April TBR Pile

Since we’re already nearly a week into April, this months TBR only has six books. So here’s what I’ll be reading and reviewing this month.

Have any of you read these yet? If you have, let me know what you think, or link me to your review!

Why hello there, long time no see!

So it has been about a month since I decided to leave the blogging world. Well guess what? I’m missing it. I know my reading has suffered. I’ve been wracked with indecision on what to read next since I finished Arcadia Awakens (awesome book) on March 8. Since then I’ve only read one other book (Anna Dressed in Blood, very good) and four volumes of manga (Sailor Moon).

So I think I’ll be coming back to the blogging world. But just a warning: I will not be posting every single day. That’s part of what turned me off last time. I was pressuring myself that I need to post every day, forgetting quality over quantity. I haven’t decided all the particulars just yet of what I plan on doing here, but I do know one thing for sure: I will not be accepting ARCs for review. That was another reason why I stopped blogging. All the craziness associated with ARCs. Although I do have one that I was sent right before I stopped blogging, so I will read and review that one, but from now on, I’ll only be reviewing finished copies. I’d rather do that anyway, just because nothing will change from the time my review is written to the time the story is published, since it’s already been published.

If there’s anything you’d like to see on Starry Sky Books, drop me a comment here! While this blog is primarily an outlet for me, I’d like to know that I’m doing something for my readers as well, so any suggestions are welcome.

I’ll be seeing you guys soon!

Major decision was made

I love reading, that will never change. But right now reading feels like a job, and I don’t want it to be a job since it is my way to escape into other worlds. So I’ve come to the decision to quit blogging, for now. I did not come to this decision lightly, or quickly. I’ve been toying with it off and on since probably November. Maybe even a little earlier. Every now and then something would pop up that would rekindle the excitement for blogging, but those occasions are few and far between now. I doubt I’ll ever start again, but I will keep the blog up for a while for anyone who wants to read the reviews. They’re also posted on Shelfari and Goodreads though, so I’ll probably delete the blog eventually.

I want to thank all of you who’ve read my blog and stuck with me, you guys are awesome. It truly was a great experience. I’ll still be around on Goodreads and Shelfari, as well as Twitter. I’ll still go around reading blogs I follow, because how else will I get the scoop on all the books out there? Thanks to the publishers as well, for allowing me the privilege of reading advance copies for review.

Happy reading everyone. 🙂

Early Review: Unbreak My Heart by Melissa C. Walker (eARC)

Unbreak My Heart by Melissa C. Walker
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Release date: May 22, 2012
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Purchase: Book Depository

Sophomore year broke Clementine Williams’ heart. She fell for her best friend’s boyfriend and long story short: he’s excused, but Clem is vilified and she heads into summer with zero social life.

Enter her parents’ plan to spend the summer on their sailboat. Normally the idea of being stuck on a tiny boat with her parents and little sister would make Clem break out in hives, but floating away sounds pretty good right now.

Then she meets James at one of their first stops along the river. He and his dad are sailing for the summer and he’s just the distraction Clem needs. Can he break down Clem’s walls and heal her broken heart?

Told in alternating chapters that chronicle the year that broke Clem’s heart and the summer that healed it, Unbreak My Heart is a wonderful dual love story that fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Susane Colasanti will flock to.

This is the kind of contemporary novel that I absolutely adore. Because in one way or another every single person can relate to it. There are other contemporaries, more dark and gritty, that I read and enjoy, but I can’t relate to those as well since I was lucky to have a good childhood. But who can’t relate to heartbreak?

I loved Clementine. I know some people might think she was too mopey and whiney for too long but really she wasn’t. We all handle our emotions differently, deal with things differently. I had something that took me 4 years to get over. Completely overshadowed my entire time in high school. There was no point where I was thinking that she needed to just stop. She had to work things out for herself, and she did. James was major help in that department. And in her way, she helps James with his own issues. I loved seeing them get closer and closer over the summer. And Clem’s family is one of the most awesome families that could ever exist.

I enjoyed how the story unfolds between the summer present, and the school year past in alternating chapters. That’s a great way of giving back story, and ensuring your reader will continue reading since they’ll want to know what happened. Melissa C. Walker is an excellent writer as well. I was always able to picture everything in my mind, which also made me really wish it was summer already. The only thing I didn’t like about the book was that we didn’t see what happens between Clem and Amanda and Ethan after the summer. There are hints as to how it could all go down, but really you’re left guessing.

Definitely a good summer read, because even though it deals in heartbreak, Unbreak My Heart is about healing and moving on, with plenty of light moments and laughter. A contemporary that shouldn’t be missed.

Author Guest Post: Sue Bursztynski (Wolfborn) + Giveaway!

I’m happy to to host Sue on the blog today with a guest post about her novel, Wolfborn.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I love medieval romance. At university I read Arthurian stories for my Honours thesis – Arthur,
Merlin, Gawain and Dame Ragnell, the Green Knight and others were my friends that year.

So when, one day, I found a book called Proud Knight, Fair Lady: the twelve lays of Marie De
France, a beautifully-illustrated translation of the Breton Lais, I pounced on it. Some stories were
familiar from Middle English versions, like the stories of Launfal and Le Freine. Some I’d never
seen before. They were gentle, funny and charming.

But one stood out for me. That was Lai Le Bisclavret, the tale of a werewolf knight betrayed by his
wife, who stranded him in his wolf shape. The werewolf was the good guy, something I’d never
come across. This was written at a time when werewolves and vampires alike were thought evil –
and I read it long before YA paranormal romances made them cool. The werewolf knight in the Lai
Le Bisclavret was clearly a born werewolf, because the only way you could become one by choice
in medieval folklore was to do some seriously evil stuff. That was the first time I’d ever heard of
the idea that you might be born a lycanthrope. It intrigued me.

The story raised questions I could only answer by writing a young adult novel which, at the time,
had the working title of Bisclavret. It went through a lot of re-writes before I finally sold it, early
in 2010, to Woolshed Press, an imprint of Random House Australia, which changed the title to
Wolfborn.

Because I love folklore and mythology, I crammed it with Celtic gods and Otherworld, although I
set it in my own universe, to give me flexibility. The history and geography of this world are mine.
It first appeared in swords and sorcery tales I wrote for a magazine called Eye of Newt.

But you can’t just make up a world; it has to make sense. Medieval cities, for example, were laid
out the way they were for a reason. You can play with it only so much.

So I read books on various aspects of the Middle Ages – cities, clothing, food, the role of women
from manor lady to peasant, medicine, the feudal system, fighting.

Okay, so the fighting in Wolfborn is more like the Society for Creative Anachronism, of which
I was a member at one point, than anything in real life. I joined in the first place to learn how it
worked – and I did, oh, I did! Ouch! Getting thumped on my helmeted head time after time because
I couldn’t keep my shield up told me what you could and couldn’t do with a sword. 🙂

I looked up information about wolves as well, because if I was going to have a race of born
werewolves they would have to have some connection, at least, with the real animals. In the end, I
kept real wolves and their habits to a minimum, but it stayed there in the background and I know I
got it right, because I sent a copy of the book, with much trepidation, to my wolf-loving friend Sue
Isle, a fellow fantasy writer, and she loved it. If I’d got it wrong, Sue would have let me know in no
uncertain terms!

All the medieval research must have worked too, because quite a few reviewers haven’t noticed it
isn’t our world, despite the three moons. And yes, I researched that too, to find out what effect they
might have on a world like ours. I had to fight to keep those three moons in. My editors kept asking
me if I was “wedded” to them. They were there to make it absolutely clear this wasn’t our world.

Some reviewers have congratulated me on playing around with the role of women, as my female

characters were doing a lot of stuff not associated with medieval women in modern imagination.

Um – no. I did make up the wise-woman-in-the-forest thing, though there were a lot of women
practising medicine and making discoveries before (male) doctors took over and appropriated such
female discoveries as digitalin. I needed a woman with a mysterious past, out on her own, and wise-
woman seemed the best way to go, so I created a character called Sylvie and gave her a daughter,
Jeanne.

But the role of manor ladies? Nuns? It’s all there in the history books. I didn’t invent that. Imagine
you’re the lady of the manor. Think you’d be sitting around doing embroidery, do you? Really?
When there’s a household the size of a hotel to run? The manor was a big farm. You had your job to
do there too.

My hero, Etienne, mentions that his mother had once been second line of defense in a war. I got
that idea from medieval paintings which showed women up on the castle walls and enemies below.

A description of “women’s communities” towards the end of Wolfborn is based on German
convents such as those run by Hildegard of Bingen, one of the greatest Abbesses of the Middle
Ages. Hildegard composed drama, music we still play and record, wrote about religion, herbs and
medicine and was the terror of high churchmen, who went scurrying into hiding when they saw her
coming.

I researched the Otherworld, which was pretty dark. Traditional fairies were not sweet things
fluttering in flowers, nor were they Galadriel. They were scary. If you don’t believe me, just read
some of Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely novels. She used the same books I did for her research
and was probably more accurate in how she portrayed her Faerie. Me? I like my Shakespeare, so
whatever I called my Faerie rulers, they were basically Oberon and Titania. But the Wild Hunt
wasn’t made up, and I did let some of the dark mood come through.

The characters were mostly mine – Etienne, the boy whose mentor, Geraint, is the werewolf knight,
Etienne’s friend Armand, Sylvie the wise-woman and her daughter Jeanne. The only characters
from the original story are the knight, his wife, the wife’s boyfriend and the king – but the names
were mine. They weren’t named in the original tale.

When I decided that there would be a romance between Etienne and Jeanne, I gave him a
background that would make the romance work and put him in the position of having to make a
sacrifice for her near the end. The build-up was slow and subtle because there was no time for them
to do much “lovin’” as someone put it in a Goodreads discussion I read. Maybe it was too subtle,
to the point where some reviewers have complained it’s “tacked on”. It wasn’t. The choice was to
keep it subtle or stop for love scenes in the middle of the action.

Besides, by doing it this way I got boys reading (and loving) it as well as girls. It’s an adventure
with romance in it, not a paranormal romance, so be warned!

It’s a short book, only about 60,000 words long, but there’s a lot crammed into it! A lot of work, a
lot of love and a lot of action. I hope you’ll all read it when it arrives on your shores.

Break the curse or howl forever.

Etienne, son of a lord in the kingdom of Armorique, goes to train as a knight with Geraint of Lucanne. Geraint is brave and kind, a good teacher and master – but he has a secret that he has kept from his family. He is bisclavret, a born werewolf. When Geraint is betrayed, Etienne must ally with the local wise-woman and her daughter, themselves bisclavret, to save his lord. But time is running out. If Geraint’s enemies have their way, Geraint will soon be trapped in his wolf form.

And Etienne has his own secret. The decisions he makes will change his life forever . . .

Inspired by a medieval romance, this engaging novel forces us to question everything we thought we knew about werewolves.

Giveaway

I have a signed paperback copy for giveaway to one lucky US resident! Sorry international peeps, but money is tight this month so I can’t afford international shipping. To enter just leave a comment with your email address! Giveaway ends Tuesday, March 6 @ 9pm PST.

Early Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass (ARC)

The Selection by Kiera Cass
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release date: April 24, 2012
Source: Publisher for an honest review
Series: The Selection #1
Purchase: Book Depository

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.


But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.


Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself- and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

First of all what drew me to this book is pretty much the same as what has drawn everyone initially. That cover, oh my. That is one of the most eye-catching covers I have ever seen. If I had no idea about this book before being published and only found it afterwards sitting on a bookshelf in the bookstore, I’d probably buy it without even looking at the inside flap. That’s how stunning the cover is. We all know that saying don’t judge a book by its cover, but come on. We all do it. And seriously, the cover is the first thing we see about a book, that first initial draw. It helps when it looks this good.

 America was an interesting character. She was strong and definitely opinionated when it came to Prince Maxon and their two different worlds. I enjoyed the other girls in The Selection as well, for the most part. Some seemed really sweet, though most were just barely mentioned in passing, and usually only when they were sent home. I had a problem with that at first, but after giving it thought I decided it works that way, since I don’t want a big chunk of the book to be information on all 35 girls. That would’ve definitely taken away from the story. I would have liked to have seen more of Maxon’s mother and father, especially the mother since she was also chosen from The Selection. I’m guessing based off something said in the book though that we’ll be seeing more of her in the sequel. I have to say that Kiera Cass made it really easy to choose which side of this love triangle I’m on. I get the reasons behind the way one of the guys acted, but once I saw how the other one was, I knew who I was rooting for.

The story itself was very enjoyable. I ate this book up. I would have liked more worldbuilding though. More information about the world in general, but also more about Illea specifically. Like how the castes came about. How was it decided who would be in which caste? And how did Maxon’s family end up ruling? Something was mentioned about that, but didn’t go in depth at all.

The Selection doesn’t quite end on a cliffhanger, but it ends in such a way that is frustrating but at the same time makes you really wish you had the sequel in your hands so you could continue right away. I will definitely be reading the next in this trilogy when it becomes available, and buying The Selection as soon as it is released for my personal library.

Early Review: Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris (ARC)

Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: April 24, 2012
Source: Publisher for an honest review
Purchase: Book Depository

Two days before her junior year, Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed —as in blinding light, her life flashing before her, then nothing. Except the next thing she knows, she’s opening her eyes to find Ben Michaels, a loner from her high school whom Janelle has never talked to, leaning over her. And though it isn’t possible, she knows with every fiber of her being that Ben has brought her back to life.

But her revival, and Ben’s possible role in it, is only the first of the puzzles that Janelle must solve. While snooping in her FBI agent father’s files for clues about her accident, she uncovers a clock that seems to be counting down to something — but to what? And when someone close to Janelle is killed, she can no longer deny what’s right in front of her: Everything that’s happened—the accident, the countdown clock, Ben’s sudden appearance in her life—points to the end of life as she knows it. As the clock ticks down, she realizes that if she wants to put a stop to the end of the world, she needs to uncover Ben’s secrets—and keep from falling…

This is one of the most awesome books I’ve ever read. And it’s huge, with so many things going on all the time throughout the story that there was never a point that dragged for me. As you’ll know if you’ve read the summary, Janelle dies and is brought back to life. What I didn’t expect was for it to happen right off the bat, but it did.

Janelle is also one of the most kick-ass characters I’ve ever met. Her dad is an FBI agent, so she knows more than an average girl her age would know about things going on with the FBI, and also how to protect herself. Eli gives her crap every time they meet, but Janelle just rolls with the punches and deals them right back with ease. I’d love to be like her. Her dad’s partner, Struz, was awesome as well. Kind of like an older brother to her, it was apparent that he was part of the family.

There are so many twists and turns in this story that I have to say I never saw what was coming. When it was revealed what the countdown was to, I initially was disappointed because I wanted the book to continue in the way it had, as an FBI action thriller. As I kept reading though the real cause for the countdown grew on me, and ended up making the story more awesome than it would’ve been had it gone the way I wanted it to.

All in all, if Goodreads had the option it would definitely get 6 starts out of 5. These characters felt so real, that when certain stuff went down with people she knew, I choked up. I felt connected to these people, and definitely cared about what happened to them. This is probably the best debut I’ve ever read and I seriously cannot wait to read more by Elizabeth Norris.

Review: Vanish by Sophie Jordan

Vanish by Sophie Jordan
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release date: September 6, 2011
Source: Publisher via NetGalley / Purchased
Series: Firelight #2
Purchase: Book Depository

An impossible romance.
Bitter rivalries.
Deadly choices.

To save the life of the boy she loves, Jacinda did the unthinkable: She betrayed the most closely-guarded secret of her kind. Now she must return to the protection of her pride knowing she might never see Will again—and worse, that because his mind has been shaded, Will’s memories of that fateful night and why she had to flee are gone.

Back home, Jacinda is greeted with hostility and must work to prove her loyalty for both her sake and her family’s. Among the few who will even talk to her are Cassian, the pride’s heir apparent who has always wanted her, and her sister, Tamra, who has been forever changed by a twist of fate. Jacinda knows that she should forget Will and move on—that if he managed to remember and keep his promise to find her, it would only endanger them both. Yet she clings to the hope that someday they will be together again. When the chance arrives to follow her heart, will she risk everything for love?

There are some bombs dropped in Vanish, making this even more thrilling than Firelight. Story-wise this was very good, with Tamra finally manifesting and finding her inner draki. Though I did think it was a little too convenient that she happened to be one of the most rare draki that was especially needed in their pride since Nidia won’t be around forever to fulfill her duty.

Cassian rocked in Vanish as well, which makes me only wish even more that Jacinda would choose him. Will proved to me that I don’t want Jacinda ending up with him based off some of his actions. I applauded her ability to choose one of the boys in Firelight, but in Vanish we’re served that indecision crap I was so happy to not have to deal with. Oh well. I was happy though that the setting for Vanish to place back among the pride. I felt like we didn’t get see enough of the people that Jacinda and Tamra left behind in Firelight. Provided a different atmosphere for the story, which I much preferred. Felt more like a fantasy book than a run of the mill paranormal book set in a cityscape.

While some questions were answered, we have even more that were introduced and not answered. Like what really happened to their father? And seriously, who are the Enkros? What do they want with the draki? Well we’ll definitely find out since Jacinda was stupid enough to pull something selfish and get somebody else caught by the Enkros. Book three, Hidden, is I assume going to be focused on the rescue mission that is hatched at the end of Vanish. I’m definitely looking forward to finally finding out everything.

Cover Reveal: Luminosity by Stephanie Thomas

LUMINOSITY (Luminosity, #1) by Stephanie Thomas (November 2012)
Entangled Publishing

My name is Beatrice. When I was born, I was blessed with the Sight. I was immediately removed from my parents and enrolled in the Institution. At the age of twelve, I had my first true vision, earning my raven’s wings. And when I turned seventeen, one of my visions came true. Things haven’t
been the same since.

The Institution depends on me to keep the City safe from our enemy, the Dreamcatchers, but I’m finding it harder to do while keeping a secret from everyone, including my best friend Gabe. It is a secret that could put us all in danger. A secret that could kill me and everyone close to me.

But the enemy has been coming to me in my dreams, and I think I’m falling in love with him. He says they’re coming. He says they’re angry. And I think I’ve already helped them win.

Paperback Available for Pre-Order from Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Luminosity-Stephanie-Thomas/dp/1620611279/ref=lh_ni_t

Add to your Goodreads TBR:
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13425149-luminosity

In My Mailbox {45}

 In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, showcasing what you received in the mail, bought, or borrowed from friends or the library for that week. So here’s what I got this week! All links lead you to Goodreads.

So I discovered something pretty awesome this week. I live in Pullman in Washington, and another town, Moscow in Idaho,  is only 7 miles away so I usually go over there once a week for the store called Hastings. That’s where I buy the majority of my books. There was an independent bookstore too, but it didn’t have the selection I liked so I rarely shopped there. Well it was bought by new owners a few months ago, and they renovated it and reopened on the 22nd. I went the very next day and BAM! Very nice and while they were still getting books out on their shelves I could already tell that they are going to have a FANTASTIC young adult selection. I was in book heaven.

Of course, I bought some books while I was there. Here’s my haul for the last two weeks. First, for review.

for review
This is actually my first unsolicited review copy, I was kind of excited about it!
bought
I’ve actually already read both of these, but I wanted to have them for when I get Bitterblue and reread them!
That is what I got throughout two weeks, what did you guys get? Let me know!