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Books Read -- February 2013

Cover of Snow, by Jenny Milchman. Mystery, Adult. 2 stars.
• **The Daylight War (Demon Cycle, Book Three), by Peter Brown. Fantasy, Adult. 4 stars. Read ARC.
• **Surfacing, by Nora Raleigh Baskin. Fiction, YA. 2 stars. Read ARC.
• **The Loop, by Shandy Lawson. Paranormal, YA. 3 stars.
Fables (Vol. 2-3), by Bill Willingham. Graphic Novel, Adult. 3 stars.
• The Likeness, by Tana French. Mystery, Adult. 5s stars.
Fuse (Pure Book Two), by Julianna Baggott. Dystopia, Adult. Read eARC from Netgalley. 4 stars.
• **The Different Girl, by Gordon Dahlquist. Fiction, YA. 4 stars.
• **Goddess (Starcrossed Book Three), by Josephine Angelini. Paranormal, YA. 2 stars.
• **Unbroken, by Anne Schraff. Fiction, YA. 2 stars.
• **Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, by Meg Medina. Fiction, YA. 4 stars.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple. Fiction, Adult. 3 stars.
Princesses of Iowa, by M. Molly Backes. Fiction, YA. 3 stars.

Best book I read this month: I am falling in love with Tana French. That is all.

Worst book I read this month: Unbroken, by Anne Schraff. I’ve read a decent number of hi-lo books for teens and this one has unrealistic characters and contrived plotting.

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Paper Valentine, by Brenna Yovanoff

12109772My YA paranormal lit philosophy: Vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, and angels may come and go, but ghosts never get old (ba dum bum!).

And serial killers? When you think about it, serial killers and ghosts are a natural pairing. Serial killers make ghosts. Those ghosts need revenge, so they have to find some poor sensitive medium to push around and complete their business. That person becomes an ad hoc detective in order to solve those murders. It’s a premise with endless permutations, and I never get tired of it.

Here the ad hoc detective is Hannah, a teen haunted by the ghost of her best friend Lillian (who interestingly died not from being serial killed, but from an eating disorder gone noticed but unremarked upon). But when other girls start getting murdered – their bodies decorated with a flea-market’s-worth of tchotchkes and a valentine – Hannah has more than one ghost pushing her around. The police suspect the town bad boy, Finny Boone, but after Hannah is on the receiving end of his quiet kindness, she learns that Finny, like Lillian, like herself, has hidden depths. But is he still a killer?

Minor spoilers ahead:

I admire Yovanoff's ability to create a creepy, unsettling mood. She excels at integrating a subtle paranormal element with the everyday. Her settings are distinctive, somewhat otherworldly, and essential to the story. I liked how she ties together the suffocating heat striking Ludlow with the suffocation of suburban small town life, where everybody knows you but doesn't really know you. (She did that same sort of thing with the small town in The Replacement, too.) The birds dropping out of the sky add another layer of seemingly paranormal foreboding.

The friendship between Hannah and ghost Lillian emphasize the difference between reality and perception, too, without hammering it home too much. In its own way, Lillian's presence is also smothering for Hannah, because it keeps her from moving on. Their relationship is complex, particularly because Hannah’s memory of Lillian when she was alive conflict with how Lillian is now that she’s dead. Lillian, as a ghost, is unable to change. She’s stuck in the super-skeletal body she had when she died, and she’s a collection of her most negative, judgmental qualities. She’s also able to speak the truth about her anorexia in a way that she never could while alive, and Yovanoff sensitively portrays her anorexia and Hannah’s grief and guilt over Lillians’s death without allowing it to take over and make this a didactic Problem Novel.

“The idea that a person can be defined by anything so superficial is terrible. Like this is the one true heart of her, reduced to a bony apparition in her pajamas….The simple version isn’t even recognizable when you hold it up against a living, breathing human being. Her ghost will always be so much less of her than the girl I used to see every day.”


Their comfortable but creepy friendship (and its stagnation) anchor the rest of the relationships in the story because those relationships can change.

I liked that Yovanoff didn't offer an explanation for Hannah's ghost-seeing abilities. If it hadn't been for the other ghost stuff, I would have chalked Lillian up to a metaphor for having your worst self follow you around and remind you of your failures. Finny, as the romantic lead/potential killer, makes a nice contrast with everything that Lillian represents. He's a sign that Hannah has started to develop as her own person, out of Lillian's shadow, and that she's started seeing beyond the surface of people. The two of them bond over being misunderstood, pigeonholed; over not being allowed to be more than other people expect them to be. Hannah has several realistic moments where she realizes that who you are and who you pretend to be aren’t the same, and that pretending to be cool, disdainful, and untouchable can do a lot of harm.

“Because the fact is, the contest has always been invulnerability, and even when you win, you still lose.”


It’s also far, far better than the romances in Yovanoff’s other two books, neither of which developed slowly or organically enough to feel believable for me. This one is steamy and sweet.

The serial killer storyline worked for me, obviously, aside from the tell-all ending. Yovanoff’s endings always happen too fast and don't feel developed enough. – I’ve felt that with her last two books, too. It’s never good when the killer spends pages monologuing about his plans, though I do appreciate a good villain speech. Hannah's investigation and weird obsession with the dead girls are suspenseful (I loved the scene where she makes the Ouija board on her floor), though I think Yovanoff is better at evoking dread than paying off on it. For example: the dead birds are a great mood piece but didn't go anywhere and ultimately distracted me from the story because I kept expecting it to have a more sinister explanation. But there were enough red herrings to keep me guessing, and when all is finally revealed, it makes sense.

I think Paper Valentine is Yovanoff's strongest book to date. Some of that might be due to my personal interests. Again, serial killers, ghosts, etc. But I also think her writing and her storytelling structure have improved with each book. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

You Should Read This: If you like Yovanoff’s other two books. If you like cross-genre standalone titles. If you like slasher stories on Valentine's Day. If Ouija boards creep you out. If you like that Sixth Sense, "I see dead people" vibe. If you like strong sibling relationships (Hannah's relationship with her sister is one of the better sibling relationships I've seen).

Also Read: Other, by Karen Kincy. Anya’s Ghost, by Vera Brogosal. The Name of the Star, by Maureen Johnson.

Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

Books Read -- January 2013

Level Up, by Gene Yang. Graphic Novel, YA. 4 stars.
RASL (Vol. 1-3), by Jeff Smith. Graphic Novel, YA. 4 stars.
• **Hideout, by Gordon Korman. Fiction, Juv. 3 stars. Read ARC.
• **Delusion, by Lauren L. Sullivan. Paranormal, Historical, YA. 3 stars.
• The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer Book Two), by Michelle Hodkin. Paranormal, YA. 3 stars.
The Holy or The Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of ‘Halleluiah’, by Alan Light. Nonfiction, Adult. 3 stars.
Paper Valentine, by Brenna Yovanoff. Paranormal, YA. Read eARC from Netgalley. 4 stars.
The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green. Fiction, YA. 4s stars.
World War Z, by Max Brooks. Horror, Adult. 3 stars.
• **London Falling, by Paul Cornell. Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Adult. 3 stars.

Best book I read this month: I thought Paper Valentine was Brenna Yovanoff’s best book to date, and it beat out the also great but over-praised The Fault in Our Stars. But then, I will almost always pick reading about ghosts and serial killers over kids with cancer.

Worst book I read this month: None of these books were bad. My worst book is obviously the DNF listed below.

Didn’t finish: Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James. ‘Nough said. For God’s sake, she says “Argh!” when she orgasms.

**Booklist reviews

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Books Read -- December 2012

  • Quicksilver (sequel to Ultraviolet), by R.J. Anderson. Science Fiction, YA. 5 stars.
  • Passenger (sequel to The Marbury Lens), by Andrew Smith. Horror, Fantasy, YA. 4 stars.
  • **Hysteria, by Megan Miranda. Paranormal, YA. 3 stars. Read ARC.
  • Transmetropolitan, Vol. 9, Vol.10, by Warren Ellis. Graphic Novel, Adult. 3 stars, 4 stars.
  • The Darkest Minds, by Alexndra Bracken. Paranormal, YA. Read eARC from Netgalley. 4 stars.
  • **The Look, by Sophie Bennett. Contemporary, YA. 3 stars.
  • The Madness Underneath (Shades of London, Book One), by Maureen Johnson. Paranormal, YA. Read eARC from Netgalley. 4 stars.
  • Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer, Vol. 1, Vol. 2., by Van Jensen. Graphic Novel, Adult. 3 stars.
  • Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloane. Fiction, Fantasy, Adult. 4 stars.
  • In the Woods, by Tana French. Mystery, Adult. 4 stars.
  • Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness, by John Layman. Graphic Novel, Adult. 2 stars.
  • How I Made it to Eighteen: A Mostly True Story, by Tracy White. Graphic Novel, YA. 3 stars.
  • Death, Jr, Vol. 1, Vol. 2, by Gary Whitta. Horror, Graphic Novel, YA. 4 stars.


Best book I read this month: I really loved Quicksilver (not as much as Ultraviolet, though), but my favorite this month was Tana French's first novel, In the Woods. I finally started to read her books after getting some recommendations and looking for something like Gone Girl, a twisted well-written adult mystery.

Worst book I read this month: Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness was just kind of stupid, even though it should have been the crossover of my dreams.

Currently reading: The Likeness, by Tana French (and about ten other books).

**Booklist reviews

Tags:

madnessunderneathActual rating: 3.5 stars

Cover Story: Water Damage
This blurry cover makes me want to blink my eyes and bring it into focus. I think it is supposed to look ghostly, but instead it looks like it’s been dropped in a puddle and melted.

First Line: “Back at Wexford, where I went to school before all of this happened to me, they made me play hockey every day.” (I chose this first line from the first chapter after the prologue, because the prologue is one of those bait-and-switch deals that exist for no other reason than to set up a scene later in the novel in which the main characters discover something you already know isn’t that important.)

The Deal: Rory is suffering from mild PTSD after defeating the copycat ghost of Jack the Ripper in the first book. In between bullshitting her therapist and reassuring her parents, Rory is doing her best to adjust to a life where she can not only see ghosts, but explode them with her touch. But she misses Wexford, the boarding school where it all happened, and she misses the Shades, the secret ghost-busting police unit, so when offered, she jumps at the chance to return to both. Reintegrating into her former life isn’t at all easy, though: there’s another string of ghost-related deaths to obsess over, and she’s about to be kicked out of Wexford for failing grades. What’s a human terminus to do?

Style & Substance: The premise of the first book, Shades of London, hinged on the concept of the Jack the Ripper killings happening in the present day. That’s why I picked it up in the first place. This middle book doesn’t have anything so novel or high profile. It sets up new cult-ish villains that will clearly return in the third book but doesn’t connect with the major storyline in the first, aside from the ghost-busting angle. It feels like the first book could have been a stand-alone if the ending had been a little more tied-up, while this second book is actually starting up the series with a recurring villain and story arc. Maybe what I’m trying to say is that this series is turning out more procedural than I thought it would be, rather than one seamless story told over three books.

Plot-wise, this book doesn’t do much. It sets up the new Big Bad (the aforementioned cult) and teases the upcoming conflict, and then ends with a giant cliffhanger. (This caused me to write, “Dumb cliffhangers, I hate you” in my notes.) The story barely started before it was over. I thought the main villain was way too obvious, so the reveal lacked impact and made me doubt Rory’s intelligence. Also, the way the terminus works (the ghost-busting device that Rory can now do without) is still unclear; the general mythology of ghosts and secret police in contemporary London isn’t clearly developed. It’s just there on the surface to tell a cool story.

Character-wise, however, this book is as fantastic as the first one. Rory’s voice – her easy-breezy talky narrative, her crazy Southern tall tales, her odd humor – is what keeps me most interested in this series. Her personal problems make up the bulk of this story: her need to talk about what happened but unable to find someone to trust; her dawning sense of failure over her studies at Wexford; her confusion over dating a guy she’s attracted to but doesn’t really feel connected to; her struggles to accept her new power, etc. Like the first one, there are some really funny bits in here, too. Again, though, while Johnson does a great job developing Rory, the other characters don’t get much to do, even Stephen, who spends most of his time shepherding Rory around and arguing with her about safety and responsibility.

You Should Read This: If you liked Shades of London, the first one (duh). If you like ghost-busting goodness. If you like secret supernatural police units. If you like boarding school stories. If you like funny characters.

Also Read: Clarity and Perception, by Kim Harrington, for paranormal teen sleuthiness. Heist Society, by Ally Carter, and Bad Kitty, by Michelle Jaffe (neither of these are paranormal but the humorous narrative and mystery focus is similar). Midnight Riot and the other Rivers of London books by Ben Aaronovitch, for its Britishy paranormal police procedural.

Also Watch: No idea. Medium? Ghostbusters?

Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read the eARC.
darkestmindsActual rating: 3.5 stars

Cover Story: Mysterious insignia is mysterious.

YA book covers. It’s either a freakish close-up of a blandly pretty face, a wispy girl in an inappropriate dress, or a cryptic abstract symbol. If I had to pick one, I’d pick the latter, because at least it doesn’t turn me off like a big face does. (A big face screams, “I can’t read this in public!”) This one has stand-out colors and repeated mentions of the symbol in the text, so I’m OK with it.

First Line: “When the White Noise went off, we were in the Garden, pulling weeds.”

The Deal: Ruby grows up in a world where turning ten years old is not a cause for celebration, but despair. More than half of her class has died, and it isn’t just a local phenomenon: the plague has struck the entire US. Instead of dying, Ruby is one of the few who develop special powers. The government has helpfully come up with a classification system (as they do) and assigned the survivors colors based on their powers. They also helpfully round up all the super-charged preteens and put them into “rehabilitation” camps, but it turns out that putting all the super-charged preteens together isn’t a crackerjack idea, so the government disappears all of the kids with the most dangerous powers. Ruby has been in Thurmond, the most notorious camp of all, for six years, having convinced everyone that she’s a harmless Green (extra smart code-breakers). With the help of a mysterious group called the Children’s League, she breaks out of Thurmond, but their plans for her aren’t any more innocent. She ends up with a small group of teens searching for a promised safe haven, but the closer she grows to them, the more she worries they’ll discover her big secret: she’s actually an Orange (mind control) who fears her powers ever since she accidentally erased herself from her best friend’s memory.

Awesome Things: Color-coded superpowers. Use of the word “psi’. Government conspiracies. Anti-government conspiracies. Memory altering (“When do I get my own flashy-thing memory-messer-upper?”). Terrible things happening to parents. (Seriously, the scene where Ruby remembers what happened to her parents? Gut wrenching). Watership Down. Road trips. Black Betty. Living in an abandoned warehouse store and raiding it for pink girly clothes. Idyllic safe havens that come with a sneaky Price. The name Clancy.

Read more...Collapse )

You Should Read This: If you liked X-Men: First Class because it focused more on the mutants as young adults. If you’re looking for another solid teen dystopia. If you’re willing to buy sudden, unexplainable plagues targeted at highly specific age groups. If you’ve ever color-coded anything. If you like thinking about whether it would be better to hang on to bad memories or erase them.

Also Read: Other teen dystopias involving diseases, such as Legend, Wither, Delirium, The Eleventh Plague. Other teen dystopias involving dangerous paranormal powers, like Shatter Me (if you can stand it). Bracken’s other book, Brightly Woven, to marvel over how different it is.

Also Watch: X-Men: First Class. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Push. Chronicle. (OK, I haven’t seen those last two, but you have to admit they fit, right?)

I reserve the right to add to this when I think of more stuff. Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read the eARC.
speakingfromNear the end of Speaking From Among the Bones, Inspector Hewitt visits Flavia in the Buckshaw drawing room after she’s nosy-parkered her way, again, into solving the latest murder:

“Right, then,” Inspector Hewitt was saying. “Let’s have it.”

I couldn’t help thinking how much progress he had made since we had first met nine months ago, upon which occasion he had sent me to fetch the tea.

There was hope for the man yet.

What follows is my favorite part of the book, where Flavia gleefully does the wrap-up in her “humble, jolly-girl-well-met kind of voice” (that does not fool anyone in the slightest), while the exasperated but fond Inspector takes notes and tries to delicately balance himself between being supportive of her intellect and disapproving of her wild lack of self-preservation.

Something about their relationship breaks my heart (on Flavia’s end at least). I find myself reading between the lines every time they are together, hunting for Inspector Hewitt’s true thoughts, suffusing his character with emotional nuances that Flavia fails to pick up but that I’m sure are there. Flavia needs a hero in her life, someone to look up to, who will indulge her but also impose limits – how much is Inspector Hewitt investing in being that person? Because we only see him from her point of view, and because she finds him so inscrutable, I’m not sure we’ll ever know – but watching them develop as a pair is one of the best parts of this series. And this stuff is even better with the addition of his wife Antigone, who seems to recognize Flavia’s lonely little-girl-crush for what it is and is so, so kind about it.

The man is fighting a losing battle, of course. Even when he goes out on a limb and explicitly tells her not to put herself in danger, she isn’t hearing it. After he tells her to remember there are dangerous killers on the loose, she practically swoons with excitement:

My heart accelerated.

Dangerous killers on the loose! The words to which every amateur sleuth lives in eternal hope of hearing. Ever since I first heard them spoken on the wireless by Philip Odell in “The Case of the Missing Marbles,” I had longed for someone to say them to me. And now they had. “Dangerous killers on the loose!” I wanted to shake the Inspector’s hand….

My cup of crime runneth over, I thought.


Where would we be if the amateur detectives of the world decided things were getting to dangerous and they’d better stay in for the night?

Flavia is under an inordinate amount of stress in this installment. Her sister is getting married, marking her passage out of Flavia’s life as far as she’s concerned, and Flavia is just starting to realize she doesn’t want her to go. Her family’s money troubles have come to a head and Buckshaw is actually For Sale. Another huge part of her life she is on the verge of losing (including her laboratory!). Her father seems even more like a ghost, like a defeated man. All of this probably accounts for the more melancholy tone in this novel; even though Flavia’s humorous narrative is still whip-smart and the characters are all crazy-quirky, Flavia’s worries are starting to eclipse her optimism and disrupt the natural order of things.

Naturally, the murder she has to solve provides her distraction – during the opening of Saint Tancred’s tomb on the 500-year anniversary of his death, to which Flavia has inserted herself without permission, she discovers not an uncorrupted saint’s body but a murdered church organist-- but even though it makes up the bulk of the story, it’s not THE story. (And to be honest, I found it a little hard to follow, what with the inclusion of a mysterious holy artifact, two other amateur detectives Flavia must contend with, Flavia’s side obsession with testing everybody’s blood, and a whole host of new-ish Bishop’s Lacey characters whose tangled histories intersect way too much with the case. I really needed that wrap-up at the end.) THE story, for me at least, is Flavia’s search to belong somewhere, even in her own family, her own village. And her then insistence that she be recognized and given credit for it.

As bad as things get, she is still irrepressible in her demand for attention. After her wrap-up, when everybody gets up and Inspector Hewitt casually and somewhat dismissively thanks her for her time, she wonders:

“Where are the trumpets?”

And that is the best thing about her.

*Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this eARC*

Books Read: November 2012

Easing back into it. Reviews of Speaking from Among the Bones, by Alan Bradley, and Quicksilver, by R.J. Anderson (which I am currently reading) are forthcoming, since I got the eARCs from Netgalley. Any other review requests?

  • The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, by Cat Valente, illus by Ana Juan. Fantasy, Juvenile. 5 stars.
  • Bad Glass, by Richard E. Gropp. Horror, Adult. 3 stars.
  • The Ruins, by Scott Smith. Horror, Adult. 3 stars.
  • **Shards & Ashes, edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong. Dystopia, Short Stories, YA. Read ARC. 3 stars.
  • **Mind Games (Mind Games, Book One), by Kiersten White. Paranormal, YA. Read ARC. 4 stars.
  • Unspoken (Lynburn Legacies, Book One), by Sarah Rees Brennan. Paranormal, YA. 4 stars.
  • Saga (Volume One), by Brian K. Vaughan, illus by Fiona Staples. Science Fiction, Graphic Novel, Adult. 5 stars.
  • Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum series), by Janet Evanovich. Mystery, Adult. 2 stars.
  • Whispers Under Ground (Peter Grant, Book Three), by Ben Aaronvitch. Urban Fantasy, Adult. 4 stars.
  • **The Obsidian Mirror, by Catherine Fisher. Science Fiction, Fantasy, YA. Read ARC. 3.5 stars.
  • Speaking from Among the Bones (Flavia de Luce, Book Five), by Alan Bradley. Mystery, Historical, Adult. Read eARC from Netgalley. 4 stars.
  • **Toothiana: Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies (Guardians, Book Three), by William Joyce. Fantasy, Juvenile. 2 stars.
  • Locke & Key (Volume Five): Clockworks, by Joe Hill, illus. by Gabriel Rodriguez. Horror, Graphic Novel, Adult. 5 stars.

Best book I read this month: I read a lot of great stuff and a lot of disappointing stuff this month. In terms of pure enjoyment, the breathless, stay-up-all-night reading, kind of enjoyment, it's a toss-up between Unspoken and Mind Games.

Worst book I read this month: Notorious Nineteen. I just can't quit these characters. My wistful nostalgia for when this series used to be good keeps me turning the pages, even as I'm just shy of hate-reading at this point. I'll reevaluate at twenty, since that's a nice round number to go out on.

Currently reading: Quicksilver (sequel to Ultraviolet), by R.J. Anderson.

**Booklist reviews

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Books Read: January and February 2012

Eventually, I intend to write up brief summaries and link to my Goodreads reviews, but here's the list for the books I've read in January and February.

1. Clockwork Prince (Infernal Devices, Book Two), by Cassandra Clare. YA/Paranormal/Romance. 4 stars.

**2. Zero Hour (HIVE, Book Six), by Mark Walden. Juv/SF/Action. 3 stars. Read ARC.

**3. The Princess of Trelian (Trelian, Book Two), by Michelle Knudson. Juv/Fantasy. 3.5 stars. Read ARC.

**4. Albrek’s Tomb (Adventurer’s Wanted, Book Three), by M.L. Forman. Juv/Fantasy. 2 stars. Read ARC.

5. The Reapers are the Angels, by Aiden Bell. Horror/Literary/Zombies. 5 stars.

6. "The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland – For a Little While", by Cat Valente. Fantasy/Novella. 4 stars. Read online.

**7. Dangerously Placed, by Nansi Kunze. YA/Mystery/SF. 3 stars.

8. Angelfall, by Susan Ee. YA/Paranormal/Romance/Dystopia. 4 stars. Read e-book.

9. The Restless Dead, edited by Deborah Noyes. YA/Horror/Short stories. 3 stars.

10. Deadline (Newsflesh, Book Two), by Mira Grant. Horror/Zombies. 4 stars. Read e-book.

11. Froi of the Exiles (Lumatere Chronicles, Book Two), by Melina Marchetta. YA/Fantasy. 5 stars. Read ARC.

**12. The (Not Quite) Perfect Boyfriend, by Lili Wilkinson. YA/Contemporary/Romance. 3 stars.

**13. Fairy Lies (sequel to Fairy Wings), by E.D. Baker. Juv/Fantasy. 2 stars. Read ARC.

14. You Shall Never Know Security, by J.R. Hamantaschen. Horror/Short stories. 3.5 stars.

15. The Obsidian Blade, by Pete Hautman. YA/SF. 3 stars. Read ARC.

**16. The Springsweet (The Vespertine, Book Two), by Saundra Mitchell. YA/Historical/Paranormal/Romance. 3 stars. Read ARC.

17. Steam-Powered 2: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories, edited by JoSelle Vanderhooft. Steampunk/Short stories/GLBTQ. 3 stars. Read e-book.

18. Black Heart (Curse Workers, Book Three), by Holly Black. YA/Paranormal. 4 stars. Read ARC.

**19. Peaceweaver (companion to The Coming of the Dragon), by Rebecca Barnhouse. YA/Historical/Fantasy. 3.5 stars. Read ARC.

20. Zombie Mommy (Pals in Peril, Book Five), by M.T. Anderson. Juv/Mystery/Humor. 4 stars.

**Booklist reviews

Didn’t finish: Allegiance (Legacy, Book Two), by Cayla Kluver. YA/Fantasy.

Best book I read: Froi of the Exiles, hands down. I didn't think it possible, but it is even more complex, heart-wrenching, intelligent, and emotional than Finnikan of the Rock. It is much darker and a little harder to follow but seriously amazing, and probably one of the best books I'll have read this year.

Worst book I read: see the "didn't finish" title above.

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What a Suitcase of Books Looks Like



What you need to understand is that there are 21 ARCs in here, and my clothes were in a thin layer on the top. I thought about throwing them away (the clothes) but I could still zip the suitcase shut, so they were saved. Thank God, I had a couple favorite shirts in there. (Meanwhile, a side pocket on top had three hardcover books and two notebooks inside, but again, it all zipped shut, so.)

After I took this photo, I moved all the books to the floor upstairs next to one of the bookcases, which looks super classy. The ones with the astericks are the ones I really, really want to read NOW, except that I have four review books to finish first. But then!

Fever (The Chemical Garden Book Two), by Lauren DeStefano
**Zombie, by J.R. Angelella
Irises, by Francisco X. Stork
172 Hours on the Moon, by Johan Harstad
The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict, by Trenton Lee Stewart
**Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman
Fracture, by Megan Miranda
The Night Wanderer, by Drew Haydon Taylor
**Bitterblue, by Kristin Cashore
Deadly Pink, by Vivian Vande Velde
Infinity (Numbers, Book Three), by Rachel Ward
**There is No Dog, by Meg Rosoff
**Black Heart (Curse Workers, Book Three), by Holly Black
The Deserter, by Peadar O'Guilin
Losers in Space, by John Barnes
Wonder Show, by Hannah Barnaby
Erebos, by Ursula Poznanski
The Invisible Ones, by Stef Penney
Alif the Unseen, by G. Willow Wilson
Curveball, by Jordan Sonnenblick
The List, by Siobhan Vivian

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