Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Ghostly Echoes by william Ritter

Summary from Goodreads:
Jenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, has enlisted the investigative services of her fellow residents to solve a decade-old murder—her own. Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, Detective R. F. Jackaby, dive into the cold case, starting with a search for Jenny’s fiancĂ©, who went missing the night she died. But when a new, gruesome murder closely mirrors the events of ten years prior, Abigail and Jackaby realize that Jenny’s case isn’t so cold after all, and her killer may be far more dangerous than they suspected.

Fantasy and folklore mix with mad science as Abigail’s race to unravel the mystery leads her across the cold cobblestones of nineteenth-century New England, down to the mythical underworld, and deep into her colleagues’ grim histories to battle the most deadly foe she has ever faced.
I wish I could put this book in more people’s hands. Seriously, these books are so amazingly good. Every time a new installment comes out, it’s like getting a free dessert added to your already excellent meal at your favorite restaurant.
I loved this book possibly even more than the first two. This is the book where I really got to see more deeply into the masterful craft that is William Ritter. The other installments could almost have worked as stand-alones because they were each separate stories. This book weaved together elements from the past two books in a way I was not expecting. And Ritter must have planned a lot from the beginning.
I loved getting to know Jenny more. And there was the added bonus of getting to know the mysterious Jackaby more too. I learned a little of his childhood. He even brought up his parents! Add this to the fact that Jenny’s murder is kind of connected to everything. Oh, and Abigail literally gets to journey to the underworld! What? How did one of my favorite fantasy tropes end up in this historic/paranormal mystery? Because this book is nuts in all the best of ways.
Also, there are new mythological creatures, new characters, new enemies, and new friends. A certain police werewolf comes to help. And there is a lot to learn about possessions, power, “seeing,” and machines. Is this novel missing anything awesome? If it is, it’s only because the dinosaur dig was in the book before.
I loved the story, the mystery, the historic New England setting, and the humor. I love the back and forth camaraderie Jackaby still has with Abigail. I love watching Abigail become stronger and stronger, and grow further into her role of investigator. And I’m so glad I finally learned what happened to Jenny and her finace. So much happens in this book. My only complaint is I want more.
The next book is setup to be really interesting, and will involve our favorite characters basically needing to save the world. And it’s all connected to the first two books. What a fun, well written, witty mystery! I can’t recommend it enough. I give it a 10/10.

Monday, September 26, 2016

A Good Week in Books (142) - The Boston Teen Author Festival Edition

I had a great book week. I finished 3 great books. But, also, I attended the Boston Teen Author Festival. It was the first time I made it to the festival (aka: the first time I wasn’t working that Saturday)! It was free and open to the public, thanks in large part to the Cambridge Public Library, which was a very cool place.
Basically, it opened with one, giant panel (of 35 YA authors). And from there, attendees were invited to purchase books by the authors. And then followed a day of panels, and a giant 2-hour signing session. I purchased 3 new books to be signed and I brought along 6 books from home to also be signed. I am so lucky to have such supportive friends because my two friends, who came with, took some of my books to get signed for me. Friends who support my YA obsession are the best friends out there.  I’m fairly sure I would not have been able to get them all signed otherwise. And I stayed in the lines of the authors I was excited to meet in person (pretty much the ones I hadn’t met before).
The panels were also super amazing. They are the panels I wished existed at BEA. Any way, we first went to one called “OMG There’s a Body in my Book: Writing Killer Mysteries” with authors: Brittany Cavallaro, Rebecca Podos, and Kim Savage. What a fun panel! Brittany Cavallaro is so cool, I wish I was friends with her. Then my friends and I had a yummy lunch outside at a fantastic Korean food truck, where we kind of made friends with the authors of the next panel, or at least talked about Korean foods for like 10 minutes with them.
We went back in for the panel called “Choose-Your-Own-Family Adventure” with Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, Melissa Landers, Kate Scelza, and Jeff Zetner. Basically, if I have not read their books, now I need to like mad. They had such amazing stories to tell. The last panel we attended before the signing began was: “The Journey Toward Mental Health” with Kathryn Holmes, Emery Lord, Natasha Sinel, and Francisco X. Stork. That one was really insightful, and I think ended helping me out with the editing process of something I worked on last year.
All in all, it was an inspiring, fun-filled day. My friends and I ended the day in Plymouth, where we met up with my boyfriend and had a nice fall bonfire. Seriously, what a good day!
The books I took with me to be signed:

A Study in Charlotte
by Brittany Cavallaro
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa
Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
The Archived by Victoria Schwab
Starflight by Melissa Landers
The new books I got signed:

A Darker Shade of Magic
by V.E. Schwab
Compulsion by Martina Boone
A World Without You by Beth Revis

How was your week in books?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (203)

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 Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton (3/7/17):

Description on Goodreads:
The sizzling, un-put-downable sequel to the bestselling Rebel of the Sands!

Mere months ago, gunslinger Amani al'Hiza fled her dead-end hometown on the back of a mythical horse with the mysterious foreigner Jin, seeking only her own freedom. Now she's fighting to liberate the entire desert nation of Miraji from a bloodthirsty sultan who slew his own father to capture the throne.

When Amani finds herself thrust into the epicenter of the regime—the Sultan's palace—she's determined to bring the tyrant down. Desperate to uncover the Sultan's secrets by spying on his court, she tries to forget that Jin disappeared just as she was getting closest to him, and that she's a prisoner of the enemy. But the longer she remains, the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she's been told he is, and who’s the real traitor to her sun-bleached, magic-filled homeland.

Forget everything you thought you knew about Miraji, about the rebellion, about djinni and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In Traitor to the Throne, the only certainty is that everything will change.
Why I’m Waiting:
Yay! I’m so excited to know the sequel is coming soon! I adored the first book in this series. I love fantasy books with desert settings. And the first one was such a good fantasy. I have to admit that I will need to brush up on that first one again though before starting the sequel, because the names don’t sound familiar to me any more. I just know that I loved it. And the cover is so pretty. I cannot wait.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Summary on Goodreads:
This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.
I’m getting a little tired of YA dystopias. That being said, I knew going into this, what this was. I wasn’t expecting it to all of a sudden shift into a sci-fi novel. Based off the description, I knew it would be formulaic. I wasn’t expecting to love it. Mostly, I was feeling like I was in a dystopia type mood. I needed something that wasn’t fantasy or contemporary, and this just felt like the right book at the right time. I was right.
I ended up liking this one a lot more than I was even anticipating. It turns out that I need a good dystopia every now and then –something dark and fast paced. It was hard to put the book down. I found myself running late to things because I’d want to finish a chapter and then another one. It was a compelling story.  And I never felt like putting it down.
The formula of the plot of this novel though was very familiar. There’s a chosen girl type trope. There’s a revolution brewing. There’s a love triangle/square. And there’s the girl who will spark the change for everything. I kind of called all the twists and surprises from the beginning because this is a formula I know very well. This is both a good and a bad thing. Bad, because I prefer to be surprised. But, good, because I kind of was craving a formulaic story like that after the destruction of my emotions from the previous book I had read. Sometimes, I need something I can easily swallow after a tougher/more emotionally intense book. It eased my pallet, so to speak.
That being said, I’m not sure I would have enjoyed this as much if I weren’t treating it as a YA pallet cleansers of sorts. It was really just the right book at the right time kind of scenario.
None of the characters particularly stood out for me. The bad guys were the typical bad guys. The main character was interesting, but I never felt super connected to her. Besides her being a great thief, there wasn’t a lot of back-story to her character. It was all about her learning to be an upper class silver blood. And I kind of didn’t care about all that stuff too much because I didn’t really get to see her as a poor red blood for very long.
The world was interesting, but I have seen similar worlds before in many dystopias. Generally though, I’m used to seeing the characters with abilities and supernatural powers being treated poorly and the regular humans taking charge (like in X-Men). So, the reversal of that was interesting. In this world, those with super powers were in charge. And, I guess this made a lot of sense to me.
All in all this was an okay book that I liked a lot more than I was expecting to. I read it at the right moment. It cured a book hang over from a much better, yet more emotionally devastating book. It served its purpose. I’m not sure how inclined I am to read the sequel. Though, I loved the fast paced action. I give this one 7/10.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (202)

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 Caraval by Stephanie Garber (1/31/17):

Description on Goodreads:
Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their ruthless father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the legendary, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

Then, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation to Caraval finally arrives. So, Tella enlists a mysterious sailor’s help to whisk Scarlett away to this year’s show. But as soon as the trio arrives, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nonetheless soon becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with her sister, with Legend, and with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.
Why I’m Waiting:
This sounds awesome. What a magical, dramatic, and romantic sounding story. I like the idea of it being about one sister rescuing the other. I also like the sound of the Caraval setting. I want to know more about how the game is played and why someone is invited in the first place. I can’t wait for January to come, so I can read this.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Summary from Goodreads:
The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those don't.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin's journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?
Agghhh, this book! It seemed to take forever to get here. But once it did, all the magic happened. All the magic. I’m so happy to say that I was not disappointed. Sarah J. Maas is a master storyteller. The wait was well worth it. I devoured this book.
That being said, if you have not read it yet: prepare for some extreme toying with your emotions. I went from being ecstatic one moment, to desperately on edge the next. And then when I finally think there is hope, all hope is ripped to shreds. Aelin is full of surprises. And the plot is loaded with twists and turns. Maas seriously knows how to mess with your emotions, and all emotions will be felt at some point. There were at least 2 moments, when my draw literally dropped in shock.
So many things happen that I had been anxiously waiting for. Finally. I’m not sure I should say what they are because I do not want to spoil a single thing. Just know that between all the adventure, magic, wyverns, witches, battles, pirates, sea monsters, magic keys and magic locks, enemies, and doom, there was also some blessed moments of much anticipated happiness. All so many pieces of the puzzle come to fit together. Characters that had been separate for the whole series, are now finally teaming up.
A lot of questions were answered as well. Some much needed background on all the evil things was finally hashed out. And I find that element a little confusing. Maybe I need to go re-read from the beginning. Actually, I think that is a grand idea. I will probably do that over the winter…
I think my favorite moments (besides the steamy romantic ones) were the ones with Aelin and Manon in the same room. Then when a third strong female character (from Aelin’s past) enters the picture, it’s like all the characters I could ever want to star in a good book came knocking on my door. Seriously, I wish they had more time to bicker together. I loved them. I want more of them. Can we have a book of that?
The book did start off a little slowly. Just a little. And there were some definite cheesy parts. Like, while I ship characters as much as the next girl, I still find it a little too much when all the characters are coupled off like they kind of were in this installment. Like what are the real chances they’d all find their soul mates? I do like that the characters almost never stay with the first person they fall in love with, but, come on…
One of the past characters Aelin was in love with that I kind of grew to hate, was thankfully not in this book at all. Happy day for me. I was kind of worried about when he’d enter the picture, and then I was pleasantly surprised that he never did.
It’s hard reviewing this book because like I said, I don’t want to spoil things for anyone. This deserves fresh eyes. Just know that it was amazing, fast paced, full of action, full of surprise twists, full of romance, and chock-full of pain. I’m in painful need of the next installment immediately. It definitely had the worst cliffhanger so far. A cliffhanger that has your heart ripped to shreds and oxygen low. I need to know what happens next, so I can breathe again. All in all, I loved it. I give it a 10/10. I seriously hope Maas never stops writing.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty and read by Cassandra Campbell

Summary from Goodreads:
“Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there, and they will ensnare your soul.”

Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of the Biltmore estate. There’s plenty to explore in her grand home, although she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists; she and her pa, the estate’s maintenance man, have secretly lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember.

But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is: a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore’s corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of the Biltmore’s owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak’s true identity . . . before all of the children vanish one by one.

Serafina’s hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic, one that is bound to her own identity. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must seek the answers that will unlock the puzzle of her past.
Middlegrade books are really tightening up the competition with YA. Seriously, if all middlegrade books read like this one, I would not be reading as much YA as I do. This was fun and addicting. The magnificent narrator helped too. I need to see what other books she has narrated. I’m hoping she narrates the sequel.
I was not expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did. The one hard thing about my little summer vacation and having my mom up for two weeks, was having to take a major pause in my audio book listening. I missed Serafina and I wanted to know who the man with the black cloak was just as much as she did.
This had an almost classic fairytale type vibe. The forrest played this dark, menacing roll in the story. It also helped blur the lines between good and evil. Not everything in the forest is bad. The mansion made for a super exciting setting also. I loved how well Serafina knew the house, despite her only being to visit everything in secret. I felt like I was there, exploring it all wither her.
I also loved Serafina. She was strong, brave, and smart. She always seemed to figure out the problems before anyone else did. I loved that she respected the wishes of her father, but also knew when she had to be a little rebellious. I love that her sad story that her father eventually tells her, doesn’t destroy her. If anything, she becomes stronger from it. I loved her relationship with her father. Everything he risked for her seriously melted my heart in a way it hasn’t melted in a long time. I love her pa. I really do.
The mystery of the disappearing children, and the creepy black cloak also made this a story that was hard to stop listening to. I needed to know what was happening. I loved that the author wasn’t too afraid to have things happen to kids in this book. It was eerily dark.
Yet at the same time, the one thing I was not a big fan of was the ending. It was too good, too fluffy, and too happy for me. I get that this is a children’s book. But, still. The other excellent Middle grade book I read recently ended with the death of a great character. This ending just didn’t sit well with me. It didn’t fit with the rest of the book’s darkness and gothic atmosphere. Though, I’m happy for Serafina. She certainly deserves all the answers and solutions she received. I just wish getting all that fit better with the dark story. I still give this book a 9/10. I ate it up. I can’t wait to get started on book 2.