Archive | April, 2013

Top 10 Tuesday: My Automatic Hooks

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Oooooh, this week was so hard for me. I feel like I have a million words and topics that will snag my interest in a book synopsis, which makes narrowing them down to ten difficult. However, I’ve realized in making this list that many of my hooks are very interconnected.

Attribution

Orphans
Examples: Oliver Twist, The False Prince, Shadow and Bone
Much is made of the inclination in YA and MG to kill off parents. While I’m not a fan of this trend in general (I think it’s lazy), I do enjoy a story with an honest-to-goodness orphan a la Oliver Twist. Give me fantasy orphanages! Give me angst! Give me life on the streets! I like the hard scrabble journeys of an orphan kid carving out their niche in the world around them. And also, orphans often interact with…

Attribution

Thieves
Examples: The Thief, The False Prince, Scarlet, Thief’s Covenant
I love thieves! Love them! I’d blame Megan Whalen Turner, but the title of The Thief is what attracted me to the book in the first place. I love thieves and their sneakiness and cleverness and potential moral crises. Unlike other criminals, thieves often have their own fascinating moral codes. Just look at Tamora Pierce’s various thieves. Love ’em!

Attribution

Disguises
Examples: Rowan Hood, Alanna, Seven Daughter and Seven Sons
Why don’t we have more books with disguises?! There are two subsets here that I adore. First, I love it when a girl disguises herself as a boy for various reasons. She’ll struggle through secrecy issues and relationship issues on top of whatever else is going on in the story, because you know at some point she’ll fall in love with someone who doesn’t know her true identity. It’s all so Mulan! The second subset is the Master of Disguise. Male or female, I love any character who can slip around unnoticed due to their sneaky ways with a makeup kit.

Attribution

Interplanetary travel
Examples: These Broken Stars, Across the Universe, Starglass
I don’t want Earthbound sci-fi. I want sci-fi IN SPAAAAAAAACE! I want to visit other planets and meet interesting species and be chased by critters! Tell me that we’re going to a new world, and I’m so there.

Attribution

Serial killers
Examples: I Hunt Killers, Project Cain, I Am Not A Serial Killer, Velveteen, The Name of the Star
Yes. Just… yes. Serial killers. They’re not awesome in real life, but in fiction they’re amazing.

Attribution

Fairy tale retellings
Examples: Beauty, Cinder, Entwined
I love fairy tales. I love retellings in general. Fairy tale retellings are the best. They take a tale nearly everyone is familiar with and turns it on its head. It could be that the tale is told from a different point of view, or is twisted to make the hero the villain and vice-versa, or is set in a different time or country.

Attribution

Assassins
Examples: Throne of Glass, Grave Mercy, Dark Triumph, Graceling
Even more than thieves, assassins make for AMAZING stories. By necessity, they must be even faster, stronger, sneakier, and deal with even more potent moral conundrums! Bonus points if poisons are strongly featured.

Spies/Con artists
Examples: Heist Society, Out of Sight, Out of Time, Also Known As
I stuck spies and con artists together because 1) I can’t go over 10, and 2) they’re often intertwined. Spies by nature of their work are often con artists, and con artists often spy on others as a way to learn more about their marks. I love the twistiness, the lies, the psychology, and the danger.

Attribution

Unreliable narrators
Examples: The Thief, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Code Name Verity, 17 & Gone
Okay, this one is totally on Megan Whalen Turner. Often, having an unreliable narrator is the only way for a book to truly surprise me with a twist. I’m too quick to guess what’s going on otherwise. Of course, a book won’t actually mention an unreliable narrator in the synopsis, but if I hear about one existing in a review, you better believe I’m going to go hunting for a copy of the book ASAP.

Attribution

Shapeshifter
Examples: Eragon, Tiger’s Curse, Sisters Red
Since I’m not a fan of the typical paranormal story, I haven’t read too many shapeshifter stories, but I like the idea in theory. Perhaps it’s because shapeshifters can be the most epic mish-mash of Master of Disguise and spy ever invented?

I can’t wait to read everyone’s lists, and I’m sure I’ll come across hooks that I’ll kick myself for not including on my own list. But I’d like to know, do any of my picks resonate with you?

22

Review: UNRAVEL ME by Tahereh Mafi

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She’s finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam’s life.

STOP. Below are spoilers for Shatter Me and Destroy Me. If you haven’t read either of these books, DO NOT CONTINUE. Go back, read the books, then read this review. Okay, now you may continue.

Wait, I lied. Before you continue, you need to know this as well. There are many glowing reviews of Unravel Me floating around in the blogosphere. This is not one of them. I had some major issues with this book, and I may be snarky in my explanations. If your blood pressure can’t handle it, walk away. However, if you can handle it, and you’d like to know of the many things I did like about this book, keep reading.

Unravel Me does several things very, very right, and it also does (in my opinion) several things very, very wrong.

RIGHT: Juliette’s regression.

I found Juliette’s regression in the beginning of the book to be completely fascinating. Though safe at Omega Point, the underground bunker’s constricting spaces remind her too much of the asylum. With her movements watched and restricted, she begins to feel claustrophobic and falls back on her old behaviors. Being free of one’s captors doesn’t mean immediate emotional and psychological release, as sufferers of PTSD can attest. I thought the fact that Juliette didn’t immediately turn into Wonder Woman after the close of Shatter Me was spot on.

WRONG: Juliette is a special snowflake.

But oh my gosh, did she have to be so emo!? Juliette whines constantly. She whines, she freaks out when people confront her, she apologizes what feels like every other page, and she stutters (often while apologizing!). Oh, and several times she declares that she should be dead or she should die or it’s her destiny to die. Kenji (we’ll get to him in a bit) does an excellent job of giving her a verbal slap to the face a couple times, but then she reverts back to her old ways.

Blow your nose, stop crying, stop running whenever you feel “overwhelmed,” stop assuming everyone hates you (how self-centered is that!), and stop. freaking. stuttering. I stopped counting how many times I read some variation of “I-I’m s-so sorry! I’m so s-sorry! Oh my gosh, I’m so…”

It’s funny, because Juliette displayed all of these behaviors (minus the stuttering) in Shatter Me, and it didn’t bother me. I guess I was expecting some kind of progress after however many hundreds of pages. I got so annoyed that I even made a list.

Juliette is only good for:
1. Being emo
2. Apologizing
3. Flushing/crying
4. Keeping secrets (that blow up in her face)
5. Causing trouble

Sigh.

RIGHT: Twists!

Holy guacamole. Ms. Mafi KILLS IT with the twists. I couldn’t stop reading. On every page, it felt like we were learning some new vital piece of information. Just when I thought I knew everything, THERE’S MORE! This right here is the reason most reviews won’t talk about the actual plot of Unravel Me. Too many twists! Well, not too many. There’s no such thing.

Look! I made you another list, this time of things we learn in Unravel Me. However, I only listed some of them. There are far, far more.

Things we learn:
Why Adam can touch Juliette
Why Warner can touch Juliette
How the special people’s powers work
How Juliette got her notebook
How Kenji met Castle and joined Omega Point
Warner’s first name(!)

Again, this is maybe only half the list. Be prepared to hyperventilate at least once during this book.

WRONG: Purple prose, so purple like the purple-y purple of the underside of a bruise…

Like Juliette’s behaviors, the purple prose in Unravel Me was just as present in Shatter Me, but it didn’t bother me there. In Unravel Me, I found myself skipping entire paragraphs of purple prose. I skimmed pages!  I never skim pages in review books, but I did here. I just didn’t care. There were plot twists to unravel and new information to discover. I didn’t have time to listen to Juliette describe the sun five different ways.

That said, the purple pose does hit the sweet spot a few times, as it does in this passage:

So I have to remember that Warner and I are 2 different words.

We are synonyms but not the same.

Synonyms know each other like old colleagues, like a set of friends who have seen the world together. They swap stories, reminisce about their origins and forget that though they are similar, they are entirely different, and though they share a certain set of attributes, one can never be the other. Because a quiet night is not the same as a silent one, a firm man is not the same as a steady one, and a bright light is not the same as a brilliant one because they wedge themselves into a sentence changes everything.

RIGHT: Kenji

Squee, Kenji! Like Roar in Through the Ever Night, Kenji went from being a (for me) forgettable character in the first book to a beloved friend in the second. Kenji is awesome. He puts Juliette in her place and snaps her out of her funk when no one else can or will. He’s funny and relaxed, but he’s also very responsible and incredibly smart. I went from thinking he was annoying to freaking out whenever anyone tried to harm a hair on his precious head. (But Kenji, if you could cool it with the profanities, I would appreciate it. Much love, bro.)

WRONG: Adam

Ugh, Adam. I was never a big fan of yours. I know you’re supposed to be this sensitive, kind, protective hunk of perfection, but I always found you pretty bland. I think the lack of James in this book hurt you, because that’s when you were the most interesting. You followed Juliette down the mopey emo path, and it was not pretty.

Clearly, not everyone will agree with me, but that’s how I feel. Also, I can’t say how without dipping my toe into spoilery waters, but at one point in my reading I stopped and wrote in my notes: ADAM = BELLA. And I laughed uproariously.

RIGHT: Warner

Okay, that’s so a lie.

Warneeeeeer! I know, I know, I’m biased, but I adored seeing more of my guy in this book. After reading Destroy Me, I wanted every page to be saturated with Warner. I didn’t get my wish, but you can bet I enjoyed every moment he had “on screen.”

I don’t remember who said it, but I was talking with Twitter friends and someone said that while Warner might not have atoned for his sins in Unravel Me, he certainly made strides toward redemption. [Whoever you are, I’m sorry I forgot! Wave your hand and I’ll give you credit.] We learn so much more about Warner, and I love him to pieces. To quote Molli Moran (@CourageousGrace), in Unravel Me, Warner and Juliette have proven to be much healthier and balanced together than clingy Adam and Juliette.

Also, HE HAS DIMPLES!

WRONG: Chapter Sixty-Two (and other similar passages).

Blasphemy, I know. 99% of you will adore the infamous Chapter Sixty-Two. I, however, found that chapter and similar “sexy” passages to be a little much. I felt voyeuristic! It made me uncomfortable. I prefer emotional connection, longing looks, and deep, heartfelt talks to romps in underwear. So maybe it’s not wrong and just… wrong for me.

RIGHT: That ending!

Yep, the ending is awesome. First of all, there’s quality Warner time that made me sigh and swoon. Forget Chapter Sixty-Two. I want his point of view for Chapters Sixty-Nine through Seventy-Three. Also, Juliette shows real strides toward ditching her fragile special snowflake persona. And lastly, the ending sets up some major drama in the next book. Like, I-don’t-think-Juliette-can-talk-her-way-out-of-this-one drama.

~~*~~
So here’s my heart in all this. I want you all to be prepared. I want you to take the wrongs and tuck them in your pocket or throw them away as you feel like it, but I want you to know they exist. That way when you read Unravel Me, you’ll be prepared. If you’re prepared, you’ll be able to enjoy the rights to their fullest potential.
Points Added For: Read the post.

Points Subtracted For: Read the post.

Good For Fans Of: Shatter Me, lots and lots of twists, whiny MCs, love triangles.

Notes For Parents: Language, death, heavy making out (but no actual sex)

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

12

Blogger Spotlight – Emily’s Reading Room

Good Friday to you all! It’s time for another Blogger Spotlight, where I introduce you to a blog that I adore in hopes that you will adore it as well. Today, our guest is Emily of Emily’s Reading Room.

Fast Facts!

Name: Emily’s Reading Room

Creator: Emily Ellsworth

Start Date: June 1, 2009

Number of GFC Followers: 1,351 (as of 4/20)

Post(s) That I Enjoyed: Her reviews are always excellent, but I also like her Blogger Confidential posts and her gorgeous Book Quote Printables.

~~*~~

Shelver: Hello! Would you please introduce yourself and your blog?

Emily: Hi! I’m Emily, the primary blogger behind Emily’s Reading Room (with the name, I guess it makes sense). I’m a 20-something, I love to read, and I enjoy talking about my reading. Emily’s Reading Room has been around since June 2009. I review primarily YA fiction, though I have recently got into a little bit of picture book spotlighting, and Kylie does quite a few middle grade reviews. So, we really try to cover the gambit of children’s fiction.

Shelver: Why did you decide to start a blog, and how did you find each of your contributors?

Emily: I started the blog in 2009 primarily as a way of keeping track of what I was reading. At the time I naively thought that I was the only one who had ever thought of doing a book blog. Silly, I know. But, after a few months I connected with a few other bloggers and really got into the community.

As far as contributors, Kylie and Anna Rose are college friends of mine. We kept in touch via Facebook and they expressed interest in doing some reviews for me. Anna Rose has a blog of her own that she does crafty and home decor stuff on. Kylie has a family blog that is hilarious. Both of them had similar writing styles as I do, and I really love when they do reviews. Andy is also a college friend, oddly enough, and an aspiring writer. I really need to get on him to do some more reviews though. He’s been slacking.

Shelver: Get on it, Andy!

What are your favorite genres?

Emily: If it’s YA, I’m open to it. Though I definitely have an affinity for high fantasy series. Fantasy, science fiction, and historical fiction are my favorites.

Shelver: High-five!

What are your least favorite genres?

Emily: I really don’t read anything paranormal anymore. I never got on the paranormal train, and I’m pretty much over it by now. I also used to say that contemporary stuff was a non starter. But, lately a few titles have surprised and impressed me, so it might be time to take it off the list.

Shelver: I adore your Blogger Confidential feature. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve read answers to one of the topics and been overwhelmed with relief that it’s not just me! How did you come up with the feature, and has there been a particular topic discussed that has helped you?

Emily: So, the feature is a kind of spin-off of Susan from Wastepaper Prose’s Author Insight series. I loved the idea of having a lot of bloggers all answer the same question. Especially since not everyone agrees all the time. But, I’m happy with the success that the feature has had. There have been a couple questions (like the one on plagiarism or blogger envy) that have helped me get a little perspective. There are so many different ways to blog, and it’s nice to have a diversity of opinion.

Shelver: Picture this: The world powers have convened and declared books in all forms to be illegal. You have fifteen seconds to hide your three favorite books. The rest will be seized and burned. Which three novels (books, not series) do you choose?

Emily:

  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
  • The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
  • The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima

Shelver: Haha, I think you’re the first person to give me a concise list with no grumbling about how sadistic I am! 

Anything else you’d like us to know about you or your blog?

Emily: I always love visitors! Come stop by!

Shelver: Yes, everyone! Please do! Thanks, Emily. 🙂

~~*~~

Fly! Fly, my pretties! Spread out across the interwebs and converge upon Emily’s Reading Room. It’s a very homey, comfortable place, and I think each of you will find something you enjoy, especially if your tastes are like mine.

In addition to her blog, you can follow Emily on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

2

Cover Love #27

Colette Iselin is excited to go to Paris on a class trip. She’ll get to soak up the beauty and culture, and maybe even learn something about her family’s French roots.

But a series of gruesome murders are taking place across the city, putting everyone on edge. And as she tours museums and palaces, Colette keeps seeing a strange vision: a pale woman in a ball gown and powdered wig, who looks suspiciously like Marie Antoinette.

Colette knows her popular, status-obsessed friends won’t believe her, so she seeks out the help of a charming French boy. Together, they uncover a shocking secret involving a dark, hidden history. When Colette realizes she herself may hold the key to the mystery, her own life is suddenly in danger . . .

Acclaimed author Katie Alender brings heart-stopping suspense to this story of revenge, betrayal, intrigue — and one killer queen.

Yet again, a cover completely wins me over. Yet again, a cover found via Cover Snark. Holla!

I know the cover is pretty gruesome, but look at all the pretty colors! It’s so bright and peppy, despite the subject matter. The pinks and blues and yellows are lovely, and her eyes pop magnificently. Also, the tagline makes me giggle.

I found the cover to be so enchanting that I saved it as to-read, though I was convinced for some reason that it was an adult book. (The synopsis wasn’t released yet.) Imagine my delight when I learned it was YA! Hooray! While the story sounds too Name of the Star for my taste, there’s no way I can pass up a book with such a cover.

What do you think of this cover? And what cover do you love this week?

3

Review: THE LOOP By Shandy Lawson

Ben and Maggie have met, fallen in love, and died together countless times. Over the course of two pivotal days—both the best and worst of their lives—they struggle again and again to resist the pull of fate and the force of time itself. With each failure, they return to the beginning of their end, a wild road trip that brings them to the scene of their own murders and into the hands of the man destined to kill them.

As time circles back on itself, events become more deeply ingrained, more inescapable for the two kids trapped inside the loop. The closer they come to breaking out, the tighter fate’s clutches seem to grip them. They devise a desperate plan to break free and survive the days ahead, but what if Ben and Maggie’s only shot at not dying is surviving apart?

I loved the concept of this story when I first stumbled across the synopsis. Two star-crossed lovers are stuck in a time loop that ends with them dying each time. It’s like a teenage Groundhog Day meets, I don’t know, a sanitized Bonnie and Clyde.

Sadly, I was not destined to love this book.

It wasn’t a bad book. In fact, I could conceivably see people thoroughly enjoying this book. The premise is certainly an intriguing one. Ben and Maggie are stuck in a time loop, one that lasts only a couple days and sends them through those same two days again and again. It starts when they meet and ends when they die, shot down by a homicidal thief. The loop has to be explained to Ben every time it starts over, since he loses his memory every time the loop resets, leaving him only with a strong sense of deja vu. Maggie, on the other hand, can remember some of the details, though not all. This is her fourth loop.

My main problem was I couldn’t make myself care. Seriously of the eight notes I made on this book, HALF of them were me repeating in some form how very little I cared:

No connection

Cool concept but just don’t care

DO. NOT. CARE.

Very forgettable

I never felt close to either Ben or Maggie. For all Ben spoke of his connection to Maggie, she was nothing more than an untouchable reflection to me. Ben himself also felt flat. There was little depth to either of them, as their entire state of being was confined to the loop. I didn’t care about Ben getting back to his life, because I didn’t know his life. I had no feel for what he had lost, so what did I care if he got it back? Even their leap into insta-love failed to get a rise out of me, despite Ben’s feeble insistence that it wasn’t insta-love because he had known Maggie for a bajillion loops. (Phooey, I say, since he couldn’t remember those loops.) Both characters felt like stick figures created to serve a plot that tickled the author’s fancy. Billy Murray they ain’t.

Part of the problem, I think, is how short the novel is. At 198 pages, it’s wafer-thin, at least compared to what I normally read. Through the course of the novel, Ben and Maggie make it through their loop a grand total of two times. Two, apparently, is few enough times that I don’t learn to care but enough times that I still feel bored. Not optimal, that.

I really have nothing else to say. The only other notes I have had to do with minor criticisms, such as Ben’s propensity to use text lingo in an email and his commenting on the swoosh sound a sent email makes as if it’s something new. Both incidents were unnecessary and annoying, but hardly a deal-breaker.

I’m hoping some of you will pick up the book in spite on my lackluster review and find elements that enchant and delight you. That’s the marvel of reading. My favorite book can be another’s least favorite and vice-versa. So check it out on your own and good luck. I, for one, will not be revisiting this particular loop in my life.

Points Added For: An interesting premise.

Points Subtracted For: Failing to make me care even slightly.

Good For Fans Of: Groundhog Day, short novels, star-crossed lovers.

Notes For Parents: Language, murder.

Note: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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

2

Top 10 Tuesday: Books I Thought I’d Like More/Less Than I Did

Hi all! Today’s Top 10 Tuesday topic are books that either disappointed us or thrilled us by failing to meet our expectations or riding high right over them. I have books that fit either way, so I split the difference and gathered up five of each.

Books that I enjoyed less than I anticipated:


Scorch by Gina Damico. I’m holding onto my review until later for this one, but I adored Croak, the first book in the series. Sadly, Scorch hit many of my peeve buttons, so much so that I doubt I’ll be finishing the series. Sad.

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne. Mehhhh. This was one of the first books I read as a blogger that genuinely disappointed me. It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t enjoy myself at all.

Origin by Jessica Khoury. Again, not a bad book, but I so badly wanted to enjoy this book. I follow the author on Twitter, and she’s an absolute delight. Sadly, liking the author doesn’t always translate to the book.

Poison by Bridget Zinn. I get grumpy just thinking about this one.

This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers. This one makes me grumpy, too. It was the first requested ARC that I ever received. I danced around the living room when I received it. But Ms. Summer’s style didn’t match my taste as a reader at all, so I passed it on to a friend who adored it.

Books that I enjoyed more than I anticipated:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. THIS BOOK. Oh my gosh. I read it because I had seen it on summer reading lists and expected another boring school book. Instead, I found a gorgeously written, heart-wrending tale that became one of my favorites of all time.

Bruised by Sarah Skilton. It’s a contemporary book. It’s an issue book. I loved it.

I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You by Ally Carter. I thought this book was fluffy and ridiculous when my sister suggested I read it. Instead, its fun adventure and characters enchanted me, and I have become an ardent fan of the series and the author.

The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett. I didn’t have high hopes for this book when I started it, but the fun plot and inventive take on mythology turned me right around!

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. Oh my gosh. I avoided this book because I didn’t like the cover. It’s now one of my favorites EVER.

Your turn! Tell me which books have made you sigh/squeal.

27

Review: REBOOT by Amy Tintera

Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation).

Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum.

The perfect soldier is done taking orders.

Oh guys, we have another pokeable book on our hands. I can’t settle on my final feelings for this book.

When I first started, I was excited and confused. The beginning is fantastic. How can I not like a book with the first line “They always screamed”? We’re immediately tossed into Wren’s world, a world where a virus causes humans (mostly children) to rise from the dead as Reboots, humanoid beings with extraordinary senses and ranges of emotions that depend on how long they were dead. As someone who had Rebooted after 178 minutes – a record – Wren is considered to be the least human and most perfect Reboot in existence.

However, much of the information comes out in jumbled pieces, hence my confusion. I couldn’t get a handle on Wren’s world at first. Reboots are clearly used as enforcers and foot soldiers, both the might and the fear the HARC (rulers of the United Cities of Texas) use to keep the populace in check. But it wasn’t until well into the book until I could clearly grasp whether the Reboots are viewed as prized specimens or as useful freaks. (It’s the latter, if you’re wondering.)

As the story went on, I managed to cobble together what I needed to know and quickly became interested in Wren’s story, especially as I realized what Ms. Tintera was trying to accomplish. Reboot, at its core, is a very exciting twist on a world that has been reordered after a zombie apocalypse, and its story is told by one of those zombies.

The structure of Reboots, both physically and socially, is fascinating. Any human that is infected by KDH (named after Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, where the virus originated) and dies will Reboot. Some infected die as a direct result of KDH, while others die in other ways (Wren was shot in the slums) and Reboot regardless. As someone who remained dead over 120 minutes, Wren is one of the elites and is used as both super-soldier and Reboot trainer, while her roommate Ever is an Under-60 and only good for manual labor and general soldiering. Even more interesting is how Ms. Tintera manages to work in the more rabid aspects of standard zombie lore, but I’ll leave that be for the sake of avoiding spoilers.

Opposite of Wren on the spectrum is Callum, a new recruit whom Wren decides to train. Awkward, gangly, overly friendly, and totally cute, Callum is a mere 22 – human bait in the eyes of other Reboots. At first I found Callum almost annoying in his stubborn insistence to remain upbeat. He refuses to fear Wren or any of the other Reboots and seems completely oblivious to the severity of his situation. However, as the story progressed, that dang boy grew on me to the point that I jokingly threatened to hunt down Ms. Tintera should anything happen to him. (He also made my Book Boyfriends list last week.)

A good deal of the ticking clock mechanism Ms. Tintera uses to fuel the intensity of the plot centers around Callum, so I found myself engaged and invested. Unfortunately, I never connected to the book. I suspect this failing is tied to three factors. First, I never connected to Wren. While I appreciated the visual of a teeny blonde girl being the most feared individual in a warehouse of super-soldiers, I never got the swagger from her that I wanted. Also, Wren never connected with herself, so, as my narrator, how could she hope to connect with me?

Second, I didn’t buy in to the key difficulty of the Reboots at all. The big sticking point with Reboots is supposed to be their lack of emotion. Supposedly, Reboots are cold, empty, subhuman creatures. Given that this is a dystopian tale, we may eye this “truth” suspiciously from the very beginning. However, there should be some element of truth to explain why all the humans so readily believed it even during the initial outbreak of the virus.

From what I could tell, Wren supposes herself to be without emotion because she doesn’t outwardly express emotion. As a 22, Callum smiles, laughs, tells jokes, frowns, etc.; therefore, he feels emotion. Wren does not exhibit these behaviors; therefore, she feels nothing. And yet, from the very beginning, Wren describes the emotions she’s feeling. She is irritated by humans when they scream; she sometimes feels guilt when dispatching a criminal; she is confused by Callum; she is embarrassed by his attentions. Though not smiles and giggles, these are nevertheless feelings.

Look. He’s not smiling. He must be an emotionless Reboot.

I felt as though I were reading an extrovert’s guide to introverts. The world is set up where those who display overt emotions – extroverts – are the default, the most human. Those who are more inhibited – introverts – are at first viewed as cold, robotic subhumans. Then, over the course of time, the good humans are slowly shown that the poor, quiet freaks are not bad, just different. Perhaps this is oversimplifying the book or portraying it in a false light, but that’s how it felt to me. While a naturally gregarious person might have be snookered in to Wren’s growth, I found myself crying foul from the very beginning. If I’m to realistically believe that what the characters believe, even if only for a moment, then the setup has to be credulous. Had Reboot actually shown Wren’s change and growth from emotionless Reboot to a nearly human, emotional being (a la Warm Bodies), I would have been interested. But nothing in Wren supported the premise I had been promised (or thought I had been promised).

Lastly, there were just some beyond stupid moments in this book. For instance, at one point Wren learns of a super-secret Reboot camp that the HARC have been trying to destroy. She doesn’t learn of this super-secret place through spying or any such thing. No, a captured rebel talks about it with his fellow (undercover) rebel right in front of her. Maybe it’s just me, but if I were a rebel, I wouldn’t be divulging my side’s secrets right in front of the most prized, supposedly least human Reboot in the entire world. But hey, that’s just me.

You know what’s also just me? If I were faced with a ticking clock that demands a sense of urgency and haste, I probably wouldn’t pick the middle of my desperate dash for freedom to engage in sexytimes with my love interest. I was talking about this particular point with two other bloggers (Gillian and Molli), and we all agreed that ill-timed makeout sessions are extremely annoying. If every second counts and even the smallest delay could result in death, why would it be okay to stop for no good reason and start kissing? If you have energy to kiss, you have energy to run! Also, and this is the big thing, it completely ruins both the pacing and the mood for the reader. As a reader, I can’t be in the middle of RUN FOR YOUR LIIIIIVES mode and then switch to ha-cha-cha mode and believably still hold onto the sense of tension.

I’m all…
And they’re all…
So I’m all…

The last big stupid moment was the ending. I was beyond disappointed with the ending. The story was set up for Ms. Tintera to do something totally cool and even tragic at the end. Instead of a metaphorical explosion, everything fizzled. The big action scene was over and done within a few pages. The ticking clock stopped with little-to-no to-do. La-la, skip and a jump, and we’re set up with a small scene that leads into the sequel. Rather than leave me gasping for breath and begging for more, the ending left me shrugging.

Do you all see my difficulty? I wanted to love this book. I’ve lusted after it for months. It has a great premise, and I adore the romantic interest. On the other hand, I didn’t connect with the protagonist, the premise ended up not being super-convincing, and I rolled my eyes on several occasions. It’s bad to make me roll my eyes.

While I would like to shout my love to the heavens, I must instead settle with a half-shrug and a nod of my head. I will most likely check out the inevitable sequel, and I do think Reboot will appeal to certain readers. I encourage you all to check it out and decide for yourselves.

Favorite (Non-Spoilery) Quote:

“Forgive me?” he asked as he put his fists in position. His eyes were big and round, like a puppy begging for a treat.

Yes,” I said with a laugh.

“Do it again,” he said, bouncing up and down in happiness.

“Do what?”

“Laugh.”

“Make you a deal. If you’re able to punch me, I’ll laugh.

“You’re so weird.”

Points Added For: Callum, Ever (oh, how I love you Ever), a great take on zombies.

Points Subtracted For: Not living up to potential, bobbling the premise concerning emotions, a dud of an ending.

Good For Fans Of: Non-traditional zombies, kick-butt chicks, viruses.

Notes For Parents: Language, violence, making out.

Note: I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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

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Interview With Sarah Skilton, Author of BRUISED

Today on the blog we have a very special guest. Ms. Sarah Skilton is the author of Bruised, possibly the only “issue” contemporary book in recent memory that has completely enchanted me. I wrote a gushing review about it a few months ago and then immediately sat down to request an interview.

What a fantastic book, you guys. Check out the synopsis below and then dive into the interview!

When Imogen, a sixteen-year-old black belt in Tae Kwon Do, freezes during a holdup at a local diner, the gunman is shot and killed by the police, and she blames herself for his death. Before the shooting, she believed that her black belt made her stronger than everyone else — more responsible, more capable. But now her sense of self has been challenged and she must rebuild her life, a process that includes redefining her relationship with her family and navigating first love with the boy who was at the diner with her during the shootout.

With action, romance, and a complex heroine, Bruised introduces a vibrant new voice to the young adult world — full of dark humor and hard truths.

Shelver: Hi! Welcome to Bookshelvers Anonymous, and thanks for joining us. In addition to your name, what are three things you’d like my readers to know about you?

Sarah: Thank you for having me! I’m delighted that you enjoyed Bruised and I really appreciate this interview.

Three Things to Know:

1. Just like my main character, Imogen, I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago.
2. I have a weakness for pistachios.
3. I’ve got a second book coming out called High and Dry (Amulet Books, 2014). It’s a mystery featuring a boy who plays high school soccer, and it takes place in a California desert town.

Shelver: Oooh, more sports, and this time with a mystery! Exciting!

As I’ve told you before, I’m not a big contemporary fan, but I adored Bruised! Such an awesome book! If you had to pitch your book first to a contemporary fan and then to a non-contemporary fan, what would you say?

Sarah: Here’s my attempt at double indemnity: My goal was to write about a modern-day teenager with relateable problems (average grades; living in the shadow of her older brother; issues with family and friends) who was also “otherworldly” in the sense that she’s done something most 16-year-olds haven’t: earned her black belt in Tae Kwon Do. So, I’m hoping both contemporary fans and non-contemporary fans will find something that appeals to them in that set-up. I also thought it was worthwhile to provide readers with a glimpse of real martial arts training, as opposed to the fantasy-style superheroes everyone usually sees.

Shelver: That all makes complete sense. I personally did enjoy getting a more realistic, non-Karate Kid-ish look at martial arts.

I’m a big fan of names, and I always wonder what the decision-making process was like when it comes to naming characters. How did you name your characters? Was there any hidden meaning behind any of them? (Confession: Whenever I read Imogen’s name, I saw the picture book Imogene’s Antlers in my head, which made me very happy.)

Sarah: Imogen was named after the singer Imogen Heap, even though Imogen doesn’t listen to that kind of music (she prefers Bloc Party). She’s also named Imogen because the crux of the book is that her image of herself is shattered. Hunter’s name is obvious — he’s a lady killer (albeit a nice one, which kind of makes him more dangerous, yes?) Imogen’s best friend Shelly is kind of fragile, like a shell, but also strong and secure and whole, like a perfect egg. I love the look of Imogene’s Antlers, by the way!

Shelver: Thanks! It’s a Shelver family classic.

According to your bio, you’ve studied two different forms of martial arts, Tae Kwan Do and Hap Ki Do. I think most of us have heard of the first, but what exactly is the difference between the two?

Sarah: Roughly translated, Tae Kwon Do means “the way of foot and hand” (i.e. kicking and punching). At my school, we studied traditional TKD twice a week, and Hap Ki Do twice a week, with Fridays reserved for sparring class. Hap Ki Do included joint locks and “weapons” like wooden swords and nunchuks, as well as tumbling. I also recall learning pressure points during the Hap Ki Do days. There’s a particular part of the wrist that hurts like crazy when it’s flicked. In fact, some of the HKD techniques were easier for women to use, because having smaller fingers was a benefit for precise wrist flicks, etc.

Shelver: If you landed in the same situation as Imogen [being trapped in a robbery scenario with a crazed gunman], what do you think you would do?

Sarah: I would run or hide, because that’s the best chance of getting out alive. I’d like to think I could prevent deaths if possible, but I don’t KNOW that I could. I don’t believe any of us know what we’d do until we’re in a situation.

Shelver: Last question. I’m trying to keep this short, but I just have to know. Your husband’s a magician (which is AWESOME). Can you do any magic tricks?

Sarah: Not even “where’s your thumb?” for my toddler, haha. Sadly, I’m not the best audience anymore because I’ve seen so much magic from Joe‘s shows and his friends’ shows that I have theories about how tricks are done, whereas before I was 100% mesmerized and flummoxed. I’m not saying my theories are correct, but I have them. 🙂

~~*~~
Thanks for stopping by, Sarah! As for the rest of you, what are you waiting for? Find Bruised at your local bookstore or library to learn more about Imogen and her story. Also, you can learn more about Ms. Skilton at her website or follow her on Twitter
Ms. Sarah’s very nice, as you can see, so be sure to say hi. I also have a few brand-spankin’ new Bruised bookmarks beggin’ to be given away, so I’ll give some away to the first five commenters to say they want one.
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Wishlist Wednesday #26

Hosted by Pen to Paper

It almost makes me sad sometimes how any wonderful books there are out there in the world, because I know I’ll never be able to read them all. I can’t even read all the books coming out this year. But then I wave my hands dismissively, because HOLY COW BOOKS ARE AMAZING! This week’s pick is a perfect case in point.

Knox was born into one of the City’s wealthiest families. A Patron, he has everything a boy could possibly want—the latest tech, the coolest clothes, and a Proxy to take all his punishments. When Knox breaks a vase, Syd is beaten. When Knox plays a practical joke, Syd is forced to haul rocks. And when Knox crashes a car, killing one of his friends, Syd is branded and sentenced to death.

Syd is a Proxy. His life is not his own.

Then again, neither is Knox’s. Knox and Syd have more in common than either would guess. So when Knox and Syd realize that the only way to beat the system is to save each other, they flee. Yet Knox’s father is no ordinary Patron, and Syd is no ordinary Proxy. The ensuing cross-country chase will uncover a secret society of rebels, test both boys’ resolve, and shine a blinding light onto a world of those who owe and those who pay. Some debts, it turns out, cannot be repaid.

This is like… like the sci-fi version of The Whipping Boy! I only saw that movie once and only vaguely remember liking it, but still. My relationship-dynamic-driven girl brain is going haywire. CLEARLY there is bound to be major amounts of resentment between the two boys. Syd is a slave, forced to take Knox’s punishments no matter what. Knox is a reckless brat who likely doesn’t even think of Syd as a person. But now they’re forced to work together and care for each other.

I LOVE watching two people go from hating each other to willing to die for each other. Bromance, you guys!

Your turn! What are you wishing for this Wednesday?

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Top 10 Tuesday: REWIND (My Book Boyfriends)

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Eeeeee! I’ve been waiting for this topic for MONTHS! I had to skip it last week because of the Attack of the Assassins! blog tour, but now I’m ready to go. I usually try to stick to the required ten picks, but not this week. I just can’t.

Here are my book boyfriends, organized into appropriate subcategories:

The Hearty, Young Blokes:

  • Roar from the Never Sky series
  • Perry from the Never Sky series 

Series face-off winner: Roar. He’s funny and so freaking sweet.

  • Beast from the His Fair Assassin series
  • Duval from the His Fair Assassin series
Series face-off winner: Beast. He was my guy even in the first book.
  • Chaol from the Throne of Glass series
  • Sam from the Throne of Glass novellas
Series face-off winner: SAM. As much as I love Chaol, there’s no contest.

  • Michael Moscowitz from The Princess Diaries series
  • John Paul Reynolds Abernathy IV from The Princess Diaries series

Series face-off winner: I’m only on book 7, and in this book, JP puts up a great fight, but I’ve been assured Michael will win my heart in the end.

  • Hale from the Heist Society series
  • Mal from the Grisha series
  • Peeta from The Hunger Games series
  • Gilbert Blythe from the Anne of Green Gables series
  • Jamie from Code Name Verity
  • Rhys from Two Princesses of Bamarre
  • Nawat from the Daughter of the Lioness series
  • Rue from Arclight
  • Callum from Reboot
  • Hector from the Fire and Thorns series (my #1 out of this entire list, if you were wondering)

The Older (Yet No Less Attractive) Men:

  • Marcus O’Malley from The O’Malleys series
  • Jack O’Malley from The O’Malleys series
Series face-off winner: No idea. I’ve spent almost ten years going back and forth.
  • Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice
  • Mr. Thornton from North and South
  • Dyfed Brougham from the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman series
  • Aragorn son of Arathorn from The Lord of the Rings
  • Captain Wentworth from Persuasion
  • Tarzan from the Tarzan series

I also have to give out shout-outs to two separate groups, who, for reasons soon to be clear, are not able to be my book boyfriends:

Attribution

Shout-out to the Too-Young-To-Be-Crushed-Upon-But-Sweet-Nonetheless Boys:

  • Soap from Etiquette & Espionage
  • Rudy Steiner from The Book Thief (excuse me, I have something in my eye…)
  • Joe from the Mandie series (my first book crush)

Attribution

Shout-out to The Bad Boys:

  • Warner from the Shatter Me series
  • Morpheus from the Splintered series
  • Eugenides from The Queen’s Thief series (SO AWESOME, but liars drive me nuts in real life)
  • Jack Dandy from The Steampunk Chronicles
Yeah, nowhere near ten picks. Still, I hope you enjoyed my picks. Chime in below with your thoughts!
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