Monday, September 25, 2017

A Good Week in Books (171) - Boston Teen Author Festival 2017 edition

I had an awesome book week. I only finished one book this week, but it was an amazing one. I’m getting close to finishing my audio book, but it moves at a kind of slower pace. I received 5 new books for review thanks to Macmillan! And oh man, I’m super excited to read these. I also attended the Boston Teen Author Festival again! That was unbelievably fun.
I brought 4 books with me to get signed. And I purchased 4 new books there, to also have signed…I told myself I was only going to buy 2…I think I did a good job win impulse control, especially considering that the conference had a lot more people in attendance and I don’t think I could have gotten any more signed than I did because of time. I did see some other YA sisters buying books by the box-load. Also, major shout-out to one my coolest besties: Meghan! She brought one book to get signed and then waited almost the whole rest of the allotted signing time in line for Leigh Bardugo –to get two books signed for me. She is the best!
I went to one big panel with all the authors (at least 40 of them). Then I went to 3 different panels through out the day. And the whole thing ended with all of the signings. My panels: “Out of Character” with Leigh Bardugo, Kerri Maniscalco, Ashley Poston, and Jason Reynolds, “Through the Ages” with Mackenzi Lee, Katherine Locke, S.M. Parker, and Mitali Perkins, and “Tropes on You” with Susan Dennard, Elizabeth Eulberg, Sandhya Menon, and Brendan Reichs.
The books:
Pile 1 (The ones I brought to get signed)

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera
Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Pile 2 (books purchased at festival and all signed) and Pile 3 (books I received for review this week)

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
by Benjamin Elire Saenz
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds
The Reader by Traci Chee
Wonder Woman Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
+ The Language of Thorns promotional sampler
The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
You bring the distant Near by Mitali Perkins
The Night Garden by Polly Horvath
Spinning by Tillie Walden
The 40+ authors in attendance (aka: big panel):

The small “Out of Character” panel:

Some super fun swag (including love letters from book boyfriends -both of mine were from Sarah J Maas books!)

Meghan and me enjoying the day:

How was your week in books?

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Swing it, Sunny by Jennifer L Holm and Matthew Holm

Summary from Goodreads:
Summer's over and it's time for Sunny Lewin to enter the strange and unfriendly hallways of . . . middle school. When her Gramps calls her from Florida to ask how she's doing, she always tells him she's fine. But the truth? Sunny is NOT having the best time.

Not only is the whole middle school thing confusing . . . but life at home is confusing, too. Sunny misses her brother Dale, who's been sent to boarding school. But when Dale comes back, she STILL misses him . . . because he's changed.

Luckily Sunny's got her best friend and a mysterious new neighbor on her side . . . because she is NOT going let all this confusion get her down. Instead, she's going to remain Sunny-side up!
I’m not quite sure why I’m so surprised to have loved this. I loved the first one. But, I guess I had to re-remember why I loved Sunny Side Up. As a Youth Services librarian, I’m so used to seeing these authors on the names of other popular graphic novels like Baby Mouse, and I think I become a little immune to their greatness because I’m surrounded in their popularity. I must have remembered something right though because I checked this book out pretty much as soon as I finished processing it.
I also read it in one sitting (in about an hour!)  And like with the first book in the series, I was sad that it ended. I could have kept reading more and more pages in this character’s point of view. And it’s not like a lot happens plot-wise. It’s mostly just about Sunny living her day to day life, with all the troubles of her brother in the background.
Like with the first book, I connected to this story on a personal level because of a similar experience with my oldest brother. I missed seeing the grandpa around. Though, I’m glad he visits for a while and has a special relationship with Sunny now. (Sunny spent all of book 1 staying with him at his retirement community in Florida). I also missed Sunny’s friend from book 1. Though, I loved seeing that she still reads comics!
It was also fun seeing her with her best friend, and seeing the impact television stories had on her also. It’s hard to imagine kids watching that much tv when there’s only 4 channels. I liked watching Sunny make friends with her new neighbor and I liked watching her handle the holidays with her brother who was just so angry.
I think the best part of this book though was subtle. It’s only in the day to day things that one can really see how something big (like a brother being sent of to military school) can impact everything. It’s always there for Sunny. And it’s always there for her parents. I love the scene where mother and daughter break down together in her room and talk about missing him and not knowing if what they’re doing is right, but needing to do something. It made her mom seem so real and so human. And it shows that parents aren’t perfect and they’re just trying things as best they can, like the rest of us.
Sadly, I do think this is a story that a lot of people can relate to. And sometimes you really just need to read about this happening to someone else to know that you’re not alone. I see this book doing that for a lot of people. It’s also so gorgeous to look at. The artwork is young, bright, and bold and makes the book move at a quick pace. I love the art almost as much as the story. I give this one a 9/10.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (238)

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:  Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (3/13/2018):

Decription on Goodreads:
Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they'll find seven months after the invasion?

Meanwhile, Kady's cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza's ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha's past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heros will fall, and hearts will be broken.
Why I’m Waiting:
I absolutely loved Illuminae. The second book wasn’t quite as good. But, the creative way the story is told continues, and I can’t wait to see how the authors end it all. I know this book will be filled with creative ways to tell the story. And I know it will be action-packed and filled with drama. I can’t wait. Also, how cool is the cover? I’m so happy it stayed consistent with past covers.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Dire King by William Ritter

Summary from Goodreads:
The fate of the world is in the hands of detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby and his intrepid assistant, Abigail Rook. An evil king is turning ancient tensions into modern strife, using a blend of magic and technology to push Earth and the Otherworld into a mortal competition. Jackaby and Abigail are caught in the middle as they continue to solve the daily mysteries of New Fiddleham, New England — like who’s created the rend between the worlds, how to close it, and why zombies are appearing around. At the same time, the romance between Abigail and the shape-shifting police detective Charlie Cane deepens, and Jackaby’s resistance to his feelings for 926 Augur Lane’s ghostly lady, Jenny, begins to give way. Before the four can think about their own futures, they will have to defeat an evil that wants to destroy the future altogether.
I’m so sad that there will be no more Jackaby books. This honestly reads like one of those series that could go and on in many books. I’m not saying that just because I enjoy them. There are some great books that just seem to feel like they truly end with book 3. This is just such an interesting story, such an interesting world, and there are still so many unanswered questions and little un-explored niches I’d like to see. I feel like it would make for a wonderful series on Netflix or PBS. Really, people, someone needs to pick this up.
That being said, I feel like this book was my least favorite in the series. The over-arcing mystery of this one was too much about fairies. And while I love a good dark fairy re-telling, I was kind of hoping for something different here. Past novels have always had dark, supernatural creatures and characters, and I’ve come to seriously love how different they are. So, reverting to this fairy rift as the backdrop for it all was kind of disappointing for me because I’ve seen that before.
However, the author was able to connect the dots. The over-arcing fairy rift was able to explain a few of my unanswered questions about things like a certain duck character. I also learned a little more about seers and supernatural creatures in general. I loved all the scenes where Jackaby’s house was being used as a hideout for all the supernatural folk of new Fiddleham. Some of my favorite moments happened there.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I liked the other books better because they were more personal and smaller scale. I liked getting to know each of the side characters. This was almost too big –saving the world kind of big. And while I normally love stories that result in saving the world, here I felt like it almost took away from the personal charm the rest of the series had going for it. That, and it read like the author was almost trying to force the ending on a story that is not quite there yet. It’s not usually good when you can tell how hard an author is working to make something seem final. There’s still so much left open and unexplored.
This book also played at my heartstrings a bit. I had tears in my eyes one moment, and bursts of laughter the next. I really have grown to love these characters. And there also were a few surprises in this one for me. I liked being surprised. And I loved the very end of the book. I almost didn’t read the end of the book though. It ended in the part marked “supplemental material.” And after the sadness of what I assumed was the end (in the last real chapter), I almost couldn’t bring myself to read the supplemental material part. I’m glad I did though because otherwise I would not have gotten the happier ending I was hoping for…Do not skip this section, people! Also, why would the publisher let that happen? I bet there’s a lot of readers who won’t read it and won’t get the real ending….
Any way, all in all, I loved this series. It’s as the blurb says “Sherlock Holmes crossed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” The characters and the setting make these books un-put-down-able. The small town murder mysteries are usually very personable and interesting. I’m kind of wishing this last installment was less large-scale and more like the earlier books. I also wish this wasn’t the end and that the author didn’t try to make this the end so hard. I give this last book an 8/10 (though I’d give the whole series a 9).

Monday, September 18, 2017

A Good Week in Books (170)

I had a nice, little book week. I finished reading a supernatural mystery (and final book to a series). I finished a new middle grade graphic novel. I received 2 new books for review (big thanks to Macmillan!). One of the books though is for a book I already have an ARC for and reviewed. So, I might have to do a giveaway soon. I also purchased 2 books. The first, is a book I got from the library and I know will be one of my all time favorite books now and will need to be re-read many times over. It’s not in the photo with the other books because my boyfriend currently has it with him…and he’s almost done reading! I love when we read the same books. And the other book I purchased because so many people and reviews make it sound amazing and I thought it was time.
The new books:

by Pam Smy
Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan (this is the new favorite!)
How was your week in books?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Serafina and the Splintered Heart by Robert Beatty and read by Cassandra Campbell

Summary from Goodreads:
The storms are coming....

Something has happened to Serafina. She has awoken into a darkness she does not understand, scarred from a terrible battle, only to find that life at Biltmore Estate has changed in unimaginable ways. Old friends do unthinkable things and enemies seem all around.

A mysterious threat moves towards Biltmore, a force without a name, bringing with it violent storms and flooding that stands to uproot everything in its path. Serafina must uncover the truth about what has happened to her and find a way to harness her strange new powers before it's too late.

With only days to achieve the impossible, Serafina fights to reclaim herself as the Guardian of Biltmore, friend of Braeden, daughter of her Pa, and heroine of the Blue Ridge Mountains and all the folk and creatures that call it home.

In the epic third installment of Robert Beatty's #1 bestselling series, Serafina takes her rightful place among literary champions as she battles fiercely to defend all she loves and become everything that she is meant to be.
Now this is how a series is supposed to be end! First off, this series has zero to no hype that I have seen, and it is amazing. Why haven’t more people read this? Amazing characters, unique and dark setting, little bits of magic, fantastical creatures, and wow, I already want to re-read them all.
This book had such an amazing beginning. I’ve never read a middle grade book to open like this. It literally started on the first page with the main character coming to, in a coffin, buried six feet under ground! It was terrifying. I knew she’d have to make it out of there –being the main character and all. But, still. This book was intense. And it only got more intense from there.
I love how there was a strong focus on the different pieces of Serafina: her cat self, her human self, and her soul. I also loved watching Serafina continue to fight past some insanely terrifying obstacles. She out-smarted some crazy dark stuff. And her family and friends stood by her the whole time. The sense of family in these books is also great: they are the people you eat with, who you tell everything to, who you’d risk your life for. Serafina has made her own family and I was just excited to catch up with them, as I was to hear what was going to happen next in the extremely suspenseful plot.
I also loved the closure. The author seriously tied up all the loose ends and tiny questions I may have had from 2 books ago. Stuff is resolved with Rowena, with Serafina’s father, with her cat family, and with Waysa (not sure on spelling because I’ve only done this on audio).  I do kind of wish something could have been alluded to about a certain romantic relationship, but I get that this is middle grade. Still, I had a ship…
All in all though, this was a fabulous ending to a remearkable series. The audio book reader, Cassandra Campbell is nothing short of magical. And I highly recommend this one for audio book fans. I also highly recommend this one to fantasy and magic fans. This was a fun ride. And it was super hard having my mom visit for 2 weeks and have to pause my car listening for so long! I give this a 10/10.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (237)

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:  Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (2/27/2018):

Description from Goodreads:
Meet Tess, a brave new heroine from beloved epic fantasy author Rachel Hartman.

In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons get to be whomever they want. Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can't make a scene at your sister's wedding and break a relative's nose with one punch (no matter how pompous he is) and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess yanks on her boots and sets out on a journey across the Southlands, alone and pretending to be a boy.

Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it's a stroke of luck. This friend is a quigutl--a subspecies of dragon--who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess is guarding a troubling secret. Her tumultuous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she's tried to forget threaten to expose her to the world in more ways than one.

Returning to the fascinating world she created in the award-winning and New York Times bestselling Seraphina, Rachel Hartman introduces readers to a new character and a new quest, pushing the boundaries of genre once again in this wholly original fantasy.
Why I’m Waiting:
I loved Seraphina. I actually never read the sequel, but I think I will some time soon. I’d need to re-read book 1 first. Any way, I remember it being an amazingly interesting world, with an awesome kick-butt girl main character. This new book sounds to be kind of similar. Plus, dragons! Plus, I love stories where the girl dresses as a boy. And, that cover! I can’t wait to get my hands on this book.
What are you waiting on this week?