Review: Kiss of Frost (Mythos Academy #2) (Jennifer Estep)

Product Details:
Reading Level: YA
Pages: 354
Publisher: Kensington (November 29, 2011)
ISBN: 9780758266941
Source: Personal copy
Read it in 1 day


Kiss of Frost (Mythos Academy, #2)
I’m Gwen Frost, a second-year warrior-in-training at Mythos Acad­emy, and I have no idea how I’m going to sur­vive the rest of the semes­ter. One day, I’m get­ting schooled in sword­play by the guy who broke my heart—the drop-dead gor­geous Logan who slays me every time. Then, an invis­i­ble archer in the Library of Antiq­ui­ties decides to use me for tar­get prac­tice. And now, I find out that some­one at the acad­emy is really a Reaper bad guy who wants me dead. I’m afraid if I don’t learn how to live by the sword—with Logan’s help—I just might die by the sword...

I am flying through these books! They are super easy to read and rather addicting. Kiss of Frost picks right up where the first book ends, and you are instantly hurtled into a steamy love triangle. Logan can’t make up his mind about what (or who) he wants and Gwen’s feelings for the Spartan have only grown stronger. Poor girl. She’s an emotional, conflicted mess. Luckily for her, there is a big winter carnival approaching that offers the promise of fresh meat in the love department, or at least that’s what her BFF promises… and Daphne always delivers on her promises.
Gwen is instantly drawn to the dreamy Preston. He is gorgeous and exactly what she needs to get her mind off Logan. Everything is going well in that area too, until someone tries to kill her. Four times! The winter carnival suddenly loses its appeal, and the fancy-schmancy ski  resort becomes a death trap.

The same enticing romance factor in the first book, Touch of Frost, is found on every page in Kiss of Frost. There is no disappointment in that department. There was even a nice amount of action. Again, I sniffed out the villain early on, but it was ok. It didn’t take away from the story. I still enjoyed my reading. I was fairly satisfied with the ending of this book. There was a nice hook that left me desperate for the third book (thank you NetGalley!).

The only thing that did bother me about the book is that I found myself experiencing déjà vu a lot as I read. I understand that authors have to give a certain amount of back story in each book, just in case someone starts the series without reading the first book. However, getting the sense of reading the exact same lines and phrases over and over made me feel like I was in that movie Groundhog Day. It became tiresome. (Unfortunately, it still occurs in book 3!) That would be my one major gripe about the series. I found myself scanning pages of text because I knew exactly what they were going to say because I read it all in the first book.

I really am enjoying this series, so I recommend it. The mythology element isn’t as high in this one as the first. Or, at least it’s not as “fresh” this time around. We do meet a few more characters that become vital to the story line and see others undergo shocking changes. (Still wondering what that’s about.)

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Review: Touch of Frost (Mythos Academy #1) (Jennifer Estep)

Product Details:
Reading level: YA
Pages: 350
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp (August 2011)
ISBN: 9780758266927
Source: my own copy
I read it in 1 1/2 days.


Touch of Frost (Mythos Academy, #1)My name is Gwen Frost, and I go to Mythos Academy a school of myths, magic and warrior whiz kids, where even the lowliest geek knows how to chop off somebody's head with a sword and Logan Quinn, the hottest Spartan guy in school, also happens to be the deadliest.

 But lately, things have been weird, even for Mythos. First, mean girl Jasmine Ashton was murdered in the Library of Antiquities. Then, someone stole the Bowl of Tears, a magical artifact that can be used to bring about the second Chaos War. You know, death, destruction and lots of other bad, bad things. Freaky stuff like this goes on all the time at Mythos, but I'm determined to find out who killed Jasmine and why. Especially since I should have been the one who died. . .

This was a fun read--nothing too serious or complicated. If you’re a fan of mythology, you’ll really enjoy this series. It’s so full of mythology, you’ll overdose.

The plot isn’t overly complicated with this one. There were a few twists that I enjoyed along the way, but most of them I saw coming. It wasn’t a bad thing though. I really did enjoy just reading the story for the simple pleasure of enjoying a story. No analysis. No deep thought. Just simple enjoyment. This was a good, fun read. (It should be noted that the sexual references were high in this one, so don’t read if you like “clean” books.)

Gwen Frost is a Gypsy… whatever that means. She’s not entirely sure, since she’s the only one at Mythos Academy (or so she thinks). All she does know is that everyone else thinks she’s a freak and she has the hots for the reputed campus man-whore Logan Quinn, Spartan extraordinaire. I have to admit, Logan seemed pretty darn dreamy, even if he had this whole conflicted warrior thing going on. I would drool too. Reading about Logan kept my interest long after I figured out the majority of the plot. He was definitely mysterious, and I—like Gwen-- wanted to know why. Their love-hate relationship kept me turning the pages as fast as I could, until his betrayal at the end. Oh, how my heart broke right along with Gwen’s! Scandalous. (I also quickly picked up book 2 to find out what would happen next. So glad I did!)

If you can’t tell, the romance factor is what I enjoyed the most in the book. The complicated weaving of the various mythologies was very original and interesting as well. I thought the author did a nice job blending Greek, Roman, and Norse mythologies together in a cohesive, slightly complicated way. Along with the on and off romance between Gwen and Logan, other characters develop relationships too. My favorite is between Daphne (super hot Valkyrie) and Cameron (Celtic band geek). They are adorable. There are a lot of transformations and lessons learned throughout the book, especially by Gwen. She has to figure out her place in the mythological world. See, Gypsies aren’t freaks. They are rare warriors gifted directly by gods/goddesses and she is no exception. Her biggest challenge is figuring out how to use her special magic, her touch magic that she views as both a blessing and a curse. (and for very good reasons!)

As I’ve said, this was a fun read. Good beach reading. There is lots of romance, a good bit of action, and a kick-butt main character who is sarcastic and funny. I love Gwen’s uncanny ability to get herself into impossible situations. This is, however, meant for older YA readers. Since the book takes place at a boarding school of sorts, you can guess at the “extra-curricular activities” that occur with a lack of adult supervision. I wouldn’t want my 12 year old reading about that stuff. Just sayin’.

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Review: Unwind (Neil Shusterman)

Product Details:
Reading Level: YA
Pages: 335
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 9781416912040
Source: gifted copy from a friend
Read it in 1 day!


Unwind (Unwind, #1)The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child "unwound," whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

 
Move over Hunger Games and Divergent, I think I have a new favorite dystopian novel! Neal Shusterman’s Unwind was amazing. Dark, deeply disturbing, but amazing. Brilliant, even.  I really want to know where he got the idea for this story!
Like the uber popular Hunger Games series, the concept behind this book was highly original. I mean, legalized abortion for kids between the ages of 13 and 18? Insane! The world that was crafted is deeply disturbing, so please don’t start reading this book thinking it’s a fluffy middle grades “Dystopian 101” level book.

I have to take a moment and go off on a small tangent… When you read a great piece of fiction, it makes you think about a lot of things. I absolutely love when a book can challenge our views and opinions on controversial topics in ways that seem unimaginable and horrific. You can truly explore the dark psyche of human nature through literature, even when people are scared to express the ideas or views openly. That is great literature! So, thank you Mr. Shusterman for this book... even if others think you’re demented for creating the concepts that haunt the pages of Unwind.
One of the things that makes this book so amazing are the characters. They are very complicated. Each of the main characters have been chosen for “unwinding” (i.e. a form of legalized abortion during the ages of 13-18) without their concept. Connor is a troubled youth. He’s not breaking laws, but he doesn’t do anything to make his parents’ lives easier. Bad grades, bad attitude, bad future: Perfect candidate for unwinding. Except Connor is not okay with that decision. He realizes that he wants to live. His life is his to control. Risa has the unfortunate circumstance of being an orphan. State budgets are tough and money has to be saved somewhere. Unwind. Then there is Lev. Raised as a tithe (yeah, that kind of tithe), he will be devoted as an unwind. Until Connor kidnaps him and messes everything up.

I think Lev is one of the most interesting characters I have ever encountered. He starts off as this blind lamb willingly following someone else’s plan for his life. Then there is a series of very strange events that change him (not necessarily for the better). The person he becomes by the end of the book is so convoluted. His various transformations are interesting and certainly worthy of many discussions. (Please read this book so we can discuss it!) I know the author intended this to be a stand alone title originally, but I am thrilled to hear that there is more of this story to come. I hope that we get more insight into Lev because I have so many questions that I need answers for!
If you haven’t figured out the premise of the book yet, I’ll spend a bit trying to explain it. Basically, America’s final great war (called the Heartland War) was between two forces (Pro-Choice and Pro-Life) that just couldn’t reach an agreement. To stop further bloodshed, a third party (U.S. military) offered a solution to the age-long debate/war. The solution was unwinding. To make the Pro-Lifers happy, no one could get an abortion. All babies must be born and raised; however, you could choose to “unwind” your child from the time they turned 13 through his/her 18th birthday. The catch? Every single piece of the body has to be reused. (Yeah, think about that for a moment!) The military thought it was such a crazy idea that both sides would see the folly in their fighting and come to more peaceful terms. But you know that seldom happens when you’re dealing with politics. Both sides loved the idea! This is pretty thought provoking stuff, and that’s not even mentioning “the scene” near the end of the book. Good golly. It makes Saw IV look like an 80s Care Bear movie. There are no rainbows and unicorns in this one, folks.

This is a dark read. The subject matter is disturbing, but it’s written with great skill and care. I do not think it’s suitable for younger readers because there is a fair amount of graphic violence within the book. Do I think this book should be read? Absolutely! It would be a disservice to your country to not read this book. (Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it is a great book.) I really hope I get an ARC of book 2, Unwholly, before August. I would wet my pants if I did. I want to know what happens next! The anticipation is killing me.  

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Waiting on Wednesday

I am obsessed with mermaids. Period. So when I came across this one, I got excited. It features a merman. Hubba hubba.

Luckily for me, this one hit the shelves on May 1st. =)


WreckedEver since the death of her parents, Miranda has lived on Whym Island, taking comfort in the local folklore, which claims a mysterious sea witch controls the fate of all on the island and in its surrounding waters. Sometimes it’s just easier to believe things are out of your control.

But then a terrible boating accident takes the lives of several of her friends, and Miranda is rescued by a mysterious boy who haunts her dreams. Consumed by guilt from the accident, she finds refuge in late-night swims—and meets Christian, a boy who seems eerily familiar, but who is full of mystery: He won’t tell her where he is from, or why they can only meet at the beach. But Miranda falls for him anyway…and discovers that Christian’s secrets, though meant to protect her, may bring her nothing but harm.    

Review: Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone (Kat Rosenfield) + Giveaway

Product Details:
Reading Level: YA
Pages: 277
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile (July 5, 2012)
ISBN: 9780525423898
Source: ARC from author in exchange for an honest review
Read it in 1 day


Amelia Anne is Dead and GoneBecca has always longed to break free from her small, backwater hometown. But the discovery of an unidentified dead girl on the side of a dirt road sends the town--and Becca--into a tailspin. Unable to make sense of the violence of the outside world creeping into her backyard, Becca finds herself retreating inward, paralyzed from moving forward for the first time in her life.

Short chapters detailing the last days of Amelia Anne Richardson's life are intercut with Becca's own summer as the parallel stories of two young women struggling with self-identity and relationships on the edge twist the reader closer and closer to the truth about Amelia's death.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone, but I can honestly say I was pleasantly surprised with what I read.
For some reason I thought there was a paranormal element to this book. I have no idea why that ever entered my mind—the synopsis gives no hint of anything paranormal related. I guess I’ve been so overwhelmed with all things supernatural lately, that I just assumed I was reading another book in the genre. Shame on me. In case you share my own folly, know that this is not a paranormal book. It’s a murder mystery mixed with a coming of age story.

I thought the author’s ability to mix two stories (from two different points of view) was brilliant. She did an amazing job making the story lines flow smoothly without seeming choppy. I was engrossed with Becca’s story from the first chapter. Her piece of crap boyfriend made my blood boil. (Read that first chapter and you’ll know what I’m talking about.) I spent most of the book waiting for Becca to realize how crappy her boyfriend was. I’m not sure if that’s how I was supposed to feel or not, but he definitely struck a nerve with me. Of course, he did have a few redeeming qualities. I couldn’t help but feel a tug at my heart when he described his mom’s death from cancer. His compassion for other people’s suffering becomes clear in the end (even if he is a slug to his girlfriend).
Mixed within the pages of Becca’s story is Amelia’s own tragic tale. When she finally realizes what she wants to be, it’s too much for those around her. The effects are tragic. In a way, the book is the coming of age story for two girls (un-coming of age story for the one that dies?). Both girls, Becca and Amelia, struggle with figuring out where they belong in the world and how the people they love fit into the puzzle. Both girls deal with horrendous heartache and life changing events... except one of them never gets the chance to grow from the experience.

Enough about the characters and the plot. Let’s talk about what really made this book special: the author’s writing. Her descriptions! Sigh. She has an eye for detail, that’s for sure. Her writing had a poetic element to it that made me think of prose at times. There were parts that were simply beautiful. It’s hard to believe that this was the author’s debut book. She is certainly talented, and I’m excited to see what else she will write in the future.   
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Giveaway of Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by the Story Siren to highlight all the wonderful bookish things bought, borrowed, downloaded, or received during the week.
I scored lots of great books this week from a friend/co-worker. We're both obsessed with YA literature, so it only made sense to make a list of "must read summer books" for one another. I just lucked out because my list came with several books!  
Borrowed:
 
 The Dying Breath (Forensic Mystery, # 4) The Christopher Killer (Forensic Mystery, #1) The Circle of Blood (Forensic Mystery, # 3) The Angel of Death (Forensic Mystery, # 2)
 
 
 
Received: (a signed copy too!)
 
 Unwind (Unwind, #1)
 
Bought:
 
 
Four Perfect Pebbles:: A Holocaust Story
I am beyond excited about reading Four Perfect Pebbles... Not only does it come highly recommended by a friend, but I will have the chance to meet the author next month when she speaks to our students. It's very exciting to experience living history!

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