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Friday, April 22, 2016

BIGGEST BOOKISH LETDOWNS | The Friday Five


For this Friday Five / Book Chat / Tea Chat, we're talking about our biggest bookish letdowns -- those books that you really wanted to like, or had lots of recommendations for, but all of your high hopes were wasted...
Let me know your thoughts and picks in the comments!
And if you have requests or ideas for a future book or tea chat, please share them!



Reviews of the books I mentioned:
Hush, Hush
Carrier of the Mark
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (I did like the rest of the series, though! They were NOT by Seth Graham-Smith...)
Betwixt
Belle and the Beau

Not reviewed, but mentioned in this video:
The Da Vinci Code
Pemberley
Charlotte
Inkheart

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

First Impressions: Amnesia! Spies! The End of the World!

Alright, we're on to the second half of my recent batch of First Impressions! If you missed the first half, I took a look at a trio of upcoming fantasies, and they all seem pretty damn promising. Today we're checking out some things romanciful and quirkiful. Take a listen to my thoughts in the video, find out more about the books below, and let me know YOUR thoughts in the comments!



ABOUT THE BOOKS:

KEEP ME IN MIND by Jaime Reed

Available April 26th!
A girl who doesn't remember. A boy who can't forget her. A wise, witty, and heartbreaking love story for today's YA generation.

Ellia Dawson doesn't recognize the handsome boy who sits in tears by her hospital bed. But he's telling her that he's Liam McPherson, her boyfriend. Boyfriend? Ellia thinks in shock. She has no clue who Liam is, let alone whether or not she once loved him. She remembers her family, her friends, and the fact that she wants to be a fashion designer. But Liam is a big blank in her life.

Meanwhile, Liam is devastated that Ellia, the love of his life, who suffered an accident while they were running together on the beach, has lost her memory. He is desperate to win her back, rebuild what they once had, but Ellia keeps him at an arm's length. She's much more comfortable with a new boy she meets at the hospital, who understands more what she's going through. So Liam begins writing the story of the two of them, piecing together the past in the hopes of having a future with the girl he loves.

Told from alternating perspectives, this is a lyrical, clever, and surprising novel from Jaime Reed.


LOVE, LIES & SPIES by Cindy Anstey

Available April 19th!
Juliana Telford is not your average nineteenth-century young lady. She’s much more interested in researching ladybugs than marriage, fashionable dresses, or dances. So when her father sends her to London for a season, she’s determined not to form any attachments. Instead, she plans to secretly publish their research.

Spencer Northam is not the average young gentleman of leisure he appears. He is actually a spy for the War Office, and is more focused on acing his first mission than meeting eligible ladies. Fortunately, Juliana feels the same, and they agree to pretend to fall for each other. Spencer can finally focus, until he is tasked with observing Juliana’s traveling companions . . . and Juliana herself.


Available as of April 1st in the US; originally published in AUS 2014
Alba loves her life just as it is. She loves living behind the bakery, and waking up in a cloud of sugar and cinnamon. She loves drawing comics and watching bad TV with her friends.

The only problem is she’s overlooked a few teeny details:

Like, the guy she thought long gone has unexpectedly reappeared.
And the boy who has been her best friend since forever has suddenly gone off the rails.
And even her latest comic-book creation is misbehaving.

Also, the world might be ending – which is proving to be awkward.

As Doomsday enthusiasts flock to idyllic Eden Valley, Alba’s life is thrown into chaos. Whatever happens next, it’s the end of the world as she knows it. But when it comes to figuring out her heart, Armageddon might turn out to be the least of her problems.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

First Impressions: Everland, Steeplejack & Nighstruck!

I'm back for the next round of First Impressions, and this one is a two-parter! Today we'll be looking at some reccent & upcoming fantasies that have made their way to me, and tomorrow we've got some historical & contemporary romancifulness, and the end of the world (maybe).
Let me know your thoughts and which YOU most want to read in the comments!



ABOUT THE BOOKS:

STEEPLEJACK by A.J. Hartley

Seventeen-year-old Anglet Sutonga, Ang for short, repairs the chimneys, towers, and spires of Bar-Selehm, the ethnically-diverse industrial capital of a land resembling Victorian South Africa. The city was built on the trade of luxorite, a priceless glowing mineral. When the Beacon, a historical icon made of luxorite, is stolen, it makes the headlines. But no one cares about the murder of Ang's new apprentice, Berrit—except for Josiah Willinghouse, an enigmatic young politician, who offers Ang a job investigating Berrit's death. On top of this, Ang struggles with the responsibility of caring for her sister's newborn child.

As political secrets unfold and racial tensions surrounding the Beacon's theft rise, Ang navigates the constricting traditions of her people, the murderous intentions of her former boss, and the conflicting impulses of a fledgling romance. With no one to help her except a savvy newspaper girl and a kindhearted herder from the savannah, Ang must resolve the mysterious link between Berrit and the missing Beacon before the city is plunged into chaos.



NIGHTSTRUCK by Jenna Black

=It starts with a cry in the night.

Becket, walking her dog one winter evening, fears it’s an abandoned baby left out in the cold. But it is something else—something evil—and it tricks Becket into opening a doorway to another realm, letting a darkness into our world, a corruption that begins transforming Philadelphia into a sinister and menacing version of itself…but only at night.

The changes are subtle at first, causing Becket to doubt her senses and her sanity. But soon the nightmarish truth is impossible to deny: By day, the city is just a city, but at night it literally comes alive with malevolent purpose. Brick and steel become bone, streetlights turn into gallows, and hungry alleys wait to snare mortal victims. Terrified citizens huddle indoors after dusk, as others succumb to the siren song of the night, letting their darker sides run wild.

Once, Becket’s biggest problems were living up to her police commissioner father’s high expectations and a secret crush on her best friend’s boyfriend. Now she must find a way to survive and protect her loved ones…before the darkness takes her as well.



EVERLAND by Wendy Spinale

Forget the story of Peter Pan you know. Because in Everland, the only way to grow up is to survive.

London has been destroyed in a blitz of bombs and disease. The only ones who have survived are children, among them Gwen Darling and her siblings, Joanna and Mikey. They spend their nights scavenging and their days avoiding the ruthless Marauders -- the German Army led by Captain Hanz Otto Oswald Kretschmer.

Unsure if the virus has spread past England's borders but desperate to leave, Captain Hook hunts for a cure, which he thinks can be found in one of the survivors. He and his Marauders stalk the streets snatching children for experimentation. None ever return. Until the day they grab Joanna. As Gwen sets out to save her, she meets a mysterious boy named Pete. Pete offers the assistance of his gang of Lost Boys and the fierce sharpshooter Bella, who have all been living in a city hidden underground. But in a place where help has a steep price and every promise is bound by blood, it will cost Gwen. And are she, Pete, the Lost Boys, and Bella enough to outsmart Captain Hook?



Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video, though these books were sent to me as PR samples, for review consideration (should I choose to).

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas | blog tour

The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas
Get It | Add It
Contemporary Mystery/Thriller. 336 pages
Expected publication: April 19th 2016 by Delacorte
The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become.

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

In the very near future, I have a Book Chat video coming out about the book trend of 2016 -- dark, gritty YA -- and Kara Thomas' The Darkest Corners could not be a more perfect example of that. It's part of a new wave of crime novels that eschews the lurid crime-porn approach of previous thrillers and mysteries, and instead seeks to really dig into the idea of good guys and bad guys, and play with reader perceptions and biases in fascinating and complex ways.

Building upon a familiar scenario (creepy serial killer + pretty young girls = Very Bad Things), and then slowly and steadily picking it apart, The Darkest Corners keeps the reader constantly doubting and guessing (and I say that as someone who is rarely kept guessing).  There are lots of twists and turns, false starts and sudden realizations, but it's all done in a very believable way, with excellent pacing; things are revealed at just the right moment to keep readers on their toes, and to keep the whodunit aspect fresh and present throughout, without ever feeling overdone or cheesy. Though there are a lot of suspects -- and a lot of suspicious things -- it's not really a  "Villain du Jour,"an inexpert attempt to twist things and shock the audience. Instead, it feels very authentic, in the way that communities who are faced with tragedies like this begin to question everyone and everything, and at the same time, turn a blind eye to any answers that hit a little too close to home.

Thomas pulls in real-life crime scenarios, grounding the story even more in something the audience can relate to and recognize (the Casey Anthony case, for example), and spins those real life influences into just-distorted-enough versions to hold up a mirror and reflect the reader's biases back at them; each successive reveal or piece of doubt makes the reader examine how easily things can be distorted, and how biases and extraneous circumstances can override impartial judgement and justice. And -- as the forward from editor Krista Marino points out -- how unreliable eyewitness accounts and memory can be, especially when the damning evidence is gathered through the eyes of a child.

What really elevates the story for me, though, is that it doesn't just rest on being an intriguing mystery, well-told, but also adds in fantastic depth through the character of  Tessa, her interactions (or lack thereof) with the people in her life, and the brokenness that so many of the characters deal with that's not even necessarily related to the murders. Though much of the problems in the book of course are related to the crimes and the feeling of insecurity and helplessness that resulted, there are problems outside of that, too, and Thomas doesn't ignore that. Real world, everyday problems like domestic and substance abuse, bad family situations, poverty, mental illness, etc., are all rolled up into the characters' lives and their responses to the murders, just as they would be in real life -- we none of us have just one problem to deal with, and all other problems don't cease to exist just because one bigger one has come along. Thomas uses this to build a story that feels very real and authentic, and much more related and rooted in reality than just another mystery novel. And all of it together builds tension and anxiety in a really good way -- my heart was actually pounding towards the end.*

I have a LOT more to say on this and a number of other gritty, dark YAs, so make sure to keep an eye out for the next Book Chat discussion (which is coming up in the very soonish). Until then, let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Oh, and PS: Some of you may remember might excitement when I unboxed this book & shared its contents on instagram (seriously, some of the best marketing, ever); well, it gets better! The website for The Darkest Corners contains more of the newspaper clippings I was going on about, and a whole bunch of other stuff, too, making the book a more immersive experience! I would definitely recommend checking it out, if you end up reading this. The attention to detail is just. . . 👌


*I mean, obviously it was pounding. But you know what I mean. It was even poundinger.




Find out what else people are saying about The Darkest Corners on the rest of the blog tour!
3/14 Fresh Fiction
3/15 Jessabella Reads
3/16 Book Addict Confessions
3/17 Hollywood News Source
3/18 Undeniably (Book) Nerdy
3/19 Curling Up with a Good Book
3/20 Out of Time
3/21 Supernatural Snark
3/22 Live to Read, review
3/23 Dark Faerie Tales
3/24 Ex Libris
3/25 Reading with Cupcakes
3/26 The Reader Bee
3/27 The Eater of Books!
3/28 Reading Teen
3/29 Chapter by Chapter
3/30 Winter Haven Books
3/31 Once Upon A Twilight
4/1 Intellectual Recreation
4/2 The Hiding Spot
4/3 Carina Books
4/4 Cover Contessa
4/5 Me Read A Lot
4/6 The Writer Diaries
4/7 Whimsically Yours
4/8 Hook of a Book
4/9 Reading Nook Reviews
4/10 Downright Dystopian
4/11 Such A Novel Idea
4/12 Across the Words
4/13 Reviews From a Bookworm
4/14 Itching For Books
4/15 Waste Paper Prose
4/16 The Irish Banana
4/17 The Book Rat -- you are here!
4/18 YA Reads
4/19 No BS Book Review
4/20 Serenity’s Lovely Reads
4/21 Pandora’s Books

Kara is the author of THE DARKEST CORNERS, coming April 2016 from Random House/Delacorte. She is also the author of the Prep School Confidential series from St. Martin's Griffin under the pen name Kara Taylor. Kara has written for Warner Brothers Television and currently writes full-time on Long Island, where she lives with her husband and rescue cat.

Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book as part of the official blog tour, in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Friday Face Off: The Wrath & the Dawn


Renee Ahdieh's The Wrath and the Dawn has been all over the blogosphere for some time now, and has been high on my list of to-gets for a roughly equal amount of time -- and that is due in no small part to the cover. Cliched admonitions aside, I absolutely do judge a book by its cover, and you do too. That is why we're all gathered here today, after all...
With the sequel, The Rose and the Dagger, set to come out soon, TWATD has been all over my instagram feed (again), because the paperback has just been released -- along with a cover change-up. The lovely red Moroccan-ish overlay has been dropped to reveal the model beneath, along with a bumped up font (and the most gorgeous ampersand!). Now, as far as I can tell, this is a paperback-only change; the hardcover of TRATD appears to follow the style of the the first book's hardcover, and I would imagine that means the paperback version will then follow suit and ditch the overlay in favor of a model-centric cover, too. (At least, the only versions shown on Goodreads give this impression, as there is no "updated" model cover replacing the traditional cover.)
And frankly, I'm all for having version-specific changes: it allows the book to target different audiences while still allowing those of us who are anal to have matching sets (and those of us who are shallow, shallow book-cover-judgers to choose the set we find prettiest).
But the question still remains, which do we prefer. Which would you reach for, and/or which style would you most want to have a completed set of? Which one draws you in?
Which one did it better?
(And do you like the idea of consistent -- but different -- versions of the same book? 

Hardcover on the left, Paperback on the right


Let me know your thoughts in the comments! And if you're curious about the results of our last FFO, not a lot of you weighed in (you should! my bad for forgetting to tweet it out...), but the UK version of Laini Taylor's Strange the Dreamer managed to pull out a win (though as Beth pointed out, it's a little Silence of the Lambs-y). I think it's really going to come down to what they look like in person, though, because I have a feeling that gilt-stamped US version is going to be a STUNNER in person.
(You can still go check it out and give your opinion, FYI. I'm really curious about people's impressions of this one.)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Upping My Audiobook Game

It seems like I've been saying this for ages now, but I really want to try to get into audiobooks more. There was a time when I was commuting, and it was kind of the perfect solution, but now that I don't commute anymore, all of the (potentially amazing) audiobooks I have hanging out in my Audible account are just sitting there, waiting  p  a  t  i  e  n  t  l  y  for me to read them. (Or "read" them, I guess!)

So when I got an email a few days ago, informing me that there was just an audiobook released of Emma Thompson (Emma Thompson!!) narrating Henry James' The Turn of the Screw (something I've been meaning to read for ages), it just once again drove home the fact that I really need to listen to more audiobooks.
(There's a proud tradition of amazing celebs reading classics, btw. Case in point, I have Anne Hathaway reading The Wizard of Oz and Alan Cumming & Tim Curry reading Dracula in my neglected Audible account. And there are so many more, all of which I want to get my hands on, but starting with The Turn of the Screw, because Emma Thompson? She. Is. Life.)


And as I said, I have some kickass audiobooks languishing in my account. I mean, I already "read" Exquisite Captive and Austentatious, and they were both amazingly narrated, but YOU GUYS: I also have audiobook copies of A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab, and Yes Please by Amy freaking Poehler, narrated by Amy freaking Poehler and a whole host of People Whose Names You'd Recognize, and okay, I kind of can't believe I haven't listened to it yet. What is wrong with me?

So I've been brainstorming ways to get more audiobookage into my life.
  1. An obvious one (and one that would be the most beneficial, I'd imagine) is listening to them at the gym, on walks with Marley, or any time generally exercise-y things are going on.

     And hey, if the book is really good, this would have the added benefit of making me actually want to go to the gym.  So this is a thing I should be doing. Besides, at my gym, I always seem to end up in front of the TV that has Food Network playing, and that just seems wrong.

  2. Also, cleaning is a thing I should do more of, and audiobooks could help with that.

    I REALLY need to heed my own advice on this one, because when I was listening to Austentatious, I found myself looking for more chores to do around the house, because I didn't want to stop listening yet, and just sitting on my bed doing nothing while I listened just felt weird. I'm a multi-tasker, people! But a cleaner, I am not, so I need all the help I can get with that one...

  3. And three? Well, this is where I draw a blank, and where you come in.

    There has to be more to my audiobook routine than just a reward for myself for doing boring stuff I don't want to do (though it is a really great reward, and surprisingly effectual!). So, I'm curious, for all of you audiobookers: when and where do YOU listen to audiobooks? Are you a zone out in the bath kind of listener? (Side note: my books would appreciate the switch to audio, seeing how many have been dropped in the tub over the years.) Do you listen as you try to fall asleep at night (a grown-ups bedtime story, of sorts)?

    And if you haven't yet tried an audiobook, or have been wanting (like me) to get more into them: What do you think would draw you in? And what's holding you back from trying them out right now?  [Psst! No, seriously, what are you waiting for? You can get a free audiobook of your choice literally right this moment. We could be listening to Yes Please together. Twinning!]
Tell me all your secrets and thoughts in the comments! And if you are into audiobooks, please tell me some good titles to listen to! A good narrator is make or break, so I definitely want to know which ones have won you over!

This post was sponsored by Audible, but for realsies, it's something I've been thinking about a lot lately, especially as we draw closer to National Audiobook Month. If YOU'VE been thinking about audiobooks lately, too, or just want to know what all the hubbub is about, you can get a free one-month trial from Audible, including a book of your choice from over 180,000 titles, and maybe together, we can up our audiobook game! ^_^



This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible. The opinions and text are all mine.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke | excerpt

This book is an interesting one, and one I'm sure is going to garner a LOT of different reactions, so when someone asked me a few weeks ago to share a sneak peek of it, I said ABSOLUTELY.
I'll be giving you my thoughts on it soon, but until then, let me know what you think in the comments!





About WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT by April Genevieve Tucholke
Get It Here
Contemporary Fantastical Thriller, 247 pages
Published March 22nd 2016 by Dial Books
Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.



Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video.

Monday, April 4, 2016

MARCH BOOK HAUL...S. (Yes, hauls.)

There was a lot of bookage in my mail in the month of March, and it's time we started talking about it. First up, an unboxing, a gift, and some surprise goodies!
More on Booked Box and all of the books mentioned below!



THE BOOKS:
In my Booked Box:
Emilie & the Hollow World
No & Me
and lots of swaggish things
Notorious RBG
Uprooted
P&P tote from Evie SEO on Society6
Nightstruck
Steeplejack
Keep Me In Mind

ABOUT BOOKED BOX:
Choose from three different otpions:
The Standard BookedBox, one book hand-picked just for you, one literary magazine, and an assortment of accessories;
The Beefy BookedBox, which switches the lit mag out for a second book!
And the Barebones BookedBox, which includes one hand-picked book without all the extras.
There are also different renewal options & discount pricepoints.
Find out more here: http://www.mybookedbox.com


But that haul was only just the beginning... On to the rest of the March goodies!



THE BOOKS:
Rebel of the Sands  [Review here]
The Darkest Lie
The Darkest Corners
Hippopotamister
Science Comics: Coral Reefs
Science Comics: Dinosaurs
Something New

I'd love to your thoughts on any of these books in the comments, your thoughts if you've read them, etc., and if you want to see excerpts or first impressions of any, please let me know! 


Disclosure: These are NOT sponsored videos. As stated in the videos, many of these books were sent to me for review purposes, or as gifts.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Friday Face Off: Strange the Dreamer


Finally! Finally, I have nothing going on on a Friday, and it is time for the next Friday Face Off. And it's kind of perfect time, actually, because just yesterday, the covers for Laini Taylor's Strange the Dreamer were revealed, and oh boy, they are gorge.
Below you'll find the US and UK versions of the book, respectively (ie US = left, UK = right). Both have a similar theme (blue, moths), but both approach it very differently. And I gotta say, I'm kinda smitten with both. But what about you? Which book would grab your eye in the bookstore? Which would you rather display on your own shelves? For you,
Which one does it better?



ABOUT THE BOOK:
Get It Here | Add To Goodreads
Strange the Dreamer is the story of:

the aftermath of a war between gods and men
a mysterious city stripped of its name
a mythic hero with blood on his hands
a young librarian with a singular dream
a girl every bit as perilous as she is imperiled
alchemy and blood candy, nightmares and godspawn, moths and monsters, friendship and treachery, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep.



(And if you're curious about the results of our last FFO, Throne of Glass won in a landslide.)

Thursday, March 31, 2016

REBEL OF THE SANDS by Alwyn Hamilton | Review

Hey, I know a lot of you were curious about REBEL OF THE SANDS, and after seeing the strong and opposite reactions on Goodreads, I can understand why! But I sorta loved it, so let me tell you all about that... =D




REBEL OF THE SANDS by Alwyn Hamilton
Get It  |  Add It
Fantasy, 314 pages
Published March 8th 2016 by Viking Books for Young Readers
Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic. For humans, it’s an unforgiving place, especially if you’re poor, orphaned, or female.

Amani Al’Hiza is all three. She’s a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can’t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she’s destined to wind up wed or dead.

Then she meets Jin, a rakish foreigner, in a shooting contest, and sees him as the perfect escape route. But though she’s spent years dreaming of leaving Dustwalk, she never imagined she’d gallop away on mythical horse—or that it would take a foreign fugitive to show her the heart of the desert she thought she knew.

Rebel of the Sands reveals what happens when a dream deferred explodes—in the fires of rebellion, of romantic passion, and the all-consuming inferno of a girl finally, at long last, embracing her power.


For some reason, this book doesn't have an embedable excerpt yet, but you can read it directly here.



Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video, but I was given a review copy of the book and invited (not required) to participate in a promo by the publisher to celebrate its release.

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