Monday, September 8, 2014

The First Three Wishes Are Free, But If You Need a Fourth...

This review is for those who have read or are familiar with the previous book, The Art of Wishing, or don't mind knowing some spoilers for it. The Fourth Wish, however, will remain spoiler-free.

The Fourth Wish
~The Fourth Wish~
The Art of Wishing
Book 2

By Lindsay Ribar
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

Here's what Margo McKenna knows about genies:

She's seen Aladdin more times than she can count; she's made three wishes on a magic ring; she's even fallen head over heels in love with Oliver, the cute genie whose life she saved by fighting off his archenemy. But none of this prepared her for the shock of becoming a genie herself.

At a time when she's trying to figure out who she wants to be, Margo is forced to become whomever her master wants. Everything she's taken for granted—graduating high school, going to college, performing in the school musical, even being a girl—is called into question. But she's also coming into a power she never imagined she'd have.

How will Margo reconcile who she is with what she's becoming? And where will she and Oliver stand when she's done?

After that non-ending from the last book, I was excited to dive into this one. After all, we had a new genie on the loose and I had no clue where this book was going to take her, even after watching a slightly spoilery interview with the author. So, I guess if you're looking for a new big bad to show up and the genies having to work their magic to save the world, you're going to be kinda disappointed. But if you're interested in seeing how a teen deals with a life-changing, magical decision, then you'll probably want to continue reading. I mentioned the last book had no dénouement *. Well, get ready for 350 pages of dénouement, because it's time to deal with the consequences!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

I Can't Just Pull Wishes Out of Thin Air, You Know

The Art of Wishing
~The Art of Wishing~
The Art of Wishing
Book 1

By Lindsay Ribar
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

Margo McKenna has a plan for just about everything, from landing the lead in her high school play to getting into a good college. So when she finds herself in possession of a genie's ring and the chance to make three wishes, she doesn't know what to do. Why should she put her life into someone else's hands?

But Oliver is more than just a genie—he's also a sophomore at Margo's high school, and he's on the run from a murderer. As he and Margo grow closer, she discovers that it will take more than three wishes to save him.

A whole lot more.

Confession time. The sole reason I picked up this book was to read it for/with Booze Your Own Adventure's book club. A few weeks ago they mentioned that they were going to talk with author Lindsay Ribar (SPOILERS INCLUDED) about her debut, The Art of Wishing, and recently released sequel, The Fourth Wish. And, while I'm a bit late to the party, I figured I might as well dig in and see what this YA paranormal romance genie series had.

I kinda wish I had read this before Robin Williams' passing.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Not Just A Wild Wolf, But A Werewolf

Werewolf Rising
~Werewolf Rising~
By R.L. LaFevers
Amazon ~ Powell's

Luc Grayson is just like any other boy. He's about to turn thirteen and his body is changing. All too suddenly, he finds himself becoming faster, stronger, more aggressive. But unlike his classmates, Luc is increasingly troubled by nightmares and strange urges. Then a stranger appears in the home Luc has shared with his Aunt Jane and Uncle Stephen since his parents died when he was three. The mysterious man claims he has come to take Luc back to his father's people. Luc is about to learn a thrilling and terrifying truth: like his ancestors, he is a shape-shifter, and on his thirteenth birthday he will change form for the first time. Under the full moon, his bones and muscles with stretch, he'll drop to all fours, his mouth and nose will become a pointed muzzle with lethal fangs, and thick fur will sprout through his skin.

He will become a wolf.

Luc is dazzled by his new powers, and he realizes he has longed for the sense of family his new-found relatives—his pack—provide. But Luc has brought danger to his new community. His uncle Stephen hates and fears the shape-shifters, and how that they have taken Luc, he'll stop at nothing to see them wiped out. It will take all of Luc's abilities—wolf and human—to save his pack, and himself.

Once I heard that Robin LaFevers, the author of one of my new favorite series, had once penned a werewolf novel I knew I had to check it out as soon as possible. Published back in 2006 for a middle grade audience under the pseudonym R.L. LaFevers (no doubt because the main character was a boy and we wouldn't want to advertise that women could write boys' books), I didn't really expect much from it, but still was hopeful for an interesting take on werewolves from an author I greatly enjoyed.

Let's just say, there's a good reason you don't hear much about this book.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Today's Test Will Determine Which Field of Study You're Best Suited For

This review is for those who have read or are familiar with the previous book, The Testing, or don't mind knowing some spoilers for it. Independent Study, however, will remain spoiler-free.

Independent Study
~Independent Study~
The Testing
Book 2

By Joelle Charbonneau
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

With her brutal Testing experience forgotten thanks to a government-issued memory wipe, seventeen-year-old Cia Vale is eager to begin her studies at the Commonwealth's elite University, as is Tomas, the boy she loves.

Their bright futures are threatened by the past, however, when violent nightmares that feel more like memories force Cia to question reality and the true motives lurking behind the friendly faces of her classmates.

Embarking on a forbidden course of study that could get her killed, Cia delves into the Commonwealth's darkest secrets. What she learns changes everything...

The Testing was just the beginning.

From a familiar premise arose a story so nailbitingly gripping I literally could not put it down. Though I had my suspicions that this series could turn into a Hunger Games lite, I was pleasantly surprised to find a refreshing complexity and ingenuity in the sequel that has me even more excited for the conclusion. So if you prefer your dystopia with more subterfuge than battlefields, you'll definitely enjoy the unexpected turn this series took as much as I did.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

There Is No Surrender - Only Win Or Lose

This review is for those who have read or are familiar with the previous books, Zombies Don't Cry and Zombies Don't Forgive, or don't mind knowing some spoilers for them. Zombies Don't Surrender, however, will remain spoiler-free.

Zombies Don't Surrender
~Zombies Don't Surrender~
A Living Dead Love Apocalypse Story
Book 3

By Rusty Fischer
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks
Zombies Don't Blog

As the final volume in the Living Dead Love Stories opens, Maddy, Dane, and Stamp are still together, though barely, nestled safely inside the walls of Sentinel City, a stronghold designed to keep Zerkers out—and zombies in.

Maddy trains night and day, hoping to join Vera as a Keeper. Dane has been given Sentinel Support in the form a busty blonde named Courtney. And what of Stamp? Although Maddy’s dad has worked hard to rehabilitate him after his Zerker bite, he’s still not all . . . there.

When Dr. Swift inadvertently allows the zombies’ archenemy, Val, to escape from Sentinel City, Maddy’s world turns upside down. She and Stamp are Vanished—expelled from the safety of Sentinel City, no better than common Zerkers. Dane, a Sentinel now, escapes punishment and is assigned to ensure that his old friends never return.

As Maddy and Stamp stray from the safety of Sentinel City, danger mounts . . . and not just for them. Val has taken up residence in a seaside town and enrolled in another Normal high school. To outwit her and save Seagull Shores from all-out zombie Armageddon, Maddy must face her archenemy once again.

Only this time, she’s all alone . . .

Well, I was right in my last review: things sure go to hell in a handbasket in this one. Unfortunately, in more ways than one. I've been reading and reviewing this series for three years now, thoroughly enjoying Mr. Fischer's upbeat, campy, B-movie style and humor. But all good things come to an end, it seems, and so I delve into the final installment in Maddy's Living Dead Love Story.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Cath Wasn't Just a Simon Fan — She Was One Of The Fans

By Rainbow Rowell
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

A coming-of-age tale of fanfiction, family, and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan.... But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she's really good at it. She and her twin, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it's what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fanfiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath's sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can't let go. She doesn't want to.

Now that they're going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn't want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She's got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend; a fiction-writing professor who thinks fanfiction is the end of the civilized world; a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words...and she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

If there was ever a book written especially for book bloggers to connect with and adore, this may very well be it. I highly doubt we'd be doing what we're doing if we hadn't felt passionate about what we're reading, so having a main character as passionate about stories and writing as we are... well it's practically a no-brainer that the community would fall in love. That being said, it's also a charming romance, a realistic look at college, and a heartwarming tale about family. Part nostalgia trip, part genuine good story, I couldn't help but be enthralled by this book.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Once Upon A Time, Dragons Used To Kidnap Princesses

Princess Ahira

Getting kidnapped by dragons on her sixteenth birthday was the best thing that ever happened to Princess Ahira.

After spending her life avoiding lectures and lessons, Ahira is thrilled when she is kidnapped and selected as a live-in-princess (Read: Servant) for a powerful dragon named Azmaveth. Her dreams of escaping royal monotony are dashed, however, when she realizes she will have to marry the prince that saves her. Tradition rules, after all.

Being a romance cynic, Ahira doesn’t consider marriage a fantastic future. So she decides to stay with Azmaveth until her brother, a prince, can sneak away from their kingdom to rescue her.

Life is interesting thanks to eccentric tenants of the dragon lands. As a live-in-princess Ahira meets Snow White and her seven dwarf uncles who have fallen asleep, Hanzel and Gretal who have locked an old woman out of her cookie cottage, and a miniature unicorn who has some pretty powerful magic.

However, there are a few negatives to Ahira’s new life. There’s Kohath, Azmaveth’s infuriating human steward; Azmaveth’s tendency to mis-make magic spells; Kohath; the ongoing epic battle between the dragons and the Valkyrie, magical warriors bent on dominion over magic; and Kohath.

Things get scaly when the dragons realize Azmaveth has unwittingly put their future in Ahira’s hands. If Ahira wants her happily ever after she’ll have to fight tooth and nail for it.

I admit, my main motivation for reading this one was to satisfy both the genre and key word challenges for April. However, I was also excited to read it after the description brought back memories of one of my favorite childhood stories, Patricia C. Wrede's Dealing With Dragons. With nontraditional princesses, intelligent dragons, and a few fairytale throwbacks, I eagerly dove in.

And soon wished I had just re-read Dealing With Dragons.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

She Was a Cyborg, and She Would Never Go to a Ball

The Lunar Chronicles
Book 1

By Marissa Meyer
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

Even in the future, the story begins with
Once Upon a Time...

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Sixteen-year-old Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. Because there is something unusual about Cinder, something that others would kill for.

While technically I read this as part of the Chez Apocalypse book club, I can also 'blame' my purchase of it on Emi of Oktopus Ink for her review of the third book, Cress. But that's more than enough name-drops and links for one intro, what about the book itself? Well, with a cover like that, you can bet seeing this on shelves definitely piqued my interest. Add in the mash-up element of Cyborgs and Cinderella, and I was more than ready to be whisked away into a weird and wonderful SciFi Fairytale.

Monday, April 21, 2014

All Eleanor Could Think About Was Seeing Park

Eleanor & Park
~Eleanor & Park~
By Rainbow Rowell
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Another 'contemporary' YA romance set in the mid-1980's, another book that took me forever to review. As I said with my last contemporary romance, I feel very out of my element here. This book in particular left me rather raw, making my thoughts even more jumbled than usual. Add in a straightforward plotline full of spoiler-bait, and I'm left will fairly little to say.

But here goes nothing.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Sing For Me, and Make It a Glorious Song

This review is for those who have read or are familiar with the previous books, The Immortal Rules and The Eternity Cure, or don't mind knowing some major spoilers for them. The Forever Song, however, will remain spoiler-free.

The Forever Song
~The Forever Song~
Blood of Eden
Book 3

By Julie Kagawa
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks
Available April 15th

Allison Sekemoto once struggled with the question: human or monster?
With the death of her love, Zeke, she has her answer.


Allie will embrace her cold vampire side to hunt down and end Sarren, the psychopathic vampire who murdered Zeke. But the trail is bloody and long, and Sarren has left many surprises for Allie and her companions—her creator, Kanin, and her blood brother, Jackal. The trail is leading straight to the one place they must protect at any cost—the last vampire-free zone on Earth, Eden. And Sarren has one final, brutal shock in store for Allie.

In a ruined world where no life is sacred and former allies can turn on you in one heartbeat, Allie will face her darkest days. And if she succeeds, triumph is short-lived in the face of surviving forever alone.

It's all come down to this. I loved the last book, but hated the first book. Would Allie's final quest be enough to win me over, or would I return to the disinterest I felt in the beginning? Only time and 416 electronic pages would tell.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Kind of Sky That Begs, Fly With Me

Let the Sky Fall
~Let the Sky Fall~
Sky Fall
Book 1

By Shannon Messenger
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

Vane Weston should have died in the category-five tornado that killed his parents. Instead, he woke up in a pile of rubble with no memories of his past—except one: a beautiful, dark-haired girl standing in the winds. She swept through his dreams ever since, and he clings to the hope that she's real.

Audra is real, but she isn't human. She's a sylph, an air elemental who can walk on the wind, translate its alluring songs, even twist it into a weapon. She's also a guardian—Vane's guardian—and has sworn an oath to protect him at all costs.

When a hasty mistake reveals their location to the enemy who murdered both their families, Audra has just days to help Vane unlock his memories. And as the storm winds gather, Audra and Vane start to realize that the greatest danger might not be the warriors coming to destroy them, but the forbidden romance growing between them.

Once you get the inevitable tune of the Oscar-winning James Bond song out of your head, this book is actually a really sweet paranormal romance. Actually that song is a good theme for this book's couple. Yeah, no clue if the song influenced the book at all (I doubt it, based on the publication date), but it really does work well. Huh, go figure.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Shorn of Mystery and Shadow, This Was the Truth

Shadow and Bone
~Shadow and Bone~
Grisha Trilogy
Book 1

By Leigh Bardugo
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

Alina Starkov doesn't expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, the one thing she could rely on was her best friend and fellow refugee, Mal. And lately not even that seems certain. Drafted into the army of their war-torn homeland, they're sent on a dangerous mission into the Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh.

When their convoy is attacked, all seems lost until Alina reveals a dormant power that not even she knew existed. Ripped from everything she knows, she is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. He believes she is the answer the people have been waiting for: the one person with the power to destroy the Fold.

Swept up in a world of luxury and illusion, envied as the Darkling's favorite, Alina struggles to fit into her new life without Mal by her side. But as the threat to the kingdom mounts, Alina discovers a secret that sets her on a collision course with the most powerful forces in the kingdom. Now only her past can save her...and only she can save the future.

This story had a lot of familiar elements. A girl who doesn't know her own powers, a magical school, a villain out for world domination, a romance between childhood friends... But for every similar element, I kept thinking of another story which had done it better. I'm not saying I'm against authors using similar elements and reinventing stories, but it would be nice if I got something new out of the story...

Friday, February 28, 2014

Everywhere You Look, Red

Blood Red Road
~Blood Red Road~
Dust Lands Trilogy
Book 1

By Moira Young
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That's fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba's world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on a quest to get him back.

Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she is a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. She has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization.

This book must have been a nightmare to edit. The cover copy says it has "a poetically minimal writing style". Put in layman's terms, it has a simple vocabulary, absolutely no quotation marks, no traditional chapters, and a ton of phonetically-spelled words. For example, "I figger if only we could unnerstand crow talk..." It's almost dialectical, except its throughout the narration and dialog, which I'm sure will put some readers off immediately. I admit it took some getting used to, training my mind to be lazier and not wince with each misspelling, but after a few pages (and with the audiobook's help) I managed to wade through and get to the heart of the story.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Whole Universe Waiting To Be Discovered

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Dante can swim. Ari can't. Dante is articulate and self-assured. Ari has a hard time with words and suffers from self-doubt. Dante gets lost in poetry and art. Ari gets lost in thoughts of his older brother who is in prison. Dante is fair skinned. Ari's features are much darker. It seems that a boy like Dante, with his open and unique perspective on life, would be the last person to break down the walls that Ari has built around himself.

But when Ari and Dante meet, they bond. They share books, thoughts, dreams, laughter. They teach each other new vocabularies and begin to redefine each other's worlds. And they discover that the universe is a large and difficult place.

This is the story about two boys, Ari and Dante, who must learn to believe in each other and the power of their friendship if they ever are to become men.

I'm a bit out of my comfort zone on this one. Really the only reason I picked it up was for the Jumble Your Genres reading challenge I've taken on. I know I've said I'll read just about anything, but I have to admit that I find Contemporary Fiction just about the hardest thing to review. Not because I hate it, but because there's usually not much left to interpretation. The characters are supposed to be real, the setting is supposed to be real, and the conflicts are supposed to be real. Therefore, if a contemporary novel is written well, it makes the review of it pretty sparse.

Still, I'll give it my best shot.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Endless Knight, An Immortal Killer

This review is for those who have read or are familiar with the previous book, Poison Princess or don't mind knowing some spoilers for it. Endless Knight, however, will remain spoiler-free.

Endless Knight
~Endless Knight~
The Arcana Chronicles
Book 2
By Kresley Cole
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

Shocking secrets.

Evie has fully come into her powers as the Tarot Empress, and Jack was there to see it all. She now knows that the teens who've been reincarnated as the Tarot are in the throes of an epic battle. It's kill of be killed, and the future of mankind hangs in the balance.
Unexpected allies.

With threats lurking around every corner, Evie is forced to trust her newfound alliance. Together they must fight not only other Arcana, but also Bagmen zombies, post-apocalypic storms, and cannibals.

Gut-wrenching treachery.

When Evie meets Death, things get even more complicated. Though falling for Jack, she's drawn to the dangerous Endless Knight as well. Somehow the Empress and Death share a history—one that Evie can't remember, but Death can't forget. ...

This book/series sure knows how to press my buttons. In all my years of reading (even before these last three of reviewing) I have come across quite a few things I despise reading. Besides poetry (which I'm forced to analyze) and long-winded sagas of nothingness, I've also run into a few tropes that I abhor, particularly if they are depicted in a favorable light, among which are included fate and possessive romances.

Guess which tropes are heavily featured in The Arcana Chronicles?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Some Thoughts on 'Shipping

If you're in literature circles, have read lit news, or have any interest in the Harry Potter series at all, then you've no doubt heard the news that JK Rowling dropped a couple weeks ago.

For anyone not already in the know, it seems she regrets not pairing Harry and Hermione in the series, instead writing Hermione with Ron (and Harry with Ginny).
“I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment. That’s how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.”
[JK admits Harry should have wed Hermione]
I'd seen the news here and there, on Facebook and dA and such, but didn't really think much of it. So J.K. had second thoughts on her writing, big deal.

It wasn't until I read an article on Bookish that I realized what everyone was getting out of sorts about.

Friday, January 31, 2014

To Enter This Elite Group, Candidates Must First Pass The Testing

The Testing
~The Testing~
The Testing
Book 1
By Joelle Charbonneau
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

The United Commonwealth reviews the achievements of yearly graduates in all of its eighteen colonies. Top students are brought to Tosu City for testing to attend the University and become future leaders of the Commonwealth.

Question One: What makes an ideal Testing candidate?
Cia Vale, of Five Lakes Colony, is an exemplar of the Commonwealth's ideal candidate: young, determined, and civic-minded, possessing extraordinary mechanical skills and impressive knowledge of the natural world.

Question Two: How does the Commonwealth decide who passes and fails?
The Testing is designed to reward both warriors and peacemakers. Candidates who are unable (or unwilling) to do what is necessary to complete The Testing may be eliminated by their own actions, by the Test itself, or, in some cases, by a rival candidate.

Question Three: Can candidates refuse their nomination?
No. Participation by selected candidates is mandatory and continues until such time as they complete The Testing or are otherwise eliminated.

Question Four: Is The Testing safe?
The United Commonwealth is not at liberty to discuss specific details related to The Testing's various components.

Question Five: Has anyone ever died while participating in The Testing?
Progress comes at a price. The United Commonwealth cannot confirm or deny mortality statistics related to The Testing.

Do You Have What It Takes To Pass The Testing?

It probably seems cliché to compare a YA Dystopian to The Hunger Games, eh? I mean, just because there's an evil government forcing kids to fight kids in a no-holds-barred setting, does that mean it's really okay to slap the label "Hunger Games Clone" on it and call it a day? Well, no, but can you blame me for at least thinking it?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Five Maids A-Spying

Maid of Secrets
~Maid of Secrets~
Maids of Honor
Book 1
By Jennifer McGowan

Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

God save the Queen—Or we will.

Orphan Meg Fellowes makes her living picking pockets—until she steals from the wrong nobleman. Instead of rotting in prison like she expects, she’s whisked away to the court of Queen Elizabeth and pressed into royal service as a spy. With a fake noble identity, Meg joins four other remarkable girls in the Maids of Honor, the Queen’s secret society of protectors.

Her natural talent for spying proves useful in this time of unrest. The Spanish court is visiting, and with it come devious plots and hidden political motives. As threats to the kingdom begin to mount, Meg can’t deny her growing attraction to one of the dashing Spanish courtiers. But it’s hard to trust her heart in a place where royal formalities and masked balls hide the truth: Not everyone is who they appear to be.

Meg's mission tests every talent she possesses, even her loyalty to her fellow Maids. With danger lurking around every corner, can she stay alive—and protect the crown?

I haven't been much into historical fiction as I used to be. Sure, I get a taste every now and again, but with so much urban fantasy and paranormal teen material coming out lately, I'm sorry to say that the historicals have been crowded out. So you can see how discovering a new young adult historical novel focusing on lady spies and protectors of Queen Elizabeth might intrigue me. Crafty girls armed with blades and surrounded by historical intrigue? Sign me up!

Friday, January 10, 2014

I Have a Subconscious List of Rules For How Reality Should Work

Hyperbole and a Half
~Hyperbole and a Half~
Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened
By Allie Brosh
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks
Hyperbole and a Half Blog

From the Author:

This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative—like maybe someone who isn't me wrote it—but I soon discovered that I'm not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly. So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book:
  • Pictures
  • Words
  • Stories about things that happened to me
  • Stories about things that happened to other people because of me
  • Eight billion dollars*
  • Stories about dogs
  • The secret to eternal happiness*
*These are lies. Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness!

Truthfully, I've barely read any of the Hyperbole and a Half Blog. Maybe 4 articles in total. Sure, I've seen a few of the pictures posted here and there (CLEAN ALL THE THINGS!), and I've no doubt adopted some of the more well known quotes and memes into my own vernacular (see last parentheses). But relative to the millions of fans and followers, I knew practically nothing about this blog.

I got my first real introduction when a friend or two linked to the Depression posts (which are included in the book). I read through them, laughed, cried, connected with them. Then, when a few of my friends started salivating at the mouth over this book coming out, I'll admit I kinda fed off of their hype. I visited the blog and saw the latest post, and then I laughed some more. So when the library finally sent me notice that they had a copy in, I was already pretty excited for this book.

I thought I knew what to expect. I had no idea.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

One Day You'll Be Known As The Poison Princess

Poison Princess
~Poison Princess~
The Arcana Chronicles
Book 1
By Kresley Cole
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

She could save the world—or destroy it.

Sixteen year old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life—until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, killing everyone she loves, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.

But she can’t do either alone.

With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally trust Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?

Who can Evie trust?

As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side…

A post-apocalyptic paranormal YA romance that includes zombies, magic, and Tarot lore? I must have skipped this book's description entirely, because I had absolutely, positively no clue what I was reading for a while there. Not that it was confusing, mind you, I just had no idea where it was going. And I have to say, I kind of liked it that way!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Angel Was Made Out Of Clockwork

Clockwork Angel
~Clockwork Angel~
The Infernal Devices
Book 1
By Cassandra Clare
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length . . . everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world. . . . and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

Considering the disappointment (and rage) I had with the last books I read by Clare, I'll admit that I was expecting yet another rage-fest with Clockwork Angel. To its credit, even with the niggling suspicion that I would hate this book running throughout my consciousness, it managed to leave me with a favorable impression. Unfortunately, I found much of this prequel's storyline to be derivative of the first, and thus while I did not hate it, I can't say I found much to like either. Let the comparisons ensue!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Few New Challenges 2014

2014 Reading Challenge
Hosted by GoodReads

Goal: 50 Books

A yearly challenge for me, and one fairly easy to keep track of. GoodReads does all the work for me. Still, I'm looking forward to reaching my overall goal of 50 different titles (instead of counting repeats for audiobooks) in 2014.