Review: SCORCH by Gina Damico

Sixteen-year-old Lex Bartleby is a teenage grim reaper with the bizarre ability to damn souls. That makes her pretty scary, even to fellow Grims. But after inadvertently transferring her ability to Zara, a murderous outlaw, Lex is a pariah in Croak, the little town she calls home.

To escape the townspeople’s wrath, she and her friends embark on a wild road trip to DeMyse. Though this sparkling desert oasis is full of luxuries and amusements, it feels like a prison to Lex. Her best chance at escape would be to stop Zara once and for all—but how can she do that from DeMyse, where the Grims seem mysteriously oblivious to Zara’s killing spree?

Note: This review was written over a year ago. I am posting it just as it was written then, though I hope to someday revisit Scorch and change my own opinion.

Scorch picks up right where Croak left off. After her sister’s death, Lex travels back to Croak with Uncle Mort, though they stop along the way to pick up new recruits. It’s her first time back in town since everything went down with Zara, and she’s nervous that the townspeople might reject her. Rightly so, it appears. Lex, Mort, and the two recruits, Pip and Bang, roll into town right in the middle of Norwood and Eloise’s secret meeting, held for the express purpose of tainting the people of Croak against Lex, Uncle Mort, and the other Juniors.

Stressful, yes? Stressful doesn’t even begin to cover what goes down in Croak when Zara Crashes in and kills a citizen completely untouched by Mort’s security system. After that, Ms. Damico keeps throwing the punches with twist after twist.

Ugh. Just… uggggh. I loved Croak. Nay, I adored it. It was funny and unique and exciting without being the least bit overwhelming. Scorch made me want to crawl under my bed.
Continue Reading →

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Cover Love #53

CoverLove1

Expelled from yet another boarding school for hacking, sixteen-year-old Rebecca “Bec” Jackson is shipped off to Rome to intern for Parker Phillips, the editor-in-chief of one of the world’s top fashion magazines. But when a mysterious accident lands Parker in a coma, former supermodel and notorious drama queen Candace Worthington takes the reins of the magazine. The First Lady is in Rome for a cover shoot, and all hands are on deck to make sure her visit goes smoothly.

Bec quickly realizes that Parker’s “accident” may not have been quite so accidental, and when the First Lady’s life is threatened, Bec is determined to uncover the truth. On top of that, Bec must contend with bitchy models, her new boss, Candace, who is just as difficult as the tabloids say, and two guys, a hunky Italian bike messenger with a thousand-watt smile and a fashion blogger with a razor-sharp wit, who are both vying for her heart.

Can Bec catch the person who’s after the First Lady, solve the mystery of Parker’s accident, and juggle two cute boys at the same time? Blonde Ops is a fun, action-packed romp through the hallways of a fashion magazine and the cobblestone streets of Rome.

Once again, I have to thank Christina and Cover Snark for keeping in the cover loop, because this book comes out next month and I’m not exactly sure how it slipped past me. And that would have been a tragedy, because LOOK AT THE CUTENESS! I don’t even know where to start.

How about the colors? The red of those heels, the pop of yellow from the cute little motorbike-scooter thing, the black and white stripes on the dress, the cool grey stone beneath her feet, and the fresh green awaiting her are all perfect. It looks warm but not hot, just cool enough to be refreshing without being chilly, like… well, like a dip in the Mediterranean. And isn’t it interesting how Italian (or at least how European) this cover comes off without falling into stereotypes? My my. Also, a round of applause for how cute her clothes are. It makes the cover visually appealing in addition to giving off the proper “fashion blogger” vibe. Then round it all off with the crosshairs “O” to signify danger and spies, and voila!

Perfect cover!

What do YOU think of this cover? Have you read the book yet? Is it as cute inside as it is on the outside? 

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Visiting Friends

I have discovered a quirk in myself. Not that finding a quirk is in any way surprising, as I have several, but this particular quirk is amusing to me. When I go to a bookstore or library, I need to make sure the location’s collection is curated properly. After all, why would I waste my time in a place that doesn’t know middle grade from young adult? In the case of bookstores, things such as prices and the helpfulness of the staff come into play as well, but for libraries and bookstores alike, I always have to check that it stocks specific books.

This rule applies to both new locations and home favorites. I worked at Books-A-Million for over a year and still visit on a semi-regular basis. This store is a known entity. I have been over every inch of it, and I know the people who run it. It’s a good store. But literally every time I visit my old bookstore (or any bookstore) or drop by the library, I have to make sure my favorites are there. My favorite books are like the literary canaries in a coal mine. Their presence proves that those in charge, at the very least, know what’s important. If they’re missing, something is wrong. Even if they’re missing only because stock is running low, I’m uneasy. What if someone comes in and wants that book? They’re too good to be withheld. GET THE BOOKS!

To be a passable store or library, the location in question must have at least one copy of The Thief (Megan Whalen Turner), Grave Mercy (Robin LaFevers), and Code Name Verity (Elizabeth Wein). Sadly, it is a rare breed of place that will have the entire series of anything, much less all three authors, so I generally settle for seeing the first book in each series. I know that if they have the first book, new readers will get hooked and request the rest. I don’t know what I would do if I entered a library or store to find one of my required books missing, as all the places I frequent have excellent taste. (Actually, when I worked at BAM, the MWT selection was piddly, so I would “order” two or three copies of The Queen of Attolia and then put them on the shelves to make sure that those looking for a new read could get both The Thief and QoA together. But I don’t know what I would do now.)

To truly win my love and devotion, I also require proof of the other books in each series, as well as Ms. Robin’s middle grade books, Ms. Elizabeth’s Lion Hunters series, a healthy Agatha Christie collection, at least two different Tamora Pierce series, The Hunger Games, comic strip collections in something other than Garfield and Peanuts, and a robust crime section (preferably with titles on crime scenes, serial killers, and criminal psychology rather than lurid “true crime” tales.)

I kid you not. Last time I visited a new library, I even tweeted pictures.

That is a picture of excellence, my friends.

So what about you? Do you have stocking requirements for bookstores and libraries? Any particular “friends” you look for when you visit?

 

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Top 10 Tuesday – Characters I Want To Protect

Today’s prompt from the girls at TBatB is “Top 10 Characters Who X” with “X” being whatever we wanted. I decided to make “X” be character I want to protect. Be honest, I’m not the only one who feels the urge to wade into the middle of a story to guard the back of some sweet character. Whether it’s because they’re being picked on, because they get a bad deal in the end, because one horrible thing comes along and knocks them over, or just because they have a rough life, here are some character (not ten) that I want to save. Continue Reading →

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Review: MERIDIAN by Josin McQuein

Marina thought that she had solved all of the Arclight’s mysteries. She had found her own history—that she was one of the Fade, that she never should have been human. She knows that the Fade who surround the Arclight don’t want to be the humans’ enemies at all. She knows that the leader of those inside the Arc, Honoria Whit, never told the whole truth.

But there is so much more that Marina is just discovering. There are more survivors out there. Only Marina—and her friends, all of whom have connections to the Fade they’d never known about—can lead her people to them. But there are also darker dangers, things that even the Fade fear. And Marina slowly realizes she may never have been “cured,” after all. The sequel to Arclight,

Meridian is an intense, action-packed page-turner about the lines we draw between right and wrong, light and dark . . . and the way nothing is ever that black and white.

Well… this was a thing. It was… it was a story-shaped thing, to be sure. It had all my favorite characters from the previous book, more tension, and more spookies. Huzzah! And yet I’m not 100% sure what happened. [Note: As this is a review for a sequel, within the review may contain spoilers for the previous book.] Continue Reading →

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Rewind & Review (46)

Rewind and review

 

Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Ah, another lovely week. I especially like how well-received this last BEA Tips post was. Remember, you can ask questions via email or in the comments!

Stuff I Won

  • Searching for Sky by Jillian Cantor (from the author)

Stuff I Read

  • Sleep No More by Aprilynne Pike – Interesting. Still mulling. Review to come.
  • Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian by Rick Riordan – Finally finished! Oh my word, best of the entire series. Can’t wait to move on to the next series!
  • Insomnia by J.R. Johansson – A reread in prep for Paranoia.
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – Listening to the audiobook, and it has to be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. Ever. Also, when I finish, this will be my 50th book read this year, if you include DNFs!

Happy Easter, everyone!

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#RBWL Spring 2014 Recap

RBWL copy

Whew! #RBWL was this Monday, and it always takes a few days for everything to settle again. This round of #RBWL was smaller than the last one, but you all were no less enthusiastic. The hashtag party started at 12 noon EST as planned and ran strong until late that afternoon (somewhere between 4 to 6 PM EST, by my estimates). However, #RBWL is a wonderful hashtag in that people often use it even outside the party times, so wishes are still popping up. There were new faces this round, too, which is always gratifying to see.

Below are some of my personal favorite wishes (outside of my own, of course):

drive-in movie theater fantasy not eurocentric lady police force no interest in reading pirates1

P&P Anne ocean's 11:leverage supernatural1

Jess and I are still (very slowly) adding tweets to the RBWL Archives, so be sure to follow to see all of the wishes from the various parties. I love going back through the records, because I often come across quality wishes that I missed in the madness of the moment.

Another thing I really liked about this week’s round was how many people waded in to throw out some recommendations. The thing about hungering after a specific kind of book is that we will continue to hunger no matter how many books are written to fill that gap. However, it’s nice to have a recommendation to chew on until the publishing world gets the wish-granting factory up and running.

Some of the recs I received:

Me: Old West, please! (My own rec being The Goldscryer Saga by Rae Carson.)

@gildedspine: Erin Bowman’s Vengeance Road! (Comes out Fall 2015.)

Me: Middle Eastern lit! (My own rec being Seven Daughters and Seven Sons by Barbara Cohen and Baija Lovejoy.)

@mizgillianberry: The Fire Wish by Amber Lough! (Comes out July 2014.)

@gildedspine: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh (out 2015) and An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (out 2015)!

Me: Missing famous people in history!

@nilaffle: The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb (already out)!

Me: African fantasy!

@EWein2412: My own series (already out) and The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer (already out)!

Me: Girls who like STEM subjects! (My own rec being Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano.)

@MissDahlELama: The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Levitt (out May 2014)!

Me: Teens with weird jobs!

@asherlockwrites: Dream Factory by Brad Barker and Heather Hepler (already out)!

Me: Viking mythology!

@JenEllision: Loki’s Wolves by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr (already out)!

Me: Anne de Bourgh living life post-Pride and Prejudice!

@writer_nicole: Darcy and Anne by Judith Brocklehurst (already out)!

Me: Scarlet Pimpernel retelling! (My own rec being Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund.)

@morganameridius: Rook by Sharon Cameron (out May 2014!)

Me: Old West steampunk!

@JulieHeartBooks: Machine and the Wild by Michelle Modesto (out 2016)!

Me: Sneakytimes!

@MissDahlELama: The Circle of Twelve by Maggie Hall (out 2015)!

@MaryElMcCoy: Blonde Ops by Charlotte Benardo (out May 2014)!

Me: Graffiti artists!

@NikGodwin: Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley (already out)!

Me: Stories underwater! 

@asherlockwrites: Water by Kara Dalkey (already out)!

Thank you all for your fantastic recommendations! Now for one last bit of housekeeping. I’d like to keep #RBWL going for a long while, but I want to be sure that I’m doing things that keep all of you engaged and happy. With that in mind, I would appreciate it if you all would fill out this survey. (If you have more extensive comments that don’t fit in the survey box, feel free to put them below.)

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

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Cover Love #52

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The football field is a battlefield

 There’s an extraordinary price for victory at Oregrove High. It is paid on – and off – the football field. And it claims its victims without mercy – including the most innocent bystanders. 

When a violent, steroid-infused, ever-escalating prank war has devastating consequences, an unlikely friendship between a talented but emotionally damaged fullback and a promising gymnast might hold the key to a school’s salvation.

Told in alternating voices and with unapologetic truth, Leverage illuminates the fierce loyalty, flawed justice, and hard-won optimism of two young athletes.

Man. So few designers really embrace white space on covers, but when they do, WOW. This cover will jump right off the shelves. The brightness of the white catches my eye first. Then that arm. It looks like an athlete’s arm, but the bulging veins and muscles combined with that fist allude to violence. Nothing about this promises a happy book.

I love it. The imagery is so stark and visceral, and it fits the description so well. Bravo, Dutton Juvenile, BRAVO.

What do you think of this cover? Have you read the book? Does it measure up?

*Note: Don’t know if you noticed, but I changed the Cover Love button, but only temporarily. The old girl needs to go, but the hearts are placeholders until I find something I like.

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BEA Tips (Part Three) – Battling BEA Overload

Woot woot! BEA is creeping ever closer. Excitement is brewing. Maybe you’re the type to just ride the wave – no hints, no spoilers, no planning ahead. And that’s awesome. You ride that wave. Get on with your bad self!

But maybe you’re the type who likes to have some idea of what you’re getting into. You might not want every step planned out, but some tips from Someone Who Knows might be nice. Then this series is for you. I’ve already covered some of the basics like alternatives to BEA, which badge to get, how to get cheap airfare, where to stay, how to find a roommate, how to travel around NYC, what to see, and where to eat. That sounds like a lot, but it’s only two posts, and they’re easy reads, I promise. Today I’d like to tackle BEA itself, specifically how to plan for the madness that is BookExpo America so that it doesn’t swallow you whole.

Let me start off by saying that you might not want to reach my level of neurotic preparation. That’s okay. When I went to BEA last year, I approached my plans like a general drawing battlefield strategies. This was my dream come true, AND I WAS GOING TO SQUEEZE EVERY LAST DROP OF FUN FROM ITS RIND, DAGNABIT! So what I’ll do today is show you how I planned and then you can adapt the format to fit your own level of control-freakery.

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Top 10 Tuesday – Non-Book Bookish Things I Want

This is a week where I’m really more interested to see other people’s lists than make one of my own. I see so many cool things I want, but I can’t get them, so I forget about them. Curse my transient memory! I’m sure I’ll see things on other lists that I want much more than some of the ones on this list, but here are some bookish things I know I want. Continue Reading →

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