THE BEST DAY OF THE YEAR

IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIIIIIIIIME OF THE YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAR!

That’s right, it’s MY BIRTHDAY!!

There is absolutely no reason whatsoever other than 1) it’s my birthday, and I’M EXCITED, 2) I wanted an excuse not to write a “real” post for today, 3) I’m narcissistic, and 4) IT’S MY BIRTHDAY AND I’M EXCITED!

See you all next week! *swims in presents and cake*

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Cover Love #68

CoverLove1

Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a “free agent,” with latent magical power. Soon she’s part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal who knows magic too?

Oh Penguin, your designers make my heart and eyes very happy. I love this. I love the fonts, and I love that the African-American protagonist is the focal point of the cover. No whitewashing here! I love that she looks how she is described—twelve years old, African, albino, magical. I especially love the colors. They’re bright and eye-catching without being obnoxious, smoothed into living, organic shapes that (in my opinion) work well with the promised magic. Also, she’s holding a knife. I’m a sucker for knives on a cover.

Have you read this book? Is it as good as it looks? What do you think of the cover?

 

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Mini Reviews: BLAZE and I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER

Today on the blog, I give quick reviews of books I read over the summer. Be warned, they are ranty to the max. Also, some spoilers ahead.

Blaze is tired of spending her life on the sidelines, drawing comics and feeling invisible. She’s desperate for soccer star Mark to notice her. And when her BFF texts Mark a photo of Blaze in sexy lingerie, it definitely gets his attention. After a hot date in the back of her minivan, Blaze is flying high, but suddenly Mark’s feelings seem to have been blasted by a freeze-ray gun, and he dumps her. Blaze gets her revenge by posting a comic strip featuring uber-villain Mark the Shark. Mark then retaliates by posting her “sext” photo, and, overnight, Blaze goes from Super Virgin Girl to Super Slut. That life on the sidelines is looking pretty good right about now…

Ah, Blaze. You tried so hard and still managed to make me so grumpy. For much of the story, I had fun. I liked Blaze’s attitude and her talent at drawing comics and her determination to count the most cows. I especially loved the nerdery that permeated every page. All the chatter about comics and superheroes made me so happy.

However, all that had changed by the end precisely because nothing changed. My main issue was that (in my opinion) the characters experienced zero growth. None. Nada. By the end of the book, Mark is still a jerk, Dad is still a jerk, Mom is still overworked and acting jerky, Blaze’s friends are still a jerk, Comic Book Guy is still a jerk, and Catherine Wiggins is still being bullied. Blaze has a changed perspective, but what good will it do her when literally everyone around her is still the same and the only person she’s bothered to call out is Mark and Dad? GIRL, YOUR FRIENDS ARE STILL MAJOR JERKS AND NOW YOU WANT TO DATE A SNOBBY NERD BOY. LOOK AT YOUR LIFE. LOOK AT YOUR CHOICES.

For real, I cannot possibly consider Comic Book Boy as a valid romantic alternative. He falls victim to the classic nerd boy blunders by testing Blaze’s nerd cred by asking her a bunch of super-specific comic book questions. Listen, jerkface, even if she couldn’t answer a single one of those questions, that doesn’t make her a poser fan. IF SHE LIKES THE THINGS, SHE’S A FAN, CAPISCE? And Blaze, by joining in Comic Book Boy’s haughty mockery of customers, you are contributing to the elitist drivel perpetuated by the very fanboys that so angered you. Also, talk about bad customer service.

I also had a big problem with how this book treated Cathy Wiggins, the school’s resident “slut.” After Blaze herself is unfairly maligned, she finds a sympathetic soul in Wiggins, who confides that she is—despite the rumors—a virgin. Blaze is rocked by the injustice of Wiggins’ situation, and… does absolutely nothing about it. Absolutely. Nothing. Blaze goes on to have a Hollywood-worthy confrontation with her father and reclaim her own self-worth, and that’s fab. But there’s zero indication that anything changes for Wiggins, who has been suffering under the same pariah status as Blaze since middle school. MIDDLE SCHOOL. Say “it gets better” all you want, Blaze, but I won’t believe you until you actively work to make it better for other people rather than just worrying about yourself. So much for girl power and self-respect.

I purposely chose to make this a mini-review to limit the ranting that I could do, so I’m stopping here. It’s a pity that such a fun-looking book ended up being so rage-inducing.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

John Wayne Cleaver is dangerous, and he knows it. He’s spent his life doing his best not to live up to his potential. He’s obsessed with serial killers, but really doesn’t want to become one. So for his own sake, and the safety of those around him, he lives by rigid rules he’s written for himself, practicing normal life as if it were a private religion that could save him from damnation. Dead bodies are normal to John. He likes them, actually. They don’t demand or expect the empathy he’s unable to offer. Perhaps that’s what gives him the objectivity to recognize that there’s something different about the body the police have just found behind the Wash-n-Dry Laundromat—and to appreciate what that difference means. Now, for the first time, John has to confront a danger outside himself, a threat he can’t control, a menace to everything and everyone he would love, if only he could.

John Wayne Cleaver is one mixed-up kid. He’s the son and nephew of morticians and grew up around dead bodies. He’s tied to serial killers through names (John Wayne Gacy, the tool cleaver, and the Son of Sam—John’s dad name is Sam), and he’s obsessed with their “craft.” More than anything, John is worried that he’ll become a serial killer.

This book is craaaaaazyyyyyyyyy. Dan Wells has clearly done his research. The depictions of serial killers and sociopathology are so on point, I nearly squealed out loud while reading. I LOVE it when I can trust the text to know what it’s talking about, especially when it concerns a subject that interests me. Everything from the steps to properly embalm a body to the psychology of a killing spree was laid out with precision and—dare I say it—charm. I was certainly entertained. I Am not a Serial Killer is a story in the tradition of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope. John isn’t the most likable protagonist, nor even a character you want to succeed, but you can’t help rooting for him.

I think this book would have been just about perfect for me if it hadn’t been for the twist. [SPOILER]Halfway through, we find out that the serial killer in question is actually a paranormal creature. That’s right. This hardcore murder mystery thriller just took a sharp right turn into fairytales. Rather than pitting John against a wily old human serial killer, our main character goes toe to toe with an ancient beast who replaces his dying parts with those of his victims’—a sort of self-made Frankenstein’s monster. What am I supposed to do with that?[END SPOILER]

Without that twist, I think this book would have been a four or even five star. With it, I’m left vacillating between a two and a three, and I will proceed with caution when reading the sequels.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

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Top 10 Tuesday – Books People Have Been Bugging You To Read

Man, I have so many of these. SO MANY. Like, “1200+ books on the TBR” level SO MANY. This is both the great benefit and great curse of having so many blogger friends. Y’all are bubbly and enthusiastic, and I get a ton of great recommendations, but that also means I’m DROWNING in books I want to read. For this list, I ended up just tossing up the first recommendations I thought of off the top of my head, as these are all recs I’ve received multiple times. Continue Reading →

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Review: THE PERILOUS SEA by Sherry Thomas

After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny—especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in.

Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother’s prophecies—and forging a divergent path to an unknowable future.

Note: This review may contain spoiler for The Burning Sky.

WARNING: This book will give you feels and flails. It will make you groan and wail. It will make you mutter things about “that witch, destiny.” It may make you punch your coworker in the shoulder. (Sorry, Melissa.)

My attitude has undergone a complete change regarding this series. I don’t know if you all remember, but I had a difficult time getting through The Burning Sky. I thought it was too derivative, too cliched, too novice. I almost DNF’d it before the action picked up and the romance started bubbling. When I reread TBS last month, I was more engaged, especially concerning the delicious chemistry between Titus and Iolanthe, but I worried about being tripped up by the sequel. But guys, let me tell you, Ms. Thomas has found her YA groove in this book.

Continue Reading →

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Rewind & Review (62)

Rewind & Review

Hey guys! I’m experimenting with new blog buttons for R&R, as the old clock one was looking a bit ratty. Still not sure I’ve settled on a good one, but I like the old school cinematic quality of this one, so we’ll see.

Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

This weeks features massive fangirling, some bittersweet tears, a giveaway, and a pretty cover! Wins all around!

Stuff I Received

  • Goliath by Scott Westerfield (via YABE)

Stuff I Bought

  • Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin
  • Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis
  • The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting
  • The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente
  • The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett
  • Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn

The stuff I bought came from Book Outlet’s YA sale. All that for $19!

What I Read

  • How To Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell audiobook – This was completely different from the movie but HILARIOUS. I’ve had David Tennant singing the “Singing Dinner” song stuck in my head all week!
  • The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas – SUCH SWOONS. MUCH SHIPS. TOTES TWISTS. Review to come.
  • Blackbird by Anna Carey – Mehhh. I’ll review this one, but I won’t be happy about it.
  • Sway by Kat Spears – DNF’d. Review to come.
  • Falling into Place by Amy Zhang – DNF’d. Review to come.

Event of the Week

Personally, the most interesting thing to happen to me this week was the demolition at work! They’re building a children’s hospital right outside my floor, and we got to watch as the dragon claw machine (don’t know what it’s really called) tore down the overhang outside the entrance. It was exciting, all that destruction. Even the doctors came in and cheered on the claw operator.

On a more global scale, my attention was captivated by two sad bits of news from elsewhere in the US. Earlier in the week, the news broke that Robin Williams committed suicide. I normally don’t feel celebrity deaths, but hearing Robin Williams down was very reminiscent of when Steve Irwin died. It was so sudden and the person involved was such a big part of my childhood. It seemed a lot of my friends on Twitter felt the same, which was comforting.

The other REALLY big event was the protests in Ferguson over the death of Mike Brown. This site has a pretty good breakdown of what’s going on, if you’ve somehow missed the hullabaloo. The gist, though, is that 18yo Mike Brown (black) was walking unarmed in town when he was shot and killed by an unarmed police officer (white). The officer in question claimed that the boy had tried to go for his gun and was put on paid leave by the department. When the citizens of the town gathered to protest on Wednesday evening, the police met them with SWAT teams, tear gas, and riot shields. The media was banned from the area, reporters were arrested, and the entire town was put under a no-fly zone. Various bloggers and reporters still managed to tweet out updates and livefeeds of the action. The one livefeed I followed had over 36,000 people watching as the police chased protesters through neighborhoods and tossed smoke bombs into front lawns. It was some of the craziest dystopian crap I’ve ever seen.

State officials finally took note and stepped in. They removed local officers from their posts and sent in highway patrol, who acted with levelheadedness that was lacking previously. The entire tone coming out of Ferguson on Thursday was completely (blessedly) different. Unfortunately, the change didn’t last, as the Ferguson police chief quickly muddled the waters again with a red herring release of a robbery suspect who looks like Brown (despite admitting that the cop in question didn’t know Brown was a suspect, so why bring it up?)

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DNF Reviews

DNF reviews: Short reviews for books I didn’t finish.

An action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic debut thriller set in a world where the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. For fans of Moira Young’s Dust Lands series, La Femme Nikita, and the movie Hanna.

Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision.

The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?

Action-packed, blood-soaked, and chilling, this is a dark and compelling debut novel by Lindsay Cummings.

For me, my issue with The Murder Complex boiled down to the fact that I had no idea what was going on. While I appreciated the author’s attempt to stave off info-dumping, I felt completely adrift. What’s going on? Where are we? WHEN are we? What do all these nouns mean? What about trains? Look, if I don’t understand where each train leads and what happens to each one, I’m not going to care whether Meadow jumps on the right one. The world itself is very unfamiliar, despite being set in the Everglade (only a few hours from my house!), and the proper nouns run amok. Leeches, Sellouts, Pirates, Gravers, Wards, Langers—who are all these people, and how on earth am I supposed to remember their affiliations?

I love epic world-building, and I think I would have appreciated the depth and thought behind the world in The Murder Complex had it not lost me from the beginning. However, being utterly confused from the beginning does nothing to entice me to keep reading, so I chose to DNF and find a different world to occupy my mind.

Note: I received a review copy of this title from the publisher for review consideration.
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What’s your worst nightmare?

For Ivy Jensen, it’s the eyes of a killer that haunt her nights. For Parker Bradley, it’s bloodthirsty sea serpents that slither in his dreams.

And for seven essay contestants, it’s their worst nightmares that win them an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at director Justin Blake’s latest, confidential project. Ivy doesn’t even like scary movies, but she’s ready to face her real-world fears. Parker’s sympathetic words and perfect smile help keep her spirits up. . . at least for now.

Not everyone is so charming, though. Horror-film fanatic Garth Vader wants to stir up trouble. It’s bad enough he has to stay in the middle of nowhere with this group—the girl who locks herself in her room; the know-it-all roommate; “Mister Sensitive”; and the one who’s too cheery for her own good. Someone has to make things interesting.

Except, things are already a little weird. The hostess is a serial-killer look-alike, the dream-stealing Nightmare Elf is lurking about, and the seventh member of the group is missing.

By the time Ivy and Parker realize what’s really at stake, it’s too late to wake up and run.

Welcome to the Dark House‘s problem was with its characters. Ivy, the first character we meet, is tolerable if bland. Her parents were murdered when she was young, and the killer is still on the loose, so she enters the Nightmare Elf contest to overcome her fears. The other contestants enter for various reasons, but they are all, without fail, excruciating to follow. Do I want to tag along with the creep, the super-prep, the snob, the freaked out goth, or the scuzzbucket? I’LL TAKE “NONE OF THE ABOVE” FOR 500, ALEX. Each person came with their own half-alluded trauma, family, friends, and backstory, which meant hints and proper names out the wazoo. And since I loathed each of them enough not to care, I couldn’t keep track of anyone and would clamor to get out of a POV almost immediately after being thrust into another character.

In the end, boredom did me in. The setup was too hokey (words written in blood, a missing contestant, etc.) and the characters were too annoying for me to bother sticking around. I will, however, give the author props for the idea of the Nightmare Elf. I kept picturing the Elf on a Shelf in my head, which kept that particular creep factor alive. But as a whole, this book was a wash for me.

Note: I received a review copy of this title from the publisher for review consideration.

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

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Cover Love #67

CoverLove1

A girl with a clockwork heart must make every second count.

When Penny Farthing nearly dies, brilliant surgeon Calvin Warwick manages to implant a brass “Ticker” in her chest, transforming her into the first of the Augmented. But soon it’s discovered that Warwick killed dozens of people as he strove to perfect another improved Ticker for Penny, and he’s put on trial for mass murder.

On the last day of Warwick’s trial, the Farthings’ factory is bombed, Penny’s parents disappear, and Penny and her brother, Nic, receive a ransom note demanding all of their Augmentation research if they want to see their parents again. Is someone is trying to destroy the Farthings…or is the motive more sinister?

Desperate to reunite their family and rescue their research, Penny and her brother recruit fiery baker Violet Nesselrode, gentleman-about-town Sebastian Stirling, and Marcus Kingsley, a young army general who has his own reasons for wanting to lift the veil between this world and the next. Wagers are placed, friends are lost, romance stages an ambush, and time is running out for the girl with the clockwork heart.

The more I look at this cover, the more interesting I think it is. Obviously, the heart in the box (or is it on a card?) is the focal point. It’s in the center and oh so shiny. I like shiny. I also like that the heart is clearly the titular “ticker” not only because it’s a heart but also because it very well may literally tick since it’s a clockwork heart. I like clockwork things.

You know what else I like? The colors! I like that the colors go from bright (heart) to dark (girl) to bright again (background.) It makes the heart pop and will surely be visually appealing on a bookshelf. The color contrast also makes the girl seem dark and sinister and warns us “This is not an entirely happy book.”

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the key (con: it looks photoshopped; pro: KEY!), but I love the girl’s dress and gloves. I also think the background is visually interesting. Is it part of a clock? A diagram? Wallpaper? Who knows! I don’t care. It looks cool.

What do you think of this background?

 

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Happy Birthday To ME! Giveaway

Oh yeah, oh yeah, it’s my birthday, it’s my birthday (in a week and a half)! Maybe I’ll feel differently when I’m, like, sixty or something, but I LOVE birthdays! It’s one of the few times when I’m semi-comfortable being the center of attention, AND I get to pick out my birthday dinner, AND Mom makes homemade dessert, AND I get presents!

In order to ramp up the excitement, I do a giveaway every year around my birthday, and this year is no different. In fact, I’m going to steal a page right out of my sister’s playbook.

ENTER TO WIN: Either $10 from The Book Depository/Better World Books OR books from my Giveaway Box!

photo

  • Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
  • Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz (ARC)
  • Fairy Tale Comics ed. Chris Duffy
  • Koko Be Good by Jen Wang
  • The Cute Girl Network by Greg Means
  • This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki
  • Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone (UK cover)
  • A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier (ARC)
  • Perfect Lies by Kiersten White
  • Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne (ARC)
  • The Jewel and the Key by Louise Spiegler
  • Masquerade by Melissa de la Cruz
  • Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz
  • Alibi Junior High by Melissa de la Cruz
  • I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway ends when my birthday begins (August 22nd, aka THE BEST DAY EVER), so you’ll win something while I open my presents! :)

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Happy Birthday, Verity

It’s my favorite Scot’s birthday today, and I couldn’t let the day slip by without marking it. Below are a collection of graphics I made. (I know they’re shoddy. Don’t laugh.) They’ll be up on my Tumblr account as well, along with a few that were too spoilery to go up here. Happy birthday, Verity.

All quotes from Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.

Attribution for the background images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

 

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