Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Book Review: Rush by Eve Silver

Rush (#1 The Game)
by Eve Silver
352 pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: June 11th 2013
Source: ARC from Books Inc in Palo Alto!

So what's the game now? This, or the life I used to know?

When Miki Jones is pulled from her life, pulled through time and space into some kind of game, her farefully controlled life spirals into chaos. In the game, she and a team of other teens are sent on missions to elminite the Drau, terrifying and beautiful alien creatures. There is no practice run, no training, and no way out. Miki has only the guidance of secretive but maddeningly attractive team leader Jackson Tate, hwo says the game isn't really a game, that what Miki and her new teammates do now determins their survival an the survival of every other person on this planet. She laughs. He doesn't. And then the game takes a deadly and terrifying turn...

The first thing that hooked me on Rush was the premise. A mysterious and life threatening game involving aliens and saving the world? I AM ALL FOR THAT.

It's really hard for me to write this review without spoiling anything, so I'm gonna try to keep it simple. First off the premise definitely lived up to my expectations. The Game that Miki has to take part in was just as interesting and unique as I hoped it would be and, despite a few minor world building issues, I felt the whole concept was really well thought out. Honestly, the only issues I had were ones that Miki the protagonist herself had because everything about the game was heavily shrouded in secrecy by "The Committee." I'm hoping we'll find out more about them and The Game in the coming sequels!

As for Miki herself she was a fine protagonist. She wasn't my favorite, but she does earn major brownie points for being part Japanese (HAPA FTW!) and knowing kendo, the Japanese way of the sword. I mean, how cool is that? The only thing that really bugged me about her was the relationship she had with Jackson.

Now I know I'm a romantic cynic and I tend to dislike a lot of romance, but this one was doomed from the get go. I mean, Jackson (the team leader from The Game) is referred to as "maddeningly attractive" in the book summary. Maddeningly attractive? Puhhhhlease. I didn't mind Miki and Jackson as characters, but the romance between them felt so unnecessary and yet it was a huge part of the book. Why must romance always be so important, even in sci-fi type novels? Personally, I wanted more about other aspects of the story like the AWESOME ALIENS!

I've never been a big fan of aliens (mostly because they tend to end up super dorky and "little green man" martian like), but the Drau were admittedly freaking awesome. I mean they were SO creepy guys. So creepy. I'd love to say more, but if I do I'll be giving away way too much information. You'll just have to read it for yourself. ;)

Rush is a great start to this new series! The premise is great, the aliens are creepy, and the secrecy of it all has definitely got me hooked. Plus: MAJOR CLIFFHANGER. Well played Eve Silver, well played. I suggest this one to anybody who likes sci-fi, unique premises, and action!

I really hope that when Rush is published it's cover is made shiny and reflective. Does it not just look like the perfect candidate for a shiny/reflective book cover? PLEASE KATHERINE TEGEN BOOKS GIVE RUSH A SHINY COVER!!!

I've got an ARC giveaway going on right now for a copy of Rush, so if you want it you can enter here!

Julia :)

Monday, April 29, 2013

ARC Giveaway: Rush by Eve Silver

I was lucky enough to get my hands on an ARC of Rush by Eve Silver (thanks Anna!) and now that I've had the chance to read it, I want to give that chance to another lucky individual! You can check out my review of Rush here and then enter to win the ARC below.

by Eve Silver
Release Date: June 11th 2013 from Katherine Tegen Books
Add it to your shelf on Goodreads!
So what's the game now? This, or the life I used to know?

When Miki Jones is pulled form her life, pulled through time and space into some kind of game, her carefully controlled life spirals into chaos. In the game, she and a team of other teens are sent on missions to eliminate the Drau, terrifying and beautiful alien creatures. There is no practice run, no training, and no way out. Miki has only the guidance of secretive but maddenly attractive team leader Jackson Tate, who says the game isn't really a game, that what Miki and her new teammates do now determines their survival and the survival of every other person on this planet. She laughs. He doesn't. And then the game takes a deadly and terrifying turn.

As long as you are a resident of the US you are eligible to win. Just use the easy peasy rafflecopter form below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, make sure that the email you use to sign in with Rafflecopter (either through Facebook, or your Rafflecopter account) is an email you actually check. I always send out my giveaway notifications to the email that Rafflecopter provides me, and lately I've been having a lot of people either not receive the email, or not respond and I'm not sure if this is because they aren't checking their email, or if the email is going to spam. Either way, if you're the first person that Rafflecopter randomly selects as the winner I want you to be able to enjoy the book. I just feel really bad picking new winners and then having the old winners contacting me weeks later saying they never found out they won till it was too late. It's so sad! SO CHECK YOUR EMAIL. Oh and your twitter accounts too, because if you enter through Twitter I'll likely tag you in a tweet letting you know you've won.

Julia :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Alternate Realities are EVERYWHERE!

There are always new trends popping up in YA. Back in the late 2000's, thanks to the popularity of Twilight, paranormal romance became the new "it" genre and was it everywhere. In fact, I'm pretty sure the entire YA section of Barnes & Noble and Borders (back when there was Borders. *sniff sniff*) got taken over by paranormal romance books.

Yep, that looks about right.

Then of course came the rise of the dystopian novel due to The Hunger Games and its huge surge of popularity. Back in the day I could count the number of YA dystopian novels I had read on one hand. Not so anymore.

Of course dystopian novels are still getting prime real estate on bookstore shelves thanks to at least 2 more years of Hunger Games craziness, but I'm beginning to wonder what's gonna be the next "it" genre to hit the YA scene. A couple years back everyone thought it was gonna be zombies, and while zombies are quite popular in YA these days (hello Rot and Ruin and This Is Not a Test!) they certainly aren't as prevalent as dystopian novels or paranormal romance. I've also read a lot of people speculating that "sick-lit" (like The Fault In Our Stars) is gonna be taking the YA world by storm.

Well, I've noticed a new trend that no one seems to have mentioned yet. A trend that is everywhere. What is it?

Alternate realities.

Now you may be thinking that alternate realities isn't really something you could call a genre, and you're right, but the topic is still super popular right now. Don't believe me? Allow me to list some examples.

June 11th 2013 from Katherine Tegen Books

In this book, a girl gets pulled into an alternate reality to play a game where she fights against aliens for the future of earth.

Undercurrent by Paul Blackwell
July 23rd 2013 from HarperTeen

In this one, a guy wakes up in the hospital after falling off a waterfall only to discover that he is suddenly in what seems to be some sort of alternate reality of his old life!

Parallel by Lauren Miller
May 14th 2013 from HarperTeen

This book is about a girl who wishes that she could rewind her life, and then she magically wakes up the next day in a new alternate reality.

In this sequel to Unraveling (which I still haven't read yet even though I really want to) the protagonist has to stop a bunch of human traffickers from an alternate dimension.

And if those examples aren't enough, Kimberley Derting just announced that she got a book deal for a new series in which the protagonist falls asleep, and wakes up 5 years later with everything about her old life gone, even though she remains the same. ALTERNATE REALITY STRIKES AGAIN. 


Now, I honestly do not think that alternate realities is the new "it" genre. Technically you could call anything with a vaguely different reality an alternate reality book (ala Harry Potter and the wizard world or Percy Jackson and Olympus). It's such a broad term. However, I do find the sudden surge in alternate reality books interesting, especially since a lot of them have to do with characters dying (or almost dying) and then waking up in a different reality. I feel like there needs to be a special name for this specific trend. The After Death Reality? Ideas anyone?

Do you guys know of anymore alternate reality books that I missed? What do you think of this new trend? Love it? Hate it? If you could wake up one day and live in a new alternate reality what reality would you choose? 

Personally, I would pick either Narnia or Middle Earth. I just really want to live in Hobbiton.

Julia :)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Book Review: Level 2

Level 2
by Lenore Appelhans
281 pages
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: January 15th 2013
Source: Purchased
Add this book to your shelf on Goodreads
Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow prisoners, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she's lost - family, friends, and the boy she loved, Neil.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber disappears, and nobody but Felicia seems to recall she existed in the first place. Something is obviously very wrong. When Julian - a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life - comes to offer Felicia a way out, she learns the truth: A rebellion is brewing to overthrow the Morati, the guardians of Level 2.

Felicia is reluctant to trust Julian, but then he promises what she wants the most - to be with Neil again - if only she'll join the rebels. Suspended between heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself in the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it's not just her own redemption at stake... but the salvation of mankind.

I really hate to say this, but Level 2 was a huge disappointment for me. Huge. I think it goes without saying that we shouldn't build up an idea of how great a book is going to be before we read it because then we're almost sure to be disappointed. Well, that's what happened with Level 2 and it totally backfired.

Felicia died and is now stuck in Level 2, which is basically, for lack of a better example, purgatory. She spends all her time reliving old memories and longing to reconnect with Neil, her boyfriend from her old life. All that changes when Julian shows up, a boy from Felicia's past who she would rather forget. But why is Julian here? And why is it up to Felicia to save mankind?

Part of the reason why I thought Level 2 was gonna be such a great book is because the idea behind it is brilliant. An afterlife where people exchange memories like currency? Way cool! Unfortunately, the execution and world building were not at all what I expected. Instead of being futuristic and awesome everything turned out to be, well, boring. People sat around in these pods in their "hives" and it all came off as extremely sterile and white and hospital room-esque. I did NOT like it at all. In fact, most of the intriguing stuff happened outside of the pods in Felicia's memories which would be, you guessed it, in our world.

Which brings me to one of the reasons why this book did not hit home for me. It's really not an adventure/thriller/afterlife dystopia so much as it's a contemporary novel disguised as an adventure/thriller/afterlife dystopia. A huge chunk of the book is Felicia reliving memories of her and Neil which are honestly not that interesting and they don't even seem to push the plot along.

As for the plot, I'm still a bit confused as to what the plot was about. I mean yes, it was obviously Felicia pining after Neil and then getting grabbed by Julian to help "save mankind" but somewhere between "I love Neil" and "stop the Morati" I got totally lost. I'm not sure if maybe my reading comprehension was going down the tubes, or maybe I just missed something, but I was so, so confused.

It's possible that I didn't enjoy Level 2 simply because it wasn't the book I wanted it to be. I was expecting an exciting adventure story, and instead it turned out to be a personal drama with some evil angels thrown in. Maybe if I hadn't already built it up in my mind, I would have been able to enjoy it for what it was, but I couldn't help thinking throughout the book that if the idea behind it was executed differently it could have been so much better.

I'd still recommend Level 2 to people who might be interested in a contemporary novel with an otherworldly twist. As for reading the sequel I'm not sure if I will or not. Level 2 seemed to have a pretty definitive ending (am I wrong? Did I miss something?) so I feel like I won't be missing out on too much if I don't continue. However, if people rave about the sequel and really push me to read it I'll probably give it a chance. I'm all for second chances!

Julia :)

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Hey guys!

So I know I've been super MIA lately, but I should be back to regular posts now that my online class is over. YES. College really sucks your time away guys. Enjoy freedom while it lasts all you middle schoolers/high schoolers. :P

Now, you're probably wondering whose autograph I managed to snag. SUZANNE COLLINS GUYS. I GOT SUZANNE COLLIN'S AUTOGRAPH. SHE SIGNED MY COPY OF THE HUNGER GAMES.


Okay, enough of the caps lock. I'm just really excited. If you want to hear the story of how I got Suzanne Collin's autograph just skip ahead to around 7 minutes in my book haul vlog below. Or, you know, just watch the whole thing and it'll get there eventually. :)

Shades of Earth by Beth Revis
Lovely, Dark, and Deep by Amy McNamara
Every Day by David Levithan
Sever by Lauren DeStefano
The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

For Review
Rush by Eve Silver
Parallel by Lauren Miller
Undercurrent by Paul Blackwell
Born of Illusion by Teri Brown

Thanks to Anna from Literary Explorations and the lovely people of Books Inc. for all these great ARC's!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins ~ AUTOGRAPHED!

Hopefully I'll be able to be more regular with my posts guys. On top of that I'll be having some great giveaways for the ARC's I listed above once I've finished reading them! I'm reading Rush right now (and really enjoying it) so that will probably be the first one to get given away. Whose excited?

What books have you purchased/borrowed/been given for review lately? Link me to your posts so I can check them out!

Julia :)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Book Review: The Forsaken

The Forsaken
by Lisa M. Stasse
375 pages
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: July 10th 2012
Source: Library
Add this book to your shelf on Goodreads
Alenna Shawcross hasn't seen her parents since they were dragged out of her house by government soldiers of the UNA, a new nation formed from the remnants of Canada, the USA, and Mexico. And now as a sixteen-year-old orphan, she has failed a government personality test designed to diagnose subversive tendencies.

As punishment, Alenna is banished to the wheel, a mysterious island where all the kids who fail get sent. A place where the conditions are brutal, and civil war rages between two very different tribes of teenagers.

So when Alenna meets Liam, a charismatic warrior who is planning to escape, she must find the strength to make a difficult decision: to either accept her new life on the wheel, or to embark on a journey that will uncover shocking secrets abou the UNA - and her own identity as well.

I wanted to like this book. I really, REALLY wanted to like it. Mostly for the superficial reason that it's probably got my favorite book cover ever (but no really, I LOVE this book cover) but also because I held a slightly deluded hope that this would not be a bandwagoning dystopian novel. Not to say that The Forsaken is a bandwagoning dystopian novel, but just that it really doesn't bring anything new or exciting to the table. :/

Like every dystopian novel, the protagonist, Alenna, lives in a world completely different from our own. In this case, its a world in which Mexico, Canada, and the USA have banded together to form a new nation called the UNA. In this new nation all sixteen-year-olds are given a shot that apparently tests to find out if they have any sort of potentially dangerous tendencies. Alenna gets this shot and, surprise, surprise, she fails. This sends Alenna to the wheel, a world filled with both sane and insane teenagers. Danger, intrigue, and of course, love, ensues.

The main problem I found in The Forsaken is that it pulled me in right away, but ultimately it just didn't have enough ingenuity to keep me fully invested. Teenagers getting sent to remote islands? Already been done. Teenagers fighting each other at said islands? Definitely been done. And why is it that in a dystopian world sixteen is always the magic age where adulthood happens and you make some huge life decision or you get an operation or a medical test is performed on you? I JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND.

The story itself wasn't bad, just extremely overdone. If The Forsaken had come out two years ago I would have been all over this book like ants at a picnic, but the fact that it's out now sort of diminishes its shine so to speak. It has the same teenager on teenager violence that a lot of dystopians have, along with "unexpected" reveals, and of course, romance. Oh the romance.

Honestly, the romance is part of what killed it for me, because while it was not a love triangle (THANK GOD FOR THAT) it was really underdeveloped. Alenna and Liam fall in love simply because they have a "connection" when they first see each other?!?! Nope. Not buying it. NOT BUYING IT AT ALL.

I did like a few of the characters. Gadya in particular was a total BADASS and deserved much more credit than she got. Girl should not have been portrayed as a jealous bitch for most of the book. *shakes head*

Overall, The Forsaken was an okay dystopian novel. The world building was disappointing (if whether or not you like a dystopian hinges on world building I'd definitely skip this one) and the plot was nothing to write home about, but there were a few clever twists and I will admit that it was a page turner. I might not have cared too much about the characters, but I did want to find out where they were going and what was going to happen to them. If you normally enjoy dystopians I'd give it a read, but otherwise I'd probably skip it.

I'm not totally sure if I'll read the sequel yet, but it's cover is certainly screaming READ ME! READ ME!!!!

I may not be the biggest fan of these books, but damn do they have some good covers!

Julia :)
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