Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My Six-Month Blogoversary, Complete With Recap!

Used with permission, from the book
"Happy Birthday Kansas!"
Well, you guys, we made it. Six months ago, I hung up my shingle as Shelver of Bookshelvers Anonymous. Six months and three days, technically, because I started on January 28. But now I'm just being pedantic.

Six months! PAR-TAY!

I know everyone else did their lists for the first half of the year last month, but I decided to wait until now to give you my list. Of course, this'll make me short in December, but that's okay. Anyways, let's get to the lists. I love lists. They take the happy experiences of life and order and quantify them! ... I probably lost some of you there, but believe me, lists are cool. (Like bowties. Bowties are cool.)

In the last six months...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Review: HEIST SOCIETY by Ally Carter

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family's history--and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.
I don't know whether you all remember, but a few weeks ago ago, I went on vacation. It was a lovely vacation brimming over with books. Seriously, look at my post from before I left. I brought a LOT of books. I had no idea how many I was going to get to read or what order I would read them in, but I DID know that I wanted to read Heist Society first, and I'm so very glad I did.

Heist Society is the ideal summer read. It's light-hearted and fun with just enough banter and action to keep the reader entertained. Oh, and the boys are super-cute.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Don't Mess With A Lady Thief - My Interview With AC Gaughen, Author Of SCARLET (+ Giveaway!)

Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.

It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.
This is my last scheduled Summer Reading List interview. In case you all don't remember, I complained a while back about my store's appalling summer reading shelf. With your help, I offered an alternative, and Scarlet by AC Gaughen was part of that alternative.

Really, what's not to love? Ms. Gaughen takes the beloved Robin Hood tale and completely turns it on its ear with the help of the spirited Scarlet. This is another book that I hype every chance I get. My review is here, but before you wander off to look, take a look at what Ms. Gaughen has to say about her tale. (Oh, and did I mention there's a giveaway, too?)

~~*~~

Shelver: Forgive the ignorant American here, but you live in Scotland, right? Is Robin Hood as big of a deal in Scotland as he is in England and America?

AC Gaughen: Actually no--I'm a born and bred Boston girl, but I did live in Scotland for a few years. It's an unbelievable country--and yes, they love Robin Hood there! Not as much as William Wallace, though. They even have a Mel Gibson inspired statue at Stirling.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wishlist Wednesday #8

Totally the property of Pen to Paper
Huzzah for Wishlist Wednesday! I'm afraid I'm not very original this week. I picked a book that has me doing anxious little dances in my living room every time someone mentions it, but I'm not the only one. Everyone is talking about this book, which means a lot of little dances from me.

And I know it's the wrong tale, but just looking at this book makes me want to sing, "Who's afraid of the Big Bad Wolf, the Big Bad Wolf, the Big Bad Wolf..."

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Review: THE FALSE PRINCE by Jennifer A. Nielsen

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.
A big thing for me as a blogger is to be objective in my reviews. I don't want to careen wildly to one side or the other. If I like or don't like a review, I'll say so, but I try to keep my reasons balanced and fair.

I can't do that with this book. Some people may not agree with my reasoning. They may read my review and feel underwhelmed or just not get it at all.

But here's the honest-to-goodness, completely biased truth: I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cover Love #7


Pretties! Pretties! Come see the pretties!

Actually, this week is a bit of departure, because I don't normally highlight sequels. I mean, drooling over covers is great, but what good is it if you haven't read the first book, right? I'd highlight the book before the one I'm about to show you, but the cover's not very good? But the one below? PRETTY!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Killer Interview With Robin LaFevers, Author Of GRAVE MERCY

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?
One month ago, I complained about the absolutely awful summer reading shelf at my store. One week after that, I offered my own suggestions with some heavy input from you all. We ended up with a pretty awesome shelf, in my opinion. One of the books that I advocated was Grave Mercy, a wickedly awesome novel about a nun assassin. That's right, a nun assassin. With a crossbow.

Grave Mercy is one of my favorite books of 2012. Heck, it's one of my favorite books ever. I handsell it every chance I get at my store. You can read why in my review, but I shall simply repeat two words - nun assassins. And add a few more - Duvall, one of the swooniest heroes ever.

In order to further hype this book that I LOVE, I invited its author, Ms. Robin LaFevers, by for an interview.

~~*~~

Shelver: You've mentioned before how you were taught in a Catholic school and how you came across Duchess Anne's story in your research, but what's the very first thing that brought Ismae's story into your head? At what point did you see an image or read a snippet and go, "Hmm, that's interesting. Someone should write a story about that."?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Review: THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson

Elisa is the chosen one. 

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can't see how she ever will. 

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.
You know, one of these days I'm going to sit down and read a book that doesn't completely trample my expectations into the dust. I mean, seriously, what the heck, Carson?!

Really, I don't think it's my fault on this one. There's no way the description above could have prepared me for what I was getting into. And that's okay, because it was kind of fun to watch my expectations shatter into teeny, tiny pieces. I'd come to expect, without realizing it, certain elements from my fantasy books, and Ms. Carson booted some of the big ones out the door without hesitation.

Friday, July 13, 2012

V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N Recap

Downtown Columbus
I went on vacation last week, and it was glorious. So glorious that I just had to tell you all about it. I don't know if that makes me narcissistic - it's not entirely book-related, just me-related - but I gotta tell someone!

It was a great week. I didn't get to sleep in very much (I was sharing a room with family, and they had to leave earlier than I wanted to get up), but I did spend all week relaxing. I painted my nails, I sat in the sun (at least, when it wasn't storming), I watched some Big Bang Theory, and I read. Oh boy, did I!

Here's my week by the numbers...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wishlist Wednesday #7

Totally the property of Pen To Paper
You all may think I'm silly (or find me annoying, since I mention this every week), but I want to twirl every time I sit down to write a Wishlist Wednesday post. People rag on books all the time as a dying art form, moan about the dumbing down of America, blah blah blah.

Pffffth to all of you, I say. How can I be gloomy when so many good books are being written and published? How?! I mean, just thinking about the book I'm highlighting this week makes me happy. It's such an original concept and reminds me of a Doctor Who episode, which is always a bonus.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Girl With The Feather In Her Hair - TIGER LILY ARC Giveaway

Yesterday, I reviewed Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson. It's probably one of many reviews you've read thus far. Harper Teen put together a nice publicity blitz that has kept my Twitter feed and RSS feeder full of Tiger Lily, Tiger Lily, Tiger Lily. A good choice, because Ms. Anderson's book is a good story that deserves the boost.

Well, I'm here to clog up Twitter and RSS feeds just a bit more, because I want one of you to take this book home with you.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Review: TIGER LILY by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she's ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything--her family, her future--to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it's the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who's everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.
Here's the big take-away up front: I liked this book, but it took some doing getting into the story, because it wasn't nearly what I expected. So, in order to be a kind reviewer, I'm going to try to prepare you all in a manner that is as spoiler-free as possible (which isn't to say absolutely spoiler-free).

I don't even know where to begin. I can't even think of one point where things went the way I expected. I mean, Tiger Lily and Peter Pan were in it, yes. That's one thing. But beyond that? And even with that point, the book is about Tiger Lily, but it's narrated by Tinker Bell. Oh, and that's not her real name, but rather the name that Peter gives her.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cover Love #6


Squee! I do believe Cover Love is the best part of my week. I have absolutely zero artistic ability, so just the thought of putting together such beautiful covers is daunting in the extreme to me. There are so many beautiful, beautiful books floating around this big old world, and it thrills me to pieces to be able to squeal over them with you all.

This week, I chose a book that blew me away with its design. It's contemporary, so I mightn't have given it a second glance if I hadn't been captivated by what the design team at Delacorte put together.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Missive To A Customer #2

Dear Ma'am,

Thank you for visiting our store today. We appreciate your patronage. Really, you could have stayed at home and bought books off of the dreaded Amazon, but you didn't, so thank you.

We know you had a pleasant visit, because we've watched you. We greeted you when you came in and offered assistance. We helped you find that regional book you were looking for and that thriller for your husband. Really, if we can say so without sounding braggadocios, we were pretty on point.

So imagine my befuddlement when you stormed up to my register to complain about how utterly "rude" two of my coworkers were being.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Review: SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.
When I first heard about Shadow and Bone, I wasn't interested. The cover looked fine, but the title? Too close to Daughter of Smoke and Bone, The Book of Blood and Shadow, and all the other similar titles floating around recently.

But then people started buzzing about it. It's a fantasyland based off of Russia, they said. I do love Russia (the absolute best way to say goodbye - do svidaniya - is Russian, after all). There are flesh-eating monsters, and who doesn't love a flesh-eating monster from time to time? Most of all, no one would shut up about how GOOD the book was, so I picked it up.

And let me tell you, it was good.