Thursday, January 31, 2013

Group Read: The Book Thief by Mark Zusak

The Book ThiefThis is our first Group Read at YAF & WS, and we could not be more excited. Welcome to The Book Thief by Mark Zusak.  A 500 page book about the Holocaust? Well, if John Green recommends it, we are in... And can we say, we are so happy that we read this book.

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery....

Narrated by Death, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a young foster girl living outside of Munich in Nazi Germany. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist – books. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever they are to be found.

With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, Liesel learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids, as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement. This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul. via GoodReads

Our fab blog friend Steph at TheFakeSteph joined for this group read! Yay! Check out her thoughts, too.

(Red= Grad Student, Green=Goosie Mama, Blue= Crazy Camper)

GS: 8. There is a lot of YA fiction exploring WWII and the Holocaust but seeing the war from the point of view of poor Germans who were everything from passionate to undecided felt fresh. Then you add Death's narration and the unique formatting of the book (the bold-font lists from Death and Max's drawings)  and this is a very original read.
GM: I'm going with an 8, as I found this book to be a unique literary tome (500 pages?!). Right off the bat, the way Zusak deliberately (in)humanizes Death's narration is interesting, mildly confusing and always an attention grabber. The eerie description of taking (or sometimes rescuing) souls is disturbing, yet comforting and Liesel's existence is also a striking dichotomy of the life within and outside of the walls of her home.


CC: 10/1.  I cant decide.  Do I give this a 10 because it is written by Death? Do I give it a 10 because of the absurdity of the tragedy that is the basis for this story?  Or do I give it a 1, because however absurd a story could be, the Holocaust was far too real.
GS:  3. Certainly some points for the crazy of having a world-weary Death narrate. But it is BALLER that it works so well, and that Death's asides to the reader had me laughing and crying. And by laughing, I mean snorting re: Jesse Owens.
GM: 2. Okay, I think we all agreed that outside of Death, this was pretty realistic (and frankly, I found it heartstoppingly so in certain parts where Max's discovery was pretty imminent). It was realistic enough that I was bawling the last 20 pages or so for each of the characters whom Zusak describes in such detail, I literally feel like I made five friends: Leisel, Papa, Mama, Max and Rudy. 

Paranormal Romance Love and Friendship  

CC:10.  This book is about the friendships and love we make with those people around who make up our lives.  And how these relationships make us who we are, and direct who we will be.

GS: 10 again. Leisel learning to love Papa was so great and the love she never shares with a certain someone had a hint of swoon and a lot of.
GM: 10, if for no other reason than Leisel and Papa. My gosh, that relationship was so beautifully nuanced it made my heart pitter patter all over the place. As for Mama, I will forever love the word saumensch and use it in regular conversation just for her.

  “If only she could be so oblivious again, to feel such love without knowing it, mistaking it for laughter. ” 
“He does something to me, that boy. Every time. It’s his only detriment. He steps on my heart. He makes me cry.”  (Cue the tears from GS)

Harry Potternness

CC: 11.  This is not a childhood story with undertones.  This is a story that will hit you in the face, in which young children know the brutality and pain that comes with life, but which is told with such unique prose that you cant stop.   At 5:45 on the metro home from work, I finished this book in tears- it is that beautiful of a story.
GS:  10. This book is going to stick with me. I loved how colors and tastes were part of Zusak's descriptions. The writing really stood out for me. By the last 50 pages (after the hints that Death dropped) I didn't know if I would be able to bear finishing it. But I did! And I cried and texted CC (who ignored me, btw, but it was past her bedtime). And then I reread the last Max section. When a book pulls you back in as soon as you finish, you know it is Harry-Potter quality.
GM: 9 - I only give it a 9 because it was emotionally brutal in parts and I'm finding it difficult to compare to Harry Potter at all. In terms of written well? Yeah, duh. To me, the beauty in this book was how Zusak could take simple words and weave them into beautiful, yet simple statements about his characters and human nature as a whole. Hmmm, I think I'm changing my rating to a 10.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa

Hellllllllloooooo and happy Waiting on Wednesday. We are participating again in the weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. WoW showcases upcoming publications we are looking forward to. I will absolutely read the  The Eternity Cure by The Immortal Rules, the first book in the Blood of Eden series, and my review of Iron Fey series. I love to hate Ash.)

The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden, #2)

Allison Sekemoto has vowed to rescue her creator, Kanin, who is being held hostage and tortured by the psychotic vampire Sarren. The call of blood leads her back to the beginning—New Covington and the Fringe, and a vampire prince who wants her dead yet may become her wary ally.

Even as Allie faces shocking revelations and heartbreak like she’s never known, a new strain of the Red Lung virus that decimated humanity is rising to threaten human and vampire alike (GoodReads).

What are you "waiting on"?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters That Make Us Crazy

Even this cover makes me crazy!
This weekend I emailed Crazy Camper and Goosie Mama to get their take on the Top Ten Most Frustrating Characters Ever. I imagined they would have strong opinions. Instead I got a boatload of crazy. Here are what we managed to come up with.

Grad Student:
  • Evie from the Paranormalcy series by Kiersten White. Evie, USE YOUR WORDS. Don't keep secrets about paranormals and the end of the world. It is stupid.
  • Xander from the Matched series by Ally Condi. Come on man, buck up, set an ultimatum for Cassia, and get on with your life! You are better than this.
  • Luce from the Fallen series by Lauren Kate. Luce, if i have to hear how beautiful Daniel's wings are and how great your love is one more time I will throw something. Your version of love is exhausting. Love can be as simple as playing Boggle because your plus one LOVES Boggle even though they are a terrible speller and they never win and you think it is a waste of time....give it a try. The world won't end (ha! Fallen series pun right there!)
So. Much. Angst.

Crazy Camper:
  • Lissa from the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead: "In books 5 and 6, she loses her spunk to the royal court shenagnigans in my opinion." (I told CC that this was analysis only a dedicated reader could make and she said "well yes" like it was the most natural thing in the world)
  • "The girl in those books set in Maine with the fairies. she needed to stop wandering off in the woods alone. Her grandma was a werewolf? or a tiger or something." By that CC means Zora in the Need series by Carrie Jones.
  • Crazy Camper's final contribution for this week's TTT:
CC: Can we add Stephan from The Vampire Diaries? He totally annoys me. GS: HA sure. Why?CC: Cause he is SO MOODY and just a pain in the tush, compared to Dameon. (Team Dameon 4-eva).
 As you might notice, Goosie Mama is not participating in this week's TTT. Why you ask? Because in response to my email she told us about some hunky boy who bought her snacks. Crazy Camper responded with questions about his muscles. Things degenerated from there. ***throws hands up in the air in defeat***  

To get more of our strong opinions on these reads see our reviews of Matched,Crossed, and Reached by Ally Condi, TormentPassion, and Rapture by Lauren Kate, the last book in the Paranormalcy series by Kiersten White, the last book in the Need series by Carrie Jones, and Crazy Camper's love of the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead.

 As always a big cheers of our whiskey sours to The Broke and the Bookish for hosting TTT, our fav weekly book blog meme!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Review: The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

The Madness Underneath (Shades of London, #2)After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Devereaux has been living in Bristol under the close watch of her parents. So when her therapist suddenly suggests she return to Wexford, Rory jumps at the chance. But Rory's brush with the Ripper touched her more than she thought possible: she's become a human terminus, with the power to eliminate ghosts on contact. She soon finds out that the Shades— the city's secret ghost-fighting police—are responsible for her return. The Ripper may be gone, but now there is a string of new inexplicable deaths threatening London. Rory has evidence that the deaths are no coincidence. Something much more sinister is going on, and now she must convince the squad to listen to her before it's too late (GoodReads).

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson (Due out Feb 26) picks up right where The Name of the Star left off. I got a huge kick out of the first book, and was SCARED. Success! Sadly, I didn't find the sequel as compelling.
  • Originality 5. Still like this secret-ghost-cop thing. Also the tagline "Bedlam breaks free" really does apply and it gets points. I wish the book had focused on this more, because then this score would be higher (and the book would be better/scarier)
  • Absurdity: 8. Oh man, I picked the bad guy out of the lineup literally the first time they were introduced. Rory, you are a fool.
  • Level of Paranormal Romance: 2. WELL I can't say much for this book, but the cliffhanger suggests that the next Shades of London will have an exemplary paranormal romance for our girl Rory. For the bit of romance in this book, I was INTO that kiss. But one kiss does not a a high score make.
  • Level of Harry Potterness: 4. I didn't sense a lot of momentum in this story. I will still finish the series, but I hope the next book brings more spunk and a plot I can get invested in.
FTC Full Disclosure: I received a review copy from Penguin Young Readers Group. Happy reading followed. (We do not accept or receive compensation for reviews at YAF and WS.) 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Review: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore rocked. It is by far my favorite of the Graceling Realm series and I tots want to read it again soon. You need to get involved ASAP.
Bitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3)

Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck's reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle--disguised and alone--to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.

Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck's reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn't yet identified, holds a key to her heart (GoodReads).

Originality. I now loooooove companion novels and how this book weaves with Fire.
Absurdity: 2. Hardly anything comes off as trite or absurd.Great world building. I was bored in Graceling with the kingdom politics, but came around a bit with Fire. The epicness of this world finally impressed itself upon me in Bitterblue and the insane scale of Leck's manipulation was awesome. Was it all planned in Cashore's head in book one!? I gasped out loud as plot links were revealed.
Level of Paranormal Romance: 5. Every guy is a hunk/charm city. From Saf to Giddeon to my continued love of Po, there is a lot of handsome to choose from. I respect how Cashore builds real relationships that you root for but doesn't just give in to the reader (I wanted more romance, but I understood that love isn't easy for Bitterblue, being queen and on a mission for the truth.).
Level of Harry-Potterness: 9. Bad guy Leck is on pare with Voldermort for pure evil. This score mostly reflect, however, the quality of the story and the big questions Cashore raises about grief forgiveness, and knowledge. This book will stick with you. 

(Bonus points for amazing illustrations)

Want to know more about this series? See my reviews of Fire and Graceling and Crazy Camper's addendum.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: The Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Happpppppppppppy Waiting on Wednesday, book blog world! Today's post re: books we can't wait to read has two parts. I want to read The Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen. People really liked The False Prince, which is out, and the sequel The Runaway King is due out in March. It looks right up my (fantasy book) alley. What are you "waitin'" on?

                The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy, #1)The Runaway King (The Ascendance Trilogy, #2)

The False Prince:
In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well. As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together. An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats (GoodReads).

The Runaway King:
A kingdom teetering on the brink of destruction. A king gone missing... Just weeks after Jaron has taken the throne, an assassination attempt forces him into a deadly situation. Rumors of a coming war are winding their way between the castle walls, and Jaron feels the pressure quietly mounting within Carthya. Soon, it becomes clear that deserting the kingdom may be his only hope of saving it. But the further Jaron is forced to run from his identity, the more he wonders if it is possible to go too far. Will he ever be able to return home again? Or will he have to sacrifice his own life in order to save his kingdom? (GoodReads).

A big thanks to Breaking the Spine for hosting W0W. Share your pick!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Group Read Update: Get Ready for The Book Thief!

We hope you have picked up a copy of The Book Thief and are jazzed for the first-ever YAF and WS group read. Get a hold of Marcus Zusak's celebrated book and join us next Thursday, January 31st. We are excited (and I am the only one not done with the book yet. Yeep!)
                                                        (Check out all of these friends reading together. We love it)
If you want to post your own thoughts at your blog, that is **awesome** and just let us know so we can put up links celebrating the together-ness of the internet.We will be answering our regular categories of Originality, Absurdity, Romance and Harry-Potterness (aka quality of overall book). If you want to do your own thing or even address the questions at the back of the book, go for it. It is just nice to think of people reading and thinking together about a great book.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Settings We Would Like To See More Of

It is Tuesday and that means it is time for The Broke and the Bookish's awesome weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday. (Thanks, ladies!) This TTT is dedicated to settings we would like to visit more in books. I feel like there was a PSA "books take you places" at some point in the nineties. So true, Reading Rainbow, so true. Here are the places we would like to see more books set in.

Grad Student:
1. The South (I love Bon Temps and the spooky, mossy setting of Beautiful Creatures)
2. Cowboy country (because Crazy Camper and I loved Texas Gothic. More Texas means more cowboys. Yum)
3. Paris. One can never have enough Paris in one's life.
4. The North Estate of For Darkness Shows the Stars. I loved this book and want more of these people and this world.

ADDENDUM: Places I do NOT want to read more about include NYC. It makes me cray cray when they get the geography wrong. Like in the Mortal Instrument series. I was shouting at that first book- "Please !You don't go through Astor Place and cross Houston to get to the Second Avenue Cemetery!" That's what happens when you love urban history and live in the East Village. I might have a problem.

Goosie Mama:
5. Books set in Syracuse or upstate New York! DUH!!! 
6. Books set in the 80's (I'm so over Facebook or texting jargon in my YAF)...
7. Books set in the mid-90's - it's really just b/c I love reliving my childhood and Saved by the Bell fashions. 
The Max deserves to be a YA book setting.

Want to know more about these settings? See our reviews for Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore and For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Review: The Stone Demon by Karen Mahoney

We here at YAF & WS were lucky enough to preview the newest book in the Iron Witch Series, The Stone Demon.  While we were waiting on spring 2013, we got lucky!

After being tricked into opening the doorway to the Demon Realm by Aliette, the Wood Queen, Donna Underwood is faced with a terrible ultimatum from the newly released demon hordes. They demand that the alchemists deliver the Philosopher's Stone, or their reaper storm will plunge the world into a devastating modern-day Dark Age.

Donna is sent to London, England, where she must complete her alchemist's training and learn how to recreate the Stone. But time is running out. Between facing the vengeful demon king, Demian, and collecting the Stone's elements, Donna realizes she must give her own life in order to succeed. And this time, even braving death may not be enough to save the world (GoodReads).

I was very excited to get my hands on this copy and just plowed through- here, without any spoilers, is the review:

Originality: 4. We did travel to a variety of fairy/demon worlds, but consider the difficulty of these travels in previous books, it all seemed to easy here.  It is hard to stay original in the third book of a trilogy, and while there were some tricks, most of this world stayed the same.
Absurdity: 8. Demon terrorists? Check.  Escalators in hell? Check.  Dragons? Check.  High levels of absurdity throughout.
Level of Paranormal Romance: 6.  So, though my love for Xan is still strong, things just did'nt feel the same.  True, still insta-love but the distance issue definitely made him less dreamy- something about unresponsive long-distance boyfriends just rings too true to life.  And I still cant help but think that Donna was flirting with the devil, figuratively and literally.  And the ending? pish posh womp womp, we all wanted more Xan lust.
Level of Harry Potter-ness: 4. Donna is still stomping around as a bit of a pain, and I wish that she was fully embracing her strength and powers, which she does try to do, but her moody-teenager angst at times get the best of her.

Overall, glad to have some closure on the world of the Ironwood and LOTS of lingering questions were answered (thank goodness).    

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a review copy from Flux publishing. Happy reading followed. (We do not accept or receive compensation for reviews at YAF and WS.)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Review: The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

The Lover's DictionaryDavid Levithan, you are one impressive cookie! The Lover's Dictionary slip of a book, formatted with one entry per page, dug into my little heart and tossed it around. This book is different from what I usually read, but I liked the moving, melancholy nature of it.

basis, n. 

There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you’re in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself. 

If the moment doesn't pass, that’s it—you’re done. And if the moment 
pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it’s even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lover’s face.How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time. (GoodReads)

Originality: 10. This format is unique and spare in a way that really focuses on how to distill love into expression.
Absurdity: Nada.
Level of Paranormal Romance: 7. This is all about love and absolutely packs some swoon, but doesn't get a 10 because it is also a lot about heartbreak.
Level of Harry Potterness: This book is going to stick with me for a while, like a good HP read should. Rather then try to convince you, I will give you my favorite entry:
“Posterity, n.I try not to think about us growing old together, mostly because I try not to think about growing old at all. Both things - the years passing, the years together - are too enormous to contemplate. But one morning, I gave in. You were asleep, and I imagined you older and older. Your hair graying, your skin folded and creased, your breath catching. And I found myself thinking: If this continues, if this goes on, then when I die, your memories of me will be my greatest accomplishment. Your memories will be my most lasting impression.” 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bookish Events: A Recap of The Evening of Awesome with John and Hank Green

Here is the highlights reel from An Evening of Awesome! This was a jazzy event. (And I was very close to the ceiling of Carnegie Hall and had a nice visit with my FEAR OF HEIGHTS. Nothing like my plus-one's response, which, if we had been in private, probably would have involved crawling and crying. Way to hold it together in front of the little people, Mom.*)
  1. Carnegie Hall is beautiful and was packed. The crowd was jazzed. But also there were lots of adults, so I didn't feel like a creeper.
  2. The Green brothers came out first in tuxes, since Carnegie Hall is legit. LIKE.
  3. The leads from the Lizzie Bennett Diaries (LOVE) did a reading from The Fault in Our Stars. The part from the Ann Frank House.
  4. Neil Gaiman was a casual special guest. WHAT!?! He and John Green and two others did a reading from Paper Towns on black Santas. Hilarity ensued.
  5. Lots of music by Hank Green, The Mountain Goats (who are referenced all over Paper Towns) and someone else I truly don't know the name of, but the crowd loved it. I'm just out of the loop.
  6. If you want to exhaustive photos click here. I seriously don't think John Green tumblr fans slept last night, just blogged.
Overall, I love the idea of a sold-out show celebrating the anniversary of a book. I mean, how dorky/fabulous is that? And The connectivity of it all- John Green loves the Mountain Goats, and writes a book where their music plays a big role. Eventually he becomes friends with them and they play at his gig at Carnegie Hall. They even high-five. And John Green has fun friends like Neil Gaiman who is all British and cool (and I loved the two books of his I read!).

Evening Of AwesomeI would to have heard John Green talk more about writing/books/TFIOS, but this was a Follies production, not just a book talk. I am going to find another book talk to go to ASAP. Yay for bookish resolutions coming true.

*PS: Goosie Mama was supposed to come in honor of YAF & WS, but she is busy being eaten alive by her job so my mom came. AND GM felt so bad about it that she sent me flowers. WHAT!?! Right, I got to see JG and got flowers. She clearly is an awesome but confused friend who doesn't realize that if I wasn't a poor graduate student I should be sending HER flowers for a terrible day at work. So shout out to GM for being such a considerate friend.

Waiting on Wednesday: Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

Hello! Hope everyone is having a good day. Today I am since I just learned about this book, Strands of Bronze and Gold by 

                                                  Strands of Bronze and Gold
The Bluebeard fairy tale retold. . . . When seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram’s beloved father dies, she receives an unexpected letter. An invitation—on fine ivory paper, in bold black handwriting—from the mysterious Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather. With no money and fewer options, Sophie accepts, leaving her humble childhood home for the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey, in the heart of Mississippi.

Sophie has always longed for a comfortable life, and she finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her. And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives—all with hair as red as her own—in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world.

Glowing strands of romance, mystery, and suspense are woven into this breathtaking debut—a thrilling retelling of the “Bluebeard” fairy tale (GoodReads).

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bookish Events: In Which Graduate Student Braves Midtown Manhattan (GULP) for the Green Brothers

I am going to my first author event tonight! The Evening of Awesome aka John and Hank Green live.

YUP I will be there tonight. Best Tuesday activity I can think of (besides in college when it was 80's night at Johnny O's. That was also a really good choice for Tuesday extracurricular activities).

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Review: To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

How does one stumble across (the second in a series) alternate history about time-traveling historians published in 1998? Why John Green tells you to read it, of course. (Ok, he told everyone on YouTube, it is not like we share book lists or anything). I have never read the first book in the Oxford Time Travel series, so I approached To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis as a stand alone. And I am happy I read this QUIRKY book- it was very smart and very fun.
From Connie Willis, winner of multiple Hugo and Nebula Awards, comes a comedic romp through an unpredictable world of mystery, love, and time travel... Ned Henry is badly in need of a rest.  He's been shuttling between the 21st century and the 1940s searching for a Victorian atrocity called the bishop's bird stump.  It's part of a project to restore the famed Coventry Cathedral, destroyed in a Nazi air raid over a hundred years earlier.   But then Verity Kindle, a fellow time traveler, inadvertently brings back something from the past.  Now Ned must jump back to the Victorian era to help Verity put things right--not only to save the project but to prevent altering history itself. (GoodReads).

Level of Originality: 10 +. Alternate history, time travel, and hilarious historians. I LOVED how fresh this felt. But a warning, this book expects a lot of you. You need to hit the ground running to be ready to embrace this original mash-up. It was a bit hard to get into the book and figure out what was going on, but that could be because it was the second in a series. 
Level of Absurdity: 10. This is supposed to be absurd- it is a fish out of water story with Ned totally unprepared for the Victorian era.  This is something of a comedy of coincidences, so it is very silly. I giggled a lot.
Level of Paranormal Romance: 2. Minimal romance, but I was pleasantly surprised when Ned got moves at the end of the book. Apparently he is dashing in his straw boater hat. I like it! 
Level of Harry Potter-ness: 7. This book requires focus and dedication. The narration is complicated. Since it is told from Ned's POV when he is confused, the narration is confused, etc. After I got the hang of this, I loved that I was being challenged to fully engage with the structure of Willis's writing and all of the history asides. It might not be for everyone, but this history grad student got a kick out of it.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Stacking the Shelves: A Library Book-ARC Mixer

It is Saturday which means Stacking the Shelves, hosted by Tygna's reviews. Yay! Today old and new books are mixing on my shelf. We have some newly released beauties and some Spring 2013 releases in ARCs which sound awesome. There is serious reading ahead around here. What did you pick up this week? I hope all you East Coasters enjoy this warm spell. Happy weekending to all.

Cinders & Sapphires (At Somerton, #1)The Madness Underneath (Shades of London, #2)

Cinders & Sapphires by and The Madness Underneath by 

Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2) by 
Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #2)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Review: Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

Meant to BeMeant to Be by Lauren Morrill was such an adorable read. I buzzed through this book in just two days and giggled out loud on public transit. I hate to be that weirdo laughing at their book on the train, but this is just so darn charming. At least it sort of looked like I was reading a book for adults- these cover models look old. Grad Student 1, Creepy YA Book Covers, 132.

It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for - gasp - the wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's the queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her ... well, pocket. Julia also believes in fate, and that Mark, her childhood crush, is her MTB - her meant-to-be.

But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts ... from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to live a little along the way. And thus begins a wild-good chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love. 
Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be (GoodReads).
  • Originality: 4. Classic Rom-Com. Boy gets stuck with girl in an unlikely scenario, they hate each other, fall for each other while pretending to deny it, and then.....Extra points for the London setting and a leading lady with a surprisingly complex sense of self and relationships.
  • Absurdity: 8. OK why do these two end up in so many pig piles/wrestling? I mean, muddy fields, museum galleries, hotel lobbies, front steps. Is gravity different in London?
  • Level of Paranormal Romance: 7. This is a Rom-Com in the best sense--it is How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days level cute.  Jason is hilarious and Julia, even though she has the nickname "Book Licker" is smart and just sassy enough. I loved the banter between these two. I also loved the pig piles (particularly one out in a field ifyouknowhatImean wink wink).
  • Level of Harry-Potterness: 3. This book will probably not stick with me like a true HP read, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a fun fling!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Listed in NPR's 2012 In Review: 50 Wonderful Things From The Year In Pop Culture, was a great book about young love:

"4.  Rainbow Rowell's luscious, delicate novel Eleanor & Park, which tells as vivid a story about young love, mix tapes and comic books as you're likely to read. Already out in the UK, it will be released in the US in February."  

I was intrigued, so over I went to GoodReads:

"Bono met his wife in high school," Park says.
"So did Jerry Lee Lewis," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be," she says, "we’re sixteen."
"What about Romeo and Juliet?"
"Shallow, confused, then dead."
''I love you," Park says.
"Wherefore art thou," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be."

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

YUP- this looks perfect.  March 5th 2013, see you then Eleanor & Park.  Until then, I will be "Waitin' on" this title. What is your WoW this week? As always, a thanks to Jill at Breaking the Spine for hosting Waiting on Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Goals For 2013

Hellllllooooo and happy Tuesday book-blog friends. I hope you are all having a fab week. We here at YAF and WS feel very motivated to be back to work and have resolved to be better people this year (it involves, but is not limited to, studiously flossing our teeth).  Today's TTT is all about the bookish goals we have made for ourselves. We can't wait to hear what yours are, too.

Ladies we like reading = Good bookish inspiration.

Grad Student's goals:
1. To not skim the end of books but force myself to be patient. Sometimes if I love a story I have GOT to know how certain elements turn out. But really, this is a bad habit.
2. Read a couple classics that I never have---I have the Brontes in the bag, but Anna Karenina is staring me down.
3. Go to an author event or two. I live in Manhattan--authors do talks all the time. I should be making the most of this!

Crazy Camper's goals:
4.  Read some smart non-fiction.  Smart reading is good for my brain, but to accomplish this i must
5. Read book reviews so I can find some smart fiction.
6.  Give someone else a book I really love to read and spread the book loving
7. Read one book with friends and actually discuss it ( I am hoping The Book Thief counts as this..)

A big thank you to The Broke and the Bookish for being generally awesome and hosting Top Ten Tuesday!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Review: Ash by Melinda Lo

Continuing on my unintentional binge on re-tellings of fairy tales (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty), this holiday I also read Ash, a retelling of Cinderella.  From Melinda Lo's Website:

In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, re-reading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash’s capacity for love—and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love. Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.
  • Originality: 6. Cinderella and fairies.  New spin.  What is it with fairies and YA fiction?  Authors love fairies. O yea, and Ash doesn't fall for the prince, New spin X2.
  • Absurdity: 4. I am giving this a low score, because coming into this you have to have low absurdity bar because you know it is already a fairy tale
  • Level of Paranormal Romance: 7.  Higher then normal because of her love for both Sidhean, who has his own scary fairy charm, and Kaisa, who is a beautiful huntress.  A new love triangle for the fairy tales.  And the prince?  We are not impressed.  But more so, this book is more about Ash, and her struggle to find herself, and though the romance is part of the story, I don't think it is the whole story
  • Level of Harry Potterness: 7  A Cinderella who lives in a world of fairies and falls in love with another girl?  Unexpected, but it was well written and Ash is confused and in love and struggling with fairies and evil step sisters in a surprisingly relatable way, and this is coming from a girl who has just one sister who she likes, doesn't have to do physical labor, and probably would have fallen for the prince (if not the fairy king).
I liked it.  It is different but the same.  Give it a try.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Stacking the Shelves: So Many Library Books (with those great crinkly plastic covers)

Its Saturday. Yayyyyy! That means.... well more homework for this grad student, but in theory it could be a fun brunch in the Lower East Side. A girl can dream. The good news is, I stopped by the library and got so many good books. I have Bitterblue by Kristin  Cashore (GASP-- I love the first 40 pages), Romeo Redeemed by Stacey Jay (which has LOTS of feelings so far) and The Shadow Society by .  Here is more about Romeo Redeemed and why I am intrigued by this series, Juliet Immortal. And as for The Shadow Society:

Romeo Redeemed (Juliet Immortal #2)Bitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3)

The Shadow Society
Darcy Jones doesn't remember anything before the day she was  abandoned as a child outside a Chicago firehouse. She has never really belonged anywhere—but she couldn’t have guessed that she comes from an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire didn’t happen and deadly creatures called Shades terrorize the human population. Memories begin to haunt Darcy when a new boy arrives at her high school, and he makes her feel both desire and desired in a way she hadn’t thought possible. But Conn’s interest in her is confusing. It doesn’t line up with the way he first looked at her. As if she were his enemy.

When Conn betrays Darcy, she realizes that she can’t rely on anything—not herself, not the laws of nature, and certainly not him. Darcy decides to infiltrate the Shadow Society and uncover the Shades’ latest terrorist plot. What she finds out will change her world forever . . .

What is new to your bookshelf this weekend? Cheers of our whiskey sour to Tynga's Reviews for hosting Stacking the Shelves. Happy reading!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Review: A Long Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan

This was the book I was reading when my Nook crashed right before Christmas I walked upstairs to get a sweatshirt, telling my mom, wow I am enjoying this book, came downstairs, and my Nook was done-zo.  Fast forward to Christmas gifts and thank you Baby Jesus for giving me a device that allows me to finish my book.  A true Christmas miracle.

It should have been a short suspended-animation sleep. But this time Rose wakes up to find her past is long gone-- and her future full of peril.

Rosalinda Fitzroy has been asleep for sixty-two years when she is woken by a kiss. Locked away in the chemically induced slumber of a stasis tube in a forgotten subbasement, sixteen-year-old Rose slept straight through the Dark Times that killed millions and utterly changed the world she knew. Now, her parents and her first love are long gone, and Rose-- hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire-- is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat. Desperate to put the past behind her and adapt to her new world, Rose finds herself drawn to the boy who kissed her awake, hoping that he can help her to start fresh. But when a deadly danger jeopardizes her fragile new existence, Rose must face the ghosts of her past with open eyes-- or be left without any future at all.

Sleeping Beauty meets Terminator/ Total Recall.  I really like this book, though I am not sure exactly why?  My favorite part was when they started AIM-ing/ G-chatting each other to talk about crushes.  Is that really the future?

  • Originality:  8. As I just read the modern day Snow White tale Devoured (my review), it seemed fast to jump into another fairy tale retelling  ( Just wait till I write my post about Ash, coming soon, a Cinderella retelling), but this was great! The technology, the jump ahead  in time, killer robots and flash backs were new and fun to read.
  • Absurdity: 6.  Considering the combo, I went right along with this story.  High school as a new girl is hard, and Rose, we feel you.  Its harder when you are an heiress who has been asleep for 60 years and everyone you knew and loved is dead.
  • Paranormal Romance: Some time jumping romance here, but I wont say anymore.  Xavier, her first love and best friend, it was a short description, but highly swoon worthy.  
  • Harry Potterness, 6.  I liked this. I was sad I lost it, and then SO HAPPY to have it back.  I would recommend it.
Of the Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty retellings I read this week, this was my favorite!  

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting

                                                Dead Silence (The Body Finder, #4)
Violet thought she’d made peace with her unique ability to sense the echoes of the dead and the imprints that cling to their killers…that is until she acquired an imprint of her own. Forced to carry a reminder of the horrible events of her kidnapping, Violet is more determined than ever to lead a normal life. However, the people who run the special investigative team Violet works for have no intention of letting her go.

When someone close to Violet becomes a suspect in a horrific murder, she finds herself pulled into a deadly hunt for a madman with an army of devoted followers. Violet has survived dangerous situations before, but she quickly discovers that protecting those closest to her is far more difficult than protecting herself.

The Body Finder series has been praised as a “delectable blend of mystery and romance” (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books), a “fast-paced, compelling read” (ALA Booklist), and as “imaginative, convincing, and successful suspense” (Kirkus Reviews). With a perfect blend of romance, intrigue, and suspense, Dead Silence continues this gripping series, delivering unexpected twists that will keep readers guessing until the very last page (GoodReads).

This one goes out to Goosie Mama- she looovvveess the Body Finder series. She is going to be very happy when Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting is released in April. Happy New Year to all, and a cheers of our whiskey sours to Jill at Breaking the Spine for hosting Waiting on Wednesday, a weekly meme that showcases upcoming publications we cannot wait to read.