#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):

no interest in reading


fantasy not eurocentric

ocean's 11:leverage


lady police force

robin hood female

reverse conn yankee

drive-in movie theater

pretend psychic

P&P Anne

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.


Cover Love #52


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.


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.

Continue Reading →


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 →


Review: THE WINNER’S CURSE by Marie Rutkoski

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love  

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.  

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. 

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

I don’t know how many of you have experienced this, but for me it’s very hard to review a hyped book a half-step after everyone else. No matter how much I like it, I have a hard time mustering my enthusiasm, because 1) no book could ever reach the levels of hype set by others, and 2) I feel like everyone’s already said everything that could possibly be said. However, as a reviewer, it’s my responsibility to review the copies I’m given, and I did like The Winner’s Curse. A lot. Continue Reading →


Rewind & Review (45)

Rewind and review

Whoops! I completely forgot to do an R&R last week, so this week’s in a double-stuffed edition.

Blog Posts You May Have Missed

  • Review: High & Dry by Sarah Skilton
  • april 2014 New Releases
  • BEA Tips (Part Two) – NYC and Sightseeing
  • Cover Love #50
  • The Blogging Unicorn and the Prisoner of Azkaban: A Harry Potter Newbie Visits Hogwarts
  • Plus One Blog Tour w/Elizabeth Fama + GIVEAWAY <– Giveaway is still open!
  • Review: Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano
  • Top 10 Tuesday – Most Unique Books I’ve Read
  • #RBWL III: Return of the Wishlist
  • Cover Love #51
  • DNF Reviews: Going Over and The Wicked We Have Done

It looks so much more impressive when I squish two weeks together. Be sure it check out that giveaway and the #RBWL information in particular.

Stuff I Received

  • Unremembered by Jessica Brody (from Macmillan)
  • Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne (from Disney Hyperion via NetGalley)

Thanks to Macmillan and D*H!

Books I Read

  • Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian by Rick Riordan – Listening to the audiobook right now and I’m SO TENSE. Best book in the series so far.
  • Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman – Meh. It got better at the end. Review to come.
  • Talker 25 by Joshua McCune – Started out good but then EW NO. Review to come.
  • Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers – Started rereading the series and tweeting my thoughts under the #HisFairAssassinReread hashtag. Tons of fun!
  • Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers – Definitely loved it even more the second time around.
  • Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers – I read a pre-ARC draft, so it’s awesome being able to compare the two. (By the way, this one is the best in the entire series.)


In the early 1980s Ada and Stefan are young, would-be lovers living on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall–Ada lives with her mother and grandmother and paints graffiti on the Wall, and Stefan lives with his grandmother in the East and dreams of escaping to the West.

It’s very sad when I can’t get into highly anticipated book. The 80s was barely before my time and so fell into that odd black hole where it’s too recent to be “history” in school but too far away for me to know anything about it, so I’m always interested when it comes up in fiction. Also, two young lovers kept apart by the Berlin Wall? YES.

Sadly, I stopped less than 100 pages in. I had such a hard time with the prose. It tries hard to be pretty, and at times succeeds, but too often it felt like it was trying too hard. Instead of setting a mood or informing me about anything, the prose seemed intent on drowning me in a tidal wave of purple. If half or even a fourth of the different metaphors and symbolisms had been cut out, it would have been a much happier book. Also, I think there should be some rule about using an unexplained metaphor multiple times in a chapter. What the heck does a “parade of a bike” even mean, and why must I be hammered with it over and over?

What really broke me, though, was the absolute lack of interest I felt in the romance between Ada and Stefan. The book alternates between Ada’s first-person POV and Stefan’s second-person POV. NO. I loathe second-person POVs. LOATHE. They just don’t work for me. I spend the entire time arguing with the narrator. “You love everything about her.” SAYS WHO?! This is the same reason I argue with songs on the radio a lot.



And then I turn it off. Much like I did this book.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Note: I received a review copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Evalyn Ibarra never expected to be an accused killer and experimental prison test subject. A year ago, she was a normal college student. Now she’s been sentenced to a month in the compass room—an advanced prison obstacle course designed by the government to execute justice. 

If she survives, the world will know she’s innocent.

Locked up with nine notorious and potentially psychotic criminals, Evalyn must fight the prison and dismantle her past to stay alive. But the system prized for accuracy appears to be killing at random.

She doesn’t plan on making friends.

She doesn’t plan on falling in love, either.

Okay, this one was totally my fault. I was lured in by the promise of psychopaths, even though I knew trusting it outside of the limits of YA was a risk. In YA, writers are only allowed to do things to a point. It’s like the difference between a PG-13 and an R movie. The PG-13 is allowed to do things that a G movie can’t, and can still be just as deep, insightful, and exciting as an R movie, but with less of the yuck. This book was just too much for me. The premise remains fascinating, but I could have done without the language and sexual content.

Note: I received a review copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Cover Love #51

Cover Love

It’s tough to be thirteen, especially when somebody’s trying to kill you.

Not that Egg’s life was ever easy, growing up on sweaty, pirate-infested Deadweather Island with no company except an incompetent tutor and a pair of unusually violent siblings who hate his guts.

But when Egg’s father hustles their family off on a mysterious errand to fabulously wealthy Sunrise Island, then disappears with the siblings in a freak accident, Egg finds himself a long-term guest at the mansion of the glamorous Pembroke family and their beautiful, sharp-tongued daughter Millicent. Finally, life seems perfect.

Until someone tries to throw him off a cliff.

Suddenly, Egg’s running for his life in a bewildering world of cutthroat pirates, villainous businessmen, and strange Native legends. The only people who can help him sort out the mystery of why he’s been marked for death are Millicent and a one-handed, possibly deranged cabin boy.

Come along for the ride. You’ll be glad you did.

You know, some days it’s a little vexing how much cooler MG titles can be than YA. Of course, there are some incredible YA covers out there, but I’m hard-pressed to think of any as cool as the one above. I love illustrated covers. They allow such scope for the imagination, even when they’re crazy-detailed like this one. Just look at the detail! The wrinkles in the children’s clothing, the architecture of the house, the white caps of the waves—it’s all spectacular!

We know at a glance that there will be adventure (on a hot air balloon!) and danger (with pirates and lightning!) and whimsy (with a funny-looking bird!) Based on the clothing, this book is set somewhere in the (make-believe) past and most likely has something to do with that creepy house on the cliff.

Gosh, just writing this post has made me excited to read this book.

What about you guys? What do you think of this cover? Have you read the book? Did you like it?


#RBWL III: Return of the Wishlist

RBWL copy

Chime the gongs and rev up your Tweetdeck, because #RBWL is back in town! It’s been six months since our last round of #RBWL in October, and it’s time to get those wishes flowing.

In case you missed out on the fun last time, let me break down what’s going to happen in five days.

What’s #RBWL, Shae?

#RBWL is a hashtag that stands for Reader/Blogger Wishlist. It’s a way for readers on Twitter to discuss what they want to see in their books.

What’s the point? 

Well, it’s cathartic, first of all. People ask for things they can’t get enough of, or things they haven’t seen at all. Finding other people that want the same thing is a relief. Hooray, you’re not crazy! Second, even if there are other people who want the same thing, chances are they can think of at least one book that already matches what you’re asking for, so they can give you a place to start reading. And third, we’re hoping that if we make enough of a fuss, agents, editors, and other publishing folks will sit up and listen.

When is it?

RBWL is coming back April 14th at 12 PM EST/9 AM PST, so mark your calendars and set your alarms!

How do I participate? 

Go on Twitter at the time and date mentioned above and tweet what you, as a reader, are wishing for. Be sure to add the hashtag #RBWL at the end so others can see it, too! And be sure to tell your friends, because the more people we have, the more fun it will be!

I think I need an example.

#RBWL example 1

Example 1

See? Nothing too fancy. Your wishes can be genre- or age-specific or just a general wish. They can be about different kinds of tropes, stories, plot twists, formats, narrative styles, settings, you name it! If you want it, you can tweet it.

Is this just a YA thing?

Nope. We heard this one a lot last year, but #RBWL is for ALL readers. It tends to swing toward the YA end of the spectrum just because a lot of us who participate are YA bloggers, but we’ve had wishes for YA, adult lit, MG lit, NA lit, and even picture books! Again, tweet what you want, and if you feel that your age category or genre is underrepresented, then pull some like-minded friends to tweet their wishes as well!

I’m a writer/editor/agent/other professional person. May I participate, too?

Absolutely! All readers are welcome. We do ask, however, that you refrain from spam-promoting the thread. That would look something like this:

Example 2

Example 2

This is not okay. You may, however, suggest books you know to specific tweets just like everyone else. That would look something like this:

Example 3

Example 3

Just use common sense. If you’re a nuisance, you’ll turn people off, not only on your book but also on you. If you have any questions, just ask. I’ll be bumming around the hashtag all day if anyone has any concerns. And, of course, you’re more than welcome to add wishlist items if your own!

What if I can’t think of anything to wish for?

Believe me, you will. But if, for some reason, your brain juices stop flowing, explore the hashtag and see what other people are wishing for. Odds are you’ll see something that you agree with or makes you think of something else you’ve been hungering for. You can also check out the #RBWL archives to see what people have wished for in past sessions.

So there you have it. If you have any more questions, tweet me, email me, or drop me a line in the comments. And please feel free to blog, tweet, Tumbl, pin, text, or skywrite the news to get the word out!

Twitter. #RBWL hashtag. April 14th at 12 PM EST/9 AM PST. Be there.





Top 10 Tuesday – Most Unique Books I’ve Read

Once again, a big thank you to the girls at The Broke and The Bookish for picking a freaking hard topic! I can think of so many good books off the top of my head, but unique books? Books that make me think, “Hmm, haven’t read anything like THAT before?” That’s a little harder. In the spirit of the topic, I made sure I didn’t feature a retelling of any sort, which made the list that much more difficult. I like retellings. Continue Reading →


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