Before there was ... City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

So, did I mention that I love fantasy?  Well now we're going to shift from my love of high fantasy to my love of urban fantasy.  In case you didn't notice, Diana Wynne Jones pops up here again.  What a surprise. It's not because I'm obsessed with her, or anything . . . 

If you haven't read City of Bones, look out for my review in the next few days! 

Before there was City of Bones 

by Cassandra Clare, there was . . . 

 I love her. I love these books. They introduced me to her, and they'll always keep a place in my heart.  Like Clare's series, Chrestomanci features an urban setting with plenty of fantasy.  In this case, wizards.  (Yes, this will pop up again when I do a Before There Was for Harry Potter.)  But not only wizards.  The characters in various otherworlds of our England deal with enchanters, beasties, gods, and all sorts of magical beings.  There's romance, adventure, and loads of dry British humor.  Which reminds me of Clary and her snark. 

So you've read Clare and you want demons, angels, religious overtones, badass female characters, romance, adventure, and lots of fun fighting?  No one does it like Pullman.  These books are on my favorites list.  Lyra is spunky without being annoying, clever without being overbearing.  She lives in an otherworld where people's souls live outside their bodies as daemons (aka adorable pet-like creatures) and hints of an old magic run on magical dust.  Only there are dark forces using these magics to their advantage.  Pair her with cute Earthling Will, and it's a wild ride that'll fill your Mortal Instruments withdrawal.  I'd be surprised if Clare wasn't inspired by these! 

While we're on the subject of snark, who doesn't love snark?  And British snark?  Which is Gaiman to a T, along with an exciting adventure through the hidden underworld of London.  It reminds me a lot of the Downworlders moving through New York; they're there, we just can't see them.  It also has a lot of humor and romance like Clare, and is just a great book in general.  Very accessible for younger teens, too.    

One of my favorite series.  Bobby Pendragon wakes up one day to find that he doesn't exist.  His parents are gone.  No one at school remembers him.  It's like he never existed at all.  The only people who know him are his best friend, Mark, his crush, Courtney, and his uncle, who reveals that Bobby is a Traveler.  These people have the power to jump worlds--and to keep these worlds safe from the chaos-bent Saint Dane.  These especially remind me of Clare.  They have a similar atmosphere, more romance than most male-centered fantasy, and very intricate otherworlds, both within Earth and without.

This is like Clare for younger readers, with more snarky British (or Irish, I should say) humor.  Artemis Fowl is a wealthy genius child determined to trap a fairy for his own use. In the process, he discovers the secret underground world of fairies and other magical beings, and becomes involved in several crazy adventures. Lots of cybertalk and modernized fairy-isms, which is pretty cool and very Clare-like.  The fairy world reminds me very much of the Downworlders.    

Click the book titles to find out more! 

What other older or obscure books 
remind you of City of Bones?

Feature & Follow: Carmen of Book Me

Q: Best Cover? What is the best cover of a book that you’ve read and didn’t like?

A:  Probably Twilight.  I actually love the covers and even the titles. I think the symbolism is great. They're simple, clean, and pretty to look at. I'm just not a huge fan of the books. Bella makes me want to get all strangly, Edward is a possessive creeper, and they're just not my thing.  I don't really go for super intense romance. 

All follows loved and appreciated!  I can't wait to meet everyone! 
I'll stop by your blog as soon as I can! 
Just keep in mind that I'm going to a Sox game today.  
So it might take me a little while.   
Go Sox!   


Excerpt: Opening pages of "Scarecrow"

In celebration of random holiday that I just created day, here's an excerpt from Scarecrow!  I know several of you have expressed interest in that one.  I hope you enjoy.  It's rough, so keep it in mind and don't throw tomatoes at me.  

Tyrin Fallows was unlucky. 
Not your average lose your keys, spill wine on your favorite white tunic unlucky either.  No, his bad luck was more of the drop your keys into the soup that is being served to the king and nearly choke him to death, spill your wine and slide headlong into a lamp knocking it over and setting your brother in law’s house on fire variety.  Fellow citizens in the town of Upper Farthing would tread twenty paces out of their way to avoid passing by him, and every major social event barred its doors as soon as his silhouette darkened the window dressings.  Even his eldest sister Maryna, who had spent most of her teenage years defending Tyrin from the abuse of the other Farthing children, politely asked him if he would mind very much not attending her wedding. 
            Even such humiliation as this would have been bearable if he had not been the son of Rigand Fallows and Erlena Malwit, two of the mostly highly respected sorcerers from two of the oldest magical lineages in the kingdom of Rewnyn.  It was bad enough setting fire to houses and narrowly avoiding accidental regicide without also having magic to worry about.  And as far as magic was concerned, Tyrin was a complete disaster.  He understood the theory well enough, but he always managed to make some mistake that would send the spell horribly awry—and turning your mathematics teacher into a piece of chalk was much less forgivable than a little unintentional arson.  His mother and father told him he was a late bloomer.  Maryna told him he would find his talent eventually.  Tharena would tell him he could always become a stable hand.  Tyrin would smile sadly, pretending to believe them, but he could see in their eyes every time he exploded a potion or liquefied the bricks of the horse barn that they thought he was a lost cause.  After all, he had just turned eighteen—how much more blooming could he be expected to do?   He had resigned himself to a life of loneliness and catastrophe—and probably accidental suicide by way of magicked shoe-laces.  Yes, Tyrin was supremely unlucky. 
            So the sight of the letter that he received on the third of July nearly killed him.  

Review: Diary by Chuck Palahniuk

TITLE: Diary: A novel
AUTHOR: Chuck Palahniuk
PAGES: 272
FORMAT: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0385509473
BUY IT: Amazon
RATING: 4/5 [in the genre] or 7/10 [all books I’ve ever read].
FOR: Art lovers. Fans of the dark and the twisted. People into magical realism.  Anyone who enjoys a well-written book with deep themes and hints of the psychological and the grotesque. Older teens or adults. 


Chuck Palahniuk, the bestselling author of Fight Club, Choke, and Lullaby continues his twenty-first-century reinvention of the horror novel in this scary and profound look at our quest for some sort of immortality.

Diary takes the form of a “coma diary” kept by one Misty Tracy Wilmot as her husband lies senseless in a hospital after a suicide attempt. Once she was an art student dreaming of creativity and freedom; now, after marrying Peter at school and being brought back to once quaint, now tourist-overrun Waytansea Island, she’s been reduced to the condition of a resort hotel maid. Peter, it turns out, has been hiding rooms in houses he’s remodeled and scrawling vile messages all over the walls—an old habit of builders but dramatically overdone in Peter’s case. Angry homeowners are suing left and right, and Misty’s dreams of artistic greatness are in ashes. But then, as if possessed by the spirit of Maura Kinkaid, a fabled Waytansea artist of the nineteenth century, Misty begins painting again, compulsively. But can her newly discovered talent be part of a larger, darker plan? Of course it can …

the basics
I didn't enjoy this as much as other books Chuck has written.  It's hard to put my finger on why.  It just didn't give me the same fizzing elation that his others have.  That said, it was still a fantastic book.  Solidly written, clever plot, interesting themes, and very intricate story line that surprised to the very end.  Misty was a very sympathetic main character.  The diary form was a clever frame for the story.  The cultish island and its inhabitants gave me the same creepy feeling as when I watched "Wicker Man" (only without the natural distaste at watching Nick Cage).  Don't make it the first Palahniuk you read, but definitely give it a look.

plot . 5/5
The set-up was fantastically clever, as Palahniuk's set-ups always are.  There's magical realism thrown into the world, so it seems like it could happen right next to you.  So it seems like something is just a little out of the ordinary, or everyone is crazed out of their minds.  It's a mystery plus a romance plus a memoir plus a treatise on life and art plus a history.  But it never feels clunky!  I was mesmerized by the plot, and kept reading well after I'd meant to stop.

concept . 5/5
As usual, only Chuck could come up with something like this.  Misty Marie keeps a diary to inform her husband of the goings-on while he's in his coma.  Only it's an involved diary, with memories of the past and grand treatises on life and her life.  Art is pervasive through the book, and kitsch, creating a fully-fledged world that supports every theme.  It's also just clever, the cult of the island and its secret goings-on...which I'll leave out, mwuahaha.

characters . 5/5
They're all broken, and they're all lovable.  Except for Tabbi and Mrs. Wilmot, whom I wanted to strangle for most of the book.  Even Peter, who's in a coma the whole time, is fully real and present.  Misty--she's great.  She has a very distinct voice that's clear in every word.  You feel the truth of the repeated claim that everything we do is a diary, because you can see her in every word.  Angel is great too, and very funny--and ultimately, unexpected.  I really cared for Misty.

style . 4/5
Something about this just left me wanting more.  Or less.  I don't know.  It just didn't have the same aha! brilliance of Haunted, Choke, Fight Club, or Survivor.  Like Rant, which I read earlier and should review, it was good but not great.  The refrains were a little too repeated.  A little too heavy-handed.  It didn't feel as natural as his other works.  Misty's voice was great, but there was less of that subtle horror.  It felt more blatant than usual.  Okay, I'm not making sense, but basically, something didn't do it for me.

mechanics . 5/5
Nothing to comment on as far as grammar and spelling.  The diary format with alternating entries and flashbacks was a great way to tell the full story of Misty and Peter.  It didn't feel cheesy.

take home message
A clever discussion of life, memory, art, and the nature of legacy from one of our time's greatest pens.

Note: I purchased this copy used. The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.


Wishlist Wednesday: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Wishlist Wednesday features books that have been on your wishlist for a long time, old or new.

melissa marr

Rule #3: Don't stare at invisible faeries.
Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in the mortal world. Aislinn fears their cruelty - especially if they learn of her Sight - and wishes she were as blind to their presence as other teens.

Rule #2: Don't speak to invisible faeries.
Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.

Rule #1: Don't ever attract their attention.
But it's too late. Keenan is the Summer King, who has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost — regardless of her plans or desires.

Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life; everything.

Faery intrigue, mortal love, and the clash of ancient rules and modern expectations swirl together in Melissa Marr's stunning twnety-first-century faery tale

c.j.'s thoughts
Everyone is all about Melissa Marr and I feel like I've missed the wagon.  Aka, I was out of the YA world for a while and now I want to read all those snazzy books I missed.  Aka, I want to read this because I love fairies and I've heard only good things.  I also love the idea of a modern day fairy tale with good elements of the originals.  Plus, Marr seems like a cool person.  So yeah.  I'm profound today.  Pretty blah blah blah.

Waiting on Wednesday: Crewel by Gennifer Albin

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a feature hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine to feature yet-to-be-released books.

Gennifer Albin
Coming October 16th, 2012
Learn More

Incapable. Awkward. Artless.

That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.

Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.

c.j.'s thoughts
I saw this last week and immediately fell in love.  Not only is the cover gorgeous, but the concept is one of the most interesting and original I've ever found in YA fantasy.  Or fantasy in general, really!  I also think it's funny that the powerful girls are called "Spinsters."  Chortle.  It also sounds like it will bring up a lot of fun issues relating to duty and free will, which are always fun.  Also, it doesn't mention a love triangle.  I'm super excited about lack of reference to a love triangle.


Musing: Problems with working in coffee shops

So, I love working in coffee shops.  Normally.  I'm there right now, in fact.  Doing pretty much nothing.  Except I made this handy graph to explain why I'm doing nothing.  

So, considering that the distraction in question is sitting about two to three feet away from me ... well, use your graph skills.  

And there's a totally random and useless bit of knowledge for you. 

Cheers. I swear, I'll have the Diary review up by tomorrow.  Or Thursday. 

Boo grad school. 

Teaser Tuesday: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

"Teaser Tuesday" is a weekly feature hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.  

cassandra clare 

"I can't help it. I use my rapier wit to hide my inner pain." 
"Your pain will be outer soon if you don't get out of traffic. Are you trying to get run over by a cab?" 
"Don't be ridiculous," he said. "We could never get a cab that easily in this neighborhood." 

i am legitimately obsessed with this series already. just sayin'. i want to marry it. or just jace. or simon. i'm not picky.  


Showcase Sunday #2

Showcase Sunday is a meme to show off all the books you've collected this week!  

[[ a picture goes here when I'm at my apartment...fail. Just pretend it's pretty and shiny. ]] 

acquired this week 

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson {paperback} 
Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James {paperback} 
Yes. I gave in. I'm so curious! I just want to see if there's anything redeeming... 

Don't forget to enter the Delirium giveaway! 


Giveaway: Delirium by Lauren Oliver paperback

welcome to the delirium giveaway!

So, after craving Delirium for months, I somehow magically ended up with two copies in a short space of time.  One was given to me by the wonderful Doodle of Doodle's Book Blog.  Then, hardly a week later, a friend said that she'd been given a book as a gift and it wasn't really her thing, so did I want it?  Um, yes.  Giveaway, anyone!?  Now this orphaned second copy of Lauren Oliver's dystopian masterpiece is yours to win!  

( click me! ) 

This giveaway will run until Sunday, September 2nd. 

This giveaway is open to US residents only, because I am poor.  

The winner of the giveaway must respond to my winner e-mail within 48 hours to claim the prize. 

Thanks for stopping by!  

While you're in a winning mood, enter to win a copy of The Portait of Alatiel Salazar, a pretty gothic romance by Steven Katriel.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Before there was ... Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

You'll notice that I have far more of these than I've had for the previous two.  It's because fantasy has been huge in YA longer than dystopian or vampires ... and because it's always been my first love.  

Oh, yeah.  And it's now edited with links. Because I am an idiot. 

If you haven't read Throne of Glass, read my review to find out why you'll love it! 

Before there was Throne of Glass 

by Sarah J. Maas, there was . . . 

 The first series I ever read from her, and arguably her best. Fourteen-year-old Daine Sarasri is an illegitimate child and an orphan.  Not the best start for a girl in the kingdom.  But Daine can also talk to animals.  She possesses Wild Magic, an unruly, powerful magic unlike that of the other mages.  Becoming mixed up with the famous mage Numair, the King's Champion Alanna, and the court, Daine becomes part of wars, intrigues, and dangers that ultimately lead her to the realms of the gods.  Well-written, with adventure, romance, and a kick-butt heroine, these books will appeal to anyone who loves Maas' Celaena.  Like all Pierce's work, these books are a blend of action, humor, and romance that has something for everyone.  

Set before The Immortals, this is the story of Alanna.  Protected by the Goddess, spunky Alanna doesn't want to be a lady.  She wants to be a knight.  So she cuts her hair, pretends to be a boy, and enrolls in knight training in the king's own guard.  Quickly becoming friends with Crown Prince Jonathan and a wily thief named George, she proves herself a worthy warrior and becomes the first female knighted.  Along the way, she falls in love--a few times--and does quite a bit of fighting.  All in service of her magical destiny.  I love Alanna.  She's powerful, petulant, and exciting.  Her adventures are full of magic and intrigue, with plenty of twists.  

This is Keladry's story, set after The Immortals.  Now Daine is a famous mage, Alanna the aging Champion, and girls are at last allowed to join the king's pages on the way to knighthood.  The books follow her from page to squire to knight, through all her tests: proving her worthiness as a girl knight, falling in and out of love, becoming squire to the realm's famous Lord Raoul, and managing a refugee camp during a dangerous war.  Kel is tough and scrappy.  You root for her on every page, want to be her.    

Tristran has a problem.  He's in love.  And his love wants him to go and catch her the star that fell into the meadows, outside of the town wall.  But no one goes outside of the town wall.  Tristran soon discovers why, as he finds the star, a young woman called Yvaine, and is sucked into a series of dangers.  Chased by a witch queen, the vicious men of Stormhold, and other dangers, Tristran must survive and bring the star back to his love.  Only it's not that simple.  Funny, snarky, witty--do I need more words to tell you that it's hysterical?  There's romance.  There's adventure.  There's whimsy.  What more could you want?  

A true epic, spanning hundreds of years.  Half parody of high fantasy but still true to the genre, with a world that is fully realized.  Spanning several generations, this masterful epic goes through the history of Dalemark and the people from different times who are all destined to save it.   

One of the best fantasy books of all time. Don't listen to the terrible movie adaptation! Ella is a strong, kickass heroine who saves her own life and sacrifices everything for her kingdom.  There's no evil uncle and she's not a ditz.  This is a story of girl power, determination, and funny, clever fantasy creatures. 

Click the book titles to find out more! 

What other older or obscure books 
remind you of Throne of Glass?


Feature & Follow: Carmen @ Book Me

Q: Worst cover? What is the worst cover of a book that you’ve read and loved?

A:  I was hugely not a fan of the cover for American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis.  It's just so cluttered and not exactly how I picture Patrick Bateman. However the book itself was a masterpiece. One of my favorites of all time. 

All follows loved and appreciated!  I can't wait to meet everyone!  

From the Review Pile: The Lynching of Louie Sam by Elizabeth Stewart

From the Review Pile is a meme hosted by Stepping Out of the Page every Thursday. 

The aim of this meme is to showcase books that you've received for review (or if you don't receive review books, any book that you own and really want to read/review) but haven't yet got around to reading, in order to give the book some extra publicity. 

(Thanks to Reading Under the Willow Tree for the meme description.) 

Elizabeth Stewart

Fifteen-year-old George Gillies lives in the Washington Territory in the late 1800s, where white settlers have an uneasy relationship with the indigenous people living there. When a local man is found murdered, suspicion falls on Louie Sam, a young member of the Stó:lō tribe. George and his best friend, Pete, follow a lynch mob north into Canada, where the terrified boy is seized and hung.

Racked with doubts, George begins to ask questions. Was Louie Sam really a murderer? As George uncovers the truth, tensions in the town rise, and he must face his own part in the tragedy.

Inspired by a true story.

c.j.'s thoughts

I usually avoid true stories like the plague, whether in movies or books.  Why?  Because they all tend to end up terribly sadly and then I cry and feel terrible about the world.  Only sometimes I like an escape from my escapism.  I like to remember the real stuff that goes on out there.  And this book covers such an important topic, such an unfortunately recent topic, that I couldn't help but request the ARC.  Discrimination and blind hatred isn't gone, people.  Books like these can be moving wake-up calls.


ARC Review: The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

TITLE: The Dark Unwinding
AUTHOR: Sharon Cameron
PAGES: 336
FORMAT: Kindle (Netgalley ARC)
ISBN: 978-0545327862
BUY IT: Amazon
RATING: 5/5 [in the genre] or 9/10 [all books I’ve ever read].
FOR: People looking for a new Jane Austen. People who love the Victorian age, steampunk, ghost stories, or intrigue. People who are always living 200 years in the past. People looking for a good read with a clever, admirable heroine and a realistic romance. Anyone who can read or be read to.
GET IT:  September 1st, 2012 

A spine-tingling tale of steampunk and spies, intrigue and heart-racing romance!

When Katharine Tulman's inheritance is called into question by the rumor that her eccentric uncle is squandering away the family fortune, she is sent to his estate to have him committed to an asylum. But instead of a lunatic, Katharine discovers a genius inventor with his own set of rules, who employs a village of nine hundred people rescued from the workhouses of London.

Katharine is now torn between protecting her own inheritance and preserving the peculiar community she grows to care for deeply. And her choices are made even more complicated by a handsome apprentice, a secretive student, and fears for her own sanity.

As the mysteries of the estate begin to unravel, it is clear that not only is her uncle's world at stake, but also the state of England as Katharine knows it. With twists and turns at every corner, this heart-racing adventure will captivate readers with its intrigue, thrills, and romance.

the basics
I will tentatively say that this is my favorite young adult book of the entire year! It’s definitely up with Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein and Everneath by Brodi Ashton. The Dark Unwinding combines so many of my favorite things: action, hints of the supernatural, psychology, pretty Victorian dialogue, a capable heroine you don’t want to punch, and a romance that builds slowly instead of sparking from first glance. Add some eerie children, evil aunts, and magical clockwork figures and you have one thrilling steampunk adventure. Cameron’s writing is beautiful. She takes the Victorian style and gives it a modern flavor that teens can enjoy.

plot . 4.5/5
The only notch I took off here was for the ending. I wasn’t quite sure if I was satisfied with the final reveal. To me, it made it a bit too real-world and I’d been enjoying the sort of magical isolation of Stranwyne. However, it’s a small notch. The rest of the plot was fabulous, from the first (darkly funny) line. You never get a chance to be bored. Every time things begin to settle down, a new wrench is thrown into the mix. By the end, you realize that all those little details you discounted earlier fit together in a huge intrigue. It all makes sense, but you’d never see it coming. The twist during Katherine’s party was my favorite moment. The romance was a close second; I don’t like romance novels, but I love a good romance embedded in a thrilling plot. This was one where I was rooting for the pairing from the beginning and felt so satisfied at how long it took to develop.  I was also expecting something supernatural to happen the whole time; Cameron plays a good game, keeping you guessing how much is real.

concept . 5/5
The cover blurb delivers everything it promises, and more. Beyond the problem of her uncle’s madness and saving the estate workers, there are so many more layers: Katherine’s own mental struggles, the mystery of Davy’s silence, the intrigue with Mrs. Jeffries, Lane’s particular devotion to Mr. Tully. The clockwork workshop. The old house all in pink. Everything felt whimsical and dark at the same time. I had a hard time picking up another book after finishing this, because I wanted so badly for it not to be over.

characters . 5/5
I loved them all. Deeply. They were all multifaceted and not what you expected at first. Mr. Tully was my favorite. Cameron nailed his brand of madness, a childlike innocence mixed with a brilliant mind. His dialogue made me laugh. I wanted to hug him from the very first moment he appeared, and have him for my own uncle. Katherine was a close second. You watch her grow through the book, which is always exciting. She doesn’t always make the right choices. She doesn’t always know what’s going on. But she learns, and becomes richer for it. Lane is more subtle, as he’s quiet, but he says so much in his body language that I knew him well too. Mary—just hysterical. I could gush about every character. Just take my word: they’re all lovely.

style . 5/5
I love Victorian writing. It’s decorative. It’s beautiful. They paid so much attention to the way things were worded back then. Like Oscar Wilde alluded to, writing was a kind of painting. Many people find it tedious because it was so dense. Cameron captures all that is good about Victorian style while updating it to do away with that tedium. She paints beautiful pictures with every word. Her dialogue is spot-on. Her language makes the book feel even more magical. But it’s nothing your average teen wouldn’t understand.

mechanics . 5/5
Nothing I noticed was off. It was just brilliant, all around.

take home message
One of the best YA books of 2012! An exciting mystery with a heroine you want to root for.

Note: I received this ARC for free through Netgalley from Scholastic INC. The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.

Wishlist Wednesday: Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Wishlist Wednesday features books that have been on your wishlist for a long time, old or new.

Jodi Meadows

New soul 
 Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why. 
 No soul 
 Even Ana's own mother thinks she's a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she'll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame? 
 Sam believes Ana's new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana's enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else's life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

c.j.'s thoughts
I've wanted to read this all year, ever since I saw the gorgeous cover.  The concept is also wicked original.  It takes something familiar, reincarnation, and adds a kink, new souls, that makes it totally new again.  There's definitely talk of romance, but it seems to focus on Ana's journey to discover the origin of her soul and to find her place in the world.  The idea of destroying reincarnation is just another exciting tidbit.  I want to possess this, hug it, and read it happily with some tea.

Earl Grey.  Lemon.

Waiting On Wednesday: All You Never Wanted by Adele Griffin

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a feature hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine to feature yet-to-be-released books.

Audrey Couloumbis
Coming October 9th, 2012
Learn More

With my eyes closed and Alex's core friends all around me, it was like I'd become my big sister, or something just as good. And so who cared if they were calling it Alex's party? One thing I knew: it would be remembered as mine.

Alex has it all—brains, beauty, popularity, and a dangerously hot boyfriend. Her little sister Thea wants it all, and she's stepped up her game to get it. Even if it means spinning the truth to win the attention she deserves. Even if it means uncovering a shocking secret her older sister never wanted to share. Even if it means crying wolf.

Told in the alternating voices of Alex and Thea, Adele Griffin's mesmerizing new novel is the story of a sibling rivalry on speed.

c.j.'s thoughts
I just discovered this about five minutes ago and I'm very intrigued.  It sounds dark and I like dark in my novels.  Teens could use a little dark that's real instead of the fantasy kind.  It's gotten mixed reviews, but I'm willing to give it a chance.  I'm hoping for something with some 13 Reasons Why (Jay Asher) flavor.  We'll see if it lives up to that or is a little too Gossip Girl.  


Cover Reveal: The Burning of Isobel Key by Jen McConnel

C.J.'s Cover Comments 
I really love this cover!  The beveled author name text looks a little cheesy, but other than that, it's gorgeous! The colors are intense in a way that makes it look perfectly eerie.  And reminds me so very much of the weirdly intense colors in Edinburgh, against the backdrop of rainy gray.  The mood is absolutely perfect.  The title text crowds a little, but the image is so pretty, I don't care.  


When Lou travels to Scotland, she’s a mess.  She’s twenty-six, unemployed, and unsure of herself.  It doesn’t help that she’s traveling with Tammy, her best friend, who is everything Lou is not.

At first, the trip pushes Lou towards the brink of depression, but then she meets Brian, a handsome local tour guide.  When Brian tells the tourists about the countless witches burned in Scotland, Lou starts to listen.  And when she discovers information about Isobel Key, one of the victims of the seventeenth century, Lou finds renewed purpose.

She sets out to learn the truth of the condemned witch, but she isn’t prepared for the knowledge that waits for her.  Lou must face her demons if she has any hope of righting the wrongs of the past.

Author Info

Jen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child.  Since then, her words have appeared in a variety of magazines and journals, including Sagewoman, PanGaia, and The Storyteller (where she won the people’s choice 3rd place award for her poem, “Luna”).

She is also an active reviewer for Voices of Youth Advocates (VOYA), and proud member of SCBWI, NCWN, and SCWW.

The Burning of Isobel Key
 is her first novel.  She also writes YA fantasy.


Before there was ... Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Before there was Twilight 
by Stephenie Meyer, there was . . . 

Starting with Interview with a Vampire and continuing through The Vampire Lestat, Queen of the Damned, and many others, this series was one of the very first to take the undead and make them sexy. Lestat has all the class of a French noble with old money, twice the allure of Edward Cullen, and adventures that bring the world to its knees: a dangerous child vampire, an ancient vampire queen who wants to destroy the human race, a body switcher, a demon with a death-wish. And these vampires definitely have fangs.  For older teens who are mature enough to deal with a little sex and violence.  

When teenager Darren Shan sneaks into a scary freak show with his best friend Steve, he thinks it’s just for fun . . . until they realize that all the tricks are real, and dangerous. Steve tries to steal a rare and poisonous spider and gets bit. The spider’s owner Mr. Crepsley will only give Darren the antidote if Darren agrees to become a vampire and become his apprentice. However Steve’s dream is to become a vampire; he believes that Darren stole his dream, and sparks an all-out war between the vampires and vampaneze, bloodsuckers who live by no rules but their own thirst.  A whimsical series with great characters and a very original vampire. 

Click the book titles to find out more! 

What other older or obscure books 
remind you of Twilight?

Teaser Tuesday: Diary by Chuck Palahniuk

"Teaser Tuesday" is a weekly feature hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.  

DIARY: a novel 
chuck palahniuk 

It wasn't until one of her kids died, he said, 
that Maura Kincaid ever painted a picture.  
He said, "Maybe people have to really suffer 
before they can risk doing what they love." 


Throne of Glass Giveaway: Winner!

we have a winner! 

Thanks to everyone who entered the Throne of Glass giveaway!  I'm happy to meet all my new followers and I'm so grateful to everyone for participating and sharing with others.  

Didn't win?  Look no further than the Giveaway Page for more chances to win great prizes! 

                     congratulations to
erika williams!

( the winner has 48 hours to respond to the winning e-mail, otherwise a new winner will be chosen ) 

Before there was ... The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I was reading a review of The Giver on Reading Teen a while back and it got me thinking. There are all sorts of popular new books out these days, but what about the ones that came before? There are people who don’t realize that the “new” genres and plot twists they love were already done ten, twenty, thirty years ago. So in the interest of giving those books some credit, let’s take a look at the oldies. Welcome to my new series, Before There Was, celebrating older and more obscure titles that will appeal to lovers of contemporary favorites.   Coming up:  Twilight, Throne of Glass, and more! 

Before there was The Hunger Games 
by Suzanne Collins, there was . . . 

The nation is becoming overcrowded and the Population Police have taken drastic measures. Only two children per family, and they’re enforcing it with death. Luke is one of the hidden, the third child of a family determined not to break the rules again. Until he meets Jen, another third child who’s been contacting other third children on a secret network. She’s determined to start a revolution, and escape into the light. A fast-paced adventure with high stakes and an endearing main character.

You’ve read the copies; here’s the crown jewel in the dystopian family. The world is broken into massive states governed by powerful men who rule with iron fists, including the oppressive Big Brother. Winston Smith works for the government, but nurses a secret wish to return to a time before the Thought Police controlled every form of communication, before Newspeak replaced creativity. The famous story of what happens when free thought is taken over.   The writing is pretty accessible to teenage readers, and it's classic 

The start to this classic sci-fi dystopian revolves around Ender, an outcast boy struggling to fit in with his peers.  Only his peers are other child geniuses engineered and raised by the government to be super space soldiers for their long-standing war.  Only Ender and his siblings might be more than just soldiers ... they might be able to save the Earth.  Haven't read it yet myself, but I have it on very good faith (and rabid insistence) from good friends that it's a life-changing book.  

Click the book titles to find out more! 

What other older or obscure books 
remind you of The Hunger Games?  


Teaser: The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

Sharon Cameron 

I looked to Ben, questioning, and when I glanced 
back there was one very bright, very blue eye 
peering around the doorjamb.  A short, white 
beard appeared below the eye, slowly, and then 
a little man in a black dress coat eased into view,
 plucking at his jacket.  


Feature & Follow: Chayse @ The Book Reaper

This is an extremely unpretty post from my phone as I head towards the Titanic exhibit! It will be prettied as soon as I get home. Swear. [Edit: Now it's prettied!]

Q: What blogger inspires you? It can be any kind, it doesn’t have to be a book blog.

A:  Doodle from Doodle's Book Blog! In just over half a year she has gone from newblogger to blogger extraordinaire! She has tons of reviews, hosts great giveaways, gets to know people, and is super friendly and supportive! 

All follows loved and appreciated!  I can't wait to meet everyone!  


From the Review Pile: The Uninvited Guest by Troy Aaron Ratliff

From the Review Pile is a meme hosted by Stepping Out of the Page every Thursday. 

The aim of this meme is to showcase books that you've received for review (or if you don't receive review books, any book that you own and really want to read/review) but haven't yet got around to reading, in order to give the book some extra publicity. 

(Thanks to Reading Under the Willow Tree for the meme description.) 

Troy Aaron Ratliff 

When teenagers Harland Jacobs and Jose Rodriguez crashed a wedding, they weren’t doing anything terribly wrong. Jose only came because his nagging mother made him. Harlan only joined him to make it tolerable for his friend - and the free food, the girls and the dancing, of course. And they took full advantage too, eating, laughing at the guests behind their backs, and in the end, were planning to make complete fools of themselves. Why not? What did they have to lose? But they never dreamed this wedding would have taken such a staggeringly horrific turn. They never dreamed they would be fighting for their lives in this lodge tucked away in the woods. They never dreamed they would have heard so much screaming on a wedding day either. 

C.J.'s Thoughts: 

The author was kind enough to provide me free copies of this from the author.  I've previously reviewed his wonderfully eerie short story, Little Bernie's Map, and I've just been terribly neglecting this story due to blog tours / release dates / general terribleness.  So check it out, and look out for the review soon! 

Indie Review: The Forever Girl by Rebecca Hamilton

TITLE: The Forever Girl: Sophia’s Journey
AUTHOR: Rebecca Hamilton
PAGES: 352
FORMAT: Kindle
ISBN: B00729GQ0A
BUY IT: Amazon
RATING: 4.5/5 [in the genre] or 7/10 [all books I’ve ever read].
FOR: Wiccans, or anyone who is even marginally interested in Wicca. Fans of The Vampire Diaries looking for something more grown-up. Anne Rice fans.

At twenty-two, practicing Wiccan Sophia Parsons is scratching out a living waiting tables in her Rocky Mountain hometown, a pariah after a string of unsolved murders with only one thing in common: her.

Sophia can imagine lots of ways to improve her life, but she'd settle for just getting rid of the buzzing noise in her head. When the spell she casts goes wrong, the static turns into voices. Her personal demons get company, and the newcomers are dangerous.

One of them is a man named Charles, who Sophia falls for despite her better judgment. He has connections that might help her unveil the mystery surrounding her ancestor's hanging, but she gets more than she bargains for when she finally decides to trust him.

Survival in his world, she learns, means not asking questions and staying out of the immortal council's way. It's a line she crossed long ago. If Sophia wants to survive the council and save the people she loves, she must accept who she is, perform dark magic, and fight to the death for her freedom.

The Basics: It’s not difficult to tell why this book has been blowing up the book blog world. Hamilton has an ear for pretty descriptions and a head for an exciting, twisty plot. Nothing is as it seems in the world of Sophia Parsons. Just when you think you understand the game, everything shifts. I really enjoyed the Sophia and Charles romance—very sweet and well done, and if you’re more of a romance fan than me, you’ll adore it even more! The supporting cast was a little sporadic, but all the characters felt fully realized. Even through a few draggy bits that could have been cut, I was fascinated by the fantasy world Hamilton has created. It’s a take on vampires like you’ve never seen before, plus a whole host of clever mythological hybrids that I couldn’t get enough of.

Plot (3/5): Most of the time, I was paging through quickly, excited for the next piece. The twists keep you guessing; this is anything but predictable! Especially during the first half and the last half. Only a few parts dragged. One, I thought the romance between Sophia and Charles got too intense too quickly. But other than that, I thought their progression was sweet and I really enjoyed them together. Also, I liked hearing Ivory’s story but it was just too long right in the middle of intense action. The ending could have been shorter too. I didn’t really need the slow denouement.

Concept (5/5): One of the most clever takes on vampires I’ve seen. Hamilton sets up a world of elementals that gels perfectly with the Wiccan backdrop and ties in lots of fun mythology. I thought her stories of the Universe and the creations of the elementals were brilliant! Original, very well thought-out, and they just had this atmosphere of magical-ness. Top notch.

Characters (5/5): I love Sophia. Even when she annoyed me, it was in an, “Oh, you silly girl” endearing way. She felt like a friend by the end. Charles is a nice break from Mr. Controlling. He had a few moments of being too domineering, but in the end, he let Sophia do her own thing and helped her grow. Some of the side characters didn’t get a lot of play time, but I still felt like I knew them quite well. Mrs. Franklin was an eerily fantastic addition.

Style (4/5): Hamilton’s writing is largely very pretty and very clear. I could imagine everything extremely well. She has a great sense of atmosphere, which is important in any book. Only, there were too many adjectives for my taste. I didn’t really need to know the exactly color or texture or brand of everything. I didn’t need everything to be stripped out, either. Sometimes, a very detailed description is a great accent. I just didn’t like so much of it.

Mechanics (5/5): A couple typos, but nothing that I noticed more than in passing. The book is very well formatted in general. Hamilton has a great sense of grammar, which always makes me smile. Yeah, I’m a grammar nazi. Deal with it.

Take Home Message: An exciting, fresh take on supernaturals with its own mythology. Must-read for any fans of the paranormal.

Note: I purchased this copy. The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.