Danielle & Jessie's End of Year Survey!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014
2014 End Of Year Book Survey
 Credit for survey goes to Jamie at The Broke and the Bookish/The Perpetual Page Turner.

Note: The survey is for books you read throughout the year, no matter when they were published, and is not limited to just books that came out in 2014!!


Number Of Books You Read:

Jessie: 300

Danielle: 114

Number of Re-Reads:

Jessie: 5

Danielle: 4

Genre You Read The Most From:

Jessie: fantasy, historical fiction, then contemporary

Danielle: Fantasy (47 books) followed distantly by realistic fiction (21)


1. Best Book You Read In 2014?

(If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2014 release vs. backlist)

Jessie: adult fantasy: Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2) by Brandon Sanderson. Thrilling, full of great moments and fantastic characterization, unparallelled worldbuilding. 

YA fantasy: Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3) by Laini Taylor. Brutal, beautiful, and full of that Laini Taylor magic.

Danielle: The Girl With All the Gifts. 5 star, genre defying, absolutely brutal read.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

 Jessie: Relic by Renee Collins. Fantasy! Dragons! I was so excited to read this and then it just...stalled a third of the way through. Way too convoluted, and poorly written. I tried for two months but had concede defeat.

Danielle: Princess of Thorns! It was one of my most anticipated reads but it was just bonkers awful.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014? 

Jessie: Garth Nix's Clariel. Sadly this is a "disappointed in a bad way" choice. I appreciated the diversity (asexual main character!) but though I loved the first three, this long-anticipated sequel was a rather limp, weak effort compared to its predecessors. In a good way: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin. I had major issues with her debut All That Glows but this was exciting, inventive, and much better written.

Danielle:  No One Needs to Know. I'm sorry, what do you mean the "cheating" book turned out to be a totally sweet book about lesbians where no one dies or gets AIDS?!

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?

Danielle: Probably Traitor's Blade. It wasn't the best fantasy novel I read this year, but it might have been the best debut fantasy, so I pushed it on everyone waiting for their next Martin/Lynch dose. (You should read it, btw.)

Jessie: I'm on the same page as Danielle -- Traitor's Blade. There are a few tropes (fridging! Always the damn fridging) and missteps (sexual healing? Bahahaha) but it's a good debut and a harbinger of (hopefully) excellent things to come from de Castell. (ps the UK cover is much better than the US.)
Late addition: The Copper Promise by Jen Williams. Great characters, clever stories, well-written.

 5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?

Jessie: Best started: Eli Monpress series by Rachel Aaron/Bach. Best sequel: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas and Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson. Best series ender: Endsinger by Jay Kristoff. Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta.

Danielle: Best started: The Way of Kings!!!! Best sequel: Lola and the Boy Next Door Best End: Talk Sweetly to Me/The Suffragette Scandal

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?

 Jessie: Rosamund Hodge. Only one book (and novella) pubbed but I have an ARC of Crimson Bound and my excitement levels cannot be measured. Rachel Bach/Aaron. I have raced through nearly all this woman has published in the last 12 months. None of the 8 I have read have been rated below a 4-star rating.

Danielle: Sarah J. Maas. I know I'm late to the Throne of Glass party, but man am I rabid to read Crown of Midnight.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Jessie: Hmmm...I read pretty much anything besides gross-out horror, but I'd guess The Girl With All the Gifts, since I am pretty selective about my horror reads.

Danielle: Besides TGWAtG, Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty. I never read poetry, but I'm head over heels for this volume.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

 Jessie: Cruel Beauty. I was completely useless until I finished that book. I did nothing but ignore the world and get lost in Hodge's story and world.

Danielle: The Alloy of Law. I inhaled that book. WAYNE

 9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Jessie: The Copper Promise by Jen Williams. So much fun and I plan on a reread before The Iron Ghost comes out in the UK aka when I can get it.

Danielle: TGWAtG. I read it as an ARC, but I bought it to see if anything changed.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

 Jessie: This is HARD. Cruel Beauty is definitely one. The Glass Casket is another. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender as well. Also A Creature of Moonlight.

Danielle: The Paper Magician. The origami diagrams make it.

11. Most memorable character of 2014?

Jessie: Quintana of Charyn because OBVIOUSLY. Manon Blackbeak - I love me a great antihero and Manon is all that and more. (Throne of Glass series) Nyx - prickly, angry, 100% badass. (Cruel Beauty.) Devi Morris from the Paradox series (& the Lady Grey) - this girl is the definition of awesome. Falcio val Mond from Traitor's Blade - I just really like him?

Danielle: Celaena Sardothien. I'm super impressed with Sarah Maas for creating a character who's hard and vulnerable, cultured and crude. She's an assassin: arrogant, and not afraid to sass a god, but also deeply feminine. And I'm in love with her.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?

 Jessie: Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor. That woman can write like none other and she has such a lyrical, unique way of writing.

Danielle: Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty. Some of those poems. Wow.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?

Jessie: Two Boys Kissing. As a reader, I have a lot of empathy and feel things deeply (even fictional things) but this book really brought home to me what it would be like to be gay in America. Levithan can be preachy but I think he toned it down perfectly here.

Danielle: Let's Pretend This Never Happened. I laughed. I cried. I finally accepted that I was no longer "coping" with my mental illness and sought professional help for it.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? 

Jessie: The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima. I don't know why I was so leery of her books because now I am on a mission TO READ THEM ALL. Also: Jim Butcher's Codex Alera fantasy series. I can't stand The Dresden Files so this was a big surprise when I read, loved, raced through the first three massive books in 4 days (Furies of Calderon, Academ's Fury, and Cursor's Fury.)

Danielle: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I know. I hated the end of TOotP so much I quit the whole series. I tried to read THBP and couldn't get through all the angst, but Jess convinced me to watch the movie and read TDH. She's much smarter than me. [THIS MAKES ME SO HAPPY IN MY HARRY-POTTER LOVING HEART -J]

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

Jessie: aaah, I was bad at remembering quotes this year but here are a few:

"The real gift is time. Now. Each other, this night, and the wide, wide moon-silvered sea." - Lovely, Dark, and Deep by Amy McNamara (reread)

"Where you go, I shall go; where you die, I shall die, and there I will be buried." - Cruel Beauty

 "Like a star in the cupped hands of night." 

"It wasn't passion, simply, or desire but something bigger that contained those things and many others. It was hunger and satiety at once -- 'wanting' and 'having' meeting, neither extinguishing the other."
- Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

"They had an ordinary life, full of ordinary things -- if love can ever be called that." - Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

"It was so much us and so little him and me. Us, us, us. The opposite of lonely was this." - Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

Danielle:  "I comfort myself with the knowledge that if Duval ever feels smothered by me, it will be because I am holding a pillow over his face and commending his soul to Mortain." - Ismae Rienne Grave Mercy

HAVE I MENTIONED HOW MUCH I LOVE SASSY ASSASSINS?! [This is one of my favorite quotes of everrrrrrr - J]

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2014?

Jessie: shortest: Twin Roses by Sarah Cross - 50 pages (to be fair, it's a novella)
real "book" - The Demon in the Wood by Leigh Bardugo - Darkling origin short story.
Longest: Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson - 1,088 pages

How I did this: Went to my read books on Goodreads and sorted by page number and just looked for what I knew I read this year that was the shortest and longest.

Danielle: Shortest - Fifty Shades of Jezebel and the Beanstalk - 82 pages
Longest - The Way of the Kings - 1007 pages

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

Jessie: ENDSINGER. I won't name names but DAMN YOU KRISTOFF.

Danielle: Feed. You monsters.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

Jessie: Annith/Balthazar (Mortal Heart). Quintana/Froi (Quintana of Charyn). Devi/The Lady Grey (Paradox series). Wax/Wayne (The Alloy of Law) [YES - D], Mac/Wesley Ayres (The Archived series). Cole/Isabel (Sinner). Manon/Abraxos (Heir of Fire).

Danielle: It's a tie between Cress and Thorne and Sybella and Beast. I have so many feels. I won't choose.

Consider it lucky I didn't also list Lex/Driggs, Ismae/Duval, Anna/Ettiene, Lola/Cricket, Olivia/Zoey, and Mercy/Adam. I'm so thoughtful to you.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Danielle: Blue and her boys in The Raven Boys. Gansey/Ronan. Ronan/Adam. Everyone/Noah. The friendship between the group is the second best part of the book.

Jessie: Ditto Dani's answer. Also Emi and Charlotte's friendship in Everything Leads to You.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Jessie: Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson, Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas, Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins.

Danielle: The Way of the Kings. You all know how much I love Sanderson, but this book makes the rest of his bibliography look like high school creative writing.

21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

Jessie: Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach because Christina at A Reader of Fictions is AMAZING.

Danielle: The Raven Boys. I really had no interest in the plot until Jessie and Meg got a hold of me. They're much smarter than me. (They did the same with Feed, but we're not talking about that.)

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?

Jessie: ELI MONPRESS. ELI MONPRESSSSSS. And Cole from Sinner. And Wesley Ayres from The Archived/The Unbound. The Fetch from Queen of the Tearling.

Danielle: Ismae/Sybella/Celaena! This was the year of the assassin.

23. Best 2014 debut you read?

Jessie: Something Real by Heather Demetrios and Cruel Beauty (you're surprised, I can tell) and A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller.

Danielle: The Truth About Alice and  Something Real. Both are super emotional, contemporaries that broke my heart and I don't think I can give the edge to one or the other.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Danielle: The Emperor's Blades. It's been a long time since I've read a fantasy with such a detailed world and in a debut author, too.  

Jessie: What Danielle said!

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Jessie: Isla and the Happily Ever After and the Eli Monpress series.

Danielle: Night of Cake & Puppets! [I need to read this but I am paranoid about saving it for the perfect day! -J]

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?

Jessie: Endsinger. Dreams of Gods and Monsters. The last few pages of Ruin and Rising. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender.

Danielle: Feed. YOU MONSTERS.

There are literally tear stains on my copy.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Jessie: Fat Cat by Robin Brande. It's an older title, but it's such a great "issue" book without being overwhelming. Plus excellent female friendship which I always want in YA and so rarely find (see also Everything Leads to You).

Danielle: The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare. It wasn't perfect, but a really fun time travel book and man did I love the date with Blue in the 1920s. Unfortunately, it's one of the last releases by the now defunct Strange Chemistry, which didn't help it reach its full market.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Jessie: Dreams of Gods and Monsters. Endsinger. My poor poor emotions.

Danielle: You. Monsters.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?

Jessie: Plus One by Elizabeth Fama. A dystopianish book that was part action, part thriller, all social commentary. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson -- no one writes like this woman and it stands out in memory.

Danielle: Second Star. Do I love it? Do I hate it? Did any of it happen? 

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Jessie: The Walled City mostly because they abandoned that GORGEOUS cover with a POC for lame typography. And Defy because RAPE HOUSES as a PLOT DEVICE. [I blocked this book out when I wrote my answer! THOSE DAMN RAPE HOUSES - D]

Danielle: After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse. I have never before seen a book with absolutely zero redeeming value. I'd be in awe, if I didn't feel so cheated.


1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014? 

Danielle: I've been following Gilly for ages, but her art blog, The Art of Young Adult blew up this year and it's AMAZING. 

Jessie: The Art of Young Adult, most definitely. Gillian is so very talented. I plan to decorate my house with her art and HTTYD art.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2014? 

Danielle: My best review as The Immortal Crown. I'm really proud of what I wrote and how it came out, but my favorite review was The Body Electric. Not the beeeeees!

Jessie: uh well I hate reading my own writing. Um um I also had a major reviewing slump for a few months. But I don't hate my Cress review? See also my review for Fortune's Pawn.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

Jessie: um I suck at discussion posts. Danielle writes good ones, though.

Danielle: How Do You Find Time to Read? I loved hearing about other people's stories and taking the time to see how little moments can add up.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

Jessie: BEA! My first time and it was so much fun and I finally met a lot of people I wanted to, met authors, etc. It was such an experience. I talk about it here.

Danielle: I loved doing Book Blogger Trick or Treat with Great Imaginations. So much fun. I have to dress as Karou next year.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?

Jessie: BEA, volunteering at the Kids Author Carnival, the Ruin and Rising box MacMillan sent out :D

Danielle: I received and got to send a great package to a super cool blogger through The Broke and The Bookish's Secret Santa program. It was so much fun to pick out things for someone else and see what my Santa got me, and I felt like I was really part of the community for the first time. 

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Jessie: I do not even know or how to look this up. Sssssh. [It's her Q&A with Elaine Orr, followed by her review of The Queen of the Tearling. - D]

Danielle: Mine was my review of I Didn't Come Here to Make Friends, by more than 200 views. It seems to all come from google, a couple people every week searching for the book. Hope it's what you're all looking for?

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Jessie: Eh, not fussed about this, really.

Danielle: My TTT: Most Unique Books. I was disappointed that it didn't spark more discussion because I put a lot of work into it, but the comments it did get were great.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Jessie: BookOutlet, which I am sure will continue to take ALL MY MONEY for years to come. Local store Changing Hands here in Phoenix. Half Price Books!

Danielle: SAME! BookOutlet's Boxing Day sale broke my wallet and my shelving units.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Jessie: I usually only set out to beat my previous years total and I did not, for the first time in four years. In 2013 I read 376 books and I only hit 300 this year. In my defense, I got engaged, got promoted to a much more stressful and time consuming job, and also moved out of my hometown for the first time.

Danielle: I did! This was the year I finally read triple digits! I wanted to read 100 books and I read 114, which is amazing. especially considering my average pages are way up from last year as well.
I participated in my first Bookish Bingo, and I got five Bingos. (I had a fantasy of filling all the squares, but I only got 19/24. Reading by cover color is hard!)
I was trying to reread the last two ASoIaF books in chapter chronological order, and that I didn't finish. 


1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?

Jessie: Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann. Danielle loves this and she is picky about poetry so I am doubly excited. I am also breaking the glass on my last (as of now) Marchetta and Laini Taylor reads (Looking for Alibrandi and Night of Cake and Puppets/Silksinger/Blackbringer respectively.)

Danielle: A Little Something Different. It's kind of divisive, but I'm super stoked for it and my TBTB Santa so kindly sent it.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?

Jessie: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows, The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey.

Danielle: A Court of Thorns and Roses. It has the best early buzz I've seen in a long time and it's gorgeous and I'm a total Maas fangirl now.

3. 2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Danielle: None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio. A novel about a teen who discovers she's intersex, written by an actual Yale School of Medicine graduate? So it might actually be accurate and sensitive? I'm buzzing.

Jessie: The Sin Eater's Daughter and now that I have read Danielle's answer, None of the Above. And The Wrath and the Dawn by Rene Ahdieh.

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?

Jessie: FAIREST AND WINTER I NEED THESE also Throne of Glass #4 and Stormlight Archive #3 and also Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Danielle: Fairest and Winter to end the Lunar Chronicles. I don't want the series to go, but to finally get the real info on the Lunars? GIMME. 

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?

Jessie: BEA if possible, YALLWest, read more books than I did this year :D

Danielle: BEA. BEA. BEAAAAAA!!!! (And read another 100 books, but mostly see everyone at BEA.)

6. A 2015 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

Jessie: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. SO DAMN GOOD.

Danielle: Hellhole by Gina Damico. It's super funny, just what you'd expect from the author of Croak

December Recap

Tuesday, December 30, 2014
We are posting this recap just a bit early since we have an End of the Year survey going up first thing tomorrow. Be sure to check back then for both mine and Dani's favorite picks for all of 2014!


Reviews Posted:
Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin (Ashfall #2)
Blog Tour: Prism by Roland Allnach
Two Minute Review: Under Different Stars by Amy Bartol (Kricket #1)
Tear You Apart by Sarah Cross (Beau Rivage #2)

A photo posted by Jessie Hall Wallace (@jypsyhowl) on


Reviews Posted:
Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay
For Real by Alison Cherry 
When by Victoria Laurie
The Curse of the Iris by Jason Fry (Jupiter Pirates #2)

Review: When by Victoria Laurie

Monday, December 29, 2014
Title: When
Author: Victoria Laurie
Genre: supernatural, mystery
Series: none
Pages: 336
Published: Expected January 13, 2015
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Maddie Fynn is a shy high school junior, cursed with an eerie intuitive ability: she sees a series of unique digits hovering above the foreheads of each person she encounters. Her earliest memories are marked by these numbers, but it takes her father’s premature death for Maddie and her family to realize that these mysterious digits are actually death dates, and just like birthdays, everyone has one.

Forced by her alcoholic mother to use her ability to make extra money, Maddie identifies the quickly approaching death date of one client's young son, but because her ability only allows her to see the when and not the how, she’s unable to offer any more insight. When the boy goes missing on that exact date, law enforcement turns to Maddie.

Soon, Maddie is entangled in a homicide investigation, and more young people disappear and are later found murdered. A suspect for the investigation, a target for the murderer, and attracting the attentions of a mysterious young admirer who may be connected to it all, Maddie's whole existence is about to be turned upside down. Can she right things before it's too late?

I don't dislike When as a serial killer mystery, thought the police work is shoddy as hell. (Maybe we could stop focusing on all these teenagers who alibied out and start focusing on this town's disproportionately large population of creepy as fuck middle age men?) I do hate When as a supernatural/fantasy, because it's not one. 

Maddie has the ability to see deathdates, the day a person will die. It doesn't matter if she sees them in person or in photo or if they're already dead. Maddie knows when every one around her will die. And though she's tried for a decade to change these futures, ever since her cop father was killed in the line of duty, she can't.

The problem is the deathdates aren't worked into the story well. Maddie ends up being investigated by the FBI, (after one disappearance, before the local police have even looked into the missing person, much less found a body,) because she warns a woman her son will die. After that, the paranormal aspect is pretty much ignored until the end of the mystery. Sure Maddie tells a lot of people their deathdates, but it's not integral to the plot. Instead we get large sections on how hard it is to be the child of an alcoholic. Laurie writes the tragedy of Maddie's mother well, but it's far from the supernatural mystery I was expecting.

On the positive side, the book is very readable. I finished it in a day, staying up late because I was unable to put it down. I didn't love the reveal of the killer, but the final act is action packed and tense. I liked Maddie and her interactions with her uncle Donnie and the push and pull between him and Maddie's mother. The scene where Maddie finally convinces the FBI agent to listen to her was believable with just the right touch of humor. 

Unfortunately, the end is so saccharine I have a toothache. The few established rules to the extremely underdeveloped supernatural ability are flung out the window. The romance is a joke. Characterizations do 180s with no explanation. <spoiler>The bad guy is now a good guy! The good guy was secretly a bad guy! PTSD is cured though an afternoon of skateboarding! I can overlook a lot in the name of exciting scenes, but the end is a disaster whether you consider this a police story or a supernatural story.

When feels very much like two books. The contemporary drama of high school bullying, alcoholism, and the crushing guilt of not being able to save those around her from their fated deaths is one story and the serial killer procedural is a second. Unfortunately, while I liked some parts, I don't recommend either story, much less the book as a whole.

Review: Tear You Apart by Sarah Cross

Sunday, December 28, 2014
Title: Tear You Apart
Author: Sarah Cross
Genre: retellings, supernatural, young adult
Series: Beau Rivage #2
Pages: 384
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 4/5

A modern Snow White reimagining, in which a teen with a murderous stepmother is trapped in a dangerous game of love, jealousy, and hate with her best friend and lover, who is destined to decide if she lives or dies . . . until a mysterious prince from a strange underworld offers her an escape.

Faced with a possible loophole to her "Snow White" curse, Viv goes underground, literally, to find the prince who's fated to rescue her. But is life safe in the Underworld worth the price of sacrficing the love that might kill her?

I was (and still am) a big fan of Sarah Cross's debut Kill Me Softly back when it was published in 2012. Having just reread it to prepare for this long-anticipated sequel, I can tell it holds up and remains fun, funny, clever, original, and diverse. Happily for me (and you!), Tear You Apart is more of the same. A feisty fairy tale retelling that loses one of the bite the Brothers Grimm were so fond of, Cross isn't afraid to go to dark places with her story and characters -- a fact that helps rank this series as tied with The Lunar Chronicles for my favorite modern retellings. 

The basics of the beloved Snow White tale are here -- evil stepmother, absent father, beautiful daughter in peril, animal friends, poisonings, angry huntsman -- but Cross makes it all her own from the start. From the town of Beau Rivage itself to the clever way she interprets and modernizes the curses, Tear You Apart is engaging and original while still holding true to the fairytale that inspired and guides it. There's all that you expect in a Snow White tale, and then more. Black lesbian singers, POC characters abound, creative spins on classic ideas -- it's all part and parcel of what Sarah Cross has to offer. (But can we get a third book just about Jewel, pretttyy pleaaaase?!)

Characters from the first book are still in play and remain likeable, active, and essential, but Viv and Henley are the main focal points and they err on the side of angry and angsty more than cute and cuddly. It was nice to see former MCs Blue, Mira, and Freddie (also can we make Freddie a gay Prince? I ship it) but the new characters also intrigued me (Jack Tran, anyone?) and seem to beg for more screentime. I'd be down for a Jack the Giant Slayer story, is what I am saying. Actually, I would be down for anything Cross writes in this world (and the two short stories [After the Ball & Twin Roses] are also fun trips back to Beau Rivage when you're in withdrawal.) 

There are some problematic aspects to this story, no matter how much I like it and had fun reading it. Viv and Henley don't communicate well (in general and with each other), and then punish each other for this fact for most of the book. Neither one acts very maturely when it comes to the other and it can be frustrating as hell. Their relationship is far from healthy. But for me, this book works because I don't need Viv or Henley to be perfect. I need them to grow, learn, adapt --- and this they do over the course of Tear You Apart. These books won't be for everyone -- they're far darker than most fairytale retellings being pubbed -- but I love them for just those reasons (among others.)

If you like dark fairy tales, or the Lunar Chronicles, I'd highly suggest the Beau Rivage stories. They are fresh, fun, and dangerous. Sarah Cross's imagination is a fertile, creative place and her retellings are highly readable and well-written.  


Review: For Real by Allison Cherry

Saturday, December 27, 2014
Title: For Real
Author: Alison Cherry
Genre: realistic fiction
Series: none
Pages: 304
Published: December 9, 2014
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Rating: 4 out of 5

From Alison Cherry, author of Red, a novel PW declares “sparkles with wit,” comes a terrific new book about two sisters and one big question: how do you know who’s for real?

No parents. No limits. No clue what they’re in for.

Shy, cautious Claire has always been in her confident older sister’s shadow. While Miranda’s life is jam-packed with exciting people and whirlwind adventures, Claire gets her thrills vicariously by watching people live large on reality television.

When Miranda discovers her boyfriend, Samir, cheating on her just after her college graduation, it’s Claire who comes up with the perfect plan. They’ll outshine Miranda’s fame-obsessed ex while having an amazing summer by competing on Around the World, a race around the globe for a million bucks. Revenge + sisterly bonding = awesome.

But the show has a twist, and Claire is stunned to find herself in the middle of a reality-show romance that may be just for the cameras. This summer could end up being the highlight of her life . . . or an epic fail forever captured on film. In a world where drama is currency and manipulation is standard, how can you tell what’s for real?

Don’t make the mistake of confusing For Real with Something Real. Both are 2014 releases about reality tv, but while Something is a powerful drama about how “reality” tv can ruin the lives of the participants, For is a totally sweet coming of age comedy. They’re both fantastic, but very different stories.

Claire loves reality tv. Not in the way I loved Charm School but in a serious, sociological way. She wants to be a producer or story editor and watches all of the shows obsessively. So when her sister goes through a horrible breakup with a guy who’s been cast on The Amazing Race Around the World, Claire sees a can’t miss storyline sure to get Miranda cast. Except Mira needs a partner and Claire’s more of a behind-the-scenes kind of person. Still, she really loves her sister and hopes beating Samir to the million dollars will give Mira the closure she needs, so the girls head off to casting.

Right away, Miranda can’t seem to see that Claire isn’t thirteen any more. She talks over her, babies her, and tells the producers how fragile and pathetic Claire is. Yet, Claire’s not much better, placing Mira on a pedestal and feeling pretty envious of her “perfect” sister. So when the game throws them a huge twist, neither one supports the other like she should. As they’re split up, Claire becomes desperate to show Miranda how much she’s grown, leading to the real heart of the novel.

For a book titled For Real it really is anything but realistic. I don’t believe for a minute a girl who knows about story editors is also unaware of contestants playing characters. Yet she’s fooled at least twice. The same goes for producer manipulation. Claire comes off as incredibly naive about reality tv, for a supposed expert. Yet, she struggles along gamely, making strides with her social anxiety and trying really hard to show Miranda she’s an adult. The conflict was kind of silly, but the growth was real and the climax was really funny. The sheep scene had me in stitches.

The girls get their happy ending, the bad guys get comeuppance on national tv, (including the host breaking character to high five one of the girls for her amazing revenge,) and we close with the obvious message that your family is who’s for real. The book doesn’t plumb new depths, but it’s a short, insanely fun feel-good contemporary that I can absolutely recommend to people with sisters, reality show junkies, or anyone who needs a smile.

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