Friday, December 31, 2010
Happy New Year guys!
Have you made your resolutions yet? I usually don't keep most of them, but one of them is to try to read as much as I can. (One I know I'll be able to keep.) I'm also going to try to fulfill the Book Chick City horror/UF reading challenge, which looks to be fun.
Rather than list the other resolutions, how about a list of some of the books I'm planning on reading?
1) Bespelling Jane Austen This is another one of those "classics mixed with horror" books, but looks to be pretty good.
2) Hit List by Laurell K Hamilton. I usually have a love/hate relationship with her books, but they're still fun for me in a "like a trainwreck" sort of way. I mean, only LKH would pen in a magic car swooping in to save the soldiers & a naked fairy that suddenly appeared out of nowhere. (This was in Divine Misdemeanors & was rather out of place in the book, which made the scene even funnier. Oh LKH... I still love you for putting out stuff like that.)
3) Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire. If you haven't read the October Daye series, you need to start. It's a pretty fun series & one of the few that has a magical heroine is weak magically & stays weak. (So far, anyway.) She makes up for her lack of magical prowess by honing other skills such as her brains & body. Good stuff.
There's more, but those are the ones that immediately come to mind. Mostly because they all fit in with the reading challenge, I admit.
What are you guys looking forward to reading this year?
Monday, December 27, 2010
Title: The Paris Secret
Author: Angela Henry
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: 01/17/2011
If the DaVinci Code & Julie Kenner's Play or Die series had a baby, I think it might be a little something like this. While it doesn't entirely fill the shoes of these two greats (hey, those are mighty big shoes), it definitely satisfied my cravings for hot romance & historical mystery during the holiday season.
Less than twenty-four hours after fleeing to Paris, Maya Sinclair is the prime suspect in a brutal murder—and targeted by the real killer. When she's viciously attacked in the gardens of Versailles, Maya barely escapes with her life thanks to sexy French journalist Simon Girard.
Simon has been investigating the mysterious death of his brother, an art forger with ties to the woman Maya is suspected of killing. Still healing from heartbreak of his own, Simon reluctantly joins forces with Maya, who has awakened feelings within him he thought long dead.
Their search for answers uncovers the existence of a secret society, and puts them on a quest to find a missing crucifix rumored to hold the key to everlasting life. Together, Maya and Simon race through Paris one step ahead of a killer who will do anything to ensure some secrets remain buried forever...This really was fun to read. Simon & Maya have a lot of chemistry together in & out of bed. Something I found refreshing (and might be considered slightly spoilery) is that while the relationship is left up in the air until the end of the book, our dynamic duo didn't fight their desire to bed each other early on in the book. It's pretty much a romance staple for our romantic leads to deny the lust between the two of them, so it was nice to see a couple that did the opposite of that. There's still a little angst in the relationship, so it's not completely smooth sailing for them. Also interesting is the mystery of the crucifix- while there were a few bumpy spots to the hunt, the historical aspects were obviously well researched & lovingly detailed.
While the historical parts of the story were well done, at times the story just seemed a little too large for the page count of the book. The later parts of the book seemed a little too glossed over for how important they were, plus some of the discoveries at the end seemed a little too coincidental. However, it felt less like an oversight or "easy way out" than it was an attempt to fit into a specific page count or to keep in tone with the quickly paced ending. I can't help but feel that if there had been about 10-15 more pages to the book, it would have been perfect.
Overall this was a very fun book to read & I really loved the characters in this book. (Brian & Jerrod were two of my favorites, short as their time in the story was.) I just wish that the ending had been a little more fleshed out to fit the story that preceded it. It's still well worth reading, if only for the romance built between the two lead characters.
(ARC provided by NetGalley)
Saturday, December 25, 2010
If you're not familiar with the travesty that is the Star Wars Holiday Special, now is the time to become acquainted. In 1978 George Lucas had a vision, a vision of Star Wars on the little screen. It was to have singing, cartoons, and wookies. Lots and lots of wookies. Wookies cooking! Wookies being harassed by Imperial guards! Wookies strapping themselves into holographic fantasy machines! (Yes, that one actually does happen.)
Sounds good so far? What if I told you that the majority of the film is spoken in Wookie-ese? A language comprised of howls, grunts, and other non-English noises? That's part of what made the show so horribly bad. Well, that & having Bea Arthur run the Mos Eisley Cantina. (Although in her defense she did her best to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse.)
While there is a full version of this up on google video, Rifftrax has also released an audiotrack that will have you laughing regardless of how savvy you are on the Star Wars world. If you're not familiar with Rifftrax, they're a group of former MST3K cast members that decided to band together to form a company doing what they do best: mocking movies.
I don't have a link to a full version of the Rifftrax version, but you can find a collection of some of the best snippets at this link here. You can probably find a version on the internet that has the audio & video synched up, but of course I'm totally not telling you to download it off of one of the many torrent sites out there. (But if you do, make sure to donate a dollar to the Rifftrax site so they can keep bringing the funny.)
If you're curious, Rifftrax has also done tracks for films & shows that aren't as immediately identifiable as bad as well as films that truly aren't. (They riff for the fun of it.) Youtube has a plethora of these available, with one of the finest Rifftrax being for the film Twilight, especially the piano scene. One of my other favorites has to be the riffed version of Nic Cage's The Wicker Man, easily one of the worst films ever made. (On a non-Rifftrax related note, here's someone's homemade trailer for the movie where they turned it into a romantic comedy & actually made it into something that looks watchable.)
Friday, December 24, 2010
Today's video fun comes courtesy of Dr Elmo, Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer!
Thursday, December 23, 2010
If you're curious, they also did another one for Halloween...
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Title: Need (Need #1)
Author: Carrie Jones
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Release Date: 12/23/2008
Before I start this review, I’m going to be honest about one thing: I’m going to be spilling some spoilers about the book. Potentially big ones. I try not to post spoilers but this impacted my decision about the book. If you don’t want to know the spoilers but want to know how I felt about the book overall, I liked it for the most part. There’s just one part to the book that kept me from liking it as much as I would have otherwise.
Zara White suspects there's a freaky guy semi-stalking her. She's also obsessed with phobias. And it's true, she hasn't exactly been herself since her stepfather died. But exiling her to shivery Maine to live with her grandmother? That seems a bit extreme. The move is supposed to help her stay sane...but Zara's pretty sure her mom just can't deal with her right now.She couldn't be more wrong. Turns out the semi-stalker is not a figment of Zara's overactive imagination. In fact, he's still following her, leaving behind an eerie trail of gold dust. There's something not right - not human - in this sleepy Maine town, and all signs point to Zara.
For the most part this is a decent book. Many YA readers will like it, but some will find it a little lacking in comparison to some of the meatier & more complex books out there, such as the ones by Holly Black or Melissa Marr. Jones tries to straddle the fine line between producing something along the lines of Black/Marr & something more family friendly, but doesn’t entirely succeed. Her characters are interesting enough & the growing affections between Zara & Nick are cute. It’s just that the book kind of read like Jones wrote it as she was going along, throwing bits & pieces in as she went along. It’s not a terrible book but it does feel like it could have been a lot better.
Now for the part that really, REALLY irritated me. This is a spoiler. You’ve been warned.
Zara discovers that she’s the daughter of the pixie king & that her mom only slept with him because otherwise it would mean there would be more death and blood draining. Zara assumes that she’s the child of rape, only for her grandmother to say “it wasn’t forced- she consented”. That bothers me because it obviously seemed to be consent under duress. She didn’t want to do it but agreed because she had no other good choice. That still counts as rape & I would have imagined that an EMT (who has undoubtedly seen some horrific things in her time) would have known that. I’m horrified to think that some girls might read this & assume that consent under duress makes it not rape. What if some guy forces himself on a girl & she assumes “I initially said yes”, “I was too drunk to say no”, or “he said he’d kill me or someone else if I didn’t let him” means that it was consensual? I know that Jones didn’t mean for it to come across this way, but she’s got to understand that her phrasing in that scene was horrible & could have been put better. I'm honestly horrified that some readers might come out of this book thinking that consent under duress equates to consensual. I'd go on, but you get where I'm going with this.
Overall though, this book wasn’t bad & while I absolutely HATED that one scene in the book, I’m curious enough to want to read the next one in the series. I just know that for many, that one scene will be enough to put them off of the rest of her books.
I've found this really funny video on youtube, of a prank this guy played on his girlfriend's kids when it came to Christmas presents. The result is this rather cute and funny video.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Author: Jennifer Greene
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: 01/10/2011
I stepped out of my usual reading habits (which swing towards YA & UF) to check out this reprint of a Jennifer Greene book from NetGalley. I couldn't help but be intrigued by the plot synopsis as well as by the title, which happens to be one of my favorite songs from Oklahoma!. Upon reading it I was surprised to discover that the book was originally printed in the 1980s- if I hadn't known that then I wouldn't have known. The book manages to stay fresh, despite being 25 years old.
After tragedy strikes, Bree Penoyer's feelings of guilt leave her speechless-literally. Tired of always being the good girl and just letting things happen to her, Bree decides it's time to take life into her own hands. She dumps her lucrative but uninspiring career and her sweet but boring fiancé, and escapes to her late grandmother's rustic cabin in South Carolina to find herself again.
Her solitude is immediately disrupted by her new neighbor, Hart Manning, a sexy but arrogant rogue who doesn't seem capable of taking no for an answer. The last thing Bree wants is an affair, especially with a self-proclaimed womanizer like Hart. But she can't deny he arouses her as no man ever has, and when at last she finds her voice, she's very ready to say yes!
This really was a cute read. I'll admit that it isn't the deepest fare out there & some of the coincidences are a little hard to swallow, but it's kind of like a cupcake. You can't fault it for being what it is. I was also surprised to see that I rather liked the character of Hart. He's a stubborn mule of a man (something the author herself admits), but there's just something endearing about him. I do admit that I was a bit disappointed towards the end that we didn't learn more about him & what his past might have held, but there was enough character building to satisfy me & keep the interaction between him & Bree going.
Readers who are frequent readers of romance will find a lot of familiar territory in here & will also find a lot to love. If you aren't a fan of romance then unfortunately this isn't going to be the book that will draw you in. It's good, but it is going to best satisfy those who are fans of the genre. Again, I really have to give Greene props for writing a book that could stand the test of time & still appear fresh- especially with a heroine who works in the computer field, something that has drastically changed in the past 20+ years. It's not many who are able to do that.
(ARC provided by NetGalley)
Monday, December 20, 2010
Author: Shirley Duke
Publisher: Lerner Publishing
Release Date: 08/01/2010
The Night Fall series seems to be channeling a multitude of sources in Unthinkable. On one hand it's similar to Goosebumps (as one goodreads reviewer put it) but it also bears many similarities to series such as Fear Street as well as the slew of similarly themed books that abounded during the late 80s & early 90s. And I'm comparing them in a good way.
Unthinkable follows Omar, an aspiring young writer who spends much of his time writing short stories to post on his facebook account. He's already garnered over 1,000 fans & it's a good way to pass the time without Omar having to think about how his father deserted him & the rest of the family. When one of his latest stories- one featuring a girl being strangled in the woods- comes true, Omar's little stories start getting some big attention in a negative way. Then more stories start coming true & the talk shifts even further from public adoration to horror. Is Omar really causing these stories? And if so, how can he make them stop when his writing seems to control his every action?
This story started with a bang, which is a very good thing considering that it's such a short story. The pacing of this is incredibly fast paced & the author does an incredibly good job of keeping the reader interested in the story. Unfortunately that's where the book hits a bit of a snag. While the story is fleshed out enough to make it as a short story, the tale begs for at least another 50-100 pages so it can be complete. Some of the events in the book just happen a little too quickly. Many readers will wish for just a little more time & description inbetween events, just so when the big stuff hits there will be enough time for them to have settled down from the last surprise & so the next big development will have the punch it deserves. (Although I think this was something required by the publisher rather than a decision by the author herself.)
Now don't take that to mean that the book is bad. No, far from it. This story was awesome & as a series in the vein of Goosebumps & other series aimed for a younger audience, this is perfect. Not only is the book short enough for those in that "inbetween" stage (where you want more than a 40 page book but aren't ready for longer stories), but it's also age appropriate for the younger readers. There's death, but no gore or sex. The book's projected age range is 11-18, an ambitious range but one that it does accomplish for the most part. There was enough here to keep someone well out of that age range spellbound so if I liked it then you can be sure that the teens will as well.
This was an enjoyable book to read & something that I know will thrill a pretty wide variety of readers. This is only one book in what is currently a 6 book series with more to come, so to get the wider picture you'll have to get the other books. (Which I am now putting in my "to find & read" list.)
(ARC provided by NetGalley)
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Title: American Vampire
Author: Jennifer Armintrout
Release Date: 03/01/2011
If you're wondering if this is a series, I don't have an answer for you. This story in Armintrout's newest can stand alone by itself, but it can quite easily start off a new series in itself. As far as tying into Armintrout's other vampire series Blood Ties, I can't honestly answer that either. There's not enough detail here to determine whether it's part of that canon, but Armintrout could easily declare that it is if she wanted to. What I can tell you is that this was a blast to read.
Welcome to Penance, Ohio - hell on earth! Graf's a vampire, and he loves it. He's free to indulge his every dark, dangerous and debauched whim. Until a road trip takes him somewhere he never expected. Now he's trapped in Penance, a town that no-one has been able to leave for five years. And he's stuck protecting Jessa who's beautiful, tempting...and very, very human! The townsfolk know she's tied to their troubles and don't look kindly on strangers, meaning Graf and Jessa have only each other to rely on. Which is making it harder for Graf to control his desire to devour her...But if he can keep his bloodlust in check, their bond could be the key to uncovering the secrets that lurk within Penance and delivering the town from it's curse.
Where to start? There's so much about this book that was interesting. The premise of a town that nobody can leave or enter would have been able to carry the book by itself, but adding vampires just made it a little bit cooler. (Hey, supernatural creatures make just about everything better!) I loved Jessa's weary acceptance of the life she's had to put up with for the last five years. It made both her previous actions as well as her reluctant attraction to Graf that much easier to believe. I also loved the attention to detail, such as the lack of luxuries in a tiny town cut off from civilization. You really begin to realize how much everyone's cut off when you read about your heroine using homemade soap & getting gaspy over a rare bag of flour.
Also interesting is the mystery behind the bloodthirsty creature (It, not Graf) that's been terrorizing everyone and keeping everyone inside the town. Some might be able to piece together the puzzle midway through the book, but Armintrout still has a few surprises left in her bag of tricks by the end of the book.
I'll admit that the book was a little slow to start, but once you're hooked, you're hooked. I do hope that there's a bit more, even if it's just a short story or a prequel. This really was just that fun to read.
(ARC provided by NetGalley)
Tadah! The winners for this month's giveaway are:
Kys: The Flappers
Twimom101: Real Live Boyfriends
Congratulations guys! I've sent each of you an e-mail asking for your snail mail! If you didn't get the e-mail, drop me a line at geniebrownhair *at* hotmail *com!
Friday, December 17, 2010
A first grade girl handed in the drawing below for a homework assignment.
After it was graded and the child brought it home, she returned to school the next day with the following note:
Dear Ms. Davis,
I want to be very clear on my child’s illustration. It is NOT of me on a dance pole on a stage in a strip joint. I work at Home Depot and had commented to my daughter how much money we made in the recent snowstorm. This photo is of me selling a shovel.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Title: Tempest's Legacy (Jane True #3)
Author: Nicole Peeler
Release Date: 01/03/2010
One of the drawbacks of reading things before publication date is that you know that you'll have that much longer to wait before the next book comes out. And trust me, once you finish the third book in the Jane True series you'll want to start the next one immediately. A lot happens in this book. A lot.
After a peaceful hiatus at home in Rockabill, Jane True thinks that her worst problem is that she still throws like a girl - at least while throwing fireballs. Her peace of mind ends, however, when Anyan arrives one night with terrible news . . . news that will rock Jane's world to its very core.
After demanding to help investigate a series of gruesome attacks on females -- supernatural, halfling, and human -- Jane quickly finds herself forced to confront her darkest nightmares as well as her deepest desires.
And she's not sure which she finds more frightening.
First off, this book rocked. Big time. Not only do we have some resolution to some of Jane's previous issues, but the ending of this book leaves us with the possibility for the plot to go just about anywhere. Jane really comes into her own in this book & it's really, REALLY refreshing to see a heroine who isn't all "gritty grit-grit" or "so tough that she chews up iron pipes for dinner & poops bullets" but doesn't fall into the "I'm going to cry my way to safety & let all the men take care of me". Jane isn't a pushover in this book, but she doesn't fall into that UF heroine cliche. Also awesome are the other women in this book- they kick just as much butt & I can't wait to see Jane interact with them some more. (I'd elaborate on who they are, but I don't want to spoil anything.)
Another thing of note is Jane's interactions with both Ryu & Anyan. Ryu's not taking too well to Jane's reactions in the previous book & it's good to see how Jane responds to Ryu's attempts to woo her back. I'm probably spoiling a little too much when I say that, but I have to say it.
I honestly can't find any faults with this book- I liked what Peeler did with it & I love where the direction is going. Maybe it's a little fangirlish, but it is what it is. And this book is awesome with a side of fun sauce. The only thing I regret about this is that my ARC will expire after a certain amount of time & I'll then have to wait to buy a copy to keep my collection up to date.
(ARC provided by NetGalley)
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Love reading horror? Urban Fantasy? Both?
Why not try Book Chick City's book reading challenge? All you have to do is try to read 24 books in this genre in 2011! Here's the details: (taken directly from BCC's website)
Timeline: 01 Jan 2011 - 31 Dec 2011
Rules: To read TWENTY FOUR (24) horror & urban fantasy novels in 2011 (24 is the minimum but you can read more if you wish!)
You don't have to select your books ahead of time, you can just add them as you go. Also if you do list them upfront you can change them, nothing is set in stone! The books you choose can crossover into other challenges you have on the go.
You can join anytime between now and the later part of next year.
At the beginning of Jan 2011, you will find a link to add your reviews.
You don't have to have a blog to join in - for those without a blog just FILL IN THIS FORM and I will add you to the list - just join the discussion in the comments section to let us know when you've read a book and what you thought of it! :)
Monday, December 13, 2010
Title: The Maltese Mummy (Chicagoland #2)
Author: Trina Robbins
Artist: Tyler Page
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Release Date: 04/01/2011
A friend has vanished, a mummy's amulet is missing, and there's a weirdo out there looking for human brains and hearts. The Chicagoland Detective Agency—run by Megan, Raf, and his talking dog Bradley—have more than enough cases on their hands (and paws). But Megan's too busy for private-detecting. Her haikus have won her tickets to meet drop-dead gorgeous rock star Sun D'Arc. Raf is sure that Sun is too good not to really be bad. He must be involved in one of their cases. But which one?
While I enjoyed the first volume to this series, I'll admit that it did have its flaws. The only two of note was that the dialogue between our young heroes didn't seem to flow all that well & some of the book's messages were a little awkwardly placed. (I know I wasn't the only one who noticed that.) The Chicagoland team seem to have listened to what the crowd had to say because not only was the interaction better, but the messages in the book was worked in better. (Although in this book the message is more educational than anything else.)
The artwork also seems to have improved, being more playful & confident in this volume. While I was a bit surprised at some of the stuff mentioned by the story's villain later in the book, parents will be able to show this to their kids without having to worry about any truly objectionable material.
Overall this really was a great read & one that I truly think kids will love.
(ARC provided by NetGalley)
Ever wonder what it might be like to talk to ghosts? How about being part of a family business where the goal is to scientifically disprove the existence of said ghosts? If you’ve ever wondered what it’d be like then this book is for you.
I’ve opened a door that cannot be closed.
It’s taken a long time for me to feel like a normal teenager. But now that I’m settled in a new school, where people know me as more than Charlotte Silver of the infamous Silver family paranormal investigators, it feels like everything is falling into place. And what better way to be normal than to go on a date with a popular football star like Harris Abbott? After all, it’s not as if Noah is anything more than a friend...
But my new life takes a disturbing turn when Harris brings me to a party and we play a game called One Hundred Candles. It seems like harmless, ghostly fun. Until spirits unleashed by the game start showing up at school. Now my friends and family are in very real danger, and the door that I’ve opened into another realm may yield deadly consequences.
The pacing in this book is much better than in the previous book & now that the groundwork has been laid, we get to see much more character development & supernatural spookies. The only downfall is that some readers might be able to guess at what's going to happen about halfway through the book, but odds are that they'll be having so much fun that they really won't care about that.
Readers won't have to have read the previous book in the series to know what is going on in this book, but it'll help. The previous events are summarized briefly in this book, so they won't feel too left out in the dark. This really is forming into a promising series & while it isn't going to knock Soul Screamers out of its spot as my #1 favorite UF teen series, it's up there in my top 5.
(ARC provided by NetGalley)
Friday, December 10, 2010
This month I'm giving away another two books to two lucky people because hey- it's the holiday season & it's the time to be generous!
The first book is called The Flappers: Vixen by Jillian Larkin!
The second book is called Real Live Boyfriends* & is by E. Lockhart!
Ruby Oliver, the neurotic, hyperverbal heroine of the The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book, and The Treasure Map of Boys, is back! Ruby Oliver is in love. Or it would be love, if Noel, her real live boyfriend, would call her back. But Noel seems to have turned into a pod-robot lobotomy patient, and Ruby can’t figure out why.Not only is her romantic life a shambles:Her dad is eating nothing but Cheetos,Her mother’s got a piglet head in the refrigerator,Hutch has gone to Paris to play baguette air guitar,Gideon shows up shirtless,And the pygmy goat Robespierre is no help whatsoever. Will Ruby ever control her panic attacks?Will she ever understand boys?Will she ever stop making lists?(No to that last one.) Roo has lost most of her friends. She’s lost her true love, more than once. She’s lost her grandmother, her job, her reputation, and possibly her mind. But she’s never lost her sense of humor. The Ruby Oliver books are the record of her survival.
Both of these awesome books are ARCs (one of which hasn't come out yet) & you could win one of them!
How do you enter? Well, one of two ways:
1) Follow my blog.
2) Enter via the linky entry below.
I'll be choosing one winner from each entry format!
The contest is going to run from now until December 17th at midnight.
Click on the letter to get a better view.
If this is real, this is quite possibly the best trolling attempt ever.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Title: The Little Prince
Author: Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Illustrator: Joann Sfar
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: 10/18/2010
Joann Sfar (creator of Vampire Loves & The Little Vampire, among others) has given The Little Prince the graphic novel treatment, the first (as far as I know) for this timeless story. Undoubtedly this will be met with mixed initial reactions. Fans of Sfar will love seeing him apply his hand to this story while some others might raise an eyebrow at the idea of this being done.
The story is unchanged from the original book. The tale follows a young boy (the titular Little Prince) as he travels from his home & beloved flower in search of other planets. He finds very little that interests him & it is only when he arrives on Earth that he discovers beings that he can truly interact with.
There's quite a bit to like about this retelling. I'm a fan of Sfar's style, which is instantly recognizable in this book. For the most part his art style works to give the story a dreamy quality, although occasionally it does tend to be a little on the creepy side.
While I'll admit that I haven't read the original story, this rather creepy Prince panel just seemed a little out of place in the script.
Overall though the book is an enjoyable read & apart from one or two panels, Sfar's artwork really does fit the story well. The style is dreamlike & really does carry the emotions of the story quite well, from the initial introduction of the Prince & the Pilot to the "choose what you want to believe" ending.
This might not be for all readers or age groups, but if you're a fan of Sfar or of the original book you'll definitely want to check this out.
(ARC provided by NetGalley)
Title: The Vespertine
Author: Saundra Mitchell
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Release Date: 03/07/2011
Like your supernatural books with a little historical edge to it? Then you'll probably love this book. Want it to progress at a fast rate with lots of shocks & thrills? Then you'll probably be slightly disappointed. While this book is excellent, it isn't one of those types of stories.
It’s the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him. When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia’s world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she’s not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.
Rather than go quickly to the thrills or chase scenes, Mitchell decides instead to start her story with Amelia after the fact & slowly build up the suspense for what will eventually happen. We're told that something will go wrong, but what exactly it will be is only slightly alluded to in the beginning of the story. It's a smart move, as it gives the otherwise optimistic beginnings of the book a bit of an ominous tone. While there's not a huge amount of detail given to Amelia's heart throb Nathaniel, the richly written atmosphere more than makes up for it.
It's just that the book's description makes this seem like there's more action & supernatural elements to the book than there is & I can't help but feel like this might be a bit misleading for some. The paranormal aspect is interesting but to me it just seemed to be a little underdeveloped at points. I wanted to see more of Amelia's abilities as well as (trying not to be spoilerish) some of the other talents mentioned in the book. The big emphasis is on the social problems rather than the paranormal ones & while I loved that Amelia's abilities played a bit of a backseat for the first part of the book, it just needed a bit more meat to it.
Overall though this is a nice tale & it's sure to find a nice following, especially with the sequel (The Springsweet, only click on this link if you want to be slightly spoiled plot-wise) coming out in spring 2012.
(ARC provided by NetGalley)
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Title: Witches (Fables Vol 14)
Author: Bill Willingham
Artist: Mark Buckingham
Release Date: 12/7/2010
Since I usually catch up with the adventures of our beloved Fables when the individual issues are collected into volumes, when I got this in the mail today (literally about an hour prior to writing this review) I immediately sat down to read it. After all, important stuff happens in this volume.
Where to begin? First we've got the problem of Mister Dark, the embodiment of everything you are & should be afraid of. He's preparing himself for something sinister, something that will undoubtedly effect not only the fables but mankind in general. If that's not bad enough, the tensions on the Farm are rising. Totenkinder has run the witches of the 13th floor for years, but now she's got competition for her leadership in the form of Ozma. Things aren't going all that well for Bufkin either- he's trapped in the remnants of Fabletown's office with a whole host of newly released monsters- including a powerful djinn & a very, VERY mad Baba Yaga. Meanwhile in Flycatcher's kingdom there's trouble as well. A drunk goblin has eaten one of the other citizens of the kingdom. The other goblins are threatening to revolt if the offender is put to death, but pardoning the gob's crimes might be just as bad.
This volume is awesome. Not only does it have the reappearance of several people and items mentioned in past volumes, but the artwork is as stunning as is par for the course in this series. Oh, and you get to see how Bufkin reacts in an emergency situation. It doesn't get much better than that. (Until the next volume, anyway.) Also cool is that this volume draws upon the whole Rose Red situation, emphasizing the showdown between good & evil that's undoubtedly coming in the next volume.
If you've been collecting the series so far, you absolutely cannot miss out on this volume. I have to admit, I was a little suspicious about what would happen after the fall of the Empire, but this current story is awesome & is a nice change after the previous Jack-centric volume.
Monday, December 6, 2010
The show's based on the bestselling series by George R.R. Martin called A Song of Ice & Fire. What's awesome about this book series is that it's fantasy but much of the initial focus is in the historical accuracy as well as the world & character building. While the series obviously takes place in a world where magic does exist in some form, Martin strives to keep as much of the book's background historically accurate for a society that's set during the Middle Ages. You've got power plays, young marriages, as well as other things that takes place during such time periods such as political marriages. As the story progresses the fantasy angle gets more of a foothold & is that much more believable for the groundwork that Martin put into the first volume.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
I'd discovered a week or so ago that there was going to be a graphic novel prequel to Kim Harrison's awesome Hollows series, but recently I discovered some pictures that are going to be in the book itself.
The artwork looks amazing so far & what is interesting is that the book is going to be told from Ivy's point of view rather than Rachel's. If you want to see more of the book, you can see all of these pictures on Harrison's own website!
The book is due out on July 12, 2011 & from the website it looks like we can expect more to come!
Title: Pale Demon (The Hollows #9)
Author: Kim Harrison
Release Date: 02/22/2011
If you’ve been on the fence about the Hollows series, this book will bring you back to the series. I can’t say anything without spoiling the book for you, but rest assured- this book was awesome. This has to be one of the best books in the series so far. It doesn’t beat out the first book as my favorite Hollows read, but it’s up there.
This book finds Rachel trying to find a way to the witch convention in San Francisco, but when no flight will carry her, she has to make her way West with the last person she thought she’d travel with: Trent Kalamack. He too has a reason for heading to the West Coast, but he’s not spilling the details. Since the only other option is to not travel & be put to death or go to the ever after with Al (which is almost as bad), Rachel’s left with no other options. Stuck on what has the potential to be the worst road trip ever, Rachel & crew (oh yes, Ivy & Jenks are there too) discover that anything that can go wrong, will. Especially when you have to deal with assassins, secrets, & a soul eating demon that can not only walk during the day, but also can come & go as he pleases.
Where to begin? For starters, you’ll love that even though not everything is resolved in this book, Harrison does her best to address many of the concerns & questions that fans have been having over the series. I won’t state which ones get the most attention, but I opine (as Pierce would put it) that the many people will be satisfied in one way or another.
Also wonderful is the maturing of Rachel. She’s still the type of person who is capable of insane feats of magic, but this Rachel is one who no longer sees things (as she puts it) in the “black and white” views as she did at the beginning of the series. This shows in many of her actions in this book & the decisions she makes during the course of her adventures in this book.
This is an awesome book & one that anyone following along with the Hollows series NEEDS to read. Not breeze through in the store or library, but read. This was just sheer awesomeness & I really feel like I can’t say enough good things about it. I loved this book.
(ARC provided by NetGalley)
Saturday, December 4, 2010
She's giving away books by some of her favorite authors, Kelley Armstrong & Rachel Vincent- check it out, it's pretty easy to enter!
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Title: Mystify (Mystyx #2)
Author: Artist Author
Release Date: 02/01/2011
If you were on the fence about the first book, then rest assured that this entry will put you solidly in the “crazy about Mystyx” camp.
Sometimes being an outsider is the best way to fit in…
Sasha Carrington has grown up feeling like an outsider, and her parents are too concerned with scaling the Lincoln, Connecticut, social ladder to even notice her. They’d be really horrified to know about the supernatural abilities Sasha and her friends Krystal and Jake possess. But as part of the Mystyx, Sasha has found her place.
Now her parents have suddenly taken an interest in everything she does, and their timing couldn’t be worse. Sasha’s father wants her to become BFFs with snooty Alyssa Turner, who hates Krystal for stealing her boyfriend. Then there’s Antoine Watson, the boy Sasha has liked forever, the boy her parents would never approve of. But with the dark side getting more dangerous by the day, and the Mystyx’s own powers growing in unexpected ways, Sasha is facing choices that could affect her friends, her love life—and even her destiny…
I liked the first book in the series, but I have to admit that I enjoyed this book more than the first one. Sasha’s a pretty tough cookie & a little more assertive at times than Krystal was in the first book. (Although I do have to say that Krystal seems to be coming into her own in this book as well.) It also helps that the chemistry between Sasha & her crush Antoine is really well written & comes across nicely. Readers will really find themselves rooting for these two.
The book still has a bit of the growing pains that the first volume did, but Author is getting more comfortable with the characters & the plot, which comes across in her style. You can really tell that she had a lot of fun writing this entry. I just really wish that there were more questions answered in this volume- I found myself really getting frustrated along with the characters that there weren’t any real answers to their questions just yet. Even so, I really do recommend checking this book out- it’s well worth reading.
(ARC provided by NetGalley)
The only thing better than seeing teens picking up books is seeing people rally together to get books to low income teens.
If you know any groups or organizations that could help put these books in the hands of teens, let them know! If you don't know any groups, then you can still help out by doing the following: (taken directly from rgz's website)
Post to Facebook and tweet your beak off about these books using the hashtag #novelgift.
Here’s a tinyurl link to their registration page: http://tinyurl.com/2a5mwpj.
Or you can link to this blog post: http://readergirlz.blogspot.com/2010/11/novel-gift-over-125000-free-books-to.html
Then, get in touch with every group you can think of that works with young adults–schools, after-school programs, church youth groups, community centers, etc.—and let them know that these books are available now.
The five-minute online registration these groups can use is here:
First Book is also eager to answer questions, either by email to email@example.com, or by phone at 866-READ-NOW or 866-732-3669.
If you participate, drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org to be included in our blog roll of thanks to run December 31.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Thanks to HarperTeen, you can read the first few chapters on their site for absolutely free! Trust me- you NEED to read this book. It's an absolute necessity if you loved Pretty Little Liars!
Monday, November 29, 2010
The great thing about Carina Press is that it allows for newer authors to be published in e-format. Sometimes however, I wonder how some authors aren't published in paper format. Keri Stevens' Stone Kissed is one of those books that I really do believe deserves to be published in paperback format as well as e-book format.
After an arsonist torches her ancestral home with her estranged father still inside, Delia is forced to sell the estate to pay his medical bills. Her childhood crush, Grant Wolverton, makes a handsome offer for Steward House, vowing to return it to its former glory. Delia agrees, as long as he'll allow her to oversee the restoration.
Working so closely with Grant, Delia finds it difficult to hide her unique talent—especially when their growing passion fuels her abilities.
But someone else lusts after both her man and the raw power contained in the Steward land. Soon Delia finds herself fighting not just for Grant's love, but for both their lives...
While the synopsis makes this book sound like it's some thriller focused around someone hunting Grant & Delia, it's really not that type of book. The main thrust of the book focuses around their desire for each other & Grant's pursuit of the gun shy Delia. (Not that you can entirely blame her, though.) The passion between these two characters is very tangible & Stevens is to be congratulated for that- it's pretty hard to create that type of chemistry on paper & have it translate well to the reader. She should also be congratulated for coming up with what is quite possibly one of the most original magics that I've seen given to a lead heroine. Kudos for not giving Delia one of the typical heroine magics. It makes it that much easier to see Delia as something unique rather than yet another cookie cutter romance heroine.
The only part of the book that seemed to lose a little focus for me personally was when it came to the ultra tragic Cecily. There was a lot going on with this character & I couldn't help but feel like at times it was just a little too much & that a little simplicity would have been better. (slight spoiler here) Cecily was still a great character, but I never really saw her as much of a threat to either of the main characters & I just wanted to see her be a little badder.
This was still an awesome read & I managed to finish it within the span of a day, which really says something considering that I put off finishing school work to read the rest of the novel. I honestly recommend this to fans of Kenyon or some of the other paranormal romance books out on the market. This one's a keeper.
(ARC provided by NetGalley)
Title: My Soul to Steal (SoulScreamers #4)
Author: Rachel Vincent
Release Date: 01/01/2011
Before I start, let me just let you know that if you haven't been following along in the series then this is not a good place to start. There's a lot of back story that needs to be read & the first three books in this series are well worth reading. If you're curious about the series, yet can't get to a bookstore or library right away, you can still read the prequel to the series My Soul To Lose free from Vincent's website.
See, Sabine isn't just an ordinary girl. She's a mara, the living personification of a nightmare. She can read people's fears—and craft them into nightmares while her victims sleep. Feeding from human fear is how she survives.
And Sabine isn't above scaring Kaylee and the entire school to death to get whatever—and whoever—she wants.
Along for the ride is the new character of Sabine, a character that will have many readers either squealing with glee at her mean girl personality or huffing in frustration at the things she does to our heroine. No worries about disliking her to the point of disliking the book- there's enough likable details to Sabine to keep her from going too overboard. She definitely gives Sophie a run for her money in the "complete jerk to Kaylee" contest. I won't spoil things for anyone, but some of the nightmares she gives Kaylee are pretty horrible. While the introduction of a rival for Nash's affections is intriguing, there also seems to be a few potential love interests developing for Kaylee as well.
I was honestly intrigued by this book & I can't wait for the next volume to come out. There's a few interesting suggestions brought up in this book (mostly surrounding Kaylee & her love life) that I really would like to see explored more in the next book. As with the previous books, this series is just plain fun to read, whether you're 14 or 40.
(ARC provided by NetGalley)
I'm so happy that so many people entered into this contest that it was really hard picking a winner. I ended up picking one winner from the linky entries & the other from the followers for my blog.
Here's the winners:
Winner of The Host: Mary of BookHounds!
Winner of Deliver us From Evil: Kulsuma!
I'll be doing another contest in about a week, so check back soon to see what I'll be giving away!
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Title: The Lying Game (Lying Game #1)
Author: Sara Shepard
Release Date: 12/07/2010
Having read & loved Shepard's Pretty Little Liars series, when I got the chance to review her newest series I was over the moon. As soon as I received this book in the mail I ran off to read it & finished it in one night. It was that addicting of a read.
Emma's always bounced around from foster home to foster home, never finding a great place to live & often living with people who either held her at arm's length or tried to take more liberties with her than they should. When a mysterious & violent video shows a person that's identical to her, Emma researches it to discover that there's someone out there with her face. A sister she's never known, Sutton Mercer, invites her to visit with her, only for Emma to discover that there's more going on than she ever could have guessed. Sutton is dead & someone is intent on making Emma pretend to be her. As Emma uses her skills to investigate Sutton's murder, she begins to realize that she can't trust anyone in Sutton's seemingly perfect life & that everyone's a suspect. Little does Emma know that her sister Sutton is watching over her, equally in the dark about who killed her & hoping that Emma will bring her killer to justice.
I'll just say this: if you loved PLL, you'll love this book. It's got more of the same things that made the other series so fun to read: mean girls, dirty little secrets, rivalries, & of course- a hard to solve murder. Readers will love the character of Emma, being able to commiserate with her as she goes from elation at having a sister to horror as she begins to feel the threat hanging over her head.
I didn't really have any complaints over this novel- it was slickly written & trust me, you'll be addicted to this book just as much as you would PLL. I was initially a bit worried that the idea of a complete stranger slipping into someone's life (that she doesn't know) would be a bit hard to believe, but Shepard addresses this in a believable way.
This book is going to be one of the must reads of December & with the second book coming out in July, you won't have to worry about going too long without your next fix.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Before I get started, I'll just say that my review comes from the unit we got at the bookstore to display. The overall product will still be the same, but some things (like the instruction manual) might be different.
Reading: It's a nice clean picture & the backlit screen isn't too annoying, but I have a feeling that people will be feeling the eyestrain later. If you're looking to buy this for reading at length, you'll need to be aware of this.
Downloading: Pretty fast download times, although I only downloaded the free samples from the storefront. (Hilarious since I work at a Books-A-Million & the storefront's B&N. We're so going to lose money on ebook sales.)
Internet: Pretty decent. I pulled up facebook (didn't log in though- not on the store unit) & the page is crisp, clear & loads quickly. It'll probably get bogged down if you go to a site with tons & tons of things on the page, but that'll happen with any unit like this for the most part.
Battery: Not bad, but obviously won't last as long as the Nook or some of the e-ink units out there. You'll get about 3-4 hours if you leave the wifi on. Not sure about the non-wifi battery life right now, but since the company says it's 8 hours I'd say it's probably about 6-7 hours.
Extras: You can change the font, screen background color, & a few other things. While that's nice, I couldn't help but feel a little underwhelmed by it. There's also the option to be able to toggle back & forth between the publisher default & your aesthetics of choice. You can also change the background on the main page of the NookColor, which is a nice touch. Since we're not supposed to change that with our store unit, I wasn't able to play with that any.
Touch Screen: It's OK. Pretty easy to use, but a few times I found myself really having to wrestle with it to turn pages. Sometimes it would be too sensitive & I'd end up a few pages ahead of where I wanted to be. Not a deal breaker, though. It didn't happen enough to where I'd get overly irritated, but people who are all thumbs with touch screens will be irritated.
User Friendly: It's not very intuitive to use. People savvy with e-readers & gadgets will be able to figure it out pretty quickly but people who are new to the scene will be pretty confused with everything. The unit for my store didn't come with any written directions- it was all on the unit. That means that if it's like this on the sale unit then that won't be all that helpful for the people who aren't able to navigate well on the unit.
Overall: My opinion is that it's OK, but not exceptionally so. Go for the iPad if you really want something like this. It's basically a Nook/iPad hybrid, but without the option for all of the extras & apps. Overall it isn't a bad unit but it just doesn't have anything to really make it stand out. If you're a big fan of the Nook then go for this unit, but I'd play with it in the store first.
If you're curious, the EBook Reader has also reviewed the NookColor & did a pretty awesome writeup on it.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Title: The Cypress House
Author: Michael Koryta
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Release Date: 01/24/2011
After my first foray into Koryta's work via So Cold the River, I was somewhat curious to see what his next book would be like. My experience with SCTR was mostly a good one, although I felt the end was a little anti-climatic. Would this book be better? Would the ending have more zing? Yes it is and yes, it did.
Arlen Wagner has seen it in men before--a trace of smoke in their eyes that promises imminent death. He is never wrong.
When Arlen awakens on a train one hot Florida night and sees death's telltale sign in the eyes of his fellow passengers, he tries to warn them. Only 19-year-old Paul Brickhill believes him, and the two abandon the train, hoping to escape certain death. They continue south, but soon are stranded at the Cypress House--an isolated Gulf Coast boarding house run by the beautiful Rebecca Cady--directly in the path of an approaching hurricane.
The storm isn't the only approaching danger, though. A much deadlier force controls the county and everyone living in it, and Arlen wants out--fast. But Paul refuses to abandon Rebecca to face the threats alone, even though Arlen's eerie gift warns that if they stay too long they may never leave.
If you loved the first book, you're going to really enjoy Kortya's next offering. The spookiness and supernatural is dialed back a few notches in order to showcase humanity's ability for cruelty & evil, but it'll still keep you thumbing through the pages way past midnight. These characters aren't perfect, but you'll find yourself wondering what exactly will happen to them.
The only problem with this book is that for broad stretches, nothing happens. We see Arlen & Paul working on the house or talking to Rebecca about ominous things that might happen. At times this works wonderfully to heighten the tension, but at times I couldn't help but wish that the plot would have moved just a teensy bit faster.
This is still well worth reading, but if you aren't into the books that build suspense up slowly you'll probably be disappointed with this read. To the rest I heartily endorse this read- at times Koryta reminds me a little of Shirley Jackson's Haunting of Hill House.
(ARC provided by NetGalley)
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Hi everyone! It's time for my monthly giveaway & because I'm so grateful for all of the followers my little blog gets, I'm giving away two books this month so there will be two chances to win!
The first book is an ARC of David Baldacci's Deliver Us From Evil & the other is a hardback of Stephenie Meyer's The Host!
Here's how to enter:
Following my blog will give you one entry. Entering via the link below will give you another entry. (So if you follow my blog AND enter via the link, you get two entries into the contest! ) Don't worry about the linky tool asking you for a web link- just enter your e-mail into that if you don't have a blog or other website to put in there. I tested it out already & entering an e-mail address won't be a problem!
Posting a comment won't do anything extra, but it would be appreciated! Why not tell me what you'd like me to give away next month? I'm always open to suggestions!
I'm ending the contest on November 28 at 11:59 pm EST, so check back on the 29th to see if you won! Want to win more stuff? Check back each month. Want to win tons of swag in November? Check out the I am A Reader, Not A Writer giveaway that inspired this month's contest!
Monday, November 15, 2010
Author: Kiersten White
Release Date: 08/31/2010
If you love books along the lines of My Soul to Take then odds are that you'll love this new trilogy started by Kiersten White. It's got all of the stuff that UF YA is known for but also manages to give us something rare: an "awkward" pretty main character that is not only likable, but incredibly vulnerable as well.
Evie's always been different. Unlike other girls her age, she's got the power to see through any glamour & uses that skill to her best extent in her job at the International Paranormal Containment Agency (IPCA). Evie helps to trap & contain things that humanity is best not being aware of. The good part is that she gets her own pink sparkly taser. The bad part is that what makes her special also separates her from everyone else in the world. When she captures a strange boy rifling through her boss's office & discovers that something sinister is afoot, can Evie manage to find out what is going on?
I really did enjoy this book. It's a great start to a trilogy & you can tell that White has done some incredible plotting for this series. Evie is someone that just about every reader can relate to & root for. Also interesting is the two main guys in her life- one of which is a fairy intent on making her a possession & a boy that Evie finds herself quickly falling for. While I'm sure that the future books will help elaborate on both characters, it's refreshing to have the dynamics that are in this first book. (I won't spoil it for you, but needless to say there's no flip flopping between the guys in this book.)
The only downfall is that we're given far too little information on certain aspects of Evie's world (her friendships, IPCA, etc) & I can't help but really wish that White had given us a little more to start off with. I'm sure that these things will be elaborated on in the future, but it still doesn't help define IPCA & other aspects of this book.
Overall though this was an enjoyable first book & I'll be keeping my eyes open for the next one in the series.
Everyone's heard of James Frey via his now infamous "biography" that never happened. Now Frey is back in the media & just like last time it's not for anything good. Recently Frey has come under fire for hiring hopeful authors in search of a break, then giving them one of the worst gigs ever.
In what is quite possibly his sleaziest move yet, Frey hires these authors (most of whom might be unaware of what they're getting themselves into), pays them a pittance to churn out books- books they don't even have any rights to. I'm not talking about some newbie coming on to help write the new Fear Street book or something along these lines. Nope, this is about some newbie coming on & writing their own original stories & characters, then losing all right to said stories & characters because under the agreement it belongs to James Frey's company.
I'm going to quote NY Magazine on this:
"Veteran publishing attorney Conrad Rippy said he had never seen anything like it:
It’s an agreement that says, “You’re going to write for me. I’m going to own it. I may or may not give you credit. If there is more than one book in the series, you are on the hook to write those too, for the exact same terms, but I don’t have to use you. In exchange for this, I’m going to pay you 40 percent of some amount you can’t verify — there’s no audit provision — and after the deduction of a whole bunch of expenses.”"
I can only hope that no new authors sign onto this company.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Hi all! I've been procrastinating in posting this, but if you're a huge fan of Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely series then you'll be excited to know that she's allowing us to have a sneak peek of the prologue as well as the first few chapters!
If you're longing for an ARC of this book, Marr also has a few options for you on her website as well. I know I've entered to win a copy, so why not you as well?
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Title: No One Lives Twice (Lexi Carmichael #1)
Author: Julie Moffett
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: 08/16/2010
Longing for a bit of the old James Bond type thrillers? Want something with a little chase to it? Would you like to see a geeky girl on the run to stop the bad guys? If you answered yes to any of those three questions then you'll probably like this book.
I'm Lexi Carmichael, geek extraordinaire. I spend my days stopping computer hackers at the National Security Agency. My nights? Those I spend avoiding my mother and eating cereal for dinner. Even though I work for a top-secret agency, I've never been in an exciting car chase, sipped a stirred (not shaken) martini, or shot a poison dart from an umbrella.
Until today, that is, when two gun-toting thugs popped up in my life and my best friend disappeared. So, I've enlisted the help of the Zimmerman twins—the reclusive architects of America's most sensitive electronic networks—to help me navigate a bewildering maze of leads to find her.
Along the way, my path collides with a sexy government agent and a rich, handsome lawyer, both of whom seem to have the hots for me. Hacking, espionage, sexy spy-men—it's a geek girl's dream come true. If it weren't for those gun-toting thugs...Readers of romance & fans of books similar to The Givenchy Code will enjoy this book. (It's not identical to TGC, but similar enough to where it reminded me a little of it.) Lexie Carmichael isn't the brightest computer geek out there, but she does have a lot of heart & determination to her that will endear her to most readers. You'll also love the variety of men in the series. It's pretty easy to determine who the main players are for Lexie's heart, though. Even so, the book is easy to read & the story's twist (which I'll admit I didn't entirely see coming) makes this a pretty fun read overall.
The only drawback? Well... for a girl that's supposedly smart enough to get into the NSA for her hacking skills, Lexie doesn't really show them off that much in this book. That might change in the next few books, but for right now we the only "hacking" we see Lexie doing is her talking to a supposed hacker in the beginning of the book. She's also not exactly savvy when it comes to avoiding stupid actions, but at least Moffett has Lexie calling herself out on this at various points in the book.
Overall though, this is a pretty enjoyable read. It's a nice fluffy story that will be sure to please romance fans looking for something with a little thrill to it. I have to admit that it was better than I was initially expecting it to be & I'm curious enough to read the next book in the series.
(ARC provided by NetGalley)