Booked til Tuesday

Life, Law & Libros

Updates: How Not to Buy Books

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The short answer: go outside. Seriously. The weather was amazing over the weekend, so I went outside (without my computer) and did some yard work. The downside is this also kept me from reading much. Of course, now it's back to being cold and rainy, so it's a good thing I took advantage of the sun.

Oddly enough, even with limited reading and all that outside time, I still have Updates:
  1. I survived the Better World Books 40% off sale! Not a single purchase. I am very proud. (I also realized I REALLY need to reorganize my bookshelves and start wading through the pile of stuff I haven't read. It's getting to the point where I can't remember what I've already bought.) 
  2. I then killed my "no nonessential spending" rule for the month by ordering my first ever smartphone. I'm so excited! And yet, so nervous. I was going to wait a little longer to buy it, but I want plenty of practice before I take it to BookCon at the end of May. 
  3. The day before my planned trip to another book signing (for Jen Calonita and Elizabeth Eulberg), I sprained my ankle...by hopping up and down. Yes. It's not nearly as bad as past sprains, but it's not pleasant, and it's my driving foot. The event is about an hour and a half away, and my ankle got bigger instead of smaller throughout the day, so I didn't make the trip. :( 

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Top 10 Books if You Like X-Men

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A weekly meme by The Broke and the Bookish

I'm a '90's kid, which means I've seen two or three different cartoon adaptations of Marvel's X-Men. I can't tell you how many (badly written) stories those shows inspired. I mean, come on; who doesn't want to imagine a world full of superpowered teens? Actually, now that I'm older, I realize how horrifying that scenario is. But still, everyone likes a story with characters who have strange abilities, right? So, in honor of the new X-men movie coming out:

Top 10 Books if You Like X-Men
(And by "Top 10," I mean the first 10 I thought of. I know there are tons more out there.)
  1. White Cat by Holly Black - The Curse Workers series takes place in an alternate world where a limited set of magical abilities exist and are illegal to use. Which means they're mostly employed by the criminal underworld, so you get the same government oversight and public fear issues.
  2. Cinder by Marissa Meyer - So, technically there's only one "mutation" in the Lunar Chronicles, the bio-electricity mind control thing, but it's still a tale of the few good "mutants" versus the bad with the government after them and the world afraid.
  3. The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes - There are no actual superpowers, but it is about a teen of special teenagers operating in the shadows to protect a world that doesn't understand them. ;)

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Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor (2 stars)

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I've seen so many people gush about Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke & Bone series. I went in hoping to feel the same. It is different, it is strange, and, despite speeding through it, it did not work for me. It would have been a 1-star had I cared a little more about the characters and story. While I wished certain characters dead at times, I felt fairly apathetic at book's end, so 2 stars it is.

This copy was provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1
Genres: YA, Fantasy
Published on September 27, 2011
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Final Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis:
Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands", she speaks many languages - not all of them human - and her bright blue hairactually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?


Review:
What I liked:
  • Prague. I definitely want to visit there someday.
  • It was a little different from the usual "girl from another world." Still walking through a door to Narnia, but this time the wardrobe has a separate "world" of its own.

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Updates: Blog Design & Chick Lit

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First, I hope you all had a Happy Easter! It was a good weekend. I got some chores done, finished two books, ran the sound board at church and had a lovely Easter dinner with the family. The work week is back with a vengeance, but I have a fun little story and some news for the blog.

Any of you who read my reviews know I'm not the biggest romance fan. *cough-understatement-cough* However, I took much longer than expected to finish The Eye of Zoltar, Jasper Fforde's third Chronicles of Kazam book (which is out in the UK, but doesn't publish here until the fall, so no review until then?). I was behind on my Goodreads challenge and in a bit of a reading slump. So I skimmed through my Nook library and picked out a free ebook from a while back.

It is called Five Days in Skye, and it is undeniably, without question chick lit. (I'm still debating whether to post a review here or just on Goodreads.) It was predictable, sappy, somewhat overly dramatic, but you know what? I sped through, and despite the sometimes repetitive sentiments, I enjoyed it. I needed a palate cleanser to get me out of the reading rut, and sometimes sappy and predictable does the trick. Plus, it's set in Scotland, which I now really want to visit.

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Top 10 Characters Who Tick Me Off

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A weekly meme by The Broke and the Bookish

Stories/plot lines/twists, etc. can tick me off easily enough, but for a character to fully tick me off usually require effort on the character's part. It's easy to feel disconnected, apathetic, be stuck in the middle- but to feel something on the other end of the spectrum? That deserves special recognition. (Fair warning: my vocabulary will likely shrink and my sentences turn to incoherent grumbling in this section.)

Top 10 Characters (I can currently think of) Who Tick Me Off:
  1. Bella/Edward/Jacob (Twilight) - Stupid. stupid. unhealthy stalking, obsessive love triangle, boring, stupid.
  2. Harry Potter/Dobby (Harry Potter) - Harry was a cute kid. Then he became a whiny, annoying teenager. He ticked me off every time he opened his mouth in books 4-7. Dobby annoyed me from the get-go. I wish he had died sooner.
  3. Alexa/Damien/Rylan (Defy) - These people were almost stupid and cliched enough to be laughable. Almost. A little too much Twilight.

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Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton (3 stars)

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Some Quiet Place follows an emotionless girl in a bad home who is having strange, dark dreams and has no idea why she can see Elements and Emotions as they visit people around the world. Not that she's worried; she isn't capable of worry, or love or anger or fear or anything else. Odd though this premise sounds, I really liked Elizabeth's character, the supernatural elements of her world and the writing. Unfortunately, I wasn't a fan of the direction the story took following the main mystery reveals.

Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton
Series: Some Quiet Place #1
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Supernatural/Paranormal
Published on July 8, 2013
Published by Flux
Final Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis:
I can’t feel sadness, anger, or fear. I can’t feel anything. I’ve grown talented at pretending.

Elizabeth Caldwell doesn’t feel emotions . . . she sees them in human form. Longing hovers around the shy, adoring boy at school. Courage materializes beside her dying friend. Fury and Resentment visit her abusive home. They’ve all given up on Elizabeth because she doesn’t succumb to their touch. All, that is, except beautiful Fear, who sometimes torments her and other times plays her compassionate savior. He’s obsessed with finding the answer to one question: What happened to Elizabeth to make her this way?

They both sense that the key to Elizabeth’s condition is somehow connected to the paintings of her dreams, which show visions of death and grief that raise more questions than answers. But as a shadowy menace begins to stalk her, Elizabeth’s very survival depends on discovering the truth about herself. When it matters most, she may not be able to rely on Fear to save her.


Review:
What I liked:
  • Elizabeth. I really, really liked her. I love the way her lack of emotions is approached and the way her manipulation of the people around her is explained. It makes sense and it's relate-able. We all push people's buttons. We all act a certain way or say certain things to elicit certain reactions.
  • The story is strange, different. It felt like something I hadn't read before, and the (somewhat apathetically approached) mystery of why Elizabeth can see and hear these Elements and Emotions is interesting because she knows so little about it.

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Updates: Second Winter

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It's been an off week for reading. But it was beautiful and sunny and warm out this weekend, so I finally got to wear shorts and venture outside without four layers! Until today, when I woke up to find it cold again.

Not much in the way of reading updates this week, so I instead present an unfortunately accurate meme:

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Top 10 Bookish Things I'd Like to Own

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A weekly meme by The Broke and the Bookish

Free license to geek out over my wishlist of bookish stuff? YES!

Top 10 Bookish Things I'd Like to Own:


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1. Rolling Ladder

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2. Typewriter

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3. Library Card Catalog

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Discussion: Library Books Gather Dust

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I had an interesting conversation with my librarians this week. My library has a wall of shelves filled with new arrivals, cover out, displayed according to genre. I was just curious about whether the new books got checked out often, but it led to some talk.

I learned/confirmed three important facts about my library:
  1. Sci-fi and fantasy don't get checked out much. (They get one section on the new books wall compared to two to four for other adult genres.)
  2. The majority of patrons are there for the computers.
  3. No one goes into the shelves behind the computers to look for books.

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Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (2 stars)

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I really wanted to like this one. Even though it's semi-Stockholm syndrome, I've always loved the story of Beauty and the Beast- first the Disney movie, then Robin McKinley's Beauty and a few other retellings. When I read all the 5-star reviews for Cruel Beauty, I got super excited. Unfortunately, I realized a few chapters in my hopes would be dashed. The romance quickly overwhelmed the story, and it wasn't a romance that worked for me.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Series: n/a
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Romance, Fairy tale Retelling
Published on January 28, 2014
Published by Balzer + Bray
Final Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis:
Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

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Updates: Cooking, Cleaning & Books

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The truth: no cleaning, little cooking and not a ton of books.

My book purchases from the end of last month came in, all in pretty good shape. (I'll try to tweet a photo later.) I still need to buy/check quality on one of Book Outlet's "scratch and dent" copies, but I'm pleased with the two hardcovers I got.

As for cooking, my kitchen and my stomach have officially survived a frozen steam-bag of rice and veggies and a skinless tilapia filet. I know. That sounds pretty pathetic, but baby steps. :)

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Top 10 Most Unique Books I've Read

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A weekly meme by The Broke and the Bookish

"Unique." This is so hard! All the books I like have something about them that sets them apart, makes me enjoy them. But which books are "unique"? Well, here goes nothing...

Top 10 Most Unique Books I've Read
  1. Cinder by Marissa Meyer - A futuristic, sci-fi, cyber-punk, fairy tale mashup with a touch of "magic."
  2. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman - A kid grows up in a graveyard, raised by ghosts.
  3. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones - A girl turned into an old woman, the vainest wizard in the world, a fire demon, and a house that moves, but is in multiple places at once and...yeah.
  4. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld - Alternate history WWI with fantastical creatures and machines, a cross-dressing airman, a dethroned price, and talking ferrets.

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Discussion: Talking Books After the Fact

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How do you talk about books others already read online? Many well established book bloggers get lots of ARC's and post reviews for them before the books come out. This is awesome because it creates hype for the good books and warns us off the bad.

The confusing part: a month later, I read one of the books my online friends have reviewed. I REALLY want to talk about it. Do I go to their blogs and comment on the old posts? Do I leave a note on one or all of their Goodreads reviews? Do I find or form a forum?

Or do I just write a review for the book on my blog, get the talking out of my system, and hope the friends who read the book read my post and engage in conversation?

I assume everyone has his/her own method for this kind of situation. Call this an informal poll: how do you go about discussing books that online friends have already read/reviewed?

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All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill (4 stars)

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All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill is a kind of reverse Terminator sci-fi story and breath of fresh air in overly romance saturated YA. It features reasonable protagonists with big problems and no easy solutions. I liked the time travel and the characters, and, despite a few issues, I really really enjoyed this book.

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
Series: All Our Yesterdays #1
Genres: YA, Sci-fi
Published on September 3, 2013
Published by Disney Hyperion
Final Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis:
What would you change?

Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

Marina has loved her best friend, James, since they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it... at least, not as the girl she once was. Em and Marina are in a race against time that only one of them can win.


Review:
What I liked:
  • The first person, present tense point-of-view actually worked well for me. And, though I had a preference, I liked both perspectives well enough.
  • Em, Finn and the doctor from the future. I liked Em and Finn as characters from the start. I loved that Finn was always pulling a smile or smirk. I loved Em's determination and practicality and her sense of responsibility. I loved the contrast presented with the past, how you could see little elements that could turn them into who they are in the future. It made them feel less like terminators out of a far off future and more connected to the world at hand.

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Updates: New Month, New Goals, Less Book Buying

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I failed to make a four-book rush of this weekend and bump up my reading numbers for March, but that's okay. It's a new month, a fresh start! And a good time to increase reading and decrease spending.

Speaking of spending...I caved. But not too, too badly. Just a little end of month splurge at Better World Books, and I decided to try Book Outlet for the first time. And I am now banning myself from book buying this month...unless it's a really, really good deal. ;)

Better World Books Haul (photos to follow upon arrival):



I've read two of them, but I still can't wait for this shipment to arrive!

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Top 10 "Gateway" Books/Authors in My Reading Journey

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A weekly meme by The Broke and the Bookish

This week's topic is 10 "gateway" books/authors, those that were catalysts for new stages in your reading journey- like the book/author that got you into reading, made you love a particular genre, made you a reader again, etc.

I present, in roughly chronological order, my:

Top 10 8 "Gateway Books/Authors in My Reading Journey
(I blanked and only came up with eight)
  1. The American Girl series. This is one of the earliest series I remember getting into, and I think I read most, if not all, the historical girls series at the time. I loved their History Mysteries series (now replaced with brand character specific mysteries) and really got into historical fiction for a while, which led me to other series like the Magic Attic Club and Dear America. I also had a Josephina doll.
  2. Pony Pals! Hasn't every little girl gone through a horse phase? I know I sure did. I did lots of riding when I lived in Florida and dove into horse books. First Pony Pals, then I graduated to the Saddle Club series.
  3. Mysteries. I mentioned the American Girl History Mysteries before, but the books that really made me a mystery reader were the Boxcar Children and, of course, Nancy Drew. I devoured those books one after another.

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