Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Oh-My-Word... Readathon: Final Tally

The readathon is over! It was so much fun, and I'm glad I participated.

Total Books Read: 3

  • Inheritance, by Christopher Paolini
  • The Coming of the Dragon, by Rebecca Barnhouse
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor

Although the number of books finished wasn't too high this time around, I think it was the perfect amount of reading for right now. I read the second half of Inheritance, the last two-thirds of The Coming of the Dragon, and all of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I also made significant progress in but did not finish Tales of Grimm and Andersen. I spent a lot of time reading, but I never felt like I was overwhelmed by too much reading (yes, there is such a thing). After I finished Smoke and Bone I had a couple of hours left before the readathon ended, but I didn't pick anything else up because it was a wonderful book to end the year with.
See you in 2012,

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Oh-My-Word... Readathon!

The readathon has officially begun! Somehow, life tends to get in the way of reading on the specific dates that readathons are scheduled for, but I'll at least keep a book on hand throughout the next two days.

I will probably not be updating my progress much, but I will have a final tally up on January 1st.

What I want to finish:
I have several books that I have gotten about halfway through and that I'd like to finish in the next day or so, or at least make significant progress on:

  • Inheritance, by Christopher Paolini
  • The Coming of the Dragon, by Rebecca Barnhouse
  • Tales of Grimm and Andersen, by The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen
I don't have many goals beyond that, as I can tell those three will be quite a bit of reading on their own, but I have a ton of books stacked up by my bed (my regular TBR shelf  and  the temporarily commandeered "helper shelf" are both full and have additional books stacked on top of them) that I would love to begin, including but not limited to:
  • Shatter Me, by Tareh Mafi
  • The Princess Curse, by Merrie Haskell
  • Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, by Jonathan Auxier
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor
  • Liesl and Po, by Lauren Oliver
  • Well Witched, by Frances Hardinge
  • Spindle's End, by Robin McKinley
  • Wither, by Lauren DeStephano
  • Birthmarked, by Caragh O'Brien
And as if those and several large handfuls more were not enough (because you can never have too much with books), I have a few by my bed that I've been itching to reread for a while now:
  • Enna Burning, by Shannon Hale
  • River Secrets, by Shannon Hale
  • Forest Born, by Shannon Hale
  • Dragon Flight, by Jessica Day George
  • Dragon Spear, by Jessica Day George
  • East, by Edith Pattou
I have no intention of getting through these lists, but they're much of my selection. And the books that I don't get to now will be the one's I'll be reading in the next few weeks, or more likely, months.

Are you participating in the Oh-My-Word... Readathon? Have you read any of the books above? What should I read first? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mini-Review: Dealing With Dragons

by Patricia C. Wrede
Age Recommendation: 8-10 (but fun for everyone)
Mass Market Paperback, 212 pages
     and Audiobook, 5 dics
Published July 1st 1992 by Scholastic Inc. (first published September 18th 1990)
Series: Book 1 of The Enchanted Forest Chronicles

Summary (from Goodreads):
"I want to do things. . . ."

Take one bored princess. Make her the seventh daughter in a very proper royal family. Have her run away.

Add one powerful, fascinating, dangerous dragon.

Princess Cimorene has never met anyone (or anything) like the dragon Kazul. But then, she's never met a witch, a jinn, a death-dealing talking bird, or a stone prince either.

Princess Cimorene ran away to find some excitement.

She's found plenty.

My Mini-Review:
Dealing With Dragons was a ton of fun. In a time of rash and impulsive YA protagonists, I loved this book about practical, no-nonsense princess Cimorene. I listened to the audiobook version, and although some of the voices were a little bit silly, overall it was a wonderful audiobook. The story is simple and fun, nothing too complex, yet it is a wonderfully magical and delightfully innocent tale that is simply a pleasure to listen to. I can still hear the voices of Cimorene, Kazul, Therendil (her hopelessly boring fiancĂ©), and Alianora (her best friend, princess of the dragon Woraug as I think back on the story. This was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, and I will definitely keep it in mind when I come looking for a good book to listen to again.

Monday, December 26, 2011

I'm back, and ready to blog!

Hello, hello! I'm back from my unexpected blogging break, and fully recharged. I hope you all had a wonderful (insert holiday of your choice here), and are enjoying the last few days of 2011.

I've had a great few weeks in terms of reading. Since I went on break, some highlights were: The Circle Opens (series) & The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce, Inheritance by Christopher Paolini (still in the middle of this one, but I like it so far!), So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld, and Legend by Marie Lu. All were great. I also got a bunch of books as gifts (and bought a few for myself) that I am so excited about and cannot wait to begin. Thank you, bookish gift-givers!

In a few days, I will be participating in the Squeaky-Books-hosted oh-my-word-the-year-is-over-and-I-haven't-reached-my-goal read-a-thon, which takes place on December 30th and 31st. I have actually met my goal of 200 books in 2011 (yay!!) but I'd love to get a few more in before the year ends. I have huge stack of library books that I can't wait to open up, not to mention all the wonderful books I received in the past few weeks. The picture to the left links to Squeaky Books for more information and sign-ups.

One last thing: I saw this video today on Victoria Schwab's (amazing author of The Near Witch) blog, and I'd love to share it. Videos like this make my day. Hurray for YA authors doing fun things!

Happy post-holidays relaxing!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Quick Update

Hello, readers.
I just wanted to let you all know why I haven't been posting on Pica Reads nearly as much as I would have liked recently. In September and even October, I had time to write posts for at least an hour a night. In November, my workload increased significantly, and I now have time for about a half an hour a night to write, which is usually spent on other activities, such as sleeping and that "one more chapter" of whatever book I'm reading. I wish I could share with you all the wonderful books I'm reading, but I just don't have the time to review them all. So for now, I've suspended Weekly Review and IMM posts, and I've been focusing on reviews as well as a new feature I hope to start posting soon. I have a few reviews lined up that I'd like to tweak just a little more before posting, so you'll be seeing those soon.

Happily, though, Winter Break is just around the corner, and I'll be able to jump right back in.

If I don't get to post reviews of some of my new favorites in the coming weeks, here's a list of recent reads that I loved:
  • Breadcrumbs, by Anne Ursu
  • Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick
  • Icefall, by Matthew J. Kirby (I did review this one, see my review of Icefall!)
  • Chime, by Franny Billingsley (AMAZING!)
I also checked out a ridiculous number of books out the the library, and I'm really looking forward to them. They look fantastic!

Until later,

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review: Icefall

by Matthew J. Kirby
Age Recommendation: Middle Grade, Young Adult
Hardcover, 325 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by Scholastic Press

Summary (from Goodreads):
Trapped in a hidden fortress tucked between towering mountains and a frozen sea, Solveig, along with her brother the crown prince, their older sister, and an army of restless warriors, anxiously awaits news of her father's victory at battle. But as winter stretches on, and the unending ice refuses to break, terrible acts of treachery soon make it clear that a traitor lurks in their midst. A malevolent air begins to seep through the fortress walls, and a smothering claustrophobia slowly turns these prisoners of winter against one another.

Those charged with protecting the king's children are all suspect, and the siblings must choose their allies wisely. But who can be trusted so far from their father's watchful eye? Can Solveig and her siblings survive the long winter months and expose the traitor before he succeeds in destroying a kingdom?

My Review
Icefall was surprisingly good, although I don't see why it was a surprise. Kirby's debut novel, The Clockwork Three, was excellent, and in many ways, I enjoyed Icefall even more. Opening the first few pages, I was a little apprehensive, but I needn't have worried.

The first thing that should be noted is the wonderful historical context and incorporation of the culture, myths, and history of the Nordic culture central to the story. It's always a treat to read about a culture so steeped in myths and traditions. From the forbidding mountains and glaciers surrounding Solveig and her family to the actions and mindsets of the characters down to the smallest details of their lifestyle were perfectly in tune with the time and created a wonderful picture all together.

As wonderful as the setting was, Kirby's characters seemed to leap off the pages, and they were the real strength of the story. I felt as if I knew personally each of the characters, and was surprised to find out I didn't know some at all. All of the characters were so full and fleshed out, and they each seemed like real people. Even when the traitor was revealed, I couldn't dislike them - I almost wanted to keep rooting for them.

Not only was the plot wonderful, with a great mystery, Solveig's journey was delightful to read about. From the little girl unsure of who she is and where she belongs, she transforms into a wonderfully strong protagonist making her way in the world. Especially poignant to me was the scene toward the end of the book where she must hide her identity and she chooses, rather than to hide in a new name, to reveal both her true identity and her true strength.

Kirby weaves his story with so many layers that even days later I was still realizing new things about the story. There are so many things I could mention: the discussion about the power of stories, about identity, about community, about loyalty, all wrapped into a wonderful, historical mystery and coming-of-age story. As soon as I finished, I was ready to leap back in again. The entire book felt almost magical, although no magic was happening between the pages. This is a book rich for discussion, recommendation, and many, many rereads.

Overall Thoughts: The more I reflect on it, the more I think Icefall will take its place among my favorite books. Highly recommended.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Weekly Review (14 November - 20 November)

In Weekly Reviews, I summarize the posts I've published over the week, as well as the books I'm currently reading, books I've finished over the week, some upcoming reviews, and any comments I'd like to include about the past week. The weekly review feature was inspired by Small Review.

In case you've missed anything, here's what I posted from Monday, November 14th through Sunday, November 20th.


Memes & Features

none this week!

Books Completed

Bone, by Jeff Smith

Bone is a fantastic graphic novel that I highly recommend to everyone. I've read it many times, but I don't usually write it down (mostly because I read it so much). But since I didn't finish anything else this week, I thought I'd mention it.

Currently Reading

The 13th Reality: The Blade of Shattered Hope, by James Dashner
Dealing With Dragons, by Patricia C. Wrede

13th Reality is really good, but taking a while longer than I expected it to. As for Dealing With Dragons, I got the audio version out of the library and I love revisiting it. I will hopefully post a review when I'm done.

General Updates

Again, I don't know what happened to this week. All of my extra time seems to have vanished. I might be able to post a bit more this coming week, but most likely I'll get back on schedule next week. Happy Thanksgiving!

What's going on this week for you?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Review: The Death Cure

by James Dashner
Start Date: 19 October 2011
End Date: 21 October 2011
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 11th 2011 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Summary (from Goodreads):
Thomas knows that Wicked can't be trusted, but they say the time for lies is over, that they've collected all they can from the Trials and now must rely on the Gladers, with full memories restored, to help them with their ultimate mission. It's up to the Gladers to complete the blueprint for the cure to the Flare with a final voluntary test.

What Wicked doesn't know is that something's happened that no Trial or Variable could have foreseen. Thomas has remembered far more than they think. And he knows that he can't believe a word of what Wicked says.

The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine.

Will anyone survive the Death Cure?

The Death Cure is the third book in the Maze Runner trilogy. 
This review contains no spoilers for The Maze Runner or The Scorch Trials. 

My Review:
I waited a while before writing this review because The Death Cure was so mindblowing that I couldn't get my thoughts together enough to write a coherent review. Part of the amazingness was in the particular circumstance when I was reading it, but there's no denying that James Dashner has written a fantastic conclusion to the Maze Runner trilogy.

What made the Death Cure so great was not necessarily the amazing writing but the epicness of the plot. Events were happening so fast, and with so much force that they had me shouting in the middle of lunch and jumping up and down trying not to spill the plot to my friends.

Perhaps the only complaint I had with The Death Cure was that although Thomas had a clear goal the entire time - to destroy Wicked - for much of the book, he wasn't sure how to accomplish it, which led to a slightly meandering plot. Once it got rolling, however, there was no stopping.

I'd recommend rereading The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials before reading The Death Cure because not only does the plot make more sense if you remember more of the previous books, but the trilogy works best as one continuous story.

Although I can see how some readers might think the ending worked out a little too nicely, I didn't think so at all. Actually, I thought it was the perfect way to end the series. Sure, they all got to live happily ever after away from Wicked and without fear of catching the Flare, but meanwhile, the world is still going to fall apart, Thomas still doesn't have all of his memories back, and Newt and Theresa (and Chuck!) are still dead. That doesn't seem like such a happy ending to me. But there's no way it could have ended any other way. What were they supposed to do? And I liked the way it tied into the Maze Trials - the Gladers already proved that they could create a stable society in a harsh environment. Even though the epilogue said that Wicked failed in it's mission, in a way the Maze Trials did exactly what they were supposed to do - they completed a World In Catastrophe experiment, and it succeeded. 

Overall Thoughts: Very well done. A great conclusion to a great trilogy.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weekly Review (7 November - 13 November)

In Weekly Reviews, I summarize the posts I've published over the week, as well as the books I'm currently reading, books I've finished over the week, some upcoming reviews, and any comments I'd like to include about the past week. The weekly review feature was inspired by Small Review and Butterfly Feet Walking on Life.

In case you've missed anything, here's what I posted from Monday, November 7th through Sunday, November 13th.


none this week!

Memes & Features

Books Completed

The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick
Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick
Between the Sea and Sky, by Jaclyn Dolamore
Magic Steps, by Tamora Pierce

The Invention of Hugo Cabret was wonderful as always, and I liked Wonderstuck just as much if not even more. Between the Sea and Sky was very sweet and just what I needed. Magic Steps was classic Tamora Pierce, and a great MG read that left me wanting more. 

Currently Reading

The 13th Reality: The Blade of Shattered Hope, by James Dashner

I really liked the first two Thirteenth Reality books, and The Blade of Shattered Hope is good as well. So far I'm really enjoying it, although the problem in a series like this is that one must raise the stakes every time, and Tick (the main character) has already saved the world twice over. 

General Updates

This past week flew by! I can't believe it's already Sunday again. I didn't finish any reviews, and read surprisingly little. I have no idea where the time went. This coming week hopefully I'll get back on track.

What's going on this week for you?

In My Mailbox, 18th Edition

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.
Participants are encouraged to talk about anything bookish they received during the week.

Inheritance, by Christopher Paolini
Received: Pre-ordered
Inheritance is the fourth book in the Inheritance cycle (which starts with Eragon). I liked the previous three books, but not enough to reread them before starting Inheritance. They're too long, and I have other books I'd rather read. I lent Inheritance to my brother and he's really liking it so far, so that's a good sign. I don't really know what to expect at this point, but hopefully it will be a great conclusion to the series.
Scumble, by Ingrid Law
Received: from Library
Scumble is the companion novel to Savvy, about Mibs's cousin. I liked Savvy, and I'm hoping Scumble will be just as good.

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Magic Steps, by Tamora Pierce
Received: from Library
Another Tamora Pierce. This one is the first book of The Circle Opens quartet, which is the sequel quartet to The Circle of Magic. I read these books in Middle School too, but I don't remember much of them. I'm looking forward to rediscovering them.

A Curse Dark as Gold, by Elizabeth C. Bunce
Received: from Library
A Curse Dark as Gold has ben on my TBR for the longest time. It's a retelling of Rumplestilskin - and anyone who reads this blog knows I can't resist a good fairytale retelling. I have high hopes for this book.

What's in your mailbox?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Interview with Nansi Kunze

Today I'm happy to have Nansi Kunze, the author of Dangerously Placed, here on Pica Reads to answer some questions about the publishing process for Dangerously Placed. You can click here to read my review of Dangerously Placed.

Nansi Kunze grew up surrounded by books in Australia and the UK, but (strangely) never had a childhood ambition to become a writer. After studying languages and ancient history at university, she spent several years teaching overseas-trained doctors how to pronounce rude words and teenagers how to mummify each other, whilst cultivating a taste for manga and video games in her spare time. Unsurprisingly, her early attempts at writing serious adult fiction failed. Fortunately she proved to be much better at writing slightly zany Young Adult fiction, and her first YA novel, Mishaps, came out in 2009 and her second, Dangerously Placed, is coming out in December. She lives on a small farm overlooking the Victorian Alps in Australia with her husband and son and their cat, Schrödinger.

What is it like going through the process of publishing a book? Is it fun, exasperating, exciting, exhausting or all these and more? What makes it so?

I can certainly be all of those things! I’m very lucky with my editors, though – they’ve made the fun and excitement outweigh anything else.

One potentially frustrating aspect of publishing a book is that it’s a very long process; after all those long months of working on a novel manuscript, you could well be waiting another year to see your book in stores from the time it’s accepted. There are good reasons for this: the amount of work your manuscript will still need, the number of other books your editors will be working on at the same time, typesetting, cover designs and so on. As the author, the most exasperating thing about it is that you’re usually working on another manuscript by then, so you don’t really want to be dragged back to your previous story for edits. The amount of time it actually takes bothers my friends a lot more than it does me – they’re all excited when my novel’s accepted, but then can’t believe how long they have to wait before they can actually read the book!

The publishing process has a lot of ups and downs. Receiving a structural edit covered in corrections and suggestions can be terrifying, and sometimes embarrassing. When I got the structural edit for Dangerously Placed, I discovered that the rules I’d set up for my virtual office system, Virk, made it impossible for the murder to happen the way I’d planned! The upside to awkward things like that, though, is that quite often the solution you find for a gaping plot hole can have added benefits, like allowing you to strengthen a character’s motivation or add in another fun scene, which is a great feeling. Getting page proofs and ARCs in the mail is thrilling, too, but the most exciting part for me is the dizzying moment when the publishers accept my novel. Nothing beats that.

How did the publishing process for Dangerously Placed differ from that of Mishaps, your first published novel?

It was both faster and slower. I wrote Mishaps before my son was born, so I’d had the time to do three complete drafts of it before sending it to the publishers. Dangerously Placed, on the other hand, was written while I was a stay-at-home mum with a toddler. It took so long for me to complete the first draft that I sent it straight to my editor, asking if she could tell me if I was even on the right track before I tried to do a second draft. I was completely shocked when she emailed to say that they’d decided to buy the novel after reading that first draft! So the novel’s acceptance happened faster, but the time it took to then be published was longer, because I had to do another draft before it was ready for proper editing.

How much say did you have in choosing the cover for Dangerously Placed?

Not much, which I think is pretty standard. Apart from the ones who self-publish, I don’t know any authors who’ve been heavily involved in the cover design – our job is to do the words, not the pictures! There were some problems with the early designs for Dangerously Placed, so there wasn’t much time left once the publishers had resolved those. My editor sent the final design to me to see what I thought, and if there was something I’d really hated about it they’d have tried to address that in the short time before the books had to be printed, but I was quite happy with it. The process we went through with Mishaps was more usual: there were three cover designs, and I basically got to vote for one, as did the editorial team and the marketing team. I think we all agreed on that cover, though now I’m wondering what would’ve happened if we’d each chosen different designs!

What kinds of images did you and your publisher/cover designer consider before settling on the final cover?

After the final design had been agreed on, I did see the earlier designs. They were beautiful, but way too scary for this story! The images in them included a body in a business suit lying on the floor, close-ups of eyes, part of a computer motherboard and sinister shadows lurking in the background. My editor had also suggested beach images and pictures of Alex that were pixellated around the edges.

How well do you think the final cover fits your story?

Pretty well. I like the way it encapsulates the murder-mystery and virtual reality elements. A couple of reviewers have said they thought the cover was a bit misleading, because it makes Dangerously Placed look like a very dark, serious story, which it certainly isn’t! I’d have liked the design to hint at the humour that I think is a major part of the story, but I must confess that I don’t know how that could have been done.

Did you have any idea what the formatting of the book would look like before you received ARCs? Did you have any say in that process?

Yes, I knew what the formatting would look like. I was sent page proofs to check for typos as the final stage of the editing process – they’re printed exactly as they will be in the finished copies, but uncut and unbound. I didn’t have any say in that process. Short of discovering my book had been typeset in some kind of scary gothic font, I don’t think I’d have objected to anything much about the formatting!

Was there anything surprising that came up during the publishing process for either of your books? Any good stories to share?

The whole process was kind of surprising to me the first time round, since I really had no idea how big publishers worked! A couple of months after Mishaps was accepted, however, I had the chance to visit Random House Australia’s office in Sydney. I was incredibly nervous, but the editors were really lovely, introducing me to everyone and even giving me a bunch of YA novels from their shelves as presents. One of the editorial staff told me she’d read my manuscript and was ‘speechless at the awesomeness of it’ – which left me speechless with embarrassment and delight! But the most startling part was when my editor mentioned that they liked to get video interviews with their authors whenever one came to visit. My heart-rate went through the roof, until she kindly pointed out that they’d realised being filmed might be a bit much for me that day. Phew! I’ve gotten more used to being a ‘real’ author now, though. Hopefully when I next visit my publishers I’ll look a bit less clueless!

Thank you, Nansi!

Check out the other stops on the Dangerously Placed blog tour:
Nov 7 (Monday) – Jex at Everything and Nothing
Nov 8 (Tuesday) – Lyndsey at Strangemore
Nov 9 (Wednesday) – Kellie at Reawrite
Nov 10 (Thursday) – Bonnie at A Backwards Story
Nov 11 (Friday) – Pica at Pica Reads (here!)
Nov 12 (Saturday) – Lacey at Owl Love You Books
Nov 13 (Sunday) —Sarah Guthall at Inklings Read

And click here to read my review of Dangerously Placed!

Want to win a copy of Dangerously Placed? Sarah at Inklings Read is giving away a copy here! Ends 11/13.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Weekly Review (31 October - 6 November)

In Weekly Reviews, I summarize the posts I've published over the week, as well as the books I'm currently reading, books I've finished over the week, some upcoming reviews, and any comments I'd like to include about the past week. The weekly review feature was inspired by Small Review and Butterfly Feet Walking on Life.

In case you've missed anything, here's what I posted from Monday, October 31st through Sunday, November 6th.

+ End of FOOF


Memes & Features

Books Completed

Tuesdays at the Castle, by Jessica Day George
The King in the Window, by Adam Gopnik

Tuesdays at the Castle was lots of fun - a delightful MG that I will very likely be recommending to MG friends. The King in the Window was a FOOF read that I hadn't picked up for years. I was surprised by how clever it was. I'd happily recommend it to MG or YA readers. 

Crossed, by Ally Condie
Across the Universe, by Beth Revis

I loved Crossed, although I was not entirely happy with the way the story seems to be going. Across the Universe was a reread from January, and it was happily jut as good the second time around. It's always fun when you know all the answers and you can see the clues that the author leaves that you missed the first time around. 

Currently Reading

The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick
Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick

I saved Hugo Cabret for last of the FOOF books because not only did I want to have it to look forward to at the end of FOOF, but I also wanted to read it together with Wonderstruck. I haven't read Wonderstruck before, and I'm curious to see how it compares. 

General Updates

FOOF is finally over! I  d r a g g e d  it out until I'm sure you've forgotten all about it. If you have, it's the challenge I set for myself in late August not to buy any more books until I'd finished rereading eighteen old favorites (and there was a time challenge too, but I finished that part in August/September). Well, with a few swaps (Graceling and Fire for The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials because of sequel timing) I'm finishing my last FOOF book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, tonight! And I bought my first post-FOOF book, Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver, yesterday (a little early, but I couldn't resist). I'm going to try to hold out as much as possible and not buy too many books until after the holidays, but my ban is officially over!

In other news, I have a pretty new signature (see below) and I'm looking for a book-filled week. I have school off for Veteran's Day, so I plan to spend the day with my nose in a book. Happy Monday!

What's going on this week for you?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

In My Mailbox, 17th Edition

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.
Participants are encouraged to talk about anything bookish they received during the week.

Crossed, by Ally Condie
Received: Pre-ordered
I am SO excited to read Crossed. I loved Matched, and the reviews I've read so far said that Crossed was even better. I will definitely be putting this ahead of the rest of the to-read pile. I'm sure it's going to be fantastic. [Edit: Reading it now - it's so good.]

Triple Ripple, by Brigid Lowry
Received: From publisher for review (Thank you to Shara Zaval at Trafalgar Square Publishing!)
I'm not really sure what to expect from Triple Ripple, but the idea sounds really interesting - an author, the fairytale characters from her book, and the girl who reads it all have interweaving and parallel plots. I'm intrigued, and I have high hopes.

Liesl and Po, by Lauren Oliver
Bought (at an independent bookstore)
I've been looking forward to this book for months, and I could not resist getting it when I saw it in the bookstore. I cannot wait to start it. By the way, this breaks the book-buying ban I've been keeping up since August. I'll post more information on that tomorrow in my weekly review.

What's in your mailbox?

Review: Dangerously Placed

by Nansi Kunze
Start Date: 12 October 2011
End Date: 19 October 2011
Paperback, 282 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Random House Australia

Summary (from Goodreads):
He lay on the ground, his eyes open but unseeing, his pinstriped body blinking in and out of existence like the picture on a faulty television.

Alex Thaler can't wait to start her dream work experience placement at Virk, where staff from all over the world mingle in an astonishing virtual office. But when an employee is found murdered, the dream becomes a nightmare—because Alex is the prime suspect. Fortunately, Alex's friends are willing to brave shark tanks, disgusting pathology specimens, and even a nude beach in order to clear her name. Can a hippie chick, a goth girl in a lab coat, and two guys with a taste for blowing things up really help solve the mystery before Alex becomes the next victim?

My Review:
If I had to sum up Dangerously Placed in one word, I'd call it unique. It's very different from my normal reading experience, and I enjoyed the change. I kept coming back to it more to find out what crazy situation Alex had found herself in this time than to figure out the mystery. Not to say the mystery wasn't engaging - it was - but it wasn't the draw of the story.

Although the premise of Dangerously Placed had to do with virtual reality, much of the story had a contemporary feel - or at least, more contemporary than what I usually read. I liked Alex, who was easy to connect to, and the writing was informal and fun. Some of the supporting characters weren't as fully fleshed out as I would have liked, but none felt too flat, and all seemed like real people, although perhaps real people that one does not know very well. Some seemed a bit too quirky to be wholly believable. but each was far more developed than "list of character traits" stock characters.

The mystery fits into the story very well; it acted as a driving force without completely taking over. The incorporation of the virtual reality aspect made for a less-than-usual mystery, and Kunze revealed the clues superbly, without being too subtle or too obvious, and each making me suspect a different person. I was so pleased with myself every time I thought I had it figured out, only to be proved wrong several chapters later. But when I murderer was finally revealed I was totally taken by surprise. It wasn't so much an "aha" moment as a "wait... how does that... sure, I guess that makes sense" moment that made more and more sense as the whole backstory was revealed. I completely missed the clues leading me to the correct person, and so it took me completely by surprise. that said, some of you clever mystery-figure-outers will probably be able to guess much more easily than me. I tend not to see who the villain of the story is until the main character does. Much of the time I've just stopped trying.

I'd recommend Dangerously Placed to teens rather than MGers because of references to some "thematic material" although nothing much happens to Alex beyond a kiss or two (speaking of, the romance was completely unexpected and super sweet).

Overall Thoughts: A unique, fun murder mystery. I'm looking forward to more from Nansi Kunze.

Check back on Friday for an interview with Nansi Kunze as part of the Dangerously Placed blog tour!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Review: The Lost Saint

by Bree Despain
Start Date: 2 October 2011
End Date: 2 October 2011
Hardcover, 404 pages
Published December 28th 2010

This review contains spoilers for The Dark Divine. 

Summary (from Goodreads):
A family destroyed. A love threatened. An enemy returns.

Grace Divine made the ultimate sacrifice to cure Daniel Kalbi. She was infected with the werewolf curse while trying to save him, and lost her beloved brother in the process.

Desperate to find Jude, Grace befriends Talbot, a newcomer to town. But as the two grow closer, Grace's relationship with Daniel is put in danger - in more ways than one.

Unaware of the dark path she is walking, Grace begins to give into the wolf inside of her - not realizing that an enemy has returned and a deadly trap is about to be sprung.

Bree Despain delivers sizzling romance and thrilling action in the heart-pounding sequel to the The Dark Divine.

When I was reading reviews of The Lost Saint before picking up the book, I noticed that most of them fell into one of two categories: "This book was the most amazing thing I've ever read" or "This book was the worst thing I've ever read and I'm sorry I even bothered to read it."I expected to find myself somewhere in the middle, hopefully leaning toward "this was amazing." As it turned out, I found myself inclined toward the opposite. True, I could not put it down, and true, the writing was engaging, but even engrossed in the story, I was frustrated with the actions of all the characters.


I kept wanting her to just get it. Enough already. It was clear to me several hundred pages before it was clear to Grace that the voice was her wolf instinct, and that Talbot was no good (spoiler, highlight to view). What happened to the Grace I liked from The Dark Divine? The naive but rational and thoughtful Grace?


Really? Grace needs another forbidden, super-powered, bad-boy, werewolf crush? I understand why Talbot was a part of the plot, but I didn't like it.


I couldn't understand why Daniel still didn't trust Grace. After everything they went through in The Dark Divine, he still doesn't think Grace can handle his secrets. What will it take for Daniel to trust Grace? She already "made the ultimate sacrifice" to cure him, but he still can't let her know what's going on so that she'll stay away from people like Talbot.

Grace's Parents

The Lost Saint was missing the family dynamic that I liked in The Dark Divine. In The Dark Divine,  Grace's family was actually functional and involved in her life. I liked her family. But in The Lost Saint everything completely fell apart. Sure, I expected the events of The Dark Divine to have some effect, but I didn't expect as dramatic a change as I got.

Other Reactions

Will I be reading the sequel? Certainly. Did I like reading The Lost Saint? Absolutely. Did I wish these characters would get some sense knocked into them? Definitely.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Weekly Review (24 October - 30 October)

In Weekly Reviews, I summarize the posts I've published over the week, as well as the books I'm currently reading, books I've finished over the week, some upcoming reviews, and any comments I'd like to include about the past week. The weekly review feature was inspired by Small Review and Butterfly Feet Walking on Life.

In case you've missed anything, here's what I posted from Monday, October 24th through Sunday, October 30th.


Memes & Features

Keep Teaser Tuesday? (poll still open!)

Books Completed

Dogsbody, by Diana Wynne Jones
A Kiss in Time, by Alex Flinn
Cloaked, by Alex Flinn

Dogsbody was a nice book, but it wasn't the right book for me. I never felt that involved, but I generally liked it. Both A Kiss in Time and Cloaked were excellent fairytale retellings taking place in today's world. Fun and light. 

The Son of Neptune, by Rick Riordan
Breadcrumbs, by Anne Ursu

The Son of Neptune was not phenomenal, but worth reading. I liked it more than The Lost Hero, and some parts were fun. Breadcrumbs was fantastic - by far the best book this week. It was grounded in reality but rose to fantastical heights. I will definitely write a review for this one.

[schoolbooks not pictured]

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories, by Washington Irving (for school)

The Narrative of Frederick Douglass (for school)

Currently Reading

Tuesdays at the Castle, by Jessica Day George

JDG is dependably fun. I'm having a lovely time reading Tuesdays at the Castle. 

[schoolbooks not pictured]

Tales from Grimm and Andersen, by The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen
Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe (for school)

General Updates

It's great to be back. More reviews and features are coming this week!

What's going on this week for you?


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