Saturday, December 31, 2011

Review: Ashes, Ashes

Ashes, Ashes

Author: Jo Treggiari
Pages: 341
Publisher: Scholastic
Source: Library
Synopsis: A thrilling tale of adventure, romance, and one girl's unyielding courage through the darkest of nightmares. 

Epidemics, floods, droughts--for sixteen-year-old Lucy, the end of the world came and went, taking 99% of the population with it. As the weather continues to rage out of control, and Sweepers clean the streets of plague victims, Lucy survives alone in the wilds of Central Park. But when she's rescued from a pack of hunting dogs by a mysterious boy named Aidan, she reluctantly realizes she can't continue on her own. She joins his band of survivors, yet, a new danger awaits her: the Sweepers are looking for her. There's something special about Lucy, and they will stop at nothing to have her.

Buy the Book (The Book Depository/Amazon)

Ashes, Ashes is the story of a post-apocalyptic world in which a girl named Lucy is trying to survive. I had very high expectations for this book but even though there was potential, the story didn't appeal to me.

Lucy was a survivor. She was temperamental but hardworking. She was very independent and though I usually like these characteristics in a character, I didn't really connect with Lucy. After finishing Ashes Ashes the characters don't seem very fleshed out to me. They remain a bit of a mystery and because I never really found a character I could relate to the story fell flat.

Most of the book was about descriptions and the world. Lucy explained everything early on about how the world became so bad. There were many grim descriptions of her lifestyle and it was a bit scary. However I'm not much into descriptions so that also factored into my enjoyment. Though Ashes Ashes is a decently long book I don't feel like much happened in the story. The good thing was that the mood Jo Treggiari was trying to give the readers was clearly felt.

The plot was interesting in the sense that I had no idea what was going to happen next. Though the ending was a bit predictable, the story had me caring enough to continue until the end. There were parts that were slow and parts that were full of action so I guess that means it was moderately paced. I didn't like the direction the story went in the end though. I was hoping for more to happen, bigger twists.

Other reasons I kept reading was that I was interested to see how the people could survive at such a time. The commune and the dynamics were vastly interesting to me. That part was very realistic.

All in all, Ashes Ashes was a story of survival set in the backdrop of a crumbling post-apocalyptic world. It was a good read. 3 stars,


Friday, December 30, 2011

Stats of 2011

I love visiting other blogs and reading about the different stats they had so I'll share some of mine as the year draws to a close.

Most Popular Posts

1. Cover Wars: Incarnate vs Exiled 
2. Review: Far From the War
3. Review: Seize the Story: A Handbook For Teens Who Like to Write

Most Referring Sites (besides Google)


Search Keywords

1. tantalizing illusions
3. charmfall chloe neill

Countries Audience is From

1. United States
2. Canada
3. Germany
4. United Kingdom
5. Australia


1. Internet Explorer (33%)
2. Firefox (29%)
3. Chrome (21%)

Hope you guys found that interesting. Here's to 2012 having even better stats! Happy New Years!

Follow Friday

I thought I'd get my bunny on and try some blog hops. I haven't done them in forever! Welcome to Tantalizing Illusions everyone!

Follow My Book Blog Friday

Hosted by Parajunkee and Alison, this blog hop is all about following. Visit as many blogs as you can and share the following love. Remember to follow the featured blogs, Ex Libris and Kristin Can Read

Q: The New Year is here — and everyone wants to know your New Years Blogging Resolution! What are you going to try to revise, revamp and redo for 2012 on your blog?

Oh yes, the New Year... is tomorrow?! Where the heck did 2011 go? Anyway, my resolutions that I'm making up right now on the spot are:

First to always have a fresh blog design since I find that changing the design every few months does a lot for my blog. It makes me feel all excited and when I'm excited, I tend to post more which leads to my next resolution.

Consistent posting is something I want to work on. I have so many great reviews to post and I have great ideas for features I want to include but I have trouble getting all that on my blog. Not anymore. I resolve to have much more quality filled posts here at Tantalizing Illusions.

Marketing... ouch. I need to interact with fellow bloggers more. It's not enough to do a post and then comment on someone else's post and call it a day. Nope, I'm going to work harder at the Twitter thing, comment a bunch of times, and be a more social Goodreads member.

So those are my resolutions, what are yours?

Thank you all for visiting Tantalizing Illusions and happy New Year! Feel free to comment and link to your blog, I'd love to visit.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review: Starcrossed

Starcrossed (Starcrossed, #1)

Author: Josephine Angelini
Pages: 487
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Library
Challenge: Debut Author Challenge
Synopsis: How do you defy destiny? 

 Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it's getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she's haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they're destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history. 

 As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.

Buy the Book (The Book Depository/Amazon)

Starcrossed was a fun, great read! Wow it really sped up in the end. There were so many twists and new characters that I can't wait to see what happens next.

The story is written mostly about Helen but some chapters it alternates to other characters so we can better understand what's happening. Helen was an awkward girl, always hiding because she didn't want to stand out. She was different but she didn't want anyone to notice. Different in what sense Helen doesn't discover until she tries to kill one of the new hot boys in school, Lucas Delos. She has this hatred for him that she can't understand. Way to begin a romance, eh?

Helen has never hated someone like Lucas and it's driving her insane. I have to say this was such a cool idea. Hate turning into love isn't a new idea but the way it was done was new. Helen was so shocked with her behaviour I felt awful for her. Poor girl. She thought she was going insane. Whatever the case, I really liked Helen and her friend Claire (who's way too awesome of a character).

Helen and Lucas's love is troubled and unfair. They can't be together for so many reasons that I hated the world on their behalf. I love Lucas who was a genuinely good guy from the moment Helen met him. (Yeah, I was convinced at that scene.) The romance was angst-ridden (I want her but no, I can't be with her!) for a reason. Forbidden love is just the beginning. Despite all that I still have hope for our star-crossed lovers.

Now, on to the best part of the book, the mythology. Greek in a totally new way. Have I ever said how much I love Greek mythology? There's so many family feuds and bloodshed. Josephine Angelini marvelously blended well known mythology with unique ideas to create her own story. The magical aspect appealed to me entirely. Learning about Helen's powers was fun and I was surprised and proud of Helen every moment of it.

Starcrossed was so much fun to read, I'm not even sure about how I felt of the pacing. I loved the length of the book and meeting all the new characters. Helen's life was so entertaining and this series has so major twists that I did not expect. Overall it was really well done and there's so much potential. This book is my kind of book and I can not wait for more. Soon. 4.5 stars,

**** & 1/2 *

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ebooks Are Welcome!!

With the addition of my pretty white and lilac Kobo Touch, I am now officially accepting e-books for review. Not too many though since I still am not 100% sure how to use my Christmas present, but if it works for Kobo I'll be happy to consider it. For information, my review policy is a great place to check out all my preferences.

P.S. Anyone know where I can get some awesome deals with Kobo?

Cover Wars: The Selection vs. The Golden Lily

Cover Wars is an awesome little feature done here at Tantalizing Illusions all about beautiful and amazing covers. Basically, this is a way to appreciate covers by voting for your favourite. There's always a a Defender which is last week's winner. They will defend their position against the Challenger.

Last uh, week, was the battle of Cover Wars Superstar Exiled against The Selection. It was quite the battle but The Selection won making it this week's Defender. Can The Selection defend it's spot against Richelle Mead's The Golden Lily? Stick around to find out as The Golden Lily challenges The Selection.

The Selection (The Selection, #1)vsThe Golden Lily (Bloodlines, #2)

I'm actually super excited for this battle because I can tell it's going to be close. Both covers feature girls hiding their faces in a way, the titles are in super cool font, and they both use their theme colours so well. Which cover works for you?

Now comes the hard part. Voting time! Vote for your favourite cover on the sidebar to the right to support it. Feel free to share why you picked whichever cover in the comments, or any cover related thoughts.

Thanks for stopping by! For more exciting Cover Wars, check out The Book Faery's Cover Wars. Have a great Wednesday and remember to vote!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Review: Haunting Violet

Haunting Violet

Author: Alyxandra Harvey
Pages: 342
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Source: Library
Synopsis: Violet Willoughby doesn't believe in ghosts. But they believe in her. After spending years participating in her mother's elaborate ruse as a fraudulent medium, Violet is about as skeptical as they come in all matters supernatural. Now that she is being visited by a very persistent ghost, one who suffered a violent death, Violet can no longer ignore her unique ability. She must figure out what this ghost is trying to communicate, and quickly because the killer is still on the loose. 

 Afraid of ruining her chance to escape her mother's scheming through an advantageous marriage, Violet must keep her ability secret. The only person who can help her is Colin, a friend she's known since childhood, and whom she has grown to love. He understands the true Violet, but helping her on this path means they might never be together. Can Violet find a way to help this ghost without ruining her own chance at a future free of lies?

Buy the Book (The Book Depository/Amazon)

I'll admit I'm regularly not too fond of ghost stories. I usually find they follow a similar format but I actually enjoyed Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey. She's a great author who has a knack for making unique and entertaining stories involving the supernatural.

Violet is the daughter of a Spiritualist. Her mom can't really see ghosts though. She cons people using a variety of tricks and Violet is sick of it. Violet's situation is unique. Usually when we read about the late 19th century it's all about the debutantes attending fancy balls or young maids who accumulate wealth somehow. I've never read the story of a Spiritualist before so I was amused while reading Haunting Violet. The book takes a well known concept like ghosts and make it its own.

Violet is a relatable character. She's nice but independent. She doesn't want to be like her mother and take pleasure in conning poor grieving families. She likes Colin but she knows that there's not a huge chance of it working out. Her friendship with Elizabeth is fun and I admire her love of books. Overall a good MC.

The pacing of the story is good. I wouldn't call it fast paced but it wasn't slow either. You'll be entertained of reading about Violet and the suspense is also evident as you try to solve the mystery. I honestly had no clue who could have hurt poor Rowena so the end was well done and interesting.

All in all, Haunting Violet is a great summer read. It has enough romance, paranormal, and history to appeal to fans of all three genres. You'll be swept away by the story until the last page. 4 stars,


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Review: Dearly Departed

Dearly, Departed (Gone With the Respiration, #1)

Author: Lia Habel
Pages: 470
Publisher: Del Rey
Source: Bookurious, for review (Thank you!)
Challenge: Debut Author Challenge
Synopsis: Love can never die. 

 Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie? 

 The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. 
For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses. 

 But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire. 

 In Dearly, Departed, romance meets walking-dead thriller, spawning a madly imaginative novel of rip-roaring adventure, spine-tingling suspense, and macabre comedy that forever redefines the concept of undying love.

Buy the Book (The Book Depository/Amazon)

Lia Habel, you're a genius. Seriously, I can not get over how awesome Dearly Departed is. It's this fusion of dystopia, history, paranormal and it totally works! When you read the premise you're probably thinking the idea is crazy, but you're also wondering if she can pull it off. I thought she did!

First, I want to say I think zombies are disgusting. Walking corpses, slowly rotting. It's unappealing to me, so while I'm sure they're all pretty good people I would not go near one. Ever. Miss Lia Habel challenged that. For the first time ever, I fell for a zombie. I'm still grossed out, but I love Bram and the crew. They didn't ask to be undead and they're clever, kind, and just the kind of people I admire.

You know those zombie books where the zombies have taken over and the humans are barely surviving? That was not Dearly Departed. The concept was so original that it deserves a genre of its own. The plot always felt like something I've never seen before was happening. It was action packed, and full of questions. Best of all it ends in a way that is satisfying. No cliffhangers or anything like that though there is indication that there is more to come.

The characters were all relatable and though some may appear weak in the beginning, they all had hidden strengths. I had a huge grin on my face after reading some scenes. The best part is that there are multiple perspectives. I've noticed either people hate that or love it. I love it; it shows much more character development and the story is often more complex and intricate when that happens. I loved being in other character's minds and seeing their part of the story and the action. It really made me relate to them all.

This review is kind of all over the place and I apologize for that. It's just that Dearly Departed is such a complicated, healthy sized book with a lot happening. I'm sure there's at least one character or storyline that will interest someone. There is sweet, taking it slow romance, (finally!!!) military level action, and great, lovable characters. The writing is pretty awesome too- it always left me hungry for more and I found the book very readable.

If you're looking for a book that has it all, look no further than Dearly Departed. I love this book and this is one of those series I'll be most excited to read of more in 2012. Definitely 5 stars,


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Review: Sliding Beneath the Surface

Sliding Beneath the Surface (The St. Augustine Trilogy: Book I)

Author: Doug Dillon
Pages: 294
Publisher: Old St. Augustine Publications
Source: Review copy- Thank you very much!
Synopsis: Just as Jeff Golden is about to start classes at St. Augustine High, he finds himself up to his eyeballs in paranormal experiences that are rooted in one of Floridas most important historical events. Scared out of his wits, he relies on his friend, Carla Rodriguez, and Lobo, an old Native American shaman, for help. Despite this guidance, things get even worse, making Jeff realize he is in danger of losing his sanity and even his life. Finally, forces he doesnt fully understand push him to leap headlong into the unknown in order to save himself. In doing so though, Jeff risks something even more valuable to him than his own existence.

Buy the Book (The Book Depository/Amazon)

Sliding Beneath the Surface was one of those books that was super hard to review. There are so many mixed feelings I have about it but ultimately I think it's a great story that needs a bit more work.

The story features a bit of everything: romance, time travel, ghosts, shamans, OBE, history, and more. There's a lot being set up and it's no wonder the entire book takes place in about a day. It's a very busy day though and there is honestly so many paranormal experiences that I was left reeling and confused- about the same way as the main character, Jeff. I couldn't get a clear picture of some events because often, Jeff told the reader he couldn't understand how to begin to describe them. That's okay though- I followed the overall plot.

Jeffrey Golden was our MC. He's the kind of smart, manipulative guy that doesn't say much in class. He's friends with Carla, a girl he obviously has feelings for. Carla is a feisty history buff and she is not afraid to argue. Neither is Jeff, with his fast temper. The next most important character is Lobo, Carla's infuriating shaman neighbor who may be the only one that can help Jeff. Lobo is that character who is kind of mean, but obviously wise and good at heart albeit his tough exterior. I didn't overly connect with the characters but I did appreciate how unique each character was. I loved that they all had different ethnicities. We need more of that in YA.

The thing that threw me off about this book was the writing- mainly Jeff's POV.

It was written in third person and like Jeff was recounting it to the reader. That's a unique style, but what didn't work for me was the constant mentions to the reader. There were often questions (of the rhetorical kind) or simply a "you know" at the end of the sentence. This is very strong character voice which is usually good but it wasn't good for my personal reading experience because I'd often stop reading the story because I'd be focusing so much on the words. A perfect book would have writing that is beautiful but fades into the background so that you can picture everything that is happening. This is something that really affects my reading, though I'm not sure how much of an impact it will have on others. I've seen other people have no problem with the writing so it may be a me-thing.

The two other things about the writing I noticed was that there was a lot of telling, especially in the beginning. A bit more showing would have been more fun. Also, I did notice there were some small errors in the book, things like missing/extra apostrophes, missing words, little errors like that. They didn't hugely impact my reading but they kind of made me think that this novel needs a bit more work. I'm not sure if they'll be later edited or something.

All in all, Sliding Beneath the Surface demonstrates great ideas and is completely different from mainstream YA. I think that it needs a bit more work though to let the gem of a story shine through. This is just my personal opinion though. I have no clue what to give this book for a star rating. There were aspects done really well, and there were other parts I didn't care for as much. 3 stars seems the most right though, since I liked the book.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Non-Bookish Interests (1) : Hockey

OMG. Is it even possible? P.E. does things that do not involve books, blogging or reading? Yes, yes, it's true. I love reading but books aren't my entire life. There is more to me than that. That's why for the next while, every week I'll be posting about something that does not include books but is a part of my life. This way, you'll know the blogger behind the blog. Plus, I get to rant tell you all about my interests. It's a win/win situation.

So. Me.

You know I'm a Canadian right? And what do Canadians love? Let's go down the list.

- beavers
- maple syrup
- poutine
- hockey
- tuques

Wait a minute. Go back up. Hockey. That is one of my biggest current interests. Yes, this tiny bookish girl is a closet hockey addict.

It all started in Grade 2 when the giant Ottawa Senator's mascot, Spartacat visited my class because we won some reading thing. We had a pizza day, they gave out Senators binders, and everyone dressed up to show their Senators pride. Grade 2 me had a lot of fun and since then I've always liked the Senators.

When I saw my dad watching hockey, I started to sit and watch with him. It's one of the few interests we have in common.

 And that brings me to today. I now love hockey even more and I'm starting to understand it. I love to watch the Senators play though it doesn't bother me at all whether they win or lose. The way they play is so highly entertaining. 

Nothing is as addicting and thrilling as a hockey game. I always find myself so energized after a game. Especially a close game, or a game that is just plain fun to watch. If you know even a little bit about the Senators, you'll know they fight to the end, so they end up with many close games.This makes for highly entertaining games as everyone plays all out. 

For example, that last game against the Pittsburgh Penguins? I had the biggest grin on my face and I was jumping up and down the whole time. (If you want a recap of game highlights, check it out here!)

That's my first interest. Watching hockey. I'm trying to get lessons so I can learn how to play myself. It's my favourite sport and a high speed, high energy game. I love it!

So how about your interests? Do you love to watch a particular sport? Do you play one? Are you a fellow hockey fan? If so, what team? Let me know it all in the comments!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Book Trailers: The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers, Eternal Starling, You Against Me

Once again, I'm posting some pretty awesome trailers I found! The first is for The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers. The trailer looks great, as does the book. WOW! I can't wait to read this book.

This next trailer just makes me want the book. Now. The premise sounds amazing if it's done well and I am so curious and I just know I need to read it. Enjoy the trailer for Eternal Starling!

Last book trailer for today is of You Against Me. I've been seeing this book everywhere and frankly, I'm super psyched. I really want to read it and I think the plot sounds emotional and gritty, and I'm ready for the ride!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset

The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles, #1)

Author: Kady Cross
Pages: 473
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: Library
Challenge: Debut Author Challenge
Synopsis: In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one except the "thing" inside her. 

When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch... 

 Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special, says she's one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits. Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret. 

 Griffin's investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help-and finally be a part of something, finally fit in. 

 But The Machinist wants to tear Griff's little company of strays apart, and it isn't long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she's on, even if it seems no one believes her.

The Girl in the Steel Corset is probably one of my favourite books of the year. The story, characters and plot appeal to me in every way.

The story was written in alternating perspectives which I'm now realizing how much I love. It's great to know what's going on from the mind of numerous characters. It also means the plot is more elaborate and more is happening, which I adore. By the end of the book which I practically flew through, I had a good understanding of all the characters and I at least liked most of them. The cast of colorful characters in The Girl in the Steel Corset was a huge part of the reason why I loved this book so much.

Now as to the characters... Meet Finley, a sweet but rather untrusting girl that has a dark counterpart who's starting to break free. I was so fascinated by her and I don't think I'll forget her. Totally rooting for her. Then there's Griffin, righteous, clever, confident Griffin. He's a very unique character, unlike any other YA boy I've read of. He has this way of getting exactly what he wants while being charming at the same time. Can't help but love him. Next there's Jack the criminal who's sweet to Finley... But there's definite darkness and danger there. He's exactly the kind of character I like to read of and I definitely had a crush on him. There's brilliant Emily, sweet, kind, and the girl you just want to be friends with. Surly and protective Sam who I'm not too fond of yet but I suspect he'll grow on me. Jasper, an intriguing and mysterious character. That's just some of the characters. One or two them alone would make a book great. All of them together is explosive.

Steampunk is a very cool genre. Especially when it's done like this. You get your Victorian era traditions and pretty dresses but with technology and a more dangerous society. Especially with all the automatons wandering around. In The Girl in the Steel Corset, the technology seems to blend with magic-like abilities. The abilities aren't normal for us so if they were o take place in modern society it would be magic but back then it can be traced to science (of the fictional kind). Which is pretty cool.

Then there's the plot. I said the book flew by because even though there are many pages and the story never felt rushed, the book was addictive. There was alway something happening that kept me interested. The idea was original, the plot was suspenseful and full of twists. You'll be enthralled with the mystery. I did guess a plot twist but I still enjoyed getting to the point where it was unveiled so it's all good.

Why should you read The Girl in the Steel Corset? It's a fast paced adventure and mystery happening in a gorgeous setting with enough romance and action to appeal to almost all readers. Honestly, the book was similar to Clockwork Angel (as in the pacing and the kind of story it is, nothing specific) so if you enjoyed Clockwork Angel you will probably enjoy Kady Cross's book. And even if you didn't you should try it out. 5 stars,


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Review: The Vampire Stalker

The Vampire Stalker

Author: Allison Van Diepen
Pages: 272
Publisher: Point
Source: Library
Synopsis: What if the characters in a vampire novel left their world--and came into yours? 

 Amy is in love with someone who doesn't exist: Alexander Banks, the dashing hero in a popular series of vampire novels. Then one night, Amy meets a boy who bears an eerie resemblance to Alexander. In fact, he IS Alexander, who has escaped from the pages of the book and is in hot pursuit of a wicked vampire named Vigo. Together, Amy and Alexander set out to track Vigo and learn how and why Alexander crossed over. But when she and Alexander begin to fall for each other, Amy wonders if she even wants him to ever return to the realm of fiction.

The Vampire Stalker begins as every book lover's dream come true. Your favourite literary crush is actually real? Wow.

I liked Amy. She was your average nice, bookish teenage girl. She had good friends and loved books but did a lot of stuff other than read. She did everything for the ones she cared about. Amy still would stand up for what she believed in though. I thought Allison did a great job with portraying her as a real teenager.

Alexander, the vampire stalker, was hot. I loved reading about how he our Chicago was different from his own. His passion was believable and I overall really liked him. He was brutal at times and a little too perfect for Amy but still a character I liked.

The plot was always interesting. I think this would be a great movie because something was always happening. Near the end things really picked up and I was so excited to see what would happen. I did expect the ending but reading The Vampire Stalker was still amusing. It was readable.

Overall this is a fun read that would appeal to anyone who's ever had a crush on a character from a book. 3.5 stars,

*** & 1/2 *

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cover Wars Exiled vs. The Selection

Cover Wars is an awesome little feature done here at Tantalizing Illusions all about beautiful and amazing covers. Basically, this is a way to appreciate covers by voting for your favourite. There's always a a Defender which is last week's winner. They will defend their position against the Challenger.

Last week(s) Exiled dominated once again. Wow. This week another hopeful, The Selection will try to triumph against Exiled.

Exiled (Connected, #1)vsThe Selection (The Selection, #1)

I know I say this every week but I think they're so evenly matched now. Both covers are very unique and have recurring elements like butterflies and reflections. They are both beautiful and right now it boils down to personal preference.

So which cover do you prefer? Rashelle Workman's Exiled or Kiera Cass' The Selection? Remember to vote on the poll to the right and to leave a comment! Who will win this Cover War? It's all up to you. Vote now! Also, visit the Book Faery for another exciting Cover Wars. And let the Cover Wars... BEGIN!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Review: Haven

Haven (Winterhaven, #1)

*looks around at the tumbleweeds* Best way to explain my absence is I needed a break. I was getting overwhelmed and I needed to take a step back, catch up on my reading and stuff. Anyway, on to the review!

Author: Kristi Cook
Pages: 320
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Library
Challenge: Debut Author Challenge
Synopsis: Violet McKenna isn’t a normal girl with normal teenage issues; she has more to contend with than most people could handle. Violet thought she was just crazy when she had a vivid vision of her dad’s murder. Her life started falling apart when her premonition came true. She’s had flashes of other events too. The problem was nobody believed her until she found a new school: Winterhaven.  

At Winterhaven, Violet finally feels like she belongs. She quickly finds a close group friends and discovers that they too have psychic ‘gifts’—as do all the students at Winterhaven. But as soon as she feels settled she discovers the most intriguing and alluring boy she has ever met, and things quickly go awry. As the attraction between them grows, intense visions of the boy’s death start to haunt her. In her premonitions the secret he is unwilling to share begins to reveal itself. And to Violet's horror, she learns that their destinies are intertwined in a critical- and deadly- way.

Buy the Book (The Book Depository/Amazon)

Wow, Haven was a way better read than I thought it would be. I shouldn't be surprised though. I've always had a thing for paranormal boarding schools even though I know they're overdone.

Violet herself seemed very ordinary and a bit boring and unsure of herself in the beginning. By the end of the book though I much preferred her. She was passionate about what and who she wanted plus I started to like her by then. She wasn't my favorite character but as MCs go, she was decent.

Don't hate me for saying this but at the beginning there were scenes that were very similar to Stephenie Meyer's books. There were many ideas from Haven that I'd read of before in other series so I wasn't shocked at the plotline. Happily by the end, Haven made itself its own story. The beginning was a bit slow with the hot and cold relationship troubles but I still read this book quickly. It was a smooth read and it was easy to get wrapped up in what was happening.

After the interesting end I was left with as many questions was from the realm of typical paranormal romance, there were some good ideas that have so much potential. I expect great things from the next book in the Winterhaven series.

Overall another light paranormal read that has huge readability and is entertaining. 3.5 stars,

*** & 1/2 *

Sunday, December 4, 2011

An Apology For Lack of Posts

Hey guys, this week wasn't necessarily super busy or anything, but I got sick midweek and it was bad enough that I'm sorry I couldn't do much of anything. I'm feeling better now so expect more posts. Cover Wars and IMM will be posted later on, as well as some reviews and the occasional trailer. I just wanted to let you know I'm still reading posts and I still plan to be around, even if this week has been difficult. I'm just changing my game plan. Thanks for stopping by as usual. :)


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Review: Forgotten


Author: Cat Patrick
Pages: 288
Publisher: Little, Brown
Source: Library
Challenge: Debut Author Challenge
Synopsis: Each night when 16 year-old London Lane goes to sleep, her whole world disappears. In the morning, all that's left is a note telling her about a day she can't remember. The whole scenario doesn't exactly make high school or dating that hot guy whose name she can't seem to recall any easier. But when London starts experiencing disturbing visions she can't make sense of, she realizes it's time to learn a little more about the past she keeps forgetting-before it destroys her future. 

 Part psychological drama, part romance, and part mystery, this thought-provoking novel will inspire readers to consider the what-if's in their own lives and recognize the power they have to control their destinies.

Buy the Book (The Book Depository/Amazon)

Forgotten was a great book to read. It was readable, fun, and had relatable characters matched with an original and interesting premise.

London Lane (loving the alliteration here) forgets everything at 4:33 AM. How does she live?! By remembering the future. Yes, London can see scenes and events to come. Not everything but important moments when she focuses. Forgetting everything would really suck. Enormously. London does try her best though and she writes little notes about the previous day that she rereads the next. It's a lot of work but it's the best solution for her problem. Writing the notes is smart and I had fun reading them.

London's character is just the kind of character you can't help but like. She's funny, has good relationships and ups and downs like every teenager. She has this voice that will keep you interested in the story at all times. She's also very relatable. It's easy to feel bad for London and to support her. She's that kind of person. Even though she has something bad happened to her, she sucks it up and deals with it. I admire that.

My only semi-issue with Forgotten is that besides friend troubles and a budding romance (which I totally approve of- Luke and London are adorable and have a real relationship) not very much happened in the book at the beginning. Then London learned something that changed her life which was interesting but by that time the book was almost over so this twist wasn't fully explored. It was done a bit quickly and I'm still trying to absorb it. The ending wasn't a hundred percent tied up and it leaves a bit to think about.

I'm not ever going to forget London and Forgotten was a a great debut. I really had a good time reading it (in one sitting) so I recommend everyone to check it out. 4 stars,


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review: Blood Red Road

Blood Red Road (Dustlands, #1)

Author: Moira Young
Pages: 459
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Source: Library
Challenge: Debut Author Challenge
Synopsis: Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That's fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba's world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back. 

Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she's a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization. 

 Blood Red Road has a searing pace, a poetically minimal writing style, violent action, and an epic love story. Moira Young is one of the most promising and startling new voices in teen fiction.

Buy the Book (The Book Depository/Amazon)

Blood Red Road took me by surprise. The book had a unique story with the most captivating characters. Very memorable and I can't wait to read more!

This kind of book, books about quests are usually hit or miss with me. Moira Young's book was a bulls-eye. It was similar to Graceling in the way that it was the same kind of story and as I adored Graceling of course I enjoyed this book too. The world was dystopian but we didn't know too much about it. The story doesn't focus on the world that much, it was more on the characters achieving their goals.

Saba is awesome. She's the kind of character people may not like in real life because she isn't too kind, considerate or sweet. She's very much cruel and will do whatever it takes to survive and save the people she loves. She's not a perfect heroine and I loved that. She was such a great character because she sucked a bit then did something incredible and etc. Her relationships were unique and entertaining. Her character wasn't a cliché and I think of her as a total badass like Katniss, Tris and Katsa.

Now the romantic interest, Jack... *swoon* I think I fell for this guy even before Saba. The reason they met was a bit strange and, okay, they didn't have a normal relationship. That wouldn't suit this couple though. Their romantic tension was insane. Nothing happened until they were both ready. Jack is a really great character though. He's a slippery thief who's arrogant and provocative on the outside but is good on the inside. Yes, there are many guys like that in YA lit but this one still managed to impress me. I think many readers will like Jack. Oh, and no love triangle so that's good!

The other characters were also well fleshed out. There were many of them and they weren't always focused on too much- Saba was very brief in descriptions- but I did get a sense of most them and I loved them. They all had something special and different about them and were so compelling to read about. I can't wait to read more about them.

The way Blood Red Road is written sometimes confused me in the beginning. I hadn't ever realized how important quotation marks were until I read a book that didn't have them all. It was a little confusing because I'd hav to pay attention to exactly what I was reading to figure out if it was dialogue and I reread some parts. I didn't have a problem with this, I thought it was a good reading exercise and after a while I got more comfortable with it.

The plot of Blood Red Road was full of action and originality. Everything I read was interesting and I loved reading of Saba's journey to find Lugh. After adjusting to the dialect I was hooked to the story and it completely pulled me in. While the main story of finding Lugh was good, I found Saba's small changes in character equally interesting.

I'm not going to say much more about Blood Red Road since this is already a pretty heavy review so I'll say it's a great read and great for fans of Graceling. This isn't a typical dystopian book, it has more to offer and I think readers should give it a chance. 4.5 stars,

**** & 1/2 *

Monday, November 28, 2011

In My Mailbox (22)

This weekend was crazy busy for me what with my sister's party, decorating, cleaning, and it was also the weekend my teachers realized they were letting their students slack off too much, so it was full of homework too. I didn't get a chance to post all about the amazing books I got from the library last week, but I wanted to share so here they are!

Library Books: 

*Yes, another week of bad photos. Grr! 

Fateful by Claudia Gray (The Book Depository/Amazon)
Shut Out by Kody Keplinger (The Book Depository/Amazon)
The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade (Amazon)
Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick (The Book Depository/Amazon)
Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin (The Book Depository/Amazon)

There are lots of titles I'm excited for. Fateful I've heard a lot of great things about, plus it's by Claudia Gray and I really liked the first few Evernight books. Shut Out is by Kody Keplinger, author of The Duff which you should totally read because it's so awesome. I loved it so I expect great things from Shut Out. The Ghost and the Goth is one of those series I've been seeing around forever and so many bloggers love it, so I decided to jump on the bandwagon and try it out. I'm really curious about it! Silence is part of the Hush Hush series which I have very mixed feelings about, but I'm really curious to see where the story goes. Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance has a cool title. Seriously, sometimes that's all it takes. I'm already curious and expecting fun.

Anyway, that's what I got in my mailbox. Let me know, what you have in your mailbox by leaving a comment! Thanks for visiting Tantalizing Illusions and I hope you have a great day.

Cover Wars: Exiled vs Endlessly

Cover Wars is a weekly feature at Tantalizing Illusions all about the beautiful YA covers and appreciating them. Every week two covers will be matched against each other. A Defendant (winner from last week) and a Challenger (new cover). Over the course of the week, you'll get the chance to vote for your favourite on the right. Whichever cover wins is entirely up to you.

It seems Exiled is on fire. Seriously. Once again, Exiled triumphed. Will it be able to hold it's spot against this week's Challenger, Endlessly by Kiersten White?

Exiled (Connected, #1)vsEndlessly (Paranormalcy, #3)

Aren't they pretty? This time it's the battle of the blond haired girls on purple covers. Which one do you prefer? I think they're both awesome and this will be a hard vote. But still, you gotta do what you gotta do. So vote now, and have a happy Cover Wars! And remember to check out another awesome Cover Wars done by Book Faery!

Have a great day everyone!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Review: The Locket

The Locket

Author: Stacey Jay
Pages: 288
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Library
Synopsis: On her seventeenth birthday, Katie discovers a locket and decides to wear it for good luck. But when her boyfriend Isaac finds out she cheated on him - with their mutual best friend Mitch, no less - he dumps her, leaving her devastated. 

 And then a miracle happens. The locket burns on Katie's chest and she feels herself going back two weeks in time, to the night she cheated with Mitch. At first, Kate is delighted to be a better girlfriend to Isaac this time around. But as other aspects of her life become inexplicably altered, she realizes that changing the past may have had a dangerous effect on her present. 

 Can she make things right before the locket destroys everything - and everyone - she loves?

Buy the Book (The Book Depository/Amazon)

The Locket was the story of Katie using a locket to go back two weeks in time so she wouldn't repeat a mistake. Of course going back in time isn't without its consequences and Katie will learn the significance of choices and their impact on the world.

Romantic tension all the way through between Katie and Isaac, her boyfriend who cares a bit more about basketball than her, and Mitch, her best friend that may want to be more. I had a good idea of what would happen in the end and so I wasn't surprised with the conclusion. I just wanted to yell at Katie that she would hurry up and make the right choice already. It was a pretty clear choice to everyone except Katie, it seemed.

Katie irritated me a lot. She was so scared of a bunch of things and that lead her to not stand up for herself. She let people treat her wrong and I guess it would be a hard habit to get rid of after a lifetime of it, but I didn't like it. Katie's character did grow in the end though. She wasn't all bad. She was funny, wanted other people to succeed and didn't care for the spotlight. She was supportive and nice but never struck me as special.

The locket part of the story was written in a way where it was important but not that important. I mean that there wasn't an overwhelming magic part to the story. I'd think of this book as contemporary with a bit of time travel. That locket created so many problems and it was very creepy. Things worked out for the best though.

I liked the story but the book didn't hook me in completely. It was a cute story and I enjoyed it. 3 stars,


Friday, November 25, 2011

Review: Through Her Eyes

Through Her Eyes

Author: Jennifer Archer
Pages: 384
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Library
Synopsis: Every ghost has a story to tell. 

 The last place Tansy Piper wants to be is stuck in Cedar Canyon, Texas, in the middle of nowhere, with a bunch of small-town kids. But when her mother decides to move to the desolate West Texas town, Tansy has no choice but to go along. Once there, Tansy is immediately drawn to the turret of their rickety old house, a place she soon learns has a disturbing history. But it's the strange artifacts she finds in the cellar—a pocket watch, a journal of poetry, and a tiny crystal—that have the most chilling impact on her. 

 Tansy soon finds that through the lens of her camera, she can become part of a surreal black-and-white world where her life is intertwined with that of mysterious, troubled Henry, who lived in the same house and died decades earlier. It seems their lives are linked by fate and the artifacts she found, but as Tansy begins spending more and more time in the past, her present world starts to fade away. Tansy must untangle herself from Henry's dangerous reality—before she loses touch with her own life forever.

Buy the Book (The Book Depository/Amazon)

I was pleasantly surprised that Through Her Eyes didn't turn out exactly the way I guessed it would. When you hear "paranormal romance", "ghost" and "new girl in town" you automatically expect the girl to fall in love with the ghost but both girl and boy need to let go. She'll make some friends but not too many and maybe there is another guy in the picture that is the reason why she's still living. Well, yes, Through Her Eyes did have some of those aspects but there were some cool differences.

For example, the ghost never appears to Tansy in her world directly. She sees Henry through photographs or objects he left behind which take her back to his time. Tansy only ever interacts with Henry during memories of when he was alive and still not directly. I liked the creepiness of this method. As Tansy spends more time in Henry's world, her own starts to fade away. I guessed what would happen in the end but it was still creepy thinking about everything fading. Tansy's reaction to that was also believable.

Tansy herself didn't strike me as a completely memorable character. She was nice enough, had an interest in hats and photography, judged people too easily but nothing really stood out about her. I liked her and supported her but she wasn't my kind of character. Her relationships were sweet though, especially the one with her grandfather. Tansy really cared about him. Her relationship with her mom was realistic. They loved each other but had a hard time communicating.

Now we have the love interest: Tate. Cute, sweet, slightly damaged and writes poetry. I liked Tate early on;I expect everyone will. What's not to like? Tansy's on again off again relationship with him wasn't exactly what I wished would happen but due to the nature of these two characters it fit them. I would have liked more of them though.

The problem with Through Her Eyes was that I thought the story was a bit slow. Not very much happened and the conclusion wasn't thrilling enough for me. I was never on the edge of my seat; the story didn't hook me in. It's a nice story with fantastic mood and setting but is 400 pages really needed to tell it? I would have enjoyed more happening. But remember, adrenaline junkie here.

Overall, Through Her Eyes was a good read with an interesting story. 3.5 stars.

*** & 1/2 *

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Challenges are one of my favourite parts of blogging. By the end of the year you can look back and just be happy because you accomplished so much. These are some challenges I'll be participating in, but I'm always on the lookout for more!

So I'll be participating in this one. I'm doing the 2011 one (and that reminds me, I need to start posting them reviews!) and it's been fun. Plus, this is the best way to discover new series. No question about it, I'm joining this one. What I need to do is read & review 12 2012 debuts. 

Have you guys noticed how many awesome books came out this year? Especially the debuts- wow. I'm super excited for their sequels which is what this challenge is about. Reading 10 books that are the second book of the 2011 debut authors. The sophomores must be published in 2012 though. 

My list of books to look forward to:
1. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
2. A Million Suns by Beth Revis
3. Hallowed by Cynthia Hand
4. Fever by Lauren DeStefano
5. Dreamless by Josephine Angelini 
6. Until I Die by Amy Plum
7. Truth by Julia Karr
8. Perception by Kim Harrington
9. A Beautiful Evil by Kelly Keaton 
10. Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

Those are just a few- there are tons more. You can check out the Goodreads list here!

For the books that have been on my TBR list for way too long. *winces* This one is for you! This challenge is for books released at least at most in 2011 (or way before) and that have been on your TBR for a while. I'm going to try to read 11-20 books- A Friendly Hug but if it seems to go well, I'll definitely be doing more. There are some prizes and it looks like it will be fun!

Our hosts are:

Evie from Bookish - @SeoEvie
Nicole from All I Ever Read - @Nicoleabouttown
Bonnie from Hands and Home - @HandsHomeBlog
Donna from Book Passion For Life @BookPforLife
Caitlin from WatchYA Reading @caitlingss
Rie from Mission To Read @missiontoread
Vicky from Books, Biscuits & Tea - @alouetteuette 
Christa from Hooked On Books @ChristasBooks
Jenna from Fans Of Fiction @fansoffiction
Angel from Mermaids Vision @mermaidvisions

Goodreads Book Challenge: 

2011 Reading Challenge

*The 2011 graphic is posted because I can't seem to find the 2012 one yet! 

This one isn't really hosted by the blogging community, but it's the one I care for the most. How many books have I read in a year. This year I'm trying to do 300 books (you can see from my widget on the sidebar I'm 91% done) and I'll try the same next year. Just a ton of fun, plus it makes me feel like I'm being productive. To participate you need a Goodreads account and whenever you read a book, you need to add it first to your "currently-reading" shelf, and then your "read" shelf when you're done. 

So those are my challenges for now. I may add more if I see something that will be challenging and sounds fun, I'll join. I may even have my own challenge... but you'll here more about that later. Like, in February. ♥ 

What are you guys joining? Excited?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Review: Seize the Story: A Handbook for Teens Who Like to Write

Author: Victoria Hanley
Publisher: Prufrock Press
Source: Review Copy (Thank you!!)
Synopsis: Do you wish you had a published writer's secrets at your fingertips, ready to help you achieve your goals of publication, success, and the chance to be the next great teen writer? In Seize the Story: A Handbook for Teens Who Like to Write, Victoria Hanley, award-winning author of young adult fiction, spills the secrets for bringing action, adventure, humor, and drama to stories. All of the elements of fiction, from creating believable dialogue to exciting plots, are laid out clearly and illustrated with examples taken straight from story excerpts by excellent writers. The book is packed with writing exercises designed to encourage teens to tell the stories that are theirs alone. 

In addition, other published authors of young adult literature share their insights about the writing life. Teens can gain firsthand advice from accomplished writers T. A. Barron, Joan Bauer, Hilari Bell, Chris Crutcher, David Lubar, Lauren Myracle, Todd Mitchell, Nancy Garden, and many more.

Buy the Book (The Book Depository/Amazon)

When I was asked to review Seize the Story, I was a bit hesitant. I thought the book sounded great but writing isn't something I do all the time, even though I like it.

I'm going to talk about my experiences a lot in this review as the book made me reflect on my writing. Two years ago I attempted to write a book. I had an idea that wouldn't leave my mind and it's still there! I made all sorts of promises and goals and outlines, but I never finished this story. I made the awful mistake of letting people read a first draft of the first part of the first book I've ever read. Over the next two years I've been thinking of my story, and it's something I always want to finish writing. I just never knew when. Victoria Hanley's Seize the Story reminded my why I love to write.

It's a book for teens so everything is written in a way I can actually understand and with lots of examples (like from Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games) that I was familiar with. I feel like I learned a lot about writing and it makes me want to write. For example, I've always heard that writing rule "Show, don't tell," but I never really knew what it was until I read the section about it. With all the examples given, it made sense. I know November is NaNoWriMo and though I can't participate, Seize the Story is a valuable tool to use.

Though there were many technical aspects of writing that were learned, the most important lessons were about writing as a craft. No one I know writes so learning that published authors feel like their first draft is crap, get bored with it and feel insecure just made me feel better. I felt strongly encouraged and like a writer. It made me see writing less as something I do randomly but like a process that people go through and that is different for everyone. It's a hard road, but rewarding. I respect authors even more now! I also think Seize the Story helps me review books better now that I know more about writing good stories.

There were many pictures and exercises and if I wasn't so constricted in time I know I would of stopped and just tried out everything to learn for myself. I know that at some point in the future I'll re-read Seize the Story and just write. For now, it has encouraged me to just get writing, which is enough for me.

This book is great for writers, especially teens. It's encouraging, informative, and interesting. I really liked it. 4 stars,


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cover Wars Exiled vs Girl of Nightmares

Welcome to Tantalizing Illusions' Cover Wars, a feature just about appreciating the awesome covers of YA.  Every week, (the day seems to change every time) I will be posting two covers. One cover is the winner from last week's Cover Wars and it will be known as the Defender. The other cover is the Challenger, who is here to try to win against the Defender. They way the winners are chosen is up to your votes on the poll to the right. If you love a cover, make sure to vote for it!

Last week there was the battle of Exiled, versus Everneath. Exiled won again for the second week in a row. Now, Exiled will battle to defend itself against our new beautiful challenger, Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake.

Exiled (Connected, #1)vsGirl of Nightmares (Anna, #2)

Hard choice, eh? Exiled is a stunning, colourful close up while Girl of Nightmares is seductively dark and a full body shot. Both of these covers could easily win.

So now that you've seen the competition, get ready to VOTE! Let the Cover Wars... begin!

Remember to leave a comment letting me know what you think and your suggestions for future Cover Wars. Also, visit Book Faery for more exciting Cover Wars!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...