Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Snow Like Ashes
Author: Sara Raasch
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: October 14, 2014
Goodreads ♥ Amazon

Snow Like Ashes was a hot mess. The synopsis promised a heartbroken girl, a fierce warrior, and a hero in the making. I read the entire book and didn’t read about any of these things. Instead what greeted me was an impulsive main character that was a sub-par fighter who might be able to win back a kingdom.

My first inkling that something was wrong in Snow Like Ashes was the world building. The quick run down is that there are eight kingdoms, four of them are the four seasons (winter, spring, summer, and autumn) and then there are four other kingdoms, the rhythms. My take away was that the rhythms are cool but not as cool as the seasons. The world building was all over the place and I never got a good sense of place. All of the scenes and character interactions felt free standing rather than having a good sense of place.

My second inkling that something was terribly wrong was Meira. The main character had a death wish. She was a poorly trained fighter who was constantly ignoring orders and putting herself, and those around her, in danger. I’m not a fan of fight sequences and there were a lot of them. In more than one of these fights Meira ended up passing out or being knocked out by her opponent. I’m not a trained fighter or anything but if I kept getting knocked out by my opponent I would eventually expect to be stabbed, or at the bare minimum I would probably start re-evaluating my career choices. But not Meira!

I think my last straw with Snow Like Ashes came when Meira who desperately wants to be taken seriously as a fighter suddenly has a love triangle form around her. A love-triangle which consisted of her, a king, and a prince! I’m not a fan of love triangles generally but I can put up with one. The problem with this triangle was that it had no love. I couldn’t get a sense of Meira’s feelings for either boy and thusly didn’t care about them.

Overall, Snow Like Ashes confused me. From the shoddy world building, to the loveless love triangle I was lost. I’ve looked around and a lot of other readers seemed to enjoy this story, which makes me wonder if I read the same book as everyone else. But hey, if you like high fantasy and fight sequences this might just be the book for you even if it wasn’t my thing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Top 10 New Series I Want To Start

I usually don't have a problem starting series, it's finishing them that's the issue. But these 10 series, for one reason or another I haven't gotten to yet. Let me know in the comments if you've enjoyed any of these reads!

1 Secrets of the Eternal Rose by Fiona Paul

2 Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

3 Everneath by Brodi Ashton

4 Penryn & The End of Days by Susan Ee

5 The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

6 Mind Games by Kiersten White

7 The Archived by Victoria Schwab

8 All Souls Triology by Deborah Harkness

9 Black City by Elizabeth Richards

10 Reboot by Amy Tintera

Monday, October 20, 2014

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Blue Lily, Lily Blue
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: October 21, 2014
Goodreads ♥ Amazon

I find it so hard to review Maggie Stiefvater’s novels. Her writing style hits something in my soul and I find myself wanting to discuss small passages rather than big picture plot points which is not the point of a review at all. Suffice to say Blue Lily, Lily Blue did not disappoint on the writing front.

I was saddened though by the utter absence of Kavinsky. At the end of The Dream Thieves he was presumed dead and while I didn’t expect him to be suddenly resurrected I did expect characters to react to his death. Instead it was mentioned only in passing and because Ronan wasn’t a focal point of this story we didn’t even get to see his reaction!

Despite the lack of Kavinsky (who was by far my favorite character in The Dream Thieves) I was easily sucked back in to daily life in Henrietta and the search for the dead welsh King Glendower. The Raven Boys (and Blue) are drawing ever closer to finding him and in this installment the search really ramps up.

One of my favorite additions to Blue Lily, Lily Blue was Greenmantle and his wife Piper. They are one of the stranger couples I’ve read about and because of their dysfunctional relationship I never knew exactly what to expect from either of them. I enjoyed the chapters written from their perspectives.

Overall, a lot of things happened in Blue Lily, Lily Blue but I kind of expected more things to happen. There were some genuinely good parts but I have a feeling that all of the really great parts will be in the series finale which I can not wait for

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Stacking The Shelves 121

The Last Week
Damsel Distressed Blog Tour {Excerpt & Giveaway}
Waiting on Wednesday: Duplicity by NK Traver
Review: The Cure For Dreaming by Cat Winters
Netgalley & Edelweiss
The Glass Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
Dream A Little Dream by Kerstin Gier

All The Brights Places by Jennifer Niven
Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Cure For Dreaming by Cat Winters

The Cure For Dreaming
Author: Cat Winters
Publisher: Amulet
Publication Date: October 14, 2014
Goodreads ♥ Amazon

In the Shadow of Blackbirds was one of my favorite reads of 2013 so I went in to The Cure for Dreaming with a lot of expectations. I expected a story similar to Blackbirds but The Cure for Dreaming was truly it’s own story with a different sort of heroine and a completely different set of problems.

Olivia Mead’s life changes when she is pulled on stage by the young hypnotist Henri Reverie. After that night her father gets the idea that he can “cure” Olivia’s wayward thoughts and suffragist leanings by hypnotizing them out of her. Luckily the young Henri is sympathetic toward Olivia and instead allows her to see people’s true natures, but unable to speak her true thoughts aloud Olivia tries to make him cure her all the while discovering herself and fighting for the rights of women.

I liked Olivia she was determined, feisty, and a go-getter at a time when women were relegated to the background. I admired that she fought for what she believed in even when it meant pitting herself against her father, the only family she has.

While I liked Olivia I loved the young hypnotist Henri Reverie. He was a fun character, and I enjoyed learning how he became a hypnotist and what his hopes and dreams were. I loved the little moments between Henri and Olivia and wished there had been more of them.

My favorite thing about The Cure for Dreaming was the setting in Portland, Oregon. I lived in Portland during undergrad and still visit often. It’s one of my favorite cities and it was so fun to read about the familiar streets and how they differed during the 1900’s. What was really cool was that in this novel Olivia lived only a few blocks from one of the downtown apartments I lived in!

Overall, The Cure for Dreaming was a very different book from In the Shadow of Blackbirds but I still enjoyed it. The characters were dynamic and the setting sparkled. I can’t wait for whatever Winters has in store for readers next!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Duplicity

Author: N.K. Traver
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Expected Publication: March 17, 2015

In private, seventeen-year-old Brandon hacks bank accounts for thousands of dollars just for the hell of it. In public, he looks like any other tattooed bad boy with a fast car and devil-may-care attitude. He should know: he’s worked hard to maintain that fa├žade. With inattentive parents who move cities every couple of years, he’s learned not to get tangled up in things like friends and relationships. So he’ll just keep on living like a machine, all gears and wires.
Then two things come along to shatter his carefully-built image: Emma, the kind, preppy girl who insists on looking beneath the surface – and the small matter of a mirror reflection that starts moving by itself. Not only does Brandon’s reflection have a mind of its own, but it seems to be grooming him for something – washing the dye from his hair, yanking out his piercings, swapping his black shirts for … pastels. Changes he can’t explain to his classmates, who think he’s having an identity crisis, and certainly not to nosy Emma, who thinks this is his backward apology for telling her to get lost. Then Brandon’s reflection tells him: it thinks it can live his life better, and it’s preparing to trade places.
And when it pulls Brandon through the looking-glass, not only will he need all his ill-gotten hacking skills to escape, but he’s going to have to face some hard truths about who he’s become. Otherwise he’s going to be stuck in a digital hell until he’s old and gray, and Emma and his parents won't even know he's gone.
My Thoughts: The idea of your mirror self trying to take over your life is exactly the kind of thing I want to read about! March needs to get here already. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Damsel Distressed Blog Tour

Damsel Distressed
Author: Kelsey Macke
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Publication Date: October 14, 2014

Hot girls get the fairy tales. No one cares about the stepsisters' story. Those girls don't get a sweet little ending; they get a lifetime of longing. Imogen Keegen has never had a happily ever after–in fact, she doesn’t think they are possible. Ever since her mother’s death seven years ago, Imogen has pulled herself in and out of therapy, struggled with an “emotionally disturbed” special ed. label, and loathed her perma-plus-sized status.
When Imogen’s new stepsister, the evil and gorgeous Ella Cinder, moves in down the hall, Imogen begins losing grip on the pieces she’s been trying to hold together. The only things that gave her solace–the theatre, cheese fries, and her best friend, Grant–aren’t enough to save her from her pain this time.
While Imogen is enjoying her moment in the spotlight after the high school musical, the journal pages containing her darkest thoughts get put on display. Now, Imogen must resign herself to be crushed under the ever-increasing weight of her pain, or finally accept the starring role in her own life story.
And maybe even find herself a happily ever after.
Enhance the experience with the companion soundtrack, Imogen Unlocked, by the author's band, Wedding Day Rain.
Goodreads ♥ Amazon  B&N ♥ Book Depository ♥  Kobo

Imogen Unlocked Track Listing:

1. Heavy
2. No Goodbye
3. Something About
4. Sinking
5. Don't Wake Me Up
6. Let Me Go
7. My Strength
8. Unseen
9. Always Speak Too Late
10. The End is Just the Beginning
11. Breathe Easy
12. Edge of the Fall

About The CD: 
Damsel Distressed is the story of Imogen, a girl who's survived the years after her mother's death by focusing squarely on her best friend, Grant, musical theatre, and lots of cheese. The book is full of humor and heart, and also contains a few surprises. Full page sketches are scattered throughout the novel, and each one contains a QR code that corresponds to a song from the book's soundtrack. Imogen Unlocked is a 12-song album of original music written by the author and her husband Daron as their indie-pop band, Wedding Day Rain. Together, the book Damsel Distressed and the soundtrack Imogen Unlocked work together to tell the story of a girl who might just make her own Happily Ever After, if she can just hold herself together.
Mondays are always long, hard days. Mondays with a five-hour rehearsal tacked on to the end of the school day are even worse. It’s just after nine when Grant and I climb the stairs to my room for a quick bite before he goes home. Grant always goes up the stairs in front of me. He tried for years to convince me I should go up first in case I trip over nothing—which, frankly, could happen.

He proposed that he’d “catch me.” 

Even before I was plus-sized, I felt like a big, clumsy thing. I scoffed and told him that my ass being at the level of his face while climbing stairs was simply not going to happen, and he eventually dropped the subject.
About The Author
Kelsey Macke has been creative for as long as she can remember. From an early age she was on stage singing, penning poetry, and writing notebooks full of songs. When the idea for her debut novel, DAMSEL DISTRESSED, popped into her head, she was undeterred by the fact that she had no idea how to actually write a novel. Her bff, the internet, was her guide, and after much trial, error, and candy, she finished it, and set out to get it published… a process far more difficult than, the internet (now her mortal enemy), had lead her to believe.

Her whirlwind adventure was made even more unbelievable when she signed with fabulous agent, Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency and, shortly after, Danielle Ellison of Spencer Hill Contemporary bought her debut.

This innovative, mixed-media art project has given Kelsey an incredibly unique opportunity to join two of her passions: writing and making music with her husband as half of the folky, indie-pop band Wedding Day Rain.

DAMSEL DISTRESSED, and the companion album of original songs, Imogen Unlocked, are scheduled for release in October 2014.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Stacking The Shelves 120

The Last Week
10 Books For Readers Who Like Character Drive Novels
Review: Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters Blog Tour {Author Interview + Giveaway}
Review: Cursed by Jennifer Armentrout
New on the Shelf
On the Count of Three by Maureen Johnson (Thanks Reading Nook Reviews!)
Allegiant by Veronica Roth (Thanks
Boy Meets Boy by David Leviathan (Thanks Reading Nook Reviews!)

The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre
The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Boys Don't Knit by T.S. Easton
(Thanks Macmillian!)
Netgalley & Edelweiss
Betting Blind by Stephanie Guerra
The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick
My True Love Gave To Me Anthology by Stephanie Perkins

Willowgrove by Kathleen Peacock
A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd

Friday, October 10, 2014

Cursed by Jennifer Armentrout

Author: Jennifer Armentourt
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Goodreads Amazon

Ember McWilliams died in the car crash that killed her father but her little sister brought her back. The only problem is that since coming back anything living that Ember touches dies. When the mysterious Hayden shows up at Ember’s school the careful post-accident world that Ember has created falls apart and she finds her and her sister at the mercy of Hayden’s adopted father a man she isn’t sure she can trust.

Initially I liked Cursed it reminded me a little of Shatter Me (without the poetic prose) and I wondered how Ember was going to overcome her curse. When things took a turn for the X-Men and Ember and her sister are moved to Hayden’s father’s mansion, along with other ‘gifted’ teens, I steadily began losing interest. It felt like something I had read before and I didn’t like how passive Ember was.

I also wasn’t very keen on Hayden. He is Ember’s love interest and we are expected to swoon for him but he was so back and forth, hot and cold, that I just wanted Ember to blow him off. But seeing as how he is the only person Ember could touch I felt like she was kind of stuck with him.

Overall, Cursed was a middle of the road read. The writing was okay, the characters were okay, the plot was just okay. It didn’t stand out and that was really the downfall of Cursed.

Read Cursed while listening to
U Can't Touch This - MC Hammer - Because, you know, Ember can't touch stuff.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Cure for Dreaming Blog Tour

The Cure for Dreaming
Author: Cat Winters
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: October 14, 2014

Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind, and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women. Winters breathes new life into history once again with an atmospheric, vividly real story, including archival photos and art from the period throughout.
How did writing The Cure for Dreaming differ from writing In the Shadow of Blackbirds?
Even though In the Shadow of Blackbirds was a complicated mystery involving death and an extremely dark moment in history, I actually found The Cure for Dreaming to be more challenging to write. I asked my Blackbirds readers to take a leap of faith with me when I portrayed ghost/human interactions, but with this new book, I’m asking readers to go even further and buy into the idea of a girl who’s hypnotized into seeing people’s true natures.

My protagonist is a young suffragist fully awakening to the harsh limitations placed upon women in the year 1900. At times she sees certain men (and women) as vampires. It was a delicate line I needed to tread: portraying the wrongs against women in this time period without sounding preachy and stereotypical or completely anti-man. In the end, I decided what I needed to concentrate on most was showing what the world would look to a seventeen-year-old girl—a fan of Victorian horror novels, no less—when she realizes she’s living in a society that isn’t kind to her gender. On the surface, The Cure for Dreaming seems like a lighter novel because of its lack of worldwide tragedy and death, but I think it will be more controversial than In the Shadow of Blackbirds. It deals with a topic—women’s rights—that still provokes strong reactions to this day. 

What drew you to live, and write books set, in Portland and Oregon in general?
My husband and I decided to move our family up to Portland because Southern California became too expensive for a math teacher (my husband) and a struggling writer (me) with two young children. We wanted to go somewhere more affordable, while still remaining on the West Coast. We’ve lived up here in Oregon for eight years now and we absolutely love it, including the rain—which is a precious commodity down in Southern California. 

In the Shadow of Blackbirds is about a Portland girl who moves to San Diego, which is the exact opposite of my own move. The Cure for Dreaming is set entirely in Portland. I enjoy writing books that take place in the region where I live, simply because I have easy access to historical records and all the little quirks that only a local would know about. Not only am I sharing historical time periods, but I’m sharing pockets of the world. 

Who was your favorite character to write in The Cure for Dreaming?
The young hypnotist, Henri Reverie, was an absolute blast to write, but my protagonist, Olivia Mead, is the nearest and dearest to my heart. Like her, I was a shy and awkward girl in high school. I loved portraying a girl who doesn’t initially seem like a rebel but then blossoms into an empowered young woman.

If The Cure for Dreaming had a theme song what would it be?
Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts.” I listened to it most days before sitting down to write, to get into the right mindset for Olivia, especially when she was about to encounter obstacles. I’m usually more of an alternative rock girl, not a Top 40 fan, but this particular song really spoke to me. It’s haunting and powerful.

What was the last book you read and loved?
I’m currently in the midst of reading Heidi Schulz’s absolutely delightful middle-grade novel, Hook’s Revenge. My ten-year-old son and I are big fans.

About The Author
Cat Winters’s critically acclaimed debut novel, In the Shadow of Blackbirds, was named a 2014 Morris Award Finalist, a 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults pick, a 2013 Bram Stoker Award Nominee, and a School Library Journal Best Book of 2013. Her upcoming novels include The Cure for Dreaming (Amulet Books/Oct. 2014) and The Uninvited (William Morrow/2015), and she’s a contributor to the 2015 YA horror anthology Slasher Girls & Monster Boys. She lives in Portland, Oregon. Visit her online at Photo by Tara Kelly.