Booked til Tuesday

Life, Law & Libros

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner (3 stars)

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I had semi-high hopes for These Broken Stars. It was getting 5-star ratings from everyone, and I really wanted to love it. A couple of different factors combined to prevent that, but it's still a well written story and I can see why so many readers were gushing over it. Were I a bigger fan of romance, I would probably be right there with them. As it was, the little snippets between chapters from Tarver's interrogation were my favorite part.

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
Series: Starbound #1
Genres: YA, Sci-fi
Published on December 10, 2013
Published by Disney Hyperion
Final Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis:
It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.


Review:
What I liked:
  • The world. Although I wish we'd seen more of the technology, I liked the bits I saw, though I hope to see more in the next installment. This story spent a lot of time in the woods.
  • Tarver. He's skilled, calm, reasonable, honorable, has a sense of humor and is far more patient than I would be in his shoes.

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Updates: March (Reading) Madness

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According to my calendar, today is March 26, 2014. ... And the full import of that statement only just now sunk in. Seriously? Where did March go! The answer is a variety of activities combined with work and sleep; but that isn't much comfort when I realize how much crud I meant to get done and didn't.

Prime example: I have officially only read three books this month (not counting the two Ever After High 10-page shorts). Three? Tres? δΈ‰? I can't remember the German. Regardless, this has not been a good month for getting things done. But I think I can knock a few things off my to-do list and add a few more books to the count before the 31st. Yay for last minute rushes!

And to help me in my quest to read instead of sleep, here are this week's purchases and review copies.

From NetGalley:

Neither of these books is new, and I've technically had Daughter of Smoke and Bone for a while, but they looked semi-interesting and like a good way to boost my NetGalley stats.

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Top Five Things on My Bookish Bucket List

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A weekly meme by The Broke and the Bookish

This week's topic made me realize...I don't really have much of a "bookish bucket list." There are a ton of books I want to read, and a ton of bookish things I'd like to do, but none of those books or things are "bucket list" items for me. Go figure.

But, to keep this from being a really really short post, I came up with a few ideas. ;)

Top Five Things on My Bookish Bucket List:
  1. Read War and Peace. I have no idea why. Or when. But it sounds like a good bookish goal.

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Discussion: Quickly Out of Print

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I got a chance to chat with Victoria Schwab and a couple of local authors at a recent book signing event. The topic of how much work YA authors are expected to put into promoting their books, apart from the publisher's efforts, came up. In the current YA climate, publishers seem to go on social media blasts for the first few months of a title, and then they're on to the next set of new releases. YA paperbacks are out the year following their original releases. And booksellers feel compelled to keep the most recent new hardcovers stocked for various reasons. The result is that titles move from frontlist to backlist in a very short time period.
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It's kind of genius, in an evil sort of way. (I suspect Disney had a hand in creating the strategy.)

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Updates: Author Event with Schwab, Schmidt & Gaughen

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If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen the photos I posted from this Tuesday's author event at Children's Book World. Put concisely, it was awesome! Victoria Schwab, Tiffany Schmidt and A.C. Gaughen were thoughtful, entertaining and just a little bit silly. I had tons of fun!


I laughed as A.C. Gaughen described Scarlet's role in the writing, dragging her along and forcing her to write the hard stuff. I was amazed by Tiffany's ability to write scenes from all different points in the story, non-linearly, while drafting. And I was intrigued by Victoria's explanation of why she used her initials on her new adult book, Vicious.

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Cress by Marissa Meyer (3 stars)

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I'm sorry I've been on radio silence these past few days. The internet at the house where I was dogsitting kind of...died. Yeah, so I'm behind on a lot of stuff, but enjoy the review of Cress below and stop by tomorrow for a recap of the awesome author event I attended Tuesday featuring Victoria Schwab, A.C. Gaughen and Tiffany Schmidt!

Marissa Meyer continues to weave fairy tales afresh in her futuristic fantasy world. This time, Rapunzel is the re-imagined character and story. It's probably for the best that Cress' story comes in the third book. It gives readers time to relax and take a breath after all the action at the end of Scarlet, and having other story elements already established worked well. I'm not sure Cress' plot line would have worked as well for me on its own.

Cress by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Sci-fi, Fairy tale retelling
Published on February 4, 2014
Published by Feiwel & Friends
Final Rating: 3 stars


Synopsis:
Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard.

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.


Review:
What I liked:
  • The plotting/pacing. The pace never really drags, the transitions are smooth and, though the action slows considerably at times, the plotting works well for the characters and story.
  • Jacin. He may officially be my new favorite character. He's deceptive, manipulative, sarcastic, loyal, a pilot. And that line! "Don't try to push your swoony psychodrama on me" (p321). Jacin, we salute you. :)

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Discussion: Social Media for Readers

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I've decided that this will be the year I retire my trusty prepaid Tracfone and upgrade to a smart phone. (Yes, I've had a phone for 10 years that neither connects to the Internet nor takes pictures.) I've narrowed down my choices and am pretty sure of which I'll buy, but it has me thinking...
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There are TONS of social media platforms out there, and readers communicate on so many of them. I have a feeling a smart phone will make it easier to, say, interact on Twitter throughout the day, but I'm not sure how involved I want to be. Not that I don't love the online book blogging/reading community. I absolutely love talking books with you guys! But I stare at screens all day at work and I want to consider how much more screen time I want now, rather than getting swept up in the rush of a new shiny toy.

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The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (3 stars)

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The Naturals has been touted as teenage Criminal Minds. That's somewhat accurate, although in this first installment it was more classroom than crime scene. It also looks like the team may get assignments more along the lines of Cold Case, not active files, but overall, not bad.

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series: The Naturals #1
Genres: YA, Mystery, Thriller, Crime
Published on November 5, 2013
Published by Disney-Hyperion
Final Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis:
Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they've begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

What Cassie doesn't realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides— especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own.

Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.


Review:
What I liked:
  • The profiling. Not all of it, but there's a reason while millions have flocked to TV crime dramas like NCIS, CSI and Criminal Minds, to name a few. The criminal mind is fascinating, as are the means by which law enforcement endeavors to catch criminals. The profiling is especially interesting to me. Every day we look at the people around us, sometimes friends and family, sometimes strangers, and we make judgments, we make assumptions, we draw conclusions based on the evidence presented and our own suppositions. I liked seeing which elements the characters focused on and the conclusions they drew.

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Updates: Operation Sleep

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Normally, I would use this post to talk about the week's book buys, reading progress, etc. However, I am coming off a weekend of dogsitting that resulted in three semi-sleepless nights. I failed miserably at making progress on The Archived and didn't get far in Cruel Beauty either.

I have another round of dogsitting coming up this weekend and into next week. It will very likely result in similarly short nights. >.> I am now considering raising my rates.

With that in mind, I will conclude this short update with the following:

Operation Sleep (while I still can)

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Discussion: Where Did the Paperbacks Go?

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Apologies for the lateness on this weekend post. I've been dogsitting and am seriously running on fumes right now. Need sleep. Anyway, I wanted to take a brief moment to chat, once again, about one of my favorite hobbies: book buying! Yes, I believe it does count as a hobby all its own, like collecting stamps or antiques, only more fun. ;)

I was browsing through my local mall-size Books-A-Million earlier this week to get a gift card for my friend's birthday, and I noticed their YA section had a distinct lack of paperbacks. The majority of titles appeared to be hardcovers. I've already said that I buy almost all my books used, and more and more I'm buying used hardcovers, but I still remember the days when I got all my books from Barnes & Noble and Borders. I skipped right past the hardcovers and straight to the paperbacks because I knew I could take home more books for my money.

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Antigoddess by Kendare Blake (3 stars)

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In Kendare Blake's Antigoddess, the Greek gods of myth are alive and, well, dying. While some scamper to survive and turn cannibal, Athena and her brother Hermes seek out answers and a means of protecting themselves from the war soon in coming. This was my first Blake read and, while there were elements I disliked, I enjoyed the overall story and its one MC, Athena. She was my favorite Greek character during my Greek myth phase in middle school, and I liked seeing this older, modern-world version of her.

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake
Series: Goddess War #1
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Mythology
Published on September 10, 2013
Published by Tor Teen
Final Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis:
The Goddess War begins in Antigoddess, the first installment of the new series by acclaimed author of Anna Dressed in Blood, Kendare Blake.

Old Gods never die…

Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.

Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.

These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.

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Updates: March-ness

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Am I the only one who can't believe it's March already? I feel like I'll be saying this all year, but where is the time going? Oh well, no worries as long as it takes the snow with it. I am definitely ready for warmer temperatures and clearer roads.

Updates-wise, I did a bit of book buying this week. Picked up one at the mall's BAM! and the other at my local used book store.

 

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Top 10 Popular Authors I've Never Read

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A weekly meme by The Broke and the Bookish

Wow. I didn't check ahead of time, but this feels like a nice continuation from last week's "Top 10 Books I Can't Believe I've Never Read." Granted, I'm not in a hurry to read the books by all these authors, but it's a good reminder of titles to squeeze in this year.

Top 10 Popular Authors I've Never Read
  1. Ursula K. Le Guin - The creator of Earthsea, and I haven't come any closer to her work than the ill-fated Syfy television adaptation. I think that may have scared me off them for a while. I do hope to finally read at least one of her books this year.
  2. Anthony Horowitz - A huge, GIANT name. The author, TV writer and who-knows-what else. I was lucky enough to hear him speak at a library event a few years back, and he was really entertaining. I just picked up House of Silk at the library, so here's hoping I will not bear the shame of his name on this list much longer.
  3. Victoria Schwab - Everyone has been talking about how awesome her books are. I'll probably like them, but I haven't felt any burning need to read them NOW. That has since changed. Schwab will be at a local author event mid-March, and I am determined to read at least one of her books before then.

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Discussion: Reevaluating Book Ratings

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Normally, I know where a book falls on my 1-5 star scale as soon as I finish. But lately I've run across a couple of books that I couldn't automatically place, which had me comparing them to other books I've rated in the past...which had me second-guessing all my past ratings. Did I really like those two 3-stars equally, or should one of them have been a 4-star, or a 2?

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Perhaps the problem is that I use such a subjective system (disliked, liked, really liked, etc.) that can be influenced by any number of outside factors, not the least of which is my mood at the time of reading. But on the other hand, I'm not Kirkus or the School Library Journal or anything. I don't feel obligated to rate books based on their "writing merits." (That was homework not too long ago.) I rate books so I can remember which ones I enjoyed.

Should I go back and try to re-rate everything according to one standardized, algorithm-based scale? I think, for me, no matter how much I consider it, there's no way I'm going through my whole reading list and re-rating everything. One, I'm way too lazy. And two, no matter how well I remember past reads, I really can't give them a fair eval without rereading the whole book. (Also not happening.)

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