Archive | July, 2012

My Six-Month Blogoversary, Complete With Recap!

Used with permission, from the book
“Happy Birthday Kansas!”

Well, you guys, we made it. Six months ago, I hung up my shingle as Shelver of Bookshelvers Anonymous. Six months and three days, technically, because I started on January 28. But now I’m just being pedantic.

Six months! PAR-TAY!

I know everyone else did their lists for the first half of the year last month, but I decided to wait until now to give you my list. Of course, this’ll make me short in December, but that’s okay. Anyways, let’s get to the lists. I love lists. They take the happy experiences of life and order and quantify them! … I probably lost some of you there, but believe me, lists are cool. (Like bowties. Bowties are cool.)

In the last six months…

Well, a lot of things have happened. The following is going to seem pretty stat-heavy, but I love stats! It makes everything seem more manageable. (For more of that, see my Make A List post.)

– I’ve posted 82 times. Eighty-two! That might not seem like a lot to you more experienced bloggers, but that feels like an awful lot to me.

– Of those posts, 25 were reviews, 8 were Wishlist Wednesday posts, 7 were Cover Love posts, 5 were interviews/guest posts, 4 were giveaways, and 31 were “other.”

– My three most popular posts to date have been:

– Of the reviews I’ve posted, the most well-represented genres have been contemporary, historical, fantasy, and dystopian. All four are neck and neck, which is surprising, because I don’t consider myself much of a contemporary fan. Then again, most of the contemporaries are also labeled under apocalyptic, hijinks (hi, Gallagher Girls!), or modern-day retellings. Only a few are straight, Sarah Dessen-type contemporary.

Stars for everyone! Okay, not really.

– All in all, I gave (or will give, if I haven’t posted reviews yet) 6 books five-star reviews on Goodreads. I’ll post more on this in the future, but for me, five stars doesn’t always mean the book is the best technically speaking, but rather that the stories have burrowed so deeply inside of me that you’ll have to pry the books from my cold, dead fingers.

– 3 others didn’t earn five stars, but have elbowed their way up in my estimation the more I’ve thought about them.

– With all that in mind, my top 10 books thus far in alphabetical order are:

– I also have a few honorable mentions that just barely scooched out of the top ten:

  • Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  • Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter (this was strictly a fun-for-me read, not meant for review, and boy was it fun!)
  • Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
  • Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

– On the downside, I did end up marking 4 books as Did Not Finish (DNF), and 7 others made me really, really cranky. No, I won’t name them.

– On the plus side, I’ve gotten to read a bunch of really, really cool books! I don’t do the different “what I’ve gotten this week” memes, so I decided to do one big six-month wrap-up. I think that those who have been generous with me deserve another round of thanks.

Given:

Won:

  • Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson ARC (from HarperTeen)
  • Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy (from Dot Hutchinson)
  • Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers ARC (from a really cool blog – but I forget which!)
  • Pinch Hit by Tim Green (from Mr. Green via Goodreads)

Bought:

  • Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
  • Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
  • The Thief’s Covenant by Ari Marmell
  • A complete collection of Grimm’s fairy tales
  • SuperFreakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner (Yes, that’s how I roll)
Most of all, I want to thank all of you. You all have supported me, answered my pesky questions, and brought up some interesting queries of your own, making this blog much better than I could have made it by myself. Here’s hoping the rest of 2012 will be just as amazing.
Okay, okay, enough mushiness. Time for a comment section free-for-all! Is there anything I didn’t mention that you’d like to know? Is there a topic you’d like me to write a post on (or just answer in the comments)? Is there a certain kind of post you’d like to see more of? Is there something I’m not doing that you’d like to see changed?
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Review: HEIST SOCIETY by Ally Carter

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat’s friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat’s father isn’t just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it’s a spectacularly impossible job? She’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family’s history–and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

I don’t know whether you all remember, but a few weeks ago ago, I went on vacation. It was a lovely vacation brimming over with books. Seriously, look at my post from before I left. I brought a LOT of books. I had no idea how many I was going to get to read or what order I would read them in, but I DID know that I wanted to read Heist Society first, and I’m so very glad I did.

Heist Society is the ideal summer read. It’s light-hearted and fun with just enough banter and action to keep the reader entertained. Oh, and the boys are super-cute.
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Don’t Mess With A Lady Thief – My Interview With AC Gaughen, Author Of SCARLET (+ Giveaway!)

Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.

It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

This is my last scheduled Summer Reading List interview. In case you all don’t remember, I complained a while back about my store’s appalling summer reading shelf. With your help, I offered an alternative, and Scarlet by AC Gaughen was part of that alternative.

Really, what’s not to love? Ms. Gaughen takes the beloved Robin Hood tale and completely turns it on its ear with the help of the spirited Scarlet. This is another book that I hype every chance I get. My review is here, but before you wander off to look, take a look at what Ms. Gaughen has to say about her tale. (Oh, and did I mention there’s a giveaway, too?)

~~*~~
Shelver: Forgive the ignorant American here, but you live in Scotland, right? Is Robin Hood as big of a deal in Scotland as he is in England and America?
 
AC Gaughen: Actually no–I’m a born and bred Boston girl, but I did live in Scotland for a few years. It’s an unbelievable country–and yes, they love Robin Hood there! Not as much as William Wallace, though. They even have a Mel Gibson inspired statue at Stirling.

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Wishlist Wednesday #8

Totally the property of Pen to Paper

Huzzah for Wishlist Wednesday! I’m afraid I’m not very original this week. I picked a book that has me doing anxious little dances in my living room every time someone mentions it, but I’m not the only one. Everyone is talking about this book, which means a lot of little dances from me.

And I know it’s the wrong tale, but just looking at this book makes me want to sing, “Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf, the Big Bad Wolf, the Big Bad Wolf…”
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Review: THE FALSE PRINCE by Jennifer A. Nielsen

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point — he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

A big thing for me as a blogger is to be objective in my reviews. I don’t want to careen wildly to one side or the other. If I like or don’t like a review, I’ll say so, but I try to keep my reasons balanced and fair.

I can’t do that with this book. Some people may not agree with my reasoning. They may read my review and feel underwhelmed or just not get it at all.

But here’s the honest-to-goodness, completely biased truth: I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK.
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Cover Love #7

Pretties! Pretties! Come see the pretties!

Actually, this week is a bit of departure, because I don’t normally highlight sequels. I mean, drooling over covers is great, but what good is it if you haven’t read the first book, right? I’d highlight the book before the one I’m about to show you, but the cover’s not very good? But the one below? PRETTY!

The humans are weak and vulnerable. Soon the beasts that share their stone-age world will kill and eat them. To save his tribe, Stopmouth must make his way to the Roof, the mysterious hi-tech world above the surface. But the Roof has its own problems. The nano technology that controls everything from the environment to the human body is collapsing. A virus has already destroyed the Upstairs, sending millions of refugees to seek shelter below. And now a rebellion against the Commission, organized by the fanatical Religious, is about to break. Hunted by the Commission’s Elite Agents through the overcrowded, decaying city of the future, Stopmouth must succeed in a hunt of his own: to find the secret power hidden in the Roof’s computerized brain, and return to his people before it is too late. Peadar O Guilin has followed his extraordinary debut The Inferior with an equally original and pulse-racing sequel in which human primitivism collides with futuristic technology.

Isn’t that just melt-your-face-off awesome? The cover just screams futuristic. The walls are covered in what looks like near-obsolete neon signs written in an unknown language. (My brain says Chinese, but who knows.)

It’s all darkness and claustrophobia except for the light at the far end. The escape! The shadowy figure looks like he’s running for his life. Actually, he probably is – who knows what’s in the darkness. What we do know is that to get to that light, he has to pass an unceasing line of people.

We can tell they’re people, but that’s about all we can tell. They line in walls, hidden in the shadows. Unlike the figure, who is sprinting for freedom, they remain where they are, slumped and defeated.

Futuristic? Flight for survival? Impending doom with one chance for escape? Yes, please!

Now I just have to find (and read) the first book.

What do you think of this cover? Have you read The Deserter (or the first book, The Inferior)? What cover has you itching with excitement this week?

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My Killer Interview With Robin LaFevers, Author Of GRAVE MERCY

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

One month ago, I complained about the absolutely awful summer reading shelf at my store. One week after that, I offered my own suggestions with some heavy input from you all. We ended up with a pretty awesome shelf, in my opinion. One of the books that I advocated was Grave Mercy, a wickedly awesome novel about a nun assassin. That’s right, a nun assassin. With a crossbow.

Grave Mercy is one of my favorite books of 2012. Heck, it’s one of my favorite books ever. I handsell it every chance I get at my store. You can read why in my review, but I shall simply repeat two words – nun assassins. And add a few more – Duvall, one of the swooniest heroes ever.

In order to further hype this book that I LOVE, I invited its author, Ms. Robin LaFevers, by for an interview.

~~*~~

Shelver: You’ve mentioned before how you were taught in a Catholic school and how you came across Duchess Anne’s story in your research, but what’s the very first thing that brought Ismae’s story into your head? At what point did you see an image or read a snippet and go, “Hmm, that’s interesting. Someone should write a story about that.”?
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Review: THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

You know, one of these days I’m going to sit down and read a book that doesn’t completely trample my expectations into the dust. I mean, seriously, what the heck, Carson?!

Really, I don’t think it’s my fault on this one. There’s no way the description above could have prepared me for what I was getting into. And that’s okay, because it was kind of fun to watch my expectations shatter into teeny, tiny pieces. I’d come to expect, without realizing it, certain elements from my fantasy books, and Ms. Carson booted some of the big ones out the door without hesitation.

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V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N Recap

Downtown Columbus

I went on vacation last week, and it was glorious. So glorious that I just had to tell you all about it. I don’t know if that makes me narcissistic – it’s not entirely book-related, just me-related – but I gotta tell someone!

It was a great week. I didn’t get to sleep in very much (I was sharing a room with family, and they had to leave earlier than I wanted to get up), but I did spend all week relaxing. I painted my nails, I sat in the sun (at least, when it wasn’t storming), I watched some Big Bang Theory, and I read. Oh boy, did I!

Here’s my week by the numbers…

  • Mornings I slept in: 2, which is just sad.
  • New restaurants/types of food I tried: 9. We were very deliberate and didn’t eat anywhere we could visit at home.
    • 3 Italian places (Donato’s Pizza, Spaghetti Warehouse, Late Night Pizza)
    • 2 general food places (Ryan’s and Culver’s)
    • 2 “exotic places” (BD’s Mongolian Barbeque and a Greek gyro place)
    • 2 dessert places (Tim Horton’s and Jeni’s)
    • Things I bought: 9
Click to enlarge

  • Things I bought: 9
    • 8 comic books
    • 1 t-shirt (from Cedar Point)
  • Things I lost: 1 Swiss Army knife (from Switzerland!) that I left in my carry-on by mistake. Now I’ll just have to go back to Switzerland and get another one. Oh darn.
  • Bookstores I visited: 1. It’s called The Book Loft. 2 floors, 32 rooms of sheer awesomeness. Soft classical or folk music playing in each room. A minimum of 5% discount on every single book. There’s also a cute garden out back with a friendly black cat. I nearly quit my job and offered my services on the spot. 

  • Roller coasters I rode: 3-ish. Yes, after all that hype, I only went on three rides, which was really only two because I went on one ride twice. I took motion sickness pills to be safe (stupid inner ear), and the pills must’ve not agreed with me, because I nearly passed out waiting in line for Millenium Force. So all day, I only went on…
    • 1 time on The Raptor.
    • 2 times on Top Thrill Dragster, which was totally worth it, because that’s the ride where you got 0 to 120 MPH in 3.8 seconds, shoot up a 420-foot hill, and take a 270-degree twist going up AND going down. It’s been years since I was terrified of a ride, but I was terrified of that one. It was awesome.
“Nationwide is on your siiide.”
  • Times my sister sang the Nationwide jingle: 1,000 (or thereabouts). The national headquarters were right across from our hotel, and she was compelled to sing the jingle every time she saw the building. Every. Single. Time.
  • Posts I wrote: 8
    • 5 reviews (only Tiger Lily is up; the rest will come in time)
    • 2 meme posts
    • 1 giveaway

  • Books I read: 8.5 (finished the ninth once I got home)
    • 1 ARC (Tiger Lily)
    • 5 contemporaries (Along for the Ride, Girl, Stolen, I Hunt Killers, Heist Society, Miracle)
    • 2 fantasies (The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Aurelia)
    • 1 historical fairy tale retelling (Merchant’s Daughter)
    • 5 I didn’t get to read but plan to in the next few weeks (Ender’s Game, The Lion Hunter, Steel, Dead to You, A Breath of Eyre)
    • 3 books I really enjoyed
    • 2 books I thought were okay
    • 2 that were “meh”
    • 1 that I really didn’t like (you can find out which one that one is on Goodreads)
Well, that was my week by the numbers! Thus ends my narcissistic ramble. I suppose I should put some kind of discussion prompt, but I’m not sure what to say. So… What have you all been up to? Anything you want to know about my week? Aren’t my comic books pretty? Have you entered to WIN my copy of Tiger Lily?
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Wishlist Wednesday #7

Totally the property of Pen To Paper

You all may think I’m silly (or find me annoying, since I mention this every week), but I want to twirl every time I sit down to write a Wishlist Wednesday post. People rag on books all the time as a dying art form, moan about the dumbing down of America, blah blah blah.

Pffffth to all of you, I say. How can I be gloomy when so many good books are being written and published? How?! I mean, just thinking about the book I’m highlighting this week makes me happy. It’s such an original concept and reminds me of a Doctor Who episode, which is always a bonus.

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books. 

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often-violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive. 

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

Gotta admit, I’m not a fan of the cover, but there was no way I was leaving this book off my to-read list once I read the description.

Just look at that opening sentence. A place where the dead rest on shelves like books. I don’t know what that would look like physically (are they in jars? little, glowing Tessaract-like cubes?), but I choose to picture them literally on shelves, tucked in drawers like in a morgue but with drawers that are made of oak and mahogany and sport delicate carving and are gilded with gold filigree on the handles. There would be spiderwebs, maybe, and deep, dark shadows, and lights overhead that flicker from time to time, and thick, plush red carpet that silences footsteps.

All that from one stinkin’ sentence. Talk about reeling a reader in!

I love books. I also love reading about dead people. Not ghosts and all that nonsense, but actual dead people. I also love thinking about their stories, the things they must’ve lived through, things I can’t even imagine. Then here comes this book and it’s like the author is saying, “Here you go, Shelver! Merry Christmas!”

Then you add in the Scottish undertones (Da and Mac? C’mon), a girl turned ruthless by her fear, and a labyrinthine library of things that can come alive and kill you a la Pagemaster...

I’m in. I am SO in.

What do you think of The Archived? What would be your choice for Wishlist Wednesday? And if you’ve seen Pagemaster also, please tell me. I love that movie.

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