Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Release Date: March 2, 2010
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 323
SynopsisThree 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.
Review: As an amateur writer, I tend to think of story ideas and then write short summaries of them. Sometimes, when I'm particularly fond of one idea, I'll email it to a close friend and see what she says about it. I had an idea about a school for paranormal and supernatural beings. The main character would be a witch who ends up at the school because of a spell gone awry. When my friend read it, she told me, "This sounds so familiar!" However, she couldn't think of the book it sounded like. Later, she said, "Hex Hall! It sounds almost exactly like Hex Hall." I was a bit heartbroken, but I was also intrigued. For the record, I had never heard of Hex Hall before that. I picked this book up to see the similarities and although there aren't that many, this book was still freaking great.

   Characters are basically the most important thing in a book to me. Sophia "Sophie" Archer was an awesome character--and her having a supah coo' first name is not the only reason why. Sophie was witty, fun and really loyal. If only she was more kick butt. I felt like, although Sophie is supposedly the most powerful witch, she didn't really live up to her full potential. However, she was still interesting and extremely fun to read about. My favorite character was probably Jenna, the only vampire in the school and Sophie's only friend/roommate. She was nice and extremely entertaining.

   I'm a total fangirl when it comes to guys in YA literature. So I was really disappointed with Archer. I didn't really see any swoon-worthy qualities in him, besides the fact that he was hot. I didn't see what Sophie saw in him, so the romantic aspect of the book fell flat for me.

   Another thing that fell flat for me was the plot. Obviously, I'm far too attached to nonstop action from all the dystopians I've been reading. The climax wasn't very climatic. Also, I found quite a few plot twists to be completely predictable.

   Writing is also a pretty big thing for me. Rachel Hawkins's writing was great. I loved it! It was fast, easy to read, and hilarious. It reminded me a lot of Meg Cabot and Jennifer L. Armentrout.

   Hex Hall is a brilliant start to a fascinating series. Hilarious, fun and fast paced, this book completely sucked me in. I can't wait to read the next book! What a fantastic way to wrap up the year.

   4 keys.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus

Release Date: August 24, 2010
Publisher: Egmont
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 388
SynopsisAfter her sister Athena's tragic death, it's obvious that grief-stricken Persephone "Phe" Archer no longer belongs in Los Angeles. Hoping to make sense of her sister's sudden demise and the cryptic dreams following it, Phe abandons her bubbly LA life to attend an uptight East Coast preparatory school in Shadow Hills, MA -- a school which her sister mysteriously mentioned in her last diary entry before she died. 

Once there, Phe quickly realizes that something is deeply amiss in her new town. Not only does Shadow Hills' history boast an unexplained epidemic that decimated hundreds of its citizens in the 1700s, but its modern townies also seem eerily psychic, with the bizarre ability to bend metal. Even Zach -- the gorgeous stranger Phe meets and immediately begins to lust after -- seems as if he is hiding something serious. Phe is determined to get to the bottom of it. The longer she stays there, the more she suspects that her sister's untimely death and her own destiny are intricately linked to those who reside in Shadow Hills.

Review: Oh, I hate writing negative reviews! So much! But really, what I'm about to write isn't going to be a review as much as it's going to be a rant. A rant on why I really, really disliked this book and why it was a chore to get through.

   Before we get started, let me just say, I wanted to put this book down at pg 280. However, because I hate giving up on books, I made it through all 388 pages. Let me just tell you, though, that I heavily skimmed throughout the last 100 pages or so.

   I wanted to like this book. The concept sounded creepy and awesome. The cover is totally great. The ratings on Goodreads are pretty stellar. I really wanted to enjoy this book and end 2011 with a bang. This book was more of a flop.

   I had several major problems with this book. The first was--of course, you guys know me and my relationships with characters--the main character, Persephone "Phe" Archer. She was idiotic. I'm sorry--I could not put it any nicer. You know when you're watching a horror movie and there's that dumb girl who never listens when you scream, "DON'T GO INTO THE CLOSET!" and goes into the closet anyway? Yeah, that was Phe. It's even ironic because there's a line in the book where Phe says she doesn't want to be the idiotic girl in a horror movie. Well, she is. She falls into all these stupid traps that I'm sure even a toddler would have enough sense to evade. Plus, Phe was totally gaga over Zach. I mean, I love a good romance. Key word: good. This romance was not. But more on that later. Phe was basically Bella--except Bella is like a total badass when compared to Phe. It wasn't just Phe that I didn't like. I didn't like ANY of the characters. Wait, I take that back. I liked Graham and Toy. But that's about it. Everyone else was annoying and totally two dimensional. Even Zach! And you guys know how much I like to fangirl over male leads.

   My second problem was the writing. If you like Stephenie Meyer's writing, then the following sentence will mean nothing to you, but if you're like me, then: Imagine the writing of Stephenie Meyer, except when she was a teenager. Yep. That bad. The sentences were so boring and this book was just far too long! The editor(s) should have cut out a few scenes, because it seemed like there were too many "in between" parts. The dialogue was just awful. Awful, awful, awful. I cringed every time Zach pulled a cheesy line. Or, heck, when Phe pulled a cheesy line. Honestly, the cheesiness of the dialogue was enough to challenge the Twilight saga. There were lines like this everywhere:

   "You're the most important thing in my life."

   Phe's inner monologue was just as bad. Examples:

   "Her words, the idea of not being with Zach, tore through my heart."
   "I wanted to memorize every angle, every plane, of his gorgeous face."
   "The kiss warmed my entire body, giving me strength."

   Talk about gagging. I mean, seriously. They didn't even know each other for more than two weeks and they were already in "I'D DIE FOR YOU" love. Which brings me to my next complaint: the romance. So. Much. Insta-love. And. Cliches. Cliches, cheesiness, insta-love... The romance in this book was excruciating to read about. I hate insta-love, just so you know. Cliches and cheesiness I can deal with in moderation. In this book, it was not moderation. It was the mother load. The romance was pretty terrible. Oh--and it was unbelievable. Like, really, I could not believe it. It seemed so fake. It was basically all physical. There was a lot of build up for their first kiss, but after that, they were making out on every page. You think I'm exaggerating. They even made out at a school dance. So much that a chaperon had to interrupt them. I mean, who does that?

   The one thing that I don't really have a huge complaint about is the plot. I found it pretty interesting, for the most part. A lot of unnecessary scenes and far too many unanswered questions, but other than that, it was intriguing and surprising. A lot of scenes gave me chills and goosebumps, so, yay for the thrilling part! The main plot was pretty good. However, I hated how most of the subplots just... faded away. It's like, "Wait, what happened to that other thing? And that other one? Why are the strings just left hanging?" So that was upsetting.

   So, like I said in the beginning, this is just a rant. If you've read this entire rant, you deserve an award. Seriously!

   Shadow Hills is a thrilling debut that'll leave readers sleeping with the lights on.

   This is the first time I've given this rating... 1 key.

Top Ten Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2012

Top 10 of 2011 is cohosted by A Life Bound By Books, Confessions of a Bookaholic, Fiksthun, and Two Chicks on Books. 2011 has been a fabulous year for all things book-related. I bet 2012 is going to be even better! I cannot wait for these books...

1. Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth - Divergent's my favorite book of 2011--and probably of all time. I wonder if Insurgent will be my favorite 2012 read? :)

2. Pandemonium (Delirium #2) by Lauren Oliver - Ms. Oliver is clearly evil. I mean, have you read the ending of Delirium? It's just vicious! I've heard that Pandemonium, unfortunately, does not have Alex in it... I'm going to cry, I swear. D:

3. Pure (Covenant #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout - I'm actually so happy because I have an ARC of this book! Asdfghjkl. I cannot wait to dive into it. After all, Half-Blood was mind-blowing!

4. Clockwork Princess (Infernal Devices #3) by Cassandra Clare - After Clockwork Prince, I cannot wait to see how Tessa's story ends! And, of course, what will happen to my darling Will Herondale. I hope Cassie doesn't disappoint me and tear my heart into shreds like she did in CP.

5. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins - I. Love. Stephanie. Perkins. And. Her. Books. I am so flipping excited for this third and final companion novel to the beloved Anna and the French Kiss!

6. Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi - Sounds amaazzzinnnggg! I've read a ton of phenomenal reviews for this book.

7. Article 5 by Kristen Simmons - This book just sounds so fantastic, it's kind of ridiculous! I cannot wait to read this one.

8. The Selection by Kiera Cass - From the synopsis to that gorgeous cover, The Selection is a book I'm sure everyone is waiting on!

9. Underworld (Abandon #2) by Meg Cabot - Meg Cabot. Need I say more?

10. False Memory by Dan Krokos - This one looks super great! Too bad it's later in the 2012 year.

It was so difficult narrowing down this list to only 10 books! But I did it. What's on your top ten? :)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Vote for Alex in the YA Heroine Tourney!

Last battle was Alex (Seed 23) vs Rose (Seed 8?). It was an insanely tough competition, but because the Half Blood Legion is just totally awesome, Alex was victorious! Now, Alex is against Katniss (Seed 2). It's going to be super difficult, but with your help, we can pull through!

Alex in a nutshell: funny, strong, kick butt, heroic.

So, I'm sure that by now everyone knows how fabulous Alex is, so let's just get on with the goals/rewards/incentives!

250 votes: a teaser from Pure
500 votes: a teaser from Onyx
750 votes: a teaser from Pure and Onyx
1,000 votes: a POV from Daemon (Obsidian)

1,250 votes: a teaser from Seth's POV in Pure
1,500 votes: a teaser from Shadows
WINNING votes: a teaser from Pure, Shadows, Onyx, and Cursed

Oh, is that not enough? Well, there's something HUGE going on over in Jennifer's brain. So, to delight all you Half-Blood fans...

For every 1,000 votes Alex gets--up to 6,000--Jennifer will be giving away an ARC of Pure on her twitter (@JLArmentrout)!

Did you fall out of your seat? I bet you did. You can get back up now.

Is that flipping amazing or what? Wait. Delete that last option. It's just plain flipping amazing.


Speaking of giveaways, there are a few going around for Alex and this tourney! Alex's awesome advocate (whoa--alliteration!) Momo is giving away Half-Blood, Pure, and Daimon! How cool! ENTER HERE.
Angela from Reading Angel is giving away a bunch of awesome things. So ENTER HERE.
Valerie from Stuck in Books is giving away a pre-order of Pure! Squeals! ENTER HERE.

If you read this and you're still not voting for Alex, then...
So. Yeah. Go vote for Alex!

P.S. Ya like the Supernatural gifs? ;)

Top Ten Characters of 2011

2011 has been a great year for all things book-related. A Life Bound by Books, Confessions of a Bookaholic, Fiktshun, and Two Chicks on Books are all cohosting Top Ten of 2011. Today's topic is Top Ten Characters of 2011. This is a fabulous topic because characters are, like, 70% of a book to me. Yep. They matter A LOT when I'm reading something. Here are some of my favorite heroines, heroes, villains, friends, side characters and maybe even some pets! :)

1. Tris from Divergent (Heroine) - Tris is just a totally kick butt heroine. At first, she's a weak and quiet Abnegation girl, and by the end, she's just a total warrior. She can fight, she can defend herself, and she can be funny when she wants to be.

2. Alex from Half-Blood (Heroine) - Alex... Alex, Alex, Alex. I like to think of her as a girl version of Jace, except without the brutal angst. She knows how to whoop some butt and she's freaking hilarious. She's snarky, strong and... super?

3. Four from Divergent (Hero) - I don't know how many times I can fangirl over Four without seeming obnoxious. Oh, wait... I already crossed that line ages ago. :3 Well, I have good reason. Four is intelligent, strong and a cutie. Love him!

Just realized I should've put Four as number 4. Oh. Well. Too late.

4. Will Herondale from Infernal Devices (Hero) - Oh, the old tortured soul. He's been through so much and although he acts like he could care less, he really cannot care more. He's so proactive and so loving. He's just wonderful.

5. Warner from Shatter Me (Villain) - He's on this list for a weird reason. It isn't because he was a particularly evil villian, although he kind of was. He's on this list because I loved him. He was such a fantastic character and added so much to the story! Warner was just great. I think I like him more than Adam. :P

6. Gideon Lightwood from Clockwork Prince (Friend) - The only nice Lightwood in the Infernal Devices! Gideon is a fabulous character. I'm so happy with him and his relationship (keepin' it spoiler free here). Plus, he's just so chill.

7. Luke from The Mortal Instruments (Friend) - I think Luke is my all time favorite character in the Mortal Instruments series. He's loyal and friendly, not to mention totally cool.

8. Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door (male lead) - Cricket. Oh, he's so quirky and sweet and cute and... tall. He's just wonderful. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. I love him so much! What a sweetheart.

9. Anna from Anna and the French Kiss (MC) - Anna is probably my favorite main character in contemporary fiction. She is sweet, funny, and although she has flaws, she still seems perfect! She has her quirks but she knows how to redeem herself. Never is she annoying. I just loved her all the time.

10. Kat from Uncommon Criminals (Heroine) - I think Kat is simply awesome. She's smart and successful, and maybe a bit manipulative. ;) She's truly a great person and I love reading about her!

That's my Top Ten! What's yours? :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top Ten Book Boyfriends of 2011

2011 has been a wonderful year for all things book-related. A Life Bound by Books, Confessions of a Bookaholic, Fiktshun, and Two Chicks on Books are all cohosting Top 10 of 2011. Today's topic is Top Ten Book Boyfriends. :3 This is probably my favorite topic of the week... I'm such a fangirl.

1. Four from Divergent - *drool* My goodness, Four is just a fantastic character. He has so much depth and he's capable of so much. I swear, if all boys of YA lit had to fight against each other (no paranormal powers acceptable, of course), Four would be the winner. Plus, he's a sweetheart. And intelligent. And... you get my point.

2. Will Herondale from Clockwork Prince - The classic tortured soul. I love him. I feel so bad for him. I just want to give him a hug. He's really so sweet and loving. And a book lover. Poor unfortunate soul.

3. Cricket Bell from Lola and the Boy Next Door - The epitome of male sweetness. Asdfghjkl. He's too sweet, too nice, too adorable. It's crazy!

4. Aiden St. Delphi from Half-Blood - My goodness, I need a fan. Aiden is just smokin'. And I totally love his relationship with Alex. Maybe I have a thing for the instructor/student relationship, as seen in Four/Tris.

5. Noah Shaw from The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer - Noah definitely had that creepy, arrogant aura going for him, but he was such a great guy. He was pretty perfect. Actions speak louder than words? His actions are always screaming.

I actually really want to end my list here. But I guess I can think of a few more.

6. Daniel Grigori from Fallen (yep, read it this year!)
7. Jeremy King from Virtuosity
8. John Hayden from Abandon
9. Akiva from Daughter of Smoke and Bone
10. Jace Wayland from Mortal Instruments (read the first 3 this year)

That's my Top Ten! :) What's yours? 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Top Ten Book Covers of 2011

So, 2011 has been a wonderful, wonderful year of all things book-related. A Life Bound by Books, Confessions of a Bookaholic, Fiktshun, and Two Chicks on Books are all cohosting Top 10 of 2011. Today's topic is the Top Ten Book Covers of 2011 (AKA "Covers I Want My Book To Look Like If I Ever Publish One"). This is a fun topic because I, ashamedly, judge books by covers all the time.

Left to right, top to bottom:

  • The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
  • Entwined by Heather Dixon
  • Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
  • Wither by Lauren DeStefano
  • The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegan
  • The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle
  • Tris & Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison
  • Abandon by Meg Cabot
  • The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
  • Across The Universe by Beth Revis
  • Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini 
  • Where She Went by Gayle Forman
So, again, I made my list include twelve books rather than ten. I can't help myself!! That's my Top Ten Twelve. What's yours? :)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Top Ten Books I've Read in 2011

So, 2011 has been a wonderful, wonderful year of all things book-related. A Life Bound by Books, Confessions of a Bookaholic, Fiktshun, and Two Chicks on Books are all cohosting Top 10 of 2011. Today's topic is the Top Ten Books I've Read in 2011. Please, keep in mind that these books will be books that I've read in 2011, not necessarily published in 2011.

1. Divergent by Veronica Roth - What can I really say that hasn't already been said about this fantastic book? It's got action, wit, and a freaking amazing romance. My absolute favorite book of the year, hands down. I'm so devoted to this book, I recommend it to everyone at my school. So far, I've gotten 20 people to read it. :D

2. Delirium by Lauren Oliver - Breathtaking, original and extremely thoughtful. This book was so beautifully written and amazingly crafted.

3. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - This was published in 2010, but I only read it this year. May I say that this is the best contemporary I have EVER read? It's so good! This is another book I heavily recommend, but usually only to girls who like fluff.

4. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare - Another 2010 book that I read this year. Love, love, love! I loved this book so much. The sequel was a bit disappointing, though.

5. Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout - Oh, my goodness. I was so surprised at how much I loved this book. It was amazing. I love the characters so much!

6. Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez - Again, another book I was so surprised to love. I loved this book so much that every time I went to B&N, I would look for it. But it was never there! Then one day, there was one copy of it stuck in between two super thick books, but I noticed it and grabbed it right away! :)

7. Wither by Lauren DeStefano - A dystopian that was extremely unique and very much enjoyable.

8. Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter - I will read anything Ally Carter writes. She's just wonderful.

9. We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han - Sob. Shudder, shake, sob. I love this trilogy so much, and this last book made me cry and smile and laugh. Sob! It's over. :(

10. Entwined by Heather Dixon, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin - So I'm totally cheating with this last one, but there were SO many good books in this year! Can you blame me for wanting to put more than just ten in this list?

That's my Top Ten Twelve of 2011! What's yours? :)
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