Sunday, February 27, 2011

In My Mailbox (18)

Another Sunday, another In My Mailbox! IMM is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren where we show what books (and other bookish things) we got this week. Mine's a tiny one, but I wanted to do a vlog anyway :)

I'm looking forward to reading both of them, I've had them on my wishlist for quite some time! 

What did you get in your mailbox this week? Happy reading! 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Matched by Ally Condie
Published: November 2010
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile (my edition: Puffin)
Pages: 366
Challenge: 100+ Reading Challenge, 350 Page Book Challenge
Other: First book in the Matched Trilogy. The second book, Crossed, will be published in November 2011.
Buy the book: Bookdepository

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

In Matched, we meet Cassia as she is preparing for her Match Banquet, where she will be Matched to her partner for life. The Society has carefully planned everything and controls every element in the world where she lives: the partner they will marry, how many children they will get, where they will life, what their jobs will be and even what and how much they get to eat every day. Running is not allowed outside, nor is having personal belongings.

The first 200 pages of the book are about the world in which Cassia finds herself and her family. The pages mainly talk about everything that is forbidden or discouraged, after we've seen Cassia getting her Match. Her Matching process doesn't go as smoothly as the Officials want it to be: when Cassia uses the microcard on which she finds the information on her Match, she doesn't see the one she's been Matched to on her Match Banquet; she sees a different boy. This makes Cassia curious and we see how Cassia deals with this change in plan.

Everything that is monitored and everything that is forbidden is carefully explained in the books and it makes the book dull and flat. There's not much going on - only minor events that don't really seem important to the plot. The last 150 pages are the pages that actually are interesting. There's something going on, but what? There are things going on that nobody can explain and when the story finally begins to take form, the story ends and we have to wait for Crossed to come out to see what happens next.

To be honest, I was on the verge of giving up multiple times. I feel like I've been reading an incredibly long introduction to the story and I feel left out now that I've found out that the actual story will develop in Crossed, which will not come out until November 2011.

I had difficulty relating to Cassia. She didn't really have a personality until the end of the book and even then she doesn't really show her personality. Cassia obeys the Society and does everything somewhat according to the rules, and even though we follow Cassia around in the story, I couldn't really identify myself with her. This made it even harder to get through the pages filled with endless descriptions of the things that weren't allowed.

Another thing that bothered me was the description of Cassia and Ky. Cassia was clearly developing an obsession for the boy and that does not mean that she's in love with him. I didn't get the feeling that they were in love, I just got the feeling that Cassia was obsessively watching him, posessive, almost stalkerish. The bond between them just didn't seem to transfer to me as the reader while reading the words on the paper.

Overall, I think the storyline is genius. A Society Matches everyone to their perfect partner for life and Cassia struggles to obey the rules the Society created. I found the pace in the book disappointing and I truly believe that the story would have been better if we had 50 pages less of the descriptions. It would have made the book easier to read and more interesting to see the plot develop.

My overall rating:

Because I found myself bored at several points in the story. I genuinely hope that Crossed will have more pace, more action and more emotion so I can relate to Cassia.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Published: March 2nd, 2010
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 341 (paperback edition)
Challenge: 100+ Reading Challenge
Other: 2010 YA Debut. Voted best YA Fiction 2010 by Goodreads members.
Buy the book: Bookdepository

What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life? 

Samantha Kingston has it all—looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12th should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it’s her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. In fact, she re-lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she had ever imagined.

Before I Fall tells us about Sam and her friends, and most of all: the last day of her life. Sam dies and gets to relive her last day and by making only the tiniest changes, she figures out she can change everything.

This book left me speechless, except for the fact that I couldn't stop saying how good it was. The chapters are carefully built, one day at a time and every chapter we discover something new that changes the way Sam (and we) look at things. It makes you think about some of the things you may have said, someday to somebody, that you have forgotten, but the other person has not. It made me think of how I'm treating other people and makes me think more about the things I say to them. After all, you never know when it's your last day.

Oliver's writing style is complicated, yet so incredibly easy to follow and understand. The story is so carefully built and so well put together that everything fits perfectly. I felt for Sam, while in the first chapter I couldn't stand her. Sure, I've been a bitch sometimes, but I didn't behave like she does. The moment I realized that she loved someone, it really touched me heart. I mean, really. I cried. It was all so sad that she had to discover this after she died.

This book is a stunning debut and besides that a really good and well thought out story.

My overall rating:

This book is so incredibly good and really touched my heart. I would call it a mustread. Another thing: get out your box of tissues, because you're going to need it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Review: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
Published: April 1st, 2006
Publisher: Miramax
Pages: 279
Challenge: 100+ Reading Challenge, Off the Shelf!
Other: The second book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. There are 5 books in the series, all of which are published.
Buy the book: Bookdepository

After a summer spent trying to prevent a catastrophic war among the Greek gods, Percy Jackson is finding his seventh-grade school year unnervingly quiet. His biggest problem is dealing with his new friend, Tyson, a six-foot-three, mentally challenged homeless kid who follows Percy everywhere, making it hard for Percy to have any normal friends. But things don't stay quiet for long. 

The Sea of Monsters is the sequel to The Lightning Thief and we're back with Percy in his story. The story starts at the last day of the school year and Percy has managed not to get expelled til now. Yes, til now. Because there are things going on at Camp Halfblood that threatens the whole world around it.

Because it's the sequel and I don't want to spoil the first book for those of you that haven't read any of the books yet, I won't tell anything else about the plot. The Sea of Monsters is filled with mythology, monsters and magic and builds up to another fast paced book that proves the series to be very addicting. I'm hooked.

The Lightning Thief was a teenie bit better in my opinion, but maybe that's purely because it was the first book in the series and everything was new. Rick Riordan does an amazing job in working all the Greek mythology in the story and it all blends in like it's the most normal thing in the world to see monsters and pegasuses.

My overall rating:

Because it's addicting and Rick Riordan worked up to an amazing world that has me hooked. Now, if the mailman could just hurry up with the rest of the books in the series...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Run to the nearest bookstore!!

Because Angelfire comes out today! I've had the pleasure of reading an ARC of Angelfire and I absolutely loved it. It's the first in a trilogy, too, so I can't wait to read the sequel, Wings of the Wicked, which comes out in 2012. Squee!

Check out the trailer if you're not convinced yet:

And check out this clip where Courtney Allison Moulton talks about her debut novel and the swords that Ellie uses

And let me add that Will is my newest character crush. Damon who? 

Go to Amazon or Bookdepository to order your copy, or check out the reviews on Angelfire on GoodReads first.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Bookshelf Tour part 3

So finally, finally, the third and final part of my bookshelf tour! YouTube was being a bad guy (girl? who knows!) and took like 3 hours to upload and process the video so I hope you understand it took me a while to upload this. Anyway, here it is!

Next time I record such a video I'll try not to babble this much xD! If you watched all three: WHOOHOO!!! THANK YOU! Lol. I am a little excited that everything is finally uploaded, haha!

And since it's Valentine's Day today, I also wanted to wish each and every one of you a great Valentine's Day! I love you all! *hugs*

Sunday, February 13, 2011

In My Mailbox (16)

Sunday again! Time for another edition of In My Mailbox, a meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren - check out her blog if you want to find out more about IMM! Okay, be nice with me this time. I recorded my very first IMM vlog and I feel a bit awkward.. In the time I've been blogging (I have another blog as well and in total I've been blogging for over 1,5 years), I haven't even posted a picture of myself online, let alone record a video. Eek!

Anyway, here's my first vlog!

Books mentioned in this video:

- City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
- City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
- City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
- Across the Universe by Beth Revis (YA 2011 debut)
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
- Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Also received this week, but not mentioned in this video: ARC via NetGalley of Angel Burn by L.A. Weatherly.

Angel Burn by L.A. Weatherly (Angel #1)

Thanks so much for the ARC of Angel Burn Candlewick and NetGalley! It looks *so* good, I can't wait to read it!!

What did you get in your mailbox? Happy reading!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Review: Physik by Angie Sage

Physik by Angie Sage
Published: January 1st, 2007
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 544
Challenge: 350 Page Books Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge, Off the Shelf!
Other: Book three in the Septimus Heap Series. The first five books are published, and book 6, Darke, will come out on April 8th, 2011.
Buy the book: Bookdepository

Silas has only himself to blame for sparking the plot of the third Septimus Heap installment. Unsealing a long-forgotten room in the palace, he accidentally unleashes the formerly inert spirit of malevolent old Queen Etheldredda. Five hundred years of downtime have not mellowed the scheming monarch; in fact, she's now eager to enact a devilish plan to make herself immortal and omnipotent. To neutralize her, Septimus and his allies must go into corrective overdrive. Plot surprises, engaging characters, and snappy wit.

Physik is the third book in the Septimus Heap series and the whole plot line of this book comes to Silas Heap, Septimus' dad, who UnSeals a room. Everyone knows that Sealed rooms are Sealed for a reason, but Silas doesn't even notice what he lets loose on the whole Castle.

Queen Etheldredda isn't what you would call a nice and friendly Queen, and her ghost is exactly what drives the plot of the book. Angie Sage did a good job on writing about this evil character, and even though she is a ghost, she's a Substantial Ghost and she terrorizes the Castle - and her inhabitants. Because of her, Septimus finds himself in a different Time and an apprentice to a different person - Marcellus Pye, an Alchemist.

I liked this book better than the first two books in the series, Magyk and Flyte, because the book is a little more adventurous and darker than its predecessors. The storylines are entangled with oneanother and I can't wait to read the next book in the series, Queste, to see how everything works out with the characters after this adventure. I love the fact that Sage wrote about what happened to the characters after the story, a sort of inbetween books part that I really appreciate.

The Septimus Heap Series is a middlegrade series, but I'm starting to like it more and more. I found myself absorbed by the story, and I didn't have that feeling with the first two books - thumbs up for Physik!

My overall rating:

Four out of five stars, because it was the best book in the series so far and I can't wait to read book 4, Queste.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Review: Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
Published: February 15th, 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 464
Challenge: 100+ Reading Challenge, 2011 Debut Author Challenge
Source: HarperCollins via NetGalley for review
Other: Angelfire is the first novel of Courtney Allison Moulton and is also the first in the trilogy, named Angelfire. The book will come out on February 15th, so that's next week!
Buy the book: Bookdepository

When seventeen-year-old Ellie starts seeing reapers - monstrous creatures who devour humans and send their souls to Hell - she finds herself on the front lines of a supernatural war between archangels and the Fallen and faced with the possible destruction of her soul. 

A mysterious boy named Will reveals she is the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, the only one capable of wielding swords of angelfire to fight the reapers, and he is an immortal sworn to protect her in battle. Now that Ellie's powers have been awakened, a powerful reaper called Bastian has come forward to challenge her. He has employed a fierce assassin to eliminate her - an assassin who has already killed her once. 

While balancing her dwindling social life and reaper-hunting duties, she and Will discover Bastian is searching for a dormant creature believed to be a true soul reaper. Bastian plans to use this weapon to ignite the End of Days and to destroy Ellie's soul, ending her rebirth cycle forever. Now, she must face an army of Bastian's most frightening reapers, prevent the soul reaper from consuming her soul, and uncover the secrets of her past lives - including truths that may be too frightening to remember.

Angelfire is the debut of Courtney Allison Moulton and it tells us about Ellie, who's just a normal girl - until she sees Will. Things start to change - or rather, return to usual. Ellie discovers she is the reincarnated soul of a millennia old warrior, who fights dark creatures to keep the humans safe.

Will turns out to be more than just a stud (even though he almost made me drool because he's so swoonworthy) and learns Ellie the basics of fighting the reapers - the dark creatures - with her new swords that have the power of Angelfire.

It didn't take very long for the story to fully absorb me. I was intrigued by Will - he couldn't be just a boy that she bumped into on accident. I love how Moulton portrays him. He's not perfect, but he tries to be. The task that has been given to him is a tough one - to be the Guardian of a ancient warrior's soul that reincarnates into a different mortal body every time.

The book is packed with action and while some scenes were going really fast, I found it refreshing to read something so fast paced and yet so well described. Moulton didn't just wrote a story about a boy, a girl and a bunch of evil that has to be fought off. She created a whole world around the world of humans and the inhumans that are around us that made me want more. It was a fast paced, dark and delicious read.

My overall rating:

Because I loved it. And, to be honest, because I can't get enough of Will (although.. I think Cadan is quite nice, too).

Monday, February 7, 2011

Bookshelf Tour part 2

And here's part two of my bookshelf tour! If you missed part 1, click here: Part 1. There will be a third part, but since YouTube was being really slow (and I mean 2,5 hours uploading slow) I decided to wait with that one, but I guess it'll go up later this week.

I love looking at shelves - even my own. I can spend a whole lot of time just with staring at all the pretty covers. I also have a new hobby: reorganizing bookshelves. I love it!

Anyway, stay tuned for the third part of the bookshelf tour!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

In My Mailbox (15)

Andddd it's Sunday again, which means it's time for In My Mailbox! This is a meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren where we show what we got this week. I didn't get any physical copies in this week (dang you mailman, hurry up!) but I did get two awesome eGalleys through NetGalley.

 Cinderella: Ninja Warrior by Maureen McGowan (Twisted Tales #1)

Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer by Maureen McGowan 
(Twisted Tales #2)

Big big thank you to Baker & Taylor Publishing Group and NetGalley for these! I'm very much looking forward to reading these, they sound great.

That's all that I got in my mailbox, what did you get?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Review: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Published: 2005
Publisher: Miramax 
Pages: 375
Challenge: Off the Shelf!, 100+ Reading Challenge
Other: First book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. There are five books in there series, which are all published. 
Buy the book: Bookdepository

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school...again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus's master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect. 

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus's stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

This is the first book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. I've had more than one recommendation to read this book, because I love Harry Potter so much. I was hesitant for a year or two, but I finally gave in and bought the boxed set with The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters and The Titan's Curse a little while back. I've read The Lightning Thief and all I can say is: I loved it!

The Lightning Thief introduces Percy Jackson and his best friend, Grover. We meet them on a school trip to  the Metropolitan Museum of Art and we see some strange things happening. Who said that the Greek Gods and the mythological creatures are legends, couldn't be more wrong. The Lightning Thief is full of Greek Mythology and even though it may sound boring, it's the opposite! I love the fact that the story is based on the Gods, Titans and everything around it. I've never been into history and everything that related to this, but I loved reading (and learning!) about it.

Percy is sent on a quest to find Zeus' masterbolt and return it to his rightful owner. This isn't without danger and Percy and his friends go from one adventure into the other.

If you loved Harry Potter, I think it's safe to say that you'll like Percy Jackson as well. I loved the storytelling, the characters and the mythology the whole story leans on.

My overall rating:

Because it was a marvelous read and I absolutely devoured the book. I can't wait to start reading The Sea of Monsters! Well done, Rick Riordan, for writing such a great story. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

January wrap up

Because I love lists and all things related, I thought I'd post a little list of what I've been up to in the first month of 2011! If I may say so, I've been reading relatively often, making a total of 11 finished books in 2011 til now. Go figure: in 2010, I only read 13 new books so that's a major improvement!

Finished in January
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (re-read)

Read in January
1. Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler
2. Tweet Heart by Elizabeth Rudnick
4. De Vertelsels van Baker de Bard by J.K. Rowling (Dutch version of The Tales of Beedle the Bard)
10. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Started, but not yet finished
Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
Physik by Angie Sage

The books I've finished reading last month total up to 3430 pages read. Awesome! The review for The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan will go up later this week, so look out for that review. I think it was the best read of 2011 up til now, closely followed by Linger by Maggie Stiefvater :)

What books have you read in January? What was the best book you've read? Did you have disappointing reads?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Review: Betrayed by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast

Betrayed by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast
Published: October 2007
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 310
Challenge: Off the Shelf!, 100+ Reading Challenge
Age Group: Young Adult
Other: Second book in the House of Night Series. There's expected to be 12 books in the entire series. The eighth installment, Awakened, was published on January 4th - the ninth book, Destined, will be published in November 2011. 
Buy the book: Bookdepository

Fledgling vampyre Zoey Redbird has managed to settle in at the House of Night.  She’s come to terms with the vast powers the vampyre goddess, Nyx, has given her, and is getting a handle on being the new Leader of the Dark Daughters. Best of all, Zoey finally feels like she belongs--like she really fits in. She actually has a boyfriend…or two.
Then the unthinkable happens: Human teenagers are being killed, and all the evidence points to the House of Night. While danger stalks the humans from Zoey’s old life, she begins to realize that the very powers that make her so unique might also threaten those she loves.

Then, when she needs her new friends the most, death strikes the House of Night, and Zoey must find the courage to face a betrayal that could break her heart, her soul, and jeopardize the very fabric of her world.

Betrayed is the second book in the House of Night series and takes off where Marked ended. Zoey is now the leader of the new Dark Daughters and she's determined to make it a better society. She finally feels she fits in at the House of Night, until there are teenagers disappearing. Everything points to the House of Night and Zoey has to find out what is happening before it gets even more out of hand.

Let me start off by saying that I think Marked had a better plot, and that I think Betrayed was less engaging as the first book. However, it was a great, quick and easy read and I enjoyed myself very much, but I have to get it out there that this book was not as good as the first one.

There were some strong scenes in the book though, dat impressed me. I really liked the whole scene of Zoey's first Full Moon Ritual, and yes, I also liked the whole scene of what happened with Stevie Rae. I thought it was beautifully written and I think that this was the strongest scene of the whole book. I liked what they figured out with the plot and the reference to what Nyx said to Zoey when she hit her head in Marked though. I think the betrayal can be something really good in the next books and I'm looking forward to reading what the authors of the series will do with it.

I can't help but thinking that House of Night is like the Hogwarts for vampyres and there were some elements that I recognized from Twilight, too, even if it was only from the name. I do, however, still like the series and I guess I will have to order myself the last four books as well, so I can fully catch up with the series - I'm kinda late to the party.

My overall rating:

Four stars - but only because I upped the amount of stars. I don't do half stars, but this one would have gotten 3,5 stars from me if I had. I liked it, but I hope that Chosen will be up to the same level of enjoyment I had while reading Marked. 
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