Thursday, October 31, 2013

ARC Review: The Creature Department

The Creature Department by Robert Paul Weston
3/5 stars
Razorbill, 2013
331 pages
MG Fantastical
Scheduled to release November 5

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

Happy Halloween everyone! This is going to be a short review because I don't have much to say.

I received a copy of this unsolicited from the publisher and was thrilled to discover that it glows in the dark after being exposed to much light. After checking out its release date, I decided to save it for review on Halloween and to hope for some spooky going-ons.

I don't know that I'd classify this necessarily as "spooky" but it fits some out of the ordinary adventures. For example, the Research & Development team at DENKi-3000, the world's fifth-largest electronics factory, is staffed by creatures, hidden from the world but intent on creating magnificent inventions that seem to defy human science and logic. But lately they haven't had a hit and are in danger of the company being taken over. So the human head of R&D, Archie, invites his nephew Elliot and friend Leslie to the company to assist. While there, they uncover a darker plot and help save the day!

This book was cute enough but it didn't have anything special that really popped out at me. Everything felt so familiar except for the descriptions of the creatures, who are brought to life via the book's website. They are very colorful, of all kinds of different shapes and sizes with helpful personalities. Another delight was the descriptions of Chinese food, which left me craving some!

Overall: A fun read-may be better suited for its targeted middle-grade audience as this adult didn't find much crossover appeal.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

ARC Review: The Naturals

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
4/5 stars
Hyperion, 2013
308 pages
YA Thriller Contemporary
Scheduled to release November 5

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

I saw quite a few mixed reviews before I picked this up, which made me nervous as this is only my second experience with Barnes' writing. Well, no worries! This was well within the kind of snappy writing I expect from Disney-Hyperion and I read it all pretty quickly until the ending where my pleasure with the novel went rapidly downhill. But let's start at the beginning.

Cassie has always been able to read people, by nature and also nurtured by her psychic mother. During her teenage years, the FBI comes a knocking seeking to add Cassie to their team of Naturals, young people with some kind of extraordinary talent (such as profiling as Cassie can do) to tackle cold cases. Cassie agrees with the thought in the back of her head of being able to solve her mother's murder, long since cold. At the group home, she meets four other special teenagers and they must battle their feelings and hormones to catch a serial killer before he strikes at Cassie.

Like I said, I really liked the writing style. There are lots of quips and sarcasm throughout and the book moves quickly. We get some insight in to how Cassie can spot and assess as much as she does but it's also somewhat cryptic because it just comes so naturally to her. She and the other teenagers in the program astound the adults, who are also very good at these skills but only because of years of intensive training and experience.

Apparently some readers don't like the trope about a group of extraordinary people gathered together. Personally I do though and this group mostly worked for me because I like reading about really smart, knowledgeable people getting to exercise their talents. No surprise to those who've read this that my fave was Sloane, who can rattle off statistics like no one else. Cassie is a close second with master liar/lie spotter Lia rounding out the top three. But who else is in the house? Why, it's two boys: Michael, who helped recruit Cassie and can parse emotions; and Dean who is a profiler like Cassie with his own dark past. Initially it seemed like Cassie might really like one but it soon becomes a love triangle as is acknowledged by the end with Cassie being urged by the one guy to think about her feelings for the both of them. Ugh, did I find this unnecessary! I think the book could have focused more on the complex feelings and tensions within the group home without needing to add this bundle of hormones.

The other thing is the resolution. We have a serial killer who seems to be going after women like Cassie and eventually to want to take out Cassie. On the one hand, there is a great twist with this that I won't share for fear of spoilers. But on the other hand, it was not as satisfying as I expected. I think this might be partly because it will end up being part of a series and there are still some loose ends to tie up. If you've read this and would like to discuss, let's!

Overall: A surprisingly fun (because who expects to have fun when tracking a serial killer?) compelling thriller with snappy dialogue and strong pacing. I sincerely hope the love triangle will be quickly resolved in the next book or it may dominate my feelings about the series as a whole in a negative way.

Other Opinions:
Alice in Readerland 
Jen Ryland/YA Romantics
The Social Potato
Xpresso Reads
Young Adult Book Heaven

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fault Line

Fault Line by C. Desir
3/5 stars
Simon Pulse, 2013
226 pages
YA Contemporary

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

I think I picked this one up after noting that it was a contemporary but without really reading the summary as this is definitely on the darker, heavier side of contemporary. In comparison, my tastes tend to lean toward the lighter comedic side though I venture over from time to time. It raises questions around rape, responsibility, and healing, showing that there are no easy answers in such a situation.

The book opens with a provocative scene, only to flash back to the first days of Ben and Ani's relationship and trace up to a party where Ben stays home and something happens with Ani that sends their relationship off the rails. Ani is no longer the girl Ben knew and loved though he struggles to hold on and to help heal her.

I thought it was an interesting choice to narrate from the perspective of the boy whose girlfriend was raped. Mostly I see novels from the girl herself (see Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson or that Sarah Dessen book whose name is escaping me.) I wish we could have seen more of their relationship in good times but, as you can see, the book is pretty short so everything moves at a good clip. I really struggled with Ben's insistence on trying to "fix" Ani because, from my perspective, it is not. He kept claiming it as his responsibility, letting his scholarship, friendships, and family fall by the wayside. Because it's really not-he does not possess the ability to heal her, only she can do that at her own speed, following her own healing process that may lead to a lot of hurt before anything redemptive can come out of this.

As I mentioned some of the big questions revolve around culpability:
  • Is Ani responsible for consuming alcohol while underage in an unfamiliar environment? For not stopping what happened?
  • Is Kate responsible for also consuming alcohol while underage and not sticking with Ani, to step in when things took a turn for the different?
  • Are the boys (we're pretty sure it's multiple) who had also consumed an unknown quantity of alcohol responsible for not taking advantage of Ani? Did they in fact take advantage or was it all entirely of her own free will?
  • Is Ben responsible because he decided to skip the party and wasn't there to protect her?
The book really blurs the issue-for some reviewers, it seem as if if she'd been roofied or more obviously impaired, then it would obviously be rape. But it's so difficult to try to determine what actually happened that fateful night at the party, mirroring our actual world. We just don't know.

Overall: An intense read that will definitely not be for everyone but I appreciated its unique perspective and the realistic depiction of a volunteer advocate to provide information in the aftermath.

Other Opinions: I strongly encourage you to check out some other reviews as people have written from a lot of different perspectives; here are a few but more are on goodreads and other blogs.
A Good Addiction
Good Books and Good Wine
In Bed With Books

Monday, October 28, 2013

The 14 Fibs of Gregory K.

The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. by Greg Pincus
4/5 stars
Arthur A. Levine Books, 2013
226 pages
MG Contemporary

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

You may not know this about me but just because I haven't really had the chance to share this knowledge; it's not a big secret or anything. I LOVE MATH. There, I've said it, whew! I was super fortunate to have some excellent math teachers and for the subject to come easily (except for calculus). Even now I think "I love math or numbers" a few times a week. Like for real, that is a thought I regularly think. But I know that not everyone has had such good experinces (for example, my sister) and especially that people often see a huge disconnect between math and more creative pursuits like writing such as in this book.

The titular Gregory K. starts as one of those people. His family is completely math obsessed from his parents to his jerky older brother to his precocious younger sister. All just seem to "get" math in a way that eludes Gregory who is dangerously close to failing his math class and just wants to write poetry. His super cool math teacher gives him the following assignment: keep a journal. This eventually allows Gregory to plan a project for a math competition, incorporate math in to poetry, and to process his feelings over the fact that his best friend is moving away (and the fact that he lied to her, promising that he would definitely attend Author Camp with her). Let's look at a bulleted list of some of my favorite parts.
  • I loved Mr. Davis and his insight into Gregory's personality. He knows that Gregory loves writing and that, no matter what he says, he does not love math. So he assigns him writing but encourages him to write about math and how it fits in to his life. How great is that? Give the kid a chance to play to his strengths while also encouraging him in an area of life where he must demonstrate some expertise despite lacking some natural aptitude.
  • As we read along in Gregory's journal, we are reminded of how much of a role math can play in our everyday lives. Maybe we're not engineers but mathematical patterns can be seen in so much of nature and it's cool to have those realizations. Of especial note is the Fibonacci Sequence, which plays a huge role in the story, and some jokes about pi/pie since Gregory's best friend's mom owns a pie shop.
  • I did not like Gregory's older brother O who seems to thrive on pestering Gregory but I did like his adorable little sister who is the first in his family to discover his writing talent and to encourage him. In fact the whole family is pretty supportive once Gregory shares how he actually feels about math and where his passions truly lie. This is a great example of a healthy family unit in literature and I hope others will resonate with its depiction; I loved the frequent mention of family meals as I grew up in a house where we ate dinner together.
  • Lastly, for once I can say that I loved the poetry in this book. I've read plenty of YA/MG books involving poetry and I usually skim past it to get to the prose. Here though I understand the poems and appreciate their patterns.
Overall: This is an adorable MG novel that uses math and poetry in an educational but also fun way. It also features history lessons about the person of Leonardo Fibonacci and many mentions of delicious, delicious pie :) So check it out!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Ramblings and the Week to Come 27OCT13

I didn't have much time to spend reading/blogging this week (I even scrapped a review because I was not at all interested in picking up the book.) But I feel a bit revitalized. I've already read 2.5 of this week's review books, I'm seeing my sister who is currently attending college north of me, I'm going to be out of the office (and reading) on Wednesday, and I have my cute costume for Halloween (it's nothing fancy but I look adorable). Plus November is going to be much less busy so I hope to maybe even get ahead in my reading. We shall see!

On Thursday, my softball team notched our second win this season, mainly because the other team had to forfeit (same team who forfeited last time.) Oh well. We went on to scrimmage with them and I feel I got some good practice. We only have two more games before the season mercifully ends but I hope we have some good times then. Again I'm thankful my coach is fairly easy-going and not putting pressure on us to win.

In professional news, my Man U boys made me very nervous yesterday but pulled off a win with my beloved Chicharito getting the winning goal in the final minutes-whew! Today also looks positive with my Eagles taking on the Giants who have only managed to win one game so far this season; hopefully that stat will still be true at the end of the day.

My Obsession:
I've done this for three weeks now and apparently it tends to be something musical as this week's obsession is also a song. I consider myself a huge Taylor Swift fan but last week I was surprised to discover via Facebook that she had released a new song for a film, titled "Sweeter Than Fiction." I bought it within the first hour of its release and have had it on repeat all week (even over Katy Perry's album because Tay > Katy obvs). I've read reviews calling it bubblegum pop and have to agree-this song is super sweet. And it's NOT about a boyfriend, adding further ammunition to my study that not all of her songs are about her romantic relationships.

Books Received, Amazon:

If you don't know this program, Amazon Vine sends out a newsletter on the third and fourth Thursdays of the month, allowing members to pick up to two products from each, providing they have completed reviews for previous selections. This month though they allowed three and then four, I took full advantage of this, selecting seven books. I've already reviewed The Burning Sky and the other six will come throughout November.

I picked up The Burning Sky and Find Me after seeing positive book blogger reviews; I hope mine will add to that chorus.

Dare is me getting an early start on reading business/management/leadership books, a goal for 2014. I like the feminine perspective on this and anticipate that others I pick up with be similar.

Loud Awake and Lost, Palace of Spies, and The Brokenhearted are YA books I've been highly anticipating. I'm a big Adele Griffin fan, I think the cover for PoS is super cute even if I'm not the biggest fan of the Georgian era, and I can't resist the idea of a female superhero are my respective reasons for these picks.

Lastly is Churchill's Angels, a WWII book, looks right up my alley (and made me think it might be up Christina T at Reading Extensively's too). I've read some mixed early reviews but I look forward to giving it a try for myself.

Books Received, Netgalley:

I really can't resist anything Jane Austen related so I snatched up the first three books in Cecilia Gray's Jane Austen Academy series. These retell Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Northanger Abbey respectively (I'm super excited for the fifth book, which takes on Emma). Reviews of these will be posted in November as well.

Week to Come: The start of the week features young people's literature and then we'll switch to adult fare for Friday and Saturday.

The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. by Greg Pincus
Fault Line by C. Desir
The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The Creature Department by Robert Paul Weston-hoping for some creepy feelings to celebrate Halloween!
Friday is the first of the month, which means? Yes, the next installment of War and Peace is due-we're rapidly coming to an end but there's still a lot of story to be told.
Then Saturday is a review of comedian Rob Delaney's memoir, a very adult read that is definitely not for everyone but made me laugh a lot.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


by Walter Dean Myers
3/5 stars
Scholastic Press, 2013
216 pages
YA Historical

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

I've seen a lot of works by this author but have never tried any of his works for myself. I was a bit nervous to read that Invasion is a prequel to two previous works by Myers but after conducting a bit of research, I realized they aren't really related. One character in this book is the ancestor of characters in the other two but they are set in much later time periods while this one looks closely at D-Day and the invasion of Normandy.

I've read some outstanding examples of WWII fiction (um, Elizabeth Wein anyone?) but lately it has been looking more at a female perspective rather than the male soldier perspective so I was excited for a different take. From the summary, I thought it might explore segregation during this period in addition to looking at war's tragedies. That's not really true. Though main character Josiah Wedgewood does briefly mention segregation (not officially ended until an Executive Order in 1948) and how that might make his friend feel, never mind how he feels about it, it does not play an important role. Instead there are long descriptions of the fighting and killing and towards the end, the story becomes more poignant with Josiah pondering how he'll continue.

After getting over my disappointment that this book isn't really about Josiah and Marcus Perry's interracial friendship (and really doesn't the cover kind of suggest that?), I really struggled with this book. It reminded me of "Saving Private Ryan" with its incredible visuals that are much harder to read. I found the reading very dull. However it did improve for me toward the end particularly with Josiah's comrade Mink quoting poetry, juxtaposing those beautiful lines against the barbarous circumstances and his musings on war. In the author's note, Myers shares his own experiences with his son serving and also discusses the books this one precedes chronologically. While I liked these moments, they weren't enough to make up for my lack of connection to the story and especially to Josiah. I think it is very well-written and will certainly be a powerful read for some, just not me.

Overall: May be a good read for those who are already fans of this author and who really love World War II fiction; I just didn't connect with the characters or storytelling.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Burning Sky

by Sherry Thomas
4/5 stars
Balzer + Bray, 2013
449 pages
YA Fantasy

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

When I first saw this book (with its old cover, I think), I wasn't much interested. Nothing personal, I just didn't think I wanted or needed any more YA fantasy at the time, preferring to explore more contemporary offerings. Then I started seeing reviews for this and actually read the synopsis, only to realize that I actually really did want to give this a read--and I'm so glad I've had a chance to do so!
Publisher's Summary: Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.

Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he's also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to avenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal.

But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.
The part that most intrigued me was the promise of Iolanthe as an elemental mage, based on my love of Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Mage series. There's just something so interesting to me about directing power through the four elements. Don't think this is a copy though-the rules here are very different. I think I have a grasp on everything but I bet there are still a lot of new magical surprises to come in the rest of the series.

Add in the meticulous plannings of Prince Titus and Iolanthe's disguise as a boy at Eton (some of my favorite moments took place during those times) and I was quickly sold in mind. My heart took a bit longer as I really struggled with the writing. It took me two days to read about 150 pages, which is rather long for me. Seeing that the imprint is one from HarperCollins, I assumed I would be able to get into the story really fast and fly through it; previous experiences with Balzer + Bray books (such as Everneath and Unraveling) have been exactly like that. Maybe it was the third person narration that sometimes zoomed in on Iolanthe in her boy disguise as Archer Fairfax, sometimes on Titus, and sometimes zoomed out for a macro perspective. Perhaps there were my struggles to become acclimated to this fantasy world; one of the reasons I love contemporary is that you don't need much world-building because so much is already familiar to me. Maybe I was a bit distracted. Whatever the reason, though I was enjoying this book and desperately wanted to finish it, I did not make good progress on it until finally something clicked and I was frantically turning the pages to finish the book.

As I mentioned above, Titus is a planner. He has contingencies for his contingency plans but oddly he never planned for the mage he would protect to be female. This throws him for a loop but he adapts, leading to a burgeoning romance. Though both try to fight it, there are so many little hints and tingles for the reader as we are privy to knowledge that the other is not. And when they do give in to their feelings, it's small and subtle compared to romance novels but it brought the swoon for me. This may also be because I'm a planner and I appreciate that in other people.

Another huge plus is her disguise as a boy at Eton. Given her dire need, it's no surprise that she would attempt with her utmost but due to some innate talent and acting experience (along with a pinch of magic), she is a very successful boy. I loved all the worlds we visited but have a soft spot for Victorian England so that was a special standout for me.

Overall: I would very much recommend this fantasy even to people who think they are tired of fantasy. What was a slow-starter turned out to be a very rewarding reading experience and I can't wait for book 2!

Other Opinions:
Candace's Book Blog
Good Books and Good Wine
Reading Extensively

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Truly, Madly, Deadly

Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne
3.5/5 stars
Sourcebooks Fire, 2013
262 pages
YA Contemporary Thriller

Source: Bought

This was another book I bought without really looking at reviews, only to see them be middling. Still I loved the idea behind it so much that I was glad to have some space in my busy review schedule to actually read a book I own.

The part of the summary that I loved was Sawyer thinking her boyfriend died in an accident only to discover that someone carefully plotted his death and assumes she would be grateful for those actions. That assumption comes from knowledge that the boyfriend was abusive to Sawyer, something that she never shared with anyone. Then a teacher who harassed Sawyer ends up dead and things really start getting crazy.

I found this book very easy to read though its writing certainly isn't deep nor do the characters have much development. The most intriguing part was how Sawyer has been prescribed medication (understandable given the death of her boyfriend and also lingering tensions from her parents' divorce) and her narration of events may or may not be accurate depending on how she's coping. Personally I was completely caught off-guard by the reveal of who is behind everything though there wasn't really a large suspect pool-I feel like it could have been one of four people, based on who is named and who is close enough to Sawyer and it was one of those four. But that's only in hindsight. While reading I was completely caught up in the story.

So the writing keeps you gripped. But the characters, where the novel really makes or breaks it, weren't much of anything. I adored the flashbacks of Sawyer to memories of her boyfriend: how he always said he wanted her which felt so good after the turmoil of her parents' relationship but how that turned dark. I apparently have a high tolerance for books with abusive relationships so I valued seeing those sections and how it influences Sawyer's decision in this later chapter of her life. She feared no one would believe her about the abuse because they seemed like the perfect couple and she fears no one will believe her about these other incidents especially because when she does try to go to the police, the small fragments of evidences she has are dismissed as coincidence. Other characters include her best friend Chloe who adds some welcome moments of humor and new love interest Cooper who I didn't get much of a feel for (I pretty much pictured him as a younger Cooper from Meg Cabot's Heather Wells series because they share a name.)

Overall: Addictive writing but not an outstanding example of characterization. Pick it up for a quick read, maybe even this month as there are a few chills within these pages.

Other Opinions:
Alison Can Read
I Swim for Oceans
Jen Ryland/YA Romantics
Rather Be Reading
Supernatural Snark
The Book Babe's Reads

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Blog Tour: The Art of Letting Go + #Giveaway

Today I am pleased to be a stop on the blog tour for The Art of Letting Go by Anna Bloom, a NA contemporary; I heard about this via CBB Book promotions.

The Art of Letting Go by Anna Bloom
3.5/5 stars
Soul Mate Publishing, 2013
393 pages
NA Romance Contemporary

Source: Received an e-ARC from author via blog tour.
One year. One woman. One Diary. One question: can you ever stop history from repeating itself and if you could what would you do to stop it?

When Lilah McCannon realises at the age of twenty-five that history is going to repeat itself and she is going to become her mother—bored, drunk and wearing a twinset—there is only one thing to do: take drastic action.

Turning her back on her old life, Lilah’s plan is to enrol at university, get a degree and prove she is a grown-up.

As plans go, it is a good one. There are rules to follow: no alcohol, no cigarettes, no boys and no going home. But when Lilah meets the lead singer of a local band and finds herself unexpectedly falling in love, she realises her rules are not going to be the only things hard to keep.

With the academic year slipping by too quickly, Lilah faces a barrage of new challenges: will she ever make it up the Library stairs without having a heart attack? Can she handle a day on campus without drinking vodka? Will she ever manage to read a history book without falling asleep? And most importantly, can she become the grown-up that she desperately wants to be.

With her head and her heart pulling her in different directions can Lilah learn the hardest lesson that her first year of university has to teach her: The Art of Letting Go? 
I haven't really read much NA, generally not being much interested in their plot lines but something about the British setting at uni really spoke to me. And it sounded really cute and funny so I was excited to be a part of this tour. Having now read this book, I have to separate my feelings into two categories: the one that really loved the book and the other that conflicts with me as a person and reader. We'll start with the latter to explain why *I* don't unreservedly love the book.

Did you notice how this book is set in England? Are you very familiar with some of the cultural differences between Brits and Americans? For example, attitudes toward alcohol? Personally I'm a teetotaler because I loathe the taste of alcohol, not because I have strong feelings about temperance. But man do these characters drink a lot! I feel like there was more drinking than studying in this book. My understanding in general is that Brits (and Europeans) have a more relaxed, less uptight attitude toward alcohol, which would explain why it's treated so casually when I was cringing. Also the two main characters smoke, something I find absolutely disgusting (I consider myself very lucky to live in a state that no longer allows cigarette smoking in restaurants as the smell makes me gag). My friend was in London this summer and said her husband, who is also very sensitive to secondhand smoke, hated being around so many smokers. So that's another cultural difference there that affected my reading of the book.

The other part I didn't like so much is just my preference for comedy of which there is a lot but there is also a lot of back and forth on Lilah's part. I just wanted her to pull it together and get with hot musician Ben. Instead she angsts so much and I just wanted to jump in the book and boss her around (gosh I'm bossy!) When they were together, the book just sizzled. So I'm not really a reader who's good at the tension between the main couple-I just want them together. But I know a lot of readers love that and you'll get some good moments here.

Something that left me pleasantly surprised was the romance, in fact. I anticipated some seriously steamy scenes as that is my understanding of what NA promises but it's actually pretty tame. There's off the charts chemistry but it's not as graphic as I expected, which I think is all to the good. The couple spend rather a lot of time talking and getting to know each other as they are in each other's lives through the whole year of uni.

As for the characters...Lilah was very brave. She starts the book at a lucrative but unfulfilling job, giving it up to return to uni much to her father's dismay. By making that decision, she shakes up her whole family, forging new relationships with her parents and twin Tristan, making new friendships, pursuing a course in history, and of course meeting musician Ben who believes so strongly in the pair. I also love that he can cook and his sensitivity to his family but his most attractive quality is really his belief in their relationship-he thinks they can go the distance. Lilah's most relatable quality, to me, was her fondness for Taylor Swift songs-I'll confess sometimes Taylor is the soundtrack to my life though I don't have near the love life of either woman.

The plot has a lot going on as we cover an up and down year in the life of Lilah told through journal entries. I found it compulsively readable and sped through it in the course of just one day. I feel like it's a bit like Bridget Jones' Diary though I never read all of that book-something about the British humor and romantic adventures.

Overall: A very British story about love, finding yourself, and learning to let go-super fun and readable; especially recommended for New Adult fans and those who don't necessarily want a steamy story.

And now as part of the tour, there's a giveaway opportunity-I hope you'll enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Anna Bloom is a contemporary romance writer who writes about life as it happens. Combining a busy schedule of looking after two small children whilst working in a local school and completing The Uni Files series she also spends a lot of time imagining kissing hot guys – all in the name of her art.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Heiresses

The Heiresses by Allison Rushby
4/5 stars
St. Martin's Griffin, 2013
344 pages
YA/NA Historical

Source: Bought

This book attracted me for several (rather shallow) reasons. For starters, the cover is super pretty. I love the color of her dress and her lipstick and it just screams historical elegance to me. Once I read the summary, I was pulled in by the mention of sisters (triplets to be specific) and 1920s London, a time of elegance for those wealthy enough to be a part, which these girls most certainly are. So I bought a copy and then it sat and sat and sat while I worked through review books before finally settling down with it this past weekend.

Well I could just kick myself for waiting so long to pick up this book. Though it had some flaws that nagged at me, I was mostly just swept away and I really enjoyed it. Best of all, I believe it is supposed to be a standalone so each story is pretty much wrapped up. I think this is partly because it seems to have been originally published as six e-books with a cliffhanger to end each section but designed just to be those six parts and nothing more. I appreciate a conclusive ending with the most important plot points addressed but with room for the reader to speculate about the ultimate end for the characters as they age and continue moving through their lives.

However I was nervous at the start because it begins with the birth of the triplets to a dying mother and a cruel father with an indifferent doctor in attendance. Only aunt Hestia's determination and the ministrations of a kind nursemaid aid the girls in their first days. Soon each is farmed out to a different family with their origins concealed until they reach the age of eighteen and their father is dead. Aunt Hestia brings the three girls together to share the news and lets them at London. Eldest Thalia is thrilled to escape her horrible upbringing and eagerly partakes in everything offered: parties, boys, alcohol, drugs, etc. anything to battle her demons. Middle Erato is of a more intellectual bent and is excited for the opportunity to attend university but is derailed by a young man. Youngest Clio had the idyllic pastoral childhood and is concerned with her mother's lungs as she observes her sisters' embrace of decadence. Additionally the girls have to battle their half-brother for their mother's fortune and investigate the mystery of why Clio looks so different.

There is so much packed into this novel so there is really something for everyone. Family drama, romance, childhood traumas galore, class issues, eugenics makes an appearance, religion, contemporary birth control: what have you is probably there (and I'm not even mentioning everything!) Personally I found myself most drawn to Clio, being rather appalled by Thalia's casual disregard for her person and never quite clicking with Erato though I had anticipated being most connected with her. Instead Clio's faith and confidence in herself was what I loved. That's not to say that I didn't like the other characters, just that Clio had that something special that intrigued me.

I also must mention the names. The older generation are sisters Demeter and Hestia with next generation being Thalia, Erato, and Clio. As a lover of Greek mythology, I recognized the source but I do wonder about its likelihood. It just seemed so out-there and I would have expected names more like Margaret, Mary, and Elizabeth. I never got used to seeing them in print even with acquaintances like Venetia appearing next to them.

Overall: An enchanting breakneck romp through 1920s London stuffed to the brim with drama that kept me breathlessly flipping through the pages especially as I reached the conclusion.

Other Opinions:
Books Live Forever
The Best Books Ever

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ramblings and the Week to Come 20OCT13 #Giveaway

Ramblings on 2014:
Although it is only October, I'm kind of already thinking about 2014 and what I want to accomplish personally, professionally, and how reading/this blog will play a part in that. I'm definitely planning to cut back on quantity read (this year's goal is 300 and I feel comfortable that I will reach that achievement). Instead I want to try some longer, more challenging reads. For starters, I want to tackle two dystopian classics 1984 by George Orwell and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, inspired by this comic I saw on Pinterest. I've never read either and think it will be fun to finally give them a read. I'm not starting them now because I want to give my full attention to War and Peace and checking that off my list. I also want to read some management/leadership books, partially inspired by Brene Brown's Daring Greatly. It gave me some thoughts about communication and vulnerability that I've been using to think about my career and I want to follow up on that. There are also some other non-fiction books I want to check out. I don't know how that will impact the blog yet but I hope it will prove interesting. Is anyone else planning some changes for 2014 already?

The Week That Was plus Giveaway:
This past week was the week of The Scarlet Pimpernel as I shared thoughts on this classic from Jen Ryland/YA Romantics and me. Wednesday saw her review of Diana Peterfreund's interpretation Across a Star-Swept Sea and then on Friday, I unveiled my giveaway (super easy: open internationally and all you have to do is enter-no endless list of bonus entries!)

My Obsession:
This is more of a rediscovered obsession with a bit of a story. For about four years, I was super into musicals (I liked them before and still do but it's less intense now) and of course that includes those written by the great Stephen Sondheim. Earlier this month I heard one of my coworkers singing some bars from A Chorus Line and found myself doing work that lends itself well to listening to musicals so I dug out files for Into the Woods because I am so so excited for the musical. I adore Anna Kendrick and Emily Blunt, who are two of the stars (also Chris Pine and Meryl Streep) so I hope this is a more pleasing film version than some other musicals as I have not been much impressed in recent years with the film adaptations we've gotten. Does anyone else love musicals or is interested in this forthcoming movie?
Into the Woods cast
Week to Come: I'm pretty excited about this week and hope you'll enjoy what I have planned :)
The Heiresses by Allison Rushby-I've already read this historical fiction about sisters and can promise a positive review of it to come
The Art of Letting Go by Anna Bloom-it's a contemporary NA, part of a tour from CBB Book Promotions; I'm a bit concerned about the potential steam but I love the premise
Truly Madly Deadly by -although I've been disappointed by the reviews I've seen, this is actually a book I bought so I want to actually give it a read.
The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas-I grabbed this from Amazon Vine after seeing some good reviews from bloggers I trust
Invasion by Walter Dean Myers-a WWII YA story looking at Normandy that could prove very intense
Hitler's Secret by Walter Osborne-promises to be cinematic; it looks to be a sequel but hopefully I'll be able to get into the story.

So that's my week; what's up with you?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales

edited by Paula Guran
4/5 stars
Prime Books, 2013
384 pages
Adult Fairy Tales Short Story Collection

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

As has been long documented on this blog, I adore fairy tales in pretty much all iterations so of course I was going to take the opporutnity to read the new variations contained in this book. My usual policy for short story collections is to review each individually (just a few sentences) so be ready for a long one today because we have eighteen to cover.

"The Coin of Heart's Desire" by Yoon Ha Lee: This story is based on a Korean folktale so it was not one I was familiar with but it does have dragons and is very well-written. I was not expecting the ending but loved how it all panned out.

"The Lenten Rose" by Genevieve Valentine: This is based on The Snow Queen, a story I only vaguely know and I did not really like this retelling. I wonder if more familiarity with the original tale would have helped me here. I kept feeling like I was missing something...

"The Spinning Wheel's Tale" by Jane Yolen: This is an author whose name I've seen a lot but who I actually haven't read though several of her books are on my list. Here her offering is a short variation on the tale of Sleeping Beauty, looking at the innocent at the heart of the story. It's very short so it didn't make much of an impression on me.

"Below the Sun Beneath" by Tanith Lee: The Twelve Dancing Princesses was always one of my favorite stories as a kid so I just adored this elaborate retelling. Though the beginning left me wondering where we were going, I soon caught on and was thrilled with the feminist slant included. This was probably my favorite of the stories.

"Warrior Dreams" by Cinda Williams Chima: I admire the intention behind this story which looks at a contemporary soldier struggling to reintegrate himself to civilian life and being brought into a battle with some fantastical creatures. The writing for this never clicked with me and I had trouble staying engaged with the story.

"Born and Bread" by Kaaron Warren: I've never heard of the Russian story "Sivka Burka," which inspired this interpretation but I loved how it was rolled out here. I don't have much to say about it but this was another one I liked.

"Tales That Fairies Tell" by Richard Bowes: This was a weird take on Puss in Boots though admittedly that is never one of my favorite stories despite getting to live with an adorable cat who could totally rock boots if he so chose. I did not find much to impress in this story but I'm sure it will intrigue others.

"Sleeping Beauty of Elista" by Ekaterina Sedia: takes as a starting point a pediatric AIDS outbreak in Elista and weaves in a bit of Sleeping Beauty to shake things up. This one had a heavy air of melancholy over it but was beautiful all the same.

"The Road of Needles" by Caitlin R. Kiernan: Little Red Riding Hood is the inspiration here though it's a shaky one. I thought the ending pages were most excellent but the beginning is a bit of a slog in this sci-fi twist-there are many made-up words and terms thrown at the reader. I preferred focusing more on the familial relationship.

"Lupine" by Nisi Shawl: This was such a weird story beginning with a mother who hates her daughter. I liked how this eventually ended but hated the starting point :(

"Flight" by Angela Slatter: I was not familiar with either of the stories referenced by the author in her introduction this story, which made me nervous as I tend to like the retellings more when I know their source material. Still it was beautifully written and the start, middle, and end were clearly distinguished. I especially loved the use of the sister-sister relationship as well as mother-daughter when looking at two standout parts.

"Egg" by Priya Sharma: A woman is somewhat incautious when wishing for a child and having that wish fulfilled. The heartbreak is palpable in this story as the mother struggles with her daughter and ends up doing the difficult but right thing.

"Castle of Masks" by Cory Skerry: This was such a cool story. It owes a bit to Beauty and the Beast and has so many great moments. Another standout in the collection.

"The Giant in Repose" by Nathan Ballingrud: I enjoyed this story more upon giving it a second read as I initially found the story bewildering. When I read it the second time, I knew the characters better. I liked how it played with the Story, making me think of Mercedes Lackey's fairy tale novels where the Story will impel people to fulfill certain tropes.

"The Hush of Feathers, The Clamor of Wings" by A.C. Wise: Such a sad story with a brother who chose to remain a bird after his sister's sacrifice of silence and knitting a nettle shirt for each of her seven brothers; what will he give up for her to allow her to live?

"Eat Me, Drink Me, Love Me" by Christopher Barzak: I did not really like this retelling of The Goblin Market though I suspect this is one I'd have at least enjoyed if I was familiar with that poem. Instead I just kept reading hoping to eventually fall in love but never succeeding.

"The Mirror Tells All" by Erzebet YellowBoy: I loved how the starting point for this Snow White retelling is not about mother-daughter competition or jealousy but instead is about triumph in the face of those who would "try to stifle a young woman's spirit." I thought it was very neat how the elements of the original story were woven in.

"Blanchefleur" by Theodora Goss: I think this was the longest story in the collection and it ended up being one of the best too. It really honors the traditional fairy tales with the young man who no one much values, undergoing three trials, rescuing a kingdom, and learning from a mysterious frightening woman. It may have been a bit on the long side for this collection but the characterization really benefited from that.

Overall: I enjoyed this collection, finding more stories to enjoy than skip. If you like short story fairy tale collections, this would be worth checking out.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Giveaway: Across a Star-Swept Sea

Yay-it's giveaway Friday! You've seen my post about The Scarlet Pimpernel and Jen Ryland/YA Romantics' post about Diana Peterfreund's reinterpretation Across a Star-Swept Sea so now it's a chance for you to win a copy for yourself. It's easy-peasy: just enter!

The giveaway will run until October 27th, Midnight, EST and the winner will receive a copy of Across a Star-Swept Sea from The Book Depository if international or Amazon if the winner is US-based. Leave a comment or email me at bookworm1858 AT hotmail DOT com if you have any questions :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Midnight Dress

The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee
3/5 stars
Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2013
277 pages
YA Historical

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

This book was not on my radar until I saw a couple of positive reviews from bloggers I adore (see below). Then I was desperate for a copy and am pleased to share my thoughts with you today though the book was not as strong for me as it was for those reviewers.

I think my big difficulty was the writing style. It is very literary with many evocative passages bringing to life all the life in this Australian town, human, animal, and plants alike. And I could not get into it. I am a reader who tends to prefer a more commercial straightforward style but can appreciate more elevated writing on occasion; this was not one of those occasions. Additionally the first part of each chapter is in italics to indicate that it takes place in the present while the longer non-italicized part is sort of a flashback leading up to the events in italics. I had so much trouble with this formatting. It made perfect sense but it was hard to read.

There are actually kind of three stories: the italicized part featuring cops looking for a missing/dead girl, the bulk of the book following the ups and downs of a friendship between Rose and Pearl as the former makes the titular dress for the annual Harvest Festival, and the life story of Edie Baker, the seamstress teaching Rose how to sew and create. By far my favorite parts were the flashbacks and insights into Edie's life though I still can't quite see the point. Sure I found it interesting but juxtaposing it against the lives of Rose and Pearl really didn't add much clarity for me.

Something I found surprising, though it shouldn't have been as I had read other reviews mentioning this, is that this story is set in 1986. It didn't feel like it was set today being that there were no mentions of cell phones or computers but other than a reference to a worldwide event in 1986 and brief mentions of Edie's family's history, the book doesn't seem very set in a particular time. The setting though is quite distinct as mentioned above especially describing the lush natural world around them, not that I was much interested.

Something I didn't find surprising was the ultimate resolution. I figured out pretty quickly what would be revealed about that girl and I didn't want my suspicions confirmed. I also found the very end frustrating and heartbreaking-all one character wants is X to happen but for reasons, it never will.

Overall: Alas this book and I just did not click as the writing style did not fit my mood. I also think I might have been better off reading a happier tale at this point but what can you do?

Other Opinions:
Jen Ryland/YA Romantics
The Flyleaf Review

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Goodbye, Rebel Blue

by Shelley Coriell
4/5 stars
Harry N. Abrams, 2013
307 pages
YA Contemporary

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

I wasn't really sure what to expect from this book despite seeing several reviews beforehand. Luckily that worked to my advantage because I ended up really loving this story! I found it to be a completely charming contemporary and I'm so glad it came my way.

Rebecca "Rebel" Blue is orphaned, living with her aunt, uncle, and perfect cousin, and expressing an negative attitude about everything in life. In detention, she collides with the perky Kennedy Green and both are instructed to create a bucket list. When Rebel hears about Kennedy's death the next day, she is inspired to try to complete Kennedy's bucket list, compiled of twenty do-good activities. As Rebel steps out of her comfort zone, she also makes connections healing damage with her surviving family and flirting with do-gooder Nate.

I found the book a bit slow at first to be quite honest, mostly because I was wondering how the bucket list was going to get entwined in Rebel's life. As the novel progressed and I saw how it was changing her life, I just started getting all these tingly feelings in my heart. It seemed so sweet to me and I got excited whenever Rebel managed to make something work, whether through sheer determination to complete that dang list (because Rebel is a woman of her word) or through listening to someone else and taking that valuable advice.

The romance is pretty cute though it won't be to everyone's taste. Nate is the all-around American golden boy, playing baseball, honors student, volunteers, involved in student government, etc. He doesn't bring the swoons like the bad boys of YA but he's actually the kind of guy I like in real life so of course I liked him here. He doesn't get as much page time or development as I'd like in a full blown romance but since this is more about Rebel's journey, I didn't mind that.

Another important element is Rebel's family life. Her mother died and her father was a one-night stand, leaving her to the care of her overbearing aunt, hands-off uncle, and competitive cousin. Or so it seems until this project forces Rebel to more closely examine and be grateful for these relationships. Finally she is able to see some positives and it really filled me with joy to see that recognition grow in her. Their relationship is not magically perfect but there are steps of progress made in a realistic fashion.

Overall: I really loved this book. I found it so heart-warming and felt like it really spoke to me at that moment. Really just a fantastic contemporary that reminds me why I love the genre so much. I look forward to checking out more of Coriell's writing like her debut Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe.

Cover: I think she kind of looks like Carly Rae Jepsen-does anyone else see this?

Other Opinions:
Candace's Book Blog
Mission to Read
Rather Be Reading
Readers in Wonderland 
The Book Babe's Reads

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

by April Genevieve Tucholke
3.5/5 stars
Dial, 2013
360 pages
YA Fantastical Horror

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

My favorite covers tend to have pretty dresses on them (see Wither for example) but something about the font for this one immediately caught my interest and had me positively salivating for its release. I'm so glad I've finally had the chance to pick it up!

Now that I've finished, I'm of two opinions. On the one hand, I loved the writing. I found it absolutely atmospheric and arresting, nearly impossible to put down. But I hated the characters and the fact that the plot felt pretty aimless for the majority of the book before ratcheting up the horror.

Violet and her twin brother Luke live in a falling apart mansion unsupervised while their parents pursue their art abroad. Desperate for some cash, she advertises for a renter and soon enough along comes the charming River West. Coinciding with his arrival are some strange occurrences, ones that have Violet mistrusting her senses as River seems to possess extraordinary powers of persuasion. But he's not the only devil in town...

We'll start with the good, which was the beautiful writing. I found myself completely sucked in and nearly incapable of putting the book down for long. I'd set it down after a chapter, intending to do something else but kept finding myself drawn back to find out what would happen next. BUT then we reach a plot twist that would be a spoiler that led to me thinking what was the point?! We were all set up to believe one thing and then that is taken away and twisted. True, that is the point when things really start getting horrifying and really had me clutching my pearls but it also negated a lot of the information that had previously been shared with us. And not in a way that had me doubting the reliability of the narrator, which was already shaky; rather it is in a way that left me upset with the author for this poor contrivance.

Moving on to the distinctly negative, I didn't feel much of anything for any of the characters and when I did, it was anger with them. I never got much of a feel for Violet outside of her relationship with River, Luke is so disgusting with his machismo, and their neighbor/friend Sunshine seemed to be entirely defined by her sexuality without being allowed a brain. River's manipulation rubbed me the wrong way and obviously I hated that other character who shows up.

Overall: Beautiful writing with some truly horrific events, the writing about which only drives home their horror but with poor characters leading the way. I'm still inclined to check out the second book in this two-part series if only to see if the characters can be deepened and redeemed enough for me to care.

Other Opinions: Again my blogging friends had a lot of thoughts, here are just a few
A Reader of Fictions
Candace's Book Blog
In Bed With Books
Jen Ryland/YA Romantics
The Book Swarm
The Flyleaf Review

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Dream Thieves

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
4/5 stars
Scholastic Press, 2013
438 pages
YA Paranormal

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

After first book The Raven Boys absolutely enchanted me last year (becoming my favorite Stiefvater novel), of course I wanted to read its sequel. The only problem was not quite being able to remember everything that happened. I remember finishing it on my couch before a Manchester United game started and then clutching it to me because it was a hard copy but specific plot details? Not important enough for my stupid brain to remember!

Still I pretty easily slid back into the world. I certainly remembered Blue and the prophesy about her true love dying after receiving a kiss from her as well as her family of psychics. I definitely remembered the Raven Boys, Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah though I had forgotten something important about Noah even as the text eventually reminded me of that. I knew about their quest for Glendower and the steps they had taken up to that point while I wondered what was to come next.

This sequel definitely gave me some similar feelings to the first book as I became immersed in the world and tried to follow everything that is happening. But in the first book, it all seemed to come together in a beautiful magical way whereas this felt dull. I'm not the biggest fan of Ronan and he is the main focus so that didn't help. I felt like The Raven Boys, though definitely focused on Gansey, also gave a lot of time and attention to the other characters. This book didn't. It was mostly Ronan and his dream thieving as hinted by the cover and title with Noah barely showing up, Adam continuing to have the most ginormous chip on his shoulder about his poverty, Gansey's obsession with Glendower being put on a backburner, and Blue bristling at not being included like one of the boys: those are their basic stories and it was not near as expansive and enchanting as in The Raven Boys. Meanwhile like I said, Ronan's story was added to; I will only be able to tolerate this if Adam gets similar treatment in book three or four because Ronan is my least favorite and I find him irksome.

Overall: I liked it but I was disappointed. I had hoped this second book would increase my love of the series but instead I felt a little bit like I was marking time and missing more than a few plot points despite my close reading. I still intend to try the third book when it comes but I'm less excited about it.

Other Opinions: My blogging friends wrote loads of amazing thoughtful reviews of this book; here is a *small* sample. Stiefvater writes so beautifully and it obviously inspired them:
Books Live Forever
Jen Ryland/YA Romantics
Love is not a triangle
The Flyleaf Review
The Midnight Garden
The Sirenic Codex
Unforgettable Books

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Scarlet Pimpernel (with thoughts from @JenRyland)

Over the summer, the amazing Jen Ryland/YA Romantics and I decided to read a classic together, settling on the 1905 novel The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy in anticipation of Diana Peterfreund's Across a Star-Swept Sea. We'd both read books that twisted the pimpernel story and I'd seen the 1934 film adaptation with Leslie Howard but we had no idea what to really expect.

 The Scarlet Pimpernel Summary:

The Scarlet Pimpernel is a British man who has led many French aristocrats to safety, escaping the French revolutionary bloodlust and saving countless lives, leaving behind a card with a scarlet pimpernel as his trademark. Sir Percy Blakeney is a dull wealthy English baronet who somehow managed to win the heart and hand of Marguerite, the most beautiful and charming woman around. The two could never have anything in common or could they? For in actuality, they are one and the same with Percy cleverly using his dim-witted persona to hide his real identity. This book follows a French agent attempting to smoke out the Pimpernel once and for all, manipulating Marguerite into providing help by threatening her beloved brother.

Our immediate thoughts centered on the language, which is flowery, ornate, over-the-top, very theatrical, fitting its origin as a play. The characters are caricatured and defined by one or two traits that are hammered home over and over again. For example, Percy has thick blond hair and lazy eyes while Marguerite is beautiful, little, and childlike. Still it was easy to read and the plot moves crazy fast. We both feared muddling through some difficult Dickensian passages (he loved the look of his writing, just sayin') but once the book gets going, it keeps going with barely a chance to catch a breath. Again this fits perfectly with its theatrical roots and helps me to imagine how it might look on stage.

Historically it is a very exciting time with all the tumult around the French Revolution and the British desire for stability. Neither of us knows much about the period although we've read other books set during that time (for example A Tale of Two Cities and were able to make some comparisons to that excellent novel such as when the Scarlet Pimpernel disguises himself as a knitter, bringing to mind Madame Defarge's knitting.) Some real-life figures are mentioned but for the most part, it centers on the fictional. As I already mentioned, they're not very deeply-drawn. Though Percy has the secret life, which could potentially add many layers to his personality, they are not explored. Neither does Marguerite get much nuance to her personality. And if the main characters are so sketchily drawn, what hope do the secondary characters have? There are many small amusing moments with them like the British innkeeper who disdains the French but ends up unwittingly drinking with two Frenchmen in disguise.

One of the most interesting aspects ended up being how the pimpernel disguises himself as a Jew for his most daring escapade. As a Jew, he is considered the lowest of lows and the agents tracking him never consider that it could possibly be a disguise. It's a very clever idea, taking advantage of the unquestioned prejudices of those men. However it left me unsettled as I didn't feel it challenged the status quo of Jewish people being considered so low. Deanna Raybourn wrote a fascinating post about this and other instances of antisemitism in fiction.

Overall: I would say we had a lot of fun reading this and it might be good for reluctant classic readers if they give themselves some time to become accustomed to the writing. It is full of action and moves very quickly though the writing style very much dates it.

Check this out:

On Wednesday, Jen will be posting a review of Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund, which will include some thoughts about its relationship to The Scarlet Pimpernel. And currently she is hosting an amazing giveaway. I'll be hosting one starting Friday too so you have two chances to win :)

If you'd like to give The Scarlet Pimpernel a try, it is available for FREE through Project Gutenberg. We'd love to hear your thoughts if you've read the book.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Ramblings and the Week to Come 13OCT13

Real Life:
  • Today is one of my best friend's birthdays and since she reads my blog, I wanted to give her a shout-out! She's also a big reader and though we are on opposite sides of the country and I can't be with her, I am thinking of her.
  • Friday was a very crummy day for me at work-someone who I thought was going to be in was not and someone else who would have been helpful was not in though at least I knew that person was going to be out. It was very draining.
  • However I came home that day to discover that my Shoe Dazzle order had arrived in less than 48 hours so that really perked me up. 
Am currently breaking in these 4.25" heels!
  • Plus I'm taking tomorrow off from work in order to do a bit of shopping, errands, and reading! Of course I had forgotten about the Dewey readathon but I can do my own mini one tomorrow.
Another loss for my softball team-we really aren't that bad but we seem to struggle to get those outs while our opponents never do. There's no Man U game this weekend :( and my Phillies didn't make the playoffs so I've just got the Eagles and Flyers to concentrate on right now.

I'm Obsessed With:
Lorde's "Royals" (I also like "Tennis Court" and "Team" and plan to listen to more songs as soon as I can stop listening to those three!) Has anyone else been listening to this song nonstop? I loved learning that she was the first female solo artist to top the Billboard Alternative Songs chart since the year she was born and hope to see more women blowing up the charts with their exciting music.

Week to Come:
This week is a bit different as I will open with some thoughts about The Scarlet Pimpernel, a book Jen Ryland/YA Romantics and I read this summer. Then on Wednesday, she'll be posting about Diana Peterfreund's retelling Across a Star-Swept Sea and we're both hosting giveaways!
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley Coriell
The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee
Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales edited by Paula Guran
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...