Thursday, August 17, 2017

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish by Douglas Adams and read by Martin Freeman

Summary from Goodreads:
Back on Earth with nothing more to show for his long, strange trip through time and space than a ratty towel and a plastic shopping bag, Arthur Dent is ready to believe that the past eight years were all just a figment of his stressed-out imagination. But a gift-wrapped fishbowl with a cryptic inscription, the mysterious disappearance of Earth's dolphins, and the discovery of his battered copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy all conspire to give Arthur the sneaking suspicion that something otherworldly is indeed going on. . . .

God only knows what it all means. And fortunately, He left behind a Final Message of explanation. But since it's light-years away from Earth, on a star surrounded by souvenir booths, finding out what it is will mean hitching a ride to the far reaches of space aboard a UFO with a giant robot. But what else is new?
So, I definitely think this was the weirdest book in the series. I thought the other stories were strange at times. This one was like the others, but on acid. Seriously. It included naked, flying sex scenes in the clouds. And, there were inside out houses. And final messages from God (which was sort of disappointing).  And a guy who brings rain with him everywhere he goes. Yet, I think it’s actually one of my favorite books in the series (maybe it’s my second favorite after the first book).
I had some serious “Woa!” moments in this book where a lot of things clicked. But, I also had some serious frustrated moments too. Like, I thought Earth was gone…How is Arthur there? And how does Fenchurch know something else must have happened? I loved how important the dolphins ended up being. The message they left in the fishbowls had me laughing out loud for several minutes.
So much about this book had me laughing out loud for several minutes. When aliens finally land on earth, a robot comes out of the ship and says, “I come in peace. Take me to your lizard.” Apparently, on his planet, lizards were the ones in charge…I also loved when Arthur kept trying to write a check to his favorite charity, to save the dolphins and the charity kept telling him to get out. He didn’t understand that all the dolphins had gone.
I liked that there was finally a little romance element to the story. It was nice seeing Arthur happy. It was also nice seeing Arthur as the more rational one in comparison to Ford Prefect. I loved when Ford met Fenchurch. I loved when Marvin came back into the picture. He had to explain to Arthur that he couldn’t be fixed with any more pieces. That over the millions of years, everything had been replaced except for one thing. The one thing that caused him pain in book 1…that he mentioned to Arthur and wished could be replaced all those millions of years ago. Oh, Marvin…
I think I’m going to end my reading of this series here because I like where things ended. My library system doesn’t have the last book on audio book. But, also, I have researched this series and this author. I know that the author’s last book is miserable and ends with a lot of death. Apparently, he always intended to write one more that brought everyone back in a happy note. He commented in interviews that he was in a bad mood while writing it. But, he passed away before writing that happy book. That is pretty much my worst nightmare in regards to authors and series. So, I think it’s healthier overall to end it here.
I’ve had an amazingly fun journey listening to all of them. I loved listening to Martin Freeman every day. I loved the characters, the humor, the setting, the absurdity, the strangeness, and the deeper levels of philosophy achieved here. All in all, I give this one a 9/10 (and I probably give the whole series a 9/10 also).

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (234)

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 Defiant by Leslie Livingston (2/13/2018):

Description on Goodreads:
The darling of the Roman Empire is in for the fight of her life.

Be brave, gladiatrix… And be wary. Once you win Caesar’s love, you’ll earn his enemies’ hate.

Fallon was warned.

Now she is about to pay the price for winning the love of the Roman people as Caesar’s victorious gladiatrix.

In this highly anticipated sequel to THE VALIANT, Fallon and her warrior sisters find themselves thrust into a vicious conflict with a rival gladiator academy, one that will threaten not only Fallon’s heart – and her love for Roman soldier Cai – but the very heart of the ancient Roman Empire.

When dark treachery and vicious power struggles threaten her hard-won freedom, the only thing that might help the girl known as Victrix save herself and her sisters is a tribe of long-forgotten mythic Amazon warriors.

The only trouble is, they might just kill her themselves first.
Why I’m Waiting:
I was seriously impressed with book 1. It was one non-stop action movie of a YA novel. And I can’t wait to see where the story continues in book 2. That description sounds mighty promising. Also, Amazons? Yes please. The world needs more books with strong, fierce female warriors in them.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Coming Up for Aiir by Miranda Kenneally

Summary from Goodreads:
Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat.

All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming. She’s not only striving to earn scholarships—she’s training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic tryout, so Maggie feels even more pressure to succeed. And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to sacrifice in the water to win at love?
I love this author. I love how relatable all her main characters are. I love her focus on girl athletes. And I love that the sport or point of focus for these girls isn’t all that defines them.
If there were one main character whose sport defined them the most though, it would be Maggie. She lives and breathes swimming. And finally, I read about a girl who played the same sport as me. I was on a swim team for four years. I’ve done the super early practices. And I’ve done the weekend long meets. I knew all about the strokes, the times, the pools, and everything. And it felt so nice to read about a girl who did the same thing as me…except, who took it a lot more seriously.
I love that Maggie works so hard for it. She isn’t a naturally good athlete. She spends hours every day working to be better. I love that her flaws involve watching other swimmers and speeding up too early. What teen girl can’t fall behind, wasting time thinking about where others are and what others are doing? I love that she discovers a talent for a different stroke. I love her parents and their support.
I liked that this was about Maggie growing up and becoming a woman as much as it was about her working to become an Olympic athlete. I loved her rivalry with another swimmer. I loved her close group of friends who all related to the focus and drive needed to play a sport competitively. Though, there was a little bit of a cheese factor with them. Like they were almost too convenient and always said just the right thing.
Maggie took some getting used to. It took me a little longer to fully love her as a main character. I think this is because of how good she is. But as I read this, the more I loved her because she wanted more. I also super loved the romance. I love romance that starts as friendship. I love how awkward things are between the friends in the beginning. And I love that they both have to figure out what exactly it is that they want from each other. And I also love that swimming is first for Maggie. Always.
All in all, this was another fun installment for Miranda Keanneally. I read it super fast and it was the exact, light hearted romance I needed to read this summer. It’s not my favorite of the author’s works, but I really enjoyed it. I give it an 8/10.

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Good Week in Books (169)

I have one more week of craziness at work, and then things can back to a more a normal schedule. And hopefully, I can back into a more regular reading schedule. I did read one contemporary romance this week. And I finished my sci-fi audio book. I’ll be done with an ARC of Kristin Cashore’s latest soon. I didn’t exactly receive or purchase any new books this week. However, I did pick up some other awesomely geeky things from Boston Comic Con, one of which includes a signed comic book.  So, I thought I’d share.
My Comic Con treasures (minus some presents for people I can’t risk them seeing):

2 TeeTurtle T-shirts (one Harry Potter related)
1 Signed Buffy combicbook
1 Diagon Alley poster
1 Ask Us About Our Feminist Agenda poster
1 Kiki’s Delivery Service mashed up with Harry Potter poster
1 Spike (from Buffy) poster
1 mini TeeTurtle dinosaur poster (free with shirts)
1 pair of Lego Ron and Lego Hermione earrings
At the con, I met and talked with a lot of cool people, saw some awesome cosplay, and went to some seriously cool and Geeky Panels (one with Sailor Jupiter, one with Anthony Daniels –aka: C-3PO, and one with Eliza Dushku from Buffy/Angel/Doll House/etc). Needless to say, a fun weekend was had.  On to my last crazy Summer Reading week.
How was your week in books?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Gotham Academy Second Semester Volume 1: Welcome Back by Becky Cloonan

Summary from Goodreads:
GOTHAM ACADEMY is back for its second semester!

When you're Gotham Academy student Olive Silverlock, winter holidays can be a drag. Luckily, when a new student shows up at Gotham Academy to keep her company while the other students are away, Olive finds what could be a brand new friend...or a whole lot of trouble. And when Maps, Kyle, Colton, Pomeline and the rest of the students of Gotham's #1 prep school return for a new semester, the adventures are twice as mysterious and twice as dangerous!

Every time I’m about ready to give up on this story because I think I have it all figured out, something happens and drags me back in. The first half of this installment was kind of slow and not that interesting, plot-wise. There was more Olive being mopy, and more dark, gothic background stuff about the academy –but nothing new or critical. Then finally, stuff got more interesting when the rest of the crew returns.
Students start disappearing and it’s soon discovered that they are being recruited by a Witch club. And it’s not a friendly group of witches –more like a group of brain washed students doing terrible things like burning books and abandoning their friends. And if in case that wasn’t enough to wheel me back into the swing of things, in comes an epic twist that I did not see coming at all.
And finally, a major development for Olive happens, something I’ve been waiting for since probably the first installment of these graphic novels. And I’m so glad, I got to witness this. I can’t wait to see where the story goes from this point on.
I love the side characters in this almost more than the main characters. They are all developed in a way I wish all side characters in all stories to be. I also love the setting. Everything about Gotham Academy is dark, mysterious, and creepy. I would seriously love this to be a TV show. I think this would make for best tv show set.
The one thing that irks me sometimes is the writing. There’s a lot of slow moments –like the author has to build up to being good again. And there seems to be a lot of extra filler that doesn’t need to be there. That being said, the writers are good at getting my attention back after all the filler. All in all, I give this an 8/10.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (233)

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:  Olivia Twist by Lorie Langdon (3/6/2018):

Description from Goodreads:
Olivia Brownlow is no damsel in distress. Born in a workhouse and raised as a boy among thieving London street gangs, she is as tough and cunning as they come. When she is taken in by her uncle after a caper gone wrong, her life goes from fighting and stealing on the streets to lavish dinners and soirees as a debutante in high society. But she can’t seem to escape her past … or forget the teeming slums where children just like her still scrabble to survive.

Jack MacCarron rose from his place in London’s East End to become the adopted “nephew” of a society matron. Little does society know that MacCarron is a false name for a boy once known among London gangs as the Artful Dodger, and that he and his “aunt” are robbing them blind every chance they get. When Jack encounters Olivia Brownlow in places he least expects, his curiosity is piqued. Why is a society girl helping a bunch of homeless orphan thieves? Even more intriguing, why does she remind him so much of someone he once knew? Jack finds himself wondering if going legit and risking it all might be worth it for love.

Olivia Twist is an innovative reimagining of Charles Dickens’ classic tale Oliver Twist, in which Olivia was forced to live as a boy for her own safety until she was rescued from the streets. Now eighteen, Olivia finds herself at a crossroads: revealed secrets threaten to destroy the “proper” life she has built for her herself, while newfound feelings for an arrogant young man she shouldn’t like could derail her carefully laid plans for the future.
Why I’m Waiting:
You can’t always tell this by the books I most commonly read, but I seriously love the Classics. I was an English Major after all. One of my all time favorite classic writers is Charles Dickens. I am beyond excited to not only get a YA retelling of Oliver Twist, but a YA retelling of Oliver Twist, where Oliver is a girl! The romance, the secrets, the espionage, and the characters of this retelling sound splendid! 2018 looks like it will be a wonderful year for YA.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

Summary from Goodreads:
Scream meets YA in this hotly-anticipated new novel from the bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss.

One-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted.

International bestselling author Stephanie Perkins returns with a fresh take on the classic teen slasher story that’s fun, quick-witted, and completely impossible to put down.
For the first time ever, I found a Stephanie Perkins book that I’m not totally in love with. I remember asking the publisher for this ARC at ALA and then practically jumping for joy when I was handed it. I remember thinking, “ I’d be fine not picking up any more books because this is all that I need.” I was kind of wrong. And I’m so glad I continued to pick up books.
I didn’t hate the book. I actually kind of loved certain parts of it. I loved the whole awkward romance story between Makani and Ollie. Everything about it was awesome. I loved the whole not knowing if it was just a summer thing and then not knowing if the other was ashamed thing. I loved how Perkins puts all doubt that runs in my head at the start of a relationship and manifests it not just in the girl’s head, but also in the guy’s. Everything felt so real with this, and wonderful.
That being said, I kind of feel like the author clearly has her strengths with contemporary type romances. And while I give her serious credit for branching outside these strengths and trying something new, her suspenseful horror writing just wasn’t cutting it for me. Every time another character was going to be murdered, the writing switches to that new character’s point of view. So…basically…the reader always knows when someone is about to die (with the exception of one mishap). And I hated this.
My favorite horror movies are the old ones. And the ironic thing is that the author even at one point refers to my favorite movie (Psycho). However, what Psycho accomplished and what this book failed at doing was seriously shocking me. I loved that the main character of Psycho dies half way through the movie. I was not suspecting that at all. I just don’t get why Perkins had to give the readers all the heads up she did when someone was about to die. It ruined all suspense and possible horror I could have had.
You also find out who the killer is rather quickly. This didn’t bother me so much because then the characters could question why the killer was doing what he/she was doing. What were the connections between the victims? I liked this element. That being said, the actual reason was super lame. Not all villains and serial killers need great reasons to do what they do; clearly, they are nuts. But, this one? It was a major disappointment for me.
Also, a major disappointment was Makani’s secret. She was holding back this major secret for most of the book. It’s the reason that led to her moving to this small, creepy town. But, I just wasn’t buying it. It didn’t seem big enough to encompass all the stress and blame that Makani had going on. Maybe if she was having some PTSD from her own experiences, I would have bought it, but it was all about the guilt she had for one moment that didn’t seem as terrible as she made it out to be.
There were some serious questions left un-answered. And okay, as I’m thinking about it now, maybe a lot of these questions were intentional red herrings. I really thought I had guessed who the killer was, but I was wrong. And maybe part of my disappointment is the fact that I couldn’t have figured it out if I wanted to. I felt a little bit jipped. But, maybe this was intentional. Sadly though, I felt a little bit jipped from a lot of different places: the killer (already mentioned), the lack of character development for the friends, the storyline with her parents having no explanation, Makani’s secret, and the final scene where it all ends.
I guess over all, Makani and Ollie were very well developed characters with a believable and shippable love story. But, everything else feel a bit flat and needed more handling. The parents, the grandma, the reason for the deaths, and the secrets (aka: everything else) needed to be more flushed out. I give this a 6/10.

Monday, August 7, 2017

A Good Week in Books (168)

I had a nice book week. Honestly, with my summer schedule, I have no idea how I read at all. I guess books keep me sane and I need all of the ones I can get my hands on over the summer. I read one ARC and one graphic novel this week. I also started a new contemporary and am about half way through my latest sci-fi audio book. I received five new books for review this week. Thank you, Macmillan. And I just have two more crazy weeks at work to go! And in 3 weeks, I have a stay-cation to look forward to (hopefully filled with books, beaches, and good food).
The new books:

The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray
The Beautiful Darkness by Mary E. Pearson
Love is Both Wave and Particle by Paul Cody
Whatever by S.J. Goslee
In Some Other Life by Jessica Brody
How was your week in books?

Friday, August 4, 2017

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

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

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

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.
Oh, Sarah Dessen, I have missed you. Reading her books always feels like such a treat. Like, magically traveling to Paris for a few moments just to eat the perfect croissant. I’m not saying her book is a perfect croissant or that it comes remotely close to Paris geographically; I’m saying reading her books makes for the perfect little moments of me time. Such a treat.
I read this book in less than 24 hours. I ate it up. It’s not my favorite Sarah Dessen novel, but it’s up there. It’s just what I needed at the right time. I needed something good that would help me unwind from an insanely busy week, and a super fun and busy weekend. This was it.
I’ve read reviews that say this one is darker than other Dessen novels. Yes, there is some dark stuff in here, but…have these reviewers read her other books? There’s always something a little dark or intense there: divorce, grief, scandal, family drama, etc. Okay, this one is a little more current with its darkness –there is a school shooting to be blamed for Louna’s grief. But, I didn’t think it was any darker than the Dessen book about the abusive relationship.
I thought this element gave the story some interesting depth. And I certainly know that Dessen must have experiencedd some serious grief in her time because she writes it so well, in a way I could seriously relate to (with my grief over the loss of my dad). Her writing, in general, seems to only improve with each book. She knows how to write teen girls so well. She knows how to get into their heads and sometimes it just feels like she must be in my head too.
I liked the side characters. I loved Louna’s interesting life and family. Teen wedding planners was not something I ever thought I’d get a chance to read. And I love how cynical it makes the main character. I loved every scene that took place at a wedding. All the time between weddings, I kept hoping for more. It was like an inside look at a super great reality show –but written exceptionally well.
I wasn’t a humongous fan of the love interest. He seemed a bit much. I do like hate-to-friendship-to-love stories a lot. But, he seemed kinda terrible –like lacking in general morals. He dated multiple girls at once and didn’t treat girls all too well. Why am I to assume he’ll treat Louna better? Does love change someone into a nicer human being? I do get that he’s charming and he and Louna have chemistry, but I was kind of hoping he’d become a little bit nicer or need to prove to everyone that he could be worth of Louna.
All in all though, I super enjoyed this one. I wish Dessen would write more frequently. Though, I guess if she did, it wouldn’t seem so much like a Parisian treat. All in all, I give this a 9/10.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine

Summary from Goodreads:
Words can kill.

Hoarding all the knowledge of the world, the Great Library jealously guards its secrets. But now a group of rebels poses a dangerous threat to its tyranny…

Jess Brightwell and his band of exiles have fled London, only to find themselves imprisoned in Philadelphia, a city led by those who would rather burn books than submit. But Jess and his friends have a bargaining chip: the knowledge to build a machine that will break the Library’s rule.

Their time is running out. To survive, they’ll have to choose to live or die as one, to take the fight to their enemies—and to save the very soul of the Great Library…
So, I love these books. The tension was at in all time high in this installment. It was hard reading this book when I was because of my crazy work schedule. I wished I had a day off to do nothing but read it.
The first half takes place in America, at a Burner’s camp. And the second half takes place at Jess’s family’s home. The first half felt like an episode of the Walking Dead. I had no idea what would happen, who might die, how far the Library was willing to go to kill everyone, etc. I was biting my nails. Danger was everywhere.
And the second half was more mentally suspenseful, and not quite as interesting. I knew something big was going to happen and then when Jess had a plan (that he did not share with the reader), I knew something really big was going down. A big twist happened, but I’m not sure I fully understand yet or even if I’m meant to. Again, the book ends at a terrible cliffhanger, and I know Jess has a plan, but I’m not quite sure how much of this it encompasses. And why does it have to go this way for Morgan? Really, there was no other choice?
Also, the printing press seems to be Jess’s most used bargaining chip. How many more times will he have to sell it and convince it? This became a bit repetitive. I’m not sure the second half of the book needed to be as long as it was. The juicy, craziness all seemed to be in America. And then it fell a bit flat. I was also kind of rushing through it at that point because I needed to know what was going to happen with certain characters (and, wow, it’s hard to talk about this book and without spoiling things).
All in all, the first half was better than the second half. It did eventually feel a bit like a filler book in the series. I know the next book will be all kinds of suspenseful because of where this left off. I loved the characters. I loved the setting. I just wanted a little less planning and little more doing. Though, I know it’s coming. I give this one an 8/10.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday (232)

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:  Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre (2/13/2018):

Description from Goodreads:
Zara Cole has been in and out of New Detroit’s rehab facilities for treatment of her antisocial disorder. There’s no adjusting Zara’s attitude, though. A painful past has made her stronger than most, which is why she chose life in the Zone instead moving with her family to Mars. In her eyes, living inside a dome isn’t much better than a prison cell.

Still, when Zara commits a crime that has her running scared, jail might be exactly where she’s headed. Instead Zara is recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by the Leviathan–a race of sentient alien ships—to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers.

Zara seizes the chance to flee Earth’s dangers, but when she meets Nadim, the alien ship she’s assigned to along with fellow Honor Beatriz, Zara starts to feel at home for the first time, along with a devotion she’s never experienced before. Yet nothing—not her Honors training or her street smarts—could have prepared her for the dark, dangerous truths that lurk behind the glitter of starlight.

Honor Among Thieves is the first book in a daring new sci-fi series by bestselling authors Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre.
Why I’m Waiting:
This sounds so good! I want to read this right now. I love sci-fi. And I love these two authors, particularly Rachel Caine. I can’t wait to see what a book by the two of them, together, looks like.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Life, the Universe, and Everything by Douglas Adams and read by Martin Freeman

Summary from Goodreads:
The unhappy inhabitants of planet Krikkit are sick of looking at the night sky above their heads–so they plan to destroy it. The universe, that is. Now only five individuals stand between the killer robots of Krikkit and their goal of total annihilation.

They are Arthur Dent, a mild-mannered space and time traveler who tries to learn how to fly by throwing himself at the ground and missing; Ford Prefect, his best friend, who decides to go insane to see if he likes it; Slartibartfast, the indomitable vice president of the Campaign for Real Time, who travels in a ship powered by irrational behavior; Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed, three-armed ex-president of the galazy; and Trillian, the sexy space cadet who is torn between a persistent Thunder God and a very depressed Beeblebrox.

How will it all end? Will it end? Only this stalwart crew knows as they try to avert “universal” Armageddon and save life as we know it–and don’t know it!
So, I liked this book more than book 2. But, still book 1 holds the best spot. It’s hard to beat book 1. That being said, I very much appreciated things centering more on Arthur again. I feel like much of my disorientation and likability of book 2 comes from the fact that Arthur felt more like a side character. Whereas in this book, he was front in center again.
It’s not even that I love Arthur Dent. He’s sort of the a-typical main male protagonist and or best friend character. A lot of the absurdity of everything comes from him though. And I appreciate his sense of humor and shock and surprise at amazing things that everyone else just seems to accept as reality. He’s the most human and the easiest to care for. And I liked seeing him go through all that he goes through in this installment.
Slartibartfaast also returns, and I find him a really interesting character too. In this book, he’s trying to sace the universe from being destroyed by robots. At one point, Arthur gets separated from the group (again!) and finds himself at a place, deemed the Cathedral of Hate. This was probably the most absurd part of the book, where I also could not stop laughing. Apparently some poor soul kept being killed by Arthur (by mistake or accident) and then was reincarnated into something else that would also soon be killed by Arthur. Everything from flies to rabbits, to aliens were killed, and I know I’m not giving this part justice right now, but I was laughing for 20 minutes.
There’s also a part with a lost piece of luggage and Greek olive oil that had me laughing for several more minutes. Oh, and Thor is in this book! Trillian has a moment with Thor! Also, after you think the world is saved, you relize it isn’t and it actually all comes down to Arthur playing cricket on a field…Seriously, the book is nuts.
I loved the concept of this book. I loved the characters. I loved the absurdity and the humor. The story and plot were a little jumbled for my liking, and parts of it kind of felt like filler. Like the author knew this wasn’t the last story, but he needed to write something before his better more final installments could come out.
All in all though, I enjoyed this. There is no better way to be stuck in summer traffic, than when I can laugh hysterically to a book like this. I give it an 8/10.

Monday, July 31, 2017

A Good Week in Books (167)

I had a nice, little book week. I finished the fantasy novel I was reading. I finished my sci-fi audio book I was listening to. And I read a new contemporary book also. I had an extremely busy week at work. I stayed late Tuesday night to go to an author talk/signing. I got to meet the lovely Lauren Wolk (again). I also purchased a new copy of her latest book to have signed. And Friday, my library had a Harry Potter birthday party again. I had tons of happy Harry Potter fans show up to concoct edible potions, create Harry Potter themed origami bookmarks, take sorting quizzes, guess the amount of jelly beans in the jar, color Harry Potter coloring books, eat Harry Potter cake, and re-watch the first movie. It was a super good time.
Today is actually Harry’s real birthday. So, happy birthday, Harry!! May you inspire children, teens, and adults the world over to read!
My new book:

The cake and my outfit for the occasion:

How was your week in books?

Wednesday, July 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:  Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson  (1/16/2018):

Description from Goodreads:
Something is wrong at Ellingham Academy: Its murderous past won’t stay in the past.

Ellingham Academy is an American institution. Students can’t buy admission, they have to earn it: these are the brightest of their generation, the thinkers, inventors, artists, dreamers, and schemers who will change the world. Ellingham is the brainchild of philanthropist and tycoon Edward J. Ellingham, who happened on a remote, idyllic spot outside of Burlington, Vermont in the 1920s, the perfect setting for his “dream school of the future.” For Ellingham, the dream ended a decade later, when his wife and child were kidnapped, then murdered, in what would become the crime of the century. Ellingham pledged everything to find the killer—he ended up giving his life.

It was an empty sacrifice: For years, the killer remained at large. He taunted the police, signing his letters Truly, Devious. Eventually, someone was caught, found guilty, and executed for the heinous crimes… but questions lingered. Why, for example, did Ellingham write these words on the day he died?

Where do you look for someone

who’s never really there?

Always on a staircase

but never on a stair.

Every institution has its ghost stories; every school imagines itself haunted. Ellingham Academy is, officially, beyond such silliness: it is devoted to greatness, and everyone accepted achieves it.

This includes Stevie Bell, who gained her fame by solving a murder when she was thirteen years old. Clever murders don’t happen along very often, and Stevie has been struggling to find her place in the competitive atmosphere of Ellingham. Then she finds out about the decades-old Ellingham riddle: Problem solved. She’ll solve the riddle, name the real killer, and prove herself exceptional. True Ellingham material.

Her investigation into the cold case is interrupted by a fresh one. When one of her classmates, internet superstar Hayes Major, turns up dead, Stevie is the first to question the official explanation. An accident? Really? Everyone else is convinced that Ellingham’s murderous past is just that, which leaves justice up to Stevie.
Why I’m Waiting:
I love Maureen Johnson. And it has been such a terribly long time since her last book came out. I added this to my TBR shelf on Goodreads before even glimpsing at that long book description. Reading that description though…I need this book in my life. It sounds awesome. It sounds like Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters mixed with A Study in Charlotte, mixed with The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women. Basically, it sounds like a mix of all the “out there” but amazing boarding school stories. I can’t wait for this book to come out!
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Good Week in Books (166)

I had another crazy, busy week at work. I probably say this every year, but it feels like my popular vacation spot town, has more tourists this summer than ever before. And the number of kids attending library programs this summer is astronomical. Needless to say, I’m exhausted. I didn’t get any books read this week. I’m more than halfway through an awesome fantasy (that will be getting back to my library super late…) And I’m on the last disc of the Douglas Adams book I’m listening to, so…soon. I’ll have plenty to review next week. My boyfriend and I also successfully had our first family get-together in our new place, so much of my free time was spent planning and cleaning up for that.
On to the new books. I did give in and buy a couple books online this week. I received two finished books for review thanks to Macmillan. And I received one ARC (unsolicited) from Sourcebooks. And it looks totally amazing. Yay for new books!
The books:

Mask of Shadows
by Linsey Miller
Amid Stars and Darkness by Chani Lynn Feener
Wesley James Ruined My Life by Jennifer Honeybourn
Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally
Once and For All by Sarah Dessen
How was your week in books?

Friday, July 21, 2017

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Angenda by Becky Albertalli

Summary from Goodreads:
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.
I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get to this book. I’m so glad I picked up the author’s newer book on my trip to England and read it relatively right away. Otherwise, who knows how long it would have been before I discovered this greatness? And greatness is what this is.
I knew I would love the writing style because I adored it in the Upside of Unrequited. I was right. I loved the writing style. Though, it was a full 180 degree difference from the other book. The voice was just so, so very different. It was just as honest, believable, and fantastic. It’s just that Simon is so different from Molly. And I wasn’t expecting it to be this different.
I also didn’t exactly fall in love with this book until the second half. I fell in love with Simon immediately. I loved his romantic sarcasm. I loved his honesty. I loved his relationship with his family. I loved his grammatically correct emails. I loved his love of theater and his loyalty to his friends. I just loved him. The whole blackmailing thing wasn’t exactly my favorite plot arc. In fact, I kinda hated it. And I hated all the times Simon almost became friends with Marty.
That being said, I was emotionally destroyed about half way through, like heaving sobs of despair and jaw-dropping astonishment -destroyed. And then I fell in love with the story. I could not believe what had happened. I thought I knew the direction the story was going, and I was wrong. It all got turned upside down, and that’s I guess when I became obsessed. I finished the book in 2 sittings. And I fell in love with Simon even more. He’s so strong, resilient, and loveable, I can understand why his friends can never stay mad at him.
This book is also just so smart, relevant, and powerful. It’s a coming out story, but more than that, it’s a growing up story. Or as Simon so eloquently puts it, “Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it shouldn't be this big awkward thing whether you're straight, gay, bi, or whatever. I'm just saying.” He later explains too that, “But I'm tired of coming out. All I ever do is come out. I try not to change, but I keep changing, in all these tiny ways. I get a girlfriend. I have a beer. And every freaking time, I have to reintroduce myself to the universe all over again.”
This is a book about changing and learning about who you are, and what you can take and what you can’t. My favorite moment is one I don’t think I should quote because it would spoil a lot, but it involves Simon confronting the guy who’s blackmailing him. He stands up to him and really lets him know what exactly it is he’s doing. And I found myself saying out loud, “That’s right!”
This is a coming out story we haven’t exactly had yet. It’s a growing up story and a friendship story, and a falling in love story too. The writing is awesome. The wit and intelligence behind Simon and “Blue,” is just right. The characters were real. The story was heartbreaking and honest. I loved this book. I give it a 10/10.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior by Mark Siegel, Alexis Siegel, and Xanthe Bouma

Summary from Goodreads:
The Five Worlds are on the brink of extinction unless five ancient and mysterious beacons are lit. When war erupts, three unlikely heroes will discover there’s more to themselves and more to their worlds than meets the eye. . . .

The clumsiest student at the Sand Dancer Academy, Oona Lee is a fighter with a destiny bigger than she could ever imagine.

A boy from the poorest slums, An Tzu has a surprising gift and a knack for getting out of sticky situations.

Star athlete Jax Amboy is beloved by an entire galaxy, but what good is that when he has no real friends?

When these three kids are forced to team up on an epic quest, it will take not one, not two, but 5 WORLDS to contain all the magic and adventure!
When I read a review for this one, I knew I’d have to get my hands on it. I ordered a copy for my library, and I was beyond excited to see a blurb on the front cover from Kazu Kibuishi (Amulet author) when it came in. I knew I was going to like it. I wasn’t expecting to love it.
Finally, a book worthy of recommending to kids who loved the Amulet books. There were undertones of Nimona and little nods to Avatar the last Air Bender. But, also, this was its own awesome story. I can't wait for more people to read it. The art in here is almost comparible to the art in the Amulet books, almost.
The story is fantastic. I loved the three very different points of view. The friendship bond that starts is pretty magical. I loved watching Oona come to turns with what her role it. I also loved An Tzu explaining to Oona and Jax how sad other parts of the world are. Jax had some twists to his character. None of them really surprised me, but I can see some kids being shocked in a good way. Also, here’s another made up sport.
There’s a background of war and politics I’m not quite sure of all of the details for. And that’s fine. I’m sure I’ll pick up what I need to as the story continues. The worlds, are all so interesting. There’s developed mythology, legends, and truths here and it’s so much fun reading about what each main character actually believes.
What really holds the whole fun, magical friendship story together though is the art. It’s beautiful. It’s sci-fi, and colorful. It’s bold and cute at the same time. I can see this style appealing to many reluctant readers. This was a fun, fast read. The plot was action packed. The world was fascinating. The characters are still developing and I can’t wait to read more about them. And the art is mesmerizing. I give this a 9/10.

Wednesday, July 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:  Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce  (2/6/2018):
Description from Goodreads:
Arram. Varice. Ozorne. In the first book in the Numair Chronicles, three student mages are bound by fate . . . fated for trouble.

Arram Draper is a boy on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness–and for attracting danger. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram begins to realize that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

In the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never-before-told story of how Numair SalmalĂ­n came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom’s future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies.
Why I’m waiting:
I’ve only been waiting for this book since I was 13 and first read Tamora Pierce. You know, this is only like a 17 year wait –nothing big. Seriously though, I used to go to this author’s website and drool over all the books in her “future works” section. This book was there 13 years ago, and over the years I’d pretty much given up hope of a series about Numair. I just about lost it when I learned this was a for-sure thing, with a cover and everything.
Tamora Pierce is probably the reason I love fantasy so much today. Her books were the first ones I read during class (when I was definitely supposed to be doing something else for my education). I have fond memories of ditching school with a fellow book friend to find her at a signing. I’ve met her several times, and have possibly even asked her about when this book was coming. I cannot wait to read this. Hopefully, my wait is worth it.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Summary from Goodreads:
Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.
I had a feeling I was going to love this one. And I was right. Can we take a moment to look at how adorable the cover is? Basically, I knew I would love this because of the cover. Also, looking at this makes me want Starbucks right now. I also read good review after good review.
I waited in line for 30 minutes to pick out 4 hardcover books that a certain publisher wanted to get rid of before packing up from ALA. I was crossing my fingers this book would be there. It was, and it was a well spent 30 minutes. I must have picked up 3 other books, but I don’t even remember what those were.
This book was a breath fresh air in a land of white YA novels. I loved getting a glimpse into the Indian American teen window. I also loved that the main character was a girl who loved coding. I loved that technology was a part of who she was and that she viewed this as more important than what she looked like. Basically, Dimple was awesome.
Dimple was a character meant to knock down walls. She was not girly enough for her mother. She was kind of picked on be her peers for being different (aka: not white and wealthy). She competed and worked so hard on an app that would actually help people as compared to just entertain them. She stands up to her fears about being on stage in front of people. She lets her friends know when they are being dumb. She lets Rishi know what she’s feeling and what she wants. Basically, I want to be friends with her.
I also loved the romance. I loved how sweet, loyal, and caring Rishi was. I loved how differently the two characters viewed their sense of family obligation. I loved how they both had some things to learn about what family obligation truly means. I loved everything about their hate, turned to friendship, turned to love story.
Both Dimple and Rish are flawed in believable ways. And this made them more loveable. This is a perfect summer read. It’s light, funny, and had me squeeling like a fangirl when things happened that I wanted to happen.
I would have liked to have read more about coding. I read about Dimple’s idea and how she worked on it, but I didn’t really get to see her coding and or find out what about it is so cool to her. I’m also not sure I believe the correlations of talent show winners and insomniacon winners. Like what does one have to do with the other?
All in all, this was a fun, fluffy, squeal inducing romance. I recommend it to all YA contemporary fans. I give it a 9/10.

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Good Week in Books (165)

I had a nice, little book week.
My July has been crazy, and I finally had a weekend off where I wasn’t moving or unpacking or organizing. And, I read a lot. I read 3 books this week. And I loved all of them! I feel like I was in a bit of a reading slump. And slump, no more. I moved in with my boyfriend on July 1st. We are both librarians. I have to say that living with someone who loves and appreciates books as much as I do is quite extraordinary. We spend at least one hour every night just reading together. That being said, it took us weeks to unpack all the books.
I also received 2 new books for review. Thank you, Macmillan for the first books sent to my new place. It was a memorable moment for me.
The lovelies:

Love and Other Alien Experiences by Kerry Winfrey
All the Ways the World Can End by Abby Sher
How was your week in books?

Wednesday, July 12, 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 Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro  (3/6/2018):

Description from Goodreads:
The hotly anticipated final book in the New York Times bestselling Charlotte Holmes trilogy, in which Charlotte and Jamie finally face their longtime enemy…and their true feelings for each other.

It’s been a year since the shocking death of August Moriarty, and Jamie and Charlotte haven’t spoken. Jamie is going through the motions at Sherringford, trying to finish his senior year without incident, with a nice girlfriend he can’t seem to fall for. Until strange things start happening to him. Strange things that might mean nothing at all—or that someone is after him again.

Charlotte is on the run, from Lucien Moriarty and from her own mistakes. No one has seen her since that fateful night on the lawn in Sussex. Charlotte wants it that way. She knows she isn’t safe to be around. She knows that her Watson can’t forgive her.

Holmes and Watson may not be looking to reconcile, but there is someone who wants the team back together. Someone who has been quietly observing them both. Making plans. Biding their time. Someone who wants to see one of them suffer and the other one dead.

In this final explosive book in the Charlotte Holmes trilogy, Holmes and Watson face the ultimate test: they must unravel the case of their lives without unraveling each other.
Why I’m Waiting:
I love these books. I love a girl Sherlock Holmes. I have a fictional crush on Jamie. I need to know what happens next! And wait, March is super far away. How am I supposed to wait that long? Also, I love that the cute covers have remained consistent. Thank goodness. And I love this author even more after hearing her speak in a panel at the Boston Teen Author Festival. I cannot wait for this next one.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, July 10, 2017

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

Summary from Goodreads:
Here is a thing everyone wants:
A miracle.

Here is a thing everyone fears:
What it takes to get one.

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.

Maggie Stiefvater has been called “a master storyteller” by USA Today and “wildly imaginative” by Entertainment Weekly. Now, with All the Crooked Saints, she gives us the extraordinary story of an extraordinary family, a masterful tale of love, fear, darkness, and redemption.
ALA seems to be made for Maggie Stiefvater ARCs. I always manage to pick one up there. My last exerpience was no exception. I just went up to the publisher’s booth, asked for a copy, and was handed one like it was no big deal at all. Needless to say, it was a huge deal for me. I read the two books I brought with me to Chicago, and I needed another one to start on my journey back home and well, this was it.
Maggie Stiefvater is a brilliant writer. She’s most definitely in my top 10 favorite author’s list, maybe top 5. Maybe top 3. She writes amazing character-driven stories. I wasn’t sure how I’d take this one because of all the religious/miracle stuff going on in the plot. But, I should have realized that miracles were just another form of magic. And Stiefvater knows how to write magic really well.
For the skeptics out there, there’s actually not a ton of religion in here.  The Soria family performs and discusses miracles on a regular basis. They refer to themselves as saints. And they are certainly capable of producing some magical feets. But, other than one character who likes to pray and one religious pilgrim, the book doesn’t have a lot of God, Jesus, or even prayer in it at all.  It’s almost as though the performance of miracles is in itself its own religon or belief system.
Add Stiefvater’s lyrical prose to a dark desert setting, and then fill in some top-notch/crazy interesting characters (developed like no other characters can be), and well, you have this book in a nutshell. There’s a little bit of magic, a little bit of love, a little bit of darkness, and lots of family drama.
I read this one slowly, on purpose. I wanted to savor these beautiful words in a savoring kind of way. It also was a slow story with not a ton of plot until the end. So, it’s not for everyone. If you’re a character/setting reader, this is perfect. If you’re a plot-driven reader, you may want to skip this one.
A lot of the main characters (besides the 3 cousins) were adults. It’s not the typical YA novel. I might even feel comfortable shelving this book with adult fiction. There’s physical laborers, radio dj’s, arguing twin sisters, dicey married couples, and so many other interesting characters that I couldn’t even begin to attempt to list them all.
I loved the characters. I loved the setting. I loved the darkness to all the magic/miracles. To achieve a miracle, a pilgrim has to first tackle their worst nightmare. And there are some seriously twisted fears out there. And most of all, I loved the words. I give this one a 10/10.