Review: The Cutting Room Floor by Dawn Klehr

The Cutting Room FloorTitle: The Cutting Room Floor

Author: Dawn Klehr

Genre: YA Contemporary, Mystery, LGBT

Publication Date: October 1, 2013 (Flux)

Source: eARC from the publisher via NetGalley

Synopsis: Behind-the-scenes secrets could turn deadly for Desmond and Riley.

Life in the Heights has never been easy for seventeen-year-old Riley Frost, but when she’s publicly dumped and outed at the same time, she becomes an immediate social outcast at her high school. So Riley swears off romance and throws herself into solving the shocking murder of her favorite teacher, Ms. Dunn.

Riley turns to her best friend, budding filmmaker Desmond Brandt, for help. What she doesn’t know is that Dez has been secretly directing her life, blackmailing her friends, and hoping his manipulations will make her love him. When his schemes go too far, Dez’s web of lies threatens to destroy both of their lives.

2.5/5 stars – Needs more of a focus so the bad gets thrown out and the good becomes great

Oh, The Cutting Room Floor. This one came really, really close to being great, but because it didn’t fully understand who it was (much like its co-narrator Riley!), I had a hard time understanding who it was too.  With a stronger focus and a lot of story-snipping, The Cutting Room Floor could be a dark tale of the lengths people go to when they’re obsessed and think they’re in love. What do readers get? A story with that, a lukewarm exploration of a girl’s sexuality, and a badly written, unneeded murder mystery.

Dez’s obsession with Riley and the horrifying lengths he goes to in order to make her like him back are strongly written and fulfilled all my expectations. Had this been the entirety of what the novel was about, this would have been a four-star or even a five-star read. He just about takes the spotlight away from Riley because he’s that well-written and thoroughly characterized. As he reveals what all he’s done in his pursuit of Riley, you can only stare with wide eyes and a gaping jaw. Horror rooted in obsession is one of my favorite kinds of horror to read!

The storyline about Riley’s burgeoning sexuality and how she’s not sure if she’s into girls or boys is okay, but the way everyone seems to be afraid of bisexuality really puts a damper on it. It’s treated like she was straight, then a lesbian, then straight again. I could ask if anyone in this novel has heard of bisexuality, but since it’s brought up a few times, it appears they have.

However, it’s only brought up in a situation where it will go nowhere or when someone says “screw the labels” when it comes to sexuality. It’s a nice sentiment, but it’s completely avoiding the issue instead of trying to address it. It is okay to openly say someone is bisexual. They are not disqualified from this even if they prefer men more at one time in their life and prefer girls more on another. GAH.

The murder mystery plot line is strong at first, but it quickly fizzles out, taking with it two important plot points that are neither brought up again nor resolved. When the killer is revealed, our narrators suddenly start throwing out all the evidence that person was the killer and acting like it was there all along–but readers never saw any of that evidence in the story. Rather than clever, it feels like someone gave up on trying to weave those clues into the story without making the killer’s identity obvious and decided to take the easy way out: hold it all in until the end and then backtrack. Doing so makes an already badly-written mystery even more frustrating.

In the end, this book needed a little more time in the editing room and more stuff left on the cutting room floor (it’s a pun that must be made!). The murder mystery is altogether unnecessary, the question of Riley’s sexual identity needs better handling, and Dez’s obsession with Riley is great but deserves more time.

On My Wishlist: Week 80


On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It’s where I list all the books I desperately want but haven’t actually bought yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming. If you want to know more click here.

Week 78: Desperately looking for the following ARCs/Review Copies:   “Invisibility”, “Indelible”, “Ashes on the Waves”, “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea”, “The Eternity Cure”, and more! Let me know if you’re willing to send me a copy!

Here’s what’s on my wishlist this week:

9981497“Never Let Me Go: The Screenplay” by Alex Garland, Kazuo Ishiguro

Summary: The screenplay based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Why?: Okay I literally just got around to watching the movie adaptation after giving the novel a reread, and hot damn. I mean, I was bawling my eyes out by the end of both the movie and the book, and wow. I just want to read how differently Garland deviated from Ishiguro’s book, though it doesn’t seem like such a drastic change. But I love to compare and contrast, so I’m nitpicky like that. Too bad this never went on sale in the US – hopefully I can find it used for a decent price on ebay or half or something…

What’s on your wishlist this week?

Manga Monday – Week 23

mangamondaySo, I’ve seen this feature on a few book blogs out there, and decided to make this feature my own. After suggestions from friends, Manga Mondays comes to Birth of a New Witch! I’ll try to give equal billing to manga being released both in the US and in Japan, since US licensing takes awhile and I read manga in both languages. I want to cater to other fans out there who do the same.

Confused by some of the terms I use in this feature? See Week 1 for clarification on my most commonly used terms.

And now, to this week’s US and Japanese choices!

Week 23 (US Release):  “Tiger & Bunny: Volume 1” by Sakakibara Mizuki

A14861-1553487631.1351627587Title: “Tiger & Bunny: Volume 1”

Author/Artist: Sakakibara Mizuki

Translation company/US Publisher: Viz

Publication Date: April 9, 2013 (North America)

Genre: Shounen, Superheroes

Summary: The official manga tie-in to the international smash-hit animated series!

Superpowered humans known as NEXT appeared in the world 45 years ago. Some of them fight crime in the city of Stern Bild while promoting their corporate sponsors on the hit show “HERO TV.” The people love their superheroes, even if they don’t completely understand them, and not all of the NEXT use their powers for good.

Veteran hero Wild Tiger has years of experience fighting crime, but his ratings have been slipping. Under orders from his new employer, Wild Tiger finds himself forced to team up with Barnaby Brooks Jr., a rookie with an attitude. Overcoming their differences will be at least as difficult for this mismatched duo as taking down superpowered bad guys!

Usagi’s Take: This is actually one of FOUR (yes, four) manga versions of the anime show, but I rather like this first one. This series is a LOT of fun, and I’m glad it’s finally hitting Stateside. It’s incredibly silly and just a whole lot of fun. If you’re looking for a good superhero-centric manga that’s not about magical girls (and there’s just not a lot of those out there), DEFINITELY give T&B a chance. My review for them is coming soon, so be on the lookout for that!

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Review: “The Guild: The Knights of Good (The Guild #2)” by Felicia Day & Others

Title: “The Guild: The Knights of Good (The Guild #2)”

Author: Felicia Day & Others

Genre: Manga & Comics, Comedy, TV & Film, AWESOME

Publication Date: July 3, 2012 (North America – Dark Horse Comics)

Source: NetGalley review copy

Summary: Set before the first season of the show, these hilarious stories delighted fans and newbies alike and introduced plots that influenced the show itself, including season 5’s backstory of Tink, originally hinted at in these pages. Featuring a huge variety of comics’ best artists as well as many of the talents key to the web series, and leading directly to the moment Zaboo unexpectedly appears at a startled Codex’s front door in episode 1, this collection comprises a true “season 0” of The Guild! Collects the one-shots The Guild: Vork, The Guild: Tink, The Guild: Bladezz, The Guild: Clara, and The Guild: Zaboo.

☆: 4.5/5 stars – a definite can’t miss read for fans of “The Guild”!

Review: Guild fans! You can’t miss this volume of backstories of our heroes that before now, was only alluded to in episodes of the series or not revealed at all. While it doesn’t further the current season storylines as we know them, it does give us important (and fun!) information on Tink, Bladezz, Vork, Clara, and Zaboo – all leading up to the pilot episode in season 1.
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Review: “Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire” by James Lowder and Others

Title: “Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R R Martin’s ‘ A Song of Ice & Fire'”

Author: James Lowder and Others

Genre: Anthology, Fantasy, Non-Fiction Commentary

Publication Date: June 26, 2012

Source: NetGalley review copy

Summary: Go beyond the Wall and across the narrow sea with this collection about George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, from A Game of Thrones to A Dance with Dragons. The epic game of thrones chronicled in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series has captured the imaginations of millions of readers. In Beyond the Wall, bestselling authors and acclaimed critics offer up thought-provoking essays and compelling insights:

Daniel Abraham reveals the unique challenges of adapting the original books into graphic novels. founders Linda Antonsson and Elio M. García, Jr., explore the series’ complex heroes and villains, and their roots in the Romantic movement.
Wild Cards contributor Caroline Spector delves into the books’ controversial depictions of power and gender.

Plus much more, from military science fiction writer Myke Cole on the way Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder shapes many of the leading characters to author and television writer Ned Vizzini on the biases against genre fiction that color critical reactions to the series.

☆: 4/5 stars – a definite MUST READ for any ‘Song of Ice & Fire’ fan!

Review: When it comes to series I love, I love reading any kind of scholarly (or even pseudo-scholarly) discourse and discussion on it. George R R Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” has long warranted at least one kind of anthology with essays about the series, and I’m happy to say that Ben Bella books has really done fans a solid by releasing this gem of a book. “Beyond the Wall” isn’t just useful for fans, but for aspiring authors, as well (regardless if you’re writing fantasy or contemporary). Whether you’re a casual or a die hard fan of the series, or if you’re just getting into “ASOIAF”, “Beyond the Wall” is definitely a must read for you.

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Review: “Angel and Faith: Live Through This – Volume 1 (Angel & Faith #1)” by Christos Gage

Title: “Angel and Faith: Live Through This – Volume 1 (Angel & Faith #1)”

Author: Christos Gage, Joss Whedon

Genre: Comics, TV & Film, Urban Fantasy, Spin-Off, Paranormal

Publication Date: June 20, 2012

Summary: Angel has made bad choices in his life. Most recently? While possessed, he killed Giles. However, he believes he’s found a way to make amends, by bringing the Watcher back from the grave! Cue Faith—rebel Slayer, and Angel’s only ally—who only supports this harebrained scheme in order to keep her friend from catatonia. New threats emerge as this unlikely duo struggles against real and personal demons alike, while hitting the dark streets of London! Collects Angel & Faith issues #1–#5, the Live through This arc, and issue #6, the In Perfect Harmony one-shot.

☆: 4/5 – a fantastic new spin-off that will hopefully have a nice, long life in the Whedon/Buffy canon!

Review: Oh, the art for this one! I absolutely adore all of the art for “Angel & Faith” so far. But those who are new to the series should definitely read ALL of “Buffy: Season 8” as it pretty much picks up from the end of the last issue/TPB and goes from there. Nevertheless, this is a GREAT spinoff, and I’m really happy it happened. I’ve always had a soft spot for both Angel and Faith, so it’s great to see them teamed up. If you’re a Buffy fan or just a Joss Whedon fan, you definitely have to pick up the first volume of “Angel and Faith”. There ARE spoilers in this review, so read with caution.
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Stacking the Shelves: Week 05

What is Stacking The Shelves all about?

We are all book lovers and the need to share our enthusiasm is sometimes overwhelming. Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

If you’re anything like me, you are probably hoarding books and even though you are excited about your latest book arrival, it might be a while before you get to review it and Stacking The Shelves is a good way to express your undying enthusiasm for those titles! (Hosted by!)

Week 04: Here’s what landed on my shelves this week!


1. “Mind Games” by Carolyn Crane – library

2. “Fated” by Benedict Jacka  – library

3. “Bloodfever (Fever #2)” by Karen Marie Moning – library

4. “The Secret World of Arrietty (Karigurashi no Arrietty) Film Comic: Volume 1” by Hiromasa Yonebayashi – library

5. “The Secret World of Arrietty (Karigurashi no Arrietty) Film Comic: Volume 2” by Hiromasa Yonebayashi – library

6. “The Assassin’s Curse” by Cassandra Rose Clarke – via the author (Thanks!)

7. Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle
by The Countess of Carnarvon – library

8. “Dreaming Awake (Under #2)” by Gwen Hayes – library

9. “The Immortal Rules” by Julie Kagawa – via ARC swap (Thanks!)

10. “Auracle” by Gina Rosati – via the author (Thanks!)

11. “When the Sea is Rising Red” by Cat Hellisen – library

12. “The Secret Circle: The Divide” by Aubrey Clark & LJ Smith – library

13. “Judgment at Proteus” by Timothy Zahn – via Tor/Forge (Thanks!)

14. “Mangaman” by Barry Lyga & Colleen Doran – library

♡ DVDs:

1. “Sherlock Holmes (2010 remake)” – library

2. “Thor (2011)” – netflix (not pictured)

My HUGE thanks to Cassandra Rose Clarke/Strange Chemistry, Gina Rosati/Macmillan, and Tor/Forge this week for sending me your awesome books! I can’t wait to get to them! I was especially floored that my library had “Mangaman”, which I’ve been trying to find to read since it got released last year (I heart you, Barry Lyga!), and the “Arrietty” film manga. I can’t wait to read all of these! Seriously. And notice I’m starting to read more urban fantasy? I blame friend and fellow writer Aurora Gray, Felicia Day, and a whole bunch of other people getting me hooked into this genre.

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In My Mailbox ♡: Week 55

What is In My Mailbox?
In My Mailbox was started in November of 2008. What it all came down to was this: I get books to read and then ultimately share my thoughts about with my readers. As much as I want to, I can’t possibly read every book I receive. Yet, I still wanted a way to feature those books on the blog, even though it might not be in the form of a review. Problem solved!

Week 55: Here’s what’s in my mailbox this week!


1. “1Q84 (English Translated Edition” by Murakami Haruki – bought

2. “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick – library

3. “I Hunt Killers” by Barry Lyga – via ARC Swap (thanks, guys!)

4. “Black Heart (Curse Workers #3)” by Holly Black – via ARC Swap (thanks, guys!)

5. “Book Girl and the Corrupted Angel (Bungaku Shoujo to Aimei no Tenshi – Book Girl #4 – English Translated Edition)” by Nomura Mizuki – bought


♡ DVD:

1. “The Adventures of Tintin (2011)” – via Klout Perks (thanks!)

Holy crap awesome week, Batman! Bookman, one of my favorite used bookstores had both “1Q84” and “Book Girl #4” barely read and on sale  so I paid $5 for the lot of them between the sale and the credit I had! And what I’m most excited about – “BLACK HEART”. OMG, screaming. Thank you, thank you, thank you to my partners at ARC swap for being so kind to swap with me, because I’ve been dying to read this since I finished “Red Glove” last year! And yay for “I Hunt Killers”, which has been hailed as “Son of Dexter”. I can’t wait! Also, finally getting to read “Hugo” – I still haven’t seen it yet and I’m waiting in line at the library to get the DVD, so I’m hoping it’s good. And of course, thanks to Klout Perks for the shiny new Tintin movie! I like Tintin quite a bit so I’m excited to watch it. I better get reading, since “Black Heart” is just so very very tempting…

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In My Mailbox ♡: Week 54 (the Wondercon 2012 edition)

What is In My Mailbox?
In My Mailbox was started in November of 2008. What it all came down to was this: I get books to read and then ultimately share my thoughts about with my readers. As much as I want to, I can’t possibly read every book I receive. Yet, I still wanted a way to feature those books on the blog, even though it might not be in the form of a review. Problem solved!

Week 54: Here’s what’s in my mailbox this week!

1. “Crucible of Gold (Temeraire #7)” by Naomi Novik (via Del Rey/Librarything – thanks, guys!)

2. “A Temptation of Angels” by Michelle Zink (via the author – and signed, too! Michelle, you’re far too good to me, and thanks for your postcard this week, too!)

3. “Uglies: Shay’s Story – Volume 1” by Scott Westerfeld (via Del Rey/Librarything! Thanks, guys!)

4. “Truth (XVI #2)” by Julia Karr (via ARC swap)

5. “Dogs: Bullets & Carnage – Volume 5 (English Translated Edition)” (bought)



6. “Elemental” by Emily White (via Spencer Hill Press – thanks!)

Hooray, my librarything winnings came in! I didn’t know I’d won “Crucible of Gold” but gave it a try and found that it wasn’t for me. The rest of this week’s haul was pretty awesome – I’m working on “Elemental” now and so far it’s pretty interesting – my thanks to Spencer Hill Press for sending me a copy, and to librarything/DelRey for sending me “Uglies” and “Crucible of Gold”! Also a huge hug to my bro Michelle Zink for sending me a fresh new signed finished copy of “Temptation of Angels”! It’s already on my shelf and damn, does it look nice there. As always, thanks to my partners at ARC swap, too! I better get reading!

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Happy Hunger Games, Everyone!

Happy Hunger Games, everyone!

Yes, the movie is finally here! I myself wasn’t able to get to the midnight screening, and I should be seeing it sometime this weekend. All I can say is that I’m extremely excited to FINALLY see this after about a year of torture and promo photos and whatnot. I know I’m going to have to get some swag when I get some time and money (the China Glaze nail polish set, which Alethea and Thuy covered over at Read Now, Sleep Later, is DEFINITELY one I want to invest in – just look at these swatches! I’m in love!).

I have the soundtrack, though I need to load it up on the usagipod for my workout (somehow I have the feeling it’s going to be awesome listening to Hunger Games madness while doing the recumbent bike!), and I’m really looking forward to the official score, which will be released next Monday, March 26th, 2012. Because I’m the kind of nerd that loves to work out to my favorite nerdy TV and movie scores (The first season soundtrack for “Game of Thrones” is a favorite). It’s just how I roll.

So, who of you were the lucky ones able to go to a midnight screening near you? Who wasn’t able to? Will you see the film in the first weekend of release? Well, whenever you go see it, I hope you enjoy it! I hope/know I will! And may the odds be ever in your favor! ❤