Booked til Tuesday

Life, Law & Libros

Emilie and the Sky World by Martha Wells eARC (2.5 stars)

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When I requested this title on NetGalley, I somehow completely overlooked that it was the second in a series. As the first book was not readily available and the publication date was fast approaching, I decided to read the book as was and review it based on its own merits. (Theoretically, books in a series, while enriched by their predecessors, should mostly stand well enough alone.) So, big disclaimer moment: I have NOT read the first book. This review is based on the second only.

This copy was provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.
Emilie and the Sky World by Martha Wells
Series: Emilie #2
Genres: YA, MG, Steampunk, Fantasy
Published on March 4, 2014
Published by Strange Chemistry
Final Rating: 2.5 stars

Synopsis:
A Girl’s Own Adventure in the spirit of Jules Verne

When Emilie and Daniel arrive in Silk Harbor, Professor Abindon, an old colleague of the Marlendes, warns them that she’s observed something strange and potentially deadly in the sky, a disruption in an upper air aether current. But as the Marlendes investigate further, they realize it’s a ship from another aetheric plane. It may be just a friendly explorer, or something far more sinister, but they will have to take an airship into the dangerous air currents to find out.

Emilie joins the expedition and finds herself deep in personal entanglements, with an angry uncle, an interfering brother, and an estranged mother to worry about as well as a lost family of explorers, the strange landscapes of the upper air, and the deadly menace that inhabits the sky world.


Review:
What I liked:
  • The "other life forms" are not at all humanoid or humans with pointy ears, and there are translation difficulties. You hear that Star Trek?

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Updates: DIY Bookshelf

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I can't believe February is almost over. This month flew by and I have no idea where the time went. The snow probably ate it up.

Anyway, a couple of cool things to report this week. I finally used the Amazon gift card I won ages back; one book for me and one for my wonderful sister down in Florida who braved a two-hour line to get me a signed copy of Cress. She definitely deserved a thank-you gift for that.

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Top 10 Books I Can't Believe I've Never Read

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A weekly meme by The Broke and the Bookish

This week is actually a Top 10 Tuesday REWIND, or pick a previous topic you missed or want to do again. I'm always lamenting the ridiculous amount of classics I've never read and keep finding more and more great books I've never heard of. So, without further ado:

Top 10 Books I Can't Believe I've Never Read

  1. The Bible - I've read a ton of it, and it's a defining book in my life, but I have never read every last book and chapter. Shame, failure, etc. I do plan to remedy this soon, but the Pentateuch! Genesis, Exodus...oh. You've tried to get through the law books? You know what I mean.
  2. Sense & Sensibility - A ton of Jane Austen books belong on this list. In fact, let's just say they get slots #2-5. I've watched everything on film and can quote massive amounts of at least one, but yeah. Dishonor on me and my cow.
  3. Common Sense - I know, this makes me a bad American.

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Shop Talk: How Often Should You Change a Blog's Design?

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Shop Talk: a reader's ramblings/discussion on the publishing industry, bookstores and/or writing/blogging.

This week's Shop Talk is about blogs--more specifically, blog design. I'm still a new blogger. I've looked at other blogs, read the tutorials, checked out forums (which have awesome, helpful people); but I'm still unsure of what direction to take here on this blog.

I recently changed the blog name to a more bookish title, and since then, I've been wondering whether the blog design (theme, color scheme, layout, fonts, etc.) should have changed with it. The polls I've looked at show most bloggers try not to change the whole look of the blog more than once a year, at most. And I don't want to get a theme-bug the way I (still kind of) have the moving-bug. I don't want to be switching out theme templates every couple of months because, not only would that be a ton of work, but I can easily see it being confusing as all get out to anyone who checks in on a semi-regular basis.

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Vitro by Jessica Khoury (2 stars)

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In Vitro by Jessica Khoury, Sophie is out to find her mad-scientist mother, but both she and her childhood friend-turned-pilot Jim get more than they bargained for when Skin Island won't let them go. I was conflicted on rating this one. It was a little like whipped cream, I think- tasty, and you get it quickly, but not much substance and it doesn't stay with you.

Vitro by Jessica Khoury
Series: n/a
Genres: YA, Sci-fi
Published on January 14, 2014
Published by Razorbill
Final Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis:
On Skin Island, even the laws of creation can be broken.

On a remote island in the Pacific, Corpus scientists have taken test tube embryos and given them life. These beings—the Vitros—have knowledge and abilities most humans can only dream of. But they also have one enormous flaw.

Sophie Crue is determined to get to Skin Island and find her mother, a scientist who left Sophie behind years ago. With the help of Jim Julien, a young charter pilot, she arrives--and discovers a terrifying secret she never imagined: she has a Vitro twin, Lux, who is the culmination of Corpus's dangerous research.

Now Sophie is torn between reuniting with the mother who betrayed her and protecting the genetically enhanced twin she never knew existed. But untangling the twisted strands of these relationships will have to wait, for Sophie and Jim are about to find out what happens when science stretches too far beyond its reach.


Review:
What I liked:
  • It was a quick read. Despite some slow moments, the plot keep a fairly quick pace.
  • Although I had several hunches that turned out to be right, I was curious to see which plot paths the author would take. It kept me reading on.

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Updates: Confession of a BBA

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I'm kicking off the first official Booked Update with a confession: a confession of a book buying addict.

But before we start calling therapists and cutting up credit cards, I have very strict rules for my book buying that I (usually) obey. Namely, because I'm a cheapskate, I almost always buy used, wait for the best sales and keep the majority of my purchases below $2.50. Thus, I am not yet drowning in books. However, I am running out of shelf space.

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Top 10 Reasons I Love Being a Reader

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A weekly meme by The Broke and the Bookish

I'm always a little amazed and appalled when someone says he/she doesn't read much. Intellectually, I understand all the reasons why many people don't enjoy reading. Emotionally, I'm thinking, really? Why not?! Reading is kind of a lifelong obsession of mine, so I'm pretty attached to it. This week's challenge is to explain why or die trying. So, in no particular order:

Top 10 Reasons I Love Being a Reader
  1. I love stories. Being a reader means hearing story after story after story after- you get the idea.
  2. I never have to worry about running out of reading material. There are far more books in the world than I will ever be able to read.
  3. Reading is the ultimate escape. Nothing is quite like curling up with an awesome book and blocking out everything else.
  4. It's like being an art collector, but it's art that takes a long time to look at and has tons of pictures in one small box. (And books make wonderful decor items, too.)

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Shop Talk: "Local" Book Events

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Shop Talk: a reader's ramblings/discussion on the publishing industry, bookstores and/or writing.


I mentioned in a previous Shop Talk post how I'll pay full price for a new hardcover (only) at an author signing event. This got me thinking...big name author events tend to take place in the same big cities every year. If you live in NYC, San Diego, Orlando, DC, etc., no problem. You're a short ride away from all the best book signings. If you live too far from any of the major hubs, you either drive several hours each way or wallow in misery.

I live kind of in the middle of nowhere. The good news is I'm about an hour away from a big city and the shore. The bad news is, the only bookstore close to me, as much as I love it, is a small independent that only ever hosts local, usually self-published authors. So, how far am I willing to go for a book event?

Back in 2011, I caught a train to NYC for a multi-author event at Books of Wonder. The panel talk with the authors was awesome, and Scott Westerfeld was very nice and signed the whole stack of books I plopped down on the table. However, for as much as train tickets cost, it had to be a day trip, which meant I had to visit The Strand and blow even more money on books. ;)

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The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell (3 stars)

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I've been searching for a good 12 Dancing Princesses retelling. I loved Wildwood Dancing and it's a fairy tale you can take in so many directions. The Princess Curse is an interesting blend of the 12 Princesses, Beauty and the Beast and the story of Persephone. It isn't the totally amazing retelling I was hoping for, but, despite its flaws, I liked it. (The nice cover art doesn't hurt either.)


The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell
Series: n/a
Genres: MG, Fantasy, Fairy Tale Retelling
Published on September 1, 2011
Published by HarperCollins
Final Rating: 3 stars


Synopsis:
In the fifteenth-century kingdom of Sylvania, the prince offers a fabulous reward to anyone who cures the curse that forces the princesses to spend each night dancing to the point of exhaustion. Everyone who tries disappears or falls into an enchanted sleep.

Thirteen-year-old Reveka, a smart, courageous herbalist’s apprentice, decides to attempt to break the curse despite the danger. Unravelling the mystery behind the curse leads Reveka to the Underworld, and to save the princesses, Reveka will have to risk her soul.

Princess Curse combines magic, suspense, humor, and adventure into a story perfect for fans of Gail Carson Levine.


Review:
What I liked:
  • I like that the author draws out the dark, Persephone undertones in this twist on the 12 Dancing Princesses. The Greek elements work pretty well.
  • The protagonist, Reveka, has future aspirations beyond what is usual for her station, but she is also practical and aware of her likely future. Overall, she is believable for the era/world created.

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Name Change: Booked til Tuesday

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As you may have noticed (or read in this post title), I changed the blog's name from "No Cucumber Sandwiches" to "Booked til Tuesday."

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I still love the first name and the fun scene it brings to mind in The Importance of Being Earnest (which brings to mind another fun scene), but I realized it wasn't doing a good job of telling people what this blog is about--books. So, I hope the new name will do a better job of that.

On a side note, I'm definitely not impulsively changing blog names again. I didn't realize all the different sites and links and log-ins, etc., that would need updating. And now I'm off to finish those updates. :)

Happy reading and I hope you like the new name!

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Top 10 Books that Will Make You Swoon

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A weekly meme by The Broke and the Bookish

This week's topic is a little bit of a tough one for me. (That is, assuming we're talking romance swoons, not fainting from fright.) You see, I'm not a big romance reader. I don't mind romance in books, but I generally like it to stay in the background; and it needs to be a slowly built relationship. NO insta-love.

But yeah, I don't really "swoon," unless severe dehydration is at work. So, for the third(?) week in a row, I will mess with the meme. Thus, I present:

Top 10 BooksRomances that Will Make You SwoonSmile
  1. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. The vain, cowardly wizard Howl and the stubborn, magically made old Sophie. Comedic and sweet. :D
  2. Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Prince Kai and cyborg mechanic Cinder. It's not a full blown romance (which is awesome, because it would be too fast and wouldn't make sense), and they have some great little awkward moments.
  3. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. Prince Char and cursed-to-obey Ella. Remember those days when people kept touch through long, thoughtful letters?

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The Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson eARC (2 stars)

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The Tyrant's Daughter follows Laila as she adjusts to life in the United States, following her father's assassination, and sees her home and family from a new perspective. Having studied abroad, I probably should have been better prepared for the lengthy periods of confusion and culture clash. Unfortunately, the whole book was filled with this confusion, and Laila's constant lack of direction didn't work for me.

This copy was provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.
The Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson
Series: n/a
Genres: YA, Contemporary
Published on February 11, 2014
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Final Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis:
When her father is killed in a coup, 15-year-old Laila flees from the war-torn middle east to a life of exile and anonymity in the U.S. Gradually she adjusts to a new school, new friends, and a new culture, but while Laila sees opportunity in her new life, her mother is focused on the past. She’s conspiring with CIA operatives and rebel factions to regain the throne their family lost. Laila can’t bear to stand still as an international crisis takes shape around her, but how can one girl stop a conflict that spans generations?

J.C. Carleson delivers a fascinating account of a girl—and a country—on the brink, and a rare glimpse at the personal side of international politics.


Review:
What I liked:
  • There are some authentic, typical teenager moments that made me smile. Silly little things, like high school gossip. 

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Written in Red by Anne Bishop (3 stars)

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I've been working on hunting down some "adult" series and authors to read (to give me more options when YA becomes too saturated with love triangles and such). I'm glad to say that this was a promising first kill. Which sounds really horrible, now that I've written that. Anyway, Written in Red is a story of an alternate world in which humans aren't at the top of the food chain and all natural resources are controlled by the Others. A little Planet of the Apes meets The Jungle Book, but more paranormal and with human technology similar to modern day stuff.

Written in Red by Anne Bishop
Series: The Others #1
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Published on March 5, 2013
Published by NAL Hardcover
Final Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis:
As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.

Review:
What I liked:
  • No romance. It had me scared for a chapter or so, but nope. None. :D

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Top Ten Books That Will Make You Cry

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Many thanks to The Broke and the Bookish for being the creative force
behind this meme every week!

This week's list topic is "Top 10 Books That Will Make You Cry," and I'm blanking out. Partly because I don't pick up many tearjerkers, partly because I had a ton of Mountain Dew today and am now suffering the sugar/caffeine crash. So, instead of books that will make you cry, I present, in no particular order...

Top 10 Books Movies That Will Make You Cry:
  1. We Are Marshall - Based on true events. Marshall University's football team dies in a plane crash. The university and town struggle to rebuild the team and their lives. You will cry at about 10 minutes in...and every five minutes after.
  2. Hachi: A Dog's Tale - Based on a true story. Watch it without crying. I dare you.
  3. Life is Beautiful - An Italian Jew and his son taken to a labor camp during World War II. It makes you smile. Until it doesn't.
  4. Remember the Titans - Based on true events. A football team, school and town struggle to overcome years of segregation. The car crash...and the funeral...

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Updates 2/1

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It's been a hectic week and I haven't done much reading, but I did get a nice surprise in the mail. In my last Update, I shared the news about winning Alyssa's amazing Blogoversary Giveaway over at The Eater of Books. A rather large package showed up on my porch this week...

A GIANT box of ARC's!!!

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