f0zKg0J4zFLYz-Yq0aednQVqREE Once Upon a Prologue: July 2012
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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - #26: Top Ten Characters I'd Switch Places With

{ ++ } Hosted by the girls over at The Broke and the Bookish, this meme features a different theme every week, and hey, it's Tuesday - we've got the rest of the week ahead of us.  We all need a little fun, and who doesn't love the challenge of ranking their top 10 anything...especially when it comes to books?!  I know I do, hence why I thought it'd be fun to participate, and spice things up a little!

Top Ten Tuesday: July 31, 2012
Top Ten Characters I’d Like To Switch Places With For 24 Hours

{ 1 } Emerson from Hourglass.  Okay, so yes, Em's world is often full of danger but really, it's no contest that I'd want to switch with her.  She gets to snuggle with Michael, interact with Kaleb, AND she's involved in all sorts of time-travel goodness! 

{ 2 } Anna from Anna and the French Kiss.  Two words, ladies: ST CLAIR.  That is all.

{ 3 } Calla from the Nightshade series.  I admire Calla so much for being such a strong character, and I'd love to slip into her life for a day and see what it's like, being a werewolf and an alpha.

{ 4 } Amelia from The Vespertine.  I definitely wouldn't want to have her visions for long, but I think it would be too cool to experience, just for a day, that little glimpse into the future.  Plus there's the dashing Nathaniel...

{ 5 } Tiger Lily from Tiger Lily.  What I wouldn't give to meet Peter Pan (in the fictional world), and to run through the forest, carefree, to hang out with the Lost Boys, to experience Neverland!  I'm too whimsical for my own good and I've always adored any and all variations of the story of Peter Pan but I ESPECIALLY loved this darker version!

{ 6 } Mac from Hemlock.  I really loved Mac - fell pretty hard for her - and even though I would be terrified, to be living in a time when werewolves are known to be roaming around, I'd also love to experience that world for myself, and to hang out with Kyle and Jason - two definitely soon-worthy boys. 

{ 7 } Claire from the Outlander series.  (First: if you haven't read this series?  DO IT NOW.)  I fell immediately in love with this series - the setting, all the characters, the lore, 18th century Scotland...GAH.  Claire's love story with Jamie Frasier is both heartfelt and incredibly powerful, and I'd LOVE the chance to time travel for a day to Jamie's time, to see what life was like. 

{ 8 } Chloe from the Darkest Powers trilogy.  Chloe's powers are pretty neat if also a bit scary, but I'd love to trade places with her for a day, to know that I got to try out her powerful necromancer skills, and to also know that I was changing the world, trying to make it a better place.  (AGAIN WITH THE READ.  THIS.  TRILOGY!)

{ 9 } Charlotte from A Need So Beautiful/A Want So Wicked.  Charlotte's power is AMAZING.  She's such a fantastic character, and she gets to help people, TRULY make a difference in their lives.  I'd love to experience that.  Plus...there's Harlin!

{ 10 } Katy from Obsidian.  Danger, romance, aliens...and oh yes, DAEMON BLACK.  YES PLEASE. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Character/Author Interview + Giveaway: Defiance by C.J. Redwine

Please welcome debut author C.J. Redwine to the blog today.  C.J. is the VERY talented author of Defiance (August, Harper Teen), the first novel in a new YA fantasy trilogy.  I recently had the chance to read an ARC of Defiance, and I loved every page of it.  It's fast-paced with a fascinating society, believable characters that WILL tug at your heart-strings, and a beautiful romance that I just wanted to sink into.

I'm so excited for y'all to read this book, so today I have a short character interview with Rachel and Logan, C.J's main characters, and a short author interview with this amazingly talented lady.  Then there's a giveaway of my ARC, plus the chance to win some awesome signed Defiance bookmarks! Please check out both interviews, and make sure to add Defiance to your TBR if you haven't already.  I laughed, cried, swooned, raged, despaired, swooned again...and fell IN LOVE with this YA fantasy.  I AM BEREFT that I am finished with it.  Plus, C.J. is so friendly to talk to, and funny, and I will definitely be buying a finished copy of Defiance. 

Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city's brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father's apprentice, Logan--the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same one who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but a fierce belief in her father's survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city's top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor's impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can't be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

C.J. Redwine loves stilettos, lemon bars, and any movie starring Johnny Depp. She lives in Nashville with her husband, four kids, two cats, and one long-suffering dog. To learn more about C.J., visit her website at http://cjredwine.blogspot.com/

Connect with C.J. onlineWebsite | Twitter | Facebook

 Character Interview

{ 1 } What is the best advice you were ever given?

Rachel: My best advice always came from Oliver (my surrogate grandfather) and my dad. Oliver once told me that hope is precious, and I should hang on to it. Sometimes life rips hope away from us, and it's hard to follow his advice, but I know he's right. My dad always told me to keep a loose grip on my weapon and aim for the arteries. I've used his advice even more often than I've used Oliver's.

Logan: Oliver always gave me the best advice, too. When I was young, he told me that to earn the respect of others, I first had to earn respect from myself. That helped drive the choices I made as I grew up. But lately, the piece of advice that I wish I'd heeded was the time he told me never to underestimate Rachel. And never to let her out of my sight. And never to spar with her unless ... well, never to  spar with her. Period.

Rachel: *sounding smug* He didn't want your ego to suffer at the hands of a girl.

Logan: Or he loves you too much to want to see me teach you a thing or two.

Rachel: Bring it, tech head.

Logan: *grins* As soon as this interview is over, you're mine.

{ 2 } If you had to leave home with only three possessions, what would they be, and why?
Rachel: My bow and arrows so I can hunt for food, my Switch so I can defend myself against enemies, and my cloak so I'm protected from the elements.

Logan: I'd bring my sword for protection and hunting, a bag of tech supplies so I can invent anything I need, and my mother's necklace because it's all I have left of her.

{ 3 } What is the one dream or wish you've never told anyone?

Rachel: When I was little, I once wished that my dad and I could leave Baalboden and start our own city-state somewhere else. I also dreamed of never having to wear a dress again.

Logan: That would be a shame.

Rachel: Are you serious? Do you have any idea how hard it would be to defend yourself in battle when you have all that shiny, useles fabric tripping your legs while the stays in the back are laced so tight you can barely breathe without worrying you're going to pop right out of the thing? It's a ridiculously impractical garment.

Logan: I can think of several interesting uses for one.

Rachel: *laughs* Yes, if you put me in a dress, maybe you have a chance of beating me in sparring practice.

Logan: We can test that theory when we're done here.

Rachel: Oh, please. One wrong move and that dress would be history.

Logan: Really? *smiles*

Rachel: *blushes and looks at the floor* Aren't you supposed to share a wish you haven't told anyone?

Logan: I think I'll keep my current wishes to myself.

{ 4 } What is your favorite, and least favorite thing about each other?

Rachel: My favorite thing about Logan is his determination. Once he's decided to do something, nothing stands in his way. If something does try to get in his way, he's prepared for it because he's spent forever thinking through every possible scenario and has a back-up plan or twelve.

Logan: So you love my determination but don't like the way I go after my goals?

Rachel: I don't think you're supposed to critique my answer.

Logan: I don't think you answered my question.

Rachel: *glares and says nothing*

Logan: My favorite thing about Rachel is her courage. And her loyalty to those she loves. And her red hair.

Rachel: You're only supposed to pick one thing! Plus you didn't say your least favorite thing about me.

Logan: And since you're currently carrying a weapon, that's another thought I'll be keeping to myself.

Author Interview

{ 1 } What is your favorite part of the writing process?

Wow. No one's ever asked me that before, and I honestly don't know what to say. I love the first date butterflies when a promising new idea/character waltzs into my head. And of course, I love the honeymoon period after I finish the last sentence and before I reread it and realize how much I need to revise. :) I even love writing the middle and the end. But the beginnings? You can have the beginnings. Ugh.
{ 2 } Is there any one particular memory you associate with writing DEFIANCE?

Well, there was the time Beth Revis tried to kill me with Nutella while I was writing the end. You can find that story on my blog by searching Beth Revis. Or Death. Or any combination thereof. But an even stronger memory is how deep I had to dig emotionally for one of the pivotal scenes in the first third. It's a scene where Rachel breaks inside, and after I wrote it, I couldn't write another word for three days. I had to recover.

{ 3 } In DEFIANCE, there is a very male dominated society.  What made you structure your world that way?

Honestly, everything in the story is character-driven, including the world. The particular city-state that Rachel lives in is ruled by the Commander, and so it is a male dominated society because he is a misogynistic douche. (Can I say douche in an interview? Twice?) Other city-states have very different cultures because the culture is determined by the leadership. Once the Commander became a fully formed character in my mind, I understood what he would and would not tolerate from his citizens, and the rules and culture of Baalboden took shape.
{ 4 } DEFIANCE is told in dual narratives, between Rachel and Logan.  Do you have a preference of which one of them you like to write for?

Rachel is easier for me because I can identify with her faster than I can identify with Logan, but I love the way Logan's mind works (and the fact that he tries so hard to be honorable), so I guess I don't have a preference.
{ 5 } Knowing what you know now about the journey you went on while writing DEFIANCE, is there any one thing you would tell yourself upon starting the book, any one piece of advice you'd give?

Don't read emails from Beth Revis until you finish the book! Also, don't worry so much about the beginning. You're going to have to rewrite it five times no matter what. :)

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Review: Hope's Daughter by Melanie Cusick-Jones

Hope's Daughter by Melanie Cusick-Jones
Pages: 389
Published: December 8, 2011 (BookBaby)
Source: E-book from the author
Rating: Beam-worthy
Add it/Purchase: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Connect with the author: Twitter | Website


Life should be simple for Cassie.  For the small population of Earth survivors who live on the Space Station Hope everything they do is planned and scheduled, down to the cyclical food menus, their roles in the station, even how many children they have.

Despite rigid controls directing her life, Cassie feels more out of synch than ever and worries she won’t find a place for herself within the station community. Perhaps that’s because she’s hearing things inside her head that can’t possibly be real. Or maybe it’s the regular elopements of her peers, heading off to a romantic future in the Married Quarter of the space station, whilst she’s never even been attracted to a boy – no matter how hard her best friend Ami pushes them at her. Then there are the odd questions her work placement partner Balik keeps raising. His questions are just as troubling for her as his distracting smiles and eyes that seem to see inside her.

As Cassie draws closer to Balik she finds that everything else in her life begins to shift. He tells her things that call into question the system they live within. She can't believe he is right, but at the same time she finds it hard to deny the sincerity of his ideas. Could there be a connection between Cassie’s problems and Balik’s questions? The truth will drag them both to a terrifying and deadly conclusion beyond anything they could have imagined.

My Review

I have a thing for sci-fi; at times, it's almost a bit embarrassing just how easily I can (and will) geek out over this or that (including my now obsessive Firefly marathons.)  So when Melanie Cusick-Jones asked me to read and review her sci-fi novel, Hope's Daughter, I, of course, jumped on the chance.  Right away, I was interested in learning more about the culture of the survivors of Earth, who live on a space station, Hope, and seem to take for granted that everything is provided for them.  No one really questions or misses Earth, and the newer generations of course can't even remember living anywhere else.  Cusick-Jones built a really fascinating society, almost Utopian geared, in which everything is controlled, down to what a person eats, and so the protagonist, Cassie and I got along right away, considering she had questions about her way of life.  

However, what started off promising faltered somewhere along the way for me.  I was with Hope's Daughter, right there with Cassie, puzzling through the rigid rules until somewhere, everything went off the rails for me.  I thought I would like Cassie a great deal, because she was inquisitive, but instead, she irritated me to no end.  She made some poor choices - she made some good ones, too! - but I just never did click with her at all, couldn't really seem to bring myself to cheer for her, or get really invested in what was happening to her.  The writing felt very forced and awkward at times for me, and I think that's another fact that played into my disengaging from this book.  Instead of living the story as it happened, I felt like a detached outsider, reading about it.  

Hope's Daughter does have an interesting romance in it, between Cassie and Balik.  I won't go so far as to call them "insta-love" because Cusick-Jones does spend a good amount of time and energy developing their relationship.  And Balik is rather charming and awesome in his own way - he was one of the redeeming things about Hope's Daughter, for me.  I think for me Cassie and Balik felt too convenient, sort of like they happened TO happen.  I didn't sense any burning desire from either of them that propelled the relationship forward, it was just sort of like a lucky coincedance, something that happened far too often in Hope's Daughter.  I guess it's something the reader just has to learn not to question, but I'm not that sort of reader. 

There's a great deal of potential in Hope's Daughter for a sequel or sequels, but there would need to be a lot of changes for me.  My biggest complaint is that a lot of the action and resolutions, and consequences felt very much like recycled plot devices.  There was a great deal of originality in the premise, but not in the follow-through.  I felt like Cusick-Jones used a lot of tried and true go-to methods to explain away this character's motivation or that, and that doesn't satisfy me.  I wanted things to matter, I wanted to FEEL something - rage, happiness, sadness - and instead I didn't.  

I'm not sure I could recommend Hope's Daughter, unless you're okay with reading a novel that, despite a great premise, didn't follow through, for me.  I always encourage people to decide for themselves, though, and there IS always the chance that you'll warm to Hope's Daughter more than I did!  Despite it falling flat for me, it was a cool idea with solid world-building that could have used more personalization in the characters and plot.  

You're sure to fall for:

The Giver by Lois Lowry 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway Hop!

During the dog days of summer, what better way to kick back and relax with a good book?  As a way of saying thank you to both old and new followers, I'm participating in the Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway Hop, hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Colorimety!  The rules are fairly simple, and the only goal is for one lucky winner to add an awesome book to their collection!  For this particular giveaway a follow is NOT mandatory, though there are extra entries for following - and if you do follow, I hope you'll come back to the blog for more awesome content, including reviews, discussion posts, and giveaways!

Now, on to the hop!

Good luck to everyone, and thank you for entering!  If you like my blog, please consider following via GFC or RSS! 

Be sure to visit the other blogs participating!

Review: Once by Anna Carey (Eve #2)

Once by Anna Carey
Pages: 320
Expected publication: July 3, 2012 (Harper Collins)
Source: Borrowed from Anna @ Literary Exploration
Series or Stand-alone: Eve (2)
Rating: Beam-worthy
Further info/purchase: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Find the author online: Twitter | Website

Sixteen years have passed since a deadly virus wiped out most of the Earth’s population. After learning of the terrifying part she and her classmates were fated to play in the rebuilding of New America, eighteen-year-old Eve fled to the wilds and Califia, a haven for women determined to live outside the oppressive rule of the king of New America. 

However, her freedom came at a price: she was forced to leave Caleb, the boy she loves, wounded and alone at the city gates. Eve quickly learns that Califia may not be as safe as it seems and soon finds herself in the City of Sand and the palace of the king. There she uncovers the real reason he was so intent on her capture, and the unbelievable role he intends her to fill. When she is finally reunited with Caleb, they will enact a plan as daring as it is dangerous. 

But will Eve once again risk everything—her freedom, her life—for love? 

 My Review

With the second book in the Eve trilogy, Anna Carey adds several fascinating layers to the mythos and world-building already established; Once picks up a few months after Eve's arrival in Califia - though I felt like I'd barely caught my breath before Eve was leaving Califia and on to the next, harrowing stage of her journey.  And for me, that was the biggest flaw in Once.  The writing is as fantastic as always, and the characters are well-developed and compelling, as is the larger story being told.  But as I progressed further into Once, I never felt like I had a chance to really absorb any of the information being revealed before it was time for Eve to run again, or another revelation.  Once is so fast-paced that it didn't really hit me until the end how much truly HAD happened, and really, in such a short amount of time. The same could be said for the new characters - it all went by in such a blur that I didn't feel like we really got to know any of them, or delve past their surfaces.  There also wasn't nearly enough for me of the familiar characters I love. 

Plot-wise, Anna Carey ramps up the stakes with Once, bringing Eve into the lair of the villainous King of the City of Sand, where she sees how much re-building is being done, and realizes how vastly different these people's lives are from the sheltered one she lived back at school, and from the hand-to-mouth existence the boys in the dug-out eked out while she stayed there.  There is a disgusting opulence in the City of Sand compared to those on the fringes, on the run, and that's not all that Eve discovers.  She also finds out the truly startling reason the King was so intent on drawing her to his city, and what plans he has for her, and has to struggle to come to terms with all of that - which is the last thing the maturing Eve wants to do.  While she still made some questionable decisions in Once, Eve impressed me with the growth she has shown since she fled her school in the first book - but I think she still has a long way to go.  

Mingled in with all the action and danger is a good dose of romance between Eve and Caleb, and even the possibility of one between Eve and one of the young, rising stars in the City of Sand, though it's clear where Eve's affections lie. Once further develops Eve and Caleb's relationship in a way that is tender and genuine, and is possibly the biggest draw to the series for me.  (I won't lie, I've swooned over Caleb a time or five.)  My biggest complaint there is that Once ends up falling back on a few devices from the first book, and it was frustrating for me that I felt like when it came to Eve and Caleb, they were playing out the same roles they had in Eve.  I kept waiting for more, for that moment that would set Once apart from other books, and ultimately, I never found it in the pages of this book - but after the way Once ended, I do have high hopes for the third and final book.  There is a huge cliffhanger which is sort of cruel in a way, when you put it in the context of how long we'll have to wait for that next book.

It's hard for me to review Once, because I didn't hate it.  I liked Once.  But I didn't love it.  I'm still not truly connected emotionally with Eve - instead of my heart pounding in fear for her, I feel detached as I read about her, and because of that, I'm not as "into" the books as I wish I was.  The writing is fresh and great as usual, but there's just that spark missing to really draw me in.   If you, like me, saw a lot of potential in Eve, I would recommend reading Once, as it has definitely set up the final book to be fairly epic, but if you also had trouble connecting with Eve, or if you didn't truly LOVE the first book, I would caution you to go into this one warily, else it might disappoint.  Once fell a bit flat for me - it just didn't pack the emotional punch I was wanting, or sweep me off my feet, though that's not to say it isn't still a good book, and I hope readers will enjoy it.

Further Thoughts

Have you read EVE or ONCE?  If so, what did you think?  What would you like to see in the RISE, the third and final novel in the trilogy? 

Book Trailer - Eve 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday - #28: Taken by Erin Bowman

{ ++ }  This weekly event/feature is graciously hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine. You know that feeling you get when you're browsing upcoming books on Goodreads or Amazon and one strikes your fancy?  Maybe you squee.  Maybe you giggle to yourself.  Maybe you bounce in your seat. We all get excited (I do a combination of all three of the previous choices...) about new books, be it a favorite author you're familiar with, or someone whose work you'll be reading for the first time.  Jill's meme gives us the chance to spotlight what we are anxiously awaiting this week.

I'm Waiting On...

Taken by Erin Bowman
Expected publication: April 16, 2013 (Harper Teen)
Connect with the author: Twitter | Website

There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends...and he’s gone.

They call it the Heist.

Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.

Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?

Why It's Worth Waiting On: The more books I see coming out in 2013, the more excited I am!  Between the synopsis, which sounds so spooky, and this GORGEOUS cover, I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of this book.  It's no secret I'm a HUGE fan of male POV in YA, so I'm already swooning at the prospect of meeting Gray!   

Be sure to leave me a link to YOUR WoW post so I can visit and we can squee together! 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - #25: Top Ten Most Vivid Worlds/Settings In Books

{ ++ } Hosted by the girls over at The Broke and the Bookish, this meme features a different theme every week, and hey, it's Tuesday - we've got the rest of the week ahead of us.  We all need a little fun, and who doesn't love the challenge of ranking their top 10 anything...especially when it comes to books?!  I know I do, hence why I thought it'd be fun to participate, and spice things up a little!

Top Ten Tuesday - July 24, 2012:
Top Ten Most Vivid Worlds/Settings In Books

{ 1 } Panem - The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  Collins did an AMAZING job of establishing this version of America-that-was.  I instantly felt like I was THERE when I was reading this series - there watching the people in some districts struggle to survive, there with Gale, raging against the Capitol. 

{ 2 } Paris - Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.  I know Paris is a real place, but wow, did Perkins ever make me feel like I was exploring the city with Anna!  I already wanted to visit some day and now I know I definitely want to go there, to see what Anna saw!  Perkins makes Paris sound like the most alive, beautiful place on Earth!

{ 3 } The Academy - The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead.  This is a FANTASTIC series of books, and one of the series that led me back to YA novels.  It's set in the US, but inhabited by the Moroi and the dhampirs, the "good" vamps.  I'd never read anything like this, and Richelle Mead absolutely made me FALL IN LOVE with this series! Seriously, if you haven't read it...there's an incredible friendship between two of the main characters, and not one, not two, but THREE swoon-worthy guys!  Plus LOTS of actions and danger.  

{ 4 } Ravka - Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo.  Leigh brought her world to life in a flourishing, vivid, heart-felt way.  Not only did she make me feel that I was RIGHT THERE with Alina, I also completely became immersed in Ravka and the culture.  The Russian-inspired Ravka felt so achingly real! 

{ 5 } Adarlan  - Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.   This setting came alive, as well as did Endovier's mines, where Celaena was forced into manual labor.  I felt like I was there with her, my eyes open wide at the wonder and the court politics of Adarlan, where almost nothing is as it seems in the Glass castle!

{ 6 } Hogwarts - The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.  Though it's techincally IN England, Hogwarts was (and is!) a magical, mythical entity and almost world all to itself.  A haven for wizards and some Muggles alike, this world-within-a-world was home to Harry, and for the time that I read the series, myself, too.  

{ 7 } The Wheel of Time series - Robert Jordan.  There are so many different places that we visit in this series, so many vivid, lush settings, like the land of the Aiel, for example.  I can't even pick a favorite.  Robert Jordan was such a gifted storyteller.  I can't even TELL y'all the number of times I've laughed at Mat or cried at something tragic, or just teared up at a beautifully written scene.  I can't believe the series is almost over.  RIP, RJ. 
{ 8 } Brittany - Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers.  This book is one of my favorites of this year so far because EVERYTHING about it is completely gorgeous - from the setting at court, to Ismae's convent, to the romance -  subtle yet beautiful - to the thriving sense of turmoil throughout the book. 

{ 9 } The Academy - The Covenant Series by Jennifer L Armentrout.  The Academy is here in the US, so no made up lands here, yet it FEELS like its set apart from anything and anyone. It helps that Jennifer populates her stories with such amazing, realistic characters, too! 

{ 1 0 } The Trylle community - Switched by Amanda Hocking.  This is so far the only book I've read in this series, though I definitely intend to continue.  I feel like Hocking did a fantastic job of establishing, like with HP above, a "world within a world," a secret community that thrives hidden in plain site.  The Trylle customs are so fascinating, and I can't wait to find out more about them!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Pages: 338
Published: September 29, 2011 (Dutton)
Source: Purchased
Rating: Swoon-worthy
Add it/Purchase: Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Amazon
Connect with the author: Twitter | Website


Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

My Review

In April, I went to Florida with a group of friends, and saw the ocean for the first time.  It was an amazing trip, and when we all decided to spend one day just laying around on the beach (which was fantastic, and I miss it!) I brought one book with me: Lola and the Boy Next Door.  It only took one reading of Stephanie Perkin's break-out debut novel, Anna and the French Kiss for me to fall in love with Perkin's writing, as so many others before me had.  Within a few pages of Lola, with the sun overhead and the waves crashing nearby, I sunk happily into Lola Nolan's story, and experienced all over again the rush of reading a truly amazing book, which has that inherent, mysterious power to wake me up and make me FEEL.  By the end of Lola, I'd laughed, cried, seethed, clapped, and generally ran the gamut of emotions. 

Only Stephanie Perkins can create these amazingly identifiable characters, the kind of girl that, right away, you want to know and befriend.  You want to give her advice, you want to go shopping with her, in Lola's case, and you just want to know her and go on her journey with her.  Lola is an incredibly vivacious character, who reminded me of myself at times.  I dress conservatively at work because I have to, but there's definitely a part of me that, like Lola, loves to dress up it outlandish costumes and jewelry, accessories, and such.  And the best part about Lola and the Boy Next Door is that there are so many fascinating characters - from Lola's two days (each of which I adored in different ways), her absentee birth mother, her rocker boyfriend, and of course the infamous Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket.  Each character reads as if Perkins paused in their creation and really gave them time and attention, crafting not just one or two stand-out characters, but many. 

For Lola, who has spent a great deal of her life trying to understand the Bell twins, their arrival back in her life throws her into a serious turmoil.  Suddenly she has to figure out where she stands with both of them, and she ventures down an inspiring course of self-discovery in the process.  Along the way, Lola's relationships with almost everyone around her change, alter, and bend to give way to the biggest question of all: out of every costume and persona she's worn, which one is the real Lola?  Stephanie Perkins wrote Lola's journey in such a heart-achingly real way that it reminded me of my own younger years, when I first stretched my proverbial wings and started questioning my beliefs and actions and really trying to get to know myself, even if that meant it was scary and brave sometimes.

And of course, I can't review a Perkins book without mentioning The Boy.  I swear, she writes these perfectly flawed boys, who tug at my heart, break it, and then put it back together.  First Etienne, now Cricket.  Cricket Bell, who's always stood in his twin's shadow, Cricket, who gives so much to others and asks for so little in return.  Cricket, who gets Lola like no one else does.  My heart just swelled to the brim with love for him and for the relationship and bond that he and Lola shared, and begin to develop again over the course of Lola and the Boy Next Door. And I also have to say, it was a GREAT treat to see Anna and St Clair again!  I loved their parts in Lola!

Watching Cricket and Lola become tentative friends again, and then getting to see their link deepen was beautiful and so special.  For every time I wanted to hug both of them, I also wanted to cry or shake them, but of course, I also had to trust Stephanie Perkins to take the story in the direction she saw fit.  But with characters like Max around (Lola's boyfriend) it was really tough not to read ahead and try to figure out what happened!  Max is that awful character - the guy every girl meets and thanks she can change - but even he served a purpose, as did Lola's birth mother, Nora.  Stephanie Perkins absolutely knows what she's doing with placing characters in her books to teach the main character about themselves. 

I wouldn't ever hesitate to suggest Lola and the Boy Next Door.  It's a fabulous contemporary read that will shut out reality while you read it.  I read it in a few hours, and I already wish I had the time to re-read it to help with the wait for Isla and the Happily Ever After!  Lola's story will touch your heart, and leave you smiling in the end, and it just make might you a believer in a certain kind of magic...the magic of hope and a second chance with the one that got away.

Other great books by this author:

Anna and the French Kiss
Isla and the Happily Ever After (expected publication: 2013 by Dutton)

You're sure to fall for:

Saving June by Hannah Harrington
The Catastrophic History of You & Me by Jess Rothenberg

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Once Upon A Book Haul - #11

Inspired by all the book-haul memes I've seen floating around (and mostly accredited to Stacking the Shelves) Once Upon A Book Haul is my own version of a book haul/round-up here at Once Upon A Prologue.  It's a fun way for me to show off the books I've begged, borrowed, or stolen - and in a rare case, actually bought!  I love showing off my pretty new books, be they ARCS I'll pass on or books I'll keep just as much as I do seeing what y'all have added to YOUR collection, so be sure to leave me a link to YOUR haul in the comments so we can squee together over our new books!  (It's totally not embarrassing if we're squee'ing together in case y'all didn't know...)

Books Mentioned

For Review

Starling by Lesley Livingston { Add it on GoodReads

Thanks EVER so much to the FABULOUS Anna!

Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr { Add it on GoodReads
The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna { Add it on GoodReads
Delusion by Laura L. Sullivan { Add it on GoodReads

Thanks ever so much to ATW ARC Tours for these last three!


Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson { Add it on GoodReads

I HAD to own a finished copy because it's AMAZING!

Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross { Add it on GoodReads

I've wanted to own this one for FOREVER so I finally splurged.  I have read some stellar reviews, so I can't wait to read it!

Recently at Once Upon a Prologue

I reviewed Burn Mark by Laura Powell and rated it Beam-Worthy.
I posted a Top Ten Tuesday for readers who liked Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
I discussed female and male POVs in YA literature!
I reviewed The Glimpse by Claire Merle and rated it Shrug-Worthy.
I reviewed Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard and rated it Squee-Worthy! 

Be sure to leave me links in the comments to YOUR book haul/wrap up post!  And as always, thanks you SO much for stopping by, and taking a few minutes to visit the blog and comment.  I definitely appreciate it!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Review: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
Pages: 400
Expected publication: July 24, 2012 (Harper Teen)
Source: ARC from the publisher
Rating: Squee-worthy
Add it/Purchase: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Connect with the author: Twitter | Website | Book Website


The year is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.  And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

My Review

The mark of a good book, for me, is a book that, even after I close it, I think about it - about the characters, the plot, the world-building, and the relationships.  All that and more happened with Something Strange and Deadly, a debut novel that promises, "parasols and zombies," and delivers MUCH more.  Author Susan Dennard takes familiar elements of steam punk novels and adds in her own flair in the form of spirited characters, and a strong, heart-pounding zombie adventure that left me utterly enchanted, and yet also terrified to close my eyes the night I finished this novel.  

I have to talk about the characters, because for me, they were absolutely the most spectacular portion of Something Strange and Deadly.  I almost don't know how to go about choosing a favorite, since Dennard did a fantastic job at crafting each character, no matter how major or minor, to play their role to perfection.  I loved, hated, or feared them, from Eleanor's fussy, uptight mother clinging to what was left of a good name with a lot of debt, to Clarence, Eleanor's would-be suitor, who made me want to shake him one moment, then hug him the next.  I immediately felt for Eleanor, trapped in a world she only halfway fits into, caught between her desire to have her brother home safely, and her mother's suffocating need to force Eleanor into a profitable marriage.  Eleanor Fitt - often addressed as Miss Fitt - feels exactly like her name, and my heart went out to her right away.  We bonded, Eleanor and I, because who HASN'T from time to time felt out of place, and like our wants aren't being considered?  While I do think that Eleanor's mother cared about her, at the same time, I feel like the majority of her actions were selfishly based on what she wanted/needed, rather than consulting Eleanor.  

The wonderful characters continued as we are introduced, shortly after a Dead attack, to the Spirit Hunters, a small group of ghost-hunters (and at this point the Supernatural fangirl in me was absolutely giddy with anticipation and delight) who are tracking a powerful necromancer.  Eleanor meets Joseph, Daniel, and Jie, each who have a great deal to add to Something Strange and Deadly, in terms of backstory and personality, as well as what they can teach Eleanor.  Joseph, every inch the gentleman, is a fantastic leader for the Spirit Hunters, rounded out by free-thinking and courageous Jie, and of course...Daniel.  

Oh, Daniel.  Inventor, mystery, scarred, haunted Daniel.  I fell for him with his first words, as he dubbed Eleanor "Empress," and I fell even harder for him and Eleanor.  What I truly adored about Daniel and Eleanor is that their relationship was rocky from the start, and so it made it THAT much sweeter when we saw the little moments where they learned to trust and grudgingly respect one another.  Daniel and Eleanor tirelessly antagonize one another - and NOT in the tired "new boy at school annoys main character," way of so many books.  They truly didn't get along at all at first, and I ate up every minute of their interaction, as they slowly peeled away one another's layers, becoming reluctant allies before they were anything else.  The blush of romance between them is tempered by the fact that zombies are roaming Philadelphia, and so there's a great deal of potential still between them, as well as a thrumming tension.  

Throughout Something Strange and Deadly are enigmas, twists and turns that will break your heart and leave you wanting more.  Even though it was predictable at times - I figured out the biggest twist long before it was revealed - the end still absolutely took my breath away.  Susan Dennard isn't afraid to take chances, or even do something completely shocking.  She doesn't play it safe, so please, don't expect a safe read.  Expect danger, intrigue, and high-stakes romance.  Expect to laugh, and expect to cry.  Woven in amidst the threat of the Walking Dead is also a great deal of heart, and soul, hidden in the interactions between the Spirit Hunters, between Eleanor and Daniel, between Eleanor and Jie, and so forth.  

Even though I knew Something Strange and Deadly had to end, I still didn't want to admit it was over.  At around 400 pages, which might be too long for some stories, Dennard still clearly has plenty of adventures in store, since there is a sequel - A Darkness Strange and Lovely - due out next year.  (Oh, why must I wait SO long?!) With truly memorable characters and breath-taking danger, you'll want to pick up YOUR copy of Something Strange and Deadly when it hits shelves.  I guarantee you, you'll be thinking, like me, about this story long after you read the final page. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Discussion Post - #5: Male VS Female POV in YA Literature

Points of View in YA Literature:
Male VS Female POV

It's been awhile since I did a discussion post here, but my mind is always buzzing with thoughts and ideas for us to talk over, and, I wanted to get back to something a little more normal here, plus... I missed discussing!  I do have a link at the top of my blog to submit a question YOU would like to see discussed here, if y'all would like to do that.  It can be something about blogging, reading, plot devices...anything that you'd like to know about.  

Today's topic is something that has been on my mind for awhile now...the difference, pros and cons of male and female POV in YA literature.  Literature seems to be dominated in various genres by female protagonists, and this is most notably evident in YA literature.  Urban fantasy has their kick-ass heroines, while a great deal of heavy-hitting paranormal authors (JR Ward, Lara Adrian, Gena Showalter) feature mostly male narrators.  As far as I know, there isn't any hard and fast rule, but I'm curious where these lines come from, and I wanted to share my thoughts on this phenomenon.  

I think somewhere along the way, characters definitely started falling into archetypes - the "wounded" hero, the "good girl," the "boy next door," and I wanted to highlight a few YA authors who have sort of dared to do something different!  I'm the oddball who REALLY enjoys reading a book from a male POV.  From a writer's POV, some of my favorite characters are my angsty males - I love writing the "broken hero" type as much as I love reading about him.  But there are a few YA authors out there who are taking chances and trusting their lead males to carry their stories - and succeeding beautifully!  So THANK YOU to these fabulous authors!  
  • One of my favorite books of this year (even though I read an ARC last year) is Tempest by Julie Cross.  Tempest is a different look at time travel, filled with a lot of (for me) heart-wrenching moments.  I instantly loved the narrator, Jackson: a normal guy with normal guy problems...except he can time travel.  
  • The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova was one of the first "mermaid" books I read, and features Tristan Hart, a lovable if somewhat misguided guy.  I loved the way Zoraida wrote Tristan.  You KNEW Tristan...everyone has a Tristan in their life.  It was hilarious at times and sobering at others, watching his reactions to what was happening to him.
  • I just finished Defiance by CJ Redwine, which is told in two varying POV - one from Rachel, the main character, and one from Logan, the other main character.  Both POVs are in 1st person, which did rattle me a bit, but it was an unexpected and total surprise that it WAS a dual POV book, and really...honestly...this time it worked for me.  I loved getting Logan's insights, and thought that CJ did a fantastic job of adding in enough quirks and touches to each personality to keep them straight!  
  • And then we have Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi!  One of my FAVORITE books of this year so far, and a tremendously stunning debut.  Told in dual POVs between the two main characters, Aria and Perry, I adored this book so hard.  Perry is a hard character to get to know, but I really loved the glimpses we got into his mindset and his actions.  
So why the fascination with male characters?  Is it just because I'm NOT a male, and I find their thought processes and actions so interesting?  The age old struggle between men, women, and us all understanding the other seems an impossibility, so perhaps that's why I crave more male voices in YA literature.   Males are a puzzle - even women are, sometimes! - and I certainly love watching an author take on a male's POV.  I think it's a fabulous way of setting apart a story from all the rest, when done right. 

I've seen males written well, and written very poorly.  It's a fun struggle for me, writing from a male's POV in my own writing, and hoping that I get it right.  I have to wonder...would my hero do this?  Would he spend this much time thinking about making a decision, or would he just make it?  Would he go after the girl, or take his time and get to know her?  What sort of hero am I writing?  There are the age old "types," and then there are those characters who break the mold, and that's what - I - want to write.  (Of course I'm all too aware that I romanticize my male characters too much, so I'm working on that.)

This post may make it look like I prefer male POV over female.  Sometimes... for certain books, I do.  Looking back, I can't imagine any of the books on my list having been written by a female character.  And I'm sure there are several books that were written from a female POV that would NOT work from a male POV.  Can you imagine Delirium from Alex's POV?  (Actually...that sounds kinda awesome now that I think about it...) 

But it's YOUR turn now!  Do you have a preference in POV?  Do you like a female POV more than a male POV?  Or are there certain types of books where a male POV just seems right?  Sound off in the comments and let me know if you have any favorite books written from a male POV! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Review: Burn Mark by Laura Powell

Burn Mark by Laura Powell
Pages: 416
Published: June 19, 2012 (Bloomsbury)
Source: ARC from the publisher
Rating: Beam-worthy
Add it/Purchase: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Connect with the author: Facebook | Website | Twitter


Glory is from a family of witches and lives beyond the law. She is desperate to develop her powers and become a witch herself. Lucas is the son of the Chief Prosecutor for the Inquisition—the witches’ mortal enemy—and his privileged life is very different to the forbidden world that he lives alongside.

And then on the same day, it hits them both. Glory and Lucas develop the Fae—the mark of the witch. In one fell stroke, their lives are inextricably bound together, whether they like it or not...

My Review 

Burn Mark is a gritty, tough look at two very different characters, from two very separate walks of life.  I devoured Laura Powell's debut novel in a matter of hours, almost in one sitting, and although I didn't make that lasting connection with it that I hoped to, I did find myself thoroughly drawn in to the world she's built.  In Burn Mark, the danger is real, and there were definitely moments when I felt a chill, reading about the society Powell created, and the situations her two main characters found themselves in.  

Told in dual narrative, in Burn Mark we meet both Glory and Lucas.  Glorianna Starling Wilde wants nothing more than to "turn fae," or become a witch.  She's a legacy in the making.  But for Lucas Stearne, "turning fae" is a nightmarish world he wants nothing to do with.  When both teens turn and develop the tell-tale "Devil's Kiss," or mark of being fae, both their worlds change.  I loved the juxtaposition of their two worlds.  Glory is from a long line of witches, with ties to more than one powerful coven.  Lucas is from a long, esteemed line of witch hunters.   Seeing the two radically different reactions from these equally compelling characters was what moved along Burn Mark for me, since the pacing was slower than I expected.  

If there was one flaw in Burn Mark that did take my enjoyment back a few notches, it was that I felt like I was being inundated by information - terms, people, places, mythos, legends, and such.  I know sometimes the "info-dump" plot device can't be avoided, but unfortunately here, it was just too much to take in all at once.  I'd barely gotten to know a character before I was being trampled by their rich family history - which was fascinating, don't get me wrong - then hit by new phrases.  It was overwhelming!  

However, there is a very thrilling story playing out in Powell's novel.  Not only are both Glory and Lucas struggling to accept their new lives, but there's also a power struggle going on between the covens, plus a lot more at stake, as is revealed in Burn Mark.  I thought the WICA agency (sort of a witch-themed FBI) was an interesting addition, and I was invested in what was going on, though worried for Glory and Lucas as they got in over their heads in everything.  There was a good sense of urgency throughout Burn Mark, but again, it was almost as if Laura Powell tried to take on and accomplish too much at once.  Enough happens and is revealed that I was left wondering if there would be a sequel, which is there is, I'd definitely read it.  

Burn Mark is overall a dauntless paranormal tale, which features an interesting contrast between Lucas's easy life of opulence and Glory's hardscrabble life on the streets.  Both characters stand on their own, though I liked Glory's tough ways and fast talking more than I did Lucas, and in a lot of ways, I feel like there's still a great deal to learn about Lucas.  He came off as very reserved, and if there is a sequel, hopefully Laura Powell will let us further into his thoughts and reveal more about what makes him tick.

Please check this one out if you're looking for something edgy and different; I don't think Burn Mark will disappoint!  

Be sure to check out the rest of the Burn Mark tour!
You're sure to fall for: 

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Chime by Franny Billingsley

Top Ten Tuesday - #24: Love This, Love That

{ ++ } Hosted by the girls over at The Broke and the Bookish, this meme features a different theme every week, and hey, it's Tuesday - we've got the rest of the week ahead of us.  We all need a little fun, and who doesn't love the challenge of ranking their top 10 anything...especially when it comes to books?!  I know I do, hence why I thought it'd be fun to participate, and spice things up a little!

July 17: 
Top Ten Books For People Who Like Shadow and Bone

 This Top Ten Tuesday, I wanted to highlight a book that I loved this year, then recommend to y'all some books that are also stand-outs in that genre for me, or that share similar elements, a writing style, or pairing.   One of my favorite books of 2012 (to the point that I sobbed more than once!) is Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo.  I'm a HUGE fan of fantasy books, and in fact, fell in love with that genre as a teen when I went looking for something new and different to read.   If you have read and loved S&B, or if you're looking forward to reading it, give these other books a try!

{ 1 } Medalon by Jennifer Fallon.  This is an adult fantasy book, but it was really unique, and features a different sort of mythology than any others I've run across.  Kinda like how Bardugo blends a lot to bring the Grisha mythos to life! 

{ 2 } Defiance by C.J. Redwine.  I just finished this one, and while the societies are really different in this and in S&B, they're equally fascinating and different.  The emphasis on power is definitely present in both books. 

{ 3 } Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly.  This is one of the very first sci-fi-/fantasy books I read, and in a way, the wildness of it reminds me of Shadow and Bone.  They've both got that darker, old-fashioned, feral vibe going on in their magics. 

{ 4 } Cinder by Marissa Meyer.  Cinder is technically sci-fi, and a fairy-tale re-imagining, but for some reason, I LOVED loved loved the world-building to it, the more that I look back on the book.  There's a thriving culture here that's also in Shadow and Bone - two very different cultures, but both impressive in how much time the author took to develop them. 

{ 5 } The Wayfarer Redemption by Sara Douglass.  I vividly remember reading this book probably oh...8 years ago or so, and just falling in LOVE with the unique mythos Douglass created.  To this day I'm still a bit creeped out by the original trilogy and the monsters and magic she created! 

{ 6 } Switched by Amanda Hocking.  I haven't read the other two books in this trilogy, but this first one captivated me.  Both Wendy and Alina are searching to find out who they are when their entire worlds change, and I loved that they both stay true to themselves. 

{ 7 } Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop.  (Oh c'mon.  Y'all KNEW this one would be on the list, right?)  There's a VERY sensual vibe to this book and books, just like there is to Alina and the Darkling in Shadow and Bone. 

 { 8 } Half-Blood by Jennifer L Armentrout.  If you haven't read this book, then GO GET IT!  JLA has developed a fascinating Greek mythology, blending some traditional in with her own style.  It's just a lush and captivating as the Grisha society is! 

{ 9 } The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan.  This is the first book in an epically awesome series that I have yet to get back to (*SIGHS*) and I miss.  Jordan passed away a few years ago, but not before he poured his heart and soul into building the world of the Wheel of Time series, with a few amazing cultures, including the Aes Sedai (which remind me a LOT of the Grisha) and the Aiel. 

{ 10 } Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi.  If my review doesn't convince you to read this one, then there's no helping you.  LOL.  Seriously though, even though there are a few more sci-fi than fantasy elements to V's debut book, it's a tremendously well-built and dangerous world, just like the Grisha society.  Plus, I think Alina and Aria would get along great, since they're similar characters in some way.