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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cover Trends (10)

COVER TRENDS


Cover Trends is a feature here at Braintasia Books where I discuss aspects of book covers that I've seen recently that seem to be popping up in a lot of books. Sometimes they're good, sometimes they aren't, but they're all getting quite common. These book covers tend to only represent YA, UF, and PNR since those are the genres I read, and as such, the covers I see.

This week's trend is FACES THAT HAVEN'T BEEN CHOPPED OFF. I'm sure that all of you guys have noticed the half-face thing that has been going on with YA covers over the past couple years, and these covers make me hopeful that the time of chopping off the upper half of those poor models' faces is over.

Examples:





 I'm absolutely in love with most of these covers! What do you think of this trend?

Monday, May 30, 2011

REVIEW: Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton


Ari can’t help feeling lost and alone. With teal eyes and freakish silver hair that can’t be changed or destroyed, Ari has always stood out. And after growing up in foster care, she longs for some understanding of where she came from and who she is.

Her search for answers uncovers just one message from her long dead mother: Run. Ari can sense that someone, or something, is getting closer than they should. But it’s impossible to protect herself when she doesn’t know what she’s running from or why she is being pursued.

She knows only one thing: she must return to her birthplace of New 2, the lush rebuilt city of New Orleans. Upon arriving, she discovers that New 2 is very...different. Here, Ari is seemingly normal. But every creature she encounters, no matter how deadly or horrifying, is afraid of her.

Ari won’t stop until she knows why. But some truths are too haunting, too terrifying, to ever be revealed.


Book: Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton
Release Date: February 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Young Adult
Series: Gods & Monsters, #1
Obtained: In exchange for an honest review
Rating:PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket (5 Zombies)

I must admit that the somewhat mediocre cover with that hideously gaudy gate on the front may have put me off from reading DBH for a few weeks after I received my review copy in the mail, but don't you dare let it throw you off, too! This is one of the most amazing, beautifully southern, deliciously dark YA books EVER. It is the most freakin' awesome thing on earth.

The main character, Ari, was fun and understandable, and different from the perfect blonds and nerdy brunettes that litter the pages of popular YA. She made DBH a really enjoyable read, and I couldn't believe how much I liked her since side characters are usually what make a book for me.

Now Ari may have been pretty damn awesome, but the side characters were just as great! Sebastian, the love interest, was cute and mysterious and I was routing for him and Ari the whole time. Violet was adorable and creepy and probably my favorite character in the entire book, except for her pet baby albino alligator, Pascal.

The plot was so fast-paced and engaging that I read the entire book in a matter of hours, and I'm planning on re-reading it again sometime this summer. I can't believe that I have to wait until 2012 for the next book! I guess I'll just have to read it over and over and over again until I can get Book 2!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

In My Mailbox (42)

The Story Siren


In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren that I participate in regularly.  All you have to do is post whatever books you've received in the past week, bought or for review, and any cool swag you want to mention.

For Review:

 
The Fallen Star by Jessica Sorensen

Thanks to anyone who sent me books!



What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Armchair BEA: Interview

 
 
I interviewed Tif from Tif Talks Books for Armchair BEA, and this is the awesome result!


Cade Crowley: I see that you've been a book blogger for quite some time, now! What inspired you to start?
 Tif: I was moving around a lot and wanted someplace consistent to share my thoughts on books, both for my own records as well as to just chat books with others.   All my friends were making their own family blogs.  I wasn't really into the family blog, but a book blog was perfect for me!
 
 
CC: When you aren't reading or blogging, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
T: Reading and writing take up most of my spare time!  BUT, with the time that I do have left, I spend time with my husband and two children going on a multitude of adventures.
 
CC: I know that a lot of us Armchair participants would love to be at BEA right now. What is your primary reason for not going?
 T: My primary reason for not going is twofold ... I have no one to care for my kids for an extended period of time (and my husband has a grueling and inflexible work schedule) as well as it being my busy time of year for my "day job."
 
CC: What is your favorite book of all time, and why?
T: Ha!  I can't just pick one book as my favorite of all time!  So, here are a few of my favorites:  The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling (probably my most read books!), Wicked by Gregory Maguire, Blindness by Jose Saramago, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, and Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.  Can you tell I'm an eclectic reader?!?
 
CC: What has been the best book this year for you?
T: The best book so far this year?!?  I think I am going to go with another series, but a graphic novel series this time ... The Good Neighbors series by Holly Black and illustrated by Ted Naifeh.  Gorgeous artwork and simply fun story! 
 
CC: What do you look for when you're picking/reading a book?
T: I typically choose my next read based upon fellow blogger recommendations or to be completely shallow ... if the cover catches my eye!  Yep, I sometimes judge a book by its cover!  
 
CC: What is your favorite thing about blogging?
T: My favorite thing is the book-ish connections, of course!  I love knowing that I am not alone in my passion and love of reading, and blogging is a great outlet for this!
 
CC: Least favorite?
T: My least favorite is the time commitment!  I work full-time with two younger children.  That alone creates a busy schedule and does not allow me to write as much as I would like.  Even after four years of blogging, I still struggle on a regular basis with finding my balance!
 
CC: If you could say one thing about blogging to non-bloggers, what would it be?
 T: Me to non-bloggers ... Check it out!  You never know when you will find your next favorite read thanks to "real readers!"
 
 
Thanks for doing this awesome interview, Tif! I had a great time getting to know you :)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Armchair BEA: Introduction



Who am I, and how do I Armchair?

Well, for those of you who are new here, my name is Cade Crowley, and I am a student at Citrus College in Southern California. I'll be turning 17 on July 4th. I basically run a zoo in my house--I have a dog named Kizzard, a cat named Tonq, an albino hedgehog named Biny Prickles, a bearded dragon named Harry, a toroise named Jelly Bean, and a 15-year-old brother named Tustin.

I've been blogging for almost a year now (May 30th is coming up!) and my primary genre is paranormal. I love paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and young adult books in both genres, with a little bit of straight up fantasy and science fiction on the side. I'll even read the occasional contemporary YA.

Other than blogging, I've got my hands in several different cookie jars; my hobbies include contortion, music (I sing and I'm learning guitar, and I've always wished I had a drum set), T.V. (watching as well as writing it), art (mostly pencil/charcoal sketching), and nerdy things like watching re-runs of The X-Files (Mulder, anyone? Yum!) and teaching myself how to code.

I hope to get into television writing once I graduate, and maybe (very unlikely) eventually become a hugely successful showrunner on something as awesome as Supernatural or True Blood.

Random Facts About Me:

1. I watch entirely too much T.V. Usually 10-15 shows at a time.
2. I agree that Waiting Sucks.
3. The last ebook I read was Earth by Shauna Granger.
4. The last paper book I read was Possess by Gretchen McNeil.
5. My favorite book this year is The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. If you ask me in five minutes, I'll probably give a different answer.
6. My favorite state is Washington, specifically Whidbey Island.
7. My favorite color is usually purple.
8. My favorite show is almost always Supernatural.
9. I am secretly in love with Misha Collins. Alas, he is married.
10. I am not-so-secretly in love with Jensen Ackles.
11. I hate even numbers. My lucky number is 7.
12. My favorite movie is a tie between Constantine and The Lost Boys, mostly because Keifer Sutherland can really rock a mullet.
13. My favorite letter is J.
14. I wanted to end it with that last one, but I'm too superstitious.
15. I hate multiples of five, so I can't end it here, either.
16. I really can't wait to read Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey.
17. I hated the Supernatural season finale on Friday night in the best way possible. But it was still hatred.

So, that's pretty much me in a really frickin' huge nutshell. Yeah, I can go on and on and on when I'm talking about myself. Let's not talk about me anymore--what do you think of me? I'm here all week, folks, don't forget to tip your waitress.

Link to your intro posts in the comments and I'll be sure to drop by and check 'em out!

REVIEW: Earth by Shauna Granger


Shayna and her two best friends have the abilities to manipulate and control the four elements, earth, air, water and fire. While learning to hone their growing powers, they discover a new and malicious presence in their sleepy beach town. Someone is performing blood magic and threatens to expose their small magical community. So far only small animals have been slaughtered, but then the nightmares start.

Shayna suffers nightmares of being chased and sacrificed only to wake up bloodied and bruised. She thinks her magical blood is the ultimate target for the final blood rite. When an innocent girl is kidnapped Shayna knows it's only a ploy to draw her out; she can't let someone die because of her.


*Parts of the summary had to be cut out because of slight spoilerificness. Yes, I did in fact just make up that word.

Book: Earth by Shauna Granger
Release Date: May 1, 2011
Format: eBook
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Young Adult
Series: Elemental, #1
Obtained: From the author in exchange for an honest review
Rating:PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket (5 Zombies)

Lately, when you think of self-published authors, you think of scandals over responses to bad reviews or unedited 100 page books filled with typos and formatting errors, but authors like Shauna Granger are slowly helping to counteract those undoubtedly realistic images. I don't know why it always shocks me so much when I read a really awesome self-published book, especially after reading books by Amanda Hocking and a few others lately, but it still amazed me when I realized how great Earth was. It ranks as one of my top reads of the year so far, up there with Abandon by Meg Cabot and The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin.

The main character, Shayna, was very realistic and easy to relate to. She read like a normal teenager from SoCal (yay, me too!) except with magic powers. I loved that she started out the book already knowing what she was and what she could do, but not in an annoying I-know-everything kind of way. The whole magic system and Shay's beliefs were explained really well--subtly enough that it didn't feel like an info dump, but also thoroughly enough that I was never confused about what was going on when I wasn't supposed to be. I had a great time trying to figure things (read: mystery and Jensen) out with her!

Her two best friends, Steven and Jodi, were also really awesome! Steven was hilarious and fun and crazy, but it was Jodi who really stood out to me. She was a very well-developed character, not just the loyal best friend that you see in a lot of books. She had her problems and flaws, and she wasn't the best of friends at times, but she came through when she was needed, and she is definitely someone who I would love to get to know in real life.

Shayna's love interest Jensen wasn't in the story all the much, and when he was, sexy time was usually far from his mind (as far as we know), but he still managed to be majorly swoony. I love love loved him! Throughout the book, Shay went back and forth over whether or not she trusted him, and whether she even liked him or not, but that couldn't hold back his sexiness one little bit. I hope to see much more of Jensen in the next book, because I just finished the first a few hours ago and I miss him already! (BTW, Jensen is the most awesome name ever. Reminds me of Jensen Ackles.)

The mystery wasn't all that hard for me to figure out, but it was also definitely believable that Shayna and her friends didn't get it right off the bat. Even though I was pretty certain of what was what for most of the book (and I was right), it was still really fun to watch Shay and the gang figure it all out.

My only problem with Earth was that, unless I missed something, we're never actually given a real description of Shayna or Jodi. We get lots and lots about Jensen's blue eyes and chestnut hair (no complaints here!) and Steven's Hispanic heritage, but the only thing we know about Jodi's physical appearance is that she has her hair bobbed, and we don't even know that much about Shayna. Besides that and the occasional typos/grammatical errors that come along with any self-published book, I didn't see anything wrong with Earth.

If you're looking to read some self-published books, Earth is definitely my first recommendation, and, at only $0.99 on Amazon, it's also easy on your wallet, which can be a huge help if you read as much as I do. What are you waiting for? Go pick up a copy now!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ten Summer Books I Can't Wait For

These are my top ten can't wait for books of Summer 2011, in no particular order.

  1. Luminous by Dawn Metcalf: This one just looks really awesome, and the fabulous cover can't hurt.
  2. Original Sin by Lisa Desrochers: This is the second book in a series, and I loved the first one, so I can't wait to read this.
  3. Forever by Maggie Stiefvater: The conclusion to the Wolves of Mercy Falls series. Enough said.
  4. Undercurrent by Tricia Rayburn: This is another second book, and I thought that the first, Siren, was hugely original and amazingly well-written.
  5. Wildefire by Karsten Knight: The premise of this one is just so original and fun-sounding that I can't help but look forward to it.
  6. Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer: Yet another second in a series graces my list of awesomeness. I can't wait to see what happens to Calla this time around!
  7. Bloodlines by Richelle Mead: Spin-off to Vampire Academy.
  8. Succubus Revealed by Richelle Mead: The final Succubus Blues book. I'm looking forward to this one, but I really don't want this series to end!
  9. Devil's Business by Caitlin Kittredge: I've loved the first three Black London books and I'm hoping that this one will be from Jack's POV like Book 2 was. Let's face it, Jack is made of awesome.
  10. Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey: Gay witches and R&J? Sign me up!





How do these compare to your lists? Are you looking forward to any of the same books?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

REVIEW: Death Masks by Jim Butcher


Harry Dresden, Chicago's only practicing professional wizard, should be happy that business is pretty good for a change. But he also knows that whenever things are going good, the only way left for them to go is bad. Way bad.

Recent examples: A duel with the lethal champion of the Red Court, who must kill Harry to end the war between vampires and wizards...Hit men using Harry for target practice...The missing Shroud of Turin-and the possible involvement of Chicago's most feared mob boss...A handless and headless corpse the Chicago police need identified...

Not to mention the return of Harry's ex-girlfriend Susan, who's still struggling with her semi-vampiric nature-and who seems to have a new man in her life.

Some days, it just doesn't pay to get out of bed. No matter how much you're charging.


Book: Death Masks by Jim Butcher
Release Date: August 5, 2003
Format: Mass market paperback
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: The Dresden Files, #5
Obtained: Purchased
Rating:PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket (4 Zombies)

This was probably the creepiest Harry Dresden book so far, and it had the highest stakes. We're talking possible destruction of epic proportions, here, unless Harry can save the world! Raise your hands, everyone who thinks that he'll fail. I'm not seeing any hands . . . why?

If you've read any books in the Dresden Files series before, then you know that they're pretty much standard mystery novels, except that there is lots of magic and magical politics in them. They're still loads of fun to read, if not the most mentally challenging books ever.

The mystery was, as always, the main focus of the book, and it was a very well-written one, though more serious than the previous books. To some extent, I liked this, but I also missed the typical Harry humor that we saw in the first three books and somewhat in the fourth. I hope that we can get a little bit of that back as the series progresses, but I'll keep reading either way because I think that Harry is an amazing main character and I really love reading about his misadventures.

Be forewarned that there is gore and seriousness and a lack of funny in the fifth Dresden book, but don't let that stop you from picking it up because this series is totally made of win. I can't believe I'm so far behind, though!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (43)




Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by the amazing Jill at Breaking the Spine. Each week, participating bloggers will make a post about a book whose publication they're eagerly awaiting.

This week, I'm featuring Original Sin by Lisa Desrochers.
 
Luc Cain was born and raised in Hell, but he isn’t feeling as demonic as usual lately—thanks to Frannie Cavanaugh and the unique power she never realized she had. But you can’t desert Hell without consequences, and suddenly Frannie and Luc find themselves targeted by the same demons who used to be Luc’s allies.

Left with few options, Frannie and Luc accept the protection of Heaven and one of its most powerful angels, Gabe. Unfortunately, Luc isn’t the only one affected by Frannie, and it isn’t long before Gabe realizes that being around her is too…tempting. Rather than risk losing his wings, he leaves Frannie and Luc under the protection of her recently-acquired guardian angel.

Which would be fine, but Gabe is barely out the door before an assortment of demons appears—and they’re not leaving without dragging Luc back to Hell with them. Hell won’t give up and Heaven won’t give in. Frannie’s guardian exercises all the power he has to keep them away, but the demons are willing to hurt anyone close to Frannie in order to get what they want. It will take everything she has and then some to stay out of Hell’s grasp.

And not everyone will get out of it alive.


I loved the first book in this series, Personal Demons, and I can't wait to get my hands on the sequel! What are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cover Trends (9)

COVER TRENDS


Cover Trends is a feature here at Braintasia Books where I discuss aspects of book covers that I've seen recently that seem to be popping up in a lot of books. Sometimes they're good, sometimes they aren't, but they're all getting quite common. These book covers tend to only represent YA, UF, and PNR since those are the genres I read, and as such, the covers I see.
This week's trend is PRETTY DRESSES. Since the word pretty is part of the criteria for this week's trend, I love all of these covers. I really enjoy spending entirely too much time staring at the unique, gorgeous outfits on some recent covers, and I hope you will, too!
Examples:




I'd say this trend is a keeper, for sure! What do you think?

Monday, May 16, 2011

REVIEW: City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare


City of Fallen Angels takes place two months after the events of City of Glass. In it, a mysterious someone’s killing the Shadowhunters who used to be in Valentine’s Circle and displaying their bodies around New York City in a manner designed to provoke hostility between Downworlders and Shadowhunters, leaving tensions running high in the city and disrupting Clary’s plan to lead as normal a life as she can — training to be a Shadowhunter, and pursuing her relationship with Jace. As Jace and Clary delve into the issue of the murdered Shadowhunters, they discover a mystery that has deeply personal consequences for them — consequences that may strengthen their relationship, or rip it apart forever.

Meanwhile, internecine warfare among vampires is tearing the Downworld community apart, and only Simon — the Daylighter who everyone wants on their side — can decide the outcome; too bad he wants nothing to do with Downworld politics. Love, blood, betrayal and revenge: the stakes are higher than ever in City of Fallen Angels.


Book: City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
Release Date: April 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Young Adult/Urban Fantasy
Series: The Mortal Instruments, #4
Obtained: Purchased
Rating:PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket (5 Zombies)

I must admit, going into CoFA, I felt a mixture of giddiness, excitement, and trepidation. I was giddy because, come on guys, this is ANOTHER TMI BOOK HOLY CRAP. Excited because I knew that I was going to interview Cassie Clare less than 24 hours after the book downloaded to my Kindle at just after midnight, and that I was going to have the entire thing read by then. Trepidation because some tiny voice inside my head couldn't help but wonder if the amazing, not to mention well-concluded, series could continue successfully. Does this make me schizophrenic? Maybe. Was I wrong to worry? Definitely.

Risking the respect of some hardcore first cycle fans, I have to say that this has been my favorite of the series so far. Some people have accused Clare of pandering to the fans for money, but the effect of this is that . . . the fans enjoy the book! I know, big shocker there. It may seem cheap to some readers, but I for one loved the hell out of it.

The plot was fast-paced and literally kept me reading until three in the morning, when I forced myself to go to sleep so that I could be alive for school in the morning*. I always thought that I had more information than the characters, and that I was so close to figuring out the mystery, but I was the last one to catch on. I felt so stupid in the best way possible! It was like it was right in my face the entire time, and then I didn't even realize it until it was spelled out for me at the very end.

The character development was amazing, with one exception: Alec and Magnus. They were sadly absent from the majority of the book, which will disappoint a lot of fans, including me, but I think that we'll probably get to see more of them in the next installment. (I really really hope.) Jace and Clary got a lot of page time invested in their relationship and I loved seeing how they could evolve as a couple now that some of the more major issues from the previous books have been resolved.

I absolutely cannot wait for the next TMI book, which has quite some time before its release, but at least there's another Infernal Devices book coming out in December. (Why December?!) Sigh. I love Cassandra Clare's books so much, and I'm hugely looking forward to reading the next books in both of her amazing series!


*Thanks to the assistance of three cups of lukewarm coffee.