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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Dance of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Title: Dance of the Red Death
Author: Bethany Griffin
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: June 11 2013
Publishing House: Greenwillow Books
ISBN: 9780062107824
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


Everything is on fire.

Araby Worth's city is being torn apart by death, disease and corrupt forces wanting to claim it for their own. She has lost her home. Her best friend is dying. Her mother has been kidnapped. The boy who made her feel something again betrayed her. And her father may be a murderer.

But Araby has found herself.

Despite the death and destruction all around her, she will fight for herself, for her friends, for her city. Her rebellion will take her, finally, to the mad prince's palace, for the decadent - and sinister - masked ball. It could be a trap. It could be the end of them all. Or it could be the moment that Araby becomes the kind of hero she never dreamed to be.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


If you haven't read the first book in this duology and are curious about it, you can find a review for the book here.

In Dance if the Red Death, Araby's city is a mess, her best friend is dying, her mother is kidnapped and her father might just be a murderer. The boy who made her feel alive has betrayed her and another boy, with his cunning and good looks, expresses interest in her. But despite the emotional turmoil Araby is determined to save her city and to do that she must enter the heart of the mad prince's palace. But does Araby have what it takes to save the city she calls her own? Or will she find herself trapped in the palace playing a game she has no chance of winning?

In the first book Araby was boring, your typical damsel in distress but in the second book it seems that she might have grown a backbone of sorts. Which is good. She's slightly more confident in herself and is capable of making her own decisions, which is another point for Araby of course. Elliot is still a power hungry megalomaniac, using Araby to further his cause. I could never be sure if he really had feelings for Araby or it was all just a front. Will, unsurprisingly, is still a sweetheart despite his actions in the first book. He was genuinely attracted to Araby and his remorse at what he had done was quite obvious. But I suppose he had no choice.

This book, unlike it's predecessor has more action and their situation is certainly more tense. Elliot finally gets the chance to lead a revolution against his uncle with Araby by his side. Will has his siblings back and is trying to reconcile with Araby. And Araby? She just wants to save her city, make sense of her feelings for both boys and find her father who has gone into hiding. 

I was surprised to find that Dance of the Red Death was the conclusion to this duology because truthfully, when I finished the book it did not feel like the end. There were still so many things that weren't expounded upon, so many things that could happen and somehow for me, I felt like it was cut short. I actually felt a little cheated because I expected something more to happen. I thought that there would be a next installment, but I guess that won't be happening. 

The Masque of the Red Death duology finishes with an ending that may or may not satisfy. If you're just starting to ease yourself into the genre, then yes, this series is a decent enough read. A little slow at some point but it will nonetheless keep you occupied.



Tuesday, July 30, 2013

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: Parallel by Lauren Miller

Title: Parallel
Author: Lauren Miller
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: May 14, 2013
Publishing House: Harper Teen
ISBN: 9780062199799
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


Abby Barnes had a plan. The Plan. She'd go to Northwestern, major in journalism, and land a job at a national newspaper, all before she turned twenty-two. But one tiny choice - taking a drama class her senior year of high school - changed all that. Now, on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Abby is stuck on a Hollywood movie set, miles from where she wants to be, wishing could rewind her life. The next morning, she's in a dorm room at Yale, with no memory of how she got there. Overnight, it's as if her past had been rewritten.

With the help of Caitlin, her science-savvy BFF, Abby discovers that this new reality is the result of a cosmic collision of parallel universes that has Abby living an alternate version of her life. And not only that: Abby's life changes every time her parallel self makes a new choice. Meanwhile, her parallel self is living out Abby's senior year of high school and falling for someone Abby's never even met.

As she struggles to navigate her ever-shifting existence, Abby must let go of the Plan and learn to focus on the present, without losing sight of who she is, the boy who might just be her soul mate, and the destiny that's finally within reach.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


I love the idea of parallel universes. In fact, if we didn't start the blog, I would be over at Tumblr, creating comics mostly revolving around parallel universes (I already occupied the URL too.) When I read the summary of this one on GoodReads, I was naturally very excited. There aren't many books that revolve around parallel universes after all.

Abby has it all mapped out: go to Northwestern, major in journalism, and nab a much coveted spot at a local newspaper. So when she finds herself and her other parallel self caught in a cosmic collision, her plan pretty much gets skewered. Whatever Parallel Abby does inevitably alters with her future, so Abby finds herself waking up to different realities. With all the possibilities spread out before her, Abby must take control of her destiny and decide for herself what she really wants.

In fairness, Parallel started off pretty interesting. Abby was in location in Los Angeles for a movie, and all it took for her movie career to take flight was when she chose Drama over Astrology back in high school. But when a global earthquake messes up with the dimensions of reality and starts creating a parallel dimension for Abby, Abby's life isn't the only thing in haywire because the plot kind of weakens its initial stronghold as well. Abby wasn't immensely likable or anything like that. She was just 'eh', the heroine you have to tolerate because the whole story revolves around her and is told from her perspective. I thought her best friend Caitlin took the whole thing too casually, like, "Hey, you have a parallel self? No biggie, happens all the time." and so the whole approach felt off and unbelievable.

I was really disappointed that the novel didn't actually center around the science of the parallel universes. Since I am morbidly curious about the whole aspect and how Miller would deliver it, I was kind of waiting for a blow-by-blow account from. Miller did employ someone to explain the parallel universe existence, but it wasn't enough, so while Parallel showcases the alternate realities opening up for Abby and her parallel self, I couldn't help but feel short-changed. The novel actually focuses a lot on romantic relationships and how these can affect the others, so you can understand my hang-ups about this one. The interspersing POVs between Abby and Parallel Abby were quite confusing that I just gave up trying to figure out who's who and who-did-what. The ending was very frustrating and it just felt like nothing significant about Abby had changed. I don't really enjoy roundabout endings to my books.

I expected more fascinating science-y stuff, so I didn't really enjoy Parallel what with its stronger overtones of romance. But if you're not much of a science fiction fan and just want to dip your toes in the water, then maybe Parallel would be right up your alley. 



Monday, July 29, 2013

NICOLE'S REVIEW + Novel Nails #3: The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress

Title: The Friday Society
Author: Adriene Kress
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: December 6 2012
Publishing House: Dial
ISBN: 9780803737617
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


An action packed tale of gowns, guys, guns and the heroines who use them all.

The Friday Society follows the stories of three intelligent and talented young women who work as assistants to powerful men: Cora, lab assistant; Michiko, combat instruction assistant; and Nellie, Magician's assistant. Their lives become inexorably intertwined after a chance meeting at a ball ends with the discovery of a murdered mystery man. It's up to these three, in their own charming but bold way, to solve the murder - and the crimes they believe may be connected to it - without calling too much attention to themselves. Of course, blending in has never been these ladies' strong suit, especially with so many eligible men around.

Told with Adrienne Kress' sharp wit and a great deal of irreverence, this Steampunk mystery introduces three unforgettable and very ladylike - well, relatively ladylike - heroines poised for more dangerous activities.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


Three young women who cross paths at a ball are inevitably tied to each other when they discover the body of a dead man. There's Cora who's a lab assistant to Lord White, Michiko who's a combat instruction assistant to Sir Callum and Nellie who's a magician's assistant to The Great Raheem. These three girls take it upon themselves to figure out how the man was murdered while at the same time unravel a great conspiracy that could destroy all of London all the while dealing with their employers and looking absolutely fabulous.

One problem with writing a story in the points of view of three characters is the challenge of giving all of them a distinct voice and personality. Kress managed to pull it off well enough giving readers three smart, witty young ladies with looks to match. Cora is pragmatic and down to earth, Nellie is slightly more outgoing and whimsical and Michiko is serious and a stranger to the country she now lives in. One thing they did have in common was that they were a tad bit cheeky and sassy.

I expected this story to be a murder-mystery and while it did have mystery and a few murders here and there and maybe a chauvinistic not-so-secret society it wasn't. Not exactly. It was entertaining enough but The Friday Society seemed to focus more on the girls instead of the story. I suppose that was a problem because while I got to glimpse into the lives of our three protagonists, the story took a slight backseat to it all. Another problem I had was that this book is touted as Steampunk and while that much is evident in Cora's experiments I didn't get much of a steampunk vibe from the book. It was more historical with hints of that genre.

Here's another thing I was waiting for: a whole lot of suspense and strange clues that make little sense until they culminate in one final, epic tell-all and end-all. And yes, there were clues and there were things that made no sense but I couldn't exactly grasp how they were connected to the ending. I didn't expect that to happen and while unpredictability is fun and all, I still expect it to make sense. I want to have that Aha! moment and connect the dots but there was none of that and it was a tad bit anticlimatic.

Nonetheless, The Friday Society is an entertaining read told in the voices of three bold and brash young women. Readers who fancy a light, read or want to check out the steampunk genre then yes, don't be afraid to pick this one up. The girls antics will surely entertain. 



"Novel Nails" is a feature of the blog that showcases nail art inspired by books and their covers. Nail art will be created by either Michelle or Nicole and will be featured alongside their reviews.

I'm on a roll here! Here's the nail art I did inspired by The Friday Society. I've always wanted to do steampunk nails and I thought this would be the perfect time to try it out. I made two different designs for my left and right hand as seen below. The nail polish I used are as follows.

Gears/gray stripes: Deborah Lippman Stormy Weather
Base/gold-green stripes: OPI Just Spotted the Lizard

I drew gears on my nails using Stormy Weather.

They match!

 I made some stripes with striping tape.

They match too!

That's it folks. I hope you liked my nails. For past book-ish nail art and other works (I've got a free-hand Pegasus I'm pretty proud of) just search nicolereadsbooks on Instagram.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Twins on Thursday + Novel Nails #2: Vortex by S.J. Kincaid

"The Twins on Thursday" is reserved for the Twins' joint reviews. It is a special feature of our blog that discusses books that we either both like, dislike, or have mixed feelings about. This is also the day where we post reviews for books (and ARCs/Galleys) that have been sent to us by authors/galley sites/publishing houses. And because we don't believe much in uniformity, we'll be trying to mix things up a bit by adding random stuff in relation to our review (well, mostly for books we purchased anyway).

Title: Vortex
Author: S. J. Kincaid
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: July 2, 2013
Publishing House: Katherine Tegen Books
ISBN: 9780062093028
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


The impossible was just the beginning. Now in their second year as superhuman government weapons-in-training at the Pentagonal Spire, Tom and his friends are midlevel cadets in the elite combat corps known as the Intrasolar Forces. But as training intensifies and a moment arrives that could make or break his entire career, Tom's loyalties are again put to the test.

Encouraged to betray his ideals and friendships for the sake of his country, Tom is convinced there must be another way. And the more aware he becomes of the corruption surrounding him, the more determined he becomes to fight it, even if he sabotages his own future in the process.

Drawn into a power struggle more dramatic than he has ever faced before, Tom stays a hyperintelligent step ahead of everyone, like the exceptional gamer that he is - or so he believes. But when he learns that he and his friends have unwittingly made the most grievous error imaginable, Tom must find a way to outwit an enemy so nefarious that victory seems hopeless. Will his idealism and bravado cost him everything - and everyone - that matters to him?

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


(You can check out our review for Insignia, the first book here.)

Tom and his friends are back in the Pentagonal Spire as Middles, and it's time that they started courting the five fat cats at the top into sponsoring them. When Tom mucks everything up, he'd sooner rather eat a super incredible Exosuit than accept any of Vengerov's terms and conditions, because what Vengerov wants is more than Tom is willing to sacrifice for a guy like him. However rebellious Tom may be, he may find that he might have to unwillingly give in, especially when Vengerov starts to press certain buttons. But with a little cunning and help from his friends, Tom has a fighting chance at doing things the only way he approves of - his.

There is no possible way that you can pick up Vortex and not expect to get sucked up. The shenanigans and hijinks the gang gets into are plenty and will not leave you with a dry eye from laughing so hard. In Insignia, the mood was a bit more serious and characters were empathized with. But in Vortex, the characters are given more breathing space to actually live like real teenagers so you actually feel like you're part of the gang and just hanging out.

Tom was similar to Sage/Jaron from Jennifer Nielsen's The Ascendance Trilogy in the sense that they both have problems with authority figures, and are both sarcastic and stubborn to a fault. Both Tom and Sage also do  the opposite of what anyone would normally aspire to do given certain conditions, but that's what makes them both dynamic characters. Tom is raised by a gambler, so his skills are finely honed as to predict certain outcomes and to look for other alternatives when stuck in a pinch. In Insignia, we loved Tom because he was so realistic. His unpredictability only shone through at the end, so if you caught your breath at those parts and wanted more, then you will really appreciate Vortex because it showcases one gasp-inducing scene after the other because his insolence, while very much detrimental to his future, was highly entertaining for us. Another dynamic that we really enjoyed was the friendship between the four friends. While Tom is determined to let his past stay in the past, and another may have unknown secrets of his own, it is in Vortex where their friendship - almost the only thing that keeps them alive most of the time - is tried and tested.

The difference between Insignia and Vortex as we've found, was that in the first book, Tom's reckless ways have always worked for him but in Vortex they cause problems upon problems. 

Vortex is certainly more humorous than its predecessor, which was certainly unexpected for the both of us. Not in a bad way of course even if Vortex had us laughing and chortling at the most inopportune moments. (Nicole read it in class and Michelle in her school's library, because we are thrill-seekers and engage in illicit book reading.) But this book is also intense as Kincaid manages to unveil an epic conspiracy little by little coupled with the messy situations that Tom usually finds himself in.


We made a playlist for Insignia because it was hard not to come up with songs that just reminded us so much of the book. Well, the same thing happened with Vortex, so we just had to come up with another playlist. Enjoy! :)

                                                       Now The Spark, Next The Ashes from on 8tracks Radio.

"Novel Nails" is a feature of the blog that showcases nail art inspired by books and their covers. Nail art will be created by either Michelle or Nicole and will be featured alongside their reviews.

Hello! Nicole here for today's feature of Novel Nails. Here's the nail art I made inspired by Vortex. I made a dark to light blue gradient and drew on the vortex/hurricane/tornado symbol on the cover on my ring fiver to serve as an accent nail. I made these using the following colors.

Gradient base: Orly Sweet Peacock
Gradient tips: NARS Night Flight
Free-hand vortex: NARS Space Odyssey

I hope you guys like this and yes, I promise, more pictures next time from different angles. I'm going to use my DSLR now too for clearer shots.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Sunday Post #28 + Stacking the Shelves #33

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba over at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. This special post will provide a recap for posts that have been written for the week (July 21-27, 2013)




Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme first initiated by Tynga. This weekly segment will showcase the books/galleys/ARCs we've acquired/purchased/borrowed within the week.


1. Requiem by Lauren Oliver
2. In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
3. The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress


1. Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn
2. Dance of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin
3. That Time I Joined the Circus by J.J. Howard

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

[CLOSED] GIVEAWAY: Dianne Salerni's The Caged Graves


Hey guys, we're giving away a hardcover of Dianne Salerni's The Caged Graves (check out our review here), because:
a.) we've reached 40k pageviews, yay
b.) we love The Caged Graves and want to share the book with someone, and
c.) we like giving away stuff!

The giveaway is international, so everyone can join in the fun - as long as The Book Depository ships to your country!

Terms and Conditions:

1. The books will be sent from The Twins Read will not be held liable for any customs / taxes that your country will impose on you. Likewise, The Twins Read will not be held liable for any lost / damaged packages.

2. You must be 12 years old and above to join. Please ask your parent/guardian to join the giveaway for you, if you aren't.

3. If you only use ONE account to do all these tasks and enter under different names, they will still only constitute as ONE entry. 

4. If the winner does not respond to messages via Facebook, or e-mail within 48 hours, The Twins Read will have to choose another winner.

5. The covers of the copies you get may be different from the cover used in the The Twins Read promos.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: Ashes on the Waves by Mary Lindsey

Title: Ashes on the Waves
Author: Mary Lindsey
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: June 27, 2013
Publishing House: Philomel
ISBN: 9780399159398
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


Liam McGregor is cursed. Haunted by the walls of fantastical Bean Sidhes and labeled a demon by the villagers of Dòchas, Liam has accepted that things will never get better for him - until a wealthy heiress named Annabel Leighton arrives on the island and Liam's fate is changed forever.

With Anna, Liam finally finds the happiness he has always been denied, but the violent, mythical Otherworlders, who inhabit the island and the sea around it, have other plans. They make a wager on the couple's love, testing its strength through a series of cruel obstacles. But the tragedies draw Liam and Anna even closer. Frustrated, the creatures put the couple through one last trial - and this time it's not only their love that's in danger of being destroyed.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


Every villager believes that Liam is a monster, a devil who brutally destroyed his mother's body when she gave birth to him. He's so used to being maltreated that he really thinks that he deserves the punishments he gets. When Annabel Leighton, the only girl he's ever loved, comes back to the island, Liam begins to realize that maybe the reason he took it all by stride was because he had nothing to fight for. But now that the two lovers are reunited, it seems that there is opposition from all sides. Liam and Anna can handle being maligned by the villagers and Anna's family and friends, but when Otherworlders take too much of an interest and place a wager on their love, Liam and Anna may face their deadliest obstacle yet.

Right off the bat, let me just say that I love Mary Lindsey's world-building. I've already read - and loved - her earlier work, Shattered Souls, so it was only fitting that I pick up her newest novel as well. Now, Dòchas, the island where are protagonists are moored, just screams "Eerie, fantastical mythical stuff happens here!" Aside from the horrible, paranormal rumors revolving around Liam's birth, there are actual otherworldly creatures that lull and trance some of the people to throw themselves into the ocean. There are also selkies who seem to know more than they let on and one in particular even keeps a watchful eye over Liam. 

Liam appears to be the picture-perfect modern-day Gothic hero - handsome, mysterious, brooding, yet passionate about his lady love, Anna. While I can understand how he can fully love Anna who may have become a different person as compared to her seven-year-old counterpart, I couldn't embrace the idea of Anna quickly falling irrevocably in love with Liam. She's a Page Six favorite - a New York socialite whose goods have already graced countless of tabloids and magazines, all for shock value. I understand that Liam might have a totally fresh personality from what she's normally accustomed to, and maybe that is just what Anna really needs - someone who can see her for herself - but I think she just fell for him a little too quick for my taste. 

I was actually quite fascinated with Muireann, the selkie. Her gentle and innocent ways were simply bewitching and I adored her for it. The only other book I've read with selkies in it was Margo Lanagan's utterly lovely The Brides of Rollrock Island, and while those selkies were demure, they don't really have any distinctive quality - which I presume, stands for a point Lanagan was trying to make. But Muireann was just so alive and child-like, which definitely deviated from the selkies I was accustomed to.

The ball only really started rolling after the first half of the book. The Bean Sidhes (pronounced as ban-shees. Yes, those banshees. I learned it from Mary Lindsey's FAQs.) and the Na Fir Ghorm decided to determine the fate of their territorial wars once and for all by testing the strength of the love of the unlikely couple. While I don't really get why Liam and Anna have to be the unlucky people chosen to be pawns in their little messed up game, I guess it's more entertaining to mess with people who are trying to rise above the hardships as compared to ruining lives of the already miserable villagers. 

If you like reading modern-day adaptations of Gothic novels, or if you fancy yourself in a somber, poetic mood, you might want to try reading Ashes on the Waves. It will also appeal to the romantic at heart who never can resist rooting for star-crossed lovers.



Monday, July 22, 2013

NICOLE'S REVIEW + Novel Nails #1: Ink by Amanda Sun

Title: Ink
Author: Amanda Sun
Format Acquired: Paperback
Publication Date: June 25 2013
Publishing House: Harlequin Teen
ISBN: 9780373210718
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


Ink is in their blood.

On the heels of a family tragedy, Katie Greene must move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn't know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks and she can't seem to get a hand of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

When Katie meets aloof but gorgeous Tomohiro, the star of the school's kendo team, she is intrigued by him...and a little scared. His tough attitude seems meant to keep her at a distance, and when they're near each other, strange things happen. Pens explode. Ink drips from nowhere. And unless Katie is seeing things, drawings come to life.

Somehow Tomo is connected to the kami, powerful ancient beings who once ruled Japan - and as feelings develop between Katie and Tomo, things begin to spiral out of control. The wrong people are starting to ask questions, and if they discover the truth, no one will be safe.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


This book turned out to be better than I expected and I just loved the fact that it was set in Japan. I mean, how many YA books are set in Japan? Add to that the really pretty cover done in watercolor and well, how could I possibly resist?

Katie moves to Japan to live with her aunt. It's difficult because she doesn't know the language and isn't familiar at all with the culture. But then she chances upon Tomohiro, star of her school's kendo team and strange things start to happen. Drawings come to life and ink drips from ceilings. Turns out Tomo is somehow connected to ancient Japanese gods called the Kami and as Tomo and Katie grow closer, things start to get a little out of hand. This is one secret they can't allow the wrong people to find out.

Katie is an engaging heroine. She's headstrong, persistent, and afraid yet she managed to work through her fear of the strange things happening to her. She sees past Tomo's brooding bad boy facade to the lonely boy struggling with the loss of his mother and his own frightening powers. It doesn't hurt that Tomo can draw like nobody's business. I just love male leads who can draw. And seeing as how he does calligraphy and I do -I used to anyway- calligraphy and well...I think we match.

What I liked about Ink was the lore. Drawings that come to life? As an artist, I thought that that would be pretty awesome. It was interesting to read about how normal everyday people could actually be connected to the Kami but one thing I wasn't so sure about were the roles of the secret society and the yakuza - aside from wanting their power of course.

But alas, as much as I liked this book I'm only giving it a 3.5 because it was somehow lacking, it's probably just me but I wanted to see more of the abilities that Tomo can wield and more action scenes, although it does somehow set things up for the next book. I can't wait! Plus I'm pretty stoked to see the cover for the next book. 

"Novel Nails" is a feature of the blog that showcases nail art inspired by books and their covers. Nail art will be created by either Michelle or Nicole and will be featured alongside their reviews. 

So since my nail art photos have been getting a lot of good reactions, Michelle and I decided to make it a feature on our blog. I would like to thank Kyle of The Selkie Reads Stories for helping us come up with a name. 

And here it is! Nail art inspired by Amanda Sun's Ink. I drew cherry blossoms on my nails and used the following nail polish.
Base: Orly White Tips
Branches: Orly Liquid Vinyl
Cherry Blossoms: Essie Bachelorette Bash

I'll try to take more pictures next time, in different angles too. And while we're at it, if you guys want to see my past book-ish nail art feel free to check out my instagram! 


Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Sunday Post #27 + Stacking the Shelves #32

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba over at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. This special post will provide a recap for posts that have been written for the week (July 14-20, 2013)





Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme first initiated by Tynga. This weekly segment will showcase the books/galleys/ARCs we've acquired/purchased/borrowed within the week.

(From left to right, top to bottom)
1. Vortex by S.J. Kincaid
2. The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan
3. Ink by Amanda Sun
4. The Collector by Victoria Scott (Check out Michelle's review here)

(From left to right, top to bottom)
1. Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick
2. Vortex by S.J. Kincaid
3. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Twins on "Thursday": The First Lie by Diane Chamberlain

"The Twins on Thursday" is reserved for the Twins' joint reviews. It is a special feature of our blog that discusses books that we either both like, dislike, or have mixed feelings about. This is also the day where we post reviews for books (and ARCs/Galleys) that have been sent to us by authors/galley sites/publishing houses. And because we don't believe much in uniformity, we'll be trying to mix things up a bit by adding random stuff in relation to our review (well, mostly for books we purchased anyway).

Title: The First Lie
Author: Diane Chamberlain
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Publishing House: St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 9781466839403
Source of Copy: Invited by publisher for review


An e-original short story that sets the stage for bestselling author Diane Chamberlain's upcoming novel Necessary Lies (September 2013).

The First Lie gives readers an early glimpse into the life of thirteen-year-old Ivy Hart. It's 1958 in rural North Carolina, where Ivy lives with her grandmother and sister on a tobacco farm. As tenant farmers, Ivy and her family don't have much freedom, though she and her best friend, Henry, often sneak away in search of adventure... and their truest selves. But life on the farm takes a turn when Ivy's teenage sister gives birth - all the while maintaining her silence about the baby's father. Soon Ivy finds herself navigating the space between adolescence and adulthood as she tries to unravel a dark web of family secrets and make sense of her ever-evolving life in the segregated South.

(Image, summary, and information courtesy of Goodreads)


The great thing about The First Lie is that it is quite an immersive read. Chamberlain has managed to give Ivy an undeniably realistic voice, and you can't help but go along with Ivy as she narrates a snippet of her life in 1958 North CarolinaIvy is a very persuasive character, and we have to give props to Chamberlain for managing to capture that innocence so aptly. We enjoyed reading about Ivy's relationship with the people around her; with Henry, her sister and even Mary Ella.  She's a perceptive child and it doesn't hurt that she's got an engaging voice. When the novella ended we couldn't help but want more. 

The First Lie, as a prequel e-novella, has done its job of making us interested in Chamberlain's upcoming title, Necessary Lie. We can't wait to delve back into the 1950s and reconnect with the characters we have met with.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: The Collector by Victoria Scott

Title: The Collector
Author: Victoria Scott
Format Acquired: Paperback
Publication Date: April 2, 2o13
Publishing House: Entangled Teen
ISBN: 9781620612422
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked

Dante Walker is flippin' awesome, and he knows it. His good looks, killer charm, and stellar confidence have made him one of Hell's best - a soul collector. His job is simple: weed through humanity and label those round rears with a big red good or bad stamp. old Saint Nick gets the good guys, and he gets the fun ones. Bag-and-tag.

Sealing souls is nothing personal. Dante's an equal-opportunity collector and doesn't want it any other way. But he'll have to adjust, because Boss Man has given him a new assignment:

Collect Charlie Cooper's soul within ten days.

Dante doesn't know why Boss Man wants Charlie, nor does he care. This assignement means only one thing to him, and that's a permanent ticket out of Hell. But after Dante meets the quirky Nerd Alert chick he's come to collect, he realizes this assignment will test his abilities as a collector... and uncover emotions deeply buried.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


The only thing - soul, whatever - standing in Dante's way of getting his promotion is geeky Charlie Cooper who can't possibly tell the difference between Forever 21 and Fendi. Boss Man wants Charlie's soul, and to Dante's amazement, even the other side is invested in her. To him, she's a less-than regular chick who's hardly worth a second glance, but there's something about her that makes him different. Someone... good.

Dante Walker isn't quite Carlos Fuentes, the baddest bad boy from Simone Elkeles' Rules of Attraction, but he's okay. I think I'm taking Dante for granted because I keep comparing every dubbed bad boy there is to Carlos, so if you haven't started on Simone Elkeles' series, you might end up loving Dante to bits. I like how Scott has tapped into Dante and made him seem a very believable arrogant - but caring - prick. I will not glaze over the fact that you will want to torture Dante very slowly and resurrect him when he dies only to torture him some more because of how he maniacally destroys any semblance of Charlie's self-esteem. But I cannot disagree that when he grows a conscience, man does it really grow. While I do have some hang-ups about his rather quick change of character, I must admit that he has had me almost convinced. Almost.

I like the humor and candor Dante goes about with, and his interactions with Charlie more so. Charlie is immensely likable if only because she will throw every misconception about female protagonists you have ever had out the window and will dutifully stomp on it. Maybe it's because we're viewing Charlie from Dante's set of standards which is why some parts must be overly exaggerated (because if you haven't noticed, he is quite a dramatic guy) but she is definitely someone that you would not find yourself rooting for as soon as you've met her - something that Scott will gradually make you do over time.

While The Collector is very absorbing, there were some times that I looked up and went all, "Whaaaat?" because some things just didn't seem all right with me. Even the romance aspect of it didn't quite sell to me, but I figured that it was okay because The Collector is meant to be a fun read, and not a book where I must. Connect. All. The. Dots. For it to make sense. I did feel bad that Charlie felt that she had to change just to be considered beautiful by society standards, but hey, she's a teenager and she's wont to be insecure with herself every once in a while. And while I did like how both protagonists found their own versions of beauty (No, I am not trying to go all after-school special on you. Maybe.) I loved the idea that we all have to go through our own personal battles just to fully realize that yes, we are, in all actuality, enough.