Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (138)

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 Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (10/20/15):

Description on Goodreads:
This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.
Why I’m Waiting:
I love the other sci-fi series Kaufman coauthors. So this initially sparked my interest just because of her name. But then, I read that description. The more I read of it, the more I needed the book. It sounds epic. I love the idea of it bering written through hacked documents and emails too. So cool.  I have not read the other author before but I know a lot of bloggers who love Kristoff too, so he has to be good. The cover is okay. Really, it’s the story that sounds so good!
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Hold me Closer: The Tiny Cooper story by David Levithan

Summary (from Goodreads):
It’s Tiny Cooper’s turn in the spotlight in this companion novel to New York Times bestseller Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

Jazz hands at the ready! Tiny Cooper (“the world’s largest person who is also really, really gay”) stole readers’ hearts when he was introduced to the world in the New York Times bestselling book Will Grayson, Will Grayson, co-authored by John Green and David Levithan. Now Tiny finally gets to tell his story—from his fabulous birth and childhood to his quest for true love and his infamous parade of ex-boyfriends—the way he always intended: as a musical! Filled with honesty, humor, and “big, lively, belty” musical numbers, the novel is told through the full script of the musical first introduced in Will Grayson, Will Grayson.
So, it’s been a long time since I read Will Grayson, Will Grayson. However, it’s up there on my list of top best YA books of all time. I recommend it to people at my library all the time. It’s my favorite John Green book (next to The Fault in Our Stars), and I seriously need to re-read it now. There’s a lot of things I don’t remember about the book. Tiny Cooper though, was a character I definitely remembered. How can you not remember this amazing person? I didn’t remember much about the musical he was working on in Will Grayson, Will Grayson, but that’s okay because this is it.
And wow. I was expecting over the top humor. I was expecting fantastic songs. I was expecting to laugh. And I did. I got all these things. What I was not expecting was to feel so much in this book, and I had all the feels. I laughed out loud one moment, I sang along another, and then there were moments when I had tears in my eyes. And I loved every mixed bag of emotions moment of this book.
This musical is smart, snarky, hilarious, and so brave. I both can and can’t imagine anyone being brave enough to write this, and then star in it. Tiny is one amazing human being (aka: character). The first half was over the top humor about being gay from birth to coming out to his parents, to having a super cool lesbian babysitter. And the second half was a little more serious. There were scenes about body image, about sex, and about pain. Tiny has a parade of ex-boyfriends and you just can’t forget about the ghost of Oscar Wilde.
A lot of it made me laugh, but I’m actually finding the more emotional moments to the be the most memorable, like these words from one of the songs toward the end: “I’ll be your weekend, / your fire escape, / the dream you never leave – / I’ll be your day off / your stopped clock / your glorious reprieve.  /  Let me be your something else. / Let me put your past up on a shelf. / Let me unfold you from your problems / and let you be yourself” (182).
It’s written as a play, with notes written in by Tiny. So, it goes super fast. There’s never a good moment to stop reading. You will want to read it all in one go. I think what I love the most about Tiny is that despite all of his over the top actions and songs, there’s something about him that is just like everyone else. Everyone wants love. Everyone wants what he wants.  There just aren’t that many people who go about it so honestly, hopefully, and sweetly. I loved this book. It’s one of my favorites of the year so far. It so gets a 10/10.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Jackaby by William Ritter and read by Nicola Barber

Summary (from Goodreads):
Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1890, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary - including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby's assistant.

On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it's an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain the foul deeds are the work of the kind of creature whose very existence the local police seem adamant to deny.

While Abigail finds herself drawn to Jackaby's keen intelligence and his sensitivity to phenomena others barely perceive, her feelings are confused by the presence of Charlie, a handsome young policeman willing to help Jackaby and Abigail on the case. But is Charlie's offer a sincere desire to be of service, or is some darker motive at work.
First, I need to say that image I used above is for the novel, not the audio book. The only audio book cover I could find online was super tiny. I did listen to this one. I had a nice long car ride to CT, to visit my friend Emma (who just started her own blog: The Testy Badger), to see her fantastic ballroom dance show! And I needed some good books to listen to. And wow, this was a good book to listen to.
This book was so good that it got me out of my reading funk. There was one day where I was planning on getting to work early, and I was just barely on time because I stayed in my car, in the parking lot, finishing a chapter of this audio.
The book was marketed as Sherlock meets Dr. Who, but I actually kind of think it was more Sherlock meets the show Supernatural. And well, are any of these comparisons bad? No. The narrator was also amazing. I’m not used to ladies voicing audio books, and I’m not sure why most of my YA listenings have been male, up to this point. I loved Barber’s voices for all the characters. She had a nice, soothing British accent that made me wish all audio books had British accents.
The story was so much fun too. Between the ghost, the banshee, the murders, and the mystery were some fantastic characters. Jackaby was very Sherlock. Though, if Sherlock also had a “the sight” to see supernatural creatures no one else sees. I loved the very British humor. I loved the main character, who brought the minor threads of normalcy to the tapestry of the strange. And I loved that the romance was minute, just barely in the background.  Abigail was too focused on having the adventure she deserved to worry about men. Though, there is a very charming junior police officer she has her eye on.
The ghostly element reminded me of some classic, British gothic literature. And I think my favorite voice by the narrator was for Jenny, the ghost. I loved that it was the kind of book that had you question the supernatural. Is Jackaby for real? You decide. That is until you meet Jenny, the ghost, and the last assistant who is now a bird who refuses to change back to being human.
There are minor details about politics, feminism, and history too. And there’s even more history at the end with a brief explanation for some of the materials involved in solving the mystery.  This book was fun and suspenseful. I loved he supernatural elements. I loved the humor. And I adored the characters. I give this a 10/10 and I recommend it to fans of Sherlock, and to any YA reader looking for a good mystery

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (137)

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 Manners and Mutiny by Gail Carriger (11/3/15):

Description on Goodreads:
When a dastardly Pickleman plot comes to fruition, only Sophronia can save her friends, her school, and all of London...but at what cost? Our proper young heroine puts her training and skills to the test in this highly anticipated conclusion of the rousing, intriguing, and always polished New York Times bestselling Finishing School series!
Why I’m Waiting:
There’s no better word to describe these books than “delightful.” Seriously, I believe I’ve compared reading them to eating a really nice box of chocolates. They are sweet, adventurous, smart, romantic, hilarious, and just plain amazing. I’m sad to learn that this will be the conclusion to what has become one of my favorite YA series out there. I’m also saddened by the pathetic description we were given. Hopefully, there will be more posted about it soon? I love these books. I love this author. I cannot wait for this book to come out. I also even kind of love the weird covers, that are at least consistent.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Re-Read 2015: The Lighning Thief (audiobook) by Rick Riordan and read by Jesse Bernstein

Summary (from Goodreads):
Twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school . . . again. No matter how hard he tries, he can't seem to stay out of trouble. But can he really be expected to stand by and watch while a bully picks on his scrawny best friend? Or not defend himself against his pre-algebra teacher when she turns into a monster and tries to kill him? Of course, no one believes Percy about the monster incident; he's not even sure he believes himself.

Until the Minotaur chases him to summer camp.

Suddenly, mythical creatures seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. The gods of Mount Olympus, he's coming to realize, are very much alive in the twenty-first century. And worse, he's angered a few of them: Zeus's master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy has just ten days to find and return Zeus's stolen property, and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. On a daring road trip from their summer camp in New York to the gates of the Underworld in Los Angeles, Percy and his friends-one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena-will face a host of enemies determined to stop them. To succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of failure and betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.
This was a re-read for me. It’s part of my Re-Read 2015 challenge. I’ll be re-reading all the Harry Potter books (I’ve already gone through a lot of them), and all the Percy Jackson books. I re-read this book for a book club I was leading in 2012 and you can read that review here: review. However, this was my first time listening to the audiobook version. As I said 3 years ago, this book is incredible. Re-reading/listening to this makes me want to binge read all of them in one go.
I don’t know why I do this, but sometimes when I think I’m remembering the book, I’m remembering the movie. And the movie just isn’t as good. The layers to this book are thick too. So much is setup for the rest of the series, and I’m beyond excited to keep reading/listening. I think I’m going to listen to them all.
Between the monsters, the Gods, the foreshadow of Titans, the adventures, the creatures, the magical artifacts, the visiting of the underworld, the close call with Medussa, the extended time spent in Las Vegas, and the scary scene at the Gateway Arch in St Louis, there was never a dull moment. There is never a good time to put the book down, or in my case, to leave my car and get back to reality. And layered amongst all the amazing plot devises and interesting characters, was the amazing humor. I literally laughed out loud throughout the whole book. And that is after having read the book a few times before.
At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about the reader: Jesse Bernstein. He sounded almost too juvenile, like an adult trying too hard to sound like Bart Simpson. But, then he grew on me. His voices for different Gods and important side characters was pretty amazing. And now, Percy just has his voice for me. I can’t imagine anyone else voicing Percy.
I highly recommend these books to anyone who likes middle-grade, though like with Harry, Percy grows older within the series that eventually becomes a little more YA. I’m so excited to continue with these re-reads. I give it a 9/10.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (136)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week I am waiting on Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti (9/29/15):

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

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Good Week in Books (104)

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

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

Friday, April 10, 2015

Until I Die by Amy Plum

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

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

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

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

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

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

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (135)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week I am waiting on Winter by Marissa Meyer (11/10/15):

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Boy who Lost Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente

Summary (from Goodreads):

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

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

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

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A Good Week in Books (103)

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

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

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

How was your week in books?