Friday, May 31, 2013

Strictly Indie: If These Books Were Judged By Their Covers

A month long dedication to indie ! 

Indie novels don't always have the best reputations when it comes to covers, but what makes indie novels so unique is their ability to grow and change with their audience. Some changes are by author choice, others when the book is bought by a publisher. Here are 4 indie cover evolutions with the originals on the left !

 Vincent Boys by Abbi Glines

Significance by Shelley Crane

Crash by Nicole Williams

Life's A Witch by Brittany Geragotelis

Between The Lines by Tammara Webber


These are just a few indie covers swaps ! What are some of you favorite indie cover changes ?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Book Review : The Madman's Daughter

  • Release Date: January 29, 2013 
  • Genre: Sci-Fi/Historical
  •  Pages: 432
  • Publisher: Blazer + Bray (Harper Collins Children)

Synopsis : Inspired by H. G. Wells's classic The Island of Dr. Moreau,The Madman's Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we'll do anything to know and the truths we'll go to any lengths to protect. . . Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father's gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

. . . and you thought you had father issues. Juliet Moreau's life has been world of hardship since her disgraced father, the mad Dr. Moreau,  abandoned her family leaving them to ruin. Years later a chance encounter leads Juliet to her father and his mysterious island inhabited by strange islanders.

Now with just her mad father, a former servant and the mysterious castaway Edward Prince, Juliet learns that the strange island of Dr. Moreau has more secrets than what lays in the doctor's laboratory.

Based on what I've read about the original story, The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G Wells,  this novel  is more of a  "based on" story with original characters and plot points added in, including Juliet and a seemingly standard love triangle.

Juliet is a decent character, she wasn't a  a maiden in distress but she wasn't really memorable. We kept being told that she was a little mad (like her father)  but I just didn't really see it. She does have her moments in the book and I liked how she wasn't overly passive.

The novel has it's eeriness (I mean vivisection is a real thing. eeck !)  and there is a bit of a twist ending, however, the novel is so fast paced that I would have liked it to slow down and allow us to get to know the characters a little bit better. It seems everything that we need to know has already happened so we are coming in halfway through.

A lot of times when I read historical the "fiction" part and the "historical" part don't always blend, but Shepard handled it seamlessly. The historical aspects didn't feel forced. The writing had a modern twist but stayed true to the time period.

I found this book hard to reviews because I kept trying  to figure out how it fit into the mythology of the original story, Because so much of the "world building" is already set up what I really expected from this book was a little more characterization. instead I found this book to be more of a "based-on" story, I don't think one really even needs to know the original story to enjoy it.

The Madman's Daughter is a good"inspired by" read with an ending that will keep you reading into the night. Sheppard's debut novel has solid plotting and setting but left me wanting a little bit more from a few of the characters.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Audiobook Review : Days of Blood and Starlight

" . . . Whatever went on in the ash fall landscape and blood crusted world of war where her creations went forth to do violence.  It wasn't her concern. She conjured the bodies. That was all. What more could she possibly do ?"

"It was the deed that matter not words. Do the thing. Kill the monster. Change the world"
- Laini Taylor, Days of Blood and Starlight

  • Release Date: January 16th 2013
  • Length : 15 Hours 25 Minutes
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Publisher : Hachette Audio
  • Synopsis: An art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it. . . While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hopeBut can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

     Laini Taylor's  Days of Blood and Starlight is the stunning continuation of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone story. I started this audio book the day it came out and I seriously did NOT want to finish it. Taylor's beautifully written sequel continues the tumultuous tale of war, love and hope.

    Placed on different  sides of a thousand-year-old war, Karou and Akiva have made their choice and now must  find some way of peace for their people, but a war this old doesn't die so easily. Resurrections must continue, war must continue, but is their a place in this world for the  hopes and dreams of two lovers ?

    Days of Blood and Starlight  is one of the most epic love stories you will read. Initially I was caught of guard by the insta-love in the first book, but the conflict and obstacles faced by Akiva and Karou will have you constantly wondering if love can prevail.

    The characters in this novel are exceedingly dynamic. Akiva and Karou are constantly questioning their own decisions and  motives. I like how they aren't selfish enough to believe that being with each other is all that matters. They have obligations and passions outside of each other.

    However this book has so much more than a love story going on. Taylor flexes her character-building muscles by introducing us to a new set of characters to loathe and root for. I've started to notice how Taylor builds her world through the eyes of characters and not with descriptions.

    Taylor's dream-like and beautiful story telling make for a perfect audio book. The audio performance  adds something to the story that I don't think quite comes cross when reading it. Khristine Hvam stretches her range in this book, and at over 12 hours long she handles it pretty well for being the only narrator. I especially like the zeal she adds when she reads Taylor's acknowledgements.

    Without spoiling this book, what really impressed me about this novel is that there is a certain subject matter that has gotten a lot of heat in YA novels .Taylor handled well in this novel. Did anyone else get that feel ?

    If you have never listened to an audio book I highly suggest you start with this series. The fantastic story of love, war, angels and demons will certainly become one of your "top three reasons for living" !

    I'm always interested in whether books are marketed as YA or Adult in the UK. This is one of those books that  is not marketed as YA in the UK. I think it would have great cross-over appeal in the U.S. Also the film adaptation has a writer !

    Sunday, May 26, 2013

    Stacking The Shelves (4)

    This week I went to the library and found some awesome books !

    My Books:

    Game by Barry Lyga

    Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger

    Library Haul ! 
    Vortex by Julie Cross
    Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan
    Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
    Return To Me by Julie Chen
    False Memory by Dan Krokos
    Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
    Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

    What did you guys get this week ? Leave a link below !  I'm out of town this week, but I promise I will get to your blog to leave a comment !

    Wednesday, May 22, 2013

    We're Going to BEA 2013 !

    Look For Us @ BEA

    It's us ! Kat, Jess

    Next week, Kat and I will be traveling 300 miles to New York City to attend BookExpo America ! We are so happy to be able to go; this will be our second year attending and we can't wait to start  networking, attending sessions and learning what everyone will be reading next year.

    If you will be attending  BEA 2013, here are a few places you can find us :

    May 29th 
    BEA Bloggers Conference
    8AM - 4:30 PM

    Teen Author Carnival

    May 30th
    BEA Young Adult Editors Buzz
    10AM - 10:50AM

    Sarah Dessen, Rick Yancey, Marie Lu, Andrea Cremer, Richelle Mead Signing
    Barnes & Noble Union Square
    7:00 PM 

    May 31st
    BEA Bloggers Picnic
    Central Park (Outside Heckscher Park)

    Other Places We'll Be Checking Out
    Magnolia Bakery 
    Strands Bookstore
    16 Handles
    GMA (on Friday ? Maybe ?)

    Are you going to BEA ? If you aren't, will you be doing Armchair BEA ?

    Tuesday, May 21, 2013

    Author Interview: Fleur Gaskin + Giveaway !

    A month long dedication to Indie  !

    As I began to read more indie books, I started to see I didn't know much about indie authors. For this project I've decided to take the time to interview the authors who have reached out to me and learn more about their writing. This week I am happy to have New Zealand writer, Fluer Gaskin. Fleur is also giving away a copy of her novel Arabelle's Shadows to our readers ! 

    1. Describe your novel in 6 words (or less !)
    Model fights depression, looks for love. 

    2. Tell us all the details about your main character
    Arabelle is a model from New Zealand. She's arrived back in Bangkok, where she has modelled a lot in the past and has lots of friends there. Arabelle has a history of depression but she works hard to be happy. She's a little strange looking, unique but beautiful with Auburn hair and wide spaced eyes. Arabelle's dream is to go to New York, become a successful model then actress, then use her fame to save the world from all suffering. 

    3. Tell us the details on your love interest (if there is one)
    Naak is a wealthy, Thai socialite. He has his law firm, but spends more time on the golf course or partying than in the office. Arabelle has known him for a few years. She thinks he's fun, handsome and smart. Arabelle also has terrible taste in men...

    4. What was your inspiration for the novel ?
    Originally I just wanted to tell the tale of what modelling is really like. Many girls dream of being models but they only see the glitz and glamour of the top 5%. Most models live in crowded, old apartments and are constantly stressed out about their appearance, their weight and their finances. It's fun because you get to travel but it's a lot of pressure for girls so young, especially since agencies often treat the models as commodities rather than human beings. 

    Then I began to write the book and I found that I had other things I wanted to say. Depression and self esteem
    took on a much bigger theme within the book and ultimately Arabelle's Shadows became a novel about learning to love yourself.

    5. Let’s talk covers ! What were your hopes and how did you come up with the final products ?
    I decided to design the cover myself. I think I did a pretty good job considering I have no training in design and very limited Photoshop skills. Thankfully I have the great fortune of being friends with a few graphic designers so I emailed them and asked them what they thought of my cover. One of them, Vasil Hnatiuk, replied to my email with a whole new design! I was ecstatic. It was so much more professional (and grown up) than my design. It captures the essence of the novel so perfectly!

    6.What are you currently reading or what authors/genres are you into right now ?
    I read anything and everything. At the moment I'm reading an enormous non fiction book called Fairness and Freedom, which is about the differences in culture between New Zealanders and Americans. It's really helping me understand why I think a little differently from my American friends. I'm also reading a book about Maori myths and legends and I'm about to start a novel an author requested that I review (I have no idea what that's about!)


    Thanks, Fleur ! Now it's time for a giveaway ! 

    Monday, May 20, 2013

    Strictly Indie: The Coincedence of Callie and Kayden

    A month long dedication to  indie/self-published YA novels

    Synopsis: There are those who don’t get luck handed to them on a shiny platter, who end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, who don’t get saved.
    Luck was not on Callie’s side the day of her twelfth birthday when everything was stolen from her. After it’s all over, she locks up her feelings and vows never to tell anyone what happened. Six years later her painful past consumes her life and most days it’s a struggle just to breathe.
    For as long as Kayden can remember, suffering in silence was the only way to survive life. As long as he did what he was told, everything was okay. One night, after making a terrible mistake, it seems like his life might be over. Luck was on his side, though, when Callie coincidentally is in the right place at the right time and saves him.

    Hiding from a traumatic childhood secret, Callie Lawrence was always known as "Anorexic, Devil Worshiping Callie" in high school. But for her freshman year at University of Wyoming, Callie plans to make a fresh start.  Until she bumps into Kayden Owens, the rich golden boy from high school who  is hiding the daily physical abuse he faces at the fists of his  father. Guided by Callie's college version of bucket list, they learn together how to heal and love again.

    I'm not one for GIFs and don't usually use GIFs in reviews, but if there is one that sums up this book it is probably this one:

    It seems like everybody in this book is hiding, running or suffering from a traumatic past.

    Okay, kidding aside The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden is an extremely likable novel. It has two very sympathetic characters who are suffering and you just want to see happy. I like how Sorensen allows us to watch as Callie and Kayden relationship grows and doesn't lean on the instalove trope. Because Callie knows Kayden she sees a history and a past about him before she gets into his muscular arms and the like. 

    Sorensen doesn't really label herself on her social networks as a NA author, so I'm not sure if this book is meant to be one, but if so, I think she has a good grasp of the college culture. The characters balance class, looking for rides, dorm rooms, going out and a whole round of firsts associated with college.  

    Right off the bat, this book reminded me of both Dreamland and Just Listen by Sarah Dessen. Mostly, because those novels deal with similar social issues of physical and sexual abuse. However, I feel like this book is missing the sense of character Dessen novels have. I don't really know who the characters were before this novel.

    This book and Sorenson have done very well, in fact this series and Jessica's other series  The Secret of Ella and Micha are being sold by Hachette now. Of all the indies I have read, this is the only book I think I'd consider reading the sequel too--maybe it's because of that darn cliffhanger.

    Callie and Kayden is a hopeful novel about love and emotional survival. At just 1.99, this is a great read to tip your toe into NA and what indie authors are into.

    Sunday, May 19, 2013

    Books and Sensibility : Connect with us !

    (This post is inspired by LadyBlueJay's Get Social With Lady Blue Jay )

    Books and Sensibility  is sporting a new tagline;  "We're An Open Book". I like this tagline because while you're reading our blog I want you to get a sense of who we are, what we like and what bookish things we are up to.

    To help open the door, here are all the ways you can connect with us online outside of the blog.

    YouTube : BooksandSensibility

    Books and Sensibility vlogs ! Kat and I decided to expand our blog by doing vlogs. So far we've done Stacking The Shelves,The  Book Shelf Scavenger Hunt and talked about sequels.

    Kat usually updates the Tumblr with fanart, funny gifs, infographics and bookshelf-spirations. This account is usually 100% bookish !

    Twitter : JessBooks_Sense
    I started my own Twitter account a few months ago. I like to use it to keep up to dates on book news, update my reading pile and sneak my way into conversations with awesome authors.

    Jess' Pinterest : JCReads

    I am a Pinterest addict ! Once I get started I can't stop, my Pinterest has a Books and Reading board plus  tons of other boards.


    This is one of our newest accounts and mostly features photos from author events and bookish projects. The pictures that aren't used usually sit on my desktop, so I decide to share them.  Next month it will be updated with our 2013 BEA picks.

    Instagram is THE reason I wanted and iPhone.  I've just started using it more and it's the best way to take photogenic pictures of  author events and books I've received.

    How is your book blog connected to social media?  Tell us and we'll be sure to follow !

    Saturday, May 18, 2013

    Stacking The Shelves (3)

    It's been nearly 3 months since we did one of these and we made it into a vlog ! Jess and I had a good haul with winning contests and Barnes and Nobles coupons.

    On our shelf:

    Ten by Gretchen McNeil
    The Look by Sophia Bennett
    Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
    Blaze by Laura Boyle Krumpton
    Things I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally
    Games of Thrones Box Set by George R.R. Martin
    I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak
    Ruined Series by Simone Elkeles

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

    Author Interview: Anna Silver + Giveaway

    A month long dedication to Indie  !

    As I began to read more indie books, I started to see I didn't know much about indie authors. For this project I've decided to take the time to interview the authors who have reached out to me and learn more about their writing. This week I am happy to have Anna Silver, author of Otherborn. Anna is also giving away a copy of Otherborn to our readers ! 

    1. Describe your novel in 6 words (or less !)
    A dreamy, dark, and mystical journey.

    2. Tell us all the details on your main character.
    London is a graduate of the school of hard knocks. Her father is a pit worker, pretty much untouchable. Her mother is a drunk. And she’s a rebel, through and through. Life in Capital City is static, and London is anything besides. She’s creative and fearless, loyal to a fault, and underneath it all, she’s pretty tortured. But she learns to turn all that energy outward during the course of the book, and project it into something productive, rather than let it eat her alive

    3. Tell us the details on your love interest (if there is one).
    London has been secretly in love with her best friend, Rye, for years. As abrasive as she can seem, she’s truly a softie inside and petrified of her own vulnerability. Nothing brings this out in her like her feelings for Rye. Too afraid of his rejection, which would cost her one of the most important relationships in her life, she’s been holding her true feelings back for a very long time. But it’s impossible to keep something that strong down forever, which London will learn the hard way in this story— about a lot of things.

    4. What was your inspiration for the novel ?
    My two biggest inspirations were a story I read about the Otherkin subculture, people living today who truly believe they were something other than human in a past life or in their soul, and dream research— in particular, a book by prolific dream author, Robert Moss.

    5. Let’s talk covers! What were your hopes and how did you come up with the final product ?
    I wanted a cover that was stunning. Period. I knew it needed to be dark too. I know YA readers, we LOVE our covers. And frankly, many people do judge books by their covers, even me. So I was insistent that it had to be exceptional while conveying the mood of OTHERBORN. My publisher listened to a few of my ideas and commissioned an artist who had done some other covers for them that I really liked. She was fantastic. She nailed both London and Si’dah, and everything we were going for with this cover.

    6. What are you currently reading or what authors/genres are you into right now?
    It’s very hard for me to peek my head out of YA long enough to read anything else. But I’ll always love fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal, and dystopian of any kind. I just finished rereading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. And I recently devoured PURE by Juliana Baggot.

    Thanks, Anna ! Now it's time for a giveaway ! 


    Sunday, May 12, 2013

    Kat's Bout of Books 7.0 Goals

    Time Devoted to Reading

    I will be reading every day.

    My Goals

    My goal is to finish at least half of the books on my list.

    Books to Read

    • Return To Me by Julie Chen
    • Vortex by Julie Cross
    • Icons by Margaret Stohl
    • Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
    • The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
    • Send Me A Sign by Tiffany Schmidt
    • Skylark by Meagan Spooner
    • Insurgent by Veronica Roth
    • Every Day by David Levithan


    Number of books I've read today:  183 pages of Skylark by Meagan Spooner
    Total number of books I've read: 1


    Number of books I've read today:  59  pages of Skylark by Meagan Spooner
    Total number of books I've read: 1

    Jess' Bout Of Books Goals

    Time Devoted to Reading

    I will be reading all week long

    My Goals

    • My goal is to read 1321 pages so I'm hoping for 188 pages per day

    Books to Read

      The Diviners

    • Half-Blood By Jennifer Armentrout (124 pages)
    • Tidal by Emily Snow (213 pages)
    • The Diviners By Libba Bray (439)
    • Velveteen by Daniel Marks (302) (yes, I tried to tackle this during BOB 5.0)
    • Skylark by Meagan Spooner (243


    Number of books I've read today:
    Total number of books I've read:

    Jess' and Kat's Bout of Books 7.0 Sign Up

    It's that time again ! Bout of Books is one of my favorite read-a-thons and this time I will dominate my goals list, with my new page counting strategy

    My Goodreads' currently reading list is getting out of hand, so for this Bout of Books I'll be finishing up some of my currently reading books. Instead of keeping tally via books I'll be counting pages.

    - Jess

    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, May 13th and runs through Sunday, May 19th 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 7.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

    You can still sign up here !

    Jess' Goal

    My goal is to read 1321 pages so I'm hoping for 188 pages per day

    Books to Read

      The Diviners

    • Half-Blood By Jennifer Armentrout (124 pages)
    • Tidal by Emily Snow (213 pages)
    • The Diviners By Libba Bray (439)
    • Velveteen by Daniel Marks (302) (yes, I tried to tackle this during BOB 5.0)
    • Skylark by Meagan Spooner (243)

     Kat's Goals

    I am being a bit ambitious with my goals, but I've been on a reading streak lately. I went to the local library to help beef up my goal list.

    • Return To Me by Julie Chen
    • Vortex by Julie Cross
    • Icons by Margaret Stohl
    • Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
    • The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
    • Send Me A Sign by Tiffany Schmidt
    • Skylark by Meagan Spooner
    • Insurgent by Veronica Roth
    • Every Day by David Levithan


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