Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (119)

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 Tonight the Streets are Ours by Leila Sales (4/7/15)

Description on Goodreads:
Tonight the Streets Are Ours is a YA novel about a teen girl living in the suburbs who becomes obsessed with a blogger in New York City, and sets out to track him down in real life.
Why I’m Waiting:
So, I realize that isn’t much of a description, and I also realize there is almost a year to wait on this book. However, I absolutely loved This Song Will Save Your Life, and hopefully a year will be plenty of time to read her other YA that she wrote earlier. Also, it’s about finding a blogger! Can there be a hotter topic right now? And, what a gorgeous cover! I know this one will be good.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, November 24, 2014

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Summary (from Goodreads):
Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.
As I said on Goodreads earlier, sometimes you finish a book, and it's so good, and you feel so strongly connected with the characters that even when you know it's over, you can't quite let the book go. This is one of those books. It's the kind you finish, and then clutch to your chest in a book hug. This author got so many things right. Things about siblings, and families, and love, and grief, and hate, and art.
I knew right away that this book was different. The writing style was beautiful. I can see some people not getting it and loving it. It’s layered upon layered in metaphor. And I don’t always love so much metaphor, but in this case, it just flowed. It was natural. The writing style was both natural, yet also exaggerated. And that just worked perfectly with the story that was also both of those things.
I’m so glad I read this one when I did.  I needed it this week. I did. And I’m so glad I didn’t read it earlier to its release date when my own grief might not have mixed well with the grief going on here. There is so much loss in this book. There’s pain and then there’s pain that makes you cut through stone over night like a stone-cutting ninja sculptor warrior. So many tough things happen. There’s loss, depression, lying, cheating, affairs, and so much darkness and drama.
But there’s also this great, sarcastic sense of humor throughout everything too. There’s always a disease to think about to distract oneself from charming, leaning British artists. And there’s animal facts and stargazing, and first love too. There is some steamy romance in here (both between Jude and her leading man, and between Noah and his), mixing with the heart-wrenching break-ups and realizations. It was also a twin story, and I can’t get enough of those.
I’ve never read a YA book that discusses art like this one does. Between the painting, the street art, the drawings, the museums, the sculpting, and the stonework, I don’t think I’ve ever had such a great sense of image from a book before. The artwork was leaking off the pages. I was seeing it all, and I wanted to see more.
Also important, is the romance isn’t just of the heterosexual variety. I thought Noah and Brian’s relationship was both usually more interesting than Jude and Oscar’s, and more sizzling. It was the slow building variety. And I was shipping them for so long! I was shipping Oscar and Jude too…just actually not quite as much.
I feel like I’m not even giving this book enough justice. It was powerful, strong, and unique. It’s one of my favorites of the year (I think I did vote for it on Goodreads as my favorite of the year) I give it a 10/10. Go read it.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Good Week in Books (93)

So, I had a rather uneventful book week. I did purchase two new books that are oh so pretty. But, I haven’t even finished reading one book this week! The book I’m reading now is super amazing, and I think it’s actually one of my favorite books of the year, but my mind is not focusing. My mind is on the novel I’m writing. I’m kind of dreading not finishing it by the end of November. I just hit 30,000 words this morning. And I kind of have 20,000 more words to write in a week…What am I thinking? I’m still trying to read 100 books this year for my Goodreads challenge, and I’m a little afraid of not finishing all these challenges.
On the plus side, I’m writing a YA book that I’m a little bit proud of. And even if I don’t finish it in 7 days (though, I will try!), I will definitely finish it soon at the crazy rate I have been writing it. When I’m not focusing and not reading all the YA books like I normally would, I am in book zone, thinking about my characters.
Any way, challenge worries aside, these are the lovely books I purchased and that I just cannot wait to get started on:

The Bane Chronicles
by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Maureen Johnson
The Body Electric by Beth Revis
How was your book week?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (118)

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 Lies I Told by Michelle Zink (4/7/15):

Description on Goodreads:
What if, after spending a lifetime deceiving everyone around you, you discovered the biggest lies were the ones you've told yourself?

Grace Fontaine has everything: beauty, money, confidence, and the perfect family.

But it’s all a lie.

Grace has been adopted into a family of thieves who con affluent people out of money, jewelry, art, and anything else of value. Grace has never had any difficulty pulling off a job, but when things start to go wrong on the Fontaines' biggest heist yet, Grace finds herself breaking more and more of the rules designed to keep her from getting caught...including the most important one of all: never fall for your mark.

Perfect for fans of Ally Carter, Cecily von Ziegesar, and Gail Carriger, this thrilling, high-stakes novel deftly explores the roles of identity and loyalty while offering a window into the world of the rich and fabulous.
Why I’m Waiting:
I really enjoyed the Prophecy of the Sisters series by Michelle Zink. I know she’s written more since then, but I still need to get to it. And this one sounds super awesome. It has an Ally Carter feel to it, and I’m all about it. The mixture of conning the wealthy and falling for her mark makes this main character sound beyond interesting. It will be fun to read something a bit more contemporary by this author too. I’m not sure I’m feeling the cover because it’s kind of yawns-ville, but I just know this book will be good.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Summary (from Goodreads):
Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

I’m a big Marie Lu fan. I loved the Legend Trilogy. It’s one of my all time favorite YA dystopias. When I heard a new book was in the works, I just about jumped for joy. Was this one as good as Legend? Not quite. Was it still a lot fun? Definitely.
I feel like everything I’ve been reading has been good, but nothing has been amazing in a while. I was kind of hoping for an amazing with this one, and got stuck with just another plain old good.
This book had a very French Revolution type vibe going for it. Though, the setting seemed more reminiscent of Venice, Italy. There seemed to be a lot of water and gondolas –not to mention giant, masked ball type celebrations. However, the Dagger Society felt a lot like the revolutionaries. They wanted the malfettos to be treated better, or at least equally to everyone else. All the plotting, spying, secret missions, royal politics, and training felt like revolutionary school for beginners. And all of this was super fun to read about.
Also, what’s not to like about a main character who’s missing one eye and has silver hair? She’s so not the typical hero. Yes, I felt bad for her. But, she had some dark mojo going on too. She thrived on people’s fear…And got a little too into the killing aspect of her job. However, I really couldn’t blame her. She got the short end of the stick on her childhood situation. Also, there was some seriously dark family drama going on with all the twisted flashbacks to the worst dad of the year. And the whole sister relationship aspect of the story was also really cool. I like stories where siblings are important and not just background noise.
So, why wasn’t this awesome sounding book amazing? I never really felt like I cared for any of the characters. I grew to love the main character and her sister. But everyone else? I could care less when death happened. I really was never afraid for the Dagger Society’s members. And I guess I wish I cared more for the people in here, particularly the romantic interest, who mostly just came off as a jerk to me.
I loved the plot. Lu knows how to write those suspenseful twists and turns. And wow, that ending was so good, and frankly a little unexpected. So, even though this wasn’t totally amazing, I still need book 2 now. Please. The story, the setting, the concept, the main character, and the revolutionary feel made this worth the read. I just wish I cared more about the characters. I give it 8/10.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn't mean she has...
I have been a fan of this series since the beginning. Is anything not interesting about about a group of nun assassins? I find it a little odd that these books are always classified as historical fiction, when there are so many magical/supernatural elements to them. Is it because the supernatural elements involve religion? I don’t know. They definitely read more like good old-fashioned fantasy novels. Between the journeys, the war, the magic, and the very mythological feel, not a lot of it feels too historical. It does take place in the 15th century. But in a 15th century that accepts nuns as assassins, and allows women to work independently from men (as long as they are followers of a God/prophet).
I love a good book with girl power! And all three books in this series definitely are loaded with this. The beliefs and interactions with the gods (particularly the god of death) have a very Greek mythology type of feel to them. The author kind of combines the ideas of saints with Celtic gods (pre-existing the spread of Christianity). At least this is what I gathered from the note at the end of the book. I was reading an ARC, so hopefully the note is left in the final version because I found it super interesting.
While I find Annith’s character to be kind of fascinating, I actually think I liked this book the least out of the 3. I still enjoyed it. And there were so many good things here, but I just didn’t fall into it like I did with the first two. I also feel like I’m in a bit of reading rut. This is third or so book in a row that I was hoping to love a lot more than I did. I even DNF’ed a book this week (something I rarely do).
Any way, the things I loved were: the 3 assassin friends coming together again(!), the answers we finally receive (Finally, I understand the abbess and all of my questions were answered!), the way in which all three of the stories connected, the romance, the politics, the character of the duchess, and the Helloquin (you have to read it to learn what this is and why it was amazing).
What I didn’t love: nothing was surprising (there were 3 or so major twists that I kind of called from the first chapter and kind of wished would end even slightly different than how I predicted), the repetition, and the final resolution. What was repeated? There were a few too many scenes where Ismae’s and Sybella’s men would fret over their safety. Every time one of the assassins volunteered to do something there would be disputes. And while I guess this probably would happen, I’m not sure I needed to always see it. It became rather repetitive and boring. It made my two favorite characters seem boring to me. I eventually started skimming all the scenes that involved planning political schemes because they all ended the same way. I would have loved to see more of the three women interacting than seeing these disputes over and over.
I won’t talk too much about the end because I don’t want to spoil things. I guess I just wanted to be a little more surprised and a little more impressed. That’s all I’ll say. I did really enjoy the series. And this book certainly tied everything up really nicely. There are no unanswered questions. There are plenty of new, wonderful characters. I just wished for less repetition and more surprises. I give it an 8/10.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (117)

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 Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen (5/5/15):
Description on Goodreads:
Peyton, Sydney's charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion's share of their parents' attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton's increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.
Why I’m Waiting:
It’s a new Sarah Dessen book! I was hoping for one last summer, but that’s okay. I’ll wait for them. Just keep them coming, please. This one seems to deal with a new topic, and I’m so ready to read it. Are the Chatham’s the family of the victim of the crash? Also, did anyone die in the crash? There are already things I just need to know. I know I’ve read every Dessen book out there, but wow, I did not realize there were already 11! I’m not a fan of the boring/kind of adult looking cover. Why not keep the redesign theme of the just-finished covers? Regardless, this is a book to be excited about!

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Good Week in Books (92)

I had a nice, small book week. I still had a few dollars of a gift card to spend, plus a 20% off coupon for Barnes and Noble, so I figured I’d go buy 2 new books. One is a book I’ve been waiting for, for years. It finally came out after multiple pushed back publication dates, and I can’t wait to get started! The other is a book I’ve been wanting to read since the first positive review came in. I requested it at my library but had to return it before I could get to it because there were too many holds on it. My reading seems much slower now that all my tv shows are back, and now that I’m writing my own book.
Aren’t these pretty?

I’ll Give You the Sun
by Jandy Nelson
The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
How was your week in books?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Fall (off the shelf) giveaway!

I have some books to give away. All of them came out this fall. And I either have more than one copy of them or just don’t think I’ll get to them, and hope someone will.
This is a US only giveaway because I am shipping them myself. I have a goal to do more giveaways though, so I’ll most definitely be opening up an international one soon. Standard rules apply: the winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email with a shipping address, or I’ll have to select a different winner.
I have 3 books up for grabs for one lucky winner (click on the titles to read the Goodreads pages):

Evidence of Things Not Seen
by Lindsey Lane
Adrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle Crompton
The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Brien

Good luck!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (116)

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 Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley (4/28/15):

Description on Goodreads:
Neil Gaiman’s Stardust meets John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars in this groundbreaking fantasy about a girl caught between two worlds…two races…and two destinies.

Aza Ray is drowning in thin air.

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live.

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

Maria Dahvana Headley's soaring YA debut is a fiercely intelligent, multilayered fantasy rich with symbolism and steeped in allegory. Her John Green–meets–Neil Gaiman approach to character development and world building will draw readers of all genres, who will come for the high-concept journey through the sky and stay for the authentic, confused, questioning teen voices. Jason and Aza’s fight to find each other somewhere between sky and earth is the perfect anchor for Headley’s gorgeous, wildly vivid descriptions of life in Magonia.
Why I’m Waiting:
Stardust meets The Fault in Our Stars? Are you kidding me? I need to read this now. I love the idea of the different worlds and the breathing better in the sky concept. Also, Neil Gaiman’s blurb is a nice touch. I find the cover kind of lame. But that description more than makes up for it. This definitely sounds like a debut to keep your eyes on.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Summary (from Goodreads):
There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.
So, I feel like I’m the first one to say this, but I just have to: I was a little disappointed with this installment. Maybe my expectations were a little too high. There are two things that happened here that go on my red flag list for things I can’t stand in series. One is repetition. And two is filler (which I will get to later).
I didn’t hate this book. How can I possibly hate anything this fantastic writer has to say? There were still some fantastic elements to the story. The character development, of course, was at a great all time high. Reading about all these slightly darkened characters is always a good time. I need to take a moment to bask in the wonders of Mr. Gray. I love this guy to pieces. Also, added to the witty cast of intellectuals was Malory (another gem of a character).
I will forever have a place in my heart too for Noah, Ronan, Gansey, and Blue. Seriously, what unique, interesting, and heart-felt characters. You can’t help but want them to find what they are looking for.  I feel like there is still so much more to know about all of them too, and this adds to the story. They are these bottomless pits of interesting, and you never get bored with their histories.
So, as one can imagine, the characters again were top notch. It was the story/plot that took a bit of a nose-dive for me. It felt like a filler book to me. Not a lot happens. Things moved at a glacial pace, so my reading of it also moved at glacial pace. It took me over a week to read! And while I get that not all character-driven books can have a ton of plot, nor do they always need to, I just felt like this was missing too much. The first two in the series had plots that grabbed me the entire time. This just never grabbed.
In talking about it with a volunteer at my library (who also is a big Stiefvater fan), we both kind of came to the same realization at the same time: maybe this book didn’t even need to happen. I think we’d both be okay with going from Dream Thieves to book 4. It’s sort of how I felt about Insurgent. Did anything really happen that was that relevant to the story as a hole? Maybe 1 or 2 things…as far as I can tell, but couldn’t those 1 or 2 things have been added to a marvelous final installment, as compared to a lengthy book 3 where not much happens? We both just felt it was too long for what was accomplished.
Then there’s the repetition. The thing we are supposed to get from all the characters is this: they don’t all know each other as well as they thought. This is repeated several times. I feel like this is demonstrated enough without even being one sentence, let alone what felt like several sentences. I got this from books 1 and 2 without all the repetition needed. Let’s move on.
I’m also not totally sure how I feel about Adam’s character, and I’ve said this in past reviews too. He’s my least favorite. I feel bad for him because of the hot mess that is his life. But, I never really cared for him like the rest of the characters, and I’m not sure why. It is so easy to love these amazing people Stiefvater is so crafted at creating, but for some reason I just can’t come to love Adam. Sadly, a lot of this book seemed centered around him (maybe another reason why I wasn’t feeling it as much).
All in all the characters are a treat to read about. Even if the book was 10 times worse than this was, I still would have finished it because I will finish all Maggie Stiefvater books. The lady knows how to write, and definitely knows how to write characters. I just wasn’t feeling the plot, and I got annoyed with the repetition. Not a lot happens, though things are certainly setup nicely for the next installment. I give it a 7.5/10.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Good Week in Books (91)

I had a rather excellent book week, I must say. I had a little Barnes and Noble birthday gift card (courtesy of my amazing next door neighbor) burning a hole in my pocket, so I went for two books with that. I also received 3 books for review this week (Big thanks to Macmillan Kids and Hachette). I don’t tend to mention library books because I don’t get to keep those, but I have like all the library books right now too. My requests all came at the same time…I have lots of good reading to do. On a side note, I started my new YA novel with NaNoWriMo. Yay! So much YA, so little time.
These are my new books this week:

The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle (so, so pretty)
Endless Knight by Kresley Cole
Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox
Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky
In the After Light by Alexandra Bracken (!!)
How was your week in books?