Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Doll People by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin and read by Lynn Redgrave



Summary from Goodreads:
Annabelle Doll is 8 years old--and has been for over 100 years. Nothing much has changed in the dollhouse during that time, except for the fact that 45 years ago, Annabelle's Auntie Sarah disappeared from the dollhouse without a trace. After all this time, restless Annabelle is becoming more and more curious about her aunt's fate. And when she discovers Auntie Sarah's old diary, she becomes positively driven.
Her cautious family tries to discourage her, but Annabelle won't be stopped, even though she risks Permanent Doll State, in which she could turn into a regular, nonliving doll. And when the "Real Pink Plastic" Funcraft family moves in next door, the Doll family's world is turned upside down--in more ways than one! Fans of The Borrowers and Stuart Little will love this exciting story of adventure and mystery. The relationship between the two doll families, one antique, one modern, is hilariously, wonderfully drawn. The Funcrafts are reckless and raucous, with fearlessness born of their unbreakable plastic parts. The Doll family is reserved and somewhat prim, even though they occasionally break into '60s tunes like "Respect" in their sing-alongs. Annabelle is a heroine with integrity and gumption. Ann Martin (The Babysitters Club series) and Laura Godwin create a witty, intriguing tale, illustrated with humor and a clever eye for detail by Brian Selznick.
Review
What a treat! I have read this book once before (many, many years ago). I recommend it at the library all the time and I thought I was due for a re-read. I wanted a light, fast audio book and I got just that. The only sad thing is I missed Brian Selznick’s excellent illustrations. However, I got to listen to one of the best readers I’ve ever had the pleasure to listen to. I must find more books read by Lynn Redgrave! Her different voices were amazing. If you told me, five different readers voiced all the characters, I’d believe you. What a talent.
The story is just magical. It’s Toy Story mixed with The Borrowers mixed with something brand new. And I loved it. The idea of dolls coming to life after their people go to sleep for the night, or to school for the day is not new idea. It’s something every kid thinks about. I love that these authors gave truth to this idea. I loved that dolls were given the option of becoming real or not. And Annabelle’s doll family was passed down from generation to generation in her house. I love that the grandmother feels as attached to the dolls as her granddaughter does.
And when the new, plastic doll family moves into the little sister’s house, it was fascinating to heard about the differences. It was like a “new money”/ American family moving next door to the Crawleys’ in Downton Abbey. It was fun to watch. There was a strong emphasis on family and friendship. Annabelle felt lest restless until she found a friend.
I love how brave Annabelle is, despite her china visage. I love that reading her aunt’s diary is the incentive she needs to break away from the comforts of all she knows and to go on an adventure to find her. There’s clear family dynamics and believable arguments between her parents and her uncle. I loved that the dolls have strict time lines to follow. Also, there are so many dangers to factor in that I wouldn’t have thought about. Dangers like a cat, named the Captain, deep stairs being harder to climb up than down, cat beds, and children not being able to fall asleep.
This was a fun, light book. I love recommending it to families who want something light (with no cliques or romantic relationships yet). There’s a sense of adventure and mystery. There’s a big family factor. And there soon becomes a friendship element to the plot also. I give it a 9/10.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (231)



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 Nothing by Annie Barrows (9/5/17):



Descriptoin on Goodreads:
Nothing ever happens to Charlotte and Frankie. Their lives are nothing like the lives of the girls they read about in their YA novels. They don’t have flowing red hair and hot romantic encounters never happen—let alone meeting a true soul mate. They just go to high school and live at home with their parents, who are pretty normal, all things considered. But when Charlotte decides to write down everything that happens during their sophomore year to prove that nothing happens and there is no plot or character development in real life, she’s surprised to find that being fifteen isn’t as boring as she thought. It’s weird, heartbreaking, silly, and complicated. And maybe, just perfect.
Why I’m Waiting:
I’m not going to lie: I think the Ivy and Bean series is pretty fantastic. I am a Youth Services Librarian and this author has helped me with some of my toughest critics: kids. So many kids fall in love with her books. I love the topic of this book. It seems so real and completely possible. I love that the characters read YA novels. And I love that it seems to be a friendship story that also involves writing. It has a kind of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants feel to it, and I’m so ready to read this!
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab



Summary from Goodreads:
Kell is one of the last travelers--magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.

There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King--George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered--and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London--a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.
Review:
As I said on Goodreads, “Okay, I get it now. This is my third Victoria Schwab book, and I liked the other books I read, fine. This one though, was pure magic. I want more! It's some of the best world-building I've read in years. Just magic.”
I’ve read The Near Witch and This Savage Song. I enjoyed them both, but I didn’t get what people were so obsessed about. I didn’t find either of those two books to be that special. In honesty, I don’t even remember the plot of The Near Witch at all. A Darker Shade of Magic though was special. The world building was above and beyond what I’ve come to expect any more in fantasy novels.
This is a book for people who love fantasy worlds. It’s also for people who love magic and stories of parallel worlds. Basically, it was written for me. I felt like I was traveling between the Londons with Kell. And when Delilah sees things for the first time, I felt like I got to see things all over for the first time too.
Also, the characters are all such Gryffindors! I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to go to White London and face the creepiest brother/sister duo of all time. The loyalty and love shared between Kell and his “brother” was so amazing. And then there’s the loyalty earned between Kell and Delilah. I’m not quite sure I’m shipping them yet, but maybe. I love their friendship though and their mutual respect for each other. This was more a book of friendship than of love. The one thing this book was missing was romance. Though, things were seriously hinted at for books to come.
I have such a fictional crush on Kell. I cried when he lost something to a fire. I felt his pain when he was fighting his possessed friend. And I cared for him deeply. I’m not quite on the same level of empathy with Delilah quite yet. She does have a sort of lack of general morality and enjoys stealing from people (not just to survive). She wants to be a pirate, which is awesome. But, I guess I wanted to know why. Did she hear pirate stories growing up? Did she see a female pirate once and get inspired? Why does she have her dreams? What’s her story?  When did she start dressing in men’s clothes? I’m hoping she gets more developed in book 2. And oh my goodness, I want book 2. And I want to read her story.
All in all, this was an incredible fantasy. I get why people love this author. I felt like I was sliding between doors and entering new worlds. I’ll have to get my hands on the rest of this series (like yesterday). I loved Kell, like I haven’t loved a character in some time. I wanted to know a little more of Delilah’s story, and I want a little more romance. Though, I have a strong feeling this is all coming later in the series. I give it a 9/10.

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Good Week in Books (159)



I had a nice, little book week. I finished one masterful fantasy novel. I also finished an adorable middle grade audio book that I loved. I received one book for review from Macmillan and one ARC from Penguin Teen (First in Line). I’ve also already started reading that ARC. So far, so awesome.
I also just bought my plane ticket for Chicago, and booked my registration for ALA Annual in Chicago this June. I’m so excited to attend this conference. I haven’t attended this one since I was in library school. I’m skipping BEA this year (one giant book conference at a time for me). I have so many books in my future!
This week’s books:

The Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdeih (ARC)
Sunkissed by Jenny McLachlan
How was your week in books?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (230)



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 Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston (10/3/17):



Description on Goodreads:
Set in a near-future world where the British Empire never fell and the United States never rose, That Inevitable Victorian Thing is a novel of love, duty, and the small moments that can change people and the world.

Victoria-Margaret is the crown princess of the empire, a direct descendent of Victoria I, the queen who changed the course of history two centuries earlier. The imperial practice of genetically arranged matchmaking will soon guide Margaret into a politically advantageous marriage like her mother before her, but before she does her duty, she'll have one summer incognito in a far corner of empire. In Toronto, she meets Helena Marcus, daughter of one of the empire's greatest placement geneticists, and August Callaghan, the heir apparent to a powerful shipping firm currently besieged by American pirates. In a summer of high-society debutante balls, politically charged tea parties, and romantic country dances, Margaret, Helena, and August discover they share an unusual bond and maybe a one in a million chance to have what they want and to change the world in the process —just like the first Queen Victoria.
Why I’m Waiting:
First off, what a gorgeous cover! Second, this story sounds super amazing. I don’t think I’ve read anything quite like it. Also, it has so many things I tend to love in stories: princesses, Victoria I, friendship, pirates, balls, politically charged tea parties, and romance. I can’t wait to read this one.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith



Summary from 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.
Review:
I received this ARC for review from Penguin Teen (First in Line). The book comes out in May, and I’m so proud of myself for actually reading an ARC before it’s pub date. Go me. Also, I was pretty excited to see this one waiting on my doorstep. I love Jennifer E. Smith. True, her books are extraordinarily fluffy and sometimes Disney channel original movie-esque, but I love them. Sometimes I want a formulaic YA contemporary. And basically, she had the formulaic YA contemporary down.
This was the perfect book to take with me on vacation. I wanted something light and fun, and romantic to take with me on my light, fun, and romantic trip to London. It was the perfect book for me at the perfect time. That being said, I don’t think it will be everyone’s right book at the right moment like it was for me.
I can see a lot of people not liking the main character. Sometimes it’s hard to like a character that is so good. She’s not chosen one, Harry Potter good or super hero Spider-Man good. She’s the classic, do-good type personality. She seems to volunteer all of her free time at soup kitchens and other charitable organizations. And because of this she has an almost judgmental personality when it comes to normal people who don’t do that much good.
That being said, I think it’s good to have this character in YA. It’s important for readers to see that volunteering and helping people can be a normal part of life. I can even see Alice inspiring certain types of readers to do more for their communities. It was just a tiny bit hard at times to read about her not liking what her crush was doing with his newly won lottery millions.
I did ship her and her crush. There’s something about an unrequited, almost hopeless crush/first love that I super relate to. I get not being able to help who you fall for. And I loved that the two characters are so different, yet still somehow work enough for me to ship them. I also loved how believable Teddy was. He had a lot of learning and growing to do throughout this novel.
Watching him go from the kid everyone wants to succeed to the kid who “doesn’t deserve it” was hard. His peers handled him winning in a way that was to be expected, but was still harsh. I also loved Leo (the third best friend/cousin). I loved his long distant relationship with his boyfriend and how much importance was put on college decisions. I loved his family. I loved Alice learning to think of them as her family too. I found her grief relatable and redeeming.
All in all, this was a light book. It was just the right amount of fun (with a rags to riches element). I loved the characters, though Alice at times was a little much. I loved the location (Chicago). And basically it was the right book at the right moment for me. I give it a 9/10.

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Good Week in Books (158) - A Good Week in London


So, I was MIA last week…I was on vacation in London! Because I’m a giant Potter nerd, and because I can, I thought I’d share some of my book-tastic vacation with you. If you’d like to see more photos, please leave me a comment (and maybe we can connect via Facebook –there are hundreds of photos on my personal Facebook page).
I sealed the deal for this vacation almost two and a half years ago. Basically, I purchased tickets for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in 2015…I missed the first round of tickets, but got tickets in the second round (this was before any news of the play even coming out in book format). I figured I had 2+ years to save up for a London trip. I’d been to London before (9 years ago) with a theater class. I saw 25 or so plays on that trip, but I didn’t get as much time to play tourist/aka: do the literary/HP things I wanted. This trip was all about playing tourist and doing literary/HP things. I traveled with my boyfriend, who is also a librarian, and we geeked out completely.
We went to the Tower of London, the London Eye, The Warner Brothers Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter, The British Museum, several British bookstores (of course) including Forbidden Planet and Foyles, The West End (including the Palace Theater –where the play happened), the Sherlock Holmes Museum, the British Library, King’s Cross Station, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Harrod’s. Basically, we went to everything on my super organized itinerary. Go us! Touring the Harry Potter Studios was my favorite thing. It was so incredible, I feel like I’m still in a Harry Potter daze. I would go back to London in a heartbeat just to experience that again. Also, the play was probably the best play I’ve ever seen. Some pictures:




















Now, I’m exhausted and jet-lagged. But, it was so, so worth it. I didn’t do much reading on this trip. I did read one book (mostly at airports). And I came home with several books (some of which are signed). I also received one for review while I was away (Thank you, Macmillan).
The books:

Meg and Linus by Hanna Nowinski
Rebel of the Sands (signed) by Alwyn Hamilton
Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton
The Lies of Locke Lamora (signed) by Scott Lynch
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (wanted a British copy) by J.K. Rowling
The Up Side of Un Requitted by Becky Albertalli
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (the British copy is so pretty and blue!)
Some souvenirs:

How was your week in books?

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Hunted by Meagan Spooner



Summary from Goodreads:
Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?
Review:
Side note: this is my one thousandth blog post….I have posted to this blog 1000 times! I will have to do a giveaway to celebrate soon (once I’m back from England).  I’m in shock though. I never thought I’d be doing this for this long.
I am a huge Beauty and the Beast fan. I may have already seen the latest movie in theaters twice…Needless to say, I’ve been anticipating this book for some time. My favorite fairytale combined with one of my all time favorite YA sci-fi authors was sure to make for a hell of a good book.
I was not disappointed. The main character is a dream. She’s a Beauty who hates society and secretly loves it when her father ruins their family fortune and moves the family back to the cottage in the woods. She’s an excellent hunter and overall kick-butt main character. She has her own version of Gaston. And he’s actually a super nice guy who likes that she is so interested in hunting and going “against the grain.” Her only issue with him is that she doesn’t love him and actually doesn’t think much about marriage in general. I love her.
Beast is pretty much a wolfy werewolf who never turns back to his human self. I also love werewolf stories. I love the brief schizophrenic chapters in his point of view. They let the readers know right away that the beast was more than he appeared. He seemed to be two creatures; wolf and cursed man. I love that the romance element was almost nonexistent till the end. Beauty wanted to murder Beast for so much of the book that romance just wouldn’t make sense.
I loved all the interwoven Russian folklore and fairy tales throughout the fairy tale. The firebird is a big part of the story (and I love the ballet, The Firebird). In the Disney version, Belle and the Beast fell in love over a mutual appreciation of books. And in this one, they bonded over storytelling, almost like the characters in the The Wrath and the Dawn (though, books are there too).
I like that it takes a while for Beauty to realize she loves Beast. She has to see love in her sisters and talk about love with her best friend to understand what she is missing and feeling. I love the importance of family in this book. I’m not used to books (especially fantasies) where the sisters are all actually friends who get along. I do wish I saw more of the family dynamic in the beginning. Beauty kept missing her family when she was gone, but I didn’t really get to know them until she returned to them. In other words, I didn’t see why she missed them quite that much till a lot later.
This was also a slow-moving book. It wasn’t full of action and plot arcs. It was more about character and storytelling than anything else. It’s not for everyone. I could easily see readers putting it down because of it’s slow pace. Also, it’s hard to see how Beauty can fall in love with Beast for a lot of the book and I can see some people giving up before they can see how this progresses. That being said, it reads like a fairytale. And the slow pace didn’t bother me too much.
I loved the retelling. I loved the two main characters. I loved the background of magic and Russian folklore. I loved how it all resolved. I don’t think this book is for everyone though. I highly recommend it to fans of Beauty of the Beast and people who like character driven stories versus plot driven ones. I give it a 9/10.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics by Chris Grabenstein and read by Jesse Bernstein



Summary From Goodreads:

Welcome, boys and girls, readers of all ages, to the first-ever Library Olympiad! Kyle and his teammates are back, and the world-famous game maker, Luigi Lemoncello, is at it again!

This time Mr. Lemoncello has invited teams from all across America to compete in the first ever LIBRARY OLYMPICS. Will it be fun? Like the commercials say. . . HELLO? It’s a Lemoncello! But something suspicious is going on . . . books are missing from Mr. Lemoncello’s library. Is someone trying to CENSOR what the kids are reading?! In between figuring out mind-boggling challenges, the kids will have to band together to get to the bottom of this mystery.

Now it’s not just a game—can Mr. Lemoncello find the real defenders of books and champions of libraries?
Review:
I love these books! I honestly feel like they were written for me. They mix my love of children’s literature, game shows, trivia, friendship stories, and competition. This one kind of had the feeling of the fourth Harry Potter book. It was a Tri-Wizard Tournament of sorts. And I loved every moment of it.
It was so nice to love an audio book again. It was so hard getting through my previous audio book that I almost waited a little extra before starting this new one. I’m so glad I did though. I never wanted to leave my car. I even took the last disc out of my car to listen to in my house because I wanted to know what would happen and also because I don’t want to go on vacation for a week and not know what happened.
I thought I’d be able to pack my suitcase and listen at the same time. I was wrong. I found myself sitting on my couch, with the story being my sole focus. I felt like the pressure to win was even higher for Kyle and his friends. They didn’t want the world to think they didn’t deserve all that they had already won.
I got a little annoyed with Kyle at one point. The pressure was seriously getting to him and he kind of snapped at a few of my favorite characters (one in particular: Sierra). However, I guess this made him more believable. No one is nice all the time. And while he’s the Harry Potter of chosen team leaders, he’s not perfect.
I loved that a lot of this book was also about censorship and banned books. What a fantastic way to educate the kiddos of the world about banned books. There were a few things that were maybe a little too over-the-top, but then even that over-the-topness was talked about and handled in a unique way…I can’t really explain this better without spoiling.
The book was loaded with new games, challenges, riddles, and book trivia. I got more glimpses into the amazing fictional library of my dreams. I reunited with old friends from the previous book. And I got to meet new characters too. I loved some of the deeper messages presented about book banning and censorship. All in all, this was awesome. I give it a 10/10. I highly recommend it to reluctant readers, gamers, children’s literature fans, and of course all librarians everywhere.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas



Summary from Goodreads:
In a pursuit that has spanned continents, Iolanthe, Titus, and their friends have always managed to remain one step ahead of the forces of Atlantis. But now the Bane, the monstrous tyrant who bestrides the entire mage world, has issued his ultimatum: Titus must hand over Iolanthe, or watch as his entire realm is destroyed in a deadly rampage. Running out of time and options, Iolanthe and Titus must act decisively to deliver a final blow to the Bane, ending his reign of terror for good.

However, getting to the Bane means accomplishing the impossible—finding a way to infiltrate his crypt in the deepest recesses of the most ferociously guarded fortress in Atlantis. And everything is only made more difficult when new prophecies come to light, foretelling a doomed effort…

Iolanthe and Titus will put their love and their lives on the line. But will it be enough?

With The Immortal Heights, Sherry Thomas brings the acclaimed Elemental Trilogy to its breathtaking conclusion.
Review:
I kind of think of these books as YA ice cream. I love them. I devour them. They don’t quite fill me like a YA steak would. Yet sometimes, all you really need want more than anything is a little ice cream.
I guess what I’m trying to say (while hungry and thinking about dinner and or ice cream) is that these books don’t have a ton of substance to them. They don’t make me think, or have me remembering them days after I complete them. There’s nothing so remarkable about them that they stand out from all other YA. Yet, there’s this classic, old school fantasy vibe to them. If I read them as a teenager, even though they didn’t exist then, I probably would have considered them up there with my favorites. But now, I know there is better out there.
I really enjoyed this last installment. And I plan on giving it a really positive review. I love how loose threads were tied up. I loved how certain side characters played a much stronger role. I loved the interpretations of the prophecies. And I loved how freaking scared I was during the final chapters. I had some serious nail-biting moments.
I also loved where the book started: right in the middle of an all-out war. Seriously, this book was all action. There was never a good point to put the story down. I loved this about it. It read kind of like a more YA version of Percy Jackson, in that respect. I loved the beginning, I loved the middle, and I loved the end. I was a little confused at the end, due to some more memory spells, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It was magical and everything about it fit with the rest of the story.
I guess the book was a little formulaic for a fantasy, but again I read it expecting that. Sometimes you want a new flavor of ice cream to try, and sometimes you really want nothing more than cookie dough, you’re go-to.
The one thing that did bother me a little was that a lot of things came rather easily. Like you learn one character has the ability to shape shift right at the exact moment you need a shape-shifting character more than anything else.  I kind of wish I knew about this character earlier in the series or even in this book and then it wouldn’t seem so convenient. Sometimes, it just felt like the author was making stuff up about the world she created as she went, and when it conveniently made sense with what she needed. I guess I wanted more world-building in the traditional sense.
All in all though, this was a magical, fun, addicting fantasy series. It’s the ice cream I needed in a month full of not so tasty healthy food. It was a little formulaic, but the author excelled at it’s formula. I loved how it all tied together so nicely at the end. I loved the characters and I loved the non-stop action. I wished there weren’t so many convenient plot elements, and just a little more world-building. But all in all, I loved this series. I give this one an 8/10.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (229)



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 Glass Town Game by Catherynne M. Valente (9/5/17):

Description on Goodreads:
Charlotte and Emily must enter a fantasy world that they invented in order to rescue their siblings in this adventurous and fiercely intelligent novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.

Inside a small Yorkshire parsonage, Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne Brontë have invented a game called Glass Town, where their toy soldiers fight Napoleon and no one dies. This make-believe land helps the four escape from a harsh reality: Charlotte and Emily are being sent away to a dangerous boarding school, a school they might not return from. But on this Beastliest Day, the day Anne and Branwell walk their sisters to the train station, something incredible happens: the train whisks them all away to a real Glass Town, and the children trade the moors for a wonderland all their own.

This is their Glass Town, exactly like they envisioned it…almost. They certainly never gave Napoleon a fire-breathing porcelain rooster instead of a horse. And their soldiers can die; wars are fought over the potion that raises the dead, a potion Anne would very much like to bring back to England. But when Anne and Branwell are kidnapped, Charlotte and Emily must find a way to save their siblings. Can two English girls stand against Napoleon’s armies, especially now that he has a new weapon from the real world? And if he escapes Glass Town, will England ever be safe again?

Together the Brontë siblings must battle with a world of their own creation if they are to make it back to England alive in this magical celebration of authorship, creativity, and classic literature from award-winning author Catherynne M. Valente.
Why I’m Waiting:
I love Catherynne M. Valente. I’m still holding on to the last book in her fairyland series. I need to read it asap. I was just dreading the end of it. Though now, I have a new series to look forward to. This sounds just as fun, if not more interesting. I love the characters’ names, the whole premise of the story, and how I can tell it will be chock-full of literary references. It sounds so Narnia-esque, doesn’t it?
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Good Week in Books (157)



I always seem to fall into a bit of a March reading slump. I think I more than made up for it in the last week of March/first week of April because I did read 3 books. I also received 2 new ones for review (Thank you, Macmillan!). Though, I was a little lazy blogging. My normal blogging day was spent packing and binge-watching 13 Reasons Why. Now that I’m emotionally destroyed from that amazing show (Please do more YA novels, Netflix!), I feel like I’m all set for a new month, and a new adventure!
I leave for London tomorrow, for a little vacation with the boyfriend.  I am days away from seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child!!!!! And I cannot wait for all the things I jam-packed on to a makeshift itinerary. I’ll post pictures after. I will be MIA after this week. Maybe I’ll come back in a couple weeks with a British accent.
The lovelies I received for review:



The Stone Heart
by Faith Erin Hicks
Perfect by Cecelia Ahern
How was your week in books?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Waitign on Wednesday (228)



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 All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater (10/10/17):


Description on Goodreads:
Saints. Miracles. Family. Romance. Death. Redemption.

The book takes place in the 1960s in Bicho Raro, Colorado and follows the lives of three members of the Soria family—each of whom is searching for their own miracle. There’s Beatriz, who appears to lack feelings but wants to study her mind; Daniel, the “Saint” of Bicho Raro, a miracle worker for everyone but himself; and Joaquin (a.k.a. Diablo Diablo), who runs a pirate radio station at night.

"The Soria family are saints as well, and the miracle they perform for pilgrims to Bicho Raro is as strange as most miracles are: They can make the darkness inside you visible. Once the pilgrims see their inner darkness face to face, it’s up to them to perform another miracle on themselves: banishing the darkness for good. It can be a tricky business to vanquish your inner demons, even once you know what they are, but the Sorias are forbidden to help with this part. They’ve all been told that if a Soria interferes with the second miracle, it will bring out their own darkness, and a saint’s darkness, so the story goes, is a most potent and dangerous thing." - Maggie Stiefvater, EW interview.
Why I’m Waiting:
I am always waiting for the next Maggie Stiefvater book. I’m so excited for October to get here. Two of my favorites are coming out with new books. And the excitement is real. Also, this sounds so interesting and different from all of her other books. I can’t wait to read about this saintly family. It sounds magical and dark, and all things I know Stiefvater can write exceptionally well.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, March 27, 2017

Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken



Summary from Goodreads:
All Etta Spencer wanted was to make her violin debut when she was thrust into a treacherous world where the struggle for power could alter history. After losing the one thing that would have allowed her to protect the Timeline, and the one person worth fighting for, Etta awakens alone in an unknown place and time, exposed to the threat of the two groups who would rather see her dead than succeed. When help arrives, it comes from the last person Etta ever expected—Julian Ironwood, the Grand Master’s heir who has long been presumed dead, and whose dangerous alliance with a man from Etta’s past could put them both at risk.

Meanwhile, Nicholas and Sophia are racing through time in order to locate Etta and the missing astrolabe with Ironwood travelers hot on their trail. They cross paths with a mercenary-for-hire, a cheeky girl named Li Min who quickly develops a flirtation with Sophia. But as the three of them attempt to evade their pursuers, Nicholas soon realizes that one of his companions may have ulterior motives.

As Etta and Nicholas fight to make their way back to one another, from Imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, time is rapidly shifting and changing into something unrecognizable… and might just run out on both of them.
Review:
This book had a lot of ups and downs for me. It started on a strong note, but then dragged and dragged in the most negative way possible. Honestly, if I were reading it and not listening to it on audio, I probably would have stopped reading it all together. I didn’t have any other books to listen to, and after a while, I just put it on when there was nothing better to listen to on the radio…
Basically, it took over a month for me to get through! Over a month! It is 13 discs, but still…That is a long time. And sadly, so much of it really could have been trimmed down. There were so many unnecessary inner monologues and repeated emotions that there were times when I wonder if it was edited at all.
I didn’t hate it. I still loved the characters. And I certainly loved watching Etta become a much stronger main character. She fights with her deranged family, stands up for herself against manipulative characters, fights for her spot in everything, and I loved watching her grow.  Seeing Imperial Russia was awesome. Also, a future version of NYC (that on one messed up timeline pretty much becomes a giant hole in the universe) was pretty epic.
But, most of the storyline that followed Nicholas just wasn’t as interesting. The whole thing with the “witch” and her deal with a certain piece of jewelry was just so cliché. So, was the double crossing friend that betrayed them…Like, could anyone not have suspected that? I kind of rolled my eyes through so much of their plot arc, and awaited going back to Etta. Though, eventually, Etta wasn’t that fun either…
I feel like my biggest problem was that there was just too much filler, too much description for things that I wish the author let me determine for myself. Like every time Nicholas did something, it would be explained that he did it because of such and such. And every time Etta felt something for a family member, it would be explained that she was the way she was because of such and such experience with her mother. It was too much. Let me decide why Etta acted harshly and why Nicholas was optimistic that one time. It felt like the author thought I was an idiot who couldn’t understand basic emotions because each emotion had to be justified in lengthy detail.
So much time was spent on Etta’s emotional explanations and then not enough time was spent on the action. A lot happens at the end, and it almost felt rushed. I had to re-listen to parts because I thought I was missing things, but I wasn’t. Needless emotional explanations could take 20 minutes each, but the fast-paced chaos, violence and destruction at the end needed a little more clarification.
Also, the biggest enemy, Cyrus Ironwood, the supposed genius who’d put plans into motion decades (and several timelines ago) seemed too childish to be believable. How could such a genius be so blindsided and fooled in such a simple way at the end? Things with him seemed way too easy.
I’m glad the series is over. I really enjoyed book 1. And honestly, I would have enjoyed this one just as much if a lot of extraneous explanation was cut out. There was too much unnecessary description for simple emotional moments. And there wasn’t enough detail devoted to the action-heavy moments. The characters were developed more. The places they traveled to were interesting. I enjoyed the beginning and the ending a lot. The middle was lacking. I give it a 4/10.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (227)



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 Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray (10/3/17):


Description on Goodreads:
The Diviners are back in this thrilling and eerie third installment by #1 New York Times bestselling author Libba Bray.

After battling a sleeping sickness, The Diviners are up against a group of new and malevolent foes–ghosts! Out in Ward’s Island sits a mental hospital full of lost souls from people long forgotten. Ghosts who have unusual and dangerous ties to the Man in the Stovepipe Hat also known as the King of Crows.

With terrible accounts of murder and possession flooding in from all over New York City, the Diviners must band together and brave the ghosts haunting the asylums to bring down the King of Crows.

Heart-pounding action and terrifying moments will leave you breathless in the third book of the four-book Diviners series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Libba Bray.
Why I’m Waiting:
I’m always waiting for the next Libba Bray book. She’s my favorite author. All of her books are fantastic. Good stories, characters, and writing! This series is no disappointment. I can’t wait to read what happens next. Add ghosts to the already spooky setting, and I know this will be good.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas


Summary from Goodreads:
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, Khalil’s death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Starr’s best friend at school suggests he may have had it coming. When it becomes clear the police have little interest in investigating the incident, protesters take to the streets and Starr’s neighborhood becomes a war zone. 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 destroy her community. It could also endanger her life.
Review:
This is my favorite book of the year (so far). I’ve been in a reading slump, kind of. This woke me up from that. I read this book in 2 days. It was unlike any other book I’ve ever read. It tackled some serious issues that are currently at the forefront of people’s minds. And more than handling a topic well, the book was just a wonderfully told story.
I have not had the opportunity to read such a current YA book before. I’ve also never read a book to tackle the topic of race like this before. Normally, I feel like books that handle the difficult topic of racism take place in a different time (ie: the 60’s or the Civil War). It is so necessary and so important to have books on this topic that take place now.
I love that it’s not just about the racism in the police force either. It’s about racism in school, the media, and the day-to-day. It’s in how Starr is taught to behave in front of police officers, how she feels she hast to behave while attending a mostly white school, how she acts in her group of friends, and in everything. Race is a part of everything.
And I loved Starr. I related to her even though my life is so different from hers. I loved her relationship with her family, her neighborhood, and her friends. All of the side characters felt like living, breathing people. The characters of this story stood out in a good way, her family in particular. I love that her family plays such an important role in the story. I’m not used to parents who are together and in love -she refers to them as her OTP…I loved how supportive they were for her. Oh, and I loved her uncle too. What a family!
There’s a lot of grey areas in this book. It’s not always clear what is right and what is wrong.  Like it’s said in the novel, “Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.” Doing right, is such an important aspect to the whole story. Starr wants to do right by her friend so badly.
This is both a book for the character readers and the plot readers. The first half is more about character. The second half is all action. I’m not normally so scared for the lives of characters in contemporary YA novels. But, I was on the edge of my seat through fights, riots, police brutality, bombs, fires, and violence.
This wasn’t the easiest read either. A lot of harsh truths are unleashed. Starr also has a bumpy relationship with her boyfriend, and I definitely shipped them. I loved watching Starr’s family grow to know him and take him under their wing.
This book accomplishes a lot of things. It brings to light some serious topics. It doesn’t sugar coat things or solve the world’s problems, but sometimes you just need a book that tells you what the problems are. This does that. It’s also loaded with great characters. The plot had me at the edge of my seat. And I can’t stop thinking about it. I hope a lot of people read this book. I give it a 10/10.

Monday, March 20, 2017

A Good Week in Books (156)



I had a nice book week. For some reason, March is always a tough month for me and I never can keep up with my reading schedule in March, even though there’s so many weeks in March. Oh well. I read one amazing book. I started the final installment of a great fantasy trilogy. And I received 5 new books for review (thank you, Macmillan).
The new books:

Firebug
by Lish McBride
Pyromantic by Lish McBride
Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde
Freya by Matthew Laurence
The Other F-Word by Natasha Friend
How was your week in books?