November Recap

Sunday, November 30, 2014
November is dead, long live December!


Reviews Posted:
Captive by Aimee Carter (Blackcoat Rebellion #2)
The Little Christmas Kitchen by Jenny Oliver
The Unhappening of Genesis Lee by Shallee McArthur
The Body Electric by Beth Revis 

Fun Stuff:
Danielle's TBR Tag


Reviews Posted:
Book Tour: Color Song by Victoria Strauss (Passion Blue #2)
Book Tour: Past Encounters by Davina Blake
Two Minute Review: Zodiac by Romina Russell (Zodiac #1)
DNF Round Up
Two Minute Review: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin
Blog Tour: The Sharp Hook of Love by Sherry Jones
Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas
Blog Tour: The Tudor Vendetta by C.W. Gortner (The Spymaster Chronicles #3)
Suspicion by Alexandra Monir
Series Review: The Paper Magician by Charlie Holmberg (The Paper Magician 1 & 2)

Fun Stuff:
November Book Haul
Jessie's TBR Tag

And that is it for November. Onward to new books and a new month.

Review(s) Take Two: The Paper Magician & The Glass Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

Title: The Paper Magician
Author: Charlie N. Holmberg
Series: The Paper Magician #1
Pages: 224
Published: September 1 2014
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 3/5

Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic…forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined—animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner—a practitioner of dark, flesh magic—invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.

Title: The Glass Magician
Author: Charlie N. Holmberg
Series: The Paper Magician #2
Pages: 222
Published: November 4 2014
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 2.5/5

Three months after returning Magician Emery Thane’s heart to his body, Ceony Twill is well on her way to becoming a Folder. Unfortunately, not all of Ceony’s thoughts have been focused on paper magic. Though she was promised romance by a fortuity box, Ceony still hasn’t broken the teacher-student barrier with Emery, despite their growing closeness.

When a magician with a penchant for revenge believes that Ceony possesses a secret, he vows to discover it…even if it tears apart the very fabric of their magical world. After a series of attacks target Ceony and catch those she holds most dear in the crossfire, Ceony knows she must find the true limits of her powers…and keep her knowledge from falling into wayward hands.

The delightful sequel to Charlie N. Holmberg’s The Paper Magician, The Glass Magician will charm readers young and old alike.

This is not a true series review as the third and final book in the Paper Magician series, The Master Magician, is not out until 2015. But I started and finished both of Charlie Holmberg's published books in less than a day and a half and they kind of melded together into one story. They're both quite short stories so it's not hard to speed through all of Ceony and Emery's adventures, though be advised things can and will get weird before the end.

The Paper Magician starts things off well, and continues in good fashion for a period. It also introduces the totally fun and inventive magic system, one of the cleverest and most original I've come across in fantasy. Danielle explains it pretty perfectly here and I am firmly a fan of Holmberg's creativity. I'm less enthused when it comes to her plotting and pacing. Notably less polished on both counts in the first novel, there are just some odd ways the timeline plays out, combined with all-too-often infodumps/exposition, and not to mention how infrequently we feel any kind of presence from the antagonist.

The Glass Magician fared rather better in regards to plotting and especially pacing than its predecessor, but it also felt rote at times. Ceony and Ethan's nebulous relationship feels more "expected" than a wholly natural development for the two of them, for one example. The characters are likeable enough, I guess, but they're missing a certain spark, both individually and as a unit. I want to care about them more than I actually do -- I'm always a big fan of creativity and it's obvious Holmberg has that in spades.

Endings seem to be a problem area for this author. Both failed to deliver, to my disappointment. The second one was a more egregious flouting of the expected, but each felt more like a placeholder than offering any real resolution to the novel. I finished each book ready for the next but it's still a vaguely unsatisfying experience when the author seemingly cheats her own established worldbuilding at the expediency of a plot twist that wasn't that twisty lbr here.

There's always room for growth and this is a series with some serious potential. The third book could and has every possibility of being creative, fun, and memorable. The Paper Magician was a good starting point for the trilogy and while The Glass Magician was only slightly less impressive experience, it was still a good indicator of Holmberg's abilities. I will still look forward to reading The Master Magician when it publishes, but I won't rush out to buy the hardcover to find out the series end.

Jessie's November Haul

Sooo.. November. It was a good month. A very good month, bookwise. It was the month of my birthday. It was the month I went crazy on e-ARCs after doing so well since BEA. It's been a while since I've done a haul or a wrap-up, so this may verge on TL;DR. Feel free to ogle pretty pictures of the books and ignore me.


Here are some goodies I was sent for book tours:

The Tudor Vendetta by C.W. Gortner - Tudor Spymaster #3 - fun, quick, twisty little historical mystery series continues.

The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan by Stephanie Thornton - her historical fiction focuses on overlooked/ignored/important women of history. So so good.

The Brewer's Tale by Karen Brooks - um, I want this hair. Even if it goes in my face like that all the time.

Sent for review:

Silverblind by Tina Connolly - Ironskin #3 - I was curious to see how the author concludes this odd but interesting series and was not disappointed.

Dream A Little Dream by Kerstin Gier - weirdly there is no GR page for this, but hey, I like the cover. It looks cute.

The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre- I adore Ann Aguirre's scifi, enjoy her work with her husband (Bronze Gods), like her UF/paranormal (Immortal Game), so I figured why not try this.

The Boy Next Door by Kati Van Ark - Swoon Reads second book and it looks prettyyyy cute (if cliche but WHATEVER gimme all the feels)

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski - The Winner's Trilogy #2 - I don't know how I haven't dived headfirst into this one yet, honestly

I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios - Something Real was the contemporary debut of the year for me so far. Maybe the only way to top a Demetrios is with another Demetrios?

Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen - Cat Hellisen is a one of a kind and I will read anything she writes.

Thank you to the kind people at Tor and Macmillan, specifically Ksenia who is a goddess amogst publicists.

Gifted by lovely lovely people:

The Poisoned Crown by Maurice Druon - The Accursed Kings - #3 - my obsession with the series that inspired ASOIAF is rivaled only by my obsession with ASOIAF.

The Princess in the Opal Mask by Jenny Lundquist - The Opal Mask #1 - pretty obvious why I need this, no?

Moonglass by Jessi Kirby - Golden spoke to me in a quiet but lovely way and I can't wait to see how Moonglass fares.

A Million Suns by Beth Revis - Across the Universe #2 - I love a good "teens in space!" adventure and this series works for me, despite squicky love interests.

Far From You by Tess Sharpe - I had read an ARC of this and hardcover was most certainly in order. This book is beyond lovely. 

The Falconer by Elizabeth May - The Falconer #1 - I love this book. I read it as an eARC and have forever pined after that hardcover since. It is now mine and I won't lie and say I didn't pet it when I opened the box. (KIAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARAN)

Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore - Goodnight Family #1. This sounds and looks creepy and awesome. Here's hoping it's an atmospheric gothic read.

Lady Thief by A.C. Gaughen - Scarlet #2. Another eARC read that I have lusted for for many months. This series is so well done and full of twists and turns and feels and oh noes and more feels and JUST READ IT OK.

Steel by Carrie Vaughn -- notice how several of these book covers feature fierce ladies with knives? I like it.

My True Love Gave to Me by various - short stories from many favorites but especially Laini Taylor made this a very desperately sought prize.

The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima - The Seven Realms #4. I was refusing to read book two until I owned all four because I know CWC is gonna bring the feels. 

Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta. I don't know if I can do it. You only break the glass on the last Marchetta when you have to. **credit to loltergeist for that one.

Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce - Alanna #4. I will finally, finally finish reading the Alanna seriers, thanks to the pushing and generosity of my friends.

Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan - The Lynburn Legacy #3. I have already finished this and holy wow, my broken, broken feels. I just... HDU. The "u" is for everyone ever that read this before me and did not warn me.

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch - Snow Like Ashes #1. A new fantasy favorite, this is another series that has a great, actiontastic heroine with many sides to her.

The Box and the Dragonfly by Ted Sanders - The Keepers #1. This ARC for a MG series looks like a great way to spend an afternoon!

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson - The Name of the Star #1. Jack the Ripper. That's all I needed to hear to know I wanted to read this.

A Blight of Mages by Karen Miller - Kingmaker, Kingbreaker #.5. I read the first two in this series ages ago and am unbelievably excited Miller has returned to tell more about this world.

Havoc by Ann Aguirre - Dred Chronicles #2. While this series isn't hitting Sirantha Jax-levels of awesome yet, you can't go wrong with an Ann Aguirre scifi novel with a badass female MC. You just can't.

The Native Star by M.K. Hobson -Veneficas Americana #1. This has an interesting synopsis and a gorgeous cover -- so yeah, been on my wishlist for aaaages.

Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick - Ashes #2. Creepy, actionpacked, dense. This is a series I plan to mainline as soon as there is any free reading time. Bick is so highly recommended.

Rain by Amanda Sun - Paper Gods #2. I didn't get an ARC for this so I have been curious for moonths. Book one was a decent introduction -- here's hoping book two knocks it out of the park.

The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron - The Dark Unwinding #1. Another I had read but never owned, this is such an entertaining, quietly different story.

Thank you, Bekka! You really are a total wizard, and every time I stare at that gorgeous cover I will remember I owe ya. <3
Kara, thank you thank you for always rec'ing me such perfect reads. From YA to adult, you always know just what I want to read and are so generous. <3
Megarus, you are a gifting genie-person and I am forever thankful for you introducing me to Eli Monpress, amongst many other things.
Guylian Berty, my Jean Valjean, my Moriarty, my six-fingered man, you are too generous and kind by half. Thank you for hurting me with SRB and Unmade.
Lyn, you wonderful gal you. Thank you for picking out such great gifts, being so generous, and being always around for a chat when I need.
Ellis, you being of wit and wonder, you giver of The Last Unread Marchetta. Thank you for being you and for being such a thoroughly excellent bookpusher and opinion-haver.
Lili, fellow movie lover and texter extraordinaire. Thank you for the lovely package and the many recommendations and book talks way too late or way too early.

Danielle. My best friend, partner in crime for untold years, friend since The Teen Years, coblogger and co-conspirator in all things. You beyond spoiled me and I hope you know how much I treasure you in my life.

Aaaaand now the books I bought myself:

The World of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. AKA The World of Hot Targaryen Dragonlords.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss. Just revel in the Auri-ness.

A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine - A Tale of Two Castles #1. GCL owns my soul when it comes to fairy tale retellings and has since Ella Enchanted first was published.

Lovely, Dark, and Deep by Amy McNamara. An eARC that I truly loved; finally I own a copy. This book is so hauntingly lovely, guys. It contains some of my favorite quotes in all of literature.

A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner -The Queen's Thief #4 - this is where you see how crazy I am. I bought this hardcover on BookOutlet for $4 even though I don't own and have never read the first three. But it was on sale and I want to read the series soooo yeah, I bought the fourth book in a series I haven't started.

Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear - Eternal Sky #1. Another coverlove favorite that I found on sale and bought on a whim because pretty. It doesn't hurt that it's a pretty acclaimed fantasy, though.

Written in Red by Anne Bishop - The Others #1. Hardcover for a popular book with great reviews for $3? Yep, bought it.

Winterspell by Claire Legrand. Gorgeous cover + seasonal + retelling = instant must have for Jessie.

Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger - Finishing School #3. I love Gail Carriger and her YA series is consistently entertaining and fun.

The Falcon Throne by Karen Miller - The Tarnished Crown #1. I will read any fantasy this woman writes, the fatter the book the better. As you can see, this new series is off to a good start.

 Lastly, from a book sale, I got these 17 books for $14.

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin - A Song of Ice and Fire #1. Read, loved, picked up because it was literally $1.

Matilda by Roald Dahl - childhood favorite and a steal for $.50!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone/Chamber of Secrets/Order of the Phoenix -  Harry Potter #1, #2, and #5. These are in great condition -- so much so I could not leave them there.

Crazy by Amy Reed - she has been recommended so many times I had to give it a shot.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett - I actually owned this, I just picked this up because it was a hardcover for $1.50.

Don't Look Down by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer. So I grabbed this because Bet Me is my jam but reviews are mixed.

The Goose Girl/Enna Burning by Shannon Hale - Books of Bayern #1 and #2. Good condition, if the less-awesome version of the covers for this series.

Three Souls by Janie Chang. I love this book so I bought this to physically push on my friends and family.

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake. I've had my eye on this for months but could never committ to buying it. Until it was $1, that is.

Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger - Keeper of the Lost Cities #1. I love the cover and the premise of this.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I heard nothing but nonstop love for this book earlier this year.

The Dressmaker by Posie Graeme-Evans. Historical fiction that just sounds like fun.

Perdido Street Station by China Mieville - Bas-Lag #1. Another author that I hear so much about but read infrequently -- might as well try his most famous work, right?

The Bonehunters by Steven Erikson - Malazan Book of the Fallen #6. Man this series is so hard to explain/get other people interested in, but IT IS SO GOOD.

In my defense, some of these will be donated - the three Harry Potters, Matilda, the two Books of Bayern, Keeper of the Lost Cities, Game of Thrones, and The Bonehunters to my sister's 5th grade class and my father, respectively.

So yeah. A lot of books this month for me. I only wish I could read them all right now.

Review: Suspicion by Alexandra Monir

Saturday, November 29, 2014
Title: Suspicion
Author: Alexandra Monir
Genre: young adult, retellings, mystery, gothic
Series: N/A
Pages: 368
Published: expected December 9 2014
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 1/5

Mysterious. Magnificent. Creepy. Welcome to Rockford Manor.

"There's something hidden in the Maze." Seventeen-year-old Imogen has never forgotten the last words her father said to her seven years ago, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family's English country manor.

Haunted by her parents' deaths, Imogen moves to New York City with her new guardians. But when a letter arrives with the news of her cousin's untimely death, revealing that Imogen is now the only heir left to run the estate, she returns to England and warily accepts her role as duchess.

All is not as it seems at Rockford, and Imogen quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind the mansion's aristocratic exterior, hinting that the spate of deaths in her family were no accident. And at the center of the mystery is Imogen herself--and Sebastian, the childhood friend she has secretly loved for years. Just what has Imogen walked into?

Combining a fresh twist on the classic Rebecca with a spine-tingling mystery and powerful romance, Suspicion is an action-packed thrill ride.

I had a sneaking suspicion that Suspicion and I would have a rocky road when the poor, poor main character was described as being "forced to live as an American commoner!" and then again when the "keep secrets from the main character FOR HER OWN GOOD" trope came into play not 25% into the novel. Still, I had to give that cover and a YA retelling of the gothic classic Rebecca at least a second or third chance. And while I did manage to read all 368 pages, I have to say it was not a good use of time or effort. 

The thing is, Suspicion is pretty readable (if way off the claims in the summary. This is not half as fun or entertaining as the Princess Diaries or a third as creepy as Rebecca.) Even if a lot of the story is hard to believe or just ill-conceived, it makes for an easy read. But as you continue to read, you realize how flimsy a lot of the novel is. Not only is the mystery picked up and abandoned at will for a lackluster romance, but the stakes never feel real for poor Imogen-the-American-commoner. The gothic vibe the author tries to cultivate is also weak and makes for little atmosphere despite all the "mysteries" surrounding Imogen and her poor dead Duchess cousin.

The romance is... tepid. Weak. Ridiculous. It's pretty much the opposite of ship-able. It's unbelievable in all regards -- in that they love each other, or that he has loved her as long as he claims, or even that this really is love. Monir totally attempts to retcon half the story by the book's final page and tries to turn her characters' instalove into something more like soulmates. Not only does that not work with these two chemistry-less individuals but that's not even the worst part about how the story in Suspicion concludes. 

I just cannot with that ending, with the total ridiculousness that it was. Nope. No sir. No way, no how. This was never going to be higher than a 2 or a 2.5 for me but that ending served only to wreck any good there was to be had in Suspicion. Unfortunately, this is another cause of cover fraud because I finished this disappointed and less than impressed.

Danielle's TBR Tag!

Friday, November 28, 2014
My lovely coblogger, who went ahead an tagged LITERALLY EVERYONE LEFT, has tagged me for the SotWB TBR Sorry, we're a clueless lot, but thank you Jessie for tagging me and thanks to everyone else who's participated.

1. Thank the blogger that nominated you and link back to their website.
2. Post the award’s logo on your blog.
3. Answer the ten questions you have been asked.
4. Nominate ten other bloggers and ask them ten other questions.

1. What is your ultimate ship, your #1 "this is my OTP!"-level ship? I'm not a superhardcore shipper, but I do keep a tag of cannon, (Lex/Driggs, Nyx/Ignifex,) and...less than cannon, (Rincewind/Twoflower,) ships I'm invested in. That said?

Locke/Jean. All day. Every day. Twice on Sundays. I will captain this ship to the ends of the earth.

2. If you could change the ending to any one book, what would it be and why? The HP epilogue. There is literally nothing good about it. The only books I've ever resorted to writing fanfic to fix. Albus Severus, my ass.

3. Is there a book that everyone hates and you love? Not really? I liked the Luxe series, but I know they're dreck. Same with the Sookie books. I guess the closest is No One Needs to Know, which I gave 4.5 stars, and the average on GR is only 3.3

4. Which book does the blogosphere go crazy for and you just don't understand? Anything John Green. I can't stand the man as a person and I despised TFIOS. I know I'm in the minority, but I don't get it.

5. What is the worst book you have ever read? THE WORST. Why? Worst quality? Modelland. Absolutely no hesitation. It's beyond terrible, but the only book I've ever found with no redeeming value is After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse At least Modelland made for a fun review.

6. Your top three recommendations for someone who "doesn't read YA." Neil Gaiman's Stardust, Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and Leila Sales' This Song Will Save Your Life. Then tell me YA is poorly written, childish, and unimportant.

7. What if there was only one book-to-movie production in 2015. You get to decide which book -- so which one do you pick? Mistborn. I wants it. I needs it. The precious.

8. Would you rather have a new Harry Potter series about Harry in his later years or a a Marauders-era book series? Does the new Harry book fix THE GODAWFUL EPILOGUE?!?!

I pick the Marauders, but let's be honest. I'll read the phone book if Jo tells me there's a Harry Potter clue hidden in it somewhere. 

9. How do you pick your next read? Dartboard?

I keep my list and I try to go mostly in release/purchase order. I do jump around a bit if I get a book I've been dying for, or if a mood strikes, but right now I'm working on early December ARCs

10. What book have you owned the longest that is still unread on your shelf? I think it's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which I've had since Thanksgiving 2008. IT'S SO DAUNTING.

I'm not going to tag anyone, as I think everyone's already played. If you haven't, or want to again, feel free to answer Jess' questions here or on your blog! 

Book Tour Review: The Tudor Vendetta by C.W. Gortner

Thursday, November 27, 2014
Title: The Tudor Vendetta
Author: C.W. Gortner
Genre: historical fiction, mystery
Series: The Spymaster Chronicles #3
Pages: 304
Published: October 21 2014
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for review
Rating: 3/5

Upon the death of Mary I (Bloody Mary), Elizabeth I takes the throne and Brendan Prescott is called to aid the young queen amid a realm plunged into chaos and a court rife with conspiracy

London, 1558. Queen Mary is dead, and 25-year old Elizabeth ascends the throne. Summoned to court from exile abroad, Elizabeth’s intimate spy, Brendan Prescott, is reunited with the young queen, as well as his beloved Kate, scheming William Cecil, and arch-rival, Robert Dudley. A poison attempt on Elizabeth soon overshadows her coronation, but before Brendan can investigate, Elizabeth summons him in private to dispatch him on a far more confidential mission: to find her favored lady in waiting, Lady Parry, who has disappeared during a visit to her family manor in Yorkshire.

Upon his arrival at the desolate sea-side manor where Lady Parry was last seen, he encounters a strange, impoverished family beset by grief, as well as mounting evidence that they hide a secret from him. The mystery surrounding Lady Parry deepens as Brendan begins to realize there is far more going on at the manor than meets the eye, but the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery in Vaughn Hall, the more he learns that in his zeal to uncover the truth, he could be precipitating Elizabeth’s destruction.

From the intrigue-laden passages of Whitehall to a foreboding Catholic manor and the deadly underworld of London, Brendan must race against time to unravel a vendetta that will strike at the very core of his world—a vendetta that could expose a buried past and betray everything he has fought for, including his loyalty to his queen.

The third and last in Gortner's Spymaster Chronicles series, The Tudor Vendetta is a return to form for both main character Brendan Prescott and author C.W. Gortner. In this third book, set four years after the disastrous end of book two (The Tudor Conspiracy), Brendan must once again help his secret cousin gain and keep throne against many enemies, from other kings and queens to secret papist plots and more. Personally up against his most clever foe, Brendan's adventures have lost none of their thrill three books in.

Brendan continues to be a good character and a good fit for this series. His secret lineage was a great reveal in the previous novels, and it continues to neatly play into his current affairs, for both good and ill. His relationship with Kate takes a beating and remains unsettled for much of the time, as it has for two books now, but Brendan actually grows and reflects on his behavior, all to the betterment of their relationship. It's not an easy ride for Brendan in The Tudor Vendetta, but he finds his allies along the way.

The plot of the novel took a weird turn for me around 200 pages in. It was set up as a rather ordinary type of historical mystery about poisons and conspiracies but then turned into unexpected territory. The twist is not the same as the historical record but C.W. Gortner ably backs up his premise, helped by seven years of history spent "in world" with the three book series. I was wary at first, but the author keeps the novel on track even with the surprise additions. However, I did think that the villain "reveal" was a little unrealistic and lessened the impact from a previous novel.

The Tudor Vendetta seems like the end for Brendan, and deservedly. He's repeatedly helped his Queen and cousin and the resolution for Hatfield felt natural and authentic. It's an excellent point to wrap up the series and Gortner's world of intelligencers and spy networks was solid from beginning to the end.

Review: Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas

Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Title: Top Ten Clues You're Clueless
Author: Liz Czukas
Genre: young adult, contemporary
Series: N/A
Published: expected December 9 2014
Source: publishers via edelweiss
Rating: 3.5/5

Top Five Things That Are Ruining Chloe’s Day

5) Working the 6:30 a.m. shift at GoodFoods Market
4) Crashing a cart into a customer’s car right in front of her snarky coworker Sammi
3) Trying to rock the “drowned rat” look after being caught in a snowstorm
2) Making zero progress with her crush, Tyson (see #3)
1) Being accused—along with her fellow teenage employees—of stealing upwards of $10,000

Chloe would rather be anywhere than locked in work jail (aka the break room) with five of her coworkers . . . even if one of them is Tyson. But if they can band together to clear their names, what looks like a total disaster might just make Chloe’s list of Top Ten Best Moments.

My second Liz Czukas novel and my impression remains the same from when I finished her debut, Ask Again Later: this is a woman that knows cute. She knows how to write cute, adorable little romances that make you ship the two people involved. Her brand of books are the best kind of fluffy contemporary YA. They're light, immediately engaging, thoroughly fun, and often quite funny with memorable narrators and fresh scenarios.

I've yet to find any serious issue with this author's characters, but I found the plotting in Top Ten Clues You're Clueless too be a bit thin. The mystery plot concerning Chloe and her friends in particular is weak and easily guessed by the audience. There are a few red herrings given a chance but to anyone paying attention, it's rather obvious both who the culprit is and how the others will figure it out. The romantic plotline, slight as it is for most of the story, manages to be much more inventive and fun, though it is often ignored in favor of focus on the extended group of characters rather than just Tyson/Chloe.

Chloe makes for an entertaining POV to read. She's a nice girl, but she's not a perfect person or narrator, as her quirks and awkward moments can show. She can veer a tad silly but she's definitely likeable and dimensional -- she even has a disability. And while Chloe may not be as straight-laced as her fellow character Micah, but she's definitely playing the role of Good Girl in this (as Debby correctly says over at Snuggly Oranges) Breakfast Club-style narrative. And, an added bonus to Top Ten Clues is the diversity present in not just the background characters and Chloe's diabetes, but with the love interest Tyson as well.

Top Ten Clues You're Clueless is another entertaining YA read from Liz Czukas. Similar in tone and style to Ask Again Later, this author is carving out a nice niche and market for herself with her relate-able and diverse cast. Fun, funny, and light, this book is a great companion to Czukas's debut and will surely please current fans and welcome new ones. 


Jessie's TBR Tag!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014
The phenomenal book blogger/artist of YA fandom Gillian from Writer of Wrongs has challenged me to answer these questions three (plus seven.) TBR Tag? Sisterhood of the World Blogging Tag? I DON'T KNOW, but the point is Gilly B asked me fun questions about books and I HAVE THOUGHTS, LET ME SHARE THEM WITH YOU.

1. Thank the blogger that nominated you and link back to their website.
2. Post the award’s logo on your blog.
3. Answer the ten questions you have been asked.
4. Nominate ten other bloggers and ask them ten other questions.

1. Which book do you own the most copies of or authors do you own the most books from?

Book I own the most copies of: Harry Potter series. I have 1-7 in classic softcover and hardcover and the new cover paperbacks. I still plan to collect the classic UK covers and the new UK covers. #sorrynotsorry

Author I own the most books by: "Carolyn Keene" and Francine Pascal with 31 each. My teen years are calling to me with this part of the question.

2. What book(s) do you think deserves more hype?

I have a long list, but I'll stick to the three I recommend the most. Rachel Aaron's Eli Monpress series needs more love always, as does Daniel O'Malley's weirdly fantastic The Rook. I would also be so happy to see The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender find a larger home in the world.

3. *whistles innocently* Seen any good TV lately?

HAH you fanatic, Gillian. I've watched the first two episodes of Reign, which is pretty much what you would expect from a CW "historical" show about Queen Mary. Aaaaaand that's it. I will await the community's decision to shun/quarantine myself.

I have added The 100 to my queue, though, so no need for total exile. I just am waiting for the pressure to abate before committing myself (I mean "commit myself" in both senses of the word. I see how this show has affected my friends.)

4. Do you have any secret talents or quirks?

I can wiggle my ears? I've never had a driver's license? I am not necessarily a "quirky" being. I'm just super clumsy and can fold my tongue in half.

5. What was your favorite book of the last month?

I'm sorry I can't hear you over my brain yelling MORTAL HEAAAAAAART.

6. How did you start reading YA?

When I was a nascent young adult for a very little while I was steered aright by teachers. I quickly then grew pretentious beyond all measure, stopped listening, and then didn't start reading YA again until I was 23. I'm still playing catch-up.

7. What food are you craving right this minute?

I'm not. I'm not really a food-type person. I am much more always craving a good drink -- tea, coffee, flavored waters, smoothies.

8. What's your Hogwarts House and why?

I'm a Ravenclaw twice-over, both my own decision and Pottermore's. But I do admit there's a good 27% of me that is definitely Slytherin-ish. As for why.... cause I'm awesome and all Ravenclaws are awesome, DUH. Because Queen JK knows me, in my soul.

9. If you could make any fictional animal your pet, who would it be?

TOOTHLESS. There are so many I would add on after that but HOLY SHIT DO I NEED TO OWN A NIGHT FURY. One that acts and thinks like Toothless.... so Toothless. Definitely the version in the movies, however, and not the books. That is not myyyy Toothless.

10. What's your superpower? (Not which one do you want, but which one do you have?)

READING LIKE A SPEED DEMON. No, really, it is. I can read super fast -- at least 100 pages in an hour and more if I am invested in the novel and/or there's no distractions around me. It makes for a high bodycount by way of books read per year.

Passing this along to:
My coblogger, Danielle!
Ash @ YAdult Review
Morgan @ Gone With The Words
Lili @ Lili's Reflections
Ellis @ Finding Bliss in Books/The Random Transliterator
Nikki @ There Were Books Involved 
Terri @ Starlight Book Reviews
Ashleigh Paige @ The YA Kitten
aaand I think everyone else has already been tagged? TAG YOURSELF, YO.

My questions!

1. What is your ultimate ship, your #1 "this is my OTP!"-level ship?

2. If you could change the ending to any one book, what would it be and why?

3. Is there a book that everyone hates and you love? 

4. Which book does the blogosphere go crazy for and you just don't understand?

5. What is the worst book you have ever read? THE WORST. Why?

6. Your top three recommendations for someone who "doesn't read YA."

7. What if there was only one book-to-movie production in 2015. You get to decide which book -- so which one do you pick?

8. Would you rather have a new Harry Potter series about Harry in his later years or a a Marauders-era book series?

9. How do you pick your next read?

10. What book have you owned the longest that is still unread on your shelf?

Book Tour Review: The Sharp Hook of Love by Sherry Jones

Title: The Sharp Hook of Love
Author: Sherry Jones
Genre: historical fiction
Series: N/S
Pages: 352
Published: October 2014
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for review
Rating: 3.5/5

Among the young women of 12th century Paris, Heloise d’Argenteuil stands apart. Extraordinarily educated and quick-witted, she is being groomed by her uncle to become an abbess in the service of God. But with one encounter, her destiny changes forever.

Pierre Abelard, headmaster at the NĂ´tre Dame Cloister School, is acclaimed as one of the greatest philosophers in France. His controversial reputation only adds to his allure, yet despite the legions of women swooning over his poetry and dashing looks, he is captivated by the brilliant Heloise alone. As their relationship blossoms from a meeting of the minds to a forbidden love affair, both Heloise and Abelard must choose between love, duty, and ambition.

Sherry Jones weaves the lovers’ own words into an evocative account of desire and sacrifice. As intimate as it is erotic, as devastating as it is beautiful, The Sharp Hook of Love is a poignant, tender tribute to one of history’s greatest romances, and to love’s power to transform and endure.

Famous, often tragic, love stories are a hard narrative to resist, and even harder when they're based in fact and not fiction. Unlike your Tristan and Iseults or Juliet and Romeos, the star-crossed lovers Heloise and Abelard, the two main characters in Sherry Jones's The Sharp Hook of Love, were real people. They lived nearly a thousand years ago, but their tumultuous story of forbidden love, revenge, secrets, and decades-long separation is still widely known today. Both incredibly intelligent and stubborn, these two determined people fight for one another and with another as the wheels of fate turn inexorably toward a difficult conclusion. 

The allure of the novel's premise can also be somewhat of a hamper to fully immersing in this version of their story. The Sharp Hook of Love is engaging and solidly written, but I found that previously knowing the outcome for these two makes me a tad cynical for the early stages of the romance. It's hard not to know this particular ending before starting, but Jones makes the read enjoyable regardless. The author's version of events sticks closely to what we factually know about Heloise and Abelard's relationship but also benefits from some new information and letters to really make their chemistry and passion pop from the page. 

Sherry Jones ably and convincingly portrays both of her main characters. It's easier to identify and care for Heloise because we not only see the story from her view but she also acts much less selfishly than her lover. Abelard is harder to sympathize for -- even at his lowest, because he remains so difficult and seemingly selfish towards the always-giving Heloise. They may have been equals in mind and respectful of one another's intelligence, but his clear societal preference makes their relationship ever more strained and unfair.

Heloise and Abelard's love story is one for the ages and Sherry Jones has re-imagined it faithfully and carefully with The Sharp Hook of Love. It's a passionate read, thanks to love letters and fraught scenarios, and Heloise more than lives up to her fame as one of Europe's most educated women. This is a story that has a little in it for every historical fan. They lived in the 12th century, but with Jones's help, Heloise and Abelard's epic love affair will still be remembered in the 21st.

The Sharp Hook of Love Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 24
Review at Bibliophilia, Please

Tuesday, November 25
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Wednesday, November 26
Review at Book Babe
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection

Friday, November 28
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry

Sunday, November 29
Spotlight & Excerpt at The Lusty Literate

Monday, December 1
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Interview at Mina’s Bookshelf

Wednesday, December 3
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Thursday, December 4
Review at The Lit Bitch

Friday, December 5
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