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Hosted by parajunkee:
Q. Keeping with the dystopian and apocalypse theme that seems to be running rampant on parajunkee.com, I have one very hard question for you: If you were stocking your bomb shelter, what books would you HAVE to include if you only had space for ten?

Well, that's difficult... but I think I came up with a pretty well-rounded list that would keep me (and others, which is always important, especially if you're stuck in a bunker) entertained. There's always room for a good story or ten! And although I like reading about dystopian societies, I don't think I'd care much to live in one.

Click here for a larger version!

Loved this question! The more I click links on book blogs the more excited I am to have one myself. There's so many fun things to discover and so lots of really thoughtful conversation out there. :)

review: the iron daughter by julie kagawa

Author: Julie Kagawa
Publication Date: 08/01/2010
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 359
Source: Purchased
 Synopsis: 
Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey—ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her. Worse, Meghan's own fey powers have been cut off. She's stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can't help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart. (goodreads)
At the end of The Iron King Meghan had definitely saved her brother, Ethan, seemingly saved Nevernever, and returned to her home to reunite with her mom and stepdad. Happily ever after?

Fortunately for us it doesn't quite end that way. Right before Meghan can launch into a meaningful heart-to-heart with her mom, Ash quietly sweeps in and comes to bring Meghan to the Winter Court - a faery always fulfills their vow. The gap in between that story and The Iron Daughter is provided in the novella Winter's Passage*. We do get a bit of a summary at the beginning of the book, but there's more nitty gritty in the whole thing so it's worth the read if you have the chance.

While at the Winter Court we find out that Ash is the youngest and that of his two older brothers, one is slightly nuts and the other is potentially nice. During a party to celebrate the return of the Scepter of the Seasons from Summer to Winter, the scepter is stolen semi-secretly by the Iron Fey. Meghan gets caught up in a fight to protect it, with Ash eventually coming to her aid to spirit her back to the Summer Court before a war can break out over the theft, with Summer erroneously being blamed.

Many a time in The Iron Daughter does Ash display distancing behavior. The novella, and the beginning of this book, both allude to reasons behind it. He had warned Meghan that he would not be able to be trusted in Tir Na Nog (Mean Mama's Realm) but also that he would protect her as long, of course, as he wasn't directly commanded to kill her. As a reader it was a smidgen difficult for me to suspend disbelief  and that somehow Ash had given up on her and had become a heartless stranger, even though he did it so well. At times I wanted to yell at the book, "Hey, Meghan, your boyfriend's pretending to suck so his mean mama doesn't kill you any earlier." That said, I could empathize with her as regardless of logic, sometimes your heart wins out.

I have to say, though, that Meghan Chase is one strong female character, and I think that's a large part of why I really enjoy these books. She's not a simpering girl waiting for her prince to come, nor is she easily influenced. Even though she goes through a lot she never gives up. When Ash leaves her behind, she keeps on going for his - now hers, too - world. She speaks up to her father, Queen Mab, and above all she defends her family and loved ones something fierce. Meghan's grown a lot even from the previous book, and it's nice that there are some introspective moments where she too realizes it.

The fantastic world building continues here and one of the best things about it is that we always have Grimalkin to be the voice of narrative reason to supply the reader with deductions that the other characters would never have offered up. Okay, here's my favorite Grim quote:
"I am a cat."
So finite and blasé in a feline way that it's just perfect. If he could shrug lazily while saying it I think that he would. We also have the return of Puck! I didn't realize how much I had missed his jovial commentary until we were left with Meghan alone in the Winter Court. (Hey, she had a right to be depressed!) They really do balance each other out well personality wise. There's a lot that happens with him and some other characters that is quite surprising. There are some mysteries that are offered up, some predictable, most not. Can I say we also have the return of Ironhorse? And I really enjoyed him? Think on that, folks!

Overall there's a lot of everything exciting and good from the previous book: a great landscape, action, lovely character building, tons of Iron Fey, and, oh maybe some romance. Maybe a lot more romance. Puck or Ash? I won't tell.

It's difficult to follow up a fantastic initial book of a series, but it was done here.

*Winter's Passage is available as a free download until April 31st.

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event courtesy of Breaking the Spine
that showcases much anticipated upcoming releases.

Divergent
Veronica Roth
Publishing date: 05/03/2011


From goodreads:
Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.


During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

Not sure if it was apparent enough from my past posts, but I thought it would be fitting to start off my first Waiting on Wednesday with the book release that has me as excited as a new Harry Potter release (RIP, no more HP releases). 

What are you guys waiting on?


review: the iron king by julie kagawa


Author: Julie Kagawa
Publication Date: 01/01/2010
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 363
Source: Library
 Synopsis: 

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny—one she could never have imagined… Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school…or at home. When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change. But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart. (goodreads)
I should probably start off by saying that I was extremely hesitant to read this. For some reason books about faeries don't sit well with me, mainly because I've only read a few before and while they were okay - well, that's the problem. They were just okay. Nothing was there to take it to the next level. So I came into this book with a bit of skepticism but I came out of it with a healthy appreciation for just how well it can be done. Julie Kagawa crafted a well-rounded setting for her story that not only made it as believable as faeries can be, but also wrote with such a great first-person narrative that had just the right amount of teenage perspective thrown in to make Meghan's character really work. 

We begin with Meghan Chase, who is just about to turn 16, having moved to rural Louisiana when she was 6. Her family are pig farmers which doesn't leave much money to toss around and so they live on the outskirts both socially and geographically. Her best friend in the area is a boy her age, Robbie Goodfell, who shares a bus stop with Meghan. On her sixteenth birthday everything changes when her little brother is kidnapped and replaced with a changeling, leaving Robbie to reveal to Meghan that in order to save him they must journey to a place called Nevernever, the faery realm. I initially had a difficult time with the concept as I fully expected it to be a realm of the little buggers from Pan's Labyrinth flying about everywhere with Summer and Winter Courts and a lot of bickering. The name Nevernever was just Peter Pan to me and so the next 10 or so pages were me getting used to the surrounding. 

And I'm very glad I did. The setting, and the concept surrounding it, is probably my favorite part of the book and was quite creative. The idea is that Nevernever is created out of the dreams, imagination, and creativity of the human world. As long as humans create stories, art, music, etc., the Nevernever lives on. However the plot touches on how humans are so now enamored with technology for everything that we are losing out on nature and our own creativity. With the evolution of technology a third court was created, the secretive Iron Court which is a testament to the change of dreams from stories to scientific advancements and defined answers. Julie Kagawa, I have to tell you, I thought this was absolutely wonderful. With the advent of technology our own inherent and natural artistry becomes just that: Nevernever Land. This absolutely cemented it for me.  

The faery realm existed not only of faeries, but mermaid and dryads and ogres - the whole mythical assortment. Their inclusion helped to flesh out Nevernever and made everything vibrant and created something I could envision while reading. Grimalkin, a cat (but not just a cat!), is probably my favorite character of the book. Sarcastic, honest, but loyal and wholly unpredictable. Grim's character helped balance out Robbie's (now Puck, in Nevernever) penchant for viewing the world, as Meghan says, as 'a colossal joke'. However much of a prankster Robbie may be, his steadfastness to his friend made him really endearing. Not to mention he's a ginger. I love gingers. 

One thing that surprised me about Robbie is that it was easy to tell from the get-go that he harbored some serious feelings for Meghan but she was either blind to them (and that's what it seemed like from her POV) or just didn't know how to respond. When Ash, the Winter Prince, was introduced it was interesting to see the antagonism between them from Meghan's perspective. Robbie's her best friend, but Ash is this curious creature who is no-nonsense, cold and unpredictable - and he just happens to be someone that Robbie has serious history with. The progression of Meghan's relationship with them both was done really well and I'm interested to see how it plays out in the future. For the record: I like them both and I'm curious to learn a bit more about each. 

The Iron King has adventure, strong characterization, and just the right touch of romance that made it a well-rounded read that I think quite a lot of people will enjoy. This is a book I will be adding to my bookshelf and I'm so glad I have the sequel in hand so I can start right away.

This question comes on the heels of my starting Julie Kagawa's The Iron King last night. As I started it I knew about 40 or so pages in that it was something I would have to go out the next day and get the sequels to as I had again fallen into the book zone. The book zone, for me, is when I start a book series, decide while reading the first book that I love it, and have to have the subsequent books ready to go immediately after the first is finished.

I see this as a good and a bad thing. Good because there is no break in the story and I can immediately jump into what comes next without having to wait a year for it to be released. Bad in that I just can't stop reading and then when I'm done, I'm done.

Thank you again, library, for having all three available for my literary consumption. I'll try and take a break (gasp! horror!) in between so that I can review each book in their own right without mixing storylines.

Does anyone else fall into the book zone? When do you know in the first book that you just have to keep going?

review: between two ends by david ward

Author: David Ward
Publication Date: 05/01/2011
Publisher: Abrams Books
Pages: 224
Source: NetGalley ARC
 Synopsis: 
When Yeats and his parents visit his grandmother's creepy old house, Yeats reunites a pair of pirate bookends and uncovers the amazing truth: Years ago, Yeats's father traveled into The Arabian Nights with a friend, and the friend, Shari, is still stuck in the tales. Assisted by the not-always-trustworthy pirates, Yeats must navigate the unfamiliar world of the story of Shaharazad--dodging guards and tigers and the dangerous things that lurk in the margins of the stories--in order to save Shari and bring peace to his family. (goodreads)
Between Two Ends tells the adventurous story of Yeats, 12, (and the equally adventurous story of his father, William) while visiting his grandmother's house in Maine. His father is fighting depression leaving his parents at odds with each other after so many years of trying to find treatment. Yeats desperately wants to keep his family together and risks a daring journey to save them - and also help repair his father's image. 

After Yeats meets a pair of half witty, all swashbuckling pirates he begins on an adventure he barely knew he'd be taking. Once he reaches The Arabian Nights the story comes alive with such vivid and intelligent descriptions that it's very easy to lose yourself (no pun intended!) to it without realising you're turning the page. Sword fights, vegetables, escaping, prisons and cats abound. 

This was a really clever book. One of the potential downsides of children's literature is that some books are written with a smaller vocabulary and, at times, I believe that's doing a large disservice to the kids who read them. Being that this is a book that touches heavily on literature and poetry (Yeats and William, among others) it is very believable that Yeats, even at his age, is an incredibly smart boy. He is very much aware of the issue between his parents and does everything he can to mend it, even if it means going on an incredible adventure to save someone he doesn't even know (and maybe some he does). Although the story has references to poetry, they're mentioned in such an easy way as to mesh in well with the overall plot and are not out of place. 

It's difficult to pinpoint what I liked most about this book because it really had the entire package for me: intelligent writing, great characters and maybe best of all, a fantastic (in the literal and everyday sense) background in which it all takes place. For me it's important to be able to visualize what I'm reading which requires just the right amount of detail without being force-fed specifics. From the moment they pulled into the driveway with doors slamming and opening until the journey into The Arabian Nights, I had a clear image of my mind of just what Yeats and his crew were doing. A lot of this had to do with descriptive writing but most of it had to do with an original story idea that was wholly refreshing and a pleasure to read.

Annnnd here's a quote that really endeared Yeats to me:
Yeats rubbed a hand over his eyes. He had to think. The magic of the house was beyond reckoning; it tore down his defenses and left him numb. No wonder his father was depressed! He had to live in the logical world of the university while knowing what had happened in this room defied common sense. (Please keep in mind this quote is from an Advanced Reader Copy and may differ from the copy to be published.) 
I'd also like to give a shout-out to Yuta Onoda who illustrated the cover art. Definitely keep it in mind to take a look at the cover before and after you start. Just saying. You might be surprised.


I loved this book and although I wish I could tell you more about my favorite parts I don't want to give anything away. The first couple chapters lay the groundwork for the rest of the story, and once Yeats gets going everything else does, too.

This is a book everyone can enjoy.

yes, I'm a geek

I know this may be a little geeky, but this is a book blog, so I think I'm allowed a certain measure of geekiness.

I just finished reading my first galley and I have to tell you guys: I loved it!

An extremely clever book full of adventure and heart.

Curious? I hope so. The review is forthcoming as I want to spent some more time with it, but it's definitely a book I'll be adding to my shelf.

Have a good night, everyone!

Matched & Crossed

Warning: Spoilers for Ally Condie's Matched as well as Beth Revis' Across the Universe ahead.

Today was a day that I knew I had to go to Petsmart to get food for my kitties. Petsmart days are always dangerous because right behind the shop is a Barnes & Noble. I'm currently reading A Feast for Crows which is the fourth book in the fantastic Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin, but as the manuscript had to be split as it was getting too large this book is the first half of what has become two parts of one overall story. It's a bit of a slower read - for me - as I'm reading from the rotating perspective (something GRRM does very well) of characters I only knew peripherally earlier. I needed a bit of a mind break.

The point to all of this is that since I had some other books I knew I wanted to read I popped in for a look. Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde is on my list and that was at the back of the store near the YA...and before I could even get to the fiction I saw the intriguing cover of Ally Condie's Matched. I sat down to read the first couple pages and before long I was 76 pages in on a sunny day. My decision was to check it out from the library and sit outside and read. And I read and read until it was finished.

I really enjoyed this book. Dystopian anything is my favorite genre, books or films, and what really got me about Matched is that it had lots of concepts that other books include, but I felt it did them a little more fluidly. It sort of touched on Lauren Oliver's Delirium  by living in a controlled society and the main female character having met a boy that was from outside of society, but manages to live among the 'normal' population. The poisoning of the elderly and infirm reminded me a bit of Across the Universe.  The characters were nicely developed and the insertion of poetry as a sort of lifeline throughout the story made my heart smile.

Annnd so I'm very much looking forward to the sequel, Crossed. Here's its cover: 




Clean and simple with muted colors to good effect, sort of like The Hunger Games and its use of the mockingjay. With Matched Cassia was in a globe of sorts wearing her pretty - and unique - green dress, reflecting her eyes. Here she's still in the globe but she's beginning to step out and the color scheme is blue like Ky's eyes and so I guess we'll be finding out a bit more about Ky in the sequel.

2011 is a good year for books!


a sneak peak of divergent!

I haven't read this yet for fear that I'd be upset when it ended, but I probably won't be able to hold off for long. For all of us that have been holding out for May: here's something to whet your appetite!



Veronica's also written a small bit in her blog as to why she's named the factions the way she did. Thought given to the smallest thing really speaks well overall for the story.

One of the things that I've been very much looking forward to is the HBO adaptation of Game of Thrones. This book had everything going for it the first time I read it: it was engaging, had developed and interesting interpersonal relationships, intrigue, and a tinge of sadness and regret. All in all it was a realistic portrayal of how people might act within the given circumstances. The story isn't for the faint of heart but if you give it a chance it will probably weasel its way into yours.

Game of Thrones is a book, above all else, about people. People are a many layered thing and so it's in this that I really take my hat off to GRRM.

Not to give so much away, but I'm currently reading A Storm of Swords and from the first book until here I was most taken by his ability to so fully develop the characters that in a blink of chapters someone you thought you knew could make you look again. It's because of this (and the size of the books!) that I thought it would be a difficult translation to the screen, but the first 15 minutes read perfectly: I'm in love with the Starks all over again.

If you'd like to get a glimpse at what the series will look like you can go here to watch. It's certainly worth it.

Winter is coming!

Welcome!

I am presently on hiatus into the foreseeable future. You can find me on twitter, tumblr, or my writing website, wooordsea.com

See you there!

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