Review: The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

Posted 15 February, 2015 by Brittney in Review, Uncategorized / 0 Comments

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly BlackThe Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare, Holly Black
Published by Scholastic on 2014-09-09
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, Friendship, Middle Grade
Pages: 295
Format: eARC
From New York Times bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a riveting new five book series that defies what you think you know about the world of magic.Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial. Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail. All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him. So he tries his best to do his worst -- and fails at failing. Now the Magisterium awaits him. It's a place that's both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future. The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come . . . From the remarkable imaginations of bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a heart-stopping, mind-blowing, pulse-pounding plunge into the magical unknown.

     The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare isn’t bad, but it isn’t the second coming of Harry Potter either. The ending, though easily foreseeable, was intriguing enough in its implications that that I will give the next book in the series a go, but the plot left me wanting and not in a good, just-call-me-Veruca-Salt sort of way.

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Book Haul (1): January ’15

Posted 2 February, 2015 by Brittney in Book Haul / 0 Comments

Published by Macmillan, Penguin Random House



The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I totally already own both of these books, but I couldn’t resist the siren’s call of a beautiful foreign edition’s cover

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

I received a paperback of this book at my first rep breakfast, but I loved the series and would like to own the hardcovers

The Nethergrim by Matthew Jobin

An anticipated book from 2014 that I totally missed out on.

Gilt by Katherine Longshore

Have heard good things and it was only $2.

The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska by John Green

Will post on these two later this week

Word of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

Love love loved The Way of Kings (which I bough in hardcover at an author event), but when this book came out I just couldn’t find it in myself to drop $28 on the hardcover. Well this month, I found it on bargain and got it for $7! Woo!

A Hero at the End of the World by Erin Claiborne

Harry Potter written by Douglas Adams? Take all my fucking money.

For Review

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (Macmillan)

This doesn’t come out until May, but if I don’t finish it soon, my coworkers are likely to murder me.

Mosquitoland by David Arnold (Random Penguin House)

Not pictured. Local author, FTW!!

* * *

What books did you bring home this past month?




Author Event: Marissa Meyer!!!!!!!

Posted 1 February, 2015 by Brittney in Author Event / 0 Comments

Mirror Mirror

Marissa Meyer is without doubt one of my favorite YA authors. She actually came to Joseph-Beth, my local bookstore, for Cinder. I hadn’t read her book at that point, but I saw the book cover on the bookstore’s website and it was so awesome that I considered checking it out. At this time, I was a college student majoring in engineering so I was lacking in both time and money and decided against it. When I read the book 4 months later, I was sooo pissed. Here I had this book that I adored and a huge missed opportunity to have read the book earlier and met the author.

We bookstore in the mid-west have this thing where we host authors for their first or seconds books, and then they get HUGELY popular (coughStephenieMeyercoughVeronicaRothcough) and then they never come back. So I had resigned myself to never meeting her without a lengthy road trip.

Then on Cyborg Monday when the tour was announced, image my utter joy to find out that she’d be coming to our store!!!!! The ticked went on sale on Dec 2 and you better believe that I was the first person to preorder and get my ticket.


lunar ball


As part of the event, our store would be hosting a Lunar Ball. This would include music and trivia and costume contests. You could come as you are, or you could dress up as a character, or just doll up in your fanciest dress. I did not have the sewing skills to make my own costume and I didn’t want to be so boring that I just showed up in my usual clothing, so I went thrifting and found the most perfect, wonderfully fitting dress imaginable.IMAG0547

I also decided that since this was a ball that I would get crafty and make a masquerade mask. I had an old copy of Scarlet that had seen better days (little sisters are the worst). Since it was likely on it’s way to the book graveyard, I decided to use it to make my mask.


IMAG0592IMAG0593 It took forever to find words that I wanted to use and that would actually fit inside my paper punch.

Lately, I have been playing around with Resin to make jewelry, so I made a couple Lunar Chronicles necklaces. I wore Cress which is my favorite book, gave Cinder to a coworker, hid Scarlet because it turned out terrible, and gave Fairest, Glitches, and The Queen’s Army to random people in line.


I also made a rose out of pages from Scarlet to clip in my hair. It looked lovely, but I forgot to take pictures. 🙁

Lunar Ball


Since we started selling preorders with tickets to the event, I have been tracking the sales because I really wanted this event to have a spectacular turn out to increase the likely-hood of having her back for a future event. I had the nagging fear that no one would show up despite this being one of the best series ever. Boy did I spend time worrying for nothing.

All The People!

The turnout was amazing!!! So many people showed up looking awesome in their costumes or gorgeous in their finery. I had to stop myself from squealing over all the tiny littler Cinders and the one littler girl dressed up as Winter. So many people who loved this series coming out to support Marissa Meyer was so wonderful.

The costumes were so creative that I just couldn’t. People with painted hands and legs. People wearing battery packs. Grease smudges. Red Hoodies everywhere. There was one girl who had a Merida wig as part of her Scarlet costume which was perfect.

And the winner of the costume contest…

IMAG0563All the costumes!

…had a little bit over everything. Levana’s wedding dress and crown (which she soldered herself!), Cinder’s glove, Scarlet’s hoodie, and Cress’s ribboned braid. Fantastic.

Meet the Author

Like most author events, Marissa came out before the signing to talk to the crowd. Do a Q&A and a reading.

Some questions asked by the audience:

Where did you get your inspiration for the series?

Marissa entered a small writing contest where she retold Puss in Boots, but set it in the far future. She knew that she wanted to do some sort of sci-fi fairy tale retelling, but it wasn’t until she had a dream where Cinderella ran from the ball, but instead of losing her shoe, her foot fell off. Oh! she thought. Cinderella is a Cyborg!

Who is your OTP?

Marissa loves all of her leading men so much that she just cannot choose just one guy or one couple.

Why did you decide to write Fairest?

The Wicked Queen was one of the first characters that Marissa knew that she wanted to include in her series (the big bad wolf was the other). Over the years, she had sort of developed bits of backstory for Levana. When her publisher asked her to write a short story for promo purposes, she thought that perhaps this would be the opportunity to explore her backstory, but when she found out that it needed to be under 20 pages: there was just no way. So Marissa sat it aside. Then while writing Winter, she kept getting stuck while writing Levana’s scenes. She deduced that the issue was that she needed to know more about Levana so she took a break from writing Winter and wrote Fairest (in just 9 days (omg)).

Will all of the characters have satisfying endings?/Will anyone die?

“You can’t honestly believe that I would actually answer that?”


Reading from Winter

I really wish I had a picture from the front, but alas I do not.

In addition to answering a bunch of questions, Marissa read an excerpt from Winter!


 I was so excited to meet Marissa in person and to get my books signed. All the words just came tumbling out, but at the very least I’m glad that I didn’t just yell at her “I love your books!!!!!!!!” and then run and hide in the Ancient Histories section of the bookstore. I do weird things when I get nervous sometimes. Marissa was soooo nice and she liked the mask that I made and even signed it for me!

After the signing all of the booksellers who dressed up for the occasion took a staff photo with Marissa.


We are a beautiful group of people.

I saw people cry from joy, two girls hyperventilate in the YA section from the sheer excited of meeting their favorite author, and a ton of people come out (some from great distances) to meet their favorite author. In a way those moments were the ones I liked the most. Yes, I was so happy to meet a favorite author, but there is just something about seeing all of those people excited for a book series that they love. From the costumes to the cheers of excitement when she was introduces, to just how crowded the bookstore was, it was all just amazing.

Book Swag

IMAG0580IMAG0584   IMAG0586    IMAG0578



* * *

If you have the chance to meet Marissa on tour, do it! Though I’m sorry to say that it’s impossible for your tour event to be as awesome as ours.






Top Ten Tuesday (6): Top 10 Books to Read w/ My Book Club

Posted 27 January, 2015 by Brittney in Book Club, Not Just for YAs, Top Ten Tuesday / 0 Comments


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

At the beginning of 2014, I had made a tentative sort of goal to join a book club. The only club that I knew of was the book club at my work that focuses on Literary adult literature. I dabble in these sort of books from time to time, but they aren’t really my jam. I read mostly YA w/ some adult sci-fi and fantasy.

I mentioned to a coworker wanting to join a YA focused book club but that I didn’t really know where to start looking for one. Because we both love YA and both liked the idea of discussing YA with other people we decided to start the Not Just for YAs Book Club.

We read some great books last year (Love Letters to the Dead, Grasshopper Jungle, Conversion), and we already have some great books picked out for this year.

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Review: How To Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

Posted 21 January, 2015 by Brittney in Review, Uncategorized / 0 Comments

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: How To Build a Girl by Caitlin MoranHow to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran
Published by HarperCollins on 2014-09-23
Genres: Coming of Age, Fiction, Humorous, Literary
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
What do you do in your teenage years when you realize what your parents taught you wasn't enough? You must go out and find books and poetry and pop songs and bad heroes—and build yourself.It's 1990. Johanna Morrigan, fourteen, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there's no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde—fast-talking, hard-drinking gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer. She will save her poverty-stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer—like Jo in Little Women, or the Brontës—but without the dying-young bit.By sixteen, she's smoking cigarettes, getting drunk, and working for a music paper. She's writing pornographic letters to rock stars, having all the kinds of sex with all the kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less.But what happens when Johanna realizes she's built Dolly with a fatal flaw? Is a box full of records, a wall full of posters, and a head full of paperbacks enough to build a girl after all?Imagine The Bell Jar—written by Rizzo from Grease. How to Build a Girl is a funny, poignant, and heartbreakingly evocative story of self-discovery and invention, as only Caitlin Moran could tell it.

How to Build a Girl was brought to my attention at our Rep Breakfast back in the spring, and I was excited to read it. I liked the cover and it sounded super sex positive, and the author sounded vaguely familiar even though I couldn’t quite remember where I knew the name from.

Some time and one hilarious hashtag later (#caitlinmoranshouldread), I remember her from the time she moderated for a Sherlock panel and totally pulled a dick move.

My initial interest lessened after Caitlin Moran’s complete dismissal (in her interview with the Bookseller) of an entire genre that she obviously has not read much of, but I still downloaded it off of Edelweiss to give it a shot.

* * *

Caitlin Moran is nowhere near the first author to explore teenage sexuality, but despite my reservations, How to Build a Girl is a good addition to those which came before.

There reader that I am today has issues with this book. The asides from the adult Johanna were distracting. This was teenage Johanna’s coming of age. The story would have been more impactful had it not felt more like adult Johanna’s memoir. The pace dragged at times and I’d have to stop myself from skimming. Overall, the book felt weighed down under the pile of points that Moran was trying to get across.

Teenage me would not have cared about any of that. How To Build a Girl would probably have been my Catcher in the Rye.

Context: Catcher was never a required read in high school. I picked it up because my favorite English teacher loved it and because it was supposed to be THE coming of age story. A voice for teenagers everywhere. I loathed it. Holden Caulfield was not representative of my voice. I didn’t relate to him as a character. I couldn’t empathize with his struggles. As far as I was concerned, he was a self-absorbed whiner not the misunderstood teenage battling against a hypocritical and uncaring world that my teacher felt for.

I’ve read many books and related to and admired plenty of complex female characters, but I never had a Catcher in the Rye, a book that seemed to completely encompass the spirit of being a teenager.

I feel like How to Build a Girl could be that book for a lot of teenage girls. Being a teenage girl was sometimes confusing and often frustrating and sometimes even a little bit horrifying.

This book showed all of that, the gritty truth of being a teenage girl, all the things that we think and feel, but never feel comfortable sharing. As a teenager, I would have related to Johanna hard.

~Shelf Talker~

how to build a girl

Favorite Quote:

All my life, I’ve thought that if I couldn’t say anything boys found interesting, I might as well shut up. But now I realize there was that whole other, invisible half of the world—girls—that I could speak to instead. A whole other half equally silent and frustrated, just waiting to be given the smallest starting signal—the tiniest starter culture—and they would explode into words, and song, and action, and relieved, euphoric cries of ‘Me too, I feel this too!’



Top Ten Tuesday Freebie (5): Top 10 Books that I Hand-Sell to Customers

Posted 21 January, 2015 by Brittney in Perks of Being a Bookseller, Top Ten Tuesday / 0 Comments


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week is a Freebie week, and I’ve been tossing around a few ideas. Mostly I was considering doing a topic that was featured before I started blogging about stuff. I really liked the idea of sharing the words/topics that will steal my money, but I decided to do a topic related to my job.

Hand-selling is an important part of being a bookseller. So many books are published each year and it is so easy for really awesome books that might not have the marketing support that other books do to get lost on our shelves. Booksellers help these books to be seen.

It’s really the best part of our job. To take books that we love and literally put them in other people’s hands.

So here are the top 10 books that I hand-sell to customers.

Books That I’ve Actually Read

grave mercydarktriumphmortalheart

His Fair Assassin Trilogy by Robin LaFevers

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Perks of Being a Bookseller (1): Author Dinner w/ Karen Bao

Posted 18 January, 2015 by Brittney in Author Event, Perks of Being a Bookseller / 0 Comments


Occasionally when a publisher sends their author out on tour, they will have their pub reps in select locations host an author dinner.

In the world of Bricks and Mortar, booksellers can absolutely make books that aren’t getting a huge marketing push from the publisher. So from time to time, pub reps will invite booksellers out to have dinner with some of their lesser known authors. This both puts the book on the booksellers radar if it already wasn’t and gives the booksellers a chance to make a connection with the author.

(There are just some authors that are so nice and cool that you can’t help but want their books to do well.)

A few weeks back, I was super excited to receive an invitation from our Penguin Rep to meet and have dinner with Karen Bao, debut author of Dove Arising.


This is was the second author dinner hosted by Penguin that I’ve had the pleasure of attending, and I am always so unbelievable grateful for the opportunity. I adore meeting authors even though I’m totally an awkward turtle about it.

(Even before I worked at the bookstore, I would go to a lot of events that they hosted and rehearse what I would say the authors and then I’d just be like, “hi…”)

* * *

About the Book: Dove Arising

dovearising by karen bao

Summary (from author’s website): Phaet Theta has lived her whole life in a colony on the Moon. She’s barely spoken since her family died in an accident nine years ago. She cultivates the plants in Greenhouse 22, lets her best friend speak for her, and stays off the government’s radar.

Then her mother is arrested.

The only way to save her younger siblings from the degrading Shelter is by enlisting in the Militia, the faceless army that polices the Lunar Bases and supposedly protects them from attacks by desperate Earth-dwellers. Training is brutal, but it allows Phaet to come out of her shell and make friends, including an uneasy alliance with the preternaturally accomplished Wes, a fellow outsider.

Rank high, save her siblings, free her mom: that’s the plan. Until Phaet’s logically ordered world begins to crumble…

* * *

About the Author: Karen Bao

karen bao

Dove Arising is Karen Bao’s first book. It’s an impressive debut which she wrote when she was 17. She is now a junior at an ivy league college balancing writing with her classes. Even more impressive is the fact that she is majoring in Biochemistry.

eddie izzard

When she was signed by an agent, she was excited to discover that her agent also represented Christopher Paolini. She asked her agent if she could write a letter and have it forwarded to him. She got one better. A phone call. She told us that they hit it off over the phone, and he has been her friend and writing mentor ever since.

(This is awesome. Paolini was my gateway into fantasy.)

Karen is a huge fan of Harry Potter and like me grew up along with the books.

The totalitarian society in the books was inspired by stories she heard about her grandfather who was a professor impressioned in Mae’s reeducation camps in China.


I haven’t finished reading the book yet. It’s pretty impressive so far having been written by a teenager, but there are certain things that stick out as things that teenage writers tend to do when they first start writing. When I finish the book, I’ll post a full review.

* * *

In addition to having the opportunity to meet an author, these dinners are also a chance to talk to fellow booksellers as well as booksellers from other local bookstores.

I always here the most amazing stories from people who have been in the business far longer than I.

* * *

If I can say that I have one regret from the dinner, it’s that I got to meet Kenneth Wright who is currently the Vice President and publisher for Viking Children’s Books and didn’t talk to him more. He used to be a literary agent which is the direction that I’d like my career path to head.

I’m the worst at making small talk and never know how to talk to new people.

* * *

There are many Perks of Being a Bookseller. Meeting authors is one of them.





Goals for 2015

Posted 15 January, 2015 by Brittney in Let's Chat / 0 Comments


I created this blog last year with the intention of keeping better track of the books that I read and the reviews that I wrote. My “realistic” goals were to write and post at least 1 review a week, quit lurking on other people’s blogs and actually pop in for a hello, and occasionally write a bookish, non-review post.

I failed so spectacularly.

At the start of this year, I was tempted to just delete what little I did post and just start over, but I’m a firm believer in learning from one’s failures.

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Top Ten Tuesday (4): Oh shit, did those already come out…

Posted 14 January, 2015 by Brittney in Top Ten Tuesday / 0 Comments

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

I’ve mentioned before the hazard of being a bookseller. That moment when you go into work and double take as you pass a shelf, staring in frustrated disbelief that another book from you pile of TBR ARCs is already on the shelves.

Dammit, I think to myself. Maybe I should get a better system of organization than ‘well any fairly study horizontal-ish surface makes a serviceable bookshelf’.

(I often find books in places that books have no business being)

Anyway, below is a list of books that came out in 2014 that I totally dropped the ball on. I could probably list about 100, but for the sake of brevity (and keeping with the title of the meme), I have narrowed it down to only 10.

100 Sideways MilesOpen Road SummerBrown Girl Dreaming

100 Sidesways Miles by Andrew Smith

I loved Grasshopper Jungle, and wanted to read more books by Andrew Smith. (Still haven’t read Winger, but that’s not a 2014 release)

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Emery is a local author and I went to two events where she was one of the featured authors. She was super fun, and I’d heard great things about her book. I bought a copy and then proceeded to not read it.

(I’ve actually read an ARC of her upcoming book The Start of Me and You which I loved, but I still have yet read her debut.)

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Every time I spoke to one of our pub reps in 2014, he would wax on about how this was the best book he had read and would read all year. It won the National Book Award so I think he may have been onto something.

Mortal Heart The Falconer Cruel Beauty

Mortal Heart by Robin LavFevers

This is one of my favorite YA series. Assassin nuns, FTW. I was so excited about this series finale, and I just never got around to reading it.

The Falconer by Elizabeth May

Scottish Lore, steampunk technology, awesome cover.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Beauty and the Beast retelling. ‘Nough said.

After the End Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place The Nethergrim (Hardcover) The Thickety

After the End by Amy Plum

This is another love at first cover sighting. Love the cover and have heard good things about it.

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry

I adored Berry’s book All the Truth That’s in Me and couldn’t wait to read another from her. This sounded so fun and the cover was so great.

The Nethergrim by Matthew Jobin

I was so excited for this book. I’m always looking for great middle grade fantasy to recommend to my little sister and this sounding like it would be excellent. Also, I loved the cover.

The Thickety by J.A. White

For fans of Neil Gaiman? I’m a fan of Neil Gaiman. Also a coworker read the ARC and love love-love-loved it to bits.

I lied I’m doing eleven.

red rising

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

So I have a coworker, let’s call him Dave (because that’s his name). Dave is the best and the worst. He is super passionate about books and it’s so easy to get caught up in his excitement. Terrible for me because I never left the store without a new book and my bank account just couldn’t.

This was one of his favorite books from last year, so it inevitable made its way into my shopping cart and onto my reading list.

* * *

What 2014 releases did you miss out on?


Review: Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

Posted 6 November, 2014 by Brittney in Review / 0 Comments

Review: Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCourEverything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
Published by Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated on 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Film, LGBT, Love & Romance, Performing Arts, Young Adult
Pages: 307
Format: Hardcover
A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.

Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.

Everything Leads to You does a wonderful job of capturing all of the insecurities and hopes and dreams and awkwardness that comes with transitioning into adulthood.

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