Top Ten Topics That Instantly Make Me Pick Up A Book (23)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 7:00 AM
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every Tuesday, book bloggers post a top ten list based on a bookish theme. This week's Top Ten Tuesday is:

Top Ten Topics That Instantly Make Me Pick Up A Book

I picked topics instead of words because I'm not entirely sure what specific words persuade me to check out a book or even to purchase it. I wish I knew, but I think that's more of a subconscious decision on my part. And it's rare when a topic or a single word can convince me to "instantly" buy a book. A favorite author, on the other hand, is an entirely different story. So, without further list!

1. Deadly diseases or monsters that wipe out almost the entire population and force the remaining population to fight to survive - Whew, that's a conversation starter and quite a mouthful. A few examples are The Passage (I love this book!), The Stand (which I own and still need to read but its size intimidates me), and The 5th Wave (which I have pre-ordered because I now worship the ground Rick Yancey walks upon).

2. Unsettling dystopias - Wither is a perfect example for this topic, considering the series takes place in a dystopia where women only live to the age of 20, and men to 25. Other favorites are Unwind, which was very disturbing, and Blood Red Road. And, of course, The Hunger Games series! 

3. Gothic anything - I mainly bought Unspoken because of its Gothic looking cover. I might not have liked the book as much as I thought I would, but the cover is stunning. Rebecca, Frankenstein, Dracula, anything by Edgar Allan Poe and other favorites of mine are all popular in this genre and are classics I simply had to read. 

4. Fairy tale retellings - I don't read these nearly enough, but there are so many I intend to check out and a fair amount I already have read. Some examples of retellings I have read are Beauty, Beast, Sweetly, Sisters Red, Cinder, Zel, Book of a Thousand Days, Daughter of the Forest, and so on...

5. Magic - This is a pretty broad topic, but I have so many books that fall under it, and I continue to find myself attracted to books that take place in magical kingdoms or that intermix magic into our present-day world. Some favorites are The Curse Workers, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Poison Study, Shadow and Bone, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, the Old Kingdom series, and Howl's Moving Castle

6. Supernatural phenomenon - I love scaring myself, and I don't completely understand why. And of course, I am always drawn to Stephen King books. 

7. Intense, jaw-dropping books - I love books that are really emotional and heart-wrenching. The Book Thief, Glass Castle, The Kite Runner, Jellicoe Road, The Fault in Our Stars and The Bell Jar are all wonderful examples and I love them all. 

8. Assassins - I need to read more books that star assassins because I think they're kickass and are a great reason to check out a book. And that is why I loved Grave Mercy and Graceling.

9. Alternate worlds - My wardrobe, or well closet, is so boring and does not, in fact, open onto Narnia. Which is why I search for fantasy books where characters escape from reality into another world. The Magicians, Coraline, the Gemma Doyle trilogyMiss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (I think this was another world), and The Book of Lost Things are all examples that I've enjoyed.

10. Grief - I don't know why I am always drawn to upsetting, dark subject matters. I guess these type of books could technically fall under intense, jaw-dropping books. I find beautifully written issue books to be so rewarding and lovely to read. The Sky is Everywhere is a favorite of mine, and I definitely intend to read more like it in the future. I also picked up If I Stay because of its dark, upsetting premise, though I have yet to read this one.

What's your Top Ten this week? Leave me your link in a comment!

Review: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Saturday, April 27, 2013 10:00 AM
Title: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
Author: E. Lockhart
Published: March 25, 2008
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Pages: 345
Source: Library
Rating: 4 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“She will not be simple and sweet.
She will not be what people tell her she should be.”
― E. Lockhart, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14:
Debate Club.
Her father’s “bunny rabbit.”
A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school.

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15:
A knockout figure.
A sharp tongue.
A chip on her shoulder.
And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston.

Frankie Laundau-Banks.
No longer the kind of girl to take “no” for an answer.
Especially when “no” means she’s excluded from her boyfriend’s all-male secret society.
Not when her ex boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places.
Not when she knows she’s smarter than any of them.
When she knows Matthew’s lying to her.
And when there are so many, many pranks to be done.

Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16:
Possibly a criminal mastermind.
This is the story of how she got that way. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
Why Frankie Landau-Banks is a kickass heroine:

-She takes everyone by surprise with her genius machinations
-Frankie is super sneaky
-She never takes no for an answer
-Her schemes are trying to communicate a deeper message
-She is all about female empowerment
-She's a vegetarian

Review: Split by Swati Avasthi

Thursday, April 25, 2013 9:00 AM
Title: Split 
Author: Swati Avasthi
Published: March 9, 2010
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Pages: 280
Source: Library
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“Sometimes I wonder why words can't actually make us bleed.”
―Swati Avasthi, Split

Sixteen-Year-Old Jace Witherspoon arrives at the doorstep of his estranged brother Christian with a re-landscaped face (courtesy of his father’s fist), $3.84, and a secret.

He tries to move on, going for new friends, a new school, and a new job, but all his changes can’t make him forget what he left behind—his mother, who is still trapped with his dad, and his ex-girlfriend, who is keeping his secret.

At least so far.

Worst of all, Jace realizes that if he really wants to move forward, he may first have to do what scares him most: He may have to go back. First-time novelist Swati Avasthi has created a riveting and remarkably nuanced portrait of what happens after. After you’ve said enough, after you’ve run, after you’ve made the split—how do you begin to live again? Readers won’t be able to put this intense page-turner down. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
I have been behind on reviews lately and that is NOT ACCEPTABLE! But don't worry, I'm on it. Sometimes, I read like a woman possessed and forget I'm supposed to actually be reviewing those books...

So, this review was tough to write. I don't know if I can ever fully describe all of the emotions Split made me feel. It was an intense read, and once I started, I couldn't stop. I needed to know what happened next. I tend to stick to the fantasy and paranormal genres because books are my chance to escape from reality. Yes, I might read darker fantasy, but after I finish that Stephen King book, I realize that none of these supernatural creatures exist outside of my imagination. Hopefully, that is. But the demons that haunt Jace Witherspoon are all too real. Yet while Split was a painful, emotional read, it was also a touching tale of two brothers rediscovering what it means to be family, and I thought it was brilliantly done.

Waiting on Wednesday (28) - Asylum by Madeleine Roux

Wednesday, April 24, 2013 7:00 AM
Waiting on Wednesday is hosted over at Breaking the Spine. Every Wednesday, book bloggers highlight upcoming releases that they are looking forward to. 

Asylum by Madeleine Roux
Hits Shelves on August 27, 2013
Add to Goodreads
Asylum is a thrilling and creepy photo-novel perfect for fans of the New York Times bestseller Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program--it's a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum--a last resort for the criminally insane.

As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it's no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux's teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity. (Goodreads)
Why I'm Waiting
Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums...count me in! I loved how Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children had creepy photos throughout the book. It gave me goosebumps! Now, this book definitely sounds like a spooky treat, and I have always been morbidly fascinated with insane asylums. Abnormal Psychology was one of my favorite classes in college. What can I say? I find the brain fascinating. Though dissecting a cow eye did not make my day.

Asylum seems to have all the ingredients that make a Courtney book! Suspense, horror, insane people...I cannot wait!

What are you guys waiting for this week? Let me know in the comments or leave a link!

Top Ten Books I Thought I'd Like MORE Than I Did (22)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 7:00 AM
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week, bloggers post Top Ten lists based on a bookish theme. This week's Top Ten Tuesday is:

Top Ten Books I Thought I'd Like MORE Than I Did

Sometimes, I highly anticipate a book, only to be disappointed when I finally get to read it. I try not to get my hopes up anymore when it comes to upcoming releases, but that is nearly impossible. Here's some books I thought I would love, or at least really enjoy, but was mistaken.

1. Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan - With such a unique premise and beautiful cover, I had the highest expectations for Unspoken, but I just could not connect with the characters at all. I'll probably continue the series, but I won't be in any hurry to read the sequel Untold.

2. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan - I had hoped this book would be a refreshingly new take on zombies, but it was a major letdown. In fact, this was almost a DNF. It was a slow read and I could not wrap my head around this love quadrangle.

3. Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz - I've heard such great things about Moskowitz's books, so I was eager to get my hands on Teeth. But the magical realism went too far, and I was so busy trying to understand the symbolism that I couldn't enjoy the story.

4. Mystic City by Theo Lawrence - For some reason, I was really excited to read Mystic City. I think the main reason was the stunning cover. While this book had a fascinating premise and star-crossed lovers, the plot followed a predictable route.

5. Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey - Once again, I judged a book by its cover, assuming a beautiful cover means a book worth reading. In this case, I was wrong. Dragonswood was fantasy on steroids. There were witches, dragons, fairies, and an abundance of fantastical creatures, and I felt overwhelmed. There was too much going on, and it felt like this was several books crammed into one.

6. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand - The Unearthly series seems to have attracted quite a following, but I was not impressed. The narrator was unbelievably shallow, and that was just one of several issues I had with Unearthly.

7. False Memory by Dan Krokos - I thought I'd give science fiction a chance with False Memory. While False Memory was a fast-paced, action-packed book, I was not fully invested in the story.

8. Possess by Gretchen McNeil - Possess had the creepy factor I was hoping for, but I felt no connection with the narrator. She was annoying, and despite her strong feelings for the love interest, she frequently insulted him and pushed him away. But he still kept coming back! Some of these characters were just too aggravating for me.

9. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare - I was a huge fan of the popular series The Infernal Devices, and I was highly anticipating the third book and the final installment. But Clockwork Princess was so disappointing and paled in comparison to the first two books. The ending was ridiculous and left me feeling immensely unsatisfied. Not to mention, favorite characters acted in inconceivable ways. 

10. The Archived by Victoria Schwab - With such an imaginative premise, I was looking forward to The Archived for months before its release. Unfortunately, I did not love this book as much as I predicted. I definitely liked it, but the first half was slow going and I needed more world building.

What books did you think you'd like MORE/LESS than you actually did? Let me know in the comments below!

In My Mailbox (17) - The Monstrumologist Series

Sunday, April 21, 2013 12:59 PM
In My Mailbox is hosted over at The Story Siren. In My Mailbox gives book bloggers the chance to showcase the books they've received over the past week.

-The Monstrumologist
-The Curse of the Wendigo
-The Isle of Blood - all by Rick Yancey

I loved, LOVED The Monstrumologist, and my review will be coming soon! After finishing the first book in this horrific, blood-chilling series, I just had to immediately buy all the books that are out in this series. The Monstrumologist is basically Sherlock Holmes meets Supernatural. As of now, I am currently reading The Curse of the Wendigo, and it is just as suspenseful, thrilling and terrifying as The Monstrumologist. I have found a new favorite author, and I cannot wait for The 5th Wave's release!

What did everyone else receive this week?

Review: Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

Friday, April 19, 2013 10:00 AM
Title: Sweetly
Author: Jackson Pearce
Published: August 23, 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Series: Fairytale Retellings #2
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Retelling
Pages: 310
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3.5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“I should be mad. I should hate her. I should judge her. But there is some madness in love.”
― Jackson Pearce, Sweetly

As a child, Gretchen's twin sister was taken by a witch in the woods. Ever since, Gretchen and her brother, Ansel, have felt the long branches of the witch's forest threatening to make them disappear, too.

Years later, when their stepmother casts Gretchen and Ansel out, they find themselves in sleepy Live Oak, South Carolina. They're invited to stay with Sophia Kelly, a beautiful candy maker who molds sugary magic: coveted treats that create confidence, bravery, and passion.

Life seems idyllic and Gretchen and Ansel gradually forget their haunted past -- until Gretchen meets handsome local outcast Samuel. He tells her the witch isn't gone -- it's lurking in the forest, preying on girls every year after Live Oak's infamous chocolate festival, and looking to make Gretchen its next victim. Gretchen is determined to stop running and start fighting back. Yet the further she investigates the mystery of what the witch is and how it chooses its victims, the more she wonders who the real monster is.

Gretchen is certain of only one thing: a monster is coming, and it will never go away hungry. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
It is official. I am a klutz. This week was all sorts of weird. Not only was I recovering from a nasty sinus infection, but, on top of that, I sprained my ankle because I am one of the clumsiest individuals ever, and I am apparently incapable of walking. I will not divulge the details of how I sprained my ankle because it's embarrassing and pathetic, but suffice it to say that it was painful. Fortunately, the discomfort of walking/hobbling around has minimized to an annoying throb so I am almost back to tip top shape. Yay! So onto book reviewing from the comfort of my couch...

is a retelling of the classic fairy tale Hansel and Gretel. As I'm sure you all know, Hansel and Gretel is the tale of two siblings that find themselves lost in the woods and threatened by a cannibalistic witch that lives in a house made of sweets. It's a horrific tale that was recorded by the Brothers Grimm and published in 1812. German folk tales seem to largely deal with the macabre and are most likely traumatizing to small children. But I will probably read The Grimm Fairytales to my children. Does that make me messed up in the head? Most definitely. But anywho, as with Sisters Red, Sweetly is a dark, gruesome tale that was inspired by Hansel and Gretel, but greatly deviates from the original tale's storyline.

Waiting on Wednesday (27) - Unnatural Creatures: Stories Selected by Neil Gaiman

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 7:00 AM
Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine. Waiting on Wednesday gives bloggers a chance to highlight upcoming releases that they are highly anticipating.

Unnatural Creatures: Stories Selected by Neil Gaiman by Neil Gaiman
Hits Shelves on April 23, 2013
Add to Goodreads
A griffin, a werewolf, a sunbird . . .

These are just some of the fantastical creatures you'll encounter within these pages. From the cockatoucan, whose laugh rearranges an entire kingdom, to the roving shapeless Beast that lurks in a forest, herein is a collection of rare and magnificent species. Each one will thrill, delight, and quite possibly unnerve you.

Selected by master storyteller Neil Gaiman, the sixteen stories in this menagerie will introduce you to a host of strange, wondrous beings that have never existed anyplace but in the richness of the imagination.

With stories from Neil Gaiman, Diana Wynne Jones, E. Nesbit, and many more, Unnatural Creatures will benefit the literacy nonprofit 826DC. (Goodreads)
Why I'm Waiting
I don't read nearly enough short stories. I've always been more of a novel fan than a lover of anthologies, but I simply cannot wait for this collection of short stories. I mean, they were selected by Neil Gaiman! And the stories deal with supernatural creatures, a favorite subject of mine. Thankfully, I don't have long to wait for its release!

What is everyone else waiting for this week?

Top Ten Favorite Kick-Ass Heroines (21)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 12:19 PM
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. Top Ten Tuesday is where bloggers post top ten lists based off of a bookish theme. This week's is a Top Ten Tuesday Rewind! Book bloggers can either choose a past Top Ten Tuesday prompt they missed or revisit one they already participated in.

Somehow, I missed posting Top Ten Favorite Kick-Ass Heroines, and I've regretted it ever since. So I decided to remedy this mistake!

Top Ten Favorite Kick-Ass Heroines

1. Katsa from Graceling - In Graceling, certain people are graced with special abilities. Katsa's "grace" is basically kicking ass. She is a force to be reckoned with, and she definitely belongs on this list.

2. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series - Without Hermione's quick thinking and book smarts, Harry would have never defeated the Dark Lord. She has helped both Harry and Ron out of so many tight situations, saving their lives again and again.

3. Saba from Blood Red Road - Saba is one tough cookie. She may not start off as the most likable character, but I couldn't help but admire her fighting spirit.

4. Eowyn from The Lord of the Rings series - Eowyn kills the Witch-king of Angmar after so many men tried to do the same and failed. Nuff said.

5. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games series - She's a kickass archer and she survives till the very end in the competition. I may not always like "The Girl on Fire," but I do respect her.

6-7. Daenerys Targaryen / Arya Stark from A Song of Ice and Fire series - This may be cheating, considering I have yet to actually read the books. But I have watched the show, and Daenerys is by far my favorite character, with Arya coming in as a close second. You don't mess with Daenerys. You just don't. And Arya would much rather wield a sword than do embroidery.

8. Alanna from the Song of the Lioness series - Alanna proves that a woman can achieve knighthood. She overcomes every obstacle thrown in her way and becomes an inspiration for other aspiring lady knights.

9. Yelena from the Magic Study series - I only started this series recently, but I can already tell Yelena is a fighter. In Poison Study, she refuses to remain defenseless and she has others train her to fight. With her magical abilities increasing in strength as well, she is shaping into a powerful woman.

10. Ismae from Grave Mercy - Ismae owns a headband of poisonous pearls and garrote bracelets. You obviously don't want to get on her bad side.

What's your Top Ten this week?

Review: If He Had Been With Me By Laura Nowlin

Monday, April 15, 2013 10:00 AM
Title: If He Had Been With Me
Author: Laura Nowlin
Published: April 1, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Pages: 330
Source: Purchased
Rating: 1 star
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“I've loved him my whole life, and somewhere along the way, that love didn't change but grew. It grew to fill the parts of me that I did not have when I was a child. It grew with every new longing of my body and desire until there was not a piece of me that did not love him. And when I look at him, there is no other feeling in me.”
― Laura Nowlin, If He Had Been With Me

If he had been with me, he wouldn't have died.

Throughout their whole childhood, Finn and Autumn were inseparable—they finished each other's sentences, they knew just what to say when the other person was hurting. But one incident in middle school puts them in separate social worlds come high school, and Autumn has been happily dating James for the last 2 years. But she's always wondered what if...

The night she's about to get the answer is also one of terrible tragedy. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
I must prepare you. This is going to be a really negative review. I had been looking forward to If He Had Been With Me because I was seeing positive reviews and I thought this premise had real potential. But this book was such a disappointment, and I really struggled to finish it despite its short length.

In My Mailbox (16)

Sunday, April 14, 2013 12:00 PM
In My Mailbox is hosted over at The Story Siren. In My Mailbox gives bloggers a chance to showcase the books they've received, bought, borrowed, etc over the past week. I'm very happy with the books I got this week.

-Feed by M.T. Anderson - I've been meaning to read this book for years, ever since I saw it sitting on my AP English teacher's desk in high school. I picked it up when he was out of the room, and I was intrigued by the synopsis. That teacher had really high standards when it came to books so I knew I had to read it, especially with such a wild premise. 

-Black Heart by Holly Black - Finally, the paperback is out and I have the complete Curse Workers series sitting on my bookshelf! Cannot wait to finish this beloved series.

-Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty - I look forward to reading the third installment of the Jessica Darling series! Jessica Darling is living the college life now!

-The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle - Once I discovered The Hollow Kingdom is a "Beauty and the Beast" retelling, I knew I had to read it!

What was in everyone else's mailbox this week?

Review: Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty

Thursday, April 11, 2013 9:00 AM

Title: Second Helpings
Author: Megan McCafferty
Published: April 22, 2003
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Series: Jessica Darling #2
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Pages: 349
Source: Library
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

*Warning: This book review contains spoilers for Sloppy Firsts*
“We are perfect in our imperfection.”
― Megan McCafferty, Second Helpings

Jessica Darling is up in arms again in this much-anticipated, hilarious sequel to Sloppy Firsts. This time, the hyperobservant, angst-ridden teenager is going through the social and emotional ordeal of her senior year at Pineville High. Not only does the mysterious and oh-so-compelling Marcus Flutie continue to distract Jessica, but her best friend, Hope, still lives in another state, and she can’t seem to escape the clutches of the Clueless Crew, her annoying so-called friends. To top it off, Jessica’s parents won’t get off her butt about choosing a college, and her sister Bethany’s pregnancy is causing a big stir in the Darling household.

With keen intelligence, sardonic wit, and ingenious comedic timing, Megan McCafferty again re-creates the tumultuous world of today’s fast-moving and sophisticated teens.(Goodreads)
My Thoughts
When I first heard about the enigma that is Jessica Darling, I was skeptical. I've never been one for high school drama or angst-ridden, hormonal teens obsessing over bodily image and the sexual activity of their classmates. Who wants to revisit the dreadful insecurities and stress of our high school years? So I was shocked when I finished Sloppy Firsts and realized that I was hooked. Second Helpings was no exception, and I actually found myself enjoying the sequel more. This book was jam-packed with exciting developments that had me frantically turning the pages to find out what happens next.

Waiting on Wednesday (26) - Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 7:00 AM
Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the SpineWaiting on Wednesday gives bloggers a chance to post the books they are highly anticipating.

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
Hits Shelves on September 10, 2013
Add to Goodreads
Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn't leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it…

With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own. (Goodreads)
Why I'm Waiting
As always, I judge a book by its cover and if Not a Drop to Drink reads as beautifully as its cover looks, I will not be disappointed. Plus, the premise helps. That last line in the synopsis really grabbed my interest. A world not different than our own? How does this post-apocalyptic world compare to our reality? My curiosity is killing me and I'm excited to read this book when it's released!

So, what are you waiting for this week?!

Review: Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Tuesday, April 9, 2013 9:00 AM
Title: Clockwork Princess 
Author: Cassandra Clare
Published: March 19, 2013
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Series: Infernal Devices #3
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Pages: 570
Source: Purchased
Rating: 2 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

*Warning: This book review contains spoilers for Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince*
“A very magnanimous statement, Gideon,” said Magnus.
“I’m Gabriel.”
Magnus waved a hand. “All Lightwoods look the same to me.”
― Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Princess

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.

Tessa Gray should be happy - aren't all brides happy?
Yet as she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute.

A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. And Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa's heart, will do anything to save her. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
No. Just no. This is like Breaking Dawn all over again except I loved the Infernal Devices series so much more than I ever loved the Twilight series. Now one of my favorite series has been ruined for me. I am in denial. Nope. This did not happen. Cassandra Clare, what could have possessed you to end the Infernal Devices the way you did? I was hoping that Clockwork Princess, with that breathtaking cover, would be a stunning finish to this popular series, but it left me reeling with disbelief. I will admit I foresaw some of what happened, but besides the predictable parts, I could not believe how this love triangle unfolded. It was another wtfery moment for me. HOW COULD THIS HAVE HAPPENED?

In My Mailbox (15)

Sunday, April 7, 2013 10:48 AM
In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren. With In My Mailbox, bloggers showcase the books and other bookish goodies they received over the past week.

My book haul is light this week, which is definitely a good thing for my wallet.

-If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin

I'm so happy to have this book in my possession! I will definitely be reading it soon!

Bought (Kindle):
-Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

I'm super excited to try out my first Rainbow Rowell book because I've heard such great things! Though I will admit that my main reason for wanting to read this book so badly is because it takes place in the 80's, and I've always felt like I should have lived in the 80's. I LOVE anything 80's! The music, John Hughes movies, the fashion style....and I just can't wait to read this book! Plus, the Eleanor & Park Kindle edition was on sale for $4.99 so I could not resist!

What's in everyone else's mailboxes this week?

The Swan Kingdom by Zoë Marriott Book Review

Saturday, April 6, 2013 10:00 AM
Title: The Swan Kingdom
Author: Zoë Marriott
Published: March 5, 2007
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Retelling
Pages: 272
Source: Gift
Rating: 3.5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“To ugly ducklings everywhere,
Don't worry about those fluffy yellow morons:
They'll never get to be swans”
― Zoë Marriott, The Swan Kingdom

When Alexandra’s mother is slain by an unnatural beast, shadows fall on the once-lush kingdom. Too soon the widowed king is entranced by a cunning stranger — and in one chilling moment Alexandra’s beloved brothers disappear, and she is banished to a barren land. Rich in visual detail, sparked by a formidable evil, and sweetened with familial and romantic love, here is the tale of a girl who discovers powerful healing gifts — and the courage to use them to save her ailing kingdom. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
I love fairytale retellings because it gives you a chance to revisit an old, familiar tale that has been passed down from generation to generation. But at the same time, each retelling brings something new to the table as the author claims each version as their own.  The Swan Kingdom is a retelling of Han Anderson's classic fairytale The Wild Swans which is very similar to the Grimm fairytale The Six Swans. Daughter of The Forest by Juliet Marillier is a popular retelling of The Six Swans story, and a book I enjoyed immensely, so I was already familiar with the storyline. In The Wild Swans, one girl must endure great suffering and pain in order to break the spell cast upon her brothers by their wicked stepmother. The Swan Kingdom followed this plot to a certain point and then veered off on its own path. This book was beautifully written and had an imaginative twist, but it fell short of my high expectations.

Stars In Her Eyes by Clare C. Marshall Cover Reveal

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 9:00 AM
I am beyond excited to participate in this cover reveal! Drum roll please...and here's the cover for Clare C. Marshall's Stars In Her Eyes! I love how vibrant and colorful it is!

Stars In Her Eyes (Sparkstone Saga #1)
Author: Clare C. Marshall
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction/Adventure
Publisher: Faery Ink Press
Publishing date: May 13, 2013
Burn hot and cold.

Read minds.

Disappear at will.

Dream your own death.

Welcome to Sparkstone University, where some students are more gifted than others.

When Ingrid learns she’s been accepted at the hyper-secretive Sparkstone University, she is skeptical  It’s an honour to attend, apparently, and yet barely anyone has ever heard of the place.

And everyone seems a little too happy that she’s there: especially when she meets Sunni and her group of friends. They seem to already know Ingrid. As if she was expected. Expected to save Earth from an imminent alien invasion. Like she has superpowers or something.

As if magic and mutations exist. As if aliens are really planning to attack.

That just sounds ridiculous. There’s no such thing.


About the Author
Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Clare C. Marshall grew up in rural Nova Scotia with very little television and dial up internet, and yet, she turned out okay. She has a combined honours degree in journalism and psychology from the University of King’s College, and is a graduate from Humber College’s Creative Book Publishing Program. She is a full time freelance editor, book designer, web manager, and publishing consultant. She enjoys publishing books through her imprint, Faery Ink Press. When she’s not writing, she enjoys playing the fiddle and making silly noises at cats.

Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below for a chance at winning a Stars In Her Eyes eARC! Two winners will be chosen. 

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The Infamous Book Blogging Slump

Monday, April 1, 2013 9:00 AM
Every so often, I fall into a deep and dark book blogging slump. It comes without warning. Suddenly, I have no desire to write a single book review and no book can capture my interest, no matter the genre or length. I'm listless, frustrated, and can't even find the motivation to write a meme post. I feel like a lazy bum...

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I'm sure we've all been there. What bothers me the most is that I'm never entirely sure why this happens. For me personally, I think the book blogger slump hits whenever this blog starts to feel like work instead of a beloved pastime. I started Courtney Reads A Lot because I love to read and I wanted to share my thoughts and recommend books to others. I actually enjoy writing these reviews and meeting new bloggers and discussing our various opinions. But, sometimes, the pressure to read faster and write reviews quickly is just too much, and unfortunately, that makes me reluctant to either blog or read. If I plan a strict schedule of blog posts and reading, it sucks all the joy out of blogging. I place so much emphasis on reading this book by this date that I lose sight of why I really started this blog.

Whenever I feel a blogging slump come on, that's my cue to take a little breather. I know I need to step back and relax, and maybe even take a tiny break from my blog. Sometimes, I stress myself out so much that the best thing to do is anything but blogging. And then I return to my blog only when I feel a little more levelheaded.

So what about you guys? Do you suffer from the same problem? What helps you out of a book blogger slump? Any suggestions?

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