Waiting on Wednesday (3)

It's been a while since our last Waiting on Wednesday, and now that it's 2013, there are SO MANY books we're looking forward to. Here's 3 for you to consider adding to your TBR.

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

1) CONTROL by Lydia Kang

Blurb from Goodreads: After the violent death of her father, 17 year-old Zelia loses her younger sister, Dylia, during an abduction at a foster care agency. It turns out her sister Dylia isn’t just pretty and sweet – she’s illegal. In the year 2150, DNA must be pure by law, and anyone with enhanced genes face death. Zelia’s only allies are the freak-show inhabitants of her new, underground foster home. Along with the unexpected love of a very strange boy, she will need her flaws and their illicit traits to save the only family she has left.

We adore Lydia around here, and since we heard about her book deal, we've been excited to see a cover. That cover was finally revealed on Monday, so we can finally put it in a WoW post. We love the glow!

2) BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA by April Genevieve Tucholke

Blurb from Goodreads: You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand...

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town…until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery...who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

This book sank its hooks into us since we read the blurb for it sometime mid-2012. The cover reveal only made the waiting worse! It's gothic and moody, a visually perfect fit for the story the jacket copy implies. I love the ornate font that dominates the image.

3) THE NIGHT ITSELF by Zoë Marriott

Cover copy: When fifteen year old Mio steals the katana - her grandfather's priceless sword - she just wants to liven up a fancy dress costume. But the katana is more than some dusty heirloom, and her actions unleash an ancient evil onto the streets of modern-day London. Mio is soon stalked by the terrors of mythical Japan, and it is only the appearance of a mysterious warrior that saves her life. If Mio cannot learn to control the sword's legendary powers she will lose not only her own life... but the love of a lifetime.

We were so impressed by Zoe's book Shadows on the Moon that we were eager to see what she came up with next. And it's certainly something else - an apparent mix of ancient magic and modern chic, the story is wonderfully complemented by the book's recently revealed cover. I'm so in love with the bold and unusual design that I had to post the entire jacket. Just look at this thematically subtle but eye-catching piece of art!

What are some books you're looking forward to in 2013?


Name That Book Answers!

All righty, folks, 'tis time for the answers to last Friday's Name That Book: Stick Figure Edition.  Props to all  and thanks for playing!

 The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus, #2)

1. The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)

2. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi


3. Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst

The Liar Society (The Liar Society, #1)

4. The Liar Society by Lisa & Laura Roecker

Tempest (Tempest, #1)

5. Tempest by Julie Cross

Seems like Shatter Me and Liar Society were the most identified this time around.  Liar Society does have a very bright/vivid cover so it's pretty recognizable, but I'm a bit surprised at Shatter Me being up there too.  Guess Juliette's swooshy dress and whooshy background and swishy hair and >: face come through even in a stick figure.

Have you read any of the above books or their sequels?  Got any recs?


Book Review: Dualed by Elsie Chapman

I've got a book review for you today (of something Alz hasn't read yet!) that is interesting because I have MIXED feelings about the book, but I also think it's pretty good! Weird, I know. This book will be out in about a month, so you'll be able to judge for yourselves soon.

DUALED by Elsie Chapman

Disclaimer: Received an e-ARC from publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Am also Twitter acquaintances with Elsie Chapman.

This cover is kind of perfect. Love the shadow.
PROS: Interesting main character arc; engaging narrative voice, quick, readable prose; fluid action

CONS: World-building that's not quite enough - logic holes that are sort of covered but also sort of not / raise more questions; shallow larger theme exploration

Intellectual Rating: 5/6 out of 10
Emotional Grade: B

Book Blurb (from goodreads): You or your Alt? Only one will survive.

The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life.

Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she’s no longer certain that she’s the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.

Elsie Chapman's suspenseful YA debut weaves unexpected romance into a novel full of fast-paced action and thought-provoking philosophy. When the story ends, discussions will begin about this future society where every adult is a murderer and every child knows there is another out there who just might be better.


Oh Dualed, where do I start with you? I suppose it’s a little fitting that my feelings towards this book are divided. Let’s start with the good though, shall we?


Dualed has a very hooky premise, a society where every person has an Alt - an identical twin - that they must kill in order to earn their place in the walled city of Kersh. The Kersh motto is “Be the one, be worthy” and this plays out in the extreme in that the ideology behind the Alt who lives is that that is the Alt who deserves to live. So thematically, the set-up is very interesting. You have instant conflict and questions raised about identity and how decisions can shape who we are, morality versus survival, and what makes someone more worthy of life than another person. And to an extent these themes are touched upon and explored.

The Main Character

The main character West has to make a decision about these issues when she gets her assignment and becomes Active, meaning she and her Alt have a month to find and try to kill each other. This struggle is further complicated by the fact that West is pretty much alone in the world - save a childhood friend who is determined to help her stay alive - and that makes her truly question her worthiness as well as the validity of Kersh’s vetting system. This leads her to take an unusual path to make herself strong enough to be worthy. Things are a little shallow in the beginning, but once West receives her assignment and has to begin the hunt for her Alt, I found her character arc engaging and thoughtful. She struggles, she doubts, she takes a few wrong turns, but it’s clear this is a girl in crisis, someone trying to make sense of her personal tragedies and the brutality of a society that masquerades as civilized.

I think Elsie Chapman nailed West’s voice because I found her captivating, even if I’m not sure I like her all that much (kind of similar to how I feel about Divergent’s Tris). She was frustrating and often distant, not wholly like-able, and a little too self-pitying and indecisive for too long, but... There is something about West that pushes the story forward, even over the gaping worldbuilding logic-holes (but I’ll get to that in a bit).


The opening is a little generic in its hooky-ness; it's interesting enough but I don’t think I was invested in the story until West became Active. Then, the tension of the chase comes into play. On top of that, Chapman writes some of the more fluid and natural action scenes I’ve read in my recent YA reads. The sequences aren’t too long or too vague. They don't feel superfluous or read confusingly, and they keep the story moving, the tension up. Chapman also draws the various districts of Kersh well. I enjoyed the logical division of the districts and how each section has its own purpose and character. I thought the hustle and grit of the Grid was vivid and wonderfully lively.

Worldbuilding Gripes

But here’s where I have to get to the gaping worldbuilding logic-holes I mentioned earlier. The settings are well-wrought and the personal-level worldbuilding is acceptable, but I had such a hard time with the larger worldbuilding of Kersh and West’s society. While I’m willing to buy the extreme premise of Alt vs. Alt, it’s hard to see why the Board (the ruling entity of Kersh) thought this would be the best way to produce an ideal or battle-ready society.

The logic is that they only want the Best version of people within the walled city, what with resources being limited and Kersh being way better than the war-torn world outside and therefore a desirable place to live, but to have doubles of everybody seems inefficient and kind of wasteful. Additionally, there is no follow-through on the Alt who wins staying the Best version of that person. For example, at one point, West notices an older Complete (someone who has killed their Alt) who isn’t physically fit and she thinks, ‘Well, he may have been capable of killing someone in the past, but you can’t tell by looking at him now.’ If the point of Alts is to have a society of ready soldiers, then the existence of a Complete like that seems counter to that. The introduction of Strikers makes me further question the system because not only do Strikers act as a cheat to the system, they don't seem to be harshly checked. Seems weird for the Board to not want to buckle down on something like this.

Then there’s the fact that this supposedly “safe” and desirable place is actually breeding a society and lifestyle of extreme violence. Actives are allowed to hunt and confront their Alts basically anywhere in the city. So people are killing people all the time, even in public places and it’s treated as normal. And I guess no one thinks this is weird because this is what they've always known, but it's weird to me that there's apparently no noticeable psychological effects on the populace as a whole. This society of violence thing relates back to my comment about inefficiency too because with all the random and sudden violence that could happen, other people - Completes and Inactives alike - are constantly in danger of accidental death. Isn't it a waste if a Complete dies in the crossfire of two Alts? Also, doesn't this constant violence disrupt commerce/transportation/social activities/etc.?

For the first quarter or so of the book, all these little holes and inconsistencies bothered me so much, I had a hard time getting into the actual story. At points it was almost like the more I learned about Kersh's society, the more the worldbuilding fell apart - and people, I am by no means even half as perceptive, picky, or questioning as Alz. I tend to read with blinders on for total immersion, but even I had questions popping up in my head unbidden.


So there are some themes that I thought and would have liked to have been explored, given this world and premise, but they were only touched upon. This disappointed me a bit at first because I wanted more depth, but then I came to realize that maybe that had more to do with my expectations than the book itself.

Because here’s the thing about Dualed; it’s likely NOT the book you think it is. If you’re expecting something along the lines of the popular YA dystopian, you’ll be disappointed. If you think West is going to start questioning the legitimacy of her dystopian government and start entertaining plans for rebellion and Mockingjays, you’ll be mostly disappointed. Dualed is NOT a girl-against-the-world take-down-the-government kind of book. Dualed is a very single-plotline focused novel set on a personal stage. This is West’s story of survival, her existential crisis, her harsh coming-of-age. And that’s it.

I was expecting something like Divergent where the character, plot, and thematic arcs are closely tied on the micro and macro levels, but Dualed is not that book. Dualed has its major themes and plot all pinpoint focused on the personal, and at that level, I think Chapman does an admirable job because ultimately, when I pushed aside my expectations and ignored my gripes with the bigger-picture worldbuilding, I enjoyed the ground level, personal stuff - the character arc, settings, and cat-and-mouse chase.

Conclusion: I think Alz and I might have mentioned a year or two ago that we’d be interested to see a dystopian where the plot doesn’t inevitably focus on the take-down of the dystopian society. Dualed basically fills this space, and if you’re not expecting that, it can be a bit disorienting, so be prepared. Another plus is that this is a Book 1 that can actually be a standalone.

So adjust your expectations and just enjoy the ride because Dualed is a pretty good one - very readable and action-y. Recommended (with some reservations).

Links elsewhere:


Name That Book: Stick Figure Edition!

Happy Friday!  Hooray!  Hooray!  Krispy and I had nothing planned for today so you get another exciting edition of Name That Book, stick figure style!  Including gratuitous use of exclamation points!!!

1. Krispy and her sister and I loved this book because we love
the person on the cover, who is a bamf.
2. The sequel to this book is finally coming out this year.
Also this doodle is from the hardcover; the paperback was redesigned.

3. Krispy and I very much enjoyed this original fantasy.

4. The third book in this series is set to be released at the end of this year.

5. This book was about time travel. It had some interesting concepts
but became too complicated and confusing and violated
its own time travel rules for the sake of drama.
Guess away, peeps!  Props and unicorns to those who guess correctly.  Answers and maybe a real post with substance coming next week!

Previous Editions:
Name That Book!
Name That Book Again!


Currently... (2)


Loving: My new-ish boots. My tiger flats! My various cute cups from which I drink delicious hot chocolate!

Watching: So many TV shows! The Sister and I finally watched DOWNTON ABBEY. We finished S1 in like 2 days (would've been 1 but we started late - like at 7 at night) and now must get our hands on the next season. It's as addictive as everyone says!

My S1 blu-ray DVDs of PUSHING DAISIES arrived too, so I've been making my sister and Alz watch that. They now see why I love it so much! Oh quirky, clever, adorable show! I miss you!

Lee Pace love! Also, it's still weird that he's Thranduil.

Reading: Dualed by Elsie Chapman and Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi [Krispy]. LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring by Tolkien [Alz]

Listening to: Justin Timberlake's long-awaited new single. Can't decide if I like it or not, but it's quite 90s R&B.

Thinking about: Going into the event planning business thanks to the beautiful bridal shower me & my fellow bridesmaids pulled off this weekend! (No, just kidding - doing this is way too stressful for a career...)

The Sister & I hand-made those flowers! (Except the baby's breath & sunflowers)

Anticipating: SHERLOCK SEASON 3 which seems like it may never happen because the stars are too busy Star Trekking and Hobbiting and OMG JUST GIVE US THE NEXT SEASON! It's only 3 episodes! *cries*

Wishing: For 3 day weekends EVERY WEEK. I mean, seriously! I think it's necessary to my health.

Making Me Happy: This is a no-brainer. LOKI!

Look at that pearly smile!
Q4U: What's happening with you currently? :)


2012 in Review: Part 2

Here's the rest of 2012 in links and pictures. I realized maybe we should've done this before 2013 came around, but we were on holiday!

Onward to August!


We participated in Camp NaNoWriMo again, this time with a MOST EXCELLENT cabin. It was called Tiger Tea Tent and it included Julie, Linda, Emy, Sophia, Krispy, and Alz!

Loki continued to be cute while increasing his size.

We (along with Sophia) attended the book signing for Sarah J. Maas' Throne of Glass.

The Sister and my besties piled into a car with me, and we
drove to Vegas for my 26th birthday. (OMG, 26!)

...where we exhibited our enviable dance skillz0rs.

Krispy discovered BOBA POPSICLES and freaked.

We posted our WIP Love Lists thanks to a prompt from YA Highway.


The Sister gave us a Fall Music Preview.

We did the currently... meme for the first time. It included Loki and Dalek cupcakes.

We showcased our favorite book-to-movie adaptations (the non-franchise ones). This was before Life of Pi came out, of course, though Krispy was looking forward to seeing the movie anyway. (It was excellent, in case you were wondering, and absolutely visually stunning. So happy about its Oscar noms!)

We introduced a Worldbuilding Wednesday Series and advised people to NOT BE LAZY, though we have more posts to write. We do, however, link to older posts about worldbuilding.


We were tagged by Caroline to do the Next Big Thing Meme/Survey. So we talked about our WIPs (different from the Love List WIPs)- Krispy's is an Asian-inspired fantasy about family curses and blessings; Alz's is an urban fantasy/murder mystery about a pragmatic, cynical protagonist & her starry-eyed, romantic-notioned love interest (or she would say, stalker).

Night 1: Hollywood Bowl
Krispy and her sister saw Jason Mraz, twice.

Night 2: Acoustic show at the Wiltern.

Krispy and her sister then flew off to Europe on a family vacation. Countries visited: Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Czech Republic

Germany: Frankfurt, Würzburg, Munich, Neuschwanstein Castle
Austria: Salzburg, Lake Wolfgang, Vienna
Slovenia: Ljubljana and Postojna Cave
Croatia: Plitvice Lakes (16 Lakes) National Park

Budapest, Hungary: Heroe's Square, Parliament, Matthias Church
Czech Republic: Prague
Germany: Berlin

Meanwhile, Alz took care of Loki, the Cute Overlord.

Alz also continued Worldbuilding Wednesdays with a discussion of foundation and the differences between acceptance, plausibility, and believability as shown in Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series.

Krispy returned before the end of the month and celebrated Halloween by dressing up as Taylor Swift & having boba with Sophia. Loki was a shark.


We voted.
Krispy went to Vegas again for a bestie's birthday.
This is Trip #3 for anyone keeping count.

Alz made a catalog of her doodle self-portraits.

We presented a Thanksgiving Book Feast and then made (and ate!) actual food.

We mini-reviewed two fairytale-inspired novels: Throne of Glass and Shadows on the Moon

Alz brought back Key Scenes Illustrated!


Alz took, for the first time at A Nudge, doodle requests and fulfilled them.

We took part again in the YA Superlative Blogfest! The categories were Head of Class, Popularity Contest, Elements of Fiction, and Best in Show.

SOURCE: bunnylake.tumblr.com
This book, although not YA, certainly made an impressive showing because 
it was so flipping good. Krispy cried; Alz cried on the inside...a little.

The last post of the year was a December recap in photos, including puppy playtime pics and Krispy's marvelous book tree!

Q4U: What are you looking forward to in 2013?


Galadriel the Bamf

DISCLAIMER: The following post contains (generally mild) spoilers for the movie versions of The Fellowship of the Ring and The Hobbit.

So I finally got to see The Hobbit recently and although The Lord of the Rings was better, The Hobbit was fun enough.  I reread the book afterward since my recollection of events was somewhat hole-y in the way that colanders are hole-y, and was mildly astonished at how little of some things I remembered.

Then I proceeded to rewatched The Fellowship of the Ring.  It was at this time that I realized that Galadriel is a bamf.

This immortal elf lady has power, wields it, does what she wants, and rules with an iron fist clad in a delicate velvet glove.  I mean come on, just watch Fellowship again.  When the Fellowship goes to Lothlorien and everyone is escorted to Celeborn and Galadriel, Celeborn is all vaguely snooty and like, "Hey guys, what's up?  Weren't there more of you?  Where's Gandalf?  I really want to talk to Gandalf."
In the meantime, Galadriel is having a mental IM session with Frodo, letting him know she knows why he's there and oh hey is that the One Ring, and also incidentally noting Gandalf's demise.  She politely waits until Celeborn is done making unhelpful comments and demands before announcing that the Grey Wizard is no more.
She also proceeds to look at Boromir.

Seriously.  She looks at him for like 0.5 seconds and proud Boromir, Captain of Gondor, breaks down in tears.
Galadriel is pretty bamfy through the rest of her scenes too, showing she knows what's up and gracefully shoving Frodo into making choices before giving the members of the Fellowship exactly what gifts they need.
In The Hobbit, my favorite part (besides her decorously and majestically turning so that her gossamer skirts twirl around her just so) is when there's a meeting called at Rivendell to discuss Thorin and company, during which Gandalf brings up the Necromancer as a growing unrelated problem.  Saruman launches into a longwinded speech about how there's no such thing, the land is peaceful, etc. etc., while Elrond walks around in the background and occasionally tosses in his two cents.  I admit that my portrayal of him in the following doodles is less than accurate, but oh well.

Basically Galadriel uses her mindpowers to say and do whatever she wants behind the scenes while maintaining an outer appearance of ethereal courtesy and graciousness.  It's no wonder that her husband Celeborn doesn't figure into any of the movies.  If Galadriel had taken the Ring from Frodo, she probably would have crushed Sauron with the power of her brain alone without even bothering to walk into Mordor--and she would have walked, in a stately graceful pace, make no doubt about that.
Have you seen The Hobbit?  What did you think VS LotR?