f0zKg0J4zFLYz-Yq0aednQVqREE Once Upon a Prologue: August 2012
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Friday, August 31, 2012

Back to the Books Giveaway Hop!





Hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & Buried in Books


Want to deny school a bit longer and win a book of your choice?  Here's your chance!

Normally I wouldn't require a follow but since this is also serving as a follower appreciation, this time it IS necessary.  New followers?  Y'all are VERY VERY welcome, and believe me, I grin widely and actually clap and squee when I gain followers, because I adore each and every one of you for coming here and wanting to know what I have to say.  So if you choose to follow, THANK YOU...good luck, and be thinking of what book YOU'LL choose if you win!










Thursday, August 30, 2012

Review: The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge by Christine Nolfi








The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge by Christine Nolfi
Pages: 378
Published: March 15, 2012
Source: E-book from the author in exchange for an honest review
Rating: Squee-worthy
Add it/Purchase: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Connect with the author: Twitter | Website

___

A savage rape on hallowed ground. Secrets buried for decades by the town’s most influential family.

Now Ourania D’Andre will learn the Great Oak’s secrets as construction begins at the Fagan mansion. She can’t afford to turn down a job that promises to stir up the long-buried guilt—and the passion—she shares with powerful Troy Fagan.

She’s already juggling the most important job of her career with her new responsibilities as a foster mother for young Walt and Emma Korchek. And there’s a hard, older man on the construction crew with eyes void of emotion—cold and killing. The secrets of his brutal past will pose a grave threat to the children in her care. Will she find the courage to face him?





My Review

Christine Nolfi was the very first author to ever request a review from me when I started this blog; after I read and loved her debut, Treasure Me, I immediately agreed to read and review her second novel, The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge, when she approached me about it.  Although a good year passed in between when I read her first novel, and when I eagerly read this one, the effect was the same once I started Tree: I immediately fell all over again for Christine's writing and her way of creating characters that feel at once familiar, like old friends.  

Main characters Ourania and Troy crackled with their own individual personalities, as well as their barely contained sexual tension.  It was at once clear that there was something unresolved between these two, and as I read more, and began to like and care for both of these tormented characters, their pasts became clearer, and my heart went out to each of them.  Throughout Tree, we're given glimpses through a dual POV into both Troy and Ourania's thoughts and motivations, and we see both sides of their tangled story.  Still dealing - poorly - with their shared loss of a loved one, both Troy and Ourania have taken equally dangerous paths in their life, which has led them both to become deeply unhappy.  I wanted to alternately hug and shake each of them for being so dense at times, yet so intuitive at others. 

Nolfi effortlessly built layer after layer upon the foundation she laid early on in Tree; with her easy to follow, easy to love writing style, she weaves several character's stories into one another, yet does so in a way that never feels too tangled.  The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge is many things: a romance, a mystery, a social commentary on the foster system and how it works and does not work at times, a mystery, and a moral lesson.  What I loved best were the relationships: Ourania and Troy, Troy and his parents, Ourania and her foster children, sweet Walt and broken Emma, Ourania and Troy's sister.  All of the characters, even the minor ones, were definitely well developed and stood out strongly in my mind, even after finishing Tree

Christine Nolfi kept me guessing at various plot twists, which I applaud.  Tree had so much going on, but not in a cluttered way - it was definitely a well-rounded mystery, thriller, and romance all at once.   As the pages grew numbered, my heartbeat increased, and I found myself genuinely scared for the characters, as past secrets came to life to threaten them in present day.  And at Tree's end, although everything was wrapped up a bit too neatly for my taste (my only real complaint), this novel is still emotionally satisfying in many ways!  

Other books by this author:

Treasure Me

You're sure to fall for:

The Memory of Water by Karen White

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - #30: Dirty Little (Bookish) Secrets

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{ ++ } 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 - August 28, 2012
Top Ten Bookish Confessions 


{ 1 } I love to smell the pages of REALLY old books.  There's just...nothing like it.

{ 2 } I have a slight bookmark obsession.  I don't buy a new one every time I'm in a bookstore...but it's close to that.  Especially the super pretty ones that B&N sells...

{ 3 } When I start a series, I have a difficult time NOT finishing it, unless I just REALLY hate the books I've read in it.  I've been known to wait years for all the books to come out just so that I can read them all at once, too, since I read a lot of Australian authors and their books take FOREVER to release here in the US.

{ 4 } Despite the fact that I keep trying to organize my bookshelf, I have far too many books for it to EVER actually make sense.  It's loosely organized into: The Top Shelf (fave books ever,) YA, male sci-fi/fantasy authors, then women sci-fi/fantasy, with the bottom shelf being Paranormal Romance and some miscellaneous books.  

{  5 } I tend to crush HARD on fictional boys.  We don't need to talk about the Jacob Black phase a few years ago.  It got embarrassing.  ;)  Right now I'm in the Gale Hawthorne phrase pretty hardcore.  HEE.  HEE.

{ 6 } I've never NOT read a book specifically because of a cover (I also take into account the synopsis, and reviews I read of it) but I DO pay attention to book covers and if a cover is particularly ugly, I will sometimes re-ass how much I want to read that book. 

{ 7 } Even though I make fun of Twilight at every occasion...I used to be a hardcore Jacob/Bella shipper.  To the point that I ventured into the Twilight fandom...then carefully backed away.  I even wrote fic!  And joined a Jacob/Bella community on LiveJournal.  Of course eventually I found other pairings I liked more, but they'll always have a special place in my heart. 

{ 8 } If I like a book A LOT, I will dream cast some of the characters.  For example? MY Finnick Odair is ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS going to be Ian Somerhalder.  : )

{ 9 } I get a HUGE thrill when authors I admire talk with me on Twitter or RT one of my tweets.  HUGE geekish thrill. 

{ 10 } I once bought so many books on a trip to visit a friend that I had to BUY a duffel bag to get all of the books home in.  I hid them in my closet when I got home (my family was gone) and my parents never knew how many I bought.  LOL.


Your turn!  What are YOUR book-ish confessions and dirty little secrets?  

Monday, August 27, 2012

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas










Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Pages: 416
Expected publication: August 7, 2012 (Bloomsbury USA)
Source: E-ARC from NetGalley
Rating: Squee-worthy
Add it/Purchase: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Connect with the author: Website | Twitter | Facebook

___

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the kings council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.



My Review

There's something so heady and thrilling for me about opening the pages of a new fantasy novel, and I definitely had that sense of excitement and wonder as soon as I began Throne of Glass.  Even though we meet the main character, Celaena, under the most trying conditions, my heart went out to her as she was given an impossible choice: compete to become the champion of a king she doesn't respect, or stay in the mines of Endovier, and die there.  I admired Celaena's strength of character, and the fact that she was definitely resourceful and a survivor.  I identified with her throughout Throne of Glass because I made that instant connection with her.  

Sarah J. Maas has breathed fresh life into familiar elements of fantasy with her debut novel.  Along with wonderful characters, I'm a big fan of the world-building, which was solidly done.  Adarlan felt like a real place, and I really enjoyed the time Maas took to craft the kingdom, as well as the other cultures and areas mentioned.  Set against a backdrop of court intrigue, the places Celaena visits in Throne of Glass are burned brightly into my memory, awaiting further exploration.  I felt like I was right there with her, discovering the glass castle, daring to attend a masked ball, training with Chaol Westfall, and entering the competition to be King's Champion.  

Plot-wise, Throne of Glass has a lot of fantastic things going for it.  I absolutely loved the idea of the Champion competition, and I was of course, cheering for Celaena.  But what I didn't expect to find among the eclectic group of thiefs, murders, and assassins were one or two other characters who really stood out in my mind as memorable, like Nox and Pelor.  I really enjoyed the notion that, although at first glance, all of these men were bad to the core, that there could be a few who had more in common with Celaena than she originally thought.  I thought that Nehemia was another brilliantly written character, and I also really came to like Captain Westfall.  Under his gruff exterior, he was actually a fabulous counterpart to Celaena, and I greatly looked forward to their interactions!  

What I loved about Throne of Glass was that as the book went on, the mystery surrounding the competition grew deeper and more difficult to unravel.  Sarah J. Maas did a fantastic job of keeping the tension high throughout the story - there was never really a moment when I breathed easy, or was allowed to forget what was at stake.  And then there's the brewing tension between Adarlan and other countries, not to mention the fact that potential Champions keep dying.  It all added a seething undertone of fear and unease to Throne of Glass that I approved of!  

If I have any complaint with Throne of Glass, it's that there was too much information coming at me at times.  I like it when authors slowly reveal their cultures, secrets, and such.  I know at times, especially in fantasy, an "info dump" can be really difficult to avoid, but I felt like that happened somewhat.  And although I really DID like the romance that developed, and that it was actually given time to do so, so that it all felt natural, I was disappointed that I just kind of didn't "get" said romance.  I'm the oddling that usually cheers for the underdog, and although there isn't really a love triangle in Throne of Glass, unrequited love is hinted at, and I have to wonder where that might go in the sequel. 

Definitely give Throne of Glass a chance, though, especially if you are a fan of fantasy novels!  The characters are well-developed, and there's a great element of mystery and danger.  I'm very much looking forward to the sequel and seeing where Sarah J. Maas takes her series! 


Other books by this author


(All are prequel e-novellas to Throne of Glass)

You're sure to fall for:

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers



Saturday, August 25, 2012

Once Upon A Book Haul - #15
















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...)







Recently at Once Upon a Prologue

I reviewed Ruby by Amanda Burke
I posted a Top Ten Tuesday feat my favorite books read since starting this blog!
I posted a Waiting on Wednesday for Broken by A.E. Rought
I reviewed Starling by Lesley Livingston (and LOVED IT.)
I reviewed The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna (I REALLY liked it!)





* I fibbed slightly in the video.  My CURSED giveaway is already over but I'll try to have something new up soon!


Books Mentioned

Won

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery { Add it on Goodreads }

For Review

 Death and the Girl Next Door by Darynda Jones { Add it on Goodreads }
Amber House by Kelly Reed { Add it on Goodreads }
The Diviners by Libba Bray { Add it on Goodreads }
Lucid by Adrienne Stoltz { Add it on Goodreads }
My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by Rachel Harris { Add it on Goodreads }

Bought

The High Priestess by Katee Robert { Add it on Goodreads }
Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane { Add it on Goodreads }
Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen { Add it on Goodreads }
The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver { Add it on Goodreads }
The Vincent Boys by Abbi Glines { Add it on Goodreads }
Heist Society by Ally Carter { Add it on Goodreads }
Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols { Add it on Goodreads }
Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn't Have) by Sarah Mlynowski { Add it on Goodreads }
Blood of Anteros by Georgia Cates { Add it on Goodreads }
Queen of Swords by Katee Robert { Add it on Goodreads }
Pride and Predjudice by Jane Austen { Add it on Goodreads }
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen { Add it on Goodreads }
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen { Add it on Goodreads }
Persuasion by Jane Austen { Add it on Goodreads }
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte { Add it on Goodreads }
Want by Stephanie Lawton { Add it on Goodreads }


Please leave me links back to YOUR book haul post/wrap up so I can come show your blog some love!  And happy reading!

*Thank you to ATW ARC Tours, Southern Book Bloggers ARC Tours, Entangled Teen, St Martin's Press, and Marie!

I have to work tomorrow (yuck) so I will be visiting blogs and returning comments tomorrow evening!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Review: Starling by Lesley Livingston





Starling by Lesley Livingston
Pages: 352
Expected publication: August 28, 2012 (HarperTeen)
Source: Borrowed from Anna
Rating: Squee-worthy
Add it/Purchase: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Connect with the author: Blog | Twitter
___

"Love is just the beginning... of the end."

Mason Starling is a champion fencer for Gosforth Academy, but she’s never had to fight for her life. Until now. When a ferocious storm rips through Manhattan and unleashes terrifying creatures onto Gosforth’s campus, Mason barely escapes alive. Without help from the mysterious stranger who appeared in the midst of the storm, she might not have made it at all. But now, in the aftermath, Mason’s life begins to spin dramatically, mystically out of control, and the only one who seems able to help her is the stranger who can remember nothing but his name: Fennrys Wolf.

As Mason and Fenn uncover more about Fenn’s past and the strange events that surround them, they realize that Mason’s family — and its dark allegiance to the ancient Norse gods — is at the center of everything. A predetermined fate seems to be closing in on Mason, but is it possible to change one’s destiny?

Readers who fell in love with Lesley Livingston’s Wondrous Strange trilogy and those who love Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series will be captivated by the sweeping romance and pulse-pounding action of Starling.



My Review 

Starling is one of those rare books that manages to juggle non-stop action and danger with a glorious mythos, as well as a touch of romance, yet never feels too busy.  Steeped heavily in Norse mythology, this is a story of pulse-tripping adventure, where the stakes are never less than high.  Author Lesley Livingston keeps the story moving along at a good pace, yet gives us time to fall for the characters and the fantasy she's spinning around us. 

As we are introduced to the main character, Mason Starling, we barely have time to get to know her before a ghastly storm that heralds nightmare creatures attacks Mason and her friends and brother.  I've heard it said that character is most clearly revealed in times of trouble, and I think it's true.  Mason proves herself to be a brave and caring person, even though she's terrified of the beasts surrounding them.  Enter Fennrys Wolf.  *happy sigh*  Fennrys saves Mason and her friends, and seems able to handle himself dangerously with a sword, yet knows next to nothing about his life.  Fennrys's strength of character compliments Mason's own - for all his oddities, he's still a person capable of great empathy and love, as we discover throughout the course of Starling.  

I almost don't know what I can say about Livingston's novel that will make any sense - it's THAT good, so good, in fact, that although I finished it almost a week ago, I'm STILL thinking about it and wondering where the characters will go next.  I fell head over heels for Mason, Fennrys, Cal, and Roth (Mason's brother.)  I loved that all these characters felt so REAL, like people I might have gone to school with or worked with, and I liked that we got to peek into their various points of view, although the main POVs belonged to Mason or Fenn.  

Plot-wise, the storyline is just as richly developed as the characters.  Between the various mythologies at work, which gave Starling the sense of being just steeped and wrapped in mystery after mystery, and the knowledge of competing entities, all who are working against one another to bring about different results, I was HOOKED in no time!  Add in Fennrys and the enigma that he is, and I couldn't stop reading Starling! The more I read, the harder I fell for Fennrys, not to mention his incredible bond with Mason.  I loved their interactions so much - and never fear folks, there's no insta-love here, just two people with an amazing connection, and more of a beginning than a "be-all-end-all-overnight" relationship.  Nevertheless, it's clear that Fenn and Mason care about one another!  

Lesley Livingston's novel is a breathless thrill-ride with a delicious touch of darkness.  I had hardly recovered from one twist before there was another one staring me in the fact.  By the end of Starling, I was SO bereft that it was over, because Holy Mother of Cliffhangers!  My only complaints are that a few things seemed to happen TOO easily.  But beyond that...I will DEFINITELY be splurging on a beautiful, finished copy so that I can re-read this amazing novel! 


Other books by this author:


You're sure to fall for:

Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson



Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday - #30: Broken by A.E. Rought









{ ++ }  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...




Broken by A. E. Rought
Expected Publication: January 8, 2013 (Strange Chemistry)
Add it to your TBR!
Connect with the authorBlog | Twitter


Imagine a modern spin on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein where a young couple's undying love and the grief of a father pushed beyond sanity could spell the destruction of them all.

A string of suspicious deaths near a small Michigan town ends with a fall that claims the life of Emma Gentry's boyfriend, Daniel. Emma is broken, a hollow shell mechanically moving through her days. She and Daniel had been made for each other, complete only when they were together. Now she restlessly wanders the town in the late Fall gloom, haunting the cemetery and its white-marbled tombs, feeling Daniel everywhere, his spectre in the moonlight and the fog.

When she encounters newcomer Alex Franks, only son of a renowned widowed surgeon, she's intrigued despite herself. He's an enigma, melting into shadows, preferring to keep to himself. But he is as drawn to her as she is to him. He is strangely... familiar. From the way he knows how to open her locker when it sticks, to the nickname she shared only with Daniel, even his hazel eyes with brown flecks are just like Daniel's.

The closer they become, though, the more something inside her screams there's something very wrong with Alex Franks. And when Emma stumbles across a grotesque and terrifying menagerie of mangled but living animals within the walls of the Franks' estate, creatures she surely knows must have died from their injuries, she knows.


Why It's Worth Waiting On: OH.  MY.  GOSH.  How utterly terrifying and wild does this sound?  There's a definite gloomy, Gothic air to this book that I AM ALL OVER.   

Your turn!  What book/s are YOU waiting on this week? 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Review: Ruby by Amanda Burke








Ruby by Amanda Burke
Pages: 174
Published: June 29, 2012
Rating: Shrug-worthy
Source: TBG ARC Tours
Add it/Purchase: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

___

During the Salem witch hunts, an evil witch named Natasha Sullivan tricks a demon into confining himself inside an enchanted music box. She casts a spell that foretells that the demon will emerge in an unknown time in future after the birth of a child known as the Lumen Child. 

This child’s destiny is to bring light to the planet and Natasha knows that if he is killed then darkness will prevail. Natasha’s identical twin Sarah, discovers what her sister has done. Although she cannot break the spell she casts her own prophecy. It states that three witches known as the Triple Enchantresses will be born in the same time as the Lumen Child and they will be his supernatural protectors. The girls are not sisters, yet they will share a common destiny. 

Ruby is the story of the first witch and how she very nearly dies before discovering her true identity. Having grown up unaware of her powers, she is rescued by her loving grandmother who is also a white witch and taken back to the family estate where she learns everything she can about what her future holds.



My Review

Ruby is a coming-of-age story that, despite its various flaws, still managed to entertain me.  Author Amanda Burke brings a new twist on witchcraft to YA literature, in a debut that has potential, yet never fully delivers.  While I enjoyed the paranormal elements and the exploration of family bonds in this novel, the writing was very immature, which tells me that Burke has a lot of growing to do as an author. 

Character wise, Ruby offers a few gems, such as Ruby's grandmother, Esther, who I grew fond of.  I absolutely adored the whimsical Walter, a delightful side character.  However, there were several characters who were in the book for such a short time that I didn't really get to know them, or their motivations to me were unclear.  I felt like there wasn't enough time devoted to the villains - I got that they were bad, but I needed to know WHY they were bad and so forth.  They never REALLY scared or worried me. 

Ruby's transformation happened a bit too quickly for my taste.  She went from innocent young girl to powerful witch without much of a transition in between the two.  The pacing was choppy during those changes, and I think Ruby would have benefited from a few more scenes developing Ruby's understanding of witchcraft and her powers. 

I didn't like the romance in Ruby.  The love interest is a likeable enough guy, but he pulls the continual "hot-then-cold" act that SO many guys in YA novels tend to come with, as if it's a package deal for their existence.  There was a small amount of development between Ruby and Blaine, but no indication that they'd ever really gotten to know one another before things progressed.  I despise insta-love as a plot device, and that's exactly what this was.  If we'd had a few touching scenes between Ruby and Blaine, I could have supported them, but nothing like that was even attempted.  Instead, the attempt at romance felt very childish. 

Although Ruby didn't impress me, if you're a fan of lighter reads, then you might enjoy this book.  The end does offer some hope for the sequels, but even that is abrupt, and too much is wrapped up in the final pages for my liking.  However, there's nothing too heavy in it, so it is definitely a YA book that will probably please younger teens! 


This post is part of the:
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In which you can win the following PLUS a $10 Amazon gift card!
 


And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour!

 18-Aug  |  http://www.splashofourworlds.blogspot.com/       
18-Aug  |    http://www.whatyareading.com       
19-Aug  |   http://www.thebookgirlreads.blogspot.com       
20-Aug   |  http://www.falln2books.blogspot.com       
21-Aug  |   http://www.onceuponaprologue.blogspot.com       
22-Aug   |  http://www.onemilysbookshelf.com       
23-Aug   |  http://www.doodlesbookblog.blogspot.com       
24-Aug   |   http://www.theliteraturelion.blogspot.com       
25-Aug  |   http://www.fictionfervor.wordpress.com       
26-Aug   |  http://www.inbetweenwritingandreading.blogspot.com       
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29-Aug  |    http://www.cuts-of-paper.blogspot.com       
30-Aug    |   http://www.cleanromancereviews.com    



Top Ten Tuesday - #29: The Best of the Best







{ ++ } 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 - August 21, 2012
Top Ten Favorite Books You've Read During The Lifespan Of Your Blog 


Since this is probably going to quickly turn into an embarrassingly gushy fangirl post, I'm going to keep this week's list simple and link to the books and to my reviews of them here on the blog.  If they've earned a "swoon-worthy" rating from me, I would HIGHLY recommend them to readers, and may or may not end up trying to put an actual copy in various friend's hands! 


{ 1 } Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins: my review.  CRICKET BELL, ANYONE?  This book was SO SUPER touching to read. 

{ 2 } Timepiece by Myra McEntire: my review.  UM.  KALEB.  JUST...THAT IS ALL.  But seriously, if you've read Hourglass (*coughs* I know you've ALL read it, RIGHT? *coughs*) then you MUST also read Timepiece. 

{ 3 } A Wan So Wicked by Suzanne Young: my review.  Oh wow.  Oh wow.  I cried SO MANY tears reading this book.  It was just...heart-wrenchingly gorgeous, full of both shadows AND hope.

{ 4 } Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers: my review.  What a great book this was!  The setting was awesome, and the characters.  OH.  The characters were all so alive and vivid, and the romance was just beautifully subtle yet meaningful.  

{ 5 } Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo: my review.  GAH.  How can I EVER say anything articulate about S&B?  It made me feel so, so much....I WEPT over this book.  I don't mean a few errant tears.  I mean I literally sobbed.  It ripped my heart out, then found a way to put it back together. 

{  6} Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock: my review.  *FLAILS* KYYYYLLLLEEE.  Can we all just take a minute to appreciate Kyle - I mean, how awesome this book is?  There's so much action and danger, and romance....the kind of romance that sweeps you off your feet along with the main character.  

{ 7 } Illuminate by Aimee Agresti: my review.  I am SO in love with this book, and excited for Infatuate, the sequel.  (IS IT TIME YET?!)  I adored these characters - Haven, Dante, Lance, Lucian! - and I NEED much more of their stories. 

{ 8 } The Catastrophic History of You & Me by Jess Rothenberg: my review.  This book taught me SO MUCH about love, healing, and forgiveness.  I simply HAD to own a gorgeous, finished copy for re-reading purposes. 

{ 9 } Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: my review.  I LOVED this one so so so much more than I ever thought that I would or could.  ST CLAIR.  Oh how I adore you, you perfect boy!  Plus, the relationship between Anna and St Clair is AMAZZZING.

{ 10 } Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi: my review.  If I REALLY have to explain why I love this one... I will but it's one that EVERYONE should read.  Aria and Perry's relationship is SO beautiful...they go from enemies to understanding one another so well and V Rossi did a fabulous job exploring their prejudices and their bond.  And the storyline is really fantastic, too!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Review: The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna







The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna
Pages: 432
Expected publication: August 28, 2012 (HarperCollins)
Source: ATW ARC Tours
Rating: Squee-worthy
Add it/Purchase: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Connect with the author: Website | Twitter

___

Eva’s life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination—an echo. Made by the Weavers as a copy of someone else, she is expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her “other”, if she ever died. Eva studies what Amarra does, what she eats, what it’s like to kiss her boyfriend, Ray. So when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready.

But fifteen years of studying never prepared her for this.  Now she must abandon everything she’s ever known—the guardians who raised her, the boy she’s forbidden to love—to move to India and convince the world that Amarra is still alive.

What Eva finds is a grief-stricken family; parents unsure how to handle this echo they thought they wanted; and Ray, who knew every detail, every contour of Amarra. And when Eva is unexpectedly dealt a fatal blow that will change her existence forever, she is forced to choose: Stay and live out her years as a copy or leave and risk it all for the freedom to be an original. To be Eva.

From debut novelist Sangu Mandanna comes the dazzling story of a girl who was always told what she had to be—until she found the strength to decide for herself.



My Review

When I began The Lost Girl, I was prepared for a story of technology gone wrong, but what I found instead was a heart-wrenching tale of love, loyalty, and the importance of having  your own identity.  It's something we all take for granted - the freedom of making our own choices about what to eat, what to wear, what to read or study, or what to like and dislike.  What would YOU do if everything about your life was decided based on you having to copy the life of someone else?  Imagine a world like that...imagine trying to keep even a spark of yourself alive...and then you will have an idea of what Eva's life is like in Sangu Mandanna's debut novel.  

Eva has lived her entire life mimicking her "other's" likes, dislikes, and studying her mannerisms and thoughts, all in order to replace Amarra if Amarra ever dies.  Mandanna created a stunningly poignant character in Eva, whose strongest wish is also the simplest possible: to be seen as her own person.  When Amarra suddenly dies, Eva is ripped from the only life she has ever known - including the life-like secondary characters who have been her caretakers: Mina Ma, Ophelia, and Erik - and has to face the fact that she is now, for all purposes, Amarra.  

Eva tore at my heart as she fought against the inevitable; her only choices are to become Amarra or to be unmade - literally unstitched by the Weavers....and let me tell you, they are frightening! I wanted to reach out and hug Eva, and tell her that she wasn't alone.  Her quest to find herself, while trying to be someone else, was terrifyingly real.  As Eva bleeds through into Amarra and she runs the risk of her secret coming to life, I was hopelessly involved in The Lost Girl, following Mandanna's every word, hanging on the end of every chapter. 

Emotionally, I definitely connected with Eva, and with a few of the other characters.  Mandanna has crafted everyone with care here, weaving them as carefully as the echoes are created.  While all of the minor characters felt as if Mandanna spent time with them, developing them, the stand-outs were Sean - Eva's would-be love interest -, Nikhil, Amarra's younger brother, and Matthew.  Oh, Matthew.  From his first scene, I adored him.  He's the type of sly, intelligent character you know you shouldn't trust, shouldn't even LIKE, but you still find yourself falling hard for him.  And while I definitely did NOT like Amarra, it was fascinating, how MUCH of a presence she was in this story, considering she and Eva are never face to face, of course. 

I didn't expect there to be a love story at all in The Lost Girl, but there are several.  I thought the tentative, largely unsaid feelings between Eva and Sean were just gut-wrenchingly honest and all the more beautiful because of it.  Likewise, the conflict and torment between Ray and Eva - who he mostly sees as Amarra - was almost painful to read about, yet drew me in all the same.  

There are many questions asked in The Lost Girl - questions about mortality, about life, and death, and about the weight of the human soul, and if anything of it ever lingers after death.  The pages are soaked in both love and grief, seen in the eyes of Amarra's family, Eva's "familiars."  Sangu Mandanna has created a clever plot that never left me bored - if anything as the story progressed, I read faster, driven to find out what happened next.   Between Eva's struggles to maintain her identity, and the ominous Weavers, nothing about The Lost Girl is safe, but it is definitely a book that you will think about long after you read the final pages!

Other books by this author:

None yet!  Hoping this is a series though!

You're sure to fall for:

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang
Starters by Lissa Price



Saturday, August 18, 2012

Once Upon A Book Haul - #14














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...)



Recently at Once Upon a Prologue

I reviewed Defiance by C.J. Redwine!  (I LOVED IT!)
I posted a discussion about the evolution of YA lit!
I posted a Top Ten Tuesday about my favorite couples.
I posted a review + giveaway of Cursed by Jennifer L. Armentrout!  
I reviewed Over You by Emma McLauglin and Nicola Klaus!










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Books Mentioned

For Review

Two Or Three Things I Forgot To Tell You by Joyce Carol Oates { Add it on Goodreads }
Breathe by Sarah Crossan { Add it on Goodreads
Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson { Add it on Goodreads
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore { Add it on Goodreads }
The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore { Add it on Goodreads }
The Rise of Nine by Pittacus Lore { Add it on Goodreads }

* Thanks SO much to Harper Teen for all the awesome books!


 Be sure to leave me a link to YOUR book haul/wrap up post in the comments! 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Review + Giveaway: Cursed by Jennifer L Armentrout






Cursed by Jennifer L Armentrout
Pages: 312
Expected publication: September 18, 2012 (Spencer Hill Press)
Source: ARC from the publisher
Rating: Squee-worthy
Add it/Purchase: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Connect with the author: Website | Twitter

___

Dying sucks--and high school senior Ember McWilliams knows firsthand. After a fatal car accident, her gifted little sister brought her back. Now anything Ember touches dies. And that, well, really blows.

Ember operates on a no-touch policy with all living things--including boys. When Hayden Cromwell shows up, quoting Oscar Wilde and claiming her curse is a gift, she thinks he’s a crazed cutie. But when he tells her he can help control it, she’s more than interested. There’s just one catch: Ember has to trust Hayden's adopted father, a man she's sure has sinister reasons for collecting children whose abilities even weird her out. However, she’s willing to do anything to hold her sister's hand again. And hell, she'd also like to be able to kiss Hayden. Who wouldn't?

But when Ember learns the accident that turned her into a freak may not've been an accident at all, she’s not sure who to trust. Someone wanted her dead, and the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she is to losing not only her heart, but her life. For real this time.



My Review

Once again, Jennifer L Armentrout has written a book that captivated me from beginning to end!  In Cursed, I met and instantly clicked with Ember McWilliams.  Ember is the type of character who feels SO REAL that you can't doubt how genuine she is, and you're at once completely involved in her thoughts, feelings, and her journey.  Once I connected with Ember, I was emotionally invested in what happened to her, and in Cursed.  I couldn't look away, and there were times that I felt exactly what Ember was feeling.  

I think my favorite part of JLA's writing is how amazingly true-to-life her characters seem.  Whether she's writing about a damaged, lost girl (Ember) or a swoon-worthy-yet-flawed guy (Hayden) or the equally gifted-yet-troubled members of his "family," these characters FEEL like teenagers.  They're relatable.  They make choices - good and bad.  Despite what's going on around them, they have their own issues, and that's understandable.  Armentrout's "voice" is flawlessly and seamlessly what it should be; being in Ember's head felt totally realistic.  

Plotwise, Cursed is different from JLA's other novels, because it isn't steeped in mythology, or touching on the extra-terrestrial.  Instead, there is a mythos of another kind, a thoroughly creepy world that Ember slowly realizes is closing in around her.  When she's brought into Hayden's existence and his home, she learns she isn't the only "gifted" person in the world (although she thinks of herself as cursed, hence the title.)  I loved trying to guess what would happen next, as I, like Ember, realized that the stakes were higher than she'd ever imagined, and that there was so much more going on than she'd dreamed.  Cursed just pulses with mystery and danger, as Ember starts to realize she isn't alone, but she also isn't safe.  Like Ember, I never REALLY knew who to trust, or where to turn.  I love a book that keeps me on my toes, and JLA definitely did that with Cursed!

And then there's Hayden!  Ohhh, Hayden.  Along with a cast of secondary characters that I'm anxious to know more about (more Kurt, please!) there is Hayden...this spectacular, amazing guy who sees so much in Ember, and really proves his worth time and time again, as a friend to Ember, and possibly more.  I adored their chemistry, and wanted A LOT more scenes with them.  I loved how tender Hayden is with Ember, and how he brings out the good in her, and slowly helps her see it in herself.  In another book this might have rankled me - I don't really dig the plot of a guy teaching the girl how to "be something," but this was different, because there WAS that deep bond and friendship between Hayden and Ember, and their feelings for one another developed naturally, as Ember learned to trust herself, and her "gift."  

I also loved a lot of the side characters.  I think I've mentioned Kurt.  *coughs*I'll take him*coughs*  I also fell really hard for Olivia, Ember's little sister.  And I'd love to know more about the aloof Parker, and Gabe, who I sort of warmed up to over the course of Cursed.  

I'm definitely hoping Jennifer has a sequel up her sleeve, because all Cursed really did was get me hooked on this new world she's created!  Cursed never lets up on the action, danger, or romance.  If I wasn't guessing, I was holding my breath, or clapping at another awesome exchange between Ember and Hayden, or Ember and one of the side characters.  There's SO much potential for a series, and I hope JLA delivers!  If you want a prime example of why she's becoming one of my favorite authors, look no further than Cursed!

I want to give away not one but TWO ARCs of Cursed to TWO lucky winners! 

 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Review: Over You by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Klaus








Over You by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Klaus
Pages: 304
Expected publication: August 21, 2012 (HarperTeen)
Source: ARC from the publisher
Rating: Beam-worthy
Add it/Purchase: Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Amazon
Connect with the authors: Website | Twitter

___

After the grand explosion of her relationship, seventeen-year-old Max Scott developed what every girl in the history of the world has been waiting for: a way to get over being dumped. Now Max is the go-to guru for heartbroken high-school girls all over NYC. But when her ex unexpectedly shows up in her neighborhood, Max’s carefully controlled world starts to unravel. With her clients’ hearts hanging in the balance, Max will have to do the seemingly impossible: get over him once and for all.

Brilliant at bringing humor to the trials and tribulations of the lovestruck, #1 New York Times bestselling authors Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus have crafted a tale that will resonate with any girl who has ever been in love or had her heart broken. It brims with smart observations, features a pitch-perfect teen voice, and will attract fans of Jenny Han, Sarah Mlynowski, and Lauren Barnholdt. Readers are sure to fall head-over-heels for this sharp spin on breaking up, making up, and getting even.




My Review



Looking back on Over You, what I remember most is how much I laughed!  Co-authors Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Klaus have created a fabulously funny story, which threw me at first, considering this book is about getting over a break-up, which is usually a rather traumatic process.  But then again, not every girl has Max Scott to help her through that grieving process!  I was drawn to Max right away, with her take-charge personality, and all her life and spark.  She was the perfect narrator to carry this light-hearted story, that nonetheless managed to touch my heart!

I fell hard for not only Max, but also for the supporting cast of characters.  I could tell that authors Klaus and McLaughlin took time to develop even the minor characters, which I greatly appreciated!  I had to feel for Bridgett and the others that Max helped, and I found myself genuinely liking Ben, Max's love interest.  Max's best friend Zach was a great character, and a good friend to her, and through him, we got to see a few of Max's walls come down.  Max was such a tough character, but at the same time, she was also so obvious to so many things, including several GOOD things that she had right in front of her. 

I enjoyed the plot of Over You - from seeing inside how Max ran her  business (the appropriately titled Ex Inc), to realizing over the course of this novel that Max, for all she was great at giving advice, wasn't paying attention to her own advice.  I was frustrated with her at times for that, especially when her own ex, Hugo, comes back into her life...but that whole storyline showed that even the strongest of us have our weaknesses, and I was glad to see where that arc ended up taking Max.

Over You has its moments of hilarity, but in the end there were also several moments where I felt keenly the friendship between Max and Zach, and the start of something really awesome between Max and Ben.  Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Klaus have written the perfect story for summer - a definite beach read - about heart-ache, healing, and second chances.  Normally this sort of book might have been too fluffy for my taste, but I did enjoy it for what it was.  My only big gripe is that the point of view changed around too suddenly at several points, and I'm hoping this is just something that was edited out of the ARC, because it often didn't make sense why/when it happened, and that kept me from fully getting into Over You.  And there were definitely a few moments where I sort of had to suspend my disbelief at the way things happened or worked out. 

But definitely check this one out if you're looking for a cute, quick read that will make you smile! 

Other books by these authors:

The Nanny Diaries
Between You and Me

You're sure to fall for:

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill 
The Catastrophic History of You & Me by Jess Rothenberg


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Discussion Post - #7: The Evolution of YA Literature








Discussion Post - 
The Evolution of YA Literature


When I started my blog, I wasn't really sure where I wanted to go with it.  What genres did I want to review?  I knew I wanted to eventually start reading more Paranormal Romance like I had been, catch up with my favorite authors like Lara Adrian and JR Ward.  But at the same time, I had just started really falling in love with young adult literature...again.

However, today's YA is NOT the YA I knew when I was 14, 15, or 16.  YA literature has changed SO much since then, from the book covers to the story lines.  I grew up on a few series that I fell hard for and cherished, spending way too long in the library or reading after school, and because of those authors like Francine Pascal, R.L. Stine, and Anne M. Martin,  I carried my love of reading with me into my teenage years and adulthood.  (SO THANK YOU to those authors!)  

I think the places YA lit has gone in the last five years is AMAZING.  It's been such a well-developed evolution, from lovable books with easily-wrapped up story lines, to these marvelously ADULT books that are stretching everyone's imagination - from teenagers to adults.  YA is often brushed aside as "just for kids," but the truth is, IT ISN'T. YA books of recent years are harder-hitting.  I remember reading the Sweet Valley High books and LOVING the Senior Year series as a teen because it dealt with REAL issues, and asked questions. 

Now, with the success of Twilight and The Hunger Games, not to mention a dozen other series and stand-alone YA novels that have been optioned for films, it's undeniable: YA is one of the hottest selling genres, and with good reason.  I've read 77 books this year, and they've ALL been YA.  From someone who abandoned the YA genre around 16 and didn't come back until I was 24, that just blows my mind.  I NEVER expected to love YA like I do...yet it's happened.  My "top shelf" on my bookshelf- reserved for my FAVORITE books - now boasts several YA novels!  

I've read some YA novels in the last year and a half that touched my heart, made me cry, and HEALED me, in some undefinable way.  YA novels are now incredibly relevant and striking a chord with a great many readers.  From dystopian best-sellers to contemporary heart-wrenchers, young adult literature is breaking through any remaining stereotypes about been a "tween" genre.  The "young adults" so feverishly reading these books are anywhere from 14 - 30 and older, and the most awesome thing?

 We're all coming together over a shared love of books.  

And isn't that magical? 

With how successful YA literature is becoming (and has been!) I don't think the steam will run out of this genre anytime soon.  It's come a long way since the Fear Street series, Sweet Valley High, and The Babysitter's Club books, when YA was just a fun escape.  Now these books GET to you.  They make you think.  They make you question things.  They make you FEEL.  When you walk away from reading a YA book, a TRULY good one, some small part of you is changed in some way.  

The stakes are higher than ever before in YA lit.  The romance is hotter, burns brighter, and is more believable.   There's more action, moral questions, and consequences.  The characters aren't static - they learn and grow over the course of a novel or novels. 

So when did this evolution start?  WHY did it start?  I'm not sure, but I'm glad it did!  What things do you see in the future of young adult literature?  Personally, I think those old walls between "young adult" and "adult" are slowly falling, being chipped away with each awesome new YA book that's released.  Can you see a time when there IS no divider between those genres, or do you think there always will be?  

What are your favorite examples of YA literature, and why?  What are the YA books that have made you feel the most...are are the BEST examples of how far YA lit has come from the "good old days?"  Who would YOU consider a pioneer in YA literature, one of those authors who pushed the envelope and started to break through the barriers and stereotype?