Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cover Love #10


So, to be honest, I was a bit disappointed in the poll turnout from the last Cover Love. I don't know if that means Cover Love is so unpopular that you all didn't even make it to the poll or what. However, those who were kind enough to vote and/or leave a comment were unanimously supportive, so we'll continue for now. (But seriously, your input is important. If y'all don't really like this meme, I don't want to waste my time or yours.)

Moving on! This week's cover belongs to a contemporary novel, and while it may not be full of swirly fonts and lens flares, I love the way the picture sets up the story. I want you to look at the picture. Tell me what you see, what it evokes. Then scroll down and read the synopsis.



What if you lost the thing that made you who you are?

Lexi has always been stunning. Her butter-colored hair and perfect features have helped her attract friends, a boyfriend, and the attention of a modeling scout. But everything changes the night Lexi's face goes through a windshield. Now she's not sure what's worse: the scars she'll have to live with forever, or what she saw going on between her best friend and her boyfriend right before the accident. With the help of her trombone-playing, defiantly uncool older sister and a guy at school recovering from his own recent trauma, Lexi learns she's much more than just a pretty face.


I don't know about you, but I saw this cover and all the scattered triangles and thought "broken glass." Taken in parts, nothing about this cover seems terribly traumatic, but all I could see was this blonde getting a face full of broken glass. That's a well-designed cover, my friends!

Of course, now that I read the back, I can pick out a few pieces. The bright light, for instance, may very well be the headlights of an oncoming car. Perhaps Lexi's car swerved to avoid said car and that's how she ended up going through the windshield. The font mimics handwriting, which makes sense given the first-person title, and the purple really pops. And, of course, the model's pretty. I mean, the synopsis harps on how pretty she was before the accident, so that makes complete sense. I just hate it when the models don't match the actual character description.

What do you think of this cover? Does it work for you? What would you change? And what cover do you love this week?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Customers

I wish my customers
dressed this snazzily.
I've always envied indie stores their "regulars." You know, those lovable kooks that drop by every day at the same time and give the shelvers crazy stories to take home - usually stories that start with "You'll never believe what happened at work today."

When I started working at my store, I lamented our lack of regulars. Box stores just aren't cool enough to have groupies. I'm sure some of our customers do come regularly, just not regularly enough to be known on sight.

Or so I thought.

Turns out that my store has quite the odd little following. I only work a few days a week (two jobs, remember), but I've seen the same faces again and again, and I thought it was high time to introduce them to you.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Review: OF POSEIDON by Anna Banks

Galen is the prince of the Syrena, sent to land to find a girl he's heard can communicate with fish. Emma is on vacation at the beach. When she runs into Galen — literally, ouch! — both teens sense a connection. But it will take several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, for Galen to be convinced of Emma's gifts. Now, if he can only convince Emma that she holds the key to his kingdom . . . 
My very first mermaid book, you guys! I know, I don't know how I went without one for so long either. They're everywhere!

Only we're not allowed to call them mermaids. They're Syrena, according to the book. Oh, who am I kidding? They're flipping mermaids/mermen. They've got tails. They (or at least one branch of them) can talk to fish!

Still, I understand the emphasis on the name, because Banks works hard to give her Syrena distinction from the typical tales. There's no Ariel here. Instead, there are dueling factions ("of Poseidon" Syrena vs. "of Triton" Syrena), underwater museums, ruins, betrayal, and even a real-life Atlantis (or what's left of it).

I loved the thought Ms. Banks put into their history.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Shelver (Not So) Secret: Do Unto Others

This week has been insane and has left me very little time for blog posts. Here's a thought I jotted down a few months back. I hope to be back in the swing of things soon.

~~*~~

Photo attribution
It's the little things, people. Working in a minimum wage retail position can be a real drag sometimes. I have to deal with stressed out, grumpy people with unruly kids and limited time all day long. That can make for a reeeeeeally long day. Add to that restrictions against talking with co-workers, eating, responding to any rudeness with something other than a sickly sweet "Have a good day," or even just sitting for a few minutes, and my eight hours can turn into a personal hell.

We try to keep each others' spirits up as best we can, but it can be tough (see: previous mention about socialization at work). But you know who can change my mood in a second? You.

I can't stress enough how wonderful it makes me feel when a customer takes a second to verbalize his or her gratitude. You're thanking me for finding you that book? No, thank you for recognizing that I'm a human being and taking a moment to utilize the rudimentary etiquette skills that you were taught as a child. Really, dear customer, you have no idea how many of your peers choose to use me as a servant to be treated with disdain. Yet a simple, heartfelt expression of gratitude from you can erase (at the very least!) a half hour of monotonous labor from my memory.

But hey, want to take it to the next level? Tell my manager. That'll keep me going for an entire month.

~~*~~

And while I'm thinking about it, thank you all for being such wonderful blog friends and for making my birthday week so much fun! Don't forget to check out my giveaway. My "do unto others" includes spreading the book love. <3

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wishlist Wednesday #9

Totally the property of Pen To Paper.
This week has not been that great, you guys. Oh sure, my birthday stuff has been fab, and I loved watching The Hunger Games on DVD, but the rest has been meh. I even considered skipping Wishlist Wednesday today, because I just didn't feel like writing a post.

Thankfully, there's one book I'm looking forward to reading, and I talked about it just recently.

What if you were bound for a new world, about to pledge your life to someone you'd been promised to since birth, and one unexpected violent attack made survival—not love—the issue?

Out in the murky nebula lurks an unseen enemy: the New Horizon. On its way to populate a distant planet in the wake of Earth's collapse, the ship's crew has been unable to conceive a generation to continue its mission. They need young girls desperately, or their zealous leader's efforts will fail. Onboard their sister ship, the Empyrean, the unsuspecting families don't know an attack is being mounted that could claim the most important among them...

Fifteen-year-old Waverly is part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space; she was born on the Empyrean, and the large farming vessel is all she knows. Her concerns are those of any teenager—until Kieran Alden proposes to her. The handsome captain-to-be has everything Waverly could ever want in a husband, and with the pressure to start having children, everyone is sure he's the best choice. Except for Waverly, who wants more from life than marriage—and is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.

But when the Empyrean faces sudden attack by their assumed allies, they quickly find out that the enemies aren't all from the outside.
I know Glow actually came out a year ago, but my store is lame. I've waited for it to come in, but it hasn't. Actually, after putting Glow on my Goodreads list, I'd forgotten about it until last week when the author, Amy Kathleen Ryan, came by for the Authors Are Rockstars Blog Tour.

I researched her books for the interview, and I found myself fascinated with Glow all over again. I kept asking, "WHY haven't I read this?!" And then I remembered my store and was cranky for the rest of the evening.

Straight-up sci-fi books are so rare in YA. To take the uneasy ideas of procreation and arranged marriages that float around in dystopian lit and then wrap them up in a battle between intergalactic starships?! Brilliant!

By the way, isn't that just the happiest phrase you've ever heard? Just typing "intergalactic starships" makes me smile.

What are you wishing to read this Wednesday?

And don't forget to enter my giveaway!

Monday, August 20, 2012

My HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME Giveaway!

I'm going to indulge in some shameless me-time, okay? Because it's my BIRTHDAY*! Woohoo!

I love birthdays. I'm not a limelight kind of girl, but it's fun having a day that's all about me. I get the food that I want, I get to use the special birthday plate at dinner (don't laugh - it's a tradition), and I get PRESENTS!

Presents are the best, y'all. I don't mean that in a grasping, greedy way. I just despise spending money (it pains me), so being able to get a couple nice things for free is absolutely wonderful. I always have a lot of books on my list, but this year I have several titles that I highlighted AND bolded to maximize the chance that I'll get them. (This getting-presents thing is serious business!)

But giving presents is equally fun, if not more so. Therefore, to celebrate my birthday, I'm hosting a giveaway!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Review: THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.
It's been a long time since I've been so anxious to read a book. Granted, my memory isn't the best, but ever since talk started circulating about Throne of Glass right before the BEA, I've wanted to get my hands on a copy. I even did a Wishlist Wednesday post where I blathered to the point of incoherency.

As if I weren't in enough agony, Ms. Maas released four Throne of Glass novellas - itty-bitty prequels, if you will - to set up the novel. I devoured those novellas. They were excellent. (Seriously, buy the novellas.)

So, after all that buildup, how did I end up liking the book? Well, there's good news and bad news. The bad news is that Throne of Glass did not end up being "The Book To End All Books." There were definitely areas that could have been improved, which I'll expound upon shortly. 

The good news is that I still really, really enjoyed the book. And by enjoyed, I mean devoured it in less than 24 hours.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Rating System In My Head (2/2)

Tuesday, I talked about why I don't use a rating system on my blog. It was a long and involved answer, but basically it boiled down to the fact that I'm neurotic and would take ratings waaaay too seriously. I don't mind if other people use them, I personally just can't.

But what happens if I have to use a rating system? Goodreads requires a rating of 1-5 stars, as does LibraryThing. I happen to use both (and you should totally come find me by following the links), so what do I do?

Well, I rate the books, obviously. But why does, say, Grave Mercy get five stars, while Before I Fall gets "only" four?

I'm so glad you asked! Here is my general rationale.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cover Love #9


I tried to find a sweet, happy cover for this week's Cover Love, I promise. I tried. I enjoy a pretty dress as much as the next girl, but there was one cover I just couldn't ignore. One that took its large, frightening hand and pushed all the lens flares and twirly dresses into a corner.e

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been a victim of the system ever since her parents died. Now living off the grid and trusting no one, she uses her computer-hacking skills to stay safely anonymous and alone. But when she wakes up on a table in an empty warehouse with an IV in her arm and no memory of how she got there, Noa starts to wish she had someone on her side.

Enter Peter Gregory. A rich kid and the leader of a hacker alliance, Peter needs people with Noa’s talents on his team. Especially after a shady corporation threatens his life. But what Noa and Peter don’t realize is that Noa holds the key to a terrible secret, and there are those who’d stop at nothing to silence her for good.

Filled with action, suspense, and romance, this first book in a new trilogy offers readers nonstop thrills.
Holy moly, ammirite?

Let me take a moment to squeal: HACKERS! I love hackers! They're like nerdy little assassins with cool piercings and chunky glasses. Okay, that might be an outdated stereotype, but I still like hackers.

But we're here to talk about the cover, and what a cover it is. It's pretty simple, really. Just a hand, a grind, and some text, and yet I'm still thoroughly creeped out. The hand clearly represents someone trying to break out, and the grid is keeping said person in... but is the wannaba escapee good or bad? That is, is the grid keeping us safe from unspeakable evil or is it a captor imprisoning redemptive good?

Rather than dark tones, the cover is bright reds and oranges and yellows; happy colors, except for how they mimic the hues of alarms.

Then, over it all, is the title and the tagline - Don't Turn Around... Just keep running.

You don't have to tell me twice!

That's my Cover Love of the week, and I'd love to hear what you think in the comments.

But before you head down, I'd like your opinion. Both Cover Love and Wishlist Wednesday have been on a trial period around here. I enjoy them both, but I'd like to hear what you think about Cover Love in particular. Please take a moment to take the poll below.


Should I continue my Cover Love posts?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Rating System In My Head (1/2)

Today I'm going to answer a question that I haven't actually been asked. I assume that I haven't been asked because you all are polite, retiring types who wouldn't dream of proffering personal inquiries. You silly little dears. No need to be shy.

(And yes, I do realize that the most likely explanation is that no one has noticed/cares one bit. Let me live happily in my delusions.)

Here's the question: Why don't I use a rating system on my blog?

Rating systems are good, right? After all, I review books. When you review books, you're supposed to slap a rating on that bad boy. How else is a reader supposed to know what the reviewer thinks? Sheesh, how else is the reviewer supposed to know what she thinks about a book unless it's carefully quantified?

Hopefully, you can sense my sarcasm. I don't mind it when other people use rating systems. Some sites use stars or ink quills or twee little birdies. (My blogger friend Ems uses Eiffel Towers that are tres chic.) Customizing the icons often adds a nice personal touch to a blog, and the rating systems themselves help organize books in a logical fashion from nauseatingly awful to blow-your-mind fantastic.

I just can't do it. How can I sit down and compare two radically dissimilar books and name one "better" than the other as dictated by a rating system? Or even if I can, do I rate a book based on its technical brilliance, how much I enjoyed myself, or some other criterion?

There have been books that are literary masterpieces, completely deserving of five stars, but I didn't enjoy them. I understood the genius involved in the writing and the symbolism involved, but I probably won't spend my free time rereading them. On the other hand, there have been books that have been light and fluffy or simply less-than-Steinbeck when it comes to the prose, but the stories and characters were a treat!

How would I begin to rate such books? Are they both fives? Do genius books win out because of their elegantly crafted symbolism, or is general enjoyment more important?

It's easier just to slam my forehead against 
the keyboard until I hit a number.
And don't even get me started on the whole-number system crap in use at Goodreads. I use stars in my reviews there because I have to, but forcing myself to choose three stars or four when I believe a book rated a solid 3.50 just about kills me. Or maybe the book should have been a 3.55, because you better believe I'd take decimals to the extreme. For instance, I think nearly all Agatha Christie books are great, meriting four stars easy. But some Agathas are better than others. So maybe one's a 4.5 and another is slightly better, so that would have to be a 4.58 (because it's just barely lacking that 4.6 quality).

Ugh.

I don't think I need to explain any further. I avoid rating systems because they're a hassle. They don't work well for me, so why stress myself out? Besides, what I think about a book should be amply clear in my review.

But what about when you do have to rate a book? you ask. (Or maybe not.) Valid question. I've already said that I rate books for Goodreads. What then?

Well, that's a question for another post.

What about you? What do you think about rating systems? Why do you your particular system, or why not use one at all?

[Laptop image from freedigitalphotos.net]

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Review: THE CROWN OF EMBERS by Rae Carson

Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone's power. That is not all she finds. A breathtaking, romantic, and dangerous second volume in the Fire and Thorns trilogy.
Second books are a tricky thing. They have to live up to the expectations set by the first book but avoid rehashing the same tricks from before. If the second book is part of a trilogy, it must bridge the gap between the two books without faltering in structure or withholding proper closure.

I adored The Girl of Fire and Thorns. Literally, the first thing I did after writing my review was to look up the publisher to request a review copy of The Crown of Embers. When it arrived unexpectedly, I was thrilled. Like, got-a-pony-for-Christmas thrilled. But I was also very, very nervous. I knew it would be good, but what if it wasn't good enough?

Friends, Crown of Embers wasn't just "good enough." It was spectacular.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Authors Are Rockstars Blog Tour



Hi all! I've got a special treat for you today. About a month ago, I signed up for the Authors Are Rockstars blog tour, hosted by Fiktshun & Two Chicks On Books. To my delight, I was assigned Amy Kathleen Ryan.

You might know Ms. Ryan as the author of Glow, an adventurous book that combines elements of sci-fi, dystopia, and romance to tell a thrilling tale. Well, that's what all the glowing reviews (haha! I'm too clever) say, because I haven't read it yet. Yet! And that's only because my store hasn't stocked it yet. Grrr, limitations of physical space.

To me, Ms. Ryan is a rockstar because she's daring. Go on, click on that link to read the full synopsis of Glow and tell me that isn't a daring story to undertake. It gets better. You see, Ms. Ryan has other books as well, but they're not sci-fi/dystopian. They're straight-up contemporary! Well, except for the one that happens to have a mind reader in it. It takes a lot of guts to stray out of one's expected genre, and rockstars are known for their guts!

Duck below the jump break to read the interview!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wishlist Wednesday #8

Totally the property of Pen to Paper
Guys guys guys! Pardon me while I preen just a bit, because I believe I've picked a great one this week.

Let me set it up for you. What do you get when you have one exotic setting + one daring female pirate + one determined male assassin + one arranged marriage + one binding curse?

You get The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke!
Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.

And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.
 
Doesn't that sound divine? I'm a total sucker for assassins, especially ones that could potentially fall in love with their target. And if said target is a headstrong pirate lass fleeing an arranged marriage with another pirate?

Shelvers says HUZZAH!

The only thing that makes me a bit nervous is this whole curse thing. It could be a lame curse or an exciting one or even a funny one. Obviously, whatever it is, it prevents Naji from killing Ananna... and somehow works in a way to keep Ananna alive even once it's broken. Otherwise, wouldn't it be safer for her to keep the curse going?

Still, assassins and pirates. I'm willing to risk a wonky curse for assassins and pirates.

What do you think the curse might be? And what are you looking forward to reading?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Shelver's Guide To Finding A Book

Ah, the back-to-school season is upon us. Wide-eyed parents and sullen students flood the store, paying penance for their procrastination. They need books - summer reading books - AND THEY NEED THEM NOW!!

This is not a new phenomenon. We'll get the same people in looking for Christmas gifts, for spring school reading, for Valentine's Day gifts, for Mother's Day gifts, for Father's Day gifts, and then back again next year for summer reading again.

People never learn. If they did, they wouldn't routinely ignore the #1 rule of shopping for a book:

1. Don't procrastinate. Do not! You know why? Because if you wait until the very last moment, your book will not be there.

I can't tell you how much attitude I've had to put up with from adults(!) who have waited until the last minute and then are shocked and appalled that - gasp! - other people with the same event in mind may have bought it before them! Seriously, just stop and think for a second. Say you're buying a book for your daughter's AP class. In that class, there may be twenty other kids. If even only five other families waited until the last minute to buy the book, that means our stock is wiped out. No books for you!

Tip: If you're in a book club, call a week or two in advance and order copies for your club. We can save them at the desk and each member of your group can come in and buy their reserved copy. It's the best way to be sure that we'll have enough for all of you.

Here are some other tips you should follow when looking for a book.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Review: I HUNT KILLERS by Barry Lyga

Jasper (Jazz) Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.

But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could--from the criminal's point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo's Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret--could he be more like his father than anyone knows?
Do not read this book at night. I'm not kidding. Do not read this book at night, do not read this book when you are alone, do not read this book in a place that makes noises on its own. Do. Not. Do. It. Should you decide to ignore my advice, I am not responsible for the state of paranoia and general full-body heebie-jeebies that will follow.

I'm generally a pretty unflappable person when it comes to being scared by books, but this book had me on edge all day. In DAYLIGHT. It was like every psychotic episode of Criminal Minds and CSI rolled into one. I don't want to even think about how Lyga conducted his research, because he came across as pretty stinkin' on-point to me.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cover Love #8


Happy Thursday, friends! Sit down, shake the stress out, and feast your eyes on the highlighted cover this week... Or maybe "shake out the stress" won't be entirely possible, because the cover I chose this week is like Yzma - scary beyond all reason.