The TBR Pile: March Madness

Well, March is finally here (well, by the time I post this post it will be).  A lot has happened in February including relocating. Provided logistics (meaning when I find out if I need a PO box to get my orders)  here is the intended reading list for March 2015:

Preorders

  • Under a Painted Sky by Stacy Lee: Oregon trail.  Enough said.
  • The Storyspinner by Becky Lawrence: Another fantasy that intrigues me.  Plus, the main character looks like a girl Robin Hood (alas, she is not a girl Robin Hood).
  • The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski: I love this series because it’s just so political heavy.  Plus, I like the Greco and Roman inspired world.  Really, looking forward to what this installment has to offer.
  • The Right Side of Wrong by Jenn Marie Thorne: Politician’s long lost daughter.  The blurb reminds me of What a Girl Wants I just hope the dad isn’t that big of a jerk because I’ll be thinking of Colin Firth the entire time I’m reading it.  And I don’t like Colin playing jerks.
  • The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows: Another high fantasy with a long lost princess…oh, wait not a princess a queen.

Four, considerably less than I thought it was-I got March and May mixed up.  This is actually a good thing since I have move bills.

Planned Reads

  • The Princess Diaries Project: I need to review March’s installment which is books 6, 6 1/2, 7, and 7 1/2.
  • A Wicked Thing  by Rhiannon Thomas: A Sleeping Beauty retelling that takes place after the fairytale.
  • Work down that To Be Read Pile from Past months.

Library:

Need to find the library and the book store.

Most Looking Forward Read:

I know this is a debut, and I’m really looking forward to The Winner’s Crime as well.  But I like me some contemporaries.

 

Better Known as the Unauthorized Fan Fic of the Windsor Middleton Wedding: The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

In their first adult novel, authors Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan take on a story of romance and rivalries inspired by today’s most talked-about royal couple: Will and Kate. 

If I’m Cinderella today, I dread who they’ll think I am tomorrow. I guess it depends on what I do next.”

American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy-tales. Her twin sister Lacey was always the romantic, the one who daydreamed of being a princess. But it’s adventure-seeking Bex who goes to Oxford and meets dreamy Nick across the hall – and thus Bex who accidentally finds herself in love with the eventual heir to the British throne. Nick is everything she could have imagined, but Prince Nicholas has unimaginable baggage: grasping friends, a thorny family, hysterical tabloids tracking his every move, and a public that expected its future king to marry a native. On the eve of the most talked-about wedding of the century, Bex reflects on what she’s sacrificed for love — and exactly whose heart she may yet have to break.

Source: GoodReads

The Royal We is by the Fug Girls who have wrote a couple of hilarious YA books before.  So, of course I had to request the book.  And thank the Netgalley gods I got approved.

While the Royal Wedding might’ve been so 2011, it’s actually a trend in adult books these days.  Okay, not really a trend.  But there’s a few books about princesses and I’m willing to eat them up. Most of them don’t feature Prince William or a non-balding version of Prince Will like this book does.

See so emulating them on the cover. Except they gave Nick Harry hair.

The Royal We is a fun book.  Fun is the best way to describe it.  You know what you’re getting into-basically a more dramatic version of William and Kate, but it doesn’t matter.  You want to read all about how Bex gets to become a princess and read about both of the royal brothers.

Though, it might be just me but Team Freddie all the way.  I liked Nick, but the Freddie character is way more developed and I was sort of hoping that there would be a surprised twist that the queen wouldn’t have approved of in the end.

I was wrong.

There was nothing really unpredictable about The Royal We.  Pretty everything could be sum up by the cover of the book.  True, the end took a bit of an unexpected turn but it wasn’t that unexpected.

This is by itself purely a fluff read.  The romance between Nick and Bex is fairly realistic.  There is no insta love and there are consequences for action.  It reads like reality, or as real as becoming a princess is going to be.

It’s sort of surprising to me that the romance was portrayed in such a realistic way, while other aspects of the book were anything but realistic.

Most notably, the amount of drinking that went on in this book.  It’s like they’re constantly reading The House of Night series.  If that was the case most of them would be dead or in need of a liver transplant, but the drinking was just viewed as a normal part of these characters lives.

And apparently, they could jet set drink a gallon of Jack and hold down a job in the UK.  Oh, and get a degree from Oxford while drunk.

I wish I could be that productive.

Alas, I can barely write a review when tipsy.

Besides, the amount of unrealistic binge drinking that went on.  There were also a few plot points that I just had to be like come on.

Most likely the whole subplot surrounding Nick’s mother.  Really, no one spilled that secret for twenty years?  You’d think Majesty Magazine would’ve bribed someone.

Besides, those it’s so unrealistic my eyeballs are about to fall out moments, I liked this one.  It was a good escape novel.  I really felt like Bex was a bit of the Every American Girl, so you had the sense that this book could happen to you.

The ending was a little rushed, which is a problem I’ve had with other books by the Fug Girls. It was just abrupt and things came to a screeching halt.  The conflict with the antagonist really wasn’t even dealt with.    Maybe they’re figuring on doing a companion sequel like they did with their YA book, but it really felt almost undone.

Still enjoyable though.

People who devour Majesty Magazine and got way too involved with the Royal Wedding hoopla, will enjoy The Royal We.  Hence, why I am keeping my pre-order and giving it to my sister as a birthday gift….okay, maybe I’m keeping it for myself.

Overall Rating: A solid B.

Top Ten Tuesdays: Favorite Heroines (That Grew on Me)

This is actually a recurring topic.  Favorite heroines.  There are always a few contenders that always get on the list-Suze Simon, Rose Hathaway, Cinder, Hermione Granger, Cinder, etc.  So, it usually ends up being a pretty boring list.  So, today I thought I would look at my favorite heroines that grew on me throughout the process of their story:

10)

Kestrel: Kestrel wasn’t someone I really liked at the beginning of her book.  She seemed spoiled and she bought a slave.  Buying people does not equal bestie status, however she grew on me.  Rukoski showed that this character could feel humanity and it was amazing what Kestrel went through for her country.  And what’s best about all of this, it’s only book one.

9)

Marie Victoria: What a wimp.  And I deplored the ship.  Gill.  Seriously, Gill?  That’s like naming your male lead Lung.  Unless he’s a CSI investigator, it doesn’t work.  However, Marie Victoria grew on me towards the end of the book mainly because she made some really mature decisions for the good of her country.  That hardly ever happens in YA due to the fact that many YA author’s think that selfishness is being part of a teen.

8)

Nalia: Nalia was a hard character to get to know.  However, I couldn’t help but feel for her after I finished her story. Which is weird because usually an over powered character like her would have me freak.

7)

Pierce Oliveria: I really didn’t like Pierce in Abandon, but Cabot did her magic and I liked her towards the end.  Once you know, she got over the whole dark and twisty thing.

6)

Gretchen: I really did not care for Gretchen at the beginning of her story, but as the story progressed so did the character.  Still, liking someone who calls Adolf Hitler, Uncle Dolf takes a lot of work.

5)

Mimi Force: As flawed as this series is, I really grew to like Mimi Force (in the original series).  This character evolves, yet at the same time does not lose her fire.  However, I recommend that you don’t read the spinoff to Blue Bloods because Mimi becomes a sad version of herself.

4)

Aspen: Aspen is another shallow character that gets a big dose of humility that makes her into a decent person.

3)

Sam: I don’t think I would’ve liked Sam before she lost her memory.  However, Armentrout gives this character layers that makes her amnesic self come to term with how she acted in the past and there’s a bit of remorse there.

2)

Beth: All the characters in this contemporary series evolve and change, but Beth I think has to go through some of the biggest changes.  And boy, was I not a fan of hers in the beginning.  However, McGarry showed that there are lots of layers to this character and each of them define just who Beth is.

1)

Sydney Sage-Ivashkov: I really didn’t like Sydney in the first book in her series, but Mead made me love her.  I think what worked in Sydney’s favor was that Mead took the time to develop the character before fully developing her relationship with Adrian.  Which is good, because Sydrian wouldn’t have been near as good if Sydney hadn’t evolved.

 

Fandom Gone Wild: Troll Books?

Recent troll attacks, and the latest John Green incident (because there’s an incident involving that guy putting his foot in his mouth or doing something semi not cool every couple of months).  Have made me notice something again, certain books attract the worst people. Today, I thought I’d take a look at what books, authors, and reviews are essentially troll bait that I’ve wrote in the past.

The purpose of doing this.  It’s more or less pure curiosity and I like analyzing things.  Maybe I can get my inner Fraiser Crane (actually, I’m more like Niles) on and make a new diagnosis for obsessed fan boys.  Or maybe I need to post something on the blog since I haven’t had time to do a read a book to review (yeah, that’s about right).

Some of My Best Troll Bait:

1) Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare: By far, my top troll review-really anything by Cassandra Clare is troll bait.  I wrote this review after Clare announced that she was doing twenty million shadow hunter books.  And I wanted to state my disdain for the omnibus size of this never ending series.  I have been called a lot of things since, by a lot of people.  Looking back at some of the comments now, I laugh.  The thing about Clare fans though is their rabid and numerous.  You’re never going to talk reason with them.  One such person  I blocked (an unrelated author), even made a fake account in attempt to argue more about how wonderful Cassie is with me.  Needless to say, I didn’t accept his friend request.

2) The Elite by Kiera Cass:  The response on my review is actually minuscule compared to the flak one of my GR friends got for their review of The Selection (not linking it since she’s had enough grief over it).  People seem to have a real polarizing reaction to this book.  You can either be meh about it like me, and complain about how China’s takeover of America (the country not the stupid character) doesn’t make sense or you can love the pretty dresses and bitchiness that goes on in this competition.  Maybe it’s my disdain of  The Bachelor that makes me dislike this one.

3) A Beautiful Anything by Jamie McGuire: Once again, a case of me putting a book on my ca-ching list (cash cow) and the fan girls going off on me.  This time I get reprimanded for language.  Apparently, the word shitty is bad.  Who knew?   That was sarcasm, the thing is the books use much stronger language than I used in my review.  I have noticed with these extra books-and this can apply to any author not just McGuire, that this is usually where the trolls hang out the most).  Interesting enough, this one involved another author (not Jamie McGuire) attacking me.

4) Notes from an Accidental Band Geek  by Erin Dionne: Yeah, I know districts can vary their marching band etiquette. But there were some things that were way off here.  Plus, I like with band nerds so I sort of know a lot about band and classical music in general.  Add horrible characterization, and I will go all Book Hulk.  But this apparently upset some people.  Look, my review is based off on my experience.  And even though some things can vary and are theoretically possible (i.e. you can technically get by with playing the piccolo solo on Stars and Stripes it’s going to sound like shit).

Okay, I only listed four.  Mainly, because items number one and three there’s a lot of titles by the same authors that I’ve been trolled over (as of late, see this one).  Bellow are listed common themes I’ve noticed from fanboy trolls.

Common Themes:

  • You can never tell them that they’re beloved series needs to end.  You’re being mean.
  • You can’t be polite with them because most of them just want to fight, the best thing to do is hit the block button.
  • They don’t seem to get the idea that everyone is entitled to their own review.
  • You merely posted the review to get attention and gosh by darn it they’re going to give it to you and change you from the rude spiteful person you are into a Fangirl (never mind, they’re actually giving attention to that mean old review of yours).

Kind of stupid, right?

I really don’t get it.  Why do people have to go out of the way to defend an author, who more than likely never has set their eyes on said review.    I was hoping that when writing this blog entry, I would be able to find some logic behind the various temper tantrums I’ve seen on GoodReads, but I haven’t.

While I have found common themes amongst the way trolls act,  I can’t find theorize a reason towards their behavior.  A common thought is maybe they think they’re doing good?  But you’d think just seeing the previous comments by previous trolls, that they’d realize this isn’t the way to behave.  Sometimes I wonder if author trolls, think that by tolling another author’s book they won’t get labeled a BBA-but still get the attention and notoriety to sell some books that BBA’s sometimes get.

It’ s just confounding.  Honestly, the best way to deal with trolls is to let it go.  Meaning, I just refer them to a post I wrote back in September reflecting my views.  However, it’s still interesting to dissect and analyze their bizarre behavior.

Informative But Maybe a Little PSA: None of the Above by IW Gregorio

A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she was born intersex . . . and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.

What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?

When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She’s a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she’s madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she’s decided that she’s ready to take things to the next level with him.

But Kristin’s first time isn’t the perfect moment she’s planned–something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy “parts.”

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin’s entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?

Source: GoodReads

I recieved a DRC from Edelweiss this did not effect my opinion of the book.

When I received a DRC of this one I literally downloaded and started reading.  That’s how excited I was for this book.  That’s sort of a bad way to start a book, because unless the book is just spectacular it’s probably not going to give you the book-gasm you expected.

None of the Above wasn’t the book-asm I was expecting, but it wasn’t bad.  It had a lot of good things going for it.  I really liked how Gregorio explained what intersex is and that’s it’s a medical condition.  Lots of people aren’t aware of it.  The discussion on gender and the various dimensions it has, was probably my favorite part of the book.  All the factual information.

 

However, the problem was that the book borderline-d on PSA on a lot of levels.  While the intersex information was great and while I appreciated Gregorio going into what a gynecological exam entails (because let’s face it most sex ed programs DON’T do that) sometimes I wanted the book to feel a little bit more real with its emotions.  Also, there was a remark about Catholics and their views on family planning that was just a little ill placed.  While I have my own issues with the church’s family planning guidelines, I really don’t think the book was a place to drop disdain about it.  Even if it was as small as a remark Gregorio made it.

For the most part, I liked the main character.  Her reaction was pretty realistic given her situation.  The confusion, self revulsion, were pretty natural.  What I didn’t like was that Kristin never really seemed to accept herself.  Everything seems to be resolved within the last few pages, but I didn’t really think we saw Kristin come okay with being who she was.  It just sort of happened.

I also didnt’ get the ship.  I think it was because dude had a girlfriend for what my Kindle said was roughly about 92% of the book before he dumped her for Krissy.  I mean, a little out of left field, don’t you think?

The other love interest could’ve came out of Alex As Well.  Yeah, his reaction was that deplorable.  I couldn’t believe a lot of Krissy’s classmates reactions to be honest.  But at the same time, kids are horrible.  What I really couldn’t believe was Kristin not going to a gyno sooner when certain life events-i.e. getting her period-didn’t happen when she was eighteen.

I get that her mother passed away, but they usually ask you when you have a head cold when the last time you menstruated was.  Plus, you have to watch that horrible movie when you’re like ten that tells you that if you don’t get your period by your late teens you should probably see a gyno.

So, that part was a little unrealistic.

And that was the thing about this one, the intersex stuff.  Beautifully done.  I thought it did a nice job explaining Kristin’s medical condition and I lacked how it depicted support groups.

I liked Kristin’s reactions and her dad being supportive.

Completely realistic.

Her friends…not so much.

Their betrayal was awful.  Both of her best friends are bitches.  Her new friends…meh.  I liked Gretchen.  She had her act together.  But as I said before, the Love Interest seemed almost underdeveloped and a little meh at that.

I think the best thing about None of the Above  is that it open the gate to a discussion on intersex issues in YA.  I learned a lot from Kristin’s story.  One of the reasons I requested it is because I love to support diverse reads like None of the Above, I think they have something to offer about life that we would otherwise not know.  And learning about how gender isn’t exactly a binary was fascinating.

Overall Rating: B.  Good on the actual issue, but rough around the edges.  I do think Gregorio’s writing could mature with future books though.

This is So 2012 :Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

Source: GoodReads

This book has gotten so much press.  I might’ve understood it back in 2012, when the themes it bought to the table would’ve been fresh and original.

But now.

I am just bored of tropes like this.  It seems like Red Queen followed this recipe I found in How to Create a Bestselling YA Book at the Let Your Cat Piss on It section  ( a very popular genre) at the bargain bookstore the other day.  Don’t believe me, here’s the recipe.  I annotated it, so that the comparison to Red Queen is even more obvious.  However, unless, Aveyard wrote her name inside the book I don’t think it would’ve been more obvious:

How to Create a Six Figure Best Selling YA Dystopia/Fantasy that Relies Heavily on X-Men (Because Stan Lee Has Never Steered the Honest Dollar Wrong)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Special Main Character
  • 1 Hot Unattainable Male
  • 1 Hot Bad Boy
  • 1/2 cup of Half Ass World Building
  • 2 teaspoons of X-Men
  • A big dash of action
  • 1 teaspoon cliffhanger

Instructions:

1) Introduce Special Main Character: Remember, your character is special.  Use a name that is truly unique–meaning, one no one in their right mind would name their child said name.  Celebrities have already used the name Apple and North, so try to be more original.  Suggested names-Gator, Viagra, or Dogsby.  Please note, you might want to use theme names.

The author of Red Queen  took this advice by using horse names.  Alas, there is no Mr. Ed.

You’re main character should come from the masses.  The poor class.  Give her a family.  Try to give the family a challenge that means they can’t be together.  This will add to conflict and a possible McGuffin quest.

Early on in the book (or very late in the book) you need to show your character is special.  It’s usually suggested you use a life or death situation to show off her powers.  Give her a drippy friend or sibling to save also does the trick as well.  Or you could always rely on the power of true love. Also, make sure the powers are amazing like they’re Storm on X-Men.

Red Queen  uses a drippy best friend to be the catalyst of the plot.  We don’t see much of him after the main character lays her ass on the line. But we do get Storm like powers or maybe they’re more like Cyclops?  Hmm, no Rouge powers though.  Weird since that’s what these books usually try to go for.

2) Introduce Hot Unattainable Male:

You have to show how he’s unattainable this is usually done with half ass world building.  Is he a prince?  Is he otherwise occupied?  Is he hot? Of course, he’s hot.  Make sure you mention his eyes and abs lots and lots.

This novel is an excellent example of step two.  We know all about Cal’s eyes and that he’s crown prince and therefore unattainable.  His personality, however lacks development.

They need to have an instant connection so that unattainableness stings more.  It’s often in this part of the book that you should introduce the Hot Bad Boy or the Other Guy.  The result of the introduction of the love interests should be like this Youtube video.

Aveyard, actually handles this trope in a mildly interesting way. So, I’m not going to be mocking it (much).  Alas,there is no song and dance number after realizing boys were going to be in the book.

3) It’s time for a plot:

But what plot?

I don’t know watch some X-Men.  A couple of episodes of that should give you an idea of what your with.  Issues such as change, all that stuff Spiderman’s uncle is preaching about, and prejudice can be talked about.  Remember, you’re writing a dystopia so you can exert these problems on the world as well, not just a bigoted congressman.

Don’t stress out too much about the world building.  You’ll get loss in the details.  Who cares, about explaining the origin of certain aspects of plot.

It’s just cool looking/sounding.

I.E. Silver Blood.  We never get an origin story.  Even the lamest characters in X-Men have origin stories.

4) End with an Amazing Cliffie:

This is going to be how you get your paycheck the next go around, so make the ending ah-mazing and make up for any flaws in the book.

If I wouldn’t be a prudent reader Aveyard would’ve done this.

So, yeah.  It followed this recipe perfectly.  The thing about Red Queen is that I could see it having an audience.  I’m just not the right audience for it.

Overall Rating: C-a good ending and decent writing just an overuse of overdone tropes.

This Book Needs to Hit an Iceberg: The Trouble With Destiny by Lauren Morrill

It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey…

With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize.

Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition.

But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.

Source: GoodReads

Note: I received a DRC from Netgalley this did not influence my opinion on this book.  Although, I appreciate the opportunity. 

I wouldn’t want to be on this boat.

It would sink fast.  Way, way, fast.  And it would be such a boring boat full of idiots.  Who would want to be on a boat full of idiots?  And a boring boat at that?

Annoying Book Comparison for This Book: It’s like an after school special meets The Love Boat with some Full House music sequences thrown in but without John Stamos to make the Olsen twins bearable.

Yes, I said The Love Boat as in that show Anderson Cooper’s mom guest starred on and with  that annoying song that gets stuck in your head.

THE LOOOOOOVE BOAT…..

That’s what this book is about.

I was actually really happy to get a DRC of this book.  Because it seems like it should be things I like: 1) Band, 2) Cruises, 3) Disaster Cruises.

The third thing is so not true.  There is no Carnival poo boat incident much to my disdain.  Yes, I wanted and expected a Carnival incident to happen on this ship because it would’ve been so much better than the boring book we got.

Because maybe Anderson Cooper would’ve made an appearance via helicopter.

Alas, Anderson Cooper fails to save this book.

I bet if he was there, he would’ve told Morrill that oboe players generally don’t march because the instrument costs as much as a small car and that it’s extremely touchy and a reed can easily be used a projectile weapon.

He would also tell her that marching season usually coincides with football season and that since the Super Bowl is generally in late January early February NOT March which is when this competition took place.

Also, Anderson Cooper would probably remark about how most cruise ships are ill equip to handle a marching band.

Why am I mentioning Anderson so much?

It’s so not intentional. I guess it’s because he calls people out on their shit.  And there’s a lot of shit to be called out on this one.

Which is a shame because it really has a lovely premises, you know if something happened other than silly teenage shenanigans that could only happen in the Simon Pulse Romantic Comedy series in the mid 2000’s.

Yes, it’s that cheese-a-rific which would be fine, you know, if  it wasn’t so cringe worthy.

And I liked at least one of the character.

But no, not one of them.

Also, I hate to say this, but I really have to wonder if Morrill had any band experience.  The drum major seems to have a lot more power than the drum majors at my school ever did.  And the band director seemed to do nothing…in fact, I think he wins a Golden Charlie*.

Just like the character’s roles seem unrealistic, the characters themselves seem like caricatures.   The main character is ridiculously anal, to the point where no one should’ve wanted to be around her.  The love interests personalities were hot guy one and hot guy two.  Both get involved in some crazy roll your eyes worthy hijinks with the main character.  And one is obviously the jerk.

I just can’t recommend this book.  I found myself skimming through it very early on.  Which is a shame, because I know Lauren Morrill can write some good stuff. I think this is the first book of hers that really felt packaged and that’s a shame.

Overall Rating: Hmm, should I give it points for potential?  Yeah, I’m feeling generous.  A D for some good ideas, but it really had a horrible execution.

 

*For those of you who don’t know, the Golden Charlies are an award given to incompetent adults in YA.  Their counterpart, a Golden Bella goes to incompetent teenage girl’s who don’t give a rat’s ass about their own lives.

Do Judge a Book by Its Cover: Snowed In

Remember, last February.  Polar vortex? Well, there hasn’t been that many polar vortex’s this year.  But in the spirit of winter, I’m going to be judging covers with the theme of being snowed in.

What the Cover Says:

What happens to Swan Lake in the winter?  This book explores how those swan maidens walked around in those flimsy ball gowns in polar vortex temperatures.  It also features swan parkas as well.

What the Book is Really About:

Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it’s hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it’s just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.

Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi’s vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.

Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers’ survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?

Haunting and mesmerizing, this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’sThe Wild Swans strings the heart of the classic with a stunning, imaginative world as a star-crossed family fights for survival in this companion to Stitching Snow.

Source: GoodReads

Verdict: Pretty.  While I had mixed feelings on Stitching Snow, the book sort of grew on me after I read it.  And the cover was just divine in real life.

What the Cover Says:

Helena is one of the last remaining humans, after a global plague killed the population on six of the seven continents.  It was just a good thing that Helena was visiting her dad who studied penguins in Antarctica that fateful summer.  However, now the new colony that Helena calls home is threatened by a volcano.  Will Helena and more importantly the penguins survive?

What the Book is Really About:

It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared—thanks largely to the help of Cordell.

Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans to use the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe—even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves?

Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Januari—leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken kingdom and protect them from new threats?

As the web of power and deception weaves tighter, Theron fights for magic, Mather fights for freedom—and Meira starts to wonder if she should be fighting not just for Winter, but for the world.

Source: GoodReads

Verdict: Disappointing.  It looks like the first one, with a slightly different background.

What the Cover Says to Me:

She is a beast and damn proud of it.

Aya hates man.  She never has understood them and their wants and needs.  And when one comes begging to her in the dead of winter to save him and his family.  She’s willing to deal.

At least for now.

What the Book is Really About:

A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Timesbestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

Source: GoodReads

Verdict: Gorgeous.  But the outfit looks uncomfortable and borderline beastly.

What the Cover Says:

She likes painting her roses red.  And she’s determined to catch Alice.  A sequel to Alice in Wonderland starring the Queen of Hearts on a revenge trip.

What the Books is Really About:

Mirabelle’s past is shrouded in secrecy, from her parents’ tragic deaths to her guardians’ half-truths about why she can’t return to her birthplace, Beau Rivage. Desperate to see the town, Mira runs away a week before her sixteenth birthday—and discovers a world she never could have imagined.

In Beau Rivage, nothing is what it seems—the strangely pale girl with a morbid interest in apples, the obnoxious playboy who’s a beast to everyone he meets, and the chivalrous guy who has a thing for damsels in distress. Here, fairy tales come to life, curses are awakened, and ancient stories are played out again and again.

But fairy tales aren’t pretty things, and they don’t always end in happily ever after. Mira has a role to play, a fairy tale destiny to embrace or resist. As she struggles to take control of her fate, Mira is drawn into the lives of two brothers with fairy tale curses of their own . . . brothers who share a dark secret. And she’ll find that love, just like fairy tales, can have sharp edges and hidden thorns.

Source: GoodReads

Verdict: Well, the blood looks more realistic here than the sequel.

What the Cover Says:

Avery is in desperate need of money.  That’s the only reason she’s working at Holiday Park-the amusement park that is 100% Christmas 100% of the time even in July.  Personally, Aves, can’t stand hearing “Jingle Bells” and eating candy canes.  The only Christmas movie she likes is Die Hard, and that’s because of the explosions.  However, a handsome elf might get her into the Christmas spirit-even though, it’s like July.

What the Book is Really About:

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you enjoy celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or New Year’s there’s something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love.

Source: GoodReads

Verdict: Cute.  I like this cover and you know how I feel about cartoony covers.  I think what works for me about this  cover is that it’s not an outright cartoon, the faces are blurred.

Comparisons in YA I’d Actually Want to See

A lot of blurbs these days are comparisons.  I’ve seen everything from Hunger Games meets Twilight to The Selection meets Orange is the New Black.

Okay, probably not those exact variants.  But I thought today, I’d discuss some actual mash ups I’d like to see more of and if there are any books that could possibly meet this criteria.

1) Indiana Jones:

I would love an Indiana Jones inspired YA novel.  With a female character playing the Indiana Jones role.  There have been YA adventure stories, but so far none of them have reached the threshold where they are worthy of this comparison.  Bonus points, if the story is a period piece.

  • The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall: Close but no cigar.  While the jet setting and ancient mystery factor is there, Avery is no Indy.
  • The Tiger Curse Saga by Collen Houck: I hate putting it on here, but this series is going for an Indy feel even though it fails big time.  The sad thing is, if the editing for this story would’ve been halfway there I would’ve probably been one of its biggest advocates.

2) Ballet/Opera:

Any work that is based off of a classical music pieces is awesome.  The stories behind some of these works are just so fascinating.  Plus, I like sort of the blur of genres.

  • Winterspell by Claire Legrand: Not my favorite, but I’m glad it tried to retell the famous ballet.
  • The Wrath and the Dawn  by Renee Ahdeih:  I know Scheherazade is an actual story, but I played the piece back in high school so the music is going to be with me when I read the book and that’s pretty cool.

3) Once Upon a Time:

I like fairytale retellings, especially when they are twisty like on this show.  Although, I’ve grown rather annoyed with this show as of late.  It’s still a great thing to put in a blurb.

  • The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer: Definitely twisted fairytale, though it’s really nothing like the TV show.  There’s a lot more sci-fi thrown in and consistent world building.
  • Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross: Cursed fairytale town.  Sounds like Once Upon a Time to me.

4) Downton Abbey:

I love period pieces.  Fancy dresses, stuffy customs, marriage becomes a political task….

  • Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White: Definitely a period piece with stuffy customs set in a fantasy world.  There is an upstairs downstairs feel about it, but there are no scheming butlers sadly.
  • Manor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore:  This one tries so hard to be like Downton Abbey that it even has a Lady Mary wannabe on said cover.

5) Smallville:

Superheroes in high school is always a fun idea.  Unfortunately, finding a super hero novel that works is easier said than done.

  • Lois Lane Fallout by Gwenda Bond: Because Lois Lane obviously equals superhero.  Though I do wonder if Superman’s role of catching her when she falls out a window is going to be that necessary since high school’s generally aren’t that high despite the name.
  • The Rise of Renegade X by Chelesa M Campbell: Because it’s probably one of the better superhero YA novels I’ve read as of yet.

6) Charmed:

Witches, girl power, hot guys, and a demon a week makes this the perfect series to watch (at least till Cole leaves and Phoebe gets with one weirdo after another).  Still, it’s the perfect go to for a YA blurb.

  • Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs: Very similar Charmed except instead of being witches the girl’s powers are through Greek mythology.  Bonus points for the character’s not killing their hot demon boyfriend-oh, wait, no hot demon boyfriend.

7) Dr. Who:

Who doesn’t want to go on an adventure with the doctor?  What I like about the show is that it’s wacky and anything can really happen.  I’d like to see YA projects try to take a nod from this cinematic genius.  Alas, very little YA books feature bow-ties.

  •  Jackaby  by William Ritter: I’m mentioning this twice on my list, mainly because it claims to be a combination of Wholock (Dr. Who and Sherlock).  Alas, it does not live up to its premises and the only thing remotely Who-ish about the book is the human turned duck.
  • A Darker Side of Magic by V.E. Schwab: Alternative worlds, lady pirates, sounds crazy enough to be Who-vian enough to me.

8)Meg Cabot:

I love a good Meg Cabot novel because they’re so fluffy and OTT, yet they’re surprisingly real. Meg Cabot books have always been feel good books to me.   So, anytime I hear a Cabot comparison it’s give me now.

  • Geek Girl by Holly Smale:  This really is a lot like The Princess Diaries series, but with a lot of The Big Bang Theory thrown in.  Imagine Sheldon as Mia, if you can you’ll get this book.
  • Sophomore Year is Greek to Me by Meredith ZeitlanThis one is actually compared to being like a Meg Cabot book meets a Stephanie Perkins book.  That sounds too good to be true.

 

9) Disney:

Because everyone loves a good Disney movie with a happily ever after.  Plus, since most people don’t read they are their main source of important life material.  Though, it’s sort of sad that most people tell me that The Little Mermaid ends with a happy ending when in reality Ariel’s tongue is chopped off, her sister’s hair is chopped off, and she ends up sacrificing herself as sea foam because she didn’t use the importance of body language.

  • The Princess Diaries Series by Meg Cabot (especially Forever Princess): Well, it was made into a Disney movie.  And let’s face it people only find out that they’re long lost royals in Disney movies.
  • The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson: Princess, a prince in disguise, an assassin.  Okay, one of those things isn’t very Disney-ish, but two of them are. So.. on the list it goes.

 

10) Sherlock:

Because who doesn’t love a good mystery with a sociopath as the starring detective.  To be fair, any form of Holmes is good.  But the BBC show has gave new life to this classic.  And Cumberbatch gifs can be used at ridiculous rates when you call it a Sherlock comparison.

  • Every Breath by Ellie Marney: Where Johnlock works because Sherlock is not completely himself and neither is John.
  • Jackaby  by William Ritter: Maybe a bit too literal in its Sherlock comparison.  If you do like that Johnlock vibe (without the romance that Every Breath provides) you might want to give this one a try.

Just for fun here’s a few comparisons that equal insta death for me:

1) The Selection:

Seriously, this series is like fetch to me.  It just ain’t happening.  And if you compare your series to it, it will have me rethink reading it.

2) The Amazing Race:

I’ve just have had real problems with anything that uses this as a comparison.  Maybe it will work in one of these books, but I think it’s very difficult to show a race in a book.

3) Any Show Starring Gordon Ramsay:

Ha!  As much as I love these shows, I don’t want to read a book about how this risotto looks like cat piss.  Especially since books lack accents.

4)Romeo and Juliet

I hate how this couple is always coined as being oh so romantic.  They’re not.  To be honest, the characters are idiots.  And they deserved what they got.  The good news is that when this is on a book jacket I can usually avoid.

5) American Idol:

Books can’t sing.  They are also not competitive reality shows.  Enough said.

So Long, Farewell: The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead

The epic conclusion to Richelle Mead’s New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series is finally here…

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

After their secret romance is exposed, Sydney and Adrian find themselves facing the wrath of both the Alchemists and the Moroi in this electrifying conclusion to Richelle Mead’s New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series. When the life of someone they both love is put on the line, Sydney risks everything to hunt down a deadly former nemesis. Meanwhile, Adrian becomes enmeshed in a puzzle that could hold the key to a shocking secret about spirit magic, a secret that could shake the entire Moroi world. 

Source: GoodReads

I’ll just say it Bloodlines is a far superior series than its predecessor.

Especially in it’s finale. While I did have some problems with The Ruby Circle, in comparison to the The Last Sacrifice it was perfect.

Okay, overall it was a pretty fantastic book.  There were a few blips here and there, but the book was so much fun I really didn’t focus on them much.

Coming into this book, I was really scared.  I mean, what could Sydrian do now that they were married?

Apparently, a lot.

In this installment, secrets are revealed and things sort of finally piece together in this book.  It’s a good ending.

A really good ending.

Sure, there are some things that just seem a little too put together, but overall it didn’t bug me that much (surprisingly).

When I went into this book, I was a little weary.  Because Sydrian had already reached the pinnacle of a happy ending-or so I thought.  Mead was able to add more layers to the couple that weren’t there in previous installments.  Just like she was able to add levels to the plot as well.

The Jill kidnapping wasn’t as bad as I originally thought it was going to be.  When I read the cliff hanger at the end of Silver Shadows I was kind of groaning.  However, it didn’t turn out to be this drawn out annoying this like the finale to Vampire Academy was.

What was probably The Ruby Circle’s biggest strength was that it was paced very well.  This is really huge for Mead since that was Vampire Academy’s biggest weakness.  I think I spent a total of like three hours reading this book.  It went by that fast. And there wasn’t one part that bored me.

As previously stated, what might’ve been this book’s biggest weakness was how some things were tied up in the end.  One of the plot twists was borderline a little too Breaking Dawn-ish.  However, it did not bother me as much as that book did.

Bloodlines is not a perfect series, it is a fun one though.  Unlike Vampire Academy, it takes awhile to get used to Sydney.  However, I think as the series progressed it surpassed Vampire Academy.  The finale was a nice wrap up to the Vampire Academy universe with leading a tiny window open should Mead ever decide to revisit.

Overall Rating: An A.  Objectively, it should probably be an A-, but it gave me enough feels where I’m going to ignore logic and reason.