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Life, Law & Libros

Girl on a Wire by Gwenda Bond eARC (2 stars)

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I read Gwenda Bond's Blackwood, a Roanoke mystery, earlier this year and loved it. I was impressed by her writing and excited to read more. And Girl on a Wire takes place in a circus! When I saw it on NetGalley, I clicked "Download" immediately. In tone, atmosphere, treatment of magic and ending, it reminded me a lot of Sarah Beth Durst's Chasing Power. Unfortunately, that's not a good thing.


This eARC was provided through NetGalley for review. Some things may have changed in the final version.
Girl on a Wire by Gwenda Bond
Series: N/A
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Fantasy
Published on October 1, 2014
Published by Skyscape
Final Rating: 2 stars
Synopsis:
A ballerina, twirling on a wire high above the crowd. Horses, prancing like salsa dancers. Trapeze artists, flying like somersaulting falcons. And magic crackling through the air. Welcome to the Cirque American!

Sixteen-year-old Jules Maroni’s dream is to follow in her father’s footsteps as a high-wire walker. When her family is offered a prestigious role in the new Cirque American, it seems that Jules and the Amazing Maronis will finally get the spotlight they deserve. But the presence of the Flying Garcias may derail her plans. For decades, the two rival families have avoided each other as sworn enemies.

Jules ignores the drama and focuses on the wire, skyrocketing to fame as the girl in a red tutu who dances across the wire at death-defying heights. But when she discovers a peacock feather—an infamous object of bad luck—planted on her costume, Jules nearly loses her footing. She has no choice but to seek help from the unlikeliest of people: Remy Garcia, son of the Garcia clan matriarch and the best trapeze artist in the Cirque.

As more mysterious talismans believed to possess unlucky magic appear, Jules and Remy unite to find the culprit. And if they don’t figure out what’s going on soon, Jules may be the first Maroni to do the unthinkable: fall.

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Updates: Books, Yarn and Doofenshmirtz

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So, the LSAT studying continues (rather more sporadically than it should), my little brother turned 20 (which makes me feel old) and I attempted to learn to crochet. A friend is making 150 bracelets to send with a mission trip to a leper colony in India, so I volunteered to help- if she could manage to teach me how. The results are....


It mildly resembles a bracelet! Yay! And in book news:

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Top 10: Halloween Edition

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A weekly meme by The Broke and the Bookish

This week is supposed to be "Top 10 Characters I'd Want to Dress Up As" or "Top 10 Books/Movies to Read/Watch to Get in the Halloween Spirit." And I thought about it really hard, but...I'm not really a big Halloween person. I don't dress up, and I have to be in a special mood to eat lots of candy. I generally spend the holiday hiding inside with a book.

However, there is one little Halloween tradition I'm happy to indulge every year:

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Discussion: YA Fairy Tale Retellings

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YA readers are gobbling up fairy tale retellings. The Lunar Chronicles, Cruel Beauty, Entwined and there's a whole host of new retellings releasing next year. Why do we love them so much? I think it's a combination of nostalgia for childhood stories (and Disney movies) and a love of magic and happy endings.

For me, it's amazing to read each author's twist on familiar tales, taking the old and reworking it in a new way. According to my old writing profs, that's all any fiction is- taking an existing idea and reworking it in a new or interesting way- because nothing is original. But fairy tales are special. And can be profitable: see Disney Princess movies. ;)

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Fan Art Up! - Remy

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Fan Art Up! is a weekly feature hosted by Tabitha @ Not Yet Read.

This week is #20 in the Disney Series. (Pretend you haven't read the post title for a second.)

Here are your hints:
His dad wants him to follow in the family business.
He starts out as a thief.
He really likes food.

That's right! From Disney's 2007 culinary treat, "Ratatouille," he's....

Remy

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Ironskin by Tina Connolly (3 stars)

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I read Ironskin, a magical Jane Eyre retelling, as part of a reading trade with Anya at On Starships and Dragonwings. Visit her blog and you'll see her gushing over this entire series. ;) Anyway, Anya recommended Ironskin for me, and I recommended All Our Yesterdays, which I LOVE, for her. I'm pleased to say the trade was a success! I enjoyed Ironskin's magical semi-steampunkish world, and Anya loved All Our Yesterdays's time traveling craziness. :)


Ironskin by Tina Connolly
Series: Ironskin #1
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Steampunk
Published on October 2, 2012
Published by Tor Books
Final Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis:
Jane Eliot wears an iron mask.

It’s the only way to contain the fey curse that scars her cheek. The Great War is five years gone, but its scattered victims remain—the ironskin.

When a carefully worded listing appears for a governess to assist with a "delicate situation"—a child born during the Great War—Jane is certain the child is fey-cursed, and that she can help.

Teaching the unruly Dorie to suppress her curse is hard enough; she certainly didn’t expect to fall for the girl’s father, the enigmatic artist Edward Rochart. But her blossoming crush is stifled by her own scars, and by his parade of women. Ugly women, who enter his closed studio...and come out as beautiful as the fey.

Jane knows Rochart cannot love her, just as she knows that she must wear iron for the rest of her life. But what if neither of these things is true? Step by step Jane unlocks the secrets of her new life—and discovers just how far she will go to become whole again.

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Updates: Falling Through October

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I hope you're all enjoying October and this fall (occasionally winter) weather! It's going by fast, right? Or maybe that's just the Netflix binges talking. ;)

This week was fairly quiet. I got a last minute dogsitting call. They woke me up at 3am, 4am and 7am. Fun stuff. :P And then we got to visit with some out-of-town family the following day. And I stayed awake!

Currently Reading:

I finished The Grimm Legacy, which wasn't bad, but not amazing. I think maybe I was hoping for a little more of a fairy tale twist? And the MC, Elizabeth, often seemed younger than I think she was supposed to be. I'm working on Girl on a Wire now, and it's interesting. I'm not sure how I feel about the MC, but I just entered the meat of the story.

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Top 10 New Series I Want To Start

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A weekly meme by The Broke and the Bookish

Haha! For once, my procrastination habits work in my favor. All those books I've been meaning to get around to reading and haven't yet? This Top 10 list uses them! Success at last! ;)

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Discussion: YA Imprints

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YA books are a booming business. Each of the Big Five seems to have at least one imprint with a large list of YA titles, and it looks like everyone wants in on the action. I stumbled across a Publishers Weekly article, "Smells Like Teen Imprint," which lists 15 new YA imprints launched within the last five years. Sadly, Strange Chemistry isn't among them. The good news is, more imprints should mean more choices for YA readers, right?

Granted, YA-specific imprints aren't the only ones publishing good YA. The first example to come to mind is Mary Weber's Storm Siren from Thomas Nelson (which I heard entered its second printing!). Still, the majority of YA books come from imprints that focus on YA, so I'm focusing on those for now.

I couldn't find any complete lists of all the YA imprints out there, but there's a 2012 post on The YA Curator that lists imprints for the Big Six (now Five), mid-sized and small presses (which may be a little out of date).

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Fan Art Up! - Lewis

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Fan Art Up! is a weekly feature hosted by Tabitha @ Not Yet Read.

This week is #19 in the Disney Series. (Pretend you haven't read the post title for a second.)

Here are your hints:
He's an orphan.
He has gravity-defying hair.
He's an inventor.

That's right! From Disney's 2007 call to follow your dreams, "Meet the Robinsons," he's....

Lewis

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What is Hidden by Lauren Skidmore (2 stars)

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Earlier this year, I came across a review of What is Hidden- a Cinderella retelling where everyone wears a mask. I'm a sucker for fairy tale retellings, and the cover, while a little too pink, is so pretty, so I tracked down a copy. The atmosphere is rich, but the plot and characters failed to make a strong impression.


What is Hidden by Lauren Skidmore
Series: N/A
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Fairy Tale Retelling
Published on May 13, 2014
Published by Cedar Fort Publishing
Final Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis:
“The Chameleon is on the loose.” Despite the whispers that sprung up, the Speaker continued, “He’s stealing our masks and assuming the identities of the victims. It is our duty to warn you—do not trust the masks alone.”

In Venesia, your mask is your life. It is your face, your rank, and your identity. Without a mask, you are nothing.

Which makes the Chameleon the most dangerous criminal in the land.

When the Chameleon attacks the talented mask maker Evie, he not only strips away Evie’s mask, destroys her home, and kills her father, but he also brands her face with his own criminal mark that would incriminate her for his wrongdoings should it be discovered. Her only choice is to go into hiding—at the royal palace. But as she creates a new identity —and plans to exact revenge— Evie soon learns that masks hide more than just faces ...

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Updates: Productivity and Procrastination

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In school, I got a lot done while procrastinating and avoiding homework. When you really don't want to write that essay or finish that math homework, sitting down for hours with a book or movie or sketchpad becomes infinitely more appealing. Which might explain why I've been so productive this week: I've been avoiding studying for the LSAT. It's just so long and the study book is so thick and not fun. :(  No worries, I have a game plan that will kick off tonight. Wish me luck!

On the bright side, despite losing a bit of time risking my neck painting, I got some reading done after last month's slump! I also had a wonderful time at the Collingswood Book Festival on Saturday. (I can't believe it's been here over 10 years and I just found out about it.) It was held in the high school instead of downtown due to weather, but it was still fun.

Highlights included a Fantasy and Mythology in YA panel (featuring Ellen Jensen Abbott, Kit Grindstaff and Diane Salerni among others) and  a corridor of used books for sale. I may have bent my strict budget to allow for one or two. ;) And I got Diane Salerni to sign my copy of The Caged Graves!

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Top 10 Places Books Have Made Me Want To Visit

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A weekly meme by The Broke and the Bookish

In making this list, I realized, while a setting can really grab me, I don't always want to visit. Prime example: Middle Earth. I love The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy, but do I really want to visit Middle Earth...which is crawling with orcs and sharp objects? Probably not, unless my visit is confined to the Shire, Rivendell and/or Lothlorien. :) And without further ado:

Top 10 Places Books Have Made Me Want to Visit:

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Discussion: Series

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Book series are big. Well established series equal built in marketing and audience for the latest release. When you like book one, you're likely to look for and check out book two, and so on.

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And series are big across age groups. For kids, you pick up every Amelia Bedelia, Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew and Diary of a Wimpy Kid title. For MG, it's Harry Potter, Rick Riordan, some Jessica Day George and Margaret Peterson Haddix. YA has trilogies and duologies galore, and Adult genre fiction is brimming with series. Mystery, historical, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, a couple more whose names I'm spacing on. A lot. :)

Series can be great! When you find one you like, you don't have to ponder what to read next. You know, and because you know what kind of writing/characters you're getting, you get all excited! Of course, I also know readers who feel compelled to finish series, even when they don't enjoy the first or second book. They have to stick around until the very end.

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Fan Art Up! - Elastigirl

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Fan Art Up! is a weekly feature hosted by Tabitha @ Not Yet Read.

This week is #18 in the Disney Series, and it's showing up late in the day for a very good reason. My cousin, Shannon, got a house in need of lots of TLC and took me up on my offer to pitch in. Today involved leaning over a rickety banister to paint the ceiling. :)


In exchange for risking my life ;), Shannon was kind enough to do this week's fan art: from Disney/Pixar's 2004 homage to classic superheroes, "The Incredibles," she's....

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Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst eARC (2 stars)

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While I love the simplicity of the cover, it doesn't really match the story. Then again, a mash-up of X-Men powers, shoplifting, tomb raiding, garden witchcraft and California beaches doesn't really lend itself to one cohesive theme/cover. These elements combined could make a decent story, but the characters, pacing and plot "twists" prevented me from loving Chasing Power.


This eARC was provided through NetGalley for review. Some things may have changed in the final version.
Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst
Series: N/A
Genres: YA, Fantasy
Published on October 14, 2014
Published by Bloomsbury
Final Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis:
Lies, secrets, and magic — three things that define Kayla's life.

Sixteen-year-old Kayla plans to spend her summer hanging out on the beach in Santa Barbara and stealing whatever she wants, whenever she wants it. Born with the ability to move things with her mind — things like credit cards, diamond rings, and buttons on cash registers — she has become a master shoplifter. She steals to build up a safety net, enough money for her and her mom to be able to flee if her dad finds them again. Well, that, and the thrill of using her secret talents.

But her summer plans change when she's caught stealing by a boy named Daniel — a boy who needs her help and is willing to blackmail her to get it. Daniel has a talent of his own. He can teleport, appearing anywhere in the world in an instant, but he lies as easily as he travels. Together, they embark on a quest to find and steal an ancient incantation, written on three indestructible stones and hidden millennia ago, all to rescue Daniel's kidnapped mother. But Kayla has no idea that this rescue mission will lead back to her own family — and to betrayals that she may not be able to forgive... or survive.

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Updates: Always Take a Book to the Airport

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I have a smartphone. I shouldn't need a book, right? Wrong. (Unless you have the Kindle/iBooks/Nook app on your phone, I suppose.) Despite knowing better, I left Thursday evening for the airport without a book. I think I had some irrational fear it would put my "personal item" over the size limit and doom me to paying an exorbitant carry-on fee. Regardless, I regretted it the second I found the gate and realized I had nearly two hours before boarding. And then I regretted it again Monday morning while waiting for the flight back.

Book troubles aside, I had a great time in Florida, though I completely overate. I told myself stuffing oneself on vacation is expected and I should go all out since, assuming I pass the LSAT in December, this will be my last vacation for some years...but yeah, overate. See exhibits below from my visit to Epcot with my little sister, which was only Day 1.

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Top 10 Character Driven Novels

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A weekly meme by The Broke and the Bookish

I mildly agonized over this week's topic- "Top 10 Character Driven Novels." Looking through my list, I felt the majority were more plot driven than anything. However, I picked out a few that are more driven by characters' decisions. I hope you enjoy!

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Discussion: Book Scribblers

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My college professors encouraged taking notes while reading. But they didn't mean in a notebook or on Post-its; they wanted us to actually write IN the book. Underlining, highlighting, jotting down questions and thoughts in the margins...you know, general scribbling.

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With one exception (Don Quixote), I couldn't bring myself to do it. I used Post-its, I typed notes in emails, but I couldn't write in the books. It felt too much like defacing. And, when forced to analyze my reluctance, I also realized I didn't write in books because I might reread them, and I hate it when my books have handwriting. It's distracting and messy and...yeah.

But I know not everyone is as crazy about this stuff as I am. (But I know at least one other person has to be bothered by writing in books and reading books with scribbles.)

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Fan Art Up! - Dolores Umbridge

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Fan Art Up! is a weekly feature hosted by Tabitha @ Not Yet Read.

I'm taking a short break from the Disney series this week because...I got a new office space! Which is awesome! No longer will I bruise my elbows and knees, caught between two desks with milimeters to spare as I spin in my spinny chair. ;)

However, it would appear I have been promoted to the position of....Dolores Umbridge.

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Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George (2 stars)

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I love fairy tale retellings and, despite some difficulties tracking down a copy, I finally finished this trilogy. Jessica Day George follows Princess of the Midnight Ball and Princess of Glass with another round of light, fun, fairy tale-inspired fantasy. The third and final volume picks up the tale of Westfalin's 12 princesses with the youngest, Petunia, now grown and looking forward to a visit in the country...until she's attacked by greenwood bandits.


Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George
Series: Princess #3
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Fairy Tale Retelling
Published on December 11, 2012
Published by Bloomsbury USA Children's Book
Final Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis:
When Petunia, the youngest of King Gregor's twelve dancing daughters, is invited to visit an elderly friend in the neighboring country of Westfalin, she welcomes the change of scenery. But in order to reach Westfalin, Petunia must pass through a forest where strange two-legged wolves are rumored to exist. Wolves intent on redistributing the wealth of the noble citizens who have entered their territory. But the bandit-wolves prove more rakishly handsome than truly dangerous, and it's not until Petunia reaches her destination that she realizes the kindly grandmother she has been summoned to visit is really an enemy bent on restoring an age-old curse. The stories of Red Riding Hood and Robin Hood get a twist as Petunia and her many sisters take on bandits, grannies, and the new King Under Stone to end their family curse once and for all.

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Updates: Florida Awaits!

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I fly out to Florida tomorrow! I'm really excited and I know I'll have fun once I'm down there, but things are crazy at the office right now, so wish me luck getting everything in order before I leave. I will have limited internet access over the weekend, so, while the usual Fan Art Up and Discussion posts will be up, I may be a little slow in responding to comments and stopping by your blogs. Apologies in advance. :)

I picked up my most recent pottery pieces. The glaze was aptly named "Surprise." I expected some sort of bluish color, which is in there, but with a lot of this brown-green striped throughout. I also mowed the lawn this weekend, on the day summer decided to reappear. Yep.


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