Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Handful of DNFs: Or, I'm in a MAJOR Reading Rut

Gahhh, I'm in a slump! The dreaded slump. Nothing is grabbing me, nothing is working, I want to read but I don't want to read, I think I'll just watch six hours of Merlin instead and maybe a donut or seventeen, woe is me, alas and alack.

While I most definitely am in a slump (and hope to blog a bit tomorrow about how I think I've managed to break it), I hope the following DNFs were not merely a product of my current cantankerosity. Or maybe I could totally love them on another, less Merlin-y day, and they are tragic casualties of my readerly malaise. Take these DNF reviews with a grain of salt (or seventeen).

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Top Ten 2015 Character Costumes

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
This TTT topic was a Halloween freebie, so I decided to revisit the Halloween topic I did last year: literary character costumes! I chose to focus on characters from 2015 releases, and it was super tough to narrow down my faves (for example, I really wanted to do a Shahrzad from The Wrath and the Dawn costume, but couldn't figure out how to do that not in a culture appropriation-y way, alas) (Here's last year's list, featuring Cath, Lola, Alina, Blue, Celaena, Kami Glass, Cinder, Alanna, Annabeth, and Elizabeth Bennet costumes)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Review: First & Then by Emma Mills

First & Then by Emma Mills
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository
Series: No
Release date: October 13th, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt (Macmillan)
Length: 272 pages
Source: ARC/Purchased
Rating: squee

Devon Tennyson wouldn't change a thing. She's happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon's cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn't want them first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.

Oo, I needed this book. I've was in a bit of a reading slump, the kind where I'm reading six or so books at once and none of them are really grabbing me. I took First & Then and a few other books to my favorite local cafe, planning to grab some caffeine and maybe see if I'd get hooked by any of my reading options. Reader, by the time I let that cafe, two hours later, I'd had three cups of coffee and had finished all of First & Then.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Top Fifteen Wishes I'd Ask the Book Genie to Grant Me

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

It's been so long since I did a TTT but I really liked this week's topic and I HAVE SOME DEMANDS OF THE UNIVERSE THAT MUST BE ANSWERED

well there goes that

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Second Time's a Charm

Sometimes I love an author's second book so much more than their first that it's like two different people wrote them. It doesn't necessarily mean it's the second book the author's written, but it's the second of theirs I've read, and for some mystical magical reason, it hits me in a way the author's other book didn't. I don't know what alchemy and dark magic goes into the subjective business of having a book grab you vs. not, but it's also why I'm always loathe to give up on authors, even if I read a book from them and am like "nahhh." Because you never know if that second book of theirs will be the one that gets you. You never know if that first one was a fluke.

Everybody listen to the wise murder princess

Recently, I've been having a lot of "Second Time's a Charm" experiences, most notably with Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman, a book I totally loved. (Giffily enthusiastic review here.) Taken, Bowman's first book, just wasn't for me. Vengeance Road almost felt like it was written explicitly for me, with its tough, half-Mexican heroine with a heart full of murder, grit, and vengeance, its cute cowboy brothers, its sucker punch plot twists, and its Western setting. I'm really glad I read VR and can wholeheartedly and unequivocally recommend it.

Two rootin' tootin' pistols up

 Then there's Vampire Academy, a series opener I liked but didn't, you know, wet my pants over or anything. I finished it, and a year went by and then I was like, huh, these VA series paperbacks have been redesigned nicely and are a good price. Let's check them out. So I read Frostbite, book two in the series...and fell straight down the rabbit hole. I read the entire series in five or so straight days of madness. And then I launched myself straight into Bloodlines, and now Richelle Mead is an auto-buy author.

This is why I try so hard to separate books from their authors, and why I really like a whole bunch of authors whose books I didn't particularly love. I still love my neighborhood cafe and their excellent sandwiches even though I never order their brownies because they suck, but damn, those sandwiches, man. They are some great sandwiches. (Yay for metaphors that slightly a little bit almost work woo!)


Other "Second Chance Authors" who turned out to be very successful for me:

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter, a DNF for me, and Pawn, which I super enjoyed

Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios, which was meh for me, and I'll Meet You There, WHICH IS SHEER HEARTBREAKING PERFECTION GO READ IT NOW

don't eat me

Have you ever had that "Second Chance Author" experience? Which books were they?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Throne of Glass Book Tag

I was tagged by Alexa of Alexa Loves Books to take part in this Throne of Glass themed tag, who started it along with Hannah of So Obsessed With. If you decide to partake in the tag yourself, make sure to link back to them!

Lysandra | A book with a cover change you loved | Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
I totally love these gorgeous eye covers with their foil jackets, even if I have no idea how they connect to the plot. Who cares? LOOK AT THE SHINY. Honorable mentions: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (and the rest of the series), Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi because OY that original cover and OOO to the replacement

Abraxos | A book that's better on the inside than it looks on the outside | Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger
NGL, I really hate that cover. I think the dude is totally cute and the people actually remember their characters, but I just find that a not appealing cover at all, which is unfair because the book is a delight. Honorable mention: The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (I don't know why I'm not drawn to this cover because I LURVE THE BOOK).

Erilea | A series with great world-building | Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Omg I don't even know where to start with this? I went with Uprooted because I really wanted to shout about it somewhere in this post and it totally fits here. It's a lush Polish-inspired fairy tale with a fully-realized system of magic, culture, and, well, a super creepy murder forest.  Honorable mentions to The Heart of Betrayal because I REALLY thinker it upped the level of that series LIKE WHOA, A Darker Shade of Magic because HOLY SHIT, and Six of Crows because it is actual p e r f e c t i o n

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Review: A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano

A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano
Goodreads Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository
Series: Yes, #1 in the Pram series
Release date: September 1st, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Length: 240 pages
Source: ARC from BEA
Rating: Magical, creepy, and lovely

Pram Bellamy is special--she can talk to ghosts. She doesn't have too many friends amongst the living, but that's all right. She has her books, she has her aunts, and she has her best friend, the ghostly Felix.

Then Pram meets Clarence, a boy from school who has also lost a parent and is looking for answers. Together they arrive at the door of the mysterious Lady Savant, who promises to help. But this spiritualist knows the true nature of Pram's power, and what she has planned is more terrifying than any ghost.

Ooh, I quite enjoyed reading this book. It's precisely the sort of middle grade I was utterly obsessed with when I was middle grader myself: creepy and mystical and morbid and precious, all at once. (Plus there's a little baby MG ship, GO SHIP GO SAIL SHIP SAIL. Middle grade ships just GET to me, I don't know why. Maybe because they're so precious and pure). Perhaps the characters are a touch bland, but it suited the atmosphere and style of this book, which was lovely. Slightly macabre, slightly wondrous, all delightful.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Review in Found Documents: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Goodreads Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository
Series: Yes, #1 in the Illuminae_01 Files
Release date: October 20th, 2015
Publisher: Knops (Random House)
Length: 608 pages
Source: ARC from BEA
Rating: This book is pure evil and you should not look it directly in the eyes

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

SO.  Illuminae is a tremendously atypical read told in a hugely unique format, so I'm going to review this book atypically. It's a visual book structured as a collection of found documents: transcripts, IM chats, hacked intelligence, memos, diaries, etc, detailing the fallout after a remote mining planet is bombed to high heaven and the survivors are forced to evacuate onto three vessels, which are now being chased by the big baddies who bombed them. It's about Kady and Ezra, two teens from that bombed planet who just so happened to break up the morning off their planet's devastation, which leaves them with only a sliiiiiight amount of baggage.

And then. Shit. Starts. To. Get. Crazy.

Honestly, I don't want to tell you anything that happens in this book. Namely that there's SPACE WARCRAFT, AI, romance, pure horror, twists, sucker punches, humor, and heartbreak, and that i ACTUALLY LOST MY DAMN MIND READING THIS BOOK. As you will see momentarily. Because I'm going to review Illuminae in the best way I know how: through images of found documents (aka my liveblogging to Meg of Cuddlebuggery while I was reading Illuminae. Take pity on both her and me.) Spoilers redacted. Obscenities that reveal the true salty sailor raised by salty-mouthed wolves of the sea that I am are NOT redacted.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Twilight? Twhy-not: A Twilight Anniversary Post

I know we could talk about the issues in Twilight until the sparkly vampire cows come home--feminist issues, literary issues, why-did-Stephenie-Meyer-ruin-Jacob-Black issues, etc--and trust me, I have done that. I actually quite enjoy doing that, and why? Because I love Twilight. I did, and I do. And I like to analyze and reevaluate things that I love and that have infeted a part of my soul (for better or for worse, if you want to say. I mean, if I could manage to cut out all the Twilight trivia in my brain I could probably fit a whole new language in there or something).  I like looking at why I love a thing and if I should and then realizing I don't care because I do anyway. And most of all, I love Twilight now because of how much I loved it then, when I discovered this series in 2008, when I was a junior in high school. Aka, Bella Swan's age when she walked into that FATEFUL Biology class.

Oh, Twilight, I just can't quit you. And I never will, because if it weren't for Twilight, well, there would be no YA blogger Gillian. There would probably be no YA obsession.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Review-A-Palooza: Contemporaries

Good Bellamy in heaven, am I behind on reviews. I guess this is what happens when you travel for a month? And have a life? By which I mean, er, watch a lot of Netflix? I mean PARTY. I meant party.

So here are a bunch of books I read in the last two months (possibly more, let's not dwell on things like WHEN and WHERE and JUST HOW LAZY GILLIAN IS, okay) and what I thought of them.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Looking Forward: October

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 on the last day of the month, I 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 now OCTOBER!!!, here are the October releases most tempting me.

Book of the month: