Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cover Love #23

Josie Byrne's life is spiraling out of control. Her parents are divorcing, her boyfriend Nick has grown distant, and her physics teacher has it in for her. When she's betrayed by the two people she trusts most, Josie thinks things can't get worse.

Until she starts having dreams about a girl named Jo. Every night at the same time—3:59 a.m.

Jo's life is everything Josie wants: she's popular, her parents are happily married, and Nick adores her. It all seems real, but they're just dreams, right? Josie thinks so, until she wakes one night to a shadowy image of herself in the bedroom mirror – Jo. 

Josie and Jo realize that they are doppelgängers living in parallel universes that overlap every twelve hours at exactly 3:59. Fascinated by Jo's perfect world, Josie jumps at the chance to jump through the portal and switch places for a day.

But Jo’s world is far from perfect. Not only is Nick not Jo's boyfriend, he hates her. Jo's mom is missing, possibly insane. And at night, shadowy creatures feed on human flesh.

By the end of the day, Josie is desperate to return to her own life. But there’s a problem: Jo has sealed the portal, trapping Josie in this dangerous world. Can she figure out a way home before it’s too late?

From master of suspense Gretchen McNeil comes a riveting and deliciously eerie story about the lives we wish we had – and how they just might kill you.
Oh my gosh! This cover dropped two weeks ago, and I knew immediately that I needed to feature it on Cover Love. Wowza. I love minimalistic covers. LOVE THEM. Don't know what's going on with glowy-eyed Creeper over on the side there, but I'm digging the black. Oh, and the flippy analog clock numbers!

(I know, I'm being incredibly articulate right now.)

Essentially, I like this cover because it's different. The designers could have gone the whole mirror-image girls route like so many books have done recently. (Pivot Point only being the most recent example.) Those covers were cool at first, but now there are so many of them. But 3:59? This is different. It's bold. It's pretty. It'll stand out on bookstore shelves (and nothing pleases me more than a spiffy-looking bookstore shelf). And it looks great when signed by a silver Sharpie.

Taken from a recent tweet by Ms. McNeil
See? Preeeeeetty. Also, may I just say that the the synopsis gives me heebie-jeebies?

What cover are you loving this week?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pay To Browse?

An article hit this week at The Bookseller talking about the possibility of bookstores charging their patrons to browse their stock. Supposedly, the idea is being floated around as a way for bookstores to stay afloat as they compete against Amazon and other cheap e-distributors.

David Tennant is baffled by your illogic.
As a bookshelver, may I just say that this is one of the stupidest things I've ever heard.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Top 10 Tuesday: My Top Auto-Buy Authors

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
This week's topic is another one that I've looked forward to for a long while. I'm very careful with my money and loathe to part with it. I hate the idea of dropping $20 on a book only to find out that I dislike it. I read everything before buying; the library is my friend. But a few authors have proven themselves awesome enough and trustworthy enough to earn a spot on my mental auto-buy list.

In alphabetical order, here are those authors:

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Review: THE RUNAWAY KING by Jennifer Nielsen

Just weeks after Jaron has taken the throne, an assassination attempt forces him into a deadly situation. Rumors of a coming war are winding their way between the castle walls, and Jaron feels the pressure quietly mounting within Carthya. Soon, it becomes clear that deserting the kingdom may be his only hope of saving it. But the further Jaron is forced to run from his identity, the more he wonders if it is possible to go too far. Will he ever be able to return home again? Or will he have to sacrifice his own life in order to save his kingdom?

The stunning second installment of The Ascendance Trilogy takes readers on a roller-coaster ride of treason and murder, thrills and peril, as they journey with the Runaway King!
As this is a review of a sequel, be forewarned that I will not avoid any spoilers for the first book in the series. If you have not read The False Prince, I strongly suggest you archive this post for later. However, I won't spoil The Runaway King, so if you're all caught up, keep reading.

Friday, February 22, 2013

4-in-1 Review: A Techno-thriller, Two Retellings, And An Anthology.

Good Wednesday to you all! Instead of a typical review, I decided to try something a little different. I have several books, both from last year and this year, that I read and never bothered to review. I just didn't have enough to say to warrant separate reviews. Rather than toss them aside, I've decided to give mini-reviews. (Well, mini for me, anyways.)

Emma Townsend has always believed in stories-the ones she reads voraciously, and the ones she creates. Perhaps it's because she feels like an outsider at her exclusive prep school, or because her stepmother doesn't come close to filling the void left by her mother's death. And her only romantic prospect-apart from a crush on her English teacher-is Gray Newman, a long-time friend who just adds to Emma's confusion. But escape soon arrives in an old leather-bound copy of Jane Eyre...

Reading of Jane's isolation sparks a deep sense of kinship. Then fate takes things a leap further when a lightning storm catapults Emma right into Jane's body and her nineteenth-century world. As governess at Thornfield, Emma has a sense of belonging she's never known-and an attraction to the brooding Mr. Rochester. Now, moving between her two realities and uncovering secrets in both, Emma must decide whether her destiny lies in the pages of Jane's story, or in the unwritten chapters of her own...
MY THOUGHTS: Not a particularly bad book, but I didn't enjoy it. Emma bounces back and forth between both worlds. She enjoys both, but I feel comfortable in neither. I didn't care what happened to Emma or the extra characters in either setting. Only once we get to the end when Emma defends her thesis do I understand the vibe I'm receiving. It feels like the thesis was, in fact, the author's, and the story was an elaborate device mixed with fan fiction to further promote her point of view regarding the treatment of women in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. Again, not a bad book, but it wasn't for me.

An unthinkable danger. An unexpected choice. Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of Lord Ranulf's bailiff---a revolting man who has made unwelcome advances on Annabel in the past.

Believing that life in a nunnery is the best way to escape the escalation of the bailiff's vile behavior and to preserve the faith that sustains her, Annabel is surprised to discover a sense of security and joy in her encounters with Lord Ranulf. As Annabel struggles to confront her feelings, she is involved in a situation that could place Ranulf in grave danger. Ranulf's future, and possibly his heart, may rest in her hands, and Annabel must decide whether to follow the plans she has cherished or the calling God has placed on her heart.
MY THOUGHTS: Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tales, so Melanie Dickerson had big shoes to fill. I did like the twists she put on the story. Annabel (haha, get it?) is sent to work for the disfigured and "beastly" Lord Ranulf to save her ungrateful family from indentured servitude. Like Belle, she is kind, well-read, and patient, though she does have a temper. Unlike Belle, Annabel's dream is to join the convent. In the place of Gaston is a handsy baliff, and Lord Ranulff's housekeeper fills in admirably for Mrs. Potts.

I wasn't overwhelmed by giddy feelings or anything, but the retelling was fairly decent. There were strong Christian overtones, of course, but they didn't hamper the story. This is a respectable, middle-of-the-curve story.

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 called AMRF threatens his life in no uncertain terms.

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.
MY THOUGHTS: I really could not get into this book. I've banished it from my mind so far that most of my notes don't even make sense anymore. I remember disliking the unnecessary profanities, getting prickly at the stereotypical view of all foster parents as cruel/selfish/lazy/apathetic, and becoming annoyed at all the proper nouns. DTA felt like it capitalized everything. Ugh. I was also far more bored than I should be with this teen version of the hacker group Anonymous. Anonymous is cool. PERSEFoNE was not.

In this anthology, 20 authors explore the dark and hidden meanings behind some of the most beloved Mother Goose nursery rhymes through short story retellings. The dark twists on classic tales range from exploring whether Jack truly fell or if Jill pushed him instead to why Humpty Dumpty, fragile and alone, sat atop so high of a wall. The authors include Nina Berry, Sarwat Chadda, Leigh Fallon, Gretchen McNeil, and Suzanne Young.
MY THOUGHTS: I'm afraid I was less than pleased. I wanted to like it. No, I wanted to love it, but so many of the stories fell flat. None of them made me shiver. None of them made me gasp. Very few had any strong connections to the rhyme chosen (okay, the one based on Hickory Dickory Dock did a pretty good job both at being interesting and connecting to its rhyme). Only a handful made me wish for a full-length tale based on the characters presented. In most cases, the authors seemed to think that having someone die qualified the tale as "dark." As someone who has read and reread Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories That Scared Even Me, I beg to differ. Now THAT is a dark anthology.


Apparently, the only time I have nothing much to say is when I'm not thrilled with a book. Still, I know people who have liked each of these books, so I encourage you all to give them a try for yourself.

Note: I was given an ARC of Two and Twenty Dark Tales by the publisher for review via NetGalley. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

BEA 2013 - Roommate(s) Wanted

It's official, you guys! I'M GOING TO BEA!!

In case you all haven't memorized every post I've ever written (for shame!), going to BEA this year was one of my resolutions for 2013. I agonized and moaned over the decision and the money involved for weeks, but I finally put on my big girl pants and registered.

Pardon me while I happy dance.

So I've registered, I've put in my notice for time off at work, I've booked my flight both to and from NYC. Now I just need to reserve a hotel room. I even have a nice place I'm looking at; I just haven't booked it yet.

The problem is that NYC is kind of (read: REALLY) expensive. The best way to help defray those costs hotel-wise is to share some of that cost, which means I need a roommate for BEA. I just don't have one yet, which is making me more than a little nervous.

The first motive for writing this post was to squeal/flail over officially preparing to go to BEA (and NYC! for my first time EVER!). But the second motive was to put out some feelers.

Anyone else need a roommate? Anyone else interested in finding a roommate? I'm not saying you have to commit or anything, but it's past time for me to put out some feelers.

For those wondering: I don't smoke, I don't crazy-party, I'm relatively tidy (no comments from the familial peanut gallery, please), and I have no interest in murdering anyone in their sleep. See? Perfect roomie material!

If anyone's tentatively interested (and for-sure-for-sure going to BEA), drop me a line, okay? OR you could say something in the comments, because even if you don't want to room with me, you might find someone else to room with.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wishlist Wednesday #23

Hosted by Pen To Paper
Cory Graff is not alone in her head. Bound to a deal of desperation made when she was a child, Cory’s mind houses the Furies—the hawk and the serpent—lingering always, waiting for her to satisfy their bloodlust. After escaping the asylum where she was trapped for years, Cory knows how to keep the Furies quiet. By day, she lives a normal life, but by night, she tracks down targets the Furies send her way. And she brings down Justice upon them.

Cory’s perfected her system of survival, but when she meets a mysterious boy named Niko at her new school, she can’t figure out how she feels about him. For the first time, the Furies are quiet in her head around a guy. But does this mean that Cory’s finally found someone who she can trust, or are there greater factors at work? As Cory’s mind becomes a battlefield, with the Furies fighting for control, Cory will have to put everything on the line to hold on to what she’s worked so hard to build.
There are several Fury-related books coming out this year, but I think I'm the most excited for this one. The description on Goodreads describes it as Greek mythology meets Dexter. I haven't watched Dexter, but the idea of a vigilante for justice has its appeal. I love that she used to live in an asylum, that she only works at night, and that she learns to doubt the voices in her head. I predict some major drama to come.

I sort of cheated on this one, since it's not a book I'm technically wishing for. The ARC is sitting on my shelf, waiting patiently to be read closer to the release date. But still, I'm excited and wanted to share this book with all of you!

What book are you wishing for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Top 10 Tuesday: Favorite Humorous Characters

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
I do believe that this week's topic was the hardest topic I have ever attempted. The original prompt was Top 10 Favorite Characters from X Genre. What? I knew myself. I knew I would pick either YA Fantasy or YA Dystopian/Sci-Fi, and then I would pick the same characters and books that I've talked about a million times. That's just the way I am.

Instead, I decided to do things a little differently. Rather than focus on a specific genre, I pulled together a list of characters from all genres that genuinely made me laugh. It's a very exclusive club, but I suppose you could say that the arrival of any of these characters on the page instantly reclassifies their book as humor. Did I bend the rules a little (a lot)? Yes. But do you see me apologizing? No.

I give you my Top 10 Favorite Humorous Characters by category.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Review: BRUISED by Sarah Skilton

When Imogen, a sixteen-year-old black belt in Tae Kwon Do, freezes during a holdup at a local diner, the gunman is shot and killed by the police, and she blames herself for his death. Before the shooting, she believed that her black belt made her stronger than everyone else -- more responsible, more capable. But now her sense of self has been challenged and she must rebuild her life, a process that includes redefining her relationship with her family and navigating first love with the boy who was at the diner with her during the shootout.

With action, romance, and a complex heroine, Bruised introduces a vibrant new voice to the young adult world -- full of dark humor and hard truths.
Blast the trumpets! Throw the confetti! For I, Shelver, diehard fantasy/sci-fi addict and perpetually distrustful reader of contemporary, have found a contemporary book that she loves. And not just any contemporary book. An issue book!


Friday, February 15, 2013

Cover Reveal: A WOUNDED NAME by Dot Hutchison

Good MORNING to you all! I have a wonderful treat for you all today. I have the privilege today to be part of a cover reveal. My very first!

But not just any cover reveal, oh no. I get to reveal the cover of A Wounded Name, the debut novel of my dear friend Dot Hutchison! HUZZAH!! (Really, do you think I would use so many exclamation marks for anyone else?)

The cover and synopsis are below the jump-break, so head on down!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cover Love #22

There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends…and he’s gone.

They call it the Heist.

Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.

Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?
I don't know what's going on in this cover. What's with the tree? Why is the floor made of glass tiles? Who is the boy (presumably Gray) following? Why is there no Wall in this picture if it's such a big deal.

Then I decide that I don't care, because LOOK AT IT. It's futuristic with the glass floors and ominous pointy buildings looming in from the sides. And those colors. Gah! Every time I catch sight of this cover online, I have to stop and stare again, because the colors make me so happy. I can't wait to see what it looks like on my shelf.

What do you think of this cover? And what cover do you love this week?

Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

I know I'm really late to the party, but I've just started watching The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. I know most of you are probably already acquainted with the series, but perhaps a few of you are not.

So here's the skinny.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a modern day retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen told in the form of a vlog (video blog) on YouTube. It's really cool.

Lizzie Bennet is a 20-something grad student living at home with her family as she works on her master's degree in mass communications. As a thesis project, she has started The Lizzie Bennet Diaries with the help of her best friend, filmmaking genius Charlotte. In the course of her vlog, in which she details the daily events going on in her life, we get to meet the rest of the Bennet clan, as well as other friends and annoyances, and watch the story of Pride and Prejudice unfold in an entirely unique manner.

I'm going to assume that you all know the basic story of Pride and Prejudice. Even if you haven't read the book or watch one of the movie adaptions (and you should, you know), anything I say about the characters here won't spoil it for you. I'm only 3/4ths of the way through the current episodes (they're not done yet) and I haven't gotten into the extra material such as Lydia's videos or Charlotte's videos, but here are some of the characters I've met so far. [Note: I thought about putting their pictures up, but half the surprise is finding out how they'll look, so I've only included pictures of those who appear in the first episode.]

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Top 10 Tuesday: Favorite Romances

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
Ah, love. I may not be a big fan of Valentine's Day, but do adore a proper romance in my books. However, this list was surprisingly hard for me to write. There are so many books that boast excellent characters but less-than-stellar romances. Or maybe the romances were spicy but dysfunctional (which is really not my thing). Or maybe the romance in question is still developing, in which case I won't vote for them until the series is further along. Or maybe the book itself is AWESOME, but the romance is a secondary consideration at best.

That's enough caveats, I think. I'm sure I'll read other posts and kick myself for forgetting a special pairing. Please note that THERE ARE SPOILERS BELOW. In no particular order:

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Review: ALSO KNOWN AS by Robin Benway

Being a 16-year-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies has its moments, good and bad.

Pros: Seeing the world one crime-solving adventure at a time. Having parents with super cool jobs.

Cons: Never staying in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend.

But for Maggie Silver, the biggest perk of all has been avoiding high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. Then Maggie and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, and all of that changes. She'll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school's security system, and befriend one aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the essential information she needs to crack the case . . . all while trying not to blow her cover.
I've been picking a lot of pokeable books lately. By pokeable, I mean the type of book that bears further examination once the reading is over. Either I like it but don't know why, like it but am stopped from full-blown love by certain elements, dislike it yet and am stopped from full-blown hate by good elements, or am just plain confused. I poke the book like a cat might a bug, hoping that it will reveal its true nature in turn.

Also Known As was pokeable.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Blogger Spotlight - Clear Eyes, Full Shelves

Welcome back to another edition of Blogger Spotlight, where I introduce you to a blog that I adore in hopes that you'll adore it as well. With us today is Sarah, creator of the fabulously titled Clear Eyes, Full Shelves.

Fast Facts!

Creator: Sarah

Start Date: January 2012

Number of GFC Followers: N/A (but they do have 300+ Twitter followers)

Post(s) I Enjoyed: CEFS is great at many things, but I especially enjoy their lists. Ooh, and their snarky review of Les Mis was awesome.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Paper Lantern Lit - Squicky Or Ingenious?

Screenshot of logo taken from the PLL site
Paper Lantern Lit. Heard of it? Perhaps not, but you've certainly heard of the works it has produced.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wishlist Wednesday #22

Hosted by Pen To Paper
Reminiscent of the Elizabeth Smart case, Pretty Girl-13 is a disturbing and powerful psychological mystery about a girl who must piece together the story of her kidnapping and captivity.

Angie Chapman was thirteen years old when she ventured into the woods alone on a Girl Scouts camping trip. Now she's returned home…only to find that it's three years later and she's sixteen-or at least that's what everyone tells her.

What happened to the past three years of her life?

Angie doesn't know.

But there are people who do—people who could tell Angie every detail of her forgotten time, if only they weren't locked inside her mind. With a tremendous amount of courage, Angie embarks on a journey to discover the fragments of her personality, otherwise known as her "alters." As she unearths more and more about her past, she discovers a terrifying secret and must decide: When you remember things you wish you could forget, do you destroy the parts of yourself that are responsible?
I'm massively flailing right now. Granted, a book like this could go either way, but isn't such a statement true of any book? The synopsis hits several of my interest points.

Kidnappings? BAM.

Trauma-based amnesia? BAM.

Mysteries? BAM.

Alternate personalities?! BAM!

I am so, so, so there.

What book are you wishing for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Novella Review: DESTROY ME by Tahereh Mafi

In Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me, Juliette escaped from The Reestablishment by seducing Warner—and then putting a bullet in his shoulder. But as she’ll learn in Destroy Me, Warner is not that easy to get rid of. . .

Back at the base and recovering from his near-fatal wound, Warner must do everything in his power to keep his soldiers in check and suppress any mention of a rebellion in the sector. Still as obsessed with Juliette as ever, his first priority is to find her, bring her back, and dispose of Adam and Kenji, the two traitors who helped her escape. But when Warner’s father, The Supreme Commander of The Reestablishment, arrives to correct his son’s mistakes, it’s clear that he has much different plans for Juliette. Plans Warner simply cannot allow.

Set after Shatter Me and before its forthcoming sequel, Unravel MeDestroy Me is a novella told from the perspective of Warner, the ruthless leader of Sector 45.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Review: SPLINTERED by A.G. Howard

This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.

When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.
I apologize for any lapses in coherency during this review. I finished Splintered less than twenty-four hours prior to reviewing, and I don't think I have ever before loved a book that has confused me so much.

Friday, February 1, 2013

January Rewind & Review

Didn't we just do a Rewind & Review? Did January really go by so fast? I thought the days weren't supposed to fly like this until I had kids or something. Or maybe the old adage about the relativity of time as affected by fun holds true, because we had a whole bunch of fun this month.