Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston {87}

Title: A Thousand Nights
Author: E.K. Johnston
Release date: October 6, 2015
LO-MELKHIIN KILLED THREE HUNDRED GIRLS before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time. But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.

Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.

Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

LOOK AT THE PRETTY. I mean.. I just. I can't. BUT THEN, it also sounds amazing. I'm totally okay with all these Thousand and One Nights retellings popping up, totally okay.

 So what are you guys waiting on this week? :)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier {113}

Title: Dream a Little Dream
Author: Kerstin Gier
Release date: April 14, 2015
Mysterious doors with lizard-head knobs. Talking stone statues. A crazy girl with a hatchet. Yep, Liv’s dreams have been pretty weird lately. Especially this one where she’s in a graveyard at night, watching four boys perform dark magic rituals. 

The really weird thing is that Liv recognizes the boys in her dream. They’re classmates from her new school in London, the school where’s she’s starting over because her mom has moved them to a new country (again). But they seem to know things about her in real life that they couldn’t possibly know, which is mystifying. Then again, Liv could never resist a good mystery. . . 

My teaser, from pg. 136 in the ARC:
...I was able to add another point to the scientific evaluation of my dreams on record: Fifth, I was obviously able to dream of things that I couldn't possibly know.

I'm really enjoying this so far! I loved Kerstin Gier's Ruby Red books, so it's no surprise, really. Her narrative voices are really entertaining and fresh, and simply a lot of fun to read.

Oh, and I'm so glad for this cover redesign. The cover of my ARC is too fluffy and silly looking, which does very little to sell the book to me. This new cover, however, is pretty. Same font (which was the one thing I liked about the first), but a completely different color scheme, no bubbles or butterflies (which make sense as I read the book, but look silly on the cover), and just a hint of darkness. Much better!

I'll be visiting around and visiting back, so leave me links to your teasers! :) Happy Tuesday!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Baking By the Book: November Cakes from The Scorpio Races

I'm finally back with another Baking By the Book! Hooray! I've actually had the pieces for this post for about a month, but I didn't want to post two too close together and then I kind of kept forgetting. :)

Anyway, This time around I'm baking November Cakes, as featured in Maggie Stiefvater's wonderful The Scorpio Races. This was a recipe I wanted to try from the moment I read about it in the book, and I've had the link to Maggie's recipe for it saved for years. This was the recipe that I think gave me the idea for the feature, so yay for finally making it! And y'all said more pictures, so there are definitely more pictures this time!

After making the Cinnamon Bookbinder Bread, making bread this time around wasn't quite as intimidating, though this was certainly a more involved recipe. But who could think a bun with a glaze AND icing could be bad? (That icing is actually heaven in a bowl, I swear. I was tempted just to eat the whole thing and make a second batch for the cakes.)

All of my ingredients, assembled in one place. This always, always makes things easier for me. And I put them away as I use them.

My wet and dry ingredients for the buns, right before I mixed them together.

The dough after I finished mixing it and before I put it aside to rise. Maggie has great advice about pre-heating your oven to 100 degrees (mine won't go that low, so I don't let it heat up all the way), turning it off, covering your dough with a towel, and putting it in the oven to rise. This has worked really well for me multiple times.

The dough after it rose. It has a really weird, sticky consistency at this point, and was hard to handle to form into the buns. It tasted good, though!

Buns on the pan, ready to bake!

Buns right after they baked. They were still pretty light in color, with golden edges, but they're still really soft.

With the honey glaze, which pooled a lot, and made the buns even better later--after they'd been sitting in it for a while.

And the finished product! My icing abilities are clearly not up to par, but it doesn't hurt how they taste. Again, these were a hit in my house. I'm actually not the biggest fan of honey, and the glaze uses half a cup of honey, so they have a strong honey taste. It didn't mean I didn't like them--not at all--but were I to make them again, I'd probably go a little lighter on the honey, just to please my palate. My parents weren't bothered by that at all. They reheated really well, too. I'd stick one in the microwave for ten seconds and it'd be hot and gooey all over again, without getting weird. Fresh out of the oven is when they're best, though.

Now, should you like to try these (and you totally should!), Maggie posted the recipe via Flickr, where you can download it from, and here's the photo:

Needless to say, you should read the recipe just for her little asides. They're wonderful.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Stacking the Shelves {111}

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to share the books we've bought, been gifted, or received for review!

How was everybody's week? Mine's been pretty stinking good! Nothing terribly exceptional, just happiness at work and in life, you know? They're giving me real shift on the book floor at B&N, so now I'm actually a bookseller! 

For review:

Hidden Huntress (The Malediction Trilogy #2) by Danielle L. Jensen
I totally missed that this was on Netgalley last week, so when I saw a bunch of people got it last week, I might've freaked. Now IT'S MINE.

A recap of the week here on Paper Cuts:
Monday - Review: Sorceress (Spellcaster #3) by Claudia Gray
Tuesday - Teaser Tuesday: I Am Her Revenge by Meredith Moore
Wednesday - Waiting on Wednesday: Velvet Undercover by Teri Brown
Friday - Review: The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre

Books I read this week:
Mistress Firebrand by Donna Thorland
Fairest by Marissa Meyer
Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures by Jackson Pearce & Maggie Stiefvater
I Am Her Revenge by Meredith Moore

I'm currently reading:
Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier

So that's been my week! I was doing so well with the reading, finishing three books in two days, and then I lulled with I Am Her Revenge. It was meh and took too long for me to finish. Oh well. :) Have a lovely Sunday and a fabulous week!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Review: The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre

Release date: April 7, 2015
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 328
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher provided for review
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Sage Czinski is trying really hard to be perfect. If she manages it, people won’t peer beyond the surface, or ask hard questions about her past. She’s learned to substitute causes for relationships, and it’s working just fine… until Shane Cavendish strolls into her math class. He’s a little antisocial, a lot beautiful, and everything she never knew she always wanted.

Shane Cavendish just wants to be left alone to play guitar and work on his music. He’s got heartbreak and loneliness in his rearview mirror, and this new school represents his last chance. He doesn’t expect to be happy; he only wants to graduate and move on. He never counted on a girl like Sage.

But love doesn’t mend all broken things, and sometimes life has to fall apart before it can be put back together again…
I describe a lot of books as being cute, but I don't often say many of those are sweet. While at times The Queen of Bright and Shiny Objects is cute, I really think the best description includes sweet. There's a lot of darkness in the pasts of Sage and Shane, but their efforts to be the best people they can be--individually and together--is heartening and just lovely to read about. Not to mention, their romance is just wonderful.

What I think is wonderful about The Queen of Bright and Shiny things is that it deals with so many problems, both of Sage and Shane's, but those don't overwhelm the story and, at the same time, they aren't diminished. It's this fine balance of weight and levity; it makes you feel how serious their pasts are, but you're still encouraged for the present and future.

I did find that the drama with Dylan was a little..over the top, I guess? At moments, I could envision him as an old-timey villain, twirling his mustache and rubbing his hands together, or saying the Wicked Witch of the West's "I'll get you my pretty, and your little dog, too!" It felt a little cartoony. He's given a good back story and explanation toward his actions, but it didn't stop how it felt. Also, some cheesy lines throughout by different characters--but I can handle some cheese.

I don't often get so struck by a section of a book that I immediately put it down to hunt for something to mark it. I often don't mark a thing in a single book for months. But in The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things, there are moments that made me stop, just to make sure I wouldn't lose that paragraph.

About the author:

Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. She likes books, emo music, and action movies. She writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Velvet Undercover by Teri Brown {86}

Title: Velvet Undercover
Author: Teri Brown
Release date: October 20, 2015
Samantha Donaldson’s family has always done its duty for the British Crown. In the midst of World War I, seventeen-year-old Sam follows in their footsteps, serving her country from the homefront as a Girl Guide and messenger for the intelligence organization MI5. After her father disappears on a diplomatic mission, she continues their studies of languages, high-level mathematics, and complex puzzles and codes, hoping to make him proud.

When Sam is asked to join the famed women’s spy group La Dame Blanche she’s torn—this could be the adventure she’s dreamed of, but how can she abandon her mother, who has already lost a husband to the war? But when her handlers reveal shocking news, Sam realizes there’s no way she can refuse the exciting and dangerous opportunity.

Her acceptance leads her straight into the heart of enemy territory on a mission to extract the most valuable British spy embedded in Germany, known to the members of LDB only as Velvet. Deep undercover within the court of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Samantha must navigate the labyrinthine palace and its many glamorous—and secretive—residents to complete her assignment. To make matters worse she finds herself forming a forbidden attraction to the enemy-a dangerously handsome German guard. In a place where personal politics are treacherously entangled in wartime policy, can Samantha discover the truth and find Velvet before it’s too late…for them both?

From author Teri Brown comes the thrilling story of one girl’s journey into a deadly world of spycraft and betrayal—with unforgettable consequences.

I so enjoyed Teri Brown's other books, Born of Illusion and Born of Deception, so I want mooooore from her!

 So what are you guys waiting on this week? :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: I Am Her Revenge by Meredith Moore {112}

Title: I Am Her Revenge
Author: Meredith Moore
Release date: April 7, 2015
She can be anyone you want her to be.
Vivian was raised with one purpose in life: to exact revenge on behalf of her mother. Manipulative and cruel, Mother has deprived Vivian not only of a childhood, but of an original identity. With an endless arsenal of enticing personalities at her disposal, Vivian is a veritable weapon of deception.

And she can destroy anyone.
When it’s time to strike, she enrolls in a boarding school on the English moors, where she will zero in on her target: sweet and innocent Ben, the son of the man who broke Mother’s heart twenty years ago.

Anyone… except for the woman who created her.
With every secret she uncovers, Vivian comes one step closer to learning who she really is. But the more she learns about herself, the more dangerous this cat and mouse game becomes. Because Mother will stop at nothing to make sure the truth dies with her. 

My teaser, from pg. 13 in the ARC:
I zone out, and my eyelids grow heavy. I jab my pen into the palm of my hand every few minutes to stay awake until the bell finally rings and I can head to English literature.

Which is much more interesting. Because it's there that I first see him.

This book sounds beyond fantastic, so I'm thrilled to be reading it. I'm not far, but who can't love a good revenge story? :)

I'll be visiting around and visiting back, so leave me links to your teasers! :) Happy Tuesday!