Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bits of Books: Splintered, Cruel Beauty, Bewitching

I've read bad books, and great ones... but what inevitably results from this obsession is a high mortality rate, of books whose characters and plots just haven't rendered lively enough engagement with me, as a reader,  to warrant greater discussion. Still, they're books just the same, and I spent enough time reading them that they deserve to be noticed. So, here's some recent reads I'll take the time to gloss over. 


Alice in Wonderland gets reworked for the Hot-Topic-circa-2004 crowd when high school sk8r gurl Alyssa Gardner starts hearing the voices of bugs and flowers - the same delusions that got her mom holed up in a mental institution - and is thus forced to follow a crazy prophecy down the rabbit hole to a world that feels eerily familiar (and should to everyone). 

I was pretty excited for this one, because A. Hype and B. Alice, which are both kind of hit-and-miss subjects for me that invariably incite a lot of enthusiasm, especially with me having just done a College Fashion post oriented around Wonderland. Unfortunately, a half-baked plot, loose storytelling, ridiculous love triangle, and strangle-worthy characters constantly making bad decisions left me frustrated, and wondering whether the world really needed another Alice adaptation (I'm thinking no).  Goodreads Rating: 2.0. 


Mixing Greco-Roman mythology and Victorian culture with the kind of history-oriented dystopia and world-building that might make George R. R. Martin confused, Cruel Beauty follows Nyx, a young girl cursed by her father's ineptitude, to marry a monster who has cursed her world so that there is no sun and shadows eat people and stuff, and - because, duh, YA - she falls in love with him. 

This book had so much potential, and for the most part, was decent. I wish they hadn't slapped it with the "Beauty and the Beast" comparison, because there wasn't really much to be compared. Everything went to hell in a hand basket on the third arc. Also, what is said to be a "sexy" plot might also be termed by those with a slightly more well-rounded vocabulary as straight up child endangerment (our main character is seventeen). I have absolutely no idea what bloggers are finding so captivating about this "alluring" master. Ick. Goodreads Rating: 2.0. 


Flipping Alex Flinn's previous best-seller, Beastly, on its head, is Bewitching, which follows the aforementioned novel's big baddie, Kendra the witch, as she attempts to help out yet another kid's life, and inevitably ends up screwing that up, as well. 

For fans of Cinderella stories and way too much middle school angst comes yet another one of Flinn's fairy tale fairly predictable romances. They're good fun and pretty cute, as long as you don't expect too much from them. Unfortunately for me, I was simply expecting a cohesive story line that stuck with its purported narrator for the duration of the trip. I was mistaken. And not only did we get something that defied those basic guidelines, but the story was so generic that I literally read it a very short time ago, and had to re-look up the plot. Not one of Flinn's best, that's for sure. Goodreads Rating: 2.0. 

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? 

Waiting on Wednesday: Don't You Forget About Me

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that gives bloggers the opportunity to highlight upcoming releases about which they are extremely excited. 

I definitely had to take a step back from the bookshelves when visiting Barnes and Noble the other day... after sliding my fingers down one too many spines of Stephen King novels I already knew my father probably had collecting dust and spiders in a box in the garage, I eventually managed to remember that Finals were coming up soon, and it would probably be bad for my grade if I started losing sleep. Best wait until summer then... or maybe just June 10th, when Kate Karyus Quinn's Don't You Forget About Me hits the shelves, too! 

"Welcome to Gardnerville.

A place where no one gets sick. And no one ever dies.

There’s a price to pay for paradise. Every fourth year, the strange power that fuels the town exacts its payment by infecting teens with deadly urges. In a normal year in Gardnerville, teens might stop talking to their best friends. In a fourth year, they’d kill them.

Four years ago, Skylar’s sister, Piper, was locked away after leading sixteen of her classmates to a watery grave. Since then, Skylar has lived in a numb haze, struggling to forget her past and dull the pain of losing her sister. But the secrets and memories Piper left behind keep taunting Skylar—whispering that the only way to get her sister back is to stop Gardnerville’s murderous cycle once and for all." 

Why am I so excited?
Honestly, I've never heard anything like this plot before. Usually I'd immediately pin down the whole "mysterious small town" and "damaged older sibling" tropes and decide this book wasn't worth my time, but damn, if that isn't an intriguing plot! Besides, both this title and Kate Karyus Quinn's previous novel - Another Little Piece - have been well-reviewed for their matching up of contemporary feeling with the creep factor, and I'm definitely feeling the need for some creepiness with these long, comfy summer nights lying in front of me. Bonus points for the incredibly intriguing cover! 

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Stacking the Shelves: Week Eight is Great

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly Saturday book meme from Tynga's Reviews, all about sharing the books you've added to your shelves over the course of the week.

Thank goodness I've actually been getting some reading done lately... mainly because I've realized that my attendance record in my Psych lectures has been improving, as long as I remember to bring my Kindle to class with me! Aren't you proud, Dad? 

And yet, most of my purchases this past week haven't been on my Kindle, thanks to a very forgiving Mom and an hour spent wandering around inside my favorite secondhand bookstore in Tacoma, King's Books! Nine new novels, all for under $50 (I'm a very thrifty person; Lord knows my bookish habits are expensive). And I already know that this haul is going to be a light one, as opposed to next week's, when I take a trip down to Portland, OR... Powell's, HERE I COME. 


Gregory Macguire's Wicked
Steve Martin's An Object of Beauty
Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Angel's Game
Suzanne Young's The Program
Nurakami's Norwegian Wood
Joseph J. Ellis' Founding Fathers: The Revolutionary Generation
The Second Common Reader: Virginia Woolf
The Viking Portable Library: D. H. Lawrence
Agatha Chritie's The Hollow


Ania Ahlborn's The Neighbors
Adelle Waldman's New Year's: Nathaniel P. As Seen Through the Eyes of His Friend Aurit

What did you stack your shelves with this week?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

College Fashion Post Link Up: Alice in Wonderland

 I've been such a good little worker bee lately... well, kind of. At the very least, I've been paying more attention to planning more efficiently, and now, I've found myself with about 70% of my College Fashion posts through 2015 all sorted out! No more struggling through new reads or scrambling to find old ones through which I may interpret new trends in fashion. Instead, nothing but blue skies and easy reading... right? Right?

Alas, such smooth seas were never my lot. I had originally envisioned setting out to write my Alice in Wonderland article - something I've been planning on doing ever since I landed the column-writing position in the first place, last November! - armed with multiple sources, plenty of time on my hands, and a lot of forethought going into the development of one of my favorite literary works. Unfortunately what resulted didn't even allow me the oft-sought chance of even rereading the source material. Stale inspiration and a tight writing schedule resulted in not as much enthusiasm as I would have hoped for in translating such a personally important piece to my College Fashion audience.

And yet, for the most part, I'm decently happy with the results. Or, at the less-personally-involved objective level, my younger sisters approved of it, so at least I know the fashion aspect of it is decent. Undoubtably, there are many aspects of the article I would rather have done contrariwise, like take more inspiration from specific characters, or have the opportunity to integrate more Alice-expert trivia and shoutouts into the looks, but at the very least, I'm proud I got something in by deadline that comes even a hare-width close to the look I was trying to give Wonderland (hare-width, get it?). With any luck at all, the article will be a come-from-behind victory for me, and give me a chance to re-do with an "Alice in Wonderland: Part Two," but we'll have to wait and see if that's anywhere in the cards.

At any rate, here's my favorite look from the Looks from Books: Fashion Inspired by Alice in Wonderland article, riffing off of the various height transformations Alice goes through to result in a look that appropriately mixes the tall and large, with the short and small.
Read the rest of the article here, then tell me what you think! 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Vacationers

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that gives bloggers the opportunity to highlight upcoming releases about which they are extremely excited. 

The sun is out in Seattle, and has been for a week or so now, which is leading me downwards in a summertime spiral which, unfortunately, isn't set to become my home for at least three more weeks. So, while I'm still trapped inside endless Psych lectures, I might as well sneak my Kindle between the pages of my textbook, and dream of summer a little harder, especially because in eight days, on May 29th, 2014, Emma Straub's The Vacationers is published! 

18641982The Posts are in a celebratory mood, as they head off to the beautiful Balearic island of Mallorca, off the coast of Spain, for a vacation with their friends and relatives honoring not only their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, but their daughter, Sylvia, and her graduation from high school. Everything is set for the perfect European adventure for the elite, complete with tapas, tennis courts, blue beaches, and a stunning lack of the Manhattan skylines beneath which tensions have been simmering at home. 

Unfortunately, the friction they've attempted to escape follows them to this idyllic new place, and over the course of the vacation, secrets are exposed, childhood tensions reemerge, and even old wounds are torn open again. As the Post family celebrates their present, they find themselves striving to evade their past, while this unwelcome conflict may be just the thing that allows them a new kind of future. Those glittering waters to which they've journeyed may just allow them to emerge from their vacation renewed in a different way than they imagined. 

Why am I excited?
Well, let's kick it off with the basest of my emotions in regards to this book, and let me say, I'm just excited to see a novel with an American family taking a European vacation, where no one ends up dead, murdered, or involved in some kind of unnecessary foreign espionage (or, on the flip side, with anyone falling in love in the Italian countryside. That one deals less with actual trends in fictionalization, than my mother's attempts to induce me to study abroad next year). Second, DAT COVER DOE. Talk about giving me vacation pains, those waters are glorious. Get me out of school, stat! 

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Bits of Books: Under the Never Sky, Wentworth Hall, Pushing the Limits

I've read bad books, and great ones... but what inevitably results from this obsession is a high mortality rate, of books whose characters and plots just haven't rendered lively enough engagement with me, as a reader,  to warrant greater discussion. Still, they're books just the same, and I spent enough time reading them that they deserve to be noticed. So, here's some recent reads I'll take the time to gloss over. 

11594257UNDER THE NEVER SKY, by Veronica Rossi

A sci-fi dystopian romance, that finds pampered Reverie-dweller Aria winding up in enough trouble to warrant her expulsion to the unlivable wastelands, where she meets hunky savage Perry, and decides to strike back against the government that controls their world, to the expected degree of success in this sort of thing. 

A pretty basic YA dystopian with way too much romance and teens gifted with ridiculous getting-out-of-trouble ability, this novel just couldn't get me invested in either the lead characters or the trouble they were up against. Maybe this was an example of the hype killing off any perspective likability of a book, because the main point of decision-making for even making this Kindle purchase was how much everyone else and their mother seemed to love it... but I remained uninterested and unconvinced. Decent world-building, though. Goodreads Rating: 2.5.

12747188WENTWORTH HALL, by Abby Grahame

A period social drama following the lives of the members of the Wentworth Hall household, a.k.a. "Downton Abbey" for those lacking sense of subtlety or attention span. 

I would be a 100% liar-liar-pants-on-fire if I didn't give the explanation for this Library choice as "an Anna Godberson-esque cover and Downton Abbey references in the description" kind of decision. I could see it from a mile away that this would be a YA foray into hopping on a pop cultural bandwagon, but I had high hopes for it anyways. There were certainly interesting elements within the novel - the integration of a newspaper society satire combing through the family's deep-rooted problems for tabloid fodder, evil twins with money staying as house guests, a mysterious nanny - but none were successfully accomplished. Ended up skipping to end just to say, "Oh, duh. We all saw that coming." Goodreads Rating: 2.   

10194514PUSHING THE LIMITS, by Katie McGarry

Kind-of amnesiac and resident popular-girl-turned-social-pariah Echo Emerson finds her safe haven in the arms of foster kid and bad boy Noah Hutchins, teaches him to love. All we're missing is an unplanned pregnancy and Tori Spelling as the guidance counselor, and we could sell this to Lifetime right now. 

Once again, went in with high hopes, seeing as though most people I've heard pimping this YA romance have said it goes beyond the tropes of its kind to really drive home a message of acceptance and possibility to overcome your circumstances. I'm glad someone's finding solace in this novel, but the entire situation is not only contrived, but one of the most unlikely things I've ever read... and I do fantasy in a big way. If anything, it made me glad that I've managed to get the hell out of high school, because this one turned cafeterias into some kind of proving ground. Goodreads Rating: 3. 

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Character Carry-alls: The One


Just wanted to forewarn you that the content ahead serves as a spoiler for some of the events of The Selection and The Elite, from The Selection series by Kiera Cass, so if you're invested in potentially reading that series at all, then stop where you are! 

So, recently, I finished Kiera Cass' The Selection trilogy-ender The One, and while I didn't necessarily enjoy it, it is indisputable that my mixed-up brain must have liked at least something, due to the fact that I read the whole damn series with a rather exponential amount of urgency upon the publications of each installment. However, the series is over now, and despite the fact that the review is written and the only work I have left are some meager novellas I don't think I'm going to read, I can't seem to let this one go just yet. You see, I've had a new feature idea I've been meaning to try... 

Y'all know my background isn't just in books... I'm a style writer, as well, having written the "Looks from Books" column on College Fashion for about a year-and-a-half now! So, in looking for a new way to explore fiction and fashion, I thought to myself, what do our favorite characters carry with them, as they're living through all these adventures? Hence, "Character Carry-Alls" was born! 

So, in celebrating Maxon's four favorite girls at the center of the intrigue of The One, let's take a peek into their purses! 

First up, CELESTE lives for the attention afforded by being one of the final four, so why not give her a behemoth of a bag, in the form of a gold Valentino snakeskin studded tote. A sparkling Jimmy Choo wallet and Louisa Viaroma sunglasses add luxe touches to an already luxe girl, while smudge-less brick red lip tar from Obsessive Compulsive cosmetics brings the drama. And, of course, homegirl packs her own copies of her precious magazines, and the lifestyles popularized by Vogue and Town & Country would probably remind her of home. 

Second, our heroine AMERICA is one more for the understated look, which is why a regular-sized white chain crossbody from Guess would suit her just fine. Never one for getting over-complicated, a pair of sleek aviators and cherry-flavored Chapstick are all America needs to complete her going-out necessities. A snarky phone case brings out America's rebellious side, while if there's anyone on the Elite who would pack a pair of sensible shoes in her purse, it's the girl who asked for a pair of jeans her first day in the castle. 

Lovely KRISS has always been one for a sunny disposition and cheery demeanor, so a pink and gold embellished bag highlights her girlishness. Packed with a watermelon Lancome Juicy Tube and a pack of super-fresh Orbit gum, Kriss preps for winning over the public with her smile, while a Vera Bradley notebook is perfect for writing about daily life in the Castle. While the other three opt for shady sunnies, Kriss highlights her bright eyes with Bobbi Brown's "Pretty Powerful" mascara

Finally, understated and sophisticated ELISE makes wearing your heart on your sleeve so last season, and her no-nonsense demeanor easily translates to a patent black Vivienne Westwood top-handle bag. Prepared for everything that comes her way, Elise comes equipped with large-and-in-charge tortoiseshell sunnies, YSL shimmery nude lip gloss and Butter London's "All Hail the Queen" nail polish for quick touch ups on the go, and, naturally, an emergency pair of statement earrings... just in case. There's honor in looking good for everything. *wink* 

So, what do you think of this new feature? What do you think Maxon's girls carry in their purses? And whose purse do you want a peek in next? 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Review: The One

15844362I'm going to start this out on a foot of objectivity and inoffensiveness, by saying, I'm well aware this series has a large fanbase. I know you're out there, you've been plenty vocal on Goodreads, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and more. You guys aren't just there, you're active. Books don't just appear on the New York Times Bestseller Lists... there are many people out there who love this book and enjoy this series, and I acknowledge not only your presence, but your success at ensuring this book does well on the major markets.

Now, I'm getting personal. I am NOT one of those people. I think this book series has a lot of issues, and I mentioned as much in my original review of The Selection, the first book in the series. I didn't even bother writing a review for the novel's sequel, I thought it was such a waste of my time. And I'd clearly like to state, that despite the fact that the fan base is rather large, that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of people also taking my side of the discussion.

In fact, two of those people are members of my sorority (and I realize how lucky I am to have them). As you might imagine, we have had A LOT to say to each other about this series. Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with one of said friends, and sort of casually book-club The One. Thanks to the nature of Facebook conversations, I was provided with documentation. 

The major complaints we found with The One are organized in order discussed:
  • That Epilogue was 21 flavors of unnecessary and 50 shades of "well,duh." 
  • If you haven't been calling the resolution of this epic fail of a love triangle since Day One, then you just haven't been paying attention.
  • It was almost like there was a specific amount of page space she was allowed to take up with actual plot, and in attempt to control quantity rather than quality, a plot bomb exploded, and irregular plot pacing, new characters, old characters, and new narrative elements were sent careening through the novel. 
  • Meanwhile, during one of the most climatic parts of the novel, our main character is trapped in a closet. *cue R. Kelly track* 
  • The deaths of some major characters left us not unsteady or shocked... but giggling. Really, you're going to kill off a major character in a supposedly-dystopian Universe due to some "heart trouble"? 
  • America manages to finagle her way into a scrape in a back alley, and suffers some kind of misguided epiphany, all "Yes, a bullet barely grazed my shoulder, and now I'm getting stitches... I suddenly understand the plights of all people #enlightenment" (That may be paraphrasing, but the sentiment is there). 
  • Meanwhile, several revelations come into play, where it is discovered that specific people close to America were secretly Rebels all along... and it doesn't freaking matter. Literally, at all. No one cares.
  • At certain times, where major characters' lives are hanging in the balance, you almost want to smack them for being so over dramatic, when clearly, they are not going to die. 
  • And, of course, the "death monologue" being one of my least favorite and the dumbest plot devices ever written, made everything even more absolutely melodramatic and ridiculous. 
  • At the end, you were kind of left just asking... so what? What happened to the prisoner? What's happening with Kriss, who had some secrets of her own come to light? And Aspen, Maxon and America all get conveniently happy endings? NOTHING MATTERED.

So, all of those arguments aside, let's just cut to basic facts. I didn't like this book. In fact, I didn't like the one before it either, nor did I like The Selection. Naturally, the inherent argument against my opinions is present with how well I know the subject matter. How can I argue that this series isn't worth reading, is so poorly constructed, is so without valuable material that you shouldn't even try to pass it off on a younger sister, when I clearly myself read the entire series without DNFing? Why do I keep insisting it has no redeemable qualities, when I so obviously had something keeping me tethered to the series?

I'm not going to lie, about any of it. The plot is not well constructed. The characterizations are awful. The novel follows through with just about every cliche in the novelist's handbook... nothing is new or unexpected. And yet, I didn't just purchase all three... I pre-ordered two of them, and read them both on the days they came out. This series was one I looked forward to, actively, despite its flaws. I don't know what kept me so addicted, but I was. I wholeheartedly bought into everything surrounding this series, even though I didn't like it, at all. It's honestly something I'm still trying to figure out.

Therefore, due to my significant background with this series, I especially feel well-supported when I can definitely say this: Kiera Cass grew as an author throughout the production of this series. There were marked improvements between the three installments of this series, with complexities of language and plot escalating, as well as attention paid to not only reader feedback, but especially the demand for stakes and danger, as befitting the ties to the dystopian genre. While we definitely had problems with The One just as much as we had with The Selection, there were deliberate efforts made for improvement, and that's what I not only want to specifically acknowledge, but encourage. Cass is reasonably new to the game, and is definitely going to be someone continuing to work on the YA scene. She's going to get better. So, congrats to Cass.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Girls at the Kingfisher Club

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that gives bloggers the opportunity to highlight upcoming releases about which they are extremely excited. 

I already mentioned last week how I was feeling a bit of a craving for fairy tale fodder, and that feeling is far from going away, now that the sun in shining and I've seen both a bluebird and a red-winged blackbird in one day. My newest novel on the TBR-list promises just that, meshing the world of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" with the excitement of the Big Apple during Prohibition, with The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, by Genevieve Valentine, set for publication this upcoming June 3rd, 2014. 

17158540When their father isn't looking, the Hamilton Girls escape the constraints of their father's townhouse, into the speakeasies of the busy Big Apple. Jo - the firstborn, and the closest thing the other ten have to a mother - was the mastermind behind the sojourns into actual society, teaching them how to dance, and giving the signal for each night's excursion into the world of which their father would never approve. Swanning about town, from Salon Renaud to the Swan, the Funeral Parlor Supper Club to the Kingfisher Club, the one club they call home, these girls surround themselves with a sumptuous extravagance, a fantasy to free their minds from the control of their demanding father. 

That is, until the day he decides they should all be married off. 

But still, the girls dance, and when they are caught in a raid by the Prohibition police, they are separated, and suddenly, Jo comes face-to-face with a man from the past, a bootlegger named Tom who she hasn't seen in years. Now, Jo doesn't just have to remember to protect her sisters, but protect her heart, as well. 

Why am I so excited? 

Well, let's be real, I'm kind of hoping this preoccupation with the Jazz Age is on its way out, because in terms of randomized adoption of particular time periods, the bastardization of that particular point in history by pop culture in the early 2010's is almost as annoying as when we did it with the '80s in the late 2000's. However, this seems like a sweet send-up of a tale that isn't told all that often, which also happens to be one of my favorites. Can't wait! 

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Almost Put Down (But Didn't)

"Top Ten Tuesday" is a weekly countdown meme, hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

Just earlier this week, after regaining my reader appetite after the fluffy marshmallow of a novel that was The One, I immediatley tucked into Cruel Beauty, by Rosamund Hodge... and found it sticking in my throat a bit. However, I finished the novel, and enjoyed it pretty well. Therefore, it's only fitting that this week's Top Ten Tuesday Topic was books that almost ended up on the DNF pile... but managed to pull through!
Cruel Beauty, Rosamund Hodge
A slow starter, with a little too much hype in the way, and conflicting accounts of what the story was based off of... for instance, people described it to me as Beauty and the Beast, but having been scholastically involved with the cultural intimacies and history behind that particular fairy tale, I can say with no short amount of certainty that it would have been much better to have ascribed it to Greco-Roman mythologies. 
Final Decision: Glad I Finished.

Timebound, Rysa Walker
Yet another slow starter, with some weird world building, especially due to the fact that time travel is involved. Time travel is just so freakin' aggravational.
Final Decision: Glad I Finished. 

Bossypants, Tina Fey
This might get me some heat, but by about 20% into this set of comedian memoirs (which is one of my favorite splinter genres!) I was tired of Fey's endless quipping... less jokes, more story! There just wasn't really much emotional "realness," which was what I was looking for, as opposed to sheer stage presence and brand extension.
15810910Final Decision: Should Have Put it Down.

The Thousand Names, Django Wexler
The entire genre of martial fiction was a new one for me, and while I thought the battle explanations and detail paid to the movements of warfare were incredibly interesting... they also get quite a bit boring after about 200 pages without much other plot. 
Final Decision: Maybe Skip Ahead to the Next Chapter? 

Everneath, Brodi Ashton
Boring. Boring. Just, SO boring. Unpopular opinion, I know, it was just highly unbelievable, unrealistic, unmanageable in terms of the sort of stuff characters could get away with... 
155Final Decision: Should Have Put it Down. 

Anna Karanina, Leo Tolstoy
I don't need to explain much to you people how much effort a 1,000 page novel is. But SO WORTH IT.
12002819Final Decision: You Finish What You Started, or your Book Nerd Membership is Automatically Revoked. 

The Flight of Gemma Hardy, Margot Livesey
1001556A revamp of Jane Eyre for the modern European woman, it was a solid book in itself, but it frustrated itself a little bit by attempting to adhere to the Bronte basics. Would have been improved vastly by simply not calling itself a version of the classic.
Final Decision: Glad I Finished.

The Firm, John Grisham
22328I don't love thrillers; that's kind of an obvious thing that I'm not too shy about saying. This is just a fairly suspenseful one... and we all know how I get when things are super-suspenseful...
Final Decision: Yeah, I Guess.

Neuromancer, William Gibson
12558285Sci Fi epic glorified by my father, consumed during my sophomore year of high school while studying for Finals. Too much attention to science fiction detail work and world-building, not too interesting of a plot, and more important things going on in my daily life? Yikes.
Final Decision: At Least Now I Can Say I Read it.

Splintered, A. G. Howard
I'm leery of basically every single take on Alice in Wonderland ever written/produced/whatever ever, EVER... especially those whose character direction sounds like they escaped from a 2004-era Hot Topic kid's daydreams. 
Final Decision: Meh, it's Deece. (But I'm not going to continue the series).

What's your Top Ten this Tuesday?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Stacking the Shelves: Cram Sesh

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly Saturday book meme from Tynga's Reviews, all about sharing the books you've added to your shelves over the course of the week.
I'm now beginning to reach the impass this week where even I'm starting to get annoyed with myself about how much I complain about how busy I am. I think it's mainly because now, I feel like it's just wasted air that I could rather be using to uncompact my schedule. Don't know if that's happening anytime soon, though. Which is why, of course, I decided to go on a bit of a book impulse binge this week...

Stress gives me acid reflux, and acid reflux makes me stressed. Books are really the only means of fighting it; it's a kind of basic decision to make at this point, really. So, in the scant amounts of free time this week, I purchased the following pain releivers:


Smart Girls Get What They Want by Sarah Strohmeyer
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross
The One (The Selection) by Kiera Cass - FINISHED
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge - CURRENTLY READING

Clearly the path to heaven is paved with fairy tale adaptations. Also, I figured I'd put in those last two addendums for a little more clarity about how I'm really only a danger to myself, in terms of stress. And yes, the fact that the cover layout couldn't all fit neatly on one line DID give me more of it. 

What are you stacking your shelves with this week?

Friday, May 9, 2014

I'll Love You Forever, I'll Like You For Always: My Top Pick Gifts for Mother's Day

They're the ladies who raised us... which means that our current predelection to pick up anything with a pretty cover and a thick spine was probably all their fault. Time to thank the women in our life by repaying their kindness with a couple new reads, and maybe a few other things, as well! 

However, no two Moms are alike... how are you supposed to tell what gifts she'd appreciate most? Here, for your benefit, I have assembled a sort of Fearless Female Field Guide, in celebration of Mother's Day! 

For the City Mom

Spotted in the wilds of the Downtown area sporting black flats and a carefully-propped straw fedora, wheeling her baby around town in the Ferrari of strollers with the latest issue of Vanity Fair peeking out of her sleek leather tote, the City Mom is a force to be reckoned with at the checkout lines of Whole Foods and Mommy-and-Me Yoga classes alike. This metropolis mama always knows what everyone's talking about... so why not get her a Mother's Day gift that will set everyone else's tongues wagging?

Birchbox Beauty Box Subscription
Paris: the Novel by Edward Rutherfurd
DIY to Die For: Pasta Necklace Upgrade
Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist Cookbook

This ultra-modern mama might just love a couple new products to update her daily regimen and a chic update on an old mother's day classic, especially when paired with a glittering novel dedicated to the City of Lights and a sassy way to glam up old cocktail classics. 

For the Momaholic

How does she do it all? Between working a stellar job from 9 to 5, running errands before picking the kids up from the bus stop, getting the kids to piano lessons and art classes in equal measure, and always acting the perfect hostess, the fearless team captain, and the mama bear, when she needs to be, Momaholic is equally adept at running the household and running in heels. A superwoman who always knows what you need before you even need it, Momaholic deserves a second to lay back and soak up the fruits of her labor. 

LUSH Bath Bombs
Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead
DIY to Die For: Indoor Terrarium
Delicious! by Ruth Reichl

Help mommy dearest unwind with some luscious bath bombs, or a unique, self-made way to bring the outdoors inside, as well as a bookish escape to East Coast elitest society or a new set of memoirs from Gourmet's favorite female.

For the Soccer Mom

The quintessential mom-on-the-move, this mother is commonly found on the sidelines of soccer meets, the waiting rooms of ballet dance classes, and the bundle-pack snack food sections of Costco. Commonly identified by the "My Kid is an Honor Student" bumper sticker proudly sported on the back window of her SUV, and the chic athletic gear that she feels looks best paired with a baseball hat repping her kids' school, Soccer Mom is a women who has always worked to support the whole team... which means that she definitely deserves a MVP nod this Mother's Day. 

Lulu Lemon Headbands
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
DIY to Die For: Team Shirt Blanket
It's All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great by Gwenyth Paltrow

Sporty moms will love a high end headband and a homemade blanket of team memories, especially when cuddling up after the big game with a thriller that will get her heart pumping, too, or a cookbook full of healthy, family-friendly basics.

For the Mommy Blogger 

The sort of second-cousin to the City Mom and the Momaholic, this ultra-classy harbinger of good taste and telling it like it is knows her way around a good Wordpress layout. A fan of DIY arts and crafts and a good sass session, the modern-day Mommy Blogger always keeps her iPhone handy, her earrings out of baby's reach, and her Instagram suitably populated with pics of you, your breakfast, your dinner, and everything in between. Still, at the end of the day, you know she loves you more than all the pins on Pinterest. 

Yankee Candle Scented Candles
Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
DIY to Die For: "Best Mom Ever" Tote Bag
Let's Pretend this Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson

This hip mama will love writing posts to the scent of a new candle and toting her iPad easily to the next new adventure in a bag all her own, just as much as a cookbook from one of the web's fave foodies and a funny book of memories from a well-known blogging personality. 

For the Seattle Mama

Nothing compares to the general awesomeness of the PNW, and if you ask completely-objective, entirely-unbiased lil' old me, the tech mecca and hipster paradise that is the glimmering focal point of Washington state has got to be one of the MOST awesome... which is why you should take a good look at the women who built it! To the ladies who get up early to feed their backyard chickens, to the blue-tarp campers whose summer revolves around Rainier, the Seattle Mommy wears many shoes: the fast-track sneaker, the ever-useful rainboot, and the power-player high heel, to name a few.... but today, she deserves to kick up her feet! 

Julep Nail Polish
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
 DIY to Die For: Personalized Coffee Mug
Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Mama will love a bright new shade from the Seattle-based nail care brand, especially when paired nicely with a new way to sip her favorite blend. A memoir of a trek among some of the PNW's most beautiful, and a snarky new best-seller set in the Emerald City go great with her morning cup of coffee.

What are you getting your Mom this Mother's Day?