Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (240)



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:  From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon (6/5/2018):



Description from Goodreads:
An aspiring teen filmmaker finds her voice and falls in love in this delightful romantic comedy from the New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met Rishi.

Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.
Why I’m Waiting:
First off, this sounds adorable. That description would appeal to me even if I didn’t already know this author. I loved When Dimple Met Rishi. I loved listening to this author speak at the Boston Teen Author Festival. I love that her main characters always (at least so far) are passionate about things other than romance. I love the idea of a YA book about a film director. I also love the romantic comedy aspect to it all too. Also, how cute is the cover?
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, October 16, 2017

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate



Summary from Goodreads:
Trees can't tell jokes, but they can certainly tell stories. . . .

Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood "wishtree"—people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red's branches. Along with her crow friend Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red's hollows, this "wishtree" watches over the neighborhood.

You might say Red has seen it all. Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red's experiences as a wishtree are more important than ever.
Review:
This book pleasantly surprised me. First off, I need to say that I love this author. She knows how to write books for children. I’ve been reading her books since I was a child. And I think I appreciate her so much more now after reading books like this one, as an adult. This book is brave, smart, and timely.
I pretty much sat down at the table with this book as my boyfriend made dinner one night. I wasn’t expecting to read this in one go, before dinner was even ready. I also don’t think I was expecting to enjoy it so much. I thought the personified tree was going to be a little gimmicky for me. And okay, it kind of was. But there are so many deeper levels to this tree besides it’s tree-like wisdom, peacefulness, and serenity.
I wasn’t expecting the deeper layers of this book. And I certainly wasn’t expecting a book with a message on immigration, acceptance, and community. Applegate expertly weaves together very short chapters (perfect for struggling readers) in the tree’s point of view. I can see this gimmick appealing to young readers and drawing them in. She educates you on trees, animals, and wildlife. And then she makes you think of trees differently, like people who live for significantly longer periods of time.
And then you start to see the world a little bit differently. Like you sum up a timeline by the things people do outside, by the kindness you witness in others, and the wishes people make. It’s also the story of an immigrant family who is struggling. The tree has seen struggling immigrant families before and wants to fix things. The tree wants to grant the wish of the little girl who wishes purely for a friend.
I love the idea of the tree involving itself in the lives of the people who live near it. I love the idea of tying wishes to a tree. I love that the tree values the community and the people more than it values itself. I love the home that the neighborhood animals make in the tree. And I love the messages that can and will be drawn from this story. The topic of acceptance is critical, and Applegate tackles it in an easy-to-read, simple way.
I wish this book were a little bit longer. By the time I was 100% invested in the story, I felt like it ended. I wish the tree spoke more. I loved the message. I loved the characters. All in all, this was a really good book. I can see schools using it in the curriculum. I give it a 9/10.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Good Week in Books (172)



I have had such a crazy workweek. I wasn’t even sure I’d be doing blog posts this week, but here I am. I’m going to be busy with lots of work stuff this weekend, so I’m even putting this together early. I finished one great middle grade book. I started an excellent audio book. And I’m reading the newest John Green book right now, and I’m in love with it. Seriously, I would be lost without books. I’m so thrilled to have such great books to read this fall and I know my work-crazed brain would not be nearly as calm as it is without such great reads.
I received 3 new book for review, courtesy of Macmillan. And I’m feeling so lucky right now to have such a large, enticing TBR shelf.
The books:


The Librarian of Auschwitz
by Antonio Iturbe
Berserker by Emmy Laybourne
Cast No Shadow by Nick Tapalansky and Anissa Espinosa

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones



Summary from Goodreads:
The year is 1818, the city is London, and our heroine, 16-year-old Annis Whitworth, has just learned that her father is dead and all his money is missing. And so, of course, she decides to become a spy.

Annis always suspected that her father was a spy, so following in his footsteps to unmask his killer makes perfect sense. Alas, it does not make sense to England’s current spymasters—not even when Annis reveals that she has the rare magical ability to sew glamours: garments that can disguise the wearer completely.

Well, if the spies are too pigheaded to take on a young woman of quality, then Annis will take them on.

She’ll follow the clues her father left behind and discover what befell him.

She’ll prove she can sew an impenetrable disguise.

She’ll earn a living without stooping to become a—shudder—governess.

It can’t be any harder than navigating the London social season, can it?
Review:
This is one of those rare books that I purchased for the library having read no prior reviews for. The title, alone, is what appealed to me. And then when it came in, I finished processing it, and put a hold on it right away. I knew it would be something for me. Can the title get any better? Thank goodness the book was just as good as I thought it would be, and then some.
Imagine Jane Austin mixed with Maria V Snyder, mixed with Meg Cabot, and mixed with Project Runway. I love historical fiction that involves magic and hidden feminism. I’m not a huge spy story fan. But, there’s something about a story with lady spies that really appeals to me. Add lady spies with hidden magical sewing powers, and a murder mystery involving Napoleon, and well, this book was just fabulous.
There were a few moments when I had to re-read certain pieces of dialogue because things were often said that I didn’t pick up on. And this was annoying. Also annoying was one twist that I found painstakingly obvious since the first chapter. I wish the author made things with a certain surprise spy a little less obvious.
I loved Annis. I loved her dreams. I loved her relationship with her maid, and how highly she viewed her maid’s safety and needs. I loved that Annis couldn’t do everything. For instance, throwing knives seemed impossible for her. She was a little silly and naïve at times, but this was okay because she was always willing to learn from her mistakes and grow.
I loved the disguises, the balls, the subterfuge, and the wit behind everything. This book was smart. Ladies were smart. Every chapter starts with a famous quote, and a little explanation by Annis.
Some things felt a little bit far-fetched, like all the ladies coming together at a ball to heed the words of what happened to a maid behind closed doors. But, I do like that the author did make Annis register that when she was disguised as a maid, people did not respect her. Her safety was always in question. People would spill things on her without apology. And her voice did not matter as much. Little historic truths did come out. It wasn’t all pretty dresses and fun disguised adventures.
I read this super quickly, despite how easy it was to put down after each short chapter. I just had so much fun reading this that I was smiling the whole time. My jaw actually hurt at one point from all the smiling while reading that was going on. I loved the concept of the story. I loved the historical setting. I loved the magic and the network of spies. I loved the characters. There were a few little things that annoyed me, but all in all, this was a great read. I give it a 9/10.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (241)



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:  Puddin’ by Julie Murphy (5/8/2018):



Description on Goodreads:
It is a companion novel to Dumplin', which follows supporting characters from the first book in the months after Willowdean's star turn in the Clover City pageant.

Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream—and to kiss her crush. Callie Reyes is the pretty girl who is next in line for dance team captain and has the popular boyfriend. But when it comes to other girls, she’s more frenemy than friend. When circumstances bring the girls together over the course of a semester, they will surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing they might have more in common than they ever imagined.
Why I’m Waiting:
I had no idea there was a sequel in the works! I loved Dumplin’. I remember reading and thinking, Finally! I do have to admit that I will need to re-read it to get familiar with the characters again, before reading this new one. But, that’s just a good excuse to go back to a book that I loved. I can’t wait to see what will happen next. And I love that the covers remain consistent!
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, October 9, 2017

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 7: Damage Per Second by G. Willow Wilson



Summary from Goodreads:
Civil War II is behind her, and a brand new chapter for Kamala Khan is about to begin! But it's lonely out there for a super hero when her loved ones no longer have her back. It's time for Kamala to find out exactly who she is when she is on her own. Plus: it's election time! Kamala gets out the vote!
Review:
I love Ms. Marvel. Earlier this week, my boyfriend and I were discussing the influx of superhero shows on TV this year and how we both wished that these major networks would talk more to the fans and listen to the shows we would go gaga over. Like instead of 3 shows coming out that all look like similar variations of X-Men, why not something else? The first thing that came to mind when I was asked, who I wanted to see on TV was Ms. Marvel.  Seriously, TV networks, we are tired of the same hero shows! More girl heroes please (and not just in groups with guys heroes, but alone)!
I recommend Ms Marvel all the time to comic, graphic novel, and even manga readers at my library. The fun, modern plot, the Muslim family setting, the girl power and friendships, and even the little inkling of romance in these is just so amazing.
That being said, this might have been my least favorite volume so far. It wasn’t terrible. I just didn’t compare to some of the previous installments. Like always, there were 3 storylines. The first one was about getting people to vote. At first I liked this. I was like, yes! Finally, something that shows the importance of voting in YA! But, then, it got a little too preachy for me. I wanted to read about how voting was important without getting a secret lesson also. And I can see teens feeling this way too.
The second story was more fun. It was about a virus that started in Kamala’s online game. The virus leads to mass cyber-bullying and all kinds of black mail, terror, and kind of plausible destruction. I liked that Kamala had to learn to figure things out on her own (with one phone call to someone who’s noticeably ignoring her). I liked the sense of online friendship in this one, and how strangers (that only know each other from gaming) came together to save the world.
The last story was in Bruno’s point of view, and it involved the Black Panther, which is super cool (especially considering his movie that is coming soon). That being said, his adventure just wasn’t as interesting as any of Kamala’s. The only times I put the book down were during Bruno’s adventures. He just seems too overdramatically angsty. While I appreciate him finally seeming to come to in his story, I also wish this didn’t have to happen so far away from Ms. Marvel.
All in all this volume was fun, fast-paced, and filled with drama. I wasn’t as into Bruno’s journey, as I was Kamala’s. I also didn’t super enjoy being “taught a lesson” about voting in the first part. But the second story, made up for all the down parts of the other two stories. The gaming aspect to it all was so much fun. I give this volume a 7/10. I know the next volume will be better.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee



Summary from Goodreads:
Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.
Review:
What’s the opposite of reading slump? A reading party-cruise? I’ve seriously been loving all the books I’ve been reading lately, particularly this one. There’s a lot of hype for this one. I haven’t heard anything negative about it at all. And I kind of dove into it blind, despite this. I didn’t know the extent of what it would cover. And honestly, I’ve never been a big historical fiction reader. I’m so glad I took everyone’s slight nudging of the book into my lap seriously. Also, thank you to the random, exasperated employee of HarperCollins who allowed me to take a hard cover copy of this book at ALA. I asked her what they were doing with all the hard covers of it (on a whim) and she said, “Just take it.”
I’m glad all the fates worked together and I read it and even got it signed at the Boston Teen Author Festival. It just felt like I was meant to read the book. And it was wonderful. I absolutely adored Monty. He reminded me so much of a favorite character of mine from Vampire Academy: Adrian. Both are tortured souls who come off as rakish upper society failures. And both are capable of extreme growth, love, and accomplishment.
I fell in love with Monty right away (even when he was coming off as a rakish failure). I loved that he saw his European tour as his last year of freedom. I loved his friendship with his long time crush: Percy. I also loved his sister, who was constantly reading and saving everyone with her medical knowledge and all-around knowhow. I loved the three of them together. I couldn’t wait to get to the part of the book that delved into the whole “manhunt” thing mentioned in the summary.
Thankfully, I did not have to wait too long. This book has a bit of everything: romance, adventure, witty banter, suspense, highway men, gun wounds, pirates, cross-continental travels, gambling, drinking, stealing, alchemy, and escape. There seriously was never a dull moment –something I wish for all historical fiction books. And in the background of it all are tougher topics of racism, sexism, prejudice, abuse, and fear. Monty is essentially a bisexual in a time when the word doesn’t even exist yet. And his best friend Percy is constantly picked on, sneered at, belittled, and looked over because of the hue of his skin. Felicity has the mind of a doctor, but isn’t even allowed into medical related lectures because of her sex. And despite that, or maybe even partially because of that, the three make a powerfully intelligent and heartwarming trio.
There’s also this rather fantastical element of the story that revolves around alchemy and wanting to cure a friend’s illness. There’s secret code boxes, bone keys, creepy, bone made crypts, and sinking islands. This element of the story kept me even more riveted. I loved the darkness to it all. I loved the lengths characters were taking to seize control of such power.
All in all, this book had everything: awesome characters, excellent setting, crazy adventures, a tiny bit of fantastical magic, interesting issues, and plenty of wit. I loved Lee’s writing style. I hope she continues to write. I’m so glad I happened upon this story. I give it a 10/10.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (240)



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 Cruel Prince by Holly Black (1/2/2018):



Description from Goodreads:
Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.


Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.
Why I’m Waiting;
This book sounds awesome. It sounds like a dark faerie story mixed with a healthy dose of revenge, politics, family, and possibly romance. I love Holly Black and I seriously loved the last book she wrote about the world of faerie. She knows how to write awesome characters and beautiful, yet dark worlds. I cannot wait to read this one (though the cover is kind of boring).
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, October 2, 2017

A World Without You by Beth Revis and read by P.J. Ochlan and Sarah Naughton


Summary from Goodreads:
What if finding her means losing himself?

Seventeen-year-old Bo has always had delusions that he can travel through time. When he was ten, Bo claimed to have witnessed the Titanic hit an iceberg, and at fifteen, he found himself on a Civil War battlefield, horrified by the bodies surrounding him. So when his worried parents send him to a school for troubled youth, Bo assumes he knows the truth: that he’s actually attending Berkshire Academy, a school for kids who, like Bo, have “superpowers.”

At Berkshire, Bo falls in love with Sofía, a quiet girl with a tragic past and the superpower of invisibility. Sofía helps Bo open up in a way he never has before. In turn, Bo provides comfort to Sofía, who lost her mother and two sisters at a very young age.

But even the strength of their love isn’t enough to help Sofía escape her deep depression. After she commits suicide, Bo is convinced that she’s not actually dead. He believes that she’s stuck somewhere in time—that he somehow left her in the past, and that now it’s his job to save her. And as Bo becomes more and more determined to save Sofía, he must decide whether to face his demons head-on or succumb to a psychosis that will let him be with the girl he loves.
Review:
This book was not what I was expecting. And I’m beyond grateful that I did not give up on this one, like I almost did. I almost gave up on it because of the narrator reading for Bo. He reads every sentence with such force and intensity (even the dullest moments), that I almost gave up on this book just because of how off-putting this was. I soon learned to appreciate the reading. The narrator gave a level of intense believability of the character for me that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. He represented how seriously and intensely Bo saw everything. And I grew to love this interpretation of Bo.
I also then almost gave up because not enough was happening. It was clear from the very beginning that Bo was delusional and that he believed he could bring back his dead girlfriend because he believes he has the ability to go back in time. But other than that insane concept, not a lot happens in this book until the second half.
I think what kept me listening to the audio was not Bo (or his narrator’s) intensity, but Phoebe. I grew up with an older brother who was (is) mentally ill. While I can see some people not liking Phoebe’s chapters because they take away from the eventual plot that develops in the second half, I loved her moments and her perspective –because they were my moments and my perspective.
Hearing Phoebe battle moments of empathy and selfishness and sacrifice, allowed me to remember my moments of empathy, selfishness, and sacrifice. I am so glad that Revis added in this sibling perspective. Yes, the story is about Bo and what Bo has to figure out, but also, it’s about the people Bo affects and the family he unknowingly leaves behind.
So, Pheobe’s story kept me interested in the first half. And Bo’s breakdowns kept me riveted in the second half. Seeing that closely into the mind of someone so far gone, was rather remarkable. I found Bo fascinating. He’s so strong and loyal to his beliefs. And I could see how important his “powers” were to him for all the right reasons. And my heart just continued to break for him.
I wanted some colossal break-through to happen. I wanted Bo to finally see reality in those videotapes. I wanted him to learn to accept things. And I can’t help but think back on those feelings the way I can get so frustrated with my brother. I want there to be some cure that makes his brain react the way most people’s brains do. But there is no cure for mental illness. I know this. I’ve lived this. But, this book showed me that I still want one. So, on all kinds of levels, this book was personal for me. I connected to Bo and Phoebe so strongly.
That being said, I can see this being a tough book for a lot of readers to get into (who don’t have this personal connection). And I wish there were some magical words I could say to keep people reading into that second half, where all sorts of madness goes down (pun intended). I’m talking mental breakdowns, possible school closings, fires, all kinds of hallucinations, trapped friends, and insane suspense. It’s worth the slow beginning to get to all this juicy stuff later.
The plot gets seriously good/addicting in the second half. There was a moment I had to pull over, while driving. My jaw literally dropped and I was yelling at Bo so loudly to go back that I knew it was not safe for me to listen and drive at the same time. That’s how good it gets.
The story was great and suspenseful. The characters were believable and powerful. I’ve never read a book about a character with this kind of mental illness before. And I’ve never gotten so deep a perspective from a sibling of someone with mental illness before. I hope more people read this book (despite the slow beginning). It’s a book that’s stuck with me days after reading it, and I think it will continue to stick with me. I give it a 9/10.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Wonder Woman Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo


Summary from Goodreads:
Daughter of immortals.

Princess Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mortal. Diana will soon learn that she has rescued no ordinary girl, and that with this single brave act, she may have doomed the world.

Daughter of death.

Alia Keralis just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted by people who think her very existence could spark a world war. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together.

Two girls will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. Tested beyond the bounds of their abilities, Diana and Alia must find a way to unleash hidden strengths and forge an unlikely alliance. Because if they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.
Review:
As I was waiting in line to purchase this book at the Boston Teen Author Festival, I was already reading a library copy. I knew I’d want to own this book, so I could re-read it, and also, I wanted Bardugo’s autograph on this one. A girl next to me in line asked me what I thought of the book. She said she liked the author’s other books, but tended not to like books about characters that already existed in some other canon.
So, in my head, I was thinking I have one chance to seriously sell this book and I gave it my all. I said, “Think about everything you already know about the Wonder Woman character, then add a seriously diverse cast, some LGBT representation, a kick-ass friendship story, and some serious levels of feminism and girl power. The girl in line seemed impressed. I think she’ll give this one a try.
This book was awesome. I don’t always love Bardugo as much as everyone else does. She is a very talented writer though and I always appreciate the level of research and world building she has. I love that this wasn’t the same story as the movie. I love that instead of risking the wrath of her Amazon sisters for a guy who’s plane crashes, Diana risks everything to save a girl. It’s not about helping a man stop further war. It was about saving a friend and preventing war. I know this seems like such a small difference between book and movie, but to me, this difference was everything.
I loved the friendship story. I loved watching Diana learn about the modern world. I loved watching her learn and grow from her friendship with Alia. I loved watching her center her power and strength by channeling her sisters. And I loved every scene where she kicked the butts of unsuspecting men.
This book had great side characters. I loved Alia’s best friend and crush. I loved the brother too. I found so much about him to be fascinating. And I was genuinely surprised by a certain twist with him. The world-building was awesome. I love books that take place both in the real world and in a fantasy one. Bardugo excels at writing mythology and all the Greek mythology here was awesome.
The pacing was super fast too. You go from one frightening scene to another. There’s fierce weather, shipwrecks, bombs at the MET (in NY), gun-fights, sky diving, mythological creatures, scenes with Greek Gods, and so much more. It was paced like a Rick Riordan book. But unlike with Riordan, it was all about girl power. After finishing it, I was like, “why couldn’t Bardugo have written the movie?” Though, I did have fun watching the movie too. Wonder Woman is my favorite comic book character too, so I was expecting really good things from this book. I’m glad my expectations were met and then some.
The YA books this year are killing it. Seriously, coming up with a top 10 list will be so hard at the end of the year. This book had everything: amazing world building, Greek mythology, great characters, feminism, action, romance, suspense, and friendship. I want more. Seriously though, will there be a book 2? I give it a 10/10.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (239)


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:  Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories by Kelly Barnhill (2/20/2018):
 

Description on Goodreads:
From award-winning, New York Times bestselling author Kelly Barnhill comes a stunning collection of stories, teeming with uncanny characters whose lives unfold in worlds at once strikingly human and eerily original.

When Mrs. Sorensen’s husband dies, she rekindles a long-dormant love with an unsuitable mate in “Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch.” In “Open the Door and the Light Pours Through,” a young man wrestles with grief and his sexuality in an exchange of letters with his faraway beloved. “Dreadful Young Ladies” demonstrates the strength and power—known and unknown—of the imagination.  In “Notes on the Untimely Death of Ronia Drake,” a witch is haunted by the deadly repercussions of a spell. “The Insect and the Astronomer” upends expectations about good and bad, knowledge and ignorance, love and longing. The World Fantasy Award–winning novella The Unlicensed Magician introduces the secret magical life of an invisible girl once left for dead—with thematic echoes of Barnhill’s Newbery Medal–winning novel, The Girl Who Drank the Moon.

By an author hailed as “a fantasist on the order of Neil Gaiman” (Minneapolis Star Tribune), the stories in Dreadful Young Ladies feature bold, reality-bending invention underscored by richly illuminated universal themes of love, death, jealousy, hope, and more.
Why I’m Waiting:
Sometimes it seems like the publisher can’t come up with anything good to sell the book more. And sometimes, as is the case here, the publisher has so many selling points and so much praise that it almost feels like I’m reading a fellow YA blogger telling me that I must read this. Needless to say, after reading that description, I know I must read this book. It sounds awesome. Plus, I love short stories and wish there were more in the YA world. I loved The Girl Who Drank the Moon. And I love dark and magical stories. I have supremely high hopes for this book.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Good Week in Books (171) - Boston Teen Author Festival 2017 edition



I had an awesome book week. I only finished one book this week, but it was an amazing one. I’m getting close to finishing my audio book, but it moves at a kind of slower pace. I received 5 new books for review thanks to Macmillan! And oh man, I’m super excited to read these. I also attended the Boston Teen Author Festival again! That was unbelievably fun.
I brought 4 books with me to get signed. And I purchased 4 new books there, to also have signed…I told myself I was only going to buy 2…I think I did a good job win impulse control, especially considering that the conference had a lot more people in attendance and I don’t think I could have gotten any more signed than I did because of time. I did see some other YA sisters buying books by the box-load. Also, major shout-out to one my coolest besties: Meghan! She brought one book to get signed and then waited almost the whole rest of the allotted signing time in line for Leigh Bardugo –to get two books signed for me. She is the best!
I went to one big panel with all the authors (at least 40 of them). Then I went to 3 different panels through out the day. And the whole thing ended with all of the signings. My panels: “Out of Character” with Leigh Bardugo, Kerri Maniscalco, Ashley Poston, and Jason Reynolds, “Through the Ages” with Mackenzi Lee, Katherine Locke, S.M. Parker, and Mitali Perkins, and “Tropes on You” with Susan Dennard, Elizabeth Eulberg, Sandhya Menon, and Brendan Reichs.
The books:
Pile 1 (The ones I brought to get signed)


When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera
Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Pile 2 (books purchased at festival and all signed) and Pile 3 (books I received for review this week)


Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
by Benjamin Elire Saenz
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds
The Reader by Traci Chee
Wonder Woman Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
+ The Language of Thorns promotional sampler
The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
You bring the distant Near by Mitali Perkins
The Night Garden by Polly Horvath
Spinning by Tillie Walden
The 40+ authors in attendance (aka: big panel):

The small “Out of Character” panel:

Some super fun swag (including love letters from book boyfriends -both of mine were from Sarah J Maas books!)
 

Meghan and me enjoying the day:


How was your week in books?

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Swing it, Sunny by Jennifer L Holm and Matthew Holm



Summary from Goodreads:
Summer's over and it's time for Sunny Lewin to enter the strange and unfriendly hallways of . . . middle school. When her Gramps calls her from Florida to ask how she's doing, she always tells him she's fine. But the truth? Sunny is NOT having the best time.

Not only is the whole middle school thing confusing . . . but life at home is confusing, too. Sunny misses her brother Dale, who's been sent to boarding school. But when Dale comes back, she STILL misses him . . . because he's changed.

Luckily Sunny's got her best friend and a mysterious new neighbor on her side . . . because she is NOT going let all this confusion get her down. Instead, she's going to remain Sunny-side up!
Review:
I’m not quite sure why I’m so surprised to have loved this. I loved the first one. But, I guess I had to re-remember why I loved Sunny Side Up. As a Youth Services librarian, I’m so used to seeing these authors on the names of other popular graphic novels like Baby Mouse, and I think I become a little immune to their greatness because I’m surrounded in their popularity. I must have remembered something right though because I checked this book out pretty much as soon as I finished processing it.
I also read it in one sitting (in about an hour!)  And like with the first book in the series, I was sad that it ended. I could have kept reading more and more pages in this character’s point of view. And it’s not like a lot happens plot-wise. It’s mostly just about Sunny living her day to day life, with all the troubles of her brother in the background.
Like with the first book, I connected to this story on a personal level because of a similar experience with my oldest brother. I missed seeing the grandpa around. Though, I’m glad he visits for a while and has a special relationship with Sunny now. (Sunny spent all of book 1 staying with him at his retirement community in Florida). I also missed Sunny’s friend from book 1. Though, I loved seeing that she still reads comics!
It was also fun seeing her with her best friend, and seeing the impact television stories had on her also. It’s hard to imagine kids watching that much tv when there’s only 4 channels. I liked watching Sunny make friends with her new neighbor and I liked watching her handle the holidays with her brother who was just so angry.
I think the best part of this book though was subtle. It’s only in the day to day things that one can really see how something big (like a brother being sent of to military school) can impact everything. It’s always there for Sunny. And it’s always there for her parents. I love the scene where mother and daughter break down together in her room and talk about missing him and not knowing if what they’re doing is right, but needing to do something. It made her mom seem so real and so human. And it shows that parents aren’t perfect and they’re just trying things as best they can, like the rest of us.
Sadly, I do think this is a story that a lot of people can relate to. And sometimes you really just need to read about this happening to someone else to know that you’re not alone. I see this book doing that for a lot of people. It’s also so gorgeous to look at. The artwork is young, bright, and bold and makes the book move at a quick pace. I love the art almost as much as the story. I give this one a 9/10.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (238)



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:  Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (3/13/2018):



Decription on Goodreads:
Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they'll find seven months after the invasion?

Meanwhile, Kady's cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza's ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha's past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heros will fall, and hearts will be broken.
Why I’m Waiting:
I absolutely loved Illuminae. The second book wasn’t quite as good. But, the creative way the story is told continues, and I can’t wait to see how the authors end it all. I know this book will be filled with creative ways to tell the story. And I know it will be action-packed and filled with drama. I can’t wait. Also, how cool is the cover? I’m so happy it stayed consistent with past covers.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Dire King by William Ritter



Summary from Goodreads:
The fate of the world is in the hands of detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby and his intrepid assistant, Abigail Rook. An evil king is turning ancient tensions into modern strife, using a blend of magic and technology to push Earth and the Otherworld into a mortal competition. Jackaby and Abigail are caught in the middle as they continue to solve the daily mysteries of New Fiddleham, New England — like who’s created the rend between the worlds, how to close it, and why zombies are appearing around. At the same time, the romance between Abigail and the shape-shifting police detective Charlie Cane deepens, and Jackaby’s resistance to his feelings for 926 Augur Lane’s ghostly lady, Jenny, begins to give way. Before the four can think about their own futures, they will have to defeat an evil that wants to destroy the future altogether.
Review:
I’m so sad that there will be no more Jackaby books. This honestly reads like one of those series that could go and on in many books. I’m not saying that just because I enjoy them. There are some great books that just seem to feel like they truly end with book 3. This is just such an interesting story, such an interesting world, and there are still so many unanswered questions and little un-explored niches I’d like to see. I feel like it would make for a wonderful series on Netflix or PBS. Really, people, someone needs to pick this up.
That being said, I feel like this book was my least favorite in the series. The over-arcing mystery of this one was too much about fairies. And while I love a good dark fairy re-telling, I was kind of hoping for something different here. Past novels have always had dark, supernatural creatures and characters, and I’ve come to seriously love how different they are. So, reverting to this fairy rift as the backdrop for it all was kind of disappointing for me because I’ve seen that before.
However, the author was able to connect the dots. The over-arcing fairy rift was able to explain a few of my unanswered questions about things like a certain duck character. I also learned a little more about seers and supernatural creatures in general. I loved all the scenes where Jackaby’s house was being used as a hideout for all the supernatural folk of new Fiddleham. Some of my favorite moments happened there.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I liked the other books better because they were more personal and smaller scale. I liked getting to know each of the side characters. This was almost too big –saving the world kind of big. And while I normally love stories that result in saving the world, here I felt like it almost took away from the personal charm the rest of the series had going for it. That, and it read like the author was almost trying to force the ending on a story that is not quite there yet. It’s not usually good when you can tell how hard an author is working to make something seem final. There’s still so much left open and unexplored.
This book also played at my heartstrings a bit. I had tears in my eyes one moment, and bursts of laughter the next. I really have grown to love these characters. And there also were a few surprises in this one for me. I liked being surprised. And I loved the very end of the book. I almost didn’t read the end of the book though. It ended in the part marked “supplemental material.” And after the sadness of what I assumed was the end (in the last real chapter), I almost couldn’t bring myself to read the supplemental material part. I’m glad I did though because otherwise I would not have gotten the happier ending I was hoping for…Do not skip this section, people! Also, why would the publisher let that happen? I bet there’s a lot of readers who won’t read it and won’t get the real ending….
Any way, all in all, I loved this series. It’s as the blurb says “Sherlock Holmes crossed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” The characters and the setting make these books un-put-down-able. The small town murder mysteries are usually very personable and interesting. I’m kind of wishing this last installment was less large-scale and more like the earlier books. I also wish this wasn’t the end and that the author didn’t try to make this the end so hard. I give this last book an 8/10 (though I’d give the whole series a 9).

Monday, September 18, 2017

A Good Week in Books (170)



I had a nice, little book week. I finished reading a supernatural mystery (and final book to a series). I finished a new middle grade graphic novel. I received 2 new books for review (big thanks to Macmillan!). One of the books though is for a book I already have an ARC for and reviewed. So, I might have to do a giveaway soon. I also purchased 2 books. The first, is a book I got from the library and I know will be one of my all time favorite books now and will need to be re-read many times over. It’s not in the photo with the other books because my boyfriend currently has it with him…and he’s almost done reading! I love when we read the same books. And the other book I purchased because so many people and reviews make it sound amazing and I thought it was time.
The new books:


Thornhill
by Pam Smy
Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan (this is the new favorite!)
How was your week in books?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Serafina and the Splintered Heart by Robert Beatty and read by Cassandra Campbell



Summary from Goodreads:
The storms are coming....

Something has happened to Serafina. She has awoken into a darkness she does not understand, scarred from a terrible battle, only to find that life at Biltmore Estate has changed in unimaginable ways. Old friends do unthinkable things and enemies seem all around.

A mysterious threat moves towards Biltmore, a force without a name, bringing with it violent storms and flooding that stands to uproot everything in its path. Serafina must uncover the truth about what has happened to her and find a way to harness her strange new powers before it's too late.

With only days to achieve the impossible, Serafina fights to reclaim herself as the Guardian of Biltmore, friend of Braeden, daughter of her Pa, and heroine of the Blue Ridge Mountains and all the folk and creatures that call it home.

In the epic third installment of Robert Beatty's #1 bestselling series, Serafina takes her rightful place among literary champions as she battles fiercely to defend all she loves and become everything that she is meant to be.
Review:
Now this is how a series is supposed to be end! First off, this series has zero to no hype that I have seen, and it is amazing. Why haven’t more people read this? Amazing characters, unique and dark setting, little bits of magic, fantastical creatures, and wow, I already want to re-read them all.
This book had such an amazing beginning. I’ve never read a middle grade book to open like this. It literally started on the first page with the main character coming to, in a coffin, buried six feet under ground! It was terrifying. I knew she’d have to make it out of there –being the main character and all. But, still. This book was intense. And it only got more intense from there.
I love how there was a strong focus on the different pieces of Serafina: her cat self, her human self, and her soul. I also loved watching Serafina continue to fight past some insanely terrifying obstacles. She out-smarted some crazy dark stuff. And her family and friends stood by her the whole time. The sense of family in these books is also great: they are the people you eat with, who you tell everything to, who you’d risk your life for. Serafina has made her own family and I was just excited to catch up with them, as I was to hear what was going to happen next in the extremely suspenseful plot.
I also loved the closure. The author seriously tied up all the loose ends and tiny questions I may have had from 2 books ago. Stuff is resolved with Rowena, with Serafina’s father, with her cat family, and with Waysa (not sure on spelling because I’ve only done this on audio).  I do kind of wish something could have been alluded to about a certain romantic relationship, but I get that this is middle grade. Still, I had a ship…
All in all though, this was a fabulous ending to a remearkable series. The audio book reader, Cassandra Campbell is nothing short of magical. And I highly recommend this one for audio book fans. I also highly recommend this one to fantasy and magic fans. This was a fun ride. And it was super hard having my mom visit for 2 weeks and have to pause my car listening for so long! I give this a 10/10.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (237)



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:  Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (2/27/2018):



Description from Goodreads:
Meet Tess, a brave new heroine from beloved epic fantasy author Rachel Hartman.

In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons get to be whomever they want. Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can't make a scene at your sister's wedding and break a relative's nose with one punch (no matter how pompous he is) and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess yanks on her boots and sets out on a journey across the Southlands, alone and pretending to be a boy.

Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it's a stroke of luck. This friend is a quigutl--a subspecies of dragon--who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess is guarding a troubling secret. Her tumultuous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she's tried to forget threaten to expose her to the world in more ways than one.

Returning to the fascinating world she created in the award-winning and New York Times bestselling Seraphina, Rachel Hartman introduces readers to a new character and a new quest, pushing the boundaries of genre once again in this wholly original fantasy.
Why I’m Waiting:
I loved Seraphina. I actually never read the sequel, but I think I will some time soon. I’d need to re-read book 1 first. Any way, I remember it being an amazingly interesting world, with an awesome kick-butt girl main character. This new book sounds to be kind of similar. Plus, dragons! Plus, I love stories where the girl dresses as a boy. And, that cover! I can’t wait to get my hands on this book.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, September 11, 2017

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu



Summary from Goodreads:
An unlikely teenager starts a feminist revolution at a small-town Texan high school in the new novel from Jennifer Matheiu, author of The Truth About Alice.

MOXIE GIRLS FIGHT BACK!

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with a school administration at her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv's mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the '90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother's past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She's just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

Moxie is a book about high school life that will make you wanna riot!
Review:
This seems to be the year of reading books I didn’t know how badly I needed. I needed this book. I needed this book so badly that at times, I had goose bumps and tears in my eyes. I have felt what Viv has felt. I have seen dress codes only apply to women. I have been groped by male classmates (whether as part of a dumb game like Viv’s school was doing, or just because men feel like they can). I have listened to boys say stupid things like, “go back to the kitchen,” “make me a sandwich,” and “why are women even allowed to drive?” and like Viv I never wanted to cause any problems or draw too much attention to myself. Life can be scary when you’re a woman.
Her zine or newsletter (as every other character referred to it) reminded me of all these things I have seen, witnessed, listened to all my life and always hated. And I’m so glad someone wrote a book about this. More girls (myself included) need to know that we can stand up and fight against these problems.
I love that this book also focused so highly on friendship. It didn’t matter what social circle, racial group, or religon these girls belonged to. They all could relate to what Viv was angry about. All girls can relate. And watching all these different girls from various backgrounds come together, stand together, was such a powerful thing. And it was probably the strongest message from this book overall: the power of girls working together is mind blowing and fierce.
We’re finally at a point in time where YA literature is reflecting the current political atmosphere. People want to read books where the little guy wins, where women can start a revolution and succeed, and where small successes can mean the world. Sure, we will always need distraction and YA generates some of my all time favorite distraction. But, lately, I’ve been feeling this mass need of something else: hope. Hope for a future with less sexism, racism, and hatred.
Was this the perfect book? No. I thought Viv’s romance actually could have been taken out of the book. It’s weird when I’m skimming through the romantic stuff so I can get back to the plot, but I was doing that there. I’m not sure the main character needed to avoid telling her mom things for as long as she did either. But, honestly, this book was so powerful, positive, fierce, and hopeful that none of that stuff really bothered me at all. I give this a 10/10. I hope for more books like this.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan



Summary from Goodreads:
Sometimes it’s not the kid you expect who falls through to magicland, sometimes it’s . . . Elliot. He’s grumpy, nerdy, and appalled by both the dearth of technology and the levels of fitness involved in swinging swords around. He’s a little enchanted by the elves and mermaids. Despite his aversion to war, work, and most people (human or otherwise) he finds that two unlikely ideas, friendship and world peace, may actually be possible.
Review:
This book is everything! Seriously, it is everything I have always wanted and needed in a book. It’s probably my favorite book of the year and will go down as one of my all time favorite books. How do I know this already? Well, I’ve already re-read my favorite moments! I finished it one day, and within hours had to go back and re-read some parts again. It is sadly a library book and I’m dreading the moment I have to return it. However, I’ve decided that I must own a copy and will be purchasing it soon.
One of my biggest pet peeves in fantasy novels is how rough women have it. Seriously, why do so many women get walked over, raped, mistreated, and spit on in fantasy books? If it’s a fantasy story any way, why can’t more women be placed higher in the hierarchy? This is something I’ve asked myself every year, ever time I read a fantasy novel that I love. Yes, there are some powerful ladies in fantasy lately. Thank goodness. But how about some powerful ladies that don’t have to always prove themselves to men?
Thank you, Sarah Rees Brennan for making the elf characters of this book. I absolutely never got tired of Serene commenting on the softness of men. There’s even a moment when she interrupts a war scene to yell for men to come to the rescue of a lost child because she expects men to have the better ability to relate to the poor thing. I never got tired of this commentary and every time it happened, I smiled. I knew I needed a book that did something like this, but I guess I never knew how much I needed it: super freaking badly.
The fantastic feminist aspect of the book is actually only one of the many amazing elements that is this story. We also get a bisexual main character! I love having a main character who loves both men and women. I can’t honestly come up with another YA book that does this. Elliot falls in love with characters not based soley on what they look like (or what gender they are), but on what they believe and how many books they have in their rooms.
Elliot is such a character. He can be pretty snotty, mean, and awful at moments, but generally he is someone who can love all people and creatures. He genuinely is a paficist who believes wars can be avoided through treaties. And he sees the beauty in mermaids, harpies, and even trolls in a society of humans who of course still have prejudice against those who are different. Elliot was also born into such a terrible family. Watching him learn to love and be loved was maybe half the appeal of this remarkable character. He really does have to learn these things.
I also adored Luke. He was so used to being adored at every turn, and then comes Elliot, the meanest of all sarcastic characters, who is always pushing sweet Luke away. Their friendship to me was powerful. I loved watching Elliot learn to love Luke. I thought all the competition and jealousies between the trio made them more real. Nothing was ever truly easy for any of them.
While this is a fantasy that takes place over various wars, treaties, magic school years, and battles, it is mostly a character driven book. It is not a book for people who need heavier plots in their fantasy. It is a book for character lovers and world builders. This world is so magically interesting and believable at the same time. The battles among the different creatures seem like battles that can take place between different groups of humans; they are about land mostly, and honor…
Brennan develops this whole sense of mythology to her world where I was just as interested as Elliot to learn about it. I would read another book in this world if she wrote one.
This is also a book that pokes fun at is own genre. It kind of plays with the concept of what is expected in YA/Middle Grade fantasy and flips it around. It plays with gender, sexuality, and romance. But it also plays with the reader’s expectations of school, friendships, love triangles, popularity, athleticism, etc. It pokes fun of chosen ones and boys who can see the magical divide. It’s a book that both satirizes it’s genre and bends it genre into something new and better.
I can probably go on and on about this book and dissect it way past the point where anyone would keep reading my review. But, I’ll stop. I love this book. I can’t wait for more people to read it. I give it a 10/10.