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Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Twins on Thursday: Tides by Betsy Cornwell


"The Twins on Thursday" is reserved for the Twins' joint reviews. It is a special feature of our blog that discusses books that we either both like, dislike, or have mixed feelings about. This is also the day where we post reviews for books (and ARCs/Galleys) that have been sent to us by authors/galley sites/publishing houses. And because we don't believe much in uniformity, we'll be trying to mix things up a bit by adding random stuff in relation to our review (well, mostly for books we purchased anyway).

Title: Tides
Author: Betsy Cornwell
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Publishing House: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN: 9780547927725
Source of Copy: Requested from publisher via NetGalley


When high-school senior Noah Gallagher and his adopted teenage sister, Lo, go to live with their grandmother in her island cottage for the summer, they don't expect much in the way of adventure. Noah has landed a marine biology internship, and Lo wants to draw and paint, perhaps even vanquish her struggles with bulimia. But then things take a dramatic turn for both when Noah mistakenly tries to save a mysterious girl from drowning. This dreamlike, suspenseful story - deftly told from multiple points of view - dives deeply into selkie folklore while examining the fluid nature of love and family.


While staying in their grandmother's house for the summer, Noah and Lo's grandmother tell them stories of selkies. But as enchanting as these stories are, Noah and Lo believe them to be nothing more but stories, mere myth and folklore. Mara, a headstrong young selkie, has been warned against heading onto shore, humans are dangerous and can't be trusted. They're greedy and they want nothing more to get their hands on their precious skins. But when they unwittingly meet, their lives will forever be changed, bound by the intricacies of love and pain and family.

Tides is told in alternating points of view, mostly Noah, Mara and Lo. We're fairly surprised at how well the author managed to shift voices, each character had a distinct voice and there was no trouble getting to know them. Noah is a protective big brother, ambitious and maybe a bit introverted. He loves marine biology and with the opportunity that this summer's internship brings, he's determined to prove himself. Lo is an artist who suffers from bulimia, she thought that her stay in her grandmother's house would be a good thing for her, but it's not really helping and she doesn't really know what to do. Mara is a selkie, she's fascinated by humans and confused by her longing for a friend. She's not supposed to go onto land but she can't help it, the land holds endless curiosities and fascination for her and so when she has free time, she sneaks off towards the shore and she watches. 

The romance was something that caught us off-guard because of how quickly things sped up. As much as Mara found humans interesting, we don't think she was prepared enough when she had a personal encounter with one of them, much less quickly fall for a guy even as sweet and adorkably awkward as Noah. We think the more interesting aspect of the book here was how Cornwell combined different real life issues in the book. Usually, authors only make use of one or two themes to bring the story together. But what Cornwell did was to combine the fresh and unexpected approach to homosexual relationships (which is not as much as falling in love with a gender, as people take it, but just falling for the totality of the person, irregardless of gender), issues centering on body image, unconventional romance. The passion that Noah has for marine biology is truly amazing, and the characters really made us feel like they were actual people, but the problem with Tides is that we felt that there was something lacking about it. 

If you're in a summer resort somewhere or planning your beachside getaway, you might want to check out Tides. It's just in time for the summer vibes because it's light enough for a quick read, and a quick daydream or fantasy about what really lurks beneath the aqua-blue shadows of the deep.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Publishing House: Henry Holt and Co.
ISBN: 9780805094596
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom's magical elite - the Grisha. Could she be the key to unraveling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him. 

But what of Mal, Alina's childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can't she ever quite forget him?

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


With a summary like that, all that I thought of was that it would be heavier on the romance than on the supernatural aspect. What I found, however, was that it was the other way around. Sure there was romance, but not so that I would go as far to call it as the focal point of the book. Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone is more than just a supernatural extraordinaire who happens to be caught between two guys. It has some action, a plot, and some unexpected turns, but you won't catch me gushing over it.

When light bursts from Alina's fingertips, saving them from the deadly Volcra, her world takes a turn for the unexpected. As a cartographer's assistant, Alina has long before accepted the fact that she was no one special, especially not one who may be the Sun Summoner. With her new role in hand, Alina then proceeds to attract all kinds of attention, which puts unequivocal danger right in her path. The Darkling promises to protect her, but Alina has to remember that such a heavy promise must come with the Darkling's own motives...

Alina was okay. I know you're looking for other adjectives for her, but that was it. She was just okay. She had no definite personality, and therefore didn't really make an impression on me, even if I was, you know, supposedly in her head and stuff. As for the Darkling, well, I'm not really a fan. (What's that I hear? Oh yes, the collective scream for my blood from Darkling fans everywhere.) I thought he was really quite shady. If I were Alina, I would have told him what I used to repeatedly tell this math tutor of mine when his leg accidentally touched mine, "Wait. Stop. Stay on your side of the table." Mal was a cutie, but he was hardly anything to write home about. But there was something that I really did find fascinating: the Volcra. (What can I say? I love my monsters.) See, the Volcra used to be human, but because of dark magic, they turned into beasts that have a taste for human flesh.

The romance aspect was there, but hardly something I paid attention to. Surprisingly, I was more interested on how Alina's powers work. I mean, if I had her powers, I would probably play around a bit with it, just for kicks. (Like put it near the water, make a rainbow, that thing, which is another reason why I probably don't have powers, among many others.) I honestly I wanted the action to be all-out exciting to the point that I would be flipping pages faster than my eyes could read. But I didn't feel any of that, because when I got to what was supposed to be the most exciting part of the book. All I thought was, "Good grief, that was it?" Color me disappointed.

While the book may have felt a bit off to me, I will still be looking out for the sequel, Siege and Storm, which comes out in the first week of June 2013.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Twins on "Thursday": The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

"The Twins on Thursday" is reserved for the Twins' joint reviews. It is a special feature of our blog that discusses books that we either both like, dislike, or have mixed feelings about. This is also the day where we post reviews for books (and ARCs/Galleys) that have been sent to us by authors/galley sites/publishing houses. And because we don't believe much in uniformity, we'll be trying to mix things up a bit by adding random stuff in relation to our review (well, mostly for books we purchased anyway).

Title: The Testing
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Publishing House: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
ISBN: 9780547959108
Source of Copy: Received an invitation from publisher via NetGalley


Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn't that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation's chose few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing - their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father's advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies - trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads.)


With the number of dystopian books churned out every month, it's difficult to find one that brings something new to the table. Constant comparisons to The Hunger Games are getting old, and truthfully we're on the lookout for something new, something fresh. The Testing is sadly not one of those books and while we found the concept intriguing, there were gaps in the story that begged to be filled out and parts of it reminiscent of The Hunger Games.

After the Seven Stages War - there was nothing much on this incident, just a few mentions of warfare between countries and then boom, everything has been destroyed - what's left of the population are trying to rebuild and survive. Now of course the children still go to school, they are the future's hope and if they do well enough they are chosen for the Testing and they get to go to University. But it's not as easy as Cia thought, it's not just pen and paper tests, there are also practical exams and actual fieldwork which turns out to be something like a test of survival skills and a candidate's willingness to kill. 

Malencia aka Cia Vale is the main protagonist but we don't really have much to say about her other than she's smart and resourceful. We were indifferent towards her, meaning she didn't really have that much personality, and it seems that Cia seems to be very much favored by Lady Luck. Tomas, her love interest, only spurred distrust and wariness from us. Their blossoming love for each other seemed random and forced, and despite having it stated in the summary that he's her "childhood friend", there doesn't really seem to be a connection between them. The other people Cia and Tomas meet throughout the book seemed just as flat to us, and interchangeable with any of the other characters. The only character that seemed to be worth getting to know was Michal, if only because he is mysterious.

Similarities between the Hunger Games and the Testing are well, the games itself. (Yeah, we're pretty sure we wouldn't last a minute on The Testing.) The Testing is a series of tests that not only values book-smarts but street-smarts as well. Tests range from testing water potability to killing other candidates for survival. In The Testing, the stakes are high and the grounds are rigged. There is no room for mistakes, because the penalty usually results in death.

The world-building fell flat, and there wasn't much of a back story, which we think made the novel seem lacking. All the while, we couldn't help thinking about what happened to the other countries, and if any survived at all. What is the bigger picture for the government, and what is it with those secrets that they are willing to kill to keep? Despite its interesting premise, The Testing falls short of gripping the reader to continue on reading, which is kind of what we were expecting.

Are we willing to give the next book a chance? We're thinking maybe, if only because we're curious as to what happens next and if Lady Luck still proves to be on Cia's side.

The Testing is expected to hit bookstores in June 2013.


Monday, May 20, 2013

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Cold Fury by T.M. Goeglein

Title: Cold Fury
Author: T.M. Goeglein
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: July 24 2012
Publishing House: Putnam Juvenile
ISBN: 9780399257209
Source of Copy: Purchased from National Bookstore


Sara Jane Rispoli has just turned sweet sixteen, but so far, it's anything but sweet. She'd planned to spend this birthday at the spring dance with the handsome Max Kissberg, not being chased and attacked by a masked assassin, dirty cops, and a turncoat uncle. She certainly didn't plan on discovering that her family is deeply embedded in the Chicago Outfit (aka The Mob) or to come home and find them gone.

Now on the run but determined to find her family, Sara JAne fights back with a flame burning in her gut - a deadly cold fury. Though also armed with a .45 and a briefcase full of cash, an old tattered notebook may be her best defense. It holds the ket to "Ultimate Power." It's why she's being pursued, it's why her family was taken away, and it could be the key to saving her life.

Action packed with fresh cinematic writing, Cold Fury is a riveting and imaginative adventure announcing a compelling new voice in YA.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


I was sick when I read this book and I'm actually still sick as I write this review. Despite my ailing state I couldn't help but notice how well crafted Cold Fury is with regards to my initial trepidation.

Sara Jane Rispoli just turned 16 and while some girls get parties or maybe ponies, Sara Jane gets her family taken away from her and finds herself the unwilling and unwitting guardian of a notebook chock full of her family's secrets - most of which she had no clue about whatsoever, like oh her family being deeply enmeshed and highly integral to the Chicago Outfit/the Mob. Sara Jane just wants her family back and with the aid of the notebook, a .45 and a briefcase full of cash, it's time to unleash the full force of her cold fury on those who dared take from her.

Sara Jane is a strong character, emotionally and physically. Sure, she has crying jags and a few breakdowns but she always manages to get back up on her feet, keep a cool head and keep on fighting. She keeps to herself most of the time and refrains from making scenes.  Although there are times where she does act like a normal girl, especially if it's in the vicinity of a cute guy. Kudos to the author for managing to get inside the head of a teenage girl, even one as chill as Sara Jane. If there's one thing my co-blogger and I can't help but appreciate are male authors who manage to portray a very believable female protagonist.  

While it's also true that the first chapters were a bit slow in their pacing, that is in no way detrimental to the overall story. The first chapters give readers a sort of background on the Rispoli  family dynamics and how the protagonist was like before her family was taken away. Seeing how close Sara Jane was to her and how she depended on them for attention and such made her family's abduction and her uncle's betrayal all the more devastating. It was actually really interesting to see how secretive Sara Jane's father really was and how everything was just hiding in plain sight.

I wasn't expecting much on the romance front because really, you're on the run for your life, bad people are out to get you and you're worried about your love life? Yeah, not exactly believable. But what little romance I found in the story - it's very minimal - proved to be undeniably endearing and made me want a happily ever after for Sara Jane. 

I also loved the setting in Cold Fury, the intricate mazes built into the city's underground that serve as escape hatches or passages for transportation of illegal goods, it was interesting seeing a different side to Chicago.

So Cold Fury reads like a movie, action-packed and filled to the brim with mystery and thrills, told in the engaging voice of protagonist Sara Jane Rispoli and provides an interesting take on Chicago's underworld. 


Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Sunday Post #21 + Michelle's 21st Birthday Giveaway

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba over at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. This special post will provide a recap for posts that have been written for the week (May 13 - 18, 2013).




Oh, and...

Michelle's turning 21 this coming May 22, and so we both thought that it would be a grand idea to celebrate that by giving away 2 copies of her favorite book, Jennifer Nielsen's The False Prince (which she reviewed here), plus other goodies! The winner not only gets a hardcover of The False Prince, but also three bottles of OPI nail polishes (colors inspired by the book jacket), stickers from Japan (Michelle's obsessed with them) and candy (YAAYY!). We're also giving away a paperback copy to a lucky "runner-up", along with a bottle of nail polish from The Face Shop (Wheee!) and other goodies as well.

The only catch though, is that it's open to residents of the Philippines only (Sorry, international peeps! Maybe next time :> )

Giveaway starts on May 19, 2013 and ends on May 31, 2013 (GMT+8).

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Twins on Thursday: The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

"The Twins on Thursday" is reserved for the Twins' joint reviews. It is a special feature of our blog that discusses books that we either both like, dislike, or have mixed feelings about. This is also the day where we post reviews for books (and ARCs/Galleys) that have been sent to us by authors/galley sites/publishing houses. And because we don't believe much in uniformity, we'll be trying to mix things up a bit by adding random stuff in relation to our review (well, mostly for books we purchased anyway).

Title: The Book of Broken Hearts
Author: Sarah Ockler
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: May 21, 2013
Publishing House: Simon Pulse
ISBN: 9781442430389
Source of Copy: Requested from publisher via Edelweiss


Jude has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notiorious heartbreakers. She's seen the tears and disasters that dating a Vargas boy can cause, and she swore an oath - with candles and a contract and everything - to never have anything to do with one. 

Now Jude is the only sister still living at home, and she's spending the summer helping her ailing father restore his vintage motorcycle - which means hiring a mechanic to help out. Is it Jude's fault he happens to be cute? And surprisingly sweet? And a Vargas?

Jude tells herself it's strictly business with Emilio. Her sisters will never find out, and Jude can spot those flirty little Vargas tricks a mile away - no way would she fall for them. But Jude's defenses are crumbling, and if history is destined to repeat itself, she's speeding toward some serious heartbreak... unless her sisters were wrong?

Jude may have taken an oath, but she's beginning to think that when it comes to love, some promises might be worth breaking.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


The Book of Broken Hearts, despite initially coming off as a cute and fluffy read, is actually a story about heartbreak, love and loss and family, told in the voice of our smart and sassy protagonist, Jude. 

Jude lives alone with her parents - her sisters have all left to pursue different paths - and it's her last summer before college starts. It's not exactly easy knowing that her father suffers from Alzheimer's and she thinks that they can fight the disease by restoring Valentina, her father's vintage Harley. Her father has so many memories revolving his motorcycle and it's not hard to miss the sparkle in his eyes when he speaks of it and all his times spent on the road. But restoring the Harley means hiring a mechanic and, as fate would have it, that mechanic turns out to be a Vargas. Jude can't help but think that Emilio isn't like his brothers, and maybe, just maybe he's one risk she's willing to take, and do away with a promise that she's truly tempted to break .

Jude is a little sister, the youngest of four, overshadowed by her older siblings. Don't get us wrong, they've always been close. It's just that she's been so used to having her sisters dictate her decisions that she's not exactly sure if the choices she makes are hers and hers alone. It was a treat for us to watch Jude grow as a character. She's a great daughter and is quite close to her dad, who is one of those sweetie biker dads. It was a definite bonus that Jude's a smart and pretty funny girl. The dialogue she makes up in her head for her dog Pancake is quite hilarious and highly entertaining.

Emilio is definitely swoon worthy - he's your typical YA male love interest archetype. He's a bad boy, he's hot, he's got a killer smile and he's a Vargas, known for notorious heartbreakers. But what actually set him apart from other YA male characters is that while he is definitely macho and all, he's got a vulnerable side to him. He's not judgmental, he's not domineering and he seems to really care for Jude which endeared him to us. Yes, his interaction with Jude and her family in general was really sweet and we couldn't help but giggle and root for the couple to quickly get together. Instead of telling you that Emilio cares for Jude, Ockler would rather show you, and this is one of the reasons why The Book of Broken Hearts is such an enjoyable read. It's in the little things, the little details, and we couldn't help but swoon a little every time Emilio made Jude's heart race. 

Sure, it wasn't the summer Jude really had in mind, what with her father having been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and her falling for off-limits Emilio Vargas, but it has definitely proved to be a summer where she finally grows into herself. More than a love story, The Book of Broken Hearts is about a girl who has finally learned to make her own decisions instead of letting others influence her way of thinking. Jude finally learns how to do away with all the biases, and just truly be the person she knew she was all along. 

The abruptness of the end led us to shave 0.5 stars of the rating. The book may have rushed things a bit toward the end, and had us flipping the eBook pages back and forth, going all, "That's it?", probably because we were a little bit invested in the characters and the storyline. 

Recommended for fans of Simone Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry series, Sarah Ockler's The Book of Broken Hearts is filled with swoon-worthy romance, real life issues, perfect for the reader who wants to settle down with a summer read.

The Book of Broken Hearts is expected to hit bookstands on May 21, 2013.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: Greta and the Goblin King by Chloe Jacobs

Title: Greta and the Goblin King
Author: Chloe Jacobs
Format Acquired: Paperback
Publication Date: December 11, 2012
Publishing House: Entangled Teen
ISBN: 9781620610022
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked

While trying to save her brother from a witch's fire four years ago, Greta was thrown in herself, falling through a portal to Mylena, a dangerous world where humans are the enemy and every ogre, ghoul, and goblin has a dark side that comes out with the eclipse.

To survive, Greta has hidden her humanity and taken the job of bounty hunter - and she's good at what she does. So good, she's caught the attention of Mylena's young goblin king, the darkly enticing Isaac, who invades her dreams and undermines her will to escape.

But Greta's not the only one looking to get out of Mylena. An ancient evil knows she's the key to opening the portal, and with the next eclipse mere days away, every bloodthirsty creature in the realm is after her - including Isaac. If Greta fails, she and the lost boys of Mylena will die. If she succeeds, no world will be safe from what follows her back...

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


The moment I received a text message from our favorite book clerk saying that a copy of Greta and the Goblin King had been set aside for me, I just about high-tailed it to the store. I was really intrigued by the premise that it was one of two books that I brought with me on my trip, thinking that I could read it during the flight. I hurriedly took my seat, snapped my seat belt on, and promptly read it with gusto, only to have my interest wane over time. I thought to myself that this couldn't be right. I was really expecting to devour this one, not approach it in the manner you would a spooked animal! (I even cheated on the book a bit and started to read the other paperback I had in tow, only to find out I was not feeling it as well.) So with that little heads-up out of the way, I will then promptly begin my review for Chloe Jacobs' Greta and the Goblin King.

Greta is a seventeen-year-old human stuck in the kingdom of Mylena. Taken under the wing of a sprite-slash-ex-bounty hunter, Greta has become a skilled bounty hunter who will stop at nothing to find the witch and the portal in order to get back to the human world. Greta's true identity has always been a guarded secret, but even her subterfuge gives way when the goblin king Isaac invades her dreams at night, and it's getting hard to tell whether he actually cares for her or has other plans in mind. When rumor of her true parentage spreads like wildfire, every bounty hunter suddenly has their sights set on her. But even when Greta's on the run, trouble doesn't seem to have a hard time finding her. Stumbling across other humans in Mylena, Greta finds out about a side to the supernatural world that's as grim as her future if what she's running towards ends up killing her.

I initially liked Greta and Isaac, thinking that there was something convincing about them, despite finding out for myself that they weren't exactly spending time with each other. Greta reckons that Isaac, as the new goblin king, is an entirely different person, er, goblin, than the one she had meaningful conversations with. But that isn't even the only thing that nagged at me. Greta's frequent insistence that Isaac was playing her was really annoying, and I just find it difficult to continue to like Isaac since I saw for myself how domineering he could be. I mean, the guy already gets into your dreams and gets access to stuff other people are closed off to. But to actually be possessive enough to act all high and mighty and controlling? Uh, no thanks.  Isaac only appeared for a few times in the book as well, so I really found the whole romance quite a bit hard to swallow, especially when the book first and foremost struck me as a paranormal love story. The fact that another love interest, and a human one at that, was thrown into the mix did not sit well with me. The feelings he had for Greta just seemed to have been developed too quick for me to actually appreciate. I'm even chalking up the feelings he had for her to the fact that he hasn't seen a human girl in years!

Greta also said that yes, she was one of the best hunters on land, but her actions really did strike me otherwise. When I first met her, I thought she was pretty good at her job, even if she did kind of need help from the goblin king. Everyone makes mistakes after all, even experienced bounty hunters. But when I figured out that she wasn't exactly graceful at her job and needed a lot of bailing out from other people, I had to check the blurb time and time again to remember that fact. Even Greta makes Celaena Sardothien of Sarah J. Maas' Throne of Glass look downright dangerous, and you know that I'm not a big fan of her clumsiness either.

All the action was a blur - hardly memorable, and equally difficult to focus on. With this plot taking up most of the pages in the book, I then became quite confused as to what the story really wants to present. All I really got was a human girl who wants to go home, a main romantic interest who is almost never around except harassing her in her head when she's supposed to be resting, and an awkward human love interest who helps her on her mission instead of the other way around.

The ending itself was very abrupt and brief, and I still didn't feel like I read a paranormal love story. Greta and the Goblin King had potential too, such a shame.


Monday, May 13, 2013

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Dark Star by Bethany Frenette

Title: Dark Star
Author: Bethany Frenette
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: October 23 2012
Publishing House: Disney Hyperion
ISBN: 9781423146650
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


Audrey Whitticomb has nothing to fear. Her mother is the superhero Morning Star, the most deadly crime fighter in the Twin Cities, so it's hard for Audrey not to feel safe. That is, until she's lured into the night by something human and not human - something with talons and teeth, and a wide scarlet smile.

Now Audrey knows the truth: her mom doesn't fight crime. She fights Harrowers - livid, merciless beings who were trapped Beneath eons ago. Yet some have managed to escape, and they want Audrey dead just because of who she is: one of the Kin.

To survive, Audrey will need to sharpen the powers she as always had. When she gets close to someone, dark corners of the person;s memories become her own, and she sometimes glimpses the future. If Audrey could only get near Patrick Tigue. a powerful Harrower masquerading as a human, she could use her Knowing to discover the Harrower's next move. But Leon, her mother's bossy, infuriatingly attractive sidekick, has other ideas. Lately he won't let Audrey out of his sight.

When an unthinkable betrayal puts Minneapolis in terrible danger, Audrey discovers a wild, untamed power within herself. It may be the key to saving her family and her city. Or it may be the force that destroys everything - and everyone - she loves.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


So the thing that finally persuaded me to read Dark Star was the mention of "superheroes". I'm a sucker for stuff like those - spandex and secret identities, I find them highly amusing - so I definitely could not resist.

Audrey Whitticomb's mother is a superhero, or a Guardian as she'd rather be called. No joke. She thought her mother was just like those heroes in comic books, fighting crime and saving the world from bad guys. What Audrey doesn't really know is that yes, while her mother does fight bad guys, they're just not the ones she had in mind. One fateful night she encounters the things that her mother battles - Harrowers they're called, or demons I suppose - and her world is turned upside down because who knew that things like those actually existed, right?

I liked Audrey, she's an engaging and entertaining character, I couldn't help but love her interaction with Leon, her mother's sidekick. She's smart and witty and she's not afraid of her emotions seeing as how she readily admits that she's scared of those demons and doesn't go the whole I'm-not-scared-of-anything route but she puts on her brave face and big girl pants and faces her fears. Audrey is also curious and that curiosity usually puts her in danger and in the line of fire. Now Audrey isn't like her mother, she isn't a superhero - no super strength, no teleporting abilities - or anything but she does have some sort of psychic powers. She can read people when she gets close enough to them and she can also see glimpses into the future. Little does Audrey know though that she's got a bigger role in the scheme of all things and it's about time she stepped into it.

Now Dark Star's pacing was fine, it was a bit slow at first but then it picked up and kept steady. But what irked me a bit was how at the end I was expecting something epic to happen some big reveal or tell-all or at least fireworks and lots of explosions and action because you know, there was a battle and stuff. It was all kind of anti-climatic really, like everything just fell into place and happened so fast that it was kind of disappointing. Although it was pretty obvious Leon had a thing for Audrey, they're totally adorable together.

If you're in the mood for something fun with decent helpings of adorable romance, entertaining dialogue and superheroes, don't miss out on Dark Star. It's also got murder, mystery and a whole other dimension - literally - built in for added fun and enjoyment.



Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Sunday Post #20 + Stacking the Shelves #25

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba over at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. This special post will provide a recap for posts that have been written for the week (May 6 - 12, 2013)





Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme first initiated by Tynga. This weekly segment will showcase the books/galleys/ARCs we've acquired/purchased/borrowed within the week.

(From left to right)
1. Survive by Alex Morel
2. Break My Heart 1,000 Times by Daniel Waters

(From left to right, top to bottom)

1. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (Check out Nicole's review for that one here)
2. The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey (Previously featured in our WoW)
3. The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson (Previously featured in our WoW)
4. The Obsidian Mirror by Catherine Fisher
5. Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
6. Game by Barry Lyga

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Twins on Thursday: Caged Graves by Dianne Salerni

"The Twins on Thursday" is reserved for the Twins' joint reviews. It is a special feature of our blog that discusses books that we either both like, dislike, or have mixed feelings about. This is also the day where we post reviews for books (and ARCs/Galleys) that have been sent to us by authors/galley sites/publishing houses. And because we don't believe much in uniformity, we'll be trying to mix things up a bit by adding random stuff in relation to our review (well, mostly for books we purchased anyway).

Title: Caged Graves
Author: Dianne Salerni
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: May 14 2013
Publishing House: Clarion Books
ISBN: 9780547868530
Source of Copy: Requested from Publisher


17-year-old Verity Boon epects a warm homecoming when she returns to Catawissa, Pennsylvania, in 1867, pledged to marry a man she has never met. Instead, she finds a father she barely knows and a future husband with whom she apparently has nothing in common. One truly horrifying surprise awaits her: the graves of her mother and aunt are enclosed in iron cages outside the local cemetery. Nobody in town will explain why, but Verity hears rumors of buried treasure and witchcraft. Perhaps the cages were built to keep grave robbers out...or keep the women in. Determined to understand, Verity finds herself in a life-and-death struggle with the people she trusted.

Inspired by a pair of real caged graves in present-day Catawissa, this historical YA novel weaves mystery, romance and action into a suspenseful drama with human greed and passion at its core.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


As fans of historical fiction, it was imperative that we must read this one, thanks to the oh-so-intriguing summary and most importantly, the very idea of caged graves being used in a story! The thought of seeing iron cages around the cemetery is disturbing, but also very, very intriguing. In fact, we were so tickled by the idea that we featured this book before in one of our Waiting on Wednesday posts.

After fifteen years away from Catawissa, Verity Boone finally returns home to meet her estranged father and the fiance she corresponded letters with. It just so happens that her father is standoffish and unsure about how to act around his grown daughter and Nathaniel  is not at all how he seemed like in the letters he sent. But then she comes across her mother's grave with an iron-wrought cage above it and rumor has it that those iron cages have something to do with witchcraft and buried treasure. Verity won't stand for those snide comments and nasty looks , and so she tries to get to the bottom of it all only to find out that her trust may very well lie with the wrong people after all.

Verity Boone is a very likable heroine, the likes of which Catawissa has never seen before. She's a right proper lady but she's no simpering damsel in distress. She's stubborn and determined and trying to get settled into her new life at Catawissa all the while juggling her growing attraction to the town doctor's apprentice, her feelings for her fiance and the whole mystery surrounding the caged graves. Nathaniel, Verity's fiance is an adorable boy. His awkwardness around Verity had us cooing at his preciousness! Verity is very much unlike the other girls in town so he has no idea how to deal with her and his jealous fits. Their romance was undeniably sweet and squeal-worthy, and ultimately had us begging for more scenes.

Admittedly, the love triangle detracted our attention from the actual mystery, but Salerni has managed to fuse the two elements together without either one coming off as too strong.   The intrigue unraveling the caged graves was measured out in careful doses, so there was no information overload of sorts. Salerni's descriptions were enough, but not overly done as we are still given the freedom to let our imagination run wild. 

Dianne Salerni's writing is impeccable and engrossing; from the probability of witchcraft and curses, to the sweet love story that creeps up, and the mystery that surrounds the caged graves, this is an engrossing read and we wouldn't mind picking up our own personal copies.

The Caged Graves comes out in bookstores come May 14, 2013.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: Belonging by Karen Ann Hopkins

Title: Belonging
Author: Karen Ann Hopkins
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: April 30, 2013
Publishing House: Harlequin Teen
ISBN: 9780373210817
Source of Copy: Requested from publisher via NetGalley


I left everything I knew behind.

But it was worth it. He was worth it.

No one thought an ordinary girl like me would last two minutes living with the Amish, not even me. There are a lot more rules and a lot less freedom, and I miss my family and the life I once had. Worst of all, Noah and I aren't even allowed to see each other. Not until I've proven myself.

If I can find a way to make it work, we'll be Noah & Rose

together forever.

But not everybody believes this is where I belong.

(Image, summary and information courtesy of Goodreads)


From where we last left off in Temptation, Rose is convinced that the only way she and Noah can be together no holds barred, would be if she became Amish. With her family convinced that she'll come home running in no time and most of the Amish community of Meadowview believing that it's just a fleeting teenage romance, everyone is sure that Rose is doomed to fail. In Belonging, the sequel to Temptation, bonds will be tested, and difficult questions will be answered. With only love keeping Rose and Noah afloat, will it ever really be enough to keep them together?

Belonging is what I was really expecting the first book to be like. Hopkins takes the next step further by adding plot elements that may sound familiar to television drama aficionados, but let me assure you that it works as the relationship is very fragile and delicate. 

Rose is a very strong character, what with having to endure chores and other things that she didn't even really bother with back when she was home. The upside is seeing Noah, but finding a moment for the two of them seems to be just as difficult, especially since everyone's eyes are on her. Noah is coming off a bit better in this one as well, but I couldn't help but think it's because he got Rose to come over to his side. To some, Rose's family may be a bit harsh for what they've done, but I think it's only natural for any family to be very concerned for her, especially since she's a minor. But what I've observed from Rose is that she sticks to her guns, and even if there are times she doesn't seem to understand what she wants, she somehow has an inkling of it. Hopkins' characters have a bit more depth to them this time around, because while not everyone may be on board with their romance, at least Rose and Noah are forced to face questions that they usually evade. 

There is a scene in Belonging that I find kind of bizarre and over-the-top, so I couldn't bring myself to give this one four stars. But other from that blip, Belonging really explores the circumstances of their situation and Noah finally, FINALLY, gets it that it takes two to tango, and that he shouldn't be leaving everything up to Rose. The novel ends with a surprising twist that has me once again confused whether I am supposed to be happy with the new development or not. Rest assured, however, I am still enthralled by the story, and will be eagerly anticipating the next installment.