Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays!

I can't believe that Christmas is here already! This year has completely flown by in my opinion, but it has been filled with great friends and great books. And I don't know about you, but even though my to-read pile is overflowing, there are still a few books I'm hoping to see under the tree :)

In light of the season, I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has supported this blog in any way. Day after day I am thankful for the people I have met through the blogging community. And with that being said, I wish everyone a very merry Christmas! However you are spending your holiday season, I hope that you enjoy it!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Opening Lines (6)

Opening Lines is a new feature here on Portrait of a Book that showcases the first lines of recent and/or upcoming releases. If you're looking for your next read, let these first lines help you decide!

By: Morgan Rhodes
Published By: Razorbill
Release Date: Dec. 11, 2012
Buy the Book: Amazon

In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power--brutally transforming their subjects' lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:

Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.

Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished--and finds himself the leader of a people's revolution centuries in the making.

Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past--and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword...

The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

"Falling Kingdoms will gut you emotionally. It will make you ache, cry, and beg for the sequel as you turn the last page. I absolutely loved it."--Julie Kagawa, New York Times bestselling author of The Iron Queen

"This triple-layered tale of bloodshed, heartbreak, and tangled court intrigue kept me turning pages very late into the night."--Lesley Livingston, award-winning author of Wondrous Strange

"She'd never killed before."

By: Laura Buzo
Published By: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: Dec. 11, 2012
Buy the Book: Amazon

Love is awkward, Amelia should know.

From the moment she sets eyes on Chris, she is a goner. Lost. Sunk. Head over heels infatuated with him. It's problematic, since Chris, 21, is a sophisticated university student, while Amelia, is 15.

Amelia isn't stupid. She knows it's not gonna happen. So she plays it cool around Chris—at least, as cool as she can. Working checkout together at the local supermarket, they strike up a friendship: swapping life stories, bantering about everything from classic books to B movies, and cataloging the many injustices of growing up. As time goes on, Amelia's crush doesn't seem so one-sided anymore. But if Chris likes her back, what then? Can two people in such different places in life really be together?

Through a year of befuddling firsts—first love, first job, first party, and first hangover—debut author Laura Buzo shows how the things that break your heart can still crack you up.

"'I'm writing a play,' says Chris, leaning over the counter of my cash register."

By: Jessica Day George
Published By: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
Release Date: Dec. 11, 2012
Buy the Book: Amazon

When Petunia, the youngest of King Gregor's twelve dancing daughters, is invited to visit an elderly friend in the neighboring country of Westfalin, she welcomes the change of scenery. But in order to reach Westfalin, Petunia must pass through a forest where strange two-legged wolves are rumored to exist. Wolves intent on redistributing the wealth of the noble citizens who have entered their territory. But the bandit-wolves prove more rakishly handsome than truly dangerous, and it's not until Petunia reaches her destination that she realizes the kindly grandmother she has been summoned to visit is really an enemy bent on restoring an age-old curse. The stories of Red Riding Hood and Robin Hood get a twist as Petunia and her many sisters take on bandits, grannies, and the new King Under Stone to end their family curse once and for all.

"Petunia was knitting some fingerless gloves to match her new red velvet cloak when the Wolves of the Westfalian Woods attacked."

By: Alexandra Bracken
Published By: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: Dec. 18, 2012
Buy the Book: Amazon

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

"When the White Noise went off, we were in the Garden, pulling weeds."

Do any of these opening lines grab your attention? What are your favorite first lines that you've read lately?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Review: We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han

By: Jenny Han
Published By: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Release Date: April 26, 2011
Series: Summer (#3)
Pages: 291
Genre: Contemporary
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: Bought
Buy the Book: Amazon

Note: This is the third book in the Summer trilogy, following The Summer I Turned Pretty and It's Not Summer Without You. The following summary may contain spoilers.

Goodreads Summary: It's been two years since Conrad told Belly to go with Jeremiah. She and Jeremiah have been inseparable ever since, even attending the same college-- only, their relationship hasn't exactly been the happily ever after Belly had hoped it would be. And when Jeremiah makes the worst mistake a boy can make, Belly is forced to question what she thought was true love. Does she really have a future with Jeremiah? Has she ever gotten over Conrad? It's time for Belly to decide, once and for all, who has her heart forever.

I really enjoyed the first two books in the Summer trilogy, finding them to be much more than just lighthearted, quick summer reads. Because of that, I was excited to read this book and see how everything ended. However, as I was reading it, I found myself somewhat disappointed in the characters and their choices.

Even though Belly always thought she liked Conrad, she's now dating Jeremiah, and she knows they're good together. But then something happens that changes everything. Suddenly Belly is questioning what she thought she knew and making choices that she knows will affect the rest of her life. And yet she still has to make the biggest choice of all - will she stay with Jeremiah, or is she really in love with Conrad?

It's hard to say much about this book without risking spoilers. However, I felt that this book differed greatly from the other two. Gone were the sweet romance and the deeper emotions that tugged on your heartstrings. In this book, I felt as though there was a disconnect with both Belly and Jeremiah, and even though the book was still a quick read, I found myself mostly wanting to finish so that I could know who Belly ended up with. That being said, Conrad redeemed himself in this book after the previous two. I really enjoyed the chapters from his point of view and felt that he finally became less of an enigma. Finally, the last few chapters of this book did seem to recapture the emotional impact of the other two books and left me with a smile.

For most of the trilogy I did enjoy Jenny Han's writing style, and I will look forward to reading more from her in the future. I know that I'm in the minority for not loving the last book of this trilogy, so here are several reviews from people who did:

Reading Lark
Katie's Book Blog
Confessions of a Bookaholic

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"Waiting on" Wednesday

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's selection is:

By: Miriam Forster
Published By: Harper Teen
Release Date: Feb. 5, 2013
Preorder the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: An exotic treat set in an entirely original, fantastical world brimming with deadly mystery, forbidden romance, and heart-stopping adventure.

Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a child. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. Nisha makes her way as Matron’s assistant, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city’s handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die.

Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls’ deaths. But by getting involved, Nisha jeopardizes not only her own future in the City of a Thousand Dolls—but her own life.

Why it's wanted:

This sounds like a unique story, and I'm intrigued by the idea of the girls training to become assassins. I want to see how things play out!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (64)

I'm very excited to be one of the many blogs participating in Teaser Tuesdays! TT is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. To participate:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
(Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"But I wasn’t okay. Even as my eyes closed and I tried to drift back toward sleep, a far more disturbing thought crossed my mind. If the dream was real, then an innocent girl had just died, and somewhere out in the darkness of the night, a true monster prowled the nearby forest."

p. 78 (PDF) from THE DARK HEROINE by Abigail Gibbs

Please share your teasers - post them or link to your blog!

Monday, December 17, 2012

#BIR2012 Recap

#BIR2012 officially ended on Saturday,but the giveaways are still open! If you missed any of the posts, here's your chance to see them:

In Honor by Jessi Kirby

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock

Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Wings of the Wicked by Courtney Allison Moulton

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Thank you to all of the authors, publishers, and bloggers who make this event possible year after year. I enjoyed sharing some of my favorite books of the year with you, and I hope you enjoyed learning more about some of your favorite books or found new books to add to your to-read lists. Here's to another great year of books in 2013!

Friday, December 14, 2012

#BIR2012: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined. (From Goodreads)

"She practically threw the rapier into place, and drew the hunting knives without hesitation.

My dear old friends.

A wicked smile spread across her face."

Throne of Glass has all the best elements of fantasy - sword fights, a strong heroine, and a love interest with definite potential. Everything about this book makes it absorbing and engrossing. You can read my full review here.


I am very excited to offer one copy of THRONE OF GLASS for a giveaway! This book is being shared with Mundie Moms, so if you have entered there you do not need to enter here as well.

This contest is open to residents of the U.S. only. Must be 13 to enter. Please see my Contest Policy for more information.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Today the Best I've Read blog is featuring BLOODROSE and RIFT by Andrea Cremer and OBSIDIAN, ONYX, PURE, and DEITY by Jennifer L. Armentrout! Please click here to learn more about these books and authors!

#BIR2012: Wings of the Wicked by Courtney Allison Moulton

WINGS OF THE WICKED by Courtney Allison Moulton

Life as the Preliator is harder than Ellie ever imagined.
Balancing real life with the responsibility of being Heaven’s warrior is a challenge for Ellie. Her relationship with Will has become all business, though they both long for each other. And now that the secret of who she really is has come out, so have Hell’s strongest reapers. Grown bold and more vicious, the demonic threaten her in the light of day and stalk her in the night.

She’s been warned.
Cadan, a demonic reaper, comes to her with information about Bastian’s new plan to destroy Ellie’s soul and use an ancient relic to wake all the souls of the damned and unleash them upon humanity. As she fights to stay ahead of Bastian’s schemes , the revelations about those closest to her awaken a dark power within Ellie that threatens to destroy everything—including herself.

She’ll be betrayed.
Treachery comes even from those whom she loves, and Ellie is broken by the deaths of those who stood beside her in this Heavenly war. Still, she must find a way to save the world, herself, and her love for Will. If she fails, there will be hell to pay. (From Goodreads)

You can read my review here.


I'm very excited to have Courtney Allison Moulton here today as a feature for Best I've Read 2012. Wings of the Wicked is the second book in the Angelfire trilogy; it is full of action and romance and everything a sequel should be. Please take a few minutes to learn more about this amazing author!

Writing any book but especially a sequel can be a monumental task. Below are Courtney's thoughts on writing WINGS OF THE WICKED.

In 2008, I wrote Angelfire for fun during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and when it sold to Katherine Tegen Books at HarperCollins and I suddenly had a sequel to write, I had to take my writing to the next level. I was 23 and drafting Wings of the Wicked helped me to grow up. This manuscript was challenging not only in its twist-riddled plot, but its emotional arc for every single character had so much scope. More than anything, it was a journey for me and my characters. It was an experience.

When you’re writing a book, you’re also acting for your characters and it’s a battle to dig into their heads and become them so that you can accurately portray their reactions and validate their motivations. You as the writer make them suffer and suffer with them. There were many moments in which I grew so close to my characters through their soaring highs and devastating lows that I in turn felt like I was riding my own emotional rollercoaster. The story was so packed full of baseball-bat-to-the-face twists and revelations that I could never take a break from being in my characters’ heads. It was relentless and merciless, and I wanted my readers to experience this flight the way I did. I wanted them to feel Ellie’s and Will’s pain as I did. It nearly destroyed my sanity to ensure that.

I’ve met a lot of authors who talk about how difficult the second book in their trilogy is to write. They speak of “the middle” and how they know the beginning and the ending of their trilogy, but come to a screeching halt during the middle book. Wings of the Wicked’s story was so strong to me, so unlike what I often hear authors say about their second books. The first draft was 136,000 words. I think my editor may have had a minor aneurism when I turned it in. We cut—and cut and added and cut and cut—that draft down to a 121,000 word final draft. There was so much story to tell and to this day, I mourn some plot threads that readers will never experience because there just wasn’t enough room in the trilogy for it all. I should have written four or five books to get it all right. But a first series is much like a first draft. It’s a first try. It’s a learning experience. I feel so much more like a competent author and am ready to just kill it with my next series.

This book is so dear to me. I love to pull a copy from my shelf and to re-read chapters, to relive the experience all over again. Wings of the Wicked is by far the darkest of the Angelfire trilogy, though perhaps not as dark as the prequel novella A Dance with Darkness which is about Madeleine’s and Bastian’s affair. The final book Shadows in the Silence has its share of brutal moments, but much of it is a very fun globe-trotting adventure like an Indiana Jones movie. Even though Wings of the Wicked was so difficult for me to write emotionally, I’ll always be grateful for the journey. That manuscript taught me how to be a writer.


Harper Teen, the publisher of WINGS OF THE WICKED, has donated several great books that are being given away in several prize packs. You don't want to miss out on a chance to win these titles!

This contest is open to residents of the U.S. only. Must be 13 to enter. Please see my Contest Policy for more information.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Today the Best I've Read blog is featuring BLOODROSE and RIFT by Andrea Cremer and OBSIDIAN, ONXY, PURE, and DEITY by Jennifer L. Armentrout! Please click here to learn more about these books and authors!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

#BIR2012: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund


It's been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family's estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot's estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth--an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret--one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she's faced with a choice: cling to what she's been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she's ever loved, even if she's lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion, "For Darkness Shows the Stars" is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it. (From Goodreads)

"She lifted the shade and bathed the room in solver. Moonlight glinted off the glass and metal instruments on her desk and vanished into the eaves. Moonlight skimmed over the floorboards and made Nero's eyes a shimmering green. It wasn't enough to work by. It wasn't enough to read by. But who needed to read? She knew them by heart.

All around her, strung from the ceiling and wafting softly in the draft, Kai's paper gliders glowed in the moonlight like pale spring shoots bursting from the soil."

For Darkness Shows the Stars is a reinvention of Jane Austen's Persuasion. Fans of Austen will love this book, but non-fans will appreciate it as well. It may be science fiction, but at its heart it is still a wonderful love story. You can read my full review here.


Harper Teen, the publisher of FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS, has donated several great books that are being given away in several prize packs. You don't want to miss out on a chance to win these titles!

This contest is open to residents of the U.S. only. Must be 13 to enter. Please see my Contest Policy for more information.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Today the Best I've Read blog is featuring SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo and THE IMMORTAL RULES and THE LOST PRINCE by Julie Kagawa! Please click here to learn more about these books and authors!

#BIR2012: Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH by Bethany Griffin

Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population, and those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery makeup . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club--in the depths of her own despair--Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club, and Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find not just something to live for, but something to fight for--no matter what it costs her. (From Goodreads)

You can read my review here.


I'm very excited to have Bethany Griffin here today as a feature for Best I've Read 2012. Masque of the Red Death is full of mystery and intrigue, and it is definitely a book that left me eager to read more. Please take a few minutes to learn more about this amazing author!

If this were Twitter, how would you pitch MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH in 140 characters or less?

I usually just say a Steampunk/post apocalyptic retelling of Poe's Masque of the Red Death, because that covers the historical aspect (even though it isn't strictly steampunk). IDK, I guess it gets the idea across?

If MASQUE OF THE READ DEATH were made into a movie, who would you want to play Araby, Will, and Everett?

This is a question I'm really bad at, because I don't really keep track of young actors and actresses.

MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH is an expansion of Poe's short story by the same name. What was this expansion process like?

Well, I obviously read his version quite a few times, and then I used Prince Prospero and the plague in my version, so I basically set my story within his world. I tried to keep the tone dark and gothic and claustrophobic, and hopefully something that appeals to Poe fans (since I'm a huge Poe fan myself). I was very aware of the major theme of Poe's story, that Death comes for all of us, regardless of social status, and I tried to work that dichotomy between rich and poor into the story, and in the end it became a rather large part of the story. Once the framework of the story was in place, I didn't refer back to Poe's version very often. Though I did consult it several times for the masquerade ball in book 2!

Do you have other favorite stories or poems by Poe?

The Fall of the House of Usher is my absolute favorite. And I love The Raven.

If you could have any talent or skill, what would you choose?

Besides writing? Because that's the one that I've chosen to focus on! I'd love to be more artistic, to be able to really draw or paint. Unfortunately I have no talent in that area, though my husband and both of my kids are very artistic. I love all sorts of art, but I'm simply not good at creating it, and sometime I feel that affects my writing, that I have to work really hard at creating visuals. It's worth the work, though. :)

What can you tell us about DANCE OF THE RED DEATH?

Well, it features a masked ball. You'll know who Araby ends up with well before the end...it's much more fast paced that Masque, at least I feel it is, with Araby being pushed to think for herself and make her own decisions.


Harper Teen, the publisher of MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, has donated several great books that are being given away in several prize packs. You don't want to miss out on a chance to win these titles!

This contest is open to residents of the U.S. only. Must be 13 to enter. Please see my Contest Policy for more information.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Today the Best I've Read blog is featuring SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo and THE IMMORTAL RULES and THE LOST PRINCE by Julie Kagawa! Please click here to learn more about these books and authors!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

#BIR2012: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

WANDERLOVE by Kirsten Hubbard

It all begins with a stupid question:

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward.

But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.

Kirsten Hubbard lends her artistry to this ultimate backpacker novel, weaving her drawings into the text. Her career as a travel writer and her experiences as a real-life vagabond backpacking Central America are deeply seeded in this inspiring story. (From Goodreads)

"'No matter what he says, that's Wanderlove,' she tells me. 'That's how he lives it. Isn't that right, Rowan? The only way to escape the past is to keep moving forward.'"

Wanderlove is an incredibly vivid book that makes you feel as though you're truly living the story instead of just reading it. From the breathtaking descriptions of the places Bria visits to the emotional journey she takes, this book was completely captivating. You can read my full review here.


I am very excited to offer one copy of WANDERLOVE for a giveaway!

This contest is open internationally as long as The Book Depository ships to your country. Must be 13 to enter. Please see my Contest Policy for more information.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Today the Best I've Read blog is featuring GRAVE MERCY by R.L. LaFevers and TAKE A BOW by Elizabeth Eulberg! Please click here to learn more about these books and authors!

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