Giveaway! “Legend” & “Prodigy (Legend #2)” by Marie Lu!


Hey there, folks!

The guys at Penguin Teen/Penguin Young Readers USA have been kind enough to supply the following – a set of the paperback editions of the first two books in the “Legend” trilogy by Marie Lu – “Legend and “Prodigy” – so I thought, why not do a giveaway? I love this trilogy, and I can’t wait to see what happens when it’s finished developing into either a movie or TV show (things seem to be a bit fuzzy on that front).

Anyway, the details:

What you’ll be getting – the first two books in the trilogy in paperback format.

What do you have to do to get these?

1. Live in the US only. As far as I know, at least. Penguin Teen is sending these out, so…yeah.

2. Leave a comment, stating which book is your favorite, OR, what your favorite character is and why! (Try to keep it spoiler free). Don’t forget to leave your contact info – name and email – when you do!

3. For an extra entry, retweet the following: RT @usagiko WIN A #LEGEND PRIZE SET FROM @PENGUINTEEN & @MARIE_LU here! http://wp.me/p13UyI-36c. Don’t forget to link me to your retweet in your initial comment entry!

4. Wait for me to pick a person and win!

That’s it for now! I’ll announce a winner next week!

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Review: “Snakeroot (Nightshade Legacy #1/Nightshade #4)” by Andrea Cremer


17372472Title: “Snakeroot (Nightshade Legacy #1/Nightshade #4)”

Author: Andrea Cremer

Genre: Fantasy, YA, PNR

Publication Date:  December 10, 2013

Source:  Publisher-provided ARC

Synopsis: Fans asked for it, and now they’ve got it!

Andrea Cremer is continuing the story she began in in her internationally bestselling trilogy: Nightshade, Wolfsbane and Bloodrose.

Bosque Mar haunts the dreams of both Adne and Logan, trying to escape for the Nether, where Calla, Shay and the other Guardians trapped him in the final battle in the War of All Against All…

Will he turn Adne to the dark side? Will Logan reclaim his birthright? And will darkness take over our world?

☆: 4/5 stars – Will definitely satisfy hardcore fans of the series!

Review: Fair warning here, folks: this review is going to have a lot of spoilers for the “Nightshade” trilogy (and its novellas/prequels). I thought and thought on how to do a review for this book without spoilers and then realized that it just wasn’t going to happen. So, fair warning, folks. “Snakeroot” is apart of the new “Nightshade Legacy” continuation series (not sure if “Captive”, “Rise”, and “Rift” are in this continuation/expansion but I’ll throw them in there anyway), not focusing on the main characters of our trilogy, but instead on the fringe characters we met throughout the journey of the trilogy. While “Snakeroot” definitely satisfies, it leaves us on a cliffhanger with no definitive promise that this series will continue. And I sincerely hope it will.

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Blog Tour Stop!: “Horde (Razorland #3)” by Ann Aguirre – on research for book 3!


10596724Hey there, everyone! Usagi here. We’re quite excited to be apart of the blog tour for “Horde”, the final (and quite frankly, most awesome) book in the “Razorland” trilogy. Today, Aguirre has been kind enough to write a guest post on her research process for this final book, as well as other stuff too.

So, without further ado, Ann Aguirre on her research!

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Review: “Kinslayer (Lotus War #2)” by Jay Kristoff


15773979Title: “Kinslayer”

Author: Jay Kristoff

Genre: Alternate Universe/History, Steampunk, AWESOME

Publication Date: September 17, 2013 (SMP/Macmillan – North America)

Source: Publisher-provided ARC

Synopsis: A SHATTERED EMPIRE
The mad Shōgun Yoritomo has been assassinated by the Stormdancer Yukiko, and the threat of civil war looms over the Shima Imperium. The Lotus Guild conspires to renew the nation’s broken dynasty and crush the growing rebellion simultaneously – by endorsing a new Shōgun who desires nothing more than to see Yukiko dead.

A DARK LEGACY
Yukiko and the mighty thunder tiger Buruu have been cast in the role of heroes by the Kagé rebellion. But Yukiko herself is blinded by rage over her father’s death, and her ability to hear the thoughts of beasts is swelling beyond her power to control. Along with Buruu, Yukiko’s anchor is Kin, the rebel Guildsman who helped her escape from Yoritomo’s clutches. But Kin has his own secrets, and is haunted by visions of a future he’d rather die than see realized.

A GATHERING STORM
Kagé assassins lurk within the Shōgun’s palace, plotting to end the new dynasty before it begins. A waif from Kigen’s gutters begins a friendship that could undo the entire empire. A new enemy gathers its strength, readying to push the fracturing Shima imperium into a war it cannot hope to survive. And across raging oceans, amongst islands of black glass, Yukiko and Buruu will face foes no katana or talon can defeat.

The ghosts of a blood-stained past.

☆: 5/5 stars – an absolutely awesome follow-up to book one!

Review: Because this book was more or less just as awesome in terms of all of the technical aspects of writing when compared to book one, I’m going to instead focus this review on one very interesting theme that I found ongoing throughout this installment of the series, and there will be some speculation if some of the finer aspects of that theme were intentional or not on Kristoff’s part. That being said, it’s no surprise that the followup to “Stormdancer” was awesome, but it felt like Kristoff grew a great deal between both books, and it shows. We’re moving more and more into adult territory with not only what actually happens plot-wise with Yukiko and company, but with themes and the like. And it’s a lovely thing to behold. If you’ve read “Stormdancer” and liked it, you’re going to love “Kinslayer”.

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Review: Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman


Want to Go PrivateTitle: Want to Go Private?

Author: Sarah Darer Littman

Genre: YA Contemporary, Social Issues

Publication Date: August 1, 2011 (Scholastic Press)

Source: Bought per recommendation of Renae of Respiring Thoughts

Synopsis: Abby and Luke chat online. They’ve never met. But they are going to. Soon.

Abby is starting high school–it should be exciting, so why doesn’t she care? Everyone tells her to “make an effort,” but why can’t she just be herself? Abby quickly feels like she’s losing a grip on her once-happy life. The only thing she cares about anymore is talking to Luke, a guy she met online, who understands. It feels dangerous and yet good to chat with Luke–he is her secret, and she’s his. Then Luke asks her to meet him, and she does. But Luke isn’t who he says he is. When Abby goes missing, everyone is left to put together the pieces. If they don’t, they’ll never see Abby again.

5/5 stars – Horrifying and disgusting and difficult and PERFECT

Ew ew ew ew ew ew ew. This is the kind of book so gross that you need a shower after finishing it. Heck, you might need thorough showers while reading it alongside your usual showers in hopes of feeling clean again. Want to Go Private? can be really graphic at times, yeah, but that isn’t quite what I mean. What makes it so horrible that you need to scrub half your skin off? That it’s deeply rooted in truth and events that have happened to children across the world. That is more chilling than any graphic description the novel can offer, and that is why this novel is so wonderful and worth reading. The increase in your water bill will be worth it that month.

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Review: Fault Line by C. Desir


Fault LineTitle: Fault Line

Author: C. Desir

Genre: YA Contemporary

Publication Date: October 15, 2013 (Simon Pulse)

Source: print ARC from the publisher

Synopsis: Ben could date anyone he wants, but he only has eyes for the new girl — sarcastic free-spirit, Ani. Luckily for Ben, Ani wants him too. She’s everything Ben could ever imagine. Everything he could ever want.

But that all changes after the party. The one Ben misses. The one Ani goes to alone.

Now Ani isn’t the girl she used to be, and Ben can’t sort out the truth from the lies. What really happened, and who is to blame?

Ben wants to help her, but she refuses to be helped. The more she pushes Ben away, the more he wonders if there’s anything he can do to save the girl he loves.

4.5/5 stars – Painful, true, and an ugly sort of lovely; definitely a new favorite

Sexual abuse and sexual assault can screw people up like nobody’s business. Responses can vary from not wanting to be touched at all to wanting to have sex with everyone to anything between the two or far beyond them. It’s one of those events so damaging that their effects on the victims are unpredictable. With Fault Line, Desir writes a raw and perfectly illustrated story of one girl’s downward spiral, the boyfriend who goes down with her while trying to help her, and how rape is everyone’s problem, not just the victim’s. This is a tragedy, not a mystery.

Ani and Ben’s development both separately and together feels a little bit rushed, but there’s enough personality and heart on Ani’s part to feel her pain immediately once she’s raped about a third of the way through the book. Her downward spiral into trying to empower herself by living up to her reputation while telling herself she’s challenging it is all too familiar. I wanted to reach into the book and tell her she was only hurting herself and others, but I know I’d never get through to her. No one could at the point she was at. Not even her beloved Ben.

Ben’s individual development is the one that carries most of the novel’s issues. We hear about how he’s on the swim team and up for a scholarship and spends a lot of time with his family, but we don’t see very little of that in action before Ani is raped and he starts to neglect all that to try and help her get better. It’s simply things we heard he lost and it almost turns him into a vehicle for a story instead of a living, breathing part of the story. The last thirty pages or so are what save him because he finally gets it. Though I know there’s little to no hope for a sequel, I’d love to know where both Ben and Ani go after the abrupt yet strong ending of the novel.

What’s especially sad is how true-to-life this book is about the way people will treat rape victims like Ani, who have little to no idea what happened to them. They’ll say rape must not have happened because she doubted herself due to her lack of memory or she dressed/acted a certain way or they’d rather side with the people who took advantage of her and raped her when she was clearly intoxicated.

These are the kind of horrible people who manipulate the few known and many unknown details of the incident to support their positions, bring in a strawman argument like “two drunk people have sex, the girl wakes up the next morning and calls rape because she doesn’t want people to know she did it willingly” to a situation that is NOTHING like that, and sympathize with the Steubenville rapists. These are people who are all too common and once the book is out, reviews along these lines are sure to pop up. These are people I want to wash my hands of, but running into one is almost certain because of widespread myths and lies about rape.

I’ve been a fan of Desir for a while because of how she expresses her beliefs and personality on Twitter and it’s great to see those beliefs shine through in Fault Lines‘s pages. Her next YA novel won’t be out until fall 2014, but I’m already anticipating it eagerly and planning to get a finished copy of Fault Line to go on my shelves (or in my bins of books, as the case may be; there’s no room for a bookshelf in my dorm room).

Review: “Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2)” by Sarah J. Maas


Crown of MidnightTitle: “Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2)”

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Genre: High Fantasy, Magical Realism, Mystery, Paranormal, AWESOME

Publication Date: August 27, 2013 (Bloomsbury – North America)

Source: NetGalley review copy

Synopsis: An assassin’s loyalties are always in doubt.

But her heart never wavers.

After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king’s contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king’s bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she’s given a task that could jeopardize everything she’s come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon — forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice.

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?

☆: 5/5 stars – MY FEELS. THEY HURT.

Review:  After finishing this book, it feels like my heart went five rounds and lost, hard, face down on the floor. After “Throne of Glass”, it feels like Maas has made a huge leap from the writing in all technical aspects, which was originally setting us up in her world with her characters in book one, to making them feel so very, very real and full and there in book two. Definitely in my top ten for 2013 so far, “Crown of Midnight” is everything I could have possibly wanted in a sequel for “Throne of Glass” and more.

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