Archive | July, 2014

Cover Love #65


J. R. R. Tolkien was far more than a fantasy book writer. His lifelong fascination with medieval texts and languages gave him a unique vision and endless inspiration for his tales. His broad interests made possible his creation of faery worlds and entire races of beings, as well as the languages, cultures, and characters that make his books as engaging today as they were fifty years ago. This clear and thoroughly researched biography of the creator of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings recalls the mystery of Tolkien’s imaginary worlds.

I don’t think I’ve ever featured a nonfiction title on Cover Love before. Leave it to J.R.R. Tolkien to be the first. I saw this little beauty while trolling HMHKids’ upcoming catalog on Edelweiss. This book is actually an older title that’s been given a facelift, and I fell in love at first lingering stare. You have to ignore Tolkien’s face, as it’s the only part that’s not quite up to par, but if you can get past that, the rest of the cover is GORGEOUS. There’s our beloved mythmaker, Tolkien himself, sitting beneath a tree in what we assume is the peaceful English countryside. He has his pipe and his notebook, a veritable Hobbit in his serenity.

BUT THEN LOOK AT THE REST OF THE COVER. Ents! Balrogs! Nazgul! Goblins and orcs! The Fellowship! SMAUG HIMSELF!

The art style is reminiscent of The Cabinet of Curiosities, except instead of children being eaten by killer plants, it holds all the things I hold most dear. Siggggghhhhhhhhh.

What do you think of this cover? Does it feel you with geekish glee?


ReReadthon + Shelf Sweeper 2014 – Week Five And Conclusion

If you don’t know what’s going on, check out THIS POST.

If you don’t know what’s going on, check out THIS POST.

Don’t panic! You still have one more day to keep rereading and sweeping your shelves. However, I have to do my New Releases post on the 1st, so I need to do my wrap-up post today. Also, I just looked at the review books I have to tackle and cringed, so I’m going to have to short myself a RRSS14 day.

At least my last few days were productive. Thanks to a few nearly-dead days at work, I started and finished two books in as many days. My first reread was The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas. I must say I wasn’t terribly excited for this reread. The first time around, I thought TBS was derivative and a bit dull, but I have the sequel waiting in my September schedule, so I needed a refresher. WELL. I stand by my opinion that the book is derivative and rough in places, but the ship, you guys. THE SHIP. I totally got into the Iolanthe/Titus chemistry this time around. ADORABLE. I’m now more excited than ever to tackle the sequel in a few weeks.


After The Burning Sky, the next book I gobbled was Not a Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis, also in preparation for its September sequel. I had forgotten how short it was, and read it far too quickly. Still, it was a treat to revisit Lynn, Lucy, and Stebbs. I also got a refresher on how unrelentingly harsh Lynn’s world is, and am now terrified to read the sequel.



Lastly, I managed to squeeze in two final sweepers before my review books carted me away. First I read Koko Be Good by Jen Wang, which followed the same pattern as set by the other graphic novels I’ve read this month. I really enjoyed the art style and the way the panels flowed, but was irritated by the characters and the open-endedness of the plot. The second book I read was a quickie—Fairy Tale Comics, edited by Chris Duffy. It’s a tongue-in-cheek look at different fairy tales from around the world, each told by a different artist.

ReReads in July:

  • Terrier by Tamora Pierce
  • Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce
  • Mastiff by Tamora Pierce
  • The Archived by Victoria Schwab
  • The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
  • Not a Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Shelf Sweepers in July:

  • Astronaut Academy by Dave Roman
  • I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells
  • This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki
  • Blaze by Laurie Boyle Crompton
  • Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks
  • The Unbound by Victoria Schwab
  • The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni
  • Maid of Deception by Jennifer McGowan
  • Koko Be Good by Jen Wang
  • Fairy Tale Comics, edited by Chris Duffy

FINAL TALLY: 16 books in July

Sure, I didn’t quite get to all the books I had on my original list, but that’s okay. I read the ones I was in the mood for and substituted others. Hopefully, I’ll learn to manage my review stack a little better so the rest won’t have to wait on my shelf until next year.

Thank you all for participating! I hope this month has been a welcome break for you all. Remember, you have until 11:55 PM on August 1st to get your final links entered into the linky. Once the linky is closed, Rachel and I will announce the winner!


Top 10 Tuesday – Most Books By The Same Author

Ooooh, this one was fun and informative but surprisingly tricky! It brought up all kinds of questions. Do I count digital copies? Duplicates? ARCs I intend to keep forever? Tricky, trick, tricky. In the end, I did NOT count digital copies but did count the other two types, nor did I count comic book collections (so Bill Amend and Scott Adams, at 11 and 12 respectively, are disqualified.) Here are my Top 10 Authors based on the number of PHYSICAL copies that I own. Continue Reading →


Review: BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Septys

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously–and at great risk–documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives.

Note: This is an old review I wrote over a year ago and never posted. Whoops. 

As I sit here, rubbing the bridge of my nose, I can already tell this is going to be a difficult review to write. Not because of the book itself. Between Shades of Gray has received a bunch of awards and even more praise from various corners of the internet, and rightly so. It’s a very pretty book that deals with heavy topics and is bound to end up on school reading lists across the nation.

Really, I suppose it’s my fault. I waited too long to review this book, and now I’ve found I don’t have much to say, but I’ll give it a try.
Continue Reading →


Rewind & Review (59)

Rewind and review

Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

FUN FUN FUN week. I attempted a review style I’ve never done before (I think it worked pretty well), got to be logical AND score some eye candy for my island paradise, and do a really fun photographic discussion post about book shaming. Good times, good times.

Stuff I Bought

  • Only a BRAND NEW LAPTOP. Yay! ‘Bout time, too. My old one was 6 years old and making me nervous.

What I Read

  • Still slogging through The Hit audiobook by Melvin Burgess
  • Aaaaaall the #RRSS14 books

Event of the Week

  • The aforementioned computer! Now I can surf the web at lightning speeds, squint a little less at my screen, AND play my Civ V game. Hooray!
  • (It’s also my sister Summer’s birthday today, but since that’s happening after I’ve written this post it doesn’t count…)

ReReadathon + Shelf Sweeper 2014 – Week Four

RRSS Banner Take 2

If you don’t know what’s going on, check out THIS POST.

This week I got even LESS read than last week thanks to life being so busy, and I’m starting to panic. Don’t end, July! There’s still so much I want to read! Staaaaaaaaaaahp! Sigh. At least the things I read this week were good.

I finished Mastiff by Tamora Pierce. There were many swoons and many mournful sighs. I love the love interest, even if it felt a bit rushed to me, and the betrayal that happens in this book guts me every time. Why. Whyyyyyyy. I also really enjoyed the epilogue of sorts that catches us up with George Cooper right after he’s made Rogue. I got all tingly in the feels even without having read Alanna’s series, so I can’t imagine how the rest of you must feel.

After Mastiff, I read The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni, which was given to me by my Twitter friend Emily, who works over at HMH. I was so excited to read this book, because the cover is gorgeous. The story itself was pretty good. I had some issues connecting with the prose (a lot of “she saw x,” etc. rather than just telling us what she saw), but I loved the historical detail and how the author worked the real caged graves in Catawissa, PA into her story. The love interest was wonderful as well. I want one. AND one of the characters made me hiss a Pride and Prejudice line every time he/she appeared on page, so that’s a plus.

I also started Maid of Deception by Jennifer McGowan. I finished it the same day. BEST. BOOK. ALL. SUMMER. Seriously. It was like manna from above. The main character was FANTASTIC, the historical detail was intriguing and sumptuous, the ships were NUMEROUS, the swoons were meltworthy, the intrigue was heartstopping… I am so in love, you guys don’t even know. I am itching to write a review on this one. And pledge my undying devotion to Jennifer McGowan. I can’t even with this book right now.

What about you all? What did you read this week?

**Reminder: If you haven’t signed up for #RRSS14, you still can!**



Review: PARANOIA by J.R. Johansson

In the aftermath of the events that nearly killed him, Parker Chipp is trying to learn to cope better with life as a Watcher. And it seems to be working…until he wakes up in jail with a hangover and 12 hours of missing time. Darkness has somehow taken control and Parker doesn’t have a clue how to stop him. He finds an unlikely ally in Jack, the mysterious guy in the motorcycle jacket who offers to help Parker master his abilities as a Watcher. But even as they practice, the darkness inside Parker is getting more and more powerful, taking over Parker’s body and doing everything he can to destroy Parker’s life.

When Jack reveals that there is another kind of Night Walker, known as a Taker, Parker starts to wonder if the strange things happening in Oakville are more than just a coincidence. After all, people are more than just sleepwalking. They’re emptying their savings accounts with no memory of doing so, wandering into strange parts of town and disappearing, they’re even killing other people–all in their sleep. If Parker wants to find out what’s happening or have any hope of seeing his father again, he’ll have to defy Jack and put his own life in danger…because the more he learns about these other Night Walkers, the more certain he becomes that his life isn’t the only one that could be lost.

Insomnia was one of my favorite thriller reads from 2013, a book that more than lived up to the promise in its name, so I was excited to reenter Parker’s world in Paranoia. After all the chaos that erupted in the last book, our boy has earned some peace, and he got it for a little while, but when Paranoia starts, things go topsy-turvy in typical Johansson fashion. Continue Reading →


Cover Love #64



Saving the school — one con at a time.

Jackson Greene has reformed. No, really he has. He became famous for the Shakedown at Shimmering Hills, and everyone still talks about the Blitz at the Fitz…. But after the disaster of the Mid-Day PDA, he swore off scheming and conning for good.

Then Keith Sinclair — loser of the Blitz — announces he’s running for school president, against Jackson’s former best friend Gaby de la Cruz. Gaby hasn’t talked to Jackson since the PDA, and he knows she won’t welcome his involvement. But he also knows Keith has “connections” to the principal, which could win him the election whatever the vote count. 

So Jackson assembles a crack team to ensure the election is done right: Hashemi Larijani, tech genius. Victor Cho, bankroll. Megan Feldman, science goddess and cheerleader. Charlie de la Cruz, point man. Together they devise a plan that will bring Keith down once and for all. Yet as Jackson draws closer to Gaby again, he realizes the election isn’t the only thing he wants to win.

I’ve seen two different covers for The Great Greene Heist, and I included them both in this post because they’re both adorable. Though I like the first a little better than the second, they both nail two elements: illustration style and diversity. I ADORE this cover style. I’ve mentioned many times that middle grade books are more willing to experiment when it comes to illustrated cover art, and the gamble pays off most of the time. Not that a photo cover wouldn’t have been okay, but this! This is fresh! It’s cute! It’s eye-catching! Even better is the racial representation on this cover. Of course, the majority of the credit goes for the author for purposely writing a diverse crew, but yay designers for not white-washing! Girls, boys, white kids, brown kids, they’re all here! Also, all the wee spectacles make me squee.

Like I said, I think I like the first cover better because the colors really pop and we get to see the kids a little better, but both covers are enticing enough to catch a reader’s eye from the shelf. Good job, designers!

What do you think of this cover? Does it make you want to read the book?


Book Shaming

There was a meme going around earlier in the year called “Pet Shaming.” A pet owner would take a picture of a shame-faced pet and a sign explaining the pet’s transgressions. So you might see a picture of a pup with the sign “I eat bunny poop!” or a tabby confessing, “I peed in my mom’s underwear drawer.” (More examples.)

They’re cute, but I was thinking them recently as I shook my fist at a book that angered me. Thus, book shaming was born! This is all in fun, so I kept away from any mean-spirited shaming, but I had fun scolding all the books that have given me heartache! Continue Reading →


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