Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Kristin Cashore
1st May 2012
576 pages (hardcover)
Publisher - Dial
Source - Purchased
Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck’s reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle—disguised and alone—to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.

Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart.
I enjoyed Graceling, adored Fire, and absolutely loved Bitterblue. Unlike the protagonists of Cashore's previous novels, Bitterblue is not Graced or a monster. Instead, she's a queen who enjoys numbers, ciphers and stories. Throughout the novel, her deceased father's terrible Grace and actions still linger in Monsea. Betrayal, secrets, and lies run deeper than imaginable. Her kingdom is filled with oddities that no one wants to explain or fix. Each new twist brings another round of suspects, questions, and ultimately creates even more doubts about everything and everyone.

Curious revelations, first love, and Bitterblue's transformation into the queen Monsea needs, Bitterblue gradually builds into a phenomenal story. Bitterblue herself is a remarkable young woman with a subtle strength, sharp humor, and a need for truth. It was intriguing to watch her character grow with each chapter. Bitterblue delves deeper and into darker places in order to unravel the mysteries in Monsea. There are lovely, lighthearted moments, along with others that will have you near (or in) tears. All in all, Bitterblue is an outstanding novel well worth the time it takes to read each page.

Highlights: It was nice to see characters from Cashore's previous books be present in this one, and through Bitterblue's very observant view of them. Characters as a whole were very well written (especially Death1, Teddy, Saf, Po, Giddon, Leck, and Thiel). The extras at the end (cast of characters, drawings, et cetera) were fascinating. The ending, while a little bittersweet, was nicely done. 

Lowlights: I wanted more pages. Seriously. 

Note: As this is a sequel, reading Graceling is a must. I would recommend reading Fire since it will help make many moments more meaningful in the story. 


1 Coolest librarian ever. I kind of wish I had his Grace.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (times two!) (79)

Wow is hosted by Breaking the Spine
November 6th, 2012
In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed "Daughter of Smoke and Bone," Karou must come to terms with who and what she is, and how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, mysteries and secrets, new characters and old favorites, Days of Blood and Starlight brings the richness, color and intensity of the first book to a brand new canvas.
Ahhhh! I need this book (and way more of a summary).
Is it November, yet?

by Bridget Zinn
March 12th, 2013
A teen girl finds herself a would-be assassin, hunting down her former best friend, the princess of the realm, via the aid of an enchanted piglet.
Barely any summary, but it sounds intriguing (enchanted piglets, would-be assassin, some sort of fantasy realm...I'm interested).

What are you waiting on?


Covers + Summaries from Goodreads

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Queen's Library (3)

Purchased - Kindle
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Kindle Freebies
Witch Song by Amber Argyle
Exiled by RaShelle Workman

Despite the issues I had with Starcrossed, I couldn't resist a bargain like $0.99. I haven't heard much about the other two books, but the Amazon ratings were mostly positive. Hopefully they're both great!

What did you get this week?


Friday, May 25, 2012

COVERS: Probability, Starlight, Dolls and more

I spend a lot of time stalking browsing Goodreads, publisher's and author websites, and stumbled across some good ones this week! 

(paperback edition)
I still love the hardcover, but this one is great, too!

Creepy, much? Very excited for this book.

The shadow kind of freaks me out. Still, a cool cover.

Days of Blood and Starlight
*dies* I love the designs and the way the color pops!
So cannot wait for this book!

This cover rocks. I want this cover on my wall. 

Have you spotted any great new covers? 


Probability covers from US Penguin Group
Other covers from Goodreads

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (78)

WOW is hosted by Breaking the Spine

Miriam Forster
The girl with no past, and no future, may be the only one who can save their lives.

Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a child. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins.

But Nisha doesn't pay attention to rumors. She's made peace with her life, working as Matron’s assistant, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city’s handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls.

Until one by one, girls around her start to die.

Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls’ deaths. But the City she discovers isn't the one she thought she knew, it's a dark, dangerous one run on politics and greed. And by getting involved, Nisha stands to lose not only her freedom, but those closest to her as well.
That cover is beyond epic! Intriguing summary, too. I need this book!!

What are you waiting on this week?


Image + Summary from Goodreads

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New Release & New Covers

Suffocate, the first novelette in THE BREATHLESS series, released yesterday! Suffocate is a 15,000 word young adult thriller that combines the dystopic and science fiction genres.
For centuries, the world outside the Biome has been unlivable. Today, marks the first time anyone will attempt to leave the suffocating ecosphere. Eria is not worried because her scientist father has successfully tested the new Bio-Suit many times. It's a celebratory day until something goes horribly wrong. In the midst of tragedy, Eria uncovers a deep conspiracy that affects the very air she breathes.

If those responsible find out what she knows, they won't stop hunting her until she takes her last breath.
The 2nd novella in the series, Choke, is scheduled for Fall 2012. The 3rd, Exhale, is scheduled for Winter 2013.

Goodreads / Amazon / B&N 

About the author
S.R. Johannes is author of the Amazon Bestseller Untraceable and a current nominee of the Georgia Author of the Year in the Young Adult category. After earning an MBA and working in corporate america, S.R. Johannes traded in her expensive suits, high heels, and corporate lingo for a family, flip-flops, and her love of writing. She lives in Atlanta Georgia with her goldendoodle Charley (notice he is listed first :), her British-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess, which she hopes- someday- will change the world.  You can find her hanging out online and visit her at

   Used to Be                                   Unraveling Isobel 
       Stormdancer                           The Dark Unwinding 


Suffocate Information + Cover from SR Johannes
Cover Reveal covers from Goodreads

Monday, May 21, 2012

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

All These Things I've Done
Gabrielle Zevin
March 29th 2012
352 pages (paperback)
Pan Macmillan
Source - unsolicited ARC from publisher
In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. 

And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family (summary from hardcover version).
In 2083 New York, museums are clubs and chocolate is illegal. As a Balanchine, Anya has learned how to take care of problems as quickly as they arise. With an ill grandmother and two siblings to take care of, Anya does her best to keep everything together and well. When the family starts reaching out to her brother, she can't help but to worry. In between a forbidden romance, unwanted attention from the police and family troubles, Anya's life becomes a whole lot more chaotic and entangled in the family business: and it all starts with a boy and a chocolate bar.

Zevin wastes no time in immersing readers into the setting, showing a world that is both a mixture of our own time and the Prohibition era. While world building excels, it's the characters that shine. Anya is fiercely protective and quickly provoked. Despite being the daughter of a deceased criminal, Anya's fairly generous (yet still sharp-minded). Her romance with Win takes center stage for some time, but it was the relationships with her family that proved to be the most fascinating part of this story. Realistic and intriguing, All These Things I've Done is brimming with plenty of subtle surprises. 

Highlights: The slow pace, while initially difficult to adjust to, was actually quite nice. Anya's life has a few crazy moments, but it stays realistic and grounded. Family is at the heart of this story, and I especially enjoyed Natty and Leo's characters. Zevin skillfully brings Anya's world to life (Liberty Island was especially interesting). The main mystery was easy to solve, but Zevin threw in a few small surprises at the end. 

Lowlights: It took awhile before I became invested in the story. Also, I somewhat wish Win had been a little more complex (I'm hoping he'll be more fleshed out in the sequel). 



Cover + Summary from Goodreads

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Queen's Library (2)

Inspiration & Information

For Review
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (Netgalley)
Suffocate by S.R. Johannes (eBook from author)

Thanks to Netgalley, Harlequin Teen, and S.R. Johannes!

What books did you get this week?


Images from Goodreads

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Best Beach Reads...

Want to see my picks for the Best Beach Reads for This Summer

My choices are at Confessions of a Book Addict, so head over there to see what I picked. Plus, you get to see Christina's (from Reading Extensively) and Nina's (from J'adore Happy Endings) responses at Confessions too, so go check it out!


Image from  Confessions of a Book Addict

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

My Life Next Door
Huntley Fitzpatrick
June 14th 2012
395 pages (hardcover)
Dial Books for Young Readers
Source - Netgalley
“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?
From the rooftop of Samantha Reed's house, the Garrett's seem completely unlike her own privileged family. So, when she gets the chance to step into a world she's only looked in on from the outside, she takes it. Soon enough, she finds herself falling in love with each of them, Jase most of all. Yet, her mother's race to be reelected as Senator keeps tensions high at home, and Samantha's struggling to find balance between the life her mother expects and the life Samantha experiences next door with the Garrett's. But when an unforgivable act occurs, she has to decide: should she tell the truth, or keep a terrible secret?

My Life Next Door is a surprising debut. It begins with a sweet romance that builds and grows with each page. Fitzpatrick takes care to flesh out each character, making it all the easier to enjoy them. Samantha's fascination with the Garrett family is infectious, especially once she becomes a part of their lives. While budding young love is large part of the story, familial relationships and friendships become equally important once they are tested as the line between what's right and what's wrong grows more painstakingly obvious after tragedy strikes. A heartfelt and endearing story, My Life Next Door is sure to be a hit. 

Highlights: The relationship between Samantha and Jase1 was surprisingly enjoyable, despite the quickness. Interactions with the Garrett's were my favorite part of this book. Side characters were very nicely written (especially Tim, Clay, the Garrett's), because each had their own personalities with flaws and strengths. Even Grace (Samantha's very strict and slightly scary mother) proved to be more complex than I imagined. 

Lowlights: The conflict the summary hints at took place very late, around 3/4 into the story. It was frustrating to deal with the shift in tone once it arrived. I felt like I was reading a different story after the conflict happened. I enjoyed the book more before that part of the story arrived2

Note: References to drugs, alcohol, et cetera. Some cursing, mostly by Tim. A (safe) sex scene. 


1 *swoons over Jase*
2 A compelling conflict, but it felt like it was happening too late in the story to make a genuine impact on me. It was annoying to know something bad was going to happen and have to wait so long for it. Honestly, I'm probably in the minority on this point.


Cover + Summary from Goodreads

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (times two!) (77)

WOW is hosted by Breaking the Spine
Falling Kingdoms
Morgan Rhodes
December 11th, 2012
Sixteen-year-old Cleo has grown up in luxury, the royal heiress to a prosperous kingdom. But beneath her nation’s seemingly peaceful surface lies dangerous unrest. Whispers of war are growing ever louder—intensified by a murderous incident for which Cleo’s betrothed, Aron, is accused. 

Amidst the ongoing intrigue, Cleo has a more desperate mission. She defies her father’s orders and sets off on a secret and perilous journey into a neighboring country, seeking a magic long thought to be mythical. If it’s real, it could be the cure that heals her ailing sister. If it’s only legend, Cleo will be stranded in a kingdom that has just declared war on her own.
I really like the sound of this one. Magic, lies...very exciting!

The Kill Order 
James Dashner
August 14th, 2012
Before WICKED was formed, before the Glade was built, before Thomas entered the Maze, sun flares seared the earth and mankind fell to disease. "The Kill Order" tells the story of that fall.
I still need to catch up on this series because The Maze Runner was incredible. I'm sure this prequel will be just as great, too! 

What are you waiting on?


Image + Summary from Goodreads

Monday, May 14, 2012

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Lauren Oliver
February 28th, 2012
375 pages (hardcover)
Source - Purchased
I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.
After surviving the events of Delirium, Lena is thrust into the Wilds. Alternating between her beginnings in the Wilds and her current ventures as a part of the Resistance, it's easy to see that Lena has been shattered, pieced together again, and rebuilt into a young woman that is slowly finding her strength and her purpose in a very hectic society. But nothing is easy, nothing is what it seems, and not everyone can be trusted in Lena's world.

If you thought Delirium ripped your heart out and stomped on it by the time you reached the breathtaking conclusion, just wait until you read Pandemonium. The pacing starts with an excited rush, and that tension never quite dissipates. Instead, the tension lingers, building and receding until the exhilarating conclusion finally arrives. My eyes were locked onto that final page, and I was silently cursing the fact that I don't have the third novel, Requiem. Pandemonium is chaotic and compelling. You'll never want to tear your eyes away once you begin reading.

Highlights: Pandemonium pulled me in and twisted my emotions around as I followed Lena through her dangerous journey. Lena's world is more fully discovered and developed. Alternating chapters (Now and Then) provided a full view of Lena - Seeing her in both ways was fascinating: from a broken and fragile girl to a strong, determined young woman. All in all, a strong sequel.

Lowlights: Too short of story (especially for Lauren Oliver), so sometimes things felt like they were happening too fast. I was able to figure out all of the surprises before they happened1. I wasn't fond of the romantic relationship Lena begins to build - I somewhat grew to like him, but not enough to believe in their relationship.


1 Very few books surprise me. But, most "surprises" (like the ending) still made an emotional impact on me.


Images + Summary from Goodreads