Friday, February 12, 2016

Having just finished the last book in the Lunar Chronicles series last week -- at least until the graphic novels release, yay! -- and having met Marissa Meyer at her Stars Above signing on Saturday, I'm still kind of riding a Lunar high. I plan on posting about the signing a little later, but I also remembered that Brittany created this tag awhile back to celebrate the release of Winter, and I thought, why not? No time like the present, right? =)

CINDER | The cyborg
a book that’s often misunderstood or underappreciated

Side Effects May Vary

People either hated this book or they loved it. It has one of the most unlikable main characters I've chanced upon in awhile, but I kind of like when I'm not supposed to particularly like a character. It always makes me want to gain a deeper understanding of the character and see why they tend to push people away.

KAI | The prince
a book about royals/royalty

The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1)

I'm re-reading the entire Fire and Thorns series via audio right now, so it's fresh on my mind. I love how Elisa is raised up from a nobody princess to the queen of a land that is not her own...and that she makes it her own. She will do whatever it takes for her people, and she sacrifices a lot in the process.

ADRI | The evil stepmother
a book with a horrible/cringe-worthy parent

A Madness So Discreet

The vileness of Grace's father in this story knows no end. It makes me sick just thinking of what he did to her and would have potentially done to her sister.

IKO | The spunky sidekick
a book with your favorite happy-go-lucky character


Levi FOREVER! He was the perfect counterpart to Cath's serious side, and they made the most adorable couple!

SCARLET | The rescuer
a book with a character on a mission

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn, #1)

Shazi is on a mission to end Khalid's reign of terror, and though it doesn't go exactly as planned, she still accomplishes what she set out to do. Man, I can't WAIT for the sequel!

WOLF | The fighter
a book with a brutal fight (with words or fists)

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4)

That fight between Manon Blackbeak and Aelin was phenomenal and everything I'd hoped it would be: fierce, bloody and death-defying.

LEVANA | The villain
a book with the absolute worst villan

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)

The Dane twins just generally made my blood run cold whenever they were on the page. I like my villains at least a tiny bit sympathetic, thankyouverymuch.

THORNE | The rascal
a book with the biggest schmoozer

The Demon King (Seven Realms, #1)

I just adored the silver-tongued Han from the Seven Realms series. He continuously gets himself into -- and then back out of -- scrape after scrape.

CRESS | The hacker
a book about technology, or sci-fi

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)

Illuminae was my favorite book last year. I've already read it twice and am considering another re-read very soon. Kady is the hacking queen. She even hacks into one spaceship while stationed on another. I bow down to her prowess!

ERLAND | The doctor
a book with an illness or revolving around medical issues

Me Before You (Me Before You, #1)

I don't really ever intend to read books that feature illness or medical issues because they inevitably lead to the sads, but I actually really enjoyed this one when I listened to the audiobook recently. It's tragically sad but ultimately hopeful.

WINTER | The unsound mind
a book with the craziest character you’ve ever read

Wild Awake

This book epitomizes #quietYA, but it also features one of the craziest characters I've ever met in YA. Wild Awake was kind of a wild ride that took a detour through Crazytown, and Kiri, the main character, is the mayor.

JACIN | The soldier
a book with a military theme

Rites of Passage

I loved this book about a girl fighting to attend a boys' military academy. I can't believe I ever thought it wouldn't be my kind of book.

That was too fun! I'm not tagging anyone because I don't know who's already done this tag since it's been around for a few months, but if you too are still riding a Lunar high, feel free to participate, too! And look for my #StarsAbove tour post soon!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Title: The Skylighter
Author: Becky Wallace
Series: The Keepers' Chronicles, book #2
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: March 22, 2016
Source: from publisher via Edelweiss
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Johanna and Rafi are in a race against time to save their country before a power-mad Keeper destroys everything they hold dear in the “enthralling magical world” (Cinda Williams Chima, author of The Heir Chronicles) introduced in The Storyspinner.

As the last of the royal line, Johanna is the only person who can heal a magical breach in the wall that separates her kingdom of Santarem from the land of the Keepers, legendary men and women who wield elemental magic. The barrier protects Santarem from those Keepers who might try to take power over mere humans…Keepers who are determined to stop Johanna and seize the wall’s power for themselves.

And they’re not the only ones. As the duchys of Santarem descend into war over the throne, Johanna relies more than ever on the advice of her handsome companion, Lord Rafael DeSilva. But Rafi is a duke too, and his people come first. As their friendship progresses into the beginnings of a tender relationship, Johanna must wonder: is Rafi looking out for her happiness, or does he want the throne for himself?

With war on the horizon, Johanna and Rafi dodge treacherous dukes and Keeper assassins as they race to through the countryside, determined to strengthen the wall before it’s too late…even if it means sacrificing their happiness for the sake of their world.

What a great ending! I didn't realize this was a duology until I was getting close to the end and it seemed like the story was actually going to wrap up in this book, so I checked and yep, this is the conclusion. Hallelujah for duologies! I love when an author keeps their story concise and clean and doesn't try to stretch it for three books when two will more than suffice.

I'm not usually a big fan of sooo many alternating perspectives, but in this duet, it works, and it does so beautifully. It's not like seeing situations from more than one point-of-view. Rather, each vantage point allows the reader to see the full story, not just what's happening in one locale but all over the country, from the sea to the wall protecting Santarem from the Keepers. Each perspective contains vital information and introspection, resulting in a fuller, more complete story. I only wish we'd have gotten to see Maribelle's point-of-view, though I understand why we couldn't.

With all of these perspectives, one would think that betrayal and deceit would be easier to detect, but that's not necessarily the case. Ulterior motives are hard to guess and you just never know what someone might be willing to sacrifice, even if it's for the greater good. I loved how unpredictable this story was, how it constantly left me unsure of whom to trust.

I think the aspect that I enjoyed the most, though, was that every time I thought this story was about to get all tropey on me, it went in the opposite direction, leaving me surprised and elated. For instance, when a situation arises where the love interest might push the heroine away for her own safety/best interest, he does something else entirely. Time and again I would cringe, thinking I knew exactly what the characters were going to do, yet they'd surprise me at nearly every turn.

I do recommend re-reading The Storyspinner before picking up this sequel/final book. The Skylighter picks up right where the first book left off, but with all of the perspectives, you're bound to need a refresher. There were definitely details I would have missed, had I not re-read the previous book first. Additionally, I think this series would be great on audio, with a full cast performing it, simply because of all of those points of view.

I'm very satisfied with this conclusion. So very satisfied. The pacing was perfect, the writing was spectacular, and the story was exceptional. I loved The Storyspinner when I read it last year, and I'm so happy that these characters got the ending they deserved.

GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

In second grade, Becky Wallace had to sit in the corner because she refused to write anything besides princess stories and fairy tales (and because she talked too much). Her time in isolation gave her plenty of opportunities to dream up the fantasy worlds she's been dabbling with ever since. She was lucky enough to find her own, real-life prince charming. They have four munchkins and live in a happy little town outside Houston, Texas.

Find Becky:

WebsiteTwitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's WoW selection is...

's Pick:

Title: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Series: untitled series, book #1
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: September 27, 2016

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When the mysterious fog of the Ruining crept over the world, the living died and the dead rose. Only the walled city of Viyara was left untouched.

The heirs of the city’s most powerful—and warring—families, Mahyanai Romeo and Juliet Catresou share a love deeper than duty, honor, even life itself. But the magic laid on Juliet at birth compels her to punish the enemies of her clan—and Romeo has just killed her cousin Tybalt. Which means he must die.

Paris Catresou has always wanted to serve his family by guarding Juliet. But when his ward tries to escape her fate, magic goes terribly wrong—killing her and leaving Paris bound to Romeo. If he wants to discover the truth of what happened, Paris must delve deep into the city, ally with his worst enemy . . . and perhaps turn against his own clan.

Mahyanai Runajo just wants to protect her city—but she’s the only one who believes it’s in peril. In her desperate hunt for information, she accidentally pulls Juliet from the mouth of death—and finds herself bound to the bitter, angry girl. Runajo quickly discovers Juliet might be the one person who can help her recover the secret to saving Viyara.

Both pairs will find friendship where they least expect it. Both will find that Viyara holds more secrets and dangers than anyone ever expected. And outside the walls, death is waiting. . . .

Inspired by Romeo and Juliet, Bright Smoke, Cold Fire is a darkly romantic and atmospheric fantasy from acclaimed author Rosamund Hodge.

I am a HUGE fan of Rosamund Hodge's retellings. HUGE fan. So I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I was to see that The Midnight Garden revealed the cover to Hodge's newest foray into YA retellings on Monday -- and that it was a retelling of Romeo and Juliet but from the end of their tale! Oh, and it's a duology! Doesn't it sound absolutely amazing?!? And isn't that cover just stunning?!? I seriously can't remember a time when I've wanted a book more. (Okay, that's not entirely true, but I MUST HAVE IT!!!)

What are you desperately waiting for this Wednesday? Let us know in the comments or share a link to your own WoW post!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Title: Me Before You
Author(s): Jojo Moyes
Narrator(s): Susan Lyons, Anna Bentink, Steven Crossley, Alex Tregear, Andrew Wincott & Owen Lindsay
Series: Me Before You, book #1
Length: 14 hrs 40 mins
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication Date: December 31, 2012
Source: purchased audiobook
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.

I honestly never intended to read this novel. I usually avoid novels that are going to make me overly emotional, and as I'd heard that this book in particular would lead to ugly crying, I planned to pass on it forever. And then I saw the movie trailer last week. And though it did sound like a rather sad story, it also looked adorably sweet.

Because I saw the trailer and the actors who portrayed Will and Lou, I couldn't envision them as anyone else as I listened to the audiobook, but that was quite alright with me since I happen to love Sam Claflin. ;0) The audiobook is narrated by several talented folks, including Steven Crossley, who also happened to narrate another fave of mine, A Darker Shade of Magic. I giggled and laughed my way through a large percentage of this audiobook, but ultimately, I did not cry.

Maybe because I spent the weekend away from this book, the ending affected me less than I expected. Rather than being overcome with grief at what I knew was coming -- as expected last week when I turned off the audio at 90% done so that I wouldn't be sobbing in my car on my way home from work -- I actually felt rather comforted by this book's ending. I'm not one of those people who requires a Happily Ever After to enjoy a novel, though.

That said, I still don't know if I can bring myself to read After You. I haven't even looked up the synopsis because I liked what Me Before You stood for -- the understanding I gained from it -- and I'm not sure I'd want to see what happens after, other than what the epilogue divulged.

About the author:

Jojo Moyes is a British novelist.

Moyes studied at Royal Holloway, University of London. She won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to study journalism at City University and subsequently worked for The Independent for 10 years. In 2001, she became a full time novelist.

Moyes' novel Foreign Fruit won the Romantic Novelists' Association (RNA) Romantic Novel of the Year in 2004.

She is married to journalist Charles Arthur and has three children.

Find Jojo:

WebsiteBlog | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook

Title: A Curious Beginning
Author(s): Deanna Raybourn
Narrator(s): Angele Masters
Series: Veronica Speedwell Mystery, book #1
Length: 10 hrs 51 mins
Publisher: Recorded Books
Publication Date: September 3, 2015
Source: purchased audiobook
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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In her thrilling new series, the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries, returns once more to Victorian England…and introduces intrepid adventuress Veronica Speedwell.

London, 1887. As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own. After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as she is fending off admirers, Veronica wields her butterfly net and a sharpened hatpin with equal aplomb, and with her last connection to England now gone, she intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans, as Veronica discovers when she thwarts her own abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron with ties to her mysterious past. Promising to reveal in time what he knows of the plot against her, the baron offers her temporary sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker—a reclusive natural historian as intriguing as he is bad-tempered. But before the baron can deliver on his tantalizing vow to reveal the secrets he has concealed for decades, he is found murdered. Suddenly Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run from an elusive assailant, wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

Remember how much I loved Love, Lies & Spies? This novel is like that book on steroids. Both books feature a somewhat improper heroine chasing insects (Juliana's hobby was researching ladybugs, while Veronica prefers hunting butterflies), but that is where the similarities end.

Veronica Speedwell is a twenty-something "spinster" who enjoys the occasional dalliance with a young man...just as long as he is not an Englishman. She is a woman of the world, having traveled extensively in her profession as a lepidopterist. When her plans to continue such travels are thwarted, she digs in her heels and busies herself trying to determine who and why someone would be after her, a relative nobody.

I started listening to this audiobook on Friday when I couldn't bring myself to finish the last 10% of Me Before You, and then I didn't want to stop listening. So, I downloaded the ebook from my library and alternated reading and listening as opportunities to do so presented themselves over the weekend. The story flows beautifully, whichever way you choose to experience it, but I very much enjoyed Angele Masters' narrative style. She made Veronica sound every bit as quick-witted and sharp-tongued as she is shown to be in the story, and Stoker came off just as gruff and roguish as expected.

Veronica is feisty and headstrong, making her a veritable match for the enigmatic Stoker. They are thrust in each other's path by a mutual acquaintance, and they are hesitant to trust one another in the beginning. But slowly, they come to terms with their forced partnership and become something akin to allies. All of their questions concerning Veronica's parentage and who killed their shared friend will be answered in due time, but this story presents some of the best twists along the way. And that reveal is a doozy.

A Curious Beginning is not romance-centric but the novel does feature a heroine who is not intimidated by her own sexuality. And although Veronica does seem to have an aversion to Englishmen, I foresee more than a mere dalliance with one Mr. Stoker in her future, one of the many reasons I'm looking forward to future books. ;0)

About the author:

A sixth-generation native Texan, New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a double major in English and history and an emphasis on Shakespearean studies. She taught high school English for three years in San Antonio before leaving education to pursue a career as a novelist. Deanna makes her home in Virginia, where she lives with her husband and daughter.

Find Deanna:

WebsiteTwitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest

Monday, February 8, 2016

My First DNF of 2016: INTO THE DIM

Monday, February 8, 2016 with 2 comments
Title: Into the Dim
Author: Janet B. Taylor
Series: Into the Dim, book #1
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 1, 2016
Source: from publisher via Netgalley
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing. Addictive, romantic, and rich with historical detail, Into the Dim is an Outlander for teens.

Not gonna lie: I had some high expectations for this book, especially as it being lauded as the Outlander for the YA set. It definitely did read a lot younger than I'm used to, even for a young adult novel. But Outlander it was not. For one thing, I was almost 40% into the story before the time travelling became an actuality. And it was very much a planned trip, not a matter of accidentally touching a stone at the wrong time.

I was supposed to be buddy reading this novel with my friend Sabrina, but she was reading ahead and I was getting further behind until she texted me to say that she'd just finished and asked if I just wanted her to tell me what happened. To which my reply was, "Oh, gawd, yes!" I had already been contemplating not finishing the book, but that sealed the deal. And I was glad that I hadn't forced myself to read further once she confirmed every one of my suspicions. I don't DNF often because I like to give a story a fleeting chance to recover my attention, but there was just no way that was going to happen with this book.

Into the Dim was just sooo incredibly predictable. The obvious foreshadowing just left nothing to the imagination, and every time one of my theories came to fruition, I couldn't help but roll my eyes at the inevitability of it all. I'm just looking back at my emails and texts with Sabrina while we were reading and it's almost unbelievable how much of the story we were able to guess beforehand. I don't want to spoil anything so I won't post snippets here, but we basically called it before we even got to the 40% mark.

The main character was tragically unlikable to me. She was self-deprecating, but not in a snarky, mildly amusing way. Hope was home-schooled and socially awkward and just plain annoying. Her ability seemed to plague her constantly in the beginning but was only mentioned later when it was useful to the story. If that's what it's like to have a photographic memory, I will content myself with just having a really, really good memory.

I didn't really get to see much of the romance before I decided not to finish, but from what I discerned in my reading and from what Sabrina related after I stopped, I definitely feel like a love triangle is on the horizon, even if it didn't rear it's ugly head in this first book. One guy is the doomed love interest while the other is the brooding guy who will inevitably step in when doomed guy appears to be out of the picture. Not a fan, especially once Sabrina relayed that there was a kissing scene that involved one of the characters oozing yellow pus. No. Thank. You.

I find that I enjoy time travel novels with the simplest explanation for how the time travelling is accomplished. This was not one of those. Basically, it's described as a big mistake, stumbling on some ley lines in an underground cavern and using a friend's technology to aid in the process. It's more mystical than anything -- the travelers having no ability to control when and where they travel back to, just a computer program that predicts when they should be able to travel back to a certain time and place. And they can only travel back to a specific time and location ONCE, lest they should run into their previous selves from another trip back in time. I guess in those terms, it does seem rather simple. But maybe that's actually my issue with the time travel aspect: it was boring and I pretty much skimmed the passages about it.

As I said, I only read to about 40%, but up to that point, I found the story to read very young and to be incredibly slow-paced. I'm used to time travel novels being intense and shaking things up, but I was more likely to yawn while reading Into the Dim than be at the edge of my seat. I really, really wanted this novel to be good, but it was just too predictable for me to bother continuing. Especially since I have no plans to read the sequel now.

GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

Janet Taylor lives in such a small town in Arkansas that if you happen to sneeze when you pass by, you'll totally miss it. (Cause, you know, you can't sneeze with your eyes open. For real--try it--it's impossible)

Her debut novel, INTO THE DIM (coming 3/1/2016 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) is about a 16 year old girl who travels through time. Totally on purpose and stuff.

She's a reader/fan first and a writer second. She lives with her fantastic husband, two hilarious sons, and Dorda the diabetic dog who won't win any beauty contests, but has a "nice personality".

Find Janet:

WebsiteGoodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Pinterest

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