Top Ten Tuesday: Sequels I’m Dying to Read

by Tee

I love the topic of this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, as hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  It’s Top Ten Sequels I’m Dying to Read.  I mean, it’s just so hard to wait.  This is why I prefer to read a series once it’s all released (which is what I did in the case of Harry Potter and let me tell you, my husband and my mental health thank me for that because I would have obsessed over every single detail until I ended up divorced or in a straight jacket if I’d waited a year for each installment).  In a perfect world, this would happen with all books, but alas it does not and so I spend my time on blogs and chat rooms looking for endless tidbits to discuss about what could happen next to my favorite characters.  And worse, sometimes the authors throw me a teaser and it only seems to magnify my intense need to get that sequel.  So here are the books I’m totally spazzing about:

1. The Next Mortal Instruments book by Cassandra Clare- I say it this way because, as stated last week, I have purposely avoided reading City of Fallen Angels, so that I might hold onto my last shred of sanity for a little while longer while waiting for City of Lost Souls which doesn’t come out until May.  And even then, it’s not over, which makes me both happy (because I love this series) and sad (because hate waiting).

2. Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth–  I loved Divergent and I cannot imagine how much more intense this sequel will be.  As far as I know, we have a pretty long wait though because according to Roth’s website it’s not due until Spring or Summer of 2012.  Guess I’ll have to read Divergent again to get my fix of Tris and Four until then.

3. Underworld (Abandon #2) by Meg Cabot- Oh ladies, I loved Peirce and John.  I thought this was such a great book, retelling of the myth of Persephone  in Meg’s signature style.  The sequel comes out in Spring of 2012!

4. Goddess Interrupted (The Goddess Test #2) by Aimee Carter- Speaking of the myth of Persephone, we’re due to hear more from Kate and her hottypants husband Henry!  Vee and I absolutely adored the first book. The sequel comes out in April of 2012.  Sigh.  It’s really too far away.

5. Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale- Guys ,I love the pants off of Austenland.  I can barely stand to wait for the film, which I wholeheartedly hope will make my heart get all pitter- pattery the way the book did.  Until then, we can enjoy another visit to Pemberly Park.

6. Clockwork Prince (Infernal Devices #2) by Cassandra Clare- The first book in this series, Clockwork Angel was so, so good.  I made the dastardly mistake of reading it right after it came out (I know!) and I have been waiting and waiting to see what the heck Will is hiding. And will there be any kissing?  I mean, these are important questions and things I think my husband has grown weary of discussing with me at length, considering he has no idea who Will or Jem or Tessa are (Seriously, what’s wrong with him?). As with all things Cassandra Clare, I expect that the sequel will be equally good, if not better.

7. A Million Suns ( Across the Universe #2) by Beth Revis- Oh, the first book in this series was so awesomely creepy and suspenseful.  I am dying to see what life holds for Amy, Elder and the occupants of Godspeed.  I’m sure it will be cringe-inducing, but in the best way possible.

8. Hallowed (Unearthly #2) by Cynthia Hand- I’ve not had a chance to review Unearthly yet, but let me assure that it is excellent.  Like, I want to do that Italian thing where I kiss my fingers and look at the book and say “Bellisima!”  But I’m kinda weird that way. Anyhoo, I can’t wait for the sequel to this story about Clara, who is part guardian angel, part normal girl!

9. Pandemonium (Delirium #2) by Lauren Oliver- It’s no secret that I cried my little eyes out while reading DeliriumOliver’s writing is beautiful and completely captivating and I am dying to see what life is like for Lena now that she is in the Wilds. Plus…SPOILER ALERT (kind of)… I just have to believe that a certain someone is still alive and that she’ll see this person again.  SHE HAS TO!!! HAS. TO!

10. Shine (Shade #3) by Jeri Smith-Ready- I thought Shade was such a fantastic, excellent twist in the paranormal genre (a genre I’m generally not a huge fan of).  With the sequel, Shift (review coming soon), Smith-Ready brought the intensity to a whole new level.  Now I am so caught up in the story of Aura, Logan and Zach (oh Zach with your rolling rrrrr’s and kilt. Sometimes I think about adding you to my list.).  This third and final book can’t come soon enough.

Top Ten Tuesday: Trends We’d Like to See More or Less Of

by Tee

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely ladies at The Broke and The Bookish.  This week they’ve picked a super-cool subject, Top Ten Trends We’d Like to See More or Less Of.  I know, right?  How long do you have?

Actually, when it comes right down to it, there are a few really, really annoying trends that continue to be overdone in YA books today (hey who’s judging?  Someone out there loves them), but it was tough for me to come up with a large list of things I wanted to see more of because YA authors continue to inspire me, make me cry, make me laugh and most importantly, make me feel a little swoony.  Still, here’s my list: a combination of things I’d like to see a little (or a lot) less of and some I’d be happy to see more of.

1.  Less Angels, Wolves, Vampires– For the love of everything  holy, I get that Twilight was a colossal, huge, gigantor hit.  I totally enjoyed it and the sequels.  But does every book have to be about these three things?  I mean, I know there were no angels in those books, but you get my point, right?  Many of the ones that have been done are great (Blue Bloods, for example) but many have fallen short (I won’t go into names).  On with the program!  Let’s have some new otherworldly creatures.  Or let’s see more books like The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, where such paranormal creatures are a part of the story, but they aren’t the only story.

2. Less “New, Dangerous Boy in School Coincidentally Assigned to Be Lame Girl/Heroine’s Lab Partner”- Really. I’m astonished at the sheer volume of books that use some combination of this idea to throw the main character and her possible love interest together. Is there no other way for them to meet, hate each other and then fall madly in scary, dangerous love?  And also,  I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, where was this abundance of new crazy hot single male students when I was in high school?  Nowhere. There was not a single transfer. Nope. Not a one.  There were hot guys, but not mysterious ones who seemed to come from another world and coincidentally needed a Bio partner.

3.  Less Fairies- I’ll admit it. I hate fairy books.  I can’t explain why. I just have an unfair aversion to them. Maybe it’s because I spend way too much time at Disneyland and so my image of fairies has been completely warped by Tinkerbell.  I know there’s some creepy lore out there about these mystical, powerful creatures, but they just don’t do it for me.

4. Less Annoying Love Triangles- Sometimes a love triangle can be so good in that it stirs up your emotions and makes you say, “Dylan, what the shizz are you thinking? Brenda is a moody, selfish spoiled brat (who will go on to get fired by Aaron Spelling more than once) and Kelly is so much sweeter and so much prettier and so NOT one of those stick in the mud Walshes?”  I mean, come on. Who can hear that Sophie B. Hawkins song, “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” and not think of Dylan, Kelly and Brenda?  Is it just me?

Anyhow, where was I? Oh yeah, less love triangles, please.  Don’t get me wrong. I like love triangles, but there are some that feel so manipulative, like the author couldn’t think of another way to throw a wrench in the love story. Or worse, they spend so much time making one part of the triangle look so obnoxious that it’s impossible to believe our heroine could really be that stupid (Bella, for serious. You cannot be in love with two people at once. You can like two people. You can love one and be attracted to another, but you cannot be in love with both. Especially if one is an apeface like Jacob Black). I can go on for days about this.

5. More Ghosts- I really enjoyed Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready. To me it was incredibly unique.  And while I liked the love story aspect of that book, I think any story with ghosts is pretty intriguing if it’s well-written. So bring on the spooky stuff or the creepy stuff or the tragically sweet swoony stuff (or any combination).

6. More Real Girls- The ladies who can skin a squirrel and kick everyone’s arse are incredible to me. I love their stories because they are so far removed from me and my own sheltered life. But give me a real, normal girl any day and I’ll eat up her story in one sitting.  This is why Sarah Dessen’s girls speak to me or why I loved books like Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn’t Have).  These are characters who seem like people I once knew (or who are like I was when I was younger).  I feel an instant connection with them. Along with that, I’d love to see more stories about the relationships these girls have.  Not the romantic ones, but the ones they have with their siblings and best friends.  Real-life situations, for better or for worse.

7.  More Retellings- I recently enjoyed the pants off Entwined by Heather Dixon, which was a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses.  It was familiar and yet totally fresh and new in its own right. And there have been other books that attempt to do the same, such as The Goddess Test and Abandon, both which successfully take on the myth of Persephone.  It’s always fun to see a new twist on an old idea.

8.  More Science Fiction- Now, I’m not a huge sci-fi buff, unless you count the fact that I’m crazy insane totally in love with Star Wars (now I know I put up a Star Trek picture, but I got too overwhelmed with the awesome Star Wars options on Google. It was very distracting).  But really, other than that, I don’t really read science fiction.  This year I picked up Across the Universe and was blown away.  The premise is fantastic, but more and more I forgot that I was reading something that wasn’t entirely plausible in this world as much as it was just completely engrossing.  And then as I thought more about it, I realized that my favorite book ever is The Time Traveler’s Wife, which, I don’t know if you realize, is about a guy who time travels (kind of sci-fi, right?).  I think I’m ready for more stories like these!

9. More Historical Fiction- I’ve not read a ton of historical fiction in YA, though I’ve read a few Adult Fiction and loved them. I think the opportunity to learn about life in another time period, especially one that is significant in history, would be a welcome change.  And they don’t even have to be heavy, serious stories.  Think Nicola and The Viscount or Victoria and The Rouge, both by Meg Cabot and thereby both as charming and romantic as any of her modern novels.

10. Fish out of Water/Or More Exotic Locales- One of the things I loved about Anna and the French Kiss (outside of the fact that I loved everything) was that Anna was an American student in Paris, someplace I’ve always dreamed of visiting. Or recently I picked up Falling in Love With English Boys, about a girl spending a summer in England with her mom.  Stories such as these,  where the main character has to get acclimated to a new environment, make new friends and face the normal challenges that girls their age encounter, make the story that much more interesting. And, as a huge plus, they give me a chance to travel, if only mentally, to some wonderful places.

King of the Underworld a hottie? Um, fo sho.

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

EVERY GIRL who has taken the test has DIED.

Now it’s KATE’S TURN.

It’s always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate’s going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won’t live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he’ll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he’s crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she’ll become Henry’s future bride, and a goddess.

If she fails…

Here’s the scoop:

Whoa.  Sounds heavy, right?  Well, yea, kind of, but there is so much more to this book than life and death drama.  Like swoony pants action with the King of the Underworld.

Kate Winters is grappling with the approach of her mother’s untimely death.  Mom has been struggling for years with cancer and we meet them on Kate’s 18th birthday on the road from New York to Eden, Michigan.  Mom’s dying wish is to live out the last of her days, which evidently are somewhere in the slim to none category, in her hometown.

Mom begins her walk down nostalgia road by asking Kate to make a stop in a wooded area not far from the outskirts of town. So they pop by and mom takes a moment at a hu-mon-goid wrought iron gate which she says is the entrance to Eden Manor.  Anything called a “manor” sounds creepsville to me.  And even though, after mom stares lovingly at the gate for a lil’ bit all they do is return to the car and go on their way, I know Eden Manor is something to watch out for in this story.  I am just gifted that way.

As they approach the town of Eden, Kate nearly sends her mom, and herself, to an earlier grave, as she has a near miss with a cow on the road and swerves the car into a spin that nearly crashes them into a line of trees, which I hear can be pretty painful.  Mom, in her weak state and all, pretty much sleeps through all of this, but Kate spots a hella good looking young, dark, brooding fellow in a black coat (because they always gotsa to be in foreboding wardrobe, it’s the rule!).  This brief encounter through her rear view mirror leaves her unsettled.

They settle into a not-so-cozy house, and Kate begrudgingly starts her new school, appropriately named Eden High where she befriends James, who incidentally is kinda the school weirdo. Then, of course, once Dylan, the captain of the football team, starts making googly eyes her way, all-a-sudden Ava, GF of the aforementioned high school football star, who is – shockingly – captain of the cheerleaders, decides it’s time to be friendly.

Ava turns out to be a big phony bologny byotch.  She takes Kate on a wild goose chase towards a supposedly awesome party, into the dark, dark forest, across a cold river (not cool since Kate is like tote’s afraid of water) not far from Eden Manor.  (Did I call it, or what?  Just sayin.)  Once there Kate realizes, WHAT?  There’s no party, no cool people by the keg!  Ava takes off her clothes, revealing a bikini – and with it – her plan to abandon Kate in this predicament all along, all because she was mad at Kate over her boyfriend sending some stink eye her way!  Like it’s Kate’s fault!?  Homegirl dives into the river, cracks her head and passes out.  (That’s why mom always said, “Feet first the first time,” yo!)  So now Kate has to save the bish-who-JUST-stole-her-pads?  Child, please.

So now, Kate’s not alone in the middle of the woods, at night, not knowing how to get back home.  Oh no, now she has a dead girl for company.  As she sits there pondering what to do about the dead girl, guess who shows up?!?!?  Um, dark, brooding dude with the black coat.  I KNOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!  And, in a nutshell he asks Kate, in his totally hot, swoony way, what she would do if only she could give Ava her life back.  And Kate says, “Anything.”  Oh shizz, girlfriend, don’t you know?  Never say, “Anything”!  Not to a dark, mysterious, seemingly super natural being in a BOOK.  Cuz in a BOOK, he’ll be all, “Alrighty then, how about giving your life over to me and being queen of the Underworld for 6 months out of the year, for the rest of eternity?”  Obvs you’ll say, “Sure thing, jelly bean,” because you think this guy is high.  Who would possibly do that?  Henry, as this gorgeous fellow introduces himself, that’s who!  And he does.  In two seconds flat Ava goes from dead to not.  Henry’s only condition is that Kate stay true to her word or Ava goes without a pulse again.  Because Henry is, in fact, Hades, King of the Underworld, just like we all learned in Greek Mythology class.  Or, he at least claims to be.

Despite Henry’s hotness, Kate struggles with her decision.  If she accepts, she must leave her mother, move in with Henry, and go through some crazy tests that will decide whether or not she is worthy of being Queen of the Underworld.  If she doesn’t accept, rumor has it Ava will drop dead.  Again.  But these are probably her last days with mom. How can she leave now that her mom is so sick that she has nurse care 24/7?  But if she doesn’t go, will Ava really die?

I would be spoiling some of my favorite thrills and chills of this book if I divulged Kate’s decision, Ava’s fate and the part that James plays in this story.  Suffice it to say that just as I felt I knew who was who, and what their role was in the story, the author surprised me time and time again.  Henry continues to be delish, if a little removed (but we’ll just call that brooding).

As a debut author, I think Aimee Carter has hit the nail on the head.  The Goddess Test, released on April 19, is entertaining and, satisfyingly – to a mythology dork – it offers logical explanations as to how the world of mythology, and a place like Hades, could still exist in our world, within the parameters of this fantasy.  And it does so without getting lost in its own explanation and without taking away from the main story, which is Kate’s journey to understand this world she didn’t know existed, and the journey she is on emotionally as she prepares to say goodbye to her mother.  Kate is a heroine with a good head on her shoulders, a strong voice, and a good heart.  The story has some incredible twists that you really, honest to goodness won’t see coming, and some swoon in there, for good measure.

I want to send a huge thanks to Harlequin and Net Galley, for offering us the chance to review this book.  Being a bit of a mythology geek, among my many areas of geek specialty, this was right up my alley!

A sequel to The Goddess Test is scheduled to be released in February 2012, entitled Goddess Interrupted.  I am hoping Henry will reveal more of his romantic, passionate side in this one, if he does make an appearance…  (That’s my Jedi mind trick, playing with your head.  Will he or won’t he?  What’s he doing – or not – at the end of this book…ah!?!?)  Aimee has also revealed on her website that a third edition to this series will be released in November 2012, and is yet untitled.  I am looking forward to seeing how this story develops!

Crush Level:

4.5/5 – Great story, but I am looking for a more reciprocal devotion on Henry’s part.  A big chunk of him seems still pining for Persephone, his former wife,  as Kate is falling for him and it’s hard to decide if he could possibly be genuine in his feeling for Kate with all the baggage he’s carrying. But the exciting and unexpected twists in this story, and the smartly written heroine make this story a one-sit read for me.  I already am hearing that little voice in my head saying, “I wanna read  this again!”

How I See It:

Kaya Scodelario fits the bill for me - again (See Hunger Games Casting).

Kate: Kate needs to be someone really good-looking – she’s hanging out with gods and goddesses, so “must look good in a toga” is a requirement, but still down to earth, because she has to prove herself a worthy human with a good head on her shoulders.  I think Kaya Scodelario scores high for me on both those traits.

Shiloh Fernandez. Look at him, all dark and broody.

Henry:  This was a hard one, and as close as I could get being that Henry is supposed to be in his early 20’s.  As a young yet tortured looking dude, with millenia of experience in his eyes, I do declare Mr. Shiloh Fernandez will do.

OMG, this picture is so perfectly "Ava" its not even funny!

Ava:  Has to be someone who plays the recovered mean girl role really well.  Cheerleader with a heart, if you will.  Ashley Tisdale…perfect!  Now before you go ragging on my Disney Channel choice, let me just say that if Ms. Tisdale makes some good choices (better than the cheerleader show she was on not too long ago), she’s definitely one to watch.

Time machine, time machine, wherefore art thou, time machine? Sorry Matthew Lillard...

James:  This was not as hard to cast as Henry — always hard to cast my swoony men — but it was also quite difficult.  I couldn’t get out of my head the picture of a young Matthew Lillard, who is now way too old to play this character (sorry Matthew, but you’re supposed to be in high school).  I just think he’d be the perfect dorky, yet cute looking, head phone wearing, french fries on a tray eating friend who isn’t bothered or discouraged when someone turns him down.  Oh, if only I’d finished building that time machine like I’ve been meaning to!


Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

Ignore this cover. It's a good book, I swear.

With Logan’s band playing a critical gig and Aura’s plans for an intimate after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night of her boyfriend’s life. She never thought it would be his last.

Logan’s sudden death leaves Aura devastated. He’s gone.

Well, sort of.

Like everyone born after the Shift, Aura can see and hear ghosts. This mysterious ability has always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why the Shift happened so she can undo it. But not with Logan’s violet-hued spirit still hanging around. Because dead Logan is almost as real as ever. Almost.

It doesn’t help that Aura’s new friend Zachary is so understanding—and so very alive. His support means more to Aura than she cares to admit.

As Aura’s relationships with the dead and the living grow ever complicated, so do her feelings for Logan and Zachary. Each holds a piece of Aura’s heart…and clues to the secret of the Shift.

Here’s the scoop:

Aura’s dreamy boyfriend Logan OD’s the night they’re supposed to let their hair down and …well, you know.  He leaves the room to take a shower after experiencing an embarrassing “problem” (maybe he’s never watched those lame ads I see every single time my kids and I are watching sports with the hubs.  Be ready when the time is right…) and returns as a ghost.  Obviously Aura is a little unhappy about this.  As with all who die unexpectedly, Logan remains in an afterlife that lingers somewhere between the living world and the Great Beyond and this gives him plenty of time to follow Aura around.

Aura was born after an event called The Shift.  No one really knows what caused it, but anyone born seventeen years ago (or less) has the unfortunate ability to see the ghosts of those who have not yet passed on to a peaceful existence.  In many cases these kids help ghosts testify in court cases against their own murderers or pass on important messages.  Most of the time though,  the post-Shifters just try to avoid them.

I really liked this premise because although it was yet another paranormal book, it tackled ghosts instead of vampires and wolves (and thank you, instead of fairies).  The visual that the author gives of Logan— appearing in a violet hue, wearing the same disheveled clothing he wore the night of his death,  still professing his eternal love for Aura—was vivid and painfully sweet.  Aura still loves and desires Logan and she finds herself in this strange limbo where she’s kind of dating a ghost.

Back in the world of the living and breathing,  Aura has been paired up with Zachary, a new guy in school who hails all the way from Scotland (I know! Accent Alert!).  Of course Zachary is hotness to the billionth degree (seriously, where was this abundance of  attractive transfers in my high school?  I remember not a one, but every book seems to have them) and, like Aura, he’s  interested in studying the Shift.  They take on a research project together and some teensy fireworks ensue. The research opens up a Pandora’s Box of questions and clues about Aura’s past, about the mother who died when she was young and the identity of the father she’s never met. Aura is definitely keeping some secrets from Zachary and the professor overseeing them, but she’s not the only one.

And there’s a problem.  I mean, other than the fact that Aura’s boyfriend is dead but still sleeps beside her in her bed every night.  Logan is in danger of becoming a Shade, which is a dark, dangerous version of a ghost.  If he transforms into one, the authorities (like real Ghostbusters only they ain’t no Bill Murray) will lock his spirit up forever, ruining any chances at him finding eternal peace.  Logan insists he’s fine, but he’s beginning to show signs that he made be turning.

Aura feels torn between Zachary and Logan (though it’s not a cheesy love triangle because her heart clearly only loves one of them).  She is desperate to find out more about the Shift and her family history and she’s beginning to trust Zachary (and maybe have the hots for him too.  It’s the accent, I’m telling you).  On the other hand, she wants to convince Logan to move on, as much as it pains her, because she fears he’ll turn into a Shade otherwise.

I really enjoyed this book.  I liked Aura and both of the male love interests.  What I really loved was the relationship between Logan and Aura.  There was such a genuine sweetness to them and the more I learned about their relationship, the more I related to them.  I truly felt the tragedy of Logan’s death—even though it was his own stupid fault— and my heart went out to both he and Aura.  All the emotion—including the grieving by Aura, Logan and his family— felt true, without being heavy or depressing.   In the beginning of the book, it sounds like a gift to be able to see loved ones who’ve been lost too early in life, but it becomes apparent that in seeing their ghost every day there is the constant reminder of loss and no way to truly let go.

Ok and I’ll be totally honest.  I cried a little.  It wasn’t epic levels of tears like some books of late (I’m talkin ’bout you If I Stay) but it tugged at my heart in a way I wasn’t expecting.

My only complaint is that Jeri Smith-Ready brought up a ton of interesting questions relating to the Shift and to Aura’s mother and left them all unanswered.  I assume they’ll be addressed in the next book, but I would have liked to have known a little more.  In fact, I knew so little about some of the history (especially regarding Aura’s mother and a journal she used to keep) that I’m not even sure what I’m hoping to find out.  But still, I’m intrigued and am looking forward to the sequel, Shift, which comes out in May.

Crush Intensity: 4/5




I love Nina Dobrev of The Vampire Diaries. Obviously she is why I watch that show and it has nothing to do with the Salvatores.  It’s all Nina.  I think she embodies that balance of strength and innocence of Aura.  And she’s adorable but can play tough.


Logan is supposed to be a hotty pants.  Aside from being cute, he’s in a band where he just so happens to be the lead singer (Sa-woon!). Also, he may be showing signs of shifting into a Shade (which is like the Dark Side of Shade so in essence he may be getting into his Vaderesque roots.  All things lead to Star Wars my padawan friends).  Because of this, I imagine him as Hayden Christensen.


Zachary is another cute one.  He has dark hair (and did I mention the accent?).  He’s an all-around good guy with some interesting secrets and he has some good moments with Aura that would have made me weak in the knees if it wasn’t for Aura’s pesky ghost boyfriend.  Penn Badgley would make a great crushworthy research partner who’d be willing to meet the challenge of competing with a perfectly dreamy ex.

Soundtrack: Linkin Park baby…

Memorable Quote:

“…I don’t want you to come here.” I shuddered at the sound of my words.  “I can’t see you anymore.”

Logan went very still, as if caught in a freeze-frame.  “You said you love me.”

“I do love you.”

“But you’re leaving me.”

“It’s the only way to—”

“I’ve lost you.” He stepped back and looked up and down the sidewalk.  “Because I died, I’ve lost you.”

“Logan, don’t—”

“God this isn’t happening.  It was one thing to lose my life, but this.”  He dragged his hands up his face, into his hair.  “What can I do, Aura?  Tell me what to do.”

“There’s nothing you can do.”