In Which I Discuss My Love For Out of the Easy

I started and finished reading Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys yesterday.

Out of the Easy

Obviously I knew that I was going to love this story. It takes place during the 1950’s (love me some nostalgia), in what is considered the underbelly of New Orleans, and features a badass heroine, Josie. Let me start with a brief synopsis:

Josie Moraine (FANTASTIC NAME) is the daughter of a prostitute, and relocated to The French Quarter part of New Orleans with her mother at the age of seven, so that her mother could work (again) for Willie, the well-respected Madam in the city. It’s abundantly clear that Josie’s mother doesn’t care for her daughter in the slightest, and is, quite frankly, a gold-digging, social-climbing sorry excuse for a mother. I mean, really. It would be forgivable if this woman was in this profession because she was in desperate need to provide for her child (a la Fantine), but this is hardly the case. Anyway, flash-forward ten years, and Josie has matured into a intelligent and strong woman who desperately wants to go to Smith College in Northampton, MA. Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worse when a man whom Josie sold a book to winds up murdered. Obviously Josie’s mother and her really gross bf are involved because they are the worst. The book follows Josie’s struggle to get out of the Easy and the murder investigation.

Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure I read this book in about seven hours. It. Was. THAT good. It’s the cast of characters created by Ruta Sepetys that draw me in and make me attached to the story. Honestly, the people in and around Willie’s house/business are some of the best characters I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Willie is excellent as the Madam; I respected her as much as Josie did, and then felt just as exasperated and conflicted when Josie was searching for an out and Willie told her no. The workers in the house (the “nieces”) were just as excellent despite the fact that they were secondary characters. I loved Sweety and Sadie and how much they looked out for Josie. They were part mother-part sister to her without Sepetys ever needing to explicitly state it.

There are no words for Cokie.

Yes there are.

Sweet, loyal, protective, trusting. Everything you could ever want in a father. It’s funny how Josie spent most of her life pretending various men were her father when she had the best one in Cokie.

This book left me desperate for more of New Orleans, the French Quarter, Josie and her family. Her descriptions of every situation, setting and character are so vivid that I felt as if I was walking down the streets of New Orleans rather than sitting on my couch with a mug of tea in my hand.

Read Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys. Read EVERYTHING by Ruta Sepetys. I’m desperate for more.

Happy Reading!

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Authors I Fell For in 2013

As 2013 is quickly coming to a close, pretty much every book blogger I follow is coming up with a list of their favorite books, authors, book boyfriends (super upset I didn’t think of that first, but I might just make my own list anyway), series, etc. that they read in 2013. So, as to not be out of the loop, I’ve compiled a list of authors that I discovered I love over the course of this year. HERE WE GO.

Ruta Sepetys

Author of Between Shades of Grey and Out of the Easy

Between Shades of GrayOut of the Easy

Her writing is hauntingly beautiful and truly sucks you into the story about her strong and courageous heroines. Sepetys helped cure the hangover I had after finishing Rose Under Fire in September and was in desperate need of more historical fiction.

Rachel Hartman

Author of Seraphina

Seraphina (Seraphina, #1)

I’ll begin by saying that until about a year ago, I actually believed that fantasy/science fiction were not my cups of tea. Yeah, I was utterly and completely wrong. SO SO WRONG. I love it all. In Seraphina, Hartman has created a world where dragons can exist in human form, but are also considered the lowest of the low within the social caste. Full of political corruption, adventure, romance, friendship and DRAGONS, Rachel Hartman has set up a fantastic series and I am eagerly and impatiently awaiting the next installment.

Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio Races

Author of The Scorpio Races, The Wolves of Mercy Falls Series, and The Raven Cycle Series

It took me WAAAAAYYY too long to hop on the Maggie Stiefvater bandwagon. I started with The Raven Boys and was not disappointed. Her writing is infused with mythology and magic and I have to physically drag myself away from her books in order to catch my breath. Side note: I was pleasantly surprised by The Scorpio Races as it was a bit slow at the start, but Stiefvater did such a fantastic job building the myth of the water horses that, again, I found it difficult to pull myself out of the story.

Marissa Meyer

Author of Cinder, Scarletthe soon-to-be-released Cress, and Winter (2015)

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)

Meyer’s intricately woven stories and excellent dialogue amongst familiar fairy tale characters is so well-done that I can do little else except pace around my house and babble about how much I love this series. As a BIG TIME fan of Once Upon a Time on ABC, this series combines awesome fairy tale heroines, science fiction, romance and humor and makes me lament the fact that I was not born as a kick-ass Cyborg or Lunar “shell.”

Rainbow Rowell

Author of Eleanor and Park and Fangirl

Eleanor & Park Fangirl

I had a luke-warm reaction to Eleanor and Park, which made me weary about Fangirl, but as I’ve already written extensively about my love for Fangirl, it’s safe to say that Rainbow Rowell has cemented herself as one of my favorite authors of 2013. In both stories she captures the ups and downs of being a young adult and manages to mold them into quirky and relate-able characters. I will be watching for your next YA book, Ms. Rowell.

Rae Carson

Author of The Girl of Fire and Thorn Series

The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1)

I’m still deep in the throes of a Bitter Kingdom (#3) hangover and pretty much refuse to love another epic fantasy series as  much as this one. Carson, like Rachel Hartman, created a world of political intrigue and corruption, but she added a touch of religion and faith into the mix. Elisa is pretty much the badass heroine I strive to be in all of my fantasies, and Hector should probably be a real person so that I can immediately date him. I’m thinking that Rae Carson should probably write a spin-off series about Alodia and Storm, if only so that I can re-immerse myself in this world.

Cinda Williams Chima

Author of The Seven Realms Series

The Demon King (Seven Realms, #1)

Raisa is another heroine who I wish I could either be bffs OR actually become. Probably the most intricately designed fantasy world I’ve read this year, Chima wrote a fantasy series that (I believe) could rival anything written by George R.R. Martin. Just saying. Sometimes I had to go back and re-read a section because there was so much revealed/discussed in terms of alliances, countries, weapons, powers, etc. Also, Raisa and Hans Alister have one of the most romantic moments I’ve ever read. It takes place in her garden for crying out loud.

And now for my favorite author.

Ever.

At least this year.

Seriously though.

Elizabeth Wein

author of Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire

Code Name Verity Rose Under Fire

These books. This author. I can’t even. Wein is so articulate in every description and dialogue, that I felt like I actually was Julia, Maddie (Verity) and Rose (Rose Under Fire). I emerged from these books yearning to have the relationships these brave, resourceful and intelligent women had with each other. The stories Wein has told are- like those by Ruta Sepetys- haunting and beautiful. Rose Under Fire is, by far, the best book I’ve read this year. I’m still thinking about Rose, Irina, Róża, Karolina, Lisette, Gitte, Elodie and Anna. These women. They aren’t even real, and I feel like I’ve known them my whole life. Any author who is able to create characters who end up feeling like my best friends- my sisters even-, put them in situations that were tragically real, and make me mourn the ends of their stories, is an author I’m going to look for every time I’m in a book store or library. Read Elizabeth Wein’s books. Now.

There were obviously loads of other books I devoured this year, but these were the authors that I read for the first time, and whose works stood out in my mind the most.

Happy Reading!

In Which I Discuss How I Spent The Whole Weekend Reading

SO. I did manage to finish Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo late Saturday night. I actually stayed up until the ungodly hour of 2:30 a.m., partly because I couldn’t sleep and partly because I wanted (needed) to find out what happened to Alina and Mal.

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)

I’ll begin my brief review by stating that I should (and will never again) discuss a book before I’m done reading it. Because, the Darkling, guys. I mean, yeah, his name alone is a huge indicator of his poorly-veiled villainous ways, but I was kind hoping that Bardugo would surprise me and make him only a little bid evil. Yeah, that did not happen. He went full-fledged evil all over the place and I did not care for it. AND, to top it off, it turned out that Genya and David- Alina’s supposed friends- were on his side the whole time. I mean, COME ON. I loved Alina’s friendship with Genya. Ugh.

On a positive note, Mal came back for Alina and proceeded to have one of the most romantic quotes ever:

“I missed you every hour. And you know what the worst part was? It caught me completely by surprise. I’d catch myself just walking around to find you, not for any reason, just out of habit, because I’d seen something that I wanted to tell you about or because I wanted to hear your voice. And then I’d realize that you weren’t there anymore, and every time, every single time, it was like having the wind knocked out of me. I’ve risked my life for you. I’ve walked half the length of Ravka for you, and I’d do it again and again and again just to be with you, just to starve with you and freeze with you and hear you complain about hard cheese every day. So don’t tell me why we don’t belong together,” he said fiercely.”

Excuse me while I swoon.

Overall, I liked this book fine and I’ll definitely be reading Siege and Storm soon, but it wasn’t my favorite fantasy reads of late. This could be because I’m still suffering a massive book hangover from The Girl of Fire and Thorns series, and refuse to give myself over to another world quite yet. So, I’m not going to count this series out just yet.

But my weekend of reading does not end here, oh no.

Fangirl

I promptly started reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell yesterday morning. . . aaaaand then finished it late last night. It was THAT good. This is a book that is meant for every geek who has had his/her head in the clouds for most of their life. It’s for the geek who was/is nervous about college, leaving home for the first time, partying, meeting new people or having new experiences. This was me. I was (still am, kinda) Cath. Cath is a protagonist who is so relatable, it’s scary. Rowell did an EXCELLENT job fleshing out Cath, Levie, Reagan, and Wren. Reagan was absolutely fantastic as her roommate, and reminded me of a caricature-version of my own roommate during my freshman year of college. Side note: I’d like to go on record as stating that my roommate was not hard or edgy like Reagan; she was just completely understanding and respectful of my “hermit” lifestyle that year.

Levie was absolutely fantastic. Maybe a bit too idealistic for a love-interest, but I don’t even care.

Fangirl is definitely a great read for all the timid, slightly-introverted, fantastic geeks out there. I know that in my case, I was so happy to read about a character who I could identify with, and who got a lovely ending.

And thus concludes my weekend of books and reading.

OH WAIT. I did go to Barnes and Noble. . . because obviously it’s Christmas season and I must purchase every book ever printed.

In other news, the Once Upon a Time winter finale aired last night, and I’m so emotional over it, that I STILL can’t talk about it. Ugh.

I pinky promise my next post won’t be a novella.

Now Reading: Shadow and Bone

I realize that I waited a solid week before returning to this blog and writing down all my thoughts on all the books, but, wisdom teeth, guys. They had to come out and I was a mess that whole first day. Luckily my cheeks did not swell and make me look like a chipmunk-girl hybrid, but I did manage to feel nauseous the entire day. Good stuff.

But, ONTO THE BOOKS.

I figured I would begin by writing a post on what I’m currently reading. Seems to make sense, right? So, as of a few days ago, I started reading Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. It is the first book in what will be a Grisha trilogy. I tend to stay away from a series until all of the books are already out, or the wait for the final book is not far off. Apparently, the third book is due out in June 2014, so I thought that was reasonable. Also, I despise not knowing what my favorite authors/book bloggers are talking about, so I needed to start this immediately.

What I like thus far: Alina is interesting as a main character. It bothers me that she came across as weak and afraid at first, and that she was pretty wrapped up in her crush on Mal. However, once I started reading more, I then began to rationalize Alina’s feelings (because she’s totally a real person). First of all, this story takes place during a war, so who wouldn’t be terrified? If I were Alina, I’d be shaking all day every day. Also, I probably would cling (not the right word for her relationship with Mal, but I’m going to use it anyway) to my best friend as well simply because he is familiar someone to count on. After I thought this over, I understood why Alina is that way. As I got further into the plot, I discovered more details about Alina’s past, which helped me- as the reader- to understand her weak nature. Obviously, she doesn’t stay that way.

Genya, as Alina’s Grisha BFF is also a great part of the story. I always enjoy reading about friendships- especially if the main character hasn’t had many good friends in her life. And the only real friend Alina has known is Mal, but I found it difficult to really “count” that has a friendship (at least at this point in Alina’s life) because of the feelings she harbored for him. With Genya, she finds out what having a girl friend is all about.

Finally, I’m going to admit that I’m enjoying all of the scenes with the Darkling. I’ve spoiled the story for myself, and I know that somehow he ends up all evil and everything, but for now he is witty and mysterious, and despite some reservation on my part, I do see the chemistry between he and Alina. Although he is a bit charming- something I’m always weary of as a reader- so I know to be on my guard.

Aaaand this concludes my first real posting. I haven’t finished the book yet, but once I turn the last page, I’ll be on to complete my thoughts. I’m sure they will include some sort of rant about the Darkling and how he ruined my hopes and dreams of being fantastic. Ugh.

Happy Reading!

The Unbound Teaser # 3 (+ giveaway)!

OH MAN I NEED ME A COPY OF THE ARCHIVED. LIKE YESTERDAY.

Victoria (V.E.) Schwab

Hello, lovelies!

Keeping it nice and simple! Another video, another winner, another teaser, another giveaway! And this week, the winner will get to CHOOSE their prize!

I’ll be posting very soon about the Epic Unbound Preorder Campaign (so epic, you guys) as well as my travel schedule for the book. But I’m still under deadline, so bear with me a little longer!

Without further ado, this week’s video.

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In Which I Get Things Started.

I recently took a gander at my Twitter profile and realized that, just in the past week, I’ve followed more authors and YA book bloggers than I realized. So, after spending more time going through all of their followers and picking out more book lovers to follow, I decided that perhaps I should start writing down my own thoughts about the books I’m reading.

I should mention that I’ve been purchasing books at an alarming rate. Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m pressing the “buy now with one-click” button until I’m suddenly on the “review your purchase” page. This will only become  a problem when I get a notice from my bank saying that there’s simply no money left for me to spend. Whoops. I’m justifying these purchases by telling myself that this is actually part of my job. In fact, my current job is brewing coffee and serving pastries/bread, so this is a slight exaggeration on my part. I should say that buying all the books is part of my future job as a teen librarian. Plus, I just need to own and read every Young Adult book ever published.

All this rambling is suppose to lead up to me saying that I’ve decided to start using this blog seriously. As a teen librarian I should be keeping some sort of journal/record of the books I’ve read, so this is a great way to get started! Plus, this way I get to connect with fellow young adult lit fans as well!

So, here I go!