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Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

In a sentence or so: Anna attends boarding school in France for a year because her douchebag dad thinks it will help culture her and stuff. She makes new friends, learns more about herself, and has complicated feelings for a hot british dude.

Here’s the deal. I know everyone and their mom has read this book already, so I will save you the synopsis. If you’re one of the 8 people left on the planet who haven’t read this yet, you can certainly check out the summary at Goodreads.

Since we are reading about Anna’s time in Paris as it happened, I felt like her friends were my friends. And while School of America in Paris probably didn’t have a yearbook because yearbooks are lame, let’s pretend they did. This is what I’d write in each of their yearbooks.

Mer – I will forever and always love you because you reached out to Anna on her first night. You set the tone for her whole year in Paris by being sweet and thoughtful and patient with her. While things didn’t work out for you and St. Clair, I have NO DOUBT that some seriously rockstar boy is in your future because you deserve THE BEST.

Rashmi – For reasons I don’t fully understand, I liked you a whole helluva lot. Something about your understated snarkiness and low-key compassion for all of your friends is just fantastic. I respect you to the moon and back.

Josh – Your subtle humor and ability to help the group feel at ease, even in the most awkward of situations, is such a gift. You were the perfect bro for St. Clair. I have no doubt y’all talked about Anna and Ellie all the dang time. I also secretly loved that you frequently cut class and drew all the time.

Anna – How I love your love for all things movies. I would totally watch It Happened One Night with you on repeat for a decade because I love it – and you - that much. I felt your pain with the whole being in a New Place situation, but you handled it magnificently. Do me a favor and don’t sell yourself short – you are hilarious, insightful, and a great friend.

St. Clair – You had me at your rants about Rasputin. As a history nerd who is particularly charged about the whole Tsar Nicolas II situation, this made my heart beat OUT OF MY RIBCAGE like a cartoon. Your love for Anna manifesting as a friendship first was the absolute BEST. Thanks for being the guy she needed you to be. I’m sorry about your mom, bro. Also, sorry your dad is a dickbag.

There are so many fun elements to this story. Like being in Paris, being at boarding school, the hot British guy that is a GREAT FRIEND and then some, realizing past mistakes and moving on, accepting your friends for who they are, and punching that girl in the face who TOTALLY DESERVED IT ALL THIS TIME.

You will find someone or something to relate to in Anna and the French Kiss. You’ll also totally highlight the hell out of this book because Stephanie Perkins has some incredible dialogue and one-liners.

Yeah, Anna and the French Kiss lives up to the hype.

Fave quote: "I wish the thing that is best for me." (87)

Fix er up: Some things were painfully obvious to me, but that did not hurt on the enjoyment AT ALL. I kind of liked knowing what was coming so I could be fully in the moment with Anna and St. Clair and all the rest!

Author: Stephanie Perkins
Genre: Contemporary
Publishing Info: Penguin 2010

[FTC Notice: I won a SIGNED copy of this lovely book from Heid at YA Bibliophile. HOLLA.]

I read this book as part of the Rewind and Review challenge. I am SO GLAD that I did! I'll be rereading it again in no time, fo sho.

In My Mailbox [43]

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It's a chance to share bookish goodies from the week and check out some other peeps blogs while we're at it.

2007 by Audio Renassaince Audiobook with Tor Books
Originally published 1965
Audio CDs from the library. YAY LIBRARIES!
This is like THE quintessential epic sci fi book. 
I'm ready to take my nerding to a whole new level.

2012 Dial Publishing
I loved Graceling and Fire so naturally I am STOKED for this one. 
The always fabulous April sent this one my way.
She also sent a little note that made me smile like an idiot. 

Have you read either of these? If so, what did you think?

Happy reading, y'all!

Review: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

In a sentence or so: Bria travels to Central America to prove to everyone she’s a Global Vagabond. Many new experiences, new friends, hilarity and self-discovery ensue.

Bria signed up for what she thought was going to be an exotic adventure with beautiful teenagers like her. She was stoked to prove to her two besties and her ex-boyfriend Toby that she was up for anything, even if they all chickened out. When she arrives in Guatemala City, however, she is greeted by a middle age troupe of incredibly cliché travelers. Not exactly what Bria had in mind. Luckily for her, in no time she is swept up into an unlikely backpacking trio with Starling and her brother Rowan. They assure Bria they will show her Guatemala City and the surrounding areas as it was meant to be seen, which is pretty rad.

While the core of the plot is about traveling around Central America and discovering new things, we keep coming back to Bria and why she’s there in the first place. Bria’s background with Toby, her parents, her best friends and herself slowly come into focus throughout the read. I loved learning more about where she came from to learn more about where she was going.

It’s no joke that I LOVE YA because of the self-discovery and coming of age themes that are so often present in the books. Wanderlove is a stellar example of why YA is incredible to read about and experience.

Because the thing is, I was Bria. Bria was me. I didn’t travel to Central America, but her struggles of feeling good enough without constant validation, her giving up parts of herself for a boy who is NOT WORTH IT, getting in her own way so much of the time, and finally – FINALLY – the realization that she is a good person who deserves to be happy – all resonated so deeply with me.

Yes, Wanderlove is a travel adventure book. Yes, Wanderlove is an adorable romance. Yes, Bria is hilarious and awesome and you love her from the beginning. But what I loved most about Wanderlove was Bria’s journey of self-acceptance and admitting her own mistakes and forgiving herself. It cut my heart so deeply to hear an experience so like my own through her voice. And ultimately, it made my heart swell to see her happy and awesome and brilliant by the end.

Fave Quote: "I'll have won. This time, for always. But it's never going to happen unless I close my eyes and jump." (151)

Fix er up: I would have liked to see more of Starling. I was quickly attached to her, even as a secondary character. Her complete acceptance of Bria – no questions asked – was inspiring. LOVE.

Title: Wanderlove 
Author: Kirsten Hubbard
Genre: Contemporary
Publishing Info: 2012, Delacorte Press

[FTC Notice: I own a copy of this book, thanks to the raddest chick I know, Tara at Hobbitsies. WHAT UP, TARA. Thanks again, dude.] 

I read this book as part of the YA Highway Bookmobile. I am SO glad I did. 

Legend of Korra Recap: The Revelation

Chapter 3: The Revelation

In a sentence or so: Bolin is kidnapped by The Equalists who, it turns out, can seriously mess with bender's abilities.
This is how Bolin plans to make cash money.
What went down: So the Fire Ferrets, Korra, Bolin, and Mako, have qualified for the tournament (YAY) but they need serious cash money to get there (BOO). Bolin's all "I've got this bro" and Mako's all "I got this bro" and they set out on separate ways to make the money. Bolin has a heart that's significantly larger than his common sense and gets roped in to providing security for thugs. Only he doesn't provide security, but rather ends up being the main attraction at an Equalist rally. Not the place a bender wants to be. Particularly a famous one.

Korra and Mako work together to find Bolin which results in several AMAZINGLY HARDCORE fights and eventually lands them at the revelations rally hearing the leader Amon himself share the revelation. Basically, his face was firebended off and he claims bending is the cause of all of the wars ever. Since the Avatar obviously failed to bring balance back into the world, the only way to end all of the strife is to get rid of all of the bending. PERMANENTLY. What the what?! Last we knew, only the Avatar had that power, so how the hell is maskface pulling that off? He said it's a gift from the spirits, but why would the spirits want to take away bending? I have many questions.

Why it matters: As rad as bending is, the truth is that it is powerful. Often, unfairly so. With power comes abuse of power. With abuse of power comes pissed off people being abused. We see this with the Triple Threats (the three big gangs in Republic City) who are all up in the store owners faces all the time.

This episode is some serious business, y'all. There aren't as many hilarious lines to quote, because mostly not so hilarious things happen. The ability Amon has to take away bending (if it is legit) is THE most powerful thing in their world. I mean, that power was reserved solely for the Avatar...so we know this is serious business. All this power struggle raises some moral questions already that we, as the devoted fans, have to struggle with. 

Quote of the episode: "Why do we have to train so early? The morning is evil"

Closing thoughts: I love that there is an old-timey feel to the narrative from time to time. The recap was a 1920s-style film reel that quickly recapped the last episode. I loved it lots.

Mako's parents were mugged in front of his very eyes when he was a boy. HE HAS BRUCE WAYNE SYNDROME YOU GUYS. As if I needed another reason to creep stalk all up on Mako! (I did not. I have plenty of reasons.)

Review: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

Previously: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

In a sentence or so: Percy tries to save Camp Half-Blood from being poisoned into oblivion and saving his best friend Grover from marrying a Cyclops. He is a total badass while doing so.

Percy is at YET ANOTHER new school after all the drama that went down last summer. He's not the best at making friends, but he's totally honey badger about it because he has other things going on. Like being a son of Poseidon and such. He does manage to make a surprising connection with a charity case named Tyson that all the other kids pick on. Percy is more than a little surprised when Tyson defends him like a champ when monsters get all up in the school trying to take him out. Clearly, there's more to this kid than meets the eye.

Percy is soon reunited with Annabeth, daughter of Athena, and discovers that things at Camp Half-Blood are seriously amiss. Luke is still trying to destroy the camp because he's all bitter his dad Hermes ditched him. He's even going so far as to try to bring Kronus back together. Listen, if the olympians destroyed this titan because they were scared of what he would do - it is NOT a good idea to put humpty dumpty back together again. I wish Luke were reading this.

Percy has more amazing Greek mythology adventures in The Sea of Monsters. We get many nods to the Greek myths we know and love while seeing Percy grow and develop as a character. He is strong, smart, sensitive, caring, all wrapped up in a surprisingly snarky and badass package. I kind of love Percy Jackson a whole helluva lot. Annabeth, Tyson, Grover, and the rest are certainly fun to read about too and add depth and drama to the story.

Here's the deal. I am firmly Team Percy. I love middle grade books and I love Greek mythology and The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan marries them perfectly. He gives me a hero I can root for and a story I don't want to put down. I loved that this went a bit darker with the whole Doom Of The Whole World thing lurking on the horizon. I place my trust for survival into Percy's capable 13 year old hands.

Fave Quotes: "But you, Percy - you are part god, part human. You live in both worlds. You can be harmed by both, and you can affect both. That's what makes heroes so special." (252) - TEAM PERCY, YO.

"His sandy hair, which used to be so unruly, was now clipped short. He looked like an evil male model, showing off what the fasionalbe college-age villain was wearing to Harvard this year." (125) - YEAH SNARK.

"I could smell the thing - a sickening combination of wet sheep wool and rotten meat and that weird sour body odor that only monsters have, like a skunk that's been living off Mexican food." (3) - MIDDLE GRADE FOREVER.

Fix er up: There were quite a few deus ex machina moments in this, but really, I am so enamored I was willing to let just about anything slide.

Title: The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and The Olympians #2)
Author: Rick Riordan
Pub Info: Disney Hyperion, 2006
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy

[FTC Notice: I borrowed this book from my library. I was not compensated in any way for this review. THANKS LIBRARY!]

I read this as part of the Support Your Local Library Challenge, the 2012 YA Mythology Challenge, and Rewind and Review.

Review: The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

This is the third book in the Iron Fey series. You can read my review for them here and here. Spoilers for the first two books will abound. You've been warned.

In a sentence or so: Meghan must prove she is the ultimate bridge between faery and mortal, Summer and Iron, the old and the new. She's up for the task...but at what cost?

Meghan Chase is all stoked to go back home with her sexy faery prince boyfriend and live a normal life again. And then she remembers that SHE CAN'T BE NORMAL ANYMORE. Well, she doesn't remember so much as it is thrown all up in her pretty little face. As soon as she heads home she's ambushed by the Iron King. She knows she'll never be free of them unless she ends it once and for all.

Obviously, ending this war between the Fae is not going to be easy. In fact, it may even be lethal. Meghan would rather risk her life than to risk the lives of those she loves. She'll have the help of Puck and Ash (obvs!) but really this is about her. This is about Meghan owning who she is and what her role in all of this is supposed to be. When it comes down to it, will she have the strength to fight for what she believes in? And more importantly, will she have the strength to let go?

You guys, I just love Meghan Chase. She is smart, courageous, caring, thoughtful, badass and empowering. Yeah, she gets scared - but she deals with it. She reminds those around her of how important they are, how important the world is, and that everyone has a responsibility to save humanity.

By this point, the love triangle is dead (PHEW) and we focus mostly on Meghan and her badassery and the war between the Iron and the Summer/Winter courts. I love me some battle scenes, and this did not disappoint. We continue to learn more about the faery lore - which is fantastic - while spending time with some truly loved characters. It just doesn't get much better than that.

I read this book in a day. Yes. One day. Two sittings...but one day. The story is compelling and you know the characters so you are thrilled to be spending time with them. I felt totally absorbed in the story and didn't want to leave it when it was done. Is there higher praise then wanting to stay within the pages of the book forever? Methinks not.

Fave Quote: "She nodded slowly. 'Like it or not, dove, you've become a major player in this war. You're balanced on the edge of everything - faery and mortal, Summer and Iron, the old ways and the march of progress. Which way will you fall? Which side will you choose?" (62)

Fix er up: Bahahahahahahaha! NOPE.

Title: The Iron Queen (Iron Fey, #3)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Genre: Fantasy
Pub Info: Janury 2011, Harlequin Teen

[FTC Notice: I borrowed this book from Yani at The Secret Life of an Avid Reader. I was not compensated in any way for this review. LOVE YOU FOREVER, YANI!]

Legend of Korra Recap: Welcome to Republic City/A Leaf in the Wind

Welcome to Republic City!

In a sentence or so: We meet the next Avatar and discover she's a badass chick from the southern water tribe who sucks at air bending. She follows the child of the previous Avatar to teach her how to master air bending and discovers that Republic City isn't the dream of peace and balance Avatar Aang had in mind.

She sucks at air bending. This makes her mad.
What went down: Korra is pretty kickass at bending water, earth, and fire already. She's stubborn, plucky, sarcastic and smart. I love her a whole helluva lot. She's not all "listen bitches, I'm the Avatar so BOW DOWN", but she certainly knows she is the most powerful bender in the whole dang world. She is confident, not cocky. I repeat, I love her. She also has a rad polar-bear dog that she rides around all HBIC style.

We start to hear the murmurings that things aren't all rainbows and sunshine in Republic City, the capitol of the nations. There is a growing division between benders (those who can manipulate the natural elements of air, earth, wind and fire) and those who can't bend. There are some who say that the benders are oppressing the non-benders. I have to agree when Korra stops a bending mafia from roughing up a storefront.

Why it matters: Korra is on a journey to find her own damn way, damn it. This is SO YA Literatureiffic. She is flawed, yet we root for her.

Class conflict, y'all! Benders are basically supreme because they can, you know, BEND THE ELEMENTS. This causes strife. Strife causes conflict. Conflict resolution requires heroes. You see where I'm going with this.
Mysterious resistance man is mysterious.

Quote of the episode: "So, do you live in that bush?"

Closing thoughts: This is an amazing premiere episode. We learn so much about what's going on in the world we've left behind from Avatar Aang and gang. But if you're just tuning in for the first time, you're totally caught up and aware of what's going down. Nicely done, writers.

A Leaf in the Wind

In a sentence or so: Korra continues to suck at air bending, mostly because she's stubborn. After sneaking out to a pro-bending match, she meets some unlikely new teachers - happy-go-lucky Bolin and his brooding brother Mako. 

What went down: Tenzin, Korra's air bending teacher, tries to teach her. It fails. She gets all frustrated because she can't meditate and she can't calm her mind and she can't let the wind guide her through this super easy puzzle that the 4 year old air benders have already mastered. Feeling all sorts of angsty, she decides to sneak out and watch a professional bending match.
Professional bending is badass.

She is caught almost immediately upon sneaking in to the match, but her avatar ass is saved by a lighthearted boy who turns out to be one of the professional benders. She meets his teammates, who are anything BUT warm to her, but she stick around anyway because she does what she wants. Korra volunteers herself for the next match when one of their teammates bails on them, and ends up getting busted by Tenzin. Thankfully, she also makes a breakthrough with airbending so it's all cool in the end.

Why it matters: We meet the angsty and supremely AMAZING love interest Mako. Yeah, they are playing it pretty subtle for now but we ALL KNOW that this is going to happen. There is some PG bow chicka bow wow in their near future. I mean for realz, check this kid? I know it's weird to say he's sexy because he is animated AND a teenager...but whatever. It's still true.

It's okay. You can admit Mako is hot.
Korra is making it known that she's in Republic City, so the non-bender division is starting to get riled up. My life will be easier once I know what this resistance calls themselves. No doubt it is something awesome. I mean seriously, the leader wears this V mask. So you know they have their shit together.

Quote of the episode: "You're the avatar. And I'm an idiot."

Closing thoughts: Something I ADORE about this show is the balance of Serious Problems and Self Discovery with slapstick and silly humor. In one frame we see a snot bubble blowing out of a toddler's nose and in the very next scene we have a "I HATE YOU" match between Korra and Tenzin. The episode wraps up nicely with Korra admitting her flaws and making everyone love her more. The roller coaster of emotions is just so dang real and authentic and fantastic to be a part of. 

What were you most excited about from the premiere? 
Any predictions for the show?
Let me know! 

Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

In a sentence or so: A boy's parents are killed when he is just a tot. He grows up in a graveyard with a fantastical destiny he could never have imagined.

After the boy's parents are killed by a man named Jack, he toddles over to the graveyard. The ghosts agree to take him in (though some quite reluctantly) and raise him as best they can. The caregiver agrees to help with the food and the clothes and the ghosts agree to help with the education and safety of the young boy. They think the best way to truly keep him safe is to keep him as low key as possible. And just like that, Nobody Owens has found a home.

Bod grows up in the graveyard, but he always yearns for something more. He wants a normal life and he can't figure out why Silas, his protector, and the ghosts are worried about people finding out about him. Bod learns some sweet ghost moves like fading and haunting dreams, but he continues to long for a traditional human experience.

We slowly discover who the man named Jack is, what he was doing in Bod's house that night, and how Bod fits into the grand scheme of things. Bod's life in the graveyard is bizarre and somewhat spooky, but he is also taught things and nurtured in a way that will prove incredibly useful in his not too distant and very important future.

I loved the dark fantasy elements of The Graveyard Book. Bod fell a little flat for me sometimes, but the subtle incorporation of magical/fantastical plot points firmly held my interest. This is one of those books that has layer upon layer of meaning, so you can take it where you're at. I like that a lot.

The Graveyard Book takes on some Big Life Questions. Who is our family? What does it mean to be alive? What is my purpose? Who am I meant to be? We see the answers for Bod and we are left pondering what it means for ourselves as the reader.

While this didn't live up to the crazy amount of hype for me, The Graveyard Book is still a solid read with a unique story and some dark twists that will keep you interested. It is worth the read if just for the hours/days/weeks of self-reflection that come as a result.

Fave quote: "You're alive, Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you change the world, the world will change." (179)

Fix er up: A more compelling main character would have helped me connect with this book on a deeper level.

Title: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: Death, Fantasy, Paranormal, Coming-of-Age
Publishing Info: 2008, HarperCollins

[FTC Notice: I borrowed a copy of this book from my library. I was not compensated in any way for this review. YAY FOR LIBRARIES!]

I read this book as part of the Science Fiction Reader Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge, and the Rewind and Review feature. Three birds, one stone. WHAT WHAT.

Caution: Extreme Fangirling Ahead

It's no secret that I am head over heels for Avatar: The Last Airbender. I even wrote a whole damn blog post encouraging EVERYONE to watch it.

Imagine my endless fangirling when a new cartoon from the same universe dropped this month. You can't imagine my excitement for Legend of Korra, because there are no words. NONE! The hubs and I talked about it for weeks. We wondered who we might see from the old crew. We discussed our excitement on the daily.

Obviously this is kind of a big deal for us. And this big deal also presents a big opportunity that I am NOT going to pass up.

Every Wednesday from for the rest of the series, I am going to recap the previous Saturday episode of The Legend of Korra.

Stay tuned for the first two episodes (which were aired back to back) this Wednesday. If you haven't had a chance to watch it yet, check out the website.

Just a reminder...

I'm posting my YA: 101 column today over at Bookalicious.

In My Mailbox [42]

Yeah, I finally caved and decided to call it what it is. In My Mailbox (which I also called Add it to the List) is a meme hosted by the darling Kristi at The Story Siren. We share books and bookish things we received in the past week. Let us continue.

Received from the publisher, HMH. Thanks, Meredith!
A giveaway will accompany this review, so stay tuned. 
It appears to be a quick, quirky, and fun read. I could go for one of those.

From my library. WHAT UP.
I'm reading this as part of the Sci-Fi Reader Challenge. 
I know, I'm like the only Sci-Fi/YA lover that hasn't read this. And how rad is it that my library had a brand new paperback copy? Very rad, I say.

Also, a special thanks to my girl Ginger for the heads up on PicMonkey. Much obliged.

Have you read either of these?
What did you think?

Happy reading!


Someday, when I learn to cross stitch, I will make this first.


If there is anything more badass than Tanooki suit Mario,
 I certainly haven't heard of it.

Review: The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

In a sentence or so: Meghan Chase isn't done kicking ass and taking names when it comes to the Iron Fey, the Unseelie Court, and life in general. The world needs her help and she is ready and willing to do what it takes to protect all of the Fey and the mortals she loves.

When we left off in The Iron King, Meghan was en route to the Winter court with Prince Ash. To no one's surprise, she was greeted with a chilly reception. Until Queen Mab can decide what to do with her, Meghan remains a 'guest' of the winter court. Which wouldn't be so bad really if Prince Ash would so much as look at her. I mean really - she SAVED his ass, at least give her the time of day. No? Okay then.

Of course, shit hits the fan and only a select few know the truth about what's going down. Queen Mab thinks that the Summer Court is behind the latest drama and decides to start a war. She won't hear anything from Meghan or Prince Ash to convince her otherwise. After a few more twists and turns and shocking revelations, Meghan is on the run to save the Fey from destroying themselves and protect the Nevernever from the Iron Fey - AGAIN. Seriously, what is with those clowns trying to take over all of the things?!

It is no secret that I adored The Iron King. I was pleasantly surprised, despite the cliches of a love triangle and a girl who is powerful and hot and doesn't know it. I owe that love to Julie Kagawa's writing and fantastic character development and dedication to Fey lore. She did not disappoint in this installment either!

In The Iron Daughter, we continue to see Meghan grow and recognize her power. We see hints and whispers of what she is to become, and I cannot WAIT to see her fully develop into the badass she is meant to be. We meet new characters that are full of awesome and get to hang out with some of our old faves (LOVE YOU GRIM).

Ultimately, The Iron Daughter balanced character development and plot advancement perfectly. The read was absolutely addicting and fulfilling. I get why people are head over heels for this series! I count myself among them.

The action, the swoon, the surprising plot twists, the goodness and badassery of Meghan Chase, and the unique voices of the secondary characters kept me hooked. I've already started reading The Iron Queen. Yeah, for serious.

Fave quote: "You called Them, caith sith?"
"They owed me a favor," Grimalkin purred, as Puck glanced nervously at the sky. "We do not have the time to locate a trod, and this is the fastest way to travel from here. Deal with it." (311)

Fix er up: Did you read this fangirlishness? Do you think I have anything I'd like to fix up? NOPE. Unless you count more Grimalkin as a fix er up. But really, I could read volumes about that cat and love every second of it.

Title: The Iron Daughter (Iron Fey #2)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Genre: Fantasy
Publishing Info: Harelquin Teen 2010

[FTC Notice: I borrowed a copy of this book from the fantastic Yani at The Secret Life of an Avid Reader. I was not compensated in any way for this review. THANKS AGAIN YANI! You are my hero.]

I read this book as part of the Rewind and Review meme hosted by Ginger at GReads! and myself! If you'd like to get in on the sweet Rewind and Review action, check out this post explaining all of the deets. Take that, Mount TBR!

Ask and you shall receive

Remember when I said I wish there were more YA books that were western themed or at least had some cowboy action?

Apparently The Hub heard my bookish demands. I just love The Hub, y'all.

Also, they have a list of the best paperback westerns for teens (from 2001...but still.)

Click through to either of those links for YA Western goodness. Thanks, The Hub!

So I searched Cowboy on Google and found this.

Review: A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin

So for those of you who don't know, this is the 3rd book in a series. But I'm going to do something extra special for you this time. There will be no spoilers - NONE - for the whole series up to this point. I'm for serious. I mean, this review is going to be challenging as hell already, so why not? You're welcome.

On to the review!

In a sentence or so: Turmoil, uprisings, grasping for power and finding home define this third book in the epic series. Also, A TON of people meet unexpected ends.

If you've read this series, you know how difficult it is to write a review about them. I mean, so much happens in every single chapter. AND the books are so well written that the books blend together into one seamless narrative. Which is AWESOME for reading, and sucktastic for reviewing. So let me try and hit the different areas of the map...we'll see how that works for me.

The North: So there's this king on Dragonstone who claims he is the true heir to Westeros. The problem is, there are like 15 people saying they are king, so its kind of hard getting anyone to believe you. This king happens to have a red lady named Melissandre on his side who is kind of a sorceress, kind of scary, but also kind of legit (at least, think so). He names this self-made knight named Davos Seaworth as his hand. I love him to pieces because he tells the truth no matter what. Turns out that's pretty rare in Westeros these days.

Also in the north, the Stark family is still going strong and trying to show the rest of Westeros that honor is the way to go. They are truly unique in their belief in honor reigning supreme. You root for them and you love them, and you HATE that the trust they put in others isn't enough.

The Wall: So while all of Westeros is up in arms about what to do with the king of the seven kingdoms situation, shit is getting REAL up in the real north. The Wall protects the seven kingdoms. From what, you ask? SCARY BUSINESS YOU GUYS. Most people don't believe it, which is a huge problem. The only thing scarier than monsters are monsters you don't believe in coming to get you.

Kings Landing: The Lannister family continues to be all crazybeans up in the castle and defending the throne as their own. Despite crazy ass rumors (which are true, by the way) getting out, it is too little and too late. No one plays the game better than the Lannisters.

Across the Narrow Sea: The last royal family to sit on the throne has one final descendant. Trouble is, she doesn't really have the resources she needs to take the throne back. One day at a time, she is slowly gaining the strength and the knowledge and the resources she needs to take what is hers. You know, if she can get through the other 15 dudes who are trying to take the throne for themselves as well.

All of the characters and all of the motivations and all of the plot development are spectacular. You may have watched Game of Thrones on HBO and thought to yourself how awesome it all is. Well guess what peeps - IT IS AWESOME. And of course the books add depth and spawn crazy conspiracy theories within your brain that will keep you awake at night and talking to other readers for hours (thanks again to my husband, Amy, and Bethany for listening to my ranting). Seriously, this series is the business.

If you haven't started this series, I highly recommend it. Sure, it's a daunting task to pick up 1000+ page books. I get that. But it is worth it. IT IS WORTH IT. If there were a font bigger than caps, I would use it.

Fave Quote: "And now my oaf son is dong the same, only he's riding a lion instead of a palfrey. It is easy to mount a lion and not so easy to get off, I warned him, but he only chuckles. Should you ever have a son, Sansa, beat him frequently so he learns to mind you. I only had the one boy and I hardly beat him at all, so now he pays more heed to Butterbumps than he does to me. A lion is not a lap cat, I told him, and he gives me a 'tut-tut-Mother.' There is entirely too much tut-tutting in this realm, if you ask me. All these kings would do a deal better if they would put down their swords and listen to their mothers." (The Queen of Thorns, Location 1804 of 23460 on Kindle)

Fix er up: There are none! FOR SERIOUS this is the best.

Title: A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice & Fire #3)
Author: George R. R. Martin
Genre: Fantasy
Pub Info: 2000, Spectra

[FTC Notice: I own a copy of this book. I was not compensated in any way for this review. HOLLA]

For those of you who have decided you'd like to read my thoughts on the other two books (which will contain spoilers for those books), you can check them out below.
A Game of Thrones Part One
A Game of Thrones Part Two
A Game of Thrones Part Three
A Clash of Kings

In which I throw humility to the wind.

How can I turn down a chance to win a trip to BEA?

I can't.

And I won't.

Goodreads is offering four bloggers the chance to head to BEA if they win the Independent Book Blogger Award. I submitted under the Young Adult category.

The truth is, I'd love your vote. BUT I only want you to vote for me if you really dig this blog. No pressure or anything.

You can vote right here:

Independent Book Blogger Awards
Vote for this blog for the Independent Book Blogger Awards!

I also appreciate anything you can do to help spread the buzz. Thanks, friends!

Glimmer Character Interview: Marshall

It's no secret that I read AND LOVED Glimmer by Phoebe Kitanidis.

And now I get to interview the main squeeze of the novel, Marshall. Let's roll.

Some might label you as a bit of a social outcast. How does that affect your relationship with Elyse?

I’d like to say it doesn’t matter, but when people ignore you and you don’t belong anywhere, it sucks. I know it’s not her fault, but sometimes I’m angry at Elyse for belonging.

Having been home-schooled your whole life, the closest friends you have are your parents. How are you most like your dad, and how are you most like your mom?

I wish I’d inherited my dad’s loyalty. But I hate to say it—I’m way more like my mom, in almost every way. Including some pretty bad ways. She was always a risk-taker, especially when it came to dark magic. I’m terrified that’ll get me into serious trouble, like it did her.

Admittedly, it is one spooky little town - but what do you like most about Summer Falls?

Hey, I’m glad you asked, because Summer Falls is an amazing place, despite its creepiness. Those clear fresh mountain pools and the rugged, steep trails leading up to the waterfall are second to none. Plus, I swear the sunshine in Summer Falls is brighter than anywhere else I’ve been to.

Without giving anything away, how did you find the courage to do the crazy and life-threatening tasks that cropped up along the way?

I wish I knew. Thanks for calling it courage—not sure if that’s the right word, though. Most of what I did was instinctive, to try to keep Elyse safe… even though she gave me all kinds of cr** about playing the white knight, and how she doesn’t need some DUDE to rescue her, etc. Have I mentioned that Elyse is a pain in the butt? :-P It’s one of her finest qualities.

For those wishing to come and visit Summer Falls, what advice do you have for them?

Tell the people you love where you are… set up a safe call… and never stay more than one weekend.
Oh—and if you’ve had a lot of really hard stuff happen to you in life, consider going to Hawaii instead. Trust me.

Thanks for stopping by, Marshall!

To read my thoughts on Glimmer, click here.
To check the future stops on the Glimmer tour, click here.

Thanks to Phoebe for arranging this chatty chat with Marshall and thanks to The Teen Book Scene for including me on the tour!

Review: Between Two Ends by David Ward

In a sentence or so: Yeats must save a childhood friend of his father who is trapped inside of a classic story before she gets stuck there forever.

Things haven't been great between Yeats's parents. His mother tries to be patient with his father's moods and the family frequently moves to try and help the situation. Nothing is working. Yeats knows, even as a pre-teen, that his parents are headed for a split. He just wishes there was something, ANYTHING, he could do to break his father's gloom once and for all.

Yeats and fam arrive at his Gran's house as a last ditch effort to save their family. The house seems an odd choice, however, given that the whole place has a creepy vibe and is home to an ageless cat named Odysseus. Upon investigating his surroundings, Yeats discovers the core of his father's sadness is within the pages of a book and finds there just might be a way he can set things right for everyone. He will have to be brave, he will have to be clever, and he will have to survive by entering a The Arabian Nights and saving a girl all by himself.

Between Two Ends by David Ward is one of those reads that gives many nods to other classic works of literature. I loved that! Grandma makes reference to The Hobbit, Yeats is named after a poet so of course we get all sorts of poetry dropped on us, and the brave adventure Yeats must undertake is to save a girl from within the pages of The Arabian Nights. All of the literature shout-outs definitely made my bookish heart go pitter-pat!

I will always and forever have a soft spot for middle grade books. There is something that is unabashedly hopeful and whimsical and fun about them that I can't resist. Between Two Ends is no different! Sure, we all know how it ends. But it is the journey that we want anyway! We want to see how it is Yeats saves the girl, how he remains brave in a foreign land all by himself, and we want to see the love and commitment for his family in his heart.

For a light middle grade fantasy with literary shout outs and a shot of silly characters to keep you entertained, read Between Two Ends by David Ward.

Fave quote: "A plan?" Mr. Sutcliff raised an eyebrow. "Well, we are in a story. Something will present itself. Have you forgotten? We will have action. There is no story unless things happen." (217-218)

Fix er up: I worry about the message that Yeats is able to cure his father's depression and that it minimizes the disease. I don't think that's what the author is trying to do, but I could definitely see that message being portrayed anyway.

Title: Between Two Ends 
Author: David Ward
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Pub Info: May 2011, Abrams

[FTC Notice: I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher. I was not compensated in any way for this review. Thanks again, Laura!]

YA Highway Bookmobile!

For a long time, I've wanted to be a part of a YA book club. Finally - FINALLY - my dreams are coming true, thanks to the awesome author-bloggers at YA Highway!

In a nutshell, they announce the book on the first Monday of the month. You can head back to the announcement post for discussion with other readers. Meaning - you don't have to read the book by a certain date - you read it anytime during that month and share your thoughts when you get the chance! How perfect is that?!

The book for this month is Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard.  I've already requested it from my local library. HOLLA!

If you're looking for a place to discuss the latest and greatest  YA reads, join me with the YA Highway Bookmobile!

Tune in Tuesday [2]: An Unlikely Pairing

Hey there Tune in Tuesday (hosted by the lovely GReads!)! It has been awhile. My absence isn't due to disinterest - oh no - but rather to a lack of creativity and inspiration. It's not you, Tune in Tuesday, it's me.

It really is rare that the inspiration of a specific song to a specific book strikes me...but the stars aligned for me this week and it just happened. It wasn't forced. I didn't have to sit and wonder and think. It just popped into my noggin.

And you guys - it felt pretty amazing.

As I was pounding through The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa, I was also downloading the Mumford & Sons album. Magic ensued. --DISCLAIMER-- I have only read the first two books so DON'T SPOIL THE THINGS. If you haven't read the first two books, slight spoilers ensue. --END DISCLAIMER--

Can you lie next to her
And give her your heart, your heart
As well as your body

And can you lie next to her
And confess your love, your love
As well as your folly

And can you kneel before the King
And say I'm clean, I'm clean

But tell me now, where was my fault
In loving you with my whole heart
Oh tell me now, where was my fault
In loving you with my whole heart

A white blank page and a swelling rage, rage
You did not think when you sent me to the brink, to the brink
You desired my attention but denied my affections, my affections

So tell me now, where was my fault
In loving you with my whole heart
Oh tell me now, where was my fault
In loving you with my whole heart

(Hheeaarrtt…Hheeaarrtt…Hheeaarrtt…Hheeaarrtt [Repeat])

Lead me to the truth and I will follow you with my whole life
O lead me to the truth and I will follow you with my whole life

GUYS. I know.

I am firmly Team Ash, and this song reminded me of him. Of course, we know that Meghan doesn't deny his affections, but he does catch her and Puck kissing which is AWKWARD AS HELL. 

The closing sentiment of the song is gorgeous and heart-wrenching and incredibly vulnerable. Which is EXACTLY where the book ends off. SERIOUSLY. This song was made for The Iron Daughter. 

Agree? Disagree? Thoughts? Holla at me. 

Rewind and Review: April

Well friends, it is that time again! We share how we did for March and look forward into April! The months are really flying by...or is that just me?

Anyway - on to the check in!

Have you seen any of those reviews on my blog in March? No?! That's because I haven't posted them! I am fail. HOWEVER - I totally did finish The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey in March and the review went up yesterday (albeit on April 1st). I totally have The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman at home right now from the library (yay libraries!). Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins is still hanging out on my shelf. Waiting. Longing. Urging. 

SO - for April, I will carry over The Graveyard Book and Anna and the French Kiss, and tack on The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa. Ever since I read The Iron King, that series has been lurking around in the back of my brain. I need to keep reading with the series! 

What did you end up reading for Rewind and Review? PLEASE tell me you did better than this kid!

What are you planning on reading for Rewind and Review in April? Do share! 


For a refresher on what exactly Rewind and Review is, click here. 

Review: The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

In a sentence or so: Will Henry and the Monstrumologist he apprentices under have to save their small 1800s town from a pack of monsters with a serious desire for human flesh.

Will Henry is an orphan. His parents died in a fire and the doctor who employed his father takes him under his wing. The thing is, the doctor isn't an ordinary doctor. OH NO. He studies monsters for a living. Which means Will Henry sees and hears and learns many absurd and surreal and downright frightening things from time to time. His greatest horror unfolds when a grave robber brings the body of a girl who is wrapped up with a monster. Now Will Henry and the doctor must identify the monster, figure out how it came to live here, how many more there are and how to kill them. And, you know, make sure no more innocent people die in the process.

This Monstrumologist is dark. Like, crazy dark...and I loved it. I was hoping it didn't take the subject matter to a slapstick absurdity, and it did not disappoint. The monsters are described in vivid detail, the circumstances of Will Henry's life are completely and utterly depressing, and even the doctor is a character riddled with flaws and a damaged past.

The complexities of characters and the mysterious and supernatural plot made for an excellent read. Slowly we find out more about what the monsters are, how they got there, and continue to worry about how in the world Will Henry and the doctor are going to take care of the problem!

I was scared, excited, hopeful, anxious, and enthralled from cover to cover. The characters pulled at my heartstrings while the mystery kept me biting my nails. I can't wait to see where the rest of The Monstrumologist series takes me!

Fave quotes:
"These are the secrets I have kept. This is the trust I never betrayed." (pg 1. Opening like, y'all!)
"There are indeed more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy, but those things were, like the Anthropophagi, quite physical, entirely natural, capable of fulfilling our curious and baffling need for a marauding horror of malicious intent, thank you very much." (pg 121)

Fix er up: This isn't a turn off for me, but it may be for some. The book is pretty lengthy. Like, 450 pages in a paperback form lengthy. You've been warned. But also, it's totally worth it.

Title: The Monstrumologist (Monstrumologist #1) 
Author: Rick Yancey
Genre: Horror, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Publishing Info: Simon and Schuster, 2010

[FTC Notice: I received a finish copy of this book from a fellow blogger. I was not compensated in any way for this review. Thanks again, Red House Books!]

I reviewed this book as part of the Rewind and Review challenge hosted by GReads! and yours truly. I'm so glad I finally gave this book the time it deserved!