Thursday, February 28, 2013

ARC Review: Going Vintage

Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt
4/5 stars
Bloomsbury, 2013
310 pages
YA Contemporary
Scheduled to release March 26

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Lindsey Leavitt is definitely one of my favorite authors-she writes such funny and moving stories, usually with a strong focus on family, something I really appreciate. She's primarily written in the contemporary genre so I was surprised and interested to see that it looked like she was tackling historical with this, her latest release. Except I misunderstood the blurb-this book is very much set in the here and now albeit with homages to the past.

When Mallory discovers her cute boyfriend Jeremy has been cheating on her with some girl online, she reacts very strongly to put it mildly. Beyond dumping him, she decides to behave as if she lived in 1962 and plans to imitate the list her then teenage grandmother made. This includes forming a pep club, sewing a dress, and doing something dangerous. As Mallory drags others into her new obsession, her life becomes increasingly complicated and she starts to doubt her plan.

Remember how I said Leavitt writes good family stories? Well, this one is no exception. Mallory has a younger sister named Ginnie who is an excellent character as well as bickering parents (on the verge of divorce?) and the aforementioned grandmother whose high school years were perhaps not as idyllic as Mallory thinks. I cannot emphasize how much I liked Ginnie-she clearly thinks Mallory has gone a bit overboard but she is mostly enthusiastic in supporting her sister and reaps some great benefits as a result.

There were unfortunately some things I really didn't like though. The first one is probably just because I'm a bit older than Mallory and have survived my teenage years as well as being interested in history, I could tell her that the past is never as perfect as it seems in pictures and memories. Thank goodness Mallory learns this but I got a bit frustrated with her over the course of the novel because of that. The other problem was the timeline. Everything seemed to happen at warp speed, much faster than I would have expected. It just seemed exceptionally unrealistic to me.

Overall: A fun title from Leavitt-I continue to love her writing!

Other Opinions:
Cornucopia of Reviews
Tahleen's Mixed-Up Files

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

ARC Review: Legacy of the Clockwork Key

Legacy of the Clockwork Key by Kristin Bailey
3/5 stars
Simon Pulse, 2013
403 pages
YA Historical
Scheduled to release March 5

Source: Received an e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I don't remember exactly how I stumbled over this book but I remember perusing Goodreads and adding it to my to-read list and then hoping it would show up on Netgalley or Edelweiss; then it did and I prayed to be accepted. Let's just say there was some serious happy dancing when I received notification I could download this.

The plot summary just sounded so exciting: secret societies, mechanical inventions, cute stable boys named Will...what more could you ask for in a book? Well, unfortunately I did want something more although it's the kind of something that is difficult to put in words. Basically as I was reading this, I never felt connected to the characters, the setting, the plot, the overarching mythology. I flipped the pages in a daze, hoping for something to spark my interest but never found it.

The main character, Meg, is a very young recently orphaned teenager who has accepted employ as a maid before embarking on an investigation of a mysterious clockwork key in her possession that holds the answer to questions about her family. The stable boy Will reluctantly comes along and a romance blossoms. I mentioned that Meg is very young-I don't remember if her age is mentioned but she seemed really young and naive to me. I don't know if it's because I'm more used to reading savvy contemporary teenagers or if it was some other reason. Will is confusingly hot and cold to Meg, annoyingly hot and cold to me, which just about breaks my heart because if there's a book boy name that I love, it is Will.

There are some other characters and I'll admit that the plot picked up a bit once Meg and Will began their search but it was never full-throttle action or anything exciting like that. I found the writing competent and that there were some cool concepts (I'm thinking of the maze as well as all the inventions in general) but nothing extraordinary.

Overall: I was completely unable to form a bond with the main character and trudged through the book, mostly being too stubborn to DNF.

Other Opinions:
Books Live Forever
Whatever You Can Still Betray

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Eleanor and Park

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
5/5 stars
St. Martin's Griffin, 2013
325 pages
YA Historical Realistic

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

It is still blowing my mind that this is technically a historical fiction novel since it is set in 1986 (I wasn't even alive then!) But that is mostly because I am struggling to put down in words just how much I loved this book.

On the surface, not much happens. Eleanor meets Park under less than auspicious circumstances: she's a new student on the bus and doesn't have a seat. He begrudgingly moves over. Soon they're bonding over comics and music and falling in love. But Eleanor's home life is a mess and the course of true love never did run smooth.

Just as Eleanor and Park are not immediately friends, this book and I did not immediately click. I was just very skeptical despite having seen several glowing reviews. But both Park and I were soon won over by Eleanor-her frankness, her kindness, her commitment to being herself. Soon we the reader get more insight into Eleanor's crappy home (her divorced mother married an abusive alcoholic man and Eleanor was estranged from them for a year after upsetting the husband; she also has four younger siblings making for a chaotic house. Meanwhile her father is incredibly selfish and thoughtless.) Park seems to have the perfect life with two parents who are still madly in love and a younger brother but deals with his own burdens: a father who doesn't think he's masculine enough and racism as he is half-Korean and looks it.

There's a lot of ground to cover and I thought Rowell handled the pacing well. The narration alternates between Park and Eleanor, which allowed me to bond with each of them as I journeyed through their story.  I was particularly interested in the music described and I bet this book would be a kick for anyone who was a teenager then, bringing back some fond memories.

The parts that I thought were exceptionally well-done were the descriptions of the physical interactions between Eleanor and Park. I've read a good amount of romance and other adult books as well as pretty extensively in the YA category and no book in recent memory has done such a good job of evoking the feelings and sensations of first love/young love. Just holding hands sends the pair waxing rhapsodic and had me frantically flipping the pages for more.

I know I gave this book a perfect 5 and I stand by that rating but my one complaint would be that the ending is a bit ambiguous for my taste. I'm sure some readers really appreciated that since it is realistic and thus fitting for the genre but I like all the little pieces tied up in the bow and one important piece was not as resolved as I wanted although it is leaning in that direction.

As I wrote this, I ended up hugging my nook because it held the e-copy of this book. I can't wait to have an actual hard copy to hold. Highly recommended!

Other Opinions:
Beauty and the Bookshelf 
From the TBR Pile
Pure Imagination
Rather Be Reading
The Flyleaf Review

Monday, February 25, 2013

ARC Review: The Duke Diaries

The Duke Diaries by Sophia Nash
4/5 stars
Avon, 2013
384 pages
Adult Historical Romance Comedy
Scheduled to release February 26

Source: Received an e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

As I mentioned in my review of first book Between the Duke and the Deep Blue Sea (I seemed to have missed book two), these books seem to be much more focused on comedy than on accurately capturing its purported time period. As someone who adores lighthearted stories, this isn't really a problem a for me although it bothered me more here than it did in the first book.

The biggest problem was the ultimate climax and resolution (revolving around the titular diaries) of the story, which I won't share for fear of spoilers. Suffice it to say that I was shaking my head at the utter ludicrousness and I know that I'm very gullible so if even I had difficulty swallowing the scenes, there will definitely be others who scoff at it.

But the plot is not the main reason to read. No, the main reason to read is for delightful characters and their quippy conversations. Our hero and heroine in this story have a history, being neighbors: Rory, Duke of Abshire and Lady Verity, sister to another duke. Their past is very complicated and that creates additional complications on their way to true love and happily ever after. 

As I mentioned, this is technically part of a series. I feel like some of the characters I should have known already from book one and I know some of the characters played a role in book two after reading the summaries so it was personally frustrating that my memory was failing me on how exactly they all fit together. I can't believe I'm saying this but maybe there were too many dukes! (How can there be too many dukes? I know but kind of felt that way.)

Overall: A pleasant afternoon diversion-I do recommend reading the series in order if you can just because the characters do pop up in each other's stories but can also be read as a standalone if you want to check out Nash's style in this series.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Week to Come (24FEB13)


Christina at A Reader of Fictions talked in this blog post about the importance of responding to comments. I don't usually respond for a couple of reasons:
1. I never remember to check back at a blog post where I commented unless I leave a very specific question that I want an answer to so I figure some others are like me too.
2. I worry that it looks like I'm trying to inflate my comments as that automatically doubles my comment count.
3. Sometimes it is honestly lack of time.

However this past week I have set aside a few minutes each night to respond to comments from Tuesday onward so if you want to look at that, you can!


I adore award shows so I'm looking forward to watching the Academy Awards tonight. I love the dresses and am interested in how Seth McFarlane does as host.

Books Received (as stated last week, these were requested pre-Lent but I only now received notification about now):

How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer
The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise
You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle
Transparent by Natalie Whipple
Life After Theft by Aprilynne Pike
September Girls by Bennett Madison
The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes
The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler
Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead
Wednesdays in the Tower by Jessica Day George
The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa

My Vine picks this week were Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers and Breath by Jackie Morse Kessler (yay!)

As usual, reviews will be posted no more than 30 days before publication date.

Week to Come:

Monday is adult focusing on the romantic historical comedy The Duke Diaries by Sophia Nash, book 3 of her Royal Entourage series.

Tuesday is Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell-did this historical (set in 1983!) tickle my buttons? (spoiler alert on goodreads-friend me!)

Wednesday is Legacy of the Clockwork Key by Kristin Bailey

Thursday is Lindsey Leavitt's Going Vintage; she's one of my favorite authors so this has been highly anticipated!

Then we end the week with Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg, another beloved author.

Saturday brings us the second day of a new month, which means my discussion post about the next section of War and Peace will go live (Have I finished the reading? Not as of this writing but that will be a priority for me.)

Saturday, February 23, 2013


Iscariot by Tosca Lee
4/5 stars
Howard Books, 2013
314 pages
Adult Christian Historical Fiction

Source: Received an e-copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I read Lee's Havah previously, which focused on Eve and the Garden of Eden. I remember seeing at that time that Lee was working on a novel focusing on Judas Iscariot so I've been waiting for that to be released and it is finally here! Does Lee bring you to understand and/or sympathize with the traitor?

The beginning of the book certainly leads to empathy as young Judas' family is ripped apart in the face of Roman oppression. He lose his father and older brother while his mother turns to prostitution to keep them alive. As Judas grows up, he struggles with his feelings of guilt over his family's path. Then he hears about a mysterious Nazarene who with one look pierces Judas and brings him on an unforgettable journey.

By far my favorite part of this book was reading about Jesus (no surprise as my favorite biblical stories are also all about Jesus) in that Lee tells some of the familiar scriptural stories but as seen by Judas. The love that is Jesus brought me to tears several times-he heals leprosy, paralysis, and blindness. Judas' descriptions here bring home how revolutionary Jesus was and how he didn't meet the expectations of the Jewish leaders who were looking for a messiah. They wanted a man to take up arms and forcibly destroy Roman rule and instead they got a man who hangs out with lowly fishermen and the despised tax collectors and prostitutes, a man who talks in parables instead of learned language, and a man who does not bow down to them. Of course I already knew that I loved Jesus but I would say this helped me fall ever deeper.

What I didn't like about this book was the beginning focusing on the childhood of Judas just because I didn't really care. I can see how that was supposed to give Judas more depth and lay the foundation for why he eventually betrays Jesus but I really just wanted to read about Jesus' ministry.

Meanwhile I originally had disappointment about the ending, which I thought would force Judas to bear witness to Jesus' crucifixion (I might be a bit fuzzy on when he hung himself). When I read it for a second time, I was much more content. It is a meditative reflection with Judas recognizing that he will be remembered as a traitor but that Jesus still loves him. That Jesus does not conform to our pat assumptions and expectations but is instead so much more. That Jesus came for us.

Overall: A really fascinating book and recommended to read during the lead-up to Easter for Christians. What expectations of yours might be overturned?

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Dead and Buried

The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington
4/5 stars
Point, 2013
295 pages
YA Mystery Paranormal

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I became interested in this after reading a couple of reviews (see below for links) touching on its mystery aspect. While I mostly read YA, when I venture out to adult books, it is usually for either romance or mystery. I just feel like YA doesn't have many good mysteries. I also adore ghost stories although the ones I read tend to be love stories. The malevolent ghost here is an anomaly in my reading habits.

In this story Jade and her family have recently moved to a new house with her younger brother mentioning that he sees a girl, something Jade brushes off as she prepares for school. In addition to the usual struggles a new kid faces, Jade is soon the object of gossip because she lives in the murder house. Yes, the girl her younger brother sees is a ghost, the former most popular girl at school, Kayla, was murdered in her own home and she will torment Jade's family unless Jade finds her murderer.

As I've mentioned before on the blog, I am not good at solving mysteries and this was no exception. I fingered the same person that Jade suspects but it turns out to be someone else. The murderer's reason makes perfect sense but I'm just not good at picking out who has something to gain or who has the opportunity until the characters have already figured it out for themselves. Anyway...

One of my favorite parts of Jade's character was her interest in gemstones, inherited from her mother. Every day she picks out a new piece of jewelry to complement her mood and to shed light on what's going to happen. Another part of Jade's personality is her deep love for her much younger brother. He's technically her half-brother, sharing a father, but she makes no distinction for him; I only bring it up because it does play a role in the subplot. I love sister-sister stories but lately I've read a few really cute sister-brother sisters including this one and I think I am willing to extend my love to all focuses on sibling relationships.

I feel like such a cranky reviewer about this one point. The students study Rebecca and the story has real-life parallels to Jade's feelings of insecurity in the face of Kayla's supreme popularity.  On the one hand, I wish that had been emphasized more. But if it had, I might have found it heavy-handed and like the author didn't trust me to understand them on my own. See why I feel cranky? But I also love the Rebecca parallel because it's a great book and my sister also loved that classic so I might suggest this read for her too.

Overall: A really fun, flowing mystery with the ghost adding a great deal of tension.

Cover: It makes sense that there is a dead girl on the cover, capturing Kayla in her afterlife. Some jade green might have been a nice touch though.

Other Opinions:
Book Labyrinth
Books Live Forever
Jen Ryland/YA Romantics

Thursday, February 21, 2013

ARC Review: The DIfferent Girl

The Different Girl by Gordon Dahlquist
3.5/5 stars
Dutton Books, 2013
230 pages
YA Science-Fiction

Source: Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I just finished reading this and I'm not really sure what to say. This is definitely a more quiet and contemplative novel than what I usually read. That can be a really good thing for a certain kind of reader but I'm not sure I'm that reader. I finished and I have so many questions, which I think is what Dahlquist wanted. But as a reader, I wanted concrete answers and am left unsatisfied.

The book takes place on an island with four nearly identical girls and their two adult caretakers (for lack of a better word). Those four girls look the same except for different hair color and slight personality differences (our narrator seems to be a bit more willful and one of the girls dreams while the others do not). Then one day, while exploring, our narrator Veronika stumbles across a shipwrecked different girl who inadvertently precedes some significant changes. I don't want to share too much because the pleasure of the novel relies on unraveling (some of) these mysteries as you read.

It's a quieter, more contemplative novel than most YA out there, which is good and bad. It is good because it helps distinguish this book in the very crowded category. But it was bad for my experience because I expect more action and more drama in my YA and I felt that this just didn't deliver.  It is also possible that this book leans too heavily in the science-fiction direction, a genre I don't tend to like. I love fairy tales and contemporaries; this is neither.

Another problem for me was the characters, all of whom were kept an arm's length away. When I read, I tend to want to identify with the main character, either because we're both sisters, we're both good students, we're both readers...something in their personality or the anxiety they're feeling. I didn't have that connection here and while I was able to finish the book (it's pretty short), I probably wouldn't have had it been longer.

Overall: A change of pace from my usual reads but not one I'd recommend to people with similar reading taste.

Other Opinions:
Alamosa Books
Good Books and Good Wine
Miss Literati
My Corner of the Universe
The Book Smugglers

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Fire Horse Girl

The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman
4/5 stars
Arthur A Levine Books, 2013
329 pages
YA Historical

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I look at this cover, I don't think "historical fiction" and yet that is the genre and is ultimately why I decided to give this a read. I love learning about unheralded historical events and the Chinese immigration in the 1920s certainly qualifies as that for most American classrooms. I learned about the Chinese Exclusion Act and the many prejudices but

The book is divided into roughly two parts. Part one is in China and introduces us to Jade Moon, the titular Fire Horse Girl, a sign that is considered extremely unlucky. Whereas the perfect girl is supposed to be demure and obedient, Jade Moon seems to bumble into everything, unable to contain her temper and suffocating under her father's strict regime. But an opportunity arrives to travel to America. Once there she suffers the indignities practiced against Chinese immigrants and waits for weeks to leave confinement, eventually risking it all in a daring maneuver. The second part follows her life disguised as a boy and trying to make a living in America.

I found the second part to be much more interesting. In fact, the main reason for my rating is that it seemed to take forever to reach what I found to be a more exciting part. Once Jade Moon has dressed as a boy, the story gallops along. Finally she is allowed, nay, expected to have an opinion, to bristle when she doesn't like the treatment she receives, and to physically fight back. I loved everything about this section and wish we could have even gotten a bit more because my appetite was not sated.

As for the first part, I can definitely see how it was necessary to set up the contrasts of life in China and life in America and for men versus women. But it just seemed to take so long. I almost gave up several times but kept pushing, knowing that some of my blogger friends loved this book. And it ended up being seriously worth it. So push through!

Jade Moon is a great heroine. She is unsure about her place in the world but dreaming of something big. She is not content to give up and fights for what is right, whether through words of strategy or her fists. Her family is pretty awful, content to blame her sign and to crush her spirit. Sterling Promise, her opportunity to reach America, was very confusing, with mixed changing motivations. Yes, some sparks fly but their relationship is far more than complicated than can be properly conveyed in this review. From the American section, for those of you who've read this, I loved Neil-how could I not?

Other Opinions:
City of Books
Confessions of a Readaholic
Good Books and Good Wine
Ms. Yingling Reads

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

ARC Review: Also Known As

Also Known As by Robin Benway
4.5/5 stars
Walker & Company, 2013
369 pages
YA Comedy Mystery
Scheduled to release February 26

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I've had mixed success with Robin Benway's writing, DNF-ing Audrey, Wait! due to its profanity but adoring The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June. I was hoping my reaction to this book would be similarly positive and I am pleased to report that it is.

I found almost everything about this book delightful from our enchanting protagonist Maggie learning to negotiate high school for the first time as an undercover spy to her new best friend to the cute boy to her parents to the rest of the spy cabal. For years, Maggie and her parents have traveled around the world using their spy tactics for good. But now Maggie is taking the lead on a case while also posing as just any other high schooler to humorous effect.

In general, I found this book to be hilarious as Maggie definitely has a quick wit and she struggles to fit in (adjusting to homework is not easy!) Her new friend is a former mean girl and the cute boy is also the son of the target. Needless to say there are many complications but Maggie deals with them mostly with grace and as much honesty as she can. I really loved her and her parents, who have to take a backseat while their beloved daughter is out there-not easy for them all. I loved that spying is a family business, something that brings them together and allows them to appreciate each other's strengths.

My one quibble, which led to a deletion of half a star, was the conclusion to the big mystery which felt a bit too pat and rushed. I like that everything was concluded in this book instead of being drawn out over a series but I did still feel like a few scenes were perhaps excessive and that a tighter focus on the mystery would have been more appropriate. I almost forgot the family's reason for being in New York; after reading about Maggie adjusting to school, it almost seemed like the sole purpose was to acclimate her to a "normal" life.

Overall: Recommended for fans of Ally Carter's Heist Society series, when you just can't get enough of fun light fast-paced stories about spies.

Other Opinions:
Great Imaginations-3/5 stars
Jen Ryland/YA Romantics

Monday, February 18, 2013

ARC Review: Mind Games

Mind Games by Kiersten White
4/5 stars
HarperTeen, 2013
237 pages
YA Paranormal Suspense
Scheduled to release February 19

Source: Received an ARC through Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.

I think I've mentioned once or twice that I love books about sisters and then I've been a fan of White throughout her Paranormalcy series in addition to meeting her three times at book signings and following her blog. I also love stories told through flashbacks. So this book was kind of made for me!

Going in to the book, I had already skimmed a bunch of reviews (see some links below) and was prepared for a very different story from the Paranormalcy trilogy. Or at least I thought I was prepared.

I fell pretty quickly for sister one Fia, the younger unpredictable wild assassin. She is almost uncontrollable, laced with guilt, and pretty funny if not as quick with a quip as Evie. The other sister Annie is blind and kept locked up; love of Annie is Fia's motivation. As long as their captors have a grip on Annie, they can pretty much control all of Fia's actions. The ending of this book hints at a way Fia can fight back so we'll see what comes.

Why are the girls in captivity? Well their parents are deceased and their guardian had little interest in raising them. Their captors discovered Annie's ability to see the future and offered her a place at their school but Fia ended up being the real find with her perfect instincts. She can make winning stock picks, choose the unloaded gun, and do almost anything.

Besides the sisters, we meet a few other important characters. One is Eden, who can feel what others feel which Fia manipulates to amusing effect. The other two are boys. James is among the crowd who are keeping Fia and Annie contained; he and Fia have an incredibly complicated relationship. Adam is a boy Fia is supposed to assassinate in the beginning chapters but she finds herself unable to do so. He causes a fluttering of emotions in Fia and the push/pull of the two boys against the different parts of Fia's personality are fascinating to read. Because the book is short, I didn't feel like we got to spend as much time with them as I would have liked.

For the next book, for me to really become a fan, I will need more explanation of what Fia is fighting against. "Keane" is not a sufficient answer-who is Keane? Beyond desire for power, what is Keane's ultimate goal and motivation? I would also like to get a bit more insight into Annie-she came off as pretty weak and passive despite her attempts to be more and I would like her to be stronger. But despite these complaints, I will definitely be back for book 2!

Other Opinions: My blogging friends have talked about this a lot so I'm linking to more than usual
A Life Bound by Books-3.5/5
A Reader of Fictions-2/5
Beauty and the Bookshelf-Eh
Book Labyrinth-4/5
Reading Under the Willow Tree-5/5
The Book Lantern-1/5
The Midnight Garden-4/5
The YA Kitten-2.5/5

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Book Haul + the Week to Come 17FEB13

Kind of a long post today but I've bolded each section header so you can skim to see what's most of interest to you...

So the Lenten season is upon us and some people use this as an opportunity to give up or abstain from something. One of the things I'm trying to do is to curb my blogger jealousy and book acquisitions. Thus I will not be requesting any books from Netgalley, Edelweiss, or publishers directly during this period. I will not put any books on hold at the library or pick any up while browsing. I will not buy any books. My hope for this period is to focus less on trying to keep up with the newest hottest releases and more on reading the many amazing looking books I have already acquired. Ideally I would also be less jealous of other bloggers and more appreciative of my own many blessings.

Book Haul:
Keep in mind, this all came BEFORE Lent started on the 13th

I was the happy recipient of some excellent books this week. First I received a package from Penguin featuring:
Five Summers by Una LaMarche
All I Need by Susane Colasanti
The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
While I'm excited about all of these, Dessen has a special place in my heart as an author that I also got my sister to love so that's something for us to share :)

E-galleys I received through Netgalley and Edelweiss; I just want to give them some publicity:
15 Days Without a Head by Dave Cousins
The Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig
Battleship by Dorothy Ours
Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young

Fault Line by Christa Desir
The Vow by Jessica Martinez
Legacy of the Clockwork Key by Kristin Bailey

Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn
Born of Illusion by Teri Brown
Reboot by Amy Tinera
The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Reviews will be posted closer to the release date (I always say no more than thirty days before). But you can see why I had a really good week :)

Reading/Blogging News:
I have been on a hot streak for reading although not every book has been a hit (friend me on goodreads for up to date status updates on what I'm reading). Unfortunately I haven't felt much like writing reviews. I feel like I am either:
a. Wanting to read but not to blog
b. Wanting to blog but not to read
c. Wanting to neither read nor blog

Very rarely do I want to read AND blog-why is that? That is the state of mind I would most prefer. I'm planning to put in some quality time today with my blog though. I also have tomorrow off (Presidents Day-yay) and will use that time to do some work too.

My fave president, an inspiration for my blog
The Week to Come: actually features all 2013 releases, most of which I really enjoyed so I'm excited to share about these books with you.

First up is Kiersten White's new book, Mind Games, a very big change from her Paranormalcy series.

Tuesday's review is Also Known As by Robin Benway, very much like Ally Carter's Heist Society but with its own unique voice.

Wednesday is The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman and then Thursday is The Different Girl by Gordon Dahlquist-I really love that both books have "girl" in the title but they are very distinct titles.

Friday is The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington whose Clarity I enjoyed.

And then Saturday is something completely different: an adult historical novel Iscariot by Tosca Lee about the most famous traitor in history.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Ballad of Jessie Pearl

The Ballad of Jessie Pearl by Shannon Hitchcock
4/5 stars
Namelos, 2013
128 pages
YA Historical

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I feel like I've read more than my fair share of books involving tuberculosis, a malady that is essentially eradicated in the developed world and thus something I am not personally familiar with. It's such a common disease throughout history and there really wasn't much that could be done about it. Maybe you'd get better if you were able to rest, able to breathe fresh healthy air but maybe you'd die anyway.

Well after that downer note, let's move on to this book, about young Jessie Pearl and actually inspired by the author's family history. Our heroine is fourteen years old with dreams of becoming a teacher in 1920s rural North Carolina but when her family is visited by TB, she sets that dream aside to take care of her family.

As you can see from my summary above, this book isn't a flashy paranormal or dystopia. It's a deceptively simple historical novel delving deep into Jessie's life and family relationships. Jessie was never very good at the household chores but with a deceased mother and as the only daughter still at home, she steps up to fulfill that job even though it is a sacrifice for her. It was interesting to read about this more community-minded instead of individualistic person as I feel like our modern culture tends to praise those who strike out on their own, pursuing what they want no matter the cost even if it includes living others behind.

The book is pretty quiet as the family is left mostly alone-tuberculosis is contagious after all and no one wants to spread it around the community. But we still get a little sliver of romance and hints of the modernizing outside world such as the presence of the Model T. Its strengths lie in the character sketches and the very real feelings it evokes as you are moved by their plight.

Friday, February 15, 2013

ARC Review: The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door

The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door by Karen Finneyfrock
4/5 stars
Viking Children's, 2013
259 pages
YA Contemporary
Scheduled to release February 21

Source: Received an ARC for review from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The first I heard of this book was when it showed up on my doorstop. Although I love contemporaries, I think seeing the big combat boots would probably have turned me off. As you know, I'm a girl who loves a pretty dress on the cover and thi sdidn't seem quite my thing.

Happily I was wrong yet again and I'm so glad I gave this book a try. The first thing I want to note is the setting: in Hershey, Pennsylvania. I grew up not too far from Hershey (I visited Hershey Park probably just about every summer) and loved getting to visit there again through this book although the setting is not the most important part.

No, the most important part is the relationships of Celia Door with everyone else in her life. Basically she has a messed-up relationship with her parents who are separated, seeming to be headed toward divorce as her father even moved away and she has zero relationships with people at school after the dark day where some mean girls went after her. But the situation starts to look brighter when cute New Yorker Drake moves in and befriends Celia. Can she get her revenge on the mean girl and maintain her friendship with the new boy?

Celia is an excellent narrator, dealing with the vagaries of teen life and its ups and downs. It was honestly a little exhausting being inside her head because of how much she felt and all the emotions raging within. I liked getting to know her better and felt her voice was very distinct. In eighth grade, she had been encouraged by a teacher to pursue writing and these words of encouragement are solace during the crappy times. As someone who can be a bit overprotective of fictional people, I was glad she had that hope. I also liked Drake the new boy especially because their relationship is not presented as soul mates who will be together forever; in fact, there is very little romance in the book, something I appreciate.

Probably the most important theme of this book is around bullies as there is no doubt in my mind that Celia was bullied even as she tries to cultivate a dark, non-caring persona. Her bullies manage to enlist almost every other student to pick on Celia and it broke my heart to see her deal with that day in and day out without receiving any help whatsoever. Good and bad responses to the bullying are also represented so I feel like some lessons could be learned without the prose veering into being didatic.

Overall: I'm very glad I decided to give this book a shot-with a vividly drawn MC and timely issues, this will is a fun contemporary read!

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Quicksilver by RJ Anderson
4/5 stars
Carolrhoda LAB, 2013
314 pages
YA Science-Fiction

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

*Light spoilers for Ultraviolet*

In the stunning first book Ultraviolet, we meet Alison, tortured by synesthesia and suffering under the assumption that she has murdered her classmate only to discover a shocking twist that upends her previous knowledge of life. Now we see the perspective of the missing girl Tori and just how extraordinary she is.

The book opens with Tori and her parents preparing to disappear as police and scientists try to probe more deeply into Tori's leaving and returning. They are sure there is more to the story but how can Tori explain that? So they retain new identities but their woes are not over as Tori remains tied to Alison and their shared misadventure looms large in both of their memories.

Going in to this book, I knew we'd be getting a different narrator and I am mixed on that. I liked Tori a lot, especially because she is so brilliant and cunning. She seems to have a natural knack for reading a situation and responding in the best way in addition to her mathematics and engineering talents. But it was also sad to mostly say good bye to Alison because I liked her a lot too. This is the case where both narrations are strong and effective. Although there is also the introduction of a new cute guy, romance is really in the background of these books and I appreciate that the focus is more on strong characterizations of female characters with all their attendant strengths and weaknesses.

This story also fills in gaps from the first book. Remember how things changed at near the end of Utrlaviolet? Tori gives us a fresh glimpse into those events since she and Alison didn't entirely overlap and our knowledge was lacking. These past events were confusingly interwoven into the main narrative. I would like to pull them out and just read them again with the other scenes of Ultraviolet for best understanding-guess I will need to get print copies of both!

Overall: If you enjoyed the excellent writing and twists and turns of Ultraviolet, then you'll definitely want to check out this companion to complete the story. I wasn't sure a sequel was necessary but now having read it, I feel like it really made everything more whole.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Blaze #GeekGrlzRevenge

Blaze (Or Love in the Time of Supervillians) by Laurie Boyle Crompton
3.5/5 stars
Sourcebooks Fire, 2013
312 pages
YA Contemporary

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I first started this book, I was a little unsure if it was a straight contemporary or if it had elements of fantasy with the main character perhaps assuming a secret role as superhero. I can confirm that Blaze, our protagonist, loves comic books but she does not in fact transform into any kind of superhero keeping this book grounded entirely in our world.

This is somewhat unfortunate though as our world features a great deal of slut-shaming and bullying as is horrifyingly depicted in this novel after Blaze's crush turns out to be a major player and jerk. I'm not going to share all the events that lead to this discovery but know that it inspires Blaze to draw a comic using his likeness for the villain, which leads to further retaliation on his part. Yes, Blaze makes a lot of stupid decisions but she doesn't deserve any of that behavior. I really liked when Blaze made a connection with another girl who has long been branded as a "slut" but would have liked even more treatment.

I also enjoyed Blaze's love of comic books and her artistic side. She draws her own strips (see below for an example of her drawing) and is very passionate and well-versed on the subject. This comes in handy when she meets a new friend at the comic book store, something that is sorely necessary since her two main friends are awful. I've read a string of books with great female friendships lately so they really stuck in my mind.

But my favorite part of the book would have to be Blaze's younger brother Josh and his friends. Blaze is in charge of driving the group around for soccer practice and occasionally for other events too. Although she complains about this, she secretly mostly doesn't mind and the boys come through for her in a big way at the end.

Family is very important to the story. In addition to Josh, there are Blaze's estranged parents: her mom working long hours while her father left them to pursue an acting career. Neither is a great parent although at least her mom stayed and is trying. Blaze has to take off her rose-colored glasses toward her father, seeing him for what he is now instead of as the cool guy who introduced her to classic comics.

Overall: I liked this book but felt there could have been a bit more meat in some areas as well as a smarter heroine.

Other Opinions:
Books Are Vital
Parajunkee's View
To Read, Or Not to Read

Below is a sketch of Blaze's artwork, provided by Sourcebooks:
© 2012 Anne Cain

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

ARC Review: The Sin-Eater's Confession

The Sin-Eater's Confession by Ilsa J. Bick
4/5 stars
Carolrhoda LAB, 2013
287 pages
YA Contemporary LGBTQ
Scheduled to release March 1

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I've read a previous book by Ilsa J. Bick and enjoyed its mix of historical and paranormal elements so I knew her name, which is why I picked up this book. Additionally I was wondering about the title as I've never heard the phrase "sin-eater" before. What does it mean? This reason is explicitly described in the book but you can also read about it on wikipedia.

This book is very different, being roughly contemporary with the main character opening his narration in Afghanistan and leading us through the events that led to his enlisting.  Growing up in small-town Merit, Wisconsin has been mostly good for Ben who seems on track for Ivy League acceptance. However events go awry when Ben is the subject of a sexually charged photo by a younger boy, eliciting a tremendous amount of gossip. Soon after, that young boy is found brutally beaten to death (reminding me of Lauren Myracle's excellent Shine) and Ben struggles with the aftermath. I don't want to go to much in detail in case I spoil anything for you.

The two big elements here, I feel, are the character of Ben and the small-town atmosphere. I have mixed feelings about Ben. He has a lot of anger and he makes some very bad decisions that were hard for me to support. He also really likes talking, not always with a purpose and I got bored some times. As for the setting...honestly it was hard for me to picture the whispers and bigotry on display (compounded by the conservative religion of the photographer's family). I've been lucky to live in pretty open places for my adult life and I can't imagine the claustrophobia and limited decisions imposed on the young people here.

Overall: Not entirely my cup of tea but full of ambiguity and lots to think about.

Other Opinions:
Annette's Book Spot
In Bed With Books

Monday, February 11, 2013

ARC Review: A Dash of Magic

A Dash of Magic by Kathryn Littlewood
4/5 stars
Katherine Tegen Books, 2013
356 pages
Middle Grade Fantastical
Book #2 in the Bliss series (trilogy?)
Scheduled to release February 12

Source: Received an ARC from Jen Ryland/YA Romantics (thanks so much!)

Spoilers for book one as I'll recap it

My review of book one Bliss found me liking it but not loving it the way I wanted to; some of the elements were too cringe worthy and predictable to me. But I still liked the world and the concept so I was pleased to return. In the end, I liked this book a lot more and I am so glad to have had the chance to read it.

To recap, the end of Bliss featured Aunt Lily getting her hands on the family's magical cookbook and making dastardly plans with it. These plans have borne fruit in the opening of A Dash of Magic with Lily's talk show and general media empire continuing to bolster her power. Meanwhile Rose and her family live in a town lacking its usual magic with the absence of the book. Rose decides to confront Lily and challenges her to a bake-off at a famous French contest (yes, we're going to Paris!) Along the way, the family reunites with a grandfather, a talking cat, and a version of the book in need of translation as they rally together to beat Lily.

I really loved the structure of the book, how the story hinged on the daily baking contests. Although I don't watch many competition baking/cooking shows (they make me too anxious), I love the idea of them and getting to read about them was so fun. Additionally, contestants are allowed to bring in one special ingredient each day, which results in several hilarious mishaps around Paris as the kids visit some of the famous landmarks.

Another element I really like about these books is the importance of family. In this case, a long lost grandpa is reunited with his family. But this book also demonstrates how children can still have misadventures and mishaps even with good, concerned parents. While the parents are off searching for some ingredients, the kids look for others. At the end of the day though they are still a close-knit family who love each other deeply, which in turn is something I love to read about in books.

The book also has a great message about believing in yourself and your talents. Although Lily cheats, manipulates, and connives, Rose still stands strong against her for she has a true love of and passion for baking. It is pure and even though she doubts herself at times, the book ultimately affirms her commitment and honesty, leaving me feeling very good :)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Week to Come 10FEB13

So I was very lucky this week, winning saz101's Summer Giveaway (she lives in Australia) and selecting Gail Carriger's Etiquette and Espionage-that review will be coming in March!

I also went to the library and picked up 9 (eep-I'm so bad!) titles; most are 2012 releases that I missed:
Embers and Echoes by Karsten Knight
Rebel Heart by Moira Young
Shift by Em Bailey
Small Damages by Beth Kephart
Starling by Lesley Livingston
Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally
The Rivals by Daisy Whitney
Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst
The Secret Lives of Codebreakers by Sinclair McKay

However reviews for this week are all 2013 releases that I received for review:

Monday is A Dash of Magic, the delightful sequel to Bliss by Kathryn Littlewood

Tuesday is Ilsa J. Bick's first book The Sin-Eater's Confession

Wednesday is Blaze by Laurie Boyle Crompton

Thursday is a companion novel to Ultraviolet, RJ Anderson's Quicksilver

Friday is The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door, debut novel from Karen Finneyfrock

Saturday is The Ballad of Jessie Pearl by Shannon Hitchcock

Saturday, February 9, 2013

DNF: Getting Over Mr. Right

Getting Over Mr. Right by Chrissie Manby
Bantam Books, 2012
I read 97 out of 288 pages
Fiction "Chick-Lit"

Source: Received an ARC through Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.

This is going to be a quick review since I only read about 1/3 of the book (plus the last few pages to see if it got better-it didn't.) I was excited to read a book which seemed to promise a woman getting dumped and then getting mad, presumably taking revenge on the jerky ex-boyfriend. And at first events seemed to be happening apace with the dumping happening and the struggling to understand. The writing was snappy enough and was reminding me somewhat of Sophie Kinsella (both being British after all).

But Ashleigh could not let go. She went to his place of business trying to win him back, she yelled at him, she stalked him and his new girlfriend, she seemed determined to keep them together despite his obvious disinterest,  the good advice of other people in her life and the fact that she was taking time off, thereby threatening her ability to earn a living. I eventually gave up when she spent hundreds of pounds on a psychic hotline trying to find out if she'd get back together with her ex. Her desperation was appalling and what at first seemed to be funny grew depressing-her cartoonish antics revolted me.

BUT all my hope was not lost! I read the last few pages to see if it ended with her having finally banished her loser ex from her life. If it had, I would have persevered to the end. Alas it was not to be. She spends the entire book after this guy and doesn't seem to have learned anything. This might be a good read if you're angry after going through a break-up but it was not an enjoyable read for me at all.

Friday, February 8, 2013

ARC Review: Out of the Easy

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
5/5 stars
Philomel Books, 2013
346 pages
YA Historical
Scheduled for February 13

Source: Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

So I knew this was set in New Orleans but I didn't realize it was historical, set in 1950. Other surprises included the setting of a brothel and menacing mobsters. Our heroine is Josie Moraine, daughter of a prostitute, who has pulled away from her mother, earning an honest living at a bookstore and dreaming about a college education away from the town where everyone knows she's a prostitute's daughter. But she also cleans the rooms of the brothel and is deeply reluctantly attached to the madam, the canny Willie and the other women in the house.

When a visiting prominent Tennessean businessman is killed in the French Quarter, Josie mourns, having met the sweet guy at the bookstore. What she doesn't expect is the role that her mother may have played in his murder nor the crooked people who are involved nor the actions it may force her to take.

I don't know how to properly explain my feelings about this book. I'll admit that I didn't enter it with the highest expectations. Yes, Sepetys had already scored with her excellently personal Between Shades of Grey but who thought she'd do it again with such a different story? Plus the South and the 1950s have never been among my favorite reading topics. But this book was absolutely amazing. I kept saying to myself, "I'll just read one more chapter..." until I reached the end and there was no more.

I think most of the credit goes to the delightfully sensitive Josie. Although she's been let down by her good-for-nothing selfish mother and essentially nonexistent father, she has acquired a family of her own including the aforementioned Willie, other workers at the brothel, her bookstore coworker Patrick, and local mechanic and hottie Jesse. I also admired Josie's ambition and drive--she's worked hard for everything she has in life, sometimes against impossible odds without losing her principles and sense of self.

Now I did receive an ARC, which may explain why the chronology of a few scenes felt off. Some pieces of information were explained after when they were actually need earlier. I will need to consult a finished copy to see if this was remedied.

Content warning: Well, it is partially set in a brothel but it's pretty clean actually.

Overall: You NEED to read this book-seriously!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

ARC Review: Prince Puggly of Spud and the Kingdom of Spiff

Prince Puggly of Spud and the Kingdom of Spiff by Robert Paul Weston
5/5 stars
Razorbill, 2013
206 pages
Middle Grade Fantasy

Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

To be honest, I probably would have never picked this book up if it hadn't been sent to me for review. Not because it looks uninteresting but because I don't read much middle-grade unless it's by authors who are established in YA already. But I am so very glad that I had the chance to read this because I absolutely adored it!

When I first started reading, I thought it seemed a little odd. That is because it is told in rhyme! Yes, the entire story is told in rhyming verses and although it felt a little forced sometimes (quince used because it rhymed with prince), it added a sprightliness to the storytelling. I think this would definitely be a fun nighttime story for families to read together, especially if someone has a good narrating voice. Also adding to the fun was the font as words like "sparkled" and "glitz" were swankified. There was an illustration or decoration of some kind on every page, making this a book to pore over and ensuring young readers have their eyes caught.

As for the story itself, there is the kingdom of Spiff where everyone loves fashion except for the princess who likes to wear pajamas and read (a girl after my own heart :) She is an embarrassment to her father. Meanwhile in the kingdom of Spud, they wear the most outrageous outfits and have recently designated Puggly as their prince. As Spiff's royal ball nears, the princess infuriates her father with her disinterest in clothes and Puggly ends up humiliated by a sneering couterier. The two leave in tears but team up to teach everyone a lesson.

Overall: A splendid time was had while reading this book-I chuckled and smiled throughout and ended by hugging the book close to me, a sure sign of a happy time spent reading!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

ARC Review: The Madness Underneath

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson
4/5 stars
G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2013
290 pages
YA Thriller Supernatural
Book 2 in the Shades of London
Scheduled to release February 26

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

*Spoilers for book one*

After adoring first book The Name of the Star, I was chomping at the bit for this sequel and am so pleased to be providing an early review. I was mostly satisfied with the novel but had some big problems with the ending which will be discussed at the very bottom under the spoiler heading.

If you liked the snarky opinionated personality of Rory in book one, I am happy to report that she is back. Despite almost dying in the first book, Rory is too tough to be kept down although she is struggling with the discovery that ghosts exist and she can see them as well as recovering from her attack. She is recuperating in the countryside with her parents but craving the chance to know more about her powers. Somehow she returns to school but mostly ignores schoolwork in favor of spending more time with Stephen, Callum, and Boo.

However despite the strong narrative voice, this book kind of suffers from second book syndrome although I thought of it more in terms of films. You know how Pirates of the Caribbean was an excellent (and profitable) movie so they decided to make sequels? Then the second film set up a lot of stuff but it didn't pay off until the third? Yeah, that's kind of what happened here. Some things do happen but I feel like the third book is where things are really going to happen especially in regards to the spoiler below.

Thinking back over the book, I am remembering a few plot elements but mostly I get the feeling of waiting for something big. I appreciated that The Name of the Star was almost a standalone and loved the mystery revolving around Jack the Ripper. This book's plot is much less strong in my opinion although as I said, I do believe it will pay off in the third book, which of course I am eagerly anticipating! (Despite it not being currently listed on goodreads!)

Other Opinons:
The Compulsive Reader
Lisa Loves Literature
Pure Imagination


What the heck? Where is Stephen? Rory better find him is all I can say.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Hysteria by Megan Miranda
4/5 stars
Walker and Company, 2013
323 pages
YA Contemporary Thriller

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was very nervous to start reading this because one of the first reviews I saw was a DNF (linked below). What if I had the same problems? This is why I have a love-hate relationship with reading reviews early. I know I shouldn't because they get me nervous or they raise the level of hype but I'm really bad at stopping myself.

Anyway I picked up the story apprehensively but I ended up pretty much liking it. The basic story is that Mallory killed her boyfriend-no ifs, ands, or buts about it. She killed him good and now is suffering from all the guilt that comes from it, including his angry mother, her awkward parents, and legal woes. To protect her, her parents ship her off to her father's alma mater, a private boarding school. There she continues to feel her dead boyfriend's presence while also struggling to assimilate into the climate.

What I ended up liking most was the friendship between Mallory and her best friend Colleen who admittedly doesn't play that big of a role (Mallory's possible hallucinations get more page time as does the new boy, I'm pretty sure). But it is crucial for one of the themes and is a great example of a YA friendship. Although not perfect, the two are there for each other and I saw some of my own friendships reflected.

I also found this book very thrilling. Miranda doles out little pieces of information at a time and though I thought I was putting it together well, I was still on the edge of my seat to get the full story. Would this veer into a paranormal with an actual ghost haunting Mallory? Does Mallory actually belong in the psych ward? Who will survive? Then the ending effectively wrapped everything up-no cliffhanger here!

On the less positive scale, there is a new romance for Mallory at school, with a perfectly nice boy who did seem a bit unnecessary. I liked him (didn't swoon for him) but it seemed extraneous. I also was kind of mad at Mallory who only started dating her boyfriend because she had a crush on his brother who had a girlfriend. That never ends well as we see all too clearly here.

Overall: Interesting premise that should keep you on the edge of your seat.

Cover: I am possibly coveting that dress. I do own one red dress but I wouldn't mind another especially one that's tighter in the bodice and looser in the skirt. I love looking at pretty dresses.

Other Opinions:
The Book Scoop 
Books Live Forever
From the TBR Pile
In Which Ems Reviews Books-a DNF
Pure Imagination
Reading Under the Willow Tree

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Assassin's Curse

The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke
4/5 stars
Strange Chemistry, 2012
295 pages
YA Fantasy

Source: Library


I wanted to read this book after loving the cover so much; I was also very swayed by the fact that Small Review put this on her special shelf (see below for link to review). For me, this book was good but not great. I'm not entirely sure what I found lacking but I just was not as blown away as I had hoped.

Upon opening the book, I read "I ain't never been one to trust beautiful people..." (pg 7) indicating to me that the book might be written in some sort of dialect. This is true and continues throughout the book. However it is still very easy to understand. I found it surprising as I've tended to find that fantasies have a more familiar language while this was very casual along with being representative of the narrator's level of education.

That narrator is Ananna of the Tanarau (a clan of pirates) and the beautiful person she's referring to her is her intended Tarrin of Hariri, son of another pirate captain. This arranged marriage would combine wealth and status-the perfect beginning to a marriage...for the parents. The children are less thrilled with Tarrin wanting to get his colors so he can sail and Ananna wanting the same. Tarrin's highhandedness turns her off and sends her feeling. But the Hariri will not be so disrespected so they send an assassin after her. After saving the assassin's life, some complicated magic is unspooled, cursing the two to remain together unless they can break the curse.

I was already very invested in Ananna, as the spirited wannabe pirate and I especially admired her competence. So good to read about a young woman who can mostly take care of herself and is able to admit when she does need assistance, as we all do at times. Less exciting was the assassin Naji who knows a lot of cool stuff but withholds much of that information from Ananna and by extension the reader. That's frustrating. For the most part, I was able to seat back and enjoy the ride but I think that was part of the reason why I didn't love it. So much was held back that could have been told earlier because Naji did know. Their relationship has a certain element of romantic tension, which will be appealing to others but which I did not totally love, again because of how he hides information.

The other problem was just a feeling that the book is maybe a little overstuffed. Pirates, assassins, magic from the north, floating islands, impossible tasks: some stuff that is teased on the back cover doesn't happen until almost the end and I was anxious waiting for it. I'm still interested in reading the next book but it's going to be on the back burner.

There was a part of the book that I really loved though, which is contained below in the spoiler section to end the review. I don't think it's a huge spoiler (no one is anyone's father for example) but it takes place about 10 pages from the end so I figured most people who haven't read this book might not want to know about it yet.


Okay, so the way to break the curse is to complete three impossible tasks. The first two are unimportant to me at the moment but the third "is to experience true love's kiss" (pg 285). At this point, it is so obvious how in love Ananna is and she is even able to admit it to herself if not to Naji. Because she knows it's true love, she knows that the third task is not impossible and thus the other two must not be impossible either. But he rejects it as being as impossible as the other tasks.This just broke my heart. Even though I was not a big fan of Naji, I recognize that we all have different tastes, and I wanted Ananna to have her heart's desire. Although it left me sad, this ended up being my favorite part of the book. If you're reading this, I assume you've read the book. What did you think about this part?


Other Opinions-for the most part, my friends LOVED this book but I did manage to dig up some less positive reviews just to give you the opposing view.

A Whole World in Pages-3/5 stars
The Authoress-5/5 stars
Book Sake-4/5 stars
Candace's Book Blog-5/5 stars
The Dreaming Reader-2.5/5 stars
My Precious-5/5 stars
Reading Under the Willow Tree-5/5 stars
Small Review-5/5 stars, special shelf

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