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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cover Trends: Keeper?

Cover Trends is a new little meme that I started a few weeks ago, and I think it's been going long enough for me to decide whether to keep doing it or not. So, I decided to ask you guys. Do you like my Cover Trends posts? Should I keep doing them weekly? Or should it be a monthly feature? Do you hate it so much that you want me to stop altogether? I won't be mad if you guys don't like it XD I just want to know your opinion.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

REVIEW: Snake Agent by Liz Williams

John Constantine meets Chow Yun-Fat in this near-future occult thriller! Detective Inspector Chen is the Singapore Three police department's snake agent - that is - the detective in charge of supernatural and mystical investigations. Chen has several problems: In addition to colleagues who don't trust him and his mystical ways, a patron goddess whom he has offended, and a demonic wife who's tired of staying home alone, he's been paired with one of Hell's own vice officeers, Seneschal Zhu Irzh, to investigate the illegal trade in souls. Political pressures both Earthly and otherworldly seek to block their investigations at every turn. As a plot involving both Singapore Three's industrial elite and Hell's own Ministry of Epidemics is revealed, it becomes apparent that the stakes are higher than anyone had previously suspected.

Book: Snake Agent by Liz Williams
Release Date: January 1, 2008
Format: Mass market paperback
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Detective Inspector Chen, #1
Obtained: Purchased
Rating:PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket (3 Zombies)

I think that I would have given Snake Agent a higher rating if I'd been in the right mood when I picked it up. I liked the characters and setting, but I just wasn't in a reading mood when I read it because I had so much other stuff going on at the time.

The main character, D. I. Chen Wei, was likable enough, but he wasn't the character whose point of view I was always looking forward to. For me, the demon cop Seneschal Zhu Irzh (how on earth do you pronounce that?) was the best character in Snake Agent. He was posh and funny and stuck-up, but at the same time vulnerable and somewhat naïve. I also liked the side character, Sgt. Ma, who didn't have the biggest part, but definitely made the most of what page time he had.

While the characters where interesting enough, it was really the world building that made the book for me. I loved learning about the advanced, biological technology that had been developed, and also about the cultural differences between Singapore Three and America. I've never been to Singapore, and I've only ever read one other book set there, so it was really fascinating to read about.

There was a mystery, and it was a huge part of the book, but that was the least important aspect of Snake Agent to me, since I was more interested in Zhu Irzh and Singapore than figuring out what the ghosts were being used for.

I would recommend this title to fans of less action-y urban fantasy without tattooed chicks with big guns.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (43)

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 Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris.
Someone's been a very bad zombie.

Kate Grable is horrified to find out that the football coach has given the team steroids. Worse yet, the steriods are having an unexpected effect, turning hot gridiron hunks into mindless flesh-eating zombies. No one is safe--not her cute crush Aaron, not her dorky brother, Jonah . . . not even Kate!

She's got to find an antidote--before her entire high school ends up eating each other. So Kate, her best girlfriend, Rocky, and Aaron stage a frantic battle to save their town . . . and stay hormonally human.

This one sounds like an awesome combination of funny and dark, and the cover is absolutely gorgeous! I can't wait to read it. What are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cover Trends (8)


Cover Trends is a feature here at Braintasia Books where I discuss aspects of book covers that I've seen recently that seem to be popping up in a lot of books. Sometimes they're good, sometimes they aren't, but they're all getting quite common. These book covers tend to only represent YA, UF, and PNR since those are the genres I read, and as such, the covers I see.
This week's trend is SIDEWAYS GIRLS. I actually like this one, for a change. I think that it can make for a really stunning cover when done right, and I haven't often seen it done wrong.

So, is this trend a keeper?

Monday, April 25, 2011

REVIEW: Abandon by Meg Cabot

New from #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot, a dark, fantastical story about this world . . . and the underworld.

Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can't help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she's never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

But now she's moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.

Only she can't. Because even here, he finds her. That's how desperately he wants her back. She knows he's no guardian angel, and his dark world isn't exactly heaven, yet she can't stay away . . . especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.

But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld.

Book: Abandon by Meg Cabot
Release Date: April 26, 2011
Format: ARC
Genre: Young Adult/Urban Fantasy
Series: The Abandon Trilogy, #1
Obtained: Received in exchange for an honest review.
Rating:PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket (5 Zombies)

I have to start this review off by saying that this is actually the first Meg Cabot book I've ever read. Until I received a review copy of Abandon, I was always about to read one of her books, but never quite there. I've heard so many good things about Cabot, and if the rest of her books are anything like Abandon, then it was all true. Abandon was freakin' AMAZING.

At first, Pierce got on my nerves a little bit, but her blunt no-nonsense voice quickly grew on me and by the end of the book it was like we were best friends. She may seem a bit odd at times, but I guess that's realistic for someone who's been through the kind of trauma Pierce has.

Until I read Abandon, I absolutely hated flashbacks, but they really worked for this book and now I don't completely hate them anymore. The flashbacks were an awesome way to flesh out Pierce and Hayden's history together without just dumping information on the readers.

Piece and Hayden's relationship was very slow developing, which made every little tidbit all the more sweet and wonderful. I loved reading about them and longing for just a little bit more heat, and then dying of epic swoon when it finally came.

The book ends with the biggest, most evil cliffhanger ever, and I can't wait to get my hands on the sequel. Go pick up a copy of Abandon as soon as you can, and then we can die of anticipation together! So, in the words of the True Blood publicity team, "Waiting sucks."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

In My Mailbox (41)

The Story Siren

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren that I participate in regularly.  All you have to do is post whatever books you've received in the past week, bought or for review, and any cool swag you want to mention.

For Review:
Everlost by Neal Shusterman
Ocean of Blood by Darren Shan
The Ghoul Next Door by Lisi Harrison

Saturday, April 16, 2011

My Top Six Series & Why I Love Them

I have a huge list of series that I'm reading, and my favorites change all the time, so this list probably only reflects my favorites for the next week or two. Also, I'm not going to include series that I'm not caught up on. For instance, it wouldn't be fair for me to say that The Dresden Files is one of my favorites when I've only read five books out of twelve--for all I know, the other seven suck (although I seriously doubt that they do, considering how good the first five are). They aren't in the order I love them in, just the order I saw them in on my bookshelves, so pretty much completely random.

I know that sometimes I can ramble on forever about why I love something, so I'm going to try a new game for this list. Instead of writing 9238649345 paragraphs fangirling these series, I'm going to list three elements of the books that made me love them (i.e., characters, places, concepts, etc.). Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong. Keeping it down to three is really hard :'(

  1. The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare: Jace Lightwood/Wayland/Morganstern, New York, Simon's band of one thousand names
  2. Curse Workers by Holly Black: Magic system, politics, Baron Sharpe
  3. The Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater: Cole St. Claire, weather, writing style
  4. The Demon's Lexicon Trilogy by Sarah Rees Brennan: Nick Ryves, brother relationship, market
  5. The Cal Leandros Series by Rob Thurman: Brothers, Delilah and her all-wolf groupies, mysteries
  6. The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare: London, steampunk (sort of), James "Jem" Carstairs
Gah! That was really hard (but still fun)!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Blog Hops (23)

Book Blogger Hop

 "Pick a character from a book you are currently reading or have just finished and tell us about him/her."

Pascal is an albino alligator from Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton who just wants to find people he can fit in with XD 

Do you have anyone that you can discuss books with IRL? Tell us about him/her.

I can sometimes discuss books with my little bro, but he has to have read them before we talk because he hates spoilers (I can't blame him).

Thursday, April 14, 2011

REVIEW: Switched by Amanda Hocking

When Wendy Everly was six-years-old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. It isn't until eleven years later that Wendy finds out her mother might've been telling the truth. With the help of Finn Holmes, Wendy finds herself in a world she never knew existed - and it's one she's not sure if she wants to be a part of.

Book: Switched by Amanda Hocking
Release Date: July 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult/Urban Fantasy
Series: Trylle Trilogy, #1
Obtained: In exchange for an honest review.
Rating:PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket (5 Zombies)

I wasn't really expecting much from Switched (I know, I know, self-pubbed stigma and all that), but it really blew my mind. I loved it so much I immediately ordered the second and third books on my Kindle. I can't wait to read them!

Wendy (I hate that name, just so you know.) is an enjoyable main character, despite her slightly angry disposition and tendency to do somewhat unintelligent things. I really loved reading about what happens when she finds out that she is a . . . troll! (Yes, I also think of the little toys with fluffy hair and huge eyes.)

Finn, The Boy (Yay for Shiver fans!), was also pretty awesome. He was a loner dude, yes, and very mysterious, but not nearly as cliched as he could have been. Although he occasionally pissed me off, I have deemed him worthy of being in my harem of YA boys.

The mystery was kind of a background element in the story, as it should have been, because the main focus was Wendy trying to figure out where she fit in in her new life, and what to do now. This is not to say that it was simple or unimportant, because it was very complex and definitely served a purpose, it just wasn't the biggest thing going on. It was very intriguing, though.

Don't avoid this book just because it is self-published. Just give Switched a try, and you'll see that it is one of the best YA fantasies out there!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (42)

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 First Kill by Heather Brewer.
Are you a fan of Joss? Curious about the Slayer Society and their secretive ways? Want to know what transpired during the summers between Vlad's school years? Get ready for a spin-off series of epic preportions, all about Joss and featuring some of your favorite vampires from The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod. (Don't forget your stake!)

I am the biggest Vlad fan ever (I've been to two Heather Brewer signings!) and I can't wait to read Joss's side of the story! What are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cover Trends (7)


Cover Trends is a feature here at Braintasia Books where I discuss aspects of book covers that I've seen recently that seem to be popping up in a lot of books. Sometimes they're good, sometimes they aren't, but they're all getting quite common. These book covers tend to only represent YA, UF, and PNR since those are the genres I read, and as such, the covers I see.
This week's trend is SIDEWAYS FACES. A lot of the time, this one can be done really well, although sometimes it just looks kind of strange. I don't think that most cover artists are aiming for the reaction, "Well, that's . . . strange," but that could just be me.

 I know that the girl on Love Story is more diagonal than sideways, but same difference. I really like the cover of Dead Rules. Which cover is your favorite this week, and is this trend a keeper or not? I can't really decide either way.

Monday, April 11, 2011

REVIEW: Enclave by Ann Aguirre

New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20's. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters—or Freaks—who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight, in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs. As the two are guided by Fade’s long-ago memories, they face dangers, and feelings, unlike any they’ve ever known.

Book: Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Release Date: April 12, 2011
Format: ARC
Genre: Young Adult/Urban Fantasy
Series: Razorland, #1
Obtained: Received in exchange for an honest review.
Rating:PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket (4 Zombies)

I came into Enclave with pretty high expectations after hearing so many bloggers rave about it right before I read it, and it mostly lived up to them. It wasn't the most creative of concepts, but it was well written and very suspenseful.

Enclave is a fairly standard zombie novel, but the characters are really interesting and fun to get to know. I loved watching Deuce and Fade get to know each other and gradually develop a relationship. The best part, however, was reading about some of the side characters, such as Stalker and Tegan (and even Twist, sometimes).

There was just a little hint of a love triangle (possibly) at the end, and if there is one, I am definitely Team Stalker. I know he's a bit abrasive, and can be a chauvinist jerk at times, I can't help but loving him. He just rocks.

Enclave is a fast-paced sort-of-zombie book that can easily be read in a few hours, but you'll probably really enjoy those hours! I recommend it to anyone who's not afraid of zombies.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

In My Mailbox (40)

The Story Siren

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren that I participate in regularly.  All you have to do is post whatever books you've received in the past week, bought or for review, and any cool swag you want to mention.

For Review:
The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
The Daughters Break the Rules by Joanna Philbin
The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zaf├│n

The Chaos by Rachel Ward (Thanks, Khy @ Frenetic Reader!) 

I also got signed copies of City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare and Red Glove by Holly Black, and those will be in next week's IMM. What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

TBR Piles

I've been cruising the blogosphere for quite some time now, and I know that all of you have TBR piles just as big as, or possibly bigger than, mine. So what's on your TBR pile? The next few books on mine are:

Review Books:
  1. Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton
  2. Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton
  3. Dead Streets by Tim Waggoner
  4. Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz (Kindle)
  5. The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa (Kindle)

Purchased (Non-Kindle):
  1. Death Masks by Jim Butcher
  2. Daemon Eyes by Camille Bacon-Smith (This is two books put together. I've already read the first and need to read the second.)
  3. Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead (Yes, I still haven't finished this.)
  4. Falling Under by Gwen Hayes
  5. Trick of the Light by Rob Thurman

Kindle (Non-Review):
  1. Chimera by Rob Thurman
  2. Lover Unleashed by J. R. Ward
  3. Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
  4. A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford
  5. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
What books are on your TBR pile?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Blog Hops (22)

Q. Do you judge a book by it's cover?

 I'm definitely guilty of this one. In fact, I wrote a post dedicated to this issue a while back.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

REVIEW: Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers

Frannie Cavanaugh is a good Catholic girl with a bit of a wicked streak. She has spent years keeping everyone at a distance—-even her closest friends—-and it seems as if her senior year is going to be more of the same . . . until Luc Cain enrolls in her class. No one knows where he came from, but Frannie can’t seem to stay away from him.

What she doesn’t know is that Luc is on a mission. He’s been sent from Hell itself to claim Frannie’s soul. It should be easy—-all he has to do is get her to sin, and Luc is as tempting as they come. Frannie doesn’t stand a chance. But he has to work fast, because if the infernals are after her, the celestials can’t be far behind. And sure enough, it’s not long before the angel Gabriel shows up, willing to do anything to keep Luc from getting what he came for. It isn’t long before they find themselves fighting for more than just Frannie’s soul.

But if Luc fails, there will be Hell to pay . . . for all of them.

Book: Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers
Release Date: September 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult/Paranormal Romance
Series: Personal Demons, #1
Obtained: Purchased
Rating:PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket (4 Zombies)

Personal Demons is exactly the kind of book that I love. It portrays teens in a way that is much closer to how we actually are than most young adult books do. A lot of the times sex and partying and other "risque" things are looked down on and criticized in YA lit because they are supposedly poisoning the youth, or whatever, but the truth is that those poor innocent teenagers are doing everything the evil authors are writing about--and a lot of the time more! It was refreshing to see some of those topics covered in a non-preachy way, once. So, kudos to Lisa Desrochers for that.

Luc and Frannie, the narrators of Personal Demons, were pretty amazing. Luc is this sexy demon guy who just maybe is experiencing some emotions he shouldn't be having, and toward the most inconvenient person on earth--literally. He wants to tag Frannie's soul for hell because she is important. But the only problem is that he has no idea why she's so important. Oh, and he maybe doesn't want her to belong to hell. He's a bit confused.

Frannie has a Secret. She did something very bad, and all she wants to do is forget. But she doesn't want to forget, because that would be bad, too. So instead she pretends that everything is normal and doesn't let anyone get too close.

I've read a lot of reviews of Personal Demons that criticize Frannie's friend Taylor, and I don't agree with them at all. Is Taylor a good person? No, not particularly. Is she nice? Not in the slightest. Is she exactly the kind of friend Frannie is looking for? Yes. Absolutely. Frannie needs someone to compete with, someone to resent sometimes and have fun with others. She needs someone who won't ask too many questions or try to get too close. She needs a distraction. Taylor has her own problems to deal with, and believe me, she's got plenty of them. She doesn't have time to be worrying about Frannie 24/7. She's self-centered. She's normal. I know a billion Taylors, and they aren't sweet or good examples or any of that crap that most parents want their teens to be reading about. But they are one thing: real. Taylor is one of the most realistic characters that I've read in a long time, and I loved her despite, and because of, her many flaws.

I don't even want to say anything about Gabe. He was just that creep that knocked a zombie off of my rating. Urgh.

Personal Demons isn't nice and clean, or light and fluffy, but it is dark and gritty and amazing, and I loved every second of it. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Interview with Cassie Clare and Holly Black

Last night I was lucky enough to interview Cassie Clare and Holly Black before their Santa Monica signing, and it was the coolest thing ever. Other than stuff for my intro to journalism class, that was my first live interview ever. Very fun.

There was one little problem, though. The dreaded technical difficulties. My computer decided to refuse to record anything, so we did the interview on my brother/assistant's phone. It didn't come out great, and towards the end, heads start getting cut off. Off of the picture, not bodies. Just to clarify.

But at least you can pretty much hear what everyone's saying :) There are some tiny spoilers, but nothing too big, I don't think.

I absolutely love both of these authors. To give you an idea of how much, here's a little story:

I got an ARC of Red Glove, so there's no fun story about that. It was an awesome book, though. But the fun story is about City of Fallen Angels. I was playing around on my computer Monday night, waiting for midnight to come so I could start reading. I came across some complaints that Kindle pre-orders were taking up to three hours to arrive, and I was like, nooooooooooo. So I canceled my pre-order and bought a Kindle copy at midnight.

Rewind to about eleven pm. I had just finished doing the laundry, and there was still an hour before CoFA released. What to do? Make coffee. I made three cups of coffee and lined them up on my desk so that I could read until who knows when and not wake up everyone else in the house while I made coffee. So. This kind of was a bad idea.

I had previously decided that, since I had to get up for class at eight the next morning, I would be going to bed at three. I don't normally stay up that late, so, at about one, I got up to drink the first coffee. It was the nastiest thing ever--cold, too much sugar, cheap brand--and I had to drink it like a really big shot to get past the horrible taste. (I did end up drinking all three coffees before three. Like shots. Nasty shots.)

Having consumed way too many coffees and half a sleeve of thin mints, I checked my phone for tweets and saw that it was 3:03 a.m. Time to stop reading :'( I looked down at my Kindle, and I had stopped at exactly 50%. I read 10% in class that morning, then finished the remaining 40% while waiting for my brother/assistant to get out of school. I ditched my two night classes and he ditched academic decathlon, and we went to the signing. Yay!

I was really nervous because I am just about the shiest person on earth, but it ended up being really awesome. I had a lot of fun and spent too much money! :D

Waiting on Wednesday (40)

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 WILDEFIRE by Karsten Knight. For some reason, I can never spell WILDEFIRE right. I always want to type WILDFIRE instead.

Ashline Wilde never received an instruction manual on how to be a 16-year-old Polynesian volcano goddess. If she had, it might have contained helpful warnings such as:

• Dreaming about your (thankfully) mortal boyfriend may cause your bed to spontaneously combust
• Oven mitts should be worn at all times.

Instead, Ash has to learn these life lessons the hard way as her dormant powers erupt at the most awkward times. In the wake of a hometown tragedy, Ash transfers to Blackwood Academy, a boarding school nestled in California’s redwoods, where a group of fellow gods-on-earth have mysteriously convened. As if sophomore year couldn’t get any worse, her storm goddess older sister, the wild and unpredictable Eve, resurfaces to haunt Ashline. With a war between the gods looming over Blackwood, Ash must master the fire smoldering within her before she clashes with her sister one final time, which leads us to life-lesson #3:

• When warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm.

Coming Summer 2011

This one sounds really good, and if you've seen Karsten Knight's vlogs or follow him on Twitter, then you know how insanely awesome he is. How could you not buy his book? What are you waiting for this Wednesday?