Tuesday, September 24, 2013

ARC Review : Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Kate Aleander



  •  Release Date : September 24th 2013
  •  Publisher : Scholastic Point
  •  Genre : Paranormal Mystery/History
  •  Pages : 304
Synopsis: Paris, France: a city of fashion, chocolate croissants, and cute boys. Colette Iselin is thrilled be there for the first time, on her spring break class trip.
But a series of gruesome murders are taking place around the city, putting everyone on edge. And as she tours the sights, Colette keeps seeing a strange vision: a pale woman in a ball gown and powdered wig, who looks like Marie Antoinette.
Colette knows her status-obsessed friends won't believe her, so she seeks out the help of a charming French boy. Together, they discover that the murder victims are all descendants of people who ultimately brought about Marie Antoinette's beheading. The queen's ghost has been awakened, and now she's wreaking her bloodthirsty revenge.


All around Paris the young, glamorous and elite are losing their heads . . . literally. The culprit ? The ghost of Marie Antoinette. This means little to Colette Iselin who can't  wait to start her class trip to Paris and get away  from Toledo where her father has left her family alone and broke.

Soon the ghost of the beheaded queen begins appearing to Colette all around Paris. What does the ghost want ? And could Colette be the next victim ? She finds herself joining forces with a cute French tour guide and a few unlikely friends to discover what really happened to Marie Antoinette.

Despite the novel's murderous title the ghost aspect and gruesome murders are mostly played down,  the story's first half focuses more on Parisian sites and setting as Colette and her classmate tour the city.  I ended up Googling some of the locations to get a feel for them and Alender's descriptions are spot on.

Throughout the story Colette struggles to cover up her family's financial situation among her wealthy friends. I did wish the story would have explored this a little more. Colette is constantly surprised by her friends displays of wealth and little of her characterization indicates what kind of person she was when her family was wealthy.

The novel gets more sleuthy towards the end and picks up at a thrilling and eerie pace. It's fun, but overall predictable.The way the story navigates around historical landmarks and delves into alternate twist history tempts me to call this book Dan Brown Lite for the younger YA set.

A great standalone  if you are looking for something fun to read for Halloween with just a few chills. A definite read for fans of history and all things Parisian.
The cover art for this book has a slight change, most notably the blood splatter.









*ARC received at BookExpoAmerica for review



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Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Sense List Vol. 28
























  • Get the gossip at Vampire Academy's St. Vladimir Academy ! Check out the in-universe tumblr StVladsGush












  • Gayle Foreman has All. The.Feels with her new T-shirt line inspired by her books.












Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mini Reviews : The Night Circus , Insurgent and How To Ruin A Summer Vacation







Audiobook : The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern 
Jim Dale, infamous for narrating the Harry Potter audio books, brings a dynamic performance to The Night Circus.This is my second time encountering this story and the novel truly is the story of  a magical circus told through the eyes of a romance. Once you get away from the idea of "main characters", this book has so much to offer. The Night Circus has a way of breaking down  the usual fantasy elements; magic, glamour, spells and clairvoyance and lets them shine in a new light. While probably not historical accurate once you step into the settings and watch  Morgenstern perform her storytelling, you might just be ready to runaway with the circus. -


Insurgent by Veronica Roth 
It's sequel time ! Honestly I wasn't sure Insurgent could hold up as a sequel, but Insurgent  is an action packed novel with plot twists and surprises around every corner. I read this book over the course of a few months and I was able to easily get back into the plot each time. I enjoyed how the relationship developed between Four and Tris . I found them to be the only characters in this book who I could really care about. There were so many side characters I couldn't  remember who was who. Either way the stakes are higher in this novel and I officially can not wait for 
Allegiant ! - 




How To Ruin A Summer Vacation by Simone Elkeles 
Amy Nelson's summer vacation has been ruined. Instead of attending tennis camp she will be spending three months in Israel with her estranged father to meet her paternal family for the first time. Like most American teens all Amy expects to find nothing but deserts, guns and bombings but what she finds instead is love, family and respect. Amy's narrative is snarky, headstrong and carefree as she deals with the culture shock. This book has a few good moments that touch on the difference between American and  Israeli teenage life, but overall the book keeps a light tone with little conflict. I found Amy's voice a little less charming and  in the middle of the book and at some point she came off as a bit ignorant. The romance was sweet but overtly predictable. 





Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Sense List Vol. 27


























  • This week Tumblr announced The Reblog Book Club, this community book club allows readers to express themselves in endless ways. The first novel  is Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.






  • Sisters' Fate by Jessica Spotswood (The Cahill Witch Chronicles #3)  
  • Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3)
  • Divided by Elsie Chapman (Dualed #2) 



Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Dream Theives by Maggie Stiefvater


  • Release Date: September 17th 2013
  • Pages: 448 Pages
  • Genre: Gothic/Magic Realism/Supernatural/ Paranormal ???
  • Publisher: Scholastic
Synopsis: Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after...








The Dream Thieves has to be my most anticipated novel of 2013 ! I read The Raven Boys last year out of the blue and was blown away by Steifvater's mix of charm, writing and character. This review will be spoiler free for The Dream Thieves and relatively spoiler-free for The Raven Boys.

The focus of this story shifts slightly from the ladies of 300 Fox Way and Gansey to the trouble maker of the group, Ronan Lynch. Steifvater does some amazing character work with Ronan as we learn more about his past. I liked getting a sense of his backstory and the relationship he has with his brothers.What I really like about Ronan is that while he is the quintessential angst-ridden YA bad boy he isn't idolized for it, he is alienated by it.

As with any sequel we have a few new characters, but I think by far the most interesting one is Aligonby student Joseph Kavinsky. He is Henrietta's resident forger who drives a Mitsubishi Evo with a knife painted on the outside (wink ,wink). While Kavinsky ends up adding a lot to the plot and has some amazing scenes, there were times when he came off as a little manic and cartoon-y.

Steifvater's writing is absolutely wonderful, I love her use of omnipresent third person. It allows the reader to be in so many places at once without having to change the flow of the story. Also, and maybe it was the character named The Gray Man, but the tone of this novel reminded me a lot of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Something about it was so magical and whimsical.

The tone of the Dream Thieves is less Southern Gothic than The Raven Boys and more border line horror-thriller with a healthy does of Nightmare Fuel. Steifvater has a really large cast that keeps growing in this book and with each new person getting a plot, it can get overwhelming at times. It felt like the story was doing so much and when the resolution happened it felt like it came out of nowhere.

To quote Gansey, I continue to find The Raven Cycle "Astonishingly charming." Once the story got rolling I couldn't put it down until I figured out what happens next. Each book in this cycle  opens me up to fascinating new kinds of magic. I have so many theories about the rest of this series and can't wait for the next one to see how they all shake out.



* ARC received at Book Expo America.
Pre-order from Fountain Bookstore and get an autographed/doodle copy




Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Book Review: Where The Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller


  • Release Date: September 24th 2013
  • Pages: 352
  • Genre: Contemporary/ Social Issues
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury
Synopsis: As a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She's never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love--even with someone who seems an improbable choice--is more than just a possibility.
Kidnapped by her mother as a child, 17-year-old Callie has spent her entire life on the run. When her mother is finally arrested, Callie is returned to a father she never knew in the close knit Greek-American tourist town of Tarpon Hills, Florida. But for a girl who spent most of her life on her own joining this loving Greek family is more of a struggle than a happy reunion.

Throughout the novel Callie struggles with trying to cope with the new happy life that has been handed to her, while the absence of her mother is always somewhere in the back of her mind. During this transition she is also haunted by an abusive past that still seems to have control over her life. Watching Callie deal with having been abused as a child was really jarring and at times very hard for me to even read.

Callie does garner a somewhat love interest in "steal your breath beautiful" 22-year-old sponge harvester,Alex Kosta. I find their relationship interesting because they have this insta-lust, mostly physical relationship that I associate more with New Adult than YA. I'm wondering if this is maybe a turn towards more mature YA or if this book could even be considered NA ? Alex as a character does have his own issues,but the book never delves into them deep enough to be fully formed and their relationship felt fleeting.

I'm a little disappointed in this book, because despite the overwhelmingly positive reviews on Goodreads, this book didn't quite work for me. We only scratch the surface of what is going on in this town and in the novel because it shifts focuses on so many plot elements and never settles. I didn't get a true sense of any of the characters or the plots to get invested. Maybe it's because I felt like I've read the "girl close to 18  leaving her damaged mother to see the father she doesn't know" in books like Along for The Ride by Sarah Dessen or Fingerprints of You by K.P Madonia.


While the character and story development  can be a bit spotty, Where The Stars Still Shine ultimately tells a story that is both heartbreaking and hopeful about a girl who discovers a family and a love she never expected.






Monday, September 9, 2013

We Are Two Years Old !


Sweetapolita- Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes w/ Nutella Cloud Frosting

We can't believe we have been doing this for two years ! Honestly this second year has been an exciting one for Books and Sensibility. We've had the chance to do some new and amazing things including :

We want to thank the entire book blogging community as a whole ! Especially those who have invited us on their blogs and who always stopped by to read a review or leave a comment.

Going into this third year we hope to become more involved in the blogging community, start a side blog for Adult/literary fiction and read the books for the book clubs we have been meaning to join (I'm looking at your Mocha Girls Reads and Forever YA)

Because we couldn't do this without all of you we want to thank you with a Ultimate Swag Giveaway

- Jess & Kat


Swag Pack Includes : 
  • 1 Totebag
  • 1 Coldest Girl In Coldtown Glowstick
  • 12 Bookmarks *some are signed*
  • 4 Pins
  • 3 Postcards
  • 2 Magnets
  • Stickers & Tattoos


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Sense List Vol. 26



TV/Film



  • Willem Dafoe joins the cast of The Fault In Our Stars film adaptation as  Peter Van Houten.

Diversity


Publishing


On The Web



Cover Reveal

Sidelined by Kendra C. Highley
Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray





Friday, September 6, 2013

Book Review : Coldest Girl In Coldtown


  • Release Dat : September 13th 2013
  • Pages: 432
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Publisher : Little Brown For Young Readers
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.

The Coldest Girl In Coldtown is based on the world created in Holly Black's short story of the same name. reviewed this short story a few months ago so I had some insight going into the novel.

Coldtown follows the story of Tana, a teenage girl living in the not too distant future were Cold is the new black.Vampires are no longer in hiding and for the past ten years have been quarantined in Coldtowns. These seemingly extravagant , glamorous, and fantastic towns draw in young adults looking to become vampires ; to be turned cold, to die, to live forever. But once you go into Coldtown there is no going back and not all is what it seems in Coldtown.

When Tana wakes up the morning after a party she finds  everyone murdered  by rogue vampires. That is  except herself, a crazy rambling vampire named Gavriel  and her ex-boyfriend , Aiden. After a near miss Tana fears she may be going cold and finds herself on a journey to Coldtown.

I found the  the publication of this book. . . interesting. It seems the days of vampire YAs has come and gone. Which can only mean that whatever formula Black has come up for vampires must be a fresh one and it certainly is. Black blends the classics of vampirism with a few dystopian-ish /City Noir elements.

The first part of this book is more of a  linear "journey" story the characters take to reach Coldtown. Every other chapter is cut with vignettes, anecdotal stories or blog post that contribute to the main story. Along the way we are introduced to few supporting characters but most of the major plot developments takes place at the halfway point

Suddenly sinister plots are revealed, plot twist happen and danger is around every corner. Coldtown becomes a dark gritty city full of promises and lies.

Then it just gets a bit confusing. There is suddenly so much going on and the fact that the main story is told only Tana's POV limits the readers understanding of all the events.  Tana felt more like the audience surrogate as the other plots started unfolding round her, she doesn't really have any stakes (lol, get it ?) in the events. 

As for the characters I liked Tana, she doesn't seem overly insecure but she's also not perfect. As you can imagine Gavriel, the  rambling vampire,  becomes some what of a love interst for Tana. He was certainly a character and I liked how Black wrote his ramblings. This was one of the  times where I wanted there to be more romance between the characters. They have a few scene together but I wanted a few more.

What stands out the most about this book  is how modern it takes the idea of vampires. Black taps into our media hungry culture showing how young people become fangirl/boys  of the vampires. Instead of outright fearing  vampires they  become internet sensations, TV specials and the buzz of social media. 

Like in the short story the use of social media plays a big part in this story. Sites like  Tumblr (even gifs), Flicker, Livestreams and what could be Twitter get a shout out. The characters  use these tools to talk to each other about Coldtown and prep  those who want to get in. Although I will admit a part of me wonders if this will "date" the novel 10 years from now. 

This novel is going to be a duology so I'm intrigued enough by the world of Coldtown to read the second book. I'm hoping for a little bit more plot wise, but this is a great book to grab for vampire fans.

Overall the novel is a twist on the old vampire stories with a mix of a Dytsopian with an Urban Fantasy vampire element thrown in. The novel is high on world building, but what worked well in the short story just didn't translate into a full length novel.


                  



*ARC received at Book Expo America 










Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Book Review : All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill


  • Release Date : September 3 2013
  • Genre : Sci-Fi/Thriller
  • Publisher : Hyperion Teen
  • Pages : 368
SynopsisImprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.
Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside . . . 
All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.

All Our Yesterdays has been on my radar since I heard it was one of the books on the 2013 Book Expo America YA Editor's Buzz Panel. It was described as "deceptively simple" and  "more than  a standard girl goes back in time to save the world."

This is a story that starts at the end. Em is a prisoner in a secret government facility. Her only company is   Finn, the boy in the cell next to her. Now I know this might sound like Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi but don't let these first few pages fool you.  Em and Finn have to escape and go back in time to their yesterdays (wink wink nudge nudge) and kill ' the doctor", the man who changed the world for the worst in order to save the future.

This book cuts to the chase in the first chapter and the  plot start rolling immediately. The story is intense and full of action as Finn and Em travel back in time four years to chase down their target across Washington, D.C.   all while having to  avoid their past selves. Within the first few pages you want to  follow  along with the characters to see what's going to happen next.

I liked how Em and Finn aren't each others love interest; they are already in a relationship. I think having this pre-existing relationship totally changes the dynamics of the story. When we see them fight or make sacrifices for one another it means so much more than if they had just met.

The only issue I had with this book is that I couldn't wrap my head around the concept of time travel as presented in this universe.  In the first chapter we learn that there is a piece of paper that past versions of Em has used to come up with ideas on how to save the world, but I didn't understand how the paper could still be there or how she knew she would come back to that point with the writing still there.  I can only base this on the ARC but I'm not sure I understood the ending at all.

Over at Kirkus Reviews, Ana Grilo (from Book Smugglers blog) bought up a few more points about the relationship between a privileged character and her somewhat stereotypical maid that I think are worth a conversation, as well as the way other teen girls are treated in the novel.

This book just had a lot of great moments in it. Terrill's writing is exciting and makes an  entertaining YA thriller. Even though I had a hard time understanding  the mechanism's behind the plot I'd put  this novel on my favorite books of 2013 list. All Our Yesterdays is a thrilling YA novel that test the limits of good, evil and  friendship.

All Our Yesterdays is  a duology (not a stand alone like I thought) , so I'm hoping the second book  will clear up some of the confusing aspects of this book.





whimsicallyyours.com
I know a lot of people were excited about the cover reveal for this book, but I really like the ARC cover. I know the purple may not have attracted the boys but I liked how abstract it is. The official cover to me looks so much like all the other text based dystopian covers.






Sense List August Favorites


This week's Sense List is a round up of all our favorite YA book news that went down in August !

TV/Film










On The Web








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Publishing









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