The NKOTB Book Tag

Last month Andi from Andi’s ABCs and Gail from Ticket to Anywhere unveiled their new joint endeavor: The New Kids on the Block book tag (as inspired by the Taylor Swift book tag).

When Gail tagged me in her post I was a little worried about participating since I (gasp) do not know any NKOTB songs. Luckily, the banners Andi and Gail put together (which I am borrowing here) had prompts.

So without further ado here are my responses:

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth WeinEven now I’m still blown away by some of this book’s twists and turns!

I swear I’m not just excited about this one because of the cover!

Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura BuzoThere are lot of covers I like but this one appeals in its simplicity.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly BlackHazel is a total badass!

In the Afterlight by Alexandra BrackenI am rarely shocked by books but this one really threw me for a loop.

The Madness Underneath by Maureen JohnsonThis is the only valid answer.

The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus SedgwickIf you read it, you’ll understand.

This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan SpoonerSo much love I haven’t even figured out how to write my review.

The Vanishing SeasonSo much love for this quiet little book.

Clariel by Garth NixI was very tired after staying up late to finish this one.

Compulsion by Martina BooneI’m reading this one as I write this post and it is feeling very cinematic.

The Winner's Crime by Marie RutkoskiLike there was any other answer to this one!

Seraphina coverShadow Scale by Rachel HartmanWhile I loved reading this duo I am sad there will be no more adventures for my favorite half-dragon musician.

  • Nicole from the Book Bandit’s Blog
  • Veronica from the Talking Blogging Bookworm
  • Andi from Just a Broke Bookworm
  • Kayla from The Thousand Lives

This Shattered World: A Review

This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan SpoonerJubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac never should have met–not when they stand on opposite sides of the decades long war on Avon.

Terraforming corporations promised to make Avon livable for the countless colonists who paid for land on the fledgling planet. But that was years ago and the planet is still no closer to being more than a murky swamp.

Captain Lee Chase is part of the military force sent to Avon to tamp down rebellious colonists. No one has ever lasted on the inhospitable planet as long as Lee–no one has even tried.

Flynn has been part of the rebellion since before he can remember–before he had a choice in the matter.

After a mission to infiltrate the military base goes horribly awry, Flynn holds Lee’s life literally in his hands.

Lee is as drawn to Flynn as she is repulsed by everything he stands for. But she also knows the stalemate of the rebellion can only last so long before something has to give.

When Flynn makes a shocking choice to help Lee escape, both soldier and rebel find themselves drawn into a web of secrets and lies surrounding Avon’s origins–not to mention in the center of a conflict that could destroy everything they hold dear in This Shattered World (2014) by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner.

This Shattered World is the second book in Kaufman and Spooner’s Starbound trilogy which begins with These Broken Stars. Although this book is chronologically a sequel it functions largely as a companion novel and stands on its own without having read book one.

Once again Kaufman and Spooner deliver a story with chapters that alternate between our two narrators while also offering a little something extra in the between chapter transitions.

This Shattered World is a thrilling story filled with action and suspense as Flynn and Jubilee work together to unravel the conspiracy surrounding Avon. Readers are able to see the war from both sides as they get to know Flynn and the other members of the rebellion–a movement with strong ties to the Irish folklore of their ancestors–and the military as seen by Jubilee.

Jubilee is a tough heroine who refuses to take any nonsense from anyone. Although headstrong she is also compassionate, particularly as she learns more about the nuances of the rebellion on Avon. Like Flynn, Jubilee also has strong ties to her past–on her side in the form of a Chinese mother and black father.

Flynn is definitely the softer of the two as he struggles to find a way to end the war without violence. He is also a charming and often cocky character who is keen to be defined by more than his past.

Together Flynn and Jubilee are an unlikely pair who somehow make perfect sense together. Like the best literary relationships, Flynn and Jubilee complement each other and prove that they are stronger together. That isn’t to say This Shattered World doesn’t have it’s fair share of arguing and banter, it does.

While This Shattered World is the second book in a trilogy, it does have a very contained storyline and offers some degree of closure for all of the characters by the final page. Kaufman and Spooner deliver another sleek sci-fi story in This Shattered World which promises to build to an explosive conclusion to the Starbound trilogy in book three.

Possible Pairings: Avalon by Mindee Arnett, The Shadows by Megan Chance, The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne, Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch, Alienated by Melissa Landers, Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund, A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix, Across the Universe by Beth Revis, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick, A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan, Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson

*An advance copy of this book was acquired for review consideration from the publisher at a preview event*

These Broken Stars: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan SpoonerTarver Merendsen would be quite happy to be anywhere but on board the Icarus. Being on the luxury spaceliner is certainly easy with finely appointed public areas and beautiful people everywhere. But it is also claustrophobic with cameras and gossips everywhere eager for a sighting of the famously young and heroic Major Merendsen. If Tarver had known his actions on Avon would lead to this kind of attention he might have made very different decisions while dealing with the rebels on the terraformed planet.

As the daughter of the richest man in the universe, Lilac LaRoux knows all about terraforming new planets and the unrest that sometimes come with colonization. She knows more about space travel and technology than is seemly for a girl of her station. She also knows that it would be very, very unwise to have anything to do with an upstart military man like Tarver. So Lilac does what she always does and pushes him away.

Unfortunately that doesn’t matter much when the Icarus is pulled out of hyperspace and crashes.

Suddenly Lilac and Tarver are thrown together on a seemingly abandoned planet.

With no one but each other, this unlikely pair builds a grudging respect and even friendship. As their relationship turns into something more than either could have imagined, Lilac and Tarver’s dreams of a life together are derailed by the strange mysteries on the planet and the impending threat of rescue in These Broken Stars (2013) by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner.

These Broken Stars is the first book in Kaufman and Spooner’s Starbound trilogy (which functions as a set of companion books each featuring different narrators). The second book is This Shattered World.

This book is written in alternating first person narrations as Tarver and Lilac tell their story.

The dual narration structure is used to excellent effect here to highlight Tarver and Lilac’s changing opinions of each other as well as to examine key plot points from multiple views. Although Tarver and Lilac’s voices are not always as distinct as they should be, the narrative is done so well that it is a minor problem at best.

The bond between the characters builds organically to create a romance with an extremely solid foundation based on mutual respect as well as affection. Unfortunately despite these stellar protagonists and a strong plot, the latter part of the novel does drag in places. Ultimately, however, the story does build to a stunning conclusion that will leave readers eager to see more of the world Kaufman and Spooner have created.

These Broken Stars is an atmospheric sci-fi story with hints of mystery and romance. Tarver and Lilac are both self-aware characters with as much agency as spunk. Lilac, a tech-smart girl, is a particularly satisfying character to watch as she comes into her own after the crash of the Icarus. An excellent and action-packed novel for science fiction fans.

Possible Pairings: Avalon by Mindee Arnett, The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne, Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch, That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E. K. Johnston, Alienated by Melissa Landers, For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund, A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix, Across the Universe by Beth Revis, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick, A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan

*A copy of this book was acquired for review consideration from the publisher at BEA 2013*

In the Shadow of Blackbirds: A Review

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat WintersIt is 1918 and it feels like the entire world is falling apart. Boys are dying overseas fighting in World War I while the Spanish Influenza is cuts a swath across America leaving countless dead, and still more ruined, in its wake.

When sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black is forced from her home in Portland, Oregon, she travels south to live with her aunt in San Diego. The flu is just as bad in California, if not worse. A quarantine is in effect. Face masks are mandatory at all times in public.

In the midst of this chaos and fear, Mary Shelley watches with dismay and skepticism as mourners seek comfort in seances and spirit photographs.

When a dear friend appears in a photograph of her and begins to ask her for help, Mary Shelley will have to put aside her doubts to solve a mystery that will bring her to the brink in In the Shadow of Blackbirds (2013) by Cat Winters.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds is Winters’ first novel. It was also a finalist for the Morris Award in 2014.

Winters delivers a well-researched and atmospheric story of desperation and loss in this historical mystery with supernatural elements. Period photographs and carefully chosen true-to-life details bring this story and the horrors Americans faced in 1918 to life.

While ghosts feature heavily in the story, In the Shadow of Blackbirds remains firmly grounded in reality as Mary Shelley works to out a spirit photographer as a fraud while trying to unravel the final days of her dear friend after his death.

Mary Shelley is an exceptional heroine with a strong interest in science and technology as well as a complete lack of fear when it comes to saying (or doing) what is right. Although this story includes romantic elements in its back story and denouement, Mary Shelley remains the capable center of this novel as she works largely on her own to unearth the truth.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds is an impressive historical novel. It is also a sensational mystery with enough twists to keep even the most seasoned mystery reader guessing. Recommended for fans of both genres.

Possible Pairings: The Diviners by Libba Bray, Born of Illusion by Teri Brown, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier, Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick, Nothing But Sky by Amy Trueblood, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Week in Review: February 22

missprintweekreview

This week on the blog you can check out:

Still recovering from Horrible Sickness of Death but getting better every day.

I had a very quiet weekend. All I did on Saturday was make dinner and Sunday has been going much the same. I am back on track with reading and just trying to remember to take things one day at a time.

How was your week?

Out of the Easy: A Review

“My mother’s a prostitute. Not the filthy, streetwalking kind. She’s actually quite pretty, fairly well spoken, and has lovely clothes. But she sleeps with men for money or gifts, and according to the dictionary, that makes her a prostitute.”

Out of the Easy by Ruta SepetysJosie Moraine’s mother has been working as a prostitute for the past ten years, since she and Josie moved to New Orleans in 1940.

It’s 1950 now. Josie is seventeen. And she wants nothing more than to get out of New Orleans once and for all. While her mother is content to tie herself to whichever man comes along, Josie works cleaning the brothel where her mother works and at a bookstore as she works to save enough money for college and her ticket out of the Big Easy.

Josie’s careful escape plan is put into jeopardy when she becomes tangled in the investigation of a mysterious death in the Quarter. Torn between her allegiance to Willie Woodley, the madame who has been more of a mother to Josie than her own, and her fierce desire to leave New Orleans behind, Josie will have to decide how much she is willing to sacrifice in her search for the truth in Out of the Easy (2013) by Ruta Sepetys.

Find it on Bookshop.

Out of the Easy is Sepetys’ second novel and her follow-up to Between Shades of Gray.

Josie is a determined heroine but she also has a very reductive view of the world–particularly given her background. While Josie, her family, and many of her friends operate in what can only be called grey areas of the law–Josie’s views remain very black and white. She is friends with Willie and some of the girls who work at the brothel. But she also views them at a remove. As the opening of the novel (quoted above) might suggest, there is also always a slight hint of distaste.

While this story is an evocative historical novel, the lush setting often serves to emphasize a lackluster plot. A lot of things happen to Josie in the story but despite being self-sufficient in a financial sense, Josie is very short on actual agency. Throughout the novel Josie’s fate falls into the hands of others. Eventually she does break free and choose her own path, but it comes very late in the story only after her inaction has dramatic consequences. Yet everything still manages to resolve very neatly and decidedly in Josie’s favor.

Sepetys once again delivers a well-researched historical novel in Out of the Easy. This novel brings the world of 1950 New Orleans to vivid life with a setting that is as vibrant and evocative as any of the characters found within these pages. Out of the Easy is an engrossing historical novel ideal for readers who want to get lost in a book’s vividly described settings.

Possible Pairings: Strings Attached by Judy Blundell, Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher, The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman, Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross, Bowery Girl by Kim Taylor, In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

Vampire Academy: A Review

Vampire Academy by Richelle MeadRose Hathaway and her best friend Lissa Dragomir have been on the run for two years. After so long away from St. Vladimir’s Academy, the girls thought they were finally free. They were wrong.

Dragged back the Academy, Lissa is once again drawn into plots and machinations as Moroi vampire princess. Rose’s return is less welcome and comes with several firm conditions including extra lessons from an equally attractive and infuriating instructor. Worse, no matter how much Rose uses her dhampir strength and her bond with Lissa, it might not be enough to keep the other girl safe.

With danger circling from every side, Rose and Lissa can only trust each other in Vampire Academy (2007) by Richelle Mead.

Find it on Bookshop.

Vampire Academy is the first book in Mead’s Vampire Academy series.

Vampire Academy is a breath of fresh air in the world of paranormal (romance). Mead has created clever, capable heroines in both Rose and Lissa. The premise here is also interesting with different castes/types of vampires as well as loads of intrigue and action.

Although Mead throws lots of world-specific vocabulary at readers early on, the story moves as fast clip without falling into the usual paranormal fantasy tropes. The story here is interesting and will definitely have appeal for readers looking for a campy paranormal–romance or otherwise as this does include some romance elements in addition to other plots.

Possible Pairings: Compulsion by Martina Boone, Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger,  Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins, Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan, Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shephard, The Dolls by Kiki Sullivan, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

17 and Gone: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“The snow came down and the bristly trees shuddered in the wind, sharing secrets, and no one stopped to listen. Until I did.”

17 and Gone by Nova Ren SumaWhen seventeen-year-old Lauren first sees the Missing flyer for Abigail Sinclair, she knows it was left for her. Against all odds, Lauren is certain that she was meant to find this poster, to find out Abigail’s story, maybe even to find her.

As Lauren digs into Abigail’s disappearance she finds out that the missing girl preferred to be called Abby. She hated the summer camp where she was working. And she definitely didn’t just run away.

The problem is no one else seems to care. The more Lauren investigates, the more missing girls she finds. All of them seventeen. All of them gone without a trace. Abby went missing in the summer. But it’s winter now. Any girl could be next. Maybe even Lauren herself.

While trying to find Abby, Lauren will have to face secrets from her past and confront several uncomfortable truths in 17 & Gone (2014) by Nova Ren Suma.

17 & Gone is a chilling blend of suspense and what may or may not be ghosts. As Lauren grapples with the missing girls that are haunting her she also comes to realize that her mind may not be as reliable as she thought. Suma deftly unravels the stories of the missing girls and also examines Lauren’s mental state from a variety of angles.

Eloquent prose and a gripping story come together here in a story that is as literary as it is unexpected. Recommended for readers who like their mysteries to be open-ended and their heroines to be clever and determined.

Possible Pairings: Find Me by Romily Bernard, All Fall Down by Ally Carter, The Night She Disappeared by April Henry, Damaged by Amy Reed, Missing Abby by Lee Weatherly, Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten, Cathy’s Book: If Found Call 650-266-8233 by Jordan Weisman and Sean Stewart

Red Queen: A Review

Red Queen by Victoria AveyardLife as a Red in Norta is not easy. Reds are normal in every way–forced into poverty and manual labor while Silvers, the silver-blooded elite with nearly inconceivable abilities, rule the land. Mare Barrow doesn’t like anything about the Silvers but she understands that they are unstoppable; impossible to fight.

But Mare is also almost eighteen and with no job prospects beyond petty theft in her future, she knows that she will be drafted into the military soon to fight in the decades long war against the Lakelanders. The same thing happened to all of her brothers before her.

Mare is resigned to her fate until one false step reveals that Mare, like the Silvers, has a shocking ability never before seen in a Red. Suddenly Mare is drawn into the middle of Norta’s class warfare disguised as a long-lost Silver princess. While rebellion brews and the Silver king tries to keep the unhappy masses in check, Mare will have to balance the dazzling luxury of the Silver world with everything she holds dear and everything she is willing to sacrifice for freedom for herself and her people in Red Queen (2015) by Victoria Aveyard.

Red Queen is Aveyard’s debut novel. It is also the first book in her Red Queen trilogy.

Red Queen is being marketed as Graceling meets The Selection which in many ways is very true as this book includes special abilities and romance at court. It is, however, much darker in tone than The Selection with a much stronger focus on rebellion and revolution. For that reason The Hunger Games is a comparison that makes a bit more sense.

Obviously, Red Queen has quite a few similarities to other fantasy titles. It also, however, has a very unique world as conceived by Aveyard. The dichotomy between Reds and Silvers is explained well and takes the story in interesting directions as Mare walks the line between Red and Silver throughout the story. Unfortunately the division between Reds and Silvers remains very one dimensional for most of the novel as Silvers are generally seen as ruthless and calculating while Reds are oppressed and exploited. Both are true but it felt heavy-handed to say that every Silver would follow these same ideals and ways of thinking despite class divisions among the elite.

Mare is a frank narrator but she is also often reckless to the point of harming herself and those she cares about. Her motivations throughout the story–when she chooses to join the Red rebellion or during her rather fuzzy love triangle–are murky at best. Readers learn early on why Mare wants to fight the Silvers, why she is drawn to the person who holds her affections, but it never feels quite sincere enough or believable enough to justify the risks Mare takes.

The pacing in Red Queen is not perfect either. Scenes of lavish court balls and machinations alternate with high action fights or training sequences that make the middle part of the novel choppy. The narrative loses all sense of urgency as Mare moves between learning basics of Silver protocol and planning acts of rebellion in an often aimless manner.

Red Queen is a strong debut both for Aveyard and for this trilogy. While not ideal for readers who like their fantasies to have a lot of nuance, Red Queen is ideal for anyone seeking the next big action-packed series that is sure to have everyone talking.

Possible Pairings: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken, Frostblood by Elly Blake, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, The Selection by Kiera Cass, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Everless by Sara Holland, Winterspell by Claire Legrand, Legend by Marie Lu, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien, Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi, Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury, Amber & Dusk by Lyra Selene, The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace, Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf

Week in Review: February 15

missprintweekreview

This week on the blog you can check out:

Before we enter the pity party portion of this post, let me talk about a blog related thing: After sticking with them for a few months, I think I’m going to discontinue my Re-Prints feature. Initially I was really excited about it but the reality of executing the posts has become difficult and tedious. I’m also not noticing a particularly big return on views/comments to justify the time spent. SO if you are a lurker and love that feature, speak now because otherwise it’s gone.

This is my second week being sick with a killer cold that has involved chills, coughing, sneezing, sore throat, aches, clogged ears and a nasty looking . . . something in my throat not to mention irritated eyes. Almost all of that is passing and more would if I could get a full night of sleep without coughing.

I just completely crashed. I have done almost nothing for two weeks that did not involve dragging myself out of bed or, when I was a little better, dragging myself to work. I’ve barely read. I have been sleeping on my commute to try and get some energy. I lost all taste for food. It’s been awful.

I tend to be a caregiver by nature so I really hated being brought so low by a cold. It also really stressed me out as I wondered if I had meningitis or pneumonia or strep throat or pink eye or dozens of other things. I’m definitely on the mend now (without aid of antibiotics) which leads me to think it was just a cold from hell. But gosh it was awful.

The past couple of times I’ve been sick were definitely from my immune system adjusting to working with the public. This time I think it was me working too hard. The past two weeks have been a very painful lesson that I need to take better care of myself and treat myself better in general.

(As part of that I’ve been strategically buying new clothes as an embarrassing number of things I own were purchased by me or for me in college or before–we’re talking eleven-year-old shirts. It’s absurd how much more comfortable the new clothes are and shocking that I didn’t think to replace some of these things before. I appall myself.)

How was your week?