Sunday, June 22, 2014

Quirk Review: City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments #6) by Cassandra Clare

Series: The Mortal Instruments ~~ Release Date: 05/27/2014
Source: borrowed from a friend

From Goodreads:

In this dazzling and long-awaited conclusion to the acclaimed Mortal Instruments series, Clary and her friends fight the greatest evil they have ever faced: Clary's own brother.

Sebastian Morgenstern is on the move, systematically turning Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter. Bearing the Infernal Cup, he transforms Shadowhunters into creatures out of nightmare, tearing apart families and lovers as the ranks of his Endarkened army swell.

The embattled Shadowhunters withdraw to Idris - but not even the famed demon towers of Alicante can keep Sebastian at bay. And with the Nephilim trapped in Idris, who will guard the world against demons?

When one of the greatest betrayals the Nephilim have ever known is revealed, Clary, Jace, Isabelle, Simon, and Alec must flee - even if their journey takes them deep into the demon realms, where no Shadowhunter has set foot before, and from which no human being has ever returned...

PREFACE:
So we are finally here, at the end (for real this time) of The Mortal Instruments series. I have had an up and down (mostly down) experience with TMI so I didn't know what to expect going into the last book. Okay, I knew to expect the deaths of six named characters, but that was about it. Thankfully, this read turned out to be quite a good one.

WRITING:
Clare has really grown in terms of her writing style, and for that I am glad. I had almost no problems with the writing, save one thing: she picked a new phrase to repeat. It involved Jace (or some character) "riding an enemy to the ground" as he killed them, using the momentum to attack the next bad guy. I thought that was a really cool image the first time it was used, but not so much the second, third, fourth, etc. times. 

SETTING:
I enjoyed all the settings utilized in this story. We get a glimpse of the Los Angeles Institute, see Alicante, the Fair Folk underground, and the Hotel Dumort again, and a new place I was excited (and a little scared) to see. I though the world-building of the new place was really cool because I did not expect it to go that direction. The only drawback is that Clare spends what I feel like is too much time describing each setting. For instance, I don't care about all the flowers that make up the canopy of the Seelie Queen's bed, I want to know why we are there in the first place! (That's a bad example because that description wasn't very long, but you get my point.) All the description really interrupted the flow of the story because so much was happening that having to wade through those paragraphs about what the dirt looked like here and what that door looked like there was annoying.

CHARACTERS:
For me, Clare's biggest improvement from the last book was the characters. Jace was actually a good guy the whole time and someone I could understand fans flailing over. Clary was not a shrinking violet making stupid decisions and mistakes but a character with agency and intelligence. Isabelle and Simon continued to be great, as did Magnus, and Alec came out of nowhere being more awesome than ever with some especially priceless lines of dialogue. "MY EYES."

I wasn't expecting a bunch of new characters to appear in this book, it being the last in a series, but the novel actually starts by introducing us to the clan that will star in the upcoming series, The Dark Artifices. This includes the Blackthorn family and Emma Carstairs, who is only twelve in COHF, but already she is more awesome than all the characters in the first five TMI books combined.

There were also some characters from that other Clare series, The Infernal Devices, in COHF, and I would be lying if I said I didn't bounce around and giggle when they appeared together.

COOL STUFF:
My absolute favorite thing about COHF was the callbacks to TID and The Bane Chronicles. I thoroughly enjoyed TID and TBC and knew I'd get to see some characters from both, but there were other things woven into the text that were there as well. For instance, something happens with the London Institute in the early part of COHF. I thought it had something to do with Tessa, but I was wrong and when the real answer is revealed, I squealed out loud because the only way you'd get it is if you'd read TID. The same goes for some things Magnus talks about throughout the book, events and relationships that have only been seen thus far in TID and TBC.

VERDICT:
City of Heavenly Fire is the only book of the TMI series that kept me on the edge of my seat and reading as fast as I possibly could. I enjoyed it immensely, and while there were some sad parts (no tears from me because until this book I wasn't super-attached to most of the characters), overall it was action and relationships and snark all the way. I would recommend reading The Infernal Devices and at least most of The Bane Chronicles before reading COHF, just so you can catch all the references.

Monday, June 16, 2014

From Where I'm Standing [15] - More TFIOS Fun!

Congrats to The Fault in Our Stars film for being #1 at the box office its first weekend! Despite getting to see it in May, I went with some of my friends from work to see it again opening night, and we did hand hearts as an early nod to #EstherDay.

Staci, me, and Dawn before the crying started. A big thank you goes to Julie for taking the photo!

Now that the movie is out, I want to share some more video I got on my TFIOS TN trip. The video is long and in two parts. All of it takes place in a meeting room at a (rather swanky) Nashville hotel and features Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff, John Green, and Shailene Woodley answering questions and continuing their trend of being adorable and cool.

This part of my trip was my favorite not only because I never expected to be this close to the stars or that I would get to talk to them directly, but because the four of them spoke more freely than I had seen them do so before (okay, not John, because John is always open and enthusiastic). Also, an apology on the quality - the first part was shot by iPhone and the second on my Meg's camera.

Hope you enjoy!



Saturday, June 14, 2014

Giveaway Winners!


I'm so glad to be back to blogging and my Friday the 13th was especially nice. And now what you are really here for, the winners of the three prize packs!

Hourglass Prize Pack (#1)
Onge

The Darkest Minds Prize Pack (#2)
Paola B.

Defiance Prize Pack (#3)
Ashley S.

The winners have been emailed and have seven days to respond. Congrats to them and thank you to all who participated! ^_^

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

From Where I'm Standing [14] - My TFIOS TN Experience



If you can't tell from the video above, I had an amazing time in Nashville at the events for TFIOS TN. In addition to just getting to be there, I was able to get my copies of The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska signed by John Green and a poster signed by him and Shailene Woodley. Below are some pictures and another video!

Event attendees "Johning" in unison.
Fans eagerly awaiting the arrival of the stars in front of the Tennessee State Capitol building.
People came from all over for the event. Pictured here are mother and daughter duo Krissy and Kaylee of Canton, GA, along with friends Lauren, Tiffany, and Sydney of Paducah, KY.
Sisters Gabrielle and Faith traveled from Evansville, IN, and between them (in blue), is Marissa of Knoxville, TN. Next to them, Murfreesboro, TN, residents Abby, Annie, Sarah, and Lexi didn't have to drive far to attend.
John Green signing books and posters on the red carpet.
The sweet Sarah Strasinger interviewing Ansel Elgort for her high school newspaper.
(Thanks for helping me get my books signed, Sarah!)
Shailene Woodley and Nat Woolf autographing items and interacting with fans.
John Green, Ansel Elgort, Shailene Woodley, and Nat Wolff posing on the red carpet.
Clint Redwine and Evelina Barry (event MCs) on stage with the stars.
Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff, John Green, and Shailene Woodley at the press tour the morning following the fan event.



And on one last (unrelated) note, this post makes 501 that I have published on the blog! Crazy!!! ^_^

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Goodbye Hiatus; Hello Giveaway! [CLOSED]



Details:
Giveaway will run from 5/30/14 to 6/13/14 and is US only.
Three winners will be chosen via the Rafflecopter widget.
Please read further rules here.


Hourglass Prize Pack
*signed* paperback of Hourglass by Myra McEntire [review]
paperback of Secrets of My Hollywood Life by Jen Calonita [Goodreads]
paperback of On Location by Jen Calonita [Goodreads]
paperback of The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff [review]
paperback of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin [Goodreads]
hardback of The Dark Divine by Bree Despain [review]
hardback of Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King [Goodreads]


The Darkest Minds Prize Pack
*signed* ARC of The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken [review]
paperback of Cut by Patricia McCormick [review]
paperback of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling [Goodreads]
paperback of The Light by D.J. MacHale [Goodreads]
paperback of I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter [Goodreads]
hardback of The Lying Game by Sara Shepard [review]
hardback of Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan [Goodreads]


Defiance Prize Pack
*signed* hardback of Defiance by C.J. Redwine [review]
paperback of If I Stay by Gayle Forman [Goodreads]
hardback of The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard [Goodreads]
hardback of The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams [Goodreads]
hardback (formerly library bound) of Wings by Aprilynne Pike [Goodreads]
hardback of Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater [Goodreads]
hardback of Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta [Goodreads]

Saturday, April 12, 2014

An Unhappy Hiatus

Hello quirks,

I've been putting this off because I was hoping circumstances would change and I wouldn't need to do this, but they haven't, so here we are.

Writer Quirk is going on an indefinite hiatus starting today.

I love blogging and reviewing, but my mental health is at a point right now where the stress of trying to keep posting reviews and such when I'm barely reading and barely functioning offline is one thing too many. I've never been a super-frequent poster and have been very lenient with myself on how I run this blog, but the guilt of not reading and not posting is getting to me, so I need a break from it.

It's difficult to put into words what is going on in my head that is making life so tough, so suffice it to say that despite efforts to battle my depression, I'm losing. In a way, things have gotten better since I switched to a new medication, as in suicidal thoughts and self-harm impulses are way down, but the pervasive sadness and lethargy I feel seems to only increase. Add in new stress at my day job and my usual stress at home, and I'm a zombie pretending to be human only when necessary, and it is exhausting.

I hope to return sooner rather than later, but only time will tell if that is possible. Until then, I hope you read amazing books, write your hearts out, and live life to the fullest.

~Shalena @ Writer Quirk

Friday, April 4, 2014

Reading Challenge Update [March 2014]


Hey quirks! Welcome to my Reading Challenge Update (RCU). I'm doing a few of the same challenges as last year, and I added a couple new ones as well. I'm really excited about these challenges because challenges like these pushed me to read more in 2013, so I hope the same will happen this year because my goals are even bigger!

Unlike my Goodreads Rundowns where I give a bunch of stats, here I will just be listing the books I read during the previous month under the challenges to which they apply. To see where I am at between these posts, check out my Reading Challenges tab above.


This Month: 5 --- Total: 13/75
Until I Die by Amy Plum (Revenants #2)
If I Should Die by Amy Plum (Revenants #3)
Enchanted by Alethea Kontis (Woodcutter Sisters #1)
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd (The Madman's Daughter #1)


This Month: 1 --- Total: 3/12
The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams (Incarnation #1) [Key Word: Forever]


This Month: 2 --- Total: 3/12
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Code Name Verity #1) [Motif: Award Winner]
Enchanted by Alethea Kontis (Woodcutter Sisters #1) [Motif: Fairy Tales]


This Month: 6 --- Total: 14/40
Until I Die by Amy Plum (Revenants #2)
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Code Name Verity #1)
Enchanted by Alethea Kontis (Woodcutter Sisters #1)
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd (The Madman's Daughter #1)
The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams (Incarnation #1)


This Month: 0 --- Total: 0/1


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ink Anticipation [20] - April 2014

Welcome to Ink Anticipation! This feature is for sharing the top five YA releases I am looking forward to this month. 

Don't forget to share your most anticipated releases in the comments!


Goodreads / Release Date: April 8th

Goodreads / Release Date: April 8th

Goodreads / Release Date: April 8th

Goodreads / Release Date: April 15th

Goodreads / Release Date: April 22nd

Monday, March 24, 2014

Quirk Review: The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter #1) by Megan Shepherd

Series: The Madman's Daughter ~~ Release Date: 01/29/2013
Source: Books-A-Million

From Goodreads:

In the darkest places, even love is deadly.

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.

Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father's madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island's inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius—and madness—in her own blood.

PREFACE:
I had the opportunity to meet Megan Shepherd at the Bringing YA 2 You event last year. She was so nice and while I had heard of her book, hearing her talk more about it made it all the more interesting, so I got a copy. Like for most of the books I buy, it was quite a while before I picked it up to read it.

WRITING:
There were aspects of the writing that I both liked and didn't like. My favorite part of Shepherd's writing was how she was able to grasp the emotions of the narrator, Juliet, and make them feel vivid to me as the reader. The style of the writing was where I got hung up. It was a little adverb-heavy and was reminiscent of the style used by the authors of classics of the time period in which the book is set. While that aided in creating atmosphere, it did make reading feel laborious at times.

SETTING:
Shepherd reveals a side of London that is bathed in blood and grime and evil intentions that are in no way akin to the societal manners often associated with the time period. When the setting changes to a sea voyage from England to Oceania, the sense of the open water and claustrophobic ship is in full force. The story's final location, the island, feels both wild and yet has its own kind of order due to the society that has been set up. Each of the settings is immersive and vibrant and really added to the mystery and mayhem of the story.

CHARACTERS:
Juliet was a protagonist I immediately liked. From the get-go, she is tough and determined. She tries to be the girl everyone expects her to be, but she struggles with a dark side of herself that eventually leads to trouble. I loved the continual internal conflict she felt regarding everything from her father and his work, to Montgomery and Edward, to what she truly wants out of life. I loved how despite growing up in a time where women were entirely marginalized, she doesn't just accept what others or society thinks of herself and instead relies on her own truth and talents.

I also really liked Montgomery. It is clear how he feels about Juliet, but also clear that he is torn between what he knows and what he believes about himself (being a servant) and his feelings for her (the boss's daughter). He is full of courage and sensitivity, but he has trouble letting that show considering what is going on on the island.

Edward, even though he came from a different background, was similar to Montgomery in that his feelings for Juliet were plain while he also had secrets he wanted to keep buried. I think the obvious veil he had over his life made him feel less trustworthy than Montgomery, so I didn't like him quite as much. However, I completely understood why Juliet was drawn to him, which made their relationship complicated and intriguing.

Dr. Moreau was more brilliant and more demented than I expected. His experiments were horrifying and miraculous and there were several times I wanted to reach into the book and slap some sense into him. I love that Shepherd made me feel towards all of these characters so intensely.

COOL STUFF:
This story had a lot of interesting and gritty elements throughout, but it wasn't until the characters were on the island that the stakes were raised to full height. After many spoilery things happen, and a lot of amazing and scary creations are introduced, Shepherd manages to make an island feel confining and the danger inevitable, like being on a sinking ship. I loved that aspect of it, especially in conjunction with the rest of the action going on.

VERDICT:
I was honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed this story. The emotions were intense and relatable, the secrets and science were mind-blowing and terrible, and I was right there with the characters as they struggled with the consequences of a madman's actions. I am so glad there is more to Juliet's story and cannot wait to read Her Dark Curiosity.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Quirk Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Series: None ~~ Release Date: 03/1/2012
Source: local library

From Goodreads:

Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.

Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.

Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.

And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.

PREFACE:
I based my decision to read Me and Earl and the Dying Girl on very little information. I'd heard/read online that it was supposed be a humorous book (and I loved the cover) so I put it on my TBR list. When I was in my local library recently, I happened to be in the mood for a contemporary YA novel and saw it on the shelf and grabbed it. I was not disappointed.

COVER:
I don't talk about covers much because there is often not a lot to say, but for this book I just want to smash my face into the keyboard because of how amazing it is. Love is not a big enough word to describe how I feel about this cover. The colors and the art and the shadows and the font are perfect and it looks fantastic and I'm just going to stop now before I ramble on forever.

WRITING:
I am impressed with how well Andrews pulled off the writing of this novel. It is a very stream-of-consciousness style with bits of screenplay and bullet-pointed sections thrown in, and if Andrews had been less careful, it would have been a hot mess. But Andrews was deft in the crafting of the story and it was my favorite aspect of the novel. It felt fast-paced (like thoughts often feel) and a little crazy without overdoing it. It read easily (I finished in a few hours which, for me, is saying something) and I enjoyed the experience.

SETTING:
The novel is set in and around Pittsburgh, but it could have been set anywhere. The setting was just a backdrop for the events of the story. It felt realistic that the descriptions of places were minimal because Greg's narration was direct and true to his character in that he only noticed certain things and didn't care about the minute details of his surroundings.

CHARACTERS:
While Greg did not give me the warm-fuzzies, I still related to him. He, like everyone, was trying to make his way through what he saw as a difficult life stage (high school) and thought he had the best path figured out. Learning he was wrong about that, and about other things, was a shock to his carefully crafted existence. Watching him grow was good even if he thought he wasn't changed by the events in the story.

Earl was the kind of character you think you have pegged but who then surprises you. I liked that Andrews brought out some of the deeper aspects of his character and showed how he too was affected by what happened in the novel. Those aspects didn't explain away some of Earl's other attributes (gross language being my least favorite), but I was okay with that because not knowing exactly what makes a person tick is realistic.

Rachel was more difficult for me to grasp. There wasn't as much to go on because her time with Greg was limited and Greg did most of the talking, so the view of Rachel that we get is really Greg's view of Rachel. For most of the novel, that view is simplistic and it is only later when we get to understand the finer points of her character.

DOWNSIDE:
Apart from the language bits I wasn't fond of, my only other issue was the fact that I could not emotionally connect with the characters or the story. I was able to relate to Greg on a human-to-human level, but because of the writing style and the kind of person that Greg is, it didn't go deeper than that.

COOL STUFF:
While I was reading this novel, I kept thinking about something: the potential and probable comparison between this book and The Fault in Our Stars due to cancer being part of the story. However, if Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is anything, it is the anti-TFIOS. Where John Green's story takes a more realistic view of life and cancer through the eyes of its narrator, Hazel, than many similar stories, Andrews's novel is hyper-realistic and more profane than profound. It was refreshing if not as emotionally impactful as it's contemporary.

VERDICT:
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a humorous and uniquely told story about the realities of high school, feelings (or lack thereof), and learning what you've got before it's gone. While the profanity may be off-putting to some, overall this was a fun and easy read that I would recommend to fans of YA. Based on his skill with this book, I'll be looking forward to what Andrews writes next.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Quirk [Series] Review: Revenants trilogy by Amy Plum


Author: Amy Plum ~~ Series: Revenants
Release Dates: 2011 - 2013 ~~ Source: Parnassus Books/local library

About Die for Me from Goodreads:

In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity.

When Kate Mercier's parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life--and memories--behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.

Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate's guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he's a revenant--an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again.

PREFACE:
I picked up Die for Me on a whim from my local library. I wasn't sure how much I would like it because it seemed to be heavy on the romance, but the revenant aspect intrigued me, plus it was set in Paris, so I gave it a shot. I ended up really enjoying it and eventually read the rest of the series.

WRITING:
Plum's writing strength shows in two areas: description and dialogue. She makes Paris not feel like a tourist destination but a real, living city. I also enjoyed the conversations between the characters because it was clear who was talking and there was a lot of fun banter. The romantic conversations also weren't too sappy or melodramatic, which was nice. The rest of her writing was good and never took away from the story being told.

SETTING:
I've already mentioned it, but the Paris setting was amazing. I've never been to Paris (or even Europe for that matter), but Plum made the locations feel real and vibrant. It was like having a resident's view of Paris, getting to see the small shops and random streets, with some of those tourist destinations thrown in on occasion. At one point the characters take a quick trip to New York, and it felt the same.

CHARACTERS:
Over the course of the series, the main character, Kate, goes from being a sad teenage girl to a strong, empowered young woman. I loved that transformation. Kate made the decisions that showed she truly was strong and brave on the inside and not just a love-sick person reacting to the world around her. By the last book, she had become my favorite of the entire ensemble.

Vincent was a good love interest, but he had a little too much Edward from Twilight in him sometimes, but he got away from that by the end of the first book. I did like how when Kate wanted space, he gave her space and didn't just pretend to do so, and he respected Kate's view and choices and didn't get mad at her for them.

Jules and Georgia were my other favorites in the series because they brought some comedy into the story, and I was pleasantly surprised at how their character arcs changed and grew throughout the books.

One of the best things about the characters were they acted and reacted like real people. Their relationships felt real and they had legitimate feelings and issues with each other which made them endearing.

DOWNSIDE:
There are only two aspects of this series that I felt were drawbacks. One was that, as I suspected, the romance was the main focus of the books. Thankfully though, Plum writes it in such a way that makes it interesting and that focus was lessened, or at least equaled by, other things going on in the later books.

The other issue was that in the second and third books, I guessed early on in each what the big twists and reveals were going to be, so there wasn't much to surprise me in that regard.

COOL STUFF:
I loved the lore that surrounded the revenants. It was intriguing and extensive and those links to art and history made the story that much richer. That includes the backstories for each of the revenants, especially what was revealed about Vincent and Lucien in the first book.

While I figured out some of the major plot points, there were still a few things that caught me off guard. Specifically, the endings of the last two books, where Plum really went for it and didn't hold back on breaking readers' hearts.

I also loved the action scenes. There weren't a lot of them, but every one we did get was great fun to read. The one that shows up at the end of the final book was especially satisfying. I can't really say why because of spoilers, but it was the best thing I could have imagined for the ending of the series.

The last thing I really enjoyed was the parallels to Twilight. That might sound weird considering my mixed feelings on the Stephenie Meyer saga, but Die for Me felt a lot like the basic set up of Twilight, except Plum wrote it the right way. Everywhere I expected Plum to zig, she zagged, and vice versa. It was fantastic because it made the story almost like the anti-Twilight - having all the romance and supernatural aspects without some of the more problematic parts.

VERDICT:
While I was unsure of this series going into it, I am now a staunch fan. The romance is sweeping, the setting is vivid, the lore and world building are enthralling, and the characters grow and change and make you happy you stuck with them to the end. I would suggest anyone with reservations about another human/supernatural romance story give this series a chance because it is so much more than that. And now that I've finished this series and loved it, I'm even more excited about Plum's upcoming novel, After the End.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Quirk Review: The Dark Between by Sonia Gensler

Title: The Dark Between ~~ Author: Sonia Gensler
Series: None ~~ Release Date: 08/27/2013
Source: Books-A-Million

From Goodreads:

At the turn of the twentieth century, Spiritualism and séances are all the rage—even in the scholarly town of Cambridge, England. While mediums dupe the grief-stricken, a group of local fringe scientists seeks to bridge the gap to the spirit world by investigating the dark corners of the human mind.

Each running from a shadowed past, Kate, Asher, and Elsie take refuge within the walls of Summerfield College. But their peace is soon shattered by the discovery of a dead body nearby. Is this the work of a flesh-and-blood villain, or is something otherworldly at play? This unlikely trio must illuminate what the scientists have not, and open a window to secrets taken to the grave—or risk joining the spirit world themselves.

PREFACE:
I absolutely loved Sonia Gensler's The Revenant, so when she came out with another historical paranormal mystery, I knew I had to read it.

WRITING:
The writing style of The Dark Between took some getting used to. It felt stiff at first, and I think that was due to being in third person POV, which was different from The Revenant's first person POV. Despite this, the writing was intelligent and economic. The word selections and dialogue made reading the novel feel like a trip back in time.

SETTING:
As I just mentioned above, Gensler makes 1901 Cambridge, England, come alive. The atmosphere of Summerfield College, the rough streets, the museums, the seances, everything added to the experience. I was able to visualize the entire story and think this would be amazing to see on a screen. I was completely sucked into the world and wanted to stay longer.

CHARACTERS:
While I didn't have quite the emotional connection with the characters of The Dark Between that I did with Willie in The Revenant, I still came to adore Kate, Elsie, and Asher. Each has their own secrets and they were not revealed easily.

What I loved the most about them was how they were so different and fleshed out. Kate is a survivalist and rough around the edges, but intelligent with a heart of gold. Elsie is the daughter of a Lord but could care less about her place in society and has no shadow of the mean girl type you might expect. Asher is American and on the arrogant side, but he has a strength and sense of compassion underneath his formal exterior.

The three form an unlikely team, and watching their relationships form and change was just as great as watching them try to solve a mystery. Even so, they still have individual goals and, even at the end of everything, secrets to protect.

I really loved the Thompsons. They were a quirky pair but were some of the best adults I've ever seen in a novel. In contrast, Eliot, though he only makes a few appearances, was one of the worst pieces of scum.

COOL STUFF:
This story had a great paranormal element, the kind that isn't based on magic but on science, so learning about it and the Metaphysical Society was beyond interesting. Add on to that a murder mystery, and this book was hitting all the notes that I loved.

The Dark Between, while whole in and of itself, had an ending that left things open for more to be written about Kate, Elsie, and Asher. I would love to read more about them and the paranormal things they encounter.

VERDICT:
While the story didn't quite have the emotional resonance I hoped for, The Dark Between was still a great story of friendship, ghosts, and secrets, with an amazing historical setting full of atmosphere and intrigue. I am a total fan of Sonia Gensler and I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

2014 Goodreads Rundown [January - February]


Welcome to my Goodreads Rundown post, where I give detailed stats on what I've read so far this year. To see where I'm at between these posts, you can check my Reading Challenges tab above.
 
My goal this year is more than I've ever read before, so I'm a little nervous but trying to stay focused on reading regularly.

Reading the stats: In my #/# calculations, the first # pertains only to the current months; the second # is the total thus far for the year.

Main Breakdown 
Books read to date: 14
Books read in January: 12
Books read in February: 2
Average books read per month: 7/7
Books reviewed: 10/10
 
Type/Format Breakdown
YA books: 13/13
Non-YA books: 1/1
Print books: 6/6
Audiobooks: 8/8

 Genre Breakdown
Paranormal: 5/5
Contemporary: 4/4
Fantasy: 0/0
Science Fiction: 2/2
High Concept: 0/0
Historical: 1/1
Dystopian/Apocalyptic: 1/1
Mystery/Thriller: 0/0
Classic: 0/0
Reference/Craft: 1/1

 Title and Review Breakdown
Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill (WQ Review)
Saving Raphael Santiago by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan 
The Savage Grace by Bree Despain (WQ Review)
City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare (WQ Review)
This is Not a Writing Manual by Kerri Majors
Champion by Marie Lu (WQ Review)
 Shadow Eyes by Dusty Crabtree (WQ Review)
What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang
The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson (WQ Review)
Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando (WQ Review)
Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher (WQ Review)
Secrets of My Hollywood Life by Jen Calonita
Icons by Margaret Stohl (WQ Review)
The Dark Between by Sonia Gensler


What are your reading goals for 2014?
Let me know in the comments! ^_^

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Reading Challenge Update [February 2014]


Hey quirks! Welcome to my Reading Challenge Update (RCU). I'm doing a few of the same challenges as last year, and I added a couple new ones as well. I'm really excited about these challenges because challenges like these pushed me to read more in 2013, so I hope the same will happen this year because my goals are even bigger!

Unlike my Goodreads Rundowns where I give a bunch of stats, here I will just be listing the books I read during the previous month under the challenges to which they apply. To see where I am at between these posts, check out my Reading Challenges tab above.


This Month: 1 --- Total: 8/75
Icons by Margaret Stohl (Icons #1)


This Month: 1 --- Total: 2/12
The Dark Between by Sonia Gensler [Key Word: Dark]


This Month: 0 --- Total: 1/12



This Month: 1 --- Total: 8/40
The Dark Between by Sonia Gensler


This Month: 0 --- Total: 0/1



Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ink Anticipation [19] - March 2014

Welcome to Ink Anticipation! This feature is for sharing the top five YA releases I am looking forward to this month. 

Don't forget to share your most anticipated releases in the comments!



Goodreads / Release Date: March 4th

Goodreads / Release Date: March 4th

Goodreads / Release Date: March 11th

Goodreads / Release Date: March 25th

Goodreads / Release Date: March 25th

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