Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

March 22

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Recent Arrivals: Underworld (Abandon Book 2) by Meg Cabot

by Ann-Katrina

Recent Arrivals chronicles the books that have made their way onto the Today, I Read… bookshelf. Here’s the latest arrival: Underworld by Meg Cabot

Underworld by Meg Cabot cover

First paragraph: "Pierce keeps having the most terrible nightmares." My mom used to say this to all the doctors we saw right after the accident. "She talks in her sleep–sorry, sweetheart, but you do–about a boy following her. Sometimes she even wakes up crying. It doesn’t seem normal. I’ve never had dreams that vivid."

Initial thoughts: I literally squealed like a little fangirl when this arrived on my doorstep. And I love that cover—it’s much shinier in person. Thank goodness I keep a book summary journal* because I only remember a few bits and bobs of Abandon, but I remember enough to know I enjoyed it**, so I’m looking forward to reading the continuation of Pierce and John’s story.

Book description:

Seventeen-year-old Pierce Oliviera isn’t dead. Not this time.

But she’s been taken by John Hayden, lord of the Underworld, to the dim, twilit place between heaven and hell, where the spirits of the deceased wait before embarking upon their final journey.

John claims it’s for her own safety, to protect her from the Furies who yearn for vengeance against him. But John may have reasons of his own for wanting to keep Pierce close…

And soon she learns that while she might be safe from the wrath of the Furies in the Underworld, the people she loves back on earth are not. Can Pierce convince John to release her in order to save the life of someone in her family–or will the price he asks her to pay for her freedom turn out to be too high?

Book Details: 336 pages; Point; Pub. May 8, 2012

* Book summary journal: After I finish reading a book (usually immediately afterward unless I’m feeling lazy), I’ll write a 5-10 page summary of all the major plot points, character list, and other relevant notes so I can reference it later. This system has been working out well—except for the books I didn’t get around to summarizing.

** I’m such a dork. I wrote the review for Abandon, but never edited or published it. I thought I did, but didn’t. Expect that soon-ish.

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January 16

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Recent Arrivals: The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams

by Ann-Katrina

Recent Arrivals chronicles the books that have made their way onto the Today, I Read… bookshelf. Here’s the latest arrival: The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams

The Alchemy of Forever cover

First paragraph: I feel as though I’ve been waiting for the masquerade ball for my entire life. At fourteen, I am eligible for marriage and finally old enough to attend. The torchlight flickers on the sandstone facade of Lord Suffit’s palace on the Thames, and the roses woven into my hair are heady and sweet. I remember to push my mast up over my face before I walk through the great arched doorway.

Initial thoughts: Let me say up front that I’d not heard word one about this novel. Never read anything by Avery Williams before and, in general, have been out of the loop. But when I checked my mail and saw a package from Simon & Schuster and with tucked inside a book with a very pretty cover, I couldn’t resist checking out the back cover and blurb. (By the way, the picture does not do the actual cover justice.)

My first thought was, Hmm, this reminds me of that episode of The Outer Limits where the cops were chasing those spirit orb glow-y things that kept leaping from body to body. Before you think that’s a bad thing, it’s actually not. The Outer Limits happens to be one of my all time favourite shows. So while the gist of the story sounded quite similar to that episode, it was different enough to grab my attention—different in a way that made me want to read this book—like—yesterday.

As luck would have it, the book doesn’t appear over-long, so it should only take a few hours, however, it’s the beginning of a series, so I’m a little worried that this won’t be a fully contained story. I saw a lot of that going around last year—an almost story with a cliffhanger ending in an attempt to shove you into the next book—but the good news is that I haven’t seen it too much with stuff put out by S&S.

Book description:

Her first love made her immortal…

Her second might get her killed.

After spending six hundred years on Earth, Seraphina Ames has seen it all. Eternal life provides her with the world’s riches, but at a very high price: innocent lives. Centuries ago her boyfriend, Cyrus, discovered a method of alchemy that allows them to take the bodies of other humans by jumping from one vessel to the next, ending the human’s life in the process. No longer able to bear the guilt of what she’s done, Sera escapes from Cyrus and vows to never kill again.

Then sixteen-year-old Kailey Morgan gets into a horrific car accident right in front of her, and Sera accidentally takes over her body while trying to save her. For the first time, Sera finds herself enjoying the life of the person she’s inhabiting–and falling for the human boy who lives next door. Buy Cyrus will stop at nothing until she’s his again, and every moment she stays, she’s putting herself and the people she’s grown to care for in great danger. Will Sera have to give up the one thing that’s eluded her for centuries: true love?

Book Details: 246 pages; Simon & Schuster; Pub. January 3, 2012

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March 25

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My Stack of Books Going into the Weekend, Planned Giveaways, and Currently Reading

by Ann-Katrina

Typically I’d do a recent arrivals post for each of the books, but this past week has been very good to me in the book department, so I’m just going to do up a collective post and then publish book notes/teasers as I read through each title. :D Sound good? Hooray!

The Dead-Tossed Waves Cover Last year I read, and reviewed, The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. Although I didn’t care too much for Mary’s character, I did enjoy the intrigue and the world created.

When I was in my local Borders wishing them a heartrending farewell (sniff, sniff) I found The Dead-Tossed Waves on sale and I couldn’t resist. The reason I even waited so long was because I knew this book probably wouldn’t tell me anything I wanted to know about the Sisterhood.

Then I got to thinking, hey, I could be wrong. Maybe it’s going to be connected somehow and it will be like a slow reveal of how the zombie apocalypse in their world came to be. So I grabbed it and it’s officially in my TBR stack.

Animorphs The Invasion CoverAnimorphs The Visitors Cover Then there are the wonderful elves as Scholastic who somehow seem to read my mind and send me books I start drooling over the moment I open up the package. Animorphs!! With lenticular covers! (Yes, I’m easily amused.) I remember reading K. A. Applegate way back in the day, so receiving these books made me smile–okay, I also did a snoopy dance, too.

Behind the Gates Cover I also received a promising dystopian urban sci-fi novel called Behind the Gates (Tomorrow Girls Book 1) by Eva Gray. When I read the back cover, I was curious, but shrugged. Then I read the actual release and thought, hey, this could be good.  And then I read the first chapter and thought, I need to move this up the TBR pile.

But let us not forget about the Simon & Schuster elves who also seem to have these amazing mind-reading powers and sent me books that made me pause and say, hmmm.

Stay Cover Deb Caletti is a brand-new-to-me author, but when I read the back cover for Stay, I knew I’d be in for an emotional ride. It may even hit a little close to home. Must start mental preparations now.

Between Here and Forever Cover The other book was Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott. This will be my third official Elizabeth Scott book.

The first one I read was The Unwritten Rule, which was fun and light and touching. It was filled with teen angst and drama and discovering oneself. Basically, I enjoyed it and it’s a great way to pass a lazy afternoon.

Then I just recently finished Living Dead Girl and…words…I don’t have any. I was not prepared at all for what laid between the virtual covers of that book (I read the ebook*). When I realized how jarring a read it was, I wanted to stop so I could set my head on straight, but I couldn’t because if I did and went to sleep, I would have nightmares. Finishing wasn’t any better. (Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad big, the subject matter is just…again, words fail me.)

The differences between those two books was vast, but it gave me a whole new respect for Ms. Scott. She’s an automatic must-read author for me now and having finished the first chapter of Between Here and Forever, I know to be prepared for a roller-coaster of emotions.

So, to sum up, here’s what I received this week laid out in a neat list:

I can’t believe it’s almost the end of March and I haven’t done a single giveaway yet. I must rectify that. In fact, I think I’m going to overcompensate for my lack of contests.

Warm Bodies Cover Coming up next month I’ll be holding a giveaway for Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion (oh my goodness am I excited about this one–and crossing my fingers that Mr. Marion will do a guest blog) thanks to the wonderful Mellony at Simon & Schuster.

Radiance CoverI’ll also be giving away my soft cover copy of Radiance by Alyson Noel. One thing I love about this book is the deckle edge paper. Definitely a nice touch, not to mention a good read.

Abandon Cover On the list of books up for giveaway is my ARC for Abandon by Meg Cabot. I have so much to talk about with that book, but I’m holding off until the official release next month. Until then, you can check out my scant book notes on the recent arrivals post.

Finally, I’ll officially be announcing my comment rewards. What are comment rewards? Well, a while ago I mentioned an idea of rewarding those who visit my blog by selecting a random commenter whenever comment milestones are reached. The commenter can then select a book from the comment rewards bookshelf.

Any comment, past or present, is game. Commenters just need to use a valid email address when commenting (no, I will not spam you or subscribe you to any mailing list and such) and are over the age of 13 (privacy thing–in case you win). Comment rewards will be open internationally.

Beastly Cover To close up, since this post is now becoming rather unwieldy, after watching a recent preview for the movie Beastly, and seeing that it was based on a book by Alex Flinn, I trotted my happy behind over to the library website and (thank goodness a copy was available) downloaded the ebook. I’m just over halfway finished and have mixed feelings.

On one hand, I love the tweak on the classic story, but on the other I’m not loving the lack of a nod to Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, or even Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, though a number of other fairytale creators (Hans Christian Andersen, The Brothers Grimm) and fairytale characters receive such nods (unless, of course, the Madames’ nods are through all the discussion of French literature–but maybe there will be a more discernable one in later chapters).

Also I’m not entirely thrilled with some of the character development and prose—sometimes it feels as though she’s talking down to her audience. But I’ll save that for an actual review though.

For now, I shall leave you to enjoy your weekend. Have fun, be safe, and don’t forget to read a book or two.

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February 25

Comments: 1

Recent Arrivals: Abandon by Meg Cabot

by Ann-Katrina

Recent Arrivals chronicles the books that have made their way onto the Today, I Read… bookshelf. Here’s the latest arrival: Abandon by Meg Cabot

Abandon cover

First line: Anything can happen in the blink of an eye.

Initial thoughts: I saw the cover (which is much shinier than the one pictured) and fell a little bit in love. Then I saw it was written by Meg Cabot and said, hey, I’ve always wanted to read something by her. (Yes, I’m probably the last person on the planet who hasn’t read a Meg Cabot novel…though I have one on my bookshelf.)

So, I laid down to read the first chapter, as is customary when I get a new book before I assign it a position in the TBR stack, and before I realized it, I was up to the 9th chapter when I finally put it down. What that tells me is that I need to finish this book, and likely will by tomorrow.

The premise is so intriguing (and I’m not just saying that because I have a morbid obsession with Death), but I have to admit some aspects are vexing–more on that when I write a proper book notes post or the flat out review–but right now I really just want to get to the bottom of Pierce’s situation and why she’s in it.

I may just have a winner on my hands and I’m a bit apprehensive because it’s a trilogy which means I’ll be left with a cliffhanger at the end and a long wait before I can get the second book. *sigh*

Book description:

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 Details: 320 pages; Point; Pub. April 26, 2011; Read Excerpt

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February 22

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Recent Arrivals: Geek Fantasy Novel by E. Archer

by Ann-Katrina

Recent Arrivals chronicles the books that have made their way onto the Today, I Read… bookshelf. Here’s the latest arrival: Geek Fantasy Novel by E. Archer

Geek Fantasy Novel cover

First line: Wishes are dangerous.

Initial thoughts: I don’t know what to think except awesome. I love the cover and from the first chapter it looks like a fun read. It brings back those high school memories of playing D&D and a geekily modified version of freeze tag in my neighbor’s backyard.

Book description:

Be careful what you wish for. Really. Wishes are bad. Very bad.

They can get you trapped in a fantasy world full of killer bunny rabbits, evil aunts, and bothersome bacteria, for example.

But you already knew that, didn’t you?

Ralph, alas, does not. He’s been asked to spend the summer with his strange British relatives at their old manor house in order to set up their Wi-Fi network. But there’s much more to it than that, of course. It’s just that nobody told Ralph. He’s a gamer, sure. But this game is much stranger–and funnier–than anything manufactured by Nintendo.

Book Details: 320 pages; Scholastic Press; Pub. April 2011

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