IMM #14

In My Mailbox is a weekly event over at The Story Siren, which showcases the books we’ve purchased, borrowed and received in the mail this week. This is the fourteenth episode of HOARDERS, Books Edition.
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Retribution by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Tiger’s Voyage by Colleen Houck
Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer
Indelible by Lani Woodland
Wherever You Go by Heather Davis
The File on Angelyn Stark by Catherine Atkins
iBoy by Kevin Brooks
Prized by Caragh O’Brien
The Sharp Time by Mary O’Connell
Don’t Expect Magic by Kathy McCullough
Roadside Assistance by Amy Clipston
The Sleepwalkers by J. Gabriel Gates
Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers
Bleeding Hearts by Alyxandra Harvey
Double Clutch by Liz Reinhardt
A Love by Any Measure by Killian McRae
Flame of Surrender by Rhiannon Paille
The Willows: Haven by Hope Collier
Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James
Last Call by Jennifer Schmidt
Unwritten Rules by M.A. Stacie
Take This Regret by Amy Lichtenhan
Yes, this week has been insane…actually, every week has been insane. There’s literally books everywhere in my house. I’m trying to read as much as I can and on the last count, I’m up to 253 books read for 2011. I just have to find a way to curb my predilection of hoarding books.

QUICK PSA
There’s still about seven days left for the blog’s giveaway where you can win your choice of 4 new titles from November’s releases. ENTER HERE!

What’s in your mailbox?

Review: Darker Still by Leanna Rennee Hieber

Publication Date: November 8th, 2011
Sourcebooks Fire
Format: Paperback, 317 pages
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Add Darker Still to your Goodreads.

SUMMARY

The Picture of Dorian Gray meets Pride and Prejudice, with a dash of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

New York City, 1882. Seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart’s latest obsession is a painting of the handsome British Lord Denbury. Something in his striking blue eyes calls to her. As his incredibly life-like gaze seems to follow her, Natalie gets the uneasy feeling that details of the painting keep changing…
Jonathan Denbury’s soul is trapped in the gilded painting by dark magic while his possessed body commits unspeakable crimes in the city slums. He must lure Natalie into the painting, for only together can they reverse the curse and free his damaged soul.
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Initial Reaction After Reading:
At a time when YA is flooded by novels that are cut from the same cloth, Darker Still was a refreshingly, original read. It’s Victorian gothic at its best – dark, historical and mystical but simplistic in a way that the reader will not be too encumbered with the formal writings of the time. 
HIGHLIGHTS:
  • Traumatized by her mother’s violent death, Natalie Stewart hasn’t been able to speak since childhood. Left to flourish under the care of her father, she has learned to cope with the possibility that she wouldn’t be blessed with a life like girls her age – no marriage proposals and no family of her own. When a supposedly haunted portrait of Lord Denbury comes into the possession of a decidedly spiritualistic rich matron, Natalie’s days and nights become a succession of believing the impossible and dreaming of the handsome Lord imprisoned inside the mystical, gilded frame of his own portrait.
  • Strong Heroine. Despite being blighted with the inability to speak, Natalie stands out as one of those admirably strong female lead. She fought for herself in any way she knew how. I loved that nothing could deter this girl from anything she sets her mind to. Aside from one instance when she threw a hissy fit and walked away from three dubious, oblivious girls, there didn’t seem to be anything that could faze her – even an evil version of Lord Denbury. 
  • Old Days, Old Ways. I’ve always been fascinated with the Victorian era. The propriety and the customs, the formality of the language – the author did a phenomenal job of creating a world genuine to the period. 
  • Goosebumps. If Natalie’s nightmares doesn’t give you nightmares, well, hats off to you. Ms Hieber has a penchant for writing visceral scenes that added to the seemingly sinister Gothic theme of the book. 
LOWLIGHTS:
  • Foregone Conclusion. Because this book was written in a journal form, there was a definitive lack of suspense throughout the novel. I wasn’t worried that Natalie would come out of each conflict unharmed because, well, otherwise there wouldn’t have been an entry in her diary. 
  • Lack of dialogues, pardon the pun.  I didn’t mean that because Natalie was mute, there wasn’t much talking involved. Sheesh. I’m not a fan of narrative novels. And as previously mentioned, this book was a succession of diarized entries so it was mostly Natalie telling you the story. I tend to lose interest in novels if I don’t see much quotation marks. But this novel had some saving graces that I managed to get through it just fine. 
  • He is, indeed a dashing Lord, but… What is it about aristocratic, British men? *sigh* I for one, am a sucker for these proper gentlemen and no one can deny about Lord Denbury’s hotness. But there is something disturbing about how perfect this man is. Rich, smart, philanthropic and have I mentioned handsome? I know this is a work of fiction but come on, a flaw or two wouldn’t hurt. But hey, that’s just me. You’re probably wondering what in the heck I’m complaining about. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just tired of reading unrealistically perfect species of men. 
FINAL THOUGHTS:
There was a great balance to this novel. The romance was tasteful and the air of mystery was not overdone.  The thrill of learning about runes and curses and the events leading up to Lord Denbury’s imprisonment captivated me to the end. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and I’m positively hungry for the next one. 




2012 Self-Published Reading Challenge

Hello there!

So for 2012 I decided to plunge right into doing some challenges. This one particularly have caught my attention because I have an astronomical amount of Indie books that I’ve yet to get to. What better way to slowly plow through them than challenging myself? If you guys are interested, here are the guidelines:

Challenge Guidelines:

  1. This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2012 – Dec 31, 2012.
  2. Anyone can join, you don’t need to be a blogger. If you don’t have a blog, feel free to sign-up in the comments. You can post reviews to any book site (i.e. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Goodreads, etc).
  3. Any genre, length or format of book counts, as long as it is self-published by the author.
  4. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
  5. When you sign up in the linky, put the direct link to your post about joining the Self-Published Reading Challenge.
  6. You can move up levels, but no moving down.
  7. Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2012, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.

Levels:

  1. Sentence – 5 books
  2. Paragraph- 10 books
  3. Page – 25 books
  4. Chapter – 50 books
  5. Short Story – 75 books
  6. Novel – 100 books
  7. Series – 150 books

At the beginning of each month there will be a roundup post for you to add your reviews for that month. If you forget, feel free to add your reviews in the following month. Any reviews submitted will be entered into the draw for that month.

Yes, there will be draws every month for participants. As long as you are signed up below, every review you add to the monthly roundups will get one entry into the giveaway for that month.

There will also be a grand giveaway at the end of the year for eveyone who achieves their goal level (or  higher). There may be different prizes for different levels, but that is not decided yet. If you are an author and want to contribute to the monthly or grand prizes, please contact me.



By the way, this is presented by Workadayreads.com and you can sign up by clicking this link


I’ve decided to be conservative and to the Paragraph level.


The challenge now is, which of these books do I pick first?

Review: Dark Heart Forever by Lee Monroe

Publication Date: October 7th, 2010
Hodder Children’s Books
Format: Paperback, 372 pages
**DID NOT FINISH**

SUMMARY
Jane Jonas is nearing her 16th birthday and troubled by unsettling recurring dreams where the same mysterious boy her age comes to her, telling Jane that they are each other’s destiny. Her mother is increasingly anxious about Jane’s disruptive sleepwalking episodes, but for Jane her dream world and reality are about to collide …When she develops a friendship with an enigmatic stranger in town, the blond, uber-cool Evan, it’s exciting, it’s new, and Jane wants him more than she’s ever wanted anybody – until her mystery dream boy gets in the way. Now Jane is caught between two worlds: one familiar, but tinged with romance and excitement; the other dark and dangerous, where angels, werewolves, and an irresistible stranger are trying to seduce her …
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1 out of 5 Stars

Unfortunately, this book will be shelved under DID NOT FINISH. I was halfway through but nothing was really happening. The plot moved in such a snail’s pace that I quit reading before I could figure what this book was about. I hate giving up on books but I have to think about the other ones on my Mt. TBR that are more deserving of my time.

The beautiful cover did me in – again. So much so that I’ve bought the second book without knowing how the first one would turn out.

There wasn’t much character development and as a result, the characters felt inanimate – robotic, almost. Also, the relationship between Jane and Evan happened in a whiplash-inducing manner, something that I’m not a big fan of. Jane was caught in the middle between Evan and Luca and yet I didn’t see any instances where she vacillated between the two. She’s the type of girl who just goes with the flow. If she’s with Evan, then Luca doesn’t enter her mind and the same goes if she’s with Luca. The good thing about it is that the love triangle didn’t make me want to facepunch someone; actually, it didn’t make me feel anything at all. And really, that’s the root of the problem. This book couldn’t induce any sort of feelings from me.

There were some elements of this book that suffered greatly. Like the lack of background information on how Luca was supposedly connected to Jane; that she’s his half and vice versa. Ultimately, the book failed to hook me into its pages that regretfully, I had to give up reading. 

Winner Announcement!

I posted a review of Angel Burn by L.A. Weatherly earlier and it received a 5 star rating. I did say that for the month of November, every book that receives a 5 star rating from the blog will be given away. So for the first 5 of the month, the winner is:


Congratulations, Tiffany! She also answered the question correctly. Vincent Jackson scored three touchdowns at the Chargers’ heartbreaking loss last Sunday. 

Review: The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore

Publication Date:  August 23rd, 2011
HarperCollins
Format:  Hardcover, 406 pages
Add The Power of Six to your Goodreads!

SUMMARY
I’ve seen him on the news. Followed the stories about what happened in Ohio. John Smith, out there, on the run. To the world, he’s a mystery. But to me . . . he’s one of us.

Nine of us came here, but sometimes I wonder if time has changed us—if we all still believe in our mission. How can I know? There are six of us left. We’re hiding, blending in, avoiding contact with one another . . . but our Legacies are developing, and soon we’ll be equipped to fight. Is John Number Four, and is his appearance the sign I’ve been waiting for? And what about Number Five and Six? Could one of them be the raven-haired girl with the stormy eyes from my dreams? The girl with powers that are beyond anything I could ever imagine? The girl who may be strong enough to bring the six of us together?

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They tried to catch Number Four in Ohio—and failed.

I am Number Seven. One of six still alive.

And I’m ready to fight.

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MY TAKE: 2/5 STARS
Initial Reaction After Reading:
I’m thoroughly angry. The majority of the book was a fantastic read…until I got to the parts where Four/John Smith agonized like a fickle boy stuck between loving one girl and liking another. Oh, there’s a difference. It makes me mad that THIS overshadowed how great this book could’ve been. I’m sorry that I’m so hung up on the forced romances in this book but I detest love triangles; hate it, hate it, hate it – with a passion. I have debated on abadoning this book but with only about a quarter left, I forced down the irritation and persevered to continue.
Highlights:
  • The instalment to I Am Number Four follows the story of Four, Six and Sam on the run from the law and from the Mogadorians on their tails. Much like its predecessor, this book was action packed and full of unrelenting thrills.  
  • We finally learned of the contents of the chests and the legacies that will help the surviving six exiles to find each other and fight for Lorien’s resurgence.
  • Sam and Bernie Kozar remain my favorite characters of this series but I also enjoyed some new characters that were introduced: Ella and Hector.
  • Six is a bad-ass, kick ass chick, who unfortunately, had to suffer being a part of a ridiculous love triangle. We get to learn more about the life she led with her deceased Cephan, Katarina. I love her ferocity and will toward whatever purpose she was supposed to fulfill.
  • Step aside, Four, I have a new favorite Loric. Number Seven, much like Six is resolute in her beliefs. Having lived most of her Earth life in a convent, the suffocation she felt at being ‘imprisoned’ was palpable. I was frustrated with Adelina for renouncing her duties as her Cephan, but thankfully, there was some redemption in her character toward the end.
Lowlights:
  • Four/ John Smith. Through much of his angsty soliloquy about Sarah and Six, the thoughts swirling through my head was that this book was not written by the original author who wrote I Am Number Four. It just cannot be. How in the world could you introduce me to a strong male lead in the first book and then turn him into a pantsy, angsty alien on the next? The decision to see Sarah in Paradise was, in the spirit of honesty, the STUPIDEST thing he could ever done. I’m just having a hard time digesting how Four turned out. I’m almost glad that the entire book wasn’t told in his POV, because, seriously, when he’s not fighting Mogs? Being in his head made me want to slit my wrist. I’m not kidding. Stop pining already! Ugh.
  • Speaking of Sarah, why do I get the feeling that what she did was just a veiled attempt to force feed me with the idea of Four and Six?  Right now? I really couldn’t care less who Four ends up with. I am more interested to see what happens to the rest of the Lorics. Sarah was another character who turned Jekyll and Hyde on me. I just don’t understand why the author chose to un-developed these two characters. I didn’t really warm up to the idea of Sarah and Four but I’m furious that the author sold me – completely at that, on the first book with their professions of love only to make a mockery of it on the next. What.the.heck.
Final Thoughts:
Even after receiving a lukewarm reception from me, this book definitely did its job of building anticipation for the next one. I really am looking forward to reading the third instalment, regardless of how angry this book made me. I still think that this is an amazing series but I AM SO OVER FOUR.


Review: Angel Burn by L.A. Weatherly

Publication Date: May 24th, 2011
Candlewick Press
Format: Hardcover, 449 pages
Add Angel Burn to your Goodreads!

SUMMARY
Willow knows she’s different from other girls, and not just because she loves tinkering with cars. Willow has a gift. She can look into the future and know people’s dreams and hopes, their sorrows and regrets, just by touching them. She has no idea where this power comes from. But the assassin, Alex, does. Gorgeous, mysterious Alex knows more about Willow than Willow herself. He knows that her powers link to dark and dangerous forces, and that he’s one of the few humans left who can fight them. When Alex finds himself falling in love with his sworn enemy, he discovers that nothing is as it seems, least of all good and evil. In the first book in an action-packed, romantic trilogy, L..A. Weatherly sends readers on a thrill-ride of a road trip – and depicts the human race at the brink of a future as catastrophic as it is deceptively beautiful.

They’re out for your soul . . . and they don’t have heaven in mind.

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MY TAKE:  5/5 STARS
Highlights:
Be prepared to see these heavenly creatures in a different light. These breed of angels are unlike any other angels you’ve ever read before. They’re almost cannibalistic in their hunger for human life. The book is not gory, per se. But their appetites are probably comparable. They have the characteristics of a horde of aliens, parasitic and gluttonous in their hunger. They invade, they destroy, they move on. We’ve been serve with a cacophony of stories about these beings but as far as I’m concerned, Angel Burn is highly original.  

Willow is an amiable character. She is without the angst of a teenager who’d known her disparity with the rest of the kids her age.  Willow grew up knowing that she’s different. She’s a psychic with a talent in psychometry. She can tell anything about a person with one touch; she can tell what your future is if you give her your hand. Her beauty is ethereal, concealed in second hand clothes and grease from fixing cars. Her relationship with her vegetative mother is heartrending but it exists, nonetheless.

Alex was hard to figure out. I love the air of mystery that constantly surrounds him and the futile fight he had with himself as he tries to figure out who or what to follow: his heart or his belief that angels – of any kind should be terminated.

Lowlights:

Virtually none, in my honest opinion.

Final Thoughts:

I enjoyed every single page of this book. The heart pounding sequences were relentless and the romance was sweet and real. I’ve finally got my copy of Angel Fire (Angel Burn #2) and I’m chomping at the bits to get started.

BUY YOUR COPY HERE: AMAZON

Five Star review? You know what this means, right? GIVEAWAY! Want a copy of Angel Burn? I just happened to have an extra kicking around because Candlewick Press sent me a copy. Who wants it? Answer this question and if you’re the right number of commenter on queue, you win this book!

How many touchdowns did Vincent Jackson score this weekend?
  • INTERNATIONAL
  • You don’t have to be a follower but it will be nice if you’ll leave a comment.
  • I will not be held responsible for lost or damage during transit.

 …Aaaaannnnndd GO!

Top Ten Tuesday (4): Books I Read that were Outside of My Comfort Zone.

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists and let’s face it, so am I!

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Top Ten Books I Read that were Outside of My Comfort Zone

  1. Sleeping Beauty Series by A.N. Roquelaure Traumatizing series. I had to force myself to finish book one.
  2. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown I’m not much into whoddunit books but I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed this one. I’ve always wanted to take any of Dan Brown’s books and book myself a flight to Europe – take a tour of all the places he mentioned here and in Angels & Demons.
  3. The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis I am a product of Catholic School education. On my senior year, I was to do a book report of my own choosing. I chose this and needless to say, it was rejected by my English teacher.
  4. Harold Robbins Books I was twelve when I discovered Harold Robbins. It didn’t take very long before I realize that his books are definitely not intended for my age bracket at the time. I remember being castigated by my aunt who told me I shouldn’t be reading his books so I found a way to read them secretly.
  5. Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer This series started my love affair with YA books. I’ve not looked back since.
  6. Black Dagger Brotherhood Series by J.R. Ward Much like Twilight, this series by JR Ward paved the way to so many paranormal romance books on my shelves.
  7. Graceling by Kristin Cashore I wasn’t big on reading fantasy books – until I read this.
  8. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan My very first zombie novels! I’ve been collecting them ever since.
  9. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins My first taste of dystopian. I remember reading the first book and basically forcing everyone I know to read it.
  10. Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder Ms. Schroeder introduced me to verse books. So few words, yet so powerful. I have been reading these books since and loving each and every one of them!

Joyousreads’ {mis}Adventures – 11072011

Books and Travels by Yours Truly.
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DESTINATION: San Diego, California
DURATION: November 4 (supposed to be) – November 7, 2011
BOOKS PACKED FOR THIS TRIP
I read a big chunk of The Power of Six and a bit of The Guardian. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to crack Fury. 

My husband and I are travellers; we’ve got wings on our feet and has this immeasurable patience to suffer through airport line ups. We’re just weird like that. For me, I don’t mind all the waits – because it’s during those times that I could crank up some reading mileage. 

Birthmarks on Our Butts. 

In our culture, we have this superstition that if you’re blighted with bad luck, then you must have birthmarks on your butts. 

We have the worst luck in the world when it comes to travelling. We’ve never had a single one we’re we didn’t have to deal with lost luggages, delayed and or cancelled flights. And at one point, we had to turn back because the landing gear on the plane malfunctioned. It gets kind of annoying when we average about 3 – 4 trips a year. For once, I just want to not have to worry about whether my luggage will end up in Los Angeles instead of Las Vegas or in this case, stuck in Toronto.
Murphy’s Law
We were just in San Diego, California this weekend, and let me tell you: WORST.TRIP.EVER. 
Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. 
  • The ticket agent from United issued us luggage tags that belong to another traveller. US Customs, of course, held us because when they ask you if you have luggages and you said yes, but they couldn’t find you in the system? Logically, something is wrong. We missed our flight because of this snafu. They booked us on another flight the following day on another airline (Air Canada) – their affiliate. They lost our luggage. We are now at home and still no sign of the errant luggage.
  • California was supposed to be a sunny place – not when we were there. It was cold and rainy. But I didn’t mind. It was better than snow. But sitting in the stands, looking like a couple of drowned rats was not cool. Especially if your team was gettin’ a lickin’. 
  • We were there to watch a football game. Our team played horrible. We fought back in the end, but we still lost. 
 45  38

Yeah. I know how you feel, buddy.
See those yellow things floating among the spectators? CHEESEHEADS. Literally. 

What’s worst? The entire Qualcomm Stadium was in a sea of Green Bay Packers jersey. Seriously. Also, have I mentioned how rainy it was? and cold? Well, I was soaked and frozen. But hey, it’s all about the experience. 
Silver Lining

But all was not lost. I managed to snag a trip to Barnes & Noble. Want to see my loot?
Wherever You Go by Heather Davis
Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers
Roadside Assistance by Amy Clipston
I’m always on the lookout for JR WARD’s BDB series in hardbacks. So I was so happy to find this. I’m a long ways away from completing the entire series but it’s almost like a scavenger hunt for me. I do this with Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series too but so far, I’ve resorted to paying an exorbitant amount to whoever would sell it to me. 


This book was a bargain at $5! I couldn’t pass up. I absolutely loved this book so I just had to get a second copy. Lol. I’m hopeless, I know.

I do love travelling – almost as much as reading. But our luck needs to change – have to change. We’ll see how it goes in December.

Next up – HAWAII! 


IMM #13

In My Mailbox is a weekly event over at The Story Siren, which showcases the books we’ve purchased, borrowed and received in the mail this week. This is the thirteenth episode of HOARDERS, Books Edition.
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FOR REVIEW

Thanks to Entangled Publishing for sending me this book. I can’t wait to dive in!
KINDLE COPIES

The Twilight of Lake Woebegotten by Harrison Geillor
The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa
Touch by Jus Accardo
Betwen the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore
Dead of Night by Jonathan Maberry
Amplified by Tara Kelly
Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber
Scored by Lauren Mclaughlin
Dragonfly by Julia Golding
The Glass Swallow by Julia Golding
Flying Blind by Deborah Cooke
Muse by Mercy Lim
Dark Eden by Patrick Carman
Siren’s Storm by Lisa Papademetriou
Last Breath by Rachel Caine
What’s in your mailbox?
Don’t forget to check out the blog’s current contest. The loot is your choice of 4 new titles from November! ENTER NOW!