Monday Memories: The Winner’s Curse

Monday Memories is a weekly feature hosted by Miss Print and the Book Bandit. Monday Memories will be ending on December 29 after which this weekly feature will no longer be active.

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This week for Monday Memories I’m talking about The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski.

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about this book before Monday Memories came to a close. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this books so I was able to read it early and had ample time to harass people to read it (even interviewing Marie on the blog tour which was a thrill).

It’s no exaggeration to say that this is one of my favorite books not only of 2014 but of all time. I am usually one of those horrible people who doesn’t buy books and instead holds onto ARCs (I just don’t have that much coin to spend on books, sorry) but this one I made an exception and bought a hardcover (something I plan to do with the rest of the series).

It’s thrilling to see a series I love so much getting so much attention with best of lists and good sales and I’m beyond excited to see how it all comes together by the end of the series.

The Winner’s Curse also reminds me a lot of Megan Whalen Turner’s glorious Queen’s Thief series so this one has the bonus of filling a Eugenides shaped hole in my heart now that I’m caught up with that series.

If you want to join the fun (until Monday Memories shuts down at the end of December), just add your link below.

Week in Review: December 21

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This week on the blog you can check out:

This week I also took part in two special features as well.

You can head to Nicole’s blog where I’m talking about one of my most favorite books Fire and Hemlock and some gifts I’d give with it this holiday season.

You can also head to Sarah’s blog where I share some tips for hosting a cookie swap (and share a delicious and easy cookie recipe too!).

I’m also still giving away an arc of This Shattered World!

This week I felt a lot better which was a huge relief. (I also slept a lot better which I have no doubt was a big help!).

As I mentioned yesterday, this was an epic mail week for me. In addition to my swaps I got some new dresses, a phone charger, a couple of gifts for Nicole for her birthday and a couple of Christmas gifts for my mom. (I am so on top of gifts right now that it’s not even funny. In other words: I am a rock star.)

I also received this beauty which was a fun surprise!

I love the cover and I’ve been wanting to read a non-Throne-of-Glass book of Maas’ to see how I feel about it. (ToG I must admit was not a favorite.) Honestly, though, I am most excited about the mask. Because it’s awesome. And because mine is coincidentally made with my favorite colors. If anyone has a line on a masquerade party I can crash, let me know because I am ready now!

Also as you read this I will be getting ready to exchange Christmas gifts with Nicole! Yay!

How was your week?

2014 Swap Reveals: In which I receive many wonderful things.

This year I participated in three holiday-ish swaps so I decided to wait until now and do the big reveals all at once.

First I took part in the Giving Thanks Box Swap that I hosted with the ever-lovely Nicole. This was a direct swap so I sent gifts to the person who sent to me. Happily Yvonne liked her gifts as much as I adored mine :)

2014swap1I have wanted to read The Safe-Keeper’s Secret for years but it’s out of print and pretty hard to track down. I also got not one but THREE owl bookmarks, stationary, nail polish and a mix CD. Seriously, super thrilled.

My next two swaps came on the same day.

The first I opened was from the Secret Santa Book Exchange hosted by Meghann at Becoming Books. I already know that Julie was happy with her package (phew!) but I am not sure who sent mine along.

Whoever had me sent along a beautiful hardcover of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer which I am very excited to read.

2014swap2Which brings me to my last swap: The Broke and Bookish Secret Santa that Jamie put together. This swap was particularly fun because on the same day that I received my gifts I saw a lovely tweet from Magan from Rather Be Reading saying she had received my package and loved everything (I love when people love the gifts I give them!).

I knew who my TBTB Santa was as soon as I saw the box because this year my santa was a friend from Twitter!

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After opening the box and the card inside, I knew my suspicions were correct and Gail from Ticket to Anywhere had sent me the lovely package.

2014tbtb2Before talking about anything else I have to tell you that I couldn’t fit the stocking FILLED WITH CANDY into this picture but know that Gail sent me a ton of delicious seasonal chocolate (and Dots!). As for what’s in the photo: I’ve been hearing tons of good things about Forget Me and now have a beautiful signed copy all my own. A signed copy of The Winner’s Curse complete with companion eyeshadow (which I love!). A lovely hardcover of Loop, which according to many bloggers I trust is a must read. Hello Kitty earbuds! A Hello Kitty bookmark that even my mom liked (she got to watch me opening this package and was stymied that I had to stop to photograph everything before opening it). Nail polish! An owl ornament! A novelty deck of cards from UnRequired Reading (I collect decks of cards.)!

Needless to say, I am feeling very lucky after receiving these beautiful gifts. Thank you again, so much, to my three gift senders!

Now That You’re Here: A Review

“A boy shows up at my door and sets off a series of events that shatters everything I understand about the universe.

“And my place in it.”

nowthatyourehereDanny has spent his entire life pushing back against the totalitarian restrictions his government has put in place to monitor citizens in the name of law and order. Sometimes that means putting up coded messages in graffiti on city walls. Danny knows that this kind of tagging is dangerous, but he’s also positive that this will be the last time.

Then everything blows up.

When Danny wakes up he is still himself. But not quite. Longer hair, less muscle, and definitely not on the run. Things get even weirder when Danny realizes he recognizes the girl sitting next to him.

Eevee is calm, collected, and knows exactly what she has to do to get the best grades to get into the best college and then get the best job. She doesn’t know anything about Danny or why he seems to think he knows her as anything more than a classmate. She also doesn’t know why this new version of Danny is making her question everything she thought she knew about her life.

Thrown together by the most unlikely of circumstances, Danny and Eevee will have to work together to get Danny back home to his own universe before time runs out in Now that You’re Here (2014) by Amy K. Nichols.

Now That You’re Here is Nichol’s first novel. It is also the first Duplexity book. The second novel, While You Were Gone, will be a mirror image of Now That You’re Here. It is slated for a 2015 release.

Told in alternating chapters by Eevee and Danny, Now That You’re Here is an interesting addition to the sub-genre of alternate universe stories. With action, romance and lots of science, this story is a great introduction to the world of YA science fiction as well as a dramatic story for anyone looking for their next impossible romance.

Nichols populates the story with quirky characters including Eevee’s parents and her best friend Warren. While Nichols makes several nods to diversity with a disabled parent (not seen in this novel but perhaps they will feature more largely in book two) as well as parents who were never marries. Both points were unbelievably welcome and refreshing. Unfortunately an entirely different character is revealed to have no lower legs with no references made to any concessions needed for such a disability (to the point that no one knew this character was disabled and they didn’t even use a cane) which lowered the entire effort to lip service more than actual mindful inclusion.

It’s difficult to judge Now That You’re Here on its own knowing that it is the first part of a duet. Ideally, many of the flaws in this novel will be smoothed over in the second volume. It seems likely that these stories are more a case of one book in two packages rather than two distinct stories. Nonetheless, readers only have one half of the story here which leaves many plot points to develop off page as Danny catches glimpses of his home universe and later explains what is happening to readers.

The development of Eevee and Danny’s relationship is similarly jarring as it lacks a basic foundation and instead escalates to all-out love very quickly. This abrupt shift in both characters’ feelings also makes for some very murky character motivation as the story progresses.

Set in present-day Arizona, Now That You’re Here offers tantalizing hints of an alternate history and what it’s like for Danny to live in his own universe. The dual-narrative structure also offers readers a very faceted view of the story that will likely expand even more when the companion novel is punished. This book is an obvious choice for readers looking for a sweet romance with a lot of action in any genre.

Possible Pairings: Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, A Crack in the Line by Michael Lawrence, Hourglass by Myra McEntire, Parallel by Lauren Miller, Fair Coin by E. C. Myers, The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski,  Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone, All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill, Pivot Point by Kasie West

Dynamic Duos Display (Library Life)

For my December display I decided to be a little more vague with theme so that it could stay up as long as I needed it to. I knew a winter-y display wasn’t going to work with the collection because we don’t have enough winter books that actually stay on the shelves so I decided to go in a completely different direction.

IMG_1755As you can see this display is all about dynamic duos in books (friends or romantic) and was once again made with PicMonkey.

The hardest part here was decided which books to use in the display but I knew I wanted a mix of boys and girls as well as romantic and platonic duos. I also knew that I wanted to be diverse in my selections (you can’t quite tell from the covers but both of the books on the right side have PoC narrators).

After thinking about the books I love I narrowed it down to:

IMG_1756Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (my biggest challenge with this one was trying to not include the character names in the graphic since my trivia element asks people to identify the duo)

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (this is actually the book that inspired the entire idea for the display)

IMG_1757Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel

Proxy by Alex London

Here’s a close up of the trivia graphic:

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I couldn’t be happier with this display. It’s exactly what I envisioned and I think it’s a lot of fun and a nice combination of somewhat well-known titles and lesser known ones. I also have a lot of freedom with the books I choose to display with it. Best of all, if I decided to recycle the idea later on, I can pick new books and it will be a totally fresh display.

I also decided to have a little fun this month and tweet the authors to let them know that their books were featured in a display which seemed to amuse all of them. It’s always nice to remind people (author’s or not) that their work is being appreciated.

The Vanishing Season: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“This is my work. This is the one thing I have to do.

“I am looking for the things that are buried.”

The Vanishing SeasonMaggie Larsen doesn’t know what to expect when she and her parents move from Chicago to Door County. But then, it’s not like there is another choice with her mother having been laid off and money being tight.

Although Maggie is sorry to leave Chicago behind, it is surprisingly easy to find a new place for herself in the small town of Gill Creek. As the days turn into weeks their ramshackle house on Water Street starts to look like a home. As the weeks turn into months, Maggie realizes she has found friends here in carefree, beautiful Pauline and Liam who is as kind as he is introspective.

While Maggie lives her new life, girls in Gill Creek are disappearing. No one knows who the killer is. No one knows who might be next. No one knows if it will stop.

All the while, a ghost is tethered to the house on Water Street. She can see the danger circling. She can even see some of the pieces of the story–a scorched key, a love letter, a bracelet with a cherry charm. But even the ghost isn’t sure why she is still here watching the season unfold to its final, disastrous conclusion in The Vanishing Season (2014) by Jodi Lynn Anderson.

The Vanishing Season is a quiet, aching read that builds slowly to a conclusion that is both shocking and inevitable. Anderson expertly weaves together Maggie’s story with the first-person narration of the ghost to create a haunting puzzle of a story. Even readers who think they have predicted every plot point may well be surprised by the way everything fits together by the end.

This story has romance and suspense. There is a foolish girl who breaks things sometimes by accident and sometimes because she can. Vignettes of small town life are interspersed with thoughtful commentary on privilege and ownership.

Anderson’s pacing is spot-on as the story builds to the denouement which is handled both eloquently and cleverly. The Vanishing Season is a beautifully written and subtle story about friendship and love and even heartbreak as well as a meditation on what living a life, and living it well, really means. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Frost by Marianna Baer, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, Falling Through Darkness by Carolyn MacCullough, Fracture by Megan Miranda, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

14 for 2014

Here’s my list of favorite books from 2014.

(I’m limiting myself here to books that I’ve reviewed on the blog this year. For more favorites, check out this year’s End of Year Survey.)

Top Ten:

 

The Winner's Curse by Marie RutkoskiIn the Age of Love and Chocolate by Gabrielle ZevinTo All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny HanAll Our Yesterdays by Cristin TerrillAnd We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

  1. The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
  2. In the Age of Love and Chocolate by Gabrielle Zevin
  3. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  4. All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
  5. And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
  6. The Unbound by Victoria Schwab
  7. The Strange Maid by Tessa Gratton
  8. The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
  9. Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White
  10. The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson

The UnboundThe Strange Maid by Tessa GrattonThe Screaming Staircase by Jonathan StroudIllusions of Fate by Kiersten WhiteThe Vanishing Season

Honorable Mentions:

Bad Luck Girl by Sarah ZettelBlue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie StiefvaterMortal Heart by Robin LaFeversThis Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

  1. Bad Luck Girl by Sarah Zettel
  2. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
  3. Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
  4. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Shout out to Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld and Clariel by Garth Nix which were both very close to making the final cut! (And to Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo–I don’t think I’m getting my review of it written by the end of 2014 so watch for it on my 2015 list!)

This list is also a Pinterest board.