The TBR Pile: February 2015

Well, January is  finished.  I’ve read a total of nineteen books this month (unless, I managed to finish number twenty today).  Not too shabby, but I didn’t get to all the titles I bought.  Let alone all I preordered.  Here’s the plan for the next month.

Books Read in January and Reviews Planned for February

  • Princess Diaries Binge Series: I read the rest of the series.  Even though posts for the binge read will stay the same.  I’m moving at the end of February and since I don’t know how long it’s going to take my shelves to get together, I wanted to make sure I had this series out of the way.
  • Alex As WellI’m starting this one today.  So I’ll probably have a review up at the beginning of the month.

Preorders:

  • Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard: I’ve seen some interesting reviews for this one.  It sounds like it’s one of those it’s so bad it’s good book and I’m excited to give it a whirl.
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab: This one looks very action/adventure like.  Which I’m in the mood for.  Added bonus, pirates!
  • Beastkeeper by Kat Hellisen: Beauty and the Beast where the girl is the Beast: sold.  The only thing that bothers me about this one is that it is a middle grade novel.  And I have issues with middle grade.  That blurb though…
  • The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead: It’s the last Bloodlines novel.  Gimme, gimme, gimme!
  • A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas: Sleeping Beauty after the happily ever after.  Call me intrigued.
  • I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios: The reviews for this one have been amazing.  I really enjoyed Demetrios’s past contemporary.  I wasn’t a huge fan of her jinn novel, but even in that book the writing was spot on.  So, I’ll give it a whirl.

Six again.  Maybe that’s more of an average than a huge number.  I actually canceled a couple of books I had ordered.  So that makes it look somewhat better-I guess.

Planned Reads:

  • My January Orders: I’m going to try to finish them this month.  I hate ordering or buying books and leaving them to sit on my TBR.  I still have to get to one of my December order (Princess of Thorns), but I’m trying to let that situation cool off so I won’t be biased.

Library:

None at the moment.  Once again, busy month ahead with the upcoming move.  There might be a few library reads on here, but I’m not going to binge on it.  Also, reminds me find library in town I’m moving too.  Or utilize the digital library service that Harris County Public Library offers.

Events

I’m planning on going to a Marissa Meyer signing for Fairest.  So, expect a post about that.  I’ll probably be fan girling and incoherent, so I probably won’t have a lot to say.

Most Looking Forward Read:

Sydrian!  One thing about binge reading this series is that it makes you hungry for more.  This one is going to be a bit bittersweet since it’s the last one.  But I want it.

Should I Buy It Or Not:

Here are a few books I’m on the fence about.  I’m going to leave a poll to see if you think I should give it a try by buying or librarying it or if I should just ignore it all together.

Initially a preorder, but canceled due to a few reviews.  The premises does still intrigue me-Handmaiden’s Tale comparisons-but at the same time I don’t want to be dealing with another The Jewel on my shelf.

 

Advertisements

Top Ten Tuesdays: Books I’d Read If I Had a Book Club (Focusing on the Midlist)

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme that is brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish. Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of this topic, but I’m going to give it a try.  I’m just not a fan of book clubs, okay.  I think mainly because I associate book clubs with depressing books and pretentious people.  I know bad assumption, but I’ve been around enough people who were reading White Oleander when Oprah was all about it and…I just don’t like that book. I think for this list, I’m going to try to look at less known titles.  Meaning, I’m going to try (my hardest) to include more midlist titles than popular titles.  All will have book club value to some degree.

10)

This book is fun.  Satirical fun with an overdose of the ridiculous added in it for a good mater.  Plus, it has one of the best book trailers ever.  But I think it would make for a very interesting book club conversation.  Pregnant teens in space and death rays that right there is a conversation topper.

9)

I don’t get why this series hasn’t gotten more press.  It’s pitched as a superhero book, but it really deals with more of the paranormal than dealing with cape crusaders.  The sad thing is, that sells were so low for the first two volumes that the third has only been released via ebook.  We must do justice to this, people!  Please, purchase this series so that maybe, just maybe, we can be given a paperback release of the last book. Plus, it would make a great book club book because, um, it’s just awesome and I think there’s a lot to talk about having a superhero book in actual written form.

8)

I know my review was mixed, but there were a lot of nice things to say about Stitching Snow.  I think it would make a great book club book because of the infusion of sci-fi and fairytale.  Plus, you could debate about how it’s similar and how it’s not to the Lunar Chronicles.

7)

This would be a great book to talk about keeping up appearances and whether we should all try to hide our inner nerd, even though there’s a really cute boy who’s a nerd. Plus, there would be the discussion of cosplay and when it works and when it doesn’t work and why comic book artists seem to have a skewed version the actual size of  a woman’s breasts.

6)

I could pimp this duology all day long.  Why it would be perfect for a book club: lots of hot button issues.  Like, who would you want Oliver to look like?  Brad Pitt, Theo James, that random underwear model on the billboard outside your office window….Plus, I like how while light, this book also touches on some issues. This would make for an entertaining book club read.

5)

I really loved this book.  Unfortunately, I don’t think a lot of people know about it (based on recent events).  And I think it would be perfect book club material.  There are lots of underlying themes to it (i.e. what is beauty) that would make for an interesting conversation.

4)

I think this is one of the most underrated dystopian series I read.  As for a book club read, I think there are plenty of issues such as identity to talk about.  Plus, I could totally see a debate about whether Kitty is truly stupid or the most brilliant sociopath of her time.

3)

I really hated this book, but I have it on this list.  Why?  There’s a lot to talk about.  Like is Elsie certifiable?  Why is the emphasis placed on marching band and concert band looks like it’s for the losers?  And why do people constantly flame me when it comes to this review?

2)

This book is fun.  I don’t think there’d be a whole lot serious discussion going on about it. But I do think it would be fun to discuss.  Like, is it possible to actually be a teenage detective?  How do you feel about footnotes being used as a novel?  That sort of thing.

1)

Rosemary is one of my favorite authors and her books are such treats.  Texas Gothic would make the perfect book club pick, because there’s something in it for everyone.  Magic, hot cowboys, witchcraft, and fast food drinks.

Not Hitchcock: All Fall Down by Ally Carter

 

 

A new series of global proportions — from master of intrigue, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter.

This exciting new series from NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter focuses on Grace, who can best be described as a daredevil, an Army brat, and a rebel. She is also the only granddaughter of perhaps the most powerful ambassador in the world, and Grace has spent every summer of her childhood running across the roofs of Embassy Row.

Now, at age sixteen, she’s come back to stay–in order to solve the mystery of her mother’s death. In the process, she uncovers an international conspiracy of unsettling proportions, and must choose her friends and watch her foes carefully if she and the world are to be saved.

Source: GoodReads

Alfred Hitchock was considered to be the master of suspense.  While his movies normally don’t contain an obscene amount of gore (unless it’s that awful shower scene in Psycho) they have had a lasting impression on film and how crime was portrayed in film and TV.

The man even made a movie about psychotic birds scary.  Unfortunately, Ally Carter is no Alfred Hitchcock.

Not that I’d expect her to be a master of suspense (or even intrigue like the blurb suggests), with Ally Carter I expect light frothy capers.  I loved her Gallagher Girls series  and her Heist Society books.  Both series had an element of mystery, but weren’t suspense novelor a psychological thriller like All Fall Down.

I take that back, the fifth Gallagher Girls book was a little bit on the dark side, but compared to All Fall Down that book might as well had been Legally Blonde, Cammie’s weirdo amnesia included.

All Fall Down is not terrible.  It had some things going for it.  Like the whole embassy angle, that could work for it’s advantage.  However, it didn’t utilize that angle to the extent that I was hoping.  In fact, the embassy stuff was more or less an after thought.

What the book was more or less focused on was the sanity of our main character, Grace.

And I don’t like her.

I wanted to, but I couldn’t.

And that’s probably why I couldn’t connect because in order to like this book you have to like and sympathize with Grace because it’s all about her psychological torture as she tries to go all Batman on some scar faced dude, but without the Batarangs or the common sense.

Plus, I bet she’d use a gun.

Oh, wait…not going to say it because spoilers.

I get it.  I’ve seen several Hitchcock films where the Not Crazy individual is gaslighted through the entire movie, but here….I couldn’t even sympathize once with Grace she was just annoying.  And mean (cough, slut slamming, cough).

Oh, yes, there is some heavy slut slamming in this book.  Random hating.  And well, everything was really random about the relationships in this book.

Noah is basically Grace’s best friend because he’s told to be her best friend by Grace’s caretaker.  His twin in randomly a bitch.  Megan, who would seem like an ideal candidate for being a best friend, helps Grace even though Grace treats her like crap for being feminine.  And Alexi just has really pretty  blue eyes/hot accent and is just helping Grace because her brother told him so.

I couldn’t get into any of these characters.

Oh, then there’s grandpa and the caretaker lady.  Caretaker lady is a bit like Julie Andrews version of Grandmere (dyed red hair included) and Grandpa has a Southern accent.

And that’s all I know about the characters.

I think in novels such as All Fall Down, there needs to be more exploration with character since they play such a large role in the novel. I get that this book is first in a series, and that many of these characters are going to be fleshed out as the series continues, but right now it’s just not working.  And in a storyline like All Fall Down had, they needed to be fleshed out some more.

The plot itself was fairly typical for a psychological thriller.  You knew a twist was coming.  You knew that the character was being gaslighted to a degree.  And honestly, the reveal wasn’t that exciting to me just cliche.

I applaud Carter for trying something new.  Many authors stay in their niche, but she tried something different.  While All Fall Down wasn’t an awful, it definitely had some major faults.  I’m willing to give its sequel a chance, but I probably will library it.

Overall Rating: C+

I Prefer Bad Boy Bands: I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre

Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she’s determined to make them come true—for her parents’ sake as well as her own. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local day care to support herself, she barely has time to think, let alone date. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B….

Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can’t risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, a social life is out of the question. The last thing he wants is for four noisy students to move into the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia’s and Ty’s paths cross, and soon they can’t stay away from each other.

The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can’t know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.

Source: GoodReads

I want it that way….

I couldn’t find one with The Backstreet Boys so this is going to have to suffice.

Okay, imagine badly bleached hair.  Guys who shouldn’t be drooled over (but are).  And you have the late 90’s.  I love the title of this New Adult series.  It’s so nostalgic and fun and…that’s about all the nice things I have to say about it.

I am really skeptical about reading New Adult these days, because it’s a genre that just doesn’t work for me.  No matter how many chances I give it.  It’s too formulaic.  However, I was hoping I Want It That Way  (ugh, that song is perpetually stuck in my head now) would be different since it involved a plot device that’s not usually seen in New adult (single dad trope).

Let’s talk about the single dad trope,  it can either be a really good thing or really bad thing.  It just depends on how parenthood is depicted.

If portrayed realistically it can work really well, if glamorized…well, vomit time.

If you haven’t guessed by my tone, this is barf worthy.

Let’s be clear.  I do not have kids, but I have been around them enough to know that those cherubic faces aren’t always going to be innocent and cute.

Example of a child that is not cute.

I Want It That Way, would have you think otherwise.

Also, it really didn’t go into that much detail about how hard it is to be a single parent.  I have worked with several single parents in the past year, and let me tell you their lives  aren’t easy.  Money is very tight, especially when the other parent is not involved at all.   Finding a sitter is not easy either.  And let’s forget that finding a job that works around your child’s day care system isn’t easy.

So, most of them don’t have time to notice and sweet talk the hot coed next door into your bed.

But it’s fiction, MJ…

Yeah, work with child support cases for a year and then tell me it’s fiction.

Whatever.

I think this is one of those cases where real life bias sort of taints the reading experience, though that’s not to give credit to the book.

The New Adult formula is used to its fullest.  Nadia is the non-conventional pretty girl who falls in love with the BMOC.  Introduce half a dozen attractive coeds to have a series (check).  Of course, have them fall into the tropes of the used to be ugly but now gorgeous best friend, the man ho, and the hot token gay guy.  Everyone will get a spinoff save for the hot token gay guy, which is a shame because he’s the only remotely interesting character.

Side Note: New Adult is in desperate need of diversity.

Back to the New Adult cliches.  Nadia pretty girl, friends with lots of pretty people that equal spinoff potential, who is perfect in her classes and intent on paying back her parents for paying her college tuition.

That part made me gag a little bit (I gagged a lot when I tried to read this).

They’re her freaking parents.  Of course, they’re going to help her.  I really hate it when you have these heroines that make it feel like accepting your parents’  help is like taking charity and that you’re a greedy little moocher.  I just wanted to tell little Ms. Perfect off.

But again, digressing.

This book might work for someone else, but it didn’t work for me.  It was too formulaic and it sugar coated issues that should’ve been much more complex and less romantic.  Plus, hot dogs in macaroni and cheese with broccoli-excuse me, but gross.

Overall Rating: DNF.  I’m tempted to not give it a grade because while for me it fails, someone else who likes the tropes could really enjoy it.

Better Known As Don’t Eat the Bloody Apple: Tear You Apart by Sarah Cross

An edgy fairy tale retelling of “Snow White” set in the world of Kill Me Softly for fans of Once Upon a Time and Grimm.

Faced with a possible loophole to her “Snow White” curse, Viv goes underground, literally, to find the prince who’s fated to rescue her. But is life safe in the Underworld worth the price of sacrficing the love that might kill her?

POP CULTURE CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF TWISTING FAIRY TALES: ABC’s Once Upon a Time and NBC’s Grimm continue to pull in high ratings. And with the anticipated Angelina Jolie Maleficent (2014), the film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods (2014), and Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella (2015), Hollywood is infected with fairy tale fever.

CAMEOS FROM FAVORITE CHARACTERS: Viv, who first appeared in Kill Me Softly trailed by her brooding boy-toy Henley, takes center stage in this new Beau Rivage tale. Other familiar characters including Blue and Jewel are back to help her defy her destiny.

TEENS LOVE THIS FAIRY TALE WORLD: Kill Me Soflty was a 2013 YALSA Teens’ Top 10. Readers have been clamoring for a sequel.

A FRESH TAKE ON THE FAMILIAR: Drawing on “Snow White,” “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” and “Rumpelstiltskin,” Tear You Apart is very conscious of the way these stories have pervaded pop culture, twisting known tropes into an exciting new story that can stand on its own.

Source: GoodReads

 

Disclaimer: I recieved an digital review copy via Netgalley this did not change or influence my opinion of this book.

I’m a huge fan of Snow White.  When done right.  Unfortunately, more often than not the fairytale gets sort of short sided (cough, having a movie with you’re starring character being portrayed by K Stew is never a good thing, cough).  So anytime there’s a YA retelling of Snow’s slightly demented story I’m game just like a demented dwarf is game to let in an extremely stupid princess into their house.

Even if it’s by an author whose previous work I was less than thrilled with.

Yeah, I’m talking about the first retelling in this so called series.  Not that great.  But after reading this installment, I think the fact that it involved a different character and wasn’t so much of an origin story helped it immensely.

It didn’t mean it was free of problems though.

Oh, I still got annoyed with this one and it’s five million plot holes and lack of sensitivity, but after much thought I’m still giving it an average rating because it wasn’t that bad.

And man, I hate saying it.  It wasn’t that bad.

It’s almost like, well, I really have nothing nice to say so I’m just going to say it wasn’t bloody murder inducing awful.

So, I’m going to try to focus on the good.  I liked the mish mash of fairytales it made this one a little bit more exciting.  Sure, the two main villains had sort of a lot to live up to if you watched Once Upon a Time (especially since the stepmother has the same exact name as the Evil Queen on that show),  but they held up well enough.  Though I have to admit I was sort of unhappy with the resolution of Regina’s arc.  I know it was realistic, especially considering everything she did…but I just hoped.

And I guess that’s a good thing, that I felt things for these characters.  With the prior installment I just thought.  Idiot.  Idiot.  Idiot.

And while I felt that occasionally here, it wasn’t as bad.

While the romance played a role in the book, it took a backseat to all the fairytale drama and that was nice.  Honestly, Henley and Viv were just sort of meh to me.  Not terrible, but not great.  So, I was sort of okay with them.  It was the secondary love interest I had a problem with.

Man, does Cross like to make the loser in a love triangle a psychopath.  And unmemorable too, since it’s really his daddy who has to take the role of the psycho since this guy is just weak.  Weak to the point of being a psycho.

Though, given the fact a lot of these characters had violent mood swings I can’t be that mean to him.

I think with this book if you take with you that it’s going to be deeply flawed, you’ll be able to tolerate it.  The characters aren’t that great but if you love fairytales this one is a good quick read.  It’s better than the first book.  While the main character is a bit of an idiot, she isn’t as big as an idiot as the prior heroine.  The male lead is also a lot more tolerable.  But it’s no Cinder.

Overall Rating: C+/B-. I gave it a slightly above average rating because it’s an improvement from the first book.

Purple Eyes Make My Eyes Roll: The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

A fast-paced international escapade, laced with adrenaline, glamour, and romance–perfect for fans of Ally Carter

Avery West’s newfound family can shut down Prada when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. Part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle, they believe Avery is the key to an ancient prophecy. Some want to use her as a pawn. Some want her dead.

To unravel the mystery putting her life in danger, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the monuments of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul with two boys who work for the Circle—beautiful, volatile Stellan and mysterious, magnetic Jack. But as the clues expose a stunning conspiracy that might plunge the world into World War 3, she discovers that both boys are hiding secrets of their own. Now she will have to choose not only between freedom and family–but between the boy who might help her save the world, and the one she’s falling in love with.

Source: GoodReads

I almost, almost, DNF’d this one.  I should’ve DNF’d it.  There were three strikes against it within the first hundred pages:

1) Purple eyes.  Sorry, no.  There are way too many Liz Taylor’s in the YA genre.

2) Bastardizing sensitive history.  I like when history gets twisted, but stating that two tragic world wars were caused by a super elite family (um, no).

3) Forbidden romance.  Enough said.

So, why did I keep reading this one?

The concept.

The concept was made for me.  I was so sure (before I read said book) that this was going to be my book soulmate.  I like conspiracy theories, ancient puzzles and mysteries, and some of my favorite movies involve McGuffin like quest.  The Da Vinci Code comparison sealed the deal on the preorder button for me, but to be honest….the adaptation of The Da Vinci Code where Tom Hanks wears the heinous hair plugs is better than this book.

Even that show where Scott Wolter whines on and on about how The Templars did it is better than this book.

That’s sad.

What’s the problem?

Well, it committed three cardinal sins and it happened to suffer from bad characterization and bland jet setting.

Don’t worry, I’ll talk about all of them

Cardinal Sins:

1) Liz Taylor Eyes:

Yes, I know that violet eyes can occur in real life.  Liz Taylor had them and so do other people, but it shouldn’t have been used as a major plot point to make our main character a super special snowflake.

Seriously.

I’m done with eye color plot lines.  The truth behind eye color is really boring and deals with science, not magic.  Plus, having a whole prophecy surrounding a purple colored girl is stupid considering that a small segment of the population has purple freaking eyes.

I think I really would’ve been able to handle the purple eye trope more if  Avery just had purple eyes and it didn’t evolve into this whole big super plot.

Really, I was thinking Hall was almost trolling her audience when she decided to use that trope-that’s how overdone it is.

2) Bastardizing History:

I don’t mind alternate histories, but some events are too horrible to be bastardize.  And that includes both world wars.  I’m sorry, I have a hard time believing some super secret family started World War II or II.  Let’s just forget about all that horrible history that occurred.  Let’s just overlook those people’s faults because an evil World Order started it all.

3) Forbidden Love:

Do I even need to go here?

It just makes me roll my eyes at this point because it so overused.  Here, I couldn’t care because of the poor characterization.  I think a problem that often occurs with this trope is that the forbidden aspect is told to the audience BEFORE any relationship or world building is done and that’s what happens here.  Seriously, it was like…oh, I have to give this relationship some oomph value…I know how I’ll make it forbidden.  Add a prophecy that links two members of the triangle together and you have some vomitrocious worthy scenes.

Bland Characterization:

The characterization was zero.  Avery is nice enough with her Sue eyes, but she has little no personality.  And she had quite a few TSTL moments.  The whole agreeing to go to Paris thing really didn’t make that much sense to me.  I get that she’s a teen, and teens can act on impulse.  But there was no logic to her decisions.  And one of the guys who took her to Paris threatened to knife her…

Stupid much?

The boys.

One’s a secretive asshole with a British accent and one’s an outright asshole with a Russian accent.

I don’t joke.

They’re really about the same to me.  However, the British asshole screams more love interest than the Russian asshole who’s just a tad bit psycho.

Both of them, obviously, are super model good looking.

Bland Jet Setting:

This book takes place in both Paris and Istanbul.  The use of those cities alone should make me excited. But except for visiting Prada-which I could do if I went to the Galleria area in Houston-and a few French phrases that anyone can learn if they take Rosetta Stone.  There wasn’t anything remotely French about this book.

The same goes with Istanbul as well.

When you’re jet setting, it’s important that the audience feels the cities you’re visiting.  Both Paris and Istanbul are rich cities with character.  However, both of them could’ve been in Nowheresville, America as far as I know.

This book wasn’t disgusting overall.  Despite reeking of cliches and tropes, I have read worse.  The thing that bothered me the most about The Conspiracy of Us was that it had so much potential and it squandered it.

Overall Rating: C-.  Sigh…I really have to think about continuing the series.  If I do, it will undoubtedly be library-ed.  I don’t have the money to put up with purple eye shenanigans.

I Lack Focus: This Shattered World by Aimee Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

The second installment in the epic Starbound trilogy introduces a new pair of star-crossed lovers on two sides of a bloody war.

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet’s rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn’s blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.

Source: GoodReads

These Broken Stars was probably one of the most hyped up books in 2013.  I remember liking it, but not loving it.  I sort of had the same feeling This Shattered World, but I think the first book was slightly better (it’s been awhile).

That being said, there are lots of good things to say about This Shattered World.  I’ll start with what worked the most for me: Jubilee.

She is just awesome.  This is how main characters should be written.  She’s tough, funny, and doesn’t fall into the typical stereotypes you see with YA heroines.   She was what made this book.

As for Flynn…meh.  I like him enough, but it’s really hard to get past the whole kidnapping thing.

But as far as kidnappers go, Flynn isn’t horrible.  In fact if he wasn’t a kidnapper, I really would’ve appreciated the fact that he was a beta male in a genre full of alpha douches.

But the kidnapping trope…it’s hard to get past.

The world building is extremely intricate.  It’s very easy to get lost in this book.  In the title of my blog post I state that I lacked focus during this book. It’s totally true.  There would be times I’d just get so absorbed in the writing, I’d completely forget what was happening.  It’s one of those effects that sort of has mixed results.

For a book that had so much going on its world, there is a surprising amount of action in it as well.  It reminded me why I like space operas.  Honestly, YA has some really good sci-fi inspired series right now…but I’m digressing it.  As a space opera, this one and its predecessor are pretty darn amazing.  I really could see a CW show using this concept.

As previously stated, sometimes the world just got a little hairy and I did lose focus.  I also, didn’t like the cut scenes.  I started skimming them towards the middle of the book and should have kept paying attention to them because the were important (hint,hint).

It was also a little jarring how the first book’s plot came rearing its head in this installment.  I get that it’s a companion book to These Broken Stars, but key to the word companion.  I was also assuming it could be read as a standalone-and it could to a degree.

The cameos of characters from the prior book were fun, but I really didn’t like how it had a quasi sequel in the you have to read the previous book feel to it. Even though I did, read the previous book.

In all This Shattered World is a great edition to YA sci fi.  Sure, it has it’s faults.  But like its predecessor, it’s fun.

Overall Rating: A solid B.

Do Judge a Book by Its Cover: New Beginnings!

Unfortunately, I did not feel like doing this feature/meme last month.  However, I am getting back into the swing of things by looking at new 2015 covers and, well, bastardizing them per usual.

What the Cover Says: An adaptation of Music and Lyrics for the YA sect with a Korean twist. Bing is a has been and he’s barely even twenty. Ally is an aspiring song writer who hates the fact that her publicist mother decided to uproot her for a year to repair a failing KPOP idol’s image.  Of course, what Ally never expects is having a connection with Bing and helping him work on a new song that’s sure to be a hit-“Hello, I Love You”.

What the Book is Really About:

A teen escapes to a boarding school abroad and falls for a Korean pop star in this fun and fresh romantic novel in the vein of Anna and the French Kiss.

Grace Wilde is running—from the multi-million dollar mansion her record producer father bought, the famous older brother who’s topped the country music charts five years in a row, and the mother who blames her for her brother’s breakdown. Grace escapes to the farthest place from home she can think of, a boarding school in Korea, hoping for a fresh start.

She wants nothing to do with music, but when her roommate Sophie’s twin brother Jason turns out to be the newest Korean pop music superstar, Grace is thrust back into the world of fame. She can’t stand Jason, whose celebrity status is only outmatched by his oversized ego, but they form a tenuous alliance for the sake of her friendship with Sophie. As the months go by and Grace adjusts to her new life in Korea, even she can’t deny the sparks flying between her and the KPOP idol.

Soon, Grace realizes that her feelings for Jason threaten her promise to herself that she’ll leave behind the music industry that destroyed her family. But can Grace ignore her attraction to Jason and her undeniable pull of the music she was born to write? Sweet, fun, and romantic, this young adult novel explores what it means to experience first love and discover who you really are in the process.

Source: GoodReads

Verdict:  I like the fact that the cover features diversity.  What I don’t like that it doesn’t feature South Korea on the cover.  It does convey romance though, so that’s something (I guess).

What I Think It’s About: Alexi and Moira are the pairs team to beat.  And what better way to set their Olympic program around the dark tainted love story of Henry the VIII and Anne Boleyn minus the whole syphilis and missing head part.  However, Anne and Henry’s story starts to creep into their own life as well, and that can only spell trouble.

What the Book is Really About:

Anne
Wild, brazen, mischievous, bewitching

Henry
Driven, haunted, charming, magnetic

Apart, they are bound to destroy themselves. Together, they are bound to destroy each other.

Henry Tudor’s life has been mapped out since the day he was born: student president, valedictorian, Harvard Law School, and a stunning political career just like his father’s. But ever since the death of Henry’s brother—perfect, high-achieving Arthur—his family has been twice as demanding. And now Henry’s trapped: forbidden from pursuing a life as an artist or dating any girl who’s not Tudor approved.

Then Anne Boleyn crashes into his life.

Anne is wild, brash and outspoken. She is everything Henry is not allowed to be—or to want. But soon Anne is all he can think about. His mother, his friends, and even his girlfriend warn him away, yet his desire for Anne consumes him. Henry is willing to do anything to be with her. But once he has her, their romance could destroy them both.

Inspired by the true story of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, Anne & Henry reimagines the intensity, love, and betrayal between one of the most infamous couples of all time.

Source: GoodReads

Verdict: A little too prom queen and king for me.  Obviously, you wont be able to take this one out in public.

 

What the Cover Says: When Zelda applied to go to school in Athens, she didn’t think she’ d be doing it basically alone.  Back then she was dating, Kevin, and they were planning their happily ever after-graduating and attending the some Ivy League together.  Flash forward nine months and Kevin has ditched Zelda’s behind and she’s still going to Greece…with Kevin.  Can you say, awkward!  It doesn’t help that Zelda has an extremely good looking host brother who looks like he could rival John Stamos if he ever decided to do yogurt commercials.  And Kevin, we’ll he kind of misses what he ditched.

What the Book is Really About:

A laugh-out-loud high school adventure set in Greece, perfect for fans of Meg Cabot 

High school sophomore Zona Lowell has lived in New York City her whole life, and plans to follow in the footsteps of her renowned-journalist father. But when he announces they’re moving to Athens for six months so he can work on an important new story, she’s devastated— he must have an ulterior motive. See, when Zona’s mother married an American, her huge Greek family cut off contact. But Zona never knew her mom, and now she’s supposed to uproot her entire life and meet possibly hostile relatives on their turf? Thanks… but no thanks.

In the vein of Anna and the French Kiss, Zona navigates a series of hilarious escapades, eye-opening revelations, and unexpected reunions in a foreign country—all while documenting the trip through one-of-a-kind commentary.

Source: GoodReads

Verdict: Meh.  A little too cliche.  The title though and the Meg Cabot comparison pull me in.

What the Cover Says: Brenda always wanted to be a princess.  To the point where many people would say she has princess psychosis.  When the dapper Prince Anthony of Not England gets engaged, Brenda knows she has to break up that royal wedding if it’s the last thing for her to do.

What the book is Really About:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Princess Diaries series, comes the very first adult installment, which follows Princess Mia and her Prince Charming as they plan their fairy tale wedding–but a few poisoned apples could turn this happily-ever-after into a royal nightmare.

For Princess Mia, the past five years since college graduation have been a whirlwind of activity, what with living in New York City, running her new teen community center, being madly in love, and attending royal engagements. And speaking of engagements. Mia’s gorgeous longtime boyfriend Michael managed to clear both their schedules just long enough for an exotic (and very private) Caribbean island interlude where he popped the question! Of course Mia didn’t need to consult her diary to know that her answer was a royal oui.

But now Mia has a scandal of majestic proportions to contend with: Her grandmother’s leaked “fake” wedding plans to the press that could cause even normally calm Michael to become a runaway groom. Worse, a scheming politico is trying to force Mia’s father from the throne, all because of a royal secret that could leave Genovia without a monarch. Can Mia prove to everyone–especially herself–that she’s not only ready to wed, but ready to rule as well?

Source: GoodReads

Verdict: I don’t like it.  Mia’s hair looks awful.  The coloring is way too brassy for a princess and I don’t like the sunglasses with wedding veil motif. Props on using Tiffany blue for the background color though.

What the Cover Says: Being the daughter of a traitor was not how Paige planned on spending her senior year.  Or for that matter, she didn’t plan on spending her senior year in Nebraska.  But that’s what happens when your father has been double dipping.

What the Book is Really About:

To fight her destiny as the missing heir to a powerful and dangerous secret society, sixteen-year-old Avery West must solve an ancient puzzle in a deadly race across Europe. Forbidden love and code-breaking, masked balls and explosions, destiny and dark secrets collide in this romantic thriller, in the vein of a YA DaVinci Code.

Avery West’s newfound family can shut down Prada at the Champs-Elysees when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war.

They are part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle of Twelve, and Avery is their missing heir. If they discover who she is, some of them will want to use her as a pawn. Some will want her dead.

To thwart their plans, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the landmarks of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul and through a web of ancient legends and lies. And unless she can stay one step ahead of beautiful, volatile Stellan, who knows she’s more than she seems, and can decide whether to trust mysterious, magnetic Jack, she may be doomed after all.

Source: GoodReads

Verdict: Okay.  I think it does convey conspiracy, but the ball gown is a bit conspicuous.

Top Ten Tuesday: 2014 Edition of Oops I Forgot

 

I read a lot of books in 2014, but unfortunately I did not get through all of them.  Here are the top ten books I forgot to read last year:

10)

I bought this one during a Thanksgiving sale.  I’m a little reluctant about reading it since it has gotten mixed reviews and I haven’t had the best experience with books featuring Eastern mythology.  But Eastern mythology.  And a London setting.  I’ll get to it eventually.

9)

I got this one at the end of the holiday season, KS controversy aside.  I am really excited about how Jay wraps all these fairytales together.

8)To be fair, it was released at the end of the year.  I plan on getting to it soon.  And the plot looks really good.  The cover though, is less spectacular than its predecessor.  I’m actually reading this one now, so I’m not that far behind.

7)

I don’t usually go for dystopias, but the premises intrigued me enough to grab this one as an impulse store at the bookstore. I guess it hasn’t intrigued me since, it’s still sitting on my shelf.

6)

Trolls!  Another one that was picked up during a Black Friday sale.  But a troll prince that could either be really good or really creepy. Or really bad like A Troll in Central Park.

5)

I read so many fantasies last year, that I think I just sort of forgotten about this one.  It does look intriguing.

4)

It looks a bit like Sky High, but the focus seems to be more on the villains which is fun.   Again, it’s on my bookshelf.  Again, I just sort of forgot about it like many books on this list.  I know, I’m a horrible person.

3)

I read like the first chapter or so of this one and it was really good then I sort of had to do some stuff and forgot about it.  I’ll try to pick it up again sometime soon.

2)

It’s suppose to be a retelling of Snow White and Rose Red which was one of my favorite obscure fairytales as a child.

1)‘I usually don’t read books that discuss such series subject matter, but this one stuck out to me. Plus, the author spoke on my local radio’s station and seemed pretty cool.   Alas, I haven’t gotten to it yet.

Back to the Silver Age: The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea M Campbell

Sixteen-year-old Damien Locke has a plan: major in messing with people at the local supervillain university and become a professional evil genius, just like his supervillain mom. But when he discovers the shameful secret she’s been hiding all these years, that the one-night stand that spawned him was actually with a superhero, everything gets messed up. His father’s too moral for his own good, so when he finds out Damien exists, he actually wants him to come live with him and his goody-goody superhero family. Damien gets shipped off to stay with them in their suburban hellhole, and he has only six weeks to prove he’s not a hero in any way, or else he’s stuck living with them for the rest of his life, or until he turns eighteen, whichever comes first.

To get out of this mess, Damien has to survive his dad’s “flying lessons” that involve throwing him off the tallest building in the city–despite his nearly debilitating fear of heights–thwarting the eccentric teen scientist who insists she’s his sidekick, and keeping his supervillain girlfriend from finding out the truth. But when Damien uncovers a dastardly plot to turn all the superheroes into mindless zombie slaves, a plan hatched by his own mom, he discovers he cares about his new family more than he thought. Now he has to choose: go back to his life of villainy and let his family become zombies, or stand up to his mom and become a real hero.

Source: GoodReads

If you’re not a fan of comics, the Silver Age was a period in comics that is sort of akin to the 1960’s Batman series.  Rather, than having gritty series that depict super heroes in a relatively realistic way, you get some goofy stuff.  And I love it…

Remember this show, of course you do. Now imagine this show as a book. You get Renegade X.

Sometimes.

The Rise of Renegade X sort of takes the idea of the Silver Age with it and forms it into a YA book. Which surprisingly works even though there were a few cringe moments…just because Silver Age.

What worked best for The Rise of Renegade X was that the main character had an amazing voice.  Damien is snarky and hilarious, and his snark actually comes off as being fairly realistic-there are consequences for him opening his mouth.  Also, he acts like a teenage boy would act.  In a lot of YA novels, I roll my eyes (all the time) with how the male point of view is written.  Here it actually comes off as realistic.

In addition to liking Damien’s point of view, I also liked how the book focused on aspects of Damien’s life that didn’t necessary include his romantic life.

While there is a subplot that deals with Damien’s romantic life, most of the book focuses on his family life.  And this book does a good job focusing on his relationships with his mom, dad, half siblings, and step mother.   Each character, save for the two younger half siblings, is well formed and has pretty realistic reactions to everything that’s going on.

Friendships are also looked at in this book, which is something I appreciate.  And friendships of the opposite sex at that.  It’s true that there’s some fooling around, but overall it’s primarily focused on friendship.

The  plot is sort of ludicrous though.  Which is expected because it does have a Silver Age vibe about it.  I think it’s going to be something that people either really love or just get annoyed with.  The overall story really is sort of simple, which is good because it allows the kookiness to work. For me, I was in the right mood for it so it worked.  But I still rolled my eyes a little bit.

Much like I rolled my eyes when I saw this.

Overall, The Rise of Renegade X was a fun YA book that didn’t fall on the usual tropes.  If you’re into superheroes and like a goofy element to them, this is your book.

Overall Rating: B+ highly enjoyable, but a little flawed.