Weekly Wrap-up: March 24-30

A great week of reading.

The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter #1) - Megan Shepard: 4 stars. See review.
Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3) - Cassandra Clare: 5 stars. Words can't describe how much I love this series. I laughed. I cried. I cried some more. Seriously, I cried for about 100 pages. A stunning and complete finale to one of my favorite series.
The Fine Art of Truth or Dare - Melissa Jensen - 3 stars. Disappointing insofar as my expectations were too high going into Fine Art, but the last 50-ish pages really made up for a less-than-spectacular start.

Currently reading:
Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality - Elizabeth Eulberg

New to my bookshelf this week:
Firelight (Firelight #1) - Sophie Jordan
Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality - Elizabeth Eulberg
Things I Can't Forget - Miranda Kenneally

Review: The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Rating: 4 stars
Pub Date: January 29, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (and imprint of Harper Collins)
Genre: young adult, science fiction, historical
Format/Source: Hardcover, borrowed from the library
Status: Book 1 of the Madman's Daughter trilogy

In the darkest places, even love is deadly.

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father's gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father's madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island's inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius—and madness—in her own blood.

Inspired by H. G. Wells's classic
The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman's Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we'll do anything to know and the truths we'll go to any lengths to protect.

Let me preface this review with two things: 1. Megan Shepherd has scary thoughts that truly terrify me, and 2. Those thoughts led to the creation of a seriously intriguing, if super creepy, novel.

Authors galore! Multiple signing recaps

In the past month, I have had the incredible pleasure to attend two author events. The first was during the first part of the Dark Days Tour with Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, Tahereh Mafi, and Veronica Rossi. I plane, train and automobiled myself from Dallas to Atlanta (okay, I really just took megabus the Knight Bus and stole borrowed my mom's car) where I had the supreme pleasure of visiting the Little Shop of Stories for the first time. If you're a book lover, this place is where you want to pilgrimmage. The staff is great, and they hold signings and events all. the. time.

The second signing was part of Stephenie Meyer's Host tour, in anticipation of the movie release. Actors Jake Abel and Max Irons were also in attendance (!!!!!!) and this was quite possibly the best-run/most efficient (if long, because that line was ridiculous, although not as long as the one for Richelle Mead last year in Lexington) signing I've ever witnessed. Mad props to the staff at the Lincoln Park Barnes & Noble in Dallas for getting it done!

Weekly Wrap-Up: March 17-23

Very slow reading week because I worked six days in a row. Ready for a nap...and to finish The Madman's Daughter, which is creepy and awesome!

Requiem (Delirium #3) by Lauren Oliver: 3 stars
Doctor Horrible and Other Horrible Stories by Zack Whedon: 5 stars. A GREAT collection of short graphic stories set in the DH universe. I wish they'd been able to do a movie sequel sooner, but I love that the Whedons continued the story in graphic novel form.

Currently Reading:
The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter #1) by Megan Shepard
Shadowhunters and Downworlders edited by Cassandra Clare

New to my bookshelf this week:
Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3) by Cassandra Clare
Origin by Jessica Khoury
Dr. Horrible and Other Horrible Stories by Zack Whedon

Listmania Monday: Anthologies

As you may have noticed, I really like using Listmania Mondays to discuss the changing trends in ya lit as the publishing industry evolves. One of these "new" trends is actually pretty old: anthologies. Classic novelists used to submit short stories to literary magazines to generate a larger readership and now publishers are recycling the trick. There are many reasons for this, I suppose. It's a good way to encourage a particular fandom to buy another book by publishing a series' extra novella (what self-respecting VA fan didn't salivate for months before nabbing Foretold for our long-awaited Rose and Dimitri story?!) OR allowing a truly established author to try something new (Richelle also put out another vampire short story titled "Blue Moon" in the anthology Immortal: Love Stories with Bite, which is FANTASTIC). It's also a good writing exercise for authors interested in a particular subject to band together to spread the word (Holly Black is REALLY good at this). These are a lot of fun, like with Zombies vs. Unicorns but can also be serious and really important like Dear Bully.

I know a lot of readers consider anthologies the publishers' way of sticking it to us and forcing us to buy MORE BOOKS. To those readers I say: 1. Really? You're upset about buying more books? I call that a holiday! Also, usually I call it Tuesday. 2. You don't have to buy the book, you know. This isn't just for anthologies. There are these things called libraries where they give you a card (usually for free) and then give you books to take home (also for free....as long as you bring it back within an agreed-upon time frame). :) Personally, I like anthologies. I love discovering new authors and new stories from my favorite authors. I asked Richelle Mead last year during her Golden Lily tour if she would ever consider turning "Blue Moon" into a full-length novel and she said she'd considered it but had other things on her plate. And you know what? I'm okay with that. It was a great story, and I was satisfied with the ending. I also like having a physical copy of some of the novellas that are part of series like Mead's "Sunshine" (VA prequel story) or Claudia Gray's "Free" (Evernight prequel) etc.

So, friends, are you pro or con anthologies? Got a favorite (mine is Prom Nights from Hell because Meg Cabot and Stephenie Meyer KILLED it with their stories!!)? Did I forget one? Leave me a comment and let me know!

ETA: Yes, I know there are several people who refuse to read any anthology edited by Trisha Telep after the cluster that became of Wicked Pretty Things. This post is not condemning or agreeing with any side; this is simply a list of ya anthologies, and yes, that includes Telep-edited books.

Weekly Wrap-up: March 10-16

I read a lot of books that I don't review here for one reason or another, the foremost being lack of time, so my new weekly meme is Saturday Weekly Wrap-up, where I'll summarize what I've read and what I am currently reading that week.

Goliath (Leviathan #3) by Scott Westerfeld - 5 stars. This trilogy was fantastic. Part historical fiction, part steampunk, and all adventure. I hope to do a review of it as a whole.

Boy Meets Girl and Every Boy's Got One (Boy #2 & 3) by Meg Cabot - 5 stars for both. I love this adorable adult chick lit companion series and read it about once a year.

Currently reading:
Requiem (Delirium #3) by Lauren Oliver
Shadowhunters and Downworlders edited by Cassandra Clare

New to my bookshelf this week:
The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen
Pretty Crooked (Pretty Crooked #1) by Elisa Ludwig
The Innocents (The Innocents #1) by Lili Peloquin

Listmania Monday: Gingers

At some point, blonds stopped being the butt of all hair-related jokes and gingers became the, well, red-headed stepchildren that everybody mocks mercilessly. However, redheads seem to be having a sudden resurgence in popularity with such representatives as Emma Stone, Isla Fisher, Prince Harry, Eddie Redmayne, Ariel, and Merida. As such, many ya authors are getting in on this red-hot ginger action and providing awesome redhaired characters for us to love. Who's your favorite? (If you said Fred Weasley, you are my favorite. Also, dibs!) As always, please let me know who I've left off!

Review: Everbound by Brodi Ashton

Rating: 5 stars
Pub Date: January 22, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (an imprint of HarperCollins Children's)
Genre: young adult, fantasy (mythology), romance
Format/Source: Hardcover, my own copy
Status: Book 2 of the Everneath trilogy

Nikki Beckett could only watch as her boyfriend, Jack, sacrificed himself to save her, taking her place in the Tunnels of the Everneath for eternity — a debt that should’ve been hers. She’s living a borrowed life, and she doesn’t know what to do with the guilt. And every night Jack appears in her dreams, lost and confused and wasting away.

Desperate for answers, Nikki turns to Cole, the immortal bad boy who wants to make her his queen — and the one person least likely to help. But his heart has been touched by everything about Nikki, and he agrees to assist her in the only way he can: by taking her to the Everneath himself.

Nikki and Cole descend into the Everneath, only to discover that their journey will be more difficult than they’d anticipated — and more deadly. But Nikki vows to stop at nothing to save Jack — even if it means making an incredible sacrifice of her own.

In this enthralling sequel to
Everneath, Brodi Ashton tests the bonds of destiny and explores the lengths we’ll go to for the ones we love.

Wow. Just...wow. A lot of people like to complain about sequels, describing this phenomenon as the "second book syndrome" as if it's the author's fault and not the fact that 1. as readers, our expectations are usually ridiculously high and 2. obviously in a trilogy or other more-than-just-two-books series, there's no way the author can give us a happily-ever-after kind of ending...yet. So I've decided to go into reading second books with a more positive attitude...and I gotta say this more open perspective has been paying off for the past two months as I've been treated to some real winners like Prodigy and Through the Ever Night. Now, I liked Everneath and I liked Neverfall so I had a feeling I'd like Everbound. I just wasn't sure how much. However, Brodi Ashton blew my expectations away with Everbound. Seriously, this was a great read. 

Retro Review: Forever by Judy Blume

RATING: 4/5 stars
PUB DATE: June 3, 2005 (first pub 1975)
PUBLISHER: Pan Children's
GENRE: young adult, classic contemporary, realistic, romance
FORMAT: Hardcover, borrowed from the library

Forever is one of those books where I didn't enjoy it so much as recognize its significance in the world of young adult literature, which is what really earned it those 4 stars. And, as most of you know, this book was originally published in 1975. So why am I reviewing it? Well, every so oftem, there are books so good, so interesting, or so important to the young adult genre that I'm going to review them regardless of when they were published. These reviews I will call my "Retro Reviews" and I'm going to make that a Thursday meme (but not a weekly one). Anywho, Forever seriously blew the lid off the sex-in-ya discussion, which is why it's still so relevant to both literature and real life for teens today.

Birthday Bonanza Giveaway

Check HERE for open giveaways

So first of all, let me apologize for not being around so much and my lack of posting during February. My work schedule and family business has been CRAZY so unfortunately, my new blog had to take a bit of a backseat. :( I'm hoping that's not going to happen again, and I'm trying to take some actions to safeguard against that.

Now, in lieu of my weekly Listmania post, I thought I'd so something much cooler and more fun. See, tomorrow, March 5 is my 25th birthday! It's kind of the end of an era and the beginning of another. That's why I thought I'd do another giveaway! Two of my favorite authors are having book birthdays tomorrow: Lauren Oliver is finishing up the Delirium trilogy with Requiem and Claudia Gray is publishing the first book in her long-awaited new series Spellcaster. End of one series, beginning of another. Perfect books to give away on my quarter-of-a-century.