Cover Love #72


Rachel Walker is devoted to God. She prays every day, attends Calvary Christian Church with her family, helps care for her five younger siblings, dresses modestly, and prepares herself to be a wife and mother who serves the Lord with joy. But Rachel is curious about the world her family has turned away from, and increasingly finds that neither the church nor her homeschool education has the answers she craves. Rachel has always found solace in her beliefs, but now she can’t shake the feeling that her devotion might destroy her soul.

I’m going to completely ignore the description, because it doesn’t do a thing for me. (I’m very wary when presumably non-Christian, unhomeschooled authors attempt to take on two subjects that are very important to me.)

That said, LOOK AT THE COVER. Lurrrrvely, that’s what it is. It isn’t terribly flashy (no dragons or knives or anything), but it caught my attention immediately. I think the colors had to do with my positive first glance. They’re not flashy either, but the warm neutrals drew me in. It’s a soft cover, full of creams and flesh and sunlight and shadows. The only hard thing in view are the window panes. I love how they double as prison bars, separating us from Rachel and keeping her out… or keep us in. It’s a great subtext. Also, hellooooo gorgeous font! The title itself is gorgeously done, but I’m really in love with that capital D.

What do you think of this cover? Does it entrance you the way it does me?



Samplers – Yea or Nay?

Chapter samplers serve dual purposes. Their primary purpose is promotion. By releasing the first X amount of chapters in a book, the publisher allows access to the story and the author’s writing style without giving away the whole tamale. By reading a chapter sampler, fans get a treat to tide them over, and new readers can test out whether they’re be interested in the finale product. It’s a great system. I’ve seen Twitter explode in shrieks and flails over a well-framed chapter sampler.

Chapter samplers are also useful in cases like what we just saw a week or two ago with Orphan Queen. Instead of uploading the entire digital ARC to Edelweiss, HarperCollins decided to upload multiple chapters instead. The situation got a bit messy because HC forgot to mark pre-download that it was only a sampler (what a surprise that sudden ending was), but their logic to that point was sound.

Though we all like to think of bloggers as a happy, altruistic, book-loving hoard, some do abuse their privileges. Digital ARCs are uploaded to Edelweiss and NetGalley with the intention of cutting down the costly process of printing paper ARCs while still allowing bloggers and other reviewers advanced access to the upcoming season’s titles. Unfortunately, some then take it upon themselves to send the eARCs in their entirety to book pirate sites where the stories can then be redownloaded thousands of times, thereby robbing the publishing houses and hardworking authors of sales. And it SUCKS. (Seriously, if you pirate books, don’t call yourself a book-lover or a fan. Just get out of my face.)

By uploading only a portion of Orphan Queen, Harper allowed the chapter sampler to work its magic by getting fans and reviewers revved up for the finished product and thwarted pirates. These same pirates always (erroneously) claim that they provide free marketing for the stolen books, so Harper let them do just that. Upload and download away! Spread that chapter sampler, ’cause you’re still going to have to actually purchase the finished book rather than stealing it!

I personally try to pretend like chapter samplers don’t exist. Don’t get me wrong, they do all the things they’re supposed to do. I can read a chapter sampler and figure out whether or not I’ll jive with an author’s style, become obsessed over the story, wail over the ending, and vow to read the rest when the book comes out. However, I have noticed that I tend to do better gelling with the book in the long term if my reading experience is consistent.

The beginning of the book is the punch that keeps me propelled through the story, but my brain has a bad habit of skipping over parts it finds familiar. So when I read a chapter sampler, my brain goes “MOAR MOAR MOAR WHEEEE,” but there’s no more to read. And then when I read the final book, my brain sees the bits I’ve already read and goes “Been there, done that, what else ya got?” So what I’ve learned to do is avoid chapter samplers like the plague, let my canaries read them instead so they can tell me whether to proceed, and then devour the book whole when the full story is available.

Seriously, what are your thoughts? Do you love them? Hate them? Devour them? Ignore them?


Top 10 Tuesday – Authors I’ve Only Read 1 Book Of

I have a lot of authors that could be on this list, which is kind of exciting, because it means that I have so many books to hunt down! On the other hand, some of these authors make the list because they reeled me in with a fantastic, wonderful, mind-blowing book… that was also their debut novel, so there’s nothing else to hunt down. Augh! Continue Reading →


Review: FIREBUG by Lish McBride

Ava can start fires with her mind . . . but is it a blessing or a curse?

Ava is a firebug—she can start fires with her mind. Which would all be well and good if she weren’t caught in a deadly contract with the Coterie, a magical mafia. She’s one of their main hit men . . . and she doesn’t like it one bit. Not least because her mother’s death was ordered by Venus—who is now her boss.

When Venus asks Ava to kill a family friend, Ava rebels. She knows very well that you can’t say no to the Coterie and expect to get away with it, though, so she and her friends hit the road, trying desperately to think of a way out of the mess they find themselves in. Preferably keeping the murder to a minimum.

Usually, I’m pretty set on what I want to say about a book as soon as I’ve finished reading it; certainly, I’ve decided before I sit down to write the review. However, every now and then, a book comes along that has too many good parts to be bad and too many prickly parts to be wholly good, and I’m stuck in the middle, wobbling like a top on its last rotation. Firebug is one of those weird, unpinnable books. I can’t push my feelings into one box or another. I enjoyed myself, and the story I got wasn’t the one I expected, but there were also some troublesome parts that messed with my connection. Continue Reading →


Rewind & Review (64)

Rewind & Review


Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Mm mm mm. That’s a dang fine-looking list, if I do say so myself. There’s some personal happiness, some pertinent general information, reviews that I’m rather proud of, and two AWESOME giveaways. Go forth and devour!

Stuff I Bought

  • Palace of Spies by Sara Zettel
  • Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones
  • Dead Ends by Erin Jade Lange

Stuff I Received

  • Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay (from RandomHouse via Edelweiss)
  • The William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Trilogy by Ian Doescher (from Quirk Books)
  • Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (from Scholastic via NetGalley)

A HUGE thanks to RandomHouse, Quirk Books, and Scholastic for making the last two weeks filled with happy screams!

What I Read

  • The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry – Finished, finally! It was hard for me at first, but I definitely got into it by the end. Review to come.
  • How To Speak Dragonese by Cressida Cowell audiobook – LOVE. What do I love more? Brave Toothless? David Tennant’s “Roman” voice? Ziggerastica’s poetry? The scary sharkworms? ALL OF THE ABOVE?!
  • Firebug by Lish McBride – Reviewing this tomorrow. Rough patches and fun patches made for a difficult time deciding a rating!
  • Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant – Well that was… short. And different. Review to come.
  • The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes – A much-needed and -welcomed reread. Love being back with the group again!
  • Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes – YES. YESSSS. Serial killers! Mind games! Makeshift family units! Secrets! Kissing! YESSSS. Review to come.
  • A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Grey – Still sorting my thoughts. They’re good thoughts, but they need sorting. Review to come.

Event of the Week

THE event of the past two weeks was definitely the MnM Wedding! Last Saturday, my baby brother Sam McDaniel married his girlfriend of four years, Victoria Muchmore. It was a fabulous but very tiring event, which is the reason I skipped over last week’s R&R and doubled everything up this weekend. Every drop of stress and exhaustion was definitely worth it, though, because the wedding was beautiful, being with friends and family was awesome, and now Victoria is ours FOREVER BWAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAAHA.

Stolen from my father



Rose Under Fire Character Interview + Giveaway

Good morning, everyone. Today is a very special day. On this day in 1944, ATA pilot Rose Moyer Justice entered the Ravensbruck concentration camp in Nazi Germany as a prisoner of war. Rose herself is fictional, but her story is one that can be echoed by thousands of women from a very real time in our world’s history.

Rose Under Fire is a beautiful story, if one that’s sometimes hard to read for its verisimilitude. As the majority of the book is set within Ravensbruck, the story has its fair share of horror, heartbreak, and bleak reality, but it’s also a book that’s filled with people, and with these people come friendship, laughter, love, sacrifice, and great bravery. Part of my privilege today is the opportunity to interview one of those people. I fell in love the moment I read my review copy last year and have delighted in championing it ever since, so when its author Elizabeth Wein asked me to promote its paperback release, I jumped at the chance and set up an interview with Lisette Romilly, one of the prisoners Rose bonds with in Ravensbruck.

Check out the interview and then drop below to enter Ms. Wein’s Rose Under Fire paperback giveaway. Continue Reading →


Cover Love #71



When Silvermay first set eyes on Tamlyn Strongbow, she knew there would be no other for her. It didn′t matter that he was one of the Wyrdborn, a race of wizards who care only for themselves.

It is half a year later and Silvermay has followed Tamlyn through dangers no sixteen-year-old should face. Now she must help him defeat the darkness of his own soul, because Tamlyn wants revenge for a great wrong and the evil he has so far controlled may prove too strong.

Meanwhile, Tamlyn′s father, Coyle, is on the rise. He has possession of Silvermay′s other love, the baby Lucien, an innocent child to her, but with the magic inside him to destroy entire worlds. Tamlyn is the key. If Silvermay can save Tamlyn from himself, then together, they might save Lucien from the horror Coyle wants to inflict on him.

You want to know how pretty I think this cover is? It’s so pretty that I immediately marked it as to-read even though it’s a sequel and I haven’t even heard of the other books in the series. It’s so pretty that I am (hypothetically) willing to seek out the other books in the series and catch up just so I can read this book. I even remain (hypothetically) interested despire the fact that a baby is mentioned in the synopsis. (Babies are ruiners of stories. Fact.)

First of all, I love the colors. The white and different shades of blue really works for me. I can’t imagine how beautiful they must look on a finished copy. I also love the defined layers. They give the scene great depth and movement while keeping everything in silhouette. It’s just a really classy look. Even the font is lovely.

What do you think of this cover? Have you read the series?


Review: BLACKBIRD by Anna Carey

This twisty, breathless cat-and-mouse thrill ride, told in the second person, follows a girl with amnesia in present-day Los Angeles who is being pursued by mysterious and terrifying assailants.

A girl wakes up on the train tracks, a subway car barreling down on her. With only minutes to react, she hunches down and the train speeds over her. She doesn’t remember her name, where she is, or how she got there. She has a tattoo on the inside of her right wrist of a blackbird inside a box, letters and numbers printed just below: FNV02198. There is only one thing she knows for sure: people are trying to kill her. 

On the run for her life, she tries to untangle who she is and what happened to the girl she used to be. Nothing and no one are what they appear to be. But the truth is more disturbing than she ever imagined. 

The Maze Runner series meets Code Name Verity, Blackbird is relentless and action-packed, filled with surprising twists.

Sometimes being willing to try new things really bites a reader in the butt. Take second person narratives, for example. Unless it’s a Choose Your Own Adventure book, I really don’t do second person narratives. They irritate me. I decided to try Blackbird anyways because I thought the synopsis sounded interesting. Try new things, Shae! Branch out! Explore outside your comfort zone! Also, any book that compares itself to Code Name Verity deserves a second look, in my opinion. So I downloaded Blackbird and gave it a whirl. That was a poor life choice, my friends. Continue Reading →


Top 10 Tuesday – Underappreciated Books

Technically, this week we were supposed to list underappreciated books or authors in ONE genre. Well, that’s not gonna happen, let me just tell you now. I have SO many books that I consider to be criminally unappreciated, so I decided to do two books each for five genres. Of course, part of the trouble with being underappreciated is I’m sure there are tons of other books that deserve love that I don’t know about as well. There are also books that I will forever consider unappreciated until everyone in the world has read them (The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner and His Fair Assassin by Robin LaFevers come to mind.)

Note: I am only listing individual books. If I list a book in a series, please take it as a recommendation for the entire series. Continue Reading →



When high school junior Tommy Smythe goes missing, everyone has a theory about what happened to him. Tommy was adopted, so maybe he ran away to find his birth parents. He was an odd kid, often deeply involved in his own thoughts about particle physics, so maybe he just got distracted and wandered off. He was last seen at a pull-out off the highway, so maybe someone drove up and snatched him. Or maybe he slipped into a parallel universe. Tommy believes that everything is possible, and that until something can be proven false, it is possibly true. So as long as Tommy’s whereabouts are undetermined, he could literally be anywhere.

Told in a series of first-person narratives from people who knew Tommy and third-person chapters about people who find the things Tommy left behind—his red motorbike, his driving goggles, pages from his notebook—Particles explores themes of loneliness, connectedness, and the role we play in creating our own realities.

A few weeks ago I tweeted about that feeling you get when you finish a book that you know is going to be a pain and a half to review. This is that book. Whether the book is good or not seems irrelevant at the moment, because I don’t know how to get you through what this book is to make any kind of value judgment. I will say that it is definitely unlike most books I read. Continue Reading →


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