Saturday, May 28, 2011

In My Mailbox [52]

In the past two weeks I received:

- An ARC of Hourglass by Myra McEntire and a KTeenBooks USB bracelet with excerpts etc. from a Twitter contest (Thanks !).
- 3 Escapee bracelets & 3 signed bookmarks from Mary E. Pearson, author of The Jenna Fox Chronicles (Thanks Mary!)

So there you have it, the contents of my mailbox lately. What about you, what literary goodies have you gotten?

*In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren
**The winner of the recent contest for First Daughter & Blood Trust was Erinberry - congratulations!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Mara Dyer Cover Art

So the other day, I was browsing weheartit when I stumbled upon the above image and was instantly struck with a sense of recognition. Something about the clothing, the subjects of the photo, the atmosphere of the photo itself, seemed a little familiar.

Oh, I don't know, kind of like The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer sort of familiar. So of course, I went and pulled up the book cover, and 'lo and behold, it was the same clothing! Having a personal interest in photography, and photographers whose work end up on covers, I set out to investigate further.

As it turns out, this was shot by Heather Landis, who shot a whole series of photos in this theme. (A few of them are displayed below.) Definitely pop by her website if you have time, there's tons of really awesome artwork over there.

And just some basic info about the book - The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin will be released on September 27th, 2011 by Simon & Schuster. Having heard a ton of great early buzz about it thus far, I'm definitely very excited for this one!

Have you found any other awesome photographers who've shot recent YA book covers?!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wake Unto Me Review

Wake Unto Me - Lisa Cach
*March 31st, 2011 Speak

A haunted castle, a handsome young man dead for four hundred years, one heck of a scary portrait of a witch, and a treasure hunt -- not to mention a princess for a roommate! -- all await 15 year old American girl Caitlyn Monahan when she earns a scholarship to a French boarding school.

There are secrets behind the stone walls of Chateau de la Fortune, buried for centuries along with the mystery of who killed Raphael, the charming ghost who visits Caitlyn at night. But as Caitlyn unearths the history of the castle, nothing scares her as badly as the secret she learns about herself, and the reason she was chosen to come to the Fortune School.

And nothing breaks her heart as badly as falling in love with a dead guy.

Ghosts, an exotic locale, a mystery... Lisa Cach's Wake Unto Me has all the trappings of a deliciously dark story well worthy of its creepy cover1.

There's a lot of controversy in the literary world regarding prologues, usually against them. But Wake Unto Me is one example, I think, in which the prologue works quite well. Cach starts out the novel on an ominous note, which from the very get-go leaves the reader curious about the tone of the rest of the story. The fact that the majority of the story takes place in France is very cool indeed, lending it an added layer of mystique from being foreign. Although I get that people from numerous countries are kind of requisite with the setting, the inclusion of numerous languages and comprehension thereof is something I'm a little on the fence about.

Wake Unto Me certainly explores a number of paranormal elements in a fresh way. The "Screechers", the timelines, the transcendental lives... Cach puts her own unique spin on each aspect. Overall, the mystery element was nicely done, although parts of it were more predictable than the characters seemed able to put together.

The scenes of the climax and denouement are artfully written and satisfying. The resolution, alas, is slightly less so. It tests the limits of credibility, and the way it came about (and the sheer lack of acknowledgement thereof) is rather disturbing.

With Wake Unto Me, Cach has written an intriguing and Romantic ghost story that shimmers of mystique.

1 Is it just me, or is there something really bizarre about the guy's hands on the cover?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Enclave Review

Enclave (Razorland #1) - Ann Aguirre
*April 12th, 2011 Feiwel & Friends

New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20's. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters—or Freaks—who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight, in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs. As the two are guided by Fade’s long-ago memories, they face dangers, and feelings, unlike any they’ve ever known.

Enclave by Ann Aguirre is a fast-paced, action-packed futuristic/science fiction read. With a plot that really moves and a haunting dystopian world, Enclave is an entertaining quick read that can be finished in a sitting or two.

For the most part, Enclave is fairy enjoyable, as far as entertainment derived from reading goes. The futuristic world that Aguirre lays out here is relatively similar to our own - enough so that it is relatable and credible. Heavy on the action and neutral on the cover, Enclave is the type of book that would have more appeal with the reluctant and/or male reader segments, especially considering its short length.

Enclave appears to be the first in a series (Razorland) - and it shows. The world-building progresses fairly nicely, the setting is put into place, and the backstory is explored - but as a standalone, there are a number of weaknesses. There seems to be a fair amount of expectation for [readers] to accept things as face value, lacking adequate explanation. Some of the plot points read like deus ex machina, a little too convenient. At times the writing seems almost as if there's a misconceived notion that the narrative needs to be watered down in order to cater to "younger adults".

In spite of all that, Enclave is still a fairly fun read. The world-building is well done and action is well placed (which is more than can be said for a lot of mammoth novels these days with lots of exposition and lack of action). It's also very refreshing to see a female leading lady who's well able to hold her own and kick some serious butt. Brave and bold, Huntress Deuce is far from being a damsel in distress.

All in all, with Enclave Aguirre has crafted an engaging read that will be quickly devoured by readers like Freaks devour raw flesh.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (33)

Awaken - Katie Kacvinsky
*May 23rd, 2011 Houghton Mifflin

Maddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer. Whether it’s to go to school or on a date, people don’t venture out of their home. There’s really no need. For the most part, Maddie’s okay with the solitary, digital life—until she meets Justin. Justin likes being with people. He enjoys the physical closeness of face-to-face interactions. People aren’t meant to be alone, he tells her.

Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her—a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking.

In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space.

I think this one sounds very interesting for a number of reasons. First off, considering the current state of our technology-obsessed culture, it's certainly very plausible to consider a potential future where lives are lived on a screen. Considering that things like online shopping, online dating, working remotely from home with computers, etc. have infiltrated and permeated our culture...

From the sounds of the synopsis, there's certainly a lot of potential here to explore the implications thereof, should our society continue down this path of technology-reliance. I guess we'll have to keep waiting to see how Kacvinsky explores the depths of humanity vs. technology here.

And what're you waiting on this Wednesday?

*WoW is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine

Also - don't forget to pop by and enter to win First Daughter and Blood Trust here!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Teaser Tuesday {6}


She nods at me, still looking down. Her eyes flicker up to my face, and then return to their previous position, a small frown etched around her lips. “Are you newly Independent, Dom?”

“Yeah, I –”

“You better hurry,” she says, cutting me off. “You don’t want to be late.”

“Late?” I ask, not recalling anything instructions about activities tonight.

“For reporting to work,” she clarifies. She nods at my bag. “You should probably get that dropped off and get to it.”

“Um...” I’m honestly not sure what to say. This is my first real interaction in which our designation system has really come into play. I’m a little embarrassed that she thinks I’m lower tier, but I’m also a little ashamed for thinking that way. I play with the SmrtPad in my pocket a little, debating how to respond.

Lane’s eyes dart side to side, gauging whether there are any other people in our vicinity. Satisfied that the coast is clear, she leans in closer. The top of her head barely reaches my neck. Her breath is warm against the base of my throat. “You’ll want to make a good first impression,” she says nervously, like she’s telling me something she shouldn’t be. “It’ll matter.” Done with her good deed for the day, she leans back and shrugs. “Congratulations,” she adds, and then shuffles away.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Winner Announcement + Scholastic's Charity Auction

Just a couple of quick news announcements today. First off, the winner of the A Discovery of Witches book + buttons giveaway is LiLi from ChicaReader - congratulations! If you didn't win this time around, never fear - pop by here and enter for a chance to win Blood Trust and First Daughter. You have until May 20th, 11:59 P.M.

Secondly, Scholastic is hosting a charity auction.

"Twelve top children’s book illustrators created original artwork for Scholastic’s month-long online charity auction (which opened for bids on May 5th) to benefit Reading Is Fundamental and Reach Out and Read, two amazing literacy organizations that have lost all federal funding, making it even more difficult for them to help the kids who need it the most.

To view the spectacular original artwork by all 12 artists, simply go to From there you can then pick a favorite, place a bid, and put books into the hands of the neediest kids - and they’ll have a piece of original art by a beloved children’s artist that illustrates the important role of books in all our lives."

It's for a great cause and there's a ton of really awesome artwork, so it's definitely worth checking out & spreading the word about!

Have a great week guys! Cheers :)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

In My Mailbox [51]

In the past two weeks, I received:
For Review:

` Graveminder
by Melissa Marr
` Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey
` Die For Me by Amy Plum
(Thanks, Harper, for the above!)

` Enclave by Ann Aguirre (Thanks Zeitghost & Macmillan!)

and from a Twitter contest:
` When You Were Mine by Elizabeth Noble (Thanks Penguin!)

And that's my mailbox for the past two weeks. What've you gotten recently?

*In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren

**While you're here - don't forget to enter the giveaway for a copy of A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness and a set of buttons, as well as the giveaway for a copy of First Daughter and a copy of Blood Trust, both by Eric Van Lustbader!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Giveaway: Blood Trust & First Daughter

In celebration of the paperback release of Last Snow, there's a new Youtube book trailer!

From The Author of "The Bourne Sanction" and "The Bourne Legacy" comes Eric Van Lustbader's electrifying second novel in the Jack McClure/ Alli Carson Series, "Last Snow". Check out "Last Snow" on the Macmillan website for more information!

And in celebration of this, Lucid Conspiracy, in collaboration with Zeitghost Media, is pleased to announce a giveaway for copies of Blood Trust and First Daughter to one winner!

Contest is open to mailing addresses in the U.S. and Canada, and will run until 11:59 PM May 20th, 2011. First entry is a freebie, additional entries available for: blog followers, linking the contest, and linking the trailer.

Submit the contest entry form to enter. Good luck!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (32)

Deadly Cool - Gemma Halliday
*October 1st, 2011 HarperTeen

DEADLY COOL, in which a sixteen-year-old finds out that her boyfriend was cheating on her with the president of the chastity club; when she goes to confront the cheaters, she finds the girl dead instead and now must solve the murder.
I chose Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday this week for a number of reasons. First off, how haunting is the cover? There's something very striking, very gripping, about the eyes of the cover model. Secondly, although there's not a lot in the way of a synopsis to go off of, from what can be gathered, it's a YA murder mystery! Comparatively speaking, mystery isn't a genre that gets a lot of the YA market share, so it'll definitely be interesting to see how Deadly Cool does.
What're you waiting on this week?
*WoW is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine

Monday, May 9, 2011

Where She Went Review

Where She Went - Gayle Forman
*April 5th, 2011 Dutton Juvenile

It's been three years since the devastating accident ... three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Julliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

Where She Went is the perfect sequel to Gayle Forman's Bestselling If I Stay. The follow-up is just as poignant, just as bittersweet, and just as beautiful.

I'll admit - when I first heard about Where She Went, I was a little doubtful about how Forman would pull it off. If I Stay functioned so well as a standalone that it was hard to imagine a sequel that would be not only of the same caliber (or better) writing-wise, but also an additional piece that would add to the story. With Where She Went, Forman more than managed to pull it off brilliantly!

Although the follow-up is clearly a continuation of the same story, there are a number of fundamental differences. For one thing, the setting takes place three years later. For another, it takes place in the busy, bustling metropolis of New York. But most importantly, Where She Went is told from Adam's perspective. This, as it turns out, is one of the best things that could've happened to make the sequel as great as it is.

Sure, in If I Stay, we're managed to meet Adam. But everything we learned was filtered through Mia's perceptions, everything told through a biased lens. With Where She Went, we get Adam, raw and real. It's great to get further insight into the enigma that is Adam, the way that he dealt with the aftermath, the inner turmoil he experienced, the emotions that were released in unhealthy ways. The characters - not just the main ones, but all of them - seem almost closer now, having been experienced through an additional medium.

The interactions between Mia and Adam, the way that the events of the past three years are revealed, the fact that this next part of the story, too, occurs in a very short period of time... Forman executes it all with the same precision, skill and beautiful writing present in If I Stay. If I Stay and Where She Went hardly read like two separate novels - if anything, they're perfect complements for each other, two parts of one whole.

With a great sense of pacing, beautiful prose and intricate character relationships, Forman's deft writing skill has been proven yet again. This is definitely one YA author to keep an eye out for!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Wither Review

Wither (Chemical Garden #1) - Lauren DeStefano
*March 22nd, 2011 Simon & Schuster

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.

With Wither, Lauren DeStefano has crafted an masterpiece that's achingly beautiful from cover to cover.

Wither is a YA dystopian novel that has received a large magnitude of positive hype. Well, I'm pleased to report that it more than lives up to the reputation that precedes it! I finished Wither in one night, staying up well into the wee hours of morning to complete it. It has definitely earned its rightful place on my shelf of favourites.

One of the most notable characteristics of Wither is how simply engaging it is. DeStefano's world building is spectacular - it's similar enough to our own to maintain credibility and relatability, yet distinctive enough to distinguish as a hypothetical future for humanity. The mood and atmosphere that DeStefano creates is equally remarkable - so realistic that it transcends the physical pages and printed words to seep into [the reader's] mind, to create genuine emotions, to alter the mood [of the audience]. Fictional worlds this immersive are a beautiful rarity.

And the characters - wow. DeStefano is a highly talented writer who has managed to almost breathe life into her characters. I'll let the story and characterization speak for themselves, but basically: be prepared to really connect with Wither.

Another one of the great aspects of Wither is its concept. Dystopian novels really resonate these days to begin with because they offer a safe exploration of potential futures, a medium for social satire, a vessel for outrageous speculation and prediction. Alas, not all such entities are created equal. I'm pleased to report that Wither is highly proficient such a vessel. Wither really explores deeply aspects of our humanity. What happens when science goes too far? What if you knew when you would die? What would you be willing to do to escape your "fate"?

With remarkable world-building, probing concepts and bewitching atmosphere, Lauren DeStefano's Wither is a transcendental work of art.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Giveaway: A Discovery of Witches

May is a wonderful month for a number of reasons: beautiful Spring weather, my birthday month, the beginning of "summer" break (for those in university/college)... the list goes on. So why not start the month off with a big bang?

Thanks to the awesome people over at Penguin, Lucid Conspiracy is pleased to present a giveaway for a copy of A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (which I've seen popping up on a ton of IMMs this week!) and a bunch of pins.

Don't forget to pop by Deborah's site to vote for your dream movie casting!

So how would you go about winning these awesome prizes? Read on:

Contest runs until May 15th, 2011 (11:59 p.m. EST). Open to mailing addresses in the US & Canada. Additional entries available for:
` being a blog follower
` linking to the contest
` commenting on a review or interview
` totaling up your entries

First entry is a freebie (just for entering your name & e-mail :)

Submit the entry form, and good luck! Happy May :)
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