Thursday, July 31, 2014

Series Giveaway (Everneath series by Brodi Ashton)

First, I have to say it: Happy Birthday, Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling! I’m actually throwing a Harry Potter Birthday Party today at my library, and I’m so excited.
In other news, I seriously need more shelf space (again). And I have a whole series to giveaway. One lucky winner will receive from me:

by Brodi Ashton
Everbound by Brodi Ashton
Evertrue by Brodi Ashton
This giveaway is just open to US Followers only. I’m shipping the books myself.  General rules apply. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email with their shipping address or I’ll have to randomly select a different winner.
Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (102)

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 Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black (9/9/14):

Description on Goodreads:
From NEW YORK TIMES bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a riveting new series that defies what you think you know about the world of magic.

From two bestselling superstars, a dazzling and magical middle-grade collaboration centering on the students of the Magisterium, an academy for those with a propensity toward magic. In this first book, a new student comes to the Magisterium against his will -- is it because he is destined to be a powerful magician, or is the truth more twisted than that? It's a journey that will thrill you, surprise you, and make you wonder about the clear-cut distinction usually made between good and evil.
Why I’m Waiting:
Two authors I love are writing a middle-grade fantasy series together about magic…I’m so in. I like that Cassandra Clare has fun with other writers (like with the Bane Chronicles). I’m interested in seeing how this combination of writing styles turns out with a book series (as compared to short stories), though I’m fairly certain it will be epic. Keep it coming, awesome YA writers. Keep it coming.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Inertia by Rebecca Schwartz

Summary (from Goodreads):
Rachel Simons just wants to graduate college and move on to an exciting biology career doing something very geeky. The only thing standing between her and her future is a required course: physics.

Weird happenings are going on in the physics department. Rachel’s physics professor Peter Parker, aptly nicknamed Spider-Man, has a strange document up on his computer when Rachel visits during his office hours.

Is Peter Parker really a superhero, and is there an arch enemy who’s trying to kill him - and maybe Rachel as well? Justin Borgstrom, Peter Parker’s assistant, has unwittingly dragged Rachel into the center of the conflict, and Rachel’s not sure she’ll live through the end of the semester, fend off Justin’s romantic advances, or ever pass physics.
The author, a friend of mine from college, sent me a copy and asked me to review her book on the blog. I am so excited to review this one. I saw or at least listened to a very early draft of this in college, and not only does this bring back the memories for me, but it also reinstates my need for more college series in general. I also wanted to buy a copy of the book, so when I saw it released in paperback, I bought a copy as well.
I love the main character. She’s so sure of herself and so intelligent. It’s nice having a main character interested in science. The girl knows her birds and her biology. Also, it’s nice to have a main character who embraces her geeky side. She’s a comic book reader. She also just picks up on things super quickly, and manages to use logic and deductive reasoning to get herself out of tough binds. On top of that, she doesn’t fall for guys who use women and won’t even consider crushing on guys who don’t consider females equal to themselves.
There’s an interesting cast of probable superheroes. And I’m not sure if I liked the actual story or the story Rachel makes up in her head more. Both were awesome. I liked how involved the teachers were. The small campus setting was entirely believable for me. Everyone knew each other and everyone seemed to always see everyone in the dining hall. I also connected to the snowstorm and the rural Vermont setting. But, that’s no surprise considering the author and I went to the same college (in upstate New York).
I didn’t always understand the relationship with the roommate. Sometimes I loved their witty back and forth banter. It was like watching a great episode of Gilmore Girls where the mother and daughter would quickly respond to each other in a way that just showed both how smart they were, and how close to each other they were. However, there were other times where I found myself skimming their lengthy dialog to get back to the mystery. I guess sometimes the dialog just felt too long. But, more than that I wanted to know the roommate better. How did this relationship happen? How come the girl (that some refer to as the ice princess) is so close to Melissa?
I loved the mystery. I had to know everything just as badly as Rachel did.  I liked that school was important and never seemed to be just the background of the story; it was actually part of the story. Though, I wonder if the campus will look into more security in future installments of this series.
Also, I’m glad that Rachel never made it easy for Justin. I loved all scenes with the two of them. Rachel was always honest about how she felt and Justin never seemed too taken aback by her honesty.
All in all this was a definite one-sitting read. I literally read it from beginning to end in one sitting. It was fun and addicting. I can’t wait to see what happens next now that a certain professor appears to have left the campus. What seriously makes this book great, apart from a setting any college student (past or present) can relate to, is the snarky, intelligent main character. I give it a 9/10.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

Summary (from Goodreads):
Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on 28 September 1330. Nearly seven hundred years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life. The records show that he died in 1418. But his tomb is empty and Nicholas Flamel lives. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects - the Book of Abraham the Mage. It's the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. And that's exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. Humankind won't know what's happening until it's too late. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it. Sometimes legends are true. And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time.
I was kind of hoping to like this book a little more than I did. I heard the author speak a while back, and he was fantastic. The premise of the book was awesome. And the amount of research, history, and mythology that leaked from the pages was rather amazing. I just wasn’t necessarily feeling the action scenes or the two main characters that well.
I wanted to like Sophie and Josh. I really did. Normally, I love twin main characters. I think my problem with them was that they were supposed to be teens. And while they were old enough to do things like drive (with an adult in the car) or work summer jobs at a cafĂ© and bookstore, so much of their personalities screamed 9 or 10 year-old to me. Their arguments, their jealousy, and their problem-solving all felt rather juvenile. And there were moments too when it wasn’t even that they sounded juvenile so much, as the author was really, really trying to sound youthful, and not quite pulling it off.
The adult characters were my favorites. How can you not like Nicholas Flamel? And of course his awesome, kick-butt wife who was throwing punches while imprisoned was pretty epic too. I even was fascinated by the bad guy (in a kind of Magneto way). There were some fantastical centuries old mythological creatures that were super interesting too. It’s the two sort of normal characters that were the ones lacking for me; the author seemed to be struggling with how to write teenagers and I almost wish they were children or adults instead.
The plot was also not as cool as I was expecting it to be. I liked the idea of ancient elders finding excuses to battle it out. I also found the prophecy with the twins to be kind of cool too. But, all the battles with birds and cats just seemed kind of comical to me. I feel like the writer wanted these scenes to be super suspenseful, but they came off rather silly. A lot of action felt like cartoon action and it was hard for me to take it seriously. Scary dinosaur creatures end up being friendly and communicative. There’s a super strong power that turns the mythical cat warriors into real cats…I just kind of kept smiling at that stuff, and not in a good way.
That being said, Michael Scott was able to draw in all kinds of mythology from all over the world, unique pieces of history, and plenty of good ideas that I know will need to be addressed later in the series. I was impressed by how much he was able to put into one book. And I was impressed by how well all the different pieces fit together. I do wish I cared more for the main characters. (Maybe I’d like Sophie and Josh more if they were either children or adults). I also wish some of the action scenes came off more seriously and suspenseful, as compared to comical. I give this one a 7/10.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

Summary (from Goodreads):

Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It's their getaway, their refuge. Rosie's friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose's mom and dad won't stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It's a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it's a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

In This One Summer two stellar creators redefine the teen graphic novel. Cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, the team behind Skim, have collaborated on this gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about a girl on the cusp of her teen age—a story of renewal and revelation.

So, I guess I’ve been on a bit of a graphic novel kick. If you’re someone who really appreciates the art of graphic novels, you’d love this one. It’s just beautiful. The artwork is just so honest and clear. People aren’t made to be perfect and crushes don’t look like prince charming; the whole thing just feels so authentic and most of that is because of the art.
The story was interesting too. There was this overlapping theme of babies. One main character is coming of age as young adult who was adopted. And it’s clear this adoption is fresh on her mind when comments are made about babies being given up for adoption. And the other main character has a depressed mother who miscarried her last chance at another child. The two girls (summer besties) are watching the slightly older teens in town go through a soap opera of sorts when the girlfriend of the boy Rose likes finds out he is a dad.
This book deals with some dark stuff. There’s teen pregnancy, depression, family arguments, first crushes, adoption, and more. There’s also some spot-on coming of age moments when kids go from cartoons to horror movies, from enjoying family outings, to being embarrassed at family outings, etc. The writers really understand that sort of in-between age where we don’t know if we’re kids or teens. And what better setting for such a story than a summer beach town?
The topics kind of reminded me of the old school Sarah Dessen books (though maybe with younger characters). And this brought back great summer reading memories. And I also connected with the setting because I live in a town like this beach town.  I of course hated Rose’s crush and wanted to tell the girls to have more fun being kids while they can. (I guess that makes me a true adult now…) The side characters were great too. I loved Windy’s grandmother and Rose’s aunt and how they both inadvertently affect these girls.
I do wish that maybe a little more happened in the story, plot-wise. It was definitely more of an emotional/character driven book than an action-packed story. And that’s okay. I did wish for just a tiny bit more though. However, I loved the art, the characters, the subjects, and the style. I give it a 9/10.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (101)

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 Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman (3/10/15):

Summary (from Goodreads):
The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.

As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?
Why I’m Waiting:
This cover is so, so pretty. Also, how awesome does this sequel sound? I do have to admit though that I kind of forgot about Seraphina. It came out a couple years ago, and this sequel will be published at least 3 years after the first. That’s a long time. And I think I’ll have to go and skim/re-read a little because it’s kind of too long ago and I don’t remember it that well. On the other hand, I remember being blown away by it and loving it, so there’s that. So if it’s anywhere close to as good as book 1, I know I’ll love it.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Evertrue by Brodi Ashton

Summary (from Goodreads):
Now that Nikki has rescued Jack, all she wants is to be with him and graduate high school. But Cole tricked Nikki into feeding off him, and she’s begun the process of turning into an Everliving herself... which means she must feed on a Forfeit soon — or die.

Terrified for her survival, Nikki and Jack begin a desperate attempt to reverse the process using any means possible. Even Cole, who they expected to fight them at every turn, has become an unlikely ally — but how long can it last? Nikki needs to feed on Cole to survive, Cole needs Nikki to gain the throne in the Everneath, Jack needs Nikki because she is everything to him — and together, they must travel back to the Underworld to undo Nikki’s fate and make her mortal once more. But Cole isn’t the only one with plans for Nikki: the Queen has not forgotten Nikki’s treachery, and she wants her destroyed for good. Will Nikki be forced to spend eternity in the Underworld, or does she have what it takes to bring down the Everneath once and for all?

In this stunning conclusion to the Everneath trilogy, Brodi Ashton evokes the resiliency of the human spirit and the indomitable power of true love.
So, this is a little harsh, but I kind of wish Ashton created a stand-alone with the first one. I loved book 1. I was blown away by the world-building, the incredibly unique take on a well known myth, and the depth of the characters. Book 2 was a little bit of a let-down. It seemed to be way more focused on the romance, then on the unique plot. And I think my major disappointment in it, thinking back now, is that Nikki finally got a chance to be the hero and do the rescuing of her soul mate –but she was kind of weak, and not hero enough for me.
Then this book happens, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to read it. But, book 2 had a great ending. An ending that seriously led me to believe that Nikki was actually ready to be more than her normal, rather subservient self. She was finally ready to take on the Everneath and all it entailed. However, yet another plot device comes to play that makes Nikki weak again…
Now, she’s becoming an Everliving, and is dependent on Cole (again) for survival. She literally needs to kiss Cole (the wrong end of the love triangle) every day to survive. And Jack (the right end of the love triangle) has to put up with it because he wants her alive long enough to defeat the Everneath. All these scenes made me physically roll my eyes.
I only now just realized what my biggest problem with the book is; I never ended up caring much for Nikki. There was nothing interesting about her since book 1. I had empathy for her in book 1 because of all the pain, death, and betrayal she went though. But without all the things to feel bad for her for, she’s not that interesting. She doesn’t seem to have any interests or hobbies and she doesn’t seem to care for much of anything but her boyfriend.
The other thing this book didn’t have going for it, were the a-typical plot devices. Cole lost his memories. Jack and Cole had a lot of testosterone flare ups. There were wanted posters of Cole and his band. Nikki and Jack (like in the other books) could always find Cole by easily going online and finding where his band was playing. There’s the convenient scholarly character who has bonus information about things he doesn’t even literally believe in. Also, if you’ve read the book, did anyone else not get the whole King-Sized bed incident???
On the other hand, I didn’t straight-out hate the book. I did finally get to see more details and more history of the Everneath. I found the Shade network to be fascinating. I found the queen to be super interesting. I even liked getting to know one of Cole’s closest friends.
I wish this last installment could have made Nikki stronger (and not as dependent on guys). I also wish that I liked Nikki more and that she had more to her than the boys in her life. I wish there was less love triangle romance and more story. And I wish the story wasn’t quite so familiar. I do give this author mad props for an excellent first book and some seriously amazing world-building. This last book and series just weren’t for me. I give it a 5/10.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Good Week in Books (80)

I had another great book week. I received one finished book for review (Thank you, Hyperion!). And I purchased two books. One is actually a book I already have an eBook version of, but it’s my friend’s book and as soon as I saw it available in paperback I ordered a copy. Rebecca, if you’re reading this, know that I am so proud of you! I’ll be reviewing your book soon.

Endless by Kate Brian
Inertia by Rebecca Schwartz
Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally
How was your week in books?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Panic by Lauren Oliver

Summary (from Goodreads):
Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.
This was another book that wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. I knew I’d be sucked right into Oliver’s writing. And I was. I guess I was picturing Panic to be more digital…I don’t know why. Nothing said that the game wouldn’t be as it was.
I read the book in one day. It was super suspenseful. It kind of read like a YA version of Fear Factor. The game, Panic, was sort of like the ultimate game of truth or dare, minus the truth aspect. And the teens participating had to do seriously dangerous, and scary things like break into the house of the known town drunk who shoots anyone and anything that happens upon his property. There’s guns, high heights, speeding cars, fires, and so many other adrenaline powered activities the teens have to do to stay in the running for the big cash prize. Not all the teen survive.
I found each scene that involved the game Panic to be nail-bitingly suspenseful. I had to know who would go on. I liked that the four main characters were all so different, though I kind of wished they weren’t all quite so screwed up. Dodge has a permanently injured sister, who’s in a wheelchair because of Panic. Heather has an addict mother and a little sister that depends upon her. Nat thinks she has to sell herself to become an actress. And Bishop has some mighty guilt for some seriously crazy stuff on his shoulders.
I like that this book has so many facets to it. It goes from Fear Factor to some serious topics. The book deals with teen homelessness, break-ups, drinking, and revenge. And each character brings their own elements to the story and the game. Sometimes it was hard to cheer one particular character on because I felt for them all –particularly Heather and Dodge.
I’m not quire sure I bought the whole everyone adding a dollar a day to the pot thing. Seriously, some of these characters were way under the poverty line. How were they adding a dollar a day to the Panic pot? Also, Heather and Bishop’s relationship kind of confused me. What happened Freshman year that was never addressed? And why did it take them so long? And why couldn’t Heather figure out something about Bishop that Dodge (the newest friend of the group) could?
All in all, the suspense in this one was killer. The characters were interesting. And I liked how each character brought something different to the overall game and story. I don’t think everything added up for me though. And I kind of wish there was more resolution for a certain main character’s actions. I give it an 8/10. And I’m looking forward to reading more of what Lauren Oliver has to say.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

Summary (from Goodreads):
In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with color once more?
In Brandon Sanderson's intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage - Allomancy, a magic of the metals.
So, this is kind of my second adult book reviewed this month! What is going on with me? However, there are two main characters in this book and one is a teenager. So, a lot of this kind of read like a really well put together, incredibly well written YA novel. Also, I had to review this; I just had to. It is probably going down as one of my all time favorite fantasies. Seriously, it is up there with Tamora Pierce, Kristina Cashore, and Mercedes Lackey. This book just blew me away!
Why haven’t more YA fans read this? Seriously, if you are a YA reader that likes fantasy at all, this is a must. A must. It was fantasy, but it was also kind of a dystopia, and kind of a super hero book. There’s an evil dictator that the main characters risk their lives to revolt against. There’s crazy, awesome super powers that revolve around metals. There’s some of the most outrageously awesome characters. There’s thieving crews, revenge missions, battles, balls, magic/metal training, prison escapes, betrayals, class battles, created religions, spying, murder, and pretty much all of anything that could possibly be adventurous and interesting.
I absolutely loved the relationship between the two main characters. And oh my goodness it was awesome to have the two main points of views not be between love interests! Kelsier played more of a mentor type father figure to Vin, and I loved this. It was so wonderful to watch Vin grow from a terrified street urchin to a powerful mistborn. And Kelsier was like a mixture of Aladdin, Robin Hood, and King Arthur all rolled into one. But, add serious levels of vanity. These characters were complex and more interesting than characters I have read in any book in a long time. And even the side characters just kept becoming more and more interesting as the story went on.
There’s also a book within the book that’s also beyond interesting, and I think will have to come into play later in the series. But more than anything, Sanderson created this world that’s unlike anything I’ve read before. The hierarchies in government and alomancy (metal usage) were so genius. And I know I’m not adequately describing how awesome the story is, and it sounds like it would be super complicated, but it wasn’t. Sanderson’s descriptive style expands on all things that would be complicated and paints a picture for anyone to be able to see.
I did kind of predict one aspect to the ending, a big aspect…However, there were so many small things I had no idea were coming. There’s one roof-top battle that had me going “Woa,” out loud. And some of the plot twists were so good, that even though I called some of them, I was still beyond impressed at the author’s ability to fit it all together. The plot twists had to happen because everything was so planned out and I couldn’t have seen things going down in any other way.
So I feel like I’m fangirling/gushing over this book too much. I don’t really have anything negative to say. I’m super glad I bought the box-set of this series because I will be needing to get into book 2 soon. I give this a 10/10. And I really recommend this to any and all fantasy fans.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (100)

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 Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger (11/4/14):

Description on Goodreads:
Sophronia continues her second year at finishing school in style--with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Such a fashionable choice of weapon comes in handy when Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and the charming Lord Felix Mersey stowaway on a train to return their classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspected what--or who--they would find aboard that suspiciously empty train. Sophronia uncovers a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos and she must decide where her loyalties lie, once and for all.

Gather your poison, steel tipped quill, and the rest of your school supplies and join Mademoiselle Geraldine's proper young killing machines in the third rousing installment in the New York Times bestselling Finishing School Series by steampunk author, Gail Carriger.
Why I’m Waiting:
I absolutely love this series. These books are smart, hilarious, steampunk-ish, action-packed, mysterious, and full of romantic potential. I can’t wait to get my hands on this one. I just adored book 1 and book 2. And the plot in this one sounds like it might be the best yet.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Summary (from Goodreads):
In his first book for young adults, bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by acclaimed artist Ellen Forney, that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.
Wow. This book was awesome. I’ve been meaning to read this one for some time. It’s on my 2014 challenge list. And I was reminded of my need to read it several times this year. This book has been in the news for being banned (this year). And then the author was on the Colbert Report not too long ago. And I guess I took this all to mean I better bring this up on my TBR pile. And I’m so glad I did.
I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting. But what I got was a book that both had me laughing out loud, and shedding a few tears. This is the ultimate underdog kind of book. And I love books where I’m meant to cheer on the underdog (that’s kind of why I watched the show, Glee, for so long).
I loved getting to see inside a reservation. I found Junior’s life to be both tragic and fascinating. The poor kid never had anything easy. When he leaves his rez to get better schooling, he’s ostracized at home for being a traitor. At his school, he stands out for not looking like anyone else. He hitchhikes on a regular basis, has been the long-lasting punching bag for various bullies on the rez, and to top it all off, Junior also has a medical condition. Is he not the ultimate underdog material?
The book deals with some intense subjects like alcoholism, racism, death, grief, depression, bulling, violence, poverty, and a little gambling. But it’s not overtly about any of these things. The book is more about Junior coming to terms with who he is, about growing up. Through it all are some funny comic-style illustrations and plenty of dark humor.
I liked that this book dealt with hard topics like racism in a sort of off-hand way. Never did it feel like I was being preached to. And at the same time, I loved watching certain characters grow, and become less ignorant.
The book was rather empowering too. It took serious courage for Junior to realize when he did that he had to leave. Junior knew that he wanted more than what his family had and that what the world was willing to give him. And I feel like that’s what the book was mainly about: realizing what you want and going after it (no matter how hard life gets).
I read this book in one sitting, not something I tend to do with contemporaries. I loved the characters. I loved getting to see inside a reservation. I found the humor to be awesome. I liked that serious issues were discussed without making the book just a serious issues book. I loved cheering for the lonely underdog. And I can’t really come up with anything negative to say. I give it a 10/10.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Good Week in Books (79)

I had a nice, little book week. My library’s annual book sale started up again, and the first day of it’s opening is always just for library staff and volunteers. I decided to not go to it last year, but I couldn’t stay away this year. I got 3 new books (all for five dollars)! And then my wonderful library staff and I were invited to a blueberry farm! So I came home this weekend with books and blueberries. What can be better?

Eona by Alison Goodman
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin
On the Count of Three by Maureen Johnson
How was your week in books?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (99)

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 Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis (10/14/14):

Description (on Goodreads):
Princess Snow is missing.

Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.

Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.

When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.
Why I’m Waiting:
Authors want to keep re-telling fairytales, and I’m so okay with letting them. Futuristic/sci-fi fairytales? Yes, please. I have a soft spot for this particular tale, and this sounds like such a fun read. I kind of love that there are seven drones instead of dwarves, and I can’t wait to read about more similarities in past and future tellings of Snow White. Also, I kind of love the cover; it’s simple, yet not simple at all.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Dust Lands: Raging Star by Moira Young

Summary (from Goodreads):
Saba is ready to seize her destiny and defeat DeMalo...until she meets him and finds herself drawn to the man and his vision of a healed earth, a New Eden. DeMalo wants Saba to join him, in life and work, to build a stable, sustainable world…for the chosen few. The young and the healthy. Under his control.

Jack’s choice is clear: to fight DeMalo and try to stop New Eden. Presumed dead, he's gone undercover, feeing Saba crucial information in secret meetings. Saba hides her connection with DeMalo and commits herself to the fight. Joined by her brother, Lugh, and her sister, Emmi, Saba leads a small guerilla band against the settlers and the Tonton militia. But the odds are overwhelming. Saba knows how to fight—she's not called the Angel of Death for nothing. But what can she do when the fight cannot be won? Then DeMalo offers Saba a chance—a seductive chance she may not be able to refuse. How much will she sacrifice to save the people she loves?

The road has never been more dangerous, and betrayal lurks in the most unexpected places in the breathtaking conclusion to the Dust Lands Trilogy.
I pre-ordered this one. I loved the first two books in the series, and I’ve been so curious to see how things would all end –even though I’ve been kind of postponing reading all of the many series conclusions I have on my TBR pile. Also, I must note that this book is a survivor. It has literally survived the ocean. It fell from my beach chair into the ocean, when I went for a walk and the low tide became a higher tide. I was upset because on top of one wet, wrinkly book coated in sand, I had also lost my bookmark! Thankfully, some sunshine solved a lot of problems, and while my book isn’t quite good as new, I feel like it has character. It’s strong like Saba. And I eventually found my spot. Also, it might now eternally smell of Plymouth.
It took me a long time to read this one. I read both book 1 and then book 2 in under a day (respectively –they weren’t both out yet when I read them). And I was hoping for a similarly fast paced book 3. Unfortunately, this book was not fast-paced at all. Not a lot really seemed to happen until the very end. The first ¾ of the book seemed almost repetitive to me. Saba kept thinking back to the same words of wisdom her father left her with. And by the third or fourth recollection, I was a little tired of the sentence.
But more than past memories coming into play, I just felt like Saba had a lot of thinking to do, and unlike the other books where her thinking was interrupted with cage fights, bar explosions, monsters, kidnappers, rebellions, etc, her thinking in this book was only interrupted by point of view shifts to a mysterious traitor, and hidden rendezvous with Jack. I wanted and expected a little more action. I get the theme here was meant to be more peaceful, but still…I needed more.
I did still love the characters. It was fun getting to watch them all work together and learn to survive together. I liked that Saba was finally able to see who DeMalo truly was (literally and figuratively). I also liked that she knew she couldn’t win a war the way everyone expected. I liked that she never viewed love as a weakness. The traitor point of view shifts were pretty cool too. It was fun trying to guess who it was.
I just wish more happened. And then when the action does all finally take place, I feel like it was rushed. I wanted to see more of what went down after certain kids were rescued. I wanted to see what went down after certain truths were revealed. I wanted to see more of New Eden at the end. I wanted more details in the action. My favorite moments at the end were kind of rushed though and skipped. Once because Saba was exhausted, depressed, and kind of sick, she wakes up days after events have taken place (days I wished to see). And then another time, near the end, a significant amount of time passes after things are reveled, and I never got to see the resolution. It was skipped over.
So much of the book was focused on the details of Saba coming up with a plan and remembering what she’s gone through to make it this far. And then when the end is in sight, barely any time is spent on the details. I was hoping for more. The author was not afraid to kill off important characters (as you already know from book 2), and there were some seriously sad moments. Just because there wasn’t as much action, doesn’t mean there wasn’t just as much darkness.
All in all, this was a very interesting series. I love Saba as a main character. I love all the characters. I love the concept of a world running low on water. And I found all of the dealings with DeMalo to be disturbing, fascinating, and believable. I wish this last book had more action. And I certainly wish crucial scenes weren’t skipped and passed over at the very end. I do think the ending works for the story, and I’m not sure I could have seen it ending much differently. I give this last book a 7/10.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Summary (from Goodreads):
Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?
So, I don’t ever really review adult books on the blog. I’m an obsessive YA reader. I do make rare exceptions for books with extreme crossover appeal that I know will have a large YA readership. I do like to read the occasional adult novel, but I don’t always review them here. This book is one of my exceptions. I know there will be a lot of teens and avid YA readers picking this up the day it comes out.
Rainbow Rowell has a special place in my heart. Both of her YA books made it to my top ten list of 2013 (with Fangirl being my #1 favorite book of 2013). I also liked Rowell’s other adult novel, though not as much as her YA. When I happened upon a little tidbit of knowledge about a special Macmillan shindig going on at BEA, I rushed over, and was ecstatic to see a table full of these ARCs. This was one of my most anticipated books at the conference.
That being said, I had high hopes for this one. I’m not the biggest fan of books that deal with motherhood and marriage problems, if anything because I don’t know much about these topics and can’t really relate. So, I knew going in, that the book wouldn’t be my normal cup of coffee. That’s okay; sometimes I like to try a different caffeinated beverage and mix it up a bit. I also felt like if any author could get me to understand these topics, it would be Rowell with her excellent character writing.
Unfortunately, I did still have a lot of those “out of place” feeling moments where I did feel a little disconnected from the main character and her problems that I just don’t know much about (yet). Do a lot of marriages work this way? Was Georgie totally overreacting and dramatizing everything? Do parents always feel this much guilt? I just wasn’t sure how I was supposed to feel.
I did still fall for all of her characters. Georgie was a bit of a mess, but in a good –willing to change kind of way. I loved her modern family –her home away from home. And I super loved her work family. I loved getting to read another book about a writer. Georgie was a tv writer, and I found all aspects of her job to be fascinating. I also was so in love with her husband, someone who seriously needs a best dad coffee mug like no one else.
What really kept the book interesting for me though, besides the excellent characters, was the little piece of magical realism. The idea of Georgie speaking to her husband (at an earlier time –pre-wedding) was kind of unbelievably genius. I liked that Georgie didn’t know if she was supposed to prevent the marriage from happening or if anything she was saying would alter history.
I found the story to be rather predictable. I called the ending at least half way through, and I certainly figured a lot of things out before Georgie did, which at times was a little annoying. Why did it take her so long to catch on? She seemed too smart to bet that slow
I read this one in a day. The magical realism was awesome. The characters were of the best Rainbow Rowell quality. Georgie’s job was fun to read about (past and present). I do wish it was a little easier for me to connect to the main character, but I’m not sure if this is any fault of the author’s. I just couldn’t relate. I also wish it wasn’t quite as predictable. Overall, I definitely like the author’s YA stuff better, but this was still a lot of fun to read. I give it an 8/10.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Good Week in Books (78)

I treated myself to some lovely books this week. I purchased one fantasy box set of books. I loved this author’s YA, and thought I’d give their adult fantasy a try. I also finally gave in and purchased a sequel I’ve been needing to read for some time. On top of that I was finally able to get my hands on some magical Harry Potter stamps. The only problem of course is that I don’t want to use these magical stamps: I want to keep them always.

The Mistborn Triolgy: Mistborn, The Well of Ascension, and The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
Until I Die by Amy Plum
Please don’t judge me for the crazy, Parisian bunny apocalypse painting I have on my wall.  And how was your week in books?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Summary (from Goodreads):
Girls started vanishing in the fall, and now winter's come to lay a white sheet over the horror. Door County, it seems, is swallowing the young, right into its very dirt. From beneath the house on Water Street, I've watched the danger swell.

The residents know me as the noises in the house at night, the creaking on the stairs. I'm the reflection behind them in the glass, the feeling of fear in the cellar. I'm tied—it seems—to this house, this street, this town.

I'm tied to Maggie and Pauline, though I don't know why. I think it's because death is coming for one of them, or both.

All I know is that the present and the past are piling up, and I am here to dig. I am looking for the things that are buried.

From bestselling author Jodi Lynn Anderson comes a friendship story bound in snow and starlight, a haunting mystery of love, betrayal, redemption, and the moments that we leave behind.
This was a beautiful book. Jodi Lynn Anderson is one of those authors I’d like to force anti-YA readers to read. The writing style is descriptive and metaphorical. There’s so much I can say about how the book goes from Pauline and Maggie to the ghost that sometimes gets the spotlight between chapters. All of the words spoken in the sprit’s voice were so eerily beautiful and almost philosophical. I went back to re-read some of the spirit’s passages just because of how nicely all of the words sounded together.
On the other hand, as can be noted by other reviewers, this wasn’t so much a supernatural ghost story, as it was a coming of age romantic story. And I was okay with this. Yes, I wish the publishing company could have done a better job representing the story on the back cover, but really this didn’t seem to bother me as much as it did for other readers. I liked that the supernatural qualities took the back seat to the real life. I also found the pacing to be fine (unlike other reviewers that commented on the slowness). I still read this in one day, and sometimes it is refreshing to read a book that doesn’t have speed of light pacing.
I found all the small town quirks to be interesting. I loved that each character had a guess for who the serial murderer was. I liked the gossip and the religious undertones. I loved the sense of nature and beauty.
What really took away from what could have been a remarkable book for me was the hazy sense of time. For chapters I believed this to take place in the 70’s. Disco music was mentioned. There was plenty of talk of gramophones and old school jazz music. Girls most often wore dresses (that seemed to go down below the knee a lot). It was a bit of a shock when a modern thing would pop up randomly, something like Grumpy Cat….And I’d be like whoa. What time period is this supposed to be?
No one watched tv. None of the teens spent any time on Facebook or YouTube or any kind of social networking site. And while I get that there are plenty of teens today that aren’t addicted to an online culture, I found it a little hard to believe that none of the teen characters in this book seemed to have any interest in pop culture or modern technology at all. Maggie painted for fun or read classic literature. Liam was always outside, building things like saunas (!) and doing things with his hands. And Pauline I understood to be the childlike character who wouldn’t be into these things…but still.
And I know this is not crucial to the plotline, but this bothered me. I kind of wished it did take place in the 70’s.  Because I just kept thinking that this author really didn’t understand teenagers enough. She got the big picture things about jealousy and heartbreak, but none of the little picture things that would have made this a whole lot better in my opinion.
The author did genuinely shock me at the end. There was a twist I was not expecting at all. And I literally had to put the book down for a few minutes to process my surprise. This almost covered up my slight disappointment in the lack of closure on one of the main plot points, but not quite. I wish there was just a little more closure at the end.
All in all, the writing was beautiful and the characters were interesting. The romance was believable and heart-achingly sad at the same time. I loved begin surprised at the end. I just wish the sense of time was more clear –or more that I wish it took place in a different decade with no mention of Grumpy Cat. I also wish I had more closure at the end. I give it an 8/10.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (98)

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 In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken (10/28/14):

Description on Goodreads:
Ruby can't look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government's attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. With them is a prisoner: Clancy Gray, son of the president, and one of the few people Ruby has encountered with abilities like hers. Only Ruby has any power over him, and just one slip could lead to Clancy wreaking havoc on their minds.

They are armed only with a volatile secret: proof of a government conspiracy to cover up the real cause of IANN, the disease that has killed most of America's children and left Ruby and others like her with powers the government will kill to keep contained. But internal strife may destroy their only chance to free the "rehabilitation camps" housing thousands of other Psi kids.

Meanwhile, reunited with Liam, the boy she would-and did-sacrifice everything for to keep alive, Ruby must face the painful repercussions of having tampered with his memories of her. She turns to Cole, his older brother, to provide the intense training she knows she will need to take down Gray and the government. But Cole has demons of his own, and one fatal mistake may be the spark that sets the world on fire.
Why I’m Waiting:
I have loved this series since book 1. Seriously, they have all been epic. They are the ultimate kid power books. I feel like it has taken a remarkably long time for this third installment to come out. I’m not sure if this is because I read the sequel early (as an ARC) and then my sense of time changed…or if it really is taking forever to come out. Why couldn’t this book have been at BEA? Why? I need to know how it all ends. Need. I’m not sure how I feel about these covers. I get the sort of Hunger Games need to be simple and attract boys and girls, but I still wish it could have been a little more exciting. And I wish the symbols actually had anything to do with the story.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Summary (from Goodreads):
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas's life.
So far, I feel like I have only picked true gems for my 2014 reading challenge. This was one of those books that got a lot of hype and positive reviews back when it came out a few years ago, and while I purchased the book, I never had the opportunity to read it.
Things that spoke to me right away: there’s a guy main character (!), there’s ghost hunting, there’s an important mom character (who happens to be a witch), there are numerous similarities between this book and the show Supernatural (in the early years), there’s an ultimate revenge mission, there’s a super scary creep factor, and there’s a general lack of sugar-coating.
Cas swears (as most teenagers do, I might add). And I was actually legitimately scared reading this. I don’t think I’ve ever been scared by reading a YA novel. Like I sad, nothing was sugarcoated. Anna was a ghost who split live human bodies down the middle, into two pieces. This is not a book for people who can’t handle their stories with a little blood in them. Also, Anna’s story was very dark and disturbing.
Another thing to love about this book is all of the urban myth references. I loved all the mentions of Bloody Mary and town spooks. I also super loved Cas and his mother. I loved having a YA book where the parent character knows what is going on in their kids’ life. I loved their teamwork. I also loved how considerate Cas was of his mother, again, not something I’m used to seeing.
I do wish some of the side characters had a little more depth to them. The characters I was meant to hate were way to easy to hate. I wished they could have had some kind of redeeming quality to them. I did find his two new besties to be awesome though. And I was so fascinated by Anna.
And just when I thought I got my take on all the supernatural elements of the world, I learn more about voodoo and curses. I loved that the author kept throwing more in. I also loved the idea of a telepathic best friend and a good witch mother. It was interesting getting little clues as the book went on as to what really went down with Cas’ dad.
There are definite comparisons that can be made to multiple supernatural tv shows (besides Supernatural). The protections spells reminded me of Buffy. Some of the powers and curses reminded me of Charmed.  And in a way it felt like a wonderful supernatural tv reunion for me. Add the awesome main characters and all the wonderful things I already listed, and I was highly impressed. I give this a 10/10. And I will definitely have to get my hands on the sequel.