Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Review: The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

The Near Witch (The Near Witch)
 Grad Student here, reporting on my latest read, The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab. Ignore that cover, since it is totally unrelated, and lets get into it.

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.
If the wind calls at night, you must not listen.
The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.
And there are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true. The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him. As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi's need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy (Good Reads).

Originality: 6. This is a ghost story about a spurned witch. It squeeks over the mediocre been-there-done-that by having a really evocative setting—the wild, windy moor.
Absurdity: 2. The horror element is soft but well-done. The magic is earthy and not overwrought. No need to say SERIOUSLY YOUR MAGIC MADE THE CAROUSEL IN CENTRAL PARK COME ALIVE!?! (eye roll to the Wondrous Strange series (review))
Level of Paranormal Romance: 7. Did a strong female lead with a taste for magic fall in love with a mysterious loner dude who most likely has magical powers? Check. Did they quickly progress to small kisses on the neck? Yes. So paranormal and a tiny bit of insta-love. (Don’t get me wrong, Cole is fairly dreamy, but I am calling it like it is).
Level of Harry Potter-ness: 5. This book has POTENTIAL. The great creepy setting of rolling moors and malevolent wind, children going missing—this could have been a scary page-turner. I can’t put my finger on why, but I was not pulled in. Nonetheless, the tight lyrical quality of the prose was a nice literary change of pace compared to other YA paranormal reads.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Review: Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Here is Crazy Camper's review of  Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement Moore!

First of all, thank goodness for the Nook on this cover/ at the same time I totally selected this from the library webpage based on its cover...even though it has ZERO ZILTCH to do with the book. Maybe that white thing is the ghost?  But to me, Amy was way more spunky then that silly looking red-head on the cover.

From Good Reads: Amy Goodnight's family is far from normal. She comes from a line of witches, but tries her best to stay far outside the family business. Her summer gig? Ranch-sitting for her aunt with her wacky but beautiful sister. Only the Goodnight Ranch is even less normal than it normally is. Bodies are being discovered, a ghost is on the prowl, and everywhere she turns, the hot neighbor cowboy is in her face.

Hot neighbor cowboy? Witches? Ghosts? Don't mind if I do..
  • Originality: 7 - It is not everyday that witches meet cowboys to face a ghost.  While the ghosts and witches are not super original, I loved the Goodnight family and how their powers fit into modern science and everyday life.  Shampoo that clears your head?  I could definitely use some of that in the mornings (maybe I wouldn't have missed the highway exit for work this morning, or left my headphones at home...)
  • Absurdity: 6 - Amy manages, by mistake, to attach her self to a ghost who is less then pleasant and her and her sister work to figure it out.  Should this be absurd? Yes.  But for some reason, I had no problem with it, probably because I wish my family had these sorts of powers.  From page one, I was on board.
  • Level of Paranormal Romance: 4 -Romance, yes, paranormal, not really.  There is a moment of fear that a love spell has been invoked, but SPOILER ALERT, don't worry, that hunky cowboy just really does like Amy.  phew.  Nothing better then many descriptions of hot cowboys sweating in the Texas sun, jumping on horses and pulling girls to their feet.  Who doesn't like cowboys, really.
  • Level of Harry Potterness: 5. Pretty average all around.  I managed to read most of this on a rainy Saturday afternoon and happily cruised through easy reading.
All in all, one of my more favorite books in a while. Can't quite put my finger on it, but I think again it might be the cowboys...

ADDENDUM FROM GRAD STUDENT: I read this this week, too! LOVED IT. It was very funny I thought. I loved the sassy Nancy Drew references. We were big fans of the girl detective growing up. And the setting in Texas Hill Country makes me want to go there and find myself a cowboy. I would add 9.5 points to the level of romance grade here because Ben McCulloch makes an excellent swoon-worthy love interest.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Review: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Gosh, Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris isn't really YAF either, but please indulge me - I'll be done soon. I just finished Partials!

Anyhooze, people who have more money than I do (or who are more willing to spend it on premium cable than I am) often rave about True Blood and how great the HBO series is. About 3 years ago, my friend lent me his DVD of the first season and I think I watched it over one weekend - it was great (albeit, not PG!).

In addition, Grad Student and Mama Pajama have also been crusin' through this series for a long time as new books become available, so I decided I needed to pick this up (let's be honest, there was no wait list at NPYL.org, so I snapped it up!). That, my friends, was a good choice!
  • Originality: 8 - Based on the first book, there is a LOT that happens in this series - almost every paranormal instance (shapeshifters, vampires, mind reading - shall I go on?) is thrown in. And you know what? Why not - if you're going to paranormal, you may as well go all in!
  • Absurdity: 8 - Gosh, there is a lot of absurdity that happens just in the first book (also, seeing all the story lines that weave their way in and out of the first season of True Blood helps reinforce this point!), so I'm ranking it pretty high. That being said, I think that within the the grand scheme of the series, this is probably the most normal book, so I may have to lower it once I read a few more!
  • Level of Paranormal Romance: 7 - It's romantic, I guess, but not really PG. Sukkeh and Bielllll  - what's not to love (although I can't picture anyone but Anna Paquin and Steven Moyer in the role and I don't know if that's a good thing!)?!
  • Level of Harry Potterness: 4.5 - Not the best or worst-written book I've ever read (how's that for vague??) but I liked it and was legitimately obsessed with reading it, so all in all, I'd recommend!
Don't worry - up next a bunch of actual YAF for the blog. Thanks for bearing with me!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: In Two Parts, Global Edition

Happy Wednesday! First off, thanks to Breaking the Spine for hosting Waiting on Wednesday, a weekly meme devoted to upcoming releases we cannot wait to read. Today's edition is a joint project! But Crazy Camper really needs to find a friend across the globe...

Mind Games (Mind Games, #1)
Grad Student:
I love Evie from 's paranormal series, but I have a feeling her new book Mind Games is going to be even more up my alley.

Fia was born with flawless instincts. Her first impulse, her gut feeling, is always exactly right. Her sister, Annie, is blind to the world around her—except when her mind is gripped by strange visions of the future. Trapped in a school that uses girls with extraordinary powers as tools for corporate espionage, Annie and Fia are forced to choose over and over between using their abilities in twisted, unthinkable ways…or risking each other’s lives by refusing to obey.

In a stunning departure from her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy, Kiersten White delivers a slick, edgy, heartstoppingly intense psychological thriller about two sisters determined to protect each other—no matter the cost.

Crazy Camper:
This week's WoW follows YAF&WS's posts on the Iron Witch and The Wood Queen by Karen Mahoney.  While the third book in this trilogy doesn't come till NEXT SPRING (womp womp), Mahoney's newest book Falling to Ash comes out this fall, and in the meantime, I will be happily reading this one, that is if someone from the UK, Australia or New Zealand sends it my way. WHY NO U.S .PUBLICATION, WORLD!?
You can’t choose your family... living or dead. Trapped between two very different worlds, newly made vampire Moth is struggling to find her place in either. Not only does she have to answer to her strict Irish-Catholic Dad, but her over-protective maker, Theo, is intent on making her the star attraction in his powerful Boston vampire clan. Moth will have to pull off the double-act of the century to please both of them...

Adding to her problems is the dangerously attractive Jason Murdoch, a trainee vampire hunter who loves to play cat and mouse in his spare time (Jace = cat; Moth = mouse). But when the teenagers of Boston’s wealthiest families start to disappear, it forces Moth and Jace into an uneasy truce. Will they be able to solve the mystery behind the disappearances—before someone winds up undead? (Good Reads)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: A Whole New World...

Matched (Matched, #1)Today's TTT is dedicated to the top ten most vivid worlds/settings in books. This prompt meant that we had to explain to Goosie Mama what world building is. CLEARLY she did not read enough sci-fi as a young adult herself (cough cough, Crazy Camper and Grad Student certainly did, please see the epic-ness that is Ann McCaffery below).

1. Lani Taylor's alternate universe/portals with human/beasts in Daughter of Smoke and Bone
 For Darkness Shows the Stars.
All the Weyrs of Pern (Pern, #11)3 & 4. Anne McCaffery's singer/rock miner in space in The Crystal Singer AND the dragon-filled future world (which people got to on spaceships) of Pern where Thread falls from the sky like a terrible acid rain. There is also time travel. Whhaaatttttt. But it is all soooo intricate you can't help believe.
5. Rosemary Clement-Moore's Texas Gothic,"world where good intentioned family magic over a long period of time builds a protective sphere around your house -- something about generations of family magic protection I love!" -Crazy Camper (review coming soon).
6. Ali Condi's dystopian world of Matched and Crossed. Not a world you would want to live in, BUT the whole 100 songs, 100 stories, 100 paintings culture control is a well thought-out dystopian.
7. Lisa Mantchev's Théâtre Illuminata  from her series by the same name. A theater where every character ever  written for the stage exists! A book that, when you write in it, shapes the world around you! The details really make this world, like when Ophelia always shows up in water sets (as we know, she drowns herself in Hamlet)

A big thanks to The Broke and the Bookish for hosting this weekly meme. Share your TTT below! 
Crystal Singer (Crystal Singer, #1)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Review: 50 Shades of - No, seriously, how did this get a book deal?!

Well, awhile back Grad Student and I decided that although this blog is dedicated to YAF, we had to do a review of the epically over-hyped 50 Shades of Grey by E. L. James.

There have been a few times in my book-reading career that I've started a book that everyone is talking about, didn't really get it, almost put it down, but ultimately pushed through and finished. In rare instances (I'm looking at you, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) I got into the books more and more as I continued on and by the end was certifiably obsessed. That being said, this experience is definitely the exception to the rule and most of the time, well, when you feel you have force yourself to read something, you should probably just cut your losses (and re-read Harry Potter).

One of those series where I was just plain stupified was the oft-pined about Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. Truth be told, I never finished the last book because I was so bored and it was getting so weird. I'm sorry, but if I birth out a baby with a full set of chompers and then she has the audacity to "imprint" on a 20-year-old at age 2 or whatever, I don't know...you've just lost me, amiright??

So then, you take Twilight, a series that isn't very well done in the first place, and layer in some weird kink and now E.L. James is making $1.3 million a week? My goodness, there are no words!

Grad Student can attest, but I'm dug my way through this Grade A Waste-o-Time over Memorial Day weekend. I think I kept reading because I wanted to get to "the part" that could explain to me why people were so obsessed with this book. If you're wondering, there was no part, but I begrudgingly finished the book.

So with that I leave you with what I can only describe as exactly how I felt throughout the entire read:

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Review: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

In a future world, vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity."Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of "them." The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked--and given the ultimate choice. Die...or become one of the monsters. Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend--a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike. But it isn't easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what--and who--is worth dying for

The best part of reading The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1) by Julie Kagawa was how much I liked the main character. She was never stupid, never all "oh, what me, I am special?” She was above that, trying to survive. PLUS her struggle between being a vampire and holding on to her humanity was riveting.
  • Originality: 6. Outside the wall definitely made me think of The Road by Cormac McCarthy mashed with I Am Legend mashed with a general coming of age story. While the setup was derivative, this was not a deal breaker! The Immortal Rules comes out with a 6 for giving us a vamp’s POV.
  • Absurdity: 2. I liked the world building a lot and bought the whole vampire-controlled world. The only thing that felt ridiculous was Allie’s evil vampire nemesis.
  • Level of Paranormal Romance: 4. Hello, vampire and forbid human love! I have missed you as a trope in my YA fiction! I liked Zeke but didn’t feel like there was enough substance behind his feelings for Allie. Maybe he liked her most because she was the new girl? His little group wasn't exactly brimming with potential love interests.
  • Level of Harry Potterness: 3. As Goosie Mama might say, I am not reading this for it’s literary sophistication. The Immortal Rules is completely plot driven--but it was a fun ride.
 Did I mention the cool final scene? Allie’s character might be a bit predictable but she is bad-ass nonetheless less. Kagawa leaves us wanting to know more on two plot lines while avoiding annoying cliffhangers. Yay! Bring on the sequel. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Liebster love!

Young Adult Fiction and Whiskey Sours has been tagged with the Liebster Blog Award by Lil' Rae of Sunshine. (Full disclosure, Carissa Taylor, another great blog, tagged us earlier this spring, but we were too unhip to really get the gist of it!) So thanks to both blogs! We now understand that the Liebster Award is for bloggers with less than 200 followers. Award winners share 11 facts about themselves, answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who tagged them, come up with 11 of their own questions and tag 11 more bloggers with the award.

Questions For YAF and WS
1. How do you mark your place in a book? A real bookmark, scrap of paper, dog-earring the page?
Crazy Camper: Postcards, cards! Grad Student sends lots of mail.
Goosie Mama: I can usually tell by the amount of animal hair (I have a zoo) on the last read page :-X

2. Do you judge a book by it's cover?
Grad Student: YES, ABSOLUTELY, YES. 
Goosie Mama: Co-sign that!

3. Do you have any quirky reading habits?
Grad Student. I randomly skim through a book I am reading and 'read ahead" but usually it doesn't give me much, since I have no idea what is going on. Sometimes I am hoping to find a romance scene GAH! but its true
Goosie Mama: I "anxiety read" when I know I have a book that's about to expire and I Have. To. Finish. It's a combo of skimming, nail biting, re-reading because I've skimmed and I forgot what happens, and, finally, just skipping to the end.

4. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? And why?
We are big, big fans of Newport, Rhode Island. Lots of history, beaches, and great bars!

5. Do you use any of the social networking sites for readers (like Goodreads or Shelfari)? Love it or hate it?
Just double the girl in green, and its like CC is here!
Goodreads! Like!

6. What's a book that you were really looking forward to, but it under delivered? 
Each and every Twilight book

What book surprised you with it's awesomeness? 
Goosie Mama: Divergent by Veronica Roth!

7. Do you have any hobbies outside of reading?
Crazy Camper: I have been Rock climbing for five years! I love camping, climbing, and anything that involves puffy coats.
Goosie Mama: I'm a founding member of the Big Apple Pittie Pack, a dog walking club that fosters controlled, pack-oriented, on-leash socialization for dogs of every kind!
Grad Student: I am working on my party dress collection. And making the most of all of the restaurants in the East Village (failing at the restaurants, doing great with party dresses) --NOTE, CC loves party dresses too, but has a harder time incorporating them in life as people seem to stare at formal wear in the backcountry.
O Hey girls! Love, from West VA

8. What is your fondest book memory? 
Goosie Mama: Buying the second Harry Potter at the Ithaca Barnes and Noble and smelling the brand new pages (creepy, I know!).
Grad Student: The fun I get out of this blog with these fine ladies is up there! Oh, and the emails I exchanged with Alysia Gray Painter. She is fabulous and funny in any written format.

9. What are you reading now?
Crazy Camper: Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Goosie Mama: Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Grad Student: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

10. What's your favorite book genre?
Crazy Camper:  Paranormal romance! 
Goosie Mama: Child Psychic Romance!!

11. Pretend you meet a genie and he gives you three wishes (standard genie rule - you can't wish for more wishes): what would they be?
Crazy camper: Teleportation! 
Goosie Mama: Omg, such a good one! I would say disapporation a la Harry Potter too! A life of happiness and maybe a brainwashed Ryan Gosling who thinks I'm the Beatrice Prior to his Tobias? :)
Grad Student: telekinesis. It is not fair that Crazy Camper and I are twins and can't mind-meld.

Facts about YAF and WS:
1. We spend a lot of time telling each other how funny we think their reviews are
2. Crazy Camper and Grad Student are TWINS
3. Goosie Mama and Grad Student are sorority sisters
4. Crazy Camper likes to tease GM and GS about being sorority sisters, but she is excellent at the sorority squat in group photos
5. Crazy Camper lives in DC in what could be the cutest studio apartment ever and went through a serious head scarf phase (before coming to work in the corporate world, mind you)
6. Goosie Mama and Grad Student are members of the Preservation Society of Newport, R
7. Crazy Camper and Grad Student are members of a cooking club that shares recipes. Goosie Mama has refused to show interest and claims she is very happy eating eggs, veggies, and pasta on rotation.
8. Goosie Mama has a dog and two cats
9. Grad Student does not trust said cats (On principal, neither Does CC- blame their mother Mama Pajama)
10. Grad Student consistently breaks the library rules at school and eats in the stacks and makes notations in her books
11. None of use would ever say no to a bottle of Skinny Girl
11.5 Sweet Tea, the elusive 4th member of the blog, has never posted, always claims she will, but is still well loved by all involved

MORE LIEBSTER FUN AFTER THE JUMP- our picks and our questions-- read on!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Review: The Wood Queen by Karen Mahoney

Last week I posted on the Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney and its page turning capabilities.  Well I threw myself headlong into the sequel, The Wood Queen.

Donna Underwood is in deep trouble. An ancient alchemical order is holding her accountable for destroying the last precious drops of the elixar of life. Never mind the fact that Donna was acting to free her friend, Navin, from the dangerous clutches of the Wood Queen at the time. But what the alchemists have in store is nothing compared to the wrath of the fey. The Wood Queen has been tricked and Donna must pay. Get ready for all hell - quite literally - to break loose... (Good Reads)

Originality - 4.5.  As for all sequels, originality lacks some, but the introduction of past relationship-ish half human girls, a trial, and continued sneakinh around in the woods, Donna kept me guessing.

Absurdity - 7. Again, things got WONKY, and the ending? Spring 2013 needs to come soon because things. got. real.

Level of Paranormal Romance -9.  Continued mushy high-school texting and hand holding soul mates, jazzed up with a serving of LUST.  It must be all my YA reading, but things got spicy, and I liked it. Goosie Mama, in about three pages I am willing to bet that Xan was hotter then anything that happened in Shades of Grey.....there is stroking of tousled hair, trembling knees and deep kisses.

Level of Harry Potter-ness - 6. Donna HAS the power, but there is so much more to her world of magic then she ever knew.  Things get more complicated, more mysterious, more magical and with more serious consequences, and all of a sudden, people are not who they seem..
Seriously, is it spring 2013 yet?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Review: Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

I won't be ranking this one with our normal categories, because, my friends, I think this one is outlier - nothing paranormal or romantic, but a solid YAF read!

I guess I always felt even if the world came to an end, McDonald’s still would be open.

High school sophomore Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when an asteroid knocks the moon closer to Earth, the way “one marble hits another.” The result is catastrophic. How can her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis are wiping out the coasts, earthquakes are rocking the continents, and volcanic ash is blocking out the sun? As August turns dark and wintry in northeastern Pennsylvania, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.

Told in a year’s worth of journal entries, this heart-pounding story chronicles Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all—hope—in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world. 

I picked up this book as it had won numerous awards and was looking for a little break from zombies (sigh, Bram from Dearly Departed was still on my mind!). While it was definitely well-written it was one heck of a Debbie Downer! It was almost too real in the sense that there was nothing paranormal (besides an asteroid hitting the moon and throwing everything off-kilter) - this actually happening isn't likely, but definitely isn't outside the realm of possibility either.

As the synopsis suggests, the book is written in diary form with Miranda describing the year after the world irreparably changed. It's pretty dark, but I think any story about survival at the end of the world inevitably would be. 

Also, apparently this is a series (what isn't?!) so I couldn't help myself but to include the trailer, because, you know, all the cool kids are doing it! I don't know that I would read the other two books - like I said, it's scary at some points, but I think it is well-written enough to recommend to someone who wanted a more serious book.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

PEOPLE BIG NEWS. This Waiting on Wednesday is a book I can actually be seen in public with! WHAT!?!  Look at that non-embarrassing cover.  Not to mention Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan, due out this fall, sounds awesome. Secrets, paranormal talents, and unrequited romance. Done and done.

Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy, #1)

Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?  (Good Reads)

As always, a shout out to Breaking the Spine for hosting Waiting on Wednesday, a weekly meme that highlights upcoming releases. And I THINK I owe a cheers of my whiskey sour to the great Fake Steph Dot Com for having first featured this read. Steph, is this true? If not, I am still giving you credit, since I always get great ideas from your TBR :-).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: If you liked Graceling by Kristin Cashore, you will love....

For the love of YA, read
these books!
This Top Ten Tuesday is a list of suggestions for those of you who like strong, kick-ass female characters! If you liked Graceling by Kristin Cashore, then these books are for you! (we know Katniss isn't on this list, but you already know she kicks butt).

1.Alanna from The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce.  First female knight. 'Nough said. OUR ORIGINAL favorite strong female lead.
2.Anna from Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake. She can rip off a person's head. And does.
3. Dru from Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow. She spends most of this series in fights. And she says "Better to be strong than pretty and useless.” 
4.Frankie from The Disreputable History of Frankie Laudau-Banks by E. Lockhart. Criminal mastermind and rule breaker.
5. Ellie from Tomorrow When the War Began by James Marsden.When Australia is invaded my an enemy nation Ellie fights back as a gorilla warrior. I have read the first two, and they are gritty and awesome.
6. Allie from The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa. Vampire powers to kick butt.
7. Puck from The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. She loves to be terrible and grumpy, but is also strong and determined to save her family.
8. Donna from the Iron Witch series by Karen Mahoney
9. Sookie from the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris. She will non-nonsense you, throw you out of her house, or kill you with an iron trowel (if you mess with her tanning time.)
10. Heromine from the Harry Potter Series. Smarts can be kickass, too!
BONUS 11. Elisa from The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson wins most improved. By the end, she is totally invading-enemy-camps badass. Take that early shy wishy-washy Elisa!

Ellie being badass
 A cheers of our Whiskey Sours to The Broke and the Bookish for hosting Top Ten Tuesdays!

Want to know more about why we love these ladies? See our reviews for Graceling, Anna Dressed in Blood, The Disreputable History of Frankie Laudau-Banks, The Iron WitchThe Scorpio Races, Strange Angels, and The Girl of Fire and Thorns!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Review: The Lost Code by Kevin Emerson

In The Lost Code (The Atlanteans #1) by Kevin Emerson the ozone is ravaged, ocean levels have risen, and the sun is a daily enemy. People either live underground, in biodomes, or the remaining habitable climate zones. Those unfortunate enough to be denied access are nomads, ranging across the growing desert, vicitim to the sun. But global climate change is not something new in the Earth's history. And Owen Parker learns this….at summer camp in a fancy biodome.

This book starts off with a bang! “The morning after I arrived at Camp Eden, I drowned for the first time.” Without spoilers, it turns out O is a descendant of a highly advanced ancient race that almost destroyed the earth by messing with climate patterns. ( I had hoped the 'big reveal' about Owens realization would happen faster page-wise but still I was pleased we didn't beat around the paranormal bush too long. I mean the wounds on his neck? Saw that coming a mile away.) Owen and his camp friends discover a remarkable common genetic trait that leads to a race to unlock the lost code in his very genes and stop the bad buys from further messing with the climate.
  • Originality: 7. I agree that this is a grimly plausible dystopian future, and I liked the sci-fi elements of climate change and the biodomes the best. I think I would have liked this book more if it were a pure dystopian novel. But it also involves ancient civilizations, magical sirens, secret labs, and genetic mutations. The ancient ruins magic component--note the series title--was a bit corny at times. 
  • Absurdity: 10 +. I think the best way to prove this top grade is to quote the author’s note: any book that involves kids with genetic mutations* at a summer camp full of robotic butterflies inside a dome that sits atop a ten-thousand year-old temple is probably a work of fiction”. Things got cray-cray!
  • Level of Paranormal Romance: 2. I totally liked Owen our narrator but didn't find him dreamy. But I imagine most camp romances are based on minimal foundations, so at least that seems realistic.
  • Level of Harry-Potterness. 5. This is middling YA writing. However, the dystopian world and science made this book stand out. The sci-fi component reminded me of Beth Revis’s Across the Universe but here I found it more interesting. A win for Emerson!
Overall, this was a fun read- sign me up for book two!
*word change to avoid spoiler. You’re welcome, spoiler haters!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Stacking the Shelves: Browsing the YA shelves

Happy Saturday! Happy Stacking the Shelves, hosted by Tygna's Reviews (and the adorable baby Lilly-Ann)! Today at YAF and WS we are highlighting not-so-new YA books we recently picked up from the libraries of NYC and DC, respectively. ARCS are fun, but so is perusing the shelves. Hope you have something fun to read this weekend!

Grad Student: Yahoo for uber-fluff summer reads!
Megan Meade's Guide to the McGowan BoysWhen she was nine, Megan Meade met a group of terrible, mean, Popsicle-goo-covered boys, the sons of her father's friend -- the McGowan boys. Now, seven years later, Megan's army doctor parents are shipping off to Korea and Megan is being sent to live with the little monsters, who are older now and quite different than she remembered them. Living in a house with seven boys will give Megan, who has never even been kissed, the perfect opportunity to learn everything there is to know about boys. And she'll send all her notes to her best friend, Tracy, in... Megan Meade's Guide to the McGowan Boys.
Observation #1: Being an army brat sucks. Except that this is definitely a better alternative to moving to Korea. Observation #2: Forget evil, laughing, little monsters. These guys have been touched by the Abercrombie gods. They are a blur of toned, suntanned perfection.
Observation #3: I need a lock on my door. STAT.
Observation #4: Three words: six-pack abs.
Observation #5: Do not even get me started on the state of the bathroom. I'm thinking of calling in a hazmat team. Seriously.
Observation #6: These boys know how to make enemies. Big time. Megan Meade will have to juggle a new school, a new family, a new crush -- on the boy next door, as in next bedroom door -- and a new life. Will she survive the McGowan boys?
Crazy Camper: Southern picks, y'all!
Virals (Virals #1)Texas Gothic

Virals by Kathy Reichs is a murder mystery and secret government science experiments combined with high-school best friends who become shifters. Set in Charleston, SC! In Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore a southern family of witches, summer ranch jobs, ghosts and murders combine. CC explained this in two words: "cowboys and witches."What is not to like?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Review: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Disclaimer: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling is not young adult fiction, but lovely just the same!
Disclaimer 2: I often have the same fear as the title of this book!

I am a big fan of strong, smart and funny women (aren't we all?!). Gals like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Kristin Wiig, Melissa McCarthy and Mindy Kaling are some of my favorites as they've infiltrated a traditionally male-dominated field (television and movie comedy), are amazingly successful and aren't afraid to take names.

Tina Fey's Bossypants was equal parts funny and insightful. Mindy's stab at this genre was just as sweet and I would highly recommend for a quick and hilarious book. Not to mention, for all of you The Office fans out there, there are a bunch of funny, behind-the-scenes stories in here.

Grad Student, Mindy is, much like you, a Consumer of Epic Proportions. I think I may have found you a kindred spirit in this one! :)

(NOTE FROM GS: But does she consume primarily neon pick in Epic Proportions? These are the big questions of life....)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Review: The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney

Because Grad Student is the best, she loaned me The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney when we recently met up for a beach weekend/wedding, and I subsequently devoured it.

Good Reads says:
Freak. That's what her classmates call seventeen-year-old Donna Underwood. When she was seven, a horrific fey attack killed her father and drove her mother mad. Donna's own nearly fatal injuries from the assault were fixed by magic—the iron tattoos branding her hands and arms. The child of alchemists, Donna feels cursed by the magical heritage that destroyed her parents and any chance she had for a normal life. The only thing that keeps her sane and grounded is her relationship with her best friend, Navin Sharma.

When the darkest outcasts of Faerie—the vicious wood elves—abduct Navin, Donna finally has to accept her role in the centuries old war between the humans and the fey. Assisted by Xan, a gorgeous half-fey dropout with secrets of his own, Donna races to save her friend—even if it means betraying everything her parents and the alchemist community fought to the death to protect.

A great easy read and perfect welcome back to YA fiction for this girl.  I couldn't put it down for the following reasons:
  1. Originality - 7.  Considering we start the book with a pretty but outcast high school girl unsure of her true powers (sound familiar?) this book gets a high originality score.  Mysterious secret Orders, crazy moving metal tattoos, Faeries, bat-crazy banished wood elves, alchemy and the elixir of life, it is all here.   
  2. Absurdity - 7. See above list of characters.  This book has it all, with a hint of engrossing teenage love, mixing of myths, undertones of orphan-ism/family issues, and deep secrets, all rolled into an industrial town somewhere in New York.
  3. Level of Paranormal Romance -8.  Daughter of famous alchemists falls for dreamy half-Faerie boy, both with some secret superhuman strength and speed issues = soul mates.  And his nick name is Xan, short for Alexander, and he is beyond sweet, o yeah, and rich and drives a Volvo.  Cue swooning girls (or least I would have swooned as a teenager, the Volvo sealed the deal).
  4. Level of Harry Potter-ness - 5. Donna has the power I think, but hasn't unleashed it.  In book 2, The Wood Queen, I anticipate more powers and more magic.  For now, Xan does his best to beat up wood elves with his half magic that he is o so secretive about.  (I have already started book two, so soon, we will know!)
Text Photo I Sent Grad Student at 5:17 after work last night...the best kind of night when it is 100+
degrees outside and you're sunburned from the weekend.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

This Waiting on Wednesday is dedicated to a Faery book. (I know I keep swearing off Faery books because they tend to make me crazy. But I lost my gumption when I read The Immortal Rules and the first chapter of this book was previewed. Hook, line, and sinker.) A warm YAF & WS welcome to The Lost Prince (Call of the Forgotten #1) by Julie Kagawa.
GAH! bad news bears cover!

Don't look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them. That is Ethan Chase's unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he's dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister's world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myths and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten. My name is Ethan Chase. And I may not live to see my eighteenth birthday. (Good Reads)

I'm sorry, but I am not sorry! I can't help but love to hate the Iron Fey books. (see my post on the series to get a handle on how ridiculous they are. Faery princes at PROM). But I will not be caught dead in public with this cover. It looks like a teen romance-novel AND I am too old for this teeniebopper AND I don't want to come off as a creeper on the subway. This will be read on my Nook fo sho.

Cheers to Jill at Breaking the Spine for hosting this weekly meme spotlighting upcoming releases!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

NPR and YAF & WS: We are all excited for "Shadow of Night" Deborah Harkness

Referred to as ""Harry Potter for intellectuals", we here at YAF & WS loved Deborah Harkness's A Discovery of Witches (review here)  and have waited for the sequel, Shadow of Night to come out.

And that time has come.  NPR's article "'Witches' Sequal Casts a Complex Spell' further excites us AND includes a link to read a section of the book, Chapter 1!

Everyone: Go forth and read!

Top Ten Tuesday: Places We Want to Go (And Dont!)

A cheers of our whiskey sour to The Broke and the Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday In honor of this week's TTT choose-your-own-adventure, here is YA & WS's top ten places we would like to visit/would never be caught dead in from the books we read:

Let's start with the "Classics":
1. Narnia: Grad Student is afraid to go here, but I would love to escape through a wardrobe to a magical forest or beach, just preferably not during one of the wars.

Hogwarts, yes please.
2. Hogwarts:  Does this even need a reason why?  And even though Disney now makes this a reality, I am sure the one in my imagine is better (and alot cheaper) and with alot less fast food and marketing.

3. Pern: Crazy Camper and Grad Student were enormous Ann McCaffery fans growing up. E-NOR-MOUS.  I dont know if i can emphasize this enough.  I would take the High Reaches, or the Southern Continent, Ruatha (during Jackson's time, not Lessa's)... really, plop us down anywhere. And also give me a dragon. thanksosmuch.

Recently Discovered Places to Visit
4. Lani Taylor's world in Daughter of Smoke and Bone: Grad Student would like to travel through the portals and go anywhere in the world on a whim, as well as the alternative world

5. The Summer Court of Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series: Grad Student would like to hang out with Puck and Grimalkin!  Yes, she is picking her worlds based on boys here... (GS edit: Grimalkin is a CAT...geez, and you read some of these)

6. Westeros of George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones series: I would love to see the Great White Wall. Also, a dragon would be nice here, too.

7. The Night Circus of Erin Morgenstern's book by the same title.  So beautiful to read about! (GS's review)

8. New Beijing from Cinder by Marissa Meyer: The cool sci-fi future to have a fun robot friend (this probably stems from Grad Student's love of the noises R2D2 makes. (beep bop beep!)

9. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children from Ransom Rigg's book by the same title: Goosie Mama says "It would be like an idyllic circus slash fountain of youth since you don't age. Plus, maybe some of the peculiarities would rub off on you and you'd, I don't know, develop x-ray vision or something amazing like that?"
A gimmicky shot at the end

10. Sookie Stackhouse's hometown of Bon Temps, LA:  mostly would want to visit here in the off chance that Jason was in town doing some character research for True Blood. Also,  Goosie Mama has never been to Louisiana, but a place with shapeshifters, vampires, mind readers, fairies, etc. wouldn't be a half bad place to start she thinks!

And, last but not least....

Places to Avoid
1. East Meadow (both present day or as it exists in Partials by Dan Wells) Gah! Long Island!

1. Swamplandia (read Goosie Mama's review, in her own words, "nuff said")

3. Post-apocolyptic Chicago a la Divergent by Veronica Roth (jump from the El to the roof of the building?? Sounds risky)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Another sigh-inducing, lovely, wonderful book.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children has been mentioned on this site before, but I just had to put in my own two cents because it was hauntingly fantastic.

So, just to review: A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

  • Originality:  9 - This book was a unique premise, with amazing (apparently real?!) photography sprinkled in throughout and every loose end tied up. It was a breath of fresh air after some less than stellar reads!
  • Absurdity: 7 - If I think about the fact that I could travel to a remote island by plane and then boat, then walk a few miles, climb through a conch shell-type thingy and come out in the same day in the 1940s surrounding by children that sound like they could have made up the most amazing circus side show ever, then yes, I would consider this plot line slightly absurd. Plus, did we talk about the author's name being Ransom Riggs? That sounds absurd - but his writing is so badass, eventually you don't care!
  • Level of Paranormal Romance: 8 - I think the relationship between Jacob and Emma (who'd previously been in love with his grandfather) is just so sweet and heartbreaking. Not too mushy, but awkwardly real, I loved them!
  • Level of Harry Potterness:  9 - This book is so well written, at points, I found myself smiling because there was a great turn of phrase. Can't beat that!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Review: A Beautiful Evil by Kelly Keaton

I have finally bitten the bullet and forced myself to review A Beautiful Evil by Kelly Keaton.  Here is the lowdown on  book two of the Gods & Monsters series: 

A Beautiful Evil (Gods & Monsters, #2)

Myth and mayhem inhabit a richly reimagined New Orleans in this sequel to Darkness Becomes Her.After the epic graveyard battle at the end of Darkness Becomes Her, Ari and her friends know what they’re up against: Ari is facing the Medusa curse and is haunted by the image of what she will become. To make matters worse, the heinous goddess Athena has kidnapped young Violet and is threatening to destroy Ari. Ari, along with the superhot Sebastian, is doing everything she can to learn more about Athena and to get Violet back. But the battle of good and evil is bigger than she realizes, and she’s about to be pulled into a world more horrific than she could ever imagine (Good Reads)

People, I want to say this was as good as the first one (or at least as middle of the road as the first one-- see my review of Darkness Becomes Her) but....

Level of Originality: 5. I still like New 2, the cool post-apocalyptic version of New Orleans which is all decay and Spanish moss with a bit of kids-forced-to-fend-for-themselves.
Level of Absurdity: 10. Witches and vampires and greek gods, oh my! This is a paranormal/magic blender.
Level of Paranormal Romance: 9. “the superhot Sebastian.” GAG. That is actually in the book blurb. I DIE. 1. Sebastian doesn’t seem super hot. He seems like cold oatmeal-- filling, but mostly sticky and boring. 2. There is nothing very romantic about this ‘romance.’ But I give the relationship a 9, since he is a witch/vampire and she is the daughter of a man created by Athena and a gorgon (aka medusa head). THAT is a paranormal couple.
Level of Harry Potterness: 2. The Novem, the borderline-bad-guy supernatural families that run New 2, fizz rather than spark.The same goes for Athena. Without scary bad guys or any real investment in these kiddos, It is hard to root for Ari. New 2 is so cool, but there is so much is beige in the plot! I cannot report on the climactic scene, since I found no evidence of a story arc here.  Hermione Granger would not stand for this shiz.

To conclude, this quote sums up my feelings on this series: "I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?"

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Review: Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting

So, remember that time I told you that Teen Mom is number one in my DVR priority list only because Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal is no longer on the air? Well, naturally, I had to keep on cruising through The Body Finder series by Kimberly Derting to fill the empty void that is my life DVR.

In Book 2, here's where we are with Violet and Jay:

The missing dead call to Violet. They want to be found.

Violet can sense the echoes of those who've been murdered—and the matching imprint that clings to their killers. Her best-friend-turned-boyfriend, Jay, is the only one outside of her family who knows of her morbid ability. But when Violet discovers the body of a missing boy, she draws the attention of the FBI.

As Violet dodges their questions, she is pulled into an investigation that will endanger more than just her secret. For without even meaning to, Violet has stumbled upon a dark truth—and a desperate killer.

But seriously, friends, can we talk? When did books start having trailers? Is this new? I feel old. I mean, this trailer looks to have been filmed with the same quality as Twilight, or at the very least the Call Me Maybe video, let's be real.

  • Originality: 6 - This book is just a very slight adjustment on the premise of Book 1 with a whole lot more lovin', so I took it down a point. Still, I really liked these books - although Violet doesn't really embrace her unique talents and individuality, she's still a bit more self-assured than your average YA fiction herione.
  • Absurdity: 7 - do you see rainbow echoes when you stumble across roadkill? No? Then you will find this book absurd.
  • Level of Paranormal Romance: 8 - I have to say that a romance like Violet and Jay's comes along only so often - they're almost like Caitlin and Tyler (see Teen Mom reference) in that there is so little drama and so much googly eyes, it makes you question every relationship you had before you were 18.
  • Level of Harry Potterness: 3 - I ain't reading this stuff for the vocab, ya heard?