Cover Love #3 - When the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen

Friday, July 29, 2011



As we all know, the book market (and the YA market in particular) is fast-becoming dominated by killer covers that rival the content of the books. I'm a self-professed cover slut, and I'm completely okay with that, but I think it's time we pay a little tribute to the fantastic covers on the market today. So, welcome to a brand new Friday feature at i swim for oceans!

Each week, I will feature a book with a cover that just blew my mind with its amazingness, and I invite you to join in. Simply post the cover, the author/publisher, the release date, why you love it and any other pertinent details you'd love to share with other cover-lovers out there. Want to join in? Simply link up and join the fun!


Title: When the Sea is Rising Red
Author: Cat Hellisen (Twitter)
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Publish Date: February 28, 2012
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Why I Have Cover Love: There's something so dark and twisted about this cover that just screams "READ ME" to me. We all know how I like the dark books, so this one sounds right up my alley. I think I like the idea that hidden between a haunting cover could be pages of hidden, beautiful magic.

What do you think? Are you dying of cover love over a certain book? Link up and share the love with the rest of us!

Witchlanders Review

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Title: Witchlanders
Author: Lena Coakley
Publisher: Atheneum
Published: August 30, 2011
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Pages: 411
Source: Publisher

High in their mountain covens, red witches pray to the Goddess, protecting the Witchlands by throwing the bones and foretelling the future.
It’s all a fake.

At least, that’s what Ryder thinks. He doubts the witches really deserve their tithes—one quarter of all the crops his village can produce. And even if they can predict the future, what danger is there to foretell, now that his people’s old enemy, the Baen, has been defeated?

But when a terrifying new magic threatens both his village and the coven, Ryder must confront the beautiful and silent witch who holds all the secrets. Everything he’s ever believed about witches, the Baen, magic and about himself will change, when he discovers that the prophecies he’s always scorned — Are about him.
Ryder doesn't believe in the power of the Witches that govern his mountain homeland. He longs to escape the hard labour of his family's farm in favour of a life by the sea, but his plans change drastically when he loses his father. Left to manage the farm, care for his eccentric mother and younger sisters, he is forced to accept the life he doesn't want. Falpian lives a very different life with the Baens. While mourning the loss of his twin brother at sea, he's sent to live alone in a tiny cottage during the winter. Fighting both his own grief and his father's discontent at his inability inherit the family's abilities, he finds his luck changes when a man appears with a scroll and tells him to open it in fifty days. Both Ryder and Falpian are set on a collision course that will ultimately define who they are as individuals and in their societies.

I don't read too much high fantasy. Honestly, I find a lot of it to be a bit too high-brow for me, and I want to feel like I'm becoming a part of the story. Witchlanders by the amazing Lena Coakley is one of those stories that allowed me to do so. Rich and engrossing, Witchlanders combines the enthralling nature of fantasy with powerful themes of tolerance, racial tension and religion. A single misstep could have unwound the delicate thread of this novel, but strong characters, a vibrant plot and a fabulous world within the pages kept the story alive and breathtaking. The world of Witchlanders is sure to live in my imagination for a very long time.

Alternate narration is always a bit tedious for me to read, but I have to say that Witchlanders manages to portray two very different boys with two entirely distinct voices with ease. By adding dual narration with views from both Falpian and Ryder, we're allowed insight into both character's minds, thus giving us insider perspectives to two very different and warring civilizations. Furthermore, it helped me develop a bond with both characters through Witchlanders, and it helped me feel like I understood where both characters were coming from with every action and inaction. The dynamic between the two (when they finally meet) also heightens the story astronomically. Truly, the nature and complexity of their interaction was tense, and true-to-life, as Witchlanders did not shy away from portraying their warring beliefs while feuding with their inner turmoil. Through it all, the prose is magical and picture-perfect, drawing you into a new world in Witchlanders.

All in all, Witchlanders was a beautiful and poetic read. The only thing I would wish to change would be the ending of the story. Though the ends are tied up, it's still a bit open-ended. Not quite a cliffhanger, mind you, but still a bit raw. I give it a 4.5 out of 5, and I'd recommend this to both YA and adult fans, especially those who enjoy high fantasy novels.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Waiting on Wednesday 7/27

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine, and specifically spotlights upcoming novels we can't wait to read. As always, there are some amazing upcoming books, but this week I'm particularly excited for...

Title: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher: Poppy
Published: January 2, 2012
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 256

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's in seat 18B. Hadley's in 18A.

Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.
You know what The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight sounds like it has? Whimsy. I'm looking for a lil' of that on my shelf these days. More and more, I'm beginning to find some great contemps out there, and I love that this is set in such a restricted time period. If done well, this could make for a fabulous and unique read. Plus, let's be honest...who doesn't want to believe in love at first sight? What do you think, and what are you waiting on this week?

Top Ten Tuesday {11}

Tuesday, July 26, 2011






Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over at The Broke and the Bookish. They'd love to share their lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week they will post a new top ten list that one of our bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.
Top Ten Books Tackling "Tough" Issues (social, cultural, etc.):

1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury - This book will always, always be on my list. Censorship is at the core of the story, but it's about someone who is willing to dare to think for himself and step outside the invisible box of censorship.

2. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson - As some of you know, eating disorders hit close to home for me (very much so). Written in a powerful voice that's all too familiar and real, this book is a true and accurate portrayal of how an ED consumes both the mind and body. (beware - it can be triggering)

3. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini - More than anything, this book is about the true nature of family and survival in the midst of a war raging around them in volatile Afghanistan.

4. Amen, Amen, Amen by Abby Sher - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder drives this story as a young girl tries to cope with her grief by praying hour after hour every day. Without the prayers, she's certain her world will fall apart.

5. Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar - Contemporary fiction at it's finest, this is the story of a girl trying to come to terms with an act of violence that's shaped her into a brand new person and somehow trying to come to terms with the past while dealing with the present.

6. Rabbit Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington - This is the story of three young girls ripped from their homes because of the colour of their skin, forced to become culturally white and taught that their aboriginal heritage was wrong. The girls escape and fight all odds to return to their home.

7. A Child Called "It" by Dave Pelzer - Beaten, bruised, broken down to the core, this story of a boy degraded by his own mother to the point where he was an "it" rather than her son rocks you to the core. It's a story of survival and courage.

8. Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers - Bullying has never seemed so real, or tangible or destructive as this portrayal of what girls can and might just do to one another if they feel threatened.

9. The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin - This story of abuse and addiction is hard-hitting and powerful, written in letter form from an older brother to a younger sister as he tries to show her how their past shaped their present.

10. A Stolen Life by Jaycee Lee Dugard - If you don't know the story of Jaycee, you've probably been living under a rock. Kidnapped at 11 years old and kept confined for 18 years by a convicted sex offender, she persevered, raised two daughters and lived to make it home to her family once again. Powerful and emotional, it's for sure a tear-jerker, too.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer Review

Monday, July 25, 2011

Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin (Twitter)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: September 27, 2011
Genre: YA, Psychological Thriller
Pages: 464
Source: Publisher

Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there. 

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed. 

There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love. 

She's wrong.
Mara's life is nothing like it used to be. The biggest problem before the accident was the fact that Claire might be usurping her place as her best friend's new best friend. Mara's family moves to Miami for a fresh start, but Mara's troubles follow her, and her troubles begin to go from bad to worse. She's seeing things, hearing voices and she's pretty sure she's dangerously unstable. The one person that could center her is as mysterious as her condition, but as dangerously handsome and charming as they get. Can Mara reach the bottom of her troubled past before her world crumbles around her?

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is a thrill ride; plain and simple. However, while that surmises what many of you might have already guessed, it doesn't even begin to come close to adequately portraying what a masterpiece Michelle Hodkin has created in her debut novel. Rich and engrossing, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is rife with dark humour, snarky characters and white-knuckle suspense from start to finish. Michelle Hodkin is a genius when it comes to setting a scene. Balancing a perfect description of each setting while allowing the characters to sing through so they never become overpowered by mundane details, the world of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer comes alive. Brimming with tension and suspense, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is sure to find a place on every book-lover's shelf.

First and foremost, I have to say that Mara was very much a mystery to me throughout much of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, but that's not to say that I didn't get to know her. It's the not-knowing that made her that much more intriguing, if that makes sense. Every time I think I had a grasp on what was going on with her, she threw me for a loop and had me grasping at straws, yet again. Jamie, Mara's new best friend was a hilarious oddity, as well. He added a layer of intrigue to the host of secondary characters, each of whom had their own distinct personality. In the same breath, I'd like to say that Daniel, Mara's older brother, was a perfect counterpart to Mara, herself. His steady demeanor was the very opposite of Mara's tumultuous self, but their interaction was genuine and honest - very much that of a brother and sister. Then there's Noah Shaw. Good Lord. Noah Shaw. He will forever be the boy that I compare all YA boys to from now on...perhaps real boys, as well. On the surface, his surly player facade had me screaming for mercy, but when you added the layer of hidden, genuine charm and concern, he epitomizes perfection. Through it all, however, I must not forget that while the characters were phenomenal, the plot was equally so. I never once knew where The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was heading, but it was visual, and it was tense, and I was enthralled and breathless long after the very last page.

I cannot sing the praises of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer enough. This book, in my humble opinion, is what makes the genre so great. Merging a powerful premise with an equally stunning and original plot, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer gets a 6 out of 5 from me (as well as edges into my top ten), and the ending left me absolutely desperate for book two like...yesterday. I highly recommend this book to all fans of YA, as well as fans of adult books, especially those who enjoy psychological thrillers and dark tones. There is some mature language and insinuations, so do keep that under consideration.

I received this ARC free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

In My Mailbox 7/24

Sunday, July 24, 2011

In My Mailbox is an amazing weekly meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren that features the books we have received during the week. It's so much fun because we get to see what our fellow bloggers stumbled upon this week and add even more to our piles of books! Without further ado, this week I received the following books:


FOR REVIEW

Never Have I Ever (The Lying Game #2) by Sara Shepard - (ARC - Thank you, HarperTeen)

Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer - (ARC - Thank you, Harcourt)

The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1) by Maureen Johnson - (ARC - Thank you, HarperTeen)


BOUGHT

The Iron King (Iron Fey #1) by Julie Kagawa

Cover Love #2 - Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver

Friday, July 22, 2011



As we all know, the book market (and the YA market in particular) is fast-becoming dominated by killer covers that rival the content of the books. I'm a self-professed cover slut, and I'm completely okay with that, but I think it's time we pay a little tribute to the fantastic covers on the market today. So, welcome to a brand new Friday feature at i swim for oceans!

Each week, I will feature a book with a cover that just blew my mind with its amazingness, and I invite you to join in. Simply post the cover, the author/publisher, the release date, why you love it and any other pertinent details you'd love to share with other cover-lovers out there. Want to join in? Simply link up and join the fun!

Title: Liesl & Po
Author: Lauren Oliver (Twitter...Facebook)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publish Date: October 4, 2011
Fun Fact: Apparently the ARCs came out in adorable cutout theatre boxes - as magical as the cover itself! I got my copy at BEA, so I didn't get one, but I believe it. I saw a hint of it on Lauren's blog.
Why I Have Cover Love: It's enchanting, obviously. Remember those Grimm's fairy tales with the classic, ornate covers? This is like a throwback to that, and I'm excited to have something more artsy on my shelves.

What do you think? Are you dying of cover love over a certain book? Link up and share the love with the rest of us!


Shelter Review

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Title: Shelter
Author: Harlan Coben
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Published: September 6, 2011
Genre: YA, Mystery
Pages: 288
Source: Publisher

Mickey Bolitar's year can't get much worse. After witnessing his father's death and sending his mom to rehab, he's forced to live with his estranged uncle Myron and switch high schools.

A new school comes with new friends and new enemies, and lucky for Mickey, it also comes with a great new girlfriend, Ashley. For a while, it seems like Mickey's train-wreck of a life is finally improving - until Ashley vanishes without a trace. Unwilling to let another person walk out of his life, Mickey follows Ashley's trail into a seedy underworld that reveals that this seemingly sweet, shy girl isn't who she claimed to be. And neither was Mickey's father. Soon, Mickey learns about a conspiracy so shocking that it makes high school drama seem like a luxury - and leaves him questioning everything about the life he thought he knew.
Mickey should have known nothing was as it seemed. He thought his year couldn't get worse than his father dying and his mother's breakdown, but switching schools is the icing on the cake. Mickey is surprised, however, to find that he makes unusual friends and he even has his eye on a pretty girl in school. But when Ashley vanishes, Mickey finds that his uncle's deep-seeded determination to help those he cares about him is rooted within him, as well. Mickey's quest to save Ashley unfolds a bizarre and mysterious conspiracy though, and he's about to learn that nothing is as it seems, and those he trusts most might not be the best to trust in after all.

I'll be honest. I've never read anything by Harlan Coben, but I will say that I've heard amazing things about his Myron Bolitar series for adults. Yes, I know I'm an adult. That's neither here nor there. Harlan Coben is a masterful plotter, merging an intricate story into a pulse-pounding adventure that's sure to delight younger readers. Shelter's prose is simple without feeling dumbed-down, the characters are relatable without feeling false and the story is cohesive from start to finish. It's the perfect way to set up an intriguing mystery series.

Shelter is a prime example of when a good book features secondary characters that truly take the cake. I liked Mickey, don't get me wrong. He was sincere, genuine and felt real, but his friends, Ema and Spoon surpass him in intrigue. Ema was a tough girl, though perhaps a bit stereotyped as a goth, but she had this strength that just resounded throughout the story and made her the ultimate bad-ass sidekick. Spoon provided picture-perfect comic relief with his nerdiness that added an element of humour to a pretty intense story. They fed well into the overall plot of Shelter, fueling it along. I will admit that I had a few issues with Shelter - the most prominent being that some scenes seemed a bit too convenient. If a character or object was needed to further the story, it would seemingly appear out of thin air without any backstory. Don't get me wrong - I know that not everything needs backstory, but if it's crucial to the plot, I want to know it was there all along. My only other real issue with Shelter was the use of certain terms and references that I simply don't think apply to the teenage populace today. Perhaps that's an issue of an author transitioning from adult to YA, though, and it's a personal preference, as it didn't really hinder the story.

Overall, Shelter was an action-packed and intriguing story that's sure to set up another great series. Plus, it's one of the few YA thrillers without a paranormal element, so that's a bonus. I give it a 3.5 out of 5, and I'd recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy mysteries and thrillers. Fans of Harlan Coben will likely enjoy this new series.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Waiting on Wednesday 7/20

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine, and specifically spotlights upcoming novels we can't wait to read. As always, there are some amazing upcoming books, but this week I'm particularly excited for...

Title: Seizure (Virals #2)
Author: Kathy Reichs
Publisher: Razorbill
Published: October 18, 2011
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Mystery
Pages: 464

Ever since Tory Brennan and her friends rescued Cooper, a kidnapped wolf pup with a rare strain of canine parvovirus, they've turned from regular kids into a crime-solving pack. But now the very place that brought them together - the Loggerhead Island Research Institute - is out of funding and will have to shut down. That is, unless the Virals can figure out a way to save it.

So when Tory learns of an old Charleston legend about a famous she-pirate, Anne Bonney, whose fortune was never found, she can't believe her luck - buried treasure is exactly what she needs to save the Institute on Loggerhead! Trouble is, she and her friends aren't the only ones looking for it. And this time, the Virals' special powers may not be enough to dig them out of trouble . . .
I don't care what anyone says. I really enjoyed Virals. I thought it was a fun, engaging and really adventurous read. Plus, I'm a diehard Bones fan, and Tory is pretty much a lil' baby Bones. So, if you like Temperance Brennan, Tory Brennan is a character you must meet. I'm interested to see where their newfound abilities take them next, and Seizure sounds like it has the ability to surpass book one, which is totally a plus for me. Series should always get better! What do you think, and what are you waiting on this week?

Top Ten Tuesday {10}

Tuesday, July 19, 2011






Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over at The Broke and the Bookish. They'd love to share their lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week they will post a new top ten list that one of our bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.
Top Ten Books You Believe Should Be Required Reading For Teens :

1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling - Yes, the entire series. So many people love the movies, so why not get them to love the books, too? Let's be honest - as great as the flicks are, the books are always better. Plus, this series proves that reading IS fun.

2. Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler - Despite those who think that, perhaps, the title is a bit too loose, shall we say, this book is phenomenal. Teens mess up. Teens make mistakes, and teens cope with trauma in different ways. This book is hard-hitting and well-written.

3. Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar - I said I hated contemps until I read this book, then I realized I had to take it back. The story has depth, the characters ring true and the heart-wrenching story lingers long after.

4. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee - There are a ton of obtuse classics out there that just kill me with their lack of relevance to our day in age. This is NOT one of those books. If there are any of you who haven't read this book, you are missing out.

5. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult - This is not marketed for a younger audience, and a lot of the author's work escapes me to this day, but this book is powerful, heartbreaking and real. I highly recommend this to both YA and adult readers.

6. Many Waters by Madeleine L'Engle - Whether you're religious or not, I'm sure you know the story of Noah's Ark. I don't love too many of her books, but the blend of history, sci-fi, romance and family makes this book powerful for all ages - especially teens.

7. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein - We all know of my love of animals. This book merges the pure soul of an unbiased dog with the values of family, love, humour and a true account of the oddity that is human life. I can't recommend this book enough to teens.

8. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls - I'm a huge fan of memoirs, but this one stands apart. The story of a girl growing up in a family with different dreams and lower means, this book is about coming to terms with your own identity and growing up to be your best despite what stands in your way.

9. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold - I remember when I first read this book. I thought it was horrifying, fascinating, incredible, powerful and it left me speechless. The writing is brilliant and the soul of the story leaps from the pages.

10. Watership Down by Richard Adams - Don't let the premise or the length of this book fool you. Though nearly 500 pages in length, each page resonates with meaning, and the theme of man's destructive impact on nature, the importance of friendship, teamwork and perseverance and the value of family makes this a must read for teens.

Circle Nine Review

Monday, July 18, 2011

Title: Circle Nine
Author: Anne Heltzel
Publisher: Candlewick
Published: September 13, 2011
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Thriller
Pages: 272
Source: Publisher

She knows only Sam, a mysterious teenage boy. He is her sole companion; her whole life. She was born, already a teenager, lying outside a burning building in soot-stained clothes, remembering nothing, not even her name. He showed her the necklace she had on, the one that named her: Abby. Sam brought her to live in his cave-palace, where he gives her everything she needs. He loves her. He protects her from the world outside, from everyone who wants to hurt them, like the denizens of Circle Nine, Dante’s deepest circle of hell.

But even in a charmed, brand-new life like Abby’s, change will come. Sam falls ill. A new girl comes to stay, and Abby begins to question Sam’s devotion. With doubt comes emotional turmoil, changes in perception, and glimpses of her past identity.

Abby can't remember anything. When she wakes, she doesn't know where she is, who she is, or what is happening, but there is a fire, and she has to escape. The only person around to help her is Sam. She doesn't know who he is, but he says he can help her, and she feels as though she can trust him, so she does. The pair begin a life together in what Sam calls a cave-palace - a world central to the two of them alone, with the world outside called Circle Nine. Abby can't remember anything though, and her dark, blank past is edging into her deliriously simple life. When the fragments of memories begin flooding back, the darkness begins to consume her life, and she realizes that Sam, her life and all her surroundings are false...but is she strong enough to escape them, or will her past consume her future, too?

I rarely read a book that leaves me so completely speechless that I'm unable to post a review on the day I'd planned, but Circle Nine has presented that to me. Anne Heltzel has spun an equal-parts mesmerizing and horrific psychological thriller with Circle Nine that grips the reader with talon-like prose from start to finish. Calling such a book simply "horror" or "contemporary" would be a crime because Circle Nine manages to merge the genres into one potent, powerful and hard-hitting book that is sure to affect every reader in a different way. With a voice that's achingly raw and ravaged, Circle Nine still has me in its grip long after I've finished it.

I cannot say that I loved Circle Nine because to say I loved it would mean that I completely missed the story of Abby altogether. I loved the writing, I loved the power behind every word and I loved that every action and inaction in Circle Nine had a purpose. That said, there was so much about Circle Nine that made me angry, frightened and hollow, too. Abby's world was written in an almost dreamlike state from her first-person perspective, making it that much more tangible, so when it began to crumble around her in a world of sexual and emotional abuse, the reader is strung along as Abby endures and struggles to survive in a world that's ravaged and without a past. We don't watch her world crumble around her; we live it with her, and as it spirals into that ninth circle of hell, we long for relief, too. Sam was a character that I loathed (and for good reason), and yet from Abby's perspective, there was a part of me that wanted to find that child within him and set him free, too. That, and all the conflicting emotions I felt, is what made Circle Nine such a powerful and tumultuous read.

Circle Nine is not for the faint of heart, but if you want to read an incredibly powerful read, this is the book for you. The only thing that left me unsatisfied was the ending, but that's just my desire for a true sense of closure, and all I felt was an unsteady calm. I give this book a 4 out of 5, and I'd highly recommend it to fans of upper YA and adult books, especially those who enjoy dark contemporary fiction and psychological thrillers.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

BEA Giveaway #3 - The Iron Witch

Sunday, July 17, 2011

As you all know, I had the great privilege and honour of attending BookExpo America in May, and I'm still swimming in a huge sea of books (many of which are duplicates). So, what better way to celebrate our shared love of reading than to offer some books in a giveaway to all you lovely people, eh?! In that spirit, we're onto giveaway number 3...here's what's up for grabs:

February 8, 2001 - Flux
Freak. That's what her classmates call seventeen-year-old Donna Underwood. When she was seven, a horrific fey attack killed her father and drove her mother mad. Donna's own nearly fatal injuries from the assault were fixed by magic—the iron tattoos branding her hands and arms. The child of alchemists, Donna feels cursed by the magical heritage that destroyed her parents and any chance she had for a normal life. The only thing that keeps her sane and grounded is her relationship with her best friend, Navin Sharma.

When the darkest outcasts of Faerie—the vicious wood elves—abduct Navin, Donna finally has to accept her role in the centuries old war between the humans and the fey. Assisted by Xan, a gorgeous half-fey dropout with secrets of his own, Donna races to save her friend—even if it means betraying everything her parents and the alchemist community fought to the death to protect.

Awesome, right?! Here are the rules to enter: You do NOT have to be a follower but, as always, it's always appreciated. This giveaway is open internationally and will end promptly at midnight on Sunday, July 24th. Still interested?

Click HERE to enter!

In My Mailbox 7/17

In My Mailbox is an amazing weekly meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren that features the books we have received during the week. It's so much fun because we get to see what our fellow bloggers stumbled upon this week and add even more to our piles of books! Without further ado, this week I received the following books:

FOR REVIEW
(eARC) - Thank you, Galley Grab

High in their mountain covens, red witches pray to the Goddess, protecting the Witchlands by throwing the bones and foretelling the future. It’s all a fake.

At least, that’s what Ryder thinks. But when a terrifying new magic threatens both his village and the coven, Ryder must confront the beautiful and silent witch who holds all the secrets. Everything he’s ever believed about witches, the Baen, magic and about himself will change, when he discovers that the prophecies he’s always scorned — Are about him.

FOR REVIEW
(eARC) - Thank you, Galley Grab

Pearl is a sixteen-year-old vampire... fond of blood, allergic to sunlight, and mostly evil... until the night a sparkly unicorn stabs her through the heart with his horn. Oops.

Her family thinks she was attacked by a vampire hunter (because, obviously, unicorns don't exist), and they're shocked she survived. They're even more shocked when Pearl discovers she can now withstand the sun. But they quickly find a way to make use of her new talent. The Vampire King of New England has chosen Pearl's family to host his feast. 


FOR REVIEW
(ARC) - Thank you, BYR

 Dead End in Norvelt is the story of an incredible two months for a boy named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation adventure are suddenly ruined when he is grounded by his feuding parents for what seems like forever.

But escape comes where Jack least expects it, once he begins helping an elderly neighbor with a most unusual chore—a chore involving the newly dead, molten wax, twisted promises, Girl Scout cookies, underage driving, lessons from history, obituaries, Hells Angels, and countless bloody noses.

Cover Love #1 - Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Friday, July 15, 2011



As we all know, the book market (and the YA market in particular) is fast-becoming dominated by killer covers that rival the content of the books. I'm a self-professed cover slut, and I'm completely okay with that, but I think it's time we pay a little tribute to the fantastic covers on the market today. So, welcome to a brand new Friday feature at i swim for oceans!

Each week, I will feature a book with a cover that just blew my mind with its amazingness, and I invite you to join in. Simply post the cover, the author/publisher, the release date, why you love it and any other pertinent details you'd love to share with other cover-lovers out there. Want to join in? Simply link up and join the fun!


Title: Shatter Me
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publish Date: November 15, 2011
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Fun Fact: The "shatter" effect on the cover behind the model is not computer-generated, but rather a unique photography method called light painting by Aurora Crowley. Needless to say, it's gorgeous.
Why I Have Cover Lust: The contrast between dark and light + the fierce model + the unique font and the awesome title = perfection. Want.

What do you think? Are you dying of cover lust over a certain book? Link up and share the love with the rest of us!


Clean Review

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Title: Clean
Author: Amy Reed
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Published: August 9, 2011
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 288
Source: Netgalley/Publisher

Olivia, Kelly, Christopher, Jason, and Eva have one thing in common: They’re addicts. Addicts who have hit rock bottom and been stuck together in rehab to face their problems, face sobriety, and face themselves. None of them wants to be there. None of them wants to confront the truths about their pasts. But they’ll all have to deal with themselves and one another if they want to learn how to live. Because when you get that high, there’s nowhere to go but down, down, down.
Olivia, Kelly, Christopher, Jason and Eva have next to nothing in common except their addictions, but even their addictions are nothing like each other's. Each facing emotional baggage, addiction and a desire to lose themselves, they're forced into rehab in Seattle to regain a handle on their lives and get back to the promising futures they once had. To change though, they must first admit their problems before they can take the necessary steps to get better. Some want to, but the others are in denial. One thing is certain - they have to learn to accept themselves, but they might just need each other to do so.

I don't read too many books about addiction. Disorders, yes. Diseases and death, yes. Addictions though...not so much, and I don't know why. Addiction is not something I'm really familiar with, but I know that it can grip one's life and never let go. Clean does a remarkable job of accurately portraying addiction, the effects it has on one's life and what might be behind a teen's addiction, as well. Amy Reed presents the reader with a no-holds-barred account of life in the grips of an addiction that's debilitating to the minds, bodies and souls of everyday teens. Filled with raw emotion, realistic situations and a powerful, resonant theme, Clean is tangible and powerful.

I think one of the most intriguing things about Clean was the style in which it was written. I have a fascination with books and authors that break the mold and dare to do something a little different. In the case of Clean, the book is told through a series of essays, narratives and sessions, lending the reader an insider perspective to the teens' lives in rehab. This could easily have been botched and felt false, but Clean presented it in a very real, believable manner, making the characters relatable and harrowing. I felt for them. I laughed for them, and I definitely teared up for them, as well. Though featuring a large cast of characters, Clean managed to fully flesh out each one, too, and each character had a specific impact on the book, which was great. The only issue I really had with Clean was the crass language that was so prominent throughout. Don't get me wrong...I know that teens swear. Hell, I swear. That said, I don't necessarily want to read it on every page to the extent that it actually makes me cringe. However, the positives did outweigh this negative for me in Clean.

All in all, Clean was a powerful and intriguing read that made me step out of my comfort zone and read about something new. I give it a strong 3.5 out of 5, and I'd recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction and issue books. I also recommend it to an upper YA audience due to graphic language.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Waiting on Wednesday 7/12

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine, and specifically spotlights upcoming novels we can't wait to read. As always, there are some amazing upcoming books, but this week I'm particularly excited for...

Title: Shattered Souls
Author: Mary Lindsay
Publisher: Philomel
Published: December 8, 2011
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Pages: 336

Lenzi hears voices and has visions - gravestones, floods, a boy with steel gray eyes. Her boyfriend, Zak, can't help, and everything keeps getting louder and more intense. Then Lenzi meets Alden, the boy from her dreams, who reveals that she's a reincarnated Speaker - someone who can talk to and help lost souls - and that he has been her Protector for centuries.

Now Lenzi must choose between her life with Zak and the life she is destined to lead with Alden. But time is running out: a malevolent spirit is out to destroy Lenzi, and he will kill her if she doesn't make a decision soon.
There haven't been too many paranormal books that have really struck me as original lately, but when I saw the cover for Shattered Souls and read the premise, I was completely sold. There's hints of love, a twisty darkness to it and an awesome-sounding plot. This one is a definite must-read for me! What do you think, and what are you waiting on this week?

The Beginning of After Review

Monday, July 11, 2011

Title: The Beginning of After
Author: Jennifer Castle
Publisher: HarperTeen
Published: September 6, 2011
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 432
Source: Publisher/Netgalley

Sixteen-year-old Laurel's world changes instantly when her parents and brother are killed in a terrible car accident. Behind the wheel is the father of her bad-boy neighbor, David Kaufman, whose mother is also killed. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Laurel navigates a new reality in which she and her best friend grow apart, boys may or may not be approaching her out of pity, overpowering memories lurk everywhere, and Mr. Kaufman is comatose but still very much alive.

Through it all, there is David, who swoops in and out of Laurel's life and to whom she finds herself attracted against her better judgment. She will forever be connected to him by their mutual loss, a connection that will change them both in unexpected ways.
Laurel's teenage life was forever changed when she learned that life and living can be changed in a single, fleeting instant. In that moment she goes from the ordinary girl-next-door to the girl who lost her family to a horrific accident caused by the town bad-boy's father. Laurel is forced to navigate her grief while balancing the life she once had, but it begins to slip through the cracks and as her friends drift away, she isn't sure who she can trust anymore. But there's David - David who is the bad boy...David who's father caused the death of her family...and David who understands her loss. Why does something so right have to feel so wrong?

I'll be honest. I'm going to throw it out there that I'm a bit tired of the whole death in teenage contemps thing, but I am pleased to see just how delicately The Beginning of After navigated the depths of such a painful and powerful issue. It would have been easy to become lost in the cliche of the story, but author Jennifer Castle created a touching cast of characters with Laurel and David in the forefront, giving the reader a firsthand glimpse at the depth of sorrow, the beauty of hope and the potential for love to spring from even the darkest, most painful depths of life. With a powerful voice and a rich, hopeful message, The Beginning of After is a story that truly steps out of the mold and into a new realm.

I think the true beauty of The Beginning of After was the believability of the characters and Laurel in particular. Watching how Laurel navigated the stages of grief in her own way was both harrowing and intriguing. In a sense, she pushed her grief aside and fixated herself on the intricacies besides the loss of her parents and brother, but in others, you saw her walls crumble just a little to see this hole of despair eating away at her. David was the perfect balance for Laurel. While she was a shy, somewhat ordinary teen, David was this rebellious character filled with angst and tension. Yet, their dual loss spun them in a web of grief together. The Beginning of After balanced a precarious relationship by building it slowly through their feelings, rather than some cliche and overdone physical attraction that usually kills the story. Rather than passion, we get comfort, and rather than a surface-level love, we get a soul-like spiritual connection between two vastly different but entirely charismatic characters. So, while the plot of The Beginning of After might have been the cliche I was anticipating, the characters made the story.

All in all, The Beginning of After was a powerful read that I truly believe anyone can and will appreciated. With a fresh voice and perspective, it's sure to carve itself into a nice niche in the YA market. I give it a 4.5 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to all fans of YA, as well as adult fiction, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction.

I received this eARC free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

In My Mailbox 7/10

Sunday, July 10, 2011

In My Mailbox is an amazing weekly meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren that features the books we have received during the week. It's so much fun because we get to see what our fellow bloggers stumbled upon this week and add even more to our piles of books! Without further ado, this week I received the following books:

FOR REVIEW
Thank you, Egmont, USA

"I do not remember being bitten. I wish I did, for then I would know the creature who did this to me and I would have a purpose, to track him down and repay him for the poisoned gift he gave me."

Back in the 13th Century, Will was destined to be Earl of Mercia. He never lived to inherit his title, struck down by a strange illness and buried beneath the city walls. But Will was not dead, and only now, seven lonely centuries later, does he begin to understand that there was a reason for all of this, that he has a destiny.

FOR REVIEW
Thank you, Hyperion

High school senior Justina Griffith was never the girl who dreamed of going to prom. Designer dresses and strappy heels? Not her thing. So she never expected her best friend, Ian Clark, to ask her.

Ian, who always passed her the baseball bat handle first. Ian, who knew exactly when she needed red licorice. Ian, who promised her the most amazing night at prom.

And then ditched her.

FOR REVIEW
Thank you, Becca

Amanda Chelsea. The Beacon. A friend. A sister. And... and... a daughter? Now part of the legacy, Amanda has exactly what she wanted, but the price she paid comes back to haunt her. The true terrors of the Wynter Chelsea legacy are exposed, and is it everything she thought it would be? As Jack Chelsea struggles to accept his position as leader, Killian steps in as a tyrannical replacement.

When the situation doesn't seem like it can get much worse, Dustin distances himself from Amanda.

The Near Witch Review

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Title: The Near Witch
Author: Victoria Schwab
Publisher: Hyperion
Published: August 2, 2011
Genre: YA, Paranormal Fantasy
Pages: 288
Source: Publisher

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. And there are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life. But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.
Lexi lives in a Near, a town much like any small town. Nestled on the edge of the forest, it offers quaint simplicity, family values and a charm all its own. But Near has mysteries of its own. Stories of the wind and secrets of a dark presence and past linger on the lips of the town, and when they become reality and children start disappearing from their beds at night, reality sets in. The townsfolk want their children back, and when a strange new boy appears in town, it becomes easy to find an unfamiliar face to blame. Lexi isn't sure it's quite that simple though, and she won't stop at anything to find the real truth in Near.

Every so often, there is an author and a book that blows your mind with the elegance and grace in which a story is told. The Near Witch is that book. Perhaps it's not an entirely unheard of idea, and perhaps you might be tired of the same-old, same-old, but Victoria Schwab has proven with The Near Witch that even a familiar story can become something new and improved. With a stunning, lyrical and almost poetic voice, The Near Witch gives a flawless, picture-perfect image of a town lost in the clutches of an unknown force, while ultimately teaching the reader about love, truth and the true nature of fear.

I still have so many thoughts running through my head that it's going to be hard to paint an accurate portrayal of the beauty of The Near Witch. The characters, first and foremost, were probably the most eloquent aspect of the book for me. Lexi was the perfect protagonist - headstrong and honour-bound with a voice she wasn't afraid to raise. Cole, likewise, balanced her with a quiet, honest demeanor and a cross of his own to bear. The Near Witch did an interesting thing with the secondary characters though. Rather than giving us a plethora of well-defined characters, The Near Witch gave us a host of secondary characters that were more like sketches until their actions filled in the blanks and brought them to life. That, in a nutshell, is how the plot wove its way through the story. Effortlessly balancing a creepy undertone that seamlessly blends with a sweet, believable romance, as well, The Near Witch pretty much epitomizes perfection. The most important thing to mention is that The Near Witch resonates with reality despite the unrealistic elements. There is an ultimate basis of the truth of human nature in the story that is real, accessible and (at times) edge-of-your-seat creepy.

All in all, I was completely blown away by The Near Witch. I expected a good read, but this was far better than I'd anticipated, and Victoria Schwab has easily edged into my top ten favourite authors. I give it a 5 out of 5 (6, if I could), and I would highly recommend it to both fans of YA and adult books, especially those who enjoy paranormal, fantasy and contemporary fiction because there are elements of each.

I received this ARC free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Waiting on Wednesday 7/6

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine, and specifically spotlights upcoming novels we can't wait to read. As always, there are some amazing upcoming books, but this week I'm particularly excited for...

Title: The Probability of Miracles
Author: Wendy Wunder
Publisher: Razorbill
Published: December 8, 2011
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 336

Dry, sarcastic, sixteen-year-old Cam Cooper has spent the last seven years in and out hospitals. The last thing she wants to do in the short life she has left is move 1,500 miles away to Promise, Maine - a place known for the miraculous events that occur there.

But it's undeniable that strange things happen in Promise: everlasting sunsets; purple dandelions; flamingoes in the frigid Atlantic; an elusive boy named Asher; and finally, a mysterious envelope containing a list of things for Cam to do before she dies. As Cam checks each item off the list, she finally learns to believe - in love, in herself, and even in miracles.
I've found myself longing for a book with depth, meaning and a bit more feeling lately than what I've been reading. That's not to say the books I've been reading aren't great, but I want something that feels real and tugs at the heartstrings. The Probability of Miracles sounds like it fits the ticket in a nutshell. Part The Bucket List, part teenage angst, part learning to appreciate each day in its pure simplicity, it sounds like an amazing, memorable read, and I can't wait to try it. What do you think, and what are you waiting on this week?

Top Ten Tuesday {9}

Tuesday, July 5, 2011






Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over at The Broke and the Bookish. They'd love to share their lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week they will post a new top ten list that one of our bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.
Top Ten Rebels In Literature (characters or authors) -- Those people who stood up for what they believed in despite the cost of doing so:

1. Sirius Black from Harry Potter - I still cry like a baby when I think of how he loved Harry. 

2. Dumbledore from Harry Potter - This doesn't even need an explanation. Dumbledore. Always. Wins.

3. Caleb from Leaving Paradise - There's something about a bad boy with a cause.

4. Katniss from The Hunger Games - I have a love/hate with this character. Mostly love because she's a challenge.

5. Melinda from Speak - This is one of those characters that triumphs over incredible personal circumstances to find herself again - despite the cost.

6. Hagrid from Harry Potter - Where else will you find such a lovable giant? Seriously. Please tell me.

7. Rose from Vampire Academy - Snarky. Tough. Badass. Fighter. 'Nuff said.

8. Martin from Martin the Warrior - He's a warrior mouse with a mission to save Redwall and all its inhabitants. He has to be on this list. Obviously.

9. Kate from The Liar Society - So full of sass, so sure of the mystery and so hell-bent on solving it. Kate wins.

10. Cinna from The Hunger Games - Cinna is right up there with the rest of them. His rebellions are small, but crucial and I love his character to tiny pieces.

The Power of Six Review

Monday, July 4, 2011

Title: The Power of Six
Author: Pittacus Lore
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: August 23, 2011
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher

I've seen him on the news. Followed the stories about what happened in Ohio. John Smith, out there, on the run. To the world, he's a mystery. But to me . . . he's one of us.

Nine of us came here, but sometimes I wonder if time has changed us—if we all still believe in our mission. How can I know? There are six of us left. We're hiding, blending in, avoiding contact with one another . . . but our Legacies are developing, and soon we'll be equipped to fight. Is John Number Four, and is his appearance the sign I've been waiting for? And what about Number Five and Six? Could one of them be the raven-haired girl with the stormy eyes from my dreams? The girl with powers that are beyond anything I could ever imagine? The girl who may be strong enough to bring the six of us together?

They caught Number One in Malaysia. Number Two in England. And Number Three in Kenya. They tried to catch Number Four in Ohio—and failed. I am Number Seven. One of six still alive. And I'm ready to fight.
John and Six are on the run. After being tracked down, hunted and brutally attacked by the Mogadorians in his latest home in Ohio, John aka Number Four has no choice but to leave the life he set up, the girl he loves and all he's come to know and find familiar for the safety of a life on the run. Six is used to life on the road. It's how she stays safe. It's how she fights so well, and with John, she knows that she and the other Garde have a fighting chance to save their world. Though they were supposed to never meet, Six has a plan and with John, she hopes to unite the remaining Garde to save her dying race from the vengeful Mogadorians. Is her plan strong enough to save them all, or is it too risky, and will they lose their lives and their last hope?

You'll probably remember that I read I Am Number Four a bit back when it first came out, and I really enjoyed its unique approach to aliens living among us. So, naturally, when I heard that the next book in the planned series was coming out, I was excited. The Power of Six is the second book in the series about nine Lorien Garde sent to Earth to harness their Legacies, mature and go back home to save their world from a vengeful and vicious breed of fighters, the Mogadorians. Pittacus Lore has created an enthralling sequel in The Power of Six that not only sends the reader on a whirlwind of epic adventure, but spins a fantastic world of hope, power and faith in one another.

The Power of Six is what a sequel should be. Rather than complacently following in its predecessor's footsteps, The Power of Six amps up the story a notch or two, introducing us to not only Six, who you might remember from the first book, but also a few of the other remaining Garde, including Seven, from whom much of the story is told. It's important to note that The Power of Six takes a slightly different approach, developing multiple story lines which, eventually, intersect for a thrilling climax for the story. Furthermore, The Power of Six takes a good bit of time to really show us more about the infamous chests in which the Lorien Garde learn what they need to harness their Legacies which, might I add, are amazing. This, in turn, really enhances the characters, especially Six and Seven. Throw in a love triangle/square (remember Sarah? yeah, she's got a little competition in Six), a nonstop pace of action and adventure and a revelation about Sam and his Dad that will blow your mind, The Power of Six doesn't disappoint. I will admit, however, that the start is a bit slow, leading into the action with some backstory and image setup, but the pace sets off running from there.

All in all, The Power of Six is a great second installment to an action-packed series that's sure to please previous fans and new readers of the series, alike. I give it a very strong 4 out of 5, and I'd recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy sci-fi and stories involving aliens. Fans of I Am Number Four should relax, take a deep breath and enjoy the new viewpoint of The Power of Six because you still have plenty more of John to discover and enjoy.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Want to win an ARC of this book? Click HERE to find out how!

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