Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Ghosts of the Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, Kelly Link, and Robin Wasserman

Summary From Goodreads:
The Shadow Market is a meeting point for faeries, werewolves, warlocks and vampires. There the Downworlders buy and sell magical objects, make dark bargains, and whisper secrets they do not want the Nephilim to know. Through two centuries, however, there has been a frequent visitor to the Shadow Market from the City of Bones, the very heart of the Shadowhunters. As a Silent Brother, Brother Zachariah is sworn keeper of the laws and lore of the Nephilim. But once he was a Shadowhunter called Jem Carstairs, and his love, then and always, is the warlock Tessa Gray.

Follow Brother Zachariah and see, against the backdrop of the Shadow Market’s dark dealings and festive celebrations, Anna Lightwood’s first romance, Matthew Fairchild’s great sin and Tessa Gray plunged into a world war. Valentine Morgenstern buys a soul at the Market and a young Jace Wayland’s soul finds safe harbor. In the Market is hidden a lost heir and a beloved ghost, and no one can save you once you have traded away your heart. Not even Brother Zachariah...

Ghosts of the Shadow Market will be co-written with Maureen Johnson, Robin Wasserman, Sarah Rees Brennan and Pulitzer finalist Kelly Link and will initially be available digitally.

The first eight stories will be published as e-books from around March 2018 monthly, with the final two available in a print bind-up of all the stories, to be published in 2019.
I love these books. I love all the books that take place in this magical, magical world. I kind of went into this one blindly. It came out before I knew it. And I didn’t even let myself read the side flap summary. I just jumped right in. I loved getting so much more of Jem! He was one of my favorite characters from the The Infernal Devices series. And getting all these mini moments of him over the centuries was such a surprise treat.
This book definitely reads like a setup for the author’s upcoming series. But, I liked that. I liked getting the full backstory of what’s to come. And I liked getting so much perspective on it. From Alec’s story, to Catarina’s, to Magnus’s, to even Jace’s. Getting  to read about the night Jace joined the Lightwood’s was such a treat!
And I guess that’s the overall feeling of this book in general; a special treat I didn’t know I needed, but greatly did. And getting a more in-depth description of Alec and Magnus’ adoption story brought tears to my eyes. And I can’t forget Jem’s love story that transcends centuries. It was heart-wrenching, sad, and beautiful. I was so happy for the love he finally got to experience.
I love that Cassandra Clare teams up sometimes with other authors. I feel like these other authors can pull out even more from her. When she pairs with Maureen Johnson or Sarah Rees Brennan, it’s like magic. These ladies get characters so well. And you’d think that other authors (who didn’t actually write these people initially) would struggle with this. They don’t. They make these characters even more real.
Not all the stories were amazing. Some were. Some were just okay. But overall, I was glad to have read this. It really did feel like a bonus treat I was rewarded for good behavior. I got sneak peaks into moments I only ever imagined before…or didn’t even have the ability to think up. I can’t wait for the much alluded to next series to come out. Overall I give this a 9/10.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Serafina and the Seven Stars by Robert Beatty

Summary from Goodreads:
Serafina and Braeden make an epic return in the hotly anticipated fourth installment of Robert Beatty's #1 New York Times best-selling Serafina series. Serafina, the Guardian of Biltmore Estate, has won battle after battle against the dark forces encroaching on her home. Now, tranquility has returned to Biltmore. Serafina doesn't trust it. She patrols the grounds night and day, hardly sleeping, uncertain of her place after her best friend Braeden Vanderbilt's departure for boarding school in New York.

When Mr. Vanderbilt, the kind master of Biltmore, asks Serafina to move upstairs into one of the house's grandest rooms, she's sure it's to keep an eye on the guests who have arrived for the estate's annual hunt.

But as Serafina investigates, she becomes more and more unsettled by what Biltmore has become-a place haunted by nameless terrors where no dark corridor is safe. Even worse, she begins to doubt her own senses. Is Braeden really hundreds of miles away, or did he return to Biltmore for one strange night before vanishing? Is the bond between them truly broken or is it stronger than ever?

Then Serafina witnesses a crime that turns her world upside down. How can all that once seemed good and worthy of protection now be evil? And how can she guard those around her when she can't even be sure of the truth of her own heart?

Serafina and the Seven Stars marks the return of a heroine like no other, as master storyteller Robert Beatty weaves his darkest, most astonishing tale yet.
As I wrote on Goodreads, this wasn’t quite as suspenseful or dark or as addicting as the other books in this series. But…I still loved it. The ending melted my heart. It felt like this was the closure fans needed from book 3, but didn’t get. We got some closure in this book and it was nice.
I am a huge fan of this series. I find myself recommending it to children, teens, and adults. The writing style, the setting, and the plot are just masterful. It’s what I wish all middle grade novels can be, and secretly hope for each time I flip through new pages.
I was sad when the third (and thought to be final) book ended. I wanted more closure. I needed to know what would become of Serafina. She can’t live in the basement forever. And was there any possibility of her and Braeden becoming more than just friends? This fourth book (and definitely probably) last book answers all these questions.
There’s also of course a supernatural mystery to solve. I liked the involvement of Greek mythology, though I have to say out of all the mysteries, this one grabbed me the least. Maybe because my focus was on other things. Or maybe because my focus was supposed to be elsewhere. I’m not sure. That being said, it was still filled some serious surprises for me. One scene had me gasping in shock.
I liked that things resolved with a neat ribbon at the end. Though, maybe the ending was too good to be true. I liked how happy everything was. Don’t get me wrong. I feel like I have been drowning in sad stories, endings, and pot twists lately. It was refreshing to have so much happiness. It just comes off as almost too good. If that makes sense. But, I guess I’m kind of nitpicking here. I love this series. I can’t wait to see what this author writes next. I give this last book an 8/10.

Monday, July 8, 2019

A Good Week in Books (206)

I finished two books this week, and I can’t wait to review them. I’ve also received 5 new books for review (Thank you, Hachette and Macmillan). And I’m lucky enough to have a library board member come back from ALA with a middle grade ARC I’ve been dying to read. I feel so lucky to have so many good books coming my way.
The haul:

The Shortest Distance Between Us by Sandy Hall
The Traitor’s Kingdom by Erin Beaty
Beverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo (ARC)
Symptoms of Heart Break by Sona Charaipotra
Better than the Best Plan by Lauren Morrill
Old Souls by Brian McDonald and Les McClaine
How was your week in books?

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

Summary from Goodreads:
Emma Saylor doesn’t remember a lot about her mother, who died when she was ten. But she does remember the stories her mom told her about the big lake that went on forever, with cold, clear water and mossy trees at the edges.

Now it’s just Emma and her dad, and life is good, if a little predictable…until Emma is unexpectedly sent to spend the summer with her mother’s family—her grandmother and cousins she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl.

When Emma arrives at North Lake, she realizes there are actually two very different communities there. Her mother grew up in working class North Lake, while her dad spent summers in the wealthier Lake North resort. The more time Emma spends there, the more it starts to feel like she is divided into two people as well. To her father, she is Emma. But to her new family, she is Saylor, the name her mother always called her.

Then there’s Roo, the boy who was her very best friend when she was little. Roo holds the key to her family’s history, and slowly, he helps her put the pieces together about her past. It’s hard not to get caught up in the magic of North Lake—and Saylor finds herself falling under Roo’s spell as well.

For Saylor, it’s like a whole new world is opening up to her. But when it’s time to go back home, which side of her will win out?
It takes Sarah Dessen way too long to write books. I wish she did one a year. Or two even…Reading her books feels like reconnecting with an old friend from high school. I have to spend a little time getting reacquainted with her style, and then I am lost in memories and stories. Just lost. Her books suck you up in a way that is both amazing and disorienting. I end up thinking about her characters more than I think about myself. And that’s why her books feel like old friends. Her characters are just real.
This book was no exception. I read it in about 2 days (and that’s only because I was working). It’s the perfect book to read on vacation, when you don’t have to put it down for work and normal life things. I’ve always been a sucker for summer books, and a Sarah Dessen summer book is like the golden ticket. This one is filled with family drama, friendship stories, first love, and growing up. What else do you need?
I was fascinated by the setting too. The economical divide of North Lake/Lake North felt so believable. It reminded me of the economical divide of Neptune (on Veronica Mars). And it reminded me of the moment I realized not everyone in the world was as lucky as I was. I learned what Emma learned (maybe a few years earlier), but in a similar way. And it’s such a life-changing, important thing to learn.
I love how good Emma is. She helps out cleaning motel rooms during her vacation! She puts up with a very snotty cousin who bosses her around. She takes on the sudden important role of role model to her younger cousin with no complaint. Instead of going on a fancy date, she prepped days for, she leaves her date behind to comfort her dumped cousin. She makes so many right decisions, that it was almost impossible for me understand her when she makes some wrong ones.
And then I have to remember, oh yeah, she’s still a kid. Sometimes you have to make these mistakes to learn how bad the consequences are. I love that this book was about Emma growing up as much as it was about her learning about her mother. She got to finish “the rest of the story” of her mother’s that her father wasn’t so forthcoming with. But, she also started to realize what she wanted and who she wanted to be.
And then there’s Roo, every girl’s dream come true. Who doesn’t have that childhood friend they used to dream about re-meeting as an adult and having some crazy romance with? I love that he never pushes Emma in any direction, but lets her come to it on her own time. I also love their easy friendship and how he tells her the stories behind the photo album. I shipped them from the moment they first reunited. He may be my favorite Sarah Dessen boy of all time.
And just when I thought I had this book entirely figured out, there’s a hurricane! The book goes from summery and fun to suspenseful and kind of scary in the turn of a page. And I loved every second of it. Dessen can write suspense too!
This book was great. It was hard to put down. There were classic Sarah Dessen story points covered, but also some new added suspenseful moments too. The characters were amazing. Emma was amazing. Roo was just the best. I give this one a 10/10. I really hope it doesn’t take Dessen too long for her next one.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Guts by Raina Telgemeier

Summary from Goodreads:
A true story from Raina Telgemeier, the #1 New York
bestselling, multiple Eisner Award-winning author of
Smile, Sisters, Drama, and Ghosts!

Raina wakes up one night with a terrible upset stomach. Her mom has one, too, so it's probably just a bug. Raina eventually returns to school, where she's dealing with the usual highs and lows: friends, not-friends, and classmates who think the school year is just one long gross-out session. It soon becomes clear that Raina's tummy trouble isn't going away... and it coincides with her worries about food, school, and changing friendships. What's going on?

Raina Telgemeier once again brings us a thoughtful, charming, and funny true story about growing up and gathering the courage to face -- and conquer -- her fears.
So technically, this comes out in September. I snagged an ARC from a very friendly bookstore. I’m a huge fan of Raina Telgemeier. As a Youth Services Librarian, she’s one of those authors/artists I wish I could shake hands with and personally thank for inspiring so many young people to read. She made comic books cool, accessible, and fun for young girls. I feel like most graphic novels and comics were and still are aimed for boys. Smile was the first one I read, specifically speaking to girls. And I loved it. And so does every girl who reads it.
That all being said, this is probably my least favorite of all her books. This doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. I just didn’t’ enjoy it as much as her other graphic novels.  I still read it in one sitting. I still was transfixed by the art. I still can see many young girls loving and connecting with the story. I just didn’t connect to it as much.
Maybe a tiny bit of my issue with it is that I suffer from 2 GI disorders, and I was kind of hoping that’s what would be covered here. Instead, this is a story about anxiety. To be fair, more people probably suffer from anxiety than GI disorders, and the author herself has anxiety, so it makes sense. I was wrongly hoping it would be about what I had…And then one of the disorders I have was even mentioned as what Raina had…but it wasn’t taken seriously, and the author kind of made it sound like the disorder was part of anxiety…and it’s not. I guess some people can have both the disorder and anxiety, but not everyone. And it’s definitely not something that only exists in my head. I wish the GI disorder wasn’t mentioned at all, so this wouldn’t be an issue. And I get this is all personal for me in ways most young readers won’t comprehend. But, it bothered me.
I like that Raina is still going through all the normal friendship dramas and family dramas in the background. I feel like some of her friendship problems are ones I’ve definitely had. I also love watching Raina learn about who she is, accept the help of therapy, and learn that sharing things about herself can actually help her relate better to her friends. I also think it’s great that there is a book out there for young people that tackles the complications of anxiety in an easy-to-understand way. All in all I give this one a 7/10.

Monday, June 17, 2019

A Good Week in Books (205)

I had another great book week. I received 2 more ARCs, and 1 finished book for review (thanks to Roaring Brook Press and a favorite book store of mine). I also realized a Cassandra Clare book came out that I did not preorder! So, I bought one more. I’m drowning in amazing books right now. I finished one graphic novel, one highly anticipated YA novel, and started another highly anticipated middle grade novel this week.
The new pretties:

Now Entering Adamsville
by Francesca Zappia (ARC)
Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen (ARC)
Ghosts of the Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, Kelly Link, and Robin Wasserman
Last Bus to Ever Land by Sophie Cameron

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins

Summary from Goodreads:
Millie Quint is devastated when she discovers that her sort-of-best friend/sort-of-girlfriend has been kissing someone else. And because Millie cannot stand the thought of confronting her ex every day, she decides to apply for scholarships to boarding schools . . . the farther from Houston the better.

Millie can't believe her luck when she's accepted into one of the world's most exclusive schools, located in the rolling highlands of Scotland. Everything about Scotland is different: the country is misty and green; the school is gorgeous, and the students think Americans are cute.

The only problem: Mille's roommate Flora is a total princess.

She's also an actual princess. Of Scotland.

At first, the girls can barely stand each other--Flora is both high-class and high-key--but before Millie knows it, she has another sort-of-best-friend/sort-of-girlfriend. Even though Princess Flora could be a new chapter in her love life, Millie knows the chances of happily ever afters are slim . . . after all, real life isn't a fairy tale . . . or is it?
I love Rachel Hawkins. I’ve been reading and loving her books since she first came out with Hex Hall. Her books are always fun, romantic, fluffy, and quick. They are perfect beach/summer reads. And this one did not disappoint.
As I said on Goodreads, I love this book. It’s so fluffy and Meg Cabot-y. And swoony. It’s the LGBT royal fairy tale my life was missing. It’s a perfect read for Pride Month. It’s perfect for all the saps out there (like me) who still crave fairytales well into adulthood. It’s for fans of corny romcoms, and The Princess Diaries, and this author. It’s one fluffy love story.
I was surprised to learn that this book was going to be about Flora, who was not the easiest to like character from Royals. However, I was excited for a royal gay love story. I’ve never read a book like this one. And that alone, is reason to read this. I can’t imagine how nice it will feel for LGBT ladies to finally see themselves in a royal story. Fairytales are definitely not just for straight people. And I have to say, I may have liked this fairytale a lot more than a lot of the straight ones I’ve read.
I also loved Millie right away. I love how disassociated she was with royals and tabloids. I love that she’s a wannabe geologist, who loves science and school. And it was nice having an easy-to-love character along with Flora, who’s little rougher around the edges. Though, I love that she brings out a more rebellious side to Millie. And Millie brings out a more down to earth side to Flora.
The boarding school and the Scottish setting were just magical. I loved that Millie wanted to be there to study rocks. The setting really made for the best fairytale background a girl could hope for. I loved returning to some places and people from the previous book. But, I also loved that this clearly stood on its own. You don’t need to read Royals for this one to make sense. Though, if you liked this one, by all means read that one too. It’s equally fluffy and romantic.
There are parties, crazy camping trips, international friend chats, classes in a Hogwarts like setting, weekend visits with royalty, castles, rocks, and plenty of good old fashioned teen drama. I also loved the friends Millie at her new school. They kind of reminded me of characters I love from the show, The Good Place. All in all, this book was fun, swoony and romantic, dramatic, funny, and just an overall good read. I give it a 9/10.