Book News: Around the Internet #1 / Writing Tips from the Pros #3

Book News
                    around the internet

So I usually do longer news posts when something big happens, but sometimes there are lots of little things I want to share with you that don't necessarily fit into Writing Tips or something like that.  And for when I'm lazy.  So, inspired by Christina Reads YA, I decided to do a shorter links post for those times.  Hers are way more detailed and cooler and you should read them, but hopefully you find something fun and interesting here too!  I think this may end up subsuming Writing Tips From the Pros.  

Agents and Publishing

Amazon Publishing Goes Abroad
Amazon publishing, including KDP select, is now available in Mexico!  Yay for more authors being able to share their work!  

2013 Guide to Literary Agents
Chuck Sambuchino's extensive guide is out!  If you don't want to buy the guide, check out his helpful website.  

Manuscript Wish Lists
Want to know what agents are looking for?  Check their Twitters!  

Tips for Writers

A Handful of Writing Advice

Authors give their best words of wisdom--on their palms.  

A Marketing Strategy
How to get the most out of social media as an author.  

Fun Bookish Stuff

Books That Inspired Martin Luther King

GalleyCat collects a selection of free books that inspired the great man, in honor of the anniversary of the March on Washington!  

Six Second Storytelling Advice
Ted Travelstead uses the Vine to tell humorous short stories.  

17 Problems Only Book Lovers Will Understand
BuzzFeed collects some fun gifs that any reader will appreciate.  

32 Books That Will Change Your Life
So, I've read about a third.  How many have you read?  

1907 Reading List 
GalleyCat takes a look at what students read in 1907, and how our literature has changed.  

From the Blogosphere

A Diversity Rant

A thoughtful and heartwrenching discussion of one reader's wish to see more people like her in young adult fiction.  

Howl's Moving Castle
Books of Amber reviews one of my favorite books of all time!  

Love in the Time of Global Warming
Christina Reads YA reviews an exciting new book (and I hear there's a giveaway, hint hint).  

Feelings of Bad Boys
Christina Reads YA talks about bad boys in young adult literature.  

The Cliched Antagonist
Parajunkee discussed when villains lose believability, and what turns a good villain into an eye roll.  

To People Who Critique YA
Better Read Than Dead sends a message to people who think young adult is "dumbed down" or not real literature.  


Waiting on Wednesday: Vicious by Victoria Schwab

Waiting on Wednesday

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

v.e. schwab


coming september 24, 2013

A masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and superpowers, set in a near-future world.

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will.

Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

So much for resting in peace.

c.j.'s thoughts

What can I say?  I love Victoria Schwab.  Her writing is creepy, evocative, and exciting.  The Archived is slated to be one of my top ten books of the year for that reason.  She shows a mastery of character, language, voice, and atmosphere that's rare for any writer and too rare in young adult.  Vicious promises to carry on the characteristics I loved in Archived, while adding another level of darkness, violence, and depth that I can't stay away from.   Not to mention, the plot has a kind of superpowery element that I love (because I'm a superhero nerd) but one that's grounded in science, ish.  So even better!  Plus, every time Victoria posts about it, I just want to hug it and read it now.  

Writing Tips: From the Pros #2

Writing Tips
                     from the pros

So I love giving writer tips from a readerly perspective.  I love reading them too.  They're useful because the readers are your market, and you want to know what that market is thinking and what it loves and loathes.  That said, it's also insanely helpful to get advice from people who have been through the great publishing journey:  the published writers.  They have a different perspective because they've, worked with editors, publishers, agents, etc. and know the innards of the business.  So enjoy their wisdom.  And even if you aren't a writer, it's fun to read about the process!  

Writing Tips From the Pros #1

From the Writers, Agents, and Publisher 

The Revision Ripple Effect
What starts as a simple revision goes haywire--in good ways.  

30 Writing Prompts for September
GalleyCat challenges you to get inspired.  Take one, two, or combine a few.   

How to Create Your Perfect Penname
Bill Ferris takes an amusing stab at teaching you how find your most marvelous literary monniker.  

The Dreaded Solitude of Writing
Porter Anderson looks at loneliness as part of the writing process.  

Flog the Pros:  The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
Ray Rhamey dissects the first page of J.K. Rowling's "new" book and comments on whether he'd read further, and why.  Part of a great series about looking at how the pros keep a reader reading--and when they get it wrong.  

From the Readers and Reviewers

Then and Now: My Feelings on Bad Boys in YA Lit
Blogger and reviewer Christina looks at her changing opinions on bad boys and how bad boys are defined and use in young adult books.  

I Hate Strong Female Characters
Sophia McDougall looks at how "strong" has become the limiting factor for female characters.  Are male characters "strong?"  What else is there?   

Diversity in YA
A well-reasoned rant about something I'm glad to hear more about these days--the lack of diversity in young adult novels.  


ARC Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas


title:  Crown of Midnight

author Sarah J. Maas

pages: 432

format: Kindle

isbn/asin: 978-1619630628

buy it: Amazon  Goodreads  B&N

rating: 5/5 [in the genre] or 8/10 [all books I’ve ever read].

recommended for:  Fans of Throne of Glass (duh), Tamora Pierce, Rae Carson, Kristen Cashore, and epic fantasy in general.  Everyone, because it's amazing and you should read it!  

My Ratings Explained

An assassin’s loyalties are always in doubt. But her heart never wavers.

After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king's contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king's bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she's given a task that could jeopardize everything she's come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon -- forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice.

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?

the basics
This book killed me.  Seriously, it's been a long time since I've been dragged around so much emotionally by a book.  It's the mark of an amazing writer when you can absolutely hate the main character and still desperately want them to succeed.  Maas is that writer.  She gives her characters deep flaws that have devastating consequences, ones that shape what turned out to be an exhilarating plot.  It starts out slow--not a bad slow, just setting the scene slow.  Celaena has contracts to kill for the king.  She's investigating some traitors and keeping some secrets.  

Then a chapter late and BOOM.  People are dying, plots are coming out, romances are sizzling, magic is brewing, and it doesn't stop until the end.  In fact, it only gets more intense, with a climax that broke my heart and a shocking end.  I could not love this series more than I do now, even though I hated Celaena for part of the book due to romance-y things.  This book raises the stakes 10 times higher than Throne and immerses you deeper in Celaena's world.  And for people who actually approve of her romantic choices, you won't have my complaints.  

plot . 4.9/5
You think you know what's going on...and then BAM.  I had that sensation about 10 times in this book.  First you think Celaena is just killing traitors...but there's more.  You think she's just investigating Wyrdmarks...but what about that prophecy?  You think the king is just a cruel jerkface...but what's this about keys and gates?  You think everything is going well...oh boy, are you a sap.  It's the best kind of plot, where there's real danger, real consequences, and you can never feel safe when something good is happening because it could (and will) change the next second.  Maas also does a fantastic job of weaving plot and lore.  

Many people guessed the ending, but it was a shock to me.  A good shock.  A shock that is going to make this series more epic than I'd ever imagined.  The only part I hated was the middling part where Celaena gets cozy with one of the boys.  That was rough for me to read because I felt that she was being selfish and destroying friendships, and I didn't think the scorned boy in this scenario was upset to a believable degree.  But you may not think so, and clearly I still loved the book despite wanting to punch Celaena.  

concept . 5/5
You get all the goodies from Throne.  The adventure, the intrigue, the assassining, the romance.  Only everything is graver now.  Instead of a title on the line, there are kingdoms, lives, subjugated peoples.  We get wind of threats from abroad and a deeper plot initiating with the king himself.  There are magical goings-on that set up future plot and are part of an intricate, exciting layer of this world.  I never loved Maas's worldbuilding more than in this book.  Crown really brings out her imagination and mastery of epic fantasy.  

characters . 4.5/5
I'll start with nice things.  You get to know Celaena a lot better in this book.  You see her darkest side, and her most vulnerable.  It's refreshing.  I think the way she grows after PLOTTWISTOFDOOM is really clutch for her character, and made me forgive her for being a selfish selfishpants for the rest of the book.  Because I was super angry at her for the way she handled the romance, in much the same way I was angry at Harry in Phoenix for being bitchy.  I felt she was willfully ignoring others' feelings for other own benefit.  Same goes for her beau, who I can't name for spoilery reasons.  And that actually made me dislike reading it for a little.  

That said, I still came out rooting for Celaena in the end, which is an important sign of good writer.  And, we get to know other characters much more deeply this book.  Chaol comes into his own, even though his goodie-ness annoys me, and Dorian becomes stronger and more capable.  Nehemiah is just as awesome, and the king is much more fearsome.  Even the side characters feel alive.  I was especially fond of Baba Yellowlegs and Mort, who play small but powerful roles.  

style . 5/5
Maas' style is phenomenal.  She manages to be lyrical without being flowery and has some of the most striking phrasing around.  She also has a good grasp of medieval-style language and her book just feels different from any other.  Everything's dripping with atmosphere.  I can't even tell you how many quote I highlighted and revisited.  I think the writing in this book is even more polished than in Throne.  You can really see Maas' mastery of her craft and her characters.   

mechanics . 5/5
Boo love triangles.  Boo members of love triangles acting all noble even though they're hurt, which lets the offending parties get off scot free.  Yay polished writing!  

take home message
One of this generation's best fantasies--a compelling sequel with a staggering plot, well-developed characters, and a true mastery of storytelling.  

Note: I received this copy through Netgalley for a review.  The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.


Giveaway: Books to Movies Hop (INT)

welcome to the no-strings attached giveaway! 

In collaboration with Book Hounds and I Am a Reader Not a Writer, it's time to celebrate books that have hit the silver screen.  I'm giving away any Young Adult book that has been made into a movie or optioned for a movie from the Book Depository or Amazon!  

Don't forget to go to the rest of the hop for more great prizes! 

International as long as TBD ships to your country! 

This giveaway will run until September 3rd. 

This giveaway is open to anyone whom Book Depository ships to.  

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

Thanks for stopping by!  


Teaser Tuesday: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholki

teaser tuesday
             mini excerpts

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

just finished this. crazy! look out for the review this week. 

april genevieve tucholki 

 Usually, I wanted to be on those ships, sailing 
away to some place cold and exotic.  But that 
itchy, gypsy feeling wasn't in me right then. 

If I was going to kill someone, it would be with cyanide.  

"Trying not to drink too much coffee."  I put my 
heels back down on the guesthouse kitchen floor.  
"It's hard to gulp it down when you're on your toes."   

books are an escape. they put into words what we can't. if you're suffering in silence, you're not alone. 


Discussion: Throne of Glass romances and love triangles

                              throne of glass

Okay, so Christina of Christina Reads YA and I have been having this discussion a lot of over e-mail, and I was super curious to see where the rest of you fans lie.  

If you haven't read Throne of Glass, run away before I spoil anything for you.  

I, for one, am a huge Dorian-Celaena supporter.  Dorian is just my type of guy--quick-witted, fun-loving, but also very kind and honorable.  Chaol I found a little on the dull side, at least in ToG.  But you know, it sucks for him too because clearly he's nursing some secret feelings.  And I can't talk too much more without spoiling Crown of Midnight, but let's just say things are a little crazy for our three lovelies. 

So I'm wondering:  Where do you side?  Why?  Do you ever find yourself being angry at the apex of the love triangle (Celaena, in this case) for inadvertently (or...advertently....that's not a word) pitting two besties against each other?  

What about stories in general?  Do love triangles make it hard for you to get on board with the author's chosen romance?  Or, how about when it goes Twilight style and the girl is bouncing back and forth between two guys fighting over her?  Better or worse?  

Those are my thoughts.  I love Celaena in many ways, but her complicated relationships with Dorian and Chaol make it hard for me to like her sometimes.  Like, I think I have a harder time forgiving breaking someone's heart than murder (in books...don't start flaming me for being a psychopath).  Especially since I've seen that stuff go down in real life and trust me, it's ugly.  So what do you think?  How does it affect your reading experience?  If at all?  


ARC Review: The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher


title:  The S-Word 

author:  Chelsea Pitcher

pages: 304

format: Kindle

isbn/asin: 978-1451695168

buy it: Amazon  Goodreads  B&N

rating: 5/5 [in the genre] or 8/10 [all books I’ve ever read].

recommended for:  Fans of Pretty Little Liars, Laurie Halse Anderson (Speak), Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), Jay Asher (Thirteen Reasons Why), and similar books.  

My Ratings Explained

First it was SLUT scribbled all over Lizzie Hart’s locker.

But one week after Lizzie kills herself, SUICIDE SLUT replaces it—in Lizzie's looping scrawl.

Lizzie’s reputation is destroyed when she's caught in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend on prom night. With the whole school turned against her, and Angie not speaking to her, Lizzie takes her own life. But someone isn’t letting her go quietly. As graffiti and photocopies of Lizzie’s diary plaster the school, Angie begins a relentless investigation into who, exactly, made Lizzie feel she didn’t deserve to keep living. And while she claims she simply wants to punish Lizzie’s tormentors, Angie's own anguish over abandoning her best friend will drive her deep into the dark, twisted side of Verity High—and she might not be able to pull herself back out.

Debut author Chelsea Pitcher daringly depicts the harsh reality of modern high schools, where one bad decision can ruin a reputation, and one cruel word can ruin a life. Angie’s quest for the truth behind Lizzie’s suicide is addictive and thrilling, and her razor-sharp wit and fierce sleuthing skills makes her impossible not to root for—even when it becomes clear that both avenging Lizzie and avoiding self-destruction might not be possible.

the basics
I was excited about this one and it didn't let me down--but it did surprise me.  It's like Pretty Little Liars but darker, with suicide and rape playing center stage.  This book forces you to face some of the ugliest truths in high school.  The bullying.  The labeling.  The darkness behind the scenes.  Angie was a beautifully flawed character.  In her search for the truth about who drove her best friend to suicide, she finds out just as much about herself as she does Lizzie, and works through her own darkness.  Angie's insistence on finding the guilty parties masks her own guilt at abandoning her best friend in those last months.  It's a powerful story that puts a deeper spin on a murder mystery.  The plot twist?  I won't even hint, because it was so WOW that I had to put the book down for a second.  This book stayed with me long after I finished reading.  There were some plot points in the end that I found a little much, but overall, Pitcher does a great job of being edgy and authentic.  A must-read for teenagers everywhere.  

plot . 4/5
I mean, wow.  This was one of those books that made me want to skip human social interaction because I couldn't stop reading.  You know the mystery from the start.  Lizzie had sex with Angie's boyfriend on prom night.  Angie shunned her in misery.  People tormented Lizzie for months, and then she killed herself.  But there's so much more.  "Slut" in Lizzie's handwriting starts appearing spray-painted on lockers.  Pages of Lizzie's diary are being sent to the guilty parties.  In the midst is Angie, desperate to lessen the pain of Lizzie's loss by finding the guilty and bringing them to justice.  In it you find a twisted web of lies and secrets that's impossible to escape from.  I felt like a detective.  And when the twist hit, I was bowled over.  It was the kind of surprise that completely changed the book, but at the same time made so much sense.  My only beef was with the ending.  I found it a little over-the-top and a little unrealistic.  However, what I loved was seeing Angie grow and work through her own issues--to see her obsession with justice become madness and self-destruction, and to see her find her own peace.  It was incredibly powerful.  

concept . 5/5
Dead girl sending messages from the grave?  Pretty cool, especially when it doesn't involve ghosts.  It's like a mystery story as much as it is an "issues" book.  You follow Angie as she uncovers pieces of the puzzle.  People who had hurt Lizzie.  People who were involved in destroying her.  What makes it deeper than a revenge novel is Angie herself.  She's obviously deeply trouble, both with guilt about abandoning her friend to the cruel masses and with unresolved insecurities and fears.  That she's unlovable.  That she wasn't good enough for Lizzie.  This book is full of mysteries that are themselves full of psychological drama.  Cruel drama queens, camera-toting spies, a secret love, and more.  Surrounding it all is a commentary on race, gender, class, mental illness, and how these differences are treated in the maelstrom of high school.  It's unputdownable.  

characters . 5/5
Best part of it.  Everyone was so real.  Angie is richly layered.  She's the pretty, popular cheerleader.  The insecure loner.  The obsessed detective.  The mourning best friend.  Then there's Jesse, the skirt-wearing boy everyone calls a "gay freak", who becomes close to Angie and struggles to save her from her obsession.  There's the cruel cheerleader who has her own demons.  The inseparable hangers-on who torment others to protect their queen bee.  The ex-boyfriend who broke Angie's heart and caused a fatal rift.  Then there's Lizzie herself, the mysterious and beautiful memory you come to know through memories and journals.  She feels real in her absence and drives the story as much as the living characters.  Some of them are a little over-the-top, but these are people you might see in your own high school.  People you'll recognize, in one way or another.  

style . 4/5
Some people have given it flack, but I enjoyed it.  It was a little rough around the edges, but it felt authentic.  Angie's voice is clear through her narration, and also clearly distinct from Lizzie's diary entries.  The dialogue can get stilted and it could have used another round of edits for realism's sake, but nothing about the style was enough to tarnish this book for me.  In places, it's raw and edgy and devastating.  

mechanics . 4/5
Like I said, the dialogue was a little unbelievable sometimes.  I wanted to take a red crayon to it.     

take home message
A powerful teen drama that explore the butterfly effect of high school cruelty and one girl's struggle between self-destruction and justice.  

Note: I received this copy through Netgalley for a review.  The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.

Musing: CJ and her friend take on Of Monsters and Men


So my friend (who shall remain nameless cause she's already going to kill me for posting this) and I have been working on an arrangement of "Little Talks" by Of Monsters and Men for about 50 years now.  And we spent a lot of time working on it and because I'm insanely proud and giddy I'm going to share it with you.  It's still rough and we need to figure out a way to record the tracks separately so everything is at the proper volume and we need to work on the pacing and such, but whatever, this is a blog and the internet is for amateurs.  So here ya go.  If you're wondering, my friend sings the first line and I sing the second, and so on.  

And for more musical endeavors, check out "Slow Motion." 

And of course, the gorgeous original.  


Book News: New Titles from Palahniuk and Pierce

book news

chuck palahniuk revisits fight club

It's happened.  Years after Fight Club became a cult sensation and a hit movie starring some pretty snazzy actors, Palahniuk has announced a sequel.  In serialized graphic novel form.  Set ten years after Tyler first wreaked Mayhem upon the world.  (See what I did there?)  My feelings are mixed.  On one hand, Chuck is one of my favorite authors of all time.  He's a brilliant commentator on the malaise of modern existence, like Bret Easton Ellis but without the Twitter flack (don't remind me) and with much more of the horrific and the sensational.  Aka, he's brilliant and I love him and I want him to be my best friend.  (Check out my review of Choke or Diary if you're unconvinced.)  

However, we all know that sequels can ruin a good thing.  Some gems don't need a second cutting.  But given that it's a graphic novel, there is SO much that Palahniuk can do with the form to make the sequel a substantially different beast.  All in all, I trust that this isn't just a cash cow.  Chuck is already riding on the success of recent releases.  He doesn't exactly need a reintroduction.  So maybe that means that he's really passionate about this and it'll be true Palahniukian gory glory.  

tamora pierce strikes again

Pierce, one of my fantasy idols, is famous for her stories set in the magical realm of Tortall.  She also has an (allegedly) delightful other world about young mages in the world of Emalan, a series which I have thusfar avoided because I'm so enthralled with Tortall that I was afraid the others could never live up to my dream-world.  Call me ashamed, because how could I possibly doubt Pierce!?  I've re-read her books to shreds.  She's the master of mixing high fantasy with strong female heroines and sizzling romance--but not the kind that overshadows the intrigue or adventure.  I guess the only thing I can say in defense of myself is that there's tons of good high fantasy waiting for me to read it.  

But what in my childhood bubble I failed to realize is that she's still writing about the Circle!  And the next book, Battle Magic, is due out this September.  What does this mean?  Well, if you're never read Tamora, get started!  What does this mean for me?  I'll be reading a lot of Ms. Pierce in the coming months so I can devour this new offering.  Because, you know, I'm silly and somehow have failed to realize how many young adult novels now exist in my favorite genre.  (FAIL.)  

So if you love Sarah J. Maas and Kristen Cashore and Meghan Whalen Turner and all their ilk, try Tamora, because she's got years of magic on them.  


Waiting on Wednesday: Of Breakable Things by A. Lynden Rolland

Waiting on Wednesday

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

a. lynden rolland


coming april 2014

Alex Ash was born broken. Living with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is like living on death row, but she is willing to fight for her diseased life as long as it includes the boy next door. Chase has always held the pieces of her together, but when he dies tragically, Alex’s unfavorable fate becomes a blessing in disguise.

In a peculiar world where rooms can absorb emotions and secrets are buried six feet under, Alex discovers she is anything but frail. Even among limitless minds, envious spirits, and soulless banshees, the most difficult aspect of Alex’s afterlife is juggling between Chase and his reckless brother, neither of whom are willing to give up the girl they both love.

So much for resting in peace.

c.j.'s thoughts

I've been trawling Goodreads for some new 2014 books and this one caught my eye instantly.  Not only is the cover beautiful, but it sets up a mystery from the start:  what is this syndrome?  What world do these people live in?  How can they access the afterlife?  Who are these forces disturbing their peace?  I'm fascinated by the fantasy kind of paranormal and this sounds like just my thing.  I'm hoping for something along the lines of The Archived by Victoria Schwab as far as atmosphere, but with a different kind of creepy.  


ARC Review: Relativity by Cristin Bishara


title:  Relativity 

author Cristin Bishara 

pages: 289

format: Paperback 

isbn/asin: 978-0802734686

buy it: Amazon  Goodreads  B&N

rating: 5/5 [in the genre] or 7/10 [all books I’ve ever read].

recommended for:  Fans of R.J. Anderson (Ultraviolet and Quicksilver), Heather Anastasiu (Glitch), Doctor Who, and light, fun sci-fi.  

My Ratings Explained

If Ruby Wright could have her way, her dad would never have met and married her stepmother Willow, her best friend George would be more than a friend, and her mom would still be alive. Ruby knows wishes can't come true; some things just can't be undone. Then she discovers a tree in the middle of an Ohio cornfield with a wormhole to nine alternative realities.

Suddenly, Ruby can access completely different realities, each containing variations of her life—if things had gone differently at key moments. The windshield wiper missing her mother’s throat…her big brother surviving his ill-fated birth…her father never having met Willow. Her ideal world—one with everything and everyone she wants most—could be within reach. But is there such a thing as a perfect world? What is Ruby willing to give up to find out?

the basics
It's pretty funny.  While I was reading this, my boyfriend was reading Dragon's Egg by Robert L. Forward, which also deals with wormholes and is one of the most scientifically dense science-fiction books ever written.  Don't worry--Relativity is not that dense.  Bishara definitely did her research about string theory and wormholes, and she explains them in a way that's easy-to-understand and plot-relevant.  And the plot!  Oh boy.  I was hooked.  Each universe has something crazy going on and it's no fun jaunt; Ruby definitely comes out worse for the wear.  It's definitely an exciting genre plot, but Bishara uses it to explore deeper issues:  is there a perfect universe?  What does it mean to be you?  When one little thing changes, how big are the effects?  Ruby is also a great nerdy character and very sympathetic.  She also goes through a lot of change and growth.  The ending isn't insanely happy, but it's content--my favorite kind.  I thought the pacing sped up too much towards the end, but most of the book was well-done and exciting.  

plot . 4/5
The plot gets points off for its final third.  It felt like there should have been either less or more.  The first two third were paced perfectly.  We get enough set-up to justify the plot, and then a lot of detail as Ruby jumps between universes.  We get a thorough view of each one and each one contributes substantially to the story progression.  Then we hit the climax and it seems like Bishara wanted to do too much before the end.  The last few universes are cursory and barely-there.  And Ruby's change of heart seems too quick and not as believable as I'd have hoped.  I think Bishara would have done better to pick one final universe and explore that more--or give Ruby more time at the turning point to struggle with her decision.  As it is, it seems rushed.  However, if you take it as it is, the ending is pretty cool and open-ended, which I liked.  It's young adult science-fiction that goes deeper than the cool techie stuff. There's also a touch of really adorable romance.  

concept . 5/5
I love the idea of string theory and wormholes.  I mean, I'm a Doctor Who fan.  But it's funny--I've always watched more sci-fi than I've read.  Maybe it's because sci-fi wasn't as big in young adult for a while.  Now it's back with a vengeance, and Bishara is here to stay.  She incorporates a lot of good, hard science and real scientific figures into an exciting plot.  She also takes really neat concepts and makes them easy to understand for those of us who aren't theoretical physicists.  The concept of multiple parallel universes is a great way to explore a lot of deeper issues.  Bishara uses them to their full advantage, while also just making it really cool.  

characters . 5/5
I don't think there was one I didn't buy.  Ruby is annoying at times, but you understand why.  She's also clever, tragic, and resourceful.  I found her instantly loveable, even when I wanted to smack her.  The side characters don't all get a lot of screen time, but Bishara knows how to fit a lot of characterization into a small space.  They feel real.  Kandy, the villain, is more than just a flat bitch.  Ruby learns more about her and finds real reasons behind her cruelty.  And even cooler, the fact that we get multiple versions of every character means that Bishara gets a lot of time to explore what each character is like in the real world and how they differ in the other universes.  Layers and layers!  I loved it.  

style . 5/5
I'm actually annoyed at myself, because I dog-eared so many fun quotes and forgot to write them down before I mailed it out.  Bishara is a great young adult writer.  She knows how to combine some pretty phrasing and lush description with clear, concise language.  It makes for an easy read that doesn't have a lot of useless language, which is a problem in so many other books.  I wouldn't say it's incredibly memorable, but it's good for sure.  And, I think, less technical than a lot of other science-fiction, so it feels less scary.  

mechanics . 5/5
Nothing to complain about.  Bishara has a good grasp of grammar and mechanics.  No unnecessary spoon scenes here!       

take home message
A clever science-fiction that uses multiple universes to explore deep issues about the tiny turning points that make us who we are.  

Note: I received this copy through Around the World ARC Tours.  The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.

Teaser Tuesday: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas #3

teaser tuesday
             mini excerpts

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

okay, i'm less mad at it but i'm still like OMG WTF IS HAPPENING. must read more. must read more. o_o

sarah j. maas

 He hit the wet ground before he 
felt the pain.  Then the world flashed black 
and grey and red, and agony tore at him. 

books are an escape. they put into words what we can't. if you're suffering in silence, you're not alone. 


Book News: Novellas, Self-publishing, and Discounts

book news

new in the book world

Maggie Stiefvater talks about her take on self-publishing.  

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is on sale for $2.99. Been dying to read it?  Get your e-copy now! 

Sarah J. Maas announces the Throne of Glass novella collection, coming in print May 2014!  I've ordered my copy already.  Get yours.  

Discussion: A to Z Bookish Survey

I found this neat survey through Respiring Thoughts but it comes to us originally from Perpetual Page turner.  I've seen it on a few blogs now, and thought, what a great way for you guys to get to know me a little more while still being totally relevant to the blog!  So, enjoy--and I'd love to see your answers!  Graphic and design are Jamie's, not mine!  

Author you’ve read the most books from:

Diana Wynne Jones comes in a solid first with 21 books!  Seriously, I figured it'd be her, but I didn't realize until I checked Goodreads how many there are.  My other top authors are here, if you're curious.  It's a little skewed because of series.  If you count standalone books, Diana still wins but Shakespeare and Roald Dahl take second.  

Best Sequel Ever:

Ever?  Damn, that's hard.  I am going to ignore series of more than 2 books for this, because that really complicates things.  The one that comes to mind is Quicksilver by R.J. Anderson, the sequel to Ultraviolet.  I think it was so great because it took all the atmosphere of the first but it could have stood alone too.  And changing main characters was a clever way to make it feel like it's own thing, instead of just an extra.  

Currently Reading:

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas, my bookish idol.  Also the sequel to Throne of Glass, which you'd better read, yo.  

Drink of Choice While Reading:

Coffee.  But then, that's my drink of choice while doing anything.  

E-reader or Physical Book?

Physical book.  There's something about the smell and feel of the pages that e-readers just can't replace.  Besides, seeing an inch of finished pages is way more satisfying than seeing 50% complete.  However, I love my Kindle for review copies and things like that.  And cheap e-books!  

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:

Pretending I would have actually dated in high school (read:  nerd, total nerd!) I'd hands down say Simon from City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.  He's nerdy, adorable, sweet, and much less intimidating than your brooding bad boy type (who I would have crushed on fruitlessly.  Er, did.).  

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

The Caline Conspiracy by M.H. Mead.  My mom loves Preston & Child, thrillers, serial killer books, that kind of thing.  I love that stuff on TV but except for Dan Brown, I rarely read adult thrillers.  But the authors approached me and I decided to pick this one up.  And I'm glad, because it was fantastic and clever.  

Hidden Gem Book:

Reality Boy by A.S. King.  Why does no one know this book!?  It was magical! 

Important Moment in your Reading Life:

Taking fiction writing with Steve Tomasula and Valerie Sayers.  Learning how to craft short stories and being exposed to some of the more literary aspects of fiction opened a whole new world for me and got me into stuff I'd never have known about.  That was clutch.  But the most important of all?  Starting this blog.  It got me back into reading after a long period of busyness and neglect.  

Just Finished:

Relativity by Cristin Bishara.  Spoiler: it was awesome!  Review coming soon. 

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

Erotica and adult romance.  They just don't interest me.  I don't connect with 30-something characters looking for steamy love and reading sex scenes makes me (a) bored and/or (b) squirmy.  

Longest Book You’ve Read:

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, one of my favorite old timey authors--and one of my favorite books of all time.  Took me a whole summer of reading it bit-by-bit before bed.  It stuck with me. 

Major book hangover because of:

Harry Potter.  I still haven't recovered.  

Number of Bookcases You Own:

Four in my bedroom at my parents' house and two in my apartment, plus about 10 boxes of books under my bed and a homeless stack in my guest room.  Plus I guess most of another one in my parents' house that started as theirs... 

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.  I read this about once a year.  I can never get enough of it. 

Preferred Place To Read:

Outside in the grass, although I'm a big fan of my bed, too. 

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:

"You can never go back to a moment when you were happy."  - Ella Enchanted.  This has haunted and inspired me for years.  

Reading Regret:

I regret not getting into Cassandra Clare earlier.  I feel all left out and stuff.  (And Melissa Marr.  And Laini Taylor.  And INSERT LIKE FIFTY PEOPLE HERE.)  

Series You Started And Need To Finish(all books are out in series):

Pendragon by D.J. MacHale and Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan...I literally need one more in each of those.  Same with Artemis Fowl, I think.... 

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, and The Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones.  

Unapologetic Fangirl For:

Diana Wynne Jones.  As if you couldn't tell by my 5+ mentions of her already.  She's what fantasy is all about.   

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron, because The Dark Unwinding rocked!  Ooh, and Unbound by Victoria Schwab, sequel to The Archived.  

Worst Bookish Habit:

Reading multiple books at once (I'm in the middle of at least three right now) and saying 'yes' to too many review requests because I really want to help out authors and then life sucks. 

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

Pendragon: Before the War by D.J. MacHale on one shelf and Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves on the other. 

Your latest book purchase:

Technically the Assassin's Blade, the novella collection from Sarah J. Maas.  Even though it doesn't come out until May.  

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

That would be All The Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry.  I read it in a night (like, 12am to 5am) and it was unputdownable.