Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

Release date: April 19, 2011
Publisher: HarlequinTEEN
Format: Paperback
Pages: 293
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Ebook available from: Barnes & Noble | Amazon

It's always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he's crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess.
I have positives and negatives for The Goddess Test. I was interested. I had to know just what was going to happen, and if my suspicions were right. I thought the idea behind the story was an intriguing one that a lot could have been done with. I'll read the second one, because I got myself invested in Kate and Henry's relationship. I also thought much of the characterization was blah, and that the mythology was not quite up to par, though.

Characterization... What can I say? There were a few too many cookie cutter qualities for me. For example, Ava is a spoiled cheerleader type with the hottest boyfriend in school who doesn't like the protagonist because her boyfriend is nice to the new girl. Been done a thousand times. Sure we find out more later, but she still has the same basic personality throughout the whole book: materialistic, promiscuous, and self-centered. Bleh. Even Kate was a bit blah to me at times. She didn't want to know what was going on around her. Really? You're stuck in what you believe to be Hades' mansion surrounded by the dead, and you are content with that?

I'm really not normally one to complain about tampering with myths. Myths have been changed time and time again as the years go by, so why not tweak them a bit to help yourself out? I just didn't see going against things that are evidenced time and time again throughout the stories. The gods are known for having been bed-hopping kinds of people, so their judgement on lust is just ludicrous. I would think that being lustful was a quality necessary to be one of them, not the opposite. Part of the reason people were fascinated with the gods was that they were all powerful, yet human in their faults. So them holding Kate up to some kind of perfect standard just doesn't mesh. Sure, they think a lot of themselves, but I think they'd even realize the silliness of that. (Okay, I'm off my soapbox now. Please don't hate me!)

After all of that ranting, I really did enjoy the book!! The plot was smoothly paced. There were no lulls; I just HAD to keep turning the pages. Like I said before, the idea for the story is a really cool one. I also liked the idea of Persephone's story being quite different from the one everyone had learned over the years. I could see how that is something that could have truly happened, and it made me truly like Hades (Henry) when the only idea of him I really had was the blue-haired guy from Hercules--a radically different idea than the one I got from the book.

I loved the relationship between Kate and her mother. A lot of young adult novels have neglectful or absent parents, and I loved seeing a healthy relationship between a character and her mother. Her willingness to give up everything to save her mother is such a beautiful trait, especially since we see no hint of resentment for it. I also actually really liked the relationship between Kate and Henry. They start off really as nothing, and their mutual affection grows slowly through actually spending time together, not lust. They just enjoy their time together and that fosters a healing love that I found to be quite beautiful.

So while I have conflicting views of different aspects of The Goddess Test, as a whole, I really enjoyed it. My real complaints are my personal nitpicking more than anything. I'm really looking forward to Goddess Interrupted!

Risk a paper cut? Those with a passing interest in mythology will enjoy the modern interpretation of a classic myth, while everyone else will love the sweet romance and mother/daughter relationship. I'd risk some paper cuts to re-read it!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

In My Mailbox (10)

Howdy all! It's time for In My Mailbox! In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren where bloggers get to share just what kind of lovely books and swag they got over the past week through purchasing, borrowing, gifting, etc. 

Ooh, I had such a happy week this week guys! I got a lovely package of books from Amazon that I'd ordered, plus a couple of ebooks through Netgalley. I've already read a couple of them, but they were awesomeeee. I was a happy person this week! :)

From review through Netgalley:

New Girl by Paige Harbison

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale


Hallowed by Cynthia Hand
A Million Suns by Beth Revis
Tiger's Quest by Colleen Houck
\Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Cinder by Marissa Meyer

So that's it! I've previously read Under the Never Sky and enjoyed it so much I had to own a copy of it. Isn't it pretty? I finished Cinder yesterday, and LOVED it, so keep an eye out for that review! I'd love to see all that you guys got in your mailboxes this week, and have a lovely week all! :)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Release date: March 22, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: Paperback
Pages: 320
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Ebook available from: Barnes & Noble | Amazon
What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant she trusts, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.

Wither is a hard book to write a review for. I was engrossed, even though there was not a whole ton of action. Emotionally, I was exhausted at the book's end, but not for Rhine. I hated reading about such a future, and it'd be very hard to not feel for the characters, especially Cecily. I didn't like realizing no one was outraged at all that happened to her. At thirteen, she should've been hanging out with friends, getting her first real boyfriend, and experimenting with makeup. Not a wife, not at all. And I know it's fiction, but the idea that anyone--anyone at all--could envision this as a future hurt.

All of this being said, as a whole I really enjoyed reading Wither. It's simply a hard book to recommend. As most have said before me, the atmosphere is ridiculous. The world of Rhine feels real through the atmosphere and allows for the holes in the worldbuilding. The mansion feels sinister and comfortable at the same time. Even the characters have multiple faces. It all works together to create a very specific and haunting kind of vibe, one that I hope continues throughout the second book as well.

The characters were definitely also a highlight. I thought they all had a lot of depth, and while their motives and actions were often not close to what my own might have been, I could see why they did what they did and couldn't blame them for it. They had backgrounds or motives to support them. I almost feel silly for pointing this out, but a lot of times I can't see motivation for characters, other than to drive plot, and that gets frustrating! So yay! Gabriel was easily the most likable character, though we actually see very little of him. Please give me more!!!

Because the atmosphere was palpable and the characters realistic, Wither was an emotional story. We spend a lot of time listening to Rhine's thoughts and feelings. We see how deeply she comes to care for her sister wives, even when she's angry at them. We see her feelings for Gabriel grow through his kindness and gentleness. We see her confusion as she comes to feel sympathy--and maybe something more?--for Linden. We really feel all of her emotions, and I LOVED this. I am that much more invested in a book if I can feel a protagonist's emotions, and it really kept me reading.

Wither is a huge testament to Lauren DeStefano's writing ability. She takes a very hard subject and, at least in my opinion, doesn't belittle the seriousness. Rather, she shows us the pain of the situation, and makes us feel for her characters. There was little action, and the climax came and went very quickly, but Wither was an excellent read to me.
I would not recommend Wither to younger readers of young adult. The subject matter is very adult and not presented in the most delicate way (a way that works for the story, but isn't quite right for someone not in high school at least--in my opinion.)
Risk a paper cut? I really don't know how comfortable I am recommending Wither, but if you find your tastes coincide with mine, and can stomach some upsetting things, I'd say it's a rather illuminating read. If that helps??

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Release date: March 2, 2010
Publisher: Hyperion
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 323
Ebook available from: Barnes & Noble | Amazon
Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.
I put off reading Hex Hall for quite a long time. This was because I really didn't believe I'd like it. My mistake!  I thought it was a whole lot of fun to read, and cannot wait to get myself the next one.

Sophie was pretty darn cool. I like that she's just a normal, gooby person. This is oh so very much like me. She makes some rather witty comments, which I do not do, but she's just so normal. She's got problems, albeit some are rather different from mine, but her reactions and methods of dealing with them are practically identical to me. I find it hard to believe a teenager reacting like an adult to situations, and Sophie most certainly does not.

I really found pretty much all of the other characters to be very engaging and well done. Jenna was probably the most awesome. She was just so different from most of what I read, and she goes through a lot of things most teenagers obviously don't see, and she handles it very admirably. I do not hold her wallowing against her in the least. Archer slowly becomes very interesting to read about, and I sure hope we find out more about him in the next book!

Hex Hall really is just an easy, fun, relaxing read, and the writing reflects that. It's very based in modern culture and doesn't strive to be more complex or high brow than its subject, which I appreciate. The overall tone and feeling of the book is FUN. We have fun reading about Sophie and her obnoxious retorts. We enjoy seeing the banter between her and Archer. We secretly giggle when the mean girl gets her just desserts. You can't come out of Hex Hall without feeling good, and sometimes that's really just the perfect read.

Risk a paper cut? While not being a philosophical or earth-shattering novel, Hex Hall is easily one of the most enjoyable books I've read recently. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

In My Mailbox (9)

Howdy all! It's time for In My Mailbox! In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren where bloggers get to share just what kind of lovely books and swag they got over the past week through purchasing, borrowing, gifting, etc. 

Have you missed me? I'm such a terrible blogger when I get busy. I've been at Disney for a bit over a week and I've just been super busy. My first day of on the job training starts today, so WOO! I've barely even had time to read. :( We'll see what happens! But I have a few new things to share, so here goes!

For review through Netgalley:

Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown

Spellcaster (Spellbound #2) by Cara Lynn Schultz


Wither by Lauren DeStefano

So that's it! I've already finished Wither, and it was pretty great. I can't wait for Fever. I'm really excited to read Spellcaster, since I loved Spellbound. I've yet to read The Goddess Test, but I'll be getting to it soon, and then I'm sure I'll be absolutely dying for Goddess Interrupted! Lies Beneath just looked pretty darn good. :) I'd love to see what you all got in your mailboxes!! Have a great week!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck

Release date: January 11, 2011
Publisher: Sterling
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 402
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Ebook available from: Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Passion. Fate. Loyalty.

Would you risk it all to change your destiny?


The last thing Kelsey Hayes thought she’d be doing this summer was trying to break a 300-year-old Indian curse. With a mysterious white tiger named Ren. Halfway around the world. But that’s exactly what happened. Face-to-face with dark forces, spellbinding magic, and mystical worlds where nothing is what it seems, Kelsey risks everything to piece together an ancient prophecy that could break the curse forever.
Tiger's Curse scared me quite badly at the beginning. When I started it, I didn't find the writing to be very tight or good at all, really. I didn't think I was going to get into the story and was so afraid it was going to become a book I just couldn't finish. Luckily, the story swept me into it's folds and I was whisked along on a great ride with Kelsey and Ren. I don't know if the writing got better, or if I was just able to ignore it, but it just kind of melted away to me.

Easily the most fascinating aspect of Tiger's Curse is the mythology behind it all. It is obvious how much thought and time was put into Ren and Kishan's curse. The details of the journey Kelsey must take in order for it to be broken are interesting and very in depth. I found myself just as fascinated as Kelsey in learning all that I could about Indian culture, especially when it's told from the eyes of someone who experienced it, as from Mr. Kadam.

But, oh, Kelsey. For most of the book, I was really quite happy with her. She was an easily sympathetic character, and one I was happy to learn more about and follow on a journey. I loved that she was so willing to help Ren and believed that spoke a lot about what kind of person she was. She didn't disappoint me in that, but I couldn't help wanting to grab her by the shoulders and give her a good shake. I mean, the doubts she expresses (which are why I want to attack her a little bit) are completely unfounded. She had seemed like such a confident character, one that went for what she wanted despite things holding her back, that it was sad to see. I think she'll get over it in the next book (at least she better, or I really might find a way to defy natural law and jump into the book and slap some sense into her).

As for all of the other characters, I loved them. Mr. Kadam and Ren had a relationship that I loved, one that is hard to find in real life and in fiction and was a treat to read. I hope that as Ren gains more time as a human we'll see more of their history and of their dynamic. Ren all in all was a treat to read, honestly. I got a little annoyed hearing how beautiful he was all of the time, but I could overlook that since we really got a good taste of his personality past his good looks. I especially found that his traditional manners and values were so refreshing to read about.

Tiger's Curse is a vividly imagined, though maybe a little bit too wordy, adventure. The romance is nicely done and not rushed. The characters are mostly a treat to read about, despite their infuriating tendencies at times.

Risk a paper cut? Yes, there are flaws, but altogether reading Tiger's Curse was anything but a curse.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Release date: December 6, 2011
Publisher: Margaret K. Elderry Books
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 528
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Ebook available from: Barnes & Noble | Amazon
In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa's powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister's war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will; the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.
Hooooo, I knew I was going to love this. All I heard were ridiculously good things, and I loved loved loved Clockwork Angel. I'd quite like the Mortal Instruments novels, but I adore the Infernal Devices. I believe that it's the setting, since I'm a sucker for anything Victorian, especially in London. While I knew I was going to love the book simply because of what it was, I loved it for so many other, more worthy reasons.

There are so many things I could talk about in my love of Clockwork Prince, but then this review would be even longer and more rambling than normal, and I think you'd all fall asleep. The biggest reason I'm in love? Characters. Not just Tessa, Will, and Jem, though they'd be enough in themselves, but Jessamine, Magnus, Charlotte, Henry, Sophie, Gideon, Gabriel... Need I name more? I'm not going to go into all of them, but each and every character has something worthy of my love. They're all real and complex, with the insecurities and bad choices that come with being real.

I can't not mention our main characters though. Tessa is growing and becoming more and more aware of her unique powers and the positive and negative aspects of them. She's dying to know just who and what she is. At the same time, she's focused on saving not only herself but those she loves from the Magister. She's going through so much, but she's growing up and becoming such a wonderful character to read. I especially loved just how aware of the relationship between Will and Jem she is. She's not selfish, and understands that hurting one is hurting the other, but making one happy is breaking the other's heart.

Jem especially grew into his own during Clockwork Prince. We get a good glimpse of him in Clockwork Angel, but only here do we see the depth of his goodness and really understand Tessa's dilemma. Where Will is distant, rude, and brooding, Jem is warm, kind, and gracious. But while we get so much about Jem, and really grow to love him, we really get as much about Will. We learn about his family, and what a good person he really is. By the end of the book, you understand just why he is the way he is, and your heart has broken for him several times over. I honestly don't know what the ending of this is going to be, but I can promise that it's going to leave just about everyone sobbing.

I honestly could talk about this book all day, but I fear I'd lose every single one of you. Start the book for the previous one and/or your love of the Mortal Instruments, but finish it, cry, laugh, and scream over it for the characters. Cassandra Clare has really developed her ability to tug at your heartstrings and leave you dying for more to a tee.

Risk a paper cut? Why are you even reading this? Am I really not convincing you?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

In My Mailbox (8)

Howdy all! It's time for In My Mailbox! In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren where bloggers get to share just what kind of lovely books and swag they got over the past week through purchasing, borrowing, gifting, etc. 

Whew! I hope you all had a really lovely Christmas and New Year! I certainly did, and this is part of why I didn't post IMM for the past two weeks. I've not gotten much, given that I couldn't buy books, and I've been trying to control myself on Netgalley, etc. I got one book for Christmas, and 3 from Netgalley this week!

For review through Netgalley:
Revealing Eden by Victoria Foyt
Thanks to Sand Dollar Press!

Stolen Away by Alyxandra Harvey
Thanks to Walker Books!

The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Thanks to Amulet Books!

My parents apparently think I read too much YA... They may be right. Hehehe. Plus I love Russia for some reason. :)

So that's it! Not a lot, but I'm excited to read them all! I look forward to checking out what you all got this week, and have a lovely coming week! I don't know how around I'll be until about Thursday (when I should be back for sure) because I'm finally heading to check into Disney World for my college program! We leave Monday, will be having fun Tuesday, and I check in and move in Wednesday. By Thursday, all will be well though. Perhaps we'll have an unexpectedly non-review post... Hmmm. Okay, I'm rambling. BYE!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

Release date: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 418
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Ebook available from: Barnes & Noble | Amazon
Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
Where to start? I had a completely different idea of what Daughter of Smoke and Bone was going to be in my head when I began. I don't really know what that was, but it seemed awesome. Why my brain didn't pick up on the angel and demon clues, I do not know. BUT, when we got into that I groaned inwardly. While I honestly deeply enjoyed Laini Taylor's completely original and unrelated to practically all things angels and demons, I couldn't get that niggling idea that they WERE angels out of my mind. And I'm just tired of angels. So tired I couldn't even get past the prologue of Torment. I think a rereading of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, knowing what I'm going into will help me a bit, but at the same time, I really did enjoy it. Am I making sense?

The most striking and, honestly, the most enjoyable part of the book is Laini Taylor's genius writing. Her descriptions of the streets of Prague made me feel like I was there, walking along with Karou, experiencing the sights and sounds of the city. The atmosphere was ridiculously spot on throughout the whole book, and I always felt like my disposition was perfectly suited to the action. There's something almost macabre about the way the book is visualized, but it's beautiful. She brings out the darkness of the world through her settings and through her story. Reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone was a treat for my good writing denied mind.

I also found Karou to be a very compelling protagonist. She has lived this extraordinary life the people around her wouldn't imagine in their wildest fantasies. She has been shot, deals with the scum of the earth bartering for teeth, grew up with amalgam animals that are the stuff of fairy tales, and knows that wishes do honestly come true. At the same time, she's lived with more mystery in her life than anyone around her. She's not told what the teeth are for, where wishes come from, or even the origin of her chimera friends. Just that is fascinating by itself. Added in with the adventure Karou finds herself in, we are in for a riveting read.

In addition, I found that every character was there for a purpose. In a ridiculous number of books, aside from the integral players--in this case, Karou, Akiva, Brimstone, and Thiago, basically--anyone else is really not treated as important. This is completely untrue here. I adored Zuzana and laughed out loud several times in any scene she was in, and could tell she was a true friend to Karou. At the same time, that was not all she's around for in the book. She's a fleshed-out person, one who has a life aside from her dealings with Karou, though those are integral. This is my point. So many times we have characters thrown in just to serve as information spouts or as an obligatory friend, so someone doesn't seem like a total loser, and they fall flat. None of Laini Taylor's characters were like this, and for that I salute her.

Yes, it sounds like I'm raving. And there's a lot to rave about. But (yes, a BUT!) I couldn't help but feel that it suffered from the oft noticed lack of a developed romantic relationship. Sure, they're lovely looking people, but love and a relationship so world-moving as Akiva and Karou's tries to be should be based on a little more than attraction. Something more is alluded to in the story with Madrigal, but it didn't convince me. His life is saved, hooray. She did something out of the norm, hooray. But all he notices is her beauty and that she saves him. She notices his beauty and saves his life. Ta da! Love. This is really my only hangup, and why I gave it four stars. I'm hoping a sequel fixes this complaint and can earn five stars from me. I really want to, but, alas, cannot in good conscience.

Risk a paper cut? This is really a cut above many, if not most, crazily hyped books out there right now. I don't think anyone could regret reading it and don't worry about the angel thing. Not a problem. :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

I'm Cleaning Out My Shelves. Who Wants Some Free Books?

I've posted a new tab at the top of the page! On it, I've listed over 40 books that I'm looking to be rid of. Rather than bringing them to the secondhand bookstore I never go to (where the lady would hate me) I'm giving you all the chance to get them. They're a little random, but whatever.

All of the books except for some of the nonfiction ones are in good shape. I take good care of my books. :)

If you're interested in any of them, all you have to do is email me at papercutsblog@gmail.com and tell me which ones you want. I'm only asking that you pay for the shipping!

So please check out the books, and I'll have a few new reviews up this week! Happy New Year!!!