22 July 2011

carolina valdez miller:Review of THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS and Super ARC Giveaway...Another One

Review of THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS and Super ARC Giveaway...Another One

I actually read this book a while ago, but I've been waiting to review this until it got a little closer to its launch date--mainly, I wanted this book to be fresh in your mind for the release. Because you MUST READ THIS. It's not an order. Just, you know, a really strong suggestion. Look into my eyes...you are getting sleepy.


No, seriously, check it out.
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Me with Derek Molata, TGOFAT ARC, and Brad Beaulieu

This is the ARC cover, which if you win this book, you will get. See below for the other hot ARCs you can win.

Okay, so first my review:

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS
by Rae Carson


Girl of Fire and Thorns
Summary: Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one.
But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will. 
Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.
And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.
Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.
Most of the chosen do.


MY REVIEW
YES. A fantasy YA with a strong heroine that is not also perfect. Elisa doesn't have the ideal body, astonishing self-control, confidence disguised as razor sharp wit, or all the answers. She doesn't always know what to say, she overeats and overindulges and gives in to bouts of self-pity and insecurity. Which is just...right. Because most people do all of these things sometimes, especially sixteen year old girls. So how is she strong? Well, she's not at first, at least not on the surface. Elisa has to earn her strength like most people do--through trial and tribulation. Nobody is really born kickass. THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS shows us that bravery is a learned behavior. That kickassedness is not a fixed, natural trait, but an assertion that has to be made over and over--an act of sheer will and possibly even an act of defiance. And always, an act born out of necessity. How incredibly hopeful that is. I can never be like Superman. But Elisa? Possibly.

The irony is, here's this princess who is somewhat of an outcast within her own society. So while you might expect a princess to be a "chosen one," you wouldn't expect Elisa to be anything. It's like weakling Harry Potter if he knew from the get-go he were a wizard and everyone in the wizarding world thought he was kind of lame despite that scar. Elisa has to somehow overcome her own insecurities as well as the doubts of everyone else to fulfill a prophecy to save all their hides.  And then she discovers that not everyone believes in the prophecy in the same way she does, so suddenly her faith, which has been her constant companion and her greatest strength, is tested most of all. There are no easy answers, no obvious choices or hidden paths that Elisa just isn't seeing. It's a complicated world of grays where she has to learn as much as she can and rely on her instincts and her faith for answers. Pretty realistic in that regard--and in many other ways.

While THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS is indeed a fantasy, I sort of kept forgetting that. It reads almost like a kickass historical with paranormal elements. Yes, there are some freaky-cool things in this world, but it feels inspired by real-life elements. It wasn't your typical medieval feeling fantasy, but rather felt sort of like an amalgamation of Latin and Middle Eastern cultures with a YA fantasy twist. The descriptions are rock solid--so, so vivid, I could nearly feel the grit of sand against my skin--with a world that is rich with detailed history, religion, monarchy, and paranormal mythos. But while the world building is remarkable, the characterization is easily a highlight with fully fleshed, complex characters. The overweight girl is not one to pity and the pretty, charming girl is not one to hate. This is bigger than that. Like I said, a complicated world of grays, just like ours. Even love feels complicated in this, and thus authentic. It's not a matter of love at first sight, but love as a choice.

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS is intense, full of emotional twists and unexpected plot turns, riveting to the end. Will be available September 20, 2011.


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ANOTHER 3 ARC GIVEAWAY


I'm offering up these books, okay? Click on their covers for pop-up Goodreads summaries.

Girl of Fire and Thorns
GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS
by Rae Carson


See my review above! Please note, the ARC in the giveaway has a different cover.






The Eleventh Plague
THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE 
by Jeff Hirsch


I read this one entirely on the plane ride home from New Orleans. It's amazing. So real and scary and just...un-put-downable. I'll get a full review up for this in a few days.




Lola and the Boy Next Door
LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR
by Stephanie Perkins

I haven't yet finished this one, but Ahhh! Whipping through it. It might possibly be even better than ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. Not sure yet. That one is hard to top. But I'll try to get a full review up for this soon, too.


This 3 ARC Giveaway is international. Ends on Thursday, July 28, 2011. Must be 13 years or older to enter. Under 18's must have parent/guardian permission. If you win, you will need to provide an address for shipment.

Click Here to Enter Another Three ARC International Giveaway


http://www.carolinavaldezmiller.com/2011/07/review-of-girl-of-fire-and-thorns-and.html

21 July 2011

carolina valdez miller:Review of THE NEAR WITCH and More ARCs and Prizes (And Reviews) for You

  Review of THE NEAR WITCH and More ARCs and Prizes (And Reviews) for You

For today, here's the plan. I've got a full review of THE NEAR WITCH finally. And if you scroll down, you'll also find another ARC giveaway and more.


THE NEAR WITCH by Victoria Schwab


Near WitchSummary: The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.
If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. 

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


The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.


MY REVIEW
THE NEAR WITCH opens with a looming sense of darkness, an undefined eeriness that draws you in. Sort of like sitting around a campfire, listening to the beginnings of a well-told ghost story. Except Schwab's ghost is a mysterious wind and the songs of the past--whispers of witches, betrayals and revenge.  There's also an edge of sadness because of a loss, but it's not too bitter as it's reined in by Lexi's unrelenting spiritedness, presenting a sharp contrast to the emerging gloom. As the story progresses, the mystery that sprouted at the beginning takes a dark turn when children begin to disappear.

And then you hit page 40.

What had been before just a darkness in the distance, a mystery that begged to be solved, suddenly becomes a danger to Lexi. The mystery becomes a threat--even if Lexi doesn't fully realize it at first. But you do. I think I spent the better part of this book in a constant state of shivers. THE NEAR WITCH is a book that sucks you in and has you thinking/saying things like, "Lexi, check the charm! Make sure it's still there!" It's a book that makes you feel fully invested as a reader. Not just in the mystery, but in the characters themselves--and in the romance. The difficult circumstances within the story heighten the romantic tension, making it feel at times bittersweet.

But one of the most impressive attributes is the paranormal element. It's not that witches haven't been done before, but Schwab took them a new direction, creating such an original twist. Even the setting felt completely new--not modern and not fully old, not fantasy and yet not conventional. Some of the typical conventions of witch stories are employed, but Schwab also created some new rules--which means no expectations for a reader. The best stories are the ones you can't predict, creating something entirely new out of the old. THE NEAR WITCH is a remarkable debut--original and truly gripping.


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For now, how about a couple more ARCs to win? I've got a lot of these guys. So many coming out in August and September, so some of my reviews may be a little more condensed. But you'll likely be seeing more reviews than usual. Only so many Thursdays...

Today, I'm offering:

(Click on images for Goodreads summary in a pop-up window.)

AFTER OBSESSION
by Carrie Jones and Steven E Wedel

After Obsession
MY CONDENSED REVIEW: Told in alternating points of view, AFTER OBSESSION is a riveting paranormal romance about demonic possession. Very spooky. It's a compelling read with hints of humor that help to dispel that darkness. So often alternating POVs feel really similar, but this one had two very distinct voices, likely because of the two authors. It was refreshing. A great read, especially for fans of dark paranormal romance.




[Signed] PETER NIMBLE AND HIS FANTASTIC EYES by Jonathan Auxier 

Peter Nimble
MY CONDENSED REVIEW: I haven't read a lot of middle grade, but I fell in love with the voice in this. It's different from anything I've ever read. A certain dry humor which I found really absorbing.  There's a dark undertone there, too, but it's subtle--if you really think about the reality of what's being hinted at, you realizes how gloomy it is. But there's overall a very light feel to it meshed with the darkness--sort of like the first Harry Potter. It's an adventure story, very fun. Would appeal to both boys and girls. Highly recommend it for fans of adventure middle grade.



THE BEGINNING OF AFTER
by Jennifer Castle

Beginning of After
MY CONDENSED REVIEW: A beautiful story that is both heartwrenching and sweet. There's the potential for some serious tears, though, as it's a story of one girl's grief journey. The greatest heartbreak occurs very early on. But unlike some of the other grief stories that are out there, it's not a constant emotional battle. There are a number of happy moments to relieve the tension. Moments of laughter. Overall strong characterization and voice. A memorable contemporary.


So, up for grabs: AFTER OBSESSION, PETER NIMBLE, and THE BEGINNING OF AFTER

Click Here to Enter to Win my Three ARC International Giveaway

Giveaway ends Saturday, July 23, 2011, Midnight EST. Open Internationally. Must be 9 years to win PETER Nimble and 13 years to win AFTER OBSESSION and THE BEGINNING OF AFTER. Under 18's must have parent permission to enter. If you win, you will need to provide an address for shipping.

Thanks so much for entering. Good luck!

http://www.carolinavaldezmiller.com/2011/07/review-of-near-witch-and-more-arcs-and.html

10 July 2011

The Mod Podge Bookshelf: 1,000 Mod Podge Books

The Mod Podge Bookshelf: 1,000 Mod Podge Books: "My first Blog'O'Versary will be July 26th, 2011! I am very excited by this news and proud, proud of this thing I have created, the friends ..."