Perfect Scoundrels: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Perfect Scoundrels by Ally CarterTwo years ago–before Katarina Bishop put together her own heist society and robbed the most secure museum in the world–Kat tried to steal a Monet. Except it was a fake. And instead of a painting she wound up stealing a boy who happily threw himself into Kat’s world.

Stolen or not, W. W. Hale the Fifth isn’t a part of Kat’s world. Not really.

When Hale unexpectedly inherits his grandmother’s billion dollar company, Kat realizes it was, perhaps, inevitable that Hale would eventually return to his own world of wealth and privilege–the one place Kat can’t follow.

Things get worse when Kat learns Hale might be a mark in an elaborate con instead of an unlikely heir.

Saving Hale and his company could be impossible. But Kat’s been told a lot of things are impossible in her short life. And her family is behind her all the way. The only problem is saving Hale Industries may not be the same thing as saving her Hale. And if Kat has to choose, she isn’t sure there is a right answer in Perfect Scoundrels (2013) by Ally Carter.

Find it on Bookshop.

Perfect Scoundrels is the third book in Carter’s Heist Society series. It is preceded by Heist Society and Uncommon Criminals. (There is also an e-novella featuring characters from this series and Carter’s Gallagher Girls series called Double Crossed which is available online.) Set mere months after Kat’s most infamous heist, Perfect Scoundrels takes a small step back from all of the scheming and planning to provide a welcome look at the characters who readers know and love from this series.

Fear not, there are still quite a few heists, cons, and surprises to be found in this installment. The job might be personal but Kat still has plenty of tricks up her sleeve that will surprise her crew as well as readers in a reveal that makes pulling off the perfect job seem effortless as Perfect Scoundrels ticks away to an ending that readers might not see coming. Kat’s singular family also features prominently in the second half of the story when the pace really picks up after a more character-driven start.

Carter’s enviably sleek writing and careful focus on characters and their relationships (particularly Kat and Hale’s evolving one) make Perfect Scoundrels a page-turner with as many laughs as surprises. And it has Bagshaws, of course. Because as Kat’s cousin Gabrielle will tell you, everything is better with Bagshaws.

Possible Pairings: The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, White Cat by Holly Black, What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell, Museum: Behind the Scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Danny Danziger, The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece by Edward Dolnick, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg, The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau by E. Lockhart, Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough, Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, Confessions of a Master Jewel Thief by Bill Mason and Lee Gruenfeld, Pretending to Be Erica by Michelle Painchaud, In the Hall With the Knife by Diana Peterfreund, Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt, The Deceivers by Kristen Simmons, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, Leverage (television series), White Collar (television series), The Italian Job (movie)

Linktastic!: Oscars Edition

Some fun links from my Twitter feed and some stuff about the Oscars and other things.

  • “Paperman” won the Oscar for Best Short Film this weekend. The short played before Wreck-It Ralph and the win was very well-deserved. What was less deserved? “Paperman” producer Kristina Reed was thrown out of the Oscars for being charming and clever and tossing paper airplanes with lipstick on them (as seen in the film!) over the balcony. She was let back in eventually, but talk about being killjoys. MTV Geek! has the full story by Eddie Wright. You can also watch the adorable short in its entirety while you’re there. (via @bkshelvesofdoom on Twitter)
  • I haven’t seen Life of Pi or read the book it’s based one. BUT I did see the trailers and I know there were a lot of visual effects at work in that film (kind of a given with a tiger on a boat, right?). And it’s really lovely that Rhythm + Hues won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects for that movie. Except that before the company got to mention the sad turn of events leading to its bankruptcy their acceptance speech was cut short. By the Jaws theme. And no one really seemed to be acknowledging the work that these brilliant people did to help make what is a visually impressive film. Phillip Broste has “An Open Letter to Ang Lee” posted on VFX Soldier that explains the situation more eloquently. (via @Jodyth on Twitter)
  • I’m not even comfortable getting into the details here because it’s so disgusting, but I was appalled by some of the things I’ve been seeing about nine-year-old Best Actress nominee Quvenzhané Wallis. I haven’t seen Beasts of the Southern Wild and I don’t know a lot about it but I think Ms. Wallis is absolutely adorable and I want to hug her and compare dog bags with her and tell her how great it is that she is so confident and self-assured. The Onion’s twitter account (no link because they don’t deserve the publicity) apparently thought differently. So did Seth MacFarlane while HOSTING the ceremony where Wallis was ONE OF THE NOMINEES. Wallis is nine-years-old. This treatment isn’t okay at any age but it seems especially horrible for a child. N. K. Jemisin explains the situation and why it’s so appalling on her blog. (via @veschwab and @bethrevis on Twtter)
  • Which brings me to my thoughts on the Oscars. Keeping in mind I only saw an hour of the ceremonies, I was horrified by the “jokes” MacFarlane delivered throughout the show. Putting aside the casual sexism, when did it become okay to be “funny” by making hurtful, demeaning remarks about others? The LA Times has a full list of coverage of the Oscars and everything that they did wrong.
  • That led me to a Buzzfeed post by Hillary Reinsberg about 9 Sexist Things that happened at the Oscars. When you get a chance, watch the first video. It doesn’t matter if you listen to the tasteless lyrics. I want you to watch the actresses they show during the song and the way their faces fall every time MacFarlane continues. Oscar Night is a BIG deal and instead of being a part of it these actresses were singled out, ridiculed and demeaned. That is not okay. And I think we all know it would not have happened to male actors. Here are two gifs of Naomi Watts and Charlize Theron to show you just what I mean:
  • Also, that song? The one everyone wishes they could forget? Four of the actresses named were playing characters who were raped. Nice one. (via @studentactivism on Twitter)
  • Don’t worry, I’ll end on an up note.  How awesome is Jennifer Lawrence!? I really liked Lawrence’s dress and I felt so bad when she tripped but I so love that she just got back up and kept going never once losing her poise. That’s classy. I also love Hugh Jackman and Bradley Cooper even more for rushing to help Lawrence even though she totally didn’t need it.
  • I’m very biased but I really enjoyed Silver Linings Playbook and I was sorry that it didn’t win Best Picture and that Bradley Cooper lost out on Best Actor. BUT I will say this: Ben Affleck knows how to give an acceptance speech. I especially liked this part (via @elizeulberg on Twitter):

    “It doesn’t matter how you get knocked down in life because that’s going to happen, all that matters is that you gotta get up.” -Ben Affleck

So, that’s largely what I thought of the Oscars. What did you think?

Paper Valentine: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Paper Valentine by Brenna YovanoffLudlow is in the midst of a heatwave that refuses to break. The thermometer is staying in the hundreds. Birds are dying. And Ludlow seems to be at a breaking point.

Hanna Wagner might be at a similar breaking point. Really, Hannah wants nothing more than to keep pretending she is the shiny, happy girl she used to be. She wants to go back to living the shiny, happy life everyone remembers her having.

But it’s hard to pretend to be perfect and untouchable when her best friend, Lillian, died six months ago and has been haunting her ever since. It’s even harder when all Hannah really wants to do is think about Finny Boone and his expansive shoulders and sudden but surprising moments of kindness.

All of that pretending to be normal becomes nearly impossible when a girl is found murdered and Lillian’s ghost insists that Hannah should find out more about the dead girl and the investigation.

Soon Hannah realizes that she and Lillian may know more about the so-called Valentine Killer than either girl realized. Drawn into complicated dealings with ghosts, killers, and the enigmatic Finny Boone, Hannah begins to understand that nothing about dying–or living–is as straightforward as she once thought in Paper Valentine (2013) by Brenna Yovanoff.

Equal parts mystery and ghost story, Paper Valentine is a gripping, unexpected read. Yovanoff expertly weaves the suspense and tension of a mystery into Hannah’s subtler story of grieving (and being haunted) and a summer that has the potential to change everything even before the murder.

Hannah is a vivid, lovable heroine. She is handy, artsy, fashionable, has a healthy home life and is generally fantastic. A proverbial lady-in-waiting without her queen, Hannah is adrift in a world she may not even like anymore. This novel is as much a story of her growth throughout the summer as it is a mystery or a ghost story.Populated with a vibrant ensemble cast and evocative settings, Paper Valentine is an excellent story of enduring friendship and suspense (and it has a beautiful cover to boot–this one is definitely the full package.)

Possible Pairings: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, Shift by Jennifer Bradbury, The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd, How to Love by Katie Cotugno, The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, The Weight of Feathers by Anne-Marie McLemore, I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest, Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter, Damaged by Amy Reed, Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith, The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud, Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma, Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein, The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams, In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

One (Hundred Thousand) is the Loveliest Number: A Celebratory Giveaway![CLOSED]

This week was a big one for the blog.

On February 15, 2013 the blog hit 100,000 total views.

I spent most of the day watching my stats page and refreshing like a maniac.

Then, just to be coy, the blog stayed at 99,999 for a long time.

This was the total for a very, very long time.
This was the total for a very, very long time.

Then, possibly as the blog hit 100k, my stats page died.

But lo! When I returned it was to find the magic number had been achieved!

100005 views
After waiting for weeks, the moment finally came!

In one sense, hitting 100,000 views is a meaningless number and it won’t change much for me as a blogger. In another sense it’s really exciting and has pleased me immensely.

So, to celebrate I’m giving away a couple of books. EACH BOOK WILL COME WITH A BOOKMARK FOR THE ARCHIVED SIGNED BY VICTORIA SCHWAB.

You can win either:

  • An ARC (advanced reader copy) of Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
  • An ARC (advanced reader copy) of Prodigy by Marie Lu

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. MaasOR Prodigy by Marie Lu

The giveaway will run until February 28, 2013 so you have all month to enter! (US only–sorry guys but postage is steep.)

TO ENTER: Leave a comment below (with a valid email in the email form field) telling me something awesome that happened to you this week. If you have a book preference, also mention that in your comment.

You have until February 28 to enter. Winners will be notified March 1. If I don’t hear from winners by March 3, I will pick new winners.

There are no extra entries for this giveaway, but if you wanted to help me celebrate with some tweets or posts about this giveaway that would be rad!

We have a (Cybils) winner

My work as a judge for the 2012 Cybils is over. With my fellow round two judges I helped pick the winner for this year’s Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy category.

cybils2012

The winners were announce earlier on the Cybils site so now I can share with you that our winner this year is . . .

*drumroll*

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman.

Here’s what we had to say about Seraphina:

Seraphina is a genre-blending fantasy that dazzled us all. Dragons, a murder mystery, family secrets, and a love story — there is something here for everyone, even those who aren’t regular high fantasy readers. We were hooked by the mystery and intrigue of dragons and conspiracies as well as the fascinating and intricate world building. Seraphina is a complex and appealing heroine. She’s fiery and vulnerable and gifted and brave. Her love of music is a refreshing thread throughout the story as is a fairly surprising mystery. Seraphina’s transformation throughout the novel was inspiring and wonderful to follow. With beautiful writing and tight pacing, Seraphina kept us turning the pages, eager to follow the heroine and learn more about the strong ensemble cast. We’re sure readers will find a lot to love in this highly original dragon story.

I’m really happy with our selection. Seraphina was one of my favorite books from 2012 along with fellow finalists The Curiosities and Vessel (my own Cybils nomination that made it all the way to finals!). I also had a lot to say about Every Day last year (one of my Hurricane Sandy reads) and will likely later have thoughts on the other finalists should I decide to review them. It was a great year to be a SFF judge and I hope everyone is as excited with the winner as we are!

In fact, since it is Valentines Day, it might be a great time to treat yourself with a gift of this multi-award winning title or one of its fellow finalists.

You can read the rest of the Cybils winner announcements on their site: http://www.cybils.com/2013/02/the-2012-cybils-awards.html

Code Name Verity: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“It’s like being in love, discovering your best friend.”

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth WeinCode Name Verity (2012) by Elizabeth Wein (find it on Bookshop) is a strange book in that, I’m not sure what I can actually tell you about it without ruining everything. A plane has crashed in Nazi-occupied France. The passenger and the pilot are best friends. One girl might be able to save herself while the other never really stood a chance. Faced with an impossible situation, one of the girls begins to weave an intricate confession. Some of it might be embellished, some of it might even be false. But in the end all of it is ultimately the truth–both of her mission and a friendship that transcends all obstacles.

Broken into two parts, Code Name Verity is a masterfully written book as, time and time again, Wein takes everything readers know and turns it upside down as another dimension is added to the plot and its intricate narrative.

If a sign of excellent historical fiction is believing all of the details are presented as fact, then the sign of an excellent novel might well be wanting to re-read it immediately to see just how well all of the pieces fit together. Code Name Verity meets both of these criteria.

With wartime England and France as a backdrop, there is always a vague sense of foreboding and danger hanging over these characters. There is death and violence. There is action and danger. And yet there are also genuinely funny moments and instances of love and resistance.

Nothing in Code Name Verity is what it seems upon first reading–sometimes not even upon second reading. This book is undoubtedly a stunning work of historical fiction filled with atmospheric details of everything from airplanes to Scottish landscapes. But what really sets Code Name Verity apart is the dazzling writing and intricate plot that Wein presents. Then, beyond the plotting and the details, there are the two amazing young women at the center of a book that could have been about war or flying or even spies but ultimately became an exceptional book about true friends.

Possible Pairings: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson, Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie, We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett,  A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, Traitor by Amanda McCrina, Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel, Tamar by Mal Peet, The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski, All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill, Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff, In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

You can also check out my exclusive interview with Elizabeth about this book!

Chick Lit Wednesday will be back next week

I still haven’t sorted out all of my feelings for Code Name Verity and my allergies are acting up too much for me to try.

In the mean time, why not enter my giveaway?

Follower Love Giveaway Hop

Linktastic!: E-Books and Reading Edition

Linktastic! posts happen when I finally remember to go through my unsorted bookmarks in Firefox and (more often) Tweets I have favorited for future reference on Twitter.

This edition features some different articles I’ve come across about e-books and reading. (It also comes with the definitive statement that I detest reading ebooks without an ereader. I have a phone and a laptop and let me tell you getting through an ebook on a combination of those two devices was torture. Maybe it’s easier with a task-specific ereader but gosh reading books on the computer feels a lot more like work than fun.)

Follower Love Giveaway Hop[CLOSED]

Hello! I’m participating in this year’s Follower Love Giveaway Hop!

I am giving away a couple of things which means TWO winners.

OPTION 1: A SIGNED arc (advanced reader copy) of Perception by Kim Harrington and a SIGNED arc (advanced reader copy of Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

OPTION 2: A SIGNED paperback copy of Another Faust by Daniel and Dina Nayeri (only Daniel signed) and a SIGNED arc (advanced reader copy) of Ferocity Summer by Alissa Grosso.

 

ENTER HERE

(by which I mean at Rafflecopter)

Since WordPress and Rafflecopter do not play nicely click above to enter the giveaway!

Giveaway is US ONLY (sorry).

Giveaway will run from FEBRUARY 5th to FEBRUARY 11th!

Now that you’ve entered my giveaway, carry on and visit all of the other blogs for more fun giveaways!

Congrats to the winners: Brooke (Option 1) and Tracy (Option 2)

Who Done It?: A Review

Who Done It?What happens when the meanest, nastiest, smelliest editor invites all of his authors to a party at The Old Abandoned Pickle Factory? What happens when he threaten to reveal every one of their deepest, darkest secrets?

Well, the editor turns up dead is what happens.

And every author and illustrator is a suspect in his murder.

Jon Scieszka conducts the investigation as each author provides a brief alibi for the time of Herman Q. Mildew’s death in Who Done It? (2013).

In addition to being a very entertaining premise, Who Done It? benefits a great cause. This “serial act of criminal literature” benefits 826nyc–a non-profit organization that supports kids’ and teens’ creative and expository writing.

With over 80 contributors suspects, there are a whole lot of alibis to sift through here. I don’t recommend reading them all at once as they do tend to blend together. (Though averaging two pages each one is a short read.) The level of continuity between entries is also impressive as authors carry details throughout the collection.

There is a lot of fun to be had with this book whether you read it all at once or just peruse it for new and familiar authors.

My favorite entry is Patrick Carman’s, bar none. But with a variety of formats (David Levithan’s is a poem. Sarah Mlynowski and Courtney Sheinmel wrote a screenplay. And Lev Grossman’s is a riff on fantasy conventions) and a few choice illustrations, Who Done It? is guaranteed to have something for everyone.