Review: Empty by KM Walton

Dell is used to disappointment. Ever since her dad left, it’s been one let down after another. But no one—not even her best friend—gets all the pain she’s going through. So Dell hides behind self-deprecating jokes and forced smiles.

Then the one person she trusts betrays her. Dell is beyond devastated. Without anyone to turn to for comfort, her depression and self-loathing spin out of control. But just how far will she go to make all of the heartbreak and name-calling stop?

I’m going to be honest, I couldn’t really get into this book. Primary reason is easy. First of all, you know that summary? You know, that one? *points up* Yeah, not really what the book is about. It outlines the overall start of the book, but it doesn’t mention the overall uh, theme. So I’ll tell you, so you aren’t confused like I was.

This is a book about an eating disorder. Compulsive Over Eating, or emotional eating depending on how you want to look at it. Pretty simple, Dell’s life goes to crap and she stuffs herself with food to feel ‘whole’, getting up to 286 pounds. Summary does mention the whole self-deprecating joke thing as deflection, so good job there. Then something else happens. I’m a little hesitant to mention (it’s 70 pages in out of 250 page book – but you are slightly warned for a small spoiler), but I feel like it’s important cause it kinda smacked me in the face while reading. So then Dell is raped.

I felt like this book was trying to tackle 80 Big Issues at once and I never got the depth I would want for any one of those Big Issues. Obesity, crap home life, depression, bullying and rape are just some of them, but other than her weight issues, it was like these things were used as a The-World-Hates-Dell devices more than actually addressing anything about them.

Dell herself frustrated me a lot. I found her incredibly whiny, self-absorbed, spineless and did I mention whiny? She was very quick to blame parents, her only friend and everyone else for her problems, but never really wanted to take responsibility for her own actions. She was also distrusting to a point where she doubted everyone’s motives and I felt like she was creating a self-fulling prophecy of failure.

All of that being said, I have a number of friends who read and liked this book. I’m kind of in the minority over here, so if you like books about these things, then by all means, check it out!

If you’re looking for another good read similar to Empty, check out Butter by Erin Jade Lange.

But wait. There’s more! An awesome Empty prize pack containing a finished copy of Empty, some swag, and a Post-It Note dispenser.

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Review: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

Soooooo….. I didn’t love this book. *waits for the rock throwing* In fact, it took me 2 months to finish this as I held a metaphorical gun to my own head to make myself not give up. It frustrated me. It annoyed me. And worst of all, there were parts that flat out bored me. I do want to remind you guys that I LOVED Daughter of Smoke and Bone (review). So when I got the opportunity to review Days of Blood and Starlight, I was like, giddy. I rarely get giddy. Wow. That fell flat.

First of all, let me give you a quick summary. So, book opens and we get 3, maybe 4 (I kinda lost count after a while) different story lines/ POVs. Daughter of Smoke and Bone protag, Karou is doing her thing in creature land, Akiva is doing his angel thing in angel land and Zuzana is doing her humorous thing in human land, and each of them are doing their own thing. And then there’s this other POV in there and I don’t really know why it was in there, it eventually linked back up then disappeared altogether. Uh, whatever. This would be okay for maybe the first 50 pages, a stretch at 100, but at 200 pages in with only 2 of those story lines barely (and FINALLY) interweaving, I was kinda mad and disinterested. The last 200 pages held together better, but by then it was kind of a too-little, too-late.

Here’s the thing, I could overlook a lot of things if it were not for one thing. And it’s a spoilery thing for Daughter of Smoke and Bone, so yeah, watch me awkwardly spell this out for you without giving anything away. Remember that pretty big cliffhanger-y thing in the end of Daughter of Smoke and Bone? The one where you’re like OMGs HOW CAN ANYTHING BE THE SAME AND OKAY NOW?! Yeah. So that? It just wasn’t addressed. This series went from a mysterious and magical world to a straight-up war book. I didn’t know I was signing up to read 400 pages about corrupt political figures, dying masses and the general wrongness of war. This book lost what Daughter of Smoke and Bone built. The main redeeming quality of the entire plot/ characters were Zuzana and Mik. They were the heart and humanity I just wanted a little more of.

All-in-all this makes me sad. I loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone wanted so much to love the sequel. Don’t get me wrong, Taylor’s writing was just as sweet, sad and poetic as before. Her world building was strong, unique and amazing. There were parts that made me laugh, be sad and get all mushy-sweet. But all of that wasn’t enough for me, it didn’t have the same lure as the first book and I really think it the multiple POVs and non-connecting story lines destroyed it for me.

Will I read the third book? Maybe. I’ll have to think about it. Will I be waiting with bated breath for it? Sadly, no.

Jennifer’s Best Read of 2012

It’s that time again! Where the year ends and I marvel over the 115 books I’ve read this year. Sadly, I read less books than last year, but also suffered a long, LONG reader burnout. So I’m glad I hit over a 100 at all!

Last year I couldn’t pick a number one book of the year, so I did a top 5.
That is not the case this year. I have one that comes in above everything. I felt all of the things with it.
Coming in at the #1 spot is….Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan.
If this surprises you, then, what are you, new here?

Top Runner-Ups: (in order alphabetical by author’s last name)

  • The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith
  • Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
  • The Storyteller by Antonia Michaelis
  • Want by Stephanie Lawton
  • From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas

More Honorable Mentions: (in order alphabetical by author’s last name)

  • Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
  • The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand
  • I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
  • Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
  • Altered by Jennifer Rush
  • This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

Most Looking Forward to in 2013:

  • HOUSE OF HADES *ahem* (I mean not in all crazy caps) by Rick Riordan
  • Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter
  • Shrapnel by Stephanie Lawton
  • Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
  • Asunder by Jodi Meadows
  • Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
  • Winger by Andrew Smith

Bring YA to Your Hometown!

Have you ever wished that a big YA book tour would make a stop in your hometown? Well, here’s your chance for that wish to come true! YA2U is a program that features five award-winning and best-selling authors who are holding a contest to see what city they should visit in an exclusive tour stop!

The authors are collecting votes from January 1 to February 15, and any city in the continental US or any Canadian city that has an international airport can win an exclusive visit from all five authors, including an author panel and book signing! Entering is super easy–and if you help spread the word about the contest, you can also enter win a signed copy of all of their books (TEN signed books in total!)–and the book contest is open internationally!

The authors in the program are:

And they want to have an event in your home town! To participate, just got to the YA2U website and let them know what city you want them to come to. And while you’re there, help spread the word about the contest and you can be entered to win all of their books–TEN signed books in total! 

Here’s why the YA2U Team should come to MY hometown! 
If I had a vote, I wouldn’t use it for my hometown because I live in the boonies. Literally, there are no indie bookstores to supports in an hour radius, the best date night restaurants are in the next city 45 minutes away, and the only two things to do are to go see a movie or go bowling. This is why I think YA2U should not come to my town, but to Decatur, GA, which is home to the Indie shop that I support, Little Shop of Stories. Little Shop is well-known for their awesome book events like the annual Decatur Book Festival, which draws in over 75,000 book lovers for a weekend of author panels and signings. Unfortunately, outside of the DBF, their YA author tours are pretty limited and we don’t always get to see many authors stroll through the area. But I would LOVE if this tour was able to come to Decatur, GA and stop by Little Shop of Stories because it would be a beautiful event and I know many would come out to see these fantastic authors!
Why should the YA2U Team come to your hometown?
Why not join in the fun today and share with others about this program and your hometown. The more votes your town gets, the closer you are to having your very own personal tour stop! Vote for YOUR town here!
And if you help spread the word, you can also participate in the book giveaway. Tell them that you learned about YA2U from me and we both get extra entries in the contest!

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Review: Altered by Jennifer Rush

When you can’t trust yourself, who can you believe?

Everything about Anna’s life is a secret. Her father works for the Branch at the helm of its latest project: monitoring and administering treatments to the four genetically altered boys in the lab below their farmhouse. There’s Nick, Cas, Trev . . . and Sam, who’s stolen Anna’s heart. When the Branch decides it’s time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape, killing the agents sent to retrieve them.

Anna is torn between following Sam or staying behind in the safety of her everyday life. But her father pushes her to flee, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs. There’s just one problem. Sam and the boys don’t remember anything before living in the lab—not even their true identities.

Now on the run, Anna soon discovers that she and Sam are connected in more ways than either of them expected. And if they’re both going to survive, they must piece together the clues of their past before the Branch catches up to them and steals it all away.

I’d seen this book around, but hadn’t heard much about it. But when it was offered to me for review, I looked at the shirtless boy on the cover and went “oh all right.” Don’t even look at me like that.

So I put it on my Nook, opened to the first page for that indecisive browsing thing I do right before I start a book. And when I got to the words “the boys” in the first paragraph, I was intrigued, by the time it got to the lab and the setup of it, I realized what this secretly was. Jennifer crack. It’s like Jennifer Rush (the name linkage must have something to do with it) burrowed into my brain and created the ultimate situation that would make me fall in love with a book at first sight. Aka have a lot of hot boys running around.

There’s sexy alpha-male leader Sam with the sexy tree tattoo on his back alà the cover. Trev, the lit nerd and best friend boy. Cas is the snotty, but hilarious brother type and Nick who is so so cranky but somehow sexy in his own cranky way. Four boys who are like brothers, but aren’t, and the girl who’s cared for them set off on a fast-paced race to find out the truth. And the way they all worked together was just magical. It was very much a pack mentality without them, you know, being werewolves or something. I promise they aren’t werewolves. However, this whole setup hooked it’s little claws me and the only thing I did Christmas Day was to read this book. No, seriously.

Then there’s the twisty-turnyness of everything. At various points, I squealed and actually shouted “OH, FREAKING* SNAP!” outloud to an empty room. It’s a strange thing where all the things I guessed with this book haven’t been proven (yet) but I didn’t at all foresee any of the shocking revelations that did happen. I’m hesitant to mention anything here because I don’t want to give anything away on this amazing plot. But I’ll say this, there’s mystery but there’s also action, gunfights, car jacking all the meanwhile absolutely no one can really trust another, let alone themselves.
*Actual expletive omitted.

For the most part the whole year-til-the-next-book thing doesn’t really bother me (hey, I got enough to read!) but this is a book where my eyes get big, I cock my head and tap my nails in the ultimately irritated fashion at the idea of twelve more months before I can get more delicious Nick, Sam, Trev and Cas. Reality is cruel.

Similar recommendations: Anew by Chelsea Fine and Megan Meade’s Guide to the McGowan Boys by Kate Brian.


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