Archive | November, 2013

Review: PALACE OF SPIES by Sarah Zettel

A warning to all young ladies of delicate breeding who wish to embark upon lives of adventure: Don’t.

Sixteen-year-old Peggy is a well-bred orphan who is coerced into posing as a lady in waiting at the palace of King George I. Life is grand, until Peggy starts to suspect that the girl she’s impersonating might have been murdered. Unless Peggy can discover the truth, she might be doomed to the same terrible fate. But in a court of shadows and intrigue, anyone could be a spy—perhaps even the handsome young artist with whom Peggy is falling in love…

Never has such a good book been so poorly served by its cover. It’s ugly and ridiculous, and I hate it. The reason I start this review with such vitriol is that everyone I spoke to while reading Palace of Spies mentioned how hesitant the cover made them feel, because, like it or not, we do judge books by their covers. Stupid, exasperating covers often equals stupid, exasperating books. I think it’s important to acknowledge this expectation, because it will NOT hold true for this book. Palace of Spies was an absolute delight! Continue Reading →

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Top 10 Tuesday: Things I’m Thankful For

Okay, confession time. Serious posts make me uncomfortable. I don’t mind them from other people, but I have a hard time writing them myself. Even my discussion posts that involve serious, ranty topics are easier to write because I slip some sarcasm or jokes in there. Who doesn’t like jokes?

Anyways, no jokes this time.

My family – I’d put up a picture if I thought they wouldn’t mind. I have a great family. There are six of us altogether with two parents and four kids. There are days I’m not fond of them, but all in all, they’re a good group.

My internships – I went from hunting in vain for even one internship to juggling two, and it’s AMAZING. Both allow me different peeks into the publishing process, and I’m learning so much.

My college roommates and I

My college roommates and I

My friends – Though I’ve lived in the same town all my life, I was pretty short on friends at the beginning of the year. After collecting an awesome group of pals in college, it was disappointing to return to my hometown and feel like I had nothing in common with anyone. Well, this year not only do I have my amazing connections from college, but I also have a nice little core group of peers from church, thanks to the local small group. I even have a movie buddy!

My blog – Duh. As much as I’m enjoying my ongoing semi-hiatus, I also love my blog. I love being able to talk with you all, and I’m so thankful for the different doors writing here as opened for me.

My bloggy friends – YOU GUYS! You guys are the best. As one bloggy friend put it on Twitter, it’s nice to know people who are just as insane as I am, especially about all the best things.

My job – I may not be fond of the day-to-day grind, but I’m thankful that I’m able to work and earn money toward my goals.

My books – Does this really need explaining?

My God – My God is cool, guys. He’s the reason I have everything else I listed and then some. It’s nice to know that there’s someone who will love you no matter what and always have your back.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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The Blogging Unicorn Shares Her Knowledge: A Harry Potter Newbie Visits Hogwarts, pt. 2

As I fully explained yesterday, I have never read Harry Potter, but I plan to rectify that situation this week. Over my little Thanksgiving holiday, I will read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for the first time ever and blog about it. Then I will read the rest of the books as I can fit them into my schedule, but make no mistake – I WILL read them.

Before I dive in, however, I think I should lay the foundation for my reading by explaining what all I have learned about the books over the years. Thanks to the internet (especially Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest), most of the “big” twists have been spoiled for me, but there are many things I don’t quite understand.

I’m placing my thoughts below the jump-break, because, no matter how laughable it seems to you all, my existence as a blogging unicorn proves there ARE still some people out there who would consider the following information legitimate spoilers. So proceed with caution. (That means you Margot!) Continue Reading →

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How the Unicorn of the Blogging World Sheds Her Glitter: A Harry Potter Newbie Visits Hogwarts

There is a fact about me that I have made no secret of in my time blogging, a fact that has horrified many a good-hearted reader. I, Shae of Shae Has Left The Room, have never read Harry Potter. I have not read any of the books, I have never seen the movies, nothing. I call myself the unicorn of the blogging world.

And I’m fabulous!

When I was younger, I wasn’t allowed. When I grew older, I refused. I hate jumping in mid-trend, and the more people pushed me to read the books, the less I wanted to. I’m horrifically stubborn that way. Even as a blogger, nothing could persuade me to read about Harry and his friends. I had a feeling I’d like the books, but I didn’t have the time nor the inclination. I always half-joked that if anyone bothered to give me the books, I’d read them, but otherwise I wouldn’t bother. Even the fact that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a mere 2.5 hours away wasn’t enough to entice me.

Brandy of Random Musings of a Bibliophile called my bluff. She had recently purchased the new HP paperbacks and sent the old copies of the first two books my way. Then I won the third book from Gillian of Writer of Wrongs. And THEN Dot of Scattered Pages and I found the entire hardcover set at a sale for $35. I was well and truly trapped.

So guess what, guys? This week I’m going to start. My plan is to read the first book (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) over my little Thanksgiving break and then journey on through the rest as I can squeeze them in between review books. And I’m not doing it alone! The lovely Margot of The Real Fauxtographer (who you may also recognize as half of the Epic Reads duo) will be reading the series as well! I was scared to start, so I love the idea of having a fellow unicorn journey with me, especially one as well-read as Margot.

I also plan to blog about the experience as best I can. I’m still on semi-hiatus, but tomorrow I’ll lay out exactly what I already know about the series, and then hopefully later in the week or early next week I’ll be able to give my impressions of the first book. And please, feel free to read along with me, but no spoilers!

… I have no idea how to sign this thing off. *mutters random Latin* *waves stick haphazardly*

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Review: ETIQUETTE & ESPIONAGE by Gail Carriger

Sophronia Temminnick at 14 is a great trial more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners — and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Her poor mother, desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady, enrolls the lively tomboy in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.
But young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage — in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education.

Note: I wrote this review almost exactly one year ago and never got around to posting it. Better late than never, right?

When I first started Etiquette & Espionage, I expected some quirky steampunk fun with a bit of an edge. I also expected to make myself cranky over how often I misspelled the word “etiquette.” I was half right for half of the time. Continue Reading →

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Review: THESE BROKEN STARS by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

It’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

Let’s cut to the chase. I see no point in being unnecessarily coy. These Broken Stars was ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2013. If I hadn’t already read Rose Under Fire, it would easily be THE BEST without contest. I literally haven’t been able to finish this review for weeks because I don’t know how to do it without sounding like I’m foaming at the mouth. These Broken Stars was everything I wanted AND THEN SOME.

Okay okay okay, I’m sure you’re super-excited now and want to know what exactly pushed me into such an ecstatic frenzy. Let me tell you! Continue Reading →

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Review: THE NATURALS by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides— especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own.

Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

Sometimes, I can be unbelievably cynical. For instance, while I do give some weight to recommendations from authors, when I know the two authors are friends, I tend to scoff. I mean, honestly, what are they going to say? “This is my best friend, and she wrote a book. It’s crap, but I love her, so you should read it!”? No. So when Ally Carter came to my town and gushed over her BFF Jennifer Lynn Barnes’s new book, I took note, but skeptically.

Boy, am I an idiot. The Naturals was so good that I didn’t take a single note while reading. Not one! I was too hungry to get to the next page. Notes?

The bad news is that I have no notes, which means this review is going to be really short and gushy. Here are a few important things you need to know about The Naturals: Continue Reading →

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Taking A Break (Sort Of)

This January will be my two-year blogoversary. In those two years, I have taken exactly one break, which was this May for BEA. I don’t really count it, since I was away on blog business. Well, I plan on taking one now.

Frankly, November is a crazy month. I still work full-time (three 12-hour shifts a week), I’m still interning at a lit agency (lots of reading), I’m still assisting Robin LaFevers (tons of fun with more fun to come), I’m still working through my review pile (growing by the day), and now I’ve added two more things to my plate. I’m doing NaNoWriMo (not very well, but whatever), and I’m volunteering as the executive assistant for my church’s Christmas play (I get to boss people; it’s exciting).

If I really, really pushed, I could make it all work. I could read less, write more mini-reviews, cut out chill time, sleep less, and get really snippy with my family. But I don’t want to. Blogging is supposed to be fun. I don’t want to kill myself cranking out five or six posts a week, even if some of them are just memes. Everything that I’m doing this month is important to me, and while that doesn’t make blogging any less important, it’s also more acceptable to me to put that on hold, especially since I’ve been going pretty strong for the last two years.

So here’s the game plan. NaNoWriMo ends in just a couple week. My play is the weekend of December 14th. So by mid-December, two big commitments will be over. Until then, this blog is going on a semi-break. I say “semi” because I’m giving myself room for flexibility. If A Top Ten Tuesday topic comes up that I want to do, I’ll do it. If I read a great book that I want to review RIGHT THIS SECOND, I will. But I’m not going to worry about discussion posts. I’m not going to worry about Wishlist Wednesday or Cover Love or Rewind & Review. I’m not even going to worry about reviews. The reviews that I’ve promised will get written, but I may not have one every week. Or maybe I’ll have multiple reviews in a week. It’s up to me. I’ll still be on social media (though maybe not as much), and I’ll do my best to still check up on other blogs, but I refuse to stress about it.

Thank you guys for understanding. I’ll see you in a few weeks!

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Cover Love #41

Cover Love

When having two powers makes you a Super and having none makes you a Normal, having only one makes you a sad half-superpowered freak.

It makes you a One.

Sixteen-year-old Merrin Grey would love to be able to fly – too bad all she can do is hover.

If she could just land an internship at the Biotech Hub, she might finally figure out how to fix herself. She busts her butt in AP Chem and salivates over the Hub’s research on the manifestation of superpowers, all in hopes of boosting her chances.

Then she meets Elias VanDyne, another One, and all her carefully crafted plans fly out the window. Literally. When the two of them touch, their Ones combine to make them fly, and when they’re not soaring over the Nebraska cornfields, they’re busy falling for each other.

Merrin’s mad chemistry skills land her a spot on the Hub’s internship short list, but as she gets closer to the life she always wanted, she discovers that the Hub’s purpose is more sinister than it has always seemed. Now it’s up to her to decide if it’s more important to fly solo, or to save everything – and everyone – she loves.

I almost didn’t even bother to put the synopsis for the first book here, because the important thing is how these two covers look together. I’ve heard not-so-great things about the first book, but these covers keep tempting me. I love how light and airy and hopeful the first cover is. It’s a beautiful cover, and I appreciate how the suggestion of wings is given but also the suggestion of science rather than fantasy or paranormality.

And then the second cover goes creepily dark. The boy’s face is shadowed by the hoodie, his expression is nowhere near as peaceful as the girl’s, and he appears to be poised for battle. And check out that busted ceiling.

Tell me, what do you think of these covers? And what do you think of the books inside?

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Top 10 Tuesday: Sequels I Can’t Wait To Get My Hands On

What a list I have for you all today! There are SO many good current series, and the majority of them have sequels coming out in 2014. I’ve tried to be selective in my list (it was so hard!), and I’ve left out several greatly anticipated sequels because I already have the ARCs on my shelf (Lady Thief by A.C. Gaughen, Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger, Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi).

Game by Barry Lyga – already out; haven’t read it, but want to badly!

The Unbound by Victoria Schwab – dead people and Wesley!

Rise and Ruin by Leigh Bardugo – so scared to read this one

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi – this Warner/Adam thing need to get settled once and for all

Starbound #2 by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner – LOVED the first; can’t wait for the companion

Raven Cycle #3 by Maggie Stiefvater – GANSEEEEEEEEY!

Unhinged by A.G. Howard – And Morpheus <3

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley – More Flavia, please

The Nightmare Dilemma by Mindee Arnett – Time for more fun at the academy!

Meridian by Josin McQuein – Very curious to see what more could be told of the story

Rebel by Amy Tintera – I’ll take more Callum any day

The Queen’s Thief #5 by Megan Whalen Turner – SOMEDAY

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers – No date, but SOON(ish)

Paranoia by J.R. Johansson – Oh yay, just what I need, more sleepless nights

Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartmann – 2015 *weeps*

 

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