Monday, August 31, 2015

A Good Week in Books (116)

I had a nice little vacation week. My mom was in town and I of course had to show her some of my favorite little, local bookstores. I bought two books for myself this week (both signed)!  One’s YA and one’s adult. The adult one is by one of my favorite adult authors who does sometimes write YA too. I love that I was able to find two signed books this week.

Keeping the Moon
by Sarah Dessen
The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman
How was your week in books?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (154)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week I am waiting on The Siren by Kiera Cass (1/26/16):

Description on Goodreads:
From Kiera Cass, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Selection series, comes a sweeping stand-alone fantasy romance.

A girl with a secret.
The boy of her dreams.
An Ocean between them.

Years ago, Kahlen was rescued from drowning by the Ocean. To repay her debt, she has served as a Siren ever since, using her voice to lure countless strangers to their deaths. Though a single word from Kahlen can kill, she can’t resist spending her days on land, watching ordinary people and longing for the day when she will be able to speak and laugh and live freely among them again.

Kahlen is resigned to finishing her sentence in solitude...until she meets Akinli. Handsome, caring, and kind, Akinli is everything Kahlen ever dreamed of.

Falling in love with a human breaks the Ocean’s rules. But for the first time in a lifetime of following the rules, Kahlen is determined to follow her heart.
Why I’m Waiting:
So, it looks like this book was actually published a long time ago, but HarperTeen has now picked it up and republished/redesigned it. And I think it looks so pretty. Of course, I have to read all of Cass’s books. They are all so addicting and fun. And how addicting and fun does this one sound too?
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

Summary (from Goodreads):

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine— Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.
I had a feeling I’d love this book, and I did. I remember posting it for a Waiting on Wednesday post way back when I first heard about it. I was super excited to meet Julie Murphy at BEA this year and pick up this ARC. The pub date is really soon (9/15), so you won’t have much of a wait on it.

I’ve never read a YA book or any book actually, where the main character was fat and not working hard to loose the fat. I needed this book. I think America needs this book. A book that says beauty comes in all sizes and that any girl should be able see herself as beautiful, confident, and worthy of love.
I was expecting it to be a bit different. The summary had me thinking that Willowdean would be confidant all the time. And she’s not. She’s very self-conscious. I was also expecting the whole story to be about the beauty pageant, and the pageant only took up a few pages toward the end, really.
The book was more about love and acceptance. I loved having a character who thought about her body so often. She thought about how she didn’t want the boy she was making out with to touch her back fat. She hated Halloween because costumes didn’t fit her. She hated the mall, where 90% of the stores there had clothes that also wouldn’t fit her. She hated that she was the center of attention all the time for something people generally seemed disgusted by. Girls assumed she was Ellen’s (her skinny best friend) charity case.
Yet, this main character is also strong. She doesn’t want to be a charity case or a secret. She wants it all. And she goes for it, even if she thinks about giving up along the way.
I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life, and while I don’t think I’ve had it as bad or struggled with it as much as Willowdean, it’s something I super related to. So many of her arguments with her mother about food rung true for me. And I also liked that this was realistic too. Willowdean’s much-loved aunt died super young from a heart attack because of her obesity. Health issues aren’t ignored. They just aren’t the most important thing here. Most important is believing in yourself.
The only times I’ve read about a main character that was overweight was in a book where she would work really hard to lose the weight. And the only overweight side characters in books usually are ones we’re not supposed to like (like the Dursleys). So it was so nice to have this book.
There were some things I was not a fan of, like the ending, and the best friend. I wanted more to the ending. That’s all I’m going to say. I don’t want to spoil a thing. I also never really liked Ellen much. I didn’t care one way or another if they made up at the end because the girl seemed to care way too much what others thought of her for me to respect her.
This book also had so much charm. There were after school jobs, first kisses, school dances, the beauty pageant, new friends, old friends, drag queens, confidence boosters, family drama, and so much more. Seriously, normally, I’d be focused more on what I didn’t like than I am. It’s just such a nice book that I can’t seem to focus on anything but the good. I give it a 9/10.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between by Jennifer E. Smith

Summary (from Goodreads):
On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan only have one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they'll retrace the steps of their relationship, trying to find something in their past that might help them decide what their future should be. The night will lead them to friends and family, familiar landmarks and unexpected places, hard truths and surprising revelations. But as the clock winds down and morning approaches, so does their inevitable goodbye. The question is, will it be goodbye for now or goodbye forever?

This new must-read novel from Jennifer E. Smith, author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, explores the difficult choices that must be made when life and love lead in different directions.
I love this author. This was a book I would not let myself leave BEA without. I was beyond excited to meet her this year. She, I believe, is one of the best YA contemporary writers out there today. That being said, this wasn’t my favorite book of hers.
It was such a brave book. I’ve never read a YA that covers what this does. So, I give Smith major kudos for accomplishing something so big. Normally, contemporary romances are about falling in love. This, was about the end of falling in love. It’s about a couple getting ready to move away to separate colleges on opposite ends of the country. It’s about knowing they need to break up, but being so unwilling to do so.
This is the ultimate break up book. Who hasn’t been in the place of these characters? It’s such a universal topic that it’s kind of crazy to think that there aren’t more books centered on it. This book had me thinking of past goodbyes and past moments. Some things seemed so big and important and other things didn’t seem important enough. I remember hanging out with two friends of mine one night before we took are separate paths to our own respective colleges. And I remember knowing, like Clare, that everything was about to change. That this very well could be the last time the three of us would hang out. And it was.
Going away to college is such a dramatic occasion. And watching the characters of this book go through it all in one night brought back so many memories for me. Really, what a great idea for a book!
However, I never fully loved the characters. I related to Clare, sure. I know what’s it’s like to be going away to college, knowing everything will be different, knowing what I want will change. But, she just never stood out to me. What did she like to do for fun? What was she interested in, besides parties? So much of her inner turmoil seemed vague and typical, and I guess I wanted more pieces of her to shine through. I just didn’t feel like I knew who she was at all.
I think I liked Aidan a little more. He wasn’t afraid to say what he was thinking or do crazy things on his last night. He loved playing lacrosse and he knew where he wanted to go. He just seemed more solid to me. It wasn’t hard to picture who he was.
The best friend characters didn’t seem all too developed either. I felt for Aiden’s best friend, I really did. But, again, I just didn’t feel like I knew him that well. And Clare’s best friend was kind of fuzzy too.
The idea for this book and the journey Clare and Aiden go on are magnificent. I just wish the characters were as good as they were in Smith books of past. I’m also not a fan of the prologue. I feel like it was bit of a cop-out. However, I couldn’t put this book down. The whole concept of it kept me going. And I needed to know how it would all turn out. I give it an 8/10.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 3: Crushed by G. Willow Wilson

Description on Goodreads:
Love is in the air in Jersey City as Valentine’s Day arrives! Kamala Khan may not be allowed to go to the school dance, but Ms. Marvel is! Well sort of — by crashing it in an attempt to capture Asgard’s most annoying trickster! Yup, it’s a special Valentine’s Day story featuring Marvel’s favorite charlatan, Loki! And when a mysterious stranger arrives in Jersey City, Ms. Marvel must deal with…a crush! Because this new kid is really, really cute. What are these feelings, Kamala Khan? Prepare for drama! Intrigue! Romance! Suspense! Punching things! All this and more! The fan-favorite, critically acclaimed, amazing new series continues as Kamala Khan proves why she’s the best (and most adorable) new super hero there is! Plus, see what happens when SHIELD agent Jemma Simmons goes undercover at Kamala’s school!
I continue to be more and more impressed with these comics. I love Kamala. She’s such an awesome teen girl superhero. I love that’s such a normal teen girl, falling for boys and not realizing one of her best friends in love with her. Yet, she’s also the force to be reckoned with. So many things happen to her in this book. She’s messed with, fought, captured, and bossed around. Yet, she doesn’t need to be rescued any more. She fights her way though all of it, and is getting better and better at believing herself.
I like that it takes place in Jersey. And besides the common high school setting, there’s the bodega her friend works at, there’s the mosque her family and her pray in, and there’s all the normal modern-day teen life things that exists in all YA. I also love that all the normal life things keep getting interrupted by various known super heroes and villains. Loki at the Valentine’s dance had me laughing out loud. This book was loaded with humor.
I find Kamala’s normal life just as interesting as her super one. I’m fascinated by her best friend and her brother. I love the snip-bits of Muslim culture. I love that she’s strong and clearly her own person. She’s a comic book nerd and a gamer. And how many superheroes are those things? How many teen girls in books, movies, tv, etc are those things period?
The romance side stories made this a fun volume. I liked that Kamala finally had a crush of her own. And I love that she was able to make up her own mind about him. It was interesting and sad watching her learn that more and more people aren’t who they say they are. And it’s so nice seeing her friendships evolve with other side characters too. It wasn’t all about the romance. The fights with the new super powers in town were interesting too. How many of them are there? I have so many questions.
These comics are smart, funny, brave, and addictive. And I can’t wait for future installments. This was the most entertaining one yet, if not my favorite. I give it a 9/10.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Jesse's Girl by Miranda Kenneally

Summary (from Goodreads):
Everyone at Hundred Oaks High knows that career mentoring day is a joke. So when Maya Henry said she wanted to be a rock star, she never imagined she’d get to shadow *the* Jesse Scott, Nashville’s teen idol.

But spending the day with Jesse is far from a dream come true. He’s as gorgeous as his music, but seeing all that he’s accomplished is just a reminder of everything Maya’s lost: her trust, her boyfriend, their band, and any chance to play the music she craves. Not to mention that Jesse’s pushy and opinionated. He made it on his own, and he thinks Maya’s playing back up to other people’s dreams. Does she have what it takes to follow her heart—and go solo?
This wasn’t my favorite Kenneally book, and I knew it wouldn’t be. But, it was still so magically addicting and fun, how could I not love it? I knew it wouldn’t be my favorite because it was a celebrity YA romance. Those are almost always too cheesy for me. And I loved that Kenneally had this whole girl power athlete thing going for her past books. I wasn’t as excited for another girl singer romance. It just wasn’t as unique as the others.
That being said, I still loved this typical YA celebrity romance story. I love that it all started with the high school’s shadow day. Who’d ever imagine spending a shadow day with a country star? And I loved that Maya was so willing to make the most of it even though she’s not into country music. She still has so much to learn and she knows she can benefit from learning from a pro in the field.
I even ate up the romance. I could tell right away that she and Jesse had tons in common. They both were so afraid of repeating past mistakes. They were both so afraid to trust the other and it was fun watching them learn that they could.
Maya wasn’t my favorite main character. She was so afraid to sing because of her flaws. She was so afraid to sing by herself. And I guess I’ve gotten used to Kenneally’s girls being a little bit braver to start. Maya does grow to be braver by the end, but she still never felt as strong as past characters to me. And I guess I need my main characters to have a little more confidence in themselves.
One of the best things about this book was you got to see Jordan and Sam! They’re bickering and living together and there’s all this talk about a future proposal. They’re in the background of Maya’s story because Sam is Maya’s big brother. My face would light up though every time they entered a scene. I loved the sense of family, in general, in this book. You see the good. And you see the bad. And most important, you see all the struggles each member goes through to help the others.
All in all, this wasn’t my favorite by the author. I still ate it up in practically one sitting. It was very much like a lot of other teen celebrity romances. However, the cuteness and fun of all Kenneally books shone through. Plus, Jordan and Sam were there! I give it an 8/10.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan and read by Joshua Swanson

Summary (from Goodreads):
Annabeth is terrified. Just when she's about to be reunited with Percy—after six months of being apart, thanks to Hera—it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. As Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the "Argo II, " she can't blame the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon figurehead, Leo's fantastical creation doesn't appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace.

And that's only one of her worries. In her pocket, Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving command: "Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge me. "Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will send seven demigods on a quest to find—and close—the Doors of Death. What more does Athena want from her?

Annabeth's biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he's now attached to Roman ways? Does he still need his old friends? As the daughter of the goddess of war and wisdom, Annabeth knows she was born to be a leader—but never again does she want to be without Seaweed Brain by her side.
Yes, a book that centers on Annabeth! Yes!
So, technically, the book is still about the seven (demigods) of the prophecy. And it was super amazing to see them all finally working together. After two books of the separate demigods going on separate adventures, it was so much fun to see them all finally interact with each other. But really, I was most excited about Annabeth.
I loved the macho rivalry going on between Percy and Jason. There was so much top 3 competition going on between them, I kept waiting for one of them to get hurt. I also loved Leo’s connection to Hazel (though Leo is still my least favorite character and I was slightly bummed to have more time in his point of view). I also, of course, finally got to see my ship in action! Percy and Annabeth together again, and going on adventures. This was definitely one of the biggest highlights for me.
I loved all the chapters in Annabeth’s point of view. Her side mission to follow the mark of Athena was so scary and intense that I literally yelled out loud to my audiobook when her chapters went to a different character’s point of view. I could have easily read a whole Annabeth book. I liked that Percy knew to let her go on this mission alone. And I loved seeing him grow up a little more just by being around Annabeth so much.
There were still so many side adventures along the way. There’s a creepy aquarium in Atlanta with another son of Poseidon. There’s Hercules, who’s so not as cool as I was expecting him to be. There’s the horn of plenty. And there’s even help from the most unlikely of places: Mr. D. I missed some of the other characters from past books that weren’t here, like Mrs. O’Leary and Grover and Tyson, but I mostly see why the story stayed focused more on the seven.
The setting was also super fun, as always. When the group weren’t on the awesome dragon flying ship, escaping Roman fleets, they were making pit-stops at new US cities, and then finally making their way to Rome. It was fun comparing the Roman camp to Rome, itself. And I’m hoping the next book will have plenty of scenes in Greece. Riordan is so good at incorporating real-life places with the magical/mythological. This has become one of the things I look for in all his books. And I’m never disappointed.
I’m so ready to start House of Hades. This book had the worst cliffhanger yet. It was so good, I had to literally take a moment to silently give Riordan points. I literally said out loud, “And that is how a cliffhanger is done, folks.” Thank goodness the whole series is finished already and I don’t have to wait a year to dive into book 4. I give this book a 10/10. I think it’s my favorite so far. I can’t wait to keep going with the series.