Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Center Stage April 2013 Character Spotlight

Center Stage is a monthly feature hosted by Ginger-Read Reviews, in which we highlight a character from the books we've read in the past month.

April 2013 Center Stage Character:
Daphne from The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff

The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff

I was a little worried that I wasn't going to have a character to spotlight this month. I didn't read all that many books in April and in fact didn't read for a week straight because I was working on a knitting project for a certain someone who shall remain nameless. *cough* Melissa *cough* I was about to put on my sad face over not having a Center Stage post for April when I picked up Brenna Yovanoff's The Space Between. Not only did I love the book, but I loved the main character, Daphne, as well.

Daphne has one of the coolest lineages ever: she's the daughter of Lilith and Lucifer (yep, that Lilith and that Lucifer). You might expect her to be all evil and whatnot, but she couldn't be farther from that. Daphne doesn't want to be like her many sisters who go to Earth to prey on mortal men and rob them of their dreams and memories. But when her beloved brother goes missing, Daphne braves a trip to the mortal world to find him. Everything is new to her, but she keeps a clear head. (Having demon powers, like being able to burn things with your touch, also comes in handy when you find yourself in a new place.)

For all of her fears that she is some kind of monster and incapable of knowing what love is, Daphne is loving and compassionate. This is never more evident than in her attempts to help Truman Flynn, a half-human/half-fallen angel bent on self-destruction. I loved Daphne's courage and resolve to not only find her brother but also to save Truman, I loved this novel, and I loved this quote from Daphne:

"Love is when you care more about something else than you do about yourself." — "Chapter 27: Love"

Well said, Daphne. Well said.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Review: The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff

The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff The Space Between
By Brenna Yovanoff

To Sum It Up:

The daughter of Lilith and Lucifer, Daphne has never ventured outside of Pandemonium, a city in Hell. That changes when her brother, Obie, goes missing, and Daphne must go to Earth to find him. In a world that is new and strange to her, she seeks out Truman Flynn, a troubled mortal boy and the last person known to have seen Obie. Daphne may have set out on a mission to help her brother, but it may be two lives that she ends up saving.


First, I’d like to ooh and aah over the cover for a bit. The design is just beautiful, even more so when you see it in person, and it certainly caught my eye when Goodreads recommended The Space Between to me over a year ago. And the cover art is actually relevant to the book for a change. Daphne, the protagonist, is the half-demon/half-fallen angel daughter of Lilith and Lucifer and lives in Pandemonium, a city in Hell where everything is made of metal (Pandemonium does have its own furnace, after all.). I think that the cover is an imaginative, accurate visualization of Pandemonium.

This book seriously blew my mind, and in a good way. It’s such a creative take on angels and demons and heaven and hell (mostly the demons and hell parts). I loved how some of the conventional notions involved in this type of story were maintained, like Hell being hot, while others were completely reversed. Daphne doesn’t want to be like her numerous sisters, the Lilim, who go to Earth for “a fix;” they prey on human men and take their dreams and memories from them. Whereas half-demon Daphne demonstrates a conscience, Azrael, the Angel of Death whose duty is to destroy demons on Earth, is portrayed as quite merciless. He calls upon his vicious monster, Dark Dreadful, to dispense with the demons who dare invade his turf. Dark Dreadful is every bit as scary as she sounds.

This novel had some creepy moments and some bizarre moments in it, yet I was 100% sold on the world. When Daphne first arrives on Earth, she’s rather overwhelmed. Her knowledge is limited to what her brother, Obie, whose job entails spending most of his time there, has told her. Daphne is pretty naïve to the ways of the human world, like when she thinks the guy behind the deli counter has said “Salome” because she doesn’t know what “salami” is. But this scene and others like it totally work and don’t make Daphne look silly because Brenna Yovanoff has written them in such a way that you couldn’t expect anything else from a character who’s lived in Hell all of her life.

The characterizations in The Space Between are incredible. Here’s a statement that I don’t think I could have gotten away with during my thirteen years of Catholic school: I really liked Beelzebub! He heads up Hell’s Collections Department; i.e. he’s in charge of reaping souls. He’s just cool and is the person whom Daphne turns to for help and advice. I also liked Obie and how strong his sibling bond was with his sister. The two look out for one another and are very much alike in the compassion that they both have for others.

I loved Daphne. I loved how she strove to be better than the Lilim and how big her heart was despite her doubts that she’d ever know what it meant to love. I just wanted to tell her, “But you already know, Daphne! You already know!” Even though her search for Obie takes her to a place that is alien to her and she’s nearly mugged soon after setting foot on Earth, Daphne keeps her wits about her. As she begins running out of time to help her brother, some cracks start to show in her poise, but it’s then that she finds support from an unlikely source: Truman Flynn.

Daphne first sees Truman when he makes a brief appearance in Hell following a suicide attempt. He’s sent back to Earth with Obie, who’d been looking after him and whose job it is to help the Lost Ones, the half-human offspring of fallen angels. Truman is Daphne’s only clue to Obie’s whereabouts, and when she encounters Truman again, he’s in really bad shape, passed out on a bathroom floor from too much drinking. Since his mother’s death, he’s set himself on a path to self-destruction that is heartbreaking to behold. Daphne, who so wrongly believes that she’s incapable of human empathy, has felt exactly that for Truman from the moment she met him. Truman, who so wrongly believes that he has nothing to live for, very slowly comes around to helping Daphne with her task. The relationship that gradually builds between these two is exquisitely crafted. My shabby description of it can’t even begin to properly capture it.

I was all set to unequivocally give The Space Between five stars until the novel started winding down toward its conclusion. It’s not that I didn’t like the ending itself; I just didn’t like the way events leading up to the ending unfolded. In fact, I was like, “WTF?!” I think this is just a case of me being me, though. Every single other aspect of this stellar novel deserves five stars, and that’s what I’m rating the book overall.

All in All:

There’s so much to love here: the writing, the story, the characters, the world, the spin on demons and angels. I love paranormal reads that make the impossible seem plausible, and this one fully succeeds in doing so.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Discussing Game of Thrones: And Now His Watch Is Ended

* Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen “And Now His Watch Is Ended.”

Another great episode. Loving the show (and the books) so much, it’s almost impossible for me to take an objective look at each episode, but I think this season has been extremely well paced so far. In the past, there were some episodes that seemed too talky or were too focused on characters I wasn’t all that interested in. None of that so far this season, though.

Brienne & Jaime

I can’t think of a clever heading here, and especially not a snarky one, considering the situation these two are in. Here’s the thing about George R. R. Martin’s characters: he’ll have you loathing them one minute, then pitying them the next. Before A Storm of Swords, I hated Jaime and every smug, arrogant word he ever said. Then he helped Brienne. Then he got his hand cut off. His sword hand. Jaime’s a very, very broken man, but Brienne is there to tell him to stop crying like a bloody woman and pull himself together! You go, Brienne!

Lady Olenna & Varys

Hahaha! The interaction between them was too funny! Poor Lady Olenna—it sounds like there’s a Tyrell rose painted on everything she owns, including, apparently, her chamber pot. It also looks like there are wedding bells in Sansa’s future. There’s a departure here from the books—Loras is actually a member of the Kingsguard now, and as such, cannot marry. In the novels, the plan was to have Sansa marry Loras and Margaery’s oldest brother, Willas, the heir to Highgarden.

Parenting 101 with Lord Tywin

Hilarious. Cersei does not like Margaery, Margaery’s influence over Joffrey, or Margaery’s blatant hunger for Cersei’s place as Queen, and she goes to her father to complain. Lord Tywin, in a fantastic verbal smackdown, reminds his daughter that the Tyrells helped save King’s Landing from Stannis and that Cersei has never been able to control her son. I loved the expression on her face as her papa told her off.

The Nights Watch Goes on a Rampage

Well, some of them do, including Rast, the turd who’s been ragging on Sam. The chaos starts when Craster is accused of hoarding his food, an accusation that he totally does not appreciate. Swords, axes, and knives all come out, and Commander Mormont is killed in the melee. If only he’d been able to finish strangling Rast before he died.

The Worst Game Ever

So we find out that Theon’s rescuer is NOT that at all (I’m almost positive that he’s really Ramsay Snow, the sadistic bastard son of Roose Bolton). As part of some twisted hunting game, he’s led Theon straight back to torture. Here’s yet another case of me despising a character and then having to do a 180 with my opinion. That line about how his real father died in King’s Landing was gut-wrenching. Look, I wanted Theon to pay for what he did at Winterfell, but Ramsay is one sick, sick, sick psycho, and if you thought things were already bad for Theon, they’re about to get a lot worse.

The Hound on Trial

It’s meet-and-greet time with Lord Beric Dondarrion, aka the Lightning Lord, aka the guy who was sent by Ned Stark wayyy back in the first book/first season to bring the King’s Justice to the Mountain. Now a worse-for-wear-looking Lord Beric leads the Brotherhood without Banners, and the recently captured Hound stands accused of murder. The Hound is, unsurprisingly, defiant, using the old “But I was just doing my job as King Joffrey’s sworn shield” defense. Arya reminds him how he killed her friend, the butcher’s boy, but with no other witnesses, Lord Beric calls for trial by combat. Things are about to literally light up in that cave.


I have to admit, this was a badass scene! First, though, I’d like to say that Ser Jorah, who didn’t actually say anything in this episode, was looking especially hot, just standing there in his armor, all ready to fight. Mmmm. Anyway, everyone, and I mean everyone, gets the surprise of their lives when Daenerys starts rattling off commands to her newly purchased Unsullied in perfect Valyrian. GASP! She understood every insulting word that chrome-domed Kraznys said! The whole freaking time! Dany commands the Unsullied to slay the masters but harm no children, and then, in a moment of sheer epicness, commands her dragon (I assume it’s Drogon) to barbecue Kraznys. By the time all is said and done, Astapor is smoking. Like I said, BADASS!

Things We Learned from This Episode

  • “Growing Strong” is not a very fear-inducing house motto.
  • I don’t think I want to be around when Varys opens up his daily UPS/FedEx deliveries.
  • Cersei is not as clever as she thinks she is. (We all knew that already, but it’s worth repeating.)

In the Next Episode

The Hound and Lord Beric spar; Jaime is taken before Roose Bolton; Jon had better not lie to Tormund Giantsbane.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (33)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It's an opportunity for everyone to share the new books that we've acquired.

After mulling over a move to WordPress since Google announced the shutdown of Reader on July 1, we are definitely going to make the jump eventually. The "when" all depends on when I have the extra funds for hosting fees and probably buying a paid theme. It's not going to be for a while, so I figured I might as well start studying up on things now, and that's how I ended up with this geeky book haul:

I know there are tons of online tutorials, but whenever I dive into learning new tech skills, I prefer starting out with printed books (that usually have a lot of pages). I have a few other books in the Missing Manual series, and I've found them all extremely helpful. Now on to the fun books:

For Review:

The Year of the Great Seventh by Teresa Orts
You Are Mine by Janeal Falor

Thanks to Teresa Orts and Janeal Falor!


Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo
Rebel Angels by Libba Bray

There are still a few days left to enter our first blogoversary giveaway! You can win a book of your choice, up to $15!

What did you add to your shelves this week? Please link me up!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Review: Burn for Burn by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian

Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian Burn for Burn (Burn for Burn #1)
By Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

To Sum It Up:

Kat, Lillia, and Mary are unlikely allies, but they unite when they realize they share a common goal: revenge. Each girl has a different target and a different reason for seeking vengeance. The trio make a pact to see their plans through to the end—no one can bail on the other two once her phase of the scheme is over. The girls’ designs get off to a smooth start, but some unanticipated developments make them realize that payback may not be the solution.


Burn for Burn is a tale of three teenage girls out for revenge, and it is a compulsively readable one at that. I’ll admit right now that my morbid curiosity about how the trio would exact retribution propelled me through the pages of this book. I’m not saying that I approve of the girls’ actions, the goal of which was public humiliation more than anything—never physical harm. I must concede, though, that their plotting made for some riveting reading.

Lillia is a model student and daughter whose traumatic experience over the summer makes her extremely protective of her younger sister, Nadia. When Lillia fears that Nadia is being taken advantage of by an older boy, Lillia wants to teach him a lesson. Kat used to be best friends with another girl named Rennie until Lillia came along and Rennie saw better social opportunities being by Lillia’s side instead of Kat’s. Now Rennie delights in spreading vicious rumors about Kat, whose quick temper always causes her to rise to Rennie’s baiting. The third member of the future alliance is Mary, a recent returnee to Jar Island. She’s come back to show how much she’s changed to a single person—Reeve, the star of the school football team.

At first glance, all three girls make convincing cases for pursuing vengeance. I found Rennie instantly unlikable; she’s your archetypal mean girl, and not just to Kat. Rennie is also selfish and shallow, and really, I looked forward to seeing her get her comeuppance. Tied with Rennie in that department is Reeve. The details of what happened between Mary and him aren’t revealed until toward the end of the book, but they’re perhaps the most startling and repugnant, especially in light of the aftermath. As for Alex, the object of Lillia’s revenge, I never truly believed that he was capable of the behavior that she suspected him of. He’s not perfect, but he certainly isn’t in the same category as Reeve and Rennie.

Burn for Burn reads like a contemporary novel except in a few spots where there’s this very oddly placed paranormal element. I think it’s supposed to be subtle, but it’s not very well integrated into the story at all, thus making it stick out like a sore thumb. To me, the book stood fine as a contemporary. I wonder where the authors plan to go with the supernatural thing in the next book; it definitely needs to be fleshed out better.

This was a quick read for me, mostly because I wanted to see how the trio’s plans played out. (So very wrong of me, I know, but then I’ve always been a grudge holder and could relate to the girls to an extent.) The writing and the characterizations are on the ordinary side; the plot is what makes this worth a read.

All in All:

If revenge stories interest you, Burn for Burn fits the bill. I am a little curious about the direction the story will take in the upcoming sequel, Fire with Fire, which I’ll probably get around to checking out; it’s not a high priority read, though.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Review: Chase Tinker and the House of Magic by Malia Ann Haberman

Chase Tinker and the House of Magic by Malia Ann Haberman Chase Tinker and the House of Magic (Chase Tinker #1)
By Malia Ann Haberman
Crossroad Press

* A copy was provided by the author for review.

To Sum It Up:

Since his father’s mysterious disappearance, Chase Tinker has been getting into a lot of trouble. Chase is also dealing with the fact that he can manipulate objects with his mind, and now his younger brother, Andy, is able to freeze time. The boys are in for the surprise of their lives when the grandfather they didn’t know they had appears on their doorstep and announces that they are part of a magical family. The Tinkers also have an old foe that has been trying to steal the source of their magic and is very likely responsible for whatever happened to Chase and Andy’s dad. Together with their newfound family members, the brothers are ready to face their enemy and find their father.


When it comes to reading, I think a part of me will always be a kid at heart. That’s why I still enjoy reading middle grade books from time to time; they take me back to some of my happiest childhood memories. Chase Tinker and the House of Magic contains all of the elements that made me fall in love with reading all those years ago: a relatable hero, a thrilling story, and lots of magic!

The standout aspect of this novel is the writing. The characters, the setting, and the pacing are all very well done. I especially loved the descriptions of the Tinker family’s magical house; they burst with such vibrant imagination. What I wouldn’t give to explore a place like this and try out the different magical powers that each room holds! Want to time travel? Not a problem—there’s a room for that. Need to teleport? There’s a room for that, too. If the book had only been about exploring every nook and cranny of the house room by room, that would have been enough to keep me reading.

I thought Chase made a great main character—brave and daring, yet sometimes too rash with his decisions. I loved how he and Andy looked out for each other, and their good-natured sibling squabbling lent a sense of realism to their relationship. I also liked how they formed a tight-knit quartet with their cousin, Janie, and Persephone, the housekeeper’s daughter. Chase’s crush on Persephone and how embarrassed he became around her were just too cute.

The twist toward the end of the novel quite surprised me and should lead to some intriguing plot developments in the next book. It’s been a while since I’ve read a magic-themed book for younger readers, and they, too, should find this both engaging and enchanting. There’s plenty of action and mystery, and let’s not forget the magical house that is just built out of plain awesomeness.

All in All:

This is a fun read for younger readers and not-quite-so-young readers alike, and it’s yet another middle grade novel that I wish had been around when I was growing up.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Review: The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan The Demon’s Lexicon (The Demon’s Lexicon #1)
By Sarah Rees Brennan
Margaret K. McElderry Books

To Sum It Up:

Killing demons and running from the magicians who summon them are just part of the daily routine for Nick Ryves and his older brother, Alan. Their mother once loved a powerful magician from whom she later fled, but not before stealing a charm that he’ll do anything to get back. The family’s lives are already chaotic when a pair of siblings comes to the brothers seeking help to remove a demon’s mark that will eventually result in death. Alan ends up getting marked, too, and as the Ryves brothers work to now remove two marks, Nick begins to realize that Alan, the lone person Nick has always relied on for the truth, is keeping secrets. Nick sets out on his own mission to find out what Alan is hiding, never thinking that his brother might have a very good reason for withholding information from him.


Despite its title, The Demon’s Lexicon is as much about magic as it is about demons. Sarah Rees Brennan vividly paints a world in which demons strike bargains with magicians who summon them into the mortal realm so that the demons can experience human senses by possessing human bodies. In exchange, the magicians are able to use the demons' powers. I thought this was an inventive take on both paranormal beings, and I really liked the imagery used to bring this world to life. There’s a Goblin Market where vendors hawk everything from charms to talismans, and there’s also dancing. It’s not your average type of dancing, though; this kind, if successful, summons a demon. Lines are drawn on the ground, and the dancer has to follow their intricate pattern. The descriptions of the dancing had a hypnotic feel to them, and I found myself mesmerized.

My favorite aspect of the novel was its study of Nick and Alan’s fraternal relationship. These two couldn’t be more different in temperament. Alan is kind and compassionate; if he discovered a litter of abandoned puppies on every street, he would rescue all of them. Nick is all snark, snarl, and sneer; he wounds not only with the sword that he’s extremely deft at handling, but with his words as well. When Nick wants to hurt someone, whether it’s physically or emotionally, he aims straight for the jugular. Even Alan is not safe from Nick’s wrath. And yet the brothers would do anything for each other. Their bond provides an interesting contrast to that of Jamie and Mae Crawford, the brother and sister who turn to Alan and Nick for aid after a demon marks Jamie. The Crawford siblings’ concern for each other is filled with more warmth and probably closer to what you would expect from siblings. With Alan and Nick, Alan is the one who is open with his affection; Nick’s way of showing you he might care is by saving your life or something like that. Although Nick is determined to find a way to save Alan after a demon marks him, too, he can’t grasp why Mae is sticking her neck out for Jamie, whom Nick doesn’t exactly deem save-worthy because he looks at just about everyone he meets with contempt.

I think the majority of your reaction to this book hinges on your opinion of Nick. He possesses a very, very smart mouth, which I didn’t mind because I love sarcastic fictional boys who don’t know when to keep their traps shut. The snarkier, the better! (Yeah, I’m weird like that.) What I didn’t like about Nick was his treatment of Alan, who basically raised him after their father was killed and who clearly loves Nick. When the Crawfords enter their lives, Nick is jealous of Alan’s sympathy for their situation, of Alan’s willingness to help them, and of how being around Mae seems to make Alan happy. I thought some of Nick’s actions were quite cruel, and my tolerance of him fluctuated with how odious his behavior was. The thing is, however, I can’t completely condemn Nick because there’s more to his callousness than simply being unable to muster empathy for anyone.

My main quibble with the book was that most of its secrets spilled out in one info cluster during the big showdown with the villain. I did appreciate Brennan poking a little fun at villain monologues with Nick’s quip to the bad guy about making sure that he revealed his weakness to Nick as he delivered his grand speech. I thought the twist that the story took at this point was clever, but I couldn’t help feeling that what was supposed to be a dramatic reveal came out in a bit of a rush. Still, this was a fascinating story, and by the end, I even wanted to read more about Nick. I’ll definitely be seeing this series through to the end of the trilogy.

All in All:

I loved Sarah Rees Brennan’s Unspoken, and while The Demon’s Lexicon didn’t quite measure up to that novel, this was a solid read. I will say that Nick isn’t the most lovable character, and there were times when I wanted to run him through with his sword. I will also say that I did derive some amusement from a fictional character irking me so much, so even as I was shaking my head over Nick’s latest offense, I was smiling a little, too.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Discussing Game of Thrones: Walk of Punishment

* Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen “Walk of Punishment.”

Sorry, no vlog this week. :( Ally hasn’t even had a chance to watch last week’s episode yet—thank goodness for DVRs! We hope this week won’t be as insanely busy.

All Hail the Blackfish!

This episode opens at Riverrun, seat of House Tully, for the funeral of Catelyn’s father. We meet her brother, Edmure, who is as much of an arrogant moron in the books as he is on the show. I did not feel sorry for him when Robb upbraided him for capturing one lowly mill, and losing invaluable troops in the process, instead of waiting for Robb and the rest of his men to arrive so they could join forces against the Mountain. Let’s forget about Edmure-I’m-Total-Crap-at-Archery, though. We finally get to see Catelyn’s uncle, Ser Brynden Tully, aka the Blackfish! His role in the novels is quite significant, so I’m a little surprised that it’s taken so long for him to appear on the show. Better late than never, I suppose. I loved his scene with Catelyn where he tried to offer some words of comfort as she cried over not seeing Bran and Rickon again.

Musical Chairs at the Small Council Meeting

Tyrion, Littlefinger, Varys, and Pycelle arrive at a council meeting with Lord Tywin. Once Lord Tywin sits down, Littlefinger, dressed as if to broadcast “I’m the Lord of Harrenhal!” quickly brushes past Varys to sit next to Lord Tywin. Cersei marches in, grabs a chair, and plops it on the other side of her father. Not to be outdone, Tyrion drags another chair to sit directly opposite his dad at the other end of the table. I found this whole scene hilarious! Littlefinger is maddeningly smarmy these days, particularly with his remark about how titles bring more titles. He and Lysa Arryn should make a great match. *Eyeroll*

Bye Bye, Hot Pie

Thanks to the Hound’s announcement in the previous episode, the Brotherhood Without Banners knows Arya’s true identity. I’m really liking Anguy, the archer; I laughed when he banged the Hound’s head on the wagon. And how sweet was it that Hot Pie baked Arya wolf-shaped bread as a parting gift? She is a Stark of Winterhell, after all. That line cracked me up! I’ll miss you, Hot Pie; as Gendry said, don’t burn yourself while baking the bread.

Beyond the Wall

Lord Commander Mormont and his remaining men make it back to Craster’s Keep, where creepy Craster is reluctant to allow them to stay there again. Did I mention that Craster is creepy? I think someone should make sure that he isn’t one of the Others because he certainly looks like one. Meanwhile, wth Mormont and most of the fighting men of the Night’s Watch away from Castle Black, Mance Rayder plans to march on the Wall. Jon, in a big test of his loyalty, is sent with Tormund Giantsbane to lead the way. Jon’s appearances have been all too brief the last two episodes. This might have been due to Kit Harington’s recovery from a broken ankle during filming. All I know is, I need more Jon Snow and fewer scenes at Littlefinger’s, ahem, place of business.

Run Theon, Run!

If I remember correctly from the books, after being captured at Winterfell, not a peep was heard from Theon until the fifth book, A Dance with Dragons. It’s interesting to see how the show handles a character disappearing from the novels for a while. I don’t, however, want to see Theon tortured/making a run for it every week just so the actor portraying him has something to do. Oh, and that dude who’s been helping Theon? My Spidey sense says not to trust him, either.

Sometimes Things Get Lost in Translation

Daenerys’s negotiations to buy the Unsullied have amused me greatly because of the HUGE difference between what the translator, Missandei, tells her and what Kraznys, that seedy-looking bald guy, is actually saying. Dany is one of my least favorite characters in the books, and watching this episode reminded me why. She gets all huffy with Ser Jorah and Ser Barristan for warning her in front of Kraznys against trading one of her dragons for the Unsullied. Um, they were trying to help you. That bit where Barristan talks about her brother, Rhaegar, annoyed me in the novels because she got this saintly, uberheroic portrait of him in her head, and I don’t think he was quite that.

Sapphires are Blue

Whoa! Jaime! Dude! I am a squeamish chicken, and once I realized what was about to go down, I couldn’t watch. The buildup to that moment was fantastic, with Jaime thinking that he had become buddies with his captor. Oh, Jaime. Yeah, that guy is totally going to cash in on your ransom, but knocking you off your pedestal trumped even gold and titles.

Things We Learned from This Episode

  • Stannis and Melisandre apparently bicker like an old married couple, though he already has a wife (who isn’t Melisandre). I cringed when he mentioned “another son,” because seriously, one shadow baby was enough for me. Eeeewww. I wanted to bleach my brain after reading/watching that scene.
  • Westeros is a very musical realm. We’ve already heard a snippet of “The Rains of Castamere,” and in this episode, we were treated to a hearty round of “The Bear and the Maiden Fair.”

In the Next Episode

Cersei complains to her daddy about the Tyrells; the mysterious Lord Beric Dondarrion appears; things look like they’re about to go bad at Craster’s Keep.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Review: Defiance by C. J. Redwine

Defiance by C. J. Redwine Defiance (Defiance #1)
By C. J. Redwine
Balzer + Bray

To Sum It Up:

When the Cursed One was awoken, it destroyed all civilization. The survivors now live under the cruel protection of the Commander. When Rachel's father, Jared, doesn't return from a courier mission on time, he is pronounced dead. Rachel hasn't given up on him, and neither has Jared's young and handsome apprentice. They know he's not dead, and they are willing to do anything to get him back.


I actually checked this book out from the school library. It has been on my to-read list for many months, but my public library has yet to purchase it! When I saw it, I snatched it up, so I could be sure to read it before my sister. Haha, Allison! Who gets to read something first for once?! Me!!!

From the beginning, this book really drew me in. Sometimes the exposition seems to take forever in dystopian books, but I thought Defiance was a fantastic attention grabber. I thought the pacing was very fluid.

My favorite character was Logan. I knew I liked him the first time I was introduced to him. He was everything a hero should be: smart, kind, and very likable. Too bad he wasn't the main character. I didn't like Rachel at all. She wasn't particularly horrible or anything; I simply didn't like her as a person. She was always making stupid decisions. I saw a certain plot twist heading Rachel's way, and I was exasperated because I thought Rachel's was going to make a frustratingly cliché mistake. I promised myself that I would stop reading if this were to happen. Good news: it didn't! However, she did do some pretty annoying stuff after that. I don't think everyone will hate Rachel. Sometimes characters are a hit or miss for certain people. Rachel isn't rant-worthy, but I still dislike her.

I did like the plot. I thought the storyline was very inventive and quite interesting. My only complaint is that the Cursed One wasn't more scary. Bring on the horror! I think the author missed out on a lot of drama by not making the beast more terrifying. The potential was certainly there.

All in All:

I really hope it doesn't seem like I had nothing good to say about this book—I really enjoyed it. There were only a few very minor problems I had with it. This book was really worth the wait. I recommend it for a quick and easy read.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I Write What I Want: Melissa's Review Writing Rant

Disclaimer Thingy:

I love to complain! Alas, Lee has threatened me with bodily harm if I give out spoilers in my reviews. And since ranting requires something to rant about, I have not been able to fully express my book angst. At last! I have found a loophole! Mwahahaha! Do keep in mind that I am a whiny brat and I am only trying to be funny, but I will probably come off as really annoying. So, forgive me in advance.

My Review Writing Rant:

I'm sure you guys remember when I proudly announced that I write reviews when I want. Lee has made a liar out of me! (Not really, just roll with it.) This weekend, she said to me: "Melissa, write me a post for this week." I tried, but it just wasn't happening, so I decided to rant about writing reviews. She may have the power to tell me when to write, but I WILL WRITE WHAT I WANT!!! I have discovered writing reviews is hard. Rants are much easier. With a rant all you have to do is babble about whatever you want. With a review, it is necessary to form coherent thoughts. As you can tell, that is not one of my strong points. Usually, I don't have so much of a problem, but it just wasn't going to happen in time for my deadline. When in doubt, write a rant.

Lee might have requested a review, but she can't make me! She said I would seem really angry if I wrote two rants back-to-back, but I don't care! Angry people are either entertaining or scary. I doubt someone of my height could be scary, so fingers crossed you guys don't think I'm too unhinged. Every time I sat down to start this “review” I wanted to eat my pen. I'm finding it very difficult to express my opinions in an entertaining review. So, you’re welcome for not writing a mind-blowingly boring review. I'll write the review when I get to it! Until then, I'll rant.

Just to be safe, if you guys don't hear from me in a while, call the police—Lee probably ate me for defying her. If she gets fat, take a picture for me! I'm just kidding! Lee is the bestest! And I love her! Please don't hurt me! And on an unrelated note: Did you know penguins have knees?! Melissa out, and she writes reviews when she wants! (This is a rant, it doesn't count!)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Discussing Game of Thrones: Dark Wings, Dark Words

Yay! We were able to film a vlog to talk about last Sunday's episode, "Dark Wings, Dark Words." We know that the first vlog was kind of long, and we tried to ramble a little less in this one. This week's vlog is slightly shorter, but we've realized that once we get started talking about the show, we don't know when to stop! This vlog contains spoilers if you haven't seen the episode.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

First Blogoversary & Giveaway!

A year ago today, our little blogging adventure began. It is really hard to believe that twelve months have gone by. We started this blog because we had no one else to share our bookish thoughts with. You have no idea how many times we'd been told by the rest of our family to stop yammering at the dinner table about whatever we were reading. So we decided to seek out others whose love of fictional characters is also misunderstood by their loved ones.

It has been absolutely amazing getting to meet all of you over the past year and chatting about books with you. We thank you for all of your wonderful comments and for introducing us to so many incredible titles that we'll never have to worry about running out of books to read.

As a way of saying thanks and to celebrate our blogoversary, we're hosting a giveaway. You can win any book of your choice, up to $15. If you live here in the U.S., your book will be shipped via Amazon, otherwise it will be shipped via The Book Depository. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter!

** Giveaway **

  • You must be at least 13 years old to enter.
  • Winner will be notified via email and have 48 hours to respond or else another winner will be chosen.
  • Book will be shipped directly from Amazon if the winner lives in the U.S., or from The Book Depository if the winner lives outside the U.S. and The Book Depository ships to your country (you can check by clicking here). We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged packages.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My Rage Will Not Be Unspoken: Melissa's Unspoken Rant

* Spoiler warning for Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan *

Disclaimer Thingy:

I love to complain! Alas, Lee has threatened me with bodily harm if I give out spoilers in my reviews. And since ranting requires something to rant about, I have not been able to fully express my book angst. At last! I have found a loophole! Mwahahaha! Do keep in mind that I am a whiny brat and I am only trying to be funny, but I will probably come off as really annoying. So, forgive me in advance.

My Unspoken Rant:

It all started when Lee and I decided to do another book toss-up. It worked well for both of us the first time. Little did I know what she had in store for me this time. Oh, and may I mention, Lee has yet to read her side of the toss-up. *cough* slacker *cough* You know, Lee is a vengeful wench. This was sabotage. I'll get her back though . . . .

After I finished Unspoken, I threw the book across the room and proceeded to have a tantrum. After I calmed down enough to communicate, I emailed Lee. I may have threatened her with bodily harm and called her "spawn of Satan," but I don't really remember. I think this is revenge for that time I told her I hoped her metabolism would collapse. In my defense, she eats the same crap I do, but she is still a size 0. How messed up is that?!

I have never been so emotionally abused by a book before. I loved and despised it at the same time. It's not fair!!! I don't know whether to give it five stars or one! Most likely 5, but I'm still really angry. I thought Kami was hilarious and sassy, but sometimes I wanted to put her in a meat grinder and feed her to the ducks! She should have been there for Jared! How could she do that?! WHY????? It was not her decision to make!!! He needs her! The worst part is, I can understand why she did it. But, I don't want to understand, I just want to be angry! I can't even explain how distraught I am! The only thing that comes close is screaming like a lunatic. I want to burn this book while simultaneously wanting to worship it. I bet Sarah Rees Brennan gets a lot of joy out of turning her fans into raving lunatics. I wonder if she has to hide away from all those angry readers.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Review: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy #1)
By Sarah Rees Brennan
Random House Children's Books
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

To Sum It Up: Sorry-in-the-Vale may seem like a sleepy little English town, but in fact it hides some very dark secrets. Its fortunes appear to rise and fall with those of its founding family, the Lynburns, the last of whom left for America seventeen years ago. Now they’ve returned, and Sorry-in-the-Vale resident Kami Glass wants to find out why. Kami has a story of her own that she keeps to herself—her best friend is Jared, the voice in her head that has been with her all of her life. The last thing Kami expects is for Jared to be a real person who shows up in Sorry-in-the-Vale, but that is precisely what happens.

Review: If I could personify my sense of humor in the form of a book, it would be this one. I’ve never encountered a book that so perfectly matched my notion of what’s funny. I had to put Unspoken down several times because I was laughing too hard to continue reading, and out loud at that. And believe me, books don’t make me laugh out loud too often.

So what, exactly, did I find so amusing about this book? The characters, particularly our protagonist, Kami, are just unbelievably witty. The dialogue in the novel crackles with an easy levity that doesn’t feel labored. Of course, what constitutes comedy varies from person to person, and not everyone may think Unspoken is as riotous as I did. But for me, reading this was like meeting a kindred spirit.

Although it was the humor in Unspoken that bowled me over the most, not every aspect of the novel is about laughs and giggles. Something sinister is going on in Sorry-in-the-Vale, and it appears to be connected to the Lynburns, the town’s founding family. The tone of the book effortlessly shifts from light to chilling; it could be very creepy at times, yet without feeling like too much of a departure from the story’s droller moments. I am just in awe of how Sarah Rees Brennan weaved a dark, paranormal tale with hilarity.

I absolutely adored Kami as a protagonist. She possesses a contagious vivacity; I’d love to have her as my best friend in real life. I also loved her journalistic aspirations, though her list of potential stories for the school newspaper that she started up, The Nosy Parker (love that name, too), would be more at home in a supermarket tabloid. Kami was such a delight to read about; she’s smart, funny, determined, and a ton of other adjectives that there isn’t enough room in this review to include.

If Kami is my new fictional best friend, then Jared Lynburn is my new fictional boyfriend. He had me swooning even when he was only the voice in Kami’s head. Like Kami and just about every other character in this book, Jared has a knack for spouting witticisms. He’s also known a lot of pain in his life, and his source of comfort, through their mental connection, has been Kami. It is so, so awkward when Jared and Kami discover that the other is a real person. In a sense, they’ve known each other their entire lives, but at the same time, they don’t know each other at all. This is such an inventive concept, and the novel fully delivers on exploring both sides of sharing a bond like this. You have two young people who have been a part of one another’s lives for as long as they can remember. They’ve weathered tough times together, and yet they’ve never been able to experience being completely alone with their thoughts individually. This is quite different from your average conflict in a YA novel.

And now I must speak of something that still pains me when I think about it: the ending. It is cruel. So very, very, very cruel. I believe my mouth was open in a silent scream afterwards; I was too stunned to make any sound. There should be a support group for readers who’ve finished this book; I know I needed one to help me cope with what happened. Needless to say, I am desperate for the sequel; the story just CANNOT stay like this!

All in All: Despite how it ended, Unspoken was fantastic. I loved the original premise and how quirky the characters were. An ace read in every respect.

Favorite Quotes:

"'Let me reference the mansion again,' Kami said. 'Put the jerk in the south wing, you won't see him for weeks at a time. Or lock him in the attic. The law will not be on your side, but literary precedent will.'" — "Chapter 3: The Secret in the Woods"
"'I knew we should not have brought you,' Mom said. 'The Lynburns built this town on their blood and bones.'
'That was their first mistake,' Jared said. 'They should've built a city on rock and roll.'" — "Chapter 7: You Are Not Safe"
"'Is this true Kami? Are you going out on a date?' Dad asked tragically. 'Wearing that? Wouldn't you fancy a shapeless cardigan instead? You rock a shapeless cardigan, honey.'" — "Chapter 15: Burning or Drowning"

Monday, April 8, 2013

Review: The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa The Iron Knight (The Iron Fey #4)
By Julie Kagawa
Harlequin Teen

To Sum It Up:

Separated from Meghan by the poisonous Iron realm, Ash embarks on a journey to gain his soul and become mortal so that he can be with her. His quest is one of the utmost difficulty, though. First, he and his companions, which include his nemesis, Puck, must travel to the very end of the Nevernever, a dangerous undertaking in itself. The trials that await Ash at the End of the World, however, are the most daunting challenge he’s ever had to face. To attain mortality, he must confront his past and future, both of which he needs to come to terms with if he hopes to ever see Meghan again.


The Iron Fey series has been a bit of a roller coaster ride for me up to this point. Neither The Iron Daughter nor The Iron Queen quite measured up to The Iron King. The constant throughout the books, and what has kept me reading them, is the stellar creativity of this world. I’ve always felt like I’ve wanted to love the characters, but I just haven’t been able to become emotionally invested in them. This is especially true for the Winter prince, Ash, who narrates The Iron Knight. He’s intrigued me from the start of the series, yet I don’t feel that I’ve ever gotten a good sense of him as a character, how he thinks and what motivates his actions. I’d hoped that reading from his point of view at last in The Iron Knight would give me the insight into his character that I’d been seeking. While a good portion of the novel follows the task-by-task structure of the previous books, once Ash commenced his trials to earn his soul, I finally connected with the series.

Besides the potential to get inside of Ash’s head, I was also eager to read this because one of his traveling companions is none other than Puck, probably the last face Ash wants to see in his party. I’d expected a slightly more standoffish demonstration of the enmity between them other than Puck calling Ash “ice-boy” over and over. The exchanges between a sardonic-as-ever Grimalkin the cat and the Big Bad Wolf were much more amusing. By now I’ve grown accustomed to the characters in these books needing to complete a string of subtasks before tackling their main goal. Ash’s secondary missions feature plenty of action, but to me, they were only a warm-up to the trials that would prove whether or not he was worthy of his soul. It was this part of the book that I found riveting because of its emotional punch, something that was rather elusive for me in the other books.

To gain his soul, Ash must pass a group of tests that give him an all too realistic understanding of what it means to be mortal. They’re all grueling, but one struck me in particular. Ash revisits his past misdeeds in excruciating detail, and not only do we see the cruelty that he was once capable of, but also how much he’s changed for the better. I thought that what Ash went through during the trials represented some of the most dramatic and moving moments of the entire series. Their combined impact quite floored me, as did one character’s very poignant sacrifice. Seeing everything that he endured, I wanted Ash to succeed in his quest. I hadn’t felt this compelled to root so hard for a character in this series before.

Although I think that The Iron Knight could have explored Ash’s character further, this was easily the book out of the four that tugged the most at my heartstrings. Ash’s trials were so engrossing to read about, and overall, I thought this was a strong conclusion to the series.

All in All:

I wasn’t sure what my final opinion of this was going to be. Ash and his little group had several smaller adventures as they made their way to the End of the World, but while there was enough action afoot, Ash himself remained somewhat of an enigma. I wouldn’t go so far as to describe The Iron Knight as a character study of Ash, but I do think that this is as emotionally raw as I’ve ever seen him.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Discussing Game of Thrones: Valar Dohaeris

As we're sure all our fellow fans know, last Sunday was the Season 3 premiere of Game of Thrones. We managed to film a vlog containing our thoughts on "Valar Dohaeris." Be warned that there are spoilers, so if you haven't seen the episode yet, you might want to skip the vlog. Also, around the 12:53 mark, Lee goofs and says "Lord Tyrion" when she clearly meant "Lord Tywin." She feels like an idiot.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (32)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It's an opportunity for everyone to share the new books that we've acquired.

I was quite lucky this week that both of my library holds were ready for pickup together, even though they were from two different library branches. I'd hoped to walk to the library, but it began to rain, and since I had my car, well, I walked out of there with three books instead of my planned two.


Sins of the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon
The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan
The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff

What did you add to your shelves this week? Please link me up!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Review: The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa The Iron Queen (The Iron Fey #3)
By Julie Kagawa
Harlequin Teen

To Sum It Up:

Exiled by their respective faery courts, Meghan and Ash find themselves in the mortal world. It’s not long, though, before they’re pulled back into Faery. The new Iron King is hunting Meghan, and the Iron fey are at war with both the Summer and Winter Courts. Their only hope of preventing the destruction of the Nevernever is Meghan. Unwilling to see those she loves get hurt in the forthcoming battle, Meghan is prepared to do anything to protect them, including sacrificing her own life to save theirs.


While The Iron King, the first book in Julie Kagawa’s The Iron Fey series, remains my favorite so far, The Iron Queen is definitely a step up from The Iron Daughter. My main gripe about the latter was Meghan’s Ash-centric view of the world and how she couldn’t function without him. Thankfully, she stands on her own two feet in The Iron Queen, which is also much more action-packed than its predecessor.

Although Meghan doesn’t quite fit my notion of a kick-ass heroine, I have to give her credit for backing up her tough talk with her actions in this book. She learns how to use a weapon and isn’t afraid to fight. What she does fear, though, is losing Ash and Puck, and this puts her into martyr mode, where she takes it upon herself to defeat the Iron King in order to keep anyone from dying for her. I really don’t mean to sound like I’m picking on poor Meghan; it’s just that she seems to get caught in these obsessive thought patterns that I’m not very patient with. In The Iron Daughter, she moped over not being with Ash. Here, she repeats over and over again how she can’t allow Ash and Puck to die because of her. Meghan has always had the potential to be a heroine of considerable strength, glimmers of which shine through here and there, but she’s never quite managed to summon it consistently.

As there was in The Iron Daughter, once again we have a lull in the story involving the self-proclaimed queen of the Faery exiles, Leanansidhe. This time, the gang crashes at her cabin in the woods. The thought of Leanansidhe owning this type of property sort of made me laugh because I never pictured her as the outdoorsy type. Fortunately, once the action picks up, it remains pretty intense for a while. There are some great battle scenes in the book, and they’re brought to life with some of the most vivid imagery in the series. Kagawa’s world-building has been first-rate from the start, and that extends to the epic showdown in The Iron Queen between the now allied Summer and Winter Courts and the Iron fey.

On the whole, I felt that, though not perfect, The Iron Queen was a stronger entry in the series than The Iron Daughter was. The characters still journey about from subtask to subtask with a lengthy stopover, but the fight sequences are worth the wait. Most importantly, Meghan demonstrates the mettle that she was missing in the previous book, which in turn made this a more compelling read than her last adventure.

All in All:

After finding The Iron Daughter on the disappointing side, I was a bit leery of reading this. It did take a while for The Iron Queen to build up momentum, but I quite liked the climactic battle as well as the ending.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Review: The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa The Iron Daughter (The Iron Fey #2)
By Julie Kagawa
Harlequin Teen

To Sum It Up:

Meghan has rescued her kidnapped younger brother from the land of Faery, but now it is time for her to repay the debt she owes to the Winter prince, Ash. She has to accompany him back to the Winter Court, where, as a daughter of the Summer King, Oberon, she is surrounded by faeries who despise her. Summer and Winter are inching ever closer to war, but it’s a new threat from the Iron fey that poses the greatest danger. Meghan must rely on allies with questionable loyalties as she tries to convince the Courts to stop fighting with each other and instead unite against their common enemy.


The Iron King was one of the first books that I reviewed, and looking back on it, I think I tried a little too hard to love it as much as so many other readers do. I still really like the world and how incredibly imaginative it is, but the characters came up short for me this time in The Iron Daughter, especially Meghan. She seemed like a stranger compared to the determined young woman who set out to save her brother in The Iron King. I found myself willing her to pull herself together for a good deal of The Iron Daughter, and it didn’t quite work.

I had pretty high expectations going into this book, with Meghan having to uphold her end of the contract she made with Ash when she was trying to find her brother. Meghan has to go to the Winter Court, where she can expect nonstop withering glares from its queen, Mab. I was intrigued to see what else awaited Meghan in such a hostile environment but was disappointed that 1) she didn’t spend as much time as I’d thought she would there, and 2) most of that time, and most of the book, was spent moping over/pining for Ash. Ash won’t look at her. Ash is avoiding her. Ash doesn’t love her. As I said before, the girl who faced the Iron King has gone missing; in her place is this whiny Meghan who’s completely dependent on a guy whom I feel I still barely know, even after two books. I admit that I found Ash’s broody demeanor kind of cool (no Winter prince pun intended) in the first book, but at this point, I’d like to see that there’s more to his character than intense stares and brandishing a sword every once in a while.

The pacing of the book also felt a little off to me. There’s the main story line revolving around the Iron fey’s latest scheme, but to me, it sometimes got lost amid the multiple subplots. The story really dragged once Meghan and crew found themselves in the Between, the realm in the middle of the mortal and faery worlds and the domain of Leanansidhe, the self-styled queen of the faery exiles. I didn’t think that Meghan and her companions were ever going to leave this place, and I was very happy when they finally hit the road.

The talking cat, Grimalkin, has become my favorite character because he’s truly the voice of reason. He doesn’t mince words and points out all of the other characters’ blunders, often voicing my own opinions of their actions. I find Grim very entertaining, and his wry observations were definitely the highlight of this book.

The Iron Daughter has some solid elements to it, the strongest by far being its whimsical world where anything is possible, but they just didn’t combine into a story that gripped my interest. With this being the second book in the series, I also needed to see the characters continue to develop, but they were pretty much the same ones I met in the first book, except for Meghan, whose character takes some steps backwards here. Still, there’s a charm to this series that appeals to me, and I do enjoy Grim’s sarcasm.

All in All:

I didn’t find this as enchanting as The Iron King, primarily because of how Meghan goes to pieces over Ash. Definitely not what I like to see in a heroine.

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