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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My giveaway for the YA Giveaway Hop!

For this hop, I'm giving away an arc copy of What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang!  
I should not exist. But I do.

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

Interested?  Just fill out the Rafflecopter below!  Good luck!
Please enter by Feb 4th, midnight (EST)
(Sorry, open to US mailing addresses only!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Crewel by Gennifer Albin

Release Date: October 16th, 2012
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 368
Source: BEA

Enter a tangled world of secrets and intrigue where a girl is in charge of other’s destinies, but not her own.

Sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has always been special. When her parents discover her gift—the ability to weave the very fabric of reality—they train her to hide it. For good reason, they don’t want her to become a Spinster — one of the elite, beautiful, and deadly women who determine what people eat, where they live, how many children they have, and even when they die.

Thrust into the opulent Western Coventry, Adelice will be tried, tested and tempted as she navigates the deadly politics at play behind its walls.  Now caught in a web of lies and forbidden romance, she must unravel the sinister truth behind her own unspeakable power.  Her world is hanging by a thread, and Adelice, alone, can decide to save it — or destroy it.

Crewel was very unique.  I haven't read anything quite like that in a while!  I was hooked in pretty quickly, by the second half, I didn't want to put it down at all!  Adelice has the ability to weave on the looms that make up time, surroundings, people--basically the ability to weave life.   Despite her parents' best attempts to help her hide her abilities, her talent is noticed and she is forced to join the Spinsters that are part of the Guild that rules and controls all life.  While it might seem like a posh, plush life to live from the outside, Adelice learns otherwise pretty quickly; there are politics and power-hungry people that aren't worried about trampling others to get what they want--after all, they have the ability to change and destroy lives.

It was a very intriguing read that I quite enjoyed.  It feels hard to describe any of it without giving too much away, but I will say it is a gripping, unique read that will keep you entertained!  However, while it was an enjoyable read for me, it wasn't flawless.  I found myself re-reading several parts to try to understand how the looms and their worlds worked.  It's a bit confusing at times, and I think some of it could have been explained a bit better, but it's certainly an interesting idea!  I don't fully understand the intentions of a certain character (sorry about the vagueness, but I really don't want to give anything away!) and while most of the characters are developed quite well and the world-building is terrific, I found a few characters a bit lacking, which made it harder to understand what was going through their minds.  

I am not a big fan of love triangles and there's a bit of one in Crewel.  I don't think it was that well developed and the two boys involved could have used a bit more of character development; despite their importance, I did not find them to have much depth.  It would have been nice to know more about their pasts and to see more of their personality.  That said, Adelice's involvement with boys was a bit shaky.  Granted, she's been mostly segregated from boys her whole life, but some of her decisions are still confusing to me.

Lastly, the ending.  It was interesting and not entirely what I was expecting, but it was also a bit messy.  Character motives, the structure and world of as a bit jumbled and confusing at the end, but it does leave us at an interesting cliffhanger.  With this being a series, I'm hoping that the second book will pick up smoothly and be able to untangle the ending to Crewel!

Overall: 4.25 out of 5
Plot: 4 stars
Characters: 3.75 stars
Writing: 4.25 stars
Cover: 4 stars

Friday, January 11, 2013

Origin by Jessica Khoury

Release Date: September 4th 2012
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 394
Source: Copy provided by publisher for review

Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home--and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life.

Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia's origin--a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.

Origin is a beautifully told, shocking new way to look at an age-old desire: to live forever, no matter the cost.

While the premise of this story is certainly interesting and the writing was quite good, I found that the story dragged in quite a few places.  Although I understand that Pia felt cooped up in Little Cam's facilities, I felt that the story had some uneven pacing; there were quite a few scenes in Little Cam that did not add very much the plot and slowed the overall pacing of the novel down.

The writing was pretty strong in Origin; Jessica Khoury does a great job creating vivid environments--from the sterile and secretive labs of Little Cam to the jungle, filled with its promises of danger and adventures--that readers feel like they could just step into.  Of course, given how many hidden dark secrets the staff of Little Cam may have and the unknown wealth of dangers the jungle holds, readers may not want to step in!  This only goes to show what a great job Jessica Khoury did in setting the scene for readers!

That said, while the writing was good, I didn't think all of the characters were stellar.  Eio's personality did not seem particularly special, and while it seems all good and well that he's devoted to Pia, it all happened a little too quickly for me.  Sure, plenty of novels have the love-at-first-sight thing going, but most of those characters had at least had interactions with other people of their gender before their love-at-first-sight moment.  Pia being, quite frankly, a lab experiment that was locked away in the jungle for so long, had no experience with other people of her own age.  So having her fall so deeply in love with Eio so quickly made me wonder if she fell for him just because he's the only boy her age she's ever met, especially since she already had her heart set on helping make her own "Mr. Perfect Immortal" as her companion.  

Another issue I had with Origin was the build up.  I have to admit that when the big secret was revealed, I was disappointed.  I had expected something spectacular and mind-blowing since the author had held off on the big reveal until late in the novel!  It wasn't as well fleshed-out as I had hoped it would be, and given the tone of the book, I had expected something more science-based.  But in the end, it was more magic than it was science.  After the reveal, it all ended pretty quickly as well (again, the uneven pacing of the book).  That said, I will at least give credit to the author for not dragging the story or the big reveal out into several more novels!

Lastly, I found a point the novel brought up quite interesting--how far would you go for the advancement for science?  The answer that some people might give could just chill you to the bone!  It certainly disturbed me quite a bit how focused some of the scientists at Little Cam were, and how little they thought about how their methods could be harming others.  While having passion for your field is a valuable trait that could undoubtedly help you work harder, this novel also brings up the questions concerning the morals of such research and how far people should go.  That said, how scientists are portrayed in this novel should not be how you see all scientist!  Not all scientists are souless people who care nothing for morals, ethics and others, unlike most of the scientists in Little Cam! 

Overall: 3.75 out of 5
Plot: 3.75 stars
Characters: 3.5 stars
Writing: 4.5 stars
Cover: 4 stars 


Series I Like

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis Divergent by Veronica Roth Firelight by Sophie Jordon Halo by Alexandra Adornetto Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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I receive review copies of books from publicists, authors and publishers for an honest review. I do not receive monetary or other compensations for posting reviews.