Sunday, June 30, 2013

Review: Ink by Amanda Sun

Review: Ink by Amanda Sun
Release date: June 25th, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Rating: Good for fans of manga, anime, kdramas, Japanese culture, and paranormal. Not so good for those who can't tolerate a bit of stalking in their fictional romances. I'm pretty torn.

Ink (Paper Gods, #1)

I looked down at the paper, still touching the tip of my shoe. I reached for it, flipping the page over to look.

Scrawls of ink outlined a drawing of a girl lying on a bench.

A sick feeling started to twist in my stomach, like motion sickness.

And then the girl in the drawing turned her head, and her inky eyes glared straight into mine.

On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets.

Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.

The cover: SO BEAUTIFUL. And artistic. And unique. And my god, if this isn't one of the prettiest ARCs I've ever gotten my hands on. There are gorgeous full-page drawings, and little flip-book birds and things in the bottom corners. I'm sure the hardcover is absolutely stunning.

The story: The moment I first heard about this book, months and months ago, I knew I had to read this. I love books set in other countries, and I love art, so a book about Japanese teens who can bring ink drawings to life just sounded like it was too good to be true. While I think Amanda Sun could have executed her brilliant concept a bit better, I ended up quite enjoying this anime-like read (SERIOUSLY, Hayao Miyazaki should get his hands on this, because MY GOD would it make a brilliant Studio Ghibli film).

But since my brain is a little confused on some of the finer elements, I'll break things down to make it a little easier.

The good: Japan

Amanda Sun did an AMAZING JOB of teaching me all about a culture and a country I know nothing about. It's clear she knows exactly what she's talking about (though, again, I wouldn't know), and since she's lived in Japan, this makes sense. I've never read a YA set in contemporary Japan before, and I found the setting endlessly fascinating. Sun also includes a glossary of Japanese terms, which, yes, I had to flip to so often that I had to use two bookmarks--one set permanently in the glossary for easy flipping--and that got a little irritating. But I also love glossaries, and I learned stuff. I like learning stuff.

The bad: the romance


Okay, this is a little unfair. The romance isn't all terrible. In fact, if you're a fan of anime/manga, you'll see a lot of the same elements present in Ink that get used in Japanese and other East Asian entertainment. The new girl with a tragic past who sticks out like a sore thumb. Mysterious, dangerous, too-good-looking-to-be-allowed boy at the center of a million rumors. And a whole lot of mutual stalking and intense conversations about how daaaaangerous the boy is (which, admittedly, is true). I thought Katie and Tomo were pretty cute, but they also never behaved like normal rational people. And they were probably not the healthiest of relationships, and honestly, had this taken place in, say, the Pacific Northwest, I'd be grumbling about them quite a bit. But somehow it works in Japan.

The good: mythology, magic, and ART!

The magic here is so unique and wonderful and incorporates a lot of Japanese history into it. I've never read a book about the kami before, nor about drawings that can sort of come to life, nor about... well, I won't tell you what Katie's part in this is, but it's awesome and creepy and crazy. And as someone who loves to draw, I totally fell in love with the parts of this novel that dealt with Tomo's artistic ability, and how that coincides with his ability to do really strange things with his art.

The meh: the plot and the writing

Every now and then Sun will throw in a pretty stunning metaphor, and some of the descriptions of Japan (particularly the cherry blossoms. I WANT SO BADLY TO SEE THAT SOMEDAY) were downright lush. But some of the dialogue felt stilted at times, and I felt like the writing could have used one last polish. As for the plot... well, actually, a lot of it was pretty interesting. Without giving much away, there are REALLY BAD GANSTERS involved, and less bad people who want to save Tomo and Katie, and Tomo and Katie make a LOT of bad decisions, and there's a BIG CHARACTER REVEAL which is quite blindingly obvious. Again, none of it is really bad, per se. I just feel like, had Sun made some difference choices, it could very easily have all been better.

The meh: the characters


 I could never really decide how I felt about Katie and Tomo. Tomohiro was, obviously, a total assface, but sometimes he'd be really adorable and manga-ish and blush. He and Katie had some really adorable, bumbling scenes in the beginning of their relationship that made me chuckle. He's also very much a kdrama pretty boy, with dyed, overlong hair, which I love. I enjoyed watching him agonize over his strange and frightening powers. I ALSO LOVED THIS LINE, which Ashleigh pointed out in her review:

"I can't keep you in the dark and protect you at the same time" (ARC p. 156)

I HAVE NEVER SEEN A BOY SAY THIS IN A PARANORMAL ROMANCE. How utterly freaking refreshing. But he also has his cruel moments, which, honestly, were difficult for me to reconcile. Katie was even harder for me to figure out. The best Katie moments by far were when a) strange, inky shenanigans are afoot that have to do with Tomo. So what does she do? Marches straight up to Tomo and says, "EXPLAIN THESE SHENANIGANS, PLEASE." Again. This does not ever happen. And b) when she calls Tomo out on his douchehattery. Which is necessary quite a lot.

But Katie also suffers from Too Stupid to Live syndrome, and she's got a raging case of stalker-itis, and even though she's suffering from the loss of her mom, I never felt her grief enough. So while I liked Katie well enough, and she served as a pretty decent heroine, the jury's still mostly out on her.

The verdict: I have none. Sorry! This is one of those books where I'll constantly be waffling back and forth. Generally, though, my opinion is pretty positive. I certainly enjoyed reading Ink, and I'm excited to read the sequel. Also, now I need to go to Japan ASAP. Or at least watch some manga to tide me over.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Review: Since You Asked by Maurene Goo

Review: Since You Asked by Maurene Goo
Release date: June 25th, 2013
Publisher: Scholastic
Rating: A quirky, funny story focused on one Korean-American girl's sophomore year. Some really funny moments, but an ending that DEFINITELY leaves you wanting.

Since You Asked

A humorous, debut novel about a Korean-American teenager who accidentally lands her own column in her high school newspaper, and proceeds to rant her way through the school year while struggling to reconcile the traditional Korean values of her parents with contemporary American culture.

The cover: I ADORE this cover. I requested this book basically BECAUSE of the cover, and because it's about a Korean-American girl, and one in Southern California to boot. But look! So quirky! So irreverent! Hot pink! Cool font! POC!

The story: This book does a really good job of capturing a high school outsider's look at the follies of high school. Brand-new sophomore Holly Kim is perfectly happy to have only three quirky friends and be, essentially, invisible. She suffers in silence as a copy editor on the school newspaper and thinks high school is the worst. But when a mix-up puts her snarky opinions on the front page, suddenly everyone knows who Holly is. And now she's got her own column, where she can voice her own opinions. Basically, Holly Explains It All, all while she's suffering under her mother's traditional Korean Mom expectations.

I've never said this before in my life, but perhaps this book was... too quippy? I KNOW. WHO AM I. Don't get me wrong, I loved the humor, but I also wanted to feel grounded in the world a bit more. I get that HOLLY IS FUNNY, and I love that, but I also never felt like I knew Holly enough. Or at least, I wanted to know her better, though I really enjoyed being in her head, and learning all the lessons alongside her. She's a bit too dismissive of all things typical, though--popularity, dressing up, romance, prom-- which made her pretty typical, actually.

I'm a compulsive shipper. Basically, I always choose my ships the INSTANT I glimpse it on the horizon. (Warning: metaphor abuse). My harbor always feels sad and empty if I've got no ships tied up at my docks. So obviously, I chose a ship the INSTANT Holly said, "Hello" to my chosen shipmate. "Yes, you two," I said, nodding at my e-reade like a wise old lady. "You two shall be the Chosen Ones."

Well, my ship didn't pay off. And yes, that is NOT a legitimate reason to be cranky, but... IT SHOULD HAVE. They hinted at it. Oh, they so could have. But this book never went ANYWHERE, romance-wise, and my poor little ship just bobbed in the harbor all sad and pointless.

I'm making it sound like I didn't love this book. I did. I'm always blathering on about wanting for stories about minority characters, and Goo did a WONDERFUL job of portraying Holly's family, the pressures of her background, and all her cultural confusion. It felt very realistic to me, and what's more, it was funny. Her family is lovable, unreasonable, and stressful, just like all families are. The appeal of this book lies in it's realism, humor, and non-plotty plot, and experiencing Holly and all her Lane Kim-like struggles as she tries to figure out who she is and do new things. It's about getting out of your bubble.


I'm actually NOT a fan of open endings, and this one is REALLY open.First of all, my poor sad ship was DENIED safe docking, but a lot of loose ends weren't tied up on purpose. Unless this is the first in a series (which I don't think it is. I could be wrong, though), I prefer to have things a little more tightly wrapped up.

If you love books that focus on a phase in someone's life, rather than a momentous occasion, or cross-cultural YA, or snarky, sassy high school outsiders commenting on the hypocrisy of high school life, then I suggest you give Since You Asked a try!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Top Ten Reads of 2013 (So Far)
hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER, because just forcing me to choose ten alone was cruel enough (which is why I cheated and chose... not ten).

Books I read and were published in 2013:

Siege and Storm (The Grisha, #2)Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2)The Archived (The Archived, #1)

1. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
My review is basically all exclamation points, drooling over Sturmhond, and gifs of Zac Efron freaking out about things.

2. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Haven't put my review of this one up yet, but I'm sure it will be entirely incoherent, because GAH.

3. The Archived by Victoria Schwab
I loved this book even more than I expected to. The creepy, atmospheric quality, the depths of feeling, Mac, Wesley-- I loved it all.

Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2)Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, #2)

4. Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
Gorgeous writing, a cracker-jack plot, and excellent side characters. A healthy helping of Warner doesn't hurt either.

5. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
This series is so much fun. it's science fiction-lite with a fairy tale twist, and I thought this book was even better plotted than Cinder, plus it had three times the man candy. I will never complain about added amounts of man candy.

Faking It (Losing It, #2)GorgeousThe Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter, #1)

6. Faking It by Cora Carmack
This book was romantic, humorous, and everything New Adult should be.

7. Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick
I know this book won't be for everyone, but it was SO FOR ME. It was hilarious, adorable, and full of British people doing royal British things.

8. The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd
I know for a fact my review for this was completely incoherent, because it was so very !!!! and also ?!?!?!

FangirlPivot Point (Pivot Point, #1)

9. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Another one I can't put up a review for yet, because it doesn't come out for a while, but Fangirl is cute and so very much what I want NA to be. Faking It is what I want the sexy New Adult titles to become; Fangirl is what I hope the rest of the genre will be. I connected a lot with the heroine, and saw a lot of myself in her, and also there are Emergency Kanye Dance parties. Yes.

10. Pivot Point by Kasie West
 I'm not normally one for paranormal romance but this one hooked me right off. I love all of West' characters (ADDIE + TREVOR FOREVER) and she pulled off this really tricky concept flawlessly.

Honorable 2013 mentions: Arclight by Josin McQuein, The Distance Between Us by Kasie West.

BONUS: Books I read but were published BEFORE 2013, because I don't know when to quit:

 Graceling (Graceling Realm, #1)The Thief (The Queen's Thief, #1)The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy, #1)
 Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1)Everneath (Everneath, #1)

1. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
2. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
3. The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen
4. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
5. Everneath by Brodi Ashton

What are the best books of 2013 that YOU'VE read so far? Have you read/loved/hated any one mine? Leave me your links if you have them so I can come visit!

Review: The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Review: The Distance Betweeen Us by Kasie West
Release date: July 2nd, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen

The Distance Between Us

Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she's beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

The cover: SO PRETTY and romantic and lensflarey and I want her dress and her shoes. Plus excellent font choice.

The story: I was SO HAPPY when I won a copy of this from the author, for two reasons. 1) I loved West's first book, Pivot Point (which, um, I will TOTALLY write a review for one of these days). And 2) the blurb describes it as Pretty in Pink meets Pride and Prejudice. In other words, it is thing I love crossed with thing I love even more, and luckily, in this case, that equation added up to something I also love!

Reading the back cover, I was initially a little worried that Caymen would bug me. She really hates rich people. All of them. Which is understandable, because a lot of the time, rich people are snobby, and her rich father got her mother pregnant and abandoned her. Now Caymen and her mom run a porcelain doll shop that is barely staying afloat, and Caymen and her single mother have got a whole lot of understandable resentment. The fact that Caymen's disgust towards rich people was somewhat justified, and that Caymen was awesomely sarcastic, really made me love when I so easily could not have.

But then Xander Spence enters the store. And the rest is history.

The plot is really cute and readable, and there's BIG SHOCK near the end that I totally didn't see coming, but most of the strength of this novel lies in its characters, specifically Caymen and Xander. Caymen has such a dry sense of humor that most of the time, people literally have no idea that she's joking. I fell completely in love with her somewhere around page two. We are sisters in snark. We are snarkmates. It was particularly funny to see her baffle the humorless people around her, and to see her pull reluctant laughs and smiles out of the serious Xander.

Xander is a TOTAL sweetheart. He's flawed and real and, obviously, really hot. Which I have no problem with. He's rich and entitled and takes a lot for granted, but he knows that, and he's trying to work on it. He is, basically, Blane McDonough, but less dweeby. Who is cute, of course, but dweeby.

So yes. Andie Caymen and Blane Xander meet up, and it's destined from the start not to work out. She lives in a tiny apartment above the doll store, and all she does is work, work, work. He's the son of a billionaire and drives a sportscar (while wearing driving gloves). BUT HE'S SWEET. And he has this amazing wonder-smile, and the two of them have this awesome, competitive rapport going on, and soon Caymen starts to melt. But can they really work, when Caymen has no means for a future at all and Xander has everything? Even though Xander seems to think they're in the same boat? I DON'T KNOW. YOU'LL HAVE TO READ TO FIND OUT.

(Also obviously you should all watch Pretty in Pink because duh. ALSO DID YOU KNOW the original ending of Pretty in Pink was different? That Molly Ringwald ended up with.... the person she doesn't ACTUALLY end up with? And test audiences HATED IT SO MUCH that they had to re-shoot the ending? FOOD FOR THOUGHT.)

Caymen deals with a lot of things in this book: how much of her future she owes to her mother, the injustices of the world, how really truly poor she is, first love. The works. She and Xander both feel trapped in their worlds, in the roles their parents have planned for them, and neither really knows what they want to do in life.

My only slight quibble would be a lack of depth in the rest of Caymen's world (her school and her classmates are virtually nonexistent), though I adored Skye, her best friend. Their relationship was just pure, loving friendship, and it was lovely to read about. The two characters complimented each other nicely. Also Sky's boyfriend is hilariously dim but well-meaning. And Caymen's mother was another character with a lot of development, and the mother-daughter relationship was a big focus in the plot. Which I always approve of.

Basically, READ THIS BOOK, people. I read it in one day because I just couldn't stop, and I was kind of devastated when it ended. I mean, first of all, ALL THE FEELS come rushing in at the end, and then it's over and you're all sad because Caymen won't be deadpanning to me anymore, and I miss that. *goes back to reread book*

All right, one last secret-weapon smile of Blane's Xander's for the road:

You're welcome.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Review: Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Review: Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
Release date: January 31st, 2012
Publisher: Katherine Tegen (HarperCollins)
Rating: This book broke me out of my reading slump! I've got a few world-building quibbles, but the concept is AMAZING, the book moves quickly, and Sam is perfection. This book is full of soul and Heart (I AM SO FUNNY).

Incarnate (Newsoul, #1)

Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

Even Ana's own mother thinks she's a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she'll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?

Sam believes Ana's new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana's enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else's life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.

The cover: SO MUCH PRETTY. I think the hand looks a little awkward, but I love the overblown pastel covers and the butterfly and that it has SIGNIFICANCE for the plot. Also I like the swirly thing behind the title.

The story: If you were lazy and didn't read the synopsis above, then you need to know that the basic concept of Range is that people's souls live forever. They just get reincarnated into new bodies (both male and female! Which I love!), and have been doing so for about five thousand years. Except for Ana. She just appeared. She is a Newsoul.

Which is why THIS SONG was stuck in my head THE WHOLE TIME I WAS READING:

Enjoy. It's a good song.

Anyway, the book. I really liked this book. Once I started reading, it kind of kept tugging me along, and I didn't want to put it down. Which was lovely, since I've been having problems with that recently. I just found the whole "reincarnated" thing fascinating. And Meadows does an excellent job of setting that whole system up logically, even if it is mega creepy at times (what if you give birth to your old lover's soul?! Ewww. I'm assuming the Council-y people avoid that. But ew).

Seriously, she makes every little facet of this concept work perfectly, and addresses all the philosophical questions that would arise from this. Range, and the City of Heart, have a very set system. They've been living the same lives for nearly five thousand years. They've seen the same people, they've believed in the same things, and while they've invented new technology, they haven't really changed. Because they're all really freaking old on the inside.


Enter Ana. Ana is shiny and new and full of questions. She hates herself to an almost annoying degree, but she's a really well-developed character with a strong draw towards music. She's also very curious, which I love in a main character, because that means she goes out investigating things the reader wants to know. There is one point I wish she'd pressed harder, because the second it came up I was like "ALL THE ANSWERS MUST BE RIGHT THERE!", but I'm assuming that's all for Book Two. Yes, that's vague, TOO BAD.

I sort of wish Ana had found her self-worth because of herself, rather than because of a guy, but her self-worth was so pathetically low that it was a joy to see it improve (not a surprise, after eighteen years of her HEINOUS "mother" Which... why did Li despise Ana so much? I wish that had been explained. Possibly it'll show up in the sequel.)

This brings us to the most important point of the whole book. Sam.

Now, I already have a thing for fictional boys named Sam, but this Sam is awesome. He is, one hundred percent, a good man. He's smart and sensitive and kind, and he's constantly amazed by Ana's newness. You can tell the guy REALLY needed to meet someone new after five thousand years. Is it slightly creepy that a guy who is physically a teenager but psychologically 5,000 is dating a girl who's only 18? A little. But I love that Ana fully acknowledges that. And it's not like she's got any other options. She's the youngest person in Range by quite a few millennia. And this book is so romantic and swoony. The love story was bar far my favorite part.

On to my quibbles. While I LOVE the reincarnation part of the world-building, the rest left me a little confused. Was it fantasy? Dystopian? Science fiction? I would go with fantasy with science fiction elements myself, but it's a little confusing. So we have advanced technology... but there are dragons? And centaurs? And sylphs? It worked, ultimately, but it felt a little strange.

Janan, their god, is also VERY cool. Apparently he built the city of Heart, which all the souls in their first lifetime stumbled upon fully completed. But he hasn't really made an appearance since then, leaving them to fight off the dragons and such all on their own, so a bunch of people have stopped believing in him. But a bunch also REALLY have not. There's lots of mysterious mythology here that Ana has to get to the bottom of: namely, why does she exist?

I'm really excited to get to the sequel. This book ticked all the boxes for me, and I've got a new book boyfriend to add to the collection. I'm glad, for once, that all the hype wasn't misplaced,  because I'm definitely a fan!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Book Haul Vlog (3)

Once again, Ginger does her best to steal the show (and eat the books), but I get a few words in there somewhere. Good arrivals this week! (Also: freeze frame. Thanks, Youtube.)

Insomnia by J.R. Johansson
The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
(here's the cover for Split Second!)
The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

 InvisibleSince You AskedPrep School Confidential

Invisible by Marni Bates
Since You Asked by Maurene Goo
Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor

ETA: OOPS! I forgot a book.

 Taste Test

Taste Test by Kelly Fiore
My bloggy friend Blythe started this book and loved the beginning, and since she was raving about it and it's about a TELEVISED COOKING COMPETITION and I am a TopChef SUPERFAN, I was like, yes. Must have. Unfortunately, the book then took a serious swerve into the awful, according to Blythe, and that makes me nervous. But I'll check it out, and hopefully I'll like it more than she did!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Books I Read But Never Reviewed

OOPS. For various BEA-related reasons (and lazy-related reasons, and busy-related reasons, and just plain old... reasons), I've read a whole bunch of books this year that I never ended up reviewing. So I'm going to do it now
quick and dirty.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Insurgent (Divergent, #2)
Release date: May 1st, 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen

I was a bit late to the Divergent train (TRAIN, GET IT? Oh my God, I need coffee). I read it for the first time this year, and while I think reading it after it had been so mega-hyped meant that I was never going to be the #1 Divergent superfan, I definitely enjoyed it. The same goes for Insurgent. It's a trickier read, being REALLY, REALLY LONG and with some pacing issues, and Tris is very difficult, but I kind of like when Tris is difficult. And of course there's lots of action and people shooting things and betrayal and whatnot. So I definitely enjoyed it. In some ways, it's a better book than Divergent--the writing and character development get a lot better, and the climax is downright thrilling.

Past Perfect by Leila Sales 
 Past Perfect
Release date: October 4th, 2011
Publisher: Simon Pulse

This is one of those books that I love and find seriously flawed at the same time. This book is absolutely hilarious, and is set in a colonial reenactment village (think Colonial Williamsburg). That was by far my favorite part-- all the humor relating to the hilarity of dressing up in petticoats for tourists every day. What I didn't like was how much of the book focused on a) the MC's obsession with her obviously worthless ex-boyfriend and b) the "war" between the Colonials and the Civil War reenectment right next door. It gave cause for a lot of humor, but was kind of silly, detracted from the part I loved (cute boy! Colonial reenactment!), and ultimately ended in a way that left a bad taste in my mouth. But I still find this book hilarious and adorable.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
 Delirium (Delirium, #1)
Release date: February 1st, 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins

This one is a bit unfair, considering I haven't actually finished this book, and one day, far in the future, I'll get to it. I think the writing is sublime and the concept fascinating, but the pace was slow and quite literally nothing was happening, and I had like ten other review books and this one just fell by the wayside. But I intend to pick up again, because Lauren Oliver's writing is so beautiful it's almost heartbreaking.

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger
 Shut Out
Release date: September 5th, 2011
Publisher: Poppy (Little, Brown and Company)

I completely loved The Duff, enjoyed A Midsummer's Nightmare, and giggled through the companion novella, Secrets & Lies. Technically I read Shut Out long before I started blogging, but I might as well put up a mini review for it. Shut Out has an awesome (and very progressive, which I like) concept and message, even if it gets a bit heavyhanded  with it at times. I one hundred percent endorse everything she's saying, though, so in the end I didn't mind. It's a lot of fun and has a totally swoony love interest, plus Keplinger's trademark wit and snark.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mini review: Secrets & Lies by Kody Keplinger

Review: Secrets & Lies by Kody Keplinger
Release date: June 1st, 2013
Publisher: Poppy (Little, Brown and Company)
Rating: So cute! Witty, funny, and breezy, while still having good lessons, as is the usual for Keplinger.

Secrets and Lies

Kody Keplinger both returns to the halls of Hamilton High and explores new territory in her collection of two e-book exclusive novellas. In these short stories, the author revisits a familiar cast of characters from THE DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) and A Midsummer's Nightmare. Explore the uniquely teen world of high school drama, secrets, and romantic entanglements from completely fresh perspectives that will intrigue fans of Kody Keplinger and new readers alike

The cover: I like it! I'm a little bit obsessed with her eyeball (is that weird? That's weird. BUT LOOK SO PRETTY). It's also pretty close to how I picture Casey, so I like that.

The stories: This book is comprised of two short stories, the first featuring Casey, Bianca's best friend from The DUFF, the second starring Bailey, Whitley's stepsister from A Midsummer's Nightmare.

 Abbreviations & Alliterations
 This was my favorite of the two stories, because it was just DROWNING in the adorable. The DUFF is one of my favorite contemporary reads ever, and one of the strengths of it was the friendship between Bianca and Casey. While The DUFF was from Bianca's POV, A&A hands the narrative reins over to Casey. Which is awesome, because I LOVE Casey! She's a lovely medium between crankypants Bianca (who is back in fine, hilarious form) and bubbly sweet Jess, their other best friend.

But the best part was the adorably blossoming romance between Casey and... Toby Tucker!

Those of you who read The DUFF may remember Toby as the almost-guy--the nice guy who Bianca briefly dates, but who is obviously not THE guy (because hello, Wesley). I found him a little flat in The DUFF, but oh Lord, was I ten different kinds of wrong about him. He is SO CUTE and nerdy and blushy and he wears blazers to parties, and really, it's kind of refreshing to read about an honestly good guy.

There's a bit of drama about Casey keeping Toby a secret from Bianca, and all the guilt and stress that induces... but all in all, this is a light and lovely short story, perfect for those of us who loved The DUFF and were excited to get back into this world.

People Worth Knowing

Speaking of cute, nerdy, nice guys... I really loved Nathan, the love interest in A Midsummer's Night Dream. This second story is told from his little sister Bailey's POV. Keplinger did a really good job at capturing her naive, upbeat, friendly voice. The story focuses on bullying, and basically how evil and manipulative teenagers can be, and while most of the story was a little after school special-y, what makes it shine is Keplinger's humor, how truly kind of a person Bailey is and grows to be, and how awesome Whitley is when she finally shows up. Also, Nathan. My baby.

I also loved the very last development in this short story. It surprised the heck out of me, and twisted what could have been a cliche into something a lot more.

All in all, if you've read and loved Keplinger's other novels, you DEFINITELY don't want to miss Secrets & Lies. I defy you not to squee during the first story. I, T, LYTT.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Top Ten Books at the TOP of My Summer TBR List
Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

1. The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

 The Bitter Kingdom (Fire and Thorns, #3)

HECTORRRRRRRRRRRRRR. That is the only commentary necessary.

2. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

 The Bone Season (Scion, #1)

I've heard some not-so-great things, but this is a HUGE buzz book, and I've got an ARC. So I'm pretty excited to get cracking on this one and see where my opinions fall.

3. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

 The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

I love Holly Black, and I love the cover and concept of this, and even though this is technically a September book, I intend to read it before that. I need some cool vampire fun in my summer.

4. The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

 The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1)

 I'M SO EXCITED TO FINALLY READ A BRANDON SANDERSON BOOK. After meeting him (twice!) at BEA and getting this book and his upcoming novel, Steelheart (also on my sumemr TBR), I'm more anxious than ever to finally start reading his amazing books.

5. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

 The Book Thief

I KNOW. I KNOW. This is a classic, it will move me to tears, it's beautiful. I've heard it all. This summer will be the summer I get to it. I PROMISE.

6. Once We Were by Kat Zhang

 Once We Were (The Hybrid Chronicles, #2)

Another book that technically comes out in September, but that I intend to read on the beach someday before that. I really enjoyed the first book, What's Left of Me, so I'm excited to see what happens next.

7. Golden by Jessi Kirby


 Everybody's RAVING about this book. I want to join in on the raving!

8. Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross

 Belle Epoque

This book sounds so ridiculously up my alley and I NEED IT. I need to read it naowwww.

9. Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

 Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly, #1)

Victorian zombies! Hot boys! Why haven't I read this sooner?!

10. Books whose ARC sequels I own but that I haven't read yet so now I have to:  

False Memory (False Memory, #1)The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds, #1)Insignia (Insignia, #1)

False Memory by Dan Krokos, The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken, and Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

Doubling my own summer reading load, but OH WELL.

Bonus 11. Books that WOULD have been on this list but I jumped the gun and read them already:

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2)Fangirl

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (WHICH I'M GIVING AWAY, BECAUSE IT'S THE BEST), Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.