Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (142)

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 Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella (6/9/15):

Description from Goodreads:
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Shopaholic series comes a terrific blend of comedy, romance, and psychological recovery in a contemporary YA novel sure to inspire and entertain.

An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.
Why I’m Waiting:
I remember reading the entire first Shopaholic book in a bookstore. I don’t think I read any more of the series, but I do remember really getting into book 1. When I heard this author was writing a YA, I got really excited.  Here’s my opportunity to read more of her. The concept of the book sounds super interesting and adorable too. I need more excellent YA contemporaries in my life. And this one is super promising.
What are you waiting on this week?
PS. I’m off to NY after work today. I’ll be at BEA Thursday and Friday. Maybe I’ll see you there? I know I have a very good week in books to talk about when I get back.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Burning Kingdoms by Lauren DeStefano

Summary (from Goodreads):
Danger descends in the second book of The Internment Chronicles, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Chemical Garden trilogy.

After escaping Internment, Morgan and her fellow fugitives land on the ground to finally learn about the world beneath their floating island home.

The ground is a strange place where water falls from the sky as snow, and people watch moving pictures and visit speakeasies. A place where families can have as many children as they want, their dead are buried in vast gardens of bodies, and Internment is the feature of an amusement park.

It is also a land at war.

Everyone who fled Internment had their own reasons to escape their corrupt haven, but now they’re caught under the watchful eye of another king who wants to dominate his world. They may have made it to the ground, but have they dragged Internment with them?
Sadly, I did not like this one nearly as much as the first book in the series. It started with the awful cover re-design. Why mess with the beauty that was the cover of the first book? Really, a statue? It has nothing to do with the story at all.
The beautiful writing I have come to love and expect from this author is still there. Some of the descriptions read like poetry, and I would literally pause in my reading and re-read certain descriptions just to soak in the pretty words. The characters I loved are all still there. And there was actually a ton more character development in this one, which I love. The people seemed more real.
So what didn’t I like? There were two things that bothered me. One was the eternal question of: is this our world and if so what time period is it? This is never answered, nor even remotely addressed. And while sometimes this doesn’t bother me (like in book 1), sometimes it does bother me because it takes me away from the story to keep asking the question. Is it a totally made up world beneath the floating island? If so, why do the amusement parks have twirling teacups? It felt sort of like a mix of the 1920’s flapper life with World War II warfare with some modern day attitudes. And while I get that one can create their own world that is all these things, I guess I’d like some hint letting me know it is a created world, so I’m not always trying to guess at things. A year would be nice.
The other thing that I didn’t love: nothing happens. Literally nothing happens until the very end of the book. It’s a lot of not knowing what will happen, trying to plan what to do when something does eventually happen, and sneaking out to see the world while waiting for something to happen. It took me 2 weeks to read it! I kept waiting, hoping that something would indeed happen.  I almost gave up on the book twice. I need a little more plot with my novels. Some kind of action before the final chapters would have been nice.
There’s a lot of character development and things learned about our friends from the first book. However, this just wasn’t enough for me. I like where things ended. And wow, did this book become intense in those ending chapters. There’s death, depression, explosions, hospitals, and major goals accomplished by the ending chapter. I just wished some of it was dispersed throughout the whole thing. All in all, I give this one a 6/10. The writing and characters were beautiful. But, I needed so much more than that.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Re-Read 2015: The Titan's Curse (audio book) by Rick Riordan and read by Jesse Bernstein

Summary (from goodreads):

But when you're the son of a Greek god, it happens. And now my friend Annabeth is missing, a goddess is in chains and only five half-blood heroes can join the quest to defeat the doomsday monster.

Oh, and guess what? The Oracle has predicted that not all of us will survive...
First of all, the cover I used is for the paperback, and not the audio book. The audio book cover was just too small. Second, I read this in one week! Third, I only listen to books in the car, so yikes, I do a lot of driving!
This, so far, is still my favorite book in the series. It starts with a school dance! There’s new half-bloods to meet. There’s Artemis and her band of maiden hunters. There’s the getting to know Thalia, who is awesome. There are fast rides with the sun god. There are more scenes with lots of gods (including a party on Olympus). There’s the ever-present prophecy that can change the whole world. The battles are tougher. The monsters are even more indestructible. And the stakes are so much higher.
This book takes the whole series for a darker turn. Besides the doom filled oracle speech in the beginning about losing one character and another being killed by his/her parent, there’s also the kidnapping of Annabeth! Harry never had to fight so many battles and go on so many adventures without Hermione! Percy really proved himself the hero by how he acted without his wise friend. And also, I loved the relationships he created with Thalia, Artemis, and the other hunters.
There’s a lot of reveals in this book about elements of the prophecy, about the titans, and about new friends. Also, the romance is starting to blossom between a certain two main characters and I loved how Aphrodite had her words about it. I also loved the hunters. Who else can put the children of gods in their place?
So this book, I guess is all about the unfolding of the darkness to come. But, it’s also full of the humor, suspense, and action of the first two books. The kids are getting older and the drama of the story is changing. And I love this too. I’m so excited to delve into the next book in this series. This one so gets a 10/10.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (141)

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 Velvet Undercover by Teri Brown (10/20/15):

Description on Goodreads:
Samantha Donaldson’s family has always done its duty for the British Crown. In the midst of World War I, seventeen-year-old Sam follows in their footsteps, serving her country from the homefront as a Girl Guide and messenger for the intelligence organization MI5. After her father disappears on a diplomatic mission, she continues their studies of languages, high-level mathematics, and complex puzzles and codes, hoping to make him proud.

When Sam is asked to join the famed women’s spy group La Dame Blanche she’s torn—this could be the adventure she’s dreamed of, but how can she abandon her mother, who has already lost a husband to the war? But when her handlers reveal shocking news, Sam realizes there’s no way she can refuse the exciting and dangerous opportunity.

Her acceptance leads her straight into the heart of enemy territory on a mission to extract the most valuable British spy embedded in Germany, known to the members of LDB only as Velvet. Deep undercover within the court of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Samantha must navigate the labyrinthine palace and its many glamorous—and secretive—residents to complete her assignment. To make matters worse she finds herself forming a forbidden attraction to the enemy-a dangerously handsome German guard. In a place where personal politics are treacherously entangled in wartime policy, can Samantha discover the truth and find Velvet before it’s too late…for them both?

From author Teri Brown comes the thrilling story of one girl’s journey into a deadly world of spycraft and betrayal—with unforgettable consequences.
Why I’m Waiting:
I have never actually read anything by this author before. Though, I may or may not have an ARC of Born of Illusion that I just haven’t gotten to yet. I do know a lot of bloggers love this author. And I also know that this story sounds amazing! The history, the spying, the secret women’s organization, the danger, the suspense, and just about everything about it sounds like a book I’ll need to read.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Good Week in Books (107)

I had a great book week. Thank you, Macmillan for all the amazing books to read/review. Also, I picked up one from Amazon, and it’s getting awfully hard not to stop reading all the books I’m in the middle of to do nothing to but read this one…I have a feeling I will be reading The Heir very soon. I have terrible self-control when Kiera Cass books.

The books:
The Heir by Kiera Cass
From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot
The Truth about Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
Exquisite Corpse by Penelope Bagieu
Broken Hearts, Fences, and other things to Mend by Katie Finn
The Novice by Taran Matharu
Love, Fortunes, and other Disasters by Kimberly Karalius
Kisses and Curses by Fierce Reads (and 15 YA authors)
Velvet by Temple West
How was your week in books?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier

Summary (from Goodreads):
Mysterious doors with lizard-head knobs. Talking stone statues. A crazy girl with a hatchet. Yes, Liv's dreams have been pretty weird lately. Especially the one where she's in a graveyard at night, watching four boys conduct dark magic rituals.

The strangest part is that Liv recognizes the boys in her dream. They're classmates from her new school in London, the school where she's starting over because her mom has moved them to a new country (again). But what's really scaring Liv is that the dream boys seem to know things about her in real life, things they couldn't possibly know--unless they actually are in her dreams? Luckily, Liv never could resist a good mystery, and all four of those boys are pretty cute....
I just about lost it when I learned that Gier was writing another YA series. Seriously, my fangirling reached a whole new level. I absolutely loved her time travel series, and for all I knew that would be it for her. As soon as I heard of this one, I knew I would have to get my hands on it. Thankfully, it was sent to me for review. And I may have had a role in my library ordering a copy as well.
Did I love it as much as Ruby Red? Not quite. However, some of the things I loved about this author’s other books were definitely hanging around in this book too. There’s an interesting family dynamic. I love when families play roles in YA books (and aren’t just not in the picture). I loved Liv’s relationship with her younger sister. It reminded me a lot of a past best friendship. I also loved the girls’ relationship with their au pair. There was plenty of humor and sarcasm too. And the characters, overall, were amazing. This is an author that does not hold back on character development.
I’m not sure I was quite as into the plot or romance as I was before though. The plot was sort of the standard YA paranormal romance (with twists and turns that I was guessing the whole time). Though, there were some Maggie Stiefvater-ish moments that gave it the good kind of paranormal romance vibes. But, still it was a little too normal and not enough unique for my tasting.
And as far as the romance goes, I just wasn’t feeling it. I knew what was coming with the reveal at the end, and I’m not sure I like it. I’m actually hoping for a triangle later in the series, in a weird hope that she ends up with someone else.
There’s some interesting stuff about going into other people’s dreams. There’s also some interesting things about raising demons. There is a heavy supernatural element. I found the boys super interesting. And I kind of wish I got to know more about them, and I have a feeling I will in the later installments. All in all, I really liked this one. I was just hoping for a little more. I give it an 8/10.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (140)

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 Passenger by Alexandra Bracken (1/5/16):

Description on Goodreads:
Violin prodigy Etta Spencer had big plans for her future, but a tragedy has put her once-bright career at risk. Closely tied to her musical skill, however, is a mysterious power she doesn't even know she has. When her two talents collide during a stressful performance, Etta is drawn back hundreds of years through time.

Etta wakes, confused and terrified, in 1776, in the midst a fierce sea battle. Nicholas Carter, the handsome young prize master of a privateering ship, has been hired to retrieve Etta and deliver her unharmed to the Ironwoods, a powerful family in the Colonies--the very same one that orchestrated her jump back, and one Nicholas himself has ties to. But discovering she can time travel is nothing compared to the shock of discovering the true reason the Ironwoods have ensnared her in their web.

Another traveler has stolen an object of untold value from them, and, if Etta can find it, they will return her to her own time. Out of options, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the mysterious traveler. But as they draw closer to each other and the end of their search, the true nature of the object, and the dangerous game the Ironwoods are playing, comes to light -- threatening to separate her not only from Nicholas, but her path home... forever.
Why I’m Waiting:
First off, I love this author. I loved the first two Darkest Minds books. I still haven’t read book 3…I really want to/need to, but for some reason have been postponing it. I sort of have this habit of postponing the finishing of series. But, I’ll get there soon. This author knows how to write action, suspense, and plot twists. So, I know this one will be good too. I also adore the cover. And, to top it all off, it’s a book about a journey across centuries and continents! This sounds right up my alley, and I’m so excited for it to come out.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Re-Read 2015: The Sea of Monsters (audiobook) by Rick Riordan and read by Jesse Bernstein

Summary (from Goodreads):
After a summer spent trying to prevent a catastrophic war among the Greek gods, Percy Jackson finds his seventh-grade school year unnervingly quiet. His biggest problem is dealing with his new friend, Tyson—a six-foot-three, mentally-challenged homeless kid who follows Percy everywhere, making it hard for Percy to have any "normal" friends.

But things don't stay quiet for long. Percy soon discovers there is trouble at Camp Half-Blood: the magical borders which protect Half-Blood Hill have been poisoned by a mysterious enemy, and the only safe haven for demigods is on the verge of being overrun by mythological monsters. To save the camp, Percy needs the help of his best friend, Grover, who has been taken prisoner by the Cyclops Polyphemus on an island somewhere in the Sea of Monsters, the dangerous waters Greek heroes have sailed for millennia—only today, the Sea of Monsters goes by a new name the Bermuda Triangle.

Now Percy and his friends—Grover, Annabeth, and Tyson—must retrieve the Golden Fleece from the Island of the Cyclopes by the end of the summer or Camp Half-Blood will be destroyed. But first, Percy will learn a stunning new secret about his family—one that makes him question whether being claimed as Poseidon's son is an honor or simply a cruel joke.
I’m just buzzing through these audio books.  It’s the first time I’ve re-read this particular book. I remember it being my least favorite in the series. I believe it took me the longest to read, back in the day. It took me a while to like Tyson. And I think I remember telling myself I might not read the rest of the series if book 3 didn’t catch me. Thank goodness, book 3 was my favorite…Now, here I am (maybe 10 years later) re-reading them all. And I actually think I enjoyed this second installment better on audio.
I think part of my initial problem with Tyson was his dialect. It was such a pain to read his dumbed down Cyclops English. On the other hand, listening to his language was no problem at all! I was never taken out of the story I was reading to put it all together. Also, when I was younger I think I found Tyson too one-dimensional and cheesy. And now, I kind of love him. There were moments in my car where I’d go, “Awww,” out loud after hearing about something he did. I also kind of love what he stands for in regards to families, friends, and realizing that different can be good.
There’s still all the action and over-the-top humor of book one. Also, there’s some insane Greek mythology mixed in with the modern day retelling again too. Seriously, if you like Greek mythology at all, I can’t see you not liking these books. They are a little far-fetched in their believability, but really, they are just so much fun to read and revisit again.
I still think book 2 is my least favorite. But, this is only because the real juice of the story isn’t really introduced until the last few pages. The big, major theme of the rest of the books is introduced for books 3-5. And I guess I can kind of see books 1-2 as the sort of fun, fluffier stories made to setup the darker stuff to come.
All in all, I still loved the adventure and the humor. And I guess a little fluffy isn’t bad. Everything from arranged marriages, to giant Cyclops’, to murderous monster sheep, to best friend dream connections, to rescue missions, to epic battles come into play in this book, and there never really was a good place to stop reading/listening.
I’m already on the second disc of book 3 (my favorite), and I’m remembering why it was my favorite. Any way, all of these books are fun and action-packed. I highly recommend them to Greek mythology fans. And I highly recommend the audio to those who want a re-read. I give book two an 8/10.

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Good Week in Books (106)

I had a great book week! I got lots to review (special thanks to Hachett and Macmillan)! I also went to the annual MLA (Massachusetts Library Association) conference to present on an intergenerational project I helped start at my library. While I was there, I of course had to attend the panel about MA authors. I picked up two new books there too, and got them signed. Speaking as someone who has been to many conferences, that was the calmest, most organized one I have ever seen. Hopefully, it’s foreshadow for BEA?
On a side note: I entered the YA book I wrote this past year into a contest, and if it wins it will be published. Cross your fingers for me?

Being Henry David
by Cal Armistead (signed)
Against Football by Steve Almond (signed)
Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein
Before Tomorrowland by Jeff Jensen and Jonathan Case
Watch the Sky by Kirsten Hubbard
The Isle of the Lost by Melissa De La Cruz
The Second Guard by J.D. Vaughn
How was your week in books?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Ms Marvel Volume 2: Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson

Summary (from Goodreads):
Who is the Inventor, and what does he want with the all-new Ms. Marvel and all her friends? Maybe Wolverine can help! Kamala may be fan-girling out when her favorite (okay maybe Top Five) super hero shows up, but that won't stop her from protecting her hometown. Then, Kamala crosses paths with Inhumanity for the first time - by meeting the royal dog, Lockjaw! Every girl wants a puppy, but this one may be too much of a handful, even for a super hero with embiggening powers. But why is Lockjaw really with Kamala? As Ms. Marvel discovers more about her past, the Inventor continues to threaten her future. The fan-favorite, critically acclaimed, amazing new series continues as Kamala Khan proves why she's the best (and most adorable) new super hero there is!
I literally read this in one sitting. There was never a good moment to put it down. I loved volume 1 and as soon as I heard this was out, I knew I had to get my hands on it. There’s just something amazing about a teen Muslim girl superhero learning her powers, fighting evil, and surviving the ordinary family/school/romance problems of any teen. I kind of wish this was a tv show that I could watch on a weekly basis. I liked this second volume even more than the first.
Add a giant/human sized, teleporting bulldog, an extensive Wolverine cameo, some outer space travel/aid, a bad guy shaped as a bird, a whole generation of teenagers needing a rescue from sacrificing themselves, and some crazy cool and better practiced super powers to the mix of the already great setup of volume 1, and can you see why I never put this down?
I like that Kamala has people in her ordinary life that tell her not to stop doing what she is doing, but to get advice and do what she is doing to the best of her ability. I 100% loved the dog. I want one. Also, I love think the whole concept of what the Inventor was doing to be so fascinating, and not really something I’ve seen before.
I want more! I just checked to see when Volume 3 comes out, and it’s relatively soon. Thank goodness. But still. This would make for an awesome tv series. Any way, I loved this book. I give it a 10/10. I recommend it to all graphic novel and comic book fans. Even if you’re not a big graphic novel/comic book reader, but you like YA novels with strong female leads, you’ll also like this one. Give it a try.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (139)

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 Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (10/6/15):

Description on Goodreads:
Rainbow Rowell continues to break boundaries with Carry On, an epic fantasy following the triumphs and heartaches of Simon and Baz from her beloved bestseller Fangirl.

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.
Why I’m Waiting:
Oh my God. I have to tone down my fangirl-esque excitement at the moment enough to write a coherent paragraph. I love this author. She is, in my opinion, one of the best YA contemporary writers out there. Fangirl is one of my all time favorite YA books (and my number one book of 2013. Eleanor and Park was in my number four spot (of the same year!). And while I also enjoyed both of Rowell’s adult fiction novels, her designated spot is so in YA for me. Her YA books are magic. When I first heard the fanfiction the main character in Fangirl was writing, was itself going to be a book, I screamed with joy. I screamed with joy again just now, finally having read the delayed description. I wish the cover got a scream from me too, but it was a little boring for my taste (too adult fiction looking in my opinion). Though, I honestly can’t say there is a book I’m more excited for this year than this one. I need it. If you have not read this author, what are you waiting for? Do it now.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Re-Read 2015: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling

Summary (from Goodreads):
Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His best friends Ron and Hermione have been very secretive all summer and he is desperate to get back to school and find out what has been going on. However, what Harry discovers is far more devastating than he could ever have expected...

Suspense, secrets and thrilling action from the pen of J.K. Rowling ensure an electrifying adventure that is impossible to put down.
So, this is my new least favorite in the series. It’s funny that my favorite has remained the same (book 3), but my least favorite has gone from book 2 to this one (book 5). And I must say right away that even though this is my least favorite, I still 5-starred it on Goodreads. Even the least good in this series is by far superior to most other books out there. Just saying.
It took me a couple of weeks to get through this! Harry is just so whiny/angry/angsty in this novel. I literally finished 3 or so other books in the time it took me to get through this one. And while I knew angst to be a problem in past readings, it’s only really bothered me now. He just kept complaining about Dumbledore not paying him attention, about his best friends not breaking all the rules to fill him in on news over the summer, about the Dursleys, and then about schoolwork, and quidditch, and Umbridge. The complaints never stopped. However, they became much more manageable in the second half of the book when the pure level of action increased tenfold and could distract a re-reader from the whining.
And okay, I may have been purposely postponing getting to a certain point in the end where a certain favorite character of mine dies –giving Harry even more time/reasons to complain. But despite, all this angst, there is so much amazing in this book that I completely forgot about! I forgot about Hagrid’s brother! I forgot about St.Mungo’s and a mini reunion with Professor Lockhart. I forgot about how amazing Dumbledore’s Army was. And of course the best school exit in all literary history: Fred and George’s goodbye to Hogwarts.
There were things I thought I remembered correctly, but loved being re-introduced to and forced into seeing how much more awesome it all is in book format. I thought I remembered how awful Umbridge was. I was wrong. She is way worse in the book than in the movie. I thought I remembered all the crazy amazing moments at the Department of Mysteries. But I was wrong. It was way cooler (again in book format). Why couldn’t the movie have shown all the rooms? Also, why is the longest book (oh yea, this was a monster at 870 pages) the shortest movie? Oh, and all the awkwardness with Cho was a million times more awkward in the book!
Despite all of Harry’s whining, this book still had so many great things going for it. The ending battle at the Ministry between Dumbledore and Voldemort was crazy intense. We finally learn too why Voldemort went after Harry all of those years ago. Also, so much of the O.W.L.S test anxiety was just so spot on for testing time in school. I loved witnessing the magical version of test anxiety. It was worse.
Between Umbridge, mysteries learned about Snape, battles at the ministry, flying across London via thestral, Voldemort mind connecting nightmares, new characters like Luna, Dumbledore’s Army, an amazing exit by my favorite twins, the ever present fear of Voldemort’s return, the test anxiety, the first dates, the sadness, and the anger, there really was just so much going on in this book. And again, there was so much foreshadow of what is to come. I could have used a little less whining, but I still have to give this a 10/10.

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Good Week in Books (105)

I had a nice, little, good week in books. I received two new-finished pretties for review. Thank you, Macmillan! I’ve been pretty good lately at holding back my book purchasing. Mostly, this is due to the fact that I work in a library. But, there are some must-haves I will need to purchase soon that come out in May. And good news of all good news: I’m going to BEA again! So lots of good books are coming soon.

Flirty Dancing by Jenny McLachlan
The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver
How was your week in books?