Monday, May 28, 2012

One... Two... Three.... BREAK.

My work schedule this week is ridiculous. I usually do 3 nights in a row, but this week they have me scheduled EVERY OTHER NIGHT. I don't know what I did for this kind of cruelty, but it's not really conducive to being any sort of productive in life. So I'm bowing out for this week, until the madness is over. In fact, I'm going back to sleep right now. I seriously sleep all friggin' day. I'm feeling quite vampy.

See you guys soon :)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

In My Mailbox (56)

IMM is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

It's been awhile since I've purchased any books, but I treated myself this week :)


For Review
Burn for Burn by Siobhan Vivian and Jenny Han
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Bought
Twice Tempted by a Rogue by Tessa Dare
Three Nights with a Scoundrel by Tessa Dare
Double Cross by Carolyn Crane
Wicked in Your Arms by Sophie Jordan
Tempting the Best Man by J. Lynn

Gifted
Wrecked by Anna Davies (thanks, Tara!)

And in case you missed anything I posted this week...

Review: Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols
Photo Review: In Which I Ugly Cry over Harry Potter
A Peek at My TBR: Historical Romance!
Review: Black Dawn by Rachel Caine
Review: Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Friday, May 25, 2012

My Thoughts: Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie


Published: August 31, 2004
St. Martin's Press, paperback
Source: Purchased
GR Summary: Minerva Dobbs knows that happily-ever-after is a fairy tale, especially with a man who asked her to dinner to win a bet. Even if he is gorgeous and successful Calvin Morrisey. Cal knows commitment is impossible, especially with a woman as cranky as Min Dobbs. Even if she does wear great shoes, and keep him on his toes. When they say good-bye at the end of their evening, they cut their losses and agree never to see each other again.

But Fate has other plans, and it's not long before Min and Cal meet again. Soon, they're dealing with a jealous ex-boyfriend, Krispy Kreme donuts, a determined psychologist, chaos theory, a freakishly intelligent cat, Chicken Marsala, and more risky propositions than either of them ever dreamed of. Including the biggest gamble of all-true love.

I don't know why, but I don't read a lot of adult fiction. Being in my mid-20s, you would think I'd have a full track record. Well, I don't. But I have awesome blogger friends who are filled to the brim with recommendations for my first foray into adult romance. BE T ME had some seriously delightful moments and hilarious banter. It was not without flaws, but color me convinced to read more romance!

Min has been dealt a rough hand when it comes to family and relationships. Her mother is HORRID (let my mom try and tell me to lay off the carbs. LET HER TRY.) and she's just been dumped by some douchebag because she wont sleep with him. So I'd imagine her to be a little less doormat-y when she overhears said douchebag betting this hot guy he can't get her into bed. But no, SHE GOES ON THE DATE. Luckily, a series of tension-filled and entertaining events ensue.

See, here's the thing. I get that Min is not a size 0. I understand that she's a bigger girl (by the way, when did "almost a size 8" become fat? I think not.) and while I understand that it's pertinent to the story, the fact that we are FREQUENTLY reminded that she's "fat" got very off-putting after awhile. I didn't care that she was overweight. I just wanted to read about her and Cal and their romantic shenangans.

Aside from that teensy rant, this reading experience was seriously enjoyable. It was refreshing for the characters to be like me: working and jaded. (HA!) I will absolutely be reading more adult romance in the very near future.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

My Thoughts: Black Dawn by Rachel Caine


Published: May 1, 2012
NAL, hardcover
Source: Tara (thank you!)
GR Summary: In Last Breath, the rain brought a new and dire threat to Morganville and its vampires... their ancient enemies, the draug. Now, the vampires are fighting a losing war, and it will fall to the residents of the Glass House: Michael, Eve, Shane and Claire, to take the fight to an enemy who threatens to destroy the town, forever.

Lovers of Morganville, rejoice: Black Dawn takes the intrigue, romance and nail-biting suspense of the series to its highest level yet!

Really, it's ridiculous that I even have to review this book when I could just post a picture of myself making the "show me your grill" face, smiling so wide, showing SO many teeth that you guys would think I'm a vampire or a shark or some crap like that. And wouldn't that be appropriate?

Black Dawn is no exception. I think Rachel Caine might be a witch. You know how the witch in Snow White like, eats people's hearts or whatever to stay young looking? Well.... I don't think Rachel Caine does that. But there is some sort of trickery going on where she can write 748 books about the same characters in the same town and everything is STILL. SO. GOOD.

Except this one was actually hard to read. Because one of my beloved characters goes through a really tough time mentally. AH, I can't say much because it will so spoil it. It's difficult to not spoil anything after 13 books. But Claire, in her ever continuous growth into supreme high bad ass, keep her composure despite her world crumbling around her. ALL OF MORGANVILLE is in peril. This book made me sad, deeply. I can't stand watching these characters with whom I've spent the previous 12 books in the midst of their suffering.

But there's always Myrnin. He cheers me up. I'm going to quote Caine, however, at RT in Chicago. "You won't be happy about what I do to him in future books." Just a forewarning. I am not looking forward to this. Still, I am in love with him.

Rachel Caine, please write this series until your hands fall off.

Love,
Jen

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Peek at My TBR (20): Historical Romance Edition

Disclaimer: these are books that I WANT to read and are on my TBR list, not books that I necessarily own (unfortunately!) And if I do have any of them on my shelf, I'll specify :)

A Peek At My TBR is a feature inspired by Waiting on Wednesday by Jill at Breaking the Spine and Books To Pine For by The Story Siren. I did WoW for awhile, but honestly, there's never only one book I'm "waiting" on. And a lot of the books that I "pine for" aren't just up-and-coming books. There's still a ton of oldies but goodies that I'm just now discovering or want to read soon, and I feel like those deserve some recognition as well as the fresh meat.

Lessons from a Scandalous Bride by Sophie Jordan
Published: July 31, 2012
Own a Copy?: No
Why I Want It: Well, let's see. I'm already a humongous fan of Sophie Jordan, thanks to her Firelight series. She knows how to amp up her alpha males. And I sure do love me some alpha males. Then I met her at RT and she's all, "why don't you try my adult series? If you love Cassian (AND I DO!), you'll probably love the men in my Forgotten Princesses series." So I tried book one, Wicked in Your Arms, yesterday and OMG SHE'S RIGHT. Plowed through that shiz like my eyeballs were on fire. Next, please.



A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean
Published: February 28, 2012
Own a Copy? No
Why I Want to Read It: BECAUSE, you guys. Historical romance is my new shiz. I have seen the light. I'm glad I have Sarah MacLean's Nine Rules books on hand, because after this review book I'm reading, IT IS ON. There's just something about that fairy tale prince. PLUS, these heroines are my age and I don't feel awkward swooning over literary adults. They're all strong female who don't ride side-saddle and manly manly men who rule kingdoms and what not. It's like Sleeping Beauty but BETTER. And I wouldn't mind if there was a villain as evil as Maleficent, really. Bitch was cray.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Harry Potter: A Sepia-Toned Photographic Reaction Post

And hey, it's spoiler-free!

I think I'm the last person on the planet to read the Harry Potter series. After tireless efforts from my friends, both in person and online, I finally gave in once I was presented with the opportunity to listen to the audiobooks. I was all over that shizz. ALL OVER IT.

I can't sufficiently put my feelings for this absolutely life-changing series into words. There were so many emotions. So many different facial expressions that I made. I'd rather show you than tell you. (And I invited my good friend Sepia to the party, because she makes the ugly cry just slightly less ugly.)

None of the books, however, ripped me apart the way that Deathly Hallows did, as you'll see below.

OH HECK NO.

GTFO.

UGLY CRY.

UGLIER CRY.

ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME?

MARRY ME FOREVER, BOOK!


My Thoughts: Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols


Published: March 17, 2009
MTV Books, paperback
Source: Bought
GR Summary: All Meg has ever wanted is to get away. Away from high school. Away from her backwater town. Away from her parents who seem determined to keep her imprisoned in their dead-end lives. But one crazy evening involving a dare and forbidden railroad tracks, she goes way too far...and almost doesn't make it back.

John made a choice to stay. To enforce the rules. To serve and protect. He has nothing but contempt for what he sees as childish rebellion, and he wants to teach Meg a lesson she won't soon forget. But Meg pushes him to the limit by questioning everything he learned at the police academy. And when he pushes back, demanding to know why she won't be tied down, they will drive each other to the edge -- and over....


Holy Johnafter. There's no point in dividing Johnafter into two names. It's so much better as a triple syllabic expression of swoon and sexytimes.

I am praising the book fairies and Jesus and Ceiling Cat and ALL OF THE ENTITIES that I have finally clicked with a Jennifer Echols book. I've enjoyed her others okay enough, but Going Too Far has swept me off my feet to a faraway land of nice, ethical policemen who aren't all donutted and globular. (Obviously imaginary because I've never seen one of these figures to exist.)

I knew there were multiple levels to this story. Meg's rebellion and blue hair and pot-smoking. Johnafter's geographical stagnation and wounded glances toward The Bridge. I KNEW IT. And when two damaged characters are thrown together by fate and lust, yet are bound to fall in the most epic of loves, nothing bad can come of this.

I pummeled through this story like my life depended on it. Like a freight train. Meg was such a BITCH sometimes, but I loved her, even if I didn't agree with all the pushing away she was doing. GO with it, girl. Don't fight the feeling anymore. You've forgotten what you started fighting foooooorrr. And so on. Even the minute details, like how fabulous she was with her illiterate coworker and how she allowed herself to be a guinea pig for recipes (even if there are 1/2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper involved.)

And JOHNAFTER. I don't even know what else to say about this man except if the entire police force could take a page from his book, the world would be a better place. And donut shop employees wouldn't know what to do with themselves.

I have said it before, and I'll say it again: Jennifer Echols has masterful skills in sexual tension. She must've taken classes on the matter. Perhaps she's obtained a Ph.D. I don't know. But whatever it is, she needs to keep doing it. And maybe consider selling those misty spray bottles with fans attached to them with her books as a package deal.

My heart is full and I'm fanning myself just a bit. This book has made me so happy.

Buy Going Too Far

Friday, May 18, 2012

My Thoughts: Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin


Published: April 24, 2012
HarperCollins
320 pages, hardcover
Source: publisher
GR Summary: Everything is in ruins.
A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them.
So what does Araby Worth have to live for?
Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.
But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for—no matter what it costs her.

So pretty much on the Poe retellings, Louisville authors are 2 for 2. Everyone knows my feelings about Kelly Creagh's Nevermore (and if you don't, familiarize yourself!) and I've been waiting approximately 2 billion and a half years for the sequel, Enshadowed. But that's beside the point. The point is: authors from my state rock.

I didn't previously know that Bethany Griffin lived in KY, so I was going into Masque of the Red Death completely unbiased. I'm going to warn you in advance, you'll probably just need to clear out a good 4 hours (or 3 or 5, depending on how fast you read) to allow yourself adequate time to devour this novel in one sitting. You won't want to be disturbed.

Glamorously diseased, this book is. There are people running around the streets with pus oozing from every pore trying to infect the uninfected, who still go out and party it up at the Debauchery Club. Appropriately named, considering what really does take place within. Araby has a painful past, and she heads out with BFF April to escape the torture of her own mind. But there's a beacon of light in such a desolate world, because there is not only one, but TWO, dreamboat boys within. Both of whom have some darkness of their own.

Once you get past the groaning about a love triangle, let me assure you this is no ordinary love triangle. These are not cookie cutter characters with one dimensional personalities and hearts of gold. Well, sure they have good hearts, but judgment can be clouded by desperation. Such is the case in Masque of the Red Death. Will, the sensitive, tatted bouncer or Elliott, the devious poet with eyes set on a revolution. I was so confused. I DIDN'T KNOW WHO TO TRUST. At all. I can usually stake out a person and devote my loyalty and buy my "Team ______" t-shirt and root for them the whole way through. But I, like poor Araby, was left completely in the dark. It's unreliability at its finest and I am desperate for more of these characters. Bethany Griffin, seriously. SERIOUSLY? (They're both scorching. FYI.)

This book enraptured me so. If this book came up to me and slung its pretty words at me in a dark club, I wouldn't turn it down. There are evils around every corner, such an overwhelming darkness (but a tortured love story! I LOVE struggles!), revolutions and rebellions, a crooked prince, family betrayals, jealousy. You guys this book has EVERYTHING.

Don't make me beg you to buy this. Because I'm not above that. At all.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My Thoughts: When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle


Published: May 1, 2012
Simon Pulse
334 pages, hardcover
Source: eARC from publisher
GoodReads Summary: What’s in a name, Shakespeare? I’ll tell you: Everything. Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her—and when he finally does, it’s perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose’s best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy...and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn’t even stand a chance. Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. This is not how the story was supposed to go. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet’s instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob’s heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends…
My only exposure to Romeo and Juliet is the Baz Luhrmann film with Leonardo & Claire. Rosaline, you say? Who was Rosaline? Was she in the movie? Sorry, I must've been too enraptured by this.


Anyway, I went into this with little to absolutely no knowledge about this Rosaline character. But after the fact? Juliet. YOU WENCH. Rosaline is obviously the clear choice for Romeo. She's the one that's been there the whole time. THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO BE TOGETHER. Juliet came out of left field with flowing hair and pretty words and promises.

Rosie was a far more patient character than I would've been. The book was a little slow in the beginning, if only because of the fact that all of Rosie's internal monologue was fixated on her Romeo, Rob. Look, they've been friends forever. The whole entire world school expects them to be together forever and have lots of babies. You could feel her anticipation and anxiety and excitement over it. Imagine it: the boy you've been in love with forever FINALLY asks you out and all the planets are about to align for one night while you share a kiss that could make the Pope weep. And Rob was SWOONY, you guys. I thought he was so sweet and careful and even a little endearingly awkward.

Guys, I didn't think I was going to enjoy this book very much. The beginning was slow-going but once Juliet came around, my pitchfork hand was getting a little stabby. Rebecca Serle ignited a fire in my heart. She made me want to cry a little and sing angry Adele songs to this book at 3:00am. I felt so bad for Rose, but she handled it like a lady. I know this is Shakespeare and it already has its ending, but I wish Rosie got a chance to get a couple sucker punches in, at least.

The good part? We get TWO love stories packed into one little book. And I'm quite partial to the latter of the two. Very sweet, though I wish the term "greasy hair" wouldn't have been thrown around to describe him. Unless he's pulling a Danny Zuko or Ross Gellar, greasy-looking hair? Not hot.

Ultimately, the moral of the story is: don't fall in love with beautiful people OR your cousin's boyfriend, because you will die.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Peek at My TBR (19)

Disclaimer: these are books that I WANT to read and are on my TBR list, not books that I necessarily own (unfortunately!) And if I do have any of them on my shelf, I'll specify :)


A Peek At My TBR is a feature inspired by Waiting on Wednesday by Jill at Breaking the Spine and Books To Pine For by The Story Siren. I did WoW for awhile, but honestly, there's never only one book I'm "waiting" on. And a lot of the books that I "pine for" aren't just up-and-coming books. There's still a ton of oldies but goodies that I'm just now discovering or want to read soon, and I feel like those deserve some recognition as well as the fresh meat.


Eon by Alison Goodman

Published: December 26, 2008

Own a Copy?: Yes

Why I Want to Read It:I confess... my reading pile is sinfully devoid of fantasy novels. I mean, I've

read things like Graceling and Brightly Woven and LOVED them. But not hardcore FAN-TA-SY. What's my excuse, really? I love ANYTHING to do with The Legend of Zelda and that's fantasy. So why do I avoid it in my books? I DON'T KNOW. Also, that's a chunker of a book. It's OBESE and I'm not the fastest reader. This intimidates me. But it sounds so friggin' good. Comes at the recommendation of April.




Dreamless by Josephine Angelini

Published: May 29, 2012

Own a Copy? Edelweiss

Why I Want to Read It: I LOVED Starcrossed, though I can't remember how it ended. Fail. Plus, I met Josephine at RT and she very well might be the most gorgeous person alive. So sure, I'm superficial. Whatever. I loved the chemistry between Helen and Lucas in Starcrossed. Aaaand it looks like another wrench is thrown into their starcrossedness. I LOVE LOVE TRIANGLES! HATERS TO THE LEFT! (I don't know what that phrase means, but I mean it.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Top Ten Reasons Why I Would Suck as a YA Heroine



Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and thought up by my wonderfully inventive bookish BFF Jamie!

This is a freebie week, so I'm going to go ahead and use this as an opportunity to go ahead and address a topic that's been swimming in my head for awhile. No one should write a YA book about me or even loosely base a YA character off my traits. I would make a horrendous YA heroine. Here's why:


1) I Don't Run. Guys, all YA heroines are runners. Like, they RUN for FUN. If I had to use a doctor's note to get out of running in 8th grade track (hey, I only wanted to do high jump and I had asthma attacks sometimes!) then there's no freaking way I'd be able to go on a daily, brooding 10-mile run like these girls do. I couldn't even outrun a mythical beast if my life depended on it. No one wants to read about the heroine that dies in the big chase scene.

2) I Can't Solve Riddles/Mysteries. What's with all these ladies that are in the depths of despair and looking certain death right in the face, yet STILL have that lightbulb moment at the last moment and save the world? YEAH FREAKING RIGHT. My mind goes completely blank when I feel endangered or threatened. I'd probably just run away. And we all know how that ends.

3) I Have No Super Secret Abilities. I can touch my tongue to my nose on command. But I don't think that will help slay any dragons anytime soon.

4) I Have Blonde Hair. You know the prototype for YA novels is you have to be naturally wispy thin with more voluminous long, dark hair than anyone knows what to do with. My hair is light and I am sturdier than a size 00. (How is that even a size?)

5) I Wear Considerable Amounts of Makeup. You know the girl who is like "I only wear chapstick?" NOT ME. Nope. My morning routine is the whole shebang. Foundation, concealer for the uneven skin tone, powder, 3 different eyeshadow colors, TONS of mascara. YA heroines are naturally beautiful and don't need makeup or have big pores. I don't wake up and have songbirds singing of my timeless beauty. I have my husband running in the opposite direction because IT IS SCARY.

6) I've Never Read Anything the Bronte Sisters Have Written. Total deal breaker.

7) I Wasn't a Straight-A Student or Have My Sights Set on the Ivy League. Please. I had no time to be both studying and taking all the naps I did in high school. I didn't have Edward pressuring me to kick ass on all my tests and put in all my applications to Harvard and Dartmouth and Yale. I was a lazy student. Paranormal creatures do not like that.

8) My Relationship with a Control Freak Wouldn't Last Long. Wait, I'm cut off from all my friends and you don't like my Beer Saturdays? NEXT.

9) One Brush with Death and I'd Need Therapy. The successful YA heroine overcomes danger by taking that experience, learning from it, and becoming a stronger person mentally and sword-wieldingly. I would need Xanax and to use a good chunk of FMLA.

10) I'm Old. But maybe I could play a secondary character in the TV show or movie? 20-somethings as teen characters ALWAYS work out.

Monday, May 14, 2012

My Thoughts: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga


Published: April 3, 2012
Little, Brown Books
359 pages, hardcover
Source: publisher
GR Summary: What if the world's worst serial killer...was your dad?

Jasper (Jazz) Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.

But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could--from the criminal's point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo's Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret--could he be more like his father than anyone knows?


I think I lost quite a bit of my sanity in the process of reading I Hunt Killers. To say this book is not for the faint of heart (mind, stomach, etc.) is a bit of an understatement. It's similar to saying "Damon Salvatore is easy on the eyes, I suppose," or "cheese might be the in the top 100 foods of all time." (PLEASE. It's the best food.) Another understatement? To say that my attention was piqued a little by Barry Lyga's I Hunt Killers. Bish, please. My attention was shanghaied and held captive for the full 359.

This is the best serial killer book I've ever read. Not that my track record is extensive, but HOLY CRAP. Do I even NEED to read any others? I've been captivated by those serial killer shows before, but this seemed more real, more threatening than any real person I've seen on those murder documentaries. To read about Billy Dent--a man and father who has tortured, tormented, sexually assaulted, and purposefully and jovially disfigured the bodies of over a hundred women and men--through the eyes of his son, Jasper "Jazz" Dent was positively frightening. I dreaded that italicized print that meant Jazz was reliving one of the many, for lack of a better term, murder lessons from his father. Realizing through Jasper all his similarities to his father practically had me shielding my eyes because I DIDN'T WANT IT TO BE TRUE.

This book was visceral. I could feel it in my freaking bones. And I, the genius that I am, figured it'd be a good idea to stay up until crazy hours to finish this book. I Hunt Killers MESSED WITH MY MIND. I found myself thinking, in my delirious, overtired state, "wait, is he talking to Jazz or me? Is this book real? IS BILLY DENT MY FREAKING FATHER?" And long after I finished, even after looking at recipes and cat photos on Pinterest, found my brain always led me back to Billy Dent.

I think the scariest part of this book, other than Jasper questioning his own motives and goodness, was that Billy Dent was so matter-of-fact and happy at his "accomplishments." Dude legitimately thought he was doing a pleasurable, positive thing. He didn't see people as people. Just conquests. PROSPECTS. And the fact that Barry Lyga could write this character so flawlessly and fluidly? Well, that scares me. But in a good way. And that ending will haunt me until the sequel is released. I foresee many more nights of Billy creeping into my brain randomly and causing me to pull up my covers just a little tighter.

I Hunt Killers is so different from any book I would normally read. A mystery at the core, it's also a boy's struggle between what he knows to be right and what his murderous father taught him to be right. This is a horribly disturbing read. There's blood, gore, ostentatious killing without remorse that is almost sportly. But oh man, this is horror at its finest. The worst kind of horror. The dark, gnarled insides of a killer/s mind through a boy who just might be a killer himself.

Buy I Hunt Killers... If you aren't afraid to scare yourself just a little.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

In My Mailbox (55)

IMM is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

I haven't really bought any books in the last few weeks, which is the reason I haven't had an IMM up. I did order one amazingly awesome book that I cannot wait to read. And of course, Edelweiss and NetGalley are always amazing.



For Review
Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
Dreamless by Josephine Angelini
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
Timepiece by Myra McIntire
Glitch by Heather Anastasiu
One Moment by Kristina McBride

Bought/Gifted
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
The Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy by E.L. James (yeah, yeah...)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

My Audiobook Thoughts: Always a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

  • Published: August 1, 2011
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • 7 discs, audiobook
GR Summary: The adventures of Tam and Gabriel continue with more time travel, Talents, spy work, and of course, the evil Knights. Since the gripping conclusion of Once A Witch, Tamsin Greene has been haunted by her grandmother's prophecy that she will soon be forced to make a crucial decision—one so terrible that it could harm her family forever. When she discovers that her enemy, Alistair Knight, went back in time to Victorian-era New York in order to destroy her family, Tamsin is forced to follow him into the past. Stranded all alone in the nineteenth century, Tamsin soon finds herself disguised as a lady's maid in the terrifying mansion of the evil Knight family, avoiding the watchful eye of the vicious matron, La Spider, and fending off the advances of Liam Knight. As time runs out, both families square off in a thrilling display of magic. And to her horror, Tamsin finally understands the nature of her fateful choice

WARNING: SPOILERS FOR ONCE A WITCH.
(Might you want to read my review? You do?! It's right here.)

I really enjoyed the audio book of Once a Witch, so I was raising the roof at the fact that I had its sequel on standby, This narrator brings it, yet again. The book would've kept my interest on its own, but knowing that the person reading--no, ACTING--the story was clearly enjoying herself was a treat, as well.

So Tamsin finds herself in another bind, except this one requires time travel. TIME TRAVEL. This book has a synergistic effect of awesome: witches and going back in time and a LONG-lived family feud. But I have a minor grievance: Gabriel was sorely absent for a good half of the book. HOWEVER, major applause for MacCullough letting Tamsin shine on her own. I sure was really looking forward to some T & G love, though, and kept waiting and waiting. But when he showed up, there was WAY too much to be done for much making out to happen. (There is always time to make out, just saying.)

Another minor problem I had: the action. If you'll recall from Once a Witch, there's a grudge that a certain Scottish BAMF is holding against Tamsin. I'd like to think he probably wants her not alive anymore. I was expecting a whole lot more rage and angst and teeth-baring. When the action should've been at its highest, I felt that Carolyn MacCullough pulled a bit of a Stephenie Meyer in Breaking Dawn. I wanted Pow! Zing! Bam! but received more of a soft-spoken "merp."

Always a Witch had a captivating premise and I loved learning more about the Green/Knight family histories. Tamsin solidified her status as resident awesome witch with a healthy dose of bravery and some ever-important sarcasm. She sacrifices a LOT in this book and my heart went out to her character for being SO strong and SO capable. Would I have enjoyed a few more magic moments with Tamsin and Gabriel? Well, I am only a woman. But Always a Witch was a solid sequel to Once a Witch, and I will be impatiently waiting for future MacCullough books!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Peek at my TBR (18)

Disclaimer: these are books that I WANT to read and are on my TBR list, not books that I necessarily own (unfortunately!) And if I do have any of them on my shelf, I'll specify :)

A Peek At My TBR is a feature inspired by Waiting on Wednesday by Jill at Breaking the Spine and Books To Pine For by The Story Siren. I did WoW for awhile, but honestly, there's never only one book I'm "waiting" on. And a lot of the books that I "pine for" aren't just up-and-coming books. There's still a ton of oldies but goodies that I'm just now discovering or want to read soon, and I feel like those deserve some recognition as well as the fresh meat.
Then You Were Gone by Lauren Strasnick
Published: January 8, 2013
Own a Copy?: No
Why I Want It: You guys, this book sounds straight up HAUNTING. There are all kinds of characteristics that could make this book something amazing. Plus, Simon Pulse never lets me down. Rumors, suicide notes, a missed call, a muffled voicemail from your best friend. This reeks of a mysterious, "up all night to finish because I will die if I don't," addicting reading experience. I cannot wait.

Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins
Published: October 25, 2011
Own a Copy? eBook
Why I Want to Read It: Well, Ginger tells me to read something and I usually do it. Sure, this isn't YA. But it'll be nice to swoon over a love interest that isn't 10 years my junior. OH, THE CREEPY PART OF YA. Anyway, this book sounds like one of those perfect, romantic feel-good books that I have come to know and love. Plus, she's not in high school, so automatically more relatable. Can't wait to dive into this one.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tune in Tuesday (4): Neon Trees and Beirut

Tune in Tuesday is hosted by Ginger at GReads! I share Ginger's fanatical love for music. Seriously, we text about songs all the time in the form of "OMG YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO THIS IT'S LIKE HARMONIC NOOKIE FOR YOUR EARS." It's one of my favorite things about her, so I don't know why I don't participate in this feature more often.
I saw Neon Trees in concert with My Chemical Romance last April. I had heard Animal prior to seeing them, but that's it. Tyler Glenn, lead singer, had me absolutely enraptured. His passion onstage, the sing-scream (over which I swoon x 1000), his dancing, EVERYTHING. Amazing. Not to mention a female drummer. BAD ASS. Neon Trees has a new album that was just released and I am absolutely obsessed. My favorite thing about this band? It's not sex and money with them. It's first glances and first kisses and anticipation. Like a YA book. And there's something ridiculously intriguing about that.

If their song Weekend doesn't make you get up and dance, there's a problem.


video credit foxyandginger

Beirut was really a fluke on my radar. One of my husband's students is a total music hipster and told me about Beirut. Seriously, I thought I listened to good music. Apparently I was wrong.

First listen to the studio version of Nantes.


video credit zabeus

Now the creative live version. Zach Condon has, as G puts it, Glorious Hair. And that VOICE and the tuba and accordion. And my God, is that a conch shell? I just died.


video credit zabeus

Monday, May 7, 2012

My Thoughts: Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Published: September 4, 2012
Farrar, Straus, & Giroux (BYR)
296 pages, hardcover
Source: publisher
GR Summary: Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.

Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.

THIS IS THE MERMAID BOOK I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR.

I can't even tell you guys. Listen, I've seen The Little Mermaid. I've sung "Part of Your World." And I know Ursula was crazy evil. But that was 1989, people. And that, to date, was the darkest mermaid story I've ever encountered (besides the original Hans Christian Andersen version.) So many mermaid books I've read since then have been fluff. And I'm okay with this, but I'm looking for it's grimy counterpart that shows the evil part of being an under the sea dweller. My search ends HERE.

As if you couldn't tell by the title, this is monstrous. Sure, that pretty mermaid is sending mixed signals, but these are vicious creatures bound to the sea by an absolutely grotesque sea witch (more on her, later.) There are two stories within Monstrous Beauty and, as Pastor McKee says within, "Everything es entertwined." You, Scottish pastor, are SO RIGHT.

The chapters within tell the story of Syrenka, mermaid, and Hester, mortal. Syrenka's story set in the late 1800s, Hester's in the present day. And they both meet and fall in love with the same guy. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE, you ask? I won't tell you that, because it will spoil the mind-bendy, constantly guessing and hypothesizing when you read the book. I'm not that cruel. It's half the fun. And the love story? It's beautiful. Tragic and scary and gruesome--YES, there is gore--but at its core, there is beauty.

And there are ghosts. And a long, drawn out curse. And some seriously disturbing sacrificial rituals. Honestly, can this book appeal to the paranormal fangirl in me ANY MORE? Throw in an evil, evil villain and my heart is forever promised to Elizabeth Fama.

Just my luck, the villain is terrifying. Noo'kas makes Ursula look like the baby octopus in Finding Nemo. Fama does such a ridiculously perfect job of describing Noo'kas and her underwater grotto (with minions!) that the words disintegrated from the pages and all I saw was the imagery. It was like a movie. The fluidity, the movement, the desolation, the GRIME... it was all right there in front of my eyes in technicolor.

This book is not for the faint of heart. But if you're looking for THAT mermaid book. That one that isn't all underwater BFFs and pink fins and purple shell bras, this is for you. If you can handle the seriously morbid. This book is dark, but so well done and so beautiful. No superficialities here, it's all deep. And everything IS intertwined.

Friday, May 4, 2012

My Thoughts: Fateful by Claudia Gray

Published: September 13, 2011
HarperTeen
328 pages, hardcover
Source: Jamie
Goodreads summary: When 17-year-old Tess Davies, a ladies' maid, meets handsome Alec Marlow aboard the RMS "Titanic," she quickly becomes entangled in the dark secrets of his past, but her growing love puts her in mortal peril even before fate steps in.

I didn't have much luck with Gray's Evernight series, but I thought with the concept of two things I adore (werewolves, Titanic), this book would be a humdinger for me. And see, this is why I sometimes get so upset with myself when I read books that should be awesome. Especially because I've heard good things about Fateful and ALL OF THE INGREDIENTS for a mind-blowing experience are wrapped in one pretty little package.

I'm sad to say: Fateful and I did not see sparks.

Tess plans on breaking free of the family she serves once they reach America. I think she was supposed to be spunky and rambunctious, but she came off pretty flat as a protagonist. The moment she meets Alec, her entire word is thrown askew and he's all she can think about. I wanted more fire from her. I wanted more of a struggle for the two of them to fall in love. I wanted her to actually be smart about her decisions when she was in danger (which was pretty much every other page), but it all felt very formulaic and the love story feels like so many that I've read before and did not believe.

And maybe this was just triggered by the fact that my heart and devotion were not in this book, but the werewolf mythology was hard for me to follow. I kept staring at the pages blankly, waiting for the pieces to come together as if by some ocular magnetic force I was shooting from my eyeballs, but it didn't happen.

A couple positive things? The villain. He was the scary sort. One of those scary villains who doesn't just want to kill people to get what he wants from them, but he wants to torture them in every way possible (and in every way pleasurable) to him. That is deathly frightening to me. I think Gray did a pretty good job at instilling a sense of OMG GET ME THE EFF OUT OF HERE fear with Mikhail as the bad guy.

Also, I liked Tess' roommate, Myriam, and Alec's father. I feel like they were the most fleshed out character in the entire book and hardly got the page time they deserved. Maybe that's why I thought they were so well done. There wasn't really a chance for them to get on my nerves.

A book about paranormal canines and the boat where Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet fell in quality instalove (THAT was believable, by the way) may very much warm so many people's hearts, but I need more than just that to quench my book thirst. The sinking of the Titanic was a terrible tragedy and the fact that the boat still sank was heartbreaking to me, but even that couldn't save Fateful from it's unfortunate....fate....to me.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My Thoughts: This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

Published: June 19, 2012
St. Martin's Griffin
336 pages, paperback
Source: Tara
goodreads Summary: It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?
__________________________

So it's not really a secret that I've become a Courtney Summers fan girl in the last several weeks. She is Queen of Angst, honestly. If you're feeling like you need to spew (because, you know, that's normal), just read a Summers book and your stomach WILL NOT SETTLE. So you know how with each subsequent Harry Potter movie, the Warner Brothers symbol got more and more gloomy-looking? THAT is how Courtney's books are. With each book, I tell myself "nope, not gonna cry this time," and it never works.

But this? THIS? TiNaT is rock bottom of gloomy. This establishes an entirely new calibur of depressing. And I loved it, even though I was so unsettled throughout the whole book. Sloane is such a pitiful character. I don't mean that as a dig at who she is, I just mean she's reached the end of her rope. Coming from a home of domestic abuse, losing Lily--her sister--and the only person she thought she could depend on, and now zombies? Granted they're never actually called zombies, more like "infected," but if it walks like a duck...

The hopeless desperation in TiNaT was what really got to me. Like "well, it's the end of the world. We can either throw in the towel or fight like hell to survive, though who knows what good it'll do us, really. THEY EAT PEOPLE FOR SHIZ AND GIGS." There's so much grief and loss and resignation to the fact that they're probably going to die that it probably wasn't the best idea for me to read this in the early morning hours when monsters could jump out of the closet or decapitated heads could come flying through my patio door (this is how I think at 4:00am) to send me into cardiac arrest, but you live, you learn.

I wave my Courtney Summers flag high. Sure, there are tears in my eyes and I think I may need literary anti-depressants post-book, but I will continue to read everything this woman writes, so long as she's okay with maybe paying my therapy bills.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Peek at My TBR (17)

Disclaimer: these are books that I WANT to read and are on my TBR list, not books that I necessarily own (unfortunately!) And if I do have any of them on my shelf, I'll specify :)

A Peek At My TBR is a feature inspired by Waiting on Wednesday by Jill at Breaking the Spine and Books To Pine For by The Story Siren. I did WoW for awhile, but honestly, there's never only one book I'm "waiting" on. And a lot of the books that I "pine for" aren't just up-and-coming books. There's still a ton of oldies but goodies that I'm just now discovering or want to read soon, and I feel like those deserve some recognition as well as the fresh meat.

The Evolution of Mara Dyer
Published: October 23, 2012
Own a Copy?: WAHHH.
Why I Want It: Mara Dyer was arguably my favorite read of 2011. I COULD NOT BRING IT IN MYSELF TO PUT IT DOWN. The romance. The mystery. And HELLO, unreliable protagonist. You might just be my absolute favorite aspect of any YA book ever. (Besides fanning myself, "I need a moment" romance.) I would do most anything to get my hands on this book. I WOULD HUNT UNICORNS. Oh, and in case you don't believe my love, here's my review of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.


7 Clues to Winning You by Kristin Walker
Published: April 26, 2012
Own a Copy? No
Why I Want to Read It: A Match Made in High School was EFFING hilarious and fun and I can only imagine what K. Walker has stirred up next. This one comes out soon, so I might need to get my Amazon on. AMAZON PRIME, FTW!

Edit: Aw, man. This is already out. But it wasn't when I wrote this post. WHOOPS.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tune in Tuesday (3): Givers and Ludo


Tune in Tuesday is hosted by Ginger at GReads! I share Ginger's fanatical love for music. Seriously, we text about songs all the time in the form of "OMG YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO THIS IT'S LIKE HARMONIC NOOKIE FOR YOUR EARS." It's one of my favorite things about her, so I don't know why I don't participate in this feature more often.

Upon listening to completely random music on Spotify lately, I've discovered this gem of a band called Givers. Best word I can use? INFECTIOUS. How has this not been in my life before? I can totally imagine myself screaming this down the highway and beating the unrhythmic piss out of my steering wheel (I could never play the drums, ever.) But that won't stop me from enjoying every single moment of listening to Givers. Male and female singers. Mumford and Sons-esque instrumentation mixed with synth and FUN? Check out Saw You First.


youtube video credit to Phatigue

Next up: LUDO. I've known about this band for a couple years now, but with the release of their new album Prepare the Preparations last year, I've taken it upon myself to renew and spread the Ludo Love. These guys, to put it plainly, are quirky as fffuuuuu. Go ahead and listen to the song that hooked me first, Love Me Dead. And yes, they're brushing their teeth and singing. That's AWESOME. And slightly revolting.


youtube video credit to ludotoothbrushing