Book Review: Material Girls by Elaine Dimopoulos

Book Review: Material Girls by Elaine DimopoulosMaterial Girls by Elaine Dimopoulos
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on May 5, 2015
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, NetGalley
Goodreads
4 Stars
In Marla Klein and Ivy Wilde’s world, teens are the gatekeepers of culture. A top fashion label employs sixteen-year-old Marla to dictate hot new clothing trends, while Ivy, a teen pop star, popularizes the garments that Marla approves. Both girls are pawns in a calculated but seductive system of corporate control, and both begin to question their world’s aggressive levels of consumption. Will their new “eco-chic” trend subversively resist and overturn the industry that controls every part of their lives?

Smart, provocative, and entertaining, this thrilling page-turner for teens questions the cult like mentality of fame and fashion. Are you in or are you out?

Book Review:

MATERIAL GIRLS is one of those books that worms itself into your brain, until you start to think, “Hmm, this really could happen.”

In this future world, teens rule. Creative and talented thirteen year olds are Tapped by big businesses, and they spend the next few years creating things, from dresses to video games, for other teens to buy. Trendiness is incredibly important; there are even trendchecker guns that scan an item to see if it’s still in or if it’s out.

Marla is one of those Tapped teens; she’s a judge at Torro-LeBlanc, one of the top five fashion houses. She gets to decide what’s in or out. Ivy, a popstar, helps sell each new trend, since everything she wears is photographed and promoted.

At the start of MATERIAL GIRLS, Marla’s at the peak of her career, but she’s quickly demoted to the very bottom after she disagrees with the people in power. Ivy must maintain her Wilde girl image with nightly clubbing, public makeout sessions with her boyfriend, and even disorderly-conduct arrests arranged by her PR people.

MATERIAL GIRLS is told from both of their perspectives, showing two sides of the system. And it’s quite an interesting system, hinting at how teens with disposable income drive the world. People who don’t get Tapped go onto hold normal jobs and get more schooling, but they’re looked down upon by their creative peers.

I do think the author needed to do a bit more explaining of all these concepts, since I was a lost at the beginning of the book, and even into the middle. Eventually some of them were explained and I pieced the rest together. It’s just my preference to have a solid explanation, especially in such a fascinating world.

The beginning of MATERIAL GIRLS is a little slow, leading into Marla and Ivy questioning their roles in the system. Once they meet, things really get going. They start a new trend, “eco-chic,” which eventually leads to a revolution. Aside from that, the author also uses eco-chic to critique the fashion industry, bringing up the amount of clothing thrown out each year — up to seventy pounds per person. I liked how the author incorporated such information, slyly poking at commercialism and trends and that sort of thing. It really made me think.

MATERIAL GIRLS is a standalone, which is always refreshing in young adult fiction. The book wraps everything up neatly, but leaves the reader with plenty to think about regarding fashion, commercialism, and fame.

Socialize with the author:

Elaine Dimopoulos:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: Hidden Huntress by Danielle L. Jensen

Book Review: Hidden Huntress by Danielle L. JensenHidden Huntress by Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Malediction Trilogy #2
Published by Angry Robot on June 2, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 464
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
5 Stars
Sometimes, one must accomplish the impossible.

Beneath the mountain, the king’s reign of tyranny is absolute; the one troll with the capacity to challenge him is imprisoned for treason. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus, but she learns all too quickly that she is not beyond the reach of the king’s power. Or his manipulation.

Recovered from her injuries, she now lives with her mother in Trianon and graces the opera stage every night. But by day she searches for the witch who has eluded the trolls for five hundred years. Whether she succeeds or fails, the costs to those she cares about will be high.

To find Anushka, she must delve into magic that is both dark and deadly. But the witch is a clever creature. And Cécile might not just be the hunter. She might also be the hunted…

Book Review:

Last year, I loved STOLEN SONGBIRD, the first book in Danielle L. Jensen’s amazing young adult fantasy series, the Malediction Trilogy. I loved every bit of STOLEN SONGBIRD, so of course I couldn’t wait for the sequel.

HIDDEN HUNTRESS is just as good, if not better, than STOLEN SONGBIRD. Let me tell you, this book has no hint of Middle Book Syndrome, which usually plagues trilogies. So much important stuff happens that I couldn’t even begin to summarize it, and I’m not going to try. Because HIDDEN HUNTRESS is too good to spoil!

I think my favorite thing about HIDDEN HUNTRESS is the way Danielle ended every chapter. I swear she’s an expert at ending chapters with cliffhangers. I’d get caught up in Cécile’s narration and think “I have to know what happens next” at the end of her chapter. I’d be tempted to skip ahead, but then it was Tristan’s turn, and I’d get sucked into his story. This happened over and over again, and I loved that.

Much of Cécile’s focus is on finding Anushka, the witch who cursed the trolls. I enjoyed watching Cécile try to puzzle through clues, and while I’m not going to spoil things, I like how that storyline played out. In Trollus, Tristan has to sort out his father’s true intentions and desires, which is quite difficult, since trolls never say what they mean. In the first book, we mostly saw Trollus through Cécile’s’s eyes. In HIDDEN HUNTRESS, we see it through Tristan’s, which I greatly enjoyed.

HIDDEN HUNTRESS is one of those books that’s worth the wait!

Let’s talk about it:

Be sure to check out the amazing guest post Danielle wrote for me, a letter from Anaïs to the reader! I also interviewed Danielle last year.

Socialize with the author:

Danielle L. Jensen:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

– leeanna

Guest Post: Danielle L. Jensen & Hidden Huntress

danielle l. jensen guest post

hidden huntress by danielle l. jensenLast year, I loved STOLEN SONGBIRD by Danielle L. Jensen. It was even one of my favorite books of 2014. So you can bet I was eagerly anticipating this year’s sequel, HIDDEN HUNTRESS. I emailed the publisher, Angry Robot, as soon as I knew there was a blog tour and practically begged to be on it :D

I interviewed Danielle last year, and this year I have an amazing guest post! I gave Danielle a few ideas, and to my great joy, she wrote a letter the readers from Anaïs! This letter is epic, you guys. I had a troll-sized grin while reading it.

Danielle has done a few posts already for HIDDEN HUNTRESS, and I recommend you check them out on Angry Robot’s site. HIDDEN HUNTRESS comes out June 2, 2015, and my review will be up next week is posted here. It’s worth the wait, guys :D


A letter from Anaïs, written as she watches over the injured Cécile.

Dearest Readers,

I confess, I was somewhat uncertain of how to address this letter. I am not Tristan or Marc, and I’m certainly not the twins, so if you are reading this believing to find some human-loving spark buried deep within my heart, please set aside those foolish hopes. You are human and I am a troll, and as such, I am superior to you in the way a dragon is a sparrow. You are not dear to me.

I am smiling while I reread my words, as I can see them undoing all the goodwill I’ve built with you over this brief chapter of my life where you were present. As though those few months and occasional meetings were enough for you to presume to know me. To know my story.

So why address your letter dearest, you ask? Why not to the creatures I look down upon or to those I grudgingly tolerate? Why write to us at all? The answer is this: while you are not dear to me, the cause you all profess to champion is more precious to me than my own life.

Surprised, aren’t you? How many of you believed that my every action was driven by my affection for Tristan? Please. Did you never stop to think that half the reason I loved him was because we fought for the same thing, if for different reasons? Tristan fights for the half-bloods and humans because he believes you are our equals. I fight for you because I believe it is the duty of the strong to protect those who are weak. And you have my father to thank for that.

My family is full of black hearts and wicked souls, selfish and grasping, each generation a product of the prior’s cruelty and manipulation. I blame my father because we were subject to his harsh hand, but he was the victim of my grandmother and she my great-grandfather. The instigator of our family’s ways lived and died a thousand years ago, but, oh, how her legacy lives on. And her goal remains the same: to take the crown.

I, like all those before me, was born a tool to use in our quest to achieve that goal. For centuries we cultivated power, drawing in those who cared not for Montigny rule, using them and everything else at our disposal in our game of guerre with the ruling family. We bred for magic, the holder of the Angoulême title never bonding lest a chosen mate fail to deliver progeny of the appropriate caliber of power. My father was a failure in my grandmother’s eyes, but despite disposing of my grandfather and two subsequent husbands, she was never able to deliver a replacement. She never lets my father forget that he holds the title only because there was no one better. Never lets him forget how weak he is. How even if he managed to win the crown, that he hasn’t the mettle to wear it himself.

And how she despaired when my sweet sister was born, for Pénélope had less power than some of the half-bloods who served us, her gifts of kindness, grace, and artistic talent worthless in my grandmother’s eyes. She believed the might of our family was doomed – that we were destined to descend into the teeming pool of lesser trolls, our fight for the crown a distant memory.

But then my power manifested. I’ll not bore you with false humility: my magic changed everything, for I had a spark of power outshone only by the Montigny prince himself. But my father, ever the clever creature, knew it wasn’t enough to wrest the crown from the Montignys by force. His had a much better plan than that. He spun pretty words, saying that our world was too small for so great an enmity as was between our two families; that ours was a common enemy best defeated with a united front. A thousand truths to hide the lie, and a daughter with enough power to be queen sent to befriend the son of his enemy. To be his bait.

But there was a problem with his plan: Pénélope hadn’t just been born weak in magic, she’d been born with a sickness that caused her to bleed ceaselessly from even the smallest of injuries. And though my flesh was not similarly afflicted, the sickness was in my blood, waiting to rear its ugly head in any child born of my body. It was our greatest secret, and my father made us both swear never to reveal it to anyone. To me he whispered simply that Pénélope’s life was destined to be a short one, and that it would be cruel to reveal her affliction. What he whispered to my sister was far worse. He told her she was a scourge on our family name. That she was weak and worthless. That if her secret got out, it wouldn’t ruin just her life, it would ruin mine as well. That it would ruin my chance to be queen. He crushed her spirit and turned her into a coward, rendering her afraid to take a step too fast lest she fall. He would have killed her and removed all chance of our secret being discovered, but our mother threatened to reveal everything to the King if any harm came to her daughter.

My loyalty my father did not doubt, because he believed we wanted the same thing. He believed that I, like him, would do anything – sacrifice anyone – to gain the throne. Not once did he consider that his treatment of Pénélope would turn me against him and into the camp of his enemy. Tristan and Marc brought the twins and me into the fold of their revolution early, but not Pénélope. She could not protect herself from my father, and that made telling her anything a risk we couldn’t afford to take. She’d be safer, we all decided, if we kept her in the dark. So we did. And I, who had been sent to infiltrate the Montignys, was now a spy in my own household. A many-leveled game of guerre that kept me awake at night for fear of being discovered.

When my father told me that he and the King had settled on the terms of the betrothal between Tristan and me, it felt like a dream, for Tristan had held my heart since we were children. But it also seemed like a nightmare, because I knew Tristan would eventually discover Pénélope’s secret and know that I’d withheld the truth from him for my family’s gain. I did not think our friendship would survive such deceit, and I was afraid of what it would be like to be bonded to someone who didn’t trust me. Of what it would do to my sanity if I loved him, but only ever felt his hate. So I said nothing – about my feelings or the betrothal – because in my heart, I knew they would amount to nothing good.

Less than a year after the King and my father settled the terms of our betrothal, which unfortunately included our bringing Roland into our household, my mother went missing on a sluag hunt in the labyrinth. A tragic accident, they said. But I knew the truth: the stakes were too high, my mother too great a risk. And I knew that my sister was next. What I didn’t know was how I could protect her. Any appeals to Tristan or the King to harbor her would be met with questions I could not easily answer and consequences that my selfish heart was unwilling to accept. Instead, I counted down the days until Tristan and I would be old enough to be wed, promising myself that once we were bonded, it wouldn’t matter if my family’s secret got out. That he’d understand and forgive my deception. That once I was a princess, I’d be able to protect my sister. That once I was queen, Tristan and I would reinvent our world and turn Trollus into a place where the weak need not live in fear of those in power.

Which made it all the more painfully ironic that it was Tristan who put an end to my plan. A playful duel at a party. The broken tip of a sword. What were the odds that the one person watching us who couldn’t heal a pinprick without toil was the one nicked by the toxic metal? There was blood everywhere, and the King looked at Pénélope and then at me, and I knew it was over. That I had lost everything. And above all, I knew my father would make my beloved sister pay.

It did not take long. I walked in on him smothering her in the parlor of our home while my grandmother sat idly in the next room. It was nothing to stop him – my power had surpassed his years prior – and for a brief moment, I considered killing him. In one fell swoop saving my sister, killing the enemy of my friend and leader, and ridding Trollus of one of its worst. But he was and is my father, and some small amount of foolish loyalty to blood stayed my hand. Except leaving things as they were would only have left my sister in danger. Threatening him would do little good. Revenge might be sweet, but it does not bring back the dead, and it would destroy his faith in my loyalty to our family, rendering me ineffective as a spy – a role that was so much more important now that he and his followers were bent on pulling Tristan from his position as heir and putting Roland in his place. So I did the only thing I could do – I made her useful. I told him that Marc was the only one who knew all of Tristan’s secrets, and there wasn’t a soul in Trollus who didn’t know Marc was in love with my sister. But I was the only one who knew she was in love with him.

I think in that moment she hated me. And that I deserved it. But it was the only way I could think to save her, avoid killing my father, and retain my ability to spy on his plans. Little did I know that my actions would drive her harder towards the choice that eventually killed her. Maybe she did it purely for love – it’s certainly a sweet thought. But I think it was because she believed there was no place in Trollus for someone like her – that her murder was inevitable. So she chose to spend the last few months of her life happy and to die on her own terms. And I cannot help but wonder if she’d been privy to our plans, if she’d had hope for a future where she did not need to live in fear, that she’d have chosen differently. That she’d still be alive today.

Much time has passed, but there are days where I feel little has changed. That all our efforts have been for naught. And perhaps they have been, for even as I write this, Cécile lies before me on her deathbed. Roland may have struck the blow, but she is the victim of our failure to protect her. A victim of our failure to make Trollus a place where she wouldn’t need protection. There is no love lost between the two of us, but despite being such a fragile creature, she is brave. It is one thing to be brave when one is the dragon, quite another to be brave when one is the sparrow, and I cannot help but respect that.

If she dies, I do not think Tristan will survive it. And thought of losing him makes me want to rend myself to pieces. But more than that, if she dies, the King wins. My father wins. Every troll in this cursed city who believes power gives them a right to hurt those who are weak wins. It’s because I refuse to accept defeat that I’ll do what it takes to help Tristan free Cécile from Trollus. Or I’ll die trying.

Anaïs


About the author:

author danielle l. jensenDanielle was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. At the insistence of the left side of her brain, she graduated in 2003 from the University of Calgary with a bachelor’s degree in finance. But the right side of her brain has ever been mutinous; and in 2010, it sent her back to school to complete an entirely impractical English literature degree at Mount Royal University and to pursue publication. Much to her satisfaction, the right side shows no sign of relinquishing its domination.
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

– leeanna

Book Review: Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton

Book Review: Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle ClaytonTiny Pretty Things by Dhonielle Clayton, Sona Charaipotra
Series: Tiny Pretty Things #1
Published by HarperTeen on May 26, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Diversity, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
Goodreads
5 Stars
Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school.

Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette's desire to escape the shadow of her ballet star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever. When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.

Book Review:

When books are pitched as X meets Y, the comparisons rarely work for me. But “Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars” is SPOT ON for TINY PRETTY THINGS. If you like drama and/or ballet books, this is one for you.

Here’s how much I loved TINY PRETTY THINGS: I read the book twice in a month. Yeah. I reread a lot, but I just couldn’t leave Gigi, Bette, and June behind. I need more of them, stat!

TINY PRETTY THINGS is written from the perspectives of three very different characters at the American Ballet Company school. Gigi is the school’s new student and star, an African American transplant from California. Bette is the rich legacy, the former star student who will do anything to regain her top spot. June is half Korean, a perfectionist who needs to land a lead role or her mother will pull her out.

I appreciated the diverse characters — very rarely have I seen ballet books feature anything other than white main characters. And there’s a reason for that, because diverse dancers do have a more difficult time in the ballet world. But the authors don’t just toss in ethnicities and leave it at that; they show how other students look at Gigi and June, and show the struggles June has as a “halfie.”

There is SO MUCH DRAMA in this book, I ate it with a spoon and loved every second of it. Seriously, I had no idea what was going to happen next, or who was going to attack who. Aside from all the drama and the characters trying to one up each other, there’s plenty of dancing — yay!

And the ending? Oh man. I didn’t see it coming at all. It’s not quite a cliffhanger, but it did leave me desperately craving the next book.

In case you can’t tell, I loved TINY PRETTY THINGS, and highly recommend it. I don’t usually gush for contemporary books, but this one was perfect for me.

Socialize with the authors:
Sona Charaipotra:
Website
Twitter

Dhonielle Clayton:
Website
Twitter

– leeanna

Armchair BEA 2015: Day 2: Social Media

armchair bea 2014

Design by Amber of Shelf Notes

I decided to go with Social Media for today’s Armchair BEA topic because I’m a bit old-fashioned: I just can’t get into comics/graphic novels/webcomics. I think it’s because there’s a visual element. I prefer to imagine everything myself.

So! Social media. I always say I want to be better at using it. Day after day, month after month, year after year — you get the picture. Part of the reason I blog is to connect with other readers/bloggers, but I’m not so great at the connecting part. I guess it’s the thing that goes first when I run out of time?

I spend a lot of time in my head, too, thinking about replies, but then I never make them because I just stay in my head. Ahh, I’m weird sometimes :D

I’m the most active on Twitter and Instagram and Goodreads. Facebook I hate; I quit bothering with promoting a page there when they made advertising changes. I didn’t get Tumblr a few years ago, but now I really like it for learning about stuff I don’t know enough about, like LGBTQ rights.

leaflette
leeannadotme
leeannadotme

I do want to explore using other social media platforms, since one day I hope to publish and market myself. Again with the weirdness — I’m excited about that part. But I can’t seem to do it with my book blog. Hah.

I think each platform has its pros and cons. For example, Pinterest is great for showing an author’s inspirations, but I’m not sure how to use it for a blog like mine. I’ve done one video review on Youtube. I’d hoped to do more, but I don’t like the video format for myself, and if I’m not going to watch other vloggers, it doesn’t make sense to enter that community. I prefer words over video because I can read words a lot faster. I also tried out Tumblr, mainly backing up my Instagram photos, but again, I wasn’t really engaging, so I quit using it.

What are your favorites?

– leeanna

Book Review: Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

Book Review: Ink and Bone by Rachel CaineInk and Bone by Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library #1
Published by NAL on July 7, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
5 Stars
In an exhilarating new series, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time.…

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When he inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn.…

Book Review:

INK AND BONE is one of those books I always wanted, but I never knew it until I read it. There are so many good ideas and it’s such a great story that I’m still thinking about INK AND BONE a month after finishing it. With the amount of books I read, about 20 per month, it’s rare that a book sticks with me.

Jess lives in a world where owning personal copies of books is illegal. The Great Library has survived since the days of Alexandria and now exists in every city. The Library controls access to book and knowledge, functioning with as much power as a country. Jess’s family makes a living selling books on the black market, and seeing an opportunity, his father sends him to the Library, with the intent of having a spy on the inside.

But joining the Library isn’t that easy. There are 32 postulants and 6 available spots. The competition is fierce and dangerous. Jess must navigate a murky world, one where disagreeing with the Library’s policies and politics can be deadly. For example, when Jess is in the middle of a war zone, he could call on his family connections to survive, but doing so would expose his book smuggling background. What to do?

Imagine the greatest texts of the world surviving through the centuries thanks to the Library. But at the same time, imagine the same Library controlling which of those texts the public can see. Imagine a world where you can’t own your own books. It’s every book lover’s nightmare, right?

Rachel Caine explores those ideas and others in INK AND BONE. It’s a very thinky book, but enjoyably so. Jess’s time as a postulant for the Library is the best sort of dangerous adventure, one that’s fun to read but left me thinking. I cannot wait to return to the world the author’s created — bring on the next book!

Let’s talk about it:

What would you do if you lived in a world where you couldn’t own books?

Socialize with the author:

Rachel Caine:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Armchair BEA 2015: Day 1: Introduction

armchair bea 2014

Design by Amber of Shelf Notes

I can’t believe this is my fourth year doing Armchair BEA! You’d have thought I’d found my way to BEA by now, haha. But no — I love the virtual version and I always enjoy participating. This year I’m hoping to meet some new blogging friends, maybe even some writing friends, and check out a lot of new blogs.


1: Tell us a bit about yourself: How long have you been blogging? Where are you from? How did you get into blogging?

leeannaMy name is Leeanna, which is a bit obvious from the blog name. When I first started trying to think of a blog name, I happened to see if www.leeanna.me was available and it was … so it seemed like a good idea!

I’ve been blogging here since February 2012. I’m from ultra-exciting Ohio, which means I have a lot of time for blogging, lol. I got into blogging because I like reviewing/talking about books and wanted somewhere on the web for myself. Nothing too exciting!


2: What does diversity mean to you?

I tend to think of diversity in terms of sexual orientation/gender identity, because a lot of of my interest is finding amazing LGBT/QUILTBAG/whatever acronym you want to use books.

I want to see ALL THE THINGS in books, because I think that’s how a lot of kids/teens/adults learn about who they are and how others feel.


3: Why do you loving reading and blogging?

Somehow the stork delivered me to a family of non-readers! I also don’t have anyone in real life to talk to about the books I read, and we all know how sometimes you just need to gush or cry or angst about a book, right? I’m not always the best at being social even so, but events like these are great to find new book blogging buddies!

Blogging also gives me the opportunity to try different things, like keep up with new blogging tech, social media, expand my blog, etc. Well, that’s the theory. I tend to get so caught up in reading and reviewing that I never do bloggy things I want to do, like more personal posts. I do hope to kick off a personal year long project of posting 1 book photo per day to my Instagram account, as an extra way of promoting books I love while improving my book photography skills (you’ll see below they aren’t too good yet!)

As for why I love reading… it’s just a part of me. I can’t even begin to answer that question, other than say I can’t go a few hours without reading.


4: Take a picture of your bookshelf and share it with us!

armchair bea 2015 shelfie

My main series of bookshelves. It’s hard to get them all in one picture because they span an entire wall. There’s a Star Wars/Forgotten Realms bookcase, a fantasy/urban fantasy/paranormal/science fiction bookcase, and a general bookcase. As you can see, they’re starting to get a bit messy, which means I need to reorganize.

armchair bea 2015 shelfie

My attempt at a rainbow bookcase! Yellow/orange/green book spines are hard to find! The bottom shelf used to be my Harry Potter collection (US and UK editions) but it’s been taken over by books I need to find spots.


And that’s it. I went with 4 questions since I’m worried my electric will go out before I finish this post :D See ya’ll tomorrow!

– leeanna

Book Review: The Shadow Revolution by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith

Book Review: The Shadow Revolution by Clay Griffith and Susan GriffithThe Shadow Revolution by Clay Griffith, Susan Griffith
Series: Crown & Key #1
Published by Del Rey on June 2, 2015
Genres: Paranormal, Steampunk, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
A thrilling new Victorian-era urban fantasy for fans of Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, the Showtime series Penny Dreadful, and the Sherlock Holmes movies featuring Robert Downey, Jr.

They are the realm’s last, best defense against supernatural evil. But they’re going to need a lot more silver.

As fog descends, obscuring the gas lamps of Victorian London, werewolves prowl the shadows of back alleys. But they have infiltrated the inner circles of upper-crust society as well. Only a handful of specially gifted practitioners are equipped to battle the beasts. Among them are the roguish Simon Archer, who conceals his powers as a spell-casting scribe behind the smooth veneer of a dashing playboy; his layabout mentor, Nick Barker, who prefers a good pub to thrilling heroics; and the self-possessed alchemist Kate Anstruther, who is equally at home in a ballroom as she is on a battlefield.

After a lycanthrope targets Kate’s vulnerable younger sister, the three join forces with fierce Scottish monster-hunter Malcolm MacFarlane—but quickly discover they’re dealing with a threat far greater than anything they ever imagined.

Book Review:

A couple of years ago, I thoroughly enjoyed a wickedly good vampire book, THE GREYFRIAR, by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith. Ever since finishing the Vampire Empire series, I’ve kept my eye out for new books by the authors since I couldn’t wait to read something else of theirs.

THE SHADOW REVOLUTION kicks off a new urban fantasy series set in Victorian London, Crown & Key. Simon Archer may be the last scribe around, but he prefers to squander his time attending parties and finding his way into corsets. He and mentor Nick happily stick to the shadows until one of his old paramours is killed in front of him … by a werewolf.

It’s the kick Simon needs to realize he’s wasting his potential. But of course, he soon finds himself in a world of trouble when he helps Kate Anstruther rescue her sister from another werewolf. Because one werewolf just isn’t enough — they manage to find a whole pack.

THE SHADOW REVOLUTION has a magic system I like; I’m always craving inscription and alchemy! I do wish we saw more of both, but what was there was good. I was particularly intrigued by Simon’s tattoos (the cover is a great representation), which allow him to quickly cast spells. Aether sickness, which comes on from using too much magic, is a fitting downside.

The characters are also fun, and I look forward to seeing more of them. Simon’s described as a playboy, and there’s a little of that, but I was also happy to a deeper, more responsible side to him. Kate’s good too, a woman who bucks society’s conventions in favor of her interest in alchemy. I would have liked to see more about Nick, Kate’s servant Hogarth, cool inventor Penny, and werewolf hunter Malcolm.

There’s a LOT of action in THE SHADOW REVOLUTION, and so I found there was less character development because so much time was spent fighting. The action scenes were good, but after a while, I have to confess I wanted to drug everyone with a potion so they’d take a break. There was a lot of charging into danger when worn out and injured from the last fight, and the fights got a bit repetitive.

However, even if I did have a few quibbles with THE SHADOW REVOLUTION, I will definitely check out the rest of the series. I’ve never seen such creepy homunculi, for instance, and I’m super curious about the key, as well as if Simon and Kate’s fathers will have any importance on the story.

This is a great time to start, because book two, THE UNDYING LEGION, will be out at the end of June, and book three, THE CONQUERING DARK will be out at the end of July. No year long wait between installments!

Socialize with the author:

Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Headstrong by Rachel Swaby

Book Review: Headstrong by Rachel SwabyHeadstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science--and the World by Rachel Swaby
Published by Broadway Books on April 7, 2015
Genres: Biography, Non Fiction
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
Source: Blogging For Books
Goodreads
5 Stars
Fifty-two inspiring and insightful profiles of history’s brightest female scientists.

In 2013, the New York Times published an obituary for Yvonne Brill. It began: “She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job, and took eight years off from work to raise three children.” It wasn’t until the second paragraph that readers discovered why the Times had devoted several hundred words to her life: Brill was a brilliant rocket scientist who invented a propulsion system to keep communications satellites in orbit, and had recently been awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. Among the questions the obituary—and consequent outcry—prompted were, Who are the role models for today’s female scientists, and where can we find the stories that cast them in their true light?

Headstrong delivers a powerful, global, and engaging response. Covering Nobel Prize winners and major innovators, as well as lesser-known but hugely significant scientists who influence our every day, Rachel Swaby’s vibrant profiles span centuries of courageous thinkers and illustrate how each one’s ideas developed, from their first moment of scientific engagement through the research and discovery for which they’re best known. This fascinating tour reveals these 52 women at their best—while encouraging and inspiring a new generation of girls to put on their lab coats.

Book Review:

HEADSTRONG: 52 WOMEN WHO CHANGED SCIENCE — AND THE WORLD is a needed book. I wish it wasn’t, but it is. Even in 2015, women still struggle to make their way in male dominated fields like physics, astronomy, computer science, mathematics, etc.

I experienced discrimination based on my gender when I was a computer science student. I’ve been told I’m not a “real geek” because I’m a girl. Although I’m no Yvonne Brill — the inspiration for this book, whose accomplishments as a rocket scientist were overshadowed by her domestic abilities by the New York Times — I understood the struggle every woman mentioned in this book went through. And I’m ashamed to say I’d heard of maybe 4 out of the 52.

HEADSTRONG is separated into 7 sections: medicine, biology and the environment, genetics and development, physics, earth and stars, math and technology, and invention. To be included in the book, the author picked “only scientists whose life’s work has already been completed (xiii).” Due to that, the author admits the book is not very diverse, as opportunities opened up first for white women. She also didn’t include Marie Curie, because if you think of a woman scientist, that’s likely the one you picture. But did you know Marie Curie’s daughter, Irène Joliot-Curie, also won a Nobel Prize?

The profiles are relatively short, 3-5 pages, and focus on the woman’s contributions to her field. I read one or two sections a night and felt like I learned a ton about women in science. For example, I never knew a woman invented Kevlar, or wrinkle free cotton, or the Apgar score. The profiles are easy enough to understand for young girls, and interesting enough to hold the attention of older readers.

What will you learn?

Socialize with the author:

Rachel Swaby:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Life Unaware by Cole Gibsen

Book Review: Life Unaware by Cole GibsenLife Unaware Published by Entangled Teen on April 28, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
4 Stars
Regan Flay has been talking about you.

Regan Flay is on the cusp of achieving her control-freak mother's "plan" for high school success―cheerleading, student council, the Honor Society—until her life gets turned horribly, horribly upside down. Every bitchy text. Every bitchy email. Every lie, manipulation, and insult she's ever said have been printed out and taped to all the lockers in school.

Now Regan has gone from popular princess to total pariah.

The only person who even speaks to her is her former best friend's hot but socially miscreant brother, Nolan Letner. Nolan thinks he knows what Regan's going through, but what nobody knows is that Regan isn't really Little Miss Perfect. In fact, she's barely holding it together under her mom's pressure. But the consequences of Regan's fall from grace are only just beginning. Once the chain reaction starts, no one will remain untouched...

Especially Regan Flay.

Book Review:

In my opinion, LIFE UNAWARE is one of Entangled Teen’s best books to date.

When Regan Flay’s nasty texts, emails, and IMs are plastered all over the school, the popular girl plummets to the bottom of the social hierarchy. Regan even faces some of the bullying she’s dished out, insulted and ignored by her friends. At first, Regan tries to face the crisis like her congresswoman mother would, but does she really want to do that? Does she want to act like her mother, who has a suffocating plan for Regan’s success? Or does she want to be herself?

LIFE UNAWARE is a perfect title for this book. Until she’s on the other side, Regan isn’t aware of how her mean comments and actions impact others. And even though she has an anxiety disorder and an overbearing mother, Regan acknowledges there’s no excuse for being a bully. In her own words, “I was just… being an asshole (p. 86).” With the help of Nolan, her former best friend’s brother and fellow outcast, Regan starts to turn her mind around and realize high school is hard enough — she doesn’t need to add to the horribleness.

I do think Regan’s turnaround was a little fast — it happened in about a week. But I really like the message in LIFE UNAWARE, that instead of bullying each other, we should stand up for each other. Say nice things instead of nasty insults. The way Regan realizes this is quite surprising. I won’t spoil it, but I like that whole aspect of the book.

Socialize with the author:

Cole Gibsen:
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– leeanna