Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Top Ten Words That Instantly Make Me Buy or Pick Up a Book

If a book has any of these words on (A) the cover, (B) in the summary or (C) in the author blurbs, I'm pretty much guaranteed to pick it up and start reading to see if I'll like it:

What words make you pick up a book? 


Hosted by and TTT Image from THE BROKE AND THE BOOKISH

Monday, April 29, 2013

Review: SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo

Author: Leigh Bardugo
Published: June 5th, 2012
Series: The Grisha #1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 358
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Rating: 5 out of 5
"Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart."
Alina Starkov is hardly an exceptional being – she's a thin, sickly orphan girl who cannot even sketch very well when it comes to her job as a junior cartographer's assistant in the Ravkan army. But, after she unleashes her hidden Grisha (talented people who use the Small Science of the elements) side in order to save her childhood best friend Mal, Alina is whisked away to live like a Grisha. And as she learns to unleash the Grisha part of herself, she slowly evolves into something more than a sickly orphan. But, it's not being Grisha that makes Alina a fascinating protagonist –  it's her growing determination and budding confidence, along with her weaker moments, that cause her to become a character a reader can root for.

SHADOW AND BONE is richly descriptive and engrossing. I'm an avid fan of YA fantasy novels, so Bardugo had a lot to live up to in my mind – and she nailed it. From the first page, Bardugo thrusts the reader into another world with an intriguing 3rd person introduction, before switching to Alina's POV for the rest of the novel. Bardugo writes her settings vividly and expertly evokes the wanting, the adoration, the hatred, the desperation, and every other emotions swirling around inside her characters. This novel is a slow burn, taking its time as it builds the plot, setting, and develops the characters. In all, SHADOW AND BONE is a pleasant surprise that has me eagerly looking forward to more works written by Bardugo. 

Highlights: The world building is excellently done, richly described. As far as villains go, the Darkling is one the best that I've read in a long time, simply because he is layered as a character. I still do not know how I feel about him, and I think that's a mark of a well-written and complex villain. Plus, there is a stunningly incredible map inside this book1. Alina's growth from taking the easy way out to taking the hard path made her very endearing to me. 

Lowlights: For the most part, not much happens during the middle of the story. Most of the exciting parts happen right at the beginning and then at the end, with the middle being more about Alina struggling and coming to terms with her Grisha side. It wasn't enough to bother me that much, I was just surprised at the pacing of the story. 

Cover: Excuse me while I fangirl over that cover art. I'm a fan of illustrated covers, and this one is exceptional. Simple, with a nice mixture of light and dark swirls (and I love how the lighter ones also resemble antlers). It perfectly portrays significant aspects of the novel visually.

1 I love maps. Maps in books = awesome. Seriously, just look at it:


Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Queen's Library (30)

Purchased for Kindle
SABRIEL by Garth Nix
UNRAVELING by Elizabeth Norris
WHAT I DIDN'T SAY by Keary Taylor (FREE!)
THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater (My Review)

What books did you get this week? 


The feature is inspired by Pop Culture Junkie's This Week In Books, The Story Siren's In My Mailbox, and Mailbox Monday. The Queen's Library is a way for me to feature books that I add to my bookshelves and a place to post my weekly recommendations. This is not a new meme, but merely an adjusted feature that is better suited to my blog and needs.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (106): THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING and CONJURED

August 27th, 2013
"Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?"

I've been curious about this one ever since Robyn Schneider posted a video of herself reading the first chapter (it used to be titled SEVERED HEADS, BROKEN HEARTS -- although, I think the UK version will keep that title). It seems like an interesting story, I'm excited for it to release!

CONJURED by Sarah Beth Durst
September 3rd 2013
"Eve has a new home, a new face, and a new name—but no memories of her past. She’s been told that she's in a witness protection program. That she escaped a dangerous magic-wielding serial killer who still hunts her. The only thing she knows for sure is that there is something horrifying in her memories the people hiding her want to access—and there is nothing they won’t say—or do—to her to get her to remember.

At night she dreams of a tattered carnival tent and buttons being sewn into her skin. But during the day, she shelves books at the local library, trying to not let anyone know that she can do things—things like change the color of her eyes or walk through walls. When she does use her strange powers, she blacks out and is drawn into terrifying visions, returning to find that days or weeks have passed—and she’s lost all short-term memories. Eve must find out who and what she really is before the killer finds her—but the truth may be more dangerous than anyone could have ever imagined."

I'm a fan of SBD's novels, so I'm naturally curious about this one. It sounds fantastic!

What are you waiting on this week?


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Top Ten Books I Thought I'd Like More / Less Than I Did


1.   THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J Maas: I'm a big fan of the novellas, but the novel let me down a bit. Perhaps I'll like it more when I reread it.

2.   REQUIEM by Lauren Oliver: A good story, but that ending killed it for me. Too little is answered, and I'm still angry at the lack of answers.

3.   BEAUTY QUEENS by Libba Bray: I loved GOING BOVINE and really like the Gemma Doyle books, but this one was only okay for me. Such a shame.

4.   IMPOSSIBLE by Nancy Werlin: I don't think I'm a fan of this author's writing style, because a lot of other people loved this book, and I could barely stand to read the entire thing.

5.   THE BEGINNING OF AFTER by Jennifer Castle: I really thought I was going to love this book, but it ended up being sort of average.


6.   THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green: Why did I doubt you, John Green? Excellent voice, lovely writing, and a heartbreaking story. I feel like an idiot for thinking I wouldn't like it.

7.   STORM by Brigid Kemmerer: I normally don't expect much from a novel published by a small press, but this book was so much better than I expected. A few flaws, but such a fun read! Plus, it's filled with incredible characters, like the lovable Merrick boys :)

8.   BLOOD RED ROAD by Moira Young: The strange way that it is written almost made me give up, and I'm glad that I didn't. This book is filled with complex characters and exciting, action-packed moments.

9.   ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD by Kendare Blake: Ghosts, fun friends, gory scenes, and a great MC - why did I originally doubt I would like this book?

10.   WANDERLOVE by Kirsten Hubbard: I liked LIKE MANDARIN, but wasn't expecting this book to be anything special. It was. I adore this book, especially the artwork.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Mini-Review: COUNTING BACKWARDS by Laura Lascarso

Author: Laura Lascarso
Published: August 14th 2012
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Atheneum
Pages: 279
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher (unsolicited)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Taylor Truwell is a troubled girl with a neglectful mother, a callous father, and an urge to flee. When Taylor is caught with a stolen car and lands in court for resisting arrest, her father convinces the judge to issue an alternative punishment: treatment in a juvenile psychiatric correctional facility. And so Taylor arrives at Sunny Meadows.

Sunny Meadows is anything but the easy way out, and Taylor has to fight hard just to cling to her sanity as she battles her parents, her therapist, and a group of particularly nasty fellow patients, the Latina Queens. But even as Taylor struggles to hold on to her stubborn former self, she finds herself relenting as she lets in two unlikely friends - Margo, a former child star and arsonist, and AJ, a mysterious boy who doesn't speak.

Sunny Meadows goes against everything Taylor stands for. But is it the only place that can save her?

Taylor Truwell is angry – at her drunken mother, and especially at her impossible-to-please father, since he's the one who convinced the judge to send Taylor to Sunny Meadows. From trying to break out of Sunny Meadows to trying to fit in so she can be released, Taylor goes on a personal journey to find out who she is and who she wants to be. Right from the beginning, Taylor's strong voice and personality easily captured my attention, and Taylor's character growth throughout the novel is wonderfully written and portrayed. Lascarso lets readers see Taylor at her absolute worst and best through the sparse, straightforward 1st person narration. And, with an excellently diverse supporting cast, Lascarso fills COUNTING BACKWARDS with intriguing yet realistic characters that you cannot help but to enjoy. A story about friendship, family, and change, COUNTING BACKWARDS proves itself to be an enjoyable read. 

Highlights: Good pacing and a good conclusion. Diverse characters. A very vivid setting, I felt like I could envision Sunny Meadows perfectly. I enjoyed how much the characters evolved and how Lascarso altered my opinion of them throughout the story. A.J was such a sweetheart, and Margo was an awesome character. Themes of change, coming-of-age, friendship, family, and becoming the person you want to be.

Lowlights: Very predictable. I had a difficult time connecting with Taylor, but I was still rooting for her throughout the story. In the end, it seemed as though the writing was too weak or the story was too short to make a lasting, emotional impact (but I could be in the minority on this point, so give this story a chance). 


Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Queen's Library (29)

Kindle Books - Purchased
FEED by Mira Grant
UNRAVEL ME by Tahereh Mafi
FORGIVE MY FINS by Tera Lynn Childs
BOUNDLESS by Cynthia Hand
THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Printed Books - Purchased
DON'T BREATHE A WORD by Holly Cupala
FROI OF THE EXILES by Melina Marchetta

Kindle deals are my weakness, apparently. I finally purchased some printed books though, and I'm really excited to start FROI! I loved FINNIKIN, and I've heard that FROI is even better.

What books did you get?


The feature is inspired by Pop Culture Junkie's This Week In Books, The Story Siren's In My Mailbox, and Mailbox Monday. The Queen's Library is a way for me to feature books that I add to my bookshelves and a place to post my weekly recommendations. This is not a new meme, but merely an adjusted feature that is better suited to my blog and needs.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Giveaway: YA Pre-Order Book of Choice

Is there an upcoming YA novel that you have your eye on? 

I know there's a few that I'm eager to read! There are so many awesome YA novels to look forward to. Enter below for your chance to win a pre-order of any upcoming YA novel!

Ends on May 23rd, 2013
(Book Depository must ship to you)

Good luck!


Giveaway: YA Paperback Book of Choice

What better way to start spring & summer than with a new book? 

I may be a fan of hardcover novels, but I adore paperbacks too.  They're light & perfect for a trip to the beach. So, I thought I'd show some paperback love and give one away to my readers. 

Ends on May 17th, 2013
(Book Depository must ship to you)


And I'm Back!

Just a quick notice that I'll be easing my way back into blogging - and, I thought I'd begin with a couple giveaways to celebrate spring and the upcoming summer months. Keep an eye on the blog today, two international giveaways will be going up shortly.

Hope everyone is doing well and having a fabulous day!


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Operation Teen Book Drop on 4/18!

I know I'm still on a short blogging break (but I'll be coming back in a week or so, I promise), but I wanted to take a quick moment to share news of OPERATION TEEN BOOK DROP 2013, hosted by the lovely readergirlz. I've always had so much fun participating in this, and I wanted to make sure everyone didn't forget about it. 

Wondering what exactly is Operation Teen Book Drop, and how to participate?

It's simple and fun, if you want to participate! 
  • On Thursday, April 18th, grab an awesome YA novel that you're willing to part with
  • Print out an official bookplate
  • Place the bookplate inside or attach it to the cover (I usually stick the bookplate inside and put a sticky note on the cover that says FREE BOOK)
  • Drop the book off somewhere in your local area (like a coffee shop table, college campus, local park, bus stop bench, wherever you think it might get picked up)! 
  • And that's it! 

Easy, right? Even if you can only drop one YA novel, you're still going to make one person's day spectacular. So spread some YA lit love, and tweet using the #rockthedrop hashtag to share photos and your experience on Thursday! And for more info, head over to readergirlz! 

Hope you rock the drop this Thursday!


Image and info from readergirlz website

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

(Another) Blogging Break: Taking Two Weeks Off

I'm a bit busy right now with my college classes1, so I decided to take the next two weeks off in order to finish all of the papers I need to write. I'll make sure to write up some reviews and interesting posts too, so I can come back with plenty of content to share! I'll try to hang around Twitter, so you can likely catch me there for brief amounts of time. 

Hope everyone is having a lovely day! 


1 So many essays and a mountain of reading - the joys of being an English major ;)