Saturday, October 8, 2011

New This Week!

New This Week! is a weekly feature in which I showcase some of the titles released in the Young Adult world throughout week. Each picture is linked to its respective Goodreads page, so if a cover appeals to you be sure to click on it to learn more about the book.

Week of: October 2nd - October 8th, 2011

This is a list of the books that come out through the week. This list is NOT in chronological order, but instead alphabetized. To see the books on the date that they are actually published, please be sure to "like" Missy's Reads & Reviews on Facebook.

Understanding YA & Its Sub-Genres

There are many sub-genres that make up the Young Adult genre and within those sub-genres, there are some that are similar yet vastly different. In order to learn more about YA and all of its greatly used sub-categories, I thought I would make a post on their definitions and notes on those that may be similar.

First, what is Young Adult?
Young Adult is a genre of fiction that is written for, published for, or marketed to adolescents and young adults from the ages of twelve to eighteen - though the actual audience age range varies greatly from this.

YA Sub-Genres:
· Apocalyptic: centers around the end of civilization through natural disasters, nuclear war, plague or other disasters.
· Chick Lit: light-hearted stories that deal with issues or modern womanhood, though typically not considered a sub-genre of romance because familial and friendly relationships are just as important as romantic ones.
· Contemporary: literature in a post World War II setting.
· Dystopian: set in a less than perfect world that explores political and social structures, often characterized by an authoritarian or totalitarian form of government.
· Fairy Tale: short narratives or retellings that involves folkloric characters like dwarves, elves, fairies, giants, gnomes, goblins and trolls, often including enchantments and/or magic.
· Fantasy: stories that use magic and other supernatural forms as the primary plot, theme and/or setting.
· GLBT: includes protagonist that is a non-heterosexual.
· Historical: set in the past, oftentimes during a significant period in time.
· Horror: story intended to scare or horrify the audience, typically including some type of supernatural element.
· Mystery: deals with a puzzle element and solution, OR may deal with crimes that are not always solved by the end of the story.
· Mythology: explains how the world and/or mankind came to be, typically with a god or supernatural hero as the main character.
· Paranormal: stories including experiences that are unusual and lack scientific explanation, and deals with things like supernatural creatures, clairvoyance, ESP, psychics, telepathy, and/or UFOs.
· Paranormal Romance: stories that focus on romantic relationships with the supernatural.
· Post-Apocalyptic: set in a world after apocalyptic disaster.
· Realistic Fiction: tells the story of a fictional character dealing with real life problems set in the present.
· Romance: story in which the conflict and climax center around the development of a romantic relationship.
· Science Fiction: deals with futuristic speculations in science and/or technology.
· Steampunk: refers to time in history where steam power was widely used - usually in Victorian era England - with elements of science fiction and/or fantasy.
· Supernatural: fiction about angels, demons, ghosts, shape shifters, vampires, werewolves and/or witches.
· Suspense: dramatic work that deals with uncertainty and anxiety toward a certain action's outcome, often depending on a lot of tension written throughout the story.
· Thriller: story with a fast pace, frequent action and a hero that must thwart plans of an enemy.
· Urban Fantasy: subset of fantasy with magical/supernatural elements in a real-world, urban setting.
· Utopian: story involving a perfect society/world.

Apocalyptic VS Post-Apocalyptic
The easiest way to remember the difference is this: one happens during (apocalyptic) and the other is always after (post-apocalyptic).

Chick Lit VS Romance
In romance, the story always revolves around the romantic relationship. In Chick Lit, there may be romance.. but it's not the main plot of the story.

Contemporary VS Realistic Fiction
While both deal with real life issues, realistic is present (now) where contemporary can take a setting anywhere from 1945 to present.

Dystopian VS Utopian
Utopian always deals with a perfect world, while Dystopian is quite the opposite.

Paranormal VS Supernatural
Supernatural always deals with JUST unearthly beings where as paranormal may deal with humans with extraordinary abilities.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Dragon's Pupils Review

Dragon's Pupils: The Sword Guest
by Martin Chu Shui
Released September 28, 2010

Half-Chinese, half-Australian, Liz is not interested in her father’s ancient Tao wisdom, or his cryptic tales. She is more concerned with environmental issues—particularly the plan to mine one of Australia’s great landmarks, Wave Rock. Her father’s latest gift, a Chinese calligraphy pen, seems set to take its place in her bottom drawer forever.

Then Wave Rock is blasted open by something more than a mining operation, and Liz finds that she must battle monsters from ancient times as well as creatures from other worlds, all intent on destroying Earth. She must call on all her powers, from both her Eastern heritage and her Western upbringing, to save her world. Her pen becomes her way into a new and magical world, and Liz discovers she has powers—and allies—that she never could have guessed.

An exciting, fast-paced tale that combines the wisdom of ancient tradition with the pace of a Kung Fu movie and brings them to life in contemporary Australia, this exciting tale takes the best of two cultures and blends them to open up a new world of adventure and mystery.
I have to say that this book surprised me quite a lot. Although it's written for a younger age group, the story itself was interesting enough to keep this 20-something entertained from the very beginning to the end.

The three main characters - Liz, Henry and Sue - are all fourteen years old. While in most instances these characters act their age very much so, there are some points where they seem a little more mature. Liz seems to be more driven. Sue, on the other hand, seemed a little less mature at the beginning then did a complete turn-around at the end. Honestly, I think she really popped out as a character - very redeeming. I think the only thing that confused me was how much freedom the kids had. They were gone from home all the time, yet there was no instance in which a parent said anything about it? Then again, that could just be a personal thought resonating from my own childhood... plus, this IS a fiction story - I just thought that specific aspect was a little... off.

That aside, the story itself was quite remarkable. There was tons of action thrown into the story, which I absolutely loved. The story moved with a decent flow at a good pace, which made for a pretty fast read. There was a lot of Chinese culture mixed into this book as well that made it all the more fun to read. This one for me was definitely more plot-driven, though the heavy character developments throughout cannot be ignored.

To be honest, I'm flip-flopping between a 3.5 and a 4.0 on this book. If I look at this critically enough, then I cannot overlook the fact that there were some things that may not have been explained enough and just kind of left you hanging. I think I would have been happier with a little more detail added into the story to explain things a little better. However, if I look at this as a YA book meant for younger readers (not older teens and up), then I can justify the dismissal of some details because when you're dealing with younger kids.. it's more about how to keep the ball rolling, and less about what color and weight the ball is - if you get my meaning.

So, I'm going to rate this how I see fair and give it 4 stars. Yes, there were some things I would have liked to see elaborated on a little more. BUT the story IS really good and has a lot in it to keep you interested from beginning to end. Sometimes, that's enough. It is in this case.

Rating: ★★★★✩
Source: Author

Buy The BookAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords
*Dragon's Pupils: The Sword Guest is actually free right now on B&N and SW!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tower of Parlen Min Review

Tower of Parlen Min
(The Narrow Escapes of Ves Asirin, #1)

by Matt Xell
Released July 23, 2010
Ves Asirin, an orphaned and introverted boy with a complicated memory loss disorder, wins a trip to the Tower of Parlen Min, the home of the wealthiest inventor of the time, Jacobius Trent. There, with 19 other children, he must compete in the Sword Challenge; a series of intricate puzzles and daring tasks, for a prize of $12 million. As dazzling, glorious and liberating as the Tower seems to be for him, Ves finds that it keeps a dark and secret history that he has been unknowingly connected to for over 150 years, a secret that will define his future and destiny ... if he can escape The Shadow; a powerful and seemingly unstoppable, supernatural serial killer.

This was yet another fun story that I had the pleasure of reviewing for the author. Honestly, when I saw the MC (Ves) was on the younger side, I thought I was going to be severely disappointed with the story. I was expecting a lot of immaturity and things that I would know longer be able to relate to because of the age gap. Fortunately, that was never the case with this story.

Sure, there was a few moments of immaturity but given the age and circumstances, I don't think that it crossed the line into a deal-breaker for not finishing the book. Ves was actually a fun character when some pretty unfortunate issues - like the whole memory loss thing. It was a little hard to see him have to cope with that and see how some of the others treated him at times because of it.. but he copes, and you begin to really get into him and the other characters. As a matter of fact, one of my favorite aspects of this book after I read it was the interactions and relationships between all of the kids.

The descriptions and mythology in this book are spectacular, sucking you into the story right away and never leaving room for a dull story. The writing is absolutely incredible, it's something unique that I haven't seen in a while in stories that I would like to see more of.

Overall, it was a great book. In some spots, the dialogue did seem to lag but it wasn't enough to distract you from the story. The ending will definitely leave you wanting more, but I guarantee you won't regret giving this story a chance.

Rating: ★★★★✩
Source: Author

Buy The Book
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dael and the Painted People Review

Dael and the Painted People
(Zan-Gah #3)
by Allan Richard Shickman
Earthshaker Books
Released August 30, 2011
A prehistoric adventure, this is the third of the Zan-Gah young adult books. When Dael, guilty and tormented, came to live with the tribe of the painted people, he longed for peace and restoration; but without knowing it, he made a powerful enemy. Luckily, Dael had friends-including a troop of crows-and his own mystical powers. The disturbed and violent hero learns from the Children of the Earth, and from his submissive wife, a new way of life that is peaceful and generous. Dael and the Painted People is a story of conflict, healing, hate, and love by the winner of the Eric Hoffer Award, a finalist for the ForeWord magazine Book of the Year Award, and the Mom's Choice Gold Seal for Excellence in a family-friendly book series.
With most series, an author usually starts with a main character and sticks with that main characters through the rest of the series. Sometimes, an author switches it up. In most cases, this hurts a book because most people want to stick with what they're used to. After all, you get emotionally invested in one character and you want to stick it through to the very bitter end with them. However, in some special instances, a switch is good. Dael and the Painted People is a very good example of this.

Dael is Zan-Gah's twin brother. While we've seen him throughout the series, we haven't had a really good taste of who he is and why he is the way he is. Sure, there's some explanation before.. but I think it's just better to experience it through him rather being told about him. The author doesn't take it easy on him either - he's gone through a lot in his past and he continues to go through even more. Before, we've seen a darker Dael that has built walls around himself keeping everyone out. In this, those walls come down for us and we get a better look at Dael. Honestly, I thought Zan-Gah was my favorite character, but after reading this.. I don't think I could choose between the brothers. They've both gone through so much, alike in so many ways yet so very different. Some of our other characters we like make appearances in this book, which is I was pleasantly surprised with.

This story was just as emotionally gripping as the ones before, with entrancing characters and plot. It was also well-written. As a matter of fact, it seems as though Shickman's writing gets better with every book, sucking you in more and more with each story told.

Rating: ★★★★★
Source: Publisher

Buy The Book
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

Monday, October 3, 2011

Joann I Martin Sowles Q&A {Giveaway!}

Joann I. Martin Sowles
· Website
· Facebook
· Twitter
· YouTube

· Laney (Brookehaven Vampires #1)
· Darkness (Brookehaven Vampires #2)

1. What made you get into writing?
It was partly Laney. She kept growing and getting stronger in my mind and at one point I just had to get her out. Plus, I seriously felt that I needed to turn my vampire addiction into something productive. I honestly didn’t believe I could write a book. I had wanted to for years but I just didn’t think I was capable of actually writing an entire novel, I finally convinced myself that I had to give it a try. I figured it would be better to try and fail than to regret never giving it a chance. And considering Laney was just a finalist in Dan Poynter’s Global eBook awards, I think I did alright with my first story.

2. There are many books about vampires out. How would you say that Laney stands apart from others in the same genre?
I think my biggest stand apart feature is that I tried to make my vampires as realistic and believable as possible. For example; my vampires can handle the sun, they are able to eat food and they can reproduce, just to name a few.

3. Unlike most YA books, your book is set in a college atmosphere instead of high school. What made you take this approach?
I think that was mostly due to what I have planned for the characters, being out on their own just fit with the story. Most of the characters are still rather inexperienced with life and we get to learn how to make it in this great big world with them.

4. Was the development of Laney and Oliver's attraction in the book something that you knew from the very beginning, or did it happen as you were writing the story?
I knew. I’ve always known what will happen in their relationship.

5. In your opinion, what is it about vampires and the supernatural that attracts such a large audience?
I think it’s that forbidden and unknown aspect about the supernatural that is so attractive to some. It’s exciting and scary at the same time and a lot of us crave that.

6. Aside from vampires, if you could be one supernatural creature what would you be? Why?
A dragon or a mermaid. Dragons are one of my absolute favorite creatures but I’m not sure I’d like to be one, maybe have one as a buddy instead. And mermaids are absolutely fascinating to me. They’re human-like, beautiful creatures of the sea and I imagine they have a hidden world from us down in that water.

Thank you for the interview and to all who have taken the time to stop by and read it. I invite all of you to visit my website where you can view the first 3 chapters of both Laney & Darkness.

Win An E-Book of Laney!

From now until Sunday, October 9, you will have the chance to win an e-book copy of Laney - courtesy of Joann. To enter, simply fill out the form here or below. If you're the winner, you will be notified via e-mail on Monday, October 10th and your information will be forwarded to the author.

Laney, by Joann I Martin Sowles

Laney (Brookehaven Vampires #1)
by Joann I. Martin Sowles
Brookehaven Publishing
Released October 30, 2010
In a small college town in Northern California, Laney Alexander leads a regular, uneventful life-that is, until the charming and alluring Oliver Knight enters her world. Who is this gorgeous and mysterious stranger? Or, rather, what is he? As Laney's sophomore year of college begins, so does an unbelievable adventure-including a love she didn't know she longed for. She soon learns that Oliver is not ordinary, nor is the rest of his family, including a sister who openly hates her and a brother who will stop at nothing for revenge. As she fights for her life, and Oliver's love, Laney discovers that the fictional world of vampires isn't so fictional after all. Nobody is safe, especially Laney, Oliver's most important priority, and he will stop at nothing to protect her. With her mortality at risk, and a commitment revealed that she, without a doubt, knows she wants, Laney's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn...
One of the first things that you notice about this book when you start reading it is just how easy it is to fall into. I liked Laney, who was a decently strong main character that was easy enough to relate to. Her friends were endearing and I like how they interacted with one another, though I think I actually would have liked to see them more in the book. What was not lacking in this story, however, was the chemistry and relationship between Laney and Oliver. Honestly? It's pretty sweet. I know I sometimes go a little crazy when I see a relationship move a little too fast and think things should build up better, but this isn't one of those cases. This... just worked. It was intriguing and thrilling, which is what made it so easy to fall into.

The mystery in the book was one of the things that kept me turning the pages so rapidly. You know what's going on, but then something else is thrown at you and you HAVE to know what's going to happen. Before you know it, you're finished with the book... anxiously checking Goodreads to see when the next book will be out. Along with the mystery is the supernatural lure of vampires and even werewolves. It's been done a thousand times, yes, but Sowles made sure to put her own spin on things in a way that keeps it interested.

All in all, this was a great read for paranormal lovers. I think the only thing that I would have liked to see more of was a little more plot. For the beginning of a series though, Laney definitely fit the bill of a great read. There is character building, star-crossed lovers, action, danger and mystery.. which is everything you'd want in a book, including one of those dreaded cliffhanger endings that keeps you up at night, trying to figure out what'll happen next.

Rating: ★★★★✩
Source: Author

Buy The Book
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Brookehaven Publishing | Smashwords

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Upcoming Blog Tour Needs Hosts!

If you follow on my Facebook, then you know that I made a reference to my 5-star review for Double Clutch and gave a hint about an announcement. Well, here's the announcement.

I'm going to be helping and a hosting a Double Clutch blog tour for author Liz Reinhardt. This book is just one of those simple romance stories that leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy after you read it. For a little more information on the book, you can go to its Goodreads page by clicking here.

I'm looking for blogs to host the following:
· Reviews for Double Clutch (Ebooks provided by Liz)
· Author Guest Posts
· Author Interviews

If you're interested in being involved in this tour, then please e-mail me at or click here to be taken to the contact form. Please note in the e-mail which feature(s) you're willing to host. I'm going to leave this up for the next week to see how many volunteers I get for participation, then I will start e-mailing and setting up everything for the tour to [hopefully] start in November.

Thanks, guys!

In My Mailbox

Hosted By: The Story Siren
Inspired By: Pop Culture Junkie

For Review

Cold Kiss, by Amy Garvey
When her boyfriend, Danny, is killed in a car accident, Wren can’t imagine living without him. Wild with grief, she uses the untamed powers she’s inherited to bring him back. But the Danny who returns is just a shell of the boy she once loved.

Wren has spent four months keeping Danny hidden, while her life slowly unravels around her. Then Gabriel DeMarnes transfers to her school and somehow, inexplicably, he can sense her secret. Wren finds herself drawn to Gabriel, who is so much more alive than the ghost of the boy she loved. But Wren can’t turn her back on Danny or the choice she made for him—and she realizes she must find a way to make things right, even if it means breaking her own heart.

Other Books For Review...


Lola and the Boy Next Door, by Stephanie Perkins
Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

Other Books Purchased...
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