Thursday, July 31, 2014

Topics Time: YA Mysteries

This post started out as a throwback Thursday where I featured books that already came out focusing around a specific topic, but I'm switching the name around (because I'm indecisive).

So it's Topics Time, where I give you a few recommendations based on a particular topic for the week, including new releases and some older backlisted books you can find for cheap or at your library if you're on a budget. This week's discussion? YA (Murder) Mysteries!

1. Dangerous Girls by Abigal Haas
Lots of people rave about this, and for a good reason. It's a mindfuck of a book. Seriously. I could not stop flipping the pages, and about every 5 pages I had a new theory about who had done what and what was going to happen to Anna who was currently stuck in Aruba. And there's more incentive to go get this book—Abigail Haas just released an announcement saying she wasn't given a second book deal because the first one only sold 450 copies. So she's releasing Dangerous Boys herself, which is a crazy bold move and I totally admire her for that. So go get the first one (it's totally worth it) and help support an awesome author.

2. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
This was one I read a long time ago before I realized the weird distinct divide between YA and "adult" fiction, and this is one that crosses that line. It's marketed as literary fiction, but the main character is a young boy who discovers his neighbor's dog has been killed. This is a beautiful novel for everyone to read that also has insight into the mind of a logical and literal-thinking boy.

3. I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
This was one of my all-time favorites (and it's by the same guy who wrote the Book Thief, for reference) in high school, and I still adore it to this day. It moves much quicker than the Book Thief and follows the story of an underage cab driver who follows playing cards he receives in the mail, becoming a messenger for a mystery he, and you, will be running around and trying to solve as fast as you can read words.

4. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Also called On the Jellicoe Road, this award-winner revolves around Taylor, who is found by Hannah six years prior to the start of the book, solving the mystery of where her friend Hannah has gone. The only clue she's got is an old manuscript about five kids who lived in the town eighteen years earlier. There's also a lot more going on like a territory war and why Taylor was abandoned in the first place and what happened to her family members, and this one will leave you begging for more (seriously SO GOOD). 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Choosing My Next Read: A Discussion

Today I wanted to talk about a little something different.
TBR piles.

I see a lot of people posting pictures and posts of their monthly or weekly TBR piles, and I always think, "I'm going to do that!"

And then I don't.

Because here's what will happen:
I'll get the books pulled out of my meticulously sorted shelves, they'll sit on my nightstand for a month while I decide I'm not in the mood to read any of those, and then I'll eventually take a deep breath and put them all back where they go.

I've tried to organize some sort of method, and I do actually focus on newer releases, but when it comes to picking out a book to read, I'm totally a mood reader and I decide 100% in the moment what I'm going to pull of my shelf.
Which results in my TBR pile just being my bookshelves in my room. AKA a LOT of books.

This is a really short post with not really a giant point, but I was wondering if all bloggers plan out what they're going to read, or are you like me and just grab whatever you feel like reading?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Double Kingdom: The Selection and The Elite Reviews

I read both of these so quickly, it only makes sense to pair them together for a review. I'll try and keep it mostly spoiler-free, and I'll only put the description of the first one below so it won't ruin things for you.
And so you know, I'm 100%, without a doubt, Team Maxon. :)

The Selection and The Elite by Kiera Cass
Release Date: April 24, 2012 and April 23, 2013
Publisher: Harper Teen
Keywords: royalty, competition, dystopia
Format Read: Hardcover purchased (#1) and library book (#2)
Book Depository #1 | Book Depository #2

I did NOT expect to love these books as much as I did. I mean, I thought I was done with dystopian stuff, but this series was so different from the rest. It wasn't dark and gloom and secret crazy rebellion. I mean, a little of that exists. But it's under the premise of a royal competition, where the prince basically has his pick of 35 girls, and by the end of the selection process, he'll have chosen a wife. So on top of the anarchy and chaos that is this futuristic world, there are also parties and pretty dresses and some sense of normalcy even though this could not be further from anything I've experienced.

The world-building was what truly got me. There were historical aspects to it, and Cass let the reader in on EXACTLY how the country got to be in the state that it was, and we got to witness America (the girl, not the country) discovering for herself secrets about the place in which she grew up and thought she knew. This aspect alone will make me hurl the books at your head if you haven't read them.

And now for the people. Oh, yes, the people. I'm going to start with the friendships and we'll ease our way into the love triangle debacle. Marley was one of the competitors in the selection with America, and she was my favorite. They instantly bonded and had an excellent friendship that was just so wonderful to read about. And there are things that happened that made me feel things and made me love Marley so much more once I read the second one, and I cannot wait to see her again.
And here we go. There's Aspen, and there's Maxon. Aspen is the hometown love interest that's supposed to be the "follow your heart" branch of this. And there's Maxon, who, shortly into book one, proves to America that he's actually a really good guy, and they form a really great bond. So there's a whole lot of reasons why America is in the competition, and helping her family secure financial stability is one of them. Why she's still pining after Aspen who pushes her to participate in the selection in the first place is beyond me, especially when she's doing so well with Maxon and helping her family and doing so many good things and has such an amazing opportunity.
But I digress. I'm forever Team Maxon, unless something CRAZY happens in The One.

And I am so impatiently waiting for The One to not be checked out at the library (I'm on hold for it, but I feel like I'm dying) so I can read it in about a day ECSTATIC because I just received a notice it's at the library, and I may already have it read by the time this post goes live. Seriously, I devoured these books.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Book Drinks: In the Lap of Luxury

In a couple days my review (it's a double feature) will be up basically gushing for several paragraphs about how into The Selection Series I am. And while I (very) impatiently wait for The One to arrive back at the library so I can go snatch it, I thought I would feature it in a Friday Book Drinks!

Just look how regal this cover is! And throughout the course of the series, America and the other contestants are put through events and fancy dinners, and they even have to plan a party themselves once.

This is Elderflower Champagne, and I think it's one of the most sophisticated-looking and tasting drinks out there, and I can totally see the contestants at one of the Queen's gatherings sipping this light and airy cocktail.

St. Germain (a delicate French liqueur made of elderflower blossoms)
Thinly sliced cucumber (garnish)
Fresh mint (garnish)

 It's very simple, and all you need to do is to fill a tumblr with ice and fill it 3/4 up with champagne. It's topped off with the St. Germain and garnishes to give it the light and airy taste. Next you can put on your fantastic ball gown and waltz on over to the palace and have this drink alongside the royal family. You know, if you can. Which I can't. :( Always sad to not be part of royalty.

What do you think about this drink and book? Any other fancy-pants drinks that would go well too?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Topics Time: Teenage Pregnancy

This post started out as a throwback Thursday where I featured books that already came out focusing around a specific topic, but I'm switching the name around (because I'm indecisive).

Welcome to Topics Time, where I give you a few recommendations based on a particular topic for the week, including new releases and some older backlisted books you can find for cheap or at your library if you're on a budget. This week's discussion? Teenage Pregnancy!

I'll be the first to admit, this is actually a topic that may make me put a book back on the shelf (gasp!). I'm not entirely sure why, but it's always seemed like a topic that I just don't want to read about. But, I have found some that steer clear of the stereotypes (that seem to exist in my head of how those books normally go), and these are definitely eye-catchers for interesting and unique stories.

1. Mothership by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal
Teen mothers plus spaceships and aliens? Yes, I am completely serious. Not only do I LOVE having this gorgeous book on my shelves (the cover is so bright, I am in love with all of it), it's without a doubt one of the weirdest plots in a book ever—in the coolest possible way. Elvie is a teen who accidentally gets pregnant and shipped off to a special school for pregnant young women aboard a spaceship. Yep. That's the plot. And then there are extraterrestrial beings trying to take over the ship and steal the unborn babies. How could you NOT want to read this?

2. Fingerprints of You by Kristen-Paige Madonia
I don't know if I ever really looked at this one when I first received it for review, but after seeing a ton of good feedback, I finally picked it up and ended up loving this. I've got a review of this one, and it was such a pleasantly surprising book. It follows a girl named Lemon (coolest name ever, by the way), and she finds out she's pregnant—the kicker is the father? He's a guy her mom has been flirting with. There's also a road trip with her best friend involved, and her best friend is one of the coolest characters I've read about in a while. It's a great book about growing up, dealing with family, and friendships made to last.

3. The Paradox of Vertical Flight by Emil Ostrovski
I also reviewed this one a while back, and wow, did it take me by surprise. It follows the young boy, the father, instead of the mother, which is such an interesting perspective. She's planning on giving the baby up for adoption, but right after the child is born, our MC goes to visit and impromptu-ly kidnaps the baby and names him Socrates, beginning the road trip/car chase of a lifetime. It's full of funny/insightful/weird philosophical questions and wonderings, and it's truly hilarious moments on Jack's insane road trip.

4. Crank by Ellen Hopkins
I read this in high school when it first came out, and I remember being shocked by this book. My friends and I all passed a copy around, and we could not get enough. Hopkins' books are all written in verse (so the 600 pages actually fly by, since there's only a few stanzas on each page), and they are emotionally captivating, honest, and draining. This particular series follows a young girl and her battle with crystal meth, and other things crop up like her outgoing, outlandish alter-ego, dangerous boys, and the pregnancy that follows.

And there is a reason one of Hopkins' books is on the list! As I was cleaning my shelf, I discovered a long-forgotten extra ARC of Ellen Hopkins' Tricks, and I want to give it away to one of you! It's US only (sorry, I'm poor), and just fill out the rafflecopter below!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dystopia Fever: The Murder Complex Review

I participated in a pseudo-blog tour with this one—essentially it was just a bunch of bloggers who all passed the ARC around, and it was a lot of fun! It was organized by Brittany at the Book Addict's Guide, and you should go check her site out because she does a lot of cool signups!

The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings
Release Date: June 10, 2014
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Pages: 398
Keywords: dystopia, murder, family
Format Read: ARC
Book Depository | Goodreads
Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision.
The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?
I'd heard a lot of cool things about this one, and I was stoked (wow, haven't used THAT word since my angsty high school days) to finally be able to read it. And it was good, don't get me wrong, I just felt a bit "Haven't we seen this before?"

It may be more of an "it's me" case, in that I think I'm done with dystopia for a while. There was a pretty interesting question that started the whole thing. The basic premise is what happens when our super smart society eradicates disease entirely and no one dies ever? The solution, for them, was the murder complex, and there's a whole lot of explanation that comes later in the book, but all Meadow knows at the beginning is that people are murdered in the streets on certain nights and she has to hide with her family and keep them alive to avoid being killed.

The concept was really interesting, but there was quite a bit of the insta-connection-love stuff (like, the guy sees her once, and thinks he may love her even though she's crazy and murderous and won't talk to him). This kind of turned me off to that plot line, and since I wasn't a big fan of Zephyr anyway, it was hard for me to root for them since it was such a sudden love interest.

I really loved Koi (her brother) and (her sister, but I'm forgetting her name, someone help me please!), and I loved their family dynamic. Koi failed to get a job earlier in his life, and this causes a lot of stress for him since he's older and supposed to be providing for his family. There was another character, Orion, whom Meadow meets on the job, and she reminded me of Jane Lynch's character in Wreck It Ralph (anyone who's seen it and read this book, tell me it's so right. That's what I was picturing the entire time). She's a hard ass who doesn't take shit from anyone and whips Meadow into shape, and I loved having her around.

There were things I liked, which is why I want to say this was a good book. It was. But with my personal blinders on now, I think I need to take a break from dystopian books for a while because they seem to have all the same qualities. Teen girl chosen to overthrow crazy government society who thinks they're helping but actually they're not, plus a romance thrown in for good measure.

Read When: If you're into dystopian, this is a good one to pick up. It's got some fun characters and a lot of fast movement. But, if you're like me and a bit tired of this strain of books, hold off for a while until you're really ready for it.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Celebrity Status: Now & Forever

Now & Forever by Susane Colasanti
Release Date: May 20, 2014
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Pages: 272
Keywords: romance, celebrities, music
Format Read: ARC via publisher in exchange for honest review
Book Depository | Goodreads
What if your boyfriend was the world's biggest rockstar?
Sterling is crazy in love with Ethan. Not only is he the sweetest boy she's ever met, but he's an incredibly talented guitarist, singer, and songwriter. And since forever, he's believed he has what it takes to be a star.
When Ethan becomes an overnight sensation, he's thrown head-first into the glam world of celebrity-and so is Sterling. Before she knows it, she's attending red-carpet premieres, getting free designer clothes, and flying around the country to attend Ethan's monumental sold-out concerts.
It's a dream come true...but whose dream is Sterling living? And what do you do when "forever" comes to an end?
This was my first book by the author (even though she's got a ton of cute-looking contemporaries out), and I was not disappointed.

Each chapter begins with the number of Ethan's followers, which I loved. It was such an interesting way of measuring time and how much has happened since the last chapter, and it really brought a whole different look to how I read the sections.

What stood out the most out of this book was the characters. They were detailed and real and had personalities I really came to understand and know. Though I didn't love every aspect (the MC emailed authors to tell them about typos in their books. That would make me feel TERRIBLE as an author, and yes, I do notice typos everywhere, but I would never tell an author about a typo in their book), I really loved that they were real and emotional and flawed. I also loved Sterling's best friend Georgia (though she made some stupid mistakes too), and her love of plants and wildlife was adorable.

There were a couple things that kept me from loving this book more than I did, including the ever present instalove. There were some things that happened, and I thought the beginning of the book was timed very well, but all of the sudden it felt like things were way more advanced than they were (you'll know what I mean if you've read it).

There were also a couple of ramblings that didn't really seem to fit well where they were in the book. Some of the paragraphs just didn't flow to the next, and I felt like there was a lot of info-dumping, especially in the very beginning.

Read When: This was a quick one, and it's good for when you don't really want to think about anything and get away for a few hours with some fun characters and some fun reading.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Book Drinks: Southern Sass

Inspired by a recent trip to the library in which I finally scored a copy of Rachel Hawkins' Rebel Belle, this week's Friday Book Drinks is all about pearls, girls, and glam.

This is one I haven't personally read yet, but now that I've got a copy, I'm going to start as soon as possible. From what I gather from descriptions, it's the story of a classic Southern Belle (yes, they're still around) who, at a dance, runs into the whole issue that she's a guardian with powers, and she's been charged to protect the guy she hates most in school. Well, of course things happen, and I anticipate some romantic-y things going on shortly afterward.

To celebrate, here's the Southern Belle-ini! (Cute name, right?) To make it (and by it, I mean SIX servings. So be prepared to have some friends over), you'll need the following:

1 can frozen PiƱa Colada Mix 
½ cup light rum
½ cup peach rum
1 1/2 cup raspberries
1/3 cup lemon juice
5 cups of ice
6 raspberries for garnishes
6 mint sprigs for garnishes 
(I always include the garnishes on the lists, but when I make drinks I'm WAY too lazy for that shit, so use at your own risk)

Literally, throw everything except the garnishes into a blender and mix until smooth. THAT'S IT. So easy, and if you blend til it's smooth, you should get a nice little foam on top that gives the top of the glass a light pink fluffy quality to it.

I picked this (other than its obvious cuteness and pinkness) because I can just imagine Southern Belles in dresses chilling on their porches in Savannah sipping this in the afternoon. Can't you picture it, too? Seems so perfect. You know, until they've got to get up and fight stuff and protect people.

And though I haven't read it yet, this was a quote from Goodreads I really enjoyed and got a good laugh out of it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones Review

Illusive by Emily-Lloyd Jones
Publication Date: July 15, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Pages: 416
Keywords:supernatural, superhero, suspense, dystopia
Format Read: ARC via Goodreads FirstReads
Add It: Goodreads
Get It: Book Depository
When the MK virus swept across the planet, a vaccine was created to stop the epidemic, but it came with some unexpected side effects. A small percentage of the population developed superhero-like powers. Seventeen-year-old Ciere Giba has the handy ability to change her appearance at will. She's what's known as an illusionist...She's also a thief.
After a robbery goes awry, Ciere must team up with a group of fellow super-powered criminals on another job that most would consider too reckless. The formula for the vaccine that gave them their abilities was supposedly destroyed years ago. But what if it wasn't?
The lines between good and bad, us and them, and freedom and entrapment are blurred as Ciere and the rest of her crew become embroiled in a deadly race against the government that could cost them their lives.
I was lucky enough to get a beautiful signed ARC of this book waaaaay back in February, and I knew I needed to read it before it was published. It just has that quality to it from the outside. It looks like it's an intriguing book.

I read it in less than 24 hours.

Now, when I say that, clearly I was hooked. It wasn't astounding literature or groundbreaking storylines, but it was pretty damn cool. I really enjoyed the ride.

The story is pretty superhero-like. There was a virus, and to cure it, everyone in the world was administered vaccines. Of course, side effects happened. So a very small percentage of people developed supernatural powers, and there were about 8 different varieties. This is the basic premise, and there was a ton that happened on a side story, starting with a bank robbery and escalating to a full-on government/criminal battle that has you rooting for the bad guys (aka NOT the government).It was fast-paced and thoroughly enjoyable to watch the action unfold. The descriptions and actions were so quick I could actually picture it and did as I read (which is something that really doesn't happen very often).

There's Ciere, who develops this kind of superpower quality and she's called an Illusive, which means she can pull up illusions around herself and basically become anyone else or invisible, depending on the situation. My big issue with her is that she made some really stupid mistakes. And I know, flawed characters are better. However, she was a seasoned robber and used to running around and avoiding the law and staying under the radar. And then she would do something so colossally idiotic I found myself wondering how she even survived before. But that's okay because it was still fun to read.

My favorite was Devon, her eidetic-memory sidekick.They worked extremely well as a team, and I really wanted to see him develop more as a character. There were several others in the gang, but they didn't receive a ton of stage time, something I was quite sad about.

The action in this book gets an A+. That's what really stuck out by the end and is the most memorable about this, and that's what will keep you flipping the pages.

Read When: You want to go see a superhero movie but there's not one out yet. You'll also need a chunk of time because the story is confusing if you stop and start again. You'll forget what was going on. (Not that it happened to me or anything...)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

10 Interactive Reading Experiences

1. “Cathy’s Book: If Found Call 650–266–¬8233” by Jordan Weisman, Sean Stewart, and Cathy Brigg

Originally published in 2006, Cathy’s Book, on the surface, seems like the diary of a teenage girl. But once you open the cover, the cold, hard evidence falls right into your lap, and you’re hooked. Chinese restaurant menus, phone numbers, and websites, all contain very real information and real voicemail responses pertinent to the story. Cathy is ultimately trying to figure out why her boyfriend dumped her, but when you start to dig into the facts, it turns out there is more going on than just a sour break-up.

The story is still going strong into the newer technology with its app readers can download to solve the mystery on the go. And the authors even expanded it into a trilogy to maximize the amount of detective work you can truly get your hands on.

2. S by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

From the outside, though, you won’t be able to find the book from that title. No, what you need to look for is “Ship of Theseus” by V.M. Straka. Confused? So am I.
What looks like a century-old library book is actually Abrams’ and Dorst’s creation of a story within a story—the ultimate framed novel. It revolves around two college students, originally strangers to each other, writing notes back and forth in a textbook they use for class. They ultimately are aiming to uncover the mystery surrounding the author of their book while readers aim to uncover the mystery of theirs. It’s no wonder there are so many questions revolving around the book—Abrams was an executive producer of “Lost,” posing just as many, if not more questions to its audience.

The book is designed to look like an unreturned library book, complete with a Dewey Decimal sticker on the spine and no publishing information other than the byline of fictional author Straka. And there are pullouts like postcards and notes on napkins that add to the multiple-story dimension. You’ll have to devote some time and brain power, but this book is not only beautiful to look at, it is an outstanding work of literature.

3. The Lizzie Bennett Diaries

For fans of the classics—Jane Austen, in particular—look no further than this modern adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice.” Developed by Hank Green and Bernie Su, this vlog series is a yearlong diary of Lizzie, her sisters, her best friend Charlotte, and eventually, Darcy. Filled with humor, light-heartedness, and sometimes for Lizzie, unexpected interruptions, this series is not only entertaining, but it’s different enough that you won’t feel like you’re reading the exact same story over and over again.

The series originally premiered in 2010 and concluded at its 100th episode, but the story didn’t necessarily end there. Lovers of the written word, don’t worry. The book form of this modern-day classic re-vamp just hit shelves this summer.

4. Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman

It’s written as a young adult book, but I got scared as I clicked around on the Sarah Fincher website. It’s more of an adventure/ghost story than an average teen book. This series comes riddled with passwords and information to get you past the home screen on the site, ultimately unlocking Blair-Witch-Project-style videos made by two teens trying to solve a town mystery.

The plot centers on Ryan and Sarah exploring the “Dredge,” an abandoned seabed-like quarry that is haunted by the ghost of “Old Joe Bush.” There’s a lot of trying to keep the kids away after Ryan breaks his leg, so not only are the teens spotting and running from ghosts, but they also have to hide from their parents and forest rangers.

The passwords are pretty impossible to guess, so doing it as an interactive book experience is the best way to get the full effect. And a warning: This is actually pretty spooky, so unless you’re really brave, only do the video portions in the daylight with witnesses nearby.

5. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

Another story-inside-a-story mystery, this one doesn’t so much involve external components like the others, it is more just the way readers interact with the book while reading it that makes it unique. Photojournalist Will and his family move into a small town and discover their house is smaller on the outside than it is on the inside. More problems ensue when their children wander off and their voices begin to replay another buried story. And all this is being uncovered by the actual narrator of the book.

But on top of the creepy setting and creepy children’s voices, the physical book is an experience in itself. Between the vertical footnotes, the colored text, and the one-word pages toward the back half of the book, you’ve got to be sure you’re ready to flip and move the book so you can read all the words. An adventure story at heart, this book is also an adventure itself because of its physical nature and your need to be physical with the book.

6. The Amanda Project by Melissa Kantor

Begun in 2009 as an Internet scavenger hunt of sorts, the Amanda Project was published into a tangible book by Harper Collins in the same year. The website began with 150 beta testers but quickly grew to incorporate thousands of contributors. The eventual goal was to find the missing fictional Amanda, and the way to do that was through thousands of people’s stories, artwork, comments, and theories about the character. Melissa Kantor penned the books under the impression that Callie, one of Amanda’s friends, was telling her the story as she went.

The book series ends up answering questions that were posed as the story was originally unfolding in 2009, but it is still interesting if you haven’t read the books yet. There are additional forums with conspiracy theories about mysteries even the books didn’t solve for some readers and contributors, as well as some introductory posts if you want to join in on the fun.

7. Loser Queen

A loser shooting up to stardom is what drives the plot for Jodi Lynn Anderson’s “Loser Queen.” And in true Pretty Little Liars fashion, the main character, Cammy, keeps getting mysterious texts leading her straight to the most popular kids’ secrets, and suddenly Cammy is face-to-face with possibilities.

The interactive portion on this one is a little more elusive now, but in 2010 when the project began, every Monday, readers could read a new update from Cammy and vote on her next decision. In December 2010, the final book was published so readers could see all their chosen options in true story format. The official site is down now, but you can still see the trailer, and it’s still a fun book to read knowing that the ultimate outcome was determined solely by its participants.

8. Spellspinner series by Heidi Kling

Most of these so far in the list have been already published, but here’s one you can participate in right now. Only three of nine planned books are published, and they’re adult versions of choose-your-own-ending books. In this fantasy series, witch and warlock covens in California have been sparring for a century. 16-year-olds Lily and Logan meet in a sort of Romeo-and-Juliet-esque storyline, and the books take off from there. The series starter is currently free for Kindle, so head there quickly to get started in this immersive experience.

There are points throughout the e-book reading experience that allow you to decide where you want to go next, and by the time you hit book three, these answers will be saved and sent to the publisher and author. Coliloquy books are networked, which means the authors can see readers’ decisions and use these to guide future installments of the series.

9. Trackers by Patrick Carman

For those interested in a gaming atmosphere combined with stories, Trackers is the right series for you. Though it is marketed as a children’s book, the complicated games, missions, and puzzles prove it’s not too easy for adults, either. The concept is to catch a mastermind thief, and along the way, readers are given challenges to complete, whether it’s watching “encrypted” videos or beating the thief out at a mind-bender on the computer.

The books are written in the form of an interview with a detective, so it’s a lot like approaching the topic as the information is unfolding inside the police station. A team of Trackers is infiltrated, and they’re out to catch the perp. And rather than solely sticking to one alternative form, Carman has used text, video, and games to combine his story into one, cohesive hunt for the hacker.

10. This is Not Tom

Possibly the strangest and most complex of interactive reading experiences is published in a series of websites titled “This Is Not Tom." In 2009, John Green (yes, THAT John Green, author of the Fault in Our Stars) published a quick narrative on his website calling nerdfighteria to help him with a series of online riddles. And these were no ordinary riddles—some took days and thousands of people to solve together. There are even forums with detailed discussions because of the confusing and complex nature of the project. Turns out, the creator behind the riddles, Alexander Basalyga, a student at Penn State, made them for fun. After Green received a series of strange emails from a mysterious woman and participated in an even more unsettling Skype interview, he decided to start penning a short novella around the woman’s story and hide it in the riddles.

Sound insane? Even Green thought so. Apparently, after dozens of messages from a woman claiming to have no access to her own identity and experiencing virtual-reality encounters with David Foster Wallace, Green contacted Basalyga, and the two began to draft her story behind the riddles. After a series of daunting puzzles is solved, chapters of the novella are unlocked, and readers can explore the strange non-reality of YFN (Your Faithful Narrator), the main character. And it’s John Green, and everyone is looking for something else to read from this astounding novelist.

Have you read any of these? I just downloaded the Spellspinner Book 1, so I plan on giving that a go soon!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Missing Information: The Half Life of Molly Pierce Review

I'm going to start this review off with a little story. This book showed up in my mailbox from HarperTeen and EpicReads a few weeks ago, and aside from having seen the cover before, I knew very little about it. But I really loved the cover, so I wanted to start it right away because I am FINALLY (sort of) caught up enough on books that I can read things when they come out instead of months after.

This wasn't one of those instances I sped through a book in one sitting. Oh, I wanted to. But I had to take breaks because I was so invested. All I wanted to do was think about this story and these characters. So I savored it. I wanted to be in suspense for as long as possible.

And it was so worth it.

The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno
Publication Date: July 8, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 240
Keywords: suspense, mystery, psychological
Format Read: Hardcover from publisher (thanks!)
Add It: Goodreads
For all of her seventeen years, Molly feels like she’s missed bits and pieces of her life. Now, she’s figuring out why. Now, she’s remembering her own secrets. And in doing so, Molly uncovers the separate life she seems to have led…and the love that she can’t let go.
I cannot say enough wonderful things about this book, and I haven't seen a whole lot of people talking about it as of now (it's late June as I'm writing this, but I'm hoping for more reviews and promos as it gets closer to release day).

This was beautifully written, spaced out with narratives and time gaps and the story Molly is trying to piece together because she can't remember her own life. She can't remember the people in it or things she's done or where she's gone. And the prose is gorgeous. The bits that struck me the most were the repetitive statements she told herself but they changed ever so slightly as the novel went on.

The struggle in Molly's head was astounding, and it was so real and raw, and I felt truly connected to her even though I've never had periods of my life I can't remember. But she struggles with a lot, and I was so invested in her and how she would evolve that this book was all I wanted to think about for days. And it wasn't a particularly long book, but I really tried to make it last a bit because I didn't want to leave the story.

I really don't want to say too much else about it for fear of ruining some of the wonderful surprises. So I'm going to stop here.

Read When: It just came out today, so go get yourself a copy now. Like, right now. These Barnes and Noble copies are really cheap for a new hardback.