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Thursday, January 29, 2015

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Review: Talon by Julie Kagawa (Sophia is Highly Disappointed and Hollywood Must Be Royally Screwed)

Talon by Julie Kagawa

Talon Saga #1
Julie Kagawa
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Reviewer: Sophia

Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.

You know, when I first heard the movie rights to Talon had been bought before the book had even come out, I thought Talon would be as amazing and fantabulous as Kagawa's other books. Perhaps even the best book I would read in 2015, even better than Who R U Really, who currently reigns the top of the top books of 2015. (That probably sounds weird.)

Right now, Talon reigns as the worst dragon book I've read – and I mean worse than Going Down in Flames by Chris Cannon, which at least had an idea extraordinary enough that I would give Cannon a second chance with the sequel. Normally I'm excited when it comes to Julie Kagawa's writing. Fangirling. Anything you would do when you get a book written by one of your favorite authors. But with Talon though....

I feel cold. Unsatisfied. A little bored.

And certainly not a happy camper. Those are never a good sign that a book is going to go well. Plus, when I dislike a book... you're not a favorite author anymore. You're a former favorite author. Don't worry, it happens a lot.

Talon, as Jeann from Happy Indulgence has said, is your typical paranormal romance. And as I once said, I hate it when an eclipse happens in a book – where the romance overshadows the plot. Ember and Garret's romance so overshadows the plot, a whopping 77% – that's more than a bleeping three-fourths of the book – is focused on Ember Hill's developing romance with Garret Xavier Sebastien (what a mouthful), Ember's training, Ember beginning to question Talon and its motives, Ember and Riley feeling very attracted to each other yet they don't want to be attracted to each other, and the characters walking on water with each other while figuring each other out and where each of their loyalties lie, before something actually happens. It's pretty much halfway through the book when an epiphany happens (perhaps earlier), and you realize there is nothing much happening aside from what I listed earlier (and I'm not listing it again because that's a mouthful to write).

I basically spent the next unknown percent of the book trying to look for where and when and how – all those fabulous question starters (to which I can say with lightning speed and I enjoy spinning some people's heads around with that) – the fun actually begins. And by fun, I don't mean my definition of fun is screwed (like someone I know, who's definition of fun is crushing an opponent in chess and literally grinning slyly throughout the entire game, among other "fun" things). By fun, I mean something happens. Explosions! Ambushes! Running from an evil emperor (or anyone hunting said characters)! Brink of death by talking equations (only time that'll happen is science if you're not careful when experimenting with hazardous chemicals)! A mind-blowing epiphany!

Let's face it: It's great if you're all going undercover and trying to figure out who's on whose side, but seriously. Blaring alarms. Signs. Symptoms. Does anyone feel the pain? Yes? No? Then I can't help you, dear character. You are hopeless. I can merely dial 911 if you're bleeding profusely and try to staunch it.

And let's also face this fact: Hollywood is a little screwed. No offense, but they're obviously just looking for another franchise to replace Twilight, and turn everyone's minds away from the brightly burning embers of The Hunger Games and Divergent. Besides... 5 books right? That'll last 6 years before they need to go on another Twilight hunt if Talon is a blockbuster (considering the fact the last book is divided into Parts 1 and 2, of course).

2.5 Owls

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

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ARC Review: The Forgetting by Nicole Maggi (How Do You Feel About Amnesia?)

The Forgetting by Nicole Maggi

The Forgetting
Nicole Maggi
Publication Date: February 3, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Reviewer: Sophia

Georgie's new heart saved her life...but now she's losing her mind.

Georgie Kendrick wakes up after a heart transplant, but the organ beating in her chest doesn't seem to be in tune with the rest of her body. Why does she have a sudden urge for strawberries when she's been allergic for years? Why can't she remember last Christmas?

Driven to find her donor, Georgie discovers her heart belonged to a girl her own age who fell out of the foster care system and into a rough life on the streets. Everyone thinks she committed suicide, but Georgie is compelled to find the truth - before she loses herself completely.
Advanced review copy provided by Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley for review – thanks!

Here's a terrible way to approach a review: have almost nothing to say but few words (and here I thought I finally got over that little reviewing brain freeze I got early last year. This is going to become a bad habit, yes?). Nothing really negative, as I enjoyed reading The Forgetting, but saying, "I enjoyed the book" and leaving it at that just doesn't qualify. Someone would then most likely ask, "But why did you enjoy the book?"

I am, by no means, a fan of books that involve sex trafficking. It's a terrible thing and I really don't want to bother reading about the subject (if book club chooses a certain book from the Gateway Readers Award Nominees that's related to trafficking, I'm tucking my tail between my legs and running away).

Then again, I figured Nicole Maggi's The Forgetting would be something pretty different from other thrillers, seeing as a girl goes through a heart transplant and then suddenly starts losing some of her memories while gaining some memories of the heart's original owner. In order for Georgie to actually return back to her normal life from what she calls the "Catch" though, Georgie has to unravel how her new heart's owner really died before she loses all of her memories.
How could I have memories that didn’t belong to me? But they were there, as crystal clear as other memories I knew were mine.
The Forgetting faintly reminds me of a mystery show I once watched every Sunday on CBS (to which I forgot the name of, but it was always before the 10pm news), only this is just a one time thing and everything is back to normal completely (plus, I don't think that detective actually went through a transplant. More like a gut feeling. Either that, or he's a genius). It also reminded me a little of If I Stay and Where She Went, as Georgie spends a good part of the book panicking about not making into Julliard because its been her dream to go Julliard since she was a kid.
Would I graduate on time? Ace my Juilliard audition and start there in the fall?
But while Georgie seems to emphasize stressing and eventually questioning her decision to play the oboe for a lifetime after going (IF) to Julliard, it's very evenly balanced out and doesn't overshadow the overall plot of the book. (Though suddenly doing all the good stuff and whatnot is really odd unless Georgie does this on a daily basis... before the transplant.)

It is, however, pretty obvious that "Jane Doe" has unfinished business from early on in the book with the way the story plays out and how it was written (not that I mind). Some of the characters' actions do seem a little questionable – how does one not go after a person that's taking a file... and not leaving a print out? Or at least go on the hunt for the file? I mean, it's a government building! Seems a little odd they would actually let a file out and don't even try to get it back, unless it's in the future and therefore not part of the book (because what happens to Georgie after doesn't matter too much after she solves the mystery of Jane Doe's death).

Though The Forgetting is a little on the paranormal side (I haven't actually heard anything similar to Georgie's situation in real life), Maggi does convey the realities and horrors of trafficking through her latest book.

4.5 Owls

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

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Review: Pawn by Aimée Carter (Twisted Chess)

Pawn by Aimee Carter

The Blackcoat Rebellion #1
Aimée Carter
Publication Date: November 26, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Reviewer: Sophia


For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister's niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.

There's only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed …and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that's not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she's only beginning to understand.

In another lifetime, I may just say, "Pawn by Aimee Carter is FANTASTIC! You should totally read it!" (read: sarcasm) and then just go on with life from there.

In reality, Aimee Carter's first book in her newest series is well... okay. Better than The Goddess Test novels if you ask me, but in reading Pawn, I felt as though I was reading The Lying Game again (read: watched the TV show for a while, then stopped). The entire book is about a future America where everyone is tested at seventeen to prove their worth. I's suck and they go to "Elsewhere," II's and III's get a sucky life and job, IV's get a pretty decent life (certainly no short life), V's get a pretty wealthy lifestyle but not as much as VI's, and VII's are the Harts, the "fabulous" rulers and makers of the America of the future.

Has anyone noticed it's almost the exact backwards of how the castes of The Selection trilogy work, only it's not a "caste" that you're born into and stuck in forever? It's a great way to tell some people they're useless without actually hurting their feelings. I think I'd rather stick with being born as a Five or lower and never take the test. My self-confidence wouldn't be deflated.

Kitty Doe is just one of those people. She recently turns seventeen, takes a test, and ends up with a III.

Psychiatrist: So, Kitty Doe, how does it feel to be so close to a IV and decent life? *pauses as Kitty Doe gives answer* Oh, but wait. You don't have to be a III and have a sucky life and job like the other III's. You can be a VII – join the Harts, be a Hart. Doesn't that sound great?

Then again, when that offer is laid on the table, no one actually told Kitty Doe that she would be a Hart – she just got offered to be a VII. The end. Who wouldn't want to be a VII like the Harts and live a life in luxury? But Kitty's agreement to the offer pretty much turns her into Lila Hart, the niece of the Prime Minister, and the only thing that's the same between the two before Kitty is "masked" are their eyes. Complete strangers, not twins like The Lying Game, but still the same concept because Kitty has to act like Lila Hart and unravel the things Lila did before her "death."

Yet throughout the entire book, I also feel as though Lila 2.0 is literally a "pawn" to well... a Hart, and I couldn't help but think this entire book is a game of twisted chess (my first round in my first tournament resulted in me getting forked by a person who had a rating of well... over 1000). The Harts are the chessboard; some of the family members are white, some of them are black; Kitty and some other peeps – perhaps the entire country – are happy or sad little pawns that could potentially become powerful if they're not getting "captured" by the Harts.

Or in another scenario, the country and the people are the chessboard; the Harts are white, the rebels are black; anyone who's questioning the system and aren't sure of what side they're on are pawns. Gray pawns, but are there ever three sides to chess? Ha. Nope.

In terms that probably makes more sense, Kitty is a doormat for the majority of the book. A puppet with a spunky attitude, if you will, and as much Kitty isn't a doormat by the end of the book, I still feel as though Kitty has been played (read: used) by multiple members of the Hart family for their advantage in this complicated game of chess.

Much as this is all politically intriguing, in the world of books, only one side checkmates the other (no matter how complicated enough it gets that it baffles the referees) and the game is over. You shake hands, say good game, and then go on with life. Or perhaps, the next game/round.

So the million dollar question is, will I even bother with the sequel? Perhaps looking into it is the more accurate answer.

3.5 Owls

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

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Review: Gamer Girl by Mari Mancusi (Who R U Really's Bright Side)

Gamer Girl by Mari Mancusi

Gamer Girl
Mari Mancusi
Publication Date: November 13, 2008
Publisher: Dutton Children's Books
Reviewer: Sophia

What do you do if your ho-hum real life doesn't live up to your amazing virtual reality?

Maddy's life couldn't get much worse. Her parents split and now she's stuck in a small town and at a new school. Most of the time, she retreats into her manga art, but when she gets into the Fields of Fantasy online computer game, she knows she's found the one place she can be herself.

​In the game world, Maddy can be the beautiful and magical Allora and have a virtually perfect life. And she even finds a little romance. But can Maddy escape her real-life problems altogether, or will she have to find a way to make her real world just as amazing as her virtual one?

I was in the process of getting another book entirely at the library when I noticed Mari Mancusi's Gamer Girl peeking out from its hiding place between two other books. Being the occasional gamer myself (though currently I'm being a little too scholarly to even focus on gaming), I could definitely relate to the title (not so much the synopsis).

There's much to love about Gamer Girl: the synopsis made the book sound like a very happy book – something that I've been on the hunt for awhile. The cover is simplistic and gorgeous – it definitely puts down the entire idea of the book with the drawing of the main character, Maddy, and the avatar she uses in a game (Fields of Fantasy) she gets for her birthday shortly after her parents divorce. The interior is just as gorgeous as the cover – the chapter headings depict Maddy's main emotions she's feeling by the end of the chapter.

Mancusi's writing style and use of Maddy's voice is great as well – Maddy is a very relatable character and she has an attitude that isn't annoying, making the book feel perfectly paced as Maddy gets to know SirLeo in Fields of Fantasy and falls in love with him. For awhile it probably feels as though Maddy will find out SirLeo is really an online predator.

Much as I really loved Gamer Girl and Mancusi's writing style, the book feels as though it's aimed more toward middle grade than a high schooler my age. The book is stereotypical with Maddy being bullied by the "Royal Court" as soon as she starts a new school and Maddy tries to escape from the troubles of her reality by entering the gaming world and playing Fields of Fantasy with an elfin character named Allora, someone she would rather be. It all leads to a very cute and adorable ending with the popular guy falling for the outcast – very happy and light-hearted, and certainly not something you're likely to come across in real life, compared to the realistic drama of Margo Kelly's Who R U Really.

5 Owls

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

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Blog Tour: Perfect Escape - Guest Post + Giveaway

Title: Perfect Escape (Family Portrait #4)
Author: Gillian Felix
Links: Excerpt | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

One person’s perfect escape is another’s perfect hell.

In this coming-of-age story, teen singing sensation Leighann DaCosta tries to find out who she is without her music career. A career that has been part of her life since before the age of ten. When Leighann’s estranged father enters her life, she is caught up in a tug-of-war between both parents. Does she trust the man who abandoned her as a baby, or a mother who is losing her mind?

When heartthrob Zax Banovic is assigned to tutor Leighann, he provides her with the perfect escape from the madness in her life. Enter Kristin Newman, Zax’s super-hot, sickeningly perfect, tennis-pro girlfriend, who dampens any chance Leighann has with him.

After the unthinkable happens, Leighann’s world is shattered, causing her to shut everyone out. Unable to cope, Leighann accepts help from her frenemy, but will the help she accept come with a hefty price?

Creating the Perfect Escape
by Gillian Felix

When I sat down to write Perfect Escape my mind was in a different place. I had it all outlined and took out parts of the scripts to include in the book (The Family Portrait series was originally written as a television series. For more on that check out the fun facts page

While writing the characters interaction with each other, the story took on a life of its own. I’ve known these characters for years but putting them together in the book was much different than in the television series.

Perfect Escape revolves around the life of singing sensation Leighann DaCosta and the aftermath she faces from walking out on a successful singing career in favor of high school. Leighann experiences her first crush, has her first encounter with mean girls, and gets a glimpse of the politics behind the prestigious Westwood Academy of Higher Learning… I’m glad I’m no longer in high school!

Paring Leighann, Joel and Zax came much later in the television series but I bumped it up to book 4. To do that, I had to make sure that storyline wouldn’t unravel the other stories later on. So I got creative and focused on their relationship. I let them tell me what they wanted to do in this new situation. It took me a longer than usual to write Perfect Escape because the dynamics were different. I also had Leighann interact more with her estranged father. In the past, readers had only heard about him from her mother’s skewed point of view. In Perfect Escape the audience gets to know him the same time Leighann does.

On a personal note this book also helped strengthen my relationship with my own father. When I started the book he was alive and well and by the time the book was ready to be published, he died suddenly. So in more ways than one my world has changed from the beginning to the end of this book. I hope you will give this book a chance and see the bigger picture behind the drama.

Author Bio

Gillian Felix was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad. She grew up watching night time soap operas by Aaron Spelling with her mother. That’s where her obsession with rich, powerful and devious characters were born. After repeatedly seeing Mr. Spelling’s name on the screen night after night, Gillian knew she wanted to be an Aaron Spelling, before she knew that Aaron Spelling was actually a person.

Gillian pursued drama in high school although it was not taught as a “serious subject”. When asked what career she wanted to pursue after graduation, she told her guidance counselor that she wanted to be an actress, and was told that acting is not a “real job”.

When Gillian moved to the US in 1998, she landed an internship with Spotlight On Theater in New York City, where she learned stage managing, casting and the technical aspect of running a production. Later she branched out into film, and fell in love with the behind the scenes action of film and theatre production. She traded acting and her “real job” for a career in film and theater production. Gillian continued writing novels and scripts but kept them to herself.

When not writing, Gillian can be found volunteering at the New Mexico Children’s Grief Center or hiking the many mountains that surround New Mexico. Gillian can easily get lost in a parking lot and considers herself directionally challenged. She is always grateful for the people she hikes with, because without them she’d be left roaming the mountains like a lost mountain goat.
Author Links
Media Page | Website | Newsletter | Twitter | Goodreads


  • Pair of JVC Gumy Headphones (US Only)
  • Friend Sentiment Wallet (US Only)
  • eBook of Perfect Escape (International)
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Sunday, January 18, 2015

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ARC Review: Bridges Burned by Chris Cannon

Bridges Burned by Chris Cannon

Going Down in Flames #2
Chris Cannon
Publication Date: January 19, 2015
Publisher: EntangledTeen
Reviewer: Sophia

Don't just fight the system…burn it.

Since discovering she is a shape-shifting, fire-breathing dragon on her sixteenth birthday (surprise!), Bryn McKenna’s world has been thrown into chaos. Being a “crossbreed”—part Red dragon and part Blue—means Bryn will never fit in. Not with dragon society. Not with the archaic and controlling Directorate. And definitely not when she has striped hair and a not-so-popular affection for rule-breaking…

But sneaking around with her secret boyfriend, Zavien, gets a whole lot harder when he’s betrothed to someone else. Someone who isn't a mixed breed and totally forbidden. And for an added complication, it turns out Bryn’s former archnemesis Jaxon Westgate isn’t quite the evil asshat she thought. Now she’s caught between her desire to fit in and a need to set things on fire. Literally.

Because if Bryn can’t adapt to the status quo…well, then maybe it’s time for her to change it.
Advanced copy provided by EntangledTeen for review – thanks!

Let's get this little fire out of the way before a bigger fire grows: I was not very fond of Going Down in Flames when I read the ARC back in June. It had a fantastic idea and all, but I just didn't like how the story played out, especially the end and Bryn simply damning the Directorate throughout the entire novel. Oh, and the ending did end with another "Damn Directorate."

So.... why did I even bother reading Bridges Burned – I switched the title around for a good week – if I didn't like book one?

Basically it all goes down to a second chance (a rarity that I bestow to authors): I liked the idea behind Going Down in Flames, and the Dragon culture Cannon wrote about. I couldn't exactly let that go to waste without seeing how the next book would play out, especially when the teeny amount of dragon books is compared to the whopping amount of Contemporaries.

So when I signed up to review Bridges Burned, the book would either a) slowly slip into my good graces, or b) burn. Figuratively. I then vowed to throw the book at the wall and out the window if the sequel ended with "Damn Directorate" again.

This series is surely, yet slowly, falling into my good graces. Throughout book two, Bryn and Jaxon team up to investigate the motives of the actions behind the attack in the end of book one. Cannon eventually plunges Bryn into the world of the Blue dragon clan, where Bryn isn't entirely welcomed and the dragons aren't entirely very friendly with her until Bryn does something that meets their approval.

Cannon also seems to give some of the characters a distinct personality that makes them unique rather than simply a cold personality because Bryn is "abnormal and doesn't fit in dragon society." Bryn's grandparents don't seem like something you'll expect from a statue – cold, stern, icy, etc. Jaxon's meant-to-be-antagonizing comments are beginning to sound adorable and amusing (read: entertaining), and his banters with Bryn seem much more natural rather than a mocking that seems forced.
Bryn: Calm down. I’m talking about your social circle, not your mom in particular. How do you know those women are content to be by themselves? How do you know they aren’t sleeping with their gardeners out of spite?
Jaxon: *glares* Our gardener is a seventy-year-old female. If I have nightmares, I’m going to call you and describe them in detail.
I'm enjoying the dialogue between the characters much to the point where I don't really care too much about the overall plot of the series seeming to be slow in its development. But while I don't care too much about the overall plot development being a little slow (there are future books for more plot development), I really dislike how Bryn jumps from one guy to another throughout the majority of the book and is being a little too obsessed with Zavien, even after huge, gaping cracks are developing in their relationship. It almost makes a little too desperate in the romance department and it's starting to fry my nerves.
Bryn tried not to look for Zavien, but his absence gnawed at her. Where was he?
Over the next few days, Bryn found it harder and harder to contain her jealousy. No matter how irrational it was, she hated that Zavien jumped whenever Nola called.
One does not simply pursue someone continuously after being continuously rejected, unless they're desperate.

Though I currently have mixed feelings about the series overall, I honestly enjoyed Bridges Burned much more than Going Down in Flames – perhaps the sun is finally shining through the vortex.
Jaxon: *sighs irritably* Haven't we spent enough time together?
Bryn: You're such a joy to be around I couldn't stay away.
3 Owls

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

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Blog Tour: The Body Electric by Beth Revis - Review + Giveaway

Tour Schedule
The Body Electric by Beth Revis

The Body Electric
Beth Revis
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Publication Date: October 6, 2014
Publisher: Scripturient Books
Reviewer: Sophia

The future world is at peace.

Ella Shepherd has dedicated her life to using her unique gift—the ability to enter people’s dreams and memories using technology developed by her mother—to help others relive their happy memories.

But not all is at it seems.

Ella starts seeing impossible things—images of her dead father, warnings of who she cannot trust. Her government recruits her to spy on a rebel group, using her ability to experience—and influence—the memories of traitors. But the leader of the rebels claims they used to be in love—even though Ella’s never met him before in her life. Which can only mean one thing…

Someone’s altered her memory.
Ella’s gift is enough to overthrow a corrupt government or crush a growing rebel group. She is the key to stopping a war she didn’t even know was happening. But if someone else has been inside Ella’s head, she cannot trust her own memories, thoughts, or feelings.
Review copy provided by the publisher for review during the blog tour

It's not my first time reading Beth Revis' works, even though I've technically abandoned her other series subconsciously after I started blogging. I had other books to read, and obviously my "ratings" before blogging were screwed since every – almost (of course there were books that I hated) – book was "fantastic." Across the Universe was a great futuristic read and had a fantastic idea, so when I signed up for The Body Electric's blog tour to review, I knew full well that Revis wouldn't likely let me down with a sucky idea that would utterly disappoint me in the long run.

Revis certainly didn't let me down with the idea behind her latest book – The Body Electric is set in the Mediterranean country of Malta in the far future, where nanobots and cyborgs, reveries and dreamscapes are the norm. Ella Shepherd, the daughter of two well-known scientists in this futuristic world booming with technology and science, finds out that not only can she enter into another person's mind while in a reverie, but she soon finds out that she's missing pieces of her past.

The Body Electric starts out the book with a nightmare of Ella's in the first chapter, and then we are introduced to the world, its history, and some of Ella's family history as well, though all three are brief and the complete details are filled in throughout the book.

It's very clear and interesting for a good part of the book – it's not until about 60% that I feel as though my attention is being strayed. I'm interested in reading the most recent books I got from the library (Gamer Girl by Mari Mancusi and Pawn by Aimee Carter at the time). I'm interested in other books that were on my winter break reading pile. Merely speaking, I was not interested in The Body Electric anymore, and I was on the hunt for reasons aplenty on why I would DNF this book (typically I'm on the hunt for those reasons since page 1, but it's bad when that's all I'm looking for. Basically, the book's doomed).

Luckily I didn't have many at the time time. As the book continued on and my thoughts were beginning to wander elsewhere... but let's face it: at this point, my attention hasn't strayed far yet because most of my attention is still toward The Body Electric – because I'm a weird person who can literally zone partially out of American History class and still ace the final.

Oh, and I came all the way past 50% – I would feel a little guilty making it all this way and then throwing it off to the side when the book managed to hold my attention for that long. If I want to DNF a book, it's done quite early – definitely before 50% (No, I don't feel guilty). But back to how the book continued.

The bees – no matter how symbolic they were – were beginning to become annoying. And as the book marched on to the end as Ella and Jack try to escape the malicious clutches of the government, the bees' (almost) constant appearance made the book confusing. And I mean very confusing. The reveries began to become confusing, as Ella tried to separate fact from fiction. Revis may have done it on purpose so us readers could get a very realistic feel of how very confused Ella is by this point of the book, but I hate it when I'm confused, even though everything makes sense by the time Ella makes sense of everything. As I mentioned just moments ago, done on purpose for a realistic feel.

But I'm still a little confused at the ending (it's quite weird, and I'm sure it makes sense, but I'm not going to bother turning it around in my head), despite Revis' extraordinary idea behind The Body Electric.

3.5 Owls

Author Bio

Beth Revis is the NY Times bestselling author of the Across the Universe series. The complete trilogy is now available in more than 20 languages. A native of North Carolina, Beth’s most recent book is The Body Electric, which tells the story of what was happening on Earth while the characters of Across the Universe were in space.

Author Links:
Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter


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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

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Review: Eona by Alison Goodman

Eona by Alison Goodman

Eon #2
Alison Goodman
Publication Date: April 19, 2011
Publisher: Viking
Reviewer: Sophia

Eon has been revealed as Eona, the first female Dragoneye in hundreds of years. Along with fellow rebels Ryko and Lady Dela, she is on the run from High Lord Sethon's army. The renegades are on a quest for the black folio, stolen by the drug-riddled Dillon; they must also find Kygo, the young Pearl Emperor, who needs Eona's power and the black folio if he is to wrest back his throne from the selfstyled "Emperor" Sethon. Through it all, Eona must come to terms with her new Dragoneye identity and power - and learn to bear the anguish of the ten dragons whose Dragoneyes were murdered. As they focus their power through her, she becomes a dangerous conduit for their plans...

Eona, with its pulse-pounding drama and romance, its unforgettable fight scenes, and its surprises, is the conclusion to an epic story only Alison Goodman can create...

Apparently when Eona and Co. are on the run, things get mighty interesting and there's almost never a dull moment. There's the ten dead Dragoneyes, an entire army of Sethon's supposed minions (who knows if they're actually loyal to the dude, anyways?), and a supposed-to-be emperor by the name of Kygo who's also on the run from being brutally murdered as well.

Goodman starts out the whopping 600-paged book with a "primary" source from Teacher Prahn, quickly summarizing the events at the imperial palace in the ending of Eon, and it's helpful for those who haven't the first book in a long while (unless you have a fantastic memory, which I sometimes have. Epiphany!). The second and last book to the duology starts out shortly after those events, with Eona and her friends on the run from Sethon and the hunt for Kygo. Goodman brings us outside of the imperial palace and into other parts of the Empire of Celestial Dragons, places that were briefly mentioned in book one and now play a bigger role in book two.

I personally disliked Eona back when she was Eon, and I don't like her any better as a girl either. Back as Eon, Eona just seemed to desperate to fit in and trying to prove herself worthy – those sun drug scenes? The worst of Eon. I even vowed to DNF this book if Eona decided to run around with the sun drug again; it was that bad.

In a way, I do like Eona: she's not desperate, she's Taylor Swift fearless (all those odds stacked against her!) – she's a lot better when compared to Eon, when she trying to fully disguise herself as a guy and being a slinky. Eona just argues a lot with Kygo when she finally finds him, and I mean a huge emphasis on "argues a lot." I'm pretty sure if I get a dollar for every time they argued, I could actually pay my rent. Though compared to the lovely love triangle with Ido (thank you, so-called prophecy), I fully ship Kygo and Eona, even though Eona seems very mopey when it comes to whether or not Kygo truly loves her.
"What if I said you could have either me or my power? Which one would you choose?"
Eona certainly makes up for the many dull moments in pacing from its predecessor, where the beginning is a little interesting, the middle is extremely draggy and the decent ending is very fast and rapid. The pacing in the final book of Goodman's Eon duology is much better and engrossing, bringing us a fantastic end to two very long books.

4.5 Owls

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Monday, January 12, 2015


Do You Change Your Rating System Often?

I'm pretty sure someone asked this already, or someone is bound to ask this one day, but as the fabulous reviewers who spread the good, bad, and ugly (yes, those rants are hilarious and amusing yet it's the ugly, okay?) about books, do you change your rating style often?

I've probably changed my rating system a million times, hoping that the next one is better. Of course, that's obviously not the case. Oh, and it's confession time! Plus, behind the blog with Sophia (Sophia does not know how Ella rates books, and she's not going to ask because it's not relevant info for her to know, so it's not behind the blog with Sophia AND Ella). Hooray!

Version 1
Back in the golden days of being a newbie - we've all been there - I rated books by instinct. Boy, was THAT a bad idea for me to do, because secretly, I'm a softie to books. I'm a softie to the debut authors and the books who are first in a series and when I'm a softie, some books get a bit of a better rating than what they should have deserved. Not off the charts better. If it's honestly bad, I'm not going to say, "Hey! This is a FABULOUS book! You should TOTALLY read it."

Then again, in the oldie days, I thought every book was wondrous. You know, oldie as in "Before Blogging." I sometimes want to hide under a table because those reviews mortify me. Um... the ones when I first started blogging.

Very much like my mother embarrassing me by telling people my baby stories. Honestly, who cares how adorable baby Sophia looked when she first started walking? (Okay, baby me was full of trouble. I was the Puck of the family!) But no one really cares how cute and adorable little Sophia sings - I certainly don't care. I just think I sound very high-pitched if you thrust a microphone in my face. *squeak, squeak. "Hi! I'm Sophia!"*

Not that I actually reviewed before blogging. I honestly just decided to dive into reviewing back in 2012 and hoped for the best and not the worst. It's books! Surely I'll enjoy it? I promise I do.

Version 2
In early 2013, I kind of noticed that softie bit of me. I also saw on some other blog that rated things like characters and plot and world building – I thought it was a pretty good idea and figured it would do some elimination of extremely softie Sophia (I'm still a softie sometimes).

It certainly did some elimination... and made me a bit more observant than what some people would like. In other words, the members of my high school book club, to which I'm known as Negative Sophia because I find something bad about every book. No book is perfect. Every book has a flaw, no matter how tiny, and while it may not matter to one person, it matters to another. Otherwise, we're happy little robots. Ella and I would be the same – we would think the same, we would look the same, we would eat the same...

This is getting overly creepy now. But I promise we're not the same people.

Methinks observant is not necessarily a bad thing unless you accidentally see something you would rather not see. Like PDA, for instance.

Version 3 – AKA, the Current One
Apparently on Thanksgiving 2014, I officially decided that Version 2 wasn't working well for me anymore, and it was time for some tweaks. Version 2, while great, was a very vague version – Grammar and Spelling was the only thing that was specific (I changed that twice and now it's perfect. For now). Characters included Romance (if any) and development; Plot/Storyline included World Building and how unique the book was; Pacing included writing style and how well the words flowed, along with whether or not the book felt like it was dragging; Overall Opinion included everything else I completely forgot (like the format). Oh, and the average of the prior books? Yeah... that gave Allegiant a bitty boost that I did not particularly like.

It was around that time I considered changing it. Since it was just one thing, I decided not to and see how well it played out in the future.

But then again... Divergent and Insurgent were before Version 2 came out. I'm beginning to wonder what I really would have rated Insurgent. Perhaps a 4.5 would have been a better deal and more accurate compared to a full 5?

In reality, this is just a work in progress. It might always be a work in progress, because while Version 3 may work now for me, it may change and be tweaked next year. Or if I'm really lucky, Version 3 may be permanent.

So my question to you lovely reviewers out there is this: Do you change your rating system often? Have you found the perfect one – I envy you greatly and you should totally give the rest of us advice – or are you like me and your rating system is a constant work in progress? And if you really don't care, precisely how many times have you changed your rating system since you started reviewing? 10? 20? 1? 3? 0 (Like I said earlier, I envy you greatly if that's the case. Your IQ must be off the charts. I only hope you don't become a serial killer one day.)?!

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

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Blog Tour: Who R U Really? by Margo Kelly - Review + Giveaway

Tour Schedule
Who R U Really by Margo Kelly

Who R U Really?
Margo Kelly
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | The Book Depository
Publication Date: August 1, 2014
Publisher: Merit Press
Reviewer: Sophia

Thea's overprotective parents are driving her insane. They invade her privacy, ask too many questions, and restrict her online time so severely that Thea feels she has no life at all. When she discovers a new role-playing game online, Thea breaks the rules by staying up late to play. She's living a double life: on one hand, the obedient daughter; on the other, a girl slipping deeper into darkness. In the world of the game, Thea falls under the spell of Kit, an older boy whose smarts and savvy can't defeat his loneliness and near-suicidal despair. As Kit draws soft-hearted Thea into his drama, she creates a full plate of cover stories for her parents and then even her friends.

Soon, Thea is all alone in the dark world with Kit, who worries her more and more, but also seems to be the only person who really "gets" her. Is he frightening, the way he seems sometimes, or only terribly sad? Should Thea fear Kit, or pity him? And now, Kit wants to come out of the screen and bring Thea into his real-life world. As much as she suspects that this is wrong, Thea is powerless to resist Kit's allure, and hurtles toward the same dark fate her parents feared most. Ripped from a true-life story of Internet stalking, Who R U Really? will excite you and scare you, as Thea's life spins out of control.
Review copy provided by the author for review during the blog tour

For awhile after finishing Margo Kelly's Who R U Really?, I had the thought of doing a dual book review with Mari Mancusi's Gamer Girl, which I recently finished before I started Who R U Really? – sort of like a comparison review of two books. I then decided not to for the sake of confusion, but do be aware there may be references and some comparison – nothing that'll give away what I'll put in my review for Gamer Girl later on in the month.

Margo Kelly's Who R U Really? is a very realistic version compared to Gamer Girl – a dash of darkness, drama, and a whole lot of reality rolled into one. It reminded me of another book that came out around 2007-2009, a book that I may have the title correctly, the author is completely forgotten from my mind, and the font is almost the same: Want to go Private?. Both books take on a realistic version of bullying, not only in real life (in Gamer Girl's case), but a heavy emphasis on cyber bullying, online predators and online safety, whether in a chat room (in Want to go Private's case if I remember correctly), in a game (in Who R U Really's case), or anywhere else on the internet.

Who R U Really? revolves around a girl named Thea, a ninth grader who gets bullied (along with her friend, Janie) at her local high school by a few ninth graders who apparently act like the local sixth graders at my school (seriously. Worse batch this year). After being introduced to the game Skadi by her older brother's friend, she becomes addicted to the game and meets a guy named Kit, who claims to love her. Thea feels Kit can understand her more than anything else and vice versa. As they get to know each other and their relationship online becomes more deeper, Thea has to cover it all up from her parents and her real life friends, who are concerned for her safety and well-being.

It was obvious to me as soon as Thea met Kit that Kit would be the one up to no good – it is revealed early on that Kit is short for Kitsuneshin, and as Kit reveals to Thea, Kitsuneshin is the Japanese word for "young fox." But it's not just any young fox – I'm not terribly familiar with Japanese history, but I have heard about Kitsuneshin once from my Astronomy/Chemistry teacher. I just didn't want to pinpoint it. It ruins my fun. Guessing ruins my fun. My definition of fun is not as skewed as one of my friend's.

I love Margo Kelly's writing style, and the way she uses quotes (I'm a sucker for those) throughout the book as Thea learns who Kit really is. Who R U Really? is very realistic – there's enough drama, and it's not fluffy or light-hearted where it's very obvious the book will end on a happy note. It's a must read, even for those who are not big fans of realistic fiction.

5 Owls

Author Bio

Margo Kelly is a native of the Northwest and currently resides in Idaho. A veteran public speaker, she is now actively pursuing her love of writing. Who R U Really? is her first novel. Margo welcomes the opportunities to speak to youth groups, library groups, and book clubs.

Author Links:
Website | Facebook | Twitter


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Thursday, January 8, 2015

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Review: Burning Blue by Paul Griffin (Ooo, Acid)

Burning Blue by Paul Griffin

Burning Blue
Paul Griffin
Publication Date: October 1, 2012
Publisher: Dial Books
Reviewer: Sophia

How far would you go for love, beauty, and jealousy?

When Nicole Castro, the most beautiful girl in her wealthy New Jersey high school, is splashed with acid on the left side of her perfect face, the whole world takes notice. But quiet loner Jay Nazarro does more than that--he decides to find out who did it. Jay understands how it feels to be treated like a freak, and he also has a secret: He's a brilliant hacker. But the deeper he digs, the more danger he's in--and the more he falls for Nicole. Too bad everyone is turning into a suspect, including Nicole herself.

Award-winning author Paul Griffin has written a high-stakes, soulful mystery about the meaning--and dangers--of love and beauty.

Well, Kahlan and Lupe and other members of book club who think I'm negative over every book, I hope you're happy. REALLY happy!

Burning Blue has got to be one of the best book club reads of this year – I might even have my vote finalized for the 2014-15 Gateway Readers Award.

Of course, I want to get my hands on Don't Turn Around by Michelle Gragnon and Croak by Gina Damico first before voting... unless I don't get to it by March.

It's not all about the acid – that's a bonus – being thrown at wealthy and popular beauty queen not-a-bee Nicole Castro of New Jersey or the mere fact that a hacker is the one who decides to look at the situation more closely to find out who did it, it's the other stuff that I really enjoyed.

The writing's engrossing – we don't read from just Jay Nazarro's view, we read from Nicole Castro's journal, and a few of Dr. Julian Nye's (apparently he's like the shrink of the book) notes about Nicole. It's almost as though we're watching CSI, NCIS, or Law and Order with all the likeness to an investigation going on behind NJPD's backs, though CSI and Company (those other fun shows we call Law) are certainly less predictable than Burning Blue. Plus, TV shows have detectives, not an outcast hacker deciding to find out who the culprit is by hacking and whatnot.
What day is it? What night? I'm burning, burning, burning blue.
That obviously doesn't mean reading about Jay's past wasn't highly awkward though... or more accurately, a tad bit gross.
You don't get a lot of homework in the fourth grade, and I didn't have anything to do except make mini snowmen with my earwax.
Although the perpetrator was very predictable, I found it enjoyable to read the rest of the story and see how it would all play out in the end. I obviously watch too much TV (which by the way, isn't even close to true because I don't even watch TV most of the time and I pretty much live under a legit rock) to take a fantastically, pretty whopping close to accurate stab.

I did not, however, take a stab at who actually threw the acid. I merely guessed who came up with the entire plan in the first place.

To top it off for the non-romantics out there, Jay falling in love with Nicole as he investigates the situation further doesn't overshadow the plot at all. There are brief mentions from Jay and Nicole's journal, but that's about it, much to my delight. Really, I'm done with romance currently – eclipses suck, okay? Euphemism intended.

Perfectly paced and with great dialogue among the characters, Burning Blue is a fantastic book. Plus there's acid. Yay, chemistry!

4.5 Owls

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

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ARC Review: Storm Fall by Tracy Banghart (Sophia Obviously Hates Romance)

Storm Fall by Tracy Banghart

Rebel Wing #2
Tracy Banghart
Publication Date: December 16, 2014
Publisher: Alloy Entertainment
Reviewer: Sophia

In the action-packed sequel to Rebel Wing, Aris battles for life and love . . . and not everyone will survive.

Aris Haan gave up everything to join the Atalantan Military: her family, her boyfriend, even her identity. In the end, though, it didn’t matter that she was a war hero. When the all-male Military discovered that she was actually a woman, she was sent home and erased from history.

Now she has a chance to go back to the battlefield—as herself. But as hard as it was to be a soldier in disguise, it’s even more difficult now. The men in her unit undermine her at every turn. The Safaran army has spies everywhere, perhaps even on Aris’s stationpoint. And she’s falling for her mysterious superior officer, Milek. But their relationship is forbidden, just stolen moments between training sessions and missions. There’s no room for love in war.

Then Aris discovers that Safara’s leaders have set their sights on her, Atalanta’s hero. And she must find them before they find her . . .
Advanced Copy provided by Alloy Entertainment via Netgalley for Review – thanks!

I must've had really bad timing on my part – by the time I scheduled my review for Shattered Veil in August, Alloy Entertainment had swept up the book and changed it to Rebel Wing.

It was honestly not a bad thing if you ask me – Rebel Wing definitely fits with the storyline more than Shattered Veil does. Coming from the late person who decided not to read the newer version of Shattered Veil, those who choose to do the same when reading Storm Fall will definitely have no need to backtrack as Banghart doesn't stray far from the storyline.

Rebel Wing is available on Netgalley as a Read Now though... so you're welcome to give it a whirl.

In other words, there are a few spoilers from the original... and footnotes. I never thought I would actually use them.

Storm Fall starts approximately a year after the events of Shattered Veil 1, after the Ward of Ruslana (Galena Vadim) is rescued by Aris Haan and her companions (consisting of males and of course, a few females disguised as men) from the horrendous hands of Elom 2. After some return to normalcy, Aris Haan is offered to return to her former stationpoint as not only a woman, but also a promotion to lieutenant.

The second book in the Diatous Wars series isn't my favorite though (I think I may have mentioned I was excited to see what happens in my review for Shattered Veil, but I'm not sure). I love how Aris changes from a girl who went with a "perfect" life behind the front lines to a girl who could stand for herself and go for the adventurous life of a flyer that she so desired. I love how Dysis sticks up for Aris even though she has her own worries and conflicts. But for a few various reasons, Shattered Veil's 3 sequel seemed to have lost a bit of the spark compared to its predecessor. In fact, I personally think the first book is better than this latest installment.

The dominion of Atalanta are briefly touched on, as well as Safara. Atalanta and the other cities that have been touched on books 1, 2 or both seem to be bustling while Safara seems to be resemble the likeliness of a mashup between a forest and Africa. It's almost hard to tell.

There are also multiple views – Galena, Pyralis, Dysis, and Aris – with no particular pattern throughout the book. That, however, did not bother me as much the number of romantic relationships that the author seems to be implying throughout Storm Fall: Galena and Pyralis, Dysis and Daakon, Aris and Milek.

The plot, while not entirely focused on romance, is beginning to seem focused on romance. With the grim events throughout the book, the happiness of the characters (admit it. Disney movies were the epitome of childhood) is almost welcome. If the characters aren't drunk, have a one-night stand in the midst of grief and then one of them gets fantastically killed. But hope may be lost if the next book focuses too much on romantic relationships. I seriously can't keep up with all of those, even if it's less than the amount of information I stuff in my head every week.

Though the next book in the series probably won't be very appealing, I may consider it with the way Banghart ended Storm Fall with an unexpected cliffhanger.
We did what we did. None of us get to choose how our story ends. But they do end, always.
  1. The last scene/chapter in Shattered Veil is very similar to the very beginning of Storm Fall. It was not mentioned in Shattered Veil if the same scene occurred after a year, and it is a possibility this particular scene is removed in Rebel Wing or touched on very briefly at the end.
  2. Back in the original version, Elom is called Ilom.
  3. Because Shattered Veil most likely changed and the newer version was not read prior to Storm Fall, any references to the first book will be used with the old title.
3.5 Owls

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