2013 Stats

Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Jessie's Stats

Goal for 2013:
250 then 275 then 300

Total Books Read:
366 (122% of goal)

Total Pages Read:

Average Page Length of Book:
355 pages

Average Amount of Time to Finish a Book:
~one day

Longest Book:
A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson -- 909 pages

Shortest Book:
Praying for Rain by Jay Kristoff - 19 pages

5-Star Books:

4-Star Books:

3-Star Books:

2-Star Books:

1-Star Books:


Blog Posts in 2013:

Danielle's Master TBR List

So far in June: 0 read, and added 0 for review, 0 new ebooks, 0 physical, 0 library hold came in.

For Review:

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler (EW, expected pub Jun 2)

After Hours by Claire Kennedy (EW, expected pub Jun 16)

Last Year's Mistake by Gina Ciocca (EW, expected pub Jun 9)

Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo by Brian Falkner (paper galley, expected pub July 14)

School for Sidekicks by Kelly McCullough (paper galley, expected pub Aug 4)

The Lady Hellion by Joanna Shupe (NG, expected pub May 26)

The Daring Exploits of a Runaway Heiress by Victoria Alexander (NG, pub Apr 28)

Helen of Sparta by Amalia Carosella (NG, pub Apr 1)

The Floating City by Craig Cormick (NG, expected pub July 7)

Thorn by Intisar Khanani (NG,  pub May 30, 2012)

A Whole New World by Liz Braswell (NG, expected pub Sep 1)

The Major's Faux Fiancee by Erica Ridley (NG, pub Jun 1)

From the Library:

Ebooks Owned:

The Memory of After by Lenore Appelhans

The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson

The Marrying Kind by Ken O'Neill

Everything I Know About Love, I Learned From Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell

Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza

To Capture a Rake by Lori Brighton

The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James

Bet Me by Jennifer Cruise

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean

Pretty When She Dies by Rhiannon Frater

A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee

Mothership by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan

Dangerous Women by George R.R. Martin

Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Brach

The Archived by Victoria Schwab

The Program by Suzanne Young

Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson - 29% Complete

Endsinger by Jay Kristoff

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Graceling by Kristen Cashore

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

The Viscount's Christmas Temptation by Erica Ridley 

Solving for Ex by LeighAnn Kopans

First World Problems by LeighAnn Kopans

Mitosis: A Reckoners Story by Brandon Sanderson

This Wicked Gift by Courtney Milan

Physical Books Owned:

Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom by Brendan Halpin

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E Smith

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

The Hedge Knight (graphic novel) by George R.R. Martin

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

Hung Up by Kristen Tracy

Fade to Black by Francis Knight

Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

The Legend of Eli Monpress by Rachel Aaron

The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Wizard's Promise by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Pantomime by Laura Lam

Shadowplay by Laura Lam

Stolen Songbird by Danielle Jensen

What If? by Randall Munroe

Where She Went by Gail Forman

The Joker: Death of the Family by Scott Snyder

Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick

Madame Picasso by Anne Girard

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Rogues ed by George R.R. Martin

Savages by Matt Whyman

Batman Adventures: Shadows & Masks by Multiple

Team Human by Justine Larblaster

Pivot Point by Kasie West

Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith

Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkowski

A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

Magnolia by Kristi Cook

Sirantha Jax by Ann Aguirre

Enclave by Ann Aguire

Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Pre-Christmas Book Haul!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

This is how The Winner's Curse showed up at my house. How amazingly cool is that packaging?!

It really is cool-looking. I am never throwing it away.

The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart (Ruby Oliver #1) -- from the lovely Ellis
Sorrow's Knot ARC by Erin Bow
The Outside by Laura Bickle ARC (The Hallowed Ones #2) --- both from the awesome Ashleigh at the YA Kitten

A Different Sun by Elaine Neil Orr (from TLC Book Tours and Berkley
The Winner's Curse ARC by Marie Rutkoski (than you to MacMillan)
Under the Wide and Starry Sky ARC by Nancy Horan (thanks TLC Book Tours, Ballantine Books!)
The Deepest Secret ARC by Carla Buckley (Thanks Bantam and TLC Book Tours!)

Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman (Noughts and Crosses #1)  -- from Ellis at the Random Transliterator

The Boy Book by E. Lockhart (Ruby Oliver #2)

eBook Buys:

Also Known As by Robin Benway (Also Known As #1)

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.

So I had an ARC of this but it expired and I went on my way. And then Going Rogue came out and everyone loved it. So, I bought this and got an ARC of the second. Woo!

The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams (Shadow Reader #!)

There can only be one allegiance.
It’s her time to choose.

Some humans can see the fae. McKenzie Lewis can track them, reading the shadows they leave behind. But some shadows lead to danger. Others lead to lies.

A Houston college student trying to finish her degree, McKenzie has been working for the fae king for years, tracking vicious rebels who would claim the Realm. Her job isn’t her only secret. For just as long, she’s been in love with Kyol, the king’s sword-master—and relationships between humans and fae are forbidden.

But any hope for a normal life is shattered when she’s captured by Aren, the fierce and uncompromising rebel leader. He teaches her the forbidden fae language and tells her dark truths about the Court, all to persuade her to turn against the king. Time is running out, and as the fight starts to claim human lives, McKenzie has no choice but to decide once and for all whom to trust and where she ultimately stands in the face of a cataclysmic civil war.

I've had my eye on this for years, since it came out in 2011. Wendy Darling 5-starred it and that's enough to make me buy it when it's the Kindle Daily Deal.

The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart by Leanna Renee Hieber
 (Magic Most Foul #2)

 For Natalie Stewart, a normal life has never seemed so far away. Her only solace, Lord Jonathan Denbury, is wanted for murder. To clear his name, Denbury must return to England and assume the role of his demon doppelganger.

But Natalie begins to doubt his true motives, especially as a new gentleman begins whispering in her ear. Natalie and Denbury may be able to visit each other in their dreams, but they can’t escape the darkening shadows.

Amid spontaneous explosions, friends turned enemies and dangerous secrets revealed, there’s still a demon who has Natalie’s scent, and someone is trying to resurrect the ultimate evil.

I was a big fan of Darker Still, but this series had fallen off my radar. Once I was offered an ARC of the third book (The Double Life of Incorporate Things) I ran out and bought this ebook. Also -- look closely at this cover. Isn't it fabulous?

The Tattered Banner by Duncan M. Hamilton (Society of the Sword #1)

Unique talent always attracts attention…

In a world where magic is outlawed, ability with a sword is prized above all else. For Soren this means the chance to live out his dreams.

Plucked from a life of privation, he is given a coveted place at Ostenheim’s Academy of Swordsmanship, an opportunity beyond belief.

Opportunity is not always what it seems however, and gifts rarely come without conditions. Soren becomes an unwitting pawn in a game of intrigue and treachery that could cost him not just his dreams, but also his life.

I honestly know nothing about this, but it popped up on a lot of best-of-year-fantasy lists. As a huge fantasy nerd, that was enough to convince me.

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson #1)

Angus: My mixed-breed cat, half domestic tabby, half Scottish wildcat. The size of a small Labrador, only mad. Likes to stalk Mr. and Mrs. Next Door's poodle. I used to drag him around on a lead, but, as I explained to Mrs. Next Door, he ate it.

Thongs: Stupid underwear worn by old Swotty Knickers, Lindsay. What's the point of them, anyway? They just go up your bum, as far as I can tell.

Full-Frontal Snogging: Kissing with the trimmings, lip to lip, open mouth, tongues...everything (apart from dribble, which is never acceptable). As taught to me by a professional snogger.

In this wildly funny journal of a year in the life of Georgia Nicolson, British author Louise Rennison has perfectly captured the soaring joys and bottomless angst if being a teenager. In the spirit of "Bridget Jones' Diary," this fresh, irreverent, and simply hilarious book will leave you laughing out loud. As Georgia would say, it's "fabbity fab fab!"

Ellis made me. Okay, she didn't, but her love for this series convinces me. It sounds fantastic and if I am reading Noughts & Crosses, I am going to need some lighter fare to stop the tears.

Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon (Kingdom of Xia #1)

No one wanted Ai Ling. And deep down she is relieved—despite the dishonor she has brought upon her family—to be unbetrothed and free, not some stranger's subservient bride banished to the inner quarters.

But now, something is after her. Something terrifying—a force she cannot comprehend. And as pieces of the puzzle start to fit together, Ai Ling begins to understand that her journey to the Palace of Fragrant Dreams isn't only a quest to find her beloved father but a venture with stakes larger than she could have imagined.

Bravery, intelligence, the will to fight and fight hard . . . she will need all of these things. Just as she will need the new and mysterious power growing within her. She will also need help.

It is Chen Yong who finds her partly submerged and barely breathing at the edge of a deep lake. There is something of unspeakable evil trying to drag her under. On a quest of his own, Chen Yong offers that help . . . and perhaps more.

First: ASIAN FICTION YES. Second: amazing cover. Third: I need to read this asap. 

That's it for me. Christmas is in two days, and I hope I have some new books or giftcards on the way! 

Merry Christmas! I hope it's wonderful for everyone!

Review: A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron

Monday, December 23, 2013
Title: A Spark Unseen
Author: Sharon Cameron
Genre: young adult, historical fiction, steampunkish
Series: The Dark Unwinding #2
Pages: 352
Published: September 24 2013
Source: the lovely and kind Ashleigh Paige of The YA Kitten
Rating: 4/5

The thrilling sequel to Sharon Cameron's blockbuster gothic steampunk romance, THE DARK UNWINDING, will captivate readers anew with mystery and intrigue aplenty.

When Katharine Tulman wakes in the middle of the night and accidentally foils a kidnapping attempt on her uncle, she realizes Stranwyne Keep is no longer safe for Uncle Tully and his genius inventions. She flees to Paris, where she hopes to remain undetected and also find the mysterious and handsome Lane, who is suspected to be dead.

But the search for Lane is not easy, and Katharine soon finds herself embroiled in a labyrinth of political intrigue. And with unexpected enemies and allies at every turn, Katharine will have to figure out whom she can trust--if anyone--to protect her uncle from danger once and for all.

Filled with deadly twists, whispering romance, and heart-stopping suspense, this sequel to THE DARK UNWINDING whisks readers off on another thrilling adventure.

I remember being fond of Sharon Cameron's The Dark Unwinding when I read it late in 2012. It was a fun, thrilling, occasionally action-packed and creepy read, complete with some compelling characters. Recalling it as a pretty good but not individually distinctive read, I was surprised by how much fun I had while reading the second novel in the series. A Spark Unseen picks up around 18 months after the end of The Dark Unwinding and Cameron wastes no time and pulls no punches. It's full of the same action and intrigue that made the first so enjoyable, but ups the ante in almost every way.

A Speak Unseen may have not been needed, necessarily, as book one solidly wrapped up the extant plotlines, but it is more than a rehash of what has come before. With new threats, both foreign and local, forcing Uncle Tully into hiding, a move to Paris complicates the plot and the lives of the characters. The new location shakes things up and allows for some new characters to appear (Henri, Mrs. DuPont) and for old characters to shine (Mary, Mr. Babcock). The uneasy alliance between Napoleon III and Queen Victoria hangs over the head of the characters, and the increased tension between the two allied nations provides some new angles for the plot to follow.

Though this series is non-supernatural and more proto-steampunk than an actual steampunk novel, Katharine Tulman and A Spark Unseen are the spiritual, bookish soul sisters of Eleanor Fitt and A Darkness Strange and Lovely. Though Katharine wrestles with governments instead of the undead, these two girls' life stories are strikingly similar. Both have had to grow up before their time, both have fashioned a family for themselves out of friends, both love an "inappropriate" man because of his lower social standing, and both take off for Paris to save someone they love. If you enjoy Susan Dennard's series about a strong teenage lead, then A Spark Unseen will give you more the same.

Katharine Tulman is a great character. Her strong family bond with her Uncle is the relationship that anchors her, and though she searches for Lane, her every move and thought is with Tully in mind. The relationship between Katharine and Lane, the one that sent a thousand Society tongues wagging, is firmly on the back-burner. For nearly 2/3 of the novel, Lane isn't even present. He's presumed dead, and only Katharine, with her trademark stubbornness, refuses to accept. The chemistry between the two is as palpable adnd believable as ever, but the best part of their interactions is when Katharine lets him have it -- for PAGES -- for the way he treated her. It is Magnificent.

Like The Dark Unwinding before it, all threads from A Spark Unseen seem to have been satisfactorily wrapped up. The ending is tidy and neat, but there is a little wiggle room left for another possible story with these characters. And if that story was as good as A Spark Unseen, I cannot wait to read it.

Review: A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey

Saturday, December 21, 2013
Title: A Breath of Frost
Author: Alyxandra Harvey
Genre: young adult, supernatural fiction, historical fiction
Series: The Lovegrove Legacy #1
Pages: 496
Published: expected January 7 2014
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 4/5

In 1814, three cousins-Gretchen, Emma, and Penelope-discover their unknown family lineage of witchcraft. Beyond the familiar manicured gardens and ballrooms of Regency London, a dangerous, alluring new underworld visible only to those with power is now open to the cousins.
But unbeknownst to them, by claiming their power, the three cousins have inadvertently opened the gates to the Underworld. 

Now the dead, ghouls, hellhounds-and the most terrifying of all: the spirits of dark witches known as the Greymalkin Sisters-are hunting and killing young debutante witches for their powers. 

And, somehow, Emma is connected to the murders...because she keeps finding the bodies.
Can the cousins unravel the clues and mystery behind their heritage and power before their gifts are stripped away ...or even worse, another witch is killed?

Are you a fan of historical fiction? The English Regency-era, in particular? How do you feel about witches and magic? If you like both of those genres, especially together, and like the sound of the them combined in a YA setting, then A Breath of Frost is the exact novel you didn't know you were looking for. If the marriage of British arisotocracy (they even have a Witch's Debretts, how awesome is that?) with magic doesn't sound interesting and fun to you, well you're in the wrong place. This is an entertaining and involving first-in-series effort from a veteran author and it does not disappoint.

Set in 1814, when the three Lovegood cousins (main narrator Emma, Penelope, and Gretchen) are just entering the Season, Harvey begins her tale with a ball and a murder. Though the author does start her novel off without holding back, it takes her a while to get the murder part of this"murder mystery" actually going. It's about 300 pages before the villain strikes again. Though A Breath of Frost clocks in at 500 pages and rarely drags in pace or momentum, that is a really long stretch of narrative without any increasing violence or tension. 

Don't get me wrong, in that time spent away from murders, Emma uncovers her powers, her history, and her own plotline. Thankfully, it's an interesting one -- think of her as a mix of Tamora Pierce's Daine (especially when it comes to her dad!) and Harry Potter. Once her powers manifest Emma is sent to Rowanstone, where all proper young ladies learn about and how to control their inherited magic. The inevitable comparisons to other magical boarding schools aside, Rowanstone is a finishing school and though it's subject matter is closer at heart to Madame Geraldine's floating Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality from Etiquette and Espionage than Château Mont-Choisi

There's a bit of fuss and bother about the Lovegood legacy Emma's mother left behind, but that would get too spoilery too go into full detail here. It's pretty central to the plot and Harvey provides the necessary flashbacks and exposition easily and subtly. Suffice to say, Emma and her cousins, plus her love interest Cormac have to do survive some pretty daring escapades to save the day. A Breath of Frost keeps a nice balance between the manners and society aspects expected and the magic she has entwined.

The characters are strong and distinctive, but there are so many, both past and present, that remain little more than names on a page. I liked Emma, Penelope, and Gretchen but aside from the main character, her cousins need more personal definition. Besides Emma, Cormac remains the most well-drawn character, and as her primary love interest, that makes sense. The others have definite potential (I think I could really love Gretchen if her role/time is expanded in future books) and I hope the author includes them more in the next novels to come in the series. The villains of the Greymalkin Sisters made for a spooky, spectral teams of antagonists and I am really curious to see where the author tries next.

I would recommend this for fans of Shades of Milk and Honey, and/or Regency-era heroines who flout social convention. Or readers who like will-they-won't-they romances that aren't the sum total of the plot but still manage to pack the feels. Or spunky heroines who do what they want. Or people who want British people secretly performing magic. This book is all that and more. A Breath of Frost really exceeded my expectations and I will be eagerly waiting to see when a sequel will come out. Though the main plot was tidily handled, there is more than enough room for exploration with these characters and this world. Maybe a Gretchen book? Please? Or Penelope and Cedric?

I went into this novel thinking that its 500 page length would be a daunting task to overcome. Instead, the book largely breezes by on the pure entertainment offered, the inescapable character charisma, and the fun you have while reading. As a series opener, you can't really ask for much more from book one than that it makes readers excited to see what is coming next. A Breath of Frost has done that in spades.

Review: She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick

Friday, December 20, 2013
Title: She is Not Invisible
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Genre: young adult, contemporary
Series: N/A
Pages: 216 (print ARC edition)
Published: expected April 2014
Source: from publisher for review
Rating: 4/5

Laureth Peak's father is a writer. For years he's been trying, and failing, to write a novel about coincidence. His wife thinks he's obsessed, Laureth thinks he's on the verge of a breakdown.He's supposed to be doing research in Austria, so when his notebook shows up in New York, Laureth knows something is wrong.

On impulse she steals her mother's credit card and heads for the States, taking her strange little brother Benjamin with her. Reunited with the notebook, they begin to follow clues inside, trying to find their wayward father. Ahead lie challenges and threats, all of which are that much tougher for Laureth than they would be for any other 16-year old. Because Laureth Peak is blind.

Marcus Sedgwick has steadily been making a name for himself in the publishing world in 2013. Earlier this year I heard whispers about how amazing Midwinterblood was, and, lo and behold, less than half a year later another unique tale from this talented writer is being prepped to be sent into the world. For once, the hype around an author and his books was right. This is an author can write compelling, unique, and thoroughly fascinating stories, and he does so here easily, subtly with 16 year-old Laureth Peak.

Laureth's story is fresh and compelling, and not only for her minority-narrator status. For while Laureth is has never seen anything with her eyes, the sum of her characterization is not that she is a blind person. She is a fully-formed and wholly rounded person who happens to be blind. The way she was born doesn't define who she is -- to herself, or to her family. The wider world, full of "funny" people may choose to reduce all she is down to a condition, but Laureth is so much more than that. I can say I have never read another narrator like Laureth and the sly focus on what she could hear, or smell or sense, rather than view, just reinforces the authenticity of her narration.

She Is Not Invisible is a strong, memorable novel for many reasons: characters, writing, setting. The plot at the heart of the story may end up as the weakest aspect of the novel, and if the worst you can say about it is that it may stretch suspension of disbelief a little too far.. well, that's a remarkably solid novel. And She Is Not Invisible is just that. The plot resembles an odd mishmash of The Number 23 and Wait Until Dark, but under this author's hands, it feels wholly original. Sedgwick may try a little too hard to get his messages across, which can detract from the narrative.

She Is Not Invisible manages to pack a lot of story into a relatively short page length. It's half a blessing that the novel is so short -- it's practically impossible to put down. Laureth's story, her unique struggles, the use of a minority narrator -- all make Marcus Sedgwick's latest novel something to be celebrated. The bit side characters, like Michael Walker, add in some need humor and silliness, but the heart of the novel is about family, and bonds, and love. It's an odd little book, but it really is a gem in the YA contemporary/thriller field.

Review: Taste of Darkness by Maria V. Snyder

Thursday, December 19, 2013
Title: Taste of Darkness
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Genre: fantasy, young adult
Series: Healer/Avry of Kazan #3
Pages: 464
Published: expected December 31 2013
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 1.5/5

She's fought death and won. But how can she fight her fears?

Avry knows hardship and trouble. She fought the plague and survived. She took on King Tohon and defeated him. But now her heart-mate, Kerrick, is missing, and Avry fears he's gone forever.

But there's a more immediate threat. The Skeleton King plots to claim the Fifteen Realms for his own. With armies in disarray and the dead not staying down, Avry's healing powers are needed now more than ever.Torn between love and loyalty, Avry must choose her path carefully. For the future of her world depends on her decision.

The Maria V. Snyder Fantasy Trilogy Curse is alive and well. Following in the sad and disappointing path of the Study series before it, Snyder could never again capture the magic that made Touch of Power so much fun to read back in 2011. Each successive installment in the series has seen a marked downgrade in plotting, character consistency, and creativity. Too much is magicked away, too many characters are returned from death... it all adds up to a novel without any bite and a story without a clear focus. Like Scent of Magic before it, Taste of Darkness ruins any chance of a series redemption and a return to greatness, but this time, it's for forever.

The holding pattern of "Kerrick is dead and Avry doesn't know what to do" that we got to know so well for so long in book two shows up again. For nearly two hundred pages, readers are deprived of what largely drew them to this series in the first place: Avry and Kerrick. Together. In the same place, at the same time. Synder apparently doesn't realize that her novels always work better when the main characters have a chance to show off their banter and chemistry. She made us like the two love interests with the first book, only to keep them apart and dangle their happiness like a carrot at the end of a stick.The same issue can be used for the "group"at large; the first book introduced this great group of characters only to split them up once we cared about them. It makes no sense.

Part of the big issue with this series is, besides how lazy the writing and plotting can be (see also: extended training/travel passages that have little impact on the overall plot), but that Snyder takes so little risk with characters or story. If DEATH itself, you know, Old Inevitable, the Universal Truth, the Only Certainty in Life, holds little sway over your characters, where's the suspense? Where's the fear? How can I care what happens if there are no repercussions to anyone's actions? It's no fun if you know that the good guys will always live and the bad guys will always die. Because justice. Well, sure, justice would be nice and fair -- but is it authentic? Especially when it involves characters coming back to life not once but TWO times?

I've always disagreed with Snyder's decision to add a second POV --- LATE in the game. While Kerrick's POV has been around now for two books now, it still brings little to the table. Not only that, but the switch from Avry's first-person to his third-person is never smooth and only serves to remind readers how artificial the narration of the entire novel feels. Not only that, but the book feels scattered -- exchanging one antagonist for another only to go back to Tohon as the main villain. It's just unfocused and unclear, when a final novel should be crisp and focused.

Snyder can write great characters, but she just doesn't know what to do with them once the first novel is over. Taste of Darkness just couldn't measure up and it didn't even really try. Perhaps this author should stick to standalone novels because her series seriously suffer the longer they run. My friend Christina from A Reader of Fictions has the best way to read these books: buy book one. Read it. Pretend it is a standalone and ignore the last few pages of the last chapter. It's better that way.

Review: No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale

Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Title: No One Else Can Have You
Author: Kathleen Hale
Genre: mystery, young adult
Series: N/A
Pages: 384
Published: expected January 7 2014
Source: publishers via edelweiss
Rating: 2/5

Small towns are nothing if not friendly. Friendship, Wisconsin (population: 688) is no different. Around here, everyone wears a smile. And no one ever locks their doors. Until, that is, high school sweetheart Ruth Fried is found murdered. Strung up like a scarecrow in the middle of a cornfield.

Unfortunately, Friendship’s police are more adept at looking for lost pets than catching killers. So Ruth’s best friend, Kippy Bushman, armed with only her tenacious Midwestern spirit and Ruth’s secret diary (which Ruth’s mother had asked her to read in order to redact any, you know, sex parts), sets out to find the murderer. But in a quiet town like Friendship—where no one is a suspect—anyone could be the killer.

When you try to combine Pretty Little Liars and Fargo into a darkly humorous YA satire, you know that's a lot for a debut author, or any author really, to attempt. It was a tough sell from the start and No One Else Can Have You never really made it out of the gate. The thing with writing a good satire is picking the right subject to satirize for your audience. Small town prejudices? Have at it. Run with it. But trivializing horrible issues like PTSD and domestic violence in order to make them "funny" is a big negative and will earn you all kinds of vitriol and it will affect how readers react to your writing.  

No One Else Can Have You has good bones, it really does. The essentials and the ideas are there, they just need some finesse. There was some serious potential for both the story and the characters but the execution fell flat. Unfortunately, the author neglects to fully utilize and develop either her story or her cast and so the end result is a weird, odd, offensive story cobbled from a scattered present-tense first-person narration. As that first person narrator, Kippy initially really does seem like a good, interesting form of quirky --- until she opens her mouth to "investigate" her best friend's death. It's not only Kippy, though -- a wide range of characters from supporting to bit part can and do join her in her various -shaming ways. It speaks loudly to how small towns can be, but victim blaming? Slut shaming? Domestic violence jokes? Using PTSD as a punchline? It's unacceptable.

The humor from No One Else Can Have You is one of the bigger letdowns. As I mentioned before, trivializing important issues does not equal a black comedy or a satire. Hale doesn't seem to understand the difference, nor the subtleties needed and her characters' forced attempts at humor only make things worse. The mystery is a non-starter as well. Not only is it easily predicted, but the entire attempt to figure it out is an exercise of delaying what Kippy could easily figure out in a matter of minutes. This is one of my least favorite plot devices -- keeping the main character ignorant just to stretch out the plot. It just makes Kippy seem silly and dumb in addition to all the other wonderful ways she was portrayed.

Whether or not you like the end result, No One Else Can Have You you have to admit that it certainly tried to do something new and different. And while I wasn't a fan of the novel itself, I can easily say I won't be forgetting it either. I can see and understand why others will enjoy this, readers without my triggers or opinions, and I wish them glad of it. Not every book is for everyone and this just wasn't a story for me.

Review: Going Rogue by Robin Benway

Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Title: Going Rogue
Author: Robin Benway
Genre: young adult, mystery
Series: Also Known As #2
Pages: 320
Publication: Expected January 14, 2014
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Rating: 4/5

Being permanently based in a local New York City high school as an undercover operative has its moments, good and bad, for 16-year-old safecracker Maggie Silver. Pros: More quality time with her former mark-turned-boyfriend Jesse Oliver and insanely cool best friend, Roux. Getting to spend quality time with her semi-retired and international spy honorary uncle, Angelo. Cons: High school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. But when Maggie's parents are falsely accused of stealing priceless gold coins, Maggie uses her safecracking skills to try and clear their names. Too bad it only serves to put her and everyone she loves in danger. Maggie and her "new team" flee to Paris where they must come up with a plan to defeat their former allies.

I’m really glad I gave this series a second chance.

I liked Also Known As, (really!) but my main issue with it was a lack of actual espionage. There was a botched job at the newspaper owner’s house and the big conclusion, but for the most part the first book is about interpersonal relationships. Friendship, romance, letting your teen leave the nest...typical high school stuff. And I thought it suffered for that.

Have no fear, Going Rogue never once sets foot inside a school. The relationships from book one are carried over: Maggie’s still dating Jesse, still bffs with Roux, still trying to find a kid/coworker balance with her parents, but the actual spy work has been ramped way up.

Maggie’s retired from spying to finish high school, but the whole family’s dragged back in when it turns out that the rogue spy from the last book may not have been the only agent to turn. The Collective accuses Maggie’s parents of using their hacker/linguistic, (that’swhat dad does!,) skills to steal some ridiculously valuable gold coins. Rather than sit back and let the family be burned, Mags teams up with Angelo to clear the family name.

You can guess how that plan goes.

I really liked seeing Maggie do something this time around. Not just safecracking, but casing, researching, and lifting evidence. She still has too much of a tendency to talk about her job in public, but this time she notices shadowy figures, destroys SIM cards, and just generally acts like a spy with a decade plus of training. Very exciting.

Beyond the actual heist parts, the characters really make the novel. Roux and Jesse are officially part of the team, because we can’t just let civvies run around and tell all of our secrets. Roux remains delightfully exuberant and is thrilled to be included, though the new vulnerability she shows is special and very well written. Jesse, too, is struggling in this book, but never falls into the douchebag role that a lot of other YA boyfriends do.

Additionally, the relocation to Paris gives the book a chance to introduce three other teenage spies, Ryo, Élodie, and Ames. All three were fun additions, though Ryo and Élodie could have stood more characterization. I’m afraid I’m still not clear on their “clean up Paris” scheme. Their inclusion lets us see both how the Collective recruits spies and dumps them when they're done.

Going Rogue is a fun, fast paced adventure that was not only extremely enjoyable, but surprisingly tense. The new city and expanded backstories help flesh out the world building. The climax is very satisfying, showing both the full depth of the corruption and the heroes' strengths. It may end a little bittersweet, but the series is left open to grow in any number of ways, just like Angelo’s phoenix.

Three Weeks of Book Hauls!

Monday, December 16, 2013
It's been a while since I've had one of these, so like Christina's, this one is going to be big and somewhat obscene. But in a bookish and awesome kind of way. Totally.


Eric by Terry Pratchett - Discworld #9. I've wanted this for a while but it's so SHORT (148 pages) that I wouldn't pay the $7.99 it's always listed at. ANYWAY thanks to Black Friday 30%, it is finally mine.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games #2. I already own the entire series on Nook, but the paperbacks for Mockingjay are out in a few months so I bought the pb for CF.

Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund - Killer Unicorns #2. Black Friday buy #2 -- only $5 for the hardcover!


The Outside by Laura Bickle - The Hallowed Ones #2. So this showed up and I assumed it was a late birthday gift. Nope, for some reason Amazon shipped the lovely Lyn's book to me and she let me keep it because she is too nice.


Mrs. Lincoln's Rival by Jennifer Chiaverini -- thanks, Dutton! I just read the author's other historical fiction novel about the Lincolns so this should be easy to get into!

Bought While Christmas Shopping Because:
a. I can't resist a deal
b. I have zero self control

Four of these were bought because they were marked down to $2 and 3/4 were hardcover. 

The Boy Book by E. Lockhart is in great condition and I have heard amazing things.
I am the last person not to read The Help so a mint $2 copy was irresistible.
Well Wished by Franny Billingsley I got because Chime is one of the best books I've ever read. How could I not want to read her debut?
Banner of the Damned by Sherwood Smith is freaking huge and sounded terrific.

Furies of Calderon/Academ's Fury by Jim Butcher (#1 and #2 in the Codex Alera)
The Twitter Queen of all Things Geek (Ewa) told me this was fantastic. It looks like an interesting idea/world and I like Butcher's other novels.

Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach. I bought this because Christina at Reader of Fictions loved it and that speaks highly. Also, it kinda sounds like Ann Aguirre's Sirantha Jax series and that would be THE BEST THING EVER.

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick slipped by me last year so I grabbed the paperback! I started this one last night and I already have major feels about it.

Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes. I read Falling Kingdoms last year and it was alright. I wouldn't've picked this up if I didn't get it for less than $10.

I know Daria is not a book, but IT'S THE COMPLETE SERIES. This is just... beyond.

From Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours:

Becoming Josephine by Heather Webb - I love historical fiction and I love Napoleon.

From TLC Book Tours:

Last Train to Paris by Michele Zackheim. I don't know too much about this one, but Paris in WWII and I am so there.


Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler. My third and final Black Friday buy. I had just been waitinig for it to come out in paperback since I'd read and loved it as an ARC.

Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan. I ignored this for a while so my hopes and expectations could shrink. I really loved the first...and I am still pissed about the series cover change.

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. FINALLY IT IS HERE I WANT TO READ IT THIS SECOND. Needless to say, I better love this freaking book.


Scorch and Rogue by Gina Damico

The Thief and The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
(everyone is talking about it and it was only $1.99!)

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
(because Christina loved it!)

House of Sand and Secrets by Cat Hellisen
(It was an ebook deal and I loveeeeed When the Sea is Rising Red.)

Shadows of Asphodel by Karen Kincy
(I don't know much about it but a friend thought I would like it and it was cheap on Kindle!)

So. Yeah. That is a lot of books, but it was spread out over a period of time. Any new books on your shelves that you are particularly enthused for?
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