Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tear You Apart by Sarah Cross

Tear You Apart by Sarah Cross

Review by Lauren

Source: netgalley copy; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Viv knows there's no escaping her fairy-tale curse. One day her beautiful stepmother will feed her a poison apple or convince her on-again-off-again boyfriend, Henley, to hunt her down and cut out her heart before she breaks his. In the city of Beau Rivage, some princesses are destined to be prey.

But then Viv receives an invitation to the exclusive club where the Twelve Dancing Princesses twirl away their nights. There she meets Jasper, an underworld prince who seems to have everything--but what he really wants is her. He vows to save her from her dark fate if she'll join him and be his queen.

All Viv has to do is tear herself away from the huntsman boy who still holds her heart. Then she might live to see if happily ever after is a promise the prince can keep. But is life as an underworld queen worth sacrificing the true love that might kill her?

Review: I loved Sarah Cross' book Kill Me Softly (review here) so I was really excited to be accepted on Netgalley to read the companion novel, Tear You Apart. In the town of Beau Rivage, fairies give out curses - both good and bad - to certain people. Viv is cursed to live out the story of Snow White. Her stepmother, Regina, who she used to love and feel close to, has begun to hate her and her beauty and is desperate to be rid of her. After all, if Viv lives, Regina dies. That's just the way the story goes and everyone cursed has to live out the story to the end.

For Viv, she's been in love with Henley for years. He always hoped he would be her prince, the one who would wake her up with a kiss and save her from the huntsman after her heart. Unfortunately, he is cursed to be the huntsmen, and now the two of them do not know how to act. They love each other, and Henley swears he won't harm her, but Viv pushes him away because she knows how the story goes. At the same time, she always runs back to him when something is wrong. For all intents and purposes, he is her prince...until Jasper appears, promising to keep her safe, and happy, but is his happily-ever-after really what Viv wants or needs?

Kill Me Softly introduced us to Viv and Henley and their awful curse, so I loved hearing that Tear Me Apart would really dive into their story. I loved hearing about the other curses in Beau Rivage and I would love to have more books in this series. You have a Goldilocks named Luxe and a Beast named Rafe, but you also get a lot of other stories and curses that I'm not as familiar with, so it's fascinating to learn more.

I really enjoyed Tear You Apart. I had a feeling how things would ultimately end, but I was still confused on how it would happen. This book is full of twists and surprises, and it was a blast to read!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Lunar Chronicles...So Far

The Lunar Chronicles (Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress) by Marissa Meyer

Review by Lauren

source: copies from library; all opinions are my own

Review: I assume most of you have at least heard about Cinder. If not, the basic idea is that this is the future, and Cinder lives in New Beijing. She's also a Cyborg. While Cinder is the main character, each book focuses on a new female character that will help save Earth from the destructive nature of Levana, the Queen of Luna (a country on the moon). After Cinder, we get Scarlet and then Cress. All the books are told in third person and follow a mix of point of views. The book Cinder is mostly about her, but with each new book, you start to get even more point of views, from the girls to Kai (New Beijing's Emperor).

Normally these books might not stick out to me as something to read, because I haven't really read that many fairytale retellings. However, I had read so many reviews of this series and I eventually realized that I had to check these out, and I'm so glad I did because these books are fantastic. I love books told in first-person, as I feel you get to know the characters better, but third-person really worked for this series. You still feel connected to everyone, but you also are able to learn a lot more about this world and the characters within it without being relegated to just one point of view, like most first-person novels.

As I mentioned above, these books are based around fairy tales and I loved that. Each book is broken up into sections and at the start of them you get a quote from the original fairy tale that book is based on. Cinder is Cinderella, Scarlet is Little Red Riding Hood, and Cress is Rapunzel. The final book comes out later this year and will be called Winter, so I believe it's based on Snow White. We meet Winter in Cress's book and I'm already fascinated by her. These ladies are all vastly different, but they are all just as important to overthrowing Levana. Cinder is a mechanic, determined and strong. Scarlet is feisty and loyal. Cress is an amazing hacker and a character that shows that being brave doesn't mean you aren't also afraid.

Overall, I love these books and I can't wait for the final novel, Winter. I suggest giving these a chance, even if you aren't sure they are a right fit for you. You might just be surprised. It's an imaginative world that wonderfully blends fairy tales and unique concepts into one action-packed series.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Shooting Thoughts: Do You Go to Author Events When...?

Shooting Thoughts by Lauren 
Today's Topic: Do you go to author events when you haven't read the book?

I haven't been to that many author events in the past. A lot of times authors that I know and enjoy don't come near me, and even when some do, I'm not always able to go. However, I don't think this means you shouldn't try seeing other authors in person if you are curious about their book. You don't have to have read the book already - I mean, what if the author is a debut? Most people haven't read them yet!

I saw Chris Colfer in person when he was signing for his first middle grade novel, The Land of Stories. I was already a fan of his from Glee, so it made sense to attend his signing and get a chance to "meet" him if you will, even though you can't really talk to him much as the line is so long. This is obviously an example of an author you'd want to see even without having read their book already.

However, there are also plenty of authors out there that aren't famous for anything else, and I'm sure they would appreciate seeing some faces in the crowd when they visit a bookstore or library. I have been to see two authors, that I can remember, in that past where their books sounded interesting but I'd never read them or really knew who they were. I ended up buying a copy of the book to be signed though, as I felt weird going and not doing anything to truly support the author. I think, in general, you shouldn't feel pressured to buy a book at a signing. If you're going there because you love the author, then sure, it makes sense. But if you go just to see the author and learn more about them and their work, then you might find yourself not as interested in buying the book...or not right away. That's okay. I think you should still go to the event if you're curious!

I think one of the things that has me put off from going to author signings where I haven't already read something by them is that I might buy a book and get it signed, but that doesn't mean I'll read it. The two signings I mentioned above? I have the books still, but I never read them. Is it because they sound bad? No. It's more about lack of time and how I don't really get to read a lot of my own novels. I tried to change that more last year, but accepting less review books, but books still find a way of getting shoved aside. I still found attending the events/signings to be worth it, but it's just something I've noticed occurs with me. What about you?

There are also those signings where you get more than one author. This is awesome, but you can't surely buy all the author's books! I've been to a few "panel" type signings, and I like when you can approach the author you know/like and want to have them sign your book. I saw Liz Coley this way and her sign my copy of Pretty Girl- 13. There are other panels that make you go down the line to all the authors, and I feel weird not having a book for everyone. These tend to offer bookmarks or posters so they all sign something for you, so that's nice, but it's still sometimes a bit awkward. It doesn't mean I'm not interested in the author, but I don't always have a chance to read something by every author, nor the money to buy a book for them to all sign.

At the same time, there are sometimes author events or signings that make you want to read the author's work before going. This is true with Marissa Meyer and her Lunar Chronicles. She will be visiting the bookstore Joseph-Beth in Cincinnati, Ohio for a big event/book signing in honor of Fairest this Saturday, January 31 (anyone going?! I'll be there!) and I'd been meaning to read her books for a long time now. Knowing I could meet and have her sign one of my books, I decided to dive in and read the first three books out in the series. As I write this, I've finished Cinder and Scarlet, and have almost all of Cress finished (by the time you read this, I will have read them all), and I'm excited to have finally read these books. I loved them all and I'm very curious about Fairest. I'll have a  review coming up about the series so far, so I'll stop there. Basically, if I hadn't noticed Marissa Meyer was coming nearby, and I hadn't finally read her novels, I might not have attend the event and that would have been a shame.

Anyway, it's time to discuss! How do you approach author events? Any personal stories?

Friday, January 23, 2015

A Look Back at Blog World (3)

A Look Back at Blog World (3)

I'm afraid I don't have a ton of links this week, but hopefully you'll find some of these interesting! 

Publishers Weekly shares some pictures from the New Illustrated Version of Harry Potter. It will be released on October 6, 2015. I can't wait! 

Another Harry Potter post...this time from Buzzfeed. If Hermione Were the Main Character in "Harry Potter." I found this quite funny! 

Live.Love.Scrap shares something she's been doing for a few years...Save Your Memories in a Jar! She saved tickets, movie stubs, etc.

And finally, an interesting book-themed discussion post! Renae from Respiring Thoughts has a post called In Defense of Unhappy Endings. I actually like books with unhappy or sad endings. It often feels more realistic than wrapping everything up in a neat bow. Be sure to visit the post though and leave your thoughts!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Expiration Date by Duane Swierczynski

Expiration Date by Duane Swierczynski

Review by Lauren

Source: personal copy; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Mickey Wade is a recently-unemployed journalist who lucked into a rent-free apartment—his sick grandfather’s place. The only problem: it’s in a lousy neighborhood—the one where Mickey grew up, in fact. The one he was so desperate to escape.

But now he’s back. Dead broke. And just when he thinks he’s reached rock bottom, Mickey wakes up in the past. Literally.

At first he thinks it’s a dream. All of the stores he remembered from his childhood, the cars, the rumble of the elevated train. But as he digs deeper into the past, searching for answers about the grandfather he hardly knows, Mickey meets the twelve-year-old kid who lives in the apartment below.

The kid who will grow up to someday murder Mickey’s father.

Review: I read this book late last year, so this probably won't be a terribly long review with a lot of details. Regardless, this is a book that I often think back on and would be happy to re-read in the future. It's a fascinating story about a man who finds himself in the past after taking what he believes to be simple pain pills left in his grandfather's apartment. These pills, however, actually bring him into the past and while he tries to change some things for the better, he realizes that it's not that simple.

The mystery of Mickey's father's death and knowing in the summary that the little boy downstairs will eventually kill him definitely has you flipping the pages. I loved how past, present, and future all seem to collide on each other in the novel, adding suspense and surprises throughout. This book also includes black and white drawings randomly throughout the novel which was great. Perfect for people that love illustrated adult novels. It makes the book seem more gritty and noir, in a way.

The end of this book was surprising to me, and while it might not work for everyone, I really liked it. I thought it was interesting and fit the novel. I'm definitely curious about some of this author's other works now too!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Review: Texts from Jane Eyre

Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters by Mallory Ortberg

Review by Lauren

source: copy for review; all opinions are my own

Review: At the top of each new section is the name of an author, character, or book and from there, you are presented with text conversations between various characters or the main character and someone from "the outside" so to speak. This is a great book for people that are widely read- definitely those English or Literature majors. I was an English Lit major in undergraduate school, but there are still a lot of these books that I have not read. I could follow some of the conversations alright, but it was definitely more enjoyable when I knew what Ortberg was referencing in her texts. It's easy to see that she knows a lot about literature and can spoof it well.

The book focuses on a lot of classics like Pride and Prejudice, Moby Dick, John Keats, etc. but they also have books like The Outsiders and Harry Potter near the end. 

Here is an example page I found online (do not own) that showcased one of the text conversations I found particularly amusing:

Emily Dickinson was basically a hermit...

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Look Back at Blog World (2)

A Look Back at Blog World (2)

This is my second Look Back at Blog World and it's where I share some links I found searching online in the past week or two that I thought were worth sharing. I also answer any comments/questions on my posts that I figured needed a reply.

Books I'm Now Curious to Read

I saw a review for The Fairyland Murders at Must Read Faster. Please check out the review for more thoughts, but the blog really seemed to enjoy the book. I've been pretty interested in fairy tale type of reads lately, and this one sounds unique and interesting! The review is attached to the blog name above!

Debbie from the blog Bookish shared her thoughts on the book We'll Always Have Paris: a Mother/Daughter Memoir. I've been trying to read more memoirs lately, especially ones written by your regular, everyday people. I love that this book focuses on a mom and daughter. I'm curious about Europe, and Paris, so I think this would be a good choice for me. Again, the review is attached to the blog name above!

Interesting Posts in Blog World:

*The blog Life Anchored shared this cute DIY Birthday Basket Gift. I love the idea of gift baskets because they are fun and creative, but they don't have to be all that difficult to put together. If someone gave me a gift basket of items they love or thought I would really enjoy, I'd be very touched. It shows a bit more thought than just giving someone a single gift for their birthday, or other holiday.

*The website Slate shared an article (with pictures) about a photographer who takes a photo every time he sees someone reading a book on the Subway. The idea is that e-books and e-novels are taking over, so it's going to become more and more rare to see someone reading a physical book. I hate the idea that physical books aren't as popular, but I don't feel like they will completely disappear. Regardless, I loved this article!

*Baby Loving Mama shared a fun Edible Rainbow Kids Activity. I love that you could use this as a decoration for a party too. She notes that if you want your child to be able to eat this, then doing so soon after creating would be best or the cereal will go stale!  (The photo above belongs to the blog, Baby Loving Mama).

Your Questions Answered:

I had a Waiting on Wednesday post about The Connicle Curse: 

Someone commented about not quite knowing if the book was historical fiction or not. It is, it takes place in turn-of-the-century London and is described as a historical mystery series.You can visit this link to learn more about the series. 

My Into the Woods review: Someone commented about Johnny Depp and his ability to sing, so I thought I would share a video from the movie version of the musical, Sweeney Todd, where Depp plays the title character. His singing voice is very similar to his role as the Wolf in Into the Woods.