Monday, December 16, 2013

Cold Spell by Jackson Pearce (Fairytale Retellings, #4)

"You think the fact that you love Kai means you'll win?"
"No," I saw slowly. "I think the fact that I love Kai means I'll fight for him."

[Click here to check out my review of book 1: Sisters Red, book 2: Sweetly, and book 3: Fathomless]

I adore fairytales and modern retellings that fit the old legends and make them even better are hard to come by. If you're looking for a good series that fits that criteria -- look no further.

After falling in love with each of the books in this series, one after the other, I was admittedly a little upset when I found out that this would be the last of the series. After all, I had all these ideas about how I wanted a final showdown to take place (and I cannot be the only one who was already beginning to ship Scarlett and Ansel, though they technically hadn't met). However, Jackson Pearce hadn't let me down thus far, so I knew I would be pleased however it turned out. I tore into it as soon as my preordered copy arrived in the mail.

When we first meet Kai and Ginny, they're skipping class to sit up on the roof of their apartment building and talk about their future. Kai, a extremely gifted musician, will be going to New York for a music program and Ginny intends to follow him. Extremely devoted to her young love, Ginny doesn't have much of a plan for her future. All she knows is that it absolutely involves Kai. Both look forward to the time away in the summer, especially Ginny, who is always happy to get out from under the loathing eye of Grandma Dalia, Kai's grandmother.

Grandma Dalia has hated Ginny since the day she and her family moved into their apartment building. She didn't like Kai playing with a girl and seemed to take every precaution to keep them away from each other, but even that couldn't stop the two from falling in love. Grandma Dalia loves her grandson and only him. She has dedicated her life to keeping him safe from the beasts and the dangers that she knows are lurking just around the corner. Most of all, she yearns to keep him safe from the snow queen.

Both teens have always assumed that these delusions were just a part of who Grandma Dalia was, that she was missing a few marbles. Ginny, though, always wondered if maybe there was a bit of truth to her words. What if there really was a real danger out there?

It seems her suspicions are confirmed when Kai disappears with a girl whom Ginny can only assume is the snow queen Grandma Dalia had warned them about. Now it's up to her to save the only love she's ever known and the only person she can't live without.

I may not have gotten the exact ending I was hoping for, but Jackson Pearce gifted her readers with exactly the kind of stunning end to a great story that we were all hoping for. Cold Spell ties up the story told within the series in the masterful way that only she could. Every character was complex and unique, while the story itself kept me glued to the pages.

Cold Spell is a chilling conclusion to a stunning tale that will leave the reader feeling satisfied, yet wishing they could continue reading anyway. I fell in love with it and can't wait to recommend it and its predecessors to as many readers as I can coax into reading them. Definitely the perfect holiday pick for your last minute Christmas shopping.

Rating: ★★★★★

She's already figured out what she does--she steals boys. But right now, I can do everything. If Mora can steal boys, I can bring them back.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

GNW: Me & My Brothers, Vol. 1 by Hari Tokeino

I picked up the first volume of Me & My Brothers while perusing the graphic novel shelves of the Teen section at my local library. They have quite a bit of manga (pronounced: mah-nga), so I've been trying to find some new series' to check out. I picked this one up after a few failed attempts at finding something I like and didn't even read it until it was a day overdue. (Sorry, librarians!)

When fourteen year-old Sakura's grandmother dies, she's all alone. The old woman was the only family she had- or so she thought. When she comes home to a house full of boys, she quickly learns that she has had four step-brothers the entire time and now they're here to take care of her. After the death of their mother, most of them had been split up between relatives, but these boys are more than ready to come back together for their baby sister. That is, if she'll have them.

Remember, manga is read from right to left.
Filled with family drama and adorable sibling relationships, I really enjoyed Me & My Brothers. As much as I love manga, I do have quite a hard time dealing with the inherent sexism particularly displayed in shoujo (manga written specifically for heterosexual women--see what I mean?). Therefore, I tend to lean more heavily toward the ones where the sexism is a little more subtle so I can enjoy the story and the artwork more fully.

I love Sakura and her brothers. Her brothers are protective and do everything they can to make their baby sister happy and she tries her best to do the same for them. They're all doing their best to become a family after having been torn apart so long ago and each has to figure out exactly what that looks like for them.

I definitely enjoyed the first volume and have already picked up volumes 2 and 3 from the library. I definitely recommend this one to manga readers as well as those who would like to dabble in the genre. (Also, for those of you who have read or watched Fruits Basket, you'll notice that Kyo and Ayame seem to have practical dopplegangers in the form of two of her brothers, which greatly amused me.)

Rating: ★★★★☆

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

"Fear can't hurt you," she said. "When it washes over you, give it no power. It's a make with no venom. Remember that. That knowledge can save you."

I really like Maureen Johnson.

I mean, what's not to like? She's a great author with 10+ books under her belt, a fabulous sense of humor, and she's unafraid to fight for what she believes in (in particular, the dreaded boy books vs. girl books conversation--one I too find particularly irksome because it's an old system based off archaic gender stereotypes . . . sorry, back to the review).

That being said, I was eager to pick up her newest series, which I've heard quite a lot about from other fans. The only problem was that it's about ghosts. If you know me, you know I don't do ghosts. The whole idea just creeps me the hell out, so I was a little nervous to dive in.

Rory is a seventeen year old girl from the outskirts of New Orleans, Louisiana. When she's relocated to a London boarding school for her senior year, she's excited. She sees it as an adventure that, while scary, will provide her with new friends and opportunities. However, her arrival is dampened by the news reports that someone has mimicked the first Jack the Ripper murder on the anniversary of the original murder.

When the second murder is also mimicked, all chaos breaks loose. The police can't find anything on the CCTV cameras, even the ones that are pointed directly at the scene of the murder, and there are no leads on the case. That is, until Rory runs right into someone at the scene of one of the murders just minutes after it's been committed. But for some reason, she seems to be the only one who can see him.

It looks like Jack the Ripper's back, but why? And how can anyone stop a murderer that they can't see?

I had never heard that much about Jack the Ripper before reading this novel. I knew he was a particularly brutal murderer from the late 1800s and that he had never been captured. Honestly, I think it made this book that much more interesting, getting to hear all the details for the first time from this perspective (though I've already started purchasing non-fiction accounts of Jack the Ripper, because this has absolutely piqued my interest).

Maureen has created a chilling novel that managed to keep me both terrified and eager to read more. I feel like I fell in love with every good character and cowered in fear from each of the bad ones, specifically our main villain. The entire novel was beautifully written and had every element I could have hoped for. I couldn't stop talking about it while I was reading it and leant it to a coworker the day I finished it.

The Name of the Star is the perfect spooky read for those who love mystery and being a little creeped out, without being so scared you want to cry. After all, I do live by myself. I can only handle so much. Though, word to the wise, try to ignore your cat while reading. They have a tendency to stare behind you at at the most terrifying moments and make you afraid to turn around and see what they're looking at.

Rating: ★★★★★

It's not that I'm extremely brave--I think I just forgot myself for a minute. Maybe that's what bravery is. You forget you're in trouble when you see someone else in danger. Or maybe there is a limit to how afraid you can get, and I'd hit it.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Into the Woods by Lyn Gardner [Illustrated by Mini Grey]

"I'm frightened, Storm. I am frightened fo Dr. DeWilde, of Mother Collops, of the mountains, of everything."
"Well, I'm sorry, Aurora," snapped Storm, "but you're just going to have to get used to being frightened. We're going to save Any, even if it kills us."

 I picked up Into the Woods because the cover caught my eye while I was perusing the local library. I picked it up, turned it over, and after reading the back, added it to my stack of books I was checking out that day. I thought it looked deeply interesting, but I still wasn't sure I would find the time to read it. After all, it was a rather large book and, though it looked good, I didn't think I'd have much time to read it. (As much as I adore reading, I only have so much time in which to do it, so I try not to get stuck on larger books that will take me so much longer to get through.)

However, this one kept screaming at me from my shelf, so once I finished City of Ashes, I decided to follow it up with a middle grade novel that I would almost certainly enjoy.

Storm Eden is nearly in her teens when she and her sisters become almost orphans. Their mother died after giving birth to the youngest Eden girl, Any, and their father soon abandoned them afterwards. Aurora, the eldest of the three, takes over. After all, it wasn't like her parents did much to take care of them before that. Aurora has long been in charge of the house, the cooking, and even Storm's education.

On her deathbed, Storm's mother presented her with a tin pipe. It hung on a chain that kept it around her neck and Storm listened in rapt attention as her mother cautioned her to use the pipe well and keep her sisters safe. At first, Storm is enchanted with the idea that the pipe is something special, but it isn't long before the doubt creeps in and she feels cheated, wondering if her mother was laughing at her by playing such a strange joke.

But when Dr. DeWilde, a menacing older man with a pack of wolves at his disposal, arrives at the girls' home in search of the pipe, Storm is quick to realize that there's more to the story that what her mother told her. Soon the girls are on the run in search of safety. When Dr. DeWilde gets his hands on Any, though, it soon becomes apparent that only Storm has the gumption and the fire necessary to save them all from Dr. DeWilde's evil schemes.

Into the Woods is a wonderful mashup of fairytales mixed up with an entirely new story, bringing with it a freshness and excitement that I was totally unprepared for. I really did love everything about this. Storm is a wonderful heroine, but then so are Aurora and Any. In an age where many take the easy route in making cookie-cutter heroines, I really appreciated having that contrast in each of them. (Aurora gets to be girly and scared, but still loyal and protective. Storm gets to be brave and the plucky tomboy, while still appreciating her sister's more feminine tendencies.) They all make mistakes and they all have their own brand of heroism, but they're in this together and each sister will do anything to protect the others.

The story itself was fabulous and kept me guessing the whole way through. It's whimsical, yet dark, and kept me engrossed from page one. And of course, the little dashes of illustration sprinkled throughout only heightened my enjoyment. Mini Grey does a fabulous job at giving us these lovely illustrations that let us peer into the story in another way without overwhelming us.

Altogether, it's a very well done book and definitely one I'll be introducing to my nieces and nephews once they're a tad older and able to handle longer books like this. It's a wonderful story for all ages and one I'd suggested adding to your Christmas list before you close this page!

Rating: ★★★★★

"Leave?" said Aurorora, staring wildly at Storm. "Leave, and let you face Mother Collops alone? What kind of sister do you think I am? I will never, ever abandon you. Whatever the circumstances. I'd die first!"

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

GNW: Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Sixth grade isn't known for being an easy time in anyone's life. In Raina's case, that is especially true. When she knocks out her very permanent two front teeth while running with some friends, she is whisked into a nightmarish sequence of visits to the dentist, orthodontist, periodontist, and all those other "dentists" who can help her get her mouth back to normal.

In Smile, Raina Telgemeier takes us back to that awkward stage in her life where dental drama wasn't the only drama in her life and worrying about her teeth was simply added to worrying about boys and whether or not she was wearing the right clothes.

Smile is an autobiographical graphic novel in which Raina tells her story and draws us all back to a time when awkwardness was our overwhelming concern and nothing ever seemed to go the way we expected.

After falling in love with Drama, I was more than a little excited when I spotted Smile on the shelf of my local B&N. I snatched it up immediately and fell in love almost as quickly. As a girl who spent nearly four years of her life in braces and took a couple of trips to the periodontist, this graphic novel really drew me back to that time and gave me the chance to laugh at all those dental disasters I thought I would never make it through. 

Smile was a wonderful story about growing up and growing into your awkwardness, bringing the reader back to a time where the worst thing that could happen was that you looked a little geeky. I really enjoyed it from beginning to end. Whether you're just entering this awkward stage yourself or those years are long behind you, I'd absolutely suggest picking up this lovely graphic novel. You won't be sorry.

Rating: ★★★★

Monday, December 2, 2013

Merch Monday: DFTBA Records

You'd better believe this awesome
"Books turn Muggles into Wizards"
sweatshirt is on my Christmas list!
I proudly identify myself as a nerdfighter. "What's that?" you ask? Well it's not about fighting nerds. Nerdfighters, or members of nerdfighteria, are what fans of John and Hank Green (aka. the vlogbrothers) call themselves. We are made of awesome and exist to decrease world suck.

DFTBA Records is an offshoot of what the vlogbrothers do on a daily basis. It's a place where many awesome content creators on Youtube have gathered together to sell their wares, making them more readily available to their fans and to the public in general. Their merchandise ranges anywhere from t-shirts and hoodies to iPhone cases, posters, and even original music. And, of couse, any place where nerds are gathered (and also led by a bestselling author *cough* John Green *cough*), there is bound to be plenty of chatter about books--which brings us to why it's being featured on my blog today.

An iPhone case covered in
The Fault in Our Stars book
references? Yes, please.
I've been ordering merch from DFTBA Records for years now and I couldn't be more pleased with what they have to offer. Leave it to the lovely book nerds and booktubers to create awesome merch that this book junkie can't wait to get her hands on.

To date, my favorite bookish purchase from the site has to be my "Why buy anything else when you could be buying books?" shirt. I've received various compliments on it from other likeminded individuals--including the librarian at my local library and the girl who works and my local comic bookstore.

A fan of the Great Gatsby? This one
might just be the right fit for you.
In closing, let me go ahead and remind you: today is Cyber Monday! It's time to get your shop on and DFTBA Records is offering $3 shipping on all purchases made today. It's time for you to hit that up. (I know I already have.)

**Disclaimer: I am not being paid or otherwise compensated for promoting this business or any other I choose to represent on Merch Mondays. I am simply sharing the things that bring me joy in hopes they'll bring you joy as well.

Monday, November 25, 2013

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare (Mortal Instruments, #2)

"To draw something is to try to capture it forever," Jocelyn had said, sitting on the floor with a paintbrush dripping cadmium blue onto her jeans. "If you really love something, you never try to keep it the way it is forever. You have to let it be free to change."

[Click here to read my review of book 1: City of Bones]

I ordered City of Ashes almost immediately after finishing its predecessor. I really enjoyed the first book and was eager to find out what would happen in the sophomore addition to the series.

Since Clary and Jace found out that they are actually siblings, things have been tense between the two of them. Both are doing their best to deny their feelings for each other and that means they're doing their best to shy away from even the smallest contact.

Simon, on the other hand, is becoming both more bold and more withdrawn. Venturing into Clary's world means finding himself in a place where he is virtually powerless and, more often than not, a liability. But Clary's his best friend, and if he wants a part in her new life he has to find a way to fit himself inside of that, even if that means throwing himself headfirst into danger.

As things heat up between these three, as well as the rest of the Shadowhunter world, Valentine returns to New York City in order to pick up where he left off with his two children. He's not done with them and he'll do anything to draw them to his side of the battle, even that means showing them why he's not the kind of person they want as their enemy.

I really wanted to like City of Ashes. I tried to defend it against the people who had already read it and told me to stop while I was ahead. I tried to defend it against myself, saying this was just a little step back--the next chapter will be better. I just couldn't do it.

As much as the action and Cassandra Clare's lovely writing style had me hooked, I just could not bring myself to really enjoy this book. A lot of that can be attributed to Jace and Clary's I-can't-love-you-because-you're-my-sibling angst. I just cannot sympathize and the longer it goes on, the more uncomfortable it makes me feel.

Beyond that, it seems like this book really just brings the romance aspect of the Jace-Clary-Simon love triangle into focus and pushes the Shadowhunter war to the back burner, which I do not like at all. I'm all for a little romance, don't get me wrong, but making their awkward angst a priority instead of the battle is just frustrating. I want to hear more about what Valentine is planning, not listen to Jace moan about Clary avoiding him.

Even in that, I am interested in finding out what the third book has in store. There are some hints in this book that make me think there may be some resolution to a few of the problems I had, but I'm still on the fence about whether or not that means I'll read it. After all, I've been trying to teach myself not to read books I don't like just because I feel like I have to. There are too many good books I need to read.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

"Look," Luke went on. "In all the years I've known him, there's always been exactly one place Simon wanted to be, and he's always fought like hell to make sure he got there and stayed there." 
"Where's that?"
"Wherever you were," said Luke.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson & the Olympians, #3)

"In each case, your loved ones have been used to lure you into Kronos's traps. Your fatal flaw is personal loyalty, percy. You do not know when it is time to cut your losses. To save a friend, you would sacrifice the world. In a hero of the prophecy, that is very, very dangerous." 
I balled my fists. "That's not a flaw. Just because I want to help my friends-" 
"The most dangerous flaws are those which are good in moderation," she said. "Evil is easy to fight. Lack of wisdom . . . that is very hard indeed."

I swear, the further I get in this series, the more addicting it becomes.

In the third installment of the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, The Titans Curse starts off with Thalia, Annabeth, and Thalia answering yet another call for help from Grover, who has put his search for Pan on hold while the satyrs go on high alert in search of half-bloods. It turns out that Grover has found two young half-bloods of unknown parentage, but they aren't the only ones who have discovered the di Angelo siblings. A monster attacks the school and the demigods and satyr are pitted against an enemy they're not sure they can handle.

When Annabeth is taken in the battle, Percy immediately volunteers to lead the quest in search of her. He's eager to help his best friend and terrified of losing her.

There are more things going on than just Annabeth's kidnapping, though. Other demigods have been disappearing and now Artemis is involved. She sends her hunters to Camp Half-Blood, causing an uproar among the campers, who have no love to spare for the girls. When Artemis too goes missing, all Hades breaks loose.

However, when the quest commissioned, Percy is overlooked in favor of Thalia, Grover, and three of Artemis's hunters. Percy isn't usually one to break the rules, but with Annabeth's life on the line, all bets are off. It might just be up to him to break out of camp and create a quest of his own.

I am consistently impressed with authors who can track the progression of the ages of their heroes and heroines in tales like this and keep them accurate. One of the many things I keep finding myself admiring about this book series is how I can see the growth and maturity of each character continue to progress as time goes by and these heroes/heroines experience more of what their danger-riddled life has to offer. However, that's certainly not the only thing I admire about Percy Jackson & the Olympians.

Once again, Rick Riordan has offered the reader a new look at the ancient Greek myths, presenting gods and goddesses as they might have become in our day and myths that translate into wonderful stories for our favorite demigods to navigate.

In The Titan's Curse, Riordan draws the reader into another action-packed adventure filled with rich mythology, angry gods, and new obstacles at every turn. He creates a stunning world that draws you in and holds you captive even after the final page has been turned.

Not many books can give me a reading hangover (where the reader has trouble starting a new book because he/she can't get the last one off the brain), because of how much I read, but these books certainly do. If that isn't reason enough as to why you should pick up this book, I don't know what is.

Rating: ★★★★★

"Percy, as much as I want you to come home"--she sighed like she was mad at herself--"as much as I want you to be safe, I want you to understand something. You need to do whatever you think you have to do." 
I stared at her. "What do you mean?"
"I mean, do you really, deep down, believe that you have to save her? Do you think it's the right thing to do? Because I know one thing about you, Percy. Your heart is always in the right place. Listen to it."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

GNW: The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks

It appears I have become absolutely addicted to the wonderful works of Faith Erin Hicks and I am so okay with that.

The Adventures of Superhero Girl is a story about a girl who has decided to fight crime in her Canadian college town. Written in a comic strip format and originally showcased online, this graphic novel follows our heroine as she deals with day-to-day life as a superhero: fighting ninjas, kicking ass, living under the shadow of her perfect super heroic older brother, and all sorts of skeptics who are more than willing to give their opinion on how she ought to do things (whether she wants to hear them or not).

Infused with the witty humor we've come to expect and love from Hicks, The Adventures of Superhero Girl is also a lovely insight into growing up and finding your path in life, all mixed in with the greatness of fighting crime.

I'm not at all surprised that I loved this graphic novel. Not only do I adore Faith Erin Hicks's writing style and artwork, but I desperately adore superheroes (DC Comics nerd, right here). So when I heard she had created this particular comic, I was more than a little eager to get my hands on it. It didn't disappoint.

As I mentioned above, I love her humor. That, added to a realistic but whimsical look at life through the eyes of a disillusioned twenty-something, is exactly what you receive when you open up this volume. I adored everything about it and hopefully we'll see more of Superhero Girl in the future!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Monday, November 18, 2013

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman [Illustrated by Skottie Young]

"We have come to your planet from a world very far away," said the people in the disc.
I call them people, but they were a bit green and rather glob by and they looked very grumpy indeed.
"Now, as a representative of your species, we demand that you give us ownership of the whole planet. We are going to remodel it."
"I jolly well won't," I said.

I first heard about Fortunately, the Milk when I went to go see Neil Gaiman at the Majestic Theatre in Dallas. He spoke a little about the book and its preparations, then announced that he would read from it, though that wasn't something he had previously planned to do that night. He claimed the theatre was so beautiful that it merited a second reading (as he had read from The Ocean at the End of the Lane just an hour earlier).

I immediately fell in love with what little of it I had the opportunity to hear and knew I would have to set out to buy it the moment it was out for readers to get their hands on. And that was exactly what I did.

When their father goes out to get his children some milk for their cereal, the young siblings assume that he is taking his sweet time because he ran into an old friend and had forgotten the time, as he was apt to do. However, upon his return, their father his a strange tale for them. He hadn't just gotten caught up with an old friend, he had traveled through time and space, fought wumpires and kept volcanoes from erupting, all while traveling with a very clever dinosaur and doing his best to keep the milk safe. The children roll their eyes at their father's tall tale when it begins, but it isn't long before he's sucked them into the story of how he saved the world and nearly ended it, but fortunately managed to deliver the milk.

Neil Gaiman is one hell of a creator and this whimsical and adventurous children's book is no exception. He weaves his way through a masterful tale that will have you hooked from beginning to end and keep you laughing along the way.

The illustrations riddled throughout the pages add to the story in ways that cannot be described. They perfectly compliment the text and add that next level of adventure and excitement to the page that needs to be experienced visually. Skottie Young and Neil Gaiman were a perfect team up on this venture and I hope to see them work together again in the future.

All in all, this was a lovely book and I would recommend it to readers of all ages. In fact, as soon as I finished it, I immediately purchased a copy for my nieces and nephew and it will absolutely be one of those books that will be a common theme in this year's Christmas presents. I hope they make an appearance in yours as well!

I was out at the end of the plank, facing certain death, when a rope ladder hit my shoulder and deep booming voice shouted, "Quickly! Climb up the rope ladder!"

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Emilie & the Hollow World by Martha Wells

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
"You should go back to the ship," Daniel told her, his tone bearing an unfortunate resemblance to the way Emilie's brothers spoke to her. 
Seth and Cobbier and Mikel were all protesting to Charter that they should stay together and Emilie knew there wasn't time to argue. She said to Daniel, "You mistake me for someone you have the right to order around."

Emilie & the Hollow World was one of those books that I picked up randomly at the library. I was perusing the "New" section and this one's cover jumped out at me. Boy, am I glad it did.

Emilie & the Hollow World  begins when Emilie runs away from the home she lives in with her aunt and uncle, who are unkind and stifling. She plans to run away to the girls school where her cousin is and see if she can live with her. Only, when Emilie tries to stow away on the ship that will take her there, she ends up on  another ship- one that is headed into the depths of the earth.

Soon, Emilie finds herself under the care of Miss Marlende, an adventuress who has commissioned this ship and its sorcerer to help her reach the Hollow World in search of her father, who made it there a few months earlier, only to have his ship fail before they could return. Now Miss Marlende and her crew are in search of her father, but there are many dangers standing in their way. It's up to Emilie to find the courage within herself to face the many obstacles standing in their way, and maybe even save the day.

Emilie & the Hollow World is essentially Treasure Island with a female protagonist and a little steampunk science fiction thrown in for good measure. How could I not adore it? Emilie is a fun and smart heroine who finds herself thrust into a situation she could never have imagine and yet doesn't think twice about stepping up to the plate. She's the perfect heroine for young girls who love adventure and are tired of not getting to see women take part in the action. (And she's not the only woman who doesn't shy away from danger and capable of handling it, she's just the youngest of them.)

If you're looking for a fun adventure novel with a twist of fantasy, this is definitely the book for you. I was thrilled to get my hands on it and I'm sure you will be too!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Kenar broke it off, shook his head, and smiled down at her, though the smile was a little wry. "When you get back to your own world, will you really be content to sit meekly in a school after this?"
Miss Marlende, engrossed with her spyglass again, snorted. "Whatever she does, I doubt she'll do it meekly." 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

GNW: Zombies Calling by Faith Erin Hicks

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Joss has two obsessions: England and zombies. She wears her Union flag shirt nearly every day, uses British slang, and has wallpapered her room with the Union flag as well. As for zombies, she watches zombie movies like they will save her life--and it this case, they just might.

Because of her obsession, when Joss goes out for snacks and ends up being ambushed by zombies, her friends don't believe her harrowing tale of escape. They think she is making it up or cracking under the pressure of her student loans. It isn't until each of them in turn are attacked that they turn to her in hopes of finding out just how to survive this seeming zombie apocalypse.

Joss is ready, though. Her years of avidly watching zombie movies have left her with "The Rules," a list compiled of all the zombie movie tropes (ie. the heroine goes from being meek to badass in the face of danger, you die if you have sex, someone sacrifices his or her self to save the others, etc.) If they stick to the rules, she promises, they will survive.

I had the lovely opportunity to attend Teen Book Con in Austin, Texas earlier this year. Faith Erin Hicks happened to be there and I sat in on the panel (see my coverage of that panel here). During that panel, when asked about where she draws inspiration, Hicks referred to Zombies Calling, telling us that she had always wondered why people in zombie movies never seemed to have heard of zombies or seen a zombie move. She used that question and made it into a graphic novel, toying with what would happen if her heroine had seen plenty of zombie movies and how that would affect her reaction to a sort of zombie apocalypse scenario.

It's a short graphic novel and was over almost as soon as it started, but I really enjoyed it. I'm a big fan of Faith Erin Hick's artistic style and couldn't help falling in love with this story right along with it. It's a fun explorative tale about three college students battling zombies. What's not to like?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Monday, November 11, 2013

Gustav Gloom and the Nightmare Vault by Adam-Troy Castro (Gustav Gloom, #2) [Illustrated by Kristen Margiotta]

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"Who am I?" he roared, in tones so fearsome Fernie wondered why he'd ever bothered to use a gong. "You come into my house, scare my friends, chase away my family, and dare ask who I am? You could not possibly be so stupid!
My name's Gustav Gloom. Grandson of Lemuel Gloom, son of Hans, almost the son of Penelope, protector of this house and of my friends. If you're looking for anything inside these walls, you need to negotiate with ME."

[Click here to see my review of book 1: Gustav Gloom and the People Taker]

After reading the first book in this lovely gothic children's series, I had to get my hands on the sequels. I searched the bookstore in Paris where I'd bought the first one: nothing. I searched through each of the bookstores I normally frequent and still couldn't find anything. That's the wonderful thing about online shopping, though. You can almost always find what you need. I found this book and it's sequel on the Book Depository and ordered them as soon as possible.

The second book of the Gustav Gloom series begins just a few weeks after Fernie What's narrow escape from the clutches of the People Taker. Her family has been spending a great deal of time with Gustav, bringing over new foods he's never tried and generally giving him the pleasure of their human company. It's at one of these little picnics in the front of his yard that Fernie first spots the ice cream man.

After Aunt Mellifluous warns her against the ice cream man, Fernie grows suspicious, but it isn't until the man shows up in her house while her father's away that she and her sister, Pearlie, realize what danger they're in. It turns out, the ice cream man is a shadow eater named October who is searching for something called the Nightmare Vault. The trouble is, no one but he happens to know anything about this Nightmare Vault.

It's up to Fernie and Gustav to find out where the Nightmare Vault is and find it before October can. It's  the only way to stop him from destroying everyone either of them care about. But as the search becomes more frantic, the two children discover that the Nightmare Vault is more dangerous than they could have anticipated and that it very well might be the reason Gustav's parents are no longer with him.

I cannot get over how much I am loving this dark children's series. It's everything I hoped it would be: exciting, fun, scary, and filled to the brim with imaginative adventures and the kind of bravery that comes when someone you love is in terrible danger.

Once again, we get to run along with Gustav and Fernie through the Gloom mansion, discovering new rooms, strange creatures, and even a house inside the house. I especially enjoyed getting to learn quite  bit more about Gustav Gloom and how he came to be the only human living in a house filled with shadows.

I can't wait to read more of this lovely series and hope it continues for many books to come. I'll absolutely follow it until its end. You should do the same.

Rating: ★★★★★

She pounded on the door, screaming, "Gustav! I'm in trouble here!" 
"Yes," October said. "You are."
The black tendrils were now fewer than three feet from Fernie, and she couldn't have run in another direction even if she'd wanted to; they'd formed a cage around the two front steps to the Gloom house and blocked every other possible direction. 
"You should have cooperated," October said as the tendrils closed in. 
Fernie pounded on the door. "Please, please, please! Somebody let me in! I'm a friend of this house!"
The doors opened.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Vivian Versus the Apocalypse by Katie Coyle

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"Hey, man," says Peter after a moment. "I know I'm just going by what I'm seeing here, but what you're describing is a Viv I don't know yet. The Viv I know- and again, not an expert, because I only officially met her within the last five minutes- is a sledgehammer-wielding badass. She's the only person I've met in the last two months who's said, 'I don't know what's going on here; let's find out.' You know it's a lot easier not to try, right? It's a lot easier to just curl up in a ball and let the world end."

I ordered Vivian Versus the Apocalypse after hearing the fabulous reviews by people like Sanne who reviewed it and couldn't stop raving about just how wonderful the book was. (Here's a link to her Youtube review: Vivian Versus the Apocalypse by Katie Coyle.) Of course, I had to get my hands on it and, once I did, it quickly moved to the front of my "to be read" list.

In Katie Coyle's debut novel, we are introduced to a society where many believe the end of the world is rapidly approaching. The members of the Church of America, followers of the Book of Frick, have been told a set date that they will be raptured and that, just a few short months later, the world will come to an end. Vivian Apple never believed any of this was even remotely possible. She thought her parents were insane for believing it could possibly be true. But then the day of the Rapture comes and there are two holes in the ceiling above her parents' bedroom. They're gone.

Suddenly thrust into a world that is spiraling into chaos, Vivian is lost and deeply confused. Hundreds of people have gone missing, including the parents of her best friend and countless other members of her neighborhood. Vivian still thinks all of this is fishy, though. Faced with a world that seems on the brink of collapse, Vivian sets out in search of answers.

Flanked by Harp and a new friend named Peter, she sets out across country to California, where she believes she might find the family she so recently lost. It's only a hunch, but she has nothing to lose. After all, if she's wrong about the apocalypse, she'll die in a few months anyway. Together the three teenagers set off on a road trip that very well might claim their lives.

As mentioned before, I heard a great deal about this book before I managed to get my hands on it. Let me tell you right now: it is absolutely worth the hype.

In Vivian Versus the Apocalypse, Katie Coyle sets up this amazing novel about finding yourself and believing yourself while setting it up in this near-dystopian America that is slowly killing itself. It's a story about friendship and beating the odds, while still managing to be a social commentary on the dangers of the kind of fanaticism that makes you forget that the people around you are just as worthy of life as yourself. And though the author set it up to be open to a sequel, I honestly am not sure whether I want one, because I'm not sure it can surpass the first.

There's so much about this book that I loved that I hardly know where to start. I don't often come across books that I want to reread as soon as I finish, but this one would definitely count as one of those. I cannot praise it enough.

If you haven't read Vivian Versus the Apocalypse yet, you need to find it and dive in as soon as possible. Kudos to you, Katie Coyle, for creating such a stunning first novel. I hope I get the chance to read plenty more from you in the future.

Rating: ~★★★★★ ~

"The way we live our lives is not sustainable. I don't just mean recycling and turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth. I mean the way we treat each other. The way we pick and choose whose lives are important, who we actually treat as human. There is nobody on this Earth whose life is not of value."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

GNW: Batman & Robin: White Knight vs. Dark Knight

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Being Batman has never been easy. Neither has being a member of his team. After the launch of Batman Inc., Dick Grayson has taken over the role of Gotham's Dark Knight while Bruce works in stopping overseas threats. At Dick's side is Damian Wayne, Bruce's only biological son and the newest Boy Wonder.

Though Bruce isn't the same Batman anymore, Gotham hasn't changed much at all. There's still plenty to keep the Dynamic Duo busy. Psychopaths have never been in short supply in their line of work and this line-up is enough to throw the two for a loop. Whether it's Bruce's not-so-stable ex, the White Knight who wants to cleanse Gotham of the bloodlines of Arkham inmates, or even Jason Todd, former ward to Bruce Wayne and the second person to carry the title of Robin.

Though Damian and Dick have worked together for a while now, they still have plenty to learn, both about each other and themselves. They may not have the same senses of humor or even be brothers by blood, but they're family and that has to be enough.

Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne as the Dynamic Duo was a genius stroke on the move of the writers after the "death" of Bruce Wayne. They're a fun combination all around. I mean, how can you not fall in love with a surly Robin and almost playful Batman? Though he was Bruce's first ward, Dick Grayson is far from being the same person his surrogate father is and it shows- whether that's in his one-liners or his fighting style. He's still the badass we've come to associate with Batman, still giving the right tribute to the name, while adding his own little twist to the role itself.

As for Damian, he's one of those little buggers that you love to hate when you're first introduced to him.  He's rough around the edges and it takes a great deal of restraint for the kid to keep from killing his enemies. After all, he was raised by the League of Assassins. However, the longer you're exposed to him, the more you get to see that he's actually a good kid. He's just an eleven year-old with a traumatizing past and a debilitating sense of humor. Working with Dick Grayson does him well. The two even each other out and he trusts his surrogate brother in a way he doesn't trust anyone else. When he's struggling against the war within him, Dick always trusts him and is there to help steer him in the right direction when he needs it.

All in all, the point is, this was a lovely graphic novel and I really enjoyed getting to read it. It's full of all the typical adventures of Batman & Robin, but with the style and grace that I've come to adore with these writers.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Merch Monday: The Book Depository

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^ Click here to go check out the site!
I figured that, in today's Merch Monday, I should explain my affiliation with The Book Depository. I'm sure y'all have noticed the links in the sidebar as well as the newly added "Buy it" icons on each post (which would have started showing up ages ago if I had figured out how to work them a little sooner).

The Book Depository, as you may have guessed, is an online bookseller. They carry all sorts of books at highly reasonable prices, and the best part is: they have free shipping worldwide. I don't know about you, but I love ordering my books online and that offer is too good to pass up.

While Amazon is a good site for getting multiple books (Thank God for Free Super Shipper Saving), The Book Depository is the absolute best place to go if you're just looking for a single title or two. Free shipping and those low prices are just too good to pass up!

I found out about the Book Depository via some of the awesome Booktubers (Youtubers whose focus is mainly on the reviewing and promoting of books) I follow. Most of them are also affiliates and, when I realized I could become an affiliate by adding some awesome links on this blog, I jumped in headfirst. Why not get the chance to earn a little commission by promoting the things I love?

So go check out, because you won't regret it (though your wallet might, if you're anything like me) and find that book you can curl up while sipping on some coffee. Winter's coming and you'll need all the reading material you can get your hands on. And click on one of those lovely links to take you there, because each purchase you make gives me a bit of commission . . . and we all know I already spent most of my paycheck on books anyway.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Introducing Mitchell

 Apparently, I'm the newest addition to Novel Attraction. My name is Mitchell Barker. I'm Kirsten's brother. 

Kirsten messaged me about three months ago asking if I would like to write blog posts on here once a month, and I, of course, said "Why not?" So it goes. Though I know you haven't been expecting me, I still apologize for the delay (if to no one else, then at least to my sister). Part of the reason it took me so long to start was that I have been unsure of what to write, but that can only account for about a week of my tardiness. Mostly, I have just been lazy, but now I'm here and I'm determined to spout my ideas to you at least once a month. 
My job on Novel Attraction is to write reviews of books and the movies created from them. I want to give a fair review of each by themselves, then give my opinion of how good the adaptation is. Hopefully, this will be helpful and entertaining. 

Another idea was for me to write my reviews of books that some deem "chick-lit". My sister thought it would be interesting for a guy to give his unbiased review of books that publishers aim to sell to women. Many people put down reading such books just because they are about something as feminine as romance (heavy sarcasm there). Sometimes they are disregarded just because they're written by a woman. I have enjoyed many a book from this pseudo-genre and wouldn't mind sharing my reviews of them. 

From now on, I will be alternating between the two topics: one month I will write about a book-to-movie adaptation and the next month I would write about a "chick-lit" novel. 

Let us know what you think and if you have any other ideas. I'm looking forward to writing some reviews on my sister's lovely site and I hope you continue to read her reviews after trudging through mine each month. 

So there y'all have it: Mitchell, my baby brother, will be writing on the blog once a month. These posts will go up on the last Friday of each month and will alternate between movie adaptations and "chick-lit" reviews.

I can't help but comment on the fact that I am especially excited about working with Mitchell on the "chick-lit" articles. We discussed it in length while trying to figure out what he would want to write on this blog and it was almost scrapped. After all, he pointed out, wouldn't that be drawing attention to the fact that people still think there is such a thing as "chick-lit?" 

However, sometimes we need to draw awareness to this sort of thing. The fact that men and women dismiss literary masterpieces like Jane Austen or the Brontë sisters based on the fact that they have strong romantic themes and are written by women is revolting. It's yet another sad sign of the outdated gender stereotypes that plague our society and keep us hiding behind our ignorance.

That's a post for another day, I suppose. The point is that I'm deeply excited that my wonderful brother is joining me in writing about the books we both cherish. It promises to be a fun and slightly chaotic journey.

Welcome to Novel Attraction, Mitchell!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

GNW: A Bride's Story, Vol. 1 by Kaoru Mori

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When Amir Halgal goes to live with her new groom and his family, she expects it to be difficult. After all, they are both from different cultures and her new husband is eight years younger than she. Amir is considered old for a bride and strange in more ways than one, but her new family is a kind one, as is her young husband.

Though they are different, they are determined to be a family now and Amir is loyal and loving to her core. Sometimes being different isn't all that bad. Perhaps Amir can teach her family a new thing or two and they can teach her about her new home and how to fulfill her position in it as well.

This isn't the first manga I've read, but it is certainly the most intricate when it comes to the artwork. The clothing and the tapestries, even the wood carvings are drawn to the finest detail. It's more than eye-catching, it's wholly captivating. I can't even imagine how long each frame must have taken the artist, much less how long the book itself took.

As for the story itself, I really enjoyed it. I haven't read much about the Silk Road, but I know enough to appreciate how well researched every part of this manga series has been and will no doubt continue to be. It's an interesting world to read about, much less get the chance to see into the way this manga allows the reader to do.

Amir is everything I hoped for in a heroine at that time. Yes, she's a lady and she knows her place, but she was also raised in a nomadic family where the women hunted and did their part as well. Her budding feelings for her husband are sweet and would be sweeter if there wasn't that uncomfortable knowledge that he's a child, but then that was how life was back then. It was a part of the culture and something you have to deal with when it comes to the story. She starts out with almost a sisterly role and, if the author lets enough time go by, it will be less uncomfortable as they grow older.

All in all, it's definitely an interesting manga and one I will definitely be reading more of in the near future.

Monday, October 28, 2013

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

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She said that I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and even more intelligent than college professors. She encouraged me to listen carefully to what country people called mother wit. That in those homely sayings was couched the collective wisdom of generations.

I picked up I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings off of one of the "Summer Reading" tables at Barnes & Noble. It had a gorgeous cover and I recognized the name Maya Angelou from about a thousand different sources. I figured it was about time that I read something of hers that wasn't just a single poem I happened upon once in a library. Besides, I usually comb the "Summer Reading" tables at bookstores because I know I missed out on a lot of Teen Read classics that most kids read in their high school English classes and I try to make sure that I get the chance to check out as many of those as I can.

I wasn't aware until I was a good few chapters in that the book was autobiographical, but that merely added to the intrigue. I'm always hearing people say that real life is stranger than fiction and, looking at my soap opera of a life, I'm rarely surprised by it. However Maya Angelou has quite the story to tell and it's one that would seem quite insane and too crazy to be true, only it really did happen.

Maya Angelou grew up in the South at a time when slavery was a thing of the past, but racism was booming. She lived in a time where it was common for white men to kill black men for looking at their women and where a white woman could "rename" her maids because she felt like it and they had no say because they were black and lower class.

But Maya grew up in a time of change and, though she lived through more hardships than many might be able to stand, she stood. She pushed through everything that blocked her way and came out the stronger for it. Her story is a hard one, but it's a tale of triumph and never backing down in the face of fear.

I really enjoyed this book. There's just something about getting to hear about a person's life by looking through their eyes that really gets to me. This is especially true in the case of Maya Angelou. Getting to peer into her life through her eyes and see how she triumphed over evils that are much greater than the ones I am currently battling reminds me that there's always hope and there is always beauty to be found from the ashes.

The author is known for her stunning poetry and her prose is no less impressive. I cannot tell you how many times I had to go back and reread sentences and paragraphs just to inhale the beauty of her words a little more deeply. The ability to create such intense beauty in the span of a few sentences is a talent that will always impress me (as well as make me deeply jealous).

If you're looking for a good read, this is definitely a book to consider. It's worth your time, if only to remind you that, though life can be far darker than we ever hoped, there is always something beautiful just around the horizon if we choose to fight for it.

"Your grandmother says you read a lot. Every chance you get. That's good, but not good enough. Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with the shades of deeper meaning."

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Dragon Heir by Cinda Williams Chima (The Heir Chronicles, #3)

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"Because I know what it's like to want to prove yourself so badly it destroys everything else that matters," Hastings replied, gazing into the fire. "Sometimes it's just an excuse to avoid dealing with your own demons."

[Click here to see my review of book 1: The Warrior Heir and book 2: The Wizard Heir]

After reading the first two books out of order, I was definitely excited when I got to The Dragon Heir. Now that I had the full backstory, I could proceed to read the third book, which was originally intended to be the final in a trilogy that has now expanded into a full-blown series. I knew that after the way the first two books blew me out of the water, the third would have to at least be up to par with its predecessors. I hoped it would be even better.

As the Roses and White Roses gather their forces after the uprising at the Seven Sisters, the Weir all over the world are becoming uneasy. Nowhere is it more obvious than in Trinity, the safe haven for all AnaWizard Weir.

Seph McCauley maintains the boundary around the town as only a wizard with his strength and ability can. Jack and Ellen work together to train their ghost warriors, preparing for the attack that they know is bound to come at any moment.

Meanwhile, Jason and Madison are each having their own personal crises. Jason, who has never been a particularly skilled wizard, feels useless and wants to prove himself to the Weir. He has been working with Leander Hastings, but chafes under his leadership. His drive to prove himself and set right the wrongs that have befallen himself and the people he cares about may be rooted in good intentions, but his headstrong nature is more than likely to get him in deeper water than he can get himself out of.

Madison, on the other hand, has learned that she is an elicitor, but isn't entirely sure what that means for her. While her gift managed to save Seph at the Seven Sisters, it seems that the dark magic she absorbed has begun to start leaking out. When she gets a call from her mother claiming that the state will take away Madison's younger siblings if she doesn't come back and help care for them, Madison jumps at the chance to leave Trinity and put as much distance between herself and Seph, whom the dark magic is deeply affecting. But outside the sanctuary, her friends can't protect her. Even though she's not Weir, she has become a part of the war that sits on the horizon and danger follows close behind her.

Once again, Cinda Williams Chima has produced a book filled with stunning characters and magic that is fully original, both exceedingly believable. In this book, we get to see a little more from the perspective of Madison and Jason, which I really enjoyed. Madison easily became a favorite when she was introduced in the second book and I really loved getting to see her character develop throughout the story. It's fantastic to see a character with such an interesting gift and learn what drives her and motivates her; what she would die to protect and who she would sacrifice everything to keep safe.

I could go on about each of the characters in similar fashion, but I'll try to keep this post short. The point is that the book is filled with strong bonds of friendship and sacrifice. The magic is thrilling and interesting throughout, but it's really the humanity of each of our teenage protagonists that drives the story and keeps the reader hooked from the start.

The third in the series, The Dragon Heir would have been a wonderful end to the trilogy, but it would have left the reader aching for more. Because of this, I am thrilled to learn that there will be a fourth and fifth book in the series. In fact, The Enchanter Heir was just released a few months ago. As you can imagine, I'm dying to get my hands on it.

Rating: ★★★★★

It's a peculiarity of man- this lining up and marching toward death. The only other creatures who don't flee a killing field are the scavengers who come after the fact.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

GNW: Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol

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 When Anya Borzakovskaya falls down a well, she learns she isn't the first one to fall down it. However, the last person to make this grievous mistake didn't fair so well. It's Emily Reilly's skeleton she finds at the bottom of the abandoned well and it's Emily's ghost who materializes just as Anya starts to lose her cool.

When Anya escapes, she accidentally takes a piece of the skeleton with her, Emily's little finger and Emily's ghost with it. Though initially annoyed by her presence, Anya starts to realize that there are perks to having a ghost for a friend. But when Emily becomes a little too clingy, Anya realizes that Emily hasn't been entirely honest about how she came to be at the bottom of that well. Anya quickly realizes that if she doesn't do something quick, Emily could wreak far more havoc than she could ever have imagined.

In her debut novel, Vera Brosgol has created quite a lovely and dark graphic novel about a girl and her ghost that kept me riveted from beginning to end. Anya is a strong-willed, fairly rebellious teenager who just wants to be normal and cool, but can't seem to quite grasp either one. She struggles with her self-esteem and figuring out how to do what's right, even when it means putting her social ranking on the back burner. I really loved reading about her and her adventure.

The story itself was interesting and stayed that way from beginning to end. It reminded me quite a bit of Hope Larson's Mercury, but better. The mystery was much more rounded out and the escalating danger ended up being more and more suspenseful. It was well done all around.

The artwork was absolutely beautiful. I love everything about it. Each of the characters looks entirely different, yet beautiful in their own way. And don't even get me started on how well the panels were planned out, especially the one in the example above, when Emily reveals herself.

This graphic novel was definitely quite a good read and it's perfect for Halloween. I suggest getting your hands on a copy as soon as you can.

Rating: ★★★★★

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

New Novel Attraction Facebook Page

Hey everyone!

Sorry about the lack of updating yesterday. I started coming down with something yesterday and passed out almost immediately after work.

However, I did want to go ahead and update today to let y'all know I've just made a Facebook page for Novel Attraction. In following the page, you'll be able to keep up with each new review, as well as updates on anything pertaining to this blog or books that I feel are worth sharing. It'll be super handy for notifying you of delayed or cancelled posts (like yesterday), as well as informing you of cool book events or deals you might have missed otherwise.

Here is the link to the Novel Attraction Facebook Page. I hope you decide to check it out!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Purity by Jackson Pearce

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Maybe no one can understand what this feels like but me. I touch my neck, the spot where the cross charm hangs on Mom's neck. No one can understand because . . . they really don't know any better than I do. No matter what they think, how sure they are they've got everything figured out, they're as in the dark as I am.

I chose to read Purity when I realized it was the only one of Jackson Pearce's books that I hadn't yet dug into. As a pretty huge fan of her Fairytale Retellings series (of which, book 4 is on the way!), I knew I needed to get my hands on this one and ordered it straight off the Book Depository once I found it.

Shelby lost her mother when she was a child. Cancer stole her away and left Shelby with her father, a man who loved she and her mother very much, but wasn't exactly prepared to raise a daughter all on his own. Perhaps this was the reason her mother made Shelby vow to keep the three rules. After all, one of them was to obey her father. Whatever her motivation behind the promises, Shelby agreed to them and has been doing her absolute best to obey each of them, no matter what the cost.

Though she obeys her father's every rule, Shelby feels like she hardly knows her father. Perhaps he feels the same way, because soon finds himself running the Princess Ball, a dance held by the local church where, at the end, each daughter pledges herself to a life of purity. Shelby knows that if she makes the pledge, she has to keep it- unless she can find a loophole.

It isn't long before Shelby finds her loophole: if she has sex before the night of the Princess Ball, her vow will be void. She will no longer be pure and therefore cannot live a life of purity. As the Ball approaches, Shelby has to juggle her time between helping her father put the Ball together and finding a suitable guy who is willing to help her break the vow before she takes it.

I'll admit, I was not immediately captivated by this book. It took me a few chapters to get into it, and even then it was a thin line for me between putting it down and dragging my feet through the rest of the narrative. I am happy to report, however, that I did eventually get into it and honestly enjoyed it through to the end.

Shelby is an interesting character and, while I had trouble with the plausibility of her adhering so closely to the promises, I really did like the way the story went. I loved seeing the way her mind worked and how she dealt with all the chaos that was cluttering her life. I especially loved that she didn't only concern herself with the struggles that were in her immediate future. She worried about all kinds of things and we even got to watch her struggle with the concept of faith and religion, which made her that much more accessible as a protagonist and even more believable as a person.

Though the story wasn't all I hope it to be, that may just be because I was hoping for something fully on par with her fantasy novels. However, Jackson Pearce still manages to prove that she is a wonderful and fascinating author through and through. I cannot wait to continue reading as many books as she is willing to put out.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

I remember understanding what love really was. It didn't hurt; it didn't ignore your prayers, didn't seem not to care that your mom was dying. It didn't leave you wondering what you did wrong. Love tried to make you happy, even if it was useless. Love would do anything to make you happy.