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.