Book Finds: Shadow and Bone

BOOK FINDS is a regular feature that spotlights upcoming book releases that I am looking forward to read.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
RELEASE DATE. June 5, 2012

SYNOPSIS. Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near-impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one unlikely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life--a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

What are you waiting for? Share your thoughts below.

Book Hoards (4)

Book Hoards is inspired by the In My Mailbox of The Story Siren. This feature showcases the books I’ve received, bought or borrowed.

TOUCH OF POWER by Maria V. Snyder
FARSIGHTED by Emlyn Chand

Many thanks to Emlyn Chand, Kasonndra Leigh, Maria V. Snyder, and Thomas Winship, Goddess Fish PromotionsBewitching Book Tours, and Mira Books UK.

Book Review: Starters by Lissa Price

SERIES. Starters, Book One
RELEASE DATE. March 13, 2012
PUBLISHER. Delacorte Books for Young Readers
PAGES. 368
AGE GROUP. Young Adult
GENRE. Dystopia, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller
Add to Goodreads

SYNOPSIS. Her world is changed forever.

Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. Callie’s only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man.

He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for the money that will keep her, Tyler, and Michael alive, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie’s head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, and going out with a senator’s grandson. It feels almost like a fairy tale, until Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations’ plans are more evil than Callie could ever have imagined . . . .

THOUGHTS. It's hard how to begin this review. I’m not even sure if this review can justify this amazing story of Starters because it is a story you really don’t read every day. It is a story like no other. It's simply undefinable.

The world of Starters was almost perfectly written. It was very well thought out. Price was creative enough to ever think a future more challenging, more engaging, more bleak and definitely more spine-chilling than what I’d imagined it would be. I’ve read countless books that had the worst future ever thought. I thought dying in an arena full of murderers was worst. I thought being imprisoned in the darkest cell alone was worst. Then Lissa Price walked in and she just proved me wrong.

Callie’s character is one of the best that happened to this story. I totally loved her. I reckoned her for being a brave and strong heroine who never gives up just to protect her loved ones. She is a character that will stay in your mind long after you read this book. I had to admit that I did cry seeing the life Callie had together with her brother. She had no parents to rely on but thanks to Michael’s presence and care, who will soon be one of the guys that will contend for her love. Though, Michael’s character wasn’t given much attention because most of the romantic scenes were with Blake. And Blake is another character that would definitely make the girls go crazy.

I just have one issue on characters’ physical feature. They weren’t that defined. I was thinking that maybe Price was so caught up with the whole story that she hadn’t quite mapped it out. Still, I didn’t mind it for after all, Starters gave me an adventure worth reading. 

Eventually, I couldn’t believe that until now the scenes are still freshly embedded into my system. Starters is definitely a riveting page-turner that had me squealing for Callie, crying for Callie, and telling her to run as fast as she could. This story is full of different unpredictable twists and tensions that you couldn’t imagine in real life. It is an overwhelming, phenomenal book with unique blend of dystopian and science fiction and perfect amounts of mystery, suspense, mixed identities, and deceit that made the story more dramatic, more sinister, and more brilliant. This is the book that has it all. If only I could give Lissa Price a standing ovation, I’ll definitely do. Her debut novel just set the bar higher. I demand for the second novel now especially after I read the last three pages that left me hanging and wanting for more.

For fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent, get Starters and get started now! It’s totally a jaw-dropping ride! I do promise you that this book will really make your heart pump up more blood than ever. You will never ever be disappointed by Starters! You don’t get to meet a book like this!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Lissa Price has studied photography and writing, but the world has turned out to be her greatest teacher.

She has walked with elephants of Botswana, swum with penguins in the Galapagos, and stood in a field at sunset amid a thousand nomads in Gujarat, India. She has been surrounded by hundreds of snorting Cape buffalo in South Africa and held an almost silent chorus with a hundred wild porpoises off the coast of Oahu. She has danced in mud huts at weddings in India and had tea with the most famous living socialite in Kyoto.

When she sat down to write, she found that the most surprising journeys were still inside her mind. She lives in the foothills of Southern California with her husband and the occasional deer.

Book Finds: Insurgent

BOOK FINDS is a regular feature that spotlights upcoming book releases that I am looking forward to read.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
RELEASE DATE. May 1, 2012
PUBLISHER. Katherine Tegen Books

SYNOPSIS. One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth’s much-anticipated second book of the dystopian Divergent series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.

WHY I'M WAITING FOR INSURGENT? Insurgent kept me paranoid the whole time when the title and the cover was revealed. I have decided that I’ll feature Insurgent in here on April but I couldn’t resist the temptation so I’ve featured it today instead. I’m badly waiting for this to come out and get my eyes glued again on the story of Tris and Four. To those reading this and haven’t yet read the first book, Divergent, go and make your way to your nearest bookstore or library now!

By the way, check out Entertainment Weekly to read an exclusive excerpt of Insurgent!

What are you waiting for? Share your thoughts below.

Book Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Matched by Ally Condie
SERIES. Matched
RELEASE DATE. November 30, 2010
PUBLISHER. Dutton Juvenile
PAGES. 366
FORMAT. Hardcover
AGE GROUP. Young Adult
GENRE/S. Dystopian, Romance, Science Fiction
FIND IT. Amazon | Goodreads

SYNOPSIS. Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

THOUGHTS. I was never hesitant on reading Matched. The cover fascinated me so much and the hype had me convinced; plus that it’s dystopian, which is becoming a favorite genre of mine after binge-reading The Hunger Games series. In the beginning, Matched didn't live up to my expectations but as I kept flipping the pages, I realized this book had something good going on in it--and readers just need to dig deeper into it.

As much as I want to fully like Matched, there was still something missing. I think the problem of this book was the world building because it was quite bland and boring. I don't have the exact word for it but it was not that epic as one might expect from a dystopian story: no thrilling chase, no action-packed scenes, no dystopian feel. Yet, in some way, Condie had convinced me to dislike the appalling, idealistic Society and its Officials. Can you imagine a world where you are controlled from what you should do in life to what you eat, from who to love to when you die? I couldn't imagine how I would be if it happened today.

Cassia’s world might not have been my favorite but the romance was what drawn me to read it more. It was the main conflict of the story after all. I was so intrigued about Cassia and Ky’s developing feelings towards each other especially of how their romance was a forbidden act against the Society. It redeemed my interest of this book because Condie perhaps thought of two questions (that I will most likely ask myself if I were to write a dystopian book differently): What if a forbidden romance could be the beginning of an uprising? What if this forbidden romance would save many? Thankfully, Cassia and Ky's romance have saved Matched from it's impending doom.

Naturally, the romance will not work without convincing characters. Cassia’s character is far different from the characters of the same genre I've known. She has more depth in terms of thinking and more emotionally independent which I surprisingly liked a lot. On the other hand, Xander and Ky are two typical male lead characters you read every day: one is your best friend and the other wields some mystery. I have no problem with both of the male characters except that I need to get to know their stories (which, hopefully, I'd expect to read in the succeeding sequels). 

It's hard to forget the impressive writing of Condie. It sure worked well with the story. It's poetic, emotional and not something you read everyday; something Condie should be proud of because not all authors could write like her.

Matched is a unique dystopian book developed around a forbidden romance story and punched with a poetic appeal, in replace of the cliché ones. As a huge fan of dystopian, this may not be the best book I've read but I believe that this story has much more to tell, so I guess I'll stick with this series for awhile to see how it'll all end.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Ally Condie is the author of MATCHED, a number one New York Times bestseller, its sequel, CROSSED, and the third book, REACHED. She is a former high school English teacher who lives with her husband and three sons outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. She loves reading, running, eating, and listening to her husband play guitar.

Book Review: A Kiss In Time by Alex Flinn

RELEASE DATE. April 27, 2010
PAGES. 371
FORMAT. Paperback
AGE GROUP. Young Adult
GENRE/S. Contemporary, Fantasy, Romance
FIND IT. Amazon | Goodreads

SYNOPSIS. Talia fell under a spell . . . . Jack broke the curse.

I was told to beware the accursed spindle, but it was so enchanting, so hypnotic . . . .

I was looking for a little adventure the day I ditched my tour group. But finding a comatose town, with a hot-looking chick asleep in it, was so not what I had in mind.

I awakened in the same place but in another time—to a stranger’s soft kiss.

I couldn’t help kissing her. Sometimes you just have to kiss someone. I didn’t know this would happen.

Now I am in dire trouble because my father, the king, says I have brought ruin upon our country. I have no choice but to run away with this commoner

Now I’m stuck with a bratty princess and a trunk full of her jewels . . . . The good news: My parents will freak

Think you have dating issues? Try locking lips with a snoozing stunner who turns out to be 316 years old. Can a kiss transcend all—even time?

THOUGHTS. Since the hype of Beastly, both the book and the movie, which I haven’t yet read and seen, I was never hesitant on picking up Alex Flinn’s works so I gave A Kiss in Time a go.

It sure was a retelling of Sleeping Beauty and it was absolutely adoring and funny. The story was predictable and had a blithe nature. Flinn was creative enough to combine the past with the present.

I loved that Flinn wrote it in alternating standpoints of Jack and Talia. It made the book more fun and I could see the difference of points between the two especially that they were from different time and place. But the difference between them didn’t stop them from developing feelings for each other. At any rate, they didn’t fall for each other the first time they met unlike the Sleeping Beauty I knew.

Of course, Talia and Jack were the characters I much loved. Talia was smart, beautiful, elegant, spoiled, and indeed, funny. And when she met Jack, she used to be wearing elegant gowns and now she had to wear clothes that showed girls’ stomachs. She got to use a phone, ride an airplane, and now had the chance to get to America, which she believed was a faraway land. Jack, on the other hand, was the prince Talia didn’t dream of. He was handsome, cute, but a bit snooty and rebellious. Their romance was really easy to predict yet so relatable--except for the fantasy part of course. At least, they lived a happily ever after.

Admittedly, I love fairy tales since I was a child. Hence, A Kiss in Time was easy to love and easy to read. I enjoyed it so much because it is more than your typical Sleeping Beauty. It was diligently written adding numerous adventures and impish laughs. Flinn played well with the story like it’s her own story. You’ll never be disappointed by this book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Alex Flinn loves fairy tales and is also the author of a modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast titled BEASTLY, now a major motion picture starring Vanessa Hudgens. BEASTLY was named a VOYA Editor’s Choice for 2007, A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age of 2008, and a 2008 ALA Quick Pick for reluctant Young Adult Readers. her other books include BREATHING UNDERWATER, an ALA Top 10 Best Book for Young Adults, BREAKING POINT, NOTHING TO LOSE, FADE TO BLACK, and DIVA. She lives in Miami with her husband, two kids, a cat, and a dog.

Book Finds: Survive

BOOK FINDS is a regular feature that spotlights upcoming book releases that I am looking forward to read.

TITLE. Survive
AUTHOR. Alex Morel
RELEASE DATE. August 2, 2012
PUBLISHER. Razorbill
Add to Goodreads

SYNOPSIS. Hatchet meets Lost in this modern-day adventure tale of one girl's reawakening.

Jane is on a plane on her way home to Montclair, New Jersey, from a mental hospital. She is about to kill herself. Just before she can swallow a lethal dose of pills, the plane hits turbulence and everything goes black. Jane wakes up amidst piles of wreckage and charred bodies on a snowy mountaintop. There is only one other survivor: a boy named Paul, who inspires Jane to want to fight for her life for the first time.

Jane and Paul scale icy slopes and huddle together for warmth at night, forging an intense emotional bond. But the wilderness is a vast and lethal force, and only one of them will survive.

WHY WAIT? The moment I discovered this from Goodreads, I never left my eyes on it. The cover was just mesmerizing plus the title of the book was perfect for an action-packed book. And you don’t get to see a girl and a boy trap and alone in an island everyday. The unexpected romance will sure be a hit for the readers.

Was the book interesting? What are you waiting for? Share your thoughts below.

Book Hoards (3)

Book Hoards is inspired by the In My Mailbox of The Story Siren. This feature showcases the books I’ve received, bought or borrowed.


OPPRESSION by Jessica Therrien


HOPE'S DAUGHTER by Melanie Cusick-Jones

Many thanks to Amy Lignor and Nicole of Tribute Books; Jessica Therrien, Melanie Cusick-Jones, and Soumi of Pages From My Thoughts.

How about you guys? What books have you received, bought, or borrowed? Leave your comments below.

Book Review: Remembrance by Michelle Madow

SERIES. Transcend Time, Book One
RELEASE DATE. August 5, 2011
PUBLISHER. Dreamscape Publishing
PAGES. 314
FORMAT. E-book
AGE GROUP. Young Adult
GENRE/S. Contemporary, Fantasy, Romance
Add to Goodreads

SYNOPSIS. Lizzie Davenport has been reincarnated from Regency Era, England… but she doesn’t know it yet. 
Then Drew Carmichael transfers into Lizzie’s high school at the beginning of the year, and she feels a connection to him, almost like she knows him. She can’t stop thinking about him, but whenever she tries talking with him about the mysteries behind her feelings, he makes it clear that he wants nothing to do with her. Reaching him is even more difficult because she has a boyfriend, Jeremy, who has started to become full of himself after being elected co-captain of the varsity soccer team, and her flirtatious best friend Chelsea starts dating Drew soon after his arrival. So why can’t she get him out of her mind? 
Even though Lizzie knows she should let go of her fascination with Drew, fighting fate isn’t going to be easy.

THOUGHTS. This book caught me by surprise! Not only that it’s inspiration was from Taylor Swift’s Love Story music video but it was indeed enchanting; though the beginning had a slow start, leastwise, it didn’t fail me. Up until now, the scenes were still fresh in my mind. I was really engrossed and just wanted to finish it!

Remembrance was quick and compelling love story. Madow wrote words that were simple yet full of real emotions thus bringing out an understandable story of love, passion, and magic. I loved the idea of incorporating Pride and Prejudice, and adding some historical facts too. It truly blended with the theme of reincarnation. Madow did make a great effort of researching about reincarnation and past lives. The blend of the parallel universe of past and present were perfectly paced.

I loved the characters in the story. I truly felt Lizzie’s emotions and not to the extent of overmuch. Her voice was natural and pleasing without flowery speech. Her flashbacks were vividly written free from ruining the past and present. Drew was almost a perfect male lead, handsome, charming, smart, and rich. He tended to be arrogant to protect Lizzie from the worst thing of the past that gave way to their returning to another life. The connection between Lizzie and Drew were so magical and so real. Their love for each other were surreal and beautiful. I believe that you can’t just ignore your feelings towards the one you truly love because it is much harder and painful in the end.

The supporting characters as well were great components to the story. They were almost life-like and flawed. Madow did balance the characters both as best friends and enemies. She made Chelsea and Jeremy illusions of the past, perhaps they have their own past lives and I can’t wait to find out. I can’t wait for more of the Transcend Time Saga.

Remembrance is a one of a kind fairy tale with a fuse of the contradicting destiny. It will truly leave you believing in true love and second chances. If you believe in fairy tales, Remembrance is for you. If you believe in reincarnation, Remembrance is for you. If you believe that love could transcend time, Remembrance is definitely for you. A highly recommended debut love story.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR. In the fall of 2009, Michelle saw Taylor Swift’s Love Story music video for the first time. She thought up a story to go along with the video, and decided to write the beginning of this story as a homework assignment for class. That story eventually became her first novel, REMEMBRANCE.
Michelle lives in Florida, and is hard at work writing more novels for young adults.

Book Finds: The Hunt

BOOK FINDS is a regular feature that spotlights upcoming book releases that I am looking forward to read.

SERIES. The Hunt
RELEASE DATE. May 8, 2012
PUBLISHER. St. Martin’s Press

SYNOPSIS. In a world where humans have been eaten to near extinction, seventeen-year-old Gene has only managed to survive by painstakingly concealing his true species. If the bloodthirsty creatures surrounding him knew what he really was—a human—he would be devoured swiftly and terribly. When Gene is chosen to participate in the government-sponsored hunt for the last remaining humans, it thrusts him into the fight of his life—and into the path of a human girl who makes him feel things he never thought possible. Now, he must learn the art of the hunt and elude his fellow hunters whose suspicions about his true human nature are growing. But most importantly, Gene and the girl he loves must find a way to forge a life together in a brutal world that’s bent on their destruction.

With his propulsive plot and highly developed characters, readers will find it impossible to resist the vivid world Andrew Fukuda has created in this stunning standout debut. Readers craving a book that grips and mesmerizes them like The Hunger Games will love The Hunt.

WHY WAIT? Since the phenomenal Harry Potter books, most of the books today are written from female perspectives so I’m looking forward to this book because it’s taken from a male perspective. And the blurb by Andrea Cremer author of the Nightshade trilogy also made me want to like it more, "A book that grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go. The Hunt is both terrifying and sublime, with every page evoking that fragile, yet unyielding thing we call humanity."

What are you looking forward to read? Share your thoughts below.

Book Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

SERIES. Hex Hall, Book One
RELEASE DATE. March 2, 2010
PUBLISHER. Hyperion Books for Children
PAGES. 323
FORMAT. Paperback
AGE GROUP. Young Adult
GENRE/S. Mystery, Paranormal, Romance, Suspense
 Add to Goodreads

SYNOPSIS. Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters. 

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect. 

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

THOUGHTS. What a fun book to read! Every turn of page, I couldn’t stop myself from laughing! I totally loved this book. I devoured it in less than two days.

Hex Hall was a Harry Potter in the making. It did remind me of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry but it wasn’t your typical magical school. This was a reform school for wayward supernatural beings called the Prodigiums. The school consisted not only of warlocks and witches but also of vampires, werewolves, faeries, and shapeshifters. One of them was the adoring witch Sophie who had so much wit and goodness in her. She’s a lovable heroine with a some strong attitude. She was one of the characters that made the book an exciting, thrilling ride.

At first, it was hilarious until I reached the middle that I noticed a transition of comical to a suspense atmosphere. I saluted Hawkins for that because the transition was almost perfect. It made my heart jumped. Then the romance was unexpected. Well, it was quite cute at first then came this billowing hotness between Sophie and Archer. Little did I know that Archer would be one of Sophie’s enemies. It was a real shock and also when Sophie discovered about herself being a half-demon.

Hex Hall surprised me so much that Rachel Hawkins rocked my world and Sophie tamed a bad dog in me. I believe that this series has so much more to show. I can’t wait to read the next books.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Rachel Hawkins is also the author of DEMONGLASS, book two in the HEX HALL series, and is currently at work on SPELLBOUND, the third book in the series. She lives with her family in Alabama, where she was a high school English teacher before becoming a full-time writer. To the best of her knowledge, Rachel is not a witch, though some of her former students may disagree.


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