Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, what's really got my pages in a twist is...

Three Dark Crowns
(Untitled #1)
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Hardcover, 416 pages, HarperTeen
Genres: YA, Fantasy

Fans of acclaimed author Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood will devour her latest novel, a dark and inventive fantasy about three sisters who must fight to the death to become queen.

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.

My Thoughts

I read Blake’s Anna duology, and I enjoyed it. I’m hoping this series brings her work to a new level, though. Fantasy books have become ridiculously popular, and I don’t think I’ve read a bad one yet. Hopefully, this one keeps up with my good luck.

What book are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Monday, July 4, 2016

Guest Post: How to Choose an Ebook Subscription Service

I have something very special and completely new today. I actually have a guest post for you. Cassie, whose author info is down towards the end of the post, is from Culture Coverage, and she’s written a short piece all about how to choose an ebook subscription service. 

Yeah, I didn’t even know such things existed until I read this article. Guess what I’ll be checking out and mulling over my options for in the very near future. (It’s not a very hard guess, is it?)

Anywho, I’ll let Cassie, and her very informative article tell you more about what I obviously know very little about.

Take it away, Cassie!


How to Choose an Ebook Subscription Service

Ebooks have made it easier than ever before to get your fill of your favorite authors. The instant-access format means you can grab a book no matter where you are and never be left without a good bit of reading.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen many of the biggest name eBook retailers try their hand at subscription services. Described as “the Netflix of Books,” the offer lets you pay monthly for unlimited access to all the stories in their library. While this is a massive benefit for enthusiastic readers, the services do have some serious drawbacks, so here are some points to consider before you sign-up!

Benefits of Subscribing

There are several reasons why choosing to subscribe, rather than making individual purchases, is a great option. First, if you’re someone who goes through a lot of books per month then you’re highly likely to save some money by using one of these services.

However, a more unconsidered benefit comes from one of the security flaws that have arisen from most e-reader services. The problem is that, when using a product like the Kindle, which allows you to make direct purchases from Amazon, it’s very easy for hackers to access your credit card details. Before now, using a Virtual Private Network was probably the only way to overcome this problem. Using a subscription format instead, however, means that you don’t have to be constantly inputting your credit card information and putting yourself at risk!

The Situation

Right now, ebook subscription services are in their infancy. There is no major player with a monopoly on the market and the companies who have invested in the pursuit are seemingly not in a great position. Scribd has long been one of the biggest names in the eBook subscription market and sits as one of the cheapest options available, coming in at just $8.99 per month. However, recent changes have meant a cull to the amount of literature available on the service.

On the other hand, Kindle Unlimited is now posing serious competition as, for just $9.99 a month, users can access a wide range of Amazon-based content for no charge. This includes a fantastic range of young adult books, with over 400 webpages of novels eligible for the subscription alongside classics from nearly every other genre imaginable.

Fears of Closure

Very recently, another leading contender in the world of eBook subscription shut down for good. Oyster has been around since 2013, and coined the “Netflix of books” phrase long before anyone else considered the concept. So it was with great surprise that the company announced its complete closure in 2015. It has long been discussed whether the longevity of this kind of service was feasible. It’s alarming closures such as this that give weight to critic’s arguments.

Alongside this, with the previously mentioned changes put in place by Scribd, it looks as if the industry as a whole is having to cut back. Whether this is the case or not, the best recommendation we can give is to stick to options whose parent companies have enough resources that they’re not at risk of going under any time soon.

Moving Forward

However, there are other ways to interpret Oyster’s closure. Reports have surfaced that the sudden decision may have been instigated by Google offering jobs to many of Oyster’s innovation employees. Rumors have been sparked of a complete acquisition of the company, and the brand re-launching under Google’s name.

Whilst there have been no confirmed reports of this, it’s clear that Google is looking for the brain power to expand eBook services. What we might actually be seeing is the eBook subscription concept finally finding the commercial backing it’s been looking for.

Alternative Options

If you’re not ready to commit to a subscription yet, there are still plenty of great options available. Goodreads is a fantastic resource, that gives you in-depth reviews and ranking, as well as links to purchase, so you can easily find and get your hands on awesome new reads. Their YA section is huge, and there are lots of fantastic sub-categories to help you narrow down your search.

Similarly, Powell’s is another great bookstore that has whole sections for young adult, romance, fantasy – and almost anything else you can think of. Of course, there’s always still the regular Kindle store, which doesn’t require you to subscribe to purchase books. It also has many free ebooks available to download for your enjoyment!

Choosing a subscription service is not an easy task, but it could save you money. With so much turbulence in the industry at the moment, however, it’s important to choose wisely. If you have any more tips or advice for which to pick, be sure to leave a comment below. We’d love to hear your opinions!

About The Author: Cassie is an entertainment and technology blogger and an avid reader. She loves how to advent of the internet has transformed the way we read and hopes she can share the tips she’s learned with fellow bookworms.

Note: The article's contents were not written or provided by Shell's Stories.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Review: The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Problem with Forever
Publication Date: May 17, 2016
Hardcover, 480 pages, Harlequin Teen
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Romance

For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime.

Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.

It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with the lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory faces a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard.

My Review

Jennifer L. Armentrout is one of my all-time favorite authors. Her romances are hawt! Her heroines are relatable. And her heroes are so very sexy. Despite my love of JLA’s books, I’ve got to say that The Problem with Forever wasn’t one of my favorite stories of hers. It did spark a massive JLA binge-reading session, though.

This story starts out with Mallory, our main character, going to a public high school years after experiencing a traumatic event at her foster home. Because of this bad experience, Mallory keeps very quiet and rarely talks. Now, this was one of my main issues with the story. While I understand that this dilemma is something that can happen, I feel like it’s become a big thing in YA to make the heroine suffer in her own silence. I’m just not a fan of this trope, especially since, even though Mallory is trying to break free from this silence, it always seemed like everyone was patronizing her. (She shouldn’t have to talk if she doesn’t want to, gosh darnnit!)

This brings me to the love interest of the story. Rider is a fine specimen of young man, and he was with Mallory those many years ago. Although Rider experienced the same, if not worse, traumatizing situation, he seems to have kept a somewhat level head. This bothered me. Why is it that the YA heroine has to be the damsel in distress? It’s discussed a wee bit in the book about how Rider had some issues because of his background, but not nearly enough. The story is all about how Mallory is a wounded animal who needs help, even though both kids grew up in a toxic situation. 
I’ll end that rant there because, while I had those character development problems with the story, I did enjoy it. The writing was good, and the other aspects of the characters were fun and/or realistic. I liked the artistic sides of Mallory and Rider, and I also enjoyed how hands-on the parents were. Oh! I’m also very impressed by the friendship that Mallory has with Ainsley in this book. I hope this friendship just continues to grow stronger in Ainsley’s story.

As for the plot of the book, it was a typical finding-yourself-through-young-love scenario. Sometimes this idea can get a little cliché in YA storylines, but I feel like JLA managed to make it work, especially since Rider and Mallory had lived and grown up together. It was natural for them to get close and mend their wounds through each other. Unfortunately—or fortunately depending upon how you look at it—because of this mending, I did shed a tear or two towards the end of the book, so be prepared for waterworks.

All in all, if you love Abbi Glines or Katie McGarry’s tales of problematic teenage romance, then you’ll adore The Problem with Forever. You’ll also be extremely irked to have to wait another year for the spinoff book to release.

*Note: I was gifted a copy of this book. This in no way affected my opinion/review.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Stacking the Shelves: The Not All Young Adult Edition

"Stacking the Shelves" is a weekly haul meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It allows book buyers to share their accumulation of books with the online book-loving community.

I didn’t buy any books this week. Mwahahaha!

Okay, that was weird of me. Instead of buying books though, I borrowed them. Yay! (Even though I’ll probably just end up buying them at some point because 4/5 of them were all soooo good!)

Riders by Veronica Rossi
Remembrance by Meg Cabot

I’ve finished all of the JLA books. While there were some minor issues I had with them, all of the stories put me in a major NA hangover. I need more JLA new adult books, ASAP.

I also finished Remembrance and was taken back to my junior high days. I loved the Mediator books back in eighth and ninth grade, and this book brought back the nostalgia. Thanks, Meg!

As for the Riders, I haven’t gotten to it yet, but we shall see what its pages hold.

What books have you bought/received lately?

Friday, July 1, 2016

Dean Winchester Friday

Dean Winchester (or sometimes Jensen Ackles) Fridays make me a very happy fangirl. You'll see why when you look at the pic.

Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, and Misha Collins at Comic-Con. I seriously wish I could go to just one Comic-Con. Just one. Please, Universe? Please?