Book Review: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

I went into this book thinking I wouldn’t like it, but I was SO WRONG. This book is a new favorite, surprising me with its complexity.

4.5/5 stars

cover the summer of chasing mermaids

Amazon Description

The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.

Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: an ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.

Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother, Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life.

When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them…

My Review

The strength of this book came largely from the protagonist, Elyse. I fell in love with her from the first page, and I never stopped feeling for her or wanting to help her heal. I was fascinated by her inability to talk and its effect on the story. A character who literally cannot speak presented a powerful and unique lens to view a story through. My heart broke every time Elyse had some long explanation to say, but kept it inside because she could not convey her lengthy thoughts. I spent a large portion of this book on the brink of tears (though I never actually cried), and most of the times I teared up, it was because of how deeply I empathized with Elyse.

It was not just Elyse’s voicelessness that made her endearing, however. I liked and understood her personality. Her shyness was familiar to me, and the strong sense of loss that dominated her (after she left her homeland to spend the summer in the US) was heart-wrenching without being annoyingly broody or overpowering. I liked that Elyse was an ethnic protagonist (I cannot remember the last time I read a contemporary book that didn’t have a white lead), and the elements of her culture that Elyse brought with her improved and deepened the story.

I loved the motif of Elyse’s poetry that Ockler wove throughout the story. It was a simple way to prove that Elyse did have a clear voice and that she wanted to use it. (On a side note, I loved the hand writing fonts they used to convey her poetry.) The image of Elyse spilling her heart out onto the walls of the abandoned boat she found was beautiful and sad–and provided one of the best Cute Meet scenes ever.

My biggest concern about The Summer of Chasing Mermaids before I read it was the PTSD/damage that Elyse’s character faced. As a rule, stories dominated by mentally wonky characters don’t work for me, and I was afraid that Elyse’s PTSD would dominate the story. It didn’t. Elyse was just damaged enough for it to be realistic, but she still had a personality separate from her trauma. The healing process Elyse underwent over the course of the book was simple and subtle, but complete enough to be inspiring–without ever feeling cheesy, preachy, or sudden. There was no miracle cure, and she never really looked for one, but by the last page of the book, Elyse had clearly grown past the accident that robbed her of her “destiny.”

The main plot of the book surrounds Christian and Elyse fixing his boat in the hopes of winning the regatta–and a bet Christian’s father made that impacts the future of the entire city. (I’m purposefully being vague, guys.) The “boat plot” did a fantastic job of creating a skeleton to carry the rest of the subplots, and gave the book a clear rise toward the climax that left me unable to put the book down (literally–I read this book in essentially one sitting).

The romance between Christian and Elyse was gorgeous and sweet. I love them as a couple. Their transition from strangers to friends to significant others was paced well and felt realistic. Christian was a likable love interest who clearly had his own character; he was not just a hot body for Elyse to fall for. He had depth that many YA males lack–which presented a problem. He was introduced as a playboy who only had flings and never cared about the girls he slept with–but I never bought it. From the early scenes with him, it was clear that Christian was a good, complex guy, who would be good for Elyse. Of course, I was glad that the love interest wasn’t a jerk, but it was unnecessary for Ockler to try to pass him off as the bad boy if none of his actions would ever reflect it.

The other characters added necessary components to the story, but tended to come off flat. One part of the book that suffered because of this was the concept of Elyse’s five sisters. The reader never “met” any of them directly, and Elyse’s twin only appeared in the story for flashbacks and short scenes. I ended up not caring about her sisters, even though that was supposed to be a large portion of Elyse’s character and childhood.

The friends did a good job being friendly to Elyse, but I never felt like I met them. They were just shell of characters who existed to create a friend group and help Elyse heal. Their flatness did not kill the book, but I would have appreciated some suggestions of depth from them.

I hated most of the parents in this book, which was the point. All of the parental figures were believable–and that was what made me so angry. Most of them were horrible, greedy people who used their children as bargaining chips. The discussion of parental control of teenagers’ lives was relatable to the extreme, and I appreciated that Ockler created characters that I know exist in the world today (and that I wish my friends didn’t have to deal with). The juxtaposition of the sons’ friendship and the fathers’ rivalry created emotional conflicts that helped to ensure that The Summer of Chasing Mermaids was more than just a romance.

I was surprised by the social commentary this book. The discussion of gender roles (which tied in gorgeously to the title) was honest and simple, but it made this book memorable. The gender identity subplot tied in with the other plot lines, ensuring that it didn’t feel superfluous or disconnected. It was part of the story, and it got the point across successfully without monopolizing the entire plot.

Connecting to the title, the mermaid motif was a subtle but charming part of the plot. I liked how it connected subplots and added whimsy to the story. I can’t say I was a fan of the moments when the mermaid motif became almost paranormal, but that was because of personal issues with magical elements cropping up in contemporary stories, not because the scenes hurt the book–they didn’t. I will say that the melodramatic prologue was absolutely unnecessary and only served to confuse me. If you’re thinking about picking this book up, just skip the first few pages. The plot circles back around to them anyway, so you aren’t (in my opinion, but feel free to challenge me in the comment section) missing anything.

I would recommend this book to people who are skeptical of YA Chicklit. My sister (who has famously given up on contemporary YA) read this book and really enjoyed it, possibly more than me. The depth and power of this book put it in its own league, far above the simple romance-driven plots normally found in this genre. 

The Blogger Recognition Award!

Thank you so much to Hidden Staircase for nominating me for this award (originally created by Eve at Edge of Night–thanks as well)! She blogs about mystery books and you guys should go check her site out! It is always such an honor to receive these awards from fellow bloggers! 🙂 Let’s get to it.

blog recog award

Here are the rules:

  • Select 15 other blogs you want to give the award to.

  • Write a post to show off your award! Give a brief story of how your blog got started, and give a piece or two of advice to new bloggers.

  • Thank whoever nominated you, and provide a link to their blog. Attach the award to the post. List who you’ve nominated in the post.

  • Comment on each blog and let them know you’ve nominated them. Provide a link to the award post you created.

  • Provide a link to the original post on Edge of Night. That way, anyone can find the original guidelines and post if needed, and we can keep it from mutating and becoming confusing!

My Story

I started this blog in April of 2014, when I was a freshman in high school. My sister had started a blog a few months earlier to showcase her sewing, and she had enjoyed it. (By the way, go check her blog out! She makes costumes and ready-to-wear clothing, and they are super cool.) I decided to jump on the bandwagon and try out a blog focusing on reading and writing.

I never “planned” on being a blogger. If you asked me at the beginning of freshman year if wanted to start a blog, it was so far off my radar that I wouldn’t have even known how to respond–it was never something I even thought about doing. That is, until the day I came up with a name for a blog and hopped on WordPress to create it. I’ve been blogging ever since.

Blogging is simultaneously a stress reliever and a stressor. I usually try to have three posts a week (though in a hectic week at school I might drop down to two). Writing blog posts is refreshingly different from schoolwork, so it gives my brain a break, but when I’m short on time, even giving myself a break it stresses me out. It ends up being a positive presence in my life on balance, however.

My Advice

Advice? Umm…I’m not sure I’m actually qualified for this, but here goes nothing:

  1. Have a personality. I’ve noticed that the posts of mine that get the most traffic and likes tend to be posts in which I let my inner sarcastic fangirl loose. Sometimes with book reviews or TTT posts, I find myself being boring–just getting the facts across–but it always helps to let your own voice spruce up your posts.
  2. Give yourself some “easy” posts. Especially if you plan to keep yourself to a goal of writing a a certain number of posts per week, having “easy” posts that you can write each week without too much work makes posting regularly simpler. I do the TTT meme every week, because I can write it in advance, it doesn’t take too long, and it lacks the pressure of other posts (such as book reviews which require, well, reading books).
  3. Don’t be afraid to be a part of the community. Blogging isn’t just about putting your own story out there, it’s about interacting with fellow bloggers. The book blogging community (and other blogging niches, I would assumed) is supportive and friendly, so don’t be afraid to comment on other people’s posts or reach out to other bloggers. In my experience, there isn’t a VIP room for bloggers–we’re all in this together, no matter how long you’ve been blogging.
  4. Make sure you’re having fun. Sometimes, blogging just won’t fit into my schedule for the week. If I find myself overwhelmed even taking the time to look at my blog’s dashboard, I know that I should back away from blogging for the week. Blogging is a great outlet and stress reliever, but only if you make sure that it stays a hobby instead of a tedious obligation.

My Nominations

Check out these amazing and wonderful blogs!

(If you already received this award, I’m sorry, and you are under no obligation to do it again.)

Book Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Breaking news: I picked up a “classic” willingly–and I really enjoyed it! Though it was clearly written around the turn of the twentieth century, The Picture of Dorian Gray’s gothic and haunting plot has a timeless quality that ended up appealing to my very modern tastes.

4/5 stars

Arkham cover D final
I’m in love with this cover, by the way

Amazon Description

In this celebrated work, his only novel, Wilde forged a devastating portrait of the effects of evil and debauchery on a young aesthete in late-19th-century England. Combining elements of the Gothic horror novel and decadent French fiction, the book centers on a striking premise: As Dorian Gray sinks into a life of crime and gross sensuality, his body retains perfect youth and vigor while his recently painted portrait grows day by day into a hideous record of evil, which he must keep hidden from the world. For over a century, this mesmerizing tale of horror and suspense has enjoyed wide popularity. It ranks as one of Wilde’s most important creations and among the classic achievements of its kind.

My Review

I was sucked in by the premise of this book: a guy gets a picture painted of him, and the portrait ages instead of him. Meanwhile, English society ignores his sinful nature because of his ridiculous good looks and ageless quality. I was ready to read it but hesitant of it being a “classic,” but my mom said she thought I would enjoy it anyway, so I picked it up.

I’m glad I decided to read it.

The characters in this book are fascinating. It is hard to say who exactly is the main character, because in the beginning, most of the narration is from the viewpoint of Lord Henry, the proverbial devil on young Dorian Gray’s shoulder. I loved and hated Lord Henry simultaneously. His dialogue was quick-paced and rhythmic, but I’m fairly certain that everything he ever said contradicted itself.

Had I read this book for school, I would have hated how little sense Henry’s grand declarations about art and human nature made, because I would have been forced to try to make sense of his views. Reading this book outside of the school setting, I was able to simply let the ridiculous senselessness of his speeches wash over me, and I ended up loving his presence in the book. Technically, Lord Henry is a horrible person, but his jovial character and amusing speech pattern made me unable to hate him.

About a third of the way into the novel, the narration refocuses on the title character, Dorian Gray. Passionate to the point of melodrama, half charming angel and half sinister devil, I was fascinated by Dorian. He definitely did not start out evil, though just as assuredly, he ended up evil. By the end of the book, you are trapped inside the head of a madman, but he never fully loses the whimsical and flighty innocence that drew Lord Henry to him.

There are too many side characters to count, let alone keep track of. I read this book slowly, over the course of a few weeks (for no good reason, really), so I’m sure that I missed times when characters came back, thinking them to be new people altogether. I can’t say that this really matters, because the side characters mostly serve as symbols of proper English society; their importance comes from their ignorant obsession with Dorian and their own shallow moralities, rather than who they are as individuals.

The important side characters–Basil Howard, Sibyl Vane, James Vane, Alan Campbell–were portrayed simply but well, so that I understood who they were and what they each wanted from Dorian. None of them lingered in the story long enough to develop complex characters, but their flatness never hindered the book.

I loved the plot surrounding the portrait of Dorian. It’s significance came less from showing Dorian’s age–though it did keep him from aging in reality–but from showing his sin’s effects on his character. This gave the book a chilling and creepy tone, and by the end of the book, I was exactly as enthralled and horrified by the picture as Dorian himself.

From the standpoint of literary analysis (because I couldn’t turn off the AP English student in my mind while I read this), the picture was an annotater’s dream. It was a mirror acting as a conscience, but it was doomed to fail, because none of the ruin actually affected Dorian. Guilt about his sins clawed at him and obsessed him at times, but he kept barreling down his road of corruption, in part because the painting enabled him to do so while staying in society’s graces. I loved the paradoxical nature of the portrait’s effect on Dorian, and the plot that resulted was intriguing and surprisingly gripping.

My only complaint about this book comes from the pacing. Any scene with dialogue was readable, pulling me along faster and faster into the plot. Then, a chapter break would happen, and suddenly I would be stalled in the land of page-long paragraphs musing about random settings or events, laden with allusions that went over my head and bored me until the sentences ran together. Then the action of the chapter would draw me in, and I would commit to the story again, until the next chapter break slammed me into a wall of heavy imagery and mind-numbingly long sentences.

Seriously, just because you can use semicolons to connect half a dozen somewhat related sentences into one, doesn’t mean you should, Oscar Wilde.

Still, the writing in this book is gorgeous. There are so many amazingly quotable lines–I tried to pick a few to put into this review, but there were too many to choose from. The dialogue (especially if Lord Henry was involved) was my favorite part of the book, and the banter between characters was entertaining enough to challenge some of my modern favorites.

From a modern perspective, this book is an intriguing insight into the struggle of being gay in proper English society. Honestly, I’d be willing to bet that the three main characters (Henry, Dorian, and Basil) as well as a few side characters (I’m looking at you Alan Campbell) were gay, though in the story nothing remotely homosexual actually occurs between them (that the reader is shown). There is something equal parts sad and captivating about being inside these characters’ minds–where they are drawn to and fascinated by the other male characters–while simultaneously seeing their actions–which are all focused on marrying, loving, and having affairs with women.

Also from a modern perspective, there is some pretty serious sexism in this book. I was able to laugh at it–Lord Henry’s sexist remarks about women are ridiculous–but if sweeping declarations about the female temperament being weak and nonintellectual make you want to throw things across the room, this book might not be for you.

“She is very clever, too clever for a woman. She lacks the indefinable charm of weakness.”

Despite the social situations of this book being outdated, the story itself is similar to its title character: there is something timeless about this book. The characters’ complex moral struggles, the bantering and amusing dialogue, and the undeniably creepy tone appealed to me as a modern reader, and though I knew that this book was over a century old, I feel that it would fit right in to my bookshelves.

Geek Review: Doctor Who (Season 8)

I know I don’t usually stray from the reading/writing focus of this blog, but I just got back from San Diego Comic Con and I’m high on geekiness, so I thought I’d leave the beaten path and talk (fangirl) about the latest season of Doctor Who.

Yes, I am aware that this isn’t exactly recent news. The season finale aired in November of last year. But I decided to honor SDCC with a review of season 8 anyway.

Too much backstory, let’s get to the fangirling:

(all pictures are from BBC America)

The Fangirling (spoiler free for now)

Season eight started off shaky for me, but built and built into full Doctor Who awesomeness by the season finale. Peter Capaldi is undeniably a new doctor–in the beginning, I had trouble recognizing the iconic character in the new mannerisms and harsher personality. As the season progressed, and as Capaldi’s character developed, I fell in love with the twelfth doctor. I understood him, and I recognized him as the Doctor–battle-hardened, jealous, and insensitive around humans, but still the character I loved. By the season finale, Capaldi goes down as one of my favorite Doctors (though that is hardly fair, because I can’t say I have a non-favorite Doctor).

DW 1

The Doctor’s companion, still Clara (played by Jenna Coleman), finally developed a personality in this season. Honestly, Clara had been my least favorite companion, simply because in season seven, she felt flat and boring. Her character relied too much on being “impossible.” However, in this season, her chemistry and banter with Twelve exposed her stubborn and sometimes reckless personality, and I officially accepted her as a companion.

DW 7

In terms of the episodes and their plots, this season succeeds at avoiding the pitfalls of other recent Doctor Who seasons. The episodes’ plots are largely autonomous from each other (instead of all blurred together, as previous seasons had bored on becoming), but none of the episodes are too weird or random. The season has an overall dark and creepy mood, but each episode can stand on its own as a strong and intriguing story.

Here’s a quick (spoiler free) review for each episode.

  1. Deep Breath — This episode was rocky for me. It started off confusing, and I didn’t feel like I knew (or liked) the Twelfth Doctor. In the end, the plot of the episode was interesting and complex enough to remind me why I love this show.
  2. Into the Dalek — A unique and interesting premise that was executed fairly well. Parts of the episode were confusing, but the insight into the Dalek mind made this be an excellent addition to the series of Dalek-based DW episodes. DW 9
  3. Robot of Sherwood — Definitely one of the funniest episodes in the season, Robot of Sherwood exposed the egotistical side of Twelve while exploring the Robin Hood legend. I loved the legend vs reality struggle, but I found the “real” plot of the episode to be mediocre in terms of other DW episodes. DW 3
  4. Listen — An amazing premise which could have ended up with one of the coolest DW monsters ever, but didn’t. I liked the sentimental angle the episode went with instead, but I still felt cheated out of an incredible (and creepy) new monster. This episode posed a ton of questions, and really, it will only be validated if they are answered (and answered WELL) in a later season.
  5. Time Heist — I liked the characters in this episode. The heist itself was a fairly straight forward DW premise, with just enough surprise to keep me watching, but the characters the writers created ensured that the episode was unique. DW 8
  6. The Caretaker — This episode drew most of its plot not from the monsters, but from the triangle of awkward miscommunication between the Doctor, Clara, and Danny. This lead to it being pretty amusing, but the sci-fi portion of the show was a little lost.
  7. Kill the Moon — I loved this episode! The truth about the moon (can’t say more– spoilers *River Song voice*) was the perfect brand of DW crazy–it made just enough sense, and presented just the right moral conflicts for the characters to deal with. I’ll definitely rewatch this episode.
  8. Mummy on the Orient Express — The season was starting to pick up here, because this was another great episode. An intriguing premise that combined vintage and sci-fi and mummy legends. It showed a less flattering side of the Doctor and exposed the weaknesses in Clara and his relationship. And the fact that Twelve asked “Are you my mummy?” killed me. Fangirling forever. DW 4
  9. Flatline — The TARDIS SHRUNK. And we explored two dimensions. And Clara became interesting. YAY! DW 6
  10. In the Forest of the Night — I loved the idea of this episode (the world becomes a forest overnight) and the set design was great. The actual plot was fine, and we got to see more Danny-Clara-Doctor humor. DW 5
  11. (and 12) Dark Water and Death in Heaven (two part season finale) — LOVED THIS. Everything was perfect. They brought back so many great DW classics and combined it with a crazy and unique death/rebirth premise.

The Fangirling (with spoilers from now on)

Danny was a great addition to the season. His romance with Clara helped resolve lingering issues with Clara’s flirty relationship with Eleven (that clearly could not continue with Twelve’s new age). They made a cute couple, and their relationship helped put the craziness of Clara’s traveling with the Doctor in perspective.

DW 10

Danny’s conflicted relationship with the Doctor was definitely one of the best subplots of the season. His whole soldiers-vs-generals issue was fascinating because it put the Doctor in an unfavorable light that we had never specifically seen him in before–and Danny wasn’t really wrong.

And I am so happy that they brought the Master back. The subtle references to her plan that ran throughout the season added just enough suspense without dominating it. Having the Master be a woman was pretty great–the awkward flirty-evil chemistry she had with the Doctor was a fun extension of the relationship the male Master had with the Tenth Doctor. LOVE.

DW 11

My one issue with this season is simple: WHY DIDN’T HE GET A NEW SONIC SCREWDRIVER???

this is how I feel about the screwdriver being the same as 11's
this is how I feel about the screwdriver being the same as 11’s

Poetry: Tomorrow Me

Tomorrow Me is incredible

Tomorrow Me has written books

And planned out her future

And been kinder

And braver

Brave enough to say hello

And strong enough to

Finally say, “I’m sorry”

Tomorrow Me wears bright colors

And texts first

And laughs loudly in public

And shrugs off society’s

Judgmental gaze

Tomorrow Me turns good intentions

Into better actions

Tomorrow I will be incredible

Is what I tell myself

Every today

Book Haul #7: SDCC is the BEST

I spent last weekend at San Diego Comic Con! It was freaking amazing. Lots of posts about it coming up, but here’s the first one. This also goes along with this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, which is the ten most recent books to come into my possession. Thirteen books came into my possession (FOR FREE!!!) this weekend. Thank you so much to Penguin Random House and Hachette for the books!!!!

The first stack of books are new books (some ARCs) that I got. The second stack is books that I already owned but that I got signed. I got to meet Brandon Sanderson, Naomi Novik, and Renee Ahdieh! I fangirled and got to talk to them about their books, and you couldn’t tell how red I turned because the lighting was kind of dim. I can die happy now.

Look at these awesome signatures!

But let’s focus on the new books. (All descriptions are from Amazon)

The Shadow Revolution (Crown and Key #1) by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith

cover the shadow revolution

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.

What’s to love? Werewolves in Victorian London! Fog and interesting characters and magic only makes everything better.

Reawakened by Colleen Houck 

(ARC, release date August 11, 2015)

cover reawakened

When seventeen-year-old Lilliana Young enters the Metropolitan Museum of Art one morning during spring break, the last thing she expects to find is a live Egyptian prince with godlike powers, who has been reawakened after a thousand years of mummification. 
And she really can’t imagine being chosen to aid him in an epic quest that will lead them across the globe.
But fate has taken hold of Lily, and she, along with her sun prince, Amon, must travel to the Valley of the Kings, raise his brothers, and stop an evil, shape-shifting god named Seth from taking over the world. 
From New York Timesbestselling author Colleen Houck comes an epic adventure about two star-crossed teens who must battle mythical forces and ancient curses on a journey with more twists and turns than the Nile itself.

What’s to love? ANCIENT EGYPT!!! I’m a sucker for anything related to ancient Egypt and it reminds me of a middle grade story I used to love, but I love the YA angle.

The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

(ARC, release date August 18, 2015)

cover house of shattered wings

In the late twentieth century, the streets of Paris are lined with haunted ruins, the aftermath of a Great War between arcane powers. The Grand Magasins have been reduced to piles of debris, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine has turned black with ashes and rubble and the remnants of the spells that tore the city apart. But those that survived still retain their irrepressible appetite for novelty and distraction, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over France’s once grand capital.

Once the most powerful and formidable, House Silverspires now lies in disarray. Its magic is ailing; its founder, Morningstar, has been missing for decades; and now something from the shadows stalks its people inside their very own walls.

Within the House, three very different people must come together: a naive but powerful Fallen angel; an alchemist with a self-destructive addiction; and a resentful young man wielding spells of unknown origin. They may be Silverspires’ salvation—or the architects of its last, irreversible fall. And if Silverspires falls, so may the city itself.

What’s to love? I was sucked in by the title. The alternate historical setting and a destroyed Paris (with magic!) sealed the deal.

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files 01) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

(ARC, release date October 20, 2015)

cover illuminae

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

What’s to love? Just flipping through this book is fascinating. The dossier format looks really well done, and I’m interested to see how it will convey the story. Also, the idea of two exes having to work together in an apocalyptic situation is unique and intriguing–I wonder if I will want them to get back together or to go their separate ways.

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

(ARC, release date September 15, 2015)

cover the dead house

Three students: dead.

Carly Johnson: vanished without a trace.

Two decades have passed since an inferno swept through Elmbridge High, claiming the lives of three teenagers and causing one student, Carly Johnson, to disappear. The main suspect: Kaitlyn, “the girl of nowhere.”

Kaitlyn’s diary, discovered in the ruins of Elmbridge High, reveals the thoughts of a disturbed mind. Its charred pages tell a sinister version of events that took place that tragic night, and the girl of nowhere is caught in the center of it all. But many claim Kaitlyn doesn’t exist, and in a way, she doesn’t – because she is the alter ego of Carly Johnson.

Carly gets the day. Kaitlyn has the night. It’s during the night that a mystery surrounding the Dead House unravels and a dark, twisted magic ruins the lives of each student that dares touch it.

What’s to love? I don’t usually read scary novels, but the premise of this one is just amazing. I love the diary format and the fact that everything happened twenty years ago. I just feel like this will be a really unique and hair-raising read.

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

(ARC, release date September 1, 2015)

cover sorcerer to the crown

The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, one of the most respected organizations throughout all of England, has long been tasked with maintaining magic within His Majesty’s lands. But lately, the once proper institute has fallen into disgrace, naming an altogether unsuitable gentleman—a freed slave who doesn’t even have a familiar—as their Sorcerer Royal, and allowing England’s once profuse stores of magic to slowly bleed dry. At least they haven’t stooped so low as to allow women to practice what is obviously a man’s profession…

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers and eminently proficient magician, ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up. But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…

What’s to love? The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers is a really great title. Add in fairyland and a historical setting with a promise of a discussion of social issues and I’m sold.

The Young World by Chris Weltz

cover the young world

After a mysterious Sickness wipes out the rest of the population, the young survivors assemble into tightly run tribes. Jefferson, the reluctant leader of the Washington Square tribe, and Donna, the girl he’s secretly in love with, have carved out a precarious existence among the chaos.

But when a fellow tribe member discovers a clue that may hold the cure for the Sickness, five teens set out on a life-altering road trip, exchanging gunfire with enemy gangs, escaping cults and militias, braving the wilds of the subway–all in order to save humankind.

What’s to love? Dystopian road trip with gunfire and cults?! A society run by teens? I’m in.

Lair of Dreams (The Diviners #2) by Libba Bray

(ARC, release date August 25, 2015)

cover lair of dreams

After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. Now that the world knows of her ability to “read” objects, and therefore, read the past, she has become a media darling, earning the title, “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” But not everyone is so accepting of the Diviners’ abilities…

Meanwhile, mysterious deaths have been turning up in the city, victims of an unknown sleeping sickness. Can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld and catch a killer?

What’s to love? LIBBA FREAKING BRAY. I’ve been waiting for this book to come out for ages! Getting an ARC of it basically made my weekend.

What books have you guys gotten recently? Do any of these books look good?

Poetry: You Never Left

We have not talked

Since June

We have not had a conversation

Since May

I have not known you

Since last September

The last time we were best friends

It was this time, last year


And yet

You’re still all over my life

Your contact case still in my bathroom

Holes in my bookshelf

Still holding spots in line

For the books you borrowed

That post-it note

Still stuck to our fridge

Birthday cards on my desk

Still wishing for forever

Photos on my phone

That I can’t seem to delete

And all those stupid, perfect memories

Still in my head


You’re gone

But you never really left.