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A Reader of Fictions: April 2013

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Review: One Plus One Equals Blue

One Plus One Equals Blue

Author: MJ Auch
Pages: 272
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. (BYR)
Publication Date: April 30, 2012
Source: Publisher for review

Description from Goodreads:
Twelve year-old Basil knows he’s special—he’s been associating numbers with colors since he was a kid. His gift (or curse) has turned him into somewhat of a loner, but his world begins to change when he meets Tenzie, the new girl in school who has similar freakisms. She, too, has synesthesia (a condition in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another). At first, Basil is somewhat annoyed with Tenzie’s pushiness, but after Basil’s estranged mother returns, his life is turned upside down . . . and Tenzie may be the only person to help him put it back together again.

Once again, MJ Auch has written a thoughtful coming-of-age novel that explores friendship, family, and fitting in.

First Sentence: "I'm the biggest loser in the seventh-grade class at Calvin Marshall Middle School."

What lured me to One Plus One Equals Blue was the fact that the two main characters both have synesthesia, which I find fascinating and magical. Though One Plus One Equals Blue did not turn out to focus heavily on synesthesia itself, this novel is still a great read, and one sure to please middle grade readers. Auch's novel focuses primarily on accepting oneself and learning to appreciate the good things in life.

Since I read so much young adult fiction, it's always nice to read middle grade, which generally focuses more on family dynamics and friendship than on romance. Basil Feeney is an outcast. Having been homsechooled up until the seventh grade, he had little chance of popularity. However, what sealed his fate as the biggest loser in school was when he told his friend why he was so bad at math: the numbers appear to him as colors, and some of the colors are repeated. Ever since, he's been a freak, isolated from everyone else.

When a weird new girl, Tenzie, arrives, she throws his world for a loop. She sits at his lunch table (errr, desk), joins him on the bus, and invites herself over after school. Tenzie is just about the biggest pest he could ever imagine, and the cover captures his early attitude perfectly. He doesn't want her to get him noticed, and doesn't want to get close to her only to have her make fun of him later for being a freak. Plus, she takes his grandmother's attention away from him where it belongs.

When he realizes that she also sees numbers as colors, though, they really begin to develop a friendship. With some research, he realizes that they are not alone, and that what they are is synesthetic. I loved that, though they had somewhat similar synesthesia, it functioned quite differently for both of them, giving me a better idea of how varied synesthesia can be. The story shifts then from his friendship with Tenzie, though they do continue to grow closer throughout, with little setbacks along the way. Their friendship is very well-handled.

The rest of the book focuses on Basil's, and to a lesser degree Tenzie's, familial relationships. Basil never knew his father, was abandoned by his mother who went to Hollywood to pursue her dreams of being a star, and was raised by his Gram. Shortly after his life was changed by the introduction of the indefatigable Tenzie, he's thrown for a loop once again, when his mother makes her first appearance in seven years.

Carly Feeney is every bit the unreliable, neglectful mother so common in fiction. She has itchy feet, and likes the idea of being a caring mother much better than the reality of a sulky kid, which, even at the best of times, Basil rather is. Carly sweeps everyone else off their feet, though, helping out with the school play. Tenzie, especially, looks up to Carly, desperate for affection and affection, since her parents ignore her. Basil is torn between hope that his mom will finally love him and wishing she would just leave. All the poor parenting is a bit trite, but at least Basil's grandmother is loving and supportive, and also a totally awesome hippie, who listens to The Beatles and makes stained glass.

With well-drawn characters and realistic emotional arcs, One Plus One Equals Blue is a touching story of teenage outcasts finding one another and coming to terms with their family situations.

Rating: 3.5/5

Favorite Quote:
"'You got pretty popular for a while there.'
     'For about forty-eight hours,' I said. 'Just long enough to figure out that I don't want to be popular.'"

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Review: The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones

The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones

Author: Jack Wolf
Pages: 560
Publisher: Penguin Books
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

Description from Goodreads:
An explosive and daring debut novel set during the Enlightenment that tells the tale of a promising young surgeon-in-training whose study of anatomy is deeply complicated by his uncontrollable sadistic tendencies.

Meet Tristan Hart, a brilliant young man of means. The year is 1751, and Mr Hart leaves his Berkshire home for London to lodge with his father's friend, the novelist and dramatist Henry Fielding, and study medicine at the great hospital of University College. It will be a momentous year for the cultured and intellectually ambitious Mr Hart, who, as well as being a student of Locke and Descartes and a promising young physician, is also, alas, a psychopath. His obsession is the nature of pain, and preventing it during medical procedures. His equally strong and far more unpredictable obsession is the nature of pain, and causing it. Desperate to understand his own deviant desires before they derail his career and drive him mad, Tristan sifts through his childhood memories, memories that are informed by dark superstitions about faeries and goblins and shape-shifting gypsies. Will the new tools of the age-reason and science and scepticism-be enough to save him?

Unexpectedly funny, profoundly imaginative, and with a strange love story at its heart, The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones is a novel about the Enlightenment, the relationship between the mind and body, sex, madness, the nature of pain, and the existence of God.

First Sentence: "One morning in the Autumn of seventeen forty-one, when I was not yet eleven Yeares of Age, still round in Figure and innocent in Mind, Nathaniel Ravenscroft took me a-walking by the River."

Do not be lured in by the Cover of The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones to expecting a Novel packed with Action and Magic. It is nothing of the Sort. Instead, Raw Head, as I shall henceforth refer to this Book for brevity's sake, is a slow-moving, pretentious Tale of Psychosis, Pedophilia, and Sado-masochism. While I cannot necessarily say that this is a bad Book, I can say that it is an acquired Taste, one I have no interest in ever personally acquiring.

You may perhaps be wondering at my newly discovered Love of Capitalization. I do this to prepare you for the Experience of perusing Wolf's Novel. Every single Noun within these Pages is capitalized. Wolf presumably does so to emulate the Style of classic Works, which would capitalize particular Nouns, or perhaps to hint at foreign Origins, as I know German does this. However, I found this Style entirely off-putting. In English, capitalizing Nouns in the middle of Sentences is not the done Thing, so my Brain kept trying to place additional Emphasis on those Words, resulting in a stilted Reading. The Capitalization forced me to skim most of Raw Head, as that way I was less bothered by the errant capital Letters. Either the Reader will find this unique Touch endearing or eminently frustrating.

Speaking of frustrating, let us discuss the Plot! Raw Head opens with a young Tristan Hart. He does not begin as a promising Youth, and lives in the Shadow of Nathaniel Ravenscroft. He admires Nathaniel and does whatever Nathaniel does. He becomes rather obsessed with Nathaniel much in the way that Sal Paradise wishes he could be like Dean Moriarty in On the Road. Then Nathaniel disappears for most of the Novel, but, don't worry, he will be back, sort of like Outbreaks of a venereal Disease.

Certainly the book could have been thinner.

As Tristan grows older, he discovers Passions, the first for Science and the second for causing Pain. His primary Hobby is that of performing Autopsies on any dead Animals that can be found. He saves the Bones as a Collection. A short way into his sexual Education, he begins to find that he is turned on by the Pain of Others, and tries to abuse a gypsy Woman who was going to willingly have sex with him. She curses him.

Of course, he blames his Madness on this curse, but, really, he's just psychotic. He has Spells of a Time where a Story comes to life around him, and he believes them to be True. Only later, when Others tell him of his Foolishness does he know these Happenings never occurred. During the time of his Madness taking hold, he is studying Medicine. I love to think about Sadists practicing Medicine, don't you? He also visits a whore House and whips the Whore kept for the Sadists.

If you thought that was bad, get ready. At this Point, the Novel adds another Element: a Romance. Yes, Tristan, psychotic Sadist, deserves a love Interest. Who does he fall in love with and marry?, you may ask. I shall tell you. He meets her when he is twenty Yeares of Age, and she is but twelve. Yes, that's right. Here's the Pedophilia I warned you about. Conveniently, Katherine is a little Slut and quite taken with Tristan. Also, surprise bonus, she is a Cutter and loves Pain. A Match made in the Heavens, truly.

Worst of all, they do not come to an unhappy End. Instead, they raise two Children, which simply gives me the Shivers. What was the Point of this Novel? Is there a Lesson I should have learned from this? Is it that sadistic, psychotic Murderers make wonderful family Men? That's all I'm seeing.

None of this interests me, especially due to the overblown Style with which Wolf told the Tale. However, if you like old-fashioned Language and Spellings, and also always wanted to know what it would be like if Patrick Bateman and Humbert Humbert were combined into a historical Character, then this has been written just for you.

Rating: 1/5

Favorite Quote: "'Fuck off, Ann.'"

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #10: Sever

The Chemical Garden, Book 3

Author: Lauren DeStefano
Pages: 371
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Source: Library
Recommended by: Anonymous

Description from Goodreads:
With the clock ticking until the virus takes its toll, Rhine is desperate for answers. After enduring Vaughn’s worst, Rhine finds an unlikely ally in his brother, an eccentric inventor named Reed. She takes refuge in his dilapidated house, though the people she left behind refuse to stay in the past. While Gabriel haunts Rhine’s memories, Cecily is determined to be at Rhine’s side, even if Linden’s feelings are still caught between them. 

 Meanwhile, Rowan’s growing involvement in an underground resistance compels Rhine to reach him before he does something that cannot be undone. But what she discovers along the way has alarming implications for her future—and about the past her parents never had the chance to explain. 

In this breathtaking conclusion to Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden trilogy, everything Rhine knows to be true will be irrevocably shattered.

First Sentence: "In the atlas the river still flows."

Just to be up front with everything, this will be more of a series review than a Sever review, because, honestly, not much actually fucking happens in Sever. It's a boring, largely plotless mess, and most of what's frusrating about the characters requires prior knowledge of the series as a whole. There will be swearing, gifs, and spoilers up in this bitch, so if you're not up for that, check out of this review with a swiftness.

Maybe, to start, we should talk about Sever just a little bit. Sever picks up with Rhine desperate to locate her twin, like she has been since they were separated at the very beginning of Wither. She's planning to leave immediately to find him, because he's apparently become a radical and is bombing shit. For OVER A HUNDRED PAGES, she plans to go find him, during which time she dicks around with Linden's uncle and thinks angsty thoughts about Linden. Seriously, nothing happens during all of this except that DeStefano pretends to kill off a character and doesn't.

Me, to everyone, so the book could end.

Then, Rhine, Linden, and Cecily go look for the brother, which involves stopping by the torture carnival (which I will address later), the sole point of which is learning that Rose, Linden's first wife was Madame's daughter. Whoop-di-do. They do find the brother, and he's working for Vaughn and really doesn't do much of anything except serve as a reason for Rhine to be in Vaughn's clutches again.

Seriously, the only plot arc to this series is Rhine trying to do something and getting captured by Vaughn. That's all three books. Even better, Rhine accomplishes nothing in either Fever or Sever. Congratulations, Rhine, I give you the award for most useless heroine; it comes with a nice shiny gilded cage and a cookie wand. Enjoy.

What makes me so fucking pissed off about this series is the purity myth that it's putting forward. Slut-shaming isn't something I regularly cite, because it doesn't often, in what I read, feel like the driving force of the book to me. However, in this case, I will make an exception, because, though I don't recall the word ever being used, this series runs off of horror movie logic: if you have sex, you will have a fucking horrible life and probably die.

Rhine, our boring, stupid Mary Sue of a heroine lives in a world where women are used as breeding chattel, because they die so young that babies are needed as early as possible. Her brother protected her at first, but she left (because she's dumb) and got sold to wealthy Linden as one of his four wives. Linden doesn't have sex with her, because he wants her to love him (more on this later); Jenna and Cecily have sex with Linden (one of them dies and one nearly dies - THIS IS WHAT YOU GET, RIGHT?). Rhine escapes from the house with one of Linden's servants. They wash up at a Carnival of prostitution run by Madame. A gorgeous virgin comes to this Madame and what does she do? Sell her virginity to the highest bidder because that's what would totally happen? Of course not. Instead, she dopes Gabriel and Rhine with aphrodisiacs so they can be sexually turned on enough to make out with one another. Apparently in this world, men will pay money to watch other people make out while scantily clad (not even naked, mind you). Now, I know voyeurism is a thing, but THAT is bullshit. She would at LEAST have to bang Gabriel. In Sever, Rhine remains eternally innocent, which, apparently, means she gets to be cured for some dumbshit reason which I really give no fucks about. She and Gabriel make out and she stops him and that's pretty much it for their reconciliation.

Listen, it's not so much that I want to see Rhine raped or having sex or anything. However, if you create this particular world, then you have to follow things through to their logical conclusions. The world building is minimal enough as it is, so to completely ignore what there is of it is monumentally frustrating. In Sever, when they see the ferris wheel of the carnival in the distance, Rhine moans about how awful it was there. Yes, you poor, poor girl. Forced to make out with your boyfriend like a brazen hussy. Please, tell me more about how traumatizing that was for you.

That's one thing that upsets me. Another thing is Rhine's relationship with Linden. She and two other girls, Cecily and Jenna, are picked out of a line up by Linden and his father, Vaughn. They're rich, so they can afford to purchase Linden some wives. Neither Rhine nor Jenna want any part of it, and Cecily's like 13, so doesn't know any better than to be excited. Rhine sort of develops feelings for him over time, but wants to get away more than anything. That's in Wither, and I sort of liked it, because it rang of Stockholm Syndrome in an interesting way.

By this point, though, the acknowledged Stockholm Syndrome-ishness of it is gone, and we're apparently supposed to think Linden is a prince among men. Rhine's obviously much more attracted to him than to Gabriel, and she alternates between jealousy of Cecily and being glad to be freed. All throughout this damn book, all Rhine can think about is what a stand-up guy Linden is, how she's mistreated him, or how she owes him for something or other. THIS attitude may almost be unhealthier than the purity myth thing, because it's subtly putting in this idea like Rhine is beholden to Linden. Rhine doesn't owe Linden SHIT.

Please share this power with Rhine. She needs it.

Linden may not have been the one to order the rest of his possible wives killed (that's his dad) and he didn't perform creepy ass experiments on them (still dad), but he's just as culpable. It's not like Vaughn was all that fucking sneaky. He's got his house full of locked doors like Bluebeard on steroids and Linden's not going to be like "Dad, what the fuck are you doing in the basement?" He's ignorant of what's happening, but he remains that way purposefully, so it really doesn't let him off the hook.

Even if you don't lay any of that on his head, he still FORCED three girls to marry him. Obviously, they did go through with the vows, but it's not like they had a whole lot of options, considering that they knew the other girls were killed and were just going to be raped or murdered by someone else if they said no. He's an attractive man with pockets well-grown, so there's no fucking reason he needs to pick up women from the slave trade. From the very beginning of Wither, he was a creepy bastard and I do not find it even one iota acceptable to have him romanticized. At the very end of Sever, Rhine says this of Linden: "'It's because he was better than me . . . He never wanted to hurt anyone. I didn't want to hurt him either.'"

Linden, who fooled people into thinking he was a nice guy.

This attitude straight up disgusts me and I cannot believe we're putting these thoughts in front of impressionable minds. Linden is NOT a good guy. In my opinion, Rhine should have found a weapon and taken Vaughn and Linden out, because they are both disgusting human beings. What could have been a thought-provoking look at Stockholm Syndrome turned into yet another instance of turning a creep into a viable love interest.

Don't even get me started on the fact that DeStefano concluded the Linden-Rhine-Gabriel love triangle by killing off Linden. Gabriel and Rhine obviously have absolutely no chemistry, so Rhine was totally going to go back to Linden someday. I guess I'm glad that somewhere along the way the author and/or editor realized her ending up with Linden would be unhealthy, but, rather than fixing the relationship dynamics between them somewhere along the way, Linden is killed off, which pretty much ensures she will always love him martyr-style.

On top of that, the ending is just as bad as one might expect. Rhine and Vaughn go for a pleasant stroll. She inquires about why he's a crazy bastard and he responds with villainous infodumps. Then Cecily shoots him. I come through ALL three of these books for this? Remind me why Rhine is the heroine again? She never does anything. The fourteen-year-old mother of one who just miscarried and only just got off of bed rest is the one who takes out the bad guy. Are we for real with this shit? I never liked Cecily but at least she's got balls. Rhine never did anything during this whole series but be speshul and get people to help her do things. Not a single useful thing did she ever do on her own.

There's probably more I could say about this dreadful series, but I don't want to waste any more of my time or energy on it. These books are boring, full of shoddy world building, written in a pseudo-poetic style that mostly falls flat, and perpetuate seriously unhealthy concepts of romance. You're welcome to read them if you want, but you could do so much better. Reading The Handmaid's Tale instead would be an excellent life choice. In conclusion, here's my recommendation for dealing with this series:

Pedal, bitch, pedal!

Rating: 0.5/5

Favorite Quote: "'I've seen all kinds of foolish girls, but none so foolish they'd come back here if they got away.'"

Up Next:
The next Sadie Hawkins Sunday book will be The Collector byVictoria Scott recommended by Steph of Cuddlebuggery. I'm a little afraid, but I am trying to keep my mind open.

Want to tell me what to read? Fill out THIS FORM with a book suggestion! For more details, check this post.

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

On My New Arrivals Shelf (53)

For Review:
The Sword Dancer - Jeannie Lin
45 Pounds (More or Less) - K. A. Barson
Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Between #1) - April Genevieve Tucholke
Losing It (Losing It #1) - Cora Carmack
Heart of Glass (Cross My Heart #2) - Sasha Gould
Milk of Birds - Sylvia Whitman
Quintana of Charyn (Lumatere Chronicles #3) - Melina Marchetta
Dare You To (Pushing the Limits #2) - Katie McGarry
Severed Heads, Broken Hearts (now titled The Beginning of Everything) - Robyn Schneider
Born of Illusion - Teri Brown
Winterveil (Wintercraft #3) - Jenna Burtenshaw
Bruised - Sarah Skilton

*Many thanks to Jeannie Lin, Penguin Teen, and YA Books Central!*


Friday, April 26, 2013

Review: The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave
The 5th Wave, Book 1

Author: Rick Yancey
Pages: 480
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Source: Gifted - Thanks Audrey!

Description from Goodreads:
The Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

First Sentence: "There will be no awakening."

Does It Pass the Bechdel Test? Only sort of. Cassie talks to a female doctor. It's not a long conversation, but I guess it counts. That's it, though. For the most part, the female characters (of which there are four that are alive) don't talk to one another.

Anyone who follows my book haul vlogs or my Twitter probably knows how excited I was for this book. The preliminary reviews convinced me that this book and I were destined to have a great love affair, that it would break me emotionally, and end the fairly long streak of lackluster post-apocalytpic/dystopian fiction I've been on. Well, The 5th Wave is good, and I can see why everyone's been loving it, but, perhaps because of the hype, it wasn't everything I dreamed it would be.

The 5th Wave hooked me right from the start. What really sets this book apart from the bulk of young adult fiction is the air of hopelessness that permeates this post-alien attack vision of Cincinnati. Cassie is a hard heroine, determined to survive for as long as she can, afraid she might be the last actual human alive. The 1st wave of the alien attack was an EMP, knocking out all technology in an instant. The 2nd wave stirred the oceans and killed those on the coast. The 3rd wave was a plague, carried by birds, that killed all but a few naturally immune or able to fight off the infection. The 4th wave consisted of the Silencers, sleeper agent aliens within human bodies. At this point, 7 billion people are dead, and the enemy could be anyone.

Too often, apocalypses in young adult fiction don't really wreak all that much destruction. Humanity seems to have a serious fighting chance, but Yancey's world is suitably bleak enough to please me. With the 5th wave feared and anticipated every moment, humanity hardly seems to have a chance in hell of surviving. I love how high the stakes are in this book, and that Yancey doesn't pull punches. The 5th Wave is dark and intense.

As the novel opens and we meet Cassie, we learn her rules for living, the first of which is to shoot anyone else she meets on sight. She knows that aliens are walking around in human guise, because she saw them murder her father, shortly after her brother, Sammy, and the other children were rescued by soldiers. As such, Cassie trusts no one. Cassie will kill to protect herself, without waiting to find out if the other person is human or alien, because there's no way to know, and she has to stay alive to find Sammy. It's not just Cassie, though. Every single surviving person in this world has blood on their hands. No one comes through these experiences innocent, and that is my favorite aspect of the novel.

Yancey's writing is beautiful too, complex and in no way talking down to the audience. He is even at turns poetic. This would be one of the rare YA books I would recommend to adults who normally turn up their noses at books for teens, because I think the writing and darkness of the subject matter will hold appeal for adult readers as well, even snobby ones.

However, much as I love the concept and the writing itself, Yancey's use of perspectives didn't really work for me. I had three main concerns with his use of multiple points of view. First, I had trouble discerning Cassie's narration from Zombie's, and was really thrown when the POV switched, even going so far as to wonder if Cassie was a boy all along and I'd missed something. I simply could not tell their voices apart except by seeing where they were or a gender reference.

Second, there are two perspectives used for only one chapter, while the rest of the story bounces between Cassie and Zombie. As a general rule, if a perspective is going to appear once, it's best not to use it at all, and I think that holds true here. Nothing was learned from those two single-use perspectives that could not have been discovered later with greater impact. The use of one of these even, whether intentionally or no, spoils a plot twist that could have been startling.

Third, the chapter from the perspective of Sammy is in third person, while the rest are in first. Rarely do I approve of this technique in multiple points of view either, however, it can be done to great stylistic effect, intentionally distancing the audience from a particular perspective to represent how closed off that character is. In this case, though, I fail to fathom this authorial decision. For what reason should the reader be distanced from Sammy? This section could have been emotionally resonant, following a scared, confused five-year-old through his experiences in this harsh landscape. Instead, the third person narration alternates between Sammy's childish thoughts and observations obviously coming from the narrator. Done in first person, this section could have highlighted Yancey's skill writing perspective, but, alas, this was not done.

Even though Cassie and Zombie were written in first person, I also failed to really connect with them. In Zombie's case, I suspect this was because he sounded like Cassie to me, so didn't really become his own person in my head. Cassie, though, I was well-disposed to like, and was bonding to in the beginning. Unfortunately, she stopped acting like the Cassie of the outset and embarked on an instalove romance. To be fair, the romance was not instalove from her side, but she pursued the relationship as well, and the whole thing made me roll my eyes. The one plus I will give the romance in this book is that I'm not entirely sure who Yancey wants Cassie to end up with in the end.

Overall, I very much enjoyed The 5th Wave and will be eagerly anticipating the sequel. Readers who enjoy dark, action-packed novels will want to pick this one up, as will those who liked The Host or Animorphs, but want something much more intense.

Rating: 3.5/5

Favorite Quote: 
"'From what you've told me about the Silencers, its not logical to rally anywhere.'
     'Or stay anywhere longer than a few days. Keep your numbers small and keep moving.'
     'Until . . . ?'
     'There is no until,' I snap at him. 'There's just unless.'"

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cover Snark (54): This Side of Ugly

Welcome to Cover Snark, where the people are snarky and the covers quiver in fear. Since I don't write many snarky book reviews here on A Reader of Fictions, Cover Snark is my outlet. If you click on the title of the book, where possible, I've linked to Goodreads. Clicking on the cover itself will show you the cover in a larger size, in most cases. Feel free to love covers I hate and vice versa. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Shiny and New:

1. Shadowhunter's Guide: City of Bones - Mimi O'Connor
Thoughts: Just what the world needs. More books about Shadowhunters.

2. City of Bones: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion - Mimi O'Connor
Thoughts: Can we all agree that this is TMI?

3. Are You Mine? - N.K. Smith
Thoughts: It's like the New Adult version of P.D. Eastman's Are You My Mother?, in which a girl walks around grabbing guys by the arm and asking if they're her boyfriend.

4. The Demon's Song - Kendra Leigh Castle
Thoughts: I didn't realize sin had a flavor. And I would have guessed it would be more spicy. Now I want some cake.

5. The Awakening: Aidan - Abby Niles
Thoughts: If it's that guy who's going to be in love with me for all time, then I'm thinking a curse.

6. Gone with the Wolf (Seattle Wolf Pack #1) - Kristen Miller
Thoughts: Learn to embrace the duckface.

7. Contagion (Toxic City #3) - Tim Lebbon
Thoughts: Eh. I'm pretty amused at the fact that their poses are pretty much identical. Otherwise, I do like that the girl is very much not standard cover girl.

8. Searching for Someday (Love Spells #1) - Jennifer Probst
Thoughts: Maybe you left someday in Flashdance where you picked up that shirt?

9. The Marriage Merger (Marriage to a Billionaire #4) - Jennifer Probst
Thoughts: I love the phrase "breakout novelist." It makes authors sound so daring, like they just escaped from prison or a dystopian government. In other news, I hate this. It's boring, looks like a pamphlet on an STD, and has a terrible tagline.

10. The Enchanter Heir (Heir Chronicles #4) - Cinda Williams Chima
Thoughts: Is this knife hanging out underneath a bridge? Silly knife.

11. Wildfire Gospel (Habitat #3) - Kenya Wright
Thoughts: Girl, your eyebrow is on fire. You might want to fix that.

12. MaddAddam (MaddAdam Trilogy #3) - Margaret Atwood
Thoughts: I LOVE this color combo (which totally matches my blog btw). I am, however, confused by handprint egg.

13. City of Lost Dreams (City of Dark Magic #2) - Magnus Flyte
Thoughts: I do like this, but not quite so much as the first cover.

14. Remnants of Tomorrow (Ashes Trilogy #3) - Kassy Tayler
Thoughts: This is officially the weakest cover of the three. The other two were so pretty, but this isn't working for me. Something about how we're looking through a circle down to another circle with the ubiquitous "hey, this is steampunk" dirigible. Plus, girl with hair in her face and feather. So many cover tropes presented awkwardly.

15. Untold (The Lynburn Legacy #2) - Sarah Rees Brennan
Thoughts: Pardon me while I weep openly at this cover design. Is it just me or does it look like it belongs in the Shadow Falls series?

16. Lovecraft's Monsters - Ellen Datlow, ed.
Thoughts: Yup, lots of monsters up on there. I think it's the mostly human-looking one that upsets me the most.

17. Twilight with the Infamous Earl (Lords of Vice #7) - Alexandra Hawkins
Thoughts: When taglines are honest.

18. Doon - Carey Corp & Lorie Langdon
Thoughts: Is this a retelling of Brigadoon? That would be cool. *decides to not be lazy and reads blurb* It is! Good job, cover. You successfully conveyed the subject matter of the book. I do wonder why she's wearing that fancy dress going TO the town though.

19. Playing Tyler - T. L. Costa
Thoughts: What genre is this? I have no idea. The plane says war book, the tagline/title sound like some sort of romance thing, and the giant flowers make me think of The Wizard of Oz. *looks at blurb* Survey says: video games. O_o

20. Unthinkable - Nancy Werlin
Thoughts: The background is gorgeous, but she looks really obviously pasted in.

21. The Redemption of Callie & Kayden (The Coincidence #2) - Jessica Sorensen
Thoughts: Well, redemption's in the title, so I imagine that love will save them. In other news, I hate his facial hair.

22. Love in Darkness (Shattered Castles #2) - E.M. Tippetts
Thoughts: I would really like to know where this background photo was taken, because it's so pretty in a desolate sort of way.

23. The Long War (The Long Earth #2) - Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter
Thoughts: Oooh, I like it. So shiny. Also, are those zombies? Cause, if so, I need to read this series like now.

24. Gabriel's Redemption (Gabriel's Inferno #3) - Sylvain Reynard
Thoughts: Nothing says redemption like sex in the bushes.

Cover Battles:

1. City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) - Cassandra Clare

Hardback vs. Movie Tie-In Edition: I still think the City of Bones series stuff could look less like The 10th Kingdom, but pretty much anything is an improvement on that romance novel dipped in toxic waste (the only explanation for the noxious green fumes...unless Jace ate a huge burrito for lunch). My Pick: Movie tie-in edition.
Which City of Bones cover do you prefer?
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2. Ink (Paper Gods #1) - Amanda Sun
US vs. UK: I love the UK cover. So much. Not that I didn't like the US, but the UK one is a bit simpler and classier, in my opinion. Also, Amanda Sun's name isn't incredibly tiny. My Pick: UK.
Which Ink cover do you prefer?
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3. Tall, Dark and Divine (Bagging a Greek God #1) - Jenna Bennett
Original vs. Redesign: OMG, the dude on the original cover looks like a friend of mine from college. He's super cute and tiny, and would totally make that sassy face. That one wins for me by far because of his awesome style. My Pick: Original.
Which Tall, Dark and Divine cover do you prefer?
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4. Deceiving the Witch Next Door - Melissa Bourbon Ramirez
Original vs. Redesign: I really don't like either of these. Peekaboo underwear doesn't enthuse me, but neither do poorly photoshopped faces. My Pick: Original, if I have to choose.
Which Deceiving the Witch cover do you prefer?
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5. The Beginning of Everything - Robyn Schneider
Severed Heads, Broken Hearts vs. The Beginning of Everything: In an ideal world, I would go with the original title and the new cover, personally. How hilarious would Severed Heads, Broken Hearts be with a roller coaster background? My Pick: The Beginning of Everything, in honor of my trip to Six Flags last weekend.
Which cover/title do you prefer?
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6. Wild Man (Dream Man #2) - Kristen Ashley
Original vs. Redesign: I can't even figure out what that original cover is a picture of. Alcohol? Barbecue sauce? Aftershave? Potions? My Pick: Redesign.
Which Dream Man cover do you prefer?
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7. Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend - Louise Rozett
US vs. UK: UK designers, I think someone put acid in your afternoon tea, because, seriously, what is that font treatment? My Pick: US.
Which Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend cover do you prefer?
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8. The Innocents (The Innocents #1) - Lili Peloquin
Hardback vs. Paperback: The latest in the series of WHY THE HELL WAS THIS REDESIGNED? is The Innocents. Apparently they realized the covers were too good. I'm guessing the person who designed these also does Richelle Mead's Bloodlines series. My Pick: Hardback.
Which The Innocents cover do you prefer?
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9. This Side of Jealousy (The Innocents #2) - Lili Peloquin
Take 1 vs. Take 2: As dumb as most of the expressions are on the original covers, these are Bloodlines level awkward, am I right? And, worst of all, why's the sun always setting/rising into the O? Is that supposed to look good? My Pick: Take 1.
Which This Side of Jealousy cover do you prefer?
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10. Would-Be Witch (Southern Witch #1) - Kimberly Frost
Original vs. Redesign: Now THIS is how you do a redesign. I personally like this new one better, but neither is bad and this will likely lure in a new set of readers. I really like how they kept the elements the same, while doing something new with them. However, the shorts so short the pockets stick out the bottom have to go. My Pick: Redesign.
Which Would-Be Witch cover do you prefer?
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11. Slammed (Slammed #1) - Colleen Hoover
Original vs. Redesign: Since this one's not just a chair and I like the colors better, I'm going for the redesign. My Pick: Redesign.
Which Slammed cover do you prefer?
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12. Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy #1) - Sarah Rees Brennan
Hardback vs. Paperback: Oh yay! The original cover was just too unique. Better make this look like every other paranormal YA! I get that this will attract different readers, but couldn't they have waited and just done all of the paperbacks this way? *grumps* My Pick: Hardback.
Which Unspoken cover do you prefer?
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13. Lucky Bastard - S.G. Browne
Hardback vs. Paperback: Trying to look like Chuck Palahniuk are we? My Pick: Hardback.
Which Lucky Bastard cover do you prefer?
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14. River of Stars (Under Heaven #2) - Guy Gavriel Kay
US vs. UK: Neither one's immediate love for me, but I like the classy simplicity of the UK cover. My Pick: UK.
Which River of Stars cover do you prefer?
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15. No Attachments - Tiffany King
Take 1 vs. Take 2: Apparently as soon as this cover was released, another book coming out the same day revealed their cover with the same image. Awkward. Anyway, all for the best I say, since I like the colors on this one better, even if it's still a kissy face cover.
Which No Attachments cover do you prefer?
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WTF of the Week:

1. Finding Love's Wings - Zoey Derrick
Thoughts: First of all, she appears to have about three different sets of wings. Secondly, they will be about as affective as the wings on Heimlich in A Bug's Life.

2. Glitter & Mayhem - John Klima, Lynne M. Thomas, & Michael Damian Thomas, eds.
Thoughts: Two words: Robot. Disco.

Outstanding Cover of the Week:
UK Cover of Ink by Amanda Sun

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