September 29, 2013

Veronica Mars Watch-Along Week 20

[Graphic designed by the lovely Judith of Paper Riot]
So, how does this work, super sleuths? Go check out the Watch-Along kick off post for the skinny. I'll give you a second just in case...

All caught up? Good.

In case you already know the basics and just forgot what episodes are up today, here's the list:
  • "The Quick and the Wed"
  • "The Rapes of Graff"
And for NEXT WEEK:
  • "Plan B"
  • "I Am God"
Season two's almost over. You ready for the push to the finale?

So first up we have the case of the missing bachelorette. Which is fun because I liked watching that girl stick it to that jerk she was about to marry and his family. And Vinnie. Silly Vinnie.

But what's more interesting is what goes on with the bus crash and Logan (two separate things, both super interesting). First we find out that Veronica's gone to Keith with the info about the C4 in Terrence's hangar and then Keith goes to Lamb. Then Lamb is a jerk about it. And then Keith pretty much deduces that the C4 couldn't belong to Terrence. Then Terrence gets shot breaking into Ms. Dumas's house. Pretty crazy series of events, huh?

Onto Logan - so he's messing around with Hannah in order to get her father to retract his false testimony (which is reprehensible, at best). He succeeds and the case against him is dropped (one can only hope for good this time, but you never know). Then the first episode bleeds into the second and we find out that Logan does break up with Hannah because Mr. Griffith makes him and then he goes back on that and Mr. Griffith send Hannah away. Normally I'd be all sad for Logan but he kind of did this to himself. Actions and consequences, my love. 

Aside from everything with Logan in the second episode, we have everything with Troy. He shows up at the same tour of Hearst Veronica and Wallace are attending. Troy claims he's changed and Veronica's obviously skeptical. Then it turns out he's accused of rape. So perhaps she's right. But she's not because he's innocent. We don't actually know who did it but we know the Pi Sigs are assholes. So that's nice. 

Oh, also, what's up with this escort and Cliff's stolen briefcase?

Aaron Echolls. What are you up to? What are you sending Kendall to do to Logan? Does this have something to do with Cliff's stolen briefcase? I'm very unclear on what's going on here, but I guess we'll have to wait and see?What I do know for sure is that these Tinseltown Diaries are absolutely repulsive and I hate gossip mag and all that stuff. I mean, yeah, the entire family is super screwed up, but please, why do we have to rehash it a million times? Especially when Logan's sitting there watching his mistakes and the sadness of his life on replay? (Why do you have to watch that crap, Dick? Why?)

This is honestly my go-to gif.
On the other hand, Hannah's parents are spot on with pulling Hannah away from Logan (I don't like bad things happening to my love, but I think he deserves it this time). And Veronica and Keith are on good terms. Which is nice. 


Dick: "Nuke the stadium? Damn now I totally wish I could write good."

I love you Dick. 

Wallace: "Man, can you believeit about Logan? That guy is like a cat."
Veronica: "You mean useless and selfish?"

Oooooh low blow, Veronica. Low blow. 

Yeah. I'm low on the snarky lines. Logan was doing a lot of pouting and very little quipping this past week. Those happen to be two of my most favorite Logan modes (the smolder is my other favorite), but only one of them is good for snarking.

Some smolder for good measure.
Hello again, my dears. 
  • Wallace: You're so cute with the college stuff. 
  • Dick: You're so precious. 
  • Cassidy: Clever, clever boy. What are you up to?
  • Logan: Oh, pet. I love you. But you did this one to yourself. I do wish Veronica would leave you alone already. It's like she thinks it's okay to be your conscience but I'm not sure where she got the right.
  • Troy: Go. Away. I don't even care if you're not a rapist. Just get out of here. 

Michael Cera and Alia Shawkat are in this one. So basically it's Veronica Mars meets Arrested Development. Although it's kind of weird to see Maeby like that.

Okay. Are you guys ready for the scary mystery stuff to get real? Because it's about that time again. But until we make it to the end, let's just talk about Logan and his sad puppy dog eyes. In the comments below, of course.

  • "Plan B"
  • "I Am God"

September 28, 2013

Review: Fractured by Teri Terry

Fractured (Slated #2)
Author: Teri Terry
Release Date: September 26th 2013
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Page Count: 336
Source: Purchased
Rating: Book 2 in this series is even better than Book 1. Time to get on the Slated train, dear readers!
Perfect for fans of the dystopian settings of The Hunger Games and Divergent  the gripping second installment of the Slated trilogy is a riveting psychological thriller set in a future where violent teens have their memory erased as an alternative to jail.

Kyla has been Slated—her personality wiped blank, her memories lost to her forever. Or so she thought. She shouldn’t be able to remember anything. But increasingly she can—and she’s discovering that there are a lot of dark secrets locked away in her memories. When a mysterious man from her past comes back into her life and wants her help, she thinks she’s on her way to finding the truth. But this new knowledge lands her in the middle of a tug-of-war between two dangerous adversaries, and despite her misgivings about both of them, she’s forced to choose a side for her own protection.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]

In the last book, Kyla was beginning to remember who she was before she was Slated. But with the memories come a lot of scary stuff. Like terrorists, crazy government officials and major family drama. And if remembering who she is, terrorists, crazy government officials and major family drama aren't enough, she's also still trying to figure out what happened to Ben. Basically, it's getting hot in the kitchen and Kyla's either gonna have to man up and get the heck out of there. (But she can't really. Because the crazy government officials are terrifyingly crazy.)

Let's break this down:

So the Slated series definitely does not suffer from second book syndrome. I actually think I like the second installment of this trilogy better than the first (which I suppose is promising for the last book in all of this). 

To start with, Kyla beings to realize that she's not just Lucy and Kyla, she's also this third personality named Rain. Yeah. That's where creepy substitute teacher comes in. His name is Nico and he is one of those Antigovernment Terrorist guys. And then there are Lorders everywhere, including in her own home (if you remember, Kyla's mom is the daughter of the very first Lorder leader). So Book 2 holds the crazy push and pull of the bad guys vs. the bad guys with Kyla smack dab in the middle. All while Kyla is trying to figure out what happened to Ben and, oh, who she is. Honestly, Kyla does all of this in such a way that is so believable and fantastic that you can't help but root for her. 

But the problem is that you don't know what you're rooting for Kyla to do because both the Lorders and the AGT are psychotic murders and it's almost like there's no where to turn. There is no hidden institution in this series for Kyla to seek out. Or, at least, not yet. Right now she's just trying to figure out who she was and how that's going to drive what she does. Which I love because really just she's a teen figuring out her life and who to trust (based on shoddy memories, mind you) and those are the best kinds of YA books. 

Now, not only can you not trust the major institutions, but you also don't know who to trust on a more personal level. Like, Kyla's mom, dad and sister are all suspect. Katran? Nico? Cam? I mean, Katran seems like a hateful psycho, Nico is trouble. Like Taylor Swift wrote a song about him trouble. Cam is insanely suspect. Like, why are you so nice to Cam? Why are you all up in her business? But what's his angle and why? 

[Okay. So maybe I guessed why Cam was so nice. And perhaps Katran was a little too erratic for my taste. And, duh, Nico is creepy bad news and I feel like maybe he has some weird super power to compel people to love him? But whatever.]

So, bottom line, you can't trust anyone, Kyla's not even sure who she is and this book is filled with all kinds of crazy twists and turns. Especially with that's going on with Ben. Like. Whoa. We're totally set up for all kinds of insanity with the Ben situation, especially given where the book ends. 

All in all, this was an incredibly strong second book. I'm so excited to see where this book goes. Kyla/Rain/Lucy still has so much to learn about herself and what's going on around her so you never know what secrets are going to pop out and totally change the playing field. I mean, Kyla remembering her past as Lucy? Yeah. So there's no way for me or anyone else to predict the end, where any one's going to end up or what secrets are going to crop up. And I'm so incredibly excited to find out how it all wraps up.

The long and short of it?

Plot: Twisty, turny, fantastic insanity that I can't get enough of. May I have some more please?
World Building: We're constantly learning more and more about this futuristic world but everything just keeps me guessing in the best way possible.
Character Development: Kyla's really finding her footing and working out where her loyalties lie. I also really like watching her family grow in around her. Also. Katran. Whoa.
Prose: The writing is part of what forced me to sit down and read this entire book in one sitting.
Would I Recommend This Book?: This series is for dystopian lovers. And for people who love zillions of twists and turns and unpredictable plots. Also, for people who love series where the second book is even better than the first. 

Ready to start this series so you can get to the awesome second book in the series? Let me know your thoughts on this series in the comments below! 

September 27, 2013

"Do Not Read" and "Skip This Author"

Fact: I don't like coffee. I just like saying Coffee Clutch in my best and deepest New York accent. Considering I'm a New Yorker, I'm pretty freaking good at it. So I've got my tea and I hope you have your heated beverage of choice, because it's time to gab the day away.

We've all heard the term "must read". Someone reads a book, love it so much and insists that everyone they know read that one book. You also might use the term "auto-buy". Someone reads everything by one author, loves it so much and pre-orders every book by that one author.

But how about the opposite? Is there a book that you really hate and you tell everyone not to read? How about an author whose books you really didn't like and refuse to read any more of their books and maybe tell other people to stay away as well?

I'm not talking about bad author behavior or whatever else. That's something separate and I'm not interested in getting into that right now.

I'm honestly only talking about your own personal preferences based on plot or whatever else.

As for me, the same way I don't have "must read" or "auto-buy" books, I also don't have "do not read" or "skip this author" books. If I don't like a book, maybe I'll tell someone why I don't like a book (just as I think all readers who review in any capacity do) but I don't like to wave someone away from a book. It makes me uneasy. I don't want you to miss out on something you might love.

I also won't entirely dismiss an author even if I haven't liked their previous books. I mean, I'll probably be less inclined to pick up another book by the same author, but I won't completely dismiss it. You never know what might change. Maybe their new book is in a different genre or they've learned something between that last book I didn't like and this new one. It's really about the plot and the sound of the book more than anything else.

Maybe my inclination to not mark something "do not read" or label an author "skip this author" leads to making my friends suffer or more reading things I won't necessarily love, but it feels wrong to me to come down hard with absolute labels.

Are you guys soft like me or do you come down hard on these kinds of things? Let me know in the comments below!

September 26, 2013

Review: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1)
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Release Date: September 17th, 2013
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Page Count: 400
Source: ARC from BEA
Rating: A terrifying, thrilling, fantastic start to a new, ghostly series.
When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in...

For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions.

Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest, most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.

Set in a city stalked by spectres, The Screaming Staircase is the first in a chilling new series full of suspense, humour and truly terrifying ghosts. Your nights will never be the same again...

[Summary Source: Goodreads]

Lucy Carlyle (our narrator) is just a kid - barely a teen. Yet she and other kids just like her are running around London hunting down these scary, malicious ghosts that have been popping up all over London. Now, these kids are doing the hunting and vanquishing because they're the only ones who can see, hear or sense these ghosts. Because of this, kids are finding employment with agencies. There are big agencies with adult supervisors and then there are smaller agencies that are run solely by the kids. Lockwood & Co., made up of Lockwood, George and Lucy, is one such agency. This book/series is about the trials and troubles of that agency.

Let's break this down:

I'm just going to put this out there now: the big mystery of this book is pretty easy to call out by the middle of the book. But, well, everything else about this book was just so, so, so fantastic that I really just don't even care. 

The structure of this book really surprised me (which I guess balances out the lack of surprise plot-wise). I think it's because I didn't realize when I started that Lucy would be our narrator - even though I ended up totally falling into it and loving her. I also thought the big mystery of this book would be the Screaming Staircase. But it wasn't. I don't know if that's a spoiler. I don't think so. But yeah. The Screaming Staircase is definitely a big scary part of this book, but that's not the focal point.

I also found Lockwood's disposition surprising - in a really good way. He's the classic cocky, in charge character, but with a subtle, mysterious chip on his shoulder in a really non-cliche way. We don't really know his deal because we're in Lucy's head for the entirety of the book, but what she does see and what she does know make Lockwood out to be a brain I'd love to pick. I'm really curious to see how his character fills out throughout the series. 

George is also a curious kid. Lucy outwardly hates him and I have no idea where he comes from or what his story is. And yet I like him. He's studious, does his research and wants everyone to be safe.I can admire that kind of dedication in a kid. I also admire how Jonathan Stroud makes me adore a character even though the narrator really doesn't. 

Lucy herself has an interesting story. She doesn't even trust herself at the start of the book, so I found it kind of fascinating to watch her figure all of that out from inside her head. She also only meets the George and Lockwood 6 months before the book starts, so I loved getting to know the other members of Lockwood & Co. through fresh eyes.

Basically, the dynamic these kids create is awesome. It's different and exciting. No one's best friends, no one's falling in love. There's no instant clicking and everything's kind of uneasy at best. Each kid is just trying to figure out what the heck they're supposed to be doing now that all these ghosts are messing up what it's like to be a kid - to have to protect the adults instead of the adults having to protect the kids.

And that's really the question of this book, in my opinion. These kids have all this power and have to solve all these big real life problems for themselves. Yeah, an adult can offer advice (even though they really, really don't in this book), but it's ultimately up to the people - the kids - who can actually see the ghosts to do the actual acting. It's honestly amazing to me that these 13-15 year-olds can function at all. I know I wouldn't be able to rise to the challenge when I was their age. 

I haven't really mentioned anything about the plot. I mentioned that the major mystery is kind of predictable. But everything else is major scary and very dark. There's all this death and murder and truly angry, malicious spirits. It's almost like an episode of Doctor Who. And maybe some Ghost Busters. But the scary bits, no humor. The book also reminded me a little of Meg Cabot's Mediator series. The kids are younger and there are no hot ghosts to love, but I feel like the danger level is crazy similar. 

As you guys can tell, I really love this one and have a lot of thoughts. But the thought I'll stop with is more of a hope: I'm pretty sure there are going to be more books in this series and I sincerely hope there are at least two more - one from Lockwood's POV and one from George's. As much as I love Lucy's perspective on things, I'd love to get to know Lockwood and George as I've gotten to know Lucy.

The long and short of it?

Plot: A very scary, exciting mystery that reminds me of so many of my favorites in the best way possible.
World Building: I don't know why there are so many ghosts. But this is a series and that's the big, series mystery. So. I guess it's good that I don't know. Therefore: check yes for excellent world-building.
Character Development: I really got to know Lucy and loved watching her learn how to trust herself again. And even though I didn't get a chance to poke into Lockwood and George's minds, I know there's a lot there and I can't wait to get to know them better.
Prose: Delightfully creepy.
Would I Recommend This Book?: Do you love ghosts and mysteries? Scary things? London? How about teens who kick butt and still feel and think like teens do? Just to be fair, though, this book's a little more Middle Grade than YA. But as someone who generally sticks with YA and loved this book, you shouldn't be too worried about that.

Feeling like taking a stroll into Middle Grade land? Maybe you're just here for the ghosts. Either way, let me know what you think of this exciting new ghost story in the comments below!

September 25, 2013

Waiting On: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (33)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: The Naturals
Release Date: November 5th, 2013
Publisher: Hyperion Teen
Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

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

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

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

[Summary Source: Goodreads]
Teens. Cracking. Cold. Cases. And they have unusual gifts. Also, there's something about that cover. Maybe it's because the ribbon is made of caution tape? Perhaps the boxy letters? It could also be the spotlight or the teal blue. Maybe the yellow WITH the blue. I don't know, guys, but I am INTERESTED. So much intrigue. Thank all of the everyone that I don't have to wait too long for this one.

Are you guys ready for this book? Maybe you're excited about something else this week. Let me know all about it in the comments below!

September 24, 2013

Top Ten Best Sequels I've Read This Year (34)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
I modified this week's Top Ten Tuesday because I absolutely CANNOT recall all of the awesome sequels I've read in my life. Also, that list would be insane. Instead I'm just going to list my Top Ten Sequels that I devoured this year. So sit back and enjoy the ride. 

1. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
I knew I was going to absolutely love this one before I even read it. I was so right it's insane. Ronan, Adam, Gansey, Noah and Blue do not disappoint. (My Review)

2. A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard
I wasn't sure how I felt about this series before I started it. I love Steampunk but Paranormal is NOT my scene. But then I read it because I got a copy of the book at BEA and I love Susan Dennard forever and always. (My Review)

3. Fire by Kristin Cashore
Everyone always told me I should read the Graceling series. They were right. Because it's awesome. I haven't read Bitterblue yet, but for sure this is going to be one of my favorite series. (My Review)

4. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
I also got my hands on an early ARC of Cress. Both of these sequels are so unbelievably amazing. What's really crazy to me now, after I've read these three books, is how reluctant I was to read Cinder because of the whole cyborg angle. But I made the right decision. (My Review)

5. Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
I don't care who you love - Adam, Warner, Kenji... this series is excellence and I cannot WAIT for the next e-novella and the last book. (No, but seriously, is it December yet?) (My Review)

6. Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi
I liked Under the Never Sky A LOT. A LOT. But HOLY COW I loved THROUGH THE EVER NIGHT. I'm going to be really sad when this series is over, but I do know that I'm going to be talking about it for a very, very long time. (My Review)

7. Sever by Lauren DeStefano
This is a series that is over now. But I looooved it. Mostly because I love Lauren DeStefano's writing. Absolutely stunning. I'm so excited she has a new book coming out next week. I am all over that like you wouldn't believe. (My Review)

8. Where She Went by Gayle Forman
I know this is more a companion book than a sequel but if you've read it you'll understand why I had to include it. I mean, I even read this one at the very, very end of LAST year and I still have to include it because I love it so much. Adam and Mia forever, yo. (My Review)

9. The Realm of the Gods by Tamora Pierce
I re-read this book for PierceFest this year. It's the only re-read on this list. Because it's that freaking good. I mean, the steamiest kissing scene ever lives in this book and it's so delicious I can't even get into it right now without melting. (My Review)

10. Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty
This is my first go at the Jessica Darling series and I loved the second book in this set so very much. I totally get the Marcus Flutie love now and it honestly makes me want to squirm around on my bed joyously all day. All. Day. (My Review)

Have you read these series? If not, I recommend GETTING ON THAT. If you need a push in the right direction, let me know in the comments below and I'll be sure to help you make the right decision.

September 23, 2013

Review: Slated by Teri Terry

Slated (Slated #1)
Author: Teri Terry
Release Date: January 24th, 2013
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Page Count: 346
Source: Purchased
Rating: The beginning of something really exciting.
Kyla has been Slated—her memory and personality erased as punishment for committing a crime she can’t remember. The government has taught her how to walk and talk again, given her a new identity and a new family, and told her to be grateful for this second chance that she doesn’t deserve. It’s also her last chance—because they’ll be watching to make sure she plays by their rules.

As Kyla adjusts to her new life, she’s plagued by fear. Who is she, really? And if only criminals are slated, why are so many innocent people disappearing? Kyla is torn between the need to know more and her instinct for self-preservation. She knows a dangerous game is being played with her life, and she can’t let anyone see her make the wrong move... but who can she trust when everyone is a stranger?

[Summary Source: Goodreads]

You know how when kids today behave badly (y'know, break the law and such) they end up in youth detention center or whatever? Well, in the nearish future, in London, after lots of riots and way too much scientific advancements, children under the age of 16 who misbehave (not even by breaking the law) have a tendency to get pulled out of their everyday lives by these guys called the Lorders. But they're not reprimanded and returned. They're Slated. They have all their memories wiped away and then they're placed with a brand new family. If THAT'S not insane enough, after getting Slated, these kids have to wear these bracelets that monitor their MOODS until their 21. If they exhibit extreme amounts of rage or upset, these bracelets could possibly kill the wearer. For being upset.

Let's break this down:

I'm still on this whole coma for being upset thing. Today I got upset with a friend because we had tentative plans and didn't text me to let me know one way or the other if we were hanging out. In fact, I'm still kind of annoyed with him because he knows that's one of my pet peeves. So basically, if I were a Slated, my wrist would be buzzing right now and I'd have to correct my justified upset in order to keep away from falling into a coma and potentially dying.

Yeah. That's how messed up this book is.

I guess it's a way to control emotion. To keep people happy and on the straight and narrow. To cultivate a positive society. And it maybe sounds like a good idea, but the means that get to the end could only be devised by a truly warped dystopian government. So good job on totally freaking me out, book.

Insanely twisted world building aside, my love for Kyla should be noted. In Book 1, Kyla's basic personality is supposed to be that of a flat, happy Slated. But even when she honestly believes that's all she is, she's so much more. It's not just the nightmares she has that tell her she's so much more, it's that she honestly believes that's not all there is to being who she is. Obviously, grappling with the question of who she is can be and is very difficult when you have no memories and everyone wants to pretend you don't have a past, but I think Kyla does this admirably.

I also really like the other characters in this book. Kyla's new family is complex and kind of slippery. Just when you think you have the family dynamic figured out, it all twists around and suddenly you're not sure anymore. It takes a while to figure out everyone's patterns and it's honestly so very interesting to watch.

Ben's progression as a character is also something to keep your eye on. I love how he's both a standard Slated and not. He can't fight his programming and proves that being Slated is a really, really bad idea (even though no one but Kyla's really taking note) but he also shows that these people who've been Slated really are people, no matter what you do to their brain. Except for the fact that he kind of falls for Kyla FAST. Although again, I blame that on the Slating. I think it would have happened either way, but whoa. Slating.

I think, all in all, this first book is a stepping stone. It's a lot of really good foundation. It promises a lot of other things for the other two books in the series - good things full of true suspense.

I mean, to prove the point, I honestly never know what's going to happen next. Nor can I really pinpoint the end goal of this whole series. I mean, is it to stop the government? Is it for Kyla to figure out who she was? Maybe it's for her to move on from who she was and embrace the future. WHAT HAPPENS WITH BEN? Is there someone else? How does Kyla's new family fit into all of this? I think I really love when I can't quite guess where a story's going. I know sometimes that means what comes next comes out of left field (as with a lot of dystopian trilogies), but this book honestly feels more linear to me. Like, there's action, but it's not showing off. It just is because that's what needs to happen.

But yeah. This book is the foundation. I liked it a lot but I can already tell that the next two books in the series - Fractured and Shatter - are were this story is going to have the chance to step into itself. It's going to take this solid starting point and build a giant tower that is going to bring me so much joy every time I look up at it. Both because it's a trilogy done right and because Kyla's awesome and I cannot wait to find out what her (and Ben's) deal is.

The long and short of it?

Plot: Slow and steady seriously wins the race.
World Building: This book is all about the world building in the very best way possible.
Character Development: Kyla steals the show for real. Because Ben is Slated I kind of want to hit him over the head for a lot of the book, but, well, you can't really blame the boy, can you?
Prose: It's first person and Kyla is totally represented. I'd say the prose is probably why I feel so attached to Kyla as a character.
Would I Recommend This Book?: This isn't one of those ACTION PACKED dystopians that's going to let you down. This is one of those slow builds, amazing pay-off series - something you can tell just by reading the first book. So, if you love dystopian and even if you're feeling a little jaded by a category you once loved, you might want to give this book a try.

Have you read this one? Are you as convinced of it's greatness as I am? If not, maybe you should give it a closer look! Either way, talk to me about it in the comments below.

Oh, and for the record, this book comes HIGHLY recommended by Betty over at Book Rock Betty. HERE is her review of the book. Y'know, in case you wanna know what she thinks about all of this.

September 20, 2013

What is Happening?

Fact: I don't like coffee. I just like saying Coffee Clutch in my best and deepest New York accent. Considering I'm a New Yorker, I'm pretty freaking good at it. So I've got my tea and I hope you have your heated beverage of choice, because it's time to gab the day away.

Sometimes I feel like there's stuff going on out there on the Great Wide Interwebz that I am just not aware of.

Sometimes this is bad.

Example: Occasionally I'll miss out on book hype. Or a really good book. I know if I was better at keeping up with my catalogue/blog/Goodreads creeping I wouldn't have this problem, but sometimes I'm really lazy and there's nothing anyone can do about it. Even me. Because the compulsion to be lazy is just too strong.

However, sometimes being out of the loop is good.

Example: When there is blogger/author/reader/Goodreads drama. I know it happens a lot and sometimes I'll see some of it on Twitter, but a lot of the time I have NO FREAKING IDEA what's going on.

All of this, both good and bad, is kind of annoying because I like knowing what's going on. I used to always know what was happening with all my friends at any given time. But recently that's slowed. Am I more selfish/lazy? Do I care less? Is there more for me to keep tabs on? It really could be that the Interwebz/pool of bloggers is JUST TOO HUGE.

I guess I'm okay with all of that. But, um, guys, I kindly request that if anything on the Great Wide Interwebz involves me and I don't know about it that you TELL ME. I might not be able to know EVERYTHING all the time anymore the way I used to keep tabs in high school and college (I really did know EVERYTHING in high school and college), but I would like to be able to keep tabs on my own affairs now...

Do you ever feel like you're missing something? Is this what getting old feels like? Tell me about your fears and concerns in the comments below!

September 19, 2013

Review: Margot by Jillian Cantor

Author: Jillian Cantor
Release Date: September 3rd, 2013
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Page Count: 352
Source: Literary Lushes ARC Tour
Rating: A wonderfully fantastic piece of Historical Fiction about what life for Margot Frank might have been like if she'd survived the Holocaust.
Anne Frank has long been a symbol of bravery and hope, but there were two sisters hidden in the annex, two young Jewish girls, one a cultural icon made famous by her published diary and the other, nearly forgotten.

In the spring of 1959, The Diary of Anne Frank has just come to the silver screen to great acclaim, and a young woman named Margie Franklin is working in Philadelphia as a secretary at a Jewish law firm. On the surface she lives a quiet life, but Margie has a secret: a life she once lived, a past and a religion she has denied, and a family and a country she left behind.

Margie Franklin is really Margot Frank, older sister of Anne, who did not die in Bergen-Belsen as reported, but who instead escaped the Nazis for America. But now, as her sister becomes a global icon, Margie’s carefully constructed American life begins to fall apart. A new relationship threatens to overtake the young love that sustained her during the war, and her past and present begin to collide. Margie is forced to come to terms with Margot, with the people she loved, and with a life swept up into the course of history.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]

Margot Frank didn't die in Bergen-Belsen. Instead she escaped. Fast-forward to 14 years. Margot is no longer Margot Frank. She's Margie Franklin and she's a Gentile. For the last 6 years she's been living in Philadelphia, working as a secretary in a law firm, hiding her identity just as she and her family hid over a dozen years early. This book is about her life, her decisions and her struggle to either remain hidden or be true to her Jewish identity.

Let's break this down:

I read The Diary of a Young Girl when I was about Anne's age - 13 and totally unprepared for the awfulness of the world to hit my full force. It's partially because of this that her diary impacted me so much. Another reason for my strong reaction to Anne's story is that I was reading a girl's diary - which is pretty much the number one thing you don't do ever. I mean, privacy aside, I strongly believe in never reading back my own diaries (if I haven't already burnt them). Keeping them was cathartic, but dear God I make myself cringe.

Anyway, caring about Anne was something I was bound to do both back then and now. She was a little girl who died because sometimes humans can be monsters. But Margot? I guess I never really thought about Margot. Yeah, I wish she and her sister and everyone else who died in the Holocaust could have lived, but I never specifically wished Margot had lived the way I dreamed of Anne's post-War "what if?" life. Until I heard the premise of this book, that is.

There's something so unbelievably stunning, simple and quiet about this book. Margot herself isn't loud and restless, like I always pictured Anne to be. Instead, she's soft-spoken and reserved. She's introspective and thoughtful. She's strong and relentless. But what's really stunning about this book is that Margot doesn't think she's any of these things. She just wants to stay hidden.

That's pretty much the conflict of this book - Margot hiding her identity as a Jew after hiding her physical body in an annex for so many years. She lied about being a Jew upon arriving in Philadelphia because she thought it would be safer. Because that was the plan she made with Peter. But the question she's confronted with in this book is if she really can or even wants to stay hidden like that.

What spurs on the conflict (Margot's questioning) in this book is quiet and subtle, just like Margot. Margot herself works for a Jewish law firm and has a crush on her Jewish boss, Joshua. Everything's debatably okay until two things happen at about the same time: she thinks she's found Peter and an elderly Jewish woman who survived the Holocaust comes into her office and asks for help with a law suit. Neither of these events seem like such huge things, but for someone in hiding, for someone who's raised to believe that "religion is breath" and for someone who kind of has PTSD, these events are just that.

So, clearly this is one big sad-fest. I mean, there's this girl who we all kind of read about who actually died but now we're reading about what might have happened to her if she hadn't. And her life is kind of hidden and unfulfilled. But even though you'll probably be close to tears and a little scared for Margot at certain points of this book (or at least, I was), you want to see her go through all of this. You want to see her make it through to the other side so she can fully live her life. And, honestly, to have the opportunity to root for a character like Margot is amazing and totally makes this book so meaningful.

The long and short of it?

Plot: It's exactly what it sounds like it's going to be and it's stunning.
World Building: I don't know anything about Philly in the late 50's, but there's an author's note that explains everything - including the research that went into this book and the made up characters/situations in Margot's story.
Character Development: Margot might as well be alive and real. Like, you really believe it. You really believe she's telling you this story and it's kind of sad when  you get to the end and realize all of this is fiction.
Prose: Just as quiet and reserved as Margot and the story itself. A perfect fit.
Would I Recommend This Book?: Unless you really have something against historical fiction, Holocaust books, war books or all around sad books, you should definitely, definitely, definitely read this book.

I'm just going to sit here quietly thinking about this book while you make the smart decision to go pick it up and read it ASAP. But if you have any questions or comments, let me know down below!

September 18, 2013

World of Books: Wendy + Seattle, Washington

Everyone has their neighborhood bookstore or their local library they call home. Maybe both even. I know I do - in TWO different cities. World of Books if a bi-weekly feature that allows me - and any of YOU - to share the bookstores and libraries you love so much. If you want to be featured on World of Books too, make sure to go HERE and fill out the contact form!

This week on WORLD OF BOOKS Wendy will be taking all of us out West to Seattle, Washington. ENJOY.

I am so excited to be participating in Gaby’s World of Books feature! I remember when I first saw that she was doing this feature and I just thought how cool it was to discover all kinds of fun bookish places in other cities!

Anyway, today I’ll be talking about my favorite bookish places in Seattle! I had to move down to Vegas for dental school (yuck) but I go back home a lot because my fiancé lives up there. Good news is this is my last year so I’ll be moving back next year to all my favorite places! =)

Ever since I was little and watched Beauty and the Beast, I’ve had this dream to one day have that gorgeous library! One of the libraries that gives me that feel is the Suzzallo library at the University of Washington campus. 

Look how beautiful it is! Granted, the entire UW campus is beautiful but I really love Suzzallo in particular. I spent a lot of time there between classes because they have a café downstairs where you can get food and study or meet and study or chat with friends. But my absolute favorite part of Suzzallo? I think the official name of it is the “Reading Room” but my friends and I always referred to it as “the Harry Potter room”.

I mean, that looks like it could’ve come straight out of Harry Potter! I love that place. Whenever I went to study in there, I FELT more scholarly just from being there. And if I got too lazy to study, I’d read in there and it was the most calming, relaxing place. I loved that room!

I lived close to campus and my apartment was right by the University Village that housed lots of shops but mostly importantly, the best Barnes and Noble ever. I know, I know, B&N is everywhere but this one was HUGE.

I spent so much time there. I’d go to the café to study and then go wander to look at books. Sometimes as I walked back from campus, I’d pop in just to browse. It was my favorite B&N ever and then guess what? They decided to CLOSE IT. This happened about 2 years or so ago I think so I was already living in Vegas but I was devastated when I heard that! It was apparently some lease snafu or something. I have not found another B&N I love as much as that one. (Although there is a large one in the Seattle area, near Northgate mall that is gradually moving up my list!)

The Seattle Public Library is one of the coolest buildings ever.

I didn’t go there as often as my local library since I don’t make the trip into Seattle as much but I had to mention it because it’s such a COOL place! First of all, it’s humongous. Secondly, it’s just super eccentric.

They have lots of areas to read, lots of computers and just SO many books. It’s pretty awesome.

The library that’s closer to me though, is the Kirkland public library.

It’s not the prettiest library but it’s relatively new. It’s on the small side but they actually have a good, sizeable YA section so that makes me happy. It’s fun to take trips to the Kirkland library because it’s right in downtown Kirkland. Whenever my fiancé and I walk down there, we’ll stop by the library and then it’s fun to walk around and get food and such. One of my favorite places to read is also in downtown Kirkland – Zoka Coffee.

The one thing I absolutely LOVE about Seattle is the fact that there are so many amazing coffee shops there. It’s more than just coffee. It’s being able to sit down, enjoy coffee from a legit mug and being in this awesome atmosphere with other people also working, studying, reading, etc. It makes me SO happy! It’s calm and relaxing. I love being able to enjoy coffee and read there!

I couldn’t find a picture of the inside of the Kirkland Zoka Coffee but this is the inside of the one by UW, and it was right behind my apartment. Just tons of tables and also big comfy chairs. It’s amazing. I love Zoka!

These are some of my favorite bookish places that I like to go to and I hope you enjoyed reading about them!

September 17, 2013

Top Ten Books On My Fall 2013 TBR List (33)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
Even though I RARELY stick to these Top Ten Tuesday TBRs, I still make them. And I generally add books I already have to them, not the awesome books that are about to come out. Those will pop up and make my reading schedule more and more difficult as the months get colder and colder. So here are Ten Books I already have and intend to fit into my busy fall TBR. Many of these may not get read, as happened with my summer TBR Top Ten Tuesday, but still. I took the books off the shelves and took pictures. I'm hoping for brownie points.

2. SIEGE & STORM by Leigh Bardugo
3. THE DARKEST MINDS by Alexandra Bracken
4. THE ART OF WISHING by Lindsay Ribar

7. AMY & ROGER'S EPIC DETOUR by Morgan Matson
8. SECOND CHANCE SUMMER by Morgan Matson
9. LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Stephanie Perkins
10. THE BOY ON THE WOODEN BOX by Leon Leyson

What's on your Fall TBR? A bunch of books you already have? Maybe some highly anticipated fall releases? Let me know what's on your radar in the comments below!

September 15, 2013

Review + ARC Giveaway: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Release Date: September 17th, 2013
Publisher: Scholastic
Page Count: 448
Source: ARC from BEA
Rating: Maggie Stiefvater's created this world that I step into and never want to leave. No. Seriously. Book. Why do you end?
The second installment in the all-new series from the masterful, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater!

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after...

[Summary Source: Goodreads]

It's summertime. Adam has a new bond with Cabeswater, Ronan has just admitted that he can take things out of dreams, Gansey is still trying to find Glendower, Blue is as confused by these Raven Boys as ever and Noah's still a ghost. One who flickers in and out of existence, mind you, because Cabeswater also seems to be flicking in and out of existence. Which is really not good in general, not just for Noah. Also, there's this guy, The Gray Man, who's joined the adult end (AKA: Maura, Calla and Persephone) of everything that's happening. Although he's kind of a hit man. So we'll see how that goes.

Let's break this down:

You know when someone explains a magic trick in a TV show or movie (I'm currently thinking of The Mentalist) and they're all like: "A good magician is skilled in misdirection and slight of hand"? Well, Maggie Stiefvater is really, really good at misdirection. Which you might also call plot juggling. Basically, what I mean is, there's so much awesome going on in this book that my brain doesn't have a second to stop and think or question. I never have any idea where this book is going or what's going to happen next. It all just happens and it WORKS.

Not to mention, all this magic misdirection is happening when there's REAL MAGIC also fitting itself into the world building/plot. I like the magic in this book because it just is. There are no magic words to summon it, nor is there a logical reason or a true history behind it's existence. It's natural and somehow completely believable. Even though I don't totally understand what's going on all the time. Like, what happened to Adam in the last book and this one? And how is Ronan controlling these dreams? If I had to figure all this stuff out I'd probably just give up because WHOA. Whoa. 

But aside from the amazing world building and plot juggling in this book, there's also a lot of character juggling. I mean, there are at least 5 main characters in this book - Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam and Noah. You could maybe cut Noah, but I wouldn't. One might also call The Gray Man a main character. He has his own chapters and kind of is the villain of the story. And I'm totally invested in who he is and where he comes from. Then again, I'm totally invested in all of the characters in this story. Which seems impossible, since there are so many, but I feel like each character's personality and backstory is kind of hinted to with one sentence or a paragraph or two throughout the story. These sentences and paragraphs might not be enough to paint the full picture, but they do hint to the picture and allow the reader to imagine the rest.

I also can't write this review without talking about the relationships between all of the characters. The complicated balance between our four Raven Boys. How Blue relates to each of them. How all five of these people deal with their family situations. The love polygons. (Triangle? Square? I DON'T EVEN KNOW. And I love all of it. Which is weird because I normally hate love polygons.) This book is just so intense and that's because of these relationship. And the kissing. Or near kissing. I... well, all of my insides twisted at the actual kissing and the near kissing and, and, and... basically I have no coherent words for the intensity of this book.

Don't worry, though, about me not having words. Because Maggie Stiefvater does. I really don't think I've ever read such brilliant prose. That's definitely part of what makes all of the juggling work so well (well, that and the exhaustive amount of research that probably went into the writing of this book). I've never read a book that simultaneously lulled and excited me. (Don't worry, guys, this is not the kind of book to put you to sleep. I promise.)

I honestly can't believe all of the facts, feelings, juggling and stunning prose that make make up this book can fit into 448 pages. It's completely and totally unreal to me. And yet, this happens every time I read a Maggie Stiefvater book. So, let's just call me a fangirl and let's call it a day, shall we?

The long and short of it?

Plot: This is the kind of plot that will keep even the most astute readers on their toes. Oh, and it's awesome.
World Building: All of the juggling and all of the misdirection make for the most amazing world building there ever was. I honestly believe that this is what life is like in Henrietta. Or at least some other part of the world.
Character Development: This book is Ronan's book and I so enjoyed figuring him out and watching him piece everything together. That being said, I also loved everyone else's character shifts. Adam and The Gray Man especially.
Prose: Perfection.
Would I Recommend This Book?: This series is for anyone who loves paranormal, (urban) fantasy, beautiful prose, thorough research that leads to a solid plot foundation and wonderfully dynamic characters.


I got an ARC at BEA but I'm also buying a finished copy of this book because I love it so much. Which means... ARC GIVEAWAY TIME.


~ To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. DO NOT enter using the comments.
~ You must be 18 years or older or have a guardian's permission to enter.
~ The winners will be chosen randomly. Once chosen, the winners will be emailed. They will then have 48 HOURS to respond, otherwise another winner will be chosen.
~ The giveaway is INTERNATIONAL - that's right. This is the VERY FIRST giveaway where I'll be forking over the money for shipping and so I'm feeling generous.
~ I reserve the right to disqualify anyone who tries to cheat the system. I WILL be checking the winning entry.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

September 13, 2013

Things That Distract Me From Reading

Fact: I don't like coffee. I just like saying Coffee Clutch in my best and deepest New York accent. Considering I'm a New Yorker, I'm pretty freaking good at it. So I've got my tea and I hope you have your heated beverage of choice, because it's time to gab the day away.

I don't always get as much reading done as I'd like. Sometimes I wonder what I'm doing to keep me from getting the work done. Obviously there's hanging out with friends and whatever works I have to get done. But since I'm funempolyed and most of my friends are employed, aside from running errands and job hunting, I don't have much to do. 

So what's keeping me from getting my reading done? I'll tell you.

1. Television/Movies
I've recently binged The Office and Parks & Recreactions. All in like 3 weeks. It's disturbing and I hate myself. Game of Thrones is next. I think. Unless you guys have better suggestions. But don't give me suggestions because I should really get back to reading. (No. Actually. Tell me what to watch.) Also, I really like watching lots and lots of movies. I happen to a own a lot of DVDs.

I also like to eat popcorn when I watch movies.
2. Creeping around the Interwebs
I spend way too much time on Twitter. And Facebook. And Instagram. And wishing there was more stuff on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to stare at mindlessly. I don't know what's wrong with me but I'll open my computer with the intent to send a couple of emails (I don't like to write emails from my phone) and I'll be on it for hours. Basically the World Wide Web is an enormous time suck. Please send help.

3. Games
I wish I was talking about board games. I mean, it would be board games if I had 2-3 people at my disposal to play Settlers of Catan with whenever I wanted. But I'm mostly talking about Candy Crush. And Words with Friends. Oh Candy Crush and Words with Friends. How I love you both.

4. Lurking about Bookstores
I don't NEED anymore books. And most of the time when I go to bookstores, I don't even WANT anymore books. Or I do but I really can't spend the cash. But sometimes I'll just hang out there. I won't even read. I'll just spend way too much time petting the pretties like a freak. Or following Jen around because she works at my Barnes & Noble and I love her. (HI JEN! *waves*)

5. Sleeping too much
If I have to wake up early, I'll take a nap. If I don't have to wake up early, I'll stay up way too late and sleep waywayway too late. I don't regret it. I love sleep. And even once I wake up, I'll just lie there for a little bit because my bed is comfy and I'm not even slightly compelled to do a single thing. I know. I'm normal.

Okay. I'll stop here before this becomes too much like Family Feud (even though there are a million other things that keep me from getting to the books I really, really want to get to). But yeah.

I hope I'm not the only one who is constantly distracted by a trillion things. Please let me know about your distractions in the comments below. Not that I need more, I just want to feel better about myself.