Review: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

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COMMENTS

Side Effects May Vary
Julie Murphy
Series: Standalone
Released: March 8th, 2014
Publisher: Balzer+Bray
Rating: 2.5 stars
Word Rating: Welcome to Conflicted City
Reviewed by: Ellis

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What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most?

Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.

Waiting on Wednesday - Since You've Been Gone

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine where we post upcoming releases we're highly anticipating. My pre-publication selection for this week's Waiting on Wednesday is Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson.


Since You've Been Gone
Morgan Matson
Series: None
Released: May 6th, 2014
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Waited on by: Mel
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The Pre-Sloane Emily didn't go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn't do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell.But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just... disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try... unless they could lead back to her best friend. Apple Picking at Night? Ok, easy enough. Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a Stranger? Wait... what?

Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go Skinny Dipping? Um...

Review: Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

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COMMENTS

Sea of Shadows
Kelley Armstrong
Series: Age of Legends, #1
Released: April 1st, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Rating: 2 stars
Word Rating: *pig like snoring in the background*
Reviewed by: Mel

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In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever.

Waiting on Wednesday - Unwept

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COMMENTS

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine where we post upcoming releases we're highly anticipating. My pre-publication selection for this week's Waiting on Wednesday is Unwept by Tracy and Laura Hickman.


Unwept
Tracy Hickman and Laura Hickman
Series: The Nightbirds, #1
Released: July 1st, 2014
Publisher: Tor Books
Waited on by: Ellis

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Gamin, Maine, is a remote seaside town where everyone seems to know Ellis Harkington better than she knows herself—but she doesn’t remember any of them.

Unknown events have robbed Ellis of her memory. Concerned individuals, who purport to be her friends and loved ones, insist that she simply needs to recuperate, that her memories may return in time, but refuse to divulge what has brought her to this state. For her own sake, so they say.

Ellis finds herself adrift in a town of ominous mysteries, cryptic hints, and disturbingly familiar strangers. The Nightbirds, a clique of fashionable young men and women, claim her as one of their own, but who among them can she truly trust? And what of the phantom suitor who visits her in her dreams? Is he a memory, a figment of her imagination, or a living nightmare beyond rational explanation?

Only her lost past hold the answers she seeks—if she can uncover its secrets before she fall prey to an unearthly killer.


Coming Attractions: The Falconer

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Coming Attractions is inspired by The Perpetual Page Turner's Save The Date. Coming Attractions showcases a book that is not released for a while that I've read, and gives you a sneak peek (like a pre-review, if you will) as to what I thought about the book, since I can't post the review until closer to the release date.


The Falconer
Elizabeth May
Series: The Falconer, #1
Release Date: May 6th, 2014
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Rating: 3.5 stars
Word rating: KIARAN. Oh, and Aileana and badassery but seriously, KIARAN.
Reviewed by: Ellis

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Heiress. Debutant. Murderer. A new generation of heroines has arrived.

Edinburgh, Scotland, 1844

Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery killed her mother.

Now it’s the 1844 winter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless round of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana’s father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose – and just how far will Aileana go for revenge?

Waiting on Wednesday - Hexed

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COMMENTS

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine where we post upcoming releases we're highly anticipating. My pre-publication selection for this week's Waiting on Wednesday is Hexed by Michelle Krys.


Hexed
Michelle Krys
Series: The Witch Hunter, #1
Released: June 10th, 2014
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Waited on by: Ellis

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If high school is all about social status, Indigo Blackwood has it made. Sure, her quirky mom owns an occult shop, and a nerd just won’t stop trying to be her friend, but Indie is a popular cheerleader with a football-star boyfriend and a social circle powerful enough to ruin everyone at school. Who wouldn’t want to be her?

Then a guy dies right before her eyes. And the dusty old family Bible her mom is freakishly possessive of is stolen. But it’s when a frustratingly sexy stranger named Bishop enters Indie’s world that she learns her destiny involves a lot more than pom-poms and parties. If she doesn’t get the Bible back, every witch on the planet will die. And that’s seriously bad news for Indie, because according to Bishop, she’s a witch too.

Suddenly forced into a centuries-old war between witches and sorcerers, Indie’s about to uncover the many dark truths about her life—and a future unlike any she ever imagined on top of the cheer pyramid.


What We're Watching (And You Should Be Too)

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Ellis

So the thing with me is that I watch quite a lot of shows, but there are only a few I keep up-to-date on. The rest I save until the full season - or, in some case, full half of a season - has been broadcast, so that I can binge-watch. For some shows, such as Scandal and Elementary, this is because they are at their best when binge-watched. Others I save for when I'm in a reading or life slump, or when one of the regulars decides to go on a random hiatus of a few weeks. This is maybe one of the few things in life I actually have a system for. Today, I'm only going to talk about five of my regulars.

Keep in mind that this is a list of shows that are currently airing. Otherwise, Suits and Rizzoli & Isles would have been on here for sure.

Teen Wolf


Everyone who knows me, even if it's only a little, should have seen this coming. Teen Wolf is not just one of the regulars. It is The Regular. I've recently started rewatching the show from the beginning, and it's so much better than I remembered it to be. For me, Teen Wolf belongs to that category of obsessions that kind of creeps up on you, but at this point, I'm not even trying to hide, let alone deny, it anymore. 

The cast is racially and sexually diverse - though it does have some problems with queerbaiting certain characters - there are some excellent friendship and romance dynamics, and every single female character puts her male cast members to shame (but not really, because most of them are fabulous, too). Honestly, I could write an entire discussion post on this show alone. Maybe I will. Someday. Oh, and Mama McCall wins everything. Naturally.

To maximise the Teen Wolf experiences: check out the recaps over at The Mary Sue and Heathicorn. They only start at season 3, though. 


The Fosters


This show is probably not that well-known and honestly a little cheesy occasionally, but it's worth watching for several reasons. Here, too, there's some excellent representation of racial and sexual diversity, and it also deals fairly well with the topic of foster families and the foster system in general. (Bet you couldn't guess that from the title.) One of the things I love most about The Fosters is actually its intro. It is so incredibly corny in its imagery of the All American Family but HELL YES. Who says the Fosters can't be a legit representation of the standard American family? So yeah, maybe not the biggest fan of the intro itself, but very much so of the message behind it. Also, Lena and Steph (the moms) are my OTP and Lena just my idol in general. 


Nashville


What I love about Nashville is that it can get super formulaic, but never in a way that it actually feels clich├ęd. I'm usually not a fan of music being performed on drama shows, but here it works. The characters are genuine, the acting is amazing and this show gets serious cookies for featuring one of the best and most realistic redemption stories I've ever seen in fiction. I'm looking at you, Avery Barkley. 


Switched At Birth


I'm in a bit of an on-and-off relationship with Switched At Birth, because it likes to pull some shenanigans every once in a while and I am so very not amused when they do that. This show started out strong, with great consideration of class issues and the deaf community. Then it started to get all political and decided to move the focus to John, which, please don't ever do that again. However, it's finding its roots again, thus why it still belongs to the regulars. One of its definite strong points is the use of ASL and the willingness of the characters to learn in it order to communicate with their friends and family.


The Originals


The Originals kind of is what The Vampire Diaries would be if those characters finally decided to grow up a little. What I'm saying is that it's BETTER. So much better. It's grittier and there's actual plot that isn't all centred around love/destiny crap. (I'm just really angry at the direction TVD has taken, okay?) Also, WITCHES and PLOT and SHENANIGANS and NEW ORLEANS, which I actually like much better than Mystic Falls - or wherever this show now (partially) takes place. It definitely has its flaws but I ship Rebekah and Marcel like nobody's business and, okay, I'll admit it. Honestly? 



YES. MORE PLEASE.


Blythe 

One thing you should know about me is that I'm really, really bad at keeping up with TV shows as they're airing. I'm usually fine, right up until I miss an episode, then it turns into two, then three, etc. This is why Netflix is my best friend, but sometimes I'm even bad at binge-watching and find myself setting shows aside. Either way, here are some of the shows I am watching and currently am not falling behind on, and they're all shows you should watch.

Teen Wolf



Of course Ellis and I agree on this one; this show is seriously one of the best things I'm watching at the moment. Everything Ellis mentioned above is absolutely, entirely accurate, and it's all amazing. The show gets off on a rocky start, but once a certain ship ends, it's smooth sailing. And from then on, it's amazing characters, fantastic ships, and awesome plot twists. If you like ships and feels and also some scary stuff to go with that, you need to watch Teen Wolf. Pretty sure I have about six or seven ships total with this show. Watch it. Thanks. 

Star-Crossed



You guys, this show really, really surprised me. I expected this to be so bad; star-crossed lovers, but one is an alien! And it's forbidden! But seriously, this show is really freaking good. I still need to catch up on the latest episode (so much for the intro I wrote), but I think this has the potential to be a favorite with a few more episodes. The characters are likable, the world-building is really good, and the love interest is wonderfully snarky. But there are, of course, things to be expected in a CW teen drama. So keep that in mind, maybe. 

Breaking Bad



BREAKING BAD. What are you even doing with your life if you're not watching it? It takes a little bit of patience in the first few episodes, but oh my god holy shit this show. If you like shows that are intense practically every single minute, you need to watch Breaking Bad; if you like shows that will give you anxiety and make you hyperventilate, you need to watch Breaking Bad. 

If you want an excuse to look at Aaron Paul's face, you should probably watch Breaking Bad. And I mean, who doesn't want an excuse to look at Aaron Paul's face? He's Aaron Paul. 


UNF UNF UNF UNF 



What are you watching? Anything in common with us? 

Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

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COMMENTS

The Impossible Knife of Memory
Laurie Halse Anderson
Series: None
Released: January 7th, 2014
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Rating: 2 stars
Word Rating: Woe is me
Reviewed by: Mel

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For the past five years, Hayley Kincaid and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.

Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.

Review: And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

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And We Stay
Jenny Hubbard
Series: Standalone
Released: January 28th, 2014
Publisher: Delacorte
Rating: 4.5 stars
Word Rating: Subtle, understated and beautiful.
Reviewed by: Ellis

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When high school senior Paul Wagoner walks into his school library with a stolen gun, he threatens his girlfriend Emily Beam, then takes his own life. In the wake of the tragedy, an angry and guilt-ridden Emily is shipped off to boarding school in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she encounters a ghostly presence who shares her name. The spirit of Emily Dickinson and two quirky girls offer helping hands, but it is up to Emily to heal her own damaged self.

This inventive story, told in verse and in prose, paints the aftermath of tragedy as a landscape where there is good behind the bad, hope inside the despair, and springtime under the snow.

Review: She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick

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She Is Not Invisible
Marcus Sedgwick
Series: Standalone
Released: April 22nd, 2014
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Rating: 4 stars
Word Rating: Utterly fascinating
Reviewed by: Blythe

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Laureth Peak's father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers--a skill at which she's remarkably talented. Her secret: She is blind. But when her father goes missing, Laureth and her 7-year-old brother Benjamin are thrust into a mystery that takes them to New York City where surviving will take all her skill at spotting the amazing, shocking, and sometimes dangerous connections in a world full of darkness. She Is Not Invisible is an intricate puzzle of a novel that sheds a light on the delicate ties that bind people to each other.


Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

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Red Rising
Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising, #1
Released: January 28th, 2014
Publisher: Del Rey
Rating: 1.5 stars
Word Rating: Um
Reviewed by: Ellis

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Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies . . . even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

Waiting on Wednesday - Top Ten Clues You're Clueless

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine where we post upcoming releases we're highly anticipating. My pre-publication selection for this week's Waiting on Wednesday is Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas.


Top Ten Clues You're Clueless
Liz Czukas
Series: None
Released: December 9th, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Waited on by: Mel
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Top Five Things That Are Ruining Chloe’s Day

5) Working the 6:30 a.m. shift at GoodFoods Market

4) Crashing a cart into a customer’s car right in front of her snarky coworker Sammi

3) Trying to rock the “drowned rat” look after being caught in a snowstorm

2) Making zero progress with her crush, Tyson (see #3)

1) Being accused—along with her fellow teenage employees—of stealing upwards of $10,000

Chloe would rather be anywhere than locked in work jail (aka the break room) with five of her coworkers . . . even if one of them is Tyson. But if they can band together to clear their names, what looks like a total disaster might just make Chloe’s list of Top Ten Best Moments.

Procrastination Reviews: Tsarina and Fire & Flood

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Because I am an epic procrastinator, I have many reviews left unwritten. I keep telling myself I'll write a review, I try (if I even get that far), then I don't. Because after a few months, you've forgotten pretty much everything and all the stuff you have left to say are only enough content for mini-reviews, right? Right. Here are those mini-reviews. They won't be like my regular reviews, or very thorough, but you'll get the basic idea and it diminishes some of my guilt; one I recommend, the other I don't.