Froi of the Exiles: Week Four

Mar 30, 2013

We're getting so close ladies! Once I started this section, I just couldn't stop reading. I'm really loving Froi's journey, but I've loved getting to see more of Lucian and Phaedra, too. So, let's get to talking!

Discussion questions after the jump!

She Will Be Loved

Mar 28, 2013

Ladies of the Internet, the handsome devil pictured below is Adam Levine. No, he's obviously not from a book as my confession implies. But he IS from a band, so he's got that going for him. Also, his face. And swagger. And tattoos (even though I'm not normally a tattoo lady). And his voice. Sorry, I'll rein it in. Let's continue.

Why am I starting this post about boy book crush requirements off with a photo of Adam? Oh, you know, ONLY BECAUSE I SAW MAROON 5 IN CONCERT LAST NIGHT. Yes, last night. Are there other people in Maroon 5? I don't know. I only have eyes for Adam. Obviously, my brain is still recovering from the swoon and I want to talk about boys.

In addition to that, I mentioned in my review of Unravel Me that I picture book Adam as Adam Levine only because they share the same first name and duh who doesn't want to picture this hottie while you're reading? See, this lady is always right. And Adam Levine will forever be mine fine.

Okay, okay. I'll actually get to the point. Next week's Top Ten Tuesday list is about the top ten characters I'd crush on if I was a fictional character. As I began narrowing down my list, I realized that I have a few "types" when it comes to my book boy crushes. Sooo... I thought it'd be fun to have a little discussion on what typically makes you swoon over a book boy!

Here are the three "book boy crush" types I'm most likely to swoon over:

1. The Man Who Has Always Loved You: Loyal and Patient

I'm a complete and total sucker for the guy that's loved a girl for years and just waits for her to finally realize he's been there for her all along. Would it be slightly creepy and potentially annoying in real life? Maybe, but this is book world. In book world, this man makes me swoon hard. He's loyal and patient, just waiting for you to come to your senses. He's not off screwing around until you do. No, he's too busy working hard and making himself more amazing. And possibly pining over you.

Book Boy Crush Examples: Gilbert Blythe, Frederick Wentworth and Peeta Mellark

2. The Man of Few Words: Strong, Steady and Quiet

Oh, the strong and silent type. Some girls want the life of the party, but I fall for the steady guy you can always count on. He might be quiet, but he says what he means and will always be straight with you. He personifies the saying "still waters run deep." Because when he does speak, it's coming from his heart. He can say more in ten words than some men say in whole conversations.

Book Boy Crush Examples: Fitzwilliam Darcy, Sean Kendrick and Dimitri Belikov

3. The Man Who Makes You Laugh: Playful and Teasing

This one might seem like it's the opposite of book crush type #2, and sometimes it is but not always. I don't fall for the guys who are constantly goofing off, being loud or acting silly. But I DO swoon for the fellas who are a little playful and know how to tease you. You know, the guys that are quick to laugh, even if they aren't the ones cracking jokes. The ones that keep their book girl counterparts on their toes. They are also usually smart, which is a huge bonus!

Book Boy Crush Examples: Roar, Adrian Ishakov and Gilbert Blythe (yes, again)

Now I want to know - do you have book boy crush types? 
Are there any similarities between the boys you soon over in books?

A Mood Ring Doesn't Have Enough Colors

Mar 27, 2013

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Release Date: February 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 461 pages
Series: Shatter Me #2
Source & Format: Bought; Hardcover
Amazon Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)

it's almost
time for war.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her - people with gifts - and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She's finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart - and Adam's life.

Thoughts on Unravel Me
Instead of a review, my feelings are a little different for this book. Let's proceed.

Dear Juliette,

Girl, why are you such a pill in this book? I really don't understand. You were crazypants in Shatter Me, but I understood you. I felt your pain and just wanted to give you a great big hug and sit next to you in therapy. But in Unravel Me, I really just wanted to put you in time out. Why are you so mopey and whiny?

You've got skills. Let's get a grip and start acting like the boss you could be if you'd stop pretending you're in middle school. Yep, middle school. Juliette, you're above that. I know, I know - you've got relationship problems and all the feelings. That doesn't make it okay! Rise above. Be awesome. Because you, my friend, can be kind of a buzzkill. 

You know I love you. I just want you to be better.

Dear Adam,

Do I picture you as Adam Levine for no reason other than your name is Adam? Maybe. But that just works in your favor! Have you seen his tattoos? Dayyyyuuuummmmm. Unlike Betty, I'm not a sucker for a boy with tattoos, but I'd make the exception for Mr. Levine so that also extends to you. Anyway, back to the topic at hand....

I love you. I really do. I swooned and sighed when you charmed crazy Juliette in Shatter Me. I cheered you on when you wooed that lonely soul. So what happened? I needed you to be in control. Instead, you were just as much of a pill as Juliette. Don't worry, I didn't switch to Team Evil Villain. But I thought about it for two seconds before I came to my senses! Those two seconds NEVER would have happened if you'd been on your game.

I expect great things from you. It's time to deliver.

Dear Warner,

I don't know who you are, why people like you, or what happened in Chapter Sixty-Whatever. As far as I'm concerned, you = nothing but a bad guy.

Okay, so maybe you have a human side. Doesn't mean I'm rooting for you! Wanting you and Juliette to be together would be like sticking my finger in at outlet - I know better, it's just going to end in pain and I'd look stupid in THE END. Because in THE END, she's going to be with Adam. Or Kenji. Okay, sorry, that's probably just a personal wish. Either way - she won't be with you!

Go find a dog to be your friend and just leave Juliette alone. OKAY?!

Dear Kenji,

I love you. I love you. I love you. Wherever you are, that's where I want to be too. Thanks for being the one normal person in this barrel of crazy. Also, I'd be totally okay if you turned everything into a love square. Just saying...

Dear Tahereh,

Thanks for writing one of my favorite books this year! Yes, some of your characters needed a good spanking or to be told, "You have five seconds to change your attitude before I change it for you." But you made me feel! You made me take sides, clutch my pages, sigh in happiness and then groan in frustration. So, I love you for that. Thanks for making sit down with this big fat book and not get up again until I was done. Thanks for writing something that made me want to discuss it with friends and shove the series on everyone I meet. Thanks for putting the crazy down on paper and sending it out into the world. This reader is forever grateful!

So Quotable
"Synonyms know each other like old colleagues, like a set of friends who've seen the world together. They swap stories, reminisce about their origins and forget that though they are similar, they are entirely different, and though they share a certain set of attributes, one can never be the other. Because a quiet night is not the same as a silent one, a firm man is not the same as a steady one, and a bright light is not the same as a brilliant one because the way they wedge themselves into a sentence changes everything. They are not the same."

Froi of the Exiles: Week Three

Mar 22, 2013

As I mentioned on Twitter yesterday, I think this is going to be an "open" discussion week. While there were SO many things that I could ask questions about, my brain needs a little rest from analyzing. Isn't that terrible to admit? So, thank you for being so gracious about the form of our discussion this week.

So, feel free to either write a post on your blog (or on Goodreads, Miss Heidi) about anything related to this week's reading. Or just discuss a few of your thoughts below! It's all up to you because that's how I do things around here.

Some possible things to discuss about this week's reading:
  • Favorite moment
  • Least favorite moment
  • The most OMG moment
  • The moment that made you saddest
  • Thoughts on the recent developments in the relationships of Phaedra & Lucian, Beatriss & Trevanion and/or Froi & Quintana
  • Speculation on where the story will go from here
Okay, ladies, let's chat!

Recaptains Assemble!

Mar 21, 2013

While it officially launched last Friday, I still want to take a second to tell you about an awesome, amazing and seriously fun project that has been in the works for the last month or so. I should note that all of those adjectives also apply to the three ladies who dreamed up this project and helped make it a reality - Amber, Betty and Judith.

Before I started blogging, I'd often start a series and binge read them all in the span of a few days or weeks. I was usually late to the series, so most (if not all) of the books in the series would already be released. For example, that's what happened when I finally read The Hunger Games trilogy.

Now that I'm blogging, I know about new series just as they are being released. As reviews pop up and bloggers start raving about them, I just can't wait for all of the books to be published. I HAVE TO START IMMEDIATELY! That's all well and good until the book is finished... and then I have a year or more until the next one is released. With so many books floating around in my brain, I rarely remember where the previous book left off when I go to pick up the next book in a series.

Because I love re-reading, I've typically just gone back and re-read the previous book(s). Sometimes, I look forward to revisiting the beginning of the series all over again. But there are also series that I just want to jump back into without starting over. So, what do you do if you really can't remember what happened before?

I've typically done one of two things:

1. Ask someone else who has read the book to remind me of what happened.
2. Dive right into the new book - hoping that the memories of the previous books will return as I read.

The new project started with a Twitter conversation between Betty, Judith, Amber and I discussing this very annoying issue. What to do when you want to continue reading a series but can't remember what happened before?

That's when we decided it was time to stop whining and come up with a solution. So, we decided to start a blog dedicated to spoiling books on purpose... or saving series! Rather than review books, we RECAP them.

Since this is a dilemma for readers all over the world, we knew it was time to put on our superhero capes and the Recaptains were born!

Our mission?
We - Amber, Betty, Hannah and Judith - solemnly swear to protect the world from literary amnesia and serial killers. We swear to protect our fellow human beings and to spread the love for books. We don't believe in fear. We have faith that the world can be better, and will be better.
Be sure to check our Archives to see all the awesome series we've saved so far! If you run to the Recaptains only to find that the series you need isn't listed, feel free to use our Series Saving Advisory System to Request a recap. If you want to help the Recaptains fight crime faster, Contribute a recap of any book in a series we haven't saved yet. You'll get to be a superhero and get a button for your blog! Finally, don't forget to follow us on Twitter to stay-to-date on all of our adventures.

Want to know a little more about my fellow superheroes and their particular strengths? Well, I'm more than happy to introduce you to these three fun, talented and crazy awesome ladies!

Amber is the powerhouse behind Books of Amber, and she blazes through recaps like no other! She lives in the English countryside, so of course I'm super jealous of that fact. Who do I need to pay to get my own British accent? I don't what impresses me more - the number of series she's read or the fact that she's prepared to recap them all. Seriously, her memory is WAY better than mine. Another fun fact? She's the genius behind the blog name. I know - you just wish you had her skills.

Betty is the sassy and smart lady blogging at Book Rock Betty. She's your go-to source for making your life natural, green and toxin-free. She also knows how to swoon over boys with tattoos, tell you what she's really thinking and be one hot, rockin' mama. That's right, y'all! She's book rocking AND raising two adorable Baby Bettys who like to pretend to be Ewoks. So, sorry, but Betty wins at life. Mr. Betty lucked out when he got this lady for a wife!

Judith is the talented girl running Paper Riot. She's the reason the Recaptains blog looks as AMAZING as it does. Want something designed? Judith makes it happen... and makes it prettier than you could have even imagined! She speaks Dutch, and she can teach you lots of crazy cool words. Like winkelwagon. Want to learn how to say that AND what it means? Guess you'll have to ask her. She's so smart that you'll feel bad you only know one language (and don't tell me if you do too because I can't have any more multilingual friends reminding me that five years of Spanish got me nothing).

Hope you love this idea as much as we do! With The Recaptains, you'll never again have to re-read a book before picking up the next one in a series. We're saving series one book at a time!


Veruca Salt Syndrome

Mar 19, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week they post a new topic/Top Ten list and invite everyone to share their own answers. I'm so obsessed with lists!

I love this week's topic because it's about something I like to call "Veruca Salt Syndrome." This lovely (bratty, snotty, spoiled) character from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is famous for her insistence - "Give it to me NOW."
We're friends, right? So let's be honest here for a second. A new book out by a favorite author? I want it NOW. Finishing the first in series and don't have book two on hand? I want it NOW. See a shiny, pretty cover on display at the bookstore? I want it NOW. 

This is a safe place. It's okay to admit that this has happened to you before, too. Want to know what's worse? I've done this so many times... only to let the book just sit on my shelves all neglected and sad. I can literally feel the book's judgment from across the room. It knows that I pitched a fit about buying it AND THEN DIDN'T EVEN READ IT.

So, here are the books I feel the most judged by that I bought because of my Veruca Salt Syndrome.

Top Ten Books I Just HAD to Buy... 
But Are Still Sitting On My Shelf Unread

1. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy - Yes, I know you are laughing at the thought that this would be a book that I just HAD to buy. So, I read and love Anna Karenina in high school and got really excited when I saw that this edition of War and Peace was translate by the same two people, which meant I obviously had to get it. And then not read it.

2. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - When I decided to participate in The Classics Club (which I've since dropped out of because it was stressing me out), I went on the hunt for a few classics from my list that I needed to immediately own because I was ready to get started. And then I clearly stalled out after buying a number of books off my list, including this one.

3. Looking for Anne of Green Gables by Irene Gammel - I remember browsing in a bookstore with my mom when she came to visit me at college (like three years ago, y'all). I found this that day, and she was kind enough to get it for me since I "LOVE Anne of Green Gables and am DYING to read this book." Exaggerate much on how badly I wanted to read it?

4. The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly - I put this on the top of the Christmas wish list I sent to a friend, and she was kind enough to buy it for me. Over a year later, those lips still look pissed at me for not opening this book.

5. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks - Embarrassingly, I remember calling my husband from the bookstore and asking him if it was terrible to buy this book EVEN THOUGH I'd already gone over budget that month. He didn't care, so I ran to the checkout. Shopping success followed by reading fail! The worst part about this story is that the guy who rang up my purchase that day always asks me what I thought of this one since I've bought numerous other books at that store since then. Oh, struggle!

6. Queen of America by Luis Alberto Urrea - I spotted this a bookstore in San Francisco, and I just had to take it home with me. And now I look at it on my shelves, admire the pretty, take a moment to think about reading it, and then move on to newer and shinier things.

7. Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore - As soon as I finished reading Fire last year, I knew that I had to buy Bitterblue. I couldn't wait to find out more about what was going on with her and how she was dealing with the aftermath of who Leck was and what he had done. Well, clearly "couldn't wait" could wait because that's what this book has been doing - waiting.

8. Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta - After Jellicoe Road, I bought all of Marchetta's other books. I read Saving Francesca and The Piper's Son pretty soon after buying them, but I still haven't picked this one up. In this case, I think to think it's because I'm saving my last Marchetta (I'm reading her Lumatere series now) for a time when I need it most.

9. Harry Potter Page to Screen by Bob McCabe - I researched like crazy to find the cheapest way to buy this book, and then convinced my husband that we HAD to buy it while it was on sale. Veruca Salt strikes again because guess who read this book? My husband. Guess who didn't? Moi.

10. Design*Sponge At Home by Grace Bonney - "Oh, this one just came out! I really want it - look at all these good decorating ideas!" Cue handing over dollars and sticking book on shelf to collect dust.

11. The Meghan Method by Meghan Carter - When we first got married, we were on a really tight budget because I didn't have a job yet. I still remember venturing into Barnes & Noble one day with my husband and asking if I could just get this one book, pretty please I love you so much. Y'all, I'm legit ashamed that I never did read this book.

12. The Perfectly Imperfect Home by Deborah Needleman - Two Christmases ago, I gave my husband a list of books I realllyyyyy wanted him to get me and told him that this one was at the tip top. Surprise: still haven't read it. Even worse, I haven't even flipped through it to look at all the pictures.

Kick the Sh*t Out of Life

Mar 18, 2013

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Release Date: August 2012
Publisher: Hachette | Little, Brown
Pages: 326 pages
Source & Format: Library; Hardcover
Amazon Goodreads

Summary (from Amazon)
Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle--and people in general--has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence--creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

Thoughts on Where'd You Go, Bernadette
After seeing a rave review of this book that Beth (from Bookworm Meets Bookworm) wrote for Sadie Magazine, I was so excited when I spotted the book on the New Arrivals shelf at my library. From the minute I started this book, I knew I was going to be hooked. You know when you read a book that just feels so refreshing and different from anything you've read before? That's what happened to me with Where'd You Go, Bernadette.

The first three quarters of this book is told in epistolary form. Bernadette Fox has disappeared, and now her fifteen-year-old daughter, Bee, is searching for her. You get to see her piecing together the clues through emails, doctors' bills, school correspondence, etc. It's all the research that leads up to the last quarter of the book where it switches to Bee's actual journey to find her mother.

Bernadette was an architect who fled to Seattle when her masterpiece completely and utterly failed. She is believed to be a genius, but her heartbreak over the past has caused her to completely pull away from society. She rarely interacts with people, and she hires a virtual assistant in India to help her complete the tasks of her daily life. Her husband, Elgie, works at Microsoft and indulges her strange ways by allowing her to do as she pleases.

Part of the joy of this book is the way you see all the pieces falling into place - culminating in Bernadette's disappearance. From busybodies at Bee's school to Elgie's fear that Bernadette needs an intervention, the satire is rich in this book. I loved how Semple slyly pokes fun at things, and I found myself laughing many times while reading. I thought Bee was a really well-written teenager. She's smart and trying oh so hard to find the most important woman in her life. I loved Semple's focus on mother-daughter relationships, which was absolutely one of my favorite things about this read.

It's a little peculiar at times, but I couldn't put it down! It's not something I would typically gravitate towards, although I do love the cover, so I'm really glad Beth got me interested in it with her review. She did a much better job at highlighting the book's strengths, so I'd definitely encourage you to read her review. All I can say is that I laughed at Semple's wacky characters, but I was also moved by several of the more serious moments in this book. I absolutely adored spending my afternoon with these characters and this search for a missing woman. Who knew disappearances and mysteries could be so funny and entertaining? If you're looking for something a little different, I'd definitely recommend picking this one up.

So Quotable
"My heart started racing, not the bad kind of heart racing, like, I'm going to die. But the good kind of heart racing, like, Hello, can I help you with something? If not, please step aside because I'm about to kick the shit out of life."

Froi of the Exiles: Week Two

Mar 15, 2013

I've got to be honest - I think I'm enjoying Froi of the Exiles more than Finnikin of the Rock! Something about this book just begs me to keep reading, and I hate having to put it down. There is so much to talk about this week!

As always, discussion questions are after the jump!

I'm Series-ly Addicted

Mar 14, 2013

It's true! While some people avoid series like the plague, I really do love getting invested in a new one. Sometimes I'll fall in love with the first book, and each subsequent book will only make me love a series or trilogy more. But that's not always what happens... the more series I read, the more paths my addiction can take. Let's explore, shall we?

One & Done

Hey book, I wanted to love you. Really I did! I had high hopes for our future... big dreams for all the things we'd do together and all the memories we'd make. But I just don't get it. Things changed. I just don't think we're on the same page. It's not me - it's you.

When I'm only one book in, I can pretty easily set a series aside. If I don't care about the characters and am not invested in the story, I'm not likely to keep reading. Will it potentially get better in future books? Maybe. But I'm just not interested in continuing. 

Examples: Remembrance by Michelle Madow, The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

On One Hand...

Hey book, I think we can make this work. There's something about you that's a little off, but I want to take a chance on you. I see potential here, so I want to get to know you more. But let's take it slow, okay?

In this scenario, I'm a little torn. On one hand, I think I could see this series getting better. On the other hand, I'm not crazy about where it's at now. This is a dilemma for me as a reader - do I give the series one more chance to win me over or do I call it quits before I invest any more time into what may be a lost cause?

Examples: Everneath by Brodi Ashton, Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien

One Fell Swoop

Hey book, you had me at hello. I'm falling hard for you, and I want to be yours forever.

Book one is amazing! In fact, it's everything I've been looking for in a series. I know that I want to see these books to the very end because I just love them so much already. Now I've just got to hope and pray that my feelings for them stay this way the whole way through.

Examples: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right

Hey book, I gave you a chance. That whole "on one hand" thing was serious. And sadly, I just can't take any more of this. I thought you could change. Clearly, I was wrong!

This typically follows a so/so experience with book one. I didn't love the first book, but I thought the series would get better. Sadly, book two isn't cutting it either. If I still don't see much improvement on the things that bothered me in the first book, I might just stop here and have someone tell me how it all ends.

Example: Beautiful Days by Anna Godbersen

Terrible Twos

Hey book, what happened to you? I just feel like you've been distant lately. Our relationship is going through a rough patch, but I think we can work through this.

What happens when I love book one but book two just doesn't live up to my expectations? I'm probably going to chalk this up to middle book syndrome. I might notice the book's flaws, but I'm still invested enough in the characters to continue reading the series.

But what about when book one was only okay? This is one of the toughest places for me to be as a series addict. What to do when I've read two "okay" books? This is where I may differ from most readers. For me, I often have to see the books through to their conclusion if it's a trilogy. With only one book left, sometimes I can't quit once I've made it this far. I just have to know what happens and can't give up now... even when I'm not loving the series.

Examples:  Crossed by Ally Condie, Fire by Kristin Cashore

"Two" Legit to Quit

Hey book, we've got a good thing going here. It's like I fell in love with my best friend, and this relationship just keeps getting better and better. I'm in it for the long haul with you.

Do I even need to explain further? I'm loving the series at this point, and I'm dying for more. I just can't wait to see how it all ends!

Examples: Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi, Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Three Strikes & You're Out

Hey book, I should have known from the start. We were just too different. I think we always knew it would come to this. You didn't really think we'd make it, did you?

I make this face when I realize I've just wasted time on three books that I really didn't even care about reading. I didn't love them from the start, but I just kept hoping they'd get better. Sadly, I've got to call the series a miss. At this point, I'm just hoping that I'll learn when to keep reading and when to walk away in the future.

Example: Passion by Lauren Kate

Third Times the Charm

Hey book, I've been guarded and afraid to let you get close. But I feel like it's time for me to open up and really show you how I'm feeling inside. You've taken the time to get to know me, and I've seen our relationship really grow because of it.

This is a great moment in a series. I may have loved the first book but didn't enjoy the second OR maybe I was just so/so on both of the first two books. Either way, the third book has really turned me into a fan. At this point, I'm glad I took the time to read this series (even if it wasn't love at first read).

Examples: The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead, Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead

Third Wheel

Hey book, I don't even know you anymore. Things were going great with book one and two... This just seems so out of character for you. How could you ruin everything we had? 

This is one of the saddest series moments! I've enjoyed the first two books and then just have such mixed (or horrible) feelings on the last book. This can totally affect my feelings on the entire series! Sometimes I can separate it in my mind and still enjoy the first two on their own. However, usually at this point I just look back at the time I spent with the first two books and want to ask, Did it really have to end this way?

Example: Boundless by Cynthia Hand, Fire Study by Maria Snyder

Triple Platinum 

Hey book, you're everything I've ever wanted in a series. I can see us growing old together. Will you marry me? I don't want to spend a day without you.

These books are going on my favorites shelf where I will frequently gaze upon their beauty and reread them in the years to come. All three books were just so wonderful - it doesn't get any better than this!

Example: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling, Into Temptation by Penny Vincenzi, As Sure as the Dawn by Francine Rivers

Have you gone through any of these stages while reading a series? 
What are some examples of series that have fallen into these categories? 
Is there one "stage" that you constantly find yourself in?
I'm curious - give me the scoop!

All gifs from

Alliances & Intrigue

Mar 13, 2013

Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell

Release Date: February 2013
Publisher: Penguin | Viking
Pages: 416 pages
Source & Format: NetGalley; e-ARC
Series: Emma of Normandy #1
Amazon | Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
In 1002, fifteen-year-old Emma of Normandy crosses the Narrow Sea to wed the much older King Athelred of England, whom she meets for the first time at the church door. Thrust into an unfamiliar and treacherous court, with a husband who mistrusts her, stepsons who resent her and a bewitching rival who covets her crown, Emma must defend herself against her enemies and secure her status as queen by bearing a son.

Determined to outmaneuver her adversaries, Emma forges alliances with influential men at court and wins the affection of the English people. But her growing love for a  man who is not her husband and the imminent threat of a Viking invasion jeopardize both her crown and her life.

Thoughts on Shadow on the Crown
Shadow on the Crown is set in Medieval England in the year A.D. 1002. King Athelred's wife dies in childbirth so he choose Emma, the fifteen-year-old sister of the Duke of Normandy, as his next wife. This alliance with Normandy is an attempt to strengthen his country's borders, but it comes with a price. To achieve his own ends, he agrees to make Emma his Queen and not just his consort.

It's a calculated move on Normandy's part. They have given Emma more power than her predecessor, but it's up to her to secure her position. She must produce a son, a potential heir to the throne, to gain power and authority. Without a son, she is very close to being disposable and easily replaced.

Athelred already has many children from his previous wife, and he has no need of an heir. His oldest son, Athelstan, is meant to inherit his throne one day. The only problem" Athelstan's mother wasn't a Queen, so there's a chance Emma's child could take precedence. This causes his children and many of his court to distrust Emma, and she must prove herself to everyone.

There is so much drama and political intrigue in Shadow on the Crown. The King fears for his people and believes there is a threat within his borders. A questionable decision on his part provokes a fierce enemy, and it's like waking a sleeping beast. In addition to the threat of war, Athelred is a man possessed. He is haunted by hallucinations of his dead brother, Edmund, the previous King who was killed in cold blood.

Athelred wrestles with guilt over Edmund's death, and it makes him seem like a madman. He is quick to anger, suspicious of everyone, threatened by everything and slowly going insane from the guilt and fear. It makes him dangerous to everyone, but most of all to Emma. Add to all of that a young woman named Elgiva who wants Emma's position and power for herself. Needless to say, Emma faces daunting challenges in her new role as Queen.

These four threads make up the fabric of what Emma must face in Shadow on the Crown: Athelstan's fear that he will lose his position as heir, the King's increasing insanity and cruelty, Elgiva's desire to get what she wants at any cost, and the threat to the country from outside it's borders. The book features the viewpoints of each of these three characters (Athelstan, Athelred, Elgiva), as well as Emma's own.

Emma is such an interesting heroine! She's brave at time, fearful in others. She refuses to be conquered and demands respected. She is navigating dark and murky waters and isn't able to avoid all the storms. Seeing her try to find her way in this new world, watching her try to gain some measure of power, is incredibly fascinating. She is both wise and foolish by turns, and I loved being able to experience this part of her journey.

Shadow on the Crown ends at a certain point in Emma's story because it's the first book in a trilogy about her life. I knew nothing about this woman before starting the book, but I was excited to read about a time period and Queen that were mostly foreign to me. The book was a little slow for me in the beginning, but I think it's partly because of the complexity of the characters' names and relationships. Once I really began to grasp who everyone was in this story, I sped through the book and couldn't wait to see what happened to Emma and England.

If you like historical fiction, I'd definitely recommend that you spend some time with Shadow on the Crown. It took a little time for it to grow on me, but now I'm eagerly awaiting the next book in this trilogy. If you prefer your historical fiction be mostly fact, you may want to know that the author does admit to taking a number of liberties in this book because historians seem to know the least about this period of Emma's life. Since I just want books to be well-written and engaging, I'm not bothered by any of Bracewell's changes. It is, after all, historical fiction. Bracewell's debut was impressive, and I'm excited to see where she leads us in the next book!

So Quotable
"Regrets are useless, Emma. They force you to look always to the past. You would do better to look toward the future, to change what is amiss rather than weep over how things came to be that way."

*I received a copy of this book from Penguin/Viking in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way for my review.

Spring Into Action

Mar 12, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week they post a new topic/Top Ten list and invite everyone to share their own answers. I'm so obsessed with lists!

Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR

1. Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore - I was participating in the #CashoreGoodTimes read-along of this series, but then I totally slacked off and didn't reread Fire. However, since Bitterblue is a first time read for me, I'll definitely be joining back in and knocking this off my TBR list.

2. Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham - I adore Gilmore Girls AND Lauren Graham, so you can imagine my excitement level when I was approved for this book on NetGalley. Needless to say, I cannot wait to dive into this one soon!

3. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas - After including this on last week's list, I'm even more sure now that I need to bump this up on my TBR and make it a priority this spring. So excited to meet this kick-butt heroine!

4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer - I know, I know. This was also on my list last week, and basically everyone that had read this one said I needed to get to it SOON. So I am, okay? I hear you!

5. The Passing Bells by Phillip Rock - Sorry, guys! I think this was on last week's list, too. But that's only because I'm seriously so excited to start this series that has earned some Downton Abbey comparisons. LOVE THAT SHOW!

6. City Girl, Country Vet by Cathy Woodman - I totally bought this one because I love the cover, and I think it's high time I got around to this one. It's got a dog on the cover, so I think this book is just begging to be "taken on a walk" around the reading block.

7. The Turncoat by Donna Thorland - For my TTT list about settings I wanted more of, I mentioned that I was dying for a little more Revolutionary War fiction. Well, I think the publishing world took note because I just bought myself this newly-released book set during that time period and cannot wait for the adventures and swoon.

8. Secrets Over Sweet Tea by Denise Hildreth Jones - I love this author and think the title of this one is just so Southern, so you better believe this will be a spring read for me. I thought about saving it for the summer, but I just can't wait that long!

9. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell - I recently read and really enjoyed Attachments, so I'm really excited for Rainbow's second book. Based on the buzz I've been hearing, this is one I'm going to enjoy!

10. Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta - I'm currently hosting a read-along for the first two books in the Lumatere Chronicles, so you better believe this will be at the top of my TBR in about a month. I'm so excited to see where this story leads!

Like the Waves in the Sea

Mar 11, 2013

Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

Release Date: January 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 341 pages
Series: Under the Never Sky #2
Source & Format: Bought; Kindle e-book
Amazon Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
It's been months since Aria learned of her mother's death.

Months since Perry became Blood Lord of the Tides, and months since Aria last saw him.

Now Aria and Perry are about to be reunited. It's a moment they've been longing for with countless expectations. And it's a moment that lives up to all of them. At least, at fi rst. Then it slips away. The Tides don't take kindly to former Dwellers like Aria. And the tribe is swirling out of Perry's control. With the Aether storms worsening every day, the only remaining hope for peace and safety is the Still Blue. But does this haven truly exist?

Threatened by false friends and powerful temptations, Aria and Perry wonder, Can their love survive through the ever night?

Thoughts on Through the Ever Night
Last week I told you that I fell in love with Under the Never Sky, and many of you commented that you couldn't wait for me to read Through the Ever Night. I smiled every time I saw a comment like that because, surprise, I had already read it by the time I published my review of Under the Never Sky. But I must say you were all right - I loved Through the Ever Night even more than the first book! There's no second book slump here.

I was immediately hooked on this story, unlike my experience with the first book. I'm sure it was because I was already familiar with this world and it's terminology, which made it easier for me to get drawn into this book. So often, the second book in a series just seems like it's there to set up the action of the third book. Thankfully, Through the Ever Night avoids that completely. I learned more about some things introduced in the first book that weren't fully fleshed out, as well as saw how Rossi was setting everything up for an action-packed conclusion.

Through the Ever Night picks up right where the first book left off, and I was immediately reminded of why I love Aria and Perry together. Aria returns to the Tides with Perry, which introduces some drama and conflict because the tribe considers her an outsider. They are wary of her, and it also causes them to question their new Blood Lord. Aria and Perry's relationship continues to develop in a way that was both natural and admirable. I love how they complement each other and want to be together, but they aren't dependent on each other! Aria is independent and sometimes opinionated AND makes a hard decision when she believes it is what is best for Perry and his tribe.

I really loved Perry in Under the Never Sky, but it was so wonderful to be able to see him truly begin to come into his own in this book. Perry struggles to do the right thing and be the kind of leader his people need, and I loved seeing him try to navigate the challenges that arise in his new role. Rossi really excels at writing from his perspective. When she talked at the Pitch Dark Days event, she mentioned that she had her husband read Perry's section and give her feedback on whether he thought it seemed authentic. She also mentioned that she had an all-guy critique group, and I loved finding that out. You can tell she wanted to make sure she got his voice right.

While we're talking about falling in love with boys, I have to mention that Roar really shines in Through the Ever Night. I really enjoyed him in book one, but I just fell in love with him in this book. His search for Liv and friendship with Aria are endearing. I was rooting for him in this one! Also, I absolutely adore Rossi for creating a guy/guy/girl friendship that DOES NOT become a triangle. Perry and Roar truly care for one another, and you can tell that they will always have each others backs. But I also loved how Aria and Roar really bond in this one - some of my favorite parts in this book include these two!

I cannot say enough good things about this book, and it's definitely made me fall in love with Veronica Rossi. I was amazed at the character development and the spot-on pacing. Just like Under the Never Sky, this book leaves you satisfied but eagerly awaiting more! I cannot wait to see how this story concludes in Into the Still Blue.

So Quotable
"He paused, his gaze focused completely on her. 'Come back with me, Aria. Be with me.' Something brilliant unfolded inside of her at the sound of those words. She memorized them as she would a song: every note, unhurried, spoken in his deep, warm timbre. Whatever happened, she'd keep those words."

"Then he told Perry that love was like the waves in the sea, gentle and good sometimes, rough and terrible at others, but that it was endless and stronger than the sky and the earth and everything in between."

"She'd been seeking the comfort of a place. Of walls. A roof. A pillow to rest her head on. Now she realized that the people she loved were what gave her life shape, and comfort, and meaning."

Froi of the Exiles: Week One

Mar 8, 2013

We just finished Finnikin of the Rock, and now it's time to dive into Froi of the Exiles! After his growth as a character in the previous book, I'm so excited to follow Froi's journey. I don't know where this book will lead, but I think there is a lot in store for us considering the book's thickness.

Well ladies, time to get to discussing! Discussion questions after the jump.

Always About Us

Mar 7, 2013

Roar and Liv by Veronica Rossi

Release Date: October 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 68 pages
Series: Under the Never Sky #0.5
Source & Format: Bought; Kindle e-book
Amazon Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
After a childhood spent wandering the borderlands, Roar finally feels like he has a home with the Tides. His best friend Perry is like a brother to him, and Perry's sister, Liv, is the love of his life. But Perry and Liv's unpredictable older brother, Vale, is the Blood Lord of the Tides, and he has never looked kindly on Roar and Liv's union. Normally, Roar couldn't care less about Vale's opinion. But with food running low and conditions worsening every day, Vale's leadership is more vital - and more brutal - than ever. Desperate to protect his tribe, Vale makes a decision that will shatter the life Roar knew and change the fate of the Tides forever.

Thoughts on Roar and Liv
I fell in love with Roar in Under the Never Sky, and I was dying to learn more about him. Despite the fact that it was almost $3 for 68 pages, I decided to actually buy this e-novella. I think this is a fairly recent phenomenon in Young Adult, but I've noticed more and more e-novellas released recently. While I understand the appeal for the publisher, I haven't been convinced to buy one until now. By their very nature, they aren't "necessary" to the story. It's a series extra - something that potentially fleshes out a certain character - but isn't going to affect a reader's understanding of the story if it isn't read.

While I wanted to love Roar and Liv, I really just wanted more at the end of the day. The pages just flew by, and I was incredibly disappointed with the novella when I was done. It's not that I didn't love the characters or the writing because they were just as great as I remembered from Under the Never Sky. It was more that I had the feeling like I'd paid for something that was extraneous and did little to nothing to further the story.

Roar and Liv was actually set before the events of Under the Never Sky, so it's really more of a prequel. The book gives you a little insight into Roar and Liv's relationship leading up to Liv being promised to Sable, the leader of the Horns tribe. It ends when Liv runs away during their journey to deliver her to the tribe. It gives you all the background that happened before Roar joins Perry and Aria in Under the Never Sky.

Since Roar's search for Liv becomes even more important in Through the Ever Night, I did appreciate that I had a little more insight into their relationship. However, it was really a surface-level type look at their relationship. You don't get their full history, and it left me feeling like it was just a teaser. I so wanted to love this novella, but I didn't really think it was worth the cost. If it had been $0.99 then I'd absolutely recommend checking it out before starting Through the Ever Night. As it was, I think it's safe to pass on this novella without missing out on much.

So Quotable
"I'd never seen a decent example of a husband. What I've seen are men who shine like silver at first, then tarnish and eventually disappear. Is marriage something that has to be taught, or can you learn it by ear?

"You're part of me, Olivia. Anything that involves you is always about us."

"My ambitions aren't grand. All I have ever wanted is to be there for the two people who mean everything to me. Maybe that's a small goal to others, but it's always felt like enough."

Better Than Real?

Mar 6, 2013

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Release Date: January 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 389 pages
Series: Under the Never Sky #1
Source & Format: Bought; Kindle ebook
Amazon Goodreads

Summary (from Amazon)
Since she’d been on the outside, she’d survived an Aether storm, she’d had a knife held to her throat, and she’d seen men murdered. This was worse.

Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland—known as The Death Shop—are slim. If the cannibals don’t get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She’s been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He’s wild—a savage—and her only hope of staying alive.

A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile—everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria’s help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.

Thoughts on Under the Never Sky
Before I ever picked it up, I had read great things about Under the Never Sky. So I went into it with really high expectations... and then spent the first 20% completely confused. Rather than slowly introduce us to the new world, or even spend some time explaining things, Rossi throws you right into this dystopian setting with little introduction.

The action starts early in this book, and I think it's a little disconcerting as a reader. While I certainly don't need pages and pages of exposition describing a new world, I do think there needs to be a little easing readers into the new world. The new terminology alone is overwhelming - dwellers, outsiders, death shop, aether, seer, scires, pods, realms - and that's just some of the things you'll learn about in this book! There was definitely a science fiction feel to this book and, to be honest, I wasn't sure how I was going to end up feeling about Under the Never Sky.

I had such a hard time getting into it at a first, but then, things started to change. Perry and Aria unite to help each other accomplish their different goals - Aria to find her mother and Perry to save Talon - and then the plot and characters really became engaging. Chapters alternate between Aria and Perry's perspective. Sometimes, there is one character I like better so I look forward to those chapters more. In this case, I loved both characters equally and really just wanted to read even more from both!

Then, Perry's best friend, Roar, joins them. And that's when I fell even more in love with this book. There isn't a love triangle in Under the Never Sky, but there is a really unique triangle that develops between these three. When I heard Rossi speak at a book signing, she described it as a "stable" love triangle. Perry and Aria develop feelings for one another, Perry is best friends with Roar, and Aria and Roar develop their own friendship. I don't think I've ever read anything quite like this, and I loved the dynamic between all three characters!

While I wanted more from the world-building and still didn't feel like I understand everything about certain aspects of this book (such as the aether), I absolutely fell in love with the characters. Their interactions are so enjoyable, and I knew that I'd be reading the next book just because I had to know how their stories continued. Aria really takes control of her situation when she's cast out of Reverie. I loved that she wasn't necessarily kick-ass from the beginning, but she absolutely knows how to hold her own. Perry is dark and intense, but I adored his passion for his family, his hopes for his people and his desire to do the right thing. Roar was funny, charming and brought so much to the story that I wish he had his own book!

Also, this is one heck of an amazing romance. There's no instant feelings here. It's a slow-build that develops naturally and believably, and it totally delivers on the swoon. This was also an instance where I loved being able to "be" inside both characters' minds because it gave their relationship so much added depth.

I loved that the book left me wanting to know what happened next, but it still felt like it was complete conclusion. There isn't a cliffhanger, and it ends on the perfect note. Some trilogies leave you feeling like you've only been able to sample an appetizer before you're cut off - you're left hanging and just keep hoping the main course will get here faster! In this case, it was like eating a delicious, full meal. You're completely satisfied, but are still looking forward to being able to come back for more in the future.

So Quotable
"And in life, at least in her new life, chances were the best she could hope for. They were like her rocks. Imperfect and surprising and maybe better in the long run than certainties."

"Touches that had no real purpose but to say I’m here and We are together still."
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