YA book reviews, reading and recommending since 2009

Happy New Year everyone! 2012 is going to be an AMAZING year and I know it. 2011 was a tough year for me but I thank God that I made it and here I am typing this in 2012! I just finished my first novel of 2012 and it’s none other than The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater– highly recommended. 🙂

One of my favorite TV shows is Pretty Little Liars and I have something for all of the PPL fans! A must be in a good mood this holiday season – she has shared some secrets with us via text message this week! Let’s see what she has to say!

Q: Are you working with anyone?
A: Does the devil count?

Q: Who do you now view as the weak link and why?
A: I’m more interested in the strongest liar.

Q: Do you go to Rosewood High?
A: I have.

Q: Will we ever hear your voice?
A: You already have.

Q: You seem to break up all the couples – which of the girls’ boyfriends are you most interested in?
A: Toby. Wait… what do you mean by interested? 😉

Q: What have you been up to since we last saw the PLLs?
A: Target practice.

Q: Will we learn your identity this season?
A: Yes.

Q: What’s your New Year’s resolution?
A: More cardio.

Q: Do you want the girls to find out who you are eventually?
A: Only one of them.

Q: Why do you hate the girls so much?
A: There’s a thin line between love and hate.

Q: Who do you think is the prettiest little liar?
A: Me.

Q: Favorite trick you’ve played on the girls ever?
A: Emily’s massage.

Q: We know you spend a lot of time hiding in the liars’ closets, spying. Which one has the most impressive shoe collection?
A: Hard to choose – Hanna or Aria.

Q: How do you dress for breaking and entering, yet still look fashionable?
A: Black never goes out of style.

Q: Will anyone else in Rosewood (aside from the Little Liars) receive messages from you this season?
A: Oh yes, the circle widens.

Q: Are you a familiar face in Rosewood?
A: Yes.

Q: How far will you go this season to achieve your aim?
A: Over the edge.

Q: What clues will we be learning about you?
A: You’ll learn more about my relationship with Alison.

Q: What do you have up your sleeve for Maya and Emily?
A: I always liked Paige better.

Q: Which Liar suffers the most at your hands this season?
A: I’m sharing the love.

Q: Where should we look for you in a scene this year?
A: I’m always in the background.

We are going to learn A’s identity this season? Are you excited?! 🙂 Don’t forget to tune-in to ABC Family’s Winter Premiere of Pretty Little Liars on Monday, Jan. 2 at 8/7c!

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Hi everyone I’m so excited to be part of the cover reveal for Chosen Ones by Tiffany Truitt! It be published by Entangled publishing with a scheduled release for April 2012. 🙂

Enjoy the pretty cover and intriguing blurb!

(click for a bigger image)

What if you were mankind’s last chance at survival?
Sixteen-year-old Tess lives in a compound in what was once the Western United States, now decimated after a devastating fourth World War. But long before that, life as we knew it had been irrevocably changed, as women mysteriously lost the ability to bring forth life. Faced with the extinction of the human race, the government began the Council of Creators, meant to search out alternative methods of creating life. The resulting artificial human beings, or Chosen Ones, were extraordinarily beautiful, unbelievably strong, and unabashedly deadly.

Life is bleak, but uncomplicated for Tess as she follows the rigid rules of her dystopian society, until the day she begins work at Templeton, the training facility for newly created Chosen Ones. There, she meets James, a Chosen One whose odd love of music and reading rivals only her own. The attraction between the two is immediate in its intensity—and overwhelming in its danger.

But there is more to the goings-on at Templeton than Tess ever knew, and as the veil is lifted from her eyes, she uncovers a dark underground movement bent not on taking down the Chosen Ones, but the Council itself. Will Tess be able to stand up to those who would oppress her, even if it means giving up the only happiness in her life?

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: March 22nd 2011
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Gold star (4.5/5 stars)

Synopsis: Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously–and at great risk–documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

Review: I must confess, I’m not one who reads historical novels. But one fine day I was at the library and picked up Between Shades of Gray. I read the first chapter and could not stop reading! I finally understood why everyone was raving about this novel. This book is honestly FANTASTIC. It’s the type of novel I want to buy for everyone for Christmas.

Now prior to reading this book, I have never heard of Lithuania before! Sure I know all about the World War 2 and what Hitler did to the Jews but talk to me about Lithuanians being displaced to Siberian work camps and I will give you a blank look. This book is based on real events and it really upset me to read about how much people suffered during the war. But what upset me the most was that history books nowadays do not include anything about the occupation and annexation of the Baltic states!

The story starts off with Lina and her family being rounded up in the middle of the night by Soviet officers and labeled thieves and prostitutes and put on trains bound for Siberia. Along the way to Siberia, people die, Lina and her family have to survive on the miserable amount of food provided while leaving in a dark and crowded train so filthy it was almost suffocating, and they are separated from their father. Every day people were dying due to scurvy and typhus or just because they were at the wrong place at the wrong time. When they reached Siberia, it was not over yet. They had to work hard daily doing manual labour and Lina and her family’s future looked so bleak.

Sepetys’s writing is remarkable. From the harsh depictions of every day life to the roller coaster of emotions Lina undergoes, Sepetys has written a gripping and heartwrenching novel supported by a cast of strong characters. Lina is a strong protagonist and her voice throughout the book is authentic. We cannot feel anything but sympathetic towards her plight. Lina’s mother was also a character that stood out in the novel. She was so noble and despite being in the same situation as everyone else, she made an effort to be nice to the other people in the train compartment and even shared the food with everyone. Her generosity and kindness touched my heart. Lina’s mother was the pillar of strength, she would always be optimistic and never gave up.

I recommend Between Shades of Gray to everyone. It was a beautifully written novel that was educational at the same time. This is a truly unforgettable novel that is not to be missed. One of my favorite books of 2011. You can read the first two chapters here. The paperback version is available now at Book Depository.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Publisher: Putnam Publishing Group
Publication Date: 29 September 2011
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Silver star (4/5 stars)

Synopsis: The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it’s the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn’t notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.

Review: Hi everyone, I know it has been far too long since I last reviewed but this time I am determined to review one book every day from now till January 2012! All the books I will be reviewing will be books I enjoyed and strongly recommend. 🙂 Now, on with the review!

Maureen Johnson, best known for her 13 Little Blue Envelopes series and Suite Scarlett (which I adored), has written a paranormal novel quite unlike any other. Rory was an awesome protagonist, full of wit and easily relatable. She was an American teenager from Louisiana and this year she was going to study at a London boarding school. But shortly after arriving in London, the “Rippermania” starts. It was very interesting seeing the “Rippermania” take place in modern day London. Johnson’s writing is very descriptive so I actually felt as though I was transported to London and was interacting with the characters. Oh and when I say descriptive, I mean Johnson was not shy of details. She describes the murders well but not in an overly gory way.

Now where does the paranormal part come in? Well let’s just say there will be some ghostbusting done. 😉 The romance was well-played but it was not the focal point of the novel. The good news is this book is part of a series so we will be seeing more of the characters!

Overall The Name of the Star had me frantically flipping pages towards the end and the ending was nicely done. I won’t recommend reading this book at night because that night I finished the book and was walking home, I turned around every five minutes to make sure I wasn’t being followed. True story! The Name of the Star also had me searching online about the original Jack the Ripper murders. I wonder why the Ripper murders suddenly stopped and what really happened to the original Jack the Ripper. Now that’s a discussion for another day. Until then, check out The Name of the Star if you want something paranormal but are tired of vampires, werewolves and faeries.

Here are what others are saying:

“Johnson fearlessly takes readers from . . . a cool innocent-abroad-with-iPod story to supernatural thriller. The tension ramps up exquisitely among cups of tea, library visits and the London Underground. The explosive ending is genuinely terrifying but never loses the wit, verve and humor that Rory carries with her throughout.” – Kirkus

“Readers looking for nonstop fun, action, and a little gore have come to the right place.” – Publishers Weekly

“A gorgeously written, chilling, atmospheric thriller. The streets of London have never been so sinister or so romantic.” – Cassandra Clare, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments series

It’s been a while

Hey my fellow book lovers, I know I have been gone for a while. I guess some where along the way I lost interest in reviewing because I felt like I had run out of things to say and that I’d repeat myself in every review. In the past few months so much has happened and I don’t even know where to begin! My dear faithful readers, I can’t promise anything, but I will be reviewing books again! I haven’t received books in a long time, to be honest, so all the books would be either bought or borrowed from the library. Hope you’re looking forward to the reviews. One of the upcoming reviews will definitely include Forever by Maggie Stiefvater. Stay tuned!

Hi everyone. If you are a big Shiver fan like me, you’re probably dying inside ever since Linger. But not to fret, the wait is almost over! July 12th will come before you know it. Pre-order your copy from Fountain bookstore and it’ll be signed and DOODLED. Believe me, paying that amount for a doodled book is nothing. I paid $200 for three doodled books before (one of them being Shiver)!

In the mean time, here is the Forever trailer to quench your thirst.