Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (212)

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 Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World by Shannon Hale (2/7/2017):

Description on Goodreads:
A 320-page Middle Grade Novel telling an original "tail" of Marvel's cute, quirky, and downright furry Super Heroine--Squirrel Girl!
Why I’m Waiting:
I love the graphic novels. I love them so much, I dressed as Squirrel Girl for Halloween. Seriously, the comics are hilarious and fun and I just can’t get enough of them. I also love Shannon Hale. I can’t wait to see how she writes this story.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?
So, it’s decided: Nicola Yoon is amazing. I loved this book. I’ve had a remarkably difficult couple of weeks. And it’s been hard getting into a book. Normally, books are my ultimate escape, but lately, I don’t have the attention span for escape. And this is the one book in the last couple of weeks that really grabbed me.
I loved the diverse cast. I’ve never read about a main character who’s about to be deported. And I loved everything about Natasha’s story. I loved her family’s struggles, her father’s dreams, and her tenacity for problem solving. I also loved Daniel. I love boy poets. And he was the ultimate dreamer. I loved that Natasha was the scientist/realist and Daniel was the creative dreamer.
I love that so much happened for them in such a short period of time. It’s the ultimate love story. Yet, it was also believable. There was no sugar coating put on to Natasha’s tragedy or Daniel’s awful brother. And because of that I loved them so much more. I also loved the random side characters, particularly the security guard who almost committed suicide.
The book zooms in and out. It zooms in on people who might not ordinarily have been considered characters and it zooms out on major concepts like love at first sight. The book is both simple and complicated. It’s about the good in people and it’s about how one little thing can affect a whole series of other bigger things. It read kind of like an old, excellent Woody Allen movie.
This is not a book for people who don’t like character-driven stories. It’s all about character. There’s also a nice NYC backdrop to it all. There’s subway rides, record shops, lawyer offices, college interviews, family dramas, Korean food, and so much more. This is urban fiction at its finest, and I really felt like I was in NYC while I was reading it.
All in all, this is just what I needed. I hope the world loves this book as much as I did. I give it a 10/10.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Good Week in Books (148)

I had a nice little book week this week. I haven’t been in the right mindset to read too much. So many things were going on. I did read one book. And I received two new ones for review (Thank you Macmillan and Penguin).
The pretties:

The Valiant
by Lesley Livingston (ARC)
The Nerdy and the Dirty
by B.T. Gottfred
How was your week in books?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

Summary from Goodreads:
Sloane isn't expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that's exactly what happens.

Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera's twin brother and the most serious person Sloane's ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins' late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins' lives.

Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.
I really enjoyed this one. Emma Mills is really making a name for herself. I loved First and Then, and when I saw that the author had a new book coming that would involve art, I got really excited.
I really connected with Sloane. Basically, I love my friends (like she grows to do), but also, like her, I’m super independent and love being alone. I really connected to a teen character who liked being alone and didn’t feel like she had to have friends because it was expected. I get her not wanting to be disappointed also.
That being said, I love the group of friends she falls into. Vera is fascinating. I love that she’s in a successful long distance relationship with her girlfriend. I love how positive she is. I also love her addiction to social media and found it very believable and endearing. I also found the serious Gabe to be just as interesting. I had some really shippy moments in this book.
I also enjoyed the other side characters like Remy who went on the painting adventure with Sloane. I liked that Sloane worked so hard to help Remy with what he was going through too. And I loved that not everyone’s stories were wrapped up with a pretty pink bow. There’s sadness, growing up, fighting, and figuring things out here, as there should be in any good YA novel.
I also super loved the family component. Sloane’s dad is the best. For starters, he’s a famous writer that kind of sounds like Nicholas Sparks. Also, I loved watching him become obsessed with fan fiction, and passing it along to Sloane. I loved their relationship, which often times felt more like good friends, than parent/daughter. It’s not often, that the father/daughter relationship is stressed so much, and I loved it.
I liked her relationship with her little sister too. It was equal parts sibling rivalry/jealousy and pure love. I loved when Sloane read out loud to her. And when she picked the girl up from a friends group and compared herself to her, I was like yeah, that’s what being a sister feels like.
This book just has so much going for it: good family drama, dramatic fights, excellent party scenes, fan fiction, excellent friendships, romance, and well, just everything you could possibly want in a good YA contemporary. I give it a 10/10.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Waiting On Wednesday (211)

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 Alex and Eliza: A Love Story by Melissa De La Cruz (4/11/2017):

Description on Goodreads:
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Witches of East End and The Descendants comes the love story of young Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler.

1777. Albany, New York.

As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball.

Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.

In the pages of Alex and Eliza, #1 New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz brings to life the romance of young Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler.
Why I’m Waiting:
YA Hamilton? Yes, please! Also, I haven’t read this author in a very long time, but I loved her first YA vampire series, and I know she knows how to write romance with the best of them. April cannot come fast enough.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, November 14, 2016

A Good Week in Books (147)

I’m not going to lie; last week was really hard on me both physically and emotionally. It was hard to read and it was hard to step away from Facebook. In good news, my wrist is healing. And I’m typing regularly again. Though, I’ll probably take a nap with my brace on after I’m done blogging for the week (it is my day off). The stupid wrist of mine is so soar still. And I’m not supposed to really be using it/lifting anything with that hand yet, but this is harder than you think. I also had a bad sinus infection/migraine going all week, that is magically clear at the moment.
So yay. On to the good stuff, I received two amazing books for review (Thank you, Macmillan)! I already kind of started reading one of them…And in a retail therapy mindset, I bought the new Stephanie Meyer book. Basically, my retail therapy is hanging out in the YA section of Barnes and Noble, though technically, it’s an adult book.
The books:

Heartless by Marissa Meyer (!!)
Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity by Kristin Elizabeth Clark
The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer
How was your week in books?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Replica by Lauren Oliver

Summary from Goodreads:
Two girls, two stories, one epic novel

From Lauren Oliver, New York Times bestselling author of Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy, comes an epic, masterful novel that explores issues of individuality, identity, and humanity. Replica is a “flip book" that contains two narratives in one, and it is the first in a duology. Turn the book one way and read Lyra's story; turn the book over and upside down and read Gemma's story. The stories can be read separately, one after the other, or in alternating chapters. The two distinct parts of this astonishing novel combine to produce an unforgettable journey. Even the innovative book jacket mirrors and extends the reading experience.

Lyra's story begins in the Haven Institute, a building tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida that from a distance looks serene and even beautiful. But up close the locked doors, military guards, and biohazard suits tell a different story. In truth, Haven is a clandestine research facility where thousands of replicas, or human models, are born, raised, and observed. When a surprise attack is launched on Haven, two of its young experimental subjects—Lyra, or 24, and the boy known only as 72—manage to escape.

Gemma has been in and out of hospitals for as long as she can remember. A lonely teen, her life is circumscribed by home, school, and her best friend, April. But after she is nearly abducted by a stranger claiming to know her, Gemma starts to investigate her family's past and discovers her father's mysterious connection to the secretive Haven research facility. Hungry for answers, she travels to Florida, only to stumble upon two replicas and a completely new set of questions.

While the stories of Lyra and Gemma mirror each other, each contains breathtaking revelations critically important to the other story. Replica is an ambitious, thought-provoking masterwork.
Lauren Oliver books are either hit or miss with me. Usually, I love them so much, I can’t help but compare all other books in the same genre to them. But occasionally, as was the case here, I just don’t feel them at all. At all.
I’m slightly breaking my rules in even writing a review for this. I tend to not write reviews for books I don’t finish. That being said, I normally stop reading a book I don’t like somewhere between 10-50% of my way through it. I made it about 70% into this book. I feel like that’s enough of a book read to write a review and generate a clear understanding of the book.
Mostly, I was just barely tolerating Gemma’s point of view, and hoping I’d like Lyra’s better. Unfortunately, I loathed Lyra. And I guess that right there was my issue with the book: the characters. For such character driven narrative to work for me, I need to be more interested in the main characters. Gemma did have some interesting characteristics, but for some reason those characteristics all disappeared in the face of the plot. When exciting, suspenseful stuff happened, Gemma didn’t feel like the sarcastic, fun character built up from before: she felt like every other two dimensional girl main character. I should have known I’d like Lyra less. She was supposed to come off as well, clone-like. And I get that. But seriously, she could have been a million times more interesting.
I thought I really liked Gemma’s best friend, April. But, then there was a really lame fight that didn’t make sense to me. And April was really awful to Gemma out of nowhere. The unnecessary fight just felt like a bad plot device, when really, I think a supportive best friend throughout would have made more sense to the character and the story. So, that made me not like April so much either.
Also, the plot was so familiar. The twists were the kind of twists we have all already read a million times and can call from the beginning pages. If the plot wasn’t so cliché, I may not have realized how uninteresting the characters were.
That being said, the premise of this book is amazing. I loved the idea of a story that could be read in such a unique way. I loved that we were meant to connect the stories, yet separate them on their own as well. It was like someone put a writing challenge in front of the author, and she was like, “No problem. I got this.” It’s just with such a unique idea, I was hoping for more of a unique plot and characters.
It’s hard writing such a negative review for an author I love. Seriously, some of her other books are books I think all YA readers need to read. I won’t stop reading this author by any means. This one was just a big disappointment for me. I give it a 3/10.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (210)

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 Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (2/28/2017):
Description on Goodreads:
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Angie Thomas’s searing debut about an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, heart, and unflinching honesty. Soon to be a major motion picture from Fox 2000/Temple Hill Productions.

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
Why I’m Waiting:
This sounds so good! What a politically relevant book! I love when YA books branch out into the topics that are so important to the youth of today. I can’t wait to read this story. Also, wow it’s already being turned into a movie. It must be good.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry and read by Jayne Entwistle

Summary from Goodreads:
There's a murderer on the loose—but that doesn't stop the girls of St. Etheldreda's from attempting to hide the death of their headmistress in this rollicking farce.

The students of St. Etheldreda's School for Girls face a bothersome dilemma. Their irascible headmistress, Mrs. Plackett, and her surly brother, Mr. Godding, have been most inconveniently poisoned at Sunday dinner. Now the school will almost certainly be closed and the girls sent home—unless these seven very proper young ladies can hide the murders and convince their neighbors that nothing is wrong.

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place is a smart, hilarious Victorian romp, full of outrageous plot twists, mistaken identities, and mysterious happenings.
If you are looking for a feel-good, remarkably well read audio book, look no further.  To be honest, this is one of the best audio books I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. The reader is British. She does so many voices. She reads with a very British sense of sarcasm and wit, and I want to find out if she voices any other books. I must find that out after writing this review. I would probably listen to a car manual if she read it –particularly if she voiced each element of my car with a unique British accent.
It also helps that the story was pure hilarious. I often found myself laughing out loud while listening to this. It reminds me of an old Cary Grant movie my boyfriend introduced me to called Arsenic and Old Lace. While it’s clear from the very beginning of that movie that it’s the two old ladies responsible for the murder of that story, and in this book, the murderer is unclear (it’s part of the mystery), the same over-the-top comedy is there about something that’s ordinarily not that funny.
Basically, the girl’s hated headmistress and her not so nice brother both fall dead at Sunday night dinner. It becomes clear that they were both poisoned. And instead of reporting the murder, the girls at the school decide to pretend that it never happened, so they can stay at the school together and be free from society’s norms and restrictions. What a premise! Of course they weren’t expecting a million and one complications, not the least of which is the murderer on the loose.

Between the disguises, the strawberry social, the surprise surprise party immediately following the girls’ decision not to report anything, the burying of the bodies, and the little tiny springs of first love/romance, and well the plot was always interesting. Interspersed throughout it all is sarcastic, yet loving banter amongst the girls. There’s crushes and catastrophes. And I was a little sad when it all finished. I could have kept listening to this story for 8 more discs.
I loved the girls. At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of their names or the pronouns placed in front of all their names all the time (ie: Smooth Kitty, Stout Alice, Disgraceful Mary Jane, etc.), but I came to appreciate them. The pronouns ended up helping me remember each of the many characters. I guess it also fit nicely with the story and how the girls wished to be more than what society would always seem them as.
All in all, this was a fabulous, hilarious book with fantastic characters and an interesting mystery of a plot. The narrator of the audio book was top notch, and I can’t wait to find more that she’s read. This gets a 10/10.

Monday, November 7, 2016

A Good Week in Books (146)

I had a nice little book week. Though, I had a good week in general and a bad week in general. I finally finished some books I’d been reading for a while. My charming boyfriend and I celebrated our two-year anniversary. He took me to a lovely dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. He also bought me a much-coveted book, lovely flowers, and a sweet card (all shown below). I have a winner, really.

On the negative side, I went home early from work this week with a bad sinus infection. I still have a headache, after being on antibiotics for days…And I damaged my wrist somehow. I’m kind of afraid of it being carpel tunnel because that does run in my family. Needless to say, typing is kind is kind of hard while wearing a wrist brace. And I’m not sure what this will mean for the novel I’m working on for NaNoWriMo…or for my upcoming blog entries. But, here’s hoping that things get better soon healthwise! Slow typing is the worst.
My anniversary haul:

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay
How was your week in books?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (209)

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 Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy (5/9/2017):

Description on Goodreads:
For fans of Rainbow Rowell and Morgan Matson comes this sharp and thought-provoking novel about modern love, family, and the labels that we just can’t seem to escape—from Julie Murphy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’ and Side Effects May Vary.

Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever. Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. One of only two out lesbians in her small town and standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the responsible adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, her responsibilities weigh more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool.

As Ramona falls more in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift as well, and she must decide if knowing who she is is more important than figuring out who she might become.
Why I’m Waiting:
I love this author. I can’t wait to see what she has to say next. Also, this story sounds amazing. It sounds like my kind of YA contemporary. Double also, I love the main character’s name. I have a soft spot for books about girls named Ramona, I guess.
What are you waiting on this week?