Friday, January 29, 2016

The Ersatz Elevator by Lemony Snicket and read by Tim Curry

Summary from Goodreads:
Dear Reader,

If you have just picked up this book, then it is not too late to put it back down. Like the previous books in A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS, there is nothing to be found in these pages but misery, despair, and discomfort, and you still have time to choose something else to read.

Within the chapters of this story, Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire encounter a darkened staircase, a red herring, some friends in a dire situation, three mysterious initials, a liar with an evil scheme, a secret passageway, and parsley soda.

I have sworn to write down these tales of the Baudelaire orphans so the general public will know each terrible thing that has happened to them, but if you decide to read something else instead, you will save yourself from a heapful of horror and woe.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

It’s so nice to have Tim Curry back as narrator. He’s really become one of my favorite audio book narrators and when I’m done with this series, I may have to go find more books that he has narrated.
I enjoyed this story more than some of the other ones. While the orphans are back to guardian-hopping, as they were in all the other books besides the previous one, where they were sent to boarding school, things are a little bit different. For starters, they have friends they need to rescue. Also, their “friend”/banker, Mr. Poe is actively working to locate the Quagmire triplets (the kidnapped friends) and Count Olaf.
Also, I feel like the adventures the Baudelaire children go on and the risks they take, are getting tougher and scarier. The kids are getting tougher and braver, and dare I say a little wiser. They now know not to always jump out with the Olaf suspicions. They know about gathering evidence. And they certainly know that adults won’t believe them at their word, ever.
I like that the author doesn’t sugar coat wealth. The kids are unfortunate, living in a shed filled with crabs; yet, they are also unfortunate living in a gigantic penthouse apartment with their own rooms. At least the crab-ridden orphan shack didn’t have Esme.
There’s also the every growing mystery of VFD. What do those letters stand for? There’s also hints starting to grow about the fire that killed the Baudelaire parents, not being all that it seemed to be. And then of course, there’s all the playing with words like the statue of the red herring actually being a red herring.
I really enjoyed this one. The suspense was great. The wit and humor keep growing with each installment. There was a little plot twist that surprised me. And I’m so curious to know how everything is all connected. I give this one an 8/10.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl # 2: Squirrel You Know It's True by Ryan North

Summary from Goodreads:
The breakout character of 2015 continues her one-woman crusade against injustice and jerks! These TAILS of the Squirrel Girl will show you the Marvel Universe's most powerful super hero from a bunch of brand-new perspectives, several of them QUITE ASTONISHING. COLLECTING: THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL 5-8
I love these comics. So far, there’s only been two volumes, but I can easily see this becoming a huge series. Aka: I want this to be a huge series, so bad.
The first part was all about these hostages stuck in the Statue of Liberty. One of them was Squirrel Girl’s roommate. She kept trying to calm everyone down by letting them know that Squirrel Girl was on her way. All the hostages had their own (most likely too strange to be real) stories about the super hero.
The rest of the volume is about saving the world from a Norse mythology type apocolypse. Ratatoskr, the evil Norse God of squirrels, is causing all kinds of problems. Thor and Loki come to play in this one! And so do a few new heroes: Chipmunk Hunk and Koi Boi.
The action in this is the standard superhero fare. However, everything in here is hilarious. Between the Twitter feeds with Iron Man, the Dead Pool flashcards, the fan fiction comic: Cat Thor, the evil squirrel, and the witty comments at the bottom of each page, I was pretty much always smiling, if not laughing.
I liked the second part of the book better than the first. The first part was creative and a good way to show that other people have heard of Squirrel Girl, but it just wasn’t as fun as the parts with Thor. I love how involved the roommate character has become. I love that Loki agreed to look like Cat Thor and that we got to see the fan fiction comic, on notebook paper no less.
This is one smart, funny, new super hero. And I’m so glad I found out about it on Goodreads. I recommend it to fans of Ms. Marvel. I give it a 9/10.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (173)

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 This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (6/7/16):

Description on Goodreads:
The city of Verity has been overrun with monsters, born from the worst of human evil. In North Verity, the Corsai and the Malchai run free. Under the rule of Callum Harker, the monsters kill any human who has not paid for protection. In the South, Henry Flynn hunts the monsters who cross the border into his territory, aided by the most dangerous and darkest monsters of them all—the Sunai, dark creatures who use music to steal their victim’s souls.

As one of only three Sunai in existence, August Flynn has always wanted to play a bigger role in the war between the north and the south. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate Harker, daughter of the leader of North Verity, August jumps on it.
When Kate discovers August’s secret, the pair find themselves running for their lives and battling monsters from both sides of the wall. As the city dissolves into chaos, it’s up to them to foster a peace between monsters and humans.

A unique, fast-paced adventure that looks at the monsters we face every day—including the monster within.
Why I’m Waiting:
How cool does this plot sound? It reminds me vaguely of Laini Taylor’s books. Yet, it also has this civil war (north v south) feel. It sounds awesome. I also love the cover. I have to admit I have yet to read a book by Victoria Schwab. I have read nothing but good things about her. And I might even own some of her earlier works. I just haven’t gotten there yet. And well, I may have to start with this one.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Summary from Goodreads:
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.
This book has been on my radar for quite some time. The good reviews for it are endless. But, also, I have coworkers, patrons, and friends who have all told me to read it. I purchased the book from my favorite independent bookstore in Chicago (Women and Children First) when I was visiting family over the holidays. I guess I just knew I had to be prepared for a most-likely-to-be-sad kind of book, or in the very least a book that dealt with some serious issues. I was waiting for the right moment to read it.
I’m not sure I waited long enough. I did love this book. I see why there are so many rave reviews. The writing, the characters, the sadness, and the realness of this book are so spot-on. I read it extremely quickly. It’s one of those books where I was up until 3 am reading, even though I get up at 5:30 to get ready for work (4:30 if I’m going to the gym). I couldn’t go to sleep when there was such a major question that needed to be answered.
This is one of those books that will keep you up until 3 am on a workday. It’s the kind of book that sits with you, settles with you, and won’t leave you alone. To be honest, it’s the kind of book that keeps me blogging and reading like I do. I’m always looking for this kind of book.
It was a sad one. My only qualm is I wish I did read it maybe a few months to a year later than I did. The book has a lot of tough issues in it: death, grief, drinking, mental illness and suicide. It hit a little too close to home for me because I lost someone due to suicide this past year. And reading about these characters and everything they were going through involving this topic, brought back a lot of emotions and pain for me.
On the other hand, I think it’s so important and wonderful that this book exists. Clearly, the author got a lot of things right on this topic and how people feel surrounding such a topic. I related so closely to how one of the characters was feeling that there was literally a point where I had to put the book down and distance my brain from theirs.
Needless to say, I was an emotional mess reading this. And I’m so glad I read it at home and not in public, where someone would most likely assume something was terribly wrong with me. Maybe I should have read it a little bit later, so I wasn’t quite as emotional. However, it also felt good to read this and know I’m not alone in my thoughts and reactions.
All in all, this is a powerful book. The writing is superb. The characters are so real, I literally confused myself with one of them. Also, how am I not supposed to fall in love with characters that quote Virginia Wolfe and Dr. Seuss? It was an emotional read, to say the least. I loved it. I give it a 10/10.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

El Deafo by Cece Bell

Summary from Goodreads:
Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece's class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends.

Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school--in the the teacher's the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But the funny thing about being a superhero is that it's just another way of feeling different... and lonely. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend?

This funny perceptive graphic novel memoir about growing up hearing impaired is also an unforgettable book about growing up, and all the super and super embarrassing moments along the way.
I’ve really grown to love graphic novels. It’s books like this one that easily explain why this is so. I just loved this story. I loved reading from this perspective. The main character was deaf. She also kept envisioning herself as a comic book hero. She was a smart main character with just the perfect amount of sarcasm. What’s not to love?
I loved the ins and outs of all her friendships. The problems that arose with her friends are problems that any friends might go through (deaf or no), and that’s what’s really special here. This book can be relatable to anyone who has ever felt different. And let’s be honest, isn’t that everyone?
I felt for Cece when she had a friend who took advantage of her. And I felt so bad when another friend just seemed to up and leave for no good reason. I know what it’s like to go to a new school where everyone else already seems to look like they belong. These are all such universal pre-teen problems. And reading about them in this format was a nice change of pace from a typical book. Also, the characters all being rabbits allowed for me to distance myself just enough from it all that none of the embarrassing moments were too embarrassing to read.
Of course, there were also the deaf specific problems –like not understanding what was happening on tv or being able to listen to music with the neighborhood kids. Watching Cece overcome such problems and learn to accept and love who she was, was just so empowering and wonderful to read. I also feel like I took away a thing or two about hearing aids and deaf culture. And it was so nice to learn about. It’s not very often where I get to read from such a unique perspective.
The artwork was adorable. Like I said before, I liked that I could distance myself from the rabbit characters and not ever feel like I couldn’t keep going when stuff got too “real.” It’s also super colorful. All the daydreams of being a superhero were so much fun to look at and added an almost fantasy element to the whole thing. All in all, this was a great one. I give it a 9/10.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (172)

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 A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (5/3/16):

Description on Goodreads:
Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court--but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms--and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future--and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas's masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.
Why I’m Waiting:
I just finished reading the first book, and while nothing can be as good as the Throne of Glass series, I really enjoyed reading it. Seriously, Maas is a force to be reckoned with. I will need to own all of her books, probably always. I cannot wait to continue on with this story and see how awesome Feyre is now. Is it May yet?
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, January 18, 2016

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Summary from Goodreads:
A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it... or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!
I’m not sure why it took me so long to get to this one. I love Sarah J. Maas. And Beauty and the Beast is my favorite of all the fairytales. You’d think a combo of those things would equal instant read for me, but somehow it kept getting pushed back. I’m a little glad it did because it took me a little time to read. And I sometimes DNF for later, books I know I won’t be able to finish for a long time. I’m glad I read this one now when I could afford a more leisurely pace.
I’m going to be honest. I took me a little bit of time to get into this one. It moves very slowly for the first half of the book. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Here, it was important because of the world building. Maas is an expert world-builder. Her juxtaposition of the fairy world and the normal world were just so beautiful. Really, the writing in this book was pure beauty. However, it took me a long time to read because of this slowness.
I guess, for me, I’d become used to a certain level of action and pace with this author, so this came as a bit of a surprise. The pacing was very slow.
I did love the characters. I love this author’s ability to develop characters as she goes. I don’t seriously get to know anyone right away or in any kind of info dump, anywhere. She spreads her character traits and secrets over time. There were things I learned at the very end, and I love this. I love being surprised. But more than that, I love getting to know a person over time. It makes me feel like I know them better.
A lot goes down in the last quarter of the book. So, while it was easy to put the book down while reading the first ¾, the last bit was un-put-down-able. And I guess in the long run, it felt a tiny bit rushed. So much was leading up to what to Feyre was capable at the end and then, when the end finally happened, it happened kind of quickly.
All in all, I enjoyed this one but I didn’t love it as much as the author’s other series. It moved a lot more slowly. Not a lot happens in the beginning of the story, and the end of the story holds most of the action. The action at the end felt a little rushed. However, the world building and the character development in this one were pure magic. I loved seeing what else Maas was capable of. And I’m definitely excited for the next installment. I give this one an 8/10.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket

Dear Reader,

If you are looking for a story about cheerful youngsters spending a jolly time at boarding school, look elsewhere. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are intelligent and resourceful children, and you might expect that they would do very well at school. Don't. For the Baudelaires, school turns out to be another miserable episode in their unlucky lives.

Truth be told, within the chapters that make up this dreadful story, the children will face snapping crabs, strict punishments, dripping fungus, comprehensive exams, violin recitals, S.O.R.E., and the metric system.

It is my solemn duty to stay up all night researching and writing the history of these three hapless youngsters, but you may be more comfortable getting a good night's sleep. In that case, you should probably choose some other book.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

I love that this book finally veered a little from the standard story arc. The kids finally had an opportunity to talk with other children, and make friends. Of course, the school was so absurd I couldn’t imagine any adult sending their children there. Also, I keep wishing Child Protective Services would get involved. I mean, seriously, these kids have been put through ridiculous amounts of child labor, neglect, and tragedy. And poor Sunny, the infant, has to work as a administrative assistant –who is required to make her own staples…
I kind of have found myself getting used to this absurd world though. I find myself nodding along to the narrator’s explanations for things like classes that only involve measuring objects or punishments involving no silverware at meal times, or shacks specifically designated for orphans. I’ve become so accustomed to the writing style and voice of the narrator, and I love this. And I love the narrator.
The one thing I still can’t nod along with though, is Mr. Poe.  Why is it so hard for him to recognize Count Olaf? Is he maybe partially blind?
I loved the triplets the children befriended. I loved the school setting. I loved the closeness that keeps growing between the siblings. I love how other adult characters can use logic and seem to sometimes just be there to point out how awful and non logical other adult characters are. The teachers (like the judge and some of the factory workers in books prior) did not see why it was necessary to expel the children. They were very impressed by how intelligent the kids were. I truly believe that if the kids had anyone but Mr. Poe, they’d be in a much healthier living arrangement by now.
This one also ended with a fun, different kind of cliffhanger. I’m super excited to see where things go from here. I think this installment was one of my favorites. I give it a 9/10.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (171)

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 Remembrance by Meg Cabot (2/2/16):

Description on Goodreads:
In REMEMBRANCE, the seventh installment of the Mediator series, all Susannah Simon wants is to make a good impression at her first job since graduating from college (and becoming engaged to Dr. Jesse de Silva).

But when she stumbles across an ancient murder, old ghosts—and ex-boyfriends—aren’t all that come back to haunt her.

Why I’m Waiting:
I love this series. And I have loved Meg Cabot since little, tween me first read The Princess Diaries. It’s one of those series that I’ve re-read several times over the years. It’s just so much fun. I know Cabot writes excellent adult books too, so I’m super curious to see this adult addition to one of my absolute favorite YA series. Also, she’s marrying Jesse? My heart just leaped out of my chest, kind of. I cannot wait for February!
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, January 11, 2016

A Good Week in Books (127) - The ALA Midwinter 2016 Edition

I had an unbelievably amazing week in books. My awesome library director allowed a whole bunch of the staff to pick a day of the Midwinter conference to attend. I’d been to an ALA Annual conference before and I know those are insane, but this was Midwinter, and I just didn’t think it would be anywhere close to that.
Mostly, I was right. It was a small fraction of the size, with a small fraction of the amount of panels, discussions, and exhibits. However, it was just so calm and peaceful. Maybe I’m comparing it too much to BEA, which I’ve been going to for a few years now in NYC. But seriously, Midwinter was like a nice, slow Alice in Wonderland tea party compared to the sometimes Hunger Games type atmosphere of BEA. And the best part? There were books everywhere!
I didn’t need to time my exhibit hall strolling/mad dashing to be at the right place for the right book drop. Books stayed dropped for a long time. And if I missed a drop, I asked for a certain book and then was 3 times out of 4, given that book. The people at the booths were all friendly (minus one publishing company, which never seems to have friendly people, ever). And while I wish there were more discussions and panels about Youth Services or Children’s and YA literature, the ones that did exist were excellent. All in all, I was happily surprised. I wish I was a bit more prepared for the book haul I trucked home with me, but really, that’s a first world problem. I cannot complain about a thing.
I knew I found my home away from home when the first booth I looked at featured an author signing, and a friendly person asking if I wanted to meet Margaret Peterson Haddix…Would anyone say no? There were two people in front of me and I was immediately handed a hard cover of her new book to have signed, and well, I knew it would be a good conference. I only attended one day. I'm sure there would be more books if I went for the whole thing.
The beauties:

Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan (!!!!!!!!!!!)
A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke
Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
Wax  by Gina Damico
Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor
See How They Run by Ally Carter
Bluescreen by Dan Wells
Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman
How to Stop Your Grownup from Making Bad Decisions by Judy Balan
Essential Maps for the Lost by Deb Caletti
Shuffle, Repeat by Jen Klein
A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee
Booked by Kwame Alexander
Heir to the Sky by Amanda Sun
Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black
A Totally Awkward Love Story by Tom Ellen and Ivison (signed)
Once Was a Time by Leila Sales
Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard by Jonathan Auxier (signed)
The Gallery by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
Under their Skin by Margaret Peterson Haddix
How was your week in books?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

Summary on Goodreads:
Cammie Morgan is a student at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a fairly typical all-girls school-that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE and the latest in chemical warfare in science, and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes in computer class. The Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses but it's really a school for spies. Even though Cammie is fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways, she has no idea what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she's an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, or track him through town with the skill of a real "pavement artist"-but can she maneuver a relationship with someone who can never know the truth about her?

Cammie Morgan may be an elite spy-in-training, but in her sophomore year, she's on her most dangerous mission-falling in love.
This sounds weird, but I couldn’t remember a single detail of this book. I believe I’ve read it before, maybe 9 or 10 years ago…I do remember a lot of details from this author’s other series: Heist Society. I absolutely adored the Heist Society books. I’m not sure why I never went back and continued with this earlier series. However, I’ve come to realize I now own all but the last book in this series, so why not give it a go?
It was a lot of fun to read. And I read it super fast (one day fast). However, I’m pretty sure I would have loved it more 10 year ago. It’s not that I didn’t like it now; it’s just that there’s a lot of the older YA tropes happening here and I while they are annoying and formulaic now, I’m sure back then they wouldn’t have been.
I still ate it up. The concept itself is pretty amazing. Though, it’s a bit reminiscent of the Finishing School series by Carriger, which I just finished. Of course, this book came first, but I couldn’t help making comparisons between the two schools, which made for some sereious epic settings. And well, one school hides in plane site as a school for wealthy kids and the other book has a school that hides in the sky on a giant balloon…Why do you think sounds cooler?
Any way, it was still super fun reading about about spy classes and spy lunches, where the characters are only allowed to speak in whatever foreign language of the day is given to them. I also loved the characters. The main character was believable. The two best friends were pretty awesome. The new girl (who starts off mean) was also pretty interesting. Though the whole “mean girl” idea was one of those things I was tired of reading about.

I loved the mother/daughter dynamic. The mother of the main character is in charge of the school. I loved their relationship. Though, I want to know more about what happened to her dad. My guess is I’ll learn this later.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the insta-love romance. I also don’t get how quite as bad with boys the main character is. Shouldn’t one of the classes be about seduction (like it is in the Finishing School books)? I feel like a very important element of spying is being neglected here. Though, the main character’s constant thinking of the boy and crushing were super believable for me. I just wish everything involving said boy could have been handled a lot better, and maybe have built up over a longer period of time. And honestly, I was super disappointed in how stuff ended with him at the end, but it certainly leaves things interesting.
All in all, this was a fast-paced, girly, spy-school book. It was a lot of fun to read. There were a few things I’ve seen before (though this book came out 10 years ago and maybe started the trends). I loved the characters, but I was not a fan of the romance. I’m excited to see where things go with the series because I know this author can be amazing. I give this first one a 7/10.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (170)

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 Dream On by Kerstin Gier (5/3/16):

Description on Amazon (there isn’t one posted to Goodreads yet):
Things seem to be going well for Liv Silver: she's adjusting to her new home (and her new family) in London; she has a burgeoning romance with Henry Harper, one of the cutest boys in school; and the girl who's been turning her dreams into nightmares, Anabel, is now locked up. But serenity doesn't last for long.

It seems that Liv's troubles are far from over--in fact, suddenly they're piling up. School gossip blogger Secrecy knows all of Liv's most intimate secrets, Henry might be hiding something from her, and at night Liv senses a dark presence following her through the corridors of the dream world. Does someone have a score to settle with Liv?
Romance, adventure, and danger abound in Dream On, the second book in the Silver trilogy.

Why I’m Waiting:
The Ruby Red Trilogy is one of my all time favorite YA series. I loved it. I want to re-read it now that I’m talking about it.  While, the first book in this new series could in no way compare, it was a lot of fun to read. I’m excited to see where the story goes. And let’s face it, because of Ruby Red, I will read all the things this author comes out with.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, January 4, 2016

A Good week in Books (126)

Happy New Year everyone!
I read above and beyond both my reading challenges of the year. I wanted to read 80 books, and I read 90. I also wanted to re-read 15 books, and I re-read 17. I set a new goal for this year to read 90 books. And for the first time, possibly since I started blogging, I don’t think I’m going to set another goal and just read more of what I want to be reading. I want to read more middle grade, more graphic novels, and more excellent YA, and I think I will accomplish this without a bonus challenge.
What are your challenges?
I also have the world’s sweetest boyfriend. If you follow my blog, you read that I left my much-loved signed copy of Sword of Summer on my plane in Boston. I was in the middle of it, too! It was really just one of those awful, delayed, miserable flying experiences everyone seems to have lately. I was so happy to have finally made it home that I somehow left my treasured book behind.  I filled out a lost item form and even talked to live people about it at the airport, but I knew it was gone. I get weekly emails from the airline saying they are still looking… Any way, my sweet boyfriend found a signed copy on eBay and surprised me with it this weekend! How sweet is he? I also got one book for review. Thank you, Hyperion.

The Sword of Summer
by Rick Riordan
Starflight by Melissa Landers
How was your week in books?

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Summary from Goodreads:
Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he’s tracked down by a man he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. The man tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.

The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .
This was even better than I was expecting it to be! Seriously, what a fun, hilarious, Norse adventure. I have to admit that I was getting a little tired of the Percy Jackson formula. And while there are things in this book that are in the past formulas (quests, mini quests, deals with the gods, etc.) there were also some truly unique aspects to this new series that I was not expecting at all.
To start, the main character is homeless. He also (in the very beginning – I promise I’m not spoiling anything) dies. The main character is dead. How cool is that? He even gets to witness his own funeral. Also, in the very first pages, there is Annabeth (my favorite character from past series)! So, right away, this book had a lot of things going for it.
Also, I loved the Norse mythology. I have to admit that I don’t know a ton about Norse mythology, besides some probably wrong things from certain superhero movies and the inspiration I know that lead to the The Lord of the Rings, so a lot of the stories and myth were brand new for me.
I loved the side characters, like the fashion obessed dwarf (Blitz) and the deaf, magic learning elf (Hearthstone). There’s also Sam, the Valkyrie who brought Magnus to Valhalla. She is so cool. She reminds me a little bit of Thalia Grace from the past series. Though, she’s certainly not afraid of heights.
All the details about Valhalla, the tree that goes to all the worlds, death, the end of the world, the Norse gods, and magical objects (like Magnus’ sword) were just so amazingly fun to read. This is Rick Riordan at his best. And of course the book is action-packed. From sea journeys, to battling giants, to helping Thor, to dreaming of Loki, to learning about Odin, to battles with hallmates, to confronting Valkyries, there is never a dull moment.
Also, the humor was so good. It was a little more sarcastic and a little less cheesy than the humor of the earlier books. Magnus is a lot darker and wittier than Percy, Leo, or Jason. And I actually routinely found myself laughing out loud. The chapter titles alone had me laughing.
And Riordan dedicates the book to Cassandra Clare! He thanks her for sharing the name, Magnus! How cool is that?
I cannot wait to see what happens next in this series. There was quite an interesting end there with Loki. And I’m curious to see how the different mythologies (Greek, Roman, and Norse) might possibly connect. All in all, I loved this. I give it 10/10.