Behind the Scenes

When I look for ARCs to request, I usually look for new authors or first books in a series. Sometimes it is painful–because I often get hooked on a run that won’t release the second book for a long time! But, it is worth it to discover the next big thing that I wouldn’t ordinarily pick up, or be way behind in a trend (which I always seem to be).

But…guys, I goofed. I accidentally picked one that was the second in a series. OOPS! Easy fix though–my library had the first book in stock, so I picked it up and took it to town. (Oh darn, I had to read just one more book, right? LOL!)

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Behind the Scenes was a quick read, too. This New Adult fiction novel was instantly addictive, just like the gossip columns that Ally so desperately tries to avoid. She just wants a “normal” life. Go to prom, graduate, fulfill her dream of a Columbia education. But that is impossible with a best friend who just got a leading role in the next big TV drama, and a dad with terminal cancer. Not only that, but the very HOT male co-star is paying a lot of attention to her off camera.

This book is so fun. It’s definitely not something I would normally pick up, but honestly, I loved it. I will say that some parts did frustrate me about Ally’s character. She would be hurting, upset jealous. She’d be thinking about her dying father–and then Liam would say “Come take your pants off,” and she’d come running, no matter what was going on at home or what he’d done to upset her. It made me what to scream at her to stand up for herself and trust her gut.

So, my Mama Bear instincts came out a bit, but that just means I really got sucked in. I am super looking forward to book #2, so I may jump right in to that next! Watch for the review soon!

 

The Prince and the Pauper

Sometimes I wonder if kids today still get the same stories that we grew up on. Remember Velveteen Rabbit? That was always my favorite. Or The Little Engine that Could, Babar the Elephant, The Giving Tree? Are those still around? Do kids even know what Aesop’s Fables are anymore, or is it just that Mama Llama book every day?

That is maybe the only thing I miss about not having kids of my own–sharing my stories. I have nieces and nephews, but it’s not quite the same when you aren’t there to read to them every night.

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The Prince and the Pauper is one of those stories I remember hearing at some point. Or maybe it was just seeing the Mickey Mouse version. But I know that story by heart, and as I was reading Mark Twain’s book, I kept wondering if my littles would ever hear this one.

Another thought I had while reading it–I never realized before that this was a legend of Henry VIII’s son. As much as I love his court, I didn’t make the connection. This was apparently Mark Twain’s first attempt at historical fiction, and it’s such a silly little tale, but I quite enjoyed reading the full version. I will say that it is much more…vivid…than the Disney version! Not such a kid’s story, this one.

If you are as in love with Henry’s court as I am, this is worth the read. Mark Twain is so much more than Huck Finn. Who knew?

The Hogwarts Library

I touched a bit on my excitement for expanded series when I reviewed Four recently. JK Rowling is the master of pleasing her fandom with Pottermore. She also put out The Hogwarts Library, as a nod to Hermoine. These three short books raise proceeds for Comic Relief and Lumos. None of the books take long to read, but are a marvelous edition to the original series. For us die hard fans–they definitely tickle our need for everything magical.

Quidditch Through the Ages

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To be honest…Quidditch was my least favorite part of Harry Potter. I think it is mostly because no matter what happened Griffindor ALWAYS won (or almost always). Kind of takes the fun out of the sport, doesn’t it? I mean, high school sports are always full of drama, but there was always so much nastiness in it.

Still, reading about the history of Quidditch was pretty interesting. I have a better grasp on the teams now, when they go to the big cup game, and I am firmly against baskets! My favorite part was reading about the cranky old witch who wrote the first game down in her diary. Damn idiot boys throwing leather balls into her garden!

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

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The middle book in the set is pretty much just an encyclopedia of the different creatures in the wizarding world. While the descriptions of some of the beasts are interesting, there’s really not much to it. (Although someone’s been up to some mischief with a quill…) I am curious to see how they will turn this A-Z reference guide into a movie, and how many of the critters will make it!

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

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Being the great lover of fairy tales that I am, this book was my favorite of the three. How amusing to read stories where the witches are the protagonist, instead of the evil ones like in the fable we grew up with! Of course, The Tale of the Three Brothers was familiar, but The Fountain of Fair Fortune was the one I loved the most. It was such an uplifting story.

The commentary by Dumbledore added so much more to the book too. Like all the others in The Hogwarts Library–it’s sometimes easy to forget that these aren’t genuine nonfiction. More than once, out of habit, I started to add one of the notated books to my Goodreads, only to blink into reality and facepalm myself. Those aren’t real reference books! For hardcore Harry Potter fans like myself, the Library only extends our world just a bit further…and our madness too. It just can’t be helped.

I would encourage any fan of the original series to pick these up. They are cute, look great on a shelf, and support great charities for kids in need. And that’s something Dumbledore would have been pretty proud of.

 

The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Geeks

HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY!

JUMPS UP AND WAVES ERRATICALLY AT ALL MY FELLOW GIRL GEEKS, NERDS, OBSESSIVE LOVERS OF EVERYTHING.

I HAVE FOUND THE FANGIRL FEMINIST BIBLE.

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*phew* Ok. I’m tired now. Sometimes being that enthusiastic can be exhausting, but this book gave me ALL THE FEELS. Because ladies, it is all about us! And it’s amaaaaazing. I’m not kidding, I was internally screaming the whole time I was reading, like FINALLY someone stood up and said HEY! We need this. We deserve this. This is ours.

I basically want to post myself at the doorway of every high school and just hand out copies of this book. Because girls need to read it. It would change so many young girls’ attitudes about so many things.

I should probably tell you about it, huh? *deep breath* Ok. Calming down. Just a little bit though.

Sam Maggs is a fan girl. And like many of us, she’s gotten all of the resistance from the patriarchy about being a “fake geek girl.” What even is that anyway? Ugh. So, she’s written a book about how to fly our fan girl flag so high that the guys can have absolutely nothing to say about us being fake. Because we are pretty freaking awesome, ladies, and we should show it.

This book covers all the bases of geek–from cosplay to Tumblr, cons to YA lit. But the real underlying theme is confidence and feminism. It’s time to believe in ourselves and stop letting the world outside tear us down and stop us from being who we really want to be. The most wonderful thing about being a geek is that we love something with everything we have, which makes us different than anybody else. Why not show everyone what that one thing is?

If you couldn’t tell, I really loved this book. It’s coming out on May 12, and you bet I’m going to have this one on my shelf. Are you a fan girl? FLY THAT FLAG!

 

Fulfills PopSugar #24:  A book based entirely on its cover

NetGalley provided this ARC for an unbiased review.

The Book of Dragons

Long before Smaug, there were fairy tale princesses, locked up in dragon proof towers. There were princes to save them, and then dragons were always mean and scary.

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E. Nesbitt’s versions of these tales were fun to read. They were the same prince and princess and dragon motifs, but the stories were not quite so predictable. First and foremost, the princess was not always helpless. Often she was smart, and while she may not beat the dragon all on her own…she does help quite a bit. Also, the dragon is not always completely bad–more of a misunderstood creature. Sure, it has an appetite for whole towns, but it’s a HUGE animal! I can see how that could make it feared among humans, but in one of the stories it just thinks that is normal behavior. But, it is a loving mother, and also extremely gullible.

Overall these were very sweet stories that any elementary aged kid would like. I could imagine reading these as bedtime stories to any little adventurer.

Four

Once a book was published, that used to be the final word from the author. Fans were left to speculate on what happened in the background–I mean, that is what fandom is for, right?

But we’ve become so obsessed with our theories and fanfiction that the authors are starting to catch on to our games. It is becoming profitable now for them to release extensions of their original books and series so that we can keep going with our favorite characters and worlds.

And…WE LOVE IT!

JK Rowling teases us relentlessly with Pottermore. Patrick Rothfuss gave us Auri’s story while we wait for the third Kingkiller Chronicle. George RR Martin put out a huge encyclopedia of his World of Ice & Fire.

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Veronica Roth was not to be left behind. Four tells the same story as Divergent but from Tobias’ point of view. It is a bit of a prequel and a bit of a mirror. The writing is the same, fantastic action drama. A few of the pieces don’t QUITE line up, because Roth did originally start Divergent from this perspective, before switching to Tris, but it’s just a really cool way to read the story.

My only wish now is to get this from one of the antiheroes. Can we have Peter, PLEASE?!?!?! I would LOVE to get inside his twisted little brain. Or Caleb, so we can watch is brutal betrayal. There’s so many options for rewrites!

Sigh…I know it’s a long shot. See what happens when you give the fandom a little something extra? We never can get enough!

 

Fulfills PopSugar #5:  A book with a number in the title

Fairest

With the release of the new Winter cover, and all the controversy that caused yesterday, what a better time to read the 4th book from The Lunar Chronicles.

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I’ll be honest, when I first saw the new cover, I thought WOW! How striking! And someone posted a picture of it on their tablet, and I think the glowing apple and the purply pink color was made for an iPad or Kindle Fire. It looked fierce and really shined on that tablet. However, after I read some of the breakdowns and discussions, I do agree that next to the other four, darker hardcovers, it is going to look weird. It is not as ethereal as the others, and the hand is definitely Levana…not Winter. Which ok–except Levana had her time to shine in Fairest.

So…striking cover for a tablet…just not quite right to mesh with the other books. Ok, assessment over.

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As far as Fairest goes–it was a decent prequel. It did fill in a few of the details from how Levana became the evil witch we know her to be. However, some of it seemed a little too quickly written or edited or something. I had to reread a few parts to see if I had just misunderstood a tense or a phrase or a queue, and it just didn’t quite make sense. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was wrong, other than it just didn’t seem to fit.

One last thing. If you’re looking to start this series, keep in mind that Fairest is a prequel, but do not start there. Start with Cinder. Don’t read this one until after Cress or things won’t quite make sense and you will be spoiled.

 

Fulfills Popsugar #16:  A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet

All the Rage

My brain is screaming right now.

I should have been prepared for it. I should have.

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I’ve been hearing people talk about this book for a week. And I’ve been watching Courtney Summers tweet about it for longer than that.

But I wasn’t ready. Not for this.

Holy Jesus this was a damn good book. Think New Adult Gone Girl. That kind of heart racing suspense thriller. The entire time my brain was going “Is she killing them?” “Who is Kellan?” “Wait, what is going on?” “No, I’m wrong…this is happening…not that other thing….wait, what?!?!?!”

You are reading this on a Tuesday, but it’s Sunday afternoon when I’m writing this afternoon, and I started the book this morning. I’ve spent the last 4 hours with my Kindle glued to my hands. Once you pick this book up, you will not put it down.

I do have some bad news for you. All the Rage doesn’t get released until April 14. I KNOW! I’m so sorry. I was one of the lucky ones to get an ARC for this.

But, I do also have some good news. Courtney has been tweeting THIS LINK all week. She’s giving away a free copy of one of her previous books with any preorder. And trust me, you will want to order this book. DO IT.

 

Disclaimer:  I got a free ARC from NetGalley for this review.

Fulfills PopSugar #17:  A book a friend recommended

Cress

So what do you get when you combine Firefly with fairy tales, and add in a bit of Star Wars for flavor?

You get The Lunar Chronicles. Specifically, Cress. 

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The drama really picks up in this third book, and it is so freaking cool. I’m not kidding about the Firefly angle either. So much awesome space nerdness going on–I kept expecting Malcolm and crew to pop up somewhere and cause mischief. Thorne reminds me a lot of Mal, actually.

This is the longest book in the series, but I couldn’t put it down. The crew is running around pretty much nonstop the whole time, so it is very fast-paced. You never know what crazy plan is going to come up next, or what is, of course, going to go wrong with that plan.

Meyer is leading up to the eventual Lunar Wars, so there’s a pretty big cliffhanger at the end of this. I’m interested to see whether Fairest is a continuation/fourth book, or if it’s a prequel, companion book, or how it fits in. I know she’s working on Winter currently as an end to everything. I’ll be reading Fairest in a week or so, so I’ll let you know! (And yes, I could just look it up, but that’s no fun!)

Fulfills PopSugar #32:  A trilogy

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There are a lot of series out there who suffer from “Second Book Syndrome.” That sophomore part of the set just always seems to be mundane, usually because it’s a means to the end. The scene was set and characters introduced in the first book, and all the major drama and climaxes will happen in the third book. But in the second, all of the details are given. This is where all the real meat of the plot happens, and often a lot of the dialogue. Unfortunately, though, this can often make the second book very dull.

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When I started hearing about Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, the most common theme was:  “The second book is better than the first!” “The series just keeps getting better!” “The first book was just ok, but the second book is going to blow you away!”

And then I read Cinder, and loved it. I mean, hello, futuristic badass cyborg Cinderella? Yes, please. So how was Meyer going to top that?!

Oh, only with a gardening pilot Red Riding Hood who falls in love with a secret agent Wolfman. That’s one way of doing it.

If you haven’t read these souped up fairy tales yet, what are you waiting for? I just ordered the whole series (or what I could…the last book hasn’t been published yet), and I am going to gobble them up like breakfast.

 

Fulfills PopSugar #35:  A book set in the future