Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Review: Level 2

Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
Release: Januar 15, 2012 
Source: ARC provided by publisher*

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Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.

Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.

Level 2 was undoubtedly unique. The idea for purgatory is simple enough, but Appelhans manages to make it extremely unique. In this world, in Level 2, people are placed in memory chambers where they relive memories from their past life--mostly the good and rarely the bad. These good memories can also be traded and used as currency to relive other people's memories. I definitely found the premise intriguing.

At the center of the story, though, is Felicia. She died just before her 18th birthday, and now she's reliving memories and mourning the loss of those she loves. Specifically, she mourns the loss of Neil, her boyfriend. This kind of situation could lead to excessive angst, moaning, and a "woe is me" mentality, but Felica is a strong and compelling character. When strange things start happening in Level 2, when a boy from her past appears and tells her there is a rebellion, she is quick to step into action (although hesitant to trust the boy). The boy, Julian, says he knows where Neil is and if she helps him, he can reunite the two lovers.

What follows is a story full of twists, turns, and flashbacks.

There are times when flashbacks become too much, to the point where it becomes the main story, but this never happens in Level 2. Every flashback, every memory, serves to paint a picture of Felicia and her relationship with Neil. It also depicts the toxic and complicated affair she once had with Julian. Both boys represent two points in Felicia's life, and serve as a foundation for her character arc.

And now, the big question: team Neil or Julian? Despite the things he did, and being overall un-trustworty, I think Julian is a more well-rounded and interesting character. Neil never stood out and he never caught my interest (which made it hard to understand why Felicia kept obsessing over him). I'm hoping to see more development with Neil in the future. So for fun, I'd stick with Julian. For being sweet and dependable, though, Neil is your guy.

Overall, Level 2 was a quick, face paced read, but it never seemed too short. Given the length, this is definitely a plus. And with that twisty, cliff-hangery (yet satisfying) end, I am dying to read more!


*receiving ARC from publisher, in no way, affects my opinion of the book*

Friday, December 14, 2012

Review: Iron King

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
Release: February 1, 2010
Source: Purchased 

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined.

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth - that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

Let me preface this by saying Eileen of Singing and Reading the Rain convinced me to read this book. Her enthusiasm, and the overwhelming positive reviews, convinced me that I needed to read this series. ASAP.

With that said, the Iron King was an interesting read. It's full of action, twists, and turns! Meagan Chase has an ordinary life, although she's always felt different. Then her brother begins to act strange, and suddenly, she is thrust into a whole new world of Fey. The brother she knows has been taken and replaced by a changeling. She will stop at nothing to rescue him.

The things I love about the Iron Fey include the world, the action, and pace. So much goes on in this book! Never once did I lose interest, as I kept turning the pages to find out the truth behind her brother's disappearance. Were some of the twists cliched? Yes. But that's part of the fun in reading this book.

Now, I admire Meagan's devotion and dedication, but I found her character uninspired. Typical. Thankfully, there are other characters who make Meagan's journey a riot. Puck is hilarious and dependent and Ash is...aloof and intriguing. From reviews, I know there is a love triangle between the two guys. But honestly? I don't feel like I know either of them well enough to choose. Thankfully, this story doesn't focus on the romance, so okay with letting the romance slowly develop over four books. And my favorite character? It has to be Grimalkin, the ingenious cat. Oh, how I love him! 

Needless to say, I will be back for more. Thanks, Eileen, for introducing me to this series! 


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

WoW: Dare You To

Dare You To by Katie McGarry
Release: May 28, 2013

"I dare you..." 

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all....

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So the cover was revealed 2/3 weeks ago, I think? And It's STEAMY! And I love the use of text. After reading Pushing the Limits, I've been dying to read Katie's next book. I'm hoping it's just as heart-wrenching and steamy as her debut. What are you all waiting on this week? 
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly Meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine. Book bloggers present upcoming books they can’t wait to read and share their enthusiasm about new releases.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Review: If I Lie

If I Lie by Corrine Jackson 
Release: August 28, 2012
Source: Purchased 

A powerful debut novel about the gray space between truth and perception.

Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Being branded a cheater would be bad enough, but Quinn is deemed a traitor, and shunned by all of her friends. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s serving in Afghanistan and revered by everyone in their small, military town.

Quinn could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets that she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. And when Carey goes MIA, Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend…and her promise

I bought If I Lie on a whim. The cover was eye catching, and the reviews raved about this book.

Now, I see what the hype is all about.

Quinn kissed a boy who isn't her boyfriend, days before he was set to be deployed. In a very military-centric town, this is unthinkable and unforgivable. The problem? Quinn never cheated on her boyfriend, Carey. There are things that happened prior to her being caught that Quinn has promised to keep quiet about. It's not her secret to tell, and she's bound by that promise.

Now Carey is declared MIA and the people in her town are livid. They blame everything on Quinn.

This book was phenomenally written. I remember being so moved by the writing and Quinn's struggle, that it brought me to tears. If that isn't a sign of how emotionally invested I was in this book, I don't know what else could convince you.

Yes, I guessed the secret within the first 40/50 pages, but I still found the reveal satisfying enough. I found myself hating Carey, hating the people at Quinn's school, and even hating Quinn for keeping the secret. And yet, keeping that secret was what made me admire Quinn as a character. She's so strong, the silent and brave type. I don't think I would have been able to remain sane if I had been placed in the same situation.

But not everyone is vindictive towards Quinn. In particular, there is a older gentleman. I loved George because he was honest, senile, but also because he refused to believe all the rumors. He helped to provide a safe haven from school, and for some time, he helped her forget Carey and the drama he started by having Quinn keep his secret.

I also appreciate that the ending managed to tie up all the loose ends, while still managing to remain open-ended. It's not a happy ending, but it's definitely a satisfying one. And again, the writing was phenomenal. Corrine Jackson is a author to look out for in the years to come.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

WoW: Just One Day

Just One Day by Gayle Forman 
Release: January 8, 2012

When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.
I've heard nothing but good things about Gayle Forman's work. Why can't I just read faster? I honestly think, though, that this book appeals to me more than If I Stay did. And luckily, the book releases in a month, so it's not too long of a wait! I am hoping it will be heart-wrenching and thought-provoking as others have made it out to be. What are you waiting on?

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly Meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine. Book bloggers present upcoming books they can’t wait to read and share their enthusiasm about new releases.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Review: The Darkest Minds

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Release: December 18, 2012
Source: ARC (via trade)

When Ruby wakes up on her tenth birthday, something about her has changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government "rehabilitation camp." She might have survived the mysterious disease that's killed most of America's children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control. 

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. 

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she's on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her--East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can't risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. 

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

The Darkest Minds was one of my most anticipated books of the year. So when I received an ARC via trade, I was ecstatic. I began to devour its pages.

The Darkest Minds is about a society in which, upon reaching a certain age, kids acquire superpowers. Dangerous powers. No one knows why or how, only that these kids are dangerous. To keep everyone else safe, these kids are locked up in camps meant to keep them in submission.

There are different levels of powers, described by color: blue, yellow, green, and (the most dangerous) orange. Ruby is one of the dangerous ones, with a power that is never fully explained until halfway through the book. While I appreciate the fact that Bracken wanted to show and not tell, withholding this  information frustrated me.

As Ruby becomes imprisoned, and as Ruby escapes and travels in search of a safe haven, pieces of Ruby's past and pieces of her society are revealed in a similar "show and not tell" process. At times, I found it brilliant and immersive. Other times, it was confusing.

I found Ruby a great character. She's broken and full of self-loathing, but there is a glimmer of strength that shines through as the story progresses. Her character development is great. I would also like to express my love for Chubs, Zuzu, and Liam. They, like Ruby, are in search of East River--a safe haven for kids like them. Chubs manages to add humor to a story that is, in reality, very dark. He's such a lovable character! Zuzu is the youngest, and while she never speaks a word, she never fails to leave an impression on my reader heart. Then there is Liam, the love interest--determined, dependable, and a natural-born leader. While I think aspects of the romance could have been improved, I was ultimately satisfied with the slow-building relationship that Liam and Ruby have, based on mutual trust and respect.

And that ending? It shattered me. I was near tears when I turned the last page. If there was any doubt if I'd be reading the sequel, that ending sealed the deal.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (22)

Stacking The Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

So sorry for the delay! Meant to post this yesterday, but I had technical difficulties. Yeah.

ANYWAY! It's been a little over a month, and here are all the goodies I've received since then:

Prophecy by Ellen Oh (ARC; Won)

Out of the Easy (ARC; For review from author)
Venom by Fiona Paul (Preordered)
Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Purchased)

Doomed by Tracy Deebs (eARC; For Review)
Dance of Shadows by (eARC; For Review)
Hooked by Liz Fichera (eARC; For Review)
Greta and the Goblin King by Chloe Jacobs (eARC; For Review): Tour post/Review
Renegade by J.A. Sounders (eARC; For Review)

Pivot Point by Kasie West (eARC; For Review)
Taken by Erin Bowman (eARC; For Review)

The Survivors by Amanda Havard (ebook; Purchased/Free)

That's it! I hope everyone has been doing well. I apologize for being a horrible blogger. School and work have consumed my life as of late. Hopefully, I'll be able to find the right balance.

Leave a comment below, with a link, so I can see all your goodies as well. ;)