Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (157)

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 Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine (07/05/16):

Description on Goodreads:
In Ink and Bone, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine introduced a world where knowledge is power, and power corrupts absolutely. Now, she continues the story of those who dare to defy the Great Library—and rewrite history…

With an iron fist, The Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion, forbidding the personal ownership of books in the name of the greater good.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower and doomed to a life apart.

Embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way to London.

But Jess’s home isn’t safe anymore. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon, Jess must choose between his friends, his family, or the Library willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control…
Why I’m Waiting:
Book one is probably one of the most under-rated/not hyped enough YA books I’ve ever read that I think seriously needs more hype. It might have been my favorite book of the year. It was so good, I’ve already convinced 3 coworkers they need to read it (one already has). I cannot get this sequel fast enough. There is so much I need to know. And just the fact that the word, “fire,” is in the title gives me goose bumps. I cannot wait.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, September 28, 2015

A Good Week in Books (118)

I had another good week in books. I received three new pretties for review. Thank you, Macmillan. I’ve already read and reviewed two of them (as ARCS picked up at BEA)…I believe there needs to be a giveaway soon. And the third is one I have been waiting for, so I’m super excited to get my hands on it. Also, the outside of the pages are black. The book looks so cool.

Six of Crows
by Leigh Bardugo
Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales
Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
How was your week in books?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

Summary (from Goodreads):
The queen has returned.

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return.

The fourth volume in the New York Times bestselling series contrinues Celaena's epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.
Ahhh. This book. It’s one of those books that leaves you with a sad feeling when it’s over because, well, it’s over. This was my favorite of the series so far. What a great addition to the series that seems to be taking the YA world by storm.
I’m not sure I rated the other books in this series as highly as everyone else seemed to. I loved them, but I wasn’t loving them as much. Looking back at past reviews, I found some repeat occurrences that equate to personal red flags. I hate characters that boast of being able to do things that you never see them actually doing. Celaena was a lot of talk in the first couple of books. I get that she was enslaved in a labor camp and not her normal, chipper self. But, just being told she was once an assassin wasn’t enough for me. Talking about escaping and killing a room full of people is not the same as actually escaping and killing a room full of people.
Queen of Shadows shows her as the assassin. And oh my goodness, she is a remarkably tough, powerful young woman who can definitely escape and kill a room full of people (and then some). And now I feel as though she’s owned her boasting rights. She was always a strong character for me. She clearly wasn’t ever a damsel, but it was nice to finally be able to see this side and not just hear rumors about it.
The thing I love most about this series as a whole, is the characterization. I learn more about Aelin with each installment. I remember being genuinely surprised to learn who the main character actually was. And then I was more surprised. And I continued to be surprised learning about her assassin history in this book. She’s a complicated character, and my love for her grows the more I learn about her.
I also love the other characters. I love that romance is something that changes and grows; first love isn’t the only love. I wish more books handled romance in this fashion. I love the revenge story. I love the plotting, the action, the build-up, the simmering and slow-building type of romance, the world building, the politics, the evil, the witches, the demon princes, the friendships, the minor side characters, and the magic.  
Maas has proven herself to me to be a master fantasy writer. She’s probably one of my all time favorite YA fantasy writers today. I cannot wait to see where the story goes, who survives, etc. If you like YA fantasy at all, you need to read these books. I give this one a 10/10.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

Summary (from Goodreads):
In her first novel since winning the Newbery Medal, Katherine Applegate delivers an unforgettable and magical story about family, friendship, and resilience.

Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There's no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again.

Crenshaw is a cat. He's large, he's outspoken, and he's imaginary. He has come back into Jackson's life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?

Beloved author Katherine Applegate proves in unexpected ways that friends matter, whether real or imaginary.
This book was not what I was expecting it to be. I was kind of thinking it would be more of a lighter, humorous tale of an older kid with a returning imaginary friend. While a portion of the book deals with the main character’s reoccurring imaginary friend, Crenshaw –the giant cat, it was more about family and poverty.
I guess I didn’t really read what the book was about before diving in. Occasionally, I’ll do crazy things like that. I knew I’d like it. I’ve loved this author since the Animorphs series. She was the number one author I wanted to meet this year at BEA. My ARC of this book is signed! I just wasn’t prepared for the feels. I had a few tears in my eyes, reading this one.
It’s just so understandable and relatable. I can see this happening and know it does happen to a lot of families. I know medical bills can be outrageous. And I know people get fired and laid off all the time. I’ve never read anything on this topic though from the child’s point of view. Jackson’s memories of living in a minivan were so harsh. I really saw it all from his young point of view.
I loved Jackson’s relationship with his sister. He wanted to protect her, but at the same time, he didn’t want to lie to her. Reading about these kids having to give up the few belongings they cherished really melted my heart. This isn’t something I’ve read a lot about. And Applegate wrote it so well. So much can be taken away from this short novel. There’s messages about what in life is most important. There’s so much about family, friendship, and control too.
Crenshaw, if anything, was a small side note to the story. He did make Jackson more likeable to me. What’s not to like about a kid who has a giant cat for an imaginary friend? I also like that there was this thin layer of magical realism. Did Crenshaw really know everyone else’s imaginary friends? Did the dog see him? There was a fine balance between the magical and the logical, yet there was also so much hope. Hope for a better situation, hope for things not being that bad, and hope for some things to remain magical.
I mostly enjoyed this one. I wasn’t expecting the feels, but that’s my own fault for not reading what this book would entail. I also feel like I kept waiting for more story to happen. It was a very character driven novel, which I tend to like. Yet, this one seemed to be missing something. I wanted a little more plot to it than I got. All in all, I really liked it. I give it an 8/10.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (156)

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 Casquette Girls by Alys Arden (11/17/15):

Description on Goodreads:
Seven girls tied by time.
Five powers that bind.
One curse to lock the horror away.
One attic to keep the monsters at bay.


After the storm of the century rips apart New Orleans, sixteen-year-old Adele Le Moyne wants nothing more than her now silent city to return to normal. But with home resembling a war zone, a parish-wide curfew, and mysterious new faces lurking in the abandoned French Quarter, normal needs a new definition.

As the city murder rate soars, Adele finds herself tangled in a web of magic that weaves back to her own ancestors. Caught in a hurricane of myths and monsters, who can she trust when everyone has a secret and keeping them can mean life or death? Unless . . . you’re immortal.
Why I’m Waiting:
I just recently returned from an amazing vacation in New Orleans, where I first learned the myth of the casket girls, on a ghost tour! I wasn’t sure how much fun I’d have on the ghost tour. But seriously, it was a lot of fun. It was a lot of history and facts about the buildings I’d already walked past in the French Quarter. I learned a lot on that tour. And I found the story of the casket girls to be particularly interesting. So, I was super excited to see a YA novel that talked about them. Good timing. Also, I think New Orleans would make the perfect, spooky setting for a YA book.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis and illustrated by Brooke A. Allen

Summary (from Goodreads):
Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley are five best pals determined to have an awesome summer together...and they’re not gonna let any insane quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way!
So, there are two reasons I read this book. One; it’s written by the author of Nimona (one of my favorite books of the year so far). And two; A girl/teacher I made friends with in line at the Boston Comic Con told me I had to read it. I’ve definitely been getting into graphic novels more and more lately. Frankly, there have been some seriously awesome YA and Kids graphic novels that have recently come out. This one seemed like it would be a winner.
Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed. It wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t that good either. In comparison to Nimona, it seriously fell flat. It had a lot of super amazing things going for it too. It deals with summer camp, friendships, mythological mysteries, and adventure. It sort of has the makings of a super amazing middle grade novel.
I think my problem was I kept comparing it to Nimona, which isn’t exactly fair. Also, it was not linear enough for me. It felt kind of like several different, disconnected stories piled together, and I was expecting more of a typical graphic novel format. There wasn’t a ton of things to connect the stories together.
It also kind of felt like the beginning of something good. It read like the first 10th of a Rick Riordan book. There was that much action and adventure, and even humor. There just wasn’t one steady story arc, connecting it all (at least not yet).
The book does have charm. I loved the art. I also adored the friendships and the characters, even the bossy councilor. Some of it made me laugh (like when the boys camp gets involved). It just wasn’t quite enough for me.
All in all, Lumberjanes read like a fun beginning to a series for me, but there wasn’t enough story or connecting aspects within the different stories to make it enough for a novel yet. I did enjoy the setting, the characters, and the sense of humor. And I do think I’ll keep going with it, in hopes of getting that something more. I can see some readers enjoying it a lot more than me. I give it a 7/10.

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Good Week in Books (117)

I had a very nice book week, if I say so myself. I have been a little MIA lately. I was out of town for a bit, visiting with some amazing librarians who I mostly haven’t seen since Library School (five years ago). We went to New Orleans and had a reunion! Before that, I had my mom in town and I’d been nursing one injury or another from what I’m now referring to as my summer of injuries. I feel like I’m finally getting back to my normal routine again. I’m healthy again. Autumn is good for that. It’s also good for apple cider and YA novels.
I bought the first two in the pile. The rest I received for review in the past two weeks. Thank you, Macmillan and Disney.

Princess Knight
by Osuma Tezuka
A School for Brides by Patrice Kindl
Fire Walker by Josephine Angelini
The Trouble in Me by Jack Gantos
Star Wars A New Hope: The Princess, The Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken
Little Robot by Ben Hatke
How was your week in books?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales

Description on Goodreads:
From the author of This Song Will Save Your Life comes a funny and relatable book about the hazards of falling for a person you haven't met yet.

Seventeen-year-old Arden Huntley is recklessly loyal. Taking care of her loved ones is what gives Arden purpose in her life and makes her feel like she matters. But she's tired of being loyal to people who don't appreciate her—including her needy best friend and her absent mom.

Arden finds comfort in a blog she stumbles upon called "Tonight the Streets Are Ours," the musings of a young New York City writer named Peter. When Peter is dumped by the girlfriend he blogs about, Arden decides to take a road trip to see him.

During one crazy night out in NYC filled with parties, dancing, and music—the type of night when anything can happen, and nearly everything does—Arden discovers that Peter isn't exactly who she thought he was. And maybe she isn't exactly who she thought she was, either.
This was another book that seriously resonated with me. I didn’t immediately fall under its charm like I did with This Song Will Save Your Life. I found Arden a little harder to relate to. I’ve never seen myself as selfless as Arden has worked so hard to be. It was kind of like I could never see myself in Abegnation in Divergent; I just don’t think I’m that good. Yet, there’s some thing so great about Sale’s writing style. Even though I didn’t relate to Arden so much (particularly in the beginning), I still got sucked into her life.
The family dynamic of the mom who runs away, fed up with the life she was given/made for herself really reminded me of older period pieces from the 50’s where housewives felt a very similar fate. And I love that the book really worked hard to define what love was. It’s scary to think that anyone like Arden and her mother would so unjustly define it as sacrifice. I don’t think I could have done what Arden did for her best friend in the beginning of the novel. She thinks love is sacrifice, but she’s also really brave and strong to do what she does.
I think I enjoyed the second half of the book a lot more than I did the first. I loved the road trip, the adventures, the drama of it all. I found the first half of the book to be a lot of backdrop and almost too much explanation for why the characters are the way they are. I kind of wish it started in the middle for real and not just for a page. But the second half of the book more than made up for it.
I’m surprised there isn’t more YA out there that covers the topic of fandoms. One of the reasons the book Fangirl was such a hit for me was that it covered unchartered YA territory, and I think this book does a bit of that as well. It’s about a girl who loves a blog and goes as far as finding the writer of the blog and meeting him. I like how Arden found someone who voiced what she was feeling online. That seemed beyond real. And I’m not sure how I feel about people tracking down bloggers…but I like that Arden learned that her blogger wasn’t all he appeared to be. It was an important lesson to learn.
I love how much Arden learned over the course of the novel (a very short moment of time-mostly one night). And I love that it wasn’t about falling in love so much as realizing what love really is. I feel like this was a book that dealt more with friendship, family, and self confidence than it did romance, and that was refreshing as well.
This book wasn’t as powerful as I was hoping it to be. The lessons learned in it were good ones. The characters, if not the most relatable, were very real. I ate it up. I loved it and read it super fast, and had one of those deep breath, “now what?” kind of moments when I finished it. I wish some of the beginning was taken out. But overall, the book stuck with me in a good way. I give it a 9/10.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (155)

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 Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray (11/3/15):

Description on Goodreads:
Ever since she used the Firebird, her parents' invention, to cross into alternate dimensions, Marguerite has caught the attention of enemies who will do anything to force her into helping them dominate the multiverse—even hurting the people she loves. She resists until her boyfriend, Paul, is attacked and his consciousness scattered across multiple dimensions.

Marguerite has no choice but to search for each splinter of Paul’s soul. The hunt sends her racing through a war-torn San Francisco, the criminal underworld of New York City, and a glittering Paris where another Marguerite hides a shocking secret. Each world brings Marguerite one step closer to rescuing Paul. But with each trial she faces, she begins to question the destiny she thought they shared.

The second book in the Firebird trilogy, Ten Thousand Skies Above You features Claudia Gray’s lush, romantic language and smart, exciting action, and will have readers clamoring for the next book.
Why I’m Waiting:
I had so much fun reading the first book. I sort of have a soft spot for books that take place across different worlds/universes. I remember there being a few weird loopholes, but actually not minding them too much because the story was so fun. Also, the covers for these books are just beyond beautiful.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

Summary from Goodreads:
In an exhilarating new series, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time.…

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When he inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn.…
Wow! I’m in such a wonderful place right now, where all the books I’m reading are just amazing. Seriously, for a while there, nothing was speaking to me, and now everything is. This is probably my favorite book of the year (so far). I know I might be a little biased because I’m a librarian, but still the world Caine creates in this book is so interesting, so real, and so terrifying. I could not put this book down.
I can see this book being taught in classrooms. The topics it covers, the debates it can produce, and the questions it makes you ask, make this a book and series to keep your eyes on. I haven’t felt this strongly about a new YA book in a long time.
This is one of those books that as soon as I finished it, I had to tell everyone I know to read it as well. It’s that good. It starts out with a street rat/Aladdin type feel with children running illegal errands and getting caught left and right. And being caught means being killed. I was hooked from page one.
Then, the main character (a son in an affluent black market family) is sent to become a librarian. He’s been running from librarians every day of his life to help his family with illegal information deals, and now his family is asking him to become one. He’s sent to compete with teens from all over the world. He’s in a group of teenagers who scored high on the entrance test, characters from various countries. He has to pass tests, compete, and learn as much as he can so he can be offered a position. Not all the teens survive the tests.
Jess has to survive, do well, and also secretly still work for his family. Little did he know that becoming a librarian would be more dangerous than running books. Nothing is as it seems. He’s literally shoved into a warzone to help the library.
Besides all the action, and there’s a lot of action, there’s all the politics of this world. There’s the burners (aka: the rebels), the black market families, the book eaters, the book perverts, the librarians, etc. And there’s also scary mechanical lions, starvation, genocide, fires, magical/dangerous travel, alchemy, power struggles, secrets, war, and mystery.
In a world where printed books don’t exist (except illegally), and the government is in charge of everything people are allowed to read (on tablet-like devices), everything seems to be in chaos. So much is said about the written word versus the electronic. Even more is said about governments controlling the information of their people. And while this is a fantasy world, with magical elements, I can’t help but notice how possible it feels.
This is one of those books where you are constantly questioning who the good guys and who the bad guys are. You never know who’s safe. I was genuinely surprised by the darkness. And I was shocked by the warzone. I was even surprised by the ending. I cannot wait for the next installment, where I know I will be surprised some more.
This book has already been compared to Harry Potter, The Book Thief, and Farenheit 451. I’d say it’ s a pretty adequate description. I give it a 10/10. I hope more people read and enjoy this and it gets the attention it deserves.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa

Summary from Goodreads:
A captivating and profound debut novel about complicated love and the friendships that have the power to transform you forever, perfect for fans of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Mira is starting over at Saint Francis Prep. She promised her parents she would at least try to pretend that she could act like a functioning human this time, not a girl who can’t get out of bed for days on end, who only feels awake when she’s with Sebby.

Jeremy is the painfully shy art nerd at Saint Francis who’s been in self-imposed isolation after an incident that ruined his last year of school. When he sees Sebby for the first time across the school lawn, it’s as if he’s been expecting this blond, lanky boy with mischief glinting in his eye.

Sebby, Mira’s gay best friend, is a boy who seems to carry sunlight around with him. Even as life in his foster home starts to take its toll, Sebby and Mira together craft a world of magic rituals and impromptu road trips, designed to fix the broken parts of their lives.

As Jeremy finds himself drawn into Sebby and Mira’s world, he begins to understand the secrets that they hide in order to protect themselves, to keep each other safe from those who don’t understand their quest to live for the impossible.
I was so genuinely surprised by and hooked on this book. I knew going into it that the blurbs were misleading and that there wouldn’t necessarily be a bisexual love triangle. So I wasn’t as disappointed by this notion as I might have been otherwise (stupid misleading blurbs). I also knew that the writing style might end up taking me out of the story because the book switches points of view from first person to second person to third person narrative styles (depending on the character). I knew this would be remarkably awesome if it worked, or terribly annoying if it didn’t.
For me, it all worked. I thought this book was so brave. The topics it covered were brave. The characters were brave. And the writing style was so uniquely brave as well. At first, I was a little hesitant (especially with the second person narration). I was taken out of the story by it’s weird shift to that style, but eventually, I just go into the groove of it all, and wow. I was impressed.
This book was a giant feast of difficult teen topics. All is covered: drugs, addiction, depression, suicide, bullying, foster care, love, friendship, friendship with benefits, running away, hospitalization, and probably a few more things I can’t even remember. There are straight characters, gay characters, and seemingly bi characters. There are genuinely caring teachers, unforgiving parents, gay parents, and neglectful foster parents. So much is covered.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen mental illness handled and written about so well. So much of this rang true for me (having grown up with a sibling who is bipolar). The way Mira’s parents saw depression as something that could be cured with fad diets literally had me seething.
Also, I felt so much for these characters. Poor Sebby never had it easy and it was so hard to watch him fall further and further down the wrong path. I loved watching Jeremy try everything again and go back to the school that was so cruel to him. I loved that these characters had each other and that they saw in each other what they saw in themselves. Everyone needs that. And so much of what this whole book comes down to is friendship. The rest is very much about perspective.
I also loved that a tiny piece of the story took place in Provincetown because I live in Cape Cod and I can picture that little adventure so well. I’m not sure there is much of anything I didn’t love. I can see some people having problems with the writing style. You really need to be able to give it a healthy try for more than a quarter or so of the book before it flows naturally. And I can understand why people might not make it.
I loved the writing styles. It was unlike anything I was used to or comfortable with and that made me love it more. I loved the characters. I thought the portrayal of mental illness was spot-on. I found the whole thing so believable. It was never sugar coated with fake optimism. Not all the characters have the bright, shiny endings you expect in a YA book, and I liked how this added to the whole piece. This read like a piece of art and I’m so glad I picked up this ARC at BEA. Pub date is 9/8/15. And I give it a 10/10.