Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I'm off to Wordpress!

I have officially joined the 21st century and moved to wordpress!! Now you can find me at:

Head over there now and enjoy all the loveliness. I'm still working on a few image issues, and updating my review directory, but I just couldn't wait! Seriously guys, it's magic.

I won't be deleting this site any time soon, so stick around if you like. I'm going to miss the layout in many ways, but other than that I am very happy with the move.

If you follow me on feedburner: don't worry! I've switched the feeds so you won't have to do a thing.

If you follow me on GFC: Stop! That ship has unfortunately sailed off the edge of the world. All the cool kids are on Bloglovin' and Feedly nowadays.

If you have any problems, just send me an email (deadbookdarling at gmail dot com) and I will happily help!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

April TBR: New Authors (mostly!)

So, my last monthly TBR pile turned into a two-month pile. That's my life: lots of books, way too little time! Although I know I can't read all of these books, I'm glad I have monthly pile. It gives me a bit more focus, rather than just staring at my TBR Mount Doom in terror.

I've got a few newbies on this month's TBR pile: books I've received for review that I might not have found out about otherwise.

Also, I've got a few on the pile that I kinda "need" to read - namely, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (ebook). I am desperate to listen to the BBC radio version of this classic UF novel, so I need to finish off the real thing first! To be honest, I'm finding it a bit hard going at the moment - great but a bit confusing. I also really really really want to get to Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor and The Killables series by Gemma Malley.

I've also got a few newbies off of Netgalley (Ink by Amanda Sun and The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau) though the likelihood of me getting to those this month is very, very, very low. But I will! Any day now...

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter

Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter
Librarything / Goodreads

Genre: Contemporary Young Adult

Rating: 3.5 stars
Pages: 352
Publisher: Hatchette Children's Books (UK), Hyperion (US)

Summary:  Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life: Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners.

There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long — and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous, and that is . . . the emerald is cursed.

Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all, she has her best friend — the gorgeous Hale — and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses and realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.

Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules.

Thoughts: After the success of Heist Society, I really wasn't sure how Ally Carter could continue with Katarina's story. Turns out, Katarina wasn't sure either.

Unlike Heist Society, which set out to establish the verse and introduce all the fantastic characters (all while carrying out a heist, of course), Uncommon Criminals starts off with characters without a purpose. Kat and her crew have peaked as teenagers: if you've just carried out the greatest heist of your career... what do you do next?

That's not a question anyone wants to answer, but it's what Kat ends up spending the whole book working out. She also gets knocked down a few pegs: it is rather easy to develop an ego when you really are the smartest person in the room (no matter how nice you may be). And along with all this character development, there is con after con, heist after heist - all of them as clever and entertaining as I've come to expect from Carter.

I was also happy that the entire team was reunited. I knew they would be, I knew that they would become a team out of their experience in Heist Society - but it was lovely to see how it was done. I was also overjoyed to see Nick back with the team - I heart Nick the way most people love Hale. He was one of the few characters who wasn't really welcomed by the gang (other than Kat), so fitting him into the book required a rather ingenious stretch of imagination.

The only thing I wasn't quite in love with? Hale's storyline. To be perfectly frank, I've never been his biggest fan (don't shoot me people) as I never really understood why he was there in the first place. So having him sulk about in Uncommon Criminals was just rather tedious. Enough to drag down the rest of the book, to be completely honest.

Bottom line? Great follow-up to the excellent Heist Society, but it didn't blow me away the way the first book did.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

"The Month I Finally Read John Green" (February/March Wind-up)

In this month's (double) wind-up: Jackson Pearce (surprisingly) doesn't trigger my wolf!hater alarm, Ally Carter continues to be up to no good (but still in a really good way), and John Green ruins my life. Meanwhile, BEA beckons...

The Reads

Because of a super-intense exam season, my February TBR pile turned into my March TBR. Alas. Thank goodness everything I read was amazing, else I don't think I would have made it through a single book!

First off, there was Quantum Drop by Saci Lloyd (review). I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this one. It was high-tech sci-fi that seemed very "of the moment". Up next was Sweetly by Jackson Pearce, which I was stunned by. I had no desire to read her book Sisters Red because I have serious issues with negative portrayals of wolves in literature/movies/life. It's a serious issue for me - I even did my Masters dissertation on it! But Sweetly, despite having a few "wolf" mentions, didn't hit any of my triggers. As a result: I could enjoy it as the great book it was!

Then, breaking my habit of storing series I love for years upon years, I read two books in a row from Ally Carter's Heist Society series (review of first book here): Uncommon Criminals and Perfect Scoundrels. I'll be reviewing them both tomorrow, but "brilliant" will suffice for now.

Stitch finishes The Fault in Our Stars.
March will also go down in history as "The Month I Finally Read John Green". I was utterly hooked by The Fault in Our Stars, even though I knew he was manipulating the hell out of me emotionally. I felt like a total masochist while reading this book, and oh-my-GOD I would totally do it again.

On the Blog and around the blogosphere

I've had a bit of a flurry of author interviews lately: Ally Carter, Saci Lloyd and Julianna Scott all stopped by the blog. My first Shelf Analysis of the year went up last month, covering typography on this year's YA covers. Typography is kinda my new obsession and suddenly I am seeing it everywhere.

If you're a still in a rut about Google Reader's demise, check out my post about where I'll be headed next. Feedly seems to be the new "it place", though it will continue to be tied to your Google Reader until July 1st.

March also saw Amazon buying up GoodReads and I... am feeling iffy about it. I was ready to recommend Librarything as an alternative but, while putting this post together, have discovered that Amazon own 40% of them as well! I don't hate Amazon at all, but I don't like the monopoly they have on the online book business. Remember 2011 when Goodreads and BookDepository were the free peoples of the internet?! Sigh. Check out Shelf Awareness' great post for more on the subject.

BEA Beckons!

That's right folks: I'm going to Book Expo America! I've wanted to go forever, but could never justify the flight to all the way to the US. But my mother and I have wanted to go back to NYC for years (we went when I was a wee child) and when she suggested we do it this year I may have adjusted our flights to coincide with BEA. Mwaha! I know she'll have a blast as well, but I for one cannot contain my excitement!!!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Interview with Ally Carter!

I am super excited to introduce the lovely Ally Carter, author of the Heist Society and Gallagher Girls series. The third novel in the Heist Society series (Perfect Scoundrels) just came out in the UK this month. If you haven't read her books yet, what have you been waiting for?!

Ally Carter. Source: Ally's Facebook page.

Hi Ally! First off, I let me just say that I love your Heist Society series and Katarina (and not just because she shares my name!).

Yay! I dearly love writing about Kat, so it’s a joy to hear that she has fans.

Talk me through your writing a Heist novel: do you start thinking about a particular character or about the final heist?

Each book is a little different. I’m always trying to think about what I did last time and where I can go next. How do I push the characters? Where should their journeys take them? And perhaps most importantly, how can I write a very different book that gives the reader a very similar experience? That is one of the hardest things with series—making people feel like they are reading something totally fresh and new but still letting them feel like they’ve come back to a world and writing style that is familiar.

For Perfect Scoundrels, the story started with Hale. I’ve always known that Kat and her crew had it easy because of Hale and his vast resources. So I wanted to know what would happen if those resources went away. What would that do to the crew and how they operated? And, most importantly, what would it do to Hale and how would Kat cope with those changes?

I love how your novels have female characters taking on roles that are typically male. Did you set out to counteract the stereotype?

Probably not intentionally. I just don’t know any other way. I’m a woman. Most of my readers are girls and women. I certainly don’t think there is anything about my books that men and boys wouldn’t enjoy if they’d give them a chance, but I know how the world works. From this point forward in my career I will be known as a “girly” author, and so I will probably always write about girls. As to why I give the girls the fun jobs? Well…why wouldn’t I? It wasn’t a feminist statement. It was just the way I think it should be. Your main character should be the hero or heroine of his or her own journey, and that’s what I intend to write for the remainder of my career.

Will there be more books in the Heist series after Perfect Scoundrels?

I certainly didn’t set out to end the Heist series with Perfect Scoundrels, so if you see any reports of it being the third and final book in the trilogy, don’t believe them. That was never my intent. I’ve always seen the Heist series as being quite episodic. Maybe there will be three books. Maybe there will be thirty. I can say that I don’t have any more under contract at this time, but that certainly doesn’t mean the series is over. It just means I haven’t written a fourth one…yet. Will I? Only time will tell, but I’d really like to do that eventually.

I am hesitantly excited about the Heist Society movie (especially knowing that Drew Barrymore has signed on - amazing). Do you have any more news on the film front?

No. I’m afraid there’s nothing to talk about right now. Maybe there never will be anything to talk about. Or maybe a huge story will break tomorrow. That’s the way Hollywood works, I’m afraid.

You write books filled with espionage and white collar crime... you must get your inspiration somewhere! What are your favourite heist and spy books/movies/shows?

I’ve long been a fan of heist and con movies, going all the way back to watching The Sting with my father when I was a girl. I grew up on To Catch A Thief and How to Steal a Million. More recently, I’ve loved all the Ocean’s movies, The Thomas Crown Affair and The Italian Job. And what’s not to love about Leverage and White Collar? And there was a UK show called Hustle that I really enjoyed on DVD even though it never aired in the States (to my knowledge).

Thank you for answering my questions, Ally. :) 

All about the author

Ally Carter writes books about spies, thieves, and teenagers. She is the New York Times Best-selling author of Heist Society, Uncommon Criminals, and the popular Gallagher Girls series, including I'd Tell You I Love You but Then I'd Have to Kill You, Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy, Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover, and Only the Good Spy Young. She lives in the Midwest where her life is either very ordinary or the best deep-cover legend ever. She'd tell you more, know...

WebsiteTwitterAlly's Blog


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