Friday, January 28, 2011

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Title: Hex Hall
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Series: Hex Hall #1
Release Date: March 2, 2010
Pages: 323 (hardcover)
Obtained from: the library

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.


Hex Hall begins like 95% of the other paranormal teen-goes-to-boarding school novels out there: the main character messes up and gets sent to reform school to get herself and her magic under control. Classic, right? But unlike other paranormal academy books, Hawkins has the lady balls to lightly make fun of the genre she's decided to write. I'd call this a supernatural spoof at it's finest! Though Sophie is quite naïve compared to the other students at Hecate Hall, she has a strong voice and a wonderful sense of humor about being exposed to drooling werewolves, stuck-up faeries, and vampires who are obsessed with the color pink. I was impressed with her ability to keep her chin up and moral compass pointed north (for the most part) even though she's labeled as a social outcast from the moment she arrives at school. The dynamics between the misfits and popular students at Hecate Hall offered the most entertaining kind of teen drama--except better, since they can use magic to curse each other's socks off...literally.

Though the world isn't as rich as oh, say, Harry Potter's, Hawkins does a good job building an underground paranormal culture. Filled with its own mythology, history, and crazy killer cults, she is able to construct a world within our world without showing us much of it. Even though the plot twists were fairly predictable, they were still fun to watch unfold since the book was such a quick read. Slipping into this world was as easy as breathing, and I had no trouble finishing it in a few hours. There are a number of clues and hints throughout Hex Hall that lead up to the ending, and it's obvious that these details will be used to build a frame for the sequel. Speaking of the ending...I was ready to upturn a table the second I reached the last page. Worst. Cliffhanger. Ever. Though the book ends in a logical spot, it's the kind of ending that will leave you wanting more. Like, 300 pages more. Thankfully, from what I've heard, Demonglass promises to be just as good as the first. So give the Hex Hall a shot if you like the genre and like to laugh. You won't be disappointed.


P.S. I don't normally talk about book covers, but can somebody who has read Hex Hall please, please, PLEASE tell me what is up with the cat on this one? There wasn't even a cat in the book! In fact, I don't think there was even a cat mentioned in the book. If somebody can solve this mystery for me I'll love you forever.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Jan 9-23 In My Mailbox


Hey there guys! Once again it's time for IMM*. I've decided that I'm going to stick to doing memes every other week so that they don't make up the majority of my posts for each month. So here's the list of books that I've collected over the last two weeks. I sold my textbooks from last semester and received more money than I expected to get, so I put some of that towards books that I wanted:

(There are some really rockin' used bookstores in my area. I found all of these half-priced or for less.)
Wild Magic, Wolf-Speaker, Emperor Mage & The Realms of the Gods by Tamora Pierce (IN HARDCOVER!)
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
The Book Without Words by Avi
Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Lady Carliss and the Waters of Moorue by Chuck Black (I'm normally not into Christan fiction, but the medieval fantasy stories in this series are really good.)
The Wake of Lorelei Lee by LA Meyer

Circles in the Stream (Avalon Web of Magic #1) by Rachel Roberts


The Legend of Socket Greeny by Tony Bertauski
Kevin's Point of View by Del Shannon
How to Slay a Dragon by Bill Allen
The Branding by Micaela Wendel

Starlighter by Bryan Davis (downloaded from Barnes & Nobel's free Nook books)
The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson (downloaded from Barnes & Nobel's free Nook books)
Angel Burn by LA Weatherly (NetGalley)
Cinderella: Ninja Warrior by Maureen McGowan (NetGalley)
Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler (NetGalley)
The Atomic Weight of Secrets by Eden Unger Bowditch (NetGalley)
The Cellar by A.J. Whitten (NetGalley)

The Field Guide (The Spiderwick Chronicles #1) by Tony DiTerlizzi & Holly Black
Red Dragon Codex by R.D. Henham

Wow, when I look at it on paper I ended up grabbing more books than I thought. Like...a lot more. Ah well, at least I'm looking forward to reading all of 'em. Anyway, leave a comment with a link to your IMM and I'll check it out! I'll be replying to all unanswered comments and Follow Friday messages today during the Packer/Bears game. Until then, HAPPY READING, EVERYONE!

*In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. Check it out for more details or to participate!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Jan 21st Follow Friday & Book Blogger Hop

Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Rachel at Parajunkee's View. Every week, book bloggers have a chance to connect and check out each other's blogs. Check it out to sign up and participate, or just check it out to check out some great blogs! This is my seventh week participating. This week's question:

Who do you cheer for?

Since I'm a Sconnie I cheer for the Packers and the Badgers, but to be honest, I'm not really into football. Occasionally I'll watch a game, but the following two conditions must be met before I turn the channel to ESPN:
1.) The game has to be somewhat important, like the playoffs or the Rose Bowl.
2.) All episodes of Bones airing on TV at the time of the game are reruns.
What can I say? I have my priorities. Brennan and Booth are much more entertaining than a bunch of spandex-wearing dudes trying to push a ball down a field (no offense football fans, no offense). Though...when somebody makes an interception that's pretty cool.

And if you do one Follow Meme, why not do two? The more the merrier! The Book Blogger Hop is a meme hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books. Like Follow Friday, It's a place for book bloggers to connect, and "hop" from one another's blogs to get to know each other. Jennifer also asks a question to kick off the conversations. This is my eight Book Blogger Hop. Er...or, I guess that it would be my eight Book Blogger Hop if there was one this week.


To all of you returning visitors, thanks again for stopping by my blog, and to all you new visitors, welcome! If you leave a link to your website I'll be sure to check it out over the weekend. Until then, happy Friday! Oh, and if you haven't already, be sure to sign up for my 100 Follower Giveaway. Deadline to enter is Feb. 7th!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Talisman of Elam by Jim Mastro

Title: The Talisman of Elam
Author: Jim Mastro
Series: The Children of Hathor #1
Release Date: Aug. 31, 2010
Pages: 336 (hardcover)
Obtained from: Author for review (Thank you so much, Jim!)

When twelve-year-old Jason Hunter and his two friends discover a spaceship buried in the woods behind his New Hampshire home, his world is turned upside down. Suddenly, he finds himself fleeing the Earth on a desperate mission to save his abducted parents and prevent an alien invasion. The journey takes him halfway across the galaxy, where he must confront bizarre and deadly creatures, escape from a toxic region of space called the Vuhndalac Pit, and evade capture by a powerful alien leader intent on destroying him. Hidden somewhere among the stars is an ancient talisman that Jason must find before it is too late. If he is the Heir of Elam, the one person in the entire universe who can claim this talisman, he will be able to save his parents, and his planet. If he is not, touching it will be the last thing he ever does!

The Talisman of Elam is the first book in the epic science fiction/adventure trilogy, The Children of Hathor. Eons ago, great forces were set in motion by an extinct race whose technology was so advanced that even now the pieces that remain seem to operate as if by magic. Jason Hunter finds himself at the center of a gathering storm that threatens all humanoid civilization in the galaxy. He may be all that stands between humanity and destruction, or he may be the unwitting agent of that destruction!


Finding good science fiction is hard. Finding good science fiction for a middle-grade audience is even harder. But now seekers of space thrills need not look any further. The Talisman of Elam is what every young Star Wars geek (I say that with love) can hope for in a book, and I absolutely adored it!

The Talisman of Elam is classic science fiction with a modern twist. Mastro takes the reader on an amazing adventure as his characters pinball back and forth across the galaxy, encountering strange creatures at every stop as they search for the talisman. The plot is incredibly fast-paced (as Jason and his friends are constantly on the run), never leaving the reader with a dull moment. However, this doesn't mean that Mastro sacrifices the time to give enough background information or planet-related history to explain what's going on. As a matter of fact, I was a little surprised at how skillfully information is released throughout the story. Exactly the right amount of information is given at exactly the right time to completely construct the universe this plot takes place in and avoid confusion. Though the science fiction and fantasy elements of this novel are intelligent and complex, they are easy to understand because everything is grounded in some level of reality. If you could see me right now, you'd see that I have a big smile on my face. It's so hard to find good middle grade science fiction that isn't dumbed down or just plane silly-cute for the sake of amusement, and I had a blast learning about the universe's history according to Shalan.

I loved getting to know the characters as well. For 12-year-olds, Jason and his friends handle the situation that they've been dragged into like champs. They're brave, rational, and trusting of each other while still maintaining the uncertainty and excitement that 12-year-olds are expected to have. Oh, and did I mention that they balance each other out? Jason, Kevin, and Amelia each bring something different to the team, and Mastro capitalizes on their unique talents to move the plot forward. Even without one, the team wouldn't have succeeded in any of their quests. In fact, just about every character mentioned plays an important role in some way, shape, or form, even if they don't return in the end. It was nice to realize that any name I had to memorize wasn't without reason, and it was nice to see Jason's friends weren't just there to support him as cheerleaders.

Though The Talisman of Elam may not be for everyone, those who do decide to pick it up will enjoy its heroes, exciting plot, and masterfully constructed environment. This is exactly the kind of book that the middle-grade science fiction section needs, and I CANNOT wait to get my hands on the next book! For those of you who are interested at taking a peek at the first few chapters of The Talisman of Elam, Mastro has been kind enough to post them on his website. For more information, or to read The Talisman of Elam, go to I highly recommend it!


Monday, January 17, 2011

The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima

Title: The Exiled Queen
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Series: A Seven Realms Novel #2
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: Sept. 28 2010
Pages: 586 (hardcover)
Obtained from: Bookstore

Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, Han Alister journeys south to begin his schooling at Mystwerk House in Oden’s Ford. But leaving the Fells doesn’t mean danger isn’t far behind. Han is hunted every step of the way by the Bayars, a powerful wizarding family set on reclaiming the amulet Han stole from them. And Mystwerk House has dangers of its own. There, Han meets Crow, a mysterious wizard who agrees to tutor Han in the darker parts of sorcery—but the bargain they make is one Han may regret.

Meanwhile, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna runs from a forced marriage in the Fells, accompanied by her friend Amon and his triple of cadets. Now, the safest place for Raisa is Wein House, the military academy at Oden's Ford. If Raisa can pass as a regular student, Wein House will offer both sanctuary and the education Raisa needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen.

The Exiled Queen is an epic tale of uncertain friendships, cut-throat politics, and the irresistible power of attraction. -the E.Queen's book jacket


EXPLETIVE! If I had known how awesome this book was going to be I wouldn’t have waited this long to read it. High fantasy fans beware: The Exiled Queen is even better than The Demon King, and if you haven’t read The Demon King then head on over to the bookstore right now and pick it up!

NOTE: This review may contain spoilers.

The Exiled Queen picks up two days after The Demon King left off and is once again told in two perspectives. Han and Raisa are both on the run, heading towards a common destination—Oden’s Ford. Though roughly a third of the book is dedicated to their travels south, Chima manages to make each journey exciting and unique. Each character is attacked, captured, beaten and stalked in different ways until they reach their destination, where whole ‘nother definition of the word ‘intense’ is created.

As mentioned above, the rest of this book takes place in Oden’s Ford, and was home to some of the most interesting scenes in the series yet. Minor characters return and are given the opportunity to interact with Han and Raisa in ways that weren’t possible before coming to the schools, giving them much more depth. I felt myself growing attached to the characters who were supposed to be “bad guys,” as their motivations and own political Catch-22s were revealed. In addition, Han and Raisa run into each other a lot more once they discover that the other is there, which shifts the dynamics between them in a way I didn’t really see coming. Their skills also grow. Han becomes much more accustomed to his magic and works hard to train himself, where Raisa diligently studies to become physically fit and military savvy. It’s easy to see the two transform from kids to genuine leaders, and their newfound maturity promises epic decision making in the future.

For those of you who read and liked the first book, I'm 99.999% sure you’ll love the second. There is a lot a set up that takes place here but it’s never boring, and the two perspectives offered from each school continue to build upon the world that Chima has already created. There are also hints throughout the book as to how the two perspectives might be combined to save the realm in the future, and I cannot wait to see how the next book unfolds. Cinda Williams Chima, my hat goes off to you! This is some of the best fantasy the young adult section has to offer.


Friday, January 14, 2011

The Training of Socket Greeny by Tony Bertauski

Title: The Training of Socket Greeny
Author: Tony Bertauski
Series: The Socket Series #2
Publisher: Bertauski
Release date: Sept. 17, 2010
Pages: 264 (paperback)
Obtained from: Author

Socket Greeny is trying to live two lives: one as an evolved human while hanging onto his normal life. While fearlessly dealing with his masochistic trainer, he's trying to salvage his deteriorating releationship with his girlfriend back home. But Socket's greatest challenge is to find his true enemy. He discovers that fear has many faces, some that he's more familiar with than he would care to admit. -Goodreads


After finishing the first book in the series, there was just no way that I could forget about Socket and his friends--especially since the sequel promised to be just as exciting (if not moreso) than the first. And it was!

The Training of Socket Greeny is the second book in the Socket Series, and like the first book, wastes no time getting into the action. A year has passed since Socket first saved the world, and since then he's been extensively training so he can be admitted as an official Paladin soldier. Even though we don't get dragged through every single training exercise, we see enough to realize how much Socket's powers have grown--and boy, have they grown. As if time stopping and mind reading wasn’t enough, Socket discovers that he has an even stronger power, one that is revered throughout the Paladin Agency. It was fun to see him try and figure out how to use it, let alone figure out what it was in the first place.

However, even though Socket has made himself a respectable candidate, he’s still the same guy with the teenage-chip-on-my-shoulder spunk that I adored from the first book. I like to see characters that grow but still remain true to who they really are. Torn between maintaining his relationship with his two best friends and becoming the savior of the world, he handles the drama like any normal teenager would—with frustration, hope, and a bit of sadness when he realizes that maybe he can’t be two people at once (which was a very sad scene, by the way). I liked seeing more of his friends, even if their get togethers were strained from the pressures of life. In addition, we learn more about Streeter and Chute and they grow just as much as Socket does by the end of the book, especially after Socket demonstrates to what length he’s willing to go in order to save them (even if it’s from themselves).

However, even though I enjoyed the fast pacing of some of the scenes in this book, sometimes things were happening so fast and things were so abstract that I wasn’t able to follow what was going on. This wasn’t a huge issue because immediately after these scenes happened (and I mean, immediately), they were explained, but still, I had to go back and reread what had happened to understand who was being attacked, who had died, what sort of information was being revealed to Socket, ect. This was an especially issue towards the end when mass pandemonium erupts. Even though that scene was just made of pure unfiltered awesome, it took a little time and thought to put together what was going on.

Overall, I enjoyed The Training of Socket Greeny even more than the first book, and eagerly await the conclusion of this series in book three, The Legend of Socket Greeny. I recommend this series to anyone looking for a modern(ish) and intense sci-fi read!


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

In My Mailbox (3)


So yeah, TOTALLY meant to get this up on Sunday, but eh, you know, that thing called life sometimes gets in the way, and I've been focused on trying to reply to all of the comments and emails I've gotten from you guys over the weekend (which I thank you for, by the way!). So now...BEHOLD! MY DESK! WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS! (Please ignore my walls, which are totally cluttered with maps of Walt Disney World and writing notes for some projects I'm working on.) This IMM is going to cover the last two weeks.

(Most with the aid of gift cards and Borders Bucks)
The Dragon of Trelian by Michelle Knudsen
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
The Dealer (Cherub Mission 2) by Robert Muchamore
Malice by Chris Wooding
Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making MORE Magic Real by The Imagineers
Crossing Over by Anna Kendall
Two packs of Goosebumps books (by R.L. Stine). The first pack contains books 1-15, and the second pack contains 16-30. My best friend, Allie, and I were ecstatic to find these yesterday at Half Price for 10 bucks a pop. We loved these books as kids, and have been eager to reread them for a while now.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (from Random Buzzers)
ARC of Vixen by Jillian Larkin (from Random Buzzers)

The Talisman of Elam (Children of Hathor #1) by Jim Mastro

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Savvy by Ingrid Law

This is probably the best haul that I've gotten in a while. I doubt the weeks after this will be as rich, unless Borders continues to throw cash at me. I joined their upgraded rewards program and since then it's been raining awesome coupons and Borders Bucks. I recommend joining, especially if you tend to spend a lot of money there.

So what did you guys get this week? Leave a link and I'll check it out! Oh, and just a reminder, if you haven't done so already, please check out my 100 Follower Giveaway. There's lots of great prizes, and plenty of time to enter! Contest ends on Feb. 7. Thanks!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Follow Friday (6) & Book Blogger Hop (7)

Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Rachel at Parajunkee's View. Every week, book bloggers have a chance to connect and check out each other's blogs. Check it out to sign up and participate, or just check it out to check out some great blogs! This is my sixth week participating. This week's question:

What book(s) have you discovered lately from someone's book blog?

Oooh, that's a tough one. Participating on Goodreads has really helped broaden my horizons when it comes to books, so lately I've been pretty familiar with a lot of the stuff that's being blogged about unless it's self-published. I guess one book that I learned about from author Kiersten White's blog before it hit the shelves was Anna and the French Kiss. I had no idea what it was before she started advertising it. Sadly, I still haven't gotten to read it, but it's anxiously awaiting on my shelves, calling my name: "Emi, read know you want know you need an adorable romance in your life right now, even if it is fiction..." Haha, yeah.

And if you do one Follow Meme, why not do two? The more the merrier! This is my seventh Book Blogger Hop.

The Book Blogger Hop is a meme hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books. Like Follow Friday, It's a place for book bloggers to connect, and "hop" from one another's blogs to get to know each other. Jennifer also asks a question to kick off the conversations. This week's question:

What book influenced or changed your life? How did it influence/change you?

The books that hold a special place in my heart have always come at a time when it was right for me to read them. There are quite a few that come to mind, including some big named titles like Harry Potter. But...I think the book that had the most influence on my life was Wild Magic, by Tamora Pierce. I read it when I was 13, just before my parents announced that they were getting a divorce. Now that I'm older I'm glad that they did it because they are much happier, but when you're 13, it's a big deal especially when you don't see it coming. I didn't totally collapse under depression, but my mood changed enough for my teachers and friends to notice and worry. Pierce's books provided a form of escape. I was able to relate to Daine and the other characters and find joy in their adventures, so much that the books got me reading and thinking about fantasy all the time. It changed my perspective on things. Helped me become more confident and adventurous, and less likely to worry about little things and the consequences of standing up for what I wanted (my friends and I had a history of 'fighting the system' in a positive way throughout high school, but I won't get into that). Pierce's books (Wild Magic, the first one I read) inspired me so much that I decided in high school that I wanted to become a writer, which is what I'm working on to this day.

So yeah, I know, a bit sappy, but hey. Honesty is the best policy, right? And the question was asked, so...Win!

To all of you returning visitors, thanks again for stopping by my blog, and to all you new visitors, welcome! If you leave a link to your website I'll be sure to check it out over the weekend. Until then, happy Friday!

100 Follower Giveaway!

Well, well, well, what do we have here?
A giveaway?
No. Not just any giveaway.

A 100 Follower Giveaway!!!

Well guys, when I started out my blog it was kind of hard to imagine that I’d have any followers (aside from the friends that I blackmailed), let alone 100. So to celebrate, I’m holding a giveaway! There will be 13 winners. Want to know what you can win? Well, scroll down and look at the lovely pictures, you awesome reader, you. If you win, you get to pick from...

A signed copy of Ironside, by Holly Black

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A 50th Anniversary Redwall box set, which contains books 1-3 and a pack of collectable trading cards

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An ARC of The Clockwork Three by Matthew Kirby


Graceling by Kristen Cashore, The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman, and Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton
(each is an individual prize. Sorry, no, I’m not giving them away as a pack)


The Awakening by Kelly Armstrong, Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus, and Devil’s Kiss by Sarwat Chadda
(again, each is an individual prize)


A signed copy of Boneshaker and a signed copy of Dreadnought by Cherie Priest
(each is an individual prize—I’m starting to sound like a broken record...)


The first two books of The Arthur Trilogy by Kevin Crossley-Holland—The Seeing Stone (signed) and At the Crossing Places (sadly not signed, but yes, you get both of them as one prize!)


And last, but not least…
The complete first season of True Blood on DVD! It's gently used, but no worries, everything works in tip top shape and looks like it’s brand new.


So now that we’ve got that boring stuff out of the way, lets get down to the rules.

I have three: You must be a follower, you must live in the US (I’m so sorry guys, I can’t afford to ship anything elsewhere…), and to enter, you must leave a comment WITH your email address.

As hinted at in one of my earlier posts, you can earn more entries by friending me around the web.
+1 for following Oktopus Ink. I don’t care if you’ve been following me since the first day I started blogging or just decided to follow me because you were interested in winning the first season of True Blood. One point all around!
+1 follow me on Twitter (leave your username)
+1 “Like” Oktopus Ink on Facebook
+3 Spread the word with a tweet, post, or by linking the contest in a sidebar or something. Please leave a link so I can check it.
+1 Tell me what your all-time favorite sci-fi or fantasy book is!
The contest ENDS on Febuary 7th (my birthday!). Winners will be contacted when I announce who they are.

Thanks again everybody! You guys are all super fabulously awesome. If you have any questions feel free to email me, and goooooood luck!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

Title: Hunger
Author: Jackie Morse Kessler
Series: Horsemen of the Apocalypse #1
Publisher: Harcourt Graphia
Release Date: October 18, 2010
Pages: 180 (Paperback)
Obtained From: NetGalley

"Though art the Black Rider. Go thee out unto the world."

Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she's been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Travelling the world on her steed gives Lisa freedom from her troubles at home: her constant battle with hunger, and her struggle to hide it from the people who care about her. But being Famine forces her to go places where hunger is a painful part of everyday life, and to face the horrifying effects of her phenomenal power. Can Lisa find a way to harness that power--and the courage to battle her own inner demons?


The first thought that I had after finishing Hunger was that it was too short, and I don't say that because it was only 180 pages long. I say that because the story ended just as it was getting started. From the moment that Lisabeth is recruited as Famine, the reader is taken on a crazy (and ironic) journey of self-realization and discovery. But just as she starts to explore her powers as Famine, the ending shows up and concludes the story rather abruptly. I wanted to see more, especially since the first half of the book was dedicated to exploring the pains of her eating disorder rather than actual character development. Even though I understand that this was necessary in order to show where the story was heading, I would have liked to see more Apocalypse action. I can't help it; I like explosions and swords and death and whatnot. So sue me.

On that note, yes, even though Hunger spends more time dealing with Lisabeth's eating disorder than her role as a Horsemen, Kessler refuses to sugar coat it. Instead, she handles it firmly, throwing in meticulously detailed scenes that describe the horrors of eating disorders. One scene in particular comes to mind where Lisabeth's best friend binges on junk food and then heads to the bathroom to throw it up in the reverse order that she ate it in. The feeling and appearance of the food was described, making this scene (and others like it) difficult and painful to read. I've never had an eating disorder, nor have I ever had a friend who had one (to the best of my knowledge), but I can only imagine that it is as painful (if not moreso) than what Lisabeth was going through. Watching Lisabeth walk a thin line between sickness and knowing what she was doing was wrong was nerve wracking, and even though I sometimes had trouble connecting to her as a character I wanted her to get better.

Though the direction of the story was obvious, I enjoyed watching it unfold. But like I said before, I just wish there was more. The concept and use of the Horsemen to tackle such a sensitive subject was very creative, and provided a unique outlet to discuss eating disorders. Kessler leaves the reader with a important message: for those of you that find yourself in the same situation as Lisabeth--or to those who have friends who are sick--there is hope. Seek help. It's not okay to pretend like it's okay, and if you find the courage to speak up, people will listen. I suspect that the second book in the series (Rage) will follow a similar pattern to Hunger, even though it deals with cutting and self-mutilation instead of eating disorders. None-the-less, I look forward to seeing Kessler expand on the mythology of her Horsemen.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Title: Unearthly
Author: Cynthia Hand
Series: Unearthly #1
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: January 4th, 2011
Pages: 488 (Hardcover)
To Buy:
Obtained From: NetGalley

In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees...

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place--and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never though she'd have to make--between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?


Wow. Have you ever read a book that resonates with you so well that even after you finish it, you're thinking about it for days after? That's what Unearthly did for me. I loved everything about this book, especially the things I expected not to, and even though I finished it days ago, I'm still thinking about it.

Since dark/brooding angel books are trendy right now, I expected Unearthly to follow the same sort of 'broody-angel-comes-to-earth-to-fight-evil' kind of plot. But Unearthly turned out to be more of a coming of age novel than anything. In fact, the angel aspect almost seemed low-key, since it's part of Clara's every day life. I loved the fact that when the book started she already knew that she was an angel, and it was nice to see a character in her position that wasn't a godmodder. Hand manages to balance Clara's "purpose" problems with the the issues that every teenager faces in school, giving us a panoramic view of her personality. And boy, is she likeable. Clara's got a touch of humor, a touch of common sense, a touch of adventure, a touch of fear, a touch of loyalty, a touch of love, a touch of arrogance...can you see where I'm going with this? She was just a wonderfully balanced character and it was fun watching her strengthen her powers and mature throughout the novel.

In addition, Clara had great relationships with the people around her. She adores her family, has a good time with her two best friends, and the romance that she finds herself in was logical and earned. I guess this is a bit of a spoiler, but Cynthia really takes the time to let the reader get to know Tucker, and he turns out to be the kind of guy you want Clara to end up with. He's kind, funny, sarcastic, tough, and compliments her personality nicely, even though Christian is literally the boy of her dreams. The dynamics between the three of them were very realistic, and I believed I was watching high schoolers deal with their relationship problems as real high schoolers would.

The concept of God and religion in this book also intrigued me. Though they are present throughout the story, unlike other angel novels out there Unearthly manages to deal with them without shoving them in your face. In fact, the characters often question their purpose on earth and Gods' rules, which ultimately becomes the main conflict in Clara's life. Can she disobey? The answer is...well, you'll just have to read the book to find out! But their questions are ones that many of us in life also have, which just added another interesting and realistic dimension to the characters in this novel.

Overall, Unearthly was an amazing book that questions the rules of fate and love in a great blend of realism and fantasy. There were many twists in the plot I didn't see coming, and that made for not only a touching read, but an exciting one as well. Really, I was sad to realize that I had reached the last page when I did. Though it concludes with a bang, it sort of ends with an "oh shi--now what?" cliffhanger. Though I was fortunate enough to receive a digital ARC of this book, I'm going to have to pick up a physical copy if it when it hits the shelves. It'll be one that I'm going to reread for years to come, and I look forward to the next book in the series!


Happy New Year!

Hey guys...guess what?


Even though New Year's was like...three days ago. Maybe I should say Happy January Third instead? Hm...somehow, that doesn't seem quite right. Either way, you get the idea.

So I just got back from vacation in Walt Disney World. My dad, brother, and I met up in Florida and spent a week roaming around the self-elected happiest place on earth (though, it isn't self-elected without reason). It was amazing. I'm a real Disney junkie so I've always loved WDW, but seeing Cinderella's Castle lit up with Christmas lights was the epitome of Magical. They even made it snow on Main Street, which was adorable beyond words. For some of the kids walking around, it was the first time they had ever seen snow, and watching them frolic and try to make snow angles with their parents was worth the entire trip. The spirit of Christmas lives on, even in the heat of Florida.

Anyway, it had been a month since I'd seen my brother and my dad, and we had a lot of fun catching up and playing with our Christmas gifts. For Xmas my family got me two presents which I was able to use on the trip. I got a digital camera and a Nook, which I named Compass. I love them both, especially since now that I'm home I can use them for my blog! IMM will certainly be a lot easier to participate in, now that I can take pictures of the stuff I get in the mail/pick up in the library. Expect a flood of photos in the next few weeks.

And now, even though it's a few days late, its's time for me to do the wonderful and obligatory look back on 2010. I started Oktopus Ink six (almost seven) months ago, have posted 24 reviews (which is nothing compared to the 103 books that I read in 2010) and gained...*checks* 95 followers! Overall, it was a great year. I learned a ton about social networking, made some great friends/stalkers, talked with some really cool authors, and added more books to my TBR list than I could possibly read in a year (I swear, Goodreads is not a healthy place for readers.) So, with that said, I'm going to move onto my blogging goals for 2011. I'd go over my top 10 favorite books of the year, but honestly you guys are probably bored of reading lists. If you're curious, you can just check out my Inky Reviews page for the books that got 8/8 tentacles.

I've decided to declare 2011 the year of fist pumping. Now that I know a bit more about blogging, I plan to step up my game. I want to...
1. Post AT LEAST two reviews a week, every Monday and Friday--unless its finals week or I wind up in the hospital due to some freak accident. I'd like to shoot for three reviews a week, but this semester I plan to focus on some writing projects that I've started and would like them to eat up most of my time instead.
2. Post AT LEAST one author interview a month.
3. Post AT LEAST one giveaway a month. 'Cause really, who doesn't like free stuff? Even though I don't have a job, I'll make it work.
4. Comment more on other blogs. I've been a bit of a lurker this year, and would like for that to change.
And, last but not least...
5. Finally get a button for my blog. I fail at HTML, which is why I don't have one yet. But it's never too late to learn, right? Maybe one of you out there would be willing to help me. *wink wink nudge nudge* That way, people can easily post a link to my blog if they want to.
So, there you have it, my blogging goals for 2011. I expect this year will be bigger and better, and a hearty thanks to all of you that made 2010 one of my best years yet. Bring it on 2011. I'm ready!