YA

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

leighbardugoSurrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

 Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

 Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.

Has anyone else noticed the immense amount of praise this book has gotten lately? Nearly everyone recommends it and at least 90% of the reviews are positive. I tend to be a non-conformist to the bandwagon of popular reads but I finally gave in and bought this book, partly because Leigh Bardugo is on the list of attending authors to Decatur Book Festival this year. It took me a while to make myself read it but I was immediately sucked in. I am very sorry that I doubted all the blogger and all the great things I’d heard. THIS BOOK IS AMAZING. So amazing that I used CapsLock on a whole sentence for the first time ever in one of my posts. This book is so dynamic and different that you’re instantly enthralled. The world is different, the powers are different, the characters even have a different air to them. Alina is a tough girl who is pulled from everything she knows because she has this extremely special power and I think she handles it pretty well. She hates standing out and goes to every length possible to blend into the background. But, of course, she always stands out. And I’ll share my views on the love triangle, like I always do. I totally love the Darkling. Don’t hate me! I don’t know if I have this instinct to root for the boy you know the heroine shouldn’t be with or if it’s about power or what; I feel that way about Warner in Tahereh Mafi’s books, so I’m building this theory. Anyway, there was just something that I didn’t like about Mal. Yeah, he was sweet and took care of her. But after a while adorable little love-struck boys get on my nerves. So yeah, join the bandwagoners and love this book.

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City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

City of BonesWhen Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder. Much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with odd markings. This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons–and keeping the odd werewolves and vampires in line. It’s also her first meeting with gorgeous, golden-haired Jace. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demon’s be interested in an ordinary mundane like Clary? And how did she suddenly get the sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…

     This is one of those books you either love or you hate. It doesn’t really matter which books you like to read and which books you don’t; the reactions are pretty evenly split. I have this sort of odd emotional range when it come to this book because it depends on the mood I’m in whether I love it or not. Sometimes, I feel like the book is alright. Other times –when I’m in a fun, silly, adventurous mood- I love this book. I’m probably book bipolar or something but oh, well. This book is well written, funny, magically romantic, and jam-packed with action. The great thing about our heroine, Clary, is that at the beginning, she is just as clueless as we are about the entire world of shadowhunting. She learns things as we do, which makes everyone’s reaction genuine. This book will immediately capture you. There is a certain intrigue, I think, about the heroine of a book being a fifteen-year-old girl who also happens to be a demon slaying badass. The word heroine is used in the literal sense here because Clary isn’t just the protagonist of this story. No, she is actually saving people’s lives and kicking some serious butt during this novel. How can it get any better? Only if there was a love story entwined, right? Well, let’s all immediately applaud Cassandra Clare because she gave us that, too. Though, I didn’t quite like the odd turn it took towards the end. Have you seen the previews for the film? It looks amazing.

If you enjoyed The Mortal Instruments, you should definitely read Cassie’s other series, The Infernal Devices which I liked even more. The first book in that series is Clockwork Angel. It’s set in Victorian London. It’s got steampunk elements. Umm, hello? What more could you want?

Looking For Alaska by John Green

lookingforalaska BEFORE. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (Françios Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

AFTER. Nothing is ever the same.

I refuse to spoil this book but I will let you know that if you are not willing to cry over a book, you should avoid this one at all costs. If you’re okay with having your beating heart metaphorically ripped out of your chest, by all means read away. This book is my favorite non-series book of 2012. Which say a lot because I read a lot of new books last year. Anyway, this book is not only an emotional rollercoaster, but it’s a bit philosophic. It makes you think about what really does happen after death, the Great Perhaps. When you talk about death, you often ask “What if _____?” or, in this context, “Perhaps _____ will happen.” Being as philosophical as it is, it only the end of this novel worse on you than it should be. But on the positive side, this book is incredibly well-written (like all of Green’s books) and is so witty that it is impossible not to obsess over. Pudge is a very strong protagonist who seems to overcome most things. As crazy as Alaska is, I couldn’t help but think of how much I’d love to be friends with her. Kudos to Mr. Green on this masterpiece of a novel. We should just take every possible award and give them all to him, because he proves once again that he is one of the best.

The Dark Devine by Bree Despain

the dark divine     I stood back and watched his movements. Daniel had that way  about him that could shut me down in an instant. . . . I kicked the gravel  a couple of times and worked up my courage again. “Tell me . . . I mean . .  . why did you come back? Why now, after all this time?”

 Grace  Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the  night Daniel Kalbi disappeared—the night she found her brother Jude  collapsed on  the porch, covered in blood. But she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret  that night  really held. And when Daniel returns three years later, Grace can no longer  deny her  attraction to him, despite promising Jude she’ll stay away.

 As  Grace gets closer to Daniel, her actions stir the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth  behind Jude and Daniel’s dark secret . . . and the cure that can save the ones  she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it—her soul.

This series probably ranks #3 on my list of absolute, all-time, without-a-doubt favorite books ever, only being beaten by the Mara Dyer Series and the Caster Chronicles. About a year ago, I got this book from the library along with 5 other books. I only read one of those other books in my alloted lend time because I reread this book so many times. This is just one of those completely awesome books that people connect with on such a personal level. I mean none of us have a gorgeous, tortured, werewolf boyfriend, but we all know what it’s like to help someone we love even though they push us away. It is also a great read because it’s Christian YA which, in my opinion, the world needs more of. It was nice to have something to think back on instead of reading something that someone has completely made up. As I read from Grace’s POV, I also drew a lot of connections to my attitude and my life as a teenage girl. She’s very involved in the community and trusted, but she is also rebellious and strong. Grace knows what she wants. I love that about her character. It seems to be effortless for Mrs. Despain to create these extraordinary characters that you can’t help loving. You feel like you’ve known them your whole life!  You feel like Jude really is your brother and Daniel really is the person you’ve loved since you were a child. I love this book more than life itself. Everyone should definitely read this novel.

Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

Embrace the Forbidden 
What if there were teens whose lives literally depended on being bad influences? 
This is the reality for sons and daughters of fallen angels.
Tenderhearted Southern girl Anna Whitt was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She’s aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but it isn’t until she  turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage and her willpower is put to the test. He’s the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.
Forced to face her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?

This book was recommended to me by my aunt Angela (ReadingAngel.com) because she absolutely loved it. I really liked this book because it is so different from anything else I’ve read. The one thing I did regret about this book was not buying the actual book copy later on because Wendy ended up at YALLFest doing signings. Anyway, I love the main conflict of this novel because it’s Anna’s war against herself that is also influenced by everyone else in this story. That conflict, of course, is the age-old, never-ending fight of good VS. evil.  Anna really does struggle with herself and the things she is destined to do. Although she imbraces her powers and who she is, she still feels like it’s not right. And then there is Kaidan, who has a bit of inner battle to endure himself about whether he should be with Anna or continue to embrace his nature and be a man-whore. (Sorry, that was for lack of a better word. You have to read the book to understand.) But I couldn’t help but fall for him anyway. As Anna searches for her father and her own true identity, you will be on the absolute edge of your seat. This is a great read that becomes addicting, making you read it again and again.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

ACROSS THE UNIVERSEA love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awake on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into a brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone—one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship—tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now, Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

So usually I’m not for “spaceship” books at all. I picked up a copy of this book from a shelf in an English classroom about a year ago after a test. My teacher had a limited selection, most of which I’d already read, either on my own or during that class. I snuck this book out of the room at the end of the period and finished it shortly after I got home. I can honestly say that this is the best space saga I’ve ever read, not including the Star Wars books (I think that franchise has a mecca of its own).  I was instantly capitivated by this story. The plot is perfect, the romance is just right, and the mystery fueled my overactive imagination. When the second book in this series was released, I waited until midnight so that I could read it on my Nook. Needless to say, I slept through Mrs. Smith’s English lesson that day.

Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

armentrout Starting over sucks.

 When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I’d pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring…. until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

 And then he opened his mouth.

 Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something…unexpected happens.

 The hot alien living next door marks me.

 You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon’s touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I’m getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.

 If I don’t kill him first, that is.

Ominous, I know. I love it. I’ve been meaning to do this review for a while. The book starts out explaining how terribly depressed our heroine is because of her recent move to a new town and blah, blah. As average and boring as that sounds, it was so well written and different that I enjoyed it. We find out that Katy usually has her time invested in a book blog (thumbs up for that!!) or reading. And then we meet Daemon. That’s when the extreme drama starts…dun dun daaahh. I’m not going to give anything away -and believe me, I want to- but I am going to say that this, go find this book and read it and love it and worship it. It’s so edgy and new that I loved it with a passion.

Fated by Alyson Noël

     Strange things are happening to Daire Santos. Crows mock her, glowing people stalk her, time stops without warning, and a beautiful boy with unearthly blue eyes haunts all her dreams. Fearing for her daughter’s sanity, Daire’s mother sends her to live with the grandmother she’s never met, but who recognizes the visions for what they truly are—the call to her destiny as a Soul Seeker—one who can navigate the worlds between the living and dead.

     There on the dusty plains of Enchantment, New Mexico, Daire sets out to harness the powers of her ancestral legacy, but it’s when she meets Dace, the boy from her dreams, when things take an alarming turn. Forcing Daire to discover if Dace is the one guy she’s meant to be with…or if he’s allied with the enemy she’s destined to destroy.

I was excited about this book because I was already in love with Noël’s writing. I’d read The Immortals series and the Keeping Secrets duo. So I went out on the day it was released and bought it. Like every book I buy, I tore through it and had it finished before I went to bed that evening. I really  think that I love this book (and it’s sequel) more than any of Noël’s other series. I love the magical aspect and the native symbology. When everyone else is making up their own kind of magic -don’t get me wrong, I love nearly any magical story- you can honestly tell that the author really worked hard researching and getting her facts straight. It gives the story a sense of being more realistic. You also have a little romance and a sinister twin thrown at you as the story plays out. I’ve read this book many times and had it signed by Alyson at YALLFest. It’s one of those stories that will never get old. Fated is exciting, mystical, and -at times- super suspenseful. Daire is definately one of my favorite heroins of all time and I’m going to marry Dace. So yeah, I love it.

YALLfest 2012

     On Saturday, November 10, 48 of the biggest names in YA fiction will gather for one of the biggest signings to annually take place. This mass festival, known as YallFest, will be held in Charleston, South Carolina on Upper King Street. The event will be hosted by Blue Bicycle Books and is spread between the shop’s building, Charleston Music Hall, and the American Theater. Most panels and signings are free. The only ones that are not free are Cassandra Clare and Holly Black. Tickets to their events are $5.

Authors Include: Cassie Clare, Holly Black, Alyson Noel, Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Kwame Alexander, Pseudonymous Bosch, Sarah Rees Brennan, Michelle Hodkin, Kierra Cass, Cinda Chima, Andrea Cremer, Gitty Daneshvari, Melissa De La Cruz, Brendan Reichs, Kimberly Derting, Simone Elkeles, Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl, Elizabeth Eulberg, Gayle Forman, Adam Gidwitz, David Macinnis Gill, Adele Griffin, Jenny Han, Deborah Harkness, Grady Hendrix, Ellen Hopkins, Tonya Hurley, Michele Jaffe, Kami Kinard, Caitlin Kittredge, David Levithan, Wendy Mass, Alex Morel, Stephanie Perkins, Diana Peterfreund, Kathy Reichs, Beth Revis, Jess Rothenberg,  Carrie Ryan, Eliot Schrefer, Natalie Standiford, Trenton Lee Stewart, John Thompson, Cate Tiernan, Siobhan Vivian, Robin Wasserman, Marjory Wentworth, John Corey Whaley, and Kathryn Williams.*

Hope to see you there!!

~C

*Those I am most excited to meet are bold. My top five are bold and italicized.

For a full schedule of panels, visit:
http://yallfest.org/authors