Wednesday, July 31, 2013

ReReadathon 2013 - The End


This is it, ladies and gents. We have officially reached the end of our month-long ReReadathon. I had so much fun during the ReReadathon, and I hope you all did as well.

I also hope you're as pleased with your progress as I am of mine. When we first started ReReadathon, I set the very lofty goal of fifteen novel and four novella rereads with the full knowledge that I wouldn't have time to get to them all. I was right. I didn't get to reread all the books I wanted to, but I did manage to reread the following nine books and four novellas:
  • The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
  • The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (plus all four novellas)
  • Fire by Kristin Cashore
  • The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
  • A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner
  • Heist Society by Ally Carter
  • Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter
  • Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
... as well as four other new books (sequels to some of the above rereads) and a nearly finished re-listen of the Graceling audiobook. Not bad at all, if I do say so myself.

I've loved being able to revisit old literary friends and note how my opinions of them and their stories have (or haven't) changed. Some I liked better, some worse, but in all of my rereads I found myself catching little hints or nods that I missed the first time.

One side effect that I was not expecting is that now I'm itching to dive into some of my new ARCs that have been waiting patiently on my shelf. This ReReadathon has rejuvenated me tremendously. I hope you all can say the same.

The prize linky is open until midnight tonight, so be sure to get in your last-minute recap/reflection posts for extra entries. Once the linky is closed, I'll use a random generator to choose the winner. Also, now that the ReReadathon is over, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Would you be willing to do this again next year? Is there something I could have done to make the ReReadathon more interactive/enjoyable? Any and all suggestions can be dropped in the comments section, passed to me on Twitter, or floated to my inbox.

Thank you all again for joining in!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Top 10 Tuesday: Best Beginnings/Endings

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
I've discovered in compiling this list that I am a reader of middles. I enjoy the climaxes and sudden revelations, the deepening plots and character lines that come in the sweet interiors of my books. When a thrill over a book's "ending," I usually mean the big, breath-taking climax, not the slowed resolution of the end. When I talk about loving a "beginning," I usually mean that I slip in easily, not that the very beginning had me on the edge of my seat. I don't know these people, so I'm not inclined to get worked up straight away. That said, there are some books that grab me hard in the beginning and leave me breathless to the last sentence.

My picks are below the jump so the pictures don't slow things down.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Review: THE YEAR OF SHADOWS by Claire Legrand

Olivia Stellatella is having a rough year.

Her mother left, her neglectful father -- the maestro of a failing orchestra -- has moved her and her grandmother into his dark, broken-down concert hall to save money, and her only friend is Igor, an ornery stray cat.

Just when she thinks life couldn’t get any weirder, she meets four ghosts who haunt the hall. They need Olivia’s help -- if the hall is torn down, they’ll be stuck as ghosts forever, never able to move on.

Olivia has to do the impossible for her shadowy new friends: Save the concert hall. But helping the dead has powerful consequences for the living . . . and soon it’s not just the concert hall that needs saving.
I... I'm sorry, I need a moment. I'm still working through all my crazy, flaily feelings over this book. If any of you have read The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls and were worried that Ms. Legrand might not be able to live up to her smash debut, worry no more! Though Shadows isn't on the same level of freaky horror as Cavendish it excels in the same gothic, touching, heartfelt tone as its predecessor.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Rewind & Review (17)


Happy Sunday, everyone! It's the start of a new week, but first let's get the old week in order.

Blog Posts You May Have Missed
I really enjoyed my posts this week. Is that arrogant to say? But honestly, I got to review a book that I loved, vent my spleen about book turn-offs, and have a really great discussion with all of you about author-blogger interactions. It was an awesome week!

Books I Read
  • Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (part of ReReadathon 2013)
  • Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
I've decided to start listing the books I read in a week as well to give some publicity to books I don't bother to review. I wish I could review everything I read, but I honestly don't have the patience or the time. Reviews are HARD. That said, I don't want the unreviewed books to slip away unnoticed either.



Stuff I Received
  • The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (from Alexa at Alexa Loves Books)
  • Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi (from HarperCollins)
  • Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers audiobook (from AudioSync)
  • The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen audiobook (from Audiosync)
Between free stuff from AudioSync and more free stuff from generous people, it's been a pretty cool week. A big thanks to my pal Alexa, HarperCollins, and AudioSync!

Miscellaneous Happenings
  • Tor.com ferrets out some of the nastier truths of the Star Wars universe. What has been learned cannot be unlearned. I will never look at Ewoks the same way again.
  • Fresh Sherlock news straight from the Comic Con panel!
  • Also, Tom Hiddleston came to Comic Con in character, and it was awesome.
  • The Sandlot cast reunites after twenty years. (And they look just like themselves. It's freaky.)
  • The royal baby, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, was finally born. The internet exploded in a glitter-filled inferno of Jason Alexander and Curious George jokes.
  • England approved putting Jane Austen on the 10 pound note, which is totally cool.
  • Bill Nye the Science Guy talks on YouTube about killer asteroids. (The part around 4:22 in my favorite.)
  • I bought myself an external hard drive, so I won't have nightmares about my computer dying and losing all my stuff. Hooray!
  • It was my sister Sunny's birthday yesterday, so wish her happy birthday!
  • I read a really cool article about the gender-flipping meme. There's some language, so be forewarned, but it's a good read.
  • And the big announcement: I GOT AN INTERNSHIP! It's remote, with a literary agency, and I'm super-excited. That's all I can say. Just picture me doing a jig.
My miscellaneous happenings this week are skewed far more nerdy than bookish, but that's okay. Nerdy FTW!

I hope your week was as cool as mine. If you participate in any similar memes, drop me a link so I can see what you were up to!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

ReReadathon 2013 - Week Four


The last full week of ReReadathon 2013 is at an end. Four more days and then our time with our beloved rereads will be over. However, there's still time to sign up to win prizes. New entries are allowed, including recap/reflection posts. Don't delay! Check out the full details at my introduction post, and catch up on the other three weeks here, here, and here.

As we near the end of ReReadathon, I find myself slowing waaaaay doooown. I only reread Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo this week, but what an excellent decision on my part! I loved reuniting with Alina and found myself enjoying her even more the second time through. Oddly, I was less enamored with Mal, though I still love him dearly. I had also forgotten several scenes throughout the book, so it was fun reading things anew.

Now I've moved on to Siege and Storm, which is not a reread. I'm already in love with Sturmhond. You guys didn't lie about him!

I think Shadow and Bone will be my last reread. I'm still fairly drowning in BEA ARCs I need to read, and my Edelweiss galleys are starting to give me the side-eye. Still, we'll see. If my old boss will (FINALLY!) return I Hunt Killers to me, I may push aside all my ARCs and rejoin Jasper Dent and Dear Ol' Dad.

Soooo? How are your rereads going? Have you been able to reread all the books you wanted?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Blogger Side of Author-Blogger Interactions

At the beginning of this month, I wrote a long spiel about bad author behavior, author interactions with bloggers, and that stupid claim that somehow a book is equivalent to a baby. I stand by every word I wrote. However, in that same post, I promised a future post discussing bad blogger behavior, particularly as it pertains to interacting with authors. This is that post.

Bloggers, I love you, I really do. You are my people. You love books with an untarnished fervency, and all you want out of life is to be able to share that love with other like-minded people. Really, you're all just readers at heart, albeit readers with internet access and a free domain courtesy of Blogger or Wordpress, and as readers, you fangirl along with the rest of the book-loving population of the world.

But let's face it - you're not JUST readers. You're readers with a blog, a platform. Whereas other people just talk about their books, you're standing on the back of a dump truck with a megaphone. Sure, it may not seem like your words amount to much when surrounded by everyone else with their microphones and heavy-duty speakers, but that megaphone of yours still gives you power. 

The Marvel nerds among us are probably already starting to grumble. "Oh no, she's going to pull out that old Spider-man line about power and responsibility. Here it comes." I'm certainly not one to disappoint.


As a human being, you have a great many responsibilities, but your power as a blogger adds an extra heft to those responsibilities. Most of them are simple. Don't do illegal things. Don't plagiarize. Don't lie. Do your best and don't give half-hearted efforts. Check your sources. Don't be lazy in your research. Don't misrepresent the content of a book (over-exaggerating elements you don't like or making them up completely, for example.) However, in my opinion, the biggest and most important responsibility a blogger has is still a simple one.

Don't be a crappy human being.

I hear so many complaints (and do some complaining myself) about human interaction over the internet. People can be real jerks, often for no apparent reason. I can't do anything about the jerks, but I can take care of my end of things. I will be nice. I will be patient. I will be calm. If I refuse to be a jerk, then that makes one less jerk on the internet. 

You can do the same. In fact, as a blogger, I strongly believe that it is your responsibility to de-jerkify yourself. You are not one lone atom bumping into a handful of other atoms in this clump of mass we call the internet. Remember, you have power. You have reach. You are a a full-fledged chemical compound causing a chain reaction as you bounce from one end of the web to the other. The bigger of a jerk you are, the more drama you create, the more you'll create like changes in those around you. 


More than just not being a jerk, you can de-jerkify people around you by thinking ahead. For instance, instead of automatically @-ing an author or publisher on Twitter on that 2-star review of their book, think for a minute. How do you honestly expect them to react to the fact that you didn't like their work and pointedly hunted them down to tell them so? Or if you see another blogger with an awesome meme, think before whipping up a copycat meme. Imagine you worked hard on coming up with an original meme and some mooch came in and stole your thunder. Would you be pleased with that mooch? How much offense, anger, and hurt would you avoid by approaching the blogger beforehand to ask if they'd mind if you started their own meme?

If in doubt, think of the most sensitive, emotionally fragile person you know. Then imagine doing to them what you're about to do to that other person. Would your fragile cupcake of a friend be alright with it? What steps would you need to take to avoid any hurt feelings or outbursts on their end? Whatever those steps might be, do it.

"But Shelver," you complain, "that's ridiculous! I'm not going to tiptoe around some namby-pamby crybaby. I'm not doing anything wrong. If they're hurt, tough!"

Here's the thing about the internet. It's very difficult, sometimes, to read the true intention of a person through the words they write. There are no body cues, no facial expressions, no vocal intonations. Sarcasm and straight-talking read the same. It is very, very easy to have your words and intentions misconstrued. Err on the side of caution. Even if you were merely a citizen of the web with no social media clout, you should do so anyways so as not to be a crappy human being. But you are not merely a citizen of the web. You are a blogger with a megaphone, and you can wreck someone's day without even meaning to, because you have power. [See Dilbert above.]

On the other side of this de-jerkifying by example equation is the idea of perpetually standing down. I'm going to let you in on a little secret: not everyone is out to get you. In fact, I propose that very few people - if any - are deliberately trying to gun you down. 

This can apply to many different kinds of interactions on the web, but let's look at author-blogger relations specifically. In the past few months, it feels like there have been more author-blogger kerfuffles than ever. Some of that has to do with the fact that there are simply more bloggers and more authors than ever, so the number of total interactions is higher and the number of negative interactions rises accordingly.

Yay, common sense math!
I've already addressed the author side of things. Yes, authors need to take a chill pill and be less defensive, but bloggers, we are not blameless. Just as authors need to understand that bloggers are not out to get them, bloggers need to understand the reverse.

I've noticed a growing trend that makes me very uncomfortable. As readers, we bloggers fangirl (or fanboy) when authors talk to us. We feel special and honored when they tweet us or RT one of our posts. But as soon as an author interacts with us in any way other than to praise us, we scream like territorial paranoids. "GET OFF MY LAWN, YOU DANG ENTITLED HIPPIE AUTHOR! HELP, AUTHOR ATTACK! AUTHOR ATTACK!"

Stand the heck down, soldier.

Paranoid much?
Remember how a few paragraphs ago I was talking about not offending other people and being nice and using your brain? While reading, could you think of a few instances where you didn't use your brain, or maybe you weren't as nice as you could have been? Haven't you ever inexplicably offended someone because you just didn't think? Well, other people do that, too. Even authors. 

While being loyal is commendable, jumping into a disagreement or misunderstanding between two people is not wise, even if those two people are an author and a blogger. You want to defend your friend or the blogging community as a whole, whatever. That's fine. But too often I've seen other bloggers jump in to defend another blogger with the best of intentions... and I'm not always convinced that the blogger is in the right. We are not in a feud. We are on the same, book-loving team.

Seriously, I feel like this is what people are doing during
every author-blogger showdown before they even know details!
We've gotten stuck on this crazy cycle where authors and bloggers go back and forth and hurt each other (intentionally or unintentionally), and now we're at a point where each side is so freaking guarded that we can barely breathe without inciting a war. Some bloggers are mean, so authors feel like they're being bashed. Some authors abuse their power, so bloggers feel picked on. These abuses then spread to otherwise innocuous interactions until everyone is a flailing mess of hurt and indignation.

Yes, some authors do very mean things. They overstep their boundaries and try to throw their weight around where they're not welcome. But that doesn't mean that all authors do nor that they want to. If an author pops up to comment on your post, chill the heck out and read the dang comment before freaking out about your private space being infringed. (Because hey, it's not your private space. It's a blog. It's for public consumption. If you don't want comments, write a journal.) If an author mentions something on Twitter or elsewhere on the 'net and you JUST KNOW IT'S ABOUT YOU AND SOMETHING YOU SAID OMG, take a breath. Were you mentioned by name? Did the author give clear, defining characteristics that would point people in your direction? General allusions are allowed, you know. Just because you don't like it doesn't mean it can't or shouldn't be done.

In all your reactions, read the other person's words more than once. Read it normally, read it with the worst possible intention, then read it with the nicest. Remember that you can't judge tone or intent with absolute certainty. Is there any other interpretation for what's being said other than deliberate malice? Odds are there is. When in doubt, ask. "Hey, what you said is hitting me this way. Is that really how you meant it?"

I'm not saying you won't make mistakes. You will. I will. But that's no excuse not to try. (Wo)Man up. Think ahead and de-jerkify when you can. Don't be a crappy human being. Stand down. Maybe together we can make our corner of the internet a little bit more chill.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wishlist Wednesday #32

Hosted by Pen to Paper
Nick Pearson is pretending to be someone he isn’t. Not high school pretending. Witness Protection pretending. And the #1 rule is “stay low-key”. But, when his sole friend Eli dies in the school’s journalism room under mysterious circumstances, and Nick stumbles upon the conspiracy Eli planned on exposing, staying low-key takes a backseat to staying alive.

Newspaper Nerd Eli had a secret, an in-the-works story codenamed “Whispertown”. And it’s got a lot of folks interested. Like corrupt cops, the town’s shady mayor, and certain high-ranking government officials. Teaming with Eli’s estranged (and gorgeous) sister, Nick sets out to unravel the mystery and still maintain his cover. He’ll have to use all the deviant skills he’s gained from his racketeering dad, assassin godfather, and their Serbian gangster boss to find the truth. However, each clue brings him closer to answers he may not want. Whispertown is bigger than he could have ever imagined, and in its shadow stands a killer…a killer Nick fears may be his own father.
My fingers hurt. I've been making grabby hands after this book for WEEKS now. I'll admit, when I first saw the cover, I was dismissive. I thought it was cool that the person on the cover was black, and I loved the colors, but it looked like an inner-city book to me. Now, books about POCs in the inner-city are fine, but they're not for me. I wanted a minority main character who doesn't live in the slums or the ghetto or whatever.

Then I read the description and freaked the heck out. Witness Protection! Murder! Justice! Assassins and Serbian gangsters! All manned by a minority character. YES YES YES! I requested a digital ARC on Edelweiss, so now I can only wait and try not to writhe from longing.


What do you think of Fake ID? Does it interest you? And what book are you wishing for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Top 10 Tuesday: Words/Phrases That Make Me Avoid A Book

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Instalove or "mysterious new boy/girl"

I have a feeling this one will be on a great many lists, so I put it first to get it out of the way. UGH. I can't stand instalove. CANNOT STAND IT. Insta-attraction I don't mind, because it's real. You glance over, there's a cute guy, boom. Insta-attraction. What's not real is looking over, spotting a cute guy, and deciding that he is your One True Love and that you must forsake your friends, family, and everything you hold dear to be with said boy for all time. I mean, seriously? You don't know anything about him! What's his middle name? What's his favorite color? His favorite book? His childhood pet? Do you know ANYTHING about him other than that he's hot? No, you do not.

I combined instalove with the mysterious new person trope because no one falls into instalove with someone they know. They fall in love with handsome and mysterious strangers. It is very rare for a mysterious person to be mentioned in a synopsis without being a potential love interest.


Star-crossed lovers

Waahhhh our life is so haaaard! All the big, bad adults are keeping us apaaaaart. Waaaahhhh.


The South

Talk about your stereotypes. I live in the South. My family is from the South. I know the South. And while I don't doubt that the parts of the South that authors choose to portray exist, I wish they wouldn't all pick the same types over and over. Books in the South tend to show either` 1) small-town country bumpkins with a heart of gold, 2) snippy Southern Belles and class war, or 3) the mystical South as represented by New Orleans.

Geez. Despite stories to the contrary, there are big cities in the South. We have tall buildings, universities, and suburbs. No one's walking around in hoop skirts and bonnets or cowboy hats and overalls. Nor is the entire Southeast covered in swampland and cow pastures. I tend to steer away from books set in the South because I come out feeling irritated and/or patronized. Show a little imagination and research properly, or leave me alone.


Vampires/werewolves

Over. Done. Dead. Don't care.


Angels/demons

Theologically annoying and both types fall neatly into another category I try to avoid - the seductive "bad boy." Most angel/demon books tend to read like an overwrought angst fest. No thank you.



Witches

Not a fan. Next.

Gag.
Love triangles

Granted, some love triangles pull it off well. I understand why the MC is torn between two decent, likeable people who offer different things. However, most love triangles are not written that way. Most love triangles feature a waffling MC (usually female) who thinks with her fleeting emotions instead of her head. She then bounces back and forth between both boys, leading them both on and generally acting like a fluffy, waffling, horrible person. Love triangles often have a nasty habit of combining with instalove, the mysterious stranger, or the bad boy trope.

Clearly, anything with Shawn and Gus is the exception to the rule.
Civil War

My sister Sunny probably won't like to see this, but I don't enjoy books set during the Civil War. I think my hesitancy comes from the semi-predictable plot points that inevitably arise. The book will most likely feature one white and one black main character. They will encounter racist people. There will be problems and hardship. There will be at least one Rousing Speech about racism and inclusion and equality. Northerners will be good. Southerners will range from ignorant and misguided (more hoop skirts!) to actively malevolent and hateful.

I acknowledge that books about the Civil War and racism are important. But so many are ridiculously formulaic when it comes to including the points above, and very few bother to use shades of grey. (No, portraying a Southerner as merely clueless instead of evil is not a shade.) I read a Civil War book and I feel like I'm being lectured. So I close the book and find another, better one.

Yep, homeschooled. Watcha gonna do about it, Miss Priss?
Christian/Homeschooled Characters

As with books about The South, books about Christians and homeschoolers seem to tread the same old (incredibly inaccurate) paths. I have a hard time picking up secular books with Christian characters because the theology is inevitably wonky, and the characters in question are generally portrayed in an unflattering light. (Gee, Author, glad to see what you really think of me.)

Homeschoolers in fiction are portrayed as awkward, sheltered, naive kids who just need to learn to live a little, and it drives me NUTS. Personal experience and official studies have proven that, on average, homeschoolers actually socialize more than public schoolers. Their education is often more varied and intensive than public education as well. Or, as I've had to snarkily ask a time or two to a condescending public-schooler who worries that I have no friends, "Are you really so sheltered that you can only make friends at school?"

Again, quit it with the sloppy, stereotyped writing. Until then, I'll stay far away from books with these character types.


Sexytimes

I like romance. I like sweet gestures, gentle kisses, and passionately spoken declarations of love. I do not like knowing what goes on in the backseat of a parked car or behind closed doors. Such scenes make me feel incredibly voyeuristic. Any book that tries to entice me with words like "sultry," "seductive," or "steamy" will fail utterly. Keep it in your pants and out of my books.

As you can see, I have pretty strong opinions about what should be in my books, and I'm sure I'll think of a few more I should have added once I read yours. But that's enough about my opinions. Tell me yours. What do you think of my turn-offs? Are they yours, or do you like them?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Audiobook Review: THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
Audiobooks should come with warning labels. I downloaded a free copy of the audio for The Raven Boys from AudioSync as part of their free summer promotion. I honestly didn't have high hopes of actually liking the book, despite the hype going around the blogosphere, but it was free, so why not?

I nearly stopped listening a few minutes in. The narrator was a slow-speaking Southern man, and the opening chapter was filled with seances and ghosts and fortune-telling. Not my cup of tea. I almost unplugged my headphones right then and there. Luckily, I was on a walk and was still several blocks from my house, so I kept listening. And listening. And listening.

Audiobooks should come with warning labels. How else could I have prepared myself for how utterly obsessed I would become with this book?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Rewind & Review (16)


Hey all! I'm still trying to figure out how we made it through half of July already. I mean yeesh, really? Is summer really almost over? My word. Despite the flying time, it was a good week. We had a great discussion this week about writing and researching, and I got to review a book that I adored.

Blog Posts You May Have Missed
That was the week on the blog, and it was a good one, too.

I kinda sorta fell off the wagon when it came to buying books this week, but only a little. Sunny had a friend over, so we all went to the thrift store. It'd been my first time there in almost two months, so I think I did rather well.

Stuff I Won
  • The Geek's Guide to Dating by Eric Smith + poster (via LibraryThing)


Stuff I Bought
  • The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna
  • Everneath by Brodi Ashton
  • The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
  • The Dilbert Principle by Scott Adams
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • Cleopatra VII: Daughter of the Nile (a Royal Diaries book) by Kristiana Gregory
  • Elizabeth I: Red Rose of the House of Tudor (a Royal Diaries book) by Kathryn Lasky
  • The Winter of Red Snow: The Revolutionary War Diary of Abigail Jane Stewart (a Dear America book) by Kristiana Gregory
  • Voyage on the Great Titanic: The Diary of Margaret Ann Brady (a Dear America book) by Ellen Emerson White
  • Page (Protector of the Small #2) by Tamora Pierce
  • Squire (Protector of the Small #3) by Tamora Pierce
  • Lady Knight (Protector of the Small #4) by Tamora Pierce
  • I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier
Stuff I Received
  • SIGNED Tokyo Heist by Diana Renn (traded via YABE)
  • Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter (traded via YABE)
  • The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (from the publisher via NetGalley)
Not a bad haul, eh? I'm especially excited to start those Tamora Pierce books. I just need to find the first book. A big, big thanks to YABE, NetGalley, Quirk Books, LibraryThing, and Disney Hyperion!

Miscellaneous Happenings
Lots of exclamation points in the happenings, but what can I say? I'm excited! 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

ReReadathon 2013 - Week Three


Week Three of ReReadathon 2013 is officially in the bag! There's only a week and a half left, but if you're new to ReReadathon and would like to win prizes, there's still time to sign up. Check out full details at my introduction post, and then catch up on the other weeks here and here.

This week, I read four rereads, which pleases me. It's been a week of series books. I read The King of Attolia and A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner and Heist Society and Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter. I also started The Book Thief and then set it aside when I discovered that I wasn't in the right mood, so I guess you could say I reread 4.15 books. I hope I can get back to The Book Thief before ReReadathon ends, but The Book Thief is a literary masterpiece and is not to be forced.

The King of Attolia grows in magnificence with each reread. The first time I read it, I was not pleased. I didn't want some bumbling buffoon named Costis. I wanted my Gen! And I didn't want my Gen to be viewed the way Costis viewed him. I wanted out of Costis's head ASAP. But after my fourth or fifth reread, I ADORE this book. Seriously, it's the tiniest of fractions away from beating out The Queen of Attolia. MWT's books get progressively bleaker with each installment, and the walls around Gen seem to get closer and closer. He has such dramatic lows and highs in this book, and it gets me every time. Also, there is not one but TWO bromances in this book, as well as more insight into one of the best romances of all time. Sigh.

I'm hoping that my change of heart for The King of Attolia will transfer itself to A Conspiracy of Kings, for I was as meh about it during my reread as I was the first time I tried it. Don't get me wrong, it's still an MWT book and therefore top notch. And I love Bunny Sophos. But there was too much Sophos and not enough Gen. Too much passivity and not enough skullduggery. I just wasn't hooked. Still, that doesn't keep me from begging for the next book. How long must we wait, Megan Whalen Turner? HOW LONG?!

Heist Society and Uncommon Criminals were as great as always. I was a bit pickier about the writing this time around, and some of the twists seemed a little thinner than I remembered, but it didn't matter. Kat! The Bagshaws! Uncle Eddie! Simon! Gabriella! HALE! It was such a blast reuniting with the crew and laughing at their antics.

My plan is to continue the fun by reading Perfect Scoundrels, which I've had on my shelf since March and still haven't read. When that's over, I'll be back at my rereads to take advantage of this last week and a half before I have to return to my review books.

Your turn! I want to hear all about how your rereads are going. And don't forget, if you write a recap or reflection post, you can add it to the main linky as an extra prize entry!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Cover Love #33


Theo is better now.

She's eating again, dating guys who are almost appropriate, and well on her way to becoming an elite ballet dancer. But when her oldest friend, Donovan, returns home after spending four long years with his kidnapper, Theo starts reliving memories about his abduction—and his abductor.

Donovan isn't talking about what happened, and even though Theo knows she didn't do anything wrong, telling the truth would put everything she's been living for at risk. But keeping quiet might be worse.
Mmm. Mmm mmm mmm. Yes. Just... all over yes. I've had this book on my TBR list ever since I first read the synopsis (back in DECEMBER), but this cover clinches it. The light and shadow, the sparse colors, her skirt, it's all too perfect and wonderful. If the book inside is half as amazing as its cover, I'll be one happy girl.

What do you think of this cover? And what cover are you loving this week?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Writing: The Great Mystery


I like to study things I don't understand. It's why I like to skim through books on quantum physics and black holes, traffic laws and late-mergers, the psychological profiles of serial killers and the inner workings of the human body. If you read my bookshelf tour post, you'd know that these topics and more populate my shelves. In college, my friends would tease me about putting people in jars. Mentally, I'd stick a particularly interesting person in a jar and tap tap tap at the glass to study their reactions. Lots of fun.

Somethings, though, I can't understand for the life of me, and it's very frustrating, especially when everyone else on the blogosphere seems to get it. So here it is, my big confession: I don't understand this whole writing thing.

Every single one of my blogger friends are working on at least one WIP (work-in-progress). Some of them are juggling multiple manuscripts. They're tweeting about word counts and word battles and Camp NaNo (the July version of National Novel Writing Month). and, of course, all the lovely authors I follow are talking about the same things, in addition to revising and editing and ARCs and tours. It's not just book talk. It's manuscript talk, and that's something on a completely different plane.

Don't get me wrong, I love reading about all that stuff. In fact, when I was younger, I thought I might be one of those people someday. I liked writing in school, and I would often make up stories in my head. I even wrote a first chapter for a contest once and to this day have people asking me if I ever finished the story. But that's all I've ever had. An opening scene. A general plot point. An interesting face. A cool ending with absolutely nothing leading up to it.


I think the problem is I'm a plotter longing to be a pantser. For those of you who don't know the lingo, plotters plot out EVERYTHING ahead of time. They make detailed character studies, plot every single point of their novel, and have all their details carefully lined up before they start to write. Pantsers, on the other hand, write by the seat of their pants. They just DO. I'm a plotter who doesn't have patience to plot.

For example, if I wanted to write a fantasy book, I couldn't just write a fantasy book. I'd need to know what the world looks like. And I couldn't just make a map. I'd have to research what type of geography naturally flows into another type. You'd never find a tropical rainforest and a desert side by side, for instance. They might be near each other, but I don't think they could coexist like Fangorn and the plains of Rohan. But I don't know for sure. Hence the research.

And research is another one of those things I don't understand. I mean, I do, in a way. I understand a type of research. I understand researching for essays and for studies. I was an English major for three years, a psychology professor's assistant for one. I get that stuff. But I also get that I had access to a massive physical library and an even more massive digital collection. (Two of each, if you count the time I studied abroad in England and had access to both schools.) It might take me a while to find the proper sources, but I knew that what I needed was already there. Now all I have is Google (which can be remarkably unhelpful) and my podunk public library system.

Part of the problem, I think, comes from having to research on my own behalf. I'm great at researching for others, even if "for others" just means for the professor who will eventually receive my paper. That's because I know how deeply I need to dig for a paper, and when it's okay to stop. I think if I started digging for something of my own, I'd either stop far too early (because I'm bored) or would never stop at all (because I'm a freaking perfectionist, and that's how we roll.)

To reiterate plainly what has been implied throughout this post, let me state that I have no plans to write anything. None. Parents who read this blog, take note and douse your hopes. However, I like to study things I don't understand. I like to learn. And I recognize a place where I can improve. And since undoubtedly a large number of you are secretly or not so secretly scribbling away at works of your own, I'll ask you.

What's your plan of attack? How much do you plan? How much do you research? And how do you get your research done at all? In other words, please step into my jar so I may poke you. Specifics are welcome.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Top 10 Tuesday - Authors Who Deserve More Recognition

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
Whew, what a hard week this was. When I first started compiling this week's TTT, I had far too many names, so I put in place two very important rules.

1) No picking an author solely based on one book (so no Elizabeth Fama, Sarah Beth Durst, A.C. Gaughen, etc.).

2) No picking an author who has received many, many accolades, no matter how much I'd like them to receive more (so no Robin LaFevers, Ally Carter, Elizabeth Wein, etc.).

I broke both of these rules once and still only ended up with eight authors, but taking away the rules would leave me with far too many, so eight it is.

Megan Whalen Turner. Say hello to rule breaker #1. Megan Whalen Turner is well-known and has received several awards. However, I still do not believe that she is as popular as she should be. Seriously, this woman is amazing. If I could write like ANYONE, it would be her. The fact that there are YA readers out in the world who haven't even heard of her saddens me more than I can say.

Elizabeth Gaskell. Aaaand here's rule breaker #2. I've only read one of Elizabeth Gaskell's books, though I've watched BBC miniseries of both North & South and Cranford. But let me tell you that this woman is a genius. I grew up a devoted Austenite, but for me, Gaskell BY FAR surpasses Austen. Her characters are fully realized and deep; her settings are eloquently crafted; her romances are divine. Ugh. So, so good.

Claire Legrand. I still don't understand why more people aren't talking about Claire Legrand. Her first book, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, completely blew me away. It's MG gothic horror at its finest. Her second book, The Year of Shadows, comes out in August and is equally fantastic, if not more so. I can only console myself with the belief that once you all read Shadows for yourselves, you will understand how awesome this woman's writing is.

Dee Henderson. I think Ms. Henderson is pretty well-known in the Christian fiction community, but I wish she were more widely recognized in the secular community as well. Her O'Malley series is FAB, as is her True Valor series. Hot guys, thrilling mysteries, clean romance... What else could a girl ask for? My blogger friend Ems devoted an entire month of Sundays to Ms. Henderson's work, and I strongly suggest you all check out her posts.

Rae Carson. I maaaay have broken the second rule with this one as well, though I'm not sure. I love Rae Carson, and my friends love Rae Carson, but I can't tell how much everyone else loves her, and THEY SHOULD. They so should. Her Fire & Thorns series is one of the best fantasy series in my collection. I'm waiting for a few more books to crown her officially, but right now she's up there with Pierce, Turner, and Cashore.

Gerald Morris. MG Arthurian retellings, hooray! I love Mr. Morris's Squire's Tales books. They're fun and subversive and stinkin' hilarious.

Alan Bradley. All my love and more to Flavia de Luce, the precocious, poison-loving middle-schooler charged with solving Mr. Bradley's sleepy English mysteries. The pacing is different from my normal mysteries, but the characters are so intriguing, especially razor-sharp Flavia.

Jeri Mass. This last author is responsible for one of my favorite childhood series, Derwood Inc. There are, if I remember correctly, six books in the series that follow the Derwood kids through their adventures. As members of a newly mixed family, the kids are still trying to get a feel for each other as they rocket headlong into mysteries and adventures. From adventures in a button factory, fighting neighborhood bullies, kidnappings, to intrigue at an alpaca farm, I enjoyed every second with the Derwood kids.

There you have it, my top eight! I'm sure I'll find a few more as I visit your lists; if I do, I'll add them to the bottom as an honorable mention. Have you read any of the authors I mentioned? What did you think?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Review: THE TIME FETCH by Amy Herrick

Edward picks up what he thinks is a rock. He doesn’t know it is a sleeping Time Fetch—and touching it will release its foragers too soon and alter the entire fabric of time and space. Soon the bell rings to end class just as it has begun. Buses race down streets, too far behind schedule to stop for passengers. Buildings and sidewalks begin to disappear as the whole fabric of the universe starts to unravel.

To try to stop the foragers, Edward must depend on the help of his classmates Feenix, Danton, and Brigit—whether he likes it or not. They all have touched the Fetch, and it has drawn them together in a strange and thrilling adventure. The boundaries between worlds and dimensions are blurred, and places and creatures on the other side are much like the ones they’ve always known—but slightly twisted, a little darker, and much more dangerous.
I almost put this book back. Looking back, I can hardly believe my own potential stupidity, but it's true. My Aussie roommate Hannah picked up The Time Fetch at BEA and offered it to me. I accepted, as it had been on my galleys-to-find list, but I had so many galleys already. If I was going to cull my stack, best to put back an MG right? I am primarily a YA blogger, after all. And I wasn't so sure I liked it.

But then I started reading. And reading. And reading. I couldn't stop. Some people say "Talk dirty to me" yeah? Not my thing. Amy Herrick did better. She talked nerdy to me.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Rewind & Review (15)


Ah, it was another beautifully relaxing (if wet and stormy) week for me. I hope your week was filled with much more sunshine and far less crackling thunderbolts. Yet again, it's been a pretty quiet week as far as things I need to catch you all up on. I probably should be using my free time to catch up on some long-planned blog improvements, but I'm a lazy bum.

Blog Posts You May Have Missed
Like I said, a sparse week, but I enjoyed the posts I did crank out this week. I was especially amused by your reactions to my bookshelf tour post. Apparently, what I consider to be everyday organization is not all that ordinary. It pays to be anal-retentive, I guess.

Stuff I Bought
  • The Art of War by Sun Tzu
I wish I could pat myself on the back for only having bought one thing this week, but the above list isn't the best representation of my week. I only count books that have actually arrived in my total, so next week's tally should be... interesting. Also, I don't count things bought for other people.

Very few happenings to catch you all up on this week, but each item listed below made a big splash in my life for one reason or another.

Miscellaneous Happenings
The biggest happening this week for me is that I cut my hair! For reference, this was my hair during BEA, which is possibly the shortest it's been for several years:

I'm on the left and Alexa from Alexa Loves Books is on the right.
And this is my hair now:

I'm awful at selfies. And glamour shots. Hence my bathroom shot with an apparently oversized hand.
The best part is I didn't tell a soul what I was planning, so coming home was a lot of fun. My mom couldn't figure out why I had my hair in a ponytail.

That's it for my week! How was yours?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

ReReadathon 2013 - Week Two


Thus ends Week Two of ReReadathon 2013. Sound the gong, Jeeves! If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check out my intro post here. If you'd like to check out the wrap-up for Week One, click here.

If you remember, I was proud of myself last week for tearing through the Fire & Thorns series by Rae Carson. While that was an accomplishment for me, I must say that by comparison I was freaking awesome this week. This week, I read all four Throne of Glass novellas, Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, AND Fire by Kristin Cashore, as well as squeezing in a non-reread of Crown of Midnight. And since I'm writing this Thursday evening, I may have finished King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner by now as well. I know this may not be super whoop-di-doo to some of you, but this is a huge deal for me. Being able to tear through a book is one of the joys of rereading. I know what's coming. I don't need to carefully pick through the details for fear of missing something. I can just... enjoy. And I happen to enjoy most books on turbo-speed.

Yet again, I'm also fascinated by the things I pick up while rereading. For instance, all of the emotions I felt while reading Maas's books the first time were heightened during the reread. Because I knew what was coming, the novellas tore me up THAT MUCH MORE. The Fae subplot of ToG still annoyed me, but since I wasn't waiting for Arobynn or Farran to pop up at any moment, I was able to enjoy the story that was presented. And though I enjoyed Fire less than my first read through, I am anticipating being able to reread Bitterblue that much more.

And, of course, King of Attolia always presents me with something new every time I read it, which is why this post is ending here. Can't keep Gen waiting, now can we?

The ReReadathon linky is still open, so don't forget to link up your posts. :) Can't wait to hear how your own rereads are going!

Note of clarification: Those of you who haven't done an initial post can join the ReReadathon; it's not too late. Those of you who HAVE already joined can link up discussion posts for extra entries into the giveaway.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Shelver's Shelves - A Tour

Caution: The following post contains multiple photographs of bookshelves, boxes, and books. The creator's intent is to show off her collection. Please be prepared for seemingly illogical arrangements and much blathering.

With that out of the way, welcome to my bookshelf tour. Unlike some of the prettier tours out there, mine's a little haphazard. All pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them, if you feel so inclined to snoop on my titles. Buckle up!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wishlist Wednesday #31

Hosted by Pen To Paper




Rebecca "Rebel" Blue, a loner rebel and budding artist, reluctantly completes the bucket list of Kennedy Green, an over-committed do-gooder classmate who dies in a car accident following a stint in detention where both girls were forced to consider their morality and write bucket lists. In this hilarious and life-changing journey, Rebel meets up with a nice boy, a gimpy dolphin, and a past she's tried to forget as this bad girl tries to do good.

I still haven't decided what draws me so strongly to this book. Part of the allure has to do with the title, specifically Rebel Blue's name. It's such a cool, funky name, and I love reading about rebels. Also, every time I read the name "Rebel Blue" I start jamming out to Rosin Murphy's song "Ruby Blue," which is a win if I ever heard one.

Of course, the story itself sounds good, too. Bucket lists are great, especially when they're not your own.

What do you think of Goodbye, Rebel Blue? Will you read it? And what are you wishing for this Wednesday?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Review: SPIES AND PREJUDICE by Talia Vance

Fields’ Rule #1: Don’t fall for the enemy.

Berry Fields is not looking for a boyfriend. She’s busy trailing cheaters and liars in her job as a private investigator, collecting evidence of the affairs she’s sure all men commit. And thanks to a pepper spray incident during an eighth grade game of spin the bottle, the guys at her school are not exactly lining up to date her, either.

So when arrogant—and gorgeous—Tanner Halston rolls into town and calls her “nothing amazing,” it’s no loss for Berry. She’ll forget him in no time. She’s more concerned with the questions surfacing about her mother’s death.

But why does Tanner seem to pop up everywhere in her investigation, always getting in her way? Is he trying to stop her from discovering the truth, or protecting her from an unknown threat? And why can’t Berry remember to hate him when he looks into her eyes?

With a playful nod to Jane Austen, Spies and Prejudice will captivate readers as love and espionage collide.
Just a warning upfront: I'm about to eviscerate this book. That supposed "rule" that some people quote to make bloggers play nice? Not going for that here. If I think a book sucked, I'll say so.

Guys, this book sucked.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Rewind & Review (14)


Ah, summertime. Don't you love summertime? I do. Work-wise, the time of year doesn't change anything for me, but I love how everything else seems to slow down when we hit the hotter months. Fewer new releases to catch up on, fewer "big news" items to worry about. Peace. And hey, maybe sometime this month I'll actually make it to the beach for the first time in forever!

Anyways, the blog has been pretty normal this week, though I enjoyed the discussion posts this week and there IS a giveaway you all should check out. (It's international!)

Blog Posts You Might Have Missed


Once again, I'm doing my best to keep book-buying to a minimum (a complete ban just isn't feasible), and I'm very pleased with the items I bought, won, and received this week. There's not a lot, but it's all quality.

Stuff I Bought
  • Meant To Be by Lauren Morrill
  • The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (both from Tabitha)

Stuff I Won
  • Rush by Eve Silver
  • Vortex by S.J. Kincaid (both from Epic Reads)

Stuff I Received
  • SIGNED The Oathbreaker's Shadow by Amy McCulloch (from Jess <3)
  • Defiance by C.J. Redwine (traded via YA Book Exchange)

A big thanks to Tabitha, the Epic Reads gals (and Snarkles!), Jess, and my fellow traders at YABE.

No miscellaneous happenings this week because 1) I haven't been paying attention, and 2) nothing major has happened that I know of. So relax, catch up on life, and enjoy your summer!