Arclight is the story of Marina, a girl who is rescued from The Dark. Yes, with the capital D. The Dark is the post-apocalyptic danger-land outside of the Arc, which is a haven perpetually lit by the brightest lights known to man. The lights are needed to protect the settlement from the Fade: creepy-scary-shape-changing monsters that break in and steal the Arclight’s people, then turn them into more Fade’s. There’s nothing worse than your people being turned into the very monsters you might one day kill – or be killed by.

Marina is treated as an outcast, and she feels like one-she has no memory of who she was before she was rescued, if her family is alive or dead, if they even loved her, and no one is revealing any secrets to her. When she helps to capture a rogue Fade Marina inadvertently starts a chain of events that will lead to her following that Fade into the Dark to discover secrets about her life, her friends, and the Arclight that she never thought possible.

Arclight is an exciting story, with twists and turns through the Dark and the Arc, leading you to surprises about the dystopian world, its characters, and its future that. . .you really might figure out before the end. Okay, it is a little predictable, but in a way it is really reassuring, because if I know who the girl is going to end up with and that she’s going to want to save the world I won’t be disappointed at the end, and I know there will be a sequel. Marina comes off as a bit whiny, but I suspect teens won’t notice because she might sound like them – doubtful, worried, anxious. Overall it was a great book and I’m looking forward to the sequel!


Fans of dystopian and science fiction series will love Arclight and its sequel, Meridian. With a unique premise, lots of plot twists, and unpredictable characters, the Arclight series is a strange new world that readers will love to discover.

Marina and the rest of the Arclight settlement are struggling to cope with the aftermath of not just a physical attack on their home, but a psychological blow as well. Everything they thought they knew about the Fade has changed, and the secrets and lies never stop coming. Marina and her friends learn shocking things about their respective family’s past and the history of the Arclight. On top of that, Rue and the other Fade reveal a new and dangerous threat from the Dark, one that the Arclight has seen hints of only in their nightmares. The secret of this new threat, and the intensity of the danger, will surprise readers up until the very end.

I loved getting to see more interaction between Marina, Tobin, Annie and the Fade. New Fade are introduced, developed, and become an integral part of the story. We also get to see half of the story from Tobin’s point of view, which provides a different perspective on the entire history of the Arclight, as well as the Fade, and the action that takes place throughout the book. Flipping the world on its head and taking the reader from one unique perspective to another is definitely one of McQuein’s strongest writing skills.

Overall Meridian was a strong follow-up to Arclight, continuing the unique sci-fi story and adding many interesting new elements that readers will enjoy.


Mailbox Monday Giveaway Time! 

I ended up with 2 review copies of the hardcover of Meridian, so I’m giving them away! Head over to Twitter to enter to win a copy of MeridianIt’s super easy to enter, and I’ll be choosing winners in precisely one week. Good luck!


The Year in Review

In which I list all the books I reviewed in 2014. With links to the reviews. For most of them, anyway. Let’s hope the links work. Here we go.

There are 85 books total. (I’m sure I missed a couple, but I’ll just let them go). Most are YA Fiction, and most of those were published this year or have yet to be published this year.

Several of the books I reviewed for School Library Journal, and so the reviews are not available online yet.

I also reviewed some picture books and juvenile non-fiction! Picture books are challenging but fun to read for reviewing – there is so much less to talk about, but you really have to focus on different things in order to assess the book.

Could I pick favorites from this list? No way. Wait until next week, and I’ll roll out a Top Ten Reviewed Books of 2014. That is, if I can keep the list down to just 10!

Wither (The Chemical Garden, #1)  Loud Awake and Lost  The Silver Dream (Interworld, #2)  Are You Alice?, Vol. 2  Crimson Empire Vol 1: Circumstances to Serve a Noble  Skin and Bones  This Song Will Save Your Life  Enders (Starters, #2)   Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman's Daughter, #2)  Stormbringer (Weather Witch, #2)  Mr. Tiger Goes Wild Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)  Ignite Me (Shatter Me, #3) Jane, the Fox and Me  Grasshopper Jungle  Lost Covenant (Widdershins Adventures, #3)  Bi-Normal  Dead City  Entangled (Entangled, #1)  Some Quiet Place (Some Quiet Place, #1)  The Sowing (The Torch Keeper, #2)  Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out  Venus Versus Virus Omnibus Vol 1  Where Silence Gathers (Some Quiet Place, #2)  Deep Betrayal (Lies Beneath, #2)  Indigo  ACID  Invisibility   Lost Cat  Promise Bound (Lies Beneath, #3)  Salvage   Windblown  Sparky!  The Demon's Surrender (The ...  A Radiant Sky (A Beautiful ...  Avalon (Avalon, #1)  Fugitive X (Revolution 19, #2)  The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender  The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee: The Ultimate Guide to All Things Kitten  Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #3)  Mindwar (Mindwar, #1)  The Sowing (The Torch Keepe...  Alliance (The Paladin Proph...  Evertrue (Everneath, #3)  100 Sideways Miles  Sketchy (Bea Catcher Chronicles, #1)  Nearly Gone  Faking Normal  Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual  Crash into You (Pushing the Limits, #3)  Dare You To (Pushing the Limits, #2)  The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy  Unremembered (Unremembered, #1)  Infinite Sky (Infinite Sky, #1)  Trial by Fire (The Worldwalker Trilogy, #1)  The Door  Dream Dog  Information Graphics: Anima...  Unforgotten (Unremembered, #2)  Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, #1)  Living with Anxiety Disorders  The Undertaking of Lily Chen  The Crossover  ニセコイ 1 (Nisekoi #1)    Take Me On (Pushing the Limits, #4)  I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban  The Summer I Wasn't Me  The Rule of Thirds  Depth of Field   Mister Bud Wears the Cone  The Islands of Chaldea  Meeting Cezanne  Whispered Words, Volume 1  Artemis Dreamt  War in Ernest Hemingway's a Farewell to Arms  Violence in the Media  Medical Marijuana   The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co., #1)  Tandem (Many-Worlds, #1)  Neptune's Tears Cold Spell (Fairytale Retellings, #4)  Afterglow (Wildefire, #3)  One Crow Alone (After the Snow, #0)  The Paradox of Vertical Flight  The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant (V, #1)


Mailbox Monday

Disclaimer: I initially attempted to post this from my phone. Shenanigans ensued.

This, my first ever Mailbox Monday, was brought to you by the lovely head ninja over at YABooksCentral, who send me a package of books to review that included the darlings you see below.

I am particularly excited to read Positive, because I don’t usually enjoy memoirs, but this one just seems…right. Somehow.

Also. Deliverance. Seriously. Fangirling.

I also got Subway Love, some cute picture books, and Meridian, the sequel to Arclight





Romance Manga

Sadly, I haven’t been reading a lot of manga lately. What I have been dedicating my graphic novel-reading time to has been quality stuff, though.

Nisekoi is a popular anime series, with laugh-out-loud hijinks and a palpable angsty romance. The manga is refreshing in that it isn’t outrageously ridiculous on every page (the anime is a little over the top), and we get inside the protagonist’s head a little more. He’s a sweet, quirky guy with a childhood romance that he just..can’t…quite remember. Of course. The plot is cliche, but the weird characters make it worth reading. The love interests (the forced love, and the girl next door) are strange in their own ways, which are super endearing. They’re very different girls, and they’re also friends, which makes for an interesting dynamic between the trio. I think a couple more girls show up after volume 2, which means Nisekoi starts to go a little harem anime on us, but again, the quirky characters keep it interesting. A definite to-read if you’re into romantic comedy manga.

Whispered Words is something totally different. You know how we all want to see more diversity in the world of YA Literature? Well. Whispered Words fits the bill. I have been wanting more contemporary LGBT romance in my YA Lit, and here it is. The protagonists, Sumika and Ushio, are gay. They only like girls. Ushio has a thing for cute girly-girls, while Sumika is straight up in love with her bff Ushio. Meanwhile, a couple of classmates develop crushes on tall, dark, and athletic Sumika. Ushio harbors multiple crushes for cute girls in her class and that she sees around town. Watching Sumika deal with this is a little heartbreaking, but it is so..just..empowering that their friendship remains strong throughout fights and misunderstandings and unrequited love from all sides. The only thing I wanted more of from volume 1 was emotional intensity. Sometimes the girls seems a little bland, like they weren’t really feeling anything strongly. That could have been the original writing, or it could have sometime to do with the translation. Regardless, I am really looking forward to seeing how the girls’ relationship develops in volume 2. You might like Whispered Words if you enjoy LGBT contemporary romances or original slice-of-life manga.

Blog Tour ~ DREAM BOY

Displaying DB-Banner.png

 I’ve always been a dreamer. Daydreams. Night dreams. Dreams of grandeur and dreams of escape. If I were an onion and you peeled back the papery outside, you’d find layer after layer of eye-watering dreams. And in the center, where there’s that little curlicue of onion heart? There’d be a puff of smoke from the dreams that burned away.

Displaying DREAM BOY COVER 300.jpg

It was all just brain waves, I thought—disconnected, like the notebook that my friend Talon keeps. She draws a line down the middle of the page; on the right she writes everything she remembers about a dream, and on the left she puts notes about the stuff that’s happening in real life, things that might trigger her subconscious. Reality on one side, dreams on the other—a clear line between the two.
But it turns out there are no clear lines, just a jumble of what is and what might be. And all of it is real.

Are you excited to read DREAM BOY yet? This book seriously sounds like every teenage girl’s dream-come-true. I know I fantasized about this kind of situation when I was a teen…yep, I just admitted that!
Anyway, on to the author interview! Mary Crockett was lovely enough to answer some of my questions. Here we go!


Can we talk about the lovely cover design?! Did you both have input in the cover design? How does the imagery represent the story?

I had been told that we probably wouldn’t have any say on our cover design, but one of the first things the marketing team at Sourcebooks asked us was what we envisioned for the cover. Both Madelyn and I proposed some things and –amazingly!– Sourcebooks actually ran with one of our ideas. It turned out even more beautiful than I’d imagined it (thanks to photo-illustrator Shane Rebenschied, Art Director Adrienne Krogh, and designer Eileen Carey). 

The cover shows a bottle tree, which is popular in southern folk-magic. People would outfit a tree with colored bottles as a way of warding off evil spirits. Suffice to say, the tree does indeed play a crucial role in the story. I don’t want to give away too much by telling you how. 

What is the best part about co-writing a book? What about the worst part?

The best part is definitely that you share the workload. Sometimes writing seems so lonely and so fruitless. It’s a great thing to know that the story can carrying on without you for a bit when you hit a road block. The worst part? Editing together is hard. Every change–no matter how minor–has to be agreed upon. That’s time consuming. Madelyn and I would have marathon telephone calls during that process–which was fun, but also exhausting. Here’s a video Madelyn put together about the process:

Can you tell us where the idea for the book came from? 

I’ve always been obsessed with dreams, but the idea for Dream Boy as a book was inspired in some ways by an old Ginger Rogers movie. It’s a sort of “runaway bride” story about a woman who can’t seem to find a guy who lives up to the man of her dreams–literally, the man of her dreams. 

Do you have a favorite character? Which one was the most fun to write? 


I find Annabelle interesting because she’s kind of inarticulate when it comes to actual dialog, but we get to see her interior thought through her narration of the book–and that of course is much more eloquent. I really enjoyed the tension between what she says out loud and what she thinks. For me, that was one of the most fun parts to write. 


Will there be a second book?


Dream Boy is a stand-alone novel, but there’s a lot of potential for continuing the story and exploring other aspects of the characters. We wouldn’t rule another book out, but there currently isn’t anything in the works.

About Mary & Madelyn:
Mary Crockett likes turtles, licorice, and the Yankees. Madelyn Rosenberg likes cats, avocados, and the Red Sox. Luckily they both like the weirdness of dreams (and each other) enough to write novels together. The friendship has survived three moves, six kids and countless manuscript revisions. Madelyn lives just outside of Washington, D.C. Mary remains in the mountains near their hometowns in southwestern Virginia. You can find them on Twitter @marylovesbooks and @madrosenberg or their blogs at www.marycrockett.comand

DREAM BOY – by Mary Crockett & Madelyn Rosenberg – available July 1
Watch the BOOK TRAILER here:







Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Portrait-Style Book Covers

Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke & the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly blogging meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is your favorite/least fave trends in YA covers. 

My favorite recent cover trend is the close-up portrait. The’re always of girls, and often feature alterations, designs, or magical elements along with the portrait. You get a really good idea of what genre the book is and what the feel of the book might b. Having such a detailed portrait of the girl on the cover really creates a connection between the reader and the book, before they even open it up and start reading.

Check out ten of my favorite girl-portrait-close-up covers below!

Faking NormalEntangled (Entangled, #1)Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #3)Just Like FateThe Almost Girl (The Almost Girl, #1)Blackbird (Blackbird Duology, #1)This Song Will Save Your LifeUnremembered (Unremembered, #1)Impostor (Slide, #2)A Touch Menacing (A Touch Trilogy, #3)

Saturday night parks

I needed to get out this afternoon, and so did Ruby and Chad. So I searched for the park closest to my house. My new house. I discovered Florence nature park, a lovely jewel of a park just off Dixie highway.
There were animal status, trees loaded with mulberries, bushes with lots of ripening black raspberries, and lots of grassy hills.

I seriously had so many mulberries I thought I might be sick. It was awesome. The park wasn’t very big, but it was quiet and green and lush and full of berry trees. I really enjoyed it! A lovely way to spend the first day of summer.