Thursday, February 27, 2014

Highlights / Lowlights: GRACELING by Kristin Cashore

Author: Kristin Cashore
Published: October 2008
Series: Graceling Realm #1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 471
POV: 3rd person
Publisher: Harcourt
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
In a world where people born with an extreme skill—called a Grace—are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of the skill even shedespises: the Grace of killing. She lives under the command of her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to execute his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him.

When she first meets Prince Po, who is Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po's friend.

She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away...a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

Highlights: This is one of those books I read when it first released, and I thought it was only an "okay" type of novel. After reading (and loving) Fire and Bitterblue years later, I decided I needed to give Graceling a second chance...and I loved it. I don't know if it's because I'm older and this story resonates with me more deeply now than it did when I was a teenager, but this book is incredible. Cashore writes vividly, so you feel as if you've stumbled into another strange yet fascinating world. Her vision of this specific setting is clear, and even more so when it comes to the lively, vibrant characters who live in it. Kasta is an excellent, strong protagonist who is different from most other YA heroines. If you're looking for a fantasy novel packed with action, excitement, and convincing characters, then Graceling is the book for you. 

Lowlights: It took a little time to get into the writing style. I think it's easier to appreciate this book when rereading, rather than reading for the first time.

Rating: The Royal Library, Top Shelf. love this book, so it is going on the top shelves in the royal library where everyone can see it. I'd highly recommend GRACELING, because it is an incredible story.

My reviews of other works by this author: 
Bitterblue (Graceling Realm #3) 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (134): Snow Like Ashes

WOW is hosted by Breaking the Spine

October 14th 2014 from Balzer + Bray
A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

Sara Raasch’s debut fantasy is a lightning-fast tale of loyalty, love, and finding one’s destiny.

I'm very interested in this novel, it sounds like a story I'll love! Plus, that cover is fabulous.

What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Top Ten "Older" YA / MG Books You Should Read

Today is a Top Ten Tuesday REWIND, so I chose Top Ten "Older" Books I Don't Want People To Forget (I adjusted the title and split my picks up by year originally published - I used Goodreads for the years, so they may or may not be correct).

Top Ten Older, Must-Read Books!

The Giver by Lois Lowry: A story that can be appreciated at any age.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine: Magical, creative, and highly entertaining!

Holes by Louis Sachar: Good film, and a great novel. This is such a fun story.

Shadowland (Mediator #1) by Meg Cabot: This series is fresh, fun, and features a sassy MC. How can you go wrong? This series is my favorite from Cabot.

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen: Easily one of Dessen's best works.

Megan Meade's Guide the McGowan Boys by Kate Brian: Sports, boys,'s fabulously fun.
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld: Very creative and somewhat disturbing futuristic world.

Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs: Hilarious and very entertaining!
Graceling by Kristin Cashore: Adventure, action, romance...this high fantasy novel has it all!

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han: An easy book to pass on, but trust me when I say it's an emotional story that will surprise you. It's so emotional, and truly a great story.

What are some older (or slightly older) books that you want people to know about?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Review: CONJURED by Sarah Beth Durst

Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Released: September 3rd, 2013
Series: N/A
Genre: YA paranormal / fantasy
Pages: 368
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: eARC
Source: Publicist
Rating: The Royal Library, Middle Shelf
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.

Conjured is undoubtedly like nothing you've read before. The narration twists and shifts between different perspectives from Eve (her normal 3rd person POV, flashbacks in 1st person, and eventually, the novel shifts from 3rd to 1st person) as she attempts to come to terms with her current life in the paranormal witness protection program. But, she is haunted by memories of a twisted circus, a murderous magician, a terrifyingly captivating storyteller. None of her memories make the slightest bit of sense to her. To top it off, her peculiar abilities, when used, sometimes cause her black out and lose track of her recent memories, making it difficult to know who to trust and who is lying to her.

Durst continues to impress me with every story she writes. Her work always includes highly impressive and imaginative storylines, and Conjured is no exception. Eve's point-of-view is odd, peculiar, and the mystery surrounding her and the other characters in the paranormal witness protection program is a thrill to unravel. While I was not completely sold on the romance, the mystery and descriptive writing style make this a challenging story to set aside. With so much paranormal young adult literature, it can be difficult to differentiate between books, but this is one story that truly stands out. Darkly mysterious and eerily entrancing, Conjured is a dazzling tale that will surprise you in more ways than one.

Highlights: The twisted circus memories and realities kept me hooked. I was unable to guess the truth about Eve's origins, even though the hints were presented early on. This would be a fun book to reread, if only to see all of these hints again. Durst develops a fully realized world, both our "normal" world and the worlds in Eve's memories. The writing is lyrical at times, and wonderfully vivid.

Lowlights: The romance is underwhelming and very quick to form (or perhaps it only felt that way simply because of Eve's memory issues).

Rating: The Royal Library, Middle Shelf. Conjured is an eerily fantastic story that is worth owning, and  it has earned a spot in the royal library. I enjoyed Conjured very much, despite a one or two small issues, and would highly recommend this eerily magical story to other readers.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Covers: Perilous Sea, Ruin & Rising, & Fires of Calderon

The cover for The Fires of Calderon was revealed today, too! Looks like an exciting MG story. 

I'm loving a few of them (especially Ruin & Rising, Snow Like Ashes, The Perilous Sea), but I'm a bit underwhelmed by the VMars cover + title. 

What are your thoughts? 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (133): I'll Give You The Sun

WOW is hosted by Breaking the Spine

September 16th, 2014 from Dial BYR

A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, and loss, for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell.

Jude and her brother, Noah, are incredibly close twins. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude surfs and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and divisive ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as an unpredictable new mentor. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant, fully alive, from the critically acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

SO EXCITED for this book! I loved Nelson's The Sky is Everywhere (seriously, folks, that novel is incredible), and have been impatiently waiting for her next release. 

What are you waiting on? 

Monday, February 17, 2014


Authors: Amie Kaufman, Megan Spooner
Published: December 2013
Series: Starbound #1
Genre: YA Sci-fi / Romance
Pages: 374
POV: 1st person, dual
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Format: Hardcover
Source: Vine Program
Rating: The Royal Library, Middle Shelf

It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

I understand why many people compare this story to Titanic, because These Broken Stars strongly resembles that tragedy in more ways than one. Lilac and Tarver are two of the many current residents of the Icarus1. But, Lilac and Tarver are from two very different worlds: Lilac is the daughter of one of the most wealthy and influential men, and Tarver is a war hero from a humble background. When tragedy strikes, these two seemingly polar opposites come to rely on each other as they explore a strange new world, struggle to survive, and maybe fall in love.

While there are initially a few predictable moments, These Broken Stars captivates from the beginning and features quite a few shocking moments in the latter portion of the story. It was easy to become swept away by the two very intriguing and authentic points-of-view, the budding romance between the two narrators, and the mystery revolving around their unfortunate situation. The initial familiarity became comforting as I started to get to know the two protagonists, and I soon found myself rooting for both of them to make it through such a traumatic experience. I was expecting a story with a heavy dose of romance, so I was pleasantly surprised to find this is more of a survivalist story, with a genuine romance on the side. Exciting and thrilling, These Broken Stars is a magnificent tale of love, survival, and discovering the truth.

Highlights: The dual POV is top notch: Lilac and Tarver have their own distinct voices and personalities. Humor, romance, mystery, and more, These Broken Stars doesn't disappoint. The setting descriptions were marvelous, and made everything easy to visualize. I liked the little interruptions between chapters, involving an interview with Tarver regarding the tragedy. The romance takes some time to begin, and I'm glad that it took that time. 

Lowlights: Initially, it is a bit predictable, but that fades as the story continues. I wish more time had been spent aboard the Icarus, though.

Rating: The Royal Library, Middle ShelfThese Broken Stars is fantastic, worth owning, and has earned a spot in the royal library. I enjoyed this story very much, despite a few small issues, and would recommend this book to other readers.

1 Only a fool would name a spaceship Icarus, considering the legend. I mean, really. It's asking for trouble when you name something that flies after Icarus.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Swoonworthy Books

The Literary Classic Swoon

The Literary-Classic-Retelling Swoon

The Sci-Fi Swoon
The Host (adult)

The Fantasy Swoon
Fire and Thorns trilogy

The Dystopian Swoon
Matched trilogy
Shatter Me trilogy

The Paranormal Swoon

The Contemporary Swoon

The Crushing-On-My-Best-Friend's-Brother Swoon

The So-What-If-He's/She's-A-Ghost Swoon
Mediator series 

Whirlwind Circus Romance Swoon (Adult)

The It's-Kind-Of-Complicated Swoon
Summer trilogy

The Make-You-Cry Swoon

The Swoon-At-First-Sight

The Dessen Swoon

The Who-Needs-Romance-When-You-Have-Awesome-BFF's Swoon

What are your favorite swoonworthy books?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cover Reveal: FERAL by Holly Schindler

Today, I'm one of the many bloggers revealing the cover for Holly Schindler's upcoming novel, FERAL! Check out the cover below: 

HarperCollins - August 26, 2014

It’s too late for you. You’re dead.

Those words float through Claire Cain’s head as she lies broken and barely alive after a brutal beating. And the words continue to haunt her months later, in the relentless, terrifying nightmares that plague her sleep. So when her father is offered a teaching sabbatical in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out of Chicago, away from the things that remind her of what she went through, will offer a way to start anew.

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire quickly realizes something is wrong—the town is brimming with hidden dangers and overrun by feral cats. And her fears are confirmed when a popular high school girl, Serena Sims, is suddenly found dead in the icy woods behind the school. While everyone is quick to say Serena died in an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it—for she was the one who found Serena, battered and most certainly dead, surrounded by the town’s feral cats.

Now Claire vows to learn the truth about what happened, but the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to discovering a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley. . . .

With an eerie setting and heart-stopping twists and turns, Holly Schindler weaves a gripping story that will make you question everything you think you know.

Eerie cover and summary! What are your thoughts? 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: EMPIRE OF SHADOWS

WOW is hosted by Breaking the Spine

EMPIRE OF SHADOWS by Miriam Forster
November 4th, 2014 from HarperTeen

Cast out of her family three years ago, Mara turned to the only place that would take her—a school where students train to protect others. But Mara is stunned when guarding a noble girl in the Empire’s capital turns out to be more dangerous than she could’ve imagined. More shocking still, she finds the boy she thought she had lost forever outside the gates of her new home.

Mara knew her life in the dizzying Imperial city would hold dangers. How could she have known that her heart, as well as her life, would be at stake?

Empire of Shadows will take readers on a spellbinding journey into the world Miriam Forster first introduced in City of a Thousand Dolls—a world with a divided society, deadly courtiers, heroic traitors, and deeply laid conspiracies.

I really enjoyed Forster's first novel, so I'm thrilled to see a companion novel to CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS. And look at that cover! Very eye-catching. 

What are you waiting on? 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Review: PANIC by Lauren Oliver

Title: PANIC
Author: Lauren Oliver
Published: March 4th, 2014
Series: N/A
Genre: YA contemporary
Pages: 416
POV: 3rd person, dual
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: Electronic ARC
Source: Edelweiss
Rating: The Royal Library, Middle Shelf
Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

Everyone at the local high school in Carp, Pennsylvania pays into Panic and keeps their mouths shut about the game – or else. But, Panic is open exclusively to graduating seniors, and only the brave will stand a chance at succeeding. A game that is as deadly as it is dangerously exciting, Panic encourages players to risk everything for a jackpot of $68,000 – the kind of money that can change a life, or buy you a new one. From thrilling cliff-side dives to avoiding a bullet, there's never a dull moment or a shortage of "unintended" accidents. But, no matter who gets hurt or what lives are lost, the game must go on. The game always goes on.

With Panic, Lauren Oliver dives (with quite a splash) back into contemporary YA with this this gritty realistic story. Thrilling, captivating, and fascinating, Panic delves into a dangerous game where participants are willing to do whatever it takes to take home an impressive monetary prize. Friendships are tested, sides are chosen, and manipulation is fair game. But even more, this story portrays various familial circumstances, both heartwarming and heartbreaking. While some of the connections – familial, friendship, romantic – flicker out and fade into darkness, others burn brightly as the story progresses. Panic is an incredible story that will keep you up late at night, anxious, excited, and thoroughly captivated.  

Highlights: I read this novel in one day, completely incapable of stopping myself or my curiosity. The characters, while not immediately likable, proved to be fascinating protagonists1. The game itself took turns that I didn't see coming, and the ending was certainly a nail-biting surprise. I love how focused this story is on family and friends. 

Lowlights: Certain aspects were very predictable and transparent (Dodge's reason for entering, and another character's role in Panic). 

Rating: The Royal Library, Middle ShelfPanic is fantastic, worth owning, and has earned a spot in the royal library. I enjoyed this story very much, despite a couple small issues, and would recommend this story to other readers.

1 I'm sure there will be plenty of people who will dislike them, regardless. But, I found them to be realistic - they're not all good or all bad. They have moments of being both. 

Other Works By This Author: 
LIESL & PO (Goodreads)

Saturday, February 8, 2014


Miriam Forster, you have the best covers. Seriously. 

I like it. It stands out, and I love the design. 

Slightly eerie. I love it. 

Not quite as WOW as NaDtD, but still a great cover!


This one is very interesting. I don't think I've seen a cover quite like it before!


I'm not really a fan of any of these, but I do think the no-face covers are an improvement. 

Reminds me of ATU. A bit strange but interesting to look at! 

This one is a bit more plain / simplistic, but I'm excited. 
Lauren Oliver books are always wonderful!

Have you spotted any new covers? 

The Queen's Library (41): December, January, and early February Recap and Books

These past couple months have been pretty hectic - both good and bad. A family member is currently suffering serious health issues, and it is not looking as though they will improve, so I've been stressing over that for the past three or four weeks. I'm trying to keep the blog running, but I might be a bit slow to reply to comments  and to comment on other blogs.

But, despite some of the stresses, there have been some great moments. In December, I went to Las Vegas with my family:

Both pictures are from the fountain show out front of the Bellagio - which is truly gorgeous, even if it was insanely crowded. One thing you quickly learn while in Vegas is that people are everywhere, and they are constantly bumping into you. I also saw Cirque du Soleil's Mystere, which was outstanding. I was skeptical going in, because I assumed the show would not live up to the hype, but they won me over very quickly. Their performance was truly out of this world, I'm still amazed when I think about some of the stunts they pulled. If you ever visit Las Vegas, you need to splurge a bit and see one of their shows! I only wish I could seen more. My family and I attended Criss Angel's Believe, which was interesting (I love magic), but it was too reliant on bright flashes of light (which bothered my eyes and gave me a headache by the end). In all, December was great, January was somewhat terrible, and I'm hoping February will be a better month.

Now, onto the books I bought and received for December, January, and part of February:

EXILE (review)
REACHED (review)
JUST ONE DAY (review)
SCARLET (Spanish edition) (review)

(3.92 Fall Semester GPA = great grades = books as gifts to celebrate = awesome)

THE RULE OF 3 (Finished)
HOLLOW CITY (Finished)

This 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, February 5, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (131): DEEP BLUE

WOW is hosted by Breaking the Spine

May 6th 2014
Disney Press
The first in a series of four epic tales set in the depths of the ocean, where six mermaids seek to protect and save their hidden world.

Deep in the ocean, in a world not so different from our own, live the merpeople. Their communities are spread throughout the oceans, seas, and freshwaters all over the globe.

When Serafina, a mermaid of the Mediterranean Sea, awakens on the morning of her betrothal, her biggest worry should be winning the love of handsome Prince Mahdi. And yet Sera finds herself haunted by strange dreams that foretell the return of an ancient evil. Her dark premonitions are confirmed when an assassin's arrow poisons Sera's mother. Now, Serafina must embark on a quest to find the assassin's master and prevent a war between the Mer nations. Led only by her shadowy dreams, Sera searches for five other mermaid heroines who are scattered across the six seas. Together, they will form an unbreakable bond of sisterhood and uncover a conspiracy that threatens their world's very existence.

I cannot remember if I've said this before, but I'm a huge fan of mermaid stories. Really. I was obsessed with this ridiculous (but awesome) mermaid story as a little kid, loved Disney's The Little Mermaid, and my biggest childhood ambition was to become a mermaid (which, obviously and unfortunately, did not happen).

So, I'm incredibly excited for DEEP BLUE. It sounds like an outstanding story, and I'm curious to see what these merpeople and their world are like. I just wish I had a time machine so I could fast-forward to May! *waits impatiently for the release date*

What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Review: THE BOOK OF BROKEN HEARTS by Sarah Ockler

Author: Sarah Ockler
Published: May 2013
Series: N/A
Genre: YA contemporary
Pages: 352
POV: 1st person
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Rating: The Royal Library, Top Shelf
Jude has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers. She’s seen the tears and disasters that dating a Vargas boy can cause, and she swore an oath—with candles and a contract and everything—to never have anything to do with one.

Now Jude is the only sister still living at home, and she’s spending the summer helping her ailing father restore his vintage motorcycle—which means hiring a mechanic to help out. Is it Jude’s fault he happens to be cute? And surprisingly sweet? And a Vargas?

Jude tells herself it’s strictly bike business with Emilio. Her sisters will never find out, and Jude can spot those flirty little Vargas tricks a mile away—no way would she fall for them. But Jude’s defenses are crumbling, and if history is destined to repeat itself, she’s speeding toward some serious heartbreak…unless her sisters were wrong?

Jude may have taken an oath, but she’s beginning to think that when it comes to love, some promises might be worth breaking.

Sarah Ockler is an author that could be easily missed when strolling through a bookstore or when browsing online. If you're one of those people who strolls on by her stories, I can honestly say you are making a mistake. Her books have these cute and utterly adorable covers that fit the lighter moments, but they fail to capture the intensity of emotions Ockler will put you and her characters through by the time the final page has arrived. That intensity is one aspect I have grown to love regarding Ockler's novels, because her books always prove to be more heartfelt than you may originally suspect. Jude Hernandez's story is no exception, and The Book of Broken Hearts deserves a chance to be on your to-read pile.

A girl, a boy, a vintage motorcycle, a struggling family, and a star-crossed romance. Ockler's books begin with familiarity, and she breaks it down wonderfully. The characters are authentic, the problems are down to earth, and the overall meaning is something you take with you wherever you go. The Book of Broken Hearts explores what it means to be family, the struggles of friendship, as well as the complications that come from falling in love with the "wrong" sort of person. Bittersweet, playful, and memorable, The Book of Broken Hearts captured my heart entirely.

Highlights: Family is emphasized, and I loved Jude's relationship with her father. It's sweet and heartbreaking as Ockler portrays the slow descent into Alzheimer's. All of the character's were realistic and easy to imagine. There's a lot of levity mixed in with the more serious situations, and Ockler balances each emotion realistically. 

Lowlights: I think it would have been nice to learn a bit more about Emilio. Just a little.

Rating: The Royal Library, Top Shelf. The Book of Broken Hearts is emotional, amusing, and worth every penny. This book is a must-read.