Something Strange & Deadly Book Club: Week One

SS&D book club

Over at Epic Reads, a new book club read is chosen each month. For August, Epic Read’s pick is one of my favorite comfort books: Susan Dennard’s Something Strange & Deadly. Well, Susan decided to spice up this month’s SS&D fun by hosting her own book club, and by adding A Darkness Strange & Lovely and prizes into the mix as well. Each week is an opportunity to win other great books–including signed hardcovers!–as well as a participatory prize of A Dawn Most Wicked or a deleted scene from A Darkness Strange & Lovely. Read more about it here and sign up if you like!

I had lots of fun answering both discussion questions this week (they were both too interesting, and I had things to say!), which you can read below the cut: Continue reading

ARC Review: Skin by Donna Jo Napoli

SkinSkin by Donna Jo Napoli
Release date: August 6th, 2013
| GoodreadsB&NThe Book Depository |
My rating: ★★☆☆☆

I should know better than to read a Donna Jo Napoli ARC. I really should, and now I am kicking myself in the shin with my other foot for requesting it. What possessed me? Because now I am left to write a negative review for a book that sounded interesting but disappointed me as a reader—and I knew it would. Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I knew. It goes back to Napoli’s 2006 novel, Bound. I must have read this book when I was nine or ten years old, and Xing Xing’s story only had me half-absorbed. I wasn’t engrossed, but it is a light book that I did enjoy. Fast-forward to a couple of years later, however, and I found myself disappointed upon revisiting the same book. Bound, I discovered, is a book that tells a simple yet unoriginal story that lacks in profoundness. It was no longer this fanciful Cinderella re-telling I had cooked up in my head, and I wished to never pick up another book by Donna Jo Napoli.

But is it fair to base the entirety of an author’s work on one book? A book from seven years ago, no less? It’s safe to assume that Napoli’s craft in storytelling has matured since—that is what I told myself. I’d seen a few bloggers talking excitedly about Napoli’s books, and their excitement did a bad thing: it infected me. I was eager to read Napoli’s books. Me. Little old me—with a sad habit of scrutinizing literature—felt excited, and I ignored that twinkling sensation that said, “Warning: Approach with caution.”

This was bad. But not as bad as the situation Sep finds herself in.

I’ve been telling myself vitiligo is just a lack of coloring, so no matter how far it goes, it can’t look that bad. But it does. I can’t understand how—but it does. It’s revolting. A little shiver hums inside me, elusive and eerie.

Normally, I would be ashamed of myself for thinking this way, for being such a shallow jerk. In fact, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t think this at all. Normally, I would have empathy. If it weren’t me, I could look and be kind, charitable. But it is me.

On the first day back to school, high schooler Giuseppina, or simply “Sep,” awakens to white lips. No amount of scrubbing, waiting, and hoping will make the whiteness go away, as Sep soon discovers that vitiligo is taking over. What she does learn, however, is the lengths she will go to hide it. Her condition is nothing a little lipstick and clothing can’t cover, until it begins mapping her skin is places she can’t conceal: the palm of her hand, her neck, her face… Shaken with fear and embarrassment, Sep feels desperate to make her skin’s white patches revert to normal—and angry that they won’t. In Sep’s eyes, vitiligo has won, for once it becomes too wide-spread to mask, it will have doomed to her a loveless, lonely life.

As the saying goes, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. It’s skin-deep. But isn’t it easier to believe this when addressing other people’s flaws and not your own? I’m like Sep: a person who can sympathize and empathize. I’m not a shallow jerk who stares at and makes fun of someone for the way she or he looks, and I certainly don’t think any less of that person. Yet, if I were in Sep’s shoes, I’d feel horrified, angry, terribly unlucky, and self-conscious, because my appearance matters to me. I relate to Sep in this way, yet worrying about her looks and trying to keep vitilgo hidden is the novel, and this is not the story I had hoped to read.

Skin is difficult for me to review, as I am torn between the story I had imagined versus the story Donna Jo Napoli has written. Not only does Sep waste too much time trying to cover up her condition, she spends it rushing to experience love and romance before it’s too late—before vitiligo conquers her body, because no one will want love her then. If she can’t love herself, who else will? The novel, overall, carries a noble message within its pages—that beauty and love go deeper than surface appearances—yet it’s a cliché sitting on top of a weak story. While Napoli’s message is an important one to learn, I don’t buy it. Not here, not for Sep.

I can’t just look to others to be kind to me. I can’t control that. I have to learn how to be kind to myself. To the animal that is me. To this body. This skin. This me.

The rational part of me knows that this is the job ahead.

It sounds so simple.

The world is a giant deception. Hardly anything is simple.

But for Sep, it does seem simple.

Through most of the novel, Sep focuses on covering up vitiligo with lipstick, cream, clothing, and lies, and within four chapters I am to believe that she reaches an overnight understanding of what it means to love oneself? Sep stops battling her skin and finds inner-peace in return. No doubt some people in this world, like Sep, quickly discover equanimity—however temporary—or a deeper-than-skin acceptance of who they are. I am not one of those people, and I know that feeling comfortable in my own body is easier said than felt. What I think of Skin doesn’t amount to very much, as the shallow storyline limits its own power and ability to move readers, but I am disappointed. I’m disappointed that it took over 300 pages for Sep to accept herself. I’m disappointed by how suddenly, and so simply, she overcomes this nightmare she fights against for months. I wish Sep came to this realization sooner in the story, as quarreling against the public perception of beauty—and still learning to accept oneself—beats a story about trying (and failing) to blend with the herd.

Thank you to NetGalley and Amazon Children’s Publishing for providing a free copy of Skin in exchange for my honest review.

The Dusty Bookshelf Challenge

Most of every year is routine, for each autumn, winter, and spring is much the same: class, assignment, work, class, assignment, work, read, read, read, drown in textbook, scream. Study for exams. Stab exams with pencils. Read, read, read. …Drown in textbook. Stab textbook. Hit textbook. Kill textbook. Scream. Battle-cry. Victory-yell. I’m not a violent person, and books are my most valued items, but hobby-reading doesn’t reside on the same level as school-reading. Believe me when I say I wouldn’t feel the smallest drop of rage or regret if one my textbooks was ripped apart. I’d revel in the highest merriment. Who cares if they cost hundreds of dollars? As any student knows, unless you enjoy studying, to constantly absorb yourself in a textbook for exams becomes taxing. It’s wearing, and it’s dull–especially if the content is dull. While school-reading drives me batty, hobby-reading balances my crazy with just enough sanity.  Where I run in to  trouble is when school and other matters seep into the untainted parts of my life. Downtime gets slaughtered, coping mechanisms poof, and chaos erupts like Godzilla on an endless rampage.

beauty & beast gaston no picturesThat’s what happened to me this spring. It was one class–one, measly class–that tossed me overboard. My tolerance for stress shrunk to an inch as my work ethic deteriorated. I am so done, I said. Done, done, done. This one class broke me, possibly for the best. When I go back to school, it will not be to finish my science pre-requisites–and yet! While medical anthropology gave me enough backbone and fury to quit doing what I don’t want to do career-wise, it almost killed my love for reading. …But not my love of books.

You see, I’m a book hoarder. I get such a thrill in purchasing and borrowing books a little more than I do reading books, so by the time summer comes and school’s exhausted me, I don’t read. Scratch that. I do read, but not nearly as much as I would like. What’s worse are my bookshelves, or more specifically, what is on my bookshelves. Unread books upon unread books, and the collection only aggregates.

Right before the New Year, I vowed to several bookish resolutions–challenging myself. I immediately broke my promise not to buy books unless I intended to read them shortly after buying them. (I mean, it is kind of difficult to read all 16+ books purchased in one month, and then the 20+ books brought home from the library…) This only adds to my owned-but-unread books problem. If anyone recalls, I also challenged myself to read at least five books that I own, and not to involve myself in more than three reading challenges. I’ve kept good on the latter, but I’ve managed to read two books from my personal collection–excluding purchases I instantly read.

I hope to change this. Really. Enter the Dusty Bookshelf 2013 Challenge. This challenge is for anyone who has let books sit on his or her shelves for too long, or even to tackle unowned books that have found a long-term residence on a to-read list.  If you’re interested, sign up by joining the Goodreads group or by commenting on this post–don’t forget to link your own blog post, however, that includes the Dusty Bookshelf badge with a list of books you’d like to read! In all, there are four levels to choose from:

  • Pixie Dust: 0-5 books
  • Dust Bunny: 5-10 books
  • Cobwebs: 10-15 books
  • Grungy: 20+ books

Because it’s late in the year and I do have a number of books-for-review I need to clear, I am aiming for the Pixie Dust level. A list of books I want to read can be found here, as it’s also where I will keep track of my progress. (Although my goal is to read between zero to five books, I listed ten for variety’s sake.)

Happy reading, everyone! I hope your TBR piles are tamer than mine.

the dusy bookshelf

Comforting your sick, lazy self + Twitter

What a fancy seeing me here! I’ve kept quiet for almost the entirety of July, I am well aware. Blogging sat in the back of mind for a couple of weeks, and then it invaded my conscience and found a voice. It said things like, “Post!” and “Review!” and I said, “No.” After leaving one of the more stressful school years behind this spring, I felt I deserved a break. I was done. Kaput. Out of energy. I wanted a vacation from cramped schedules and due dates and ARC reading. Well, I cannot do anything about the books I’ve received for review, but I did–clearly–go away for a short while. It wasn’t all fun: I first came down with a two-week bug followed by a bout of laziness, or you might say my two-week bug was laziness followed by more laziness.

medical conditional called laziness

During this great period of Doing Nothing, I read a bit of this book and that book, watched a show here and there… Which made me think: I love comfort books. But not only that. I also love TV shows and movies for comfort, especially ones I can watch on repeat a hundred times. In every sense of the word, I am a book nerd, though I’d be lying if I said I don’t love sitting in front of the screen for hours just a bit more than reading.

comfort reading

If I feel flu-ish or like a couch potato, I become drawn to certain books that meet certain criteria. When sick, there is no chance I’ll seek a book weighted in politics, intricate plots, and complex storylines. All of these qualities, when brought to life by good writing, can make an excellent piece of literature, but who wants that with a fogged brain? I demand light and simple yet interesting. I don’t want a book whose plot flies ten feet above my ability to grasp it, but I don’t want a book that puts me to sleep either. To name some personal favorites, I compiled a few lists…

1. I love a book that can wow me. A book that’s unique, emotionally compelling, and intelligent. My reading, however, should never be restricted to “smart” or “impressive” novels–reading should be fun, and that entails rehashed plots or predictability equally as much as it entails originality. So long as the reader enjoys the book, who cares?  Straight-forward books that offer non-complex world-building often become some of my favorite comfort material, and here are only a select number of preferred light reading:

anna

*Anna & The French Kiss and I didn’t get off on good footing the first time around, but now–well, yes. I understand the book’s appeal. I understood it the first time I read it, but that understanding is now on par with zealous fans. I’m not a zealous fan–just to be clear–but I like this novel for how simple and light it proves to be. It’s predictable with the perfect about of fluff and drama, and once you accept Anna & the French Kiss for it is, you just might like it, too

2. One word: manga!

Ladies & Gentlemen: Mikasa Ackerman of Shingeki no Kyojin & why she's top BAMF. You are welcome.

Ladies & Gentlemen: Mikasa Ackerman of Shingeki no Kyojin & why she’s top BAMF. You are welcome.

I stand before you at the cusp of entering a manga obsession. I’ve never been a manga person, as I can count on one hand the number of manga I’ve read before this week (two). Having finished EVERYTHING that is currently available of Shingeki no Kyojin (SNK/Attack on Titan), I died. Then, upon realizing that SNK is not the only manga out there, I undied and began my search. I’m brand new at this–a beginner. I can’t provide a decent recommendation list, but I will say that–just like any novel–manga storylines are either complex or simple.  Not all are mind-blowing or likable, but the added bonus of a good manga artist and writer (not to forget: a good translator) make even the sophisticated plots fairly comprehensible. I appreciate this.

e7: blue mondaySo on that note:

*The Eureka 7 manga is an adaption of the original anime show of the same name. Between the two, I highly recommend the anime.

3. Those books I will re-read and re-read and… re-read…

When it comes to reading, my biggest problem is allowing myself to get swept up in one book only to be distracted by three more. I don’t accomplish too many re-reads for this reason, but the aforementioned titles are books I will re-read in an instant. They remain as some of my personal favorites, and I give high praise to each. Whenever I’m down with a cold, this is a handful of what I reach for on my shelf.

Fact: Something Strange & Deadly is my favorite comfort book to re-read. At four read-throughs, it’s my second-most read book (only topped by A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness).

film preview

Maybe it’s because I’m a nostalgic person–or perhaps it’s because I loved my mother’s pampering when I was little–but when I’m sick or avoiding chores, I seek things which define my childhood: Spice Girls, Harry Potter, Disney, and well…

1. “Family-fun movies”

2. Shows that know a good time…

Unless you’re my grandmother who solely lives for Lifetime movies, there is a high chance you will enjoy these shows. I will watch every single episode back-to-back–recycle and repeat; no rinse.

*Now, bumping into people who refuse to watch ATLA is almost as frustrating as discovering people who deny watching it. If you think you’re too old for ATLA and LOK, if you think you’re too old for anything animated, then get out of my face or prepare to be agni kai’d off this planet. I will burn you into ashes of shame and humiliation from which you will never rise. Insulting these shows is outrageous. It’s blasphemous. You don’t stomp over a sacred creation without consequence. Thank and bless Michael Dimartino and Bryan Konietzko, amen.

atla water tribe

Speaking of, Korra’s second season is coming this September! Who else feels excited?

3. Re-visiting a few more childhood favorites…

I am sorry? You don’t like Pokémon or Sailor Moon? We cannot be friends.

twitterYes, I am now on Twitter. Maybe? I am here! But, uh, not tweeting. I am intelligent enough to create a Twitter account, but I am not intelligent enough to tweet. Standby as I finish Twitter for Dummies. In the meantime, drop me a comment, because feed is superbly boring when there’s no one to spam it.

Tell me: What are your favorite shows and books to revisit?

ARC Review: Extremities by David Lubar

ExtremitiesExtremities: Stories of Death, Murder, and Revenge by David Lubar
Release date: July 23rd, 2013
| GoodreadsB&NThe Book Depository |
My rating: ★★☆☆☆

I’m a person who avoids horror. Not because horror scares me, but because it bores me, and if it doesn’t bore me, it frustrates me to the point where I scream at the television or the book in my hands. As a child, however, many things frightened me—scary things. Back in the glorious 1990s, Nickelodeon aired Are You Afraid of the Dark? (which I most certainly was). Kids gathered around campfire, spooking each other with ghost tales, and I will never forget the story of the haunted pool. The Tale of the Dead Man’s Float episode didn’t frighten me of ghosts or even pools; it made me fear water. Shower time? Not before it the water-monster strangles me. Take a swim? I’ll pass. Glass of water? He’s going to suffocate me from the inside!

So what does a ridiculous ‘90s show have to do with Extremities? Just like Are You Afraid of the Dark?, who will get the most enjoyment or thrills from Extremities depends on the reader. Looking back, Are You Afraid of the Dark? is as cheesy as cheesy gets. But the fact is that it still scared me and gave me an irrational fear of water. Now that I’m much older, what scares me has changed. People-eating giants makes me shiver, zombies are creepily fascinating, eerie dystopian settings horrify, and the psychological aspects to all these both terrify and excite me. Reality itself, even, can zap me dead in a second. These concepts put me in a panic—zero of which I find in Extremities—but none of this stopped me from reading Lubar’s book.

If there is one thing Lubar wants to note, it’s that “this is not a book for children.” Indeed it’s not, but I think who Extremities is most appropriate for varies. “At rare and random times, without any plan on my part,” says Lubar, “a story will emerge that is too dark, too heartless, or, dare I say it, too evil, for my young readers.” But that’s exactly it, that’s my problem. I didn’t find any of the stories within Extremities too dark, heartless, or evil. What I did find was a lack of suspense, predictable twists, and writing that wants to be smart but falls short.

When I first spied David Lubar’s Extremities, I felt a pull that I couldn’t resist. My lack of acquaintanceship with horror drew me to Lubar’s collection, as if we were a cute match but doomed to a petty break-up. While I thought I would like Extremities, the book serves as a reminder why I scarcely wander into this genre. David Lubar’s collection dances familiar paths of similar stories that have come before it. Although this doesn’t deem the book ‘poor quality,’ why didn’t the author take new turns? Hold my hand and lead me to a place I haven’t been before. Be daring and dangerous. Take risks. Whatever you do, dream beyond what’s already been done.

For each story, events flip-flop for the hero or heroine—either the character comes out the victor or victim, depending on how the story opens. Lubar’s tales take expected turns and end in likely fashion, which strips away the element of shock. Once the story reveals itself, usually paired with the title, the end becomes clear before the reader gets there. Prior to starting Extremities, I expected stories that weren’t horrifying or dark, but original ideas that held interest and surprise. These stories should have captivated me by their warped characters and by the irony of events, or at least that is what I wished for.

Well, Raya, maybe the fright doesn’t come from the conclusions. Maybe David Lubar’s point has nothing to do with unprecedented twists. I get that. Extremities is not intended to make the reader scream or spend a restless night waking from nightmares. It is intended to make the reader shudder, perhaps, at the thought of what these character do, witness, and experience. At the same time, I can’t deny that ingenuity would’ve helped improve the collection as whole. As one reader out of many, I didn’t shudder. I snickered at the irony and turn of events, and only because I saw them coming. If I wasn’t eyeballing the text with an ‘I told you so,’ I felt nearly bored. And yet… Extremities mildly entertained me.

For all that I’ve said, not everyone is doomed to have the same reaction. What Extremities needs most is the right audience—and that does not include me. There is something to be said for entertainment value, and for these reasons alone, David Lubar’s collection is one I still recommend. If haunting stories of any kind suit your fancy, then by all means, let this book find a home at your bedside and prepare to unleash some horrors from its pages.

Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for providing a free copy of Extremities in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Nicking Time by T. Traynor

Nicking TimeNicking Time by T. Traynor
Published June 1st, 2013
| GoodreadsB&NThe Book Depository |
My rating: ★★★☆☆

At first glance, Nicking Time appears to be a novel about friendship and growing up—an overdone theme, some might say, yet T. Traynor instills a vitality and refreshing youthfulness through her set of characters. Told by Midge, the story does not unfold through events, but sprawls out before the reader as the young narrator reflects on one particular summer from his childhood. What marks this summer as significant for Midge’s gang—Skooshie, Lemur, Bru, and Hector—is what comes at the end of it: change.

We know that it’s more than just an ordinary summer and that we’re expecting great things to happen. It has to be the best summer we’ve ever had because we’re all scared it’s going to be the last one. That at the end of it secondary school will swallow us up and make us different and everything might change between us.

It’s one thing to experience change the moment it hits, standing in the wake of sudden shock—life altered for better or worse. It’s a different experience to see that change coming ahead of time, and anxiety and excitement or fear fluster in a fit of stomach butterflies. Regardless of what lies ahead, so long as it’s seen beforehand, the remaining time between now and the future becomes precious. The boys sense a shift on the horizon coming to greet them, and they have every intention of making the most out of their summer vacation. With a list full of fun and adventure, their summer seems set, but is there enough time to do it all?

“So do we put ‘Invent Time Bank’ on the list of things we want to do this summer?” asks Skooshie.

“Might as well,” I say.

“OK,” says Hector, scribbling. “That’s number 7.”

“Read them out, Hector,” says Lemur.

“In no particular order—apart from the first one: Cathkin.”

“Even if we doing nothing else,” says Skooshie, “we do that. I would underline it, Hector, just so that’s clear.”

Hiding out in the cool shadow of their secret den, re-enacting battles, rolling in the grass, watching favorite TV shows, and playing the silly, normal games boys play make up the majority of Nicking Time. It largely consists of Midge and his friends adventuring, hopping from one activity to the next, and their plot to break into an rickety-old abandoned stadium. For most of the novel, little else happens, almost to the point where some might question a missing plot. For Traynor’s story to effectively work, to successfully convey Nicking Time’s theme, a defining moment needed to occur. Such a moment does occur, yet not in the way I first suspected, and it crosses the pages late into the story.

Nicking Time, as I said, appears to be a coming-of-age-like novel about childhood friendships. The keyword here is “appears.” Traynor’s novel remains, in certain ways, a story about five boys at the cusp of innocence, ready to enter their adolescent years. What I expected to sprout from this idea shares nothing in common with what the story does offer. As Midges says, “Some disappointment you just have to accept.”

Whether it involves fantasy elements, stays realistic, or even if it’s non-fiction, stories about childhood have always been one of my favorite type of stories to read. Many defining moments mark a person’s life, but more often than not, I find that childhood and leaving it behind can remain one of the more bittersweet tales to tell. Using Midge as her narrator, Traynor has written her book with the simplicity and naiveté of childhood ignorance. Nicking Time is cute, humorous, and most of all, I enjoyed it. However, by writing through Midge’s musings, there are instances of warning that foretell a possibly dark turn.

Perhaps I’ve seen and read too many similar stories that end tragically, or are characterized by uneasy tension. It’s possible, and it’s possible that I let these stories get the best of my expectations, because by the time Nicking Time makes that turn for change, I felt incredibly disappointed. Through all of Traynor’s hints, I suspected something terrible—that death, even—might strike down one of the boys. What better misery to crush one of their most memorable summers? But death awaits none of these boys, nor does anything equally or less tragic. Instead, the story takes on a surprising twist of paranormal nature.

For a mostly realistic but fictional novel, this paranormal twist felt as unsuspected as it is disjointing. At the same time, this aspect proves predictable. Once Traynor introduces this bizarre trait into the story, it’s difficult not to notice hints that the author has planted. By no means did I think Traynor would go do down this route at the beginning of story, but as the story progresses, it becomes clear. Compared to the places my imagination took me, the way in which Traynor concludes Nicking Time lacks spunk and the pulling of emotional heartstrings. Even if I hadn’t misinterpreted the author’s early tip-offs of what was to come, I greeted the paranormal development with an unwelcoming attitude. Rather than one, complete novel, Nicking Time feels like two different stories that collide. The result is not a smooth blending, but an awkward and brashly-concluded story.

Does this take away from the overall enjoyment of Traynor’s writing? In some ways, yes, but Nicking Time remains a likeable story. The narrator, Midge, is smart and funny—as are his friends and younger sister, Kit—and I cherish the moments they made me laugh.

We want to risk the gloom of the stand, lying back and staring up at the rusting roof. We want to walk over every bit of broken concrete, challenging each other to find and leap the most dangerous gaps. We want to be players, managers, spectators, villains, heroes. It’s the stage for so many possible adventures. It’s calling out and we’re the boys to answer it.

Thank you to NetGalley and Floris Books for providing a free copy of Nicking Time in exchange for my honest review.

Waiting on Wednesday #4

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by  Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that bloggers are eagerly anticipating.

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that bloggers are eagerly anticipating.

A Darkness Strange & LovelyA Darkness Strange & Lovely (Something Strange & Deadly #2) by Susan Dennard
Release date: July 23rd, 2013

A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly, #2)

Goodreads Summary:

Perfect for readers Libba Bray’s The Diviners and Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel series, this spellbinding sequel to Something Strange and Deadly delivers a mix of intrigue, supernatural forces, intense romance, and revenge, all set against the enchanting backdrop of nineteenth-century Paris.

With her brother dead and her mother insane, Eleanor Fitt is alone. Even the Spirit-Hunters—Joseph, Jie, and the handsome Daniel—have fled to Paris. So when Eleanor hears the vicious barking of hounds and see haunting yellow eyes, she fears that the Dead, and the necromancer Marcus, are after her.

To escape, Eleanor boards a steamer bound for France. There she meets Oliver, a young man who claims to have known her brother. But Oliver harbors a dangerous secret involving necromancy and black magic that entices Eleanor beyond words. If she can resist him, she’ll be fine. But when she arrives in Paris, she finds that the Dead have taken over, and there’s a whole new evil lurking. And she is forced to make a deadly decision that will go against everything the Spirit-Hunters stand for.

In Paris, there’s a price for this darkness strange and lovely, and it may have Eleanor paying with her life.

| B&NThe Book DepositoryAuthor Website |

I will be honest: this is the first time I fully read through the summary, and… I think it spoiled me. Did I want to hear the news of Eleanor’s mom just yet? Nope. Did I want to hear about Oliver so soon? No. Much of my excitement for A Darkness Strange & Lovely comes from the unknown, wanting  to know what transpired after Something Strange & Deadly‘s conclusion — what happened to Eleanor’s mother, the family’s financial burden and social standing within the city, and of course: Eleanor herself. Eleanor is nothing if not tough, as I think she proved herself by the first book’s end. Susan Dennard’s Something Strange & Deadly, while not flawless, became one of the more addicting, fun reads of 2012, and I anticipate the sequel’s release with much excitement! I have a copy pre-ordered, so you can guarantee I’ll be stalking my mailbox until the book arrives.

What are you waiting on?