book review: not even bones by rebecca schaeffer

Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer
HMH Books for Young Readers, 368 pp.
Published September 4, 2018

Nita doesn’t murder supernatural beings and sell their body parts on the internet—her mother does that. Nita just dissects the bodies after they’ve been “acquired.” Until her mom brings home a live specimen and Nita decides she wants out; dissecting a scared teenage boy is a step too far. But when she decides to save her mother’s victim, she ends up sold in his place—because Nita herself isn’t exactly “human.” She has the ability to alter her biology, a talent that is priceless on the black market. Now on the other side of the bars, if she wants to escape, Nita must ask herself if she’s willing to become the worst kind of monster.

blog tour: the sacrifice box + q&a with martin stewart

The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart
Viking Books for Young Readers, 368 pp.
Published August 28, 2018

A horror story about friendship, growing up, and finding a place in the world: Gremlins meets The Breakfast Club by way of Stephen King and Stranger Things.

1982, the summer before seventh grade. Five kids with nothing in common--Sep, Arkle, Hadley, Lamb, and Mack--become instant friends. On the last day of summer, they find a stone box buried in the forest, and each places an object inside to seal their friendship. And they make rules:

Never come to the box alone. 
Never open it after dark. 
Never take back your sacrifice.

1986, the summer before eleventh grade. The five haven't spoken since that day in 1982. Sep has gone through the past four years alone and plans to escape to boarding school. But strange things are happening--mirrors are breaking unexpectedly, electricity is flickering in and out, and people are coming down with inexplicable physical ailments.

Someone has broken the rules. And it seems the five committed more than objects to the box's ancient stone--they gave it their deepest secrets and darkest fears, and now these are being returned in a flood of shambling corpses, murderous toys, and undead pets. The gang must reunite in an attempt to discover the secrets of the sacrifice box--and Sep might be the only one who can stem its tide of evil before it's too late.

state of the arc #8

State of the ARC is a monthly meme hosted by Avalinah's Books. It's a way to track your reading progress and see how fellow book bloggers are doing as well.

The rules for State of the ARC are quite simple; I couldn't put them any better than Evelina already has:
  • Mention that you’re linking up with State of the ARC @ AvalinahsBooks, which is a fun way to share our ARC progress, challenges, wins, woes and mishaps.
  • Include the link to this post, or the current State of the ARC post. You can use my State of the ARC image too.
  • Don’t forget to visit all the other people in the link-up and comment.
  • And most importantly – have fun!

book review: city of ghosts by victoria schwab

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
Scholastic Press, 272 pp.
Published August 28, 2018

DISCLAIMER: I received a free physical ARC of this title from the publisher for review consideration. This did not inform or influence my opinion in any way.

Cassidy Blake's parents are The Inspectres, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

When The Inspectres head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn't sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn't belong in her world. Cassidy's powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself.

sunday post #33

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Reviewer. It's a chance to recap posts from the past week and tease upcoming content, as well as share new books, reading challenge progress, and anything else you've come across in the last seven days.

This has been a week of getting work done, both on and away from the computer...just not necessarily for the blog! I had three film reviews expected by Friday, which took up a considerable amount of my free time, and finishing Muse of Nightmares has left with a bit of a reading hangover. Along with not getting much reading done, I'm sorry to say it's been an off-week for blog hopping and replies as well. My hope is to be caught up by this evening, although I have some work-related things to get through as well. However strange it may sound, I missed my blogging friends the last few days!

I did manage to make time to go and see Christopher Robin, which was positively adorable. The computer animation was gorgeous and I loved the theme of returning to the important lessons of childhood. Eeyore is totally my adult #aesthetic, too. I really sympathize with his benignly gloomy outlook 😂

book review: mirage by somaiya daud

Mirage by Somaiya Daud
Flatiron Books, 320 pp.
Published August 28, 2018

DISCLAIMER: I received a free physical ARC of this title from the publisher for review consideration. This did not inform or influence my opinion in any way.

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection...because one wrong move could lead to her death.

down the tbr hole #23

As my Goodreads to-read shelf creeps closer to 500 books, I've been eyeing it with a growing feeling of apprehension. It would take forever to get through so many...and that's not counting all of the new books I hear about along the way. Thankfully I discovered Lost In A Story's series (by way of Boston Book Reader) at the beginning of the year and it sounds like a great way to trim down my TBR.

The guidelines, per Lost In A Story, are simple:
  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf
  • Order on ascending date added
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?
I'll be going through 10 books every week, meaning it should take me almost the whole year to reach the end! If you'd like to do this yourself, be sure to visit Lost In A Story's original post and let her (and me!) know you'll be joining in the fun.

book review: strange the dreamer by laini taylor

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Hodder & Staughton, 536 pp.
Published March 27, 2017

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around - and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he's been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries - including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo's dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.

sunday post #32

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Reviewer. It's a chance to recap posts from the past week and tease upcoming content, as well as share new books, reading challenge progress, and anything else you've come across in the last seven days.

Yesterday I bid an unofficial farewell to summer at an annual pool party that doubles as a fundraiser for a local charity! It's held at one of the nice old hotels north of downtown and, provided you show up early enough to stake out a good spot, it makes for some fun people watching while sipping on a cold drink in the pool. You also need to be smart enough to leave before too many guests have had one too many cold drinks in the pool, but that's another story...

I also broke out of my film-going rut and saw Mission Impossible: Fallout earlier in the week. When I was younger, I didn't really enjoy Tom Cruise's movies (with a couple of exceptions) but I've warmed to him in the last few years. Overall MI:6 was a great deal of fun, particularly watching it on an enormous screen with surround sound, and I'll never not be impressed with the practical stunts on display. This coming week I hope to make it back to the theater for The Meg and Christopher Robin...and keep avoiding the heat that just won't quit!

book review: vicious by v.e. schwab

Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Titan Books, 420 pp.
Published May 29, 2018

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

fantasy re-tellings i want to read!

Re-telling familiar fairy tales and fables has been popular for quite some time among authors, usually with an eye to update some of the older themes and gender roles for a modern audience. With such classic tales, every reader brings their own memories, experiences, and opinions to the table, making a reinvention of the original story a difficult process. One of the things I love most about these sorts of stories is how much room they allow for playing with tropes and subverting the expectations they raise, although not every author will tackle the same subjects that I most enjoy (naturally!).

This got me thinking: what are some of the ways I would re-visit these old stories, given the chance? I've put together some ideas of both popular and less well-known fairy tales that I think could do with a modern update and given them my own, personal spin.

book review: baby teeth by zoje stage

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage
St. Martin's Press, 320 pp.
Published July 17, 2018

DISCLAIMER: I received a free physical ARC of this title from the publisher for review consideration. This did not inform or influence my opinion in any way.

Sweetness can be deceptive.

Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette's husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.

sunday post #31

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Reviewer. It's a chance to recap posts from the past week and tease upcoming content, as well as share new books, reading challenge progress, and anything else you've come across in the last seven days.

It rained, it rained, it rained!! It's still raining as I type this beside the open shutters of a bedroom window, Sense and Sensibility playing softly on the television behind me while I try to catch up on all sorts of writing. All in all I've had a quiet week, although one unexpected phone call did deliver some momentary drama. Last summer, an Uber I was riding in got rear-ended on the highway. Because no one was injured (and it wasn't my car/I wasn't driving) and my mother is a notorious fretter, I never brought it up.

Apparently the insurance companies are still hashing out a payment though, because the other driver's agent somehow found my parent's unlisted home phone number and called looking for me! So...that caused a fuss. I was especially peeved since I made sure to leave my personal contact information with the responding officer, just in case something like this happened. The agent requested a written statement of what I remembered from the incident that I need to proofread and send off soon, although I'll admit instigating a minor family drama doesn't exactly encourage me to pick up the pace...

review: daughter of the burning city by amanda foody

Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody
Harlequin Teen, 384 pp.
Published July 25, 2017

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.

bookshelves tour: part 3

About a month ago I moved a third bookshelf into my room. With glass doors on the top shelves and cabinets at the bottom, I could finally move some of my collectible titles into safer storage and reorganize my other two shelves! It took a little time to decide exactly how I wanted things to look and, finally, I decided on function over form. (How can you bear to break up a series just to make a rainbow?? HOW?!?)

While they may not go in Roy G. Biv order there is still an abundance of pretty books to see! Size constraints mean that some shelves are still mismatched from where I'd truly like them to be; on the bright side, however, books are no longer stacked on my floor—or on top of one another in the shelves, either!

This is the final bookshelf on the tour and it houses some of my most treasured reads. I'm so excited to share them with you!

book review: rust & stardust by t. greenwood

Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood
St. Martin's Press, 352 pp.
Published August 7, 2018

DISCLAIMER: I received a free physical ARC of this title from the publisher for review consideration. This did not inform or influence my opinion in any way.

Camden, NJ, 1948.

When 11 year-old Sally Horner steals a notebook from the local Woolworth's, she has no way of knowing that 52 year-old Frank LaSalle, fresh out of prison, is watching her, preparing to make his move. Accosting her outside the store, Frank convinces Sally that he’s an FBI agent who can have her arrested in a minute—unless she does as he says.

This chilling novel traces the next two harrowing years as Frank mentally and physically assaults Sally while the two of them travel westward from Camden to San Jose, forever altering not only her life, but the lives of her family, friends, and those she meets along the way.

Please note that Rust & Stardust is a fictionalized account of the true story behind the abduction and abuse of an adolescent girl. While neither the novel nor this review discuss the crimes in explicit detail, please carefully consider your personal limits and preferences before choosing to continue reading.

sunday post #30

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Reviewer. It's a chance to recap posts from the past week and tease upcoming content, as well as share new books, reading challenge progress, and anything else you've come across in the last seven days.

Another easy week gliding by here, punctuated by dinner with old friends and a mid-morning break to indulge in a mani/pedi at my favorite salon. For dinner we tried a popular dive bar that's famous for their pizzas—and rightly so! By a bit of good luck, we planned our get-together for a day when the triple-digit heat broke and temperatures never rose out of the low nineties. At dusk, under a shaded patio with some fans blowing, it was positively delightful weather!

It was also nice dropping back in to my usual nail salon, which I haven't visited that often the last few months. I'd just wound up spending that portion of my "fun money" on other things...such is adult life and budgets, sadly. Even small changes like a pedicure or properly filed nails can make a world of difference, though, and I've had a little more bounce in my step after pampering myself.

book review: seafire by natalie c. parker

Seafire by Natalie C. Parker
Razorbill, 384 pp.
Published August 28, 2018

DISCLAIMER: I received a free physical ARC of this title from the publisher for review consideration. This did not inform or influence my opinion in any way.

After her family is killed by corrupt warlord Aric Athair and his bloodthirsty army of Bullets, Caledonia Styx is left to chart her own course on the dangerous and deadly seas. She captains her ship, the Mors Navis, with a crew of girls and women just like her, whose lives have been turned upside down by Aric and his men. The crew has one misson: stay alive, and take down Aric's armed and armored fleet.

But when Caledonia's best friend and second-in-command just barely survives an attack thanks to help from a Bullet looking to defect, Caledonia finds herself questioning whether or not to let him join their crew. Is this boy the key to taking down Aric Athair once and for all...or will he threaten everything the women of the Mors Navis have worked for?

#bookishwish: what is it and how do i join in?

If you participate in the Twitter book community, you may have noticed a new hashtag going around recently: #bookishwish. What is it? Who can participate? What are the rules? Don't worry—even if it looks intimidating at first, this new hashtag is a distillation of all the kindness and generosity the bookish community has to offer, and it's very easy to join in the fun!

book review: grace and fury by tracy banghart

Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 320 pp.
Published July 31, 2018

DISCLAIMER: I received a free eARC of this title from the publisher via NetGalley for review consideration. This did not inform or influence my opinion in any way.

In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi Tessaro face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other in prison.

Serina has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace--someone to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. But when her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, catches the heir's eye, it's Serina who takes the fall for the dangerous secret that Nomi has been hiding.

Now trapped in a life she never wanted, Nomi has only one way to save Serina: surrender to her role as a Grace until she can use her position to release her sister. This is easier said than done. A traitor walks the halls of the palace, and deception lurks in every corner. But Serina is running out of time, imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive and one wrong move could cost her everything.