Friday, December 30, 2011

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Genre: paranormal & mystery
Series and Book #: Hush, Hush Series #1
Pages: 391

A sacred oath, a fallen angel, a forbidden love

When Nora and Patch are forced together as lab partners, Nora would rather fall to her death than put up with his elusive answers to her questions, his teasing, and his infuriatingly handsome face and hypnotizing eyes. It seems Patch was put on earth just to drive her crazy.

But before long, Nora’s defenses start to break down as her curiosity about Patch heats up. Why does he always seem to be where she is and know exactly what she’s thinking? How does he know what to say to both attract and repulse her? And what is up with those V-shaped scars on his chiseled back?

As their connection grows stronger, Nora’s own life becomes increasingly fragile. Nora needs to decide: Is Patch the one who wants to do her harm or the one who will keep her safe? Has she fallen for one of the fallen?


I'm just going to dive right in and say: THIS IS TOTALLY NOT WHAT I EXPECTED. AT ALL. See, I thought that this would be one of those gushy-slash-dark-and-serious fallen angel stories, and, true there was some gushiness and some dark and seriousness, but it didn't consume the entire novel. Fitzpatrick made Nora this lovable, funny girl who was incredibly frustrated and scared of Patch, but who always searched for answers and followed what she thought was right.

Oh, goodness, Vee! The bright and spunky character who played with Nora's theories and always saw the brightness in a situation. Vee was a terrific character. She downplayed the drama of Patch's mysteriousness, and she kept Nora under a logical viewpoint. Nora is officially one of my favorite MC's. She's witty and she's collected but she's just nerdy enough so that she wasn't a character you couldn't relate to. And she was very wary of Patch right from the start. She didn't just suddenly fall head-over-heels in love with him.

I loved the inclusion of a murder mystery. This added spice to the novel and made it less of a stereotypical fallen angel book. The way Fitzpatrick set it up was subtle and she kept adding all these different people who could have been out to get Nora. In the end, I felt as if I was a bit shocked at who the murderer was, but I wasn't entirely flabbergasted by it.

Overall, if you're looking for a funny book with lots of suspense and an undercurrent of romance, this is definitely a book for you. It totally delivered a fresh view on fallen angels, one that hasn't been seen before. I can't wait to read Crescendo and Silence!

The Cover: Falling angel, slant of light from clouds, disappearing feathers... Literally, one of the most accurate I have ever seen. Also one of my favorites.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter

Genre: mystery & adventure
Series and Book #: Gallagher Girl Series #4
Pages: 265

When Cammie Morgan enrolled at the Gallagher Academy, she knew she was preparing for the dangerous life of a spy. What she didn’t know was that the serious, real-life danger would start as soon as her junior year. But that’s exactly what happened two months ago when she faced off against an ancient terrorist organization dead set on kidnapping her.

Now the danger follows her everywhere, and even Cammie “The Chameleon” can’t hide. When a terrifying encounter in London reveals that one of her most trusted allies is actually a rouge double agent, Cammie no longer knows if she can trust her classmates, her teachers—or even her own heart.


Spy action, some romantic scenes with Zach, and heart-pounding secrets, this book definitely tops off its series! With every page we learned something new, and with every chapter came another adrenaline-pumping, kick-butt scene!

It starts in London, where Bex and Cammie are ice skating, and Carter doesn't waste time pushing the novel onto the track she wants it to go on. The mystery starts right away when the CIA and MI6 are after Mr. Solomon, and no one knows why. Of course, Cammie devises all the plots on how to find out. Carter added lots of action scenes in this novel, which was such a rush! I missed all the spy-ness and CoveOps missions in Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover!

Ah, Zach. We see so much more of him in this novel which was especially nice considering him and Cammie had this constant love-hate relationship. He was so much more vulnerable, too, which was a good and bad thing. I still think that Zach's incredibly hot with the whole mysterio get-up, but he was so sweet when he was with Cammie. Also, I got the sense that Cammie was looked at as a more fragile character, and the best part of her was that she went out of her way to show people that she was still "The Chameleon".

Overall, an excellent novel picking up from where Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover left off. The ending had a cliff-hanger, and I got the sense that it was the end of the series. But that's not true at all! I looked on Ally's website and saw that she has a Gallagher Girl #5 coming soon! YAY for that! Can't wait for the next one and all the adventures that Cammie gets into.

The Cover: Ooh, so covert! Love how the model's hiding her face, but still has a smile.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter

Genre: mystery & adventure
Series and Book #: Gallagher Girl Series #3
Pages: 263

When Cammie “The Chameleon” Morgan visits her roommate Macey in Boston, she thinks she’s in for an exciting end to her summer break. After all, she’s there to watch Macey’s father accept the nomination for vice president of the United States. But when you go to the world’s best school (for spies), “exciting” and “deadly” are never far apart. Cammie and Macey soon find themselves trapped in a kidnappers’ plot, with only their espionage skills to save them.

As her junior year begins, Cammie can’t shake the memory of what happened in Boston, and even the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women doesn’t feel like the safe haven it once did. Shocking secrets and old flames seem to lurk around every one of the mansion’s corners as Cammie and her friends struggle to answer the questions Who is after Macey? And how can the Gallagher Girls keep her safe?

Soon Cammie is joining Bex and Liz as Macey’s private security team on the campaign trail. The girls must use their spy training at every turn as the stakes are raised, and Cammie gets closer to the shocking truth….


Although I was a bit sloppy in remembering who the characters were (I haven't read the books in, like, two years) most of it came back to me as Cammie brought up her the mysterious Zach, and the previous operations (althought they'd been illegal) she and her friends had gotten into.

I felt as if this were a more somber novel of the four in the series. There's more doubt in Cammie's mind, like she's not as good as she thought she was. When Macey's almost kidnapped, there's also her sudden deflation. Macey slips into an unrecognizable character and as Cammie tries to find her friend again, she finds out more about the life of a spy than she'd like.

Of course, the entire Gallagher Gang was back, and Bex and Liz were just as funny and full of energy as I remembered! The operations that they slipped into (including sneaking out of Gallagher Academy more than once) and hiding from the people who they looked up to were all as reckless and fast-paced as I liked. I felt as if I was there with them, and I saw everything they did. This is one of the things I love about Carter's writing: she describes everything with immense detail!

Overall, such a great installment in the series. I thought it was heavier than the previous novels, and I wish that it had been a bit less dark and more carefree. But Carter added enough humor and adventure that it wasn't a total drag of a book. :) The title of the book was correct in saying that you should never judge a girl by her cover. Masks were the theme of this novel, and there was no doubt that they were very good at showing people what they wanted to see.

The Cover: Cute! Gosh, I love these covers. They've always been some of my favorites!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Releases: Magic of the Moonlight and Kiss, Crush, Collide

Magic of the Moonlight (Full Moon #2) by Ellen Schreiber

Beware of a bite under a full moon . . . It will complicate your love life.

Celeste has more to worry about than a secret romance with a hot guy from the wrong side of town. That guy, Brandon, is a werewolf. With gossip and hostility swirling at school, it’s time to find a cure for his nocturnal condition, and perhaps the one person who can help is his scientist father. But what if a “cure” makes things worse and Brandon becomes a werewolf full time?

To keep Brandon’s secret safe, Celeste must hide her relationship with him from her best friends, but with the Moonlight Ball approaching, she must make a choice. Her dream is to go with her one true love—Brandon. But once the sun goes down, the clouds separate, and the full moon appears, could she really walk into the dance on the arm of a werewolf?

Kiss, Crush, Collide by Christina Meredith

Kiss: What Leah did—only she really shouldn'’t have—one hot night at a country club party.

Crush: What Leah has—only she really shouldn’'t have—on the guy with the green eyes, the guy who is not her perfect boyfriend, the guy who does not fit in her picture-perfect life, the guy her sisters will only mock and her mother will never approve of. Not in a million years.

Collide: What happens when everything you always thought you wanted—having cool friends, being class valedictorian and homecoming queen—runs smack into everything it turns out you really do want.

Kiss. Crush. Collide.

 For Leah and Porter, summer is only the beginning.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Missed Releases

December 8

Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey

Lenzi hears voices and has visions - gravestones, floods, a boy with steel gray eyes. Her boyfriend, Zak, can't help, and everything keeps getting louder and more intense. Then Lenzi meets Alden, the boy from her dreams, who reveals that she's a reincarnated Speaker - someone who can talk to and help lost souls - and that he has been her Protector for centuries.

Now Lenzi must choose between her life with Zak and the life she is destined to lead with Alden. But time is running out: a malevolent spirit is out to destroy Lenzi, and he will kill her if she doesn't make a decision soon.

December 20

Still Waters by Emma Carlson Berne

Hannah can't wait to sneak off for a romantic weekend with her boyfriend, Colin. He’s leaving for college soon, and Hannah wants their trip to the lake house to be one they’ll never forget.

But once Hannah and Colin get there, things start to seem a They can't find the town on any map. The house they are staying in looks as if someone's been living there, even though it's been deserted for years. And Colin doesn’t seem quite himself. As he grows more unstable, Hannah worries about Colin’s dark side, and her own safety.

Nothing is as perfect as it seems, and what lies beneath may haunt her forever.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays everyone! I wish you all safe travels and the blessings of the season!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

Genre: science fiction, folklore
Series and Book #: Darkness Rising #1
Pages: 359

Sixteen-year-old Maya is just an ordinary teen in an ordinary town. Sure, she doesn’t know much about her background—the only thing she really has to cling to is an odd paw print birthmark on her hip—but she never really put much thought into who her parents were or how she ended up with her adopted parents in the tiny medical-research community on Vancouver Island.

Until now.

Strange things have been happening in this claustrophobic town—from the mountain lions that have been approaching Maya to her best friend’s hidden talent for “feeling” out people and situations to the sexy new bad boy who makes Maya feel…different. Combine that with a few unexplained deaths and a mystery involving Maya’s biological parents and it’s easy to suspect that this town might have more than its share of skeletons in its closet.


Just like in the Darkest Powers Trilogy, Kelley Armstrong's made another strong trilogy that I'm so excited for! My favorite part of this novel was the inclusion of Native American folklore. Obviously Armstrong did her research, because the myths and the beliefs of Maya's Native background were in depth and descriptive.

Armstrong did an excellent job of making the secluded area of Salmon Creek come alive. The small town idea was well played. Maya described the place as having nothing nearby, and there was literally nothing. A couple small stores and one restaurant with the nearest town one hour away. The wilderness then became a very strong point of the book, and this is where Maya's rising "special talents" were excellently shown.

I thought the cues that Armstrong placed throughout the novel suggesting who Maya was kind of ruined the climax. Maya was smart and she pieced together everything just as I did. So when Rafe (the sexy bad boy described above) tells who she is and what that means, she doesn't freak out and she doesn't doubt it. She totally accepts it and this, I think, made the novel less about what Maya was and more about where she came from. As with the Darkest Powers Trilogy, medical research was a key part of this novel. I would have preferred if it was more supernatural and less of a scientific reason for everything.

Overall, another strong novel with another strong cast of characters. This book came off better than The Summoning. I'm more animated and excited for the next novel, waiting for Maya's upcoming Shift and her sparking romance with Rafe. The Calling's calling me!

The Cover: like the covers of the Darkest Powers, I don't really get the significance of the earring. But the darkness and the model definitely grab my attention.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

Genre: post-apocalyptic, science fiction
Series and Book #: Forest of Hands and Teeth #2
Pages: 404

Gabry lives a quiet life, secure in her town next to the sea and behind the Barrier. She’s content to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. Home is all she’s ever known, and all she needs for happiness.

But life after the Return is never safe, and there are threats even the Barrier can’t hold back.

Gabry’s mother thought she left her secrets behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, but like the dead in their world, secrets don’t stay buried. And now, Gabry’s world is crumbling.

One night beyond the Barrier…

One boy Gabry’s known forever and one veiled in mystery…

One reckless moment, and half of Gabry’s generation is dead, the other half imprisoned.

Gabry knows only one thing: if she is to have any hope of a future, she must face the forest of her mother’s past.


"Maybe, though, it's time we learned that we don't have to live within the boundaries we set up. Maybe we have to learn to push those barriers. To reclaim some of what was lost. And to build a new world."
-The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan, pg 404

I really liked the extension of Mary's life through her daughter's. Gabry's view of the world is much different than her mother's. It's less cold and less curious. Gabry is perfectly happy to live in Vista with the people and the world she's known forever, whereas Mary still yearns for the adventure and the secrets that she left behind in the Forest. I thought Gabry wasn't quite as strong as her mother, which bugged me. She wasn't as sure and she was more clingy to what was normal. I thought Mary was a better character, too, because I saw a more personal part of her. Ryan let us see Mary though her daughter's eyes, and it was definitely different than who Mary had been in The Forest of Hands and Teeth.

Again, there were two boys who Gabry loved in this novel. But unlike Forest, Gabry had only one love at one time and wasn't switching her feelings on and off like Mary. I liked this better, because I felt it made the romantic moments more meaningful.

The scenes in the Forest were more dragged out with less adventure and less description than in The Forest of Hands and Teeth. It was mostly keeping everyone going, trying to stop the inevitable, searching for Gabry's mother and any surviving villages. There was less description from Gabry's point of view. In The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Ryan described how claustrophobic the moans had been to Mary, and how her senses were full of the undead. But to Gabry, they were just an incessant noise that she wasn't used to.

Overall, though I preferred The Forest of Hands and Teeth, this novel was very thought-provoking. Gabry analyzes herself more than Mary did and through this I got a deeper connection to her thoughts. Gabry has a deeper fear of the Mudo (aka Unconsecrated) than her mother did. She's deeply affected by them because so many of her friends and loved ones have gone to the Mudo. Unlike Mary's selfishness and drive to get to the ocean, Gabry worries about who the Mudo are. Are they still human? Ryan opens more questions, and I can't wait to read more in The Dark and Hollow Places!

The Cover: Just like it's predecessor, very accurate. Love it!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Happy Blogoversary!

On this day one year ago, Life by a Letter was born! Just looking at how much it has changed in the past six months compared to one year is unbelievable, and I can't believe how far its gone. As you can see on top, the blog's dressed up for the occasion!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Release: Deadly Little Voices by Laurie Faria Stolarz

High school junior Camelia thought her powers of psychometry only gave her the ability to sense the future through touch. But now she’s started to hear voices. Mean voices. Berating her, telling her how ugly she is, and that she’d be better off dead. It’s a troubling development that has Camelia terrified for her mental stability, especially since her deranged aunt with a suicidal history has just moved into the family house. More torturing, ex-boyfriend Ben, who has similar psychometric abilities, has been spending more time with their classmate Alejandra.

With the line between right and wrong fraying, Camelia turns to pottery to get a grasp on her emotions. She begins sculpting a beautiful figure skater, only to receive frightening premonitions that someone’s in danger. But who is the victim? And how can Camelia help them when she is on the brink of losing her own sanity?


I've yet to read this series, but from what I've heard, it's pretty good. From what I've read, it seems like one of those books that after the first, the rest just goes downhill. Am I right? Or wrong?

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Genre: post-apocalyptic, science fiction
Series and Book #: Forest of Hands and Teeth #1
Pages: 308

In Mary’s world, there are simple truths.

The Sisterhood always knows best.

The Guardians will protect and serve.

The Unconsecrated with never relent.

And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village. The fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

But slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power. And, when the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness.

Now she must choose between her village and her future, between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded by so much death?


Such a dark, hopeful novel. The world Mary lives in is surrounded by so much death that her society is consumed by it. To them, it is only survive and live, never love or hope or fantasize.

Mary is one of my favorite characters. She's so hopeful when the world around her crumbles, and she clings to her one dream of seeing the ocean before she dies. Her friends fuel her need to see life and worlds that are not touched by the gruesome death of her neighbors and loved ones. And so when her village falls, she keeps believing in the ocean and in life and that is what keeps her going even as her friends fall, and her heart is crushed and swelled and crushed again. She's relentless. She's so strong and full of life.

Carrie writes the village and its principles so well. She makes it seem as dismal and uneventful as Mary sees it. She transitions between normal life, to chaos, into Mary's miserable existence in the Cathedral, to the Forest, with so much ease that you barely notice. Her vocabulary also expresses the darkness and disaster and the suffocating death that Mary is surrounded by. Just a wonderfully written novel.

Overall, even though this novel is about a zombie apocalypse, it doesn't feel like one. I almost thought it was a dystopian novel because it's placed in the future after the world as we know it has ended by what seems an infection that has overtaken the world's dead population. The anguish and optimism all melt into a delectable read. Carrie has done a beautiful and creative job of building paradise out of disease and destruction.

The Cover: Reflects the novel wonderfully. Loved this cover, loved the portrayal of Mary, loved the darkness in the woods.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

In My Mailbox (10): November

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren where we share what books we've bought, received, or borrowed over the last week or, in my case, month. I don't get enough books over the week to cover a weekly IMM but I always do one every month. Here's October's!  (Some of these books I've already read, so if you click on the links they should bring you to the review)

Library Finds:

The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
Don't Judge a Girl by her Cover by Ally Carter
Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter
The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong