Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (136)

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 Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti (9/29/15):

Description on Goodreads:
Ethan, aka "Scam", has a way with words. When he opens his mouth, whatever he wants you to hear comes out. But Ethan isn't just a smooth talker. He has a unique ability to say things he doesn't consciously even know. Sometimes the voice helps, but sometimes it hurts - like now, when the voice has lied and has landed Ethan in a massive mess. So now Ethan needs help. And he needs to go to the last people who would ever want to help him - his former group of friends, the self-named "zeros" who also all possess similarly double-edged abilities, and who are all angry at Ethan for their own respective reasons. Brought back together by Scam's latest mischief, they find themselves entangled in an epic, whirlwind adventure packed with as much interpersonal drama as mind-bending action.
Why I’m Waiting:
Honestly, mostly, I’m waiting because it’s Scott Westerfeld. His last book, Afterworlds, was my favorite book of 2014. Also, I have loved all of his books. I’m interested to see how his collaboration with other authors will go. Also, the premise for the book sounds super good and super suspenseful. I love how Westerfeld writes friendships so I’m excited to read about why Scam’s friends are all so angry with him.
What are you waiting on this week?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Good Week in Books (104)

I had a light book week this week. However, it was a good one. There were two books I’d been wanting for some time for (though, one literally just came out), and I was having issues finding them at bookstores. One is in a way under-rated top notch YA mystery series. And the other is a book 1 in an Australian authored YA mystery/Sherlock Holmes remake series. It’s gotten amazing reviews from several of my favorite bloggers, and I need it. So, I ordered myself these two lovelies this week:

The Agency: Rivals in the City
by Y.S. Lee
Every Breath by Ellie Marney
How was your week in books?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Until I Die by Amy Plum

Summary (from Goodreads)
Kate and Vincent have overcome the odds and at last they are together in Paris, the city of lights and love.

As their romance deepens there’s one question they can’t ignore: How are they supposed to be together if Vincent can’t resist sacrificing himself to save others? Although Vincent promises that he’ll do whatever it takes to lead a normal life with Kate, will that mean letting innocent people die? When a new and surprising enemy reveals itself, Kate realizes that even more may be at stake—and that Vincent’s immortality is in jeopardy.

In Die for Me, Amy Plum created a captivating paranormal mythology with immortal revenants and a lush Paris setting. Until I Die is poised to thrill readers with more heart-pounding suspense, spellbinding romance, and a cliff-hanger ending that will leave them desperate for the third and final novel in the series.
Sadly, I did not like this one as much as the first installment. I brought only paperbacks along with me on my Paris vacation. And I was super hoping to read this one in Paris, maybe at a cafĂ© because well, the books take place in Paris and so many cafes are mentioned in it. Alas, I did not get to the book until my flight home from Paris. I didn’t get much reading accomplished on this vacation, believe it or not. I blame it all on the walking and how much it exhausted me by the end of the day, when I’d normally read.
Any way, maybe the combination of tight, uncomfortable quarters on the plane mixed with serious jet-lag didn’t help in my overall enjoyment…Also, I had trouble remembering some of the side characters. Maybe it’s been too long since I read the first book. What I’m getting at is that it took me a week (after getting home) to actually finish the book. It moved at a much slower pace.
I did enjoy all the Parisian references in a new way. I knew about the museums and neighborhoods mentioned! And I certainly had no trouble imagining the setting at all. I also still connected to the main character’s sense of loss. She’d moved to her grandparents in France after losing both her parents. And I like that this loss and sadness never goes away when the story doesn’t call for it. The fact that this is in the background the whole time makes the author win points in my book, because this is so adequate and true.
I guess besides the overall slowness (and lack of action until the ending chapters), I just wasn’t feeling the romance. And the romance was a major component of the book. There was a lot of mushy, repetitive commentary about the two love birds changing each other’s lives and completing each other. But there wasn’t really any interesting conversations between them. Their dates were fun, but I just felt like all the good relationship stuff was skipped over. And I never really saw why they loved each other; I just got lots of exclamations about that love.
I find the whole idea of the immortal revenants to be fascinating. I enjoyed meeting more of them in this story, and getting to see more of this world. There was also a little French history and mythology thrown in that made things interesting.
I enjoyed the setting, the new characters, the history, and the concept of this book. I just wished for more to happen. And I wished the romance was less cliché/ cheesy and more real. Also, what a cliffhanger. I will definitely at some point need to get my hands on the last book because well, there are things I need to know! I give it a 7/10.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

Summary (from Goodreads):
More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.

As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students learn the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing—kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery—one that will change Rithmatics—and their world—forever.
What an awesome story! It always takes me a little longer to read a Sanderson book than it would for me to read something else. I thought I could attribute this to some slow beginnings. But, I like these considerably slow beginnings. I think it’s more that the author heavily focuses on world-building. And I wow, the world-building…I literally always feel like I can see these crazy universes Sanderson creates. And this one was no exception.
Sanderson creates this whole concept of chosen people who train to animate their chalk drawings. Then there’s the defense mechanisms, the circles, and the political strategy involved. Also, each chapter begins with a different example of a drawing –which definitely aided in my understanding of the whole process.
Past the drawings comes the threat in Nebrask of wild chalklings (aka: drawings come to life, under no one’s control) becoming a threat. The Rithmatists are all studying so hard to be able to go help defend their country from such creatures. Then throw in the polical aspects of the school, of the police department, and of even the economy of this world, and well there weren’t a lot of details left out.
I also loved the main character. He wasn’t perfect. He needed to be taken down a notch or two. But, he saw that he needed to learn. And he learned form his mistakes. He also seriously helped one of my favorite other characters become a better person/rithmatist. Throw in a fantastic teacher (someone who reminded me of a more reserved older version of Professor Lupin), chalk battles, missing/possibly murdered students, police work, and mystery, and well you get the makings for something rather special. 
I was beyond immersed in this world. I read each minute detail of the chalk drawings. I was biting my nails wishing for the main character to be a rithmatist as much as he did. I was also surprised. There was a little twist in it that had me going, “Oh….”
 This was an extremely fun, interesting read. I recommend it to fantasy fans who don’t mind a lot of world-building. The characters are great. The mystery was just suspenseful enough. And the twist had me surprised. I’m starting to think I will need to read everything by this author. I give it a 10/10.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (135)

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 Winter by Marissa Meyer (11/10/15):

Description on Goodreads:
Here is the stunning conclusion to the national bestselling Lunar Chronicles, inspired by Snow White.

When Princess Winter was thirteen, the rumor around the Lunar court was that her glamour would soon be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana. In a fit of jealousy, Levana disfigured Winter. Four years later, Winter has sworn off the use of her glamour altogether. Despite her scars, Winter’s natural beauty, her grace, and her gentleness are winning admiration from the Lunar people that no amount of mind-control could achieve.

Winter despises her stepmother, but has never dreamed of standing up to her. That is, until she realizes that she may be the only one with the power to confront the queen.

Can Cinder, Prince Kai, Scarlet, Wolf, Cress, Thorne, Princess Winter, and the palace guard Jacin find their happily ever afters? Fans will LOVE this amazing conclusion to the series.

Why I’m Waiting:
I think the better question would be: why wouldn’t I be waiting? This series has been a remarkable success. With each new installment Meyer throws in more fairy tales, more action, more romance, and more charm. I have been nothing but pleasantly surprised at how amazing each book has been. I know this one has to be good. I’m excited to meet Winter (after her somewhat initial introduction in Fairest). I’m excited to hopefully see a certain villain finally get what’s coming. But, mostly, I’m just excited to reunite with old characters (aka: old friends). I need to know how it all ends! November is so far away.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Boy who Lost Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente

Summary (from Goodreads):

When a young troll named Hawthorn is stolen from Fairyland by the Golden Wind, he becomes a changeling – a human boy -- in the strange city of Chicago, a place no less bizarre and magical than Fairyland when seen through trollish eyes. Left with a human family, Hawthorn struggles with his troll nature and his changeling fate. But when he turns twelve, he stumbles upon a way back home, to a Fairyland much changed from the one he remembers. Hawthorn finds himself at the center of a changeling revolution--until he comes face to face with a beautiful young Scientiste with very big, very red assistant.

Time magazine has praised Catherynne M. Valente's Fairyland books as "one of the most extraordinary works of fantasy, for adults or children, published so far this century." In this fourth installment of her saga, Valente 's wisdom and wit will charm readers of all ages.

There is nothing else out there that comes remotely close to these books. Yes, there are plenty of books that deal with the land of fairies. However, none are written so masterfully, nor have such a remarkable narrator.
As even the narrator points out at one point, I was a tiny bit disappointed to be reading a book that was not about a certain other favorite main character of mine. However, I was told what would happen by the narrator later in the story, and this sort of got rid of all my guessing when she’d show up. Also, the new characters were pretty interesting as well.
I enjoyed getting some of the story in the ordinary human world. It was so sad to read about how furniture didn’t talk and creativity wasn’t always seen as impressive. I loved that the kids at Hawthorn’s school were impressed though. I love that the school became a political kingdom. And I loved making all the comparisons between the two worlds. It was also a story of changelings that I never heard before. I liked getting the respective of the other changeling, of the troll left to live with humans.
But more than anything, what stood out here, as in all the other books by this author, was the writing. It’s whimsical and over the top. Sometimes I’d laugh out loud, and at other moments I’d gasp in shock. Really, the writing so brilliant, I’d routinely pause in my reading, and go back to read certain passages out loud.  Passages like, ““English loves to stay out all night dancing with other languages, all decked out in sparkling prepositions and irregular verbs. It is unruly and will not obey—just when you think you have it in hand, it lets down its hair along with a hundred nonsensical exceptions.”
I give this book a 10/10. I recommend this series to anyone who enjoys exceptionally well written kids books.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A Good Week in Books (103)

Bonjour! I am back from my vacation. I had a wonderful vacation in Paris. I did not read as much on my vacation as I assumed I would. Mostly, I think the walking wore me out so much that I went right to bed at the end of the day (with no good, quality book time). On the plus side, my tired feet took me all over a beautiful city. Here are a few photos of me playing tourist:

I received a bunch of books for review, while I was gone. I also purchased two when I got home. And then there’s the books I purchased while in Paris (at the Shakespeare and Company bookstore). The first two in the pile come from Paris, and one of them is entirely blue! The second two were purchased here in Cape Cod. And the rest came courtesy of the wonderful Hachette and Macmillan. The little booklet on the side is a freebie I picked up from a comic book store in Paris. I believe it’s the first two chapters of The Inventor’s Secret by Andrea Cremer. It’s in French, so it’s a little hard for me to read.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell
Hold Me Closer by David Levithan
Love, Lucy by April Lindner
Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier
She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
Black Dove White Raven by Elizabeth Wein
The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre

How was your week in books?