Thursday, January 31, 2013

Review: Fever by Lauren DeStefano

Fever (The Chemical Garden, #2)Author: Lauren DeStefano
Genre: Dystopian
Pages: 341
Published: 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Rating: 4/5 Stars
"Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago - surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.
The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous - and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the any means necessary.
In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price - now that she has more to lose than ever."~Goodreads

Warning: May Contain Spoilers for Book 1! 

With Sever, the third and final book in the Chemical Garden Trilogy, set to release in February,  I figured I should read Fever so I was actually caught up for once.  As you may remember, Wither was not my favorite dystopian of all time.  In fact, I had some major issues with it, but it was still a unique and interesting book and I definitely wanted to know what happened to Rhine and Gabriel after their harrowing escape from the mansion.  Fever promised to be a completely different type of story.  Rhine was away from the opulence and seductive danger of the mansion and now we were going to get to see more of the gritty, treacherous, real world as she hunted for her twin, Rowan.  I had my concerns because I had heard from a lot of readers that this book suffered greatly from "middle book syndrome", just a go between, betwixt two awesome plots.  Luckily I very much disagree with this.  I found Fever to be just as interesting and even more emotional and exciting than the first book.  I felt that I really got to know Rhine and Gabriel in this book, as well as the world that they inhabit.

  • Dystopian Roadtrip!:  Rhine and Gabriel travel up the East Coast in a very dystopian "where are we going to sleep tonight and who is going to watch out for kidnappers" kind of way.  The come across everything from a brothel circus, to a creepy cafe owner and little old lady who happens to be a psychic.  They also gain and adorable and awesome companion who really tugs at the heartstrings, but I won't get into that here.  This setup really keeps the plot moving and kept me involved, I wanted to see where they would end up next and whom they would run into.
  • Rhine and Gabriel finally get real:  One of the things that really bugged me in the last book was that Rhine ran away with Gabriel even when she barely knew him and couldn't possibly be in love with him.  I was afraid that this book would continue that trend but I was so wrong.  Gabriel acted like a real human being.  He spent most of the book, seemingly, questioning whether he should have come at all.  The mansion was a beautiful prison, but the real world is hellish.  He obviously cared about Rhine but they weren't about to jump into bed with each other.  In this book they lean on one another for support while their relationship develops and goes through it's ups and downs.  I felt like I liked them more and could relate better.
  • Beautifully Grotesque:  this book was much grittier than the last and that added to the realism and also made for a much more beautiful narrative about freedom and sacrifice and love.


  • Where is Cecily:  When I first saw the cover I assumed there would be a bit of Cecily in this book.  I really wanted to know what was happening with her and the baby back at the mansion, but unfortunately she plays a minuscule role in this book.  
  • The Ending:  Okay, I'm not going to go into any kind of detail because I don't want to spoil anything, but I was just so mad with how this book ended.  First of all, I just felt like it was a bit forced and could have been written in a way that wasn't such a let-down.  Second, CLIFFHANGER, seriously?  Ugh!  I know they make people want to read the next book but they're frustrating as hell.  *pout*
I'm so happy that I didn't find this book to be a "middle book" bore.  This series keeps getting better and I can't wait to read Sever when it comes out on Feb. 12.  Especially after that cliffhanger, I guess it worked then.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Review: On The Day I Died by Candace Fleming

On the Day I Died: Stories from the GraveAuthor: Candace Fleming
Genre: paranormal, anthology, short stories
Pages: 208
Published: 2012
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade
Rating: 3/5 Stars

"Set in White Cemetery, an actual graveyard outside Chicago, each story takes place during a different time period from the 1860's to the present, and ends with the narrator's death. Some teens die heroically, others ironically, but all due to supernatural causes. Readers will meet walking corpses and witness demonic posession, all against the backdrop of Chicago's rich history—the Great Depression, the World's Fair, Al Capone and his fellow gangsters." ~Goodreads

I was so excited to read this book that I didn't even wait for it to go on sale.  I bought it at full price right after Christmas (which is something I normally don't do).  After all, I love a good ghost story more than almost anything.  So I cracked into it almost as soon as it arrived on my doorstep.  Unfortunately I think I built it up a little too much before hand.  It wasn't a total disappointment but it didn't really live up to expectations.

Let's start on a positive not though, shall we?  There were things that I loved about this book.  The premise, for one, was great.  A teenage boy gets stranded in a graveyard surrounded by teen ghosts after trying to return the shoes of a phantom hitchhiker.  He has to listen to their stories before he can leave.  Super creepy right?  I know.  The plot is set up with Mike's story as the backdrop with each short story tying the book together.  This was a really great set-up and It made for a fast-paced, interesting read.  I also really appreciated that Fleming gave each ghost it's own unique voice which tied in with their social background and time period.  This really helped draw me into the stories.  

Unfortunately this is where the positives stopped for me.  There were several problems with this book.  First of all, many of the stories are retellings of well-known short stories.  And while retellings can be fun and all, ask yourselves, do we really need another incarnation of The Monkey's Paw?  I think not.  Not only that, but they weren't even switched around to be their own versions of the classic stories for the most part.  The next issue I had was in the silliness of some stories.  I wanted a book about ghosts not killer sea monkeys from outer space.  It was a cute idea, but it just wasn't what I was looking for or expecting.  Finally, I would have liked it if the stories would have tied together instead of just moving the plot along.  I think that would have really improved the reading experience for me.

Overall, I did have a good time reading this little book and I would recommend it if you're looking for something slightly creepy but not terrifying.  It's a good book for those of you who don't like the really scary stuff but want to be a little spooked.

Make sure you check out my video for a more in-depth review.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dust Off Those Classics: We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson

We Have Always Lived in the CastleAuthor: Shirley Jackson
Genre: classic, thriller, mystery
Pages: 146
Published: 1962
Publisher: Penguin
Rating: 4/5 Stars

"Taking readers deep into a labyrinth of dark neurosis, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a deliciously unsettling novel about a perverse, isolated, and possibly murderous family and the struggle that ensues when a cousin arrives at their estate."~Goodreads

One of my book resolutions this year was to read and review more classics.  I thought I would start off the year with a book that's had a big resurgence lately.  Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a twisted, quirky little book that raises more questions than it answers.  What is normal? Who is the villain? How do we, as a society, create the very monsters we fear?

The story is told from the perspective of 18 year old Mary Katherine Blackwood (Merricat), a mentally unstable but interesting girl who lives with her older sister and their aging uncle in a huge house outside of a small village.  Merricat's sister, Constance, was accused of poisoning the rest of the family several years before but acquitted.  Still, the town reviles the Blackwoods and abuses them to the point that Constance refuses to leave home.  This leaves Merricat in charge of anything that involves going out in public and fuels her deep-seeded hatred of the villagers.  Even with all of the turmoil the Blackwoods love each other and are happy with their lives and their home until their cousin Charles shows up and starts to take over.

This book is really special because it takes the classic idea of a village plagued by a villainous family and reverses the roles.  With this being said, the Blackwoods are not at all canonized in the book.  Rather, they are shown for what they are: an unstable, dysfunctional and most-likely homicidal group of social outcasts.  Still, the "normal" townspeople are far more dangerous and cruel.

This book was full of quirk and dark humor, which I loved.  I really appreciated the care the author took with the main characters.  They felt like very realistic people and that made the events of the book even crazier.  In a way this book was charming.  While it was very strange, it had comfortable and familiar feel, much (I would imagine) like the Blackwood's home.  I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a fun way to start getting into more classics.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (7) Wishlist Wednesday (7)

Wishlist Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Pen to Paper that lets bloggers gush about books that have been sitting on their WLs for awhile.

My pick this week is:

Timeless (Timeless, #1)

This book seems to be floating around everywhere lately since the sequel is coming out soon.  The premise seems really cool and it's gotten a lot of great buzz.  Plus,  let's be honest that cover

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine where bloggers highlight upcoming releases we are drooling over.

My pick this week is:

Sever (The Chemical Garden, #3)

I just finished Fever and it ended on such a cliffhanger.  I need to know what happens!  I'm liking this trilogy more and more as it goes on so I'm hoping that Sever is the best one yet.  This one comes out on February 12th.

2013 Challenges!

So, I know this post is uber late but I finally decided to put up my 2013 Reading Goals/Challenges!  Let me know what challenges you're participating in this year as well!

2013 Reading Challenge
Okay, so first and foremost we have the Goodreads reading challenge.  I'm going to do the same as last year and shoot for 50 books.  I made it just under the wire in 2012 so hopefully I'll do a bit better this year.

2013 Standalone Reading Challenge

I seriously don't read enough Stand-alones anymore so this challenge is perfect.  The goal for this challenge is 15!

I am so behind on sequels!  I'm hoping this challenge will keep me on track this year.  I'm shooting for 15 in this challenge as well.

This is always a fun one, I didn't participate last year so I'm extra excited for this year's challenge.  My goal for the DAC is 12 books.

This one is a little different because the goal is to read one book in each paranormal category.  It's a really cool idea and I'm excited to get going.

Review: What We Saw At Night by Jacquelyn Mitchard

What We Saw At NightAuthor: Jacquelyn Mitchard
Genre:  Contemporary, Thriller
Pages: 272
Published: January 8, 2013
Publisher: Soho Teen
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Source:  I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
"Allie Kim suffers from Xeroderma Pigmentosum: a fatal allergy to sunlight that confines her and her two best friends, Rob and Juliet, to the night. When freewheeling Juliet takes up Parkour—the stunt-sport of scaling and leaping off tall buildings—Allie and Rob have no choice but to join her, if only to protect her. Though potentially deadly, Parkour after dark makes Allie feel truly alive, and for the first time equal to the “daytimers.” On a random summer night, the trio catches a glimpse of what appears to be murder. Allie alone takes it upon herself to investigate, and the truth comes at an unthinkable price. Navigating the shadowy world of specialized XP care, extreme sports, and forbidden love, Allie ultimately uncovers a secret that upends everything she believes about the people she trusts the most."~Goodreads

Last year Soho Press announced that they would be expanding to include a YA imprint, Soho Teen.  This imprint will be publishing teen thrillers and mysteries.  I'm always excited about new imprints so I decided to check them out.  They very nicely sent me an ARC of their first release, which is now out in stores, What We Saw At Night.  It centers around a group of three teens who all suffer from a deadly allergy to sunlight.  Thus, they must live their lives at night.  They own their small town after sunset but when one of them thinks that she witnesses a murder, the Rear Window action starts.  

  • The concept is really cool:  There were so many aspects of this book that were new and different and I really appreciated that.  In particular I love the concept of kids who were confined to the night.  It adds a whole new world of opportunities and challenges for the author to play with.  Throw in the thrilling sport of Parkour and you've got a great backdrop.
  • The disorder is very nicely explored:  I admired how Mitchard didn't simply use the disease as a crutch.  She really explored the ins and outs of XP and this led to a greater understanding and therefore appreciation of her characters.
  • The suspense is great:  Once the story gets going, the suspense is wonderful.  There were several scenes that will stay with me for a long time.  


  • The action, particularly the Parkour, is hard to visualize:  The Parkour aspect of the book was cool, but since I don't know much about the sport it was hard to visualize many of the action scenes.  The author used a lot of jargon and, while she explained it, it still made it hard to picture what was going on.  
  • It takes a little bit to get going:  There was a bit of a pacing problem especially in the first half of the book.  This is a pretty short book and so the pacing really needed to pick up a bit.  Luckily, the second half was better.
  • I just didn't like Juliet:  I'm sorry but it had to be said.  She's manipulative, hard and I didn't find anything about her very redeeming.  She's pretty much a terrible friend  and so I had a really hard time getting into the parts of the story where the reader was supposed to feel for her.
  • Someone needs to call the police:  Okay, to be fair, the police are called initially and nothing comes of it, but I just felt like if Allie would have gone to her mother or the cops sooner everything would have gone a lot smoother.  Of course, I realize that then we wouldn't have a book, but it's just hard for me to understand a character that believes she is in mortal danger and doesn't run to the cops or someone in an authority position.  

 I'm very happy that I was able to read What We Saw At Night. Overall, it was a very unique, cool little book.  There is a sequel in the works and it will be interesting to see where the author takes these characters.  If you're looking for good thriller with a different setup, you should check this one out.  I think it would have a lot of potential as a film as well.  I look forward to reading more from Mitchard and Soho Teen.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

Review and Giveaway: Splintered by A.G. Howard

SplinteredAuthor: A.G. Howard
Genre:  Fairytale, Fantasy
Pages: 384
Published: January 1, 2013
Publisher: Amulet
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Source:  I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
"Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own."~Goodreads

Sometimes a book comes along that grabs hold of you with every quirky, wonderful thing it has and doesn't let go.  You become completely engrossed in the author's world and when you have to come back down from your cloud  it's completely disorienting.  Splintered is that book.  Like many of you I grew up loving Alice In Wonderland.  I'll admit it gave me some pretty interesting nightmares as a kid but mostly I fell in love with curious Alice, the goofy Mad Hatter and especially that clever albeit creepy Cheshire Cat.  So, with that being said, I'm always apprehensive when a re-telling or continuation comes along.  Luckily Splintered does real justice to our Alice.  Howard pays tribute to Carroll's story while at the same time creating her own version.  The mixture of Carrollian nonsense and whimsy mixed with real emotion and depth of character make this the perfect companion to the original tale.  I think Mr. Carroll would be proud.


  • Wonderfully dark - Howard definitely does not shy away from the unsettling and morbid.  That's part of what makes this such a cool reading experience.  Alyssa, our heroine, is an artist.  Her medium: dead bugs.  This could be considered just gross until you find out that she can speak to bugs.  Just as a little taste here's the first couple of lines of Splintered:
  • "I've been collecting bugs since I was ten; it's the only way I can stop their whispers. Sticking a pin through the gut of an insect shuts it up pretty quick."
              And we're off to a running start.  Wow.  Now, I admit that I have an aversion to bugs so I feel no sympathy for them.  Had this been a sentence about puppies I would have shut the book immediately.  However, bugs are fair game and this line is just so raw and full of angst and ick that it sucked me right in.  This darkness follows throughout the whole story.  One of the best parts about this book is Alyssa having to face her own darkness.  It really enhances the story and makes it a lot of fun to read.
  • I actually like the (sort of) love triangle -  Okay, so I don't know if this can actually be considered a love triangle, but that's probably why I enjoyed it.  Alyssa loves Jeb.  They are obviously meant to be together.  He's sweet, trustworthy, fun and super duper hot, also human.  Then there's Mothra *cough* I mean Morpheus.  Also hot, and snarky, amazing and magical.  But her love for Morpheus seems more platonic.  They have a mutual admiration for one another and an unbreakable bond.  Even if he wants more.  Still, I loved the back and forth between the guys.  It added a lot of humor to the story.
  • MORPHEUS!!! -  Three things you need to know about this guy: he is the ultimate bad boy, he has an adorable British accent, and he has an insurrection hat.  I'm sold.  The only problem was that I couldn't picture him as he was described.  I adore Once Upon a Time and all I could picture when reading this was Jefferson.  But I'm cool with that.
I mean seriously how can I not?  Good grief.

  • Plenty of Wonderland for purists - One of the things I was most worried about was how Wonderland would be portrayed.  Would it be recognizable?  Gladly, Splintered is filled with allusions to the original book.  One of the most fun parts of reading this book was finding all of the little Alice Easter eggs hidden inside its pages.  Although all of the characters have been changed in some way, they are still recognizable and Howard ties the stories together brilliantly.


  • Sometimes Alyssa makes me shake my head - Okay so it's not like Alyssa is stupid by any means but some of her decisions can be filed under "things that make me go 'hmm'".  A great example is when she decides to get a forged passport and fly to England by herself.  Apparently our heroine has never seen Locked Up Abroad.  
  • Too much explanation of things we should be able to figure out on our own - this is probably the only thing that really bothered me about this book.  Although they were relatively few, there were several instances where the author explained too much about the plot, when it would have been more fun to figure it out on my own.  Luckily this didn't happen too often and it didn't really damage the reading experience.
Even with the couple of flaws that I found I have to give this book five stars.  I was completely captivated by Alyssa, Jeb and all of the netherlings.  Howard has managed to create a new version of Wonderland that is just as exciting, enticing and mad as the original.  I know it may only be January but I would be surprised if this one doesn't end up on my best of 2013 list.  It was just that good.  I can't wait to see what else A.G. Howard does with her writing. I'll certainly be first in line to read her next book.

And now, I have some great news for all of you!  Since I have my own finished copy, I will be giving away my ARC copy to one lucky reader.  All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter to be entered.  Please make sure you follow the rules below.  Good luck all!


  • Must be 18 or older (13 or older with parent's permission)
  • Must have a US mailing address
  • I am not responsible for packages that are lost or damaged in shipping.  

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide