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A Reader of Fictions: April 2012

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Monday, April 30, 2012

Enter Sandman - Metallica

The Killing Moon
The Dreamblood, Book 1

Author: N. K. Jemisin
Pages: 404
Review Copy Acquired from: Orbit

Description from Goodreads:
In the city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Along its ancient stone streets, where time is marked by the river’s floods, there is no crime or violence. Within the city’s colored shadows, priests of the dream-goddess harvest the wild power of the sleeping mind as magic, using it to heal, soothe... and kill.

But when corruption blooms at the heart of Gujaareh’s great temple, Ehiru—most famous of the city’s Gatherers—cannot defeat it alone. With the aid of his cold-eyed apprentice and a beautiful foreign spy, he must thwart a conspiracy whose roots lie in his own past. And to prevent the unleashing of deadly forbidden magic, he must somehow defeat a Gatherer’s most terrifying nemesis: the Reaper.


First Sentence: "In the dark of waking, a soul has died."

Review:
The Killing Moon did not grab me right out of the gate. This wasn't a huge concern, though. I haven't read a ton of epic fantasy yet, but I've read enough to know that you have to give it time. Creating a new world, one so intricate and different from the one we live in takes time. You have to give the author a chance to set up the world and the characters.

A lot of readers have zero interest in epic fantasy. The books are long, and, as already mentioned, there is generally quite a bit of set up before you can really get to the good parts. This scares readers away, I think. Why is epic fantasy like The Killing Moon worth it? The world-building. The best world-building I have ever read has been in epic fantasy. The worlds are so completely different, and yet I will have this perfect mental image of the place. Jemisin did an amazing job with this for sure.

Epic fantasy also tends to have really fascinating, mind-blowing, unique concepts. In The Killing Moon, this is the idea of Dreamblood, and Gatherers/Reapers. I loved every bit of that. It's just so cool, and creepy. To try to explain why it was awesome would take many words and probably fail epically, so I'm going to spare you that. I just want to say how much I adored the idea of the power that can come from dreams.

Book two is definitely going to be in my future. I have no freaking clue what's going to happen next, but I must know! I especially want to know what will become of Sunandi. She is so fantastic, and I hope there's even more focus on her in The Shadowed Sun. You know how I like my powerful heroines.

The Killing Moon is a bit slow-moving and contemplative, but never did it drag for me. Jemisin will leave you thinking and perhaps inspire your dreams. I have the feeling this series is going to get better and better.

Note: You should also check out this review, because it's awesome: http://staffersmusings.blogspot.com/2012/04/killing-moon-nk-jemisin.html.

Rating: 3.5/5

Favorite Quote: " 'Suffering is part of life,' she said. 'All the parts of life are jumbled up together; you can't separate out just the one thing.' She parred his hand again, kindly. 'I could let you kill me now, lovely man, and have peace and good dreams forever. But who knows what I get instead, if I stay? Maybe time to see a new grandchild. Maybe a good joke that sets me laughing for days. Maybe another handsome young fellow flirting with me.' She grinned toothlessly, then let loose another horrible, racking cough. Ehiru steadies her with shaking hands. 'I want every moment of my life, pretty man, the painful and the sweet alike. Until the very end. If these are all the memories I get for eternity, I want to take as many of them with me as I can.' "

"Sleep with one eye open
Gripping your pillow tight

Exit light

Enter night
Take my hand
Off to never never land

Something's wrong, shut the light

Heavy thoughts tonight
And they aren't of snow white

Dreams of war, dreams of liars
"

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

On My New Arrivals Shelf (1)

As most of you may already know, there's been some serious drama in the blogosphere in the last week. Many have weighed in on it, and I've commented in just a couple of places. Mostly, though, I just don't want to take part in any of it. The only real change to what I've been doing is that I will not be participating in the IMM meme hosted by The Story Siren anymore, but I'll still show you what I got in this week, because I approve of any chance to admire books. :)

I considered just stopping with these posts, but I do like having the chance to thank people, since I might not always get the chance to read a book immediately, because there are so many. I might join another linkup at some point, but this is what I'm doing for now at least.

Pretty New Books:
I didn't actually receive any books specifically for review this week, but I did get some lovely things in anyway. *snuggles with books*

Masque of the Red Death - Bethany Griffin (Gifted - Thanks Craig!)
Article 5 - Kristen Simmons (Won in Katie McGarry's YA Fusion Giveaway, Signed)
Bewitching - Alex Flinn (Won from HarperCollins' Pitch Dark Days Giveaway, Signed)
Pandemonium - Lauren Oliver (Won from Pitch Dark Days, Signed)
Purity - Jackson Pearce (Purchased at Launch Party, Signed)
The Homecoming of Samuel Lake - Jenny Wingfield (Won in Secret Read Giveaway - Actually, they sent me two of these, so there will be a giveaway!)

Goodwill Haul:
This second set, actually shown on my little bookshelf where I store new arrivals, is all from one epic Goodwill trip. Super excited about finding Sisters Red, since I stumbled across an ARC of Sweetly last week.

Silver Birch, Blood Moon - Ellen Datlow & Terry Windling, eds.
Black Heart, Ivory Bones -  Ellen Datlow & Terry Windling, eds.
Black Swan, White Raven - Ellen Datlow & Terry Windling, eds.
The Blue Flower - Penelope Fitzgerald
Blood of the Fold - Terry Goodkind
Temple of the Winds - Terry Goodkind
Agent Zigzag - Ben Macintyre
Stranger Than Fiction - Chuck Palahniuk
Sisters Red - Jackson Pearce (signed at Purity Release Party)
Idlewild - Nick Sagan
The Pianist - Wladyslaw Szpilman
The Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut

From NetGalley:
Thanks to Candlewick, Bloomsbury, Simon & Schuster, and Egmont!

 
Personal Effects - E. M. Kokie / The Infects - Sean Beaudoin / Unbreak My Heart - Melissa Walker


 Advent - James Treadwell / Timepiece - Myra McEntire / One Moment - Kristina McBride

The Loners - Lex Thomas

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Jessie's Girl from Glee

Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink
Pilgrims, Book 1

Author: Stephanie Kate Strohm
Pages: 204
ARC Acquired from: Graphia via NetGalley


Description from Goodreads:
A story of crushes, corsets, and conspiracy.

Libby Kelting had always felt herself born out of time. No wonder the historical romance-reading, Jane Austen-adaptation-watching, all-around history nerd jumped at the chance to intern at Camden Harbor, Maine’s Oldest Living History Museum. But at Camden Harbor Libby’s just plain out of place, no matter how cute she looks in a corset. Her cat-loving coworker wants her dead, the too-smart-for-his-own-good local reporter keeps pushing her buttons, her gorgeous sailor may be more shipwreck than dreamboat — plus Camden Harbor’s haunted. Over the course of one unforgettable summer, Libby learns that boys, like ghosts, aren’t always what they seem.


First Sentence: " 'Please remind me again why you're going to pilgrim camp.' "

Review:
Initially, I thought this sounded awesome. I mean, the heroine loves Jane Austen and history. That's totally exactly like me, right? How can this not be great? Easily, apparently. All you have to do is make the heroine completely vapid and ridiculous. It reminds me a lot of Past Perfect, which was really popular with other people, but that I thought was disappointing. God forbid a heroine actually be able to handle only using her cell phone at night. THE HORRORS!

What's so incredibly frustrating about this is that Libby (I've never met a good Libby) is obviously very smart. She knows a TON of stuff about history. She legit is a nerd. However, she's a complete dumbass otherwise. She got this job at a living history museum, and is like super stoked, until she gets there and realizes she's not allowed to wear her 8 billion sexy outfits with matching shoes and that she can't take her cell phone with her when she's in costume. What the hell did she expect?

My problem is not with the fact that she loves fashion despite being a history nerd. People have varying interests, which is what makes them interesting. No, my issue is that, unless she's telling someone a historical fact, she sounds like she doesn't have a brain in her head. Oh, and because she makes fun of a guy wearing a Star Wars t-shirt. You, lil' miss, are the worst. Probably more importantly, she completely trivializes any woman's interest in history, and makes it into being boy crazy:
"Now, here is the dirty little secret of almost every girl who loves history: somewhere along the line, she fell for a fictional historical hottie. Maybe it was Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in that dripping wet shirt. Or Clark Gable imagining Vivien Leigh without her shimmy. Or a rascally Hugh Grant charming a girl Senseless. Even Leonardo DiCaprio clinging to the Titanic as he slowly turned blue. Believe you me. If a girl loves history, this probably happened. Many of us dream of a time of true love, courtly manners, and real gentlemen."
Can we talk for a second about just how freaking much this PISSES ME OFF? I was a history major in college, so I don't really appreciate that Libby/Strohm just reduced 'almost every' female who likes history into a delusion, boy-crazy girl. I make no secret of my affection for Darcy (and even more, Mr. Tilney, which is the one thing I really share with Libby), but this has NOTHING to do with my interest in history. In fact, my favorite time periods to study are World War II, the Vietnam War, and shogunate Japan. None of these are associated with a particular studly literary hero, thank you very much. And why is it only women? You don't see her saying men like history because they're in love with some fictional figure.

Part of the awkwardness of the novel, especially that of Libby's character never really coalescing into a realistic person, is likely a byproduct of Strohm's half-hearted attempt to make this into an Austen spinoff. Although I had seen nothing about that in the description, it was pretty apparent by the end that this is a modernized Northanger Abbey forced onto the plot about the girl working at the living history museum. To do so, she had to make what should have been an intelligent, history-loving character into a boy-obsessed, stupid ninny. Catherine, Northanger Abbey's heroine, is not the cleverest and she's incredibly naive.

This leads me to a discussion of the romance in the book, which is incredibly formulaic. Through most of this book, I had the vague sense that I'd read it before, largely because it reads like so many other forgettable YA novels. Who the heroine's going to end up with is evident right from the opening, as is who the heroine is going to spend much of the book crushing on, despite his obviously being a prat. If you don't want to know, you might want to skip the rest of the review just in case.

There are two romantic interests in the book: sexypants Cam and sarcastic, nerdy Garrett. Undoubtedly, you can guess which one's going to win and which one was my favorite character. Of course, she initially is turned off by Garrett and obsessed with Cam (a bit of P&P up in the Northanger Abbey story). Sexypants is so obviously a manwhore, but she LEGIT thinks he's a good guy for almost all of her summer at this place, even though he shoved his tongue down her throat UNASKED WHILE SHE WAS WORKING on the SECOND day they'd ever spoken. Yes, honey, go on thinking that that is the behavior of a gentleman. A girl who reads so much Austen supposedly would have seen the warning signs. Just because he brought you flowers does not make him a gentleman. But he's just so hot that he must be nice. Shut up, Libby. Shut up.

Then there's Garrett, who loves Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, and Stargate-SG1. He's funny, sarcastic and kind. Surprise, surprise, she thinks he's a jerk and that Cam is a nice guy, even though Cam and his friends stare at her breasts all book and throw up all the time from all of the cheap beer they drink. Honestly, I wish she and Garrett hadn't gotten together, because she sure as hell does not deserve someone that awesome. Why is it that nerdy, sarcastic guys are so easy to find in fiction? If the heroines don't want them, they should send them my way, rather than mistreating them for 95% of the book and then taking them as a backup. UGH.

Wow. I really didn't like this. I will say, though, that it was a quick read, and, though it obviously irritated me no end, it wasn't hard to read. I imagine others might enjoy it, so I'm giving it a 2: Not for me. Plus, it deserves a little bonus for the sassy best friend, who I really would have liked to have seen more of, since he reminded me of Betty's nephew on Ugly Betty.

Rating: 2/5

Favorite Quote: "I am a girl of odd and diverse talents with little to no practical value." NOTE: I like this quote, both because it's true of her (she's ridic) and because I often feel like that.

Today's theme song unfortunately has the wrong name, but imagine that it's Garrett singing "Cam's Girl" and that the were never friends, and it's about right.

"And she's watching him with those eyes
And she's loving him with that body I just know it
And he's holding her in his arms late at night

You know, I wish that I had Jessie's girl

I wish that I had Jessie's girl
Where can I find a woman like that
"

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Friday, April 27, 2012

OK - Holly Conlan

Welcome Caller, This Is Chloe

Author: Shelley Coriell
Pages: 299
ARC Acquired from: Amulet Books via NetGalley

Description from Goodreads:
Big-hearted Chloe Camden is the queen of her universe until her best friend shreds her reputation and her school counselor axes her junior independent study project. Chloe is forced to take on a meaningful project in order to pass, and so she joins her school’s struggling radio station, where the other students don’t find her too queenly. Ostracized by her former BFs and struggling with her beloved Grams’s mental deterioration, lonely Chloe ends up hosting a call-in show that gets the station much-needed publicity and, in the end, trouble. She also befriends radio techie and loner Duncan Moore, a quiet soul with a romantic heart. On and off the air, Chloe faces her loneliness and helps others find the fun and joy in everyday life. Readers will fall in love with Chloe as she falls in love with the radio station and the misfits who call it home.

First Sentence: "I loved being a burrito."

Review:
Chloe's friends' complaints definitely have merit. Chloe is kind of annoying and self-obsessed. They definitely were right about that. Under most circumstances, she would be difficult to stomach as a narrator. She's such a brat, but one who thinks she's such a sweetie and so caring. No, honey. Just no. I prefer for selfish brats to OWN it. Like I do. Just sayin'. I mean, there's this scene where she calls one of her former BFs to try to figure out what's going on and she spends forever on the phone just yakking away WHILE HER GRANDMA IS BLEEDING FROM A WOUND AND WAITING TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL. Your social life is a big deal and all but go to the hospital first! This girl is just so clueless.

At first, I was not sympathetic to Chloe's plight like at all. I mean, I know how much it sucks to be friendless in high school, but she brought it on herself. When I thought her friends had just tired of dealing with her, that's what I thought. Then I learned exactly why her reputation was in tatters, and, suddenly, I totally had to hope that she recovered her status somewhat, although I still wanted her to grow up and chill out.

Despite knowing that I would totally be annoyed by Chloe if I knew her in real life, her character was very vibrant and interesting. Most of all, I loved her obsession with vintage shoes. Although I'm not a shoe person myself (I wear flip flops most of the year), that's a really neat hobby to have, and I loved how much joy she got from a pair of shoes. Plus, vintage is cool. I also like the first sentence of the book (in fact, that's one of the best first sentences I've read). When I read the opening, I thought that there was no way Coriell could convince me any self-respecting teen would enjoy a job where they had to dress up in a burrito costume. Well, she proved me wrong. Chloe totally would.

She's one of those people that you can hardly believe exists that can make anything cool, so she just does what she wants. When it comes right down to it, she's a seriously odd duck, but she does everything so passionately that she's really hard to ignore. I also liked that, once she sets her mind to something (a key element), she completely invests herself in it, whatever it is. She certainly is selfish at the outset, and still kind of at the end. However, I can see her being a good girlfriend, because she'll really want to help him, even if that means helping him with his trash job.

The whole crew at the radio station I loved. Bitchy, but good-hearted, Clementine with a fondness for beets, Frick and Frack (I want to know how they got those nicknames, and Duncan especially.  I wish there had been a place like that in my high school, although there probably was and I just didn't know it. They were all outcasts, but formed their own little supportive social group. Oh, I also need to give a shout out to the awesomeness of Grams. She is completely batty, but the best kind of fictional grandma, right up there with the grandma from Stephanie Plum and from Inara Scott's Talents series.

There were a few things with which I had a bit of a problem. First off, Chloe has a really weird way of speaking that doesn't strike me as quite natural. She has invented some slang, like gossip being 'jellyfish whispers.' I'm sorry, but that's not a thing. It derived from the fact that jellyfish sting, I think, but I'm just not feeling it. Chloe also always refers to her best friends as BFs. Can you not? I feel like I would have been less irritated by BFF; I've just never heard anyone say BF, except about a boyfriend.

Though the relationship of the book was a slow-burner, it still committed one of my YA romance no-nos. Every time Chloe and Duncan (note: I hate the nickname Dunc) touch, she feels this crazy literal spark. I mean, at one point, he puts his hand on her ankle and she like freaks out mentally about how good it feels. Get over it already. I read about stuff like this all the time in YA, and I really think it's going to give people unrealistic expectation. Sure, touching someone you like or being touched by them will feel good, but I really doubt there's going to be an actual spark, unless there's static electricity in play. Also, why are his eyes silver? I keep reading YA books where people have silver or purple or something. There are plenty of colors in human eyes naturally; please use those, unless you have a way to explain it. At least say that his eyes were grey and so shiny they looked silver.

All things considered, Welcome Caller, This Is Chloe is a really great read. I know I powered through it in no time. In future, I hope to see Coriell do something even better, because I think she shows a lot of potential.

Rating: 3.5/5

Favorite Quote: "As Grams treaded water, she tapped my forehead. 'What's in here, Poppy, is scarier than anything you'll encounter in the depths of the ocean. An imagination is a powerful thing.' "

"I do my best to save myself,
But I don't have time to save nobody else.
I tune out voices when they talk.
I say I care, but I never walk the walk.
I got no job, I got no dream.
I'm black or white, but I can't stand the in between.

And now I'm confused on top of it all,

I was ready to lose, and ready to fall,
And something about the way that you look at me
Makes it feel okay,
Make it feel okay.
"

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Purity Release Party

Or, How I Got to Listen to a Story About Condoms in a Barnes & Noble Filled with Children 


Yesterday, I got to do something for the first time: attend a release party. Since I started using Twitter, I have lived in a perpetual state of 'I want to go to there' as I have heard about all of these book signings/events, almost all of which are in California or New York City. People read in Atlanta too!

Anyway, I happened to learn that there is at least one author in Atlanta, and that she just happened to be having a book launch party 25 minutes from where I live. Although I have not read any of Jackson Pearce's books YET, there was no way I was going to miss that, especially since in the last two weeks I've managed to acquired copies of both Sisters Red and Sweetly. Clearly, reading Jackson Pearce was ordained by the fates. And I sure as hell do not want to piss them off!

I know you're impressed with my photography skillz.

Since traffic in Atlanta is made of awful, I left for Alpharetta right after work, knowing I would get to the area too early, but who cares when you have a tote bag full of Jackson Pearce books (note: only those two mentioned above) to keep you company. I met up with a friend for dinner, who was late (did I mention the traffic?). While I waited, I read a couple chapters of Sisters Red, just to make sure I actually liked this Jackson Pearce person before I bought the latest book at FULL PRICE. The answer is I DO like this Jackson Pearce person. Pretty sure I am going to adore Sisters Red.

Because of my friend being late, I ended up being a few minutes late to the event, but I don't think I missed much, although who knows. Maybe Jackson sang all of "Under Pressure" before I got there. I arrived just in time for the story about her three high school love stories. Definitely glad I was there for that, as they all sounded like winners. Most important thing you should know about hearing Jackson Pearce talk is that she is hilarious, completely kooky and willing to be weird.

Candid shot that actually resulted in a good pic. Related note: she has the prettiest hair.

Apparently, Jackson usually forgets to do the reading portion of these sorts of shindigs. She did not this time. Which was awesome. She chose to read the 'condom scene' from Purity, even though her parents were in the audience. More power to her. Jackson is great at reading aloud. This is a good thing to know if you are inclined to listen to audiobooks, because she narrated the audiobook for Purity herself. I imagine it's stellar, so check that out on Audible here.

I did buy a copy of Purity, making this the first book I've paid list price for in years, probably back to before I started blogging. I do not buy books that are not on sale. Period. I hope Jackson appreciates this. :-p I also remembered why I don't buy books for full price: they're SO expensive.

 


She signed the two books I already had, as well as Purity, of course. Note the use of color-coordinated Sharpies.

Jackson is awesome! Check out her books and see her in person if you can. Totes worth it.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Play Ball

Authors: Nunzio DeFilippis & Christina Weir
Illustrator: Jackie Lewis
Pages: 144
ARC Acquired from: Oni Press via NetGalley

Description from Goodreads:
Most girls, when they get to a new school, just want to fit in. But Dashiell Brody isn't like most girls. A natural at softball, Dashiell discovers her new school has a championship level baseball team, and Dashiell wants to play ball. One girl's quest to play the national pastime with the boys will turn her family, her school, and her state upside down. 

Great underdog story featuring strong female leads. According to Little League baseball statistics, approximately 100,000 girls are currently playing in their organization. Excellent for summer reading lists through libraries and schools.

Review:
This is my third experience with the graphic novel-writing team of DeFilippis and Weir. Previously, I read some Amazing Agent Luna and the first volume of The Avalon Chronicles. Although Play Ball was pretty cute, it's definitely my least favorite of the bunch.

The story was definitely sweet, and I appreciate the feminist element. Speaking of which, this really did always bother me. Why do girls play softball and boys baseball? The heck is that about? Girls can't hit a smaller ball? I believe this to be false. The genders should play the same sports. I really don't see why there should be a sport just for boys or just for girls unless anatomy comes into it, which...gross. I'm even bothered by the fact that women and men mostly do different gymnastics stuff, not that I feel like any woman should resent not having to do the rings except on principle. Also the pommel horse one. Those are stupid.

I feel like I've lost track of what I was talking about. Um, to sum up that meandering rant, girls are awesome and they should be allowed to play any sport they damn well please! The plot line may sound vaguely familiar to anyone who saw A League of Their Own, which is also about women playing baseball, although not a high school girl on a boy's team. Take that movie and add a soupcon of She's the Man. You've pretty much got Play Ball.

That's the real issue I had with this. It doesn't do anything new or innovative. From the opening chapters, I knew EXACTLY what was going to happen. And I was right about every bit of it. I do want to offer props though for the fact that Dashiell (who is awesome for wanting to go by a unique name) has a male best friend, with whom she didn't have to have any sexual tension. So glad when pop culture doesn't subscribe to the When Harry Met Sally mentality, even though I love that movie.

Wow, I am really easily distracted today, huh? Oh, what's that over there? A puppy? *runs after puppy* Book review. Right. I should wrap this up before I find myself discussing my policies on the space program or something.

The art for Play Ball also really didn't work for me. When reading something graphic, the art is often a clincher on my enjoyment level, because, well, it's kind of the point. It's not terrible, and might appeal to some, but I preferred the look of The Avalon Chronicles myself.

Play Ball is a sweet, fun, fast read that I recommend to people who feel like a quick dose of girl power.

Rating: 3/5

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Cover Reveal Thursday (4)

There were a bunch of new covers this week! This list is in no way comprehensive, just the ones I noticed. :)

The Evolution of Mara Dyer - Michelle Hodkin
Thoughts: This cover definitely matches the first one, but I'm not really sure if I'm a fan. I like that they look like a series, but I feel like the people look weird. Seriously, look at the guy...something's off. Most of the blogosphere is eating this up, though.

Unwholly - Neal Shusterman
  Thoughts: So. Creepy. Seriously. I am terrified by this cover. Which is pretty much about right for what I expect from the book, I would say.

Divinely Ruined - Diane Alberts
Thoughts: Not a fan. First off, she reminds me of Pink with her attitude and pose. Second, why is she naked? Third, an apple, really? They know I will immediately think of Twilight, right? Finally, her wings are ridiculously tiny. She would not be able to fly. AT ALL. She looks like she's wearing an angel wing costume for kids.

The Lost Prince - Julie Kagawa
 Thoughts: Yeah, no.

The Iron Legends - Julie Kagawa
Thoughts: I really loved the previous Iron Fey covers, though not the books. Pardon me while I laugh hysterically at these two newest ones. Needless to say, they're not for me.

Outpost - Ann Aguirre
  Thoughts: Not gonna lie. The most interesting aspect of this cover is all the drama preceding its release. Ann tweeted several times about people releasing supposed Outpost covers, even though it hadn't been released. I even saw one last week. And it definitely was not this one, although somewhat similar. Lol whut? Why would people pretend to have the cover? The cover's okay, but not my fav. Then again, Enclave wasn't my favorite either; doesn't mean the book won't be constructed entirely of awesomesauce!

Seven Wonders - Adam Christopher
  Thoughts: It took me an embarrassingly long time to notice that the buildings form a seven. *facepalm* I love superheroes! I like this one, especially how blindingly bright the sun is.

Empty - K. M. Walton
Thoughts: I like that it matches the cover of Walton's previous book, Cracked. The cover definitely makes its point well, but I am not drawn to it especially. Meaningful, not pretty.

The Culling - Steven Dos Santos
Thoughts: Clearly they are marketing this to boys. Reminds me a lot of The Maze Runner or Tunnels. I feel like there's actually too much green. I hate the radiation color of the title, but I imagine that was an intended thing. Not nice to look at, though. Very intrigued by the shiny thing on his wrist.
Monstrous Beauty - Elizabeth Fama
Thoughts: I guess the first cover wasn't popular, because there's a new one. I didn't like that one and, frankly, I don't like this one either. It is neat, though, that the mermaid looks so very non-human. She's green!

Cover of the Week: Seven Wonders!

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Wherever I May Roam - Metallica

The Immortal Rules
Blood of Eden, Book 1

Author: Julie Kagawa
Pages: 504
ARC Acquired from: HarlequinTeen via NetGalley

Description from Goodreads:
Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die… or become one of the monsters.

Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.

But it isn't easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.


First Sentence: "They hung the Unregistereds in the old warehouse district; it was a public execution, so everyone went to see."

Review:
This has definitely been one of the books everyone has been most excited for this spring. Honestly, I was looking forward to it too, although with a bit more hesitation than most, even after watching the compliments roll in. Kagawa's Iron Fey series is immensely popular, but I am in the minority that doesn't think it lives up to the hype. I liked the first book, but quickly got frustrated as more and more YA tropes appeared, eventually giving up on the series entirely. I would have given up on Kagawa, but she wrote a dystopia, and those I just can't resist.

Pretty soon into my reading, I became convinced that The Immortal Rules is a far cry from Kagawa's Iron Fey seiers, which, for me, was definitely a good thing. If you like the lightness of the faerie books, be prepared for something totally different. There's not a ton of humor, and what there is definitely constitutes black humor. This book definitely would fall under the horror category. Seriously, I have never been more terrified of a deer.

Also, rabids...they're freaking scary. I'm not kidding at all. They're like a mixture between reavers from Firefly and velociraptors. Basically, they're crazy vampires that have no interest in anything but nomming people and they hunt in packs. No thanks. I think I would rather starve in the city than face those guys outside the wall!

I definitely agree with something iLive, iLaugh, iLove Books said in her review (I normally try to avoid them [them being reviews, not hers in particular] - because I hate spoilers and to keep my review my own untempered reactions -but I skimmed hers before entering the giveaway): Stick is completely obnoxious! I mean, I totally appreciate that everyone cannot be a badass and awesome at survival. After watching The Hunger Games movie, my friends asked how I would survive, and I responded that I wouldn't. My plan would be to die as quickly and painlessly as possible, because I'm slow and squeamish. I basically have no skills that would help me survive, except maybe cleverness and I don't think that would counterbalance enough.

Anyway, that's all just to point out that, yeah, not everyone is as well-equipped for survival as Allie is, even though she's shorter and lighter than Stick. There are mental components to strength too, and he sure hasn't got them. However, you still ought to either give up all together or really try. I do not get why he is not registered! And, obviously, the only way he can have survived for this long is by using people. Not cool, dude.

Julie Kagawa mentions in her acknowledgments that she never wanted to write a book about vampires, because, man, has that been done to death (punned!). Still, here she is doing it, because she had an idea that would not let her go, which is cool, because, though I may not be a writer yet, I am enough of one to know that sometimes the ideas kind of have you. Although Kagawa does not do anything especially 'new' with vampires, they do not feel stale at all. I really like that the reaction of humans to vampires is very anti-current-trends, aka people do not want vampires anywhere near them.

The only thing that I questioned about the book was the motorcycles. And, yes, I do know that that sounds like a weird thing to say. Well, in this post-apocalyptic dystopian society, there still is some technology around, and some of it even still works, but a lot has been lost or broken. There doesn't really seem to be much or any development of new things or particular knowledge of how to fix things. Cars sit around rusting. And yet, somehow, there are tons of folks riding around on motorcycles. Where'd they get the gas? Why do those still work and not other things? This isn't a huge issue, but I am hugely curious. Maybe the apocalypse was manufactures by Harley Davidson to increase sales.

To sum up this review, I basically loved this, both the world-building and the writing. I also liked how long the book was; YA should not be quantified merely by how long it takes to read. Iron Fey fans should prepare themselves for something darker and more epic. Perhaps more importantly, I want to urge those who were unimpressed with Kagawa's Iron Fey series to read this. I was skeptical, even more so than ordinary, and I was seriously impressed.

Rating: 4.5/5

Favorite Quote: " 'Words define us,' Mom continued, as I struggled to make my clumsy marks look like her elegant script. 'We must protect our knowledge and pass it on whenever we can. If we are ever to become a society again, we must teach others how to remain human.' "

"And with dust in throat I crave
Only knowledge will I save
To the game you stay a slave

Rover, wanderer

Nomad, vagabond
Call me what you will

But I'll take my time anywhere

Free to speak my mind anywhere
And I'll redefine anywhere
"

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (5)


Thus far, I have not actually read any Juliet Marillier books yet, although I do own one. However, my friends have recommended her highly, as had April at Good Books and Good Wine, which means that I'm pretty freaking eager to read one of her books...and this one sounds amazing. I love fantasy! This definitely sounds like it should be an awesome read-a-like for Maria V. Snyder. :-D

Shadowfell
 
Author:
Juliet Marillier
Expected Publication Date: September 11, 2012
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Its name is spoken only in whispers, if the people of Alban dare to speak it at all: Shadowfell. The training ground for rebels seeking to free their land from the grip of the tyrannical king is so shrouded in mystery that most believe it to be a myth.

But for Neryn, Shadowfell's existence is her only hope. She is penniless, orphaned, and utterly alone - and concealing a treacherous magical power that will warrant her immediate enslavement should it be revealed. She finds hope of allies in the Good Folk, fey beings whom she must pretend she cannot see and who taunt her with chatter of prophecies and tests, and in a striking, mysterious stranger, who saves her from certain death but whose motives remain unclear. She knows she should not trust anyone with her plans, but something within her longs to confide in him.

Will Neryn be forced to make the dangerous journey alone? She must reach Shadowfell, not only to avenge her family and salvage her own life, but to rescue Alban itself.

This first novel in a new trilogy from enchanting fantasy author Juliet Marillier is a captivating tale of peril, courage, romance, and survival.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Bruised - The Bens

Breaking Beautiful

Author: Jennifer Shaw Wolf
Pages: 354
ARC Acquired from: Walker Books for Young Readers via NetGalley

Description from Goodreads:
Allie lost everything the night her boyfriend, Trip, died in a horrible car accident—including her memory of the event. As their small town mourns his death, Allie is afraid to remember because doing so means delving into what she’s kept hidden for so long: the horrible reality of their abusive relationship.

When the police reopen the investigation, it casts suspicion on Allie and her best friend, Blake, especially as their budding romance raises eyebrows around town. Allie knows she must tell the truth. Can she reach deep enough to remember that night so she can finally break free? Debut writer Jennifer Shaw Wolf takes readers on an emotional ride through the murky waters of love, shame, and, ultimately, forgiveness.


First Sentence: "The clock says 6:45, even though it's really 6:25."

Review:
Wow. After my last Apocalypsies read was such a disappointment, I was a little worried that my streak of awesome reads from those guys might be over. Well, most assuredly not. Breaking Beautiful captured my interest right from the beginning, and the continued to suck me more and more. Although the cover didn't capture my interest, I am impressed, now having read the book, with how much more accurate it is than most. Good job, Bloomsbury!

Breaking Beautiful is another one of those books that falls into the 'wonderful but so depressing it will feel like you're being eviscerated emotionally' category. I've been reading a lot of these lately, and apparently I love them, even though as a younger reader I mostly only liked happy books. I do not want to think too much about what this change in my tastes says about me.

Allie definitely doesn't handle things the way she should have. Sometimes I wanted to cry and ask her what she was thinking. BUT there is no way I could not feel completely sympathetic towards her. She behaved the way she did because she went through so much emotional and physical abuse. In no way will I judge her for not reacting a certain way. ALL of my rage goes to Trip and to all of the people who suspected what was going on and didn't say anything. Not to get all preachy, but seriously, ladies, do not let anyone do this to you. Or gents, too. No one deserves to be abused, and, if you suspect it, do something...carefully.

What made this book work, I think, was definitely Allie's character. In her every word and thought, you can feel the specter of Trip hanging over her head. Memories of him flit constantly through her head, judging her and terrifying her, continuing to hurt her in the only way he now can. His influence on her is so obvious; this is why we can relate to her so well, and feel with her.

Jennifer Shaw Wolf definitely made me tear up. This is a beautifully written book on an incredibly dark topic. If reading about abuse doesn't interest you, there's also a murder mystery. This book is beautiful, as suggested by the title, and excruciating. I highly recommend it to those who like dark YA stories with depth.

Rating: 4.5/5

Favorite Quote: "It came on slowly, like the tide filling up the entire shore before you even realize it's coming in."

"Oh no
Your love just leaves you bruised
If you want to know
You find something to lose

The world won't turn until something breaks

Who will make the first last mistake
You say good things come to those who
Wait

Into the spiral

Your world and my world
It's never final
Love just leaves you bruised
"

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Midnight Confessions - The Grass Roots

Helen Keller in Love

Author: Rosie Sultan
Pages: 239
Review Copy Acquired from: Penguin

Description from Goodreads:
Helen Keller has long been a towering figure in the pantheon of world heroines. Yet the enduring portrait of her in the popular imagination is The Miracle Worker, which ends when Helen is seven years old.

Rosie Sultan’s debut novel imagines a part of Keller’s life she rarely spoke of or wrote about: the man she once loved. When Helen is in her thirties and Annie Sullivan is diagnosed with tuberculosis, a young man steps in as a private secretary. Peter Fagan opens a new world to Helen, and their sensual interactions—signing and lip-reading with hands and fingers—quickly set in motion a liberating, passionate, and clandestine affair. It’s not long before Helen’s secret is discovered and met with stern disapproval from her family and Annie. As pressure mounts, the lovers plot to elope, and Helen is caught between the expectations of the people who love her and her most intimate desires.


Richly textured and deeply sympathetic, Sultan’s highly inventive telling of a story Keller herself would not tell is both a captivating romance and a rare glimpse into the mind and heart of an inspirational figure.


First Sentence: "I wait under a night sky pocked with stars I cannot see."

Review:
Besides the obvious, I really know very little about Helen Keller. What little else I know comes solely from a book report I did on The Miracle Worker in third grade. So yeah, I'm not exactly a font of knowledge on Helen Keller. The book appealed to me largely because of the historical fiction aspects. Historical fiction, when well done, is a beautiful thing, and one of my favorite genres.

Thankfully, Helen Keller in Love has been quite well done, or so I feel. I did some very limited research on Helen Keller (aka Google search) just to verify some of the basic facts, although I also could have read the Afterword first. I wanted to know, most of all, whether Peter Fagan was a real person, and whether this actually happened (unlike Becoming Jane). The answer is yes. Of course, the conversations and some of the finer details are a fiction. I just always like to have a decent idea of what is fiction and what is history, so that I don't walk around spouting 'facts' that are untrue.

What I liked most about Helen Keller in Love was most certainly the writing. Rosie Sultan's prose is beautiful. Her sentences aren't generally especially complex, but I love her diction and syntax. Her descriptions of what it might have been like to be Helen Keller, to hear through touch rather than sound, to imagine colors when you've never seen them, were breathtaking.

Most of all, the book, told from Helen's perspective, made me really truly try to imagine what her life was like in a way that just learning about her did not. She has such strength to have been able to live such a life. It's utterly sad how limited her life still remained though, a fact generally lost in the midst of the miracle.

I highly recommend Helen Keller in Love for lovers of well-written historical fiction or for those who like to think about the world from a different perspective.

Rating: 4/5

Favorite Quote: "I sat taller, to suppress my impatience. It was infuriating, this waiting. I was thirty-seven years old. And like a child, an infant, really, I was at the mercy of others. Hour after hour of my life was spent waiting."

"The sound of your footsteps
Telling me that you're near
Your soft gentle motion, baby
Brings out the need in me that no-one can hear, except

In my midnight confessions

When I tell all the world that I love you
"
Read more »

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Yesterday's Child - Patti Scialfa

The Girl in the Park

Author: Mariah Fredericks
Pages: 215
ARC Acquired from: Random House via NetGalley

Description from Goodreads:
When Wendy Geller's body is found in Central Park after the night of a rager, newspaper headlines scream,"Death in the Park: Party Girl Found Strangled." But shy Rain, once Wendy's best friend, knows there was more to Wendy than just "party girl." As she struggles to separate the friend she knew from the tangle of gossip and headlines, Rain becomes determined to discover the truth about the murder. Written in a voice at once immediate, riveting, and utterly convincing, Mariah Frederick's mystery brilliantly exposes the cracks in this exclusive New York City world and the teenagers that move within it.

First Sentence: "In my dream, everyone talks except me."

Review:
Main character Rain tries to stay quiet and avoid notice. She has a cleft palate that still affects her speech patterns, despite a lot of speech therapy. This definitely makes her stand out among the YA books I've read, reminding me most of Wonder by R. J. Palacio, which is amazing by the way. Both main characters are freaks because of deformities they were born with, but both are also really great people. From reading Auggie's viewpoint in Wonder and Rain's in The Girl in the Park, it's so obvious how smart they are and how much they have to offer.

Rain's a really nice person. She's the kind of girl who will help someone out just because they're in pain. Even if that person is the most popular girl in school and has never been kind to her, Rain will listen to her and comfort her when she's down, because that's what she does. This is how she befriends Wendy, a transfer student. Watching Wendy, Rain sees someone who wants so desperately to be popular that she stands no chance of achieving her goal. Rain offers her advice and tries to be friends, even though they are completely different.

One thing that did bother me was something that just was not believable, namely that the school sent out a message saying that students who did not feel up to coming the day after Wendy's death would not be marked absent. No real school would do this. Why? Because EVERY SINGLE STUDENT would suddenly feel the strange need to mourn for Wendy, whether they knew her or not, liked her or not. What schools do, and I have experienced this, is still have the exact same attendance policy, but make the guidance counselors extra available for people to talk to if they're sad. Seriously, if a school is going to make attendance optional that day, they might as well just close altogether, because that's how many kids would show up. Does this matter at all with regards to the plot? No.

Death is really awkward, especially with the advent of all of this web interconnectivity. The Girl in the Park does a pretty good job of highlighting this fact, although I don't imagine that's something all readers are going to take away from it. Wendy wasn't even very well-liked, but, in death, suddenly she's missed and fascinating and everyone's sad, even though many of them probably wished she would leave the school, if not the living world. Kids go to right on her facebook wall about their condolences and how awesome she was, though they may never have thought of it and though Wendy cannot actually read these messages. Whenever someone I know dies, which thankfully is not often, this same sort of furor erupts. There's this desire to be closest to the tragedy, to garner attention because of it, which I'm seriously creeped out by and do not approve of. Was grief always so public?

The Girl in the Park reminds me a lot of Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, although the issues they are dealing with are not exactly the same. They do, however, share themes of popularity and being afraid to speak up. Rain's distance from others, although certainly not as extreme, is also a commonality between the two. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy the depressingly honest YA books by authors like Anderson and Bick.

Rating: 4/5

Favorite Quote: " 'Just for once, I want someone to want me more than anybody else. To put me first.' "

"So let’s raise the glass
to a symphony of miles
and say our last farewell
to yesterday’s child
"

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In My Mailbox (14)

From Orbit:
I love epic fantasy, and don't read enough of it. When I read a seriously laudatory review of this one, I knew I had to try it, especially since it's written by a sassy female author.

The Killing Moon - N. K. Jemisin

From Grand Central:
I got a surprise, unsolicited review copy in the mail. Actually, I don't think I've ever worked with Grand Central before, so I was totally blown away; I thought I knew what was in the box and I was wrong. lol. Anyway, the book looks really awesome in person, although the cover image on the computer does not capture it. Though I haven't read any of this series, I'm going to give it a go; I've already ordered the first book from the library. Given how long they are and that this is book five, it might take me a while to get here. If I don't like it, I'll share with a reader! Thanks to Grand Central for the surprise gift! Much appreciated!

 Born of Silence - Sherrilyn Kenyon

Won in Giveaways:
Thanks to A Word's Worth for this copy of Awkward, which came with assorted swag. I hadn't heard of the book before, but it sounds good, and, really, could there be a more apt word to describe the YA years? I think not. Thanks, Rebecca, and your card was so sweet! Anna Dressed in Blood came from a Tor giveaway. I've heard so many good things about this. Yay! Will be reading soon.

Awkward - Marni Bates / Anna Dressed in Blood - Kendare Blake

I was also incredibly lucky to win an ARC of Palace of Stone, the sequel to Princess Academy, which I freaking loved. The degree to which I am excited about this really cannot be overstated! Thanks to Shannon Hale for the giveaway and to Bloomsbury for being awesome!

 Palace of Stone - Shannon Hale

From Random House via Random Buzzers:
Okay, I actually just finished reading this one, but I purchased it with my buzz bucks and now have my very own copy. These books will probably get reread, because they're so fun and comforting. There's someone for everyone, right? Right?

The Queen's Lady - Eve Edwards

From NetGalley:
As ever, I troll NetGalley constantly looking for awesome things. Really excited to have found The Glimpse hidden back in the 400s. Also found Glitch! Squee! Thanks to Oni Press, Dark Horse, David C. Cook, Faber and Faber, and St. Martin's Griffin for these awesome titles!

 Courtney Crumrin and the Coven of Mystics - Ted Naifeh / Orchid, Volume 1 - Tom Morello / Freaks of the Heartland - Steve Niles

Glamorous Illusions - Lisa T. Bergren / Glitch - Heather Anastasiu / The Glimpse - Claire Merle

Friday, April 20, 2012

Everything's Not Lost - Coldplay

Possess

Author: Gretchen McNeil
Pages: 379
Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Description from Goodreads:
Rule #1: Do not show fear.
Rule #2: Do not show pity.
Rule #3: Do not engage.
Rule #4: Do not let your guard down.
Rule #5: They lie.


Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her mom, by the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, it turns out the voices are demons – and Bridget has the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from.

Terrified to tell people about her new power, Bridget confides in a local priest who enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession. But just as she is starting to come to terms with her new power, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the demons' plan before someone close to her winds up dead – or worse, the human vessel of a demon king.


First Sentence: "Bridget stared at the clock on the wall and cursed its painfully slow progression toward three fifteen."

Review:
Bridget Liu is a whiner. Seriously. She's one of those heroine's that's all 'waaah, I have a special power, but I just want to be normal.' Just get over it! I mean, yeah, of all the powers out there being able to exorcize people wouldn't exactly be my power of choice, but you've got it, so you might as well deal with it instead of complaining about it.

That's the thing, though, Bridget's pretty unhappy with pretty much everything in her life, and she whines about it constantly. However, she makes little to no effort to change any of these things. She doesn't want to help people with her powers, but she comes running to help whenever the priests ask her too. She doesn't like her mom dating so soon after her dad's death, but instead of calmly discussing it with her she ignores it and then throws temper tantrums. She claims to dislike Matt Quinn, who I am affectionately calling 'Hottie Stalker,' yet she continues to agree to hang out with him, all the while bemoaning the circumstances that brought her there (namely, her choosing to be there with him), in between fits of swooning mentally about how hot he is.

Even worse than her perpetual plaintive protestations, though, is the fact that they all take place next to her thoughts about what a badass she is. If you just heard her internal monologue, except for the part where she melts into a puddle of goo when super sexy Matt does anything, you might think this heroine was a tough, take no prisoners, straight up biatch. Seriously, she even called herself a badass in her thoughts, only a few pages after she congratulated herself on having strong Matt to protect her now. UGH!

You may be wondering about my moniker for Matt that I mentioned earlier. He is constantly showing up where she is, inquiring about where she's been, and talking to her mom (both in person and on the phone). They may have been childhood friends, and they may sort of be close now, but that's weird. In addition to Hottie Stalker, there's also Awkward Stalker. Bad luck, right? She has two freaking stalkers. The other one is one of her two best friends, Peter Kim. Peter's been obsessed with her for years, and, apparently, despite being friends for so long, she can't talk to him about anything because he'll interrupt her to repeatedly say how much he loves her. He's constantly getting jealous about her relationship with Matt and seems to know things about her he shouldn't. Yet, they are still friends.

The Peter Kim thing bothered me from the very beginning. He has the most pathetic crush on Bridget, which is fine, except that this apparently has to mean he becomes a creepy stalker. Part of the problem could be how wishy-washy Bridget is, although I think he still should have figured it out by now, but, in real life, most guys would just hide their crush. Plus, the third person in their friend group, sassy gay friend Hector, just makes everything worse. He constantly forces the conversation back to the Bridget-Peter drama. Who does that? These people just did not feel at all like real friends, or real people really.

The fantasy elements were a bit off-putting to me as well. Here's the things: the book came across as very religious. I mean, obviously that's a danger with a topic like demons/angels, but it can be done less heavy-handedly than this. Of the angel/demon books I've read, this one definitely seemed to be the most religion-oriented, which may be because of the creepy priests telling her what to do all of the time or who knows what. Maybe it's just me. I also found the plot trite and predictable; the writing weak.

Obviously, I did not care for this one. However, I do intend to give McNeil's new novel Ten a try, because the plot sounds very And Then There Were None. Anyway, I do think people who enjoy the novels of Kimberly Derting and Courtney Alison Moulton, both who offered blurbs for the back cover of the book, might enjoy Possess.

Rating: 1.5/5

"When I'm counting up my demons.
Saw there was one for every day.
With the good ones on my shoulder,
I drove the other ones away.

If you ever feel neglected,

If you think all is lost,
I'll be counting up my demons, yeah,
Hoping everything's not lost.
When you thought that it was over,
You could feel it all around,
Everybody's out to get you,
Don't you let it drag you down.
Cos if you ever feel neglected,
If you think that all is lost,
I'll be counting up my demons, yeah.
Hoping everything's not lost
"

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Be OK - Ingrid Michaelson

The Singles

Author: Meredith Goldstein
Pages: 241
ARC Acquired from: Plume via NetGalley

Description from Goodreads:
Take an instantly recognizable social dilemma—attending a wedding alone—add a good laugh (and maybe a cry), and meet The Singles, the warm and witty debut by Boston Globe “Love Letters” columnist Meredith Goldstein.

Beth “Bee” Evans’s first vow as a bride is that everyone on her list be invited to bring a guest to her lavish, Chesapeake Bay nuptials. When Hannah, Vicki, Rob, Joe, and Nancy one by one decline Bee’s generous offer, the frustrated bride dubs them the “Singles,” adrift on her seating chart as well as in life.


First Sentence: "Twenty-nine-year-old bride-to-be Beth Eleanor Evans, a slender, freckled, strawberry blonde whom people called Bee because of her initials, stood in front of the whiteboard she'd purchased that day at the Target off Route 103."

Review:
As one of the perpetually single, I knew that I had to read this book. I've barely been in a relationship, and certainly not in a long-term, plus-one to events type one. Without a doubt, I am approaching the age where I will be grouped into the socially awkward, not paired off group known as the singles. Of course, I'm only 24, so most of my best friends are still unattached as well. But, I know the time is coming - we all do - when people will start dropping like flies into marriage and babies. Being one of the ones left behind can be awkward.

My usual book fare (teen books) actually prompts thoughts about this too. So many fictional works, especially 'girl' books, but a lot of 'boy' books too, focus on relationships, on romance, on true love. Even in high school, there's this conception of the couples and the people stuck going solo, and an idea that the single people are lesser, are messed up in some way. Unsurprisingly, as a single person, I do not approve of this, which is not to say that I think that couples are bad either. I just think relationship status should not be such a big deal.

What drove me crazy is that there are two single ladies at the wedding, all of whom are absurd in different ways. Why do they have to be weird to be single? One is still obsessed with a former boyfriend, even though they broke up freaking ages ago. The other suffers depression, which she treats with a special lamp. Gah! The single men at the wedding are clearly not married by choice, rather than because their significant other left them or because of being crazy.

As I read on, I did get a bit more swept up into the story, and I was certainly alarmed/disappointed to find that it just ended. Although the opening scenes were somewhat as expected, the story definitely developed some depth as it went along, focusing less on who fell in love with whom at the wedding, which is what would happen if this were just chick lit, and on the group's development as people.

All told, this was a pretty fun read, but it wasn't precisely my cup of tea either. The only character I really bonded with was Rob, since all of the others were going crazy over the weekend. Not sure who exactly I recommend this too, but I guess if you find the premise interesting, go for it!

Rating: 2.5/5

"Open me up and you will see
I'm a gallery of broken hearts
I'm beyond repair, let me be
And give me back my broken parts

I just want to know today, know today, know today

I just want to know something today
I just want to know today, know today, know today
Know that maybe I will be ok
"

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Me and the Moon - Something Corporate

Shadows on the Moon

Author: Zoë Marriott
Pages: 447
ARC Acquired from: Candlewick Press via NetGalley

Description from Goodreads:
Trained in the magical art of shadow-weaving, sixteen-year-old Suzume is able to re-create herself in any form - a fabulous gift for a girl desperate to escape her past. But who is she really? Is she a girl of noble birth living under the tyranny of her mother's new husband, Lord Terayama? Or a lowly drudge scraping a living in the ashes of Terayama's kitchens? Or is she Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands? Whatever her true identity, Suzume is destined to use her skills to steal the heart of a prince in a revenge plot to destroy Terayama. And nothing will stop her, not even the one true aspect of her life- her love for a fellow shadow-weaver.

First Sentence: "On my fourteenth birthday, when the sakura was in full bloom, the men came to kill us."

Review:
The opening of this novel definitely grabbed my attention. I mean, her family is attacked, most of them killed, and there are the first signs of her power. Um, awesome and tragic? I think so. On top of some of her family members dying, Suzume also has to deal with the fact that since her dad was marked a traitor, if anyone finds the remaining members, they too will be killed, as will anyone who helps them. Yikes, right?

This is a thing that happens a lot in history and probably now too. People get judged based on the actions of a single family member. For example, in Escape from Camp 14, which I read a few weeks ago, if a family member is found guilty of treason, the whole family is condemned to a camp...for generations. Families are raised in the camps; they have schools, because even the kids born after the incident are guilty of whatever their parents or grandparents did, so they can't leave. Argh! This makes no freaking sense, so how about we stop doing it! People can't help their families!

Oh, also inspired by this book is a rant about being a woman. Basically, it can be summed up into the following: it sucks to be a woman! Certainly, it sucked hardcore to be a woman in the past. While this book is definitely not straight historical fiction, I don't doubt the accuracy of every single female being completely at mercy of male society. Argh! Whoever it was that originally decided women should be second class citizens, I hope he never got any and I hope he's in the special hell. 

Anyway, done ranting now and going back to the book. I loved it, even if it did make me ranty. Most historical fiction does that to me, because the way people were treated just makes me so mad. The storytelling is completely beautiful. I spent much of the book trying to figure out if it was history with a small fantasy element or a history based on Japan. It seems to be a combination of both, a retelling set in a fairy tale Japan. Whatever that means. Definitely not 'History,' because I'm pretty sure Onieto's country does not really exist, and that, even if it does exist somewhere in Africa, there was no trade with Japan. Marriott openly says at the end that this not intended to be history at all.

Speaking of Onieto, my goodness does Marriott know how to write a scene to make the reader swoon. He's amazing. I love how he accepts Suzume with any name and any face. I love that he can sense her. I love how sweet he is to her, and how much respect he has for her. Which, of course, meant that every time Suzume breaks his heart because she feels as though she is unworthy of love, I wanted to smack her upside the head and tell her to lock it down. If someone amazing is willing to love you, accept that miracle, don't push them away to create a self-fulfilling prophecy about your not deserving love!

I mentioned that this is a retelling of a fairy tale. Apparently, the fairy tale in question is Cinderella. I would never have figured that out, had I not read reviews by other bloggers. While I totally sensed the fairy tale-ish quality too it, the story definitely didn't bring a particular tale to mind, nor, thinking of Cinderella, am I especially convinced. Only very loosely does it fit my conceptions of Cinderella at all. Some liberal changes have been made. I approve of what Marriott has done, but it just came out feeling more like her own story than a retelling, if that makes any sense. Actually, the more I think on it, the more impressed I am about the skews she put on the original fairy tale, like how her evil step-mother is a combination of her step-father and her jealous mother. Ouch.

Suzume can be hard to like sometimes. She makes a lot of bad decisions, blinded by her pain and her hurt. Rather than dealing with her admittedly awful life in healthy ways, she cuts herself and throws herself at vengeance. She's much colder and more calculating than a lot of YA heroines, a lot less interested in love or her own well-being. Still, I could not help but root for her, both because she was a mess for a reason and because I love Onieto.

Shadows on the Moon is haunting and beautiful. Though I was not previously familiar with Marriott's work, you had better believe I'll be hunting more of it down!

Rating: 4/5

Favorite Quote: "Better naked and alive than decent and dead, I thought."

"Away with these nightmares
Away with suburbia
Shake down away
You marry a role and
You give up your soul til you break down

'It's me and the moon,' she says

'I got no trouble with that, but i am a butterfly, you wouldn't let me die'
 'It's me and the moon,' she says"

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