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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

REVIEW: Siren by Tricia Rayburn

Seventeen-year-old Vanessa Sands is afraid of everything—the dark, heights, the ocean—but her fearless older sister, Justine, has always been there to coach her through every challenge. That is, until Justine goes cliff-diving one night near the family’s vacation house in Maine, and her lifeless body washes up on shore the next day.

Though her parents hope that they’ll be able to find closure back in Boston, Vanessa can’t help feeling that her sister’s death wasn’t an accident. After discovering that Justine was keeping a lot of secrets, Vanessa returns to Winter Harbor, hoping that Justine’s boyfriend might know more. But Caleb has been missing since Justine’s death.

Soon, it’s not just Vanessa who’s afraid. All of Winter Harbor is abuzz with anxiety when another body washes ashore, and panic sets in when the small town becomes host to a string of fatal, water-related accidents in which all the victims are found, horrifically, grinning from ear to ear.

Vanessa turns to Caleb’s brother, Simon, for help, and begins to find herself drawn to him. As the pair try to understand the sudden rash of creepy drownings, Vanessa uncovers a secret that threatens her new romance—and will change her life forever.

A seductive paranormal romance full of unexpected twists, Siren is certain to make a big summer splash.

Book: Siren by Tricia Rayburn
Release Date: July 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Young Adult
Series: Siren, #1
Free or Purchased: Library
Rating:PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket (5 Zombies)

Wow. Siren was truly a wonderful book. I loved it so much that I can't even think of anything about it that I didn't like, so I guess I'll just talk about the parts that I thought were more awesome than the rest, which is really saying something, since the whole thing is just so awesome. And if that wasn't a run-on sentence, then I don't know what is.

First off, I really loved the main character, Vanessa. She was very phobic of pretty much everything, but she still managed to be a strong, easy-to-relate to character, and it was great to get into her head for a couple hundred pages. Even though she considered herself weak, Vanessa's inner strength was shown over and over again throughout the course of the story, and it was amazing to watch.

Simon, the love interest, was very lovable and fun to get to know, despite his relative lack of page time, and I hope that he and Vanessa will get another book to further explore their relationship. I really want to know how this one turns out, but I'm not sure there will be another book. Please, please, please let there be another one! I've heard both yes and no.

The actual writing was haunting and lyrical, with the perfect amount of description, so that you aren't bored by pages and pages of flowers and cobblestones, but you also have a clear picture of Vanessa's environment. It makes the book so much easier to follow, despite the relatively complex plot.

Siren was the perfect example of a good romantic mystery, and it kept me guessing until the very last page. Thanks, Tricia Rayburn, for a fabulous novel! This is one of the books that just stays with you, and if we readers are lucky, we might get another one.

P.S. I will gruesomely murder anyone who says that there won't be another book. Don't try me DX

Monday, August 30, 2010

REVIEW: The Duff by Kody Keplinger

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

Book: The Duff by Kody Keplinger
Release Date: September 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Young Adult
Series: Standalone
Free or Purchased: Purchased
Rating:PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket (5 Zombies)

I'd like to start by saying that I read The Duff right after Mockingjay, and that's a lot to live up to. Even so, I really really really loved it, and couldn't put it down once I started reading. It was the best contemporary YA I've read this year, and quite possibly ever! Kody Keplinger has gained an eternal fangirl in this blogger, and I'm looking forward to reading whatever she comes out with next.

Bianca was a snarky, but very lovable and easy to relate to, character, and I was totally rooting for her the entire time! Sure, she had some problems, but she was very realistic and easy to read about. Even when she was making bad choices, her reasoning was evident, and I sympathized with her the whole time. She was very three-dimensional and human, a refreshing break from the either too-perfect or completely awful characters that I've been seeing a lot of recently.

Her love interest, Wesley, was a huge jerk, and the most adorable guy on earth. At times, he tried to make himself out to be this annoying, slutty, brainless guy that didn't care about a thing, but underneath all that was a lonely, caring, total hottie that was perfect for Bianca in every way imaginable.

The storyline didn't have much action involved, but I didn't even notice that until I sat down to write my review, so obviously it didn't affect the book at all. The Duff was so much better than any fast-paced, action-packed fight-a-thon could ever be.

If you're in the mood for a cute, short-ish, pick-me-up book, The Duff will leave you with a happy, glow-y feeling long after you've put it down, but its emotional depth makes you really think about how most people aren't really that different from one another. The Duff is just a perfect read for anyone in the mood for a good book, and if you haven't already, make sure to add it to your wishlists and pick it up when it's released on September 1. (Just a hint, it's been spotted in the wild a lot recently, so you might want to go out and check your local bookstore, just in case.)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

In My Mailbox (9)

The Story Siren

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren that I participate in every once in a while (a.k.a., whenever I can remember.) You just post whatever books you've received in the past week, bought or for review, and any cool swag you want to mention.

As usual, links are to GoodReads.
For Review:
To Kill a Warlock by H.P. Mallory
Both of these books were given to me by the author to review, and they look really cute and funny. I can't wait to get to them, but they'll probably take me longer than usual, since they're e-books. For some reason, I take a long time to read e-books. Maybe I'll get a reader soon.

Elixir by Hilary Duff
Wow, I really didn't expect to receive an ARC of this, so when it came in the mail on Friday, I was totally freaking out! If not for the stack of library books staring at me, I would start reading this one now, but the encroaching due dates are just too powerful :( I'm looking forward to finding out if this is just another one of those celebrity novels, or if Hilary Duff actually wrote a good book, especially since Lizzie McGuire used to be my favorite show XD

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay was an awesome conclusion to the Hunger Games series, and if you want to know what I thought of it, just check out my review here.
The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
I've already read The DUFF, and my review will be going up tomorrow morning. It was really interesting, and amazingly believable. I think that everyone should read The DUFF before they die. It's just one of those books. I loved it.

That's all for this week, guys! I'd love to hear about what you all got over the past week; leave a link to your IMM in the comments, and I'll make sure to drop by :)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

REVIEW: My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent

She doesn't see dead people, but...

She senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally.

Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about her need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who'll be next...

(I think that that is maybe one of the worst synopses I've ever seen.)

Book: My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent
Release Date: September 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
Series: Soul Screamers, #1
Free or Purchased: Purchased
Rating:PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket (4 Zombies)

I'd like to start by saying that I'm totally, 100% TEAM TOD. Nash was just weird and stalker-ish, but Tod was sweet and angsty and just overall a very lovable character. I hope we get to see more of him in Book 2, which is currently wasting away on my ginormous to-be-read pile :(

Take started off slow in an odd, non-slow kind of way, not that that made any sense. It's like, nothing's going on, but it's still sort of interesting, but not a page turner. It keeps up like that until about 100 pages in, when stuff starts happening (Tod) and Kaylee finally gets some non-Nash help with her situation (Tod) and a likable character who is not the MC is inserted (Tod).

From that point on, I couldn't put it down! It was so good that, once I got past the slow beginning, I finished it in a matter of hours. If only I didn't have so many library books on hold/checked out that the library's website refuses to let me add more, I would move on to the next book immediately. But, since I do, I'll have to get through those first.

If you're looking for an easy, but not so light, fairly short book with a kick-you-in-the-face ending, this is the one for you. Also, for someone interested in a more adult series, Vincent's Shifters series is really awesome. Check them out!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Blog Hoppage

Book Blogger Hop
Do you use a rating system for your reviews and if so, what is it and why?

I use the standard five star rating, but instead of stars I have zombies, since this is Braintasia Books, after all. My reason for using a rating system is that I want to be able to classify how much I liked a book. For instance, I might love a book, but spend a long time talking about a part that bugged me in the review, but then I give it a four zombie rating so that my readers know that I thought it was good.

The first books I remember reading are The Boxcar Children, and The Baby Sitters Club. Good times, huh  :)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

REVIEW: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not ...more Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year.

Book: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Release Date: August 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Young Adult
Series: The Hunger Games, #3
Free or Purchased: Purchased
Rating:PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket (5 Zombies)

This was even darker than the first two Hunger Games books, which is really saying something, and because of that, it took me longer to read. It was impossible to read straight through, like I was planning on doing, because of the emotional drain of the events. Mockingjay was similar to the last Harry Potter book in that so many characters whom readers had come to know and love were killed off throughout the course of the book, and it was hard to read about.

The war certainly plays a larger role in Mockingjay than in any of the previous novels, and the toll that all the fighting takes can be seen in the mindset of Katniss and her friends, as well as the opposing Capitol forces. It's scary how much they change, and how easy it is to understand their motivations, on both ends, even when the characters' actions lead to nothing but violence and death. The lines between good and bad are very blurred, and often crossed. And it all makes sense.

In The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, there was plenty of violence and seriousness, but there was always someone to add some comic relief and distract us from the bloodshed for a minute or two, but Mockingjay had only bitter, ironic humor that directed the reader's attention to the flaws of society and the pain of war. I don't think there were any truly funny moments because it was all overshadowed by the characters' beliefs that they were going to die in the very near future, and most of the jokes were made in an effort to cope with that.

Whenever you think that Katniss will have a brief respite from all the chaos and destruction, something else is thrown at her, whether it be a physical or mental attack, from supposed friends or supposed enemies. You're never sure who Katniss can trust, and whether or not you can trust her, because she is definitely an unreliable narrator for most of the events.

For me, even though some of what I was hoping for was accomplished, the book was bittersweet from page 1 through page 389, because of one of the things revealed in the first chapter. The characters can never stop grieving, and their constant state of distress transfers to readers, and never lets up. Not even when the book finishes, when you're left with all the what-ifs and wishes.

Things weren't good at the end of Mockingjay for me, but they were right, in a way that most series finales never achieve, and for that, I commend Collins. She's written a very difficult, real novel that anyone can relate to, and it will stay with me for a long time.

I guess this is goodbye to The Hunger Games, and I will miss it sooooo much. Hopefully we'll get another great series from Collins in the future, something that will ease our post-Mockingjay sadness. Cheers, to the fabulous ending of one of the best series I've ever read!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (7)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by the amazing Jill at Breaking the Spine. Each week, participating bloggers will make a post about a book whose publication they're eagerly awaiting.

This week, I'm featuring Heaven's Spite by Lilith Saintcrow.
The synopsis for this book hasn't been released yet, but I've loved the other books in the series so far, and can't wait for this next installment. Jill is tough and smart, and I really enjoy reading about her character, but she isn't the one who truly elevates the series into greatness. No, that would be Perry, of often questionable goodness. But deep down inside, we all know that Perry has a thing for Jill, and it's adorable! November couldn't come soon enough.
Mockingjay update: I finished Mockingjay already, but since I wanted to post my WoW, the review won't be going up until tomorrow. Also, it will definitely be spoiler free, for those of you who haven't gotten a chance to read Mockingjay yet.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

REVIEW: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

Book: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Release Date: September 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Young Adult
Series: The Hunger Games, #2
Free or Purchased: Purchased
Rating:PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket (4 Zombies)

After reading The Hunger Games recently, I had very high expectations for Catching Fire, and the entirety of Part I was very slow-paced and disappointing. Some friends of mine read Catching Fire before I did, and they had nothing but praise for it, so it was frustrating for me to get through the first 130 pages, or so, because they didn't even mention how boring the beginning is!

There is a certain event, though, about midway through the novel, where you just know that things are looking up in terms of how interesting it is. Before that point you're just left wondering where everything is going and when will it finally get there. To be honest, all the waiting gets pretty annoying.

At points, especially at the beginning, the descriptions can be a bit wordy and boring, but as soon as things really start happening that either stops or isn't noticeable, I'm not sure which. Also, this time around, I was expecting the present tense POV, and that wasn't jarring at all when I knew that it was coming, unlike in the first book.

If anyone has read my review of The Hunger Games (here), you know that I was most emphatically Team Peeta all throughout that book, but after reading Catching Fire, I have to say that I've abandoned Peeta in favor of Haymitch and Cinna. While I have no wishes or expectations that Katniss will hook up with either one of them, they are definitely my favorite characters now. Especially Haymitch.

So, now I'm officially caught up and waiting eagerly for Mockingjay with the rest of you normal people! I know it took m e a long time, but I did it in time to anticipate the final installment, and as such, am quite proud of myself. Hopefully my brother, (who pre-ordered Mockingjay before I had the chance) will read fast enough that I don't get spoiled on Twitter or around the Blogosphere! *crosses fingers*

P.S.: Even though this review is being posted on the date of Mockingjay's release, it was written in advanced, so I actually do have to wait for Mockingjay. Just so you don't all think I'm crazy.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mockingjay Stuffs

This is the image we're all waiting to hold in our hands, to finally be able to read: Mockingjay. I know that even The LA Times is doing it, but please don't put out spoilers, at least for a week or two after the release. I know that a lot of people will read it on the first day and want to talk about it with everyone, but be considerate to the ones who can't. Would you like it to be spoiled before you're able to read it? Let's all show some respect and keep the spoilers to ourselves until everyone else has had a chance to catch up, guys!

I've heard so many people say that they won't be able to use technology until they finish Mockingjay, and it's sad to think that they can't go online because of all the people who will be spoiling it for them. Don't be one of those people who everyone hates. I know that I will be going online and doing what I usually do, even before I read Mockingjay, so please avoid spoiling. I trust that the people I come into contact with on the internet are respectful enough not to ruin the book for me. Hopefully they can live up to my trust.

WWPD (What Would Peeta Do)?


September Spectacular Reading Challenge

Steph from The Thoughts of a Book Junkie is hosting a reading challenge for September that looks like a lot of fun, so I thought I'd join in.

* It will start September 1st and go on through September 30th.

* There will be a 5 book reading challenge, ( one book a week) that you will have to read. Which books? Any 5 you want. Its your choice... Easy huh. At the end of that week you will post your review on your blog and add your link to the Mr. Linky at the bottom. ( If you don't have a blog you can either post a comment, letting everyone know what you think about the book or sent me an email with your review)

* Sep first starts on a Wednesday so you can start your first book on Sunday the 29th if you want.

* At the end of each week a giveaway will be posted. That's 5 giveaways!! The only thing you have to do to enter is, link your review on that week's Mr. Linky. Plus get an extra entry if you add the September Spectacular button to your post or sidebar! ( Open Internationally)

My books are:

Sunday, August 22, 2010

In My Mailbox (8)

The Story Siren

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren that I participate in every once in a while (a.k.a., whenever I can remember.) You just post whatever books you've received in the past week, bought or for review, and any cool swag you want to mention.

As usual, links are to GoodReads.
For Review:
I don't know much about this book, but a week or two back, I received an email asking me to review it and the sequel, and they looked interesting enough, so I accepted. I don't usually read much middle grades fiction, but after Radiance by Alyson Noël, I've been in the mood for some more.
 Obviously, since I haven't read the previous book in this series, I know next to nothing about this one, so I'm not sure what to write about it. Cute cover, but it's the same image of kids as the last one.

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller
 I've heard good things about this one around the Blogoverse, so it seemed like a good idea to pick it up. The whole concept of past lives has been really popular in YA recently, and I like this trend :)

Siren by Tricia Rayburn
I couldn't help but pick this one up at the library after seeing the awesome cover. Plus, it's YA, so I just added it to my stack. I shouldn't have, since I have 27 books on hold at the library and 5 checked out, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Other by Karen Kincy
I don't remember why I added this one to my holds list, but I must have had a reason at the time, and since my hold was about to expire, I had to go pick it up.
Heist Society by Ally Carter
I really like this author, and the book is about the exact opposite of the other series I read by her, so I figured I'd see if it was any good.

Big load this week, huh? What'd you guys get?