Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Looking Forward: May

Brand new feature alert! Sometimes it's really hard for me to keep track of what comes out what month, especially while juggling early reviews and publisher catalogues and all the other confusing bookish things bloggers deal with. It's just a LOT OF BOOKS ALL THE TIME. How do you ever keep them straight?! So from now on, on the last day of the month, I'm going to post a guide to what books I'm most looking forward to in the following month and that you should keep an eye on. So, since it's the last day in April, here are the May releases most tempting me:

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Top Ten Books If You Like Frozen

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
 Like you're surprised. I really, really love Frozen, okay? I love the sisterhood, the singing, the animation, the Olaf, the Kristoff, the Sven, and Letting It Goooooooooo at the top of my lungs. I don't love the trolls, to be honest, but that is another debate for another day. Today, we are explaining why reindeer aren't better than books, how love is an open book, and that I want to stuff some chocolate in my face.

Elsa? Do you want to build a book list?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Review: The Taking by Kimberly Derting

Review: The Taking by Kimberly Derting
Release date: April 29th, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Series: Yes, #1 in The Taking series
Source: e-ARC via Edelweiss
Length: 368 pages
Rating: Eh? Not bad. Not great. Gag. INTRIGUE. Rage. Gag. Oooooh.


When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day.

Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men.

Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own

The best thing about this book is the set-up. After a huge fight with her father, Kyra hops out of the car, stumbles a few steps, and is blinded by a white light. She awakens, confused and alone, behind a gas station and stumbles home--only to discover fight years have gone by. And she's sill sixteen.

Talk about grabbing. And I was grabbed. I loved the beginning of this a lot, even if I was still mostly meh on Kyra's character. I figured this was going to be an action-packed, intrigues twisty plotty alien sci fi thing. And it kinda was... but also not. I really enjoyed the beginning, the actual "taking", and Kyra's confusing reappearing. Watching her figure out that something is quite, quite wrong... seeing the moment she realizes she's missed out on five years of her life, and, oh yeah, some things have changed a bit, was well done. The problems come after that inital rush of awesome when the plot stagnates and my credibility is stretched.

Oddly enough, it's not the aliens and the sci fi I didn't believe. That was pretty cool, actually, even if the final reveals are not really surprising. It's kind of exactly what you think it is. Even though I LOVED the end and especially loved the set-up for book two, which there's a good chance I'll read.

So what's the problem? This all sounds pretty positive, right? Well. Let's get started, kids.

So in the five years that Kyra has been missing, her family has fallen apart. Her parents divorced, her mother has a new husband and son, and her dad is a drunk conspiracy theorist. He witnessed Kyra's disappearance, and it has him firmly on the path of "It was the little green men!". Basically, he is this guy.

Not only that, but the boyfriend she planned on spending the rest of her life with has moved on... with her best friend. Which is a GIGANTIC plot point that is stupid. Oh, my god, Kyra, they thought you were dead. I get it's been only one day for you, and that would suck sooooo much. But I kind of wish Kyra had been more excited to talk to her best friend again and reassure her she was alive rather than get all upset about her dating her ex-boyfriend after five years and hanging UP on her the first time they chat on the phone. Give them a little credit. You VANISHED and they thought you were DEAD.

The only two people I thought I'd wanted to talk to were now the enemy, camped out together and colluding against me. Despite Cat's tearful pleas, I couldn't help picturing them together, having a good laugh over the way I'd called up and thought we'd pick up right where things left off.


Yes, it's reasonable to hear Cat's tearful pleas towards the friend she thought died five years ago and then assume she is probably laughing at that friend's folly. I'm sorry, I know it's only been a day or you, but that is cold. CALL YOUR GOD DAMN FRIEND. And then there was the ex-boyfriend himself, who also was not quite behaving the way one would if one's girlfriend/ex-best friend (which is what she was to Austin) reappeared from the dead. I don't know. That lengthy middle portion where she angsts around is quite turgid.It took too long for the actual sci fi mystery to start building. The stakes didn't show up until a solid 50% of the way through.

It's the parts of this book that most closely mirror a contemporary that didn't work for me. Namely this: WHERE ARE THE REPORTERS? THE FBI? THE POLICE? This girl was sixteen when she disappeared. She was underage, and a massive state-wide manhunt endured for months. But when she abruptly reappears out of freaking nowhere five years later, the only people who seem to care are her parents and a shady NSA agent who shows up on her doorstep four days after she returns. What. No. That's just not how the world reacts to missing white girls suddenly reappearing.Think of Jaycee Dugard. Elizabeth Smart. The women confined by Ariel Castro. MEDIA FREAKING CIRCUS. I didn't buy it.

And then... then, ladies and gentlemen, there is the romance.

Which is equal parts adorable, eye-rolly, and... GROSS. So before Kyra disappeared, her bf's littler brother, Tyler, was twelve years old, aka four years younger than Kyra and her bf. When Kyra returns, Tyler is seventeen... and smoking hot. And Kyra thinks and talks about this... constantly. And. I... I just...

I mean, Tyler is adorable. Unrealistically sincere, but cute. Don't get me wrong. But it takes so long to reveal that Kyra actually is still sixteen, but they're being all flirty even thought they think she's twenty-one and he' seventeen and aaaargh, she last knew him when he was twelve! Arrrgh! Also, he is a wee bit creepily persistent, considering that, to Kyra, she was dating his older brother a week ago. Plus, the Tyler infatuation comes MIGHTY fast. Literally the moment she sees this person who was twelve years old yesterday to her, she's lusting all over him. Ewwwwwwwl

This book feels a bit like untapped potential. The beginning is kind of amazing, but then it never quite kicks into overdrive. For a bit there it is mostly just "Man, is my boyfriend's little brother super hot now!" and "Tyler's eyes are green just like Austin's, but it's a slightly different shade of green. Let me explain the shades of green to you in great detail". I'm good, Kyra. Honestly, I am. Let's worry a bit more about WHERE YOU'VE BEEN FOR THE LAST FIVE YEARS AND WHY YOU CAN'T REMEMBER, HUH?

Yeah, then there's Kyra herself, whom I liked, but whom I wanted more from. I wanted to feel more of her pain and loneliness and the side effects of her ordeal. I do like how she becomes obsessed with knowing the date and the time all the time. But beyond that, there's not enough depth of feeling and memory and grief. The bits that Derting does throw in hurt my heart so much, but there should have been more. Kyra's whole life and softball-playing future evaporated. She remembers it like it was yesterday, but she doesn't mourn it quite as much as I would if I woke up tomorrow and I was a stranger in a life that no longer fit me. If I was tossed out of time. The moments Kyra dwells on the ways her friends have matured and changed compared to her, the milestones she missed, are the ones that hit me most. When she's heartbroken about the desperate, splintered man her dad's become and the stranger her mom's become with her replacement family

But none of that mattered, standing there in the last place where everything had been normal. Where I'd been Kyra Agnew, superstar pitcher, only child, teammate, and unquestionably sixteen.

That's what I wanted more of from the emotional parts from Kyra.

"If I hadn't vanished that night, then I wouldn't have had the chance to know you now. Not like this."

And that is not what I wanted more of. No. I get Tyler's the best thing happening to you now, but don't be grateful your whole life was put through the crapper because it helped you bond with your new love interest. No. That's the silver lining, but it can't outweigh the fact that your old life is over, you missed five years of history and pop culture and personal milestones and your brother being born, and your family has fallen apart and your friends have moved on, all of which are things you should be a teeeensy bit sadder about.

So, yeah. The very beginning is great, and then comes the contemporary-like stretch which is... less successful. But as the mystery and the intrigue start to build, so did my interest. Then things happen! Yay things! Sciencey plotty conspiracy theory things!STRANGE THINGS. Like people dying. Like her suddenly being a lot... stronger than she remembered. And mysterious people following her. And then we get a story. 50% of the way in. It becomes a whole different book after that, but I sadly can't say much, because spoilers. Spoilers you'll figure out quickly, but still. Spoilers.

I did chuckle when the mysterious out of state area code on the phone was... 310. Aka MY area code. Lolll we West Los Angelenos are RIGHT DANGEROUS. BE AFRAID

Yeah I'm dangerous. .. What's dangerous is what I would do to her

It's a pretty engaging read, and at no point was I bored with it, despite the parts that are, objectively, probably a little boring. I wanted to know what was going on, damn it! And that kept me turning the pages very quickly. I liked her love of softball and the way she knows she's sixteen because of the muscle memory and how fit her body is (but oh my god, Kyra, metropolis is not a big word, do not be impressed that a boy pulled out all four mighty syllables).

So, yeah, very mixed bag on that one. And Tyler is adorable. I just wish... well, I wish I didn't gag whenever they kissed, to be honest. Oh well.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Book Haul, or the One With Gilbert Blythe

Guess who was too lazy to film a vlog again this week? Why, Ginger, of course! That dog. She's just incorrigible.

Books received for review this week:


Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley (Thanks, Harlequin!)

Ahhhhhh! So excited for this! It's a f/f romance set during segregation in the South between a white girl and a black girl, and I've been excited for this long before it even had a cover! When i saw it was on Edelweiss, I just had to grab it. One of my most anticipated titles of the fall by far.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Best Kiss Scenes and What Makes Them Great

Last time on Ship Shape: When Opposites Attract

I've been thinking about kiss scenes lately, because when am I not, honestly? Last week I talked about one of my favorite series of all time, The Immortals by Tamora Pierce, and mentioned that one of the reasons i feel so in love with it as a preteen was a certain seminal kiss scene. I even shared a snippet.

So that got me thinking about what my other favorite kiss scenes are, and why they're my favorites. What makes them so great? So special? I've read hundreds of kiss scenes in my life. What is it about these that makes them stick in my mind? And so I basically ended up writing and anaylitical paper on the art of the kiss scene. Do join me. Swoons abound.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
Release date: April 22nd, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (Harper)
Series: Yes, #1 in the Prisoner of Night and Fog series
Source: e-ARC via Edelweiss
Length: 416 pages
Rating: Buy this immediately. A powerful, tense, fascinating historical with a good helping of swoons and amazing detail.


In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her "uncle" Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf's, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.

And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can't stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can't help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she's been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she's always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she's ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Top Ten YA Characters in Need of an Intervention Letter

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
You know those moments where you yell at a book and you really wish the made up people inside it would just listen to you? Like, you can see that the path they are headed down is DOOMED TO MISERY, and if only they'd just heed your words, everything would be fine. You could save them.

I have those moments a lot. So this week, I am going to write intervention letters to some of YA's most deserving candidates.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Review: The Last Bess Kiss by Claire LaZebnik

Review: The Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik
Release date: April 22nd, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Series: No
Source: e-ARC via Edelweiss
Length: 320 pages
Rating: A sweet, funny, pretty wonderful contemporary that mostly succeeds as an Austen adaptation.


Anna Eliot is tired of worrying about what other people think. After all, that was how she lost the only guy she ever really liked, Finn Westbrook. Now, three years after she broke his heart, the one who got away is back in her life.

All Anna wants is a chance to relive their last kiss again (and again and again). But Finn obviously hasn’t forgotten how she treated him, and he’s made it clear he has no interest in having anything to do with her. Anna keeps trying to persuade herself that she doesn’t care about Finn either, but even though they’ve both changed since they first met, deep down she knows he’s the guy for her. Now if only she can get him to believe that, too....

With her signature wit and expertly authentic teen voice, Claire LaZebnik (the author of fan favorites Epic Fail and The Trouble with Flirting) once again breathes new life into a perennially popular love story. Fans of Polly Shulman, Maureen Johnson, and, of course, Jane Austen will love this irresistibly funny and romantic tale of first loves and second chances.

For the record, I am a huge Janeite. I am the girl they make all the Mr. Darcy  mugs and Emma purses and Austenland novels for. If I see a book is in any way tangentially connected to Jane Austen, I will read that book. I'm not sure if that makes me more inclined to love that book or less, but I will certainly not be able to judge that book without bringing my love for Jane Austen into it.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Judging a Book by Its Cover

I'm a really visual person, and I'm also a really shallow person, which means sometimes I judge books entirely on their covers. It's hard not to. It's the first think you know about a book, meant to convey the tone or message or theme of the words inside. You're sort of meant to judge them, but sometimes that doesn't really work out.

I was putting together this post when I came across the same topic on my friend Rachel's blog (great minds, apparently). Rachel's post talked about how pretty covers don't always equal pretty books, and how much she hates being wrong. And I totally relate. You should definitely go check out her post to see the books she judged unfairly and which books DUPED her with their pretty promises.

Here's a sampling of books I picked up mostly for their covers, sometimes for good and sometimes for bad.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Book Haul, or the One With Maleficent and the New Releases

I was too lazy to do a vlog this week, but I've been spending my birthday money like a crazy person, so I've got tons of gorgeous books to show off! I've had Maleficent guard them just in case. No one steals my birthday books.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Review: To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

Review: To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
Release date: April 15th, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Series: Yes, #1 in the To All the Boys I've Loved Before duologoy
Source: Purchased
Length: 360 pages
Rating: A two-sitting, one evening read! Sisters, first love, second love, and lots of cuteness.


Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control in this heartfelt novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them... all at once?

Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren't love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she's written. One for every boy she's ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

This was my first Jenny Han book, and I have to say, I really adored it. It wasn't at all what I was expecting. In fact, I'd say the synopsis is quite misleading. It's less about her secret crushes becoming un-secret and more about her fake dating one of her past crushes, which is, yes, caused by the letter sending. But mostly this book is about sisterhood, what love really is, and Lara Jean's really awesome wardrobe, personality, and baking skills.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Literary PSA: The Immortals by Tamora Pierce

 Long ago I decided to start a NEW THING: Literary Public Service Announcements. Essentially, I'm going to pimp a book that I read before I started blogging, but that I want to foist upon the world due to its high levels of sheer awesomeness for the good of the public and all that jazz. Instead of me just telling people over and over that they should read something "JUST BECAUSE!!!1!", I've decided to actually explain in a more eloquent fashion just why my favorite books are my favorites.

Last time on Literary Public Service Announcements: Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

And now this week's PSA:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review: The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler

Review: The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler
Release date: April 15th, 2014
Publisher: Kathy Dawson (Penguin)
Series: #1 in the Forbidden Library series
Source: Publisher
Length: 373 pages
Rating: A charming and inventive middle grade fantasy.


The Forbidden Library kicks off a brand new classic fantasy series perfect for fans of Coraline, Inkheart, and The Books of Elsewhere

Alice always thought fairy tales had happy endings. That--along with everything else--changed the day she met her first fairy

When Alice's father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent to live with her uncle Geryon--an uncle she's never heard of and knows nothing about. He lives in an enormous manor with a massive library that is off-limits to Alice. But then she meets a talking cat. And even for a rule-follower, when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it's hard to resist. Especially if you're a reader to begin with. Soon Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, and the only way out is to defeat the creature imprisoned within.

It seems her uncle is more than he says he is. But then so is Alice.

So, I enjoyed that far more than I ever expected to. Not that I expected to dislike it, since the concept is so totally up my alley. It's about the magic and transportative abilities of books, but also the danger and the power. I adore the idea of Readers, powerful and power-hungry humans with the ability to step into books and conquer and corrall the creatures within. I love the idea of a vast, basically endless library full of magic and books and magic nbooks. I love books about books! And this book is, like, a book that's about books that's about books that have other books in them. It's a gigantic love letter/book to books. Which is hard to resist, honestly.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Top Ten Bookish Things (That Aren't Books) That I'd Like To Own

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
I LOOOOOVE bookish accessories, so much so that I was completely incapable of sticking to anywhere near ten. While the number one thing I need is BOOKSHELVES (I don't currently have any and instead have a very precious wall of three foot high stacks, and it's getting a bit desperate), here's a handful of the bookish things I'd dearly love to own.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Baking the Books: Percy Jackson Cupcakes

Welcome to Baking the Books, where I bake things inspired by my favorite novels! Since I do a lot of reading and a lot of baking, it was only a matter of time before the two things overlapped. It's just part of my evil plot to get books involved in every single aspect of my life.

Last time on Baking the Books: Defiance by C.J. Redwine Sticky Buns

It's been a while since I Baked any Books, mostly because I haven't had any time or any really good ideas. But then I binge-read the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan, and to say I became somewhat obsessed would be an understatement. I haven't read that many words all in a row in a looooong time. Anyway, one of my favorite elements of the series is Percy's relationship with his mom. And one of the things that most shows off their bond is their insistence that there is such a thing as blue food, and the fact that they go out of their way to eat it.

So I made Percy some blue cupcakes!

Review: The Guard by Kiera Cass

Review: The Guard by Kiera Cass
Release date: February 4th, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Series: #2.5 in The Selection series
Source: Library
Length: 64 pages
Rating: No, seriously, why do I hate myself?


Before America Singer met Prince Maxon . . .
Before she entered the Selection . . .
She was in love with a boy named Aspen Leger.

Don't miss this digital original novella set in the captivating world of Kiera Cass's #1 New York Times bestselling Selection trilogy. This brand new 64-page story begins just after the group of Selected girls is narrowed down to the Elite and is told from Aspen's point of view. The Guard also features a teaser to The One, the thrilling conclusion to The Selection trilogy.

My reviews of  | The Selection | The Prince | The Elite |

Full disclosure: I went into this novella fully expecting to hate it. And... SURPRISE! I hated it! It's nice when the universe makes sense.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

#RBWL: Reader Blogger Wishlist Take Three!

RBWL copy

It's back! #RBWL is back! For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, #RBWL is a Twitter hashtag my friend Shae at Shae Has Left the Room came up with last year. There's a very popular hashtag that literary agents and publishing peeps use called #MSWL, or manuscript wishlist, in which they tweet the things they'd like to see in manuscripts, or like the dream stories they'd like to receive.

Shae spun off of that and created a wishlist for readers and bloggers--hence, #RBWL. It was a huge success, not only one, but twice. So Shae is bringing it back, and I'm helping out, because I like making demands of the bookish universe every now and then.

Tomorrow, at 12 pm Eastern Time, 9 am Pacific Time, we'll begin tweeting about things we'd like to see in books under the hashtag #RBWL. We'll be discussing storylines, plots, concepts, and anything else you can think of.

If you want to see some examples, check out my wrap-up of the first #RBWL.

Please make sure to also check out Shae's post, where she goes into detail about the kind of tweets we don't want to see. Basically, don't spam the hashtag with your book. DO make recommendations to a specific tweeter if you have one that fits their wishlist! Suppose someone wants... um... a lesbian pirate story set in the future. (Oh my god, I want that.) And you're like, "Holy crap! I know a book like that! Hey, person who just tweeted that, have you ever read Lesbian Pirate Story? It totally fits your #RBWL!"

This hashtag is tonssss of fun, and you should definitely join us on Twitter tomorrow at 12 pm ET/ 9 am. I'll be tweeting up a storm, coffee in hand. If you want more examples of tweets, check out the RBWL tumblr!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Book Haul, or the One With the Pretty Typography

Small haul this week, but one of my favorites! Lot's of very pretty, very strokeable books. Watch to see which Disney character I accidentally quote, which author I get all Swimfan over, and to hear my dog make well-timed sound effect. Oh, and I almost knock my book stacks over again.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Bookish Heroines

It's no surprise I like books. (Hi. Book blogger.)

I dearly love reading about heroes and heroines in books who are also bookish, because it's cool to see your traits and obsessions reflected in the people you read about. So your bookishness is reflected in the bookishness of the bookish people in your books. It's like bookception.

Anyway, sometimes I'm disapointed with how bookish heroines are portrayed or characterized, because they can be cliche, or I don't really believe they like books, or they just have crap taste and I judge them because I'm very grown up. So I figured I'd do a round up of some of the bookish heroines I've noticed in YA.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Feeling En-Titled: Blood Daughter of the Shadow City of Stars and Fire

Semantic satiation, or semantic saturation, is accoridng to Wikipedia, "is a psychological phenomenon in which repetition causes a word or phrase to temporarily lose meaning to the listener, who then processes the speech as repeated meaningless sounds." In other, less fancy words, it's when words stop sounding like words because you hear them so much. This happened to me once with the word "Harry" while I was reading a Harry Potter book, which is a problem.

I've noticed that there are certain words that are common title words. They're atmospheric and lovely and evoke a certain something, so they get reused a bunch. Just for fun, I figured I'd gather together some of the most common title words and see how many titles I could gather for them. THis is NOT a knock on these books, their authors, or even these titles; some of these are my favorite books and titles. This is all in good fun, and also so we can all achieve collective semantic satiation.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Getting to Know You (Plus a Birthday Giveaway!)

Getting to know alll abooooout youuuu...

HIIIIII IT'S MY BRITHDAY TODAY. I am 23 years old, which is one of those weird in between birthdays that don't actually mean anything, other than the fact that I will spend the next eleven month of my life saying my own age wrong. AGE IS HARD. Anyway, I've been meaning to put together a personal, "Getting to Know You" kind of post so you can... well, get to know me beyond my opinions on shipping (highest form of being) and instalove (*hisses*).

Random Facts About Moi, Gillian, the Person Who Writes the Wrongs:

Monday, April 7, 2014

Review: House of Ivy and Sorrow by Natalie Whipple

Review: House of Ivy and Sorrow by Natalie Whipple
Release date: April 15, 2014
 Publisher: HarperTeen
Series: No
Source: e-ARC via Edelweiss
Length:  352 pages
Rating: Well... um... the cover's pretty?


Josephine Hemlock has spent the last 10 years hiding from the Curse that killed her mother. But when a mysterious man arrives at her ivy-covered, magic-fortified home, it’s clear her mother’s killer has finally come to destroy the rest of the Hemlock bloodline. Before Jo can even think about fighting back, she must figure out who she’s fighting in the first place. The more truth Jo uncovers, the deeper she falls into witchcraft darker than she ever imagined. Trapped and running out of time, she begins to wonder if the very Curse that killed her mother is the only way to save everyone she loves.

Well, that book happened. Sadly, I can't drum up any more enthusiasm for this book beyond that. It's not the worst book I've ever read--it's not even the worst book I've read this week--but there doesn't seem to be much brewing beneath the surface, which is a real shame when you're dealing with something as rich as witches.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Book Haul Vlog, or the One With the First of the Birthday Books

I skipped doing a haul last week, which was a VERY BAD MOVE, since now I have a huge amount of books all crammed into one post. Whatever. I never claimed to be a planning genius. But I also didn't know that so many of my blogging friends would be so incredibly awesomely kind and send me so many birthdays gifts. This has been a busy but awesome week (lots of vet visits, boo. BEA press badge approval, yay!).

Friday, April 4, 2014

Review: The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

Review: The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz
Release date: April 1, 2014
 Publisher: Disney*Hyperion
Series: Yes, #1 in The Ring and the Crown series
Source: e-ARC via Netgalley
Length:  384 pages
Rating: Well, THAT was a surprise.


Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the Lily Throne, and Aelwyn Myrddn, bastard daughter of the Mage of England, grew up together. But who will rule, and who will serve?

Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second, Supreme Ruler of the Franco-British Empire. With the help of her Head Merlin, Emrys, Eleanor has maintained her stranglehold on the world's only source of magic. She rules the most powerful empire the world has ever seen.

But even with the aid of Emrys' magic, Eleanor's extended lifespan is nearing its end. The princess must marry and produce an heir or the Empire will be vulnerable to its greatest enemy, Prussia. The two kingdoms must unite to end the war, and the only solution is a match between Marie and Prince Leopold VII, heir to the Prussian throne. But Marie has always loved Gill, her childhood friend and soldier of the Queen's Guard.

Together, Marie and Aelwyn, a powerful magician in her own right, come up with a plan. Aelwyn will take on Marie's face, allowing the princess to escape with Gill and live the quiet life she's always wanted. And Aelwyn will get what she's always dreamed of--the chance to rule. But the court intrigue and hunger for power in Lenoran England run deeper than anyone could imagine. In the end, there is only rule that matters in Eleanor's court: trust no one.

I simply cannot pass up a novel about a magical alternate universe Franco-British Empire, even if it is by the author who wrote possibly the worst book I have ever read. Frozen might have been a fluke, after all. The Ring and the Crown could be totally amazing. The concept certainly is. Perhaps her co-author, her husband, was to blame for most of...whatever Frozen was.

So I began reading with high hopes and an even higher sense of trepidation. After a brief historical introduction came the most HILARIOUS JUXTAPOSITION OF PREFACE QUOTES I HAVE EVER SEEN: Emily Dickinson and Beyonce. (Who run the world? Girls!/Who run this motha? Girls!) I also laughed up a storm at the Lorde quote that prefaces part three.

The first ten pages are all TELL TELL TELL, as the first of our heroines, Aelwyn (ugh that name), informs us in third person mind voice about a whole bunch of things that could have been more masterfully conveyed through dialogue or action. But nothing was horrible yet, and the concept was still so intriguing, and the only thing to make me snarklaugh was the Beyonce quote, so all was well. I wanted to love this book, okay? This concept is my catnip. It's like Melissa de la Cruz was seeing into my soul and writing the book I wanted most. I came in expecting the worst but SINCERELY hoping for the best.

I didn't get the best by any means. But... you might want to sit down for this... I enjoyed the hell out of this book.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

DNF Review: Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

Review: Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong
Release date: April 8, 2014
 Publisher: HarperCollins
Series: Yes, #1 in the Age of Legends series
Source: e-ARC via Edelweiss
Length: 416
Rating: This book is hard work.


In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever.

This book. It's not the worst book I've ever read, but it's kind of a mess, and my head hurt so much trying to piece it all together that I sadly had to throw in the towel.