Tag Archives: ya fiction

Finished Copy Review — Duplicity by N.K. Traver

IMG_0859

Title: Duplicity

Author: N.K. Traver

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: In private, seventeen-year-old Brandon hacks bank accounts just for the thrill of it. In public, he looks like any other tattooed bad boy with a fast car and devil-may-care attitude. He should know: he’s worked hard to maintain that façade. With inattentive parents who move constantly from city to city, he’s learned not to get tangled up in things like friends and relationships. So he’ll just keep living like a machine, all gears and wires.

Then two things shatter his carefully-built image: Emma, the kind, stubborn girl who insists on looking beneath the surface – and the small matter of a mirror reflection that starts moving by itself. Not only does Brandon’s reflection have a mind of its own, but it seems to be grooming him for something—washing the dye from his hair, yanking out his piercings, swapping his black shirts for … pastels. Then it tells him: it thinks it can live his life better, and it’s preparing to trade places.

And when it pulls Brandon through the looking-glass, not only will he need all his ill-gotten hacking skills to escape, but he’s going to have to face some hard truths about who he’s become. Otherwise he’ll be stuck in a digital hell until he’s old and gray, and no one will even know he’s gone.

River’s review:

Huge thank you to Thomas Dunne Books for letting me review a finished copy of this book!

I had a love-hate relationship with this book. I HATED the first half and LOVED the middle and was okay with the end. Brandon is NOT a likable character an I’m fine with that. But he falls too neatly into the stereotypical pierced, tattooed, black-wearing “bad boy” role for me. I wanted more depth. More than just ‘my parents are always busy boo hoo I’m going to be an ass for basically no reason’. Because yes his parents ignored him, but they were also too stereotypical for me as well. So the first half of the book where we meet Brandon and his family I was just wanted more.

I was so intrigued with the hacker aspect of this book (the whole reason I requested it) and I would have liked to have seen where Brandon had learned some of his skills. A little more history. Because not just everybody can pick that up. I also would have liked to have seen MORE hacking in the beginning. The story jumps right into things and I wish there would have been more build. I also would have liked to have seen more time with Jax and his shady business.

I also really had a problem with the way Brandon treated women in this book. The only girls I really remember were Ginger (portrayed as kinda a trashy goth slut), Beretta (who actually was pretty cool), Alice (? The girl who kept trying to get his attention after he drove the BMW to school. She was portrayed as a trashy preppy slut) and Emma (a pure, delicate snowflake with a perfect body and perfect everything). Hell I didn’t like the way the girls in this book were portrayed period. And I don’t buy that it’s because it’s from a male POV. If that’s how we’re going to write males… well then. I wont get into it. But yeah.

So what I DID like was after Brandon and his duplicate “Obran” (worst. name. ever.) were traded and Brandon was taken into a super computer. That part was SO COOL. I loved the world inside the computer, how Brandon reacted to it, and his new friend Seb. I did roll my eyes a little at how obviously similar it was to Resident Evil (holographic glowing child? Zombie dogs?) but those were good additions (and would have been better if slightly more original). I liked the explanations behind the tech (even if some of it really probably wouldn’t work in real life, or now at least) and the situations that Brandon was facing. The middle portion was gripping and I flew through it.

Brandon’s “solution” to saving himself and Emma was a little confusing, but I liked that his heart was in the right place. I felt so bad for Seb and kept hoping that it was all a joke or a trick. And then the very end… left me hanging. Is there going to be another book? Should there? I’m not sure. Will I read it? Maybe!

So overall this could have been better if it had been fleshed out and a bit more genuine. If all of it had been as gripping as the middle that would have upped it a star and made for an excellent book. If you do like books with hacking and computers then this will be the right book for you!

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Physical review copies

Some of you might remember that one of the things about being in the USA that I was most looking forward to was being able to contact publishers for physical review copies of books. I sent out a few requests last summer and got no replies. So I sat on it for a little and then did some research, asked around on twitter, and composed my ‘Dear Publisher’ letter. I think I sent out about 5-6 requests and got one reply. So I tried again and got a few more. Sadly most of them were saying that they didn’t have anymore copies of the book/ I was requesting too early/ to try NetGalley. I DID get put on a blogger list for one publisher and got a response from another. I sent in a few more requests to those two publishers and… nothing. So I was ready to give up, to stick with my eARCs, and to just remain jealous of people who were getting unsolicited copies of books that I’d requested. (I know, I know, I’m not that well known, I don’t have over a thousand followers, I did have a few periods of time where I wasn’t able to review, I KNOW that some of my jealousy is unfounded. But still sometimes it really stings.)

IMG_0859Last week I received this!!!!! I was so shocked and excited! I had requested this from the publisher that has me on their blogger list and I couldn’t believe that they sent me a finished copy! I’m almost done with the book and I can’t wait to review it.

So after that happened I was like ‘yes! I finally made some progress!’ and was feeling pretty good about myself (and hoping that the other book I’d requested from them would show up soon :fingers crossed:) when this happened:

IMG_0892 IMG_0896I almost cried when I opened these two packages. Out of the eight I had requested four and was so happy that Harper sent me all the extras. A lot o them were already on my schedule and I am BEYOND excited that I have ‘A Good Girl’ because I downloaded the eARC last year and never read it and now I have a VERY good reason to!

IMG_0893Receiving Emmy & Oliver though… that made my day, week, month!!!! Robin Benway is one of my favorite authors and I have been so excited for this book. I love having it on my shelf and it’s going to be my next read once I’ve finished the two books I’m currently in the middle of.

I’m just so happy that I was able to connect with the publishers and finally receive some physical ARCs. I was really, really ready to give up. But now I have confidence and hope that I’ll be able to build a good reviewer relationship with them! Ahhhhhhh, I can’t wait to read these!!!!

In other news… I STARTED MY NEW JOB! And so far it’s been amazing. This whole week has been amazing. And it’s only Tuesday!

River’s 2015 Bookish resolutons

GUYS IT IS ALMOST 2015 WHAT THE WHAT.

No for real. I was like writing the wrong date at work all week and I just can’t believe that 2014 is almost OVER. 2014 was a HUGE CRAZY year for me. It was a very difficult, trying year, and not always the best, but damn. A lot happened. As y’all know I moved back to the USA and that was HUGE. My husband started his PhD at MIT and I got a job at a bookstore (dream job!). We’ve adjusted to the move and our new lives and settled quite a bit. There are still some bumps here and there, but aren’t there always? 2014 was also the year of my First Book Event.

So what do I want to accomplish in 2015?

1) Read 100 books or more (or less). So at the beginning of 2014 I set my goodreads goal to 200 books. I AM SO HAPPY THAT I MOVED IT TO 150. And even that was too much. Yes I did accomplish it, but man, there were times when I was like ‘wtf self’. I’m the type of person that I has to see things through (as much as I can) and that goal was SUPER important to me. I knew that if I didn’t finish it I’d be really upset. But that meant that I was just FLYING through books and while I WAS enjoying them (most of them!) I always felt like I had to hurry up and get on with it to get onto the next one and then I wouldn’t even PAUSE between books. If they were ARCs I gave them short reviews. So I want to read less (that sounds so awful!) and take more time and not feel rushed (by myself, hahaha). So this year I’m going to set my goal to 100 and if I go over, yay. But I know that 100 is manageable.

2) Review better. I read a lot of ARCs. I love them! But I have too many. I’m the one who downloads ALLLLL the Harper titles when they’re up on EW. I request anything with a shiny cover. This needs to stop (and it’s slowly stopping). So I’ve told myself that I don’t HAVE to read them all. And that I need to be okay with it. I need to stop requesting ARCs that are popular that I have no interest in. I need to stop worrying about ARCs by authors that I’m not even that into. So I cut a lot of them off my schedule and I’m just not going to worry if I miss a few. I’ll read the ones that I’m DYING for (and of course my paper ARCs will take the utmost priority to everything else) and then write proper reviews for them. As I said, I was reading so fast that I wasn’t pausing between books and I even skipped a few reviews. I hate looking back and seeing such a half-heart-ed attempt at a review. I used to write long reviews that actually talked about what I loved/hated and I really need to get back to doing that. The books, authors and publishers deserve that.

3) Read my own books. Again, too many reviews, too many books sitting on my shelves. Especially now that i have space/ access to English books (and a kickin employee discount!) I can buy books! Which I’ve been doing. And while I love my Kindle and eBooks, I really want to read my physical TBR books. So I need to balance out the ARCs and ME books.

4) Get a library card. I said I was going to do this, I went to the library (for an event) and I didn’t get a card. So I need to do this. AGAIN, I have access to a library finally and I need to take advantage of this (probably in the spring tho, it’s way too cold to bike there right now).

5) Buy less. Okay buying a lot of books actually hasn’t been that big of a problem for me in the past (not like Sammy! Oh her shelf of shame…) but now that I have access to them (on a daily basis! Working at a bookstore is dangerous!) I’ve bought A TON. Yes I get a discount, yes I buy them on sale… but yeah. You should see me ‘re-arranging’ my books while I’m trying to sneak them into the existing bunch so my husband doesn’t notice (he does, oh he does). I just bought a bunch of books from Book Outlet (OH THE SAVINGS!) and now I need to go on a bookban… I’ll be updating about that after I buy my paperback of The Dream Thieves…

6) Blog more! A given. I have been so absent from this pace (and I hug and cry and thank Sammy for all her hard work and being the best coblogger EVER) and now that I again, have more time, I really want to participate more. I’d like to grow this blog and make connections with publishers and all that.

7) Book events! There are a lot of awesome book events here in Boston and I really want to go to the more! Part of my problem is that the buses scare me (I haaaaate the bus) and I don’t know my way around that well (yeah, lived in Tokyo no prob, move to a smaller big city and get lost what) but I really need to get over that and just brave the system and go! I’ve already missed out on so many events! I also want to go to BEA (if even for just a day!).

8) Purge the shelves. I love collecting books. I cannot say no to a good deal on books. I bought 4 books at a used booksale because they were YA and they were $1 a piece. I am now donating them because wtf self you are NOT going to read them. I do this a lot. I see a book I MIGHT read and see it on sale and buy it. And then I look at my books and THEY ARE MY BOOKS. I cannot part with them! But I must Thankfully my friends like to take some off my hands and the rest I can donate to my apartment’s library. It’s hard, but a must.

9) Less eBooks. Now if you know me you know that I was once against eReaders and then I got one and my life changed. I used to not be able to afford/access physical English titles when I lived in Japan, so eBooks and my Kindle were the most important things to me. But let’s be read, $9.99 for an eBook is a bit much. I know that you can use Oyster to borrow from the library and blah blah blah… but after awhile I became addicted to eBook deals. Anything less than 2.99 and I was all over it! I now have SO MANY EBOOKS. And a lot of them I, again, bought only because they were on sale and I MIGHT read them. I wont. I know I wont. I wish I could donate them or something. I can’t. Plus I have so many eARCs it’s just… yeah. So I’m trying not to buy eBooks anymore. I just have too many. And now that I can get physical books again… not to say I’m going to give up on my kindle, no way. Like I said, I have A LOT to read on there.

10) Be less OCD and anal about everything book related. For example, I like to update my goodreads with even page numbers. Wtf is this. I like to finish all books that I start in a month before the end of the month. I actually am in the middle of two books and I know that I’m not going to finish them before tomorrow and this is driving me NUTS that I’m going to be finishing a 2014 started book in 2015. WHAT AM I WHAT IS THIS. idek. I’m just weird and OCD about books and I need to just chill. Who cares if I start a book at the end of May and finish it a few days into June. I can stop reading a book on page 157. I can mix hardcovers with paperbacks on my shelves (if they’re in a series). Ahhhh just chill self.

So those are my bookish resolutions! What are some of yours?

HAPPY NEW YEARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

River’s #Holidayreadingmadness

Hey guys! Sammy Mc Sam Sam and I are hosting #holidayreadingmadness with our friend Katharine over at Ventureadlaxre and I’m here checking in with what I’ve managed to read so far! Sadly I haven’t read as much as planned due to husband being done with his first semester (!!!!!!!!!!!!! can you believe it!?!?!? Last year we were JUST finding out that he’d even gotten IN to MIT) so we’ve been watching a TON of movies (X-Men: Days of Future Past,The Giver, The Maze Runner, Mud, & Horrible Bosses to name a few) and TV (True Detective & Attack on Titan). But I AM on track for my goodreads goal of 150 books and I HAVE knocked out quite a few #holidayreadingmadness challenges!

So here are the books and challenges that I’ve done so far!

coeChallenges: 11) Read a book featuring cultural diversity
12)  Read a graphic novel or a book with pictures
14) Read an award winner (okay, this isn’t really an award winner, but it WAS banned, so I’m going to fudge it a little)

heroChallenges: 7) Read a book that has animals in it, either as a protagonist, side kick, or as a huge focal point
8) Read a middle grade novel.

vaultChallenge: 3) Read a book that has been signed by an author.

hereChallenge: 9) Read a book that has travelling.
10) Read a novel with a green cover or has green in the cover.

coldChallenge: 2) Read a book with winter in the title, as a theme, or as a main setting.
17) Read a retelling of some kind

lamentChallenge: 4) Read a book that has been gifted to you.
15) Read a self-published book or a book from an independent publisher.
18) Start a new series!

polarisChallenge: 19) Read a middle book in a trilogy.

So that’s what I’ve read so far! I’m planning on reading DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS to knock out challenges number one (Read a book that exceeds 450-500 pages), thirteen (Read a book a friend has always nagged you to read.) and twenty (Read the ending of a series/latest installment of a series).

And that leaves me with challenges five, six, and sixteen! Which is not bad at all!

River’s Reading Habits

I feel like I used to read A LOT more when I was in Japan. Now that I have some free time I’m reading about the same amount, but I think that my reading habits have changed a lot and this is leading to the feeling of ‘omggggggggggg I never get to read anymore!’

So I thought it would be fun to share my reading habits! in Japan I used to work 2pm-9:30pm. I had a 15 minute train ride, and a half hour wait FOR the train after work. So I used to read in the morning (usually from 8:30am – noon while doing housework and eating lunch) and then I’d read on the train, on my hour lunch break at work, and then while waiting for the train. I 100% read on my kindle on my commute and at work. At home I would sometimes read physical books, but it wasn’t very common since I didn’t have a lot with me (due to space and access to a bookstore with a decent English section). I also read a lot when I got home because my husband was either not home or busy doing stuff for work/ prepping for grad school. I also had zero friends during the last two years of Japan (where I lived, all of my friends were in Tokyo, which was two hours away from where were living).

NOW… I work from either 9-5 or 11-7. I don’t have time to read in the morning. I ride my bike to work so I don’t get to read during my commute. At work I have two 15 minutes breaks and a 30 minute lunch, which I do use to read, but it’s not like I can really get into anything. When I get home I cook dinner (husband and I used to eat separate due to our schedules), make our lunches for the next day, do the dishes (I feel like I do this 90% more than I did in Japan), take a shower and get ready for bed. This usually leaves me with 1-2 hours of reading time depending on if husband wants to hang out or play pool/ ping pong. He’s also home A LOT more which leads to us talking and generally hanging out more than we used to at home.  On weekends I’m usually at home but I have to do things like laundry and shopping (in Japan I would do that on my days off and spread it out over two days, now I do it all in one day), and husband and I try to get out and do stuff sometimes. I still have zero friends buuuuut I just moved here, so I’m giving myself a break.

So mainly my daily schedules and routines have changed A LOT which means that my old ‘reading time’ has shifted and become super broken up. The only time I can really get into a book and read for hours now is if husband is super into his work at night and stays up really late (I stay up with him) or on the weekend.

Also I’ve noticed HOW I read has changed a lot too. As I said, in Japan I read on my kindle almost exclusively. The only time I ever had physical books was when I either: won something and had my mom send it to me, made a trip to Tokyo and picked up a couple of things at Kinokuniya, or a friend sent me something. I LOVE my kindle and I’m pretty addicted to eARCs and kindle edeals, so there’s a lot of selection on my kindle. But now that I’m in the states, WORK AT A FREAKING BOOKSTORE (hellooooo discount!), and have space for books I’m reading A LOT more physical books.

Physical books:

photo 1I am giddy beyond belief that I can do this. I am not a book snob and I am not going to disown you for having an ereader. I’m not going to preach about the feel/smell/texture/whathaveyou merits about physical books. But I do love books, I love to collect my favorites, and it makes me so happy that I can basically get whatever I want now (and not break my wallet).

So far I’ve been reading physical books at home. I don’t really want to haul them around with me because I have limited space in my bag (which is a small backpack now because it’s too much hassle to deal with a purse in a bike basket). I usually rotate between reading a physical book and then something on my kindle.

Kindle
photo 2Oh my old keyboard kindle. You have served me well. I love this thing and will cry when it finally dies on me and I have to switch to a touch screen. I love the side buttons! I used to read both ARCS and finished books on here, but now I mainly read eARCs. I do have a pile of finished books that I got through amazon eDeals on here, so I really should work on those someday too… hahaha. I used to keep this in my purse, but there’s no good way to keep this in my current bag without putting the screen in danger, so I’ve stopped carrying it around with me. I tried to read it at work, but it was too much hassle to go down to my locker, get it out, take it to the break room, read, and then return it all in my 15 minute break. So I leave it at home and read on it when I’m not reading a physical copy.

iPhone
photo (2)This is the biggest change to the way I read. Yes, I read on my iPhone. I didn’t want to, but as I said, getting my kindle out at work was just too much trouble and wasted my break (and lead to no reading time) so I decided to start reading on this (I keep it with me while I’m working, so I don’t have to waste time going and getting it/ putting it away). I 99% read eARCs on this (and 1% novellas). I generally try to read short things on here because I hate how it feels like it takes me FOREVER to get through something. I also read on it in short doses, so it doesn’t bother my eyes too much. (It’s also nice to grab and read on for a bit when I’m laying in bed waiting for husband and don’t want to get up and get my kindle). I know a lot of people could never imagine reading on their phone (and I’ve had a few coworkers ask me about it) but for me I’d rather READ than anything, and using this allows me to do just that.

So what do you think? Are my reading habits super weird? Are yours similar? I’d love to hear how YOU read (and I hope that Sam will post her own reading habits on here soon!)

 

General Status Update

I feel like I should post something! Ugh, Sammy, you are the best for keeping this blog going. But maybe I am finally starting to get some free time. So here are 10 random things that have been going on lately.

1. I am ALMOST caught up with my goodreads challenge! I keep getting ‘on track’ only to fall 1-2 books behind. But that’s better than the 4-5 behind I was after moving. Remember when I was EIGHT books ahead??? (yeah probably not)

2. This: cambridge

3. I love my job! Like I really honestly truly ENJOY my job. I don’t dread waking up in the morning. I don’t spend the entire day wishing it was time to go home. I don’t feel my soul dying.

4. I’m trying to contact publishers about receiving physical ARCS! A few book bloggers on twitter have been helping me out and hopefully soon-ish I’ll be posting reviews for books that publishers have so kindly granted me permission to review (aside from my eARCS, I mean I love those, but I’d love some physical ARCs oh man would I love them). Wish me luck.

5. I might do NaNoWriMo next month. Might. I uh, have characters, and an idea. So that’s a thing.

6. This: halloween

7. Came up with a new life goal: swear like Ronan Lynch. (Jesus. beep. Mary. beep.)

8. I saw robots tonight. Legit robots. Like, robots that are probably some of the first robots that will even be close to achieving consciousness. Jesus. There was a red one and it’s face was like, an iPad or something and it was freaky.

9. I’ve been learning to cook all the Mexican food because for some reason that’s the food that my husband loves the most in the USA.

10. I READ BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE AND MY LIFE WHAT IS LIFE WHAT IS THIS BOOK WHAT IS MAGGIE. Oh Jesus. That book. I ordered a copy at work and had to short list it because we didn’t get any on pub day and then when it came on Wednesday my co-worker handed it to me AND I HUGGED IT. It’s a physical struggle to keep my hands from reaching for it because I want to re-read it so badly. GANSEY HAS A FANCY FACE AND I LOVE IT OKAY.

I AM ALIVE

rrselfie

 

I met Rainbow Rowell. Just it almost killed me. AHHHHHHHH

First I must thank Sammy oh Sammy Sammy McSammy, my lovely coblogger, for keeping this place running while I’ve been MOVING ACROSS THE FREAKING WORLD. Last time I posted I was driving a huge truck around Michigan and playing with my niece all day everyday. Wellllll since then I’ve moved to Boston, bought a bike, had a bike accident, gotten a job, gotten a bed, furniture, and my shipment from Japan arrived! Woohoo.

Things have just been moving SO FAST and I need a moment to catch my breath. I started working way sooner than I thought (which is fine, because I REALLY wanted the job) but that meant I was working while trying to set up my house (so far we have bookshelves! Oh I can post a photo of those…)

bookshelfThough it looks different now that I have even MORE books on it but yes. There are two of these bookshelves (one is my husbands and it’s covered with all his text books and whatever), husband has a super fancy desk (it’s a glass top! And I assembled it!), roller chair, and then we have a dining table (hmmm, can’t find a photo on facebook so just imagine a cute table the color of ~cappuccino~ yeah idek either), a fancy lamp

lamp

annnnnd I think that’s it. I’m going to get a reading chair eventually (since it doesn’t look like a sofa will sit too well in our studio apartment)

Oh and here’s the view.

view

Sadly I cannot save all my photos from twitter on my computer so we’re just dealing with the ones that were also posted on facebook. ENJOY!

Anyway, so yes. I met Rainbow Rowell last night! One of the things that I was looking forward to THE MOST about coming back to the USA was BOOK EVENTS. I actually went to Fierce Reads on Thursday and met Ann Aguire, Caragh M. O’Brien, Marie Rutkoski and got copies of all their books and had them signed! It was my first book even (I don’t know if I should count the one time I met an author back in college or not) and I babbled like an idiot. I think I was MUCH smoother when talking to Rainbow (I told her about how Landline paralleled my life at the end of July –separated for husband for the longest time in our relationship, only way to communicate was through my parent’s landline and his ~magic~ skype connection, etc)– and she signed all of my books (and a copy of Fangirl for my sister) and we even took a photo (her idea! posted above).

Next weekend is the Boston Teen Author Festival and I managed to get half the day off from work so I’m going to go from the morning (9:00am!) and attend a writing workshop and the two morning events and then at lunch break I have to go to work. SADFACE. But I’m glad that I can go at all. And then after that I don’t think anything is happening until the Boston Book Festival, which I’m going to try to get the day off to go to the Teen day at least.

Now with all of this moving and settling and assembling furniture (I should have an honorary degree in engineering from MIT for all of this furniture that I’ve built!) and working full time my reading has SUFFERED. Also husband challenged me to read THREE non-YA books (I’m half way thru my last one!) so my TBR list and ARC list are crying and I am crying and I just can’t wait until like… it snows so that I can curl up inside and just read all the books or something (idk why I have to wait until it snows, I just feel like snow = curling up and reading).

Also for those of you who are curious, husband is LOVING MIT. He’s taking a class (grad students only have to take 4 classes in two years), working in his lab, and just spending all of his time researching and studying and he’s super happy about it.

And our new favorite thing is to order chinese delivery. HA.