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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Feature and Follow Friday is a blog hop created to help get to know fellow book bloggers. It's hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee.


Q: If you could only have ONE – one book – for the rest of your life. What would it be?


Only one? That would be torture. I'll say Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. It has a little bit of everything considered relevant to literature and world history and it's around 1,500 pages so it would keep me busy for a long time. Plus it reminds me of the Harriet the Spy sequel I read when I was a kid, The Long Secret, which features it.

If that's considered cheating, then Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Also very long, very entertaining, and contains both wizards and footnotes. 


It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

Summary from Goodreads

ARC received at BEA 2013

Review: The Bone Season has all the elements of an exciting novel set in an interesting new world, but  is dragged down under the weight of its own exposition. 

          Scion London is the result of history diverging from our own in the time of Edward VII with people suddenly developing psychic powers. The government, in an effort to control this phenomena, created Scion citadels. There purpose is to control the population and weed out anyone with clairvoyant abilities: the people known as "voyants". There are many different kinds of  voyants: soothsayers, palmists, oracles, tasseographers, julkies, with different abilities. A chart is provided at the start of the novel. In order to stay safe from the authorities many voyants join a crime syndicate with various gangs controlled by "mime-lords" who control various sectors of the city and engage in "mime-crime". One day she is caught and sent to the prison city Sheol I.  Paige must now fight a war against otherworldly creatures (Emim)at the behest of a different race of otherworldly creatures (Rephaim). If all of this sounds very complicated, that's because it is. 

           I'm normally the last person to complain about a complicated narrative, it's just that information in this one is provided so clumsily, and it seems to go on forever, largely at the expense of character. I understand the urge to share every detail about a world you've created, but some things seemed irrelevant or overly detailed. The description of the various sectors for example.  As for clumsy exposition: Paige entertains herself on a train ride by reading the information on her ID and reflecting on the history of Scion. As one does. We learn about Sheol I through Paige wandering around having conversations with various helpful but one-dimensional characters. It's very hard to care about any of this. I feel this switch in setting would have had more impact had the narrative spent more time in Scion London at first. The rules of the world must be firmly established before breaking them can have any meaning, and its hard to care about characters you know very little about.  Therefore, when Paige talks about missing her gang, it's meaningless because the reader has no idea who those people are or the nature of her relationships, beyond that it's a dangerous gang that works her to exhaustion.

          The story does gain more momentum around the halfway point. We learn more about Paige's Raphaim keeper, Warden, and are finally introduced to the often-referenced gang members (via dream flashback). Finally actual characters with personalties! The action picks up as well as the Emim appear and Paige begins to take action. In the beginning I would pick this book up, read a few pages, then put it down, but the last 200 pages had me riveted. That's why despite the rocky first half I will definitely  be reading the sequel and do give a tentative recommendation. The world is interesting, and now that most of the heavy exposition is out of the way, I'm curious how Shannon will continue. This is a debut novel, much of the information  may be relevant in one of the projected sequels, and there were enough interesting character beats and originality that I'd like to read more about them. 

Recommended for: People who enjoy reading about alternate worlds with a complicated mythology, a little romance, action, and lots of exposition.

3 out of 5 bone-grubbers
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
With thanks to Breaking the Spine for hosting.

This week's selection is:

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, flawed coping mechanisms, mayhem, and other things that happened.

Named one of the Funniest Sites on the Web by PC World and winner of the 2011 Bloggies Awards for Most Humorous Weblog and Best Writing, the creator of the immensely popular “Hyperbole and a Half” blog presents an illustrated collection of her hilarious stories with fifty percent new content.In a four-color, illustrated collection of stories and essays, Allie Brosh’s debut Hyperbole and a Half chronicles the many “learning experiences” Brosh has endured as a result of her own character flaws, and the horrible experiences that other people have had to endure because she was such a terrible child.  Possibly the worst child.  For example, one time she ate an entire cake just to spite her mother.

Brosh’s website receives millions of unique visitors a month and hundreds of thousands of visitors a day. This amalgamation of new material and reader favorites from Brosh's blog includes stories about her rambunctious childhood; the highs and mostly lows of owning a smart, neurotic dog and a mentally challenged one; and moving, honest, and darkly comic essays tackling her struggles with depression and anxiety, among other anecdotes from Brosh's life. Artful, poignant, and uproarious, Brosh’s self-reflections have already captured the hearts of countless readers and her book is one that fans and newcomers alike will treasure.

Expected Publication: Oct. 29, 2013

I love, love, love Ali Brosh's website: Hyperbole and a Half. It's hilarious and has brought us such memes as "Clean all the things!" and the "Alot". The updates to the site have dropped off as she struggled with depression and focused on her book, and I can't wait for the new material. I really want this book to do well, Brosh has a unique comic style and an honesty. She expresses the effects of depression well without losing her comic tone. Her work is great.
Tuesday, August 27, 2013


With thanks to The Broke and the Bookish for creating and hosting this meme.

This week's topic...TOP TEN MINOR CHARACTERS:

1. Hassan Harbish from An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. Main character Colin's best friend, Hassan is hilarious, and supportive of his friend's need to get away after a bad breakup. The best thing about Hassan is that he has his own character arc separate from Colin's, he comes to his own epiphany. 

Sample Quote: "Sometimes the kafir likes to say massively obvious things in a really profound voice." - An Abundance of Katherines

2. Myrnin from The Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine. I have mixed feelings about this series, but Myrnin is one of the more compelling elements. He's a vampire mad scientist working in a town created as a settlement for vampires. He wears bunny slippers that have fangs and borrows neighbor's crock pots for experiments, yet can be pretty sinister. First appears in book 3 of the series: Midnight Alley.

Sample Quote: “Goodness," Myrnin said quietly. "I don't think I should be watching this. I don't think I'm old enough.” - Fade Out

3. The Luidaeg from the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire. Considered to be the bogeyman of the  fae society that populates McGuire's world, this character strikes up a friendship with herione Toby Daye while she waits for Toby to call in the favor she owes, freeing the Luidaeg to kill her. They play chess and eat bagels together with the occasional threat. The relationship evolves, which reminds me I need to read the last two novels, One Salt Sea has lots of Luidaeg.

Sample Quote: "...I should set up a deal like that. Bother me and I get to eat you." - A Local Habitation

4. Gentleman "Johnny" Marcone  from The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. The crime lord Dresden's Chicago, in a world populated by supernatural creatures a "vanilla mortal" is one of the most powerful. A villain with an iron will, Marcone is ruthless but with a glimmer of humanity. Surprisingly he's also Harry Dresden's ally more often than not. A Dresden novel is always improved by his presence. 

Sample Quote: "Compassion dictates that we must make allowances. Mister Dresden is a diplomatically challenged individual. He should be in a shelter for the tactless." - Death Masks

5. Jamie Crawford from The Demon's Lexicon trilogy by Sarah Rees Brennan. A self-proclaimed coward who proves he's no coward at all, Jamie puts up with frequent bullying at his high school due to his sexual orientation but refuses to change who he is. He has a great relationship with his sister and all his interactions with Nick are gold. 

Sample quote: “I don’t know what I saw. It could’ve been a hallucination. You get those from sniffing glue.”
“You’ve never sniffed glue!”“I’ve smelled glue,” Jamie said after a pause. “In art class.” - The Demon's Lexicon



6. Rue from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - The clever little girl from District 11 who allies with Katniss in the arena. I'm probably alone in this, but I'd trade Peeta in for Rue any day. Cried reading the book, watching the first movie trailer, and in the movie theater while getting the side-eye from my friends.

Sample quote: "It might not work. But if you hear the mocking-jays singing it, you'll know I'm okay, only I can't get back right away." - The Hunger Games

7. Ringer from The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. Smarter than most, she's the one to figure things out. I vastly preferred her to the POV character of that storyline.

Sample quote: "Trust me, Zombie; I'm an expert on what matters. Up to now, I've been playing blind man's bluff. Time for some chess."

8. Connie from I Hunt Killers books by Barry Lyga. The anchor to Jasper Dent's humanity in the first book, Connie takes matters into her own hands in the second to solve a mystery in The Game. Maybe it's a foolhardy choice but she's an active character and I respect that. I also need book 3 ASAP. 

Sample quote: "This is why I forgive, but I don't forget. When you forget someone, the forgiveness doesn't mean anything anymore." - I Hunt Killers

9. Awful from Archer's Goon by Diana Wynne Jones. I loved this headstrong little girl who earned her nickname due to her screaming tantrums. She's fun to read about but I wouldn't want to babysit her. 

Sample quote: "You go away Goon," she said. "Howard's bag is covered in the blood of little girls." - Archer's Goon

10. Maggie Leigh from NOS4A2 by Joe Hill. A librarian who can read the future in Scabble tiles at the cost of a severe stutter, Maggie acts as a guide to the heroine. She was really interesting, I wish there was there had been more of her.

Sample quote: "Oh, darn, V-V-V-Vic. You're gonna muh-m-make me cry! What's better in the whole world than words?" -NOS4A2

I could go on and on, probably with a top 50 minor character list. What are your favorite minor characters?


Monday, August 26, 2013
 
Wrap-Up

3 books read: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
                    Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve     
                    Tucholke
                    Ashes on the Waves by Mary Lindsey

1 previously started book finished: Your Movie Sucks by Roger Ebert
1 Start of a new novel: 40 Pages of The Burning Sky By Sherry Thomas

# of pages read: 1,338

I started strong during this readathon but the week got busier toward the end. Overall I'm pleased with my progress. I had fun participating in challenges and twitter chats, and would definitely participate again.


Saturday, August 24, 2013
What if the world's worst serial killer...was your dad?

Jasper "Jazz" Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.

But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal's point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo's Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?



Review: I Hunt Killers is a well-characterized and suspenseful YA thriller. The hero, Jasper Dent, is dynamic and compelling as he strives not only to discover the identity of the latest killer in Lobo's Nod but to hold on to his humanity despite the shadow of his father's influence. Jasper's struggle is psychologically interesting, as he feels both nature and nurture work against him: his upbringing and his complicity in his father's crimes as well as the mental illness that runs through the Dent family. 

Luckily Jasper has a cast of well-developed characters to back him up and keep him from falling back on his father's sociopathic tendencies. Notables include Connie, Jasper's girlfriend, who's African American, enjoys acting, does not indulge Jasper's crap or self-loathing, and is awesome. There's also his Howie, a hemophiliac who's always ready with a joke and will back Jasper up as long as he agrees to receiving a tattoo of Howie's choice. Rounding out the cast is Sheriff G. William Tanner, the man responsible for arresting Jasper's father, Billy Dent. And of course there's Billy Dent himself, a genius serial killer whose facade is a good ol' country guy but who can get inside a person's head faster than you can say "Hannibal Lecter". 

The suspense builds as the body count rises and the characters are placed in danger, it's a fast read. One thing I liked was that the book sold me on the premise, a teenager hunting serial killers could stretch how far a reader is willing to suspend disbelief, but given the background provided for Jasper the story works. All in all a great YA thriller. Recommended for those who enjoy YA novels and thrillers along the lines of the TV show Criminal Minds.

Five out of five crime scenes.

N.B. The novel might not be for everyone due to gore and violence, including sexual violence. This does not take place on page but is referred to. There is also violence towards animals, specifically a dog.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Feature and Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read wherein bloggers answer a question about themselves and connect with other bloggers as well :)

This week it's a book selfie:



The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

My reads lately have been disappointing but a lot of people loved this one, and it's right in my wheelhouse. It's been good so far!


What are you reading?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

# of pages read in The Bone Season: 322
# of pages read in Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: 38
# of pages read in Ashes on the Waves:263


Attention span: short

Total # of pages: 623


Challenges:

Book Spine Poetry - hosted by Such a Novel Idea

I call it "A Mystery":


On the Road
In the Woods
The Madness Underneath
The House on Durrow Street
The Bloody Chamber
The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie
Who Done It?

The TBR Mini Challenge - Hosted by Musings of a Bookshop Girl

Five Books at the Top of My TBR:

1. The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas - so excited
2. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater - I loved the first book in this series
3. True Crime edited by Lee Gutkind - this is from Librarything, need to review
4. Necessary Errors by Caleb Crain - New Yorker recommended this
5. The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Shneider - I should read more contemporary 

Five Books on My Wishlist

1. Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay - Fairytale retelling!
2. Narrative Comprehension and Film by Edward Branigan - I'm fascinated by the mechanics of storytelling in all its forms
3. In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell -This could be interesting or possibly terrible
4. Sea Change by S.M Wheeler - This sounds right up my alley
5.Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween - Don't judge me


Bout of Books Day 4 Update

These past couple of days have been hectic so I haven't really been getting an appreciable amount of reading done. But I thought this challenge was awesome so here it is:


Bookish Mad Libs Challenge:


A. The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway
B. The Trunchbull - Matilda by Roald Dahl
C. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
D. One Thousand and One Nights: A Retelling by Hanan Al-Shaykh
E. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
F. Captain Wentworth - Persuasion by Jane Austen
G. Enemy Pie by Derek Munson

Help! I'm being held captive in  The River of No Return, by The Trunchbull!
It is very Great and Terrible here!
(He/She) is demanding  One Thousand and One Fangirl(s) to set me free!
I have just discovered that Captain Wentworth was captured too!
On second thought, please send Enemy Pies, and don't worry if you don't hear from us for awhile!

Much Love,


Jaime

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event where a spotlight is shone on eagerly awaited releases.
Thank you to Breaking the Spine for hosting!

This week's selection: 


The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman
They called it the killing day. Twelve people dead, all in the space of a few hours. Five murderers: neighbors, relatives, friends. All of them so normal. All of them seemingly harmless. All of them now dead by their own hand . . . except one. And that one has no answers to offer the shattered town. She doesn't even know why she killed—or whether she'll do it again.

Something is waking in the sleepy town of Oleander's, Kansas—something dark and hungry that lives in the flat earth and the open sky, in the vengeful hearts of upstanding citizens. As the town begins its descent into blood and madness, five survivors of the killing day are the only ones who can stop Oleander from destroying itself. Jule, the outsider at war with the world; West, the golden boy at war with himself; Daniel, desperate for a different life; Cass, who's not sure she deserves a life at all; and Ellie, who believes in sacrifice, fate, and in evil. Ellie, who always goes too far. They have nothing in common. They have nothing left to lose. And they have no way out. Which means they have no choice but to stand and fight, to face the darkness in their town—and in themselves. 

Expected Publication: September 10, 2013

I've never read anything by Robin Wasserman before, but this story looks really good. I always like to read dark and scary books in the weeks leading up to Halloween, it'd be a perfect addition. I missed out on it at BEA because I didn't realize Wasserman was there doing a signing, I would've waited on any kind of line. Oh well, live and learn.

I can hardly wait to read this book. Put it in front of my eyeballs!



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

1. The top thing that makes my life easier as both a reader and a book blogger is Goodreads. Most people already are aware of and make use of this resource, it's great for keeping track of books I've read, seeing several reviews of a particular book in one place, and getting information about upcoming releases from favorite authors.

2. Before I joined Goodreads I used a notebook my nephew gave me to keep track of all the books I read. I started it in 2009 and it's still good for jogging my memory:


3. My e-reader has made my life a lot easier. I received it as a gift and was initially resistant to using it as it signaled the death of print, independent bookstores, etc. etc. but I have become a convert. I've never been too sentimental about books as physical objects, mainly because growing up my mother hated any kind of clutter and would have me do a book purge annually. Now I have a whole library with me to carry wherever. Of course I still buy regular old books and use library books but the e-reader has saved my back by not having to carry quite so many heavy boxes when moving. It also cut down the chances of my family turning me in for a Hoarders intervention. 

4. Bloglovin - This is my go to for compiling a feed of blogs to read. 

5. A Turn to Learn - Resource for basic tips and blogging how-to's.

6. Blog Bulk - Basic tips for using Blogger.

7. The Strand - I love this bookstore, I've spent hours there. I especially love the basement level even though it's hot down there in the summer. It's not as crowded as the rest of the store can be so I can look through the shelves of literary criticism and the cheap paperback table without so many awkward squeeze-bys in the narrow lanes between shelves. Of course this only makes it easier to add to my TBR pile and deplete my cash, so I make these trips sparingly. 

That's all for today, I'll probably discover more things as I get deeper into blogging :) This site's definitely still under construction. 

Monday, August 19, 2013
Bout of Books: Update #1

# of pages read in Ashes on the Waves: 184
# of pages read in The Bone Season: 24

Total # of pages: 204







I'm hoping to read more of The Bone Season tonight. Here's what I'll pair it with tonight to help myself along:


Part of the Pairathon Challenge hosted by Book Pairing

Challenge #2 Hosted by Music Plus Books: Re-Title It Challenge
I would re-title it Won't Somebody Please Call the Coast Guard.
The original title is more poetic.



Happy Readathon!


In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?

Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.



Review: In the Shadow of Blackbirds is a creepy, melancholy historical novel that captures a sense of death as omnipresent, likely a not-uncommon feeling to those living in the United States in 1918. It's interesting that the novel not only focuses on the effects of WWI but also on the flu pandemic, a topic I don't believe I've ever seen addressed in fiction set in this time period (aside from Downton Abbey Season 2). The sad yet creepy atmosphere of the novel is its strongest feature: bodies are piled in the streets, everyone wears masks, and even leaving your home can be life threatening. Meanwhile more and more young men are sent overseas and return home changed and broken, if they return home at all. It's no wonder people became preoccupied with death and the hope of an afterlife. 
                
                  In fact I found the real-world historical elements so compelling that when the supernatural made an appearance it felt like an intrusion. However the central mystery was interesting and served as a way of tying in some poetry from WWI. The photographs were a nice touch, although not as frequent or as plot relevant as those found in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Overall I enjoyed this story for the mystery and the fact that Cat Winters had clearly put a lot of research behind it. 

                Character wise, there was one thing that bothered me a little. I liked that Mary Shelley Black was smart and knew it, and took action to solve the mystery and discover the true fate of Stephen, the boy she lost in the war. However I did feel she suffered a little from a syndrome I like to call Character Displaced In Time, where a character in a time period with a different set of social norms holds the views  of a kid born in the '90s. This is usually so the reader can find the character more relatable. Of course there were progressives in that time, and I don't disagree with Mary in general  but I disliked the way she looked down on every other female character for not being as awesome as she. From patronizing her aunt who works in a shipyard to criticizing the spiritualist's dress to being contemptuous of volunteers at a nursing home for soldiers based on a photograph of them pouring tea, Mary Shelley had a bit of an attitude I found hard to stomach. It which threw me out of the story every time it came up and lessoned my enjoyment of the novel overall.

3.5 haunted photographs. 
                
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Sunday, August 18, 2013
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 19th and runs through Sunday, August 25th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 8.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books  blog.


I'm so excited to be joining in a Read-a-thon! This one is low pressure, which is great and I'm hoping it'll motivate me to knock off some of my TBR. Here's a pile of books I'll be choosing from:




Also two e-books I'm hoping to finish:






Aren't those covers just gorgeous? I hope the interior matches.

GOALS: I normally read around 1 1/2 to 2 books a week depending on what I'm reading, so I'm going to try to double that to 4. Reading on my commute and reading in lieu of any TV should accomplish this :)

I'll also try to participate in at least two challenges, fingers crossed. 


I've already started The Bone Season and Ashes on the Waves, so I feel my goal is achievable. Hopefully I'll even surpass it.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black


Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself. (Summary from Goodreads.com)



Disclaimer: ARC received for review at BEA


Review: Holly Black’s latest novel is an entertaining addition to the vampire novel genre with a compelling heroine and, while not a subversion of tropes, displays the horror of vampires beyond the romantic idealization that is the norm these days. It owes a debt to vampire novels that have come before but adds many interesting elements to vampire lore to not be dismissed as simply derivative. There’s a tall dark and handsome vampire love interest with an angst-filled back story and the villain is melodramatic, but the interesting part is the Coldtown itself and the way its citizens make use of social media and televised live feeds to glamorize undeath and lure in lonely teens to feed upon.
            
          The main character, Tana, is interesting: defined by the trauma of her mother succumbing to vampire infection, her ambivalence towards turning “cold” and her risk taking behaviors make psychological sense; there are reasons why she is drawn to someone who is clearly dangerous (unlike another heroine *insert obligatory Twilight reference). She has agency and it is her struggle to survive with her humanity intact that drives the plot. Gavriel the vampire is not afforded the same level of depth but he too has his reasons for an interest in a teenager and his personality made for an entertaining character. The chemistry he has with Tana is sizzling. His backstory with the villain Lestat- excuse me I mean Lucien, was too Anne Rice-like to be interesting to someone who has read the Vampire Chronicles. Luckily it’s only a couple of chapters: this is Tana’s story.
            
         As far as supporting characters go the standouts are Tana’s self-centered ex boyfriend Aiden; Midnight and Winter, two bloggers lured to Coldtown by the promise of a new exciting existence; Tana’s little sister Pearl; and Valentina, a trans woman working in the Coldtown thrift shop. Lucien the aforementioned Big Bad is amusing in a campy way. He makes statements like: “Some sicknesses are worse than their cure” and “Every hero is the villain of their own story” to demonstrate he is profoundly full of nonsense.
            
         The inclusion of the blogger characters and the way the vampires capitalize on the Coldtown with various reality TV shows (or “Eternal Balls”) is an interesting idea and makes this the timely vampire novel for Millennials. The way people, particularly dissatisfied teens, are drawn in to horrors they are not prepared for via social media makes for chilling drama and world building. The details of the vampire infection and detox period adds dimension. Though the prose occasionally skids into purple territory and some plot beats are familiar, overall The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a worthwhile and entertaining read that I would recommend to any vampire fan.

4.5 blogging vampire wannabes.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Feature and Follow Friday #164


Feature and Follow Friday is a blog hop created to help get to know fellow book bloggers. It's hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee.


Q: If you could only have ONE – one book – for the rest of your life. What would it be?


Only one? That would be torture. I'll say Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. It has a little bit of everything considered relevant to literature and world history and it's around 1,500 pages so it would keep me busy for a long time. Plus it reminds me of the Harriet the Spy sequel I read when I was a kid, The Long Secret, which features it.

If that's considered cheating, then Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Also very long, very entertaining, and contains both wizards and footnotes. 


Review: The Bone Season

It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

Summary from Goodreads

ARC received at BEA 2013

Review: The Bone Season has all the elements of an exciting novel set in an interesting new world, but  is dragged down under the weight of its own exposition. 

          Scion London is the result of history diverging from our own in the time of Edward VII with people suddenly developing psychic powers. The government, in an effort to control this phenomena, created Scion citadels. There purpose is to control the population and weed out anyone with clairvoyant abilities: the people known as "voyants". There are many different kinds of  voyants: soothsayers, palmists, oracles, tasseographers, julkies, with different abilities. A chart is provided at the start of the novel. In order to stay safe from the authorities many voyants join a crime syndicate with various gangs controlled by "mime-lords" who control various sectors of the city and engage in "mime-crime". One day she is caught and sent to the prison city Sheol I.  Paige must now fight a war against otherworldly creatures (Emim)at the behest of a different race of otherworldly creatures (Rephaim). If all of this sounds very complicated, that's because it is. 

           I'm normally the last person to complain about a complicated narrative, it's just that information in this one is provided so clumsily, and it seems to go on forever, largely at the expense of character. I understand the urge to share every detail about a world you've created, but some things seemed irrelevant or overly detailed. The description of the various sectors for example.  As for clumsy exposition: Paige entertains herself on a train ride by reading the information on her ID and reflecting on the history of Scion. As one does. We learn about Sheol I through Paige wandering around having conversations with various helpful but one-dimensional characters. It's very hard to care about any of this. I feel this switch in setting would have had more impact had the narrative spent more time in Scion London at first. The rules of the world must be firmly established before breaking them can have any meaning, and its hard to care about characters you know very little about.  Therefore, when Paige talks about missing her gang, it's meaningless because the reader has no idea who those people are or the nature of her relationships, beyond that it's a dangerous gang that works her to exhaustion.

          The story does gain more momentum around the halfway point. We learn more about Paige's Raphaim keeper, Warden, and are finally introduced to the often-referenced gang members (via dream flashback). Finally actual characters with personalties! The action picks up as well as the Emim appear and Paige begins to take action. In the beginning I would pick this book up, read a few pages, then put it down, but the last 200 pages had me riveted. That's why despite the rocky first half I will definitely  be reading the sequel and do give a tentative recommendation. The world is interesting, and now that most of the heavy exposition is out of the way, I'm curious how Shannon will continue. This is a debut novel, much of the information  may be relevant in one of the projected sequels, and there were enough interesting character beats and originality that I'd like to read more about them. 

Recommended for: People who enjoy reading about alternate worlds with a complicated mythology, a little romance, action, and lots of exposition.

3 out of 5 bone-grubbers

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday #2

With thanks to Breaking the Spine for hosting.

This week's selection is:

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, flawed coping mechanisms, mayhem, and other things that happened.

Named one of the Funniest Sites on the Web by PC World and winner of the 2011 Bloggies Awards for Most Humorous Weblog and Best Writing, the creator of the immensely popular “Hyperbole and a Half” blog presents an illustrated collection of her hilarious stories with fifty percent new content.In a four-color, illustrated collection of stories and essays, Allie Brosh’s debut Hyperbole and a Half chronicles the many “learning experiences” Brosh has endured as a result of her own character flaws, and the horrible experiences that other people have had to endure because she was such a terrible child.  Possibly the worst child.  For example, one time she ate an entire cake just to spite her mother.

Brosh’s website receives millions of unique visitors a month and hundreds of thousands of visitors a day. This amalgamation of new material and reader favorites from Brosh's blog includes stories about her rambunctious childhood; the highs and mostly lows of owning a smart, neurotic dog and a mentally challenged one; and moving, honest, and darkly comic essays tackling her struggles with depression and anxiety, among other anecdotes from Brosh's life. Artful, poignant, and uproarious, Brosh’s self-reflections have already captured the hearts of countless readers and her book is one that fans and newcomers alike will treasure.

Expected Publication: Oct. 29, 2013

I love, love, love Ali Brosh's website: Hyperbole and a Half. It's hilarious and has brought us such memes as "Clean all the things!" and the "Alot". The updates to the site have dropped off as she struggled with depression and focused on her book, and I can't wait for the new material. I really want this book to do well, Brosh has a unique comic style and an honesty. She expresses the effects of depression well without losing her comic tone. Her work is great.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Minor Characters



With thanks to The Broke and the Bookish for creating and hosting this meme.

This week's topic...TOP TEN MINOR CHARACTERS:

1. Hassan Harbish from An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. Main character Colin's best friend, Hassan is hilarious, and supportive of his friend's need to get away after a bad breakup. The best thing about Hassan is that he has his own character arc separate from Colin's, he comes to his own epiphany. 

Sample Quote: "Sometimes the kafir likes to say massively obvious things in a really profound voice." - An Abundance of Katherines

2. Myrnin from The Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine. I have mixed feelings about this series, but Myrnin is one of the more compelling elements. He's a vampire mad scientist working in a town created as a settlement for vampires. He wears bunny slippers that have fangs and borrows neighbor's crock pots for experiments, yet can be pretty sinister. First appears in book 3 of the series: Midnight Alley.

Sample Quote: “Goodness," Myrnin said quietly. "I don't think I should be watching this. I don't think I'm old enough.” - Fade Out

3. The Luidaeg from the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire. Considered to be the bogeyman of the  fae society that populates McGuire's world, this character strikes up a friendship with herione Toby Daye while she waits for Toby to call in the favor she owes, freeing the Luidaeg to kill her. They play chess and eat bagels together with the occasional threat. The relationship evolves, which reminds me I need to read the last two novels, One Salt Sea has lots of Luidaeg.

Sample Quote: "...I should set up a deal like that. Bother me and I get to eat you." - A Local Habitation

4. Gentleman "Johnny" Marcone  from The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. The crime lord Dresden's Chicago, in a world populated by supernatural creatures a "vanilla mortal" is one of the most powerful. A villain with an iron will, Marcone is ruthless but with a glimmer of humanity. Surprisingly he's also Harry Dresden's ally more often than not. A Dresden novel is always improved by his presence. 

Sample Quote: "Compassion dictates that we must make allowances. Mister Dresden is a diplomatically challenged individual. He should be in a shelter for the tactless." - Death Masks

5. Jamie Crawford from The Demon's Lexicon trilogy by Sarah Rees Brennan. A self-proclaimed coward who proves he's no coward at all, Jamie puts up with frequent bullying at his high school due to his sexual orientation but refuses to change who he is. He has a great relationship with his sister and all his interactions with Nick are gold. 

Sample quote: “I don’t know what I saw. It could’ve been a hallucination. You get those from sniffing glue.”
“You’ve never sniffed glue!”“I’ve smelled glue,” Jamie said after a pause. “In art class.” - The Demon's Lexicon



6. Rue from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - The clever little girl from District 11 who allies with Katniss in the arena. I'm probably alone in this, but I'd trade Peeta in for Rue any day. Cried reading the book, watching the first movie trailer, and in the movie theater while getting the side-eye from my friends.

Sample quote: "It might not work. But if you hear the mocking-jays singing it, you'll know I'm okay, only I can't get back right away." - The Hunger Games

7. Ringer from The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. Smarter than most, she's the one to figure things out. I vastly preferred her to the POV character of that storyline.

Sample quote: "Trust me, Zombie; I'm an expert on what matters. Up to now, I've been playing blind man's bluff. Time for some chess."

8. Connie from I Hunt Killers books by Barry Lyga. The anchor to Jasper Dent's humanity in the first book, Connie takes matters into her own hands in the second to solve a mystery in The Game. Maybe it's a foolhardy choice but she's an active character and I respect that. I also need book 3 ASAP. 

Sample quote: "This is why I forgive, but I don't forget. When you forget someone, the forgiveness doesn't mean anything anymore." - I Hunt Killers

9. Awful from Archer's Goon by Diana Wynne Jones. I loved this headstrong little girl who earned her nickname due to her screaming tantrums. She's fun to read about but I wouldn't want to babysit her. 

Sample quote: "You go away Goon," she said. "Howard's bag is covered in the blood of little girls." - Archer's Goon

10. Maggie Leigh from NOS4A2 by Joe Hill. A librarian who can read the future in Scabble tiles at the cost of a severe stutter, Maggie acts as a guide to the heroine. She was really interesting, I wish there was there had been more of her.

Sample quote: "Oh, darn, V-V-V-Vic. You're gonna muh-m-make me cry! What's better in the whole world than words?" -NOS4A2

I could go on and on, probably with a top 50 minor character list. What are your favorite minor characters?


Monday, August 26, 2013

Bout of Books Wrap-Up

 
Wrap-Up

3 books read: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
                    Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve     
                    Tucholke
                    Ashes on the Waves by Mary Lindsey

1 previously started book finished: Your Movie Sucks by Roger Ebert
1 Start of a new novel: 40 Pages of The Burning Sky By Sherry Thomas

# of pages read: 1,338

I started strong during this readathon but the week got busier toward the end. Overall I'm pleased with my progress. I had fun participating in challenges and twitter chats, and would definitely participate again.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Review: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

What if the world's worst serial killer...was your dad?

Jasper "Jazz" Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.

But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal's point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo's Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?



Review: I Hunt Killers is a well-characterized and suspenseful YA thriller. The hero, Jasper Dent, is dynamic and compelling as he strives not only to discover the identity of the latest killer in Lobo's Nod but to hold on to his humanity despite the shadow of his father's influence. Jasper's struggle is psychologically interesting, as he feels both nature and nurture work against him: his upbringing and his complicity in his father's crimes as well as the mental illness that runs through the Dent family. 

Luckily Jasper has a cast of well-developed characters to back him up and keep him from falling back on his father's sociopathic tendencies. Notables include Connie, Jasper's girlfriend, who's African American, enjoys acting, does not indulge Jasper's crap or self-loathing, and is awesome. There's also his Howie, a hemophiliac who's always ready with a joke and will back Jasper up as long as he agrees to receiving a tattoo of Howie's choice. Rounding out the cast is Sheriff G. William Tanner, the man responsible for arresting Jasper's father, Billy Dent. And of course there's Billy Dent himself, a genius serial killer whose facade is a good ol' country guy but who can get inside a person's head faster than you can say "Hannibal Lecter". 

The suspense builds as the body count rises and the characters are placed in danger, it's a fast read. One thing I liked was that the book sold me on the premise, a teenager hunting serial killers could stretch how far a reader is willing to suspend disbelief, but given the background provided for Jasper the story works. All in all a great YA thriller. Recommended for those who enjoy YA novels and thrillers along the lines of the TV show Criminal Minds.

Five out of five crime scenes.

N.B. The novel might not be for everyone due to gore and violence, including sexual violence. This does not take place on page but is referred to. There is also violence towards animals, specifically a dog.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Introducing Feature and Follow Friday


Feature and Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read wherein bloggers answer a question about themselves and connect with other bloggers as well :)

This week it's a book selfie:



The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

My reads lately have been disappointing but a lot of people loved this one, and it's right in my wheelhouse. It's been good so far!


What are you reading?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Bout of Books Update #2


# of pages read in The Bone Season: 322
# of pages read in Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: 38
# of pages read in Ashes on the Waves:263


Attention span: short

Total # of pages: 623


Challenges:

Book Spine Poetry - hosted by Such a Novel Idea

I call it "A Mystery":


On the Road
In the Woods
The Madness Underneath
The House on Durrow Street
The Bloody Chamber
The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie
Who Done It?

The TBR Mini Challenge - Hosted by Musings of a Bookshop Girl

Five Books at the Top of My TBR:

1. The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas - so excited
2. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater - I loved the first book in this series
3. True Crime edited by Lee Gutkind - this is from Librarything, need to review
4. Necessary Errors by Caleb Crain - New Yorker recommended this
5. The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Shneider - I should read more contemporary 

Five Books on My Wishlist

1. Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay - Fairytale retelling!
2. Narrative Comprehension and Film by Edward Branigan - I'm fascinated by the mechanics of storytelling in all its forms
3. In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell -This could be interesting or possibly terrible
4. Sea Change by S.M Wheeler - This sounds right up my alley
5.Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween - Don't judge me


Bout of Books Day 4 Update

These past couple of days have been hectic so I haven't really been getting an appreciable amount of reading done. But I thought this challenge was awesome so here it is:


Bookish Mad Libs Challenge:


A. The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway
B. The Trunchbull - Matilda by Roald Dahl
C. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
D. One Thousand and One Nights: A Retelling by Hanan Al-Shaykh
E. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
F. Captain Wentworth - Persuasion by Jane Austen
G. Enemy Pie by Derek Munson

Help! I'm being held captive in  The River of No Return, by The Trunchbull!
It is very Great and Terrible here!
(He/She) is demanding  One Thousand and One Fangirl(s) to set me free!
I have just discovered that Captain Wentworth was captured too!
On second thought, please send Enemy Pies, and don't worry if you don't hear from us for awhile!

Much Love,


Jaime

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event where a spotlight is shone on eagerly awaited releases.
Thank you to Breaking the Spine for hosting!

This week's selection: 


The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman
They called it the killing day. Twelve people dead, all in the space of a few hours. Five murderers: neighbors, relatives, friends. All of them so normal. All of them seemingly harmless. All of them now dead by their own hand . . . except one. And that one has no answers to offer the shattered town. She doesn't even know why she killed—or whether she'll do it again.

Something is waking in the sleepy town of Oleander's, Kansas—something dark and hungry that lives in the flat earth and the open sky, in the vengeful hearts of upstanding citizens. As the town begins its descent into blood and madness, five survivors of the killing day are the only ones who can stop Oleander from destroying itself. Jule, the outsider at war with the world; West, the golden boy at war with himself; Daniel, desperate for a different life; Cass, who's not sure she deserves a life at all; and Ellie, who believes in sacrifice, fate, and in evil. Ellie, who always goes too far. They have nothing in common. They have nothing left to lose. And they have no way out. Which means they have no choice but to stand and fight, to face the darkness in their town—and in themselves. 

Expected Publication: September 10, 2013

I've never read anything by Robin Wasserman before, but this story looks really good. I always like to read dark and scary books in the weeks leading up to Halloween, it'd be a perfect addition. I missed out on it at BEA because I didn't realize Wasserman was there doing a signing, I would've waited on any kind of line. Oh well, live and learn.

I can hardly wait to read this book. Put it in front of my eyeballs!



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Top Ten Things That Make My Life as a Reader/Book Blogger easier


1. The top thing that makes my life easier as both a reader and a book blogger is Goodreads. Most people already are aware of and make use of this resource, it's great for keeping track of books I've read, seeing several reviews of a particular book in one place, and getting information about upcoming releases from favorite authors.

2. Before I joined Goodreads I used a notebook my nephew gave me to keep track of all the books I read. I started it in 2009 and it's still good for jogging my memory:


3. My e-reader has made my life a lot easier. I received it as a gift and was initially resistant to using it as it signaled the death of print, independent bookstores, etc. etc. but I have become a convert. I've never been too sentimental about books as physical objects, mainly because growing up my mother hated any kind of clutter and would have me do a book purge annually. Now I have a whole library with me to carry wherever. Of course I still buy regular old books and use library books but the e-reader has saved my back by not having to carry quite so many heavy boxes when moving. It also cut down the chances of my family turning me in for a Hoarders intervention. 

4. Bloglovin - This is my go to for compiling a feed of blogs to read. 

5. A Turn to Learn - Resource for basic tips and blogging how-to's.

6. Blog Bulk - Basic tips for using Blogger.

7. The Strand - I love this bookstore, I've spent hours there. I especially love the basement level even though it's hot down there in the summer. It's not as crowded as the rest of the store can be so I can look through the shelves of literary criticism and the cheap paperback table without so many awkward squeeze-bys in the narrow lanes between shelves. Of course this only makes it easier to add to my TBR pile and deplete my cash, so I make these trips sparingly. 

That's all for today, I'll probably discover more things as I get deeper into blogging :) This site's definitely still under construction. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Bout of Books Updates and Challenges

Bout of Books: Update #1

# of pages read in Ashes on the Waves: 184
# of pages read in The Bone Season: 24

Total # of pages: 204







I'm hoping to read more of The Bone Season tonight. Here's what I'll pair it with tonight to help myself along:


Part of the Pairathon Challenge hosted by Book Pairing

Challenge #2 Hosted by Music Plus Books: Re-Title It Challenge
I would re-title it Won't Somebody Please Call the Coast Guard.
The original title is more poetic.



Happy Readathon!

Review: In the Shadow of Blackbirds


In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?

Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.



Review: In the Shadow of Blackbirds is a creepy, melancholy historical novel that captures a sense of death as omnipresent, likely a not-uncommon feeling to those living in the United States in 1918. It's interesting that the novel not only focuses on the effects of WWI but also on the flu pandemic, a topic I don't believe I've ever seen addressed in fiction set in this time period (aside from Downton Abbey Season 2). The sad yet creepy atmosphere of the novel is its strongest feature: bodies are piled in the streets, everyone wears masks, and even leaving your home can be life threatening. Meanwhile more and more young men are sent overseas and return home changed and broken, if they return home at all. It's no wonder people became preoccupied with death and the hope of an afterlife. 
                
                  In fact I found the real-world historical elements so compelling that when the supernatural made an appearance it felt like an intrusion. However the central mystery was interesting and served as a way of tying in some poetry from WWI. The photographs were a nice touch, although not as frequent or as plot relevant as those found in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Overall I enjoyed this story for the mystery and the fact that Cat Winters had clearly put a lot of research behind it. 

                Character wise, there was one thing that bothered me a little. I liked that Mary Shelley Black was smart and knew it, and took action to solve the mystery and discover the true fate of Stephen, the boy she lost in the war. However I did feel she suffered a little from a syndrome I like to call Character Displaced In Time, where a character in a time period with a different set of social norms holds the views  of a kid born in the '90s. This is usually so the reader can find the character more relatable. Of course there were progressives in that time, and I don't disagree with Mary in general  but I disliked the way she looked down on every other female character for not being as awesome as she. From patronizing her aunt who works in a shipyard to criticizing the spiritualist's dress to being contemptuous of volunteers at a nursing home for soldiers based on a photograph of them pouring tea, Mary Shelley had a bit of an attitude I found hard to stomach. It which threw me out of the story every time it came up and lessoned my enjoyment of the novel overall.

3.5 haunted photographs. 
                
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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bout of Books 8.0 Sign Up

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 19th and runs through Sunday, August 25th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 8.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books  blog.


I'm so excited to be joining in a Read-a-thon! This one is low pressure, which is great and I'm hoping it'll motivate me to knock off some of my TBR. Here's a pile of books I'll be choosing from:




Also two e-books I'm hoping to finish:






Aren't those covers just gorgeous? I hope the interior matches.

GOALS: I normally read around 1 1/2 to 2 books a week depending on what I'm reading, so I'm going to try to double that to 4. Reading on my commute and reading in lieu of any TV should accomplish this :)

I'll also try to participate in at least two challenges, fingers crossed. 


I've already started The Bone Season and Ashes on the Waves, so I feel my goal is achievable. Hopefully I'll even surpass it.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black


Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself. (Summary from Goodreads.com)



Disclaimer: ARC received for review at BEA


Review: Holly Black’s latest novel is an entertaining addition to the vampire novel genre with a compelling heroine and, while not a subversion of tropes, displays the horror of vampires beyond the romantic idealization that is the norm these days. It owes a debt to vampire novels that have come before but adds many interesting elements to vampire lore to not be dismissed as simply derivative. There’s a tall dark and handsome vampire love interest with an angst-filled back story and the villain is melodramatic, but the interesting part is the Coldtown itself and the way its citizens make use of social media and televised live feeds to glamorize undeath and lure in lonely teens to feed upon.
            
          The main character, Tana, is interesting: defined by the trauma of her mother succumbing to vampire infection, her ambivalence towards turning “cold” and her risk taking behaviors make psychological sense; there are reasons why she is drawn to someone who is clearly dangerous (unlike another heroine *insert obligatory Twilight reference). She has agency and it is her struggle to survive with her humanity intact that drives the plot. Gavriel the vampire is not afforded the same level of depth but he too has his reasons for an interest in a teenager and his personality made for an entertaining character. The chemistry he has with Tana is sizzling. His backstory with the villain Lestat- excuse me I mean Lucien, was too Anne Rice-like to be interesting to someone who has read the Vampire Chronicles. Luckily it’s only a couple of chapters: this is Tana’s story.
            
         As far as supporting characters go the standouts are Tana’s self-centered ex boyfriend Aiden; Midnight and Winter, two bloggers lured to Coldtown by the promise of a new exciting existence; Tana’s little sister Pearl; and Valentina, a trans woman working in the Coldtown thrift shop. Lucien the aforementioned Big Bad is amusing in a campy way. He makes statements like: “Some sicknesses are worse than their cure” and “Every hero is the villain of their own story” to demonstrate he is profoundly full of nonsense.
            
         The inclusion of the blogger characters and the way the vampires capitalize on the Coldtown with various reality TV shows (or “Eternal Balls”) is an interesting idea and makes this the timely vampire novel for Millennials. The way people, particularly dissatisfied teens, are drawn in to horrors they are not prepared for via social media makes for chilling drama and world building. The details of the vampire infection and detox period adds dimension. Though the prose occasionally skids into purple territory and some plot beats are familiar, overall The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a worthwhile and entertaining read that I would recommend to any vampire fan.

4.5 blogging vampire wannabes.