop at nothing to save Jack — even if it means making an incredible sacrifice of her own.

In this enthralling sequel to Everneath, Brodi Ashton tests the bonds of destiny and explores the lengths we’ll go to for the ones we love.

My Review:
*Caution: Will contain spoilers for the first novel, Everneath. I will try not to include big spoilers for this one, though*

Well. If you haven't read my review of Everneath yet, I would suggest you do because the way I feel about this one is very similar to the way I felt about that one.

Nikki has not grown. She is still the same frustrating, flat character. She is a little bit less passive in this one, but I still didn't enjoy her. I make notes while I read in order to be able to write these reviews and one of my notes says "Nikki is a crazy person. Who does she think she is!?" which just shows you that I am not a fan of hers. She claims to be extremely determined to get to the Everneath to save Jack, yet when Cole, her way there, finally shows, she steps away from him. It's like as soon as he shows up, getting to the Everneath, which was all she talked about until that point, becomes less important than avoiding him. What?! Her actions don't match what we're told about her. She tends to let things happen to her instead of making them happen, which she did tons of in the first novel. She even admits in this one that she doesn't think! I didn't care much about her the first time around, and now I just don't like her. Not really an upgrade. At least I liked Cole better in this one. He shows more emotion and he seems to care more. I also like his dry sense of humour, which I think is shown a lot more in this novel. So that's something. I still think Jack is right for her, though.

Now, the Everneath. From the first scene in which it is featured, all I could think was "weird." It was very strange from the beginning. Someone explodes into a red mist that all the Everlivings breathe in? That's kind of gross, actually. It did get a little bit more interesting when the idea of the rings of the Everneath are introduced. I thought they were well executed and well involved in the story.

One of my biggest issues with the novel (aside from Nikki) was the convenience of it all. For example, when Nikki first enters the Everneath, Cole yanks her out just before she is impaled by Shades. He can just reach in and yank her out? And how convenient, that he does it right at that time. Another one that bugged me: it's just convenient for the storyline that time discrepancies in the Everneath aren't always the same from one day to another. It seems like an excuse for more events to happen in the plot, and I was not impressed.

In the end, I'll say at least there was more mythology in this one, but I was left with a lot of unanswered questions and not much motivation to bother reading the last book to have them answered.
2 stars.


Review: Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons.

Published January 31, 2012.
Published by Tor Teen.
Source: Purchased.

Goodreads Blurb:
New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don't come back.

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren't always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it's hard for her to forget that people weren't always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It's hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.

Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow.

That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings—the only boy Ember has ever loved.

My Review:

I have a very clear idea for this one of what I liked and what I didn't, and I can quite easily divide those sections into two clear breaks, so that's how I'll write this review.

Plot: Almost Awesome.
Set up so well and jumps into action right away. Quite fast paced, moves really well. I definitely enjoyed how the world building was woven into the plot, instead of having the two separated and dealt with one at a time. They don't have to alternate; they work into each other and are great together. I really enjoyed the idea of the novel, the plot, and how much I learned about the future that the novel is set in. I just wish the characters' actions felt worked better with where I wanted the plot to go. It seemed like Ember was constantly moving off the path and away from what I had hoped for, and Chase did not help move it back much. I also wish their *ugh* romance was better than it was. They were terrible to one another. On a better note, I mostly have to agree with Booklist who says on the back of the book that "The action never stops." And this is great. There is usually something happening. Thank goodness for this, because otherwise I would have to really deal with the characters. On that note...

Characters: Annoying.
They made me so frustrated! Ember has a one-track mind determination about her, which leads to a complete lack of logic on her part. She acts on impulse and fear and stupid snap decisions. I constantly felt like she just wasn't thinking, ever. She acts out constantly and is awful to Chase, when really he only deserves a little bit of anger. She also can't seem to make up her mind about him. She loves him, then she hates him, then she loves him again, then she regrets it, then she's scared of him, and on and on. It gets tiring. There is also a point near the end of the novel when she gets some really bad news and instead of this motivating her to stand up and do something, she gives up and gets people, including herself, in danger. This was beyond frustrating for me.
Chase was also a bit of a pain in the butt, although he actually used his brain. He tries to protect Ember, but the entire time he is completely cold towards her. Emotionless and even mean at times. No thank you, that is not what I want from a rescuer. I definitely like old Chase more than new Chase and I hope more of old him comes out in the sequel. But the lack of brains and logic in one character and the lack of emotion in the other made this novel plot-based enjoyment only for me.

So overall, the fact that I do want to read the sequel rounds this up to:
2 stars.


Waiting on Wednesday #16: Strands of Bronze and Gold

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This is where you showcase an upcoming release you're anxiously awaiting!
This week, I'm waiting on:

Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson.

Expected Publication: March 12, 2013.
Publisher: Random House Children's Books.

Goodreads Summary:
The Bluebeard fairy tale retold. . . .

When seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram’s beloved father dies, she receives an unexpected letter. An invitation—on fine ivory paper, in bold black handwriting—from the mysterious Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather. With no money and fewer options, Sophie accepts, leaving her humble childhood home for the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey, in the heart of Mississippi.

Sophie has always longed for a comfortable life, and she finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her. And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives—all with hair as red as her own—in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world.

Glowing strands of romance, mystery, and suspense are woven into this breathtaking debut—a thrilling retelling of the “Bluebeard” fairy tale.

Why I'm excited: Well first take a look at that cover. Gorgeous, right? That was the first thing that drew me in. A fairy tale retelling is something I could definitely go for, so I'll definitely be picking this one up when it comes out in just a month!

What are you waiting on this week?


Review: The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan.

Published February 12, 2012.
Published by Knopf BYR.
Source: Library.

Goodreads Summary:
On remote Rollrock Island, men make their living--and fetch their wives--from the sea.

The Witch Misskaella knows how to find the girl at the heart of a seal. She'll coax a beauty from the beast for any man, for a price. And what man wouldn't want a sea-wife, to and to hold, and to keep by his side forever?

But though he may tell himself that he is the master, one look in his new bride's eyes will transform him just as much as it changes her. Both will be ensnared--and the witch will look on, laughing.

In this magical, seaswept novel, Margo Lanagan tells an extraordinary tale of desire, despair, and transformation. With devastatingly beautiful prose, she reveals characters capable of unspeakable cruelty, but also of unspoken love.

My Review:

I'm sad to say that I was really disappointed by this one. It got a little better as it went on, but had I not been reading it for a book club challenge, I would have put it down after about 30 pages. It started of way too slow for me. There were many, many times I just felt like abandoning it. It is split into multiple shorter stories that all tie together, told from different people's points of view, and I even had trouble getting through the first two. I felt there were too many characters in them and I didn't feel like I was really following along.

Also disappointing for me was that her writing style didn't work for me. It reminded me in many ways of Maggie Stiefvater's in The Scorpio Races, except that I devoured Maggie's and felt it in my heart, whereas Margo's while often beautiful and poetic, felt disconnected and cold. It wasn't as clear or as moving as Maggie's was to me, so I kept comparing and being let down. I even had trouble picturing the scenes described. I so wanted to see them, but I just couldn't. 35 pages of the story felt like 100, so it was rough reading.

One of the most important characters, Misskaella, has a long section for her narration, and she describes  that she has a sad life when she is young, but I never cared enough about her to feel bad. She got a little more interesting when she had some fire in her heart, but her story had already lost me long ago by that point, and there was no getting me back. I only really cared at all about two of the stories told: Bet's and Dominic's. In both of these, I only cared for select characters (Bet, her mother, and her step-sister in the first, and Kitty in the second), and these characters were the ones who had their lives shattered by Misskaella and the sea-wives she conjures. That was all that really got to me from the entire book.

I really wanted to love these stories because I loved the idea of them, but all except four characters out of dozens refused to connect with me, unfortunately, and the idea of the sea-wives was not played out in a way I enjoyed at all. I wanted so much more from the book.
1.5 stars.


Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han.
Paperback, 276 pages.
First Published May 5, 2009.
Published by Simon & Schuster BYR.
Source: Purchased.

Goodreads Summary:
Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer--they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

My Review:
I picked this one up expecting it to be a nice, light read. It wasn't. Not really.

The emotions in this book run wild. There is a lot of love and loss and hurt and jealousy (and on and on) to deal with. Sometimes I felt it. Jenny is a wonderful writer and she really expressed Belly's feelings and wants well. Even when I didn't like Belly because she was being a brat or something similar, I still saw what she was feeling underneath her defensive, quick to react exterior. My issue with this book is that I didn't really connect with it. I didn't love any of the characters. I liked some, like Susannah and Jeremiah, and Cam, a boy Belly meets on the beach. I just never felt any really strong emotions for them. As for the other characters... meh. I didn't care all that much for them. I could see how they struggled and how they hurt, but it never felt true enough for me. Especially from Belly's mom and from Conrad and even at times from Belly. The characters were really hit or miss.

The plot was also pretty hit or miss. I really devoured some scenes because I was curious as to what would happen next, but other just felt slow and while that pace fits for a beachy, summertime read, that's not really what this book was. I don't really have much more to say about the plot because it just kind of happened. It happened and I'm over it. I feel bad for saying that, but that's how I feel.

I will say that the ending surprised me. I had expected it to go a different way, and I was unfortunately left feeling almost a little indifferent. I guess this is where the "wish I had connected more" comes in. It was good. It surprised me. It just didn't get to me. I wish I had liked it more because the first book I read by Jenny Han was Shug, and it was great. This one just wasn't quite right for me. Good, but nothing special.
So I'll go with 3 stars on this one.


Waiting on Wednesday #15: Poison

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This is where you showcase an upcoming release you're anxiously awaiting!
This week, I'm waiting on:
Poison by Bridget Zinn.

Expected Publication: March 12, 2013.
Publisher: Disney Hyperion.

Goodreads Summary:
Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.

But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart . . . misses.

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

Kyra is not your typical murderer, and she’s certainly no damsel-in-distress—she’s the lovable and quick-witted hero of this romantic novel that has all the right ingredients to make teen girls swoon.

Why I'm Excited: I need more fairy-tale type novels in my life. I don't think I read enough of them, and this one sounds like a wonderful debut novel. The main character also sounds like a kick-butt female, which is hard not to love!

What are you waiting on this week?


ARC Review: Pantomime by Laura Lam

Pantomime by Laura Lam.

ARC, 392 pages.
To be published February 5, 2013.
Published by Strange Chemistry.
Source: Received review copy from the publisher. Thank you very much, Strange Chemistry!

Goodreads Summary:
R. H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass—remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone—are wonders beyond the wildest imagination. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimaera is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide.

Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls. Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star.

But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.

My Review:
I wasn't sure what to expect going into this book but I was excited by the idea of a debut author and a circus. The premise sounded great so I was looking forward to giving the novel a go.
Am I ever glad I did.

This book was wonderful. The circus and the world of Ellada truly come alive. There were moments where I could really see the acts of the circus as they were performing. I was absolutely drawn in. I loved the diversity of Ellada and how there is a lot that is based in our reality and could be real in our world but that there is also the fantasy element with things related to the older, more mythical parts of the story's world.

The characters were incredible. I really felt something for each of the important ones. Micah has so many layers to him and really develops through the story. Gene is not at all what everyone wants her to be and struggles with coming to terms with that. Gene and Micah each hold a secret and maybe I should have guessed what they were, but when Gene's was revealed I was quite surprised. I really loved that the two back-and-forth narrators of the story were both so likeable and honest. I think my only issue was that I had trouble at times keeping track of all of the minor characters, like the lesser-used circus folk. However, they each did have something unique about them, so once I got a grasp on them all, I could remember.

While for the most part, the plot was not the most fast paced or action packed, it was engrossing nonetheless. There was a lot of amazing description and exploration of both the world and the characters' relationships which I found really drew me in. The story really picks up in the last 30 or so pages and it moved so quickly I was left speechless when I turned the last page. I really wished I could have stayed in the world of Pantomime for much longer.

I really wanted to read this one because ever since reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern I've been yearning for another amazing novel about a circus that truly enchanted me the way The Night Circus did. I hoped this would be it and while this one absolutely did enchant me, I can't compare it to Morgenstern's novel because they are so different. Pantomime is unlike anything else I've ever read. It takes character growth and the idea of discovering who you truly are and brings it to a level I have never seen before. It is a truly beautiful novel. I adored it. I'm so glad to hear that there is a sequel coming! I was left with a few questions and mysteries I hope are answered in it. It promises to be exciting!
4.5 stars.