Waiting On Wednesday (April 23)

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that are eagerly anticipated.

This week, I’m waiting on Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins, which has an expected publication date of August 14, 2014.

From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

I absolutely adored Anna and the French Kiss and thought Lola and the Boy Next Door was just as adorable, so I’ve been (im)patiently waiting for the release of Isla and the Happily Ever After for quite some time. After all, I need more Étienne St. Clair in my life.

What books are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a list in the comments below. 3

Top Ten Characters I Would Not Want To Fight

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, she posts an idea relating to books and encourages other book bloggers to respond with their own top ten lists.

This week’s topic is “Top Ten Characters Who X (you fill in the blank — examples: piss me off, are the popular kids, are bookish, would be my bff, that stole my heart, etc.)” I was really tempted to do a list of characters that I’d love to slap (looking at you, Joffrey Baratheon), but I wasn’t sure if I could come up with ten… so here’s my top ten characters I would not want to fight.

1. Arya Stark from Game of Thrones
For someone so young, Arya is easily one of the more badass characters in Game of Thrones. She has a list of people she wants dead that she repeats to herself before bed in lieu of praying, and she’d be happy to stick you with the point end of her sword, Needle. Add that to her work with the Faceless Men, and she’s truly a force to be reckoned with.

2. Katsa from Graceling
The King had been using her to kill since she was ten years old, and her grace is survival. There’s no way you could beat her in a fight.

3. Celaena Sardothien from Throne of Glass
She’s a trained assassin, and Crown of Midnight showed me exactly why I wouldn’t want to mess with her.

4. The Darkling from Shadow and Bone
He’s charming, manipulative, ruthless, and has power over darkness. And did I mention that he’s kinda evil?

5. Cato from The Hunger Games
Or any of the career tributes. They’ve been trained to kill since birth, practically, and are adept at using a wide variety of weapons.

6. June and Day from Legend
One’s the top soldier; the other’s the top criminal. Both are incredibly intelligent, great strategists, and are equally good at fighting.

7. Juliette from Shatter Me
While she would definitely be on my list of characters I’d love to slap, I’d be slightly afraid to – after all, her touch kills, and she can easily wreck the wall of a building. With her bare hands.

8. West from Dualed
West has been training forever to kill her Alt, so stealth, reconnaissance, weapons, and the occasional break-and-enter are just a few of the tools she has in her arsenal.

9. Eric from Divergent
Even though I’m much smaller than him and female, Eric would happily dangle me from the chasm or throw knives at me. He’d love it if I picked a fight, and that would be terrifying.

10. Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones
I really don’t like her character in the books, since she continuously mentions how she’s “just a young girl.” That doesn’t change the fact that she has an army willing to fight for her, and has dragons. You’d be finished before you could even say “Dracarys.”

Which characters would you be scared to face? Leave me a list or a link to your Top Ten Tuesday post in the comments below.

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Book Review: Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty

Rating: ★★★

Jessica Darling’s in college!

Things are looking up for Jessica Darling. She has finally left her New Jersey hometown/hellhole for Columbia University in New York City; she’s more into her boyfriend, Marcus Flutie, than ever (so what if he’s at a Buddhist college in California?); and she’s making new friends who just might qualify as stand-ins for her beloved best friend, Hope.

But Jessica soon realizes that her bliss might not last. She lands an internship at a snarky Brooklyn-based magazine, but will she fit in with the uberhip staff (and will she even want to)? As she and Marcus hit the rocks, will she end up falling for her GOPunk, neoconservative RA . . . or the hot (and married!) Spanish grad student she’s assisting on a summer project . . . or the oh-so-sensitive emo boy down the hall? Will she even make it through college now that her parents have cut her off financially? And what do the cryptic one-word postcards from Marcus really mean?

With hilarious insight, the hyperobservant Jessica Darling struggles through her college years–and the summers in between–while maintaining her usual mix of wit, cynicism, and candor.

Unlike Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings, Charmed Thirds took place over the span of four years in Jessica’s life. As a result, a lot of events in Jessica’s life were glossed over, and the emotional impacts of her actions weren’t quite as prevalent as in the first two installments.

While Jessica’s voice was just as engaging as before, I was rather unimpressed with her character. She made a lot of very poor decisions, which I’m still not sure she’s learned from. A large component of college life is trying to discover who you are and what you desire from life, but it just felt like Jessica was going about it in all the wrong ways.

As Jessica’s character became more and more frustrating, Marcus’ character became almost saint-like. He underwent a tremendous amount of growth and self-discovery in his limited amount of page time, and I can’t wait to see where this reformed bad boy is going to go next.

Jessica’s parents and sister played important roles in Charmed Thirds. An important part of growing up is realizing that your parents aren’t perfect and that they’re human, which is something that Jessica discovers as she learned to understand and sympathize with them.

Overall, I didn’t enjoy Charmed Thirds as much as I enjoyed the rest of the previous Jessica Darling books. However, I’m not ready to give up on the series quite yet, so hopefully it picks up again in the next book!

Saturday Showcase (April 19)

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Saturday Showcase is a weekly event hosted here at The In-Between Place which features books that you wish more people had read (or, at least, heard about).

This week’s featured book is The Curiosities by Brenna Yovanoff, Maggie Stiefvater, and Tessa Gratton.

From acclaimed YA authors Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff comes The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories.

- A vampire locked in a cage in the basement, for good luck.
– Bad guys, clever girls, and the various reasons why the guys have to stop breathing.
– A world where fires never go out (with references to vanilla ice cream).

These are but a few of the curiosities collected in this volume of short stories by three acclaimed practitioners of paranormal fiction.

But The Curiosities is more than the stories. Since 2008, Maggie, Tessa, and Brenna have posted more than 250 works of short fiction to their website merryfates.com. Their goal was simple: create a space for experimentation and improvisation in their writing—all in public and without a backspace key. In that spirit, The Curiosities includes the stories and each author’s comments, critiques, and kudos in the margins. Think of it as a guided tour of the creative processes of three acclaimed authors.

So, are you curious now?

The Curiosities is a collection of short stories, complete with notes from the author that discuss their inspiration for the story, some of the reasons why they chose certain ideas, and what they were hoping to accomplish with it. I loved getting a glimpse into Maggie, Tessa, and Brenna’s heads – not only to help me with my own writing, but to help me appreciate theirs even more. And the stories themselves were equal parts creepy, confusing, and enthralling, which I’ve come to expect from these lovely authors.

What are some of your favourite underrated books? Leave a list in the comments below.
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Friday Finds (April 18)

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Friday Finds is a weekly event hosted by Should Be Reading, where you discuss books that you’ve discovered and added to your to-read list over the course of the week. These books don’t have to be ones that you’ve purchased – they can be books that you’ve borrowed, found online, heard about from a friend, etc.

As always, if you’re interested in learning more about one of these books, click on the picture and you’ll be taken to its Goodreads page.

What books did you find this Friday? Leave me a list or a link to your Friday Finds post in the comments below.

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Book Review: Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty

Rating: ★★★★

“Knowing that I’ve just done something that will take decades off my parents’ lives with worry, you’ll excuse me for not getting into the fa-la-la-la-la Yuletide spirit this year… The only difference between Christmas 2001 and Christmas 2000 is that I don’t have a visit from Hope to look forward to. And Bethany has already packed on some major fetal flab. Oh, and now Gladdie doesn’t need to ask a bizillion questions about my boyfriend, because she’s already gotten the dirt from you know who.”

Jessica Darling is up in arms again in this much-anticipated, hilarious sequel to Sloppy Firsts. This time, the hyperobservant, angst-ridden teenager is going through the social and emotional ordeal of her senior year at Pineville High. Not only does the mysterious and oh-so-compelling Marcus Flutie continue to distract Jessica, but her best friend, Hope, still lives in another state, and she can’t seem to escape the clutches of the Clueless Crew, her annoying so-called friends. To top it off, Jessica’s parents won’t get off her butt about choosing a college, and her sister Bethany’s pregnancy is causing a big stir in the Darling household.

Second Helpings picks up in Jessica’s senior year, where dating, college applications, and he-who-must-not-be-named are just a few of her problems. Jessica’s narration is equal parts crazy, snarky, thought-provoking, engaging, and every bit as wonderful as it was in Sloppy Firsts. I really enjoyed watching Jessica grow and develop over the course of the book, as she made mistakes and learned a lot about herself and her desires.

My trepidations about Marcus Flutie’s character were quickly dispelled throughout this read – to the point where I can easily see why practically everyone wants him as a book boyfriend. Mysterious, unpredictable, and sweet, Marcus Flutie managed to capture my heart, and his chemistry with Jessica led me to ship them so, so strongly. I sincerely hope that he’ll have his own narration at some point, or be more present in future installments, at the very least.

Relationships are, as always, a prominent portion of this book, and there was even a very well-done love triangle. McCafferty perfectly captures the nature of teenage relationships (or relationships in general): it’s often hard to know the nature of your own feelings for someone, and relationships themselves are confusing and complicated.

Overall, Second Helpings was every bit as enjoyable and entertaining as its predecessor. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!

Waiting on Wednesday (April 16)

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that are eagerly anticipated.

This week, I’m waiting on Born of Deception by Teri Brown, which has an expected publication date of June 10, 2014.

Budding illusionist Anna Van Housen is on top of the world: after scoring a spot on a prestigious European vaudeville tour, she has moved to London to chase her dream and to join an underground society for people like her with psychic abilities. Along with her handsome beau, Cole Archer, Anna is prepared to take the city by storm.

But when Anna arrives in London, she finds the group in turmoil. Sensitives are disappearing and, without a suspect, the group’s members are turning on one another. Could the kidnapper be someone within the society itself—or has the nefarious Dr. Boyle followed them to London?

As Cole and Anna begin to unravel the case and secrets about the society are revealed, they find themselves at odds, their plans for romance in London having vanished. Her life in danger and her relationship fizzling, can Anna find a way to track down the killer before he makes her his next victim—or will she have to pay the ultimate price for her powers?

Set in Jazz-Age London, this alluring sequel to Born of Illusion comes alive with sparkling romance, deadly intrigue, and daring magic.

I just finished reading Born of Illusion about a week ago, and I absolutely loved it. Magic, séances, spiritualism, mystery, and a touch of romance combined with a historic New York City setting to create the perfect read for me, so to say that I’m looking forward to Born of Deception is a bit of an understatement. Especially if what I’ve heard about it involving Rasputin is true.

What books are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a list in the comments below. 3