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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday: Macmillan Summer 2014 Catalog

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking The Spine in which upcoming, eagerly anticipated releases are highlighted on the blog.

This week, I've chosen to feature a few picks from the Macmillan Summer 2014 Catalog:

Ruin and RIsing by Leigh Bardugo
Date: June 17, 2014
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The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.
Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.
Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.
Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

OMGOMGOMG - I NEED Ruin and Rising in my life and I can't believe I have to wait - very impatiently - for two whole more months to get it. Alina, Mal, the Darkling, STURMHOND (!) - can't wait to see them all again!!

Unwept by Tracy Hickman
Date: July 1, 2014
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Gamin, Maine, is a remote seaside town where everyone seems to know Ellis Harkington better than she knows herself—but she doesn’t remember any of them.
Unknown events have robbed Ellis of her memory. Concerned individuals, who purport to be her friends and loved ones, insist that she simply needs to recuperate, that her memories may return in time, but refuse to divulge what has brought her to this state. For her own sake, so they say.
Ellis finds herself adrift in a town of ominous mysteries, cryptic hints, and disturbingly familiar strangers. The Nightbirds, a clique of fashionable young men and women, claim her as one of their own, but who among them can she truly trust? And what of the phantom suitor who visits her in her dreams? Is he a memory, a figment of her imagination, or a living nightmare beyond rational explanation?
Only her lost past hold the answers she seeks—if she can uncover its secrets before she fall prey to an unearthly killer.

Not really sure what to make of this blurb for Unwept, but all I can say is that I am intrigued. How can I not be when there is mention of "ominous mysteries, cryptic hints, and disturbingly familiar strangers"? I can't help it - I'm curious!

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
Date: July 15, 2014
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In this timeless new trilogy about love and sacrifice, a princess must find her place in a reborn world.
In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.
On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assasin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.

It's possible that The Kiss of Deception might be a bit too heavy on the romance for my tastes, but I just can't help but be drawn to high fantasies with court drama. I'm especially keen on this one because I've heard amazing things about Mary E. Pearson's other books!

Extraction by Stephanie Diaz
Date: July 22, 2014
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Clementine has spent her whole life preparing for her sixteenth birthday, when she’ll be tested for Extraction in the hopes of being sent from the planet Kiel’s toxic Surface to the much safer Core, where people live without fear or starvation. When she proves Promising enough to be “Extracted,” she must leave without Logan, the boy she loves. Torn apart from her only sense of family, Clem promises to come back and save him from brutal Surface life.
What she finds initially in the Core is a utopia compared to the Surface—it’s free of hard labor, gun-wielding officials, and the moon's lethal acid. But life is anything but safe, and Clementine learns that the planet's leaders are planning to exterminate Surface dwellers—and that means Logan, too.
Trapped by the steel walls of the underground and the lies that keep her safe, Clementine must find a way to escape and rescue Logan and the rest of the planet. But the planet leaders don't want her running—they want her subdued.

Extraction has a great premise, one that I can see myself becoming engrossed in if the story delivers and is as action-packed as the blurb promises. There is great potential here and I hope Extraction lives up to it!

How about you? Are you waiting on any of these Macmillan Summer 2014 reads? Are there any upcoming books from the Macmillan Summer 2014 Catalog that I didn't include here that you feel I should add to my list?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Review: City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments #5) by Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Published: May 8, 2012
Pages: 535
Source: Bought
Rating: 3.5 Stars

What price is too high to pay, even for love? When Jace and Clary meet again, Clary is horrified to discover that the demon Lilith’s magic has bound her beloved Jace together with her evil brother Sebastian, and that Jace has become a servant of evil. The Clave is out to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. As Alec, Magnus, Simon, and Isabelle wheedle and bargain with Seelies, demons, and the merciless Iron Sisters to try to save Jace, Clary plays a dangerous game of her own. The price of losing is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost?

In short: Though I am no longer as enamoured with this series as I once was, Cassandra Clare does a good job of getting me amped up for the conclusion of The Mortal Instruments in City of Lost Souls.
It saddens me that this series that I once loved has become a bit of a chore to read. I really enjoyed the original Mortal Instruments Trilogy and I thought City of Glass was a great and epic finale. My thoughts upon the announcement of the expansion of the trilogy to a further three books were conflicted: I do love these characters that Cassandra Clare has created and I was excited to see more from them, but I was also satisfied with the original ending as it stood and wasn't convinced the plot could be dragged out further in any particularly interesting way.

Upon reading the first two books of The Mortal Instruments v2.0, City of Fallen Angels and City of Lost Souls, my thoughts remain similarly conflicted. I do still love spending time with these beloved characters, but it has taken me a while to become truly invested in this whole new story line. The beginning of City of Lost Souls dragged for me and I was worried that I wasn't ever going to find that gripping spark that The Mortal Instruments once had. Thankfully, the story does hit its stride eventually and ramps up to a thrilling final sequence, but I wish my excitement had been incited sooner.

I guess my main concern is that The Mortal Instruments v2.0 and specifically the final book, City of Heavenly Fire, will fail to live up to high standard set by the epic conclusion of the original trilogy. How disappointing would that be if the series ended with a less than stellar finale? It would be anticlimactic. That said, I do still have faith that Cassandra Clare will pull out all the stops for City of Heavenly Fire. She has yet to disappoint me with a finale and I liked the direction she went with the ending of City of Lost Souls, so I haven't lost hope on the series yet!

Previously, my review of City of Fallen Angels.

Other Reviews:
Avery's Book Nook
Burning Impossibly Bright
Mundie Moms

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Top Ten Bookish Items That Are THE SHIZ

LOVE the topic of this week’s Top Ten Tuesday because in addition to loving books, I also love ALL THE BOOKISH THINGS. My bank account, on the other hand, most certainly does NOT. I frequently have to restrain myself while perusing Etsy… that site is dangerous! In fact, this list could have easily devolved into the Top Fifty Harry Potter Trinkets That You Can Buy On Etsy, but I decided to limit that urge as much as possible. So half of these items are Potter-centric and the other half are general bookish items. Purchase links included when available. Enjoy!

Potter-Centric Items:

1. Make Love Not Horcruxes Totebag
This cute tote is brought to you by RaeGun's Etsy shop! Marissa sells a variety of fun bookish items, both Potter-centric and non. She's on maternity leave at the moment, but you should definitely check out her stuff! [Link]

2. Marauder's Map Infinity Scarf
Behold! This nerdy accessory comes from Nerd Alert Creations on Etsy. Of course I own it already, in addition to a Middle Earth Map Skirt. [Link]

3. Homemade Knit Hogwarts House Scarf
Don't have a friend to knit you a House Scarf like I did? You can get your own from CrabTree Corner on Etsy. [Link]

4. Alivan’s Makers of Fine Wands
Alivan's has been in the business of making beautiful wands for a long while now. You can also buy broomsticks and other Potterish stuff on their site! [Link]

5. Mischief Managed Mug
This mug from the WB Shop changes colour and text as it is filled with the hot beverage of your choice! Alas, it is sold out at the moment. [Link]

General Bookish Items:

6. Less Than Three Bookends
Because I heart books! [Link]

7. Bookish Shower Curtain
Because why not? [Link]

8. Bookish Sheets
Because I love to read in bed. [Link]

9. Bookish Bed
Because I like giant beds... in the shape of books! [Link]

10. Infinity Bookcase
Because an Infinity Bookcase can hold an infinite number of books, right? [Link]

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday: Hachette Summer 2014 Catalog

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking The Spine in which upcoming, eagerly anticipated releases are highlighted on the blog.

This week, I've chosen to feature a few picks from the Hachette Summer 2014 Catalog:

Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne
Date: July 8, 2014
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Growing up on Forge’s streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. And when that’s not enough, her uncanny ability to scale walls and bypass guards helps her take what she needs.
But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates. She knows how to get by on her own, and she’s not sure she wants to play by his rules. But he’s persistent—and darkly attractive—and Kyra can’t quite resist his pull.
Tristam of Brancel is a young Palace knight on a mission. After his best friend is brutally murdered by Demon Riders, a clan of vicious warriors who ride bloodthirsty wildcats, Tristam vows to take them down. But as his investigation deepens, he finds his efforts thwarted by a talented thief, one who sneaks past Palace defenses with uncanny ease.
When a fateful raid throws Kyra and Tristam together, the two enemies realize that their best chance at survival—and vengeance—might be to join forces. And as their loyalties are tested to the breaking point, they learn a startling secret about Kyra’s past that threatens to reshape both their lives.

It feels like I ain't never going to get tired of high fantasy novels involving assassins - they're always good! Plus, how can I resist the hate-turned-love dynamic? Midnight Thief sounds GREAT and I seriously cannot wait to read it!

Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Date: July 15, 2014
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When the MK virus swept across the planet, a vaccine was created to stop the epidemic, but it came with some unexpected side effects. A small percentage of the population developed superhero-like powers. Seventeen-year-old Ciere Giba has the handy ability to change her appearance at will. She's what's known as an illusionist...She's also a thief.
After a robbery goes awry, Ciere must team up with a group of fellow super-powered criminals on another job that most would consider too reckless. The formula for the vaccine that gave them their abilities was supposedly destroyed years ago. But what if it wasn't?
The lines between good and bad, us and them, and freedom and entrapment are blurred as Ciere and the rest of her crew become embroiled in a deadly race against the government that could cost them their lives.

Books involving superhero-like powers is another sub-genre that I can't seem to get enough of. They're so fun! And Illusive isn't your typical superhero book, because these characters are actually criminals with superpowers! Fun, no?

The Young World by Chris Weitz
Date: July 29, 2014
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After a mysterious Sickness wipes out the rest of the population, the young survivors assemble into tightly run tribes. Jefferson, the reluctant leader of the Washington Square tribe, and Donna, the girl he's secretly in love with, have carved out a precarious existence among the chaos. But when another tribe member discovers a clue that may hold the cure to the Sickness, five teens set out on a life-altering road trip to save humankind.

The tribe exchanges gunfire with enemy gangs, escapes cults and militias, braves the wilds of the subway and Central Park...and discovers truths they could never have imagined.

Yet another post-apocalyptic read... but I must admit that The Young World caught my attention because it is written by Chris Weitz, the director of New Moon and The Golden Compass. Not that I am a fan of those movies in particular or anything, but I am curious to see what he can do as a writer.

Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray
Date: August 5, 2014
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After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O'Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. Now that the world knows of her ability to "read" objects, and therefore, read the past, she has become a media darling, earning the title, "America's Sweetheart Seer." But not everyone is so accepting of the Diviners' abilities...

Meanwhile, mysterious deaths have been turning up in the city, victims of an unknown sleeping sickness. Can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld and catch a killer?

So I haven't actually read The Diviners yet, but I'm well aware how well received it was and how much people seem to enjoy Libba Bray's books in general, of which I have read none. I have a feeling I would really like The Diviners so I would like to get to it sometime, hopefully before its sequel, Lair of Dreams, comes out. Side note: I really wish they hadn't changed the covers of this series because I freaking LOVED the original cover of The Diviners.

How about you? Are you waiting on any of these Hachette Summer 2014 reads? Are there any upcoming books from the Hachette Summer 2014 Catalog that I didn't include here that you feel I should add to my list?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Review: Sunrise (Ashfall #3) by Mike Mullin

Publisher: Tanglewood Press
Published: April 15, 2014
Pages: 466
Source: For Review from Tanglewood Press/NetGalley
Rating: 4 Stars

The Yellowstone supervolcano nearly wiped out the human race. Now, almost a year after the eruption, the survivors seem determined to finish the job. Communities wage war on each other, gangs of cannibals roam the countryside, and what little government survived the eruption has collapsed completely. The ham radio has gone silent. Sickness, cold, and starvation are the survivors' constant companions.
When it becomes apparent that their home is no longer safe and adults are not facing the stark realities, Alex and Darla must create a community that can survive the ongoing disaster, an almost impossible task requiring even more guts and more smarts than ever — and unthinkable sacrifice. If they fail . . . they, their loved ones, and the few remaining survivors will perish.

This review is spoiler-free

In short: Sunrise by Mike Mullin is a truly satisfying finale to a riveting series.
It's rare that I get to read a post-apocalyptic novel set after the storm has settled. Most post-apocalyptic reads take place during the height of the apocalypse or shortly thereafter when alarm is high and people are panicking. In this finale to the soberingly realistic Ashfall Trilogy, Sunrise, Alex and Darla and co. are finally faced with the prospect of a future together. Whereas Ashfall and Ashen Winter were about surviving and making it through to the next day, in Sunrise the plot revolves around not simply surviving, but also making a life and community for themselves.

That is not to say that Sunrise is without conflict and peril, however. Mike Mullin knows how to write good action scenes and surprising twists and so, like the previous books before it, Sunrise has plenty of bloodshed and WTF moments. But as its title implies, it is also a cautiously hopeful story. For me, the strength of the trilogy has always lied in the realistic and well-conceived plot and that is no exception in Sunrise. Mike Mullin does his research and creates characters and situations that are as authentic as they are compelling.

I've never been a fan of Mike Mullin's writing style, but I truly can't wait to see what he writes next and I definitely recommend his Ashfall Trilogy. You are guaranteed to fall in love with Alex and Darla and their genuine romance and be impressed with how much the characters and relationships mature and grow over the course of the series. Sunrise is a truly satisfying finale to a riveting series.

Previously, my reviews of Ashfall and Ashen Winter.

Other Reviews:
Book Nerd
Nose Graze
Xpresso Reads

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