March 2014 Recap

Nicole Read

Ashley Read

Favorite Read

Nicole Fav

Ashley Fav

March Reviews

March Highlights

  • Nicole talks about how she converted her best friend into a reader! [link]
  • Nicole went to San Francisco and LOVED IT! She shares some of her photos in her review of Stephanie Perkins' Lola and the Boy Next Door! [link]
  • Nicole talks about how fickle ratings are, but why she still wants to seem them in reviews. [link]
  • Nicole got drowned in school work and more or less disappeared from the blogosphere for a couple weeks. Sorry guys! 
  • Ashley has been super busy, she moved again and had dental surgery :(
  • Ashley and her fiance decided on a honeymoon destination... Costa Rica!! If you have been there, I would love to hear your experiences/recommendations! 

Stacking the Shelves (65) - March 29th

Stacking the Shelves - hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews - features books that you bought, borrowed, rented from the library, received for review, etc.

Upcoming reads:

What books are stacking your shelves??


Sekret by Lindsay Smith

Title: Sekret
Series: Sekret #1
Author: Lindsay Smith
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Pages: 341
Source: ALA Midwinter

Summary from Goodreads:
An empty mind is a safe mind.

Yulia's father always taught her to hide her thoughts and control her emotions to survive the harsh realities of Soviet Russia. But when she's captured by the KGB and forced to work as a psychic spy with a mission to undermine the U.S. space program, she's thrust into a world of suspicion, deceit, and horrifying power. Yulia quickly realizes she can trust no one--not her KGB superiors or the other operatives vying for her attention--and must rely on her own wits and skills to survive in this world where no SEKRET can stay hidden for long.


*Long exacerbated sigh* I have so many problems with this book I don't even know where to begin...

Let's start with the synopsis. "Yulia's father always taught her to hide her thoughts and control her emotions to survive the harsh realities of Soviet Russia." This statement is bullshit. On many accounts. But the one glaringly obvious from the beginning is that Yulia can't hide her thoughts or control her emotions. But I wish she could because all she could think about were boys and escaping and her emotions were all over the damn place. One minute she is super angry and defiant. The next she is too tired to feel anything. Another and she's accepting and willing to try. There was no consistency, but worse yet, there was no cause and effect. Her emotions were quite random and fleeting. I guess I have to mention that she did learn to shield her thoughts from others. How you ask? Khrushchev told her to play a song in her head  (and think underneath that music) and BAM instant shield. Now let's all try to play a song in our head and think at the same time...  And at one point she even had two layers of thoughts and music - like thoughts - ballad- thoughts - another ballad. What the-?

"But when she's captured by the KGB and forced to work as a psychic spy with a mission to undermine the U.S. space program, she's thrust into a world of suspicion, deceit, and horrifying power." Horrifying power, ok, I agree with that. I guess. Although I wouldn't say I felt horrified. But regarding her mission, WHAT mission? This book was all talk and no action. I remember pausing at page 170 and asking myself what the hell I had been reading cause sure as shit nothing noteworthy had happened yet. The mission took such a back seat to Yulia's seemingly random-ass back and forth thoughts and feelings that I didn't even know what the heck the mission was or what they were doing for it for the majority of the book. At page 229 I paused again and thought again that I didn't know what the heck they were doing. The few trips they had taken didn't really connect to a bigger purpose.  There was no direction and certainly not enough focus on the actual plot until the very end (at best). 

"Yulia quickly realizes she can trust no one--not her KGB superiors or the other operatives vying for her attention--and must rely on her own wits and skills to survive in this world where no SEKRET can stay hidden for long."  What whit and skills? I mean, really. 

And I have to mention the boy situation although I'd rather think about ANYTHING but. Despite Yulia thinking about boys for like 72% of this book ( I'd say 25% was spent thinking or attempting some stupid escape plan that was destined to fail and 3% was the actual plot) I can't really say there was a romance or love triangle. It was more like Yulia would seriously consider any boy in her line of vision. Ok, I guess to be fair there was only two. But it felt like 'Oh hey, there's Segei', 'I like Sergei' or 'Oh hey, look at Valentin playing the piano.' I like Valentin'. And naturally when she liked one, she didn't like the other. Ok, so maybe she was always building towards one but really the whole boy situation was painful, overdone and in no way believable or enjoyable.

What else... Oh, if you are hoping to watch her learn about her power and master it. Don't hold your breath. And If you want to read an intriguing Historical Fiction set in Russia with a Paranormal spy twist. Look elsewhere. 

And the writing was weird and inconsistent (I am sensing a pattern of inconsistency here). At times I was reminded of Tehereh Mafi's writing  - kind of choppy, maybe a little poetic. Except it really didn't work here.

Alright, I think I will stop there. I will say that I have seen others enjoy this book, and I have seen others who share some of my sentiments. I could be extra critical because of how disappointed I was in this book that had so much potential. But it is rare for me to be so harsh. So I'd recommend that you approach this one with caution. 


Untold (The Lynburn Legacy #2) by Sarah Rees Brennan

Title: Untold
Series: The Lynburn Legacy
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 24th 2013
Pages: Hardcover, 370 pages
Source: Library

Summary from Goodreads:
It's time to choose sides....

On the surface, Sorry-in-the-Vale is a sleepy English town. But Kami Glass knows the truth. Sorry-in-the-Vale is full of magic. In the old days, the Lynburn family ruled with fear, terrifying the people into submission in order to kill for blood and power. Now the Lynburns are back, and Rob Lynburn is gathering sorcerers so that the town can return to the old ways.

But Rob and his followers aren’t the only sorcerers in town. A decision must be made: pay the blood sacrifice, or fight. For Kami, this means more than just choosing between good and evil. With her link to Jared Lynburn severed, she’s now free to love anyone she chooses. But who should that be?

A darkly humorous take on Gothic romance, Sarah Rees Brennan's Lynburn Legacy weaves together the tale of a heroine desperate to protect those she loves, two boys hoping to be saved, and the magical forces that will shape their destiny.

What I Liked

  • The main character - Kami Glass She is just fantastic.  Kami is not only witty but stubborn and great friend.  She keeps the story going and kept me laughing the whole story.  Here is an example of her awesomeness:

     "One of those mistake-identity makeouts," Kami said defensively.  "They happen." "Oh, sure," Angela replied. "In Shakespearean comedies, all the time." "You are full of cruelty and mockery," Kami said. "My heart breaks to think of the day I entrusted you with the fragile flower of my girlish friendship."
  • The secondary characters.  Every character introduced has a role and purpose in the story.  Kami's family plays a part as well as all the townspeople.  Angela and her brother her fantastic, he his so cocky but in a humorous roll your eyes kind of way. 
  • The love story. If you read Unspoken, then you will know how it ended. Untold picked up right where Unspoken left off.  The tension between Kami and Jared just radiates off the pages; without giving away too much, I will say that I was definitely cheering and grinning at certain parts :)

    "Every time you felt alone in a crowd, alone by yourself, forever and essentially alone, and don't pretend there weren't moments like that.  Every time you felt worthless, every time you thought there was no purpose to existing, no center to the world and no peace to be found. I never had a single moment like that, I was never lonely a day of my life, until now."

  • The witty and sarcastic comments.  They never stopped.  Similar to the first book, I loved how Rees Brennan could blend such an entertaining dialogue with suspense and romance flawlessly.  

What I Didn't

  • Not much!  I have a love-hate relationship with the cliffhangers... I have wait until September to read the next book and I am left just hanging!  I want more resolution but can still absolutely appreciate the storing and the ending.  Here is a foreshadow/hint at the ending without giving any context or character. " This is the worst mistake I will ever make."  

Bottom Line

GAHHH!  If you love witty, sarcastic, and funny characters mixed with sorcery then this series if for you! If you are curious about book #1 Unspoken, check out my review here. Sarah Rees Brennan is the queen of cliff-hangers; I cannot wait for the third book.  Untold tied up the cliff hanger of book one and just jumbled up all my recently recovered feelings to leave them hanging again!

Top Ten Things On Our Bookish Bucket List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten list is
"Top Ten Things On Our Bookish Bucket List"

Nicole & Ashley's Top Seven

1. Go to an author event in Philly (Nicole)
2. Attend ALA (Ashley)
3. Host a favorite author on our blog!
4. Get a favorite series signed.
5. Have a beautiful room dedicated to books.
6. Visit a famous library!
7. Meet our blogging buddies! :)

What are your top ten?


To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

Title: To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Publisher:Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 22, 2014
Pages: 352
Source: ALA Midwinter

Summary from Goodreads:
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.


Honestly, this book wasn't quite what I was expecting given the synopsis. Sure her *5* "love letters" get mailed out but I think the part about "causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters" and "she learns to deal with her past loves face to face" is an exaggeration. There wasn't a whole lot of confronting going on, or dealing with past loves. 

Truthfully this story is about two boys; one she thinks she loves, and one she pretends to love. When Josh, her long-time best friend and sister's ex-boyfriend, gets one of her letters, Lara Jean saves face by pretending to be in a relationship with Peter, her first kiss and now popular boy. Peter of course agrees to be in a pretend relationship with Lara Jean to make his ex girlfriend jealous. And in this pretend relationship, Lara Jean has all sorts of new experiences and discovers all sorts of new feelings. 

But despite feeling a little deceived and a little disappointed, I still liked this book. And here's why:
  • After I got over my initial shock that this one wasn't quite what I expected it to be, I thought I had the plot line figured out, but found myself surprised again at the direction this book took. But this time in a good way. 
  • Lara Jean's family is amazing and has a super close bond. After losing their mother Lara Jean and her two sisters, Margot and Kitty make sure to take care of their father. They all take really good care of each other and have an amazing relationship. But then Margot hops the pond to go to school in Scotland and Lara Jean has to step up and the family has to settle into a new routine. It was great to observe. 
  • The battle of the boys was fun. Peter and Lara Jean couldn't be more opposite so it was interesting to watch them try to fake a relationship. And the complicated dynamic with Josh kept  me wondering too. 
  • Although I couldn't exactly relate to Lara Jean, she is shy and a little boring, I liked watching her come into her own, and step out of her comfort zone a bit. 

Anyway, I picked this one up because I wanted to read a light contemporary and that is exactly what I got. This is a cutesy book, maybe even a little silly, but has a solid storyline. I'm not sure how well it will hold up against other contemporaries, but it's worth giving it a shot. 


Stacking the Shelves (64) - March 22nd

Stacking the Shelves - hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews features books that you bought, borrowed, rented from the library, received for review, etc.

This is what's on my shelf for upcoming reads: 

 What books are stacking your shelves??


Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer

Title: Cress
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: February 4th 2014
Pages: Hardcover, 550 pages
Source: Bought

Summary from Goodreads:
Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard.

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.


I got my copies of The Lunar Chronicles signed!  I was lucky enough to make it down to DC before a big snow storm to listen to Rebecca Soler do a reading from Cress and hear Marissa Meyer talk!  Rebecca Soler is the narrator for The Lunar Chronicles.  If you have not tried to listen to the audio books, I highly recommend them.  Even though I read all the books, it is the only series where I have listened to the audio version as well.  It was truly a treat to hear Rebecca do the voices for all the characters.

The 5 reasons you need to read Cress
1. Captain Thorne.  Everyone loved him in Scarlet; I was not sold yet, I thought he was funny but he was not my favorite.  My, Oh, my has he become one of my favorites.  There is quite of bit of unexpected circumstances that effect Thorne that had me completely shocked.  Not to mention, Throne has a new love interest which is perfect and his witty nature is in full force.  As said by his truly, " Never underestimate the stealth of a criminal mastermind."

2. Iko.  Iko is one of the best side kicks!  Some fun, great things happen to her that had me grinning.

3. No love triangles or messy romances.

4. To meet Cress!  She is an awesome, awkward, computer genius.  Cress is a marvelous addition to the crew and her unique personality complemented the story so well.

5.  Obviously you need to read Cress for the feels and the drama.  So many feels and so much happening.  While some parts of the story were easily anticipated, there were parts that I was not expecting at all.  Cress will keep you on edge the entire way through and begging for Winter.   

Bottom Line

Cress is truly a fantastic read, I devoured the book in just a couple of days. Cress does not suffer from any middle book syndrome; there was action, drama, and romance throughout the whole book.  If you have to read this one yet or even started the series, I highly recommend it :)

My Mixed Feelings About Ratings

Welcome to Thoughts for Thursday! This feature is our outlet to talk with you about whatever we currently have on our minds. It might be bookish, it might not! Now for this week's thought:

My Mixed Feelings About Ratings

Ratings are fickle things. 

The more I read, the more critical I become, the more books in my repertoire for a new book to compete with. Therefore, books I rated a certain number of stars in the past, might not hold up to that same standard today (I cringe a little when I look at some of my first ratings). And that standard is a moving target. And I sure don’t have rating down to a science. I try my best to remain consistent but I am only human (queue Christina Perri song) and I may feel a certain way one day only to change my opinion the next. I still don’t know what to do about books that bring a lot of feels but are flawed in some way, or vice versa. And I might change my mind about a book between the time I finish it and the time I write my review. Sometimes I am in between how I feel and how I want to feel. Hell, I might even flip flop. 

Not to mention, we all read differently, feel differently, and thus rate books differently. Your rating may very well not be my rating. I know some readers who rarely give out 5 stars, while others give them out all the freaking time. I fall somewhere in the middle, I think. Some of us are more critical than others. Some of us are mood readers. And then there are the black sheeps. There are so many things that affect ratings. So honestly, what do ratings really say? 

And yet, knowing how fickle ratings are, I still like having ratings as a way to compare the books I've read. And I like seeing them in the reviews I read (and that is why I include them in my own). Of course, I want to know why you liked a book, but I prefer to also know how much you liked it compared to all the others you've read. A review and rating is more influential to me than a review alone. I know I may be displacing my faith – putting too much faith in ratings and not enough in the details of the book – but I am just being honest. I find myself a lot more likely to take a book recommendation if I see that 4 or 5 stars next to it than if you list features of the book that appeal to me. 

I think this is where the stigma of 3 stars comes from. If I see 3 star reviews, I know you liked the book. But you didn’t love it. With the staggering length of my TBR, 3 stars are not all that motivating to me. If I was already planning on reading a book you give 3 stars to, that book is going to stay exactly where it is on my TBR. For the record, if it weren’t on my TBR I would add it but wouldn’t place any emphasis on it. The 4 and 5 star books are the ones that really shake things up, cause a reaction. And I think in effect, 3 stars gets diminished. 

Now, I am not saying that the rating matters more than the review. The book does have to appeal to me in some way. If I see a 5 star rating but the book is about a topic I am not particularly fond of, I am not going to just naively go out and get it. But if you read two books that sound really interesting to me, rate one 4 stars, and the other 5 stars, I’ll probably read both, but I’m going to go for that 5 star book first. Even knowing I may rate them oppositely of you. Even knowing how subjective those ratings are.  

Copyright © 2014 The Quiet Concert
Template and Design by New Chapter Designs