Home  |  Reviews  |  Vlogs  |  Interviews  |  Guest Posts  |  Fairy Tales  |  Jane Austen  |  Memes  |  Policies

Monday, December 26, 2011

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
Fantasy, 354 pages
March 23rd 2010 from EgmontUSA

When Wayland North brings rain to a region that's been dry for over ten years, he's promised anything he'd like as a reward. He chooses the village elder's daughter, sixteen-year-old Sydelle Mirabel, who is a skilled weaver and has an unusual knack for repairing his magical cloaks. Though Sydelle has dreamt of escaping her home, she's hurt that her parents relinquish her so freely and finds herself awed and afraid of the slightly ragtag wizard who is unlike any of the men of magic in the tales she's heard. Still, she is drawn to this mysterious man who is fiercely protective of her and so reluctant to share his own past.

The pair rushes toward the capital, intent to stop an imminent war, pursued by Reuel Dorwan (a dark wizard who has taken a keen interest in Sydelle) and plagued by unusually wild weather. But the sudden earthquakes and freak snowstorms may not be a coincidence. As Sydelle discovers North's dark secret and the reason for his interest in her and learns to master her own mysterious power, it becomes increasingly clear that the fate of the kingdom rests in her fingertips. She will either be a savior, weaving together the frayed bonds between Saldorra and Auster, or the disastrous force that destroys both kingdoms forever.

Brightly Woven was one of those books I found myself inexplicably excited about (there's a wizard named North?!), and as is the case with most books I get randomly excited about, it didn't quite stand up to the pressure.  This isn't to say I didn't like it, because I did.  Just that it suffered a bit from build-up, which left me a little wanting.  But I think most people, especially the younger crowd, would enjoy this, and probably wouldn't be bothered all that much by the little things I just can't let go in life.

 Things sometimes felt incomplete: too easy, too fast, in need of more defined transitions, etc.  It needed a better sense of time, of the length of time, and the struggle and travel.  It would have made everything seem more real and important.  The romance, too, could have been more rounded, with more clearly defined transitions, rather than 'one day we're enemies (or pretending to be) and one day we're soulmates, no discussion needed'.  [At the very least, without getting into spoiler territory, the idea of what Sydelle could do for North should have been addressed more, because that would raise some SERIOUS trust issues.] 

And Sydelle, the main character, was a little petulant and youngish for my tastes. I sometimes wanted to smack her and say "There are more important things!"  This wasn't helped by the fact that throughout the story there was this "Everybody Loves Sydelle" thing going on that had me like NOES.  It's one of my absolute biggest pet peeves to take a girl who's always been "nobody" and then one day have EVERYONE IN THE WORLD seeming to be obsessed with her.  So imagine my surprise when it actually ended up working for the story.  There was actually a purpose and a basis for it, and I ended up giving in and saying, 'Well, okay. Yeah."  (Because I'm eloquent and shit.)

 But the fact is that I did like Sydelle, and I think she does grow throughout their adventure.  And I did like the story, and felt that anything it was lacking in the way of development didn't really hurt it too much.
And, well...I liked North.  Don't know that I should have, but I did.

 It was really enjoyable for the most part, quick and engaging, and I enjoyed the world building quite a bit, despite any flaws.  It had the added (unexpected) bonus of actually surprising me a few times.  There were some revelations that I either wasn't expecting, or were more than I was expecting, which always makes me happy.  I would love to dig in a bit more and explore Sydelle's reaction to one revelation in particular, and though I'm pretty sure this is a stand-alone, I can see room to build it into a series.  And I'm sure with time and experience, any deficiencies (that I forever feel the need to mercilessly pick apart) in the writing will be smoothed over as the very young Alexandra Bracken grows into her story telling scope.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Book Chat: Most Anticipated Books of 2012

Oops!  This was supposed to be posted yesterday, and even though it was all ready to go....well, tis the season for Christmas baking, and after 14 hours of cookies, my brain was non-functioning...
Anywhoodle, here's the last Book Chat of the year, since we'll all be in need of a little holiday break, I think.
This week's topic is your most anticipated books of the coming year.
Can't wait to see what you're all looking forward to, and what I need to add to my to-read list.  (Because it's not long enough, apparently...)

Book Chat will return the first Wednesday of the new year, when the topic will be Best Reads of 2011.
See you then!

Slide by Kill Hathaway: http://amzn.to/vHlLlH
The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova: http://amzn.to/rrj86d
Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood: http://amzn.to/uoXsuj
Velveteen by Daniel Marks: http://www.youtube.com/user/dannymarksya
Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown: http://amzn.to/uGs7dV
Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake: http://amzn.to/vRJGvJ
Endlessly by Kiersten White: http://amzn.to/uanMu5
Magic Under Stone by Jaclyn Dolamore: http://amzn.to/sIl6gZ
Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks: http://amzn.to/vJxJut
Perception by Kim Harrington: http://amzn.to/tMr5Yz

Friday Face Off: Anna Dressed in Blood series vs. Archon

I recently came across the cover for Sabrina Benulis' Archon, and was immediately overcome with that tingling sensation that tells me a good Face Off is in the making... The crazy sideways wind-swept hair reminded me of Anna Dressed in Blood, of course, but what was interesting was that it also reminded me of Anna's sequel, Girl of Nightmares.  Pulling in the red coloring almost makes it seem like a busy little mash-up of the two.   Now, since it's not really fair to pit two against one, I'm just showing you both covers so you see where I'm coming from, but the match is between Anna (the series) and Archon.  And....go!
Which one did it better?


Last Week on FFO:  The US and AUS versions of Cynthia Hand's Hallowed went head to head, with the Australian version (once again) just barely eking out a win.
Winnah --------->

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

TBR Tuesday: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Most of us have books we've bought with all intentions of reading (or maybe just because it was cheap!), only to have them fade away on a shelf or disappear into a stack of books, never to be seen or thought of again.
TBR Tuesday is a way to talk about the books we own but haven't read, see what other people think about them, and help us decide whether to bump it up our list or knock it off completely.
[If you're more a book borrower than a book buyer, you're still welcome to participate with the books that you've been meaning to read and haven't!]

On my TBR

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
Fairy Tales, 247 pages
May 10th 2011 by Feiwel & Friends

Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday. With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful.

I was so freaking excited when the ever-awesome Ksenia sent this to me.  It is an epic fail on my part that I haven't read it yet, HOWEVER, I can promise I will be reading it soon because I have every intention of including it in this year's Fairy Tale Fortnight.  And though the Fortnight isn't until April, there's nothing to say I can't get a jump on my reading now...
Have you guys read this one yet?  If not, have you seen this incredible trailer for it?  Betcha wanna read it now, don't you?

What's on your TBR this week?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

In My Mailbox: 12/18/2011

This is what I got in my mailbox this past week (book-wise, anyway, 'cause I also got some pretty awesome packages of makeup and nail polish. I am such a girl sometimes...)

BIG THANKS to Ksenia @ Polish Outlander, for being awesome, as usual.
In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren.

The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss: http://amzn.to/vM0bXc
The Frenzy by Francesca Lia Block: http://amzn.to/sE17tx
By These Ten Bones by Clare B. Dunkle: http://amzn.to/vPkna2
The Last Living Slut by Roxana Shirazi: http://amzn.to/tyFzlx
Prime Baby by Gene Luen Yang: http://amzn.to/uqGlw3
Zita the Space Girl by Ben Hatke: http://amzn.to/u3JdLf

Let me know what you got in your mailbox this week in the comments, or tell me your thoughts on what I got!  :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Face Off: Hallowed

When Cynthia Hand's Unearthly debuted, we had a Face Off between the US and Australian covers, so I thought it was only fair that we do so once again with the sequel, Hallowed.  In keeping with their design styles so far, each once again has a completely different style of cover with a completely different feel.  So which would you reach for on shelves?  If you've read the series, which do you think suits it better?
Which one did it better?

Last Week on FFO:  Paranormalcy and Endlessly went pretty dress-to-dress, and surprisingly (for me, at least), Endlessly's pop of purple won the day.
Winnah ---------> 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Book Chat: Series vs. Stand-Alone Books

This week's Book Chat is on Series vs. Stand-alone books.  Feel free to weigh in on your preferences, or post about your favorite series and/or stand-alones, and then link up on the linky below so everyone can see what you think!

NEXT WEEK: 2012 Wishlists - new releases for the coming year that you just can't wait to get your hands on (apocalypse or no...).

The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning
Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
Sweetly by Jackson Pearce
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Sunshine by Robin McKinley
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Oh, and everything by Nicholas Sparks, Danielle Steel and John Grisham!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wishlist Wednesday: Magic Under Stone

Magic Under Stone by Jaclyn Dolamore
Fantasy, pages unknown
Expected publication: April 10th 2012 by Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
For star-crossed lovers Nimira and Erris, there can be no happily ever after until Erris is freed from the clockwork form in which his soul is trapped. And so they go in search of the sorcerer Ordorio Valdana, hoping he will know how to grant Erris real life again. When they learn that Valdana has mysteriously vanished, it's not long before Nimira decides to take matters into her own hands—and begins to study the sorcerer's spell books in secret. Yet even as she begins to understand the power and limitations of sorcery, it becomes clear that freeing Erris will bring danger—if not out-and-out war—as factions within the faerie world are prepared to stop at nothing to prevent him from regaining the throne.

Though it was by no means flawless, Jaclyn Dolamore's debut Magic Under Glass won me over swiftly and completely, and I have been waiting with baited breath to get back into Nimira and Erris' world.  Though I'll be sad to see Erris become a real boy (I love my little clockwork man!), I am eager to see what is in store for the young love birds.  I've been wiling away my time with Dolamore's companion novel, Between the Sea and Sky, but now it's time to bring on the Magic!  Well, erm...it will be time, in April... O_O

What's on your wishlist this week?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

TBR Tuesday: Immortal Beloved

Most of us have books we've bought with all intentions of reading (or maybe just because it was cheap!), only to have them fade away on a shelf or disappear into a stack of books, never to be seen or thought of again.
TBR Tuesday is a way to talk about the books we own but haven't read, see what other people think about them, and help us decide whether to bump it up our list or knock it off completely.
[If you're more a book borrower than a book buyer, you're still welcome to participate with the books that you've been meaning to read and haven't!]

On my TBR

Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan
Fantasy, 407 pages
September 7th 2010 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Nastasya has spent the last century living as a spoiled, drugged-out party girl. She feels nothing and cares for no one. But when she witnesses her best friend, a Dark Immortal, torture a human, she realizes something's got to change. She seeks refuge at a rehab for wayward immortals, where she meets the gorgeous, undeniably sexy Reyn, who seems inexplicably linked to her past.
Nastasya finally begins to deal with life, and even feels safe--until the night she learns that someone wants her dead.

Cate Tiernan, author of the popular Sweep series, returns with an engaging story of a timeless struggle and inescapable romance, the first book in a stunning new fantasy trilogy.

I can't quite remember where I got this - I think it might have been one of the many ALA ARCs.  Regardless, I remember being excited because it had the same title as this movie about Beethoven that I love, but beyond that I didn't know much about it, and it kind of slid to the bottom of the stack.  Now, I'm realizing it's by the same author as the popular Sweep series, which one of my favorite booksellers has tried to push on me numerous times... And I'm pretty sure I saw a good review of this from someone I trust, though I can't remember who. (Allison?  Was it you?)  So yeah, maybe I need to reevaluate and get around to picking this one up.
Anywho, if you've read this, let me know what you think!

Side note: I am not loving this cover.  This one, however...
I could be convinced. ;) 

What's on your TBR this week?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cat O' Nine Tails by Patricia Leever

Cat O' Nine Tails by Patricia Leever
Historical Romance, 206 pages
August 30th 2011 from Omnific Publishing

When Orrin and his brother Kale are hired by Queen Winifred to hunt down Aeron and her band of miscreants, Orrin never dreamed he’d fall in love with the beautiful she pirate, or the kind, accepting people of her island hideaway. As they grow closer, Aeron reveals her jaded past with Queen Winifred to Orrin; he doesn’t hesitate to offer his help to bring Winifred’s evil reign to an end. Aeron and Orrin soon discover that the strongest weapon in their combined arsenal is the love they have for each other.

I really wasn't sure what I was going to get with this book, or whether I should even accept a copy; I had been in this crazy-busy mode and probably shouldn't have been accepting anything, on top of which I normally shy away from lesser known, wildcard publishers.  But for whatever reason, something about this grabbed me (pirates! pretty!) and I caved.  And though there were certainly times I regretted that, I ended up glad I did.
But it's strange.

I felt like I'd started the story in the middle. The romance was SO immediate and completely head-over, and I just couldn't see where it was coming from.  It was worse than the insta-love you get in most YA PNR or adult bodice ripper, which is saying something.  It felt really silly, and baseless even though I think Leever did try to make it romantic and steamy and lovey.  But it so very desperately needed more build up, more connections and history and smoldering.  Orrin and Aeron (don't get me started on that little bit of tongue-twisting confusion) are in love within a day, and it seems it was based on the idea of each other  - and compatible insatiable sexual appetites, of course.  This is something that always irritates me without fail, but it wasn't just the insta-love that made it feel as if the first 1/2 of my book had just somehow fell out before I got a chance to read it.  I'm all for plunging the reader in and avoiding info-dumping, but you've still got to give a full story.  And when the book is only 200 pages, there's really no excuse not to flesh it out a bit.

All of that, and some copious amounts of the eye-rolling that comes with insta-love, had me wanting and intending to put the book down pretty early on.    But it's so short and such a quick read that I would tell myself, "I'll give it X more pages and then I'm done."  Only I wouldn't be.  Despite the eye-rollingness, there's something about this that is just compulsively readable.  Eventually the urge to put it down just went away, and though the eye-rolling never completely stopped (thanks, Kale!), I couldn't help but just give in and enjoy the damn thing.

And it was a good thing, because it did have some unexpected plot points to it that balanced or even outweighed the twoowuv4eva.  I mean, it had some plot holes, too, and some things that Analytical-Misty would love to question - but in a book like this (historical pirate romance for godssake), you just have to let some things go. The thing is, Analytical-Misty can be silenced.  Sometimes you just have to turn off that part of you and enjoy something just for the hell of it.  And it's a good pirate story, for those who like that sort of thing.  There needed to be a better sense of time and timing in more than just the romance (how fast does one really travel by seas?), but when I just let go of that part that keeps saying "But wait - but what about - well, how could -" then it's just a fun book with characters I kinda wanted to hate but just couldn't.

One of the things I liked best (and worst, at the same time) was one of the surprising bits that made me glad I'd hung on - I loved how Queen Winifred was worked into the story.  Granted, she was a bit over the top for my liking.  Okay "a bit over the top" is the understatement of the year, however, she was reminiscent of Elizabeth Bathory, who was a real over the top whackjob, so it sort of worked.  It's really interesting and rare to have a female villain, especially one with her...proclivities, and that made it so much more dark and enjoyable and unexpected.  Despite any early hesitancy on my part, the Big Pirate Fight at the end coupled with Crazy Queen W. made the 200 pages worth it.  And, you know, the healthy dose of smut.

All in all, a quick, fun read for fans of the genre.

Also, Patricia Leever has the most adorable author picture ------>

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Face Off: Paranormalcy v. Endlessly

We had a mini Face Off of sorts between Paranormalcy and its sequel, Supernaturally during my Wishlist Wednesday for Supernaturally.  Paranormalcy came out the clear winner - we all loved that pop pf pink. (Though I do have to say, the subtleties of the monochromatic Supernaturally cover have grown on me, and are much lovelier in person).  But it seems only fitting that Paranormalcy get one last chance to defend it's spot as #1 amongst Kiersten White's books about the hilariously not normal Evie.  And so I give you, the Face Off between Paranormalcy and the final book in the series, Endlessly:
Which one did it better?
Note: write-in votes for Supernaturally are acceptable. :)

My thoughts: I gotta give it up to Paranormalcy. For me this cover is still holding strong, and is pretty hard to beat, even if you do add in a rocking purple crepe dress.  Evie's face on Endlessly looks turned, weirdly cocked to one side of her head, which looks unnatural and makes me feel a little uncomfortable.  And though I'm sure that the subtleties of the monochrome will once again be prettier in person, that pop of pink on gray is just as pretty onscreen...

Last Week on FFO:  Cat Patrick's Forgotten face off against Brain James' Life is But a Dream, and for most of you the winner was clear... While I may favor the dreamy, slightly warped Forgotten, nearly all of you preferred the more "stark and painful" cover for Life is But a Dream.
Winnah ---------->

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Book Chat: Cover Fails

This week's Book Chat is on "cover fails' - those books that you just can't help but judging by their cover, and that you would really love to give a makeover.  This one, guys...this one is potentially a really fun topic, so I hope you guys have fun with it like I did, and I can't wait to hear your thoughts, whether you blog them, vlog them, or just comment below.  (Tumblr pictures would be really fun, too!)

If you do participate, make sure to link up your post below so everyone can find it. :)

NEXT WEEK: Series vs. Stand-alone books

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wishlist Wednesday: Friends With Boys

Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks
Graphic Novel, 224 pages
Expected publication: February 28th 2012 by First Second

A coming-of-age tale with a spooky twist!

Maggie McKay hardly knows what to do with herself. After an idyllic childhood of homeschooling with her mother and rough-housing with her older brothers, it’s time for Maggie to face the outside world, all on her own. But that means facing high school first. And it also means solving the mystery of the melancholy ghost who has silently followed Maggie throughout her entire life. Maybe it even means making a new friend—one who isn’t one of her brothers.

Funny, surprising, and tender, Friends with Boys is a pitch perfect YA graphic novel full of spooky supernatural fun.

I want everything about this.  From this snippets I've seen, and this darling cover, I just know I'm going to love the art direction, and the story sounds great.  [I almost put "to die for" but that was just a little too sickeningly punny...]  But yeah, I'm looking forward to this one for sure, AND it's from the people who published Anya's Ghost.  And y'all know how I feel about Anya's Ghost, right?  I mean, I talk about it all. the. time.
So here's to hoping for another one like Anya's Ghost to kick off the new year!

What's on your wishlist this week?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

TBR Tuesday: Divergent

Most of us have books we've bought with all intentions of reading (or maybe just because it was cheap!), only to have them fade away on a shelf or disappear into a stack of books, never to be seen or thought of again.
TBR Tuesday is a way to talk about the books we own but haven't read, see what other people think about them, and help us decide whether to bump it up our list or knock it off completely.
[If you're more a book borrower than a book buyer, you're still welcome to participate with the books that you've been meaning to read and haven't!]

On my TBR

Divergent by Veronica Roth
Dystopia, 489 pages
May 3rd 2011 by HarperCollins Children's Books

Beatrice "Tris" Prior has reached the fateful age of sixteen, the stage at which teenagers in Veronica Roth's dystopian Chicago must select which of five factions to join for life. Each faction represents a virtue: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. To the surprise of herself and her selfless Abnegation family, she chooses Dauntless, the path of courage. Her choice exposes her to the demanding, violent initiation rites of this group, but it also threatens to expose a personal secret that could place her in mortal danger. Veronica Roth's young adult Divergent trilogy launches with a captivating adventure about love and loyalty playing out under most extreme circumstances.

This was errrverywhere for awhile, and I bought it on the insane hype.  Haven't read it yet, for a number of reasons - 1) time, 2) what if it doesn't live up to the hype, and 3) it's thick y'all!  But I do want to read it soon, just because it did make everyone foam at the mouth, and all.
Have you read it?  What do you think - hype earned or no?

What's lurking in your TBR mountain this week?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

In My Mailbox: 12/4/11

Make sure to leave a link to your IMM in the comments, so I can see what goodies you got!  And if you've read any of my goodies, let me know what you thought of them. :)
And as always, In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by AS King: Goodreads | Amazon 
Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma:  Goodreads | Amazon
Arcadia by Lauren Groff:  Goodreads | Amazon
The Poison Diaries swag

Reviews for:
The Poison Diaries: http://www.thebookrat.com/2011/11/poison-diaries-by-maryrose-wood.html
Nightshade: http://www.thebookrat.com/2011/11/poison-diaries-nightshade-by-maryrose.html

Big thanks to:
Liz @ Consumed By Books
HarperCollins (Teen and UK)
Hyperion/Voice & Shelf Awareness

Saturday, December 3, 2011

November Rewind

Here's my November Rewind, y'all.  It's a look back at what I read in November, with a quick thumbs up/down rating and explanation.  Also, there is some serious flubbage going on...

If you do a monthly wrap-up or something similar, shoot me a link in the comments and I will be sure to check it out.  And of course, if you agree or disagree with any of my thoughts on the books I read this month, let me know!

(If you want to see what I have planned for December, check out my December TBR here!)


The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood: Goodreads | Amazon
The Posion Diaries: Nightshade by Maryrose Wood: Goodreads | Amazon
Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken: Goodreads | Amazon
Cat O' Nine Tails by Patricia Leever: Goodreads | Amazon
Everybody Sees the Ants by AS King: Goodreads | Amazon
Microcrafts, various: Goodreads | Amazon
The Twelfth Enchantment by David Liss: Goodreads | Amazon
Jane Austen Made Me Do It, ed Laurell Ann Nattress: GoodreadsAmazon

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Face Off: Forgotten v. Life is But a Dream

I know Cat Patricks' Forgotten and Brian James' Life is But a Dream aren't cover clones, but I can't help but think of one when I see the other.  Even though the settings and colors are different, the curled up girl and the little pops of color provided by flowers/leaves definitely gives them something in common.  But more than that, they both have a sort of gentle surreal feeling to them.  So what do you guys think?  Do they remind you of each other at all, or is it just me?  And which would you reach for on the shelves?
Which one did it better?

Last Week on FFO: Hourglass and Timepiece when head to head, with the drama of Timepiece just barely helping it pull out a win.
Winnah -------------->

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December TBR vlog + linky

Here is my TBR stack for the final month of 2011.  Is anyone else vaguely freaked out by that?  And also super excited for all of the fantastic books that are coming out in 2012?!  Apocalypse be damned!

Anywho, this is a light stack for me, but hopefully I'll be able to read more than this, in which case they'll be included in the December Rewind video.  (And if you're curious about November's Rewind, you can find that here!)

If you do your own TBR vlog or blog, make sure to link it up below so we can all check it out and share some comment love!


The Twelfth Enchantment by David Liss: Goodreads | Amazon
Cinder by Marissa Meyer: Goodreads | Amazon
When the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen: Goodreads | Amazon
Tempest by Julie Cross: Goodreads | Amazon
A Touch of Power by Maria V Snyder: Goodreads | Amazon

Book Chat: Unexpected Likes

Good morning, my lovelies!  It's Book Chat time, and this week we're talking about unexpected likes: books we had pushed on us or assigned to us and for whatever reason, were expecting not to like, but actually did.
As always, if you want to participate in Book Chat (and I'd love to have ya!), link your vlog or blog post on the linky below.

Also, I've been toying with the idea of publishing the list of Chats in advance, so you can prepare your Book Chats or see what's coming up and decide if you want to participate.  I'd love for you guys to weigh in on this idea, so let me know. :)

NEXT WEEK: Cover Re-Dos - your thoughts on covers you'd like to remake or redo.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wishlist Wednesday: Lies Beneath

Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown
Killer Mermaids!, pages unknown
Expected publication: June 12th 2012 by Delacorte Press

Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans, killing them to absorb their energy. But this summer the underwater clan targets Jason Hancock out of pure revenge. They blame Hancock for their mother's death and have been waiting a long time for him to return to his family's homestead on the lake. Hancock has a fear of water, so to lure him in, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock's daughter, Lily. Easy enough—especially as Calder has lots of practice using his irresistible good looks and charm on unsuspecting girls. Only this time Calder screws everything up: he falls for Lily—just as Lily starts to suspect that there's more to the monsters-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined. And just as his sisters are losing patience with him.(less)

If you don't know, I'm a Michigander.  So a book about A GROUP OF ASSASSIN MERMAIDS LIVING IN LAKE SUPERIOR kinda has me all sorts of geeked out.  And it's a 2012 debut (apocalypsies, woot!).  So I cannot wait to get my hands on this one, and I just hope it is nice and twisted-weird, and not run-of-the-mill YA PNR blahdeeblah.
Fingers crossed.

What are you wishing and hoping and squeeing for this week?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

TBR Tuesday: Infinity

Most of us have books we've bought with all intentions of reading (or maybe just because it was cheap!), only to have them fade away on a shelf or disappear into a stack of books, never to be seen or thought of again.
TBR Tuesday is a way to talk about the books we own but haven't read, see what other people think about them, and help us decide whether to bump it up our list or knock it off completely.
[If you're more a book borrower than a book buyer, you're still welcome to participate with the books that you've been meaning to read and haven't!]

On my TBR

Infinity by Rachel Ward
Science Fiction/Dystopia, 249 pages
Published June 6th 2011 by Chicken House
The mind-blowing conclusion to the chilling NUMBERS trilogy: Because everyone wants to live forever.

No matter what it takes, Sarah's desperate to escape from the numbers.

Always numbers. Sarah loves Adam, but can't bear the thought that every time he looks in her eyes, he can see her dying; can see her last day.

It's 2029. Two years since the Chaos. Sarah and Adam are struggling to survive. She knows he always envisioned them together "'til death do us part." But will a child come between them? The child she loves. The child he saved.

Little Mia was supposed to die that New Year's Day. The numbers don't lie. But somehow she changed her date. Mia's just a baby, oblivious to her special power. But ruthless people are hunting her down, determined to steal her secret.

Because everyone wants to live forever.

Earlier this year I read and reviewed the first two books in the Numbers trilogy, Numbers and The Chaos.  Since this is a UK-published series, our US versions come out much later here than they do there, so my Brit Buddy Bill* sent me a UK copy of the series wrap-up, Infinity...which I had all intentions of reading until I suddenly found myself swamped by, well, everything.
Anywhoodle, I definitely want to read it sooner than later, but for now, it's hanging out in the dreaded TBR.

Sidenote: This is the copy I had planned on getting, since it matches the rest of my US hardcovers.  But this version doesn't come out until May, so I am more than happy to stick with my gifted UK paperback! 

*Thing for alliteration, who, me? ;P

So what's on your TBR this week?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Poison Diaries: Nightshade by Maryrose Wood

The Poison Diaries: Nightshade by Maryrose Wood
Historical Fantasy, 279 pages
September 1st 2011 by HarperCollins Children's Books

Sixteen-year-old Jessamine Luxton is heartbroken. Her true love, Weed, the strange and intriguing young man who came into her life so suddenly, has disappeared.

Jessamine suspects that her own father, Thomas, may have been involved. Thomas was obsessed with poisons and discovering Weed's secret understanding of dangerous plants. This suspicion and her own growing expertise with poisons have changed her. She is no longer innocent. So when Jessamine learns that Weed is alive and in danger, she will do whatever it takes to be reunited with him, including killing whoever gets in her way.

Just to warn you: there really is no way to write a review of a 2nd book in a series without revealing some secrets from the first book.  This is especially true where this series is concerned, so this review will contain spoilers for book one!

I mentioned in my review of The Poison Diaries that I liked it better after having read Nightshade.  It brought some things together for me, but mostly I think it was because the ending to TPD takes such a strange turn that I think your mind needs time to adjust, and there just wasn't time before the book ended.  I mean, yes, you've been somewhat prepared for talking plants from Weed's revelations, but then to actually have plants talking - and plotting murder and world domination - is just a little strange. It takes a big adjustment.  A lot of willing suspension of disbelief.  But by book 2, it almost seems natural.  Partly, I think this is because not just poisonous plants are doing the talking.  You start to get a feel for the different "personalities" of the plants, and they become more like characters.  But I think it's also because of the way it's narrated - more in Weed's voice, and where Jessamine is concerned, she's no longer fevered, so it reads less...manic, I guess.  Whatever the reason, it works now, and makes the ending of TPD go down a little better.

Where it seemed to touch on magical realism in book one, I think it takes a pretty firm turn into magical realism in Nightshade.  It also goes really, really dark.  Wood explores some pretty deep, scary waters for a YA book, which, coupled with the magical realist feel, is really interesting.  When you think "dark" in YA, you tend to think emotional contemporary blahblah.  This is a completely different kind of dark, a story of control and manipulation and completely losing oneself to it.  It's very Gothic feeling, and I kept thinking as I was reading that it would make such a good, strange little movie.  (You know, if you could figure out a way to make Oleander scary and not just silly onscreen.)   It's told in that delicious car-crash-in-slow-mo way that just grips you and makes you certain that it's going to be a first-rate tragedy.  [I mean Tragedy-capital-T; you know, the cosmic irony, world is against us, every step I take in what I think is the right direction makes everything worse...that type of thing.]

Part of what makes this work so well is the split narration between Jessamine, who is slowly losing herself with the help of Oleander, and Weed, who is coming into his own.  I wasn't a big fan of the split narration in book one, but here it really works.  There is good balance to their story arcs, and getting to see every false step from two angles, seeing it all plotted out by Oleander, and how successful he is at pulling the strings, really contributes to the Gothic tragedy feeling.   I also just plain liked Weed's voice in this, so I was happy to be in his thoughts and have his world opened up more.  He keeps it all together, but it's Jessamine who steals the show.  I mentioned at the end of my TPD review that book 2 is definitely worth reading because Jessamine is kickass, and I meant that.  She is...dark and dangerous and a complete 180 from the charmingly naive girl she was in the beginning.  And what's more, it's believable.  It's sometimes painful to watch, and you sometimes want to cheer for her and sometimes want to yell at her, and it all just works to push us toward an ending you can't help but fear.

As for the ending itself, I have to say I loved it.  Now, this comes with a caution, because, just as in book one, I think this is the type of ending that may really piss people off.  It is certainly not for fans of the cliff-hanger ending.  But, going back to the movie comparison, the whole thing feels very episodic and it works for me.  The feel of the ending is really haunting and an interesting blend of optimism and pessimism.  It's perfectly in keeping with the darker tone of the book, and I respect it as a result.  And I have to say, without giving anything away, the final image is just... just brilliant.

So if you've read book one and were on the fence about whether to continue the series, I would strongly urge it.  It's really going some interesting places, and I think you'll like the two books almost as a set.  If you haven't read book one, but ignored my spoilers warning and read this review, and now have your interest piqued (talking plants?  Oleander?  Tragedy?), I would strongly recommend picking up both books at the same time, so that you can head straight into Nightshade after finishing TPD.  Don't worry, they're both quick reads...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday Face Off: Hourglass v. Timepiece

The cover for Myra McEntire's Timepiece, the second in the Hourglass books, was released recently, and I thought it made for good Face-Off material.  I loved the sort of quiet, eerie hauntedness of Hourglass - the uncomfortable oddness and disconnect with reality.  It really drew me in, and was a favorite cover of this year.  Timepiece takes a similar approach but tries to amp it up a bit, and I'm curious what all of you think of it.   To me, it looks a little Peter Pan, and the way the shadows fall, it looks like her hair is disembodied, like she doesn't really have a head under all that... Unsettling, but in a different way from Hourglass...  But what do you think? Was it successful?  Does it draw you in?
Which one did it better?

Last Week on FFO: The reds and grays of Dark Angel faced off against the similar palate of Everneath, with Everneath pulling out a nearly-unanimous win.
Winnah ------>

Winner of Poison Diaries: Nightshade

Well, my poisoned lovelies, we have a winner in the competition for a copy of The Poison Diaries: Nightshade, and it is....


Congrats! I hope you enjoy your book, Evika!
As for the rest of you, if you pick up this series, you must let me know what you think!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Book Chat: Xmas Wishlist

I decided to forgo a Wishlist Wednesday post this week since the Book Chat for the week is all about wishlist items.  This week we want to know what's on your Christmas (or end of year, if you prefer) wishlist - the books that you most want to get your hands on before 2011 ends.
Feel free to record your own Chat and post it as a video response, or write a blog post and link it at www.thebookrat.com.
Or just let us know in the comments, of course.

NEXT WEEK: Books that surprised you.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi: http://amzn.to/sJ1LIf
Liar's Moon by Elizabeth C Bunce: http://amzn.to/tsYV5g
Dearly Departed by Lia Habel: http://amzn.to/tw1DR5
Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey: http://amzn.to/tAO1mV
Legend by Marie Lu: http://amzn.to/vCTDLY
The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff: http://amzn.to/viHT8j
Across the Great Barrier by Patricia C Wrede: http://amzn.to/rsefTY
Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson: http://amzn.to/spruK8
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by AS King: http://amzn.to/vlIE0A
Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma: http://amzn.to/uvobvJ
By These Ten Bones by Clare B Dunkle: http://amzn.to/vPkna2
Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres

DustinDisco: http://www.dustindisco.com/
R.A.K. @ Book Soulmates: http://booksoulmates.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

TBR Tuesday: A Need So Beautiful

Most of us have books we've bought with all intentions of reading (or maybe just because it was cheap!), only to have them fade away on a shelf or disappear into a stack of books, never to be seen or thought of again.
TBR Tuesday is a way to talk about the books we own but haven't read, see what other people think about them, and help us decide whether to bump it up our list or knock it off completely.
[If you're more a book borrower than a book buyer, you're still welcome to participate with the books that you've been meaning to read and haven't!]

On my TBR

A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young
Fantasy, 267 pages
June 21st 2011 by Balzer & Bray

We all want to be remembered. Charlotte's destiny is to be Forgotten...

Charlotte’s best friend thinks Charlotte might be psychic. Her boyfriend thinks she’s cheating on him. But Charlotte knows what’s really wrong: She is one of the Forgotten, a kind of angel on earth, who feels the Need—a powerful, uncontrollable draw to help someone, usually a stranger.

But Charlotte never wanted this responsibility. What she wants is to help her best friend, whose life is spiraling out of control. She wants to lie in her boyfriend's arms forever. But as the Need grows stronger, it begins to take a dangerous toll on Charlotte. And who she was, is, and will become--her mark on this earth, her very existence--is in jeopardy of disappearing completely.

Charlotte will be forced to choose: Should she embrace her fate as a Forgotten, a fate that promises to rip her from the lives of those she loves forever? Or is she willing to fight against her destiny--no matter how dark the consequences.

This was a pure cover-appeal impulse buy for me during the Borders liquidation sales.   I had vaguely skimmed some glowing reviews, but it's not like I really remembered a thing any of them said.  Just an overall sense of "read it" and "pretty" made me reach for it.
So yeah, no idea when I'm going to get around to reading this one.  Any of you read it?  Love it, hate it, indifferent?  Should I bump it up the pile, or should I have resisted the pretty?

What's clinging to your TBR pile this week?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood

The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood
Historical Fantasy, 304 pages
April 8th 2011 from HarperCollins

In the right dose, everything is a poison. Even love . . .

Jessamine Luxton has lived all her sixteen years in an isolated cottage near Alnwick Castle, with little company apart from the plants in her garden. Her father, Thomas, a feared and respected apothecary, has taught her much about the incredible powers of plants: that even the most innocent-looking weed can cure — or kill.

When Jessamine begins to fall in love with a mysterious boy who claims to communicate with plants, she is drawn into the dangerous world of the poison garden in a way she never could have imagined . . .

**This review is going to be somewhat informed by the fact that I read the first two books in the series before writing either review, so I know what happens next and how it all fits together.  Because of that, there will be times that I will reference book 2, which I wouldn't generally do, and I am sorry for that, but I promise to try to avoid spoilers.

I have to start by saying that I found The Poison Diaries to be really different from other YA books out there, and for the most part, I mean this in a really good way.  It's rare to have anything these days that actually feels unique or inventive.  The book almost has a magical realist feel to it, which, though a lot of MG and YA books have magic in them, is not a genre often tackled for this age group.  There's a surreal strangeness to the writing and plot that I really enjoyed.

But it's because of this that I think it is going to be one of those off-putting books for a lot of people.  There are times, especially toward the end of the book, where it's just plain weird.   And though I really like that, I know there are plenty of people who won't.  When I was finished, my one-line review called it a "strange little mindfuck of a book" and I know not everyone likes to be mindfucked...

But whether you do or not, I think you should give it a chance. It's a kickass concept, for which we apparently have the Duchess of Northumberland to thank.  She has spent a considerable amount of time and money constructing an epic garden at her castle (uh huh), and this garden includes an ambitious poison garden, which she thought would make a great backdrop to a story and voila! now it is.  And as much as you may want to be irritated and find the whole thing pretentious, the thing is, it really does make a great backdrop to a story.  Alnwick Castle, Hulne Abbey and the Luxton's poison apothecary garden makes for a really rich, compelling setting for Jessamine's life to revolve around.

And speaking of Jessamine, though I think some of the (very few) characters in the book can be static and one-dimensional, I found Jessamine very interesting and likable.  She's sort of charmingly naive, but with a thirst for knowledge and recognition that I thought worked and gave her depth.  And in a weird way, I thought the narrowness of the other characters in her life actually aids in her character development, because they were kind of representative of her limited scope and her very confined world.  They made interesting counterpoints to her narration and her diary.

The diary itself was a little strained as a concept.  It felt forced to me, like "The Poison Diaries" sounds like a great name for a series, so we need to work this in somehow.  But Jessamine's diary was overkill; it wasn't necessary - her father, Thomas, has a true poison diary that comes into play in a huge way in the series, and was more than enough to carry the name and give it purpose.  Very little of the narration actually takes place in Jessamine's diary, and what does could easily be worked into the internal monolgue that makes up the bulk of the book.  I felt like the diary bits could have been cut and made the book smoother as a whole, which was something that it especially needed in the end, when the narration is split.
But maybe I just over-think these things.

The one real drawback for me, though, was the end.  As I said, the narration is split in the end, and is...scattered for a number of reasons.  The very simple prose  of the first 3/4 of the book just sort of unravels and can feel a little chaotic.  This is intentional in part, I think, and I can't get too into why without spoilers. But while it may be interesting  to have the narration match the chaos of the story conceptually, it didn't quite work for me in practice.  The change was too abrupt, and the ending even more so, and the two combined turned me off a bit.  I felt like I was tearing through this really absorbing, weird, fast-paced read and loving it, and then it just started to fall apart, and there weren't enough pages left to put it back together.  It was weird, because it was the kind of ending that I respect and a part of me likes, but that just couldn't inspire the enthusiasm in me that I wanted to feel for this book when I was done.

And this is the part where I reference book 2, because the thing is, I liked it enough that I definitely wanted to keep reading, hoping that book 2 would cast book 1 in a different light and make things work.  And it did.  It did and then some.  But the enjoyment of one book shouldn't be dependent on the next; it always feels like a cheap gimmick to me when this is the case, and it pisses me off a little on principle.  And though I don't think the ending was completely a cheap gimmick (because I think it was partly a pessimistic streak in-keeping with the rest of the book, which I applaud), I still can't help but be a little miffed on principle.  It's just who I am.

And my god, if this isn't the most rambly, convoluted review.  Maybe it's symptomatic of the poisons found inside...
The fact is, I liked this on its own well enough, and liked it a lot more on reflection after book 2.  Though it's certainly not everyone's cup of poison tea, I think those in the right mindset are going to find it really interesting and memorable, and I promise you, if you're weird enough (like me) and are eager for the 2nd book, the series will impress you.  'Cause Jessamine?  She's pretty kickass.

[Psst! Don't forget, you can enter to win book 2, Nightshade, here - but it ends soon, so hurry!  And make sure to check out my review of Nightshade tomorrow!]

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Face Off: Dark Angel v Everneath

I've featured the cover for Eden Maguire's Dark Angel on FFO before (when it faced off against The Vespertine).  But recently, I've been seeing the cover of Brodi Ashton's Everneath everywhere, and I realized that, though the two are by no means cover twins, they most certainly remind me of each other.  Everything from the gorgeous dresses and half-obscured faces to the red/gray/white color scheme, flourishes to the titles and upward slant to the wings-and-clouds (fog?) behind the titles - they may not be the same cover, but these two definitely have some things in common.  They would have plenty to talk about over coffee...
So, which would you reach for?  Love 'em, hate 'em?
Which one did it better?

Last Week on FFO: Salvaged went head to head foot to foot with Slept Away.  And though it was a 50/50 split between the two books, it was nearly unanimous that everyone is skeeved out by feet.
Winnah ------>  not feet.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Book Chat: Most Anticipated Contemporary Reads

It's Book Chat time again, guys.  This week, in honor of Just Contemporary month once again, we are talking about our most anticipated contemporary reads.  They can be books you own or have had on your to-read pile for awhile, or contemporary books that have yet to be released - whichever you prefer.

If you want to participate in Book Chat, you can link up your vlog or blog post below.  Or feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comments.

NEXT WEEK: Your Christmas/end-of-year Wishlist

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

TBR Tuesday: The Books of Courtney Summers

Most of us have books we've bought with all intentions of reading (or maybe just because it was cheap!), only to have them fade away on a shelf or disappear into a stack of books, never to be seen or thought of again.
TBR Tuesday is a way to talk about the books we own but haven't read, see what other people think about them, and help us decide whether to bump it up our list or knock it off completely.
[If you're more a book borrower than a book buyer, you're still welcome to participate with the books that you've been meaning to read and haven't!]

On my TBR

Cracked Up To Be
Contemporary, 214 pages
Published December 23rd 2008 by St. Martin's Griffin
Perfect Parker Fadley isn’t so perfect anymore. She’s quit the cheerleading squad, she’s dumped her perfect boyfriend, and she’s failing school. Her parents are on a constant suicide watch and her counselors think she’s playing games…but what they don’t know, the real reason for this whole mess, isn’t something she can say out loud. It isn’t even something she can say to herself. A horrible thing has happened and it just might be her fault. If she can just remove herself from everybody--be totally alone--then everything will be okay...The problem is, nobody will let her.

Some Girls Are
Contemporary, 246 pages
Published January 5th 2010 by St. Martin's Griffin
Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard--falling from it is even harder. Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High... until vicious rumors about her and her best friend's boyfriend start going around. Now Regina's been "frozen out" and her ex-best friends are out for revenge. If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day. She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully. Friendship doesn't come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend... if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don't break them both first.

Tensions grow and the abuse worsens as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of Cracked Up To Be.

Fall For Anything
Contemporary, 230 pages
Published December 21st 2010 by St. Martin's Griffin
When Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the nagging question of why? Why when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he seemed to find inspiration in everything he saw? And, most important, why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone else in the world? When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father’s and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. Culler seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the key to the mystery surrounding his death. But Eddie’s vulnerability has weakened her and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her hanging on...but are some questions better left unanswered?

I've found each of Courtney Summers' books in the Amazon bargain bin in the last few months, and with all of the insane amounts of love I've seen other bloggers and reader-friends give her, I went ahead and picked each of them up, even though I'm not generally drawn to contemporary.  (These covers didn't hurt, though.)  Now, working on things for Just Contemporary month for Ashley, it's had me thinking about the contemporary books I own and want to read, so I thought I would showcase the three of these and see what you guys think about them.  
Do they live up to the hype?  Which of the three is your favorite?

And more importantly, what's lurking in your TBR stacks this week?

(Also, if you want to find out more about the contemporary books I own that are still in need of reading, make sure to check out this week's Book Chat on thursday...)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...