Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hedgie's Must Reads: October 2013

We are headed into the month before Christmas! Hedgie and I are both very excited about it, though Hedgie would rather the weather wasn't so cold and blustery. However, October's weather made for excellent reading time, and we spent our days curled up in the reading chair. Most of October's reads were nothing special, albeit mostly enjoyable. But there were a few gems, especially with the new releases. These are Hedgie's and my favorites:

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger (4/5)
The first in a planned series, Etiquette & Espionage was not entirely what I was expecting. Quirky - yes. Steampunk - yes. Thoroughly wonderful characters and an amazingly engaging world - no. I honestly expected this book to be mediocre; enjoyable, but nothing special. Two paragraphs in, and I was hooked. I loved it! The quirkiness, the writing style, the characters, the plot, the world - everything. It was amazing! The plot was a little slow, but that's mainly due to lots of world building and I expect the plot to pick up in later installments. Girl-read, fourteen-and-up, great for steampunk and Victorian novel fans!

Russian Roulette by Anthony Horowitz (4/5)
The final book in the Alex Rider series, this one tells the story of world-class assassin Yassen Gregorovich; how he went from an innocent boy in a poor Russian village to Scorpia's most ruthless killer. Yassen is my most favorite character in the entire series, so I really loved reading his backstory. It was emotional and fascinating and made me love his character all the more. It was also really fun to meet future characters and see them through his eyes, especially Alex's father John Rider. Alex Rider fans will find this prequel/companion novel perfect for their tastes; filled with classic action and creepy villains. Ages fourteen-and-up.

The House of Hades by Rick Riordan (3/5)
The fourth book in The Heroes of Olympus series, The House of Hades is Riordan's darkest and most emotional book yet. While there's still plenty of moments of humor to lighten the mood, the chapters told from Annabeth and Percy's point of view were emotionally exhausting, and towards the end I wasn't sure I could take any more heartbreak. While I loved this book, it was just too much, and the twist with Nico di Angelo had me furious. Rick Riordan fans won't be disappointed, but this is a read that requires tissues, tons of chocolate, a snuggly blanket, and a hot drink.

Born of Illusion by Teri Brown (4/5)
The first book in a planned series, Born of Illusion was a lot better than I was expecting. Having read several mixed reviews, I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about it myself. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find Anna Van Housen to be a thoroughly level-headed and intelligent protagonist, and the two boys of the story - Cole and Owen - rather likable. The plot was intriguing, if not a little slow, but the world building kept me from noticing it. I love the era and I love reading about magicians and illusionists and mediums. The narration is in present-tense, but it suited the book remarkably well. Girl-read, great for fans of historical fiction with a flair of supernatural mystery to it.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday #21

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.
It's a weekly meme about upcoming books we're excited about!

Fool's Gold
(Order of Darkness #3)
by Philippa Gregory
Publication Date: February 11, 2014

From Goodreads:

Tasked to expose a coin counterfeiting scheme, Luca and Isolde travel to Venice just in time for Carnival. Amid the masks, parties, and excitement, the romantic attraction between the two reaches a new intensity that neither can deny.

Their romance is interrupted by the arrival of the alchemist, who may be the con artist they've been looking for. But as Luca starts to investigate the original charge, the alchemist reveals his true goal - he plans to create the Philosopher's Stone, a mystical substance said to be capable of turning base metals into gold and producing the elixir of life.

With pounds of undocumented gold coins and an assistant who claims to be decades older than she appears, all evidence points to the possibility that the alchemist has succeeded in his task. But as Luca and Isolde get closer to the truth, they discover that reality may be more sinister than they ever could have imagined.

Death Sworn
(Death Sworn #1)
by Leah Cypress
Publication Date: March 4, 2014

From Goodreads:

When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders send her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.

But beneath the assassins' caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose . . . and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins . . . and possibly the entire world.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday #18

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish 

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic: Top 10 Scariest Looking Book Covers. I actually don't know all that many scary covers. And usually books that have scary covers tend to contain not-so-scary stories (sadly). But I've managed to find 10 and I hope you enjoy my picks! Especially the last one.

I've got a thing about creepy staring eyes - especially disembodied staring eyes. They freak me out! Always have and always will.

I thought this was one of the lamest books on Earth, but the cover is pretty spooky. Hence why I picked it up in the first place.

I both like and dislike this cover. It's kind of eerily creepy and just . . . disconcerting. Or so I find it. Really liked the book, though.

Grasping hands shooting out of basement-like places . . . Another childhood fear that's I've never quite gotten over. Too bad the book isn't as spooky as the cover.

There's a human skull in the snow in a foggy woods . . . Enough said.

Deliciously spooky - and the reason I picked the book up in the first place. I only wish the book had been just as creepy. Oh, it had so much potential! But it was so slow! I desperately wanted to like this book! I guess I'll just like the cover instead.

A creepy mask dotted with blood . . . A corpse-page hand streaked with blood . . . Spooky, right? Well, I thought so, and yet again the story within did not match the cover.

Old black-and-white photographs are spooky. I love them, but they're spooky. This is one of the spookier covers I've seen. The story itself is pretty spooky as well - at first. But not as much once the mystery disappears.

See the freaky white face in the background with the empty eye sockets and screaming mouth? Yeah . . . I had to put my pillow over this book so I didn't wake up staring at it.

Out of all the book covers, though, there isn't a single one that is spookier to me than the cover of Twilight. Not one ghost or skeleton or tomb stone will make me shudder and turn away - or shriek in horror - as loudly as Twilight. It's my garlic (haha). Red apples are ruined for ever!!!!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Review: Emerald Green - Kerstin Gier

Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier
Series: Ruby Red Trilogy #3
Genre: YA, time travel, romance
Published on October 8, 2013
Published by Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 464
Read From: 10.18.13 - 10.19.13

Gwen has a destiny to fulfill, but no one will tell her what it is. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Weekend Recommendations #24

This is a weekly feature, where I get to go all fannish about two randomly-picked favvies (which may not actually be favorites, but got a rating of 3 or higher) that I would recommend to friends! So, here are this week's two picks:

Friday, October 25, 2013

Review: Born of Illusion - Teri Brown

Born of Illusion by Teri Brown
Series: Born of Illusion #1
Genre: YA, historical fiction, supernatural
Published on June 11, 2013
Published by Balzer + Bray
Pages: 373
Read From: 10.15.13 - 10.18.13

Anna Van Housen has a secret. 
A gifted illusionist, Anna assists her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and seances, easily navigating the underground world of magicians and mentalists in 1920s New York. For Anna, the illegitimate daughter of Harry Houdini - or so Marguerite claims - handcuffs and sleight-of-hand illusions have never been much of a challenge. The real trick is keeping her own gifts secret from her mother, because while Marguerite's powers may be a sham, Anna possesses a true ability to sense people's feelings and foretell the future. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Review: The House of Hades - Rick Riordan

The House of Hades by Rick Riordan
Series: The Heroes of Olympus #4
Genre: YA, fantasy
Published on October 8, 2013
Published by Hyperion
Pages: 583
Read From: 10.13.13 - 10.15.13

Hazel stands at a crossroads.  
She and the remaining crew of the Argo II could return home with the Athena Parthenos statue and try to stop Camp Half-Blood and Camp Jupiter from going to war. Or they could continue their quest to find the House of Hades, where they might be able to open the Doors of Death, rescue their friends Percy and Annabeth from Tartarus, and prevent monsters from being reincarnated in the mortal world. Whichever road they decide to take, they have to hurry, because time is running out. Gaea, the bloodthirsty Earth Mother, has set the date of August 1 for her rise to power. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday #17

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish 

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic: Top 10 Character Names I Love. This was, again, an easy one, setting aside the fact that it was difficult to pick just ten! It was also a struggle to not take them all from Charles Dickens, but he has such wonderful character names!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Review: The Woman Who Rides Like a Man - Tamora Pierce

The Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce
Series: Song of the Lioness Quartet #3
Genre: YA, fantasy
Published on January 6, 2005
Published by Simon Pulse
Pages: 284
Read From: 10.12.13 - 10.13.13

"Let her prove herself worthy as a man." 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Weekend Recommendations #23

This is a special edition of Weekend Recommendations! Normally, Weekend Recommendations consists of my randomly picking two books I liked (or loved), and fangirling about them. But because Halloween is just a week away, I thought it would be fun to do a special Halloween Weekend Recommendations! So I've pulled in three of my book buddies to help me out. They've each listed two books they think are great Halloween reads. Check it out! And if you would like to see their reviews on Goodreads, click on the book titles!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Review: Russian Roulette - Anthony Horowitz

Russian Roulette by Anthony Horowitz
Series: Alex Rider #10
Genre: YA, action
Published on October 1, 2013
Published by Philomel
Pages: 372
Read From: 10.11.13 - 10.12.13

Alex Rider's life changed forever with one bullet and the pull of a trigger. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Review: A Midsummer Night's Scream - R. L. Stine

A Midsummer Night's Scream by R. L. Stine
Genre: YA, classic retelling, horror
Published on June 2, 2013
Published by Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 250 
Read From: 10. 9.13 - 10.11.13

It was a horror movie that turned into real horror. Three young actors lost their lives while the cameras rolled. Production stopped, and people proclaimed the movie was cursed. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday #16

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish 

Today's Top Ten Tuesday Topic: Top 10 Books I Was "Forced" To Read (either by book clubs, teachers, other bloggers, enthusiastic friends). Thankfully, they don't necessarily have to be forced reads that I hated; they can be forced reads that I ended up liking! So I've parceled it out in two top 5 I hated, and top 5 I liked/loved.

Monday, October 14, 2013

ARC Review: Bird - Crystal Chan

A copy was provided by the publisher
in exchange for
an honest review.
Bird by Crystal Chan
Genre: Middle Grade, contemporary
Published on January 30, 2014
Published by Tamarind
Pages: 416
Read From: 10.8.13 - 10.9.13

Nothing matters. Only Bird matters. And he flew away. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Weekend Recommendations #22

This is a weekly feature, where I get to go all fannish about two randomly-picked favvies (which may not actually be favorites, but got a rating of 3 or higher) that I would recommend to friends! So, here are this week's two picks:

Friday, October 11, 2013

Review: The Far West - Patricia C. Wrede

The Far West by Patricia C. Wrede
Series: Frontier Magic Trilogy #3
Genre: YA, alternate history, alternate reality, fantasy
Published on August 1, 2012
Published by Scholastic
Pages: 378
Read From: 10.5.13 - 10.8.13

A journey into the unknown. . . . 
The Far West, out beyond the settled territory, is a dangerous place. Eff knows this better than most - she's traveled past the Great Barrier Spell, seen steam dragons, fought a pride of saber cats, and killed a medusa lizard before it could turn her and her brother to stone. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Review: Trapped in Paris - Evelyne Holingue

A copy was provided by the Author
in exchange for
an honest review.
Trapped in Paris by Evelyne Holingue
Genre: YA, suspense, thriller
Published on June 1, 2013
Published by Burel Press
Pages: 184
Read From: 10.5.13 - 10.5.13

Sixteen-year-old Cameron and Framboise have nothing in common and no reason to meet. But when a volcano eruption in Iceland interrupts all air traffic, the two teenagers find themselves trapped in Paris. When they witness a murder on the River Seine and are kidnapped by a mysterious dangerous man, they become unlikely partners in a fast spine-chilling four-

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday #15

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish 

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic: Top 10 Worst/Best Series Endings. I'm splitting this in two; my top 5 best series endings, and my top 5 worst series endings.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Review: How to Lead a Life of Crime - Kirstin Miller

How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirstin Miller
Genre: YA, suspense, thriller
Published on February 21, 2013
Published by Razorbill
Pages: 434
Read From: 10.2.13 - 10.5.13

Meth dealers. Prostitute. Serial killer. 
Anywhere else, they'd be vermin. At the Mandel Academy, they're called prodigies. The most exclusive school in New York City has been training young criminals for over a century. Only the most ruthless students are allowed to graduate. the rest disappear. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Stacking the Shelves #17

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Review

From the Library:

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White's sleepy, seaside town . . . until River West comes along. River rents the guest house behind Violet's crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard.

Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet's grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in the cemetery . . . who makes you want to kiss back. Violet's already so knee-deep in love, she can't see straight. And that's just how River likes it.

Through the Skylight by Iain Baucom
When Jared, Shireen, and Miranda are each given one glittering gift from an old Venetian shopkeeper, they never fathom the powers they are now able to unleash; they never expect that their very reality is about to be utterly upended. And the adventure has hardly begun.

For in another time, centuries earlier, another trio - Rashid, Maria, and Francesca - have been thrown together under terrible circumstances: They have been kidnapped and, along with hundreds of other children, will be sold into child slavery. Unless, that is, they can find some way to save them all.

But all their fates lie in the hands of Jared, Shireen, and Miranda. The future - and the lives - of these three very modern children become entirely intertwined with those of the children from the past. Danger, it seems, has a way of spanning centuries.

Malcolm at Midnight by W. H. Beck
When Malcolm the rat arrives as a pet at McKenna School, he revels in the attention. He also meets the Midnight Academy, a secret society of classroom pets that keeps the nutters (kids) safe. There's just one problem . . . rats have a terrible reputation! So when the Academy's iguana leader is kidnapped, Malcolm must prove his innocence - and that even rats can be good guys.

House of Secrets by Chris Columbus & Ned Vizzini
The Walker kids had it all: loving parents, a big house in San Francisco, all the latest video games . . . but everything changed when their father lost his job as a result of an inexplicable transgression. Now the family is moving into Kristoff House, a mysterious place built nearly a century earlier by Denver Kristoff, a troubled writer with a penchant for the occult.

Suddenly the siblings find themselves launched on an epic journey into a mash-up world born of Kristoff's dangerous imagination, to retrieve a dark book of untold power, uncover the Walker family's secret history, and save their parents . . . and maybe even the world.


Russian Roulette by Anthony Horowitz
It was the cold-blooded contract killer Yassen Gregorovich who changed Alex Rider's life. Aged just fourteen, Alex was thrust into the chaos of international espionage - the world's only teenage spy. The two have been mortal enemies since.

Yet, as a boy, Yassen was mentored by someone very much like Alex. What turned him into such a ruthless assassin? In some ways, Alex and Yassen are mirror images of each other. One chose to be a hero. The other chose evil. This is Yassen's story. A journey down a darkened path.

The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron
When Katharine Tulman's inheritance is called into question by the rumor that her eccentric uncle is squandering away the family fortune, she is sent to his estate to have him committed to an asylum. But instead of a lunatic, Katharine discovers a genius inventor with his own set of rules, who employs a village of nine hundred people rescued from the workhouses of London.

Katharine is now torn between protecting her own inheritance and preserving the peculiar community she grows to care for deeply. And her choices are made even more complicated by a handsome apprentice, a secretive student, and fears for her own sanity.

As the mysteries of the estate begin to unravel, it is clear that not only is her uncle's world at stake, but also the state of England as Katharine knows it.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter has never played a sport while flying on a broomstick. He's never work a Cloak of Invisibility, befriended a giant, or helped hatch a dragon. All Harry knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley. Harry's room is a tiny cupboard under the stairs, and he hasn't had a birthday party in ten years.

But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to a wonderful place he never dreamed existed. There he finds not only friends, aerial ports, and magic around every corner, but a great destiny that's been waiting for him . . . if Harry can survive the encounter.

Bird by Crystal Chan
A girl, who was born on the day her brother Bird died, has grown up in a house of silence and secrets; when she meets John, a mysterious new boy in her rural Iowan town, and those secrets start to come out.

September 30, 2013 - Monday
October 1, 2013 - Tuesday
October 2, 2013 - Wednesday
October 3, 2013 - Thursday
October 4, 2013 - Friday
October 5, 2013 - Saturday