Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: No. 5

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
This week, without shame, I bring you a teaser from a romance novel. I think you'll come to see that I am an absolute sucker for regency romance. I can't resist it. If it even hints at regency romance, I'm on it. That said, this is a recent passion of mine, so I'm far from an expert. So, without further ado, here's my teaser this week. And yes, yes I did pick this one because I love the cover!  Look at that man, he's quite dashing...

'Miss Collins.' He did not move. And although she had not through him a particularly large man, he seemed to fill the stairwell in front of her, blocking her progress. 'What a surprise to find you creeping about the house so late at night.'
So far, I'm enjoying the book okay.  Lots and lots of sentences start with coordinating conjunctions and it distracts me. Small things, but there you have it. This teaser comes from the Kindle edition, from NetGalley, location 613-19. Now, I'm off to say hello to some of my blogging friends and then get back to the book!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Musing Mondays: No. 1

Musing Mondays is one of the awesome weekly events hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Go, check out her blog and participate in the weekly fun.

Wow, it's late. I meant to get to this all day, but other things kept coming up. It's nearly time for Teaser Tuesday and here I am writing a post for Musing Mondays. I suppose as long as it's still Monday, it still counts! :) So, without further adieu, here's this week's topic: Describe the last time you were stumped for something to read, and you took measures to remedy that — either by going to the bookstore, the library, or shopping elsewhere. What book did you choose? Did it get you out of your slump?

I would say that I go through a small slump every single time I finish a really good book. If it's been a trilogy or series, the slump is somewhat greater. While I always get over them and find something new to read, it usually involves sacrificing a book to my malaise before it ends. Here's what I mean: When I finished, say, the Hunger Games series, I had to read a book to get over the feeling of loss I suffered at the end of Mockingjay. This involved understanding that I wouldn't enjoy said book as much as I maybe could because it followed, and therefore stood in the shadow, of something amazing. In the case of the Hunger Games, I followed it up with The Girl in the Steel Corset and, as a result, I didn't quite find the fulfillment I might have.

Otherwise, when I'm trying to overcome a slump, I do one of three things: read book blogs, browse Amazon, or haunt GoodReads. It might also be any combination of the three. I'm not very particular, I just need to be inspired to overcome it. Looking at book covers, reading reviews, and buffing up my wishlist is a good medicine for what ails me.  I don't spend much time at the library because the one where I live is tiny and filled with old books. They don't have much of anything, which is very disappointing. I enjoy going to B&N or Half-Price Books, but there isn't one in the town where I live, so I have to be happy with Hastings, which is not the same thing by far.

So there you have it!  I hope to get around and see some of the other answers to this week's query. I hope you've had an amazing, productive Monday. Oh, before I go, I should add that I would have a review coming because I just finished Nicola Cornick's Notorious but the review won't come for a few weeks because the book's not out until mid-July. So, I'm reading Dangerous Lord, Innocent Governess instead. Review forthcoming. Good night!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

On My Wishlist: No. 4

On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. Post the books you're dying to have but haven't gotten yet, head over to Book Chick City, add your name to the linky and you're off!

This week, there's a series on my wishlist. I usually pick three books I can't wait for, and put them here, but there's not normally a theme. This week, a theme! These books look so good and their covers are so beautiful. I cannot believe I haven't had the opportunity to get them sooner.

So simply and yet, hauntingly beautiful. I love it. I'm a sucker for a good cover and this whole series, so far, has remarkably beautiful covers. This book's been out since September 2010 and has, somehow, slipped my attention. The only thing better than a good cover is a great story, so I'm looking forward to getting my paws on this one.
There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.

Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.
I actually saw this one before Fallen, wanted to get it, but realized it's the second in a series. I can't read a series out of order, it's not in me, so I went looking for Fallen. Now, I want both of them!
Hell on earth. That's what it's like for Luce to be apart from her fallen angel boyfriend, Daniel. It took them an eternity to find one another, but now he has told her he must go away. Just long enough to hunt down the Outcasts - immortals who want to kill Luce. Daniel hides Luce at Shoreline, a school on the rocky California coast with unusually gifted students -Nephilim, the offspring of fallen angels and humans.

At Shoreline, Luce learns what the Shadows are, and how she can use them as windows to her previous lives. Yet the more Luce learns, the more she suspects that Daniel hasn't told her everything. He's hiding something - something dangerous. What if Daniel's version of the past isn't actually true? What if Luce is really meant to be with someone else? The second novel in the addictive FALLEN series . . . where love never dies.
Bet you weren't surprised to see this one! It won't be out until June, so I've got a small wait, but I'm thinking that gives me more than enough time to get the first two and read them before this one hits shelves.
"Every single lifetime, I'll choose you. Just as you have chosen me. Forever."

Luce would die for Daniel. And she has. Over and over again. Throughout time, Luce and Daniel have found each other, only to be painfully torn apart: Luce dead, Daniel left broken and alone. But perhaps it doesn’t need to be that way. . . .

Luce is certain that something—or someone—in a past life can help her in her present one. So she begins the most important journey of this lifetime . . . going back eternities to witness firsthand her romances with Daniel . . . and finally unlock the key to making their love last.

Cam and the legions of angels and Outcasts are desperate to catch Luce, but none are as frantic as Daniel. He chases Luce through their shared pasts, terrified of what might happen if she rewrites history.

Because their romance for the ages could go up in flames . . . forever.
I hope you're having a good Saturday. I'm off to check out some other wishlists and then I'm going to snuggle down with my Kindle and work on my current read, Notorious by Nicola Cornick!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Armchair BEA: Day 5

It's the last day of Armchair BEA. It's been a blast, even though I didn't get around to meeting as many people as I would have liked. So then, onto the final topic, shall we?

Today's topic: Blogging about blogging!

There's so much to say about blogging, I'm not sure where to start. I haven't been book blogging for very long, but I have been personal blogging for about the last 8 years (wow, has it been that long?) and it's been an experience. I will say, book blogging is quite different than personal blogging.  It has a structure, a built in topic, where personal blogging really doesn't, which makes this a totally unique experience. So, rather than rambling on and on, I'm going to address a few of the questions for today's topic at Armchair BEA.

How do you utilize social networking in relation to your blog? What may be the pros and cons of doing so?

Because I'm still feeling my way around, and it's been a somewhat slow process for me because this blog sat dormant for a long time over at WordPress before I moved it here and started to really engage with it, I don't use a lot of social networking so far. I don't have a facebook page for my blog, but may do so at some point in the future. I do have a twitter account for this blog (@aturnofpage) where I share my posts, books I'm reading, etc. Oh, and I'm on GoodReads and would love to connect with other book bloggers there. I would love to hear any suggestions for social networking others have!

Share some of your favorite blogging technical tips.

This is a hard one for me. I feel like, technically speaking, that reviews should be kept to a manageable read. Here's the problem, I don't feel like I keep mine manageable. They're very long, but it's something I'm working on and have tried to account for with sub-headers. They're still really, really long and it's something I need to work on. Concise isn't my best talent by far. One of my professors told me I write really long, beautiful sentences, but I really should try to be more concise. It's never a skill I've mastered. On the HTML, technical side, I can't share anything because, well, I'm not terribly adept. I do okay, but most of it goes well over my head. Oh, I should add that I installed the LinkWithin widget to this blog on the suggestion of another blogger's post for todays Armchair BEA, so I've already learned something new!

Create a "rule list" of things you should and shouldn't be doing on a book blog.

Hmm... okay, one rule: Write what you're passionate about. We all blog because we love books. We're passionate about lit, or we wouldn't have gone to the trouble to start a blog to talk about it. So, carry that passion forward in every entry. I really try to make my reviews, for example, as meaningful as I can... which is why they're so long. I love blogging, I love reading, this blog is the natural evolution of those passions.

What are your tips for balance life and blogging?

I am 100% the wrong person to ask about this. I'm a graduate student, I work teaching classes, and I have a husband, which means there are a lot of people/things vying for my attention and I'm not terribly good at keeping all the ball in the air. I blog when I have time, to let down from the stress, in between classes, assignments, spending time with my husband, grading papers... the list goes on. I do it when I have time and something to say. Right now, I'm on summer break, and while I should be studying for the comps and working on my master's thesis, I still have more time right now than usual. When school starts back in August, we'll see.

What genre do you blog about and why?

I try not to restrict it to any one particular genre because I love all books. There're some genre's I don't read (memoir, western, Christian romance, technical, etc), so I don't talk about them. For the most part, what you'll find here is YA, romance, paranormal, historical, fantasy, dystopia, mythological, and horror. I love romance novels, for many reasons, so I'll probably start a feature for "Steamy page turners" which I'll label with some sort of banner or button so they're distinguishable as 18+.

How do you keep your blog fresh and interesting to your readers & yourself?

This is another thing I'm still working on. I do a lot of memes and hops, which are fun but I think I need more than that. I do reviews, and have been doing "reflection" posts where I talk about different things (so far I've done the evolution of YA and The Hunger Games casting), which I might make a weekly feature. Otherwise, I may try a contest here and there, but I don't know, they seem like a lot to coordinate. I welcome suggestions from others about how I might achieve this!

There are quite a few book blogging events out there. Which are your favorites and why? How do they affect your blog directly?

I do a lot of weekly meme's and hops, including:
  • On My Wishlist (Saturday)
  • In My Mailbox
  • Teaser Tuesday
  • WWW Wednesdays
  • Follow Friday
I think, however, that I'm going to have to narrow it down to only a few of them, maybe three, I just can't decide which three. Probably On My Wishlist, Teaser Tuesday, and Follow Friday. That opens the week for reflection posts and reviews. I just don't get enough books to do In My Mailbox regularly. 

So there you have it. I had a really good time doing Armchair BEA. Thanks to everyone who has stopped by and said hello!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Review: The Goddess Test

1921goddess_coverAuthor: Aimee Carter {site}
Genre: YA, Romance, Mythology
Format: Kindle
Published: 19 April 2011
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Disclosure: Acquired via NetGalley
Series: Yes (trilogy)

Synopsis: {via amazon}
It's always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he's crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess.

I should preface this review with the admission that I'm a huge Greek Mythology fan. I've been reading and enjoying it for quite a few years, and studying Classical Greek literature while in college only strengthened my adoration for all things Greek! Truth be told, it's not the only mythology I enjoy, I also really like Norse, but the Greeks are my favorite by far. So, when I read the synopsis for this book, I knew I had to have it. Not wanted it, but had to have it.

The Characters:

Now that I'm done with it, I'm happy to say that it doesn't disappoint. The characters are all quite believable and the main character, Kate, is quite sympathetic. Given that the book is about Kate undertaking the seven tests to become an immortal, the first person narration was not only appropriate but very well done. Other than Kate, my favorite character was Henry, by far. I tend to fall for the dark, brooding, tortured soul male leads and Henry's got that. He's a good character, he comes across dark and filled with pain and loneliness--he also comes across as someone not quite connected to life, which is appropriate considering that he, well, Hades. How could I not fall for that?!

Ava and James were also really good characters, though they weren't as present as either Kate or Henry. Considering it was Kate and Henry's story, though, I didn't expect them to be. Ava could be quite annoying and impish at times, but by the end of the book it becomes clear why she behaves the way she does (let's just say it's not out of character for her to behave like this). James starts out a cheerful guy and, over the course of the story, evolves into something much more serious.

The Plot:

The plot was well paced and quite sad at parts. Any story that involves a teenager whose mother is dying of cancer is bound to have it's heartbreaking moments. I felt like Carter dealt with the emotion in this story in such a way that it's accessible to readers.  There was never a moment I thought I might cry, or was so touched I had to put the book done, but the emotion is still there. I think, for me, the problem is that I tend to be very skeptical of emotional elements, always waiting for the other shoe to drop. This book really spans the spectrum of emotion with everything from pain to passion, loss to love. I really enjoyed that aspect.

The tests were well placed and when you learn what they are, you start to see not only how she's done on some of them that have passed, but also the traps laid ahead of her. The "bad guy" who really isn't a bad guy, so much as someone driven by selfish motivations, wasn't too apparent and it took me a while to figure out who it was. As a matter of fact, I figured it out only shortly before the book spills it. I tend to catch these things, so I was pleasantly surprised. By the end of the book, when you get to the legend that says who each god is, I had it pretty much figured out. They're quite well portrayed, I must say, each with the characteristics appropriate to his or her god or goddess.

The Verdict:

Rating: 4/5
In all, I'd say this book holds up to its promise. As the first book by a debut author, The Goddess Test is a winner. If you're considering it and you enjoy YA, romance, and mythology I'd say this book is for you. While it got some mixed reviews, I think Carter made a good start with this trilogy. I'm definitely waiting for the next two books, which are slated for February 2012 and November 2012.

Armchair BEA: Day 4

Hi there! I just realized that I skipped right over Armchair BEA day three. No idea where the day went--it's not as though I didn't blog, I just managed to miss the Armchair BEA. But, today I'm back on track today and ready to discuss blogging relationships.

Today's Topic: Relationship you’ve formed with a particular publisher, author, blogger, or bookstore.

I've been contemplating what I'd say here, over the last hour. I'm really new to blogging (the year my blog sat dormant over on WordPress not withstanding), so I haven't formed a lot of relationships with publishers, bookstores, etc. That doesn't mean I don't have anything to say here, I'm quite talkative, you'd have to search long and hard to find a topic I didn't have something to say about!

There have been several blogs that have been quite inspirational or helpful to my starting this blog. I think this was actually part of yesterday's topic, but I managed to miss it, so I'm putting it here instead. Anyhow, I would have to say that the one blog that had the most influence over my decision to start blogging was Parajunkee's View. Her Blogging101 Series has been more helpful to me than anything I've read on blogging so far and I've been able to use many of her tips and suggestions along the way. Without them, I would have been quite lost. Also, she introduced me to NetGalley (via her Blogging101 stuff) and for that I'll be forever in her debt.

Since I started blogging, I've met a lot of amazing bloggers... too many to name here. I think the community, as a whole, is the most inclusive and helpful blogging community on the web. It helps that we all share a mutual love of books and reading, and without the book blogosphere, there's no way I would have met so many great people who share one of my greatest passions, books!

I don't think I can end this post without mentioning NetGalley. Of all of the things I love about book blogging, NetGalley is at the top of the list--Who doesn't love them?! I adore them, their service is amazing. They've shared so many amazing books with me, many of which I have yet to get around to reviewing. Harlequin, in particular, is my favorite publisher on NetGalley. I've had the opportunity to communicate with Lisa at Harlequin, through NetGalley (and I follow her on Twitter), and she's been very nice! They've been so gracious about approving me for Galley's. Thank you, NetGalley!

I hope everyone's having a nice Thursday!  If you're here from Armchair BEA, say hello, I don't bite! I enjoy meeting new people, and saying hello to those I already know.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Reflection: Hunger Games Casting

Yes, like everyone else who has read this series, I'm madly in love with all things Hunger Games! That means the books, the swag (I am dying to have a Mockingjay pin), and, perhaps most of all, the movie. I am dying to see it. I can't wait until 2012... I want it now! For the time being, we all have to sit tight and wait for pictures and trailers to be released, now that casting seems to be done. Ah yes, casting. The only definitive thing I think can be said about the casting is that it's not uniformly appreciated. Everyone has an opinion about it, including me, and since it has come up a few times, I thought I'd share my thoughts.

This Entertainment Weekly cover is what dragged me into the fan frenzy. I was resisting, I was trying to ignore all the talk about the movie because once I'm in, I'm in full-on fangirl mode. I saw a few of the casting choices and, honestly, I wasn't terribly pleased, which only helped me to ignore all the talk. Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, I thought, really?  She's so beautiful, so blonde, so... everything Katniss isn't.  Not that she's not attractive, but she's not glamorous. Jennifer Lawrence is glamorous! Bleh.

Then this cover came out and I swooned. Almost literally, swooned. I love it, I think they really captured the essence of who Katniss is. She looks just like that in my mind and seeing it on paper (well, the screen, really) I was completely drawn in. After that, it was almost impossible not to give in to my feelings about the rest of the casting, particularly that of Peeta and Gale. If you read my reviews, you know I loved them, and the whole love triangle thing. I live for love triangles! So, when I saw the casting for Peeta and Gale, I had seriously mixed feelings.

First, Peeta. There's no doubt that Josh Hutcherson is quite good looking. He's adorable, really, and every time I see his smile I just want to hug him. That reaction, I think, is why he was chosen for this role. It took me a while to realize that he was the bad vamp kid in the Cirque du Freak movie. But, his appearance is all wrong for Peeta as far as coloring. He's dark, both hair and eyes, but I'm trying to reserve serious judgement because I didn't think Jennifer Lawrence could pull of Katniss, either, and look how wrong I was on that call. I'm sure he'll make a great Peeta and, best of all, he can actually act. It's going to take monumental acting talent to pull off Peeta convincingly, especially considering that Peeta is so charismatic. I think he can do it and I don't think you have to strain your brain to guess which "team" I'm on here. I loved Peeta from the first, loved him, and I always rooted for him and Katniss. Always.

As for Gale, well, Liam Hemsworth is just gorgeous! Look at his eyes, he's crazy good looking (never mind that his older brother is Thor!).  I have zero problems with this casting. He looks just like I'd imagine Gale to look and I'm sure he'll pull it off. I've never seen him in anything, but even if he's a terrible actor it doesn't really matter all that much because Gale strikes me as the strong silent type. Still, I'm sure he'll be great. I have tremendous confidence in the pick.

As for all the others, I really like the rest of the casting, particularly Haymitch, Prim, and Rue. I think they really did a good job capturing the essence of all of the characters. I'll be interested to see how the movie comes together. More than the casting, I'm concerned about the script. It's going to take a genius script to do this book justice. I hope Hollywood's doesn't extend to casting and make-up and stop short of the script. If so, this will be the biggest disappointment ever. Until we know for sure, here's hoping that our faith is not misplaced.

Quick update to what I've said here. Check out this pic I found on HungerGamesMovie.org a few minutes ago. It's a fan-made pic of Josh Hutcherson as Peeta...

Goodbye doubt! If I had it before (and I did, really), this seals the deal. I know it's not official, but it helps to see what he may look like as a blond. Love it!

Jacqueline Carey Book Signing

I just saw this on Facebook and thought I'd pass it along to anyone who might in the Metroplex (Dallas/Fort Worth, TX).  Jacqueline Carey, one of my very favorite authors, will be doing a book signing for her new book, Naamah's Blessing, at 7 p.m. on June 15th. The signing will be at the Barnes & Noble in Frisco, TX.


While that's about 2 1/2 hours north of us, we're going. I can't miss this. I adore her work and she seems like such a lovely person! Here's a link to the Facebook RSPV page for anyone who might be interested in attending. If you're in the area and thinking about going, I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: No. 4

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Here we are again at Tuesday!  This week, my Book is The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter and I'm really enjoying it so far. I started it last night and should finish it this afternoon, or tomorrow morning.  A review should follow shortly after, but for now, here's my spoiler...


I shrank back from the intensity of his voice. He really did believe what he was saying. "It's impossible," I said softly. "Isn't it?"

"But it is happening, so maybe it is time for you to reevaluate what is possible and whats not."
So there you have it. I know it's more than two sentences, but I couldn't resist! I'm really enjoying this book so far, despite its having received some poor reviews. Isn't the cover beautiful?! I just love it. Anyhow, I hope you're having a great Teaser Tuesday and, if you're participating in Armchair BEA, a good time with that, too!

Armchair BEA: Day 2

Hi there!  It's day two of Armchair BEA and I had a good time stopping by and saying hello to some of my friends yesterday. I didn't get around to as many as I would have liked, this is a way to say hello to friends and make new ones, after all. Today, I hope will be better and I'll get around to say hello to more bloggers. Thanks to everyone who stopped in for a visit yesterday, it was nice to see you.

Today's topic Best of 2011 asks that we share our favorite books of the year, so far. Here're mine!


So far this year, these six have been my favorites. That said, I've recently gotten a whole lot of books from NetGalley (currently reading The Goddess Test), so who knows. I would really have liked to add The Girl with the Steel Corset to that list, but I felt like it was good, but not good enough--If you're interested, check out my review.  As a matter of fact, I've reviewed all of these books, here're the links...
Right now, it's a short list. I've read a lot over the first four months or so of the year, but most of it was for school and nothing I'd qualify as a fav. Mostly, just American Southern novels (Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, etc) and critical composition pedagogy. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't quite the thing I'd put here. So, since school's been out over the last few weeks, and I've had time, I've been devouring books left and right. The Vampire stories, I read during the semester, I read the other three last week.

I was going to list some upcoming books I'm interested in, but I think I'll leave it at this. I'm certain my lists of favorites will grow as I read books like Die for Me, Enclave, and Divergent. For now, I'm off to say hello to others who're Armchairing this week. Cheers!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset

corsetcoverAuthor: Kady Cross {site}
Genre: Steampunk, Historical, YA
Format: Kindle
Published: 5/24/11 (Kindle 6/1/2011)
Disclosure: Acquired via NetGalley

Synopsis: {via amazon}
In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one…except the "thing" inside her.

When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch…

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special, says she's one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin's investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help—and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff's little company of strays apart, and it isn't long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she's on—even if it seems no one believes her.

I've said so before, but I was dying to have this book. When it was approved on NetGalley, I was so remarkably happy. I think the cover's the most beautiful I've seen, and that's saying a lot because book covers are getting so much better than they have ever been. I started it the day I finished Mockingjay, that was my biggest mistake I think. If I'd started this book to follow any other book, I'd probably have felt better about it overall, but following something as amazing as the Hunger Games series and this book just came across as so-so. That's not to say that I didn't like it, and the more I read the more it grew on me, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would.

The Setting:

So lets start with the things I did like, because I hate to start on a negative note. The steampunk elements of this book were very good. Kady Cross clearly has a great grasp on what steampunk should be, and what it should not. Her "technology" was believable and fantastic all at once. I loved the veolcycles, the aether engine,  the handheld telegraph machines. I particularly loved Emily's cat. The steampunk elements blended perfectly with the setting and were effortless. Rather than being distracting, they were a perfect fit. These things made this book a perfect steampunk setting. Very well done.

Also, the supernatural elements of this story were quite good. The Aether  and Organites were somewhat like magic, which made a good match and juxtaposition with the steampunk technological elements. Cross does a good job blending the two into a setting that works so well it's almost too good to be true. Very fulfilling setting.

The Characters:

I liked Finley, particularly because of her strength. The whole good girl/bad girl thing was well done, and Finley was well portrayed and believable. I adored Griffin King, the Duke of Greythorne. He has to go on my ever growing list of adored male leads (may just have to make a list, now that I think about it!) for his charming wit and good nature, and he's not too bad to "look at" either. Emily and Sam were both very believable, very lovable characters. Jasper was okay, but I was bothered by the somewhat cliché aspect of Jasper being an American cowboy in London. That said, Jasper was a good, solid character who did his best to defy his place as a cliché.

Finally, Jack Dandy, so bad he's good. I can see why Finley's attracted to him and his nick name for her ("Treasure") is perfect! I loved everything about him, including his Cockney accent, which in his case is less a cliché, than Jasper being a cowboy. Between Griffin and Jack, I can see Finley's issue. They're each a representation of one side of her.  I love them both, but wonder what will happen when she evolves as a character and grows into herself... will she still like either of them?  I think so, but we'll see.

The Classics:

I love, love the classical story references in this book. It alludes to Jekyll and Hyde, Frankenstein, and Jane Eyre directly.  There is also reference to the Gothic, which was quite popular (even amongst women) during the time this book was set. It makes a rather short references to the "horrid novels," but one that made an impression on me. For those who may not know, the horrid novels are stories recommended for Gothic readers by the Goth-crazed Isabella Thorpe, the protagonist of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey. This really made this book for me, particularly because I love the Classic Gothic tales.

The Plot:

This is where things start to get a little bit fuzzy for me. Overall, I liked the plot okay, but I felt like it was a little bit too obvious. There was never a moment when this book surprised me, in any way. As a matter of fact, there were moments when the characters were missing things they shouldn't have been and I was yelling at them to see what was so clear to me. It wasn't as though these are things I could see, but the characters wouldn't, they should have been able to deduce what was happening from the clues, but they weren't. It was quite maddening, to be honest with you.

Also, there were many places when the plots forward momentum relied on too concidental incidents. I won't say what they are because that would constitute spoilers, but there're several places where things happen that are too coincidental. The plot couldn't have proceeded without them, or at least not in any way I could have seen, but it looked very much like the author was in the same boat. Like she had written herself into a corner she couldn't escape without making things too easy for Finley, Griffin, and crew.

The Verdict:

All in all, I liked this book okay. Not nearly as much as I thought I would, but enough that I would recommend it to steampunk and YA fans. Also, as the first book of a series, I liked it enough to read the second book and the short novella, too--I find I'm actually looking forward to the next book! It wasn't the kind of book that stick with you, or makes you feel deeply, but it was fun reading and I enjoyed my time reading it. It was good steampunk and anyone who appreciates the genre would appreciate it.


I liked the book trailer almost as much as I liked the cover. Harlequin should really be proud of themselves for this trailer, it's beautiful and fits the novel well. Bravo!

Rating: 3.5/5 (I liked it!)

Armchair BEA: Day 1

Hi there! This is my first post for Armchair BEA and I'm so excited to be participating--I just decided today that I would! For those who may not know about Armchair BEA, click her for more information. If you're visiting me from the Armchair BEA site, welcome! It's always nice to meet new people, and say hello again to those I already know.

Today's topic is: Who are you, and how do you Armchair?

My name is Kristyn, I'm a graduate student studying English at Tarleton State University, in a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere Texas. I also earned my BA in English with a minor in history from TSU in December 2009, so Tarleton feels like home to me (I've been attending since 2004 and now, as a graduate assistant, I work there and teach classes). Let's see, I've been married for 11 1/2 years to my husband Matt, the most fantastic guy! Here we are just a few weeks ago...

Believe it or not, Matt and I met online in August 1998, before internet dating sites were a big, safe thing. We met randomly, on ICQ, a chat protocol that was once quite popular but has since fallen from favor amongst internet crowds. With ICQ, you can set the program to randomly search for people who are open to random chatting. I struck up a conversation and, in February 2000, we were married! We've been together ever since.

We don't have any kids, but are the parents of two sweet, cuddly little fur babies (read: evil furry demons) we love unconditionally...

This is Anakin, he's a shih-tzu. He just turned 6 years old on May 12th! He's naughty, terribly high maintenance, but is the most lovable little critter you have ever met. Oh, about the name... Matt wanted to name him "Darth Vader," but who could really name a shih-tzu Darth Vader? So, we compromised on Anakin. :)

Galileo loves it when we get packages from Amazon!  He's a 7 1/2 year old tabby cat and though you can't tell from this picture, needs to go on a diet. He's somewhere around 20 lbs, about the same size as Anakin. Pardon the slightly possessed look in his eyes, he hates having his picture taken!

A few random facts about me...
  • I'm a gamer--both table top RPG & MMORPG.
  • Half of my master's thesis will involve using Alan Ball's True Blood, the first four books of the Southern Vampire Mysteries series by Charlaine Harris, The Twilight Series, and the Twilight movies. I am so excited. Clearly, I love the Gothic!
  • I grew up in Southern California & will move home next year.
  • I've been a blogger since May 2003 when I started my first personal blog. Now, I personal blog at Pretty Pessimist.
  • I enjoy sewing, though I'm still a beginner and am not terribly adept. Lately, I've been obsessed with making these little bags...
Maybe not the best picture ever, but it's an Origami drawstring bag. It has little pockets on the outside. I have yet to perfect it, but I'm working on it. I use mine for dice and will probably soon try to make on with slightly larger dimensions to fit my Kindle--ooh, a fun day project!

As for how I armchair, I must admit, I don't even own an armchair. Therefore, I "armchair" from my sofa and my desk. I do most of my reading on Kindle now, snuggled up on the sofa. My favorite reading is paranormal, romance, YA, and steampunk. I also love the classics and am about to start reading Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho and Regina Maria Roche's Clermont, which I will likely be talking about as I'm reading them. My favorites are Dracula, Jane Eyre, and anything by Jane Austen, but particularly Pride and Prejudice. Ooh, speaking of, check out this amazing Christmas present my husband got me this last year...

It's Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, but rather than starring Elizabeth Bennett, it stars yours truly!  He got it from a company called U Star Novels who specialize in remaking your favorite novel with you as the star. Best Christmas present ever!

Alright, it seems like I've gone on enough for one day. I hope that you've gotten a better feel for who I am from this post, as I think that's the whole idea. I'll be around to check out some of your Armchair BEA posts, can't wait to get to know some of you better!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Reflection: YA Lit

bad dreams fear streetI should start with an admission, to give this post a little bit of context. So here goes: I have been trying to resist reading YA since I was in my mid-twenties. There you go. The thing is, when I was a kid, YA lit was simple and easy. It was for children, to inspire them read, and while some of it was good, it was also often formulaic and highly simplistic. We read things like the Fear Street Series by R.L. Stein, and they were awesome, but they were clearly for teenagers. Before that, it was Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. Young Adult was for, well, young adults... for teenagers.

Nancy DrewHeck, I read many of the Fear Street novels, but I did so when I was of the appropriate age to fit into their target audience, while I was still young enough to enjoy them for what they were, without my mind wrapping around the obviousness of many of the plots and destroying my suspension of disbelief. I could do it then. Now, as an English grad student, I'm trained to see what's going on in the book, which renders much of the YA from my youth completely unreadable. Wow, okay, that makes me sound like a lit snob, doesn't it? It wasn't meant that way. I enjoyed them then, I probably still would, but for the nostalgia, not the story.

flowers_in_the_atticMany of my friends in high school, for lack of YA reading with depth, turned to the books like Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews. I never did read it, fairly certain my mother would have sent me back to the library to put the book back where I got it. My friends all seemed to love them, but that series was far from the YA lit of R.L Stein and Carolyn Keene. Still, without much interesting reading appropriate to a 15 year old, they went right to the "adult-ish" books. I still haven't read Flowers in the Attic but I'm going to have to put that series on my reading list.

HPCoverThen, when I was in my twenties, something happened. Well, a few things, really. The first, I became a much more avid reader. I consumed books for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The second, I found Harry Potter. Not at first, of course, in fact I was able to reject Harry Potter for years. But eventually, I was convinced to read them by friends who were adamant fans. My gal pal, Amanda, lent me the first three books in the series and I tore through them. From that point on, I was hooked. I devoured the rest of the series, waited patiently for the 7th book, and when it came out, I did the same. I laughed, cried, and began to realize that YA lit was not only for children. Rather, some of the themes were so adult, I wondered how any child, with their limited life experience, could understand them.

twilightStill, I wasn't completely sold on the whole YA thing. I wondered if Harry Potter wasn't simply an exception, rather than a rule. It was fantastic, no doubt, I don't think anyone would argue with that (though I have a professor who hates it). Then, Twilight came out and I rejected that, too, but somewhere along the way I began to realize, much to my surprise, that YA lit had evolved. From simplistic plots for children, to something that all ages could enjoy, YA lit had grown up. It was defined not by its unwillingness to address the hard themes, but such elements as the lack of graphic sex. It addressed issues through teenage protagonists, but that didn't make it a genre strictly for children.

Hunter Games CoverThese days, with YA lit having evolved so thoroughly, I have abandoned any qualms I had about reading it. In fact, I embrace it, as do many adults around the book blogosphere, I've noticed. Now, I look for titles I want to read, without regard for their labels, but for their stories--I recently finished, and loved, the Hunger Games trilogy, a quite heavy YA lit trilogy and am currently reading The Girl in the Steel Corset. Now that I'm in my early thirties, I've finally come to terms with YA lit, but it's been a winding road. Sometimes, that's okay. Sometimes, it's not just the journey that matters, but the destination, too.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

On My Wishlist: No. 3

On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. Post the books you're dying to have but haven't gotten yet, head over to Book Chick City, add your name to the linky and you're off!

So, I must say, I had a particularly hard time narrowing it down this week. There are so many amazing books I am absolutely dying to have!  If I put all of them here, this post would be entirely too long to keep even my attention. So, I've chosen three, secure in the knowledge that I'll have something to post here next Saturday, and the next for that matter.  Here're my picks this week...

Ruby Red
This book is so beautiful, how could I not want it?  I still think The Girl in the Steel Corset has the best cover I've seen, but this one is so lovely. The book sounds terribly interesting and, though I've never read anything remotely resembling time travel, it seems to me that it must be a genre that's difficult to do well.
Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon--the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.
die for me
This one's been going around and everyone seems to love it. I've even heard bloggers say it's their favorite of the year so far. It sounds intreaguing, and I'm dying to have it, but I've so many books I want to read alread (so many NetGalley's that'll expire) that I'm waiting to get it until I have time to read it.
In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity.

When Kate Mercier's parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life--and memories--behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.

Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate's guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he's a revenant--an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again.
An anthology... of Steampunk romance!  Who could resist that? Not me, that's certain. I love steampunk, love it. This book is on my must have list. This collections has some amazing names, like Ann Aguirre and Kiersten White. I think I'll be getting this one before the other two because stories are quicker to digest than a whole novel.
Dark, urban fantasies come to life in the newest collection of Steampunk stories, Corsets & Clockwork. Young heroes and heroines battle evils with the help of supernatural or super-technological powers, each individual story perfectly balancing historical and fantastical elements. Throw in epic romances that transcend time, and this trendy, engrossing anthology is sure to become another hit for the fast-growing Steampunk genre!
This collection features some of the hottest writers in the teen genre, including: Ann Aguirre, Jaclyn Dolamore, Tessa Gratton, Frewin Jones, Caitlin Kittredge, Adrienne Kress, Lesley Livingston, Dru Pagliassotti, Dia Reeves, Michael Scott, Maria V. Snyder, Tiffany Trent, and Kiersten White.
I hope you're having a great Saturday. I can't wait to take a peek at everyone's wishlist. Cheers!