Monday, October 31, 2016

A Good Week in Books (145)

I had a nice, little book week. Strangely, I didn’t finish a single book this week. I’ve mostly just been busy with work and the boyfriend and friends. Though, I made a lot of headway in my audio book listening (while driving to work, boyfriend, and friends). But, also, I’m not really feeling the book I’m reading. I might have to try a new one soon. Also, I think my reading may get a whole lot slower in November because I’m attempting NaNoWriMo again. Wish me luck?
Any way, I received two new pretties for review (with oddly similar color schemes). Thank you, Macmillan!

Blood Red Snow White by Marcus Sedgwick
A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith
How was your week in books?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Summary from Goodreads:
Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.
This book resonated so strongly with me. As did Niven’s first YA book. I kind of bought it on a whim (shoot, I’m pretty sure I forgot to include it in my A Good Week in Books post…oh well). Basically, I had a nice, lazy, day to run errands and shop for what I needed before meeting up with my boyfriend for a dinner date. I finished the book I had been reading at lunch-time. I had a couple of hours to spare and there was a handy local bookstore just sitting there, with this book on display.
Before I knew it, I had a couple of minutes to get to the restaurant and I had read almost half the book. I connected to Libby on so many levels. I was once picked on for being a little more overweight than my middle school peers. And since those years, my weight has been up and down. I’m currently on a whole “no carbs/low sugar” diet/way of life. And it felt like the perfect time to pick up a book with some one else changing their eating way of life too.  While, I have never been as overweight as Libby, I felt for her and felt like I understood her. And my guess is most women probably will.
I also ended up liking Jack way more than I was expecting to. I felt so much empathy for him and what he felt he couldn’t share with his family. It reminded me of this kid I knew in elementary school who kind of kept getting away without knowing how to read. Jack was able to pretend to not have a neurological disorder, but he got into so much trouble for things that could have been avoided, if people knew about it. He pretty much stayed with this awful girlfriend for so long because it was usually really easy for him to recognize her (“usually” being the operative word).
I liked that Libby and Jack could share what was really going on with each other. But, I also like that Libby was healing first without Jack. She had lost hundreds of pounds before even starting school up again. And I loved how brave she was. Jack was never as brave as Libby. In fact, he came off as cruel a lot of the time. And while he disorder didn’t excuse him for being a jerk, it did clear up a lot of things for me. And I like that Libby made him want to not be a jerk.
I loved the characters’ relationships with their families (particularly Libby and her dad). There was a nice balance between school, family, romance, and healing.
I was kind of expecting this book to be as emotionally rollercoaster-ish as the first YA book by this author. It wasn’t though. It was actually a lot more upbeat. And I loved this about it. I loved how unexpectedly fun and witty it was. I wasn’t expecting to read it so quickly either. All in all, I was very impressed. I give it a 9/10.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (208)

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 Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh (5/2/2017):

Description on Goodreads:
The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor's favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family's standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she's quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she's ever known.
Why I’m Waiting:
Well, this sounds awesome. Also, I absolutely adored the author’s first series. I’ve even given her books as presents. They are so good. Her writing is beautiful. Her characters are all interesting and seriously flawed. And I can’t wait to see what new things will pop up with this new story.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Love, Lucy by April Lindner

Summary from Goodreads:
While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food...and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician. After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her "vacation flirtation." But just because summer is over doesn't mean Lucy and Jesse have to be, does it?

In this stunning novel, April Lindner perfectly captures the highs and lows of a summer love that might just be meant to last beyond the season.
I really enjoyed this one. It’s the kind of summer romance turned real life fairytale that most girls dream about, growing up. Add the beautiful Italy setting and the little bit of family drama to prevent Lucy from doing what makes her happy, and well, this story was kind of just what I wanted. I also love this author. I love that she retells the classics with a modern YA flare.
This one is based off of: A Room With a View by E.M. Forster. And I have to admit that I have never read this one. I have seen the movie a long time ago. This book makes me want to read the original. It makes me want to re-watch the movie. And it makes me want to watch Roman Holiday, a movie that keeps popping up throughout the story. I actually already requested the movie from my library. I’ll have to have a nice glass of Italian wine and watch it one night.
I liked the forced friendship between Lucy and Charlene. It was clear they weren’t meant to be friends, and I feel like we have all had “friends” like that before. I also found Lucy a tad bit naïve, and while this usually marks a red flag in a character for me, I still end up liking her. I liked that she had a lot of learning to do. And she seemed quite capable of at least making friends that weren’t as naïve and could help lead her in the right direction.
Her interest in theater was great. Though, I kind of wished she worked harder at it. Yes, she has a stage fright thing going for her. She can’t be completely perfect. But, I never saw her really practicing a part. And I while I know some people just have charisma or whatever, I feel like she’d need to practice/work a little harder too.
The love triangle was very believable. It’s understandable that Lucy would think her summer romance in Florence would stay a summer romance in Florence. And I kind of understand her need to find someone more a-typical and normal in her college life. But, it was also clear to me and everyone around Lucy, that she just wasn’t over her summer thing yet.
All in all, this Italian romance was a light, fluffy YA contemporary. I enjoyed it more than I was expecting to. And it was a great book to settle down with on a windy fall evening. I give it a 9/10.

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Good Week in Books (144)

I had a nice little book week. I also had a birthday! I’m kind of recovering from a long weekend of dinners, plays, friends, presents, and sweets. Such a hard life I lead…I did come across a good used book. And I received four new ones for review (Thank you, Macmillan!)
The pretties:

Snow Like Ashes
by Sara Raasch
Kiss Cam by Kiara London
The Wolf Keepers by Elise Broach
Tetris by Box Brown
How was your week in books?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (207)

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 Waste of Space by Gina Damico (7/11/2017):

Description on Goodreads:
Cram ten hormonal teens into a spaceship and blast off: that’s the premise for the ill-conceived reality show Waste of Space. The kids who are cast know everything about drama—and nothing about the fact that the production is fake. Hidden in a desert warehouse, their spaceship replica is equipped with state-of-the-art special effects dreamed up by the scientists partnering with the shady cable network airing the show.       And it’s a hit! Millions of viewers are transfixed. But then, suddenly, all communication is severed. Trapped and paranoid, the kids must figure out what to do when this reality show loses its grip on reality. 
Why I’m Waiting:
First off, I need more Gina Damico in my life. I just finished Wax, and it was amazing. I also loved the Croak books. I know this one be full of sarcasm, humor, and banter. I also know there will be fantastic characters. Throw in this whole reality tv show in space thing and well, I know this will have to be un-put-down-able.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Wax by Gina Damico

Summary from Goodreads:
Paraffin, Vermont, is known the world over as home to the Grosholtz Candle Factory. But behind the sunny retail space bursting with overwhelming scents and homemade fudge, seventeen-year-old Poppy Palladino discovers something dark and unsettling: a back room filled with dozens of startlingly life-like wax sculptures, crafted by one very strange old lady. Poppy hightails it home, only to be shocked when one of the figures—a teenage boy who doesn’t seem to know what he is—jumps naked and screaming out of the trunk of her car. She tries to return him to the candle factory, but before she can, a fire destroys the mysterious workshop—and the old woman is nowhere to be seen.

With the help of the wax boy, who answers to the name Dud, Poppy resolves to find out who was behind the fire. But in the course of her investigation, she discovers that things in Paraffin aren’t always as they seem, that the Grosholtz Candle Factory isn’t as pure as its reputation—and that some of the townspeople she’s known her entire life may not be as human as they once were. In fact, they’re starting to look a little . . . waxy. Can Poppy and Dud extinguish the evil that's taking hold of their town before it’s too late?
I forgot how much I love this author. I kept delaying my reading of Wax. I’ve had an ARC of it all year (pretty much). First, I wanted to read it closer to its pub date. Then that passed, and I wanted to wait till closer to Halloween, thinking it was more of a horror type story. While, there are definitely horror type elements at play here, this was so much more of a fluffy comedy than anything else.
I loved this. I kept laughing out loud while reading it. The characters were wonderful and flawed in ways that were so believable. Poor Poppy had gone through so much extreme embarrassment that I couldn’t help but feel total and complete empathy for her. Throw in some crazy sarcasm, an obsession with musical theater, and a near constant witty banter with a best friend character, and well, this book was just what I needed.
Poppy’s family was pretty great too. I loved that her parents were both yoga instructors obsessed with eating healthy and watching this eating healthy reality tv show. I loved them and their flaws. Like, they were totally accepting of Poppy bringing home a live wax dummy/ “foreign exchange student” when she lied and he said he was from an island off of Africa.
Nothing ever got really scary for me. I guess all the stuff with the immortals, the Madame Tussauds connection, and the wax just felt so far-stretched to me, that it always came off as more funny than scary. And in this case, funny worked. I had so much fun reading about Poppy and her theater crew saving the town from evil. What a crazy, fun, hilarious concept.
And while I’m normally a big fan of romance, it was kind of nice to have a supernatural type YA story that didn’t have any of it. I kept waiting for a certain couple to actually become a couple, and it didn’t really happen. And I’m kind of glad for the higher emphasis on friendship.
The one thing I could have lived without is the epilogue.  The epilogue was too much. Also, I hated the final ending for Poppy. Maybe the final copy of the book doesn’t have it?
All in all, I loved this. The characters were amazing. The banter was spot-on. I loved the humor and the sarcasm. The setting was both believable and over-the-top in a good way. The emphasis on family and friendship was great too. I give this a 9/10.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Every Move by Ellie Marney

Summary from Goodreads:
Rachel Watts is suffering from recurring nightmares about her near-death experience in London. She just wants to forget the whole ordeal, but her boyfriend, James Mycroft, is obsessed with piecing the puzzle together and anticipating the next move of the mysterious Mr Wild - his own personal Moriarty.

So when Rachel's brother, Mike, suggests a trip back to their old home in Five Mile, Rachel can't wait to get away. Unfortunately it's not the quiet weekend she was hoping for with the unexpected company of Mike's old school buddy, the wildly unreliable Harris Derwent.

Things get worse for Rachel when Harris returns to Melbourne with them - but could Harris be the only person who can help her move forward? Then a series of murders suggests that Mr Wild is still hot on their tails and that Mycroft has something Wild wants - something Wild is prepared to kill for.

Can Watts and Mycroft stay one step ahead of the smartest of all criminal masterminds? The stage is set for a showdown of legendary proportions...
I’ve had a blast reading this series. This book was so hard to get my hands on. I had to special-order it from Australia because apparently it wasn’t ever sold here? And it took weeks to get to me. It was hard waiting to read this after the super dark and disturbing end of book 2.
I did not like this last installment as much as I liked the second. It’s weird because I feel like I didn’t like the first book as much as the rest of the world. Then, I got what everyone was talking about with book 2. And then this one happened, and I was a little disappointed. I still enjoyed it. It’s rare that I like the sequel more than the first and third books.  I did not read it as quickly as I was wanting to. It took me over a week to read! I think I read book 2 in one sitting.
There’s the good, the bad, and the ugly here. The good is all the focus on family! I loved watching Watts’ mother slowly come to terms with her daughter growing up. I loved Watts’ relationship with her brother. I also loved that Mycroft had the opportunity to work on his relationship with his family. So much of the family element was missing in book 2, when the main characters went to London. And I missed it.
I also loved the darkness again. Nothing that happened in London was forgotten, sugar-coated or passed over. Watts and Mycroft are both dealing with the after-effects of some serious stuff that went down. There are both mental and physical after-effects and I like that these were taken seriously. I also love that watts decided she needed to learn self-defense. I liked that she was taking some power into her own hands here. I also liked that she knew what she could and couldn’t handle in regards to Mycroft continuing his digging.
I hated Harris’s character. No scratch that. I didn’t hate him. I hated the weird love triangle he was supposed to start up. I really wish there wasn’t a love triangle here. I can sometimes be a mega love triangle fan too. Here, it just didn’t work. It was thrown in randomly in the last book for no real reason, in my opinion, but to add some un-needed drama to an already dramatic situation.
And now for the ugly: I also hated the lack of mystery. Pretty much the mysteries had all been solved in book 2. This book was just about the bad guy from book 2 coming back to get revenge on Mycroft and Watts in Australia. And Mycroft and Watts go about a sort of “Home Alone” way of dealing with it. Basically, on Watts’ home territory, they set up lots of juvenile traps (granted with real, adult weapons).
It just felt so, well, juvenile. The second book felt so very adult. And then comes this book where I literally just made a “Home Alone” reference. I wanted more problem solving, more mystery, and more plot. I never truly felt like the characters had enough reason to do what they did without telling the police, either…It seemed kind of forced to me. And the bad guys seemed too stupid for being the master chess players they were supposed to be.
Also, so much time was spent on setting up the traps and none of that was interesting to me. I kind of skimmed a whole quarter of the book because the running from a guard tower and picking places for landmines to catch a bad guy, just wasn’t doing it for me. It all seemed too far-stretched for something that seemed like it could be handled in a much easier fashion.
The sexual tension between Mycroft and Watts was still there. Thank goodness the weird, last minute love triangle didn’t mess that up. All in all, I had mixed feelings about this last book. I loved the emphasis on family. I loved watching Watts become a stronger, smarter character. And I loved all the scenes with her and Mycroft. I did not love the love triangle. And I hated the juvenile resolution of all the very adult events. I give it a 6/10. Though, I guess I’d give the series as a whole an 8/10.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (206)

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 Once and For All by Sarah Dessen (6/6/2017):

Description on Goodreads:
As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen's thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that's why she's cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm's length. But Ambrose isn't about to be discouraged, now that he's met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen's many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself."
I love Sarah Dessen. I will read all her books as long as she keeps writing them. I wish they came out more often. Her books are kind of what I compare all other YA contemporary books to.  Even just reading this summary for the first time makes me want to go back and re-read all of her other books. I need to do some serious re-reading this winter. Any way, I can’t wait!
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, October 10, 2016

A Good Week in Books (143)

I received all the review books in this week from Macmillan. I had one very large, eager box sitting on my steps earlier. I can’t wait to start reading! Thank you, for all the finished copies, Macmillan.

The pretties:
The Detour by S.A. Bodeen
Into White by Randi Pink
Write This Down by Claudia Mills
Enter a Glossy Web by McKenna Ruebush
Rebel Genius by Michael Dante DiMartino
This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills
The Ones by Daniel Sweren-Becker
Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall
The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
How was your week in books?

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

Summary from Goodreads:
Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn't happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister's sake - and her own.
This was another gem by Raina Telgemeier. She always writes such believable, true-to-heart, upbeat stories. Her colored illustrations always make these books fast and enjoyable to read. And Ghosts did not disappoint.
That being said, this one was darker and it went a supernatural route too. I’m used to all these graphic novels being contemporary. Also, instead of being the standard Halloween story I was expecting, it was all about ghosts in the Mexican culture and Dia de los Muertos. It was so nice to get a piece of a culture I’m not used to in YA. It was a refreshing view on ghosts and why spirits might come back.
I like that it wasn’t a question; ghosts were most definitiely real in this town. It was refreshing for this to be true and understood so quickly, though Maya took a little convincing. I also liked the way the ghosts looked (more like skeletons).
This didn’t veer too far from the Telgemeier path because a lot of this story still revolved around family. The sisters had a very believable relationship. They had all the normal sister fights, but underneath it all was the sister’s sickness, so I felt like Maya never got too mad at her. I also think because of this illness, Maya was a little less likely to jump on the ghost bandwagon. She wanted to stay away from the dead. And vice versa, her sister was fascinated by it, and loved the idea of ghosts coming back to celebrate with loved ones. There was a lot of metaphor here.
Also, it was just so pretty to look at. The colors, the celebrations, the costumes, and the sea were all so stunning to look at. And like Raina’s past books, the story would not be so strong if not for these beautiful pictures. There was a nice balance between darkness and light, colorful and sad, and happy and heart wrenching.
I loved learning about this holiday. I loved seeing death and ghosts in such a different way than I’m used to. The family drama still stood strong, and I was just as sucked in for this book as I was before in Raina’s other graphic novels. There was a cute, little romance too. All in all, this was all I wanted it to be. I give it a 10/10.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (205)

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 Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith (5/2/17):

Description on Goodreads:
Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.

At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall.

As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined . . . and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.
Why I’m Waiting:
I love Jennifer E. Smith’s books. They are all kind of fluffy, and sometimes I really need a good, fluffy YA novel to balance out all the darkness. They kind of read like a good Disney Channel original movie. I love the romance in all of them. And I also love how real they all feel too. This one sounds so good, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Bronze Key by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Summary from Goodreads:
Magic can save you.
Magic can kill you.

Students at the Magisterium are supposed to be safe. Under the watchful eyes of the mages, they are taught to use magic to bring order to a chaotic world.

But now the chaos is fighting back. Call, Tamara, and Aaron should be worrying about things like pop quizzes and magic contests. Instead, after the shocking death of one of their classmates, they must track down a sinister killer… and risk their own lives in the process.

As Call, Tamara, and Aaron discover, magic can only be as good as the person who wields it. In evil hands, it has the capacity to do immeasurable harm, unless it is stopped in time.

In this striking third book of Magisterium, bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare present us with a school where anything, good or evil, can happen, and the only way to unlock the truth is to risk everything to find it.
I love these books. It’s like I have this small, middle grade wizard story shaped hole in my heart, and this book works to fill it. I always expect to read these books slowly. But, there’s something about my heart that will only take these books in one sitting.
I’ve come to get to know and love Call, Tamara, and Aaron. These are real characters that I have grown to love. All of Call’s insecurities, Aaron’s friendly charm, and Tamara’s quick wit, really make these books as good as they are. Without these characters, the books would read as standard middle grade magic fare –with excellent twists.
Speaking of twists, yikes. I did not see this one coming, again! The ending kind of destroyed me. And I don’t think I’ve wanted the next installment in a middle grade series more than I want this next one. I need it now. What just happened? How could it end there?
I have even begun to like characters that I only previously tolerated. Jasper has grown on me. I love the sense of drama he brings to the friend dynamic. I love the bickering back and forth he has with Call. It’s almost like if Harry, Ron, and Hermione somewhat reluctantly allowed Draco to tag along with them. You know Draco would get them in trouble, and cause problems, yet I also think he’d become an asset and a true friend. I’m so glad this Draco has a chance.
I also love the setting. The caves and taverns only get more interesting with each new book. I was fascinated by the scenes with the elementals. I also, thought the whole thing with the rock that led its holder to the correct location of the meeting was really smart.
Both Black and Clare know how to write fun, interesting characters. The magic school setting is just what I needed to read just now. I did not see the ending coming at all. And I cannot wait to get my hands on the next book. I give this a 9/10.